Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Top 10 things Jesus would say to teens!!

The top 10 things Jesus would say to teens.....
Share this message with any teenager you know....

By Tom Schmidt...youth worker at Immanuel Lutheran Church Buderim  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Evangelism reflections for October 2012

The following evangelism reflections were shared in October to the members and friends of the Portland-Heywood Lutheran Church in the bulletin

28th October 2012

Evangelism … about talking about Jesus in your everyday life
When we talk about evangelising, we are talking about inviting people to join with other Christians into a relationship with Jesus. In other words we are inviting people to know Jesus through us. And the best and most proven way for this to happen is by talking about Jesus in our everyday life.
A good way to start talking about Jesus in your everyday life is think of your Christian friends as an opportunity to practice! If you find it hard to talk about Jesus with Christians, then how do you expect to talk about him with unbelievers? As you get more in the habit of talking about Jesus in the everyday with Christians, this will help you talk about him with unbelievers. The links between everyday life and Jesus will become easier to spot. Let your unbelieving friends overhear you talking about the gospel with one another. Now this is not about stage-managed conversations--people will see through that straight away. What is important is that we expose people to a community genuinely centred on Jesus. It is important that as people mix with you, they hear the gospel being spoken around them. So how might this sound? As you have conversation about ordinary things happening in your life with others, look at ways you can relate God to these ordinary life situations. This may include sharing what blessings and help you have received from God in your day. Perhaps there is something in your ordinary life that reminds you of the promises and blessings of God that you can share with others. Maybe you can share how God is bringing hope to a difficult situation.
Remember God is involved in everything we do, and by sharing how God is present with others, there is a greater chance for people to see and hear how God is present, and respond to His love.

21st October 2012

Evangelism—is where love comes to life
When people fall in love, it’s as if they come remarkably to life. Their eyes sparkle with special lights, their breath comes more urgently and they seem somehow to be straining forward to meet life. Love breathes life into the everyday ordinariness of our existence.
Actually, love changes people. The experience of being loved, at any stage of life, brings with it a kind of newness that brings out the best in us. We become more open to the gifts of life and the needs of others, and we live in a new way, a renewed way. Love brings life.
Of course, we can hardly think about love or life without thinking of God. God is love (1 John 4). Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14). In the very beginning God brought life to the world, reshaping the primeval chaos into a habitable planet (Genesis 1). God breathed his own life into our human bodies and brought us to life (Genesis 2).
God even entered human life at a depth which no-one could have anticipated, becoming a human being and filling our humanity with his own life. This flesh-taking (incarnation) was not an interesting experiment but God’s own project to rescue us from death and futility, and to renovate the whole world. In spite of our worst efforts, even when we killed him, God succeeded in bringing love back to life (John 1).
To continue his work on earth, God created the church, whose task it now is to celebrate love and life, and to be the vehicle for God’s continued work of bringing love to life in the world. The church lives on the gifts of God – God’s forgiveness, God’s love, God’s own life. In its worship the church experiences the love of God in words and actions of forgiveness and of empowerment. Infused with the real presence of Jesus Christ, love comes decisively to life every time the people of God gather.
Life in the church is really a preparation and empowerment for a life of love in the world. As we hear the good news of Jesus Christ, as we receive his body and blood, we become new people, with new potential for good, with new energy for a life of love wherever God gives us the opportunity. Our families and our communities, our workplaces and our cultural settings might well experience through us something of God’s love as it comes to life again in us. That’s the plan.
The life of a Christian is a life of faith active in love (Galatians 5), empowered by the love of Christ himself (1 Corinthians 13). Indeed, we have no other obligation, except to participate in this world transforming gift of God’s love (Romans 13).
Where does love come to life in your congregation? Can a visitor feel it, taste it? Is there a deep and genuine experience of God’s tangible love in the life of your congregation? Something to make God smile? Could our congregations be places where love comes to life?
by Rev Graham Harms, for Director for Ministry and Mission, LCA Queensland District

14th October

Evangelism—involves telling and listening to stories
Stories are powerful tools in sharing what is good.
Using stories is effective in evangelising
Evangelism involves 3 main stories:
Your personal story…..
Each of us have a story, a story that reveals the good things that have happened, the challenges we have faced, the disappointments, how other people have helped us and how God has helped and influenced us…
In telling our story….we should be prepared to tell it through what we say and what we do. Our actions often reveal something about us and our story….
So think about your story….what are the important things you want people to know about your life...what might God what people to know through your story?
Other people’s story
Another significant story is other people’s story. Building relationships with people is essential for evangelising. And to build relationships with people, involves listening to their story. Jesus regularly listened to other people’s stories, and this was important as it shaped and influenced how we introduced God’s story to them…..
Think about who in your life you can spend some time with...listening to their stories….
God’s story
The aim of evangelism is to not just to share God’s story with others, but to invite them to be part of God’s big story. As you listen to other people’s stories you will discover there are points where their story connects to God’s story and how the gospel is relevant. For instance:
• When someone needs love…. He is where God’s story may connect John 15:13; John 3:16
• When someone is dealing with shame is where God’s story may connect….John 8:1-11
• When someone is struggling with is where God’ story may connect….John 1:29

7th October 

Evangelism involves having conversations
A key aspect of evangelism involves have conversations with others. And getting conversations going, involves asking questions and listening for responses….Here are some questions that may help you start and continue conversations with people. Use one or a number of these in your conversations.
1. People invest time and energy into developing their career, their bodies and relationships, but often neglect the spiritual dimension of their lives. How do you actively pursue spiritual growth?
2. Do you think much about spiritual things? (This usually leads to conversation about what “spiritual” means–i.e. religion vs. relationship.)
3. How has this experience affected the way you look at God?
4. We’ve never had a chance to talk about your religious background. Where would you say you are in your spiritual pilgrimage?
5. What is your concept of God? Do you view Him positively or negatively?
6. How does faith and spiritual values play a role in your (work) (day) (marriage) (perspective on life)?
7. Is church something that has had an influence in your life? Are you at a point now that you want church to be a bigger part of your life? What prompted this? Would you want to hear our basic beliefs so you’ll know if that fits in with what you’re looking for?
8. How do you think someone becomes a Christian?
9. If you were to die tonight are you sure you’d go to heaven? Has anyone ever explained how you can know for sure?
10. If you could ask God 3 questions, what would they be?

Resources for New Years Eve and Day Services

Hey did you know that New Year's eve is probably the largest celebration throughout the world?
Now think about what that means for us as Christians...
Do we just go along with the celebration?
Or is it possible for us to to shape the New Years eve celebrations in such away they reflect God...God's promises...God's perspective....God's commands....and that God is present?
Here is a challenge...pray God will give you an insight into how he might use you and your congregation to help others gain some of God this New Year's eve.....

Lutheran Church of Australia
New Years Eve
New Years Day 

Reformed Worship themes

Looking Ahead Through the Psalms
Teach Us to Number Our Days
From Lament to Praise
Choosing a Solid Rock
The Book of Uncommon Prayer: Contemplative and Celebratory Prayers and Worship Services for Youth Ministry
New Every Morning
The King of Glory Comes
Twelve Grapes at Midnight

Textweek New Years Eve/Day
Complete liturgies
Children's Resources

Ideas for Christian skits for Kids at New Year's Eve

New Years eve prayer from St Johns Lutheran Church Unley

New Years Day and Eve Sermons from Sermon Central

5 Lutheran Sermons for New Years Eve
No Separation
He was called Jesus
Nothing New
More than we have
Romans 8:31-39

I am sure there are some further creative and ideas out there...If you have know of something or have put together something that you will believe will help others....please email them to me 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Bible Reading Plans

The bible is crucial to the Christian faith...the more we read it and listen to it...the more we get a picture of what God is about....

Below are some reading plans to help you get started in reading the bible

New Testament Bible Reading Plan  Lutheran Church of Australia

Old Testament Bible Reading Plan  Lutheran Church of Australia

Read the bible in a year  Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

Daily Bible Readings   Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Listen to or read the bible over 3 years  Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church

Devotions are also another way to help you engage with the bible.  A good approach is to read the bible texts first then the devotions

Devotions from Lutheran Media Australia

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lutheran resources to minister to those affected by suicide

Suicide is a very difficult situation.  
Sometimes we are stuck for words to say, other times we are unsure how to respond.    
Other times we hear about people committing suicide and we ask why???

Following are a number of resources I pray help you should you or a friend of yours ever be affected by suicide.  

Two sermons from Pastor Matt Thiele @ grace space, suicide and suicide- what would Jesus say? 

A sermon from Pastor Richard Schwedes - Sermon for the funeral of a person who committed suicide

Christian perspectives on suicide

Surviving the suicide of a loved one....pdf free Lutheran Hour Ministry 

The church and suicide Lutheran Church of Australia

Suicide Prevention from ELCA

Suicide LCMS

Suicide and the silence of scripture Christianity Today

3 video stories of people facing suicide but found hope in God from Yes He is!!

Bible verses
Mark 14:38
Romans 5:20
1 John 1:9
1 John 3:20-21

Psalms 25
Psalms 103
Psalms 130

Isaiah 43:1-3, 4-5
Romans 8:31-39
Hebrews 13:5b-6
1 Peter 5:8-9

Should you wish to discuss the issue of suicide  please contact a pastor, your doctor or a Christian counselor.

Feel free to email me with appropriate resources

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 Advent and Christmas Resources

15 Advent worship series themes: Faith and Works
Advent/Christmas worship Theme:  Here Comes Christmas - Portland-Heywood Lutheran Church
Advent with a difference:  ELCA world hunger

 resource page: Lutheran Church of Australia:  Commission on worship
Advent Liturgies:  reWorship
Worship Ways, Multimedia Worship in Advent/Christmas, Trees of Advent, Hawaiian Liturgy for Advent. Liturgy planningAdvent Resources & Alternate Liturgies, Wellsprings of the Gospel. United Church of Christ.
Worship Planning Resources for Advent-Christmas-Epiphany, Dan Benedict, General Board of Discipleship, United 
Advent Wreath Candle-Lighting Meditations for Home and Church, 2005. United Methodist Church.
Advent-Christmas-Epiphany Services & Liturgies, United Methodist Church General Board of Discipleship.
Advent Prayer Service, Debi Tyree, United Methodist Church General Board of Discipleship.
Wellspring Liturgies for Advent & ChristmasCatherine McElhinney and Kathryn Turner, Weekly Wellsprings.
Ideas for Worship from "On the Move," a publication of The Joint Board of Christian Education of Australia and New Zealand. At The Billibong, Jeff Shrowder.
21st Century Africana Worship Resources: Advent WReath Readings for Year B, the Rev. Sherrie Dobbs Johnson, United Methodist Church General Board of Discipleship
Worship Resources by Lisa Frenz, Mt. Carmel Lutheran Church, Portland, OR:
         An Order of Worship for Advent with Holy Communion
         An Order of Worship with Holy Communion for Advent using images of the coming Light.
        An Advent Order for Holy Communion: Word of God Come Be With Us a service of renewal.
Advent Candle-Lighting Litaniees by Richard J. Fairchild at Kir-Shalom:  Year CBlue Christmas/Longest Night Worship With Those Who Mourn, Resources from General Board of Discipleship, United Methodist Church.
Advent Alternative - A selection of readings from Children's Literature with scriptural references that invite us to "lift the veil" and recognize the presence of God already born among us. Katherine Hawker, Outside the Box.
Advent Candle Prayers and Advent Communion Litanies, Katherine Hawker, Outside the Box.
Advent Services from St Andrew Lutheran Church (ELCA), New Bern, NC.
Inclusive Language Seekers Liturgies from Seekers Church:
     "hoping to be fed...our hands serving" (2004)
     "What Are We Waiting For?" (2003)
     "At Ease In Our Struggles" (2002)
      "Unknown Territory of Hope" (2001)
      "A Bright Snarl" (2000)
      "Mangers and Manure" (1999)
      "Just Enough" (1998)
       "Full of Grace" (1997)Methodist Church.
Traditional Hymns for Blended and Contemporary Worship Volume One: Advent-Christmas-Epiphany, by Dean McIntyre, United Methodist Church General Board of Discipleship.
Advent-Christmas Page, Together to Celebrate, David MacGregor, Contemporary Christian Music Resources.
"Prepare, Prepare," a hymn for Advent by John Kleinheksel. United Methodist Church Board of Global Ministries.
"'Tis Winter Now, the Fallen Snow," a hymn for Advent by John Kleinheksel. United Methodist Church Board of Global Ministries.
"The Lord's Messiah Comes,", a hymn for Advent by Rev David Beswick, Uniting Church in Australia.

Advent readings, devotions and Sunday School story:  Sola Scripture

Advent Resources:  Concordia Publishing House
Advent Resources:  Creative Communications
Advent Resources: Damaris Church
Advent Resources:  Augsburg Fortress
Advent resources:  Textweek

Advent ideas 
Advent Boxes:  Ringwood-Knox Lutheran Church
Faith Together: Come Lord Jesus curriculum face book and curriculum resources
Advent Prayer Stations:  Fresh Worship
Jesse Tree Ornaments, downloadable brochure from King of Peace Episcopal Church.

Art to Heart, Jeff Dugan. Suggestions for classic artwork to use with each week's liturgy. Jeff also offers the opportunity to purchase PowerPoint presentations of classic art for weekly liturgical use.

Devotionals, Daily Readings, Advent Calendars
Praying Advent, The Collaborative Ministry Office, Creighton University.
Celebrating Advent in the Home, downloadable brochures from King of Peace Episcopal Church.
Advent/Christmas Devotionals, Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Also please view our earlier Advent/Christmas resources at Advent and Christmas

If you have any resources to suggest...please email me at

Monday, October 22, 2012

LCA Vic/Tas Council for Ministry Support Presentation

The 36th Convention of the Lutheran Church of Australia Victorian District including Tasmania took place between 19th to 21st October 2012 in Portland Victoria with the theme 'where love comes to life.'

Part of the Council for Ministry Support's presentation included a presentation that included 6 tools for ministry and  mission.

The six tools are:
Lutheran Church of Australia's 5 pillars
Australian Bureau of Statistics - Community Profile
National Church Life Survey
Being Multicultural - not just multi-racial
Having a discipleship emphasis
Being God's stewards - using what we have to know and share God with others

The full powerpoint presentation is available here  

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bible Reading initiative: Live light 25 words a day

The Australian Bible Society is encouraging everyone to get involved in reading small sections of scripture everyday and then thinking about what this small section of scripture means for us and the other people we mingle with.....

Go to to discover resources that help you encourage your congregation and friends to dive deep into God's Word

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lutheran Liturgy - it's biblical roots

The Lutheran Liturgy -- Its Biblical Roots
An Outline of the Order of Holy Communion*
* the following presentation corresponds to the order of Divine Service II from the Hymal Lutheran Worship, pp. 158ff.

The service of preparation

The Prelude
Music helps draw us into an attitude of prayer and praise.

The Ringing of the Bells
This is a call to Gods people "to enter the lord's gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise" (Psalm 100:4).

A Hymn of  Invocation
We are a "singing church," so we follow the advice of the apostle Paul to teach and admonish "one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing  with grace in your hearts to the lord" (Colossians 3:16).  This hymn may be one of praise, prayer, or reflection on the season of the church year.

The Invocation
We call upon God to be present with us. We worship the triune God, remembering our Baptism in His name*.  Amen means "So be it, it is true!"
* Matt. 28:19;  Matt. 18:20;  Eph. 2:18.

The Confession of Sins
We examine ourselves and publicly confess our sins. Such a confession at the beginning of the service provides a climate of acceptance. In spite of our sins, we are accepted by God, and in turn we can accept each other.
* I John 1:8-10 [Rom. 7:14-8:4].

The Absolution or Declaration of Grace
Christ said to his disciples, "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven"*.  The pastor speaks for God and announces God's cleansing  forgiveness to those who made confession.
* John 20:23.

The Service of the Word
From the time of the apostles down through today, an important part of the service has been the reading of the Scriptures, including the Old Testament Lesson, the Epistle Lesson from the New Testament,  and the Gospel Lesson.  The reason for including these readings is the scriptural principal that God's Word is the only rule and guide for Christian faith and living.  The Service of the Word concludes with the sermon (wich is the preached word), the church's confession of faith in response to God's Word, and the prayers of God's people.

The Introit of the Day
Introit is a Latin word meaning "he enters into."  The Introit is a part of a psalm or a hymn that announces the theme of the day and begins the Service of the Word.  Many years ago the faithful would meet outside and then proceed into the church.  The pastor and the people would chant psalms as they entered the sanctuary.
The Introit traditionally consists of an Antiphon, or refrain, a Psalm or a series of Psalm verses, the Gloria Patri*, and the Antiphon repeated.
* Rom. 16:27;  Eph. 3:21;  Phil. 4:20;  Rev. 1:6, 8.

The Kyrie
Kyrie is a Greek word meaning "O Lord." It is a cry to the Lord for help and strength*.  In ancient times, the crowds would shout "Lord, have mercy" as the King entered their town.  The church has taken over his prayer to greet its King Jesus Christ in the church service.  As the people so long ago expected help from their King, so we Christians expect help from our Savior.
* Matt. 9:27;  Matt. 15:22;  Matt. 20:30-31;  Luke 17:13.

The Hymn of Praise
Two hymns of praise, "Glory to God in the highest" and "This is the feast of victory," give the congregation the opportunity to praise God and express joy because Jesus is our victorious Savior.  During Advent and Lent, the hymn of praise is omitted.
* "Glory to God in the highest," Luke 2:14;  "This is the feast of victory," Rev. 5:12f.

The Salutation
In the Salutation, the pastor and the congregation great each other in the Lord's name.
* Ruth 2:4;  Luke 1:28;  II Thess. 3:16;  II Tim. 4:22.

The Collect of the Day
The main thoughts of the day are collected, or summarized in this short prayer.  The collects for the reason of the church year have come to us from the rich treasury of the church's heritage.

The First Lesson
The first reading is from the Old Testament, except during the Easter season when it is from the Book of Acts.  This reading usually relates to the Gospel of the day.
* I Tim. 4:13.

The Gradual
Gradual, a Latin expression meaning "step," is a scripture passage for each season of the church year.  It is a response to the First Lesson and a bridge to the Second Lesson.  Sometimes a psalm is sung or spoken.

The Second Lesson
The second reading is from one of the epistles (letters) in the New Testament.

The Verse
A verse from the holy scriptures is usually sung in preparation for the reading of the Gospel.  There are general verses* as well as specific verses for the seasons of the church year.
* John 6:68; Joel 2:13 (through lent).

The Holy Gospel
The Gospel Lesson is a selection from the accounts of the life of our Lord recorded by the four evangelists, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John.  Because Christ is with us in the Gospel reading, we stand to honor his presence.  We also sing versicles (short verses) before and after the reading of the Gospel.  On certain festival days the minister may read the Gospel while standing among the people.  He may be flanked by acolytes carrying candles who proclaim Jesus and his word as the "light of the world."

The Hymn of the Day
This hymn follows the theme of the readings and set the stage for the sermon. Suggested hymns of the day are listed on page 976-78 of Lutheran Worship.

The Sermon
The Pastor proclaims God's Word and applies that word to modern life and problems.  He stresses both what God demands of us (the Law) and what God does for us through Jesus Christ (the Gospel).

The Creed
After hearing the word of God read and proclaimed, the worshiper responds with his confession of faith in the words of the Nicene Creed.  It is customary for the Nicene Creed to be spoken when Holy Communion is celebrated and on major festivals.  The Apostles' Creed is used at other times.
* I Cor. 15:1ff;  I Pet. 3:18ff;  I Tim. 3:16.

The Prayers 
This prayer in the service follows the directive of the Apostle Paul to young Timothy, a pastor: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for Kings and all those in authority, that we may live in peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness"*.  For this reason, the hymnal says "prayers are included for the whole church, the nations, those in need, the parish, and special concerns.  The congregation may be invited to offer petitions and thanksgivings.  The minister gives thanks for the faithful departed, especially for those who have died" (LW pages 168-69).
* I Tim. 2:1-2.

The Service of the Sacrament
The church has confessed its sins and been forgiven, and its faith has been nurtured through hearing the Word.  The church now reaches a climax  of the worship experience in the celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion.  The following parts of the liturgy help the worshipers partake of the holy meal thoughtfully, thankfully, and joyfully.

The Offering
The gifts of God's people are a response to God's blessings "as God has prospered them" (1 Corinthians 16:2).  Our offerings are for the support of the church.  They enable the church to provide the written and spoken word of God, Christian education, and pastoral care, food, clothing, shelter, and a helping hand to those in need.

The Offertory
As the offerings are brought to the Lord's table, the worshipers sing the offertory* to express gratitude for all God's blessings, dedicate themselves to God, and request His continued blessings.
* "What shall I render to the Lord," Ps. 116:12, 17, 13-14, 19;  "Create in me a clean heart", Ps. 51:10-12.

The Preface
Preface means "introduction."  The pastor and people get ready to celebrate the Holy Meal by greeting each other and with an exhortation as how to celebrate the meal.
* Cf. "Salutation";  Lam. 3:41;  Ps. 86.4.

The appropriate  (or Proper) Preface
These words state why we should give thanks using words and ideas appropriate for the season of the church year.
* Pss. 69:30;  95:2; 100:4;  107:22; 116:17;  147:7.

The Sanctus
Sanctus is a Latin word meaning "Holy."  The Sanctus contains words from Isaiah's vision of God (Isaiah 6:3) and the crowd's response on Palm Sunday when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9).  We join them in spirit by singing their words as we anticipate Christ’s coming in the sacrament.
* Is. 6:3;  Matt. 21:9 (Mk 11:9);  Ps. 118:25-26.

The Lord's Prayer
We pray to God as our Father using the prayer of the family of God* because the Lord's Supper is our family meal.
* Matt. 6:9ff;  Luke 11:2ff.

The Words of  Institution
The pastor speaks the words which Jesus spoke when He instituted the Supper with His disciples in the Upper Room.  With these words the bread and wine are consecrated, that is, set apart for God's use in the special meal.
* 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20.

The Peace
The greetings of peace which Jesus spoke on the first Easter is shared before we approach the altar to receive Him.  In the Lord's Supper, the body and blood of Christ are truly present in, with, and under the bread and wine.
* John 14:27;  John 20:19-21.

The Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei is a Latin phrase meaning "Lamb of God."  John the Baptist spoke these words as he pointed to Jesus coming toward him (John 1:29).  As Christ comes to us in the Holy Supper, we recognize him as the Lamb of God sacrificed for us to free us from the bondage of sin and death.
* John 1:29; Is. 53:7.

The Administration of the Supper
As we kneel at the Lord's Table, the pastor invites us, "Take, eat; this is the true body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given into death for your sins.  Take, drink, this is the true blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins."  After we receive the Sacrament we hear the comforting words spoken by the pastor, "The body and blood of our Lord strengthen and preserve you in the true faith to life everlasting."  We respond, "Amen," for this is our sincere desire. Its is a good practice to offer a silent prayer of thanks when we return to our pews.  While the meal is being distributed, the congregation and/or the choir sing one or more hymns.

The Post-Communion Canticle
"Thank the Lord," "Lord, now let Your servant go in peace," or an appropriate hymn is sung.  The purpose is to offer our thanks and express our faith in what God has done for us and promised to do for us in the future.
* "Lord, now you let Your servant go in peace", Luke 2:29f.

The Prayer of Thanks
Once again we express our appreciation to our gracious God for giving us this Holy Meal through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
* Pss. 107:1;  118:1.

The Blessing
The blessing spoken by the pastor is the Aaronic benediction, the blessing God first gave to Aaron and the other priests to speak to thew people of Israel.  Jesus Christ, our High Priest, has come to us in a special way through this Holy Meal.  The blessing is God's promise that Christ will go with us as we leave the church and return to the world to serve Him.  We sing "Amen" to affirm the blessing; "So be it -- it is true!"
* Numbers 6:23-27.

author anonymous
sourced from

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Discussion starter: God's inclusiveness it is not straight forward

If there is one issue that we need to encourage people to get deeper into is the issue of what does it mean for God to be inclusive?

Here is the problem like so many other issues for Christians (and others trying to understand Christianity)....our starting point for what it means for God to be inclusive needs to come from God's perspective (so diving into scripture is absolutely essential and also as we dive into scripture we need to allow more than one or two verses or stories help us see what it means to be inclusive).  The problem is at times we often allow other sources to inform us what it means to be inclusive without first considering God's perspective on the issue.  

So here is a start....check out the following:
Acts 1:7-8
Matthew 28:18-20
Galatians 3:26-4:7
John 3:16-17
Acts 10:45-46
Galatians 5:2-6
Romans 1:14-17
Romans 3:27-31
Romans 10:12-13
Colossians 3:5-11
Ephesians 2:12-22
John 4:1-26
John 14:6

As you read these verses think about:
How is God inclusive according to these verses?
How is God exclusive according to these verses?
What does this mean for you as a Christian and for us as congregation representing God on this earth?

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Church to visit: St Lydia's a dinner church

St Lydia's calls itself a dinner church...tied to the Lutheran and Episcopalian traditions

Who they say they are?

Our congregation is looking for an experience of the Holy that is strong enough to lean on, deep enough to question, and challenging enough to change us.
Our life together is founded on three pillars:
  • Sharing the Meal: Our worship takes place at the table around a big, delicious meal that we cook together. Communion is made as we share food and ourselves by exploring scripture, singing, and praying together.
  • Telling Our Story: Jesus told a lot of stories, and so do we. We tell the story of Christ's dying and rising, and through it, uncover the daily dyings and risings that comprise our lives.
  • Working Together: When you arrive at St. Lydia's, you'll be put straight to work preparing dinner or setting the table. Working together unites us as a community and brings us closer
    to God.

Visit their site to discover:
More about St Lydia's
How you can get involved in building the church community
Frequently Asked Questions
a guided tour
weekly blog

Visit St Lydias at

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Stewardship resources for financial tough times

When financial tough times arise church communities are presented with both a challenge to ministry and mission and an opportunity for ministry and mission.   

Following are some resources, thoughts and ideas to help church leaders and their communities to intentionally prepare for ministry in financial tough times

Let's Talk - Living theology in the Metropolitan Chicago synod

The ELCA and the Economic Downturn by Nicholas Zook
Economic Downturn and the Church’s Mission to Serve by Lauren Sanders
The Unexpected Struggle of LVC by Mark Van Scharrel
Be My People! by Liala Ritsema Beukema
Vision, Mission, and Recession by Yehiel Curry
Rods and Blessings by Robert Klonowski
Stewardship in Hard Economic Times by Dan Ruen
Stewardship Strategy by Frank Senn
Not the Way to Show Compassion by Ben Dueholm
“Religionless” Again for the First Time

The Lutheran magazine
Stewardship during an economic crisis


Tyndale University and Seminary

over 50 resources and papers including
McLaren, Brian. "Two Kinds of Economic Recovery," Sojourners Magazine, Feb. 10, 2009.
Brueggemann, Walter. "From Anxiety and Greed, to Milk and Honey. Biblical faith invites us out of self-destruction toward God`s generosity and abundance," Sojourners Magazine, Feb. 4, 2009.
Williams, Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury. "On the Financial Crisis" (Sept 27, 2008; also: "Knowing our Limits," in Crisis and Recovery: Ethics, Economics and Justice [Palgrave Macmillan, 2010], pp. 19-34).
Marty, Martin. "Trust in Uncertain Times." Audio podcast. Speaking of Faith. MP3, 14:52 min.
Duchrow, Ulrich. "The Financial Crisis in Biblical and Theological Perspective" (Univ of Heidelberg; author of Alternatives to Global Capitalism Drawn from Biblical History)
Boff, Leonardo. "Is the Worst Yet to Come?" (Nov 29, 2008; and also Oct 3, 2008)
Lutheran World Federation, Executive Committee. "Pastoral Message Concerning the Global Financial Crisis" (Oct 24-26, 2008).
Childs, James M. Greed: Economics and Ethics in Conflict. Fortress, 2000.
Claar, Victor V., and Robin J. Klay. Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices. InterVarsity, 2007.
Moe-Lobeda, Cynthia D. Healing a Broken World: Globalization and God. Fortress, 2002.
Maybe we should blame God for the Subprime Mess (Time, Oct 3, 2008, on the Prosperity Gospel)

World Vision
Biblical wisdom for a financial crisis 

Pastor Richard Schwedes Portland Heywood Lutheran Church
By September 2010 our congregation was facing a shortfall of $20000 in offerings should trends continue.   Following prayer, some research (some of which suggested that congregations who had intentional good biblical teaching on money and stewardship are less affected than those who don't when conflict and financial problems arise) and study we undertook some teaching and encouragement titled Blessed to Give in October. 

The teaching took place over four weeks as follows
Week 1:  Blessed to give together

Genesis 12:1-3
Psalm 24:1
1 Peter 4:10-11
Acts 2:42-47

Week 2:  Blessed to give focussed on eternity
Psalm 121
Colossians 3:1-4
Philippians 3:17-21
Matthew 6:19-20

Week 3:  Blessed to give God's way
Leviticus 26:1-11
2 Corinthians 8:1-12
Luke 21:1-4

Week 4:  Blessed to give for God's work among us and through us
Galatians 6:6-10
Philippians 4:14-16
Matthew 25:13-30 

These teachings was supported by a brochure containing the reality of our situation, some further texts for reflection and encouragement for members to be intentional in their giving, some testimonies and encouragement to use regular electronic giving.

Fortunately and as a result of God's grace by December giving in our congregation improved and we met our budgeted offering for the year.

If you have further resources that you believe will help congregations and leaders when faced with financial tough times please email these to me at so we can share them with others....

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Discipleship Resources

When congregations and individual Christians see themselves as disciples and disciplemakers something special and biblical happens.   The church (ie. individual Christians following Jesus together) live out who God is calling them to be.   Not only do they receive God's Good News, they see their role in distributing God's Good News....learning and putting the Gospel into practice.

Over the last few years there has been an increasing number of pastors and congregations focussing on discipleship.  Following are some resources that may help you and the Christian groups you mix with get hold of discipleship....

The paradox of being a disciple is that:
God has done it all...we are saved by grace through faith and this is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8)
and at the same time Jesus says "any of you who does not give up everything can not be my disciple (Luke 14:33)

Papers and articles on discipleship
The History of Discipleship in the Lutheran Tradition - Robert Kolb
The Church Executive as Disciple: Some Personal Reflections - Marcus C. Lohrmann
PART ONE: The Disciple and Christ: Faith Alone - Steven C. Kuhl
PART TWO: The Disciple and the Church: The Fellowship of Faith - Steven C. Kuhl
Discipleship Bishop - John Roth
Following Jesus When Things are Falling Apart - Felix Meylahn
The heart-disease of Self-Referential Faith - Bishop Well

Discipleship resources
3dm including building a discipleship culture



Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A story: love in action and how it changed a life

Here is a story of how love in action has changed the life for one young boy and his family who have had life tough.
Luke has autism....his family struggled....many carers struggled....his life was miserable and not expected to be long, until Alan Werner affected his life with love in action....

Monday, July 16, 2012

Discussion Starter: An outsiders view of church buildings

Recently an architect won an award for an addition to a church building in Warrnambool.  One of the comments he made is, "When you think about churches they're traditionally closed in without many windows.   They are not exactly welcoming.  We wanted to have more connection to the community."   see below....

Now what about your church building is it welcoming....does it connect to the community???
But lets go a bit further does your congregation connect to the it welcoming???
And what are some steps we can do to connect with the community.....

Thursday, July 12, 2012

DVD Bible Study: Death....then what???

Death....... then what?

That we all die is pretty much agreed upon, it's what takes place two seconds later that makes us wonder. Explore this lively and completely relevant topic in Death ... Then What? 

Softening death with euphemisms or denying its approach with cosmetic surgery doesn't change the fact it's there -- waiting for us all. Eating healthy, avoiding vices and exercising regularly are all touted as ways to get more mileage from our bodies. And while these practices may increase physical performance, they will not put the skids on our demise. Looking beyond our mortal lives here, man has formulated complex religions, philosophies and ideologies to attempt a glimpse behind the final curtain, dropping on each of us, when we close our eyes in this world for the last time. 

Innovative as these systems of thought may be, they offer no solace against the perfect judgment of an omniscient and righteous God. That relief is available only through Jesus' redemptive work on the cross. In Him all the speculations of religious thought and baffling intricacies of philosophical inquiry come crumbling down. As God's creatures -- as sinners -- the end of our days is entirely in His hands. In this fact neither our clever wordplay nor our comedic explanations will do us any good, but only faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 

To view an introductory clip or the entire dvd bible study along with study notes visit  here 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Paper: from LWF Responding to pentecostal influences

“Responding as Lutheran Churches to Pentecostal Influences Today”  

As Lutheran churches in Africa, and in many places throughout the world, we are surrounded by various types of Pentecostal churches. These churches emphasize the importance of accepting Jesus Christ as one’s personal Lord and Savior and being “born again” through “Spirit baptism,” gifts of the Spirit such as speaking in tongues, deliverance from the forces of evil and the ills of daily life, inspired lay leadership and expressive praise worship with powerful preaching and praying. In addition, more recent forms of neo-Pentecostalism also emphasize material prosperity as a sign of God’s blessing.

As Lutherans, we often experience these rapidly growing churches as competitive threats since  their popular appeal may attract some of our members. Sometimes charismatic features associated with Pentecostal churches–such as testimonials, healing, exorcism and praise worship–have been incorporated into the life of our churches. Spiritual gifts practiced by some members, such as speaking in tongues, may be tolerated rather than rejected. This is not new, since throughout church history, established churches have often been challenged by various renewal movements of the Spirit, which at first tended to be rejected, but later were
incorporated, or became sources of learning and renewal for the whole Church.

We are thankful and praise the Triune God for all the spiritual gifts and fruits of the Spirit with which God has blessed the whole Church, including faith itself. Lutherans need not react defensively to those who question whether the Spirit is active in and among us, or feel in competition with Pentecostal churches. Our rich theology of the Holy Spirit is central to how the Triune God is active in our lives and world, creating, redeeming and sustaining all of life.  

As Christians, we receive the fullness of God’s Spirit in many ways, but especially through baptism with water and through the Word. God’s decisive action through baptism, apart from any initiative on our part, rules out the need for any second (“believers’” or “Spirit”) baptism. In baptism, we are buried and rise with Christ, a drama which is repeatedly reenacted in worship. Luther certainly knew the power of demons.
Consequently, in Lutheran baptismal liturgies, the congregation denounces the powers of evil, the devil and all the ways in which sin draws us from God, and confidently confesses faith in the Triune God. Through
baptism, we are “possessed” by the Spirit to live in communion; spiritual gifts flow from this indwelling. Liturgies explicitly remembering baptism remind us of the power we received when we were baptized. This power continues to be renewed in us today, especially through Holy Communion.

The Spirit who animated the church at Pentecost is active in many ways today. We need to acknowledge and affirm more clearly the many ways in which the Spirit is active in our lives, in churches and beyond the church. There is no deficit of the Spirit’s gifts and fruits in Lutheran churches! We only need to confess boldly what we believe, teach it and live it out.

Some theological questions and concerns

We appreciate and can learn from the vitality and some of the practices of the Pentecostal  churches. At the same time, we must raise some theological questions about what is being taught and practiced by some of these churches, and what this implies for us as Lutherans. For example:
• In Pentecostal churches, is there an overemphasis on personal, immediate spiritual experience to the neglect of critical theological reflection, that is, faith seeking understanding? While theology is important for communicating the faith meaningfully to people today, have Lutherans sometimes overly emphasized theology and undervalued spiritual experiences?
• Is there too much focus on ecstatic “spiritual highs” to the neglect of the many less dramatic ways in which the Spirit is continually enlivening, sustaining and empowering human beings, communities and the rest of creation?
• How active the Spirit is in a church is sometimes measured by a dramatic increase in membership, but is the Spirit necessarily less active when this is not the case? The Spirit is also active in forming structures that can sustain churches over the long term.
• We receive God’s Spirit through the Word and sacraments. Have the life transforming and healing powers of baptism and Holy Communion been overlooked?
• Is the Holy Spirit emphasized to the neglect of the other ways in which the Triune God is active in our lives and in the rest of creation? Do Pentecostals have a sufficiently triune understanding of who God is and the different ways in which God acts in the world?  
• The heart of the gospel, God’s undeserved gift of grace, is, for example, compromised by implying that blessings of prosperity or healing will come to people because of their faith, prayers or works.
• Does concentrating on whether individuals are saved or blessed limit the scope of how God is involved in our lives and world? Where is the prophetic critique and call to transform social, economic, political and environmental injustices?
• While the Bible is the privileged witness to God’s Word, it must not itself be deified. We must question tendencies to read the Bible in literalistic ways, or apart from its wider context, or in ways that deny rather than affirm life for all today. A Christological hermeneutic is central for Lutherans. The Spirit is present as we read and interpret the Bible in community with one another, thereby counterbalancing our own subjective
• Central for Lutherans is the cross, transforming our present experiences of suffering and death. In some Pentecostal churches, a theology of glory seems to overshadow a theology of the cross; Easter is emphasized to the neglect of Good Friday. Some Lutherans, on the other hand, may overly emphasize the cross instead of the new life and joyful exuberance of the resurrection.
• Some Pentecostals seem to focus primarily on life after death, whereas others focus too much on material prosperity and success in this world. How can material well-being and eschatological hope be kept in tension with each other, such as through the Lutheran paradox of being both “in but not of this world”?

• Is there sufficient appreciation of how both the sacred/holy and the secular/profane are arenas in which God is active, or does the sacred tend to “take over” all that is secular? How can a Lutheran “two governances” framework help?
• What audience do neo-Pentecostals appeal to—the poor or the upwardly mobile—and what are they being offered? What does emphasizing that God provides material blessings say to those who continue struggling for their basic survival? On the other hand, what does a focus on the spiritual to the neglect of material needs imply about the scope of God’s concern?
• Prosperity has to do with how resources are rightly distributed among all. If we do not prosper together there is no prosperity. Giving or sacrificing to God should not be done in order to prosper.
• Being blessed by God should not be measured by what people “have.” A person’s health and wealth should not be seen as indications of a right relationship with God. On the other hand, poverty must not be glorified. When people move up, they sometimes move out of the Lutheran church; how do we relate to those who are prospering?
• Placing too much emphasis on healing through prayer and the laying on of hands, and trusting in God alone to heal, can lead to the danger of no longer seeking medical care and treatment. As Lutherans, we disagree with this. On the other hand, if churches only provide medical care without addressing people’s spiritual needs they become only secular NGOs. The healing power of both God and medicine are needed.
• If exorcism is to be practiced, then criteria, guidelines and training are needed. There is a great danger of exorcism being misused. A focus on casting out demons can avoid going to the root of the problem. Dialogue beforehand with the person affected, along with careful discernment and psychological assessment, are necessary. Further, the demonic may be present not only in persons but also in oppressive social, economic and political realities. How can these be exorcised?
• Some assume that neo-Pentecostalism is popular in Africa because it draws upon African spirituality. On the contrary, it typically rejects indigenous cultural beliefs and practices. Instead, its popularity may be due to a globalized “Americanization.” Neo-colonizing, homogenizing forces are at work here, including in the kind of worship and songs commonly used.
• Do some leaders of Pentecostal churches reflect roles previously played by religious shamans or political rulers? Are some Pentecostal leaders too self-absorbed and focused on building their own “kingdoms” in competition with other churches, to the neglect of being ecumenically involved? Is this also the case for some Lutherans?

Lutherans especially need to give further attention to the following:
To relate theology to people’s daily life challenges: many of Luther’s writings addressed the challenges of his day; we need to do the same today.
To understand and appreciate the whole scope of how the Holy Spirit is active: the Spirit is active in our lives, in how we relate to one another in church and society and throughout creation. The Spirit may use us, for example, to speak the truth even at great risk. Renewal movements, where the power of God’s Spirit has been especially evident, have often emerged in times of economic turmoil and political persecution.
To explore more deeply the meaning of sanctification: the Holy Spirit makes us “good”–we are not so on our own. The Holy Spirit empowers us to forgive and to do good, even to our enemies. But is sanctification totally the work of God in us, or is there a sense in which we participate with God? Might this be understood as God cracking open our self-centeredness and turning us toward others, so that we participate in God who is love?

Recommendations for those planning and leading worship
Worship should be dynamic, creative and participatory and not a “one-person show” led only by the pastor or evangelist. Bring the altar and the people closer together. Encourage members to exercise their various gifts in worship and other activities of the congregation.
A good balance is needed between order/tradition and spontaneity/experience. Although the apostle Paul had concern for good order, he still did not prohibit speaking in tongues. Be open to spontaneous expressions of emotions, such as lament or joy.
Concentrate less on set forms or structures and more on how effectively to communicate the faith in relation to the daily concerns, needs and problems facing the people. Luther had a sense of the holy pressing into the ordinary aspects of life; incorporate this more into worship.
Use local languages whenever possible. Sermons should provide the opportunity for responses from or dialogue with the people.
The power of the Holy Spirit is experienced especially through prayer. It is personally empowering when persons and concerns are named specifically in the church’s intercessory prayers.
Be creative with different parts of the liturgy, bringing in fresh symbols and dramatic actions.  For example, consider how absolution itself is a holy kairos. Emphasize what can be seen and touched, as well as that which can be heard. Consider incorporating ancestral traditions in appropriate but not uncritical ways. Appreciate that not only the sermon but also the whole liturgy and our participation in it give us a foretaste of God’s salvation.
Songs used in worship should be theologically sound, drawing upon the rich Lutheran and other historic traditions, as well as being lively and creative, engaging people and local cultures today. Intentional efforts should be made to find, select and create appropriate music for worship. The theology conveyed in popular songs associated with Pentecostal praise and worship, also used in many Lutheran congregations, should be carefully examined. For example, are the words focused mostly on the intimate relationships with Jesus, to the neglect of agape love that overflows to the neighbor? Are there gender differences in how women and
men relate to the erotic imagery in these songs? Why do so few songs express anger toward God, or invite us to wrestle with God, or remind God of what God has promised? How can a wider array of human emotions and responses to God be reflected in the music used in worship?

Recommendations related to education
There is an urgent need for all church members to understand distinctive theological emphases associated with Lutheranism, and how these speak to their daily lives and challenges today. What does it mean not only to worship Jesus but also to follow him? The Lutheran church has been known as a teaching church, but in many congregations today there are almost no educational programs beyond Sunday worship. Consider weekday educational opportunities, workshops, home visits, Bible studies, and discipleship groups.  Relating to people, caring for their actual needs and educating all members are all important but impossible for the pastor to carry out when one pastor is serving a number of congregations. Training more lay persons to carry out this work is essential. Teaching centers for ordinary Christians need to be built up and strengthened in order to prepare them to take over various responsibilities as volunteers in the church. The gifts and ministries of all God’s people need to be nurtured and developed.
Too often Lutherans turn to the widely marketed and readily available publications from Pentecostal perspectives that are inconsistent with Lutheran theology. We need to develop and publish educational resources that discuss basic questions of faith, doctrine, ethics and spirituality in ways that are easily accessible and available, so that people will be better informed about what Lutherans believe and practice.
In theological institutions, deepen the basis for theological encounters with Pentecostals.
Invite them to participate with us in theological education, aware that as such movements mature, the need for theological work becomes more important.

Dialogue with Pentecostals
Finally, we should make efforts to pursue dialogue with Pentecostals, when and where appropriate, on questions such as those raised above. We yearn that the unity of the Triune God might be seen in us, Christ’s one Church. With that hope, we seek to communicate and build bridges with those with whom we have differences. We do so with critical discernment yet in the strong conviction that the Spirit is actively working through our efforts.

12 August 2008

This message is based on the presentations and discussions at the LWF (Department for Theology and Studies) theological seminar, “Critical Lutheran beliefs and practices in relation to neo-Pentecostalism,” meeting 6-11 July, 2008 in Soweto, South Africa.

for a pdf copy visit here