Archive for the ‘Lent’ 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!

 

photo compliments http://www.davisvanguard.org

 

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

balitmore

https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/15-05-04-why-jesus-church-fellowships-more-and-more-pt-4-hebrews-10-tah.mp3

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! 🙂

Photos compliments: http://www.telesurftv.net, http://www.whnt.com

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

fellowship

 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

fellowship

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!

Why Jesus’ Church Fellowships More And More! pt.1

fellowship

(We had a few audio problems while recording this message and apologize, but it is still in good enough shape to hear!)

https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/15-03-08-why-jesus-church-fellowships-more-and-more-pt-1-heb-10-tah.mp3

In this season of Lent, Pastor Timothy Brassell of  New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Proclaims the GOOD NEWS of The God Revealed in Jesus Christ through his message entitled “Why Jesus’s Church Fellowships MORE And MORE!” pt.1. He explores Hebrews 10: 19-39 , posing the question to the congregation: “How can this Lenten Season perspective be VERY helpful to us as we hear about the subject of Fellowship?” He shows that God has shared HIS fellowship with US, through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. So God is a Union and Communion of persons TOGETHER, and that must be who and what His Church is like!

Hear in this message:

  • YOU are who YOU are in JESUS CHRIST and NOT what others say about you OR what you have!
  • What the fundamental cause of our transgressions against each other is!
  • Why Prayer and Scripture reading is vitally important!
  • Why we MUST begin with JESUS CHRIST and not any other or anything else!

Listen to this interactive message, as Pastor Tim poses these questions to the congregation:

  • What are the reasons you been told as to why you need to attend Church?
  • Why is meeting together important and encouraged MORE AND MORE?

Lent: Giving Up What Doesn’t Serve

Letting Go of what doesn't serve We are in the special liturgical season of Lent now, and for many people, it is a time of giving something up. That may mean giving up a habit one wishes to break, ranging from swearing to promiscuity to eating sweets, or it can mean sacrificing for forty days something one likes very much, like listening to an iPod or eating meat on Fridays. Some believers even go to extremes, inflicting pain on themselves to prove their devotion to Christ.

I’ve heard a number of explanations about how the attitude of sacrifice can benefit us. Some say each time we want to eat meat on a Friday or listen to our iPod, it is a reminder of the pain of Christ’s sacrifice. Others look at the period of Lent as extra fuel to help us break the hold that sin has on us, particularly in the form of bad habits. But what if Lent was more?

I’ve been thinking about the Lenten season differently this year after I saw a Facebook friend comment that his family was giving up “smallness of vision.” This could be interpreted a number of ways, but to me, this means giving up what doesn’t serve or what no longer fits my life. Some aspects of life that no longer serve me include:

  • giving up a narrow definition of God and instead, embracing the Mystery that seems to seek me out in the most unusual and unexpected places.
  • letting go of fear and uncertainty and instead, acknowledging that One greater than me has my back.
  • sacrificing cynicism and distrust and instead, seeing the living Christ in everyone.
  • surrendering the need to judge and instead, accepting that diversity with unity is possible, even preferable.
  • forfeiting views of ministry that seem to be focused on results more than people and instead, ministering with God to those who are part of my daily life and work.

By looking at the ways I’ve made myself, my life, or my God too small, I can let go and broaden my vision. This Lenten sacrifice will do more than help me lose weight or break a bad habit. Giving up that which no longer serves me enlarges my worldview and transforms my response to the Father, Son, and Spirit. By letting go of “smallness of vision,” I can see more clearly the work of the Triune God in my life and in the world, and I’m inspired and energized to be a part of it.

~by Nan Kuhlman

 

See!

single blossomFrom the Epistle reading for Ash Wednesday: See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!

This is our biggest problem. We just don’t see. Of course God is invisible – but that’s not the kind of seeing that St. Paul is talking about. He is talking about the kind of seeing that means perception, understanding, and insight into the world as it really is. With this spiritual sight we are able to perceive that God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. With this spiritual sight we are able to know that Christ became sin and therefore we have become the righteousness of God.

Seeing that today is the day of salvation means that we are able to perceive our spouses, our children, our friends – and even our enemies – as they really are: beloved of the Father, reconciled in Christ, and expressing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. And we are able to perceive ourselves as we really are: beloved, reconciled, and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

St. Paul seems to cry out in the Spirit to us: See! Open your eyes! Look around you and know that God is at work in every nook and cranny of life. His cry is the cry of Lent: the call to awaken out of our winter slumber, to open our eyes to the spring of Easter Day, and to see – to really see, and know, and understand – that God has not abandoned us. In Christ he has saved us from fear and blindness and death.

Adoption and Spiritual Formation

I really appreciated John’s post on Wednesday about narrative spiritual formation. I think he is right about the way the story of Jesus is told in the Christian calendar and how that annual journey through the story shapes our lives.

Spiritual formation is the theme of Lent and, for those of our readers who don’t follow The Surprising God blog too closely, I want to draw your attention to a great link on spiritual formation that Ted  Johnston posted there last Tuesday.

The link is to an article by Julie Canlis called Calvin’s Institutes: A Primer for Spiritual Formation. Ted’s posting prompted several comments from different readers, including me, and I’d be very interested to hear comments from you guys about what you think of the article.

If you’re like me you usually think of Calvin in terms of dogmatic theology, not spiritual formation. What is remarkable about Julie’s short article is that she shows how Calvin, as a pastor, was deeply concerned about spiritual formation and rooted his thinking on the subject in the Trinity and in Adoption. That’s right – adoption! In fact, Julie makes this soul-thrilling statement:

Calvin jumps headlong into this world of God’s love, and our being caught up in it, by use of one word: adoption. Although he is best known for his formulation of justification, I believe his insistence upon “adoption” best captures the big picture of his theology. Historically, justification has been used in a limited way, primarily having to do with the event of Christ on the cross. By use of the word adoption, Calvin can communicate not only the miracle of our justification but also that for which we have been saved. Spiritual formation begins with this question: for what (and for whom) have we been saved? And Calvin is quite explicit that we have been saved not only from sin but also for a life of trust, joy, and intimacy as God’s own children. What is more, Calvin takes his cues for this life on earth from the hypostatic union: Jesus’ own intimacy with God, by the Spirit. The remarkable thing is that Calvin sees Jesus’ sonship—his life of intimacy with his Father—as being offered to us through the Spirit. It is not a nice “picture” for us to strive after. Instead, it is the reality into which we, unsuspecting, have been inserted. [emphasis is mine]

As you might guess, I am planning to go read a lot more of Calvin in the coming weeks. I do have one reservation though: Julie never makes it clear whether she believes that all humanity has been inserted “unsuspecting” into the Father/Son relationship (as I think) or whether it is only an elect portion of humanity that has been inserted. My guess – and this is really just a guess – is that she thinks it is only the elect, and I believe this is what Calvin thought as well. My guess is that Augustine still rules the roost on these subjects!

But even if that is so, I am still thrilled to see someone talking about Adoption and Spiritual Formation together. I’ll be interested to hear what you guys think.

~ Jonathan Stepp

Lower Your Expectations (At Least Temporarily!)

I have not experienced as much stress in the last 12 years or so as I have over the past nine months and, believe me, it hasn’t all been fun! Among other things I had to move from one home to another in a short period of time. During that time the renter from the only home we own didn’t pay rent for almost 3 months in a row (and that rent covers a mortgage payment that doesn’t include the other mortgage payment plus our having to pay rent!)

Because of the current circumstances under which we are renting a home we have to prepare for the possibility of moving again in the next few months (my wife and school age children are thrilled! NOT!) On top of that the school where my church rents space took our rent up more than 300% without warning and added almost $2000 dollars to our rent payment! That literally stole all the reserves of our little congregation and put me at risk of having to have my salary lowered (right after getting my first raise in almost 10 years!) We actually had to stop meeting for two weeks to save paying an exorbitant rent and stay solvent! This all happened as my oldest daughter is beginning her first year of college during her last year of high school, which means more money is needed sooner than expected (and ironically because our daughter is the great student we always dreamed of and wanted her to be!)

This year began with my officiating and participating in four funerals in 6 weeks, with two of them involving family and unexpected trips from 12 – 16 hours. I am even purposefully not mentioning a few more things because of diplomacy and tact (among other things!), and because I’ve mentioned enough for you to get the picture as to what I mean by stresses in life, while realizing you have them too!. Talk about instability and chaos around us at every turn!

Of course, in the grace of the Triune God, and His unending and passionate pleasure to remind me at every turn that I, too, am the son the Father’s always wanted and has included in Jesus Christ, He has been fulfilling the promise of “daily bread” in the Spirit, and I am surviving and even thriving in certain ways, as I am sure you are! Thank You Trinity!

But as I have prayed and fasted in my closeness with the Father, and inquired with Him in prayer as to how I might participate with Jesus in these circumstances, one of the responses he has given me, repeatedly, I believe, is to:

Lower your expectations (and stress!), at least temporarily, Tim, by remembering that YOU live in this “present, evil age”! HaHa!

To tell you the truth, this realization has not only been an answer to my prayers, it has also relieved my stresses and has had me exploding with laughter! I’ve been experiencing laughter in ways that is doing me good like a medicine! And all because I realize I have been taking myself and the world a little too seriously!

Think about it! What right do I have to expect that in a “present, evil age” (or an age where the Triune God is present, but present in the darkness and alienation of the world!), everything will go and be right??? Isn’t that “crazy” to think that? In a present and evil age I should expect evil, opposition, adversarial situations, and for most things to go wrong and have terrible, unexplained glitches – MANY glitches! Expecting most things to go right in this “present, evil age” where the the “prince of darkness” still roams and where the Second Coming of Jesus in His glorified humanity has not yet happened is like expecting things to go well for chickens when a hungry fox marches into the hen house hungry for chicken! Seriously, Tim! 🙂

And, not only do we live in the present state of a system and world still shrouded in a blindness (in which the Light does shine!), but I live here, and YOU live here! Ha-Ha! Dare I say it and be plain??? Okay, scripture first and then me:

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. ~ 1 Cor. 1:26-29

If I’m being truly serious in my participation with Jesus in his believing, I must accept not only my Adoption and Distinct status of being Famous and Well Loved of the Father in Jesus, but I must accept, too, that to be called to embrace that truth is to recognize, on the other hand, my foolishness, weakness, lowness and despicability in this “present, evil age” so that none might boast (me, and the world who is reduced to nothing through me! Ha!) How can I possibly expect to be considered a person the world demeans and not expect demeaning treatment? That’s silly and absurd! Part of my stress and trouble is simply in having too high of an expectation of a “low down” world! How about you? Laughable, isn’t it?! Ha-ha!

Thank God that the Real Stress Relief for me, you, and the world in our blindness, is mentioned in the verses immediately following, in the scripture noted above:

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” ~ 1 Cor. 1:30

~ Timothy Brassell

On Submission

It’s surprising how much good theology you can learn from an atheist.

Case in point: My friend Phil (not his real name), a recovering addict who struggles with Step 2 and 3 of the Twelve Steps:  Believing “that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” and making “a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.”  What’s a good atheist to do?  I asked him about this, and he replied:

“My higher power is my recovery group.  I can’t trust my own judgment when it comes to my addiction, so I trust the judgment of my group.  Christians say ‘What would Jesus do?’  I say ‘What would my group want me to do?’   If my groups says No, then I don’t do it.  They haven’t steered me wrong yet.”

While I would love to see Phil get to know the One True Power who is there for him, I am still happy about this step he’s taken.

He’s stumbled onto a vital practice of the Adopted Life: SUBMISSION.

Submission is a lot like fasting.  When I fast, I deny myself something that I want.  When I submit, I actively seek what you want.  Father, Son, and Spirit have great fun with this.  They know submission as an adventure, not a chore.  In my experiments with this kind of life, I set aside times where I will ask my wife/kids/friends/pastors: “What can I do for you?” and then I do whatever they ask.  It’s fun.

For me, there’s also another side to submission, related to the fact that I’m wise enough to know that I’m not as wise as I think I am.

So I’m taking up the spiritual practice of disobeying myself.  So far, the results are pretty good.  I submit to Jesus and his Gospel.  And as part of that, I also submit to His Community (the church) and to His Community’s Book (the Bible).  According to Paul, our submission to Christ has everything to do with our submission to one another (Eph 5.21-24).  A life of wisdom is a life of submission (James 3.17).  If I am a fool, it is because I have grown blind to my own foolishness.  If I am to become wise, my only hope is to submit to what anothers’ eyes see.

So here I’m learning to practice submission in somewhat the same way Phil does.  I let some wise people have intimate access to my life.  When they see a problem I don’t see, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.  And when a bunch of them see the same problem, and I still don’t see it, I know there’s a good chance I’ve discovered one of my blind spots.  So if possible, I try to behave as if they are right, and then I step back to see what happens.

All I can say is this: They haven’t steered me wrong yet.

~ by John Stonecypher

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