Friday, October 31, 2014

videos: Luther's morning and evening prayers

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

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

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

MP3 tune available:

Sheet music available:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are never too old (illustration/discussion starter_

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

Advent music, songs, hymns and carols

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

Article:  What songs work well in Advent?

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

Singing the Lectionary Advent Hymn/Song Suggestions

Oregon Catholic Press Listing of Advent Hymns

St Johns College Choir Advent Carols

ChoralWiki listing of Advent hymns

Pastor Peters of Grace Lutheran Church Advent hymn suggestions

Lutheranhymnal suggestions

Praise and Worship Songs for Advent

Reform Worship traditional and contemporary songs

Lutheran Church of Australia Worship Planning

Advent 1
Advent 2
Advent 3
Advent 4

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

Worship Current - Contemporary Songs for Advent

Acoustic Guitar forum - Contemporary Worship Songs for Advent

Song and Praise hymn suggestions

Advent Music on Youtube

Article: 3 things to aim for in Advent

Check out this article from Jamie Brown, which encourages us to build anticipation, express lament and encourage people to be still

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


The following link is a listing of Australian & New Zealand artists/bands who have released contemporary music CD’s.  They either currently have, or have had in the past, a connection with the Lutheran Church of Australia.  If you know of any other artists/bands who are not already mentioned on this list, please email me at .
Take a look at the list of  Australian and New Zealand Lutheran artists who have released CDs .

2015 Australian Christian Diary

The Australian Christian Diary is published especially with Christian laypeople and the Church Worker in mind.
Clean quality white paper for easy writing
Durable vinyl cover (insert for holding notes & cards etc)
Bible reading suggestion for each day
3 year lectionary bible readings
Church Year Festivals
Australian holidays & school terms
Week to an opening
3 year calendar
Pocket size approx. 9cm x 16cm

Cost:  $12 or $10 for 3 or more 

Available from Australian Church Resources

Devotion Book: Time Out 2015...God Calls

The popular devotion book for 2015
This book provides Christian devotions, by Australian writers, for each day of the calendar year.
Each meditation, edited by Greg Lockwood, is a “time –out” of about 3 plus minutes and consists of a Bible reading, some thoughts on that passage, and a short prayer. The meditation is based on the lectionary Bible reading for the day. The devotion writers’ thoughts are life-related and centered on the message of God’s love for people shown in Jesus Christ. The devotions can be used for individuals, families and groups. As you read and meditate, listen, as God calls.

Cost:  $20

Available from Australian Church Resources

Small Group Study: Grandparents passing on the faith

Many members in our churches today feel a deep hurt that their grandchildren do not have faith in Jesus and have a deep desire to more effectively share their faith with their grandchildren.
The aim of this study guide is to support grandparents in passing on the faith to their grandchildren.
This study is not exhaustive and it doesn’t offer easy answers to the complex issues of cross generational faith sharing.  Rather, it is designed to be a beginning point, a place to begin exploring some of the issues and arriving at some solutions. It is a study for groups recognizing the benefit and necessity for mutual sharing and encouragement.
Study One: ‘God loves my grandchildren even more than I do” (Part 1)
This first study is split into two sessions. It explores God’s love for our grandchildren, for us and for our world.
Study Two: ‘God loves my grandchildren even more than I do” (Part 2)
This study continues the exploration of God’s love for our grandchildren, for us and for our world.
Study Three: ‘Always Learning’
This study helps us to recognize the importance of being life-long learners in Christ. It challenges us to see ourselves growing in new ways which will help us to more effectively the share the faith with our grandchildren.
Study Four: ‘The Grandparents Advantage’
This study looks at the many advantages that are inherent in being a grandparent and the opportunities this special relationship with grandchildren has in sharing faith.
Study Five: ‘The Nitty-Gritty’
Our final study explores practical ways of sharing faith with your grandchildren that can be integrated into your everyday life.

Cost $6 or $5 for 10 or more

Available from Australian Church Resources

Book: My Communion Book

My Communion Book by Diana Murrie  Revised by Pastor Richard Haar in 2014 is a child's guide to Holy Communion
My Communion Book will help children gain a better understanding of Holy Communion.
This all-age resource for children and families is primarily aimed at 6 to 10 year olds.
It can be used initially as a sharing book and teaching resource, adult and child reading together, but children may use it at times on their own. Taking the child through the service, the book explains key words and asks questions that relate directly to the child, helping them to engage with the service of Holy Communion in a fun, interesting and meaningful way. An excellent resource to introduce first communion to a child.
Cost $8 or $7 for 10 or more copies

A First Communion Companion guide to assist pastors and families in talking to their children. 

Available from Australian Church Resources 

Myers Briggs Personality Profiles and Christianity

Myers Briggs has been used extensively in organisations to help build teams, to help people understand themselves and the other people they work and live with.   It is a helpful tool for many team leaders....

Myers Briggs Test and free profiles offers a free test and profile, which many people have said are so accurately scarey....they also offer a more advanced profile for a fee

Biblical Characters

Articles on using Myers Briggs in Christian ministry
How your temperament will impact your ministry

The use of the MYERS BRIGGS instrument in sanctification of life and marriage relationships

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Christian Spirituality

Myers - Briggs personality descriptors including bible verses, contribution to the Spiritual Community, Leadership style, preferred environment for service, common confessions, possible spiritual helps and traps

Books for Leaders 

Video: 3 colours

This video from St Georges Anglican Church, Ontario has developed this short video to help you and others visually understand how you are involved in God's mission.

Christmas plays/pageant - no or low rehearsal

Not every congregation has the people to rehearse for weeks Christmas plays...however there is another or low rehearsal Christmas/Nativity plays....

From still waters

The best intergenerational Christmas Pagaent ever

From building faith

Angel poems - 5 scripts

From Kidsfriendly 

Church Publishing incorporated

From Family Worship

Instant Christmas Pagaent

We would appreciate any other suggestions email

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bulletin teaching snippets: Evangelism involves.....(Jan-Feb '14)

The following Evangelism involves...snippets appeared in the Portland-Heywood Lutheran Church bulletin in January and February 2014

Evangelism involves sharing what is good about God’s church (His people)
Take some time to think about your conversations about God and the church over the last week or two.  Have they been dominated by positive, good news or negative, bad news?
One day two brothers Mark and Matthew who went to the same church left church and went to visit their mother who was sick in bed.  When they arrived their mother asked, how was church?   To which Mark replied…. not good…the sermon went for too long, the singing was dreadful, someone forgot to put on the heaters, there were some strange people there who sat in the Jones’ pew which upset them and the coffee was terrible…She then turned to Matthew who replied…..ahh the sermon was spot on Pastor made some great points and I was able to understand something a bit clearer I had been struggling with, it was great to have a couple of new songs, there were four new families and two of them said they would be joining us, Mr Rupert who hadn’t been at church since he had the argument with Joshua was back and I had a great conversation with your friend Ida over coffee.   Their mother said “did you both go to the same church?….Matthew can you pick me up next week and take me to your church?”
The reality is in church many things are happening….some good and some not so good…at times even the one event can be seen as good by some but not good by others.   God encourages us to speak what is good about His church, which means talking what is good about His people to others, because that is part of sharing God’s good news.  

Evangelism involves praying
Prayer is essential in the Christian's life.  Without it your witness will be far less effective and you will be far more vulnerable to the enemy.  When you witness, you need the blessing and support of the Lord.  You need to be in fellowship with Him.  Prayer makes this all possible.
When you witness you plant the seeds of the Gospel, but it is God who causes the growth (1 Cor. 3:6-7).  In prayer you ask God to give that growth.  In prayer you ask God to convict the unrepentant of their sin and by that awaken in them the need for salvation.  In prayer you, "...let your requests be made known to God," (Phil. 4:6).  Think about your own life, there have been many people praying for you .
What to pray for:
Pray for more people to witness.  (Matt. 9:37-38). 
Pray for compassion for the lost.  (Romans 10:1)
Pray for the desire to witness. 
Pray for boldness.  (2 Tim. 1:7-8).
Pray to the Lord to bind Satan and his angels.
Pray for your needs.  (Phil. 4:6)

Evangelism involves allowing God to use you today, as you are and where you are!!!
Sometimes we think we need to change and be better before we can evangelise and be God’s witnesses.   Bible studies and courses, especially in the area of evangelism and witnessing are good and helpful, they will help you understand God better and how better to be one of His disciples.  That is why we encourage everyone in our congregation to be part of a life group.  However to be a witness for God and evangelise on His behalf we can begin today.  1st Corinthians 1:18-31 reminds us that it is ultimately not about us….but about God.  So it is about what God is doing for us, in us and through us.  
Take a few moments today to consider what has God done for you, how has God changed you and how is God calling you to live differently.   Then be prepared to share with the other people in your life through what you say and do. 

Evangelism involves being influenced by God to be an influencer on god’s behalf
Ephesians chapter 2 verse 10 says For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  As Christians who worship regularly and study the bible frequently we are constantly being influenced by God.  We have the opportunity to see the world and our life differently, especially to have hope that extends way past our life on this earth.   God’s influence on us can also have an impact on others, when we understand that we are also called to be God’s influencers amongst the people we interact with.  Take a moment to think about who am I mixing with….what do they need to hear and know about God….Is there an opportunity to speak a word of Godly hope?  Is there an opportunity to show someone that they are loved even though they may not deserve it?  Is there an opportunity help someone see the church and other people differently?  Look for the opportunities for God to use you to influence someone around you this week. 

Evangelism involves being patient
2 Peter 3:9 reminds us that  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.   Patience is an important quality for everyone involved in helping others become disciples.  As we share and re-share the Gospel with people it can be easy to become disenchanted if people are not responding instantly.   But remember God’s Gospel involves change in attitudes, belief and behaviour.  And most people by nature struggle when it comes to change, especially change that involves acknowledging they didn’t have it right or all together.  However over time, God through people like me and you constantly sharing His word verbally and in action, will affect people and overcome their resistance to change so they can enjoy eternal life. 

Evangelism involves loving as God loves……
In Matthew 5:44-45 and Matthew 5:48 we hear Jesus say: But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven….. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.   This is a big call, to love like God loves!!!  The type of love we should aim to share with others, should replicate the love God has for us if we are aiming to live as God’s disciples.    Romans 5:8 clearly indicates what this love looks like… But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  In other words whilst we were living as enemies to God…God was still loving us….Now there are many situations in our lives where we will encounter people who will oppose us, who will act as if they are our enemies….God’s call for us is to keep  the mission he has given us in mind, to make disciples of all nations, when responding to them.  Ask yourself how can I show God’s love and grace to people so that I can help them be God’s disciples?   

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

Article: The wonder of Luther's catechisms

Luther’s Catechisms were, along with the Bondage of the Will, the only works of his which he considered worthy of preserving after he had died.   To those familiar with his life and writings, that is remarkable.  True, like all prolific writers, he wrote his fair share of junk; and unlike many such, he wrote his fair share of disgraceful venom as well.   But to reduce his lasting contribution to a couple of catechisms and a polemic against a slippery man of letters seems a rather harsh judgment on his own work.
Yet there is a logic to this.   Anyone who has read Luther’s Small Catechism will no doubt be struck by the simplicity both of its structure and its language.  It is a masterpiece of Christian pedagogy.  One reason for this, rarely noted, is that Luther was the first person to write a question and answer catechism who did so after first becoming a parent himself.   If Christ demanded that his disciples should become as little children, Luther the theologian knew first-hand what that meant in terms of practicalities.
In fact, the Small Catechism represents Luther’s Reformation insight in both form and content.  Not only does its teaching set forth justification by grace through faith, its form does so too, with its encouragement of childlike curiosity resolved by a childlike trust of God’s revelation in Christ.  Rarely have form and content so perfectly matched each other in the history of Christian pedagogy.
The other significance of the catechisms is that Luther wrote them in the late 1520s when he was beginning to realize that Christ was not about to return and that the Reformation needed more ethical shape than he had anticipated.  The official visitation of the parishes had revealed that, to use Luther’s own description, the people were living like pigs.  The Reformer was faced with the fact that love, the dynamic motive for good works in his theology, had a specific ethical shape which needed to be explained in clear, simple, and precise terms to the people.
Any thoughtful pastor knows that the simple declaration of the great gospel indicatives of the life and death of Jesus Christ, God-for-us, will probably be sufficient for a small portion of his congregation to be able to connect the dots to a particular way of life.  But for most Christians, more guidance is needed.  In a world where the media preach a message of sexual license, selfishness, and material greed on a daily basis, people need a pastor to be a true under shepherd and to guide the sheep. They need constantly to be reminded that the Christian life of grateful love to God follows a particular ethical pattern.  That is where the simple catechetical imperatives of Luther’s Small Catechism can be so helpful.  Here the voice of a gentle father encourages and guides his children into appropriate behavior which reflects their status as those who are loved and protected by their true Father, God himself.
Finally, Luther’s Small Catechism points us to another vital element of church life: the simple preservation of the profound faith.  I would suggest that, if it is in the Catechism, it is important; if it is not there, then it is not so vital.  Sadly, I suspect that a glance at today’s evangelical conference circuit will reveal that the simple elements of catechetical Christian teaching are not enough to attract customers.  We want something unusual or interesting: how Christianity connects to art or movies  or (that most overworked term) culture.  How often do we see yet another book, video or sermon series on sex because ‘the church doesn’t talk about it enough?’  I wonder how many consumers of such products could actually recite the Apostles’ Creed or the Ten Commandments, let alone articulate a basically orthodox Christology. The lesson of books like Luther’s Small Catechism is that, while sex might sell, simple truth nurtures, fortifies, and serves us well in life’s deepest and darkest moments.

Written by Carl R. Trueman is Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Ambler, Pennsylvania. His book Luther on the Christian Life will be available in February 2015. 
This article appeared at

Monday, October 27, 2014

Web Series: Leaving Eden

Leaning Eden is a web series about:
A pastor’s life is too much to carry alone.
Ben Nicholson faces the strains of an extraordinary job – life, death, heaven, hell. Divorce, sickness pain. Just a day in the life of a Lutheran pastor. His wife wishes for more. The new recruit thinks he can do it better.
Leaving Eden looks at the struggles of a pastor as he and his family deal with the incredible demands of his job.  On the verge of losing sight of what once pulled him to this calling, he struggles with balance between a calling, a job, and life.

What others are saying:
"As a Lutheran pastor's wife of 32 years I really appreciate this series. " - Vicki

"The series clearly reflects an insider's view of the real-world life of the pastor's family, as well as a behind-the-scenes view of the good, bad, and ugly in parochial life, including a new convert, a teacher in what seems to be the parochial school, members of the church council, the church secretary, and of course, the vicar. " -­m

Leaving Eden episodes can be viewed here

Visit Leaving Eden home page

Saturday, October 25, 2014

New Lutheran Bible Translation: Wartburg Project

"The Wartburg Project” is a group of Lutheran pastors and professors who are working together to produce a new translation of the Bible,  that communicates the gospel clearly to today’s people

Dr. John Brug, Professor of Systematic Theology and Old Testament at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary is serving as the general editor and Old Testament editor, and Rev. Brian Keller, Pastor at St. Stephen Evangelical Lutheran Church, Adrian, MI is serving as the New Testament editor. So far, we have twelve translators working on producing drafts of the Old Testament, and fourteen translators producing drafts of the New Testament. We are blessed with roughly double that number of technical reviewers, who review and examine the text for accuracy on the basis of  the original Hebrew and Greek. One example is Professor-emeritus David Kuske of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, who is helping us determine the best N.T. manuscript evidence and serving as a translator/technical reviewer. We are pleased to be working with around 90 participants and counting. They come from the ELS and all 12 districts of the WELS.

The product to be produced by the Wartburg Project could best be called a translation/revision. Although our translation will be based on the Hebrew and Greek texts, templates are being used as a starting point in the translation process. This will build on the tradition of English and Lutheran Bible translation. The primary resources, of course, are the original Hebrew and Greek texts. We are standing on the shoulders of giants, making use of the World English Bible (WEB), which is a descendant of the King James Version (KJV) and the American Standard Version (ASV). We are also grateful to CPH and NPH for making their Lutheran translations available to us.

Sample translations of Matthew and Psalms are available on kindle for under $1


For further information visit

Friday, October 24, 2014

EBook: My Life in Christ: A Course in Adult Instruction in the Christian Faith

My Life in Christ: A Course in Adult Instruction in the Christian Faith written by Pastor Krueger, a pastor with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

Sessions include:

  • Relationship – Not Religion
  • Words of Life – The Bible 
  • God the Father – Creator
  • Sin and Temptation 
  • Jesus Christ – God With Us 
  • Jesus Christ – The Savior 
  • The Holy Spirit – Who Works Faith 
  • Baptism – A Birthday Celebration
  • The Lord’s Supper – God With Us
  • A New Life in Christ 
  • The Worshiping Community 
  • Discipleship or Membership? Yes!
  • Discipleship Covenant 
Currently available on kindle for around $1

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book: Lutheran Bible Companion

Tap into the treasures of God s Word with the Lutheran Bible Companion, the first-ever comprehensive guide to the Bible featuring commentary that reflects Lutheran theology.

In this two-volume set, readers find new understanding for personal meditation or preaching in the expansive timeline of the Old and New Testament, as well as the Intertestamental Era. Fascinating insights on the Bible s themes provide additional depth:

Theological topics and literary features found in each book of the Bible
Significant events, people, and places found in detailed outlines and maps
Biblical reflections from Martin Luther and Johann Gerhard
Color photography and art illustrating stories, daily life, and landscapes (600+)
Hardback. 2 volumes. 1,128 and 1,016 pages.

Take a peek of the Lutheran Bible Companion here

Book: Prayers from the dust (theological poetry)

"Prayers From The Dust" journeys abstractly through the church seasons of Lent, Easter, and Advent, tracing the Christian life as its caught between the mountains and the valleys in moments of suffering, faith, repentance, joy and doubt. Written for a modern audience, "Prayers From The Dust" approaches Christ as its object of faith, whose healing and restoring power brings light to darkness, and speaks truth to weary souls so that new life can begin.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Article-Preaching: Three tips to avoid the Lutheran meat grinder

Paul tells us in Philippians 4: “Rejoice in the Lord always!” Stick that in the Lutheran Meat Grinder and your sermon looks like this:

Paul tells us to rejoice.

But, because of our sinfulness, we fail to rejoice.
So Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins of not rejoicing.
And now, in the power of the Spirit, we can rejoice!

The author to the Hebrews encourages us: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us!” Put that through the Lutheran Meat Grinder and you get:

God want us to run with endurance.

But, because of our sinfulness, we fail to run with endurance.
So Jesus ran His race to the cross for us, to forgive our sins of not enduring.
And now, in the power of the Spirit, we can run with endurance!

No matter if the text seeks to comfort, challenge, forgive, call to repentance, inspire action, or invite to prayer, you can make it say the same orthodox thing over and over again, turning any sermon into Law, then Gospel, then—if you dare—a little Sanctification at the end.

So how do you remain orthodox, but capture more of the variety expressed in the biblical text itself?
Think Pragmatics- Pragmatics is the study of what a communication does. Is Paul trying to comfort or encourage? Is Jesus calling to trust or life change? Should your people think differently, act differently, or pray differently after this sermon? The Lutheran Meat Grinder always sounds the same, in part because it always tries to do the same thing: preach hearers out of the Kingdom every week, and then preach them back in. Your hearers need to know their sin and Jesus’ forgiveness, and they also need help taking the next step on their journey of faith. They could use some help figuring out how to rejoice always, or what running with endurance looks like, even as they cling to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Focus on one small step the sermon can help the hearers make this week. Think pragmatics.
Vary the Structure- Another reason the Lutheran Meat Grinder produces homiletical sausage that looks the same every week is because of it’s structure: you preach one part Law, then one part Gospel. In this case, our good theology has replaced good practice. It is essential that we trouble the comfortable and comfort the troubled. But the theological insight of Law/Gospel was never supposed to be a sermon structure. In his Third Evening Lecture on Law and Gospel, C. F. W. Walther says, “You must not think that you have rightly divided the Word of Truth if you preach the Law in one part of your sermon and the Gospel in the other. No; a topographical division of this kind is worthless.” Experiment with a variety of structures like Question Answered, Paradox Maintained, Story Interrupted, or Lowry’s Loop. Changing the structure from week to week will help both preachers and hearers stay interested and engaged.
Preach the Unique- Graphic images of faith and life aren’t limited to visions like Daniel or Revelation; even the Pauline epistles are alive with metaphors taken from city life, building construction, agriculture, marriage, parenting, clothing, the human body, household management, slavery, citizenship, the Roman court system, the Old Testament sacrificial system, the marketplace, banking, travel, warfare, the Olympics—and the list could go on. The Lutheran Meat Grinder takes this rich variety and reduces it down to something that sounds the same week after week after week. And while heresy may have killed its thousands, stagnant preaching has killed its tens of thousands. Find what’s unique in the text and preach that. Don’t leave out Law or Gospel: preach both from the unique dynamics of the unique images in the biblical text. Preach what’s unique in the text. Experiment with different structures. And think pragmatics. Your sermons will sound, feel and do something different from week to week.
Your people will be grateful you shelved The Lutheran Meat Grinder. And believe me, preaching will be a lot more fun!
By Pastor Justin Rossow
This article first appeared at

Book: The Mission Table by Stephen Bouman

In a time of declining mainline Protestant church attendance, Bouman reminds us that the Holy Spirit is still very much at work.  It is the mission of our churches to aid God's reconciling and restoring action in the world. This conversation on mission must involve everyone including laypeople, pastors, seminarians, and emerging congregational leaders. Each chapter contains scripture, questions, and activities, allowing for group study, reflection, and action. The goal is ultimately to help every member of the church to live as signs of the God who made the world and who will make all things new.
Contents Page 
  • Mission and the Mainline
  • Table of creation
  • From kitchen table to altar table
  • Seeking hospitality at new tables
  • The congregation - a table for mission
  • Mission table leadership
  • Setting Mission tables
  • Restoring the broken table 

Hope full living - Devotions for Christian Seniors

Hope full living provides daily devotions and other resources for Christian seniors

Book: Real Good church - How Our Church Came Back from the Dead, and Yours Can, Too

Real Good church - How Our Church Came Back from the Dead, and Yours Can, Too
"This is a practical manual of everything our church did," says author Molly Phinney Baskette, "to reverse our death spiral and become the healthy, stable, spirited and robust community it is today—evident in the large percentage of children and young adults in our church, and a sixfold increase in pledged giving in the last decade."
Baskette, pastor of First Church Somerville, UCC in the Boston area, strongly believes her church's strategies will work for any church, in any setting, regardless of denomination, demographics, and political landscape. In this new book, she shares everything her church did, addressing topics such as: outreach and growth strategies, finances and giving, creative worship, church conflict and change, anxiety and humor, and much more.
What makes Real Good Church unique in the field of church growth books? It's practical. It actually tells churches what they can do. . .and how to do it.
It offers beginning and intermediary steps for growth and renewal. Churches, no matter what situation they're in, will be able to jump in and get to work.
It has a sense of humor. Baskette's easygoing, often self-deprecating writing style and approachable strategies will empower the reader and their church to revitalize itself. (If her church could do it, we can, too!)
Real Good Church is a testament to Baskette's and First Church Somerville UCC's success and a gift of hope for all churches that find themselves struggling to keep their doors open.

Doom, Gloom and a kernel of hope
Children's Ministry and Adult Spiritual Formation
Pastoral Care
Pastoral Self Care and Administration
Outreach and social justices
Outreach and  growth
Finance and stewardship
Opening and affirming
Real Good Worship
Church Conflict

Amazon Reviews

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Article: Turnaround Strategies for Small Churches: Which Ones to Use?

Turnaround strategies for small churches was written by Herb Miller for the Parish Paper...ideas and insights for active congregations.
The article discusses:

  • How can small-membership churches move toward maximum effectiveness?
  • Taking actions necessary to move past the three classic membership-plateaus.
  • Fine-tune the worship service toward a format, style, and hymn selection that shows equal respect for the spiritual preferences of all four adult generations.
  • Emphasize concern for children through community service ministries.
  • Remove ministry inhibiting barriers in the church buildings.
  • Increase the percentage of attendees who pray daily.

Advent resources

Advent Candle Lighting
Australian Lutheran World Service
Northern Tasmania Lutheran Parish - characters of Christmas
Advent Year A based on Epistle Readings

Advent Devotions

Lutheran Hour Ministries -  Home for the holidays
Luther Seminary - Your people long to greet you
Lutheran Indian Ministries 
ELCIC - Canada 
Mayer Lutheran School - by staff and students
LCA Commission of Worship - Advent devotion Advent option 1, Advent option 2, Christmas

Advent initiatives

Advent Conspiracy


Textweek includes advent candle lighting liturgies, Jesse tree liturgies, Advent worship planning and resources, hanging of the greens and articles
Grow Ministries Australia - FAITHINK AUST, GIFT child, youth and family resources

Previous Advent links on

If you have an advent resource you would like to share or can recommend some please email with the details