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Special gift

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by Ohiophinphan, Dec 8, 2008.

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  1. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    A couple of weeks ago we had our annual congregational meeting. This is the one time each year that the whole congregation gets together (or at least those who care enough to show up) and pass a budget, elect council, etc., and whatever else they want to talk about. This year, more so than most, the conversation got angry, petty, and pointed. It was by all accounts a real downer and did the family of God no credit. I came through fine but clearly distressed that such was the undertone of the body.

    The following week was an upper though. Lots of folks stopped by and said how much they appreciated my leadership, preaching, and the rest. The haters were being dealt with in a loving way, a way they themselves had not acted, which of course is exactly the way the Church ought to act and too rarely does.

    Then came a special gift from God last Sunday.

    My associate pastor was on a two week vacation to Texas for Thanksgiving and had arranged a Baptism for me during his absence. It took place in the late service on Sunday and was a family I knew somewhat. This was their third child in a short time and while I had not done either of the other children's Baptisms I knew the full counseling load had been done each time and because of that my associate had waived it in this case.

    The reason it was being done on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend was that one of the sponsers was a young Marine corporal who was on leave because he was about to ship out for Afghanistan. (He is home less than a year from a tour in Iraq!). OK, did the Baptism, during the service and all went very well.

    After the service as I was shaking hands I sent my sacristant over to tell them I would be there for the pictures in a moment. He came back to tell me the Marine wanted to talk about being Baptized! This surprised me because one of our general "rules" is, no one gets to be a Baptismal sponser without themself already being Baptized. OK, I went over.

    After posing for everyone's camera, I asked the young Marine (in full blue dress uniform!) if I understood correctly that he wished to be Baptized? He said, "Yes". He had seen so much and all that made sense was a trust in God. He had tried a couple of times but had been unable to get it all arranged. I asked him if he had a half hour right then? His eyes lite up and he assured me he did.

    I asked the family to be seated and went through the service with Jason (the Marine) just as we had done for his cousin's baby, this time explaining each item and its nuances. I know we didn't have time for a full instruction period but got his word that when he came back from this tour he would do the work we were skipping.

    Then with his family and a few of my volunteer staff as the "congregation" I Baptized this young man and welcomed him into the family of God! I don't think there was a dry eye in the place especially mine and Jason's!

    After all the pettiness of the week before, God had given me a special gift to remind me of what we are about and the ministry He had called me to perform.

    I was going to post this last week but couldn't find the time to type thius long a piece and besides my elbows are still unhappy with me. They hurt now but its worth it!

    Blessing folks and thank you for letting me share this story!
     
  2. cnc66

    cnc66 wiley veteran, bad spelur Luxury Box

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    Love ya Pastor, thanks for sharing the story.
     
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  3. azfinfanmang

    azfinfanmang Premium Member Luxury Box

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    God Bless you Keith and of course this Marine.

    Guess the best B-day present is sometimes to give a gift instead, and that is one WHOPPER of a gift you have given this fine young man.
     
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  4. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Trust me I got a gift from all this as well! God is indeed good!
     
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  5. alen1

    alen1 New Member

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    That's awesome. Thanks for sharing OPP, hope your elbows get better.
     
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  6. Celtkin

    Celtkin <B>Webmaster</b> Luxury Box

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    Pastor Keith -- I know it would be faster to research the Lutheran doctrine concerning baptism but I prefer a more in depth lesson from you.

    Do you believe that baptism is necessary for the salvation of adults (ie - Repent and be baptized) as Peter said in Acts 2 and as Jesus did himself in the hands of John the Baptist?

    Thank you in advance. :)
     
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  7. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    The tricky part of that question is always the thief on the cross. He is told by Jesus "Today you will be with me in paradise" when clearly he has not been baptized. Medievils came up with Baptism by intent to cover him and all those catechetics who were martyred while in preperation for Baptism. There is also the old conundrum of "what if someone is on their way to be Baptized and gets killed in an accident?"

    My answer, which is pretty much the party line, is anyone who wishes to be a Christian, that is part of the family of God, needs to be Baptized. I have had arguments with members of the Salvation Army who are anti-sacramentalists, saying "point to a place in scripture where you should not be baptized if the oppurtunity exists?"

    The reason for my seeming hedge is the question of salvaltion. I am always reluctant to put God in a box. It is clear Biblically that God wants His people to be in the community of faith and entrance to that community is Baptism. Are the rest outside the pall? I will leave that to God to decide. My task is proclamation and if I have had the chance to proclaim to them then they have had the chance to be Baptized. The rest I leave to God.
     
  8. dolphindebby

    dolphindebby Season Ticket Holder Luxury Box

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    What a blessing you are Pastor. Sharing things like this with us is up-lifting.

    My belief, as a Baptist, is that baptism is the public showing that you are a born again Christian and, as you said, entering into the family of God.
    Baptism is such a beautiful thing to me. I never felt so clean and whole.
    My salvation, of course, is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. Belonging to God and having Jesus as my best friend is full filling beyond belief to me.

    Lately I have had some problems with my spirituality and was afraid I was growing somewhat cold. I prayed with my Pastor Sunday for spiritual and physical healing. I ask that all of you remember me in your prayers also. I need to quit fretting and worrying over every little thing. I alone, can drive myself crazy over the dumbest things. So, please remember me.

    Thanks to all of you for your prayers. I know they will be answered.
    Just know that all of you are in mine.
    Love to all of you,
    Debby
     
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  9. BigDogsHunt

    BigDogsHunt Enough talk...prove it!

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    Thanks for posting this story.

    May I ask, what the details of this are?
     
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  10. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    It depends on the individual but typically it is a six to ten week course of study. Most Lutheran pastors use similar resources, such as some adult version of Luther's Small Catechism. In that we would look at an overview of the Bible, Baptism, Holy Communion, Creedal statements of faith, the Ten Commandments, Prayer (particulary the Lord's Prayer), Confession and Absolution (individual, corporate, and simply with God), and what does it mean to live a "Christian Life".

    If someone had grown up with a basic knowledge then we hit high points and answer questions. If a person is inspired but ignorant then they may get a fuller load.

    That help?
     
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  11. BigDogsHunt

    BigDogsHunt Enough talk...prove it!

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    Ahhh, interesting. So a simple question, a baby can be baptized automatically? But an adult - in most cases - must use the above steps to qualify? I was baptized as an infant Roman Catholic, but have always wondered about these additional steps for adults, etc. Thats why I ask.
     
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  12. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    You have my prayers and my best wishes. I also want to venture a little deeper. Please read all of what I am about to say and know it comes from my Christian love for you.

    Part of your "problems with my spirituality" could come from your Baptist training. This isn't a slam, please. I actually learned this from a Baptist supervisor I had in Chaplaincy training.

    Your description of Baptism is directly from the Baptist position, "baptism is the public showing that you are a born again Christian". That certainly has Biblic roots. The problem can arise however when one pushes that view too hard as it being our act instead of God's. It can lead a person to depending on their own actions and there we will always come up short. Doubt will always creep in. It can lead to the kind of questioning I am hearing in your post and in more extreme cases even despair.

    The position of those Christians who Baptize infants is that Baptism is God's act of acceptance of us and entails no effort or decision on our part whatsoever. For those holding this point of view, Baptism is the NT equivilant of OT circumcision, an act of faith by a family and community that the child belongs to God. We would look to Romans 3 & 8 for support here.

    Lest I sound like my view is without problem let me quickly point out the difficulty here is that an emphasis on Grace may have the effect of diminishing the importance of response and living a life of thanks for that Grace. Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer decried just such kind of lives when he denouced "cheap" grace.

    Thus both classic positions of when someone is/should be Baptized and who is the principal actor in Baptism, us or God, have their strengths and weaknesses especially in the realm of human behavior and the spiritual warfare of evil fighting against us.

    Ultimately my council to you is to read Luke 15 and its parables of the lost sheep, coin, and son. Note the extremes the God figure in each parable goes to in order to claim all unto Himself. God loves you like that no matter what!

    Best wishes.
     
  13. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    When you were baptized, your parents and sponsers made promises that you would learn all those things I mention an adult goes through. They pledged to bring you to God's house and to allow the community of faith to be a positive influence in your life. The phrase, "it takes a village to raise a child" has roots in the position of infant Baptism and the response of the community.

    In history, early adult converts to Christianity went through a training period. That is the origin of Lent and the Baptismal service of the Easter Vigil. The roots of that tradition go back into the third century or further.

    Thus everyone ultimately gets the same stuff but does it make you part of the family or is it what the family passes onto you from birth? Those would be some of the distinctions.

    In a pinch if someone can say to me "Jesus is Lord" and have a pretty clear understanding of what that means, I would Baptize them or their child.
     
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  14. BigDogsHunt

    BigDogsHunt Enough talk...prove it!

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    Understood, and my wife and I, and our daughters god-parents did the same thing for our girls...but it didnt take 6-8 weeks is my point. Why so long for an adult? Vs. just asking the same questions you ask parents and god parents on behalf of a infant? Why is it more indepth I quess is my question for adults vs. children and their parents/god parents?

    P.S. sorry to hi-jack the thread.
     
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  15. dolphindebby

    dolphindebby Season Ticket Holder Luxury Box

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    Thank you so very much. You are such a friend.
    Your words mean so much to me.
    I know God never leaves me, it's me who leaves and let's the world get in.
    I understand all these things. I just get so weary sometimes, I let my thoughts drift in the wrong direction.
    His grace and love are all that keeps me going, I know this. Like I said I let me get in the way, instead of just depending on His love and grace to see me through.
    I would never consider anything from you a slam, just help and understanding.
    I will definately read Luke and pray over it as I read.
    Thank you again my friend.
    With love & prayer,
    Debby
     
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  16. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    No problem. Theoretically if you have made those promises for your girls, you have had that training over the course of your life and you are promising that your girls will have it over the course of theirs. For someone "off the street" we want themn to know what it means. That's the distinction.

    In other places in the world where persecution is a major issue, we want folks to know what they are getting into.
     
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  17. BigDogsHunt

    BigDogsHunt Enough talk...prove it!

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    That makes total sense. Much appreciated.
     
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  18. mullingan

    mullingan New Grandbaby Pic!!!

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    Ohiophinphan. You have such a way of explaining things so people can understand what you are trying to convey. I thank you for the ministry you provide us on this board. I don't post much here but read just about every thread. The knowledge and understanding is just so impressive. Even the religions that are discussed that I have no knowledge of, is well explained.
     
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  19. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Thank you very much. As an aside, theology is a general discipline like law or accounting. A good parish pastor has to be good at lots of things without needing to be great at anything. That fits me to a tee!

    That said, one of my strongest interests is in Church history and theological history. It helps me understand why things are the way they are if I understand the forces and events that formed them. That interest helps me answer a lot of the questions asked around here.

    I do appreciate your comment more than you know and all the others as well!
     
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  20. dolphindebby

    dolphindebby Season Ticket Holder Luxury Box

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    Thank you Pastor. I read Luke and I sincerely thank you for the right passages to open my eyes and heart.
    I spent most of yesterday in prayer and then read Luke. How amazing is our God. I have heard these verses many, many times, but I can't describe how they soaked in this time.
    I just let myself get in between me and the Lord when I start worrying and fretting about little stuff.
    What a friend we have in Jesus. That is so true and so wonderful to know.
    Thank you again, my friend, you are a true blessing to me.
    I'll probably slip again, but, I know where to go for help. To my Lord and Saviour.
    May God bless you and your family.
    Love,
    Debby
     
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