Archives For Baptism

Great day I experienced with classes, super-sessions and keynote messages from some of the finest people in Christianity. I typed 10 pages of notes yesterday so I cannot include everything here but I want to give you some highlights that stood out to me.

Tuesday Morning, Mike Cope “Spiritual Intubation: How Community Keeps Us Alive” The Wizard of Oz: Revelation’s View of Community

  • “No church ever existed in a pure state. The church is made up of sinners. The fleas come with the dogs.” (Eugene Peterson)
  • Four characters who are known by their deficiencies. Much like Christians today.
  • Showing of who Oz really is. “The great Oz has spoken, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
  • Pergamum
    • It’s a great distance from Colorado Springs to Pergamum.
    • In Pergamum it was very, very different.
    • Everywhere people went they told two stories: the power of Rome and Greek gods and goddesses. Everywhere they went they are told that they are caught up in and how could they not believe it. It “has to be true.”  Every market, athletic event, silver item told them about temple worship.
    • Where is the Pergamum church of Christ?
      • A tiny…insignificant few.
      • Imagine holding on to the story of Jesus while walking among the temples and other places where the minority is huge.
      • Have you been the minority?
      • Power, honor, identity was wrapped up into gods and Rome not Christ.
    • Persecuted Christians get it
    • “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.” G. K. Chesteron
  • Deep Community is anchored in Jesus
  • Deep community has to be eschatological in nature.
  • Deep community is at its best when it is part of a mission…a larger story.

Tuesday Morning Keynote Kurt Johnston @kurtjohnston “Deep, Redefined”

  • Have you ever stopped and thought about all the things in youth ministry that you don’t do very well? We are great at trying to control the perceptions of other people. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great at creating perception of us.
  • Four truths I have learned that have 1) pointed out my shallowness and 2) led him into a deeper experience in faith.
    • Life is a squiggle
    • I need a travel partner
    • Busyness will keep you in the shallow end.
    • When you begin to have a long view of youth ministry

Tuesday Super Session Frank Viola @FrankViola “The Missing Ingredient”

Observations about ministry to young people:

  • Catch30 Crisis – Human beings go through developmental stages as they get old. When they are 30 they reassess every decision they made in their 20s and they either abandon what hey believed or abandon them. You don’t know where someone is spiritually until they are thirty. You could not serve in the house of God until you were 30. Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was 30. Young people need to be prepared for this.
  • There is a difference between youthful enthusiasm and spirituality. Most of the big Christian movements are built on youthful enthusiasm. The problem is that many operates on youthful enthusiasm and the well runs dry
  • You can’t pass on to those whom you minister to what you have not experienced yourself.
  • I have to prepare them for the forgotten beatitude. Blessed is he who is not offended by me.

Other Notes from class…

  • If you cut the bible in any place it will bleed Jesus Christ.
  • Moses and Christ
  • Creation and Christ
  • Isaac and Christ
  • Jacob and Christ
  • Conclusion  – #1 – Find Christ in the bible. #2 – Do business with the Lord

Tuesday Afternoon Class 1 Josh Graves @JoshGraves “The Bible Jesus Read: Genesis 1-2”

2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 5

  • We need a more mystical understanding of Scripture. But also how it calls us to new spaces.
  • “All Scripture” does not exist yet and he has in mind Torah.
  • Inspired…he does not infallible, inerrant. They never show up in the bible. Sometimes the most important work we do is not learning new things but relearning old things.
  • 2 Timothy is not about proving Scripture over science but it is about inviting people into God’s world in order to see the world differently and “to do something about it.”
  • These stories carry the freight in any given culture.

Genesis 1

  • God can’t help but to create. He is in control. The things God creates would not be believable if we have not seen them.
  • Everything else that has creativity or imagination that somehow it is all linked back to the God who started.
  • One of the ways Genesis invites us to go deeper and that we live in a good creation. Does not deny the dark side of life but he made everything and called it good.
  • Most people who tell the story of God begin with Genesis 3 and not Genesis 1.
  • We have to introduce paradox to our students. Life is full of joy and pain. Paradox is one of the greatest contribution to the Western world.

Tuesday Afternoon Class 2 Sally Gary @centerpeaceinc “Reaching out to Teens Who Identify as Gay and Lesbians”

Many who struggle with same sex attraction but still love the Lord.  Struggles do not divide us.

Starved for Intimacy. Facebook and its struggles for intimacy. Question is: How can we meet this need? This desire for community. There is a great need for this connection.

What teens learn from the world: Glee, Modern Family.

What teens learn from the church: Nasty messages about homosexuals from the church

What they need is looking for a safe place.

How to be a safe place?

Deal with our own fears.

  • Change our thinking
  • Change our language
  • Listen
  • Be consistent
  • Model the Love and Acceptance of Christ

Tuesday Night Keynote Frank Viola @FrankViola “God so loved the world vs. Love not the world.”

The world in the New Testament is used in two ways…

  1. Speaks of the material universe. Jesus of Nazareth is this world’s true Lord.
  2. A system or network or order of things designed to draw us away from God.

Historically Christians have taken two postures: 1) Retreated from the world’s system (Isolationism) 2) Enmeshed by the world and married to it.

The most miserable person is a Christian who is living in a way where deep inside them they are told to give something up and they can’t. When we are in community with other Christians the Holy Spirit is clearest.

The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is of the world.

2 Kind of legalists: 1) Salvation by works 2) I am going to take what the Holy Spirit has shown me personally and make it a law to you.

“The gospel spreads best not through force but through fascination” (Shane Claiborne)

Dinner in Colorado Springs: Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant

This was ranked #2 in Colorado Springs by TripAdvisor and it was awesome. I had Yebeg Alecha which was tender pieces of lamb marinated with butter then sautèed with ginger, garlic, and 12 spices. There were no forks but you had this roll that you put the meat and the sauce in. It was excellent. The owner’s name is Maya and they cooked everything to order so it took a while but the food was worth it. They have mostly organic food and a substantial vegetarian menu. I have never tried authentic Ethiopian cuisine but this was a must! Went a left the owner looked at me and said, “Go in peace.” I love her already.



Thought provoking video to start your weekend off right.  What are your thoughts from this?

Admittedly the first four lessons of this study is rich in theology but it is always important to have an exegetical framework before you make a biblical assertion.  One could say, “God is gracious” but if they do not understand why or how God is gracious then they are making a blind assertion.

Forgiveness in the New Testament might be a bit more familiar to us but it seems there is not much change in meaning from Old to New Testaments.  The Greek verb meaning to forgive is aphiēmi and has the general meaning of letting go or releasing (BDAG 156-57).  The imagery with the word is that there is a deep hold on to something (sin) or someone and the person holding on to this simply lets it go.  When our sins are forgiven we are released from moral obligation or consequence (ibid., 156).  In other words sin causes a separation of sorts and instead of God holding us in his hands it is our sin that is being held but forgiveness is the release of that sin and the grasping of our very souls.  Here is a brief (embarassingly so) summary of the New Testament and forgiveness…

  • Forgiveness comes from God but through the blood of the cross. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding” (Eph. 1:6-7; cf. Matt. 9:6 [Christ has the authority]; 26:28; Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:17; 9:11-28).
  • Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unforgivable (Matt. 12:30-32).
  • Forgiveness is required (commanded) between our brothers and sisters to the point that we cannot be forgiven by God unless we forgive others. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt. 6:14-15; cf. Matt. 18:21-35; Mark 11:25; Luke 7:47; 2 Cor. 2:5-7; Col. 3:13).
  • Like the Old Testament, there is totality in forgiveness. “Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’  And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary” (Heb. 10:17-18; 1 John 2:12).
  • Confession (public or private) is a precursor to forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
  • Baptism and forgiveness seems to have a dependent relationship much like confession. ““Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for theforgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38; cf. Mark 1:4)
  • There is a release not only from the charge of guilty between man and God but there is an emotional release when our sins are forgiven. “The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,  in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:6-11; cf. Rom. 4:7).

Take a deep breath…whew!!!  That is a lot to sift through isn’t it?  But…and this is a big but (don’t laugh at the pun)…the point is that the cross restores/creates our relationship with God and declares us not-guilty so that late at night when we are counting the ceiling tiles or staring at the fan we do not have to worry about where we will go if we do not wake up.

God Will Show Up

July 12, 2010 — 6 Comments

Main Street Youth Camp 2010 is over but the memories will dwell long in the deepest chambers of our minds.  We have many reasons to celebrate: fun times, laughter, new friends, challenging bible classes, stirring lessons.  But at the end of the day what matters most is that 7 people were baptized into Christ.  I am not sure what it is about camp that stirs people to get baptized.  I imagine it is a combination of prior longings, intense focus and being surrounded by a positive community.  I wonder if we play too much on emotion and if people get the wrong impression when they hear of 7 people getting baptized.  My response to that is that we are not the judge of people’s hearts and all we can do is make sure people understand the brevity of their decisions.  I talked with each one of them and each responded with such sincerity and clarity of their decision:

  • Robbie:  “Are you sure you want to do this?”  One person responded, “Oh yeah!  I am positive!” 
  • Robbie:  “Why do you want to do this?”  Another responded, “because I do not want to wonder where I am going to end up when I die.”
  • One young girl said, “Robbie, I want you to know that I am not doing this for anyone else and that this is my decision.”

It is hard to argue with that.  I want all youth ministers, preachers, elders, deacons and members alike to read this very carefully, “God will show up!”  If you pray about it, seek His word and surround yourself with Spirit-filled people then God will show up.  Period.  It was not some formula that I used or some pre-packaged kit ordered from Group Publishing, it was relationships and asking God to show up and trusting Him to do so.  That’s all.  That’s all.   Let these pictures speak for themselves…

We just got back from camp this past Friday and as a result we had 5 baptisms either at camp or just after camp.  I am amazed at students how much they know when it comes to be baptized.  People who you would think would have no clue about it actually come up and are very honest and forthright with what they have decided for their spiritual journey.  When it comes to baptism it seems teenagers will line up when they see their friends becoming baptized.  At camp 3 years ago we had 7 baptisms and this year marks another stream of baptisms.  The scenario usually occurs like this:

Student:  Robbie, I have been thinking a lot lately about my Christian walk and wondered if we could talk a little bit about it.  I am not sure what I need to do and was wondering if you could give me some advice. 

This is not something you encounter in Youth Ministry 101 class or any other college class.  Most ministers would say that is the time that you open up the Scriptures to them and teach them the gospel.  That might be true but often there is something behind their search that needs to be dealt with first.  For example, if they were to present the above scenario to me i wold probably ask them, “What events has prompted you to make this amazing decision?”  You would be surprised what people are going through when they approach you about being baptized.  Then there are the questions of re-baptism, decisions instead of discipleship, and other questions surrounding baptism.  As a result, I thought I would return to the Ministry Monday theme and discuss (from a Youth Minister’s perspective) some do’s and dont’s when it comes to baptism especially in the wake of summer camps and retreats when there is a lot of emotions anyways.

  • When a student asks to be baptized it is ALWAYS a good idea to make sure they understand the level of commitment that comes with being a Christian.  Often I fear we say that Christianity is an “easy” decision and living the Christian life is “simple” when in fact the opposite is true. 
  • When a student asks to be baptized make sure their parents are informed.  At camp we had a couple students that wanted to be baptized immediately and I would not go through with it until I heard from their parents.  This is a good thing as I wonder what it would look like from a parent’s perspective if their son or daughter came back and told them the “good news” that they were baptized when the parents had no clue about it.  I don’t even want to think about it. 
  • Be careful when it comes to emotions.  Emotions are a good thing but sometimes I wonder if we play on them too much at settings like camp and retreats.  The “fear of hell” sermons at camp are often the worst thing one could do in trying to encourage someone to be baptized.  I know many of you disagree with this but I want a student to have a relationship with someone who loves them and embraces them.  I love my wife not because I am afraid of what she can do but I love her because of what she is already doing.
  • When it comes to re-baptism make sure you ask the right questions.  Maybe they are simply wanting to confess something and so I would inform them that they do not have to be re-baptized all the time but simply to confess what is really going on is an avenue for them.  But if re-baptism will allow them to clear their conscience then by all means we must not hesitate.   
  • Make sure you are not baptizing people for the sake of numbers.  Pride is an issue most ministers struggle with and we tend to want to brag about how many we baptized (see my title for this blog entry with the exclamation points ;)).  Truth is…the Holy Spirit is the one who gets the credit on this and we are simply agents of God sent to preach his work to all people (Eph. 3:1-13).
  • Follow-up with them after baptizing them in the weeks and months to come.  The feeling of euphoria will wear off and reality will set in and pretty soon they will see the difficulties of the Christian walk.  They need to know you are there for them in this tough and most difficult time.  Be there!  Which brings me to my next point…
  • Baptism is only the beginning.  Many simply get wet and refuse to become disciples.  However there are some who think they have to know everything before they get baptized.  As with most things the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.  

Baptism is an amazing start but my concern right now is what we are doing after they are baptized.  We have created our own monster allowing ministers and teachers to be the ones who study while the brethren suffer for a lack of knowledge.  We need to be about the business of discipleship and I am not sure what that looks like but somewhere we need to sit down with people and really allow ourselves to be intentional with reading, studying and mentoring.  I am done for a Monday morning.  Blessings!