Do It Yourself Baptisms and Bringing it All Together - Purity 953
Purity 953 01/28/2023 Purity 953 Podcast
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Today’s photo of a red nosed kayak gliding along the surface of what I suspect to be Lake George comes to us from a FB friend who shared this scene from a paddling session on social media on August 20th 2020. I have a few FB friends that paddle so the suspects are limited but as of this morning the photographer’s identity remains a mystery. So if this is your “memory” and want to be identified speak up and I will update the blog after the fact to give you the credit for sharing this tranquil scene that fills me with joy and keeps me looking ahead to the spring and summer.
Well, it’s the last Saturday in January, rejoice, and I guess I have to admit it – I prefer the months of the year where winter is a distant memory. Whether it’s the first green of spring, the thriving life of summer, or even the fading colors of autumn, I prefer them all to the cold harsh barren landscapes of winter. Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the beauty that can be seen after freshly fallen snow or the silent stillness that is unique to winter but during a morning meditation exercise where I was directed to think of “My Eden” visions of a winter landscape did not come to mind.
The meditation exercise which is part of the “30 Days to Resilient” program on the One Minute App calls you to think of the places you like to go on vacation, the places in nature that you appreciate, indicating that the joy found from contemplating your favorite places resonates with us all as the desire for paradise lost. Our joy we experience whe n we contemplate the different places we enjoy on earth supposedly is deep in our souls because we are longing to be restored to Eden.
During my meditation, I thought of various beaches in upstate NY, hiking trails, the beaches I knew as a child on Cape Cod, Pike’s Peak in Colorado, beaches and parks in Florida, and views from a trip to Big Island of Kona in Hawaii. But when the meditation directed me to ask Jesus to reveal – “the Eden He was making for me” I was a little shocked to realize I was brought back to a memory from my past of my backyard when I lived on Oak Hill Road in Claverack, just a couple of miles outside of the village of Philmont, where my spiritual journey with the Lord had begun.
My backyard on Oak Hill Road was a clear open space that featured an above ground swimming pool with a big clear view of the sky above with all the trees typical of upstate New York on the boarders of the property. I spent many summers in that pool looking up to the sky with my children through the years there and when directed to be brought to “Eden” I was taken there.
It was at Oak Hill Road that the biggest tragedy of my life happened. My son, Holden died there. But because of that tragedy, my search for the meaning of life began there too. In the wake of that loss in 2002, I was lost in a few years of depression and going through the motions of living when I eventually started asking the “big questions” or at least started looking to answer them. I was too damaged from the trauma of the loss to turn back to Christianity and so started examining life on a base level of scientific speculation accompanied with the theories posited by Buddhism and so I really started looking at life with an inquiring mind. Easernt mysticism just keeps you looking at what is and invites you to see the realities of impermanence and interconnectedness, to investigate the mysteries of creation – all the while never pondering the Creator. I spent years rejoicing over of the mysteries of how things come into being and fall apart and how with focus attention you could find peace in the present moment. Although I am sure I probably thought my contemplations of the universe and ‘how things really are” were deep the truth is when you only focus your attention of the universe and life on earth without including God, its like you are examining the bark on a tree and become very familiar with all the contours and grooves of the bark on the tree but you are failing to notice that you are standing in a forest of trees and there is a great big sky over head and the reaches of outer space and all the expanses of the galaxies and universe beyond. Without including God, and the person of Jesus Christ in your contemplations, you can’t see the forest for the trees, your view of life is incomplete and you are lost in the woods.
But hey man, I was digging the bark on the tree, I was just loving it and probably would have stayed lost in the forest of the contemplation of the universe, the passing of my breath, and my own “wisdom” forever because due to my pain, I didn’t want to think about God. I decided that there wasn’t a God, life was just a mystery and I was destined to die and become “One with the Universe” and possibly be “born again” through some magical reincarnation. I decided that Christianity was just a myth created by men to control others. I decided it wasn’t real. I never counted on a personal God who would call me on it!
But that is what happened, through a radio message in 2010 the Lord revealed the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and having been shown the forest, the sky, and the Creator God above it all who loved us enough to come to earth and to die for us to save us, I put my faith in Jesus immediately. And the journey of my life has been a wild one of progressive “goodness” ever since.
So why did Jesus bring me back to Oak Hill Road during this morning’s meditation? Why would He bring me back to the place where I spent ends hours rejoicing over the universe and mystery of life irrespective of Him? Why would He bring me back to the place of my largest loss?
I think He brought me back there because it was while I was living Oak Hill Road that I surrendered my life to Him. I was saved in a parking lot on Aviation Road Albany on a Friday in March but I eventually went home to Oak Hill Road with my “born again” faith in Jesus.
Those were obviously confusing days back in 2010, having been a full fledged practicing Buddhist of the Kaygu Mahamudra Tibetan tradition for 5 years or so I had to figure out how to be a “born again” Christian!
My last Christian experience was in an Episcopal Church but my congregation was ultra-liberal and I knew that rejoining my previous church that had homosexual reverends was not the way to go if I wanted to follow the Bible which I been reading in earnest. Sorry, while we are all forgiven of our sins when we come to Christ – no matter what they are – we are also called to repent of them. I didn’t go to the church that featured reverends that were into adultery, murder, or theft either, no matter how nice that professed to be…
I eventually found a Bible believing church where I learned to be authentic in my Christian faith, to live according to the word of God, but in those early days of my “born again” Christianity I was just trying to figure it out.
Having read the Bible, I knew that baptism was an important part of being a Christian and it was some time in the summer of 2010 that I decided to “baptize” myself! Taking the Book of Common Prayer, that I had from my Episcopal “classes” before my confirmation, one summer day I read the prayers for the rite of baptism and immersed myself in my swimming pool, baptizing myself before the Lord to demonstrate to God that I was serious about my new found faith.
I sort of forgot about this little episode in my life. I was actually later baptized by members of Hillsong Church while on a work assignment in in NYC during the spring of 2013 ,on the day of the Boston bombings, and point to that day as the day of “my baptism”. I had more or less forgotten all about the “dunking” and baptizing myself back in 2010. I guess I wasn’t sure that it counted.
But God didn’t forget. I think I was brought back to Oak Hill Road in this mornings meditation session because that impromptu self-baptism counted with God. God took me back to a place where I enjoyed many summers in the splendor of His creation and it just happen to be the place where I did an outward expression of my inward faith even though there was no one there to see it. Jesus brought me back to “My Eden” – the place where I did a simple act of faith, without witnesses, that told God I was His.
So have you been baptized? Have you chosen to die with Christ and to be raised to life again? A lot of people who have been baptized as babies will tell that it doesn’t matter, but I believe it does. I believe that we can’t choose the new life that Christ has for us by proxy. I believe we all have to make a choice to die and live for Him.
So I invite you to seek the Lord and to make sense of the mystery of life by contemplating it all and bringing all together – the wonders of the universe, the Creator God who made it, and the person of Jesus Christ who came into it to tell us all of God’s love and to make a way to have peace with Him. Only when you knock down the four walls of the church and your limited understanding of life and the way things are and contemplate God and Jesus Christ, can you make sense of it all.
SO keep walking and talking with God and invite Him to show you your “Eden” and to be restored to the life that He has for you.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Psalm 40:2 (NLT2)
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
Today’s Bible verse reminds us how the Lord will save us and pull us out of the dirt of our darkness and depths of despair to give us a new life to walk into.
Today’s verse should speak to all of us who have come to faith in Jesus, when we realize just how lost we really were and how our faith caused us to repent and walk away from the dark ways of our past.
This is a rejoicing verse if there ever was one. So rejoice! God lifted us out of our muck and mire. He took us out of the pit of despair. And He has put us on the solid Rock of faith in Jesus and invites us to walk it out. So keep on walking and rejoicing over what God has done for you!
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God.”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Pink’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
By ARTHUR W. PINK
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN REPROBATION continues
Coming down to our own day, and to those in our own country—leaving out the almost unnumberable crowds of unevangelized heathen—is it not evident that there are many living in lands where the Gospel is preached, lands which are full of churches, who die strangers to God and His holiness? True, the means of grace were close to their hand, but many of them knew it not. Thousands are born into homes where they are taught from infancy to regard all Christians as hypocrites and preachers as arch-humbugs. Others, are instructed from the cradle in Roman Catholicism, and are trained to regard Evangelical Christianity as deadly heresy, and the Bible as a book highly dangerous for them to read. Others, reared in “Christian Science” families, know no more of the true Gospel of Christ than do the unevangelized heathen. The great majority of these die in utter ignorance of the Way of Peace. Now are we not obliged to conclude that it was not God’s will to communicate grace to them? Had His will been otherwise, would He not have actually communicated His grace to them? If, then, it was the will of God, in time, to refuse to them his grace, it must have been His will from all eternity, since His will is, as Himself, the same yesterday, and today and forever. Let it not be forgotten that God’s providences are but the manifestations of His decrees: what God does in time is only what He purposed in eternity—His own will being the alone cause of all His acts and works. Therefore from His actually leaving some men in final impenitency and unbelief we assuredly gather it was His everlasting determination so to do; and consequently that He reprobated some from before the foundation of the world.
In the Westminster Confession it is said, “God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably foreordain whatsoever comes to pass.” The late Mr. F. W. Grant—a most careful and cautious student and writer—commenting on these words said: “It is perfectly, divinely true, that God hath ordained for His own glory whatsoever comes to pass.” Now if these statements are true, is not the doctrine of Reprobation established by them? What, in human history, is the one thing which does come to pass every day? What, but that men and women die, pass out of this world into a hopeless eternity, an eternity of suffering and woe. If then God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass then He must have decreed that vast numbers of human beings should pass out of this world unsaved to suffer eternally in the Lake of Fire. Admitting the general premise, is not the specific conclusion inevitable?
In reply to the preceding paragraphs the reader may say, All this is simply reasoning, logical no doubt, but yet mere inferences. Very well, we will now point out that in addition to the above conclusions there are many passages in Holy Writ which are most clear and definite in their teaching on this solemn subject; passages which are too plain to be misunderstood and too strong to be evaded. The marvel is that so many good men have denied their undeniable affirmations.
“Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that He might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses” (Josh. 11:18–20). What could be plainer than this? Here was a large number of Canaanites whose hearts the Lord hardened, whom He had purposed to utterly destroy, to whom He showed “no favour.” Granted that they were wicked, immoral, idolatrous; were they any worse than the immoral, idolatrous cannibals of the South Sea Islands (and many other places), to whom God gave the Gospel through John G. Paton! Assuredly not. Then why did not Jehovah command Israel to teach the Canaanites His laws and instruct them concerning sacrifices to the true God? Plainly, because He had marked them out for destruction, and if so, that from all eternity.
“The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Prov. 16:4). That the Lord made all, perhaps every reader of this book will allow: that He made all for Himself is not so widely believed. That God made us, not for our own sakes, but for Himself; not for our own happines, but for His glory, is, nevertheless, repeatedly affirmed in Scripture—Rev. 4:11. But Prov. 16:4 goes even farther: it expressly declares that the Lord made the wicked for the Day of Evil: that was His design in giving them being. But why? Does not Rom. 9:17 tell us, “For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth!” God has made the wicked that, at the end, He may demonstrate “His power”—demonstrate it by showing what an easy matter it is for Him to subdue the stoutest rebel and to overthrow His mightiest enemy.
“And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23). In the previous chapter it has been shown that the words “know” and “foreknowledge” when applied to God in the Scriptures, have reference not simply to His prescience (i.e. His bare knowledge beforehand), but to His knowledge of approbation. When God said to Israel, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2), it is evident that He meant, “You only had I any favorable regard to.” When we read in Rom. 11:2 “God hath not cast away His people (Israel) whom He foreknew,” it is obvious that what was signified is, “God has not finally rejected that people whom He has chosen as the objects of His love—cf. Deut. 7:8. In the same way (and it is the only possible way) are we to understand Matt. 7:23. In the Day of Judgment the Lord will say unto many, “I never knew you.” Note, it is more than simply “I know you not.” His solemn declaration will be, “I never knew you”—you were never the objects of My approbation. Contrast this with “I know (love) My sheep, and am known (loved) of Mine” (John 10:14). The “sheep,” His elect, the “few” He does “know”; but the reprobate, the non-elect, the “many” He knows not—no, not even before the foundation of the world did He know them—He “NEVER” knew them!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 89–92.