Friday, September 25, 2009

Let the Children come...

I enjoyed a rare experience recently as I was honored to baptize my youngest grandaughter in church in front of family, friends, and God. On Sunday September 20th, (which was also my birthday - talk about blessings piled upon blessings!) my family gathered in our church, St. John's United Methodist Church in Columbus Grove, Ohio, as I baptized 5-month old Jillian Christine Saris. It was a beautifal fall day as my daughter Bethany, husband Matt, and eldest grandaughter Alexa (Lexi) presented the newest member of their family to the family of God.

I wanted to do something a bit different to commemorate the occasion, so during my sermon I presented three perspectives of baptism. The first was from the perspective of the church, or the pastor's point of view. Dressed in my robe, I talked about how baptism is a command of God. "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Matthew 28:19 It is where God forgives us of our sins. It is where we are "buried with Christ and raised with Him." It represents our death to our old self and to sin, and our rising to new life in Christ.

Then I removed my robe and put my suit jacket back on, and talked about baptism from the perspective of a Christian. I shared how baptism is a public act of obedience to the Will of baptism washes away the old and prepares us for a new life in God. It is a sign of repentence for us, and a symbol of forgiveness from God.

Finally, I took off my jacket, loosened my tie and rolled up my shirtsleeves...I wanted to share my thoughts on baptism from the perspective of a grandfather. I talked about how giving your children to God is a confirmation of our love for God and for the child. I explained that giving our children to God is a clarification of ownership, declaring that our children, and our grandchildren are truly gifts from God. I shared that giving our children to God is a commitment to raise our children in the knowledge and with the help of God. And finally, I shared how giving our children to God is a claiming of God's plan and promises for that child.

Allow me to close this post with this observation...God truly blesses those who put their trust and faith in him. Nola and I consider ourselves to be blessed beyond measure. We love our children (Bethany, Ben, and Brittany) dearly and would do most anything for them. We have embraced our sons-in-law (Matt and Matt) and have found them to be caring, thoughtful men who demonstrate love and devoted attention to their families. And we deeply love our granddaughters (Alexa, Kaitlyn, Jillian, and a player to be named in March!) Knowing that as grandparents we are an integral part of their lives and development is both humbling and joyous.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Friday, September 4, 2009

Let's Take a Drive...

Seems there has been a lot of talk lately about drivers and how bad their driving has become. Matter of fact, there have been several letters to the editor in the local papers around here bemoaning the dangers of the road due to the poor driving habits of many drivers. Want to sound off about inconsiderate drivers? Here's the place and here's your chance. It just so happens that bad drivers are on my top 5 list of pet peeves!

For those of you who are not aware, I was a high school driving instructor for five years. I worked for a local driving school in Van Wert, Ohio with students in both Van Wert and Paulding Counties in Ohio. Oh, the stories I could tell. Let me just say that is is difficult to teach students the right and proper things to do while driving when the majority of the drivers you meet on the road are doing other things.

My wife tells me that I am a different person when I am driving...that I have a tendency to snarl and frown and mutter unflattering remarks under my breath. I must admit, I do have difficulty understanding why people do the things they do once they get behind the wheel of a car. I have come to the firm conclusion that turn signals must be optional equipment in most cars, and that speed limits are just recommendations.

Like most endeavors, I do have one very memorable event that happened to me while in my driver's ed car with a student. One of the lessons I taught was interstate to enter and exit interstates, driving at higher speeds, passing other vehicles, cruise control options and so on. My student was a young lady from Van Wert and we were about to enter US 30, a four-lane highway much like an interstate highway. There we were entering the on-ramp, and I'm trying to explain to her the proper procedures for doing so. "Speed up some so you don't enter the four-lane too slowly, turn your left signal on so others will know where you want to go, turn your head back to the left and look behind you (because there is a blind spot behind your left shoulder and you want to make sure the path behind you is clear).

Well, to her credit, the young lady did exactly as she was told. She hit her left signal, she increased her speed, she looked over her left should to make sure her path was clear, and she slowly turned onto the interstate. However, she kept looking back behind her as the car slowly drifted across the right lane, then the left lane, and was heading for the grass that seperated the four lanes. She was oblivious as to the direction of the car, so I slowly reached over and gently grabbed the steering wheel and pulled the car back to the right.

Needless to say, that little episode got me to thinking...what if I hadn't been there...who watches over us...what is the direction of our lives. Just after World War II ended, a US pilot wrote a book about his flying experiences during the war entitled "God is My Co-Pilot". His emphasis was on the fact that God was with him in his plane during every mission against the enemy. It was a divine presence that kept him safe from harm. I recently spied a bumper sticker that stated, "If God is Your Co-Pilot, Switch Seats!"
Bottom line is this...the bumper sticker was spot this life, we face many challenges, including idiot drivers. If we don't allow God to lead, guide and direct us, we too may be heading for the grass between the pavement. He gently nudges us in the right direction, always keeping us in his loving care.

Let me just leave you with these thoughts...please be careful out there. Your driving habits may be sending the wrong signals to those who are trying to do the right thing on the road. But more importantly, trust God to keep you on the right path in life. :-)