Thursday, February 26, 2009

109 Baptized in less than 24 hours...

By Mark Edlund
Colorado Baptists Executive Director

On Monday morning (February 23rd) I received a phone call from Charlie Jones, pastor of Fellowship of the Rockies (FOR) in Pueblo. He started the conversation by saying, “Mark, you need to sit down.” I had no idea what was coming – had there been a tragedy? So I said, “I’m sitting.” Charlie then said, “We baptized 109 people this weekend! 89 adults and 20 youth.” As I caught my breath, I asked him to tell me what happened. Charlie said he had become more and more frustrated with people (especially those out of the Catholic background so prominent in Pueblo) becoming believers but refusing to be baptized for fear of family or community reaction. Being bothered, he decided to preach a special sermon in all three of FOR’s weekend worship services beginning Saturday night. He preached on the mandate and meaning of baptism. He emphasized that baptism was not optional for the true believer – that it publicly marked the believer as a follower of Christ. He was rather blunt – if you are truly a follower of Christ, you will follow Him also in baptism. Charlie ended the service by saying that the baptistery was full and ready and any believer that had not yet been baptized was invited to the front after the service and Charlie or the other staff would baptize them.
There was immediate response. Many came forward. Many crying and celebrating. Many came as families. Charlie said, “It was simply a Holy Spirit thing.” A couple of the families from the Catholic background left Saturday night and then showed up at the first Sunday morning service with other family members they had led to the Lord and who were ready to be baptized. Charlie said that it was beautiful chaos. They had people running back and forth to the Laundromat to wash and dry towels and baptism robes. Staff and other church leaders counseled all to make sure that legitimate and fully informed decisions had been made. It was a miracle. And now the task of discipleship begins. Praise the Lord. He is a God of miracles.

By Mark Edlund
Colorado Baptists Executive Director

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Spiritual Stimulus Plan - Part 1: "Submission"

Our federal government has just enacted an economic stimulus package designed to reverse our economies recessionary tendencies. Whether it will work or not is yet to be seen. Truth is--the humans in charge are guessing.

Our church (made up of humans) is also in need of a stimulus package to curb the tendency that we have to recess in our faith rather than progressing. Acts 16 records the beginnning of Paul's second missionary journey. The text reveals at least six unique motivators that prompted Paul to progress in his ministry as he traveled along his missionary journey. I believe that these same six motivators, applied to our modern lives and our gathered churches will produce the types of results that Paul experienced. The humans in charge need not guess--God has provided a "Spiritual Stimulus Plan".

Part One of the Stimulus Plan is a difficult motivator for us: "submission".

The first five verses of Acts 16 describes an amazing act of submission. Timothy, whose Father is Greek and whose mother is a believing Jew, submits to circumcision even though his new ministry with Paul centers on distributing a letter from the Jerusalem elders stating that the Gentile believers do not need to undergo circumcision. Verse 3 says that he was circumcised, "because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek". He was circumcised out of deference to the Jews. He submitted to their religious rule at great personal cost in order to be more effective among them.

The word "submit" comes from two Greek words meaning, "under" and "to arrange". It's a military term that is also used to describe the behavior of a slave to his master. To submit is to, "be ready to renounce one's own will for the sake of others". In its clearest light, a submissive person has simply given up the right to be in charge. They have voluntarily come under someone else's arrangement. Timothy voluntarily came under the Jewish arrangement of circumcision for their ultimate benefit. Effective influence from a respected place of submission had a high cost for Timothy.

The Bible identifies six relationships where submission is applicable for us:
  1. Submit to God (James 4:6-7).
  2. Submit to Government (Romans 13:1).
  3. Submit to Spiritual Leaders (Hebrews 13:17).
  4. Submit to One Another (Ephesians 5:21).
  5. Submit to Employers (1 Peter 2:18).
  6. Submit to Husbands (Ephesians 5:22-33).
With the exception of the first in the list, each of these submissions is to someone or something that is not necessarily deserving of our submission. Submission will often require us to be big enough to submit to someone smaller. Of course, I am not talking about potentially abusive situations. In those cases--safety must be a priority. A worker should not submit to work in an unsafe work environment. A Christian should not submit to a tyrannical government's request to deny God. A wife should not submit to become her husband's punching bag.

Notice the result of God's Spiritual Plan: "So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily" (Acts 16:5). "Submission" is just the first part...but it is the first part! Churches will be strengthened, families will be strengthened, communities and work places will be strengthened as we apply God's Spiritual Stimulus Plan.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Giving Thanks for "not enough"...

I often reserve my times of thanksgiving for those times when God has come through for me in a big way. Like everyone else, I am thankful when the Father rescues me from my unpleasant circumstances. Jesus gave thanks a little bit differently. Notice Matthew 15:36, "Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, broke them into pieces, and gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd." Did you see it? Jesus had 5000+ people sitting on the lawn waiting for lunch. His lunch consisted of seven loaves of bread and two fish--hardly enough for 5000! Get this: He "thanked God for them". He was thankful for not enough. He was grateful in has lack. Then he took the "not enough" and acted as if it was enough. He distributed the food through his disciples. So the next time, I don't have enough, may I express my thanks to God for my "not enough" and then act as if it was enough. That's what Jesus did...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Church Planting Hero...

I have a new post up at sbcIMPACT! today. Let me invite you to scoot on over and take a look. You can get there here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Just a proud dad post tonight. We just returned from a narrow 47-46 win over rival Walt Clark Middle School in Loveland. The boys have one more dual to go next week and then their conference play will be finished. Tonight was a big hurdle towards finishing undefeated for the second year in a row. Several tournaments will dot the landscape over the next month or so leading up to the state championship which our boys brought home to Windsor last year. Everyone is hoping for a repeat. By the way, it is rumored that this is the first loss that Walt Clark has sustained in their home gym. Zach brutally pinned his opponent in the first period.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Living Beyond the Rules...

I just finished a five-part series on "Grace" taken from Acts 15. I thought I would go ahead and post the final message even though you have not had the benefit of the first five. The series was entitled, "Living Beyond the Rules". The title comes from Matthew 12:1-14 where Jesus' disciples broke the rules by harvesting grain on the Sabbath. Jesus then went one step farther by healing a lame man on the Sabbath. The message is clear: people matter! Rules are secondary.

Acts 15:36-41 describes a disagreement that arose between Barnabas and Paul over whether or not John Mark should join them on a second missionary journey. It seems that John Mark had abandoned the party and returned home prematurely perhaps leaving the group short-handed. Paul was not quite willing to let it go while Barnabas was enthusiastic about giving John Mark another opporunity. The result was division--Barnabas and Mark headed out on their own while Paul recruited Silas to join him.

The scripture gives us a pretty good look into John Mark's life:

  • Acts 12:12 - Peter is miraculously released from prison and goes to John Mark's home where a prayer meeting is in session.
  • Acts 12:25 - Paul & Barnabas bring John Mark with them when they return fom delivering an offering to the Jerusalem church.
  • Acts 13:5 - John Mark joins Paul & Barnabas on their first missionary journey.
  • Acts 13:13 - John Mark abandons the group in Paphos and returns home.
  • Colossians 4:10 - John Mark is actually Barnabas' cousin.
  • 1 Peter 5:3 - John Mark is one of Peter's disciples.
Paul eventually shows grace to John Mark when he asks for him to join him in prison (1 Timothy 4:11). Philemon 24 reveals that John Mark is with Paul. Of course, Mark becomes one of the gospel writers with a New Testament book bearing his name.

So here's the question: "Do you ever give up on people? Do you ever throw people away?"

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 declares that God has given us a "ministry of reconciliation". We are not to hold the sins of people against them but rather like Christ we are to be ambassadors in bringing the world back to God. Note these verses and meditate on them in terms of how you should respond to those that you may feel like giving up on.

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us te ministry of reoncciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has commmitted to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us, we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

For maximum impact, go back and read through the passage again changing the personal pronouns to real names. For example, "Therefore if 'John Mark' is in Christ, 'John Mark' is a new creature..." Use the text as a prayer for the salvation of those that you have been tempted to give up on. Tomorrow I will post an amazing video that I used on Sunday to illustrate this concept of exercising grace.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"Imagine Me" by Kirk Franklin

I can really connect with Kirk Franklin's music. This video expresses hope for all of us who have been abused.