Pros: positive, uplifting, uncluttered with religion, Jesus as not often seen
Cons: sometimes church terminology hard to wade through- but not much
The Bottom Line: Religious books=boring. This is no religious book but straightforward account of an unexpected trip to heaven by one of the funniest men on the planet.
WARNING: This is a long review. If you are not interested, then do not read it. I feel that this review is essential to understand this rare and valuable book, so please do not attempt to lecture me about it, simply move on to another review you prefer to read. ------------------
"It's HERE! It's HERE!!!!"I shouted to my family as I raced through the house tearing at the small package in my hand.
I looked with relish at the little treasure that I held after so long. It had taken a few years, but at long last we had received the CD that I had longed for.
As the exquisite strains of heavenly music drifted through the small speakers, I felt the tension melt from my pain-wracked body.
Song after song flowed over us as we shamelessly wiped tears from our eyes.
Suddenly a strange feeling swept over me as we listened to the third song on the first CD.
"In the mountain of the Lord, I can hear your voice, I can touch your face. There is a place for those who are hurting."...the unrehearsed music continued but suddenly the singer's tone changed and we felt we were no longer listening to the singer but to the Master...
I'm calling to your children, your loved ones. I have made a place for those that are crying for My life. Bring them to Me in the mountain of the Lord, it does not matter what they sound like, what they look like. Once they hear My voice, see My face, they will never be the same.
I'll take them by the hand give them my life. Why you think I died? I am walking through the streets of New York listening to their cry. I'm building a mountain, a mountain of joy in the place that I have chosen. New York is the place I will bring a salve of victory. I am still alive and I am going to do what everybody said I would not do.
Broadway would shout," I am coming your way today". Cause I am walking the streets of NY listening to the cry of the poor. And the powers of darkness are shivering and shaking at the presence of the Lord. I'm building a mountain of joy, and the city will know the power of the Lord, cause I am here and I will do what everyone said that I could not do. .....
The mountain of the Lord, I can hear your voice, I can touch your face, there is a place for those who are thirsty at the mountain of the Lord....."
I sat upright.
New York City? I looked at the CD jacket again. This was recorded as the singer, Kim Clement made a trip to New York City in 2000 where this was recorded live as a message to New York from Jesus Christ about what was to come. Through the whole album there is a thread of first person messages given to New York City about how the evil will not overcome it and how Jesus Christ Himself would walk the streets and bring victory despite the horrible intentions of the evil launched upon it.
This was rather puzzling to us. Nothing really strange happening in New York City. Evil? Well, there was always some kind of evil going on there, just as in many other major cities.
I found this really interesting but could not make sense of it. Yet every time I listened to this CD, my hair would stand on end when these messages would surface among the songs addressed to the people of New York City with such tenderness and love that I would find myself crying often for the tender love Jesus was portraying through the gifted musician.
Of course, it was quite a long time later- I am talking almost a year here- when the Twin Towers were decimated, and reports were coming out of New York City of firefighters, police, civilians and clergy actually seeing Jesus Christ standing beside them in the wreckage. Men, women and children who were not religious nor had they ever seen Jesus before were seeing Him unexpectedly amidst the horror. I heard live interviews from Toronto news with different rescue workers who actually saw Calvary on top of the MOUNTAIN of debris with the three crosses and then the hands of Jesus reaching out to help them.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THIS BOOK?
I am a skeptic by nature. One only has to be burned once to vow never to fall prey to con artists again. I was not one to trust or believe in something without a lot of proof, and even then I would find it hard to believe.
Over the years, however, after meeting my best friend face to face, I have learned to listen to the inward witness of my heart. As a result, I have developed and extremely keen insight and understanding of most people. I am rarely off in my assessments, which constantly amazes the people who know me best.
Have you ever had a friend, family member, or someone you know intimately come under slander and lies from others who do not know them and say very hurtful and untrue things? Have you ever tried to tell them the truth and they just mock you and continue to perpetuate the lies that you know are not true about the one you hold dear?
Well, I have had that happen. It has happened with my father. It has happened with a close friend, and it happens often with my best friend.
You see, the Jesus Christ I know is not the one that most people rag on about. You know, the one ready to pound the living daylights out of you because you are (fill in the blank) gay, jewish, a liar, mistaken, hate His guts, - the list goes on and on.
In fact, the song that I told you about in the beginning of this review is more like the Jesus I know. Loving and always ready to comfort and give aid to anyone willing to trust Him.
So, in that vein, I am doing a review of another rare insight and glimpse into the REAL JESUS CHRIST.
This book HEAVEN: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE GOD KIND is a rare jewel. Like diamonds or any other precious gem, there are those that will cast it away like any other stone, failing to recognize or acknowledge its great value.
That is okay. My point in writing this review is to let anyone who is willing to endure this review know about this very valuable and insightful book, written by one of the most unusual people walking the earth today- Jesse Duplantis.
WHO IS JESSE DUPLANTIS?
For any of you who have not had the pleasure of seeing Jesse Duplantis speak, let me give you a bit of background on Jesse.
Back in the early 1970's Jesse, with a different last name for stage, was a very prosperous performer. He used to open for many of the famous groups (he played the same circuit as Grand Funk, Led Zeppelin, KISS, etc) and used to hang with the celebrities that were considered the elite of the decade.
Jesse experienced the uncommon honor of opening for groups and then having the crowd beg for him to continue instead of the groups that they orginally paid to hear.
Jesse was raised as a Cajun in Lousianna. His family reminds me of the Beverly Hillbillies- without the riches. His mother is reminiscent of "Granny" with her shotgun.
Being Cajun, Jesse knows what it is to experience prejudice. Cajuns are often considered by others to be "trailer trash, dirt", or any other bad name you might think of with the intent that the term "n*gger" is used toward black people.
In the entertainment field, he experienced income and affluence few have the opportunity to experience. However, he realized one night in Boston Mass that he needed more, and finally, after a long time of avoiding Christianity asked Jesus to direct his life instead of himself- in the bathroom of the hotel, because he did not want anyone to know.
Jesse Duplantis is one of the funniest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. He does not try to be funny. He just is. If you have ever had the temptation to assault phony preachers, run from God, be as decadent as you can be, expose hypocrisy, and just plain stand up against the religious people who care more about themselves than helping others, well.....Jesse has probably done it and with the most straightforward manner...
If Yosemite Sam were a human being, Jesse is about as close as you would get.
He is honest- painfully so- giving, and openly addresses his weaknesses and his failings along with the successes he attributes to God.
He gave all of his money away when he decided to follow Jesus Christ and from that day on, he told Jesus that he expected him to provide for him and he would never take a dime from the ministry that he has to spread the messages of God around the world.
And as of now, he never has.
In fact, Robert Duvall was making a movie some time back and wanted to meet the most amazing and interesting preacher there was (I heard this story from another person close to him- not Jesse himself) to interview. He wanted to get to know a man of God that was pure-hearted and colorful. Everyone directed him to Jesse. So, he went to dinner with Jesse and with condescending tone offering to pay for his dinner, assuming he was poor, Jesse refused and said that his Father owned the cattle on a thousand hills and he paid for Robert's dinner! Of course, some time after we heard this story, THE APOSTLE came out. Whether or not the character was like Jesse I don't know, and rather doubt.
Jesse is NOT one of those two-faced "holier than thou" preachers that makes you want to run out the back door (I have seen enough back doors in my life). On the contrary, he is always telling stories of how he has acquired dreams and then had to give them away. One such example was a turquoise Harley that he had custom made. He felt more than cool on this amazing tribute to his status as a biker.
People would stop and stare at him as he went by and he felt bluntly top-of-the line and off-the-hook as he cruised the street with his sunglasses on.
One day, he was passing a group of bikers and at the group was another biker who was telling the others about Jesus. Jesus told Jesse that he wanted him to give away his turquoise Harley to this man, because it would get this biker passage into some groups that would not let him in any other way.
It was a struggle, but Jesse did it. The stories that came out of that experience were nothing short of amazing.
Because Jesse is so fascinating, different and entertaining, I could talk about him much more, but that is not the purpose of this book. However, I did want you to know that the author of this book is not just another person who is seeking notoriety. Quite the contrary.
WHAT IS THIS BOOK ABOUT?
HEAVEN: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE GOD KIND is a book about some experiences that Jesse has had that he was not very interested in talking about. He did not want to be laughed at. However, seven years after his biggest experience, God told him to tell his story and the results were awe inspiring. People often relate miraculous stories or stories of how they were encouraged like never before after hearing Jesse's account.
Jesse relates his story of how God intervened in his life when he was running away from Him. He talks of how he should have died, but didn't in a car crash when he felt hands holding him in the car.
He speaks of being a rather naive "baby in Christ in diapers" and demanding to see God and then freaking out when God actually appeared in his room and told him to turn around. He was too chicken.
At one point, after laying a good foundation of understanding his past and his heart's desires, he tells of his trip to Heaven.
Yes, you heard me correctly, Jesse was taken to Heaven for a while.
What follows is a combination of the most amazing, hilarious, and tear-jerking story you will ever hear.
Let me give you an example. At one point, Jesse is standing in heaven wondering all kinds of things and wanting to ask them. He suddenly notices that there are not any shadows. So he is dancing all around trying to make a shadow. Finally everyone stops and asks him what his is doing.
When he explains his search for a shadow, the angel tells him that there is no darkness in heaven. So, he tries to be polite, but still darts and moves around trying to find a shadow- much like a kid would do.
Even though he is reminded a few times about the darkness not being in heaven, he can not seem to resist that pursuit of a shadow thing, and it is quite funny. He is not telling it to be funny, he just is recounting his experiences he had in the purity of a child.
MY REACTIONS TO THIS BOOK
In one of the most difficult years of my life, I have had to fight to remember the experiences that I have had over the years that are similar to Jesse's. The times our lives were saved by unseen hands pushing us out of death's way. The visitations of angels that we had. The day when I got to see His eyes....
Despite the amazing experiences that we have had in our lives, it is hard to remember when clouded with the pain of affliction, grief, and sorrow.
This book is written by a man who has lived through what most people lust for- the high life of a successful entertainer. He has run with the fast crowd. Yet, he willingly gave it all up to follow a way of life not honored by the fame hungry media and much of the world.
No matter what he has encountered, he reacts positively. The reasons for this are in this book. His conversations with Jesus are not an event in themselves, but an extension of his already intimate relationship that existed before he went to heaven. What Jesus tells him is not what you would expect.
Jesse does not make any excuses. He does not try to dress up his experiences. He simply tells what happened to him and says that if anyone wants to mock him or doubt that they are free to do so.
I find the reading to be very easy. The 192 page book is a good size, about 5x7 inches and it is hardcover. The font is a good size and easy to read. The pages have large margins around them making it less overwhelming than most books.
When I picked up this book, I found myself put in touch again with those things that we seem to lose as we grow older and more jaded with life's difficulties:
~The innocence of our childhood
~The belief of what God is really like instead of the mean-spirited and frustrating church system,
~The youth held belief that there was good out there and some of it is meant for us.
~The excitement of waking to face another day.
~ The ability to thrill at the sight of simple things and to connect with the joy that comes with discovering life as a child.
This book is very special. Jesse was allowed to present to us the way that Jesus Christ is with no fancy religion blocking our view. We are allowed to see a side of Jesus Christ that is not often addressed. His love is not just heralded but illustrated in ways that should be shouted from the housetops, not hidden on a bookshelf.
MY RECOMMENDATION OF THIS BOOK
I realize that some of you reading this review are already loading up your skeptical retorts, and your mocking reactions. That is your freedom, and surely I know where you come from, having lived there for a time myself.
You may not want to read this book because it sounds silly. However, if you like fantasy books, then you will still get a lot out of this book. It is entertaining and interesting through most of it, and you can just skip the parts that bore you. Sometimes terminology might not be familiar to you, but it is easy enough to pick up what is being said without choking on it completely.
For those of you who enjoy hopeful and positive things, this book will bring plenty of that. You may not believe in Jesus Christ, God, or perhaps you are an atheist. You might be Jewish, Buddist, wiccan, Muslim, or some other naturalist religion. I still think that the ideas in this book are so beyond the imagination of most people that they are fun to read whether you believe or not.
Those who believe in Jesus Christ may still react negatively to this book. You can not claim credibly that this is a showy book. It is just very frank and to the point without spectacular enhancement. Jesse is plain and simple and honest in his telling of the story, and that alone makes the book refreshing.
You certainly will not hear a story like this in very many places, I can assure you.
You can also obtain a video of Jesse telling this story (with a few details left out) at www.jdm.org. Everyone I know of that has watched it is deeply touched. It is a bit easier to follow when you see Jesse in person.
There is also a cassette tape of the story available on www.jdm.org. Our son wore out his set from listening to it every night before sleeping.
Of all of the media, I am fondest of the book.
NOTE: If you have any questions, feel free to email me! Oh- and the Kim Clement CD is available at www.kimclement.com
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Fun to Read
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