Tag Archives: baptism

Arrogance Perpetuates Ignorance

When I first became passionate about sharing my faith with others, I had a prepared presentation I would give anyone who would listen. If you were with me for more than a couple minutes, I was asking you questions to try and spark an opportunity to share the good news of Jesu with you. 

This zeal was fun, but it wasn’t balanced with humility. 

I had God’s plan of salvation, and I was certain it was the only way. I had it figured out, and there was nothing more to know concerning salvation. Because of this attitude I often became harsh, judgmental, and sometimes even angry when people challenged my ideals. 

Boy, did I have a lot to learn!

I still agree with much of what I tried to cram down people’s throats back then, but now I have a much more full view of the gospel message. The significance of Jesus is deeper than I knew in my early 20s. Baptism is so much more than a momentary ritual. Salvation means so much more than forgiveness of sins.

I now realize that to claim that I have full knowledge regarding Jesus and religion is arrogance that blinds me to further truth. 

I believe many of the things I did when I started into ministry, but if I had stopped my studies then, I wouldn’t understand grace and live the way I do now. I would have more experience, but I would be just as ignorant.

To know Jesus, and to walk in Him is to live a life of growth, learning more every day of the goodness that comes from life in Him. We should be ever striving to better ourselves through a more intimate relationship with the Father. We should be hungry for His words to help us know Him more and help us change to become more like Jesus. 

When I settle in my arrogance to think I know it all, I put myself above my brother. Pride brings about destruction. Many places in the scripture speak of this. The word is living and active. As I grow as a man, it shows me new things concerning my life and ministry. 

I hope to continually grow in my knowledge of the goodness of God, His grace and love. I pray you hunger for the same kind of growth. May we never become conceited, thinking we know all we need. May we never become arrogant, looking down on a brother who understands differently than us. May we choose love and grace over division based on understanding. 

May we be defined by our oneness in Christ as we seek to be more like Him every day. 


Modern Day Sanhedrin

IMG_1677

Have you ever heard of Passion Play Ministries International? It is an organization that tells the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus to thousands of people in many nations and cities in the US and around the world through a live-action drama. The play is a large production with hundreds of people in the cast and part of the crew. The headquarters for this ministry is in Farmington, NM of all places. Yet, with such a humble headquarters location they are doing great ministry in spreading the gospel of Jesus around the world.

I was privileged to get involved with the Passion Play of the Four Corners last year for the first time. My wife saw an ad somewhere stating that they needed singers, and that is something I love to do, so I decided to join. I was part of the choir last year and sang in the opening song as a trio with a couple other ladies. I was also the host pastor for a night where I got to lead the opening prayer and then invite people to respond to the gospel message at the end.

It was an amazing experience, and I can truly say they are changing lives – not only lives in the audience, but even lives within the cast and crew itself.

This year I went back to audition, and I was told that the choir was going to be practicing on Tuesday evenings. Well, I am solidly booked on Tuesdays with my position as den leader for the local cub scout pack, so I decided to do some reading and see if God wanted to use me for a speaking part this year. Apparently He does. I was told that night I was to report to the Sanhedrin block when rehearsals began.

The Sanhedrin? I was to be one of the bad guys who connived to have Jesus crucified. These were the legalists that had missed the heart of the message of the Messiah and therefore missed Him when He came to them.

Oh well, if that was where God wanted me to be then so be it. I began to read, and after a few nights the director of the Sanhedrin block of the cast informed me that he wanted me to play the part of Caiaphas. Really? Not only was I going to be a bad guy, but I was to be the worst one – the High Priest!!

As I have been learning my lines and preparing for my role it has really weighed on my heart the severity of the role I must play. I have to be angry at Him. I have to accuse Him. I have to reject Him. I have to be all the things I preach against each week as I minister. Sure, this is only a play, but the weight of the things, I must sa,y hang no less heavily on my heart.

The one idea that keeps coming back to me, though, is this: The religious leaders of the day – the Sanhedrin – rejected Jesus and everything He stood for because they didn’t understand Him, and they were threatened by His doctrine as they saw it required a change in their way of life and livelihood.

Don’t we do the same thing?

Don’t we reject Jesus as we decide day after day to give in to our selfishness instead of allowing Jesus to reign in our lives and call the shots? Don’t we ignore Jesus as we get caught up in our lives or even worse, our religion? Don’t we reject Him as we feel that following Him would require a change of lifestyle that will threaten our comfort on every level, even fincially? Are we not just as guilty as the Sanhedrin?

When Peter preached the first sermon about Jesus in Acts 2, he finished by saying, “You, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross…God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:23,36)

That verse is for us too. We crucify Jesus when we put our selfish desires above His. What does Jesus require in response? Repentance and Baptism (Acts 2:38). When you understand what you’ve done and keep on doing to Jesus it should bring about remorse that leads to repentance. When you see what He has done for you by willingly dying for you in spite of your rejection it should inspire a desire for allegiance to Him that leads you to baptism.

Don’t stay like the Sanhedrin. News is that even Caiapha, after the resurrection, became a follower of Jesus. It’s not too late for you to follow Him either.

If you would like to know more about Passion Play Ministries International you can find them on the web at www.passion-play.org.


What is the church of Christ?

IMG_1656

For over a hundred years there have been churches that refer to themselves as the Church of Christ. These churches have that sign on the door or out by the street, and many people recognize that there are certain things that make these churches unique.

However, the name that is used was never meant to be a name. It is and has always been a description of the people. The people are the church that belongs to Jesus, the Christ (Romans 16:16).

So what does the church that belongs to Jesus look like? The following is a list of ideas that Jesus presented which should be attributes of his followers. I encourage you to read this with your bible open following along with the passages referred to.

What is the church of Christ?

The church that belongs to Christ understands its need for forgiveness and is anxious to be able to extend that forgiveness to others. It is not a church that holds grudges. (Matthew 6:14-15)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks the Holy Spirit in the lives of each believer. They follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives as they live each day – not just on Sunday. This creates within them a fire, a passion, as they experience life in the presence of God who lives within them. (John 14:15-17, 26-27)

The church that belongs to Christ understands that belief in Jesus and connection with Him in baptism (immersion) are essential to salvation. They don’t try to argue this away. They accept it and are willing and eager to follow Jesus’ instructions and example in this manner. (Mark 16:15-16)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that unity with one another is essential to life in Him. They believe that this unity is key to their ability to evangelize to the world. They are not known for their division. (John 17:20-21)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that faith is essential to a person’s ability to follow Jesus. They recognize where their faith is weak and ask Jesus to strengthen their faith through the Spirit at work within them. They understand that without this faith it is impossible to please God. (Luke 17:5-6)

The church that belongs to Christ is a praying church. Prayer is seen as powerful and necessary to the connection and relationship between the church and God. They understand that it is through prayer that much of the power of Christ is released upon the world around them. They follow Jesus’ example of being constantly in prayer. (Luke 5:16; 11:1-13)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that He has called each one of us, no matter our past, to evangelism – to tell others about Him. This is not just the preacher’s job, but it is the role of each follower. A follower excited about his or her Savior cannot help but tell others about Him. (Mark 5:19)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that communion – partaking of the body and blood of Jesus – is essential to the life of the believer. They believe it is in communion with Jesus that relationship with Him is fostered as often as it is taken. (John 6:53-56)

The church that belongs to Christ doesn’t make it a practice to stand in judgment of others. They are accepting of all people because they recognize that all have sinned, and everyone has need for the same Savior. (Matthew 7:3-5)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks the reign of God, His kingdom, in their lives each day. This is not relegated to once or twice a week in a certain building but is shown by a lifestyle devoted to following God in every decision and action daily. (Matthew 6:33)

The church that belongs to Christ is full of flawed people who haven’t got it all figured out. They are broken people who are trying their best to allow God to change them, but it is a daily process, and some days are better than others. This creates an atmosphere of equality among all people regardless of race, age, gender, or class. (Matthew 9:12-13)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks to obey Him in all things. They see their obedience as part of their faith. (John 14:15)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks to show mercy and grace to all whom they come in contact with. They understand that they have been shown mercy and grace by Jesus and seek to reflect Him to others. (Matthew 5:7; 9:13)

The church that belongs to Christ is in the business of disciple-making. They aren’t interested in merely inviting someone to a weekend service. They want to help one another grow in their understanding and ability to follow the teachings of Jesus. (Matthew 28:18-20)

The church that belongs to Christ is compassionate. They seek to show that compassion in the world around them and seek nothing in return. (Luke 10:33-37)

The church that belongs to Christ is generous because it understands that everything it has has been given by the One who owns everything. It understands that the money and possessions it acquires are to be used to glorify God by helping others. It gives generously as an act of worship. (Mark 12:42-44)

The church that belongs to Christ focuses on what Jesus said are the most important ideas: Love God and Love your neighbor. This church is recognized by its love. The world all around knows there is something different about the church that belongs to Jesus because it loves like no other entity does – masses of followers banding together to be an example of love to everyone around them. (Matthew 22:35-40)

The church that belongs to Christ doesn’t worry about names on building or denominational association. This church is boundless. It has no borders. It is found in every church as people claim allegiance to the Savior who died and rose again. (John 10:16)

The church that belongs to Christ follows Jesus. No. Matter. What. (Matthew 10:38; 16:24-26)

This is the church of Christ. It’s not a name on a building but a way of life. It is all people who choose to follow Jesus – his examples and his teachings. Are you a part of that church?


Believers, Demons, and Christians. Oh my!

20140320-233331.jpg

Are you a Christian? What does that mean?

There are all kinds of Christians in the world. Some are republican and some are democrat. Some are one kind of denomination and some are another. Some Christians go to war and some don’t. Some Christians use hate and fear-mongering to persuade people to Christ, and some don’t.

People who go by the term “Christian” have done all sorts of things in the name of their religion. They have killed and enslaved and rationalized and warred and devalued all in the name of Jesus.

But are they really Christians?

Some people say they are Christians, but they’ve never been baptized. They claim to believe in Jesus. They may even have said some prayer, but does that make them a Christian?

The bible says that even the demons believe. Does that mean demons are Christians?

Jesus said whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Where’s the sinners prayer there? By the way, some people use a different verse that talks about the confession of Jesus as Lord and say that means that baptism isn’t necessary. As best I can tell I have to look at all of the bible and not just one or two verses. When Jesus defined salvation he talks about belief (the first step) and baptism (the marriage ceremony).

If you’re reading this and you haven’t begun your walk with Jesus by being united with Him in baptism, then what are you waiting on? I’d love to talk with you more about that. It’s not magical or hard, but when you realize what’s going on there, you will see that it is beautiful.

Ok. Ok. Ok. So some of you have been baptized. Does that make you a Christian?

Jesus calls us to follow him. Does your life reflect his? I’m not talking about looking at his rules and regulations; I’m talking about his life. What characterized Jesus? Does that characterize you?

So many people pay attention to all the rules of Christianity. They obey them well, but they’ve missed out on two key attributes of the first people who were ever called Christians.

1. They were super excited and everyone around them knew it. Who could blame them? They had just been saved from themselves. All of their junk and baggage and mess-ups and hang-ups had been forgiven by the Messiah. Even better – they were considered children of God! They could have relationship with God! They weren’t treated like prisoners waiting to mess up so that they could receive the chopping block. They were free – totally free – from all that hinders them: traditions, illness, legalism, oppression, worry, selfishness, sin! Sure, they still dealt with those things reflected in others, but they were no longer hindered. They were set free, and they lived free.

2. In their excitement they loved intensely. They loved those in their towns. They loved the slaves and women and children in a time where those groups were ostracized. They loved the tax collectors who were considered by their fellow citizens as traitors. They loved the people who ruled over them even though it was an oppressive regime. They loved in ways that made them stand out from the world, and the world responded.

Sometimes their love and excitement would create conviction in the hearts of those around them. These Christians weren’t standing on street corners yelling “Turn or burn!” They were loving everyone – even the unloveable. Their love showed up in stark contrast to the selfish lives of all those around them. So this love and excitement brought harsh persecution, and you know what? The Christians rejoiced even in their persecution! Nothing could get them down.

Other times, though, their love and excitement stirred up a desire in others to have the same results in their lives. People came to Jesus left and right because his followers actually lived like Jesus. Sure they messed up. Sure they sinned, but they weren’t burdened with the constant chastisement from their brothers and sisters in the faith. They were encouraged to move on – to stop sinning – and continue to love.

You see, many people think they are Christians, but they are not. A Christian is a person who has chosen to live as best as they can in the light and example of Jesus – an example of perfect love. When that person falls short of perfection (which happens a lot) they live in the grace and forgiveness that Jesus continually gives through his death and resurrection.

Christians are more than believers. Christians are more than rule-followers. Christians are people who live like Jesus. Don’t ignore how Jesus has commissioned you to begin your relationship with Him. And when you do begin, don’t be the kind of Christian that the world expects – harsh, grumpy, judgmental, spiteful, hate-filled, rule-driven people. Be the kind of Christian that your life speaks louder than your words. Love will do that. Live in love.


Time is of the Essence

20130903-113353.jpg

Do you ever feel like you have enough time in the day? Are you a busy person? Are you a procrastinator? Does time seem to be moving faster and faster the older you get?

The other day my kids were watching a movie on Netflix. It was a kids show about some children who are spies (conveniently called “Spy Kids”). The dilemma in this show was that the bad guy was stealing time. He was making the clocks all around the world speed up.

The problem was that he was doing it for a good reason. He had lost his father and was trying to teach all people around the world to value the time they have with others. I think the bad guy had a good point.

We take for granted what becomes commonplace in our lives. Through the years we become accustomed to the idea that there will be tomorrow. We make decision based on plans for the future.

The other day I heard a sad story of a person who took the future for granted. This person had been studied with about Jesus and what He did to save us. This person believed the message and wanted to be baptized to give his life to The Lord, but in the end he decided to put it off until a later date.

Fast forward several years, and the person has still not dedicated his life to Christ. He out it off until a better time but that better time seemed to never come. When the decision was in the forefront of his mind he let other factors influence his decision to do what was right. Now he’s dead.

Death is finality. There is no more opportunity for the things you wished to do to come true. The decisions you neglected stay neglected. You are given one shot at living this life.

Hebrews says, “It is destined for man to die one and then to face judgment.” Reincarnation isn’t an option. There will be no time after death to undo the mistakes of your past. All of those mistakes need to be dealt with right now.

That’s why every time we read of someone being convicted of their need for Christ in the New Testament there was immediate response in baptism.

Time is of the essence. Time is fleeting. Now is the time to do what is right. Don’t put off till tomorrow what should be done today. All of these clichés are appropriate for you if you know you need to come to Christ but have been putting it off.

Have you been baptized? Have you been forgiven? Do you have the Spirit living in you? If not, then don’t wait until a better time to get that fixed. The time is now. God is calling.


Not Good Enough – A Dilemma

20130822-085556.jpg

I’ve grown up going to church. My grandfather and great-grandfather were song leaders in the church of Christ, and my parents had us at the building pretty much every time the doors were open. Church has always been a part of my life.

I had great teachers in bible class as a kid. They taught us wonderful bible stories and the message of Jesus. We even went and competed at bible bowls. But my greatest teachers were my parents and grandparents. They were the ones who not only told me about the messages of the bible but showed them to me in their lives.

Needless to say I grew up knowing about sin and death and love and joy and Jesus and salvation. There was this problem, though. Once I got to Jr. High I knew I wasn’t good enough to deserve that salvation.

No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t be good enough. I knew all the answers to the bible questions. I was in church every week, but I didn’t feel like I could come to Christ because my sin was still in the way. In fact, I remember going to a church down in South Texas while we were visiting some friends, and I had all the answers in bible class. One of the other students asked me why I hadn’t been baptized since I “knew all the right answers”.

I knew I didn’t know everything – and still don’t – but I knew I needed Jesus.

This was a huge struggle for me. I wanted to be free from my sin, but I didn’t feel like I could stay good enough once I was baptized. I felt like the baptism wouldn’t stick. I’d still be a sinner.

One Sunday morning during my sophomore year I was listening to the sermon, and it dawned on me: I couldn’t be good enough. I needed Jesus to make me good. It was when I realized this that I gave my life to Christ and was baptized.

I’m still a sinner. But now I understand that my baptism was the beginning of a process that would take my whole life – a process to make me look more like Jesus. In the meantime, His blood cleanses me from the sins I continue to commit. I’m a weak sinner, but He’s a tireless Savior.

Paul reminds the Romans of who they were when they came to Christ when he says “while we were STILL SINNERS Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 emphasis added). Jesus didn’t wait for us to be perfect before He came to save us. If we could achieve that on our own we wouldn’t need a savior.

If you’re waiting until you’re a better person before you dedicate your life to Christ in baptism, then you’re going to always be waiting. You’ll never be good enough, but thank God that once you come to Him He makes you good. He declares you worthy.

He’s waiting for you to answer the call, and He’s been calling for a while.


Celebrating the Wrong Birthday

20130531-092835.jpg

The other day was my son’s birthday. It was a wonderful day to remember the years and how he has grown so much. I’m very proud of him.

I remember when he was born. I remember so many of his “firsts” as he learned and experienced new things. He has made me proud, so why wouldn’t I celebrate his birth?

Or culture makes a really big deal out of birthdays. It is easy for parents to get caught in a trap of having to outdo last year’s party so as not to disappoint. Birthday parties become more and more expensive each year, and that’s not even regarding the presents.

It seems like every day I have a whole list of friends who are celebrating their birthday. The funny thing is, however, these celebrations are a relatively new concept for “normal” folk.

Birthday celebrations have their origin in paganism as people believed evil spirits would visit a person on the day of their birth each year, so they would surround themselves with people who were jolly in order to keep the spirits at bay. The ones who celebrated birthdays for the sake of celebration were usually noblemen or kings with the money to celebrate with much pomp.

Birthday celebrations are much fun, and I enjoy them each time they come around, but is this the biggest event we should celebrate in our lives each year?

Maybe we are celebrating the wrong event.

In Luke 15:10, Jesus says these words, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

When you come to Jesus the angels throw a party in heaven!

Maybe we should take a cue from the angels. When a person is baptized, maybe we should throw a party. Then, maybe we should be celebrating that new birth each year.

Do you remember the day you came to Christ? My physical birthday is coming up in June, but my spiritual birthday – the day my sins were washed away and I received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) – is September 8. That’s the day the angels threw a party for me.

When is your spiritual birthday? If you haven’t had it yet, the angels are waiting to throw a party for you.


%d bloggers like this: