About jculler1972

My husband is the retired pastor of St. Paul's Free Lutheran Church in Leitersburg, Maryland. I have two grown daughters, three grandchildren and am retired after a career in Purchasing. I have published articles in The Lutheran Ambassador, Lutheran Witness, and Lutheran Digest. My Bible study on the Book of Acts was published in 2016 by the Women's Missionary Federation of the AFLC(Association of Free Lutheran Churches).

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:

Waiting…

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:

Blessings

Mountaintop Blessings

Problems or Blessings #2

It’s Not Your Turn by Heather Thompson Day–Book Review

Do you ever feel that things are falling into place for everyone around you, while your wheels are spinning but you’re going nowhere? In this book subtitled, “what to do while you’re waiting for your breakthrough”, Heather Day gives some suggestions for turning a time of waiting into a time to grow, to learn and to listen. Her most important advice is to realize that sometimes it’s just not your turn — but you can still applaud and be happy for others.

Much of Heather’s advice deals with adjusting our attitude, letting God transform our minds. For example, instead of dwelling on what we do not have, or haven’t accomplished, look around and really see what we have already been given as disciples of Christ. She stresses setting goals and working toward them in small steps and developing positive relationships with others.

Each chapter ends with a Bible memory verse, and some discussion questions which could easily be used for journaling.

VERDICT: 3.5 STARS. The author is a biracial millennial, so I’m in a very different place than she is, and I didn’t agree with all of her opinions. Putting that aside, there were many interesting statistics and worthwhile recommendations.

For more book reviews see:

Faith In God by Kevin McFadden –Book Review

The Great Passion by James Runcie–Book Review

Good Enough by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie–Book Review

Dream Big, My Precious One by Jill Roman Lord–Book Review

This book is a delight to all the senses! Lovely illustrations (kudos to illustrator Brittany Lakin), lively rhymes, excellent content.

Mom encourages her little one to dream big, listing the many jobs, tasks and roles that he may fulfil in his life. Some are achievable right now — ride a bike, paint and draw — others are for later –designing cars, exploring Mars. Some are secular–open a store–others are altruistic–serve the poor. She emphasizes that our dreams are not just for us, they are meant to help others in ways we may not even see. Best of all, God is with us in all our dreams, whether they are fully realized or not.

The book closes with this verse from 1 Chronicles:

“Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” 1 Chronicles 28:20

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I loved it!

For more books for children see:

I Can Only Imagine by Bart Millard — Book Review

Little Sweet Pea, God Loves You — Book Review

The Great Farmapalooza by Jill Roman Lord — Book Review

The Saints Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter –Book Review

This review was actually written by my husband, who is a retired pastor. He has a strong interest in Puritanism and Richard Baxter is an important figure in that theological movement.

Among those who appreciate the writings of the old Puritan divines, Richard Baxter is considered unusual. He held views on some topics that were not those of other Reformed theologians and engaged in long standing disputes with other nonconformists in 17th century England, especially with John Owen. On the other hand, some of his writings have continued to this day to have a strong hold on the imaginations of many orthodox Reformation theologians. His book, The Reformed Pastor, is certainly one of the best books on pastoral theology written in English and should probably sit on every pastor’s shelf.

The Saints Everlasting Rest, is a devotional book written by Baxter as he contemplated his own death during a severe illness (although he lived many years afterward). Baxter argues that Christians spend far too little time pondering the glory which awaits the believer and that if we would do so our lives in this world would overflow with patience, joy, and a lively Christian lifestyle. As a pastor, Baxter was not content to simply encourage people to think about the glory that awaits a follower of Christ, but he gives instructions on how that can be done by the believer.

Dr. Tim Cooper, who edited the book, is a professor of Church History at Otego University in New Zealand and a well-known student of Puritanism, and especially of Richard Baxter. Because the 17th century style of writing was excessively verbose, he has shaped a new abridgement of this work. Also, in order to make the work more accessible to the modern reader, Cooper has modernized some of the archaic usages without losing or lessening the flavor and message of one of the most prolific Puritan writers.

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

https://www.crossway.org/books/the-saints-everlasting-rest-hcj/

For more about the Puritans see these posts:

Who were (are?) the Puritans?

Heaven is a World of Love by Jonathan Edwards — Book Review

Beyond Stateliest Marble by Douglas Wilson — Book Review

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

Waiting for Wonder by Marlo Schalesky–Book Review

I’ve been using this book as a part of my morning devotional reading and have really enjoyed it. In fourteen short chapters, the author leads us through the life of Sarah during her long wait to see the promises of God fulfilled. In each one, there is a brief meditation from Sarah’s point of view, as well as some of Ms. Schalesky’s own experiences. She invites us to apply the message of faithful waiting to our own lives, and to see it as a blessing.

“Legacy is born in the waiting. A life that matters is not built through a big bang of success, but through God’s work in the long wait. It was true for Sarah. It is true for us. God is working in our waiting to create a masterpiece, to create a life that points to the wonder of his majesty and love.”

If you are waiting for something in your own life — something to change, something to happen, some way to understand what seems unfathomable, this may be the book for you. Biblically based and realistic (yes, we will all fall down at times, just as Sarah did), it encourages a thoughtful perspective. God is at work, even when we cannot see Him.

VERDICT: 5 STARS

For more book reviews see:

Faith In God by Kevin McFadden –Book Review

A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller–Book Review

Women of Courage: a Forty-Day Devotional — Book Review

The Result of Waiting

I’m reading a book about Sarah, wife of Abraham, and her long wait for a child. According to the author:

“The point of waiting is not discouragement, despair, or a hardening of one’s heart. The purpose is to birth laughter, to embrace joy.”

As you listen to this song, remember Sarah and ponder how the difficulties of waiting can lead to greater blessings than we ever imagined.

For more contemporary Christian music, see these posts:

No Scars In Heaven

Blessings

When God Waits

I found this recently, going through some information I have used when training Via De Cristo teams.The author is Rober C. Palms — I know nothing about him, and I don’t remember where or how I received this short meditation, but It is meaningful to me, and I hope it will touch your heart also.

I love you.

We say it to our children as we take them into our arms. “I love you!”

It is a different love — our love for our children, God’s love for us.

When God says, “I love you,” it is a giving love, a forgiving love. Only God has the ultimate forgiving love because only God knows the full dimension of our need for forgiveness. We cannot know that ourselves — we aren’t big enough.

We are like children before God, but that’s acceptable. Jesus told us to “become as little children” (Matthew 18:31). We need to be loved, we want to be loved, and that’s ok too–God created us with that need. God placed in us needs that only He can satisfy. All other forms of love are at best, reflections of His greater love.

“I love you,” God calls.

We might argue back, “No, You don’t because if you did ….”

“I love you,” God calls.

We sometimes respond, “How could You! I don’t even love myself.”

“I love you,” God says.

And we reply, “Prove it.”

“I love you, “God says, “because I do know you and I do understand you, and I have proved it to you.”

“I love you,” God says again.

And then He waits. The next word to be spoken is ours

For more posts about God’s love see:

Hesed–God’s Love in Action.

Perfect Love

Martin Luther on God’s Love (Agape)

Waiting for Jesus

The Sunday School class at our church has been studying the end times. It’s a topic people become passionate about, and they don’t always agree. Most Lutherans are amillennialists. That means we believe the end times started when Jesus ascended. We’re in the thousand-year reign right now. When He comes again, that will truly be the end. No tribulation, no rapture. We also believe that many of the prophecies about Israel now apply to the church. We are the new Israel.

We don’t spend time trying to predict when Jesus will come, because the Bible specifically tells us that nobody will know. In the book of Matthew, we read:

 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:36-37

Like the five wise virgins in the parable, we can only wait and be ready, because the Bridegroom will arrive in His own time.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Matthew 25:13

Many Christians get caught up in speculation fueled by the Left Behind book series and movie. They seem to believe that denying the rapture is the same as denying Christ, but it’s not. As I once told someone, “I don’t believe in the rapture, but if I’m wrong and there is one, I do believe that God will take me.” This is not salvific issue (i.e., our view about this will neither save nor condemn us), and we should not allow it to separate us from other believers.

The message of the Scripture is clear: Watch and wait! Be ready!

For more about the end times see these posts:

Lutherans and the End Times

Unraptured by Zack Hunt — Book Review

Perhaps Today