Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dan Williams of Edmund High Proves that Chivalry isn't Dead, Ladies

In wonderful contrast to Filthy Shades of Grey, one high school teenager, Eagle Scout Dan Williams, single-handedly put the "Saint" back into Valentine's Day by sending candy and a Valentine to ALL 1,076 ladies at Edmund Memorial High School in Oklahoma. Prepare to cry a little, ladies. It's a beautiful and clean story. 

And it doesn't surprise me that this young man is from The Sooner State. I lived in Oklahoma City while I attended Mid-America Bible College (now Mid-America Christian University).  They are a great people. As I've said for a long time, "Great is the God of the Oklahomans."

Monday, February 9, 2015

Criticism in the Ministry is Inevitable

Aesop (circa 620 BC–564 BC) was a Greek story teller who provided fables to teach morals.  There is one such fable that encourages me in ministry:

The Man, the Boy and the Donkey 
A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: "You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?" 
So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon theypassed a group of men, one of whom said: "See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides." 
So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: "Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along." 
Well, the Man didn't know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours and your hulking son?"
The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey's feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned. 
"That will teach you," said an old man who had followed them:   
"Please all, and you will please none."

I would phrase the moral of the story in another way: Christian worker, you will be criticized no matter what you do, so never fulfil your ministry to please people.  Only minister to please God.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 ESV)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Guidance for Baptism

Because my church is hosting its first baptism since I assumed the pastorate I thought it helpful to write this short instructional for our new converts.  We are of the Anabaptist/credobaptist/Believer's Baptism tradition:

Congratulations! You have repented of your sins and found forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Baptism is a public confession of your decision to become a follower of King Jesus. Baptism is a symbol of what happened when God “washed away” your sins through the blood (sacrifice) of Jesus. Also, it is a symbolic enactment of you being crucified with Jesus on his cross, buried with him in his tomb and being raised to new life with him in his resurrection. Baptism is a rite that we say is, “an outward sign of an inner faith.”

First, on the day of your baptism wear dark and heavy clothing. Pastor Larry will be wearing a blue-jean shirt and jeans under his Geneva robe that morning! Water causes clothes to cling to the body and become translucent so we wear dark clothing to prevent anything embarrassing from happening. :-)

Second, bring a towel, change of clothes and anything you will need after your baptism. We here at First Church baptize by immersion—we dunk you totally under water—which we believe is the normal/regular mode of baptism in the New Testament.

Third, when Pastor prompts you come in the water slowly. This allows the water to seep into your clothing. Also, while our baptistery is heated the water will get cooler the deeper you go. This is normal.

Fourth, Pastor Larry will makes some remarks. He will then ask you two questions, taken directly from the Bible:
...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. (Rom 10:9 ESV)

Pastor Larry will ask you:
  1. Do you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord?
  2. Do you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead?

You will answer “Yes,” to each of these two questions.

You are not “getting saved” in that moment. You already are saved. This is just an opportunity to witness to the crowd that you are publicly proclaiming yourself a Christian.

Fifth, after a short prayer Pastor Larry will say something like, “And we baptize this our sister/brother in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Sixth, relax and pinch your nose closed. You are in safe hands; let Pastor Larry and his helper hold you as they lean you back into the water, submerge you briefly, then pull you from the water. They will do all the work.

Seventh, walk carefully up the stairs. Someone will be there to help you get to where you need to be to change.

Finally, enjoy yourself! This is a great day of celebration for you and the whole church!