Saturday, November 28, 2009

On the Eve of a Baptism

Tomorrow awaits the joy of the addition to the family of God another lovely daughter in the Czech Republic! What a delight it is to be able to celebrate with a friend of mine, Lucie, her baptism. She first believed the promises of Christ's resurrection this summer, and it's been marvelous to see her love for Christ grow, and the level of spiritual maturity that the Lord has given her in such a short time is amazing. Our God can do anything!
It is right and proper that whenever a Christian witnesses a baptism, he remember the promises Christ gave to him at his own baptism. We remember that it was at that time that the Gospel which had been preached to us in Word was delivered to us personally, applied in the water traced in a cross on our foreheads in the name of our Triune God. It was at that time, when the pastor spoke on Christ's behalf that we (yes, us indeed!) were recipients of Jesus' promises, we were united with Him in His baptism, that we were likewise united with Him in His death, and so too, united with Him in His resurrection to new life!

"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." Romans 6:3-8

The beauty of the Gospel being applied to us in baptism is that when we sin, when we fall or are faint of faith, we don't despair of our salvation. We cling to Christ's promises that He gave at our baptism. When the devil attacks, we are able to tell him to go hell, that he has no right to molest or accuse us, because we are baptized, sealed by the Holy Spirit! We are Christ's and Satan has no longer any power over us. And we are more than sure we are Christ's, because He claimed us individually.

What does Baptism give or profit?--Answer: It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

Which are such words and promises of God? Answer: Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Luther's Small Catechism, IV, 2)

The other wonderful beauty which I expect on Lucie's baptism is that it's the first Sunday of Advent. During Advent, we speak of John the Baptist preparing the way for the coming of the Lord by doing his work of baptizing people for repentance. Christ's baptism, which we receive, is greater than John's baptism, but it's an interesting connection that Lucie's baptism, in Advent, will prepare her and giver her confidence for the coming of the Lord. Lovely.

On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Awake and hearken, for he brings
Glad tidings of the King of kings!

May you have a blessed Advent, and may you be prepared for the coming of the Lord: the coming in His birth at Christmas, our remembrance of His coming into Jerusalem to finish the work which He set out from before time to accomplish, and our hopeful gaze toward the skies as we eagerly anticipate his glorious and imminent return.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


After being on the mission field in the Czech Republic for 18 months, with only 9 to go, I'm looking ahead to what will be after I return to the States. I'm fairly settled (like 95% sure) that I'm going to go back home, and I've got these dreams floating around in my head. All of them involve abandoning my previous pursuit of science altogether to become a worker for the Church and for Christ. This is not me denying secular vocations the Christian, but rather being convinced that the desires of my heart and my passions are changing (have changed) from the pursuit of a secular vocation to a sacred one.

And I'm worrying, doubting myself, and asking all kinds of questions:

Will I be enough to get accepted into this or that program?
Will I impress the powers that be enough to get in?
Will I be good enough at it?
Will I be faithful enough?
Will I learn enough?
Will I work hard enough?
Will I be able to sacrifice myself enough for the service of others?
Will I be willing enough or strong enough to pursue this to the end?
Will I be "holy" enough to get a position after I've been trained?

I'm nothing. I'm not some kind of evangelism genius (if you'd met me, you'd know...). I'm not a particularly effective missionary. I'm not an inspiring teacher. I'm not great at caring for people. I'm more likely to be concerned about myself: my comfort, my reputation, my wants, my needs, my happiness, my, my, my, me, me, me. Ugh.

All of that is my sinful, old nature which I must daily drown in the waters of my baptism. I know this. Service which is pleasing to Christ is not done by the most genius evangelists, the most effective missionaries, the most inspiring teachers, the most caring people. The service rendered to Christ is done by one who can self-identify as a "chief of sinners" who recognizes that, though he or she is not enough, Christ is.

How can we possibly fail at service to Christ if we throw ourselves after Him with all that we as His redeemed people are, delighting to know that though all our deeds are like filthy rags, through His redemption, they are clean and white like snow.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Cor. 12:9-10)
May you and I be able to rest in our Lord, acknowledging, and boasting in our weaknesses as the Apostle Paul did, knowing that His power is made complete in them. We are not enough. We never will be. But He is enough, He always has been. And He is able to keep us faithful to the end.