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).

Empowered by Catherine Parks–Book Review

This book of short biographical sketches would be ideal for teaching youngsters about some of the heroines of the faith.  The author begins by telling us:

“Not one woman in this book planned to become famous or change the world.”

Parker has chosen women of different eras, with different talents and passions, to illustrate how God can work through each of us to glorify Him and do His work in the world.  These women had one big thing in common — they truly knew God and had a desire to follow His will for their lives.  Some of them will be familiar to most Christians (Elisabeth Elliot, Fanny Crosby) while others were less well known (Pandita Ramabai, Phillis Wheatley).  They faced obstacles of different sorts, and overcame them with the help of Christ.

Each sketch emphasizes a different quality such as strength, obedience, kindness or faithfulness, demonstrating how it was lived out by a particular woman.  At the end of the sketch there an explanation of the quality, discussion questions and a Bible verse. This would be an excellent Christian book club choice for older elementary school or middle school students.

VERDICT:  5 stars.  If you work with tweens, especially girls, you’ll want a copy.

For ordering information, follow this link:

Empowered

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

 

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Be Patient And Humble?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Colossians 3:12

Yes, there it is.  We’re commanded by God to be patient.  Patience is not one of my strong suits.  And humble?  That’s even more difficult.  Yet when I am feeling impatient with others, a good dose of humility is in order.  I’m sure there are plenty of people I irritate on a daily basis.  I know I exasperate God constantly.  If I’m honest, I even find my failure to live up to my ideals pretty annoying.  This quote from Thomas A Kempis was in my devotional reading this morning, and it really spoke to me.  Maybe it will resonate with you as well.

“Endeavor to be patient in bearing with the defects and infirmities of others, of what sort soever they be;  for that thyself also hast many failings which must be borne with by others. If thou canst not make thyself such a one as thou wouldst, how canst thou expect to have another in all things to thy liking?”

Meeting Again #2

My last post about grief and a comforting song, reminded me of this gospel favorite.  Written in the 1970s by Terry Smith, a full-time school teacher, “Far Side Banks of Jordan” became his most famous song.  Johnny Cash did the first cut  in 1975 and many other artists have recorded it since. This love song turned gospel number is a world-wide favorite, especially among the bluegrass community.  My husband loves it and plays it often, ever since we heard it performed at a musical about Johnny Cash.

Until We Meet Again

Brothers 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. 1 Thessalonians 4:13

A good Christian friend of mine is dying;  in fact, by the time you read this post, he may be gone.  This is harder for me than it is for him, because while he will soon be in the presence of God, I am will be left behind to grieve his loss.  I will miss his friendship, his support, his passion for Bible study and his sense of humor.  Fortunately for Christians, we do not grieve as the world does.  This life is not the end, and everyone who is part of the family of God can look forward to meeting one another again.  And so, the hymn, “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again” has been running through my mind.

It was written In 1880 by Dr.Jeremiah Rankin, Pastor of First Congregational Church in Washington, D.C. Dr. Rankin was was looking for a farewell hymn to close the service.  Not finding one that satisfied him, he decided to write his own.  Taking a dictionary from his book shelf, he looked up the words “farewell” and “goodbye” to see what ideas might create the image he was searching for.  He found that one definition for “goodbye” was “God be with you”– and the seed that created this touching Christian hymn was planted.

 

Phillis Wheatley–Free in Christ

I’m reading a book called Empowered which contains eleven short biographical sketches of women used by God (I’ll review the book on a later post).  This morning I was particularly impressed by the life of Phillis Wheatley.  Why have I, a former English major, never heard about this amazing woman?  We don’t know Phillis’s real name because she was a slave, purchased in 1761 by the Wheatley family in Boston.  In a time when many women, much less slaves could not even read and write, Phillis became not only educated, but a poetess.   Her master decided to have her writing published and eventually she was freed.  Much of her writing had to do with her faith in God and the freedom only He can bring.  Below is her poem, On Being Brought From Africa to America:

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:Complete Writings by [Wheatley, Phillis]
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.
Her writing is somewhat controversial today, as she seems to accept her lot as a slave.  We must remember that she was a person of her own time, with her own experiences and worldview.  Above all,  Phillis is a shining example of how God can use us to glorify Him in every circumstance.  She should be an inspiration for women and for all Christian writers.

Master of Your Own Destiny?

I criticized a book recently in one of my reviews because the author said someone was the master of their own destiny.  The Bible teaches us that God is in control, and we are not.  However, I discovered this quote today that reminds us that we are in control of one thing — our attitude and how we respond to the things that happen to us.

“It is a proverbial saying, that everyone makes his own destiny;  and this is usually interpreted, that every one, by his wise or unwise conduct, prepares good or evil for himself:  but we may also understand it, that whatever it be that he receives from the hand of Providence, he may so accommodate himself to it, that he will find his lot good for him, however much may seem to others to be wanting.”  Wm. Von Humboldt (Prussian philosopher)

Jesus tells us that we will have problems.  The world is infected by sin, and so are we. We can never be good enough or wise enough to avoid the consequences.  Nothing will keep us safe.  However, we can have contentment when we place our trust in Him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

He has our ultimate good at heart.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Elisabeth Elliot, a missionary who went to live with the same Ecuadorian tribe who killed her husband had this to say about our destiny:

“I found peace in the knowledge that I was in the hands of God.  Not in the confidence that I was not going to be killed.  Not in the false sense of security that God would protect me, any more than He protected my husband, the four missionaries, or Honoria (a man who was speared) from the wooden lances.  Simply in knowing that He held my destiny in His two hands what He did was right.”

Expect trouble– and when it comes, don’t trust yourself, trust the one who made you.  He is the master of your destiny.

 

Why God? by Dan Dewitt–Book Review

Thomas is a little boy who loves to ask questions. In this book, Dr. Dan Dewitt, a professor of theology and apologetics, attempts to answer some big questions in a simple way that can be understood by elementary aged children.

Thomas asks his mother, “Why do we believe in God?” and “How did the world get broken?”  The answer is that God created everything, and in His amazingly perfect creation we see clues to the goodness and power of the Creator.  Through sin (disobedience to God) that perfection was damaged — but in our hearts we find more clues that point us back to the Source of all goodness.

The book is colorfully illustrated, and includes a “parent connection” page at the back with some suggested Bible verses, discussion points and questions.  It could easily be used as a Sunday School lesson.

VERDICT:  4 Stars.  It’s very basic, but would make a good starting point to a discussion with children about why we believe in God.

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

Why God?

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