The Stoning of Stephen
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
A Message of Encouragement and Hope
I may be like you in that of late there have been great wars waged in my heavens. We may not suffer the stone missiles that, our brother, Stephen did but never the less that which comes to achieve our death in Christ is every bit as horrific, painful and real. Surely, when all the stones have hit their appointed mark within us, there will be only a solid foundation left and it will be the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. The world has waited six long days to finally see Adam laid to rest that Christ might rise and say, "these are the first fruits of the man, Adam made into the image of God. These are my brothers, these are my sisters and they stand with Me ruling and reigning from the Heavens."
Today, while bad news abounds everywhere and the world travails, God is hanging a sign and it says, "it's alright, it's gonna be alright." Oh, how man full of fret and fear needs to hear such a message where the future seems so dark and and full of despair. I know within an office in Southern California this week, there were a number that heard the "it's going to be alright" message. They heard it from Joian after they received the news of her work and pay being cut in half because of the economic downturn. God hung a sign in that office. He hung it on a saint that had her eyes focused on Christ and her heart's desire for His peace and healing come upon the earth. I know, like Joian, there are many others that have been dispersed to diverse locales throughout the world that they carry that same sign of hope to a fretful world.
I pray in the next while as we get back to blogging we can hang a sign on each of you saying, "it's going to be alright." The world needs to see those signs and God is raising up saintly sign posts from which to hang His message of hope. From the ashes of our once selfish lives may the Father stand up a message of hope emanating from each of us, as He proclaims, "these are my sons, in whom I am well pleased."
Truly, "it's alright, it's gonna be alright." We can lay our lives on that!
Resting in Life and Death
and the Times Betwixt
"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1Cor 15:55
"For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." Rom 14:7-9
It was a sunny day and while on my lunch break I stopped by to visit with a friend who was building a brick wall in the font of a school yard. As I was standing there conversing I was startled by a the deafening roar of an engine. Turning to identify this growing peace shattering noise, I was ominously introduced to the front end of speeding car. It seemed as though all of time began to move in slow motion, as I clawed and fought to stay above the hood of this roaring automobile. I rode this monster for, what seemed to be, at least as many yards as you would find in half a football field. This out of control beast seemed to carry me forever before it finally crashed into the brick wall. My legs were painfully pinned between the crumbling brick and a crumpled vehicle. So great was the impact, this brand new automobile ended up being totaled by the insurance company.
Unbelievably, in the midst of this chaos, all sense was about me and my reasoning was enheightened to a fine fever pitch. Still pinned to the wall by this full throttled beast, wanton to devour me, I shouted for my friend to reach through the window and turn off the ignition. (of course while all this was happening, it was the face of a woman driver staring at me from behind the steering wheel, and yes, I can never resist an opportunity for jest or joke. lol)
I share this first hand example of how, when I was faced with the imminent prospect of death, all of time slowed down and I would even say space conversely was increased.
Some months later I would revisit the scene of this accident and to my great surprise I would see that all of this horrific activity took place within an area consisting of but only a few yards. The distance from the parking place where the woman hit the gas pedal instead of the brake was maybe all of ten yards. The measure of space between where the automobile hit me and the brick wall to which it pinned me, was only two or three yards. Because of my altered perspective during this life threatening event, it felt as if my ride on the hood of the car had taken place in slow motion, and a hundred minute details were immediately etched into my senses. During the time I was riding the hood of the car I even remember looking into the face of the driver and wondering, "why is this woman is so angry with me.?" The time frame in which all this excitement took place, instead of filling minutes occurred in not more than a few seconds. And the time I spent clawing and scratching to stay atop the car rather than slip underneath it, could not of been but small fractions of one second.
This is my personal story of as close an encounter as I have ever had with, what is familiarly known as an "NDE" or "near death experience." Where as with my personal experience all seemed to slow down in the face of death, there are probably many more accounts by others, where everything instead of slowing down, seemed to speed up. The stories of the "flashing of one's life" before them speaks of memories consciously reconnected at breakneck speed. Then again we could also look at this "flashback" occurrence as a slowing down of everything external to accommodate the immense internal flow of those life memories. Either way, this manipulation of time is a strange phenomenon that often seems to take place at what would be termed one's transitional period from this world to another.
I've read where the doctors and scientists explain these strange occurrences, as the rapid increase of chemical paths made up of neurons crossing synapses even in unusual patterns. They say this is genetic and brought on by an evolved faculty for survival. I have no reason to think there isn't truth in this. It would seem in the natural, this altered and heightened sense of consciousness is part of the "fight or flight response in the face of danger" that is part of our human make up. I however must also believe that with such a phenomenon there is a spiritual lesson to be gleaned from the shadows of nature. Romans 1 declares, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made ....."
There certainly must be mysteries to behold and Divine reasonings to be explored as to such a peculiar manipulation of time and space that occurs as a precursor to death. What might God be telling us, with such dramatic alterations of our earthly dimensions unfolding at the summation of our physical time on earth?
I have pondered that very question and I would like to share a lesson I may have found with regard to the alteration of time within the framework of "near death experiences" I would not write of NDE's unless there was possibly a practical application in our spiritual walk with our Lord. With that said, please also understand that I am not one that reads and relishes over the innumerable NDE's sensationalized in every kind of media with regard to the subject of God and the afterlife. If the truth be known, because of my lack of interest, I have probably only read or listened to, but a handful of NDE accounts in all my years. So what is the lesson I found in my experience and those of the others I am familiar with?
Not meaning to tease you, before I share what that lesson might be, please allow me to recount my once held belief of our existence beyond the grave. Because of the common mixture of the term "eternity" with the place of the dead it seems I had built up a belief system that framed a state of being, where the dead did not experience time. I thought the grave and the Kingdom of Heaven as some kind of timeless zones, utilizing other unknown dimensions. This misconception was because I was ingrained by church tradition to think of "eternity" as dealing specifically with the concept of "time." Today, I realize "eternity" does not deal with time per se', but instead "eternity" describes the overall concept of God, who is infinite in His being and nature. We must note also that the Kingdom of Heaven is synonymous with the Kingdom of God with regard to Bible usage. Adding, let us go further in pointing out the Kingdom of Heaven is the dwelling place of God. Where God is, there is Heaven. The wonder of this is that we are God's Heaven. And did you know, scripture more than half the time speaks of "Heavens", as in the plural. The plurality of the heavens would only make sense as you work out the progression of who and where God is. Contemplate all that is taking place in Him and all that is happening in you and you get a picture of the Heavens. I hope I haven't confused you and if you are, allow me say, "so great is our God, that He truly is immeasurable to any possible or reasonable degree. We have a really big God, and if you are like me the more you know about Him, the more you realize how much you don't know." So it can also be said of Heaven. Thus is born the cry of our hearts to know Him more fully. Is there a greater desire today in you and in me. Do you awake with that desire and is this not also your last thought as you fall asleep. It truly is with me and I cannot escape it. I so want to know Him!
"As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness." Ps. 17:15Getting back to this message on "time" let me say that because of some diverse experiences I had while in the Spirit I found a real conflict, with the idea that our post-mortem environment was "timeless" or "beyond time." I prayed concerning this and the Lord brought to me a number of scriptures giving evidence of the use and passage of time in the next world and the Kingdom of Heaven. Possibly, you have always known that time still has it place and purpose in the realm of the "hereafter" but for those that didn't know, or have possibly never even contemplated the subject, here are a few Bible passages that speak to the dimension of "time" in the Heavenly realm." I have taken the liberty to share a comment or two introducing each passage.
Years speak to time. Do we know God has "years" and they have no end,
He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days. I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee. Psa 102:23-28
or that God "birthed" Wisdom before the worlds were even made? What's up with that. An event such as a birthing is a process and it takes time doesn't it. Then we have Wisdom at God's side and filled with delight "day after day." Proverbs 8 is not only a chapter poetic in it's beauty, but it also speaks to the passing of time before the worlds were even formed.
"The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in humankind. Prov 8:22-30
We have silence in heaven for a "half hour" as the seventh seal of the book is opened. How many times have we read that one.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. Rev 8:1
Notice the passing of time with regard to growing fruit and the healing of the nations. The tree of life puts forth its fruit "every month" and "healing" is a process or an event.
And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Rev 22:1-2
The Kingdom of Christ shall see "no end." Does that not speak to time. Is "time" an everlasting dimension of the realm of God. Is there no end to time in the Kingdom of God?
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Lk 1:30-32
His Kingdom must be everlasting, as there is "no end to the increase" of His government and His peace. Increase speaks to change and change takes place in the framework of time.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isa 9:6,7
These are just a few scriptures that I know of, that speak to the continuance of the dimension of time beyond the grave and within the Kingdom of Heaven. You might ask, "why is it important to know that time still works in the next realm?"
I believe it is utterly important to know that the "ages and times" are not only made for this world but they will ever frame His purpose in my life, your life and the lives of our neighbors, even on the far side of the grave. Knowing this, we can "rest" and not rush haphazardly through our earthly existence thinking we must get such and such accomplished lest the opportunity be lost and our experience be lacking.
By our physical and mental labors both conscious and subconscious we can find food, water, shelter and even survival in the direst of circumstances. However all of our labor will not find for us the space of another hour in our predetermined existence in this world; an existence that even passes as a vapor or a puff of smoke. The times of our carnal and earthly entrance, endurance and departure are set and I personally believe they were perfectly set even before the foundations of the world. I believe we actually had a part as we shared in God's plans and purpose of our natural life. Those well laid plans are all but forgotten now, however I believe there is deep within each of us an obscure remembrance of such and this premonition grows as we experience the increase of His anointing.
"He has made everything fitting in its season; However, He has put obscurity in their heart So that the man may not find out His work, That which the One, Elohim, does from the beginning to the terminus." Ecc 3:11
"But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." 1Cor 2:10,11
So do I also believe as our life plans were set, we as the Elohim of God, gave out a joyous "Yea" and an awe inspired "Amen." I pray, "even in the midst of great trial, Lord, help us each to recall within our spirits, that the events of our own times on earth were laid out with perfect knowledge, measure and intent, resulting in the eternal reward of the fullness of Your Glory.
When all seems still, and movements nil,
God works His purpose rare,
The measured rhyme of slowest time
Performs its task with care.
Thus ages past their lot have cast,
In patience to abide
The final hour, when vict'ry's pow'r
Possessed a greater stride.
He knew the pace redeeming grace
Could move to reach its goal,
He could proceed with utmost speed
To transform every soul.
God planned and purposed out each and every age and in addition, planned He each and every life ever to be lived. He purposed that which each should accomplish, allotting enough time to complete each detail and event. We can also rest knowing everything is moving according to His divine time-schedule which we can neither slow down nor speed up.
"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say "You are my God." My times are in Your hand "Ps 31:14
So we might ask, "instead of resting why do we rush?"
Some years ago I read a wonderful book on "sonship" that I have often quoted from and even do so on occasion today. It is amazing that one can write so beautifully and truthfully in some areas and yet completely miss it in others. That's surely the case with all of us that write, as we see and know only in part. Nobody, I know of to date, has a full grasp on all Truth and that is why I love the humble "tongue in cheek exclamation" by the highly respected theologian, Karl Barth.
"The truest rallying cry that can be used by any leader is , "I don’t know where I am going; follow me!" Barth (lol)
So the author of this "sonship" manual wrote a chapter on overcoming and he made a most glaring error. He wrote that the only thing standing between us becoming overcomers and manifested sons is the issue of "time." Now that in itself is not incorrect but the context of the author's usage makes it so. He wrote as if "time" were an enemy to be conquered through our own efforts. In so many words, he encouraged the reader to urgency in "getting it done" while there was still time. Have not many of us already attempted this, only to find, in our failure of progress, that God is sovereign and only as we surrender to His plans and purpose, is fruitful gain made. It truly is "all Him" and with our failures and weaknesses we come to recognize the totality of His strength in both His purpose and plan for our lives. Thus, we finally give up in surrender to find "rest with His works now performed within and through us.
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" Eph 1:4,5
"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren" Rom 8:29
"for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" Phil 2:13
Now, we who have walked a bit far with God, know that there is nothing under the sun that we can do to add even one cubit to our stature. There is no urgency nor emergency in regard to our efforts toward God, but quite to the contrary we know it is Christ who accomplishes His increace in our lives and that increase comes as we rest and abide in Him. We must relinquish our strivings and our self efforts becasue all they can do is produce "dead works" from which arises a "self righteousness." Let us only walk and work the preordained ways and works set before us by God and in our Lord and Christ Jesus. The days of our "burning out for God" are over with, as we discovered another erronious Chrsitian admonition and practice that has been used to build the walls of Babylon, which are now falling. Yes, if you are like me, you well know the "burn out for God" mentality that produced only a ruse and a charade of Godliness. Today, I stand in awe at the amount of the hay and stubble of dead works that I now see aflame at the end of the age ........... and yes I certainly left my contribution. Along with the flames arising from the refuse of dead works, if you listen closely you might hear an accompanying phrase in God's voice, "I know you not." For those that have ears this phrase of sad denial seems of late to permeate the atmosphere surrounding the "do goods" of the organized church. Only the Lord knows the pain of hearing such an admonition, as our hearts ache for those we loved and those we had to leave behind in the harlot's clutches. We all probably at one time or another tried to sit with the pretenders thinking we could eventually open their eyes and their hearts to Real Good News. After all, we at one time had been pretenders ourselves. Eventually we found we could not change them by co-mingling. Thus we were driven outside the gate to suffer afar from the camp the loneliness and reproach of our demeaned Christ. With pained hearts, as the Day of the Lord settles in, we are witnessing the beginnings of bewilderment and loss in the eyes and movements of so many in the organized church. Surely this will become only more prevalent as the age closes and His Great Day grows. Although intially sad, this surely is to become a good thing, because accompanying such perplexity and frustration comes a seeking of a sustaining answer which be as simple as, "Jesus, our Rest."
This, the advent of the seventh millenia from Adam is surely the dawning of His Day, the Sabbath Day and the Day of Rest. This, that has come and is coming upon us is the Awesome Day of the Lord and it comes either as a terror or as a reward depending upon one's state of being. My sincere prayer is, "Help us to rest and abide in You Lord, knowing all we have, and all that we are, is yours and for your keeping."
In this we can be free from the darkness that has come upon the world to signify, what is the state of man without Jesus. We have been blessed to find the secret pavillion of Chrsit's Light and Life in the midst of this great darkness. What is dark to the world is light unto His sons. Just as in the wilderness the cloud of His glory was light to the Hebrew children while it was darkness to their enmies. So shall it be in the coming days and I believe great will be the harvest, as we reach across into that gulf of darkness to pull many a spent and tired soul into His Light and His Life. Can you you see in your minds eye, the arm of Christ reaching out from you and into the dark abyss to gather terrified and tired souls, pulling them to your bosom where they will find Christ at rest? I know you can!
I began this blog by sharing my near death experience and some characteristics of other NDE's. Getting back to that theme, interesting enough we can see that if there be a place where time seem manipulated, it is at the edge of life and death. In each of our lives, time often seems to crawl to the point of almost standing still while there are those periods where time screams by and we barely noticed the transpiring events. This phenomena of stretching and shortening time seems to reach a crecendo at the approach of the grave and the next world. The lesson I draw from this, is that as we approach the last throes of our self life and spiritually enter fully the Kingdom of Heaven, will God not manipulate and use time in the most extraordinary ways. I believe He can and will. He will accomplish even in minutes what took years. He will accomplish much even in the twinkling of an eye.
"For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." Psa 90:4
"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 2Pe 3:8
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1Cor 15:52
Dealing with God's diverse ways with time, please allow me one more short personal account. One night while deep in prayer I heard a departed loved one share with me a familiar greeting only known between her and me. With that salute I knew in my Spirit that which God had not accomplished within the confines of my Mother's life on earth He had in Heaven. Yes, I believe the great cloud of witnesses are ............... , well, you pray about whom that great cloud may include, lest I be accused of being wishful and overly sentimental. [wink]
Today I have one less wonder about our times in Heaven, as I am convinced God still uses time and even uses it more mightily in the Kingdom of Heaven and even the realm beyond the grave. Does not the Tree of Life grow on both sides of the river and is not that tree Christ and His Cross. I think so and thus my hope is full.
"On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Rev 22:2
Far beyond the confines of this earthly existence God still works His pupose in the making of sons with the use of time. We can rest knowing that time works on either side of the river. Even greater rest can be realized knowing "time is on His side, thus time is on our side." Although the grave seems to give another message to the world we know the Author who is also the Finisher and the Alpha who is also the Omega of the times of our lives.
"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1Cor 15:55
"For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself."
"For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's."
"For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." Rom 14:7-9
"AND THE TIMES THAT WENT OVER HIM..." 1 Chr 29:30
Someone once wrote, "Thank God, every fragment of "the times that go over us" are in His sovereign control. The length of each testing, and the glory of each blessing are all beautifully entwined to fulfill His plan for us, and bring us into our destined place in Him."
Aren't you glad you know Him who cares for, and even shares your times,
Lord willing, I hope to continue this theme by sharing
a short message on "the miraculous anointing and unction
of Christ Jesus" and how it controls not only our time but
also prioritizes our earthly chores. These are wonderful
lessons that frees us from our sense of urgency and
feelings of anxiety.
Please understand that I write these messages not only
for you but also as much, to encourage myself in the Lord.