Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

God, In Jesus, Comes and Reigns In Judging Grace

Judges 2

Part 1, 26 mins:https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/16-11-27-god-in-jesus-comes-and-reigns-in-judging-grace-part-1-judges-2-tah.mp3”

Part 2, 26 mins:https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/16-11-27-god-in-jesus-comes-and-reigns-in-judging-grace-part-2-judges-2-tah.mp3”

Full Message:https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/16-11-27-god-in-jesus-comes-and-reigns-in-judging-grace-judges-2-tah.mp3”

THEOLOGICAL THEME: God – Father, Son and Spirit cares for His people too much to let them languish in their sin and idolatry forever. He will judge and He will save.

CHRIST CONNECTION: The judges saved people from the consequences of their sin but could not change the cause of their sin. Jesus is the Savior and Judge of the world who takes upon Himself the consequences for our sin and then offers us new hearts that seek His righteousness.

MISSIONAL APPLICATION: God the Holy Spirit places us into union with Jesus, helping us identify and resist the prevailing idolatries in our society so that our distinctiveness will back up our proclamation of the gospel.

*picture courtesy of dwellingintheword.wordpress.com

The Godly Meaning Of The Bronze Serpent

Numbers 21 Serpent - Jesus

Part 1, 25 mins :https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/16-10-23-the-godly-meaning-of-the-bronze-serpent-part-1-numbers-21-tah.mp3”

Part 2, 25 mins :https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/16-10-23-the-godly-meaning-of-the-bronze-serpent-part-2-numbers-21-tah.mp3”

Full Message:https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/16-10-23-the-godly-meaning-of-the-bronze-serpent-numbers-21-tah.mp3”

Theological Theme: God our Father sent His Son Jesus to become sin in order to conquer sin.

Christ Connection: Just as the Israelites looked upon the bronze serpent lifted high on the pole and were healed, so also we look with faith upon Jesus Christ, who was lifted high on the cross, and experience Salvation from our sin.

Missional Application: Because Christ has become sin for us, getting rid of it, God the Holy Spirit empowers us to share with others that they, too, can and should look upon Jesus, receiving his love shown deepest on the cross, and receive spiritual healing.

*picture courtesy of markglogg.eu

 

Colorblind? How Do We See?

I recently watched a short video about a new product that allows people, who suffer with the most common form of colorblindness to see a fuller color spectrum.  There are a good many “sciencey” words that describe what’s gone wrong in a person’s eyes to cause colorblindness and I don’t understand them but the problem is very real for almost 8% of humanity.ebu_colorbars-768x576

What if there were a new set of lenses through which a colorblind person could see  in full color HD like the other 92%? Would you want the colorblind to know? Wouldn’t we tell anyone in our lives who suffers from colorblindness about this amazing way to see? Of course we would.

So how do we see God? How do we see ourselves? How do we see each other? I would venture to say that way more than 8% of us see God, each other, and ourselves in unhealthy ways.

Can we be honest and confess that we see… oh… how shall I put it… “dimly”? I certainly can tell you I am no different than the Apostle Paul. I, too, see through the glass dimly. None of us are immune to this condition. I am a GCI Pastor preaching Trinitarian theology as clearly as I can, I am mentored by some of the finest theologians alive today, and I even write for a blog called Trinity and Humanity but I still see through the glass dimly. I still struggle with the latent mythologies about God that hold over from my youth.

In spite of what I know about the Father, Son, and Spirit I sometimes catch myself fearing the wrath of an angry judge instead of resting in the embrace of a loving Father.

So what do we do about it? We simply change the lens through which we see God. Easier said than done, I know, but this is where prayer enters in. So what’s the cure? What lens are we looking for? We need only ask John who (not what) that lens is… John the beloved disciple recorded for us these words of Jesus, “If you have seen me you have seen my Father.” ( Jn 14:9) Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay what? Yes, Jesus- the totally chill, inviting, accepting, forgiving, providing, and healing God/Man is exactly like his Papa.

Jesus is the only lens through which we accurately see God. He is the only lens through which we best see others and the only lens through which we see our true selves.  Seeing is believing, so they say, and when we join the saints and the great cloud of witnesses and begin to look at everything through Jesus we will see our fellow man as ones worthy of love, we will see ourselves worthy of love, and we will will see the Father, Son, and Spirit as the source of worth and love.

The new EnChroma (TM) lenses allow the colorblind to see a more colorful world but the lens of Jesus Christ helps us see Love as we could only dare to dream!

Let’s pray, “Father, we want to see you through the eyes of Jesus, we want to see others the way he does, and we want to see ourselves with the same love and acceptance that is made known to us only in our Savior! In Jesus’ name… Amen.”

you may view the EnChroma video here

video used under Fair Use for educational purposes.

~Bill Winn

Theology from The Princess Bride

Source: www.princessbrideforever.com

Source: princessbrideforever.com

Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

I first heard that line from The Princess Bride when I was 15, watching the movie for the first time at summer camp. As a teenager it struck me as odd. I had not yet experienced life as pain and I questioned whether such an observation was really true.

I have seen the movie many times over the years and it has become one of my favorites. I no longer question that line, however. It is exactly right.

A good portion of our consumer economy is premised on the idea that pain can and should be avoided. We are bombarded with the message that medication, alcohol, food, cars, and a host of other products can remove the pain. We are bombarded with the message that the “winners” in life have no pain because they are successful and can acquire the right products to avoid ever having to feel pain. The “losers” in life, by contrast, are jacked up and out of luck.

This is a profound lie and we all know it, if we’ve lived long enough. Pain is integral to existence, it permeates our day to day to life and it can threaten to derail our lives if we are not careful. Jesus knows this better than most. He prayed that the cup of pain would pass from him – as we all do – but he also prayed that God’s will for his life would be done – as we all aspire to do.

Life is pain. So now what? Will we run from it, self-medicate it away, and try to shop it out of existence? Or will we follow Jesus in the path where he trusts the Father and relies entirely on the Spirit? As the Book of Common Prayer says:

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

~ Jonathan Stepp

Breaking News: Jesus Is Renewing T/His Church! pt.5

jonah-1-psalm-139

https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/16-07-17-breaking-news-jesus-is-renewing-t-his-church-part-5-jonah-1-psalm-139-tah.mp3”

As Hank Coates has written: “Jonah, the Prophet who ran away, is the Lord’s. And the Lord won’t let Jonah go. And the Lord gets what the Lord wants. And what the Lord wants is that all people come to know his saving love that stands on the side of the oppressed, makes the crooked straight, and releases the captives from their chains.”

That’s what this message is all about as a local Church heads “outside the walls”, witnessing in Word and Deed to God, Father, Son and Spirit – The Lord! Check it out!

*photo courtesy of shainadomatilia.wordpress.com

A Thought on Spiritual Disciplines

chimney-top-mtnDo you ever feel that your spiritual exercises are producing little in the way of results? However we might measure or define the word “result” we’ve all experienced times when prayer, participation in worship, meditation, or other spiritual disciplines seemed hollow and rote. I recently came across this quote regarding contemplation, but I think it applies to all the spiritual exercises:

[Any spiritual exercise] . . .is a skill, a discipline that facilitates a process that is out of one’s direct control, but it does not have the capacity to determine an outcome. The gardener practices finely honed skills . . . But there is nothing the gardener can do to make the plants grow. However, if the gardener does not do what a gardener is supposed to do, the plants are not as likely to flourish. . . In the same way a sailor exercises considerable skill in sailing a boat. But nothing the sailor does can produce the wind that moves the boat. . . Gardening and sailing involve skills of receptivity. The skills are necessary but by themselves insufficient. ~ Martin Laird, Into the Silent Land, pp. 53-54

God is not a tame creature that can be called upon to perform. God is like the wind or like a garden – we pray, we come to worship, we meditate – and when the wind blows or the seed sprouts these spiritual skills make us ready and receptive to receive what God is doing. We can’t tell the Father, Son, and Spirit when to show up, but we can follow the pattern of Jesus’ life of spiritual exercise to be ready when they do.

~ Jonathan Stepp

Yes – Barack, Hillary and “the Donald” are Better Than You!

hillary-barack-donald

Or, at least grace is given, from Jesus, to consider them better than you! Right? Right? Right?

I know. It almost doesn’t seem like that kind of grace is true for us after seeing or participating in all of those political rants on Facebook this year (and received even in my mailbox today!). But thank Abba Father for helping us to receive this grace, through Jesus, in the Spirit, and written by the Apostle Paul in scripture:

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves.” Phil 2:3 (AMP)

I’m not saying, and the Apostle Paul isn’t saying, that people aren’t sometimes bad and don’t make bad decisions that suck. They do! We do! You do! Paul did! All do! Paul considers himself to be “the worst of sinners”, 1 Tim 1:16, (as you should be regarding yourself, right?!) Paul is just admitting that, after an encounter with Jesus and receiving Who Jesus says he is, we see that we all suck badly enough with our sin nature that we rebel against God (and you really can’t get worse than that – I don’t care who you are! Can you?)

If for some reason you can’t receive that, then can you at least receive that however far you perceive yourself to be away from Barack, Donald and Hillary in your supposed sin and ethical behavior, you are wayyyyyy to the infinite power closer to them than you are to Jesus, WHO NEVER SINNED! Hmpf! It’s ONLY in Jesus’ humanity that your humanity is perfected, AND, you’re not Him and he’s not you! He sends the Spirit so that we, you, sinners, might be conformed to him, not just in his humanity, but in ours! As Dr. Gary Deddo says “What Jesus does for and to us, the Holy Spirit works out in and through us!”

So, if you’re going to give us a Christian political rant, have at it! But have mercy (the kind you want the political leader to have on others! Ha!). We should be able to sense some of Christ’s humility in your rant, not simply political hate, if you’re a Christian! Can you at least get a word or two in about Christ? It is a “Christ”ian rant, if it’s coming from you, right? Politics are tainted with darkness, so why not leave people with a witness of the hope of Christ in politics, the Light the darkness cannot overcome?

And in case you’ve forgotten Who Jesus is (and we DO forget), he is the Son of Abba Father, who sends the Holy Spirit, through Jesus, bringing Jesus to our remembrance! Yes! Ask Father for the Holy Spirit before your next political rant, because there’s nothing more God would rather give you than the Holy Spirit! Luke 11:9-13.

As the Holy Spirit grants you growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, be political because you’re Christ-centered, not just mentioning Christ because your political-centered! Ha! Proclaim Jesus as the Sovereign of the world and don’t just be concerned with the sovereignty of this or that nation!

Perhaps you think I’m overly spiritualizing things, but I’m actually not! Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” – John 8:12.Whatever spiritual means, it means God in flesh and the ordinary things of life! To say Jesus is to say “flesh” and “Spirit”. Therefore, Jesus IS the spiritual Light on politics, in flesh, and politics really matters, and we ought to wrestle with and talk about it, and all subjects, in the Spirit.

As Christians we’ve not become so poisoned with hate, so sin and policy-centered, that we can’t (or won’t?) write a political rant that leaves us more with the Christian hope than hate for a human brother or sister (political leader), have we?! If we’ve become like that, we need more grace to become more Christ-centered in our spiritual journey. Can’t you use at least 4 of your 150 characters to characterize Jesus and (dare I suggest) request P-R-A-Y-er FOR the political leader as Christ holds them, rather than praying for them to “go to hell” as we hold them. Haha

By the way, if you aren’t claiming to speak or write in Christ’s name, or as one in whom His Spirit dwells, then of course this post wasn’t written for you except as a witness to you of Christ – Who loves and has mercy on you too! (wink wink) And who knows (God knows!) maybe Barack, Hillary and Donald REALLY ARE BETTER THAN YOU, considering Who they know versus Who you know! Hmmmm…

– tjbrassell

 

Breaking News: Jesus Is Renewing T/His Church! pt.2

Make all things new 2

https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/06-05-16-breaking-news-jesus-is-renewing-t-his-church-part-2-acts-1-2-tah.mp3″

In part two of this new series on God’s Good News at New Life Baltimore, walk with a congregation preparing to participate and go with Jesus more “Outside The Walls” of the Church by asking the three most important questions of Christianity:

Who is Jesus Christ?, Where is Jesus Christ today? and What am I to do as a Christian?

It is also reinforced that:

*Jesus Christ has no volunteers in His Church, only those who have been called by Him and who stand under his gracious command and free response from the Spirit!
*God is not looking for a perfect response BUT does look for an imperfect one!
*Love is always obedient even though obedience isn’t always love!

 

*picture courtesy of campaign.vpweb.com

Breaking News: Jesus Is Renewing T/His Church! pt.1

Making Things New 1

https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/05-29-16-breaking-news-jesus-is-renewing-t-his-church-part-1-acts-1-2-tah1.mp3”

In part one of this new series on God’s Good News at New Life Baltimore, walk with a congregation preparing to participate and go with Jesus more “Outside The Walls” of the Church by asking the three most important questions of Christianity:

Who is Jesus Christ?

Where is Jesus Christ today?

What am I to do as a Christian?

Check it out!

 

*picture courtesy of pinterest.com

Playing on the Same Human Team

baseball game I wanted that job. I had been planning, preparing, and thinking about it for more than six months. Everything aligned, so it seemed. But. I. Didn’t. Get. It.

I had prayed about it, and it seemed as if it was God’s will. But. Then. It. Wasn’t. Someone with more experience and better credentials came into the process and took that job. Rather, the administration gave her that job because she was good (like me), plus she had the experience and credentials the college needed for its accreditation requirements.

Because of my disappointment, I needed to make sure that this new colleague really deserved my job, so I “creeped” on her. For those who aren’t familiar with “creeping,” that is checking out a person in an online Google search. I saw impressive credentials (that I already knew), but I also saw tweets about God and God’s goodness and faithfulness. My new colleague, my nemesis, probably also prayed for this job like I did. God said yes to her but no to me.

Some years ago, I might have thought that I didn’t get this job because a) I didn’t tithe consistently, b) I didn’t attend church regularly, c) I wasn’t spending enough time in the spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study, or d) I had some sort of unconfessed sin that prevented God from blessing me. These reasons (which may or may not be true) would make not getting the job my “fault.” This is based on a religion that uses guilt and/or fear to spur Christians to “do more for God,” yet when one looks at the outcome of such a response, it’s clear that what actually happens is that our relationship with God becomes a transaction. If I do this for you, God, you must give me that job. Entire ministries have been built on false premises like this one because the goodness of God lavishes blessings on humanity, making it appear like such a formula really works.

In this instance, though, I am thankfully not caught up in the transactional mindset. But I still wondered why the job didn’t work out until I came to the realization that asking why isn’t that helpful. Asking why is challenging reality as it is, and while I might learn something about better interviewing or better teaching demos, in this case, it seems my lack of credentials was the deciding factor. Asking why became an exercise in challenging the bigger life choices I made years ago, such as staying home with my children for sixteen years rather than pursuing a PhD. This helped me see that asking why rarely provides a satisfying answer.

So at this point, you are probably saying, “Nan, tell me the right approach when I’m faced with a situation that didn’t turn out like I hoped or expected,” and I’ll tell you this, dear reader: I don’t know. My new colleague received the blessing of a new job, and despite my best efforts, I did not. She probably prayed, I definitely prayed, and from the looks of the situation, we play on the same team and pray to the same God. Maybe you’re faced with a more serious issue, and I wish I could tell you for sure that it will turn out OK. In fact, I want more than anything to tell you that everything will turn out as you’re hoping and praying. But I can do something better than that.

I can tell you definitively that you will be OK regardless of how your situation turns out. In the midst of your grief and disappointment, you will know that you are held, that resisting the grief and disappointment only perpetuates them, and that grace is always present and abundant.

Christian mystic, philosopher, and author Simone Weil has an interesting way of putting it:

            “All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by laws analogous to those of physical gravity. Grace is the only exception. Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void.” (Gravity and Grace)

I wanted a job, but another child of God landed the job. When we pray for our troops to win a battle, others are also praying for their army to win. When Ohio State’s football team plays University of Michigan, some will be praying for the Buckeyes and others will be praying equally fervently for the Wolverines. Some hope Trump will win the election; others hope Hillary will win. Some will win in these contests who don’t bother to pray at all, and some will lose who do pray. But grace will be there to fill the void, that we can count on.

~by Nan Kuhlman

 

 

 

 

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