Friday, August 04, 2017

Study: One in the Gospel 2016 edition

One in the Gospel - the Formula of Concord for our day is more than a commentary about the Formula of Concord, it explores how the Formula of Concord speaks to some of today's basic questions that we face throughout our life, including:
  • What are we here for? 
  • Where are we heading? 
  • Is there a God who cares?
  • What is expected of me?
This is a newly revised and updated edition of a book that first appeared in 1979 under the same title. The first edition, which gained a large readership, was particularly appreciated by lay people and was widely studied in church groups. The book helped many readers understand - sometimes for the first time in their life - what the gospel, the central message of the Christian faith, really is.

Contents include:

  • Discovering our identity
  • Dialogue with the Gospel
  • We are beggars - Is it true?
  • How do I find faith?
  • No strings attached!!
  • Fruits on a Good tree
  • Sinners and Saints
  • For Christ's sake, yes!!
  • Jesus only
  • Blueprint for action
  • Louder than words
  • And there's no other God
  • Happy ending?
  • Free -  to serve the Gospel
  • Chosen!!
  • Is God choosy?
  • Our Lutheran identity

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Book: Protestants: The Faith That Made the Modern World

Five hundred years ago a stubborn German monk challenged the Pope with a radical vision of what Christianity could be. The revolution he set in motion toppled governments, upended social norms and transformed millions of people’s understanding of their relationship with God. In this dazzling history, Alec Ryrie makes the case that we owe many of the rights and freedoms we have cause to take for granted–from free speech to limited government–to our Protestant roots.

Fired up by their faith, Protestants have embarked on courageous journeys into the unknown like many rebels and refugees who made their way to our shores. Protestants created America and defined its special brand of entrepreneurial diligence. Some turned to their bibles to justify bold acts of political opposition, others to spurn orthodoxies and insight on their God-given rights. Above all Protestants have fought for their beliefs, establishing a tradition of principled opposition and civil disobedience that is as alive today as it was 500 years ago. In this engrossing and magisterial work, Alec Ryrie makes the case that whether or not you are yourself a Protestant, you live in a world shaped by Protestants.

Part I The Reformation Age  
Chapter 1 Luther and the Fanatics   p. 15
  The Call of Reform   p. 16
  An Accidental Revolutionary   p. 19
  "Captive to the Word of God"   p. 28
  The Fanatics' Reformation   p. 35
Chapter 2 Protectors and Tyrants   p. 40
  Taming the Reformation   p. 40
  The Two Kingdoms   p. 47
  Chaos and Order   p. 52
  Revolutionary Saints   p. 56
Chapter 3 The Failure of Calvinism   p. 61
  Parallel Reformations   p. 61
  Calvin's Contribution   p. 65
  Lutheranism in Search of Concord   p. 69
  Dreams of Union   p. 72
  The Unraveling of Calvinism   p. 78
Chapter 4 Heretics, Martyrs, and Witches   p. 84
  Martyrdom and Heresy   p. 85
  Turning the Tide   p. 90
  The Luxury of Intolerance   p. 95
  The Devil's Minions   p. 102
Chapter 5 The British Maelstrom   p. 107
  An Unlikely War   p. 108
  Winning the Peace   p. 113
  Journeys into the Unknown   p. 120
  Quakers and Anglicans   p. 127
Chapter 6 From the Waters of Babylon to a City on a Hill   p. 132
  An Age of Exiles   p. 133
  American Pilgrimages   p. 138
  Preaching to the Nations   p. 143
Part II The Modern Age    
Chapter 7 Enthusiasm and Its Enemies   p. 155
  The Pietist Adventure   p. 158
  Moravian Riders   p. 168
  Methodism: Pietism's English Stepchild   p. 171
  The Revivals' New World   p. 176
Chapter 8 Slaves to Christ   p. 183
  The Emergence of Protestant Slavery   p. 184
  Living with Slavery   p. 188
  The Road to Abolition   p. 195
  The Gospel of Slavery   p. 200
  Slavery's Lessons   p. 206
Chapter 9 Protestantism's Wild West   p. 209
  Big-Tent Protestantism   p. 210
  The Communitarian Alternative   p. 217
  The Narrow Way   p. 221
  Witnessing for Jehovah   p. 226
  Latter-Day Protestants   p. 231
Chapter 10 The Ordeals of Liberalism   p. 238
  The Liberal Project   p. 240
  God's Successive Revelations   p. 246
  The Book of Nature   p. 250
  Liberalism in the Trenches   p. 255
Chapter 11 Two Kingdoms in the Third Reich   p. 265
  Making Peace with Nazism   p. 268
  De-Judaizing Christianity   p. 273
  Shades of Opposition   p. 277
  The Limits of the Possible   p. 284
Chapter 12 Religious Left and Religious Right   p. 291
  Saving Civilization in the Age of World War II   p. 296
  The Gospel of Civil Rights   p. 304
  Prophetic Christianity in the 1960s   p. 309
  The Crisis of the Religious Left   p. 316
Part III The Global Age    
Chapter 13 Redeeming South Africa   p. 327
  Settlers and Missionaries   p. 328
  Blood River   p. 333
  "Separate Development"   p. 340
  The Trek to Repentance   p. 352
  The Independent Witness   p. 359
Chapter 14 Korea in Adversity and Prosperity   p. 362
  Missionary Beginnings   p. 363
  Revival and Nationalism   p. 368
  South Korea's Journey   p. 375
  Full Gospels   p. 380
  Northern Fears and Hopes   p. 385
Chapter 15 Chinese Protestantism's Long March   p. 391
  Dreams and Visions   p. 392
  Protestants and imperialists   p. 399
  Death and Resurrection in the People's Republic   p. 404
  Believing in Modern China   p. 413
  China's Protestant Future   p. 419
Chapter 16 Pentecostalism: An Old Flame   p. 425
  A Tangle of Origins   p. 426
  The Pentecostal Experience   p. 433
  Becoming a Global Faith   p. 443
  The Politics of Pentecostalism   p. 447
  Epilogue: The Protestant Future   p. 455
  Old Quarrels and New   p. 456
  Protestants in the World   p. 464

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Commentary: Hebrews

The Concordia Commentary series is known to be one of the most reliable, Biblically sound commentaries today. This commentary on the Book of Hebrews focuses on the confidence believers have in God and the Kingdom that awaits them in the life to come. The author breaks down the book, drawing out small details and exposing larger themes. This book is sure to serve as a trusty guide for personal or academic theological studies.
The Book of Hebrews is one of encouragement, hope, and confidence.  Jesus Christ is shown to be our great High Priest, the greater Moses, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies, the sacrifice for the world’s sins. By faith, we, like those listed in the well-known passage in chapter 11, place our hope in God.
This commentary is built on the common agreement that this book is a written sermon by an unknown speaker.   John Kleinig, the author of this Concordia Commentary, proposes an interpretation of the text that uses a new kind of liturgical rhetoric, a new method of discourse analysis, and a new consideration of the context and purpose of the homily.
May this commentary encourage you to continue to place your hope in “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).

Friday, July 28, 2017

Free Reformation poster exhibition

Host a free Reformation poster exhibition
The poster exhibition “#HereIstand. Martin Luther, the Reformation and its Results” shows the upheavals of the 16th century. It comprises up to 30 posters in the A1 format (84.1 x 59.4 centimetres, 4/0coloured). The exhibition has a modular structure, so that it can also be displayed on smaller premises.

With modern, scientifically substantiated, and attractively designed information graphics, the exhibition shows the most important events in the history of the Reformation, and its effects up to the present. Using the biography of Martin Luther as a starting point, insight is given into the time prior to the Reformation. The exhibition then directs its focus to the dynamics of the Reformation, which unfolded after Luther’s posting of his 95 theses against the sale of indulgences, and deals with central questions of the history of the Reformation: 
What was actually new about Luther’s theology? 
What happened in Wittenberg in 1517? 
How did the new teaching spread?

In addition to the information graphics, the exhibition also includes seven large images of high-quality museum exhibits. As a special feature, original exhibits that have been 3D-scanned can be downloaded and printed out with a 3D printer.

For more information and to download the posters visit:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Bible Project

The Bible project's mission is to show how the Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus.
The Bible Project is a  non-profit animation studio that produces short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. 
They create videos, podcasts, and study guides that explore the Bible’s unified story.

Their approach is underpinned by the belief that the Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. They are committed to understanding the Bible in its historical context and communicating its wisdom for the modern world.

They value creativity, technology, and people.

Videos available are available for:
  • every book of the bible
  • themes of the bible
  • sections of the bible

To download videos and discover more visit 

Book: When your heart breaks - navigating grief and loss

Whether you have lost a job, a dream, a friendship, or a loved one, you mourn. You might mourn for a few weeks, or your grief may extend for years. Sadness seems to build a permanent residence in your bones, weighing down your soul. You wonder if you’ll ever feel whole again.


God plunges into your heartbreak and works abiding and holy transformation in your life. It may take months or years for you to heal, but you can ground your hope for healing in Jesus. 
He will always be your hope when your heart breaks.

When your heart breaks gives you an opportunity for  a place of refuge and a point of reference as you navigate the path of grief.    Grieving occurs in many situations in life; grief is usually associated with death, but it can occur after any loss-divorce, layoffs, the end of a friendship.    The book can be read cover to cover, or readers can flip to one of the 52 devotions that will help them most in this season of life.    The focus of each chapter is the presence of God in the midst of grief and the comfort and hope that can be found in that knowledge.

Where you can buy Hope when your heart breaks
QBD (Australia)
Booktopia (Australia)

What others are saying
Written from a grace-filled pastor’s heart, Michael Newman has penned an essential resource for embracing hope amidst grief. Hope dims when life’s storms hit, but Michael skillfully uses Scripture to ignite the torch of healing. His beautiful insights into grief tell us he’s been there. He wraps God’s words of hope around the grieving like a toasty blanket on a frosty night. Compassionate, crucial, Christ-centered—and critically needed. I will absorb and share this brilliant resource for years to come.

Grief is messy. Life after loss doesn’t follow an ordered and predictable path, but looks more like a tangled plate of spaghetti. Navigating confusing emotions and thoughts requires a reliable guide, and you’ve got a friend in Michael W. Newman. Grief is messy, and Michael Newman understands messy. These short chapters explore the untidy realities of what happens after loss. Hope When Your Heart Breaks validates the pain of loss, offers helpful insight, and gently points to a Savior who redeems your suffering with purpose and hope. Read and gift this book. You will be comforted and the Holy Spirit will grow your faith.

This is a refreshing book! The Bible is absolutely unique among the sacred writings of all religions. It is the historical description of God’s love influencing the lives of real people facing real situations. Michael Newman has taken this unique reality and put it to use in the daily struggles of the Christian. He offers a clear connection between biblical life situations and the reader’s daily life. Through it all, he shows the intricate way that God’s love is at work in the lives of His people, giving direction and hope to those struggling with difficult emotions and tough situations.

Michael Newman’s book . . . demonstrates a personal and pastoral acquaintance with the gut-wrenching realities of the grief process from a variety of losses—death of a loved one, loss of a job, family crisis, and dramatic changes in the aging process. The issues and questions raised by each chapter strike raw emotions, thoughts, and faith struggles at various stages in the grief process. Each chapter also connects the struggle with biblical narratives and comforting Christ-centered passages, which bring hope to the situation while encouraging the ongoing work of grief. I strongly recommend this book for personal
use and for giving to family and friends in need.

There is a reason they call it grief work. This resource honors the process of grief, as well as the value of the loss experience, the tears, the struggle, and the sadness even. It also recognizes the breadth of diversity in the grief experience for each individual. The text is artfully organized so that the readers can pick it up and look through a section that speaks to them, or read through the book as a whole. The insight into the humanity of those who have walked through loss in Scripture is unique and deeply comforting. If you are grieving, if you are walking alongside someone who is grieving, if you are in clinical practice or offer spiritual care, this book is a welcome resource for your shelf!

Grief is involved in every change in life. Michael Newman understands this and seeks to find the threads of grief that are in life experiences such as fear, anger, depression, guilt, and purposelessness. Each of the fifty-two devotional chapters is independent of the others. The meditation itself will connect with you; devotional guides follow every chapter for further spiritual work; prayer encouragement and direction end each chapter.

Michael Newman speaks the truth in love with empathy and acknowledgment of what happens to a person during grief and loss— emotionally, physically, chemically, spiritually, and relationally. He writes about the reality of life and brings our focus back to our Lord God through Scripture in a nonthreatening way. When one is weakened by grief, he or she can’t concentrate on a whole book or a long reading, but these short chapters get right to the point. I recommend this book as a resource for parish nurses, lay ministers, Stephen Ministers, pastors, and others who walk alongside someone experiencing heartbreak.

Grief hits us all at various times throughout our lives. This book gives encouragement by taking us on a journey through the lives of people in the Scriptures who grieve, yes, but with the hope that comes from trusting in the God of heaven and earth, the one who rules over life and death, who conquers grief with eternal joy. It is a book to share, but even more importantly, it is a book to read.

Michael Newman provides the reader with insight, sensitivity, and encouragement. He consistently shares the love of God and assures us that Jesus understands and cares. His personal style suggests that the author also understands and cares. As a parish nurse, I will use this book with individuals and groups experiencing grief and loss. I also recommend that parish nurses and others involved in congregational health ministry read and discuss in small groups to enhance their compassionate care to the person who is grieving.

When looking through a prism, light is refracted into a full spectrum of colors. Michael W. Newman accomplishes the same thing here, treating grief as a prism through which we see the full spectrum of emotions and experiences that loss brings to life. The conversational tone of his writing makes the reader feel as if he has crawled into his or her mind, truly grasping the nuances of grief as one struggles to move from brokenness to healing. Best of all, each and every chapter clearly articulates that we cannot accomplish this on our own, pointing to Jesus Christ as the true source of hope and strength. A must-have for all of us, at any stage of life.


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Book: What's so great about Christianity?

In a world of facts and figures, can an intellectual have faith? 
Is it possible to believe anything the Bible says? 
Yes, and one man will show you how.
Amidst scientists’ attempts to debunk Christianity’s truths and atheists’ assuming the Bible is a how-to-be-virtuous self-help book, bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza resolves to both answer the tough questions and challenge believers as well as doubters to search for the ultimate truths about theories of origin. D’Souza tackles subjects and events such as the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, the Big Bang theory and Darwinism—everything you always pondered but never scrutinized, now placed under the proverbial microscope and studied thoroughly.

Part I: The Future of Christianity
Chapter One The Twilight of Atheism: The Global Triumph of Christianity . . . . . 3
Chapter Two Survival of the Sacred: Why Religion Is Winning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Chapter Three God Is Not Great: The Atheist Assault on Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Chapter Four Miseducating the Young: Saving Children from Their Parents . . . 17
Part II: Christianity and the West
Chapter Five Render unto Caesar: The Spiritual Basis of Limited Government . . . . . . . 25
Chapter Six The Evil That I Would Not: Christianity and Human Fallibility . . . 31
Chapter Seven Created Equal: The Origin of Human Dignity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Part III: Christianity and Science
Chapter Eight Christianity and Reason: The Theological Roots of Science . . .. . 41
Chapter Nine From Logos to Cosmos: Christianity and the Invention of Invention . . 45
Chapter Ten An Atheist Fable: Reopening the Galileo Case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Part IV: The Argument from Design
Chapter Eleven A Universe with a Beginning: God and the Astronomers . . . . . . . 57
Chapter Twelve A Designer Planet: Man’s Special Place in Creation . . . . . . . . . . 61
Chapter Thirteen Paley Was Right: Evolution and the Argument from Design. . . . . 67
Chapter Fourteen The Genesis Problem: The Methodological Atheism of Science . . . 73
Part V: Christianity and Philosophy
Chapter Fifteen The World Beyond Our Senses: Kant and the Limits of Reason. . . 79
Chapter Sixteen In the Belly of the Whale: Why Miracles Are Possible . . . . . . . . . . 83
Chapter Seventeen A Skeptic’s Wager: Pascal and the Reasonableness of Faith . . . . 87
Part VI: Christianity and Suffering
Chapter Eighteen Rethinking the Inquisition: The Exaggerated Crimes of Religion . . 93
Chapter Nineteen A License to Kill: Atheism and the Mass Murders of History . . . . 95
Part VII: Christianity and Morality
Chapter Twenty Natural Law and Divine Law: The Objective Foundations of Morality .  101
Chapter Twenty-One The Ghost in the Machine: Why Man Is More Than Matter . . . . . 105
Chapter Twenty-Two The Imperial “I”: When the Self Becomes the Arbiter of Morality .109
Chapter Twenty-Three Opiate of the Morally Corrupt: Why Unbelief Is So Appealing . 113
Chapter Twenty-Four The Problem of Evil: Where Is Atheism When Bad Things Happen? 119
Part VIII: Christianity and You
Chapter Twenty-Five Jesus among Other Gods: The Uniqueness of Christianity . . . . . 125
Chapter Twenty-Six A Foretaste of Eternity: How Christianity Can Change Your Life . . .129

To buy the book visit here

For a free study guide to accompany the book visit here

Monday, July 03, 2017

Book: I've Got Your Back: Biblical Principles for Leading and Following Well

If Jesus wrote a book about leadership today, he would tell a story. That's what the Jim Galvin decided when he tore up his first draft. 
Instead, Jim wrote a parable about four twenty-somethings who are having major problems with bad bosses. 
Jack Hendrickson, a retired Army Special Forces Sergeant and former missionary, begins to teach them Biblical principles about leadership and when they put it into practice at work, it makes their lives worse!  Experienced leaders are calling I've Got Your Back a landmark book to help next generation leaders with a Biblical foundation for leadership. Many talented young people have been victims of follower abuse. They don't want anything to do with leadership positions. Some have issues with authority and need guidance to heal. Galvin writes about a new kind of leader the world is desperate to follow. At the end of the parable, the author outlines Biblical principles of followership, as well as leadership, because everybody needs to learn how to lead and follow well.

Article: So you think your church is failing

So what are the options of 80% of U.S. churches whose worship is less than 100, are facing a steady to rapid decline and can remember being 2 to 10 times larger than they currently are?
John Ficken at Pastoral Leadership institute 3 choices for such churches not only to survive but to thrive as God's people.
Check out his article at

Course: By heart

By Heart is a course built around three kinds of source material that the creators see as essential to a meaningful experience of Luther’s Small Catechism.

  • Scripture and Tradition. For example, the Ten Commandments as cited in Exodus 20 or the Apostle’s Creed as we have it from Christian traditions.
  • Luther’s explanations of the scripture or doctrine from Christian traditions.
  • The "backstory" of Luther’s own life and times, the fertile soil of the Reformation itself.

There is also a "For You" Focus where the contributions to By Heart address the reader in the second person. This is to keep faith with both the everyday, ground-level language that Luther uses in the explanations and to embody the declarative nature of the gospel which he strove to encode in that language. By adhering to the "for-you-ness" of the gospel in the design of this course we hope to do some justice to Luther’s intentions in the Small Catechism.

About -  the book
This comprehensive resource for the study of Martin Luther's Small Catechism examines the Small Catechism as a historical, confessional document rich with history and applicable to life today. Augsburg Fortress is pleased to offer By Heart: Conversations with Martin Luther's Small Catechism to meet the needs of those looking to explore scripture, tradition, and Luther's explanations, set among the backstory of Luther's life.
The authors of each chapter bridge the historical context of the Small Catechism with life today by addressing the reader in the second person. It is in keeping with the everyday language that Luther used in the explanations and embodies the declarative nature of the gospel that he strove to encode in that language.
The book follows the order of Martin Luther's Small Catechism and is enriched with images (contemporary and historical) and marginal notes that connect the text to history and also to life today. This book is both visually pleasing and informative, written in an approachable manner that will provide enrichment to personal study and inspire conversations in small groups. It provides an initial point from which to jump into the rich history of the person of Martin Luther, beginning with one of his most appreciated works.

The starter pack includes:

  • a copy of the book By Heart: Conversations with Martin Luther’s Small Catechism,
  • a Facilitator Guide, 
  • the Course DVD

Children's Book: The Life of Martin Luther: A Pop-Up Book

The story of Martin Luther and his role in sparking the Protestant Reformation is given an interactive retelling in this beautiful and sturdy pop-up book. From Luther's decision to become a monk to his 95 theses, history jumps off the page through the vibrant, colorful illustrations of renowned artist and paper engineer Agostino Traini. Full of surprising details, this book will have kids coming back again and again to learn about this fascinating chapter in the history of the Christian faith. Published in time for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, The Life of Martin Luther is also an excellent gift for anyone with an interest in the history of the Christian church.
Scholars disagree on some aspects of Martin Luther's biography. In this book for children, we've chosen to tell the popular version of Luther's life story, while also drawing on the expertise of historians.

To order the book visit here

10 new books on Luther and the Reformation

Recently released reformation and Martin Luther resources

This brief, insightful biography of Martin Luther strips away the myths surrounding the Reformer to offer a more nuanced account of his life and ministry. Coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, this accessible yet robustly historical and theological work highlights the medieval background of Luther's life in contrast to contemporary legends. Internationally respected church historian Volker Leppin explores the Catholic roots of Lutheran thought and locates Luther's life in the unfolding history of 16th-century Europe. Foreword by Timothy J. Wengert.
Martin Luther is well known for initiating one of the most influential movements in church history—the Reformation. But this fascinating nonconformist, praised as a hero or criticized as a heretic throughout history, was first and foremost a man searching for God. This new biography by leading Reformation scholar Herman Selderhuis digs deep into the heart and mind of Luther, following him on his spiritual journey and revealing the many facets of his powerful personality, from loving husband and father, to serious monk, to feared opponent, to compelling preacher and writer. Selderhuis supplements his work with Luther's own words to help us see him as a man of flesh and blood, full of faith and full of faults, with a deep longing to live for God.

On All Hallow’s Eve in 1517, a young monk named Martin Luther posted a document he hoped would spark an academic debate, but that instead ignited a conflagration that would forever destroy the world he knew. Five hundred years after Luther’s now famous 95 Theses appeared, Eric Metaxas, acclaimed biographer of the bestselling Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, paints a startling portrait of the wild figure whose adamantine faith cracked the edifice of Western Christendom and dragged medieval Europe into the future. Written in riveting prose and impeccably researched, Martin Luther tells the searing tale of a humble man who, by bringing ugly truths to the highest seats of power, caused the explosion whose sound is still ringing in our ears. Luther’s monumental faith and courage gave birth to the ideals of faith, virtue, and freedom that today lie at the heart of all modern life.
A major new account of the most intensely creative years of Luther's career
The Making of Martin Luther takes a provocative look at the intellectual emergence of one of the most original and influential minds of the sixteenth century. Richard Rex traces how, in a concentrated burst of creative energy in the few years surrounding his excommunication by Pope Leo X in 1521, this lecturer at an obscure German university developed a startling new interpretation of the Christian faith that brought to an end the dominance of the Catholic Church in Europe. Luther's personal psychology and cultural context played their parts in the whirlwind of change he unleashed. But for the man himself, it was always about the ideas, the truth, and the Gospel.
Focusing on the most intensely important years of Luther's career, Rex teases out the threads of his often paradoxical and counterintuitive ideas from the tangled thickets of his writings, explaining their significance, their interconnections, and the astonishing appeal they so rapidly developed. Yet Rex also sets these ideas firmly in the context of Luther's personal life, the cultural landscape that shaped him, and the traditions of medieval Catholic thought from which his ideas burst forth.
Lucidly argued and elegantly written, The Making of Martin Luther is a splendid work of intellectual history that renders Luther's earthshaking yet sometimes challenging ideas accessible to a new generation of readers.
On the 500th anniversary of the Reformation comes this compelling, illuminating, and expansive religious history that examines the complicated and unintended legacies of Martin Luther and the epochal movement that continues to shape the world today.
For five centuries, Martin Luther has been lionized as an outspoken and fearless icon of change who ended the Middle Ages and heralded the beginning of the modern world. In Rebel in the Ranks, Brad Gregory, renowned professor of European history at Notre Dame, recasts this long-accepted portrait. Luther did not intend to start a revolution that would divide the Catholic Church and forever change Western civilization. Yet his actions would profoundly shape our world in ways he could never have imagined.
Gregory analyzes Luther’s inadvertent role in starting the Reformation and the epochal changes that followed. He reveals how Luther’s insistence on the Bible as the sole authority for Christian truth led to conflicting interpretations of its meaning—and to the rise of competing churches, political conflicts, and social upheavals. Ultimately, he contends, some of the major historical and cultural developments that arose in its wake—including the Enlightenment, individual self-determination and moral relativism, and a religious freedom that protects one’s right to worship or even to reject religion—would have appalled Luther: a reluctant revolutionary, a rebel in the ranks, whose goal was to make society more Christian, yet instead set the world on fire.
Germany, 1505
In the dark of night, Katharina von Bora says the bravest good-bye a six-year-old can muster and walks away as the heavy convent gate closes behind her.
Though the cold walls offer no comfort, Katharina soon finds herself calling the convent her home. God, her father. This, her life. She takes her vows―a choice more practical than pious―but in time, a seed of discontent is planted by the smuggled writings of a rebellious excommunicated priest named Martin Luther. Their message? That Katharina is subject to God, and no one else. Could the Lord truly desire more for her than this life of servitude?
In her first true step of faith, Katharina leaves the only life she has ever known. But the freedom she has craved comes with a price, and she finds she has traded one life of isolation for another. Without the security of the convent walls or a family of her own, Katharina must trust in both the God who saved her and the man who paved a way for rescue. Luther’s friends are quick to offer shelter, but Katharina longs for all Luther has promised: a home, a husband, perhaps even the chance to fall in love.
Katharina von Bora, wife of Martin Luther, was by any measure the First Lady of the Reformation. A strong woman with a mind of her own, she would remain unknown to us were it not for her larger than life husband. Unlike other noted Reformation women, her primary vocation was not related to ministry. She was a farmer and a brewer with a boarding house the size of a Holiday Inn - and all that with a large family and nursing responsibilities. In many ways, Katie was a modern woman - a Lean In woman or a modern-day version of a Proverbs 31 woman. Katharina's voice echoes among modern women, wives and mothers who have carved out a career of their own.
Decisive and assertive, she transformed Martin Luther into at least a practicing egalitarian. Katharina was a full partner who was a no-nonsense, confident and determined woman, a starke Frau who did not cower when confronted by a powerful man.
Ruth Tucker invites readers to visit Katie Luther in her sixteenth-century village life - with its celebrations and heartaches, housing, diet, fashion, childbirth, child-rearing and gender restrictions - and to welcome her today into our own living rooms and workplaces.
As the Reformation anniversaries approach there will be no lack of publishing initiatives to help the general reader understand the importance of those exciting times. Armin Kohnle's Martin Luther: Scholar, Heretic, Husband is an outstanding and visually rich introduction to the life and times of the man whose efforts changed society forever. As the subtitle makes clear, Luther was a complex and complicated person. Kohnle's book works chronologically through the Reformer's life, telling the story of his early years, his life in the monastery, as well as his years as a teacher, reformer, and family man in clear, quick moving prose. The book also includes important background information and interpretive sections to help readers understand the implications. Translated by Linda Maloney, the book also includes extensive illustrations from the time, maps, and photos from the places as they are today are on nearly every page and give the reader a rich, visual experience.

Where was the gospel before the Reformation?
Contemporary evangelicals often struggle to answer that question. As a result, many Roman Catholics are quick to allege that the Reformation understanding of the gospel simply did not exist before the 1500s. They assert that key Reformation doctrines, like sola fide, were nonexistent in the first fifteen centuries of church history. Rather, they were invented by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others.
That is a serious charge, and one that evangelicals must be ready to answer. If an evangelical understanding of the gospel is only 500 years old, we are in major trouble. However, if it can be demonstrated that Reformers were not inventing something new, but instead were recovering something old, then key tenets of the Protestant faith are greatly affirmed. Hence, the need for this book.

At the 500th anniversary of the Wittenberg Reformation, two highly regarded scholars compare and contrast the history and theological positions of the Reformed and Lutheran traditions. The authors tackle nine important theological topics significant for the life of the church that remain a source of division between the two traditions. The book helps readers evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the Reformed and Lutheran approaches to presenting the biblical message and invites honest, irenic, and open dialogue within the Protestant family.

Building Church Leaders

Building Church Leaders resources are produced by Christianity Today, and provide customizable leadership resources for every kind of church ministry.
Their downloadable, easy-to-use Training Tools provide everything you need to prepare a relevant training session in a matter of minutes.   Each resource is designed with church boards, committees, staff, or volunteers in mind.   You select the topical tool that fits what you want to accomplish, download it, make copies if needed, and lead a discussion with your team or use them for your own personal development.
Whether it’s continuing education or an urgent need, Building Church Leaders provides the best practical ministry insights to help grow leaders into greater Kingdom impact. 

Resources available for:

  • Leadership including:   Orientation Guides for leaders, Church Board & Elders, Leadership Skills, Staffing Forms & Essentials, Administrative Forms and Training New Leaders.
  • Congregation and visitors including:  Discipleship, Membership, Welcoming Visitors, and Outreach  
  • Vision and goals including:  Vision Casting, Strategic Planning, Stewardship & Giving, Small Churches and Mentoring
  • Children's Ministry
  • Women Leaders
  • Small-Groups Ministry

Resources offered include:
Best Church Practices
Case Studies
Church Administration
Orientation Guides
Practical Ministry Skills
Survival Guides
Training Themes
Urgent Care Tools
Worship Essentials

You can puchase individual resources or become a member for free access

Visit for more information

Book: Faithfull Generation: 10 foundations for lifelong faith formation with children in families, churches and communities

Faithfull Generation brings together 10 key insights about how we can help ourselves and our churches develop resilient faith in our children.

The 10 key insights include:
Community: helping the church to thrive as a growing, intergenerational faith community, whilst supporting the family as a key place of spiritual nurture
Encounter: creating opportunities for children to connect with the big story of the Bible and space where they can encounter the living Jesus for themselves.
Dialogue: Encouraging faith to be both talked out and lived out, within peer relationships and supported by the wider church family.
Milestones: Enabling peak experiences in the lives of children and celebrating key moments and anchor points in their life and spiritual journey.
Action: Allowing children to contribute as active participants in mission and giving them the opportunity to respond with compassion to the world around them.

Each contribution is from a hands-on practitioner active in children's ministry and advocacy. Each chapter introduces the writer and also contains suggestions for further reading and practical resource material.

The Faithfull Generation project is the work of several Christian agencies and denominations and is promoting dialogue, learning communities and resource promotion around all of the 10 key insights.

Buy this book here

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Spread of the Gospel Map

This animated map is a powerful visual depiction of the most important movement in history: the spread of Christianity. Every frame is one year in the last 2000 years of the Great Commission. It does not show only nations that have declared Christianity to be the national religion, or even areas where professing Christians are the majority of the population.  It shows everywhere the Gospel has been preached, where churches and Christian gravestones first show external evidence of that work, and where churches and Bibles are accessible today.
For contrast and context the map shows also how Islam, Roman Empire, Byzatine Empire, Mongol Empire and Communism spread and decreased.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Book: The illuminated Catechism

The Illuminated Catechism is more than just a coloring book: Bible passages, short devotionals, complementary hymns, selections from Martin Luther, and delightful illustrations invite you to reflect on God’s grace, pray, and deepen your understanding of the Christian faith. There are also blank spaces for your doodling, journaling, and reflection.

This coloring book encourages active interaction with Luther’s Small Catechism; with each stroke of your colored utensil of choice, you’ll grow closer to your Savior. And, after you’ve worked your way through the book, you’ll have a beautiful treasure to admire and read again and again.

Perfect for new confirmands or any Lutheran interested in coloring, The Illuminated Catechism will inspire meditation on God’s Word and application of the catechism to daily life.

Book: Will the real Jesus please stand up

In our culture of personalization, where everything is customizable, Jesus is often reworked into what each individual wants Him to be. Jesus is aligned to a person's agendas and dreams, making it easier for him or her to agree with Him.
Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?: 12 False Christs, aims to address the many incorrect versions of Jesus present in today's culture. 
Whether Jesus is seen as a patriot, a social justice warrior, a therapist, or a giver of bling, these many false christs diminish the real Christ - the Savior of the world who defies our culture's standards. 
This book looks to the Bible to reveal that the real Jesus is already standing, while the false christs are not able to stand on their own.

Matthew Richard helps us understand who Jesus really is by unpacking some of the forms of Jesus we endeavour to create including

  • The Mascot Jesus
  • The Option Among Many Jesus
  • The Good Teacher Jesus
  • The Therapist Jesus
  • The Giver of Bling Jesus
  • The National Patriot Jesus
  • The Social Justice Warrior Jesus
  • The Moral Example Jesus
  • The New Moses Jesus
  • The Mystical Friend Jesus
  • The Feminized Jesus
  • The Teddy Bear Jesus

Will the Jesus please stand up is available here

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Ebook: Bring Jesus

Bring Jesus is a series of Mission focused articles with study guides that appeared in  The Lutheran magazine (Australia) (2014-15) written by the Lutheran Church of Australia's, South Australian and Northern Territory District Mission Director, Steen Olsen.   
Articles include:

  • Wherever I go I bring Jesus
  • God at work
  • It doesn’t depend on you
  • Inviting others to believe
  • No clones here!
  • What are we waiting for?
  • Evangelism must die!
  • Let Jesus speak!
  • A welcome peace
  • We want to grow!
  • Christmas at the margins
  • I am making all things new!
  • Prayer: As individual as you are
  • Gospel glimmers in unlikely places
  • Making room for more people
  • Welcoming the stranger
  • Pregnant congregations bring life
  • Dare to be different
  • Set free
  • Christmas blows away the fog about God

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

500 years of Global Protestanism infographic

Center for the Study of Global Christianity has developed a 2 page infographic focussed on the 500 years of Protestanism.   This is available from here

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Online Course: Church Online Communications Comprehensive

Bulletins, newsletters, emails, websites, Facebook page - does your church communications leave you feeling overwhelmed and under accomplished?

Join Peter Frank, Senior Marketing Manager of Concordia Technology Solutions, as he leads you through this new 14-week training course titled Church Online Communications Comprehensive. 

Every week, Peter will share on an aspect of online communications with practical advice on how to implement a cohesive strategy for your church.

Topics will include: 

  • Church and Communication Goals
  • Determining and Assigning Personas
  • Content Mapping
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Media and Social Advertising
  • Campaign Planning and Templates

Sign up today for FREE and you'll receive the following:

  • Detailed blog posts on the weekly topic
  • Live videos on the CTS Facebook page
  • Access to the private Facebook group
  • Weekly downloads, including worksheets, templates, and checklists

Use this course to establish an online communications strategy for your church.

sign up here today

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ebook: Why God made cities by Tim Keller

In this free ebook book Tim Keller (pastor and founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church) talks about why cities, why churches, and how global cities can be renewed. 

  • God invented the cities
  • The city redeems our greatest potential
  • The city is a place of refuge
  • The city compels us to Spiritual seeking
  • God sends us into the city

Gain your free copy of Why God made cities here

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Book: Martin Luther - A wild boar in the Lord's vineyard

Martin Luther: A Wild Boar in the Lord’s Vineyard tells the story of one of the most eventful and extraordinary lives of the late medieval period.
On 31 October 1517 an obscure German monk named Martin Luther posted 95 theses protesting the selling of indulgences. This single act brought him into inevitable conflict with both pope and emperor. The dispute that followed changed not only Luther’s life, but also the religious and political face of Europe. This book offers the modern reader a concise and accessible account of Luther’s remarkable life. It explores his passionate and fiery character, introduces us to a colourful cast of friends and enemies, and explains the complex politics of church and empire. Whether you love or hate Luther, agree or disagree with him, you will be left with little doubt that his life and thought have shaped the world in which we live – and in more ways than you may have thought.

What others are saying

Available from

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Article/Essay: Preaching Matthew

Preaching Matthew by Jeffrey Gibb appears in the Fall 2016 issue of Concordia Journal. 
Rather than commenting on individual texts, it gives a longer view of preaching for the upcoming church year. 
Preaching Matthew covers:

  • Formal Considerations
  • Material Considerations
  • Matthew's Gospel language
  • Call to discipleship

Read the full article at

Small Group Study: D360 Nine conversations about whole-life discipleship

D360: Nine Conversations About Whole-life Discipleship is designed as a Bible-study resource for pastors, ministry leaders, teachers and mentors to use in helping young-adult Christians respond to Jesus' Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and develop as full-on, whole-life disciples of Jesus Christ. 
Author Greg Koenig keeps what he calls "churchy language" to a minimum and content can be read at a fairly brisk pace. Plenty of biblical citations are included for readers who enjoy stopping from time to time to study, exchange ideas, or reflect.

Each chapter of D360: Nine Conversations About Whole-life Discipleship is structured as a conversation and features a comprehension section titled Deal With It and a faith-in-action section titled Go and Do.

Although D360's design and structure are fine-tuned for use in a discipling relationship, it can also serve as a powerful tool for an individual who desires to go to the next level in his or her development as a disciple of Christ.

Conversation (i.e., chapter) titles in D360 include: 

  • In the Image; 
  • Discipleship: A Life of Response to the Work of the Holy Spirit; 
  • Christian Learning: Understanding God’s Word; 
  • Community: God, You and Others; 
  • Prayer: Your Direct Access to the God Who Listens; 
  • Worship: It Might Not Be What You Think. It’s More.; 
  • Stewardship: It’s NOT (All) About Money?; 
  • Disciple-building. And Witness. And Evangelism.; 
  • What It All Could Look Like.

For a free sample visit here

To buy D360 visit here

About the authour
Greg Koenig is a preacher’s kid, educator and writer who has dedicated a lot of his adult life to understanding and interpreting faith and the Christian experience from the perspective of someone unacquainted with churchspeak (often also called Christianese).
“The phrase image of God in this book is a good example,” says Greg. “Many of us insiders love to use the term imago Dei, which is the Latin equivalent of the Hebrew b'tzelem Elohim—image, or shadow, or likeness of God. There is an elegance and a mystique to the phrase imago Dei, but the elegance and mystique are not particularly helpful to someone
who is just learning to respond to the message ofthe Bible. That simple message from God needs to strike a chord and then resonate; the language we use must allow it to do that.”

Greg is the servant-leader of the Lutheran Campus Mission Association (, an organization dedicated to equipping leaders to reach out with the Gospel in college/university communities. He and his wife Deb live in St. Louis, Missouri; they have four children and (at last count) four grandchildren. 

RCL Lectionary Missionary Snippets June 2017

Mission Snippets are short statements for the church (ie.  all who believe in Jesus) to help us live out our calling to make disciples of all nations.   They are based on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for the week, with June 2017's being based on the Gospel Reading.  

Some thing to note in understanding the Mission Snippets, they are written from the perspective:

  • The Church is all Christians (not the building, the insitution, the legal identity, etc.)
  • That as God's Church we have received His Good News and know that our salvation is totally dependant on what God has done through Jesus Christ.
  • That having received God's Good News we are not called to keep it to ourselves, but God has called every Christian to be sharing His Good News.
  • They are what they are, snippets to encourage you to ask questions, to explore more, to discuss further....

June 4  Pentecost Sunday
John 20:19-23
Jesus brings peace even when there is fear
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”    John 20:19
What fears do you have in relation to your faith?
What fears might others have in relation to having faith in Jesus?
How does the presence of Jesus help overcome our fears?
How do we be in the presence of Jesus today?
How do we help others to be in the presence of Jesus?

Holy Spirit – the power for forgiveness
22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”   John 20:22-23
In Acts 10:44 we are told that the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message, how are you regularly hearing the Gospel and God’s Word so you are regularly receiving God's Spirit?
How are you helping and encouraging others to hear God’s Word so they can regularly receive the Holy Spirit?
What opportunities exist for you to bring God’s forgiveness, specifically, into the lives of others?
Why might you need the Holy Spirit to do this?

June 11  Trinity Sunday
Matthew 28:16-20
Being active despite doubts
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.   Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.    
Matthew 28:16-17
What doubts do you have about Jesus?
What doubts do other Christians you know have about Jesus?
What does it mean for Jesus to say to you even though you may have doubts “all authority on heaven and earth has been given to me.  Therefore go……”?
How do we assist others who have doubts to be actively involved in making disciples for Jesus?

Making disciples – baptising, teaching, and being with Jesus
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 
How is your life centred on making disciples?
How are you leading people to baptism?
What are you teaching people about Jesus?
What are the blessings as disciplemakers we receive by always being with Jesus?

June 18 Proper 6
Matthew 9:35-10:8
Jesus ministry involves teaching, proclaiming the Good News and healing.
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.   Matthew 9:35 
How are you regularly receiving teaching from Jesus?
Explain the Good News in your own words.
What does healing from Jesus look like?
Who are the people you are going to meet who you can teach, proclaiming the Good News  and brining healing from Jesus to?

Jesus’ ministry involves having compassion for the majority
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Matthew 10:36 
Who or what do the crowds look like  in your life?
What is harassing them resulting in them being helpless?
What teaching do they need from Jesus?
How might you show Jesus’ compassion to the majority?

Don’t be overwhelmed, rely on God and be part of God’s solution
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.   Matthew 9:37-10:1
What resources do you believe are needed to do God’s work in your environment?
What is God calling you to pray about and for?
How might Jesus be calling you to be part of his ministry solution?

Freely you have received freely give
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’   Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.   Matthew 10:7-8
What is it that you have received from God?
What does it mean for you to give it freely to others?
How does this affect how you give?

June 25 Proper 7
Matthew 10:24-39
Being like God
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters.  Matthew 10:24-25 
What activities and situations are helpful in shaping you to learn from God to be like God?
What does it mean for you to be like God?
How are you helping others be like God?

Fearing God who cares,  more than fearing other things, ideas and people
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.     Matthew 10:28-33
What or who are you fearful of and why?
Why is it more important to fear God than anyone or anything else?
What does it mean to practically acknowledge God before others?
How we can help people with their fears that affect their relationship with God?

Godly peace over worldly peace
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—  36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’    Matthew 10:34-36
What is the difference between Godly peace and worldly peace?
Why is it important to understand the difference between Godly peace and worldly peace?
How do we help people have Godly peace when their life is not peaceful?

Losing our lives to live
39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.   Matthew 10:39
Have you ever encountered someone who appears to live this out, what does it look like?
Why do you think Jesus wants us to lose our life, and what does this mean?
How would you explain this verse to someone exploring God, Jesus and Christianity, in the light of our salvation comes through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?

Feel free to use these snippets for ministry and mission work in your own life and congregational life.

Prepared by Pastor Richard Schwedes