Friday, December 10, 2010

Looking Into Heaven

(Here's something I wrote about a year ago. I simply thought it was a good idea to re-post it today.)

"We’re on approach. Flight attendants prepare for landing."

As the aircraft pitched slightly from left to right and back again, I was relieved to hear the captain’s voice over the loudspeakers. There were a few more horizontal adjustments, a wah-whump, whump, and we were rolling safely on the runway in Vancouver, British Columbia. At last.

I was there to assist men in their journey with God in the hope that, in addition to growing more confident in Christ, they would discover what it’s like to live by the Spirit. By Sunday afternoon, they had.

A particular passage became beautifully clear:

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,. . .(Romans 8:5,6 NAS)

To demonstrate this passage, I asked a young man (Zach) to join me up front, and then asked the men at the retreat to tell me about Zach—as though I had never met him. “He’s fun!” “He’s smart!” “He’s a good friend!” “His wife needs prayer!” And on it went. Then I asked, “Now that I know what Zach is like, tell Zach who God says He is. Tell it directly to Zach. And don’t rush this; there’s no hurry.”


And then this: “Zach, you’re a holy man.” “Zach, you’re righteous.” “You’re perfect.” “You’re blameless.” “You’re forgiven.” “You’ve got God living in you.” “All of heaven recognizes you as a son of God.”

And that included us. We saw Zach.

No one moved. It was amazing. No, it was more than that. It was sacred. When I asked what the men were feeling, somewhat breathlessly they said, “I feel like I’m looking into heaven.” “I feel hope.” “I feel life.” “I feel great.” “I feel peace.” “I feel like I’m really seeing Zach.” “When we changed our minds from looking at the visible to looking at the invisible, everything changed from shallow and fleshly to deep and true.”

They felt God.

Romans 8:5-6 came alive in that moment as we turned our minds away from what was visible to what was invisible. We thought of Zach and addressed him according to what the Bible says God has made of him, and Zach was illuminated to us and to himself. And we felt it. We felt “life and peace,” the kind of life and peace produced by the Holy Spirit whenever we turn our minds toward Him.

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Gal 6:8)

It was tremendous and Zach was a little overwhelmed. He felt the conflict between the flesh and Spirit, but he, too, chose to sow to the Spirit, reaping what God has promised. “I feel holy. I feel clean.” Indeed, he was—indeed, he is.

Approaching or addressing someone as they have become in Christ causes us to change our minds. We go away from the mind of the flesh and begin thinking according to the mind of the Spirit. You can feel the change! This isn’t a game you play or a way of pretending your way through life. A worldly curtain is drawn back to reveal the true image behind—and that’s more than a bit dazzling! I don’t recommend that you immediately begin addressing all the Christians you know as Holy Hannah, Righteous Rudy, or Forgiven Frank, because that makes a methodical mess out of the holy and sacred. You might silently think of them as the holy, blameless and forgiven sons or daughters they have become, and then see what the Spirit gives you or where He leads you. You won’t have to be creative when God is at work. He’s pretty creative already.

An added benefit of setting our mind upon the Spirit in addressing a brother (as we did with Zach) is that we experienced a sort of mini revival. In looking at Zach, we found ourselves too. (Surprise! The Super Heroes of God.) We reaped life, the Spirit invigorated us, and we were deeply encouraged by God. The men knew that they could do this at home with their families, at work, at church, by phone or email, even while driving on the freeway. With all that goes on around us, we’re always on approach. Take advantage.

Setting our minds upon the Spirit is our new normal way of living in this world. We’re not of it—we’re a heavenly colony on earth. But since we’re in it, we do well to see it as He sees it, and to approach it from there. We’ll be looking into heaven.

We’re better off than we think.


  1. Julie Casteel8:37 AM


  2. Mari Li8:38 AM

    Powerful message! Thanks for sharing this. Continue to be the the salt of the earth (Matt 5:13) for you are the light of the world !Shalom brother:)

  3. Donna Crowley8:47 AM

    ‎'We go away from the mind of the flesh and begin thinking according to the mind of the Spirit. You can feel the change!' :) like a lot

  4. Barbara Howald Carlan8:52 AM

    A message read at just the right time. I needed this today Ralph......thanks!

  5. Jessica Robertson1:48 PM

    Awesome, Ralph!

  6. Chant Wong1:50 PM

    "You won’t have to be creative when God is at work. He’s pretty creative already." Great stuff! ~ Love it!

  7. Debra Baker1:51 PM

    I love Romans chapter 8. I see the truth in this note. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Chris Pennington1:51 PM

    So cool...there was a visible paradigm shift on the faces of my children as I shared this with them just now! Quite enjoyable to watch my daughter's face as she was reminded that, "yes, your little brother is a 'Super Hero!' :-) Great message for us all!! Thanks Ralph!

  9. Carol Smith2:16 PM


  10. Patricia A. Jacobson2:16 PM

    Thanks for this wonderful GIFT this morning, Ralph! I love it! You are a GIFT-have a wonderful day~

  11. Julie Belshe2:17 PM

    Thanks Ralph, once again you nailed it! Awesome!!!

  12. Julie--I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    Mari--I appreciated your comments. Thank you.
    Donna--Like a lot is right!
    Barbara--I'm delighted.
    Chant--I'm so glad.
    Chris--What a great thing you did with your kids. Thanks.
    Patti--I appreciate your comments. Got me!
    Julie--Thanks you!

  13. Jalaine Martel5:27 PM

    ‎'Let us recognize no one according to the flesh..." Thank you, Ralph...beautiful!!!!

  14. Sharon Fryer10:17 AM

    WOW!!!! And what did I hear as I read the last line? I heart heard, "Sharon, Behold." I did hear lots more between the lines that The Lord wanted me to hear, But these words spoke out LOUDEST!!! And very CLEAR!!! "Sharon, Behold." Another WOW!!! Thanks Ralph ♥