Monthly Archives: January 2018

100 Days With Jesus–Book Review

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This little gem of a book would make a wonderful gift for a friend.  It includes a presentation page, thick glossy pages and a beautiful photograph with each reading.  The author, Diann Cotton, first got the idea when she found a page in her Bible listing over 250 names and attributes of Jesus.  She began studying one or two a day, hoping to know Jesus better by the end of the year.  Her own research, prayer and reflection led to the book.

100 Days with Jesus by [Cotton, Diann]

Perfect to be used as a daily devotional, each reading includes a name or description of Jesus, the scriptural basis for the name, a definition, prayer and reflection question. The entries are ordered alphabetically, so you can easily find a particular name. The questions could easily be used as a journaling tool if that is part of your daily routine.

Interested in learning more, or purchasing this book?  Click on the link below:

https://beta.lifeway.com/en/product/100-days-with-jesus-P005793050

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Jesus Loves Me

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My friend Nancy’s email about music made me think about the simple children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me.”  Although my mom couldn’t communicate much during the last years of her life, she could still sing, and the old hymns and Christian songs were favorites.  Jesus Loves Me always brought tears to her eyes.  My husband and I had a good Christian friend who asked that this song be sung at his funeral.  I think he felt its’ simple message captured the essence of his faith.  He’s not the only person who ever felt this way.  Karl Barth, a Swiss Reformed minister, who was know as one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century was once asked to summarize all the words he had written about theology.  His answer?

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

The words of this song were first published in a novel entitled See and Seal by Anna And Susan Warner.  In the story a young boy named Johnny is dying.  His Sunday School teacher comforts him by making up this little song.  The novel became a best seller in the 186o’s, and the song, set to music by William Bradbury, became the best-known children’s hymn of all time.

 

Funeral Songs

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Last night I received an email from my good friend, Nancy, who is also one of our faithful readers.  She mentioned that she had been at a funeral and the music was just lovely.  In her words:

In keeping with the blog, I went to the funeral yesterday of a dear friend from church. It was the most singing at a funeral that I have ever experienced, and it was perfect. One of the songs we sang was the “Hymn of Promise” that I had sent to you. And we sang a medley of last verses of six old hymns that all spoke of heaven and Jesus coming to “take us home.” There were more hymns- all were affirmations of faith and hope.

This made me think about the songs that uplift me in times of grief.  One of my favorites is “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.”  It’s an Easter song, based upon Job 19:25-26

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God,

Whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

I can’t imagine anything more comforting and hopeful than that word  picture.  Here’s the whole hymn, in case you don’t know it:

 

Martin Luther on Music #2

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“My heart which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.”

What about you?  Have you ever been comforted by music in a difficult time?  We’d like to hear your thoughts.

Martin Luther, Protestant, Statue

Out of the Depths — Book Review

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Out of the Depths” is the autobiography of John Newton, author of the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace.”  Don’t pick this book up because you want to hear more about Newton as a hymnist — it’s just not there.  Instead, the book focuses on his spiritual journey.

Out of the Depths by [Newton, John]

Born to a devout mother who dies when he is seven, Newton strays from the faith.  As a young man he becomes willful, arrogant and disappointing to his father.  His life reads like some of the great stories of the Bible.  He is runs away like Jonah, is shipwrecked and beaten like Paul, and like the prodigal son finally comes home to God, his Father.  He experiences both wealth and want, becomes a sea captain, a slave trader, a servant (little better than a slave himself) and finally a pastor.

Here is what he had to say about his life:

“They (true believers) are as one body, animated by one spirit;  yet their experiences, formed upon these common principles, are far from uniform.   The Lord in His first call, and His following providential actions, regards the situation, temperament, and talents of each and the particular services or trials He has appointed for them.  All are tested at times yet some pass through the voyage of life much more smoothly than others.  ….We must not, therefore, make the experience of others in all respects, a rule to ourselves nor our own a rule to others.  ….My case has been extraordinary…it is to be expected that after such a wonderful, unhoped for deliverance as I had received, and after my eyes were somewhat enlightened to see things aright, I should immediately cleave to the Lord and His ways with purpose of heart and depend no more on mere flesh and blood.”

This book was a fairly easy read and I enjoyed it (the copy I had was revised and updated for modern readers).  Each of us, like Newton, has a faith journey and we should spend some time reflecting on it.  How has God led you to the place you’re at today?  I’d like to hear about that.

Sing — It’s Good For You

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“Praise the Lord!

For it is good to sing praises to our God;  for he is gracious and a song of praise is seemly.”   Psalm 147:1

The Bible tells us that singing is good;  Martin Luther said music is a gift from God.  Numerous studies also tell us that singing and music are not only good, they are good for us.  Here are some examples:

  1. Music education, even at a very young age, improves visual, verbal and communication skills
  2. Music keeps an aging brain healthy.  It’s exercise for the brain and promotes better memory and mental agility
  3. Music causes your brain to release dopamine which improves your mood, and reduces depression and anxiety
  4. Music strengthens the heart and has been shown to improve the recovery time of patients after heart surgery
  5. Music improves sleep quality
  6. Music boosts the immune system and reduces pain

My advice?  Go to a church where you sing and make a joyful noise to God at least once a week.  You’ll be happier and healthier.

 

 

 

 

 

Fanning the Flame #2

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“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”  Philippians 2:1-2

Voting on the fanning the flame project was delayed for a few more weeks in order to insure that the requirements of our church constitution for a special meeting had been met, and proper notification received by all.  However, discussion at the meeting revealed a couple of things.

The good news — enough people volunteered to serve on the planning committee, if the program is approved.  As we are a small congregation, this was a legitimate concern.

The bad news — there is not yet complete agreement.  Some are concerned about the cost;  others don’t really understand what will be achieved.  There is probably even some fear — what will happen, and how will we have to change?  Will I be able to do what is asked of me?  Do I even want to do it?

My prayer for St. Paul’s is for unity in whatever decision we make.  Total unity is, of course, not possible this side of heaven, but if we’re sharply divided, if we’re angry with one another, if we’re intent only on getting our way, no plan will succeed. This is a time for listening — to one another and to God.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

Pray with me friends and readers, as we attempt to discern the will of God in this matter.

Music as Prayer

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Years ago the Via de Cristo accountability group I was in  spent time discussing our prayer life.  One fellow in our group shared how each morning, he played a CD of favorite worship music.  He paid close attention to the words as well as the music and considered it a time of prayer.  That was eye-opening for me!  Music as prayer!

Sky, Asking God, Prayer, Open Arms

I took his advice and starting playing Christian music on Saturday as I cleaned the house.  Soon a time of drudgery was transformed into a peaceful place of communion with God.  I encourage others to try this — listen  to music when you’re doing mindless chores, driving, or just taking a break.  Speak to God in the words of the song, and let Him touch your heart in the same way.  God doesn’t care how we talk to Him, He just wants us to do it.

“…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.”  Ephesians 5:18-20

Have any of our authors or readers also used music this way?  Tell us about your experience.

Reading the Psalms With Luther–Book Review

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I borrowed this book from my husband’s office at church because it looked like it fit well with our theme this month and some of the posts I have been doing on the Psalms.  The Psalter was Martin Luther’s daily prayer book as a monk and the subject of his initial lectures as a professor.  His lectures and commentaries on the Psalms fill five volumes in the American Edition of Luther’s Works  

 This book combines several resources.  The text of each Psalm is included along with the translation of Luther’s Summaries on that Psalm.  To maintain the devotional style some things have been omitted, and his shorter summaries supplemented with comments from other writings.  Each Psalm is also accompanied by a prayer drawn from Book of Devotion:  The Psalms by Rev. F. Kuegle.  The Book also includes instructions for singing the Psalms, categories of Psalms, and a schedule of Psalms for daily prayer.

Reading the Psalms With Luther is an excellent resource for individual or family devotions.  I hope some of our authors and readers will try it and post their opinion.

 

Confirmation Songs

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Confirmation is a special day for most Lutherans;  the day when, as an adult (or someone close to adulthood) you reconfirm the baptismal promises made for you by others.  When our daughters were confirmed, they had to write and read a speech to the congregation on the topic, “what my faith means to me.”  They also got to choose a Bible verse and a song.  Since my daughter, Kate, is one of our authors, I thought I’d share her confirmation song — we’ll see if she remembers it, and maybe will post about why she chose it.  It’s called “On Eagle’s Wings” and is based on Psalm 91. Maybe some other authors would like to share their confirmation song, if they chose one or one that was chosen for them.