Monthly Archives: May 2008

Fight for it!

Over the last month, as Ephesus starts to get some legs, I keep getting faced with the need to fight for the vision you have. It’s a story throughout the bible, Nehemiah, Paul, David, Joshua all had to fight for what they knew they were called to. Now Ephesus is going well, I’m happy with the foundation that is being laid, but there’s still days when it’s tough, and I’m reminded that I have to fight. Just because God birthed it, doesn’t mean it comes with no effort or struggle. I’m watching the Rookie right now about Jimmy Morris’ trip to the Majors as a supposed wash-up. Recently I was enthralled by a documentary of John Lassetter’s struggles to get Pixar off the ground. He had a vision, it was HARD, but he fought for the vision. We live in a culture of disposability and convenience. The true success stories are not the lottery winners, it’s the one’s who persevered and fought for what they believed in. Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem had to wear swords as they rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem, they were committed to the mission, but also ready for anything! Our challenge is to continually fight for what God has called us to.

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Fun with Mark Driscoll…

Thanks to David H. and the fun of Twitter for pointing me to this!

Let’s Talk about Ephesians

This past Sunday we started a new series on the book of Ephesians, “Ephesians-Pocket Guide to Christianity.” You can download the podcast here (don’t you love the shameless links!) I challenged all the folks at Ephesus to read through the entire book of Ephesians each week during this series. It’s only 6 chapters long, so not too much over the course of a week. I read it all yesterday in about 45 minutes and that was with me digging into commentaries and concordances the whole way through. To further encourage everyone to dive into Ephesians I wanted to start an ongoing conversation here about what God is revealing to people as they take the challenge and read through Ephesians. For now I want to leave it open ended and allow you to direct the conversation. I could do the whole pastor thing and offer my insights here and ask you to discuss, but 1) that’s no fun and 2) you’ll hear what I think on Sundays or online. Also, I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’ll be excited to see just a post or two. So right now the floor is open! What’s God speaking to you in Ephesians right now?


Water Baptism

This past week at Ephesus, I finished up our series on “What is the Church.” I had originally intended to take some time on a Sunday and preach about the ordinance of water baptism, but did not have the opportunity to dig in. I said I would put more info on the blog, so here it is…

Water baptism is the second ordinance prescribed by Jesus to be regularly practiced by the church and Christ-followers. The other is the Lord’s Supper which we looked at in part 4 of “What is the Church.” First and foremost, Jesus modeled full immersion baptism by John the Baptist in Matthew 3. John’s baptism was a sign of full repentance of sin before God. Something that happens between the individual and God, when the individual comes to a full complete acknowledgment of our innate sinfulness, accepts the forgiveness only available through Jesus’ death on the cross and desires for those around him or her to know the change that has happened. Jesus directs us in Matthew 28.19-20 to baptize and we then see it carried out throughout the book of Acts as the early church was getting it’s start. Therefore, because it was exemplified in Jesus, declared by Jesus, and lived out in the life of the early church, we continue to practice it today. At Ephesus, we conduct baptism through the full immersion in water of the individual. This is due to the examples we see in the bible and the original Greek word from which baptism is derived being defined as placing someone fully in water. It’s that simple. Baptism takes on several forms of symbolism as does the Lord’s Supper. I’ll examine a few.

  1. Forgiveness of sins-water is naturally seen as a cleansing agent, we bathe in it, wash dishes in, clean off dead bugs from our windshield with it. So as we are outwardly expressing our cleansing of sin through Jesus, it makes sense that water would physically symbolize a spiritual house-cleaning
  2. Regeneration-Water brings life and baptism again symbolizes this. Jesus told Nicodemus one must be “born of water and spirit” in John 3.
  3. Resurrection-Traditionally, when baptized one goes down into the water (careful to hold the nose for obvious reasons!) and comes up again. This symbolizes our connection with the resurrection of Jesus and is spoken of by Paul in Romans 6 and Colossians 2.
  4. Unity of the church-Baptism is (at least it should be) a common experience for Christians, a sort-of “rite of passage” that is a jointly shared experience in several ways. First, we all, as followers of Jesus, have most likely been baptized at some point and see it as a shared milestone in our growth. Secondly, baptism is designed to be a public event where a shared joy and excitement occurs between friends and family. In these things we are further unified as the body of Christ.
  5. Commitment to God-Baptism on a certain level also holds a degree of accountability. You have publicly declared your acceptance of Jesus’ death on the cross and folks around you now have no doubt about where you stand. You now have no excuse when you flip someone off in traffic for cutting you off and then being right next to you at the next light anyway…not that I’m bitter.

Water baptism is a powerful, personal experience as you seal in your own life what God is doing in you. It’s also a powerful public experience that allows Christians to celebrate with you  and others around you to get a glimpse of what is happening in your life. I look forward to many opportunities to get wet with the folks of Ephesus as we journey together loving Jesus, loving people and loving the city!