Friday, September 03, 2010


An old friend, Jamall Badry, died last week. Three old friends, Bill Willard, Billy Hardy, and Pat Walker, all board members of VTM which is my ministry organization, died last year. I turned seventy a few weeks back. All this has got me to thinking again about the end of this life and the beginning of the new one in eternity. Do you suppose whatever eternity is like, as a place, it may not be "out there" or even "up there" but, perhaps "right here?"

Do you recall when Stephen was stoned he saw the Lord standing at the Father's throne but there's no mention of a telescope? How about when the Prophet's servant was concerned about the enemy attacking and the Prophet asked the Lord to let him see..and he did. He saw angels, hosts of them, surrounding the place. No telescope there either. When the Archangel was sent to announce the birth of Jesus to Mary are we to think of him coming past the milky way making his way to earth to that handmaiden?

Add to all that the fact of the Mt. of Transfiguration where Moses and Elijah were present with the Lord. Are we to think of them coming from a great distance to get there? Is it possible there is a better understanding than that? Does this "better understanding," if there is one, say something to us about our Christian loved ones who have preceded us in death?

As I said, all this has got me to thinking again about something I've mentioned before but want to look at again. Maybe I'm just looking for a comforting word about my family and friends who are dying. There seems to be quite a few deaths and I'm quite sure, all things being equal, there will be more to come, ultimately even my own, if Jesus tarries.

Could it be that wherever heaven is or the Lord is or our loved ones are, it is not a matter, really, of distance from us, but of a different dimension only. What do I mean by this? I'm glad you asked.

Let's just say, what if the physical world we know, made up of multiple dimensions which used to be thought of as only three, but then a fourth, time, was added, but now thought to be as many as from eleven to nineteen depending on the scientist one listened to, were actually separated from the spiritual or eternal dimension, which we can not now know, by simply a matter of dimension and not the distance at all? [Long it again carefully observing the commas.] In other words, what if there is the natural realm [Multi-dimensional] and the supernatural realm [Multi-dimensional since Paul was caught up into the third heavens of the supernatural realm remember.] and both are as real as the bible says.

Now suppose we're programed to relate to the natural but also built for the supernatural. It's the scriptures that tell the story of our losing out on the spiritual and being confined to the natural. But further suppose that God operates in both being, as He is, the Person of the one [Spirit..Himself being such.] and the Creator of the other. [The natural.] So He steps from the one into the other manifesting His eteral presence in both. We call it a miracle since wherever God is manifested, is a miraculous moment. Thus all of life is miraculous.[A God-thing.]

Natural man [Lost people] cannot see nor know the spiritual. [1 Corinthians 2-3] But a Christian has been introduced to the spiritual by being born again spiritually, though still living in the natural also. Death, it seems to me, would then move that Christian completely into the spiritual from the natural.

But what if that spiritual is NOT "out there or up there" but right here without our being able to relate to it..YET.!! What does this do to life? Among a lot of other interesting things, it makes ALL of life a sacred thing, as stated above, and both natural and spiritual are lived in to a degree by the Christian. The "spiritual" presently limited to some degree but one day won't be. "Then we shall know even as we're known."

This is why I don't ever say "Oh that's just a natural thing and not a God thing [spiritual] so I'm not interested in it." That makes the natural less than spiritual and second rate as life contrary to scripture. [1 Corinthians 3 "All things are yours."] I'm very much interested in the natural world and enjoy all aspects of it totally. [That's why I'm something of an environmentalist you see.]

I even enjoy a motorcycle ride and celebrate it as a God thing in His creation and my life. I enjoy football, concerts, our swimming pool as a God thing. I enjoy my wife, in every relational sense, the same way. It's ALL sacred to me. This makes that verse "Whatsoever you do do all to the glory of God." that word "glory" [doxa] means "God seen/experienced as present." All of the natural world is sacred to me.

BUT neither do I ever say "Oh that's a spiritual thing and I don't really care about it or believe in it since it's not real or natural." For me to talk that way would be to miss out of half of realty, whichever half I'm not willing to admit as real, whether I understand it all or not. For me.. God is real in both the natural AND spiritual and Jesus is Lord of all. So as the chorus I love says it...

If I live well.. praise the Lord.
If I die well.. praise the Lord.
If I live or only cry..
Is.. Jesus in me.. well praise the Lord.

So, I'm not so sure I'm not "praising the Lord" with my friends who've died, right now, albeit simply separated from them by a little thing called dimension only and maybe not by distance at all. What if........?

Paul B.


Clif Cummings said...

These are some mighty deep thoughts for a Friday,much less a holiday weekend. But in the midst of them - I'm praising the LORD!.
By HIS Grace Alone,

Paul Burleson said...


You may be right. So...I'll just get my head above water and go celebrate a Sooner win tomorrow night. Now THAT'S the way to use this week-end. ;)

Duane said...

Great thought (as always). Couldn't help but think of this in light of Hebrews 12:1-3.

Bob Cleveland said...

Well. Didn't I hear about a new city coming DOWN? As in DOWN HERE?

I've often thought that the biggest change from our earthly existence to our heavenly existence will have to be US, not the location. I've been some terrific places and done some terrific things and had some terrific possessions, but I got tired of ALL of them. And if I had an infinite amount of time, I guess I'd get tired of everything there would ever be.

But .. a glimmer of hope. Every time I teach or minister, or fellowship or share, the spiritual "buzz" .. is better than ever.

Then there's also the fact that the dead rich man, burning in hell, could see Lazarus in Abraham's bosom.

I think you're onto something here. Why are we so reluctant to find out?

WORD VERIFICATION: "revared" .. could that be a combination of "revealed" and "shared"?

I'd bet on it.

Christiane said...

I love your post, Paul.

Came to mind, this:

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour."
-- William Blake

We take so much 'for granted' that we think we 'understand',
and we dismiss the glory of God that all around us;
while instead we search for it in places of our own making,
and in ways of our own choosing.

I love that Shaker hymn:

Maybe the Scriptures tell us our problem: it's the children who can see what we cannot . . .
they still have 'the gift' to be simple and 'the gift' to be free.

We need to remember that, I think. :)

Becky Dietz said...

"...while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice." Daniel 9:21 (Amp)

If Gabriel was just in another dimension, it would certainly be a swift flight!!

"We are surrounded by such a great a cloud of witnesses..." Heb.12:1 I've always pictured them in a football-type stadium (with no field) above us looking through what would be the field. This certainly changes that perspective, if true!!

Aussie John said...


What a breath of fresh air you are, my friend!

I like your thinking, and agree with the possibilities you propose.

" makes ALL of life a sacred thing, ......... both natural and spiritual are lived in to a degree by the Christian."

That's why I've said to congregations for years that we need to rid ourselves of the idea that attending church on Sunday is worship.

The whole of life is to be lived as worship, every minute of every day! That includes the way we treat our world around us.

Am I looking forward to meeting you in that state of living life!

I like what Bob wrote, "I've often thought that the biggest change from our earthly existence to our heavenly existence will have to be US, not the location."

Just imagine!

Becky Dietz said...

Just wondering....
Does everyone else read Aussie John's comments with an Australian accent? I can't help myself!!!

Paul Burleson said...


You and Becky are thinking alike about Hebrews 12:1-3. Good thinking perhaps.


As always, your thoughts are greatly appreciated. Even your word varification inspires. ;)


You said..."Maybe the Scriptures tell us our problem: it's the children who can see what we cannot . . . they still have 'the gift' to be simple and 'the gift' to be free." and I like what you said.

Aussie J,

This.."Am I looking forward to meeting you in that state of living life!".. is a GREAT way to speak of eternity future IMHO. Thanks.


I know EXACTLY what you mean about hearing the accent. :)

Aussie John said...


Maybe for you and Becky I ought to write 'Strine (Aussie for Australian).

Paul and Becky, don’t get your knickers in a knot about my accent, it's certainly better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick.

I mean, fair crack of the whip. This talk about an Aussie accent is a load of codswollup.

Trouble is that we Aussies are like our American cousins, if his brain was made of electricity, he’s be a walking blackout!

I guess, when it's all boiled down, we're all the samer, all shine, no shoes.


That, by the way is
a distinctively Australian way of saying “goodbye”.

"The "truly wondrous fantasmagorically splendiferously magickal word hooroo" (from the Urban Dictionary)

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

THAT my friend, is an Internet education. ;)

Becky Dietz said...

Ok. That settles it. I MUST visit Australia!!

Rex Ray said...

Sorry I can’t get into the spirit of this ‘other dimension thing’. If I get this right, you’re saying heaven might be on earth but in another dimension.

I think I’ll stick to Jesus saying he would go and he would come again. That’s good enough for me.

To speculate further I believe may be rejecting Paul’s advice to avoid foolish discussions (2 Timothy 2:16, 23)

Paul Burleson said...


You could be right.

traveller said...


Sorry to have never returned to your post of more than a month ago. We have been in transition since the end of July. We are spending a few years in Africa....last opportunity for an adventure probably.

It is interesting to me that you post on this topic since it seems the Holy Spirit is speaking to a number of people in the same way. Many people have identified the idea that the "spiritual" and "physical" dichotomy or dualism is not a Biblical or God idea but the imposition of Greek and Gnostic thinking in the period following the first century. It is interesting the at the end of Revelation it appears that heaven and earth are combined into the redeemed creation that God intended from the beginning. This combination is effectuated by heaven and God coming to earth and completing the redemption/restoration of his creation....all of it.

If this is true then as followers of Jesus it is important for us to not think of creation as something to exploit but something to protect in anticipation of the wonderful final transformation.

N. T. Wright, who I believe is one of the deepest thinkers and exetes alive today, addresses this in his Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church. He explains further in his sequel After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. He makes a powerful case for the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus and how central it is to Christianity but goes further to argue what it means for how we live today and the future.

In a way very similar to you he describes how there is only a thin veil between heaven and earth and that one day this veil will no longer exist. If you wish to pursue this thinking further I highly recommend these books to you.

By the way, thank you for sharing the passing of Jamall Badry. He was a friend of my parents and often came to our church in Tulsa when I was a child in the 50's. He was a wonderful man with a beautiful voice.

Paul Burleson said...


Several things.

I'm interested in this Africa adventure. If possible and there is a desire to do so, tell us more.

I'm aware of N.T. Wright but haven't read the books you mention. I'll correct that failure soon.

I'd noticed the Revelation reference before and confess to it's intrigue to me personally.

One final thing. A couple have mentioned the Hebrews 12:1-2 passage and the phrase "a cloud of witnesses." I think if investigated the reference would be seen to refer to the people mentioned in Hebrews 11.

The word "witness" comes from the root word "Martyr" in Greek and is probably refering to those people as ones who died without seeing what they were believing God for but stayed faithful regardless.

It's probably not a reference to people in the other dimension [Wherever THAT is] watching us. Just my thoughts and open to further light on it all.

Ken Colson said...

Paul, Thanks for your comments. Rhonda and I had a lively discussion over this topic.
Also, just listened to your sermon on "Relections on our problem with Sin" Aug 8 at Emmanuel BC. Thanks for your clear teaching. It brought back so many good thoughts and memories from our time in FT Worth and at Southcliff BC. (Confidentially, we still measure teaching and preachers by the standard that you set in our lives)
We look forward to seeing you and Mary, again, someday.
Ken Colson

Paul Burleson said...


There has got to be a reason for me to come to Montana. A steak that you've cooked that needs to be eaten might be reason enough it seems to me. ;)

My love to Rhonda.

Christiane said...

In this life, now,
the longing of the human heart for God is beyond our ability to deny,
or to control . . . and there are moments when it comes forth so powerfully expressed,
that we know our longing has no other end but to be with Him for all eternity