near death experience

Imagine all the love you’ve experienced in your entire life, from parents, spouses, friends, and family — and then multiply it by a thousand. That’s the kind of love experienced by people who’ve had near-death experiences. They report being in God’s presence. John Burke, the Texas-based bestselling author of “Imagine Heaven” and now the follow-up book, “Imagine the God of Heaven,” writes of the topic vividly. Together with his wife, Kathy, of Gateway Church in Austin, he is also the president of Gateway Leadership Initiative (GLI), a nonprofit organization. He and his family live in Austin.

In an interview, Burke said he spoke with 70 “different people for ‘Imagine the God of Heaven’ — from every continent, every religious background. And yes, they encountered this God of light and love, but many of them also encountered Him as Jesus.” NDEs, as they are known, are a scientifically recognized phenomenon that occurs when people are clinically dead. Some even describe scenes they couldn’t possibly have seen except supernaturally.  Burke, who talked at length on the “Lighthouse Faith” podcast, interviewed one woman named Mary who died in childbirth.

Burke said, “She leaves her body, and she’s in the presence of God. She feels this incredible forgiveness and love, and He tells her, ‘Your son is going to live.'” Burke said Mary is told she must go back. He continued, “As she’s coming back to her body, she passes through the ceiling and past the top side of the ceiling fan. She is resurrected and is trying to tell the doctors and nurses about this incredible experience she had. Everybody thinks she’s just hallucinating. Psychotic.”  Medical staff apparently said that Mary had no heartbeat and no brainwaves. “Imagine the God of Heaven.”

So a curious nurse got an orderly and a ladder and looked. “Sure enough,” said Burke, “there is a red sticker that Mary somehow saw on the top side of the ceiling fan.” One of the first documented NDEs is the case of Dr. George Ritchie. In Dec. 1943, Ritchie was a 20-year-old Army private and died of pneumonia. Nine minutes later, he came back to life and was profoundly changed. He went on to become a doctor of psychiatry and wrote books on the phenomenon of NDE. In a late 1990s interview with Joan Rivers, Ritchie talked about what he encountered, about the incredible light and love — and being in the presence of what he believed to be God in Jesus Christ.

Since then, science has researched and studied NDEs. A 2019 study found that one in 10 people supposedly have NDEs, according to the European Academy of Neurology. And the University of Virginia’s Dr. Bruce Greyson has studied over 1,000 cases. He retired in 2015 but still consults with other researchers at UVA who continue to work in the field.  Burke said he believes that science is limited to understanding the metaphysical aspects of NDEs.

There’s overwhelming evidence that what people experience is actually in the Bible. “Christians don’t realize how many of these things are tied to what the Bible says.” Light and love are the two attributes of God in the Bible. They are also the two commonalities people describe in NDEs.

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