I Wanted to Know All About God by Virginia L. Kroll–Book Review

Young children are visual, literal learners, and this book by Virginia L. Kroll, teaches them how to experience and imagine God through His creation. It evokes the sights, sounds and smells of everyday life and reminds that God can be seen in both nature and the people around us.

The lovely, colorful illustrations by Debra Reid Jenkins depict children from different races and cultures enjoying a variety of outdoor activities. Youngsters (ages 4-8) will easily relate to scenes from the garden, the beach, a pond and a snowy forest.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. Attractive, well-done and age appropriate.

For more books for children see these posts:

Bedtime Blessings by Marianne Richmond–Book Review

Thanksgiving Graces by Mark Kimball Moulton — Book Review

Flashlight Night by Elisabeth Hasselbeck–Book Review

Psalm 50–What Stands Out?

Yesterday I posted about times of transition. During such times, it often seems that God is silent. We’re waiting for a clear direction, and just not getting one. However, in my devotional reading of Psalm 50, this verse jumped out:

“Our God comes, he does not keep silence.” Psalm 50:3

That led me to ponder, how does God speak to us? These examples come to mind:

  1. God speaks through His creation
  2. God speaks through the Holy Scriptures
  3. God speaks through the wise advice of our spiritual friends
  4. God speaks to us during the worship service

When we open our eyes and our ears, we’ll realize that God is never silent. We may not get the answer to our questions right now, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t there, or doesn’t care. It just means we need to wait and stay attentive.

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak” Psalm 50:

Keep listening!

For more posts about the Psalms see:

Martin Luther on the Psalms

Reading the Psalms With Luther–Book Review

A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller– Book Review

Times are Changing

I’ve been reading a lot lately about change and the concept of liminality. Liminality (from the Latin word līmen) means “a threshold.” It is the quality of ambiguity which occurs at the beginning of a major change, and it can be disorienting. During a liminal stage, one is standing between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way which has not yet been revealed or accomplished.

This is exactly where I’ve been since my husband retired a little over a year ago. He is no longer the pastor of our home congregation, and we are attending there only sporadically. We have given up the plethora of duties and roles we assumed there, and although we have not been idle, I feel a lack of permanence. This is scary, but also exciting. What will I do next? What does God have planned? Can I still be useful during this late stage of my life?

This transitional spot I’m standing in reminds me of chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews (my favorite book). It begins with:

” Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Then it lists many heroes of the Old Testament, describing the things they did in obedience to God’s call (this has been called the hall of fame of faith). It ends by saying:

“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40

You and I are part of that “great cloud of witnesses.” I don’t know where God is taking me next, but I know He has a plan– a plan that is better than anything I might dream up for myself. I may not feel comfortable, but I’m comforted! You should be, too.

For more posts about change see:

Are You Willing to Change?

A Generational Change

Fanning the Flame #10 — Creating a Culture For Change

What’s Your Idol?

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was a Dominican friar and priest. Coming from an influential family, the life of a cloistered scholar and became one of the most influential thinkers of the medieval period. As someone who had rejected worldly pursuits in order to pursue God, he became something of an expert about idols. Idols are those things that we often substitute for God. According to Aquinas, there are four:

  1. Money
  2. Power
  3. Pleasure
  4. Honor (fame and admiration)

An book I recently read suggested that each of us take a hard look at this list and rank our own idols. What motivates you more? Do you crave money because you believe if you only accumulate enough, you will feel secure? If you have a need to be in control, power may be the idol that attracts you. Maybe you pursue pleasure as a way to numb your emotions and distract you from your problems. Or you could be a people pleaser, who will sacrifice anything in order to be praised.

None of these idols will bring true satisfaction. As Aquinas says:

“.…when we already possess them, we despise them and seek others… The reason for this is that we realize more their insufficiency when we possess them: and this very fact shows that they are imperfect, and the sovereign good does not consist therein.”

Thomas didn’t just write about idols, he lived his life in a way that rejected them. We should do the same. So identify your particular weaknesses and work to eliminate them. When you do, you’ll be blessed by finding your true identity as a beloved child of God.

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.” Jonah 2:8

For more about idols see:

Run Away

Gifts or Fruit?

Keep in Step with the Spirit

A Prayer of Surrender from Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that my life may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul. Let them look up and no longer see me, only Jesus. Amen

 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. [16] To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?”  2 Corinthians 2:14-16

For more about Mother Teresa see these posts:

What About the Women?

Hopeful Saints

Dedicated continued ….

What’s Your Love Language?

Some years back Gary Chapman wrote a book about love languages. Since we all have different personalities, we each have a different expression of love that pleases us most. Chapman identified five different ways people show and receive love:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Physical Touch
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Gifts

I realized that we could apply each of these love expressions to our relationship with God. After all, we hear God speaking to us through the Scriptures, and also through his servants, our pastors. His presence is always available, and we experience it strongly when we pray. We feel His physical touch in the sacraments of baptism and communion. We are His hands and feet in the world when we serve others, and they feel His love through us. Everything we have is a gift from Him.

So, what’s your love language with God? I’m a word person, so I feel God’s love when I read the Bible, hear the readings and hymns in church, listen to a sermon, even when I read secular books. I feel His guidance as I study. I long to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” In the same way, I am drawn to using words to encourage others, to write articles for my blog, our denominational magazine, our church newsletter or even notes to thank or comfort. For me, love is verbal.

This may not be your way. We all have spiritual gifts and our unique talents and personalities influence how those gifts are best used. We all have a deep need for love, and God knows the best way to touch each of us. He knows every love language.

Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
 I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you. Psalm 63:4-5

For more posts about God’s love see:

Hesed–God’s Love in Action

Martin Luther on God’s Love (Agape)

Perfect Love

God Loves the Animals by Jan & Mike Berenstain–Book Review

This sturdy board book brings back fond memories for me — my daughters loved the Berenstain Bears books, and we read many of them together. In this story the little bears and their parents take a nature walk. Along the way they observe many animals in their natural habitat, and marvel at how God provided them with a place to live and food to eat.

The illustrations are bright and colorful, and young children will enjoy pointing out their favorite animal. Names of the animals are printed in bold to help beginning readers learn new words.

“God made the wild animals according to their kinds, and all the creatures that moved along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:25

In case you are wondering this Berenstain Bears book is part of the Living Lights series published by Zonderkidz. Mike Berenstain, son of Stan and Jan Berenstain is a Christian, although he reports being raised in a secular household.


For more books for children see these posts:

Flashlight Night by Elisabeth Hasselbeck–Book Review

The Edge of Everywhen by A.S. Mackey–Book Review

This Little Light of Mine by Kathleen Long Bostrom

Fix Me Jesus

A book I’ve been using recently mentioned an African-American spiritual called Fix Me, Jesus. Since I was unfamiliar with this song, I decided to look it up. I enjoyed listening to it, and hope you will, too.

For more spirituals see these posts:

Were You There?

It’s Me

The Black Church–This is Our Story This is Our Song–Film Review

Litany of Humility

A book I am reading mentioned this litany, written by an early twentieth century Spanish Catholic cardinal, Rafael Merry del Val y Zuluenta. I looked it up and found it very moving. Maybe we should each be inspired to write our own prayer, asking that we be delivered from our personal besetting desires and fears.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus. (repeat after each line)
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. (repeat after each line)
That others may be esteemed more than I ,
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should

For more about humility see these posts:

The Gift of Humility

Rest in Humility

Remembering to be Humble

Grieving with Hope

I just finished a book about grieving and the brain. It explained that while our conscious mind understands that a loved one is dead, our unconscious brain still expects to see them. After years of being close to a person, a part of our being assumes that they are still somewhere nearby — even if we know they are gone. That accounts for the way we might mistakenly “see” our dead spouse in a crowd or expect them to walk in the door at their usual time. Our brain has been trained to expect this. It’s perfectly normal.

I realized that, as Christians, there may be a reason our brains react this way. It’s not an illusion it’s the truth. Those we love have not ceased to exist, they simply exist in another place– a place where we hope to join them in time. As the apostle Paul explains in 1 Thessalonians:

1Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 1fter that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

That doesn’t mean we won’t grieve. It doesn’t mean we don’t need to learn new routines and develop new relationships. It does mean that we have an assurance that those we care about are not gone forever. They are with the Lord, and someday we’ll be there too.

For more about grief see these posts:

Budding Again

Hope From the Broken by Tricia Kline — Book Review

Reclaiming Life: Faith, Hope and Suicide Loss–Film Review