Seven-Mile Miracle by Steven Furtick–Book Review

In this book, author Steven Furtick examines the seven last statements (or “words’) of Jesus from the cross in light of the spiritual journey of every believer. He boils each one down to its’ essential meaning:

*Forgiveness –“Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

*Salvation–“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

*Relationship–“Woman, here is your son … Here is your mother.” John 19:26-27

*Abandonment–“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

*Distress–“I am thirsty.” John 19:28

*Triumph–“It is finished.” John 19:30

*Reunion–“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46

Seven-Mile Miracle: Journey into the Presence of God Through the Last Words of Jesus by [Steven Furtick]

Each section includes questions for journaling or group discussion. At the end there is a forty-day reading guide with Scripture selections on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

This was an easy read would be a good pick to use as a spiritual exercise during the season of Lent. Since the author is not Lutheran, there were some theological statements I disagreed with, mainly around the issue of “making a decision” to choose Christ. As Lutherans, we believe Christ chooses us.

VERDICT: 3 Stars due to the theological issues.

For more about the death and resurrection of Christ see:

Martin Luther on the Resurrection

Martin Luther on God’s Victory Over Death

The Resurrection is Now

Surviving Religion 101 by Michael J. Kruger–Book Review

This book is subtitled: Letters to a Christian Student on Keeping the Faith in College, and it is presented as a series of letters on different topics to the author’s daughter. It fits into a category of theological work known as apologetics: the discipline of defending religious doctrine(consider this your word for the day). At college, young people who are raised in the faith may hear views that not only diverge sharply from what they’ve been taught but may even ridicule and demean it. In such an environment, it’s important to understand not only what we believe, but why we find it trustworthy.

These are some of the topics the author discusses:

*How can I say that Christianity is the only right religion?

*My Christian morality is seen as intolerant — shouldn’t I be more accepting?

*Why would a living God send anyone to Hell?

*If God is omnipotent why does He allow suffering?

*How can I believe in miracles if I’ve never seen them?

*Can the Bible really be trusted?

Surviving Religion 101

Each question is approached in a clear, conversational manner that makes this book easy to read and understand. Although intended for students, every Christian could benefit from knowing how to respond the criticism we hear every day. Kruger’s defense of the faith is logical and informed. I highly recommend it!

VERDICT: 5 STARS.

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

If you would like to purchase this book go to:

Surviving Religion 101: Letters to a Christian Student on Keeping the Faith in College | Crossway

For more about apologetics see:

Why I Still Believe by Mary Jo Sharp –Book Review

Film Review — The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

God’s Not Dead & God’s Not Dead 2 –Movie Review

Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane–Book Review

I ordered this book through Bookbub (www.bookbub.com) simply because it was free, and I wasn’t at all sure I would like it. On the surface it’s a formula romance with a predictable plot. *** SPOILER ALERT*** Young man and young woman get off to a rocky start but end up finding true love in one another. The frightening experience of surviving a tornado together quickly deepens their feelings and through the tragic loss of a friend, they learn valuable life lessons and grow in their Christian faith.

Beyond the Storm (Quilts of Love Series Book 1)

Beyond the Storm is part of the Quilts of Love Series, and in my mind, the quilting theme helped to raise it a bit above the usual Christian romance novel. The main character, Abigail, has an aunt who owns a quilting shop. After the tornado, and the tragic death of Danny, a dear, Christian friend, Aunt Selma encourages the survivors to create a quilt in his memory. The center piece contains a piece of his Bible cover, and each person whose life he touched made a square to represent what he meant to them. The quilt was bordered with scraps found during cleanup of the wreckage. I thought this was a lovely idea, although I’m not a gifted crafter and could never do it myself. Here’s a quote that explains the metaphor:

I love to see the ways the Lord finds to use us. Each of us, like Danny ….is the center of our own quilt. Our lives are made up of bits and pieces, some good, some bad. And isn’t it amazing how God, in His infinite wisdom can use our mistakes and what we might consider chaos, to His glory.”

There are also discussion questions at the end, so this wouldn’t be a bad book club pick.

VERDICT: 3 STARS. Not deep, but better than the average Christian romance..

For more Christian novels see:

white picket fences by Susan Meissner–Book Review

The Purple Nightgown by A. D. Lawrence–Book Review

pearl in the sand by Tessa Afshar–Book Review

Christ-Centered Conflict Resolution by Tony Merida–Book Review

Disagreements are a part of life, and as Christians, we all want to resolve conflict in a Christlike manner. This short book by Pastor Tony Merida is chock full of good advice for doing that. In fact, conflict can actually be seen as an opportunity to show God’s grace and grow personally.

Christ-Centered Conflict Resolution: A Guide For Turbulent Times

First of all, the greatest problem in every conflict is: YOU! Conflict with God and others came into the world with sin, and it’s still going on. The book of James tells us:

“What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from you passions that wage war within you? You desire and you do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war.” James 41-2

The internal war with sin within us eventually leads us into conflict with others as we seek to satisfy our own desires.

The author walks us through these steps to peacemaking.

*Me-First–is there a log in my own eye?

*Minor–Is the offense a minor one that I could and should overlook?

*Major–Does this offense require the purpose of restoration (as outlined in the Bible)?

*Material–Does this offense require restitution related to property, money or other rights?

*Mediation–Does this offense call for the help of another party to assist in peacemaking?

Above all, love should prevail. Pastor Merida states that we should take the commandment to love expressed by Jesus in John 15, as seriously as we take the commandments to refrain from murder or adultery. Christian love is a sign of maturity, and most conflicts are easier to resolve when we’ve already demonstrated love over time to that person.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. The advice given is clear, concise and Biblical. The author takes pains to say that he is a pastor, not a counselor or therapist, and he does not address the problem of abuse. I would recommend it.

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

For more book reviews see these posts:

The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John C. Maxwell–Book Review

Spiritual Formation by Henri Nouwen–Book Review

Discernment by Henri Nouwen with Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca J. Laird–Book Review

Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me by Ian Morgan Cron–Book Review

Ian Cron is an Episcopal priest, speaker and author. I previously reviewed his book Chasing Francis (Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron–Book Review). I liked that book so much, I searched to see what else he had written. He calls this book, “a memoir of sorts.” It’s not just a book about faith, but about God and faith in the midst of all of our life and our suffering. In it, he recounts the story of his life with an alcoholic father, his painful adolescence, and his own experiences as a dad.

Ian’s dad was an enigma. He was often absent, and sometimes abusive. His alcoholism led to instability in the life of the family. Later Ian discovered that his father had worked for years for the CIA under the “cover” of other professions. Although Ian prayed for his father to change, that never happened. The rejection he experienced led to bitter feelings toward his father, and toward God. Still amidst the suffering were moments of grace, and eventually they led him home to the church. He was able to forgive his father, although they were never completely reconciled.

Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts

This book will make you laugh and cry. He tells his story with honesty and humor. It will make you think about your own story with gratitude as you remember those experiences of God’s grace and presence that have marked your journey.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. An easy and enjoyable read.

For other memoirs see:

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird–Book Review

In My Grandmother’s House by Yolanda Pierce–Book Review

The Night Lake by Liz Tichenor–Book Review

Prayer in the Night by Tish Harrison Warren–Book Review

Keep watch, dear Lord,
with those who work, or watch, or weep this night;
and give Your Angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, give rest to the weary.
Sustain the dying, calm the suffering,
and pity the distressed;
all for Your love’s sake, O Christ our Redeemer.
Amen.
– Book of Common Prayer

Author Tish Warren uses the nighttime prayer from the Service of Compline to walk through the dark times we all experience. Her own dark year included two miscarriages, a move to a new city, and the unexpected death of her father. In a time of grief and vulnerability, repeating this prayer was a comfort and a source of strength. Although some people scoff at liturgical prayers (other peoples’ prayers) and consider them less authentic, Ms. Warren makes a case for using them. She says:

“During that difficult year, I didn’t know how to hold to both God and the awful reality of human vulnerability. What I found was the prayers and practices of the church that allowed me to hold to –or rather to be held by–God when little else seemed sturdy, to hold to the Christian story even when I found no satisfying answers.”

Sponsored Ad - Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep

Each chapter is centered around one section of the prayer– for example, “Keep Watch, ” “Those Who Weep,” “Bless the Dying.” This leads to an examination of the theological struggle we often face, how can God be all-powerful even as horrible things happen to us and to the world?” This “problem of pain” is called theodicy, and it often leads to a true crisis of faith.

There is no pat answer. God does not always rescue us. In the end, Tish Warren quotes this statement from Tim Keller:

“If you ask …. Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?… and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is. However, we know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us.”

There are discussion questions and some suggested practices at the end. This could easily be used for journaling, or as a small group resource.

You can read more about Tish Harrison Warren and find a number of versions of the Compline service at tishharrisonwarren.com.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I’m a liturgical person, so it really resonated with me.

For more about grief see these posts:

The Gravity of Joy by Angela Williams Gorrell–Book Review

The Night Lake by Liz Tichenor–Book Review

For more about the liturgy see:

Liturgy as Prayer

Learning from the Liturgy

Win or Lose I Love You! by Lysa Terkeurst

In our competitive society, everyone struggles with winning and losing. Lysa Terkeurt’s story of Field Day in the forest will illustrate and help you teach your youngster a number of good life lessons, including:

Win or Lose, I Love You!

*Sometimes you’ll lose, but you must try

*Even if you lose, you are still loved

*How you treat your friends is more important that winning or losing

*Behaving badly doesn’t mean you are bad

*You can be a bad winner as well as a poor loser

*The best leader is not the person who wins all the time, but someone who helps people work together through kindness, encouragement and hard work

*Forgiveness is important

The illustrations by Jana Christy are colorful and attractive. There is a list of appropriate Bible verses at the end. This book both is attractively presented and instructive. Young readers will enjoy reading it themselves, but the concepts are simple enough for reading and discussion with those with smaller chldren.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I recommend it!

For an adult book by Christian author Lysa Terkeurst see:

Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by Lysa Terkeurst–Book Review

For more books for children see:

Gracie’s Garden by Lara Casey — Book Review

The Edge of Everywhen by A.S. Mackey–Book Review

Faith In God by Kevin McFadden –Book Review

My husband who is a pastor actually wrote this book review for me. I admit I was unable to make it past the introduction and part of the first chapter. It was too technical and academic.

This book deals with a serious theological issue hinging on the question of whether or not the translation of several texts in St. Paul’s letters should be read as “faith in Christ” or “faith of Christ”. Traditionally translators have followed the long-time Church practice of reading this as meaning salvation is dependent upon faith in Christ Jesus as the Son of God whose atoning sacrifice on the cross was sufficient for the forgiveness of sins of anyone who has faith through the Holy Spirit’s work and the Word found in the Bible. But for the last several decades some scholars have challenged that position by arguing that the true meaning of the text as “faith of Christ” indicates that it is Christ faithfulness and not an individuals’ faith that is the cause of salvation. Should that be true not only would Reformation theology be proven false, but universalism would be the logical conclusion of that line of reasoning. If Christ’s faithfulness is the sole criterion of salvation, then all people would, logically, be saved, including those who deny His divinity. Dr. McFadden’s book is a defense of the traditional reading and understanding of Paul’s Greek text and of the need for each person to have faith in Christ and His work of redemption.\

Faith in the Son of God: The Place of Christ-Oriented Faith within Pauline Theology

McFadden’s work is a competent defense of the traditional reading of the text, but it is also a book which will have little interest for most laypeople who are not familiar with the ancient languages. Neither do I believe it would be of interest to many pastors unless they already have some grounding in the arguments or unless there is some discussion of the points of contention in their religious communities. I’m also uncertain why McFadden doesn’t make use of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians where, especially in 2:8-10, the question of how one comes to a saving faith is clearly enunciated.

VERDICT: 3 STARS for the reasons cited above.

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

For more book reviews see:

The Dark Night of the Soul by Gerald G. May –Book Review

Learning to Pray by James Martin, SJ–Book Review

The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John C. Maxwell–Book Review

The Gift That I Can Give For Little Ones by Kathie Lee Gifford–Book Review

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I am very interested in spiritual gifts, and this sturdy board book would be a great way to introduce young children to that concept. In it Ms. Gifford explains that each person is uniquely created by God. When He made us, He also gave each of us a gift. That gift might be a talent, like music; it might be a quality like kindness; it could be the ability to help others in a variety of ways.

The Gift That I Can Give

The narrative highlights the fact that whatever our gift is, it is meant to be given away. We are to use it to benefit the people around us. Of course, the greatest gift, the gift that all others spring from is love. This is the gift we all receive from God, and the gift we can pass on to others.

The illustrations by Julia Seal are bright and attractive. The message is clear and will be easy for youngsters to understand. The examples given are appropriate to the age level. I would highly recommend it.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I loved it!

For more about spiritual gifts see:

What are the Spiritual Gifts?

Let Your Spiritual Gifts S–T–R–E–T–C–H You

The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

For more Christian books for children see:

Where is Wisdom by Scott James — Book Review

Great and Small Prayers for Babies — Book Review

GraceFull by Dorena Williamson — Book Review

The Black Church–This is Our Story This is Our Song–Film Review

My husband and I recently watched this PBS documentary hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. Gates, (born September 16, 1950), is a literary critic, scholar and filmmaker known for his pioneering theories of African literature and African American literature.

There are two two hour segments, and the film covers a lot of ground. It examines the development of the black church from plantation roots up to the present day. For the black community, church was the one place where members could express themselves honestly. It was an institution under the control of the members, and gave the black community the ability to work together, pool resources, practice their own traditions and exercise power. It promoted black education and the formation of black businesses. Church was at the center of community life, and therefore cannot be separated from the study of black history. The documentary touches on slavery, emancipation, the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, the Civil Rights movement and more. It also traces the musical traditions of the black church from spirituals to hip-hop and rap. Gates interviews many scholars and ministers. Also included are clips of some of the political debates, musical traditions and important figures in different eras.

There is one failing my husband noticed. The film was critical of the conservative black church of today, and did not interview any conservative pastors. We would have preferred a more unbiased presentation.

VERDICT: 3 STARS. It was interesting, and a good look back at some important events that occurred during my own life. However, the unbalanced approach to present day churches made me question the integrity of the history presented as well.

For more on the black church see

In My Grandmother’s House by Yolanda Pierce–Book Review

For more documentaries see:

The Abortion Divide — Film Review

Film Review — The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel