Family

24 Lessons on Marriage

Today my wife Jennifer and I celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. That’s 757,382,400 seconds, 12,623,040 minutes, 210,384 hours, 1,252 weeks or 8,766 days of being married to my best friend!

I remember, Saturday, May 15, 1993 like it was yesterday! I remember my groomsmen gathering at Lyon’s for breakfast! I remember my eyes tearing up as my beautiful bride Jennifer walked down the isle. I remember stopping by Kaiser in Vallejo to get a prescription for birth control, before we hopped on a plane for Hawaii the next day. I remember watching the sunset as we ate our first meal as husband and wife at the Moss Beach Distillery. It was the beginning of a spectacular journey that has almost spanned a quarter of a century.

We had no idea what the future held for us on that day. But we said we would love and cherish each other for richer and poorer, in good times and bad; and we knew that as long as we had God and each other, we would have enough. And through all of life’s surprises and challenges, its hard fought lessons and its moments of sweetness, we have stayed true to each other and our vows by God’s grace.

So to honor our many years together, here are 24 lessons I’ve found most valuable in our marriage:

  1. Marriage takes work. You can’t just cruise into idle after the wedding date. Each season, with its challenges and opportunities, is an opportunity to trust God, grow in His likeness and cling to each other.
  2. God is the only One who can fulfill us at every level. It’s unfair to expect my spouse to be my all-in-all. Therefore, it’s important to surround ourselves with other friends, who will encourage us on the journey.
  3. You cannot change each other. And you cannot change yourself either. God is the One who changes and transforms us.
  4. My spouse is my most important ministry. Period.
  5. Love is an action, not an emotion. The greatest and most challenging definition of marital love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
  6. Play together. Participating in an activity or hobby together will bring you closer together. Over the years Jen and I have taken country western dance lessons, played golf together, and watched many of a San Francisco Giants game together! These moments are priceless.
  7. It’s about the simple things. Over the years, some of the best times Jen and I have had are when we simply took a walk on the beach, watched a movie on Netflix, or did the dishes together.
  8. Opposites attract. Remember all those things you loved about your spouse when you were dating? Well those are same things that drive us crazy when we’re married. We simply get attracted to the opposite of us. And I believe it is part of God’s design.
  9. Listen to your wife. Don’t offer advice! Be empathetic and meet emotion with emotion. As it says in Romans 12:15, “rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.”
  10. Pray together. Nothing has brought Jennifer and I closer together than praying to God together! We are the closest, when we pursue God together.
  11. Non-sexual touches lead to great intimacy in the bedroom. Perhaps that is too much information here, but it took me awhile to learn this lesson. Men are like microwaves. Women are like crockpots. Understanding each others need in this area will go a long way.
  12. Date your mate. For Jennifer and I, much of our time on date nights are talking about our kid, but it’s important to spend time dating. Do the things you enjoy, without the kids.
  13. Take family vacations. These create treasured memories for your kids. Every year for the last 24 years, minus a year or two, we have taken an annual camping trip to Plumas Eureka State Park! And every year, we spend some time on one of the hikes, recalling God’s faithfulness to our family. The place holds treasured memories for our family. And in doing this each year we’ve created family traditions.
  14. Capture memories! I am the photographer in the family, and over the last 24 years I’ve captured over 25,000 pictures of our family. That’s almost 1,000 per year. But it’s so fun to look back on all the fun we’ve had as a family. In addition, Jennifer has placed pictures in our house in strategic places to remind us of God’s faithfulness to our family.
  15. Children change everything. Adjusting to parenthood is hard but rewarding. And just when you think you’ve figured it out, you enter into a new phase of parenting, which keeps you humble and dependent on Jesus!
  16. Marriage thrives best in community. Being a part of a married small group over the years has brought us great blessing. In fact, it was the prayers of our small group that God honored by giving us the biggest blessing of all, our son Zach, after years of struggling with infertility.
  17. Marriage is not a 50%-50% give and take. It is 100%-100%. The love that we’re supposed to show our spouse every day is unconditional, sacrificial love. This is what Paul states in Ephesians 5:1-2, “be imitators…and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
  18. A good marriage takes two good forgivers. It’s important to keep short accounts in marriage and resolve conflict in a productive way that leads to greater intimacy.
  19. Speak words of life. Intimacy is about being fully known and loved. Therefore, we need to learn to express our needs, wants and desires, in order to allow our spouse to understand and respond. Your spouse also needs to hear words of encouragement. They need to know that you appreciate them.
  20. Love your spouse according to their love language. I learned this one early on in our marriage. I was doing all these things around the house to show Jennifer I loved her. Then one day, she called me out, stating I was doing all those things for me. That was the last time I ever did anything around the house and she regrets ever saying that. Seriously, there are 5 Love Languages: 1) time; 2) gifts; 3) service; 4) touch; and 5) words of affirmation. Jennifer’s love language is time! And it’s not quality time; it’s lots of time.
  21. Don’t have a television in your bedroom. This came as advice from the pastor who did our pre-marital counseling. We’ve honored it since; and we’re so glad we did.
  22. Keep a budget. The most important step to achieving financial success in your marriage is to make a budget. Put simply, a budget allows you to tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
  23. Turn off your phone. The simple act of turning off your phone can go a long way toward growing closer. Just put it down & concentrate on being together.
  24. Take time to laugh. Most couples spend the majority of their time talking logistics: who’s doing the grocery shopping, which one is calling the repairman, who’s picking up the kids. A relationship is more than logistics, so have a pillow fight instead!

20 Things I Learned from My Mom

In honor of my mom this Mother’s Day, I wanted to share some of the life lessons I learned from her, either by her words or by her example…

  1. Believe in yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to.
  2. Don’t expect things to be handed to you. Work for them.
  3. Don’t give up. When you encounter roadblocks or hurdles, figure it out and move on.
  4. Keep your commitments. If you say you’re going to do something – do it.
  5. As long as you try your best in everything you do, you’ll never fail.
  6. Be respectful to those around you.
  7. Education is worth pursuing. Plan and save for it.
  8. Work smarter, not harder. Do it right the first time.
  9. Spring cleaning is good. Don’t hang onto junk, throw it out.
  10. Age is a state of mind.
  11. Be responsible with your money. It doesn’t grow on trees. (Okay, maybe I heard that one from my dad!)
  12. Getting organized will help you get the important things done.
  13. Prioritize vacations. Work hard. Play hard.
  14. Try new things. Life should be full of experiences.
  15. It’s important to remember special days in people’s lives.
  16. Be dependable.
  17. Honor family traditions. They’re fun and create memories.
  18. Always send thank you cards!
  19. Take care of the things that matter most.
  20. Stand your ground. Sometimes it’s okay to go out and play, even though you didn’t eat your liver!”😀

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! Thanks for who you are, all you do and everything you’ve taught me. I love you!

Flourish in Relationship

relationshipsGod made us to flourish! And as God’s created handiwork, we are made to flourish with him and with others in relationship. Therefore, in order to become God’s best version of ourselves, we need to be connected with others, specifically seeking to build and cling to these four important relationships in our lives:

God…

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” In this passage, Jesus tells us that there is no other relationship of greater importance; there is no aspect of life any more important, than to know and to be in relationship with God. A healthy relationship with the Creator and a willingness to allow God’s Word to guide our actions, activities, and govern how we act towards others will allow us to experience the promise of this verse.

In my life, none of my other relationships work well if my relationship with God is out of whack. I can tell when I have neglected time with Jesus, as I get weary, become less patient and less present with others. And sadly this state of mind rubs off into my relationships with my wife, my son and with those I work with. But as I seek first God’s kingdom, and prioritize my relationship with Him, everything goes much better, as I experience His presence and power!

Friends…

Everybody needs a few close friends they can laugh with, cry with, have fun with, or do life with. And there is such power in connectedness. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us that, “Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together. If one falls down, the other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help.”

Zig Ziglar used to tell a story about how Belgian horses are trained to work together—and how it made these incredible animals so much more effective. Belgian horses are huge, powerful animals. In fact, one Belgian can pull more than 8,000 pounds. That’s one strong horse! But the amazing thing is that if you put two Belgian horses together, who are strangers, they don’t just double the amount they can pull; they actually triple it to 24,000 pounds. And if you spend some time training them to work together, that unified pair can pull a whopping 32,000 pounds. That’s four times what a single horse can do alone!

That story reminds me that connections are powerful. And just as Solomon reminds us, people need healthy relationships to win at life, too.

Wise Counselors…

Life can present us with challenges and decisions that are not easy to make on our own. We may pray about the situation and read God’s Word for guidance, but could still feel confused and uncertain about the direction we should take. It’s in these times, that it can be helpful to seek the counsel of other wise and godly people.

I believe that everyone needs a mentor in his or her life. To cultivate a relationship with those who have already been where we are or who are a little further along on the journey. A wise counselor is someone in which you can bounce ideas off of, gain wisdom and get perspective from.

Proverbs 15:22 states, “Plans fail without good advice, but they succeed with the advice of many others.” Seeking wise counsel is a sign of maturity and humility and some of the most successful people in life have surrounded themselves with wise counselors.

As a pastor, I have come into contact with many great Christian leaders like Bill Hybels, Phil Vischer, Dave Ramsey, and Rick Warren, and what strikes me about their leadership is that they are always asking questions. In my conversations with these men, they don’t seek to impart with me their wisdom; they seek wisdom by asking lots of questions. And I believe it’s this humility and perspective on life that God blesses.

A Close Confidant…

Finally, I believe we all need a trusted friend who you not only enjoy being with, but who speaks truth into your life and with whom you feel safe enough to be real.

Jesus called twelve guys to do life with him, but within his circle of twelve, he had an inner circle of three comprised of Peter, James, and John. These were his closest friends and confidants. And in following Jesus’ example, we need to circle ourselves with a few people that truly know our story, our struggles, our insecurities and our fears.

It’s these types of friendships that shape who we become and truly affect where we go! Having these sorts of relationships will not only help us run the race that God has called us to, but will also help us to experience joy and encouragement along the way.

Yes, life is all about relationships! So get connected, start taking some risks to be vulnerable and get connected by pursuing these relationships in your life. Until next time…

Post written as a contributor for Principles to Live By

Best of 2016

the-best-2016Wow, what a year 2016 turned out to be! From setbacks to comebacks, 2016 was a mixed bag of emotions, where we saw God work in remarkable ways.

This past week, while traveling to San Francisco, Jennifer, Zach, I recalled some of our most favorite times together as a family and here is a recap of our Best of 2016.

Best Dining Experience –
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch

We’re a bunch of foodies, so we headed to Saint Helena after my grandma’s memorial to enjoy some fried chicken in her memory. My grandma made some of the best friend chicken this side of the Mississippi and Farmsteads take on this classic meal did not disappoint.

Honorable Mentions: The Place in Roseville, The Monkey Pod in Maui

Best Day Trip – Pinnacles National Park
I can’t tell you how many times I have driven through the city of Soledad, especially on my way to and from Santa Barbara on Highway 101 back in my college days. And I never realized that their was such a treasure known as Pinnacles National Park just miles from the freeway. Our family enjoyed a wonderful spring day hiking the trails, exploring caves and taking in God’s beautiful creation.

Best Hike – Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls had plenty of water flowing through it this summer, which made this hike all the more enjoyable as we got to experience moments of replenishment from the mist of the falls. It was a glorious day as we enjoyed distant views of Half Dome and a bird’s eye view of Yosemite Valley.

Best Movie – Rogue One
Zach and I saw a bunch of movies this year, but Rogue One clearly lead the pack! The ending of Rogue One might just be the best movie sequence ever. And for this kid, who saw his first Star Wars movie back in 1977, the story line fit into the larger sequence of Star Wars events and rounded out the story in an amazing way.

Best Vacation – Hawaii
We took time in November to celebrate all our birthdays on the island of Maui during Thanksgiving week! We enjoyed a wonderful time hiking, snorkeling and spending time with family.

Best Sermon – Albert Tate: VIP – Jesus and the After Party
While we heard some amazing messages from some fabulous commuicators at Bayside @ Adventure, our hands down favorite was Albert Tate’s retelling of Jesus and the Samaritan women from John 4. Albert brought it home with a great blend of humor and hard hitting application. To watch Albert’s message online, click here.

Best Live Show – Oklahoma 
We saw several shows and concerts this year, but throughly enjoyed William Jessup’s production of Oklahoma this past spring. William Jessup is doing some marvelous work in their theatre arts program and its fun to see some of the college kids we know singing and dancing their hearts out.

Best Wedding – Chris Hardwick & Lydia Hearst’s Wedding
Having officiated several weddings this year, this one took the cake. Outside of the celebrities we saw, it was the largest gathering of the Hardwick clan in some time. A wonderful evening with lots of fun surprises. Harpers Bazaar touted it as one of the Top 10 celebrity weddings of 2016. We also enjoyed our first ever Blue Star Donuts, which we hail as the best donuts in the world!

Best Sporting Event – Zach’s Championship Game
While we took in several San Francisco Giants games this year, our favorite event by far was seeing Zach’s basketball team from Adventure Christian School go undefeated in 2016 and take home the championship trophy!

Favorite Overall Memory – Zach’s 8th Grade Graduation
It was wonderful having all our family together to celebrate Zach’s graduation from Adventure Christian School. Afterwards, we enjoyed time together at our home eating some of Zach’s favorite foods and playing some of his favorite games.

It was truly a year to remember. Looking forward to 2017! Happy New Year!

In Memoriam 2015

InMemoriamHere’s my tribute to some of the influential people in my life who passed on in 2015…

Al Ladendorff – One of my favorite teachers, Al Ladendorff, died March 20 at the age of 93. At Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, Calif., he was known as “Big Al.” He was actually my mom’s government teacher back in the 60’s, and later became my American history and government teacher, as well as my yearbook adviser for two years in the 80’s! A rare gem in the educational system, he was the first teacher who really taught me to think for myself, as well as to believe in myself. Although he frustrated me at times, Mr. Ladendorff never let me settle for mediocre. And whether in a government paper or in an article for the yearbook, he kept pushing me towards excellence. One of Mr. Ladendorff’s favorite axioms that has stuck with me all these years is a quote from George Santayana, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.” Over the years, that axiom has proven to offer me a lot of wisdom on life and in ministry. Upon graduating, I continued to stay in touch with Big Al and his wife Zelma, and enjoyed reading his annual Christmas letters about life in Modesto, his gardening adventures and his thoughts about modern culture. I owe a great deal of gratitude to this man and I am so thankful for his input and encouragement in my life so many years ago.

Charles Simmons Warfield – My father in law Chuck Warfield, suddenly passed on December 2 at the age of 84, due to complications with pneumonia. A devoted husband, loving father and wonderful grandfather to 16 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren, Chuck was one of the most giving men I have ever met. I met Chuck when I started dating his daughter Jennifer back in 1991. A well-loved school principal in the Dixie School District of Marin County, Chuck was already retired when we met and was beginning to pursue questions about faith. And in response to the prayers of his family, he committed his life to Jesus before Jennifer and I got married in 1993. A humble man, Chuck truly reflected Christ’s character, conduct and commitments and often sacrificed his own comforts in order to give to those he loved. As a woodworker, he would see a need and over the years responded to those needs by building us an armoire, bed side table, secretary’s desk (no small feat) as well as an entertainment center. He also helped us build an overhang and put in our french drains in our first home in Woodland. He loved his family and welcomed me with open arms, treating me as one of his own. And over the last 22+ years, he taught me so much about loving God, loving family and enjoying the simple things. I am truly going to miss this man in my life.

Vonette Bright – Vonette Bright, who with her husband Bill, co-founded Campus Crusade for Christ at UCLA in 1951 and built it into one of the world’s largest Christian ministries in the world, passed on December 23. 89 years young, Vonette and her husband Bill were very influential in my life as a student at UC Santa Barbara and later as a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ (1988-1992). I remember first encountering Vonette through my involvement with Expo 1985 and later would be able to spend the summer of 1988 with the Bright’s as they shared their heart and vision for the Great Commission at our staff training at Arrowhead Springs in San Bernardino. She always had a contagious smile, a warm presence and a sincere faith. A great partner with her husband Bill, she was a woman of prayer and inspired us to men and women of prayer, who loved Jesus deeply. Her deep faith was an inspiration to me and I am thankful for the ministry that she and Bill started, as Cru laid a deep foundation of faith for my life and shaped much of my philosophy of ministry. I will forever be thankful for the Brights and how they beautifully reflected Jesus’ heart and passion for the lost.

Hebrews 13:7 tells us to “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Each of these men and women challenged me to live differently and I pray I continue to imitate their faith. I am so thankful that God used these men and women to ignite the God honoring passions and desires of my heart.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Thanksgiving IstanbulPraise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

Dear heavenly Father, we join King David, on this Thanksgiving Day, in rehearsing just a few of the multiplied reasons why we love being your children—why we love being loved by you. By your Holy Spirit, free us over the course of these next several hours to abound in gratitude and overflow with thanksgiving, that we might offer you the heart-filled praise of which you alone are worthy.

Father, here are a just a few of the way-too-easy-to-forget benefits that you give us so richly and fully in Christ:

We praise you for being the God who forgives all of our sins. Because of what you’ve done for us in Jesus, all of our sins—past, present and future—sins by our words, thoughts and deeds, all of them have been forgiven. When we trusted Jesus, you didn’t give us a clean slate and a second chance at life; you gave us a new heart and your robed us in Jesus’ perfect righteousness. Hallelujah, for such a standing in grace!

We praise you for being the God who heals all our diseases. Everything about us is broken—everything about us bears the effects of sin and death, but you are the God who is making all things new through Jesus—all things. In this life, the healing journey has begun—a story with a guaranteed ending of whole-being health—in body, heart and soul. We will be healthy forever! Hallelujah, for such a living hope!

We praise you for being the God who redeems our lives from all kinds of “pits”—from the pits into which we have aimlessly fallen in life; from the ones into which we are thrown by our enemies; and from the ones into which we foolishly jump. Nothing will ever separate us from your sovereign and sufficient grace.  Hallelujah, your name is Redeemer!

We praise you for crowing us with love and compassion. You have taken our garland of guilt and shame and have crowned us with the victory of your beloved Son, Jesus. He has triumphed over sin and death for us. Hallelujah, your banner over us is love and your rejoicing over us is loud!

We praise you for satisfying our desires with good things—partially in this life, and fully in the life to come. You freely give us all things to enjoy, and to share with others. May that be evidenced today, as we gather as family and friends—all in need of your daily mercies and steadfast love. Hallelujah, for intending our joy and for renewing our strength! May everything within us bless you holy and grace-filled name! So very Amen we pray, with gratitude and hope, in Jesus’ name.

Courageous Conversations

This past weekend, I had the honor and privilege of speaking at SunHills Church, in El Dorado Hills. I spoke out of 2 Samuel 11, unpacking the story of David and Bathsheba and how this story could have had a different outcome, if some folks in the story, including David, would have had some courageous conversations. I invite you to have a listen…

The Early Heroes

indexThis is part of a series, celebrating those who have cheered me on in the race…

What motivates someone to invest in the life of a teenager? It certainly can’t be a paycheck, as teachers and youth pastors are some of the most underpaid workers in the marketplace. There has to be something of greater significance and purpose for these unsung heroes who give sacrificially to make an investment in the life of a teenager.

For those early “heroes” in my journey of faith, I believe it was their love for God and love for others that motivated them to make an investment in me. Now, at the time, I had no realization what they were doing, but through their investment of time and friendship, they served to lay a solid foundation of faith on which I was able to build upon in my life.

As a teenager, I was incredibly blessed to be part of one of the largest youth programs of its day, Campus After Dark. It had an incredible presence on the local high school campuses and an incredible bunch of youth interns and workers. The youth staff was fun, well liked and cool! We played wacky games, learned about God and served our community. And in my humble opinion, we had one of the best youth pastors in the nation, Mike Maples.

Through Campus After Dark, I learned about character, leadership and life. But it was the relationships that I formed that helped those spiritual truths become reality, as they lived the Christian life in front of me. Two of those stand outs were, Dennis Bennett and Dan McElroy. While I can’t pinpoint the first time I met these guys, they shaped my view of God and their encouragement helped me through the difficult teen years. They took a genuine interest in me. One that went beyond the confines of our youth program. They shared their struggles, their ambitions and what they were learning as a follower of Jesus. They also took me to ballgames, concerts and bought me pizza!

I remember one night when Dennis and I went to a San Francisco Giants game at Candlestick Park. It went extra innings and we got the “Croix de Candlestick” button at the conclusion of the game. As a teenager, that was pretty cool, especially given that it was a school night. Dennis and I also played racquetball together. Those moments of fun, allowed me to hear truth from Dennis, because I knew he wanted the best for me. So when the hard conversations came, I listened, especially when he spoke from his own experience.

It was Dan’s eclectic taste in music that connected us together. But his influence went far beyond music and I will never forget a talk we had right before I headed off to college. His “make it or break it” talk motivated me to go the distance in my Christian faith. In fact, since that talk, the number one hope for my life has been to “finish well” the race that God has called me to. But the immediate application of that talk, was to plug into a church and a Christian group at UC Santa Barbara as soon as I got there. That advice served me well in college, but Dan also made sure I stayed the course in college, often checking in with me, sending me money for pizza and praying for me behind the scenes.

So what’s the purpose in all this? First, it’s an expression of gratitude from a grateful heart and a way to say thanks to God and to those he put in my life. Secondly, it’s a reminder that the Christian life is one that is given away. It is meant to be shared with others. This was Jesus’ exhortation in Matthew 28:18-20 when he told us to “go and make disciples of all men” and Paul’s expression in 2 Timothy 2:2, when he told Timothy, “the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” Finally, it’s my way of recalling God’s faithfulness in my life, as I recall His goodness in the land of the living.

So, Dan and Dennis, thank you for making a difference in my life! I am grateful for your influence and for being among the “cloud of witnesses” in my life.

Remembering Sandra

Charles & Sandra Capitol Hill 1It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since God, in His infinite wisdom, took our dear friend Sandra, to go and be with Him. At the age of 42, Sandra left behind her husband Charles and their three boys, Michael, Matthew and Christian, after a three-year battle with ALS.

ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease is a terrible disease that attacks brain cells called motor neurons. As the motor neurons are attacked, a person with ALS loses the ability to walk, move, speak and eventually breathe. And there is no known cure. In her early stages with ALS, we didn’t know what was happening to Sandra. All we knew was that something wasn’t right as she found herself beginning to lose the ability to do normal things for no apparent reason. We prayed for miracles, she sought medical advance, she tried acupuncture, but nothing seemed to work. When she was officially diagnosed with ALS, we stood in disbelief, not really understanding the implications of it all. And while God choose not to heal Sandra, this side of heaven, He did answer so many of our prayers along the way.

Through her battle with ALS, Sandra remained strong. Her faith in God was unwavering. She inspired us all. And in the end, she gave us an example of what it means to finish the race of life well.

Sandra was one of the most generous persons I’ve ever met. And today, I find myself reflecting on her life, her faith, her courage, as well as on her love for God and family. She is missed by so many. But we all rejoice knowing that this life is not the end and that one day we will see her again.

Today, I pray for my buddy Charles, who carries on her memory and legacy to their boys, but who also grieves his wife’s absence on the one year anniversary of her passing. If you would like to get a glimpse of this incredible woman, I encourage you to watch her memorial service below. You can also hear my remarks about 40 minutes into the service.

Heaven is For Real Movie Review

MV5BNjc3MzYzMTUzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTYzNzI2MDE@._V1_SX214_I just returned from having the opportunity to see an advance screening of the movie, Heaven is for Real, which releases nationally on Wednesday, April 16. In case you missed the book’s national prominence, Heaven is for Real, is the true story of a four-year old boy named Colton, who experiences heaven during an emergency surgery. After his near death experience, Colton talks about looking down to see the doctor operating on him and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family doesn’t know what to believe about Colton’s experience, so they doubt, but soon the evidence is clear.

Having not read the book, I didn’t know what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised. Overall, I felt that the film delivered an entertaining, moving and inspirational perspective on the topic of heaven. In fact, I would say it was probably one of the most professionally done “faith-based” movies I have ever seen. The cast is solid, the acting stellar, and Connor Corum, the 4-year-old boy who plays Colton, is simply adorable. In addition, Greg Kinnear turns in a very emotional performance as Todd Burpo, the father/pastor who is faced with whether or not to believe his son’s account of “Heaven.”

While I appreciated the authentic portrayal of a pastor who struggled with doubts, how to pay the bills, and his own sense of pride, I did feel that the producers muddled the message about heaven, most likely to make it easier for the non-Christian community to swallow. However I will say this, there was no compromising of the message that heaven is the place where Jesus resides!

Although I did have some issues with the film, I believe that the film will serve as a great conversation starter to get people talking about God, heaven and the afterlife. And that’s what director Randall Wallace and the producers likely had in mind. I also believe that the movie can prove to be very healing and hopeful for those who’ve experienced loss and need to be reminded of the fact that heaven IS for real! Therefore, I would encourage you to go and see it.

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