The Expression of New Birth through Baptism

Ok, we all know by now that the weather does not look real promising for a cookout on Sunday.  So, we are going to plan for rain….we just don’t want to get wet…unless, of course you are a part of the baptism.  Every week we continue to wait on God’s perfect plan for our relocation and it seems like every week we end up with just enough information for the following week.  I guess, God really meant it when He said not to worry and He will provide.

I must admit, I was blown away by last Sunday.  In my mind, I was thinking that we may be a little down in attendance since we have had no advertising, we were in a temporary location a few miles away from our previous location and of course there is road construction.  The fact that we had 196 is simply a testimony to God’s grace and your resilience.

This week we are going to have another UNIQUE opportunity for worship.  We are planning to start our 10:45AM service with a baptism at 712 Central (see map below) and then we are changing plans for our cookout/service and will be heading to the Loose Park Shelter at 5200 Wornall Road.  We will have printed maps for everyone at the Baptism.

So, why do we go through all the “hassle” to allow believers to express their decision to follow Christ through baptism?  Expression is a word that denotes an incredible amount of meaning and leaves much room for interpretation.  Expression is something that can be seen on someone’s face by a smile, frown, laugh or tear. Expression can also be interpreted on our face as condescension, disappointment, contentment or anticipation.

Far beyond the facial expressions available for all to see is something often called self-expression.  The other day, both girls were in a foul mood and Leigh-Ann and I were not far behind.  Instead of wearing a sign that says, “Beware of my foul mood” we all began to express our “grumpiness” with sarcasm and stubbornness.

Since I am on the topic of expression, I will ask a question that has been bugging me, “What is the motivation behind self-expression?”  Why do some people decide to express themselves with multiple piercings or tattoos while others express themselves eloquently in conversation?  Is there a right and a wrong way to express yourself and if so, who makes the rules?  The answers to the questions on expression will depend on your beliefs in regard to the supernatural.

For a Christian, meaning in life is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  This “New Birth” is expressed to others by baptism. On the surface it may seem a little strange to ask adults to participate in a “formal dunking.”  Baptism is a rite that was started by Jesus Christ at the very beginning of His earthly ministry.  In Matthew 3:13-17 we read that Jesus made the 40 mile journey from Galilee to the Jordan to be immersed in the river.

Why would Jesus choose to be immersed in water?  The answer is in the text, “To fulfill the righteous plan of His Father.”  Jesus expressed His obedience to the Father by having John the Baptist dip Him under the water.  This expression was a picture of the coming death and subsequent resurrection that Jesus would voluntarily experience.

According to Scripture passages such as Romans 6:4 and Colossians 2:12 baptism pictures the death of Jesus when one goes under the water and the resurrection of Jesus when one comes up out of the water.  In its simplest form, baptism is an expression of the New Birth that can be experienced by all who ask forgiveness for their sins and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ by faith.

As a body, we get to watch several new believers express their faith.  We have a day planned that you will not want to miss and you will certainly not forget.

In Him!

Troy

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Snow storms and the Best of life (1 Corinthians 15)

I am looking out the window, the sky is cloudy with some scattered raindrops.  I have not seen the forecast, however already this morning several different people have mentioned the HUGE STORM coming in.

Since I grew up in Minnesota, I have a deep appreciation for a good snow storm.  There is something absolutely wonderful about several inches of snow changing the way we look at life for the next 24-48 hours.  I break the snowstorm down into three distinct events:

Event 1: Preparation for snow – This is when everyone begins to talk about the coming snow storm.  People are buzzing around and the stores are busy selling shovels, salt and sleds.  The first words to roll off of peoples tongues have to do with the coming snow storm.  The kiddos have rising expectations of cancelled school, late nights drinking hot chocolate and eating popcorn.

Event: 2 The snow – It usually starts with the weather turning colder and the snowflakes picking up momentum.  The roads fill up, get slippery and people start to complain.  The whining starts with a focus on every other inept driver except us, then it transitions to the city and the poor conditions of the roads.  I can usually gauge the turning point of the storm when someone asks where all our tax money is going if our street is not plowed.   Finally, the storm would not be complete without us wishing for spring to come.

Event: 3 The post-snow activities – If you are neighborly, you will clear your sidewalks and driveway.  This is usually fun for a few minutes until the back starts hurting.  If you have kids it is only a matter of time until they break you down and convince you to take them out sledding.  I actually love sledding and building snow forts.

One time when I was in college my brothers and several friends built a snow fort with seven rooms.  We spent hours digging out a humongous snow pile in the parking lot of a nursing home.  Although it took several days we absolutely loved the process of digging and planning and dreaming of our big fort.  When we finished we didn’t know what to do with a seven room snow fort, the excitement had come from the process of building.

Often, I have reflected on this experience.  I remember the empty feeling when we were finished with the process of building and how quickly we became bored when we tried to “hang out” at the fort.  In my estimation, this illustrates what happens in life when we attempt to stop and enjoy this life.  As Christians, the Bible makes it clear that we are citizens of another kingdom.

It is for this reason that we will become frustrated with life when we try to enjoy something that was never meant to be enjoyed.  I recently read a chapter in a book entitled, “Your best life later.”  This is in opposition to some popular teaching today, however in my estimation it is right.

Here’s the point: Whether our life is full of sunshine, rain or snow, we should remember that we were made for the journey, our time for rest is coming in another Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God made possible by the resurrection of Jesus.  This Sunday, we get to look at 1 Corinthians 15 which is the classic chapter on the Resurrection as we prepare for Easter.  I hope you will be able to join in the worship.  If you are unable to come, you can always listen online: http://www.newlifekc.org/resources/deploy/.

Loving the Journey-even in the snow!

Troy

Old Maid, and other Situations beyond our Control (John 17)

The other night we decided to sit down for a game of “Old Maid.”  If you haven’t played this in awhile, I highly recommend it.  The first game, I started with the “Old Maid.”  My strategy is simple, track the cards that the other player chooses and then hopefully predict the best location for the “Old Maid.”  After several unsuccessful turns to lose the “Old Maid” card, I began to get frustrated.  Not quite to the point where I was willing to cheat with my 3 and 6 year old, however, I am still convinced that someone rigged the game since the “Old Maid” was passed over every time.

I actually began and ended the first game with the “Old Maid” in hand.  How could I be such a loser?  The three girls seemed to have their own explanation for this.  The next game, I did not start with the “Old Maid” so I figured that I had a better chance.  After a few turns it was passed from Leigh-Ann to Alexa and then to Sophia.  I noticed the “Old Maid” immediately….probably because it was two inches higher than all the other cards.  After looking at Sophia’s face, I knew I had to pick it, so I did with the hopes that Leigh-Ann would take it from me and I would not lose again.

I did everything I could to mix up the cards.  I shuffled them behind my back and every turn Leigh-Ann was able to dodge the card.  This would not be so bad except I seem to lose every game and I am getting sick of losing.  My streak reaches far back beyond the game a few nights ago.  I “The Loser” held the “Old Maid” card for the rest of the game.  This was especially painful, since Leigh-Ann and I can get pretty competitive.  How is it even possible for me to lose so often when I have a well thought out strategy and I am flawless in my execution.

Upon further thought, I have discovered that life is often very similar to the game of “Old Maid.”  We are given individual situations beyond our control.  At times in our lives we can do our best and still end up with a lose-lose scenario.  There are parts of our lives over which we have no control.  There are some times that we look back and it seems like no matter how hard we try, we still cannot win.  Fortunately, in the game of life, unlike “Old Maid”, we are given the promise that no matter how difficult our circumstances may become, we can have perfect peace because Jesus has overcome the world.

With this thought of victory in mind, we move on to John 17 for the sermon this week.  This passage reveals the heart of Jesus following His three year ministry with the disciples and preceding His death and resurrection.  We have a worship service planned that will communicate all that was on the heart of Jesus on that fateful night.

Have a blessed day!

Troy

A Church not Defined by its Building

Yesterday I received the following e-mail from a fellow New Lifer….. “Heard you were swamped this week so take a quick break….as we were all leaving our Bible study last night, somehow the elevator went up instead of down.  A man in a black leather jacket asked if we were going down and we said yes.  We were jabbering all the way down and when the door opened this man held the door for all of us and followed us out.  As we went out the door he looks at my Bible and asks if it is a Thompson Chain.  Everyone else kept going, and I said what?  He asked again and I told him it was and that it was pretty cool and showed it to him.  He proceeded to tell me his name and that he was from Florida.  He and his wife were in town because she was seeking a job with the city.  He was a backslidden saved Christian and his wife is an unsaved person from Turkey.  He told me he really missed the fellowship of a church and said he had been praying that God would help him get back on track.  He kept telling me all his vices and I just told him to confess them and God would forgive him.  He really wants his wife to be saved.  I asked him if I could pray for him and he said sure.  I looked him straight in the eye and prayed and he kept eye contact for quite awhile and then closed them.  I left him there.  Now that was a blessing to me, I don’t care what anybody says.  Pray for him and his family and so will I.  Now get back to work.  Love ya brother.”

I have been thinking about our church body and the fact that we are not defined by a building.  I have heard more stories about what God is doing in many different locations on Wednesday nights.  I struggle sharing stories because it seems that each of us have incredible things that God is teaching/revealing to us and so nearly every story I could share would be read by the person the story is about.  For this reason we have opened up a blog section on our website for you to share your own stories online for mutual growth.  If you are interested in writing a blog just reply and let me know.  If you want to take a peak at what God is doing in the lives of other New Lifers you can go to our website under the Resources page: http://www.newlifekc.org/blogs.html.

This whole relocation thing is kind of like an adventure and I hope you can join in the excitement!  This week we will take a closer look at the 2nd half of John 16.  If you have missed a few weeks you can catch the past weeks messages that are posted on the website at http://www.newlifekc.org/resources/deploy/.

Keeping my eyes on the Son!

Troy