Tag archive: Scripture
Buried in the waters of Baptism, raised again to new life in Christ!
Those were the words I heard going under and coming out of the cool water on the first weekend in June. But more than the words in my ears and the water rushing over my body, I felt something that I rarely ever do. I felt the Holy Spirit moving and speaking to me. The words “Well done good and faithful servant” played out in my head as I was briefly transported away from this earth and back again in the few seconds it took to go under the water and come up out. I honestly and truly believe I died and came back in some sort of literal sense..not symbolically. A few inches under the cool water I felt a peace, calmness and beauty that cannot be described and most of all I felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy One right there with me the whole time. “Supernatural” comes to mind. And I was COMPLETELY caught off guard by the whole experience.
Romans 6:3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?
In the moments leading up to the actual “dunking” (as I’ve affectionately called it) I was thinking about how I should be feeling about it. In fact, for days prior to the big moment I was struggling with how I should feel. I was saved as a child and I’ve always known Christ was my Lord; my salvation has never been in question for me. But being raised in the Methodist church where people are “baptized” as babies, it never crossed my mind that I should do it again as an adult even though I’ve been attending evangelical Baptist churches for the past 10 years or so. In these churches we are taught that being baptized after salvation is an act of obedience and a testimony to the world that we are believers in Christ. While baptism itself is not a prerequisite to salvation, this simple act is one that Christ himself asked us to do as a demonstration of our faith. Even Jesus himself was baptized – and there was certainly no question about his eternal home.
Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Mark 1:4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.
Matthew 3:15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
Soooo….what to feel? I knew in my head that I should do it, my church was requiring it as a part of my membership, and I had no good reason why I hadn’t done it before. So there I stood, waist deep in the water along side hundreds of fellow believers and over 30 people who were in the process of being baptized themselves and suddenly something sparked. I watched intently as the children’s pastor baptized the very children that he had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with. Kids that he taught for years and prayed over daily. Those precious little ones who heard the Word and were convicted by it were joyfully doing the thing I had avoided doing for decades. While watching each child go under and come up I was overcome by emotion. How wonderful must this pastor feel to actually baptize the people (in this case many children) with whom he shared the love of Christ? My heart broke once again for all the people who I had failed to share the Good News with, and that in one day this pastor welcomed more people into the kingdom than I had done in my entire lifetime. I renewed my conviction that my sole purpose in life is to share the love of Christ – all other things are insignificant if they don’t ultimately aid me in that intention.
If nothing else happened that day I would have gone home feeling that being baptized was worth it for that conviction alone. But something else did happen. I was not prepared for and I did not ever suppose that the Holy Spirit would invade my personal space during any moment of the day. After I came up out of the water I gleefully waded around to others for jubilant hugs of congratulations. I tried to put into words what I heard and felt. I couldn’t come up with the right words or descriptions, but one of our pastors did for me – He said I was Obedient.
Obedience – – YES, that’s it!! That’s what I had done that I had failed to do for such a long time. And even though my salvation was never in question, I had not been obedient to the calling of Christ in this one area. I had no idea how much it pleased the Lord and how much His pleasure would spill over to my very soul for such a simple act as proclaiming Jesus as my savior with my lips and then being dunked under the water for a few seconds in public. Being baptized isn’t about me or doing some ritual to join a church, it’s about being obedient. And for that alone my Father is well pleased with me. My husband put it best when he said, “If it’s good enough for Jesus to do, then it’s good enough for me.” I walked away a changed person that day and I will never be the same again!
Romans 6:4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Galatians 3:27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.
I was very blessed to be asked to walk the runway in an eco-friendly fashion show this past weekend during all the Earth Day festivities. I love fashion and the whole idea of using eco-friendly techniques and up-cycling vintage products to create garments and accessories makes me super-duper happy. It was a joy and a thrill to be a model for this particular show. The people involved are conscious of the environment and are very giving and loving individuals. Every designer I met and every person I spoke with glowed with their love for nature. And…I’m right there with them! Love me some nature!
Yet by the time I got to the second day of events and made an appearance at the outdoor festival which took up several city blocks of downtown Raleigh, something that was gnawing at me in a teeny-tiny way suddenly took on a ravenous appetite and began to devour my heart. I passed by a statue of a person posed with it’s arms wide open, face turned up towards the sky, and clearly in a position of worship. I looked around me and saw a myriad of birds, animals, people, celestial bodies, and all forms of created things replicated in some fashion (paper mache, statues, artwork, etc). And as I looked around some more, I saw rapture and awe on the faces of festival goers as they gazed upon the re-created things. Yep, I was right square in the middle of over seventy thousand people WORSHIPING. Worshiping not just created things – but RE-created things (can we say idolatry?). And I could almost feel the contempt for the CREATOR of the organic creations in the midst of all this “love.”
Whoa. Eye-opening and soul-baring moment. I needed to leave. It was time to sort out how to reconcile my love of nature with my love of the one and only God Almighty who created the earth, sea, heavens, and all things in them!
Let’s be clear about something. I firmly believe God calls us to be good stewards of the resources and creatures we are coexisting with. I do NOT advocate any practice that harms the environment! Yet at the same time, I fully recognize that it is my Father God who deserves my adoration and my worship – NOT his creation. So how do I share my love for God and not alienate/offend my environmentally conscious yet utterly lost friends? This is what scares me!! I don’t want people to dislike me and I certainly don’t want to say or do anything that would make them hate the Lord!
So I dug into the Scripture. Romans chapter one really spoke to me this morning. The Bible is very clear about the dangers of worshiping the created rather than the creator. I talked about this with my husband, prayed over it, and then I went to church with all of this burning on my mind. And in the middle of the teaching, the pastor said, “If all we do is love people (and not share the truth of the Gospel), then we are just making them happy on their way to hell.”
OK, so I’ve now feel both led and commanded to share what I’ve been thinking and feeling – fear be damned! If someone gets offended, then I just have to take that chance. I would hate to have someone whom I loved dearly but was too afraid to offend, look at me and say, “You knew this and you NEVER told me?” as they stand in judgement when the Lord sentences them to hell. So here goes…. (All bold and italicized emphasis is mine, New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica)
Let me share Acts 14:15-17 from this morning’s teaching:
15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”
And here is what stood out to me from Romans (1:16-25,32)
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
BAM! STOP RIGHT THERE!! Is that me???
Do I continue to do such things and approve of those who practice them? ………………………………………….Um………no? (There’s that fear of offending people creeping in.)
Wait…let me use my big girl voice and be more definitive – NO. I do not!
(let the de-friending and nasty remarks commence while I duck and cover…)
Are you still here? whew….. Ok, well, then let me just sum it all up with some conclusions I’ve drawn about myself. After pondering, praying, and reading this morning, I’ve decided that I must take care that I keep perspective on my own environmental and animal rescue efforts so that I don’t get caught up in inadvertent worship of the creation. I must continue to immerse myself in scripture and surround myself with fellow believers so that I can be an effective witness to the great and awesome mercy of Christ; that He died for us while we were still sinners! And I must set my self apart from others who choose to worship the created rather than the creator. But by being set apart I don’t mean that I should abandon or remove myself from having relationships with folks outside the church – I need to be an example of Christian love and Godliness in every circle I am involved with. And I need to be involved in every kind of social circle available to me so that I have the opportunity to share the gospel with everyone and all may come to know the saving grace only offered by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.Details