Those who follow this blog will know that I often write about the topic of heaven and eternity.

In fact, the entire focus of this blog in October 2013 was Defining Home in 31 Days — specifically, how we can elevate heaven in our minds when we think about ‘home.’

So when I saw that a new book called Between Heaven and Earth: Finding Hope, Courage and Passion through a Fresh Vision of Heaven was available from Bethany House, I requested a free copy in exchange for a review.

Since I’ve done so much reading and research about the topic, I found that this particular book had a lot of overlap with topics and issues I’ve addressed in my own writing, including heaven as our home and heaven as our hope.

Pastor Steve Berger’s main premise could basically be summed up by what Jesus named as the greatest commandments — to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Through loving God and loving other people, Berger says, we will “have our hearts in heaven, and our hands in the harvest.”

The most powerful aspect of this work, to me, was the personal testimony of the author himself.

Steve Berger and his wife have lived through a profound and heart-wrenching tragedy in the death of their son, who died on his nineteenth birthday from injuries sustained in a one-person car crash.

Learning the details of their agonizing experience and then reading how their passion for heaven and eternity has been renewed and invigorated is inspirational.  It would be easy for people in that situation to turn their backs on God as a result of deep anger and resentment.  However, through the grace of God, the Berger family has been enabled to increase their praise, giving glory to God for His sacrifice in Christ, and for the hope of heaven.

In his book, Berger writes about the believer’s tension between desiring to be with Christ in glory, and the desire to remain on earth to continue His work.  He urges believing readers to see that when one’s heart is truly wrapped up in heaven, one’s hands will be active in the harvest, serving and proclaiming the gospel to a lost and needy world.

Berger addresses the question, “What are some factors that keep us from effectively having our ‘hand in the harvest’?”

Some hindrances addressed by the author in response to this question are: a lack of vision and compassion, procrastination, discomfort, mistaken priorities, selfishness, and fear.

He also accurately assesses, “…there is a shortage of laborers because we’re not seeing the real spiritual condition of the multitudes.” (p. 125)

He then goes on to emphasize that if we’re going to make an impact with our hands in the harvest, we need to be prepared, just as Phillip was prepared in his response to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8.

“When we’re going to serve with our hands in the harvest, we need to be equipped — we need the Word in us and we need to be in the Word”(p. 137).  In other words, “We can’t give away what we don’t know” (p. 144).

Berger urges readers to spend time delving into the Scriptures and hiding God’s Word in our hearts, as His truth is the tool that will equip us to respond and minister to the harvest.

Two chapters which I did not entirely agree with were Chapter 6, ‘What Will We Do in Heaven?’ and Chapter 9, ‘The Power of the Holy Spirit.’  For further explanation, please feel free to contact me.

The chapter that resonated with me most was Chapter 7, ‘Heaven is for Healing.’  It always brings me joy and comfort to be reminded that there will be no more aching in heaven.

If I had to rate this book, I would probably give it three out of five stars.  While the content was orderly and understandable, I found the style of writing to be somewhat lackluster and repetitive for my personal taste.

However, after writing this post, a friend directed me to a radio interview with the author, aired on Moody Radio.  I listened and found the show to be very encouraging, particularly Steve Berger’s expressed passion for eternity and for others to desire it as well.  This does come across in the book, but hearing his voice made the emphasis even more evident than the typed lines on the page.

Overall, this book is written with clarity and I trust that it will be an encouragement to many.

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