Archive for October, 2011

October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

by pastortimfowler

Halloween is here! The Great Pumpkin has arrived! And I am still saying, what’s the big deal? Halloween has always been the least favorite of holidays for me, even when I was a kid. I even waited late in the day to blog about it because I couldn’t think of much to say. What it the big deal about dressing up like someone else and going door to door asking for candy by using a phrase, that if it were taken literal, would make a lot of people mad when they got the trick?
I know a lot of fellow Christians and pastors who make a big deal of Halloween because it is the Devil’s night. Like every other night is free from demons? Then they try to fool everybody into thinking that the “Fall Festival” the church is having is not a Halloween party in costume as a fall festival. I have spent my entire pastor career trying to figure out why church people will not let their church celebrate Halloween at the church building, but everyone who has a kid, and some who don’t, celebrate it at home.
What about the same parents who complain about their kids getting jacked up on sugar throughout the year but take the same jacked up kids to get 50 gallon bags full of candy on Halloween. Is it like these kids will be better behaved because they were wearing a costume when they got it?
Some of the costumes that I see are quite crazy to figure out. I see wives dressed like hookers all the time on Halloween. Why won’t they dress that way any other time. It might spice up the marriage. Besides, these same wives who dress like hookers, okay, not all are hookers, but they sure look like it has something to do with sex, are the ones that complain when their husbands look at the women that they (wives) say dress like hookers. I only wish every wife would think about how confusing that is to us men. We are so weak and pitiful.
Guys don’t have a set costume that they wear. They seem to go for the random, whatever pops into my mind, way of choosing a costume. I think it would be much more fun if the guys put on the sexy outfits and complained when other wives looked. Somehow I think that there would be far less fighting about that one.
I don’t get it. I guess I will just play along when the wife comes home in her french maid outfit tonight. I just hope she brings some candy corn.

October 28, 2011

That Woman God Gave Me

by pastortimfowler

Okay, its time for me to do some flirting, or at least attempt to score a few brownie points, even though I don’t need them because she is already my favorite wife. Over the last couple of weeks I have seen a couple of moving stories about couples. One, long dead, was said to be 1500 years old and were buried holding hands, and the other was a couple who died holding hands after 72 years of marriage. WOW!
I have now been married longer than any of my children have been alive. As a matter of fact, I have been married longer than a lot of people in my congregation at my church. It will be 32 years this coming July and what is really weird is that I am still very young. I got married when I was a wee child of 18. If you are good at math, you can see that I am barely over 40 years old.
In my first church where I was pastor, there were lots of old people. At my current church there are not that many old people, but that’s another story. At that other church there were 4 couples who had been married for over 60 years. That was one of the highlights of that pastorate. I was always amazed at them and how much they still seemed to love each other. When I spent time with them, I always asked them to give me advice on how to keep my marriage together for that long, and remain as happy as they seemed. What they told me was not complicated and they all gave me the same four suggestions. Keep God in you marriage. Have fun and laugh at and with each other. Flirt so much that she/he never doubts that you find them attractive. Fight fair and make up quickly. After hearing these things, I immediately knew that I had a great chance of having a long marriage. Now all I have to do is not die soon.
I wish that I could say that I married my high school sweetheart and that we dated for years and were in church forever, but that is not true. I met her at a party, and we knew each other only 6 months before we got married. From the minute I saw her, I knew that I wanted to date her, of course I was only 17 and she was drop dead gorgeous and every other guy on the planet would want to date her too, but I wanted to date her right then. Thankfully, she was open to the idea of dating me and after a few months, I figured that I better lock this thing down before she realized what she was doing. So we got married and here it is almost 32 years later and she still has no idea what she has gotten herself into.
We have a great marriage. We love and serve God together. If I had to pastor a church without her, I probably wouldn’t. She is so gifted and humble and is a walking example of God’s grace. We have fun and laugh a lot. As different as we are, we purposefully do things together just for fun. She says that I am a comedian, but no one makes me laugh more than her. We flirt, I more than her. All she has to do is walk in the room and I think that she is flirting. I still by her flowers and candy for no specific reason, and she lets me stare at her. We fight. I would like to say we fight fair, but I am not sure if that would be true, but we do make up quickly. I hate it when she ignores me and she hates it when I act real stupid. So we still work on fighting fair, and for the most part, we do okay.
I love being married to her. I can’t imagine not having her around. I hope that we live to see our 80th wedding anniversary but if not, I hope that we have one of those stories that make people go awwww, when we kick the bucket. But mostly, I want to live a life in front of people that makes them want to be married. Marriage takes a bad rap these days and too many people are trying to find true love like they are test driving cars. True love doesn’t come until you have been married a while. The longer you are married, if you follow the advice from my friends, the greater your love will grow. And don’t think that all the fun ends with marriage and age. With greater love comes great joy and greater fun. My married life is better than ever, and it will probably only get better over the next 20 years or so. I am wildly, madly, passionately in love with my wife. Staying married to her is all the blessing I need. I am very grateful for that woman God gave me.

October 27, 2011

Take Me To Your Leader

by pastortimfowler

Who do you know that you would follow anywhere? Maybe a quick answer would be your spouse, but remember that I said anywhere. Would it be a policeman? How about your child? Now I want to ask, who would follow you anywhere and Why.
I am getting ready to read Dave Ramsey’s new book about leadership. It came highly recommended at a conference that I recently attended and because I like his approach to money and admire what he has done with his company, I want to see what he teaches about leadership. This is a subject that try to read at least a book or two a year about and I don’t think I can ever learn enough about the subject.
I often use the question, what kind of person must Jesus have been to have thousands of people follow Him into the wilderness without any food? Remember that they did not have drive-throughs, then, and restaurants were hard to come by in the wilderness. These people must have been crazy to follow a man they barely knew out into a hostile environment unless he had some pretty amazing qualities. This is the same man who told 12 men to follow Him and they left their jobs and did it for 3 years even though He continually told them that He was going to a cross to die.
As Christians, we are supposed to lead people to Jesus, and sadly, that does not happen with most of us in any great numbers. Sure, it is not an easy task in this present age, but I believe that there is one thing that is consistent that makes it easier, Jesus. He has not changed and He gives us the guidelines that allow this to happen. Maybe we should focus on those rather than what we are currently trying to do.
Leading others is something that takes a willingness to be bold and take the first step. But it also takes an ever-present awareness of watching the steps that we take as others are watching us. If we lead others in the wrong paths, who needs a leader? We must be willing to keep heading in the right direction even if people aren’t immediately following us. Sometimes people want to see if we believe that we are heading in the right direction before they tag along.
Another key to leading others and this is important, at least to me, is that they see joy in you as you head to where you are wanting to lead others. One of the promises of Jesus said that He would give us His joy. He did not say that he would make us happy or let us find joy, but rather He would give us the joy that He already had. To often I see Christians walking around as if they had lost their puppy or something. Even in church where we gather to worship, I see long faces and people afraid to act as if they believe that God is real. And after church if you go to a restaurant you will hear the church folks talking about long-winded preachers, bad music, and that hideous dress that she was wearing. To top it off, many waitresses will tell you that Sundays are their worst days for tips. Oh yeah, baby, follow me to life eternal! Where is the joy?
Leadership is not limited to CEO’s and Government officials and pastors. If you are a Christian you should take the lead. An old friend of mine once said that you only have to be one step ahead to lead. The challenge is to act like we want others to follow. Most people like the spotlight of leadership when there is a title and a pay-check involved, but Jesus tells us that the treasures in this world will go away, but the treasure in heaven are never-ending.
If you had to lead someone to a place that was as miserable as the wilderness of Israel, and you had no food, you had better be a dynamic person. Jesus was. But He did not say lead people to the wilderness, He said to lead them to Heaven, via Him. If McD’s was giving away free Big Macs and fries to everyone that you brought to them, you would have no problem putting on the smile and enthusiastically having people follow you there, even if it were the one across town. Jesus offers the Bread of life and Living Water and a place to stay in His mansion for all eternity to everyone you bring to Him. And, you won’t have to lead them far. Just take them to the cross.

October 26, 2011

No Accident

by pastortimfowler

A good friend of mine has been in the hospital for the last few days and thankfully he is about to be released. It was really weird the way it happened and how quickly it turned dangerous. One day he is at the doctor for a minor problem, an infection, and the next day he is in ICU because his blood pressure had bottomed out. I will probably regret saying this, but thank goodness his wife kept nagging at him to go to the emergency room and get checked out. I know that she will not call it nagging, but us guys know what I’m talking about.
Whenever this type thing happens it always causes me to reflect on how short this life is and how quickly we can lose it. My friend is a guy about my age, so young, and relatively healthy and a week ago you would have never thought that he would be in the hospital, much less ICU. We can have someone we love with us today and tomorrow God can take them away. It reminds me of this verse from the Bible: James 4:14 You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears. We rarely think of life this way until we are faced with these things.
So, what are you doing to make the most of this life? If you are like me, I often think about selfish things, like watching the football game or going fishing. But I am talking about making the most of life so that others can have it better. We are put here for a reason and somehow I don’t believe it was to be selfish. If so we are only here by mistake and there is no Creator, and if that’s the case, forget everyone, I’m going fishing.
When faced with the possibility of death being near, we often think, is there anything after this? There are very a few choices for what happens after death. If there is no God, no Creator, no Higher being who has any moral fortitude, then we don’t have to worry about what we do in this life. Unless you believe in reincarnation, but even then if there is no judge of what is a good life, then it is just the luck of the draw. With my luck, I would come back as a cricket or a worm being sold in a bait shop. But if we die and that is it, life just ends, we should not worry about doing anything more than what feels good to self. I can’t even make a good argument for being a good husband and father if there is no moral higher being that we have to answer too when we die.
As a pastor I have had to sit in hospital rooms with people who are dying, both young and old. I can’t recall anyone ever saying that they wished they had done more for themselves, but rather the opposite, they wish they had done more for others. Funny how people closest to death think very seriously about what is after death and those of us who seem to be a long way from death seem to be quite selfish thinking. But with what happened to my friend, healthy one day and in ICU the next, we all should be thinking a little more about how close to death we might really be.
I wrote in my blog yesterday that I wished that people would think a little more for themselves about things instead of listening to what others say. I think that holds true for how we think about God. I believe that there is a Creator who loves me and will judge the things that I have done. I believe that He offers forgiveness because He loves me and that He wants me to know Him. I believe that God wants everyone to know Him and that if we just thought logically, we might have reason to think that perhaps there is a God. Just look at the world around us. It has design and purpose and where there is design and purpose there is a designer. Let me leave you with this to think about.
If you had never seen a watch, but found one as you were walking along the beach one day, would you think that the watch formed by accident? After all, the sand contains the minerals needed to make the watch and the force of the ocean and gravity and the occasional asteroid crashing into the beach would create the heat needed to form the glass and if lightening stuck at the right time it would cause an electrical charge that would power the watch, right? Of course not. Although you couldn’t explain it, you would think that someone made it. Perhaps a watch maker.  And if you searched, you could find this watchmaker or at least someone who knew him or enough about him to learn what the watch was and how to use it.
I can tell you about my Creator, if you really want to know. Life is not an accident.

October 25, 2011

Save The World?

by pastortimfowler

I was sent a disturbing email today from a friend whose company is circulating a warning to its employees about the new light-bulbs and their dangers. The pictures that went with it were very graphic and showed a person’s foot that had been cut by a broken bulb and how the mercury in these bulbs caused massive damage to the foot. I have to be honest with you, I would rather have the earth warm up a half a degree over the next 50 years than to suffer this kind of damage from a light bulb breaking. But nobody questions the “green” people, ’cause they are saving the planet.
When are we going to stop having knee jerk reactions to “science” that is wishy-washy at best. Are you willing to cut down on CO2, which is produced by every air-breathing animal on the plant, far more than our cars produce, and is absorbed by plants, which in return give off oxygen, (remember real science?) in exchange for light bulbs that contain deadly mercury? How does this save the planet? We quit making thermometers that used mercury because there is no doubt that mercury kills, but save the planet, kill the foot lights are okay?!?!
What about the electric car? Has anyone thought of the dangers that are going to come from these? First, the hypocrisy. “Green” people have been telling us about the evils of plastic for a long time now. How it sits in landfills for thousands of years without breaking down. Here’s an idea, leave it out in the sun for a few months and watch in deteriorate. But these same people want us to use lots of large batteries that are housed in plastic to run our cars. What about the chemicals that are in these plastic laden batteries? You mean to tell me that they are safer than the bi-product of us exhaling? I can’t wait for the interstates to be shut down for days due to hazmat teams having to clean up toxic chemicals from the two electrics cars that are saving our planet. I just hope the wind doesn’t ever stop blowing or it never rains again so that the clean energy needed to charge these cars save us from the evil fossil fuels that are reliable and not as toxic as the light bulbs we are being forced to use.
I read where global warming was real. The scientist had determined that the average temp in Antarctica had risen 1.24 degrees over the last 40 years. The average summer temperature there is -17.5 degrees Fahrenheit. So if that is the adjusted temperature for global warming, ICE STILL DOESN’T MELT! And if the average temperature in your neck of the woods is 65, 75, or 85, what changes in your life if now it is 66.5, 76.5, or 86.5? The answer is…nothing.
My dad taught me as I was growing up not to litter, not to pour oil down the drain, and how to keep my car running at its peak efficiency. He made sure that if we went fishing or hunting or camping that we left the place cleaner than when we arrived. I don’t believe in being reckless with our planet, but also don’t believe that humans can destroy it, short of an all out nuclear war. The Bible says that the planet will be here until God decides to wrap it up, not man. I am going to trust God over the weird science of today that is often tied to political motivations and government grants, oh yeah, that goes back to political motivations.
Its time that we began to use our common sense and not be afraid to question something just because it is popular. I love the new light bulbs for the fact that they last a long time. I like being able to make pigs out of watermelons and using the light bulbs as the pig’s tail. I am just not willing to blindly say that it is a better bulb because someone who overlooked the dangerous mercury in them, tells me that it will save the planet. I am not going to buy a car that runs off electricity until someone tells me that it is okay to walk through the chemicals that will spill out if I am in a wreck that busts these planet saving plastic encased batteries, AND…they can prove to me that rechargeable batteries in my car are better than the ones that I just through away because they only lasted 10 minutes in my flashlight. I don’t want to drive my 100 miles on a charge to find out I can’t get home because the next charge only takes me 90 miles.
Think about it.

October 24, 2011

Was It A Tree?

by pastortimfowler

Quite often I will get questions about things that people read in the Bible that catch their eye, or perk their curiosity, and in some cases, even cause doubt. These are always great teaching opportunities and I always welcome these questions. Here is one I received the other day; When speaking of the crucifixion, I have heard songs that mention a tree, and others a cross and even the Bible uses these two terms. Why?
There are a couple of places that come to mind where the Bible uses the term tree for the crucifixion. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (KJV)
22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:
23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
Galatians 3:13 (KJV)
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
In both of these the word tree is translated from the Hebrew word in Deuteronomy, and the Greek word in Galatians, from a word that means timber, wood, or plank. That definition makes it pretty easy to clear up any confusions, seeing how the cross was definitely made of wood. Some modern translations use the word pole in place of tree. I think the confusion comes from what we know as a cross and a pole. Let me try to enlighten you.
There is some debate among biblical scholars about methods of crucifixion because of these words. Some think that people were hung on a single pole, with their hands directly overhead. There are some recorded instances of this method being used, but not so much in the area and time that Jesus was crucified in. But my opinion is that the traditional cross, with two pieces was used.
The crosses were stored unassembled. Just piles of wood or timber. Everyone knew they were there for the making of crosses, but until needed they were just poles or trees. No one in those times had any confusion about what was meant when a tree was mentioned in context with crucifixion. Much like today if I were talking about baseball and the batter put some wood on the ball, we would not think that he had a pine tree in his hand, but rather a baseball bat, even if the bat was aluminum.
Either way the crucifixion was a cruel and humiliating way to put someone to death. It was where our sins were put to death by our Savior Jesus Christ. He hung on the tree so that we didn’t have to. Have took our curse, and gave us forgiveness and eternal life. He was not left on the tree, He was put in a borrowed tomb and rose from the grave three days later. The tree or cross was only a way of displaying to the world that sin had been nailed to cross, left there when Christ’s body was taken away. I know you don’t see the sin when you see the cross, but that is because the blood of Jesus covered the sin of humanity.
And one last thing, the verse in Deuteronomy 21:23, that is listed above, is another reason that I say that believers should be buried and not cremated. It is part of the law and we were never told to stop obeying the law. God ahead, blast back at me if you want too.

October 21, 2011

What To Do, What To Do?

by pastortimfowler

As the weekend rolls in and the workweek ends, it is time to think about what to do with the family. If you are like most, money is tight and many are choosing to sit home and yell at the kids and make the wife clean house while dads watch football. Sure this sounds great, but I want to give you some suggestions that might score a few brownie points with the family and don’t cost a whole lot.
One thing I like to do is catch a football game on the weekends, but NFL and NCAA games are expensive and usually sold out this late in the season unless you are a Panthers fan, and then who really cares. But there are a lot of smaller colleges that have teams and the tickets are very cheap and they rarely get an enthusiastic crowd. What if you took the family there and tailgated with several other families from your church and everyone act as if they were at “the big game”? If you don’t have a small college, do it with a local High School team. If everyone has a good time you are a hero, and if not, you didn’t waste much money and are close to home.
This is a great time of year for driving to a pumpkin patch, taking a hay ride, or driving around to look at fall colors. Before you leave, you can make some hot apple cider, bake some cookies and tell everyone to have the cameras ready. If you don’t like or can’t make cider, maybe the preferred drink would be to heat up some good ol’ cow squeezin’s and make hot chocolate. For the ride to look at the fall colors, you don’t even have to spend much in gas. Ride around your town and judge the best trees in town, either in different neighborhoods, or public parks.
Many churches are doing fall festivals now. These are usually free, with lots of activities for the family. If your church is doing one and you aren’t working it, check out a few other churches and spread the love. Some churches even have their versions of haunted trails and “helloween” dramas. I would check out the age appropriateness before choosing these.
If the weather is nice and none of these seem appealing, you can always spend the day at a park. This is a great time of year to walk a nature trail, swing and climb monkey bars. Take the portable grill or a picnic basket and make a day of it. Have the kids make a leaf collection them go home and iron the leaves between wax paper.
Then there is the old faithful, movie night. Pick something that everyone has seen a bunch of times and randomly yell out the lines before they are said. Make up alternate lines that you would rather have them say. Of course you will need plenty of popcorn and drinks and don’t forget the Milk Duds, or as I like to call then, Cow Squeezin’s Duds.
There is no excuse for not having fun this weekend with your family. If you don’t have a family, I will lend you mine. I hate doing this kind of stuff…just kidding. One last thing that you can do with the whole family is rake the leaves into a pile then take turns jumping into them. This will get that pesky yard work done and have a little fun too.
Now you have no excuses for not having an answer when someone asks, What to do, what to do?

October 20, 2011

God Said No

by pastortimfowler

Last night I got a call from the church where the ladies of the church were doing their weekly Bible study. I was in the shower and usually don’t get calls, nor do I usually have my phone in the bathroom with me, but, it happened that this time I did. When I saw the number and realized who it was, I had thoughts of possible trouble, that is why I answered, but it turned out that they had a question about something that they were studying.
The study is about women in the Bible and this night they were studying a woman who was assumed to be able to talk to the dead and had been asked by King Saul to call up Samuel from the dead and to her surprise he showed up. The question was; did this woman actually call Samuel from the dead or was it a trick. When you read the text it can be a bit vague.
I do not believe this woman or anyone else had or has the power to talk to dead people. I believe that when you die you go straight to heaven or hell and people on this earth will not talk to you again because of some mystical powers. Now if God decides to let it happen, then I will believe it. But those instances are rare, at best.
God says many times in His word that people who claim to summon the dead and practice soothsaying and conjuring of spirits are evil. I am not talking about childish games and spooky fun, but I do caution people against that. I am talking about so-called mediums who practice this seriously. They are not of God and God does not use them.
I believe in this case, God, who knows everything, knew that these two would have this meeting and He sent Samuel back to mess them up. If you read the story, it did. I do not think nor believe that it had anything to do with her “powers” because there are no such things. If someone does actually talk to “someone” during one of these meetings it is not a person but a demon. Yes, I believe in demons. It was good enough for Jesus, its good enough for me.  God does not tell us to not do something because it is sinful, then change His mind and allow it to happen. When we read the Bible, this is important to remember and will help us to better understand the Bible. Keeping the focus on God’s holiness and His consistency will allow us to think of more logical explanations to scripture that may seen difficult to understand. It is important to know the context of the scripture,  read the whole account, then comparing it with the whole Bible and the facts and doctrines that run throughout it.
I know that there are always skeptics out there who are looking for ways to prove the Bible wrong or look for double standards, and I will admit that there are things that are very difficult to reckon with, but that does not mean that there are those things that these people are looking for. And my point is not to argue with anyone about these things either. I wanted to put it out that when you find yourself, as a Christian, struggling with something that seems to not make sense, those basic rules will help to sort it out.
My parents use to say something that I swore I would never do when I grew up and had kids. They use to tell us when we would ask why, “Because I said so”. I hated it and did not understand it, but I have now done it. Sometimes there does not need to be an explanation, especially when God says “no”.

October 18, 2011

How To Forgive

by pastortimfowler

Forgiving is not easy. It is something that God requires Christians to do, but few Christians seem to be able to do it. Even when we say we are forgiving someone, those old feelings of anger and resentment have a way of coming back. This past Sunday I preached about how we love the fact that God forgives us when we ask, but we tend to make people wait on the forgiveness that we should give. But, for many, we want to and try to forgive but get stuck with the residue of hurt and bitterness. Here are a few things that you can do if and when you struggle with forgiving someone.
First, and this is important, we are not God and cannot forget the past. We are told that God never brings up our sins again after they are forgiven, and we hear people say stuff like, forgive and forget. But we can’t forget. What we must do is daily and if necessary hourly, every minute, or every second, remind ourselves that we chose to forgive. The Apostle Paul said that he died daily to sin. In other words, he reminded himself everyday that the old man was gone and now he was a new creature in Christ. Just like every other sin we struggle with, forgiveness is a sin that has to be dealt with daily. God is perfect and His forgiveness is perfect, ours is not.
Second, we need to do everything possible to grow in our Christian lives. There are a few wonderful verses Peter’s 2nd letter that can help. 2 Peter 1:5-8 says to add to our faith, purity, to purity, knowledge, to knowledge, self-control and so on. If we ever think that we are as good as we get in our Christian lives, we are going to stumble. Forgiveness takes maturity and to mature as a Christian, you need, Bible, prayer, church, and practice, and of course, God.
Third, sometimes we feel like that person is not getting what they deserve. This is common, but we must remember that God is the one who will judge the unrighteous, and Psalms 7:11 says, God is a fair judge, a God who is angered by injustice every day. We must trust that if there is an injustice, God will deal with it, we don’t have to. But if God has forgiven that person, and we don’t know if they have asked or not, but if so, then it is forgiven and we need to let it go.
Forth, if possible, tell the person that you forgive them. Be prepared for them to say that they did nothing to need forgiving, but if there has been a real wrong committed, let them know you forgive them. If this is not possible, write out what they did on paper. Write down how you feel and your desire to forgive. Daily, or as often as needed, pray over it and ask God to take away all bitterness and resentment and that your desire is to forgive completely. Let God know that you are weak and that you need His strength to release it. Once you have been freed from this, burn the paper and thank God for the release. Thank Him for forgiving you and forgiving the person you just forgave or if you think that person is not a Christian, pray for their salvation.
Forgiveness is hard, but it is beautiful when it comes in fullness. You can forgive because, Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.

October 17, 2011

Dead Dreams

by pastortimfowler

Here goes another blog on a subject that will probably irritate some people and I have to say that the idea was not mine, but that dear friend of mine whom I keep referring too and who I think must like to see me get yelled at, (figuratively). This one is, what I think about people who die and get visions or messages from the other side then come back to tell others what they have seen. She wants MY OPINION, not hard-core facts, unless I have hard-core facts, and I have a few.
My first thought on this is that people want to write a book and get rich. There are a few who have done this and because of the success of a few, others want to follow. But that does not explain that some of these folks may have had something that they think is an out-of-body experience that lead them to heaven or hell during a near death or coma experience. Because I have never had one of these visions, although I have almost died a few times, mostly my stupidity that caused it, I can’t speak from experience. So to say that people did not see something would be a tough one for me to do. But I do not believe that people are really going to heaven or hell. I think that there are two possibilities.
First, people are dreaming. Some would say that these dreams are too similar to be coincidences. But I would say that people have similar dreams all the time and I am talking about people who do not know each other and live nowhere near each other. How about the dreams of falling in your sleep? What about dreams of winning the lottery? What about the dreams of someone chasing you in a dark alley and you can’t scream? All these are dreams that many people have and they are all similar and we can’t explain why, other that our sub-conscience has ways of dealing with things through dreams. Maybe this is a common dream for people who are very sick or near death.
Second, scientists who study the brain will tell you that when someone is near death, certain chemicals are released and can cause hallucinations or the “white light” experience. I got hit in the head really hard one time and was almost knocked out.  When I was hit I briefly saw a bright light. Many people say they see white light when they are about to pass out or even just before “going under” anesthesia. This explains some of the similarities in what is seen, and we don’t know that people who nearly die or in deep comas don’t dream, hear people in their room, or even the TV, when it is left on. All these things could be confused and this might explain the “message” people get from God, or Satan, or Zeus, or whoever they think they heard from.
Biblically I can only refer to these verses to dispute this claim of new words from God. Revelation 22:18-19 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy in this book: If anyone adds anything to this, God will strike him with the plagues that are written in this book. 19 If anyone takes away any words from this book of prophecy, God will take away his portion of the tree of life and the holy city that are described in this book.
This seems to be clear to me, a Christian, that God is not giving out new words for humanity in general. I do believe that God speaks through people, like pastors and teachers and even regular old Christians who are sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I have spoken, what I believe are God inspired messages and have had others speak them to me, but this differs from something that would be added to what the Bible teaches. These would only confirm, compliment, or is inspired by scripture.
So that leaves it open to think that it could be possible to hear from God in a dream, I believe I have in the past. This could happen to someone near death or in a coma. But most of what I have read or heard from these books or stories, is often conflicting to what the Bible says or just doesn’t feel right to me. I think that there is a lot of interest in the afterlife and rather than trust the Bible, people want to hear it from people like themselves. And that holds true about many other things. But I will leave you with this last scripture to keep in mind. Proverbs 14:12 s There is a way that seems right to a person, but eventually it ends in death.

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