6 Things to Avoid in Your Baptism Testimony

Don’t you hate people who only want to talk about themselves? You know the type. They’re fascinated by themselves: their talents, their achievements, and precisely how incredible they are. Change the subject as many times as you want, and somehow it always come back to them.

Boring isn’t it?

We hate having to listen to people talk about themselves all the time. It gets in the way of talking about more important things. Like us.

boring boredom bored tedious

There’s a shadow of Narcissus in each of us. You may know the story of Narcissus. He’s the guy who was so handsome that when he glimpsed his own reflection in a smooth pond, he couldn’t take his eyes off himself. So he remained by the still water, gazing at himself until he died. Completely self-absorbed.

As much as we hate to admit it, we’re all a little like Narcissus. We’re fascinated  by ourselves, focused on our own needs, desires, and problems. And there’s one place where I think that often comes across loud and clear: baptisms.

I love baptisms. Not only is the rite of baptism itself a powerful and important part of the Gospel story, but many baptismal services provide an opportunity for people to share their “baptism testimony,” their story of how they came to understand the Gospel and what that means. And I’m fascinated by what people say. Or, more importantly, I’m fascinated by what people don’t say.

After a bit of a hiatus, I am again writing articles for Christianity.com. And this is the beginning of my most recent article for them. So, if you want to read the rest, head over there and check it out.

Flotsam and jetsam (6/7)

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Good Reads

  • Evangelicals and the Growing Gender Debate: Both sides make compelling Biblical and theological cases for their point of views, but according to the most current data on the culture and the church, egalitarian evangelicals seem to have momentum. Those Christians who hold to traditional views on gender must either catch up with the broader culture or learn to communicate their beliefs in ways that feel less outdated and disconnected from modern realities.
  • You Won’t Finish This Article: I’m going to keep this brief, because you’re not going to stick around for long. I’ve already lost a bunch of you. For every 161 people who landed on this page, about 61 of you—38 percent—are already gone. You “bounced” in Web traffic jargon, meaning you spent no time “engaging” with this page at all.
  • Origen and the Problem of Writing: Augustine writes to make progress; he writes to seek God. Prudentius writes to transcend the world of the flesh; he writes to be saved. Writing has become something quite different here, something Origen could never have imagined. It has become part of the apparatus of spiritual life, a means of purgation and transformation. Writing has become a vocation and a spiritual discipline.
  • The Quiet Shame of the Half-Book Reader: But reading is not about the chore of finishing a book, it’s about pleasure, regardless of the type of pleasure we expect from reading (some want a challenge, some want a good story, some want to look smart). Even so, sometimes it’s difficult to let ourselves go and just read for fun, and maybe it’s more difficult to actively cut the cord, step away, admit that it’s not going so well and your best bet is to move on.

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How Do You Know?

Here’s an excellent 10-minute video introducing a lot of questions/issues relevant for understanding what it means to “know” something (i.e. epistemology). Obviously a 10-minute video can’t answer many of those questions, but it’s still a creative and entertaining way of introducing people to (some of) the problems of epistemology.


Flotsam and jetsam (6/5)

Good Reads

  • The Books Americans Are Reading—And What that Reveals About Us: It is not a surprise that so many practicing Christians report reading their primary sacred text from front to back. It is surprising that nearly a fifth of people who claim another faith than Christianity and nearly a tenth of people with no faith claim to have done the same.
  • Folk Theology: Twenty Urban Legends in Theology:  Folk theology describes beliefs, generally shared by a large group of people, which said adherents have rarely thought through in a critical way. These beliefs are normally inherited (passed on through rote teaching and tradition).
  • Read, Write, Worship: Finding God between the lines of literature: Reading can create an intangible sanctuary where all are invited, regardless of faith, to receive benedictions that send us back into our respective broken worlds with more courage, strength, and hope. Reading can be an invitation to turn, face God, and live.

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Leaving Home

I’ve moved a fair bit over the years. Although I stopped counting a while ago, I’ve lived in about 30 different places. And that’s only if you count places where I’ve stayed at least three months. Anything less than that is just an extended visit.

So I’ve had a lot of experience with leaving a place. But I never really thought of it as leaving a home. I always though home was about people, relationships. The house was just the physical space you lived in while enjoying those relationships. And, even though relationships are more difficult to maintain when you move, the relationships themselves don’t end. You take them with you. So, although you leave a place, you don’t really leave a home. You take it with you.

That’s what I used to think. But I was wrong.

See that flower over there? The yellow one near the willow tree? My wife planted that flower. She cleared the space, prepared the soil, and planted the seed. As time passed, she watched its birth and nurtured its growth. She fought weeds and dodged bees. An entire history rests between those delicate petals: a narrative of rootedness, growth, sacrifice, and beauty. She planted that flower.

Looking around, I see our family planted everywhere.

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/3)

Good Reads

  • Eager to Adopt, Evangelicals Find Perils Abroad: But the movement has also revived debate about ethical practices in international adoptions, with fears that some parents and churches, in their zeal, have naïvely entered terrain long filled with pitfalls, especially in countries susceptible to corruption.
  • It’s Not The Bible’s Fault. You Might Just Be A Bad Dad: as long as the narrative continues which articulates that men lack what it takes to nurture and raise children; as long as some argue that the cultivation of children is the domain of women only, we will continue to produce dads who believe they risk their “man-card” by trying.
  • Christians & Masturbation: Seven Perspectives: I wanted to get a diversity of perspectives in response to this question, so I contacted several folks whose opinion on matters related to sexuality I respect, and asked them this question: Is masturbation an acceptable component to healthy sexuality for Christians?

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A Prayer for Sunday (John Calvin)

It hardly seems necessary to introduce this post by explaining who John Calvin was. The influential French theologian who guided the church in Geneva for so many years and set the tone for large swaths of the Protestant Reformation doesn’t need much introduction. So I’ll just point out that he died on May 27, 1564. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, today’s prayer comes from him. It’s a prayer that Calvin wrote for use before going to bed.

O Lord God, who hast given man the night for rest,
….as thou hast created the day
….in which he may employ himself in labour,
grant, I pray, that my body may so rest during this night
….that my mind cease not to be awake to thee,
….nor my heart faint or be overcome with torpor,
….preventing it from adhering steadfastly to the love of thee.

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Saturday Morning Fun…Teachers Who Got the Last Laugh

Buzz Feed has some great pictures of teachers doing what all teachers should: enjoying their job! Here are some of my favorites:

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May’s Top Posts

May was more about selling our house and finding a new house in Wheaton than it was about blogging. But we still managed to get at least a few posts out there. And these are the ones that you liked the most. Enjoy.

Good Rule of Thumb for Writing Essays

I am always on the lookout for creative and insightful comments to make on student papers. This has to be one of the best ever!

A good rule of thumb for essays (on viewing sheets or exams) is called the ‘mini-skirt’ rule–they should be long enough to cover what needs to be covered and short enough to be interesting. For many of you, your essays were more comparable to an ‘elderly, overweight man in a Speedo’–your essays were way too short, didn’t cover much at all, and some were just sad and pathetic.

Of course, many of the essays I see are more like a seventeenth-century woman in a formal gown with multiple petticoats and a jacket.

Source: Buzz Feed