Garrison Keillor on Books

If you don’t know who Garrison Keillor, is you should.  He’s a writer and humorist, who pokes gentle fun of all things Lutheran.  Here’s what he has to say about books:

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.”


“One reads books in order to gain the privilege of living more than one life.  People who don’t read are trapped in a mine shaft, even if they think the sun is shining.”

For more quotes about books and reading see:

Read More Books!

More About Books & Reading





Another Blast from the Past

My last post that mentioned the book of Ecclesiastes, made me think of this song from a time long ago and far away — when I was a college student.  If you’re may age, you may remember it, too.  It was written by Pete Seeger, and became a hit when recorded by the Byrds.

For more about music that takes you back, see:

A Blast From the Past

Music that Takes You Back



A New Chapter

“There is a time for everything. and a season for every activity under heave

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

My husband is retiring after Easter, so I’ll be entering a whole new season of my life.  If you’re a book lover, like I am, you might think of it as a new chapter.  We’ve decided we’ll keep living in the same place, but many things are uncertain.  Will we continue attending the same church?  How will we fill the extra time?  How will the reduction in our income affect our lifestyle?

I’m the kind of person who has a hard time of letting go of what I have and the life in which I’ve become comfortable.  I’m an introvert, so it takes me time to adjust to new circumstances and new people.  It isn’t easy, so if I have a choice, I’ll often prefer to stay where I am — even if it isn’t so good– because at least things are familiar.

I’ve learned, however, that moving on can be an adventure.  I wasn’t excited about becoming a Pastor’s wife and leaving my home congregation;  now I can see that I’ve grown and done some exciting things I would never have tried if I hadn’t been forced to change.  I wasn’t very happy about my own retirement — but the last eight years have been some of the most happy and fulfilling of my life.

There’s a time for everything.  Right now, it feels like a time of scattering, tearing down and uprooting.  But God has a plan, and I’m looking forward to see what He’ll do with this new chapter in my life.  It’s bound to be a good one so I’m going to keep reading!

For more about retirement see this post:

Reimagine Retirement by C.J. Cagle– Book Review

For more about the book of Ecclesiastes see:

God Moments in Ecclesiastes

A Time for Everything


Philippians Chapter 1 — What Stands Out

Recently I read a book about spiritual disciplines (Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review) that made me think about something I haven’t done for a while –lection divina.  This is a practice of reading a short portion of Scripture prayerfully, several times, and noticing what word or phrase stands out for you– what’s going on in your life, and what might God be saying to you through this right now.

Here’s what jumped out for me in the first chapter of Philippians:

“I thank God every time I remember you.”  Philippians 1:3

I’m seventy now, so I have a lot of people to remember;  family members and friends from my youth who are still important to me;  my husband, Terry, who has been my life companion;  spiritual mentors and soul friends who have walked with me through different parts of my journey with Jesus; co-workers who helped me and taught me about teamwork;  my children and grandchildren who have made joyful memories for me;  even difficult people who caused me pain have been part of shaping my life, and through them I have learned to be humble, understanding, empathetic and forgiving– after all, I have sometimes been a difficult person, too.

This month of Thanksgiving is a good time to remember and give thanks for all the people God has sent into our lives, whether they’ve been there for a reason, a season or a lifetime. We are not meant to live alone.  Every person in your life is a gift. Pray for them.  Cherish them.  Remember them.

“It is right for me to feel this way about you, since I have you in my heart; …. all of you share in God’s grace with me  God can testify how I long for you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:7-8

For more lectia divina see these posts:

What Stands Out–Jude

What Stands Out? Hebrews Chapter 10

What Stands Out?


John Stott on the Christian Community

“The invisible God, who once made himself visible in Christ, now makes himself visible in Christians, if we love one another.  God is love in his essential being, and has revealed his love in the gift of his Son to live and die for us  Now he calls us to be a community of love, loving each other in the intimacy of his family –especially across the barriers of age and sex, race and rank–and loving the world he loves in its alienation, hunger, poverty and pain.  It is through the quality of our loving that God makes himself visible today.  We cannot proclaim the gospel of God’s love with any degree of integrity if we do not exhibit it in our love for others.”

John Stott

For more posts about loving one another see:

Little Children, Love One Another

Love One Another

By Our Love




the voices we carry by j.s. park–Book Review

Do you hear voices?  Don’t worry, according to J. S. Park, hospital chaplain, blogger and teaching pastor, this is perfectly normal.  We all have both external and internal voices that are constantly speaking to us, and they have unimaginable power.

The four internal voices are valuations.  They rate others and ourselves and confer moral judgements.  Exalting voices lead to pride and self-justification (when applied to ourselves) or people pleasing (when applied to others).  Condemning voices can cause self-doubt and insecurity (with ourselves) or judgement and resentment (of others).

The external voices are precipitated by events and situations outside of ourselves, things we can’t control.  They are guilt (what I did), family dynamics (what I grew up with);  trauma (what was done to me) and grief (what I lost).

We can’t eliminate these voices, and they are not all bad.  The challenge, according to Park, is to develop our own strong, internal voice composed of our non-negotiables and values.  This gives us a reference point, and a way to evaluate all the other voices that come swooping in to confuse and distract.  Park quotes a pastor friend who puts it like this:

“God made you the way He made you because He wanted to say something through you that He can’t through anyone else.”

In other words, finding your voice means finding the genuine you along with the story you want to tell, and then telling it well.  It is the message and hope you want to speak into the world.

Park relies upon stories from his experience as a chaplain and his own life to illustrate and illuminate his points.  It requires some understanding of psychology and a self-reflective mind bent to appreciate fully.

VERDICT:  FOUR STARS.  Not everyone will like it, but I did. I do wish more time had been spent on the “how” of developing an authentic personal voice.

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

For other books from Moody Publishers see:

The Counselor by A.W. Tozer–Book Review

The Other Half of Church by Jim Wilder & Michel Hendricks–Book Review

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.

Fatima — Movie Review

This well-done film tells the true story of three young children in Portugal, who during World War I see visions of the Virgin Mary.  Her message is to pray and suffer for the conversion of sinners, in order to bring the war to an end.  The youngsters are persecuted and asked to recant over and over by their parents, as well as religious and political leaders, who believe the visions to be distracting and dangerous.  However, the three remain firm — they saw “the lady of the rosary” and she will perform a miracle so that others believe in her.  The miracle occurred on October 13th, 1917 when a large crowd had gathered.  After heavy rain, the sun came out and various unusual solar activity was described — different colors, the sun dancing or zig-zagging and coming close to the earth.  The drenched earth and people became immediately dry.

The plot progresses through a series of flashbacks, as the oldest child, Lucia, now a nun, describes her experiences to an interviewer writing a book about the events.  All of the characters, both believers and doubters are portrayed sensitively and compassionately. The roles are well-acted.   The goal of the film seems to be to present the facts dispassionately, without influencing the viewer to a particular viewpoint.  As Sister Lucia says:

“I can only give you my testimony.  I can’t explain everything.”

Isn’t this all any of us can do?  What came through most clearly was the determination of three young children (age 7-10) to hold firm to the vision they believed to be authentic. In 1930 the Catholic Church accepted the events at Fatima as a miracle;  the two younger children (Francisco and Jacinto) died a few years after the sightings, and were canonized in 2017.  Sister Lucia lived to be almost 98, and her cause for canonization is still in progress.

VERDICT:  5 Stars.  You will enjoy this movie and learn something about the history of this famous event in Catholic history, even if you chose not to accept its’ veracity.

For other movie reviews see these posts:

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? — Movie Review

Unplanned — Movie Review

The War Room – it’s all about prayer


The Light of the World

“Again Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” John 8:12

We’re  in that dark season of the year when the days keep getting shorter.  We’re in a dark time, as well, as the coronavirus is still surging and our political leaders are at odds with one another. But light is coming into the world as well — the light of the world that we remember at Christmas — Jesus!  I’m reminded of this beautiful hymn written by Philip Bliss(1838-1876).  It was written for a revival meeting and was sung by Ira D. Sankey.  It remains a favorite today.  If your life is filled with darkness today, come to the light

For another hymn by Philip Bliss go to this post:

Words of Life



Lovingkindness by William R. Miller–Book Review

What is lovingkindness?  The term was first used by Myles Coverdale in 1535 as a translation for the Hebrew word “hesed” as used in the Scripture.  According to the author, there are closely related concepts from Baha’i, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, and so he does not address it as specifically Christian.  I also take issue with his view of human nature, as he believes:

“… our fundamental, natural, intended, and mature nature– is lovingkindness.”

Lovingkindness may be our intended nature, and as we progress in sanctification, it will become more apparent in us;  however, original sin prevents it from being our fundamental nature.

That being said, the book does contain information that is helpful in cultivating lovingkindness  in our lives.  Miller defines lovingkindness quite simply — to act for the well-being of others.  It can be sacrificial in a heroic way, or found in the many small choices we make every day.  If we practice lovingkindness as a discipline, it will become an integral part of our character.

He lists and discusses these twelve attributes of lovingkindness::

  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Contentment
  • Generosity
  • Hope
  • Affirmation
  • Forgiveness
  • Patience
  • Humility
  • Gratitude
  • Helpfullness
  • Willingness to yield

Each quality is covered in a separate chapter, along with practical suggestions about practices you might undertake to increase that virtue in your own life.  At its’ heart lovingkindness are the following characteristics:

  • It is chosen.  It cannot be done grudgingly
  • It is enacted.  It is not just the emotion of sympathy, but compassionate action.
  • It is empathetic, having an interest and understanding of other views, even when they differ from our own..
  • It is selfless.  It cannot be done for personal gain or rewards.
  • It is consistent, a way of living, not an isolated act.

He also discusses some obstacles to lovingkindness:

  • Inattention
  • Fear and anger
  • Privilege

VERDICT:  3 STARS.  I disagree with some of the author’s premises, but he has provided an accurate description of lovingkindness, as well as some helpful suggestions for growing it in our relationships with others..

For more on the topic of kindness see these posts:

Deep Kindness by Houston Kraft–Book Review

Apathy, Sympathy or Empathy?

The War For Kindness by Jamil Zaki — Book Review



The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn–Book Review

A friend asked me to read this book, and I had to force myself to finish it.  The author is obviously a clever man, well-versed in the Bible and history, and therefore able to come up with many connections that seem “amazing” on the surface.  He relates a variety of prophecies from Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah to present day events starting with 9-11.  These are “harbingers” or omens of a coming judgement on the United States.

Do I agree that our country is going down sinful paths?  I do.  Do I believe that like other powerful societies ours will eventually end and that collapse may be brought about by our own pride and arrogance?  Very possibly.  What I don’t believe is that we need to discover exactly when and how it will happen by decoding secret information hidden in the Bible..  This smacks of Gnosticism, a heresy that obviously still persists.

There is no biblical reason to connect America with Israel.  The Bible is clear that the church has replaced Israel as the chosen people of God, not the United States or any other nation or ethnic group.  Scripture should now be read in light of that understanding.  We may like to think of the United States as a “Christian nation”  but in actuality that has never been the case.  Many of the first settlers did not come for religious freedom at all, and while some of the founding fathers were Christians, others weren’t.

In the final chapters of the novel, the main character is told by the prophet that he must “choose” his destiny before judgement day.  This goes against Lutheran belief that God chooses us.  In fact, the whole premise of the book, that we can repent and turn from our errors is wrong  The point of the entire Old Testament, is that the people of Israel couldn’t do this, not matter how hard they tried  Sin will always prevail in both national and personal life — that’s why we need a Savior.

I suppose, like some other books, it might be possible to simply enjoy The Harbinger as fiction, ignoring the glaring theological errors.  Fiction is not theology, after all.  In this case, however, the author specifically says in his introduction that while the form of his work is a story, the information contained is real.  It is not meant to be read as a fanciful or interesting tale.  Furthermore, in my estimation, it also fails as a novel.  It is repetitious, slow and has very little dramatic suspense or plot.

VERDICT:  No stars.  My advice is don’t bother to read this.

For see what Lutherans believe about the end times see:

Lutherans and the End Times