Assistant Pastor’s Annual Report 2019

•2020/01/21 • Leave a Comment

Assistant Pastor’s Annual Report for 2019

Throughout 2019 we’ve been continuing in Bible study, discipleship, Sunday school, preaching, visitation, prayer, counseling, etc. But to what end? Why do we do it, and is it all meeting God’s intended purpose? To that point, there are other questions I could ask here, such as, Why do churches fail? Why to Christians live defeated lives, or fall away from the faith? Why do so few people in our own church get involved in the life of the church, serve in ministries, or share the gospel? For that matter, is anyone even reading this?

To answer any of life’s questions (not including the last one), we should go to Scripture.

Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, …“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. —Ephesians 5:14–17

As we begin this new year, we may be wise to ask of ourselves a few probing questions. 1. Do I understand God’s will for my life? 2. With God’s will in mind, did I make the best use of my time in 2019, and am I working to make the best use of it now? 3. Am I walking in the light of Christ, or am I still asleep, hitting the spiritual snooze button?

When I think about serving God according to His will, using wisely the time He gives me, and living my life in the light of Christ, two other passages jump out at me. The first is Matthew 6:33. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Seeking God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, as a life-priority, is the biblical Christian life. What does the biblical Christian look like? A believer, who’s priority it is to seek the Kingdom of God, as well as God’s righteousness, above his own interests. It is to know, understand, desire, and work toward, God’s will for mankind, as well as God’s due glory. Christians struggling to understand God’s will for their lives, should start right here at Matthew 6:33. It’s a matter of the heart, involving how we think, what we believe, and what we want. It’s a struggle of the heart, between what I want for me, and what God wants from me.

The second passage that comes to mind is Matthew 28:19–20, but it will be impossible to obey this passage, if we’re not already working on the 6:33 passage. Jesus said, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Making disciples is the work to which every Christian is called. What does the biblical Christian spend his life doing? Going, and as he goes, both intentional, and as opportunities arise, he is making, and attempting to make, disciples. What is that, exactly? It’s the investing in the lives of others, wherever they are spiritually, building them up in faith, grace, love, and obedience. We do this work where needed, first within the spectrum of unbeliever to convert, and then from believer to disciple-making disciple. So, are you making disciples? If you will seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, you will.

So, the first two questions, Do I understand God’s will for my life? and Am I making the best use of my time? should not be too difficult to answer. But if you’re still struggling here, try this one. Am I striving (in heart and energy) for the will of God in my life, and am I striving for His will in the world, in the same way that I would (or do) strive, for things of great personal meaning, value, or security?

What does God care about? His glory and people, particularly how those two intersect, namely, His worthiness to be worshipped and praised by all people, and His desire that all would be saved (see 1 Tim. 2:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Sadly, we have a culture of increasing emptiness, with too many people having no idea that life has both temporal and eternal meaning, much less, where to find it. Our society has fully embraced a religion/worldview of random meaningless chance, and so it should be no wonder to us, that suicide, drug abuse, violence, and sexual depravity and confusion, are now normative. The gospel message of grace, hope and purpose, in and through Jesus Christ alone, stands apart from our culture with stark distinction, but do we? We share the gospel, we preach the truth, but we also live. We live a life that people can see. They can see what we do, and if they know us, they can see what we want from life, what we fear, and what we seek.

When we tell people that God has a wonderful plan for their lives, we are certainly speaking truth, but do we truly believe it, do we seek, know, and understand God’s will for our own lives? Are we living it? Paul said, Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Have we understood this for ourselves?

Paul goes on to say, Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Here Paul is saying to us, do not just know and understand God’s will, but be devoted to it, and stop wasting time. What is a waste of time? Living life seeking after our own will, instead of seeking after God’s.

Are you awake, is Christ shinning on you? If not, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. For the biblical Christian, this cannot be overstated. YOU MUST WAKE UP! Without Christ, all are doomed to perish.

Do you understand God’s will for your life? Are you making the best use of your time? Are you walking in the light of Christ, or are you still asleep, hitting the spiritual snooze button?

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, yes, you too!

Pastor James M. Winslow

Assistant Pastor’s Annual Report 2018

•2020/01/21 • Leave a Comment

God’s Will: Discipleship in Three Parts

As I look back at 2018, it seems to have gone by in a flash, but in fact, it contained the same 365 days, and 8760 hours, as each previous year since creation, and just as the servants were given talents to invest for the Master, we too have been given resources. So, how did you invest those 8760 talents? Well, for me, I slept for about 2090 of them, leaving me around 6670 hours to do what I considered to be the best use of my time. To name many of my investments— I worked, drove, ate, talked, taught, listened, thought, vegged, prayed, counseled, called, texted, preached, wrote, shopped, studied, learned, walked, visited, searched the internet, attended performances, played games, attended meetings, shared the gospel, listened to music, watched TV, read the Bible, and went to church.

So, as I look back at how I spent the time God gave me to steward in 2018, I have to ask, “How much of it really counted, how much of it did I manage well?” The answer depends on how much of it I spend doing God’s will. Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15–17. The bottom line is that God has a will for mankind, He has a will for our nation, our church, and for each of our lives, and He wants us to understand what His will is.

For starters, God wants us to be careful with how we use our hours, He wants us to be wise with our time, and invest our lives according to His desires. So, what does that look like? Paul indicates that the wise follower of Christ understands the will of God, and then does it. So, what is the will of God? Well, there’s God’s particular will for us as individuals, there’s God’s ultimate will for His glory, and there’s God’s general will for all people. Let’s look at God’s general will for all people. First, God desires—

The Salvation of the Unsaved – Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:3–4 (ESV): This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. We also see this in passages, such as John 3:16-17, Romans 10:10–13, and Hebrews 7:25. The best part here is that God not only wants to save all people, but He wants to use us in the process (Matthew 28:16–20). It is the will of God that we share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are going to perish. We can think of leading people to Christ as Discipleship, part 1. God’s will also includes—

The Spiritual Maturity of the Church – 1 Thessalonians 5:14–18 (ESV): And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. We see here that we are to invest in the lives of our brothers and sisters. This is to happen in our relationships with each other, and can look like formal counseling sessions, casual conversations, and everything in between. It is the will of God that, as iron sharpens iron, we help others to grow in their relationship with Christ and the Church. Regarding the Great Commission, our call to make disciples, we can think of this as Discipleship, part 2.

So we see here, two aspects of God’s will. First, the salvation of the lost, and second, the growth and maturity of the church. A third is—

That by His Love and Power, He would Equip us and Change Us – Hebrews 13:20–21 (ESV): Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Notice that God equips us, so that we may do the works of His will. It’s important to see that works are only part of God’s will. It’s not just a functional change in us that God wants, He wants to be pleased with us, but even as believers, there are things we are lacking, without which, we will not be pleasing in His sight. This is the fruit of God’s grace in our lives, and as God works His attributes in us, and as He sees Christ in us, we are pleasing in His sight. This is Discipleship, part 3.

So, how did your investments work out in 2018, have you been on God’s discipleship plan? God gave each of us various talents to invest, everything we would need to do His will. He equipped us to share the gospel, to disciple others, to show love toward one other, to do the works of God. For 2018, God gave us each 8760 hours to invest. We don’t know how many he will give us for 2019, so we better use them wisely. Jesus said We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work, John 9:4.

As we dive into 2019, let’s remember that God’s glory is the point, So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Pastor James M. Winslow

Assistant Pastor’s Annual Report 2017

•2020/01/21 • Leave a Comment

Assistant Pastor’s Annual Report

Jesus said, “I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown” (Rev 3:11).

First, the promise. Jesus is coming back, and it’s going to be soon. On several occasions, Jesus taught His disciples, using the example of the returning master and his waiting servants. The difference between the servants gaining rewarded, and the servants suffering loss, is based on whether or not they were faithful to the master’s parting command. Jesus wants us to know that He is going to return soon, but not just for the sake of knowledge, or of being encouraged, He wants us to live like He’s going to return soon, so we will live lives of obedience, lives that bring God glory. Jesus said, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.” Matt 24:44–46

One of the concerning issues for the Church today, is the issue of indifference toward Christ’s return. Jesus, Himself, presents His return as being imminent, and therefore, as His servants, we are to be prepared. We should each ask ourselves, “Am I busy working to fulfill the Master’s interests, or am I busy working to fulfill my own?” This was the issue for the servants in Christ’s parables, and it is no less the issue for us today. No worries though, the Master will sort it all out upon His return.

In light of Jesus’ soon return, He advises us to “…Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.” He says here that we should forcefully hold onto to the spiritual advances we’re making. In other words, keep moving forward, don’t get lazy, don’t start to coast, keep doing faithful works of righteousness like you’ve been doing, or else you may not finish well, you may not receive a crown. How we finish the race matters. Remember, “…we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1–2).

During 2017, we’ve continued the study of Systematic Theology during Adult Sunday School hour. We started this class in order to help us all better understand God, and how God relates to us. We’ve also begun Biblical Counseling Training on Sunday evenings. These classes are designed to help equip the the church to counsel others/each other, biblically. Each one of us counsels others, we need to counsel according to God’s word. Over this past year, we held a Marriage/Discipleship class on Thursdays. Seeing the need for more Christ honoring, gospel focused marriages, we studied through Frances and Lisa Chan’s, “You and Me Forever.” Wednesday Evening Prayer Meetings have been an encouragement for those who attend, and we would love to see more and more of you to come out.

It was a blessing to serve alongside you, as we served dinner to families living at the Bellport Homeless Shelter, as well as at the Christmas School Outreach with Lighthouse Mission. It has continued to be a great honor and blessing for me to serve my God, my family, and you, my church family, one more year.

My prayer for FBCP is that by the end of 2018 we will look back to see that we have worked more service projects together, served more meals, met more needs, evangelized more people, made more disciples, and gained more ground for the Kingdom of God, than we have ever done before.

Jesus is coming back, and it may Be this year. Let Him find us faithful.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen” (Phil 4:23).

Pastor James M. Winslow

Assistant Pastor’s Annual Report 2016

•2020/01/21 • Leave a Comment

Assistant Pastor’s Annual Ministry Report 2016

If FBCP had a 2016 theme, it could have been, Intentional Discipleship.  We recognize that the greatest need in the Church of America, the greatest need in FBCP, and the greatest need in our own community, is discipleship.  This is because everything that God has for us to be, to do, and to enjoy, flows out of discipleship.  

In case you missed that point, I’ll repeat it.  “Everything that God has for us to be, to do, and to enjoy, flows out of discipleship.”  Put another way, everything in our Christian experience, from our initial hearing of the gospel, to our last breath on this earth, is a matter of discipleship.  It’s not just about being saved and going to church, it’s about how we live our lives, how we walk with Christ, how we finish the race.  Discipleship is about the decisions we make, the attitudes we hold on to, and the priorities in our lives.  As Christians, we are grateful for God’s merciful grace, and we truly want Jesus to be our Savior.  But do we, with as much enthusiasm, want Jesus to be our Lord?  Do we obey Jesus as Lord?  Discipleship is when Jesus says, “Come follow me,” and we actually follow Him.  Following Jesus means taking the path He takes, going where He goes, living as He lives.  If we are to follow Jesus, it means we lose our own agenda for life, we dream His will, and we have as the purpose for our lives, His purpose for our lives. This is discipleship.  

A central motivating factor of each area of ministry at FBCP, is Jesus’ command to make disciples.  This commission from our Lord is not only that we are to make disciples of those outside the Christian faith, but is also to make stronger disciples of those inside.  

This past year, in adult Sunday School, we began teaching the basics of theology.  Because, to grow as a disciple, we must be grounded in the truths of God, the doctrines of the Faith, and their application to life.  Likewise, we seek to accomplish this during Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting, where we have a short Bible Study before going to the Lord in prayer.  And then, with no subtlety, there is Thursday and Sunday evening Discipleship Class.  

Jesus said in Matthew 28:19–20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

For some, 2016 contained great sorrow, while for others the year is marked by great joy. How we respond to these contrasts in our lives, will depend on our relationship and walk with God. No matter where we are on the journey of discipleship, whether we’ve just begun, or if we’ve been at it for a while, we can have the assurance that we are not alone, for Christ said, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

May God continue to bless you, and may He allow 2017 to be the greatest year ever for the cause of the gospel, starting with us.

Pastor James M. Winslow

Assistant Pastor’s Annual Report 2015

•2020/01/21 • Leave a Comment

Assistant Pastor’s Annual Report

As I look back at this past year, I am reminded of just how blessed we all are. How blessed my family and I are to have had the opportunity to serve God through the ministry of First Baptist Church of Patchogue, and how blessed we all are as a church to have so many faithful servants who truly love God, and desire to honor Him. The leadership of our church is faithful to God’s word, and truly love the people. We have many ministries and programs that seek to meet the needs of those both inside and outside the church, and we are becoming more like the family that God intends us to be as each day passes. One thing I can say for sure, is that these things do not become part of the character of a church by accident.

So to what, or to whom, do we give credit? In short, it’s all by the grace of God, but the longer answer includes our part in the process. There are many passages we can go to for our mandate as a church, but 2 Timothy 3:16–4:3 seems especially fitting right now. Paul writes to Timothy—

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. (2 Timothy 3:16–4:3 (ESV)

We as a church know that the Bible is the revealed word of God, and as such, is the source material for our faith and practice (3:16). Whether it be from sermons from the pulpit, confrontation and encouragement from the counseling desk, discipleship classes, Sunday school classes, or prayer meetings, it is God through His authoritative word, that gives us both the authority, as well as the content to speak (4:1-2). This is a Bible believing and Bible preaching church.

We know that God has equipped us for the fruitful life of good works, the abundant life of fellowship with God and with each other, and for a life that is a witness to the world (3:17). Over this past year, there have been new opportunities for fellowship, for witnessing, and for discipleship, and there have been many happy to participate in each. We have so many classes to offer, for the children, youth, and adults, and for each, we have able, willing, and faithful teachers. This is a spiritually growing Church.

Furthermore, we are a church that recognizes the urgency in preaching, teaching, and sharing the gospel. This sense of urgency comes from the understanding that there is a lost and dying world out there, but not just “Out there.” These are our neighbors, our friends, and our family members that need Christ, and they are hopeless without a faithful presentation of the gospel. Paul says that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” We are a church that sees this happening in our own circles, and in our nation, and yet we know, and sometimes see, that God is still able to save. We are generous in giving to missions, both local and foreign, willing to go, and most importantly, faithful to pray. This is a missional church.

This has been a wonderful year for my family and me, and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve you. May we all continue to grow in Christ.

Pastor Jim Winslow

Why Does God Allow Christians to Suffer?

•2019/10/15 • Leave a Comment

Why does God allow us to suffer?

Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).  The 80-100 years we may live on this earth will certainly include times of suffering, and when we look back on it from eternity, we will see how God used each and every moment of it for our good and for His glory.  Whether it be suffering for our faith in Christ, sickness and decease, or due to sin, whether our own or someone else’s, God allows us to suffer for His good purpose.  This is why Paul can also say, “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3–5).  He does not say rejoice FOR the suffering, but IN the suffering, which is to say, as we go through it, we rejoice.  So, what then is the object of our rejoicing?  It is the same as the object of our our faith, it is Christ.  We can rejoice through our suffering because of the person and work of Jesus Christ, His redeeming us from sin, His working in our lives, and His promise of eternal life in heaven.  So, if we could put it all on a scale, we would find that “…the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).  So, keep your eyes on Christ through the suffering, focus on Him and His will and purpose for your life, keep your hands to the plow (Lk 9:62), because “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  

God is making something beautiful, in us, with us, and for us.  So, I am sure that God does not waste our tears, our pain, or our prayers.  Also, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).  The ultimate will of God is His own glory, and by His redeeming grace, and the work He does within us, we are a part of that.  May we continue to be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2).