From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Timothy our brother. To the holy and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae.  Grace and peace to you from God our Father. We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. We’ve done this since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s people. You have this faith and love because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You previously heard about this hope through the true message, the good news, which has come to you. This message has been bearing fruit and growing among you since the day you heard and truly understood God’s grace, in the same way that it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world. You learned it from Epaphras, who is the fellow slave we love and Christ’s faithful minister for your sake. He informed us of your love in the Spirit. Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we haven’t stopped praying for you and asking for you to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, with all wisdom and spiritual understanding. 10 We’re praying this so that you can live lives that are worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him in every way: by producing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God; 11 by being strengthened through his glorious might so that you endure everything and have patience; 12 and by giving thanks with joy to the Father. He made it so you could take part in the inheritance, in light granted to God’s holy people. 13 He rescued us from the control of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. 14 He set us free through the Son and forgave our sins.

My favorite Southern Gospel singer was Kenny Hinson.  Kenny penned a lyric that said: “I first heard about Jesus, sitting on mama’s knee.”  What a gift!  To have godly parents who are more concerned about your salvation than your performance on the rec team, more concerned about your relationship with the Living God than with the possibility of winning the next beauty contest.  I thought about that when I read Paul’s comments to the church at Colossae and how they had receive the word of God from Epaphras.  Imagine the faithful testimony of this servant of God!  Imagine what a gift that was to the people of Colossae!  Imagine what an encouragement that was to Paul and to other Christians around the empire who heard the story of what God was doing in Colossae!

Where did you first hear about the greatest gift ever given, Jesus Christ?  Is that person still alive?  Is that ministry still functioning?  Have you taken the time to say ‘Thank You,’ to demonstrate your appreciation?  It is God who has abundantly provided for us the wonderful opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel.  It is God who set us free from the law of sin and death and forgave us.  It is God who shown His light upon us and continues to shine His light through us into the darkness of our world.   I don’t know where I first heard about Jesus, but I remember the Word of God that came to me through Mildred McDonald, my grandma; TAMcDonald, Jr., my granddaddy; my friends, especially Rodney, Thad, Dennis, and Craig; and the pastors, professors, district superintendents, and bishops I’ve had alone the way.   And I thank God for His abundant provision!

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God’s Abundant Provision

So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards.  Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know Him now.  So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation.  The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!  All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  In other words, God was reconciling the world to Himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them.  He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.  So, we are ambassadors who represent Christ.  God is negotiating with you through us.  We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!”  God caused the One who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through Him we could become the righteousness of God.

Of all the wonderful gifts I have received from God two stand out to me.  First, being clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  I’ve been made right with God – not because I deserved it or somehow earned it, but – because Jesus declared me righteous when I believed.  At that moment, the Holy Spirit applied the suffering and death of Jesus to my account and my accounts were settled.  Second, the ministry.  Through my baptism, I have – like Jesus – been anointed for ministry.  In Paul’s words, I have been given the ministry of reconciling the world to its Creator.

In this way, God has provided for me.  He provided a propitiation, a covering so that God no longer looked upon me without seeing the righteousness of His Son, Jesus.  And He provided a purpose – I have a ministry.  Even before my call to minister through music or to lead youth and especially before my call to ordained ministry, I was called and appointed as an Ambassador of Christ in the world.  My life means something.  

O thanks be to God for His abundant provision!

Altaring Your Presence

I have a dream! It’s a dream deeply rooted in God’s dream for the Body of Christ! I dream that one day our church will rise up and live out the true meaning of its calling as the people of God, that we would be a loving family, a reaching family, a teaching family, and a training family! And we are! We’re doing great things, but … can’t we do better than this? I believe we can if we follow Paul’s advice to the church at Rome: “With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, brothers and sisters, as an act of intelligent worship, to give Him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to Him and acceptable to Him. And don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold, but let God remold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands, and moves towards the goal of true maturity.[a]

And so, we come to offer ourselves – mind, body, and spirit – to God, but like the altar of Yahweh in Elijah’s day, the altar of God is in disrepair! If we are going to offer ourselves to God, and become all that God dreams for us to be, then we must first rebuild the Lord’s altar! And that’s what we’re learning to do! We’re learning to altar our prayers by altering the y we pray! That’s where our revival starts – 5 minutes of prayer at 5:55 – but that’s just the beginning. In addition to altering our prayers, we must be present in our church’s programs and ministries! We must altar our presence!

In the earliest days of the church, the mother church, the church at Jerusalem, set a pattern for all Christians to follow. Borrowing from the patterns of the Synagogue, they began meeting together to celebrate the resurrection of their Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Here’s how Luke described it: “All the believers devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship and to sharing in meals, and to prayer! A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the Apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had … they worshiped together in the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. [b] Luke says the church at Jerusalem met for worship at the Temple every day and in people’s homes to share the Lord’s Supper.

But often that which starts as an explosion ends with a flicker! And soon, people started drifting away and attendance wasn’t as strong as before. So, by the time the Book of Hebrews was written in 64 AD – just 30 years later – the author had to challenge the church: “Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing.[c] And about that same time, Paul wrote to Timothy and said: “Now the Spirit clearly says that in the latter days some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. [d] And when John wrote to the churches of Asia Minor, he told the church at Ephesus: “You have lost your first love. [e]

So, you see, what we’re experiencing is nothing new.  It’s the same old temptation and the same old challenge that the church has faced in every generation since the beginning.  For lots of reasons – most of them bad – people choose to leave the church.  And even those who continue to attend, do so with conflicted motives.  Some come to be seen; some to save their marriage or to help them parent; some come for the music program; and others come seeking romance!  The reasons people attend are very diverse, but friends, God calls us to altar our presence, to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice.

And if we’re going to altar our presence, we must start by altering our motivations!  Our primary motivation for coming to church must be our passion for God!  You see, our attendance is an act of love!  Jesus told the scribe: “The first and greatest commandment is this: ‘You will love the Lord your God.’

In John 12, we are told about a woman with a questionable reputation.  Remember her?  Jesus was eating at the home of Simon the Pharisee and a woman broke into the room, came over and knelt at Jesus’ feet, poured oil over Him and wept over Him.  Now, we aren’t told what was happening in her life; we don’t know if she said anything; we don’t know what Jesus had done for her.  All we know is that she had one thing on her mind: pouring her affection upon the Lord.  In this woman, we see true worship.  She didn’t care what was happening around her; she didn’t care that she wasn’t wanted; she didn’t care if others were watching; she worshiped the Lord, because she loved Him.  After your motivation!

Second, if we’re going to altar our presence, we must alter our expectations!  There is a mentality in the church today that basically says: “I come to church for what I get out of it.”  We’ve turned the church into cheap entertainment.  As long as the church is entertaining – the sermon’s good, the music is good, the staff makes me happy – then, I’m there!  As long as I get something out of it, it’s okay!  But friends, instead of coming to church for what we get from it, we should come for what we can give to God through it.

When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, one of the issues he had to address was worship.  All kinds of things were happening in worship and Paul had to set them straight.  And listen to his instructions in        1 Corinthians 14: “When you come together, each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.  All these things must be done to build up the church.”  Paul says: “Look, the church is most healthy when everybody is contributing to it.”  You see, in church everyone participates; no one spectates.

And the beauty of God’s plan is that when we come together and everyone participates, everyone offers themselves to God and to others, then we all leave blessed!  Because it’s in giving that we receive the greatest blessing.  When we invest ourselves in Sunday School or Small Group, God blesses us.  So, we’ve got to change our expectations, stop expecting to receive and start imagining ways we can give ourselves to God and one another.  Alter your expectations!

And then, finally, if we’re going to altar our presence, we must alter our priorities!  Church gatherings should not be optional for the people of God; they should be a priority!  Like the church at Jerusalem, we should continue meeting together for worship, discipleship, fellowship, mission, and ministry!  We can’t sit around all week thinking, “You know, if I don’t have anything else better to do, I think I’m going to church this weekend?”  That’s not a priority!  That’s not following Jesus’ command to: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness [f] nor His command to pray: “Your Kingdom come; Your will be done.

Now, we all know that we live in a different world.  We’re all busy and we all have a million things to do and a million places to be, but here is a great spiritual truth: We do what we want to do!  If you want to be in church, you’ll be in church and nothing will stop you.  It’s all about priorities!  And from time to time, our priorities get out of whack.  We need to alter our priorities.  Paul said: “Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed.”  Alter your priorities.

Altar your presence!  Make your participation in church life an offering to God … by altering your motivations, your expectations, and your priorities!  After all, isn’t that what we promised to do:

I will be faithful to God and to First United Methodist Church and I will uphold it with my prayers, my presence ……… my gifts, my service, and my witness!

Altaring Your Prayers

I have a dream!  It’s a dream deeply rooted in God’s dream for the Body of Christ.  I dream that we, as a church, would be everything God has called us to be … a loving family, a reaching family, a teaching family, and a training family!  And we’re doing so well, but can’t we do better than this?  With the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit, can’t we rise up and live out the true meaning of God’s dream for His people?  I can see it happening right before my eyes, but we are not without our faults.  We have our cracks and gaps that need to be repaired.

In Northern Kingdom of Israel, a wicked king rose to the throne; his name was Ahab.  Now, Ahab married a Phoenician Princess named Jezebel.  And like all Canaanites, she worshiped Baal and when she moved to Samaria, she brought her gods with her and soon, Israel was worshiping Baal too.  In fact, Jezebel tore down the altars of Yahweh, but God had a prophet in Israel; his name was Elijah.  And one day, on Mt. Carmel, Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal to see whose God was really God.  Well, the prophets of Baal built an altar, placed a sacrifice on it, and began marching and chanting to Baal.  But when Elijah went to Yahweh’s altar, it was in disrepair.  So, before he could offer a sacrifice to God, he had to rebuild the Lord’s altar.

Brothers and Sisters, Paul encourages us: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God.  This is your appropriate priestly service.  Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is – what is good, pleasing, and acceptable.[i]  Paul says we are to offer ourselves – mind, body, and spirit – to God as a living sacrifice.  But how can we do that when the Lord’s altar is in disrepair, when we’re not fully living into God’s dream for His church?  We must rebuild the Lord’s altar!

And where do we start?  Where do we begin to rebuild the Lord’s altar so that our church can become a loving family, a reaching family, a teaching family, and a training family?  We begin in prayer!  Prayer has to be our first priority!  When Paul wrote to tell Timothy how to be a leader in the church, he said: “Therefore, I encourage, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all men, for kings, and all who are in authority.[ii]  Paul could have said: “If I was you, I’d plan Sunday worship and Wednesday Bible Study.  I’d visit more and look really busy doing the work of God,” but Paul’s advice was: “If I was you, the first thing I’d do is pray.

Prayer!  Prayer is communication with God, a private audience with the King of the Universe and the Creator of all things!  Many think prayer is a chance to talk with God, but primarily prayer is an opportunity to quiet ourselves before God and listen to Him.  It’s not so much a time for me to let God know what’s on my mind, as it is a time for me to hear what’s on God’s mind.  Prayer isn’t me trying to persuade or manipulate God into doing what I want, but a chance for me to submit myself to doing what God wants.

What would it mean for us – as a church family – if prayer became a priority, If every gathering for worship, study, or business became first and foremost, a time of prayer, to seek to know the heart and mind of God?  That’s where we start!  We start in prayer!  So, I’m encouraging you to prayer for our church, to set aside five minutes every day to pray for our church!  5 minutes a day at 5:55!  And if 5:55 doesn’t work for you, pick a time and pray!  Pray!  Altar your prayers; present your prayers to God!  Paul told the church at Philippi: “Don’t be anxious about anything, but bring up all your requests to God in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving.[iii]

Pray!  But when we pray, we need to pray in a certain way!  Or … as we altar our prayers, we need to alter the way we pray!  First, instead of focusing on me, we need to focus on God!  Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven, holy is your name.[iv]  Our prayers should always begin with praise and adoration.  The Psalmist called upon the Lord, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.[v]  Many of the traditional Jewish prayers begin, “Blessed are you, O Lord, our God Creator of heaven and earth, provider of all our needs, and lover of our souls.”  In other words, our prayers should exalt the character and activity of God.

You see, we don’t fully realize this and we don’t always live into it, but you and I are in a loving, covenant relationship with God.  “O how I love Jesus, because He first loved me.”  So, we need to spend time loving God in our prayers.  Tell Him that you love Him!  Tell Him what He means to you!  Focus on God!

Second, instead of proclaiming my goodness, we need to deal with our sinfulness.  We are not the people God has called us to be.  We are not the church family God is calling us to be.  And we need to confess that to God, saying: “Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart; we have failed to be an obedient church; we have not done your will; we have broken your law; we have rebelled against your love; we have not loved our neighbors and we have not heard the cry of the needy.  Forgive us, we pray and free us for joyful obedience.[vi]  Individually and collectively, there are things we do that are clearly outside of the will of God.  And individually and collectively, there are things we fail to do that clearly place us outside of the will of God.  And until we deal with those – until we repent, the church cannot move forward and fulfill God’s dream for us.

In Joshua, we read the story of the Battle of Ai.  Now, just a few days before, Israel conquered Jericho.  For six days, they marched around the city once a day and on the seventh day, they marched around seven times, and they blew their horns and shouted and the walls came tumbling down.  Now, God told them: everything in Jericho belongs to me, but Achkan took some of God’s things and hid them in his tent.  And when Israel went into battle against Ai, they suffered a great defeat and it was revealed that there was sin in the camp.  And it wasn’t until Israel dealt with the sin among them that they could conquer and live into God’s dream for them.  Confess your sins!

Third, instead of moaning about our limitations, we need to give thanks for what we have and what we are!  You know the old joke: the family was headed home after church one Sunday and everybody started complaining.  The sermon was too long; the choir sang off key; the organist was too loud, and on and on and on.  And finally, Little Johnny spoke up and said: “Well, I thought it was pretty good for that dollar you put into the offering plate.

The truth is: with all our challenges and shortcomings, we are a great church!  We worship; we fellowship; we study; we reach out; and we serve.  We have staff members and volunteers, clergy and laity, working together, serving God!  We have a music team – a praise team, a choir, and handbells – to lead us in worship!  Many churches our size don’t have a choir anymore and very few have handbells.  We have Sunday School classes and small groups.  We have ministry teams serving in various areas.  We have committees to plan and lead our ministries.  We are actively involved in social justice ministries at Good Sam, Tabitha’s Place, and Backpack Buddies!  We’re blessed!  And Paul reminds us: “Bring your requests to God in prayer with thanksgiving.[vii]  Give Thanks!

And finally, instead of asking God to bless us, we need to ask God to use us to bless others!  Ask God to give us a heart for the lost and the hurting!  Ask God to give us eyes to see their needs and ears to hear their cries!  Ask God to help us use His blessings to make a difference in the church and in the world.  Perhaps we can pray the Prayer of St. Francis: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.  O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.”  Now, that’s a prayer!  It’s one of the most selfless prayers I’ve ever read and it’s a great guide for our prayers.  Petitions!

And so, I encourage you, brothers and sisters, when you think about all that God has done for you, offer your bodies to God.  Altar your prayers!  After all, isn’t that what we promised to do when we said:  “I will be faithful to God and to First United Methodist Church and I will uphold it with my prayers, my presence, my gifts, my service, and my witness.

[i]   Romans 12:1 – 2 CEB

[ii]   1 Timothy 2:1

[iii] Philippians 4:6

[iv]   Matthew 5

[v]   Psalm 8

[vi]   UMH, pg. 12

[vii] Philippians 4:6

Impossible Possibilities

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Then Abraham took butter, milk, and the calf that had been prepared, put the foot in front of them, and stood under the tree near them as they ate.  They said to him, “Where is your wife, Sarah?”  And he said: “Right here in the tent.”  Then one of the men said, “I will definitely return to you about this time next year.  Then your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”  Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him.  Now Abraham and Sarah were both very old.  Sarah was no longer menstruating.  So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, I’m no longer able to have children and my husband’s old.  The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Me give birth?  At my age?’  Is anything too difficult for the Lord?”

Is anything too difficult for the Lord?  Ha!  Or in the language of texting and social media, LOL!  Faithful Abram, Believing Abraham, ran into a big problem in his journey with God.  In his old age, Abraham is promised an heir, a son.  In her old age, Sarah will be blessed (haha) with a child.  And their reaction is predictable … laughter.  Did Abraham believe?  No!  Did Sarah have faith?  No!  They laughed!  Not because they didn’t believe in God or trust in God, but because their focus was off!  Instead of focusing in God’s power, Abraham and Sarah focused on their abilities … or lack thereof.  At 90, Abraham wasn’t a prime candidate for fatherhood.  And neither was Sarah being considered for mother of the year.  They were has-beens.  But is anything too difficult for God?

In the tiny village of Nazareth in Galilee, an angel appeared to a young peasant girl.  He told her that she was going to be a mother!  I wonder if Mary laughed.  After all, it was pretty funny!  Mary was a young teenager.  She was a virgin, engaged to be married.  She had to know where babies come from and she would have immediately known she was not a prime candidate for motherhood.  “How can this be?” she asked.  You see, Mary didn’t believe – not because she didn’t trust God or believe in God, but because her focus was wrong.  She focused on her abilities … or lack thereof.  How can this be?  And the angel responded: “With God, nothing will be impossible!”  Is anything too difficult for God?

Jesus called them to be with Him and to be sent out to proclaim the Good News!  I wonder if they laughed!  Them?  Fishers of Men?  Hardly!  They were fishermen; they were tax collectors; they were common sheep farmers.  How could they proclaim the Good News?  How can we?  We stutter to find the right words!  We trip over our greatest theological concepts.  We have our preconceived ideas, our prejudices, our plans and agendas!  How can we proclaim the Good News?  How can we make disciples!  How can we be useful to God?  We’re too young or too old or too ______ (Fill in the blank)!  But is anything too difficult for God?

The great truth that we will never be able to escape is that this life isn’t about “ME”!  It really is about GOD!  I am not the hope of glory, but Christ in me is!  I can’t preach, teach, serve, witness, disciple, love, minister, etc. etc.  But Christ in me can!  Pentecost, the infilling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, means that, in my life, I can accomplish that which God calls me to do.  Because nothing is too difficult for God!  Surely, with God, nothing will be impossible!  Thanks be to God!

I Heard His Voice

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The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your land, your family, and your father’s household for the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation and will bless you.  I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, those who curse you I will curse; all the families of the earth will be blessed because of you.”  So, Abram left just as the Lord told him, and Lot went with him.

Out of a clear blue sky, God spoke to Abram.  I wonder what that felt like.  Did Abram think he was hearing voices?  You know, we have medications for people who hear voices.  Did he question himself, his sanity, his intelligence?  We don’t know all the answers.  The writer of Genesis simply wants us to know that Abram left his homeland, his family, and his father’s house and went to a land that God showed him.  However, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews (in the New Testament) sheds light on Abram’s response.  This writer simply says: “By faith, Abram …”.  And Paul tells us: “Abraham believed God  and …”.

Those who study people and cultures are to be admired.  People are complex beings.  The way we act and react is as varied as the sands on the beach.  And just when we think we can predict actions and reactions, freewill sticks its ugly head into the situation and we find that we don’t know as much about others and ourselves as we think we do.  Abraham is an example.  One day, Abraham is believing and following and the next, he is questioning, lying, and deceiving.  Yet, we admire Abraham because he believed God.  We admire Abraham because he is us, the way we wish to be and the way we know ourselves to be.

As a teenager, I was invited to attend a Church of God Tent Revival.  The invitation came from my best friend in high school, Keith Sellars.  That night was a high water mark in my life for that night for the first time that I remember, I called upon the Lord and surrendered my life to Him.  Soon thereafter, I began reading God’s Word along with other members of our youth group.  And I heard voices.  Well, a voice actually; it was the voice of God.  It called to me through the texts I read.  The voice called me to be more than I was, more than I dreamed of being – a preacher, a pastor.  I wish that I could boast and proclaim my faithful response.  Truth is … I didn’t believe God.  Those things that Abraham so willingly gave up, I did not!  Rather, I became more like the rebellious prophet Jonah who ran the other way.  During my later teens, I was anything but faithful to God, to His church, to His calling.  And even today, after I have “believed God,” after I have answered the call, my life – like Abraham’s – is littered with examples of unfaithfulness and distrust.

I still hear the voice; I still hear the call; I stand as one who is blessed by God beyond my ability to calculate!  It started with a single invitation and it continues today as I kneel in prayer and as I read and study God’s Word.  But what do I do with it?  Should I hear God’s voice and not trust it or should I hear God’s voice and ignore it, I am nothing!  It is only when I believe and … leave that my life becomes a demonstration of faithful response to God, a life well lived.  So, don’t give me meds!  Don’t think me odd!  I’m simply seeking to be obedient.

 

The Sign of the Covenant

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“I have placed my bow in the clouds; it will be the symbol of the covenant between me and the earth.”

When Noah and his family left the ark, God made a covenant with the earth through Noah’s family.  He said He would never destroy the earth by a flood again and the sign of the covenant was a rainbow in the clouds.  Why wasn’t God’s Word enough?  God had said it would rain and it did.  God had promised to deliver Noah and his family and the animals and He did!  So, why wasn’t His word enough?  Why do we need a sign?

Just yesterday, I had one of the greatest privileges: God allowed me to baptize one of our children in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  God has done and is doing a great work within her heart and life; she is learning to follow Jesus and to love God and others.  She has committed her life to God as a follower of Christ and promised to serve Him in the church and in the world!  She made promises to God and God made promises to her.  God said: “I will be your God and you will be my child.”  And as a reminder, a sign of that new promise, I applied water to her head and proclaimed: “______, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Why do we need a sign?

One day, a boy was walking along with his grandpa and the elderly man said: “Son, always remember I love you.”  That really warmed the boy’s heart and he thought about it for a moment and said: “Grandpa, how can I remember that you love me.  I’m just a little fella and sometimes I forget.”  And Gramps said: “Well, sometimes I take you fishing; sometimes we go hunting together; and sometimes we just sit and talk.  So, every time you think about those things, the things we do together, I want you to remember how much I love you.”   The boy needed a sign.

At times, I need a sign too – a sign of God’s love, a sign of God’s faithfulness, and sign of God’s constant presence and care.  And God has honored my need for a sign.  One day a pastor applied water to me and baptized me in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy spirit and whenever I begin to doubt or whenever the cares of life threaten to choke out my memory, I remind myself – as did Luther – but Tucker, you are baptized.

See!  I have put my bow in the clouds!  See!  I have put my seal upon you!  You are mine and I am yours!  So be it!  Amen!