Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent (Thomas Nelson)
Colton Burpo survived a badly ruptured appendix. The story of his visit to heaven inspired Heaven is for Real—currently No. 1 on the list of top-10 nonfiction books.
Colton's father, Todd Burpo, is a small-town pastor in western Nebraska. He tells the story that began in 2003, with Colton near death after going from one hospital to another. Todd and Sonja Burpo waited in agony for the outcome of their son's emergency surgery. But the harrowing time turned into a source of hope for many.
Christians already should believe heaven is real. But believing and seeing are different things. Standing on a precipice to view the Grand Canyon beats anything we might read about it. Colton spoke of sitting in Jesus' lap in heaven and seeing many others there. He reported things he couldn't have known at his age. His words made his parents take a closer look at Bible verses they already knew. The Scriptures confirmed Colton's remarks as valid.
Heaven is for Real won't provide the answer to why God would allow anyone to visit heaven. But this account of a young boy's experience will supply evidence to believe God does allow it.
Praying The News by Wendy Griffith and Craig Von Buseck (Regal)
Praying the News by Wendy Griffith and Craig Von Buseck of CBN News will cause a Christian to see the news as an opportunity to join God through prayer. This connection will bring a new focus on the news we see and the power of prayer God has given us as his children.
Griffith and Von Buseck use Isaiah 62:6-7 as a reminder that God has placed Christians as "watchmen on the walls" who will pray day and night, continually. The news reflects what is happening in our world. Where is God in all of this? What about the people who are the subjects of the news? What are their needs?
The authors provide great illustrations of the power of prayer relating to the news. They write about a prayer meeting led by Reese Howells of the Bible College of Wales resulting in saving 338,000 British troops who were trapped in the English Channel. That prayer meeting is credited in causing delays by the enemy that resulted in a miraculous escape of the trapped troops.
Praying the News presents a fresh challenge to pray. It gives a spiritual purpose for the news as an opportunity for praying people to join with God in what is happening in the world. I urge you to prayerfully read and put into practice Praying the News.
Leo Smith, retired executive director
Texas Baptist Men
The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall (WaterBrook Press)
The Harvest of Grace is the third in Christy finalist Cindy Woodsmall's Ada's House series. Set among Old Order Amish, the writer weaves her plots around the widow's bakery and gift shop. Fortunately, Woodsmall includes "the story so far" and a character chart for those who haven't read the first two "bonnet romances."
Sylvia Fisher loves her family's dairy farm. As the eldest of nine daughters, she learned the business at her late grandfather's side. The 22-year-old successfully tends the herd and dreams of running the farm. Instead, her father and her suitor strike a business deal before the proposal. When Sylvia hesitates, Elam secretly courts and marries her sister. A dangerous encounter leads Sylvia to leave. She puts her heart into saving another family's failing farm and becomes like the Blank's daughter. After completing rehab, their only child, Aaron, returns determined to get his parents to sell. Soon sparks fly that threaten Sylvia's dreams and Aaron's future.
The best-selling author writes with authenticity and respect born of personal relationships with Amish families. In The Harvest of Grace, she delicately demonstrates that no one is immune to addiction, jealousy and desire, and everyone needs forgiveness, love and grace.
Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president
Woman's Missionary Union of Texas, Waco