About Me

I was once told to discover those things that you “cannot-not” do and in them I would find the reason that God had created me. These “cannot-not” things are those things that are an essential part of your being; they are the things that make you whole. And for me, there are three: I am a preacher, a teacher, and an author. These things I do because I cannot conceive of myself doing anything other.

10391517_102922896390150_5851017_nAnd so, you have found me here, doing that which is fundamental to my person…yet, for me, this blog is more than a collection of random musings. For better or worse, I tend to see the world a little differently than most people around me. While most people see the world as it is and learn to cope with it, I see the world as it is and long to see it as it could be. And while I recognize the logical error of assuming that “ought” implies “is,” this gives me a platform to challenge the complacency of the church and the world and this blog reflects that platform.

Most fundamentally, too many Christians are illiterate as to the Bible and the theology that that the Bible teaches. This makes them spiritually immature, weak, and prone to follow the heresies of men. And so I cry out not only from the pulpit and from the laptop and pray to God that he will open the ears of people to hear. I cannot do otherwise.

If this resonates with you, I encourage you to subscribe. Typically I write 3-4 times a week, sometimes more, but if it is less, it is because I am engaged in finishing up a larger writing project. So follow me here and interact with me as I respond to comments that you make. You can also follow me on Twitter if you like more pithy comments and quotes. And don’t hesitate if you want to drop me an email as well.DSCN0386

Who am I?

At my very core, I am a country boy, raised in the rolling hills of rural Harford County, Maryland (about 45 minutes northeast of Baltimore). Growing up, my playground consisted of about 60 acres of woods located behind my parents’ house and some of my best childhood memories were formed during adventures with my friends back amongst the rocks and trees of those woods. Even today, give me trees and fields over city streets any day of the week.

My bride of 20 years grew up with me in that part of Maryland also. Though she is two-years my junior, we went to Elementary School, Middle School,  High School, college, and church  together. So, in a sense, I have known her most of my life, though by God’s grace, he kept the two of us apart until I was through my rebellious years. And so, we were never High School sweethearts and her family sat in the back pew of the church while my parents sat in the front (and, as they say, “ne’er the twain shall meet”).

We became an “item” shortly after leading a TRUE LOVE WAITS program with the youth of our church…and the rest, as they say, is history. We have two children (15 and 11 respectively). My son’s choice form of expression is through video (check out PTG Productions on YouTube) and my daughter’s preferred mode of expression is through dance.

Rebellion and A Call to Faith

I am the classic prodigal son. I dropped out of college at 19, left home, and went to make my place in the world as a manager for Domino’s Pizza. After several years of living badly, God began the process of bringing me to my senses. I lost my job because I had too many speeding tickets. I boomaranged back to my parents’ house and bounced between jobs for a while before going back to college.

During those years of rebellion, I wanted nothing to do with the church or the things of God. To me, that represented rules and I wanted to live entirely for myself and by my own code. These proved to be dark years. I did have a Christian friend who would send me Christian music, knowing that I would listen to whatever he sent me at least once. So, on a lonely December afternoon, after final exams, I was listening to one such album: Petra’s Out of this World. It was a life album that contained an “altar call.” In my bedroom, alone and broken, God drove me to my knees, repenting of my sin, and surrendering my miserable life to His Son, Jesus Christ. And that night my life changed…radically.

A Call to MinistryGROSECLOSE-WIN-64

When I first began exploring the question of “calling,” my pastor at the time told me not to pursue the ministry unless I would not be satisfied doing anything else. It was one of those “cannot-not” statements again. So, I took those words as permission to pursue other things. At the time, I was working as a carpet installer and in the process of establishing my own business. I was happy doing my own thing and my new bride was not much pleased with the notion of becoming a “pastor’s-wife.”

I was encouraged, though, by one of my mentors, to “test my gifts.” So, I went through the process of becoming licensed in the Methodist church (the denomination in which I was raised) to preach…which I did for 5 years. By the end of that five years, I was in the pulpit more Sundays than I was out of it and regularly being told by congregants that God was calling me to serve Him full-time.

So, after 5 years 3 things changed. First, having spent 5 years preparing sermons, my theology changed and without really knowing what being “Reformed” was, I had become Reformed and the Wesleyan answers I had been given over the years to things like election, predestination, and free-will were no longer satisfying. Second, God had once again brought me to my knees before his throne and I was forced to come face to face with the reality that I had been fleeing his call. Third, God opened my wife’s heart to the idea that pursuing His will for our lives was better than us pursuing our own will for our lives…even if that meant she would become a “pastor’s-wife.”

From Maryland to Pennsylvania the Long Way

Seminary led us to Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Jackson, MS. We closed my business, sold much of our belongings and our house, and headed south for 4 years. While in seminary I continued installing carpet as a means to provide for my growing family. Both of our children are Mississippi born and were bookends during our time in school. While in school, I also served as a chaplain for 3.5 years at Gateway Rescue Mission, a downtown transient shelter for the homeless and preached regularly in several PCA and OPC congregations.

1917122_105951379420635_4476404_nAfter seminary, I accepted a call to serve as Chaplain for Rocky Bayou Christian School in Niceville, Florida. While there I also accepted a call to serve as Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Milton, Florida, about 45 miles down the road from where we lived.

I cannot say enough good things about the School, the people who served there (and its students), and the very kind people at Westminster Pres., with whom we fell in love. And while I grew and matured in that bi-vocational context, the distance and constant travel took its toll on me and on my family. In addition, once again I was forced to wrestle with the question of how God was calling me to serve. Also, the distance from our aging parents in Maryland weighed upon us. So, after 5 years of serving in Florida, the Elders at Westminster gave me permission to seek a call further north and closer to family.

Western Pennsylvania is beautiful and the area (as well as our church) reminded us of the area and church in which we had grown up in. It is rural farmland, just the hills are a little taller than the ones back in Maryland.

In coming to St. John’s (Burry’s) Church, I left the PCA. This congregation comes out of the German Reformed tradition and is an independent ecclesiastical church body. While the theology is solidly conservative and Reformed, the church’s ecclesiology was different enough from that of the PCA that I saw it as a conflict to keep my ordination within the denomination, so it was transferred to the local congregation here.

That took place in 2011 and since then my family and I have settled into our Pennsylvania home, our community, and I have sought to shepherd the flock with which Christ has charged me. There have been bumps along the road, but the transition has been a healthy one personally and professionally.

In addition to serving as pastor, I also continue to teach theology to seminary students in Ukraine, through Reformed International Theological Education (RITE), typically teaching two weeks out of each year. Also, I serve on the Advisory Board for The North American Reformed Seminary (TNARS), which provides a seminary-level education through the internet at no cost.

Win @ John's Daughter's weddingOdds and Ends

Life is busy, but in my free time, I enjoy gardening, splitting my own firewood, and historical (ancients) war-gaming with little lead figures (yes, I never grew out of playing with army men!). I like to read and cook and I make a mean hot-pepper sauce when the crop is good. My philosophy regarding books is borrowed from Desiderius Erasmus, who said, “If I get a little money, I buy books; if there is anything left, I buy food and clothing.” Yes, my wife is a patient woman.

Some of my favorite authors outside of the Bible are C.S. Lewis, J.C. Ryle, John Dick, and Ronald Nash. I am also a huge fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories. I am also a bit of a “Mac Snob”…well, maybe more than a little bit.

Disclaimer: 

This is my personal blog and while I welcome disagreements, I do not welcome disagreements that are belligerent or disrespectful. I vet every comment before it goes online to ensure that the tone and spirit of this blog is irenic even when we have a passionate disagreement about important ideas.

14 Comments

  1. Tamara Nye

    Win, I feel honored to have someone like you give me advice and encouragement. Thanks for being a good, caring man. God bless you and your family.

    Like

  2. Dave Anthony

    I just found your site. I have been praying for people with whom I could get feedback upon my interpretation of Scripture in Hebrew. Hebrew’s nuances demand discussion and I see God’s hand in that because it motivates us to be in relationship with one another to fully understand His Word. May I from time to time post a question to your blog site for clarification/discussion? God bless, Dave

    Like

  3. Dave Anthony

    God bless you for your reply. I confess I am a beginner in Hebrew. I’m still learning the ropes. I am looking at Gen. 1:6 and the use of the verb ‘to separate, divide’ (badal). In my interlinear text the word does not seem to be rendered in the Qal stem. Am I mistaken that it is instead in the Piel stem? My reason for asking is if it is indeed in the Piel stem the word construct would carry the sense of God’s ongoing providence; that He continues His creative act. Am I seeing what I want to see, or does the construct have a different connotation?

    Like

    1. preacherwin

      Dave,

      You are right that badal is not in the Qal; it is actually in the Hiphil stem, not the Piel. The connotation thus is not a continuing action of separation, but one of God’s forceful and direct work. The waters above did not separate from the waters below by some random means, but instead did so by God’s intentional design and separation.

      The creation account is written in such a way to reflect God’s work of creation beginning and ending with that first week, thus we see God resting from his labors on day 7, so while God’s providence is certainly ongoing, the language here doesn’t reflect that so much as it reflects God’s own intentional action. Creation is meant to be seen as a miraculous work of God.

      What is likely throwing you off in your parsing with this particular case is that it is a participle as well (giving the ‘m’ prefix). Sometimes they can be tricky.

      May I ask which grammar and resources you are using?

      Blessings,

      win

      Like

      1. Dave Anthony

        I would welcome suggestions and guidance regarding a good grammar and parsing guide. I use my interlinear (Kohlenberger) in conjunction with an embedded Strong’s lexicon on a compute search engine. As soon as you brought up the matter of participles the fog lifted. Like I said, I am a beginner, but I have fallen in love with Hebrew. I am encouraged that I reached the same conclusion regarding the passage, but still need to improve at ‘parsing’ the reasons. You don’t know how much this means for you to take this time with me. God bless you.

        Like

      2. preacherwin

        Though I am far from being a master of Hebrew, it is a language that I too have fallen in love with both for its richness and color and because of my love of scripture. I am glad to meet other like-minds.

        In terms of suggestions; I used Gary Pratico & Miles Van Pelt’s Hebrew Grammar when I was in seminary and commend it highly. It is well structured, easy to follow, and has lots of useful helps and guides — particularly in the way of charts to help learn verbal stems. I would commend it highly. When I was teaching High School, I taught some willing students a semester of introductory Hebrew as an elective and used that grammar with them as well.

        In terms of software, I use a Mac, so Accordance by Oak Tree Software is the top of the line. If you use a PC, Logos comes close to Accordance, though the interface is not as intuitive. Both pieces of software are pricey, but in my opinion, well worth every penny.

        Another tool that I found helpful when teaching Hebrew was the resources available through EKS Publishing Company. They are a Jewish company dedicated to helping make the Hebrew language more accessible to Jews as well as to Christians. There are some great tools there for reading — childrens books and the like to use to reinforce your comprehension. One of the more enjoyable products they have is a book called “Tall Tales in Hebrew” where familiar folk stories are told in Hebrew, again to help recognition. The language is simple and the text is meant to be easy to follow, which then improves your Hebrew in other areas as well.

        Also, if you go to http://www.dictionary.co.il you can sign up for a free Hebrew vocabulary word to be emailed to you daily. These are in modern Hebrew, but again is a good reinforcement. They also offer lessons and teaching aides, but I have never utilized these thus far.

        Hope these are helpful, God bless you in your continued studies and feel free to drop me a note anytime.

        Win

        p.s. and for a real treat, go to: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Blessings/Synagogue_Blessings/Priestly_Blessing/priestly_blessing.html
        Then click on the “listen” tab. Some good stuff here as well

        Like

  4. guin

    dear pastor win: thank you so much for making these biblically-based writings and resources available. am going through times (common to all ) that greatly challenge me to question the Lord’s intentions towards me. finding your website and its’ contents are helpful as i walk these things out. blessings on you and yours.

    Like

    1. preacherwin

      I guess that in principle, it is just to discipline yourself to carve out a time for reading and reflection that is more or less sacrosanct and is not compromised by other duties of the day. For me, it is getting up earlier than my family so that I can do so without distractions. The key is to make this a part of your life, not a box that you check off on a “to-do list.”

      The second thing you need to decide are what are your goals. If reading through the Bible in a year is your goal, then there are lots of good resources out there. Personally, I like the old-fashioned model of starting in Genesis and reading straight through without jumping around, but that isn’t for everyone. If your goal is to read through the Bible in a year, you essentially have to read on a pace of 4 chapters a day to finish…it really isn’t that daunting when you think of it in this way. By the way, if you set a pace for 4 chapters a day, you can do this over a 6 day week. That leaves your Sunday reading as a day to re-read the text from Sunday’s sermon and think it over or to re-read chapters that you read earlier in the week but might like to explore more deeply. And, if you had a particularly busy week, even to finish reading so you don’t fall behind pace.

      In my congregation, I alternate the reading plan for those who wish to follow it. I alternate between a “through the Bible in a year” type of plan and a set of shorter readings that are more specific so can be read more closely. This year we are reading a harmony of the Gospels (you can check out this reading plan on our church website). For the congregation, I usually write a summary of the texts we read, some explanation, and a crossword puzzle based on the week’s reading (on the website too). This year I fell behind in this part some with the death of my mom and am working to get caught up on the summaries/puzzles for those who are faithfully doing the readings.

      In principle, if you are willing to commit 30-45 minutes a day to this, the readings are very doable. I tell people to take a break from television (usually a time gobbler) and commit it to being spiritually productive.

      In terms of my personal devotions, I tend to go through passages much more slowly — translating a few verses a day from the Greek or Hebrew. What you find on this blog is often the results of this devotional practice.

      Hopefully that is helpful,

      win

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s