Tag Archives: book review

Amy Jo Journeying Toward Heaven on the Sacred Romance

Yikeronis!  In April, four friends: Heather, Candi, Amy Jo and me, set out to read and write our responses to the now-classic The Sacred Romance-Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge.  We were going great guns for a time, but life and stuff jumped right in front of our momentum and we have never quite finished…yet.  I published my thoughts to Chapter 12 about 2 months ago (see here).  There is really just Chapter 12 and the epilogue left (wow!  I LOVED the epilogue!), but, by golly, we are GOING to finish!   Hopefully before the holidays…

Chapter Twelve: Coming Home

From the infamous, crazy artistic, wildly creative and sensitive Amy Jo:

“Our hearts cannot live without hope… Our courage for the journey so often falters because we’ve lost our hope of heaven-the consummation of our Love Story.” (p. 178)

 “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” (C.S. Lewis, p. 180)

Ah… temporal ennui… my old “friend,” my frequent companion, my gift, my curse.

I, as Jeanie did, grew up with a heaven-focused crowd. I even had a lapel pin on the corkboard in my childhood bedroom that read “Perhaps Today.” Fittingly, it helped hold up a little poster that read (and yes, I’m typing this from memory):

“This world is not my home, although it seems to be. My home is with my God, in the place He’s made for me. He’s coming back real soon-the signs are very clear. So when the trumpet sounds, I’ll be out of here!”

Cute, huh? I liked it. But there is always the danger of being “so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.” This is a balance I struggle with because (contrary to popular belief) I do NOT always love life. I wrestle OFTEN with my “calling,” whatever that may be. I wonder ALWAYS what I’m supposed to be doing with my time here on earth. I do know however, that I am to love God and love people, using the gifts and personality God was pleased to give me. Here, let me quote for you the personal “Mission Statement” I wrote for myself in 2007:

“I want my life to be characterized-most of all-by love for God and love for people. Therefore I will seek to do so in as many ways as I can imagine and am able. Never will I allow myself to become embittered by what sorrows and perceived injustices I may experience in my journey through life. I vow to strive always to see, imitate, manufacture, and praise God for beauty. I always want to confidently protect and promote truth and light. I want to be proud of how I conduct myself in any given situation. When others spend time with me, I want them to leave feeling refreshed, invigorated, inspired, loved, and valued. I want to bring out the best in those around me. When God looks at me, I want Him to say, “She is mine. She knows me and loves me. I am pleased by her.”

The authors of The Sacred Romance call us to dream of heaven, imagining wildly about what heaven will offer our heart of hearts-beyond the clouds, fat white cherubs, harps, and boringness that has become so cliché in our culture. “If faith and love hang on hope, if a life without hope is as Paul says ‘to be pitied’ (1 Cor. 15:19), then shouldn’t we devote ourselves to recovering a vision for the end of our story in as vivid colors as our imagination can conceive?” (p.180)  The authors urge us to consider these in our imaginings: intimacy, beauty, adventure, and arrival. I will highlight my favorite parts of each section.

On Intimacy:There we shall receive our new name, known only to our Lover, which He shall give to us on a white stone (Rev. 2.17)… To tell the name is to seal the success-to say, ‘In thee also I am well pleased.” (p.183) How my heart longs to hear these words from my God! (See above Mission Statement.)

On Beauty: “So it goes with all things on earth: The beauty that so captures our heart and is so fleeting draws us toward the eternal reality.” (p.186) (See above Mission Statement.)

On Adventure: “We will worship God in heaven, meaning all of life will finally be worship, not round after round of ‘Amazing Grace’.” (p. 188) YAY! “Part of the adventure will be to explore the wonders of the new heaven and new earth, the most breathtaking of which will be God Himself. We will have all eternity to explore the mysteries of God, and not just explore, but celebrate and share with one another.” (p. 189)

On Arrival: “One day soon we will round a bend in the road and our dreams will come true. We really will live happily ever after. The long years in exile will be swept away in the joyful tears of our arrival home. Every day when we rise, we can tell ourselves, My journey today will bring me closer to home; it may be just around the bend. All we long for we shall have; all we long to be, we will be. All that has hurt us so deeply-the dragons and nits, the Arrows and our false lovers, and Satan himself-they will all be swept away. And then real life begins.” (p.193)

In closing my review of this chapter on heaven, I’d like to just put out a challenge to those of you who love music-try making a “Heaven Playlist” on your ipod or computer… or even just using pen and paper. There are SO many songs out there referencing heaven; so many songs out there produced out of-I am convinced-the calling of the Sacred Romance. Perhaps in creating / listening to your “Heaven Playlist” you will hear the call of our Romancer-and just MAYBE you will begin to break free from our “modern” boring ideas of heaven.  Here are a few I’d recommend to get you started:

  • “What Do I Know?” by Sara Groves, from Conversations
  • “My Deliverer” and “That Where I Am, There You…” by Rich Mullins, from The Jesus Record
  • “I Can Hear the Angels Singing” by David Crowder Band, from B Collision
  • “The Third Heaven” by Carmen, from Addicted to Jesus
  • “Un Lugar Celestial” (A Heavenly Place) by Jaci Velasquez, from Heavenly Place

Thanks, Amy Jo.  LOVE you!…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  Learn to be more imaginative about heaven.  I CAN only imagine…

pictured: Amy Jo created the prayer and worship interactives for Heaven Fest this past summer.

“Do churches do to people what zoos do to animals?”

That post title, my friends, was just one of the amazing “thought-questions”posed  in Mark Batterson’s upcoming tome.

I put aside both of the books I had been reading and skipped over the one I was suppose to start next to read a pre-released copy of Batterson’s Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God.    Once I picked it up for a quick perusal, I was hooked.

He explains the title:

Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit–An Geadh-Glas, or ‘the Wild Goose.’ The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit through life. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something…

The  author contrasts animals he got to observe living wild and free while in the Galapagos Islands (which he described as “Edenic” and a place that caused him to  feel a great affinity to Adam)  in contrast to those he was observing in a zoo a couple of months later.   No matter how you slice it, those zoo  animals are caged.   The whole book plays off the premise that we live our lives in 6  “cages”:  responsibility (where God-passions get buried beneath day-to-day living), routine (following our plans, never seeing another way), assumptions (those truths you begin to believe such as I could never…, I can’t…, I’m not…when you are living from your left-brain memory rather than your right-brain imagination).   Then there are the cages of guilt (defeat over all our  past sin and missteps), failure (doesn’t this one stink?? – trying and failing stops us from ever trying again), and finally the cage of fear (living life on the defense rather than the offense)  and goes on to explore both Biblical and modern-day  people who  were able to break  free of those confines.

Each chapter is complete and very-good-sermon-like, but  Mark Batterson  ties them all very well together as he leads us on the chase for the Wild Goose, living a life of adventure by the leading of the Holy Spirit.  

It’s an easy and quick read, with great humor, some interesting character study  and poignant story-telling.   It’s kind of like Eldridge’s  Journey of Desire  or The Sacred Romance, but waaaaaaay shorter and more quickly to the point.   He writes in a relaxing, conversational way that was not only engaging for the reading, but seemed to invite me into prayer as I read.   That is probably what surprised me the most: how much I was drawn into an awareness of the Presence and His leading as I was reading.    Batterson really had a way of posing thoughtful questions that immediately caused me to want to hear from God on the issue or confess and repent or ask for an answer or pray a commitment or something.   I prayed my way through most of the book.     Laughed and cried, too.

In that regard, I wholly recommend this book.   It isn’t about earth-shattering new revelation necessarily, but it is a call to that which the Spirit of God speaks to us constantly and we often ignore –  due to life’s “cages.”   That is why it rings so true, I guess, and why my heart took a fancy to the book, the idea and the call to chase the Wild Goose.   http://chasethegoose.com

Read it!…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:   I am part of something bigger and more important than me: the cause of Christ for this generation.  


We try to make God fit within the confines of our cerebral cortex.   We try to reduce the will of God to the logical limits of our left brain.   But the will of God is neither logical   nor linear.   It is downright confusing and complicated.   p.2

A part of us feels as if something is spiritually wrong with us when we experience circumstantial uncertainty…But [it] goes by another name: adventure.   p. 2

inverted Christianity.   Instead of following the Spirit, we invite the Spirit to follow us. p. 4

…as I looked through the protective Plexiglas window at a four-hundred-pound caged gorilla: I wonder if churches do to people what zoos do to animals. p. 5

Just like the rich young ruler, we have a choice to make…We can stay in our cage, end up with everything and realize it amounts to nothing.   Or we can come out of our cage and chase the Wild Goose.   p. 10

Chapter Two: Goose Bumps p. 15

A few years ago I figured out how I want to die.   p. 15

But I do want to die doing what I love.   I am determined to pursue God-ordained passions until the day I die.   p. 16

Start praying.   Prayer makes us spiritually fertile.   And the more we pray, the more passionate we become.   Our convictions grow stronger and our dreams grow bigger.   p. 26

When Christianity turns into a noun, it becomes a turnoff.   Christianity was always intended to be a verb.   p. 29

I don’t want to do things I am capable of doing.   Why?   Because then I can take credit for them.   I want to see God do things in me and through me that I am absolutely incapable of so I can’t possibly take credit for them.   p. 35

Concerning Nehemiah:   If you are faithful in Babylon, God will bless you in Jerusalem.   p. 40

Have you ever experienced an epiphany – a moment when God unexpectedly and unforgettably invaded the monotony of your life…The Celtic Christians referred to these kinds of moments – moments when heaven and earth seem to touch – as thin places.   Natural and supernatural worlds collide.   Creation meets creator.   Sin meets grace.   Routine meets the Wild Goose.   p. 46

One name for God in Rabbinical literature is The Place.   p. 47

Altars help us remember what God doesn’t want us to forget.   They give us a sacred place to go back to.   p. 48

change of place + change of pace = change of perspective   p. 50

I know from experience that you can do the work of God at a pace that destroys the work of God in you.   p. 53

Sabbath… creates a holy margin in our lives…The word Sabbath means “to catch one’s breath.”   p. 54

Hurry kills everything from compassion to creativity.   p. 57

We need to quit praying out of memory and start praying out of imagination.   p. 60

Has God ever called you to throw something down?   Something in which you find your security or put your identity?   It’s awfully hard to let go, isn’t it?   It feels like you are jeopardizing your future.   And it feels like you could lose what is most important to you.   But that is when you discover who you really are.   p. 65

You have to be willing to let go of an old identity in order to take on a new identity.   p. 66

Pride is offended when assumptions are challenged.   Humility welcomes the challenge because the desire to know God is greater than the need to be right.   p. 75

It’s never too late to become who you might have been.   p. 79