Tag Archives: death

The Death of Kenny Rogers and the 18th Surgical Hospital, Quang Tri, Vietnam, 1968

I woke up this morning with the sunlight peeking in. The news was announcing the death of Kenny Rogers.

My mind flashed to the first time I ever heard his raspy voice. I was standing on top of a crumbled down wall of an old French fortification just outside of Quang Tri, Vietnam. His voice was coming to us through one inch speakers of tiny transistor radios propped up on those walls. They were tuned to the only station that played our music.

His voice was speaking directly to me and the way I was feeling. “I tripped on a cloud and fell eight miles high. I tore my mind on a jagged sky. I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.”

My condition was not too good. But it was physically better than the G.I.’s we were treating every day, all day. It was the 18th Surgical Hospital, 15 miles from the DMZ. My psychological condition was damaged, shell-shocked with demands for blood and eyes that looked to you to somehow perform a miracle that would bring them back from their fade to the blackness of death. My condition was only bolstered by the smoke of burning grass during all waking hours.

My twelve hour shift ended at 7:00 p.m. Every night we congregated inside and on top of those roofless, crumbled walls, passing joints, trying hard to forget the bloody day’s work, relaxing a bit now, listening to the voice of Kenny Rogers, whose words cut personally into our hearts like a scalpel…

“I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in.
I watched myself crawlin’ out as I was a-crawlin’ in.
I got up so tight I couldn’t unwind.
I saw so much I broke my mind.
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.”

The depressive lyrics were speaking to me, wafting through my injured senses. But we were lucky, blessed really. The soldiers who have fought history’s wars didn’t have the luxury of Kenny Rogers’ voice commiserating their plight. The Romans clashing with the Germanic tribes, the Persians and Greeks, the North and the South—they all did not have Kenny Rogers singing directly to them, saying, “I know how you feel.” So now I commiserate with all the soldiers of history. Their deaths are now forgotten, their slaughter now concealed in names like “the Roman army” or “the Spartans.”

Kenny Rogers first sang to me back in March 1968, a few days before my unobserved 21st birthday. It might have been today’s very date, the day now that Kenny Rogers has died. And as I first heard his voice, I looked up into the heavens, and I asked, “Why?”

My search for the answer to that question began right there in Vietnam. And after many decades of seeking, I have some answers. In God’s plan and purpose, there is a time and a purpose for everything under the heaven. That includes perceived “good things” and “bad things.” There is a time for peace and a time for war. A time for the laughter of life and a time for the moans of death. And our great Creator and Savior rations those times. He uses those times to mold and shape us, like a potter uses a delicate touch at times on the spinning clay. And at other times he smashes it down into a clump, hopefully for re-purposing.

We are either the clay that stands up in our beauty or our ignominy and shouts at our Creator, “What do you think you are doing?” Or we are that special yielding and grateful human being who understands the Master’s touch.

I have learned that our Creator, who knows the number of hairs on our heads, knows what we need and has prescribed the minutiae of every hour, that we “should seek the Lord, if haply [we]  might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17: 27).

There was a time for Kenny Rogers’ voice to speak to us somewhere out there in a land that was far, far away from Mom and Dad and the world we once knew. Time has come for Kenny Rogers’ living voice to cease now. But there is a voice from above, though faint, that is still speaking to us with words that will answer that universal question—“Why?” If we believe that we can hear that voice, we will hear it.     Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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Resurrection of the Dead–Apostles’ Doctrine #5

Vital for Today’s Church

The apostles’ doctrine was the teachings that the early church walked in. Many Christians want what they had, but few in the pews (or pulpits, for that matter) know what those teachings are (Acts 2: 42).

In fact, some will say, We don’t want doctrine; we just want Jesus. Newsflash: You can’t have Jesus without His teachings. For the word for “doctrine” in the Greek means “teachings.” As the apostle states: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). So the doctrine of Christ is vitally important.

And His teachings are plainly listed in the scriptures: repentance from dead works, faith toward God, doctrine of baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, eternal judgement, and perfection (Heb. 6: 1-2). Of course, there are seven of them.

The Resurrection of the Dead

To understand this teaching, we need to remember two things. First, there can obviously be no resurrection without a death. Self-preservation is built into a mortal’s DNA. We want to live forever, but our longings for immortality exist in a clay body that will die. So, ironically, the immortality that we long for will only come as a result of our inevitable death.

We cannot prevent our own demise. We need a Savior. We need One who understands, who has conquered death. We need someone to take our hand and lead us through this minefield of mortality and across the river of death to the green fields of everlasting life. We have that Savior who has tasted death for every man and woman. We see Him now, “who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2: 9).

Second, in this doctrine there are several distinct types of resurrection. We have Christ’s bodily resurrection without which there would be no other resurrections. There is the spiritual side of His resurrection that provides our spiritual resurrection while still in these earthly bodies. There is the resurrection of the souls that lead into “eternal judgment.” And there is the resurrection and restoration of the House of Israel (12 tribes)–the dry bones of Ezekiel receiving life after so long a time. And then there is when we receive our immortal spiritual bodies at the end of this age.

Our Individual Spiritual Resurrection

This spiritual resurrection comes when we believe the following: He took upon Himself our sin, and when He died on the cross, it was our sinful old self dying with Him. Then we believe that we are buried with Him. And when we believe that He rose from the dead, we, too, receive a spiritual resurrection inside our current mortal bodies. We through faith and belief do now walk in “a newness of life.” He provides a new heart and a new spirit through faith where “all things are become new” (Romans 6: 1-11; Gal. 2: 20; Col. 2: 11).

His resurrection provides the way for our spiritual resurrection in Him. For by faith we have now received His Spirit. We are now “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest (down payment) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Eph. 1: 13-14).

What “possession”? Us. We are bought with a price–His blood. He owns us. What “promise”? He has promised us that He would grant us everlasting life if we go with Him on this great spiritual adventure. Immortality is our “inheritance.” He is our Redeemer. He bought us out of the chains of sin and misery. We owe everything to the King.

It is this personal resurrection where we receive a new Spirit while still in these earthly bodies. This admits us into the receiving of our new spiritual bodies at the end of this age. Our earthly bodies can’t handle a fullness of the Spirit. God wants to reproduce Himself; that is His overriding purpose and plan. And He cannot do it in us as long as we are in these mortal bodies. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” There’s that “inheritance” we talked about. Our inheritance is immortality. But we cannot receive it as long as we are in these aging, decaying, curruptible earthly bodies. We need a new spiritual body, a new wineskin, to contain the new wine of His spiritual fullness. Read I Corinthians 15; 35-58, the resurrection chapter, with new eyes. And rejoice knowing that in Him it is all worthwhile. For “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

In the end, these old decaying and aging earthly bodies have got to go. They must die in order to fulfill God’s purpose. He is reproducing Himself–in us.  This is the key to understanding everything else.

[I understand that the riches of His teachings are unsearchable. We haven’t even scratched the surface of the depth and breadth of His doctrine. I am humbled in this attempt to put into English a tiny bit of them. It will take us ages to search His treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Perhaps that is why He is granting us everlasting life].

Kenneth Wayne Hancock

 

 

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“The Truth Shall Make You Free”–Free from What?

These are very famous words of Jesus Christ. They have been spoken in Christian and secular circles for millennia. “If you continue in My word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8: 31-32).

But free from what? Free from stress? Free from debt? Free from worry? Free from a bad work place? Free from what?

Christ was speaking to those who believed on Him (v. 31). The Pharisees overheard His words. They, of course, were looking after the flesh, thinking that Christ was referring to physical slavery. “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man,” they indignantly responded. How are you going to make us free? they asked.

And with those words, soaked in that attitude, they revealed who they really were. They were offspring of Abraham, all right, for he was the father of many nations: nations from his son Ishmael by Hagar, and nations by his sons through Keturah, and nations by his grandsons Jacob and Esau.

If the Pharisees counted their lineage from Jacob/Israel, then they would have surely known that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt for 400 years until the time of Moses. The Holy Bible is after all Israel’s story. Yet, they told Christ that they had never been in bondage.

Because of this confession, they  could not be Jacob/Israel’s descendants. But they could be descended from Esau who was known as Edom. The Edomites  were converted to Judaism in 125 B.C. under John Hyrcanus’ reign  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edom ]. And Esau/Edom assumed the seats of power in Jerusalem, parading around as the chosen people during the next 150 years.

Later in their conversation, Christ would tell these imposters that they were of their “father the devil [who] abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him; he is a liar and the father of it” (8: 44). The devil then is the father of those Pharisees, “which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 2: 9).

So What Slavery Are We Talking About?

Christ was talking to those who believed on Him about the truth making us free. Free from what? Christ clears that up in that same passage. “Whosoever commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8: 34 NKJV). If you sin, then you are a slave, bound in chains to sin. Sin is the master of one who sins. Sin has him in bondage. And the truth will free you from that slavery. The Savior was named Yahshua in Hebrew because “he shall save His people from their sins.”

And yet, most Christians will readily say that they still sin. Some will almost proudly declare their propensity to sin saying, “I am a sinner saved by grace; I sin every day!”

Is that, really, the confession God wants to hear from our lips? Especially when the Spirit speaks and says, “He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin” (I John 3: 5).

“In Him”–Exploring the Phrase

“In Him is no sin.” How can five simple words be so powerful as to cause the reader to examine the very core of their new existence in God?

“In Him.” In Christ. Brothers and sisters, if God is our Father, then God “has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1: 4). Chosen us! We are the elect that He and His apostles speak of all the time. For at the “fulness of times,” God will “gather together in one all things in Christ, even in Him” (1: 10).

It is already done. God has already picked us out of all the human beings on the planet; it is His doing, His choosing, and His electing us–“elect” and “chosen” being translated from the same Greek word. It is God’s plan, and it is already done in His heart and mind. So if we purport to be in Christ, then we simply must get serious about the sin question. We must get this straightened out.

Straightening It Out

Christ has said very plainly that “whosoever commits sin is the slave of sin.” Period. Sin is his slave master. Sin says, Do this, and the slave obeys.

However, “in Him is no sin.” So, because of a lack of teaching on getting rid of the old sinful nature, the Christian is in an existential dilemma. He has been taught just the opposite of what the scriptures say about sin.

He is taught that remorse for past sins equals repentance from sin and that baptism is necessary to join the church. He is not taught that feeling sorry for past sins merely leads us to repentance. Repentance from sins that bring death comes at the cross when our old sinful nature dies with Christ, who was the sacrifice for all of our sins. Christ died; we died. Christ was buried; we were buried. Christ was raised from the dead; we were raised up with Him to walk in “newness of life.”

It is this belief in Christ that lands us in Christ! The death of our sinful nature, the burying of all the guilt and recriminations of our sinful past, and the belief in His word of promise that we now have received a new nature, a new Spirit, a new direction, a new purpose, a new vision through belief that He is raised up in us–it is believing all this that puts us in Him and He in us. Halleluyah! Praise Yah!

Now We Are Free!

Believing all this brings us into Him and in Him. Now, we are free–made free by the Spirit of God that Christ has given us. Free from the slave master Sin. Free! For God has “purged our consciences from dead works to serve the living God.” No more guilty consciences for faults and shortcomings. For God has restored us back into His heart. He knows that our condition is weakness. Yet through His great love and mercy, He has seen fit to impute righteousness unto us. For us believing what the Son of God has done for us, the Father counts us right with Him, righteous in His eyes, on the right side of His ledger. It is God’s gift to us through His great mercy and love, and it is without repentance.

Why does God reckon us righteous? Because we just flat believe Him and what He says He has done for us and His people! Now  1 John 3: 9 makes sense. Read it for yourself. You are free now. For it is all Him, and we are in Him. And we have been in Him since before He founded the worlds.    Kenneth Wayne Hancock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes–A Eulogy

This solemn occasion, in which we gather to bury this loved one, brings the age old question to mind: How do we deal with death?  To be human is to have pondered this inevitable enigma.  The death of someone close to us hurls us into thoughts about our own mortality.  Death is that lonely part of the human journey, the ticket to that solitary ride into the mysterious cosmos and the life beyond.

Death, and how to deal with it, is one of the great themes of literature.  It is the constant concern that motivates thinkers, writers, and philosophers to dive into the depths of the human condition.

We want to know what follows this fragile earthly existence.  What really happens?  Not what this man says nor what that group claims, but what really transpires.  What is the truth concerning that first step beyond this dimension?

Being Christians, we will look to the bestseller of all time, the Holy Bible.  We will look to the ancient Hebrew patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and the Savior Himself for our answers.

What did they say about death?  Not what someone said they said, but what words did they actually write down to explain to us about this experience called death?  Moses reports to us that the LORD (Yahweh in the Hebrew) said to the fallen Adam, “In the sweat of thy face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground, for out of it were you taken.  For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3: 19).  Later in Genesis, Abraham said, Look at me.  Here I am about to speak to Yahweh my Creator, and I am only “dust and ashes” (18: 27).  King David says to God, “You have brought me into the dust of death.”

And some say that that is all there is.  We are born; we walk around the earth for a moment in time; we laugh; we cry, and then we cease to be.  But according to the Hebrew authors of the Bible, that is only half of the story.

Yes, our bodies are composed of dust and ashes.  But another very special ingredient must be added.  Take the dust, mix it with water, and add the special spark of the spirit through the miracle of the Master’s touch, and you have the human being–what the apostle Paul called, “the glory of God.”

“There is a spirit in man…”

The prophet Job confirms this when he writes, “There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty gives man understanding” (32: 18).  Inside this miraculously fashioned body of dust lies a spirit given to us by our Creator through which He enlightens us.  Job goes on and says that God speaks to us “in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then God opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, that God may withdraw man” from his own purpose, and hide pride from man.”

God reaches out to us as we walk “through this valley of the shadow of death.”  Job later explains how our “soul draws near to the grave.”  Then God says to his messengers, “Deliver them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.”

God promises to restore us to our youth if we say to our Maker, “I have sinned, and perverted that which is right…then He will deliver us from going to the pit, and his life shall see the light” (Job 33: 15-28).

Hope in the Resurrection

Who will deliver us from the grave?  2,000 years before the Savior walked the streets of Jerusalem, Job wrote, “For I know that my Redeemer lives,  and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth,” and though my body be destroyed, “yet in my flesh shall I see God” (18: 25-26).

The prophet Daniel confirmed this hope of life after our earthly body passes away.  Michael the archangel told him that the resurrection will take place after the great “time of trouble” that will befall the earth in the latter days.  At that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (12: 1-2).

So, there it is.  In these few passages, we see a resurrection that will lift us up out of the dust of our graves.   The resurrection is our only hope, and that hope hinges on our Redeemer and Savior.  Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
It is now left up to us the living to seek out and find our own way with our Maker.  It is a personal thing.  We all must find the path that leads out of the dust and ashes of death and be reconciled with God.  We can help each other, of course, but we cannot “walk that lonesome valley” for someone else.

And so, now, we commend Scott Kenneth Hancock’s spirit back to the Heavenly Father from whence it came, and in fulfillment of scripture, we place his dust and ashes back into the earth from whence it came.

May God’s grace and mercy help us all on our journey back to the heart of God.  Amen.

[Remembering my Dad with these words spoken over his grave ten years ago.]        Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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Immortality–Bringing “Life and Immortality to Light”

To live on.  To not have to die.  It is the common thread tying almost all cultures, religions and philosophies together.  Is it not what every nation has clamored for?

The furtive longings of a billion souls from a thousand civilizations have whispered their desire for it.  The baked clay tablets of Mesopotamia speak of it.  Fragments of Egypt’s fragile papyrus pages still share the dream.   The Gilgamesh Epic of Babylonia around 2,200 B.C. chronicles the hero’s quest for immortality.  The ancient Greeks thought that immortality was attained through courageous effort on the battlefield.  Shakespeare imagined immortality coming through the longevity of the lines he wrote.  The Philosopher’s Stone, with its lead-into-gold alchemic dream, symbolized transcending our leaden mortal existence into a golden immortal elixir of life and rejuvenation.  Time would fail us to include the Egyptians’ mummies, the Indians’ nirvana, and on down to our present day where actors and directors try to immortalize themselves in celluloid.

Each of these attempts have flickered and failed.  But the thirst for immortality will not be quenched.  Is it not the most important possession one could ever attain in this life?  To live on and silence the tears shed at your passing.  To trump and triumph over Death.  To laugh at Death’s rude intrusion into all you hold dear.  To negate Death’s mayhem.  To expose him to be a liar when he says that your expiration date is a welcomed conclusion to the human condition, and his boast that he is a friend to the infirm and decrepit.

And Then a Man Came on the Scene

Though a universal longing, all these attempts have collapsed in the dusty halls of darkness.  And then a man came on the scene some 2,000 years ago–a man said to have “brought life and immortality to light.”  He brought good news, announcing the way to conquer death.  He would know, for He defeated Death.  For He was raised from the dead Himself after “three days and three nights” in the grave, seen by hundreds of witnesses.

“After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1: 3, NIV).  He taught them during that time how to become citizens of His immortal kingdom.  In a word, He taught them how to become immortal.  He, of course is the Savior of mankind, known to the English speaking world as Jesus Christ and known to those very early disciples as Yahshua, which means in the Hebrew, Yah is the Savior.

He shared His Hebrew name with the Hebrew patriarch Joshua, the Anglicized rendition of Yahshua.  Many biblical scholars admit that their names are interchangeable [http://www.blbclassic.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2424&t=KJV].

In fact, the angel of Yahweh told Joseph to name Him  “Yah is Savior” because “He shall save His people from their sins.”

The Words He Spoke…

Now many have a problem with Him, but all that know of Him will at least say that He is a wise man, a great teacher, and a prophet.  If He was such a great prophet and spiritual teacher, then why don’t those same people believe His words?

And it is the words He spoke about life and immortality that tests us in our search.

What did He teach?  He taught us that the Father Creator is an invisible Spirit, that He is Love, that the Father has a kingdom and a government, that there is a way to enter that kingdom of God and become the children of the Father God, and that He and only He is the way to eternal life, which is immortality.

He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14: 6).  Anybody who comes up another way is a “thief and a robber.”

He also taught a duality–that there was an enemy Satan, who has a kingdom here on earth, and that he and his evil spirits are warring against God and His children’s kingdom.

Christ taught that sin is the breaking of the Ten Commandments (I John 3: 4-6).  And we humans break the law early on in our lives because of the old nature we are born with.  And He taught that it is this sin nature in us that causes our death.  We are mortal because of the sin within our hearts.  Sin brings on death.  Plain and simple.  “But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin” (v. 5).

“He shall save His people from their sins,” said the angel.  He “takes away our sins,” says the apostle John.  So if Christ takes our sins away, then we are free from sin, which opens up the way to immortality because it is sin that brings on our death.

Summing up, Christ “has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light” (II Tim. 1: 10).  He has “abolished death.”  He has abolished death by abolishing sin in our lives, and thus, He brings immortality to us.

He came to “save His people from their sins” by destroying sin in their lives.  But how does He do this?  It is through His death, burial and resurrection.  He took on our sins upon His sacrificial body, and He died.  He died, we died; our old sinful self died.  He was buried; we were buried.  He raised from the dead; we are raised from the dead–by faith in His resurrection [for much more on how He takes away our old sinful heart, see Romans 6: 1-12 and https://immortalityroad.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/life-out-of-death-the-ultimate-paradox/ ].

So the Savior destroyed the sin in our life, and thereby destroyed death, thus bringing “life and immortality to light.”  He destroyed sin and death, “for the wages of sin is death.”  Destroy sin and you destroy its after effects–death.

But He also said that most would not comprehend and do His teachings.  He said that broad is the way that leads to destruction and many will enter that wide gate.  But narrow is the way to eternal life, and few will find it.

And that last clause–“and few will find it”–should give us great pause.  He said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”  Oh, to be one of His chosen, chosen to sit with Him on His throne, helping Him rule the nations during the greatest reign of peace this earth has ever seen–ruling alongside of Him for 1, 000 years, ruling as one of the immortal princes and princesses in His kingdom.   Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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A Lesson in Wisdom

Who is that one person that you love so much that you would give all your assets and possessions, even your own soul, so that they could live on for ever and never have to taste death, never have to lie there cold and ashen, prepared for burial?

We all have someone, surely, that we would give everything to redeem them from the inevitable decay that awaits them in the belly of the earth.

But we cannot make them live on for ever.  We do not possess the power to save them.  They will die; the graveyards are full of people that someone loved dearly yet could not prevent their demise.

I remember the scene at the graveyard.  Most of the mourners had left.  Hugging the casket of the 20 year old young man was his grandfather, sobbing and moaning, “But I loved him.  My darling boy.  But I loved him!”  And in that instant I knew that he would have given his very own life in exchange for his grandson’s.  But he could not.

We mortal human beings cannot redeem, for any price, someone that we love.  Our riches cannot be brought and given to God as a ransom paid in order to purchase the life of our loved one and thus prevent them from dying.

It is only God Almighty, the Giver of life to our loved one, who will take back that life at a certain time.  We are not in control of life or death.  God is, and He will take our lives back to Himself. And there is nothing we can do to alter this fact.  Rooms full of gold cannot purchase a ticket out of death.

And God has ordained this so, as a lesson for us to learn, a lesson to teach us wisdom and understanding, a lesson for all people in the world, rich and poor and high and low.  The lesson lies in us facing up to this truth: that God is sovereign and in complete control of our scheduled descent into the dusty tomb of the earth.

As we contemplate this, it is God’s hope that we distill drops of sorely needed wisdom, which is the “fear of the LORD (Yahweh).”  Wisdom is being in reverential awe of this God, who is in control, who has given us a short time in these earthly bodies to learn of Him and His love, who will someday soon take the spark of His spirit back, and our fragile shells will fall to the ground, taking nothing with them, no matter how richly arrayed they once were.

Wisdom is being in awe of Him.  And understanding is “to depart from evil.”  He hopes that these thoughts will awaken His people to His saving power, for He is the only power in the universe that can and has trumped death.

And when we realize all this, that He has already paid the price for our resurrection, then this meditation on our weakness and His power over death will have done its job on us.  For the above is the lesson found in Psalm 49.  Read it all again.  It is addressed to you, to all of us.  “Hear this, all peoples; give ear, all inhabitants of the world…my mouth shall speak wisdom.”      Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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“There’s Nothing in It for You”–It Is All for God, Who Is Love

There was an old saying at the mission that rings true now some 40 years later.  “There’s nothing in it for you.”

I didn’t really understand then just how profound that simple statement was.  But Time is a faithful teacher.  And as I look now in the mirror and see a much more wrinkled image with a head laden with a heavy hoary frost, I take more time to contemplate the increasing fragility of my physical state.  It seems that the reality of my own mortality crowds daily into my thoughts.

In that mirror I also see in my own eyes how the years have neutralized the piss and vinegar that I was so full of back then in my 20’s and 30’s.

As my earthly frame grows weaker, that old saying–how that there’s nothing in this walk with God for you–rings truer.  It is making so much more sense now as I am staring down the time when I just may have to depart this old earthly body before Christ returns to this earth to set up His kingdom.

For, you see, in those younger years I thought that surely I would be alive when the LORD would come back.  Christ did say that “whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11: 26).  And, that “there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Mt. 16: 28).  Those destined not to taste death would have to be the generation of believers alive when He returned to earth.  Anyway, I always thought that I would be one of them.

But now, as the years tick on, and my body creaks with age more every day, I must take this into real consideration–this “falling asleep,” this “shuffling off of this mortal coil.”

And, yet, I now realize that God has this death of the physical body hanging over us for a reason.  We know that He gives life and He takes life.  Our very breath is in His hand.  And it is this impending destiny with dust that helps us understand the futility of living for one’s self.  The self just cannot see us through, for our earthly bodies must betray us, for that is the very nature  of the physical body formed of the dust of this planet.  The house of dirt was made for us by God on purpose not to last.  It is temporary housing.

God fashioned our bodies to be as ephemeral as butterfly wings.  He deliberately formed them to be fragile in hope that we might sense someday our own vanity before death came knocking.  As we see our bodies decay and crumble with age, He hopes that we will see the futility of living for the self.

Our fragility betrays our pretentious egos that always seem to shout, “Hey, everybody, seriously, I really am something!”  But that self-centered imagination breeds the ultimate deception, for “when a man thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6: 3).

And we have all been guilty of that thought; it is in the spiritual genes of old man Adam and his offspring.  Yes, we are initially made that way by the Creator in hopes that we would see the purposelessness of selfish thinking and be humbled so that we could all realize one truth: Every man is created for only one thing, and it is not for self-glorification; it is for God-glorification.

And if we are blessed to be chosen by Him to reveal this truth to, then we are coming much closer to where we need to be in our walk on earth before our Creator.

There’s nothing in it for you.  For everything in the vastness of the universe and here on earth is for God and His pleasure.  This is the great sticking point with natural-minded man, who earnestly believes that he is the center of the cosmos.  Secular humanism is the new many-headed false god.  “Thou shalt not have any other gods before Me.”  Especially our self.

“For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11: 36).  Breaking it down, all things are of Him; they came from Him, and through His creative power all things (including us) exist.  And in the end, all things are created by Him for His pleasure and glory.

For instance, Him delivering us from utter degradation and destruction, and us returning and thanking Him and telling others about His saving love and power–He loves that and gets glory out of it.

“All things were created by Him, and for Him” (Col. 1: 16).  But God does not become a pompous little jerk like natural man when he gets power.  No.  God is LOVE.  He created us so that He could bring us to a place spiritually, where His essence and nature (which is Love) could be multiplied–eventually to fill the whole universe with LOVE!  Our gratitude toward Him for our deliverance from sin is the fertile soil where the seed of Love can grow.

And God-in-human-form is our example and showed us the way.  Jesus (Yahshua) tasted death for us all so that we would not be banished to the dusty tombs of oblivion.  “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory” (Hebr. 2: 9-10).

That’s the plan.  It is all for Him, so that He may glorify those who realize that it is all for Him.  He will share Himself and all His glory with the overcomers, even to the point of sharing His throne with them (Rev. 3: 21).

It is all for the Creator.  When we turn that page in the book of our minds, then joy and serenity will overtake us, for we will have embraced the heart of God with arms of humility, born of His true nature, Love.

{For more on this subject, check out this article:  https://immortalityroad.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/gods-endgame-where-this-life-on-earth-is-leading-us/ }

Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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Borderline Personality Disorder–Reaching Out to the Depressed–Christ and the Man-Who-Lived-in-the-Tombs-and-Cut-Himself

The other day I happened onto a blog by a person who says she has BPD–“borderline personality disorder and other mental illnesses as well.”  As I read her post entitled “I Am Worthless, Pointless, and Hopeless,” I saw how her condition was destroying her.  She confessed that she was contemplating suicide and showed photos of her cutting herself with a razor blade and yearning to end her emotional misery through taking her own life.

I immediately thought of the time that Christ encountered “a man with an unclean spirit, who was dwelling in the tombs.”  He was “always, night and day…in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.”  Christ went on to cast the unclean spirit out of the man, who later was found “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind.”  The man even wanted to go with Him.  But Christ told him to “tell them how great things the Lord has done for you, and has had compassion on you” (Mark 5: 1-19).

And so I was moved to write this comment to her post: 

My darling girl,

There is another way to end all the pain and misery besides offing the physical body.  The death of the old self, the old ego, the old nature that we were born with, that old blue monkey crouched on our shoulder, screaming in our ear to do bad things to ourselves and others–yes, that selfish old adamic nature must die–not the body, mind you–the old heart inside of us, the old spirit that we have always been–that must die. 

I searched for 5 years desperately seeking solace and was led to the pits of nothingness.  Then, miraculously, while I tripped out on “sillysideburns” one day, it came to me: The old self had to die, not the body…I studied all the philosophies and world religions and did not find out how it is done.  

But then,  a wise man, seeing my plight, told me, “You need to die with Christ on the cross.  Just let all the bad inside of you go, by revelation, up on that cross, and let your old selfish self die.  When He died, you died.  When He was buried, you were buried, and when you truly believe that He arose from the dead, then you will arise from the dead, too.  And you will  walk in a newness of life.  You can read all about it in Romans 6 in your Bible.”

“Why doesn’t the churches teach this?  Because I know they don’t.”

The wise man replied, “Most of them don’t have the truth about real deliverance from sin, which like a serpent, coils around our inner being and has us enslaved. But this truth whereof I speak will deliver you, once and for all.  You are enslaved for now.  Follow my words and you’ll be free from the bondage you are suffering.”

And so, after reading all the books from the East and the West with no surcease from the emotional pain I was experiencing, I did it.  And a complete change happened in my life.  The drink, the smoke (of all kinds), the obsession with music, the womanizing, the cursing, the depression, et al, left.  And it has never come back in all these 40 years. 

I hear your cry, little one.  Read more here on my blog, ImmortalityRoad.wordpress.com
You are not alone…  Wayneman

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“The LORD Has Called Me from the Womb”–On My Cancelled Appointment with Death*

I almost died in a car wreck the other day.  I was on the four lane topping a hill, when I looked for just a half-second at the radio.  And as I crested the rise, something had me look up, and there the pickup truck was, moving slowly in front of me.  I swerved to the left  just in time to miss it.

The end of the trailer was the heighth of my windshield.  A decapitation would have been the way I went out of this world.

I immediately knew that a higher power wanted me to live some more days on earth.  I thanked God right there for quickening in me the impulse to look up.  I could not see the truck and trailer, but He did.  I got this sensation that God really was watching over me.

A couple of days later, I opened the Good Book, and it literally fell open to Isaiah 46: 3.  I started reading: “ “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth.  Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

Wow!  I looked in the mirror at my gray hair, and thought, He has always had His hand on me.  I flashed on some of the close calls with death–the Viet Nam War days of hell, when the mortars stopped their ungodly loud footsteps just before they fell on me–the times in my youth when I drove drunk all over the road and somehow did not kill myself or anyone else. 

And then I realized that He has held on to me since I was conceived!  He not only knew me, but has protected me and lifted me up since my conception in my mother’s womb!  He has carried me since my birth into this cruel old world.  And, yes, even to my old age, gray hair and all, He is still sustaining me.  For He created me and He promised in this passage of scripture that He would carry me.  “I will sustain you, and I will rescue you.”  He really has all my life.

Then I looked again and saw that this passage is written to many other people, not just to me.  He is saying this  to the whole House of Jacob and all who remain of the House of Israel.  I know through my studies that the House of Jacob/Israel consisted of all twelve tribes.  And that ten of those tribes were lost after they were carried away captive around 700 B. C.    And I know that the Savior Himself  700 years later said that He was sent to these “lost sheep of the House of Israel.”  The apostle James writes his letter “to the twelve tribes scattered abroad.”  I also know that the other two tribes were Judah and Benjamin, who were the Kingdom of Judah, and that they were not lost. 

The point is that God knows us from our beginnings.  He knows us personally, and He has sustained and helped us our entire lives–for a purpose–His eternal purpose.  Now we must fully believe this His love for us, and we must seek out just what purpose He has for us. 

His kingdom is literally coming to earth.  Christ is the King of kings.  He is “bringing many sons unto glory.”  Of course, He will look after them from their conception.  He has a plan for them.   KWH

*Isaiah 49: 1

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Eulogy for My Mother

[I spoke these words at the graveside service]

My mother passed away June 6, 2011.  Louise Billups was 85 years old.  For those of us who knew her, we lost a great treasure and a walking, breathing example of love, caring, and kindness, not only to her family and friends, but even to strangers.

I remember the time about three years ago in August, Mom and her husband Marion were riding back from town and saw a poor elderly man pushing his delapidated bicycle loaded down with all his worldly possessions up Whetstone Hill on Highway 60.  She said, “We gotta help him.”  So they went home and returned fifteen minutes later with a quart of good old homemade southern sweet iced tea and a sandwich for the man.  That was my Mom.

There’s an old proverb in the Bible: “It is better to be in the house of mourning than the house of mirth and laughter.”

I’ve often wondered why?  Because when a loved one passes away, we mourn for them. Our hearts become broken. The Bible also states that God is near to them of a broken heart. He is that invisible Spirit of Love that penetrates the cracks of our broken hearts and heals us and helps us. God can only get closer to us if we are humbled.

And a death of a loved one humbles us. And so God is near.

We are gathered here now to pay our last respects to a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, a dear and kind friend, and most important, to our spiritual sister in Christ. And spiritual is the key. For the loved one that we all now mourn was a kind and loving spirit who inhabited this earthly body laying before us.

But this today is not the end. The Holy Scriptures says that we shall see her again–not in this old body but in a new, wonderful, everlasting spiritual body that will look like her in her vibrant prime.

We will see her again, for Christ has promised a new body for his followers upon His return to rule this earth for a thousand years. And so, let us take solace that her present pain and suffering has at last ended and her spirit now rests in God’s bosom. Without this truth, we wander around lost in not only sadness for this departed soul but in the solemn inevitability of our own mortality. Our resurrection with Christ upon His return is our only hope to escape the dusty tombs of oblivion.

But now today, we all have lost a priceless treasure in her departure, and that is Christ’s spirit of love actually walking around in another human being. That was my mother and spiritual sister in Christ.

My mom left us here on earth a few days ago. Her spirit went back to the Father who created her long ago. All that remains now lying here is her earthly body, a temporary vessel that God provided her to love through. Mom manifested the love of Christ by giving all to others.

And yet we can’t help but mourn the passing of this dear one, my very own mother, the vessel God used to usher in my entrance into this cruel old world. And she nourished me on her knee with warmth and food and milk and ran with me through the grass and held my hand as I grew up. And most importantly, she fed me the milk of God’s word which nourished my embryonic spirit within me when I was just a little boy.

And that Word she shared with me stayed with me. “Train up a child the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I strayed in my youth far from the Lord, but those words she had shared about Him were like a fish line and hook in my jaw that the Great Heavenly Fisherman held and kept reeling me into His boat, slowly but surely.

That was the kind of mother I was blessed with, who never gave up on me, even as I squandered my youth on drink and smoke. But she was always there to encourage me. For her testimony was such that on the very hour that I came into this world in that hospital in Long Beach, she had a vision from God that her son would serve Him.

I am her lasting legacy, for we share the same light and same truth: That there is but one God. That the Great Spirit of Love, the Creator of heaven and earth, came down and walked among us and sacrificed that vessel so that we all could be redeemed from the wasted wreckage of a sinful life… She knew God by His original Hebrew name–Yahweh–that in His name is power and healing and answers to prayer…that He is returning to this earth bodily to establish His government where He, the Christ, will rule and reign in the Kingdom of God, literally here on earth…that He is coming soon, after Satan sets up a counterfeit one world government…and then, the good news, Christ returns and begins His reign over all earth…

These and many more things my mom believed, and I will miss those hours of fellowship studying the Word together….But now we must put her body back into the earth from whence it came. But we are not burying her, for she is not here; she is a spirit now at total peace with her Father.

So help us, Father, through this time of passing. I pray not for my mother, for she is with you. Instead, I pray for all of us who are still on our journey back to You. Be with us, O God. Help us, for we are weak and need your strength. Give us all eyes to see and ears to hear your truth. Thank you. We ask in your name, Amen.

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