Saturday, May 31, 2014

EBook: A God who speaks and acts by Malcolm Bartsch

Dr Malcolm Bartsch's free ebook:   A god who speaks and acts - theology for teachers in Lutheran schools 

This book contains the theological essentials for Lutheran educators and is written in a way which is not only understandable but can be applied in the daily challenges of school teaching, learning and planning. I strongly encourage chaplains, teachers and principals
to read and consider these theological essentials to enhance their understandings, discussions and daily work.

Chapters include:
Chapter 1: A God who speaks and acts
Chapter 2: Word of God: living, active and creative.
Chapter 3: God created and creates
Chapter 4: Sin and God’s response of grace
Chapter 5: God as a human being and theology of the cross.
Chapter 6: God makes people holy: the work of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 7: New life in Christ.
Chapter 8: New life in Christ in church and society 
Chapter 9: Christian Worship.

This ebook is available at

and as a kindle book

Commentary Series: Feasting on the Word

Feasting on the Word products are quickly becoming the go-to resource for not only preachers, but also educators, worship planners, and individuals. Offering focused resources for sermon and worship preparation, education, and personal devotion, most of the resources utilize the biblical texts assigned by the Revised Common Lectionary, while providing an equally accessible resource for nonlectionary readers through the use of extensive Scripture indexes.
After the success of the lectionary-based preaching series, the need for this type of approach to other aspects of church leadership, education, and planning was understood. This began the endeavor to create the ecumenical, downloadable, and lectionary-based curriculum, which incorporates the Feasting on the Word commentary style each week to explore one of the lectionary passages in ways suitable for participants of all ages. Church educators immediately fell in love with the ability of the curriculum to tie-in to worship and for the same Scripture passages to be studied by all ages in the church.
To further assist with worship preparation, the Feasting on the Word Worship Companion series was put into place. Including a multitude of poetic prayers and responsive readings for all parts of worship, the volumes also include questions for reflection and household prayers for morning and evening. The Daily Feast devotionals are another resource in the Feasting on the Word line put in place to not only provide sermon and worship planning tools for preachers and other worship leaders, but also time for devotion for these leaders and all of those in the church. In these devotionals, each day of the week contains Scripture passages for the coming Sunday from the Revised Common Lectionary, excerpts from the commentaries for reflection, a response, and a prayer.
Moving beyond lectionary-based Scripture, Feasting on the Gospels helps to round out the original commentary series for all preachers. In order to explore all four Gospels in their entirety, this offshoot of the original commentary series continues to use the four-perspective track, providing completely new essays on the exegetical, theological, homiletical, and pastoral challenges of the text. Not only does Feasting on the Gospels provide supplementary material to lectionary preachers, but it also succeeds in providing a resource for nonlectionary preachers and worship leaders. To see how Feasting on the Gospels relates to the original Feasting on the Word volumes, click here to see the difference and download free excerpts.
Ultimately, the goal of the Feasting on the Word products has been to serve every function of the church in its own unique way. 

For more details and information about feasting on the word visit

Discussion on the Holy Spirit in the Book of Concord

The Holy Spirit is mentioned 385 times in 82 different articles in the documents that make up the Book of Concord.
The Discussion on the Holy Spirit in the Book of Concord  is a good reference guide for anyone who wishes to discover quickly and read what the Lutheran Confessions say about the Holy Spirit.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Music - its importance from Luther's perspective

A quote from Luther on the importance of music in the life of a Christian...and what it brings.....

There is no doubt that there are many seeds of good qualities in the minds of those who are moved by music. Those, however, who are not moved [by music] I believe are definitely like stumps [of wood] and blocks of stone. For we know that music, too, is odious and unbearable to the demons. Indeed I plainly judge, and do not hesitate to affirm, that except for theology there is no art that could be put on the same level with music, since except for theology [music] alone produces what otherwise only theology can do, namely, a calm and joyful disposition. Manifest proof [of this is the fact] that the devil, the creator of saddening cares and disquieting worries, takes flight at the sound of music almost as he takes flight at the word of theology. This is the reason why the prophets did not make use of any art except music; when setting forth their theology they did it not as geometry, not as arithmetic, not as astronomy, but as music, so that they held theology and music most tightly connected, and proclaimed truth through Psalms and songs. But why do I now praise music and attempt to portray, or rather smear, such an important subject on such a little piece of paper? Yet my love for music, which often has quickened me and liberated me from great vexations, is abundant and overflowing.
Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 49: Letters II. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 49, pp. 427–428). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Pastor coaching - coachnet

Many pastors are benefiting by engaging with a coach.

One organisation that provides coaching for pastors is coachnet..

How does the coaching relationship work?
A coaching relationship--especially a first coaching experience--is different than any other relationship.   Both coach and person being coached--what we at CoachNet call the leader--pour themselves into the relationship, but all the energy and results generated in the coaching relationship are focused on the goals chosen by the person being coached.
The coach is committed to listening first, and strives to ask powerful questions.  All for the benefit of the leader.  The other person.  Coaching is truly a generous's a chance to give to the other person without any regard to what the coach gets back in return.  Think about it, a relationship where someone's goal is to make things better for the OTHER person.

For pastors
You’re a pastor.  You’ve got a full plate.  You’re charged with guiding each individual member’s spiritual development, setting a vision for the congregation’s direction, and running the day-to-day operation of the church.  On top of this, you have to build and sustain healthy relationships with the members of the church in order to be effective.
Plus, this isn’t just any job.  Being a pastor is a calling of the highest order.
Think about this.  Ministry is not just something that you decide to take up.  Your discipleship journey gave you no option…serving God’s people in an existing church, a church plant or other ministry setting was something God picked out for you.  And it’s hard. VERY hard.
The hours are long.  Even the most focused congregation can wander off mission from time to time.  Relationships can go well one minute and poorly the next.  You need someone to come alongside of you to listen, ask good questions, and to help you figure out what comes next.  You need a coach.

For more information

Monday, May 19, 2014

Book: Surprised by the Holy Spirit

Surprised by the Holy Spirit—There Is More for You Than You Think is authored by Pastor Dr Edgar Mayer, a pastor of the Lutheran Church of Australia, serving Living Grace Lutheran Church in Toowoomba.
Surprised by the Holy Spirit provides eye-opening and soul-stirring biblical truths illustrated with real-life experiences that reveal the Holy Spirit’s role in every believer’s life. 
After His resurrection, Jesus promised His disciples that they would be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). What was Jesus promising the disciples—and you? He promised that the Comforter, the Joygiver, the Advocate, the Encourager, and the Spirit of Truth would infuse you with power to boldly and victoriously live a more abundant life. 
Surprised by the Holy Spirit is for everyone who is: 
• Eager to learn more about the Holy Spirit. 
• Battling for victory in spiritual warfare. 
• Curious about speaking in tongues. 
• Hungry for the benefits of the Spirit baptism. 
• Skeptical about Holy Spirit manifestations. 
The interactive study guide in the back of the book is an empowering, personal or small group tool designed to strengthen your spiritual life and reveal the depth of God’s love for you.

Chapters are:

  • The Word alone is not enough
  • The Bible describes the Spirit baptism
  • Receiving the Holy Spirit is for everyone
  • Will you still serve Him
  • The foolishness continues 
  • The battle is on
  • Speaking in tongues is a gift
  • Practical encouragement
  • Plus a study guide

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ebook: Renew 52

50+ Ideas to Revitalize Your Congregation from Leaders under 50
Renew 5250+ Ideas to Revitalize Your Congregation from Leaders under 50is a free e-book, edited by David J. Lose, that features short essays from 54 Christian leaders in 15 different traditions. The authors are guided by the conviction that congregations are the primary place where the Spirit is at work for the renewal of the church. Pick one or read them all—and revitalize your congregation.
The Spirit is moving in exciting ways. We are on the cusp of exciting, if unpredictable, renewal. In spite of the well-documented story of mainline decline, there is a lot of growth, a lot of potential, and a lot of hope in our congregations as well.
Each of the authors in this e-book has had her or his share of challenges and setbacks, but each has also learned from those and continues to dream, work, plan, and lead. And this book pulls together more than fifty of their best ideas for congregational renewal.
It isn’t very often that a book can change the church. Yes, ideas can shape lives, even change practices. But when was the last time a book changed your congregation?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Listening to God - focussing and encouraging mission

The Lutheran Church of Australia's South Australia and Northern Territory asks a fundamental question....
The fundamental question:
What is God’s call on our lives and on our congregations, schools, aged care facilities and other missions, ministries and agencies?
We are not just looking for the best of human wisdom or the latest insight from business or scholarly research. We want to hear God.

We begin to answer that question by listening to God in three different ways
1     Listen to God speaking through his Word
2     Listen to God speaking through each other & those who walked the way before us
3     Listen for God at work in the world

As Christians we never start with a blank sheet of paper. God always takes the initiative. He speaks, we listen and respond. It is not our task to redefine what the church is. God has sent his church into the world with good news. Nor is it our job to decide what the good news is. In fact, we don’t have a mission; we can only join God in his mission.

God gives the gift of leadership, but he doesn’t just speak through bishops, church presidents, pastors and other leaders. He speaks through all members of the church. As Isaiah says, “A little child shall lead them.” [Is 11:6]. We all sit beneath the Word of God, at the feet of Jesus. Of course, we would be foolish to think we are the only ones who do this, or that those who have wrestled with the faith before us have nothing worthwhile to say to us. But we need to begin by listening afresh to the Word of God. That is sometimes difficult when we think we already know what it says. We are helped in listening to what the Word is saying to us today by also listening for what we can learn from our sisters and brothers, including those to whom God has given much and who have thought deeply about it, whether they are in our group, in other places in our world or have gone before us.

The purpose is to initiate a process in our congregations and other communities where through Bible study and listening we develop new maps to guide us on our journey as we participate in God’s mission to our local communities and further afield, including overseas with our partner churches. As in Acts 1:8 we begin locally. If we are engaged in mission in our locally communities we will naturally also want to work with Christian sisters and brothers in Aboriginal ministry and in other countries.

We have provided a resource that assists the people of our church to gather in groups to pray; reflect together on the Word and the wisdom of those who have gone before; to listen to others and to our world and pray some more; and then to feed back to the SA/NT District what they have heard from God about his calling on our lives and our Church. 

To download the complete process and studies visit

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Missional Web site: Dwelling 1:14

Dwelling 1:14 references John 1:14 and the incarnational, missional nature both of Jesus and of those who would follow Him into the world. Dwelling 1:14 is a nonprofit ministry which helps like-minded Jesus-followers connect in their neighborhoods, workplaces and schools for discipling and missional living.  This nonprofit ministry is lead by Greg Finke, an ordained LCMS pastor with more than 20 years experience growing and leading congregations. For the past seven years, he has been discovering how to live missionally, how to disciple missional leaders and how to establish and multiply missional communities.

Every Sunday, your congregation gathers around Jesus through His Word and sacraments, and is then sent out to join Jesus as He carries out His mission in the world. Joining Jesus in His mission is what is meant by missional living.

Dwelling 1:14 helps individuals, families and congregations reorder their lives to seek the Kingdom of God, have more fun, and spend more time enjoying people through missional living. Dwelling 1:14 is not about changing Sunday mornings but about what happens the rest of the week “out there” in the world, where your congregation lives, works and goes to school.  We have found that when people support each other in seeking the Kingdom of God in the places they already live, work and go to school, really cool things begin to happen regularly!

At Dwelling 1:14 you will find:
  • Training options
  • Missional ideas
  • A Blog from Pastor Greg Finke
  • information and encouragement on being Missional

Greg has also written the book:
Joining Jesus on His mission
Joining Jesus on His Mission will alter the way you see your life as a follower of Jesus and take you beyond living your life for Jesus to living life with Jesus. Simple, powerful and applicable insights show you how to be on mission and recognize where Jesus is already at work in your neighborhoods, workplaces and schools. You will feel both relief and hope. You may even hear yourself say, “I can do this!” as you start responding to the everyday opportunities Jesus is placing in your path.

Free EBook: Christ Centered preaching and teaching

Christ-Centered preaching and teaching is a free ebook from the Gospel Project that examines we different perspectives on Christ-centered preaching and teaching featuring:

  • Ed Stetzer, Editor (LifeWay Research)
  • Daniel Block (Wheaton College)
  • David Murray (Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary)
  • Walt Kaiser (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)
  • Bryan Chapell (Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, IL)
To obtain your copy visit

Friday, May 02, 2014

Book: The Social Church - a theology of digital communication

This book is for Christians who are advocates of social media and who want to learn better about how to use these new technologies to further the Kingdom of God. Justin Wise speaks about social media as this generation's printing press-a revolutionary technology that can spread the gospel further and faster than we can imagine.

Did you know that you can see reviews of a church on Google Maps or Yelp? 
Have you considered what new people might find your church through a friend's social media? 
How often have you talked about "reaching people where they are" -and realized that much of the time, they are on the internet?
Are we ready to think theologically about our digital age and reach people for Christ in a new way?

Editorial Reviews
Justin Wise connects the power of social media with the potential for life-changing ministry in a completely fresh, easy-to-understand, and relevant way. His energy and wisdom bleed through the pages. He gets it. He totally gets it and now you can too. The Social Church is a must-read for all Christian leaders called to serve in this time and space.
Tami Heim, president and CEO of Christian Leadership Alliance, coauthor of @stickyJesus: How to Live Out Your Faith Online

The rumors are true: Justin Wise knows his stuff. Not only does he ask the right hard questions in The Social Church but he boldly challenges the status quo, encouraging churches to embrace digital communications with vision, strategy, and purpose.
Carrie Kintz, Digital Communication Strategist, Focus on the Family

Justin is a knowledgeable and accomplished practitioner of social media strategy and tactics as well as a practiced speaker on the subject. He consistently creates and publishes useful content that goes beyond mere thoughts and opinions to include the tools he uses for success and the tactics and techniques for others to become successful.
Chris Giovagnoni, Social Media Marketing Program Manager, Compassion International

Justin Wise is the real deal. He is passionate about local churches and assisting them in connecting with a new generation. He brings creative and innovative thinking to each training, but more than that, you'll find in him a genuine heart of service with a purpose.
Haley Veturis, Social Media Manager, Saddleback Church

Justin has handled social media for both our SCORRE and Platform conferences in the last year and we couldn't be more pleased.
He understands the power of social media and the benefits that come when it's used correctly. Most importantly, he accomplished our goal: people who weren't at the event felt like they were and were encouraged to sign up for the next one.
Michael Hyatt, New York Times bestselling author, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers

Thursday, May 01, 2014