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Heaven Is For Real, by Todd Burpo

March 10, 2012 2 comments

A book review by Karen Gross

If you are looking for assurance that Heaven is a real place, this book will deliver. This is the true story of the near death experience of a three year old boy, a pastor’s son in Nebraska. His father wrote the book, quoting Colton’s own words as much as possible.

When Colton Burpo was three years and ten months old, he got very sick. The doctor in their hometown hospital ran test and test for three days, and Colton just got worse.

So Colton’s parents, Sonja and Todd, wrapped him in a blanket, signed him out of the hospital, and drove ninety minutes to a larger hospital. By this time they were frantic. But even though they called ahead to the hospital, the ER receptionist told them to have a seat; the doctor was still on his lunch break. (if you are a parent, you are probably gritting your teeth by now.)

When they finally saw the doctor, the medical staff made up for lost time. The doctor said that Colton’s appendix had burst, and he needed immediate surgery. He was rushed off, screaming into the OR, and Sonja and Todd suddenly had nothing to do but wait.

Todd needed to let off some steam. He found a small room with a door, and he started shouting at God. “Where are you? Is this how you treat your pastors? Is it even worth it to serve you?”

When his tears of rage were spent, Todd joined Sonja in the waiting room. They prayed together, and called their church to activate the prayer chain. It was time to borrow the strength and faith of some other believers.

After an endless ninety minutes, a nurse came out to let them know that Colton was out of surgery, awake and screaming for his dad. When Todd sat beside Colton’s bed, the screaming stopped. Colton looked at Todd and said, “Daddy, you know I almost died.” How could a three year old know that? Todd thought it odd, but he had no idea what was coming.

Colton was in the hospital for about three grueling weeks, having pockets of infection drained from his little body, until he was finally well enough to pass gas. Imagine a church prayer meeting of about 80 people gathered to pray that their pastor’s son would fart. But within about an hour, that prayer was answered – to the astonishment of the medical staff. The Burpo family was finally able to get home. But nothing was ever going to be normal again.

The first really odd conversation took place in the family van about four months later. As they drove past the hospital, Sonja asked Colton if he remembered this place. He answered, “Yes, Mommy, that’s where the angels sang to me.”

Todd asked Colton what songs the angels sang, and he answered without hesitation, “Well, they sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho,” he said earnestly. “I asked them to sing ‘We Will, We Will Rock You,’ but they wouldn’t sing that.” He said that he was sitting in Jesus’ lap and Jesus told the angels to sing to comfort him.

Colton told his story in bits and pieces. Details would just pop up, in normal childish conversations. At first Todd and Sonja didn’t know what to make of his story. Their now four year old told them about flying above his body while the doctor was fixing him. He told them that Daddy had gone to a little room by himself to pray, and then Daddy went where Mommy was in a big room.

Colton asked his dad if he remembered how he woke up yelling after the surgery. He explained, “Well, the reason I was yelling for you was that Jesus came to get me. He said I had to go back because he was answering your prayer. That’s how come I was yelling for you.”

Todd felt his knees go weak when he heard this. He felt so ashamed about yelling at God, questioning His wisdom and His faithfulness. He asked himself “Why would God even answer a prayer like that? And how did I deserve His mercy?”

The story gets more bizarre, in a good, wonderfully weird way. Colton told Todd that he met someone who introduced himself as Pop, Todd’s grandfather. Todd showed Colton a picture of Pop, and Colton didn’t recognize him. Then Todd’s mom sent a picture of Pop as a young man, and Colton recognized him right away. He said, “Nobody’s old or wears glasses in Heaven.”

Then Colton said he had met his sister in Heaven. He asked Sonja if she had a baby die in her tummy. Sonja was beside herself. She had never told Colton about the miscarriage that she had two years before Colton was born. She didn’t even know that the baby she lost was a girl. When asked what the girl’s name was, Colton said, “She didn’t have a name. You never gave her one.”

Colton also met Biblical people. He knew obscure details about Heaven, like that God’s throne is the biggest, and Jesus sits on the right side and the angel Gabriel on the other. He also met Jesus’ cousin John. He was nice. Colton said that he had met the Holy Spirit, but he is hard to describe. He is just sort of…blue.

Todd tried not to ask leading questions, but he did try to trick Colton one day. He asked what Colton had done at night time, and if he was scared of the dark. Colton told his dad that it never gets dark in Heaven.

One detail that Colton saw was something I have never heard. He said that there would be war in Heaven, and that all the men had to fight, including his dad.

There is just so much more in the book, but I have to leave some surprises for you to read. Heaven is for Real was a #1 New York Times best seller, so it is widely available. Amazon has it, or you could buy it from the Burpo’s website: http://heavenisforreal.net/index.html

 

 

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Safely Home

March 2, 2012 2 comments

I have just finished reading a very powerful book by Randy Alcorn. I have read some of his stuff before and his name sits on our bookshelf. When I picked up this book at the library I had no idea what kind of ride I was in for. It gripped me right from the beginning – not just because he is a masterful storyteller but because the story is based on things that are still happening today.

The story is centered around two men, Ben and Li Quan. Ben is an American and his friend Li Quan is from China. They meet at Harvard University and become good friends but Li Quan feels called back to China and takes his wife and son with him. Ben is involved in the business world and is sent to China to mingle with the people. He is sent so that his business can learn how to prosper even more as they trade with China. Ben lost his faith along the way because his priorities changed over the years… so when he goes to China to spend time with Li Quan he gets more than he bargained for. Li Quan is a persecuted Christian and daily faces challenges with the Chinese government. He has to be very careful who he is seen with and where he has housechurch. As the story progresses, we see the horrors of what happens to believers and come to an understanding of how corrupt the government is in certain parts of China.

I’ve heard stories about China before and this is certainly not the only country who opposes Christianity but for some reason this book touched me at a deeper level. I got so angry at the characters who were using their power to torture and humiliate good people whose only crime was that they believed in God and wanted to share His love. I’m not sure why belief in God is such a threat to people. Power I guess. I get emails frequently that ask me to pray for persecuted Christians around the world and missionaries who faithfully serve.  I’ve gotten lazy about those emails but I feel a renewed sense of duty to pray for those out there on the battle field. I have it sooooo easy! I don’t take my faith seriously enough, in fact I take it for granted that I can pick up a Bible freely whenever I want without fear. If you feel your faith loosing momentum, I highly recommend this book. Well worth your time.

–Alison Lehman

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Pushing Past the Pain

March 1, 2012 1 comment

After some time away from my treadmill from either injury or lack of motivation, I got back on this evening.Tim and I exercise together to help keep each other motivated and we decided 8:30 would be a good time to get ‘er done. After searching high and low for my MP3 player, I hopped on, forgetting that I had skated at the PCU center with the grade 11 phys-ed class. After my warm up it didn’t take long to remember that half an hour of skating at the PCU. After less than five minutes I moaned to Tim, “Skating kind of wrecked me today.” I had the treadmill set for 10 minutes of walking and 15 minutes of running. I figured at one point that I’d have to cut my losses and take some time off of my routine. I’m not sure if the right song came on or my muscles loosened up but something happened and I pushed past the pain and made it to the end without compromising. Once I pushed past that first hurdle I figured I had a better chance of succeeding in my goal.

Life is kind of like this too, isn’t it? Sometimes God puts us through a season of suffering and there are days when we feel that we just can’t do it. When something challenging pops up in my life I often complain first and whine a little bit. I get frustrated that the issue isn’t going away. I pray about it but sometimes I pray that God would change the people I’m frustrated with. Lately God has been changing my heart and I’ve been praying for God to change ME. I can’t do much about the attitudes of others in my life but I can change how I react to them. I can respond with mercy, grace and forgiveness instead of anger, bitterness and resentment. It’s not easy but I’m trying.

It would be easy to give up when pain and suffering comes into our lives, to get off the treadmill or just let go of our goals and make easier ones. But if we do that we will miss out on what God has planned for us. It’s important to push past the pain of the moment. God will give you the strength to do that. He tells us that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us… so knowing that He is always with us should give us the courage to press on and push past the pain. Dare to imagine what is waiting for you on the other side of it.

—Alison Lehman

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