Phantoms of Heaven

This Halloween, ghouls, goblins and ghosts roamed our streets… each one with a huge sweet tooth. Today, parents might find little pirates and princesses from “Frozen”, Batmen and Barbies, super heroes and sponges named Bob who wake up with stomachaches.

I’m not one who believes, sincerely, in former inhabitants of houses hanging out to haunt the joint or long lost relatives seeking for revenge in the afterlife. But I definitely believe in the spirit world. If you believe the words of Christ at all, you need to know there is a demonic world and its leader is Satan. The Bible specifically states that he is like a roaring lion, roaming about, seeking whom he may devour. With him, we are to be sober and vigilant. Jesus called him our adversary. But the Scriptures also teach us that he is a defeated foe and that we have victory over him through the power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Saint James declared that if we are submitted to God, we can resist the devil and he will flee from us. (James 4:7)

So, I submit to you on this Halloween weekend that he is not our real problem. Let me elaborate with this story. An old preacher named Billy Cole from my past was sitting on the stage in a church one night when he saw something that shocked the whole place. A woman came slithering down the aisle like a snake, on her belly. The pastor of the church leaned over to the visiting minister and declared, “She’s demon possessed!” The old preacher replied quickly, “Good!” The pastor, visibly surprised, said, “Good? How can that be good?” Billy finally said, “If she’s full of the devil, we can take care of that in a couple of minutes! But if she’s full of herself, it could take you 20 years to get her straightened out!”

What truth was spoken! God has given us victory over the power of darkness through Christ’s death and resurrection, and the mention of His Name. But so often, we are our own worst enemy. You cannot cast out self. You must lead self to the cross.

A number of years ago, I saw a title on the front of a book that read, “Phantoms of Heaven.” PhantomThe moment I saw it, it was as if I received a download from God. This concept came flooding into my mind and heart. In my imagination, I saw people walking around in Heaven as apparitions, ghosts of sorts. I could see the outline of their form but no substance. I could see right through them.

The message that hit me, the thing I felt like the Holy Spirit began to speak to me as a pastor, was that so many people say yes to Christ simply to avoid the lake of fire. But they will not let God change their lives or their paradigms. “Be my God for eternity, but don’t mess with my Monday. I have plans. I have a philosophy about life. I’m not open to You rocking my boat, God.” As a result, we have folks who may be called Christians, but they have no joy, no peace, and no overcoming strength when facing life’s difficulties. They have a “form of godliness but deny its power.” And because they won’t let God take the reins of their life, they never fulfill the destiny God planned for them before they were ever born. They don’t ever come into the full measure of who God foreordained them to be – who they already are in His mind.  Now, that’s a thought of horror to me – to know that God has already done the work for me but I won’t let Him make me who I already am in His creative mind.  A simple surrender to His will after believing in Christ as Savior changes everything. Heaven’s incredible plan can begin to unfold for that person’s life. And by the time your time is up, you can appear in Heaven at full substance, so to speak.

I know there are things that go bump in the night. Let’s make sure we’re not one of them. I want to be all He predestined me to be. Bring it on, God!

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