Mere Hope by Jason G. Duesing — Book Review

Jason Duesing, author and academic leader at Midwestern Seminary, does not use the term “mere” in the usual sense. He harkens back to a more ancient use in which the connotation is not “bare” or “trivial” but “central” or “essential.”

In our world we are made instantly and constantly aware of so many tragedies and conflicts that it’s easy to become cynical, indifferent and despairing. We are quick to “medicate, avoid conflict, exaggerate, deflect, blame and hide.”  To counteract this, Duesing maintains Christians must remember and turn to our biblical sources of hope.

“Until Jesus returns, Christians should look down at their foundational gospel hope, look in at their fountain of living hope, look out at the need for a flourishing hope, and look up and focus on future hope.”

His suggestions for focusing on hope include:  regular time with God’s Word, Christian fellowship, singing, praying, remembering our purpose to share the gospel promise with others.

Mr. Duesing makes a strong, scriptural and theological case for continuing to live an active and hopeful Christian life.  This little book is  chock full of literary references, and if you love to read, as I do, you will no doubt find some new authors you are interested in checking out.  Lord of the Rings aficionados , take note!  Duesing is obviously a fan of Tolkien and uses this series to illustrate some of his main points.  He also loves to quote C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling,  and a host of other writers, theologians and philosophers.

This author likes words, too, and you may learn some new ones.  Some are theological:  propitiation, for example;  others are just interesting — my favorite was eucatastrophe.  (I’ll let you check out the book on your own to learn the definitions.)

In spite of his somewhat academic approach, the writing is clear and the main points are understandable.  My only concern is that many readers will become a bit bored with the many references to authors and works with which they are unfamiliar ( I didn’t but that’s the English major in me!)

Verdict:  Three stars

Check out the link below to learn more or order:

http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/products/mere-hope

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Read Like a Lutheran 2018

I’ve published this program before, but in case you are a newer reader, or have forgotten, Concordia Publishing offers a Summer Reading program for Lutherans of all ages. The program started on May 26th and is over on August 5th.  Go to this link:

https://books.cph.org/cph-reads-2018-reading-program

Then join in the challenge with reading lists for adults, teens, and younger children that feature the newest Christian fiction releases, Lutheran theology and history, Bible literacy books, music, and more.  You can register your whole household.  You receive 100 points per book on the CPH reading list and 50 points for any book not on the list. Each child receives a congratulations kit with a free book and other items when they accumulated 1000 points.  Each participants with 1000 points is also entered in a drawing to win additional prizes.

There are free brochures and posters you can download and print to inspire worthwhile reading at your church this summer.  Who knows, you may begin the healthy habit of reading like a Lutheran!

Talks On The Song of Songs — Book Review

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), a French abbot and reformer, was a founder of the Cistercian monastic order.  He spent 18 years writing sermons which served as a commentary on the Song of Songs.  He died before completing an exposition of  the entire book. He only made it through the third verse of Chapter 3 in 86 sermons!  Bernard saw the bride in Song of Songs as a representative of both the individual soul and the entire Church;  The Bridegroom is, of course, Christ. The book became for him, an allegory of the spiritual life, and more personally his own life with God.

This book is not easy reading, and not for everyone.  The copy I have is edited and modernized by Bernard Bangley and is still slow going.  I used it as a devotional years ago, reading one small section carefully each day.   Here’s an excerpt from the very beginning:

You have studied, denied yourself, and meditated constantly for a long time.  I am sure you are prepared for a diet of solid spiritual food.  The Song of Songs is tasty bread.  Let’s break it and enjoy a substantial meal.

The Song of Songs is a book we don’t often study or spend time with.  You might give this book a try and find it well worth the effort.

100 Days With Jesus–Book Review

This little gem of a book would make a wonderful gift for a friend.  It includes a presentation page, thick glossy pages and a beautiful photograph with each reading.  The author, Diann Cotton, first got the idea when she found a page in her Bible listing over 250 names and attributes of Jesus.  She began studying one or two a day, hoping to know Jesus better by the end of the year.  Her own research, prayer and reflection led to the book.

100 Days with Jesus by [Cotton, Diann]

Perfect to be used as a daily devotional, each reading includes a name or description of Jesus, the scriptural basis for the name, a definition, prayer and reflection question. The entries are ordered alphabetically, so you can easily find a particular name. The questions could easily be used as a journaling tool if that is part of your daily routine.

Interested in learning more, or purchasing this book?  Click on the link below:

https://beta.lifeway.com/en/product/100-days-with-jesus-P005793050

Stewardship of My Reading

“All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.  All things are lawful, but not all things build up.”  1 Corinthians 10:23

Anyone who reads our blog regularly knows that I am an avid reader.  I read all sorts of things:  suspense novels, historical fiction, novels that address ethical questions, legal thrillers, nonfiction books about the brain, mental illness and other medical issues, spiritual autobiographies, books on prayer and other aspects of Christian living, the Bible (of, course) and more.  None of these books are “unlawful” and sometimes I use my reading time to just relax and take my mind off my responsibilities and the stress of everyday life.  Of course, we learn something even when we read books that seem merely escapist — we increase our vocabulary, travel to foreign cultures, grow in understanding people very different from ourselves, etc….I’m sure you could add to the list.  However, it is also true that some books are more edifying than others.

Gracious Uncertainty: Faith in the Second Half of LifeMost of the time I am reading two books at once:  one that is just for fun, and one that builds me up in some way.  I read my serious book for a bit first thing in the morning (when I’m fresher) and the other one throughout the day and before bed. Right now my morning book is called, Gracious Uncertainty: Faith In The Second Half of Life by Jane Sigloh.  In the forward, Jane is described as a “wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, poet, vintner, cook, gardener, and story keeper.”  The book is a serious of short essays, starting with a memory about her spiritual life, many from her childhood and youth.  It has inspired me to look back on my own spiritual journey and consider writing some of those memories down for my children and grandchildren.

I also try to do my Bible study early in the day.  I’ve been reading through the book of Acts (that’s what we’re studying in our Tuesday morning class at church) and parts of 1 Kings (our Sunday School unit this quarter is called ‘Kings and Prophets–we’ve been using material from Concordia Publishing, if anyone is interested).

My point in all this is simply:  if you’re a reader, like I am, be a good steward.  Read to relax, but also try to also spent time with things that are truly worthwhile.  Don’t have much time?  Pick a book like the one I mentioned or a devotional that has short chapters or essays and read one a day.  Read through the gospels in small bites.  Read a Psalm each day.  Then think about what you’ve read.  Write down quotes or verses that strike you.  Talk to others about what you’ve been reading. Build yourself up.

P.S.  The Lutheran Ladies recently signed up to be B&H/Lifeway Bloggers, and review new books.  Look for our book reviews on our blog and B&H Publishing website.  Hopefully our reviews will point you toward some edifying reading!

Sing – A Book Review

Sing!
How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church
Getty, Keith (Author) , Getty, Kristyn (Author) Continue reading

Martin Luther on Schools

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Martin Luther