Watching a new believer be baptized is always an encouragement to me. Last weekend we witnessed 5 people take that step: Pam Dove, Hannah Hall, Dominic Garner, Megan Delacruz and Jozlyn Royal. They all shared their testimony of coming to Christ.
Jesus gave two ordinances to the church: Communion “as often as you do this”, and Baptism, a one time testimony of identifying with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. They are called ordinances, because Jesus Himself told, or ordained, the disciples to do this. So, the church still does these to this day “in remembrance of Him”.
Some argue that you must be baptized in a church, others that you must be baptized outside, like Jesus did. Some argue that we should be baptized in Jesus’ name, others think it should be in the formula “the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”. I’m not sure God is that interested in those details, but rather the heart of the one being baptized.
I was baptized in the Butler Church of Christ. Where were you baptized?
The first funeral I officiated for was for an elderly man named Frick. He died just before Christmas, and his funeral was the day after Christmas. Due to the holidays, his minister was out of town. None of the other ministers in town wanted to do a funeral for someone they didn’t know during the holiday break, so Wendell Graffis, the director of the funeral home that is now Feller’s, asked if I would be willing to do this.
I explained that I had never done a funeral before, and he assured me that they would guide me through the process. He was confident I would do fine. So, I got some advice from my pastor, Rodney Hall, and did the funeral. And Wendell Graffis was right by my side the whole time, telling me where to stand and what to do.
That is the definition of discipleship, to stand beside someone else and guide them through the process. Jesus did that with His disciples, didn’t He? Who are standing beside? Start making a disciple.
Years ago Anita and I had a car that had worn tires, so we replaced them with a complete set of Michelin tires. At the time, Michelin’s were promoted as being among the highest quality tires. It was the first time I had reached up for quality. About 9 months later the tread on one of them began to separate, creating a bubble in the tread that made the tire bounce at driving speeds. I replaced the faulty tire with a warranty discount. A couple of months later the same thing happened with a second tire. Several months later it happened again with a third tire.
Suspecting 3 out of 4 was a good indicator that the 4th was also faulty, I just replaced the last one, too. Although the advertizing made me think I would get better quality, in actuality, it cost me more in time and money than if I had purchased a lesser brand.
Our perception sometimes can’t see deeper flaws. Sometimes we Christians clean up pretty good, but we have deep flaws in our character (sin) that we can’t see. Over the road of life those flaws separate out and cause our lives to bounce around. We need to repent and start over again. Make a fresh start with Jesus.
Nearly 300 years after Thomas a Kempis died, a captain of a slave ship found a copy of Kempis’ book, Imitation of Christ, on board his vessel. For want of something to do during the long voyage, Captain John Newton began reading the book, and it had a profound effect on his life.
Following the voyage Newton became critically ill. When he recovered he gave his life to Christ and began a new career – as a minister. Through his testimony Newton won many men to Christ including William Wilberforce, a member of Britain’s House of Commons. Wilberforce was the man responsible for putting a bill through Parliament that outlawed slave traffic in the British domain.
When you are tempted to minimize your contribution to the cause of Christ, remember that the final results are not in. The testimony of your life and the witness of your words and actions will continue to bear fruit long after your lifetime.
“So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I send it” (Isaiah 55:11).
My 3rd grader grandson, Reuben, was watching TV with me recently when he asked me what time it was. I pointed to the clock on the hearth and asked him what time it was. We have this antique wind-up clock that ticks and tocks and bongs on the hour. He studied that clock and I saw him counting with his lips as he tried to figure out what time it was. I thought to myself, ‘He’s in third grade and can’t tell time yet?’
Then it dawned on me: there are Roman numerals on that clock. He can’t tell what time it is because a third grader has never learned Roman numerals. It was all foreign to him. But he finally counted enough V’s , I’s and X’s to figure the time.
Understanding God can sometimes be as confusing as telling what time it was for Reuben. God’s ways are above our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Its all Greek to us. But the more we understand what is important to God, the more we can recognize what He’s doing in our lives. What time is it at your house?
Anita and I are getting to the age where we like to watch birds. We have a couple of thistle seed socks hanging (not very productive, yet), and a humming bird feeder (humming with hummingbirds). Although not invited, a barn swallow has built a nest under our deck atop a light fixture. I’ll wait until the babies are flying before I clean it out. I love to watch barn swallows swoop to attack flying bugs ahead of my mower.
I wonder what barn swallows did in northeast Indiana before there were any barns. Did they build in hollow trees or in boughs like other birds? In the 21st Century we may never know. But, it is amazing how God guides them to care for themselves.
There is an old hymn that says “For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me”. If God cares about sparrows and makes sure they always have a nest, shouldn’t we be as confident that He’ll always provide a place for us? Apply this to your insecurities today.
John chapter 9 is the record of Jesus healing a man born blind. When the religious leaders saw that the man was healed on the Sabbath Day, they launched a big investigation, found it to be true, and ex-communicated the blind man from the Temple. “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ ‘Who is he, sir?’ the man asked. ‘Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.’ Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him” (John 9:35-38).
Notice that Jesus “found Him“. Jesus wasn’t involved in the legal proceedings. But He heard about them and the sad results. Although he ignored the leaders who had taken this action, He went looking for the rejected. The formerly blind man was blind when Jesus healed him, so he really didn’t know who it was that did this for him. This was his first introduction to Jesus. And the man who could now see immediately began to worship.
Sometimes when Jesus opens our blind eyes, we can’t see His hand who did it. Its only after the fact that we see God’s involvement. But Jesus is always looking for us. Our pain and failure never blind Jesus.