Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baptism - Identification

But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.
Matthew 3:14-15 (NIV)

John’s Baptism was a baptism of repentance. Jesus requested a baptism of repentance. But why? Jesus was perfect. He knew no sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 testifies, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” Jesus is baptized with a baptism of repentance so that he could identify with us as the sacrifice for our sins.

Fast forward to Christian Baptism. In Christian Baptism we are identifying ourselves with Christ, His death, burial and resurrection as we go down into the water and then come up again. Romans 6:4 teaches us, “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.”

Just as Jesus identified Himself with our sinfulness, we identify ourselves with the abundant life He gives us through the victory He won for us on the cross. He identifies with our weakness and we identify with His strength. What a wonderful picture of God’s love and power shown to us in baptism.

Baptism is an important step in our Christian walk. It is a requirement for the obedient disciple. Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:21, “this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.” We celebrate with those obedient to God following Him in water baptism!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Valentine's Day

...the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards were sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Beyond all the cards imagine all the gifts, candy, and flowers. Why all the fuss? All because of LOVE!

Of the three great Christian virtues faith, hope, and love, the Bible teaches us that love is the greatest. 1 John 4:16 tells us that God is love. Love is the ultimate test of our Christian faith (1 John 4:20). The ultimate act of obedient discipleship is to love God first and foremost and then love others as yourself (Mark 12:30). The Bible is clear, we are nothing without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

But what is love? It is pretty clear that our culture doesn’t understand what true love is. So we go back to the Bible, our guide for life, to understand what true love is. This Valentine’s Day discover the characteristics of love. Read, meditate on, and then apply what you learn about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7...

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge

From My Book Shelf... Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge

Every now and then in my blog to our church I like to share with you the books that I’m reading that really help, challenge, and inspire me. My hope is that these books do the same for you.

What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces. 

With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic. They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement: Marriage is fabulously hard. They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we'll find our way through. 

LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own.