Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Book: Spirit filled: Normal Christian Living

Being filled with God’s Spirit is not a special blessing locked up for the select few, but the normal experience God has planned for all Christians.

Spirit Filled is written in plain language for ordinary Christians. While it is perfectly designed for group use, it can be equally enjoyed as a book in its own right.

The authors Steen Olsen and Noel Due are experienced Lutheran pastors and church leaders who know the difficulties and demands of everyday life. Every chapter is filled with encouragement, and the whole book is a breath of fresh air to weary hearts.

Meeting the Holy Spirit in the Bible
Meeting the Holy Spirit in person
Meeting the Holy Spirit as the people of faith
Meeting the Holy Spirit:  God's ultimate gift
Being filled with the Spirit
The Holy Spirit:  the giving gift
Participating in the Spirit's gifts
Enjoying the fruit of the Spirit
The Spirit teaches us to cry 'Jesus is Lord'
The Spirit teaches us to cry 'Come'
The Spirit and your future.

If you are worried whether the Holy Spirit is active in your life, if your Christian faith is a bit wobbly, your love has cooled, and your hope become uncertain, this is just the book for you – and anyone you know who is in the same situation. This wonderful study doesn’t tell you what you have to do to get back on track in your spiritual life, but what God has done for you and is still doing. Here is the gospel of the Holy Spirit who implants us into Christ who leads us to the heavenly Father.
Noel Due and Steen Olsen present profound theology in simple, non-technical language.
What I love most is the way in which they don’t refer to the scriptures in order to find proof texts, but let the Spirit-inspired Word be the first and most important voice. Communal listening to the sacred text and sacramental celebration have priority over individual experience. The twelve chapters reflect familiarity with debate on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, but without being confrontational or argumentative.
That being Spirit-filled is the normal thing in being a believer is a breath of fresh air. If you sense that I’m excited about this book you are not wrong. Please read and share it.
Revd Dr Vic Pfitzner emeritus Lecturer and former Principal of Luther Seminary/Australian Lutheran College, Adelaide South Australia

A strong, loving, and wise book designed for use in ordinary local churches and small groups within the church community. Strong theology, indeed, very strong theology that is well exposited for a lay audience. Loving, the authors clearly love their Lord, His Church, and the life of the Holy Spirit in everyday life. Wise, they have lived with these sentences and state their lessons from experience with careful, reflective, responsible clear thoughts and proposed actions.
Revd Dr Patrick Keifert Professor emeritus of Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary, St Paul MN, USA

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Book: On Justification through Faith - Theological Commonplaces

Originally published in 1613, On Justification through Faith presents Johann Gerhard’s classic voice on this crucial doctrine. While his theology is, in many respects, nothing new beyond what other Lutherans such as Martin Chemnitz said before him, his perspective is distinctively helpful to modern readers, especially in his dealing of topics not dealt with by previous theologians.

Gerhard’s basic position is that justification is a judicial term, and thus the appropriation of God’s grace through faith alone (justification) is not the transfer of divinity—of the essence of the God-man—or of any qualities (created or divine) from God to the believer, but instead it is a change of status before God. For Gerhard, justification is unthinkable without the real person of Christ being apprehended through faith.

Table of Contents
Commonplace XIX: On Justification through Faith
Chapter I: On the efficient cause of justification
Chapter II: The meritorious cause of justification
Chapter III: On the instrumental cause of justification
       Section I: On justifying faith and its parts. 
       Section II: On the various divisions of faith.
       Section III: The principal efficient cause of faith is the Holy Spirit, 
       Section V: The effect of faith, which is justification.
       Section VI: On the properties of justifying faith, that is, Whether they can be separated from love and the other virtues.
Chapter IV: On the formal cause of justification. 
Chapter V: On the final cause of justification. 
Chapter VI: On the use of the doctrine of justification and on its definition.

Resource: Lay Person Upfront

Lay person upfront is a resource developed by Pastor Rob Edwards when he was pastor Calvary Rockhampton Lutheran Church.
The resources assists lay people who have the task of leading worship, lay leading, or lay preaching in a Lutheran context

You can download Lay person up front here.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Children's Book: The Day when God made the church

Children love birthday parties. This is a book – a first if its kind – to help kids understand and celebrate the birthday of the Church. The Day When God Made the Church is the story of Pentecost and how the Holy Spirit shaped, and continues to shape, who we are as God’s Church. Children will learn the story of Pentecost: the sights, sounds, and events of that miraculous day described in the Book of Acts. They will also discover who the Holy Spirit is and how God calls each of us to follow Jesus. At the end, parents, educators, ministers will discover fresh ways to celebrate Pentecost with children in their own churches and families.

A great addition to your Pentecost shelves: This book is a wonderful telling of the story of Pentecost: the sights, the sounds and the people that began the community of the Church. We recommend placing this book on the bottom shelf of your Pentecost shelves.
—The Rev. Cheryl V. Minor, Ph.D.
Co-Rector, All Saints' Church, Belmont, MA
Director of the Center for the Theology of Childhood
The Godly Play Foundation

"Readers and listeners of all ages will discover much to stimulate their understanding of Pentecost through this theologically grounded book. Its engaging qualities and vivid images rhythmically connects children to the movement of The Holy Spirit, and the birth of the Church. Rebekah seamlessly helps children understand this sometimes difficult celebration in the liturgical year." —Melanie C. Gordon, Director of Ministry with Children, Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church

“This is a delightful and powerful telling of the birth of the church. Your child will love this book. The Day When God Made Church invites the parent, teacher, and child to engage in conversation about God, love, and the church. This is the book we have been waiting for….”
—The Rev. Mark Bozzuti-Jones award winning author of God Created and Jesus, the Word

Good children’s storybooks about Pentecost are few and far between. So when a new one appears it is worth sharing. "The Day When God Made Church: A Child’s First Book about Pentecost," by Rebekah McLeod Hutto, is a good addition to a church’s resources for children’s classes and libraries. Though it is rather long (5 minutes to read aloud), it could also be read in worship. Read it just before or after reading the biblical text to add color and detail to the story. If you are lucky enough to have a small number of children, read it with them seated around you so they can follow the wonderful illustrations. Savor the TALL words in the text and pause to reflect on the details in the pictures.
If you observe Ascension of the Lord on the Sunday before Pentecost, read only the first three pages about WAITING just before the benediction of that service and invite worshipers back the following week for the story and party that come next.
I mention this book now so that you have time to order it as you plan for Pentecost on May 15.—Carolyn C. Brown, author of Forbid Them Not, and Gateways to Heaven,

The Day When God Made Church immediately draws readers of all ages into the Acts 2 story of Pentecost. Haig’s illustrations give deep meaning to Hutto’s child-like words that tell how the disciples wait…wait…WAIT in the Upper Room. At first, the reader sees men, women, children, and animals portrayed plainly in solid colors. The first inkling of the Holy Spirit comes visually with a bright blue spark, and the patterned orange flame of an ancient lamp. One turn of the page makes the reader gasp in awe at the Holy Spirit’s presence: joyful patterns of bright colors fill the pages, swirling around the people, dog, cow, and dove!
The story continues as colors visually represent the Holy Spirit’s wind and fire, warming the disciples’ hearts. Blue swirls turn into drops of rain filled with words from a host of different languages, eliciting sounds like drumbeats and whispers. Young readers will love to interact with these pages as their imaginations, curiosity, and enthusiasm are engaged by a sense of wonder.
The story draws readers into the disciples’ questions: Who is the Holy Spirit? …  What is happening? … Why do we feel so different? … Why do we hear so many languages?
These questions beautifully set the scene for remembering Jesus, as well as for Peter’s definition of the church: We are a family that shares, eats, and worships together. The story ends with a jubilant “Alleluia!” and a visual invitation to the Lord’s table, evoking the famous Holy Trinity icon.—Alexis Kruza, Building Faith

The story of Pentecost is so familiar that a summary is not necessary.  This, however, is a first person narrative which invites us to be participants.  This is a more comprehensive telling of Acts 2 than is usual for children.  It includes Joel’s prophesy, (without identifying it), Peter’s sermon, a reference to baptism, and the shared life of the new community as well as the gift of the Spirit and varied languages.  Some of the story is omitted but the essential outline of Pentecost is here, enriched by metaphors and highlighted by feelings. The story is told in simple, direct sentences with print variation and color contributing to the excitement.  But without pictures or print, it’s easy to hear this story as an aural experience.  The art adds details about this being an intergenerational group and animals are present. The author makes a number of suggestions about how to celebrate Pentecost on the concluding page. Pentecost is relatively free from the cultural takeover of Christmas and Easter.
“Finally a story for young children about Pentecost! … Children will enjoy reading about the birthday of their church, and they—along with the adults who love them—will be better able to wrap their hearts and minds around this curious celebration called Pentecost. Alleluia!”
 —Rev. Matt Matthews, author of the novel Mercy Creek and Pastor, St. Giles Presbyterian Church, Greenville, SC.

Resource: Fan God's gifts into flame (Pastor Personal Growth)

Fan God’s Gifts into Flame assists pastors in thinking through some of the “whys” and “hows” of planning for growth in all their God-given callings (pastor, husband, father, colleague in ministry, etc.). Since each pastor is a uniquely gifted child of God, and since each place where God calls him to serve is a unique gathering of God’s people, it can be wise for a pastor to take time to consider how he can make the most of his unique God-given strengths in his unique God-given place of service. The goal is to help pastors make such planning an annual part of how they grow in all their callings.

The resource includes:

  • An essay giving you the theological rationale and some practical directions for developing an annual spiritual and professional growth plan.
  • A Workbook giving you tools to consider your strengths and the specific strengths that God has given to you as a unique individual.
  • A Toolbox will giving  you some tools you can use as you pursue personal, spiritual, and professional growth.