Taken To Heaven

 

Prelude To My Heavenly Vision

 

Perhaps you’re not sure if you believe in God.  Maybe you believe you’re an agnostic, yet you remain open to the beliefs of others who do believe in God.   Regardless, I ask you to consider this: I believe you were drawn by the Spirit to hear this message and that it holds some things important for you to understand.  Personally, I believe the message contained herein is vitally important to every thinking human being.  Some of you will know intuitively that my heavenly experience is true; others will doubt.   But please do not pre-judge what you have not personally experienced or do not understand.   All I ask is that you keep an open mind and consider it as a possibility.  

 

I know with absolute certainty that my experience of being taken to heaven was real.  I speak about it honestly and with clarity, for it is just as fresh in my mind today as the day it happened.   That alone is a miracle, for it is not normal to have a memory remain clear and unchanged over a period of thirty years, especially if one lives a tumultuous life of financial and relational difficulties like I have.   But before I talk to you about being taken to heaven, I think it’s important to explain the framework of experiences and ideas that led up to that experience. 

 

Although I am no longer a traditional Christian I did accept Christ Jesus into my heart.  The reason I accepted Christ was simple: I was drawn by the Holy Spirit to do so.    My journey towards that day of invitation began in April of 1973, when I was walking through town on Easter Sunday and was invited to a Sunday school meeting and church service.   For the next 7 months I tried to dismiss the claims of Jesus Christ I read in the bible, thinking them to be the re-written words of men who made their words the words of Jesus.   Seven months later I realized none of that mattered.  The Holy Spirit was working in my heart, revealing a much greater truth, the truth of the living spirit.

 

I began going to youth meetings and bible studies and worship meetings at two different denominations in the small town of Bear River, Nova Scotia.  I would then return to my humble abode, an abandoned farmhouse a half-hour walk up the mountain from town.   I had absolutely no money but managed to scrounge some plastic to cover the windows of the one room I occupied.   There was no electricity and I got my water from an old well beside the house. 

 

Each time I attended one of those Christian meetings and walked up the dark road to my temporary home, I could feel the power of God’s holy spirit working in my heart and mind.  I had been searching through other religious books, which gave me their version of who Jesus was and what he said.  I compared their record with what was recorded in the Bible as Jesus’ words.  For the entire 7 months of this process I would open up those other books to compare ideas (i.e. The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali; Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East by Spalding; Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda) but they were like any other book I’ve opened.  They contained nice words that I would think about, words that represented ideas of what it was like on the “other side”, in the spirit realm.   But when I opened the bible to compare, I would get this recurring image of a piercing light entering into and transforming my mind.  There was a spiritual power behind the words of the Bible and that power manifested itself to me nearly every night for 7 months. 

 

It soon became apparent that what Jesus was saying was not the same as what those other books said Jesus was saying!   Jesus spoke with authority, as one who knew what it was like on the other side.   He claimed to have been sent to die for us, to give us an understanding of true love and forgiveness.  He was resurrected to proclaim the victory we can have over death, proving once and for all that there is life after death.   None of those other spiritual leaders, who unlike Jesus found it necessary to write books about their exploits, had ever been to heaven then returned with first hand experience.   I now realize that my experience of being taken to heaven was not just to provide me with further witness to the truth of what Jesus revealed in his parables and his recorded words.  It was also to give me the authority to speak of spiritual things from first hand experience, not just from the recycled words of bible colleges or seminaries, whose founders and all subsequent teachers, preach only according to what was preached to them. 

 

God has long wanted to do a new thing.   But almost always, throughout history, that “new thing” has been corrupted by the existing church mindset of religious men and women.   Soon enough the vision becomes yet another watered down church program.   This is why God called me out of the traditional church, so I would be free to interpret and understand according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  

 

As a young Christian I sat in on a few classes in several bible colleges, considering the possibility of going to school to acquire further understanding.  But again and again those words in the bible would convince me that I should seek truth and wisdom through the Holy Spirit.   Here is what I read:  Joh 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things,”.   And later, Joh 16:13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”   This is further reinforced in I John where Paul speaks of those who have led others astray:  1Jo 2:26-29These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.  But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need * not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.  And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.  If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

 

Well, as I was saying, I went through this process for seven months.   I finally realized I had to let go of my intellectual need to “figure it all out” and to instead become as a little child, trusting the promptings of the Holy Spirit.   At a packed small little country church in Nova Scotia, where “The Carpenters” were giving a concert, on November the 22, 1973, I accepted Christ as my savior.  

 

I noticed many changes immediately.   For instance, I was in the habit of visiting a young woman in Halifax whenever I was in town and we enjoyed having casual sex with one another.  Suddenly I was being challenged by the Holy Spirit, that sex without a commitment is fornication.  Many long held political beliefs were also transformed, practically overnight.  I also had an inner peace and joy unlike any I had experienced before. 

 

Shortly after my rebirth experience I learned that a couple whom I’d met previously had also become Christians.  Joe and Marie were former Hare Krishna devotees so I was intrigued and decided I just had to go visit them.  When we met it was an awesome experience.  Joe and I started talking about community and within minutes it was clear to both of us that God wanted us to start a community there on Joe and Maries property.   Joe invited me, as well as the woman whom I hitchhiked there with, Cindy, to move to their property.   I believe we left that same day, returning to get what belongings we needed and to sell the rest.   This was probably in May of 1974. 

 

I think it’s important to point out just how intensely powerful it is when believers join forces to establish a community.    For the three to four months that we were there, God poured out his spirit and gave us some of the most awesome spiritual experiences of my three decades as a Christian.  I know, I mean I KNOW, that this nearly three decades long dry spell will end when I am joined by others; those who likewise understand they have been “called and chosen” to help establish 3Circles Communities.

 

Here are some examples of the spiritual power we unleashed by our commitment to go anywhere and do anything to further the kingdom.   We would often get together for prayer and bible study.  Many times it would unleash the Holy Spirit in such a powerful way that our bodies would shake violently, so much so that we would hold onto one another, finding that this made the shaking more harmonious.   Each time this happened it would begin as gentle vibrations.   But the intensity of God’s power would continue to escalate and soon we were “higher” than any of us had ever been when we did drugs.  I believe we shook because we were not adept at directing God’s energy.  It was as if our physical body couldn’t contain all the energy that was pouring in.  One curious side note; with this experience came an intimate understanding of why the Shakers were called the Shakers!!   I’m not kidding.  When we began to read about them they described similar experiences.  And also, in a book published by “The Society of Brothers”, which started in Germany just after World War I, which has four communities including two in the US and one in England, I read their description of the same powerful shaking.   But not only the shaking experiences; they also described the other aspect of our spiritual experiences, where God’s presence is so powerful and overwhelming that “no words of one’s own can be spoken”. That quote from one of their books was exactly what we were experiencing and helped us to accept it as “normal” to be so supernaturally blessed!

 

I also remember one time where we had gotten high in the spirit and I was given this inner prompting to go see a couple we had recently befriended.  I went into the other room to retrieve my shoes and when I returned there was Joe coming down the stairs with his shoes.  Without one word being spoken by anyone, there was a certainty of knowing, and each of us, both the two men and the two women, knew who we had to go visit, that Joe and I were to go, and that we needed to go now.   Joe and I got into the car and drove for about 10 minutes in total silence.   Finally Joe said, “This must be the Lord because I would never go to someone’s house at 2 in the morning”.  We arrived and knocked on the converted school bus he and his girlfriend lived in.  The lights came on; he came to the door and yelled, “Yeah, what do you want”.  I said, “We’re not sure why we’re here but God spoke to us and told us to come”.  By this time he had opened up the bus door and when I said that he dropped to his knees and began crying, telling us that he and his girl had the worst fight they had ever had and he prayed to God that God might send someone to help them. 

 

This is the power of believers living together in unity.   As it says in the Old Testament: Ps 133:1-3 [Song of degrees of David.] “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;  As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.   Seeking to establish a community of believers who empower one another in this way is not running from life, it is embracing life and running from death: the death of hypocrisy as seen in countless congregations who believe their feigned love is the real thing; the death of a powerless manmade denominational structure; the death of living like the rest of society, separated from friends and loved ones by suburban sprawl and our own unwillingness to do something about it.   This was why Joe and Marie and Cindy and myself decided to create our little community.  Little did we know what God had in store for us, just a few short weeks following our arrival.

 

My Heavenly Sojourn and What I Learned

 

The day started out like any other.  It was warm and sunny and the air was still.  All of us went down to the buckwheat field to see how it was doing.  Joe had planted it before Cindy and I arrived but since he had already told me he believed in growing crops organically I assumed this was organic buckwheat.  The sun was getting low in the sky as I discovered Joe had violated his own principles and used commercial fertilizer.  Our disagreement brought tension to our fledgling community as Joe and I tried to understand each other.  Finally, just as the sun was setting, Joe confessed that he shouldn’t have used the commercial fertilizer since there was plenty of manure available from his neighbor and promised to stick to growing totally organic in the future.   Joe and I embraced, then all of us embraced and there was joy all around.  We took a few minutes to say a prayer of thanksgiving and then loaded into Joe’s old car.  

 

It was twilight now as we headed down the little used dirt road on June 22, of 1974.  It was the day of summer solstice, and in the joy of our newly strengthened friendship, as we headed towards where the sun had just set, we were happy indeed.  

 

Suddenly, without warning of any kind, an intense pure white light entered our car.   It was so bright that everything else began to fade quickly.  There was just enough time for Joe to pull off the dirt road onto the shoulder.   From the moment God’s light entered our car no one could speak.   A great peace and joy accompanied the light, a peace and joy beyond anything I had ever experienced, even greater than the peace and joy I felt the day I gave my life to the Lord Jesus.   There was also this curious melding of our minds.   I felt like my mind was merging with the light; I sensed that this was the same experience the other three were having; and I felt that I could read their thoughts for the few brief moments prior to leaving my body.   I’m sure that all this must have been nearly instantaneous, but in the presence of God’s pure light time lost it’s meaning and seemed to be elongated.  It was like in an instant so much information was jam packed into one’s mind and could be processed so quickly that one’s perception, still being tethered to the old reality of this physical universe, was that a lot of time must have just passed.

 

At some point just after the light entered the car, I lost consciousness of this reality.  It was at that instant I found myself in another world, unlike anything I had ever seen or known before.  I was aware of so many things all at once: I was aware my “body” was now a body of light, and that it retained the form I was familiar with on earth (at least in my mind); I was aware that there was no solid earth beneath my feet and yet I was not falling; I was aware of a wall of angels immediately in front of me; I was aware that one angel was not part of that “wall” and was standing next to me; I was aware that every angel was communicating with every other angel and that I was now able to perceive their thoughts as they were also able to perceive mine; I was aware that I was surrounded by such joy and peace and love that I could never in a million years find the words to describe it; I was aware that compared to the light which surrounded me, in what I now understood to be what we call “heaven”, my being was both light and darkness and was not as pure as the light that surrounded me; and in all this awareness, which passed before me in one single moment, I instinctively perceived that there was an even greater power behind that wall of angels.  For all these reasons I fell prostrate upon my face, praising God with every atom of my being.  

 

I was also aware that my thoughts and past actions were transparent to every angel, to God, and I supposed to the entire universe!   I must confess that initially I felt ashamed to be in the midst of such purity when compared to my own coarse nature.  As I lay there prostrate upon my face I cried out from the depths of my being, “Holy, Holy, Lord God almighty” and various other phrases of praise and adoration.  Nothing was compelling me to do this; I just wanted to give something back for all the great and wondrous knowledge, all the peace and joy I was receiving. 

 

As I was praising God in this prostrate position, another angel on my right reached down and lifted me up.  As had happened from the moment I arrived, there were understandings to questions given freely, almost before I asked them.   The angel spoke to me, although there was no “voice”, just an exchange of thoughts, and the angel told me it was “OK”, that God was preparing me for the work I had to do.   I wanted to know why the angels remained in front of me, like a huge wall that extended upward and to the sides as far as I could see, and the angel said it was for my protection, that they were shielding me from the fullness of God’s light.   I was told that if the fullness of God’s light reached me, I would be unable to return to this earth, to my physical body and I perceived that this was due to the purifying effect of God’s light.  Nothing on this earth, nothing in this physical realm of creation, can fully know or understand this light and the purity that comes with it, including me, and neither could any earthly thing remain in it’s earthly form if it were to be fully infused with God’s light.  For though I was taken to heaven while fully conscious and given this awesome experience, the fullness of crossing over to the other side was denied me. 

 

This understanding of God’s light and it’s effect upon God’s physical creation has led me to realize some important concepts.  First, Jesus was NOT God.  Jesus always referred to himself as the Son of God, and so he was.  It would take far too long to go into all the details and explanations for those few scriptures often given as proof that Jesus was God, but suffice it to say that my heavenly sojourn revealed this truth with absolute certainty and clarity.  It also helped to explain the significance of Jesus’ strange words about his “goodness”.  In Mt 19:17 a man calls Jesus good and Jesus replied: And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 

 

Whenever I read of someone claiming to be enlightened, to have reached a state of enlightenment, I have to laugh.  Such claims come of ignorance, not of enlightenment and they, being blind, are leading the blind.   No flesh can ever understand fully what the spirit understands.  And even in heaven, with all the knowledge and power of supernatural perceptions that were given to me, and even though those perceptions were so far beyond my earthly capabilities, I understood this one thing so very clearly, that even with my spiritual mind having such power to understand instantaneously and comprehend an unbelievable number of thoughts simultaneously, it was but one small fraction of God’s mind.  Even in heaven, with all the heavenly powers at my disposal, I could never hope to be “enlightened” as so many here on earth consider “enlightenment”.   They equate it as oneness with God.  I felt, I experienced that oneness.  But I remained separate from God; I remained “below” God; I understood I could only be “one” with God in the sense of what God chose to reveal to me and I knew it was only in part, never in totality.

 

I also had this impression when I stood in front of that wall of angels.  I understood that behind this living wall of angels, was what John called “the throne of God”.   In Re 22:1 John wrote: “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.    I knew that I was standing before the source of God’s light and that light was everything… it was all of creation as well as the source of an ever-continuing creation; it was purity and love and peace and joy and a power that demanded respect.   There was no escaping the authority, the majesty and power of God’s presence.  And though it was clear that God was inside me, in the sense that God created my spirit and sustained it, that my thoughts were able to connect to God’s thoughts, I could never deny this monumental truth that was revealed that day, that God is also outside me, far outstripping my miniscule abilities as one of his creations.  In other words, God is both immanent (within) and transcendent but I would be extremely in error to say that by the measure of divinity God had imparted to me I could thereby claim to be God. 

 

There was one more thing that happened to me that day.   When the angel touched me on the shoulder and gave me the understanding that God was choosing me for this work of gathering his people I was also told that I was being “sealed”.  My understanding of that word, was that I was being ordained by God through this angel, to fulfill my purpose in this life.

 

Here are a few things worth noting.  There are enemies of the light, both internal and external.  Through the power of our will, we are enabled to have control over both.  But if we deny that such enemies exist, we are led astray and the enemy wins.  As someone else once said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing”.   Here are two ways the enemy often uses to destroy God’s work:

 

1)     Through the brethren who are not patient (wanting to succeed now, by their own timetable) and who lack love, being unwilling to suffer with others for the cause of Christ.

2)     Through disobedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, which teachings are universal truths; or through disobedience to God’s personally revealed will.  The latter situation most often manifests as a second-guessing of what was previously and clearly revealed to be God’s Will.  Eventually this leads to talking one’s self out of believing and doing God’s previously revealed will.   God’s will is revealed both universally (as with commandments that apply to all of us) and individually (as with those specific communications given to us individually).   For instance, Jesus told all his followers that no one can put new wine (Holy Spirit) into old wineskins (traditional church structure, inflexible and rigid) lest both the wine and the wineskins be lost.  And yet to this day people continue to disobey this simple truth, attempting to reform the church from within, that it might become more responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.   After 2000 years of men and women attempting this, one would think that this truth has been proven beyond question.

 

Our fledgling effort to start a Christian community was destroyed through ignorance.  But we were not alone.  There was a North American revival going on at the time.  But what had begun as a unifying effort by hundreds of thousands of Christians, what began with great Holy Spirit power, ended up as a prophetic fulfillment of Paul’s warning to Timothy: 1Ti 4:1-2Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;  Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.”  

 

One local retired farmer converted his barn into the “Born Again Barn” and hundreds of us from many different denominations would gather, sitting upon hay bales, waiting to experience the unity and peace and joy God poured upon us regularly.  There was another non-denominational group that started up about the same time, Spring Water Habitation, a conference center for Christians and a place where many who were disenchanted with the traditional denominations came to find hope. 

 

But what could have been another reformation, where many, many believers broke away from the traditional church and started something entirely new, ended up being just another short-lived revival, with everyone eventually being reabsorbed into the traditional church structure.  That is because the fundamentalists, those hypocrites who really did believe they were pure and holy and sinless, were fulfilling Paul’s words to Timothy: “the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”.   I remember how outsiders came into the midst of our revival and brought great fear.  They taught that being born again would not save a Christian from demon possession and therefore many who had been saved would now have to be delivered… again… and then over and over again as it turned out.   The works of the flesh described in Galatians chapter 5 were suddenly the works of the devil and rather than individual responsibility for overcoming one’s fleshly lusts, it required these special deliverance meetings.   Men or women who specialized in the deliverance ministry were now traveling around the country, doing the work of deliverance from fleshly lusts that was previously the responsibility of each individual believer; as it says in Jas 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  I watched in horror as grown men and women writhed like snakes upon the ground, shrieking as a sign that the demons were leaving them.  Worse, many children were traumatized to the point of child abuse.  Normal “contrary” behavior that all children exhibit as they grow towards becoming an individual in their own right, was now deemed demon possession.   Groups of grown men and women would gather round these “demon possessed” children to “deliver” them.  Simple disobedience, which could easily be corrected, was now a sign of demon possession. The children did indeed need deliverance… deliverance from such fools! 

 

Yes, there was a revival sweeping much of North America at the time, but it was our ignorance concerning the leaven of the Pharisees (the religious who seek to hold onto power, who “have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof”) that led to our demise.   Had I been more patient and known what I know now, I would have fought harder, confronting the church leaders whose leaven crept into the hearts of Joe and Marie.  The pastor of the church they were attending offered Joe an associate pastor position.  It meant much needed money for him and his family when that Baptist church offered to send him to school.  They offered me a position within their church also, realizing that many young hippies were responsive to my witness.  But through prayer I realized I would be like Essau, selling my birthright for a bowl of porridge.

 

What is important to understand was how they tried to cut off God’s work and succeeded.  They were not for our community effort because it meant another competing ministry.  They cared nothing about our saying it was God’s will to start our community.  So instead of just telling us they didn’t believe it could be God’s will to do something outside their church, they encouraged us to continue to reach out to the lost in our area… all we had to do was become a member of their church and they would provide us with money and titles to minister… in the name of their church of course.  But they lacked any vision for the new work that God was doing in our midst.   I saw through what they were trying to do and perceived it would undermine what God had called Joe and I to accomplish.   Joe, however, did not see this, believing he would not compromise his principles or be led from the purpose of community simply by accepting their helping hand.  Looking back I can see how Joe was deceived by the promise of immediate prestige and power.   But when I look at my lack of patient perseverance (I just got angry and Joe and Marie and left the area after only a few months) I can see I too was deceived.   I learned later that his wife, Marie, was a big part of his decision to go it alone and drop the community.  Soon after they left and rented another house just down the road, Cindy and I were no longer so welcome.  It was obvious to me that in spite of Joe’s continued interest, the community was dead.  When I pressed for explanations I discovered one of their excuses was that I reminded Marie of her old boyfriend.  

 

However, years later God gave us all another chance.  I had moved 1000 miles away, when I returned to the states years previous, but one day discovered that Joe had taken a position with the 700 Club Ministry and was now only a few hours away.  That was truly a miracle in itself.   I called Joe and we met.  I was ecstatic, believing this was God’s doing and Joe was still talking about God calling us to community too.  But though I sent a number of letters in follow up, all aimed at getting him to agree to some goals so we could begin working towards the establishment of that community, my letters were never answered.  The total end of any contact came a year or two later.  I was traveling through where he and Marie and her son lived, returning from a trip to Virginia Beach.  I was dead tired and falling asleep at the wheel.  I had my wife and three kids with me and couldn’t afford to stop at a motel.  So I called and asked to sleep on the floor, just for the night.  Joe stumbled over his words as me made flimsy excuses but the message was clear.  He didn’t want to be bothered.  The scripture says that if someone is in need and all you do is tell them you’ll pray for them, failing to help them out, you have not the love of God.   Such is the power of hypocrisy, the leaven of the Pharisees, those who are religious but not spiritual, who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof, who believe their corrupt, carnal church structure is the will of God. 

 

If you are at all interested in helping us establish our first 3Circles Community, please contact me via email and introduce yourself (or selves).   My address is 3CirclesCommunity@3circles.net and my name is Leroy.   I then send you the web address for a special site I’ve put together.