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The kiddos have been asking about getting baptized. What a fun topic to discuss with a bunch of 7 year old children! I mean that both seriously and sarcastically, of course. The rabbit trails inherent with any conversation with just one 7 year old, let alone four of them can be challenging in itself, not even mentioning so deep a topic as baptism! 🙂

Yesterday, since we couldn’t get to church with the icy roads, we decided to “do church” at home, and this seemed as good a time as any to begin the conversation.

My wife and I began studying the topic with them from the Scriptures, but we did not use baptism as a starting point. Rather, we began in the Old Testament, studying the initial perfection of Creation, the subsequent Fall in Eden, and the sacrificial system set up after that. We spent time in Hebrews and Leviticus studying the necessity of blood for the forgiveness of sins.

We talked about the transition from the Old Law and the repeated sacrifices by the High Priest that could never really forgive sin, but rather pay for them for a time until Christ became our Great High Priest and gave the Once For All sacrifice through His blood on the Cross. How through one man (Adam) came sin and death, but through Christ came life and forgiveness.

We discussed the fact that it was God who made both the first sacrifice (the killing of animals to clothe the nakedness of Adam and Eve) and the final sacrifice (Christ’s death on the cross to finally and completely cover our sins).

We didn’t even really get into baptism. We just talked about this foundational theology. Sounds like a lot for some 7 year olds to grab onto, doesn’t it?

I didn’t have high expectations of retention for them at this point, but I quizzed them at the end of our study, and then again last night before we went to bed. I mean, I hit them with some pretty deep stuff. There’s no way they could retain all that, right?

WRONG…

I kept on nailing them, and even threw in a couple of questions I hadn’t really gone too in-depth with them on during our study just to see how they’d answer, and I’m telling you, with every question, they knocked it out of the park!

Our kids are smart…

Or, maybe this stuff just isn’t as hard to understand as I seem to think it should be for a 7 year old.

Either way, we’re pretty proud parents. We always knew they were smart kids, but good grief!

Next up, we’ll talk about grace, faith, works, and how all that plays with baptism, salvation, etc… You know: “What really saves us?” “Is baptism a work or a response of faith?” stuff like that…

It will be interesting to see how they process all that for sure…

Blessings,

-BB

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https://i1.wp.com/hdwallpaperszon.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Reflection-Wallpapers-3.jpg

As I reflect on my own 2013, I am reminded that looking back on successes or failures (and I certainly had my share of both) from the past year, while helpful to the extent of lessons learned and knowing where you come from, is far less profitable than looking forward to what is to come in the next year. Here are a few verses that came to mind this morning:

Your enemy, Satan, is quite crafty. If you are typically struggling with past failures, fears, or sins, he is an expert reminder of those things. Dear friend, Remember how much you are loved! God says this:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Conversely, if you are typically quite successful, and have mastery over your habits, thoughts, finances, relationships, and other areas of your life, he is also a very cunning master of pridefulness. He knows how to trick you into thinking you are far greater than you are, and thereby gain a foothold over you. However, if you take heed of the Scriptures here, Satan will have to find someone else to devour:

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” – Romans 12:3 ESV

Goals, plans, and resolutions are all important. God has planted in the hearts of all mankind a desire to better ourselves. However, as we look forward to 2014, my prayer for you (and me) is that this passage will be at the core of all our goals, plans, and resolutions for the coming year:

 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34 ESV

Yes, seek Him first, and all these things shall indeed be added unto you.

Happy New Year!

-BB

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6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7 ESV

A quick thought this Christmas Eve morning. There wasn’t any room for the Savior to be born in a place of comfort, so he came to us in the lowliest of estate – a tumbledown, stinky, filthy stable.

Aren’t our hearts just like that stable? We’re broken, messy, and filthy most of the time. In fact, we’re often times like a stable that has never been tended.

Yet His desire is to reside in YOUR heart! To be born… in YOU!

The High King of Heaven, would make His home with YOU! Yes, YOU! It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or where you’ve been, or who you are – He wants to be with you. So much, that His birth, as special as it is, isn’t even the real big deal…

The real big deal is that He wants to live in your broken, tumbledown stable of a heart so much that He died for you, yes, even YOU! And He didn’t stay dead! He defeated the sin and death that we all must face, and He is preparing a home for you.

In the hustle and bustle of opening presents, to take a few minutes before you get into all that, and praise God for the Christ-Child!

Merry Christmas!!!!!

-BB

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My friends,

Many Christians and others on the right are simply making the wrong argument when they say that Phil Robertson’s constitutional right to free speech has somehow been violated. It most likely has not.

First of all, employees are typically “at will.” This means an employer can terminate an employee at any time, for any reason. If he is an at will employee, then this case is closed.

Secondly, even if Phil had a contract with A&E that could possibly change his “at will” status, do you really think the attorneys at A&E would not have drafted that contract with such language, provisions, and clauses to provide them with the right to terminate him if, in their eyes, he did something to shame the company?

If he is not “at will,” then this is likely the case, and the case is probably closed. The only way it isn’t, is if the attorneys at A&E were asleep on the job. That kind of language in a contract would be, I would think, standard for anyone, even more so for an outspoken, Bible-believing redneck from West Monroe, LA. (Whom this Bible-believing redneck from South Alabama happens to agree with, for the record.)

Phil was well within his rights to express his views as he did. No one dragged him into a courtroom to prosecute him for it. I applaud him for speaking truth into darkness, and standing up for what he believes in.

However, A&E has rights, too. They have a right to terminate their relationship with him, which by the way, they didn’t. They “suspended him indefinitely” from being on air, and the Robertsons are still being paid. They also have a right to promote and protect their brand in whatever manner they see fit. They are a private enterprise, and as a free-market capitalist, I believe in their right to take this action. I may think they’re idiots for doing it, because Duck Dynasty is wildly popular and they are alienating the base audience of the show, but it’s their right to be idiots.

I find it interesting that those who were so quick to come to Chick-Fil-A’s defense over Dan Cathy’s stance on same-sex marriage are so quick to condemn A&E’s. They are both private companies doing what they deem best for their respective organizations. (Hat tip to my buddy Liam for pointing that out.)

Also, did it occur to anyone that this may actually be a stroke of pure marketing genius on the part of A&E? Think about it: They’ve seen (I think) a dip in ratings, and perhaps they thought the show was in decline. Every reality show, for the most part, runs its course, right? Perhaps when the marketing department saw his comments, they saw an opportunity to capitalize on the situation by taking this action. Consider this:

No doubt, the next few episodes will see an increase in viewership (because Americans can’t help but gawk), and they’ll sell a boatload of additional merchandise.

Maybe they saw this a chance to “get a few more bucks out of the ducks” before the show sails off into the sunset?

Now, let me be clear: I actually agree with most everything Phil had to say, if not the manner in which he chose to say some of it. He frankly could have left out the anatomy lesson and still gotten the point across. The Scriptures are not unclear on God’s views of homosexuality. They are very plain, and he really didn’t need to go there on the mechanics of intimacy.

But I also agree with Phil when he said he loves all humanity, and that he would not treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different than him, and that we would all be better off if we loved God and each other.

This is what I fear outraged Christians are missing in this, and other matters where our society is becoming increasingly hostile to the Gospel of Christ. We are most certainly entering into a time when our culture is intolerant of Christianity. We may even face severe persecution in my lifetime or in my children’s lifetime.

However, what is emerging as what I call “Militant Christianity” is wholly contrary to the Gospel of Peace and Love our Savior preached, and the disciples lived out in the early years of the church.

In the Old Testament, God’s people were indeed militant, but Jesus changed all that. Even when facing arrest and crucifixion, as Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, Jesus stopped Peter, and told him this is not the way, and restored Malchus’ ear.

Show me one time in the Acts of the Apostles where the disciples revolted against persecutors. It’s just not there. Peter, Paul, and the other followers of Christ reasoned with people from the Scriptures, endured persecutions, torture, and death for the cause of Christ, but they were never militant. In fact, their captors were often won to Christ through their loving actions and peaceful lifestyles.

Don’t mistake me as a pacifist. What the Church does and the State does are two totally separate matters. I believe in a strong national defense, and am thankful for our current and veteran soldiers.

However, the defense of the Gospel is not  waged with swords and chariots. It is waged with the Holy Spirit as our guide – loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Preaching truth (yes, even calling people out of sinful lifestyles), but doing it with love.

As I see pictures and quotes on Facebook and Twitter from Christ followers who seem angry about “Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas” or “In God We Trust” or other matters where our culture is clearly turning away from God, I encourage you to remember an old saying: “You will catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

Christ did not come to be a militant king. He came to be the King of your heart. Yes, He said that He would cause division between family members, but He didn’t say to go to war with them… rather, He said to pick up your cross and follow Him.

If Christianity continues to decline in America, that is not the end of Christianity or the Kingdom – it is simply the fallen world we live in. God never guaranteed us safety for being a Christian. In fact, he guaranteed us just the opposite – persecution.

We are to be salt and light. Ministering to others and preaching truth, but never in a hostile manner.

When the time comes, will you fight your captors, or will you lovingly win them to Jesus?

I implore you, church, focus on loving God, loving others, and preaching the truth in love. This is what will win the world to Jesus.

Beneath His Mercy,

-BB

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