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Monday, March 24, 2014

"Between Heaven and Earth" (Steve Berger)

TITLE: Between Heaven and Earth: Finding Hope, Courage, and Passion Through a Fresh Vision of Heaven
AUTHOR: Steve Berger
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, (192 pages).

Since the runaway success of the book by Todd Burpo, "Heaven is for Real," there has been a slew of books on the theme of heaven. While Burpo's son had a vision of heaven, and came back to earth, the author of this book does not enjoy the same privilege. His son passed from earth to heaven and stayed, leaving him and his wife on earth to find hope, to maintain courage, and to continue on through life on earth. Knowing that his son is in a heavenly place brings lots of comfort and joy. As a senior pastor to Grace Chapel, a community of more than 4000 people in Leipers Fork, Tennessee, Berger tackles the accusations of "heavenly minded but of no earthly good" with a passionate call for faith and hope in the midst of fear and despair. Drawing hope and inspiration from Paul's letter to the Philippians, Berger invites readers to eavesdrop into his thoughts and visions about heaven, drawing inspiration for grace, hoping, healing, and living in between heaven and earth.

While he can teach and preach about heaven, it takes the death of his beloved son through a horrific car accident to usher him deeper into the reality of heaven, and how much hope it offers. It is one thing to talk about heaven. It is yet another to live out heaven while on earth. Berger dives into the emotional journeys of the Apostle Paul as he confesses what it means to live is Christ and to die with gain. He learns from Watchman Nee's courage in the midst of persecution. He benefits from John MacArthur's wise assurance that eternal realities in Christ surpass the temporal troubles on earth. He digs into Abraham's ups and downs in his faith journey, and marvels at Abraham's ability to keep a future focus on the promise of God. Berger distinguishes real hope from human hope by stating facts about death, heaven, hell, and the love of God. He glimpses a heaven that is engaging, exciting, and eternally satisfying. The longing for heaven is increased through recognizing heaven is no boring place but a place of healing, harvesting the joys of God's work, hearing God, and ultimately receiving our rewards in God.

"Between heaven and earth" is a very personal journey of Steve Berger. Each page I turn, I am aware of a hurting person seeking a word of healing from Scripture, a sign of hope from heaven, and a respite from the earthly existence toward a heavenly manifestation. Far too many of us are guilty of being too earthly minded rather than heavenly focused. We are big into how-tos, steps to do things, ways to perform various spiritual disciplines, and inspiration through quips and clever stories. What is lacking is the vision of heaven and eternal communion with God, just like the prophets and saints of old. The promises according to Berger is of a heavenly home, hope, and happiness. Most importantly, it is the promise of God Himself. If Berger has taken time to describe and to story his own life more in the light of God's Person, this book would have been even better.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Bethany House Publishers and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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