Feb 22, 2012

How to become baptized as an expression of new faith in Jesus Christ


John 3:3 (NKJV) "Jesus answered and said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' ”

        The first time I began to see through the eyes of a believer, was on the night of October 20, 2008. As I sat in a jail holding cell, I desperately thought, "How did I get here?" http://dlouyoung.blogspot.com/p/my-personal-testimony.html. In that moment, I knew I had to turn from my sin and selfishness. So, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. 
        Soon after, God orchestrated a way for me to attend a Baptist University. I enrolled in a seminary program and for the first time I began to read God's Word. Scripture had a way of piercing my heart. The more I read, the more I desperately tried to place my pride, my past and my entire heart in God's hands. Then, after a year and a half of repenting and turning from my past sinful ways http://dlouyoung.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-does-it-really-mean-to-repent.html God instructed me about the important act of obedience through baptism.
       In scripture, I read Acts 2:38 (NKJV). "Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." I also read Romans 6:4-5 (NKJV) "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection." The more scripture I read, the more excited I became. Soon, I couldn't wait to publicly testify and stand before witnesses confessing my new identification with the Lord.
      One day, I approached our Pastor at church. I asked, "Is there any way that I can get baptized?" At that moment, another church member stole the Pastor's attention. As a result, I left the service without a reply. Still, God continued to reveal His desire and prepare my heart. I read, 1 Peter 3:21 (NKJV). "There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Then I read, 1 Corinthians 6:11(NKJV) "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."
       Later, I approached our Pastor a second time. "Please Pastor, can I get baptized soon?" This time, he responded. He placed an announcement in our church bulletin. Almost immediately, several people of all ages expressed an interest in becoming baptized. Wow!
      At first, our church planned to hold the baptism at a local beach.  However, at the last minute, the event location was changed. Now, I would be getting baptized at a place my husband held dear, an award winning golf course he knew well. God had known just how to spark my husband's interest too!

        The day was perfect and my soul felt uplifted. While my husband joyfully barbecued all of the meat, I sat among friends, soaking up the sun and listening to our church's worship team play familiar songs.  Then unexpectedly, one of the few guests I had invited to witness the event, expressed her own desire to become baptized. Suddenly, I felt my cross necklace fall from my neck. There was nothing wrong with the clasp and I had worn the necklace without fail for several years. Now, in the very moment God was using me to lead others closer to Him, my cross necklace fell straight to the ground. I giggled at Satan's minor attempt to take my focus from God and used the situation to further praise Jesus Christ.
        Soon, it was time for the baptisms. All of the participants surrounded a beautifully designed over-sized jacuzzi that reflected the light from its overflowing waterfall.  I quickly and joyfully volunteered to go first. As I stepped into the warm water, I noticed a feeling of complete relief from the pain I had experienced the day prior. Was God telling me to let go of all my past pain? 

        Then, as I stood by my Pastor's side, I listened as he proclaimed, "This is an expression of your faith. The water symbolizes being washed clean from all of your sins." I jokingly responded, "Well, you better hold me down for awhile then." Everyone laughed. Then quickly, my heart filled with gratitude and my eyes welled with tears. I prayed, "Thank You Lord for washing away my sins and giving me a new life through You!"
         Now, two years later, I find myself sitting at our breakfast table praying with our seven-year-old son regarding his upcoming baptism. Only a few weeks ago, on his own, our youngest son approached the same Pastor, and asked if he could get baptized too. What joy! 
       As my son and I read John 3:3 this morning, I quietly praised God for that valley I experienced back on 2008. Through it, the Lord provided a way for our family to live a new life filled with hope and joy. And now, one by one, we are outwardly professing our faith in Him and turning from a life of sin!


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