Friday, June 25, 2010
On June 24, 2010 Linda Grace Morris was splashing with her Daddy in her little pool. She has, for some time, been asking to be baptized. This is how it went.
Like the Ethiopian eunuch, she heard the gospel, understood that she is a sinner in need of a Savior and that Jesus Christ is THE ONLY Savior. She has asked for God's forgiveness and that her crimes be applied to her punished Savior Who took them upon Himself at the Cross of Calvary. This happened a couple of years ago.
Now, she is five. She listens to the Bible stories we read to her every night. She has heard the passage in Acts 8:26-40 (read it, you'll be glad you did). Verses 36-38 reads, "Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" "Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So, he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he baptized him."
Now, I was inside making up two Chicken Pies and heard Rod calling, "Jenn, Gracie wants to be baptized." "I know," I said, "she has for some time." Rod smiled at her and said, "Today's the day!" I ran to get Rachel's camera and began snapping the photos.
Sweet Rachel uploaded the beautiful pictures to her facebook page and then the comments started coming. You would think that everyone would rejoice with us, right? Yeah, right. Some "friend" of Rachel's (an adult acquaintance of hers who is actually a friend of another adult relative of hers) posed a series of questions regarding Gracie's front yard splash pool baptism. The woman's final comment was "seems pretty non-religious". Good. I hope so.
Religion is what the Pharisees practiced and is what REALLY hacked Jesus off. If you read your Bible and ask the Lord to reveal it to you, He will...really He will.
God ties it all together. Here's what happened this morning...Gracie ambled in to my bed where I was doing my Bible study and sleepily demanded, "Read it to me out loud, Mama." So, I read Psalm 73 and then Psalm 63 and then I moved into Mark chapter 4. Twice in this chapter alone Jesus says, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
"What does Jesus mean, Mama?" I held her sweet, soft hand. "He means that if you have a heart to yearn for and understand Him, then listen and understand His teachings." She settled in and listened to the rest until she realized she could go out into the kitchen and interrupt Daddy's Bible study next. She pulled "Doggie-Same-Color-As-My-Hair" up under her arm and stood in the doorway. "Thank you for readin' it to me." I smiled at her sweetness, "Thank you for listening."
I turned the page and this passage caught my eye. It was exactly what happened on facebook yesterday.
"In vain (fruitlessly and without profit) do they worship Me, ordering and teaching (to be obeyed) as doctrines the commandments and precepts of men. You disregard and give up and ask to depart from you the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men (keeping carefully and faithfully)." And He said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting (thus thwarting and nullifying and doing away with) the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition (your own human regulations)!" Mark 7:7-9 AMP
Comments coming from someone who "practices" Catholicism and favors the traditions of that religion over the simple truths of the gospel are in danger of missing the mark. And, please don't get me wrong, I'm not lumping ALL Catholics together in one pile. No one belongs lumped into a pile because of one or two people who have their hearts and minds and mouths in the wrong place. And it's not just certain Catholics, but anyone who "believes and practices a lie". (I'm thinking of those hideous people who absolutely blaspheme the Name of Christ by calling themselves Christians and standing around waving signs that falsely claim that "God hates fags". I want to personally scourge the devil out of them myself. But, he is the orchestrator of all that is false. If only the masses who don't know God would look beyond these yo-yos and know without a doubt, THEY do not represent GOD at all! And by the beautiful drawing power of the HOLY SPIRIT, they will. Amen.)
When Jesus calls out, "he who has ears to hear, let him hear!" He is encouraging ANYONE to come to Him and give up the empty ways of man. Man can never save us. Man's ways are like the shell the cicada leaves behind. It's interesting, it looks like the real thing but in reality it is the dead leavings of the living creature. Man's ways are dead ways. (I'm gonna hop up higher on my soapbox and open a can of worms now.)
This is like Santa Claus. This is why we don't "do Santa". Satan has devised a way to take what a kind-hearted, generous man who lived (and died) a long time ago did to distract the whole world AWAY from the CHRIST of CHRISTMAS. He is a big red distraction. Nothing more. Well, maybe one thing more and this is is equally as disturbing. Here's the thing: If we really are Christians (in more than just name) and we really do want to be devoted to our Savior and we want to "teach our children the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it"...then why take the terrible chance and LIE to them about Santa's reality and then at the same time teach them that JESUS is real, as well?
Every child eventually learns the truth about Santa...MOM AND DAD LIED TO ME! And then, shouldn't they wonder...."If Santa isn't alive and well, then what about that JESUS you're telling me about?" Duh. When we lie to our kids we teach our kids that we are liars. We teach them that lying about certain things is okay because "it's tradition". Ooops. Jesus said He didn't want us to trade the commandment of God for the tradition of men. Jesus proclaimed Himself to be "the way, the TRUTH, and the life and that no man comes to the FATHER except through Him." I want to KEEP THE TRUTH and ditch the lies. We don't do Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy or Halloween because they are the traditions of men and breed a lying mama and daddy. I want my kids to be followers of what is true and what is real, not for my sake but for theirs.
I got saved (made my own profession of faith in Jesus Christ) only because God removed the blinders from my spiritual eyes and allowed me to finally understand the truth of the cross and that it's there for me. This happened seven short years ago. That girl I was before I got saved loved the lies! I celebrated all the lies available to man: God winks at sin. Santa is the King of Christmas. The Tooth Fairy is rich. And next to my birthday and Christmas (not because of Jesus but because of the presents and time off from work), Halloween was the greatest holiday of all. (Think of it...all of your life your parents told you not to take candy from strangers. Then, one "magical" night every year it is your American duty to dress up as a stranger and go knocking on every stranger's door in your neighborhood begging for their candy.) My desire and devotion to chocolate helped me admire this fantastic tradition of men almost above all the others.
Enter Jesus and His bloody head, hands, feet and oozing side. He stretched out a bloody, holey hand to me and begged me, "Come, you who labor and are heavy laden (with all your despicable sins) and I will give you rest." I dared to look up. I believed He was Who He said He was. I believed Him. I took a step of faith and grasped His gentle hand. I opened my Bible and read it every day. I prayed and asked Him to reveal His word to me. He did. I grew into someone I never, ever in my wildest imagination thought I could become. His shed blood made me righteous because His word taught me that "all my righteousness is as filthy rags." And that doesn't change after you get saved, either. Your good works and mine are STILL filthy rags without the righteous heart of Jesus Christ as your motivator. Any good thing I do outside the Holy Spirit-led desire to see God glorified is worthless...like that dead cicada shell.
God, I yearn for more of You right now. I yearn for You to be glorified in all I say, think and do. I thank You, LORD JESUS, that You died in my place. I thank You, Father God, for loving me so much that You'd rather have Your Holy and Sinless Son murdered than live in Paradise without me. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for teaching me the Words of Life and giving me the grace and strength to understand and obey what I read. Thank You, Jesus for reminding me that when I do sin to come and confess my sins because You are faithful and just both to forgive me and cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness. Thank You, LORD that all is ALL. I praise YOU! I need YOU, I want YOU and I love YOU!