Archive for the ‘By Bill Winn’ Category

How God As Trinity Defines All

So what does all mean when we read the word all in the Bible as it relates to salvation? This is a question with which I wrestled for a long time in 2006. I literally spent months reading, praying, and seeking advice from more learned people than me to try and understand what the Bible means when it says things like, “…for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.”?

In the past I had great difficulty with these passages. Confession time… there was a part of me that still functioned out of a sense of wanting to belong to an elite group. I wanted to be in the clique. I wanted to feel superior to others… special perhaps. Well I was right and wrong at the same time. More on that later.

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                   Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office Clip Art

So what about all? How do the Father, Son, and Spirit define all in the Bible? Well a fellow pastor in North Carolina named Rick Stillwell once told me that, “All means all, and that’s all that all means!” But is he right? Yup! I believe he is just based on what the Book says.

Jesus said that it was the will of the Father that not one would remain lost. Jesus said that when he was lifted up from the earth he would draw all of humankind to himself. Paul wrote to Timothy that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all and he told the church at Colossae that Jesus had reconciled all things to the Father through the blood of his cross. Again in I Corinthians 15 Paul says that in Adam all die, so all will be made alive in Christ. Acts 17 tells us that Jesus gives life and breath and all things to all mortals. These are just a few examples.

But does all really mean all? Well let’s just ask a couple of questions?

Based on what we read in Romans 3:23… who has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? Answer: All! According to John the Beloved Disciple how many things were created by Jesus? The answer to both is a resounding all.

You see, if we accept the notion that all really doesn’t mean all, in our view of salvation, then we must accept that some people have not sinned, fallen short of the glory of God, and never needed a Savior.

If we accept that all really doesn’t mean all, in our view of salvation, then we must accept that there are some things in the Universe that came into being apart from the creative genius of God the Trinity.

The mission of the Church is not to get people in (although we may sometimes think it is) the mission of the Church is to declare that All means all… and that’s all that all means- and then teach people what it means to already be a child of the Father, through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit.

Bless you all, ~Bill Winn

I need air!

We seem more and more divided in the United States of America and in much of the world. We tend to identify as this religion or that religion, as this group or that group, or even as this color or that color. Growing up in rural eastern North Carolina the group I most identified with was Southern. I was proud to be a Southerner. I was proud of our Southern charm and good manners. I loved how we pulled over and stopped the car when a funeral passed us on the road. I loved standing up when a lady entered the room or giving up my chair to a lady when seating was limited. As a young adult I traveled from N.C. to Texas, to Washington state, and Montana. Each place I lived brought new joys of meeting people and seeing their delight at the charm, colloquialisms, and good manners that I had learned in the South. But… I was wrong and did not know it. I was right to be proud of all of those things… don’t get me wrong, but my identity is not in being born a Southerner. My identity was, and is, in Jesus.

Recently the Black Lives Matter movement has thrust into our national conversation issues that we can no longer ignore. It is incumbent upon us in all walks to engage and seek the honest truth whether it pleases us to hear it or not. A couple of months ago I finally realized the proper way to even say “Black Lives Matter”. Our tendency is to allow the national media to tell us what to think and by cherry-picking what we are allowed to see on television it is not a difficult task for them to manipulate the American public. We are led to believe that the emphasis is on the word Black… this is why some well-meaning folks have said, “All lives matter”. It is true that all lives matter and that statement is valid in certain contexts.  Imagine 12 people sitting around a table and one person has a plastic bag over their head with their hands tied behind their back… now imagine that person manages

Hands

Union

to eek out the words, “I need air!” and the other 11 say, “Yeah, we all need air.” The true emphasis in saying “Black Lives Matter” is on the word Matter. Think of it in short form as “Black Lives Matter Too!” Or “Hey, have we in America forgotten that black lives do matter?”

As necessary as this conversation is, and I would submit that it is crucial, we must also never forget who we truly are. Dr. Jeff McSwain wrote our Generations Ministries Summer Camp curriculum this year and on the T-shirts that were given to the campers is the axiom, “You don’t know who you are until you know whose you are.” You see I am not a Southerner, I am not white, I am not a male, I am not a son, father, husband, or pastor- not in the first instance. In the first instance I am a child of the Father.

I am trying to understand, I am not trying to judge, I am trying to love, I am not trying to exclude, I am trying to empathize, I am not trying to pigeon-hole others into some collective which I can dismiss. We are individuals with personhood and distinction… yes we are all in union with the Father, Son, and Spirit, but we never lose our personhood and distinction. Evil tries to label us and press us into collectivism… it is a trap, it divides, and leads to hatred and fear.

Imagine a world where we all knew that we belonged to the Father, Son, and Spirit and that we are indeed all brothers and sisters because of the finished work of Jesus… what would that look like? Would we mistreat others so readily if we saw them as they truly are… fellow children of the Father?… I think not… I hope not. In Jesus all of humanity is in union with the Triune God of Love! Therefor, it follows that we are all in union with one another. Let us then love fully as the distinct persons in Christ that we are.

I am distinct in the Cosmos, in union with the blessed Trinity and in union with all of you. LOVE!

~Bill Winn

I’m Always In the Way

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Happy Father’s Day Dad! I love you!

Ever since I was a little boy I have been in the way.I was always in the way. Even when it did not feel like it, I was in the way. I was in the way even when I didn’t know it. When I was a teenager I never ceased to be in the way. As a husband I’m constantly in the way. As a father, pastor, son, brother, and friend… I’m in the way. When I was an unbeliever I was in the way. As a believing Christian I’m in the way. In fact, I believe that from before the foundations of the world were laid… I have been in the way. I will always, for eternity, be IN the Way! And you too! (John 14:6 & 20, Acts 17:28) ~Bill Winn

Can I Just Sin All I want?

 

Shortly after I was confronted with Trinitarian thought in 2006 (thanks to my good friend Timothy J. Brassell) I began to wrestle with many issues peripheral to the Gospel. One question that came up over and over was, “Well, If I am saved in Jesus and always will be, why can’t I just sin all I want? God will still love me right?”

Well yes of course, if you sin all you want God will still love you and (here’s the kicker) he will still like you too! But it doesn’t mean we should just sin all we want. In fact Paul’s answer to this question in Romans 6:1-2 is “certainly not!”

Let me explain by using one particular behavior that drives me nuts.pinocchio

It seems that in today’s heated political climate the practice of slandering and denigrating others has been taken to new lows. Every day we hear about some politician who said this about some other politician and then in turn that politician retorts with an equally derogatory statement.

Well what is “Bearing False Witness”? Simply put it is just that, telling a tale about another that is untrue. It isn’t just your basic lie or fairy tale; it is much more mean-spirited than that.

An example of telling a lie would be me telling you that I once caught a ten-pound Largemouth bass- no wait… that one is true. Let’s make it a 30-pound Largemouth bass… that would definitely be a lie.

An example of bearing false witness would be to intentionally, for some nefarious reason, make an accusation against another that is untrue. At its core, bearing false witness has the intention to do harm.

So what’s the big deal? Why not bear false witness and get ahead as a result? Why not spread rumors and make false claims against someone in the office in order to get that promotion instead of them?

Well here’s why.

The Father, Son, and Spirit have created us to share in their very life of love and community. Participating in the Triune Life of God is the specific and foremost reason you and I were created.

So when we read of some behavior that the Lord tells us to avoid, it is always because that behavior is eternally absent from the Godhead. There is never a time when Jesus bears false witness against the Father or the Spirit. The Spirit always bears truth about the Father/ Son relationship in the Life of the Trinity. Likewise there is never any betrayal, stealing, gossiping, cheating, etc…

Do you see? We are created for… and to share the very life of God!

So instead of asking “Why can’t I just sin all I want?” My question gradually became, “Why on earth do I want to sin at all?” And with this new question came a prayer: “Lord please help me remember who I am, whose I am, and teach me how to participate more fully in your divine Life of Love.”

~Bill Winn

When Small(s) is Huge!

It’s exciting to see the redemptive genius of the Father, Son, and Spirit in our daily lives and it is equally, if not more exciting to peer into human history and see them at work in the lives of extraordinary individuals whose participation in the Shared Life of the Father, Son, and Spirit literally helps change the world.
Robert Smalls is one who stands out!
Robert was born into slavery 5 April, 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina. When he was a young man he was hired out to work in Charleston for the city and the wharf. He loved the sea and working hard, he rose from the lowly position of sail mender and rigger to pilot. As a “wheelman” on small vessels, Robert learned the Charleston Harbor quite well. He navigated the Charleston Harbor and surrounding waterways well enough to have complete control over the navigation of a ship. A skill that would serve him well later in life. At the age of 17 Robert fell in love with Hannah Jones and married her. Together they would raise two children after enduring the unspeakable tragedy of their son dying at age two.
During the American Civil War Smalls was forced to pilot the vessel, CSS Planter, for the Confederate Navy out of Charleston Harbor- a decision that would prove strategically unwise for the Confederacy.

Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls (Image used under Section 107 (Fair Use) Copyright Act 1976

On May 12, 1862 Smalls and a few other slaves aboard the Planter executed a long-planned escape. They waited for the officers and other crewmen to take their leave ashore and quietly sailed out of the harbor. They used the Confederate Navy’s codebook to signal the fortifications they passed (including the infamous Fort Sumter) so that no one would be wise to their escape.
A man of integrity Smalls would not escape alone… he and his band of courageous freedom-fighters stopped at a pre-planned dock to pick his family and the families of the crewmen who were also escaping the oppression of slavery.
After securing their families on board Robert Smalls and his crewmen hoisted the white flag of surrender and sailed to the Union Fleet.
Upon surrendering the Confederate Vessel Smalls hoisted to the mast an American flag and delivered to the Union Navy the ship, its canons, and the most valuable prize- the Confederate Navy’s code book that the Union would later use to intercept and defeat Confederate Naval vessels.
The courage and fortitude to execute such a daring plan, risking life and limb for the cause of freedom has only one source… this sort of other-centered bravery and strength is found only in the life of the Triune God.
Robert Smalls went on to great fame as a member of the Union Navy and after the war achieved the rank of Major General in the South Carolina Militia.
After the Civil War Smalls moved back home to Beaufort, S.C. and purchased his former master’s home and cared for his master’s wife in the home through her elder years until her death.
Smalls went on to become a South Carolina State Congressman and a State Senator then in 1874 he was elected, on the Republican ticket, to the United States Congress. He helped pass civil rights legislation and the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
His home in Beaufort, S.C. is now a National Historical Monument. A Godly and patriotic American, Robert Smalls, gives us all inspiration to reach above our station, to dream despite our situation, and to act with courage and conviction to right the world around us in whatever way we might.
It is not enough for the Father, Son, and Spirit to accomplish their mission alone. Jesus did not convert water to wine alone… the servants were invited to participate. The Lord did not raise the daughter of the High Priest in solitude… he allowed Peter, James, and John to see and experience his miracle. Even so the Triune God would not overcome the inhumanity of slavery without the extraordinary men and women like Robert Smalls.
Today you may feel insignificant. You may feel like the troubles of the world around you are too large for you to make a difference. It is my prayer that in the face of such giants you would feel Small(s)!

 

 

 

 

~Bill Winn

Planning

What a year this has been! Where have we gone right as individuals and where have we gone wrong? What did I accomplish last year? What do I want to accomplish this year? These are some of the questions we often ask ourselves around the turn of the New Year. Planning is an important part of life. It is something that we must do in order to meet goals that we desire and to be prepared for milestones and events in life that are inevitable.

For instance, we may plan and prepare for the goal of graduating from high school or college by increasing the amount of time we devote to our studies and carefully choosing which classes to take.

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Retirement goal of the author

We might plan and prepare for marriage by paying off debt, reading books on the subject, and counseling with a person competent and experienced in the subject.

Planning for retirement is important for all but more so as we draw closer to the age when we will desire to quit working full time and just spend our days out in the blacksmith’s forge sweating over a 2800-degree fire and anvil. (well at least that’s the plan for some)

What we usually hear from preachers about planning and the eventuality of each of our deaths is the question, “Have you planned for your eternity?” Generally, the message centers around whether or not we have accepted Jesus, prayed some prayer to invite Jesus into our lives, or confessing to God how utterly worthless are we and begging for acceptance.

Recently my buddy, Lee, was at a worship night where the theme seemed to be how unworthy and undeserving of God’s love we are and yet how good God is because he loves us anyway. What a crock! Hidden inside such statements about God loving us in spite of our unreservedness is the confession that God’s love must be earned or deserved. Any affection that must be earned or deserved is a very shallow affection indeed. The Father’s love is not shallow but unfathomably deep and his heart is unflinching.

Just who do we think invented planning anyway? Yep, Paul the Apostle says that before the beginning of anything Trinity’s plan was to have you in relationship with them! (Eph. 1:3-6)

You are worthy of God’s love!! You were declared worthy of the Father, Son, and Spirit’s unconditional affection and adoration from the very beginning. We hear the exclamation of the Trinity’s approval of humanity, in the Word of God at Creation. “Let us make humankind in our image.” You and I were made in the very Image of God!! What greater value and worth is there than to be created in the image of God??

You see, your value and your worth was set in eternity at Creation, your secure place in the very life and existence of the Triune God was determined before the foundations of the world, and sealed forever in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

Planning… yeah… better get started if you haven’t already but just leave the eternal life stuff to Jesus. He is no procrastinator- he took care of your eternal security before there was time- before you were born!

You belong to the Father, Son, and Spirit. You always have. You always will. The Father loves and likes you. You are his beloved child!

From all of us at Trinity and Humanity; have a very blessed year in 2016 and may you come to know as you are known by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

~Bill Winn

The Hope of Glory

 

We huddled in a small room above a sympathetic citizen’s house. It was a tense time here in the Middle East. Christians were being rounded up and killed in horrible ways. It has been astonishing to us to witness the cruelty human beings are capable of inflicting on each other. The most glaring example is the Crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. For a moment on that rooftop, as we were being systematically hunted down and slaughtered, we felt as though we could identify with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then one of the ladies in the group made a suggestion that, at first, seemed odd and then perfectly logical and monumentally Christ-like. “Let’s pray for those who persecute us, just like Jesus taught.” She said. We dreamed aloud to each other about the potential for the spreading of the Gospel if just one of those powerful persecutors would REL_G_002come to know Jesus and follow him.

You know what… one did. One of the men we prayed for that day met Jesus in a vision and became one of the most powerful Gospel preachers of our day. He even went on to plant churches, write many letters, and died the Martyrs death innocently murdered by Nero because he was a Christian. His name… Saul of Tarsus. He goes by Paul now and he is a wonderful Christian brother.

I think it is very likely that similar situations occurred during the persecution of the Early Church. It should be very easy for us to imagine the persecuted Christians of Saul’s day praying for him to meet Jesus.

Two and a half weeks ago at Richmond Grace I gave a message on the first Sunday of Advent called Hope Sunday about this very topic. It was before San Bernardino but just after the Paris attacks. The message, for me, was difficult to craft as my anger over the senseless taking of human life was very real. In my study I did my best to develop a message around hope but the world around me seemed awfully hopeless. In prayer I was reminded of Colossians 1:27 where the former Saul of Tarsus wrote that Christ in us was the hope of glory. Jesus in us is our hope.  The Father, Son, and Spirit has included Humanity in the life of love they have shared for eternity and it is true for terrorists whether they choose to participate in it or not.

Maybe we should pray for these Terrorists. I don’t mean pray that the bombs that are dropping around them will find their mark. In fact, at Richmond Grace on Hope Sunday we passed out a list of some of the top terrorist leaders around the world so that our members could pray for them specifically and by name.

What I am offering is the following suggestion: What if one of the men on this list is the next Saul of Tarsus? What if one of these terrorists met Jesus in a vision? (the most common way Muslims in Muslim countries are coming to belief in Jesus) What if one of the men on that list became a powerful voice for the Gospel of Peace… the Gospel of Jesus Christ who is the Savior of the World! That indeed would be something worthy of a place in our prayer lives.

So will you join us at Richmond Grace Fellowship and pray for the men on this list? It could just change everything!      ~Bill Winn

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Current “caliphate” and leader of ISIS

Omar al-Shishani
Top level ISIS military commander

Ayman al-Zawahiri
Leader of al Qaeda

Ibrahim al-Asiri
Top level bomb maker for al-Qaeda

Qasim al-Raymi.
Top level al-Qaeda leader in Saudi peninsula

Sirajuddin Haqqani
Operational leader of Haqqani Network, the deadliest insurgent group in Afghanistan

Abubakar Shekau
Leader of Boko Haram, Nigerian insurgent group who has pledged allegiance to ISIS

 

The Father Loves and Likes You Fest 2015

The Fathers Heart 1

NEW LIFE FELLOWSHIP  OCEAN CITY 2015 GOOD NEWS FESTIVAL GOSPEL MESSAGES:

                                                                                                                      FRIDAY SESSIONS – October 23, 2015

 

 SATURDAY SESSIONS
Pastor Calvin Simon
“The Father the Child ( Jesus) Always Wanted” 1 John 3: 1
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Pastor Bill Winn
“As Jesus Is, So Are We In This World.” 1 John 1: 17
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                SUNDAY SESSIONS
Jeff McSwain
“The Spirit Of Truth Of Truth vs The Spirit Of Falsehood” 1 john 1: 5
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Pastor Timothy Brassell
“The Gospel Is Fun, But It Is Not A Game” 1 John 1-5
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Mako Nagasawa
Interactive Breakout Session: “Practical Ways To Live Out The Gospel”

You and Time

Have you ever thought much at all about what we call Eternal Life? Do you really want to live forever? I was once asked whether I wanted to live forever by a well-meaning street evangelist. I replied, “Depends on what the life will be like.” That is a factor to consider is it not. I think most of us would answer, “Yes,” when asked the same question assuming that our eternal existence will be a happy and pleasant one.

But have you ever considered how this is possible? In his book, Space, Time, and Resurrection, T. F. Torrance reminds us that time is in creation… creation is not in time. In other words, time is a created thing and the Father, Son, and Spirit are not limited to nor confined to time. We often hear rightly that God is outside of time. That is true but we must also keep in mind that He has also entered into our space and time in the person of Jesus Christ.Time

Therefore, that brings me to the main and final point. In the Incarnation, humanity has been brought into full and objective union with the Triune God of Grace in Jesus. Jesus became a human just like us! Therefore, if God, who is outside of space and time, truly entered into the contingent world of creaturely being as a human, then necessarily all of humanity is taken up into his unbounded freedom from limitation in space and time.

You see, you and I will live forever, not because something magical will be done to make our bodies immune to disease, resistant to aging and wear and tear.

We will live forever because we have been brought into permanent and full union with He who is outside of time. There is no time for us now. Sure, the overlap between our present selves and our glorified selves needs time to function and relate to the world around us but someday time will be but a memory.

Here’s to living forever and getting to know each of you in eternity!

~Bill

OUCH!

A couple of years ago I built a forge in our back yard. I wanted to have a shelter over the area where I do my blacksmithing and I really wanted to do most of the work by hand… the way things were done in the 18th and 19th centuries. So I chopped down a tree in my yard and set out with a broad axe and an adze to hew two large beams to be the main supports for my shelter. The beams were 18 feet long 5 inches wide and 10 inches tall. It was a lot of work.Forge T and H

During the course of chopping out the beams, I injured myself a bit. I felt a slight discomfort in my right knee and thought little of it. A few days later, I knelt down and was nearly unable to get up. The pain was intense and I wound up seeing a doctor about it only to find out that I had injured something called the iliotibial band. It is just a ligament or something that passes over the knee. Had I not discovered the extent of the injury and followed a physical therapy regimen right away the injury could have become more severe and maybe even permanent.

Kneeling down days after the injury aggravated my wound and sent a very powerful message to my brain, “Something is wrong… something is wounded.” You see poking the wound let me know that there was a need for healing.

Well a good friend of mine recently had a similar experience. He was hanging out with a group friends and people he generally admired. During the course of the day someone said something that was quite innocent but it caused him great emotional pain. He was hurt and a bit angry. After talking it over with one of his buddies, he decided to go talk to the offending person about the incident.

The person who had offended him was older and wiser so my friend’s expectations that the conversation would go well were fairly high. After hearing him out the older wiser man said, “I poked a wound didn’t I?” My friend was a little surprised and what followed was an apology and a lengthy discussion of the deeper issue and what might be necessary for healing. It was beautiful!

Hebrews 12:15 tells us to avoid the bitter roots that can grow deep and cause us years and maybe even a lifetime of pain. When a tree is but a seedling, it is easy to pluck it from the ground. Once the tree is left to grow for only a year or two, more effort will be required to remove it. If we let the tree grow for decades, professional help may be required to extract the tree that has now put down roots dozens of feet deep into the ground.

Our souls are much like this. Some things we want to grow deep such as the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ or the love in our marriages and families. Bitter roots can only do great harm and must be plucked as soon as we are aware of them. You see the Father, Son, and Spirit want so much more for us than to be hobbled by bitter-root wounds and pain.

So if someone inadvertently touches a wound in you I sincerely hope there will be a person there to help you see that this is not always a bad thing. Sometimes Holy Spirit will send someone to poke our wounds to remind us that they are still there and need the gentle healing that only the Father, Son, and Spirit can give.

~Bill Winn

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