Review: Without This Ring

Without This Ring: Surviving Divorce
by Donna Pyle

Divorce rips apart what God had made one. How do you survive that? What happens next? This is not a book of devotions. It is not a how-to showing you how to justify your divorce. It is not a guidebook to make sure you’re always in the right. Instead, it walks through the emotional and practical journey of what to happen when divorce comes. Throughout, Donna Pyle shows scenes from her own story of heartbreak. She also sprinkles in many other stories that show other aspects of divorce. Most chapters end with a few ages each written by a pastor and a professional counselor reacting to what Pyle wrote. Each chapter is followed with a guide for further prayer and journaling.

This book isn’t aimed at me. I’m not divorced, and Lord willing, I’m not planning on a divorce! Hopefully, though, no one going into marriage plans on divorce. I figured that I should get some more training and knowledge in dealing with people in those circumstances, though, and so I picked up this book.

I’m glad I did. (more…)

Review: Ethics of Sex

Ethics of Sex: From Taboo to Delight
Ed. By Gifford A. Grobien

What does God have to say about sex? Our world screams so many messages about what to do with our lust and our bodies, but God’s Word often says something very different from the world. Ten essays make up this book, pointing the reader back to what God says.

And as with any collection of essays, there’s good ones and bad ones.

One essay quoted The Catechism of the Catholic Church over and over again and very little Scripture. Another quoted a lot of the Lutheran fathers and very little Scripture. I have issues with this. It doesn’t matter if you’re quoting Roman Catholic sources or Lutheran ones; I’m suspicious if you don’t go back to the Bible. (more…)

Review: Sexual Morality in a Christless World

Sexual Morality in a Christless World
by Matthew Rueger

Who cares what the Bible says? Most people don’t, unless it backs them up with what they want. In such a setting as ours, does the Bible have anything worthwhile to say about sexuality? Matthew Rueger is a pastor who has been invited to speak at public university classes about sexual ethics for years now, and he takes what he has learned about speaking about sex in such a hostile environment and shares it. He walks through misconceptions, good ways to share the truth, and a whole passel of amazing footnotes that backs up what he says.

First off, this book is awesome. It would be so easy for a book like this to focus on law, law, law. After all, the word “morality” is right there in the title. However, Rueuger clearly revels in the Gospel and longs to give forgiveness. He offers mercy for the broken. He points to Jesus for life. Instead of a book shouting “Clean up your life!” or “Look at those terrible sinners!” it says, “Jesus has made you new. He has forgiven you. How now shall we live?” I love that.

Every section returns over and over to Jesus. In an early section looking at the well-documented actions of Roman emperors, Rueger talks about Tiberias, who practiced pedophilia. “This was the Roman Emperor in power when Christ was crucified. When the Jews shouted at Jesus’ trial that they had no king but Caesar (John 19:15), this was the Caesar whom they were willing to serve. Jesus was a greater offense to them than Tiberias” (28). (more…)

Review: Because I Said So

Because I Said So – and Other Things Christian Fathers Say
by Dan Madson

Christian fathers can say and do some funny things. Dan Madson writes a series of vignettes talking about some common struggles of fathers everywhere, and uses those struggles to illustrate Christian lessons. Originally a regular article in Lutheran Parent, the best articles over many years are brought together in this slim volume.

As I read this book, I could almost hear Garrison Keillor narrating the little stories. There’s this very comfortable sense of humor that runs throughout the book that brings a warm laugh. Madson’s grounding in Scripture and in Christian community informs his stories and his illustrations.

The problem is… these were written as short little articles to amuse. Taken that way, the writing is pretty good. It achieves its purpose well. 

As a book, though? (more…)

The Heavens Declare

I’m sweating. The concert was wonderful, but a thousand people packed into a small space taxed the air conditioners for the chapel. It had been sweltering outside when I entered. Storms passed by during the concert. Maybe, maybe outside it is nice. I excuse myself from the conversation, ready to head home. I step outside, hoping to greet a cool night.

I wilt. Oh, a storm passed by, but it only made things more humid. The dark air presses in, choking me. The warmth steals any energy the concert has given.

The weather does not care. It does not care that I struggle to breathe. It does not care that where I was sweating before, now I am dripping more than I would had I jumped into a lake. I am smaller than the weather, and it does not care.

I limp to my car, far away on the other side of an endless parking lot. Above the sky flashes with heat lightning. It is so far above me I cannot hear the rumbles; I only see the bright bursts of white, dancing from cloud to cloud with wild abandon. How high above the heavens are above the earth, that I cannot even discern the rumble of the beats that such energy leaps to!

But the lightning doesn’t care. It does not care that I admire its beauty from afar, mute in wonder at the glories of creation. It does not care that so far below it a little gnat scurries on a blotch on the ground. I am smaller than the lightning, and it does not care.

God made the lightning to dance. He made the weather to bless. He fashioned it with a thought, with a word, with a sentence spoken into the silence. He is bigger than the weather. He is bigger than the lightning.

The weather does not care if I live or die. (more…)

Do you have the appendix of the body of Christ in your congregation?

I Corinthians 12:7-11 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.


One body, many parts

  1. Every gift is advantageous to the body.
  2. Every gift is advantageous to the parts! (more…)