Author Archives: jculler1972

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 recently published by the Women's Missionary Federation of the AFLC(Association of Free Lutheran Churches) in 2017

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Time

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“Time lost is time when we have not lived a fully human life, time unenriched by experience, creative endeavor, enjoyment and suffering.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in 1906. He was a brilliant student, earning his doctorate at the age of 21. His dissertation was published in 1931 as “Act and Being.”€ Bonhoeffer was one of the first German Protestants to see the dangers of the Nazi rise to power. He founded a secret seminary to train pastors in an illegal anti-Nazi church he had organized. Though frien…

Date of Birth: February 04, 1906
Date of Death: September 04, 1945

God’s Timing

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Okay, I admit it.  I hate to wait.  When I have a task, I need to get it done;  when I have an appointment, I’m there ten minutes early;  when I order a book from the library, I check my account obsessively to see if it’s come in(and then, of course, I run right over to get it).  And those are just the little things in life.  The Bible tells us over and over that we need to wait for God.  His timing is perfect, and usually when we are willing to wait, God blesses us in unexpected ways.

Here’s a small example.  My husband and I were at the AFLC annual conference in Minnesota last week, along with about 500 other folks.  My prayer partner (who belongs to another AFLC congregation) was not going, but she told me to look for her good friend, Patty.  So I did.  I peered surreptitiously at just about every name tag I saw.  I asked people I did see if they had met anyone from Patty’s church.  I considered going to the microphone and announcing “would Patty from Ruthfred please meet Joan at the back of the room” (I was actually too shy to do more than think about this option).  By the last day of the conference, I had given up.  I was just going to have to go back and tell my friend I had failed.  On our way to lunch, my husband and I stopped to chat with someone and were late getting to the cafeteria–the room was filled.  We wandered around and finally found what appeared to be the last two seats together at any table, and we took them.  Guess who I ended up sitting next to?  No other than Patty!  This is what some of my Christian friends like to call a “Godcidence.”  Patty and I were able to send my friend,GayLynn a selfie of the two of us lunching together!

My point?  Try not to stress.  God really is in control, and He’s working everything out for our good.  If I can learn to trust Him in even the small stuff, like meeting up with a friend’s friend ….then I can surely trust Him with the big stuff.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”  Romans 5:6

Take Time to Laugh

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Happy Reformation Day!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22

It’s a little strange that I’m the one pointing this out, since my side of the family is often teased for being rather glum and pessimistic.  Anyway, I just want to say, sometimes it’s good to laugh — laughing at ourselves, the world, life and whatever crazy situation we find ourselves in. Lutherans love to laugh at themselves and  the third Chapter of Ecclesiastes, which Leslie has been posting on, also tells us that there is “a time to laugh.”

Laughter is actually good for your health as well as your mood.  Here are some of the benefits I found on: http://www.organicfacts.net:

laughterinfo

Spend Time Being Positive

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A while back Leslie posted about how we should spend some time remembering our past, in order to learn from it, but we should be careful not to dwell on the past–especially past pain, slights and hurts.  Dwelling on negative experiences can cause anger, depression, shame, anxiety and other unhealthy emotions.  In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul tells us what we should dwell on:

“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Have you heard the expression, “garbage in, garbage out”?  The original meaning is if we put inaccurate data into our computer, or equation, the answer we get will be equally wrong.  In the same way, if we spend time feeding our minds with regret over our own past mistakes, annoyance with the bad behavior of others, and anger about the things we don’t have that we deserve, what we get out of life will be equally unpleasant.  Nobody will enjoy being around us, and we’ll be unable to recognize the gifts that we have. On the other hand, if we focus on the positive aspects of our own personality, if we build others up instead of tearing them down, and are thankful for the many blessings we receive daily, we’ll soon develop an “attitude of gratitude.” We’ll appreciate ourselves and others and be thankful to God. Wouldn’t you rather focus on the positive?

 

Spend Your Time on Today

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This is not something I wrote, but something I was given on my original Via de Cristo retreat weekend and kept. It seems appropriate for our theme of “spending time.” The author is unknown:

There are two days in the week upon which and about which I never worry–two carefree days kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension.  One of these days is Yesterday.  Yesterday with its cares and frets and pains and aches, all its faults, its mistakes and blunders, has passed forever beyond my recall.  It was mine:  now it is God’s.

The other day that I do not worry about is Tomorrow.  Tomorrow, with all its possible adversities, its burdens, its perils, its large promise and performance, its failures and mistakes, is as far beyond my mastery as its dead sister, Yesterday.  Tomorrow is God’s day:  it will be mine.

It isn’t the experience of Today that drives us mad.  It is the remorse of what happened Yesterday and fear of what Tomorrow might bring.  These are God’s Days–Leave them to Him.

I Will Give You Rest

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We can’t talk about spending our time without at some point coming around to what it means to rest.  Rest is sadly lacking in our culture.  The ability to “multi-task” is held up as a virtue;  we’re addicted to technology which connects us to work and to our “social network” constantly; we’re swamped with information, much of it worrisome– even if we quiet our bodies, it’s hard to shut off the continual thoughts and anxieties that beset us.

God knew that we needed rest.  At the time of creation, he established a Sabbath.

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested from all the work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”  Genesis 2:2-3

Of course, we know that Jesus spoke out against a need to follow the myriad rules about the Sabbath created by the Pharisees.  All this keeping track of what could be lawfully done on the day of rest was decidedly unrestful!  Jesus knew that what people needed was true rest, the kind they could only find in Him.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Matthew 11:28

True rest is found in taking a break from competition, worldly cares and anxieties.  It comes from trusting God instead of ourselves, our government or even our family — all these things can fail.  It comes from discovering who we really are — God’s creation, made to serve Him and others.  It comes from realizing our true worth as God’s child.  For many of us find the best way to find rest is to set aside time to spend with God, get to know Him and His plan for our lives.  It can happen ever Sunday morning at worship services.  So this week — get some rest, real rest.

 

At All Times (Again)

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In a previous post, I blogged about how as friends, we are told to love “at all times” (Proverbs 17:17).  I happened to notice recently that that there are some other things the Bible instructs us to do all the time.

“I will bless the Lord at all times;  his praise shall continually be in my mouth.  My soul makes its boast in the Lord;  let the afflicted hear and be glad.”  Psalm 34:1-2

Hmm…I guess if I am constantly blessing God, I’ll remember that all of my gifts come from Him (I won’t be arrogant) and others will be comforted by the way I handle my problems and troubles.  Sounds pretty good.

“Trust in him at all times, O people;  pour out your heart before him;  God is a refuge for us.”  Psalm 62:8

It’s nice to know there is Someone who will always listen, Someone I can count on, if I just remember to trust and turn to Him whenever I need solace. This should keep me from worrying so much.  Another good idea.

“Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.”  Psalm 106:3

The word “blessed”  means extraordinarily happy.  Doing what’s right, not only benefits those around me, I’ll be happier myself. I won’t get tangled up in deceit or be consumed with regret and guilt.

All of these verses from Psalms are summed up in the following New Testament passage:

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

In other words, spend your time with God.  Pray to Him, praise Him, lean on Him, listen to Him.  He loves you and is  waiting to be your friend, AT ALL TIMES.

 

 

Blessed Interruptions

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“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Okay, I freely admit I am bad at this.  I think it’s part of my slightly anxious personality to need a plan;  it gives me a sense of control.  If my plan is interrupted, it throws my whole day off. I feel rushed and flustered. I have to continually remind myself that I am retired–if circumstances intervene, I can do that chore or errand or make that phone call tomorrow!

If you read through the gospels, you will find that Jesus was constantly interrupted.  His teaching was interrupted by the men who lowered their friend down through the roof in hopes Jesus would heal him (He did);  His sleep was interrupted when the disciples begged Him to get up and save them from the storm that was threatening their boat (He did); His journey was interrupted by a blind man who called out to Him (He stopped);  He was interrupted by children (He blessed them).

My plans for today, this week, this year or even the rest of my life are trivial compared to the plans of Jesus, but He never failed to put people first.  In fact, He made people part of His plan;  every interaction was an opportunity to share God’s love and explain God’s plan.  That’s the plan that’s really important.