Tuesday, February 16, 2010


This past Sunday, we celebrated baptism at our church with two people being baptized in our services and 5 or 6 more in other services. I really like the way we do it and decided to share some of the ideas I've seen at this church and others.

As a Christian, I believe that baptism is a sacred ceremony, an act of obedience. I don't believe it's a requirement to get into heaven, but it's certainly a good idea. I think that baptism is a sign of a previous act. You first accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and then you are baptized, just as Jesus was baptized.

At our church, the baptismal has room for people to stand behind it. As a person is baptised, family and special friends (typically 2-5 people) walk behind the baptistry and look down adoringly at the soon-to-be-wet person. The pastor introduces the person and mentions some people, typically in the congregation, who were significant in bringing this person to Christ. These people stand in support of the individual. Sometimes the pastor points these out to the individual. I am often reminded of the verse "Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses," the witnesses serve as a reminder to the individual.

Our pastor says "I now baptize you my brother (or sister) in Christ" as he dunks the person under the water. I've often joked that he holds former Methodists under the water just a little longer. One pastor, would always say "Buried with Christ in baptism, risen to walk in newness of life." I like this, but it's certainly not required.

I've head of some pastors who make a big deal out of "getting your baptism on the right side of your salvation." The idea is that a lot of people were baptized at a young age, before they really accepted Christ. The individual needs to be re-baptized as a sign of their true conversion. I understand this and agree with it, but I certainly don't make a big deal about it. If baptism is just a sign (and I believe it is) then it really doesn't make a difference. In fact, if someone was never baptized, it really wouldn't matter. I would have questions about someone who said they don't want to be baptized, but that's a separate subject. It's a sign of obedience.

What ceremony do you have around baptism?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Tim Tebow ad - what's all the fuss about?

Ok, I admit I was disappointed. I was expecting more. After all, I was told it was divisive. Instead, all I saw was a mother who worries about her son "Timmy". She called him her "miracle baby" and explained "he almost didn't get into this world." She says she can remember so many times when "she almost lost him" and says "it was so hard."

Then she goes on and says "well, he's all grown up now and I still worry about his health." My initial thought was that this was an ad for Flintstones Chewable Vitamins. Then she says that "with all our family's been through, you have to be tough" and she gets tackled by Tebow. Both pop back up. In the end-of-commercial music, she tells little Timmy that he's "not nearly as tough as I am."

So where's the divisiveness? Where's the anti-choice message? Where does Tebow offend people?

Looking for offensive divisive material, I looked at the website mentioned in the ad http://www.focusonthefamily.com. Once there, I clicked on the "Watch now" button to watch the story. Tim's mom and dad do a sit-down interview where they tell the story. Mrs. Tebow explains her point of view and her choices. You may disagree with them, but they are her choices and her beliefs. You may think (as one other video I watched explained) that a belief like her's is like a belief in Tinkerbell. But she doesn't force or even suggest that anyone else should follow her beliefs.

I know that I have seen the birth of three precious children. There were times during those pregnancies where I wondered if we would see that child, if we would make it through the current illness or the depression or the personal struggles we were going through. We never faced major struggles, but we knew some who did. I felt like I could empathize with Pam Tebow.

Towards the end of the video, the narrator asks the Tebows what they would tell someone facing an unwanted pregnancy. Mrs. Tebow tells them that they have options and choices and mentions pregnancy crisis center.

So here's my suggestion. If you're interested in the Tebow story, go view it online. I will warn you that you will hear a lot about how God influenced their lives. If that scares you or bothers you, don't watch the video.

I also have a special request to Christians that read this. Watch the video. Learn the style and techniques the Tebows use. It's not offensive and will reach many more people. And pray. Pray for the Tebows. They've already been under attack and I'm afraid it will grow worse. There are those out there that would love to jeer at Tim Tebow if he were to fall. He has an important job to do and he can't afford to be distracted.

Friday, February 05, 2010

No one should go broke....

I've been planning this post for a while, and then I just heard a comment on the radio from President Obama. He said that "no one should go broke, because they happen to get sick in this country." This is based on his pitch for health care. I thought, that the same thing applies in this situation.

My post focuses on a young couple, the Holts,  who were following the American dream. They bought a house and were raising their family. Unfortunately, their dream became a nightmare. Their children developed breathing problems to the point that their middle child was forced to take the heaviest dose of steroids a toddler could take. Mom developed migraines, dad - kidney problems. Almost five years after they bought the home, they found the source of the problems - methamphetamine. The previous occupant of the home had been dragged out of the attic by police and busted for making meth.

Meth fumes can permeate the drywall, carpet, insulation and air ducts and in this case, caused the Holts' illnesses. Cleanup of their home will cost about $30,000. The article where I found all of this information (here) detailed two other situations that were similar. Two other families' lives wrecked. To paraphrase the president - "No one should go broke in pursuit of the American dream."

Now the Holts clearly are not at fault in their situation (based on the story anyway), but who is at fault and who will pay for the cleanup? Clearly the previous occupant is at fault, but he's in jail and can't pay for the cleanup. It's not clear if they had a home inspection that should have shown the problem, but after five years, you would begin to wonder about limits of liability and statutes of limitations. They probably have a mortgage, they could walk away and leave the bank holding the meth house. But then why should the bank lose their investment? Home owner's insurance doesn't cover meth lab clean-up.

It's clear to me this is a problem and no one should go broke. The Holts have reached out to their community and the community is helping some, but new hospital visits and sporadic donations have limited their financial recovery. So, where do they go from here?

I'm afraid I don't have an answer, but I do know something that isn't the answer. I know this isn't a federal problem. The state has a mandate (through Medicaid) to provide medical assistance to the needy. The bank who holds the mortgage took some risk when they loaned the Holts money for the house, they should step up to some of the responsibility. But the majority of the burden will (and should) fall on the Holts, who through no fault of their own, made a very bad choice in homes.

As compassionate Christians, we should reach out to help people like the Holts. No one should go broke. But that doesn't mean the federal government should step in. The meth house clean-up or to health care.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Happy Groundhog Day

I started to do a blog post about how PETA wants to rid Groundhog Day of that weather forecasting rodent Punxsutawney Phil and replace him with a robot. But I decided most people already knew about that. If you don't, see the article here.

Instead, I'll tell you how we celebrated Groundhog Day in our family. As best I can remember it was 1991 and my youngest daughter would have just turned 5 a little over a month before. As she was in daycare, she was involved in creating projects all of the time. This year she brought home groundhog hats. (This may have started in 1990 and was repeated in 1991).

On a paper plate, someone had drawn a groundhog. He filled up most of the plate and his lower abdomen almost touched one side. Then, they carefully cut out around little Phil and pulled it out so that he stood up. A few holes punched in the sides, a string around your chin and Eureka! you have a groundhog hat.

I searched the internet for a picture or a lesson plan related to these hats and couldn't find out. This must have been an original creation. Anyway, we had to wear groundhog hats for dinner that night. Of course, I told my friends about it the next day at work and got a good round of laughs.

This year, I'm away on a business trip for Groundhog Day and I doubt I'll be wearing a groundhog hat. But I certainly will be thinking of one.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Dulles Station

I'm in DC this week for a business meeting. Our meetings are in an office complex called Dulles Station (see here). I ended up arriving a day early, so I had some time to find the office and look around a bit. What I saw was an urban community much like ones I've seen in Richmond, Bethesda, and to a lesser degree even Charleston and Greenville, SC. These communities pop up in most cities (I know Charlotte was headed towards one when I left) and combine office, retail and housing (typically apartments/condos).

So why am I blogging about it? It's the economic statement. No, this isn't a sign of a turn-around or the stimulus package. I'm trying to keep this a-political and besides, Dulles Station first opened in April 2007 (according to their sign). Instead, I'm making a comment about the long term economic impact. I believe this country is basically strong and will continue to be that way in spite of the actions of the previous president and the current one. Dulles Station has some big names in the area. Strayer University has a big office there (not sure how many offices they use, but it's a big building). And there are others in the general area: BAE systems (air defense), XO Communications (telecom), DLT Solutions (hardware reseller for Oracle) and GTSI (Government IT) were just some of the names I saw.

There's lots of small business in the area too. Several fast food restaurants as well as some nicer places. A near-by strip mall boasts two Chinese restaurants and a Sushi place (seems like redundant repetition). What strip mall wouldn't be complete without a dentist's office, an animal hospital, a rug/floor center and a Staples. And of course, the area has at least 3 or 4 Starbucks.

As mentioned, there are lots of apartments in the area. The ones at Dulles Station seem to cater to those who work in the community itself, but then there are several more apartments in the general vicinity. While I would have thought these were mainly for young singles, I did see a couple of kids that had made a nice snow fort (I wish I could have gotten a picture). And their are lots of schools in the area, one on a road named EDS Road (HP - the new "owner" of EDS has at least two facilities on that road).

As I mentioned earlier, I've seen these kinds of places before in other locations. It makes me feel good to see the growth. I'm sure some of it (in this area a lot of it) is related to government spending. Some of it is related to "green" spending (green as in $$) and some of it is likely related to companies trying to cash in on the stimulus money. But it means jobs and hopefully a brighter tomorrow.