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Debi Newman is Definitely Not Dead

I didn’t mean to confuse you with the title, but I discovered that realizing you are dead can be a good thing. It happened for John Woolman. John Woolman was an American Quaker who lived in colonial America and kept diaries recording his spiritual journey. His insights about material possessions and ambitions are teachings that are particularly relevant and thought provoking about the ethical issues that effect our lives today. He has a lot to say about enjoying goods and services that are available because of the oppression of other humans. One of his entries tells about a vision he had when he was sick and near physical death. He said he heard an angel’s voice speaking to other angels and saying, “John Woolman is dead.”

John was so ill when he received the message that he did not understand whatit meant. He also saw visions of Christian’s oppressing the poor that evokedblaspheming the name of God from the oppressed during his illness. It wasn’tuntil he completely recovered from his serious infirmity that his voice cameback and he felt a spiritual power cause his first words to be from Galatians2:20:

“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life I now live in the flesh by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (KJV).

In that moment he became aware that the message was a revelation that he had died to his own will. It was an affirmation of the spiritual progress he had made.

Debi Newman is not dead. I have not heard the same message as John Woolman, but I would like to some day. I would like to be dead to my own will, yet I have not made as much spiritual progress as John Woolman. Hearing his story calls me to see the beauty he experienced. In his weakness he was blessed by the vision God gave him of his life and progress on this earth.

I’m not sure that I will be overhearing a conversation of angels talking about me anytime soon, or ever. I do know that I want to experience what John Woolman experienced. I want to know what it is to live for God’s will and no longer be a slave to my own. Romans 12:1-2 says it so simply like it is a matter of simple actions:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Did Paul and John Woolman discover that God is true to His promises? If you do offer your body as a living sacrifice to God as worship and do not conform to the pattern of the world, but have a renewed mind, you will do God’s good, pleasing and perfect will? That’s what it sounds like to me.

It’s important not to lose hope that giving your will over to God can really happen. It is possible. The angels in John Woolman’s vision said it happened for him. In this hard economy, perhaps a place to start is thinking about how you have conformed to the pattern of the world. Are your finances just like everyone else’s? Have you been trying to get what only God can give from this world? Transforming from the pattern of the world is a good place to start when attempting to know and do God’s perfect, pleasing and good will.


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