Sunday, August 30, 2009

90 Minutes in Heaven

I just finished reading a book by Don Piper, 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life. I'm pretty skeptical when it comes to these topics, but it sparked my interest. Here's a few things I took from his story...

1. God is still in the business of doing miracles. This man was in a terrible car accident and pronounced to have died instantly. He had no pulse. The emergency personnel were in no rush to even get him out of the car. 90 minutes later, after a pastor prayed for him (yes, the pastor felt led to pray for a dead man), he revived.

2. Could this be a glimpse of heaven? Don remembers going to heaven during the time he was dead. His account is pretty cool to read. He describes complete joy and peace..."I wasn't conscious of anything I'd left behind and felt no regrets about leaving family or possessions. It was as if God had removed anything negative or worrisome from my consciousness, and I could only rejoice at being together with these wonderful people. They looked exactly as I once knew them - although they were more radiant and joyful than they'd ever been on earth". Won't that be amazing?

3. His experience was used to touch many lives. Even though he lived, Don had a very difficult and painful recovery. I skimmed through some of the details, but read enough to understand his ordeal. He wondered why he had lived and longed to return to heaven. But he realized that God had a plan. In the book he shares many stories of ways he was able to encourage others...both through his memories of heaven and through his painful recovery. We may at times wonder why bad things happen to us, and these accounts demonstrate that when we stop looking at ourselves in self-pity, our eyes can be opened to the ways God can use our experiences to help others.

I like the way the book was concluded, and will close this post with Don's words:

"I find comfort in a story recorded in John's Gospel. A man born blind meets Jesus and is healed. After that, he runs around praising God, but his healing is an embarrassment to the religious leaders who have been trying to turn the people against Jesus. They interrogate the formerly blind man, trying to force him to admit that Jesus is a sinner (that is, a fraud). The man wisely says "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" (John 9:25)

In the same way, some may not believe my account; they may think it was some kind of wish fulfillment during a point of severe trauma. I don't have to defend my experience. I know what happened to me. For those of us whose faith is in the reality of heaven, no amount of evidence is necessary. I know what I experienced. I believe God gave me a hint of what eternity in heaven will be like...

I am here, I am alive, and it's because God's purposes have not yet been fulfilled in my life. When God is finished with me, I'll return to the place I yearn to be. I have made my final reservations for heaven and I'm going back someday - permanently. Prayerfully, I'll see you there too."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Warming Up

Yesterday I was re-baptized. Instead of the warm summer evening that is typical for late August, last night was chilly...jeans and sweatshirt weather. I don't like to be cold, so the thought of being in shorts and a t-shirt and being dunked in icy water did not appeal to me. I was uncomfortable. And then I did get some of the odd looks and comments I was expecting, such as "I thought you would have already been baptized." I felt vulnerable. Part of me wanted to run back to the van, put on my warm clothes, and get back in my comfort zone. But I didn't - I walked through it with the support of my church family. I had made the decision to be obedient and get into that cold water (which really wasn't too bad). And I was blessed by the two men who got into that water with me, simply because I asked them to.

To my left stood my husband and best friend, Jeremy. He has walked with me and supported me through much of my faith journey. He knew me back in the day when I was skeptical about Christianity and still searching for the truth. He accepted me unconditionally and played a big role in my initial acceptance and growth in my relationship with the Lord. He has been there to push me out of my comfort zone and support me in whatever I've felt led to do. I am continually blessed through his music and his character. Thank you, Jeremy, for always standing by my side.

And to my right stood Jim, who is a father-figure to me. Shortly after New Hope opened I was introduced to Jim and greeted with a hug. And so it was every weekend...I looked forward to seeing Jim because I knew he would be happy to see me and have his arms open wide. Such a simple act, but one that made me feel loved and accepted, like I was in a place that I belonged. And I've come to look up to and respect him as a leader in the church. But now due to some messy circumstances, Jim is no longer there to greet me on the weekends...and I have felt the void. I knew asking him to come to the river and baptize me would require him to step out of his comfort zone. But he did it, for me. Thank you, Jim, for your love and support.

I am at peace knowing that I was obedient to what God has asked of me. I hope that as He looked down yesterday, He thought "This is my daughter, whom I love; with her I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Going to the River

I made a decision today that I should have made a long time ago. I'm getting baptized...well, actually re-baptized. I've sat through the baptism messages at church year after year debating whether or not God was asking me to do it. You see, I was already baptized by immersion when I was 15 years old. It was a choice I made at the time, but not for the right reasons. I didn't fully understand the gospel and ask Jesus into my life until I was 19 and in college. Since then I passed up an opportunity to be baptized in the ocean at Myrtle Beach, big regret. And since joining New Hope I had been a Christian so long that it felt too late to get baptized, so I used the "I've already been baptized" card. I'm tired of sitting in the service each year and wondering what I should do. I know I'm saved and that baptism is a matter of obedience. So even though I am going to feel uncomfortable and embarrassed about having waited so long, I am going to the river on August 23rd! (I already turned in the info card at it's too late to back out now LOL)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

Being a mom, I've noticed that my mood is greatly affected by the way my kids are behaving. When they are getting along and playing nicely together, I am at peace. When I see them share their toys or comfort their brother who is sad or has been hurt, it warms my heart. But when they are yelling, being selfish, taunting one another, or fighting it irritates me like nothing else. They give me lots of opportunities to grow in patience and understanding! (By the way: the caption to the cartoon says "Mummy,Mummy: Tim's piece of cheese doesn't have as many holes as mine) Kids can fight over the dumbest things, don't you agree?

Then I think about the way other people treat my kids. When someone is kind to my children...playing with them, making them laugh, or just showing them love...that person earns a special place in my heart. I noticed that with our babysitter Micki. I love her like family and it's because she's treated my boys so well. But if someone tried to hurt my boys, oh man, totally the opposite.

So if we're all God's children, does the way we treat each other affect Him in the same way? Does the way I treat my spouse, my family, my friends, and even strangers either bring joy or sorrow to the heart of my God? Can we truly treat one of His children badly and then expect to come before Him and be blessed?

May we all fight for peace. Not just because it is best for us, but because we want to bring happiness to our Father.