Baptism: Biblical Waterboarding

Posted on August 19, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Spiritual Growth, Theology | Tags: , , , , , , |

As a person with swimming skills a step above the doggie paddle, I always had a mild heart attack anytime a friend dunked me in the pool. Even if it was 3 feet of water, panic always briefly gripped my heart. So, a few weeks ago when our church was baptizing people, I realized it’s a bit ironic I look forward to watching others get ‘dunked.’ And when you think about it, whether it’s a little sprinkle on the forehead for an infant or complete immersion, baptism is kind of a weird ritual. Why do we do it? Where did it come from?

I always assumed baptism was invented by a rugged bug-eating-camel hair-wearing Hebrew (i.e. John the Baptist) shortly before Christ’s ministry began. But you know what they say when you assume…Turns out the practice went back a bit farther than that.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a gas station bathroom? That’s the feeling the Jews had about Gentiles (anyone that isn’t Hebrew). As such, when a Gentile coverts to Judaism, they have to be made clean in a ceremony called ‘proselyte baptism.’

Enter John the Baptist. The controversial thing about John was that he wasn’t just baptizing Gentiles – he was calling out the Jews too. He claimed the Messiah was coming and that even the Jews were unworthy to receive him  (Matthew 3:1-12).  To be made clean, they needed to repent and turn to God. Think about it as reverse water-boarding: you confess the Truth and then get the water treatment.

This of course raises the question – why would Jesus, a man without sin, need to be baptized? You could write a book on that topic, but in short, Christ had to submit the Law perfectly. By being baptized he was obeying a command from God’s prophet (John the Baptist) and setting an example for us to follow.

After Jesus rose, he told his followers to go make more disciples, baptize them, and teach them to observe all that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).  Where as the baptisms John administered were in preparation for the Messiah, the baptism Christ commands us to do marks the beginning of a life following him. In him we are made clean and made new, not by water, but by Spirit (Matthew 3:11).Christians recognize, though we are not worthy to receive him, Christ bore our sins so that we could be made new, clean, and righteous before God which is signified through baptism.

You might be saying, “I get that baptism is important (after all it is commanded by a locust-eating man of the wilderness and God incarnate), but why do some churches dunk babies and others dunk adults? Can you go to heaven if you don’t get baptized?” In the next post, I will explain some of these differences and why my kids haven’t been baptized …yet.

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Olympic “Lawn Care”

Posted on August 4, 2012. Filed under: Culture, In the News, Relationships, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

What’s your favorite summer Olympic sport to watch? I’m pretty cliche enjoying gymnastics, swimming, and track. I know everyone says it, but what these people can do with their bodies is incredible. Obviously they’ve been given certain talents, but the dedication that they have to developing their skill is mind blowing. I just want to be able to consistently catch a frisbee.

This got me thinking about my lawn. Stick with me, this is going somewhere. The first thing I notice about a house is the lawn, which can tell you something about the tenant. For example, lawn gnomes usually indicate someone has an unhealthy fascination with Tolkien books. But if it’s freshly cut, edges are trim and clippings have been blown away, someone takes a lot of pride in their work. Like olympic athletes, a person who takes care of their lawn dedicates their time and energy for a higher purpose.

Ok, so not exactly the same thing. But both do require time and dedication to achieve the maximum desired outcome. In fact, almost everything in life is like this. Going to the best college requires dedication throughout high school.  Getting promoted means dedication in the workforce. Having a great marriage means dedication in your relationship.  In effect, you reap what you sow, whether its your garden or throwing a javelin.

The Bible says, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6:7-8).

Decay and death? Isn’t that a bit too extreme? Not really when you think about it. Why do marriages end in divorce?  Why are so many of us carrying a few too many pounds? Why do we go through highs and lows in our walk with God? Because we allow it to happen.

Whether it’s relationships, our health or our careers, things falter and eventually ‘die’ because without willful thought, we’re always going to turn inward, seeking to gratify ourselves. We naturally neglect what we shouldn’t, letting life simply happen to us and to our relationships. Instead, we need to invest time and resources to that which matters most. Take time to pray. Have an uninterrupted conversation with your friend. Read a book on improving your marriage even if it’s going great. Practice hand-eye coordination with your toddler…

Craig Groeschel wrote, “When the grass is greener on the other side, it’s time to start watering your lawn.”  The next time you’re admiring an athlete’s skills, another couple’s intimacy or maybe just their lawn, ask yourself, “Am I sowing what I expect to reap? Is it time I water my lawn?”

 

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Why I’ll Be Getting A Rock For My Anniversary

Posted on August 1, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Relationships, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

This time of year is very special to me or a few reasons. My husband and I were married August 4th, our son was born August 11th (no, not the same year), but more importantly for my readers, I started The Renewed Way on August 1st last year. It’s our one-year anniversary! And you know what that means – its time for a rock. A really, really big one.

Unfortunately for the men, rocks are biblical gifts. Unfortunately for the women, I’m not talking about diamonds. I’m talking about the sedimentary kind (the most emotional of the 3 types of rocks).

After Moses died, Joshua led the Hebrews into the land of Canaan, but before doing so had to cross the Jordan River (a mile wide in flood stage at the time). Miraculously, God dried up the river to let the Hebrews pass on dry land. While God seems to be a fan of water, it appears He’s not so much a fan of getting wet. When everyone had finished crossing, the Lord commanded one man from each of the 12 tribes pick up a stone from the river bed and place it where the Hebrews camped that night. So Joshua told his 12 leaders:

“Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:4-7).

God wants us to commemorate the important events in our lives, and it would appear marking these events with inanimate objects as a reminder is biblical (provided you aren’t financing it, of course). We are to share the celebration with others so they too know how awesome the achievement is. But most importantly, we need to remember that the achievement isn’t about you. It’s about your wife. But seriously, it’s about God and what He has done in your life.

Notice Joshua didn’t say, “Yeah these stones are to remind your kids that I was an awesome general” or “These are to reaffirm that I’m still committed to sharing the next X years with you” or “Here’s a nice stone to buy me some wiggle room for a little while.” He gave all attribution, rightly so, to God and the miraculous work that He had done. Anniversaries shouldn’t be about all that we’ve accomplished over a period of time; they should be about all that God has accomplished in our lives.

The Lord has blessed me with 5 years of marriage to an amazing husband and through this relationship He has taught me a bit about patience, faithfulness and of course, love. Through motherhood, He has given me a whole new appreciation for patience, gentleness, and certainly plenty of joy (Galatians 5:22-23).

As for this blog, over the past year God has blessed me more than I ever could have imagined, and it’s my prayer that some of my posts and maybe a few of my bad jokes have blessed you as well.

PS – Mike, you can get me a rock for our anniversary as long as it’s one so big you have to carry it on your shoulders.

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