Saturday, January 09, 2016

Video Series: Ed's Story

Ed’s Story is a documentary about Pastor Ed Dobson’s recent life of suffering with ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2000, and given a short time to live, Ed Dobson wrestles with the issues that suffering brings, like worry, identity, forgiveness, gratitude, and healing. But in the midst of his disease, Ed finds hope. Not the kind of hope that ignores suffering, and not the kind of hope that minimizes or bypasses suffering, but the kind of hope that can only come from acknowledging and engaging honestly with suffering. Ed’s Story is a seven-part short film series that takes an intimate look at Ed’s journey with ALS, and inspires us all to become the kind of people who find hope in the midst of difficult circumstances.

The series includes
Become the kind of person who can find hope in the midst of difficult circumstances.
In It Ain’t Over, the first film in the Ed’s Story series, Ed Dobson reminds us that life isn’t over yet and that we don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the struggles we’re facing today. Difficult news can sometimes make us feel like our lives are over. Ed shows us that we don’t know the future, and that things may turn out quite differently from what we expect.

Sometimes we worry too much about the future.
Ed stopped making plans more than two weeks out after his ALS diagnosis. Why? Tomorrow is not guaranteed—for any of us. When we worry about tomorrow, we often miss out on the beauty, richness, and fulfillment of today.
Could living for today be what’s best for us, and could it even free us from the worries of tomorrow?

When those close to us suffer, it’s only natural to want to help. But what do you say when someone’s life falls apart and suffering becomes their reality? How can you show you care?
The people who comforted Ed most were the ones who just showed up and didn’t say a word.
Perhaps just being present can bring more comfort, peace, and a sense of God’s presence than words ever could.

Many of us find our identity in what we do. But what happens when our career comes to an abrupt end? What happens when that job is no longer there? Are we still ourselves? Does our identity change?
A pastor for many years, Ed struggled to adjust to a life without the pulpit. He eventually discovered there is much more to who we are than what we do. Could it be that change is an opportunity for a renewed sense of purpose?

When Ed was told that his life would be over in a few short years, he found his priorities drastically rearranged. He wanted to mend relationships that may have been broken. He decided that relationships were way more important than who was right and who was wrong.
Ed discovered that forgiveness is an issue that requires humility. He also discovered a transforming experience for all involved. Could the power of forgiveness lead to a better world around us?

Many people start each day with a list of things to accomplish. But it’s possible to get caught up in this list; to anticipate how things will go and actually feel entitled to each of our days. As if they are owed to us.
It wasn’t until Ed was forced to slow down that he truly began to see all that he has been given.

Tragedy reminds us what little control we have over life; we are always at the mercy of something other than ourselves. As Ed shares, perhaps acknowledging this lack of control is the key to really understanding the notion of healing.

For more information and to buy the videos visit

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Illustrated Children's Ministry

Illustrated Children's Ministry provides illustrated resources to support ministry in churches and with families at home.

Resources include:

  • Illustrated Children's Moments provide creative and engaging illustrations of Bible stories to be used in worship during children's moments/sermons.
  • Colouring Sheets and Large Posters provide creative intergenerational activities for church events or family gatherings.
  • Resources for liturgical seasons provide engaging practices for families at home and children at church. They consist of devotionals, illustrations, coloring sheets and more.
  • Resources for lent and advent


Every year I’m on the lookout for family and church Advent materials that are engaging and easy to use. This year I found An Illustrated Advent and everyone is loving it! Every week several families comment on how they are using the packets at home and how much they love them! The large coloring posters are being used in Sunday school classes and also at the art table in the sanctuary by all ages. Can’t wait for the Lent materials. Thanks!
Stephanie Fritz, Director of Children and Family Ministries at Central Presbyterian, Denver

Within moments of setting out the posters, I had people clamoring to do some coloring–young & young at heart, men & women, boys & girls. When I asked a few people to pick it up to put down another poster, I hear groans of “But it’s not done yet!” The posters were beautiful and well designed, and the customer service stuck through some pretty tedious mailing issues. I can’t wait for the next few weeks of coloring through Advent!
Pastor Megan Thompson, Mt. Vernon, Champaign & Bondville United Methodist Churches

We handed out your Coloring in series weekly, to the whole congregation as a wonderful mindfulness exercise to spiritually access the season of Advent. Some, did a little each day, others used them when stressed. All exploded with color in the same way that our Southern Hemisphere location explodes with color this time of the year. Many thanks.
Wendy Lewis, Children and Families Education Worker and Wesley Church Melbourne (Australia)

I’m always looking for engaging projects that will give my two busy body kids something to focus their energy and creativity on. These large advent posters have done just that and I’m not going to lie– this momma had fun getting in on the action to. I highly recommend buying a set as a family project and enjoying the quality time together and talking about the message behind each piece.
Marie Walti, Stay at home mom and entrepreneur

We are having a great time here in Mexicali with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes there is a language barrier but with coloring these pictures the differences are minimized. Kids, adults, everyone knew exactly what to do and could come and go as they pleased. This was a great resource for our team.
Adam Knudson, Associate Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Hope Lutheran Church, Fresno, CA

Monday, January 04, 2016

Book: Why on earth are you still Lutheran?

Why on Earth are you still a Lutheran? is not quite an autobiography but parts of a story of Norm Habel's life.
Norm Habel is an Australian, an Earth child and a Lutheran who has survived accusations of heresy many times in his life.
After all, Habel is many more things than a Lutheran – a family man, a social justice advocate, an amateur ecologist and a poet – but still a Lutheran. The scenes from his experiences are not an effort to define being a Lutheran in any official or unofficial sense. Rather, in telling his story, he searches for that elusive something that persists in his faith – the mystery behind the Lutheran jargon that has cluttered his world and battered his brain. For Norm Habel, Lutheran wisdom means reading life from a distance, reading the landscape as a sacred text, and reading the Sacred Text without biased biblical blinkers. He invites you to follow his journey, to explore anew the complex question of identity – whether you are an Australian farmer or a Brooklyn pastor, a politician from PNG or a Dalit from India.
visit here Why on earth are you still a Lutheran?  to buy the book

Christian movies: recently released

A selection of recently released Christian dvds

Survey: Invitation to help serve

We are always look at ways to serve you better both as someone being ministered to and someone involved in ministering to others....
We would appreciate it if you could undertake a short survey at
Your thoughts and ideas are much appreciated...

Book: Jesus surprising strategy

Jesus surprising strategy by David Drum
You're likely familiar with Jesus' prayer that His followers would be one. Less well-known is how strategic and timely this prayer is, as well as how instructional the prayer is about the kind of unity Jesus is praying for. Combine Jesus' prayer with the Apostle Paul's citywide analogy, and you have a gift that provides powerful direction for how the body of Christ is supposed to operate in every city - direction that could provide the very societal transformation we so desperately seek and need.
Unity for any group requires work and intentionality. Building on Jesus' prayer and Paul's analogy, Jesus' Surprising Strategy examines five levels of unity, each building on the previous one, and each providing a practical, biblical means for the roles you can play to fulfill Jesus' prayer in our day, in your relationships, and in your city. It concludes with a case study of how this is beginning to be realized in Tucson, Arizona.
David Drum encourages, instructs, and reveals his personal journey toward seeing Christian unity as a mandate worthy of your very best effort.

Latest Lutheran Books and resources

Following is a list of some of the latest books and resources from Lutheran publishing organisations.

a selection

CPH - Concordia Publishing House
a selection

for a more comprehensive list visit 

North West Publishing House
a selection

for a more comprehensive listing visit

Australian Church resources
latest resources in their web store
Devotional Book:  TIME OUT COME LORD JESUS - AUD20.00
visit Australian Church Resources for these and more resources

Book: Mockinbird at the movies

Mockingbird at the Movies is a collection of essays from a wide range of contributors, exploring the films that have touched us most. Some are beautiful, some confrontational, some silly, some sad, some all of the above; taken together, they bear witness to the power of film to move the heart and lift the spirit.

Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Roughing up Wes Anderson, by David Zahl
  • How to Put on a Killer Show at the School of Rock, by Bryan Jarrell
  • Winners, Losers, and Little Miss Sunshine, by Nick Lannon
    • LIST: A Mockingbird Guide to Movies About Jesus
  • From Sadness to Gladness: Sin and Redemption in About a Boy, by R. J. Heijmen
  • It’s a Wonderful Life: The Most Terrifying Movie Ever Made, by Ron Flowers
  • Law and Grace in Frozen, by Mike Belote
  • The Lovers, the Dreamers, the Muppets, and Me, by David Zahl
  • Toy Story: A Journey of Heroic Repentance, by Jeremiah Lawson
    • LIST: Ten Great Woody Allen Movies
  • The Pomade Won’t Save You Now: Salvation and Sorrow in O Brother Where Art Thou?, by Lizzie Stallings
  • Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose: The American Lie of an Easy Rider, by Ethan Richardson
  • Put Down the Gun, Honey Bunny: The “Realer than Real” World of Quentin Tarantino, by Bryan Jarrell
  • The Comforts of Irony and the Terror of Earnestness: Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan, by Will McDavid
    • LIST: Nine Documentaries for the Grace Addict
  • Holly Golightly and the Knight in Shining Armor Complex: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Emily Hornsby
  • Pathological Optimism and Crucified Lives in Silver Linings Playbook, by Ethan Richardson
  • The Common Mess of Punch-Drunk Love, by Joe Nooft
  • It’s Gonna Last You for the Rest of Your Life: Sanctification According to Groundhog Day, by Matt Schneider
  • Growing up with Grease and Ferris Bueller, by David Peterson
  • Afraid of a Love That There’s No Cure For: Trainwreck, by Charlotte Getz
  • The Sun Never Sets on the Romantic Comedy (Until It Does): Before Midnight, by Charlotte Hornsby
  • The Progress of the Human Soul in The Magnificent Ambersons: A Footnote to Orson Welles, by Paul F. M. Zahl
  • I Want You to Hit Me as Hard as You Can: Fight Club, by Nick Lannon
  • Running on Empty: Without Limits, by C. J. Green
    • LIST: Jesus Christ in the House of Horror
  • Flavors of Failure in The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy, by Jeremiah Lawson
  • The Shape of Revelation and Evil: Halloween, by Blake Collier
    • LIST: Post-Apocalypto
  • The Dark Knight (Dies and) Rises, by Will McDavid
  • The Seven Sacraments of Harry Potter, by Ethan Richardson
  • Can Anything Good Come Out of Endor? Return of the Jedi, by David Zahl
  • John Ford and The Searchers, by Paul F. M. Zahl
  • The Gospel According to Hoosiers, by Matt Patrick
    • LIST: Sports Movies You May Have Missed
  • Killing (and Then) Saving Private Ryan, by Nick Lannon
  • Art Beyond Art: Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, by Zach Williams
    • LIST: Moving Portraits of Christian Ministry
  • A Body on the Cross: Theologizing The Virgin Suicides, by C. J. Green
  • The Shared Loneliness of Her, by Emily Stubbs
  • The Original Sin of Joss Whedon’s Serenity, by David Zahl
  • For Those Who Love Poorly: Forgiveness in The Woodsman and Around the Bend, by Blake Collier
  • Love is Medicine: Red Beard, by John Zahl

Top theology books of 2015 according to Mockingbird

Mockingbird is a ministry that seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways. They do this primarily, but not exclusively, via publications, conferences, and online resources.
Visit Mockinbird at

Each year they release what they believe are the top theology books of 2015.   This year's selection is:


for more information on Mockingbirds selection visit 

Higher things Winter Conference: We Confess - Small Catechism

The Higher things we confess conference (they like to call it an unconference)
We confess focussed on the Small Catechism.
7 Lutheran speakers. 18 min each on a part of the Small Catechism.   Like TED speakers but only better they are Lutheran speakers....

The Ten Commandments - Rev. Mark Buetow

The Creed - Rev. Dr. Steven Mueller

Holy Baptism - Rev. George Borghardt

The Lord’s Prayer -Rev. David Kind

Holy Absolution - Pastor Chris Rosebrough

The Lord’s Supper - Rev. Donavon Riley
Daily Prayer and The Table of Duties - Rev. William Cwirla

Livestreaming available at:

Conference booklet available at:

Friday, January 01, 2016

New Year's devotional exercise

This New Year's devotional exercise developed by Pastor Richard Schwedes focuses on living the new life God calls us to live in 2016....

This exercise can be undertaken as a individual or as a group...
Some options you may wish to consider is to:

  • lengthen the reflection time
  • if you are with others spend time sharing your reflections
Praying this devotional exercise blesses you 

eBook: Running on Empty - 60 Devotions for Church Leaders

Churches have always been busy places. Pastors and Church leaders are often over-worked and under-appreciated. They are usually busy doing so many things for God and others, that they forget or neglect to recharge their souls and refresh their spirits. They are often running around on empty because they selflessly give so much of their time, talents, and energy.
This book is for all of brothers and sisters in the Lord, who tirelessly and sometimes relentlessly, do God’s work in the churches they serve and the communities where they reside. All of them are heroes because of their commitment and conviction, their fortitude and faith, especially in turbulent times.
John Stuart has written sixty short devotions that will only take five minutes to read, reflect upon, and pray. They can be used on a daily basis or for weekly times of reflection. Pastors and leaders can read them alone, share them with their peers or use them for staff devotions. His intention is to help, encourage, and sometimes challenge those who are called to serve Christ in the Church and world. Each devotion contains a Bible verse, devotion, questions for reflection, and a short prayer. There is also an art illustration, which John has drawn and created, for meditation.

eBook: 60 devotions for church meetings

60 devotions for church meetings is a devotional book of sixty short devotions to be used for individual meditations, or as opening devotions for church meetings. Stories from the Bible, childhood memories in Scotland, personal experiences, and pastoral situations in the United States are used to challenge church groups and inspire the readers.

eBook: God will find you

God will find you - is a devotional book of 50 short devotions, stories and reflections for pilgrims, seekers, and Christians looking for God in their lives.

eBook: Meta-Moments Transformational Encounters with Christianity's Core

Meta-Moments are points of transformation.  Eric Burtness , Dave Daubert and Robert Driver-Bishop have written this book to encourage people to see the Christian faith as more than a static thing, but as a source of real and important transformation. Each chapter explores a key theme and also invites the reader to engage the material in ways to see new things about themselves as well as about the God we meet in Jesus. This book is a way for people exploring Christianity to dig deeper into some key themes.
Perfect for small groups, individual study or for framing a congregational campaign or sermon series, this book will invite the reader into a look at Christian faith for mainline participants. Whether the reader is a long-time member of a congregation with a desire to dig into their faith in new ways or a new person who is curious about what mainline Christianity has to offer, this book will be a good foundation for exploring. Chapters explore the themes of Beginnings, Jesus, The Reign of God, Diversity's Challenge, Meaning and Purpose, and Why Church.