by Dr. Larry Ollison
(Harrison House Publishers)
Where do we go when
we die? What will
Heaven look like?
What will we look like
when we get there?
Truth be told, I'd been saved since I was a little kid, way back in the early '70s. But my salvation merely was a "fire insurance policy" I purchased based on concerns raised in Vacation Bible School (VBS). It was then and there when I learned how Jesus was the Son of God, and through "accepting" Him as my "Savior," I would escape eternal hell fire and damnation — an easy sell, especially when you're seven.
My eternity was sealed. I had comfort in knowing I'd purchased a solid "policy." But it was based ALL on religion — the very force that ultimately would push me away from God as I discovered "sex, drugs & rock and roll" in my teens. It wasn't until after decades of pursuing that misguided lifestyle that I experienced what old school church folk refer to as a bona fide "come to Jesus" moment. And at age 48, I finally grasped the relationship factor of my policy. I've said it (many times) before, but I'll say it again (and again) — there's a BIG dif between religion and relationship.
In short order, I became so passionate about living for Jesus and sharing the Good News gospel, I jumped head first into writing my second book, C'MON! Released in January 2012, it reflected a decidedly bigger, better and brighter message than I offered in my 2010 debut memoir.
While it certainly is true that "iron sharpens iron" (Proverbs 27:17 / NLT), it also is true (sadly) that little can squelch the passion of a Christian quite as effectively as the input of other Christians. Those people can be a nasty bunch, sometimes.
When I first began pitching the initial C'MON! manuscript in late 2011, I received a scathing email response from one particular prominent Christian literary agent. Instead of offering me a "pat on the back," he delivered a "punch to the privates" — revealing how I was an uneducated fraud — ill-equipped and unqualified to offer a worthy testimony. And if I truly wanted to honor God, I needed to "shut up." But I didn't allow this fella to squelch my passion. I took his condemnation as a challenge. I plugged into a church home and began serving. In no time, I was involved in youth ministry and I even enrolled in Bible college. Two years later, I headed out on my first of several international missionary trips. BTW, I now hold a degree in Bible Studies. Yeah, I'm shocked too!
It was during my Bible college experience when our class was assigned to read Life is in the Blood, by a celebrated author I'd never heard of before. His name — Larry Ollison. In short order, I adopted the Walk on the Water Faith Church pastor as my quasi spiritual life coach. I've now read every-single-one of Dr. Ollison's books, and he's something of a buddy — although we've never met. Ollison has become the wise old owl who I hang out with, as I tear through the pages of his various titles during my morning devotions at my favorite local java joint.
The cool thing about Ollison is he never talks over his readers. He's no "Mr. Smarty Pants." He always speaks to his readers — which is particularly helpful (and appreciated), especially for a reformed Nugent nut like me.
The older I get, the more I seek, and the more I realize just how little I know. Thanks for a spirit of humility, Jesus. Hence, despite that diploma hanging on my wall, I still can get hung up on various aspects of Bible study.
At various times in the Bible, Jesus challenges us to trust him. He even once got a bit ticked off with his disciples — referring to them as, “faithless people!" (Mark 9:19 NLT). As one who does trust Him, completely, I have total confidence in having an "eternal home" — one that's far more marvelous than my pea-sized brain can fathom. So, when it comes to details regarding Heaven, my (humble) kneejerk reaction often is, "Who cares?" — God's "got me" on this, so why sweat it. However, based on the relationship factor outlined in my "policy," I continue seeking knowledge and understanding. Thanks to Dr. Ollison, I have a qualified "advisor" (Proverbs 11:14 NLT) to hook me and reel me in.
In his latest book, A Place Called Heaven, Ollison breaks down "end times," while painting a vivid portrait of eternity in his typical engaging, conversational style — with the wisdom and knowledge of some of my other favorite Christian Living authors, including the late Warren W. Wiersbe and Kenneth E. Hagin.
Where do we go when we die? What will Heaven look like? What will we look like when we get there? Will there be reruns of Match Game shown in Heaven? While Ollison doesn't address all of those questions, he hits the biggies.
One of Ollison's frequent go-to bullet points is, "the power of the blood." And as a result of the blood shed by Jesus, Ollison reveals there ain't no "purgatory." Ha — take THAT one, "man-made religion!" However, for believers, there is a wonderful period in "Paradise" (Luke 23:43 NLT). Hooray for RELATIONSHIP! But, as they say, "Wait! There's more!" Church Age believers need not fear the Tribulation, as we already will have been rescued to Paradise during the Rapture.
Ollison's writing style speaks plainly to the Everyman. However, A Place Called Heaven isn't a "light" or "quick" read. In fact, it's a comprehensive college course, crammed into a concise 250 pages. And even for as smart as I am (that's sarcasm, BTW), I still can get a bit overwhelmed by trying to process the enormity of the topic. Heck, I'm still hung up on the great Ginger vs. Mary Ann debate.
The myriad life experiences Ollison weaves in makes the content all the more relatable. And his first-hand accounts of others' testimonies, as well as his music-related perspectives and other personal insights further strengthen the narrative.
I once worked as an assistant for a world-famous, platinum-selling rock star. While traveling with him across the country in his luxury tour bus on various big-time arena concert tours, he only ate at established "name" restaurants (e.g. Olive Garden, P.F. Chang's, Outback, etc.) — even if we were in a major city, near an indie restaurant known for its unique cuisine, he only trusted name-brand eateries. As he told me, they created a consistent, quality product, and you always knew what you were gonna get. I'm the same way with the Christian authors whose work I consume. The message is far too important for me to trust a potentially unreliable messenger. In that regard, it could be said that with A Place Called Heaven, Larry Ollison proves (once again) to be the "Cracker Barrel" of Christian Living authors. Mmm, Mmm! I just LOVE their dumplings!