Baby Baptism and Beyond

baptism bishopTo the Church about to Baptize My Baby:

Be warned.

It’s all cuteness and lace now, but in no time at all, my little baby boy- after a brief sojourn in childhood- will hit adolescence. His hormones will kick in and quickly conspire to undo all the good you’ve done in him.  These will be the years that he’ll push you, Church.

He’ll suddenly wonder how Jonah could survive that dark trip in the whale’s belly. He’ll argue that David may have bested Goliath but that he’s no match for Tom Brady and, besides, David’s hardly the unblemished hero his Sunday School teachers made him out to be. Proud of himself, he’ll point out that Noah never would have had to build the ark had God not decided to flood everything and everyone in the world.

He’ll push you, and if you’re not up to the challenge he’ll be tempted conclude that everything you’ve taught him and everything you teach is, at best, a fairy tale and, at worst, a lie.

And this might be the first time someone he knows or loves dies.TrophyGrace_06_trophiesofgrace

When that happens, Church, you better not resort to clichés. You better be prepared to show him resurrection-of-the-body hope at work among you.

You might as well get ready now, Church, because when those years arrive you will have to struggle just to have your voice heard above all the callings that claim his attention and tempt his loyalty.  Just when time seems to race by for his parents, tomorrow will seem forever away to him. Everything, from the face he sees in the morning mirror to the fickle loyalties of his friends, will change almost every day.

And whether he knows it or not, Church, what he will need from you all is a community of constancy. He will need a people who refuse to let go of him, who refuse to let go of what they know to be true and enduring, who refuse to let him slip away before he learns to describe his world with the language you speak.

prodigal_sonAnd he’ll never admit it to you Church, but what he’ll need in those years is a place where he need not wear a mask, a place where vulnerability isn’t a dirty word, a place where a life of mercy and love and gratitude is a viable and even compelling alternative.

And then he’ll start high school. You’ll only have four years of Sundays left with him. Be warned: it will be harder for you to get his attention because he’ll no longer be listening to your words.

He’ll be looking at your life.

I know, scary right?

When he worships with you, he’ll wonder if you’re as friendly as you think you are. He’ll wonder if you ever experience awe and mystery or whether you’re just ticking off your weekly obligation and hoping it won’t be too boring. He’ll wonder if you’re loose and free enough to allow the Spirit to enter your worship.

And your lives.

He’ll look at your life, Church, and he’ll question whether you conform your views and worshipvalues to the God of Jesus Christ or whether you’ve sketched an idol in your own un-threatening image. He probably won’t put it in those words, Church, or any words at all for that matter, but trust me he’ll be thinking it.

In these years, his BS Radar will be acute so you better not patronize him, Church. You have a tendency to do that when a young person puts you on your heels by asking questions. You better learn how to treat him as a member of the Body of the Christ.

This may be the last time you have his attention. So, for his sake, I hope you lead a life that leads to the Gospel.

And I pray that, just when he’s being pressured and pushed to get ahead, to pursue his future, to achieve success, and to grab after his dreams, by then you will have taught him that servant-hood is the only path that leads to treasure.

Good 2A place where he’ll find the Lamb of God in your flesh. A place where he’ll discover the coming Kingdom previewed in your lives. A place where he’ll learn that God is to be found among the lame and the poor and the outcast- not because you tell him but because you, Church, invite him to come and see for himself.

When my baby boy becomes an old man, when his waist is slightly thicker and his hair a little thinner- when he has a whole new set of questions, new hopes and different struggles ahead- I hope he will be able to remember his baptism and be thankful.

There will come a time- there always does- when my boy will look desperately for where the living God can be found. When that time does come, Church, I hope he will have a community who won’t just shrug their shoulders, who won’t refer him to the pastor, who won’t quote the Bible at him or try to prove anything to him.

Don’t you dare do that to him, Church.

baptismal font 2Instead you better be able, because of the integrity of your life, to say to him: ‘Come and See.’

Church, that’s the sort of Church I would want to give my life so I’m willing to bet he’d give his life to it too.

In closing, Church-

Before the water hits my baby’s head, I hope the irony will have hit you upside yours: my boy will never be able to live out his baptism if you, Church, don’t live out yours.

Sincerely, A Concerned Parent

Jason Micheli blogs

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Best of 2014 – Volume 10

$Best of 2014 2If the dying process occurs consciously & deliberately, it is an extremely accelerated ripening toward mature fruitfulness.

Your destiny was predestined.
– predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son -Romans 8:29
– predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself -Eph 1:5
Outside of this you are free to do anything you desire.

So many people are living a dehydrated Christ life…of grace to live imperfectly, courage to stand up to opposition, trust in the character of God, understanding the purpose of suffering, being loved in correction, faith for the impossibilities in life, resiliency in working through relational problems, mercy to overlook offenses, charity to not hold others captive, character to fight through flaws without succumbing to a victim’s mentality…

We live in a society with elderly people, but very few elders. Elders have a wider, long distance lens. They are patient with first half of life folks who are still ego-driven, because they know they were there once, too. Healthy cultures have been guided by such wise sages. -Fr Richard Rohr

Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us. -AW Tozer

If arbitrary statements of right and wrong are no use, how in the world can we be certain that the incidents which happen are injustices? -Chesterton

Eucharist is God’s answer to our incessant need for answers.

How tragic that the sermons you listen to market God into your life rather than martyr your life into God.

The Christian mystics always go to the Trinitarian level, because here God is a verb more TrinityHistoricthan a noun.

If we impose our understanding of schedule & timing on Jesus, we will struggle to feel loved by Him. -Tim Keller

The almost impossible thing is to hand over your whole self to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. -C.S.

Give without remembering and always receive without forgetting.

“The Bible was not inspired by a ventriloquist God. The divine voice passes through the sacred text like a stormy wind through the foliage of the forest.” -Nicolás Gómez Dávila

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Best of 2014 – Volume 9

$ Best of 2014My assumption is that for most of you the Book of Revelation is like that acid-trip, boat ride scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Revelation is telling you the same story the Gospels tell you. He’s telling you the Passion story- only not from the perspective of those gathered near Jesus’ cross but from the perspective of heaven.

What Revelation wants you to see is that if you could sit down in Heaven’s throne and look down upon the cross and see it as the angels see it, then what you would see is a battle, a cosmic battle.

Revelation reveals how the finished work of Christ plays out in everyday life on a personal, local, global and universal scale.

Hearing is a human ability. Listening is a grace of being.

Sad that the prophetic voice of the church is the sound of church research and trends rather than theological mad men.

As long as man sees religion as a source of satisfaction for his own needs, it is not God whom he serves but his own self. -Rabbi AJH

Leading a church is hard because people are mainly committed to themselves. – Darrin Patrick

As Christians we believe war is but a name for the powers defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The best proof of the genuineness of your Christianity occurs inside your home. – Swindoll

The most critical decision in your life and the one that will have the biggest long term impact is, Will I remain open to fathering?

If you think eating together as a family isn’t important then you don’t have a family or you don’t yet have children. The same can also be said of a church family.

Wholeness is the new Happinesscontemplation

Suffering is the necessary dying that the soul must walk through to go higher, further, deeper, or longer. The saints called these dyings “nights,” darkness, unknowing, doubt. This is when you grow—but “in secret.”

Our secular world has almost no spiritual skills to deal with this now, so we resort to addictions, and other distractions to get us through our pain and sufferings. This does not bode well for the future of humanity. Only truly inspired souls choose to fully jump on board this ship of life and death. The rest of us waste our time blaming or playing the victim to our own advantage. Fr Rohr

How to know if you are married to the right person. Short answer: Look at the name on the marriage certificate. -John Piper

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Best of 2014 – Volume 8

$Best of 2014 2A Church without a Table is like a Castle without a Throne.

When you become comfortable with being uncomfortable, there is no limit on your growth. Embrace discomfort. – Dr Henry Cloud

“The only opportunity you will ever have to live by faith is in the circumstances you are provided this very day.” -Eugene Peterson

The thing isn’t that they defy morality by saying sin has no punishment; it’s that they defy science by saying action has no consequence. -Chesterton

Detox your anxiety, worry & fear by sitting in solitude and silence until you are safely through the shakes and the sweats.

The more that wisdom enters our hearts, the more we will be able to trust our hearts in difficult situations. Notice that wisdom is not cramming our head with principles. It is developing a discerning heart.

The best view comes after the hardest climb. -WT

My salvation experience was more severe than I thought. I had another episode last night.

A good portion of the church is in love with love, not in love with Jesus.

God gave us the mind to protect the heart, not to usurp it.

Some pastors have been anointed by a flask of oil (Saul), others by a horn of oil (David) and there is a noticeable difference.

123The pulpiteers of evangelicalism replaced the center of the church (table and font ) with a pulpit. For the past 20 years the CULTure of the church has been the “praise band” and with that has been the growing night club atmosphere of darkness and show lights. Why do we worship in the dark? Is it to try and create something we don’t have? Seeking artificial presence rather than incarnational presence.

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Best of 2014 – Volume 7

$Best of 2014 2The most significant visions are not cast by great orators from stage. They are cast at the bedsides of our children. -Andy Stanley

“Simplicity locates the spiritual life where it belongs – in the ordinary events of daily life.”

When the curtain goes up on the story of humanity, we see God in a flurry of breathtaking, dramatic actions that we rather blandly call “creation.”

Pastors don’t live off of a paycheck, but off of their hard earned investments (in people).

My Facebook wall is a grotto of etchings, sayings and songs that preserve me from inside the cave of my heart. They offer light into darkness. They provide space to my narrow confines. They speak into my silence. They carve their way into my being.

Start living again, stop creating this fake world to fit your brokenness! -Bsp Jakes

Watch out: there are tests connected with prosperity that are far worse than adversity.

“A life of faith is an original life.” Eugene Peterson

“A new logo is nice, a new brand is wonderful, but if the old culture persists you are destined for self sabotage!” – TD Jakes

“Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” –The Skin Horse in The Velveteen Rabbit

Great Leaders: they listen more to God before they talk to people and they listen more to people before they talk to God.

“Church is the textured context in which we grow up in Christ to maturity.” Pastor Eugene Peterson

The disease is common, the patient is unique. -Rabbi AJH

We should not counsel what should be cast out! TD Jakes

“We are not the church when we come to church if we’re not the church before we come to church.” — Dallas Willard

human spiritA regular practice of meditation will reinforce the neural pathways that bring us to wholeness, while also refusing to strengthen any toxic, self-destructive, or negative pathways. Without such changing of our “software” real and sustained change is almost impossible. We might have new information, but it will be the old self processing that information.  -Fr Richard Rohr

This last post by Fr. Rohr was the moleskine entry of the year for me.

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Best of 2014 – Volume 6

$Best of 2014 2If you believe that Jesus came to die then the gospels are very long introductions.

Spend your life meditating on the holy Trinity and all your questions will be answered.

Get the pastor out of church and into the community. “The more one is united to his neighbor the more he is united to God.” -St Dorotheos

“If you target the people nobody wants, God will give you the people everybody wants” -Tommy Barnett

People avoid risks in life so they can make it to death safely.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford

This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there’s a rumor going around that some of us are someday going to come to life.

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would like complete destruction.

Don’t go to a church that feeds you. Go to a church that makes you hungry. -Mike Patz

The scriptures are valuable not for what they prove, but for what they reveal.

“The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the servants heartworld” AW Tozer

The Bible is the transcript of God’s heart.

When you grow up in poverty you never believe that it will be a benefit to your children.

Serve people indiscriminately.  Walk toward need.

Texting is taking away from us our unique ability to be able to speak (humans are the only God creature on earth who can talk).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Best of 2014 – Volume 5

$Best of 2014Inverted Christianity is where we invite the Spirit to follow us. I wonder if churches do to people what zoos do to animals. We try to remove the risk, the danger, the struggle and what we end up with is a caged Christian. When I pronounce the weekly benediction am I sending dangerous people into their natural habitat to wreak havoc on the enemy?  – Pastor Mark Batterson

It is easier to form a church for Christ than it is to form Christ in a Church. Gal 4:19

If you don’t have the character to match your theology, then your spirituality is not your reality.

We must flatly say that one of the greatest barriers to meaningful spiritual formation in Christlikeness is overconfidence in the spiritual efficacy of “regular church services”.             -Dallas Willard

“The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women. Instead of studying books so constantly, how I wish that our schools and colleges might learn to study men and things.” – Booker T Washington

“avoid a sugar-coated gospel. seek the gospel that rips up, wounds and even kills, for that’s the gospel that makes alive again.” CH Spurgeon

If you listen to most inspirational commentary all of YOUR changes, miracles, open doors, and breakthroughs are supposed to happen all around you, but rarely do you ever hear them talk about the transformation that needs to occur within you.

Don’t buy the infomercial products of a better outer life without paying for the beauty of an inner life.

family_ministry_picA side-effect of losing intimacy with God is we start doing ministry out of memory rather than imagination.

I thought it was a hard life, but my pastor friend wrote me last night and said, “thank you for continuing to live the sacrificial life.” – paradigm shift or a paradise shift?

Living by faith is not an individual adventure, it is a team of people traveling together that continuously spot each other hiking through the switchbacks of a mountain called grace.

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