Baptism: Jump “All In”!

January 25, 2011

My daughter, Rachel, is a softball player.  She enjoys the game, but she also enjoys being identified as being on a softball team.  She wears her uniform with pride as we go into McDonalds, Kroger, or around friends.  She likes for people to know that she is a part of the team.

Baptism is kind of like wearing your softball uniform in public.  It identifies a believer with Christ.  There aren’t many examples of a person on a softball team that refuses to wear the uniform.  Wearing the uniform is just what a softball player does.

Being baptized is just what a believer or follower of Jesus does.  As a believer is dunked under the water, it is an “illustration” that the person has died, is buried, and has been raised with Christ as he or she comes up out of the water.  It doesn’t make a person saved.  It just illustrates that the person is saved and knows Jesus.  It’s like a picture of an event that has already happened.

That leads to the question, “If baptism doesn’t “save” me, then why should I do it?” I’m glad that you asked that!  If you look in the New Testament, trusting Christ with your life and then being baptized is the normal thing to do.  There isn’t even any question as to whether or not to go ahead and be baptized.  It was what a believer did.

Why?  In Matthew 28, Jesus was about to go to heaven.  He was leaving his followers here to carry on His mission.  What were his parting words?  “Go and make disciples.  BAPTIZING them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” That was the last thing that Jesus said before leaving Earth.  He must have thought that baptism was majorly important.  Think about that.  At the end of a person’s life, you usually say the things that are most important.

Jesus also was baptized.  Even though John the Baptist objected, Jesus insisted that John baptize him.  Jesus wasn’t baptized to represent that His sins were washed away.  He didn’t have any sin.  Jesus was baptized to show believers that we should follow in His example.  If we’re followers of Jesus, then we’re supposed to do what Jesus did.  If we can’t do something as simple as following his example in baptism by getting into a pool of water and going under, how are we going to live for Him in the world?

If you haven’t been baptized, I encourage you to go for it!  It’s the next step that God has for you as you begin or continue on the journey of following Jesus.  I can say with confidence that it is God’s will that you take the plunge and follow Jesus’ example in baptism.  There’s no reason to wait!  The waters fine.  Jump “ALL IN!”

When I was a sixth grader, my friends and I had the bright idea to stick forks in the shoelaces of our tennis shoes and act like we were kicking each other.  Probably not the smartest day of my life, to be sure!

My friend, Marlon, didn’t believe the part about “pretending” so when I kicked at him under the lunch table, he reached his hand out to block the kick.  That didn’t work out so well.  When Marlon pulled his hand up from under the table, he had a fork buried deep into his hand beside his thumb.  I guess you could say, “He had a fork stuck in him so he was done?”   I know.  Bad joke.

(For some reason, I couldn’t find a pic with a fork in a hand.)

We were horrified as he went over to the teacher’s table, displaying the bloody hand with the fork sticking out of it.  A couple of teachers turned green.  I don’t think any of them wanted to finish their lasagne.    It wasn’t a good day

On the ambulance ride to the hospital, Marlon heard over the radio that there had been a stabbing at Lakeview Elementary School.  I guess that would make me the “stabber.”  It wasn’t a good day.

Marlon recovered and I didn’t have to go to kid jail as he and the other friends involved testified to the principal that it was just a stabbing among friends.  No big deal.  Marlon’s mom wasn’t real happy but she came to love me as time went by.  (Later when I met her, Marlon told her that my name was “Cecil”.  After many months went by of going to their house, after she liked me, Marlon told her that I was really “Eddie,” the stabber-guy.)  Btw, Marlon and I are still friends to this day.  He just got on Facebook, which is what inspired me to write about that dreadful day.  We became even better friends through the adversity.

Anyway, Proverbs 17:17 says:”

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Friends are like that.  I remember when 911 happened.  Everyone in the World Trade Center Towers was running out of the building and down the street.  You saw it on the news.  Everyone that is, except the brave firefighters & policemen.  They were running INTO the towers.

That’s what a real friend will do.  He will run to your house when everyone else is running away.  He will stick by you when it really doesn’t make sense to stick by you.

I don’t know if you have any friends like that, but when you have adversity, that’s when you know for sure.  Sometimes, it’s those friends that you really didn’t expect to be there but they were.  Sometimes those that you expected to be there, weren’t there.

As Christ-followers, that’s the kind of friend we’re supposed to be too.  We’re supposed to be there for each other in adversity.  Jesus was there for us in our adversity of sin.  Go be like Jesus.

Have you been surprised by who has been there for you during adversity?

Yesterday was the First Birthday of MJLifeChurch.tv!  We celebrated with an awesome birthday cake, pizza, and the kids even had a couple of piñata’s   that made them very happy.  We celebrated by looking back at the past year and looking ahead to the next year.

At present, one thing that we talked about is that we don’t exist for ourselves.  Sometimes we can get self-centered and begin to think that life is all about us.  It’s not.  We are here to serve God and reach others.  When we get sidetracked we believe that God is here to serve US.  We pray and begin to order Him around like we are the Master and He is the servant.  Sometimes He wants us to just be quiet and listen to what He has to say.  Sure, God wants us to come to Him with our concerns through prayer, however, we have to keep things in perspective.   We are serving Him and though He loves us passionately, we’re still the servants.  We’re the church.  We’re here to serve.

Some are content to simply “go to church” and that gets them by for the next week.  It relieves their conscious and makes them feel good about themselves so they can go back to their lives for another week.  Meeting with God once a week will not sustain anyone that wants a relationship with God.  That’s not our goal at MJLifeChurch.

Our goal is to BE THE CHURCH!  We want to be Christ’s ambassadors for the area, telling and SHOWING the community that God is love and that He changes lives.  (II Corinthians 5:17)   That’s the reason we served at the rescue mission and also took furniture to a family that needs it this past week.  We want to crank up the serving this next year.  It’s not about us.  We’re the Church.  We’re here to serve.

We believe our mission statement and our core values reflect our hearts for serving and reaching.  Our mission is to “Help people have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, leading them to become fully devoted followers of Christ.”

Here are our core values:

These values describe the inner fabric of who we are:

  • The Bible is our compass for living.
  • We will laugh hard, loud, and often.
  • Spontaneously love and serve others because they matter to God.
  • Believe in every kid.
  • Accept everyone as they are, but encourage forward motion
  • God deserves passionate worship and prayer
  • We will always bring our best, because excellence honors God and inspires people.
  • Doing life together is always better than doing life alone.
  • We will do anything short of sin to win someone to Christ.
  • We give up some things that we love for something that we love even more.
  • You make a life by what you give not what you get
  • Other churches are our teammates, not our competition, so we will partner with other churches when possible and we will help other churches get started.
  • Finish strong.

It’s been an exciting first year!  I believe we’ll have many more to come.  Happy Birthday to the Church called MJLifeChurch.tv!

Question:  What does being the church mean to you?

 

Serving Dinner to Jesus

January 4, 2011

I served dinner to Jesus tonight. Several peeps from MJLifeChurch.tv went with me tonight and served at the Nashville Rescue Mission. We serve there once a month. It’s always humbling to serve drinks and food to men who have no home and nothing to eat. It was an especially special experience handing out food, as about half of our group are on the Daniel Fast and were actually hungry themselves. I was proud of them. They were literally denying themselves and serving others.

Men's Mission 2

I have to go ahead and admit it. That chicken was looking pretty good in my eyes too. I was lusting for chicken for sure, but when you’re weak and you have Christian brothers and sisters with you supporting you, you can stay strong. I abstained and ate some fruit when I got home.

Matthew 25:35-40 says:
“ForI was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Looking into the eyes of each man as he walked by me, looking for food, helps me remember how blessed I am. Many of the men that we fed haven’t shaven or taken a shower in a while. Some stared straight down, while others looked me in the eye and were very thankful. Some obviously had mental problems. Others have an addiction that has separated them from their home, parents, wives, and children. Looking into the eyes of each man was like looking into the eyes of Christ, the one who gave his all to me. He said that when we do it for one of the “least of these brothers and sisters, you did it for me.”

Christ’s words should compel us to treat each other in the same way that we would treat Christ if He were standing in front of us. That even means that neighbor that is a pain in the butt. It means the driver that cut us off at the intersection. And it means the guys at the Nashville Rescue Mission.

Why do we often forget to take the time to see and serve others the way Jesus wants us to see and serve them?

I’ve spent most of my life talking to people about God and trying to point people to Him.  Even in my high school years, I lived for Him and I led devotions for my high school football team before games.  I’ve always cared what people thought about God.  I love Him and people’s attitudes towards Him have been important to me.

Those who know me, know that I’ve never claimed to be “Super Believer Guy” or anything like that.  I’m just a goofwad that is blown away that God loves me and I want to be used by God.God has answered prayer in my life and sometimes He has answered prayer in pretty dramatic fashion.   I’ll have to write about some of those sometime.  It just blows my mind still how he has come through in my life at times.

Even so, sometimes I have felt like I should “cover” for God just in case….  What if I ask Him for something and He doesn’t come through?  I remember a time or two that I did ask God for a miracle and it didn’t happen.  (Though, other times I have seen miracles.)  Another way that I’ve “covered” for God is by tacking on “if it be your will” at the end of a prayer.  That way, He has an “escape clause. “

Sometimes I think that if I ask God, especially in public, to do something that only He could do and He doesn’t do it, there are two possibilities that come to mind.

  1. God failed because He didn’t deliver what I asked and He looks bad.
  2. I look stupid myself because God didn’t deliver and I look bad.

Neither of these outcomes have seemed desirable to me so I’ve usually just asked things that I knew He would probably do.  Nothing too crazy or too public.  I mean…  I’ve got my reputation, right?   As a Christ-Follower, I’ve got to “protect” God’s reputation, right?

I am coming to realize that God is big enough.  He is big enough to do His will, no matter how BIG my request may be if it is in line with His will.  God is also big enough to take the “heat” or disappointment from anyone if He decides to say “no” or “later.”

I encourage you, whether you are participating in the Daniel Fast or not, to ask God for something that only He can do. Forget worrying about His reputation…  or yours.  Stick your neck out if you need to, but trust God.  Do you know what worrying about your reputation over having faith in God is called?  It’s called Pride.  Let it go.

I’ve spent most of my life talking to people about God and trying to point people to Him.  Even in my high school years, I lived for Him and I led devotions for my high school football team before games.  I’ve always cared what people thought about God.  I love Him and people’s attitudes towards Him have been important to me.

Those who know me, know that I’ve never claimed to be “Super Believer Guy” or anything like that.  I’m just a goofwad that is blown away that God loves me and I want to be used by God.

God has answered prayer in my life and sometimes He has answered prayer in pretty dramatic fashion.   I’ll have to write about some of those sometime.  It just blows my mind still how he has come through in my life at times.

Even so, sometimes I have felt like I should “cover” for God just in case….  What if I ask Him for something and He doesn’t come through?  I remember a time or two that I did ask God for a miracle and it didn’t happen.  (Though, other times I have seen miracles.)  Another way that I’ve “covered” for God is by tacking on “if it be your will” at the end of a prayer.  That way, He has an “escape clause. “

 

Sometimes I think that if I ask God, especially in public, to do something that only He could do and He doesn’t do it, there are two possibilities that come to mind.

  1. God failed because He didn’t deliver what I asked.
  2. I look stupid myself because God didn’t deliver

Neither of these outcomes have seemed desirable to me so I’ve usually just asked things that I knew He would probably do.  Nothing too crazy or too public.  I mean…  I’ve got my reputation, right?   As a Christ-Follower, I’ve got to “protect” God’s reputation, right?

I am coming to realize that God is big enough.  He is big enough to do His will, no matter how BIG my request may be if it is in line with His will.  God is also big enough to take the “heat” or disappointment from anyone if He decides to say “no” or “later.”

I encourage you, whether you are participating in the Daniel Fast or not, to ask God for something that only He can do.  Forget worrying about His reputation…  or yours.  Stick your neck out if you need to, but trust God.  Do you know what worrying about your reputation over having faith in God is called?  It’s called Pride.  Let it go.

Trust God.

Go ahead.

Dream.

ASK!

Ask him for something that only He can do if it is going to happen.

Have you ever felt like you had to cover for God?  What have you been asking God for lately?  Am I the only one that has had thoughts like this?

Trust God.

Go ahead.

Dream.

ASK!

Ask him for something that only He can do if it is going to happen.

Have you ever felt like you had to cover for God?  What have you been asking God for lately?  Am I the only one that has had thoughts like this?

Burn The Ships

January 2, 2011

The 21 day Daniel Fast starts tomorrow. I went out and destroyed a few chicken wings in preparation today since there will be no meat for 21 days.  That’s scary just writing it to me.  I could easily live without veggies or fruit, but without meat is going to be tough for me. I’m far from a Vegetarian!  LOL

I was reading in Daniel in preparation for the fast and this struck me.  I thought I’d share it with you and get your thoughts.

Daniel 1:8 says:

“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

 

Daniel decided, IN ADVANCE, that he would not go against the convictions that God had put in his heart about eating from the King’s table. He didn’t wait until the food was set before him. That’s basically what I’m doing. I’m deciding in advance that I won’t eat anything for the next 21 days except fruit, veggies, or nuts. I will not be drinking anything but water.

This reminds me of certain sins that seem to plague us. Satan knows our weaknesses and he knows where and when to hit us. It seems to me that the key is to decide IN ADVANCE that you will stand up, in Christ, to the temptation. Don’t wait until the temptation that plagues you is looking you in the face. Pray about it, confess your weakness to a trusted believer friend, and if possible, remove the stumbling block completely when you are strong.

When Cortez landed in Mexico, he feared that his men would grow tired of the journey and want to return home. Maybe they would turn against his leadership and force a return. As soon as they set foot on Mexican soil, he ordered then to “Burn the ships!” There would be no way to turn back now.

Regarding the fast, there’s no turning back either. If twinkies are your weakness, feed them to your dog. Give them to your neighbor. Throw them away. Whatever it takes, just get them out of the house. Don’t make it easy for you to eat one in a moment of weakness.

The same principle with sin applies. If you are prone to a specific sin, the time to “burn the ships” is when you are strong. Do whatever it takes to remove the barrier that is harming your relationship with God. When you “burn the ships,” God can speak to you because you are more prone to listen to Him. Maybe that means confessing to a brother or sister. Maybe you have to get rid of something that no one knows about except you and God. Maybe there is a relationship that you need to end. You know what it is that God wants you to do if you belong to Him.

Remember, John 8:47 says, “He who belongs to God hears what God says.” If you belong to God and there is something between you and Him in your life, there may be only one thing that He has been saying to you for some time. You ask Him things like, “God, what’s your will for my life?” “God, where should I work?” Whatever you ask Him, He keeps pointing to that one thing, saying “Burn The Ships.” It’s time to light the fire. Once you do, perhaps through this fast, God will then tell you something else. Decide NOW to

Burn it to the Ground, then go for it. Let’s do this!

Have you ever felt God telling you to “Burn The Ships”?

Daniel Fast

January 1, 2011

“To get unreasonable results, you have to do unreasonable things.” -Craig Groeshel

 

It’s a New Year and it’s time for those resolutions that we make every year.  Many times as believers we say we want to grow closer to God in this next year.  If we want to make changes or really know God better, we need to do something radical.  Andy Stanley says, “The system that you’ve been using is perfectly designed to get you the results that you’ve been getting.” What are you going to do that is radical that will jolt your life into the direction that you know that you need to be going?

MJLifeChurch.tv is participating with LifeChurch.tv in the Daniel Fast for 21 days. Fasting is a great way to push aside ourselves and our wants and focus on God. It reminds us that it’s not all about us. Fasting has the potential to draw us closer to God and helps us refocus on Him. If you have been at a spiritual standstill or you simply want to grow in your relationship with Christ, I hope you’ll join us for these 21 days.

In the “Daniel Fast,” the idea is to limit what we eat to the things that Daniel ate when he requested to stay with the diet that he learned when he was home serving God before he was taken captive.  Basically, he only ate veggies, fruit, and nuts. He avoided all meats and drink, other than water.  You can research more on the Daniel Fast at and the allowed foods here:

http://danielfast.wordpress.com/daniel-fast-food-list/

Daniel could have had the best food from the King’s table but he felt like that would get in the way of his relationship with God. God blessed his devotion, dedication, and heart.

The key to fasting for spiritual growth is not simply going without food. If that’s all we do, we’re simply starving ourselves.  We also need to intentionally draw to God during this time through prayer, meditation, and Bible reading. Otherwise all we accomplish is maybe loosing a little weight.  I hope you’re goal is more than shedding a pound or two, though some of us could definitely benefit from that too!

In the above quote, Craig Groeschel said, “To get unreasonable results, you have to do unreasonable things.”  If your relationship with God has grown stale.   If need some answers or you feel like you need to trust God more.  If you just want to grow in your faith, join us beginning on January 3rd, with the Daniel Fast.  Ask God for something BIG that only He can do through you.  Let me know how it goes for you!