Archive for the ‘Heaven’ Tag

The Good News Of Restorative Justice!

restorative justice

 In this Gospel message entitled “THE GOOD NEWS OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE!” guest speaker, Mako Nagasawa, Proclaims the GOOD NEWS of The God Revealed in Jesus Christ at New Life Fellowship of Baltimore! Mako proclaims God’s vision for GENEROUS giving and the importance of Jesus giving us A NEW HUMANITY, EMPOWERING US to bring more of His JUSTICE and LOVE into this world!

In this message we understand that:

  • God has a GREAT vision for EVERY kind of relationship including Economic and Political relationships, and involving Historic Injustice. He has been very specific with us, biblically, about what that should look like on the lending and borrowing of money by fostering good banking practices, and opposing bad banking practices!
  • Jesus took OUR HUMANITY to himself and, by His Spirit, shares with us a new humanity that filters out the toxins in us such as fear, jealousy,and grief, enabling us to reach out to the poor in mercy, forgiving others their debts even as we have been forgiven our debts from God our Father.
  • We are called to manifest the LOVE and RELATIONSHIP that exists within the TRIUNE GOD, and extend THAT kind of love to others; that love looks like the Father stirring up in us a deep concern and right way about how to care for each other in our communities and through the difficult times many people have fallen into!

Check out this practically challenging message!


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Why Jesus’ Church Fellowships More And More!, pt.4 (or WHO Baltimore Needs!)


In pt. 4 of this Gospel Series, Timothy Brassell of  New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Proclaims the GOOD NEWS of The God Revealed in Jesus Christ with a new message entitled, “Why Jesus’ Church Fellowships MORE And MORE!” pt.4 (WHO Baltimore needs!).

As you grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ learn:

  • How much the current Baltimore troubles and the book of Hebrews in scripture have in common!
  • That the one way forward in the middle of the current passion and protest in Baltimore, MD. is for the body of Christ to BE the Body of Christ!
  • How to think out and share Christ-centered responses to current pressing questions such as: What does Baltimore need? and Who does Baltimore need? and Where is God in all of this?
  • the importance of remembering that behind every law and system is the person or persons who created or promotes those laws or systems!
  • What it means that we are made in the image of God and why this is important for addressing Baltimore’s current issues and the issues in your city, and even in all the world!

Also get Gospel insight and learn:

  •  More about the myths and idols concerning marriage, singleness, sex, celibacy and family life and be reminded that ANYTHING we idolize WILL kill us!
  • That in God’s Grace we have been given various forms of living in relationship but these are ONLY ways of living in Christ now in our present form but are NOT fully the end goal for our lives in relationship!
  • Why we all struggle so much and how WE CAN LIVE MORE IN THE RECONCILIATION worked out it in the entire human life of Jesus!
  • What process God uses to strengthen families in the world, bringing the future family of God into the present!

Hear in this message that ___________________ in Christ is the goal of Christ no matter your station in life or your current status as the Father’s Child. You CAN receive every day as a gift and receive it BEST by _______________ !  And that it isn’t ____________ that is wearing you out but ______________!

Tune in and participate by filling in all the blanks! 🙂

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Why Jesus’ Church Fellowships More And More! pt.3


 In pt. 3 of this Gospel Series, Timothy Brassell of  New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Proclaims the GOOD NEWS of The God Revealed in Jesus Christ with a new message entitled, “Why Jesus’ Church Fellowships MORE And MORE!” pt.3.

In this message you’ll:

  • Hear the Truly Good News in two awesome quotes that will fill your soul with God’s Goodness – one VERY OLD and one more recent!
  • Learn more of what the Church actually is and reconsider thinking of it the way the Apostle Paul does!
  • Have THREE MODERN MYTHS about the Church exposed in the Light of what the Church actually is!
  • Start to learn the place and importance of marriage, singleness and friendship as they relate to the Church and be challenged by missionary Gracia Burnham’s statement that “The point isn’t to grow old with your mate. That’s not the point. The point is …”

Tune in to hear the rest of that statement and MUCH MORE!

Why Jesus’ Church Fellowships More And More! pt.2


In this Gospel Message Timothy Brassell of  New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Proclaims the GOOD NEWS of The God Revealed in Jesus Christ through his Part 2 series entitled, “Why Jesus’s Church Fellowships MORE And MORE!” pt.2. He explores the Church in the Light of Jesus  by reading through Hebrews 10: 19-39, including comments and discussion with the congregation!

In this message you’ll learn some Church “basics” and things you can consider if you’re interested in being Jesus’ disciple or encouraging others to be His disciples, including:

  • The main positive of the Church in this world AND some of the challenges the Church faces as it stands for and against this world!
  • Who and what your main enemy is and why you absolutely CAN BE COURAGEOUS AND NOT AFRAID!
  • The fatal error in the old phrase which says “I think, therefore I am!”
  • The fact that as you take part in and with Jesus there is definitely Some One to say YES to, and some one to say NO to!
  • What Heaven REALLY is!
  • That the “The Church may have a building but that is not its place. The building may be the Church’s location, but it’s space is in ….”

Listen in as the rest of that last sentence is given and clarity is shed about the Church’s Life, including one major myth we have about Church!

Will Heaven Be Communist?

DollarWhen I say communist, I don’t mean the totalitarian nightmare of the 20th century. I mean the seemingly naive, idealistic 19th century philosophy of communal society that said “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Before you jump to any conclusions consider the following questions:

  • Do you think we will have money in heaven?
  • Will good money managers live in a nicer part of heaven than bad money managers?
  • Will the life of the world to come be a life of “haves” and “have nots”?

It seems to me that the answer to these questions is “no”. It’s no wonder that Jesus was so ambivalent about money and at times was quite negative about the accumulation of wealth. His vision was focused on what is to come – on what is eternal – and the accumulation of wealth just isn’t something that has much of a future. Jesus gives us a vision of the kingdom of heaven in which human society is beyond money, beyond wealth accumulation, and beyond a brokenness in which a few have too much and many do not have enough (consider, for example, the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man.)

Now here’s the really weird part: Jesus said that, in him, this Kingdom of God has come near to us. In some sense we are already living this life and called to change our minds (repent) and begin living in anticipation of the fullness of the coming of this new world. And that raises a final question:

If we believe all this then how should we be living now?

~ Jonathan Stepp

You’d Better Get Used to Being Human!

If you’re like me, and infested with a fallen human nature, that probably sounds negative and uninspiring at first, doesn’t it?

There is simply something about being human that we have been taught to disrespect, dishonor and not appreciate, regardless of Jesus and the scriptures (Psalm 8, Heb 1). Kermit the frog came close when he sung “It’s not easy being green!” Its not always easy being human! Plus, the rotten experiences we have had and are having in this flesh don’t seem to match up with the logic of wanting to remain human forever. After all, isn’t Christianity really about getting out of these human bodies and into a spiritual non-human body?

Where did you and I inherit poison like that? Christianity is absolutely NOT about not being human?! Just the opposite!

It’s about being truly human forever! It’s amazing to me how much I have missed this truth and, as a result, missed much more of the Kingdom here on earth NOW that the Father makes available in His Son Jesus and delights for me to share in with you!

I just had the wonderful opportunity of proclaiming this Good News at a local congregation of Grace Communion International in Baltimore, MD.! It is called New Life Fellowship, and I think you would love visiting there if you ever got the chance! They are alive and well in Jesus AND learning to celebrate their humanity NOW! “Wowsa” and “Good gravy!” Go Baltimore! They invited me up for International Day where we celebrated the fact that all of us will be human forever, and that all of the distinct expressions, colors, races, and general ethnic cultures and foods we love to eat will still exist in the resurrection!

Check out this set of verses in the Scriptures in The Message version of the Bible: Luke 2:27-52, Luke 24:36-48, listen to the message here (soon!), and claim this wonderful truth in Jesus:

Jesus was born as, lived in, died as, and was resurrected and ascended to His Father as the Jewish God/Man that originally came on the scene!

Notice in Luke 24 how he keeps exclaiming that it is Him, Jesus, Who has Resurrected and is the Resurrection? “Look at MY hands and my feet!”, he exclaims! “Ghosts do not have muscle and bone as I have!” He remarks! “Do you have some of my favorite food, fish? Give me some! I want to gobble it up and eat it to show you how human I still am in my FOREVER resurrection…AND HOW HUMAN YOU WILL BE IN YOUR FOREVER RESURRECTION WITH ME WHEN HEAVEN COMES TO EARTH!” (Rev 21:1-4)

Do you see what Jesus is doing in His own permanently human body? (Acts 1:1-11)

He is validating YOUR culture! Your Distinct Expression! Your Music! Your Favorite Dance! Your Favorite Food! Your Nationality! Your color of Eyes! Your DIFFERENTLY shaped ears, nose, mouth and body shape!! (Ha-Ha! I can hear many of you groaning as you debate the fact that maybe your current weight and looks are REALLY acceptable to God and may not change as much as you currently desire IN YOUR SINFUL PERCEPTIONS OF YOURSELF!!!Ha-Ha! I’m with you in that struggle!)

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to literally and exactly describe how you will look in the resurrection!

I’m lost about the old vs. the young thing, too! Neither am I trying to give more answers than raise questions. I’m not! I am trying to be faithful to the Gospel – Jesus – and the Jewish and human HIM he took seriously AND resurrected! So much so that in His human self he keeps saying, “It is me!” and they (his disciples) recognized HIM as himself!

Sure your body will be raised incorruptible, and YES, everything that is not truly human in you and is broken in your body will be fixed and made right! BUT, what is “right?” I don’t think a large nose, ears, or belly are necessarily wrong or broken in every case, do you?! Don’t we even say as fallen humans that “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”? And don’t we REALLY know that and mean it when we say it? Ha-Ha! Where does that come from if not from the Triune God in Whom we are all created and sustained in our distinction and union, and Who loves us UNCONDITIONALLY?

Imagine eating something that tastes as delicious as YOUR favorite dessert, candy, chocolate snacks or wine forever; with a vitalized tongue that tastes even more of the sweet goodness?! And think of the weight you won’t gain or have to lose, regardless!! Ha-Ha! Heaven!! This is the way we are supposed to be reading the scriptures in the Light of Jesus Christ (Luke 24:41-43).

So enjoy the foretaste, literally!

The Baltimore congregation and I did as we feasted on those many international dishes! Boy do I look forward to “eating to bursting” WITHOUT BURSTING in my forever resurrected and incorruptible human being! Good Gravy – for REAL! Thank you Jesus – I, for one, LOVE IT!!

~ by Timothy Brassell

More Mythologies to Save the Bible From

My last post on this topic was fun, so I want to play some more in that sandbox today.  Here are some more Bible words to which I have historically attributed mythical definitions:

1.    Kingdom.  As Brother Boyd commented on this blog last week, the kingdom is very much a PRESENT reality (albeit one with an important future component).  Dallas Willard defines a kingdom as “the range of a king’s effective will.”  When Papa’s will is done on earth as in heaven, his kingdom is functioning there.  And speaking of heaven…

2.    Heaven.  Dallas Willard and N.T. Wright have taught me the biblical concept of heaven as the earth’s control room, the driver’s seat of the cosmos, the space-time of humanity’s interaction with the Triune God.  My science-fiction-soaked brain tends to envision heaven as a kind of parallel dimension, infinitely close to every place of earthly space-time, but invisible because we are slightly out-of-phase with it. A careful theological imagination like this can help us think outside old wineskins.

3.    Judgment.  At its most basic level, to judge is simply to discern good from bad.  As a child of God who now lives under the constant harassment of my own badness, I rejoice in being judged.  It is a good thing for Jesus to name, condemn, and destroy the darkness that lives in me.  It is painful, to be sure, to separate good from bad, true from false.  Anyone who’s ever said “I’m an alcoholic” knows the terror of being discerned/judged truthfully.  But the truth sets us free.  Jesus saves us by judging us.  An interesting Bible study: Look at all the NT references to ‘judgment’ and see if we are judged by grace or by works.

4.    Eternal Punishment.  During exile, some Jews adopted pieces of Zoroastrian philosophy (The Babylonians were called Farsi’s, and these Jews who copied them came to be called Pharisees).  This philosophy placed strong emphasis on “endless torture” (aidios timoria) of the wicked.  Over and against this view, Jesus spoke often of aionian kolasin, an “eon of discipline” (Notice the word “eon” in the Greek aionian), though it is usually translated “eternal punishment.”  This eon will last as long as I refuse the discipline, forever if I choose, but my Papa will never give up on me.  “Eternal punishment” is good news, not bad.

5.    Hell/Gnashing-of-Teeth.  N.T. Wright has convinced me that much of Jesus’ teaching is preoccupied with the imminent (“in this generation”) destruction of Jerusalem, as a consequence of its rejection of the Messiah.  The city would become an extension of its own flaming garbage dump, Gehenna.  And it really happened within a generation, in 70AD.  Read the judgment parables in this light, and they make a LOT more sense.

6.    Coming.  Jesus spoke constantly about “the coming of the Son of Man,” a reference to the prophecy in Daniel about a human being ‘coming on the clouds’ to sit at the right hand of the Ancient of Days.  Notice that this is a movement from earth to heaven, rather than the other way around as we usually think about Christ’s “Coming.”  Jesus’ coming/ascension to the throne means the destruction of his enemies, including the corrupt Temple system and every other power in history that has ever set itself against Him.  The New Testament does clearly teach about a future Glorious Appearing of earth’s King and everything that happens as a result, but Jesus’ own teachings were focused primarily on a different topic.  For more on this, I recommend N.T. Wright’s SURPRISED BY HOPE or Hank Hanegraaff’s APOCALYPSE CODE.

~ John Stonecypher


Here’s an encouraging thought: because of Jesus you will live forever. St. Paul says:

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. ~ 1 Cor. 15:22

So, it’s not that we won’t die – we will, because of Adam. What’s encouraging is that – like Jesus – we won’t stay dead. When the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, became human he changed what it means to be human. Adam is not the definition of what human beings are, Jesus is the definition. And Jesus lives forever.

I suppose eternal life might seem encouraging if you’re happy and frightening if you’re not happy.

The question is, why aren’t you happy? If you’re not happy because you’re sick, or homeless, or being tortured for being a Christian, then the good news is that eternal life in the resurrection of Jesus won’t include these pains. So, it should be very encouraging to us in the midst of such suffering to know that our problems won’t last forever but we will.

If you’re not happy because you hate people, or are greedily trying to get more bling, or think the world is out to get you, then the prospect of eternal life doesn’t seem too appealing. That’s the downside, you might say. Jesus isn’t interested in controlling your mind. So you could use the freedom he’s given you to be miserable in the eternal life that Jesus is sharing with you.

And yet, as with everything in the life of the Trinity, there’s a silver lining to that cloud too.

You might be miserable but as long as you’re alive there’s always hope: there’s always hope that you’ll stop hating people and be content with the bling you’ve been given. And since Jesus has made sure that you’ll always be alive then there’s always hope.

So I stand by my original statement: even if we’re unhappy right now it is still encouraging to know that, because of Jesus, we will live forever.

~ Jonathan Stepp

He Descended into Hell

If you want some truly awful theology mixed in with some great theology that’s included by accident, a good place to start would be the 1998 film WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, starring Robin Williams.

Williams’ character (Chris) dies and goes to heaven, where everything he imagines becomes reality (which happens to be C.S. Lewis’ vision of hell in THE GREAT DIVORCE.  Go figure).  The strange thing is that God is conspicuously absent.  Inquiring about this, Chris is informed: “I guess God is still up there somewhere, wondering why we can’t hear him telling us how much he loves us.”

Meanwhile, Chris’s wife (Marie), distraught over her husband’s death, kills herself and goes to hell.  Apparently this is fine with with God and the rest of heaven’s blissed-out population.  But Chris does what love does: He mounts a rescue mission.  He escapes heaven and illegally immigrates into hell, braving its terrors to find his beloved and bring her home.

The theistic ‘god’ of the film is pathetic and useless.

He’s a perfect illustration of why I rejected theism and became a hardcore Trinitarian instead.

The only place in this film where we see the passion of the Trinity is in Chris.  Being without her is not an option.  Nothing will stop him from finding her.  Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no hell deep enough.  This is love, and it is beautiful. This is a Good Friday movie.

Today our Beloved shows us how far he has gone to find us.

We were dead in our transgressions, so he entered into death to find us, to be there with us in our agony and darkness, and to set us free.  It’s the simplest and best love story there is.

~ by John Stonecypher


No matter where you go

I will find you

If it takes a thousand years


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