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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Mark 1:1-8 Expanded

We’ve recently started a new series on Wednesday Nights in The Deep.  We are taking a journey through Mark!

In a previous post in my series on “study tools” [click here to see posts from this series] I mentioned a book called Harmony of the Gospels which takes the synoptic Gospels and puts them up to each other so you can get a fuller picture of the life of Jesus.  This book has been instrumental in this series. the following are my notes from last wednesday night. Tonight we will be going over Mark 1:9-13 should be fun!

Mark 1:1-6

1:1 Preaching of John the Baptist

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU,
WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY;
3 THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS,
‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD,
MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.'”
4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

[Matt 3:6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.]

6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore  a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.

Matt 3:7-10

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 ” Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘ We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

NASU

Luke 1:10-17

And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” 11And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to (share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”  12And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”
14Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”
15Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ,  16(John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  17“His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” ~NASU

Thoughts on the Passage

So what can we hope to glean from this expanded view of Mark 1:1-8?

In Matthew 3:8 we find the wording, “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” This statement suggest a level of responsibility on the part of the people, especially when you add in verse 9’s warning of just expecting God to simply save them just because they are Jewish.  Flash this concept forward to our side of the cross now….

We as Christians need to actually behave as Christians. When we get baptized we are making a public declaration that we have repented of our sins and are serving Christ.  Therefore we should act accordingly. Chris has done the supernatural work of replacing your unrighteousness for His righteousness, we should in turn honor that through our actions. This concept is further strengthened in James 2:18

I will show you my faith by my works.

The Wrap Up

So I ended the class by challenging the kids to act out their profession of faith. To act like Christians. I challenged them to be the example in their class rooms by honoring their teachers, by studying, by respecting others around them, and yes even telling fellow classmates about Christ.

Rubik’s Cubes, The Cross, and Answers.

Welp it’s middle of the night and I can’t sleep. Probably has something to do with the random 3 hour nap I took when I got home today. So I’m lying in bed thinking to myself, “hmm what should I do?” That’s when it hit me! I should totally update this blog and let you the wonderful readers know what we talked about Sunday morning!

For those of you who want a little more outline-ish feel I’ll put titles 🙂

The Challenge

I started off challenging 3 of the kids to solve these bad boys. That’s right folks Rubik’s Cubes! The wonderful, mind blazing, headache causing 3D puzzle that hit the scene in 1974 as Magic Cube and then re-packaged in 1980 at the now well known name Rubik’s Cube!

I told the kids they could not take it apart or take the stickers apart. I also gave them 5 minutes. 🙂 They went to work doing their very best to solve their puzzle. We had other kids cheering them on while one of my assistants (Adrian, aka one of the best guitar players EVER) gave commentary of the event! Then at the 3 minute mark I walk up with my own Rubik’s Cube! This thing is old! It was my grandfather’s Rubik’s cube and I’m overtly confident it’s probably one of the original ones.

The race was one! We were all spinning and twisting and twirling the cubes attempting to solve it. By the end of the 5 minutes sadly none of them were able to do it. Some of them had a pretty decent start and looked like they were on their way to getting it… others… not so much. We all clapped and congratulated them for their efforts.

Now some of you are wondering, “Dallas, did you solve the Rubik’s Cube?” The correct answer would be… yes. Yes I did. A friend of mine back in high school taught me. Now some of you may be thinking that wasn’t right. Thinking that it might have lowered the kids self-esteem because I was able to do it and they weren’t. Look I know my kids they were ok promise. Plus I needed to make sure they knew it could be done. The entire lesson was pretty much riding on this example haha.

The Intro

So after I sat them down I began to talk to them about the puzzle. It’s kind of hard. Some folks look at it and just give up. They say that there is no possible way of fixing it. Some people try to figure out a way of cheating the system by pulling it apart or taking stickers off. Thing about stickers is if you take them off they never really go on right again.

I then told the kids a few of the little tricks that I have in my head to help me to remember how to fix the Rubik’s Cube. Rude Bevis Runs Fast. Fake Bone Funny Bone Fake Bone FiFi. Now to everyone else what I just said was foolishness. However, it is the answer. No matter how you look at it IS the answer. Always has been the answer, and always will be the answer.

The Lesson

I then told the kids that there is a big puzzle in everyone’s life. It is a puzzle that has baffled and confused people since time began! How do you get to heaven? People have tried all kinds of ways but the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. However, when you tell someone that Jesus gave up his divinity, became flesh, lived and walked among us knowing that people, even 2000 years later, were going to hate and curse his name, and died on a cross to save us, simply because he loved us. It’s foolishness.

However, it’s ok. Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that the message of the cross is foolishness to man. Yet it’s still the truth. It’s still the answer to the biggest puzzle of them all. The only way for you and I to get to heaven is through believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he died on the cross for our sins then rose up 3 days later, confessing him as Lord, and then following what He commands.

I explained to the kids that it’s hard for people in the world to believe this because they are use to people not caring for each other. If someone wrongs you then forget about them! That’s the world teaches. But God teaches us that He loves us and cares about us so much that even though we have done things that go against his Law, even though we may have said bad things about him, and even though from time to time we may make a mistake that we know God doesn’t like; he still loves us.

That’s the reason why people can’t understand the answer to the puzzle even when you tell them it. Yet even though they don’t understand it, it’s still the answer. No matter how you try to twist it the answer is still Jesus and it’s because he Loves us.

Closing

After this I had Adrian sing “My Savior My God” by Aaron Shust. While he played softly I did an alter call for kids who have never asked Jesus to save them and for those who were Christians yet they weren’t living for him like they knew they should.

That’s pretty much it. I was going to go into the whole post modern discussion in this blog but I’ve decided….mmm na not today haha.

Remember that what our Kids do tomorrow is dependant on what YOU do today.

Love you all!

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?

Prayer Stations

So for the last SEVERAL weeks during our Wednesday Night Kids Discipleship Groups (KDGs), we’ve been discussing prayer. We sat down and broke The Lord’s Prayer down. the Break down as as follows:

Week 1: Our Father in heaven,
Week 2: hallowed be your name,
Week 3: your kingdom come,
Week 4: your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Week 5: Give us today our daily bread.
Week 6: Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Verse 14 was included in this discussion
Week 7: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Then on week 8 we discussed intercessory prayer. Well afterwards I had planned to pick up where we left off in our journey through the book of John. But i struggled through it. I never felt at peace to leave the the concept of prayer and begin again in John. As i prayed about it i felt God speaking to me that I felt uncomfortable because it was not time yet. We needed to do one last thing. Practical application.

I then realized what I needed to do. We built Prayer stations! Now for those of you who do not know about the breakdown of our Wednesday night program this is basically how it goes. All the kids ages4 up through 6th grade come into the kids church. Together we worship and there is a small instruction time for the entire group. The purpose is to provide the little ones opportunity to get to know myself and the staff of The Deep better so it’s not such a big transition from WD Kidz into The Deep.  (if you felt i was speaking Greek in that last sentence follow this link it’ll explain what I just said. [click me] )

After this the WD Kidz then go across the hall for a lesson based around their age range with one of our AWESOME teachers. At this point my assistant Dana (who is also very awesome) and I break the kids off into two small groups.  Well last night Dana reviewed with the kids the last 8 weeks while i set up the prayer stations.

Each prayer station consisted of an item that represented the prayer need and a note that helped the kids pray. Before releasing them i told them what each station was, told them to go to each one and pray for the need. While there was a pre-written prayer for each one i encouraged the kids to go ahead and pray more than what was just written out. Below are pictures of each prayer station and the note that was at each station that instructed Kids.

If you don’t want to read it all that’s cool but don’t click off! Scroll to the bottom so you can see what happened 🙂

Station 1

The first station was for the church. I put this bench/alter down and left this note

Church

Hebrews 10:25 says  “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” To encourage each other doesn’t mean just saying nice things to each other. It also means to pray for each other. What you will do here is pray for our church, The Healing Place.

Pray this prayer:

“Our God and Father in heaven. Thank you so much for giving us a place to meet. God please bless Pastor Scott. Help him to hear you speak to him. Give him the power to preach and teach what you want us to hear.  Touch the people here at The Healing Place. Help us to do what you want us to do. Help us to be strong good Christians.  Amen”

Station 2

We then prayed for our Families.  I used this couch as the focal point to represent the family. This is the note i left

Family

In Acts chapter 16 a guard a jail asked Paul what he must do to become a Christian. Paul told him to believe in God! He then told the guard that God would save this man’s family. This story shows how much God cares about families. While here at this station you will be praying for your family. After you pray the prayer written down if you need to pray for anything special about your family go ahead and do it.

“Dear God, Thank you so much for my family. Thank you that you love us. Thank you that you take care of us. Please bless my family. Help us to love you, to serve you, and to worship you. I pray that you will continue to take care of us.  Amen”

Station 3

Next we prayed for our schools.  For this i left some textbooks out and then left this note:

School

In Acts 26:24 people were saying, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad” to Paul. They said that because they were amazed at how much he knew. Paul studied so much and knew so much that they thought he was CRAZY! School is very important to God. God put teachers in your life to help you learn things that you will need to know in the future. Even though it’s near the end of school you still need to pray for your school.

Pray this prayer:

“Dear God, thank you for my teachers at my school. Please bless each one of them. Let them know that you love them and that you are there for them. I pray that you continue to help them teach me and other kids at my school. I pray that you also use me to tell people about Jesus while I’m at school.  Amen”

Station 4

This next one is for praying for people who are not Christians and are therefore going to hell. I explained to the kids that people who are not Christians are often called “lost” and “in darkness” and that it’s our job to take the Light of Christ and go into the dark places show them who Jesus is. So they had to go under the table to see the following note:

People going to hell

As you know people who have not asked Jesus to forgive them of their sins, things that go against God’s law, and then promise to do what He tells us to do, go to Hell.  I want you to take a moment and think about someone you know who is going to Hell. A person you know that has not asked Jesus to forgive them and is not living their life in a way that make God happy. I’m not going to give you a prayer to pray here, all you simply need to do is pray out loud asking God to save that person. Name them out loud.

(Fyi this prayer station is the one that the kids spent the most time at. I had a bit of a line at this one)

Station 5

The next station was this little swimming pool. I don’t want the kids to think you only pray for the typical church things. We need to be praying for world events. Praying about things that may be far away from them but that are still very serious. this next station was where they prayed for the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This is the note:

Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

You might have heard about the big ugly mess in the Gulf of Mexico. Somehow a big oil pipe broke and It’s spilling lots and lots of oil into the ocean. This is hurting the animals and other sea life. At this station we will pray for God to help stop the oil from leaking out everywhere.

Pray this prayer:

“Dear God, Please do a miracle in the Gulf of Mexico. Please stop the oil from spilling out everywhere. Help the poor animals who are getting hurt from all this oil. We know that you are a great big God and you can do these things. Amen”

Station 6

The next station was this friendship bracelet. Obviously this was all about praying for our friends. This is the note:

Friends

Proverbs 27:17 says ” As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This verse tells us how important it is to have good Christian friends. Christian friends help us to become better Christians. At this station you will be praying for your friends. If you have a friend who is not a Christian then pray for them to become Christians and say their name out loud as you pray for them.

“Dear Lord, thank you for the good Christian friends that I have. Please continue to bless them. Help them to become better Christians. Thank you that they help me to become a better Christian. I pray also for my friends who are not Christians. I pray that your Holy Spirit will speak to them. I pray that they will become Christians too! Amen”

Station 7

Our next station was all about missions so the station was the BGMC poster. This is the note:

BGMC and Missions

At this station we will be praying for BGMC (click on BGMC to learn what it is) and for Mission. BGMC is the program that we collect money for each month so that missionaries can help tell people about Jesus.  Missionaries are Christians who go to other countries or places far away from their home to tell others about Jesus.

“Dear Lord, Please touch the missionaries across the world. Keep them safe. Help them to tell people about Jesus. Help them to do what you want them to do. Amen”

Station 8

The final station was all about healing. For this i put my cane down on the table. Here’s the note:

People who are sick and hurting

In Isaiah 53:5 we read that we are healed because of the wounds that Jesus took. He has made it possible for us to pray for people who are sick and hurting and see them healed. Of course people hurt in different ways.

Some people are physically hurt. They might have fallen and hurt their knees or stub their toe. Some people’s feelings have been hurt. Someone may have said something mean to them or someone did something really mean to them so their feelings are hurt.

And sometimes people are sick. They have the sniffles or they just feel really gross on the inside. In EVERY case God can heal them. All you need to do is pray for them. So while at this station I want you to think of a person who’s sick or hurt and pray for them and ask God to do a wonderful miracle for them.

The result of this was Amazing. I turned off the main lights and played music. I prayed over the kids and this time and released them. here’s a couple of vids showing what it was like. Sorry for the poor quality it was on my cell phone.

I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t entirely sure how well this worked out. But these kids really pressed in and interceded for these needs. I had kids crying and seeking God’s will these things. Dana and i could do nothing but sit back and just enjoy the goodness of God and feel encouraged that our kids were getting it. They not only stood what we taught but they were able to put it in action.
Praise God for His goodness.!