April 17, 2009

Can This Really Be Happening?

I am with my eldest in Mobile today. He registers for fall classes at the University of Mobile today. This is almost dreamlike. I am not old enough to have a child entering the college years! Admittedly, I am not dealing with all of this very well.

That said, I must say that he and I are having a great time. We stopped by the hospital on the way down to visit with some of the flock that were there and had a funny, and now recurring, experience. We got on the elevator with some total strangers who took one look at us and said to my eldest, "You're his son aren't you. You two look like twins!" We both laughed and I again apologized to him for this. We had sooooo hoped he would look more like his mother! Alas, joyfully, he is without doubt my son.

April 6, 2009

Praying the Wrong Way

The following story was reported by the BBC. I was struck by the difference in the nature of prayers prayed by Muslim faithful all over the world and those prayed by Christians.

Some 200 mosques in Islam's holiest city, Mecca, point the wrong way for prayers, reports from Saudi Arabia say.

All mosques have a niche showing the direction of the most sacred Islamic site, the Kaaba, an ancient cube-like building in Mecca's Grand Mosque.

But people looking down from recently built high-rises in Mecca found the niches in many older mosques were not pointing directly towards the Kaaba.

Some worshippers are said to be anxious about the validity of their prayers.

(Emphasis added)

The article does go on to quote an official as saying the prayers were not affected in any way. I wonder who the faithful Muslims are going to believe; some government official or their system of beliefs which requires them to pray toward Mecca? I'm betting their belief system will trump the word of their government.

There is a better way! Prayer, for the Christian, is not a matter of directional fidelity but rather of relational certainty. Rather than uttering our words of prayer toward a place we are engaged in conversation with a God who is there in all places at all times.

I am grateful for the truth that "He [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25)

A Unique Moment of Baptismal Celebration

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Baptism is always a powerful time of celebration, worship, and remembrance for me. I never baptize without remembering my own baptism at the age of 8 years. I vividly recall each detail of that momentous moment. I remember Charles Langston, my pastor, asking if I had placed my faith in Christ Jesus and my affirmative response. I recall him gladly stating that because of my profession of faith he was baptizing me his "little brother" in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. I remember being plunged under the water and the thrill of being lifted again from the water. My life has never been the same. I was a believer before I was baptized and this event served to firmly fix this decision in my life.

Sunday morning I had the unusual pleasure of baptizing father and son together. They had both experienced baptism before but it was simply an exercise in getting wet. You see, they were not believers at the time they were first "dunked." The difference on this Sunday was not the quality of the water or the potency of any words this Shepherd spoke (as opposed to the words the pastor who had baptized them spoke), no, the difference was the condition of the heart of these men. On this day they entered these waters as new men; men who had placed their faith firmly and finally in Christ Jesus as their sole hope of salvation. What occurred in these moments of celebration, as they publicly professed their faith to those who were gathered, was a moment filled with spiritual potency and significance for all.

As each man rose from the waters applause erupted through the sanctuary in celebration of God's mighty and mysterious working in these lives. I am humbly grateful for the privilege of being present at such a moment.