Posts Tagged With: calvary chapel

My Hitchhiking Adventure With God – More on Baptism

BaptismI chose to write a blog on baptism because I wanted to force myself to learn more and research this further. When I first started my research, I began to realize just how ignorant I was and, though I felt I was onto something with the few insights that I did have on the subject, I had to admit I did have some mistaken ideas. I also began to realize that this subject is a “can of worms” for many people. Churches and denominations have their lines drawn in the sand regarding baptism. Sometimes their beliefs land in agreement with Jesus and the apostles, but other times… not so much. I think also that there are some unfounded fears and superstitions regarding baptism. (see comments)

I found that the internet and Wikipedia are definitely not the place to go to research baptism if you want sound teaching (this probably goes for any important spiritual subject). The top two sites that came up in a search for baptism teaching, though well researched and presented, I believe, came to wrong conclusions.

The most important thing regarding spiritual matters, is to find out what Jesus and the apostles have to say on the subject and somehow manage to not misinterpret them. This is a huge task that I am not going to pull off (nor attempt to) in a single blog. Instead, I will share my experiences and a few thoughts and leave it at that. I am not the end all be all of spiritual truth – we have the word of God and the Holy Spirit for that.

My Experience With Baptism

I was maybe seven years old I was first “baptized” at Riverview family Bible camp. My mom asked me if I wanted to be baptized and I said yes. The pastor tried to explain baptism to me but I don’t think I understood a word of it. I probably had quite a puzzled look on my face as he explained baptism, but he baptized me anyway. I remember standing down by the river wearing the white robe with the other people about to get baptized and wishing I could go play on the water slide.

image007Many years later, when I was 18, my best friend Jacob was getting baptized through our church Calvary Chapel. He asked me if I would join him and I told him I’d be happy to. I had just come back to the Lord that year and I was excited about God. I was so excited about God that, as often as I could, I would go to every church service and college group that I could possibly find around Spokane Washington where I lived. I loved hearing God’s word and being around God’s people. I regularly went to Calvary Chapel and a church called Life Center, both excellent and wonderful fellowships where I sensed God was doing amazing things.

My friend Jacob and I went through a class about baptism at Calvary Chapel and then the day came for us to be baptized. The experience itself was unremarkable. A dove did not descend. I can’t say the experience changed anything for me.

I also remember something that happened at a church called Life Center about that same time. They had a big baptism service there every so often and they would encourage those who brought a person to faith in Christ to be the one to baptize them. They had pastoral staff there to guide the whole process. I had a friend named Claire who wanted me to baptize her. She wanted her sins to be washed away. So there I was, having just come back to God and to my faith, wearing a ying and yang t-shirt baptizing my friend.

A Few Thoughts on Baptism

Baptism is one of the few words in the Bible that has never been translated from the Greek into English. Baptism is from the Greek noun Βάπτισμα – baptisma. It means “to immerse”. So, I thought, why was this word transliterated instead of being translated? Why not use the word “immersed” instead of simply Englishifying this Greek word?

Up until last week I thought it was a conspiracy. I believed that the translators of Scripture didn’t translate the word just to accommodate already well established church practices. If the Greek word means “to immerse”, can you guess why the translators would hesitate to render its true meaning? Church practice for centuries was to sprinkle the foreheads, or pour water over the head, but not to fully immerse them. I am under the impression that there is a great deal of superstition around baptism as well. I believe some churches practice infant baptism thinking it best to do this as early as possible so as to save them from an eternity in hell… so they think.

Peter writes that baptism is not a matter of the removal of filth from the body (the physical act of washing) but about the spiritual reality that baptism represents. Just like the Jewish practice of circumcision represented a spiritual cleansing of the filth of the flesh – the removal of sin, so now baptism represents the death and burial of our old life and the resurrection to a new life by the Spirit of God. It truly is the spiritual reality that means something, and the physical act is pointless without this. So what significance does the physical act play?

Think about how differently certain commands of Jesus would read if this word had been translated:

“Go therefore into all the world and make followers of Christ, immersing them in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Immersing them in the name. Not immersing them in water per say, but in a name. What would this signify?

However, I could not ignore the fact that most of the instances that baptism is talked about or commanded, it is referring to the Christian rite of baptism. It seemed then to make sense then why the translators would not translate the word. If the word does in fact most often refer to the “rite” of baptism, then it may just add confusion to the subject to say immerse… unless that’s what God and the apostles actually meant to say. What do you think?

I came to see that I was not at liberty to spiritualize “baptism” into solely a mystical experience of being immersed in God. But, that the physical act also matters to God and is commanded by God. I have a lot more to learn but I’d love to hear back from you. Is there something you think I should know or am overlooking in this brief look at baptism? Leave me a comment!

Categories: Baptism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Hitchhiking Adventure With God – Part 1

My new found friend Neal wanted to hear my story. He was interested in a particular story from my past about a hitchhiking adventure to New Orleans during Mardi Gras to share Jesus with people on the street. Neal and I had just met one week before at church and became instant friends. We were out for lunch with some other friends one Sunday and my journey to New Orleans had come up in conversation. A few details of the story intrigued Neal. First, that I had worked at Gospel for Asia, and the other was that one of the places I had stopped along my journey just so happened to be the same place where Neal had found the Lord, found freedom from drugs, and found his wife.

coffee-cup-kittensBefore meeting Neal for coffee, I was nervous about talking about this particular story. It had been awhile since I had even thought about it and I feared that this particular story would give this much younger brother in the Lord a false impression of how faith is fundamentally expressed. (God’s Word tells us that faith expresses itself through love.) And so, after a bit of soul-searching and thoughtful prayer, we met for coffee and I shared the following story:

It was 1998 and I was 21 years old. I had been serving full time on staff at Gospel for Asia’s home office in Carrollton Texas for the past nine months. I ran errands, worked in the mail room, and answered phones. Gospel for Asia is an organization that connects sponsors to native missionaries in India and the surrounding countries.

I was involved with a few other ministries as well. I played bass on the worship team at my church (Calvary Chapel of Dallas), and I had also just started playing bass with a band that played at nursing homes and prisons.

41oeS7FjeEL._SY355_It all started on February 15th, 1998. I was at the end of my rope and feeling the burn around my neck. I felt like there was no one who I could talk to or relate to. I was an outsider, disconnected. It seemed like everyone else knew how to be a Christian but me, and honestly, being a Christian seemed pretty lame.

I was growing desperate, and struggling with my identity as a Christian. I had no one to confide in – and certainly no one to help me through the issues every young man faces. What was the worst, however, was that I felt so disconnected from this God I was trying so hard to serve and to please.

Well, that February night I was heading home after playing a concert at a nursing home and feeling so desperate that I knew I couldn’t go home. So I drove to my church and parked in the empty lot. As I sat there all the anguish and frustration boiled to the surface and I screamed and hit and shook the steering wheel in frustration, “God, please help me!”

Though the lot was empty I decided to walk to the church anyway. I needed to talk to someone. I knocked loudly and waited – not expecting anyone to come, but then someone did come. A man I had met before was staying at the church. I had remembered him from a Bible study and I felt I could trust him.

4b6c508eeab84c264b20954e598777a4He invited me in and we talked. I told him about all the stuff I was feeling and struggling with and about how desperate and depressed I felt. He encouraged me with a Scripture in John 3 about how those who come to the light love the truth, while those who hate the truth avoid the light. He said, “Daniel, you are coming to the light. This is good.” And then, he prayed for me.

Honestly, I didn’t feel any better at the time. I left still feeling depressed.

dcc285366742676e28ac32c0e7d12a61Later that night I was in bed and began praying. I prayed for a neighbor girl and a few others and then something amazing and miraculous started happening. The Lord’s presence come into the room. I can’t express to you how tangibly real this was. God was in my room! All my burdens lifted in a moment and I started praying in a different language. The praying grew more and more intense and it got so loud that I thought for sure I would wake my mom and brothers.

I then felt what I believe now to be the Lord’s presence (Holy Spirit) course through my body starting at the top of my head and moving to my toes and back again. It was in that moment that Jesus then commissioned me and gave me my calling, namely, “to proclaim his name.” With the commission came the understanding of what he meant. This was Jesus calling from Psalm 22:22 “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters – I will praise you among your assembled people.”

This is all about glory – representing God in all his glory. Carrying His aura if you will. Living it. Moving in it. Breathing it in and out to the world. His glory.

It’s hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it. I just knew that His name was His presence and that is what my calling is. To share His name – His presence with others.

As I lay there he also told me that the next day I would be going to a certain building to make a delivery. He gave me a vision, a picture in my head, of a man standing outside the building smoking a cigarette. I was to give this man a simple message: “Tell him that I love him”.

Then the sad normal state of my self-conscious crashed back upon me like the Red sea on Pharaohs army and I went to sleep. I wished I could have stayed in His presence, it was so amazing.

The next day I didn’t remember what He had told me about the man and the message I was to deliver until I arrived at the building. I had never been there before but I recognized it from my vision. My heart began to race as it all came back to me. ‘Will he be there?’ I thought. “If he is here, I will do it”, I told myself. I parked the truck and approached the building excited and nervous.

Sure enough, there he stood smoking a cigarette just as the Lord showed me he would be. His name was Jacob and I said to him, “You will probably think I’m crazy, but I am a Christian and last night the Lord told me to tell you that He loves you.” Jacob seemed to take it seriously and I truly do hope it made a difference in his life. I then walked inside feeling a bit silly but also knowing that something quite amazing was happening here.

Later that same day my good friends Rob and Katie McCall invited me to join them for a road trip to New Orleans to share Jesus with people at Mardi Gras. “Wow!” I thought. “Of course I will go!” I was really excited and at worship practice that night I shared the news of my upcoming adventure with an older brother Rich that I served with on the worship team.

(How I started on the worship team: My brother was a talented keyboard player and since he didn’t have his driver’s license yet, I would drive him to worship practices. After a few times of just sitting out in the audience while they practiced, the worship leader finally says to me, “Why don’t you come up here and play bass for us?” So I came up, they hooked up the bass and handed it to me. I just stood there wondering what to do with the thing. I had just started playing guitar a few months before and didn’t know the first thing about bass.)

The next day Rob approached me and informed me that the plans had fallen through for the trip to New Orleans. Just after he told me this I heard the Lord whisper to me, “But I have called you to go.”

I was so excited! I didn’t know how I was getting there but I knew that in a week or so I would be in New Orleans. So help me God.

During that week I had some really wonderful times with the Lord. The day before I was to leave I was back at worship practice again. By this time I had decided that I was going to be hitchhiking. Without explanation I told Sandy, the worship leader, that I wouldn’t be playing that Sunday. Rich, still assuming I would be traveling with my friends to share Jesus took me aside and prayed for me and for God’s anointing on my journey.

And so, instead of participating in the worship practice, I got alone with God. I read the book of Acts and talked with God. It was then that the Lord told me to leave the next morning at 4:00. I told him, “Lord, if you get me up at four in the morning I will go.” I didn’t set an alarm that night.

My mom woke me up the next morning – sun shining through the window. She told me she was going to a bible study at church. Church was across town and would be a much better place to start hitchhiking from so I told her of my plan and that I still felt the Lord wanted me to go and asked for a ride to church. She told me, “No, God has closed that door. You can just pray from here if you feel that strongly about it.”

That took the wind out of my sails. I sat there in my room not knowing what to do next. I looked over at my alarm clock and it was blinking 3:45. Apparently sometime in the night the power had gone out and the clock started over. Oh my goodness, 15 minutes to go.

I looked in the mirror after brushing my teeth and knew I just couldn’t face myself in the mirror again if I did not join the Lord in this adventure. So I picked up my New King James New Testament and flipped through it looking for some encouragement. I finally stumbled on a verse that simply said, “You are Christ’s.” – 1 Corinthians 3:23

That was all I needed. If I belong to Christ – then he has the right to do whatever he pleases with what is his. Even if it means to send them on dangerous missions to dangerous places… all alone. But I wouldn’t be alone would I? Christ was with me! The clock was now blinking 3:55.

kitten-rainI wrote a hurried note to my mom that read, “Where God closes a door, he opens a window.” I then took my bible, a map, an apple, and all my money (all 11 dollars) and to avoid questions from my brothers who were in the living room, I left out the window.

(to be continued…)

If you have enjoyed this story (or the kittens), please share it!

Read next post for Part 2! Be sure to subscribe, and leave a comment below!

Here is the video version of this story:

Categories: faith adventure | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com