Archive for the ‘Perichoresis’ Category

All Of God’s Human Deliverers Need Deliverance Too

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Part 1a, 24min: “https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/01-2017-01-08-all-of-gods-human-deliverers-need-deliverance-too-judges-14-16-tah-part1a1.mp3”

Part 1b, 27min:“https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/01-2017-01-08-all-of-gods-human-deliverers-need-deliverance-too-judges-14-16-tah-part1b1.mp3”

Full Message: 51min: “https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/01-2017-01-08-all-of-gods-human-deliverers-need-deliverance-too-judges-14-16-tah.mp3”

Main Passages: Judges 14:1-9 – Judges 16:4-5,15-30

Theological Theme:

God – Father, Son, and Spirit, works even through the defeats of sinful leaders to bring about His plan. [“God Loves human beings. God Loves the world. Not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility, namely, real human beings, the real world, this is for God the grounds of unfathomable love.”] – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Christ Connection:

Samson’s downfall was the result of his own disobedience, and yet God – The Father used his death to begin the deliverance of His people. Jesus’ death was the result of His perfect obedience and our disobedience. God used His death to bring deliverance “once for all” for His people. [“The bible teaches that what matters isn’t what we think is right, but what GOD says is right and what GOD does in the person of JESUS”] – TJBrassell

Missional Application:

God – The Holy Spirit, calls people who feel defeated by sin and evil to put away their sins by turning back to God for deliverance. [“There is no sin that God cannot forgive and has not forgiven in Christ! There is no end to his mercy! But today YOU can choose to TRUST GOD in CHRIST and trust him to receive and forgive ALL of your sins and you can live the kind of life that we all need to, and that is, THE LIFE OF GRACE and THE LIFE OF WORSHIP!”] – TJBrassell

Photo Courtesy: http://www.greenvillegrace.org: http://www.crossmap.com

 

BEing.

I like to play golf. I’m not very good at it. I’m fairly good at it, just not very good. My best friend is very good at it. I, however, just enjoy being outside, fellowshipping with others, and the occasional score under 90.

Last summer I began to believe that I possessed the physical, mental, and emotional abilities necessary to improve my game. One of the things I have done is take golf lessons. I have a coach named Adam who is very knowledgeable and helpful.

A few Saturdays ago, in lieu of a lesson, we went out and played a few holes together. The idea was for Adam to be able to take a look at my whole game. Instead of just working on short irons, driver, chipping, or putting he was going to evaluate a variety of my shots on every hole.

When I arrived that day on the course Adam said, “Hey do you want a lesson today or do you want to go play a few?” “No contest.”, I thought. So we headed over to the first tee. When we stepped onto the tee box Adam informed me that he was going to hit all of my shots for me. I would just stand by and watch.

Ha ha! No, that last bit isn’t true at all. Adam did not hit all my shots for me. What kind of instructor would he be if he just did it all for me? I had to participate in my learning to be

Par 3 11th

Brookwoods G.C.  Hole 11, Par 3, 173 yards. (yep… I made the birdie putt)

a golfer. While it is very exciting to see a good golfer hit the ball a foot from the cup from 180 yards away, it is even more exciting when, through hours of practice and thousands of range balls, you do it yourself. (See pic)

The Father, Son, and Spirit have included the human race in their life of love, fellowship, goodness, mercy, justice, laughter, dancing, and mutual other-centeredness and love us so much that we are called to believe and respond to that inclusion. Peter said, that because our sins have been forgiven we are called to respond.

The whole of humanity are the children of God and we are called to believe that we are the children of God and so grow into the fullness of what it means to be His children. We are called to participate, not in any way that creates our reconciliation or redemption, but we are called to participate as children of God so that (as Dr. C. Baxter Kruger says), “the way of our being aligns with the truth of our being.”

Every analogy concocted fails the greatness and profound mystery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ but in my limited capacity let me say this. Jesus is the great I AM who believes perfectly on our behalf so that in him we might have our own true personhood and distinction. This is why he sends the Spirit. We are not him and he is not us, but by the Spirit we get to participate in His humanity! We are really us! We matter and God will have us truly be his children in love, in laughter, in relationships, in giving, in sharing, in altruistic action, in faithfulness, and in every aspect of our lives!

In the very Person and Being of Jesus, your humanity is saved, adopted, included, and you are God’s beloved child. Therefor; in his grace, and by the Spirit, will you be His saved, adopted and included child, responding in relationship to Him; responding to other human beings the way he does?

~Bill Winn

A Final Word

Trinity FlameThis post will be my last for Trinity and Humanity. I’ve been writing here for 8 years, I’ve enjoyed it very much, and now it is time for something new.

I don’t yet know what that new thing will be. This blog – and its predecessor e-newsletter The Adopted Life – began as an extension of my pastoral ministry in GCI. Since my ministry in the Episcopal church began four years ago I’ve had a desire to focus my energy on writing in places and ways that will be an extension of that ministry as this one was of my ministry in GCI.

I’ve also started to wonder about blogging in general. It has certainly been a great outlet for me to form and test my thinking. And I know from the comments I’ve received that it has been helpful to others. But after years of writing I share some of the doubt implied by the Teacher who said “of making many books there is no end” (Eccl. 12:12). I sometimes wonder how much the world needs yet another blog post. For those who must write in order to think, or even to live, it doesn’t matter if the world needs another blog post – they must write anyway. For those, like me, who need to talk in order to think or live, writing is just icing on the cake.

So, I take my leave of you. I’ll still pop up in the comments section from time to time on some posts and if I do find a new place to blog I’ll send word back to all of you about where to find me.

As I close this chapter, let me take a moment to summarize what I’ve been trying to say for the last 8 years: God is loving, inclusive community as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Through the Son’s incarnation as the man Jesus, all of humanity – including you! – has been adopted into God’s life to share forever in the freedom, love, and joy that the Father, Son, and Spirit have always known. Live your life by that and don’t ever forget it.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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

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

Hate Your Family?

simon-cyreneWhoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. ~ Luke 14:26-27

Jesus says that the way to belong to a family is to hate your family and the way to enter into the life that Jesus offers is to hate life itself and to take up a cross – that is, to embrace death by execution – in order to follow Jesus. Luke has already said, back in chapter 9, that Jesus has “set his face” toward Jerusalem because the time has come for him to die. And now Jesus is telling us, his followers, we must also set our faces towards this destiny, take up our cross, and follow him.

The temptation comes now to try to wriggle out of it – does “hate” really mean “hate”? Does a cross really signify death? Is Jesus really God in the flesh speaking to us or are these perhaps merely the suggestions of a somewhat mentally unstable self-proclaimed prophet? And here’s where Luke becomes a really annoying writer. Just in case it isn’t clear, he drives the final nail in the coffin and quotes Jesus saying “none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.” Darn it! Jesus, I can hate my family, but don’t tell me I’ve got to give up my golf clubs, my car, or my playstation 4! I don’t think any of us are really in the process of giving up all our possessions.

Or are we?

In a very real and legally binding sense we are all in the process of giving up all our possessions. We are all in the process of leaving our family. We are all on a narrow road towards a narrow door – a doorway called death, through which we may pass but none may come with us and none of our possessions – not even the clothes on our back – will be coming with us.

When you think of it in this way – and this is certainly not the only way to think of what Jesus says here – but when you think of it in this way there is actually a sort of very dry humor in this gospel lesson. It’s almost as though the following conversation is taking place outside a movie theater:

A 12-year old boy walks up to the ticket window and says “What’s a ticket to Star Wars worth?” and the clerk says “about 197  million dollars, that’s what it cost them to make the movie.”

“What?! I don’t have that kind of money.”

“Oh, well, what do you have in your pockets?”

“Six dollars, a golf ball I found, and a piece of string.”

“Good news!” the clerk says “we just set the price at six dollars, one used golf ball, and a piece of string.”

What Jesus is offering us is of staggering, unbelievable value – beyond anything we could ever afford to achieve. Jesus is offering us life – and not just existence, but an actual life that is worth living, a life that fulfills the very purpose for which we were created – and even though the value of that life is beyond all measure or estimation, Jesus lists the price as exactly the one thing we that we happen to have: the price is one death, no more no less.

And in his graphic description of that death in today’s parables, Jesus is just reminding us that it’s going to happen to us whether we want it to or not. There’s no escape, there’s no dodging it, there’s no getting around it. We’re going to have to turn away from family, give up our possessions, and go to the cross of death with Jesus. The question is not “whether?” but “how?

Will the cross be forced upon us or will we take it up ourselves? Will we be dragged to Jerusalem or will we, like Jesus, set our faces toward it? Will we embrace the family of God or worship our families instead? Will we be dragged kicking and screaming into the Kingdom or will we count the cost, see the value above all else, and follow Jesus willingly into the Kingdom? Because one thing is certain: the only thing worse than crucifixion is fighting against crucifixion.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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.

humanity

                   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

Religious Animosity

St. Bartholomew displaying his flayed skin in Michelangelo's "The Last Judgment."

St. Bartholomew displaying his flayed skin in Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment.”

Yesterday was St. Bartholomew’s Day and it got me to thinking about religious animosity. Bartholomew was one of the 12 and the New Testament tells us very little about him, but ancient tradition held that he was a missionary to Armenia and suffered martyrdom there when his skin was flayed from his body. A millennium and a half later, on St. Bartholomew’s Day, 1572, Roman Catholics in Paris launched a massacre that went on throughout France for days and killed thousands of Protestants.

So, on a day remembering how religious animosity cost an Apostle his life, religious animosity cost thousands more their lives.

Trinity and Humanity is founded on the idea that God the Holy Trinity has united all of humanity to the Divine nature through the incarnation of the Son as the man Jesus. If that idea of union between divinity and humanity has any meaning it must, at least, mean this: religious animosity must end. We cannot believe in the God who has redeemed the world through Jesus Christ and at the same time hate Muslims, slander Jews, and laugh at Hindus, Wiccans, and Atheists. We cannot believe that Jesus brings humanity into God and then ignore the profound humanitarian crisis of Muslim refugees from places like Syria.

We cannot say we love Jesus and then endorse actions that express hatred for our Muslims brothers. If we are all included in what Jesus is doing then there is no place for animosity against, persecution of, or even neglect of those with whom we disagree theologically.

By his martyrdom St. Bartholomew points us to the reconciling cross of Christ and calls us to begin living the Kingdom now – a Kingdom where our natural tribalism around our belief systems is washed away by the love of God.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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

Most Naturally an Atheist

I don’t believe in God and

I don’t know anything about God.

 

But I keep having this experience –

in liturgy, in family, in bread, and wine, and life –

where an unseen Spirit (like fire or wind)

speaks to my heart of a man named Jesus,

who died and yet is alive.

 

This Jesus believes in God

and knows God

and through the Spirit

Jesus keeps sharing with me

his faith and knowledge of God.

 

He shares with me his knowledge

that God is a good and faithful Father,

and he shares with me his faith in the Father;

And that is all I have: the faith of Jesus in the Father

shared with me through the Spirit.

 

And that is enough.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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