Category Archives: It Happened to Me (personal stories)

Are there Animals in Heaven?

And our cats and horses too.

Simple answer: Of course.  Longer answer.   Heaven is a perfect environment for God’s people.  It is some kind of treacherous lie that we are stuck playing harps.  Even at best, David played a guitar and that might be the instrument of choice.  Flying round on clouds makes a good cartoon but it hardly does justice to the nature of human beings.  When we are saved, our sin nature is over ridden by the holiness of God which is our life’s goal, but after death, all those conflicts are eliminated and people can flourish as individuals.  Do you want to take trumpet lessons? Violin?  Maybe you want to walk on the bottom of the sea?  Try to think outside the confining box of the earth.  Your imagination can run wild.

A woman on the 700 Club “died” and went to heaven; the doctors pulled her back.  While there she saw Johnny Cash and June Cash singing away….just as you would expect them to do esp. since this woman lived in Nashville, Tennessee.

In fact, a surprising number of people have been to heaven (and also hell) and back.  Their testimonies are very much alike.  You can find good (and foolish) testimonies on YouTube and on the internet.  But you know how to judge false from true – look at what the Bible says.  God’s truth does not conflict with His Word.

One popular book, Heaven is for Real, will be made into a movie.  One little 5 year old boy after being pulled back from death was asked what he saw, and he said, “PUPPIES.”  If I were God and a little boy suddenly showed up in my heaven, I would provide him with a pile of puppies.  Wouldn’t you?  A pile of cute puppies would keep a tot laughing and rolling around for hours.

Kat Kerr author of Revealing Heaven is a conference speaker, who has available tapes for sale, and you can find her books on Amazon cheaply priced.  Her eye-witness accounts are superior to my suppositions and can quickly be checked.  Sid Roth is a Jew with a parade of speakers and videos which often touches on heaven-hell testimony.  There are amazing testimonies of Muslims who have had visions of heaven, hell and Jesus.  Try a BING search to locate these, or YouTube.  (I don’t use Google because they feature their preferences which are non-Christian and pro-left wing at the top of the findings.)

In seminary I told my pastor’s wife, when I get to heaven I want to be in charge of the zoo.  She looked at me as though I was crazy.  Here is the secret about heaven.  God put us on earth to get used to some of the elements of heaven which are so much better, so much nicer, and so much more glorious.  We do not give up the great things of this our Father’s World; we simply see them untouched by sin and without limitations for them or for us.

The truth will set you free? not really . . .

Christians confuse being saved with being Christian.  Salvation is God’s business and requires only a repentant heart and a confession.  (The heart believes unto righteousness and confession is made unto salvation.  Romans 10:10)  That’s an event.  No law or laws apply to this simple transaction – my sins for Jesus’ sacrifice.

However the Christian life is not an event but a process which involves the fulfillment of various conditions, a process which starts with a group of “If” clauses describing the conditions by which we become Christians and live a Christian life through experience, practice and faithfulness.

It starts with the Word.  Here is the whole quote and the process in context:

(1) IF you continue in my word, (2) then you are my disciples in deed (not in word) and (3 then) you will know the truth and (4 then) the truth will make (not set) you free.

“Setting free” is an event; you are in prison and someone comes with a key to open a door and you walk out.  “Making” you free is a process which continues over a period of time because the Truth is Jesus himself – “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

It is quite possible to halt that process at any time for many reasons. Unfortunately the opposite is often true.  You are saved and then sit somewhere, occasionally a pew, and learn virtually nothing about the word, so you skirt discipleship and the truth  It might be presented to you but not followed,  and whatever freedom you once had wicks away like a much-used plastic air freshener.

Here are some examples from my experience.  “I don’t believe that.”  I  remember hearing this after I got the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  These gifts  are thoroughly described and recommended in scripture, but then a denomination or well-known teacher says this is not for today and it is easier to let someone else do your Christian walk for you, to sit, soak, and sour in your former theology rather than to move along with the Word. At that point you become a disciple in word but not in deed.  The truth, that is Jesus, having been rejected moves on. Hesitate to say what you don’t believe in – maybe God has something new for you.

I told God when I graduated with a MA in missions that I didn’t care what denominations and groups did in the mission field; I wanted to be where He was moving and working.  It meant that the majority of my coworkers thought my ideas were off the wall.  My superiors said flatly “We are not going into mainland China.”  It took 12 years for me to get to China but it was worth the wait and, in spite of my impatience, the timing was perfect.  How much more quickly accepted I was!

Writing off China (7 out of 10 earthlings live there) looks so totally foolish today doesn’t it!  But that is what Man does –  not sinful man, not satanic man, but self-willed and not-God-willed Man.   Missions committees are helpful in their way but not the word in which we continue.

Christian life promises freedom at the end, not in the beginning.  So let’s paraphrase this verse:

After you have been soaking in the Word of God and have walked out in your life many of its principles, and having proved your discipleship, then Jesus, the Truth will become a part of your personal life and will continue to make you free day-by-day.  Enoch did this – so can you.

French: Vous connaîtrez la vérité, et la vérité fera de vous des hommes libres.

Chinese: 你 们 必 晓 得 真 理 , 真 理 必 叫 你 们 得 以 自 由 。

You will find this as a chapter in an e-book on apologetics at Amazon, Book Baby, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and other vendors.

When You are the Answer to Someone’s Prayer

One of the surprising and satisfying things when you obey God is finding out that you have obeyed by faith (that is without knowing why you were doing this) and the results are beyond what you imagined.

Several decades ago I was washing my laundry at a local self-serve machine.  It was a dull, boring Saturday, a place I had never used before. Only one woman and her teenage son were in the laundromat. He was acting strangely; she was casting ugly glances at him and sharp threats. He sat nervously and silently in a chair most of the time.

I felt the scene was unnatural. As a person who was badly abused as a child I recognized that his behavior as a teenager was abnormal. Boys especially are all over the place, eating snax, reading magazines, bouncing balls outside on the pavement – but none of that. He never smiled; she never smiled. For a moment I saw myself being controlled in every public situation by a hostile parent.  So I wrote down the license plate of the little hatchback out front.

When  arrived home I wrote a letter to the Department of Social Services local office, Child Protective Agency.  I knew someone there but I had not seen her for literally years.  I told her I suspected this boy was abused; it made me uncomfortable.  I mailed the letter but including the license plate.  I had never seen this woman or her son, nor did I ever again. I thought nothing about it.

Several years passed and I was attending a Chamber of Commerce event when  I spotted my old acquaintance.  I asked her about my now long forgotten letter. Her answer startled me.

She said, “We removed the boy from the home and gave custody to the father.  The mother was livid thinking her Ex had promoted this whole thing. Your letter confirmed what the father had been telling me. But we could tell her it was a total stranger.”

I thought to myself how happy I was they had not pitched out my letter as just a nosy old grandmother.  But even more importantly this father as well as the son had wanted a new custody arrangement but could not catch the mother in the act.  My letter did the job.  I could never be identified by any of the participants.  The prayers of one very unhappy child and his father had been answered simply because I did what I believed to be right. God had stepped in.

That is how God uses obedience. He is not obligated to tell us why we do what we do. After all, faith is NOT knowing; obedience is doing anyway when you don’t have a clear reason.

God wants more than anything for us to be coworkers with him in the reformation of a good and happy world.  The old song, Trust and Obey, means so much more when you see obedience not as a test, but as a life’s work.

How People React in a Crisis – China’s 2008 Earthquake Remembered

It was 48 hours before we learned in Inner Mongolia of the extent of the damage due to the earthquake down south. Isolated as we are here in the small town of Daban many people never get the news – the newspaper is actually all advertising circulars – but we now know China is in pain. The government has claimed to be everything – provider, comforter, manager, healer, in fact, “god” but now none of the above.

Thousands of parents will bury a child, if they can find the body at all, and in most cases an Only Child. The 3 Gorges Dam displaced millions of people during its construction and drowned thousands of homes in its path. Now it and other dams in Central China are showing signs of stress. If the 3 Gorges Dam fails, 10 million will be wiped out in a single swoosh.

Food prices have risen 20% and pork has doubled because farmers do not want to waste the grain on the pigs. Taxes, but not wages, have increased in order to fund the glitzy Olympics and all the attendant waste and public show plus billions into the Navy. People notice when their taxes go up and they change behavior. People are angry at each other, and at me too. The country is on edge.

And there have been other aftershocks as well. This week the police demanded that I leave town within 12 hours! I thought it was a scam organized by public and private schools angry over our success. We have run out of teachers and classrooms as we added several classes and many new students. But no – they were serious – no one can pack for overseas in that period of time. After some negotiations a $1,500 fine will be paid to the brigands (i.e. bribe) and I can stay.

The 2nd local aftershock was that the police went to the perfectly legal registered church and confiscated the perfectly legal Bibles – 240 of them – and took them away. We don’t know where they are. Apparently the church members felt they were safe and had not hidden them in their homes. Again, an illegal act because the Constitution of China allows freedom of religion – in theory.

This is the time to pray for China. God wants to comfort the Chinese people.. But He has promised to destroy all idols.

In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart told Ingrid Bergman that the lives of 2 people “do not amount to a hill of beans.” Missionaries know they do not amount to a hill of beans either – what counts is the gospel and prayer reaches everywhere on the globe. As God would have it I was not forced to leave.

When God promises to destroy all idols, (Exodus 30:13) that includes governments and political leaders who claim to be god. In actual practice, God need do nothing. Over-promising by arrogant leaders will eventually expose their folly. Then men can seek the real God with greater wisdom and humility.

What it means to judge righteously?

This may surprise you but when God says Romans 2:1 “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”
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If you judge someone wrongly the judgment comes back to you. It seems simple but it is not. Here is an example.

A young woman leaves her husband of 8 years. This couple had been leaders of young marrieds, well respected in the church, and the predictable reaction was that she sinned by leaving. Here is what the members did not know:

1. Her husband was a practicing homosexual.
2. He had brought venereal disease into the home and she was infected.
3. He had no intention of changing his lifestyle and said so!

What would you have done?

The church had no knowledge of these sins and it is not the responsibility of the wife to confess her husband’s sins, nor is she expected to discipline him. The Bible is clear on that point. If she had stayed she would become an enabler of sin. If the church did not discipline him, the church becomes an enabler of sin.

He was charming, much loved and believed when he played the victim. He also was a thither and the church fathers did not want to challenge a big donor. Churches are charged by God with the discipline of its members. How often does this happen?

Now the rest of the story. The church members judged the woman as not submitted and in error. They called her a bad wife and she became the subject for gossip. Where is their judgment?

People would be judged on this basis:
1. Were they submitted to God?
2. Were they personally obedient?
3. Were they faithful to the Word?

At every point where the wife was faithful her judges would be condemned. In addition the church and its leaders must face an additional penalty – for not examining the situation in the Holy Spirit, and in addition to the unnecessary gossip there is the greed involving the husband’s donations.

I met this woman in seminary and she has had a long-lasting career as a foreign missionary. God rewards those who follow Him, whether a wife or a church.

Why should I pay 10% (tithe) to God?

Of course you don’t “have” to pay God anything, but if you want a blessing from Him, it’s another story. The principle of giving God 10% of your income goes back thousands of years. It was the way for Jews to support their religious system as well. But most of all, it was a blessing for the giver. Abraham started the tithe to God.

Hebrews 7:2-6 Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils.

And when you bless God, He blesses you back. Many Christians are only half-happy (or 90% unhappy) living without blessings. Maybe this has something to do with it? Furthermore, not giving God His due carries with it a curse.

Malachi 3:8“ Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘ In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.

God has no blessings for robbers. In addition, the money given to God’s work must be His work. This is called, in scripture, the storehouse. A storehouse holds seed grain. The seed is the word.

Luke 8:11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

That is your requirement too – that what you give to God will involve His Word, not just any ‘ole charity. (Not everything that is tax deductible glorifies God.)

Years ago I left a church. I felt a sense of loss – I had some fine friends there but God told me, “I cannot bless you because I WILL NOT bless them.” There was no Word of God going out from that church. It was all social work and social work is man’s work. It was not a storehouse.

Here is the storehouse passage.

Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Finally, there is the issue of a good conscience. Sometimes we just do things because we want to be able to respond to God when He asks us – did we do everything we could when we were alive? These are called ordinances – we don’t do them in order to be saved. We do them because they are part of the witness of a Christian life. Your friends see it, your employees, your children, your neighbors. It shows you, God and others that you are serious about obeying God. In this passage, we are baptized in water occasionaly because we want the answer of a good conscience.

1 Peter 3:21-22 You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact—saved from the water by the water. The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus’ resurrection before God with a clear conscience. Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He’s standing right alongside God, and what he says goes.

[from The Message version of the New Testament.]

Experiment with God. Give a tithe and see if you don’t see a change. And what do you have to lose anyway? You can pump up your faith and learn about His Kingdom at the same time.

Never compromise with evil

In the 1980s I faced a wonderful future job, recognition, community status, and clout. A large lobby offered me substantial money, enough to guarantee this position, presumably an offer so good I could not refuse but I must promise to support their goals. I disagreed completely with them, and a bribe is a bribe no matter how you pretty it up.

Over a period of two weeks, I had a long talk with myself and God. This group had evil in mind, the control of other people and political corruption as well. With a heavy heart I refused their offer and lost my investment of $14,000 which at that time was a major piece of cash. I also lost much of my reputation regarded a failure, condemned by many including my family who did not know the facts. In reality, they never asked me anything about it..

It was then that I made a decision, one which turned out to change my life forever. I decided never again to compromise with evil. And I would not need two weeks to think it over either. Since then many, many times I have been faced with that choice and didn’t fold, but the personal costs have been high.

Here is why you can’t do it. First if you compromise with evil you lose. You lose your self-respect, your integrity, and occasionally a lot more. I think of the people who find themselves forever tied to someone who gave them a “break” and then ended up in some criminal enterprise. There are women and men who married for the wrong reason and then have decades of unhappiness to reflect on their bad choices. There are those who go along for a joy ride, ending up in a hospital with a broken leg or someone dead bashed into a tree, with years of legal and physical consequences.

The past cannot be retrieved. If someone is beating you or raping you, you must get out. If you are inadvertently involved in crime you must flee. If you are underage and being abused you must tell someone you trust and hope they don’t drop the ball. God knows who you are and prayer changes situations and things.

But there is a second reason – if you compromise with evil, evil wins yet another victory, and in doing so becomes stronger and stronger. Merchants who pay protection money to the Mob- and this nasty bunch operates in every poor section of every major city world-wide – only gives more money to the very people destroying local business. The whole of society is torn down when we cave like this.

That is two victories for Evil and not one for Good. Count ‘em.

Later I had a nice job teaching my specialty where a fellow teacher tried to seduce the high school boys, most of whom were in this school because of horrid choices involving sex, alcohol, drugs, crime or all four. They were vulnerable; how could they report this? They might be endangered – she was the authority figure. As their teacher I saw they could have a good future, but not if they sunk into trouble again. Finally after three months of this, I quit my job and reported her to the director who listened to my story and said something that shocked me – I am sure he saw my face.

He said, “Oh she’s not doing that again!!!” So I had done the right thing but losing my job caused me a great deal of trouble. I never had another job that paid anywhere near that much money.

That story has repeated itself many times over, corrupt officials, managers, leaders – I’ve had to challenge them. One minister stole $10,000 in tithe money; he was never censured but God knows his address. Another person was a master slanderer and I did live to see her get her comeuppance, albeit many years later, long after I had left the scene.

Compromise itself is not bad; it is only compromise with evil that demands confrontation. Choose your battles carefully.

My brother’s blood cries from the ground

Back in the 1970s I met a poor Indian woman who lived in the woods; she had never been allowed to go to school so when God spoke to her we knew it was true because she could not read the Bible.  She frequently would quote scriptures she had neither heard nor read and her experience in churches was limited.

She told us a story of when she was three years old.  She knew she was the second child in the family and that her older brother had been born and cried continuously, but he died. She told her mother repeatedly that she could hear a baby crying down by the creek which bordered on the far end of the property.  This went on for several years.

Later as an adult she learned her father had killed the baby boy and dumped his body in the creek. Genesis 4:10 tells of God hearing the blood of the slain Abel crying from the ground.

Genesis 4:8-10 New International Version (NIV) 8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”[a] While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

10 The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.

My Indian friend had no knowledge of the scripture, but she certainly could hear her brother’s cries.  That is why we can say the “little children” are in the Kingdom of Heaven. They have access to truth from the other side of the grave.

Matthew 19:14
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

The Bible came in handy in a high school class

Years ago I was a substitute teacher in a local high school when I was just out of college with no experience with teens. They can be a drag. This school system had just integrated black and white schools and there was a lot of tension. During one class a girl complained that a boy had stolen her pencil. It did not appear she had another one. Then I remembered this story from the Bible:

16 Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 One of them said, “Pardon me, my lord. This woman and I live in the same house, and I had a baby while she was there with me. 18 The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.
19 “During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. 20 So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne.” 22 The other woman said, “No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.” But the first one insisted, “No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.” And so they argued before the king.

23 The king said, “This one says, ‘My son is alive and your son is dead,’ while that one says, ‘No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.’” 24 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”

26 The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!” But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!”

27 Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.” 28 When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.

So I took the pencil and threatened to snap it into two pieces, telling them each could have half. The girl protested – Oh let him keep it, she said. Then I handed the whole pencil to her saying “I see it is yours,” and walked away.

The true owner of anything will not want to see it destroyed for any reason. The Bible is full of great ideas for explaining human behavior and helping you make decisions as this story did for me.

The Problem of Projection -no, people don’t think like you

The scripture which outlines this problem is: Psalm 50:21 You thought that I was altogether like you;

This is called projection – the notion that others have the same motives, desires, theologies, and opinions as you do. And they base their behavior on this.

We all know the jealous woman who believes every woman is after her husband. Or worse yet, the men in the church actually believing that single woman are after them. Or, worse even than that, the pastor thinking all the single women are after all the men regardless of station.

This is a function of an overblown ego and has traditionally made the church a hostile place especially for single women and one of the reasons that pastors often go to lengths to marry single women off. It happened to a friend of mine in her later 20s. The pastor kept encouraging her to marry a young man who turned out to be homosexual. She left the church. And you wonder why people are church hopping. And maybe all this is because the men themselves rally are seeking to be pursued by women? Who knows.

Projection also infects nations. The Chinese are convinced that America is plotting to attack them with an armed force and take their land. If you will check on China, you will find that there really isn’t much there to acquire. China has minerals, but no water and fouled air. It is not a place anyone would want to acquire. But that is the mentality of a nation that is predatory and lurking about the South China Sea for lands to subsume. That is why China already snatched Mongolia and Tibet, and why the nation continues to suffer from the theft of land.

Tibet meanwhile has no desire to be part of China or to be anything but Tibet. Russia was also greedy for land, having assumed that grateful China would become part of the Soviet Union, a problem Chairman Mao recognized, Russia being unable for some unknown reason to develop their own properly and even today is nosing around the Middle East looking for territory. Always ambitious for someone else’s turf!

Working in China I learned that the Chinese thought all Americans were rich and white. I put on the blackboard a breakdown of races here – 55% Anglo (a word they prefer) 15% black, 12% Asian, 16% Hispanic, and so on. The number has no doubt changed today.

When I said I wanted to get a tan (the sun did not shine there for 2 straight months) they were horrified. Chinese girls put a product on their face to make them white. They look like ghosts to me. I used some indoor tanning product and they were shocked. I said I wanted to look like an American – but they didn’t understand. Americans are NOT white.

We assume people have the same beliefs. A woman told me a few years back that her son was gay. I said I was sorry. (Yes I am sorry. Gays die many years before straight people, are more often involved in domestic violence, and “divorce” more often than straight men.) Yes, I am sorry. She got huffy and said she was not sorry. I had assumed she knew something about this but I guessed wrong.

A Chinese underground press which I read daily was very happy about Anderson Cooper “coming out” as being gay. I wrote a comment on their blog that CNN was hardly much viewed by the American public, an established fact if one checks the TV numbers which come out daily.

CNN is very popular with English viewers abroad however. The man was irritated – what difference does that make he wanted to know. I replied that the CNN endorsement in foreign lands looked like something it was not; it may appear that American audiences are interested and involved, but not so. The perception of foreigners is that CNN is popular here; they could not have guessed of its dwindling audience. You can check TVbythenumbers online for a URL.

We make assumptions about culture. In the USA when you want someone to follow you, you wave with your hand at them. TOO LATE I learned that this was an obscene gesture in the Philippines. Sigh.

In Japan yellow is the color of death. For many years Isuzu would not paint a car yellow, but I was able to buy one myself when they realized Americans like yellow; it is the color of friendliness.

The list of projections can go on and on. The moral of the story is you assume nothing. Find out where people are and go from there. Many a marriage has crashed when the couple found out they shared little in common but their bedroom.