Tag Archive for: baptism

How do you prepare for mission? What information do you need? Whose direction do you follow? When it comes to mission, information and direction are important, but who you listen to, and who you follow is crucial. When it comes to mission, it matters where you start.

Listening to God   

When preparing for mission, start with listening to God and learning about God’s mission, the “missio Dei.” In other words, get involved in God’s business. It is your responsibility, as a Christ-centered leader, to focus upon, learn about, and live into God’s mission. 

It is your responsibility to be about God’s business, not only for yourself but for the people entrusted to your care. As you learn about God’s mission, you equip people to be about God’s business. You prepare for mission by introducing people to God’s business and equipping them to be about God’s business. 

What is God’s Business?

Being about God’s business begs the question, “What is God’s business?” The one true and authentic business of the church is God’s love, agape. Agape is to work for the well-being of people. Because you have been loved by God, you now love as God has loved you. With that in mind, God’s love flows directly through every person and every congregation who follows Jesus.

When people love one another as they have been loved, they are about God’s business. When the church is loving the people in the community it is about God’s business. So, what is God’s business? It is loving God and loving others. It is loving others as you have been loved in and through Jesus. 

Get Involved in God’s Business

“How do we get involved in God’s business?” The truth is we are invited to participate in God’s business through baptism.  At every baptism you are reminding people of who they are, “a beloved child of God.” 

You are reminding them of their “call” to ministry. As much as you might want to make baptism a personal and individualistic event, it is more of a claim upon your life and a call to be about God’s business in the community and the world. 

Baptism is an invitation into God’s business and “to remember your baptism” is to be reminded of your invitation.  

Let’s look at Matthew 3:13-17 as one story of being invited into God’s business. 

Read Matthew 3:13-17 

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him, and he saw God’s Spirit descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from the heavens said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  

Reflect on Matthew 3:13-17

At his baptism, Jesus was claimed by God. The words, “This is my son” come from Psalm 2. The words were spoken on the occasion of the crowning of the king of Israel. Jesus was claimed by God to be king or to have authority. As you know, his kingdom is not a geographic location but, in the hearts, minds, and actions of people. Baptism is the acknowledgment of trust and obedience to the “authority” of Jesus in your life.  

So, at your baptism, you were claimed by God and given authority to be about God’s business. 

Baptism is a Commissioning to Ministry

Then the words, “My Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased,” comes from Isaiah 42. It is part of the description of the suffering servant of God, the one who gives his life. It means giving your life in loving, serving, and caring for people. In other words, here is my son, the servant, the one through whom I love others. Baptism is a commissioning to ministry. It is a commissioning to be about God’s business in the community and the world. 

So, at your baptism, you were commissioned to be about God’s business in the places you live, work, and play. You were commissioned to let God love others through you. 

You are a Beloved Child of God

When Jesus left the Jordan River, he went about God’s business of feeding, healing, caring for, and serving people. In each of the four gospels, there are stories of Jesus being about God’s business. John even tells us that Jesus knelt and washed the feet of his disciples as part of God’s business. 

As a leader, you are reminding people that they are God’s children, and as God’s children, they are about doing God’s business of feeding, healing, caring, serving others in the love in which they are loved. When you say the words, “Remember your baptism,” you are reminding followers of Jesus to remember they are beloved children of God, and they are to be about God’s business of loving and serving other people.  

God’s Call and Commission

In the church, at every baptism, we are challenged to remember that God has claimed us as God’s children and has commissioned us to be about God’s business. As personal as people might want baptism to be, it is a communal event. 

The community of faith takes a vow to help you and all the baptized community to “Do all in your power to increase their faith, confirm their hope, and perfect them in love.”   

Claimed by God 

You have been claimed by God for something bigger than yourself, bigger than a denomination, bigger than your congregation. You are claimed by God to be about God’s business in your family, with the people with whom you work, and with every person you encounter.  

To remember your baptism is to remember to be about God’s business of love, care, and acceptance in response to God’s love and acceptance of you. You are a beloved child of God who has been commissioned to love others as you have been loved. It is a reminder to be about God’s business. 

Being about God’s business is who you are, and who you are is how you lead.  

Respond to God’s Call and Claim on Your Life

Throughout the day, be mindful of how you are living out your baptism. Be aware of how you are a part of God’s business in the lives of the people you encounter today.

Reflect upon this story told by Fred Craddock. He tells of being a pastor of a church in Custer City, Oklahoma.  The population was about 450. There were four churches in town: a Methodist church, a Baptist church, a Nazarene church, and a Christian church. Each church had its share of the population and the attendance rose and fell according to harvest time and the weather.

He said that the most consistent attendance in town was at the little café where all the men gathered while their wives and children attended one of the four churches. The attendance at the churches would fluctuate, but the attendance at the café was consistent. The men were always there discussing the weather, cattle, wheat bugs, and crops. 

The patron saint of the group was a man named Frank. He was a good, strong, rancher, farmer, and cattleman about seventy-seven years old. He was born into poverty but prospered over the years. He had his credentials, and all the men there at the café considered him to be their leader.  They would laugh and say, “Old Frank will never go to church.”  

Craddock said that he first met Frank on the street. After some small talk, Frank spoke up and said, “I work hard, and I take care of my family, and I mind my own business.” He said that as far as he was concerned, everything else is fluff. Craddock said he interpreted the words to mean, “Leave me alone; I’m not a prospect.”  

He said that is why he was surprised, the whole town was surprised, and the men at the café were bumfuzzled when Frank, at seventy-seven years old, presented himself one Sunday morning for baptism.  Some in the community said that Frank must be sick, They said he must be scared to meet his maker. Some said “He’s got heart trouble, going up to be baptized. I never thought old Frank would do that, but I guess when you get scared…”  

There were all kinds of stories. But Craddock asked him, “Frank, do you remember that little saying you used to give me so much? ‘I work hard, I take care of my family, and I mind my own business’?” 

Frank said, “Yeah, I remember. I said that a lot.”  

“Do you still say that?”  

He said, “Yes.”  

“Then what is the difference?”  

Frank said, “Before I was baptized, I didn’t know what my business was.”  

Frank discovered what his business was. It was to love, care for, and serve people. Craddock baptized Frank. He said, “I raised my hand and said in the presence of those who gathered,” ‘Upon your confession of faith in Jesus Christ and in obedience to the command, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.’”  

So, remember your baptism. You are a beloved Child of God who is about the business of God. And what is that business? To love, care for, and serve the people you encounter each day.  

As you go about God’s business, be aware of the people God sends you to love.  

Prayer

O God, make me aware of the people around me today. By your grace, help me yield a little more of myself so that I may love others as you have loved me in Jesus. Help me be about your business as you make me a blessing to someone, somewhere, today. Amen

Return

Give God thanks for inviting you to God’s business. In what ways are you aware of God’s business today? Who were the people you encountered? How did you experience God’s love? In what ways did you model and share God’s love? With whom do you need to celebrate the love you experienced in and through them? What will you do differently tomorrow?

You are known. You are valued. It might even be you are seen for who you are and what you have done. I don’t know a person who doesn’t want those things. As human beings, it’s likely your desire to be taken seriously and to be valued for who God created you to be.

Again, I don’t know a person who feels complete when he or she feels marginalized. Settling for less than who you know you truly are, robs us of wholeness.

The writer of the Psalms agrees.

“…I praise you because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14).

You are uniquely created by God. You are one of God’s great accomplishments.

The Baptism of Jesus

The story of the baptism of Jesus affirms it as well. “…And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22).

When you are baptized, you are claimed by God and given a purpose. In fact, God says, “You are mine and I am proud of you.”

Even though you have been “remarkably and wonderfully made” and have been claimed by God as God’s very own, there are times you don’t live into who God has created you to be. Sometimes you just want to fit in because it is too painful or difficult to stand out. So, you live into less than who God intends for you.  Sometimes, you conform to a group’s standards because you “don’t want to draw attention to yourself,” or “rock the boat,” or “that’s the way things are done.” So, you give up a part of yourself to be a part of the group.

God has created you with unique talents that are to be used for God’s purposes.  But there are times you don’t explore or live into what gives you meaning and purpose because you feel selfish or you feel like you are taking a place that does not belong to you.

Who Are You?

I know how you feel, and I know what you are thinking.  I have lived much of my life with a false humility, saying that “I’m not good enough” or afraid to step out and lead, when deep inside knowing that it’s God’s goodness, not mine, that matters and that I have been given certain strengths and talents to lead in a particular and needed way. A few years ago, just to survive, I had to accept God’s claim on my life and live into the uniqueness of my personality and strengths. 

I went through a season of rediscovering myself and who God had created me to be.  As I listened to God say, “You are my child. I love you and I am proud of you,” I heard friends and colleagues say, “We believe in you.” Sometimes, to become who God created you to be, you have to answer the question, “What does it mean when someone believes in you when you do not believe in yourself?”

I don’t know what season of life or leadership you are in at this point in time, but I do know that to be whole and to be at peace with yourself and with others, to be who God created you to be, you have to be clear about who you are and your purpose in life.

So, here is what I want you to do.  This is for you and it is not hard to do.  I want you to take a few minutes to focus upon yourself and reflect upon what follows. 

Live into Your Name

As a Jesus follower, accept Who You Are. You have a name.  Live into your name. Let’s do it this way.

    Ross Marrs tells the story of being a teenager.  Before he went out on a date or to be with his friends, his dad you say, “Come here, Son.  What is your name?” 

     “Ross.”

     “What is your last name?”

     “Marrs.”

     His dad then would ask, “How do you spell that?”

     Ross would reply, “M-A-R-R-S.”

     His dad would say, “Does that sound like Smith, Altizer, or Miller?”

     Ross would reply, “No.”

     Then his dad would say, “So, be a Marrs.  Behave as a Marrs.”

As a Jesus follower, your name is Christian.  How do you spell that? C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N. Accept who you are.  You will become who you were created to be as you live into your name. Reflect upon how you can live more into your name as Christian.

Be At Home With God and With God’s Children. 

You have a home where you are not a stranger or a guest but God’s beloved child.       

You will become more who God created you to be when you allow God to shape your life and your living through relationships, through the people around you. Sometimes God will shape you through family, sometimes through friends, other times through colleagues or co-workers, and often times through strangers or enemies.

Take time to notice where God is showing up in the people around you. Experience God’s love through your children, grandchildren, spouse, nieces and nephews.  Begin to live as God’s beloved child and be generous with God’s other children who are loved as well. Become vulnerable in your relationships so that your heart and arms are open to God in and through your interactions. As you look for God, you will become more at home with God. 

Isaac Watts wrote these words:

Your sure provision gracious God attend me all my days.

Oh, may your house be my abode, and all my work be praise.

Here would I find a settle rest, while others go and come;

No more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home.

As a Jesus follower, you have a home. Your home is God. You will become who you were created to be when you are at home with God. Reflect upon how you can become more at home with God and God’s children. 

You Have A Purpose.

Your purpose is God’s business. 

You become who you were created to be when you see yourself involved in God’s business. Claim this reality: You have been chosen by God. You are God’s daughter, you are God’s son, you are loved. God is proud of you.  There is nothing you can do to earn God’s choosing or to deserve God’s love. God has already named you and claimed you. But you can decide to be about God’s business.    

As a Jesus follower, living into your name and being at home with God, you have the opportunity and responsibility to live as a loving, caring, healing, feeding, living, dying, rising child of God.

Look at Jesus, still wet from his baptism, he left the Jordan and went about God’s business.  Every crying person, every brokenhearted person, every hungry person, every diseased person, every alienated person, every suffering person was his business. God’s business was his business. He was to serve the needs of every human being.

As a Jesus follower, your purpose is God’s business. Want to become who you are created to be? Give yourself to the purpose for which you were created. Reflect upon how God has created you and how you were created to be a part of God’s business. 

If you’d like a little help with these reflections. Take the 5 question quiz we put together. Determine your “Season” of following Jesus and uncover your next step to grow as a Jesus follower.

What’s Your Business?

Let me wrap it up with this. My friend, Fred, tells the story of being a pastor, in a small town, early in his ministry.  The town’s population was about 450 people on a good day. He also said there were four churches in that town, with each church having its share of the population. 

     He said the best and most consistent attendance in town was at the little café where all men gathered on Sunday morning. While their wives and children were in one of four churches, the men discussed the weather, their cattle, their crops, etc. Although the church attendance would rise and fall according to the weather or to times of harvest, the café had consistently good attendance.  Better attendance than some of the churches. The men were always there.

     Fred said the patron saint of the group at the café was Frank.  Frank was a seventy-seven years old man when Fred met him. He was a good man, a strong man, a farmer, and a cattleman.  He had “pulled himself up by his bootstraps” and had earned his credentials. All the men at the café considered him their leader. Fred said, “I heard one man laugh and say, ‘Old Frank will never go to church.’”

     One day Fred met Frank on the street. They visited for a few minutes before Frank took the offensive.  He said, “I work hard, I take care of my family, and I mind my own business.” He said that as far as he was concerned, everything else was fluff.  Fred said, “I took what he said as, ‘Leave me alone; I’m not a prospect.’”

     So, Fred did not bother Frank.  But Fred said, “I was surprised, indeed the church was surprised, and the whole town was surprised, and the men at the café were absolutely bumfuzzled, when old Frank, seventy-seven years old, presented himself before me one Sunday morning for baptism.”

     There were some in the community who said that Frank must be sick and that he must be scared to meet his maker.  Others said, “He has heart trouble. I never thought old Frank would ever go up to be baptized.” 

     Fred said he and Frank were talking the day after his baptism and Fred asked him, “Frank, do you remember that little saying you used to give me? ‘I work hard, I take care of my family, and I mind my own business?’” 

     Frank replied, “Yeah, I remember.  I said that a lot.”

     Fred asked, “Do you still say that?”

     “Yes.”

     “Then what’s the difference?”

     Frank replied, “Back then I didn’t know what my business was.”

God’s Business

Frank discovered his business was God’s business. He went into the water minding his own business but came out of the water minding God’s business.

Want to become who God created you to be? Live into your name, become at home with God, and give yourselves to God’s business.  It is with God and God’s business that you will find peace within yourself and in your relationships.

Here we are at the beginning, not only of another year but of new decade. You have decided things in your life are going to be different. Things like your health. You are going to change your diet and eat nutritiously. You are going to exercise, lose weight, and get more sleep. Things like spending your money are going to be different. You are going to save money for the kids’ college expenses, save to beef up the retirement fund, or save for that anniversary trip you have been planning. 

You have been thinking about these things for months, just waiting for the right time to get started. So, what better time than the beginning of a new year? 

Will This Year Be Different?

Yet, there is a problem. Your health will not improve, and you will not save money just by saying you want to be healthy or you need to save money. If your life is going to be different, you will have to be different. 

At the beginning of this new year and decade, you can develop new ways of living by changing your habits and behaviors. The word for such a change of living is “repentance.” 

Now, before you say, “Tim Bias has lost his mind” and stop reading, trust me enough to take the next step. Over my 65 years, I’ve stood at this juncture a few times. The only way I am able to make a difference in my life is to change my living.

An “Aha” Moment

As you enter this new year, you also enter a time of new discoveries. It is time for an “aha” moment in your life. 

It will be your “aha” that will bring you to the point of changing your living. I believe the story of Jesus’ baptism gives us clues to such an “aha” moment. 

So, together, let’s start a new habit. Let’s read scripture, reflect upon it, respond to it and return to it before we put our head on the pillow each night. This pattern of reading, reflecting, responding, and returning is key to developing new habits and changes of behavior.

So, let’s get started. 

  1. Read the Scripture 

Let’s start with Luke 3:21-22.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22

2. Reflect on the Scripture.

Now, the question is, “What does God have for me in this scripture?” or “What is the ‘Aha’ for me in this scripture?” Let’s look at the context for a clue. You may not take it as far as I have below. But, give yourself an opportunity to explore what is happening in the scripture.

The Background

There is a lot in the background of this story, but for our purpose of reflection, we know that John the Baptist was the one preparing the way for the Christ, the Messiah. When people wondered if John was the Christ, he said, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, whose shoes I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” 

The people knew enough about what he was saying to be afraid. The Holy Spirit of God was one thing, sweeping across their souls like a wind from heaven, but fire was something else altogether. Fire was a purifier. You might be a better person for having gone through the fire, but it was going to hurt, and the scars would be ugly. 

The Presence of Jesus

Can you imagine people’s surprise when Jesus shows up? 

He is not at all who they expected. He was not an ax carrying arsonist. He was a gentle carpenter in whom the Holy Spirit chose to take up residence and who God claimed as his own beloved son. At that point, people were so taken back, they did not believe that Jesus could be the Christ. They were a lot like some people today. It is easier to believe in an angry God than in a loving one. 

So, Jesus did not take over John the Baptist’s ministry. Instead, he got in line with a whole crowd of sorry-looking people and took his turn in the water like everyone else. Nothing unusual there. 

It is only after his baptism, as he is praying, that the remarkable thing happened. Heaven opened, the clouds parted, and a figure that looked like a dove, straight from God, settled on Jesus as a voice from somewhere other than earth told him what it meant, “You are my beloved son, and I am proud of you.” What words! What acceptance!

A Defining Moment

Now, what did Jesus do that was so pleasing?

He was at the beginning of his ministry. All he had done so far is to say, “yes” to ministry. And what was that? He came to be with us in human flesh and blood. When he joined us, a voice from heaven declared, “You are my beloved son and I am pleased with you.” At that moment, you have a God-given description of who Jesus is and what he has come to do. You have a public declaration of what his ministry is about. 

So, what is the “Aha” moment? 

Jesus goes into the waters of the Jordan a carpenter and comes out a Messiah. He is the same person, but with a new direction. His “being” is the same, but his “doing” takes a radical turn. 

That is the definition of repentance: to turn, to go another way, to go God’s way. So, in that sense, it is true that Jesus repented; if not of sin, then of going his own quiet way in peace. He enters the water his own person, a private man. He comes out as God’s person, a public figure at the center of controversy for the rest of his life. 

Why Baptism?

But why baptism? Why not an eloquent speech or a simple ordination to mark his passage in life? Why not make a piece of furniture? After all, he is a carpenter.

  • Why did he become human when he could have stayed God? 
  • Why was he baptized when he could have stayed on the banks of the Jordan and supervised? 
  • Why does he come to you where you are, over and over again, when he could have saved himself the grief, the pain, the death, by insisting that we come to him where he is?
  • Do you know what I think? 

It is because he loves you. 

Because he is unbelievably pleased with you. He has come to lead you through the waters of life and death. He has come to make you who God created you to be. It has never been his style to shout directions from some safe place of his own. He has always led by joining you and me in the situations and circumstances of our lives.  

The Path of Jesus 

Here is the “aha” moment. 

If he had not been baptized, that would have been sin for him. He could have chosen to separate himself from us. He had every right to do so. But he didn’t. He took the plunge right along with the rest of us and so it came to pass that he who was without sin was baptized in the River Jordan to avoid the sin of standing apart from us.

Jesus is “God with us.” He never asks you to go anywhere he has not been first. From birth to death, from cradle to grave, through the waters of baptism, he knows what you are up against and has shown you how to live so that you might have a life full of peace and joy. 

He has chosen God’s way. He has chosen what will bring us closer together. Above all, he has chosen the things of earth to carry out the purposes of heaven.

3. Respond to the Scripture.

This is where you incorporate what God has revealed in your daily life. If Jesus is God with us, what would happen if today you started paying attention to where you noticed Jesus is with you. Yes, Jesus is always with you. The question is, when did you notice Jesus’ presence?

Here are a few other questions to consider:

  • Where will you see God in your everyday living? 
  • With whom will you join their struggles, pain, celebrations, or joy? 
  • Where will you enter as your person but leave as God’s person? 

Let’s return to where many of us start the year. If you are going to be healthy, you’ll need to exercise and eat nutritiously. That takes more than wishful thinking. It takes intentionally reading your environment, reflecting on what needs to change and responding in intentional ways that lead to a new habit and behavior. And daily, you’ll need to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. 

The same is true in our life with Christ.

If you want to grow as a follower of Jesus, here is what you need to do: 

  1. Read the scripture each day.
  2. Reflect upon the scripture asking yourself, “What does God have for me in what I am reading?” 
  3. Respond by incorporating what God has for you in your everyday living.
  4. Return each night and reflect on how you incorporated your “aha” into your daily life.

This habit will change your life. You will begin to have “aha” moments that will bring depth and meaning to every situation and circumstance. 

  1. Return

No, I didn’t forget step 4.

My reflections often come in the form of a story. So I’ll leave you with this story to model how an “aha” with Jesus can lead to transformation in daily life.

Fred Craddock tells of a conversation he had with a man in a restaurant in the Great Smoky Mountains. It a witness to one man’s “aha” moment. 

The man said, “I grew up in these mountains. My mother was not married, and the whole community knew it. I was called an “illegitimate” child. In those days that was a shame, and I was ashamed. The reproach that fell on her, fell on me. When I went into town with her, I could see people staring at me, making guesses as to who my father was. At school the children said ugly things to me. So, I stayed to myself during recess and I ate my lunch alone.”

He said, “In my early teens I began to attend a little church back in the mountains. It had a minister who was both attractive and frightening. He had a chiseled face, a heavy beard, and a deep voice. I went to hear him preach. I don’t know exactly why, but it did something for me. But when I would go, I was afraid I would not be welcome. So, I would go just in time for the sermon, and when it was over, I would leave because I was afraid that someone would say, ‘What’s a boy like you doing in church’.”

“One Sunday some people moved into the aisle before I could get out, and I was trapped. Before I could make my way through the group, I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. It was that minister. I saw him out of the corner of my eye. I caught a glimpse of his beard and his chin. I trembled in fear.” 

“He turned his face around so he could see mine. I knew what he was doing. He was going to make a guess as to who my father was. A moment later he said, “Well, son, you are a child of…” and he paused there. And I knew what was coming. I knew I would have my feelings hurt. I knew I would not go back again. 

He said, ‘Son, you are a child of God. I see a striking resemblance.’ Then he said, ‘Now you go claim your inheritance.’”

The man said, “I left that church building a different person. In fact, that was really the beginning of my life.”

What will be your “aha” in 2020? 

Listen closely. I just heard a voice from heaven say, “You are my beloved child. I am proud of you. Now, go claim your inheritance!” 

Your Next Step

If you’d like to get into this “habit” of reading, reflecting, responding and returning, join the Facebook group, “Following Jesus Every Day” Every Sunday evening, we post a series of scriptures for the week that follow this pattern.

Uncertain what your next step is to grow as a follower of Jesus? Take this quick, five-question quiz. You’ll identify a “season” of following Jesus and what to do next.