Cremation or Burial?

Every so often questions arise in our midst, “Why do we insist on burial after death whereas many people around us have their loved ones cremated?”

Rev Rob Visser in Weerklank [Resonance] of March 2020 provides clear and scriptural arguments for maintaining our current practice. Weerklank is the monthly magazine of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, one of the two relatively small bonds of churches with which our Deputies maintain contact.

Below is a translated and somewhat condensed version of his article.

Cremation is becoming more popular in general society. In the Netherlands more people are cremated than buried. [Similarly, 70% of funerals in Australia in 2015 were cremations.] Within our circles some uncertainty may exist about this, making it a good topic for further examination.

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Parenting


Reaching the Heart


When teenagers rebel against our rules and boundaries we are angry, hurt and we may even rave and rant at times, and feel a great deal of self pity. Our world is turned upside down, our happy existence thrown into disarray. We like to blame hormones, outside influences and contacts…but at the root of it is really a sinful heart. And it is not just the teen who has a sinful heart, but we do as well! I have been doing some reading and praying and again been made to see that we as parents are also very much a part of this, and when we feel humbled, we find we need to be humbled even some more!

Teenage years are often spoken of in a negative way, especially by the world around us, and parents see it as a time that they must just ‘survive’ and ‘get through’. This means that parents just want to control and regulate their teen’s behaviour, and if they seem to do the ‘right things’ they breathe a sigh of relief, as it all seems to be well. However, are we then just teaching our teenagers to comply to a set of rules and behaviours that are external, or are we also touching the heart? I’m not saying that we don’t need the rules and regulations as we all know that we need routines and order in our lives (after all, God himself is a God of order!). But we should be careful that these rules are not just external things to be kept. Our heart is at the core of our being; it’s not hormones that rule a teen, but his/her heart!

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Every Congregation’s Battle: Sexual Temptation

Pornographic websites. Indecent apps. Movies with racy content. Chat groups with lewd language. Sexting. Books that entice rather than entertain. Pre-marital sex. Extra-marital sex. The list goes on, but it can be summed up in one phrase: sexual temptation.

The title of this article alludes to, and slightly alters, the title of a Christian best-seller: Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time (WaterBrook Press, 2000). Published twenty years ago by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker, this book has sold more than a million copies. It has also spawned study guides, DVDs, conferences, and other books specifically oriented toward women and teenagers.

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Moses’ mum

Exodus 1 tells us that a new king had arisen in Egypt. Unlike the kings before him he was hostile towards Israel. To contain their growth as nation he made the Israelites perform hard labour. As this had no effect, he instructed the Hebrew midwives to kill all new born baby boys. The midwives, however, outwitted him and so his final desperate instruction was that every son born to the Hebrews had to be cast into the Nile, to drown. It was not a good time for this Levitical couple to get married, for the wife to become pregnant and give birth to a boy, as we read in the next chapter of Exodus. Such, however, was the world that Moses was born into. 

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Practically speaking

There’s a gap between what I know to be true and what I do. I know that I should not be anxious, the Bible reminds me of this command so many times. Yet, when someone I love is finding life difficult or when something is going wrong, I worry. Even though I can call so many different bible verses to mind about why I should not be anxious, when something is hard for someone else, I am anxious. I also know that procrastination is a sin. I believe that every moment is a gift from God and that I live and walk in his presence and am called to do everything to His glory. Yet whenever I am faced with a challenging task or something that is out of my comfort zone I will procrastinate.

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Care of the Aged in a Culture Devoted to Self

Introduction

Parents are a great gift from our heavenly Father. God has given parents an amazing amount of love for their children. Who else would be willing to wake up two or three times a night for the sake of another person over the course of several months? As parents we need an incredible amount of patience and willingness to make numerous sacrifices to provide for our children as they grow up. But the time comes, when the tables are turned. As our parents reach old age, they face many limitations. They can’t see and hear as well. They get various diseases. They experience pain and are limited in what they can handle mentally, physically and emotionally. It is the task of the children then to assist their parents in their old age and ensure that their needs are met. So what does that mean real life?  Let’s first consider the Biblical mandate, and then work that out in our context.

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What a Picture! What a Message!

He wore an ordinary T-shirt, but the printed matter on it was very eye-catching indeed! I was looking at his back first and thought, “What a gruesome picture to wear on your shirt, especially when you are (and he was) a Christian young man!” But then I saw the front of the shirt; it had a similar picture on it, but with a small difference – which made a huge difference!

It happened in the early 1900s that an altar boy accidentally dropped a glass of wine during mass. This happened in a small church in Croatia. The priest became upset, slapped the boy and told him to leave the altar and never come back. The boy never came back, but grew up to become Tito, the communist leader of Yugoslavia.

About the same time another altar boy, Peter John, was assisting a priest at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Illinois. He likewise dropped the glass of wine during Mass, and years later wrote of the experience. Peter John recounted, “There is no atomic explosion that can equal the intensity of decibels in the noise and explosive force of a wine cruet falling on a marble floor of a cathedral in the presence of a bishop; I was frightened to death.” Presiding over Mass that day was Bishop John Spalding. Bishop Spalding looked at the broken glass and kindly said, “Someday you will be just as I am.” Peter John became Archbishop Felton Sheen later in life.

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New Year’s Resolutions

I read a story some time ago about a high school principal. At the beginning of a new year he decided to post his teachers’ New Year’s resolutions on the bulletin board. As the teachers gathered around the bulletin board to read one another’s resolutions, a great commotion started. One of the teachers was complaining: “Why weren’t my resolutions posted?” She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked her resolutions. Sure enough, he had mislaid them on his desk. As he read her resolutions he was astounded. Her first resolution was not to let little things upset her in the New Year.

Or how about this one? A son called his parents from overseas to wish them a happy new year. When his Dad answered the phone, he asked his Dad: ”Well Dad, what’s your New Year’s resolution?” His Dad replied: “To make your mother as happy as I can all year.” When his Mom got on the phone he asked her the same question. His Mom replied: “My resolution is to see that your Dad keeps his New Year’s resolution.”

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The deceiver

The deceiver is a subject that we don’t normally like to talk or write about and when you see the above title you will no doubt shudder. Why write about the deceiver, the devil, our arch enemy? That’s not a nice and pleasant subject you will say. And I agree. You are quite correct, the devil is not nice, never has been nice and never will be nice. That’s also the reason why I wrote his name in the title with a small letter instead of a capital letter, for he doesn’t deserve a capital letter. Sometimes he pretends to be nice but that’s his deceitful character for he is the deceiver and liar from the beginning. We shudder when we think of him. And for that reason it certainly is an awful subject to write about. Most likely that is also the reason why we don’t read much about this topic. Yet we ignore the devil at our peril.

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Mind the Gap

Several months ago, I was reading a book on biblical counselling in the local church and read this sentence: “The church, operating as Christ has intended it, is the best possible place for healing”[1]. In one of the many books that I have been reading, I stumbled across this sentence and it has stuck with me ever since. The church is the best possible place for someone to heal. I read that sentence in June. Since then, I have read a lot more, listened to a whole lot more lectures, podcasts and presentations yet that sentence is still bookmarked in my mind. It is still hanging there.

This sentence stands out in my mind, not just because those words are now scrawled on one of the many sticky notes that can be found on my desk, but because of the questions I have had since reading it. I know the sentence is theologically sound. The questions I have relate specifically to practice: why is this not evident for the FRC? Why is it that so many hurting people look for healing elsewhere? Why do they leave and go to other churches? Why do they seek counsel from professionals without members of their church knowing? If we believe that the church is the best place to find refuge, why are there so many hurting people in our community unable to find shelter and escape from the brokenness of their lives?

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