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.
The last time we walked in this desert, we had our Boston, TazE, with us.
The desert was greener and healthier looking. Our walking path this year had dog tracks, reminding us of our furry friend. She’s back in Montana being well cared for. Our rental this year doesn’t allow pets.
There’s been a fire since our last visit here. The desert brush all is scorched.
But it still is a peaceful place to walk. I knew we were 3/4 of the way around our course when this familiar landmark showed up.
It is a beautiful, clear blue sky 70 degree day. Wish you were here!
Do you have a peaceful place to walk undisturbed where you are?
It was invigorating!
Meantime, back in Montana, the antelope are enjoying a peaceful day, too. But their weather is considerably different from what we’re experiencing here in southern CA. Look at the picture my friend, Elaine, sent me today:
We are happy to be taking a sunshiny break for awhile. Our friends from Ennis just came to join us for a couple days. Yay! Wish you were here, too.
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!”
Forgiveness is a two-way street. Not only do we need to forgive others, but we need to forgive ourselves. Sometimes that is much harder than forgiving others.
So, as this decade of 2010 to 2019 ends, commit your heart to forgiveness. Let go of any hurts from others. Tell them so. And let go of those regrets that creep into your heart and cause you to scold yourself.
None of us is perfect. We all make mistakes. We all say things and do things and think things that we regret afterward. Forgive yourself … and move on!
Let those mistakes (sometimes intentionally placed in our lives … so not mistakes at all) be building blocks toward a better you! With 20/20 CLARITY, let this new decade be a time of strength and sincerity, compassion and courage, challenge and change, faith and fearlessness.
Know in the midst of life’s struggles that you are never alone. In my devotional this morning, I am reminded of God’s love for me and His changelessness with Ps. 59:10
It is our fluctuating emotions that cause us to ask for forgiveness and then take back the guilt that God has taken from us. We try to forgive, but we remember. We remember our own wrongs. We suffer the wrongs others have inflicted on us, carrying them in our hearts long after we think we have given them to God. The devo from Guideposts for today tells me, “Stop that!”
Accept His forgiveness. Acknowledge His death that took away our sins. Know His changeless love and His unconditional acceptance of us. And pray with me the prayer Rebecca Barlow Jordan wrote as our “Faith Step” for today in the last entry of Daily Guideposts 2019:
“This coming year, as I confess any wrong things in my heart to Jesus, (either my own wrongs or those inflicted on me by others), remind me to thank Him for His changeless love and acceptance. (And help me imitate His unconditional love as I interact with others… and with myself.
Psalm 90:12 (The prayer of Moses – the man of God)
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
80th Birthday – 2018
A year ago this day, we also were here in Placerville with our son and his family, joined by friends who came to celebrate Bob’s 80th birthday. The picture above shows Bob with the card Ty & Monika created for him using candy bars to accentuate the message.
The days between then and now find us both slowing down a bit. He finds it necessary to catch cat naps during the day more often. Outdoor chores take a toll on the back and leg muscles. Physical activities (like downhill skiing) are still fun, but hours on the slopes, taking the double diamond runs, without a break… well that’s not a good idea anymore.
How can we accept the aging process that seems to limit our energy? Well, duh … what’s the alternative? We die – or we become grumpy – or we listen to our bodies and take those breaks when the need arises! Aging gracefully means thanking God for all the things we CAN still do … and not focusing on the things we CAN’T do anymore… at least not at the speed and length of time we used to. Right?
Number our Days
We know our days are numbered… and only God has the answer. We know Jesus Christ promised He would come again and take all who believe with Him to our eternal home. Only God has the number of that day, too. So, our job is not to worry about what the numbers are, but to live fully for as long as He gives us.
That photo of Bob with our son, Ty, granddaughter, Faith, and her husband, Kyle was taken at our house in Montana last Thanksgiving.
A year ago Bob went skiing with Ty & Faith here in the Sierra Nevada mountains. This year, the crowds and the conditions caused Bob to say, “Let’s wait til we come back through in January and ski then.”
Someday Bob’s skiing may be limited to pulling our great-grandchildren on a sled in the snow… that is if we are fortunate enough to live long enough to gracefully accept the limitations that numbered days may bring!
Meantime, there are spring times and summers, autumns and early winters when the fishing is great in Ennis, Montana…
And there is always yard work that beckons him to keep the lawn trimmed, the flowers healthy, and the weeds at bay…
… and in the winter there is rarely a time when there is not snow to shovel!
We look forward to the numbered day on our ATV when we can enjoy with friends the beauty of the mountain trails above our Madison Valley.
Gain a Heart of Wisdom
Yes, looking at what we CAN do and not dwelling on the things we find more difficult to do as we add to the number of our days… that’s part of wisdom.
So is taking time daily to read God’s Word, and apply his principles to our lives.
In Psalm 90, Moses’ prayer also says, (in verse 10) “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass and fly away.”
Thank God, Bob can say, “The best of them are here and now… and with God’s blessings the best are also yet to come.”
They may quickly pass (as we age they seem to fly by more quickly with each sunrise and sunset), but we do not focus on the trouble and sorrow.
Focus on your blessings, my friends. Focus on the CANS, not the CAN’Ts!!
Enjoy each day… and look for the wisdom it contains.
Thanks for visiting JanBeek on the occasion of this wonderful 81st birthday. See ya tomorrow.