How High is Heaven by Linsey Davis–Book Review

Children have lots of questions when someone they love dies. In this book, a little boy wonders how to get to heaven where his grandmother now lives. Can he get there by building a staircase, by jumping, by flying, in a hot air balloon, on a plane? Finally in church he learns that there is a way to get to heaven, but it’s not about travel or anything else we can do. It’s a gift that comes through grace and faith.

The illustrations are colorful and attractive, and the bouncy rhymes make it fun to read. It will also help parents to discussing death and heaven with young children.

I did have a few theological concerns. At one point, the author says that heaven “will be our reward.” Of course, as Lutherans, we know we don’t deserve a reward! Heaven is about getting what we don’t deserve. It also implies that grandma is “watching over me.” There’s no biblical basis for believing this and I personally wouldn’t teach it, even to children.


For more books for children see these posts:

Birds of the Air by S.E.M. Ishida

Every Which Way to Pray by Joyce Meyer–Book Review

God is Hope by Amy Parker–Book Review

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

1 Thessalonians 4–What Stands Out

As part of my morning devotion, I read a chapter of Scripture, noting what pops out and catches my attention. This is a technique known as lectio divina. Recently, in reading through 1 Thessalonians, this phrase caught my attention:

“… we will always be with the Lord.”1 Thessalonians 4:17b

Here, Paul is referring to the second coming of Christ, and how all the believers still living will be caught up into the heavens to be with Jesus forever– but what occurs to me is we don’t have to wait for that privilege–we are with the Lord right now! We, the chosen people of God, the church, are part of Christ’s body, and in that spiritual sense, we are always with Him.

When Jesus was about to be crucified, He promised His disciples that He would not leave them alone. He would send them:

“… another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…”John 14:16b-17a

This is the Holy Spirit, Who indwells us and guides us. This should be a continuing comfort and consolation during difficult times.

Our union with Christ is complete here and now. We are part of His body, and He is part of us. If we live in that reality, we are never alone; and we don’t have to wait!

For more lectio divina studies see:

What Stands Out–Nehemiah

Exodus Chapter 3–What Stands Out

1 Peter Chapter 3–What Stands Out?

John Piper on Waiting for God

To wait on God means to pause and soberly consider our own inadequacy and the Lord’s all-sufficiency, and to seek counsel and help from the Lord, and to hope in Him (Psalm. 33:20-22; Isa. 8:17) … The folly of not waiting for God is that we forfeit the blessing of having God work for us. The evil of not waiting on God is that we oppose God’s will to exalt Himself in mercy.” John Piper

For more about waiting for God see:

Waiting For God

The Result of Waiting

Waiting to Understand

Another Gospel by Alisa Childers–Book Review

This book falls into the category of apologetics (works that are written to justify Christian doctrines). It’s also the story of one person’s journey to understand and affirm the faith she practices.

As a young woman, Alisa Childers joins a church with a pastor who is “progressive.” He invites her and others to a class in which he deconstructs the beliefs she has always been taught. He asks many questions she cannot answer, such as:

*Why do we think the stories in the Bible are true and inspired by God?

*Aren’t the creeds just the opinions of the religious sect who “won”?

*Why would a good God at times seem so cruel?

*Why would God require a blood sacrifice for our sins?

*Didn’t Jesus overturn the religious beliefs of His time?

*Would God really condemn people to Hell?

Alisa turns to the Scriptures themselves, to early historians and the church fathers in order to “reconstruct” the foundation of the faith that she believes. While the progressives tell her that their slant on things can be compared to a candy bar that is the same, just in a different wrapper, she comes to disagree — they are preaching a different gospel altogether. She realizes that the terms they use may sound like the “church speak” she has always heard, they have redefined those words in subtle but important ways.

For anyone who is wrestling with contemporary views of Christianity, this is a great resource. It will enable you to better understand and defend traditional views of the faith. Ms. Childers has done all the homework for you! It is not a difficult read, and there are discussion questions and further resources you might be interested in at the end.

VERDICT 5 Stars. You might want to use this for a book club, or small group study.

For more on apologetics see:

Surviving Religion 101 by Michael J. Kruger–Book Review

Why I Still Believe by Mary Jo Sharp –Book Review

Film Review — The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

Waiting is Worthwhile

I mentioned in my previous post that I recently attended a Via de Cristo retreat weekend. At the beginning of each weekend, participants are told, “don’t judge the weekend until it is finished.” Things that seem uncomfortable or maybe confusing become clear as time passes. In other words, WAIT, get the full picture before you make a decision.

I realized that this is good advice about many things in life. When we prejudge a person, or an event, we often get it wrong. I can think of people who didn’t impress me at our first meeting, who became friends with much to appreciate. I have had work environments that started out feeling uncomfortable but became nurturing with time and attention. In the book of John, we read:

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. “John 7:24

In other words, don’t make a determination when the information you have is superficial. Be patient. Sit with it a while. See how things play out. Pray for God to open your eyes so that you can see His will. Keep your heart open, too! Our Lord is full of surprises! Don’t miss out on a blessing because you didn’t wait.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. “Psalm 27:14

For more about Lutheran Via de Cristo see:

Vineyard Via de Cristo — Some History

What’s My Ideal?

A Via de Cristo Prayer of Confession and Forgiveness

You Don’t Have to Wait for Gods’ Love!

I’m writing this shortly after returning from a Via de Cristo retreat weekend. There is always lots of singing on these retreats, and music is a powerful dynamic that helps the participants move into a closer relationship with Christ and with each other. This morning I thought I would share a song that was used that was new to me. It was the first song ever written by the band, We The Kingdom and was originally intended to touch the hearts of a group of high school students. Soon the band members realized that God was speaking to them as well. Listen this morning and bask in the reality of Gods’ love for you!

Elisabeth Elliot on Waiting for God

“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”

Elisabeth Elliot

For more about Elisabeth Elliot see:

Elisabeth Elliot on Surrender

Becoming Elisabeth Elliot by Ellen Vaughn–Book Review

Empowered by Catherine Parks–Book Review

Waiting Isn’t Lazy

“Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given.”

G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945), British evangelist, preacher, teacher and author

This is a message I need to hear. I come from a family that valued hard work above all. Right now, I’m in an in-between state. My husband retired from the ministry, and so I gave up many duties that I had assumed, over the years. We’re still attending that church at times, but not regularly enough to take responsibility for on-going projects. We’ve been visiting and attending other churches where my husband fills in. I don’t feel like I have a stable church home right now. And I feel lazy. What is the next big thing God wants me to do? I don’t see it yet.

That’s why I’ve been reading and studying about waiting this month. I’ve learned that resting is a discipline, too (not one I’m particularly good at, as you can see). I’ve learned that peace comes from embracing the blessings of the present moment; and it means trusting that “at the very right time” God may have another task for me to complete, and when that time comes, He’ll also make sure I don’t miss it.

It’s been a fruitful month for me, learning about waiting. What about you?

For previous posts about waiting see:


Weak and Waiting

Waiting For God

United with Christ in Death and Resurrection

Well, our study group came to the end of our lessons on union with Christ. This past week we discussed how we share Christ’s death and His resurrection. This is a hard concept to grasp. We may tend to spiritualize it, but as humans, we are also physical. In the Bible, our bodies are described as temples of the Holy Spirit. So, we experience the sufferings and raising of Christ externally as well as internally.

What does this mean? Consider the example of Joseph in the Bible. Joseph is considered a “type” of Christ. This is a technical theological term which means that certain events or people in the Old Testament prefigure the fulfillment of God’s purpose in the New Testament. Like Jesus, Joseph is misunderstood, mistreated, and thrown in prison. However, we later understand that through his sufferings, he was elevated to a high position, and able to save his family from the famine.

Since we are united with Christ, we should expect to see similar things happening in our own lives. We may be persecuted, experience difficulties, or be humiliated (we probably will). However, in Christ, God works all of these things out for our good, and the good of others. We become like Christ through the cycles of death and resurrection in our own lives. This is the pattern God used with Jesus, and with us.

The apostle Paul said:

“… (we) boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 1:2b-5

In suffering we become more like Jesus, and more fruitful. We can comfort others in despair because of the experiences we have been through. Are you willing to suffer for Him?

For more about suffering see:

Suffer Strong by Katherine & Jay Wolf–Book Review

Behold the Man!

The Great Good Thing by Andrew Klavan — Book Review

Grateful While Waiting

In one of the books I recently reviewed (It’s Not Your Turn by Heather Thompson Day–Book Review), the author said during a time of waiting, her therapist suggested she look around and then asked, “what do you see?” She saw that despite her frustrations, she had many blessings– a family, a place to live, transportation, and so on. It reminded me of this song. During times when we are waiting and praying for some blessing, it’s wise to consider what we already have. Listen and count your own blessings:

For more posts about blessings see:


Mountaintop Blessings

Problems or Blessings #2