Thursday, January 21, 2010


All lives on Earth shall pass and end,
In few or many years,
But though the earthly bodies walk
No more this vale of tears,
The minds that know, the souls that feel
Lie not where our bones fall.
When Jesus Christ comes back to Earth
They shall rise, one and all.

Some mockers ridicule Christians for using what they call a euphemism, a word meant to make something more pleasant than it is. They describe it as escapism, saying that Christians are unable to face up to the fact of death. To them, it sounds brave and honest to call death by that name, and to talk bluntly about it saying that when you're gone, you're gone: get used to it.
The mistake is theirs. To say that someone has 'passed on' might sound gentler than saying 'died', but the reason for putting it that way is to be accurate about what happens. When a human spirit leaves that person's body, then the body ceases to function, and that can give the appearance of ceasing to exist if you only accept the existence of what you can see. But that spirit has not ceased to exist. It never will. That spirit has gone somewhere else. It waits, and at some future time the Maker of this world is going to come back to it, in One of His Three Persons. That person is God the Son, who we know as Jesus Christ. So it is actually saying it like it is when you talk about 'passing on'. The real essence of the person, their mind and feelings and consciousness, have passed on from this Earth to the next stage of their existence. So it is no euphemism. It is stark truth. I say 'stark' because some people don't want to know! It might be easier for the scoffers if they did cease to be at all. Then there would not be a time to stand before the Throne of God. There would be no need to have to admit that they rejected Him, and trashed the priceless gift He held out.
On the positive side, if people find comfort in saying 'passed on', the God bless them. Those who left this Earth in faith and believing are waiting down the line.
Like anyone else, I've been bereaved from time to time. The longer you live the more it has happened. So like so many others I can feel the pure joy of knowing that we will meet again, those of us still here and those of us who have fallen asleep in the Lord and are waiting. The time is coming when there will be no more pain of parting.
Human beings seem to think that what they can't see they don't have to think about. That might be why they think if they throw something in the sea it no longer has any effect on anything. "Out of sight, out of mind," is an admission of the mind's tricks on itself rather than a sensible statement of fact about life. But few people see their own brain, yet they believe they have on. Likewise we can't see our own heart, yet we know we have one. Okay, so the clever cynics believe that the existence of the heart can be proved. They then challenge the believer to prove the existence of God. Enter the Word in Romans 1 verse 20: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen,". God's reality is clear if you look at the world with an open mind and heart.
That is why we worship and celebrate Him. He didn't leave us to perish and return just to dust. And He didn't leave us to suffer what we bring on ourselves. He rescued all who believe and gives us everything - without end. Forever.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Not the end.

Though when death comes, and we decay,
And our bones scattered be,
Though they may lie beneath the sky,
Or covered by the sea,
When back to Earth Lord Jesus comes,
The Holy One descend,
Then all who lived shall rise and see -
The grave is not the end!

That's not a masterpiece, but it came to me recently. It's worth reminding myself. John Donne put it in far better form when he wrote "Death be not proude". He tells death to give up its pretensions. It is not a condition which captures people. It is an event which they (we!) go through. The spirit leaves the body. And when that happens, even though physical remains may be scattered and lost, the spirit remains intact and alive. It is immortal. Sometime in the future the day will come when Jesus returns to Earth, and then....
Some years ago I heard a body builder who did some male modelling say: "If you've got something, why not show it off? We'll all be dust in two hundred years."
He reckons, does he? Some people might be better off if we were only unfeeling dust. Then there would be no consequences to face.
When the souls of all who ever lived rise from bodily death, we stand before God and it will be known: who believed God, believed Jesus, and was given the collossal blessing of pardoning for all wrong doing? And who thought it was all rubbish, and ignored Jesus' calling? Come to that, who am I to get up on a high horse about it? The answer: someone who was saved, even though I did not deserve it; and the least I can do is tell anyone else who will listen.
We won't be dust. The greatest part of our existence will start then, and it goes forever. The grave is NOT the end. It is the beginning. So we need to get it right. We need to know how we escape the hurt anger of God asking,'what did you do with the life I gave you?'
I can still cringe inwardly thinking of some of the stupid, mean, selfish or plain nasty things I've done in life, and ask God for forgiveness. It's probably a good thing, so I don't get complacent and forget that I need pardoning - big time. And it would even be vain to talk as if my sins were worse than lots of other peoples'. But waiting beyond this life is either non-ceasing joy or non-ceasing regret. The grave is only the departing point from this earth. When the women went to Jesus' tomb to find His body the angel said that He was not there, because He had risen. Now Jesus is a special and unique case; but He made the way for resurrection, and in a sense it is true to say at any persons' grave that they are not there. The earthly remains are still there, but the real them, the spirit, their real identity is not. It has passed on.
A Christian brother I met recently shared this. The letters BIBLE can stand for
For our own good we need to know certain things before we do so: who Jesus is, and why we need to know and follow Him.
That way the grave leads to entry to God's Kingdom, not to rejection from it.
The grave is not the end.
That is why Jesus came - to tell us.
That's why we celebrate Christmas. He came to save us.