January 2019 Newsletter
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Heaven will be a joyful place where families and friends enjoy life with the Giver of life.
By John Burke
Heaven and near-death experiences (NDEs)—of people who clinically died, were resuscitated, and claimed to have gotten a peek into the afterlife—have been a hot topic of late. I’ve never been one to gullibly believe every story of seeing Heaven. Yet over the past thirty- five years, I’ve studied or heard close to 1,000 near-death stories (the Gallup Poll found 1 in 25 people have had an NDE—so there are millions). Through my study, I saw amazing commonalities—intriguing, detailed descriptions by doctors, professors, commercial airline pilots, children, people from around the globe. Each gave a slightly different angle to what started to look like a very similar picture.
I urge you to get Imagine Heaven (Book, Devotional & 3-CD Set)
During that same thirty-five-year time frame, I went from a career in engineering to full-time ministry. I’m now a convinced Christian, but I was not always convinced. As a former skeptic, my passion is helping skeptical people consider the many reasons that keep me believing.
Some Christians say that NDEs should be rejected because these tales of the afterlife deny the sufficiency of Scripture and therefore add to God’s revelation. I respectfully disagree. I have found that the common NDE experiences actually are aligned with Scripture. Near-death experiences add vivid color and texture to Scripture’s picture of Heaven.
More than 900 articles on NDEs have been published in scholarly literature like the Journal of the American Medical Association and Psychiatry. The U.K. medical journal, The Lancet, described a cardiac arrest patient brought into the hospital at- lined. A nurse removed his dentures in the ER before defibrillation. Though they restored his heartbeat, the patient remained unconscious for the next week. Yet when he came to in another room, he claimed he had left his body while in the ER. He accurately described his resuscitation, the ER staff, and where his lost dentures could be found—in the lower crash cart drawer. Through my research I discovered many such accounts of veriable observations that convinced skeptical doctors that life exists beyond the grave.
A Boring Heaven?
But what will that life be like? I nd that most people, whether Messiah- followers or not, have a horrible view of Heaven. At best it’s a cloudy, ethereal, disembodied, nonphysical experience—yeah, maybe with love, joy, and no suffering sprinkled in, but if we’re honest, we don’t really get excited about it. Yet what NDErs (those who have experienced an NDE) consistently say is that it’s “more real” than this life.
How you think about Heaven affects everything in life—how you prioritize love, how willing you are to sacrifice for the long term, how you view suffering, what you fear or don’t fear. What if we became people who have a vision for the ultimate Life to come? What if Heaven is going to be better than all you long for on earth? And what if how you live really does matter for eternity? That would change how we live, work, love, sacrifice—wouldn’t it?
The Scriptures have always described just such a place—more beautiful than you can imagine. The language of Scripture and the words NDErs use over and over show us that this temporal (temporary) life is the fuzzy, less-than-real shadow of the brilliant, beautiful-beyond-your- wildest-dreams, solid Life you need to grab onto. A life where earth’s relationships continue on, where all the thrills and adventures we know come alive in new dimensions of time and space, all in a place bathed in the light, love and life of God.
The Blind on Earth See in Heaven
Vicki, 22 years old, was blind from birth. Late one night she was riding in a van that crashed. She suffered a basal skull fracture and a broken back and neck. The next thing Vicki knew, she found herself above the scene of the accident, “looking” down at what she realized must be a crumpled-up van. Having never “seen” anything as a blind person, Vicki recalls, “It was hard to adjust to, and … [seeing] was scary at first. Then, I liked it, and it was OK. I had trouble relating things to one another—what I was seeing and perceiving versus what I had touched and known.*”
The next thing she recalls is at the hospital where she left her body again and floated up near the ceiling. From there she watched a male doctor and a woman working on her body. She tried to tell them she was fine, but the doctors didn’t respond. Then Vicki experienced a sense of upward motion as she traveled through the ceilings of the hospital and up above the roof.
She found herself being pulled up through a dark enclosure “like a tube,” moving toward a light getting brighter and brighter. At the opening of the tube she found herself on grass, in a beautiful, garden-like setting, surrounded by trees and flowers and a vast number of people. She was in a place of tremendous light, and the light, Vicki said, “was something you could feel as well as see.” Even the people she saw were radiant. “Everybody there was made of light. And I was made of light. What the light conveyed was love. There was love everywhere. It was like love came from the grass, from the birds, and from the trees,” Vicki says**.
I nd it incredibly compelling that multiple blind NDEs confer with thousands of sighted NDEs saying the light of heaven is “light and life and love” coming “out of” everything, even people. Yet the Jewish prophet Isaiah and John in Rev. 21 tell us there’s no sun or moon in Heaven, because “the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory”(Is. 60:19), and the “nations will walk by its light” (Rev. 21:24). How would blind people get this idea since earth’s light shines “on,” not “out of,” everything? The Jewish prophet Daniel and Jesus both tell us “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father,” just as NDEs confer (Matt. 13:43, Dan. 12:3). But will we still fully recognize our friends and relatives, and can appear to one another as we do today? Yes, yet better, healthy and whole.
Vicki was welcomed by Debby and Diane, her blind roommates
who had died as children, yet in Heaven, they were whole, healthy, and “in their prime.” Vicki turned and there was Jesus, whose radiance far exceeded all others. He embraced her with a loving hug beyond anything imaginable on earth. “He enveloped me with so much warmth and love… [and his eyes] were piercing eyes. It was like they permeated every part of me.” She never wanted to leave. Jesus gave Vicki a life review, another commonality of NDEs, where she re- lived her life in a panoramic replay. Jesus pointed out how each act of love and kindness, and every unkind act affects others, reminding her that love is what matters most to God.
After Vicki’s resuscitation, she was able to describe how Debby and Diane looked and even walked since she had “seen” them growing up in her life review. These observations were confirmed by the housemother who raised all three girls.
Heaven will be a thriving, joyful, festive place, where families and friends enjoy life with the Giver of Life; where all the struggle, all the suffering, every act of faith, service, and sacri ce produce for us “an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17). The most wonderful experiences imaginable lie before you. Imagine Heaven!
* Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper, Mindsight: Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind (Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2008), 27.
** Ibid., 16. 2. Ibid., 16.
John Burke is the New York Times bestselling author of Imagine Heaven and founding pastor of Gateway Church in Austin, Texas.
A Wave of Glory Invades Toronto
By Sid Roth
By the end of December 2018, we will have mailed out the rest 30,000 copies of my new book, There Must Be Something More!, that was designed to reach North American Jewish Millennials. When we found out how open to the Gospel they were from the Barna Survey (21% believe in the deity of Yeshua), we designed a state-of-the-art website just for them, as well as the new book. We will be mailing
to 720,000 North American Jewish Millennials. Watch what God will do with this new harvest of Jewish evangelists, teachers, prophets, pastors and apostles! This could well be our most important evangelism ever!
Our life is equivalent to a blink of the eye compared to eternity. The best way I know to fully accomplish our destiny in this brief span of time is to change our perspective on the purpose of this life. And the best way I know to change our perspective is by reading John Burke’s book, Imagine Heaven. Over the past 35 years John has read or heard close to 1,000 near-death stories. He wrote his book to convince
skeptics (like he was) that Heaven is real. But something supernatural is happening when believers read his book! It will motivate you to live for eternity! Imagine doctors, professors, business people of all ages and cultures and even blind people describing the same commonalities of Heaven mentioned in the Bible! But the additional resources by John are even stronger. Watch what will happen when you read one of his 100 devotionals about experiences in Heaven just before you go to sleep!
Singer, Shai Sol
We closed out the year with a Jewish outreach in Toronto, Canada with 460 predominantly unsaved Jewish people in attendance. We brought in three busloads of Jewish people and many more came from our advertising. Because we advertised heavily in Jewish newspapers, we had two anti-missionaries show up. But thankfully we were on private property and they had to very reluctantly leave. At events in the past, some who oppose our outreaches have videotaped the attendees to make them feel threatened.
We featured a young Messianic Jewish worship group from Israel that drew many more young people than usually attend. Their lead singer, Shai Sol, caused a big stir in Israel when she competed on the Israeli equivalent of American Idol TV show. The Israeli press responded positively to her bold witness for Yeshua! It’s a new day in Israel and a new day for Jewish evangelism. About 50% of the audience was instantly healed when waves of Glory invaded the auditorium. Then I gave an invitation for salvation and only a handful did not stand. This was among the highest percentage of Jewish people publicly making professions of faith in our history! We know they will be followed up and properly discipled.
I am full of expectancy that 2019 will be the best adventure of our lives! Watch what happens as you live for eternity and literally collide with the Glory of God to a higher degree than any other generation. Soon the Glory will break out in Israel and watch God do a quick job of evangelizing the world. Once again from Zion will go out fiery, Jewish evangelists that will turn the world upside down!