Evening Prayers: For Every Day of the Year

“Deliverance Leads to Healing and Revival” 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. 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. 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. 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.” 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...

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Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

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. 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). 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. 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!  Tweet this: It’s never to early to plan for Christmas!      ...

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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. 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. 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. 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. 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.” 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...

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Ruminations on the “F” word

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

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