Archive for the ‘Religion’ Tag

Bring Me a Coin

Since the dawn of time there have been those who have wanted to assert their authority and power over others and if they had no authority or power to assert many have worked diligently to acquire some.

One of the fasted ways to get on the bad side of the powerful is to threaten their authority or legitimacy. This is why some presidents, prime ministers, dictators, and religious leaders hide what they are doing from public scrutiny, lock out the press, and make their deals and bargains in secret. It is often a hallmark of wrong-doing. Power structures do not like to be challenged.Perichoresis Coin

The Pharisees and religious leaders of the early first century were no different and they resented Jesus for many reasons. For one… he did not announce himself to them first when he became a human being and for another he persistently worked to rip down the hierarchical power structures they had created for their own benefit.

Well as you might know, the Pharisees often attempted to trip Jesus up with questions and scenarios that seemed to have no safe way of answering. One of those occasions is found in Matthew 22, Mark 12, and Luke 20. The scene sets up like this… a tax was owed for going to the Temple and Jesus was asked by the Pharisees whether it should be paid. They knew the tax was unpopular with the Jews so he could not come out in favor of the tax without enlisting the ire of the people and on the other hand he could not oppose the tax publically without being in jeopardy from the Roman rulers. They had him… or so they thought.

When asked about the tax Jesus asked them to bring him the coin used for the tax and inquired, “Whose image is this on the coin?” Their answer was, “Cesar’s.” Jesus replied, “Then give to Cesar that which is his and give to God what is God’s.” WOW… do you see it? How amazing is Jesus’ answer?!? Can you say, “Checkmate?”

I do not believe that Jesus was, in this encounter, validating the system of Roman taxes where money was extracted under the threat of violence or imprisonment. I do not believe Jesus would ever endorse a system where the powerful confiscate wealth by the sword.

Nope, what Jesus was doing here was speaking to the logic of these people’s being. Those listening were Hebrews and would have been very familiar with the creation narrative in which Triune God proclaims, “Let us make mankind in our image… so male and female he made them.”

When Jesus implies that the way we know who the coin belongs to is to look at whose image is on the coin he is deflecting the intent of their question and using it as an opportunity to let them know that, because they each bear the image of God as human beings, they belong to God and should give themselves wholly to him.

Do you see that? You are created in the image of the Triune God… you bear the image of the Father, Son, and Spirit… Jesus wants you to know that no matter what… you belong to him!

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

~Bill Winn

Sharing In Jesus’ Ministry To Those Dealing With Same-sex Attraction, pt.6

Questions and Answers

HERE is the question and answer message in the series many wanted to start with first – finally! – hahaha… Here is also the Good News proclaimed where you can hear, yet again, that you are NOT the “black sheep of the family”, nor the “red-headed stepchild” or any other false identity foisted on to you by yourself or others but are, IN FACT, the son or daughter the Father, Son and Spirit always wanted!!!

Sharing In Jesus’ Ministry To Those Dealing With Same-sex Attraction, pt.5

Jesus Love One Another Darry D

Who and what is it you should remember MOST about this series and  proclamation of God’s Good News? This is what is addressed in this 5th message of this series by Pastor Timothy Brassell at!

Sharing In Jesus’ Ministry To Those Dealing With Same-sex Attraction!, pt. 4

Romans 8

So, as we live between the times of Jesus’ Ascension and His Reappearance: Are the Father, Son and Spirit pessimistic about our present participation in Their sanctification? Are They realistic about it? Is Jesus surprised about our lack of reaching perfection here and now? Is our Father surprised and disappointed at our “lack of progress”? Do our current struggles discourage The Holy Spirit? Is the Triune God of Love expecting you to make and fulfill your promises? Is the Relational God of grace impatient and is all this suffering really worth it? These are the kinds of questions addressed in this 6th message of this series at New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Maryland.

Sharing In Jesus’ Ministry To Those Dealing With Same-sex Attraction!, pt. 3

No Condemnation

Because there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ, (and all of humanity is “in Christ” in the Person of Jesus and His humanity!), every human being now is genuinely included in God’s Love and Life, UNCONDEMNED BY GOD! But what about the fact that the scriptures clearly point to lifestyles that are acceptable and lifestyles that are not acceptable for human relationships in the light of our inclusion? How do we handle breakdowns in moral behavior in the Church? Join Pastor Tim and New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Maryland as they discuss this in the glory of the Gospel and Pastor Tim shares a personal story of the impact of the Gospel on one of his gay friends.

Sharing In Jesus’ Ministry To Those Dealing With Same-sex Attraction!, pt. 2

1 Cor 1.18-31 Consider Your Calling

Why and how is it that believers in Jesus Christ can share so marvelously well in His Ministry of Love and Compassion with ALL, including those dealing with same-sex attraction? This is what Pastor Tim Brassell and the congregation at discuss as they are met by the Father, Son and Spirit in this second message in this series!

No ifs…

MP900438811My all-time favourite book on the topic of parenting is Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting. In it, the author observes that while a parent may indeed love his/her child unconditionally, if he/she focuses on his child’s performance, meting out rewards and punishments accordingly, the child can come to see his parents’ love as conditional – tied to his performance.  Without ever intending to, the message the parent can transmit and the child can receive is, I love you, if…

I love you if you obey/do what I say.

I love you if you perform/excel.

And as Kohn points out, to a child, it’s the message received that is heard, and that matters.

Think for a moment how it feels to a child to believe that his parents’ love for him is tied to his performance – that doing well along the way garners more love and acceptance, and that doing poorly means less love and acceptance. That she is not loved for herself so much as for her compliance and obedience. That parental love can be withdrawn at will.

Perhaps it’s not difficult to imagine, because perhaps this is how you felt, consciously or not, in relation to your own parents. And perhaps, like so many, this is how you have felt in relation to God for most of your life.

The book is a secular one, but on the topic of religion, Kohn notes:

While many religious people equate the idea of unconditionality with aspects of their faith, a case could be made, drawing on the holy books of Christianity and Judaism, that the deities in these religions offer the ultimate in conditional love. Both the Old and New Testaments repeatedly promise extravagant rewards for those who are properly reverent, and horrific punishments for those who aren’t. . . . Do what you’re told; you’ll become rich and get to watch your enemies die. Stray from the faith; you’ll suffer a range of consequences. . . . And for some believers, of course, even more significant blessings or curses await us after death. (102)

This is certainly not what we’re all about at Trinity and Humanity, but I believe that the observation is a fair one. It wasn’t until I encountered Trinitarian theology that I was able to stop seeing God as a distant but micro-managing deity sending blessings when I was “good” and cursings when I was “bad.” Only once I was freed to open my eyes to the fact that his love for me was not tied to my performance in any way – not even in a backhanded or double-edged way – did I truly, finally feel loved. I recognised that that was unconditional love – the only kind there is. Conditional love isn’t really love.

I believe that because God’s love is truly unconditional, I could be…you fill in the blank…and he’d still love me. It’s true he wouldn’t want me to keep hurting myself or others, but he wouldn’t love me more if I did, and less if I didn’t. It surely upsets him greatly to see the pain I cause myself and others. But rather than meting out rewards and punishments in an attempt to modify my behaviour, I believe he continues to work gently in me. Whether or not that work will be finished by the end of my physical life is unlikely, but I believe that it will be finished. The kind of healing we all need to become everything we could and were created to be is unlikely to occur in this life. We have only to look around us to see that this is true, and we only see a fraction of people’s private, hidden struggles. But our greatest hope and expectation is that this life is not all there is or that will be.

What a relief it is to see that there are no prerequisites to his love and acceptance. That because he exists outside of time, he has seen our completion. We may be liars, thieves, murderers and adulterers in this life – but he has seen our future healing and completion. He is the author and finisher of it. So, broken, damaged and imperfect as we are in this life, he sees beyond it to who we are becoming, thanks to him. I really believe he takes great joy in our journeys – our steps forward and even those backwards because it’s all part of the process.

I’m trying to put down my heavy burdens. I am trying to recognise the loud voices in my head that say I am only lovable and acceptable if I do certain things and not others as the divinely vanquished phantoms that they are.  Honestly, I hear them less and less every day.

I see life as an endurance race – not a sprint I need to win or a perilous trek to the summit of Mt Everest. I’m trying to be compassionate to my fellow journeymen with broken feet or legs and broken hearts. There are many and it is all of us to some degree. Jesus walks lovingly with us all at our pace. Someone’s behaviour may look “unChristian” to we who have been raised in the church, but the worst thing we can do, as Christians, is to take potshots at them along the way. Or to gang up on them, “take stands,” and tell them that they must change, if they are to be or feel included.

When we do, we make these people feel alone, unloved, unlovable and not included. But they are not alone, and they are loved and included. If God’s love is unconditional – and that’s the only kind of real love there is – then ours should, to the very best of our ability, be too. If we give someone the feeling that they are only included if, even if it’s not what we mean to do, then we’ve laid a burden at their feet that will only weigh them down in the journey. If God wishes to make them not this or not that, let’s let him do it. That is what it will take. Him, not us. His ways are so often not ours – his are never harsh words and judgement couched in love – not “tough love,” but pure love.

Within the all-encompassing love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there are no ifs. So may it be with us.

~ by Jeannine Buntrock

Why Didn’t God JUST Forgive Us?!, part 4

Forgiveness 1

GOTF6 – Why Didn’t God Just Forgive Us, part 4 (Rom 7.7-25) – TAH

Handout Excerpt: On the Incarnation of the Word of God

In this last message buffet (in what became a series on “Forgiveness”), we are reminded through scripture and St. Athanasius that all of humanity is so forgiven by God the Father, Son and Spirit, that in Jesus Christ He has made death to “disappear from [all of humanity] as utterly as straw from fire”. Now that is Gospel, relational powerful and practical!

Why Didn’t God JUST Forgive Us?! part 3

forgiveness (3)

GOTF5 – Why Didn’t God Just Forgive Us, part 3 (Luke 23.32-37) – TAH

On the Incarnation of the Word of God

In this encouraging Father’s Day message, New Life Fellowship Baltimore continues to wrestle with the question of God’s Forgiveness in the Light of Jesus’ crucifixion response and as the One Who literally represents the heart of the Father, Son and Spirit in our broken flesh! We continue to glean insight from the ancient Church Father Athanasius and his essay “On the Incarnation of the Word of God” (see attached link to follow along).

Jesus and the Naked Grape

Well a couple of months ago my wife Davina asked me to stop in at the market to pick up a few items for a spaghetti squash dish that she makes. (It’s quite good) On the list of  items for the recipe was a bottle of dry white wine. So as I left my last visit for the day I stopped by one of the many grocers  near our home. Working my way down the list I got the crushed red tomatoes, spaghetti squash, and the dry white wine. Well truth is I did not care if it was a dry wine or not because I found a brand of white wine called The Naked Grape. “Awesome!” I thought, “This is a two-for, I get the wine and I get to come in the house and see my wife and daughters’ reaction to the label on this bottle.” I just knew it would be fun and went on my merry way to the checkout. Well I thought my way would be merry but I had forgotten that I was wearing a T-shirt designed by my friend Lance McKinnon that says JESUS. I really had not even thought about the T-shirt until I got in the speedy check-out lane. While in the line I was just in front of a Caucasian woman in her 50’s and just behind her was an elderly African-American woman in one of those slick little shopping go-karts. As I placed the wine on the conveyor the lady just behind me stated quite loudly, “Oh, I see, a Jesus T-shirt AND a bottle of wine.” I did not know what to do except smile sheepishly when all of the sudden a graveled voice from the scooter-cart said, “Well the Bible doesn’t say drinking is a sin but judging people is!” You could have heard a pin drop. I laughed nervously, took my receipt and goods, and left as fast as I could. On the drive home a slew of questions came to mind. If Jesus had invited me to the wedding at Cana would I have been too embarrassed to go knowing that he might associate himself with wine? Why was I so embarrassed by that situation? What was the big deal about having my Jesus T-shirt on and buying a bottle of wine -and a bottle of Naked Grape to boot? Why has the Christian church that I love and have pledged my life to serve shamed us into thinking we can’t be free? Have we been duped by religiosity so much that we cannot enjoy the world and all the good things the Blessed Trinity has given us? We were not created for religion. You see, the Father, Son, and Spirit created us to share in Their life of love and fellowship. The Good Shepherd said in John 10:10 that he came so we might have life and have it fully! When Jesus said ‘life’ he could have chosen a few different words in the language of the day. He could have said the word that means biological life, he could have used the word for soul, but instead he chose the word that means ‘spiritual’ life. Jesus was referring to the life he has shared with His Father in the communion of the Holy Spirit from all eternity. It is into the very Triune life of God that we have been included. This is huge! Jesus has set us free for freedom’s sake! (Gal. 5:1) And Jesus has given us spaghetti squash, wives, husbands, children, homes, football, tennis, swimming, summer camp, music and dancing, and a whole host of blessings we could never list in one blog and yes Jesus has even given us wine! The religion under which we suffer from time to time only hurts because it runs against the grain of our inclusion in the Triune life of love, freedom, sharing, giving, laughter, joy, other-centeredness, dancing, and every other good thing we can imagine and a million more we can’t even dream. It was Irenaeus who said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” I believe he was right! It’s past 8 PM now and I must go -there is a dram of Single Malt calling my name! Cheers!

~ Bill Winn

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