Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baptism in the Sea

One of the biggest highlights of our recent trip to the Holy Land was being able to baptize so many people from Grace Church and who wanted to publicly identify with Christ in the land of Israel.

Last time we were here in 2006 we did the baptism in the Jordan River on the Jordan side which was most likely the location where John the Baptist had his ministry and most likely baptized Jesus. The water was very cold and running fast. It was also extremely dirty. My white t-shirt came out of the river completely brown. For logistical reasons on this trip we actually did the baptisms in the Sea of Galilee. The water was cool, but not too bad. There were, however, many fish swimming and jumping around us. What a thrill to baptize so many people from our church in the same Sea where Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm.

Though each baptism was special, three stand out in my mind as I reflect back on that evening.

It was especially thrilling to baptize my parents who went with us on this trip. I was shocked that my mom actually got baptized in the seas as she is very afraid of water. Yet she did great. Dad got very emotional as I asked him if he was sure that Jesus was his Lord and Savior and he proclaimed, “I love the Lord with all of my heart!” This was a very special moment for them and for me. I got my love for the church from my parents. Our family was in church every time the doors were open (4th pew back on the left hand side as you face the pulpit). And since my parents also cleaned the church we were also there even when the doors weren’t open. As a result, I grew to love the church.

It was also a thrill to baptize Dan and Renee Wagner. Dan had never been baptized since becoming a Christian. Tears of joy and love for the Lord flowed down his face as he said to me, “I’ve never been baptized before so take me deep!”

And then I will also mention being able to baptize Dean and Doreen Brandt. I love this couple. It wasn’t long ago that they had split up and it appeared that their marriage was dead. Yet, God did an amazing work of grace and they are back together and doing so well. Dean said to me out in the Sea, “What a miracle that my wife and I are here together getting baptized!” Yes, Dean, it was a miracle of God and I am so thrilled that I was able to be a part of baptizing you both in the Sea of Galilee

After dinner that same night, Laura and I took a romantic stroll down along the Sea of Galilee. I love the Sea of Galilee. There is just no other place I have ever been that rivals it. No wonder Jesus spent the first two years of His public ministry along its banks. It is absolutely one of my favorite places in the entire world to visit. And now, after this special baptismal service we held on its banks, the Sea of Galilee is even more special in my mind and my heart now than it ever has been.

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