Ker-Plunk

The first person I ever baptized was a junior high boy at church camp south of Bloomington, Indiana.  The camp had a stock tank filled with water that we baptized in.  I bent the poor boy over double.  I’m surprised I didn’t break him in two.

I have had the privilege of baptizing a lot of people, young and old.  I think I have baptized more people in the pool at Shelby County Christian Assembly than anywhere else (http://www.scca-online.com/).

That word, “baptism,” created a problem.  It is a transliteration.  That’s a big-ol word that basically means you take each letter in one language and find the same or a similar letter in another language and create a new word in that language.  That’s what they did a long time ago with the Greek word batptizo.

Take each letter in baptizo and you get b-a-p-t-i-z-e, baptize.  What does it mean?

The word baptizo literally means “to dunk.”  I baptize my donut in my coffee.  I slam-baptize the basketball in a game (I mean, I used to could do that).  I grab my friend Ken in the pool at church camp and baptize him in the name of camp and fun.  I dunk the donut.  I dunk the basketball.  I dunk Ken.

It means to dunk, to plunge, to dip, to completely immerse.  Most Christians, most churches actually immerse, though there are some that take and make baptism something it’s not, sprinkling or pouring which doesn’t accomplish the total immersion physically, literally or spiritually (cf. Romans 6:1-10).  And there are no current Bible translations that translate the word immerse.  The latest one that I am aware of is the Simple English Bible.

We need to understand that the meaning of the word is the form and function of the command that goes with the word.  Baptize means to immerse and when someone believes and confesses Christ, what do I do?  I immerse them.  So, we understand here that when the word baptize and baptism is used, it means to immerse totally under the water.

Repent and be baptized in the name of  Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” Acts 2:38.

I believe in Jesus, so I want to know what to do.  The Apostle Peter, under the authority of Jesus Christ and with the power of the Holy Spirit of God replies, “now you need to repent and be baptized so you can be forgiven of your sins.”

I need to be baptized.  I want to obey God’s will, I want to be freed from my sin, I want to do what is necessary.  I need to be baptized.

Other than that I need to be baptized to obey (fulfill righteousness), why do I need to be baptized?  That’s our next episode.

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Bill Cosby Says It’s Pig Latin for “BO”

Bill Cosby is one of the funniest guys around.  His exaggerated stories of his youth and family are incredibly funny.  In one of his routines, he says the word “obey”  is pig-latin for “Bo.”  I can just hear him saying it mimicking a bass voice, “oh – bay.”

The key to all salvation elements, whether it is belief, confession, repentance or baptism is this, are we going to obey Jesus?  That is where it’s at, no matter what understanding anyone has about baptism’s role in salvation.  Whether baptism is the expression of salvation received or when salvation is received (as I believe the Bible teaches) it is still a matter of obedience to Jesus Christ and his teaching through the apostles.

Let’s start with Jesus.  When he was about 30 years old (Luke 3:23) Jesus showed up where John the Baptist was immersing (baptizing) and asked John to immerse him.  John objected.  He knew Jesus was the Son of God and he asked Jesus to baptize him.  It made sense since Jesus is the “The One” that he should baptize John.  But Jesus objected.  He told John to baptize him to “fulfill all righteousness.”  Luke 3:21-22; Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-13 record Jesus’ baptism.

Matthew 3:15, “It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”  What’s that mean?

Obviously it has to do with what is right.  And we can see that it’s about what is right in God’s eyes.   What is right is obeying God’s will which is always right and righteous.  God apparently wanted Jesus to be baptized.

Let’s beg the question here.  Did Jesus need to be baptized?  Yes.  John’s baptism was simply about being repentant for sins and preparing people for the coming of the Messiah.  Of course Jesus never sinned, though on the cross he became sin for us to pay for our sins, but never committed sin.  He had to be baptized to obey God.

Most people will tell you Jesus’ baptism was an example.  Well it was, but I’m not ‘sure it is exactly as most people believe or explain it.  Jesus example was a matter of obedience, obeying God.

If we learn nothing from Jesus’ example, we should at the very least learn to obey God!

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Dying Man’s Faith

I have spent countless hours and days in the hospital and at people’s bedside, some as they breathed their last breath.

When they know they’re dying, the last months or weeks or even days speak volumes about their faith.

I have a friend that without God’s miraculous intervention, won’t be with us much longer.  The doctor’s and medicine can’t do any more for him.  They have done all they could.

I’ve only known Jim for about 3 1/2 years and I’ve found him to be a humble man.  Jim is a man of God and we should learn from his faith.  In fact, we have.  Jim shared how he is dealing with cancer and dying during one of our messages at church.*

Faith takes us into territory that we would never approach without it.  Here is some of the territory Jim is discovering; how great his trust in God is; peace that can only be explained by faith in God; contentment that allows him to accept whatever God’s allows to happen; and even hope – because his reward is heaven.

I love inspirational movies based on true stories.  Movies like Invincible and The Blind Side.  As great as those stories are, the story of a never-ending trust in God in the worst circumstance is greater and prods me on to trust and faith in God.

God, thank you for people like Jim.”

* You can hear Jim sharing about his faith during the message “When Hit With Chronic Illness and Injury” from the series “When Life Happens,” from November 11, 2009.    http://www.newtestamentchristianonline.com/Sermons.dsp

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It’s Dunkin’ Time!

We’re about to examine the next element that must happen in a person’s life in order to be saved.  That last element is immersion.  Often translated into English as baptism.

  • First we determined that we must believe in Jesus.  He is the Son of God.  Do you believe that?  God raised him from the dead.  Do you believe that?  If you do, than you can be saved (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10).
  • Next we learned that we must repent of our sin against God.  We have missed the mark that we weren’t even aiming at (Acts 2:38).  We must repent, change of heart and mind, and change of attitude and actions.
  • Than we learned about the need to confess that Jesus is the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10).  It’s got to be inward and outward.
  • And now, finally to receive God’s gift of salvation, we must be baptized.  Immersion in a pool of water because we have believed and confessed Jesus (Acts 2:38).

We’ll examine baptism from the Scripture just like we have the first three elements.  While you wait, enjoy the cartoon above and the video of the world’s fastest baptism.

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I Love Electric Guitar

SCCA Praise Concert, 2006

It all began before I was a teen.  My preacher and his daughter were taking guitar lessons and I thought that was pretty neat.  Therefore, I wanted to play guitar too.  Dad had a 1953 Martin 00-17 that he never learned to play on.  Because I wanted it so badly, Mom and Dad took me to the music store in Kokomo (Indiana) where he had bought the Martin and bought me a Winston beginner’s guitar.  A little 6-string acoustic flat-top that had a sunburst paint scheme.  Red blending to black along the edges.

I didn’t have lessons.  I may be a self-starter, but at that point, I didn’t know where to start.  So other than banging on the strings, not having learned anything about playing, it pretty much stayed shoved under my bed.

Then . . . Ralph Trotto came to town.  Ralph was from the southeast portion of Indiana.  His fame is pretty much reserved to the churches he played in and having taught the Memphis blues man Lonnie Mack some of his first guitar chords.  Ralph Trotto was blind which was cool in its own right.  He played a big-box Gibson electric (like a Byrdland or Super 400 or something) into a Fender Twin amplifier.  His voice was big and booming and that’s how he played guitar.  I was hooked.  I wanted it.

Malachi and me

Before I was allowed to take guitar lessons, my folks had me take piano lessons so that I could “learn music.”  I had about three years of piano.  I learned notes and my ear got trained to harmony.  I would practice the piece my teacher gave me that week, fumbling through until I had it memorized and played it back for her, without reading the music, but appearing too.  I didn’t become a pianist like my brothers and sister.

During this time, I attended a youth rally hosted by a Christian Church in Carmel, Indiana.  It was held in the auditorium of the Carmel High School.  They had a band, a Christian band, the first I’d ever seen or heard of.  But it was a Christian rock band and whoever the guy was playing the guitar, her was playing a red Gibson SG.  I was hooked.  That is still my “dream guitar.”  In fact, the best guitar I have ever played was a 1961 Gibson SG in mint condition.  My friend Marty had it.  His grandma had bought it new in ’61 and played it for 30 plus years and there wasn’t a single scratch on it.  If it had all the original tags ( it had some of them), it would have been dead mint.

One of the world's most famouse SG's

I pressed my folks to let me take guitar lessons.  By the summer of 1977 I was taking lessons.  I bought an Alvarez 5022 acoustic flat-top guitar for $90 (half price sale)  and took lessons from a Jazz musician by the name of Malcom Bender.

When the cost per lesson went up 33% ($3 to $4 a lesson), we couldn’t afford to keep them up and so my friend Jim taught me.  We wrote a song or two together, and played them at church.

The first real song I learned, besides the basic music lesson songs, like Michael Row the Boat Ashore and stuff like that was Three Dog Night’s “Old Fashioned Love Song.”

[Kind of a goofy performance isn’t it?]

I’ve been hooked ever since.  I’ve mostly learned on my own ever since, but I’ve played for 32 years now.  Not as good as someone who has played that long, but I enjoy playing.

I’ve owned and played Les Paul’s, Stratocasters, Telecasters, Ovation electrics and acoustics, Hamer, Aria, and more.  I’ve played hundreds and hundreds of guitars in music stores, pawn shops, churches, bars, living rooms and who knows where.

Give me an electric and I’m comfortable.  I’ll even sing with one strapped on my shoulders.  I feel as though the guitar is an extension

Playing a parts guitar (Telecaster copy) before work in 1987

of myself and play it like it is a part of me.  I love the expressive abilities of the guitar.  I love the variety of styles that can be played with the guitar.  I love to rock and nothing will rock like a Les Paul.

I really could go on and on about guitar and the electric in particular.

“I love guitar.”  You can quote me on that too.  I am not ashamed of the fact that I love guitar.  I have been inspired by many players, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Phil Keaggy, Bob Wall, Ron Salisberry, Mike Baer, Santana, Les Paul and I can go on forever about my influences.

Guitar is important to me because I can be expressive in ways I might not be able to otherwise, plus, having an awesome looking guitar slung over your shoulders is pretty cool.

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Playing bass for "Wednesday Night Live"

Merry Christmas

To me the whole idea of Christmas is a blast.  I love the pagentry, the music, the shows, and the better moods it puts us into, but I must never, and I hope you never forget what this holiday is about.  Charles Schultz was a theologian if you didn’t know.  In Linus, he helps us get that grip on what this is about.  Gauge it all through the scripture.  Merry Christmas!

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Exploring Passion

This is one of the guitars I love. I could go on endlessly about it. Do I have the same type or rather, a greater passion for Christ?

I have been in love with guitars since I was about 9 or 10 years old.  And I fell in love with the electric guitar a couple of years later.  I must admit I am passionate about guitars.

I could tell you how great they are and how guitars are the most expressive instruments there are after the violin and that might be questionable depending on the artist (eg, listen to Gary Moore play “Still Got the Blues,” or “The Messiah Will Come Again.”  Check him out on YouTube,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O_YMLDvvnw and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9ruYs7Xxhg

I could relate to you how I fell in love with the guitar and the electric guitar in particular (that involves hearing Ralph Trotto and a couple of years later seeing a Red Gibson SG played at a youth rally in Carmel, Indiana in 1972 or 73).

I could share with you how the Les Paul/SG style guitars are the best, bar none (whether made by Gibson or similar types by Heritage, Paul Reed Smith, Carvin, Hamer and others).

I love guitar and I love guitar music and I could go and on and on.  Don’t leave me yet.  I have more and it’s better, I promise.

I could go on endlessly about my grand-children, or missionary son, or my 30 year marriage, or preaching, or my favorite sports and sports teams and individuals, or summer church camp, etc, etc.  I could go on and on and on with a lot of different things that I am passionate about.

But why is it, and I am guilty of this also, why is it, that the one thing, that Jesus considered the most important thing is for the most part, the least important thing and the one thing that possesses the least amount of passion for many Christians, and that is (we need an echo chamber here for emphasis), EVANGELSIM…LISM…Ism…sm…m!”  The echo really adds emphasis doesn’t it…LOL!

Where’s your passion, Christians?

Do you remember this?  Watch the video.

Instead of Clara hollering, “Where’s the beef?”  Imagine someone who is not yet a believer and follower of Christ crying, “Where’s the passion?”  There are a lot of people that do not respect Christians and are not listening to our message for a number of reasons.  One of the most significant reasons is that we don’t seem to have passion about Christ and the Church and Christianity.

If you think I mean by passion, a super- expressive way of presenting a message or making a point, like some preachers, or exciting speakers, well, that’s not necessarily what I mean.  A lot of people are not that way, don’t have expressive manners.  Passion may not be extreme emotional expression.  But it is a fire with in you.  Is Jesus everything to you?

I know there’s a lot here, but this IS important.  Read, or reread this post from 11/22/2009, and return for more;  https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/531/

Your passion is what you put your heart and soul into.  It’s not that when I do something, I do it all the way, or I put my best into it.  I do a job and I put my best into it, not because I am passionate about the job and the work involved, but because as a follower of Christ, I put my best into everything I do.  Jesus said, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be,” Matthew 6:21 NLT http://www.youversion.com/bible/asv/matt/6/21).

Whatever is important to you, whatever has captured the desire of your heart, you’re going to invest in.  I love guitar and invest a lot of time, effort, and money into it.  I have a treasure there (I do have to guard it to keep it from becoming more important than Christ, Church, family, etc, so that it does not become idolatry.  Priorities you know).  What about my passion for Christ?  What have I invested?  The question begs to be asked, how do I come to have a passion for my Savior?  More than gratefulness, but that I want to invest my life into Jesus Christ.

Let me help you with that very quickly.

1st – Let Christ build that desire in you.  The Bible is where you get to know Christ and the primary source for building your relationship with him.  Live in the Gospels for a while.  A month, a year, several years.  Search out who Jesus is and how Jesus relates to you and is in your life.  As I’ve heard said from pulpits and Bible classrooms, “Fall in love with Jesus.”

2nd – Get to know Jesus through the lives of faithful Christians.  Listen to their testimonies, talk with them about their relationship with Christ and learn how it is applied in their lives.  You will probably pick up a dimension or two that you hadn’t figured until you see it lived out or hear about.  Also, read or listen to testimonies (here is one source for these types of testimonies; http://shareyourstorynow.org/).  Learn from others.  Maybe their fire (passion) for Christ will ignite yours.

3rd – Pray about it.  Ask God to fill you up with that passion.  It’s simple.  Ask in your words.  Talk to God believing and expecting, but don’t put any conditions on your request or develop the way you expect it to happen.  Let God do it.  God will answer and fulfill your request in his way, according to his time, and the way that is best.

4th – Begin to serve and follow and do the things of Christ.  Help the needy.  Go on a missions trip to serve the lost.  Be a servant in your church.  The possibilities are endless here.  Read Matthew 25:31-46 about the Sheep and the Goats, http://www.youversion.com/bible/asv/luke/2/1-10

Bye for now.  May the fire for Christ burn deep and long and hot in your life.  That is my prayer for all of us.

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