Evening Prayers: For Every Day of the Year

“Deliverance Leads to Healing and Revival”

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To understand this book of prayers entitled Evening Prayers: For Every Day of the Year by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, I think it’s important to understand their context. The only way to understand their context is to know more about the man who wrote them. The history of this author is fascinating.

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Johann Christoph Blumhardt

In 1838, Blumhardt’s father, Johann Blumhardt, answered the call of pastoring in the small German town of Mottlingen and became legendary because of his part in the healing and exorcism of a young girl in his congregation.  After this healing, people came to Blumhardt from seven in the morning until eleven at night. There were nightly prayer meetings that he called the “Awakening.” Miracles and healings occurred. Even a child who had spilled a boiling pot of oatmeal was completely healed. Infirmities of all kinds vanished at the prayer meetings: eye problems, tuberculosis, eczema, arthritis and more.

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Jesus healing the sick

But the government and organized church looked upon the meetings with disgust and by 1846 he wasn’t allowed to include healing as part of his ministry. Eventually, he decided to leave Möttlingen and purchased a run-down sulphur springs in Bad Boll, Germany where many came seeking healing. However, Blumhardt always pointed people to focus on Christ, not the miracles. It was at this time that his son, Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, the author of Evening Prayers, was born.

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Christoph tried attending seminary, but became disillusioned with empty rituals and seminary teaching and returned to help his father at Bad Boll. In time, he gained his own reputation as a mass evangelist and faith healer much like his father. But after a very successful “crusade” in Berlin in 1888, he drastically cut back both activities, saying,

“I do not want to suggest that it is of little importance for God to heal the sick; actually, it now is happening more and more often—although very much in quiet. However, things should not be promoted as though God’s kingdom consists in the healing of sick people. To be cleansed is more important than to be healed. It is more important to have a heart for God’s cause, not to be chained to the world but be able to move for the kingdom of God.”

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Blumhardt was an extraordinary man of faith. The prayers in this book aren’t flowery prayers or even what one would consider terribly inspiring prayers. These are simple, Christ-honoring prayers, prayers that point believers to God and His Sovereignty.

I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life when I haven’t known what words to use in prayer. For those who are shy about praying to God with their own words, this book would be a great aid.  This would make a lovely gift for a new Christian or someone who wants to lead a more prayerful life and needs a place to start.

I give this book three out of five stars.

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Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

It's never too early to plan for

Okay, so I’m early (a proper lady is never late). But it’s never too early to plan for Christmas, right?

I simply must share this little treasure with you. It’s a book called Watch for the Light and it includes readings from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothy Day, Madeleine L’Engle, Martin Luther, Kathleen Norris, Henri Nouwen, Philip Yancey, Karl Barth,  Síren Kierkegaard. Thomas Aquinas, C. S. Lewis and more.

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Madeleine L’Engle, people!

I love her. Do you know her books? (Go ahead. Click on the link. I’ll wait.)

Impressed, aren’t ya? Oh. Yeah. She’s one of my favorites.

But then again, who doesn’t also love Yancy, Luther and C.S. Lewis?

I have a confession. I dread Christmas every year. It wears me out more and more. As a pastor’s wife and musician, mother and grandmother, director of the Christmas program and all the social events at the church, there is just too much to get done in a short time (pastor’s wives of small rural churches are overworked, but that’s another post).

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I’m going to make the effort this year to enjoy this book beginning four weeks before Christmas and try to capture the real essence of the holiday. There are fifty devotions that will take me from the end of November to after the Day of Ephiphany. Isn’t that marvelous?

I’ll also use it as a devotional at all our Christmas parties — the women’s ministry, the choir, the elder’s and deacons–you get the picture.

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It’s really a great book for ministers to have on their shelves. Actually, every Christian who loves the holiday will enjoy this book and I hope everyone who enjoys reading will check this one out because this is not only a great book to read but also a unique, beautiful book to give as a gift. If you have friends who are into well-written literature, this is perfect. And its charming 5″ x 7″ size just adds to its appeal. In this day of digital books, I can’t wait to gift this book to my friends next year.

This book earned a hefty five out of five stars from me. I can hardly wait until Christmas!

Star Review!

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Discipleship: Living for Christ in the Daily Grind by J. Heinrich Arnold

“What a great gift it would be if we could see a little of the great vision of Jesus – if we could see beyond our small lives! Certainly our view is very limited. But we can at least ask him to call us out of our small worlds and our self-centeredness, and we can at least ask to feel the challenge of the great harvest that must be gathered – the harvest of all nations and all people, including the generations of the future.”

–J. Heinrich Arnold

If there was ever a time the world needed a vision of Jesus it’s now. And the only way most people will “see” Him, is through the lives of His disciples.

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If you long to be a true disciple and wish to learn what it means to be one, I highly recommend this book, Discipleship, Living for Christ in the Daily Grind by J. Heinrich Arnold. This new expanded edition produced by Plough Publishing House (the publishing house for the Bruderhof movement) also offers a free student guide and leadership guide on their website. I plan to use these for my Sunday Night Bible study, so I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to review this book.

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J. Heinrich Arnold

About the author: 

At the age of six, Arnold’s parents moved from Berlin to the little village of Samnerz in central Germany to live a communal life based upon Acts 2 and 4. His father was a writer and theologian and the founder of the Bruderhof movement. Young Arnold was exposed to many interesting characters while growing up in the commune: tramps, artists, and free-thinkers made their way in and out of his life and made lasting impressions upon him.

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At the age of eleven, he felt the call of God on his life. (I was 11, when I, too, felt the call!) He committed himself to the Bruderhof — “the place of brothers.” Founded in 1920 in Germany, the Bruderhof was and is an international communal movement of families and single men and women who seek to put into action Christ’s command to love God and neighbor. They have an online book you can read about their foundation here: Foundations of our Faith and Calling.

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Arnold has been described as “a true Seelsorgeror “spiritual guide” who cared deeply for the inner and outer wellbeing of the communities entrusted to him. And he served his brothers and sisters by sharing in their daily lives in work and leisure, at communal meals, business meetings, and worship services.”

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Source: bruderhof.org

His writing has the influence of his own father, Eberhard Arnold and nineteenth century Lutheran pastors Johann Christoph Blumhardt and Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt as well as Meister Eckhart, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Friedrich von Gagern, and Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevski whose books Arnold read and referred to often.

About the book:

The book is organized in a way that allows the user to study each chapter on its own without reading the entire book. It’s divided into three parts:

  1. The Disciple
  2. The Church
  3. The Kingdom of God

Topics are addressed in reference to each category. This book is accessible to those needing the milk of the Word of God, but also provides meat for the seasoned believer. It’s a beautiful collection of the spiritual beliefs and guidance of Arnold through his letters and writings.

The foreward by Henri J. M. Nouwen explains:

“Heinrich Arnold’s words touched me as a double-edged sword, calling me to choose between truth and lies, salvation and sin, selflessness and selfishness, light and darkness, God and demon…The Gospel asks for a choice, a radical choice, a choice that is not always praised, supported, and celebrated. Still, Arnold’s writing is not harsh, unbending, fanatical or self-righteous. To the contrary, it is full of love. Tough love, but real love. It is this love that flows fro the broken hart of Jesus. What makes Arnold’s words so healing is that they are not based on an idea, an ideology, or a theory, but on an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ.”

I concur with Nouwen in that this is a truly Christ-centered book.

Enjoy this quote from a chapter in the Kingom of God section on Jesus:

“If we love someone we want to know his innermost being. We are not satisfied with simply knowing him outwardly. So it is with our love to God. If we give ourselves to him, we will learn to know his innermost being and heart, his character and his love. It is not enough just to speak of God. We seek his revelation. The Bible says that those whom God loves he chastised, for it is a sign of his love. We cannot experience the complete liberation brought about by the forgiveness of sins if we do not accept Jesus’ sharpness Only then will we also be able to experience his goodness, his compassion, and his ultimate love.”

I give this deserving book 5 out of 5 stars. I’m so thankful to have it in my library and I’m sure I’ll lovingly pull it out again and again for the encouragement and insight into God’s heart it provides.

 

Star Review!

I’m not the only one who liked the book:

Mother Teresa:
I pray for all who read this book that they may come to follow Jesus more closely in their whole lives. He has not called us to be successful, but to be faithful.

What are you waiting for? Click on the photo of the book and grab your copy now!

I got this book for free-2 Note: my endorsement of this book is not my endorsement of the Bruderhof sect. I know very little about this movement and have never studied it. Having said that, I found nothing in this book that contradicted my beliefs as a born-again believer and follower of Jesus Christ.

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Ruminations on the “F” word

fbombWhen I was growing up the F word was the one forbidden word that no cussing heathen ever said in the presence of a lady. And a lady certainly never used such language.

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Today, F bombs are used as casually by the youthful masses as toothpaste. Their vocabularies have become so limited that it’s the most accessible word on the tips of their tongues. In casual day to day conversation it can be heard a myriad of times. Movies, music and other media have certainly contributed to this.

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Call me old-fashioned, but I still find it offensive. The only word I find more offensive is taking the Lord’s Name in vain.

I’m not better than someone who uses the F word or the Lord’s Name as a curse, but I do hope I never become so accustomed to such language that I don’t cringe the way I do now when I hear it. I stray from movies that use those words because they cause a visceral reaction in my gut. I. Do. Not. Like. Them. Call me an old fuddy-duddy but that’s where I am on the matter.

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It occurred to me that people who use the F word may not realize there are other options. So I’m writing this post to solve that problem. I propose that society replace the current F word with the following:

“What the floccinaucinihilipilification were you thinking?” (floccinaucinihilipilification: setting at little or no value ).

I mean, isn’t that a lot more impressive? It has 28 letters! And surely our counterparts would be dazzled. Their word has only 4  measly characters!

Untitled design-7Okay, so maybe the meaning isn’t all that great. How about this one then:

“Oh, fadoodle!” (fadoodle: nonsense). This one may not appeal to the younger masses because it sounds exactly like something an old granny like me would say. I like it. I’m going to adopt it.

Let’s consider these instead:

“Fiddle-faddle!” (An oldie but goodie; means trifling talk. It’s also some really great popcorn! My favorite is butter toffee. What’s yours?)

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“Fiddlededee!” (Scarlet O’Hara used this. If it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me. Means nonsense.)

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“Flapdoodle!” (Means gross flattery; nonsense.)

“Flexiloquent!” (Speaking ambiguously or using words of doubtful meaning. This one is rather appropriate, I think.)

“Futtock!” (This one sounds way too similar to the offensive word. Besides, it means the rib of a ship, and in context of swearing would be a little silly.)

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As for me, I’m sticking with floccinaucinihilipilification ?/fläks??nôs??n??hil??pil?fi?k?SH?n/. The next time one of my younger counterparts uses their F word, I’m going to use mine. By the time I get done saying it, they’ll nod off.

And my ears will be singed no more.

(For more impressive F words check out The Phrontistery.)

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“Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” Colossians 4:6

Join ACFW-Indiana in April for a chance to learn from experienced authors!

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Pinterest Cooking Sleepover Recipes

The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop!

This is a recipe blog hop! Go here to get the button and join us each week: The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop.

Then add your recipe post to mine with the linky codes at the end of this post.

Whether you’re a paleo, vegetarian, southern cook, or baker, you’re welcome to join me and post a weekly recipe!

Pinterest Cooking Sleepover Recipes

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It’s been a long cold winter in NE Indiana. The kind of winter that calls for lots of comfort food. (Thank goodness for baggy sweaters!)

Last Friday I invited all the girls at our church, ages K-12 grade, to a Pinterest cooking sleepover. It was a total blast and I can’t wait to share the recipes we tried! I’ve been collecting Pinterest recipes for a long time on my Pinterest board. I will never find enough time to make all of them, but having a cooking sleepover allowed us to make and try six different fattening and  delicious recipes! Some were a hit and others were so-so. All were kid-friendly and fun.

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Before we started our cooking activities, I reminded the girls how God made us with His hands and how special we are to Him. I asked them to remember as we worked with our hands, how God loves what He made just as we love what we make. I reminded them that they are royalty–the daughters of the King of Kings.

Recipe 1:

Pepperoni Roll-ups

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Bing free-use image. I forgot to take pics of our finished products but this is exactly how we served them up!

This was so easy and the kids loved doing it. They were delicious, too.

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I spread parchment paper all along the table and after the girls washed their hands, gave them each two crescent roll doughs, five pepperonis and a handful of mozzarella cheese. Most recipes call for a stick of string cheese, but using grated cheese was less expensive.

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I had the help of three other adults and the older girls pitched in and helped the younger girls. This activity worked for all ages and all abilities. One of our teens has autism and an intellectual disability and she had no trouble participating like everyone else. We all had fun eating the pepperoni and cheese, too, as we worked!

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We used cupcake paper to put the spaghetti sauce in for dipping when we served them. The girls loved them. They were surprisingly filling, too! (Uh, the roll-ups, not the girls!)

Since we have a western theme going on for our Children’s ministry, while the roll-ups were cooking, I read them a cute little book about a little cowboy and a very bossy cowgirl who’s a know-it-all: Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door. We talked about how to be a good friend and the difference between being bossy and being a leader. The book also emphasizes forgiveness, so we were able to discuss that as well. (And yes, the teen girls were just as engaged. I find that teens love story books.)

Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door

The next thing we made were loaded nachos! I modified a very spicy recipe for little girl palates so it wasn’t so hot. We used Scoops brand Tostitos for the girls to put the filling in themselves. (Adults mixed the filling.)

Recipe 2

Loaded Nachos (for kids)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cans refried beans
  • 2 cans whole kernel sweet corn drained (I think you could easily use frozen as long as it’s thawed and drained first)
  • 1 can nacho cheese sauce
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning (2 could be used if your kids like spicier foods)
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese

Instructions:

Mix together and put in Sccops shells (you could spread this over a pan of chips, too)

Other recipes include beef or chicken, jalapenos and avocados. Any mix like this can be modified to your family’s preferences.

After the shells are filled, sprinkle Mexican mix cheese (Colby and cheddar) over top. Put in oven for a few minutes until cheese is melted on the top. Serve.

NOM! Just typing this makes me hungry!

This recipe made two full cookie sheet pans. The picture above doesn’t do justice to how delicious this was! And all the adults agreed these would make great little hors d’ourves for a party!

Recipe 3

“Gourmet” Hot Cocoa

Hot chocolate is like a hug from the-1

Again, I modified a Pinterest recipe. If you do a search on Pinterest for “Crock-pot Hot Cocoa” you’ll find lots of variations. Here’s what I put in our 8 quart crock-pot (this is not diet-friendly by any means but it’s delicious!)

  • 2 bags chocolate chips (you can use any kind, we used bittersweet)
  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 cups heavy whipped cream
  • 12 cups milk (almost a gallon — we used 2%)

Heat in crock-pot on low being careful not to scald it. Stir often as the chips melt. When I served it to the little girls I added cold milk to their cups to cool it off. I served the adults straight up and hot. We didn’t have any marshmallows but I think that would have ruined it, actually. It was so good!

Recipe 4

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Money talks.Chocolate sings!-1

We had beautiful red, juicy strawberries but my method of making dipping chocolate bombed. I’d read a blog from Pinterest that said you could just melt chocolate chips. Don’t believe it. I knew better because I’ve helped my friend make candy before and she’s super picky about “tempering the chocolate.” But, I thought I’d try it.

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If you’re going to dip chocolate, get a dipping chocolate. That’s my number one recommendation. It really is a science. Bakers has a great dipping chocolate for the microwave that is super easy to use.  I’ve used it in a special education class before and you really can’t ruin it.

Next time I’ll use a chocolate fountain. I’ve successfully used those before without failure.

So what happened? I must have gotten the chocolate chips too hot and they hardened in the bowl. So I added butter and it helped some, but still it wasn’t thin enough for dipping. So I gave each girl a spoonful of chocolate in their own little bowl and plopped their strawberries on them. And, as it often does when you cook a flop, those strawberries and chocolate were the most popular treat of the night!  Everyone begged for more.

Recipe 5

Cherry Pizza

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Who doesn’t love cherry pizza? The teen girls made this easy-peasy treat and we served it for breakfast:

Ingredients:

  • Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
  • Can of cherry filling
  • Cream cheese frosting (we made ours from scratch; recipe here)
  • Butter
  • Granola

Instructions:

Roll out the pie crusts (we used two pie crust to make two pizzas) and slather with butter. Bake until browned. Remove from oven and spread 1 can of cherries on each pie crust. Drizzle with cream cheese frosting and granola. Serve.

We didn’t put the frosting and granola on the pizzas until the next morning. (We re-heated the pizzas first.) They disappeared fast! Nothing was left!

Recipe 6

Cheesecake Cake Batter Dip

The girls’ favorites were the strawberries. But my favorite was this dip. I was exhausted by the time we got to this point and it felt so good to settle in with my hot cocoa and this dip with graham crackers. The teen girls mixed this one up themselves. It was sooo good! Instead of serving it dip-like, we frosted graham crackers with it for the little ones. Us older girls dipped to our heart’s content.

I found this recipe on Pinterest but the pin was taken straight IWashYouDry.com (see URL on the picture caption above). There are other variations on this recipe on Pinterest using Funfetti cake mix, so check those out, too. I chose this one because I love the tang of cream cheese and sour cream. Our first batch tasted “funny” and I think it was the vanilla. I think we got a bad bottle. So we threw that batch out and made another without the vanilla and it was scrumptious.

Ingredients:
  • 8 oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup white cake mix
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sprinkles
  • Graham Crackers for dipping
Instructions:
  1. Place cream cheese in your mixing bowl and beat on medium high speed for 3 minutes, or until it becomes light and whipped.
  2. Bring speed down to medium and add the sour cream and vanilla, mix until incorporated. Slowly add the powdered sugar and cake mix to the bowl and mix until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and then gently fold in the sprinkles.
  3. Serve cold with graham crackers, pretzels, or fresh fruit slices. Enjoy!

I can hear the Mommies of the Year yelling at me about how unhealthy these treats were. This is not something I recommend serving on a regular basis. These were party foods. One night of supreme, delectable indulgence.  And because there were so many of us, there was little chance of over-indulging.

Besides, I’ve promised the girls that at our next sleepover in the summer, we’ll have a pool party and consume copious amounts of fruits and vegetables to make up for it! I see lots of smoothies in my future.

If you have any cute raw fruit and veggie recipes, send them my way!

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