Thursday, March 23, 2017

ebook: The Bible in the Life of the Lutheran Communion - a study document on Lutheran Hermeneutics

 The Bible in the Life of the Lutheran Communion. A Study Document on Lutheran Hermeneutics
The commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 provides the opportunity to highlight the special significance of the Bible for the vitality of the Church and the life of every Christian. This study document emphasizes that the heart of the Bible is its salvific message. The gospel is “the power of God for salvation” (Rom 1:16). The whole Bible is to be interpreted in light of the message that brings life.
Today, the Bible is read in hugely diverse cultural, political, economic and religious contexts. Therefore the document engages with the question how Lutheran churches in such varied contexts can reach a shared and mutual understanding regarding their reading and interpretation of biblical texts. The study text emphasizes the importance of theological education in order to prepare pastors, teachers and leaders effectively to interpret Scripture.

The Lutheran churches’ focus on the Bible and its interpretation
2. What does sola scriptura mean?
Reading the Bible in light of the Lutheran Reformation
2.1. Luther’s understanding and exegesis of the Bible
2.2 Sola scriptura and the tradition of the Church
2.3 The paradox of understanding: revelation and interpretation

3. Challenges of interpreting the Bible today 
3.1. Contextual interpretation of the Bible amidst the plurality of cultures 
3.2 Ongoing translation 
3.3. Historical-critical reading of the Word of God
3.4. The Bible as a book communicating experiences with the living God 
3.5. The Church as a “space of resonance” of the Bible 
3.6. The tension between the common and the particular 
3.7. Methodological considerations: various hermeneutical spirals

4. Opportunities for reading and understanding the Bible in the twenty-first century 
4.1. Common ground
4.2. Plurality of meaning
4.3. Global dialogues
4.4. Lutheran branding

The Bible in the life of the Lutheran Communion is available free here

Article: Martin Luther in Global Pentecostalism by Sarah Hinlicky Wilson

Global Pentecostalism encompasses three distinct waves or movements: 

  • the Classical Pentecostal denominations inspired by the Azusa Street revival in the early 20th century; 
  • the Charismatic renewal in historic mainline churches starting in the 1950s; 
  • and independent Neocharismatic congregations and networks that began to multiply dramatically starting in the 1980s. 

Early Classical Pentecostals tended to have a positive attitude toward Luther as the beginning of the “restoration” of the lost doctrine and practice of the apostolic church, but only Jonathan Paul and his Mühlheimer Verband in Germany engaged in any meaningful way with Lutheran theology.   Faced with fierce opposition within their denominations, Lutheran Charismatics such as Theodore R. Jungkuntz saw a need to correlate their spiritual distinctives with the Lutheran Confessions, which reached its most detailed expression in Welcome, Holy Spirit, edited by Larry Christenson.   The Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus in Ethiopia responded most positively to Charismatic renewal of all Lutheran churches in the world with its 1976 statement, “The Work of the Holy Spirit.”   While contemporary Classical Pentecostal theologians have only begun to engage with Luther, notable examples include Frank D. Macchia, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, and David J. Courey, who deal primarily with the doctrine of justification and the theology of the cross. The encounter of Lutheran theology with Pentecostalism suggests that both sides need to develop more comprehensive accounts of Christian experience and its role in doctrine, piety, and church life.

read the article here

EBook: Pauline Hermeneutics, exploring the power of the Gospel

Paul’s letters are of crucial importance for Christian theology and church life. The way in which the apostle Paul critically reflected on the meaning of the gospel message in light of Scripture, the traditions, ethics and Christian faith and hope, has had a significant and lasting impact on the Lutheran tradition.

In this publication, the fourth and final in a series of LWF publications on biblical hermeneutics, renowned international scholars from the fields of biblical studies and systematic theology reevaluate to what extent twenty-first-century Lutherans can rediscover the Pauline paradigm of the “power of the Gospel” and hereby overcome ambiguous perceptions of the so-called “Lutheran reading(s)” of Paul.

The “Gospel” as the Hermeneutic of Emancipation in Paul’s Letters: Contemporary Implications 
Exploring Paul and Pauline Hermeneutics How and Why Paul Deals with Traditions 
Principles of Paul’s Hermeneutics
Slave and Free: Hermeneutical Reflections on Paul’s Use of the Slave–Master Metaphor

Reading Pauline Texts and Contexts
Paul on Charismata (1 Corinthians 12–14): The Principles of Diversity and Community Edification
Rospita Deliana Siahaan
Creation and Reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5: Impulses from Paul and Luther 
Towards an Intersectional Hermeneutics: Constructing Meaning with and not of Galatians 3–4

Pauline Hermeneutics: Exploring the “Power of the Gospel”
Paul on Citizenship: Pauline hermeneutics in Philippians 1:27 and 3:20 

Applying Paul’s Theology and Hermeneutics to Church and Society
The Paradox of Reading Paul in the Context of the Lutheran Churches in Africa
The Pauline Letters and (Homo)Sexuality: Examining Hermeneutical Arguments Used in the Estonian Discussion 
Called and Cold Saints: Some Thoughts on Holiness in the Hebrew Bible and in Paul
A New Life in Christ: Pauline Ethics and its Lutheran Reception 
Christians Engaging in Culture and Society and Hoping for the World to Come 

Obtain your free copy by visiting

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Book: A guide to Pentecostal movements for Lutherans

In just over a century, Pentecostalism has rocketed from its humble beginnings in an interracial congregation on Azusa Street in Los Angeles to a global movement counting more than six hundred million members. Confronted with the bewildering array of Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Neocharismatic beliefs and practices, Lutherans are often at a loss as to how to think about Pentecostals, much less how to engage them in positive ways that build up the whole body of Christ. In this guide, Lutherans will find tools for just such an engagement. Building on a foundation of Pentecostalism's history and varieties, Wilson undertakes an in-depth survey of biblical teaching on baptism, the Holy Spirit, and spiritual gifts. 
The guide then brings innovative new lenses to bear on the questions at stake: 

  • the use of church history in defending denominational borders, 
  • right and wrong approaches to prosperity, 
  • the power of the Spirit 
  • and corruptions of power, and the role of experience in theological discernment. 
Written in a style accessible to laity and clergy alike, this guide will strengthen Lutherans' appreciation of their own tradition while enabling them to encounter Pentecostals as fellow believers in the salvation given by the triune God.

What others are saying about the book
"Sarah Hinlicky Wilson guides her reader to understand the Pentecostal movement particularly in relation to the Lutheran tradition. This she does with the special care of a trained Lutheran theologian, and with the warm understanding of someone who has learned to appreciate the Pentecostal tradition through various ecumenical encounters and discussions. The result is a guide not only to the two Christian traditions, but a call to a journey for deeper understanding of the other."
Kaisamari Hintikka, Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations and Director for the Department for Theology and Public Witness, Lutheran World Federation

"Sarah Hinlicky Wilson has written a very welcome addition to the growing body of ecumenical literature concerning Pentecostals. A Guide to Pentecostal Movements for Lutherans is highly readable, sympathetic, and honest. Wilson has engaged in theological dialogue with Classical Pentecostals, done her homework in the relevant Biblical, theological, and historical fields, and delivered an honest and compelling volume that provides answers to serious questions and stereotypes that have often kept Pentecostals and Lutherans from taking one another seriously."

Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., Professor of Church History and Ecumenics, Director of the David du Plessis Center for Christian Spirituality, Fuller Theological Seminary

About the author
The author Sarah Hinlicky Wilson is an ordained Lutheran pastor, an Adjunct Professor of the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France, and the editor of Lutheran Forum. She is the author of Woman, Women, and the Priesthood in the Trinitarian Theology of Elisabeth Behr-Sigel (2013) and of more than one hundred articles on theology in both popular and scholarly venues.

You can buy A guide to Pentecostal movements for Lutherans here

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book: Lady Like - Living Biblically

In a society where conversations about gender have too often become stale and predictable, LadyLike: Living Biblically reimagines what it means to be a Christian woman in our feminized secular society.
Radically retro, freshly old-fashioned, and powerfully submissive, Rosie Adle and Rebekah Curtis, two playful and mischievous sisters, challenge us to rethink everything we thought we knew about men and women. Like a jolt of espresso, or a polar bear plunge, their writing enlivens the senses, helping us to see the world, as it were, for the first time.

You can buy the book here

  • Out of Order
  • The Pie-Eating Contest 
  • Products of Our Time
  • Brains for Women! 
  • Bridezilla of Christ 
  • Not Fair
  • The Real Winners of the Sexual Revolution 
  • Submission: Impossible?
  • The More, the Merrier? 
  • Deborah vs. She-Ra: Exception vs. Rule
  • Who Washes the Dishes After Feminism? 
  • Peace and/or Quiet
  • Put Your Name on It 

  • The Family of God
  • To the Virgins, to Make Much of What They Are 
  • Here Comes the Bride
  • Marriage: Not Actually the Most Christianest Thing Ever 
  • Earthen Vessels 
  • To My Friend Who Has No Babies Today
  • She Respects Her Husband 
  • The Fallen Ones
  • Widows and the Redemption
  • A Righteous Life 
  • Calling 

  • Is the Old Testament Misogynist?
  • What Would Lydia Do? 
  • Jesus the Feminist?
  • Fiat Mihi, Fiat Lux 
  • Sins of the Fathers 
  • Hey Mister Pastor Man 

  • What Is God Trying to Tell You?
  • Marthas, Marthas
  • If We Confess Our Sins 
  • The Sixth Commandment: Not Just for Men!
  • Eight, Nine, Ten—Last, but Not Least
  • Actually, God Might Give You More Than You Can Handle 
  • Sophia, Sophronia, and Babylon
  • Being Special Is Special! 
  • On a Search for Self 
  • Romans 12:15—Vicarious Rejoicing with a Whole Heart
  • Mirror, Mirror 
  • Dear Sisters
  • Selfies—Oh, Snap! .
  • Whac-a-Mole
  • When Life Gives You Lemonade 
  • The Belle Choir: A Parochial Fantasy 

What others are saying
"In this well-written book, Rose and Rebekah challenge women with clever, yet honest truths served up with a 'delicious gulp of Gospel.' Their striking insights and crisp language encourage us to see our lives in new ways. You will be blessed!"  
—Renee Gibbs, Women’s Retreat and Bible Study Leader, Concordia Seminary

“I guarantee you will not be able to put this book down. Sisters Rosie and Rebekah write in a style crystal clear and magically engaging, all the while gleefully butchering sacred cultural cows, and serving up a feast of rich meaty delights for anyone, especially any Christian woman, who has found herself wresting with what it means to be a child of God in today’s world. You’re gonna loves this book, even as its wit and brainy argumentation stretch you to new limits of genuine Christian faith, love and piety.”
—Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

“Adle and Curtis don't pull any punches in their dash to ride the counter cultural wave of Biblical Truth about womanhood as Christ designed and redeemed her. With a healthy dose of sardonic wit, spiced with the right dash of caregiving reserve, their work is a breath of fresh air in a world of women caught up in the maelstrom of not being "good enough" unless they try to be men.”
—Rev. Jonathan Fisk, Pastor, Host of Worldview Everlasting, and Author of Broken: 7 "Christian" Rules That Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible

“LadyLike strips away all flowery cross-stitch stereotypes while  exposing the burlap of what it means to be a Christian woman in 21st century society. Adle and Curtis hold nothing back as they take an uppercut at the lies of our modern era, simultaneously weaving in the delicate ribbons of mercy found in Christ's timeless Truth. These essays are at once strong and sassy, while maintaining the graceful art of what it means to be a woman in Christ. They contain the healing balm of Christ and Him crucified that is vital for staying the course on the lonely road of being a Christian woman, Christian mother, and Christian wife in today's world; a balm so soothing that the reader is left wanting more.”
—Meridith Fisk, Wife, Mother, and Homemaker

“One of the best 'hear and do' pieces I’ve read, out of hundreds. Rosie and Becky are freedom fighters and, in the sacred sense, burden bearers of women’s issues!  Lost your voice amidst the chaos of twenty-first century womanhood?  Find it here. Not to scream or demand, but to follow Christ into contentment, fulfillment, and with gusto resist the pull of lesser gods. This book is impossible to put it down!”
—Phyllis Wallace, Author, Speaker, Broadcaster

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Book: The unholy Trinity

About the Unholy Trinity by  Michael A. Lockwood
We are all too familiar with the same old human pitfall: we rush after the desires of our hearts and worship ourselves instead of Jesus Christ. And yet, the dangers of inward idolatry are a neglected topic in Western theology. 
Without God’s First-Commandment-focused Law, we would never truly know the depth of our spiritual disease. Anything we fear, love, or trust more than the true God is, plain and simple, our god. 
Drawing upon Martin Luther’s key insights on the theology of idolatry, The Unholy Trinity unmasks contemporary idol worship and its futility. Luther’s unparalleled ability to get to the heart of human sin helps us see through the lie of self-sufficiency. Only when walls of man-made security are broken down can we hear the Gospel as good news—by grace, God gives us every good thing we vainly try to provide for ourselves.

“Michael Lockwood shows that God’s use of the Law—for Christians as well as for non-Christians—includes the sufferings of life that destroy our self-sufficiency, which is the root of all idolatry. His book is full of practical suggestions for pastoral care and evangelistic outreach and will be an enormously helpful resource for pastors.”
-Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Emeritus Professor of Literature, Patrick Henry College

“How does a preacher best commend the Christian faith to people who have no need for the Gospel, let alone any desire to participate in the Divine Service? Dr. Lockwood provides us with a diagnostic tool for effective proclamation by his excellent analysis of Luther’s teaching on human idolatry and the impact of its delusive claims. . . . This thoroughly biblical, culturally relevant study is a joy to read.”
—Rev. Dr. John W. Kleinig, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology, Australian Lutheran College

“Saint Augustine spoke of idolatry as worshiping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that is meant to be worshiped. John Calvin spoke of the human mind as a perpetual forge of idols, daring to imagine a god suited to its own capacity. And now we have mighty Luther, who shares the stance of Augustine and Calvin, but whose many statements on idolatry have never before been gathered together or considered in such a substantial, accessible, and pastorally fruitful manner.”
—Mark P. Ryan, Adjunct Professor of Religion and Culture, Covenant Theological Seminary; Director, Francis A. Schaeffer Institute

“In two ways, Michael Lockwood has done us all a great service: he has rendered a fundamentally important theme in Luther’s theology accessible, and he’s shown us why it matters. In nine, deeply researched and highly readable chapters, Dr. Lockwood not only describes Luther’s analysis of idolatry, but he also explains how idolatry functions. For Luther, idolatry is false faith. It’s a lethal trust in the wrong thing in the wrong way. Luther didn’t regard idolatry as misplaced philosophy, with merely academic consequences, but as a deadly peril because of what it actually does. . . . Michael Lockwood’s writing is saturated with Luther in the best possible way. He shows not only what Luther said in the past, but why it’s important to keep hearing it in the present. This volume is not just an important contribution to Luther studies, it’s a seminal book for understanding the distinctive work of Christian ministry and the uniqueness of the Christian Gospel.”
—Rev. Dr. Noel Due, Ministry and Mission Support Pastor, Lutheran Church of Australia, SA/NT District

“Today, secularism is seen as social policy, agnosticism and atheism appear to be respectable, and the ranks of the 'nones' are swelling, while indifference to religious views and affiliations grows. So at first glance, idolatry is an unpromising topic for the church’s life and witness. But, as Michael Lockwood shows, a deeper look at idolatry, especially through the eyes of Martin Luther, is revealing and compelling. Tying together many strands and uncovering varied connections in Luther’s thought on false gods, Lockwood presents a rich trinitarian account of idolatry and uses it to uncover and overcome the idols hiding in plain sight today.”
—Dr. Joel P. Okamoto, Waldemar and Mary Griesbach Professor of Systematic Theology Chairman, Department of Systematic Theology, Concordia Seminary

Obtain your copy of The Unholy Trinity by visiting here

Small Group Study: Ideas that changed the World

Around 500 years ago a momentous change was spreading across Europe—a change that has become known as the Reformation.

At the heart of the Reformation were four ideas and four leaders. 
The ideas: faith alone, grace alone, Bible alone and Christ alone. 
The leaders: Luther, Calvin, Tyndale and Cranmer.

In the four sessions of this course, join Dominic Steele as he explores these four simple yet profoundly important ideas, the key role these four men played in rediscovering and spreading them, and the stunning European locations where these historic events took place.

But it's not just a course to watch. You'll also open up your Bibles and do some exploring of your own, reading the same parts of Scripture that Luther, Calvin, Tyndale and Cranmer read that radically changed their world.

To run Ideas That Changed the World you will need:
• a workbook for each person
• access to the video segments in the course

For more information on buying the small group dvd/video and workbook visit Matthias Media

Ideas that Changed the World from on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Reversing the trend in LCMS membership

Recently there have been a number of articles attempting to attend to the declining membership in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.   

Journal of Lutheran Mission
A District-Level Examination of Demographic Trends and Membership Trends within LCMS Districts — by George Hawley
The LCMS in the Face of Demographic and Social Change: A Social Science Perspective — by George Hawley
Generational Generosity: Handing Down Our Faith to Our Children and Our Children’s Children — by Ryan C. McPherson

The Lutheran Reporter
Reversing the LCMS membership decline: not just by having more children
which highlights the important steps to be:

  • Evangelism and outreach. 
  • Re-invigorating congregations. 
  • Healthy workers. 
  • Church planting. 
  • Resolution of internal issues that cause conflict. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Movie: Luther - the life and legacy of the German Reformer

LUTHER is a 91-minute documentary directed by Canadian filmmaker Stephen McCaskell. It depicts the story behind the man who sparked the Protestant Reformation five hundred years ago this October.
Martin Luther’s daring life is presented in extensive detail while still making the film relevant, provocative, and accessible. His remarkable and world-changing story is told through a seamless combination of live-action storytelling and striking animation.
For this documentary a number of scholars came together to give us a deeper understanding of the life of Martin Luther including Dr. R.C. Sproul, Stephen Nichols, Robert Kolb, Carl Trueman, W. Robert Godfrey, and Steven Lawson.

To obtain your copy visit

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Book: 2000 demons no match for our savior

Step into a world where deadly demons and evil spirits roamed the land. No, this account was not in some fantastical science fictional realm but on our very own planet thousands of years ago. In 2000 Demons, you’ll examine the biblical account of Jesus driving out demons from a person possessed and suffering. 2000 Demons will show you the very real danger of evil spirits, both then and today, but also the power your Savior wields over darkness. Most important, this book will reassure you of the ultimate protection Jesus won for all who believe, thanks to his death and resurrection. Study questions are included at the end of every chapter to help you pause and reflect.

To buy 2000 demons visit here

Recent releases from Augsburg Fortress

Some recent releases from Augsburg Fortress Publishing include:

Limping but blessed by Jason Jones
After the unexpected, accidental death of his three-year-old son, Jason Jones went on a long, painful journey to make sense of how God could have let this happen to his son and best friend, Jacob, and to their family. And he struggled intensely with his faith after everything he thought about God disintegrated on June 12, 2011.
In Limping But Blessed, Jones explores struggling with faith and belief, dealing with his depression and grief, and searching for hope in a hopeless situation. The book includes tales of his darkest days, correspondence he had with Christian theologians, and what he's done to preserve his son's legacy.
At some point in each of our lives, something goes terribly wrong, and our faith is shaken to the core. This book is the story of one man's journey through the darkest time of life searching for answers and a grueling attempt to find a sliver of hope to keep holding on.

FIERCE:  Women of the Bible by Alice Connor
Women in the Bible aren't shy or retiring; they're fierce and funny and demanding and relevant to 21st-century people.
Women in the Bible—some of their names we know, others we've only heard, and others are tragically unnamed.
Pastor and provocateur Alice Connor introduces these women and invites us to see them not as players in a man's story—as victims or tempters—nor as morality archetypes, teaching us to be better wives and mothers, but as fierce foremothers of the faith.
These women's stories are messy, challenging, and beautiful. When we read their stories, we can see not only their particular, fearsome lives but also our own.

Homebrewed Christianity:  Everything you need to know about God the Almighty by Eric Hall
Is God the First Cause? The Unmoved Mover? Mr. Miyagi? In this latest installment of the Homebrewed Christianity series, edited by Tripp Fuller, Eric E. Hall approaches the question of God from various perspectives, including philosophy, personal revelation, Christian tradition, and other religions.
The classical conception of God is like the famously stoic-yet-lethal character in the Karate Kid. Competing versions of God include Your Hippie Aunt, St. Joan of Arc, and even the muscle-headed goons from Jersey Shore. Hall uses each of these analogies to elucidate a version of God that has held sway at one point or another. For each, he shows strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons.
After proposing this nouveau"pantheon, Hall takes on atheism, religion versus science, and popular images of Jesus. At the end of this romp through history and pop culture, Hall argues that the God you need may be the very God you rejected years ago.

Preaching from Home: The Stories of Seven Lutheran Women Hymn Writers by Gracia Grindal
This volume by Gracia Grindal introduces English-speaking readers to several significant yet unsung Lutheran women hymn writers from the sixteenth century to the present. After a brief introductory discussion of Elisabeth Cruciger, the first woman hymn writer of the Reformation, Grindal provides fascinating profiles of these talented Scandinavian women who "preached from home": Dorothe Engelbretsdatter, Birgitte Hertz Boye, Berthe Canutte Aarflot, Lina Sandell, Britt G. Hallqvist, and Lisbeth Smedegaard Andersen.
Grindal not only gives a biographical account of each woman — her life, her piety, her times — but also offers sparkling new English translations of each writer's key hymns. In the last chapter Grindal recounts her own inspiring journey as a Lutheran woman hymn writer. Her Preaching from Home will open the door to a world previously unknown to most North Americans.

A Formula for Parish Practice: Using the Formula of Concord in Congregations by Timothy J. Wengert
This book combines a rich description of the (Lutheran) Formula of Concord (1577) with experiences in today's Lutheran parishes to demonstrate how confessional texts may still come to life in modern Christian congregations. Timothy Wengert takes the Formula of Concord, traditionally used as ammunition in doctrinal disagreements, back to its historical home, the local congregation, giving pastors, students, and theologians a glimpse into the original debates over each article.
The most up-to-date English commentary on the Formula of Concord, A Formula for Parish Practiceprovides helpful, concise descriptions of key theological debates and a unique weaving of historical and textual commentary with modern Lutheran experience. Covering the entire Formula of Concord the book includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter.

Augsburg Adult Bible Study Series
Augsburg Adult Bible Study is a year-round Bible study that is released quarterly and is based on a six-year cycle as found in the International Uniform Lesson Series (National Council of Churches). Written by an array of accomplished theologians, this series provides terrific insights into scripture through questions, prayer, suggested memorization, and daily readings.
Each session:

  • Explores the meaning of the text for the original writer and audience, and for today
  • Includes a list of related texts for daily Bible reading
  • Provides extensive background on each text and recommendations for leading the sessions

Recent releases from Concordia Publishing House

Concordia Publishing House has recently released the following books:

Our Way Home: A Journey Through the Lord's Prayer  by Daniel Paavola
When we pray, we’re often hesitant. Hesitant to believe that our small voices will be heard by the sovereign God reigning in heaven. Hesitant to think we even have the right words to say. But Jesus gave His disciples—and us—the Lord’s Prayer as a guide in our prayer life. This prayer contains words of confession, thanks, recognition, need, and praise; it’s the perfect prayer model from our perfect role model.
Our Way Home invites you on an incredibly vivid journey through the Lord’s Prayer to dispel your hesitancy and to discover the power, the beauty, and the depth of the world’s most famous prayer. Paavola surrounds each petition of the Lord’s Prayer with captivating imagery and storytelling that will animate your praying, making it a prayer you not only say with confidence but live out every day—in any situation and in every circumstance.
So whether you’ve prayed the Lord’s Prayer a thousand times or you’re not quite familiar with every word, you will be encouraged to pray the words Jesus has given you with renewed boldness. You will come to the door of your Father’s house and knock with confidence because you have the words to say. All you have to do is pray “Our Father. . .”

Hallmarks of Lutheran Identity by Alvin Schmidt
Lutheran theology survived the last five hundred years. But will it survive the next?
Since the time Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Lutheran theology has survived centuries of political, religious, and societal pressures that challenged its foundational teachings.
But the question remains: Do Lutherans today understand their theological heritage well enough to maintain and defend their unique beliefs when outside pressures dismiss them as irrelevant to modern-day Christianity?
Hallmarks of Lutheran Identity sets forth more than twenty important practices, doctrines, and beliefs that distinguish Lutheranism from all other denominations. Topics include:

  • Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, and Solus Christus
  • The Dichotomy of Law and Gospel
  • Christ’s Presence in the Lord’s Supper
  • Luther’s Unique Insight on the Theology of the Cross

Engaging and insightful for both layperson and pastor, Hallmarks of Lutheran Identity will deepen your understanding of Lutheran theology and its rich historical traditions so you can confidently answer the question, “What do Lutherans believe?”

Grace Alone  by Ruth Meyer
Grace Williams isn’t looking for complications because, really, isn’t life complicated enough? She’s a single mom with four children. She has unresolved issues with her ex-husband. Her sister nags at her about going to church. Her kids are not perfect. And neither is Grace—she has hang-ups about organized religion, she is overwhelmed by suppressed guilt and grief, she is judgmental, and she can’t control her hair.
When a man shows up on her doorstep, Grace’s life is turned upside down. David is terrific with her kids, she loves his family, and her sister thinks he’s perfect. But he’s a little too pushy. And he wants her to change.
For anyone who’s ever made a mistake, Grace Alone is a story about forgiveness, hope, and grace in the midst of a messy life. Because God specializes in new beginnings.

From Atheism to Christianity: The Story of C. S. Lewis by Joel Heck
This is the story of how one of the world’s most famous atheists became one of its most famous Christians.

From Atheism to Christianity: The Story of C. S. Lewis 
is the spiritual homecoming story of Clive Staples Lewis, a careful and thoughtful scholar who spent fifteen years journeying the long road from atheism to theism and, eventually, to Christianity. Drawing from Lewis’s own writings, as well as those he sought out during his quest for spiritual understanding, From Atheism to Christianity highlights the longing, reluctance, searching, and surrender that defined these years of Lewis’s life and provides answers to the questions that surround this profound character:

  • What attracted Lewis to atheism and eventually Christianity? 
  • How did he leave atheism behind?
  • Why did his journey take fifteen years? 
  • Who influenced his thought during those years? 
  • What authors did he read, and whom did he interact with and confide in?

Explore the most tumultuous and defining years of C. S. Lewis’s life, gathering clues that reveal the meaning of life for contemporary atheists and theists—all from the perspective of one who knew both atheism and Christianity from the inside.
“Remember, I had always wanted, above all things, not to be ‘interfered with.’ I had wanted (mad wish) ‘to call my soul my own.’” —C. S. Lewis

My Little Blessings & Prayers Collection by Sally Ann Wright
Here is a thoughtful way to welcome babies and toddlers into the family of God. This special three-book set introduces young children to God’s Word, the concept of regular prayer, and the gifts of Baptism, and it equips parents to teach the faith at home. The special slip case and charming illustrations make this a sweet gift for any newborn.

  • Memory book
  • Prayer book
  • Bible story book

Help students keep homework assignments, memory work, spelling words, and parent/teacher notes organized with this colorful, 128-page student planner. 

Planner features include:
  • A Word of the week with an "In My Life" Christian life-application
  • Bible bits with fun facts or questions each week
  • Inspirational weekly scripture verses (English Standard Version)
  • School year calendar grids to note holidays, long term assignments and goals
  • Weekly planning spreads with large areas to write assignments, spelling words, and notes
  • Over 15 reference pages that contain prayers, books of the Bible, a Bible timelines, the miracles of Jesus, grammar tips, math tips, a listing of U.S. presidents, maps and more
This durable planner has a sturdy but flexible plastic spiral binding, measures 8.5" x 11" and has a heavy duty laminate cover. Planner is three-hole punched for easy inclusion in binders.

Welcoming Easter Kit - CPH

Concordia Publishing House is offering a free kit to welcome Easter Visitors

The purpose of the kit is to help you help every visitor feel welcome at your church on Easter! This kit helps pastors and other church workers reach out to every visitor to help them feel valued. Each item in the kit comes with a sample and an editable template for your church to customize.

The kit contains the following items:

  • A welcome card for introducing visitors to your church
  • A worship-folder blurb and a statement for the pastor to read about filling out a visitor card
  • A follow-up email and letter for Easter visitors
  • A note to attach to a small gift

Resource: Reel Dialogue

Reel Dialogue - engaging with films without disengaging with faith is web site that provides a creative dialogue between the church and entertainment culture (film and TV), with Christians discovering how common theological ground can be forged with story tellers, image shapers, and culture makers.
In essence, Reel Dialogue facilitates engagement with films without disengaging your faith — discussion, engagement and interaction with one another help to bridge the gap between faith and culture.
TV and films are very powerful ways to tell a story and reflect cultural values, ethics and morals.
Reel Dialogue facilitates engagement with films without disengaging your faith…
As Christians, we are a part of the broad cultural phenomenon known as “pop culture”, engagement with which is more important than ever. But how do we take our Christian worldview to the movies with us, to help us critically engage and negotiate popular culture’s messages and themes?
Aside from the simple pleasure of spending time together and discussing films, there are teachable moments in Hollywood’s modern parables and character studies. Crafted properly, movies can lift the spirit, tap into eternal truth and convey moral messages that challenge us to live out what we’ve experienced. And some that don’t do all of those things can still be effectively used to reinforce and confirm why we don’t believe things should be a certain way. Conversation is the key to broadening our Christian worldview and understanding culture. Plus it’s just fun to discuss a film after viewing it, particularly if it’s a great film!
Reel Dialogue can help groups understand, discern and decode films in a faith-based context. Reel Dialogue group resources have been sourced or written to help people approach film through the filter of the gospel, to build groups that can engage with entertainment in a way that will invigorate their faith and witness.
We are saturated with visual images and messages and it is really important to have the tools to talk about these messages as they relate to us as Christians, rather than passively consume other people’s worldviews.
On their site there are downloadable discussion guides and links that have all the tools groups need to reflect on, discuss and discover what spiritual truth often resides in popular films.
There are also many other resources and links to sites that will help churches with the legalities of using clips in worship services, mounting a local church film festival or starting your own film-based small group at your church as a way of reaching into your community.
This website aims to equip ministry agents and inspire creative dialogue between church and culture.
The hope is you’ll enter the cinema with a newly-developed filter to approach the world of entertainment.

Aside from the studies and guides for discussion, what sorts of questions should we be asking about all movies?
• What would you say is the main point of this movie? Do you agree or disagree with it?
• Which character did you admire most? Why?
• Do the themes in this movie reflect reality? Do they reflect truth?
• How do the morals onscreen compare with the values you’ve been taught at home, in school or in church?
• Do you think movies like this have any effect on how close you feel to your family, friends or God? Explain.
• How might you imagine God reacting to this movie? Why? Would you feel comfortable if Jesus sat watching it with you? (See Matthew 28:20)
• Does the movie have an opinion of God or even a Christian worldview? What is it?
• What would happen if you imitated the lifestyles or choices of the characters?

Discover more at

Book: Martin Luther in His own words

Though most of the Protestant world can trace its roots back to the Reformation, many people today have only a vague knowledge of Martin Luther's writings. "Didn't he write the Ninety-Five Theses?" Jack Kilcrease and Erwin Lutzer step into this vacuum with a carefully selected collection of Luther's works.
Centered around the five solas of the Reformation (sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, sola Christus, soli Deo gloria), the selections offer readers an accessible primer on works that are foundational to the theology of Protestantism in all its forms. Introductions to each writing include an explanation of the historical context and the theological significance of the piece. Students of the Bible, pastors, teachers, and seminary students will find this collection an enlightening introduction to Luther in his own words and a useful addition to their libraries.

Visit here to obtain a copy of Martin Luther in His own words

Friday, March 10, 2017

Growing Young

Churches are both shrinking and aging as more young people disengage. 
Based on groundbreaking research with over 250 of the USA's leading congregations, Growing Young provides a strategy any church can use to involve and retain young people. It profiles innovative churches engaging 15- to 29-year-olds that are growing–spiritually, emotionally, missionally, and numerically. 
Packed with ideas, Growing Young shows ministry leaders how to position their churches to reach younger generations in a way that breathes life into the whole church.

About the research
The Churches Engaging Young People (CEYP) project is one of the most comprehensive and collaborative studies ever done on this topic and it is changing church culture.
10,000 hours.
1300 individual interviews.
40 states.
80,000 miles traveled.

All churches grow old, but strategic churches are growing young. Churches are both shrinking and aging as more young people disengage. Based on groundbreaking research with over 250 of the nation’s leading congregations, Growing Young provides a strategy any church can use to involve and retain young people. It profiles innovative churches engaging 15­ to 29-year-­olds that are growing–spiritually, emotionally, missionally, and numerically.  Packed with ideas, Growing Young shows ministry leaders how to position their churches to reach younger generations in a way that breathes life into the whole church.

Here’s a snapshot of how the 259 churches that chose to participate in the research describe themselves.
The study included newer church plants that were less than five years old as well as historic congregations with over 140 years of history.
21 major church traditions were represented, including: Anglican, Assemblies of God or Pentecostal, Baptist, Christian & Missionary Alliance, Church of Christ, Church of God in Christ, Disciples of Christ, Episcopal, Evangelical Covenant, Evangelical Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran Church­Missouri Synod, Nazarene, Presbyterian, Reformed or Christian Reformed, Roman Catholic, United Methodist, and those claiming no denominational affiliation.
Churches ranged in size from under 100 participants to over 10,000 participants. The largest three categories were 1,001-­3,000 (28 percent), 501-1,000 (24 percent), and 251-­500 (15 percent).
Just over half of the congregations were predominantly white, one­-third were multiracial, and the others were predominantly African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Asian.
Geographic location included all census regions of the country, with representations from the Midwest (33 percent), West (31 percent), South (25 percent), and Northeast (11 percent).
In terms of where the congregation was located, 56 percent reported being suburban, 33 percent urban, 3 percent rural, and 8 percent a mix of urban, suburban, and rural that was difficult to distinguish.

Article:  Meet the churches young people are loving

The Book:  Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church

Visit the web page:  Growing Young for a free assessment, research and resources.

Book: The Great Bible Swindle

This introductory book is written especially for those who feel that they should know something about the world's most influential text, but may have been afraid to ask, put off by the Church, found the black leather cover and cigarette paper pages ominous, or just never got around to it. 
In the first half of the book, Clarke explores the question: "Why would I bother with the Bible?" 
He then tackles questions like "What is the Bible, and what do I do with it?" "What I want to do in this book is explain how and to what extent the Bible is behind so much of Western life. I want to look at where the Bible has influenced different aspects of life, in order to give you some sense of just what a scandal it is that many people have had this knowledge concealed from them. 

The Great Bible Swindle is available from AmazonKoorong , Bible Society, Word

The Shack (book and movie) resources

The Shack is a best selling fictional book, which has been released as a  movie.  Originally written by William Paul Young as a story to help his family gain a picture of God.

The book has created controversy as it steps outside the traditional images of God and within the book makes some statements that are perceived to be contray to what the bible says about God.  As a result some Christians believe it is best to steer well clear of the book, whilst others are engaging with the book thanking God for the creativity of the book that they believe helps them in their relationship with God.

The following resources have been sourced and compiled to help anyone wishing to research and undertake further reflection and study relating to the Shack.

The story behind the Shack - interview with William Paul Young
Stuart Hazeldine - Movie Review
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry - review
Theology Network - review
Christianity Today Pastors - review
Exploring the Shack - Paul Coulter
The Good, the Bad and the Controversial 
How the Shack distorts our view of God
More to the Shack than Shaky theology
Higher things review
A response to Christians boycotting the Shack

The offical DVD bible study

Holy Cross Lutheran Church Kansas Book Study
13 heresies in the shack 

The Shack book

The offical Shack study guide - Healing for Your Journey Through Loss, Trauma, and Pain

The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream 
Millions have found their spiritual hunger satisfied by William P. Young's #1 New York Times bestseller, The Shack--the story of a man lifted from the depths of despair through his life-altering encounter with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Now C. Baxter Kruger's THE SHACK REVISITED guides readers into a deeper understanding of these three persons to help readers have a more profound connection with the core message of The Shack--that God is love.
An early fan of The Shack and a close friend to its author, Kruger shows why the novel has been enthusiastically embraced by so many Christians worldwide. In the words of William P. Young from the foreword to THE SHACK REVISITED, "Baxter Kruger will stun readers with his unique cross of intellectual brilliance and creative genius as he takes them deeper into the wonder, worship, and possibility that is the world of The Shack."

Finding God in the Shack
What would it be like to lose your youngest child to a serial killer? And then to have God invite you out for a conversation at the very shack where the terrible deed took place? And then imagine that the door to that shack of horrors opened . . . and before you knew it you had been swept up in the motherly embrace of a large African American woman? This most unlikely of stories, as told in William Young's The Shack, has become a runaway bestseller, and now a major motion picture, and it is easy to see why. But even as lives have been transformed through this book, other readers have sternly denounced it as a hodgepodge of serious theological error, even heresy. With one pastor urging his congregation to read it and another forbidding his congregation to, many Christians have simply been left confused. Aware both of the excitement and uncertainty generated by The Shack, theologian Randal Rauser takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the pages of the story. In successive chapters he explores many of the book's complex and controversial issues. Thus he explains why God the Father is revealed as an African American woman, he defends the book's theology of the Trinity against charges of heresy and he considers its provocative denial of a Trinitarian hierarchy. But at its heart The Shack is a response to evil and so Rauser spends the final three chapters considering the book's explanation for why God allows evil, how the atoning work of Christ offers new hope for a suffering world and ultimately how this hope extends to all of creation. Through these chapters Rauser offers an honest and illuminating discussion which opens up a new depth to the conversation while providing the reader with new opportunities for Finding God in The Shack.

God, the Bible and the Shack
Millions of readers of William Paul Young's The Shack want to know, Is God really that good? Is this the same God we find in the Bible or not? Is the Trinity really like what we find in the novel? And what about evil in the world? How much does The Shack help us understand why it exists and how God deals with it? Here are clear, insightful responses to the questions so many people want answers to.

The Shack - a journey from pain to truth to error
This book offers a new kind of critique of The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity. It views The Shack from a confessional Lutheran perspective. Its primary concern is the chief article upon which the church stands or falls, namely, justification and the redemption we have in Jesus.
Looking for healing for his Great Sadness, the author of The Shack hit upon a particular strain of thought from the renaissance of Trinitarian theology that happened worldwide in the 1980s and 1990s. This theology has much to be commended. Tragically, however, it departs from the teaching of Scripture about the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for us on the cross. It denies the wrath of God on sin, and denies that Jesus bore that wrath for us. The Shack teaches a different theory of the cross that springs from perichoretic speculations about the Trinity.

Studying the Shack - reading group guide
If you enjoyed reading The Shack, by Wm Paul Young, you will enjoy this study guide to delve deeper into the themes throughout the story of Mack his Great Sadness and the relationships with God, Jesus and Sarayu . The questions within this guide will lead to high levels of introspection and make for great discussions for reading groups of any kind.

Burning down the Shack - How the 'Christian' best seller is deceiving millions
Millions have bought into the theology of Paul Young, whose book The Shack portrays God as a loving, black woman. Similar changes in appearance were given to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The story of pain and redemption then resonated with the public. But is Young's worldview important? Is his theology that big a deal? James De Young thinks so. In fact, it's so important that he's written a compelling challenge to The Shack. In Burning Down the Shack, De Young manages to shed important light on the implications of Young's pluralistic faith, and provides readers with a gripping counter-balance to the popular little volume that's spent many weeks on the best-seller lists. Exploring the nature and character of God, from Scripture, De Young concludes that it is necessary to proceed carefully with The Shack, lest important truths be skewed and even jettisoned. Without being confrontational, De Young makes the case that dangers can lurk under the foundation.

Book: Our mob God's story

Our Mob, God’s Story invites you to re-discover God’s Story through the personal faith stories and artworks of Australia’s First Nations peoples. The vibrant artworks are visually captivating and spiritually moving, depicting some of the most loved stories from the Old and New Testament Bible – from creation to crucifixion.

The glossy, hardcover art book is a wonderful keep-sake and reminder of Bible Society’s bicentenary and how the life changing message of Jesus Christ continues to ignite hearts across our nation.

Bible Society hopes the art book will bring new understanding and respect for our Aboriginal sisters and brothers as we celebrate our diversity and common faith.

All artists have donated the use of their paintings so when you buy a copy of Our Mob, God’s Story 100 % of all profit goes directly towards Indigenous Scripture publications, translation and ministry.

An article on Our Mob God's story

What people are saying
"The book’s powerful expressions by Indigenous artists - beautifully woven into their own narrative - help us celebrate our diversity and our common faith. They proclaim God’s story in ways that should cause us to reflect and respect.”  - Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision Australia
“The Dreaming is compatible. The faith is kept. The stories are told and illustrated. This is a beautiful, timely and loving record of what a friend Jesus has in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Bravo!”  - Peter Goers OAM, ABC Radio Adelaide, SA
“Healing. Here we have two hundred years of this healing held within the pages of one book. Brush strokes painting with words ask colours to join them in making medicine, the kind that can only come from faith. Faith held in old hands and young hearts. Hands, shaped by sun, earth, wind and water and new hearts beating from the sounds of old rhythms to tell stories of pain, loss, anger, frustration, understanding and most of all forgiveness. And that is what I feel when I see and read each page. Our Mob, God’s Story is a great read of faith, and one we should all enjoy.”  - Boori Monty Pryor, award-winning author of Maybe Tomorrow, Inaugural Children’s Laureate 2012

To obtain a copy visit

Free Bible - Australia only

Australian Bible Society in celebrating being 200 years old and the oldest organisation in Australia and throughout this time has been sharing the Good News is offering anyone who wants one a free apply visit

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Book: My life with Deth: Discovering meaning in a life of rock and roll

Dave Ellefson is considered one of the hardest headbangers of heavy metal and he shares his uplifting and empowering memoir about overcoming addiction and discovering a life of faith.

In My Life with Deth, cofounder and bassist of Mega­deth David Ellefson reveals the behind-the-scenes details of life in one of the world’s most popular heavy metal bands. If you’re looking for eye-opening revelations, they’re here, including the drug habits that brought the band members to their knees.

But My Life with Deth is far more than just another memoir of debauchery. Ellefson also shares the story of his faith journey, which began when he decided his only choice for survival was to get free from his addic­tion.

Whether religious or not, you’ll be enthralled and inspired by this tell-all book on discovering meaning in a life of rock and roll. You’ll find insightful comments from some of the biggest names in heavy metal, along with universal life lessons. With a delicate balance between humor and earnestness, anyone “can appreciate Ellefson’s unpretentious tone and the delightful irony of a serious Christian who helped define seriously heavy metal music” (Publisher’s Weekly).

Dave Ellefson is undertaking studies at a Lutheran Seminary towards becoming a pastor.

He also has established Mega Life Ministry, check out the Mega Life facebook page

Buy the book by clicking My life in Death