A Different View of Life’s End

“We who follow Jesus Christ face our suffering and dying differently than others do.  We look to the Cross of Jesus Christ for hope and guidance and ultimately to the Risen Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15).  We, who belong to Christ through Baptism, do not measure a person’s worth by the ‘quality’ of life as limited by illness, disability, or aging.  We were of worth when helpless infants as in our Baptism God made us His (Romans 6:4), and we are still of worth in God’s care when we are helpless as a patient at the end of life (Romans 14:7-8).  We care about the dying, disabled, or elderly and attempt to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).  We bear witness to a better way, the way of the Cross of Jesus Christ in which God comes to care for us first by His suffering and dying (Hebrews 2:10) and then in our suffering and dying (Romans 8:28).”

Confession of Faith written for Lutherans For Life by Dr. Richard Eyer of Concordia University, Mequon, Wisconsin.  Learn more about Lutherans for Life by following this link:

https://www.lutheransforlife.org/

kinda like grace by Ginger Sprouse — Book Review

This is another book I almost didn’t read.  It appeared on the “new purchases” list of the local library page, and at first I passed it by, then thought, why not?  I’m so glad I did.  It was on of those “can’t put it down” books, and you can read it in a day, so don’t miss it.

Kinda Like Grace: A Homeless Man, a Broken Woman, and the Decision That Made Them Family

The author, Ginger Sprouse, freely admits she made a mess of her life.  She has an affair, asks for a divorce, alienates her children and her father.  Through God’s grace she repents of her sins and gets back on track.  While reading this verse from Mark,

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31

she decides to take the parable of the Good Samaritan literally.  She stops by to talk with the crazy-looking, smelly, homeless man named Victor that she normally drove past every day.  She discovered that Victor’s greatest need wasn’t cash or food, but human companionship.  Gradually she befriends him.  She brings him lunch from McDonald’s and she sits and talks with him.  In his lucid moments, she learns more about his life.  Eventually she begins inviting Victor to her home, and finally to live with her and her second husband.

You’ll enjoy the story of Ginger’s spiritual journey and the development of her relationship with Victor.  If you’re anything like me, it will challenge you and your perspective on the homeless.

VERDICT:  5 stars.  Read this one for sure!

Difference Makers by Gregg Matte–Book Review

According to Gregg Matt, senior pastor of First Baptist Houston and founder of Breakaway Ministries at Texas A&M University, difference makers are what our world needs most.  Difference makers understand that as Christians we are each called to do something.  We can each make a difference somewhere.  Throughout the book, he encourages readers to say this prayer:

“I was made for more than watching.  I have a history-changing, difference-making, life-giving, Spirit-empowered legacy to leave.  Jesus I ask you to work deeply in me and clearly through me as I pray, give, and go in your love.  I am a difference maker.”

Difference making starts with the heart.  Difference makers have courage, point to their Savior, and are willing to meet all sorts of people, wherever they are in their life journey.  They are secure in their identity in Christ, and unashamed of who they are.  They are willing to risk everything for the glory of God and the well-being of others.  Rather than running from trouble, they run toward it and have peace in the midst of chaos because Jesus is with them.  They continually worship God.  They are completely dependent on God, who is the real difference maker.

Difference Makers

Pastor Matte illustrates each of these points with Biblical examples, and also draws on his own experience.  Too many of us have become comfortable with what he calls a sort of “lazy Christianity.”  Believing that we are going to heaven when we die, we’re content to sit on the sidelines and accept the status quo.  However, that isn’t what we were created to do.  God wants to use us to make a difference in the lives of others.

Hopefully many Christians will read this book and take seriously our calling to “give and go” so that the Gospel is witnessed throughout the world.

VERDICT:  4 Stars.  I didn’t learn anything new, but it was inspiring and Biblically sound.  It could be great reading for a small group study.

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

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/difference-makers-P005813792

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

In the Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.   Genesis 1:1

I’m writing this post from the Annual Conference of the AFLC (Association of Free Lutheran Churches) being held at Spruce Lake Retreat Center in Pennsylvania. The presentation on the first day of the conference was given by a professor on the topic of evolution vs. creation.  These days, it is assumed that everything, including mankind, came about through some sort of cosmic accident.  We simply evolved.  When looking at the evidence, this is revealed to be another example of what I call “stinkin’ thinkin’.”

Why?  Well, one indication that something was created by an intelligent designer is the complexity and specificity of the item.  For example, do you look at a picture of Mount Rushmore and say, “this was formed through centuries of wind and erosion?”  No.  You look at it and say, “this is so complex and specific that someone created it.  You can not only see faces, you can tell who those faces are meant to be.”

Dr. Bierle explained to us that each human being has a genetic code.  This code is comprised of four letters made into three letter words.  The letters making up genetic code for one person would fill 850 Bibles!  That’s pretty complex and specific.  Do you really believe this could occur by accident?

If you would like to learn more about how to speak convincingly about why the theory of evolution is not as plausible as belief in an intelligent creator, the link below will take you to FaithSearch International, which is Dr. Bierle’s organization:

https://faithsearch.org/

 

Beginning the Service (and the day)

This “morning hymn” is often used at the beginning of the service.  It was written by Bishop Thomas Ken in 1697 and after all this time it’s still a good way to start the worship service and your day.

 

Begin With Prayer

This particular verse has been coming up over and over again for me, in different books, prayers and sermons.  So I decided that God really wanted me to H.E.A.R. it.

Highlight

“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'”  Matthew 9:37-38

Explain

As Jesus went about teaching and healing, He had compassion for the many people following Him, because they were lost and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  He told his disciples to begin by praying that God would send workers out to them.  He doesn’t tell them to get organized, make a plan or start immediately.  Prayer comes first.  In the next chapter, He gives the disciples the authority to heal and sends them out.  They were to be the workers!

Apply

I am both to pray for workers and be a worker.  Like Jesus, I must have compassion for those around me and a desire to tell them about the true leader, Jesus Christ–the only one who is able to save them.

Respond

Dear Heavenly Father, Remove all fears of rejection from my heart.  Send me to your helpless sheep.  Fill me with love and a holy yearning to bring others into your kingdom.  Amen.

 

Who Will Play With Me by Randall Goodgame–Book Review

In size, illustration and presentation, Who Will Play with Me? reminds me of the many Dr. Suess books my children loved as preschoolers.  It’s just the right length for a read aloud book for this age group, and the winsome characters (Slug and Bug) will inspire interest and amusement.

Not overtly Christian, the story encourages children to be kind and put others first.  It also points how our diversity as individuals helps us to accomplish more together.  All of our traits are worthy and useful in different situations.   The book ends with a quote from Philippians 2:3:

“In humility, value others above yourselves.”

The author, Randall Goodgame is the well-known creator of Slugs and Bugs music and you can visit SlugsandBugs.com to find more of his products.

VERDICT:  Overall, this looks like a fun, cute book for young children.  My only criticism is the rhyming dialog seemed a bit forced, and lacked bounce.  I give it a 4.

Want to order the book?  Click on the link below:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/who-will-play-with-me-P005811096

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 Death

Why are we so afraid when we think about death? … Death is only dreadful for those who live in dread and fear of it. Death is not wild and terrible, if only we can be still and hold fast to God’s Word. Death is not bitter, if we have not become bitter ourselves. Death is grace, the greatest gift of grace that God gives to people who believe in him. Death is mild, death is sweet and gentle; it beckons to us with heavenly power, if only we realize that it is the gateway to our homeland, the tabernacle of joy, the everlasting kingdom of peace.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Celebrating the Best Beginning

This song composed by David Ruis is a celebration of the best new beginning we will ever experience.  We sing it on Via de Cristo retreats.  Listening to it will cause you to long for that day when we dance with Christ on the streets that are golden!

“The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.”  Revelation 21:21

 

 

 

No End

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but whoever hates correction is stupid.  Proverbs 12:1

I learned in Fanning the Flame that there is one thing in life that should have no end — learning.  Good leaders are lifelong learners.  When I encounter a problem, my first impulse — get a book about it!  Look it up on the internet!  And of course, does the Bible have anything to say on tis issue?  I love to read, study and learn, so I don’t understand why this isn’t the case with everyone.

The verse above from Proverbs addresses some of the reasons people don’t like to learn.  Number one:  learning takes discipline.  God doesn’t just pour knowledge into our brains, we have to seek it out.  Number Two (this is a big Lutheran one):  we never did it that way before.  Once we set out to learn about something, we may find out that we’re wrong!  We may have to begin something new.  We may have to change and step outside of our comfort zone.  Now, these things are not easy for me either.  Loving to read about or study a subject doesn’t mean that I always like what I find, or have an easy time assimilating it into my life.  It just makes it easier to take that first step.

The thing is, everyone studies the things that really interest them.  What is your passion?  If it’s your children, you may have a computer app (like my daughter) that tells you about each developmental stage they are passing through.  If it’s health and fitness, you probably go to the gym, take exercise classes and buy equipment and DVD’s to use at home.  Is it sports?  I bet you’re glued to the TV each time your favorite team plays, and you can recite the relevant statistics of key players.

As Christians, whether study comes naturally or not, we should have a passion for God and His Word.  That means we will want to learn about Him and read His book.  These days there are a host of ways to do this.  There are audio books;  there are computer programs;  there are movies.  There are many translations of the Bible.  You can join into Sunday School, Bible study or a small group.  Ask your Pastor or a friend like me who loves to learn.  They’ll help you find the right spot to live and learn.