Friday, September 30, 2016

"Why do Presbyterians Baptize Children?"

He looked me right in the eye and asked, “Why do Presbyterians baptize children?”

Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians all believe in infant baptism. Baptists believe that a person must be mature enough to profess faith in Christ before baptism. Infant baptism (including the Roman Catholic tradition) is a sign that Christian parents believe their children are incorporated in the family of faith.

At the sacrament of baptism, parents vow that they will raise their child in the Christian tradition and the congregation is asked to affirm their support.

We believe that children are included in God’s covenant of grace for Christian believers. In the Old Testament, the covenant was signified by circumcision. In the New Testament, baptism became the new sign of God’s covenant. We are adopted into the family of God. Infant baptism is a sign of incorporation into the body of Christ.

At the “Age of Accountability” (somewhere in the early teens) baptized children are given the opportunity to claim the Christian faith for themselves. This process is called Confirmation. The child is asked to confirm the vows taken for them on behalf of their parents.

Is infant baptism a guarantee of salvation? No, but it is a wonderful reminder of God’s grace in Jesus Christ! Like a child, we are all weak and unable to save ourselves.


Friday, September 23, 2016

"The Gesture of Forgiveness"

He was an outstanding United States Senator. This Christian leader was seated at the Head Table because he was the keynote speaker at this conference.

Oh no! The server for the Head Table suddenly fumbled the cake and lemon sauce dessert she was balancing. The dessert hit the shoulder of the guest-of-honor and spread a wide smear of lemon sauce down his coat, tie and shirt, and landed in his lap. Immediately, he grabbed a dinner knife and attempted to lift the goopy mess off his clothes. The server ran and returned with towels to salvage the situation.

Was she embarrassed? Was she in pain? The senator kept repeating, “It’s OK. It’ll be alright.”  I don’t think it helped.

After the mess was cleaned up, still red-faced, the server turned to go. The senator reached to her with both hands, drew her to him and gently kissed her cheek. She smiled, stood tall and left having regained her composure. He erased a painful memory by a gesture of forgiveness. That gentle act of acceptance on the part of the senator probably made a greater impression on that audience than his twenty-minute speech.

Colossians 1:13-14, “He has rescued us from the power of distress and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.”


Friday, September 16, 2016

"Anger Tips"

Anger is a powerful emotion. It will not be repressed. You cannot jam it down into your psyche without some repercussions. Some folks handle anger by repression. That is dangerous and unhealthy because that emotion will emerge in some other form. Venting anger only distances others from us. Confessing anger can be a release. We range in our reactions to the anger we feel from the fever of rage to the frigidity of hate. What is obvious is that anger, real or imagined, is too dangerous to be ignored.

James, a follower of Jesus Christ wrote, “You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.”

Anger Tips!

1.       Don’t rush to judgement. Slow down. Pick a future date to settle your disagreement. Take time to cool off and reflect.
2.       Long, slow burns are seldom effective. Getting mad is one thing but remaining mad is seldom therapeutic.  The Bible says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”  What does that mean?  It means don’t go to bed mad.
3.       Ask yourself, what is the most redemptive thing to do?  Every confrontation gives us the opportunity to be bitter or better. Talking about my anger with a trusted friend has often enabled me to put things in proper perspective. Letting a slow burn happen only adds to the carnage.
4.       In the midst of your anger, what did you discover about yourself?  Making peace with your anger and allowing others to express their anger is a step toward reconciliation.

Jesus said it, “Forgive seventy times seven.”  Four hundred and ninety-seven times ….. it is hard to keep track of that many offenses!


Friday, September 9, 2016

"Velour and Crochet"

My parents were great fans of the Old Testament stories about David. As their first born, I was named David. The Old Testament David knew success and failure, love and apathy, joy and sorrow. I Samuel 18:14 sets a standard for us: “David had success in all his undertakings; for the Lord was with him.”

One of my favorite success stories is that of George de Mestral. George was a well-known Swiss inventor. After walking his dog, he realized that his dog and his pants were covered with burrs; those irritating things that latch on to everything. It exhausted George eliminating the burrs from his pet’s coat and his pant legs.

Wondering about the burrs ability to irritate, he put a burr under the microscope and discovered the tiny hooks that make its grasp so fierce. FLASH! How about a two-part fastener? A hook and a loop would work. Maybe an alternative to buttons and zippers? When George put hooks and loops together, they would latch on to each other and stick. Guess what?  Velcro arrived. Surprise! Surprise!

Oh yes, Velcro is a marriage between Velour and Crochet. Next time Velcro works for you, thank George!


Friday, September 2, 2016

"No Man is an Island"

John Donne, the English poet wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself.”  We are not islands.  Although, I have met some folks I would suggest are pretty thin peninsulas!  The truth is we are all connected.  We need each other.

In the body of Christ, I have a community that cares about me. Small groups have given me accountability, receptivity and transparency. To be vulnerable is scary but it is a fresh shot at maturity.

God has given us the gift of community within the body of Christ. What do I mean? Family and friends to encourage you, counsel you, pray for you, sharpen you and strengthen you.

I repeat, in our hi-tech world, we need more hi-touch. Touch comes up 164 times in the Bible. It is the first sense to come alive and the last sense to die. The right to touch is earned. In a moment of joy, grief, tragedy, trauma – a hug can be a healing touch.

Yes, we have all experienced the ME culture. We counsel toddlers to get over the MINE attitude. The Christian faith focuses on WE and OUR. The New Testament repeatedly says “One Another.”  Love one another. Care for one another. Pray for one another. Give to one another.

While I was pastor at Grace Presbyterian in Houston, my father died. He died suddenly of a heart attack at age 75. Big shock! I was humbled and amazed at the folks in my faith family that came by and offered help and prayed with me.

John Donne got it right! “No man is an island, entire of itself.”