Monday, January 18, 2010

HEAVEN IS REAL by Don Piper and Cecil Murphey

Heaven Is Real is Don Piper and Cecil Murphey’s 2007 follow-up to Piper’s 2004 book 90 Minutes in Heaven, wherein Piper recounted his death, experience in heaven, resuscitation, and arduous recovery.

In this book, the authors share many stories of other people who have faced traumatic adversity – deaths, suicides, divorces, cripplings, and so forth. Piper encourages such people to seek out the “new normal” – that is, to accept that the old life is gone and to accept the new paradigm and to move forward. A key biblical text, one that Piper quotes, is Job 2:10: “Should we accept the good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”

Heaven Is Real, like 90 Minutes in Heaven, is mistitled (why they didn’t go ahead and title it The New Normal is beyond me). The book’s subtitle – “Lessons on earthly joy” – is more to the point. Piper’s primary focus is on overcoming adversity in order to have a better life here, and about putting aside the bitterness and despair that accompany suffering.

Piper is humble, practical, and understanding, which does wonders for the book’s accessibility. Unfortunately, the book is verbose and repetitive. Worse, it’s often redundant with 90 Minutes in Heaven, and readers who have that book fresh in their minds may well find themselves doing quite a bit of skimming here.

If you’ve already read 90 Minutes in Heaven and you aren’t suffering from despair or a horrific lifestyle change, Heaven Is Real isn’t going to bring much to the table that you haven’t seen before. But this book was written for those who have experienced great adversity, like Piper did, and to them this book is recommended.