Friday, December 18, 2015

Video Illustration: Will you notice the true beauty of Christmas?

There is a lot happening at Christmas....
But amongst everything that is happening will you notice the true beauty of Christmas
Lindsey Stirling, a magnificent violinist goes down to the subway, without announcement and dressed to fit in....but plays exceptionally...
and she is not noticed....
Like wise Jesus indicated that not everyone will recognise him (read Matthew 25:31-46)

Free Christmas story videos from Holy Moly - Sparkhouse

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reflection: Why retirement thinking is no good for God's ministry!!!!

At some point in everyone's personal life thinking of retirement begins to dominate a person's thinking

On a personal level  this is not so bad, it is another season in a person's life...our lifestyles need to adjust to accommodate the changes taking place in our body and mind, and life's circumstances.

However a major problem arises for the church and God's mission when individuals enforce this thinking on the church and congregations.
Because when people start the retirement thinking they tend to:
look at cutting back
look at reducing the risks they take
say the past was enough
begin structuring their life to make it easier and more comfortable
look for life to be more predictable life
reduce spending,
to decrease their workload
or look at ways to achieve the above.

And if we start thinking like this in relation to our congregation such thinking will lead us to make decisions that will lead the congregation towards retirement....
(Now some congregations maybe in a geographical situation where they will die because there is no people around them....but for most this is not what God expects and it is not our calling in life as Christians.

The call of all disciples, ie. every Christian is to be active in making disciples

So what questions and thinking should we have:

Look around the community your congregation is placed within....and ask the following:

  • How might we connect to this community?  (or what will it take for us to connect the people in this community?)
  • What might we have to do?
  • What might it cost us in money, time and energy?
  • How do we show them that are valuable?
  • What equipping and support might we need, to fulfil the mission calling God has placed before us?
  • What changes do we need to make, so we can make disciples of Jesus?
  • How do the people we are called to reach, learn and feel part of community?
  • How is God calling us to serve Him, by serving the community around us with His word and sacrament that helps connect to Jesus, the one who gives life?

You will notice these questions are not about slowing down, but could lead to a redirection in the way yourself and the congregation operates....

Some further reading
Luke 2:25-38...of an example of an older couple being active in their call as Jesus' disciples
Titus 2:1-5 about how older people are to teach others by example.
Psalm 71:18 says Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation,  your mighty acts to all who are to come.
Joshua 24:14-15  hear what Joshua says just before he died

Also read
John Piper's e-book Rethinking retirement  
Resources relating to retirement

Life Group/Small Group Study: A man named Martin part 1: The Man

A Man Named Martin is a fresh and explorative look at an individual who, down through the centuries, has influenced the Christian church significantly.
The details of Luther's life -- his childhood with his parents Hans and Margaret, his university pursuits, his decision to become a monk, his protestation of Catholic practices, his voluminous and erudite scholastic output, his life in hiding, and his roles as husband and father -- are all considered in this study.

A Man Named Martin - Part 1: The Man
The Man viewers encounter a 15th-century religious reformer from Germany who broke ranks with the Catholic Church. This Bible study is the first of a three-part series devoted to Martin Luther -- a monk whose Spirit-inspired grasp of God's justification of sinners through faith in the Savior was the cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation.
A Man Named Martin Promo from Lutheran Hour Ministries on Vimeo.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Liturgical Calendar for Outlook 2015/16

The liturgical calendar for Outlook 2015/16 relating to Australia and New Zealand is available from

To use the calendar
First down load the calendar
Then Import the calendar to Outlook (follow your Outlook instructions)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Book: 364 of Thanksgiving a devotional journal

Live a life of thankfulness to God every day! This unique devotional--part book, part journal--will teach you what it means to be overwhelmingly thankful. In addition to the 26 uplifting devotions, you'll be encouraged to write down one thing you are grateful for each day of the year. In doing so, you will begin to recognize God's blessings in your life and can flip back to them whenever you need a reminder.

Amazon Reviews

364 Days of thanksgiving Web Site

Book: You can change by Tim Chesterfield

You can change by Tim Chester
It's about heart change, not behaviour change. 
That's the conviction of Tim Chester as he seeks to help everyday Christians "connect the truth about God with our Monday-morning struggles." 
This interactive book, laid out in workbook fashion, is for newer Christians struggling with sin and for more mature Christians who have plateaued in their faith as they seek to find victory over sin.  
With a conviction that sanctification is God's work and the journey to holiness is joyful, Chester guides readers through a "change project"-beginning with the selection of one area of life they would like to modify. 
Each chapter includes a question (e.g., Why would you like to change? What truths do you need to turn to?) to guide readers as they deal with a specific sin or struggle, truths from God's word, and a reflection guide to help readers through their change project.

The book explores

  • What would you like to change?
  • Why would you like to change?
  • How are you going to change?
  • When do you struggle?
  • What truths do you need to turn to?
  • What desires do you need to turn from?
  • What stops you from changing?
  • What strategies will reinforce your faith and repentance?
  • How can we support one another in changing?
  • Are you ready for a lifetime of daily change?

Further details about the book

The Briefing
Amazon reviews
Will Briggs

Monday, November 16, 2015

Book: Honest Evangelism

Honest Evangelism - how to talk about Jesus even when it's tough by Rico Tice and Carl Laferton.

Hostility and hunger that's the response to the message of Jesus.

The first is painful, the second is wonderful, and Rico Tice is honest about both.

Short, clear, realistic and humorous, this book will challenge you to be honest in your conversations about Jesus, help you to know how to talk about him, and thrill you that God can and will use ordinary people to change eternal destinies.

Two halves of the story
Is it worth it?
Why we still won't evangelise!!
What must i remember
What will i say
Be yourself
Getting started (or restarted)
Two things to do
Useful reesources

Review by the Gospel Coalition 

Book: It's Sunday but Monday is coming

It's Sunday but Monday is coming (finding faith for the rest of the week) by Bill Bohline.

For millions of churchgoers, Sunday is a zone unto itself. It is a time to go to a specialized building, to stand, to sit, to pray, to read a bit of Scripture, to give money, to listen, hopefully to encounter God in some way … and then to go out to lunch. Soon comes Monday, and then Tuesday and the other workdays—a very different kind of world. Memories of Sunday quickly fade. The God who was proclaimed in church as almighty, gracious, and nurturing seems not to be near at all. Or at least we don’t see him at work. This is a book that erases that disconnect. It is about welcoming God to show up in the middle of life’s trials and stresses and hardships and questions. It is about letting the gospel transform us, not just inform us. It is about finding a faith that is real and personal, seven days a week.

What others are saying about It's Sunday but Monday is coming....

What an unusual book. Humor. Tragedy. Theology. Reality. But most of all, hope. Some people wonder if Christian faith really works. Here is the resounding answer of “Yes!”
DR. LEITH ANDERSON, president  National Association of Evangelicals

Bill Bohline’s stories provide hope for anyone who simply wants to live a more fulfilling life. I was inspired both at a personal and professional level.
DR. LISA L. SNYDER, superintendent  
Lakeville (Minn.) Area Public Schools

I LOVE this book! Why? Because it’s about life, the one thing none of us asked to get into and have to die to get out of. Bill points us to life so rich and powerful that it triumphs everything.
REGGIE MCNEAL, national speaker and author

Bill is a very gifted communicator who has the ability to tell a story that makes Scripture real, applies to my life, makes me laugh and makes me cry. In this book, Bill’s gift shines, and Jesus is lifted up. 
KRISTI GRANER, director 
Dare to Believe Ministries

As the daily grind and unexpected circumstances begin to overshadow our Sunday devotions, this book sheds light on how to find God’s love. 
JOEL MANBY, president and CEO 
Herschend Family Entertainment (theme parks)

Bill Bohline masterfully weaves humor and Scripture to remind us of a personal God who yearns to be involved with our lives. A fun read … but also a real boost to spiritual growth!
SUSIE SHELLENBERGER Speaker; founding editor of Brio magazine

Pastor Bill’s powerful, faith-filled stories of God at work challenge us all to expect God’s impact and to wait upon the Lord seven days a week, not just on Sunday…. Humorous, captivating, emotionally gripping. 
Dakota County, Minn.

This book quickly awakens our minds, touches our hearts, shows us courage in the face of fears, and brings light to the darkest path. 
PAT MOE, pastor for care ministries 
Hosanna! Lutheran Church

Great humor (often at Bill’s own expense) combine here with unflinching straight talk about the best and toughest parts of life. Throughout the book, we get constant, compelling stories of God’s transformation. 
JOHN CROSBY, senior pastor 
Christ Presbyterian Church, Edina, Minn.

Pastor Bill’s unique writing style will keep you reading (and laughing!), but his message will keep you hungry for more. You’ll discover the same God you worship for an hour on Sunday showing up in the details of your Monday.
MARY J. NELSON, author of Grace for Each Hour


Friday, November 13, 2015

Book: The quest for holiness

The quest for holiness, originally written in 1928 by Adolf Koberele is not merely for theologians but for all who desire a sound, scriptural setting forth of the truths and the implications for each individual embodied in the steps of justification and sanctification.
For simplicity, clarity, and completeness on this subject, this book is unsurpassed.
It is written not merely with ink but with the lifeblood of the true believer striving daily for greater holiness and God-pleasing perfection.

  1. Man’s Attempts to Sanctify Himself in God’s Sight 
  2. God’s Judgment on Man’s Self-Sanctification
  3. Man’s Justification Before God Through the Word of Forgiveness
  4. Sanctification as the Work of God in the Life of the Justified Sinner 
  5. Sanctification as the Answer of the Justified Sinner 
  6. The Significance of Sanctification in the Preservation or Loss of the State of Faith
  7. The Relationship of Justification and Sanctification

About the author
Adolf Köberle was Professor of Systematic Theology in Basel.  He was head of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Seminary 1922-1926.   Köberle primarily wrote about Christian holiness as being motivated by the love of Christ and gratitude to God (rather than being motivated by obligation or fear).

Reader's guide is available here

Book: Finding Tom Sawyer (ministry to boys)

Searching for Tom Sawyer offers parents and church leaders a compelling vision and practical principles for how, together, they can change the storyline of boys dropping off the church scene by forging boys into heroic men.

1.   Lost in the 21st Century
2.   Why do boys do that?
3.   A motivating affirmation for life
4.   A compelling vision for life
5.   An empowering strategy for life
6.   Speaking boy
7.   Building a boy friendly church

"More than 70% of the young men who are raised in church abandon it during their teens and twenties . . . Tim Wright examines the problem and offers real solutions to one of the greatest challenges facing the church today" -David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church The Story of Boys-Lost in the Twenty-first Century:
70% of all Ds and Fs go to boys 85% of stimulant-addressing medications prescribed in the world are prescribed to US boys Boys are falling behind girls in virtually every area of life
70 -90% of boys will leave the church in their teens and early twenties

"No one who cares for boys, and equally no one who cares for kids and families should miss Searching for Tom Sawyer" -Leonard Sweet, professor at Drew University and George Fox University

"Tim Wright's diagnosis of why most of our congregations struggle to connect with guys is eye-opening and stunning . . . As the father of three boys, I wish I'd had this book years ago. As the pastor of a congregation, I'm glad I have it now" -Pastor Jeff Marian, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, Minnesota

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Lutheran suicide prevention ministry

Lutheran suicide prevention ministry was formed to:

  • Increase suicide prevention awareness within Lutheran churches/faith-based communities in order to reduce stigma and shame.
  • Educate congregations and church leaders on appropriate actions to take to prevent suicide and to recover from a suicide death.
  • Make suicide prevention and recovery important ongoing efforts of congregations with an emphasis on local faith-based communities, church leaders, support groups and educational and advocacy programs.
  • Give voice to those who have lost family members or loved ones to suicide, as well as those who have acted on suicidal ideation.
  • Build suicide prevention collaboration among Lutheran, full communion partners, and other faith-based communities.

There are a considerable number of resources for both the clergy and laity.
visit for more information.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

app: Share your faith

Share your faith app
Share your faith app is an app for iphones/ipads/androids that helps you share with Christ with others.

It contains key messages supported by pictures, keywords, bible texts and links to further information.

Share your faith app promo

Share your faith overview

for more information visit

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Book: Sunday schooling our kids out of church by Tim Wright

In his provocative new book, Sunday Schooling Our Kids Out of Church: The True Story of How One Congregation Dropped Sunday School to Save its Soul, author Tim Wright (Searching for Tom Sawyer) suggests that one of the main reasons for the growing number of religious “nones” is that we have been Sunday Schooling our kids out of church for the last 60 years. Using research, his experience on the staff of a Seeker Church for 22 years, and the experience of his new congregation, Tim looks at the unintended consequences of segmenting our kids out of worship into age-graded Sunday school and youth programs, and how we can reclaim our kids for the sake of Christ. While highly practical and filled with insights and ideas on how to move kids back into worship and on how to build a multi-generational congregation, this book is not first and foremost a “how to” book. It is, as Tim writes: A story book. A vision book. A prayer book. A gut-check book.

What Others are Saying about Sunday Schooling Our Kids Out of Church: 
In every movement that God leads, like the current Faith@Home movement, God calls and uses specific churches and individuals to help us see new things for us to consider. In this book you will be introduced to Pastor Tim Wright and Community of Grace Lutheran Church. Community of Grace has committed itself completely to intergenerational ministry. I have seen many churches “experiment” with intergenerational worship but what Pastor Tim is doing takes it to a whole different level. Intergenerational worship is not for every church, but if it’s something you are in any way considering, then you need to read this book. –Mark Holmen, Church+Home: The Proven Formula for Building Lifelong Faith. 

If you love your kids you need to read this book. While the picture of church in culture continues to dim, Tim paints an image of a multi-generational church that dares to experiment with old forms in search of new expressions of the Body of Christ that relate to all ages. Tim's passion jumps off the page and his bold daring is the kind of creativity and innovation the church desperately needs. His examples, which make powerful use of compelling, common stories and metaphors, demonstrate that there is no need to segregate to engage. We can all worship in meaningful ways together. I invite you to follow his courageous leadership. –Len Wilson, church creative, blogger at, and author, Think Like a Five Year Old: Reclaim Your Wonder and Create Great Things (Abingdon Press). 

Controversial pastor Tim Wright isn’t content to "do church like we’ve always done it.” After being in the ministry for 30+ years, he decided to take a step away from the current church trends and assess what works and what doesn’t. Rather, he assessed what God would have him do with the church and what He would not. Specifically, his new book Sunday Schooling Our Kids Out of Church: The True Story of How One Congregation Dropped Sunday School To Save its Soul tells how his church got rid of the institution that has been revered for decades: Sunday School. Did it work? What exactly is he up to? Why does he want children to – you know – actually be in church? Wright’s provocative stance has caused much conversation, hand-wringing, and prayer. But did getting rid of Sunday School help? His new book is not a glossy argument for getting rid of Sunday School nor a heavy handed treatise against the seeker movement. Rather, it’s a thoughtful telling of one church’s story. One church trying to faithfully tend to its congregants. Let the conversation begin!—Nancy French, Four time New York Times best selling author. 

Monday, November 09, 2015

Book: Developing a church planting culture in a confessional Lutheran setting

Developing a church planting culture in a confessional Lutheran setting by Matt Doebler....focuses those Christians who make up a church that sees themselves as confessional.   

There is a growing body of evidence that the Church is losing ground in America in terms of the number of people who are truly connected to it. "Building a Church-Planting Culture in a Confessional Lutheran Setting" takes a look at the extent of the problem and offers a solution through exponential church planting. It primarily addresses how confessional Lutheran churches, specifically Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) churches, have the privilege and the theology to plant churches exponentially. It is the author’s prayer that WELS churches would be motivated to plant churches exponentially through the ideas shared in this thesis. He also prays that such godly planting in the WELS will make significant gains in the number of Americans who are connected to Christ through His Church in America.

Chapters include:
  1. The problem and the setting
  2. Biblical Foundations
  3. A literature review
  4. The Research
  5. Applications

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Kids Book: Why do we call it Christmas?

Why do we call it Christmas...helps you and your family discover why we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th? and why we hang stockings and decorate trees? and how Santa Claus became such a big part of the holiday?
Many people who have purchased the book have been very pleased in the way that the book brooches the subject of Jesus and Santa in a theological but child friendly way.
From the creator of VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer along with his friends Buck Denver, Captain Peter, Sunday School Lady, and others...

Advent Program: Truth in the Tinsel

Truth in the tinsel is an interactive devotional experience....each day you will be lead through a passage of scripture, make a Christmas ornament that corresponds to the reading and engage in discussion with your family.

There are 3 resources available

The truth in the tinsel ebook, which is the main resource for families...
Click here to buy Truth in the tinsel ebook costs $7.99

The truth in the tinsel ornaments templates (for those who want a head start on making the ornaments)
Click here to buy Truth in the Tinsel ornaments costs $3.99

The truth in the tinsel church curriculum ideal for Youth club, Sunday school etc.
Click here for Truth in the tinsel church curriculum costs $49.99

Click here to visit

Bible Reading plan: 30 ways in 30 days

30 ways in 30 days is a bible reading plan that encourages readers to live a life focussed on sharing the Gospel....the plan is accessible for people of all ages....

Monday, November 02, 2015

Service Order: Adult Baptism


Jesus says: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything
 have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.           Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
P:        The word of God tells us that we have all been born with sin, so we are sinners. For this reason God the Father sent Jesus to die on the cross, for all people.
When a person has been baptized and also believes in Jesus, God forgives that person’s sin. He takes him away from the devil. He makes him his friend. Then that person will live with God forever.


P:        Who presents this person for Baptism?


Witnesses: We do.


P:        Witnesses, since you present name  for holy baptism, continue to care for her/him. Set her a good example and remember her/him in your prayers. Encourage her/her to come to services in God’s house. Do you intend to do this? If so say “Yes, I do.”

Yes, We Do.




P:        I put the sign of the cross on your forehead and on your heart. From today you belong to Jesus.


Hear the Good News


Jesus says: I tell you the truth; no-one can see the kingdom of God without being born again; no-one can enter the kingdom of God without born through water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:3,5,6


P:        Let us pray the prayer that Jesus taught us.




Our Father in Heaven:
Hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread, 
Forgive us our sins as we forgive
those who sin against us. 
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.  Amen


P:        The Lord watch over you as you go out and come in,
now and forever.


Renunciation of the Devil


P: Do you renounce the devil?


            Yes, I renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways.


P:        Join with name in confessing the Christian faith


I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, dead and buried. 
He descended into hell. 
The third day he rose again from the dead, He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence He will come the judge the living and the dead.
 I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.  Amen.


P: Do you want to be baptized?


            Yes, I do.


P: would you like to tell us about it.




BAPTISM:      name


PRAY FOR:              name


All-powerful God, the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we give you thanks. for freeing your sons and daughters from the power of sin
and for raising them up to a new life of grace.
Sustain them with your Holy Spirit:
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord,
the spirit of joy in your presence. Amen

Name  I ask you to affirmation of Baptism


Vow: I promise to live
In the grace and power of my baptism.
I promise to grow in Christ
And in the knowledge of His Word.
I promise to serve Him
With all that I am,
And all that I have.
I promise to remain steadfast in His church
until the end.
I promise all these things
Trusting God to help me
With His grace and strength. Amen.



Developed by Rev Jim Bryan

Service Order: Prayer for seed, soil and water

Prayer for seed, soil and water has been developed by Rev Jim Bryan 


PRAYER FOR SEEDS:    (Hold seeds aloft)

P.:       We pray for the seed, a gift of God’s creation.
C.:       Creating God, you have given seed to the sower and bread to the people. Nourish, protect and bless the seeds which your people have sown in hope. By your loving and bountiful giving, may they bring forth their fruit in due season. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

HYMN:           564 We plough the fields and scatter v 1

PRAYER FOR SOIL:       (Hold soil aloft)

P.:       We pray for the soil, a gift of God’s creation.
C.:       Giver of life, we give you thanks that in the richness of
the soil nature awakens. We praise you for the smell of     freshly tilled earth, the beauty of a cleanly cut furrow, and a well-ploughed field. We ask that you help us to be good stewards of this land. In the name of the one who gives us new life, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

HYMN:           564 We plough the fields and scatter v 2

PRAYER FOR WATER / RAIN(Hold water aloft)

P.:       We pray for the rain which waters the earth, a gift of God’s    creation.
C.:       Sustaining God, we receive the fruits of the earth from you. We give you thanks for the smell of the earth after rain, for its welcome cooling, and its vital hydration of the land. We ask that the rain come as often as it is needed, so that the crops may flourish and the coming harvest be bountiful indeed. Amen.

HYMN:           564 We plough the fields and scatter v 3

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book: The Mission Table: Renewing Congregation and Community

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.

The Table of creation
From kitchen table to the alter table
Seeking hospitality at New Table
The congregation:  a table for mission
Mission Table leadership
Setting mission tables
Restoring the broken table

Monday, October 19, 2015

Stewardship Book: Ask, thank, tell

The goal of this book, says author Charles Lane, is to perform a dramatic rescue of stewardship, freeing it from any connection whatsoever to "paying the bills."  When the Bible talks about stewardship it almost always talks about the intimate connection between how a person handles financial matters and that person's relationship with God. Stewardship is an intensely spiritual matter that lies close to a disciple's relationship with Jesus.
The book is designed especially for use in congregational planning and study. Congregational stewardship leaders will come back to three foundational verbs — ask, thank, tell — over and over as they help individuals experience the joy of giving generously. The author makes the convincing case that there is little in life today that can help a disciple grow in relationship with Jesus more than a solid intentional biblical stewardship.

Advent Liturgy - suitable for the Southern Hemisphere

Many of the litanies for the lighting of the Advent candles in worship might strike you as very ‘Northern Hemisphere’. The coming of light in the darkness is very appropriate when you are in the winter season, and the days are getting shorter.
In Australia however, it might be time to think differently of Advent in terms of what so many hope and long for at this time of year – water. From a cool drink to a drenching summer storm, to protection from bushfires, water, as a symbol, reminds us what so many need at this time of year.
Ben Hentschke from the Ipswich Lutheran Church has developed such a liturgy found here

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hymn: You are called to tell the story

A hymn of encouragement to be God's story tellers in our lives

You are called to tell the story,
passing words of life along,
then to blend your voice with others
as you sing the sacred song.
Christ be known in all our singing,
filling all with songs of love.

You are called to teach the rhythm
of the dance that never ends,
then to move with in the circle,
hand in hand with strangers, friends.
Christ be known in all our dancing,
touching all with hands of love.

You are called to set the table,
blessing bread as Jesus blest,
then to come with thirst and hunger,
needing care like all the rest.
Christ be known in all our sharing,
feeding all with signs of love.

May the One whose love is broader
than the measure of all space
give us words to sing the story,
move among us in this place.
Christ be known in all our living,
filling all with gifts of love.

Possible Tunes:  
Regent Square

Words: : Duck, Ruth (1947-) © G I A Publications

Christmas story videos

Kids Christmas story videos...

Illustration/Story: Mary Jones and the start of the bible society

The story of a young girl who saved for six years and walked twenty-five miles to own a
Bible in her own language.

Many years ago, a little girl lived with her mother in a small grey stone cottage in the Welsh countryside. Her home was in a green valley in the shadow of a mountain, and from there you could sometimes see the sea in the far distance. Her father was a weaver who worked very hard to support his family but sadly he died when Mary was young.
‘Mary, Mary!’ called a distant voice.
‘Coming, Mother …’ Mary Jones knew what was expected of a nine-year-old girl. Without grumbling, she would do her share of the chores around her home. She would scrub the floors, feed the chickens, cook and help to keep the house tidy.
On Sunday mornings, Mary dressed in her Sunday best, would walk to the little chapel in the village two miles away.
At the front, the minister would open a large, black, leather-bound book. As he began to read, Mary would marvel at the wonderful words and store them up in her heart. After the service, she would go cautiously up to look at the impressive book. There were two words printed in gold on its cover. Mary guessed that these said ‘Holy Bible’ because she had heard the minister mention the name of the book. The words inside looked odd to her. ‘How can anyone ever make sense of these squiggles?’ she thought. ‘Oh, how I wish I could read this book for myself, or even have one for my own!’
Then, on Sunday morning, the minister, announced that a school was to open in the village. Mary was excited. ‘Now I can learn to read,’ she said, ‘and make sense of those strange marks in the book at chapel.’  The schoolmaster, Mr Evans, and his wife moved into a farmhouse not far from Mary’s home. Mary worked extra hard to finish her chores quickly so that she could go to the Evans’ house to learn to read. Her parents saw how hard their
daughter worked at both schoolwork and her duties at home.
Months passed and seasons changed, until at last Mary was asked to read from the chapel Bible one Sunday morning. She was not very tall, so a special wooden box for her to stand on so that she could see the words properly. Now the squiggles were no longer strange to her. She read perfectly. Mr and Mrs Jones were very proud of their daughter.
After the service, Mary rushed up to her mother. ‘I must have a Bible, I must have a Bible!’ she cried. Her mother gently placed his hand on her shoulder. ‘But Mary, Bibles are expensive, and we haven’t much money.’
‘I know, I know, that’s why I am going to save up for one, and I don’t care how long it takes me. I’ll do jobs for other people, I’ll save all my pennies, I’ll do anything just to have my own Bible.’
And that is exactly what Mary did. For six long years she saved all she could until the day came when she had enough money to buy a Bible. Mr Evans had told her that there was a man in a town called Bala who had a number of Bibles. Mary, now fifteen, told her mother that she was going to walk to Bala.
Her mother exclaimed, ‘Daughter, that’s nearly twenty-five miles away!’ But there was no changing Mary’s mind –
she had waited too long for that. So, with her purse of money and some bread and cheese tied up in a bundle, she
set off.
The journey to Bala seemed endless. Mary followed many paths, crossed valleys and streams and found her way
around hills. As her weariness grew and her aching limbs seemed almost too much to
bear, she muttered words of encouragement to herself. ‘Come on, Mary, not much
further now,’ she thought. Eventually she came to the brow of a hill, from which she
could see the edge of a town. Dusk was falling, and candlelight had begun to flicker
in cottage windows. Mary's heart pounded with excitement. Here was Bala at last!
She recognised it from Mr Evans’ clear description. With renewed energy and a new
determination, she set off again down the hill.
Mary asked for directions to find Mr Charles. After knocking on several doors and asking for directions, she found his house. She ran up the garden path and knocked loudly on the large oak door.
As it was opened, Mary made her request for a Bible, the words tumbling over themselves in her eagerness: ‘I’ve walked twenty-five miles to get here, I’ve saved up for six years to buy a Bible, I’ve got the money here, you can count it if you like – please can I have a Bible?’
Mr Charles was taken aback. ‘You had better come in and tell me all about it, but first you must have something to eat. You must be famished.’ He smiled kindly and beckoned the housekeeper to take Mary to the kitchen.
After she had eaten, Mary told Mr Charles everything.  He was moved by her account. And he held out to her a brand new Bible. Mary stared at it for a long moment before taking it with both hands. Then she expressed her heartfelt thanks.
The next morning, Mary, clutching her treasured possession, said goodbye to Mr Charles and started on her way home. She arrived to a grand reception. It seemed as if everyone was there. Her mother threw her arms around her and hugged her. Nearby stood Mr
Evans and the minister, smiling broadly and clapping their hands. Everyone was cheering and wanted Mary to show them her Bible. As she held the book up for all to
see, she murmured a few quiet words. ‘Thank you, Jesus, thank you Mr Charles,’ she said.

In his study, Mr Charles remembered how the young girl had disappeared over the brow of a hill still holding the new Bible to her chest. He began to think of all the other Mary Joneses who must be wanting Bibles, not only in Wales but in England, Scotland, Ireland, and even in  other more distant lands.
In 1804, the British and Foreign Bible Society was formed by Thomas Charles and other important men in response to needs which stories like that of Mary Jones had brought to light.
Bible Society is working for the day when the Bible’s God-given revelation, inspiration and wisdom is shaping the lives and communities everywhere.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Spoken Word - The Bible - spoken truth- spoken Gospel

The spoken word is like rap...but gentler....
Dai Woolridge - spoken on the bible engages people with not only what the bible is...but it's impact on our lives and our world....

Watch the video

 “When I heard Dai Woolridge perform his spoken word, I was  more than just impressed. I felt that he had mastered the ability to use this particular art form as an instrument that would captivate an audience, on the one hand, and communicate a clear message of the Gospel, on the other.”  Tony Campolo – Professor of Sociology at Eastern University

“Dai Woolridge’s spoken word pieces are excellent – engaging, entertaining, thoughtful,intelligent and moving.”
Graham Kendrick – Worship Leader

The Spoken word also offers resources for Christmas, Easter, blessed and remembrance...

For more details visit

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Book: Introducing Christian Mission Today

Introducing Christian Mission Today - Scripture, History and Issues by Michael Goheen brings the vibrant history, motivation and challenges of Christian mission to the fore.

Through the centuries Christian mission has always been recalibrating, retooling and reevangelizing. It has repeatedly taken surprising turns as it is carried along by the Spirit of God.  Goheen's introduction to mission's biblical, theological and historical dimensions engages the present and anticipates the future. As he unfolds the major issues of the global and urban, the pluralistic and wholistic contexts of mission today, he lays the ground for engaging in God’s great kingdom enterprise. This full-scale text incorporates the keen missional insights of Lesslie Newbigin, David Bosch and other formative thinkers. It will be a valued resource not only for those in crosscultural contexts but also for those engaged in reevangelizing the West.

Introduction: A Paradigm Shift in Mission Studies Today
1. Scripture as a Narrative Record of God’s Mission
2. Theology of Mission and Missional Theology
3. Historical Paradigms of Mission
4. An Emerging Ecumenical Paradigm of Mission
5. A Survey of the Global Church
6. Holistic Mission: Witness in Life, Word and Deed
7. Faithful Contextualization: Church, Gospel and Culture(s)
8. Toward a Missiology of Western Culture
9. A Missionary Encounter with World Religions
10. Urban Mission: The New Frontier
11. Missions: A Witness to the Gospel Where There Is None

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Storypath - connecting children's literature with our faith

As the name suggests Storypath is about connecting children's books with our faith....

Storypath offers:

  • Books connected to the Revised Common Lectionary
  • Book Reviews
  • Ideas in using Children's books in ministry
  • Lesson plans
  • Scripture index
  • Theme index

To discover more visit

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book: The Genius of Luther's theology

The Genius of Luther's Theology offers a unique approach to the study of the great German reformer, Martin Luther.
Robert Kolb and Charles Arand offer an introduction to two significant themes that form the heart of Luther's theology.

The first theme concerns what it means to be truly human. For Luther, "passive righteousness" described the believer's response to God's grace. But there was also an "active righteousness" that defined the relationship of the believer to the world.

The second theme involves God's relation to his creation through his Word, first creating and then redeeming the world. Clergy and general readers will find here a helpful introduction to Luther's theology and its continuing importance for applying the good news of the gospel to the contemporary world.

Table of Contents
Part 1: "Our Theology": Luther's Definition of the Human Creature through "Two Kinds of Righteousness"
1. Anthropology as a Matrix for Luther's Way of Thinking
2. The Core of Human Identity
3. The Shape of Human Performance
4. The Subversion of Our Human Identity
5. The Dynamic of Faith

Part 2: When the Word Is Spoken, All Things Are Possible: Luther and the Word of God
6. The Functions of the Word
7. The Enfleshed and Written Forms of God's Word
8. The "Means of Grace" as Forms of God's Word
9. God's Word Takes Form as His People Convey It to One Another
Conclusion: Thinking with Luther in the Twenty-first Century

Monday, September 28, 2015

Book: Characters of Christmas - Advent Candle Lighting reflectrions

Characters of Christmas - Advent Candle Lighting reflections is an ideal resource for congregations or individuals as they prepare for Christmas through the Advent season.

This resource offers
Weekly reflection skits of the characters of:
and Jesus

A daily bible reading plan

Paperback available at

Kindle edition available at 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

2015 Advent resources

Advent resources for 2015

Advent and Christmas resources from:
Augsburg Fortress
Concordia Publishing House
Sola Publishing
Messy Church
Church House Publishing 

Advent Conspiracy - Can Christmas still change the world?  The Christmas story is a story of love, hope, redemption and relationship. So, what happened? How did it turn into stuff, stress and debt? Somehow, we’ve traded the best story in the world for the story of what’s on sale.  The Advent Conspiracy is about helping congregations focus on Christmas being a time of Worshipping fully, Spending less, Giving more, Loving all!!

Advent - intergenerational event from Loyola Press
Advent traditions carnival

Advent Calendar history
Create your own advent video calendar

How to make an Advent wreath

Teacher's resources

Jesse Tree resources

Advent Worship Resources
Worship Planning and Sermon themes
Perth Anglican Diocese
United Methodist Church Worship Resources
Richard J Fairchild
Amazing Love worship series
Re:  Worship

Advent Devotions
Listening to Luke
Lutheran Hour Ministries

Previous Advent Resources

Advent Devotional Books

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Article: Whose Religion? Which Secularism? Australia Has a Serious Religious Literacy Problem

Michael Bird a Lecturer in Theology at Ridley College, Melbourne, and a Fellow of the Centre for Public Christianity explores what true secularism is and how it has its roots in Christianity...

Article:  Whose Religion? Which Secularism? Australia Has a Serious Religious Literacy Problem

The editorial in The Age last month could scarcely contain its enthusiasm that the Andrews government in Victoria had recently decided to end Special Religious Instruction (SRI) in school hours and replace it with lectures on domestic violence and respectful relationships.

The editor writes:

"At last, classrooms in the government school system in this state will be used for what they were intended: academic teaching and not religious instruction. Some 143 years after Victoria's Education Act made clear that education must be free, secular and compulsory, the Andrews government has committed to abolishing special religious instruction classes during school hours. That is as it should be. The Age has consistently argued over decades that, beyond reading, writing and arithmetic, there should be room for lessons about various belief systems and for discussion about ethics and social awareness. But the school hours funded by the taxpayer should not be used for indoctrination."
As I see it, this statement illustrates the fundamental problem we have with "secularism" and "religion" in Australia. Few people, not even educated journalists, have a clear idea of what these terms mean. It is a problem that stems from a lack of religious literacy.

What is secularism?

First, we need to understand the origins and meaning of secularism. Secularism is (ironically) a uniquely Christian and Western construction. Secularism emerged in post-Reformation Europe as a way of curtailing Protestant and Catholic rivalries, promoting religious freedom and reducing religious influence on the affairs of State. The German Reformer Martin Luther himself taught a political theology of "Two Kingdoms" whereby Christians lived simultaneously in two separate but parallel spheres of church and the wider culture.

When European States ceased enforcing one particular brand of Christianity on their subjects, whether it was Protestantism or Catholicism, citizens were relatively free to choose which version of the Christian religion that they wished to adhere to without fear of reprisal. It became a natural consequence, especially concurrent with the advent of philosophical rationalism and developing political theories stressing individual freedoms, for the choice to be whether one even wanted to be religious at all. Thus, secularism emerged in Christian Europe as a way of dissolving religious sectarianism, neutering the political ambitions of the Church and promoting religious freedom.

The Australian constitution was drawn up in this context, and Australia was intended as a secular nation. However, this secularity was never intended to sanitize the public square of religion. It was "secular" in the sense of ensuring that sectarian divisions in the old world would not be imported into the new.

This is why there is still so much religious paraphernalia in our constitution and parliamentary traditions. The assumption of our founding documents and practices was that most people would be religious at least some of the time, and they were free to choose when, how and where. Consequently our secular education system was never envisaged as prohibitive of religious instruction, only prohibitive of one religion being allowed to be imposed and to dominate.

In the post-World War II period, secularism became a great platform for multiculturalism and pluralism. This happened initially by virtue of our place in the British Commonwealth, which was diverse both culturally and religiously, and where Commonwealth countries facilitated heightened levels of interaction and transmigration.

Secularism subsequently became a way of supporting multiculturalism whereby numerous cultures with their diverse customs and religions could co-exist in a society that had no mandated religious adherence. Where religion is a matter of conscience, then relative freedoms and opportunities abound. This is not the case in many parts of the world. It was not true of the old communist bloc in the 1950s-90s, and it doesn't apply to much of the Middle East today, for example.

It is in the early 2000s that we see a different approach to secularism emerging - a redefinition of secularism as the partitioning of religion from the public sphere. The gradual uncovering of sex abuse scandals in religious organizations and the growth of Islamic jihadism meant that, for many, the two dominating images for religion have become paedophilia and terrorism. This led to a wide-scale antipathy towards religion.

On the back of this, the movement of "New Atheists" offered scathing and acidic critiques of religion as an enemy of a tolerant and pluralistic society. The most successful move of this group has been to redefine secularism, no longer as the freedom of the individual in religion, but as the scrubbing of religion from all public spheres.

Thus, the meaning of secularism in Australia has evolved from non-sectarianism, to pluralism, to militant anti-religious perspectives.

But it gets even more complicated. Secularism is not a monolithic concept and it is better to speak of secularisms in the plural. The secularism of Turkey is different to the secularism of France, which is different again to the secularism of Britain, and different again to the secularism of the United States. When people say "Let's have secularism!" my instinctive reflex is to ask, "Sure, which one?"

And it gets worse again. Another thing we have to remember is that in most places in the world - especially the Middle East, parts of Asia, Africa, and even Russia - there is no secularism. In many cultures religion is simply infused with economics, politics, national identity and other cultural facets of life. Religion forms an integral part of social identity, civic customs and ethnic boundary markers. For many, to be Russian is to be Russian Orthodox, to be Malay is to be Muslim, to be Thai is to be Buddhist. Secularism is not globally shared.

Here's the gist: secularism has undergone significant changes in Australia, there are different species of secularism across the world, and most regions in the world are not secular in the sense that many Westerners prefer.

What is religion?

Next, we need to understand why people are religious. The impression I get from years of reading some sections of the media is that religion is a lot like pornography: a mostly repulsive thing, which should be done only in private, and safely away from public view. The problem is that this assumes a jaundiced and caricatured idea of religion as an ideology, and one essentially hostile to so-called secular values of tolerance and pluralism.

Religion itself is very hard to define; academics do not fully agree on what it is. But one thing is certain: "religion" cannot be reduced to dogma instilled by indoctrination. Religion, in most places, is a way of life, lived under the auspices of certain beliefs about the divine and an orientation towards supra-natural realities.

I think it worth mentioning that religion is actually an attractive option for several reasons:

Religion can create a sense of identity - not merely a convenient tag, but a way defining oneself among a swirl of local sub-cultures.
Religions often contain rituals that infuse meanings into elements of life including birth, marriage and death, and give them transcendent significance.
Religions tend to see life as teleological, in that life has a meaning and a purpose - a welcomed alternative to secular anthropologies that promote either nihilism (life is meaningless) and or hedonism (consumption and pleasure as goals of life).
Religions often prescribe ethics and values, in relation to honouring the divine, but also behaviour towards others.
Religions create communities, hubs of families, which are often racially diverse and united by a common form of worship.
Religions imbibe a sense of hope, believing that it is possible to construct a better future, and to believe that God is working immanently in the world to bring one about.
In sum, religion is a blend of identity, symbol, purpose, behaviour, community and hope. If this is what religion is, then at its best it can make significant contributions to the lives of individuals and to our communities.

The way forward

I actually believe in secularism; I think it's the best way to promote peaceable social relationships in a society which includes people of all faiths and none. But we have to stop allowing journalists and politicians to insist on this non-sense that secularism means - and could only ever mean - the removal of religion from the public square.

The greatest achievement of Australian secularism is allowing peoples of all faiths and no faith to create a respectful space for each other, not the exclusion of faith communities from the public square.

Religion is more than dogma and rules. It is a mixture of worldview and praxis that permeates all of peoples' lives. We should remember that religion has had a prominent place in Australian history, and religious organizations form the backbone of our welfare network. Faith communities and the state can work together for the common good, and religion is an inalienable aspect of human existence, like music, art and literature.

What's more, religion is remarkably robust - it is not going to disappear. So it is far better that we treat religion as indelibly part of human life than as something to be begrudgingly tolerated and excised from public life.

the original article first appeared