Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book: What Christians ought to believe - the Apostles Creed

Modern Christians have often hesitated to embrace the ancient creeds because of our “nothing but the Bible” tradition. In What Christians Ought to Believe Michael Bird opens our eyes to the possibilities of the Apostle’s Creed as a way to explore and understand the basic teachings of the Christian faith.
Bringing together theological commentary, tips for application, and memorable illustrations, What Christians Ought to Believe summarizes the basic tenets of the Christian faith using the Apostle’s Creed as its entryway. After first emphasizing the importance of creeds for the formation of the Christian faith, each chapter, following the Creed’s outline, introduces the Father, the Son, and the Spirit and the Church. An appendix includes the Apostles’ Creed in the original Latin and Greek.
What Christians Ought to Believe is ideally suited for both the classroom and the church setting to teach beginning students and laypersons the basics of what Christians ought to affirm if they are to be called Christians.

The Apostles’ Creed is chiseled in stone in the chapel of Beeson Divinity School, and every candidate for admission is asked to write an essay on it. Thank you, Michael Bird, for a fresh exposition of this classic expression of our Christian faith. Thank you for reminding us of what too many Protestants, evangelicals no less than liberals, have forgotten: Creeds matter! -- Timothy George, , founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture

You know what I love about Michael? He writes in a colorful, accessible, and engaging way even though he is a scholar of epic proportions; he writes to regular people like me. I’m going to take the Staff of Transformation Church through What Christians Ought To Believe and I will use it introduce new Christians to the faith. -- Derwin L. Gray, , Lead Pastor Transformation Church, author of The High Definition Leader

We all have a tradition through which we read Scripture, and Michael Bird argues that the Apostle’s Creed ought to be that tradition. Far from competing with the Bible, this ancient summary of the faith is an aid in rightly understanding the Bible. Bird approaches the creed as a syllabus for teaching basic Christian belief, and like the experienced professor that he is, guides his readers through the creed by highlighting the contours of the narrative and the convictions of the faith. Mike’s books have been a constant source of encouragement for me, and in this one, the Bird soars high in showing the sweeping narrative of Scripture and the core beliefs that emerge from it. I’m grateful that because of this book many will be able to say with more conviction and clarity: 'I believe.' -- Jeremy Treat, , Pastor at Reality LA; professor at Biola University; author of The Crucified King

The genius of this book is the way in which it makes profound truth a pleasure to read. The general reader will be both engaged and richly encouraged by Bird’s winsome exploration of the Apostle’s Creed. His direct and even chatty style makes you feel as if you are visiting an ancient Cathedral in the company of a friendly and yet knowledgeable tour guide. I would commend What Christians Ought to Believe to study groups and to individual Christians looking to deepen not just their knowledge of the Christian faith but their knowledge of the Triune God. -- Rev Dr. Michael P Jensen, , St Mark’s Anglican Church, Sydney

Michael Bird has done a huge favor for those whose traditions need to be reacquainted with the Apostles’ Creed as more than a pedantic statement. He uses the creed as it was intended to be used – to teach and form Christians in the living way of Jesus! Well-researched and engagingly written, Bird’s volume will prove valuable in both church and academy, for those considering Christian faith as well as seasoned saints. His wit, clarity, and scholarship reflect the inherent winsomeness of the theological task and of a creed-contoured faith. I’m already looking for ways to use it. -- Don J. Payne, , Associate Professor of Theology and Christian Formation, Denver Seminary

What Christians Ought to Believe is more than a clear, concise exposition of the essential tenets of faith informed by the very best of biblical and theological scholarship. With deep-rooted evangelical conviction and his trademark wit, Professor Bird also makes a compelling case that even committed biblicists can appreciate the beauty, instructional value, and fidelity to Scripture found in the ancient creed. -- Rhyne R. Putman, , Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Book: Joining Jesus on His Mission: How to Be an Everyday Missionary

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

What's Jesus up to?
Joining Jesus
The river moved
Are you stalling?
Could it be this simple
An inefficiently effective strategy
Seeking what's already happened
The Kingdom of God
What does the kingdom of God look like?
The Mission of God
Getting into position everyday
Seeking the kingdom
Hearing from Jesus
Talking with people
Doing good
Ministering through prayer
The Missional party
What will your story be?
With a little help from my friends

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Book: Living by faith Oswald Bayer

"Living by faith" is much more than a general Christian precept; it is the fundamental posture of believers in a world rife with suffering and injustice. In this penetrating reflection on the meaning of "justification," Oswald Bayer shows how this key religious term provides a comprehensive horizon for discussing every aspect of Christian theology, from creation to the end times.
Inspired by and interacting with Martin Luther, the great Christian thinker who grappled most intensely with the concept of justification, Bayer explores anew the full range of traditional dogmatics (sin, redemption, eschatology, and others), placing otherwise complex theological terms squarely within their proper milieu -- everyday life. In the course of his discussion, Bayer touches on such deep questions as the hidden nature of God, the hope for universal justice, the problem of evil, and -- one of the book's most engaging motifs -- Job's daring lawsuit with God.


  1. In the dispute of justifications
  2. The law suit about God before the court of human reason
  3. The passive righteousness of faith
  4. Faith comes by hearing
  5. Faith and sanctification
  6. Faith within the lawsuit about God - before God

Conference: Return to Wittenberg

Return to Wittenberg Conference
26-29 July 2016
Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee

About the conference
What is the point of going to Church? Can’t I praise and thank God from anywhere – like in the comfort of my own home? I already believe in God. I’m basically a good person. Isn’t that enough?
R2W’s first annual conference will deal with these and other questions that Christian millennials struggle with by addressing the all-encompassing question posed by the Small Catechism: “What Does This Mean?”
We believe the answer to this question can be found in the Catechism’s Six Chief Parts – 1) the Ten Commandments, 2) the Creed, 3) the Lord’s Prayer, 4) Holy Baptism, 5) Confession, and 6) Holy Communion – which are the essence of the entire Christian faith. Our conference will use the Parts as an outline, around which all our worship, discussions, and presentations will be based.
Through the Six Chief Parts, we will discover that the meaning of all true Christian life and worship is found in Christ Jesus, the Incarnate God, and what He offers us through His Holy Spirit in the blessed Means of Grace.

Keynote presentations
The Catechism is Everything
The Catechism as Guide to Preaching and Hearing
The Catechism as Guide to Christian Prayer
The Catechism as Guide to the Sacramental Life
The Catechism as Beichtspiegel--Guide to Private Confession
Panel Discussion with Presenters

For more information:  visit here

Monday, June 13, 2016

Article: Turnaround Congregations

Pastor Merv Thompson shares his thoughts on what is pivotal for a congregation to turnaround from dieing or stable to growing....
These include:

  1. The only way a stable or stable and declining congregation can become a „turn-around‟ church is through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
  2. Inspired Leadership
  3. A new vision, clear and compelling vision which can energise and capture the members of the congregation.
  4. Enhancing worship.
  5. New ideas.
To read the article in full visit here

Friday, June 10, 2016

Worship Notes for kids

Giving kids some resources to help them engage with the worship service and sermon will assist them in growing in their relationship with God and with the community.
Sisters of Katie Luther blog has develop a "worship notes for kids"    resource.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

30 rules for preaching

Hillsong is not a Lutheran church....however their senior pastor Brian Houston shares some simple words of wisdom for those who are called to preach at Hillsong, which transcend denominational boundaries
These rules can be found at

Lectures: Preaching

Craig Alan Satterlee is the bishop of the North West Lower Michigan Synod of the ELCA. He has presented a number of Lectures on preaching which can be found here   The lectures include:

  • Preaching is Communication
  • Homiletic Method
  • Exegetical Reminders
  • Crafting the Sermon
  • The Preaching Event
  • Toward a Theology of Preaching
  • Ten Parameters of Lutheran Preaching
  • Lectionary Preaching
  • Preaching as a Liturgical Act
  • Preaching at Weddings and Funerals
  • Preaching and Change
  • What Is a Sermon?
  • Who Cares If Anyone Responds to the Sermon! Preaching for the Joy of It!

Friday, June 03, 2016

Discussion Starters: Evangelism involves

The evangelism involves discussion starters can be used as a bulletin or newsletter insert, discussion starter for meetings, life groups or other gatherings.

Evangelism – What the unchurched say about the church.
1. Most of the unchurched prefer to attend church on Sunday morning if they attend.
2. Most of the unchurched feel guilty about not attending church.
3. Ninety-six percent of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if they are invited.
4. Very few of the unchurched had someone share with them how to become a Christian.
5. Most of the unchurched have a positive view of pastors, ministers and the church.
6. Many of the unchurched have a church background.
7. Some types of “cold calls” are effective; many are not.
8. The unchurched would like to develop a real and sincere relationship with a Christian.
9. The attitudes of the unchurched are not related to where they live, their ethnic or racial background, or gender differences.
10. Many of the unchurched are far more concerned about the spiritual well-being of their children than themselves.
From Surprising insights into the unchurched and proven ways to reach them…Thom Rainer

Evangelism – why it is essential
1. The gospel is God’s chief instrument for saving people (Rom. 10:14; 1 Cor. 1:21–24.
2. It is an issue of obedience to Christ (Luke 24:47). We have the privilege to stand in God’s stead and urge people to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18–20).
3. Those who are not in a relationship with Jesus are considered lost and are in critical and urgent danger.
4. Speaking to people about Jesus and His Good News helps people see that they have a crisis and encourages them to take action. When we speak to people about Jesus and the Good News of the Bible, an atmosphere exists in which the Holy Spirit will be at work, affecting people.
5. People, including you get to see the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit through changed lives.
6. Evangelism energizes the church and the community.

7. Evangelism not only affects those being evangelised it also affects those evangelising. They get to review the keys to faith, encourage others and are reminded that God is still active.

Evangelism – requires regularly taking notice of God’s presence
For us to be effective in evangelism we need to rely on God’s presence…as evangelism involves reflecting who God is to others….
And the truth is, if we believe scripture, God is present all the time and everywhere (remember Jesus saying I am with you always, even to the end of the age Matthew 28:20).
So our problem is not that God is only present some of the time…our problem is we don’t always recognise and take notice of God’s presence. There are many things in our life trying to grab our attention, some are definitely from God, others we are not quite sure about and some are definitely trying to distract us from taking notice of God and how He is calling us to live, see the world and act.
This means every day and every week we need to be intentional in recognising that God is present. The clearest ways to do this is when we engage in activities that involve us connecting with scripture and us hearing how God is calling us to live lives of loving him and loving others in the world God has placed us in.
Take some time to think about how you are recognising God’s presence in your life…..and as you live in God’s presence…what is God revealing about himself to you….

Evangelism – at some point sin needs to be raised
Very few people like mentioning the S word…..sin. Often we skirt around the issue so we don’t put people off or offend people. But the reality is for any of us to grasp the depth and importance of what Jesus offers and has done for us….sin needs to be brought into our discussions as we evangelise. Listen to 1 John 1:5-10
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
But raising the issue of sin can be challenging…
One way to raise it is to begin with your own story of where you have fallen short of God’s glory, and despite this (Romans 5:1-11). Then ask is there anything they believe God wouldn’t be happy about that is part of your life…and then explore with that person if that is a sin or nor…
Another way to approach the issue is to talk about the Ten Commandments using Luther’s Small Catechism and Jesus’ Greatest Commandment (see Matthew 22:36-40) and ask which of these areas do you struggle with….Some people say, imagine if God had a full feature length movie of every second of your entire life…which parts would you want edited out…
It is important to remember that raising the sin issue, is not about shaming or embarrassing people….but about helping people recognise not only that they need Jesus but helping them see how much they need Jesus…

Evangelism – happens when we are thankful to God
When we struggle to evangelise or be generous, God through St Paul encourages us to remember how much He has done for us, and that what God has done for us is not the result of some form of karma or the result of Him repaying us for our actions…but as we discover in Romans 5:8 ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Every day of your life take time to remember and reflect that your place in God’s family and what you have are true gifts from God. Then responding by being thankful to God by being generous to others. Why is this important, well God writing through St Paul in writing to the church in Corinth says:
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. (2 Co 9:12–13)
We are encouraged to express our thankfulness to God by being generous with others, as this helps them see, experience and understand the love of God.

Evangelism – evangelising to people in need
As Christians we have a couple of significant callings….one is to preach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19-20) and the other is to love and care for people (see Galatians 6:2 and Proverbs 21:13). But a question is often asked, can the two work together or do they have to be separate, i.e. when we care for people we should not be evangelising or when we are evangelising we should not be physically caring for others. Unfortunately, some Christians have adopted a modern secular approach to this issue and they completely separate the two. This does not appear to biblical or healthy….for instance Jesus says Others will know you are my disciples if you love one another. Also remember not just our words, but also our actions communicate God’s love, and back up what we share through our mouth. This is what God says through the Epistle of James, What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? James 2:14-16
So evangelising to people in need involves both sharing God’s Good News verbally and helping them physically (which is showing God’s love)….and we should remember that it is our job to be faithful in doing both…and leave God to use what we do and what others have said and done to change and convert hearts.

Evangelism – evangelising to atheists and agnostics.
It is likely that you know an atheist or agnostic or two. An atheist is convinced there is no god of any description, whilst an agnostic is at best uncertain whether a god exists and believes it is impossible to know whether God exists or not. For many years’ atheists and agnostics hid their ‘beliefs’ or position, however recently it has become trendy for people to acknowledge they are either an atheist or an agnostic. When it comes to a census, particularly in Western Countries, the fastest growing category is no religion. To understand how to evangelise to atheists and agnostics it is important to remember the following:
Each person who claims to be an atheist or agnostic has a story to tell, and remember their stories will be different. Some have come to their position as a result of experiences with the church or particular people, some through their reading of the bible, some through studies of other atheists, some through their desires to impress particular people, some because they see religion and being intelligent as incompatible, some as a result of bad experiences…..and the list continues.
It is essential to listen, then listen again to their stories….to have a better chance in sharing God’s good news….
As you listen, look for opportunities to bring God’s real perspective, the Gospel, into their stories…. remembering the words of 1 Peter 3:15, 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.
Two common understandings (but not always the case) is that many atheists and agnostics:
1.   have a very negative view of God. They see Him as dictator, the God of rules and one who is not about love but war and fighting, the one who punishes, etc.
2.  they primarily see God as failing humans on this earth, in that he allows or even causes suffering and problems.
What is often missing from their stories is the Gospel, they have often overlooked God’s love that is shown through Jesus Christ. So a good starting point in evangelising is to share and highlight some of the love statements and stories of Jesus.

Evangelism – involves you becoming Christ like.
One of the themes of scriptures is that we are called to become like Christ;
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:5
Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15
And to become Christ like we need to allow the stories to resonate in our life.
Take time to read the stories of Jesus, as you do think about what is the attitude of Jesus and what does he does?
Then think about
How do you match up to Jesus?
What in your life needs to change?

Evangelism – REACH…a way to evangelise
R = Relating to others in Love
Remember the Gospel is personal, look at those you are already relating to, practice unconditional love in your current relationships and use your unique personality
E = Exploring the Spiritual Journey
The Gospel requires you to talk, but not just tell also ask questions and then listen to discover where people are on their Spiritual journey. As you listen to people, look for opportunities to share God’s Good News.
A = Asking People to the Party
Be invitational, ask people to come and see. Invite them to your small group or life group (if you are not part of one, join one as small groups have proven to have a big impact). Then look at connecting the people you invite to others.
C = Communicating the Positive
Be interested in other people’s worldviews and also express your own worldview (it matters). Communicate clearly that no matter what happens that you have a bright future. Be positive and real in your discussions with others, by connecting the dots of faith.
H = Helping in Tangible Ways
Foundational to faith is that Jesus modelled service. He had compassion on people, even people who got themselves into their own mess. Serve people in meaningful ways and as you serve people develop relationships with them.

Evangelism – is about a change of direction
Has there ever been a point or event in your life that has been so significant it has changed the course of your life? Maybe the day you first met your spouse? Perhaps it was the meeting of someone else, that lead you on a different path in life. It could have been a specific event. Maybe it was a sermon or devotion that started to change your thinking. Perhaps it was hearing the story of someone that impacted you.
As Christians we have all been impacted by the events of Easter….Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. The Easter events have a very significant meaning for us…they change our lives….The most important change that occurs are because of the actions of Jesus at Easter…..
no longer does our life stop at death….but we have new life with God forever….
no longer are we defined by our sins….but even these are part of our life…..God doesn’t see us as sinners but as His children who are forgiven…..
no longer are we destined for a life of eternal hell or life away from God…but for eternal life with God and a life of enjoying heaven.
As part of a disciple who evangelises our calling is to help people know about this new direction that God has created….

Song: O come to the altar

Article: Are Christians really called to make Jesus famous?

Every generation, in seeking to witness to the Gospel of Jesus, looks for language that will connect with that generation. It’s no surprise that a generation raised in a celebrity culture would grab onto making Jesus famous as a way to connect with others in their generation.   But is this what we as Christians are called to do....or do we have a more important mission?...
In this article Pastor Tim Wright explores this issue.....
To read this article visit here