grovesinthemist

A Short, Free eBook on Abortion - by John Piper

Exposing Darkness of Abortion

We are children of the light. Abortion is a work of darkness. The apostle Paul said, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).

Our aim, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, through the authority of his word, is to glorify God by making much of his image in the unborn, and his mercy in forgiving sinners.

We would like to give you a free eBook based on three sermons I preached on abortion. We hope it helps you speak out. Please feel free to download it, print it, copy it, and share it with as many people as you like.

Here’s a sample sentence:

God is calling passive, inactive Christians today to engage our minds and hearts and hands in exposing the barren works of darkness. To be the conscience of our culture. To be the light of the world. To live in the great reality of being loved by God and adopted by God and forgiven by Christ (yes—for all the abortions that dozens of you have had), and be made children of the light. I call you to walk as children of light.

Thanks for caring,

John Piper

From Desiring God Ministries:

We produced the video above to give you a picture of the lack of theological resources available to leaders in much of the world and to highlight the impact of people joining together with us, as God calls them, to help financially underwrite those efforts.

We are very grateful for so many of you praying with us about the One Percent Campaign. God has been very gracious to provide more than 2,500 people, as ongoing or one-time donors, through this effort!

Would you be part of this one percent? Even just one percent of you giving small monthly gifts, or a one-time gift, will make a significant impact on our domestic and international outreach initiatives.

joshgroves:

Jesus is the hero of the story, always showing up and saving people! This video encourages me for a couple of reasons:

1. A multitude of around 4,500 people get to see and hear the story of Jesus for the first time in their own language, and most of them respond by accepting the Gospel. 2. The missionaries are all older in age, yet they are still working and serving God’s Kingdom in Ethiopia - not wasting their lives. I love that.

Pray for these missionaries and the Gamo people in Ethiopia. I hope this strengthens your faith like it has mine!

Also, thank you to The Seed Company for their Bible translation ministry and their mission to reach the ends of the earth with the Gospel of Jesus. Most people probably have no idea what all goes into what they do, and I pray that God continues to pour out His favor and blessing on them.

Reblogged from SOUND (and) DOCTRINE

This clip is taken from the sermon “Jesus, the Son of God,” preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church’s Ballard location in Seattle, Washington, on October 23, 2011. It is the 95th sermon in our sermon series on the Gospel of Luke.

To watch the full sermon, visit http://marshill.com/media/luke/jesus-the-son-of-god


Can’t Do Nothing

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About a year ago, this 16-year-old girl was raped by a 32-year-old man who has AIDS. She became infected, but gave birth to this baby boy who - by God’s grace - has not been infected. The father has been sentenced to 28 years in jail.

What is to become of this child?  How much longer does this mother have to live?

Of course, I have no idea what the answers are.  But I do know how to stay in touch with them via e-mail and to make sure that this child is taken care of and provided for as he grows up. I don’t know how someone like me can meet people like them and not feel like you have to help.

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This is a shot of where they live.  People openly sell drugs around here, a terrible place for an infant to be.

Please join me in praying for Aeisha and her baby.

Josh

I wanted to share this story a couple of weeks ago, but my computer crashed and I’m just getting around to posting it via the Tumblr app on my phone.

I was walking home down the main road through Musanze around 11 PM exactly 2 weeks ago. It’s unusual to see many people out at that time of night, so I thought it was peculiar to see 4 Rwandan women up ahead of me who looked like they’d just come out of one of the surrounding villages and were walking towards town. When I first saw them they were say least 50 yards in front of me, but I quickly caught up with then and noticed that it was because one lady kept stopping to bend over or sit on the ground for a moment. Obviously she was in pain and so I offered to help by showing them my phone and asking if I should call someone. None of the ladies spoke English, but I knew enough Kinyarwanda to communicate and ask if there was a problem and if everything was okay. They didn’t need me to call anyone, and when I offered to pay for a mototaxi they rejected that offer as well. Finally, one of the ladies made the shape of a big belly with her arms and said “hospital”!  

Excitedly I said “She’s going to have a baby?!?!” Of course I wanted to come along and make sure everything went okay for this woman. Something in me just felt connected to what was going on and I felt a sense of duty to walk with her all the way to the hospital. The closer we came to the hospital the more she seemed to stop in pain, and every time she stopped I’d put my arms around her and - speaking their language - I’d tell her it was all okay, that we were so close, that I was praising God for her baby and praying for them. I walked her all the way up to the maternity ward and into the delivery room where I was assured that she’d be taken of. I communicated with one of her friends that I’d be back at 9 AM to see tthe baby if that was okay…..and it was.

The next morning when I arrived at the maternity warf I couldn’t find them anywhere. No one at the hospital spoke English so I couldn’t just ask around. Then, the friend I’d spoken with the night before grabbed my arm from behind and pointed towards a large group of people gathered on the lawn. I didn’t even know what the mother looked like since it was dark on the street the night before and her face was covered by her clothing. The friend pointed her out and they showed me the newborn baby  boy. I congratulated both the mother and the father who was there (not sure where he was the night before), and I asked for the baby’s name. They told me his name several times, but I couldn’t understand so I pulled out pen and paper and asked then to write it down.

"Juaese" is what they wrote

I knew Josue was the Spanish form of Joshua, and this name looked very similar. I’d told them the night before that my name was “Josuah” - which is how most people recognize Joshua here. So I just asked if “Josuah” and “Juaese” we’re the same name, and they told me yes, Juaese is the French form of Joshua. Just to be certain of what was happening I asked if they named the baby after me, and they confirmed that was the case.

That gave me one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. How cool to be connected to this family’s story and for them to be connected to mine like that! I gave the mom some money for the baby because I could tell they were from one of the surround ing villages and didn’t have much. Plus, since I’m practically the  kid’s godfather now I have to make sure he’s taken care of! Then I got the mom a taxi because she was about to walk back to wherever she came from. I have a buddy who is a taxi driver, so I told him to take her home and then call me and I’d pay him however much when he got back to town. Come to find out, this family lives 7.5 miles away! So momma walked that far, about to have a baby - which had to take over 3 hours at the rate she was stopping to catch a breather.

Earlier today someone who speaks English called me and spoke for the family  to tell me that they are coming  to visit me on Wednesday! I’ll be sure to post more pictures of the family and the baby, but I wanted to finally tell this story that I’ve been itching to tell for 2 weeks.

I wanted to share this story a couple of weeks ago, but my computer crashed and I’m just getting around to posting it via the Tumblr app on my phone.

I was walking home down the main road through Musanze around 11 PM exactly 2 weeks ago. It’s unusual to see many people out at that time of night, so I thought it was peculiar to see 4 Rwandan women up ahead of me who looked like they’d just come out of one of the surrounding villages and were walking towards town. When I first saw them they were say least 50 yards in front of me, but I quickly caught up with then and noticed that it was because one lady kept stopping to bend over or sit on the ground for a moment. Obviously she was in pain and so I offered to help by showing them my phone and asking if I should call someone. None of the ladies spoke English, but I knew enough Kinyarwanda to communicate and ask if there was a problem and if everything was okay. They didn’t need me to call anyone, and when I offered to pay for a mototaxi they rejected that offer as well. Finally, one of the ladies made the shape of a big belly with her arms and said “hospital”!

Excitedly I said “She’s going to have a baby?!?!” Of course I wanted to come along and make sure everything went okay for this woman. Something in me just felt connected to what was going on and I felt a sense of duty to walk with her all the way to the hospital. The closer we came to the hospital the more she seemed to stop in pain, and every time she stopped I’d put my arms around her and - speaking their language - I’d tell her it was all okay, that we were so close, that I was praising God for her baby and praying for them. I walked her all the way up to the maternity ward and into the delivery room where I was assured that she’d be taken of. I communicated with one of her friends that I’d be back at 9 AM to see tthe baby if that was okay…..and it was.

The next morning when I arrived at the maternity warf I couldn’t find them anywhere. No one at the hospital spoke English so I couldn’t just ask around. Then, the friend I’d spoken with the night before grabbed my arm from behind and pointed towards a large group of people gathered on the lawn. I didn’t even know what the mother looked like since it was dark on the street the night before and her face was covered by her clothing. The friend pointed her out and they showed me the newborn baby boy. I congratulated both the mother and the father who was there (not sure where he was the night before), and I asked for the baby’s name. They told me his name several times, but I couldn’t understand so I pulled out pen and paper and asked then to write it down.

"Juaese" is what they wrote

I knew Josue was the Spanish form of Joshua, and this name looked very similar. I’d told them the night before that my name was “Josuah” - which is how most people recognize Joshua here. So I just asked if “Josuah” and “Juaese” we’re the same name, and they told me yes, Juaese is the French form of Joshua. Just to be certain of what was happening I asked if they named the baby after me, and they confirmed that was the case.

That gave me one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. How cool to be connected to this family’s story and for them to be connected to mine like that! I gave the mom some money for the baby because I could tell they were from one of the surround ing villages and didn’t have much. Plus, since I’m practically the kid’s godfather now I have to make sure he’s taken care of! Then I got the mom a taxi because she was about to walk back to wherever she came from. I have a buddy who is a taxi driver, so I told him to take her home and then call me and I’d pay him however much when he got back to town. Come to find out, this family lives 7.5 miles away! So momma walked that far, about to have a baby - which had to take over 3 hours at the rate she was stopping to catch a breather.

Earlier today someone who speaks English called me and spoke for the family to tell me that they are coming to visit me on Wednesday! I’ll be sure to post more pictures of the family and the baby, but I wanted to finally tell this story that I’ve been itching to tell for 2 weeks.

Shyira Diocese: Church Preschool Program - Progress Report (November 2010-May 2011)

Of the 54 Parishes in Shyira Diocese, 16 out of 148 pre-schools havereceived funds from donors for the purpose of starting and operating a preschool.  Under the leadership of Pastor Christophe Nshimyimana – head of Christian Education for the diocese – we have interviewed parents, teachers, and local church pastors from five of these churches to evaluate the progress since preschool began in November 2010.  Overall, we visited three different communities where preschools are being funded and operating throughout several churches.

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Update

You may have seen some of my pictures on this blog or on Facebook from different preschools and churches in Shyira Diocese. Pastor Christophe Nshymimana (head of Christian Education for the whole diocese) and I traveled to several preschools that began receiving funds from donors in November 2010, and our objectives were to interview parents, teachers, and pastors about the progress they’ve seen the kids make since preschool began.

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Pentecost

It was around 5 PM when Pastor Christophe asked if I could preach during the English service at the Cathedral at 7:30 AM. That hasn’t given me much time to prepare, and since the Anglican church follows the liturgical calendar I am obligated to preach on the story of Pentecost found in Acts 2. It’s an incredible story known by anyone who’s ever heard of the New Testament. Can you imagine being a grandchild of someone who was at Pentecost & growing up hearing wild stories about what happened that day? In my own mind, I can’t stop thinking about how good God is for establishing covenants with his people, remaining faithful to those covenants, & always fulfilling what he has said he will do. Ultimately, God established a new covenant with all people through His son Jesus, & we can know with certainty that he’s coming back one day to establish the complete & eternal rule of His Kingdom, & to bring restoration & renewal to every broken part of creation. That gets me excited & I want to share some thoughts from tonight as I soaked in the meaning of Pentecost.

 Several blue-collar Jewish fishermen & a devout Jewish Pharisee who once killed Christians became Spirit-filled apostles & leaders of the early Christian church. They changed everything about the known world within their lifetime, & 2000 years later we're still talking about how we want to "make a difference for Jesus in this world." Of course, some of the miraculous events recorded in the New Testament were unique to their situation and don't need to be repeated. Yet, we are filled with the same Holy Spirit & empowered by the same God of the universe so that we can GO tell every single group of people on earth about Christ's crucifixion, resurrection, & coming return. That's it, that's our only job description. Jesus said don't worry about when the end will come or when God's Kingdom will be fully established. In a way I can hear Jesus saying, "Just receive the Holy Spirit, continue watching the big plan unfold, & bring the Kingdom to earth by living a Spirit-empowered life & preaching my name.... But know that the eternal establishment of God's Kingdom WILL be fulfilled."

 Jesus clearly told people what will happen at the end of time, he offered them a message of hope, & he called them to a life of repentance & discipleship. To those who follow him, Jesus said all we need to know is that the Spirit will come upon us & that we will receive the power of God to be who He created us to be & to carry out His perfect plans on Earth, right now in the present. Right now, go preach the gospel to all people. Right now, repent & turn to God. When Jesus came to earth, God came to earth in the flesh. Now the Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity, has come to earth & filled with power every single follower of Jesus. God is present all over the earth through His people who have been filled with His Spirit. Our only concern should be with how the power of God through the Spirit is working in our lives to accomplish what Jesus said it would be used to accomplish. Are we living witnesses to ALL people - with our words & with our deeds - of who Christ is & what he's done? Only the Holy Spirit has the power we need to live that way, & if we aren't living that way & receiving power from the Spirit, then who's our power coming from? Paul tells us in Ephesians 1 that the Spirit of God seals or hearts & guarantees our inheritance of eternal life with God & his big adopted family. That's for real, this isnt pretend. It's a perfect plan in action, not just a set of doctrinal beliefs about the Trinity or salvation. We get to actually see our God working to restore His creation, drawing people to salvation in Jesus through radical love, & fulfilling promises to his people. It's an amazing story & plan that has been unfolding since time began. My only desire is to do the will of God as I live by the power of His Spirit in me.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Heaven Is Real’

It is no surprise that holding down the top spot on bestselling book lists for weeks now is a book about a little boy who claims that he saw what heaven looks like. People are fascinated with stories about the supernatural realm beyond the world we know, and for many (including Christians and non-Christians alike) these stories tickle their ears and give them ideas about God and heaven that simply are not biblical. I have not read the book myself nor do I plan to, but I know that it is very popular and I would like to offer what I believe are biblical words of wisdom, full of truth and communicated with grace.

Troy Nicholson was my youth pastor at First Southern Baptist Church in Bryant, AR from the time I was in 10th grade until I graduated High School. A couple of years ago Troy and his family moved to Tuscaloosa, AL to start a church plant where they live and do ministry now. I would say if there is one person who, to this day, has helped shape my theology and approach to ministry the most - it has been Troy. I say all of that to show that I know him personally and have the utmost respect for him no matter what area of life it comes to. So, I was pleased to come across and read Troy’s book review of Heaven Is Real on Facebook because I think he hit the nail on the head and offered a caring pastoral response. Click the link to read more.

Heaven is for Real - Reviewed by Troy Nicholson

A Note of Context:

Perhaps it is necessary to confess up-front, “I am a skeptic”.  If you were to tell me the shirt that I am wearing is blue, rest assured I will look down to make sure.  Whether this is a byproduct of contextual influence during the formative years of my life or a gift associated with the role of pastor/shepherd will only be revealed in Heaven - which is a great segue into our topic. 

Heaven is for Real follows the life of the Burpo family with specific emphasis on Colton, a four-year old boy, and his father Todd.  In a nutshell, Colton gets very sick and, after a series of frustrating events and days, the family finds out emergency surgery is needed for a ruptured appendix in February of 2003.  Todd is already discouraged due to his own broken leg, breast cancer scare, financial troubles, and strenuous life as a school coach/fireman/pastor/overhead garage door installer.  Colton has surgery and the recovery was not void of troubles either.  Eventually, the boy is released, the community surrounds the Burpos, God provides for their needs, the family learns valuable lessons, and others begin to be encouraged by the story.  Why?  Because Colton begins to leak out bits and pieces of a journey to Heaven he experienced while in surgery (perhaps dead - perhaps not).  Thus the book finds its flow:  Colton shares something - Dad thinks about it - Dad remembers a Scripture - Dad leaves Colton to digest his thoughts alone or with someone else - Everyone waits for the next opportunity to probe Colton for more details.  6 or 7 years later, upon being encouraged by others, Todd writes the book detailing the events of the journey.  This short-fun-easy read is a 17+ week #1 on the NY Times Bestseller list … and seems to be gaining more momentum.  An edition for children will be available in the Fall, so don’t be shocked when it comes out in 3-D at your local theater. 

A Note of Content:

The book is filled with intriguing moments and fascinating details.  The boy’s out of body experience allows him to see his dad praying in another room and his mom on her cell phone.  He meets his great-grandad “Pop”, an unnamed sister who had been miscarried, John the Baptist, and the Virgin Mary.  The mother of all moments is his interaction with Jesus, who not only talked with him and showed him his scars but also gave him “homework”.  Jesus wears a white robe and purple sash but has no wings.  Conversely, everyone else wears different color sashes, colors we’ve never seen, and sport wings of varying sizes.  He saw the pearly gates, glowing aura’s around people, pet Jesus’ horse, tons of children, and even swords to keep Satan out of heaven.  Nobody was old and nobody wore glasses.  God Himself was seen, the biggest person there, as was the Holy Spirit, who was only identified as a “blue” something.  Power was “shot” to his dad, Todd, when he preaches and his (Todd’s) prayers are the reason that Jesus made Colton go back.  Again, this book is saturated with mind-blowing details that stir emotional fibers.  All details that the Apostle Paul surely saw … but was instructed to never utter … lest he be found boasting (2 Cor 12). 

A Note of Care:

Call it cynical or call it shepherding (I feel strongly about one of those) but here is where a side of me arises from the “field of flowers” sensation of this book and assumes a defensive stance.  Trust me, this book in no way poses threat to evangelical theology like “The Shack”, but it does have that same strange allurement.  An allurement to get more excited about someone’s story instead of the Text of Scripture.

Four Notes of Concern:

1.  The gospel is lacking.  In one section, Colton is uncontrollable in his concern that a deceased man “knew” who Jesus was.  “He Had to know Jesus” is repeated several times at the funeral home, to the point where the mom is forced to remove him from the facility.  Here lies my concern:  How did Colton (who went to heaven) “know” Jesus in a way that the older man did not “know” Jesus (and the reader is left to decide his fate).  I am going to avoid the debate here over childhood salvation - but raise the question “is this book helpful or harmful to the adult who has a head knowledge of Christ but has never understood sin, substitution, wrath, atonement, etc”?  In other words, does that individual walk away encouraged because he/she at least has the same child-like faith of Colton?  Statements like “I’m not perfect but I talk to Jesus all the time” - “Me and God have our own thing going” - “I was baptized when I was…” - “I walked the aisle at age…” are justified with books like this.  Satan whispers in individual’s ears, “See, if Colton got to go to heaven then you are okay”.  Paul used his heavenly experience to BOAST in the gospel.  He used it to urge people to repent of their sin - not be encouraged by ethereal cloud hopping. 

2.  Experiences are communicated as truth.  I will admit up front, most of these are not necessarily contrary to Scripture.  However, they are not Biblical either.  They fall into some sort of grey, blurring the lines between vision and truth (more on that later).  In other words, a 5-minute Google search on “near death experiences” will give you all the heavenly moments you can handle but I am not ready to bank on “having a water fight with Jesus in the River of Life” because someone said so. 

            IN HEAVEN:

•  The great grandfather spends eternity as a young 30 year old and the little miscarried girl is bound to the age of 4ish.  Is the girl growing older year by year?  Is she stuck at 4? Is the man getting younger?  Is he stuck at 30?  Will they both experience heaven in those states for all eternity?

•  Everyone has wings in heaven…except for Jesus.  This is absolutely not taught in Scripture and even calls into question several passages where angels and mankind are clearly distinct from one another.  (Is 6, 1 Cor 6, Heb 2, Revelation)

•  Swords are needed in heaven to keep Satan out…yet Colton saw Satan.  Did the swords not work and Satan made it in?  Did Colton go to where Satan was?  Is God not powerful enough to keep Satan out without swords?  Conversely, and most importantly, wasn’t Satan allowed in the presence of God in the Book of Job?

•  Staying on the sword theme, Colton wanted to hold a sword but Jesus wouldn’t let him because it was “too dangerous.”  Why?  Who was he going to hurt?  Was he going to hurt himself?  Was he going to hurt someone else?  Remember, he was in heaven … no tears, no pain, no death (Rev 21:4) … but danger?

•  The Holy Spirit “shoots” his dad power when he preaches and Colton saw it happen.  Trust me, every preacher alive will say “AMEN” to that.  However, remember, he was in heaven for 3 minutes.  His dad wasn’t preaching in those three minutes, right?  So apparently Colton was able to see the future … yet the martyrs in Rev 6:10 are not allowed to see the future.

•  Did the boy die or not?  Colton suggests he did but the doctors say he did not.  If he did die, did God not know it was his time? (Ps 139:16).  Did He change his mind, send him back, and re-allot a new amount of days?

•  Colton saw Jesus and confirmed His likeness as portrayed in a painting by a child prodigy whose parents are atheist.  This is a massive portion of the books appeal.  The family asks him over and over and over and over and over to confirm images they find.  Todd makes it a point to keep this repetitive theme going throughout the book in an attempt to build his case.  However, the case falls just as easily with one question:  Who is to say Colton’s acknowledgment of Akiane’s depiction INVALIDATES every other visionary depiction that has been produced from those claiming to have seen Jesus?  Why do we choose this one over others?  Because he was 4 and she was 8?  Illogical to me.

Again, my issue is not necessarily with what was said but the fact that it is presented as truth.  To state it bluntly, there is nothing in this book worthy of canonization.  This is not the missing 23rd chapter of Revelation and people are ready to defend it as such.

3.  The father writes from a 6 or 7 year delayed perspective yet in a very detailed and descriptive fashion.  We all fall victim to filling in the gaps as details are lost.  We also fall victim to filling in the gaps with more colorful content when details are lost.  Furthermore, leading questions produce led answers.  Those who have read the book balk, “Troy, the dad said he did not lead Colton on”.  (A) I have questions about that process coming later.  (B) I am also equally concerned with the bestselling co-authors questions to Todd in the production of the book.  As a professor once told me, “Pay careful attention to who endorses, publishes, and helps co-author a book before you read it.”

4.  Scripture is reduced to a “back up what Colton said” and never “question what Colton said” answer key.  I will forgo discussion on this area for the sake of time and my blood pressure.  However, if you can tell me Colton Burpo’s heavenly experience and cannot tell me about Isaiah’s, Stephen’s, Elijah’s, John’s and Paul’s then I beg you to put down this book and pick up your Bible.  Don’t get excited about heaven because of what a 4 year old boy said, get excited because of what is said by Jesus in the Gospels. 

A Note of Concession:

So the million dollar question:  Did Colton go to heaven?  Maybe…maybe not.  There is adequate wiggle room for the believer as well as the skeptic.  “But how did he know all this stuff?”  Simmer down, easy, take a breath.  Get mad at one another if you disagree on Scripture, not the Burpo’s experience.  Rest assured, Colton has learned a ton as the son of a pastor.  I can relate to this on two levels.  First, as a pastor’s son, my parent’s did not know all the things I was exposed to in Sunday School, Training Union, and Wednesday night classes.  They did not know all the conversations I overheard.  They did not realize how much I absorbed with each and every sermon I heard - especially when it came to swords, horses, rainbows, eternity, Satan and Heaven.  Second, as a pastor with two sons, I have influenced answers with “leading questions” even when I was trying my best not to use “leading lingo”.  Pastors have passions.  When a discussion of the Bible emerges I get excited - and inadvertently use semantics that fuel the conversation.  Start a conversation with me about politics and I will count the seconds till the conversation ends offering little in return for your efforts.  Start a political conversation with a politician and he will be naturally catalytic to continued dialogue - influencing your thoughts with each and every word.  Add to that the high fevers and medicines Colton was being exposed to and the potential for “heightened visionary phenomenon” is fostered.

With that said, God indeed speaks in “visionary language” all throughout Scripture.  Whether speaking through a donkey, in a wrestling match, by placing dew on the ground, on the top of a mountain, or through a witch - He manifests Himself in specific ways for the needs of specific people.  Therefore, I have no problem with God meeting this child in imagery that he could understand … TO point Colton to the fact of His existence, eternity, Christ, and even begin preparing him for something to come in his future. 

This is vital to my heartbeat concerning the book:  Visionary experiences are just that…visionary experiences.  The details are NOT equal with Scripture, NOR to be communicated as practical TRUTHS.  Saul’s conversation with Samuel via the Witch of Endor does not give us permission to build a theology of prayer around utilizing psychic mediums.  If you have read this book and embraced it as a theology of heaven, even accidentally, (and most people who ask me about the book start by celebrating the experiences rather than heaven itself) then I urge you to rethink your excitement.  If you were strangely drawn to Jesus Christ as the sole provider of access to eternal co-existence with the God that created you through the power of the Holy Spirit - then read it again!