Friday, June 20, 2014

Double Dipping in Baptism

I may be treading on some sacred and scary ground here, but as I pondered the thoughts about birdbath faith (Instigated by Richard Rohr) they led to me think about baptism and rebaptism.  In my path as a pastor and mom I have talked with those who were baptized as infants and longed to be rebaptised as adults.  They were sprinkled before they could remember, and desired to be immersed in the grace and love of baptismal waters.

Sometimes the parents were concerned or offended, as if the first baptism wasn't good enough, or wasn't real.  Most of the time it comes up when people have an intense encounter with God in a place and way they have never experienced before.  I tend to say, "Hallelujah!  Go for it.  If this is something you feel you need to experience I think God is fine with it."

It doesn't mean the infant baptism wasn't real.  It doesn't mean God's promises were any less that first time than what you will claim when you are re-baptized.  But I get it.  I understand how feeling that immersion, that take my breath away expereince, into the love and grace of God can be a powerful step in spiritual growth for some.

I acknowledge the need of some to say, "I want to decide to make this step."  For me it isn't a matter of right and wrong.  I don't think God is really upset with anyone on this issue.  I think the Father rejoices when his children declare I want to go deeper.  I want to dive into this faith walk/swim.  I doubt that God is offended because this(often) young person says, "For me the infant baptism wasn't enough.  I need to feel the living water of grace washing over me."

I have to admit I've been a little frustrated when during infant baptism we seem afraid to get the child wet.  I know the power of baptism has nothing to do with the amount of water, or the delivery system, but it does have a lot to do with symbolism.  

So however and whenever you were baptized I pray that you will have a fresh awareness of the living water that washes over us, cleansing us from sin and drenching us in the Spirit.  Take a spiritual swim!

John 7:37-39  "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me as the Scripture says, Streams of living water will flow from within him."  By this he meant the Spirit whom those who believed in him were later to receive.

ACts 2:38 Peter said,  "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Chrsit for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and all who are far off."

Romans 6:4  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

It's a Wild Ride

It is VBS week here at Central Park Church here in Holland, MI.  ("It's a Wild Ride" comes from one of the songs.)  I am finding myself in a very strange role...I'm just hanging out.  Wow, after so many years of planning, recruiting, heading up and loving the kids this is a strange place to be.

However, I haven't been in Holland much on the weekends lately, and Diedrick and Annika are with us for the next month, so I didn't sign up to help, and have really enjoyed just hanging out, watching what God is up to.

The VBS is labeled as being for 4 year olds through 6th grade, but in reality it is a discipleship camp for all ages!  I love watching the interactions.

The other day Annika(2nd grade) was talking about Ellie, who is going into 7th grade.
Diedrick(4th grade):  "Is that the one who touched your nose?"
Annika:  "Yup, and then I touched her nose."  Annika loves Ellie!

There are middle-schoolers all over this place being the helpers.  It is a wonderful way to engage these youth in the mission of the church.  They continue to learn as they hear the stories, sing the songs, perform in the skits, lead the games, and watch the adults as well as the children.  They are the church!

So you could say the VBS is for 4 year olds through youth.  But then there was the conversation I had with one of the moms who said, "I've been a member of this church all my life and have probably been watching Jim and Marla serve for 40 years, and they are still dong VBS."  The 65+ year olds are modeling what belonging can look like for the 40 year olds.

Lynn, who retired in January talked about how much she enjoys being the point person for VBS, not just the week it happens, but working with people in preparation for weeks ahead of time.  Her gifts are being used in powerful ways...and she is loving it!

AND the KIDS!  They model for us the exhuberance and energy of young life.  They teach us as we see them building new relationships, opening themselves up as the week unfolds. They are discovering who God is and how much they are loved. There are a lot of kids who aren't from this congregation, so many start out timid, a little unsure of what is going on, but as the week goes on the place comes alive, and I'm sure God loves hanging out with us too.

As I watch I see this as a place of belonging; a place where all are welcome and needed; a place where love is shared between the generations, and where we celebrate God's grace and goodness as we grow in folloing Jesus.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thy Will Be Done

Have you noticed that we live in a world driven by fear?  This is currently one of my greatest pet peeves!  Even as Christians we seem to believe that if we aren't afraid and worried we aren't paying attention to what is happening in the world.  We just don't care.


How often do you find yourself trying to be light in a conversation or situation where everyone is focusing on the latest bad news...which is constant in the media?  I don't believe 24/7 news channels have been a blessing in our lives!  If we are defeated by the fear of the world how will we bring HOPE?  And we need to be hope-bearers, light bringers, peace makers, love lavishers!

This weekend seemed particularly bad.  I heard comments like:  "I fear for my grandchildren.  I won't be around long, but I worry about my grandkids and great-grandchildren."  "The world is getting worse and worse."  "You don't dare go anywhere anymore."  And it isn't just the elderly saying these things.

I am not trying to tell you this world isn't a mess, because it is, always has been.  What I am trying to say is that I believe we have to filter all the news we hear through the trustworthy Word of God.  Even in Christian media we are often told that the world will just keep getting worse and worse and the good news is that then Jesus will come back, and the rest will be destroyed.

So I've been wrestling with what Jesus means when he tells us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."  Jesus tells us this is how we are to pray.  Is he kidding us? Conning us?  Giving us a useless prayer?  If there is no hope that God wants to work his will in this world, and bring His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven why are we told to pray this way?  So I refuse to believe it..I refuse to believe God has disappeared from the scene...God has left us to our own ruin.  I believe God is still King of kings and Lord of lords!  I believe God loves this lost and broken world and has engaged us to follow Him into making it a place of the kingdom.

So I want to invite you to stoke the fire that burns within you...the fire of the Spirit of God.  I invite you to step it up on the radical christian continuum.  Regular won't cut it!  Let's be radical hope bearers, light-bringers, peace-makers, love-lavishers.  Let's believe, let's get to work!  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in be it Lord!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ocean Waves

(It will be helpful to read my previous post first.)

There are friends in my life that are hurting so much right now!  I love them dearly and want to be able to whisk away the pain.  But this I know...the pain is doing redemptive work.  And deeply redemptive work often means deeply redemptive pain.

Scripture is clear over and over again that our suffering is of great value...WHAT??  Yup, our suffering is of great value.  God has no intention of wasting our suffering.  Does that mean that suffering is brought on by God?  Not necessarily, but God knows our suffering and uses it to works God's will.

In my friends I see God revealing layers and layers of pain that he is healing.  God loves us so much that sometimes he allows us to stay in the pain until the healing is deep, and real, and life changing, and powerful.

These friends are not living at the level of birdbath faith (See the previous post).  They have been knocked over by the ocean waves.  They are being tossed and turned by scary waves of grace and love...redemptive waves knocking them off their feet...BUT daddy is there!  The Father God is there to scoop them up, calm the waves and carry them to shore.  They will not be washed out to sea.

There are so many passages of Scripture that come to mind:  Peter walking on the water, the storm where Jesus calms the wind and sea, Romans 5:3-5, which says, "We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us." Also James 1:2-4, and I could go on and on.  I haven't even touched the Psalms or Job..

Remember our hope does not disappoint us, because, our hope is built on nothing less that Jesus' blood and righteousness!

I Peter 5:10  After you have suffered a little while, God himself will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power forever and ever.  So be it, Lord!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


My friend Gerri Buteyn is an amazing artist, specializing in the ordinary things in life, especially sparrows.  One of her paintings is or several sparrows splashing around in her birdbath...splish splash!

Most of us have watched children play in a kiddie-pool in the backyard.  We have a great picture of Caleb occupying most of the space in Lilah and Lika's little pool.  Delighted smiles as they play in 6 inches of water with Uncle Caleb...splish splash!

The last time we were in Australia and went to the beach Luka was 2 1/2.  His smile was huge as he darted in and out on the edge of the waves calling out, "I'm swimming in the ocean!  I'm swimming in the ocean!"  A big wave sneaked up and knocked him over.  Daddy scooped him up.  The next couple of dashes were a little more tentative, but soon he was back at it, full on!  Water can get you, but Daddy is here.

I'm thinking about my relationship to all things spiritual:  my intimacy with God, my relationships with fellow journiers, my impact on the community and world, my care of creation, my prayer life, my obedience to the Spirit, my love and care for me, this temple of the Holy Spirit, my love for all God calls me to love! (I guess that means all of life...hmmm)

I wonder if I am settling for birdbath faith.  Enough water when I'm hot and dry.  It's fun to splash around in community with friends on occasion.  A nice, safe foot in the water of faith.

Or, is a kiddie-pool faith enough to satisfy, not my desires, but the desires God has for me, and all God's people.  Does God want us to do more than sit in a pool that doesn't allow us to stretch our spiritual legs, dive into the lifegiving water...just enough water to cool us off when we are hot and dry, but...

What does life look like when we run into the waves of the ocean of God's callings and blessings, and challenges, and world.  I feel challenged to drink deeply of the life-giving dive deeply into the life God calls me to live.  Birdbathes are fine for the sparrows, but God has greater challenges before us!  We'll need the oceans of His love available for us.  Happy Summer!!