About jculler1972

My husband is the pastor of St. Paul's Free Lutheran Church in Leitersburg, Maryland. I have two grown daughters and a granddaughter 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).

It’s Hard to be Humble!

“True humility does not know that it is humble. If it did, it would be proud from the contemplation of so fine a virtue.”
Martin Luther
I guess this means we cannot decide to be humble!
For other quotes by Martin Luther, see these posts:

Passing

Recently I’ve read a couple of books about passing (another of those Godcidences, not deliberate).  Passing is basically, pretending to be something you’re not.  For example, in one book, an African-American character is so fair skinned, he is able to “pass” as Caucasian.  In another, a Caucasian decides to “pass” as African-American in order to marry the woman he loves.

This made me think about the ways we Christians “pass” as something we are not. For example, we may “pass” as the kind of person who really doesn’t struggle with sin, because our besetting sins are the kind we can hide — maybe covetousness or lack of trust in God.  We may put on a façade of being at peace with God and others, while inside we are in turmoil.  We may mask unforgiveness with outward courtesy.  We may do all the right things with the wrong motives. When we behave this way we are no better than the Pharisees, and you know what Jesus said to them!

.. You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the
inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”  Matthew 23:27

Sometimes we deliberately “pass” and other times we simply allow others to think that what they see on the outside is the whole story.  Sometimes we even fool ourselves with our “passing.”

When we “pass” we harm ourselves and others.  We deny ourselves true repentance and solace;  we deny our brothers and sisters the comfort of knowing that we are all alike:

“… for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God …” Romans 3:23

This doesn’t mean we need to tell everyone all of our business.  It does mean we should be honest and authentic.  There are plenty of appropriate times and places to share our sins and struggles.  Don’t avoid those times.  If you do, you will miss out on the true fellowship of the saints (who are also sinners, and your brothers and sisters).  Don’t pass.  It’s just not worth it.

 

I’ll Go?

In church this past Sunday, the choir sang this hymn:

It made me wonder how many of us are really willing to go and do and be whatever Christ wants.  I fear I’m too often more like the anonymous writer of the poem below.  I’m all too inclined to offer God what feels comfortable and convenient.  Which kind of Christian are you?

Think It Over

I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord;
Real service is what I desire;
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord—
But don’t ask me to sing in the choir.I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord;
I like to see things come to pass;
But don’t ask me to teach girls and boys, dear Lord—
I’d rather just stay in my class.I’ll do what You want me to do, dear Lord;
I yearn for the Kingdom to thrive;
I’ll give You my nickels and dimes, dear Lord—
But please don’t ask me to tithe.I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord;
I’ll say what You want me to say;
I’m busy just now with myself, dear Lord—
I’ll help You some other day. 

Follow Your Heart?

Follow your heart.  We often hear this phrase in everyday life. It sounds good, doesn’t it?  But is it really good advice?  Well, not according to the Bible!  Scripture says,

“The heart is deceitful about all things and beyond cure;  who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9

This verse tells us three things:

  1. The heart is not truthful
  2.  The heart is desperately sick
  3.  The heart is unintelligible

“The heart” is considered the seat of our emotions, and emotions are changeable.  I may be angry at someone or something today, and come to understand and forgive tomorrow.  I may be attracted to an activity at first glance, only to realize it is boring or bad for me later.  I may “love” a certain author or type of book only to mature and go on to “meatier” topics.  Relying on the heart is simply — well, not reliable.

In addition, after the fall, our hearts became infected with sin.  What we desire is often what looks good, but lacks substance.  Have you ever yearned for a certain car, or outfit, or to achieve some award or goal, only to find that getting it failed to satisfy?  That’s what the heart does.  It disappoints us because what we get when we follow our heart isn’t what we really need.

On the other hand, in the same chapter of Jeremiah, we are told:

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;  its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:7-8

Trusting in God and and following His Word will produce results that last.  The Bible is truthful, nourishing and easy to understand when we take the time to study it.  So don’t follow your heart, follow God.  Build your house on the Rock that lasts.

 

 

 

 

 

Mercy For Today by Jonathan Parnell– Book Review

If you’re anything like me, you can recite (or better yet sing) parts of Psalm 51 by heart.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore unto me, the joy of your salvation and uphold me with they free Spirit.”

This Psalm was written by David after he is confronted by the prophet Nathan with his sin of adultery with Bathsheba.  It touches all of us because we’ve all been there — riddled with guilt because we’ve suddenly realized how deeply we have sinned.

Jonathan Parnell, pastor of Cities Church in Minneapolis-St. Paul, calls the 51st Psalm, “the Psalm par excellence when it comes to repentance” and also “an uncomfortable Psalm.”  In this short book, he discusses other deep topics touched on in this well-known Psalm:  mercy, praise, transformation, God’s presence and joy.  It’s truly food for the soul, a Biblical sound and satisfying read.

Here are a few quotes that I found particularly challenging:

“…when things don’t go the way we want, we don’t usually stop and ask God to work in us.  We would rather God change the circumstances …”

 

“We must take the unchanging truths of God and wrestle them into potential relevance.”

 

“We’re better at seeking his intervention then at giving him (God) adoration.”

If you read this book carefully, you won’t be the same when you’re finished.  I highly recommend it.

VERDICT:  5 stars

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

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/mercy-for-today-P005815458

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.  Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

Clearer and Clearer

“They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.  He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.  When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus said, ‘Do you see anything?’  He looked up and said, ‘I see people;  they look like trees walking around.’  Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes.  Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”  Mark 8:22-25

Our sermon on Sunday was entitled, “Jesus, the Light of the World.”  Our pastor, my husband, explained that many people are like this blind man.  They have been saved, and they see some of God’s truth.  They are no longer blind, and they won’t bump into things.  However, without the second part of the procedure, without sanctification, they will never see clearly.

Sanctification is the process of becoming more Christlike.  If we mature in our faith, we continually deepen our understanding of Biblical truth and are more and more able to put it into practice.

How do we do this?  Not by staying where we are.  Not by attending worship once in a while, or even weekly.  Not by practicing certain church rituals and then living our daily lives the same way we did before.  Sanctification requires patience and effort.  It comes through study, hearing the Word, repentance and prayer.  It comes through fellowship with other believers and intimacy with God.

Of course, on this side of heaven, we will never reach complete sanctification.  There will always be sins we struggle to overcome and things we don’t understand.  But if we’re working at the process and allowing God to change us, our sight will become clearer and clearer.  That’s a worthy ideal that will never disappoint us.  Why keep stumbling around in the dark when all the light of the world you need is waiting?

For more on sanctification see these posts:

Lord Make A Better Person of Me

Becoming More Saintly

Small Groups of Saints #2 — Joan’s Experience

What’s So Wonderful About Webster? by Stephen and Alex Kendrick–Book Review

Webster’s 4th grade class is participating in the school Field Day and Webster is worried — he’s not good at any of the events!  This will be the worst day of his life!  He prays for a flood, an earthquake, a snow storm or ANYTHING that will save him from the embarrassment of failing in front of everyone.

Of course, we find that Webster is good at something very important, leading and encouraging others.  He serves water, makes helpful suggestions, picks the winning relay race team and notices a math error that allows his class to win Field Day.  His teacher and classmates praise him for having an important part in their victory.

This engaging tale for grade school children is inspired by the movie, Overcomer. It makes the point that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.”(Psalm 139:14) through a story line that children will understand and relate to.  Team work and encouragement are highlighted.  The Parent Connection page at the end contains a Bible verse, explanation and thought questions for further discussion.  The illustrations by Daniel Fernandez are excellent.

VERDICT:  5 stars

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

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/what-s-so-wonderful-about-webster-P005813513

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

For Reviews of other books for children see these posts:

The Society of Extraordinary Raccoon Society by Randall Goodgame–Book Review

GraceFull by Dorena Williamson — Book Review

The Promises of God Storybook Bible by Jennifer Lyell–Book Review