Archive for September, 2010

Talking About Baptism…

Posted: September 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

Maybe it just me but…does it seem to you that the topic of baptism is rarely really discussed in churches today? Think about it…Someone sees a baptism for the first time, discusses it with a friend, who refers them to a minister who talks to that individual one-on-one. Though this scenario is all well and good, I sit here going, “If baptism is SO great, why aren’t we telling the world about it?”

I just completed the last week of our 3-week Journey Baptism Class, open to all of the families at our church and offered twice a year. Participants are REQUIRED to attend all 3 classes, attend with a parent and actively complete the homework assigned AS A FAMILY. Its funny how a 3 week class on the topic of salvation can generate so much discussion.

What ages should come?
Just because they come doesn’t mean they should be baptized.
What kind of homework?
Can I share my faith in God at school/work?
Where’s the bathroom?

Okay…seriously…it just goes to show you how much the real topic of salvation or perhaps the answer to lifes hardest question, “How can I know if I am going to heaven?” is failed to be OPENLY and PUBLICLY answered in the midst of today’s fast paced, give it to me in 3 simple steps ideas.

I have the steps to salvation we talked about in our class for anyone who may want them…in fact, I’ll give you the entire 3 week outline…just send me a message!

I LOVE to hear people talk about that step of baptism (one of 6 of the steps in total by the way). I love public baptism. I love the excitement…the planning…the yearly anniversary.

A student at our church even wrote a paper regarding her baptism experience. I posted it below, exactly as she sent it to me…As you read ask yourself if baptism is really talked about and celebrated in your church. It makes PBCC a better place…get excited!

I positioned myself timidly on the staircase of the baptistery, awaiting the cue to go down. I stood saturated with a combination of anticipation and apprehension. Suddenly, the church filled with people, they roared with exhilaration, and boomed with the clapping of hands. I slowly walked down the steps of the baptistery. The water once warm with depth felt much colder, as I walked deeper into the waters, I stood before everyone.
Looking out at the whole youth room, I noticed it was cram packed with the members of the congregation. The people in the room were filled with enthusiasm and excitement. Bowing my head as an elder prayed, I felt the body of Christ coming together. A great peace flooded through my whole body and, my eyes filled with tears. Surrendering, I knew I was finally ready to summit myself to the will of God. 
Then my Anela said those beautiful words, “I now baptize you in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy spirit.” As she grasped my hand, I plugged my nose as I fell in slow- motion into the water. The warmth washed over my face, and flowed over my whole body as I fell back. What was only a matter of seconds felt like hours, a lifetime in slow-motion. 
As I was raised back up, the people in the room cheered and filled the air with the singing of praises of Amazing Grace. The smell of flowers filled my nostrils, while my tears flowed down my face as my Anela hugged me. Sopping wet I timidly walked back up the steps of the baptistery, this time beaming with happiness. This was the birth of my new life, the first day of the rest of my life. 

Once a month, I like to take my kids to another church in the area to see how they “do” church. I usually go on a Saturday evening, or Sunday evening…sometimes to a special event…so far, I’ve seen 6 churches in the area…some I’ve visited more than once, others I think I’ll only visit once.

The reason I take the kids with me on these adventures is two-fold…1. It gives daddy time to study for his classes and  2. It helps remind me of what its like to be new at church. I fill out the visitor card (sometimes making up the info), I go through the check-in for my kids and try to find the rooms (many times easier said than done), I sit and try to “blend in” to the crowd…

Have you ever been “Church Shopping”? It seems to be a cripplingly new term that is redefining the ideas centered around church membership. You see, it becomes more of a game to see which church has all the “goods” in town…which church offers the best programing, the best experience, the songs I like, the people I enjoy…whew…when did church get SO complicated? Yet, every time I go to a different church I go through the mental checklist in my brain too…sometimes even venturing into the comparison trap, “What do they have that we don’t” (swallow hard)…

The truth is, the more I go to different churches, the more I see why it is SO hard to get the lost into any church walls. It feels uncomfortable, every church has a routine (which outsiders don’t know) and many churches now don’t publicize their core beliefs…so many people have no idea what they are walking into.

Yet, I keep going to other churches once a month, as uncomfortable as it may be for one reason…I want to remember MONTHLY the feeling of being “new” and initially lost (at least lost physically in a sense of a new building, new people, etc). It makes me rethink ministry every month in a whole new way and how to make families feel “at home” from the moment they enter.

I want families to find God…experiencing Him through worship, service, making friends that they can do life with and plugging in to our ministry that is so much bigger than four walls. I know when families find God, they will find roots and grow. So many churches offer a great “show” but life is too short for entertaining religion. The true seeker is craving relationships…they want to connect.

Oh the things I learn through these experiences…and the ministry networking that has occurred has been great too!

God, help me never forget the feeling of being lost…for it was there that You saw me for who I was and envisioned who I am becoming. I am Yours.

Serve More, Think Less…

Posted: September 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

Its so easy to get caught-up in the whirlwind of our imperfect, complicated little worlds. Here I sit, its midnight and my mind is STILL racing trying to figure out if both boys bags are packed for our trip tomorrow…did I change the laundry? Did I get everything prepared for Sunday? Can I find a used computer for our check-in system? I need a haircut…we need more money….I really don’t want to get the dumb oil changed!

Ahem…

Then it hit me…while rewriting our brochure for visitors, spreading the details of our children’s ministry, I wrote the typical “Love God, love people” phrase (why not…all the cool churches are doing it…right? Hence hence Southland and Willow Creek…not to mention Saddleback…).

Yet it is true, isn’t it? Have you visited the verses behind the mission craze?

Matthew 22:34-40:

The Greatest Commandment

 34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

 36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'<sup class="footnote" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em;" value="[b]”>[b]38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'<sup class="footnote" style="font-size: 0.75em; line-height: 0.5em;" value="[c]”>[c40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
One of my passions is serving the poor. I’ll be deathly truthful here…I haven’t really served in this area for years. My mind blasts back to mission trips in Mexico, Arizona and Jamaica where kids would come running in every direction, most not wearing shoes, most not aware of their next meal or even where they would sleep that night…but they didn’t care. They knew hope had come and for the next few days they could use us, our little group of adults and teens, as a temporary escape. I liked being that sense of hope…but every time I returned back to my little, chaotic world, for the next few weeks, nothing seemed to matter as much. I was able to stay focused on what was important…simply loving God and loving people. 
As I hold my boys, I can’t shake off the feeling that I’m getting older and they are growing right before my eyes. Life is quick and we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Don’t let the BIG circumstances of your little world lose your focus on the reality that God wants to use you RIGHT NOW…
With that, I’m looking for a serving opportunity to the poor in my community…something OUTSIDE of the security of the church walls. I’m not sure exactly where this will end up, but I feel excited…and I know I’ll be in a much better place than my little world that can totally move on fine without me 🙂 
We will see where this goes….