Baptism: what is it and why do we do it?

Dear Parents,

I’ve recently had the kids ask a lot of questions about what baptism is and why we do it. Due to this massive amount of questioning I decided to do a teaching on baptism.  Due to this teaching your kids may began asking to be baptized! Baptism is a wonderful part of our faith and step in our walk with God.

My general rule of thumb, however, is that I do not baptize kids unless the parents and I are both sure that the child knows what baptism is and that they are doing it for all the right reasons.  Kids being kids they will often want to do things simply because their friends or siblings are doing it. It is for this reason that I hold off on baptizing them, so to make sure they are doing it for their personal walk with God.

I’d like to encourage you to discuss with your children about the topic of baptism.  I’d like to encourage you to sit down and see where they are in their walk with the Lord and teach them about what baptism really means. Some of you may not be completely aware of what baptism is actually about and need help understanding it yourself.  This brings us to the second reason for writing this letter, as I’ve stated several times, it is my job as your Children’s Pastor to come along side you the parent and help with the spiritual upbringing of the kids. Below I have given you a little write up on what baptism is and what it means.

Take your time discussing this with your children over the next week or so. If you feel that your child wants to be baptized or you feel they are ready to be baptized then feel free to contact me.

First you should understand is that baptizing people is actually a commandment given to us by Christ himself.

 

Matt 28:19-20

19 ” Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

NASU

 

In the book of mark we find that Baptism appears to be part of our salvation process.

 

Mark 16:16
He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved;
NASU

So the question now is why? Why is this part of our walk with God. Part of this dates back to the Jewish tradition of Mikveh, which is a ritual cleansing process. In Jewish ceremonies the people of God would immerse themselves underwater (be baptized) as a way of becoming ceremonially pure or clean. It was also required for a gentile (non-jewish person) to go through the Mikveh to become Jewish. The idea was that they would go into the water as an idolater and when they came out of the water it was as if they were reborn as a Jew.

As Christians our baptism fulfills a very similar role. The concept of being pure before the Lord and being reborn is very much part of our baptism. In the book of Romans Paul writes,

Rom 6:4
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
NASU

When we go down into the water we are declaring that us as a sinner no longer exists [dead to sin/dead in Christ], much like the as the gentile went down he declared that his days as an Idolater who followed false gods was over. When we come back up it is a declaration that we are reborn with Christ as children of the Kingdom of God, just as the former gentile is now Jewish.

Now generally this is a one-time thing. You do at times see people get re-baptized after a long season of their life, when they have walked away from the Lord and they are now making a statement that they shall not fall back again. Some even do it later in life because they feel that when they did it the first time they did not truly mean it, whether it is because they were just faking their faith or because they honestly did not know what was happening.

The last part is why I am writing this letter. Parents, I encourage you to take some time and sit down walk your kids through the concepts of baptism, to do as our Lord commands in Matthew 28:19-20

19 ” Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
NASU

Go Deep,

Dallas

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Practice What You Preach

This past Sunday I was given the opportunity to preach in our monthly Renewal Service. For those of you who do not know what that is, once a month instead of having cell groups (small groups) the church comes together for a corporate service. Everyone from kids to adults. Generally Pastor Scott shares but since he is on vacation this week he asked me to do it.

So last night I taught about radically fulfilling your purpose as a Christian. If your interested in hearing it you can download it from our podcast (www.thpshreveport.com) in a few days. One of my points was that we have to get in to the word, because what we put in is what comes out. In one of my sub-points I pointed out that while I was telling people that they need to get rid of their TVs or Xboxes they do need to be careful about what they put into themselves.

Well last night I came home and to kind of relax a bit before I crashed I started to play this video game. Now understand I am a bit of a gamer. I’m not one of those obsessed got to play every moment of the day types but I do enjoy games. I had just gotten my hands on this particular game for my PC so I thought “why not play a level or 2?”

As I was playing it I had reached a level where things were just getting weird and very intense. I found myself beginning to get way to wrapped into it and finally had to just shut it off. Last night I had the strangest dream ever. It was very restless night for me.

When I woke up I thought about what I said last night about being careful with what you put into your heart and mind. Now again, I’m not saying that you need to throw out all your video games or go into your child’s PC/Mac and delete every game on their. But as I reflected on last night I realized that particular game for ME was not something in needed. So I got up, walked over to my computer and I completely removed it from my hard drive.

As ministers, if we are not willing to practice what we preach, if parents are not willing to practice what they preach, then what’s the point? We must lead by example. So there you go folks. I’ve made a step. How about you?

Curriculum… Good… or Bad…

So I’ve had a few questions lately about curriculum and Kids ministry. So I’ve decided to give my view on it.

If I may begin by telling you a story about Dr. Jeff Magruder. Dr. Magruder is a professor at Southwestern Assemblies of God University. One of his main focuses is proper exegetical preaching.  He passionately teaches students how to properly handle the word of God and bring forth THE biblical meaning in each passage presented. One bonus about him is that he’s not one of those professors who teaches techniques and theories that are out of date because he hasn’t been involved in ministry for 30 years, he is currently the Pastor of Abundant Life Church in Grand Prairie, TX. He is so good at what he does that he is frequently asked to speak at seminars and workshops on the topic of preaching. If you like you may follow this link to check up on his credentials. [link]

In the midst of one of these seminars he was teaching about crossing the bridge from the central idea of the text to the central idea of the sermon when a man stood up in the back of the room. The man straightened his jacket and stood very proudly. Respectfully he raised his hand to gain Dr. Magruder’s attention, and then asked,

“So tell me sir, at what point in the midst of all this preparation to actually expect God to show up in your sermon?”

You could tell that the seasoned minister thought he had Dr. Magruder in a corner. Without missing a beat Dr. Magruder smiled and responded,

“Sir, I don’t know about you, but I expect Him to be there from the beginning when I pray, up through the study of scripture and commentary, through the discovery of the CIT, through the discovery of the CIS, through my sermon on Sunday morning, and through the time when the people wrestled with His Holy word in their own hearts.”

Dr. Magruder has firmly grasped the fact of who God is. I’m proud to say that I am blessed to be surrounded by men of God who grasp the true nature of God for even my own pastor, Pastor Scott Ethridge of the Healing Place, has often been quoted saying,

“If we believe that God is omnipresent then tell me why God can’t tell me today what he wants to do in his people 3 months from now?”

In saying all this let me ask you this… why couldn’t God speak to you today about what you’re kids need to hear 3 months from now? For example, a few months ago God spoke to me about how our kids needed to learn about submission and authority.  As I began to pray and seek God about this I came across a set of curriculum sold by a well known church in Oklahoma on just that topic.  I believe that was a God thing. He directed me to a topic and then he directed me to a resource.

Perhaps that is people’s biggest hang ups on curriculum. They look at as ministry in a box. Don’t even need to prepare. Just open the book and say what they tell you to say.  But that’s not the case. Curriculum is a resource for you to minister to your kids. As I go through the lessons week by week I ask God,

“What is you want these kids to learn today? What is that needs to be highlighted in their lives?”

As I hear from God, which I’ve been listening since before I purchased the curriculum, I take the resources given me and I modify and shape and mold to make it for the kids of The Deep.  If the people from “Kids on the Move” came in they might see similar elements but the services would defiantly not be theirs.  What works in Tulsa doesn’t work in Shreveport. What works in the hood doesn’t work in the burbs.

So when you crack open that new HIllsong Kids Curriculum stop and think about your audience… who are you talking to? (by the way that’s one of the steps that Dr.  Magruder speaks about) Dig through the curriculum check their references. Not going to lie in the midst of my time here at THP as the Children’s Pastor, I’ve had to bring correction to different curriculums.

So in short, curriculum isn’t a bad thing. It’s only bad if you don’t take the time to really look at it and make it yours. You are not Church on the  Move (unless of course you are if so then… yeah thanks for visiting haha) you are you. Take the time to listen to God and what he has for your kids today, tomorrow and the day after.