Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Advent devotions

Advent devotions available at www.adventdevotions.com

Santa, St Nicholas and Christmas

Every Christmas Santa appears.....
When this happens as Christians we can either retreat or link him to the Christmas story...by knowing the story of St Nicholas

Discover the story at www.stnicholascenter.org

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Bible in 66 verses....

In this day of quick to the point no mucking around society.....
we need tools that help us engage with others...

Here is something that may help you quickly remember and engage with others about the bible...66 verses from the bible...one verse from each book

Visit http://www.lutheranforum.org/blogs/the-bible-in-66-verses/

Basic Christian Teaching

Our Saviour Lutheran Church....Tacoma WA

Offers a Basic Christian Teaching Course...free of charge available online that covers:
What is God like?
Why are there so many different kinds of Christian churches when everybody believes basically the same thing?
Why did Jesus have to die for our sins?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
What happens after I die?
What is faith?
Who is Jesus?
Is the Bible just another book written by dead guys?

Visit the following link for more information

Texts for Confirmation

Looking for texts to use for confirmation certificates....



Monday, November 08, 2010

Christmas Drama: Three Trees

The 3 trees reader theatre gives congegations an opportunity to tell the Christmas story in a refreshing way http://www.instantred.com/weeklyred121303.htm

Connet 09 results in 5% increase in worship attendance

In 2009 the Sydney Anglicans embarked on Connect 09, with the motto Pray, Connect, Expect. This resulted in an increase of worship attendance of 5% for the year.
Stories, resources and other information available at http://connect09.sydneyanglicans.net/ and http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/ministry/connect09

Faith Basics course: notes and audio

The mission of St Thomas Lutheran Church (LCMS) offers a materials for a faith basics course...notes and audio are available for download at

An easy way to make short animated movies

If you can type there is an easy way to make animated movies using http://www.xtranormal.com
This could be ideal for a short script...to introduce a topic...or even a bible reading

New Confirmation from Sparkhouse (ELCA): ReForm

Sparkhouse has developed a new confirmation program.....
Here's what they say about it....

We wanted to create something that was engaging for teenagers, but not cheesy. (We love cheese…on crackers, not so much in our churches.) We know that youth today are fully capable of grappling with issues of faith and theology, so we wanted our curriculum to give them room for a good wrestling match. And, of course, we want to help youth leaders any way we can. That’s why we developed a curriculum that lets you lead an interactive confirmation class without a ton of extra work on your end. (You’re welcome!)

So what exactly is re:form confirmation? In three simple words, it’s a way for teens to:

In more words, that are slightly less simple: re:form is a curriculum comprised of three main components:

•Two DVDs with 40 hilarious animated short films that allow kids to encounter concepts from the historic Christian faith. These videos are designed not only to make kids think, but also to make them laugh. (Yes, we encourage laughter…especially in confirmation class!) You can watch some of our preview videos for re:form confirmation here. Be warned: you might laugh, too.
•The Anti-Workbook, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s not a fill-in-the-blank, there’s-only-one-answer kind of workbook. In fact, it’s the opposite of that. It’s a place where kids can do activities that get them interacting with each other, and it’s a kind of journal to help them explore tough theological questions in creative ways. Whether they’re drawing, cutting and pasting, writing, or just thinking, the Anti-Workbook inspires kids to go a little deeper with their faith and theology.

•The Leader Guide, which will make you look like a superstar by providing the tools you need to help kids respond. You’ll help facilitate conversations—genuine conversations about what they think…not what you want them to think. Instead of giving them answers (which, let’s face it, a lot of us don’t really have nailed down anyway!), they’ll explore their faith and come to understand what they believe for themselves.
So there you have it. A brief (sort of) look at re:form confirmation.

For more information visit here

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lutheran and Christian euthanasia discussion and resources

The topic of Euthanasia pops up in the media and in political circles.

Originally euthanasia simply meant 'good death', however the term currently is understood by many to mean 'a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering' (House of Lords select committee on Medical ethics).

The topic is emotional, because a person's suffering is often the reason given for supporting euthanasia.
There is also confusion on what is euthanasia and what is not euthanasia, eg. withdrawing life support from a person, is not considered euthanasia.

Following are some resources to help you and others understand the euthanasia debate and discussion
Lutheran Church of Australia CTICR statement
Lutheran Church of Australia CSBQ discussion paper
Various articles and teachings from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
Death and dieing: a social statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Ethics and suffering from healing to relief by Dr Richard C Eyer Concordia University Mequon
Lutheran's for life (usa) resources and links
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church

Statements from various religious bodies relating to Euthanasia
Christian views on Euthanasia and suicide
Religious facts: Euthanasia and Christianity
Christian Life Resources

A summary of the debate from the editor of The Australian

if you wish to suggest any other resources please leave a comment or email me

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Evangelism Reflection: Evangelism is about serving in ways so others know Jesus

Something that strikes me as I read the scriptures is that whilst God selects individuals for specific roles, everyone lives out their roles in collaboration with others. That is how the Body of Christ works. Living as a Christian is never an individual only experience, it involves us relating to others, working with others and supporting each other so people get to see and experience what God is about.
And over the last 12 months, I have really appreciated how willingly a majority of people in our congregation are prepared to serve others both in the church and in the wider community through the various opportunities that exist through our congregation.
A congregation our size needs a system in place to help us co-ordinate our service.
One way we aim to help people discover and take advantage of the opportunities that exist through our congregation is through the Talents and Gifts survey which we distributed last week. This is a very helpful way for us to quickly capture where you are interested in serving with others and where we need to encourage others to fulfil the various roles in our congregation. Serving in our congregation is not simply putting your hand up to fill a position, rather as Christians our service should take on an evangelistic emphasis. This occurs when:
• We ask the question, ‘how can I make what I do and say help others know more about Jesus?’
• Our attitude for serving is to glorify God and encourage others to develop a relationship with God and other Christians. Put this in contrast to someone who serves because they want others to see how good they are, they wish to exert some power or they want something for themselves or things done their way.
• We recognise that we are part of a team, and that we contribute to the direction that the congregation needs to move and has agreed to move.
• We consider how best we can help others to hear and experience God’s Good News, even if this differs to what helps us.
• We serve because others need it, not because we have the desire, all the skills, all the wisdom or all the talent, instead relying on God’s strength and seek his guidance and training as we serve.

Please keep exploring how you can be evangelistic in everything you do, because as we do we will change the lives of the people in our congregation and in the wider community, because God is working through us.
PS. If you haven’t already done so please get your Gifts and Talents Surveys in this week as our nominations team and team leaders will use these surveys to help them in their roles in co-ordinating service in our congregation.

Evangelism Reflection: Evangelism is about using your directory for mission

Our directory is not meant to be an exclusive list, but rather a list of people who have had contact with our congregation at some stage and people God is calling us to continually care for.
As a result some have commented we haven’t see this person or that person for years. Others have questioned, why is such and such in the directory? Such responses to directories are not uncommon, especially if we see the directory as an exclusive listing of select few, and we want to‘tidy up’ the list quickly.
However there are other ways to view the directory, that may help us be more mission orientated.

Think about the directory as not just a listing of members or those who we have a very close relationship. Consider it as a listing of people who have connected to God’s family through us at some stage. They maybe still connected to God’s family or they may be a lot further away now
and need some encouragement.
If you find yourself asking the question why is such and such people in the directory? Maybe that question is God prompting you, saying hey these people haven’t been around for some time…but rather than forgetting about them maybe God is also saying, ‘How about you contact them?’
When you see the name of someone who you haven't seen around for awhile maybe God is prompting you to make some contact with that person or family, to see how they are going, to encourage them, to invite them around for a chat, to even invite them to church or a small group.
As you read through the directory you may notice that some of the people have moved, are worshipping elsewhere, changed phone numbers or their relationship has changed. One of our responsibilities is to care for each other, so please let the office know if you are aware of any
changes, not only in your own family but also other families so Pastor Richard and the Pastoral Assistants can follow them up, our records updated and we can provide the care God calls us to provide.
As you look through the directory, pray for people you see in the directory, give them a call and encourage them.
Remember our church directory can be a valuable tool to sharing God’s love, caring for each other and helping us engage with each other spiritually and physically.

Evangelism Reflection: Evangelism is about God's kingdom is not just some future dream but that God's kingdom is here with us now!!!

Often we will talk about God’s kingdom as some future thing, that God will lead us to, and we have to wait for it. Yet Jesus says in Luke 17:20-21, the kingdom of God is among us now. It is not a future thing, but it is something we begin to be part of right now.
Other parts of scripture encourage us to think of God’s kingdom not just as some place, but a new reality, a Godly way to live.
Throughout His life Jesus spoke about and showed us how to live as part of God’s kingdom. This involved living a life that is built on developing and encouraging relationships, that is the basis of the Greatest commandment, our life is about loving God and loving others. This influences how we see our work, hobbies, family and everything else we are involved in. A good question to ask is how can I do what I do and live how I live, in ways that love God and love others. Take some time this week to think about this, jot down some of your thoughts and then think about how you can put these things into action. When God is guiding us we are beginning to live in His kingdom.
In Luke we discover some other thoughts about living in God’s kingdom:
• Small good deeds make a difference (Luke 13:18-21)
• The marginalised and forgotten are honoured and respected (Luke 14:15-24)
• God can always find even the person who we believe is so lost (Luke 15:3-10)
• Everyone including little ones God welcomes into His kingdom (Luke 18:15-17)
• God’s works through many people to transform the world (Luke 10:1-20)
• When we open up our lives there is more than enough to go around (Luke 9:10-17)

Living in God’s kingdom is a call that we see God active through what we do and when other’s serve us. Our work, leisure, family and social lives are all opportunities for us to not only see God’s kingdom, but to be participants in His kingdom. And when this is happening people are getting a small insight into what heaven will be like.

Action Time:
Think about how your work, social, family and leisure life can reflect a focus of you loving God and you loving others.
What changes do you need to begin making so your life is about being part of God’s kingdom and others see God at work in your life?
Thank everyone who serves you and thank God for their service.

Evangelism Reflection: Evangelism is about being God's witness to four types of people

In Acts 1:8 we read:
“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."
God prepares you to be His witness from the very moment you were baptised, when He promised you His Holy Spirit, and He continues to fill you with His Spirit every time you read His word and when you ask for His Spirit in your prayers. It is God’s Spirit that empowers us to be His witnesses to people in four different situations.

  • People in your vicinity of the same cultural background (Jerusalem).
  • People further away from you of the same cultural background. (Judea)
  • People near you from a different cultural background. (Samaria)
  • People far from you of a different cultural background. (ends of the Earth)

Action Time
1. Right down people that come to mind from each of the four areas.
2. Pray about them and that God reveals to you how you can reach out to them.
3. Use God’s Spirit to reach out to them and be His witness to them.
4. Continue to pray and witness to them.

Back to Church Sunday

Back to church sunday is an initiative of churches in UK, Australia and USA.

Visit the following web sites to gain further information

One of the great things is that encourages people to invite others, especially the lapsed to church.

Advent Resources

Bethlehem Lutheran Church Adelaide

Billabong Worship Resources

The Voice

Anglicans online

Online Advent Calendar: 25 things to do leading up to Christmas

Catholic Mom
Family Activities, Car Chat, Blessing of an Advent Wreath, Blessing of a Christmas Tree, Christian Christmas Coloring Pictures, Printable Advent Chain, Advent Lesson Plan, Advent Wreath File Folder Game, Advent Wreath Game Board, Advent Wreath Cards Younger, Advent Wreath Coloring Sheet, Advent Wreath Directions, Advent Wreath Directions Younger, Advent Wreath Question Cards, Jesse Tree, Make Your Own Nativity, Advent True or False Game and more

Advent ideas for Youth

5 Great ideas for Advent

Emerging Church Advent ideas from Jonny Baker

Textweek: Church Year site

Lift up your hearts worship resources

Ignatian Spirituality Advent Resources

Advent Boxes: Ringwood-Knox Lutheran parish

Christmas in cyberspace

Lutheran Hour Ministries: Online Devotions

Church Year Advent Resources

Richard Fairchild: KirShalom Advent Resources

Worship Well Advent Resources

Please feel free to share your Advent resources to me @ richard.schwedes@lca.org.au

Lutheranism 101

Lutheranism 101
is both a book and website

Lutheranism 101 examines Lutheran beliefs and heritage in a fresh way. If you are a lifelong Lutheran searching for more information or new to Lutheranism looking to understand what we believe, this book will be your guide. It is written in an easy-to-read conversational style with short articles, side-bar features, and some humor. Lutheranism 101 helps create a solid foundation of reference upon which a lifetime of sound teaching can be built.

Explore the basics of Lutheran theology by digging into the history of Lutheranism and making connections between what Lutherans believe and what Lutherans do.

What you'll learn about:
•God and His Son
•Faith and Belief
•Heaven and Hell
•Church and Fellowship
•Sin and Forgiveness
•and much more!

Lutheranism 101 is designed to give you a quick, usable, and comprehensive overview of Lutheran faith and practice. While we have tried not to grind any axes, we would be less than living, breathing human beings if we told you that what you have here is totally impartial and neutral. First, we must acknowledge that we are writing about Lutheranism from an American perspective. So in discussions of customs, history, and missions, Lutherans in other parts of the world (and there are many!) will have a different perspective. We are also writing from within a tradition in the Lutheran Church that is identified as orthodox and confessional. The term orthodox simply means correct or right belief. The term confessional has come to mean different things to different people, but at its heart these two terms signify those who model what they believe, teach, and confess on God’s Word and the historic teachings (Confessions) of the Lutheran Church as they are contained in the Book of Concord. Finally, we have to acknowledge that Lutheranism 101 does not cover the entire length and breadth of our subject. However, it is a good place to start your exploration of Lutheran belief and practice.

Lutheran Music: hymnal web site

Lutheran Music offers:

The goal of Lutheran Music is to provide God-pleasing worship resources for musicians, pastors, teachers, families and congregations. We offer sheet music, concordances, lyrics files (text, PowerPoint), sound files (midi, MP3), flash videos, audio CDs and video DVDs as supplements to the commonly-used Lutheran hymnals.

Christian Worship [CW] - Northwestern Publishing House, 1993 (WELS)
Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary [ELH] - MorningStar Music, 1996 (ELS)
Evangelical Lutheran Worship [ELW] - Augsburg Fortress, 2006 (ELCA)
Lutheran Book of Worship [LBW] - Augsburg Publishing House, 1978 (ELCA)
Lutheran Service Book [LSB] - Concordia Publishing House, 2006 (LCMS)
Lutheran Worship [LW] - Concordia Publishing House, 1982 (LCMS)
The Lutheran Hymnal [TLH] - Concordia Publishing, 1941


Sermon Illustrations


Sermon illustrator
Over 5900 illustrations

More Illustrations

Sermon Illustration Library
The Sermon Illustration Library is a community-driven library that organizes illustrations by a label system. Many times, a particular illustration is applicable to more than one topic. Not only that, but one person might think of an illustration as relating to one topic, while someone else might have an entirely different take on it.

Sermon Ideas

Elbourne illustration data base

Higher Praise

Fresh Worship: Creative worship ideas for traditional churches

What is Fresh Worship?
Howard Vanderwell, Resource Development Specialist for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, says people come looking for two things in worship: stability and freshness. People need stability in worship so that every week there are things that are familiar. And yet people also need freshness, so that everything is not always the same week after week.

Most traditional churches do a good job with stability. What we need help with is freshness. How to do you say things in a little different way or use art or drama or video to bring God’s story alive? How do you find those resources?

The Fresh Worship blog is a place to come for those resources. It’s a place to ask questions, to jog your imagination, and to share what has worked for you.

Some recent entries include:
■How I Design a Creative Worship Service
■Creative Worship Ideas: The Lord’s Prayer
■Why I Need the Resurrection
■Creative Worship Ideas: Good Friday
■Children’s Artwork
■Planning Ahead for Lent, Palm Sunday, and Easter
■Creative Worship Ideas: Ash Wednesday
■Using a Song as the Focus of Worship
■Advent Prayer Stations


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

CPH Christmas program 2010: God's love at Christmas

CPH have released their Christmas program: God's love at Christmas

Based on the much-loved hymn, "God Loves Me Dearly," this service helps children share God's love for us through readings and songs.

Four parts of the God's Love at Christmas theme are developed through the program:

  • God Loved Me by Making a Promise
  • God Loved Me by Sending Jesus
  • God Loved Me by Dying and Rising for Me
  • God Loves Me by Giving Me Life Forever

The program is built around the familiar account of the Christmas story found in Luke, and features brand new recordings of favorite hymns such as "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," "Away in a Manger," "Angels We Have Heard on High," and others.

The complete planning CD-ROM contains two Christmas programs, one for Preschool through 8th grade, and another especially for Early Childhood.

The CD contains the following items:
1. Rehearsal recordings of hymns, songs and liturgy
2. Children's Worship Service Director Guide
3. Teacher copy of Children's Morning Worship Service
4. Teacher copy of Children's Evening Worship Service
5. Congregation copy of Children's Morning Worship Service
6. Congregation copy of Children's Evening Worship Service
7. Early Childhood Program Director Guide
8. Teacher copy of Early Childhood Program
9. Audience copy of Early Childhood Program
10. Individual reading scripts for Worship Service and Early Childhood Program
11. Clip art patterns
12. Song lyrics
13. Music texts and scores for children's songs

Visit: http://www.cph.org/p-17373-gods-love-at-christmas-childrens-christmas-program-cd.aspx to preview and to find out more information

Free Stewardship Resources from Sola Publishing

Based on Luther's Love, Serve, Praise and Obey Sola Publishing is offering free resources to assist congregations in teaching and growing stewardship in their congregation.
Resourcs include:
a. Color Theme Poster
b. Bulletin Insert-Devotional
c. Children's Story Page
d. Giving Plan Card
e. Sample: Time and Abilities Sheet

Go to http://solapublishing.blogspot.com/p/stewardship.html for more information

Awakening Lutherans for World Mission

Awakening Lutherans for World Mission
Why they exist?
“Missions Mobilization” has been a popular and much needed movement in the evangelical world the past 35-40 years. The principles and passion undergirding this movement have not penetrated the Lutheran Church and other mainline Protestant denominations in any significant way, with the exception of our Baptist brethren. Awakening Lutherans to World Missions is a new ministry that is taking these Biblical principles and evangelical passion to Lutherans, as well as other mainline denominations. The congregational infrastructure that facilitates other ministries in the local church – from children and youth ministry, to women’s and men’s ministry, to music ministry and much more – is missing in many Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Episcopal congregations. There are few things that happen “by accident” at the congregational level – whether it is planning for worship services, VBS or anything else you can imagine. Is it any wonder that there has been a decline in world missions? The current norm has become accepted by many as the only way – world missions is the domain of leaders at the national, denominational level, or at best independent mission agencies. Yet, all the while, Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples of all nations” often remains ignored in meaningful, practical ways. ALWM exists to reverse this decline by challenging and equipping congregations to become actively obedient to the Great Commission. Through resources, seminars, consultation and coaching, ALWM staff will help you and your leaders build a solid, Biblical and vibrant world missions program that will make a difference for the “nations” as well as in your congregation.
Visit http://www.alwm.org/ to discover how to mobilise your church, to discover resources and ides

Life By His Word: Bible Study 1500 lesson for $299

God’s Word is our source for life.
Through deeper study of each book in the Bible, we see the big picture of Scripture from creation through the redemption of Jesus Christ. If you crave more intentional, comprehensive study of all of the Bible, you will appreciate Life by His Word. Whether you are new to the church, a life-long member, part of a small group, or studying on your own, the studies included will connect you with the full story of God’s work in your life and lead you to see His promises anew.

What does Life by His word provide for you?
A comprehensive study of God’s Word.
Lessons are drawn from The Lutheran Study Bible and enhance the faith life of your church family. Connection to the timeless conversation that has been unfolding within and around God’s Word throughout the centuries.

What is it?
This Bible study on CD-ROM covers every book and chapter of the Bible. With more than 1,500 individual study lessons [that's less than 20 cents for each lesson], this Bible study provides discussion questions, application, and summary insights for The Lutheran Study Bible. Every chapter and every book are explored, offering a rich and full approach to study and devotion. One-page lessons are ideal for group study, adaptable for time and by age group.
The CD-ROM includes teaching materials and student materials in two formats: PDF to print directly and RFT for customization.

“With Life by His Word, the pastor has a Bible study for any hot topic that comes up in the news,“ says Rev. Edward Engelbrecht, general editor of The Lutheran Study Bible. “Just think about the chapter of Scripture that addresses the topic, find the chapter study in Life by His Word, and you’re good to go.”


Confirmation Builder

CPH has introduced Confirmation Builder
A program that allows you to build and customise confirmation for your local congregation.

Confirmation Builder is a collection of resources for confirmation instructors that provides a framework for presenting students the basics of Christian doctrine.
Each of the 33 customizable lessons uses the Bible and Luther’s Small Catechism as the main texts, and includes background reading, devotional information, PowerPoint® presentations, discussion questions and activities that can be used as a basic curriculum, or to supplement your current course. Assessment tools are also included.
Confirmation Builder is a dynamic resource that will have additional resources added as they become available.Confirmation Builder is offered as an annual subscription. Pricing is based upon your congregation’s average weekly worship attendance.

Visit www.confirmationbuilder.com to discover how it works, pricing and the resources available

Contemporary Band: Playing only the Psalms

Sons of Korah play only the Psalms
They write contemporary music to the words of the Psalms...
For more information visit http://www.sonsofkorah.com/

A thought: Bible references are essential for mission and evangelism

As Lutherans we seem to have had and still have a lot to say.
In our current climate some of this written material is very helpful, some not so helpful.
Recently when I considered this I realised that the material I am finding more helpful in engaging others is material that have clear references to scripture, and the material I am often questioning or is not so helpful in engaging with others is where there are few scripture references or the references aren't that clear or well explained.
Put simply church material without clear scripture references is seen as nothing more than personal opinion by others for a particular place and time.

And as a church that says we live by God's Word surely, what we say should be supported by God's Word.....

A Lutheran theses on Evangelism

A Lutheran Theology of Evangelism, Some Theses (Hope Lutheran Church Aurora CO)

It a common misconception that "Lutherans don't do Evangelism". This is not true. What is true is that when Lutheran go about the business of evangelism, they often abandon their Lutheran doctrine. These theses are an attempt to begin with our Lutheran theology and paint a picture of what Evangelism is and is not. Your feed back is welcome. -Pastor Wolfmueller

  1. The Scriptures rightly understood give all glory to God and all comfort to terrified consciences. False doctrine does the opposite, either taking glory from God or comfort from the conscience, or both.
  2. Natural man is blind, dead, and an enemy of God (Anthropology, Original Sin), and therefore cannot cooperate with God in conversion. It must be stated plainly that the will of man plays no part in conversion. Therefore all attempts to induce an emotional response for God (and other such revival shenanigans) will be carefully avoided. Never would an unbeliever be told that he must “accept Jesus” or “receive Him” or “open his heart” or “pray a prayer.” Such things are impossible. Any discussion of evangelism that speaks or implies man's cooperation takes glory from God and robs consciences of comfort.
  3. Morover, A natural man is hostile to God (Original Sin again). Therefore the Lutheran church expects persecution of the Lord's Word and His people.
  4. God alone redeems, justifies and converts sinful man (Monergism). Because conversion is God's work, we should pay attention to how He does it (rather than making stuff up).
  5. The Holy Spirit creates faith (Sanctification in the broad sense, the Third Article of the Creed). The Lutheran Church therefore lives in the confidence of faith, knowing that the coming of the Lord's kingdom depends not on her own efforts, but on the free work of the Holy Spirit. The evangelism efforts of the Lord's church begin with prayer to God who desires all to be saved, and trusts that He hears and answers this prayer.
  6. And more, the Holy Spirit creates faith “when and where it pleases Him”, not when it pleases us. This means, among other things, that it is impossible to judge mission faithfulness through numbers.
  7. The Holy Spirit uses means to convert man (what we often call “the means of grace”, but what our confessions call “the means of the Spirit”). The means of the Spirit is the word of God, through which He shows our sin (Law) and promises forgiveness (Gospel). There are no other means of the Spirit, there are therefore no other means of evangelism.
  8. Correspondingly, repentance embraces two parts: contrition and faith. Both contrition and faith are the works of the Holy Spirit, meaning that man is passive in this work of the Holy Spirit. (“Repent” is a command kept only by the work of the Holy Spirit.) The distinction between law and Gospel is at the heart of everything the church does, says, etc. We can judge mission faithfulness on the Gospel rightly preached and the sacrament rightly administered. Any wrongly divided law and Gospel is not properly the work of Evangelism.
  9. Furthermore, the proper distinction between law and Gospel is a personal and individual distinction. As Luther taught us, the Law is for the proud and puffed-up, the Gospel for the despairing. This means that evangelism cannot be programmatic or scripted, but that the conversation between the church and the unbeliever will include listening and an attempt to discern the condition of the person to apply the proper word of God at the proper time.
  10. Even furthermore, this means that “Evangelism Training” will be nothing more than continued study and meditation on the proper distinction between law and Gospel.
  11. The Word of God, being the means of the Holy Spirit in creating faith in the heart of sinful man, is effective. It is a false and dangerous tendency to treat the Word of God as mere information that only has benefit when accepted and acted upon (as is the case with American Evangelicalism). The Gospel is the authoritative declaration of sins forgiven (Absolution). In fact, the central act of Evangelism is not asking the unbeliever to come to Jesus, but rather, in the name of Jesus, forgiving their sins. Evangelism is the Church speaking the Absolution to the World.
  12. Through the Sacraments, as through the Word, the Holy Spirit creates and sustains faith. The Lutheran Church therefore recognizes the central role of baptism in the evangelism of the world. It is impossible to talk about evangelism Biblically without speaking about the Lord's gift of baptism.
  13. The means of grace are resistible. Therefore the Church expects rejection. Furthermore, the Lutheran church resists the temptation to look for “more efficient means” of evangelism, as if we could find something less resistible than the divinely appointed means.
  14. A Christian is still a sinner in need of the Lord's mercy. Therefore the church, knowing her own sin and the superabundant grace of God, gladly welcomes sinners into her midst to hear of the Lord's love and mercy. A church/congregation without this hospitality has lost her first love.

Open Bible Info: Internet information about the bible and what's in it.

offers a range of information including
Locations mentioned in the Bible....mapped using Google maps
A Bible atlas including photos
over 10000 photos of places referred to in the bible
Topical Bible search
Real Time Bible search; what people are saying about whats in the bible on Twitter and Facebook
LAB: Book Browser, Word Locators, Flicr photo links, Bible Sentence paths, popularity of various bible versions based on internet use, personality profiles of English bible translations,
bible cross referencing

Visit Open Bible at www.openbible.info/

Text to ponder: Acts 4:33

Sharing the Good News also has a positive effect on us.....
There is a saying amongst teachers/trainers if you want to know more about something then teach it.
Read Acts 4:33
NIV says: With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.
TNIV says: With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all.
ESV says: And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
NET Bible says: With 1great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on them all.
NRSV says: With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

In short as we share Good's Great News God's grace comes on us...
Why do you think this is so?
What do you think it means?

Surely this is a fantastic reminder that sharing God's Good News is not only a way for others to experience God's grace, but also ourselves as we share it.
What do you think?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Complete Bible Overview: Enter the Bible

At enter the Bible you’ll find a wealth of resources to help you grow in your faith, add depth to your Bible studies and truly discover the people, places and events of the Bible. Think of Enter the Bible as your guide, a helpful reference tool to accompany you in your reading of the Bible.

For each book of the bible there is:
  • a summary
  • an outline
  • background information
  • Theological themes
  • Introductory Issues
  • Resources relating to specific passages
  • Further information on people mentioned in that book
  • Further information on places mentioned in that book
  • Images
  • Maps
  • Videos

There is also a time line overview and a study program

Visit www.enterthebible.org

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Evangelism Reflections: Dealing with our fears of witnessing

Probably the single greatest deterrent to personal and informal sharing of the Gospel is fear. Fear is the single biggest factor that stops people sharing the Good News about Jesus with others, especially those they have a close relationship with.
The fears we commonly face are:
The fear of rejection. We can be worried about someone saying NO not only to Jesus, but also to us.
The fear of being inadequate. We maybe worried that we won’t be able to answer a question
The fear of being ridiculed. At times we maybe worried about being put down, mocked or told we are weird.
These fears are real and experienced by most Christians. Fears tempt us to give up. However we don’t need to allow our fears to prevent us from moving forward in being witnesses for God. The starting point in dealing with our fears is to rely on God and the help he provides. St Paul writes, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). So begin by relying on what God has given us through His word and His Christian community.

We can also desensitize ourselves to the fears. This means although our fears maybe uncomfortable and they are present we take less notice of them and more notice of what God is calling us to do and be, and not allow them to stop us from talking about Jesus.

We also should examine our fears rationally. Ask your self some basic questions like;
‘What is the worst thing that some could do to me in reaction to my witness?
Is the discomfort really a problem?
How does God react to me witnessing?
What are the positive things that occur when we share Jesus love with others?’

Turning our fears into an adventure. Praying for someone, sharing what God has done, is doing and will do and the affect he has on your life, developing a relationship with someone and then watching what God does with your efforts, may not turn out as you vision, but it is likely to have a positive affect on yourself and others. Having the attitude of lets see what God does with what we do, often leads to very rewarding results.

Inadequacy is nothing to fear. In Luke 21:12-15, Jesus reminds us that even when faced with hostility we should not have to worry what to say because He himself will give us the words to say. We don’t have to know everything, in fact a simply response when we are stuck for a response is say, lets discover this together. Then go on an adventure together.

Dispel fear with love. Allow your love for God and those you know who are lost to worry more about them than you do yourself. 1 John 4:18-19 we are told There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. We love because he loved us first. Love has the ability to put our fears in their place. Some years ago there was the story of a car that had burst into flames with a number of passengers. All escaped but one elderly woman. Most of the people who saw the crash we petrified to do anything fearing the flames. One young man rushed through the crowd and the flames pulled the woman from the flames risking injury. He was asked, “why did you do this? Weren’t you afraid about being burnt?” His reply was: “Of course I was afraid, but I couldn’t just stand there and watch her die.” As Christians focussing not on our fears but our love for others and God, will help us be active witnesses even when fears exist.

Action time:
Create at least 2 opportunities for witnessing. Think about at least 2 people you can share God’s love with.
Study your fear reactions. Which fears were the most prominent?
Apply the suggestions in dealing with fears. How do these suggestions affect your feelings?
Attempt a simple witness. Note your reaction and the reaction from others.

Adapted from the book, 'How to share Christ confidently' available at
http://word.com.au/details.aspx?ProductID=576528 and

Evangelism Reflection: Giving a reason for hope

Much of Western Christianity is orientated around the question, “How may I be saved?” but is this the question your friends and family are asking? Some may be, but many are probably asking questions like, why bother being a church member? Why bother spending time and money on this Christian stuff?
Now being saved is important, but in order to build a relationship with people and enter into conversations that talk about faith, we need to look and talk about the questions people are asking and thinking. In the following article Steen Olsen the LCA’s Mission Director in SA and NT, responds to the question why am I a Christian, a question someone may be
thinking if they haven’t asked you.

Sometimes I am asked why I am a Christian who is a part of a Church.
There are many reasons. For example, I know that I was created to be in
relationships with others. I need to know I am loved unconditionally (in
spite of my faults), that I am valued as the person I know I am, and that my
life has direction and impact. When I have tried to get my sense of
security, self-worth and significance from my friends they end up
disappointing me and I feel alienated. More often than not these desires
within me weaken and sometimes destroy my relationships because I
become a user of others trying to get them to meet my needs. It is only in
my relationship with God that I get these deep needs met, because God
loves me unconditionally – no matter what I do he never stops loving me.
He values me so much that he sent his Son to die for me. He has given me
gifts and abilities that equip me to make a unique contribution to his plans
for the universe – what we do makes an eternal difference. In this way,
God is setting me free from my self-centredness and giving me the
personal security to enable me to be a true friend to others. When I have
my needs for security, self-worth and significance met by God, I no longer
need to demand them from others. I can be open and vulnerable. I can
be a friend.
So what questions are people asking you? Listen to how they respond to
when you say you are a Christian, why you go to church, then explore
ways to respond.
Those who are not part of a Church often have no idea of what it is like to
be a member of Church. And what they think they know is often negative.
Dan Kimball interviewed many young non-Christians for his book They Like
Jesus but not the Church [Zondervan, 2007]. After she became a Christian,
Molly is quoted as saying, I wish I would have known earlier that not all
Christians are such jerks. I had no idea. Maybe I would have believed in
Jesus earlier.

Evangelism Reflection: Stewardship is about using God's resources for mission

Psalm 24 begins The Lord owns the earth and all it contains, the world and all who live in it. Some people mistakenly seem to think that this means we must not use anything God has given us. Yet other parts of scripture reveal to us that what God has given us, He wants us to use for His purposes of making and growing disciples, which involves being generous in sharing His love.
1 Peter 4:10 says Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as
good stewards of the varied grace of God.
This fortnight I encourage you to assess how you are using your time,
talents and wealth.
Are you approaching work, your family responsibilities and volunteer roles as you being involved in serving others and serving God, so others may know God’s love?
Are you using your resources to touch base with others and help others?
Is giving to our local congregation a priority for you? By contributing a portion or tithe of your income each week to the local congregation, you are contributing to God’s work here in
Portland and Heywood. (Do you realise our local congregation’s involvement in ministry and mission depends on members giving regularly?)

Evangelism Reflection: We are connecting and relating to people differently

One of the truths about God is that His love for us never changes…(check out Jeremiah 31:3. However the way He interacts with people and how He demonstrates this love does change.
This is important for us to keep in mind, because in the past Lutheran congregations generally relied on the families to sustain and grow the church. The equation generally worked as follows; people had children, children remained in the area, they became members and the church grew. But this is not the reality now. Think about how many adult children of our members are involved in our congregation. The reality is a lot less than there used to be, some people have rejected God’s vehicle the church, others have moved away geographically, some have moved to other congregations. Think about the consequences of this. I realise this situation hurts many people and we should never give up on highlighting God’s love to those who have strayed. However this situation also helps us see that as part of God’s community we exist for the entire Portland-Heywood community not just one section of our community. The challenge for you and me is to consider; what do we need to do as individuals and as a congregation to help people connect to God and His church community that appears in our congregation? Then do it!!!
And remember this is likely to be different then some years ago.

Evangelism Reflection: Evangelism is about being deeply immersed in prayer

Evangelism is about being deeply immersed in prayer. An ancient preacher Chrysostom once said prayer "is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings." The reality is it is through prayer we submit our thanks, thoughts and ideas to God. Then as we go about our lives, God reveals His answers and He also provides us with strength to be His witnesses in the various situations we encounter.

This fortnight we have an opportunity to join with other Christians in praying
prayers that are focused on being God’s witness;
• Witnessing through celebrating life
• Witnessing through sharing stories
• Witnessing through being aware
• Witnessing through celebrating the faith we have received
• Witnessing through suffering
• Witnessing through faithfulness
• Witnessing through hope and trust
• Witnessing through hospitality
(For further resources relating to the above visit http://www.ncca.org.au/departments/faith-unity/wopcu)
In your prayers this week, commit some time praying to God about the various areas and situations in which we are called to witness. Also think about the situations you are facing and place these before God asking Him to reveal to you how you can be His witness.
For one week, Christians around the world are being called to focus their prayers into the areas of witnessing.

Evangelism Reflections: 3 Critical Areas of people growing

What is the Year of Evangelism about…..?
It is about you and me being involved in three critical areas of
people growing in a relationship with Jesus and other Christians.

The first is Reaching Out to those who see Christ as a stranger and to
those we see as strangers. This means even though we may we know
someone well, they may still be a stranger to Christ. A constant
activity of a Christian is to be reaching out, to invite, to welcome, to
encourage them to know others.
Questions for you:
• Are you seeing people as strangers?
• Are you inviting them to your home?
• Are you inviting them to connect to a gathering of our church?
• Are you inviting them to worship?

The second is we are to preach, teach, live and enact an obvious
Christian message. A message where following Jesus, and grace
Questions for you:
• What messages about Christ are people seeing through what you
say and do?
• How can you be more obvious about Christ amongst those
people you are interacting with?

The third is that we are involved in intentionally building community.
It is through Christians interacting together with a focus on God that
they grow, that they learn and develop what it means to be truly
Christian. Such a community is shaped by worship, a commitment to
discipleship, Small Groups, Christian formation and vocation which
are rooted in the teachings and practices of the church that go
back through history to Jesus and His disciples.
Questions for you:
• How are you encouraging and discouraging people to connect
to the Christian community?
• What does it mean for you to be involved in intentionally building
• In what ways do you need help in being involved in building

Lutheran Student Fellowship Victoria Sermons and Bible Studies online

The Lutheran Student fellowship (tertiary students) has available mp3s and pdfs of sermons from their Sunday Nights at St Johns Worship services and Bible Studies at: http://www.lsf.org.au/vic/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=60&Itemid=58

Sermon Topics include:

Deliver us from Evil : Jesus heals and delivers a demonised man
Luke 8:26-39

Deliver us from evil sermon: A tale of two sinners (probably more)
Luke 7:36-8:3

Arise! : Jesus and the widow's son at Nain.
Luke 7:11-17

The Holy Trinity and the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit bible study
I believe in the Holy Spirit...don't I?

They'll never take our freedom! : Acts 16:16-34

Get up and walk: John 5:1-15

"Know why you believe" sermon series and bible studies

Resurrection bible study

Authority of scripture
Authority of Scripture bible study

Salvation and Forgiveness
Salvation, sacrifice and forgiveness bible study

Creation bible study

"Prayer" sermon series
Part 1: A matter of the heart
Part 2: Prayer = helplessness + faith
Part 3: Prayer is hard work!

"Set free from stuff" sermon series
Part 1: The Big Issue #2: God vs Stuff
Part 2: Sabbath
Part 3: Justice
Part 4: Service
Part 5: Generosity

Free Book Preaching and the Emerging Church

Preaching and the Emerging Church
The emerging church movement has significantly influenced contemporary Christianity. Evidence abounds—the creation of blogs, conferences, seminary classes, doctorate programs, and the birth of an entire class of literature. In recent years much has been written to help the church better understand this latest Christian phenomenon. However, a deficiency still exists when it comes to understanding the role of preaching within the movement. Since preaching is God’s appointed means to convert sinners and preserve the church, then an understanding of this movement’s preaching is of vital importance to the church and the culture it serves.

This book looks at the preaching approaches of 4 pastors who have had significant influence in the emerging church movement.

visit http://theresurgence.com/preaching-and-the-emerging-church to obtain a free pdf copy

Free Videos for discussion startes

Cross Polination Ministries, led by a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod graduate offers a range of sort You tube videos as discussion starters.

To view these videos visit: http://www.cpmin.net/CrossPollination_Ministries/Welcome.html

Article: Missionary Churches-Navigating in a Post Modern World

The Lutheran Witness Magazine, a magazine of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod published the following article:

Missionary Churches - Navigating in a Post Modern World
Imagine trying to drive in Chicago with a street map of San Francisco. You probably can’t. While both cities are edged by water and have lots of tall buildings, they are nothing alike. Though they share names for several streets, trying to drive in the one with the map of the other would prove frustrating. No matter how hard you tried, you simply wouldn’t get anywhere. Confused and exasperated, you’d finally conclude: It’s time to change maps!

As God’s missionary people, we also need to change maps in order to navigate in this present day. Changes in our society and culture, especially regarding the Church, have come fast and furiously. It’s as if we went to bed one night only to wake up the next morning in a vastly different world. Once vibrant and growing churches question whether they will remain open for another year. Many pastors and people feel guilty for not reaching their communities with the Gospel, while well-intentioned mission sermons often leave them discouraged, even defensive. And in their defensiveness, they begin to reason that faithfulness has only to do with preserving the true faith, whether or not that faith is proclaimed to the nations.

Mission work requires faithfulness. As Lutheran Christians, we are acutely aware of the need to be faithful at a time when secularism and religious pluralism assault the Church on every side. While striving to be faithful, however, many find themselves unable to connect their communities with the Gospel. Along with faithfulness we need wisdom— wisdom to understand the time and contexts into which Christ has called us to serve as His missionary people.

The Context
All mission contexts boil down to three: Pre-Church, Churched, and Post-Church. Pre-Church refers to a context in which the Church has not been established; so the culture is wholly unchurched. The Churched context finds the Church firmly established in the community and culture. The Post-Church context finds the Church’s significance in the community waning. These contexts move from one to the next in a circular rather than linear fashion, as the following diagram suggests.

Churches, like other social organisms, exist in relationship to a larger society defined by cultural boundaries that clearly mark those who are members (insiders) from those who are not (outsiders). Insiders are careful to maintain their boundaries, recognizing that any penetration by something (or someone) foreign may harm the community. The key difference between cultural insiders and outsiders is how they view these boundaries: Insiders work at protecting them; outsiders work at penetrating them.

In any given context, Christians live and serve either as cultural insiders or outsiders. Knowing which one we are is as critical to mission work as using the right map is to navigation. Consider the following questions:

Who can speak with credibility regarding spiritual issues?

When do these conversations take place?

Where do they take place?

What is the starting place for these conversations?
Each of these questions is indispensible to Gospel proclamation. Critical to their consideration is understanding that they can be answered only by cultural insiders. Knowing which one we are in each mission context— insider or outsider—tells us whether we (or someone else) must provide the answers.

Pre-Church Contexts
Missionaries serving in a Pre-Church context must assume the role of cultural outsiders, recognizing that non-Christians are cultural insiders. Non-Christians, then, must answer the who, when, where, and what questions. Christian witnesses
cannot assume that they will be trusted or credible just because they are Christians. Furthermore, they must adapt their ministry to meet the unchurched when and where the unchurched meet. Finally, and most important, they do not determine the starting place of the conversation. The unchurched insiders do. The missionary begins with their questions or concerns and carefully, lovingly moves from there to the Good News of Jesus. Through these means, the missionary penetrates the boundaries of the unchurched culture and the Gospel starts to work on the inside.

Critical to penetrating the culture is to become “permeable,” that is, to diminish as many “foreign” or outsider elements as possible. Thus, missionaries learn the language and culture of the unchurched insiders. They get involved in the life of the community, getting to know and be known by them. They recognize that it may take some time before they are considered credible enough to have something worthwhile to say about life issues, especially spiritual matters. Missionaries begin, then, as learners (students) of the insiders’ world. Over time, they operate as traders, exchanging or comparing their understanding of issues with those of the insiders. Eventually they may be invited to speak authoritatively about life and faith issues as contributors. Missionaries know that they have become trusted contributors when insiders confide to them the brokenness of their world and their inability to restore things to what they know is right (the law of God written on their hearts).

Missionaries need to recognize that they might never become cultural insiders. Cultural insiders, therefore, must play a critical role in communicating the Gospel. Proclamation depends more upon those we would call “laity” (especially the newly baptized) than on the missionary. The Holy Spirit also raises up various gifts (people) from among the insiders’ community through whom He speaks His Word both to the unchurched and to those being gathered by the Word (Ephesians 4).

Christians in a Pre-Church context focus primarily on unchurched people hearing the Good News. So they stay highly engaged with the unchurched, maintaining a porous boundary between themselves and the unchurched. Rather than creating their own place where they can invite their friends and relatives to hear about Jesus, they go to where (and when) the unchurched naturally gather. There they listen and apply God’s Word to the needs and questions the unchurched are raising. Eventually, a number of people gather around God’s Word, and a church is born. As more and more people become Christian, the Church increases in cultural and social significance, often replacing the unchurched community as the new insiders.

The Churched Context
Almost every dynamic of churched and unchurched people described in the Pre-Church context reverses in the Churched context. Christians are now the cultural insiders, and the unchurched the outsiders. The Church has become an essential part of the community, central to—even shaping—the shared history of the community. As such, it enjoys significant credibility, wielding considerable influence in the larger society. Consider the Christian church’s role in Europe or early America in shaping the languages and cultures of much of the Western world. (For example, modern German was built substantially on Luther’s translation of the Scriptures; J. S. Bach’s influence on classical music remains to this day.)

As insiders, the Church now answers the who, when, where, and what questions of Gospel communication. Who speaks with authority and credibility? Our pastor does. When and where do we discuss spiritual matters? We come to church. What is the starting place for our conversation? We naturally consider questions important to Christians, using language and theological categories developed within the Church—e.g., as Lutherans, we often ask questions among ourselves that are more theological than practical in nature, concerning ourselves with true doctrine, proper distinction between Law and Gospel, and theological matters that distinguish us from other Christian churches.

As cultural outsiders, the unchurched tend to gravitate toward the Church. They share the Church-influenced language and culture, support the cultural values established by the Church, and appreciate the Church’s role in society. Desiring to be cultural insiders, they willingly go through whatever process the Church requires to gain membership. They become permeable, willing to learn the language and culture of the Church. On the other hand, the Churched no longer focus on the unchurched; they’ve become virtually invisible. It’s generally assumed that almost everyone is a Christian. (How often have we heard, “America is a Christian nation”?)

In contrast to missionaries in a Pre-Churched society, pastors in a Churched society minister from the position of key cultural insiders, both in their churches and communities. Often highly educated, they are respected as spiritual and ethical leaders, trusted guardians of the community’s culture and values. Gospel proclamation belongs primarily, if not exclusively, to them. Evangelism occurs, therefore, by people inviting their unchurched friends and neighbors to come to church in order to hear what the pastor has to say. The several spiritual gifts operating in the Pre-Churched era atrophy or consolidate into one—the pastor/teacher.

As churches grow, more time and energy must be devoted to the needs and concerns of the members, which often means less attention is given to the unchurched. In order to serve the members, the churches increasingly invest in buildings and programs, multiplying ministries to the Churched. In an effort to protect their members from the dangers present in the non-Christian (or heterodox) world, they fix clear boundaries between those inside and outside their church. Over time the Church becomes preoccupied with its institutional needs while losing sight of those still outside the Kingdom.

The Post-Church Context
The Post-Church context is a complex combination of the previous two. In short: The larger community around the Church has become increasingly unchurched, more and more reflecting a Pre-Church context of ministry. At the same time, the Church continues to operate with the assumptions of the Churched society.

Simply speaking, both the churched and the unchurched claim the insider’s position, while viewing the other as alien. Because both view themselves as cultural insiders, neither has the need or inclination to become permeable in order to connect with the other. Instead, each tends to strengthen its own boundaries in an attempt to maintain its own identity, health, and future. Boundaries become all the more important as each feels threatened by the other.

The Post-Church context presents incredible challenges for local congregations, especially in regard to their Gospel outreach to the unchurched world.

First, they are caught off balance. Having for so long held the position of cultural insiders, they still build their outreach ministry on the assumptions and practices that worked in the Churched era—basically that the unchurched will be attracted to their church or ministries. They cannot understand why individuals and families find the soccer field, Starbucks, or just sleeping in more appealing than going to church on Sunday morning. Or why people challenge the traditional Christmas tree in the town square, or the Ten Commandments in a court of law. These cultural changes make no sense.

Second, and more important, Christians and churches struggle to find ways to connect meaningfully with the unchurched. The struggle centers in large measure on the Church’s inability to take up the position of cultural outsider, that is, to become permeable in regard to its own boundaries in order to penetrate the boundaries surrounding the unchurched world. Such permeability seems inappropriate, or worse, unfaithful in light of our Lord’s call to His Church to remain true to Him (in the world but not of it). Intuitively, faithfulness seems to require the thickening and sharpening of the Church’s boundaries in order to protect itself and its confession from the assaults of secularism and religious pluralism.

So how do Christian churches become permeable—the posture of missionaries in a Pre-Churched world—and remain faithful? This is the million-dollar question facing every church desiring to follow Christ in a Post-Church world. Is it possible to surrender the boundaries (the protective walls) without losing the essential life and integrity of the faith? Our Lord thought so. As He looked to His own death, by which He would gather the nations to Himself, He told His disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24 ESV). What has to die in the seed is not its essence, just its protective husk. Missionary permeability and doctrinal integrity are not biblically exclusive. However, from the New Testament until today, churches desirous to be faithful have struggled with meshing the two.

Consider St. James’ words to St. Paul in Acts 21: “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or to walk according to our customs.” St. Paul’s ability and requirement “for the sake of the Gospel” to “become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” seemed to cause significant anxiety among the Judean believers (cultural insiders) that he was compromising the true doctrine as revealed through Moses in the Torah.

Confessional and missionary faithfulness require that we wrestle with these Gospel essentials in the light and for the sake of our Savior’s purpose in coming into our world.


About the Author: Dr. Robert D. Newton is president of the LCMS California-Nevada-Hawaii District
This article and others are avaiable at

Bible, Nurture and Witnessing teaching resources by Jim Found

Jim has taught witnessing and other outreach courses at Concordia St. Paul from 1998 to 2006. Along with his wife offers the following workshop and course material online in English and some in Chinese at http://www.foundbytes.com/index.htm :

Introduction to the Bible
Aid to reading Mark
Nurture of Believers
Overall Suggestions for Nurturing Others
Suggestions for nurture of your own faith
Suggestions for meeting in small home sharing groups
Suggestions for Youth and Family nurture
Suggestion for a Classroom Setting (Sunday School, etc.)
Suggestions about Prayer
Nurture materials written by Jim Found (These are meant to help believers apply faith to daily life.)
Eight Lessons for new believers.
Key Bible Topics. Over 25 practical studies.
Christian Life Discussion Sheets
Guide to Growth
Biblical concepts for training new leaders
Development of Christianity over the years: Roots of today's situation
The Sunday Morning Church service: Understanding and planning
What God's Word says about common life issues.
Thinking Outside the Box: ideas for youth studies or sermon series.
A "How-to" guide for witnessing
Devotions relating to witnessing
Great Commission Living,
A Witnessing Workshop
How to Lead a Witness Workshop
Books on Evangelism
Web sites about evangelism

Liturgical Guitarist's Hymnal

The Liturgical Guitarist Hymnal provides relatively easy solo arrangements of many of the hymns used in liturgical worship today.

These musical arrangements are accessible to fingerstyle or classical guitarists of at least intermediate-level ability. All arrangements are presented in both notation and tablature.

Discover Liturgical Guitarist at http://www.liturgicalguitarist.com/index.html

Hymns available are:
Abide with Me
Adios, Oh Virgen de Guadalupe
Amazing Grace
Angels We Have Heard On High
At the Cross Her Station Keeping
Away in a Manger
Be Thou My Vision
Beneath the Cross of Jesus
By the Babylonian Rivers
Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
Comfort, Comfort, O My People
Coming Home
Coventry Carol
Creator of the Stars of Night
Day Is Done
Dona Nobis Pacem
God Be with You
God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
How Can I Keep From Singing
How Firm a Foundation
I Need Thee Every Hour
I Heard the Voice of Jesus
I Love Thee
I Surrender All
Immaculate Mary
Jerusalem, My Happy Home
Jesus Loves Me
Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley
Joy to the World
Joyful, Joyful We Adore You
Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Just As I Am
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent
Let Us Break Bread Together
Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days
Morning Has Broken
Nearer, My God, to Thee
Now the Green Blade Rises
O Come, All Ye Faithful
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
O Little Town of Bethlehem
O Sacred Head Surrounded
O Sanctissima
Of the Father's Love Begotten
On Jordan's Stormy Banks
On This Day, O Beautiful Mother
Old Hundredth
Parce Domine
Pange Lingua
Panis Angelicus
People, Look East
Psalm 42 (As the Deer Longs)
Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me
Silent Night
Simple Gifts/Lord of the Dance
Sing of Mary
Steal Away
Sweet Hour of Prayer
Take My Life, and Let It Be
The Angel Gabriel
The Day of Resurrection
The First Nowell
The King of Love My Shepherd Is
The Lord Is My Shepherd
The Strife Is O'er
There Is a Fountain
There's a Land That Is Fairer
than Day (Sweet By and By)
We Gather Together
We Three Kings of Orient Are
Were You There
What Child Is This
What Wondrous Love Is This
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Ye Sons and Daughters

Friday, July 16, 2010

Augsburg Confession mp3 audio download

Pastor Phillip Hoppe makes available the Augsburg Confession as an audio download for those who are interested in listening to it as they sit, drive, fly, walk, run or cycle.

Visit http://ihoppe.com/blog/?page_id=385 to obtain downloads

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blended Worship Blog

Blended Worship Resource includes a range of resources to help congregations who offer or are considering offering a blended style of worship

At this page you will find:
Blended Worship articles
Blended Worship Guidelines
CCM songlists
CCM music review
CCM songs criteria
CCM song and artist info
Blended Worship dialogue
Sound Techniques
Other Stuff

Discover more at http://blendedworshipresource.wordpress.com/

Bible Studies from Trinity Lutheran Church Palo Alto

Trinity Lutheran Church have developed and used a number of Books of the bible, bible studies including:

Leviticus: The Theology of Worship
(with thanks to the Rev. John Kleinig, author of Leviticus [CPH, 2003])

Joshua: The Deposit of the New Creation
(following the work of the Rev. Adoplh Harstad, author of Joshua [CPH, 2004])

Esther: The Beauty and the Beast

The Psalms: According to the Our Father by Vicar David Solum

Colossians: The Fullness of God in Christ
by Vicar John Sias, and with thanks to the Rev. Paul Deterding, author of Colossians [CPH, 2003]

Titus: The Church on Crete

Philemon: Incarnate Forgiveness

Download these studies at http://www.trinitylutheranpaloalto.com/teachings/bible_study

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Free Online Bible commentaries

Free online Bible Commentaries are available at http://biblecentre.org/commentaries/index_ot.htm

Weekly Word- take home faith tool

Weekly Word is a take home resource developed by Matt Thiele @ Immanuel Lutheran Church Buderim

The vision of Weekly Word is: “Richly immersed in God’s Word – all ages connected in Christ”.

The idea is to take the ‘WeeklyWord’ sheet home, stick it on your fridge or somewhere you’ll notice, and repeat the verse, meditate on the verse, discuss the verse, and let the verse work it’s way deep into your heart and mind through the week.

We’ve expanded things now by putting it online and setting up an email subscription so you can get ‘weeklyword’ and not miss out if you don’t get the print copy at church.

You might like to go deeper and read the whole chatper the verse is from, or the whole book. Whatever you do with this please “let the Word of Christ live in you richly” – Colossians 3:16.

for examples of weekly word and to sunscribe visit http://weeklyword.me/

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spiritual Care for people when spouses are ill or life is changing

Changes in life or unexpected life events have an impact on us emotionally and spiritually.

When a spouse becomes ill or needs special care not only is your life disrupted, but plans are put on hold, dreams may seem further away or even impossibile or your life path may take a turn you never expected or prepared for. When retirement looms life also changes. Such situations can result in resentment, disappointment and even uncertainity with God, your spouse and even yourself.

There are a number of resources that help when such situations arise:
How to find grace for caregiving is an article that is based on the book AMBUSHED BY GRACE: HELP AND HOPE ON THE CAREGIVING JOURNEY
Prepare-Enrich Australia through local counsellors offer a counselling using diagnostic tool that help couples enrich and improve their marriage. It helps to identify those areas where there are strengths and those areas which are possible growth areas in a married relationship. This is a good way for couples to begin to understand where to focus. For further information contact myself or Prepare-Enrich
Where is God now? offers a number of excellent devotions, suggested bible readings and prayers relating to situations where there is disappointment and discouragement.
The Lutheran Handbook on Marriage has a section relating to older and retiring couples and suggestions on how they can enrich and enhance their marriage during later years.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Senior Evangelism

http://www.seniorevangelism.org/ offers the following

The World of Senior Adults: Facts & Figures you should know
Spiritual Life Resources: Finding new life, nurturing the soul
Senior Moments: Time out to laugh at ourselves
Second Half Connections: Maintaining Healthy Relationships
Life Journey Stories: Inspiration from real life
Ministry by, with and for Seniors: What others are doing; lessons learned
Senior Ministry Seminars: Opportunities to learn, network
Life Issues and Scriptures: Find answers in the Bible
Links & Resources: Websites and other useful information

Center for Spirituality and Aging

The Center for Spirituality and Aging offers provides advocacy and education about spirituality as it is experienced in the aging process, within both faith and long-term care communities.

Their web page offers:
Articles for Activity Professionals, family and progessional care-givers, health care professionals, Faith group leaders and older adults
DVD: Caring for older adults
links to other web sites
Other resources

Visit http://www.spiritualityandaging.org/

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Messy Church: a family approach to church

Messy Church is one church's attempt to be church for families who might want to meet Jesus, belong to their local church and bring up their children as Christians but can't cope with traditional Sunday morning church services.

How it started!!!
The first Messy Church began in 2004 when a group at St Wilfrid's in Cowplain near Portsmouth were frustrated because, as a church, we were hardly reaching any children with God's story.

We had lovely buildings and facilities but we weren't using them enough. We had wonderful creative people in the church, and the area we lived in needed as much community-building as possible, being a rather featureless suburb.

There was a lot of sympathy towards church in general but the church wasn't offering anything that really gripped the imagination of local families.

We decided very early on to try to do something for all ages together, partly out of a belief that we grow best as a church when we walk the journey with as many different people as possible, and partly from a desire to help families grow together in their walk of faith, not see Christianity as something you grow out of when you're eleven.

The rest is history... a messy present... and an unknown future that you may well be part of too!

What it might look like!!
The hall is buzzing with conversation. Around a table adults and children burst into laughter as they wrestle with metallic tubing and googly eyes and their teenage helpers despair of ever creating the promised artefact.

A toddler slaps green paint on a huge sheet of card under the watchful eye of a Granny (not sure if they're related or not - it doesn't really matter). A five-year-old watches wide-eyed as an enthusiastic leader shows her how to bang in a nail.

There's a delicious smell wafting out of the kitchen. The ten-year-olds, intent on their glass-painting, agree it must be jacket potatoes. The vicar takes a photo of the surreal result of the junk modelling and two mums catch up on the gossip as they drink welcome cups of tea and slowly decorate gift bags while their children make something unidentifiable but very chocolatey upstairs.

The cooks should be getting the plates stacked, but one of the mums needs to talk about her problems with her foster children.

I would be panicking about the story for the celebration later, but there's a huge collage of The Great Banquet to assemble before five o'clock, the powder paint has proved a formidable weapon of mess creation in the hands of Jack, and we've barely got started on the lettering and whoops, someone's kicked over the gluepot...

Just another Messy Church.

Messy Church is one church's attempt to be church for families who might want to meet Jesus, belong to their local church and bring up their children as Christians but can't cope with traditional Sunday morning church services.

It's a once-a-month time of creativity, worship and eating together.

For resources on developing, and birthing a messy church visit www.messychurch.org.uk where you will find resources, a blog, a book and community sharing

Lectionary resource: Faith Element

What they say they are about?
FaithElement is a discipleship system that offer a simple but effective way for Bible study groups to grow in faith. Each week, we offer a combination of creative Session Pages, weekday prompts through Facebook, Twitter or email, and a brief Bible commentary video on the chosen passage. Best of all, FaithElement is free!

Faith Elelment offers 5 aproaches to studying a bible lesson from the Revised Common Lectionary readings. The five approaches are:

  • Media (uses movie clips, songs, and other media to spur discussion)
  • Mental (for those who need to understand)
  • Mystic (for those that prefer a spiritual, introspective style)
  • Missional (for those that are interested in action that makes a difference)
  • Youth (for student/youth groups).

The resources are all Free.....and there are notes, video clips, articles and music clips

To discover more visit www.faithelement.com

Monday, April 19, 2010

More Evangelism reflections

The Year of Evangelism is about…..
being intentionally active in sharing God’s Love
Here are nine simple things you can do everyday….
1. Wear a cross or a religious symbol. You may be surprised how many times this will start a conversation about your faith.
2. Pray before a meal, especially with family and friends, but also in public places.
3. Refer to your church, your faith and the Bible in casual conversation with others.
4. Respond "Thank God!" or "God is Good!" when someone shares an uplifting story with you.
5. Say "I will pray for you" when some one shares a personal concern or difficulty with you.
6. Send a card or note of encouragement, offer words of blessing that convey your faith and trust in God.
7. Be courteous and helpful in all public transactions; look for ways to give a verbal and positive witness to the hope that is within you.
8. Ask someone you may have hurt for forgiveness.
9. Be clear that your perspective is informed by your faith and belief in a loving, forgiving God.
Can you think of number 10???
Why not send it to us at office@phlc.org.au

Living in the Year of Evangelism
involves caring for your friends earthly AND heavenly needs
If someone you cared for was in trouble and needed some help what would you do? Ignore them, let them go through the trouble by themselves, or would you offer them some help.
What about if they weren’t Christians, weren’t developing a relationship and growing in a relationship with Jesus? They are headed to only one place hell. Surely you would love for them to have the opportunity to be in heaven, with you and Jesus, so that they avoid hell.
There are six things that help us reaching friends:
1. Understand that sharing Jesus is an urgent. In Mark 13:32 we are encouraged to remain alert because know one knows the time when they will die or Jesus will return.
2. Don’t be conned by Satan’s lies that deter you from sharing Jesus, what He has done and is doing for them. The truth is most people appreciate discovering more about the God who loves them, despite their sin.
3. Look for opportunities, in your interactions and discussions there will be opportunities to talk about God, How great he is, what he has done, and to ask questions about what others think.
4. Just do it: the message we have is simple.
5. Be creative…give them books to read, watch a Christian DVD with them, invite them to a church activity.
6. Love your friends…continue building relationships with them

Adapted from the article: “Friends” by Greg Stier

Living in the Year of Evangelism
affects how you read and hear the news
How should Christians read the news? Like non-Christians, only with a radical sense of belonging to God’s story, insofar as God himself has revealed it. In other words, there’s a huge overlap with non-Christians. We’re all created in God’s image, fallen, and sustained by God’s common grace. As Martin Luther and John Calvin (Reformers of the church) said, non-Christians have a huge understanding of “things earthly”, even if they do not embrace God as he has revealed himself in his Son through the gospel.
More importantly, Paul said it in Romans 1 and 2.
We have to distinguish between the Great Commandment (calling us to love God and neighbour), which is the common commission of all human beings, and the Great Commission (calling us to preach the gospel, baptise and teach). Both are essential, but they’re really different.
The news is a form of the law. It draws on common wisdom and data. Even it’s editorials reflect both the fact God’s general revelation and it’s suppression in unrighteousness. Obviously, this natural law isn’t as clear as God’s revealed will in Scripture, which goes deeper in it’s analysis of our fallen condition. Yet when we read and hear the news, we’re neighbours loving fellow neighbours.
In this era between Christ’s two comings, God sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If he shows his common grace toward all people and a common interest in all affairs, these issues should concern us for more than merely practical reasons. We share with non-Christians in the same joys and disappointments of temporal life.
However it is essential to remember, the gospel isn't announced in the news. For that, we need heralds who bring the most important news of all.
People like pastors, teachers, wise theologians and even you and me who highlight God’s love; informing others that there is more to life than they hear in the news, that God has a love that deals with sin, failure and delivers everyone who trusts Him the gift of eternity.
Adapted from and article in Leaders who last, by Dave Kraft

Living in the Year of Evangelism is about…..
Sharing telling God’s Easter story and your Easter story….
the best story ever!!!

We have the best story in the world to tell. It's a story about life, and love, and God's triumph over sin, death, and the devil.
It's a great story that has been handed down to us as a gift.
Our role in this story is not to hoard or hide this gift but to find new and unexpected ways to share this gift with the people around us.
The story of Jesus dying and rising has been told through twenty centuries. For many it is a story about hope and about what God can do. But for some Easter isn't a source of hope; simply because they don't know the story. And this is where every Christian has a role to play…every Christian should immerse themselves in the story of Easter….this involves
Thinking about:

  • Who are you most like in the Easter story?
  • What is God up to in the Easter Story?
There's a story to tell. There's a world ready to hear some Good News.
Jesus was dead and he is risen.
And in telling the story….something amazing happens….all who
believe will have life after death in him.

What does the Year of Evangelism mean?
The story we heard recently in church of the Chinese farmer who had his eyes healed then some days later lead others with a similar condition to the doctor who healed him, sums up what it often means for us to be active in evangelism.
Being involved in evangelism means:
• Sharing with others the good God is doing
• Not having to know it all, or exactly how God works.
• Walking with others, as you lead them to the one who will
bring healing.

DVD Bible Study series: Engage

Engage is a DVD bible study series developed by CPH that is focuses on issues relating to Young Adults but claims not to leave them there

Engage and discover what God has to say to you through His grace in Jesus Christ.

The topics covered include
CONVOY: Why do bad things happen to good people?
DESK: What do you hide?
HOSE: What happens when life breaks down?
KINGS Ever left alone in a crowded room?
MILLION: How do you seperate fact from feeling?
PHONE: Ever get that call you never wanted?
ROPE: Are you at the end of yours?
RUST: What's eating away at you?

available at http://www.cph.org/engage
for a preview visit http://www.youtube.com/user/EngageBibleStudies

Web Site: Church Relevance

Kent Shaffer's blog Church Relevance aims to develop relevant and effective church ministries and assistance to churches.
There is a list and link to the 100 top Christian blogs, churches to watch, a range of free resources and regular articles. Available at http://churchrelevance.com/

Web site: IXMARKS

9Marks believes the local church is the focal point of God’s plan for displaying his glory to the nations, and that the Bible is sufficient for the life of the church. As an organization, therefore, we are church-focused, scripture-focused, and pastor-focused. We value a multiplicity of voices and styles as well as like-minded partnerships. We hope to continue growing in our own knowledge of God’s Word and its application to the local congregation. And we intend to spread our content through existing venues, platforms, and institutions, not to create new ones.

The nine marks are (1) expositional preaching, (2) biblical theology, (3) a biblical understanding of the good news, (4) a biblical understanding of conversion, (5) a biblical understanding of evangelism, (6) biblical church membership, (7) biblical church discipline, (8) biblical discipleship and growth, and (9) biblical church leadership. These are not the only things which are necessary for building healthy churches, they are nine practices which many churches today overlook and that need to be emphasized once again.

Visit www.9marks.org for information, articles and books for pastors and church members.