Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)
TITLE: Saturday Morning With Pastor Joe.
By Preacher Johnson
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With prayer, Bible Study and more prayer, the uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach will not leave him. After three hours of the ongoing cycle of prayer, reading the Scriptures, prayer, reading the Scriptures, prayer, he decides that maybe the problem is with him and not from any leading of the Spirit of God.
Loving history and thinking that some pleasure reading may end his restlessness, Joe pulls a book about the Civil War that his daughter had given him for his birthday off the shelf. Opening the book to the introduction, he reads the words at the top of the page, “Our Civil War.” Pastor Joe closes the book and leans back in his chair, seemingly staring off into space, and begins to think, 'Our civil war, a war we fought with ourselves. There are people in the church who have made a profession of faith but won’t be baptized. Are they fighting themselves? Is this a Satan issue or a self issue, or could it be something else?'
The loving Pastor, with a burden for the people of the congregation that just won’t stop, places the book on his desk, leaves his office, puts his knees on the floor and his elbows on the seat of the couch and in an audible voice, pours his heart out to God.
“Dear Lord, you are the great and all-powerful God. You control the universe and search out the hearts of men. You have called me to lead one of your churches and to say things to the subverting of the hearers. Lord, help me. There are several that claim to know you, claim that they are justified by your blood, yet they don’t want to follow you in believers’ baptism. What do you want me to say? What do you want me to do to convince them to perform this act of obedience?
“Lord, there’s Gadara, who was born half a world away from here. Her parents baptized her as a baby and she does not want to offend them. Oh please, Father, show her that her mom and dad will never understand how much you mean to her until she shows it to them instead of hiding you from them. Allow her to see that even though it will make them mad it could also be the catalyst of what makes them listen to her about you; it will prove to them she is serious.
“Oh Lord, there’s George and Richard the twelve-year-old twins. Father, other than going over everything again and again I don’t know what to do. They keep telling me they want to be baptized so they can go to heaven. Miss Wilson and I keep explaining to them that salvation is by faith in what you, Lord, have done and that baptism is only a picture of what you have done. Please, dear God, may they see it, may they see it? May they see that baptism is a beautiful picture of your death, burial and resurrection?”
Pastor Joe rolls backwards from his knees to his back. His eyes never open but his hands wipe the tears from his face. Regaining his composure but remaining in heartfelt sorrow, he rolls over to his face and continues to pray.
“Dear Jesus, have Cindy desire in her heart to follow you. May she understand that when she is baptized this Sunday she is telling the world she has chosen to follow you in newness of life. Her life will no longer be a servant to sin but a servant, a handmaiden to you and your service. May her heart show the joy, peace and love of following you in this important step. O Dear God, help them all, help me.”
As Joe proclaims the final words of his prayer, he does not hear the closing of the kitchen door. His wife upon entering the room sees Pastor Joe prostrate on the floor, now speechless, tears on his face, As her arm goes around his back, he sits up and tells her, “It’s okay, there’s some people that need to be baptized.”
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