Friday, October 31, 2014

videos: Luther's morning and evening prayers

Martin Luther's Morning Prayer from Dave Lassanske on Vimeo.

Martin Luther's Morning Prayer represented in kinetic typography. The first video in a series of Lutheran doctrine, creeds, and theology represented in kinetic typography.

Martin Luther's Evening Prayer from Dave Lassanske on Vimeo.

Martin Luther's Evening Prayer represented in kinetic typography. The second video in a series of Lutheran doctrine, creeds, and theology represented in kinetic typography.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Advent Song for candle lighting: based on the song Be Still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am God has been adapted for the lighting of the Advent Candles...hope, peace, joy and love...using the music of the traditional still and know that I am God

Discussion Starter/Bulletin Snippets: Evangelism involves......

Evangelism involves.....are short articles that can be used for bulletins, newsletters or devotion discussion starters......
The following appeared in March and April 2014 in the bulletin of the Portland-Heywood Lutheran Church...

Evangelism involves trusting God……
Throughout life there are many uncertainties and when we get involved in evangelising to others we are also entering a realm of uncertainties….We can’t predict exactly how people will react, we can’t predict exactly what questions people will ask, we can’t predict what exactly will happen every time we share Jesus and His love with someone.  Unfortunately the possibilities of uncertainties often results in people either doing nothing or at best procrastinating for a very long time.   Now we can prepare for some of the possible reactions which helps us respond to some reactions to God’s love, but there will still be some uncertainties because evangelism is about relating to and dealing with humans and not machines.  God gives us some very clear advice in dealing with uncertainties.  “Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Jesus.”  (John 14:1 NLT) and in the reading for Transfiguration Sunday, God says….Don’t be afraid…Listen to Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9).   So this week take the step share something about Jesus with someone….and trust that He is at work. 

Evangelism involves opening your blinds and windows
Stacy and her husband recently caught up with one of their neighbours.   On the first occasion they invited them down to the gardens for a picnic, but they weren’t into that.   However on the second occasion they invited them over to their house for pizza.  
They came over that Saturday night. It was nice to use the TV as a radio, playing some sweet jazz in the background as they talked. Early on in the conversation their neighbours share how great it was to be invited over, because it is great to have some interaction. They had been living there a bit longer than Stacy and her husband, but they shared how this was the first time they actually spoke to any of their neighbours.
Stacy’s neighbours also commented that they actually loved their music, they heard their singing and laughing, and they seemed impacted.  Then their neighbours  told us something amazing. They were excited when Stacy and her husband moved in because they opened their blinds! Stacy not only opens the blinds, but retracts them to bring light into the house and provide a feel of openness in the home. Their neighbours loved it. Not only that, but they said they felt the freedom to start opening their blinds, as every other house in the street seems to keep their blinds closed at all time.
Then as Stacy thought about it more, she could see how this had also impacted her neighbours in their old house. She would keep windows open and play music. Their  neighbours actually loved their music, heard them singing and laughing, and were impacted. They are still friends with that family, and Stacy has had great gospel conversations with them.
Who’d have thought having your blinds and windows open would have such an impact? This is just a small way we as the family of God can start to be missional in our own communities. This is a seemingly insignificant way for you to open up your life to your neighbours so that you can build friendships and share the gospel with them.
Is it that simple? Yes.  

Evangelism involves investing…..
There are 2 essential things that are very helpful for you to be more effective in your evangelism  
Invest:  Evangelism works when it is part of something bigger. An investment of time, energy, money, and conversation.  These are the things that build relationships with others. These are the things that establish trust.  These are the blocks that build a bridge that Jesus can walk over.
As the master evangelist, the Apostle Paul, once wrote, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (1 Th. 2:8) Investing in someone means sharing your life with them, the things about you that matter most.
We all have the ability to do that.  You don’t have to answer the Top 10 objections to the Bible or know what makes Catholics different from Lutherans.  Just invest in people.  Love them.
Invest time into your neighbours.  Help them unpack the moving track.  Have them over for dinner.  Offer to watch their kids so they can have time together.  Make  them a meal for no reason at all.  Intentionally catch up with them for a coffee.  If you’re doing something together...don’t rush to pack up or get going...spend time with them.
Also Invest your prayers into your neighbours.  Ask God to bless them.  Ask God to strengthen you to represent Jesus well.  Ask God to give you his heart for your neighbours. Ask God to open your mouth with an invitation, an offer to pray, or a simple confession of your own faith, just when the time is right.
Investing in people will create opportunities for conversations and doors to share God’s love.

Evangelism involves an evangelism environment
Evangelism is God at work in and through His church…and when God is at work there is an environment where 7 elements are present;
Seven elements that help create a healthy climate for evangelism are:
1. A Warm Evangelistic Atmosphere – evangelism is seen as a priority
2. A Pervasive Spirit of Love – Congregation members go out of their way to love each other and those who are not part of the church
3. A Spirit of Excitement and Expectancy – excited people naturally share how good God is and what God is doing in their lives
4. A Sense of Urgency – people are genuinely concerned for others who are not saved and intentionally share the Good News with them.
5. An Awareness of the Supernatural at Work – people notice God’s supernatural work in their lives and the lives of others
6. A Team Spirit  -  people take seriously that they are called to work and live together as the Body of Christ
7. A Shared Vision  -  there is a vision that is shared and lived out by the congregation

Evangelism involves interacting with a secular society
How should Christians relate to a secular society that does not know Jesus? Paul’s letter to Titus sheds light on this scenario, showing us how God’s grace should motivate Christians to be good citizens and neighbours.   Read Titus 3:1-8
The reality is Christians are a minority in our secular culture, which largely doesn’t honour Jesus. That’s not going to change, but there’s an ongoing debate among Christians about how we approach a secular culture that doesn’t agree with us about Jesus.
As we think about our relationship with our society, it’s important to remember without God we would be far from Him, He saves us through his grace. It’s with this grace in mind that Paul teaches us, through his letter to Titus, how we should respond to a secular society.
Grace encourages us to be good citizens, obey the law, submit to authority, and not cause rebellion, strife, or insurrection, obeying the laws of the land except when they require us to disobey Christ. 
Christians should care about the people living around us both in our church and in our city, and we should be active in working toward the common good. 
Christians shouldn’t speak evil of anyone. We may disagree with someone, but we can still respect them. This is one of the ways we reflect the goodness of God. It’s not that we don’t call out false doctrine, but we do it in a respectful and loving way.
Christians should be courteous to all people. Good manners are very important, because the basic posture of a Christian is that we see others as more important than us. That means we treat them with respect, dignity, and honour.
If we’re going to live out our calling to reflect Christ in our lives and be filled with the Holy Spirit whilst we live in a culture that is toxic, living GRACEFULLY is essential…. 

Evangelism involves allowing everything and every situation to be used for God’s glory
Romans chapter 8 verse 28 says And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
The truth is every situation we face or we are involved in, is a situation to help others see and know about a loving God.   Take some time to think about what this means and to consider what is happening in your life then think about how people can see a loving God through you in these situations.   
• When life is going well, what can you do to help people see and know about our loving God?   
• When life is normal, what can you do to help people see and know about our loving God?  
• When life is tough and difficult, what can you do to help people see and know about our loving God?     
1 Peter chapter 3 verse 15 gives us an insight in how to intentionally glorify God in all situations. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.   

Evangelism involves and is the Proclamation of Jesus Christ!-
Read Acts 8:4-8
One of the most often misquoted and misused quotes when it comes to evangelism is a quote attributed to St Francis, “preach the Gospel all of the time and, when necessary, use words!”  DUMB!  There are at least two problems with this quote.  First it has been taken out of context.   Second the Bible actually says using words are important…God said in Romans 10:14-17, it's through The Word that people are saved.
Listen, good deeds are never a bad thing…but think about this; how can cutting someone’s grass or paying for their coffee be evangelism…unless they are verbally connected to God and His love! The biblical definition of evangelism is when we proclaim Christ.  The Bible says in Acts 8:5 that Phillip proclaimed CHRIST…Acts 4:12 says there is no other name by which we must be saved…I Timothy 2:5 says there is ONE mediator, and we’ve been commissioned and commanded by Jesus with this calling/responsibility! (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:45-48, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, II Corinthians 5:17-21!).  

Evangelism involves your plans and life being disrupted…….
In Acts 8:4-8 Phillip is declaring Christ to the crowds of people, but read a bit further to Acts 8:26, God specifically speaks to his heart and leads him in a different direction.   One of the things we’ve got to do is beg for God to disrupt our plans, our life and our “normal” routines, therefore making ourselves available to do whatever He wants us to do.   If you are living as one of God’s disciples expect your life to be interrupted, for God to take you in a different direction.  If you would like to discover more about this subject pick up the book Just walk across the room by Bill Hybels…

Evangelism involves God preparing the hearts of people
God is preparing the hearts of the people He is prompting us to share Christ with!  Check out Acts 8:27-28. The reason God sent Phillip down this road is that He was working on the heart of a man who desperately needed Him! Please understand that we never know what God may be doing in someone else’s life.  They may portray that they have it all together and they are not interested, but you never know what God is doing in their hearts.  If God is prompting you to share Christ with someone, then He has gone ahead of you and is preparing them as well!

© 2014 Pastor Richard Schwedes.....Congregations, pastors and those involved in ministry are free to use these to encourage others in mission...including as discussion starters, devotions, in bulletins and in church newsletters....acknowledgement is are welcome to contact Pastor Richard Schwedes 

You are never too old (illustration/discussion starter_

You are never too old to be loving and serving, to be sharing the Good News

Advent music, songs, hymns and carols

Advent as the season that leads to Christmas brings anticipation and lament.......following are some links to suggestions for Advent music

Article:  What songs work well in Advent?

The Voice
has compiled a list of hymns and songs including traditional, contemporary and advent songs set to carol tunes

Singing the Lectionary Advent Hymn/Song Suggestions

Oregon Catholic Press Listing of Advent Hymns

St Johns College Choir Advent Carols

ChoralWiki listing of Advent hymns

Pastor Peters of Grace Lutheran Church Advent hymn suggestions

Lutheranhymnal suggestions

Praise and Worship Songs for Advent

Reform Worship traditional and contemporary songs

Lutheran Church of Australia Worship Planning

Advent 1
Advent 2
Advent 3
Advent 4

Word to Worship - Contemporary Music for the Lectionary
Advent 1
Advent 2
Advent 3
Advent 4

Worship Current - Contemporary Songs for Advent

Acoustic Guitar forum - Contemporary Worship Songs for Advent

Song and Praise hymn suggestions

Advent Music on Youtube