Thursday, August 30, 2007


Back from Africa...

Just returned last week from Malawi. Great trip. over 250 preachers, elders, deacons and their wives spent two days in leadership training. Over 300 teenagers came to a youth rally and over 1500 showed up for an evangelistic event. And most of them walked, some up to two hours each way. Sure makes it hard to complain about traffic.

Our luggage showed up five days after we did. Being an experienced traveler, I had carried an extra pair of boxers in my carry-on. So it was wear one, wash one for almost one week. And the wardrobe selection was pretty easy. Janis Joplin was right: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose..."

I didn't worry about what to wear, I didn't have options. Life was simpler, easier, and I did survive. Maybe less is more.

The other thing that really struck me during the training were the questions. They are the same ones I get when I do leadership training in the States. The topics resonated just as much in Malawi as they do in Texas: how to guard against sin in our personal lives, how to restore fallen leaders, how to confront sin among the flock, and how to get along when we disagree over various doctrinal issues. The sin issues were much the same: sex, greed, alcohol, pride., and gossip. Same things we face here. The doctrinal issues were amazingly similar also: disputes over how to worship and how you handle disagreements, including what to do when another church or preacher condemns something your congregation allows. Glad we don't have that problem in the States. :)

So I was reminded that people all over the world are the same, we face the same struggles, and the church everywhere deals with the same issues. And the answer to all our problems and issues remain the same: Jesus and his death, burial, and resurrection.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Children and Baptism...

Some of you posted a comment, some of you said something to me, and some of us have had this discussion. How do you as a parent, or family friend, or minister/elder, or Bible class teacher handle the "I want to be baptized" question? I am not sure I have all the answers, but I can share some ideas that have been helpful to us and to others when wrestling with this question.

Use public baptisms as teaching moments. Explain to your children what is happening. Ask God for wisdom and try to be age appropriate.

Observe your child in worship. If they cannot sit thru a worship service or still want to go to children's church, they may not be ready.

Ask them to pray about it, and to pray with you about it. Ask them to study with you about this decision. If they are not ready to study about it, they are not ready.

Feel free to ask advice from those who have gone thru this, and especially if you like the faith you see in their children.

Make them verbalize to you, or write down, why they want to do this. It will help clarify thinking now and be useful later when they wonder if they knew what they were doing.

Try talking them out of it. If you can, they may not be ready. The time will come when you cannot. I still remember asking my son what he would do if I wouldn't baptize him. When he said, "I guess I'd get someone else to do it", I knew he was ready.

Denise brought up a good point in her comment about the fear of saying no and they never bring it up again. I would submit that as a good reason they were not ready. If they never bring it up again, they probably were not serious the first time.

Finally, if you think they are too young to talk about death and resurrection, or you don't want to explain the body and blood of Jesus during the Lord's Supper, they are probably too young.

Watching your children be born again is an incredible experience. Seeing them claim the promises of God and accept his grace for themselves will be the greatest thing you ever witness. For all of my kid's accomplishments, there is nothing that compares with seeing them die and be raised to new life.

In fact, I would say that is the greatest validation of your success as a parent. And it may be the closest I will ever come to reflecting the love of my Father: to see my children become my brother and sister.

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