This had me joyful and really laughing about the chances of these two meetings in the past 24 hours, has to be one in a couple hundred million odds of this happening.
Update, just a couple weeks later and my singing this around the house has been picked up by the kids who now sing it themselves...
On this day in 2011 I was baptized again.
I say again, because like many people, I was baptized by my parents when I was little. I'm really thankful that my parents took that step to make the public statement that they were going to raise me as a Christian.
I also felt it absolutely essential that, as a thinking adult, I chose Jesus for myself.
I literally got to a point in my journey to know Jesus where I felt like I needed to get baptized as soon as I possibly could. I literally had come to see my life as a filthy rag, stained with the effects of my rebellion against God. And I needed to be washed clean, which I knew I could not do on my own but only through Jesus the Christ.
Then, one day while attending church, the pastor got up to make an announcement, he said, "some of you have reached a point where you need to get baptized, and we're going to do that on July 3rd." And he looked right at me.
That was it, I was getting baptized. And in so doing, here's what I wanted to say:
- My faith is in Jesus as my personal Savior.
- However crazy it is, I believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead.
- I am sincerely and totally repentant of my old sinful life—this is my "burial" of that sinful life.
- And baptism pictures my rising up to a new life of spiritual obedience to God.
It is an outward acknowledgment of the realization that the old self must die in order that the new self might rise again to live—this time really live—by God’s laws and commandments as made possible through His Holy Spirit.
And, as I hope this blog gives some credence to, it is indeed a new life surrendered to the will and authority of God, albeit imperfectly most of the time. I could never have imagined then what a different life it is when you walk with Jesus.
I'm so glad I did this, it's been so important in my "walk with Jesus" and if you have not done so, I would strongly encourage you to consider making such a statement yourself.
Came to realize, as I have been instructing my two sons (age 3 and 19 months) that spiritually I'm a toddler.
I documented this humbling lesson in sanctification online here:
As I've reflected on the truths in this lesson, and the way forward, I realized how rich it is, and found myself thanking God for my children, and recognizing some ways he might be calling me to grow up.
A few that came up quickly as I discussed this with my wife include:
-I need to not be so grumpy when I'm tired, this is self-discipline
-I need to be more careful with my words
-I need to listen to what God is telling me to do, and just do it! For example, God told me BEFORE Boden was born, 3 years ago, to learn songs to sing to him, and I still know only songs like "Jesus Loves Me." Again, toddler status.
-I need to wake up and not just start running around, but need to spend time before God.
-I need to know God's rules and mandates and meditate on them to have any hope of obeying them.
This is a work in progress, more to come, hopefully graduating to a pre-schooler in the next months and years!
I don't always remember to invite Jesus into our days #honestmoment. Sometimes I wake up into a frenzy of little people's request (and protests) and just get busy. Today though, I had high expectations of going grocery shopping with both the boys for more than just a few items and while in the car I felt prompted. Out loud I prayed for peace, good listening ears, no tantrums, and if possible a fun time while searching for our food, all ending with 3 Amens. Well... PRAISE THE LORD because it happened! No tantrums and both boys rode in/on the cart happily eating grapes almost the entire time (we paid for the grapes ahead of time because you can't eat half the grapes then pay!) This outing is proof that even in the little things in life Jesus makes it better and shows me how much I need Him. We are a tantrum throwing, mama getting frustrated, not listening, whining mess without Jesus. Thank you Jesus for your reminders and victories when your presence is intertwined in our days! #weloveJesus
Every week I get to a place where I'm desperate for the Word of God. Sometimes I don't get my fill and the desperation grows. I know that the longer I stay away, the more I'm doing things in my own power, in ways that make sense to me, and the risk of being outside of God's will scares me.
Eventually I succumb and collapse at the feet of God. He's so gracious He's always there to pick me up, invite me to sit on His lap, and gently instruct and guide me.
The point is that there are so many forces pulling me away from God. Yet, I'm already tuned into His Word, I've had a taste, I've submitted my life to Jesus, and there is no turning back. But staying there, well, its a daily battle.
The further I go into my faith, the more I see the miraculous unfolding in and around me, the more intense the battle rages. I get emails now from people who say my words or prayers or something I did brought them healing, it stirred up their interest in Jesus. I know this is God, just my making myself available to Him in some small way.
You'd think that with these kinds of things happening that I would be ever so committed. And in some ways I am, but in other ways I feel the opposing forces growing ever greater. I'm like the Stretch Armstrong doll being pulled to the limit, until I finally get the wisdom and courage to shout to the enemy "let go, out of here, in the name of Jesus!" Then I go springing toward the prevailing force, that of my savior.
Is this all about shaking my hand free from the enemy that's trying to pull me away? I think that, rather, its about choosing the hand that is outstretched to me so fully that I no longer have an open hand to the enemy.
This isn't easy. I mean, on one hand (excuse the pun) it IS EASY. But then again, no, it's not. This is a struggle because I am at war with my flesh. I am at war with the world. I become interested in the pleasures of the world. The comforts of it. Even the comforts of the church and what I see and hear preached.
Lord, help me, save me, show me YOUR WISDOM. Not the wisdom of men.
I saw this sermon by Francis Chan. This brother, well, just listen to what he says about the church in China. That desperation, that abandon of self, I crave that. I crave to give up my life for Jesus.
I was thinking this last night. Then I cracked open my Bible to pick up with my reading this morning, and the verse that I read is John Chapter 10. You should read it, anyway here's a verse that jumped out at me:
So, here I am, sitting before my computer, and before God, and before you, and I'm asking, "What does it mean for me to die to myself?" I have a couple ideas, here they are:
- Die to wasting time with mindless activity, and replace it with studying God's word.
- Die to over indulgence and comfort that robs early morning hours in prayer.
- Die to the sense that I can manufacture success, and bathe every effort in prayer.
- Die to the obsession with my self and own image, and seek instead of build up others.
- Die to free spending on things I don't need, and give more money away.
- Die to my instinct to criticize, and instead practice holding my tongue.
- Die to shortness with my wife, and practice assuming the best and active loving her.
- Die to the apathy I have that God is moving and drawing people all around me.
- Die to my lack of focus on learning songs of praise and memorizing Scripture.
- Die to judging those who wrong me, and instead pray for and seek to bless them.
- Die to the lust of the flesh and focus heartily on my wife, purity, cleansing in the Word.
- Die to avoiding service to the church and rather build it up right where I am.
- Die to favoring quick and dirty responses to the issues of the day versus being rooted in the bigger picture and more sustained faithful efforts.
I've had a taste of most of these things at times, and it is gut wrenching. I have a sense about the direction God wants me to go, the direction he's pulling me toward. I've gone down these paths, sometimes only to turn around the other direction. Or I go but look back. Or I go and lament going for a time, I grumble. Or I go, and sometimes, I embrace the great escape, the freedom, the power of overcoming the world, overcoming my own self, overcoming death for life, and in doing so, the Gospel and my faith comes alive.
I was first introduced to Discovery Bible Study aka DBS at Cityteam. As I began to practice this deceptively simply study, I soon learned that its counter-intuitive for most seasoned believers (more on that later).
In short, DBS is the best way to study the Bible as a group that I've ever found. I'm not just saying this because I've "drunk the Kool-Aid," I've experimented with other studies, including well-known curriculum's, and keep coming back to DBS. DBS is a pared-down yet effective way to cover and more importantly learn to obey Scripture. This post is designed to give you an introduction to DBS, explain further why it works, and point you to tools I use:
First, a video introduction by Dave Hunt, Cityteam's VP of Discipleship in the US, on what a DBS group study looks like in 5 steps:
Now watch a second video by Dave Hunt, where he lays out the 3-column approach to the Bible study, where you write out Scripture, put it in your own words, and then create an "I will..." statement.
For a sample 3-Column Bible Study form, click here. Though, you can use a simple sheet of paper with two lines drawn on it, which is what I do.
As far as where you start in the Bible and how you proceed, there are several approaches. In foreign countries, places where the Bible is rarely if ever heard, Cityteam almost always starts in Genesis. However, in areas more exposed to the Gospel, like the United States, we are trying different approaches, such as topical studies. Here is a link to an outline of a topical study that I have used.
A solid 3rd-party review of this process by a Missions Frontiers magazine, published by the US Center for World Missions, can be found online here (read pages 4 thru 14).
Cityteam published a book that talks a lot about DBS with practical stories of how it works out in practice (and much more), called Miraculous Movements, which you can find online here.
Finally, if you want to learn how DBS was discovered by a process (actually "revealed by God" is a better way to describe it), you can read Dave Hunt's doctoral thesis paper online here, which gives a detailed account. I read it and, if you're into this kind of thing, I attest that it is informative and even riveting to read.