March 13, 2019
Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross:
Experiencing the Passion and Power of Easter
Review by Suzanne Tietjen
It’s easy for me to look forward to Easter so much that I feel impatient with Lent. Nancy Guthrie, author, grief counselor, and Bible teacher, understands. She was concerned that many of us miss out on the full significance of Easter when we fail to contemplate the cross. Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross: Experiencing the Passion and Power of Easter (Crossway), which she edited, is the result. It is a fine compilation of the work of twenty-five Christian thinkers, classic and contemporary, that can help us slow down and prepare our hearts by considering the cross.
The book begins with Martin Luther’s “True Contemplation of the Cross,” which makes the case that identifying with Christ’s sufferings will change our hearts and show us our sin. Beginning with Jesus setting His face to go to Jerusalem, through His death and resurrection, His final days with His followers, and His ascension, teachers like John Piper, Alastair Begg, J. I. Packer, Saint Augustine, and Francis Schaeffer offer insights that resonate with the Bible and the Creeds.
C. J. Mahaney tells of the cup of God’s wrath that Jesus quailed at, sweating blood, and asking his Father three times for another way. Jesus laid down His will for His Father’s. For us.
Adrian Rogers examines the Lord’s silence before His accusers. J. C. Ryle details His sufferings so we might learn to hate our sin and see God’s love. John MacArthur tells of Jesus’ real-time forgiveness at the cross and Philip Graham Ryken how Jesus was God-forsaken for us.
Jonathan Edwards shows that Jesus not only satisfied justice on the cross, but offered up His life as a sweet-smelling sacrifice (Ephesians 5:2). Raymond C. Ortland, Jr. tells us the most important word in the universe. (Are you curious?)
Tim Keller stresses the importance of a real resurrection, while Joni Eareckson Tada speaks as only she can in “Sharing His Sufferings,” based on Philippians 3:10. Finally, Stephen F. Olford closes with “Crucified with Christ.”
There is a thoughtful progression in the choices and order of these writings. Each played a part in teaching me, softening (maybe even breaking) my heart, and helping me see the old, old story anew.
Nancy Guthrie has done her work well—there is a wealth of wisdom here. I love that she dedicated the book to her Sunday school teacher, Estelle Teeter, telling her, “You made me want to love Jesus like you do.” Jesus is central to every reading in this book. I plan to read it again before Easter.
AFLC Board of Publications and Parish Education
January 23, 2019
Devotional Thoughts Volumes 1 & 2
Review by Pr. David Johnson
When you hear the name of Carl Olof Rosenius, you may think of his classic titles, The Believer Free from the Law, A Faithful Guide to Peace with God, or his devotional resource, Day by Day with God. But few are aware of his two-volume resource, Devotional Thoughts, which provides six months of devotional readings in each volume.
The back cover describes Rosenius as “a well-known name among Christians in Scandinavia. He was born on February 3, 1816, in the parish of Nysätra within the province of Västerbotten, Sweden. His father was a faithful clergyman. Carl Olof became one of the leaders of the great revival during the nineteenth century.” Though Rosenius only lived to age 52, his accomplishments were significant. “Besides preaching and individual counseling, he was an author and an editor of the magazine: Pietisten (The Pietist), which began in 1842. The circulation rose to 10,000 in the 1850s. . . . The common theme in his writings is the two truths of Christianity: the sinfulness of man and the grace of God through Christ.”
The two volumes of Devotional Thoughts are actually a revision of a translated Rosenius work, Moments of Rest with the Word of God (1903). It was not to be a replacement or competition for the well-respected Rosenius devotional, Day by Day with God. But as the forward states, “This book of devotionals is adapted specially to the younger generation and to all seeking souls who also in our generation need a clear and guiding word as to the way of salvation.”
Each day’s devotional begins with a Scripture passage, followed by a concise but deeply rich application of the text. It isn’t uncommon to find an occasional quote (often from Luther), a pertinent verse from a hymn, or a timely illustration that impacts even the twenty-first century believer. The instruction of Rosenius’ words proves to be timeless in its application, but easily understood for even the average Christian seeker. Each devotional runs roughly only one page in length, but the challenge will last a lifetime. If you are a fan of the Oswald Chambers devotionals, you will love this beloved Lutheran Pietist devotional author, Carl Olof Rosenius.
Pr. David Johnson
Living Faith Lutheran Church
Order your copy of Devotional Thoughts Volume 1 here: Ambassador Publications Online Store
Order your copy of Devotional Thoughts Volume 2 here: Ambassador Publications Online Store
December 12, 2018
Counting to Christmas: Family Advent Devotions and Calendar
Review by Cynthia Lohse
Advent is a wonderful time of the year filled with joy, wonder, and anticipation. It is a time we prepare our hearts and focus on our need of a Savior and God filling that need by sending His one and only perfect Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Counting to Christmas is a daily devotion that parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles can read to children so that they may turn their hearts and minds to focus on the true reason for the season.
In the book, Counting to Christmas, there are 26 daily devotions that fill the pages. After each daily devotional reading, the author follows up with a “say it” section, where a related Bible verse is given. Your family can say the verse and perhaps even memorize it. Day one begins with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” After the Bible verse, the author calls for action in the “do it” section, asking readers to “name something God created that starts with the first letter of their name.” The last section, “pray it,” is the time to spend in prayer. For day 1, the author asks the reader to “take turns thanking God for each of the things mentioned that God created.” When the reader has finished the daily devotion, a calendar on the inside back cover is provided to mark each day of advent traveled leading up to Christmas.
I think you will find this book to be filled with wonderful illustrations that I believe will capture the reader’s attention. The author does a wonderful job in laying out the devotion for each day and gives the reader something to ponder about. Throughout each of the daily devotions, the Gospel message is woven between the pages of the book as the author answers questions like: How did the real story of Christmas begin?, What happened in the Garden of Eden?, and all the way through to Epiphany asking, Who led the Wise Men to Jesus?
This small children’s book is a perfect read for young readers (and older readers too). Christmas is a favorite time of the year for many, and what a wonderful opportunity to spend time preparing our hearts through this Advent season. If you are looking for an Advent devotional to read with your children, I recommend this book. It will serve as a helpful guide for your family in focusing on the true reason for Christmas.
Jesus is coming, and that is truly good news!
AFLC Parish Education Office Assistant
November 14, 2018
Come, Lord Jesus! An Advent Devotional for All God's Children
Review by Maren Sletten
Advent season is a time when many families change from their regular devotional material to Scripture readings that emphasize the beautiful prophecies of our Savior and the Gospel accounts of His birth. This season is also the busiest time of year for many families, and an Advent devotional guide can help us slow down and take comfort in God’s Word and His promises.
In Come, Lord Jesus! An Advent Devotional for All God’s Children, author Amy Cahill presents twenty-five Advent readings for December 1 through December 25. Each page includes a Bible passage, a devotional lesson, and a short prayer. Cahill writes in a simple, understandable style and includes helpful cultural and historical information. For example, the author explains in more detail why Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem and mentions that the stable Jesus was born in may have been a cave. These brief historical comments may spark curiosity in readers and inspire them to do more research on their own.
Even with the many historical details, the author never loses sight of the important themes of the season, such as the fulfilling of biblical prophecy, God’s protection for His people, and God’s plan of salvation: “God had a perfect plan for our salvation, and it all started in Bethlehem with a tiny baby whose name meant ‘God is with us.’”
While most of the readings focus on the biblical account of the nativity, the author also includes devotional lessons about Christmas traditions, such as the symbolic meaning of the Advent wreath. At regular intervals throughout the book, Cahill focuses on the Advent candles and their meanings. These readings may help us better understand what we hear and see during the lighting of the Advent candles at our church’s worship services.
Another benefit of the book is that it is small and lightweight, making it handy for families to bring with them while traveling during the Christmas season. In the reading for December 25, the author focuses on John 8:12 and the Light of the World: “In today’s Bible verse, Jesus tells us that he is the light of the world. If we know him, we will always have light in our life. He’s not just talking about a candle to brighten a dark room. He is also talking about the joy we have because we know our sins are forgiven and our life is in him.”
AFLC Board of Publications and Parish Education
October 10, 2018
Amazing Grace for a Woman's Heart & Loved Beyond Measure
Review by Diane Brubakken
Life is busy. In between all the tasks we try to accomplish each day and all the roles we are trying to fill, it can be hard to spend the amount of time we’d like to in devotions each week. Regardless of how much we know we need that time each day with God, it’s amazing how quickly everything else can come between us and Him. This is why small devotional booklets like Amazing Grace for a Woman’s Heartand Loved Beyond Measure can serve such a great purpose, giving us a few brief moments to stop and turn our focus back to God.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now, I see.” Amazing Grace for a Woman’s Heart begins each week with a stanza from the song “Amazing Grace.” It sets the tone throughout the devotions each week to keep our focus directly on God’s Amazing Grace and how we experience and receive that grace in our lives daily.
Each week in this 5-week devotional includes devotions with both Scripture and a story to help illustrate the truth being presented in the Scripture passage. At the end of each week, there is a journaling page that includes a couple of questions to guide us in reflecting on the prior week’s devotions. Throughout the booklet, it continually points us back to God’s grace. Whether we are facing suffering or rejoicing in God’s blessings, God’s grace remains the focus, reminding us that “By God’s amazing grace, you can say with joy: I’m a daughter of God, dearly loved! I’m created and chosen especially by him!”
Loved Beyond Measure is another 5-week daily devotional booklet for women. This one focuses on God’s love for us and seeks to remind us that God’s love “has no limits” and “remains sure.” Most everyone is familiar with the verse John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” But it’s easy to let our familiarity with a verse cause us to lose sight of how important this statement is. How much God loves us, how much He has done to show us that love, especially when we’ve done nothing to deserve it, is something we can all stand to be reminded of on a regular basis. This devotional seeks to renew in us that sense of awe regarding God’s love for us.
Though similar in setup to Amazing Grace for a Woman’s Heart, instead of a journal page at the end of each week, Loved Beyond Measure includes a key reminder for you to take with you from the devotionals that week. Throughout the five weeks, it does a good job of keeping the focus on God and His love for us, reminding us that “this love is higher than the sky, deeper than the ocean. This is love that extends from east to west and beyond. Here is love that can’t be stopped, love that will never end. This is love that died for you—personally—and rose again to give you life forever!”
I would recommend both of these booklets, whether you are looking for a devotional to give as a gift or to use yourself. These brief devotional booklets allow us to pause the chaos of our daily lives and to reflect on God’s Word and how important that is in our lives.
AFLC Parish Education Administrative Assistant
Order your copy of Loved Beyond Measure here: Ambassador Publications Online Store
Order your copy of Amazing Grace for a Woman’s Heart here: Ambassador Publications Online Store
September 12, 2018
Rest a While
Review by Linda Mohagen
“Come and rest a while.” Mark 6:31 is the first verse you read in this book, and how appealing it is. First, come . . . set yourself apart in a quiet place and come to the Word. Secondly, rest a little while . . . this isn’t always easy in this fast-paced life we live. But when I take a few minutes in the early morning and pick up this little devotional book, I find myself digging into that verse in my Bible and don’t realize that I just spent an hour or more reading and studying!
Wisloff has a way with “word pictures,” such as in his August 14th devotion. “Therefore we must pay the closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1). He says, “to drift requires no effort whatever. All one needs to do is let himself be carried away by the current; then one will drift. The stream of life is powerful; and it flows away from God and from what we have heard. And we are easily carried away by the current.” He then tells us what we should do: “for this reason we must get a firm footing, otherwise the stream will sweep us off our feet.” Where to find this? “And this firm footing is to be found nowhere but in the Word of God which we have heard.”
“Believe the Word. Live on the Word. Let God’s message to you in the Bible be the firm foundation of your life, and you will be rescued from the stream. Pay close attention to what you have heard, lest you drift away from it.”
I am really enjoying this little devotional book with Wisloff’s wonderful insights to God’s Word, his unique “word pictures” that relate so well with the verses he shares, and the simplicity in his explanations making the verses “speak” to you, pointing right to the heart!
I recommend this small devotional book with its short but very meaningful messages directing us unequivocally to our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.
Slim Buttes Lutheran Church
August 8, 2018
Starck's Prayer Book
Review by Pr. Eugene W. Enderlein
Johann Starck brought God’s Word home to each waiting heart. His devotions cover the most pressing needs of life along with the everyday concerns of existence. Starck is described as having “a Savior’s eye and heart” for others. In his ministerial years, it was written that he “labored with unbroken strength as a preacher, pastor, and author ‘till a great age.” He died July 17, 1756. His original PRAYER BOOK, written in German in the 1700s, was translated into English by Dr. F. Pieper in 1900, and in 1921 a newer translation was edited by W. H. T. Dau. We can be grateful for the labors of these translators as well as the publication of the books by Concordia Publishing. An updated English version is available.
Earnest, seeking believers can find devotions in Starck’s Prayer Book that apply to their deepest concerns: There are five Books within this grand volume summarized below. Each section is filled with specific areas and Scriptures: BOOK I is for Use in Health, and contains Daily Prayers, Festival Season Prayers, such as the Suffering of Jesus Christ, the Day of Jesus’ Death, the Resurrection of Christ, Meditations on the Ascension of Christ, and Meditations on the Guardian of the Holy Angels. Book I concludes with Prayers for Spiritual and Bodily Blessings such as Sanctification, Loving My Neighbor, Trusting That God Alone Is the Highest Good, Humility, Meekness, and Praying for Family.
BOOK II provides devotions for the Use of the Afflicted, such as Taking Comfort in the Omnipotence of God, Mercy of God, Divine Promises and Prayers for Patience and Strength. There are specific prayers for Afflicted Widows, Forsaken Orphans, Weakness of Faith, and Complaints of Sinful, Wicked and Blasphemous Thoughts.
BOOK III is designed for specific Use of the Sick. Devotions focus upon the Sick Person, God’s Assistance, the Calls to Mind that He is Human and Mortal, and that he can Rest His Confidence on the Almighty Power of God, and the Surrender to the Will of God to Live or Die. Great comfort is offered to the reader with prayers for the Alleviation of Pain and Forgiveness of Sins, along with Sighs to God Not to Forsake Him.
BOOK IV reaches to the depths of human needs with specific prayers for the Use of the Dying and Those Attending Them. These devotions and Scriptures are sure to be a great comfort to the believing person who uses this book. Some of the titles are The Dying Person Places Himself before the Judgment-seat of God, Forgives and Asks to Be Forgiven, Bids His Dear Ones Farewell and Gives Them His Blessing, Gives Himself to God, Contemplates Heaven, The Dying Person Is Ready to Fall Asleep In Jesus, The Dying Person Prays for a Blessed End, Benediction Pronounced Over a Dying Person, and Prayers for Those Present After the Dying Person has Breathed His Last.
BOOK V is rich and practical with Prayers For Special Occasions such as the Believing Christian’s Birthday, Times of practical need are covered with Prayers during a Thunderstorm, Prayer for Leaving Home and Starting On a Journey, Prayer Living in Foreign Countries, The Believing Christian Prays in Time of War, Prayers when His Country Has been Visited with Hard Times, Pestilence, Fire, and even Long Period of bad weather.
A uniquely special section is included in the final pages of Starck’s Prayer Book for the Expectant Mother during the months of worshiping the God of creation as she awaits her baby, followed with an abundance of Scriptures and devotions to be used during labor and delivery of her child. Pages are added with comforting Scriptures and tender devotions for those who are unable to bear children. Many pages of appropriate Scriptures and hymns are the crowning feature of this book.
I enthusiastically recommend the earnest devotional reading of Starck’s Prayer Book. The reader may choose old English or a modern updated translation. My personal gleanings from Johann Starck have brought encouraging responses of blessing from the people of Hope Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who have been contemplating them each week with me during 2018.
Pr. Eugene W. Enderlein
Hope Lutheran Church
July 11, 2018
Threads of Grace
Review by AFLC Parish Education
“When we look to Jesus,
day by day relying on His mercy to forgive
and His power to live, it is then that we are strong.”
( Pr. John Mundfrom, p. 53)
The daily fabric of our lives is woven with threads of expectations and commitments, laughter and tears, joy and discouragement, mundane routine and unpredictable events. In the midst of all this, the unbroken thread entwined throughout the life of the believer is the thread of God’s grace given to us in Christ. The Threads of Grace devotional book is designed to help you turn your eyes upon Jesus each day and to remind you of God’s faithfulness as you spend time in His Word.
Each daily meditation was selected from approximately twenty-five years of devotional articles printed on Free Lutheran church bulletins provided by Ambassador Publications. Many of the writers represent ministries of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC). Though the devotional articles in the book include a variety of authors, topics, and writing styles, the theme of God’s grace is woven throughout. Several of the devotionals focus on particular celebrations in the Church Year or annual holidays. A separate section in the back of the book highlights special occasions such as Thanksgiving and Easter that do not occur on the same date each year.
Threads of Grace was published in 2012 in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the AFLC, but its themes and writings serve as a timeless devotional tool. Pastor John Mundfrom, who served on the Board of Publications at the time, was a strong proponent of the publication of this book as he believed it to be a significant opportunity to encourage the people of the AFLC to continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).
AFLC Parish Education
June 13, 2018
To Live with Christ
Review by Dr. James Molstre
Bo Giertz is best known for his classic novel, The Hammer of God, which has been translated into eleven languages. Dr. Robert Kolb calls it “The best treatment of Law and Gospel in the history of Lutheran theology.” Incredibly, Giertz wrote his classic in six weeks, but it is considered one of the most influential and important theological books in Swedish history. It was with this backdrop that I began reading To Live with Christ, a daily devotional translated by Bror Erickson. The devotional is fairly long (more than 800 pages) and is organized by the Church Year, starting with the season of Advent. Each devotional begins with a verse from the pericope text, a devotional, and a short prayer.
In this collection of devotional writings, Bo Giertz offers what forward writer John Pless calls “sturdy confessional Lutheranism with warm piety born of confidence in the Gospel.” I agree with Pless’ assessment of the Giertz devotional. It has strong doctrinal content with a clear emphasis on the objective Gospel. Each devotional Scripture passage is exegeted with precision and with obvious concern for the proper distinction of Law and Gospel. There is also concern for living a life of virtue and producing fruit of righteousness. The prayers at the end of each devotional display the “warm piety born of confidence in the Gospel.” In fact, the prayers were often my favorite part of the devotional. An example of one of the prayers: “Lord, let us, your poor servants, confess your name in all boldness. We have been able to see your truth. Don’t ever allow usto be ashamed of it! We have encountered your love. Let us not keep it for ourselves! You have given us your light. Let us experience it joyfully so it shines for others!”
While the devotional book contains strong doctrinal content, you will not need to have a dictionary nearby. This devotional is written in simple, easy-to-understand language. One could easily read each devotional in less than ten minutes, but I would advise spending time contemplating the message and reflecting on the application of each devotional to your life.
Dr. James Molstre
May 10, 2018
Little Visits with God
Review by Andrea Christenson
Wiggling, talking, whining, disobeying, the struggle is real. What struggle? The difficult task of sitting everyone down for family devotions. Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes the effort doesn’t seem worth the payoff. My husband and I are always on a quest to find engaging ways to interact with our daughters about spiritual things. Usually we can incorporate these conversations into everyday life, but we also like to strive for some semblance of a family devotional time. Enter Little Visits with God. No devotional is perfect, but this one comes close.
Little Visits with God is packed with 200 short devotional thoughts for you and your family to read together. Each entry features a story that illustrates the biblical truth being presented. Engaging and memorable, these little tales encourage children to personalize the lesson without being too preachy. Also included in each lesson is a Scripture passage (with a reference to a longer passage for older children), and discussion questions. The devotionals end with a prayer. There is a special entry for Christmas and one for Easter, and an index is included at the back of the book in case you need to reference a certain topic.
Our family enjoys this devotional. We often use the lesson to lead us into other topics of life and faith. These devotional times are not well ordered and chaos free. In fact, once my husband and I let go of the idea of an unattainable ideal of a family devotional time, we found that our times together became so much richer. We started focusing more on engaging our children in conversation than in making sure they had fully assimilated the specific lesson we read together. (Be forewarned, this can take you unexpected places. We once began a devotional on obedience and ended up talking about King David’s adultery for far longer than any of us ever anticipated!) Little Visits with God is a great jumping off place for these kinds of conversations.
One final note: Little Visits is designed with kids aged five to ten in mind. Our daughters are a little older than that. I would say a range from five to twelve could easily be accommodated by this devotional.
Amery Free Lutheran Church
April 11, 2018
Bible Discovery Devotions
Review by Solveig Hjermstad
Teaching children God’s Word is one of the most rewarding yet challenging privileges God has entrusted to us. The home is the primary place where this teaching should occur. The Lord doesn’t require us to be a seminary-trained theologian to teach our children. Thankfully when God gives us children, He also gives us what we need to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Helpful resources abound and make wonderful gifts. One of those helps is bound up in a devotional book called Bible Discovery Devotions by Martha Larchar.
Written for children ages two to five, the 128-page paperback book is filled with Bible exploration. You and your child will travel together with young Montana Smith and his dog, Dakota, around the world discovering new things in God’s Word. The colorful pages are well-illustrated and adaptable to fit your child’s skill level. Each of the 52 devotions includes an activity page, poems, songs, finger plays and more. The “Discover More” pages offer further opportunities to dig deeper and apply the main ideas. Besides being adjustable to your time schedule and your child’s age, the devotionals are fun while reinforcing basic skills.
Develop a lifetime sense of awe and wonder of God’s ways and His indescribable love. Discover a reservoir of tips to reinforce truths from God’s Word. It’s never too late to start building a foundation in God’ Word. Whether it’s our child by birth or by faith, III John 4 is undeniable: “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”
AFLC Board of Publications and Parish Education
Elk River, MN
March 14, 2018
Up to Jerusalem: Devotions for Lent and Easter
Review by Pr. Dennis Norby
John A. Braun has provided to us a devotional book entitled Up to Jerusalem: Devotions for Lent and Easter. This book includes 55 devotional readings with each one being made up of a short passage of Scripture, lasting about three pages, and ending with a short prayer. The back cover of the book suggests that it will take around ten minutes to go through each reading. In these pages, the author takes us through the last days of Jesus’ life beginning with the raising of Lazarus from the dead and ending with the Resurrection and Christ’s appearances after Easter.
Many of us, during the Lenten season, have the opportunity to attend midweek services. These services often have themes that draw our attention to a specific aspect of what was going on during the last days or moments before Christ’s crucifixion. However, the themes might not have a strong stress on the events that chronologically lead to the cross. On several occasions over the last few years, I found myself surprised how quickly Holy Week had arrived. One of the great strengths of this devotional is that Braun’s collection takes us through the steps “up to Jerusalem.” Because the author has put them together in a chronological order, the reader during Lent will see the approach of the Cross in the activities and teachings of Christ.
The book is written, as the title says, for Lent and Easter but would be a great devotional any time of year. The writing is clear and vivid. At various time, the author shares his reaction to what Jesus was doing and saying, mentioning how the words of Christ convict him and how the Good News brings him joy. In this way, we are reminded that God’s Word is also for us.
The Word of God was written for John A. Braun, and it was written for you. It was written that all of us might hear of what Christ has done for us, going up to Jerusalem as a sacrifice for our sins. This devotional book is a wonderful resource that is easily readable and filled with God’s wonderful news of the finished work of Christ.
Pr. Dennis Norby
Grace Free Lutheran Church
Valley City, ND
Note that this author, John A. Braun, has also written the People’s Bible Commentary on Isaiah in two volumes.
February 14, 2018
Faithful Guide to Peace with God
Review by Pr. Les Johnson
A Faithful Guide to Peace with God is identified on the title page as, “Being the excerpts of the writings of C. O. Rosenius arranged as daily meditations to cover a period of two months with the assistance of N. J. Laache reproduced by George Taylor Rygh.”
Rosenius was one among several leaders of the spiritual awakenings in Scandinavia during the nineteenth century. His excerpted writings in this book present a powerful focus on the central, double theme of Scripture—sin and grace. The reader will experience afresh the depths of sin as well as the new sense of freedom that comes from a full understanding of justification by pure grace alone.
Topics almost always revolve around the proper division of Law and Gospel and over the two month period of assigned readings include subjects such as “The Law and its Purpose,” “The Law, Conversion and the Righteousness That Avails Before God,” “The Gospel for the Ungodly,” “He is Faithful and Just to Forgive Us Our Sins,” “The Assurance of the Remission of Our Sins” (and other such subjects too numerous to mention here).
The title of this devotional book is certainly appropriate in that carefully reading and focusing on the message of Rosenius’ writings leads the reader on a true course to finding peace with God through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus.
For some, I’m sure the daily readings may seem to be a bit too lengthy (being compared to the average devotionals published today). The language of Rosenius may also seem to be a bit archaic for the younger reader as is the case with many things written more than a century ago. However, for those willing to take the time and make the effort, the book holds great value for the spiritual life of any believer and great potential to bring the needed faith to an unconverted soul who may read its pages.
Rosenius’ works and other works of his contemporaries have a lot to offer us today as the market is flooded with many Christian writings that take the focus off of our God and place it on the individual believer, offering moral guidance but very little if any transforming power through a proper presentation of God’s Word and its timeless message. I first read this book as assigned reading for seminary more than 30 years ago and was glad to pick it up and read it again!
Pr. Les Johnson
Christ the King Lutheran Church
January 10, 2018
What Jesus Means to Me
Review by Dr. Timothy Skramstad
Pastor Herman Gockel addresses the issue of the meaning of Jesus Christ in the life of a Christian in his devotional style work, "What Jesus Means to Me.” In this rather short book, the subjects of life, pardon, peace, power, provision, companionship, hope, truth, assurance, joy, and heaven are viewed in light of the promises of Jesus and the Bible.
The stated goal of the book is to "lead to a deeper understanding of the glories of the Christian faith and to a firmer confidence in Jesus Christ, our Savior.” This goal is achieved in a powerful manner, not by mere intellectual arguments, but by what the Bible promises the believer. Every page leads the reader to a deeper trust in the Lord. The author uses a few easily understood illustrations and the words of hymns to make his points become clear.
While the book may be read in one sitting, it is profitable to use it as a devotional, reading one chapter a day. Because of the wide range of subjects, it is conceivable that certain chapters will be more precious at one time of life and then another chapter later.
It is suggested on the first page that the book be given as a gift. If it is given as a gift to someone who is having difficulty with a specific area, the giver may want to use a bookmark in a particular chapter, but the entire book is profitable to all who would want a deeper relationship with Christ. If someone is seriously considering becoming a Christian, they would also benefit from reading this and hearing the promises of the Lord. The chapters on life and pardon identify our need of a Savior and how the Lord abundantly forgives us all of our sin. Praise God for this little book that restores hope and confidence in Christ through His Word.
Dr. Timothy Skramdstad
Living Word Lutheran Church