Can My Loved Ones See Me From Heaven?

Beyond the Veil

So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come.He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. (Hebrews 9:11-12, NLT)

In the tabernacle Moses built for the Spirit of God to dwell with His people, and subsequently the temple in Jerusalem constructed by Solomon as a permanent House of God, there was a room in which the high priest entered only one time per year to offer an animal sacrifice to atone the sins of the people and himself. This room was called the Most Holy Place. Upon the death of Jesus, the curtain separating the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place was ripped in two from top to bottom. This signified the redemption of man by Jesus Christ alone.

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart (Matthew 27:50-51, NLT)

Today the only veil that remains is the present and the step into eternity separated by our final breath and our first encounter with God. For we are destined once to die and then the judgement. (Hebrews 9:27)

What about those beyond the veil of time? Can they see us who remain? Can they direct us, be proud of us, cheer us on? These are questions one either has, or attributes we assign in an effort to ease the sting of death we feel so very deeply.

Let’s start with what we know.

In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus tells a story of a rich ruler who despised a poor man named Lazarus in his life. Both the ruler and the poor beggar, Lazarus,  die. The ruler goes to hell and the beggar to heaven. The ruler is in anguish and cries out to Abraham and Lazarus whom he can see in heaven. Abraham alone responds to the ruler and tells him,

But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there. (Luke 16:25-26, NLT, emphasis mine)

From this account we can inductively assume a few points:

  • a great chasm separates heaven and hell
  • those in heaven and hell cannot cross over the chasm
  • those in hell may be allowed to see the glory they forfeited by rejecting Christ/God in this life
  • in this situation (perhaps allegorical as Jesus often taught in parables) Abraham was able to hear and respond to the cries of the rich ruler as he suffered in hell

Our next text describes Saul appealing to a medium to summon the deceased spirit of the prophet Samuel. This account in 1 Samuel 28 documents a woman of Endor summoning Samuel’s spirit from the dead. When Samuel comes in spirit form, he asks Saul,

“Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?” (1 Samuel 28:15, NLT)

From this text and supporting scriptures we can inductively assume the following:

  • It is possible during some situations to summon the spirits of the dead (other authors have purported this was a shock to even the witch of Endor as she was perhaps more likely prepared to see a demon than Samuel himself).
  • In verse 15 we see that it is a disruption to summon those in the eternal presence of God from Heaven (Samuel was a devote follower of God who died looking forward to the Messiah).
  • As a result of Saul consulting the medium and disobeying God in this way, he died (see 1 Chronicles 10:13-14).
  • Consider Isaiah 18:19,  “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?”
  • Also Deuteronomy 18:10, “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,”
  • God makes it clear in His word that consulting mediums is wrong and against the will and commandments of our Holy Lord.

As I prepared to write on this topic both of the above accounts instantly came to mind. This topic of those who have gone on before us is a difficult one to tackle both because of the absence of explicit answers on this topic and because of the sensitivity of the subject to the grieving.

Now for my personal opinion based on all I know of the scriptures.

Personally, I do not believe that our loved ones in Heaven can see us who remain on earth for two reasons.

First because there will be no pain, death, or tears in Heaven (Revelation 21:4). If the Father allowed those in Heaven to witness even happy, celebratory moments on earth, some things within the context of such celebrations have the potential to cause grief.

Secondly, to be in the Lord’s presence is to know fullness of joy. Those in heaven are too preoccupied with worship and the overwhelming weight of glory that they perhaps either by default or design do not dwell on all that they have left behind.

This is not to imply that we cannot say with great assurance comforting words such as, “Your mom would have been so proud if she could have seen you in this moment.” We knew the deceased and their personalities well enough to predict reactions to the present.

In closing, God hears, sees, and knows outside the boundaries of time and space. The comforts of provision and joy that He affords us after the passing of a loved one are His grace revealed and His love proclaimed over you. Why wouldn’t He use the works that the departed accomplished before their death to provide direction and comfort for you in the present? Our God is mighty and awesome and He surely desires to see our hearts at peace.

Seeking comfort from the only One who has grace enough for all our pain,

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Tips for Successfully Reading Your Bible Daily in 2014

Jason and Heather Horseshoe Bend

The first time I attempted to read through the Bible may have been 2009. I met with success using the NIV One Year Chronological Bible. Portions were tedious, no doubt, and many times I played catchup, wondering if I would ever navigate my way through the wilderness of Old Testament genealogies. However, I persevered and because of that, encountered parts of the Bible I would have otherwise avoided or overlooked.

As 2013 dawned, I scrambled for resolutions and toyed with the idea of once again reading through the Bible in a year. I decided on a plan that started with the Old Testament and trudged forward. Admittedly, it wasn’t long before I was entirely bored with my reading plan. I rushed through it so I could check it off my list and move on to a text more interesting at the time.

Read the remainder of the post over here at iBelieve.

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Purity and Social Media… Not Mutually Exclusive

CG Ladies

My husband and I were hanging out in the living room, he watching sports on TV as I scanned my iPhone Instagram App. Wading through pictures of friend’s children and the latest meme, I was jolted by the next photo that flashed on my screen. A former student from our ministry days was posed in her bathing suit bottoms, showing off her hard earned assets… I think you get the picture.

I stammered over my thoughts as I turned to my husband, Ron, and said, “It is really disheartening when I see former students who profess faith in Christ showing off their bodies and bad decisions on social media.” Without showing him the picture, I described the image. Without responding, Ron continued to fiddle with his iPad and watch the game. No reply from him led me to assume he has heard my modesty rant mortification spiel one too many times. However, imagine my surprise when Ron’s Facebook status popped up on my feed, seconds later.

“I am going to go out on a limb here and ask you girls who are working out like fiends and look great to protect us guys who are trying to be faithful to our spouses. Please save those photos for your husband either now or one day. #thinkbeforeyoupost Thanks!”

Read the rest over at iBelieve. (Click here.)

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Step Into Fall

Step Into Fall

Last week we looked at the changing of seasons. As you sip your favorite fall drink, or grab another pumpkin treat, here are some fall-time posts from the archives. Let’s step into fall together shall we?

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? (Amos 3:3, NLT)

  1. Harvesting Hearts of Principle (here)
  2. Apple Picking in the South (here)
  3. To Carve Out a Light (here)
  4. Thanksgiving: To Lay Down a Life (here)
  5. Stepping Back in Time (here)

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This Weekend

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This weekend, may you snuggle-up next to someone you love, read a book that stirs your soul, and find reasons to give thanks.

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I Must Remember This

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As I re-wipe counters that were morning clean, fold and put away the same shirts and underwear as last week, and re-sweep floors that were a few days ago Swiffer fresh, I must remember this…

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, everything here on planet earth is temporary.

Man is like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow. ~Psalm 144:4

That I like Moses should pray,

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. ~Psalm 90:12

Feet will not always dangle from seats too high.

Imaginative play lasts only for a season.

Even tantrums, the “no” stage, and time-outs will eventually fade away.

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I must remember that the little girl and little boy will soon stand up and take their place in God’s world.

Time on earth is temporary and fleeting. Eternity lasts forever.

Shouldn’t I work for the eternal? See my children and their fleeting days till adulthood as a gift and a heritage to be cultivated in tiny hearts? Seek to serve the poor and the persecuted? Indeed. I must remember that each assignment the Lord gives me on this earth will last, at most, only a lifetime. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to this quote  from Joan Walsh Anglund:

Where is the yesterday that worried us so?

I must remember that today is a gift, yesterday a memory, and tomorrow is a hope yet unrealized. I want to be a good steward of today and the resources God entrusted to me within it. There is pressure in this knowledge, but also freedom.

In these days of uncertainty with our foster child, Little E, I very easily become discouraged and drained. I fear as we start a year of homeschooling in the coming weeks that I will  not be able to keep up, perform, be the mom, wife, writer, teacher child of God that I am called to be.  I am overwhelmed and fearful because of the domestic demands, motherly demands,foster care demands, and self-inflicted demands that I place on myself. Putting one foot in front of the other, one load in the wash after another, one dish in the dishwasher after another can seem so mundane and, even worse,  never ending.

It is okay to confess these feelings of drain fellow parent. To pretend it is not so is to live a lie. To accept it and not try to take these feelings to the foot of the cross is selling out for a lesser life. He wants us to live in abundant, holy joy.

I must remember that in this small piece of a breath of life, the thing my children will remember more than all else is the love and affection they did or did not receive. The pieces of  daily offerings added over time may not be remembered in vivid accounts but more as a picture of wholeness. For they were wholly…holy…loved.

Dear Father,

Please teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Help us to live for the eternal, hold onto things loosely, and work for Your glory and fellow man’s good. Help us to seek the things that are above and remember that all victories or defeats in this life are but fleeting. Help us to delight in You and spread your fame through all the earth. Help us to be rich in good deeds both within our home and without. Help us to pursue a godly and peaceful life. Let us do the work you give us with joy and sow a godly heritage in the children you have blessed us with. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

*An edited re-post.

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Of Rocks and Hidden Sin

I saw him digging in the dirt and thought that his hands were instinctively finding more yard-work to tackle. It wasn’t until the rocks began to pile in the back of Joshua’s metal dump-truck that I realized what Ron was working on.

He was clearing the dirt of the unyielding hard surfaces of rocks; making room for roots to run deep.

The next day I was adding space to breathe in our outside storage closet. I walked around the corner to assist the children with their play, when I noticed the new edging that Ron had carefully constructed in first one corner and then along the bend of another. The rocks that, had they laid buried, could have prevented growth within our flower beds, now lay as a shining washed border to mark the boundaries of the beds.

The rocks that lay in the dark were washed and exposed to the light. They were given a new purpose as a boundary with distinction. 

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What if  we view those rocks as our hidden, or deeply buried, sin? Are we presently digging them up or pushing them further down into the layers of dirt? Are we covering them with the fertilizer and mulch of excuses, blame, denial, or avoidance?

When we unearth the rocks of sin through confession and repentance Jesus washes us clean. He will use the past experiences to lay boundaries in our present paths. Experiences of unwise, unhealthy, and flagrantly wrong choices are a painful teacher.  However, after we identify the rocks, sin, for what they really are, He can use them to lay boundaries or guard rails in our lives so that we need not experience the dark, lonely confines of a life buried in the consequences of sinful choices again. Rather we can soak in the Son and glisten with newness of life as we walk in a new way of life.

The rocks that were a suppressed reminder of our sinful demise, are re-purposed into a protective border of choices for today and guidance to those who happen to walk our path.

One day a stone was rolled away that all who believe on Christ Jesus may have new life in Him. (John 20) The same Jesus who rolled away the stone, and rose from the dead, wants to take the rocks from your soul-laced soil and breathe new life into the dead places too long buried.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:13-16, NLT)

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Enter Here

Pictures of doors from around the globe often captivate me on Pinterest. Vivid colors, adorning flowers, and unique shapes of doorways stand out among the mirage of images to pin.

Prayer opens the door to communication with God. God speaks to us in a variety of ways: the Bible, His people, our circumstances, etc….as directed by the Holy Spirit. However, we initiate communication with God through prayer uttered with our minds and mouths. When we pray, we invite the ever-present God to join in the conversation of our very lives moment by moment.

The goal of prayer is to live all of my life and speak all of my words in the joyful awareness of the presence of God. ~John Ortberg, The Me I Want to Be

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Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation, Jesus instructed his disciples (Mark 14:38). Watch and pray. Seek wisdom with your whole heart (Proverbs 2). Whether you turn to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:21).”

God actively instructs, watches, and listens to us. We determine if we go about our whole day without a God-ward thought, or if we open our eyes and lift our thoughts in continual communion with the One who never leaves or forsakes us.

To make prayer a continual conversation is to truly take every thought captive and make it obedient to God. At the gym, in the car, at the job or while correcting our children, we take captive our thoughts and purpose them to prayer. It is a matter of our will and a matter of restoring our redeemed minds to the mind of Christ-likeness– the one in whose image we are made.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7, NLT)

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Often we might want to shut the door on certain thought patterns. God knows the needed areas of change. He will not stagger in astonishment at our repentant confessions and pleas for help. He delights in humble, contrite hearts– not the hearts of the religious pharisees whose cups are clean on the outside only (Psalms 51:17, Matthew 23:25-26).

In our day, most people close their eyes when they pray. But praying with one’s eyes open was common for Jewish people in that day. Among other things, it reminded them, God is right here, right now, in my real world. ~John Ortberg, The Me I Want to Be

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How often do you open the door to communication and communion with the Spirit of the Living God?

Today, may we pray with eyes wide open. May we look for opportunities to speak with the Spoken Word made flesh (John 1:14) that His  presence may be manifested to us as He dwells within us (John 14:26).

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The Challenge of Change

I am sure that you have felt it…that gentle push into the deep. The pressure to go further than you have gone before. More resistance.   A steeper incline…or a seeming free fall.

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When we are challenged to step out of the boat, into the ring, take center stage, or serve in the most humble of ways, it is all for the glory of God and the transformation of a spiritual life.

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Humans need change. We need to be pushed past our known limits so that we can achieve the unmet goals of good works that God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). This looks different in every life. Likewise, the cost of change will be felt somewhat uniquely by each individual.

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Routine and familiarity breeds comfort, but trust in the midst of change breeds faith and rejoicing.

In what areas are you being asked to make changes? Step up? Step out in faith? To endure beyond what you thought was possible?

Choose joy in this:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6, NLT)

Take heart my friends and serve faithfully. In prayer, I will do the same.

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We Have Been Published!

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Five years ago, Ron took our first group of students to Student Leadership University (SLU). This fabulous leadership program for today’s youth is headed and founded by Dr. Jay Strack.  Dr. Jay has been a youth evangelist for over 30 years. I had the privilege of hearing him myself as a youth growing up in the 90’s. His experience and expertise in the youth industry is in a league of its very own.

SLU has proven to be a wonderful tool to train young people to be the godly leaders with integrity that our country desperately needs today. Back in the fall of 2012, Ron received an e-mail from Dr. Jay asking him to be a contributor for his newest book, #CriticalIssues #AbsoluteAnswers. Ron was delighted with the offer and made one additional request…”Can my wife write two chapters as well?”

Think of the humility and the selflessness of my husband! How many people, either male or female, would put the heart’s desires of their spouse for publication equal to their own? Not many I would sadly say, but that is the level of servant leadership which Ron possesses. Praise be to God!

Dr. Jay agreed to having both the Cooney’s as contributors and, with thrilled hearts, we set to writing our respective chapters.

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After months of editing and ordering the chapters written by contributors such as Dr. Jay Strack, Chuck Allen, Dr. Danny Akin, Brent Crowe, and Dave Edwards; Jack Countryman and the team at Thomas Nelson have packaged a wonderful resource for youth, parents, and youth workers to benefit from. #CriticalIssues #AbsoluteAnswers tackles 70 issues that teens face and the questions concerning them. This book provides Bible-based answers to such questions surrounding identity, self-esteem, leadership, missions, faith, pain, sex, divorce, homosexuality, and discipleship, plus much much more.


It is with humbled and excited hearts that we are proud to share this wonderful, newly published resource with you. Our teens are bombarded with the pull of the world and it is our hearts desire that they acquire biblical answers and direction to choose the narrow path towards Christ-likeness and ultimately home.

You can purchase a copy by clicking the link below. Ron and I would love to send this wonderful resource to you! If you would like to make a bulk order for your youth-group or for graduation gifts, please e-mail me at Brooke.Cooney.1@gmail.com and we would love to make that happen for you.



 

God bless you and the lives of the youth that you influence! For His Kingdom’s glory!

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