Tuesday, January 27, 2009

90 Seconds In Hell

Shortly after Rachel was killed we had an encounter with a book called 90 Minutes In Heaven by Don Piper. He was pronounced dead at the scene of a traffic collision and visited heaven before he was restored to his body in this world.We were given the book by some friends who had lost their son about 10 years ago now. Just after we read the book, we heard that the author was scheduled to give a presentation in Chico on Easter Sunday. It seemed like a divine appointment, so Jill and I went with Erik and Rachel’s boyfriend Jeff. Easter was a hard day, coming as it did so soon after Rachel’s passing, but the talk was hopeful. There were many things I brought home that night that have helped me through this difficult, but hearing of the miraculous work of God in Don’s life that enabled him to be there that night made us all wonder why there was no miracle for Rachel, or for us...But I know that Don would say life in God’s presence is not second best.

Anyway, the other day I had a small breakthrough, and I have been feeling better the last few days. I had written my friend Ray about it, and sent him a quote I had read in The Sun Magazine about living with the awareness that everything and everyone is “already broken.” The writers, Stephen & Ondrea Levine (from Who Dies?) relates the story of a spiritual teacher taking the breaking of a drinking glass in stride. His reaction to the breaking of the glass is “Of course!” It is inevitable that a glass will eventually break, and so we should not be surprised or distressed when it happens. We should use that awareness to heighten our appreciation of the glass. Similarly, we all know humans are not built to last. We and our love ones will pass from this life, and the wise thing to do is come to grips with this fact and live our lives accordingly.

“If we lived our lives as though we were already dead, how much time would there be for self protection and the re-creation of ancient mirages? Only love would be appropriate, only truth.”

They are beautiful words. I acknowledged the truth of them, and I was immediately tested.

I wake Erik up every morning at 6:00 to get ready for school. I generally tap lightly on his door, and he wakes right up - he is a pretty light sleeper and a relatively early riser (for a teen-ager). Monday morning he didn’t respond when I knocked on his door. I knocked again. I knocked again, louder. When there was still no response I opened the door and called his name. I turned the light on dimly and called again. I turned the light on full brightness and yelled his name. I could see his form motionless under his blanket. I was trying to see if there was any movement at all. I couldn’t tell. I started to get light-headed and weak. I couldn’t believe this was happening. How could a perfectly healthy young man wake up dead? How was I going to tell Jill? I stared into the abyss. I was right on the edge. I was afraid to touch him. If he didn’t respond, then I would really have to face the fact that he was dead. I shook him and called his name. He woke up with a smile on his face. He had no idea I was standing at the gates of hell.

To see him respond was such a relief I almost fell to the floor. My heart hurt and I felt weak all day.

Some parents do wake up and find their children have passed in the night. But it isn’t normally the first possibility that enters your mind when your teenager fails to wake up at first knock in the morning on a school day. But that is where our heads are at now. Our confidence in the predictability and safety of the routine is gone. Children can walk out the door and never come back; children can go to sleep and not wake in this world. The worst thing can happen, and it can happen again and again. There is no immunity. There is no security. The horrors that pass through your mind cannot not be ignored: they are real possibilities. 

All I can tell you is that the breaking of a glass is not the same as the breaking of a child. Yes, they are both impermanent things in this world as it is. But a human being is many orders of magnitude more precious, and I cannot imagine accepting the loss with equanimity - even if I wanted to. There is wisdom in living with the constant awareness that now is all we have, that life is short and no amount of love is ever enough. But when your child is shattered by the blunt force trauma of a collision with an SUV piloted by an intoxicated driver or simply fails to wake up one morning, there is no denying or escaping the living hell that awaits you. I want to be a noble-minded philosopher, but I have a daddy’s heart.


Omar Judah said...

Jesus said "No man has ascended into heaven" except Him alone. This 'ascend' merely means 'gone' or 'went'. Therefore, who do we believe--The Son of God or Don Piper's fictional, wanna-be reality?
It's amazing how Americans constantly scream they want the truth, say they believe in the name and words of Christ, then run out to the nearest Barnes and Noble and purchase a book propagating Satan-influenced lies.
One day the truth will shame you and those who believe Piper's account into heaven is true. Just like that other idiot who claimed to went to hell.

Anonymous said...

To Brando Littles' comment:
You obviously misunderstood the scripture you reference (John 3:13). It's easy to do that when you take a single sentence of scripture out of context.

John 3:13 does not teach that no one has ever seen or entered heaven. There are plenty of other Biblical accounts of people going to heaven. Enoch & Elijah, for example. And Jesus himself told the robber on the cross next to him that "today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). Guess you missed that one when you read the Bible.

What Jesus meant in the John 3:13 quote was that he alone was qualified to teach heavenly truths since he originated from heaven, which no one else ever had. Read what comes before John 3:13 and you'll see that's where he was going with it.

The only shame is on you, sir, for proof-texting the Scriptures to suit your own warped views.

Brando Littles said...

Sorry to bust your bubble,Laura but you are wrong. You don't understand scriptures. The thief on the cross incident has been misinterpreted. In the original Greek there are NO commas as there are in English. Jesus could see into the thief's heart and tell he had truly repented.

Jesus actually said to him: "Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise". Notice the replacing of the comma after "today". Phrased like this it coincides with dozens of other verses that explicitly teach HUMANS DIE. Also, no where in scripture is Heaven synomym with "paradise". The earth, however, is likened to paradise in its glorious state.(email me & i'll provide verses to back this up).

First, I stand by my word that no person but Christ has ever gone to Heaven.

Second, I've read the entire chapter of John 3.Our debate on that will be endless.So let me just shoot the silver bullet that'll kill your werewolf.

Third, I think you have read a few articles that logically and textually prove Elijah did NOT enter into Heaven...that is,God's Throne.

Now, the Enoch example. I've Googled his account repeatedly and have not found any article contradicting his so-called immortality when "God took him". Therefore, I went on to study Hebrew and Greek. Like I do with all scriptures I read and interpret the original languages of the Bible becuz the English translations are riddled in errors.

Now, sweet lady, I present you a challenge. I have written a thorough essay that logically, textually, and using Biblical doctrines explain why Enoch DIED! If you would like to read it send me an email and I'll forward it to you. I guarantee after reading this essay you won't believe Enoch or Elijah or that thief went straight to Heaven. However, if you continue to then you're just in denial.

brandolittles@yahoo.com Use "Requesting Enoch Essay" as the subject line, please.

Anonymous said...


Your response is riddled with misspellings, convoluted theories, and the ravings of a lunatic mind. I don’t care to read anymore of your rants. For someone who says he is so knowledgeable about the Bible, your writing is far from intellectual.

Jesus was quite plain in what he said to the robber on the cross, commas or no commas. I’m at peace with my belief that Christians go directly to heaven after they die here on earth and I think it is a crime that you would bother to go around robbing anyone else of their peace in this belief.

I take it that you believe in some kind of soul sleep. Fine, go ahead and delude yourself. It’s really pointless to argue about it further. You’re welcome to your (off the wall) opinions and your soul sleep too. The vast majority of Christians agree with my view, the Bible supports it, and the truth of the principle resounds in my soul. That’s good enough for me.


Omar Judah said...

Typical of one deceived by a false belief to run from truth. You make outlandish claims about my writings having misspelled words. One or two words is typical of anyone. But that is just your excuse to run from the truth. You're in denial and will be until Jesus corrects your flawed thinking. Of course most of Christianity believes your opinion. Revelations 12:9 says that Devil has the whole world deceived. So are you and I exempt from this truth? I doubt you'd know how to interpret the "whole world" part of the verve. Allow me.
Jesus said that only His true disciples would not be deceived by Satan(although too, some would "fall" away from the truth). He said his discipleship would throughout every age be a "small flock".
ONE BILLION professing Christians is nowhere near a "small flock". Therefore most of Christendom IS living in deceptive Biblical beliefs. You as well.
Jesus was quite plain in what he said to the robber on the cross. But what you and many others fail to realize is after death comes a resurrection. What is the purpose of it if you're already in heaven?

Omar Judah said...

I apologize to you Mr. Elliott for the my comments directed at Laura.
And one last thing to you Laura. True I did misspell some words.Like "verse", "synonym" and "becuz". The latter was purposely done. In all my non-professional writings I spell it like that. The others weren't corrected becuz I didn't know you'd grade me on two or three misspelled words becuz of my fast fingered typing.How ridiculous of you.
Furthermore, I'm a published author. Can you say the same? Obviously, I must be turning in polished correctly spelled manuscripts to be in print.

Laurel Hostetler said...

Actually, I am a published author, sir. And yes, spelling counts. As any writer worth his or her salt knows, poor grammar, usage, and misspellings undermine credibility and intelligence.

I guess at this point, since neither of us will be swayed, we'll just have to wait until we die to see who Jesus chides. I'm perfectly comfortable with that. If I were you, however, I'd be shaking in my boots.

P.S. My name is spelled LAUREL, not Laura. Figure it out.

Omar Judah said...

I never said correct spelling wasn't important. My point is you went off the track over two or three words I had misspelled. I'm not (nor will I later be) shaking in my boots. I did exactly what the Apostle Paul said the Bereans did: I searched the Scriptures to see if the words are true. You on the other hand simply just accepted what a minister or pastor told you, and you have believed those lies since. You have never attempted to prove false alleged Bible contradictions, and neither can you becuz you lack real spiritual knowledge. I don't say this spitefully, but in blunt truth.

I don't think Jesus will chide either of us. Yet he will bluntly tell you "You have been deceived."

Wake up, Laura (I'm sticking w/ "Laura" for the fun of it). You're too mature in age and experience to still be a victim of deception. Research the history of Christianity and the recording of the Bible from generation to generation. Have an open-mind and you might see that certain people have been misrepresenting "biblical doctrines" that you believe are correct in there context.

Just simply use a Hebrew and Greek-to-English lexicon and you might see the original recorded languages of Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5 say a different thing than the English translations.

Laurel Hostetler said...

You know what, Brando (and I spell your name correctly here because I'm not going to play your childish games), I've read the Bible and have come to my own conclusions. I don't need anyone else to think for me.

Have you taken the nature of God into your conclusions? Because your interpretation of the Bible doesn't even jive with who God is. God, who sent his only son to die on a cross so that whoever believed in him could live, certainly loves us beyond comprehension. He wants to have a relationship with us more than anything else. So why would he send us into some kind of soul sleep when we die when all he wants is to know us and be known by us? If you think about it, it only makes sense that we go to heaven when we die. God wants us with him. And I stand by the scriptures again (the ones you've misinterpreted) that indicate the same.

This is my last post. I've said my peace and I'm done arguing with you. Anyway, how can anyone have an intelligent discussion with someone who purposely misspells your name? The answer is, you can't.

Omar Judah said...

Be deceived then. The misspelling of your name was an attempt at humor. I see you lack any.It is you that cannot engage in an intellectual discussion. You are the one that got all heated and willy-nilly. You are the one that believe in proven lies. You are the one that hasn't researched if the biblical doctrines used today are the ones used in Christ's day. You are the one deluded, refusing to comprehend that Rev. 12:9 is mentioning the so-called religious people of today. But this story remains the same. You refuse to JUST read deeper into any exegetic discourse challenging you to "think". I'm sorry if I offended you. But my claim remains the same: you are deceived.
Farewell, Laurel.
Remember this date...Jan 16th, 2010

Unknown said...

WOW, I cant beleive both of you Brando & Laurel, surely you can see that Mr. Elliott is still going thru mourning and both of you with your contradictions is not helping. Mr. Brando, you with all your studying. You sound just like Paul did (due to ALL his so called knowledge) when he was not beleiving in Jesus and did not like christians because they were beleiving in Jesus. You cannot sit there and judge Don Piper book because YOU were not there and about what Pastors say or not say, thats not for you to judge (knowing that they read the bible, they know they will be accountable for all their actions)...if you feel this strong about it then PRAY about it and not try to put him down on it and while your add it PRAY for the Holy Spirit to confort and help Mr. Elliott thru what he going thru.
Ms.Laurel: Going back and forth discussing this with Mr. Brando it not christian like even Jesus himself did not give power or long lasting discussion to the Pharisees when they would question him. Instead he used his time for what God sent him to do which was to talk to the sick (which I dont see in any of both of you and Mr. Brando conversations, saying any conforting words to Mr. Elliott) All I can say: (I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.") Therefore, what I am trying to tell you here is that if we are born again then we should be able to KNEEL and PRAY and ask for God direction in regards to this matter and help those who are in need which in this case is Mr. Elliott and not Brando or Laurel in seeing who is right or who is wrong. And please dont check my grammar bc more than likely is wrong and I am not perfect. I pray that the Holy Spirit guides both of you and I also, pray that the Holy Spirit guides and conforts Mr. Elliott and his family.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your comments. I had completely forgotten about this exchange and I am glad you brought it back to my attention so that I can apologize. Now that I've reread them, I'm heartbroken that I stooped to ridicule in my posts. I see that I let anger get the best of me (yes, I'm far from perfect myself). I think it is important to speak the truth, but I forgot the part about doing it with love.

I apologize to Mr. Elliott for taking such a tone on his blog. I'm so very sorry about the loss of your daughter, but rejoice that one day you will see her again in heaven.

I also apologize to Brando for the tone I took with him. Again, it was important for me to speak the truth, but I should have been loving in the way I expressed it regardless of the way he treated me in his responses.

How God loves any of us sinful people is certainly a miracle.

Thank you, Jesus, for the love you showed us on the cross, for paying for our sins, and for the gift of eternal life freely given to all who believe in you (John 3:16). Please forgive me for my anger, and I ask you to bless Mirna, Brando, and Mr. Elliott. Amen.


Omar Judah said...

To Mirna:

To "judge" means "to weight" or "to analyze" or "administer orders". Judging anything is just analyzing it by it's content. Everyone judges everyday!!! So I'm in full right to judge any issue that enters my mentality.

My comments were attacked based on Laurel judging them anti-biblical. Christians who spout "you shouldn't judge" says this based on a flawed interpretation of a Bible scripture. The fact that Jesus said in the Bible He wants us to "become kings and priests" means He wants us to learn NOW how to "judge righteously". Bible also says we will one day judge angels.

Mr. Elliot is wise enough to know I meant no disrespect to his daughter's name or his grief. For my comments made specific attacks to Don Piper's fictional delusion.

Also, Laurel drew first blood. She could have easily asked me to enter into a dialogue outside of this blog. We could've discussed it rationally and thoroughly elsewhere. But no, the common response from the Second Responder is to initiate a criticizing onslaught of the Initial Responder--and not easily ask me to explain my view.

In conclusion, I stand by my initial response. Don Piper's book is heavily flawed based on the Scriptures, esp. the notion that good people die and go straight to heaven. The Bible expresses this:

we die: enter a state of deep unconsciousness...

we are resurrected from the dead: brought out of the condition of death to the condition of life...

we are judged: our deeds are weighted, our words are analyzed, and we considered for eternal life or eternal death, etc...

we are sentenced: either to a state of immortality or a state of complete nonexistence...

If the resurrection of the just is to judge them and give them the gift of eternal life with a "citizenship in heaven" with God, then why do so many believe upon death "the just" bypass the resurrection (the return to life)--bypass the White Throne Judgment (weighted worthy to be with God or not) and enter directly into their reward?

Stop blindly listening to pastors and preachers on topics you haven't personally researched. Research if English translations are accurate--research the biblical doctrines verse by verse--research the Hebrew & Greek words' definitions...

As far as "born again" you believe simply confessing Jesus' name, being baptized by water, praying to God, etc. is the acts that makes a person "born again". Whereas I believe in the Biblical requirement that as one is born into mortal flesh--the physical world, one must be born into immortal essence--the spiritual world. Born again actually happens after the Throne Judgment when Jesus uses the Holy Spirit to transfer a mortally righteous person of skin & bone INTO an immortally righteous person of spirit essence.

And that is what is provable in the Scriptures. Thank you Mr. Elliot for your generosity in allowing my post (which are not actually proper for the blog's purpose). God will bless Rachel with immortality after He brings her BACK to life, JUDGE as her as righteous, and gives her the free choice to ACCEPT the gift of eternal life.