Lord, I pray for those struggling today. Please help them know your comfort and love today. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Lord, I pray for those struggling today. Please help them know your comfort and love today. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Revealing Heaven by John W. Price is about near death experiences and how every person who is good and kind gets to heaven no matter their religion, but mean people will face hell.
John W. Price is a member of the Near Death Experience Research Foundation. He is an Episcopal priest. A collection of real life accounts of near death experiences (NDE) are recorded in this book, but I have to say I am disappointed in it. The book contradicts scripture.
The first half of the book works at proving that life after death exists. He says a lot of Christians doubt it exists. Most Christians I know believe in life after death, but when you hear of near death experiences it’s natural to feel skepticism. Price uses scripture to prove life after death. I don’t dispute this part of the book. Halfway through is when I had a problem.
Skepticism plays in when he writes about how some NDE’s return able to read minds and predict the future. One of the NDE’s saw Heaven but remains a Buddhist today. Price talked about how God didn’t care about any sin, unless you were mean; especially a mean Christian. At the end of the book, Price affirms his own belief. Here are the two statements of belief:
Page 137: “Now Jeff had not been baptized a Christian. Yet he and others like him with whom I’ve visited did not go to hell, but rather experienced God’s wondrous love in heaven. How can we reconcile this with statements in the New Testament that way we must accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in order to go to Heaven? I think the conclusion we can draw here is this. Jesus is, in Christian theology, God come to earth. Since God is love, so is Jesus, and he showed and commanded that love for us. Those who do live a life of love are, whether they know it or not, accepting Jesus in his command to love as the central orientation of their lives.” Emphasis mine.
Page 143 [Regarding John 14:1-6): “As an Episcopal priest, I cannot argue with it except to point out that it seems to exclude non-Christians.” Emphasis mine.
Price also speaks about the controversial Rob Bell and his book “Love Wins.” In several places, Price can’t explain the scripture about Jesus being the only way.
In the beginning of the book, Price’s stories of NDE’s returning exemplified changed lives from meeting Jesus, but towards the end it felt like all I had to do was love well to go to Heaven regardless of the choices I make in my life. He got one point correct, however. Jesus is about transformation. Jesus also spoke about loving our enemies. Love is God. However, there is more to God than just love. For clarification, I would recommend reading the Bible and pray. Satan can come as an angel of light, too, and if something contradicts the Bible, one should ask lots of questions. From the point of view of a non-Christian, I am left confused as to how to get to Heaven.
Scant places in the book talk about getting to Heaven through Jesus. Then, many statements talk about God’s love as if that’s His only attribute. I gave this book one star. It contradicts the Bibles’ main point: the only way to Heaven is through accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. You can’t be a Muslim and enter Heaven, unless you have accepted Him as your Savior which means you are no longer a Muslim. His book indicates that religion doesn’t matter. All roads lead to Heaven. This makes Christ’s sacrifice on the cross meaningless.
*Book given by publisher to review.
Updated 3/18/2013: John W. Price left a comment beneath my review on Amazon saying, “This reviewer put words in my mouth/pen. I did not say “every person who is good and kind gets to heaven no matter their religion,” I said the reviews of returnee’s lives shows love is the key question regarding entry into heaven. I did not say, “Love is God.” I said “God is Love.” (I John 4:8). I did not say I didn’t believe in life after death, I said I didn’t know what to believe about it, as the Bible itself is not clear from its various statements. That is very different. The reviewer is right saying conservative Christians will have a hard time with this book, particularly if they are inclined to misquote me.”
My response: He infers it in his book. Others like this reviewer read it the same way, too. Price follows it up saying, “…reviews of returnee’s lives shows love is the key question regarding entry into heaven.” But Price is clear as quoted below that he believes Christ is not the only door to Heaven.
Price says on page 144:
“God’s love is not limited to Christians, but is for all people of goodwill who live with love for one another. The returnees show us this truth abundantly. I cannot in good conscience say that Christianity is the only way. I can say it is the way for me. I can say God’s love is not exclusive to Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism or any other faith group, since members of each group embrace and live the command that we are to love one another.”
He also takes issue with me saying he didn’t believe in life after death. I said in the above review, “The first half of the book works at proving that life after death exists. He says a lot of Christians doubt it exists.” I merely mentioned that in my corner of the world I had not heard that. I didn’t say he didn’t believe in it.
I like what this reviewer said on Amazon.
In any case, as a courtesy, I have added his comment to my review. It’s a courtesy I extend to any author.
It’s a story about Annie, an atheist, who discovers while on a school assignment, a woman named Anna. Anna is a survivor from the Ukraine at the time of the Russian Genocide. Her wisdom shared with Annie begins to move through Annie’s searching mind. Annie’s fractured relationship with her mother and the grief of her grandmother dying has created in Annie the desire to belong.
Anna’s involvement in Annie’s life helps Annie deal with her many side issues like her friend, Lena’s penchant for partying, her friendship with Angelo (Lena’s brother), and a curious icon over Anna’s mantle. The questions about the icon’s origins propel Annie and Lena to the fringes of the country where they meet Father Elias.
With Father Elias’ guidance, Lena eventually leaves her partying ways. Angelo and Annie’s deepening relationship is obvious to all of us except for Annie. Anna grows frail as her health deteriorates. It’s a story written in first person using Annie’s point of view and it felt too real.
When I reached the end of the book, I discovered a note written by the author explaining that the character Anna was real. It made me wonder if Annie wasn’t Cheryl. Some novels are very autobiographical. Unexpected Joy was well-researched on the least taught aspect of history, the Ukrainian Genocide. Annie’s character’s emotional exploration of atheism had a touch of depth only written by someone who experienced that spiritual struggle.
Unexpected Joy began too slowly. I would not have included the prologue. The prologue didn’t add anything to the story. Chapter one also felt slow. Then, the beauty of the words and the story began to come together and the plot sped up.
Because this is a novel, I agreed not to touch upon the theological aspect of the book as a reason to deduct a star. For the most part, I found the religious aspect of the novel quite agreeable. For instance, when Angelo was explaining to Annie the “Jesus Prayer,” he said:
“It’s a meditative prayer. Orthodox Christians use it to center the mind in the heart and concentrate it on Jesus Christ.”
“Like a mantra,” I said understandingly.
“No,” he corrected me firmly. “Not like a mantra. A mantra is a meditative method used to alter consciousness. According to my spiritual Father, the Jesus Prayer is supposed to bring the mind into the heart and fill it with God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s a difference. The aim of the Jesus Prayer isn’t alteration. It’s transformation…”
I deducted a star because of the slow beginning. Otherwise, Unexpected Joy was exactly that—an unexpected joy. The end disappointed me because I wanted to see more of Angelo and Annie. Perhaps Cheryl will write a sequel? In any case, I gave this novel four stars.
*Book given by author to review.
Join me today in praying for our country?
I have no words, just heartache today. So I will mourn and tomorrow take up the sword of hope again. My hope is in Jesus as your hope should be, because without hope we let them win by giving up. Continue the fight. Continue to do the right thing. Continue to volunteer, love your neighbor and enemy, and continue to live in relationship with Jesus.
Mike Huckabee said it best:
Tonight’s results only remind me that our country has slipped into a deeper state of dependence on government than I wanted to believe. Where the Goliath of government has grown so too has our dependency.
It’s also increasingly apparent to me that our real problems are not political, but spiritual. Both parties have failed to acknowledge that. Democrats have not wanted to even acknowledge the need for God in our public institutions, but sadly, many of the Republican leadership will acknowledge God, but not because they believe we should be humble before Him, but to use God in our speeches and platforms. We wear our love of Israel like a badge of courage but on the issues of life and marriage too many of our leaders are more like lambs than Lions of Judah.
Well now maybe our Republican Party will look at itself in the mirror. I feel that we shouldn’t pack up and quit, but gear up and get ready for the next battle. That’s what we do as people of faith and a party of principle. We don’t stop believing what we believe. We do a better job of doing what we’re supposed to do. That’s how you attract voters and win elections. And that is how you save America from herself.”
Join me today as I pray for our country.
Will you please send my friend Brian a Bible? Or two Bibles? or ten? They’re for a great cause.
My friend Brian Short and I went to junior high and high school together. We reconnected via Facebook not too long ago. Brian has found his salvation in our King, Jesus Christ. He also recently celebrated a year of sobriety after living with alcoholism.
Brian needs Bibles, and he’s asked me to spread the word. They’ll be distributed in San Diego this fall at the San Diego Lowrider Gospel Fest. This annual event shares hope with gang members, drug addicts, and kids at risk of gang activity. It’s a “least of these” population, if you will.
I’d like you to hear Brian’s own words, taken from his Facebook posts on the day this project began.
I had just finished praying and as I was pouring a cup of coffee to sit and enjoy my quiet time of the day, my phone went off. My friend Tim called. He and I have shared faith as we walked through sobriety. I gave him a Bible and some books about God’s grace. He asked me for 5,000 bibles to be given away at something called Gospel Fest. I replied without thinking. “Five loafs and two fish.” I have ten in my closest to start with…Good morning Beautiful…
A busy blessed day. I now have five more Bibles than I started out with. If you want to help in this Micah 6.8 project. Send a Bible or two to 270 C St #10 E , Chula Vista Ca 91910. An elder at the church just ordered a case of 24 for a starting point. He multiplies well. I will keep you all posted. Sheila, if you want to share this with the blog universe feel free. It would be so cool if 5000 faces could participate in sharing the Word.
I just got in. A long blessed evening. My friend and brother in God’s work, Tim Dominguez. He is the one who asked for the Bibles. We talked about his Ministry. Ex Gang members who are working to spread Christ to at risk kids, drug addicts, and alcoholics. I listened and shared faith with a couple of members. We look different and have different paths. But the power of God’s grace and redeeming power was evident. Sweet dreams Angel…
Sheila here, again. Since this day last month, Brian has gathered over 500 Bibles. That’s ten percent of his goal. He has many more Bibles to gather.
Will you please do one or more of these things?
Thank you, and God bless you.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8 (NASB)
April 15, 2012: 504 Bibles collected.
April 20, 2012: 566 Bibles collected.
by Mark D. Roberts
Her adversaries have become rulers;
her enemies relax.
Certainly the LORD caused her grief because of her many wrong acts.
Her children have gone away,
captive before the enemy. (CEB)
Lamentations 1:5 [ Lamentations 1:1-22 ]
In yesterday’s reflection, I began to consider the implications claim in Lamentations 1:5: “Certainly the LORD caused [Judah’s] grief because of her many wrong acts.” I noted that Scripture teaches, in this verse and others, the unsettling truth that God does at times grieve us. But I strongly warned us not to start pronouncing judgment on others in light of this fact.
For one thing, we are on dangerous ground when we pronounce judgment on others as if we are free from guilt ourselves. If we read Jeremiah 1:5 out of context, it might sound as if the writer is standing back from the grief of Judah. Yet, the rest of the book makes it abundantly clear that the writer is sharing fully in the suffering of his people. He might just as well have written, “Certainly the LORD caused us grief because of our many wrong acts.”
This is part of what concerns me when Christian pundits purport to explain God’s judgment on others, while completely ignoring what God might be saying to them. Occasionally in Scripture God speaks through the prophets to judge the nations. But, in the vast majority of cases, the prophets pronounce judgment upon the people of which they are a part. They proclaim God’s judgment on us, not them.
These days, it’s easy to point pious fingers at the sins of others. Ironically, I do this most often when judging those who pronounce God’s judgment on others. Yet, I must ask myself how open I am to receiving God’s judgment on my sin and the sin of my people, the church. Am I willing to be admonished by God’s Word in Scripture? Am I open to the possibility that God is using painful things in my life to help me become more like him? More on this tomorrow.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you think God judges his people today? If so, how does judgment come? What might help you to be attentive to God’s words of admonishment? How can we avoid self-righteousness as Christians?
PRAYER: Just and holy God, I admit that sometimes I like to build myself up by considering the sins of others. I suppose I’m even tempted to take solace in the thought that you are judging them and not me. Forgive me, Lord, for my self-righteousness. Forgive me for my lack of compassion. Forgive me for my hard-heartedness.
Give me ears, Lord, to hear what you would say to me. Give me eyes to see your work in my life. Give me a heart ready for repentance.
All praise be to you, O God, because you are making me more and more like you, through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.
Do I really love God?
I held the Bible open and read, beginning with Psalm 27, going backwards to Psalm 26 and 25; and then returning to Psalm 26. I walked in athletic shoes, wore jeans, and a nice shirt as I circled the building, praying and lost in the Psalms on a beautiful Sunday morning before service. The blue sky and the varied yellows of the trees across the street gave every indication of fall except for the warmer temperatures. It should feel cold today. It’s in the seventies. My soul, however, feels too cerebral; cold, like a fall day threatening snow.
I’m always planning, scheming, and thinking outside the box. It’s in my nature to plan ahead, to be creative, but I can be very cerebral—head minus heart. It’s something I grew into in my twenties and something I shed in my thirties. I like balance, but today I feel off balance. A friend had confided in me how she questions her love for God. Sometimes, she doesn’t feel the words in a song and thinks singing them anyway is anything but worship. Psalm 26:1 spoke to me.
Have I walked in integrity? Have I trusted in Him unwaveringly? Have I truly loved Him?
We all make decisions in our life that don’t always align with God’s truth. We lie to ourselves and to each other and excuse it away by saying, “everyone does it.” Does that make lying okay? Does that make your choices right? Does that help or hinder your relationship with Christ? If you answered yes to any of these, you’re lying again.
I’d like to say I walk with integrity though I really don’t bandy around that word much. I feel like such a hypocrite when I say it. I line up the word integrity with God’s perfect truth. So I rewrote the verse to read:
“Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have (tried to) (walk)ed in my integrity and I have (tried to) (trust)ed in the Lord without wavering.” (Emphasis mine)
This is what prayer walks do to me when I have countless minutes to dwell on scripture. My feet are circling the building, praying for the service, the church, and I am not dressed in a dress or heels. I wear athletic shoes because I know I will walk much this morning for Him. I think hiking boots and athletic shoes portray God’s people better than high heels, like Jesus’ sandals. I think jeans and a nice shirt say to someone who has nothing nice to wear on Sunday that they are welcome. Christianity is more than an image.
I think if we are to wear the Christian label we should be ever conscious of it in our actions and words. We should not make excuses for our behavior, but work out our own Salvation by trying to live in integrity each day and walking on level ground (Psalm 26:12a); not because we live by the law, but because we love our Lord, Jesus Christ however imperfectly. So Lord, help me today to walk in integrity and trust You unwaveringly. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Have you thought about your relationship with Jesus lately? Or do walk around on automatic doing everything because it’s become a tradition or something you swear an allegiance to? Or something you follow because everyone else is doing it?
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Memory Verse, Philippians 1:6
I get up and work out. The coffee pot begins to drip filling the house with that scent. My heart prepares in excitement for Donna Goodrich’s all day workshop. The day begins a mystery. I don’t know what each hour will bring or whether it will live successful. Will I absorb the wisdom of someone so much farther in her writing career or will my eyes glaze and my mind become a useless rubbery form in my struggle to focus? A good Starbucks will keep the blood flowing all day. A good lunch will silence the hunger like good knowledge will feed the hungry soul who yearns to grow, always grow.
It’s my birthday and my life holds moments, some steeped in waters of regret, and others glad moments that shine above the others through the veil of tears and the smoke of anger. I am 37-years old today and I feel as if I was just born eight years ago; still feeling so young and yet old, too from the experiences of my past. What could I possibly wish for in this life at 37-years old? More things? A larger house? A New York Times Best Seller manuscript? Always the word ‘more’ haunts our steps, mixes in our tears, and fills in the gaps of boredom; we’re always searching for ‘more’ and not one of our ‘more’ wishes include more God.
What is there in me that could be hidden from you, Lord, to whose eyes the abysses of man’s conscience are naked, even if I were unwilling to confess it to you? In doing so I would only hide you from myself, not myself from you. But now that my groaning is witness to the fact that I am dissatisfied with myself, you shine forth and satisfy. You are beloved and desired, so that I blush for myself and renounce myself and choose you, for I can neither please you not myself except in you.” -Augustine of Hippo, “Confessions,” From Prayer and Contemplation of From The Library of A.W. Tozer, Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey, by James Stuart Bell
The peace of the morning light fills the empty places of my home like the peace of God filling those empty places in my soul. I get out my Bible and open it to something that I have read before in the Book of Esther:
When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:12-14
God has a purpose for my life. I wasn’t born 37-years ago to live life as some people see me—a burden, a screw-up, a loser, someone who could not live through their dreams, or a by-product of a bad relationship. He separated me from them by cutting the ties that kept me back from fully living. Doubts once filled in my steps like ocean water in a freshly dug hole; or like the waves that always retreat. I will never retreat. I will never quit. I will never again think of me as a loser or a screw-up. I will never believe the lies again because Someone thought I was worth dying for on a cross.
And I call Him Christ.
I call Him Father.
I call Him Friend.
I call Him Dad.
Just because they call your life less-than, purposeless, and people tell you that you are a loser or a screw-up, it doesn’t mean they tell the truth. I once thought I was drowning. I could see the light gleaming on the surface of this great ocean of anger, grief, and confusion and tried to kick upward to break the surface and take in great gulps of air. The others held me down drowning me. They were like islands of seaweed in the ocean. The only one who dived in and wrapped His arm around my waist was Jesus. As I broke the surface I breathed in air and saw land in the distance. A struggle doesn’t last long and in the longsuffering comes redemption, joy, and love and a deeper relationship with Christ who saved me.
The world did not end today. I didn’t believe it would because not one of us knows the hour or the day according to scripture. I get another chance to love better. I get another chance to believe deeper. I get another chance to soak in the morning sunlight on my favorite chair. I get another chance to touch the lives around me and to be touched. I am 37-years old and tomorrow holds great promise.
Describe your trials. How did you allow Jesus to help you to overcome them? What did you get out of that harsh time in your life?
Week 3: Day 5 “Ears To Hear”
“We are warned in 2 Peter 2 of false teachers and their destructive doctrines. Check everything to make sure it lines up with what the whole Bible has to say. When statements are taken out of context or only part of a passage is used, God’s Word can become distorted. That is why, in my opinion, a personal study of God’s Word is vital to your spiritual growth. It helps you to become deeply grounded in your faith. My husband has read through the whole Bible at least six times. He says through this process, God opened his eyes to the way the whole Bible is totally interlinked from Genesis to Revelation. The Holy Spirit is waiting for us to dive into the Word so that He can make known God’s promises and wisdom (1 Cor. 2:13). Aren’t you thankful God gave us two ears to balance, not just one!” – Carla McDougal
“Dear Friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognise the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” – 1 John 4:1-6
Pastor Chris Inman from First Baptist Church of Prescott said in a sermon something like, “You can’t tell me you feel as if God is telling you to do something. Back it up by scripture. If it’s unbiblical, it’s not from God.” It’s not a direct quote. He said it a long time ago, but I have never forgotten its essence. It has helped me to write and rewrite my testimony. It has helped me to think through things with logic not just emotion. It has helped me to listen to that still small voice—the Holy Spirit.
False teachers and false doctrine do not come wrapped in recognizable packaging. It will not bear a tag that says, “I’m a false teacher,” or, “I’m false doctrine.” Rather, the packaging will appeal to you. Your own hurts and prejudices will compel you to it. It will sound good enough and you’ll want to believe it bad enough that you’ll overlook the parts that scripurally doesn’t make sense. The reasoning behind it may seem logical, but when backed by fact, you’ll find to your dismay it is not biblical. The world goes by what it feels when they hear something. False teachers and doctrine is not just a cult thing, but are also a Christian thing. Like it states in Revelation 2-3, you will find churches that follow false doctrine because it seems good at the time. If you look at their theology you will find they are not following the Bible, but instead, following their emotions and the way of the world. We are not meant to resemble the world. If we wish to please the world, we are nothing more than used car salesmen trying to sell to the world a more pleasing and compromising Jesus with impure motivations.
People make decisions every day. They heed the voices in their hearts. Usually, it’s an emotional decision not based on scripture and that voice will always lead you in the wrong direction. I’ve known people who make such decisions and their life is a mess. Their testimonies are useless because they have not learned how to clean up that mess. They continue to heed their emotional voice because it feels good leading them down the primrose path of disaster. They wish to live the way they want to live and not how Jesus would have them live. In the end, it usually makes them bitter because their decisions were not based on God at all, and they stop attending church.
I chose to love Tony based on emotion and based on his good leadership, his friendship, our common threads, and how he heeded God’s Word. His enthusiasm for the Bible infected me. We read the Bible together. Every marriage will have difficulty on some level, and though our marriage has been blessed, it has sustained itself through tribulation because we chose to stay together and love each other forever. We chose to listen to God and not our emotions when it came to making major decisions in our lives; major decisions that included the financial ones.
One day our Jeep barely rumbled to life, and the Holy Spirit told Tony it was time to buy a new car. Past financial disasters have cautioned me in spending large amounts of money, and I insisted that we pray before we went out to the dealerships.
“Lord,” I prayed. “Please find us a car with low mileage and payments at $200 a month. Lord, if this isn’t meant to be, please close all doors and help us find a good mechanic.”
The first dealership we visited did not cooperate. Then, Lamb in Prescott found us a car under 50,000 miles and payments at $206 a month. We listened to God and God answered supernaturally. I urge you to look in the Bible. There are many scriptures on spending and saving money. This is another good litmus test for wise decisions. The car suited our needs. It wasn’t a Jeep Rubicon or a ½-Ton Chevy Pickup, but it fits all of our camping gear and suited our outdoor life well. The low mileage came into play later when our truck died. Now that we are a one-car family the low mileage helps prolong the life of our new car. We based our decision on scripture and prayer.
How a church worships, what music they play, how friendly they are, or how many programs they have to suit your needs are not a good basis for a house of worship. How friendly they are depends upon your friendliness. How many programs they offer depends upon the amount of willing volunteers. Church worship and music do not indicate if this church has false teachers or false doctrine. Those are just personal tastes. There is nothing unbiblical about it. False teachers and false doctrine speak from the viewpoint of the world and are not based on the Bible.
Pastor Chris’ words have stuck with me. I like that in a church. I like hearing meaty sermons from the Bible. I know it’s a good church when Tony and I talk about the sermon on the way home, or I recall a lesson with scripture at just the right moment. It is God talking when scripture can back what I hear in my heart. There are many books, films, blogs and news stories that appeal to us emotionally. Some of those stories and blogs are not scriptural, like Eat, Pray, Love. They are influential because it seems good, but born on emotion. Emotion is the snake in the Garden of Eden. Test and examine everything against scripture.
How do you tell the difference between that inner voice and that still and quiet voice just underneath all the noise? If something seems good and correct, how do you know? Did you ever go with something that seemed good and appealing, but it led you to disaster? Tell us your story.