Persecuted Saints

While on vacation I read a book entitled, Hearts of Fire, the story of eight different women who were persecuted for their Christian faith.  It was published by Voice of the Martyrs, an organization started by Lutheran pastor Richard Wurmbrand and his wife Sabina in 1967.  Sabina’s story is one of the eight recounted.  Both of the Wurmbrands were arrested and imprisoned in Romania after World War II.  In spite of this, they continued to speak and spread the gospel. After being ransomed by the Norwegian Mission to the Jews and the Hebrew Christian Alliance in 1965 they came to the United States determined to speak for persecuted Christians throughout the world.

Hearts of Fire: Eight Women in the Underground Church and Their Stories of Costly Faith

The organization has many books, videos, brochures and other products to help you and your church learn more about the persecuted church.  They offer many ways to help, including prayer, donations and letters of encouragement.

This book is not easy reading for those of us who live in a country where we are free to practice and proclaim our faith.  You’ll be pulled into the testimonies of these faithful women from different cultures and times who truly put Christ first — before their jobs, their families, their freedom, even their lives.  It is humbling and inspiring;  it teaches much about faith and forgiveness.  I certainly recommend this book to our readers, and hope you will visit the Voice of the Martyrs website for further information.  You can also call 800-747-0085 to order materials or receive a free monthly newsletter.

https://www.persecution.com/

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:10

 

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Who’s Your Daddy? by Lisa and Missy Harper — Book Review

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy.  God places the lonely in families.  Psalm 68:5

In today’s society, many children experience the pain of broken homes and missing parents.  This book gently explains to young children how even those without a “skin daddy” have an awesome Father God in Heaven.  Based on the true experience of the authors, Lisa and Missy Harper, it tells the story of Missy, from Haiti.  Her biological mother, Marie, is dead, and she has been adopted by a single mother.  The book addresses situations such as death, divorce, grief, absent parents and adoption in terms that are easy to understand, and most importantly tells children, “you don’t have to figure it all out now.”

The illustrations are bright and attractive, and the book includes Bible verses, questions and further reading for use by parents and teachers.  It offers a way to begin discussions with children about some difficult issues.

Verdict:  I give this book five stars.  Go to this link if you’re interested in purchasing it:

http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/products/whos-your-daddy

 

 

Who Sang the First Song by Ellie Holcomb — Book Review

This delightful little book was written by Ellie Holcomb, a musician who began her career touring with the Americana band, Drew Holcomb (her husband) and the Neighbors.  She was named Best New Artist at the 2014 Dove Awards.  Maybe some of her music could be reviewed on an upcoming post?  Beth Ann?

At any rate, this children’s book combines Ellie’s love for music with thoughts of God and His creation.  Who sang the first song?  Was it in the wind?  The waves?  The roar of the lion? Of course, we learn that the original singer was God Himself, who as Ellie says, “He wrote His song into everything.”  Everyone of us, and all of God’s beloved world are invited to make a joyful noise, because we were made to sing.

I enjoyed the fanciful illustrations(thank you Kayla Harren) and the brief, but inspiring text, and I think young children would enjoy this book as well.  A copy is definitely going on the Christmas list for my yet-to-be-born granddaughter, Hailey!

I give this book five stars!  If you want to purchase it, you can go to the following link:

http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/products/who-sang-the-first-song

 

Spiritual Discipline For a Spiritual Life by Donald S. Witney –FTF Book Review

This book review is excerpted from one done by a Fanning the Flame team member, Ted,  and used with his permission.

The Spiritual Disciplines are those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  There are both personal and interpersonal spiritual disciplines.  When Christians read and study the Bible on their own, this is a personal spiritual discipline.  Other disciplines are congregational such as fellowship, hearing God’s word preached and participation on the Lord’s Supper.  These are interpersonal spiritual disciplines.  This book is only about personal spiritual disciplines, but the author states that they are not more important than the interpersonal disciplines.

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by [Whitney, Donald S.]Spiritual disciplines are activities, not attitudes.  They are practices, not character qualities or fruits of the spirit.  Disciplines are things you do.  The subject matter of the book is limited to those spiritual disciplines that are biblical, that is to say practices taught or modeled in the Bible.  Without this limitation, some might say that gardening, exercise, or some hobby is a valid spiritual discipline for them.

The following are the more prominent personal spiritual disciplines commended in the Scripture:  Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, service, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling and learning.  The purpose of practicing the disciplines is Godliness.  Donald Whitney defines Godliness as both closeness to Christ and conformity to Christ, a conformity that is both inward and outward, a growing conformity to both the heart of Christ and the life of Christ.

The book is certainly worth reading.  It reminds us of our responsibilities as a Christian.  The author validates what he is saying by quoting Scripture.

Gay Girl, Good God — Book Review

Readers on both sides of the issue of same sex attraction may be disappointed by Jackie Hill Perry’s book.  She comes down clearly on the conservative side of Christianity by labeling it a sin;  however, she points out that it is only one sin among many that bedevil Christians every day. Our society encourages us to turn all sorts of things into idols, and our sexual orientation is just one possibility. Any time we put “my” feelings above obedience to God’s Word, we have committed the same sin Adam and Eve fell prey to– we are worshipping another God– ourselves!  She also criticizes some Christians who espouse what she calls “the heterosexual gospel” by idealizing marriage as the pinnacle of the faith.  Homosexuals will never be “cured” any more than any of us will be “cured” of our sinful nature.  All Christians should be affirmed whether they choose celibacy or marriage;  the call from God is to love Him and love others, and this can be part of either lifestyle. (By the way, Jackie is now married to a man, but feels many with an attraction to the same sex will not see this as a possibility}.

The real message of Jackie’s book is this:  it’s all about God, not us.  Life is about loving God, obeying God and recognizing Him for who He is — our creator and the creator of all that exists. Our identity is based on who we are as a saint of God (here’s where the book connects with our monthly theme) and not the other people or things we might find attractive and tempting.  She backs up her opinions with sound logic and Biblical references.  I had no problem with her theological conclusions.

Gay Girl, Good God

The only criticism I have of this book is that her personal story failed to engage me.  She spoke about her own life in a way that seemed somewhat removed and detached.  As a poet her writing style was filled with beautiful prose and interesting similes and metaphors;  an unvarnished approach would have seemed more authentic to me.  Of course, it could also just be my inability to connect with her life as a young, black, gay woman whose experiences have been very different from mine.

I give this book 4 stars.  If you would like to purchase it, follow the link below.  The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy in return for an unbiased review.

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/gay-girl-good-god-P005795085

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Community of Saints

“The community of the saints is not an ‘ideal’ community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance. No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God’s forgiveness”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

If you have never read Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I highly recommend it as a realistic look at living in the Christian communion of saints.

 

This Is Our Time – Book Review

This review is longer than usual because this book deserves your attention.

Trevin Wax is a well-known evangelical millennial and after reading this book, I can see why.  He manages to take modern day situations and show how they relate to God’s word.

Starting with the introduction, Trevin engrosses the mind and engages the thought process by telling us that our neighbor is not where the battle is, but rather the battle is with the lies that are told by the powers and principalities that engage us daily through the media. There are 8 chapters in the book.  The first 4 deal with the habits that impact us on a day to day basis.  The last 4 are based on the larger myths that animate our society. Every single chapter holds a wealth of information that opened my eyes to things that I have been doing and not even been aware that I was doing them.  I enjoyed this book so much that I am going to give a chapter by chapter review.

Chapter 1 deals with how our cell phones, internet practices, and even our friends can lead us to have a formed opinion instead of an informed opinion of ourselves, by narrowing our information intake to model our “Christian beliefs.” This constant affirmation of our views leads us to the myth that our “beliefs” are always right.

Chapter 2 is about our interaction with movies, TV shows, etc.  As most of us realize, a lot of the things we watch are fictional but the constant immersion into this alternate reality can pervert our true reality.  Often, these movies and shows tell us the lie that our fulfillment is found not in God but in emotional and material things.

Chapter 3 – This chapter addresses how we use society’s goals to map out our future.  Often, doing that leads us on a faulty path away from God.  God’s word leads us on a true path with a glorious ending.

Chapter 4 – Our all-time favorite myth of all, shopping and material things can make us happy.  We have turned our year into one shopping event after another.  Instead of being thankful for what we have in November, we are planning to buy more on Black Friday so we can be happier.  Ads that target our longing to be accepted through the labels we wear, the car we drive or the newest electronic gadget have turned shopping into a substitute “Religious” experience.

In these first four chapters, there were several quotes that stood out.

“The primary myth the smartphone tells you every day is that you are the center of the universe.”

“Desensitization is not a sign of spiritual progress but of sensual dullness. Do not confuse the ability to be unfazed by depictions of sin with spiritual maturity.”

“True courage is not deciding for yourself what is “right and wrong” but seeking to discover what truly is right and wrong – for yourself and everybody else.”

“The lie is not that you wouldn’t be okay without it.  The lie is that you’re going to be happier with it.

“The American Dream is about shopping for happiness.  The Kingdom Dream is about experiencing joy in God.”

Now onto the last four chapters.

Chapter 5 – Here the Author reminds us that we are not “at home” on this Earth.  We forget that this is not where we will spend our eternity but it is only where we spend a short tie in the span of our lives.  We, as Christians, have become too much “of the world” and have failed to remember to just be “in the world.”  This chapter also delves into the trap of politics, where sometimes politics become so central to us it becomes our alternate religion.

In Chapter 6 Trevin deals with the thought that we look at marriage as the pinnacle of our relationships, instead of making it the foundation of our lives. He does a great job of delving into common fallacies that pervade our societal beliefs and shows how each and every one of them steers us wrong and why.

Chapter 7 – Another common myth – Sexual freedom is a sign of a mature society and a sign of our freedom.  We have gone from a society and culture where sexual restraint was a sign of maturity into believing that sexual relations are a sign of maturity.

Chapter 8 This chapter is titled “As the World Wobbles” I admit I was confused as to what the content of this chapter would entail.  After reading the chapter, the title fits perfectly. We, as a society, go back and forth with “the world is ending” to “the world is better now than ever.”  Read this chapter for more information on this.

The final four chapters of the book sum up the worldly myths we encounter daily.  Below are my favorite quotes from these chapters.

“So, if you want to put down roots somewhere, put them in the soil of a church.  After all, the gates of hell are shaking not because of an election but because of Easter.”

“All marriages are broken, but what makes a marriage is they are broken together.

“Staking your identity in sexuality or pinning your hopes for happiness on sex is too low of a goal for a human being made in God’s image.”

“We can’t be faithful in our own time if we’re always longing for another.”

As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe it would make a great small group study.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Read it, Study it, Learn from it.  I sure did.

Purchase the book at the link below – You will not be disappointed

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/this-is-our-time-P005789993