Living the Gifts of Christmas – Baptism

Baptism: You Are Part of God’s Family
by Rick Warren
“Praise God for the privilege of being in Christ’s family and being called by his wonderful name!” (1 Peter 4:16 LB)

Healthy families have family pride; members are not ashamed to be recognized as a part of the family. Sadly, I’ve met many church members who’ve never publicly identified themselves with God’s family by being baptized.

Baptism is not some optional ritual to be delayed or postponed. It signifies your inclusion in God’s family. It publicly announces to the world, “I am not ashamed to be a part of God’s family.” Jesus commanded this beautiful act for all in his family.

For years I wondered why Jesus’ Great Commission gives the same prominence to baptism as it does to the great tasks of evangelism and edification.

Why is baptism so important? Because it symbolizes one of the purposes of your life: incorporation into the fellowship of God’s eternal family.

Baptism declares your faith, shares Christ’s burial and Resurrection, symbolizes your death to your old life, and announces your new life in Christ. It is also a celebration of your inclusion in God’s family.

Your baptism is a physical picture of a spiritual truth. It represents what happened the moment God brought you into his family.

Baptism doesn’t make you a member of God’s family; only faith in Christ does that. Baptism shows you are part of God’s family. Like a wedding ring, it is a visible reminder of an inward commitment made in your heart. It is an act of initiation, not something you put off until you are spiritually mature. The only biblical condition is that you believe.

The Bible says, “Jesus and the people he makes holy all belong to the same family. That is why he isn’t ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2:11 CEV).

Let that amazing truth sink in! Because Jesus makes you holy, God is proud of you.

Talk About It

– Being included in God’s family is the highest honor, the greatest privilege you and I will ever receive. Nothing else comes close. Why not pause right now and thank God that he included you?

– If you haven’t been baptized as an expression of your faith in Christ, do so immediately, as Jesus commanded.


Grace for the weekend

Where I live, today has been a rainy, soggy mess. Tomorrow promises to be more of the same. I’m glad it’s not snow. If you rain or even snow, be safe and enjoy your weekend.

The rain of today didn’t keep me from enjoying girl time with Rachelle and Emily. P1020111






Nor will it keep me from enjoying tomorrow with my grandson Zeke.









Or our Sunday night family dinner.P1020093






Wherever you go dear friends, and whatever your weekend holds, may God be in the middle of it and may His grace and love surround you and all you do.


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Grace for Today – Friendship

5 Traits of True Christian Friends

(reprinted from

So, what does a true Christian friendship look like? Let’s break it down into traits that are easy to identify.IMG_1028

Christian Friends Love Sacrificially

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (NIV)

Jesus is the finest example of a true Christian friend. His love for us is sacrificial, never selfish. He demonstrated it not only through his miracles of healing, but more fully through the humble service of washing the disciples’ feet, and then ultimately, when he laid down his life on the cross.

If we choose our friends based only on what they have to offer, we’ll rarely discover the blessings of a genuine friendship. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” By valuing your friend’s needs above your own, you’ll be on your way to loving like Jesus. In the process, you’ll likely gain a true friend.IMG_1244

Christian Friends Accept Unconditionally

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (NIV)

We discover the best of friendships with brothers and sisters who know and accept our weaknesses and imperfections.

If we’re easily offended or hold on to bitterness, we’ll have a hard time making friends. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes now and then. If we take a truthful look at ourselves, we’ll admit that we bear some of the blame when things go wrong in a friendship. A good friend is quick to ask forgiveness and ready to be forgiving.

IMG_0075Christian Friends Trust Completely

Proverbs 18:24
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NIV)

This proverb reveals that a true Christian friend is trustworthy, indeed, but emphasizes a second important truth as well. We should only expect to share complete trust with a few loyal friends. Trusting too easily can lead to ruin, so be careful about putting your confidence in a mere companion. Over time our true Christian friends will prove their trustworthiness by sticking closer than a brother or sister.

Christian Friends Keep Healthy Boundaries

1 Corinthians 13:4 

Love is patine, love is kind. It does not envy … (NIV)

If you feel smothered in a friendship, something is wrong. Likewise, if you feel used or abused, something is amiss. Recognizing what’s best for someone and giving that person space are signs of a healthy relationship. We should never let a friend come between us and our spouse. A true Christian friend will wisely avoid intruding and recognize your need to maintain other relationships.

Christian Friends Give Mutual EdificationIMG_1052

Proverbs 27:6
Wounds from a friend can be trusted … (NIV)

True Christian friends will build each other up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Friends like to be together simply because it feels good. We receive strength, encouragement, and love. We talk, we cry, we listen. But at times we also have to say the difficult things our dearest friend needs to hear. Yet, because of the shared trust and acceptance, we are the one person who can impact our friend’s heart, for we know how to deliver the hard message with truth and grace. I believe this is what Proverbs 27:17 means when it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

My hope is that these five traits will show you areas that may need a little work in your effort to build stronger friendships. But if you don’t have lots of close friends, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, true Christian friendships are rare treasures. They take time to nurture, but in the process we grow more Christlike.IMG_0980






I am so glad I have friends in my life who fit the five characteristics outlined here. And I am so blessed that they are in some cases also my family. Without them, my life would be empty. The people pictured here are some of the greatest gifts of my life and the greatest blessings God has given me.
And, for those friends I’ve lost touch with over the last few years, my heart aches a little for the memories we share. May God bless you always.

I thank my God every time I remember you. Philipians 1:3


Grace for Today – Thankful

 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. I Corinthians 1:4-6

As I sit looking out my office window at the sun shining down from above, I am thankful that God loves me. And, I know that I don’t deserve it, but He loves me anyway.

Not because of who I am, but because of who He is. Because He sees me through the covering of His son, Jesus.

Today, I am thankful that His grace is sufficient for me. (II Corinthians 12:9) and He is made strong through my weakness.

I bow down and I cry out for Him. That I might love Him more, might worship Him more and that I might bring glory to Him through the things I say and do.

I can’t live without Him. Each step I take requires His guidance. Each word I speak needs His blessing because otherwise I am nothing.

So, today, I am thankful for His love and I am thankful during this season of Lent for more time to spend talking with my Jesus. And I am thankful that my children and now my grandson see the love of God in me every day.

It doesn’t matter what they do or where they go. I love them unconditionally. And if this is one tenth the love God feels for me…

Then thankful doesn’t even begin to describe it.


Living the Gifts of Christmas – Baptism

I talked a few days ago about how John the Baptist baptized Jesus with water and how if being baptized was good enough for Jesus it should be for us as well. But John also talks about Jesus and the baptism He brings to believers. In Matthew 3:11 he says:

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:”


Then in Acts chapter 2: 1-4a, we are told:

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,”

and in I Corinthians 12:13 Paul in his letter to the Corinthians reminds them, and us:

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

So what is this baptism of the Holy Spirit? Is it a different baptism? When do Christians receive this baptism?

According to Dr. John Brechte on

“All believers share the reality of being baptized by the Spirit.  It makes us part of the body of Christ, the Church.  If every believer has been baptized in the Spirit, then it must happen at the moment you accept Christ and become a Christian.

Great Christians down through the years have often experienced dramatic encounters with God after salvation. There is no reason to deny that this is a genuine way that God works with His people. It is also true that equally devout, effective Christians have gone through life without such a “second work” of grace.

We may use whatever words we want to describe our experiences with God. But it is most accurate to say that the Bible uses “baptism of the Spirit” to refer to one of the wonderful things that God does for us the instant we trust Christ and enter His family!”

Good news! If you are a follower of Christ, you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Rejoice! This is just another of the wonderful gifts of Christmas.




Grace for Today – Missing God’s Plan

Have you ever had that feeling? The moment when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you missed God’s plan and you’re left wondering how to make it right?

I had one of those last week and I find myself once again falling on my face before God begging His forgiveness and promising that it won’t happen again.

But it will. I’m human and I know that as much as I proclaim that I want to be, as a friend of mine calls it “smack dab in the middle of God’s plan” there are still times and situations where I haven’t given up the driver’s seat to Him and where I still jump first and see His plan after. I claim the promise of Jeremiah 29:11-14 with my mouth all the time, but I’m not sure I claim it with my heart.

And, in this particular situation, God just went ahead and confirmed His position on the subject through the message of Dr. Charles Stanley on Sunday morning. His sermon was  called “Direction Without Doubt”. I felt the conviction all over me as I realized that God designed that message for me to hear, and as a way for me to know that only when He is the first place I turn for help and advice will my decisions be the best He has in store for me.

I thought about trying to encapsulate Dr. Stanley’s message for you, but I think hearing it from him might be the better course of action. So, I am including it here and my prayer is, that if you, like me, sometimes forget where our direction should come from, you can and will have this resource to remind you whose advice and counsel you should seek.

Because no one knows you like He does and no one wants for you the best like the Father who made you.



Grace for the Weekend

Today it is cold and clear here at my house with the promise of a very cold weekend. A good time to stay inside and reflect on the grace that gets me through each day and the God who loves me no matter what.


To worship in community


to spend with family and friends.


to reflect on the beauty around me.

IMG_0294Wherever your journey takes you this weekend, may God’s presence be the center of your joy.

Because all is grace,