25-Year-Old Shares Testimony of Heaven and Hell

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” — Acts 2:17, NIV

“Pastor Kyle Searcy continues the FAHOW [Fresh Anointing House of Worship] ‘Shine: Living A Life That Matters In Eternity’ sermon series with a powerful interview with 25-year-old Josh Miles and his father Willie Miles. On January 3rd [2020] Josh was rushed to the hospital after his temperature spiked to 106 degrees. His father says during the car ride to the hospital Josh lost consciousness, but Josh says he left his body and encountered hell and then heaven. When he finally reached the hospital and awoke doctors informed him he experienced a heart attack, stroke, and seizures.”

YouTube video description, dated March 1, 2020

It’s the Light, Not the Leap

“…that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on the power of God.”

“…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

1 Corinthians 2:5, Hebrews 11:1

If I do say so myself, I wrote the most amazing sentence this past week in an email exchange with an extraordinarily bright, non-religious, long-time friend.

Let’s call him John, and his irenic response to that sentence inspired this column.

John had commented wryly but critically about a recent op-ed piece I had written, “On Facemasks … Who Are We?” It was an editorial about American character, COVID-19, and hiding the identity God gave to us behind a facemask.

John’s public observation contained what seemed to be ad hominem vitriol. I pushed back, but our ensuing non-public exchange was thought-provoking. He noted: “My lack of faith means I do take things more objectively, and though your words were almost poetic it might not resonate as deeply with me as it would with a Christian. …”

A nice compliment from a smart guy that revealed a common error about “faith.”

I responded, “Great note John. I deeply appreciate your sincerity. Don’t ever think lack of faith makes one more objective; it makes one (maybe not you) less able to embrace the existence of objective truth, which requires faith. …”

That was my “amazing sentence,” in case you couldn’t tell. I continued briefly about being 47 when I “got” Christ, what a deeply intellectual journey my faith-growth has been, and I noted John’s keen capacity to parse and understand virtually anything.

To that John replied, “I love how your journey has … led you into sureness that (in my wry and respectful observation) you can use a phrase like ‘embracing the existence of objective truth requires faith.’ I … understand that after you have crossed that faith bridge you are no longer tentative but living in a new certainty, such that a phrase that seems to be a contradiction in terms isn’t a contradiction at all.”

And there it is, this week’s column: objectivity vs. faith. John was gently, eruditely, and without condescension acknowledging that what is a contradiction to him, i.e., “objective truth which requires faith,” he understands is not a contradiction to me.

And that seeming contradiction, friends, is what limits the world. It also largely defines today’s truth-obviating post-modernism which positions “truth” as objectively incompatible with the inferior “faith” as objective proof of the reality of Jesus Christ.

John also cited the “metaphysics” required for me to take such a “leap of faith.”

It reminded me—and underscored—how western civilization overly-relies on the ancient Greek philosophical axiom that reality and objectivity are confined to that which can be seen (or discussed) and “proven.” I also think of Francis Bacon’s 17th century “scientific method” that adds “repeatability” to the proof of “scientific” reality. These worldly constructs exclude faith and combine to vacantly imply, “Faith isn’t objective.”

Really? Which is closer to objectivity: God the Creator of all things, His infinite love and eternal relationship, that He made humanity in His own image, and lights our lives with Christ, or the machinations, variations, limitations, and opinions of fallen men?

Life’s objective truth is not a leap of faith; it is a faithful walk in the light of Jesus.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) met John (smart even back then) in Little League. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.

Letting Truth Out of the Bag

“When the Counselor comes, who I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about me.”

Jesus, in John 15:26

A little more than a year ago I inherited the teaching duties in our church’s Thursday morning seniors “Mustard Seed” Bible study fellowship. At age 65 I am the “kid” in the group, and I can barely describe how enriching it is to share Scripture with this weekly group of seasoned, Bible-savvy saints.

Currently we have not met since Thursday, March 12, which was pretty much the last open day in Indiana before everything, including our East 91st Street Christian Church, area schools, and public meetings started shutting down Friday, March 13.

Mustard Seed–no argument there–is the kind of group that especially needs not to meet when a pandemic like COVID-19 is an evident danger to older folks.

But what I wanted to talk about this week is not the dire, dour, and depressing isolation of our nation’s and indeed the world’s present situation. Nor can I think of anything new to say about our individual and largely home-bound circumstances. To all those folks still out there working every day in hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations, and other life-saving and society-sustaining endeavors, I say “Thank You!”

What I do want to discuss is the plain-as-the-nose-on-my-face fact that perhaps the greatest joy-robbing, hope-jangling feature of this unprecedented time is the utter absence of what I would call reliable truth about virtually anything having to do with the reporting, media narrative, and politics surrounding the pandemic. Who can we trust? 

From China to Washington state to New York City to Washington D.C. to Italy to my home here in Fishers, Indiana, I wonder who is pushing which social, political, or economic agenda. What is the real danger: the disease or our reaction to it? Since “tomorrow is guaranteed to no one,” let’s not panic about the presently more intense vagaries of “tomorrow.” What we all need are facts and truth, not fear and spin.

I started by talking about “Mustard Seed” because our past several months have been a study of “The Words of Jesus.” Especially illuminating to me personally, in the Last Supper and Gethsemane sections of John 14-17, is Jesus talking through these four entire chapters about God’s unwavering righteousness, eternal truth, boundless love, infinite glory, their relationship… and His disciples’ responsibilities going forward. 

This truth–His truth–marches on. In His last hours it is virtually all Jesus talks about.

When we can’t see truth–in anything, whether particular or whole–our human misery most likely is in our inability to see God, relate with Jesus, and listen to the Holy Spirit. The world, for unrighteous reasons in times like these, prefers our focus to be on fear and anxiety. These are man’s evil shackles that choke our free breath in Christ.

I listen carefully for God’s truth. I know that’s what Jesus brought into the world–freedom not just from our own sin and the wiles of wicked men and women, but toward faith, hope, love, peace, creativity, and joy that our trust in God’s eternal truth assures.

What a better world we make, and what joy we reap, when we believe in and testify to God’s truth. The fallen world controls us in fear, but Jesus by His life, death, resurrection, and sending of the Spirit let God’s righteous, saving truth out of the bag.  

Sometimes we have to fight for that truth, but our joy always is in knowing it.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) watches little mainstream news but stays informed and prays big sincere prayers… regularly. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.

Disease: Happenstance or Planned Event?

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

3 John 1:2, KJV

Be in Health is a unique ministry that focuses on spiritual roots to health and disease. They recently hosted a five-night event called “Disease: Happenstance or Planned Event?” Each session is available on YouTube!

Session 2

Session 3

Session 3.5

Session 4

Session 5

Dr. Henry Cloud Has a Talk Show!

The doctor is in! Psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud is ready to answer your life questions on his brand new talk show. Tune in on YouTube at 4PM EST (1PM PST), or call (844) 940-2774 with your question. Catch all the episodes on Dr. Cloud’s YouTube Channel.

Among other books, Dr. Cloud is the co-author of Boundaries and author of Necessary Endings and Changes that Heal. He recently launched a new church-based initiative at churchesthatheal.com.

How Great Is Our God and D-B-R

We acknowledge and celebrate another Easter weekend in America and around the world. This year is an unusual one under the threat and confusion from a novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. Being confined at home and from work has provided safety and health, but it has also provided much time with individuals and families to ponder and wonder.

This writer is gratefully living his sixth human decade as well as the fourth decade of marriage and Christian conversion in that order. Many questions about religion and Biblical history continue to intrigue me. My best answers still come from those sixty-six books called the Bible.

We remember Good Friday and Easter Sunday which are celebrated as holidays and holydays. Even The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2020 continues to publish national and religious holidays and observances. What makes Good Friday and Easter Sunday unique is explained in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The last three chapters of each Gospel record what has been heralded as holy week (Note: see John Chapters 13–21). What started in the Old Testament book of Exodus is fulfilled according to those New Testament Gospels. Our calendars mark this ONCE-in-history-event when the Nazarene was crucified for claiming to be God! (Religious freedom should have been practiced then).

The Old Testament Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread were established according to Exodus Chapters 11–13. The New Testament book of Hebrews explains this very thoroughly. Passover is always celebrated in the spring months on the fourteenth day of the Moon. We know that fourteenth lunar day as Full Moon and our modern calendars show the separation between the Passover date and Good Friday. In this leap year, the Full Pink Moon occurred on Tuesday night, April 7, 2020. Good Friday and Easter Sunday are fixed days nearest the Passover Full Moon.

This Saturday before sunrise, while some of you were sleeping and others working, this writer awakened wondering, “What about Saturday?” Then D-B-R hit me: the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ Jesus!

“And going a little farther, He fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.'”

Mark Chapter 14:35–36, ESV

Jesus said that in the garden of Gethsemane under the Full Moon! He never slept from sunrise Thursday through the following sunrise Friday, the day of His crucifixion. That was a horrific Friday for Him, but the Good Friday for humanity’s second chance! So what about Saturday? Christ Jesus was dead in a borrowed tomb on the Day of Rest, which was established in Genesis 2! Four thousand years of history and humanity and He gets another day off? He said He would do this since Genesis Chapter 3. His prophets said so many times in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 18, Psalm 22, Isaiah 7 and 53, and Jonah 2 are a few examples of His way to eternal life. All four Gospels record a risen Christ Jesus. Sunday before sunrise He arose and demonstrated His control and power over life and death. Maybe Saturday is our time to rest and ponder this special weekend!

Ernie & Ruth Poani

At your service with telescopes and sky. Sign up for our mailing list, request a back issue, or send a copy to a friend. Contact us at (217) 361-6374 or email erp72creek@yahoo.com.

Virtual Passover with Marty Goetz

Marty Goetz is a talented Messianic Jewish musician and composer who opened his home virtually to share a Passover Seder with friends and family. Take a look!

“Growing up in a Jewish family in Cleveland, Ohio, I always celebrated two nights of Passover. We joined others throughout the world in recounting the ancient story of our deliverance from slavery in Egypt. That miraculous event happened to a people instructed to stay in their dwellings until the ‘angel of death’ had passed over their homes, marked with the blood of the Passover lamb. As we all find ourselves in a similar situation, shut in, due to our ‘current crisis,’ we hope for our own miracle as we celebrate this second night of Pesach (Passover). From our family to yours, we invite you to join us for a mini-Seder and our observance of this timeless festival of freedom. Chag Sameach!”

Fourth Day Gazette, Spring 2020

Honoring Our Creator & Defending a Created Universe

Vol. 24, No. 01

And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the Sun and the Moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

Deuteronomy 4:19, ESV

Welcome to Fourth Day Gazette 82 (FDG-82), the 24th Anniversary edition. Watching the “outer creation” with a telescope is my brief definition of astronomy. Many people think astrology and astronomy are the same thing. The scripture above clearly separates worshiping from watching. Practicing the horoscope is a modern violation of that scripture and is a branch of idolatry. FDG-12 Dec. 1998 provided a thorough challenge to astrology verses astronomy. (Note: to access past issues of the Fourth Day Gazette (FDG), email erp72creek@yahoo.com).

Diagram courtesy of Guy Ottewell, October 2019

Venus the Evening Star

Venus the Evening Star shines bright in the west sky until summer 2020. That is an unusual pattern for a planet which normally crosses the night sky in a period of six months. The diagram shows how the second planet from the Sun moves around the west sky. It indicates size and brightness but is exaggerated in scale. If we were closer to Venus to match the view we would be toast, literally. Start your watch at dusk looking southwest (about 15-30 minutes after sunset) on a clear evening sky. You cannot mistake Venus since it is the brightest object other than the Moon and Sun. Notice that it slowly winds around and is farthest left of the sunset in January and February. Venus crosses the ecliptic plane (dotted line) into the northern hemisphere. It slowly moves toward the Sun by June. Seasons are changing as the sunrise begins earlier and the sunset begins later. 

You are watching the planet that is almost as large as Earth but was created 25 million miles closer to the Sun than we are. Yes it is very, very hot there. We can see phases of Venus that similar to those of our Moon, as the diagram illustrates. Venus grows much brighter from March to May as it approaches the sunset. Venus reaches maximum brightness passing between Earth and the Sun as a crescent shape, seen through even a small (2 inch or 50 mm diameter) telescope! WARNING: Do not follow Venus to the Sun because that is dangerous to your eyesight! 

The Hand of God

Watching any planet allows you to discover our Creator’s handiwork. We use the planets and stars to mark seasons as they cross our night sky; plus, between sunset and sunrise we can define night time. They do cross the day sky but we cannot see them normally. That big bright light (Sun) outshines the darkness and illuminates our daytime. During a Total Solar Eclipse it can become dark enough to see stars and planets for up to ten minutes. The other big object defines our months. We call it the Moon. 

“Yours is the day, Yours also the night;
You have established the heavenly lights and the Sun.
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
You have made summer and winter.”

Psalm 74:16-17, ESV

Orion


Constellation Orion shines until April as it crosses our night sky. The hourglass-sevenstars are a winter constellation. Three belt stars mark the equatorial plane of Earth. Two top stars mark the north end and two more the lower south end.

Noah’s Flood on North America

Thanks to Dan A. Biddle, Ph. D., and Genesis Apologetics for their documentary video on Noah’s Flood:

Overhead we have busy night skies. 

Full Moons

On March 9, April 7, May 7, and June 5 we can enjoy Big Bright Full Moons. They occur at or near Perigee when the Moon is closest to Earth. 

Eclipses

There will be six (count them!) eclipses in 2020. Four of them (the ones in January 10, June 5, June 21, and December 14) are not visible in the continental USA. Two late night lunar eclipses are July 4 and November 29 which are penumbral or involve the dim shadow only. So we cannot enjoy any of the eclipses this year. Readers on the rest of God’s Globe can see the top four eclipses. Timing and our location determines how many of us see them! 

However, 2021 and 22 will begin another set (those terrible tetrads) of four total lunar eclipses.

Jupiter and Saturn

Planets Jupiter and Saturn will shine best from June to December as they move closer together for a grand conjunction on December 20-22, 2020. 

Mars

Planet Mars will cross our sky again. It will be biggest and brightest in September 2020 and the best we shall see until September 2035! 

You early risers can see three planets an hour before sunrise. Look southeast for Mars, Saturn and Jupiter lined up. They are closest together in March and April. 

Spring

March and April brings seasonal change and festivals. The annual vernal equinox or Spring begins early on Thursday March 19. Notice that sunrise and sunset occur directly east and west. Afterwards, days will become longer and nights will become shorter. 

Passover & Easter

The Full Pink Moon on Tuesday April 7, is not only the biggest and brightest, but will also begin a historical festival at sunset which began according to Exodus Chapter 12 about 3470 years ago! Modern Israelites and Christians celebrate Passover, which is a festival of deliverance and sacrifice.

While naturalistic cultures await an extraterrestrial to visit Earth, the scriptures record a visitor known as Emmanuel (one reason for modern Christmas). All four biblical Gospels record His arrival and departure and a 33 year period of historical monumental proportions! 

Then the unbelievable occurred when Emmanuel fulfilled the Exodus Passover on a Friday of Crucifixion. Our Messiah, Christ Jesus (the Anointed One) gave up His spirit (died) and then rose again (was resurrected) three days later. Modern sanctimonious terminology is “Good Friday” and “Easter.” Forty days later, He left Earth and returned to Heaven-above, in front of witnesses according to Acts Chapter 1

Which Is More Unbelievable?

So this writer asks, which is more unbelievable: Our Creator produced all reality, or millions and billions of years of evolution from atoms and humans, for what? A clue: when America was discovered, most explorers acknowledged our Creator and Nature as His handiwork. 

Ernie & Ruth Poani

At your service with telescopes and sky. Sign up for our mailing list, request a back issue, or send a copy to a friend. Contact (217) 361-6374 or email erp72creek@yahoo.com.

Coronavirus: Unshakable Faith in a World That is Being Shaken

The following is a World Challenge podcast. It was originally published here.

We are living in shaky times. As a global pandemic of coronavirus makes its way around the globe, taking lives, crashing stock markets and threatening the livelihood of millions, people are afraid. How are you doing handling the fear. Or maybe put another way, how’s your faith holding up? In this special edition of the Gary Wilkerson podcast, Gary is joined by Keith Holloway, the Senior Director of Missions Development at World Challenge to talk about faith in a time of fear. We hope this podcast gives you hope and encouragement that even in desperate times like these, God is in control.

Notable Quotes from the Podcast

“…in the midst of all the shaking that’s going on in the world today, there is an unshakable foundation. There is an internal foundation of an unshakable faith, of an unshakable hope, of an unshakable resolve that I know my Redeemer lives and I know there’s joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

Gary Wilkerson

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

Martin Luther

“We are born again believers. We’re walking in the natural, but we’re also being led and guided and controlled by the Holy Spirit. So, it’s an awesome time for us to not feel diminished, but to actually feel prepared for this hour where we have an answer of the hope that lies within us…”

Keith Holloway

Bible Verses Mentioned in the Podcast

“When God spoke from Mount Sinai His voice shook the earth, but now He makes another promise: ‘Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.’ This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe.”

Hebrews 12:26-28, NLT

“The Lord reigns; Let the earth rejoice;”

Psalm 91:1a, NIV

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast 

About Keith Holloway

Keith Holloway is the Senior Director of Missions Development at World Challenge. Keith is a CHE trainer, facilitator, and a member of the Global CHE Network’s Representative Council. He and his wife Maureen live in Colorado Springs; they have six grown children and seven grandchildren. 

About Gary Wilkerson

Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

Fear Not

“‘[N]o weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me’…” — The Lord, Isaiah 54:17, NIV

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
— Jesus, John 14:27, NIV

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” — Paul, 2 Timothy 1:7, KJV