The Cross of Christ

My previous post quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer on sin reminded me of this hymn written by John Bowring in 1825.   Bowring was a highly intelligent man with a talent for languages.  He is reputed to have learned a hundred different languages during his lifetime, and translated poetry into English from a number of languages.  Because this gift, the British government appointed him to a variety of jobs in which he traveled throughout Europe as well as Syria and Siam (now Thailand).  He learned Chinese and served as the British governor of Hong Kong in the mid-1800s.

It is said that Bowring was inspired to write “In the Cross of Christ I Glory” when he visited Macao, a Portuguese colony near Hong Kong, and saw a great bronze cross towering over the ruins of a cathedral that had been destroyed by a typhoon.

 

 

Epic Devotions — Book Review

This devotional from B&H Publishing  will be most suited to older elementary or younger middle school students (depending on reading level).  With 52 devotions, it follows Gods’  epic story, the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, in chronological order.

Epic Devotions

Each devotion includes a Bible story with a key scripture verse, suggested action items, questions for discussion and a final memory verse.  It could be used alone, or in a group setting– for example as a weekly family devotion.  If you are looking for a specific story, each reading is listed at the front of the book, along with a picture and page number so that it can be easily located.  There are many illustrations and they are bright and appealing.

I particularly liked the way  Old Testament lessons were connected with a New Testament lessons, emphasizing both law and gospel (important to Lutherans!).  The idea is that the Bible is a unified story of God’s work in the world (which it is).

VERDICT:  I give it 5 stars.  I would certainly recommend this devotional, and it would make a great Christmas gift for your child.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

Epic Devotions

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

 

 

The Society of Extraordinary Raccoon Society on Boasting by Randall Goodgame–Book Review

I have reviewed several of the Slugs and Bugs stories by Randall Goodgame, and liked this one the best.  The tempo of the rhyming was bouncy and did not seem forced.  It’s a sturdy, colorful book (about the same size and format as the popular Dr. Seuss books) that youngsters will enjoy.

The Society of Extraordinary Raccoon Society on Boasting

The story reminds young raccoons (and children) that we should not boast about our good deeds, or compare our gifts to the gifts of others.  Each one should give cheerfully, as he is able.  The lesson is a good one, and the illustration youngsters will be able to easily grasp the example used to illustrate it.

The ending Bible quote is:

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31

VERDICT:  I give it 4 stars.  It is nothing out of the ordinary, but I liked it.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

The Society of Extraordinary Raccoon Society on Boasting

If you would like to read other reviews in this series, see the following posts:

The Society of Extraordinary Raccoon Society by Randall Goodgame–Book Review

Are We Still Friends? by Randall Goodgame–Book Review

Which Shape Should I Be? by Paula Kennedy–Book Review

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Sin

“The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is.

Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of men. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this.

In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner.”

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

 

Other quotes by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Church

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Death

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Praying For One Another

What’s Your Excuse?

In my last post, I discussed how I have been examining myself, and finding that I don’t just sin “accidentally” but deliberately .  Now I’m looking at some of the ways I excuse my sins.

SINS OF COMMISSION

  1.  Everybody does it
  2.  It’s really not so bad
  3.  It’s just how I am
  4.  It’s impossible to avoid
  5.  I was provoked

SINS OF OMISSION

  1.  I’m too busy
  2.  I got tired
  3.  I can’t do everything
  4.  It’s not my gift, someone else can do it better
  5.  It’s somebody else’s responsibility
  6.  It makes me uncomfortable
  7.  I’m too old (this one might go with too tired!)

Okay, I know there is validity in some of our excuses.  We can’t do everything, and we certainly should concentrate on those thing we can do best.  We will all have a tendency to certain sins because of our own personality/upbringing/experiences.  However, we need to ask ourselves, are we doing something?  Are we trying to lean away from our sinful tendencies, or do we just accept them? Are we avoiding situations that cause us to sin?  Are we taking some initiative in the process of sanctification, or are we just drifting along?

The apostle Paul put it well:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13″

No, this doesn’t mean that we save ourselves through our works, but it does mean that we have a responsibility to work with God to grow mature in our faith.  So I would like to challenge our readers:  Examine yourself — make your own list of excuses–then make a realistic plan to do better.  Don’t try to improve in every area at once, just pick one.  If you’re like me, you’ll have plenty of choices.  NO MORE EXCUSES!

For more on examining your conscience, see these posts:

Examination of Conscience

Practicing Piety

False Piety #2

Choosing to Sin

Our small group has been reading and discussing the book, Outrageous Grace, by Grace Fabian Outrageous Grace by Grace L. Fabian–Book Review.  One of the study questions at our last meeting was:

” In what ways do you think Christians are guilty of reading and studying God’s Word, but not applying it to their own lives and obeying it?  Are we guilty of saying/singing that we love Him, but still hesitating to obey Him?”

Well, of course the answer is yes.  We are all sinners, and although we may struggle to do what’s right, we often give in to our “default” position which is sin.  We all know this.  Somehow, though, this time the question struck me even harder or more personally than usual.  I thought, it’s not so different from saying, “I know that exercise is good for me.  It’s not someone else’s opinion, I truly BELIEVE that I will be healthier if I exercise;  and yet for most of my life  I have CHOSEN not to do it.

I can believe in God, know His Word, and still consciously and deliberately choose to sin.  It’s not always just an accident or something I do when I stop thinking clearly.  Sinning is sometimes a choice that I make.

For example, I know the Bible tells us to “go and make disciples.”  Yet, I excuse myself by saying I’m an introvert, and evangelism isn’t my gift.  I’ll just “choose” to serve in another way.  I know that the Bible says we should not take God’s name in vain — and yet, I watch TV shows and read books that do just that.  I tell myself that bad language is simply so pervasive that it can’t be completely avoided these days and after all, I’m not the one saying those bad words, right?  (Sorry, this is known as vicarious sinning).  I know the Bible says that we should respect the civil authorities God has placed over us, and yet I complain and speak badly about them.  I could go on and on, and I’m sure you can make your own list if you think about it for even a minute or two.

I don’t have an answer for any of this, it’s more of an observation–an observation that is making me examine myself and realize that I come up wanting.  I’ve taken God’s grace for granted, and treated it like a get our of jail free card that I can use indiscriminately.  I say along with Paul,

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Romans 7:24″

If believe in God, then I should practice true obedience to His Word, just as I say every week in the confession.  I can’t stop sinning, but I can identify and work at those areas where I deliberately sin.  I’m going to try to take that seriously;  I’m going to pray about it;  and I’m going to stop making excuses and chip away at those attractive sins I don’t want to give up.  I believe that with God’s help, I can become a healthier Christian.

For more posts on sin, follow these links:

What is Sin?

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges–Book Review

Sin Boldly?

The Cloud of Witnesses

A while back I read a biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe Harriet Beecher Stowe by Noel Gerson — Book Review and discovered she was much more than the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Today I found one of her quotes, and would like to share it, particularly as Hebrews 12:1-2 is my life verse The Cloud of Saints

“We are encompassed about by a cloud of witnesses, whose hearts throb in sympathy with every effort and struggle, and who thrill with joy at every success.  How should this thought check and rebuke every worldly feeling and unworthy purpose, and enshrine us, in the midst of a forgetful and un-spiritual world, with an atmosphere of heavenly peace!  They have overcome–have risen–are crowned, glorified;  but they still remain to us, our assistants;  our comforters;  and in every hour of darkness their voice speaks to us:  ‘So we grieved, so we struggled, so we fainted, so we doubted;  but we have overcome, we have obtained, we have seen, we have found,–and in our victory behold the certainty of thy own.'”