My current book project has as its title HeavenVision: Glimpses into Glory, and I didn’t want to dilute that title’s effectiveness by using it for a preceding essay. Thus, I struggled to find another title for this article, which pertains to relatively the same topics as I have outlined for the book. Being an old advertising guy, words for use as catchphrases have always come relatively easily to me. Not so with this article’s title. The title just couldn’t be improved upon in my trained ear for “catchphrase-ology.” While the article reflects the same theme as the upcoming book, it is much more precisely directed to a particular aspect of the book’s treatment.
This essay, I find, is the most difficult to undertake of the hundreds I have written. Yet, I feel it is perhaps the most important. That is because it involves an area of the Christian faith that I have long deliberately avoided approaching, yet am now certain I’m directed to address. My theological bent has always been in direction other than ecstatic experience of any sort. Such accounts are fraught with emotional hyperbole more often than not wielded as emotion that is a substitute for true spirituality found within God’s Word. As I say, I have always avoided use of such emotionalism.
My report of my heart stopping, and some things subsequent to that experience on April 22, 2011, was posted on raptureready.com Monday, May 1, 2011. It was my intention to keep it at that, so far as writing anything further about those matters for our website. My reluctance to go beyond my usual reservations about dealing with personal accounts of supernaturalism in any form, however, has been overridden by, I’m convinced, the Holy Spirit’s directing me to tell, in-depth, the meanings wrapped up in my heart stopping on those three occasions.
Here, I must pause to apologize to Angie, my patient, much-beloved editor of many years. She has to be growing extremely weary of having to read my thoughts on this experience yet another time. But, it is something that grows within my spirit, rather than diminishes, and I have to continue to share the message I believe I’ve been charged with disseminating.
Things I saw and sensed that day have over the past months pulsed to life within my mind. Realizations that I neither sought nor expected have struck at times my thoughts were turned in directions totally different than remembrances of clinically dying. The Holy Spirit spoke to me in that small, still, voice as at no other time I can remember.
I was allowed to go through the valley of the shadow of death for specific reasons, I’ve been shown. The reasons involve Bible prophecy. Precisely stated, the visions—and I don’t know what else to call them—relate to the days in which this generation now goes about daily life.
You can’t know how strange it is to hear myself writing these things. (I hear myself writing, because I’ve been blind since 1993 due to a retinal disease, as some people who visit the Rapture Ready site perhaps know.) I work with a computer program, the acronym of which is JAWS (Jobs Accessible Word System). It is a synthesized voice program that audibly plays back every typed letter, word, sentence, paragraph, document, etc.
So the “strangeness” I’m referring to is that wrapped up in my reservations about delving into matters I have always considered the supernatural, experiential fringe, which presents a mighty struggle for me. Thoughts of the ecstatic sort are foreign to my stodgy, Baptist-type cogitation. But I know what I saw, what I experienced. I know what I’ve been told to share about what I’ve termed this, my HeavenVision.
I gladly give permission for Saline Memorial Hospital, where I was taken in the emergency, to release details of my clinically dying three times that day. I begin with once again recounting exactly what happened that Good Friday, April 22, 2011.
When I could no longer work as public relations director for corporations, as I had done for most of twenty-five years, because the retinal disease had progressed to the point I could no longer move about in the corporate world as required, I established a home office and did freelance writing for business and political clients. At the same time, I began a regular physical workout routine. The year was 1979.
Only on very rare occasions have I missed doing three or four workouts per week since that time. So it was on Good Friday of 2011 that I completed my exercise routine of about one and a half hours in duration. It was about 1:30 in the afternoon. I had just completed the cool-down phase by using the recumbent bike. Almost the moment I finished, a burning began in my chest and grew worse by the second. I had never felt anything like the sensation, but thought it to be just a severe case of indigestion. I stood and walked around, stretching and trying to make it subside. The pain just grew in intensity.
My chest felt as if there was a fist behind the sternum, trying to punch its way out. My breathing became increasingly labored and I had the thought that it might be a heart attack. But, I was in good condition…had never been sick to any extent over my sixty-eight years of life.
When the breathing became so difficult that I was struggling for every breath, I told my wife, Margaret, that she should call 9-1-1, because the pain was not getting better.
Calling for emergency care was something I would never do for myself, she knew, so she got on the phone immediately. Meantime, I asked her to get an aspirin, which I swallowed, thinking that was something you were supposed to do if experiencing chest pain.
The ambulance arrived in about ten to fifteen minutes and the EMT guys went to work trying to find a pulse. One told the other that he couldn’t find the pulse. The other joined him in pressing on my wrist and neck. He said that he couldn’t find a pulse, either.
My unspoken thought was: No pulse means you’re dead, doesn’t it?
One of the EMT men asked if I could walk to the gurney, which was just outside the front door. It would save a lot of time, because it would be difficult to get the gurney out with me on it.
I managed to walk to the door and to the gurney with each of them on either elbow. Soon I was strapped in, and they were checking me and putting nitroglycerin beneath my tongue. The pain had grown to an agonizing level.
The one working over me reported to the hospital that I had told him I had taken an aspirin when I felt the pain growing in intensity. That was one thing I learned from some of the doctor shows over the years, I guess. They seemed pleased with the revelation that I had thought to take the pill.
“I think we have a coronary in progress,” the emergency worker said to the hospital dispatcher.
A coronary!…A heart attack?… Me, of all people? My thoughts ran the gamut of analyzing how that could possibly happen, seeing that I had always worked out, and had not even taken medicine throughout my life except for the occasional antibiotic for minor illnesses.
We stopped, and I felt the guys tugging at the gurney after they got the back of the vehicle opened. The chest pain was now excruciating. I heard a blip sound, like a computer making the transition from one application to another.
I was instantly standing before a large group of young, beautiful people. They glowed, not with some ghostly glow, but with that of the vibrant, perfect health of the young. They were smiling broadly, their hands motioning and arms raising and gesturing for me to join them, I could tell.
I was in a place of perfection…of joy…and I had no thought of where I had just come from, or any thought of anything, except that this was reality like I had never known. I wanted to stay forever.
The people became increasingly energized in their cheering welcome, and I wanted to move into their midst. But then things got dark and nightmarish, and I was feeling my bare chest with my fingertips.
Oh, yeah. I was on my way to the hospital, or something. Or was this just a bad dream and I would soon be back to those young people and all of that joy and peace? No. I remembered then: This was a heart attack, or something; I didn’t know what, at this point.
“I hit him with the paddles!” a man was shouting.
“Paddles?” I said to him. (They said I came back talking.)
“Your heart stopped,” was his comment.
The pain again grew in my chest, and once more I heard the blip.
Once more I stood in front of that joyous throng of those in their mid-twenties, or so they appeared. They were cheering with great energy. I again wanted to join them. The warmth, the love, was incredible…and peaceful, despite their powerful exultation.
Reflecting now on my being in front of that throng, there was one beautiful young face in particular that captured my attention. She appeared to be at the center of the group, and her demeanor seemed especially welcoming.
I felt the darkness tugging me, and I was again on the gurney, or table, or whatever. The activity over and around me was frantic. My clothes were stripped from me, things were being attached to me, and someone was getting prepared to do something in the right groin area.
“What are you doing?” I naturally asked, strangely calm and clinical with my question. Never during all of this did I think of the possibility of dying. Never was I ever near panic.
The man’s voice was foreign. I later learned he was from India—and was one of the top interventional cardiologists in our state. Someone to my left said, “He’s busy trying to save your life.”
I thought, Well, when someone is trying to save your life, it is wise to just shut up. Which I did.
The pain grew to be excruciating again, and then the blip sounded. I was among the young people. I could see and sense them on either side. It was like we were running; all of us were laughing and thoroughly enjoying the experience. Some of them were looking over at me with their bright laughter as we ran. The same young woman, I now recall, was even more jubilant than the others as she turned to look at me and raise her hands in a victorious gesture. There was no thought of where I had been before I was again in their presence.
We were moving swiftly from right to left, if one were watching it happen. We were moving toward some powerful, magnetic tugging that none of us either could or wanted to resist. It was, however, unbridled freedom and joy that I felt while we moved.
This time, I faded from being among them, to my great consternation. I was again on the procedure table, having been hit for the third time with the defibrillator to start my heart, which had stopped beating those three times (I was told later).
They had finished with me, and I felt no pain—only hands all over me, doing things to wires and tubes attached to me. They told my wife that I came back each time chattering—talking to those in the procedure room. I sure did. I wanted everyone—anyone—to know the spectacular place I had just been.
“Now, details…” the doctor began, standing over me to my right. In his accented voice, he started explaining the angiogram of my heart. He had placed the pictures above me so I could see them.
Only I couldn’t.
“I can’t see them,” I said. “I’m blind. I’ve been blind since 1993 due to a retinal disease.”
“Oh?” he said. “What disease?”
“Ah, yes,” he said, moving to behind me and standing above my left shoulder. He put his index finger upon my chest, and ran it down my left side to below the sternum as he talked. “You had what we call ‘the widow maker.’ It is the left coronary artery—descending,’” I thought he said. “Fifty percent of the people who have this kind of blockage of this artery never make it to the emergency room. Of those who do make it, most don’t live.”
I was impressed. “I’m still here,” I said—to get his assurance, not to boast.
“You are still here,” he confirmed, patting me on the shoulder.
They told Margaret when bringing me into the emergency room that they would do all they could, but she said later that she could tell they didn’t have much hope. I had, they told her, been dead on arrival.
The doctor told me that I was within ten seconds of being irrecoverable, when the defibrillator finally restarted my heart. From a medical standpoint, I’m sure that was a correct assessment. However, Jesus, my Lord, holds the keys to death and hell. He used those wonderful medical personnel to “recover” me. But, He could have done it without any help. He is God…
Now, to the purpose for writing this essay.
I wrote in beginning of this article that it is directed at a very specific aspect of the topics I hope to cover in the upcoming book I give the title, HeavenVision: Glimpses into Glory. I further wrote that this aspect involves Bible prophecy. The following will, I hope, present as clearly as possible what I mean.
Again, with the caveat that I am extremely reluctant to ever get into dreams and visions-type experiences of any sort, I must tell you that the Holy Spirit has specifically impressed upon my spirit things involved with my clinical death on those three occasions. I’ve been shown that I am to write and present these things to those who will read about them.
I realize that what I’ve put down here opens me up to rebuke from some quarters, and to criticism, possibly, even from colleagues who, like me, have generally viewed it best to just not go there (where I’m going to go now).
But, it is with confidence that I relate all of this.
I will follow Dr. Charles Stanley’s advice, which I like very much. Obey God, no matter what, and leave all the consequences to Him.
Somewhere around the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, I wrote a series of ten articles I called “Scanning a Fearful Future.” It was shortly after that—February 25, 2011, to be exact, that I began making notes, as I always do before beginning a book. My dear mother and her sister—Auntie Bet, as I have always called her (her name is Betty)—had been wanting me to write a book on heaven. I thought it would be a good time to do so, since my twenty-two books thus far have dealt mostly with prophecy.
I put the title down: HeavenVision. I gave it the subtitle, Glimpses into Glory. My thought was to center the book around near-death experiences of people who have reported them over the years. These would be about clinical deaths—those that actually involved the heart stopping. The recounting of what people experienced upon those heart-stoppages was the kind of thing I wanted to explore, but with the thought of bringing out as ultimate Truth what God’s Word, the Bible, says about that wonderful abode called heaven. Needless to say, my own view—as mentioned several times previously—was skeptical, for the most part, about such experiences.
While entering notes into my computer file, I would often get up to stretch, maybe get a cup of coffee or something, and walk a bit before sitting back down to the project.
I remember vividly on a number of occasions chuckling to myself and thinking while wandering about the house: What if I should have one of those clinical death experiences? What if I went to heaven, but was brought back from the brink? That would give the book some interesting, not to mention credible, perspective, to say the least!
Of course that wasn’t possible. I worked out and was in good shape…had never been seriously sick a day in my life!
So, following the series of articles called “Scanning a Fearful Future,” I began the book I hope to bring to publication before too long. Part of the epiphany I’ve received from the Lord—actually several epiphanies I’m about to present—includes the importance of things involved in the series as related to my own near-death event only a short two months later.
The article series was to help address a number of fear-filled emails I was receiving. The fear expressed was mostly about whether Christians will have to go through persecution before the Rapture occurs. Specifically, many wanted to know—still do want to know, I guess—whether Christians in America will, before the Rapture, have to go through persecution to the extent of facing death for their belief in Christ, like martyrs of the past, and like that suffered by many in some countries around the world at this very moment.
The series of articles presented the overall conclusion in answer to this basic question through examining the words of the Lord Jesus on the subject of His return to earth. The following is what He prophesied:
And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. (Luke 17:26-30)
I wrote the following (in part nine of the series) as commentary about Jesus’ prophecy:
Jesus Christ—God in the flesh—foretold that the time just before God’s judgment and wrath befall rebellious mankind at the very end of the Church Age will be like it was in the days of Noah and of Lot. Although those times were wicked and all thoughts were focused continually on evil, people of the earth were carrying on with normal activities like eating, drinking, planting, building, marrying, buying, and selling.
In the days of Noah, earth dwellers were carrying on business as usual right up until the moment that Noah entered the ark and all who were left on earth were swept away by the Flood. In the days of Lot, there was an air of civility, with Lot even serving as a judge at the city gates during the day. At night, however, the depravity ran rampant when homosexual lust turned to voracious, predatory assault. Lot and his family members were removed, and all people who were left behind in the city were consumed by the holocaust from heaven.
Jesus said He will be revealed when conditions are like they were during those times. We have seen that the time when He intervenes into the affairs of mankind as described in Luke 17:26-30 will not be His Second Coming at Armageddon (Revelation 19:11). It will be another, earlier intervention–but catastrophic, nonetheless.
We have pointed out many times in these commentaries the strangeness of the dynamics of our times. Crises are building in many critical aspects of human interaction. We have wondered in amazement at the insanity of the dastardly mismanagement of economic matters by governments around the world. How, we puzzle over, have the economies of America and the world avoided crashing?
Why, despite threats of the destruction of Israel by the likes of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear production facilities not occurred? Why, with the tremendous buildup of arms by the many Islamic Israel-haters in obvious preparation for an attack on the Jewish state, has there not been a major blow-up in the Middle Eastthat would disrupt world stability?
Yet the anxieties about the world sitting on a number of powder kegs afflict only a few people, relatively speaking. Except for those who are unemployed in America, for example, it’s business as usual. The majority of people just don’t worry about the precarious position of the nation and the world. The masses are buying, selling, marrying–even men with men and women with women, I might add. And building continues, despite the housing debacle and trillions of dollars of debt wrought by monetary madness such as that found in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Most troubling, the church in America–and I am referring to those who are born again (see John 3: 3)—is, for the most part, oblivious to world conditions that present strong evidence that we are on the brink of the prophesied apocalypse. This makes this generation of Christians precisely the generation I believe Jesus was speaking prophetically to when He said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44)…
I wrote the following in the series conclusion:
Every signal across the geopolitical, socioeconomic, and religious spectrum–even signals involving the geophysical and astrophysical— scream through the sirens of forewarning. We are at the very end of the Church Age–on the brink of the Tribulation. Yet most in America–including most believers in Jesus Christ—are going about business as usual. Except for the relatively few voices forewarning of the impending cataclysm, there is no recognition of or interest in the end-times storm warnings.
Jesus, as we have seen, said human activity will be like it is at present when He next breaks into earth’s history like a thief in the night. Again, we look at the Lord’s words in the book of Matthew:
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. (Matthew 24:36–42)
As we have examined, this break-in upon mankind’s history cannot be describing the Second Advent. It will not be business as usual at that time, when the planet is decimated by wars and God’s judgment and wrath. Jesus is here speaking of the Rapture—His imminent, catastrophic break-in upon earth’s history.
So, we come to our present hour. America is the apex nation of the world. That is, it is the most materially blessed nation and one of the most spiritually blessed nations ever to exist. This, despite the fact that it has degenerated in many ways to become perhaps the most wicked in human history. The United States is so blessed with material wealth that every nation on earth is inextricably linked to its economy in one way or another.
It is true that its dominance is under threat and is eroding quickly. The economic meltdown and unavoidable implosion of America’s monetary hegemony is imminent. But everything of global financial significance still hinges on the health and fate of the American dollar…
Despite incessant assaults, the American economy hasn’t collapsed. It should have by now, but it hasn’t. It is, despite ominous signs ahead, business as usual—just as Jesus said it would be at the end of the age. If America’s economy crashes—as [many say] it will very shortly—the entire world will collapse to rubble. The business-as-usual element of Christ’s prophecy about it being like the days of Noah and Lot would be out the proverbial window.
If the U.S. economy collapsed, taking the world’s buying and selling capability into the darkest times in history, it would take years—-if ever—-for everything to recover so that things would again come into business-as-usual configuration. Yet the devastating, world-rending collapse is coming. It cannot be stopped…
I disagree that the folly of man or the deliberate manipulations of human diabolists will bring the fearful disaster. And the disaster will not happen until God’s prophetic timing allows. It will continue to be business as usual despite increasing harbingers of economic calamity. Perhaps conditions will even look like they are improving. But if so, it will be smoke and mirrors—a sham “recovery.” The damage is done. Recovery is impossible.
This all means that Jesus Christ is poised to do exactly what He foretold. The prophetic signals and conditions prevalent in America and the world should have the attention of every believer. Jesus is about to fulfill His glorious promise as recorded in John 14:1–3.
The Rapture, I believe Jesus is telling us, will be the sword of judgment that pierces the building, festering boil of humanistic rebellion. When the church is taken to heaven, the minds of those left behind who want to control will no longer have restraint on their thoughts and ambitions. There will cease to be a governor on man’s conscience, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:7–8, because the Holy Spirit will allow the evil within mankind to do its dastardly work…
The Church, with the Restrainer resident within each believer, will continue to be salt and light—to exert influence over America’s societal and cultural conditions. That influence, although observably becoming less and less effective, will be sufficient to prevent all-out, Nazi-like persecution against Christians in this nation.
When the Church-Age saints go to Christ upon His call to them (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17; Revelation 4:1-2), America and the world will be devoid of the church’s buffering influence. Those who accept Christ during the Tribulation will undergo the most horrific persecution of human history.
Again, if a calamity like the one [many] forecasts were to befall this nation before Christ’s foretold intervention into earth’s history, such a collapse would take the U.S. and the world out of the time of business as usual Jesus said will be in place when He pays the earth that surprise visit.
Jesus was telling us in Luke 17:26–30 and Matthew 24:36–42 specifically about His coming for the church, and the general time frame of that event. With all that is in alignment precisely as Jesus and the prophets described, I am convicted in my spirit that now is that time.
Those who haven’t become part of God’s family–believing in Jesus Christ for their personal salvation—face a fearful future indeed. They will be left behind in an instantly changed world gone mad with chaos infinitely worse than [many observers of world conditions] predict.
There is still opportunity in this Church Age for the person who hasn’t accepted the Lord Jesus as personal Savior to do so. But time is fleeting. The Rapture could take place at any moment.
Here is what God’s Holy Word, the Bible, has to say to you, if you want to escape from this world that is soon to suffer God’s righteous judgment. Truly follow these instructions from the heart of the God who loves you and wants you to be safe with Him forever. You will then be assured not of a fearful future, but of a future that is fabulous beyond description.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10: 9–10).
My HeavenVision has revealed to my spirit that the experience was allowed for the following reasons. The realizations have come over a period of several months since that Good Friday my heart stopped three separate times. I heard God’s still, small voice—that of the Holy Spirit—speak, not audibly, but to my thought processes at times totally unanticipated.
The first realization imparted to me was that the throng of beautiful, dynamic young people, behind which every color imaginable sparked and burst while they cheered, arms and hands thrusting upward victoriously, relates directly to the following Scripture:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. (Hebrews 12: 1-3)
Next, I was impressed that the Lord was saying through the cloud of witnesses that He was pleased with the fact I am teaching His prophetic Word at this crucial time so near the end of the Church Age. But, the cheering of those young witnesses isn’t for me only—rather for all of us who are remaining faithful to preach, teach, write—present—the prophetic truth.
Additionally, the impression upon my spirit is that heaven is pleased that we are teaching the premillennial, pretrib Rapture. It is confirmed in my spirit that this is absolutely the true message the Lord wants disseminated. Again—it isn’t just for me I’ve been given this affirmation, but for all who hold to, preach, and teach the premillennial, pretribulation Rapture view from God’s Holy Word, the Bible.
Further, regarding my writing the series, “Scanning a Fearful Future,” I have been impressed with assurance that this is the way the building crises will run their course while Christ’s sudden intervention with the Rapture grows ever nearer. The throng of witnesses was, I am assured, heaven’s validation of the truth wrapped up in my series of articles.
And, then, the Lord did something so like Him. He touched my spiritual heart with a further realization—one of a very personal nature. Just before I lost my eyesight totally, I was awakened one early morning—about 3 a.m. or so. My thought was to write and put together a book on Bible prophecy, an area that has always been at the forefront of my Bible study. I should, the impression was, approach a number of top Bible prophecy writers, broadcasters, and speakers. It would be a book of compilation–chapters by myself and others.
I began that very day to accomplish that project. As I recall, the very first person I approached was Dr. Dave Breese. It was 1992, and the war called Desert Storm had been in progress, liberating Kuwait from the Iraqi forces of Saddam Hussein. Dave, among the kindest and most brilliant men of God I’ve ever known, and who became a close friend, was quick to agree and to help solicit others to join in the project. We called the book Storming toward Armageddon. It was my first book, and, thankfully, a very successful one.
During the writing of the book, I became close friends with an elderly lady named Arbra Carman. She was a wonderful Christian woman who was severely crippled by osteoporosis. Yet, she was faithful to teach a group of young women sometimes two or three times a week. Her Bible studies were almost legendary among those women. They would gather in her little home and sit around Arbra on the floor while listening to this wise saint break the Word of God to them.
Arbra loved Bible prophecy, and we grew close on the phone, talking about my upcoming book and about world conditions from a prophetic perspective. She was quite a poet, loving to write about biblical, godly things in beautiful poetry.
The idea struck, and I asked her if she would let me put one of her poems at the beginning of my first book. She was thrilled, and that poem is in that book today. I put more poems by her in my next two or three books. Then, Arbra grew very invalid and her eyes began to fail. She told me that the tree leaves were, finally, just all one solid mass, and her world had become shadows.
My eyesight, of course, had ended during the putting together of that first book, so I was by this time, totally blind. This gave Mrs. Carman and me even more common ground, and I did my best to comfort her while her eyes grew dim.
But, she didn’t have long to endure the loss of her ability to see. She died not long after the publication of the final book in which we placed one of her poems.
The beautiful, dynamically happy face I saw those times while the heavenly throng of young people cheered, I am assured in my spirit, was that of Arbra Carman.