Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book: The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus

In the Gospel of the Lord, through a distinctive evangelical and critical approach, Michael Bird explores the historical development of the four canonical Gospels. He shows how the memories and faith of the earliest believers formed the Gospel accounts of Jesus that got written and, in turn, how these accounts further shaped the early church.
Bird's study clarifies the often confusing debates over the origins of the canonical Gospels. Bird navigates recent concerns and research as he builds an informed case for how the early Christ followers wrote and spread the story of Jesus -- the story by which they believed they were called to live. The Gospel of the Lord is ideal for students or anyone who wants to know the story behind the four Gospels.

What others are saying about the book

N. T. Wright  -- St. Andrews University
"Studying the Gospels is daunting for the beginner and difficult even for the seasoned scholar. Mike Bird here slices a path through the tangled mess of older hypotheses and offers clear guidelines for the way forward. . . . Everyone will profit enormously from wrestling with the issues presented here in a fresh and compelling manner."

Craig A. Evans -- Acadia Divinity College

"Carefully researched and engagingly written. . . . Michael Bird asks all the right questions about the New Testament Gospels - what they really are, why they even exist, why these four Gospels and not others - and then provides very sensible answers. Bird shows that the Evangelists tell the stories of Jesus' life, teaching, and deeds because Christian faith ultimately is about following Jesus. Scholars and students alike will find new and refreshing ideas in this instructive book."

Robert H. Gundry-- Westmont College

"In The Gospel of the Lord Michael Bird treats with acute perception not only the ways in which the early church wrote the story of Jesus but also the ways in which modern scholars have reconstructed those earlier ways. The treatment is wide-ranging, thoroughly documented, evangelical, and eminently fair in its presentation of opposing points of view. Ideal as a required textbook for seminarians and as a compendium for all others engaged in the academic study of Jesus' life!"

Jonathan T. Pennington -- Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Well-researched and well-written, this book is a delightful read from beginning to end. It contains both a state-of-the-art discussion of many complex Gospel issues and several creative suggestions for new ways forward. A great resource for studying the Gospels."

-- Library Journal (STARRED review)


“Bird is one of the younger leading scholars in New Testament studies, and this volume is one of the outstanding literary achievements of the year. With care, clarity, and thorough scholarship, the author discusses possibilities for the origins, the genre, and the goals of the four Gospels. . . . This work is scholarly but remarkably free of academese; it should be a perfect fit for seminary libraries, religious leaders, and scholars.”


Read Amazon Customer Reviews here 


Watch an interview with the author regarding the book


Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Blessing: May the feet of God walk with you

The Christmas Blessing - May the feet of God walk with you is a popular blessing for many Lutheran congregations in Australia

   

Sheet music is available from SongSelect  or through the song writer Robin Mann by purchasing All together again music edition 

if you use this song don't forget to register it on your ccli records 

Discussion Starters: Evangelism involves

Evangelism involves discussion starters are short articles to encourage members in their life as Christians.
The following discussion starters first appeared in the Bulletin/toolkit of the Portland-Heywood Lutheran Church in May and June.   You can you use them in your bulletin or newsletter or as a discussion starter at a meeting...
After reading them you may want to ask the following questions:
What did you think of that discussion starter?
What does it mean for our community or congregation?
What is one thing this discussion starter is prompting us to do or change?


Evangelism involves reaching out to all age groups including seniors
Statistics show as a percentage of the population there will be a higher portion of people over 65 in the future (now this does not mean the number of young people is declining in fact they are growing as well in numbers but declining as a percentage of the population. And even though they say the church is getting older we know that not every older person is part of a Christian community or has faith in Jesus… Some older people have deep hurts and regrets, others desire community, some are so battered through life experiences they question if there is a loving God, others are struggling to cope with change, some need an avenue to express their gifts, others are coping with health issues that is affecting theme physically and emotionally, some are looking for what was in the past, some are enjoying life now….and the list continues….The starting point in reaching out to seniors is no different to the starting point in reaching out to anyone else….be prepared to spend time with a senior person in your community..
How might your church community best reach out to older people?

Evangelism isn’t a One-Time Deal…
Read and take notice of Acts 8:36-40 (one of the coolest sections in the Bible… God literally teleports someone)!! The eunuch receives Christ, is baptised, and then God moves Phillip
somewhere else to KEEP proclaiming Christ. We are NEVER done with this…God has strategically placed each one of us in places of work, in neighbourhoods, and in certain social situations NOT for our comfort… but rather He placed us there with specific relationships so that we can literally tell others about Jesus! It’s NOT a one-time deal…it’s a core value that we must embrace in our lives if we are going to follow Christ!....
What relationships do you have now....that give you the opportunity to share Christ?

Evangelism requires the Holy Spirit which means we need to be regularly worshipping and studying the bible
Martin Luther explains that the bible reminds us that we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called us by the Gospel, enlightened us with His gifts, sanctified and keeps us in the true faith (explanation to the 3rd article of the Apostles Creed). Worship and regular bible study are
therefore essential both for anyone who is involved in God’s mission and evangelism and at the same time it is important to lead people to God through bible study and worship as it is
through these activities that the Holy Spirit calls people to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Evangelism requires having a good relationship with God
For us to be involved in God’s mission, means God working in us and through us…It means us have an understanding of what God is on about so we can share with others what we know of the God who not only loves us but everyone…Our relationship with God develops as we love and study God’s Word, pray daily with Him, ask what does it mean for us to be more Christ like, ask for God’s Spirit to fill us and work in us and through us, ask God to reveal our sins, confess our sins and receive His love, forgiveness and guidance, and ask God’s help to see people as He sees them. All this involves dedicating time with God so your relationship with Him grows.

Evangelism involves being God’s witnesses everywhere
Acts chapter 1 verse 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of
the earth; is a reminder to us that being a Christian witness involves being a Christian witness everywhere…..at home, in your street, in your town, in your shire or region, in your state, in your country and throughout the world. Take some time this week to pray for God to fill you with His Spirit and to show you what it means for you to be His witness everywhere….

Evangelism must come back to a conversation about Jesus
It is important to remember we are called to PROCLAIM CHRIST! Notice in Acts 8:31-35 that Phillip began where the eunuch was and brought the conversation back around to JESUS! It HAS TO come back to Christ…our conversations with people can go in many different directions…political and sociological…however evangelism needs to always lead to a conversation about Jesus… no one EVER turned to Christ because they had all of their questions answered!!! Always bring your conversations around to JESUS!

PLEASE understand this…if Phillip had simply said, “I am not going to share Christ with him…I’m just going to buy him a cup of coffee and give him a warm smile,” then we would have had nothing more than a story about a caffeinated eunuch who felt good about himself for a moment but NEVER HEARD ABOUT JESUS! THAT IS A BAD STORY!

Evangelism is about exploring and sharing stories
Everyone person has not just a story…but numerous stories that help them understand and explain their life. As Christians not only has God played a significant role in our story and our stories, we are in fact part of His story. Seeing life this way places God as the main
character and author of our stories giving us a good perspective of our life. Importantly it also helps us link with other people and their stories. Take some time to think about your story and think about how and where has God been part of your story. Then also think about

how is God encouraging you to interact with other people’s stories.

Evangelism involves being normal!!!!
Do you notice in Acts 8:29-30 that Phillip does not say, “Hello, hell-bound sinner, did you know that unless you repent of your sin and give your life to Jesus, you are going to fry like bacon in a devil’s hell?” He did not scream, yell, or hold up signs. He simply listened to the Spirit, ran up to the chariot (at times we will need to chase after people), and asked a simple question, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

It’s amazing the opportunities that God puts in front of us every single day…and when we see them and embrace them, we simply need to be normal, engage with people in conversation, and communicate that we are interested in them.

Evangelism involves praying for and looking for Open Doors
Colossians 4 verses 2 and 3 says, Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.
Open doors can’t be taken for granted. There will be times when it is difficult or appears impossible to share the gospel, because people are resistant to the gospel. Open doors happen when the hearts of an individual is open and receptive to God’s truth. Often for us to
experience an open door we need to have developed a relationship with a persona and be prepared to get in a conversations with people….then we need to have our eyes, ears and minds open to notice when people are open to receive the Gospel.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Study Resources: Exodus Gods and Kings

Exodus:  Gods and Kings opens in December 2014...
To help you grow in your Christian faith we have prepared the a study resource that will help you and others unpack the Exodus story as you reflect on the movie...
download:  .Exodus: Gods and Kings study resources

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Report: Objections to the Christian Faith from the unchurched and dechurched

Objections to the Christian Faith from the Unchurched and De-Churched is the focus of the Resurgence Report from Mars Hill

What do non-Christians really think about Christians and Jesus? 
What do they say when we’re not in the room?
Though the cultural divide between Christians and non-Christians is growing, we are still missionaries with a God-given passion to see people meet Jesus and be rescued for eternity. To do this, it would help to know what they love, what they hate, what they think about Jesus, and what they believe about the big questions of life.
In 21st century America, what reasons do people give for rejecting Jesus? You may be surprised to know that there are nine objections to Christianity that are brought up again and again among an incredibly diverse population. Chances are, the people you’re trying to reach have the same questions and objections, even if they won’t voice them in polite conversation.

The Resurgence Report represents our effort to hear non-Christians speak from the heart so that we can better love our neighbors and humbly lead them toward truth, freedom, and joy in Jesus.

What is the report?
Together with market research companies, Gfk and Saurage Marketing Research, we put together a massive collection of data and resources by polling and interviewing un-churched and de-churched people across America.
Interviewed 8 focus groups in 4 cities (San Francisco, Phoenix, Austin, and Boston)
Conducted a telephone survey with 1,000 responses throughout the U.S.

What comes in the report?
Resurgence has made the entire report and all of our research available to you for free:

Phone Survey summary and responses from GfK.
List of the Top Objections to Christianity.
List of 1,000 verbatim responses to “What is your impression of Evangelical Christians?”
List of 1,000 verbatim responses to “Who is Jesus?”
Saurage Focus Groups summary.
10-minute audio clips of both men and women focus groups in 4 different cities.
Full transcripts from each focus group.

Who is this report for?
Pastors, Church Planters, Ministry Workers, Bible Students, Authors, Bloggers, and more. The Resurgence Report was built with ministry leaders in mind, but can be used by anyone, Christian or non-Christian, wishing to explore more about the objections to Christianity.

How do you define un-churched and de-churched?
Un-churched are those who have never attended a church regularly, and de-churched are those who once attended regularly but are no longer part of a church.

Our hope is this valuable research can be helpful for you as you prepare content such as sermons, books, or blog posts.

You can download this report at https://marshill.com/2014/12/02/the-resurgence-report