Discovering deficiencies

“On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5). Paul found some in Ephesus who did not even know of the Holy Spirit. They knew only of the baptism of John. And so Paul explained the baptism of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And when these twelve people heard Paul’s explanation, they were baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Have you ever considered that there may be some of your understanding of the way of Jesus that is limited and deficient? Are you open to hearing about the areas in which your understanding is incomplete?

Repentance, baptism, and fellowship

“At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay” (Acts 16:33). The jailer’s washing the wounds of Paul and Silas was such a beautiful expression of repentance. This tender act has me asking myself, “When is the last time you expressed repentance with a action that so clearly communicated your repentance?”

“He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God” (Acts 16:34). After the jailer and his family were baptized they shared a meal with Paul and Silas. There are so many jokes minimizing the importance of food in fellowship activities. Some mock “bellyship.” Others laugh at church casseroles. But, how many times did Jesus share a meal with people? And here, the shared food was a symbol of the joy of sharing life.

The Gathering

“We gather for worship to remember who and whose we are. We come to recount the stories that shape our faith, stories that turn us from a collection of individuals into a community with a common source and vision. The church as a worshiping community carries our biblical faith and spiritual tradition down through the ages to each individual. We are joined to that community in Baptism, tutored in faith through the interpretation of scripture in preaching, and nourished at the Lord’s Table as a family of believers. Life in the church teaches us that we are made for a communion not only with God but with one another in Christ.”
–Marjorie J. Thompson in Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, p. 60.

The Fullness of the Spirit

“The failure and poor performance of many Christians are evidence not of their need to be baptized with the Spirit (even the proud, loveless, quarrelsome and sin-tolerant Corinthian Christians had been baptized with the Spirit), but of their need to recover the fullness of the Spirit which they have lost through sin or unbelief.”

John R. W. Stott
From Baptism and Fullness, p. 66.

Drought Puts Church’s Baptisms On Hold

Tuesday while I was in Memphis for a funeral and my step-father’s oncology appointment a few drops of rain hit the car windshield. I say a few drops, but I can be more specific because I counted them. That’s right, I counted the raindrops. There were 14 that hit the windshield of my car.

Why am I counting raindrops? We have not had any measureable rain at my house since sometime back in July. We had none throughout the entire month of August. We have done some watering to keep the bushes alive but the grass was scorched several weeks ago.

I have done some complaining about our situation. I have prayed for rain.

But suddenly I’m not in so much of a complaining mood. What made the difference? I read this article about the drought in Rock Springs, SC that is so severe some churches have had to delay baptisms. Now that is a serious drought!

So What’s New?

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).

“. . .having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:12-14).

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).

Paul makes it clear, we are buried with Christ, then raised so that we can live a new life with new hearts and new minds, with new passions and new pursuits.

So as I reflect on these passages I have to ask a simple question.

So what’s new?