Tag Archives: reconciliation

Review: The Divine Proverb of Streusel, by Sara Brunsvold

The Divine Proverb of Streusel, by Sara Brunsvold (Revell, 2024)

Sometimes when life hurts, you run away. Even from the people you love.

Nikki has so much going for her: a solid faith, a loving mom and sister, a good friend at the school where she teaches, and a caring guy who’s been talking about rings. But second-hand news of her unfaithful father’s remarriage—so soon after the divorce that bankrupted her mother—leaves her unable to face any of them.

She flees to the one untouched memory of safety: her paternal grandparents’ home in rural Missouri, now owned by her bachelor uncle, Wes.

Wes is an army veteran drawn home to the peace of the farm. He doesn’t agree with his brother’s behaviour but understands the wounds that made the man who he is. Coached long-distance by his feisty Aunt Emma (Nikki’s Grandma Ann’s sister) and with a regular rhythm of prayer, Wes will do all he can to help Nikki heal.

Nikki stays for the summer to help fix up the old farmhouse, finding some measure of peace in her mother’s example of “just do the next thing.” One of the “next things” involves cooking her way through a handwritten book of old German recipes, each of which opens with a farm wife’s words of hard-earned wisdom and proverbs for making the best of life.

This is a heartwarming, gently-told tale of hurt and healing, family heritage, and comfort food. Be warned, you may find yourself heading for the kitchen (or a restaurant). Or prayerfully making yet another attempt to show love to someone you’d rather avoid.

A few of my favourite lines:

Home should be where peace comes to roost. But peace is never an uninvited guest. As the keeper of the home, you must invite it daily. Bring it in, give it the place of honor, sit with it until you are filled with its tenderness. Turn away the indignation that will invariably come to your door too… [chapter 12, page 4 in chapter]

People prefer to hang on to their own view of things far longer than they should, particularly about their own family. [Chapter 13, page 6 in chapter]

Stories are the universal heart language. They bring together what is scattered. [Chapter 24, page 13 in chapter]

The world gives enough reasons to fret. Be not one of them. Be the help. [Chapter 29, page 5 in chapter]

Recommended for anyone who enjoys intergenerational Christian women’s fiction with heart. Readers who also enjoy nonfiction in the Christian living genre and who like to read cookbooks will totally love this book.

Sara Brunsvold is also the author of the highly acclaimed The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip. Her website says her “chief aim is to create stories that speak hope, truth and life.” For more about the author and her work, visit sarabrunsvold.com.

[Review copy from the public library via the Hoopla Digital app.]

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Reconciliation, not Rejection

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.
Acts 3:19, NLT*

Peter’s not being judgmental here, not waving a big stick or speaking condemnation. If we could hear his tone, we’d hear urgency. Longing.

In the Temple, he’s speaking to a crowd about Jesus. He has just put it to them plainly: Jesus is the Messiah from God, whom they and their leaders have rejected and killed.

He’s also declared that they didn’t know the full story, and their choices were part of God working out His plan (Acts 3:17-18).

Now that he has laid out the truth, he’s calling for a response. He’s inviting them into forgiveness. Into the Kingdom, where they belong.

This is Peter, who denied his Lord three times. He can’t even claim ignorance for that. Only fear. But Peter knows from personal experience about the forgiveness and grace of God, about the love that longs to restore and reinstate and repurpose.

We know that love, too, so as we encounter people who don’t know Jesus, if the Spirit leads us to address some form of sin that’s holding them back, let’s remember that the goal is reconciliation, not rejection.

Addressing sin isn’t about “look what you did.” It’s about “this is serious, but don’t let it keep you from God’s love.” And instead of pointing fingers, we can speak from a place of experience: “God does forgive, because He’s forgiven me.”

Oh Holy God, You alone are Judge, and You are also Saviour. Give us compassion for those still trapped in sin, and speak through us to offer reconciliation. We know this is a hard topic, and many will take offense at the truth, but help us to speak it in love and to entrust the results to You.

Here’s Michael Card’s haunting question: “What Will it Take to Keep You From Jesus?” Let’s remember the heart behind the call.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Seeing One Another

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:16-17, NLT*

When we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ, do we remember they’re new people? Or do we focus on the bits of their old nature still clinging to the edges of their newness?

When conflicts arise and difficulties spring up, do we band together, united by a common love of Jesus? Or do we pick at one another, take sides, form factions? Allow bitter roots to grow?

Despite differences of opinion, we who are born again spiritually are new people, citizens of God’s kingdom. We see Jesus differently, as believers. We need to see each other differently as well.

What if we consciously chose to look for signs of new life in one another instead of focusing on the negatives? To pray for one another instead of putting up walls? To pray with one another until we found common ground?

Not that we’d agree about everything, but could we hear and understand one another? Love and forgive, even if life moved us in different directions?

I’ve been asking God lately to help me see: His nature, His leading, beauty, opportunities, needs. I want to thank Peter Black of Raise Your Gaze for sharing today’s verses with me in an email. He didn’t know God would use them to point my eyes back to my own congregation with a prayer to see the new life and perhaps to somehow encourage it.

God our Saviour and Redeemer, You call us to reconciliation to Yourself and to one another. Forgive us when we allow the mess of living to obscure the new life You gave us. Help us each to recognize and confess, daily or even more frequently, those things that dim our light. Help us stay as close as possible to You, so we won’t poison ourselves or others. Give us Your love for one another so that those around us will recognize something that only You can do.

Our song this week is Russ Taff‘s “We Will Stand.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Time with the Father

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
Psalm 103:2, NIV*

I was thinking in last week’s post, “Missing the Inheritance,” about how as Christians we often don’t realize what we have in God’s Kingdom. Peter says we have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and sometimes we live like miserable creatures with little hope and less resources or joy.

That’s a sad truth, and we do need to learn to appreciate and accept all that our Father lavishes on us when He adopts us as His own, but as Jenny from Captured by God commented last week, that’s not the ultimate focus.

The best gift God gives us is relationship with Himself. If we can’t delight in Him, we won’t gain much from the other benefits of being His children. We probably won’t even notice many of them.

God… the God of the universe, Creator, Sustainer, Rescuer… loves us and longs to spend time with us. And we come asking for endless lists of things, or complaining, or fretting. Or we’re like the prodigal son’s elder brother, too busy working for his father to spend time with him.

Father God, I’m so thankful You’ve made a way for us to be reconciled to You, to be Your children. Thank You for caring for us and inviting us to bring You our concerns and needs. Please forgive us for the times we stop there, or we don’t leave our work long enough to talk with You. Please quiet our spirits and teach us the delight of abiding in You. Help us learn to recognize and rest in Your presence as we go about our days. Help us delight in You.

Our song for the week is “Divine Romance,” by Phil Wickham.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Missing the Inheritance

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

Luke 15:25-32, NIV*

This is the tail end of the Prodigal Son story. The stray son has come home repentant, and the father has thrown a party. Enter the older brother, wondering what the commotion is about. When he finds out, he’s angry. It’s not fair.

And it isn’t.

It’s merciful, extravagant… love. It’s a perfect picture of the God who shatters the boundaries we like to put up, who doesn’t write people off the way we do. The God of second chances.

Over the years I’ve come to appreciate grace enough to delight in the younger son’s reconciliation with his father. But I still felt the responsible son hadn’t been treated well. Not even one measly goat for a pot-luck with his buddies!

It hit me the other day – did he ever ask?

Listen to him: “All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.” Is that what the father truly wanted?

Hard work, sure, but how about partnership? Working for the good of the family farm (and fortune). It would be his someday, as firstborn, but he wasn’t seeing his inheritance. Only his obligation.

Maybe I ought to give the black sheep son more credit. Sure, he made stupid choices, but at least he understood he had an inheritance.

I hear great sadness in the father’s response to his elder son’s anger. Maybe it’s not only sadness that his firstborn can’t see the joy of restoration. Maybe it’s also for a young man who’s missed the joy of sonship and settled for a servant’s role.

Father, we’re to hold You in holy awe because You are God. But You’ve also adopted us as Your children. Please open me to understand and receive the full benefits of intimacy with You. Forgive me for the times I’ve seen only responsibility when You longed for relationship. How great is the love You have lavished upon us, that we may be called the sons and daughters of God!

Our song for the week is “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us,” sung here by Selah.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.