This Sunday we attended church at the Bloom in the Desert Ministries in Palm Springs, CA. As usual, I took notes while listening to the sermon.
The scripture was Matthew 3:13-17
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. John tried to dissuade Jesus by saying, I should be baptized by you, and yet you come to me!” But Jesus replied, “Leave it this way for now. We must do this to completely fulfill God’s justice.” So John reluctantly agreed. Immediately after Jesus had been baptized and was coming up out of the water, the sky suddenly opened up and Jesus saw the spirit of God descending as a dove and hovering over him. With that, a voice from the heavens said, “This is my Own, my Beloved, on whom favor rests.”
Through my poetic filter, this is what I heard as Reverend Kevin A. Johnson’s message:
The proper completion of a called journey Is the return… the coming back. In our creed, Jesus went down and came back. The Jews and Greeks both were taught that fact.
Today’s scripture tells us that baptism Is personal, and effective for life. Some believe as babies, others think when older, Is the appropriate time to wash away strife.
Baptism is a remarkable, memorable event. It’s a ritual recorded long before Jesus was born. A thousand years earlier, immersion was practiced. The dove hovering was a symbol that glorious morn.
It symbolized the love of God entering in. Baptism is a commitment – a starting point. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the Jordan River, Or if it’s in some crumby back-street joint.
Baptism is a time to promise a mind-set That puts love, compassion, and respect first. It’s a universal embrace of Jesus’ teachings – A chance to promise, and then daily rehearse.
Baptism can occur as a teen or an adult when the person is “of the age of reason” and chooses to publicly agree to live a life of love in God’s grace, with compassion and respect for others, following God’s commandments.
Or – baptism can occur as an infant. In that case, it is the promise of the parents to raise this child in love, teaching the child to obey the commandments … living in grace and obedience.
Do you remember your baptism? I don’t remember mine. My sister and I were baptized when she was about two and I was an infant. There are no pictures, no certificates, no proof… but my sis says she remembers it, and my mom said it happened. So I should believe them.
However, as Rev. Kev said at the beginning of his message, baptism is a part of a journey… and it requires the return, the coming back. Rev. Kev showed us the certificate of his baptism. He can tell you the date, the place, and the time – and he went through confirmation later as a youngster (maybe about age 12) at which time he reaffirmed his parents’ baptismal promises.
Baptism’s Purpose and Proof
I tried to locate my baptismal records. However, the church where my baptism supposedly occurred no longer exists. Decades ago a fire destroyed it and all the records that were in it.
Baptism is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior. It testifies to the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to the believer’s faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Do I doubt my faith in the risen Savior or question my membership in God’s family? Not for a minute!
Baptism has been a symbolic way of joining the Church from the very start of Christianity. The water used is a symbol of washing away sin and the start of a new life. Do I think perhaps I am not “a Child of God” because I don’t have the paperwork to prove my sin was “washed away”? No!!
But would I like to be able to say I have experienced a “proper completion of a called journey” by finishing the trip, coming back to my baptismal roots? Yes!
Baptism is Once and for All
Sometimes I question if infant baptism is once and for all. I wonder if perhaps I should be baptized as an adult now. Do you think at 80 I should reaffirm the baptismal vows that my mom agreed to when I was an infant?
Today’s sermon reminding us to remember Jesus’ baptism and affirming the importance of baptism has me pondering these questions.
Happy Sunday to you, my friends. What are your plans for today? Whatever you do, wherever you go (even if you stay home), you will have an opportunity to be kind (even if only to yourself).
Choose kindness. Be right!
If you have followed my blog for a week or more, you know I attend church on Sundays and as I hear the message, I take notes – usually in poetry.
Today we attended the First Presbyterian Church in Redlands, CA. It is a beautiful church in the heart of the city with a mission statement: “Living in the Heart and Mind of Christ at the Heart of the City.” The service was conducted with five languages spoken alternately while the English translations were printed in the bulletin.
It was WONDERFUL to hear the melodic and unusual tongues of Urdu, Indonesian, Banyan, and Chichewa spoken – as well as the familiarity of English.
The pastor, Cheryl Raine, spoke on the topic, “The Mind of Christ.” The scripture on which the sermon was based, Philippians 2:5-8 was read orally in a language I had never heard of before. English-only folks like me read it in English in the bulletin while we listened with fascination to Wilson Kayange whose native language is Chichewa.
Morning has broken… like the first day – Blackbird has spoken … here’s what he’ll say: Look for the sunrise… it’s the new year – Praise for the morning… filled with good cheer.
We are God’s people … we live in His love. We are Christ’s people… we need a good shove! We try not to stagnate … living in our own will. We empty ourselves … and try to let Jesus refill.
Leaning on our own mindfulness… we stumble and fall. We’re two days out from Epiphany … listen for His call. He asks for patience and grace … decisions slow made. He tells us to avoid selfishness… my renewal was paid.
Paid by our Lord … with His blood on the cross. We’re asked to set aside self-interest … at Jesus’ cost. Self-empty to love and serve others … As an offering, place our lives before God… Pray daily for His extravagant grace.
Transform my mind … make it more like Christ’s mind. Give me obedience … and cause me to be kind. Give me extraordinary focus … on the way I can link my mind to others’ needs … Let Your love escape with every blink!
The essence of His love… is lodged in me and grows with each day I live and breathe … and God knows I am choosing self-emptying … instead of selfishness. God help me to live in Your will each day … in selflessness.
Following the sermon, there were more prayers and affirmations in the various languages before we sang one of the closing hymns… a favorite of mine: “Take Thou Our Minds, Dear Lord.”
Our unison prayer, following the offering of our gifts, affirmed the sermon message and the inspiration of the hymn’s words:
“Holy God, thank you for reminding us that we are to have the same mind as Christ Jesus, for Christ willingly emptied himself for the sake of others. In humility, we gathered these first gifts of the new year for your ministries through this beloved faith community. Help us to be ever faithful to your word and your ways as we seek to glorify you with our very lives. Amen.”
As I left the service and digested the messages of kindness, self-emptying, love, and selflessness … the importance of adopting “The Mind of Christ,” I found this meme. The “listening and loving” and the “be at peace with herself” resonated with me. The “healthy boundaries” are important as we seek to live with “the mind of Christ” in a spirit of joy – the spirit Christ personified.
Happiness in Kindness
As I sang, “Teach us to know the Truth that sets us free” and “Use us to make the earth like Heaven above,” and “… yield ourselves to Thee, time, talents, all,” I realized that when I yield to God’s will, spread love and peace using my time and talents, and wear laughter and curiosity, spreading kindness, I am not only making myself happier, but I am spreading happiness to those around me.
Choose kindness. Be right!
What will you do today to spread happiness to those around you?
Ever wanted to Wear your angel wings right now? Why wait for heaven?
Here I am in wings Before my heavenly home How did that happen?
Sadly, fifty-eight Beautiful souls were gunned down; But their souls live on.
Riverside City Has many wings on display For would-be angels.
They’re just waiting for Angelic folks like I’m not – Ready to pose there.
Doesn’t it look fun To pretend you’ve earned your wings Long before you do?
Keep working at it! You, too, can look angelic… Now – try acting it!!
After our angel tour in Riverside, we went with Janet and Charley to the Mission Inn. The Christmas decorations all still were up – only of course, the outdoor light display was not twinkling. We could see all the light bulbs, though. Must have been a million of them.
I hope you had a happy Saturday, too. You can see mine was quite enjoyable. I think I already see some feathers growing …
In joy you step out Trusting every step you take Listening for His Word
Guided by scripture, And not your understanding, You can Walk the Talk!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Listen for His Leading
In my Daily Guideposts 2020 devotional today, Kim Taylor Henry told us about her trip to the Holy Land. God took away her fear of traveling to that part of the Middle East. She listened to His prompting when an invitation showed up on social media. Signing up for the trip was a leap of faith.
Is there a place you would like to visit, a spot you’d like to go, but for whatever reason, you are hesitating? Take it to the Lord in prayer, and listen for His leading.
I have had Maine and Nova Scotia on my “Bucket list” for about a decade now. I am not sure why that part of the world is calling me. Is it the lobster? The ocean? The farm stays? A cruise opportunity? In my 80 years on earth, I have never taken a cruise. Many (if not most) of my friends have. I can die happy without ever going on a cruise, but I feel God calling me to that part of the world. I wonder why?
Maybe It’s the Lighthouses
I have had a long-standing love of lighthouses. I wrote about them back in November of 2018
God places in our hearts other reasons to have certain places on our Bucket List. Usually for me, the places I want to travel have little to do with the place. They have everything to do with the people. (That’s why we have traveled to Switzerland so many times… our daughter and her family are there!)
If you have followed my blog for awhile, you will recognize these people below as my cousin, Janine, and her husband, Cliff. I posted about Cliff’s battle with esophageal cancer last November 9th. Since that time he has been through Hell and back… and is a determined survivor.
Janine and Cliff moved a year or so ago from the Seattle, Washington home where we last saw them – about 5 years ago, I think – to Clinton, north of Seattle on Whidbey Island. Wikipedia tells me Clinton is on this 3.7 sq. mi. piece of land whose total population back in 2010 was less than 1,000. I am sure it grew by leaps and bounds in the last decade. Wikipedia has a few delightful pictures of it on their website:
But, it is not the scenery that draws me to this place. As I said, my motivation is the people I love. As I listen for God’s leading, God calls me to the love.
What is the next step you’re ready to take? Are you leaning on your own understanding?
Ask God to make your path straight. Listen for His leading. Then step out in faith.
2020 is a year for 20/20 CLARITY. It is a time for New Beginnings. What will they be?
THESE DAYS, Daily Devotions for Living in Faith, ended its 2019 entries with this prayer:
“God of all our beginnings, plant your hope so deeply within us that we never lose it. Show us the beauty of small beginnings and nurture Your life within our own lives.”
It did not occur to me until yesterday that the decade to come, the 2020s, lends itself so perfectly to the idea of CLARITY. When you have 20/20 vision, you have CLARITY. You have perfect eyesight.
The message at the “Jesus Culture” church in Folsom Sunday was delivered by a dynamic young woman named, Debra Giles, whose topic , “Every Word,” was all about looking into scripture, and looking at ourselves, and looking toward the future with Clarity.
20/20 VISION (12-29-19 sermon notes)
This is the end of The fuzzy and mean teens decade. This is the beginning of 20/20 Clarity. You are made In God’s image and you’ll see Clearly in these next ten years. You are made in God’s image, And you will hear through 20/20 ears. You are made in God’s image And this is the decade to say What is in your heart. Speak clearly from your 20/20 heart today. Speak, hear, and see with Clarity.
20/20 Clear Vision or Blurry?
As you welcome this new year, this decade of the 2020s, are you wiping the clouds from your life? Are you sweeping the fuzzy deterrents from your path? Are you putting away the distractions that keep you from moving forward with clarity? Have you decided what those things are?
Looking Clearly Forward and Backward
I am looking through 20/20 lenses at the freshness of this new day. I am looking at opportunities with clear anticipation. I am taking a backward glance at the things we have given away… and am grateful for the love and joy those things are bringing to others.
An example of such a thing given away is the little red Porsche that Bob & I used as our only means of transportation when we were first married. It is definitely a California car and I can see with clarity that it belongs here, with our son, Ty, and not parked in a garage in Montana because the dirt roads and snow-covered terrain are not conducive to safety for its low-slung frame. Our son loves it… and is taking such good care of it. Clearly, it belongs here!
With clear vision, I am looking forward to a future filled with new joys, new opportunities, and new friends. I see our church growing in love and filled with the Holy Spirit. I see our neighborhood enhanced by new (and old) friends building new homes and moving into our “hood” with their uniqueness and their hospitality a welcomed addition.
Happy New Year
It’s New Years Day, and many people are creating their list of New Year’s Resolutions. Can you see with clarity what your 2020 commitments need to be?
We were asked at dinner last night what our plans for the new year are. What are our commitments/resolutions? We went around the table. My grand-son-inlaw, Kyle, had a wonderful, impressive list. I commend him for his 20/20 vision of what he hopes to accomplish. When it came my turn, I said, “Walk the Talk” – – – see why?
What is your 20/20 Vision?
Have a wonderful January 1st – and do “Walk the Talk!”