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Recently I’ve noticed a trend in which people are choosing a theme word, or couple of words, to focus on throughout the year. Is this something you have done or would consider doing?

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Whether you are with new friends or familiar faces this Thanksgiving, we pray these cards will help you and your guests deepen your thankfulness to God and love for one another. 

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Bruce Feiler, in his article for the New York Times, writes: "The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.”

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A line I often hear (and maybe you do, too) is: “If that’s what God is like, I don’t think I could believe in him.” Why are we so quick to re-write God when we find something we object to?

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The Sticky Faith curriculum contains tangible examples of ways to engage parents in ministry and help them understand their roles as the primary spiritual influence in their children's lives. 

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Thnaks to Josh and Derek for e-mails. A number of years ago we had similar situation in our church. :

 

1. Several high school youth who were very involved in our hi school group desired to make professuion of faith.. Most were baptized members from other denominational churches.

2. We talked with the parents and also at least one church leader from their "home" church concerning their desire to proceed with POF at our church.

3. These students went thru our POF mentoring process, made POF and ultimately joined our church.

 

I think the key to this proces working as well as it did,  was due to time taken to pray,  listen/talk with student's home church leaders and family members.  All involved understood that this was the work of the Holy Spiit leading them in their journey.

  We have been all blessed.

 

 

Arnie

Thanks for the question Josh. I reached out to Howard Vanderwell at Calvin Seminary to ask for his advice. Here's what he offered for consideration: 

1. In which of these congregations does he intend to remain affiliated, either, or both?  How he answers that might provide insight into which is his "primary membership".

2. Normally baptism and profession of faith are combined as a unit in the same congregation, so it's rather unusual to have one here and another there.

3. Possibility #1 is that he "transfers" his baptism record to the new congregation (yours) at the time of making POF there. Then they are together there which is the usual way.

4. The other possibility is to receive a statement by him, if necessary verified by the other congregation, that his is in fact baptized, and then the profession of faith can proceed without an adult baptism. A statement that there is a baptism in his past is usually sufficient. Your congregation/Elders can then acknowledge his baptism at _____, and proceed with his POF.  But some churches are very careless in keeping record of such things.  If  he  has not been baptized, then his POF should be turned into an adult baptism.  

I hope this helps. It does seems like a decision that should be made by your council since they know the situation best. You could always reach out to your classis for guidance on the issue as well. 

 

 

I will add my input on this because I do think it's an important one. I will speak with regards to my experience, and perhaps this is reflective of other young adults.

Does size matter? It certainly changes how social interaction happens, and this is applied in all types of settings. I immediately think of class sizes at college. Small is focused, communicative, personal. Large tends to be generic, less personal, and less-focused. Now, I know this doesn't apply in all situations, and context matters. So how has this played out in the church in my experience?

I have attended large congregations where I could show up and walk out without saying a word to another soul. I have similarly been to small congregations who were so focused on their conversations with their long-time friends that they neglected my presence in the room. The opposite is true too- for showing up and being welcomed by large and small congregations alike.

I have attended a church my whole life that is medium in size where the aspect of authentic relationships is key. It's great that I can show up at a place I can call home, where I can be involved, while still drawing on the gifts from many members.

The word I like to use is intentional. If you act and say with intention, you will reap the benefits of it, instead of happening upon the optimal outcome by chance. Smaller churches are provided with this flexibility where large churches cannot do this as easily (although able). It is my hope that both large and small churches can execute with intention in their ministry.

Size doesn't matter. A willingness to engage the younger generation is at the heart of this issue. I've been to small churches and just the opposite is true. I don't think the issue is as cut and dry as this makes it to be.

I serve a medium size church that is one of the few growing... and we can find places and opportunities for younger people to find their voice, but we're willing to engage.

I think you're right on George, but another reason Peterson might have said that is that smaller churches do not allow a new believer to disappear into the woodwork.  The smaller church needs its members to be active in carrying on the ministry of the church.  Larger churches can become comfortable places where one's faith is not exercised and stretched.

Agreed! We recently moved our family from a large church to a smaller one. My husband and I, after 6 years of not being able to use our gifts, are now using our gifts in service on a weekly basis. But the more interesting fact is that our three teenagers are thriving now in a small youth group where they didn't in the large one with all the"glitz". After the first over night youth retreat, our oldest came back and said, "I know everyone's name now". The once shy, uninvolved teen is now at every youth event- where eveyone knows his name too. 

Another thing about a small church is the opportunity to serve.  You don't have to have an awesome voice to sing in the choir and if you're willing, you'll be asked to fill in for a Sunday School teacher or nursery worker after a few months.  There's nothing like being involved to help a person, young or old, feel like they belong in a church family.

Randy,

Thanks for your thoughts on this common matter. I'd be even more appreciative if you'd take those thoughts and work them into an article for the BANNER. Something similar to what Kuyvenhoven did on a Baptism article years ago would be in Q&A form to make it easily digestible.    We need more emphasis on the covenantal aspect of baptism, and get away from the adult or infant terminology. You've got a good grasp of it....expand it, share it, the CRCNA needs it as it continues to deal with the faith formation of its youth, and do some catch up with its non-informed others.... Thanks!

I would baptize the child, not as an infant or adult baptism, but more accurately, as covenantal baptism. When we were evangelized into the church, my mother was baptized and made profession of faith, and I was baptized at age 11 ,and my sister at age 6. My pastor (John Rozeboom) explained what baptism was about in an "age and ability appropriate way" (as we have been saying lately with our focus on faith formation and the issue of children and the Lord's Supper). Was it "infant baptism" or "believer's baptism"? Neither term is really fitting; it was covenantal baptism. I was baptized because my single mom, the head of our household, was baptized, just like Lydia and her househould, or the Philippian Jailor (poor guy has no name!) and his household (Acts 16).

Also, it is quite appropriate to say that a person is baptized into Christianity, though more appropriately, that one is baptized into the church. This is not a statement about God's eternal decree of election; it is a recognition that this person, at whatever age it occurs, is now breathing the air of the confessional community (credit to Henry DeMoor for that phrase, I believe). There is a well-known remark of CS Lewis on this topic: "Don't bother at all about the question of a person being 'made a Christian' by baptism. It is only the usual trouble about words being used in more than one sense. Thus we might say a man 'became a soldier' the moment he joined the army. But his instructors might say six months later 'I think we have made a solider out of him.' "

In addition, we do not baptize because we presume that a child is elect, though Abraham Kuyper championed that view, and it was common in the CRC beginning about a century ago and through maybe the 1950's - 60's. The "Liberated" Reformed Churches (Canadian Reformed and American Reformed) still think we teach that perspective (presumptive regeneration). But this perspective has rightly fallen by the wayside. We do not baptize on the basis of a presumption. We baptize on the basis of God's claim and God's promise. We baptize because we recognize that God's covenant promises come to an individual through a community; we baptize because God's claim on a child's allegiance will come to that child through the influence of at least one believing parent (I Cor. 7:14).

We may speak of infant baptism and believers' baptism however, if we're referring to the water ritual, neither bestow salvation. The baptism of infants and small children brings them into the spiritually-nurturing, covenant community of believers but doesn't bring salvation. Only saving faith in Christ's finished work transforms a sinner into a saved, beloved child of God. No one is baptized into Christianity. Hence, Christian parents baptize infants or little children presuming they are among God' s elect and that when they're older they will commit their lives to Christ and are born again. 

I had this situation some years ago.  In the end I asked some questions of the mother and some of the seven year old boy.  And he was baptized.  But, this didn't count as profession of faith. 

I would suggest you look at the Faith Formation materials, particularly the emphasis on children coming to the Lord's Table with age-appropriate faith. The situation before you could be solved with the same logic. The grade 2 child can and should be able to articulate faith in Jesus at a grade 2 level (more or less what you wrote in the post). That is what you are looking for. I would suggest very simple faith questions based on the Adult Baptism or Profession of Faith forms followed by baptism. Then he can make full Profession of Faith later when he is ready. 

The other option is to just baptize him as you would an infant purely because of the faith of the mother. I would see this as perfectly ok too.

What would make it most meaningful for the child?

To my own surprise, I've revisited what I wrote about Sarah several times, rereading it, and pondering this experience in my heart.  Thank you to those of you who've responded in writing; your response to our experience is a  blessing and a comfort.  Oh how much I would have loved to get to know Annie and Dylan and Holly, and all the rest of the saints --children of  fellow believers who went before us - to greater glory as Brother John says.   Yes, I shed a lot of  tears for all the loss, and I still do, and I guess I'll go on shedding tears in my life too.  We all will, and we'll hold on to the promises together too.  And we'll comfort each other, and by God's grace and Spirit we'll live lives that are empowered and joyful now with the power of the resurrection. 

It's been a little over two years now since we said goodbye to our 21-year old daughter, Holly.  Holly passed away on September 9, 2011 - only 2 and half months after battling a rare, very aggressive spinal cord tumor that caused her to become paralyzed just a couple of weeks after the onset of back pain.  

Both my husband and I have experienced that same deep sadness - not only on those "anniversaries", but other times, too, when we are suddenly blindsided by grief.  All of the hopes and dreams we had for Holly graduating college and getting married, evaporated the day she left us to go to heaven.  Still, we cling tightly to the hope that we will see her again one day - her body healed--no more surgery, no more radiation treatments, no more wheelchair.  

During Holly's illness, we witnessed the body of Christ through Neland Church members...through neighbors and friends....and people in the Grand Rapids community, who transformed our home into a wheel-chair accessible place for her after her treatment.  And, after Holly left us for heaven, God still brings people alongside us on our grief journey.  One of those people is Ruth Boven - pastor at Neland Church.  She was a constant visitor to Holly and also uplifted my husband and I through some of our most difficult days in the hospital and multiple trips to the emergency room....and when a cure was not evident, Ruth reminded us, that we still can lean on that resurrection hope and have faith that we wiill see our precious girl again.  

We have also found that blessing others, who have been touched by cancer,  has been a balm to our grief.  A group of us from Neland Church have cooked some of the community dinners for the residents of Hope Lodge - the facility where our daughter stayed during cancer treatment.  We've also sponsored a team through Relay for Life the last two years - another way we can honor Holly and be an encouragement to others.  We still miss our daughter terribly - we know that there will always be that "hole", but believe that God is using this tragic and untimely loss to bless others.

 

 

 

Karl, thank you for speaking from your heart.  This essay was a gift to us all.

A profound testimony, Karl.  We are grateful for your sharing it with us.  Carl K

Thank you Karl and others for sharing your stories and thoughts.

Thanks for this great testimony of pain, loss, hope, and just that bit of godly wondering.

Thanks, Karl, for this reflection. Grief is so painful; it persists. It is right for us to grieve and to be honest about it. And we are blessed when we hear the testimony of people like you. The hope of the resurrection doesn't take away grief, but it surely puts it in a very different light.  God continue to bless you and yours. Harvey 

Thank you for sharing this Karl.  Blessings.

Karl, our son, Dylan, was only 3 1/2 weeks old when he passed away. Our grief is different because mostly we wonder what might have been. Thanks for sharing your story. It's good to read your testimony of God's sustaining grace. I would guess that many of us parents are on this journey. 

Thanks Karl!

Ruth and I have the same kind of anniversary in 5 days.  This year is will be 18 years since Annie moved to greater glory.  The hole her absence left is still huge - but as you testify - God continues to add new and precious experiences of life around the hole.  There's more than the hole - yet nothing ever replaces all the ways Sarah and Annie imacted our lives when they were still with us.  Six months after Annie died, we gathered to remember what would have been her 13th birthday and to celebrate her much too short life.  I remember the first words of a prayer our friend Heidi Hofman offered at our 'would have been her' birthday gathering and grieving.  Since Annie'd death - 2 of Heidi's own sisters have gone to glory as well.  Heidi's started her prayer this way: 'God - we don't know which planets or stars Annie may be exploring today - but do please remind her that we love her and miss her a lot.'  Those prayer words so blessed me.  They remiind me of something John Calvin himself taught - that our resurrection begins with our death.  

So, I wonder what planet or stars Sarah and Annie may be exploring today.  I picture Annie calling my dad over to look at something she discovered in the 'resurrection world' that is already her home.  It's not complete yet - the resurrection world.  It's waiting for us - we who still serve in this world filled with foretastes of our eternal home.  

Thanks for sharing some of the foretastes God provided you and Liz through Sarah.

Blessings,

John

 

Peter,

The premise of nouthetic counseling is that we simply need to find the appropriate Biblical solution and trust the power of the Holy Spirit to effect the sort of change that is required for us to transform / conform our thinking and behaving more closely with scriptural principles for living. www.gotquestions.org/nouthetic-counseling.html

Inherent in this approach is the idea that psychology is a secular endeavor and therefore has little to offer by way of healing. By such logic medicine too can be called a secular endeavor.  Should we forsake its advances and rely strictly on the Biblical approach of laying on of hands?  Do not get me wrong here Peter, I have gone to a sick person who has asked me to pray for them and lay hands on them but they also went for treatment. If they go for medicinal treatment are they demonstrating a lack of faith?

In the same way a counselor can search the scriptures and ask for the Holy Spirit’s power for a client but they should be trained in psychology as well. Clients come for help with a whole range of life experiences that may effect the expected outcome of counseling.  Having some knowledge and training in cognitive and behavioral issues or in family systems can be very important in understanding the client and his or her problem(s). One issue with Nouthetic Counseling is that Biblical solutions are often applied with little regard to differences in gender, cultural backgrounds, disabilities, age, etc…

Jesus tells Nicodemus that people refuse to come to the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. James tells us to confess our sins to one another so that we can be healed and John tells us that perfect loves drives out fear. Clearly, sharing our sin with each other is important. Accountability is a Biblical Principle and counseling is a wonderful ministry to enable such. A few things to consider are;

1.       THAT we hide our real / true SELF from one another is evil.

2.       WHAT we hide is one thing. Revealing this about our self is just the beginning.

3.       HOW we hide is another. Most of us are blind as to how we do this. When a client comes for counseling they demonstrate how they hide by how they talk, by idiosyncratic behaviors, by what they say and what they do not say, all of which needs to be dealt with gracefully and mercifully knowing full well that the counselor has their own ways of hiding.

4.       WHY we hide WHAT we hide and WHY we hide HOW we hide is also very important. The WHY gives credence to gender, cultural, familial and a host of other differences, the differences that God uses to create and recreate us.

5.       WHO we reveal our self to needs to be a righteous person, by which I mean a humble believer, a vulnerable believer, a non-judgmental believer, a person who knows that standing before the almighty with chocolate on our face is not about justice but about mercy. Exposing the self is for the experience of having our Father wipe our face clean with a wash cloth in one hand and a cookie in the other.

Finding a good counselor is not always easy. A good place to begin is to look at their track record.

Rev. K. VanderVeen, B.A Psych; M.A. (counseling). 

Thanks Rebecca, I will definitely look into the SHAPE curriculum.

I went through a Network class about 10 years ago, and liked it. It wasn't a DVD curriculum then, local church members led the class.

We are currently using the SHAPE curriculum, which was developed at Saddleback church and is free to use and share. This was recommended to me by another CRC in our area. I teach this class 1-2 times per year, and it has been well-received by those who have attended, although interest in the class is not as high as we'd like.

I'm always interested in hearing other ideas, too, so will look forward to seeing what others have to add to this discussion.

I received an email asking about research on the faith development of those who were raised in a tradition that practiced infant communion. At this point I've not located any qualitative research in this area. In addition it would be difficult to separate this one variable from the others. I do think the current research by Smith et al as well as Mayo, Mayo and Savage on the roles of adults in young people's lives provides some insight into the issue.

 

Hi Jeff, the best list of churches I can locate who allow for/practice infant communion is on the Paedocommunion.com web site. In regards to the research question, I am unsure of any research that directly tackles this question. The research on children and God generally follows a biological/developmental model rather than a socialization of model of learning.  This area is ripe for research. I'll do some more digging to to see if those researching in the area of children's ministry can provide any leads.   dg

Darwin,

What are some denominations that have historically practiced infant communion?  Are there any studies that show its effect/improvement upon the process of faith formation?

Bruce, 

If you are looking for doctrine/pre-profession of faith type stuff, also check out Deep Down Faith or Quest of Faith (found at www.faithaliveresources.org/youth).  Both are great resources for digging into Reformed faith for mentor/mentee groups. 

Derek 

There is a great booklet available from Faith Alive called "So You've Been Asked to be Mentor".  I give it to all our adults who serve as Profession of Faith and leadership mentors to our youth.

Good books on mentoring include: "Mentoring Millennials" by Daniel Egeler and "Spiritual Mentoring" by Keith Anderson and Randy Reese

Love this thread, albeit a short one. Would love to carry on further conversations of how to do this well. We at CCRC are heading towards what looks like a frutiful path of multigenerational Community Care Groups and as a part of that we are asking ourselves discipleship questions.... For the most part, we have developed a hearty excitement for what is around the corner and all our generations are speaking about how they can see benefits in this kind of approach. If anyone has resources or ideas, pass them on. Let's get concrete! 

posted in: Best way to mentor?

Mentoring provides blessing for both the mentor and the mentee.  In answer to your question about whose responsibility it is to maintain the relationship, many mentoring/coaching resources recommend that the initiative must be with the mentee.  While I agree with this in leadership development, I believe that walking alongside our youth might require a slightly different approach.  

In my opinion, the most natural kind of relationship would involve initiative that comes from both parties.  As a mentor, especially within a church family, we have the opportunity to invest in someone spontaneously and freely.  Particularly in the case of youth mentees, it would be wonderful if the mentor would bless and pour into a life through encouragement, cards, prayer, invitations etc. unsolicited.  I believe a mentor in these situations can be proactive, rather than simply waiting for youth to initiate.  

Imagine how blessed we would be if more of us would just choose to be a mentor to someone else in our church settings.  Perhaps a young mom, or a young family needs to be encouraged in the challenges of parenting, in the absence of extended family that is far away.  Perhaps a young urban professional needs a seasoned, Christian business man to walk along side him, just to offer support and a listening ear.  Or maybe a young teacher in your midst would welcome the support of a mature person or a family home.  

The blessing of mentoring - an opportunity waiting to be embraced!

posted in: Best way to mentor?

A couple of years ago, the Youth Group leaders at our church asked willing adults in the congregation to volunteer if they were able to team up with a member of the youth group.  Pairs were matched after which it was up to the individuals to pursue the relationship.  Continuation and "success" has been varied, but it has provided positive communication and fellowship between the generations.  The biggest question seems to be where the impetus and responsibility to start and maintain the relationship should come from:  the mentor or the mentee?  Presently, this is under discussion.  As someone who participates(d) in this program, I must say I was blessed and enriched.

posted in: Best way to mentor?

At our last Elders meeting, the topic of baptized children taking communion, without having made profession of faith, was a lengthy agenda item.  We talked about the issues of understanding and appropriate age, help and guidance for parents in discerning readiness for their child, how involved the Elder should be in "approving" a child's understanding of communion. 

We are concerned about profession of faith becoming less important and how to guard against that.  Our desire is to gather information from other CRC churches who already are including young children (or considering it) at the Lord's Table.  How have you informed and educated your congregations?  What criteria has worked for your families?

Thanks for any input.

I was looking for something specific concerning the Holy spirit and came across this RC Church handout 

I would love to see a similar CRC Baptism handout specific for parents and Children

Handout: Romans Chapter 7

BIBLICAL EVENTS WHICH PREFIGURE BAPTISM BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

Christ himself died once and for all for sins, the upright for the sake of the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison. They refused to believer long ago, while God patiently waited to receive them, in Noah’s time when the ark was being built. In it only a few, that is eight souls, were saved through water. It is the baptism corresponding to this water which saves you now…

 

 

1 Peter 3:18-21

 

Biblical events that prefigured our baptism in Christ:

SCRIPTURE PASSAGE

EVENT

 

 

 

Genesis 1:1-2

 

1. Creation: when the Holy Sprit brought life and order to the waters of chaos.

 

Genesis 6:9-18

1 Peter 3:20-21

 

2. Noah and his family were saved from the waters of the flood that cleansed the earth of sin, which St. Peter tells us prefigures our baptism in 1 Peter 3: 20-21.

 

Exodus 14:1

1 Corinthians 10:1-2

 

3. The children of Israel, fleeing from the Egyptians, passed through the waters of the Red Sea—passing from the old life of slavery into their new life as God’s Covenant people; which St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 is a form of baptism.

 

Exodus 30:17-21

Numbers 19:11-13

 

4. The water purification rites of the Old Covenant:

-When the priests cleansed themselves with the water from the laver so that they were ritually cleansed and able to enter the Holy Place of the desert Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem.

-The ritual purification for coming in contact with the dead.

 

2 Kings 5:1-19

 

5. When the prophet Elisha told the Syrian general Naaman to dip himself 7 times in the waters of the Jordan River to be healed.

 

Ezekiel 36:24-27

 

6. Ezekiel’s prophecy that Yahweh will pour clean water over His people and they will be cleansed and filled with a new heart and a new spirit when God places His very spirit within them.

 

Joshua 3:14-17

 

7. The crossing of the Jordan River when God parted the waters and the priests stood midway across the River with the Ark of the Covenant as the children of Israel passed through the waters of the Jordan, leaving their old lives behind to become citizens of the Promised Land.

 

Mathew 3:4-5; Mark 1:4-5; Luke 3:3-4; John 1:31

 

8. The baptism of John the Baptist which called the faithful of Israel into the baptismal waters of repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah’s ministry proclaiming the Kingdom of God.

 

later than 120AD records:

Regarding baptism. Baptize as follows: after first explaining all these points, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in running water. But if you have no running water, baptize in other water; and if you cannot in cold, then in warm. But if you have neither, pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Before the baptism, let the baptizer and the candidate for baptism fast, as well as any others that are able. Require the candidate to fast one or two days previously." [ Didache, 7. 1-4 ].

Please notice that no where in these instructions is it permitted to baptize without water!

 Jesus taught that no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born through "water and the Spirit." In Titus 3:4-8 St. Paul instructs St. Titus: "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior for humanity were revealed, it was not because of any upright actions we had done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own faithful love that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our Savior; so that, justified by his grace, we should become heirs in hope of eternal life. This is doctrine that you can rely on." Paul’s statement reaffirms Jesus’ instruction to Nicodemus in John 3:3-3-6: "In all truth [amen, amen] I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above. […]. In all truth [amen, amen] I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born through water and the Spirit; what is born of human nature is human, what is born of the Spirit is spirit."

A profession of faith does not replace water baptism as the spiritual rebirth into the family of God [see John 3:5 and for more information see the study on the Gospel of St. John chapter 3]. Faith is the first step in the process of salvation and baptism is the second step in what is a life long journey toward eternal salvation.

The necessity of water in the Sacrament of Baptism: CCC # 694; 1213-17; 1228; 1238-39; Infant baptism = CCC# 1252

Michal Hunt © 2006

www.AgapeBibleStudy.com

I love the ideas of talking "to" & "with" the children/siblings up front and not "at" them so that we do not preach down to them with a sermon, but I still struggle with what we should be telling/showing them about this event in a way they can grow to understand and celebrate what God has said or done for them in their baptisms, while still making it clear that they need to confirm & profess their own faith.  What things have you said to the kids watching or what questions have you asked of them at varying ages to help them understand what's happening?  As cute as the story about the lost/disappearing cross on a brother's forehead is, what should a parent or pastor be saying to this concerned sister about her brother's being signed and sealed as God's child?  I'd love to hear more...   

Mark Buchanan, Your God Is Too Safe is one of the best books I've ever read. I was also blessed by recently reading Roy Hession's classis book The Calvary Road. ~Stan

posted in: Books to read

John, faith is hope. We will allways have doubts because of the fall. You sound like you have a good grasp of Jesus. the questions you ask your self are another sign of knowing Him. Those questions help keep us humble and striving to worship God by seeking  relationship with Jesus.  I agree with Howards statement, We are completed as believer's at death. It's like life on earth is a life long birth with the real living afterwords. As a sick person and I am sure it's felt by the elderly too, I need Jesus to be real. This may sound weird to both you and Howard, but I feel the Holy Spirit radiating through both of you. God bless you guys

Ken

Oh boy!, is that old lady right or what, being an always been a Christian guy, having doubts along the way of course, if not, does one really search for truth? Now, finally getting to be mature,(even though I have trouble convincing any one I know), you know, have a grand child, almost of retirement age, involved in several things in the church, I consider myself to be a Microburst Christian. From my early school days in Holland where we had to remember the words of a Psalm every week, which was agony to me, and was forgotten as soon as class was done, save for another week, knowing the order of all the books in the Bible, learned them several times, but like the main roads in the city I visit sometimes, the rest does not stay with me. So was remembering names, other that those of the village people, then I began playing the organ and for about 48 years I have been behind the console accompanying the hymns, no multi tasking, play, don't sing along, so I know a lot of first lines, of the first stanzas, the tune that goes with. The Bible? yes I know quite a bit of what the Bible says, but it is mostly, it says somewhere in the Bible........ I believe in my Saviour, His word and try to live by it, but despite that and being reformed, knowing about Grace, do I know Him, really? That question is my biggest hang up I think.

In the same way if a glut of knowledge stuffed in the memory, that stomach of the mind, has not been cooked on the fire of love, and transfused and digested by certain skills of the soul, its habits and actions - since, as life and conduct bear witness, the mind is rendered good through its knowledge of good— will not that knowledge be reckoned sinful, like the food that produces irregular and harmful humors? "

Hi Jeff,  Could you explain what these statements say in different way?   Thanks

I'm part of our church's video team.  Wouldn't it be interesting to have video clips of members' baptism and/or profession of faith attached to their membership credentials - something they could take along with them wherever they go?  And suppose they had some of their children baptised and received a video clip of that occasion to pass along to their children?  And suppose that clip became part of the occasion for the profession of faith of those children?  Today's technology presents a whole new realm of "remembering" possibilities!

Hi Nick, I think the Word as the Holy Spirits tool. The Spirit has many of them to direct our path to Jesus. I think you should look at the early church to relize there are many faith forming tools. After all, they didn't have the written word as we do.

A healthily challenging question, Nick! I'm glad to let it kick around in my brain for awhile and I hope that my other committee members will do the same.

Personally, I'm not sure that "forming" as "creating" is a very commonly understood way of referring to the work "forming". It usually means taking something that is already and giving it shape, health, and direction. The Spirit gives us "unformed" faith and the ministry of the word and sacraments, as well as the nurturing of parents, is to give this "unformed" substance some meaningful form that will direct a life into discipleship and cope with the tests of life.

When synod came up with this word, I think it intended to catch all the confessions were referring to by "shapes", "confirms", "sustains" and "nourishes".

But I'm glad to hear other perspectives on it. The last thing we want is some misunderstanding that begins a journey in the wrong direction.

Howard

Thanks, David.  I like the "remembering that" terminology. And I'm also pretty comfortable with "Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows" from SNC 240, although that treats only the "vow" part of it as our action, and doesn't round it all out with a proper recollection of God's actions in baptism.

I like meeting a few parishioners on the anniversary of their baptism and going over the promises again.  Could be very rich!
 

Howard

Good questions, good responses.

I suppose "remember your baptism" is technically the wrong phrase.  Which perhaps points us in the right direction: it's "remember that you are baptized" and so we need reminders that do that.  Which I think Richard's and Nick's suggestions do.  (I also have led an ordination of new elders/deacons from the font, to set their present calling within their baptismal calling.  Also, I have promised to parishioners that if they come to me on the anniversary of their baptism day [or a reasonable facsimile], I will meet with them in the sanctuary and share the baptism promises with them again.  I've actually had a couple of people take me up on this - ha!)  All of this is where the language of "re-affirming" baptism comes in.  Someone else's baptism can be another occasion for "remembering that you are baptized."

Here are some things we've done: We have repositioned the font so that it is visually in line with the table and the pulpit. (It might sound trivial, but the next week I received a comment from someone who said, "I noticed that it was there." That's a start!) We've also filled the font with water for professions of faith, and mentioned baptism at funerals. I also try to stand next to the font at appropriate points in the worship services.

However, in our zeal to remind believers of their baptismal identities, we should take care that we aren't trying to flatten out the topography by implying that everyone must have the same powerful sense that a few have. It is perfectly appropriate for baptism to be a different reality for the adult-baptized and the infant-baptized. One of the things that baptism signifies is regeneration and conversion (dying and rising). And so, many who were baptized as adults remember conversion as a sudden moment -- and their baptism is an equally acute memory. And many who were baptized as infants remember conversion as a gradual work of the Holy Spirit throughout their childhood -- and their baptism is but a photo in an album. (It is for this reason that I would suggest that it is not a problem at all if you cannot remember your infant baptisms -- neither can many of those baptized as infants remember their conversions.) There are, of course, many times when this kind of match doesn't occur -- the person baptized as an infant who has a powerful conversion experience in her late 20s, for example. But a diversity of conversion experiences is appropriately signed and sealed by God in a diversity of baptismal experiences, and our reminders of baptism should encourage different people to "remember baptism" in this diversity of ways.

 

Pictures. Video. A candle. A wrapped present, like a book, that can be opened when they make a public profession of faith (like at age 5 or 8 or 11 or 16). A letter from someone in the congregation who was there at their baptism... that can be given to them later on. A constant reminder by the older folks of "I remember the day you were baptized... this is what it meant to me. I'm so glad that I was the one given the task of praying for you, encouraging you, maintaining contact with you for all these years..." Just some thoughts.

Perhaps one small step would be to remind ourselves, and pastors remind their congregations, over and over again that we are baptized. (I fell far short of this when I was in parish ministry.) I love Martin's Luther's statement in his Larger Catechism (XIII, Part Fourth), "Thus we must regard Baptism and make it profitable to ourselves, that when our sins and conscience oppress us, we strengthen ourselves and take comfort and say: Nevertheless I am baptized; but if I am baptized, it is promised me that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body."

I think Neil makes a very significant point when he suggests that a pastor's personal contact with siblings or other children is key to making a baptism memorable. Let me expand on it....

We had many baptism in our congregation on a regular basis (a lot of children!) and there were a number of non-negotiable considerations we always observed:

-siblings are always to be included in the baptism event (located in a position so they could see the actual baptism clearly) and they were  personally addressed by the pastor at the time of their siblings baptism.

-all the children of the congregation were welcomed to the front for the entire baptism. The pastor addressed them to help them understand what was happening here.

-When the baptized child was presented to the congregation so they could promise their "love, encouragement and prayers", the child was always introduced to the gathered children FIRST. The new child is their peer, and they were to give the first welcome.

-We resolved that we would not be annoyed by noise, rustling, cries, etc. After all, if children are valuable before the Lord, then we ought not to have the right to say "SHHHH".  If we have a problem with a little noise, the problem is ours not those who are doing what children normally do.

Any other ideas?

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