Book Talk Tuesday: Heaven is For Real

I’m a few years late getting around to reading Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent.

Heaven Is For Real

I finally moved it to the top of my stack when we were invited to preview the new movie coming out on April 16th based on the book.

Heaven is For Real is the true story of three-year-old Colton Burpo who visited heaven during emergency surgery.

In the months after the surgery, Colton’s parents, Todd and Sonja, were surprised at his comments and insights. He knew both parents’ whereabouts during his surgery. He claimed to have met a sister (a baby his mother miscarried before he was born and who he didn’t know about) and his great-grandfather in heaven where he sat on Jesus’ knee and the angels sang to him.

The book is well-written and engaging. It’s a quick read and I breezed through it in a day or so. The book has its nay-sayers who don’t believe Colton visited heaven. I admit his conviction that people in heaven have wings isn’t in my Bible, but it’s likely that some of his three-year-old misconceptions about the hereafter were translated into his experience.

The movie is well-done. I enjoyed it.  It will also have its nay-sayers. The Gospel is watered-down. There’s a lot of talk about God and His love and Jesus is a big part of heaven, but there’s no mention of the narrow path or the price Jesus paid for us to get to heaven. The movie is also different from the book. Most of the changes didn’t bother me, I understand the need for poetic license in adapting a book for the screen. The essence of the book is there: a little boy visited heaven and lived to tell about it.

Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly are excellent as the mom and dad. Connor Corum as Colton is perfectly cast. He captures the winsomeness and innocence of a young boy.

The production values are excellent for a faith-based movie, although the persistence in using an electric blue and yellow/orange color palette grew a bit tiresome.

The ending is very contrived and “Hollywood-ish.” First a drama had to be created where there wasn’t one in the book. Then it had to have the Kum-by-yah resolution. Yawn. There are so many talented storytellers. I refuse to believe that was the best they could come up with.

Overall though, minor quibbles to what is an excellent book and a good movie. Will they win any converts? Not likely. Will the already converted love them? Yep.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Heaven

There’s a sentiment I sometimes hear about growing older and about death and dying. It goes something like this:

The closer I get to heaven and the more people I love who are there, the dearer heaven becomes.

I’ve certainly found this to be true in my own life, and I’ve shared many stories here about those who’ve gone ahead.

Another great saint made her way into eternity recently. She was the mother of dear friends and I know, as much as they will and do miss her, they are glad she has joined her husband and her Lord.

I’ve been reading about heaven and as I learn more about this very real place, the dearer it becomes.

This quote from C.S. Lewis brought tears to my eyes (no surprise to anyone who knows me well!):

… And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page; now at least they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before. ~C.S. Lewis

I’m glad, too, that Lois and so many others have finally begun their Chapter One.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Death, Where is Thy Sting?

As I’ve lost more family and friends in the last few years, I’ve become convinced of several truths.

Death is spiteful.

It wants to rob us of peace.

It’s ugly.

And it’s the great equalizer.

2013-03-29 16.38.33No matter how beloved a person or how despised, how humble or exalted, whether their death is memorialized by the thousands or unknown by more than a few, Death waits for us all.

I took the above picture of Charles Lindbergh’s gravesite on Maui in March of this year.

I’ve wanted to visit the site for several years, which is a bit odd in itself since I’m not one of those people who like to visit cemeteries or collect epitaphs.

I think it’s because I believe there’s more to the Lindberghs’ story. I don’t know much of it, just bits and pieces garnered here and there .

I memorized Psalm 139 a few years ago and my curiosity was piqued when I learned that a portion of it was engraved on Lindbergh’s grave marker.

“If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea …”

It’s fitting, isn’t it? For the man who flew across oceans and ultimately died and chose to be buried across the sea.

But that’s only a portion of the verse.

I memorized a slightly different version.

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,               even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

The fact that the hopeful portion of that verse was omitted from the marker raises all kinds of questions for me.

Did Lindbergh himself choose the verse? Did his wife? Other family members? Did they leave off the rest of it because of cost? Did they know Lindbergh did or didn’t believe the promise?

Ultimately, I know it doesn’t matter to anyone but me if those questions are ever answered. Knowing won’t change anything.

Lindbergh is still dead. Still in heaven or hell.

I do know one thing for sure.

As hateful and spiteful as death is, as a believer in Jesus the Christ, I will experience death of my physical body, but I get to sneer at Satan and his plan to destroy me. I have the hope and the promise from another portion of Psalm 139.

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

My days here are numbered. God knows when they began and when they will end.

Heaven has become more dear to me as so many friends and family members move into the mansions.

One day, hopefully not soon, I will get the last laugh at Satan and death. In the meantime, I still hate death. It’s malicious and I can’t wait for the day it will end its reign.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: The Sweet Bye and Bye

Over the last few years I’ve made it a habit to memorialize the friends and family I’ve lost.

Donna was an extended family member, married to a second cousin or first cousin once removed, something like that. I attended her wedding. We attended a few funerals together. I doubt if we exchanged a dozen words. The occasions we were together were big gatherings where it was impossible to talk to everyone.  sunset

But she was dearly loved by people I dearly love. I can only imagine the depth of their pain and grief at her loss. She leaves behind a husband and three young children.

Corinne wasn’t a family member, but she was something maybe even better- she loved us just because. She was a friend and neighbor from our years in Southern California. We lived two doors down from Corinne and her husband Larry. They were dear people who loved on our girls like grandparents. Their actual grandparents lived several hundred miles away but Corinne and Larry could be counted on to cheer for the girls’ accomplishments as enthusiastically as the most loving grandparents.

We kept in touch after we moved away, although it has been a couple of years since our last visit.

Both Donna and Corinne are Christians and I know they are safe and happy and out of pain. Their lives touched many people and we are the better for it.

Woe! It’s Wednesday

Life is hard. Life isn’t fair. Life sucks.

I’ve heard (and felt) all of the above in the last few weeks. And with some good reasons:

  • A friend is slowly being crippled by a chronic disease.
  • A thirty-something mother of three young girls from church has decided to stop chemo and begin palliative/comfort care for the remainder of her life.
  • Two babies died this week.
  • A niece passed a kidney stone the size of a pea.
  • A young man is dying of AIDS.

Life is hard.

Life isn’t fair.

Life sucks. 

But it’s what we’re stuck with as long as we’re on this side of eternity. I keep coming back to the fact that “… our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

I have a friend who keeps threatening promising to make t-shirts that say “Heaven is Gonna Rock.”

The more people I know on that other side, the dearer Heaven becomes. I made one of the dying people I know promise to deliver a few messages for me.

I’m not morbidly thinking I will die anytime soon, or wishing for heaven.

It’s more like a favorite aunt and uncle has moved to Fairbanks. I’ve never had a desire to go to Fairbanks and see it for myself. But just knowing that someone I love is there makes the thought of traveling to Fairbanks a little more bearable. And it makes Fairbanks a bit more special to me.

You know how real life is left behind when you’re on vacation? Heaven is kind of like a permanent vacation from laundry and dental cleanings.

It’s gonna ROCK!

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