I'm sure that everyone who reads this has heard about the book "Heaven is for Real" which was published just a couple of years ago. It records the story of Colton Burpo who claimed to have made a trip to heaven during a surgery for an appendectomy when he was 4 years old. During the months and years following he told many stories of things he said he had seen in heaven.
Well, now the book has been made into a movie that is currently showing at theaters all across North America. It is being hailed by many who claim to be evangelicals as a "must see" event. I have not seen the movie, nor have I read the book, but I am deeply troubled by all of the hoopla about this book.
First of all, I have read and seen enough about the book to know that much of what is recorded about heaven not only goes far beyond what the Bible tells us about heaven, but much of it is directly contrary to what the Bible says about what heaven is like. John MacArthur points out that this book, as do many others like it, focus mainly on trivial, fanciful accounts of angels and wings and such things, and say very little about the glory of God. The Biblical accounts of heaven, recorded by Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the Apostle John are focused almost entirely on the glory, majesty and worship of God, not things like sitting on Jesus knee, listening to angels singing.
Another troubling aspect about this whole concept is that in the Bible there is no record of anyone who died and came back to life ever telling what he had seen or experienced on the other side of death. In fact, the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 records the fact of his own death or near-death experience, yet says he saw things which were not permitted to be told. Yet today we have an abundance of people wanting to tell their fanciful stories of their visit to heaven. And the sad thing is that Christians are accepting these stories as truth.
I strongly recommend a few blog posts from John MacArthur's website to get a more thorough treatment of this subject:
The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine - October 18, 2012 - http://www.gty.org/Blog/B121018
Heaven Is Real; Hallucinations Are Not - April 28, 2014 - http://www.gty.org/Blog/B140428
Dead Men Tell No Tales - April 29, 2014 - http://www.gty.org/blog/B140429
"Irreplaceable" is a documentary film about the family that was produced by Focus on the Family. It chronicles the journey of one man in search of answers to the question, "What is wrong with the family?" It is an amazing film that will be showing in select theaters across Canada on one night only, Wednesday, May 6.
Val and I had the opportunity to preview this production online this evening. What a challenge it was to me. It is, first of all, a wonderful defense of the family. As Tim, the producer of the film, travels and meets with people, they give testimony to the harm that has been caused by so many of the social issues in our world--divorce, abortion, absentee fathers, single parent homes, and many others. They point out the value of the family unit--a unit consisting of a father and mother who are married and love each other, and children who feel loved and respected.
But more than all of that, what challenged me the most was the importance of fathers to the life of a family. Watching this production made me realize how far short I have come in my role as a father. Any success anyone may see in my family is due to the grace of God, not my expertise or ability as a father.
We live in a world which has lost sight of the value of the traditional family. Many see this movie as an affront, because they have a determined agenda to change society from what it once was. But the truth is that the family is the oldest institution on this planet. It was established by God in the Garden of Eden. And the further we move from God's design for the family, the more problems we will face as a society.
If you have the opportunity to see this movie, I encourage you to do so. It is showing at the Galaxy Cinema in Red Deer on Wednesday, May 6, at 7:30 PM - one showing only. You will be challenged.
Gordon Rowland has been a Missionary-Pastor with Village Missions of Canada for over 35 years. Gordon and his wife Val have lived and served in Clive since 2001. They have four children and nine wonderful grandchildren.