To Love Another Person Is To See The Face of God

les miserables

http://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/14-08-24-to-love-another-person-is-to-see-the-face-of-god-i-john-4-7-14-tah-guest-kurts.mp3

 In this Gospel Message entitled ” To Love Another Person Is To See The Face Of God”, visiting Pastor  to  New Life Fellowship of Baltimore,  Pastor Paul Kurts Proclaims through this quote by Victor Hugo and 1 John 4:7-14, “To Love Another Person is to see the face of God” – to KNOW him more intimately.

Hear in this message that:

~ Jesus lives in you through and by the power of the Holy Spirit! There is no other source of JOY, LIFE and LAUGHTER other than JESUS! He is the Author of EVERYTHING GOOD!

~Sometimes the Spirit takes us out of our comfort Zone so that we can not only KNOW GOD’S LOVE but also, so that we can SHOW GOD’S LOVE! We are called to Love one another with the kind of love the Father, Son and Spirit showers upon us, even when that love HURTS…even when that love is HARD….even when that love is CHALLENGING! 1 John 4:7

~The Story-Line of the Musical “Les Miserables” is a story filled with The Gospel, LOVE -REDEMPTION- FORGIVENESS – MERCY- GRACE – PASSION – SACRIFICE! Like the Bible it is riddled with brokenness but it ends with LIFE! Salvation has a positive ending. It includes our participation in the Father’s GRACE and LOVE AND US SHARING IN IT WITH OTHERS! It is GOD in HIS GRACE that teaches us how to live!

Layers of Lies

Collette Bliss is an amazing young lady who comes from a family full of very talented people. From theology to singing to musical instruments and drama the members of her family is one of the most widely gifted I have ever met. This year at The Rock Summer Camp ( http://www.therockcampnc.com ) Collette performed a poetry slam she had written about make up and the way it is sometimes misused to mask and cover pain. The pain she addresses is pain she has seen in the lives of those around her who are not blessed to come from such a wonderful family as she.

Fathers especially pay attention… and moms… go get your husbands and ask them to watch this with you.

The Lord’s Cosmos is a better place because Collette Bliss exists! Let her bless you today with this insightful poetry slam. Just click the blue link “Layers of Lies

~Bill Winn

Layers of Lies

Collette Slamming Lies

Collette Slamming Lies

Understanding God’s ‘If’s, And’s, or Buts’ RELATIONALLY! Part 3

Covenant Love

http://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/14-08-17-understanding-gods-ifs-ands-or-buts-relationally-part-3-psalm-89-tah.mp3

In this Gospel Message entitled ” Understanding God’s ‘If, And’s, or Buts’ Relationally!” Part 3, Pastor Timothy Brassell of  New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Proclaims though  Psalm 89 and Hebrews 8-9 The GOOD NEWS of the COVENANT-KEEPING GOD Revealed in Jesus Christ – God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

In this Interactive Discipleship Message:

* Hear the call and challenge, as Jesus’ disciple, to a lifetime of continual repentance and transformation as we live in a state of “becoming” till Jesus returns and are asked “What will you be doing when He returns?”

*Learn how crucial it is to see Life through the lens of God the Father , Son and Spirit in Covenant Love, lest we find ourselves  adding problems on top of our already challenging problems, and maybe even adding to those problems with a “great attitude and hard work ethic”. Yikes!

* Rehearse that you have been saved into a Relationship which is active and realistic so that your participation with Jesus  now is one that is not apathetic or triumphant, but one where you are occupied till the Lord comes.

* Learn  why to resist this world with Jesus means pain and suffering but also a profound and unspeakable joy!

Listen in and see what you think!

Right Where You Are

God (and we) love you right where you are         Lynn Stevens was a stripper for almost twenty years. But because of the organization We Are Cherished (founded in 2010 by another ex-stripper in Texas), Stevens came to realize she was loved and valued by the group’s volunteers, and ultimately, by God.

As a way to give back, Stevens started the We Are Cherished Ohio group to reach out to women employed at strip clubs in the Columbus, Ohio, area.  Each month, Stevens and other volunteers take gift bags containing lip gloss, hand sanitizer, earrings, and handwritten notes to the women.  The notes are particularly meaningful:  “You are valued,” “Praying for you,” and “You are loved.”

The group provides the gift bags to the women (and home-baked brownies and Starbucks gift cards to the bouncers) without asking them to leave their jobs.  Stevens says, “If we take away their choice, we take away love.” Even if the women remain strippers, Stevens and the group insist that “we’re going to love you right where you are.”

I find this story compelling, and I’m especially drawn to the practice that the group loves the strippers right where they are, without requiring or expecting change.  For many of us, accepting and loving others without seeking to change them (even when it would be for their own good) is a difficult task.  It seems plain that if a person is engaged in a behavior that is hurting them (or demeaning them), he or she would want to change – at least, that is what we might think.  This creates a paradox for most believers, who are happy to share the good news of God’s love but at the same time find it nearly impossible to share this love without expecting changed behavior from the recipient.

We first need to recognize this tension at work as we take part in sharing God’s love with those who happen to cross our paths or with those we interact with intentionally. By communicating any expectation of a reciprocal change for our efforts, we “take away love,” as Stevens says.

Being able to hold the sometimes opposing values of loving people and accepting them where they’re at is clearly a work of the Holy Spirit and not something we are naturally inclined to do.  Ecumenical teacher Richard Rohr says that

It is not something you can merely attain by practice, although that is necessary, too. All you can do is abide in God, and then God holds the tensions in you and through you and with you – and largely in spite of you!  Such a way of living is a participation in the very life of God, who holds all things in unity and compassion. (Holding the Tension: The Power of Paradox)

The example set by Lynn Stevens and the volunteers at We Are Cherished Ohio should inspire us as we participate with God in ministry wherever we are and wherever we go. Letting go of our need to judge and our desire to be “successful” in ministry will allow the Holy Spirit to create the spaciousness we must have in our hearts to love people right where they are. Stevens says, “Jesus loves strippers, too.”  So should we.

~by Nan Kuhlman

 

For more information, see We Are Cherished .

Special thanks to the Associated Press for their article featuring Lynn Stevens and We Are Cherished Ohio

 

 

Understanding God’s ‘If, And’s, or Buts’ RELATIONALLY! Part 2


Covenant Love

 

http://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/14-08-10-understanding-gods-ifs-ands-or-buts-relationally-part-2-psalm-89-tah1.mp3

In this Gospel Message entitled ” Understanding God’s ‘If, And’s, or Buts’ Relationally!” Part 2, Pastor Timothy Brassell of  New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Proclaims though  Psalm 89 The GOOD NEWS of the COVENANT GOD Revealed in Jesus Christ – God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

In this Message:

  • Hear how “God’s steadfast love is not a contract but a covenant that depends on God to fulfill both sides of in unconditional grace in His unrelenting purpose or reconciliation which he pledged to work out through Israel for all people!”
  • Learn that because God is Himself OUR salvation, then Salvation is not just a static some”thing” we are saved FROM but a DYNAMIC RELATIONSHIP of the RELATIONAL GOD we are saved INTO; emphasizing that the God Who IS, DOES Who He is!
  • Be challenged not only to hear the GOOD NEWS, but challenged to EMBRACE and BE TRANSFORMED AGAIN and AGAIN, as Jesus’ disciples, BELIEVING that, as men and women made in His Image, BELIEVING  is an  ACTIVE, MOVING, RESPONSIVE, PARTICIPATING, RELATIONAL RISK-TAKING ACTIVITY to the glory of the Father, through the Son and by the Spirit! 

This message also touches on the often difficult but  realistic situations we can find ourselves in as we live out and dimly show God’s Covenant Love in our present marriages and personal lives!

Check it out….

Uncertain

starrynightPerhaps it is always the way, but it seems that so much is happening in the world at the moment that is dark and horrifying: planes dropping from the sky, a horrible Mid East conflict leaving civilians and innocent children dead on both sides, the possibility of a pandemic.

This being the era of Facebook, the opinions of hundreds of “friends” are available around the clock. As people take sides and debate each other, it can feel that humanity is drowning in its opinionatedness and dogmatism on these and countless other topics.

But what do we, any of us, really know?

In the article Why human vision is a mathematical impossibility, I read recently that even colour does not truly exist. Plants are not green; the sky is not blue.

Colour doesn’t exist in the world. Nothing is coloured. It’s impossible to see the world as it really is. A mathematical impossibility. This problem isn’t just the problem of colour vision, it’s the problem of vision, it’s the problem of the brain. The problem of uncertainty. ~ Dr Beau Lotto, University College London neuroscientist.

The problem of uncertainty.

…we only see a tiny, tiny fragment of the universe. The electromagnetic spectrum is huge. Radio waves can have wavelengths measured in kilometres; gamma rays, at the other end, have wavelengths measured in picometres, trillionths of a metre, smaller than the diameter of an atom. The light we see, the entire familiar rainbow, is only that between 390 and 700 nanometers – billionths of a meter. It is a sliver of a sliver, a fraction of a dot. ~Tom Chivers, Telegraph science writer.

We only see a sliver of a sliver, a fraction of a dot, of even our own world, let alone the universe.

Other researchers have shown that the conscious mind is merely the tip of the iceberg of our experience. The unconscious mind is far larger and though it seems to us to sleep, it is far from dormant.

The “problem of uncertainty” is a universal, overwhelming aspect of the human condition, though you might not know it to look at people’s Facebook rants! But the truth is, to be human is to be uncertain. It’s uncomfortable, and I don’t think anyone can be blamed for trying to anchor to something that feels solid as a way of making it through this life. The trouble happens when we demand that what feels solid to us be solid to others — and tear at what they are standing on when it doesn’t.

Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to religion.

Religion demands certainty, but if we are honest with ourselves, we will see that there is none to be had. Just as perceiving colour is our brain’s way of resolving that which is uncertain and making it useful, so is religion.

Is God just humanity’s way of making sense out of the senseless, but nothing more?

I don’t honestly think so. The more I see that I don’t know and I don’t see, the more I dream about what could be based on the little I see with my eyes.

 For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. ~ Vincent Van Gogh.

When we stop pretending to know and understand things that we don’t and can’t, it frees us to marvel at the perfection of what is and to dream about its implications. Today’s technology allows us to see both more deeply and further away — both much faster and more slowly —  than possible with the human eye alone and this creates only more awe and a clear sense that these things are far from random or coincidental.

I believe we can never dream too big or hope for too much in relation to the God making himself known to all through the natural world and through each other. Nature and humanity are bursting with messages of hope if we’ll just open our eyes to them. All that we see that is miraculous and boggles our minds is just the beginning of what is there that we can’t see: a universe not dark and empty, but teeming with life and love and energy and goodness that someday I dream we all will see.

It’s alright to be uncertain. It’s good to embrace uncertainty, because admitting what we don’t know opens us up. It makes us more able to catch glimpses of what lies beyond our human vision. It makes us humble, and so kinder and gentler with those around us.

Isn’t this what life is all about?

~ by Jeannine Buntrock

The painting above is of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night.

Eight Sentences on the Human Condition

Model PrayerSome lines from the Gospels just jump out at you. I picked these eight sentences because they are reflective of what we are all experiencing in our relationship with God. These lines are the cry of humanity to the Trinity:

 1. Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man! (Luke 5:8) God’s self-revelation is not, to begin with, a pleasant or hopeful experience. There is a burden, a heaviness, about God’s presence which C.S. Lewis sometimes called “the weight of glory.”

2. Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (John 11:32) We are really quite dysfunctional in our relationship with God – we are constantly yo-yoing between “go away!” and “why aren’t you here?”

3. I believe; help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24) Is there any more profound statement of what it means to try to live a life of faith? We cannot do it, we can only open ourselves to let the Holy Spirit share with us the faith of Jesus – the faith he has in his Father’s goodness

4. Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:68) Even when we don’t understand what is happening or what God is trying to tell us, we can, at least, know that we are trusting the right one when we are trusting Jesus.

5. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46) This is the great cry of humanity – both believers and non-believers alike. For every one of us the day will come when these words are squeezed out of us by the crush of suffering. It is no accident that Jesus himself offers these words up to God on our behalf.

6. My Lord and My God! (John 20:28) What else can we say when we see life conquer death, destruction turned into resurrection, and despair rising again as joy?

7. Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you. (John 21:17) Eventually doubt and faith, life and death, suffering and resurrection, all become the Father’s hidden and surprising ways of bringing us fully into the life she shares with the Son and the Holy Spirit.

8. We recognized him in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:35) And so, whenever we break the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the struggle of our faith and the faithfulness of the one who has given himself fully to us.

~ Jonathan Stepp

What if the Above comes from Below?

When you study theology and get down into its bowels, you discover a debate between “Theology from Above” versus “Theology from Below.” Theology From Below means exploring our spiritual intuitions/feelings about God, and using those insights to construct our theology.  Theology From Above means listening for revelation from God, a voice outside ourselves telling us things we wouldn’t know otherwise.

The Trinity and Humanity community is mostly a Theology-from-Above kind of group.  We draw a lot of inspiration from Karl Barth, who, when approached with Theology-from-Below, replied with his famous: “NEIN!!!!

And I am really a Theology-from-Above kind of guy.  If God is real, then revelation is absolutely necessary for us to have any knowledge of God.  If I want to know about something other than myself, I have to look outside myself to learn about it.  If I want to know my dog, I have to go hang out with my dog; it would be silly to try and get to know my dog by contemplating my inner feelings about dogness.

In one part of his fantastic “Big Picture” series of lectures, Baxter Kruger recounts Friedrich Schleiermacher’s attempts at Theology-from-Below, and Baxter says something like “Schleiermacher was looking into his heart, which was good in that it got him out of his head. But he was looking into the wrong heart!”  Real theology looks into the heart of CHRIST, the one and only point of union and togetherness between God and humanity.

This makes oodles of sense to me.  This is why Theology-from-Above is my true home. But here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately:

Where does the heart of the incarnate Christ reside?

It resides in my heart.

And in yours.

And in the heart of every human who has ever lived.

Where does our Theology-From-Above come from?  How does it arrive?  Do we see it by looking up?  I would argue that we see it by looking down.  Isn’t that the scandal of Christmas — that our From-Above God comes to us from below?  From oh-so-human places like mangers? And from oh-so-human cities like Nazareth?

So here’s what I’m thinking…

Every human being has a [limited] ability to recognize Goodness, Truth, and Beauty.  When we recognize these things, what’s really going on is that we are seeing creation move in harmony with the Great Dance of the Trinity.  But the only reason we recognize the Dance is that we already know the Dance, or rather, Christ-in-Us knows the Dance.  We know Goodness, Truth, and Beauty not because the human heart innately knows these things without revelation from God, but precisely because God has already made himself known in the One who now lives in us.

It is because of Christ that Beauty haunts every one of us.

It is because of Christ that my Theology-from-Above comes to me From-Below.

What this means is that my non-Christian neighbors have a lot more contact with God than they realize.

  • Every time my Atheist friend feels strong devotion to the Truth…
  • Every time my Buddhist friend enjoys the Goodness of compassion…
  • Every time my Druid friend exults in the Beauty of nature…

… they are touching Theology that has come to us all from Above.

My efforts at engaging my non-Christian friends with the Gospel involves a lot of talking with them about Goodness, Truth, and Beauty.  So it can look like Theology-from-Below.  But it’s only because down there is where my Theology-from-Above lives.

Understanding God’s ‘If, And’s, or Buts’ RELATIONALLY! Part 1

Covenant Love

https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/14-07-13-understanding-gods-if-ands-or-buts-relationally-part-1-psalm-89-tah.mp3

In this Gospel Message entitled ” Understanding God’s ‘If, And’s, or Buts’ Relationally!” Part 1, Pastor Timothy Brassell of  New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Proclaims The GOOD NEWS of the LOYAL GOD Revealed in Jesus Christ!

Because God gives Himself and His own Relationship to us as His Gift to us in Jesus, then God Himself is His own Good News! God Himself is our Great Blessing and Reward! Practically speaking then, the best way for us to understand what God is saying to us, even in scripture, is to understand more about God Himself, and especially as Revealed in Jesus His Son! Jesus Revealed that God IS Father, Son and Spirit not a doctrine! To understand God’s Relationship is not academic, or ivory tower stuff only because in Christ God is Revealed to be THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life!

It is in that Gospel context that we begin to understand that:

  • God does have some “If’s, and’s & but’s”  BUT only in His Unconditional Love for us!
  • We can only have a proper understanding of those words in the Light of God’s own Relationship, which has been shared with us in Jesus!
  • As we understand Who God is, and who we are in Him, we have to reconsider and toss out our broken views of “If’s, and’s & but’s” and receive them for the Good News that they are!

In short, hear about the God of Loyal Love and of God’s love that makes a choice for no particular reason! Yay!

Priming the Pump

Lately I have read a great deal of commentary on the “ear Tickling” of Trinitarian/ Inclusion theology. Anecdotal as it may be, the observation of snipes at preaching that leaves a church-goer happy has brought me to this blog posting. I once heard a story of a man who was sitting in church to see his niece get baptized. During the main sermon the preacher was holding forth about the evils of this behavior and the pitfalls of the other behavior and condemning all who engaged in said behaviors. During the sermon this man’s father passed him a note that read, “How do you feel?” The man scribbled a response, “I came to get a drink of Living Water

Out of the believer's heart shall flow...

Out of the believer’s heart shall flow…

and instead got a butt whipping!”

Some might suggest that when we hear a message at church we should expect to be convicted and corrected.  Maybe some of us expect to be whipped verbally and spiritually for our past weeks transgressions. Perhaps there is a place for us to be corrected but I would suggest that the arena for such pastoral care is in private so that none are shamed. The Father, Son, and Spirit don’t do shame!

Jesus said that out of the believer’s heart would flow rivers of living waters. Well who is the Living Water? Of course Jesus is the Living Water. I believe messages at church should be the best place in the world to hear the good news of the Father’s relentless love for all of humanity. If we show up at church we should plant our feet and expect to hear the gospel. The word itself means good news.

My Grandfather had an old manually operated well pump on his farm in North Carolina and by the time I came along it was not used much because the technology of the day had replaced it with an automatic electric pump. The old pump did work and my Grandfather used it from time to time to water the dogs or flowers and such. In order to get the water to come out one had to first pour a bucket of water down the top of the pump. This was what Grandpa called priming the pump.

If we wanted to get water from that particular well we had to pour the contents of the old wooden bucket down the top of that pump to start the water flowing. When we drew all the water we needed the last thing we’d do is fill up the bucket and leave it for the next time the pump was to be used.

I submit that the preaching we hear in church should serve as a prime of the pump so-to-speak. Good news should be poured out into us so much so that we get “primed” for the Living Water to spill out all over our world.

Paul the Apostle warned of times when people would not yearn for sound doctrine but would have itching ears and would wander away to myths.

So let me suggest that preaching that beats us over the head about our every shortcoming is not sound doctrine and the god who is a disapproving judge is a myth.

The message of the Church is that you belong to the Father, Son, and Spirit. You always have, you always will, the Father loves you, and likes you. You are his beloved child. So let us not tickle each other’s ears with any other nonsense.

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