Saturday, December 31, 2016

book: Seeking Allah finding Jesus

In Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi describes his dramatic journey from Islam to Christianity, complete with friendships, investigations, and supernatural dreams along the way.

Providing an intimate window into a loving Muslim home, Qureshi shares how he developed a passion for Islam before discovering, almost against his will, evidence that Jesus rose from the dead and claimed to be God. Unable to deny the arguments but not wanting to deny his family, Qureshi struggled with an inner turmoil that will challenge Christians, Muslims, and all those who are interested in the world’s greatest religions.

Engaging and thought-provoking, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus tells a powerful story of the clash between Islam and Christianity in one man’s heart and of the peace he eventually found in Jesus.

 1. Prayers of My Fathers 
 2. A Mother’s Faith 
 3. A Community of Four 
 4. The Perfect Book 
 5. Stories of the Prophet 
 6. Righteous through Ritual Prayer 
 7. Diversity in Islam 
 8. The Path of Sharia 
 9. Dreams of the Faithful 
 10. The Month of Blessing 

 11. Third Culture 
 12. Muslims in the West 
 13. Swoons and Substitutions 
 14. The Father Is Greater than Jesus 
 15. Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames 
 16. Treasured Traditions 
 17. Signs in the Sky 
 18. Honor and Authority 
 19. The Religion of Peace 

 20. Becoming Brothers
 21. Opening My Eyes 
 22. Textual Evolution 
 23. Revisiting Reliability 

 24. Litmus Tests 
 25. Crucifying the Swoon Theory 
 26. A Muslim at Church 
 27. Debating the Resurrection

 28. Genetics and Jesus 
 29. Jesus Creates Carpenters 
 30. The Divine Son of Man 
 31. Paulemics and the Earliest Jesus

 32. Tension and the Trinity 
 33. Resonating with the Trinity 
 34. Salvation in the Balance
 35. Assessing the Gospel 

 36. Muhammad Revisited 
 37. The Picture-Perfect Prophet 
 38. Veiling the Violence 
 39. Muhammad Rasul Allah? 

 40. The Case for the Quran 
 41. The Quran, Science, and Bucailleism
 42. Hadith and the History of the Quran 
 43. Those Whom Their Right Hands Possess 

 44. Rationality and Revelation 
 45. The Cost of Embracing the Cross
 46. I Am Near, Seek and You Shall Find
 47. A Field of Crosses 

 48. Deciphering Dreams 
 49. The Narrow Door 
 50. A Stairway out of the Mosque 
 51. Time to Mourn 
 52. The Word Speaks 

 53. Finding Jesus 

Resource: Pairing Arch books with the lectionary

Arch Books produced by CPH are a popular resource for families and congregations in helping young people connect to God and His story.   
CPH each month releases recommendations of which Arch books pair with the lectionary readings.  
To view these pairings visit

For the love of God - how the church is better and worse than you imagined

For the love of God is a documentary film currently in production on the influence of Christianity on the West by CPX.
CPX’s forthcoming documentary won’t shy away from the hard topics and the chequered past of the church. Watch grabs from global experts talking about violence, slavery, human rights, art and more.  

An introduction video
For the Love of God from CPX on Vimeo.

Some sneak previews

To receive regular updates and further information about the project including its release date visit

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Australian Lutheran World Service: Gifts of Grace

Are you tired of meaningless, throw-away gifts?
Would you like to bless others as you bless family and friends with gifts at Christmas, for birthdays, on anniversaries?
Then ALWS Gifts of Grace is for you!
Whether you provide Welcome Meals in a Kenyan refugee camp … help build a school in South Sudan … give a farmer in Cambodia a piglet … or simply offer a family a Lutheran Long Drop Loo… you will bring love to life!
There are 24 gifts to choose from, with six gifts under $10!

NEW! We’ll send you a POP-UP Grace Card for each gift you choose.

There are four joy-filled designs, and inside a photo and description of the gift you give. You also receive matching envelopes PLUS a receipt to claim your gifts as a tax deduction!
You give the Grace Card as your gift to friends, family and work-mates. Meanwhile, our ALWS partners will deliver the care your gift represents.
What a beautiful way to share your values and bring love to life!
For more information visit

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Carols and Reading Services

Carols and Readings services have become a special part of many congregations and schools Christmas worship.  
Kings College in the UK, is recognised as the community who first began such services.   Congregations and schools throughout the world have used, adapted and shared these services, which have become special to many people.  
Following are some of the Carols and Readings services that congregations and schools have used and will use, plus a few additional resources.

Carols and Readings - Powerpoint - Redeemer Lutheran Church, Narraweena, NSW Australia

A family friendly carols and readings service - script - Worshipping with Children

A festival of nine lessons and carols - service order - Kings College

Nine lessons and Carols for Christmastide - Reformed Worship

Nine lessons and Carols - service builder -  Better Gatherings

A contemporary service of worship and carols - service order - worthily, magnify

Lessons and Carols - service order - Messiah Lutheran Church

Commentary on the readings for a carols and readings service - Spiritual Journeys

Object lessons, readings and carols - Scipt -  BRF

2017 Lent Devotion - Salutary Gift

"Within the solemn halls of the Lenten season, Christians gather around God s Word in repentance of sins, preparation for recalling their Savior s sacrifice, and thanksgiving for the crucifixion s redemptive power. The theology of the Lord s Supper mirrors this Lenten pilgrimage in many ways.
In these daily devotions, readers arrive at a deeper appreciation of the Holy Meal instituted by Christ through a study of Scripture and both ancient and modern hymns. Each theme reveals a host of approaches to understanding the same gift: life-giving fruit, nourishment, healing, communion with the saints, rest, a priestly meal, the feast of victory, and more.
Every day of Lent, meditate on and embrace these beautiful, biblical images and metaphors of the Lord s Supper in addition to the chief blessing and description of this Sacrament in Scripture: the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness of sins, won for the world on Calvary and offered in the Sacrament of the Lord s body and blood truly makes this blessed Supper a salutary gift. "

Book: Reading Romans with Luther

Most of us experience theology in a head-in-the-clouds kind of way. We see the great theologians words soaring far above us. Each word is powerful and yet untouchable. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Good theology was never meant to be out of reach! Martin Luther's work was revolutionary in part because of the invention of the printing press, giving his words more accessibility than ever before. Now five hundred years removed from Luther's lifetime, his works are as influential as ever . . . and left on a shelf by all but pastors and history buffs.
Luther's commentary on Romans is an incredible but complicated commentary. Reading Romans with Luther offers a shortened version of this monumental commentary, featuring an attractive devotional format and imagery highlighting key portions of the text. Rather than a linear exploration of the original commentary, author RJ Grunewald takes readers on a thematic journey through the teachings in Romans. It's Luther but for everyday life!


Chapter 1: Exposed 
Chapter 2: The Human Condition 
Chapter 3: A Worship Problem 
Chapter 4: The Old Man 
Chapter 5: Law and Gospel 
Chapter 6: The Bad News 
Chapter 7: The Power and Primacy of the Gospel 
Chapter 8: Righteousness 
Chapter 9: Sinners, Saints, and the Simul 
Chapter 10: Suffering 
Chapter 11: Grace That Changes 
Chapter 12: Gifts 
Appendix: A Word for Preachers 128

“The Gospel is,” as Martin Luther said, “the very heart of the Bible. And the Book of Romans is the very heart of the Gospel.”  And though we love Romans itself and would like to read and understand what Luther had to say about it, many of us find it difficult to press through the antiquated language and unfamiliar phrasing that was common parlance five hundred years ago. And that’s where this wonderful book comes in. Helping the modern reader understand Luther’s thought as he processed Paul’s, this book makes deep theology simple and hopefully will open the door for new generations of believers to enjoy and cherish the truths that spawned the Reformation, particularly the shocking grace of God bestowed on shockingly sinful creatures.

Martin Luther didn’t just read Romans. He was changed by it. Romans left Luther undone by God’s message of a totally free righteousness. It’s the same message that lit a fire in Luther leading to the Reformation. What I love about this book is that it helps any and all join Luther in discovering and celebrating the message of God’s extravagant mercy as it’s uniquely presented in Paul’s Letter 
to the Romans. Luther’s world-changing insights are all there and easy to grasp, made even more accessible by RJ’s personal and pastoral observations. Don’t just read Romans, read it with Luther and let its message of a totally free righteousness change you too.

The Epistle to the Romans contains some of the Bible’s richest explorations of the Gospel. Luther’s commentary on Romans shows how great a theologian—that is, an expositor of Scripture—
he is. In this book, RJ Grunewald serves up extracts from both St. Paul and Luther and then explains and applies them in an utterly fresh, contemporary, and illuminating way. With its three voices—those of St. Paul, Luther, and Rev. Grunewald—this book is a highly original, extremely readable treatment of our justification by Christ. Laypeople will read it with pleasure and give it to their non-Christian friends.

RJ has done it again. He has taken the deep and sometimes hardto-navigate writings of Martin Luther and has not only given us a road map to understanding but also taken our hand and gently led 
us along the path. This book is rich. This book is relatable. This book is beautiful. Buy it. You won’t regret it.

Rightly understanding the Book of Romans is critical to rightly understanding the entire Bible. RJ Grunewald’s Reading Romans with Luther is a fantastic resource that will help you better comprehend the Book of Romans and give you the biblical understanding necessary to understand the depth of our sinful condition, the magnitude of God’s grace and mercy, how to properly appropriate 
Law and Gospel, and how to correctly understand how good works flow from faith into the lives of believers without slipping back into works-righteousness. This is a wonderful little book.

Church Planting principles from LCMC

The LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) encourage church planting with a biblical basis and focus....

Many of the congregations of the LCMC arose due to hurts

So the first step they recommend is that if this is the case for you and those who you are looking to church plant with, that you take some time to heal from a time of struggle, to spend time in prayer, participate in a worshipping community and spend time in reflection.  It is very important that anyone hurting comes to terms with their loss, and begin working toward forgiveness and healing.

But planting a church is not just being called out of a situation, it is being called to a situation!!

Jesus’ call is always for a purpose.

In their article  they explore the steps that are involved in being called to plant a church with a Jesus centred purpose:

  • Consider the Great Commission
  • Take time to reflect on, discuss and decide what is the mission, vision and purpose God has called us to.
  • Get organised
  • Gather around the Lord's Supper
  • Plan to grow
You can read their article fully by visiting

6 Christmas videos

8 Articles to read from Outreach magazine

Outreach magazine is a bi monthly magazine offering articles and information orientated around outreach and mission...

8 recent articles from the Outreach magazine worth a reading

An Evangelism Equation for Non-Evangelists By Mark R. Teasdale
“Most of our church members are ready to grow in their faith as well as share that faith. They just feel unequipped to do so.”

5 Ways to Get People to Pay Attention When You Preach By Charles Stone
“Here are five neuroscience insights to keep in mind as you prepare your sermons.”

8 Habits of Healthy Church Leaders By Matt Brown
Matt Brown: “We are called by a great God. May we never be stagnant or half-hearted in that calling!”

13 Pastor Mistakes That Hinder Growth By Brian Jones
“Here are 13 common mistakes that lead to sluggish growth, or even decline. Fix these and watch what happens.”

Chris Stephens: ‘Jesus Never Defended Tradition’ By Meredee Berg
“My greatest concern is that churches are hanging on to tradition and losing the power of the gospel.”

Pastoring Portlandia: Dispatches From America’s Post-Christian Frontier By Paul J. Pastor
What does it take to shepherd believers in America’s post-Christian frontier? Cutting-edge savvy and old-time practices.

Pastoring Portlandia: John Mark Comer By Paul J. Pastor
“What a post-Christian world is making us do is get back to the the countercultural, revolutionary lifestyle of Jesus.”

Pastoring Portlandia: Rick McKinley By Paul J. Pastor
“The gospel is enough! We don’t have to sell out or hide in a self-protective group, shivering at the culture around us.”

Books for Year A - The cultural world of the prophets, Jesus and the apostles

John J Pilch has produced some easy to read material that offer some historial and literary information on each of the readings and psalm for the Sundays in the lectionary for Year A.

Each of the books explore the cultural world of the prophets, Jesus and the apostles offering informaton about aspects of the cultural world in which the authors of these documents and their original recipients lived.  Such information helps too identify plausible links with the gospel for each Sunday and encourages the reader to explore their pastoral applications to modern life.


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Book: Together by Grace: Introducing the Lutherans (Together by Grace)

Courageous. Trailblazing. Diverse. Action-oriented. When people think of the various Christian churches, those words might not be ones they attach to the Lutherans—but they should be! Yes, they have roots in northern Europe, but the people called Lutherans offer liberating insights into Christian faith, encompass a worldwide reach, and tell a story that goes back 500 years while pointing to the future.

This volume takes us on a journey across this broad landscape of faith and time. Over two dozen gifted writers—scholars, pastors, leaders, activists—paint a colorful map for this journey. Newcomers will find intriguing entry points, and lifelong Lutherans will discover new dimensions. Whether it's a passion for a grace-filled theology, worship and music that lift spirits, or a deep concern for wholeness and justice, Lutherans are engaged in the world, alongside other Christians and those of various faiths.

Sections include:

  • The Faith we confess
  • 16th Century to today
  • Worship and arts
  • Faith active in love
  • Being Lutheran in the wider world
  • Global Lutheran stories
A free study guide is available here