Exciting news! Jon’s latest book:
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Exciting news! Jon’s latest book:
Check it out!
Therefore, remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.
I spent a lot of time talking about the importance of prayer, contemplation and of spending time in the heavenly realms. My daily routine is to start each day doing those things. What I have yet to address is the effect it has on the rest of the day. Once you start living a life that starts each day in the presence of the Lord, you will find that you never really leave His presence. You become increasingly aware of the Lord and of the spiritual realm as you go about your daily tasks. One of the spiritual gifts listed in 2 Corinthians 12:10 is “discerning of spirits”. As you routinely spend time in heaven you will increasing discern the spiritual around you during the day; in places and in people. In fact, this should be the continual, normal way in which a Christian lives his life. God wants us to walk through each day ministering to others. This is how He wants us to proceed. We are to follow Jesus’ example. This is how He lived His physical life here on earth.
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”
Jesus walked each day on earth being shown by Father God (by the Holy Spirit) the spiritual realm around Him. You may think that Jesus did the miraculous because He was/is the Son of God, when in fact He did His earthly miracles by seeing what Father God was doing in the spiritual realm around Him and then coming into agreement with the miraculous by the laying on of His hands on the same work. There is power of agreement (Leviticus 26:8). This is the foundational Christian principle of ‘laying on of hands’ listed in Hebrews 6:1.
As you walk through your day, right now you walk in / are present in two realms; the physical and the spiritual. That is true for all human beings. The difference for those who have “the eyes of their understanding enlightened” and who have come to “know the hope of His calling” (Ephesians 1:18) is awareness. God wants you to be increasingly aware of the spiritual reality around you. This for your sake and for the sake for those around you. Such awareness is “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” And it was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ.
As Sons and Daughters of God, there is an open heaven above us. As children of the Highest, heaven is not closed to us. It is open. We have access through a heavenly portal made possible by the blood of Jesus Christ. The word ‘portal’ is in vogue these days. Portal simply means door or doorway. Some Biblical examples of this are found with Jacob:
Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So, he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
With the first martyr, Stephen:
But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
And of course, with Jesus Himself:
Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Jesus in John 10:9 declares: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” He goes on to say “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” This is the reason I am so adamant about the importance of spending time in heaven. Not only is it our spiritual inheritance passed down through Jacob (Israel). According to Jesus, it is the key to the abundant Christian life. A life He is came, died and rose again to provide for us.
The Old Testament talks a lot about sacrificial offerings. What can get lost in the teaching is the belief that the offering created a portal, a connection between God and man. Not only did the sacrifice make an atonement for sin, it caused a re-connection to God. It re-stablished a connection that was broken because of sin. As Christians, Jesus Christ is our eternal sacrifice. He is our atonement. He not only is God. He is our connection with the Godhead and with heaven. That is why Jesus could boldly say: “hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
I started this Monday morning like most, my mind reliving the weekend events while at the same time reviving up for the coming week. People, places and things all racing through my mind. That’s when I went before the Lord for my daily meditation. Lord help me! Lord help my mind to stop. And so, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Job 1:6: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord.” God’s answer to me was that I was to present myself before the Lord.
Presenting yourself before the Lord, is submitting yourself to Him. You lay down your agenda so that you can receive His. I desire only to be in His presence. Just being in His presence is enough. Just being in His presence is everything. What transpires by presenting yourself before the Lord is that you receive of His presence. His love. His kindness. His goodness. His love. I am Your servant Lord Jesus. Yes, I desire to do what you would have me to do. But more importantly, I have a desperate need to be who you would have me to be.
The Lord wants to birth again in me the desire to serve others. But, more importantly the Lord wants to transform me into His servant. Who you are is more important that what you do.
To be honest, my mystic path to routinely spending time in heaven did not start with some glorious revelation. It started because of a battle. The Holy Spirit started convicting me (John 16:8) that here was a battle going on in my mind and I was losing. I was (and am) a Christian. I had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the accompanying gift of speaking in tongues. I had been a student of the Bible for years. And yet, I was losing the only real battle that mattered. The battle between good and evil. The battle for my thought life. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t having illegal or immoral thoughts. I’m talking about the constant flood of ideas and images that daily bombard.
Bible study did provide come respite. Prayer did allow for some relief. But, the best these practices accomplished was a stand-off. The Holy Spirit convicted me that it was time to take the offensive in the battle for my thought life. Simply not having vain thoughts is not victory. A cessation of activity is not living the life of an overcoming Christian. Replacing vanity with righteousness is not a passive pursuit. It takes aggressive action. God has given me a mind. It was performing its God designed function by continually thinking. Shutting that down was not the answer. I just needed to use it for its God given purpose; to think, to imagine, to muse upon God and the things of the spiritual realm.
A strange thing happened when I started setting aside time daily to imagine and think upon God and the spirit realm. The Holy Spirit began showing me things, biblically based things, that I had never seen nor thought of before. After years and years of being a student of the Bible, the Holy Spirit truly became my teacher. Not that the Holy Spirit was not my guide and illumination while studying the Bible before. He was. But now what I was learning went beyond simply what was written on the page. There is a difference between reading about something and the experience you have by actually being there. You get an entirely new perspective. You experience emotionally the effect of the event on a very personal level. You experience the Reality and Truth which is the Bible.
But was experiencing the Reality of the spirit realm a Biblical thing to do? I did not want to ‘go off into error’! Was I being deceived? This is when my book “Benches in Heaven” occurred. Like all my books, it not a very long book. (I don’t believe in long books.) But, it is different in that, while most of my books involve weeks or months of prayer, study, research, writing and editing, “Benches in Heaven” was the result of a single God download through me to the page. It basically happened in one sitting. Sure, it went through some editing and revision, but it was essentially written in one session.
Through writing of the “… in Heaven” book series that followed, God created the conviction in me of the necessity, the Bible imperative of regularly spending time in heaven, in the spiritual realm. Heaven is our true home. Heaven is real. As Christians, it is our eternal true home. This physical life here on earth is a precious gift. But, from an eternal perspective, it is of short duration and it is not our intended, normal existence. And more importantly, to have a successful life in the here and now, to fully enjoy the gift of this life, to live an overcoming life, to live the life God meant for us to live we must view this life from the viewpoint of heaven. We must view this life from the perspective of the eternal, from being ‘grounded’ by daily experiencing out true home in heaven. Sorry for the run-on sentence, but was you can see, on the topic of the importance of spending time in heaven, I tend to get a little passionate!
As a modern Christian mystic, you need to spend time in ‘The Cloud of Unknowing’. You need to practice the presence of the Prince of Peace in your life. The modern twist on the ancient practice is not viewing the ‘The Cloud’ as a place of striving, but of resting. The ancient Christian mystics view The Cloud was that of a void that could only be pierced by the dart of love from the quiver of the mystic. The modern view needs to be that of a vast expense, an ocean of the presence of the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The ‘The Cloud of Unknowing’ is a place where only the Prince of Peace, and those who have been declared cleansed by the power of His blood can dwell. And so, it is a place where only the attributes of the Prince of Peace may dwell. No striving. No envy. No anger. No lust. No desire. No fear may be there. What the ancient Christian mystics got correct is that only love, peace, patience, joy, the fruits of the Holy Spirit may pierce The Cloud. Experiencing ‘The Cloud’ is experiencing the Prince of Peace.
Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. In faith, realize that He is there. He is always there. Waiting for you. Don’t think. Don’t strive to experience Him. No thoughts. Only emotion. Only love. Only peace. Don’t rush in and rush out (like I am doing, for your sake writing this). Plan on spending extended quality time being there. Let the Lord release you when He is ready.
People point out that I spend a lot of time imagining heaven, imagining my ‘benches in heaven’. When, the question should really be, what do I do once I take a seat next to Jesus in heavenly places. There are times when I go to Him for comfort and advice. There are times when Jesus has changes for me to make. But, most day, the purpose of sitting on the bench is simply to sit silently in His presence, and so be changed.
When I close my eyes, I don’t see darkness. I see the light. I see the presence of God. God has told me that I need to spend time daily basking in the light of God, basking in His presence.
As a Christian, right now, you are basking in the light and presence of the King of Kings. In faith, realize the reality of that true, right here, right now. Before the King, what do you do? Do you let your mind run amok? No! By God’s grace, you cease all striving. You soak in and enjoy the life-giving radiance of being in the presence of The King. This is our daily invitation. More than that, as Sons and Daughters of God we are expected to daily ‘present ourselves’ before the throne of God. Is this for judgment or condemnation? No! It is to receive life giving power and healing for our lives.
The author of ‘The Cloud’ defined the darkness that was the Cloud of Unknowing as the absence of all thought. The Cloud (and eventually God) was only experienced by emotion, void of any thought. I would argue that God is experienced within both. And so, the message of the modern Christian mystic is not to invalidate the one but to encourage the renewed practice of both.
Just the title sounds mystic, doesn’t it? It’s actually something everyone does. When I’m at home, I’m a father and a husband. Hopefully, I’m good at being both. At work, I’m an engineer by trade.
Today, I’ve put aside for a moment those other things and I’m an author. Like being those other things, at times it involves sacrifice and God’s grace. It’s something I do because I know God has called me. The point being, to be any good at one, at least for periods of time, you must stop being the others.
This morning, I started my day as an author. If you’ve read any of my books, you will know that that means I started my day on one of my ‘benches in heaven’, in one of the heavenly places that belong to me. It is on such benches that I spend quality time with Jesus.
The Lord has shown me that, when I am writing (as I am right now), that in heaven, I’m at my writer’s cabin that He has prepared for me. It is situated on a hill top. Inside is simply a bed, a table and a writer’s desk. It has a covered front porch with a porch swing where I can sit and look out over a beautiful valley. The Golden Retrievers that I have owned and that have died, like playing in the yard next to the cabin and like coming up and laying down on the porch next to me. At the cabin, I’ve laid aside being a father, husband or engineer to only be a writer. In other words, in being there, there is a special grace from God to be an author. And yet, at the cabin, except for the dogs, that keep me company (and they don’t talk) , I am alone.
Also, at the cabin, the act of being a writer is in full gear. Ideas, thoughts, outlines, Bible verses and grammar swirl in my mind and spirit. Though I have taken the first step from multiplicity to singularity, I need to complete the journey. To do so, I walk from my front porch, down the path lined with roses, to my first bench in heaven that is situated on the brow of the hill. As I walk, I leave writing behind. As I walk, I breathe in deeply the intoxicating smell of the roses. As I walk, I can see in the distance, the Lord Jesus Christ sitting on the bench waiting for me.
At the bench, there is only one thing, the Lord Jesus Christ. At the bench, I’ve gone completely from multiplicity to singularity. If I start thinking about my writing (like I’m doing right now), I’ve traveled back up the path to my writer’s cabin and away from my bench where Jesus is sitting. Is Jesus at the cabin? Yes. He is everywhere. Is being at the cabin a sacrifice? Yes. But, at the cabin, I am doing what God has called me to do. In that way, being at the cabin is just as holy as being at the bench.
Some days, I want to simply stay at the bench, allowing Jesus to minister and to heal. And some days, The Lord allows that to happen. Most days, spending time at the bench inspires and empowers me to return to the cabin, or home, or work place to do the things He has called me to do.
I spent this morning’s time of contemplation basking in the divine light of God. My initial salvation event was such an experience. The mystics talk a lot about darkness. Yes. There is a darkness you must enter as you approach God. In this darkness, you must mortify self. And yet, the goal is not the darkness. The goal is the light of God.
If you are a Christian, by definition, you have had an encounter with the light of God. The lie is that such things are rare one-time occurrences. The book of Deuteronomy records God giving to Moses and the children of Israel the second set of tablets containing the ten commandments. God revealed not only laws to live by, but the spiritual principles behind the laws.
“For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do—to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him— then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves.
Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours.”
The spiritual principle is simple. Once your feet have thread a spiritual path, that path belongs to you. Once God has given you a spiritual experience, it is yours. You can always return to it, re-experience it. Re-savor it. Re-enter the light and the presence of God.
And what did God instruct as to the prerequisite of such re-entering? “—to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him— “. God’s one prerequisite is love. Yes, obedience, but obedience motivated by His one great commandment:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
God even gave to Moses the practical instructions on how to continually walk in divine light.
“Therefore, you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”
Of course, the children of Israel took this literally. They started wearing a decorative ornament on the foreheads. When the spiritual point of the instruction was that we are to keep God’s words, His loving nature ‘as frontlets between your eyes’. In other words, God’s practical instructions was for us to keep His love in our mind’s eye. In our thoughts. In our imagination.
From the book ‘Jewels in Heaven’ …
The top left stone in your breastplate is a light green peridot. It is called ‘bareqeth’ in Hebrew. It is associated with the tribe of Zebulon. Zebulon means ‘dwelling’.
Zebulon has the dual meaning “dwelling place” and “exalted, honored”. In Genesis 30:20, in a word play on the name Zebulon, when Leah gives birth to her sixth son, she says, “Now my husband will be honored to dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons”.
God wants you to always remember, you will be exalted as His son or daughter for all of eternity. You will dwell with Him. You will eat at His table. You will walk the halls of His glorious palace.
The land allotted to Zebulon in Israel was a small portion of southern Galilee. Jacob declared “Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea; He shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall adjoin Sidon.” It was in this area of Galilee that Jesus began His ministry.
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death. Light has dawned.
To become true sons and daughters of God, our hearts must become like those of the tribe of Zebulon. The people of Zebulon were known for their undivided loyalty to King David (1 Chronicles 12:33) and for answering Hezekiah’s call for spiritual renewal (2 Chronicles 30:10). Besides Zebulon, only Asher and Manasseh also had the humility to answer Hezekiah’s call.
Their reward was living by the sea. They lived with a simple steady diet of bread and fish. These are both Christian symbols of the life and ministry of the Lord and the church. A hallmark of those becoming children of Zebulon is a constant desire to live a simple, single-purpose life, serving the Lord and others.
By living by the sea, the children of Zebulon “become a haven for ships”. When you live a single-purpose life, when the Lord becomes the sole source of your life, you will become a haven for those around you who have been tossed about by the churning sea of the world.
From the book “Gardens in Heaven” …
As contemplative prayer becomes a routine, you will exude peace. The fragrance of Christ that you will diffuse will be offensive to those around you who are perishing. But, it will be sweet to those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. You will be the scent of heaven everywhere you go. Who is sufficient for these things? It is not in our self-effort. It is spending time with Jesus that makes us sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
As you picture yourself in your heavenly garden, picture Jesus being with you. Picture yourself handing your burdens to Him. He wants to take them! Thank Him for all that He has done. Speak forth the things for which you are thankful. In this way, you will develop a thankful heart. Then learn to be quiet to allow the Lord to speak into your current situation. Seek and consider His heavenly perspective on the events and circumstances that are occupying your mind.
The beloved bridegroom continues …
Song of Solomon 5:1:
I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk. Eat, O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!
In the Bible a garden is symbolic of a person’s soul.
When the Lord enters the garden of a person’s soul, when He enters the garden of a person’s thoughts, it is definitely cause for celebration! The bridegroom comes to his garden with the heavy aroma of spices. He is intoxicated with his love for his bride.