Share Your Faith

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Sharing with strangers
I’m the executive director for nonprofit and central Indiana. This past week we did an outreach event providing Easter meals & baskets to individuals and families in our community. My small group leader through Southeast provided me a box of copies of Grace from the Cross to add to our meal baskets. On Monday, I had a group of nine volunteers from a tool manufacturing company volunteer for the the distribution portion of our event. While we added the books to the meal baskets, it spurred a conversation about faith, Jesus, and our own personal journey. I hate to admit that I have never personally shared my faith with a stranger, let alone a group of strangers, let alone a group of random volunteers serving at my organization! Boy was Jesus moving that day! As we filled the baskets the silence began to fill with conversation about my own struggles- to their own struggles- their own faith journey… laughter and hugs were shared among new friends. At the end of their shift, several of the volunteers asked if they could have copies of the book— of course I said yes! My heart was overjoyed knowing that not only would strangers receive these books— that a physical need be met with a meal— but a real conversation about faith happened in an intimate setting, one at a time, as we worked together to serve others. It was such a full circle Kingdom moment for me ♥️ I’m so grateful that a box of books led to so many moments that sparked conversation and opportunity to share my faith, and for others to do the same!
Katie Schwarz
Apr 17

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Repent and Be Baptized
Baptism cleanses us, and it gives us a clear conscience before God. There is incredible power in having a clean conscience before God because if you find that, you see all these other areas of your life can begin to break free. But before there can be this type of cleansing, there needs to be conviction. In Acts 2, Peter says your response to feeling conviction due to your sins should be to repent and be baptized. The gift of the holy spirit is parallel to this action.  Throughout Romans 6, we consistently see covenantal language, showing us that something powerful happens that connects all of these things together when we identify with the death, burial, and the resurrection of Jesus through baptism. It is similar to that of a wedding ceremony, where a couple stands up in a public ceremony and makes committments and vows to one another. It's bringing together devotion. It's declaring their old single life is gone and their new married life has come. There is a temptation to think the action of baptism doesn't matter, or it's just a nice ceremony or gesture, but there's something crucial that happens in baptism, because Jesus is the only one who can save. And it may be a little bit scary, intimidating, or humbling, but we pray that we all are willing to say, “I identify with Jesus. I am living, dying to myself, being raised to walk in a new way of life.” DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: Have you identified baptism as creating a covenant between you and God previously? In what ways has your perspective of baptism changed?
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Cleansing Our Sins
Most of us are very comfortable living in a way where we don’t see or notice the sins in our lives. We recognize that there's some stains in our lives, stains in our marriages, stains on our souls, but we can't see them. We try to avoid lights that might point to them or expose them. That's one of the reasons why going to church service or a small group is oftentimes a battle, because there's something within you that says, “If I go there, they're going to shine a light on some things that I don't really want to shine a light on. I'd rather just pretend like those stains aren't there.”  All of us have stains on our soul, and just because we don't see them, doesn't mean they're not there. The Bible tells us in 1 John chapter one, it says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Then, Peter helps us see how this is connected to baptism. 1 Peter 3:21 says, “And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The only power that baptism has is Jesus’s power. There's nothing about the water that saves you. It's Jesus, and it’s the resurrection.  DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: What are some stains in your life that you avoid exposing to light? In what ways can you acknowledge these stains and quit pretending they aren’t there?
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The word baptizo means to bury, dip, plunge beneath, or immerse. That's how it would be translated. But here’s what's interesting: most of the Scriptures that we have are comprised of words that have been translated into English, but there are a handful of words that have not been translated. Baptizo is one of them. These words have been transliterated. If it were simply translated, then baptize or baptizo would not be translated as “baptized”, it would be translated as dip, immerse, or plunged beneath the surface. So, what that means is we took the word in Greek and just turned it into an English word. If actually we translated it, we would understand more clearly what's meant to be taking place. This is why the actual immersion under the water is such a vital part of baptism as we understand it from Scripture.  Baptism is meant represent a dramatic death, and it's not a quick ceremony where someone gets dunked for a second in the water. Sometimes baptism can even be described as a watery grave, because that’s where our old selves are buried. And if that's not happened for you spiritually, then that needs to happen. Otherwise, it just doesn't work to live a resurrected life. Old anger, old bitterness, old shame, old guilt, some old beliefs, some old perspective, some old selfishness, some old pride – that’s all left beneath the water. DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: In what ways does defining baptism as a “watery grave” ring true for you? If it doesn’t, how does this change your perspective on baptism?
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Obedient to Baptism
Through baptism, you are saying goodbye to your old passions, desires, beliefs, and perspectives. In Romans 6, Paul says you were buried with Jesus through baptism and just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life through our baptism. When we identify ourselves with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus in baptism, it is not just the celebration of what was done for us. It becomes something we are a part of. We're not just remembering something that happened, it's happening to us. We're not just thinking about his death and his resurrection, we are identifying with it as we are entering into.  It can cause a lot of heartache and misery to live in a way where you want to follow Jesus, but aren’t willing to die to yourself. You want to follow Jesus close enough to get the benefits, but not so close that it requires sacrifice. It was never meant to work that way. When you become a follower of Jesus, the old is gone and the new comes.  If you've already been baptized, an examination of baptism and its purpose can deepen your devotion and strengthen your commitment as a follower of Jesus. We want it to reignite the devotion that you felt when you first got baptized, and remind you of the commitment that you previously made and who you are in Jesus. Baptism is a covenant that you are a part of and hopefully, have grown in it. By remembering what you decided, it should inspire you now to live your life for Christ.  DISCUSSION/REFLECTION QUESTION: If you have been baptized, what was a desire, passion, or belief from your previous life that was difficult for you to sacrifice? If you haven’t been baptized, what do you imagine will be the most difficult for you to let go of?