Wednesday, January 24, 2007

vital signs

Someone said that 40% of those who “flatline” and come back have “near death experiences.” You know, that’s when people say, “I was literally dead for a little while, but came back, and this is what I consciously experienced when my body was dead…”

I personally think that these persons who had a near death experience, haven’t actually died. (They were only mostly dead.) Sure, they were in great peril, because their heart stopped. They were near death’s door, but they did not actually pass the threshold, because once going over, there is no coming back.

I’m not sure how to respond to someone who says they had a near death experience, but there is something even more awkward.

What about near life experiences? What about those who have some kind of religious experience and claim or sincerely believe that they have crossed from death to live… but haven’t? That’s the one that really creeps me out.


Anonymous said...

In your past posts, you seem to know what you're talking and have "some" compassion yet in this post, you seem to be mocking those who really went through such an experience. Personally, I have not gone through such an ordeal but who's to say that it never happened unless you've been in their shoes.

Craver Vii said...

Thank you for sharing that and giving me a chance to respond. Let me answer in two parts.

First, I apologize if it comes across as making fun of someone for being very, very sick. I meant to open with something familiar, and then by contrast, swing over to the main thing I wanted to say, which is that I am deeply concerned for anyone who falsely assumes they’re saved. It is the biggest mistake anyone can make. In the process, I couldn’t resist, but give my unqualified explanation for the first phenomenon. If I gave the impression of being mean, I certainly did not intend to; I take malice quite seriously. It’s not that I’ve never poked fun at anyone, but I’m trying to be careful about doing that here.

Second, you somehow got the idea that I know what I’m talking about. Gotcha good; didn’t I?

L.L. Barkat said...

To C's comment above...Is that like a near-coherence experience?

Honestly, though. I find you know what you are talking about. Most of the time. :) (No, this couldn't possibly make us twins. You already have one.)

Llama Momma said...

Nice twist. I won't get too deep since I've been taking the happy pills again, but it's an interesting reminder of the whole goats and sheep thing that Jesus talks about in Matthew. Which reminds me of that children's song, "I don't want to be a goat, nope. I don't want to be a goat, nope." Okay. Must be the happy pills. I'm going back to my room now!

Anonymous said...

hey Craver - [I personally think that these persons who had a near death experience, haven't actually died.] that is why they call them NEAR death experiences!!

annnd. -[I’m not sure how to respond to someone who says they had a near death experience] Well, you tell them they came close and share the gospel with them! more, one more... pleeeease!- [claim or sincerely believe that they have crossed from death to live… but haven’t?]....It is not for you to judge who has crossed from death to life. Only God knows that, if someone tells you they are a Christian, yeah you can ask questions and have some good conversation and share what you know. But in the end it is God that judges the heart. And we should all thank Him for that!

Pete Juvinall said...

All I can say is what about Jack Bauer? :)

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the backwoods of a strange denomination that constantly prodded me with fears that I might not be saved--I should go to the front one more time. So I understand some of the people's comments.

But I don't think they're fair. I know what you mean, bro. You are talking about people who go through the motions of Christianity but still just don't get it. They think church is a 1 hour service in a building somewhere. Or at best they think it is the activities that orbit around the building where that one hour service originates.

But God is so much bigger than our puny institutional churches. Even the Church is bigger than our puny churches. How can we be so close to life and miss the boat so often? Sometimes it feels like we've cheapened grace so much it might as well be broken.

These thoughts are from my heart, not my head. Theologically, I'm sure people can drive herds of elephants through what I'm saying here. But I believe the heart of the matter is true. Christians claim they know the truth. They claim the truth has set them free. But they don't act free. Why?

It is fair to worry that our lip service won't be enough to allow us to experience freedom. It is wise even.

(Sorry for the long comment. I couldn't stop. And I finally added you to my blog roll. What an oversight!)

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark - [ Christians claim they know the truth. They claim the truth has set them free. But they don't act free. ] I know Christaians like that and it is frustrating that they don't get the whole picture(and the glorious freedom that comes with it). But what can you do other than stay in relationship with them and have some "good" conversations and pray that the Holy Spirit would set a spark. You also said [They think church is a 1 hour service in a building somewhere. ] UGH! so true, God is the big Grandpa in the sky, come and have your visit once a week. Do you think they are the people talked about in 1 Cor. 3:11-15?

Even So... said...

God doesn't make people "almost alive"...

Craver Vii said...

Yep Mark, that’s exactly with where I am coming from. But For now… you’re touching on where I’d like us to be headed. Am I saying that I should go around with a rubber stamp or shiny sticker? Certainly not. But if my neighbor is deceived, shouldn’t I relentlessly pray that God draws them to Himself? Shouldn’t I keep my eyes open for a good opportunity to be God’s ambassador and share the truth about Jesus Christ?

Like Even so… said, God doesn’t make people “mostly” alive. If someone thinks they’re alive in Christ, but haven’t quite been born again, they’re still lost and totally devoid of real hope. Our hearts should not be comfortable with such a thing. Now, what do we do about it?

L.L. Barkat said...

So, I'm thinking, what's the difference between a spiritually "inanimate" person (do you like that euphemism for "dead"?) and a spiritually "immature" person?

(Got that maturity question on the brain, since we're discussing it over on Seedlings... hey, wouldn't it be great if we could "blog conference call"?)

Martin Stickland said...

I am sure I will sleep well tonight now with the thougts of where I will be going or not as the case may be!

L.L. Barkat said...

Oh, Craver, you're going to get spammed. Put your address in like this...


and repost the rest of your comment as is.

Craver Vii said...

LL, if I was thinking ahead, I might have addressed that first.

Martin, I am infinitely more concerned with where one wakes, than how he sleeps. That's why I put the "Are you going to heaven?" link at the top of my sidebar.

Don't anyone let the public forum of a blog hinder important discussion on this, but if it is too intimidating...

(thunderous crack) For the sake of the Gospel, I will break my code of anonymity. My email address is vrivera[at]ivpress[dot]com

I'd be happy to take this up there (email) or here (blog).

Anonymous said...

Praying for you Martin.

Craver Vii said...

In the third chapter of John, Nicodemus asks Jesus how to be born again. Isn't it something that Jesus didn't say, "Whew, finally! I was hoping someone would ask me to outline the plan of salvation. Okay, step one..."

Oh, and thanks LL. Unless it comes in a tin can, I like to avoid spam.

Llama Momma said...

I'm not sure we can know who has or hasn't crossed over from death to life. And I'm equally unsure of whether or not we can do or say anything that might help someone along in that process.

As one who lived for many years behind a mask of pseudo-spirituality, I can honestly say that only the power of the holy spirit could break down the barriers I constructed between me and God.

And if some well-meaning friend had said, "I'm praying for you to find Jesus," I would have been seriously annoyed.

Just my drug-induced two cents.

So what kind of spam are you looking for, Craver? Regular or lite?

Anonymous said...

LLs comment gives me pause. I think there is an assurance we can have of our salvation through the Spirit. But I think passages like Hebrews 6, and Jesus' parable of the sheep and goats mentioned above, always leaves room for sobriety in our faith. And they also help me understand a little better how some people might think they are alive and not be.

P.S. I tried to leave a post a couple of days ago during the "Go Bears" phase, but it didn't post. I wanted to add my "Go Colts" to the discussion! (I'm writing from Indianapolis.)

Craver Vii said...

Charity, I try never to pray for a victory over a ballgame, because we can't righteously assert that God should be for one team and not the other. But when "Go Colts" doesn't get through, is that coincidence or divine providence? ;-)

LM, it's true that it can be annoying to hear a thing that can be misinterpreted as condescending when someone says they're praying for you. But the hilarious part is when God's people are saying that to the same person in the same season of their life and it's coming from folks who won't know each other this side of heaven. If God has someone in His grip, they won't slip out.

Here are a couple of juicy scripture passages that bring me to the position of knowing and proclaiming:

1st John 5:13 (emphasis mine)
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
Romans 10: 1, 6b-17
Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
…"Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) or "'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Craver Vii said...

Was that too much type? Should I have only put the links for those dozen or so verses?

Anonymous said...

i think there's a distinction to be made between eternal life and life to the fullest. i think you lumped them both in together. i think there are people who have professed jesus as lord and are "saved" but have not let him show them life to the fullest which in my mind is the every day death experience and the every day life experience. meaning, dying to yourself everyday and walking in the newness and the new things of god. as marty says, there are settlers and there are sojourners. there are those who decide to camp-out and not trek forward. but i personally feel uncomfortable when i find a bunch of christians patting themselves on the back for being "alive" and others being "dead". we all struggle with death every day. we struggle to put to death that which is not christ in me. and the sooner we forget that the sooner we become insensitive to others and dare i say, proud.

Taliesin said...

clc wrote i personally feel uncomfortable when i find a bunch of christians patting themselves on the back for being "alive" and others being "dead".

Amen! Anytime we are patting ourselves on the back, we've "lost the plot."

But I don't see what Craver said as patting himself on the back. I read it as a warning to think deeply about one's own spiritual condition. One of the scariest passages in the Bible, IMO, is Matthew 7:15-23, where Jesus issues a strong warning to "those who have some kind of religious experience and claim or sincerely believe that they have crossed from death to live… but haven’t".

We are not to look at others and judge their justification and/or sanctification, but we are to encourage one another to make our calling and election sure.

Craver Vii said...

Thanks, Tal; I really appreciate that. I wasn't sure how to answer CLC's comment without sounding defensive, but I think your response corresponds well with my intentions.

CLC, thanks for you comments; I'm sure I'd like to talk about "life to the fullest" sometime in the future.

Anonymous said...

hey craver,
i wasn't really directing my comments at you as much as towards the general direction these sort of discussions can go in. as taliesin said, i don't want us to forget the plot. i just think in conversations that are insular, we can forget how much we still live in need of a savior, even if we are saved. i know you are well intentioned. i just am not sure how much an "us" and "them" conversation helps people find jesus-the life!