Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day 19- A Testimony First

We had a baptism at our church today.  A young lady gave her life to Christ last Wednesday evening and today she was baptized by immersion as a picture of her faith. 

Baptism is not a first for me or our church.  I've been baptized and I've baptized others. Our Youth Pastor baptized the young lady today. He is the one that the Lord used to share Christ with her and help her to come to Christ.  It was beautiful.  Something malfunctioned with the heaters that we use to heat the water and so it was also very cold water that she was baptized in.  However, our Youth Pastor and the young lady were hardy (one literally) souls and persevered through the chilly waters.

As I was praying about the service today, I thought about baptism.  We usually baptize right at the beginning of the service or right at the end.   I prayed about what would make this more meaningful.  How about if we shared testimonies on the meaning of baptism.  I asked the people to share a testimony (a true story) about how baptism affects them or a meaningful baptism they've experienced. That was my first.  I have never asked people to share publicly a testimony about baptism.  Preachers are usually a bit reticent about asking people to share publicly in a worship service.  The fear is that nobody will say anything and so you have this "stare-off" wondering who is going to give in first- the preacher or the people. The preacher figures if he waits long enough somebody will say something.,  The people think if they sit there quietly long enough the preacher will move on to something else. Hopewell church is very good about sharing when given the opportunity. That is not much of a fear for me. Still, that is a pretty specific testimony to ask for.

There were some beautiful stories shared.  People shared about others they had seen baptized that were related to them, or had some real fears about baptism or were disabled and still managed to be baptized.  I hope tonight that you'll revisit when you were baptized (if you never have been I encourage you to give it some thought and talk with someone about it) and thank God that Jesus died for you and rose again on the third day.  He made it possible for you to have your sins forgiven and to become a follower of Jesus.

After church, a lady reminded me of a story that a missionary told us one time. There was a man who had given his life to Christ where this guy was a missionary.  This man participated in all the Christian activities he was encouraged to with the exception of baptism.  The missionary could not figure out why.  He was very involved in growing in Christ, but just would not be baptized.  Finally, one day he said he would be baptized.  The missionary could tell this was a great struggle but could not understand why.  So, they went to a river and he baptized this man.  When the man came up out of the water, he asked if that was it.  The missionary said yes.  The man replied, "I thought you were going to drown me."  Somehow, the meaning of buried with Christ in baptism got misconstrued in the translation from English to his language and he thought he was literally going to be drowned.  That's total commitment to Jesus. I've been preaching on the subject "Going All In and All Out for Jesus." That guy really did go all in.  I hope that encourages you in your life with Christ today.

All in and all out for the abundant life


3 things I thank God for today.
1. Inside baptisteries in January
2. Missionaries in persecuted countries
3. The mission team from Hopewell that is in Haiti reported that they had a great worship service in Haiti today and that God is moving

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