Memorials Made of Stone

Joshua 4:1-9 KJV  And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,  [2]  Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,  [3]  And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.  [4]  Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:  [5]  And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:  [6]  That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?  [7]  Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.  [8]  And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.  [9]  And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.

Today is Memorial Day. A day of remembering those who died for our freedom and way of life. They fought in wars on foreign soil. Many of them returned home. Many remain on those foreign grounds, buried in military cemeteries.

I have been following someone on Twitter that I do not know. I believe I know who he is connected to, but regardless of who he is, he has been sharing a few things of great importance these past couple of days. He has just returned home from one of those foreign places where our soldiers fought and died. I collected his Tweets and share them with you now.

  1. I heard the voice of freedom loudly – among the silent white crosses far from America
  2. Nothing like a walk among white crosses beyond the Atlantic & Pacific…
  3. They rest beneath white crosses far from home- where soft grateful breezes blow
  4. Their price of freedom never goes down
  5. A hero does not die alone. They are buried with their dreams.
  6. My uncle John helped raise the stars and stripes on a bloody day@ IWO JIMA
  7. Honoring a weary soldier I call dad. My hero
  8. Germany -gr8 friends, leaders & services & memories- home 3 hours:)
  9. Miss Liberty -I shed tears of red white & blue landing in NYC, Monday from Germany

It has been said that “No victories will ever be won without a fight.”  Victories often bring back vivid memories, and we celebrate the returning heroes. Sometimes the heroes do not survive, as we are reminded even today with our soldiers returning from the war in the Middle East. Yet, war is fought all the time, everyday and on every continent. Whether the war is a physical battle with trained soldiers and awesome equipment, or a spiritual war waged by Christians everywhere, there are victors and victims. Heroes, some still alive with us, and others gone. We must remember those who have so valiantly waged war, giving honor where honor is due.

Memorials are often erected at a sight of a battle to honor those who fought. Other times they are erected at some central point where we can easily gather and give honor for the blood, sweat, and even the tears, that were shed for all of us.

In our scripture, we see the nation of Israel about to accomplish the culminating event of the battle that had been raging for a generation. Victorious over the slave masters, God has brought His people out of bondage and to the land of promise. Land that had been “given” to Israel generations before. Before they arrive into this land flowing with milk and honey, twelve men (one from every tribe) have been sent to spy out the land. The majority of the ten spies that bring back a frightful report rule over the minority of the two that declared, “We can win!” The majority report sends fear through out the people and the positive report of the minority is quickly squelched. God causes them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, until that generation of unbelievers have died off and the young generation has been toughened to enter into that land of promise.

Now the leader, Joshua, one of the two with a positive report, is ready to lead them into promise. As with Moses, they stand at a water location that they must cross. As with Moses, God will part the waters to allow them to cross on dry land. Yet, God tells them to gather twelve stones out of the Jordan and prepare them for a Memorial that future generations will be able to see and know the story of God’s hand upon their lives.

Often, we have gone through trials, sometimes generational times of trials, that have toughened us. Perhaps we have never thought of them as battles, but in reality, they are wars that we fight to gain victory over. If you have gone through these tough times do not hide from them, or be ashamed of them, but rejoice because you have ultimately achieved the victory you sought. These times are not to be despised, they are to be remembered. Memories are our memorials to the tough times. Without sharing the victory report to others, then the battle lessons are not learned by the next generation. Do not despise or belittle these times, but share them with the next generation so they will comprehend and grow from the memory.

Memorials have purpose. They remind of sacrifices, losses, and victories. For Israel, there is a secondary purpose for this Memorial Made of Stone: Deuteronomy 6:12 KJV  [12]  Then beware lest thou forget the LORD,which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

The purpose of this memorial was to give voice to the concern of God. It is not only a visual reminder, but when future generations ask about the purpose of the memorial, then a voice tells them of the battle, and the victory. In others words, never forget where you came from and what God has done for you.

The Bible is full of positive memorials that were created by the actions of those we read about in the sacred book.

  • Noah’s Memorial was an Ark.
  • Abraham’s Memorials was found in his altars.
  • Isaac’s Memorials flowed from his wells.
  • Moses’ Memorial was the Law (which included the Tabernacle and its furnishings).
  • Caleb’s Memorial was a mountain discovered in his youth but captured in his old age.
  • David’s Memorial was a God-sized heart.
  • Nehemiah’s Memorial was a rebuilt wall.
  • Zerubabel’s Memorial was a rebuilt Temple.
  • Jeremiah’s Memorial was a river of tears that flowed from his head.
  • Ezekiel’s Memorial was a huge burning wheel that magnified God.
  • Cornelius’ Memorial was alms and prayers.

But just as there were men who memorials that placed them in immortality, there were others whose memorials hurled them into spiritual oblivion.

  • Cain’s Memorial was of the lesser sacrifice of crops from the earth.
  • Achan’s Memorial was of perishables in garments and gold.
  • Esau’s Memorial was a full stomach and a wasted birthright.
  • Solomons’ Memorial was the wisdom wasted on fools.
  • Zedekiah’s Memorial was iron horns in dishonest hands.
  • Judas’ Memorial was a bag of money that would buy a few trinkets.
  • Herod’s Memorial was a fling with immorality that would rot his guts out.

All in all, one must understand that we are building memorials with our lives. Our challenge is bring about the Memorial that will stand positively over time for subsequent generations to be able to give honor to the life that you lived.

Why are Memorials so important?

  • They would become important time marks in their memory.
  • God did not want Israel to forget. . . . We often forget what we hear but rarely do we forget what we see.
  • The stones would prompt their memory of what God had accomplished in the past.
  • These stones would cause the present generation to ask questions about the previous generation.
  • These stones would help Israel to see the power of God’s miraculous power and grace in the past.
  • Because it is through others that some of our faith has been drawn out.
  • Because we cannot afford to forget.
  • Because forgetting opens us up to failure.

There is power to memorials that support “us” more than it does for “them.”

  • Hebrews 10:33 KJV  Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
  • 1 Corinthians 4:9-10 KJV  [9]  For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.  [10]  We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

Regardless of how “others” look at us, we must note that our lives are full of “memorials” written by how we live. What will future generations think, or know, of who you are? I would hope that Christians would look to some important attributes of life and reflect on how the future will consider who we are.

  • Prayer, Holiness, Righteousness, Worship, Doctrine, Faithfulness
  • Heritage that we carried forward, as well as Heritage that we leave behind us

Each of us have Memorials written by the lives of others. We should memorialize them today.

I have often shared of my Grandmother, who I only remember as an “older woman.” Even from childhood videos I see her as looking elderly. In my possession I have one of her last prayer lists that she used while sitting in her little Bentley rocker in her living room. At advanced age, she would pray through those double column, legal size, three pages of names. In these pages I find my family listed. Knowing her faithfulness to God, I know this prayer warrior prayed for me, my wife and my children. Every day. I publicize this as a memorial to my Grandmother, Audrey Walters Simmons.

Let us not forget what the Memorials mean to us. Carry forth a stone from their lives and build a memorial for future generations. Who do you have in your life that has helped to make you the person you are today. Build a memorial for you and future generations. Here are a few stones in my Memorial.

  • I remember Buddy Jean preaching a three week revival – from which I was baptized in water and spirit.
  • I honor several important pastors in my life who honed me to be all that I could be: Bishop James Kilgore, Daniel Calk, Bishop Frank Jones
  • I have great memories of many Sunday School teachers, but Annadeen Creel was my favorite during the time I was becoming a teenager. Not only could she sing beautifully, she had a record library that we could check out each Sunday and some of my favorite melodies were found in her library (Conquerors Quartet, Parker Trio).
  • I honor those who helped me craft my sermons into more worthy platforms of sharing with others. My brother, Ken Gurley, has written and shared with me some really great messages that have helped me tremendously. Brett Jones is still my favorite preacher and I listen to him just about every week. From both of these men I have learned a lot.
  • I honor my wife, my partner of nearly 37 years. Brenda is the love of my life and my faithful friend through all the times of our lives that have been good and bad. We are over halfway to our goal of 65 years of marriage.
  • I honor my children. Jason, the first born, is my joy. A techie that has exceeded my 33 years of tech-i-ness, he is constantly showing me the creative side of his world and I love to follow his ability. Elizabeth, (I can never call her Liz) is my sweet bundle of joy. Her love reflects back to me every time we talk, or text, or email… To both of them I honor their choice of spouses What wonderful mates they have in their lives!
  • I honor my siblings. I have already mentioned Ken. I have truly been blessed by a stalwart and faithful brother, Vaughn. He has been there to help me, not only as a brother who is a “jack of all trades,” but a confidant during some trying times. I love and honor my sister, Teresa. My youngest sibling. She has been faithful through tough times and has shown me a side of “steel” that can conquer and still be a sweet person.
  • I honor my dad George Gurley. To this day I enjoy visiting with him from afar, even when he’s quick to hand the phone off to mom. I remember dad’s work ethic. As a child of 4 or 5 (somewhere around there), I remember having to nap and watching him mow out the back window when we lived in Deepwater – more than likely he had just finished a shift at Champion Paper, or was about to go to work. Such focus, with no distraction. And all the singing. We had family singing times in the car going places. His yodeling and solo’s at church.
  • I honor my mom. Barbara Simmons Gurley. From her I got my love for reading, and later in life I realize I got from her my love of school. Ever pursuing the next smidgen of information, she was always challenging me to read the next book, or even the next genre of books. Even today, she’s a techie showing that she’s capable of iPad’ing, Facebook’ing, and Tweet’ing…
  • If I could I would name everyone I have ever known: teachers through public school, friends, neighbors, cousins, aunts and uncles….

All of these are my Memorials that I carry with me as I continue to grow in life. I thank each and every one of them.