Archive for the ‘Richmond Grace Fellowship’ Tag

The Happiness Recipe

Jesus once sat down on a mountain side in Galilee and taught a multitude of his students about being blessed. The event is recorded in Matthew 5 and we have come to call it The Sermon on the Mount. Imagine how incredible it must have been to sit and listen to Jesus talk about being happy. You see so often religion makes us wary of being happy. Religion almost creates an atmosphere of guilt over pleasure and happiness. Jesus wants us to be happy in fact I can prove it…The heading over the first dozen verses in Matthew 5 in my Bible reads, “The Beatitudes”. Well, I have a confession to make. For many years as a teen and young adult I never knew what the word beatitude meant. It comes from the Latin beatitudinem and just means happiness. It is not in the original text but is simply a heading to help the reader better understand the context and meaning of what follows. I’d give the translators a C- for this one. Why didn’t they just put “Happiness” so we’d understand?

Two sources of my happiness!

Two sources of my happiness!

In Matthew 5:1-12 Jesus gives a list of behaviors wherein he says, “Blessed are …” The word for blessed that we have, from the most reliable manuscripts, is a Greek word that just means the same- happy!

So think about these verses in the light of happiness. Happy are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God. Being poor in spirit simply means fully relying on God and this is how we see and experience the Kingdom of God.

Happy are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Well of course when we mourn the Holy Spirit comforts and works in and around us to restore our joy.

So you see The Beatitudes are not a formula to get in with God or make you right with him. The Beatitudes are simply a recipe for being happy.

How cool is that and why in the wide world of sports don’t the translators come up with something better than “The Beatitudes”? Why not put a new more easily understood heading over this part of the Sermon on the Mount like… The Happiness Recipe.

More Than Conquerors!

More Than Conquerors

Listen in as Pastor Bill Winn of Richmond Grace proclaims the Good News that YOU are LITERALLY a “Super-Duper-Duper Conqueror” in Christ! Pastor Bill proclaimed this message as a guest of New Life Fellowship of Baltimore, Maryland during their “Great Dance” Weekend!

I Never Miss

I recently saw an ad for a very popular shoe brand and in the ad there is a sort of “con” taking place on a basketball court. We all know the kind right? A guy shows up on the basketball court pretending to be a really bad player and after he is picked by his undercover friend to play ball on his team the show begins! Only this con-game is a bEarth bballit unique in that the bad player is really… well… kind of bad. In the advertisement the small weaker person is the bad player and he doesn’t seem able to even come close to scoring a basket. But when the game starts we see something amazing. We see the bad player lobbing terrible shots at the goal and not even coming close. Thankfully his friend on the team is an excellent player and is steadily grabbing the ball in mid-air and slam dunking it through the hoop. When I first saw the commercial I was intrigued and then Nike™ and their Ad Agency hit it home for me in a great big Gospel way. During the commercial the bad player looks at the camera , right after his friend dunked his errant shot, and said, “I never miss!” I thought to myself, “That’s it… that’s the Gospel!” I can’t make a Gospel basket to save my life, I can’t redeem myself, sanctify myself, reconcile myself, justify myself, save myself, or anything else. It is precisely my helplessness that necessitated that Jesus be me for me! He has grabbed the human race’s errant shot and slam dunked it.  Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus that I never miss!

                                                                                                                        ~Bill Winn

BUSTED!

The four Gospels of the New Testament record many of the sayings and teaching of Jesus. We are gifted with a partial transcript of his wisdom, humor, correction, insight, and compassion. One of my favorites is the statement Jesus made to a woman who had been caught in the act of something punishable by death. We find it in John 8 and many, I am confident, are somewhat familiar with the story. You see there was this ongoing attempt by the religious leaders of the day to try and trip up Jesus, to discredit him, and to have him killed the latter of which Jesus submitted to when the time for his sacrificial death drew near.

So in John 8 here they come, the “religion police”, dragging with them a woman caught right in the act of adultery.  As you might expect this scene drew a crowd as many wanted to see what would become of her. At the time this all took place adultery was punishable by death.  This woman was busted and in real trouble!

"Neither do I condemn you"

“Neither do I condemn you”

The religious leaders were hoping to trick Jesus into going against the law of their land thus discrediting him and putting him in mortal jeopardy.

Well, I venture a guess that if the religious leaders of the day had known and believed that Jesus really was the Eternal Son of the Father, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and the Messiah they would not have been so silly as to try and trick him.

When they brought the woman caught in the act of adultery to him Jesus masterfully handled the situation. He looked at her accusers and wrote in the dirt saying, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” By the way where was the man with whom she’d done this act? Perhaps religious misogynism is a good future blog topic. Many scholars believe that what Jesus wrote in the dirt was some of the sins of the woman’s accusers, we really don’t know for sure but what we do know is that Jesus made a way to spare this woman’s life. Jesus took up her cause and defended her. This is greatly important to us as we read of the life and ministry of Jesus but what he actually said to this woman is, I think, most significant.

After her accusers left Jesus said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Is there no one left to condemn you? She answered, “No one Lord.” Then Jesus replied to her with the most stunning news she could have heard from the Son of God… “Then neither do I condemn you… go and stop this sin.” That is the word of the Lord to us, “Neither do I condemn you!”

Jesus himself said that he did not come into the world to condemn it but that through him the whole world might be saved. If you blow it this week, if you have already blown it, if there is a behavior or action in your life that you know is poison then knock it off but know this… no matter what Jesus does not condemn! Jesus redeems, Jesus heals, Jesus loves, Jesus brings to bear in your life the very Triune life of God that he has shared with his Father and the Holy Spirit from all eternity. So while others may condemn us and pass judgment on us the One who really matters is Jesus and he says, “Neither do I condemn you!”

~Bill Winn

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