Heaven Is For Real

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit a part of the country I never thought I would see. Imperial, Nebraska.

I spent the day with the Burpo family. Todd Burpo is the author of the crazy successful book, Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, as well as the pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church there in Imperial. If you haven’t read it, it’s an amazing story about his son Colton, (pictured below), who at the age of 4 through a near death experience comes back with an amazing and heartwarming story about visiting Heaven.

Heaven Is For Real has been the number 1 book on the New York Times Best Seller’s list the past 19 weeks.

It’s simply amazing how many of my preconceived (and quite honestly unbiblical) notions about eternity were questioned after spending the day with a now 11-year-old who has such a vivid picture of what Heaven is like.

I spent the day with them as I’m studying for a new series we’re launching at Cross Point in a few weeks entitled “Glimpse: Exploring heaven, hell and what’s to come.”

I’m really looking forward to this series and would love to hear any questions or thoughts you may have about eternity.

What’s a question you’ve always had about eternity but were maybe too scared to ask?

Have you read this book? Any Thoughts?


70 Responses to “Heaven Is For Real”

  1. Rob Rash says:

    I’ll have to check that book out, thanks Pete!

    A common misconception about heaven is that we’ll all be dressed in robes, playing harps, and singing the same chorus over and over… (sorry if this is describing your current worship environment!)

    Thinking about heaven has given me many sleepless nights. How can mortal, finite people possibly imagine what the immortal and infinite dwelling place of God could be like?

    I guess personally, I have to rest in the goodness of God. But I do hope I can FLY!

  2. A friend of mine just lent me the book–I’m anxious to start it–I’ve heard TONS of good things about it! Really looking forward to the new series too!

    Sooooooo…do you think Heaven is in the clouds? I know that is probably a child’s image, but I can’t help, every time I’m on a plane, looking out at the clouds and hoping to see people walking.

  3. Laughinmomma says:

    Our small group has been reading Radical and we just grappled with the “what happens to those who never hear the word of God, the redemption through Christ, the hope for eternity?” question. While we all firmly believe that Christ is the only way of salvation…we struggled with the verses that speak of all people being able to see the glory and power of
    god through his creation…can eternity come thru that realization??? It was a great
    discussion…but we left with more questions than
    concrete answers.

    We are starting the group Plan B in the fall…it should be a great rise

    • Pete Wilson says:

      I think that Romans 1:20 verse definitely attests to the truth of God’s power being visible in creation. Definitely both a difficult yet amazing scripture. And a sort of built in prayer recommendation for us to intercede on behalf of those whose eyes haven’t yet seen the glory of God that exists all around them. I’m sure those were great discussions you guys had.

      Let me know how the Plan B group goes!

  4. Jenny says:

    I’ve always wondered what my relationship with my husband will be like in heaven.

  5. Heather says:

    I read this book about a month ago, literally in one sittng, I couldnt put it down then I couldnt stop thinking about it and telling everyone who would listen about it. I still cant get over everything that he knew at such a young age. Such an amazing book and so cool to have just a snippet of what it will be like!

  6. Wanda Simpson says:

    I bought this book for my 17 year old for Christmas. She finished it in a day. It has been passed around our church. I finally read it a month ago, and although heaven is the focus, the absolute best part for me was when Colton told his dad, Jesus answered your prayer! It knocked the wind out of me it was so powerful. What joy and hope to have this confirmed! I share this book with anyone who will listen.

  7. Julie R. says:

    I have always wondered about the judgment of the saints? I grew being taught that we will all be seen for who and what we were… if God forgives us and remembers our sin no more, then how does this judgement thing work? Also I have been hearing a lot lately about the idea of universal reconciliation. That hell is not what we have been taught and that the bible teaches that ALL will bow and call Jesus King of Kings and Lord of Lords and that if this is true then doesn’t it stand to reason that no one goes to “hell” as we believe it to be…what is true? How can we know? I listen to your messages on the internet so I’ll be waiting for this series. So excited for you that you met the boy who has seen heaven…I can not wait to read this book.

    • Pete Wilson says:

      You’ll defnintely want to tune in for the series Julie. We’ll take a close look at what God tells us about the afterlife and explore a lot of questions and uncertainties we all struggle with.

  8. Katy Boatman says:

    I love this book as well! I couldn’t put it down. The stories Colton shares from his experience are things that I always wondered about (like seeing family), and reading the book made me even more excited to meet Jesus face to face one day. I can’t believe how popular this book is, but it just comes to show how curious people are about heaven.

    I look forward to the sermon series!

  9. Deborah says:

    Like Jenny above I wonder what my relationship will be like with my husband. Is there marriage in heaven?

    Will we know everyone, but know others more closely?

    Will we remember our lives exactly as they are…pain and joy both, but simply not feel the heartache of pain? (I’d love to remember my whole life, but not feel the ache that goes with some memories.)

  10. Chaplain Roger Burdge says:

    Read it, enjoyed it-wonder if heaven is like beauity, seen in the eyes of the beholder.

  11. Well, I am ecstatic that CP is going to do a series involving discussion of Heaven. I read the book “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn a few years ago and it literally changed my faith and my life. It helped me so much to grasp that Heaven is not just worth living for, it is exciting and it is beyond worth sharing the gospel for. I think that if Christians and all could get a glimpse of Heaven being our home and this earth just being temporary….the scope of what our mission with Christ is becoms a clearer vision – our purpose becomes a little more urgent and our destiny more real. I think if we understood Heaven a little better, we’d toss our bucket lists in the garbage can (or recycling bins) and we would look toward the greatest adventure of all time. Whew…I typed too much. Sorry. It fires me up.

  12. judy says:

    I picked up this book last week while I was in Chapters, and was fascinated. The part that stood out to me was when Colton had said that Jesus had markers on his hands and feet. It gave me goosebumps. There is so much that I don’t get about how the spiritual realm works, but I do believe that in a twinkling of an eye so much can change, you can go from death to life. I try not to think about heaven too much because just the word eternity is a hard concept for me. But I do think about the love of God and I can’t wait to see Jesus (esp. His eyes) when my time here is up. Another thing I have always wondered about was how much the realm of heaven is involved ( the people who have gone before us) with us on earth…..

  13. Jason says:

    I read the book a week ago and it’s been in my mind ever since. Frankly, my notions of what Heaven is like were some parts cool, and some parts “eh.” I know what the Word says, but just have a hard time imagining it. Then, when I read this book, my eyes were opened to some concepts I hadn’t before considered.

    I’m hoping to get to see/hear the series you’re working on – sounds like the Lord is going to open more eyes to and for His glory!!

  14. Paul Stanley says:

    Pete, how exciting! Can’t wait to hear you preach on this subject. I look forward to “knowing” everyone I see in Heaven!

  15. gitz says:

    i read this book and loved it. loved thinking of my dad in this space with Jesus. every part of it made me joyful; i can’t say it changed my belief about anything… i can’t say i ever had real “notions” about heaven like other people do. i couldn’t care less if i have a mansion in heaven or a cottage by the lake, i don’t care what my robe looks like or if my crown has a lot of jewels. don’t get me wrong – i can’t wait to see it all. but i guess if i get to be at the feet of Jesus and be welcomed home by Him, then the rest is just gravy. maybe i should be more interested in those things, i don’t know. all i know is this book just made me even more anxious to fulfill His will in this life and get there.

  16. Cyndi says:

    What wild timing! A very dear friend of mine who lives in Colorado recommended just yesterday that I read the book. Random? Thinking I should listen to the good advice!
    Very excited about the new series! Thanks Pete!

  17. I read the book in one day. Can’t wait to hear about your day with the family – I was truly amazed by his story!

  18. Randy says:

    My wife has read the book and was fascinated by it. I haven’t read it myself. It has certainly stirred up the discussion of eternal matters, which is a good thing. I wouldn’t rely on such a resource to form my understanding of heaven and hell, but I’m glad it has caused many to think about such things.

    In light of recent controversies surrounding the subject, I am anxious to hear/watch your upcoming series. Wish I was local to experience it in person. I’ll have to settle for online, though…and my daughter’s input from her live experience.

    Blessings, brother.

    • Pete Wilson says:

      Thanks man. Definitely a lot of ideas swirling around out there. We’re going to do our best to dig in and gain some understanding. Love that we can have you online and your daughter in person :)

  19. Cass Brannan says:

    I just finished the book last week! It was a great and easy read, but also challenging to my own views of what I thought heaven was like! The thing I was challenged the most about was Colton’s desperation for the lost at the funeral! Wow, if only I could be that passionate about people knowing Jesus every day!

    Wonderfully challenging and eye-opening! Loved the book and looking forward to giving a copy away on my blog!

  20. Lisa Rollins says:

    For me, I’m most interested in what the Bible says specifically about Heaven and death. I feel that so much of what we believe about Heaven and what happens when you die is un-Biblical, and I feel that the Bible isn’t super-specific on many of the details OR that the details that are in the Bible are symbolic and taken literally by contemporary people (literalists) who don’t understand prophetic writings. A sermon series on “What we can know.” seems like it would be really useful. When it comes to the afterlife, I have very specific ideas in my head from my upbringing, but when I’ve revisited them as an adult, I’ve had to accept that there is much we don’t and can’t know. That’s where faith comes in. I’m okay with that.

  21. Maryanne says:

    I haven’t read it yet and can’t wait. Did read 90 Minutes in Heaven and would like to compare and contrast the two. Has anyone read both yet? Also can’t wait to hear how the books compare to the scripture on the subject. Dispel the preconceived notions and find the truth and enjoy the stories of personal experience. Can’t wait for the new series!

  22. Tatum says:

    Now I can’t wait to read this book! It sounds so intriguing. I also cannot wait to watch your new series! I can already feel it in my bones that this is going to be such an eye opening/life changing one.

    A few questions I have about heaven (as childish as they may seem):

    1. Will I know everyone and what will my relationships in Heaven be like?

    2. What will Heaven look like?

    3. What will it be like to see and meet Jesus? I can’t even imagine!

    4. What will we do — work, play, parties, etc.? Are there social classes or order?

    I have to admit, it’s all such a hard concept for me to grasp. I know I have way more questions, but this is already long enough. Guess I need to do some studying…

  23. beth coulton says:

    I’ve gotta get this book! I admit, I’m a real skeptic when it comes to things like this – mere humans having heaven experiences and coming back – but I’m going to read it before I doubt…

  24. DeniseB says:

    Hello Pastor Wilson,
    Yes, I have read “Heaven is for Real” and had several aha moments that overwhelmed me. The most critical one being the fact that Colton agreed with the paintings that Akiane painted as a young child of Jesus; his face, eyes, beard & physical being. My sister gave me Akiane’s book several years ago and her work is amazing & nearly unbelievable that a child could paint such deep, beautiful, spiritual works; especially given she was in a home that did not have a faith in God or Jesus. I cherish my copy of Akiane’s book and often look at the paintings of Jesus, Angels, the Universe, nature and humans in awe and wonder. When the epilogue of “Heaven is For Real” told how Colton finally saw an image that was like the Christ who held him in is lap, and that Akiane depicted his eyes perfectly, I was amazed and filled with emotion. You can guess, I jumped up and grabbed my Akiane book and looked at her paintings of Jesus again. I am thankful that God works through the children to help us adults!

  25. Kelita Deems says:

    I read the book when you tweeted its release awhile back! Loved it! Couldn’t put it down. Here are 2 more suggestions that I recently read on my way to Nashville recently. “Divine Revelation of Heaven” and ‘Divine Revelation of Hell” both by Mary K. Baxter. My pastor mentioned them as he was teaching recently. He had a vision of hell a few years ago that left him crying for 3 days. When he found the above book, he couldn’t put it down because it described EXACTLY what he saw in his vision. The book on Heaven – confirmed a lot of what was in Todd Burpo’s book as well. You know what the Bible says….let everything be established out of the mouths of 2 or 3 witnesses….I believe they are both available in kindle edition too.

  26. Priji says:

    Wow, i’d like to read that book too! My greatest concern about heaven is why didn’t God ordain marriage for eternity?

  27. I have had this book recommended to me a few times but I haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet. I am looking forward to digging into it soon though.

  28. Maybe I need to go visit them … I know the book brings comfort to the family (and many others) but I’m a skeptic when it comes to the experiences recorded in “Heaven is For Real.”

    From all the interviews I watched (and I watched most because I really wanted to believe them) Todd, Sonja and Colton Burpo seem like great people … and we’d have an instant connection if we met. We have the shared experience of going through a traumatic health experience. You see … after receiving severe injuries in an accident seven years ago, I spent about 48 hours hovering between life and death. I have some memories that I could wrap in Heaven language, but I don’t feel comfortable doing so. My body was in a traumatic situation and I was heavily medicated … so why would I trust anything I thought/saw/experienced at that time?

    And Colton was not even 4 when his health trauma happened … 4-years old! When else do we base beliefs/choices/etc. on what a 4-year old says?

    My biggest concerns with the book are the certainty placed in a 4-year old, especially while he was in a traumatic situation. Also all the experiences he had confirmed what the family already believed. What if he had ‘come back’ with new information that would have challenged what they believe or cost them something, such as: if he had said Jesus really does want them to sell everything and give all to the poor?

    I received a book for review from Thomas Nelson and wrote a review here … http://www.janetober.com/2011/04/20/heaven-is-for-real-review/

  29. John Wallace says:

    Loved the book and super stoked for this series.

    Keep up the great work Pete!

  30. Mary says:

    I read the book and was fascinated by what the boy described. I, a Christ follower, however want to stick to just what Jesus said in his word about heaven and hell and anything else written in the book (Bible). I dont want to add to or take away from the Word. I dont doubt he saw and experienced all that he described but I would rather wait until I reach eternity and experience His presence for myself. I look forward to that day!

  31. Nicole Smith says:

    As a single young woman now, I constantly wonder if I’ll have the chance to get married and have babies before Jesus returns, or if I pass before that opportunity arises. But more importantly, if I don’t get that chance here on the earth, I’ve always wondered (and been too ashamed to ask because it seems so petty) if I will have the opportunity to fulfill those dreams & desires in Heaven if not here on Earth.

  32. Dionna says:

    One question I’ve always said I’d ask God when I get to heaven is “How could you have always been?” Hard for a human brain to wrap around the fact that God has always existed. Always. I think in such beginning and end terms.

    As for heaven itself, I probably have a ton of questions but do think some of what Randy Alcorn said in his book make sense. The rest I’ll just have to wait for… :)

  33. What an amazing time you must have had! I loved that book!! I also read it to Kieran and Lily! I have thought of you and Brandi as well as myself and so many other families that have dealt with miscarriages…maybe you do have a daughter in heaven waiting for you…I believe I have one possibly 2 waiting for us…especially after reading this book…curious of your thoughts on this…
    My grandfather had a moment about a week before he passed that he was inbetween, and saw his sisters in heaven and just kept saying it’s so beautiful, no one said it was so beautiful…

    Can’t wait for this next series!!! I can’t wait to hear your sermon’s on all of this!!! Praying that you made is home safe…watching the storms in OKC now!

  34. Vincent Pinson says:

    Discern-o-meter in the shop for repair, Pete? Please don’t push this pap on Believers, bro. Grampa with big wings? Seriously? Everything this poor exploited little boy describes is straight out of bad “Christian” children’s art. His encounter with his sister who was miscarried, about whom he supposedly never knew? Any parent knows that little kids hear and understand a lot more of the content of our adult conversations than we expect. His account of “heaven” doesn’t line up with Scripure, therefore it should be warned against, not promoted and celebrated.

  35. Vincent Pinson says:

    “It’s simply amazing how many of my preconceived (and quite honestly unbiblical) notions about eternity were questioned after spending the day with a now 11-year-old who has such a vivid picture of what Heaven is like.”

    And what exactly did the boy share that provided you a more biblical notion about eternity?

    • Pete Wilson says:

      It’s not that he gave me a more Biblical idea of eternity but he just mentioned things that kind of contradicted preconceived ideas I had about heaven. When I looked them up I realized that they were simply opinions I had created or had been created for me. Not necessarily Biblical.

  36. Ally Garner says:

    I have a question. A few weeks ago our Pastor did a series on Heaven and Hell and he said one thing that has really bothered me. He said emphatically that in Heaven we would not be with people, family that we love here on earth. Once they pass, we will never know or see them again.

    That really troubled me. I have a hard time believing it. I don’t want to believe that, frankly. I’ve found books, sermons, Bible passages that can support either view. Friends & family have expressed agreeable views & contrary ones. I’d love to know what you think based on your study though Pete. Thank you for considering my question!

  37. truefreodom says:

    ah, the Hope of Glory!

    Such a beautiful thing.

    Just go ahead and read, Romans 8 and Revelation 5 one more time today.

    Here is a little primer for you;

    “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals thereof.

    Chokes me up every time.

    Praise the Lord!!!

    Excited about the new series!

  38. Jody says:

    When I die and get “there,” if time is not a factor, will everyone else that I know, who was qualified to be “there,” be “there” also (“qualified” is the only word I can think of here, I hate the word earn when speaking about spirituality)?

  39. Kathy says:

    I liked the book, but what about the wings?! I don’t think there’s anything in the Bible about people having wings, just angels. I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this!

  40. David says:

    Hey Pete – One of the Kairos worship leaders has this amazing song about heaven. Aside from making me think at least a few of heaven’s precincts may sound a lot like Nashville, it expresses a heart for Jesus that convicts and changes me each time I hear it. Check it out if you have a moment, & thanks for your ministry.


  41. dan says:

    I’ve not read the book, but I’ve heard it’s incredible; it’s on my list of books to read (with about 15 others at the moment).

    The church where I serve is half way through a series on heaven, hell, & the afterlife. Last night in the small group my wife & I are a part of the question came up “Well, what about the people who have never heard about God before? Do they go to hell or does God’s grace cover them too?” It led to one of the best discussions we’ve ever had in group & we came down on the fact that no one can know for sure, not until we experience whatever is to come.

    On a side note, if you’re looking for another resource Matt Carter’s sermon called “What will heaven be like?” is the best sermon I’ve ever heard on heaven, hands down.

  42. devbeth says:

    I, too, read the book in one evening. The one thing that startled me was the notion of armed angels. We tend to think of angels being all, well, angelic. The notion of angels defending heaven’s borders from Satan and his minions is something that I never envisioned.

    I have friends whose son went through cancer treatments at a very young age – while he never spoke of heaven, he frequently told his parents of angels who were there helping him.

    I have a niece who has had 2 miscarriages. She has given up on God as a result. I am trying to encourage her to read the book.

  43. Kim says:

    I must admit, that I am a bit of a skeptic. And now, I’m going to sound like an idiot because I have not a single verse in my head to back up what I’m about to say. :)

    I have no idea where it is found, but I vividly remember learning that the Bible states that no man will be able to go to Heaven, and return. Which is why I’m struggling to believe that this boy actually “went to heaven” and came back…

    I don’t say this at all to sound rude, arrogant or disrespectful to him or his story. I just don’t believe that a present day individual can go to Heaven, meet Jesus, and return to earth.

  44. robin says:

    doesn’t the bible teach that you go straight to Heaven, and it is instantaneous?

  45. Hilary says:

    I have not read this book yet, but I plan to. The two most impactful books that I have read on heaven are N.T. Wright’s “Surprised by Hope” and Randy Alcorn’s “Heaven”. Both really challenged my preconceived notions about heaven, and the typical evangelical “just passing through” mentality that I have always had trouble with.

  46. Marni Arnold says:

    I truly find myself often befuddled by what heaven is going to be like, or gleaning my own imagined idea of what earth will look like during the time of judgement and finding myself all filled up with fear – but when I heard about amazing stories like this, I am very challenged to also question my views of these very things.

    I have yet to read this book, but I will add it to my list of “to get” books. I am looking forward to it.

  47. LoriAnne says:

    I love how he described Mary. She was sitting at his feet and other times, standing beside him. I love that and it makes sense. Where else would the Queen of Heaven be? The hand maiden of God. Jesus’s first Disciple. And I love how he described God. So beautiful!

Leave a Reply