Crossing Over–A Deathbed Experience

heavenIs Heaven just a fictional place? Are you crazy to believe you might go there when you die? Is there any evidence that Heaven is for real?

Questions like these come to mind when you watch the movie To Heaven and Back. It is the story of the life and death experience of three year old Colton Burpo. This incident has strengthened the faith of believers and ruffled the feathers of skeptics. Apart from the Bible and the experience of Colton, how can you know if heaven is for real?

Even if I had never read a page in the Bible, I would believe in Heaven, and this isn’t wishful thinking—I believe because of an experience with an uncle.

In the last weeks of my Uncle Kenneth’s life, I was at his bedside almost daily. I was able to reminisce with my dad’s oldest brother, and saw him drift in and out and up and down through different levels of consciousness.

I remember one particular day when Kenneth had drifted out and was very restless, and then he became very calm, and said: “There’s Mom and Dad!” When his focus returned to the room, we spoke of his parents—my grandparents.

The restlessness returned, and I whispered, “What’s wrong Kenneth?” He said, “I can’t find Clara Mae (his wife).” Then he was gone again and his face soon lit up with a smile as he said, “Well there’s Eddie.” His eyes then focused on me and with a smile he said, “I saw Eddie—your dad.”

“Uncle Kenneth,” I said, “Do me a favor. When you cross on over to Heaven, tell Dad hi for me. I haven’t seen him since 1965, and I still miss him.” He smiled and drifted back out saying, “I’ll do that.”

Kenneth closed his eyes and became calmer than I had seen him for weeks. He took a deep breath and said, “There she is—there’s Clara Mae!” I stayed quietly by his bedside, not wanting to interrupt this wonderful reunion with his wife.

A few minutes later, my uncle returned to the room and we discussed what he had just seen. We prayed and I left a minute later. Not long after he found his wife, Kenneth died, and went to be with her, his parents, and my dad.

Is Heaven provable with hard science? Nope! Is it for real? I have no doubt that it is, and what I experienced with my Uncle Kenneth and multiple other people on their death beds is enough confirmation for me.

If you’ve never read the book or seen the movie detailing the experience of Colton Burpo, you can watch an interview here.

A Timely Assessment

Believe me, my parents meant it when they said it: “Be punctual, on time, and never late.” If I was out one minute too long, I was in the next night and didn’t go anywhere—grounded!

Due to this extreme, heavy-handed, and unfair parental practice, I became a time conscious freak of society. If I don’t have a watch on my left wrist, I still feel like I’m naked.

What my parents did for me has actually been a blessing. I’m rarely late for anything; I know the time; and, I understand its inherent value.

Time can be the moment or second in which you live, or it can be the theme of the situation in which you are involved. Understanding or knowing the time, is a theme of Scripture:
• Romans 13:11-12: Besides this you know the time that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
• Ephesians 5:15-17: Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time,[a] because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
• I Timothy 4:1-2: Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

Jesus was well-aware of the time when He said, “Now My soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save Me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name! ~John 12:27-28

As He was stepping into what would be the most excruciating week of His earthly life, Jesus did not say: “Where’s the exit door?” “How can I escape this situation?”

Instead, His focus was on how God could be glorified, and He concentrated on the praise of God and not on His pain. Had Jesus just focused on His pain, the story of the Bible may ended much differently.

What has captured your attention recently? Has it has been personal affliction and pain. If so, you may find life a struggle. Instead of looking in, remember to look above and give God the praise for what is right and what is good.

Psalm 34:19 is an appropriate conclusion to this discussion: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

The Sweet Spot in a Sour Situation

The ups and downs and the hard turns to the left and to the right are exhilarating when you are riding a roller coaster; however, they are physically and emotionally draining when you encounter life threatening situations.

If you were one of the people who had followed Moses out of Egypt, you would have experienced a sudden shift in your perspective that was a gut punch that left you sucking for air and asking Moses, “Where in Egypt have you taken us?”

The Israelites had just felt the joy of deliverance, but their joy quickly became terror when they realized they were trapped between the Red Sea and a very angry Egyptian army.

Moses grasped a truth that seemed to evade the comprehension of his followers. Their intellectual inability to believe the basic promises of God hampered their spiritual progression and left them hamstrung.

Listen to Moses as he says: “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace (Exodus 14).”

Moses didn’t ask: “Where are you God.” He knew God was present, and he knew that God had led His people to this exact place and at this exact time, so they could experience an extraordinary miracle.

As you read this, you may find yourself with a dismal spirit due to a dire situation. Don’t dismay because God knows where you are and what you are enduring. The Psalmist wrote: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand (Ps. 37).”

Whatever your situation may be, there is a lesson to be learned and a way that God can be glorified. Take a moment to read Psalm 136 and remember that the mercy of the Lord endures forever.

Is Your Best Foot Forward?

One of my favorite books in the Bible is Psalms. The 19th Psalm is the longest division in this book, and it begins with a wonderful promise: “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!”

There are two words that are seen two times in the two verses above. The first word is “blessed,” and the second is “way.” One of the themes of this Psalm, and some others, is the link between receiving “blessings,” and doing things God’s “way.”

• The pathway we are to walk is the principles of God, and when we do this we are blessed.
• Seeking God wholeheartedly is evidence of walking in His way
• The key to keeping your way (life) pure is by integrating God’s Word into your life (9-11).
• When you develop a relationship with God you will “delight” in the way of His testimonies (14).
• Applying the principles of God to your life is not an accident, but it is a conscious decision that needs to be made: “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me (30).”
• On your journey through the wilderness of life, it will be necessary to check your compass and correct your course from time to time: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24)”

The principles above come to life in the story of the prodigal son. In him, we see a young man who followed the way of the world and experienced a life of tragedy and failure. The choices he made reminds me of Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

Even though his son had failed, the father was ready to forgive him and welcome him home. When he saw his son walking down the dusty road that led to the house, he said: “My son was lost and now is found (Luke 15:24).”

Which path are you walking, and what principles are guiding your life? Are you wholeheartedly seeking God and walking in His ways?

Citizen’s Arrest

images-humantrafficking_tm_524883229No citizen should be at rest when far too many children cannot be at ease. When it comes to the subject of human trafficking, we ought to be self-appointed traffic cops. I made this statement in a blog I wrote about a year ago, and I thought of it again after hearing of the abduction of some Nigerian girls.

The Boko Haram are terrorists operating in and around Nigeria, and they’ve had schools, churches, and villages in their cross hairs. The “haram” portion of their name means “forbidden,” and they believe a western style education is a violation of Islamic law. The school girls from Nigeria are their latest victims, and they will most likely be sold as sex slaves.

Human trafficking is big business as it generates about $32 billion annually. How can anyone think of this as a profitable business when the loss column is framed with the images of innocent children—children victimized for the pleasure and sexual gratification of lowly scum?

Statistics tell us that two children are sold into the commercial sex trade every minute of every day. That is 525,600 a year X 2 children, which is over 1 million a year. Not just one year, but year after year. Think of how many precious lives have been ruined in your lifetime!

Even though President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, and the 13th Amendment declared slavery to be illegal, it has reared its ugly head in the form of sex trafficking; and it is a wicked scar on the face of humanity.

We need to pray for those who are preyed upon, and we need to support the efforts of those who are fighting the fight to free those who are still in bondage.

Your Moment in Time

Moment_In_Time-150x150What started as a normal day soon turned tragic. The flash of light that reflected off the steel blade was the first sign that something was wrong, and the feel of warm blood as it flowed down his cheek was confirmation of his fears. He was maimed and disfigured for life.

The pain lasted for the briefest of moments and the bleeding stopped almost immediately. He was amazed as his hand felt the side of his head. The ear that had been cut off had reappeared just as quickly as it had disappeared.

His moment of agony lasted for just the second it took for the miracle to occur. The actions of Jesus were stitched in threads of vibrant mercy and Malchus stood dumbstruck as he considered the amazing grace he had just experienced.

Jesus knew He was about to be arrested and crucified, but He was still concerned for the needs of others—even those who intended to do Him harm. What Jesus did for Malchus (Luke 24) was principle put to practice. It was a turn the other cheek, forgive them 70 times 7, give them the coat off your back, walk the extra mile; and give a drink of water to the thirsty, moment.

What you do to alleviate the pain of others, reveals the true you. Who are you?


stickumI’ve always enjoyed watching a good game of baseball or football, and the great players who make the game interesting. Frederick Biletnikoff played for the Oakland Raiders from 1965-1978, and he made the game very interesting with his amazing receptions.

Biletnikoff had a skill set that was the envy of many of his football peers, but he also had something else–stickum. He was one of the first players to apply a sticky substance to his hands to improve his ability to catch the ball.

As I was leaving St. Francis hospital yesterday, my thoughts were on two people. Fred Biletnikoff and Catherine Beedles. I know it’s a strange pairing, but there is a distinctive that binds the two of them together–stickum.

Catherine Beedles has stickum. Two of the great blessings in my life have been Dale and Catherine Beedles. My mind is full of memories of Uncle Dale and Aunt Catherine. I remember their house in Eureka, the many family reunions at Sallyards, and the wonderful way Dale and Catherine have loved me.

After my Dad’s untimely death in 1965, Dale and Catherine were a tremendous help to me. I would walk to the corner of Fredrick Drive and Towanda where Dale would pick me up and I’d ride the leases with him checking the wells. He would have his thermos of coffee and I would have my jug of hot chocolate; and Catherine, her love was a constant with her smiles, hugs, and her encouraging, “I love you.”

My aunt has been the matriarch of the Seymour clan for many years, and her stickum has helped to hold the family together. When a life was fragmenting, Catherine was the force who was present to help piece it back together. The presence of Catherine has been a splendid present to me.

I would imagine that you have an Aunt or Uncle Stickum or some friend in your life who has been a real blessing to you. Have you ever taken the time to write them a note to thank them for all they mean to you? I encourage you to do this and to thank God for this wonderful gift He’s given you; and, when you pray, remember Catherine as well.

Attitude and Altitude

The last couple of days have been too hot too soon, and I’ve found myself sipping more water and tea than I normally do this time of year; and, I’ve even drank a couple of lemonades.
Most of us have heard the old adage that if you’re handed lemons, make lemonade. This is a statement that speaks of managing your attitude.

Attitude is important because it determines your altitude. While there are many things in your life that are beyond your control, your attitude is not one of them.

• You cannot change your past, but you can change the way you think about your past.
• You may not be able to change the way people treat you, but you can change the way you think about people.
• You may not be able to change your circumstance in life, but you can change the way you think about your situation.

It was Dale Carnegie who said: “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”

Attitudes usually have at least three things in common:

• An Emotional Response or how you feel about the person, place, or event
• An Intellectual Component or what you believe about the situation
• An Expression of Behavior or how your attitude is manifested
I believe there is some truth to the statement: “Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I respond to it.”
The importance of attitude is discussed several places in the Bible. Ephesians 4, is one of these: “Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ.” ~The Message

As you move through the day today, notice a couple of things:

• Listen to your self-talk—how are your mental messages influencing you?
• Notice your emotional response when someone enters the room where you are.
• Pay attention to your muscles—when are you relaxed or uptight?
• Be aware of your perception

Finally, think about the words of Abraham Lincoln: “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

The Low-Down on Getting High

balloons head business man as success conceptResearchers at Northwestern University looked into the relationship between casual marijuana use and brain changes. This study found that young adults who used marijuana even once or twice a week showed “significant abnormalities in two important brain structures” that affected a person’s working memory.

The casual use of marijuana can lead to the development of amotivational syndrome. People with this psychological condition can become less oriented towards their goals, lack purpose in life, and be less focused in general.

As I read this research I wondered: Do Christians, for whatever reason, suffer from amotivational syndrome? The work of George Barna may shed some light on this subject. He contrasted different types of Christians and among his work I found his comments on the Casual and the Captive “tribes” interesting.

Casual Christianity was defined as faith in moderation. This moderate form of Christianity allows a person to feel religious without making faith a top priority. According to Barna, “Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.”

Barna draws a contrast between Casual Christians and Captive Christians, saying: “Casual Christians are driven by a desire for a pleasant and peaceful existence. Captive Christians are focused on upholding the absolute moral and spiritual truths they glean from the Bible.”

Was Jesus addressing one of these groups in Revelation 3? Did He chastise one type and praise the other? As you think about these questions, give particular attention to verses 14-22. Then ask yourself this question; How do I get my “high?” Is it through a substance or a relationship? Cannabis or Christ?

Eye of the Storm

stormDuring the early service at church this past Sunday, a violent storm just missed El Dorado. It was close enough, however, to rattle the church with the rumbling thunder.

As I think about the power of a storm, it occurs to me that many storms have an “eye” associated with them. When you think about the dynamics of a hurricane, it’s easy to associate the powerful winds with the adversity that surrounds you. Meteorologists will tell you that regardless of the size of the storm, there is always calm at its center or eye.

Remember what Jesus did when His disciples were at sea and they were at the mercy of a storm? Just when they thought their boat would be swamped and they would drown, Jesus walked on the water and calmed the storm.

To find the calm in the storm, we need to do several things:

• Listen and obey His words: “Whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil (Proverbs 1:33).”
• Trust Him for protection: “:How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 36:7).”
• Seek a relationship with Him: “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let such as love Your salvation say continually, “The Lord be magnified! (psalm 40:16).”
• Rely on Him for rest: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30).” ~ The Message

Whenever you are about to be swamped with trouble and turmoil, remember to look for the “I” in the storm. Jesus said “I” will never you nor will “I” forsake you. The presence of Jesus will give you a peace that is beyond comprehension (Phil. 4:6-7).