Month: January 2013

I’m doing great things?

“God’s using you to do great things.”

That’s what the pastor said to me. He was my predecessor, visiting briefly to pick up mail that refused to be forwarded to his new address. (Yeah, he moved a good two years ago… some mail just refuses forwarding, you know?)

Anyway. He told me that. “God’s using you to do great things.”

And I want to change that. I want to alter that. I don’t want to accept what he says. I’d rather say, “God’s doing great things.” (more…)

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And God Said, “You are mine.”

Water. Jesus’s promise. New life. Adoption into God’s family. Just like that.

Last Sunday I got to baptize a young woman. This past Thursday, I got to baptize two young men and witness a third be baptized.

How cool is that?

You might remember Dilemma. Well, it’s still dilemma’ed, because the girl in question wasn’t there Thursday night, when all this went down. The teen center is only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so… well, we may have to address this again next week. But now we have a plan.

We’re going to treat her like an adult and let her have the final say. We will emphasize that she still needs to respect her mom, and it would be best if she was responsible and tell her mom what happened. At the very least, she needs to be an adult and take responsibility for her actions.

Yet, if this is what she wants… good. We will share with her the same blessings we have!

But I want to back up to Thursday. At the beginning of the teen center, the director pulled aside a few young men that he knew were interested in baptism and asked if they wanted it that night. When they replied in the affirmative, our plan rolled into action.

Five o’clock: the normal time for their Bible study. I joined them. The director walked through what baptism is, who should have it, the blessings that it brings. Like normal, the teens talked through the bulk of the thing and showed little outward respect. Yet, when it was time to do some back-and-forth questions and answers, they knew what was going on. They had been paying attention.

Five minute break. Then, upstairs into the sanctuary. I had filled the font with warm water. I’d turned on the sanctuary lights. I lit the altar candles and the paschal candle.

The what? (more…)

Dilemma

A young woman, a minor still well within her mother’s care, desperately wishes to be baptized. Her mother has forbidden it.

Now, do I:
1. Listen to Jesus’s command to “baptize all nations” and baptize this young woman anyway?
2. Listen to Jesus’s command to respect parents?

Things to keep in mind: 

This young woman has saving faith. The Holy Spirit, through God’s Word, has created a love of Jesus in her heart. She is forgiven. She has eternal life already. She is a member of God’s family. Baptism, while an awesome gift, does not convey anything she does not already have.

This young woman is certainly not despising the Sacrament; this is not a matter of her saying that the blessings of baptism aren’t that big a deal.

Yet, baptism has very real blessings, even when applied after faith already exists. It is not merely a symbol; I Peter says “Baptism now saves you.” Titus calls it a “washing of rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit.”

Complications in this case:

The young woman and her family will be moving in about a month to a place where it will be very difficult for her to get to a church to worship or stay connected with a face-to-face Christian family.

Her mother does want her baptized; however, the mom is Jehova’s Witness. Because they deny the Trinity, their baptisms are not real.

Mom has a decent amount of pull in the community. This young woman came into contact with the Gospel through our Teen Center, which does most of its work with teens who had never before heard the Gospel. If Mom finds out we went against her wishes, it is realistic (as I know her) that she would then speak badly of the center to other parents, directly limiting the amount of Gospel outreach we could do.

Saying no to this young woman could realistically cause offense to her in the Christian sense; it may hurt her faith. At the very least, it would cause a very real struggle for her that may be unnecessary.

Things to bring comfort:

This young woman has saving faith. This is not a question of whether or not she goes to heaven. It is a question of whether or not we can participate in giving her this solid reassurance, this sacrament, at this time.

It is God-pleasing to obey the fourth commandment and honor parents.

It is God-pleasing to baptize.

Either way, we win.

To wrap-up:

What do you suggest? Do you have any advice or questions? Help me out here!

You are accepted.

Hebrews 2:10-18 10 In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says,

“I will declare your name to my brothers;

in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again he says,

“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

(more…)