Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Review: The Auschwitz Escape


I read a lot of books, and this ranks as one of the best. Author Joel C. Rosenberg takes you there—to the land, to the people, to the atrocities that triggered World War 2. Through personal, gut-wrenching stories you meet people so real they become your friends. You want to talk with Jacob, a Jew, whose journey took him from his childhood home to the Auschwitz death camp.

You want to meet Abigail who befriended him in Auschwitz and proved to be a loyal friend. Since you cannot imagine living under death camp conditions, you want to talk with those who did—and survived. Or gave their lives so others might.

Because we like to think mankind is basically human, it was difficult for the world to believe and grasp what was happening in Germany. And it only happened because of men and women like Jacob and Abigail who risked their lives to make it known.

I love the author’s short chapters introduced by date and place. Great writing. Action on every page. And you know that, although it’s a novel, the situations were all too true for those who lived in those times and places.

The author, an evangelical Christian born of a Jewish father and Gentile mother, shares his source material in the final pages along with his own motivation for writing the book. This is definitely a five-star read, great for book clubs.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review: The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way


Talk about oldies but goodies. This book, written by a 19th century Russian peasant, focuses on how a Christian might pray constantly. Whether fact or fiction, no one knows. In fact, the author is anonymous. But he tells the story of a man who lost his home, his wife and all his material goods in a fire and then sets out on a journey to find the secret of effective prayer. He carries with him an inspirational book written by the early church fathers, the Philokalia, and discusses its content and the content of scripture related to prayer with all he meets.

Someone suggests the pilgrim pray the Jesus prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me), thousands of times a day. The book not only teaches principles of prayer, which are as valid today as they were then, but does so in an entertaining way with intriguing stories. The pilgrim hears of a military officer who overcame alcoholism when a monk suggested he read a chapter of the New Testament every time he had the urge to take a drink. If he still had the urge, read a second chapter, and a third. By the time the man read through the New Testament, he was cured.

The Way of the Pilgrim includes an Appendix containing writings of the church fathers on prayer. Back matter also includes definitions, excerpts for reflection and guided discussion questions, great for book discussion groups.

This book is an excellent, easy read. It has certainly increased my awareness of how I can stay more connected to the Lord as I go about my daily tasks. The version I chose was translated by Helen Bacovcin.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What Every Girl Needs




Dear Friends,

Here we are! Ready to present “What Every Girl Needs: Refuge, Redemption, Restoration and a Few Good Recipes.” This new retreat has been a long time coming, but we are now ready to chop, stir and bake! Wait till you see what we’ve cooked up for you.

Our skits feature everything from an Easy-Peasy Cobbler to Chocolate Ganache (I didn’t even know what that was) to chopping up a pineapple without losing any fingers. And, of course, there are serious talks. We have learned a lot as we’ve studied the book of Ruth this last year. You’ll have to experience a retreat to get the whole ball of wax, but based on the title, you can tell we’re focusing on Refuge, Redemption and Restoration. Don’t we all need those three Rs in our lives?

In our talks we draw principles from those words and share examples from our own lives. Sometimes it’s hard to be transparent. But we’re getting better at it. Our retreats always include music by Kim and small group discussion time so women can get to know each other better. I also offer a dramatic presentation of the book of Ruth from memory. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE doing this, because the story of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz is so intriguing.

Have you ever considered hosting a women’s retreat for your church? What a blessing it might be! Just to spend a day or a weekend together as women. You would discover others who feel the same way you do. Others who have the same hurts you do. Others who need the same support you do. And you would go home ready to offer that support to each other, now that you’ve gotten to know each other better.

All you need is a place (it can be your church building itself or a retreat center), a date (fall and spring are good times, although we do retreats even in January and February) and a small planning committee to get the word out and plan the details. If the idea scares you, we would be happy to guide you in the planning process.

We would be appreciate if you would print out this page as a reminder to approach the women of your church. Or if you would forward the blog to someone who leads women’s ministry at your church or at another.

On August 23, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. we’ll offer our first local presentation of this retreat at Chatman Community Chapel, 94 Silver Creek Road, Port Trevorton, PA (across the river from Millersburg). I’m sure the ladies there would be happy to welcome visitors from other churches as long as you register at least a week or two ahead of time. E-mail me (sbrosius@epix.net) if you want contact information.

On September 6, we’re planning to offer a one-hour program based on this retreat at First United Methodist Church, 346 Center, St., Millersburg. E-mail me  if you would like to register for that event.

And besides this new retreat, we offer three others, which you can check out on our website, www.friendsoftheheart.us.

Enjoy the journey and experience a blessed and safe Fourth of July.

Shirley Brosius

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