“Jesus Loves the Little Children”

Image result for jesus loves the little children bookI just finished “Jesus Loves the Little Children: Why We Baptize Children” by Daniel R. Hyde. If you’re looking for a short (key word being short, as I do better with short books these days), concise book on this topic, I highly recommend it. However, I must acknowledge that the issue of infant baptism can be very controversial and express that my goal in posting is not to offend or divide. But with this baby boy on the way (eek!), I wanted to make sure I really combed the Scriptures and read from trusted theologians to help discern, as best I can, what the Lord says about it. We may disagree, beloveds, and that is okay. I pray our unity in Christ would not be marred!

My general feeling after reading this book has been excitement over such rich nuggets of wisdom. And so what to do with this excitement (I know I’m nerdy)??? 🙂 I MUST share it with you! Hyde says these things way better than I could, so I’ve picked out a few choice quotations that may bless you and ones that I, selfishly, want to record so I can go back to them in the future. Bravo to you if you get through them all, bravo still if you just skim through them, and bravo to you even if you bow out now. It’s always great to have you visit inkdrops, whether you linger or dodge quickly in and out. Enjoy, beloveds!

Quote 1:

“While we have said that baptism is a sign of God’s saving grace, baptism does not necessarily follow chronologically after a sinner is saved…Since baptism is a tangible way that we have experienced the grace and mercy of God in Christ, it can be a very emotional aspect of our experience as Christians. Many of those for whom this book is intended were baptized as adults in a public setting. I share the same experience. Yet we must not think that our personal experience of testifying to God’s grace before many fellow believers is the litmus test of anyone’s theology of baptism. While baptism can be an intensely moving experience, it doesn’t mean adult baptism is the best way or the only way God intends this sacrament to be used….

…the New Testament does not teach that there is necessarily a chronologically simultaneous relationship between the reception of the sacrament and its spiritual benefits. Consider the way a person heard the Word preached. That person may hear hundreds of sermons before ever receiving the benefits promised in the preached Word. I can testify to this. I grew up in a Christian home, heard Bible stories, attended Sunday school, prayed with my family, heard the Scriptures read, but did not consciously come to faith until I was over seventeen years old. Are we then to conclude that everyone must undergo years of hearing the Word first and before coming to faith? The answer is no. One’s personal experience is not to become the doctrine of the church….Just as the Word of the gospel might be preached to someone at one point but the benefit of salvation may come at a much later point, so too it is with baptism. A long period of time may pass between the time a child receives baptism and the time God brings that child to a saving knowledge of the truth of which baptism is a picture.” (pp. 25, 26)

Quote 2:

In reference to 1 Corinthians 7:14 when Paul says a believing spouse can sanctify an unbelieving spouse: “With regard to children, this text reorients us from an individualistic mindset to a covenantal mindset. Scripture makes it clear that God is a covenant making God, and covenants include children. Thus our individualistic ideas of “making Jesus our personal Lord and Savior” and having a “personal relationship with Jesus” must be augmented. While we and our children are personally to embrace God’s promises, the fact remains that God chooses to work through families. Thus 1 Corinthians 7:14 says that children of believers, or even just one believer, are “holy” to the Lord. Just as the children of Israel were called “holy seed” (Ezra 9:2; Isa. 6:13), so too the children of believers are called “holy” in the new covenant era.” (p. 41) 

Quote 3:

“Even as infants do not understand what it means to be a sinner, to place their faith in Jesus, and to live godly lives, so they do not need to understand what baptism is about. Put plainly, we do not need to know what it means to be a sinner in order to be a sinner. On the other hand, they are received in the grace of Christ’s covenant people even before they can know what that means. Infant baptism, then, is a testimony to the sovereignty of God’s grace, in which he loved us before we loved him (1 John 4:10)….In baptism, we see that God always initiates grace! He “came” to us first in eternity in his plan of election; he comes to us in the power of the Holy Spirit in regenerating us from death to life; and he comes to us before we were even able to believe in him, by giving us the gift of faith so we may be justified. So too in baptism he comes to us first, even as we were helpless children, making a promise of grace to us.” (p. 52)

 

Overflow Is No Deficiency

“Surely, it is no argument of [neediness] in God that he is inclined to communicate of his infinite fullness. It is no argument of the emptiness or deficiency of a fountain, that it is inclined to overflow.” – Jonathan Edwards

 

John Piper alerted me to this quote yesterday, in reference to why God, if He was perfect, complete, and utterly happy in Himself (the Trinity) decided to create the world and man. Piper highlighted the fact that when things are full, complete, good and joyous, the result is it overflows. It abounds. It’s uncontainable. When one is full, our good and right tendency is to share that fullness with others.

As Ransom and I prepare for our son to arrive, there have been those normal vacillating moments from elation all the way to fear of loss. Elation at the privilege to be designated by God as authorities and caretakers of this precious soul. Elation at the thought of meeting our little boy, knowing him, loving him, forgiving him, confessing to him, teaching him, learning from him, and the list goes on. But there is also this fear of a sense of loss in the sweet marriage relationship Ransom and I share. It won’t be “just us” anymore. My attention will be more divided now. There will be another man in my life (albeit, not prioritized as highly as Ransom) vying for my attention. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want the beloved intimacy Ransom and I share to change in any way. Can you catch the faint whiff of selfishness in there? It’s easy to miss and it’s only one layer in this complex heart, but what a joy it is to confess and repent those faint whiffs when the Spirit is gracious to reveal them!

BUT, God has used this quote to enter into that fear and smash it to pieces. If Ransom and I have experienced something good, joyous, full, and satisfying, shouldn’t it be our tendency, our delight to share it with children? It is good and right that our intimacy should extend to them. We want our fountain to be an overflowing, abundant one…not simply a “working” fountain.

I’m not saying that this fear (or other fears) won’t sound good to my heart anymore. But I have been encouraged that this new chapter of sharing the love Ransom and I have been gifted in our marriage, is good and right. This is the way God does relationship and I want to follow in His footsteps. It is a lovely reminder for my heart to settle into this metaphor and it’s a challenge to share open-heartedly, with welcome and abandon, the love we have with our son. Help me to do so, Lord. Amen!

Posting My First Paper!

It’s about time, since I’m going to graduate next month (ow ow)!

This was an easy peezy, short, and fun paper due today! The task was to share a non-scriptural resource that has impacted our lives and could be used in a counseling context. In fact, a blog post I wrote back in 2011 called “Jesus Everywhere” inspired my resource choice (you’ll see I copied parts of the blog post, though it doesn’t count as plagiarism since it was my own writing). 🙂 To get you in the mood, I thought I’d share this video. Enjoy!

 

In the spring of 2011, my family sat around the table eating pancakes for dinner. My sister asked if we had ever read The Giving Tree because the book came in the mail for her earlier that day. I wracked my brain trying to recall the moral of the story, or even just the mood. I knew of the famous children’s book. I am sure I read it at one time or another. The only thing I could remember was that distinctive cover: green, a tree towering over a little boy looking up at it. Not being able to withstand my ignorance any longer I said, “Story time.” I put down my syrupy fork and reached out for the book. I read the story aloud, showing pictures to my family like I would to a Kindergarten class. And my mind kept darting ahead, trying to predict Shel Silverstein’s ending. But it went in a more tragic direction than I had expected. The tree gives to the little boy throughout the years. First it’s her apples, but as the boy gets older he demands more and more of her, until she’s chopped down to a stump. And at last, when he’s an old man, she says she has nothing left to give. But then she realizes she does have something, and she invites him to sit on her stump to rest. “And the boy did. And the tree was happy. THE END.” Both Dad and I had silent tears. Who would have known that such a little book could conjure up such emotion? ”Jesus.” I said it again, “Jesus. For some reason this makes me think of Jesus.”

This story points to the God of Scripture and his relationship with us. First, as the tree delights to give to the boy, so God delights to give to his people. This reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:11, “ If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” The lie Satan set loose in Eden was that God does not want good things for his children—Jesus’ words set the record straight. Secondly, every time the tree sees the boy and gives parts of herself, the narrator repeats, “and the tree was happy.” Does this not echo God’s exuberance and excitement over being in relationship with us? Zephaniah 3:17b affirms this, “…he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” In addition, like the boy, we are too busy. We pursue all the things he does- money, a wife and family, a house, and a boat. He hurt the tree to get what he wanted, and so we squander God’s grace in pursuit of worldly treasures. Though the tree suffered, she was still so excited to see the boy, and she loved him. The tree’s unrelenting love harkens back to the parable of the Prodigal Son where the Father (representing God the Father) runs out to the meet the wayward Son, even though the Son had greatly maligned him. What an unexpected and unhuman welcome!

Most powerfully, the tree gave all of herself to the boy (apples, branches and trunk) to the point that she had nothing left but a stump—yet even that she eagerly gave to the boy! Christ, too gave all of himself for us, even his very life. And he did that by “climbing up a tree,” a different tree, to suffer and die for us. Philippians 2:7-8 describes Christ’s sacrifice: “ but [Christ] emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus emptied himself and died so we might live a glorious life and eternity with him. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). That is the Giving Tree. That is Jesus.

This story surprised me by the powerful depiction of the nature of God’s love. His love is perfect and almost unfathomable. After our read aloud, I realized a lie had crept into my heart; the lie that God is distant and unforgiving. The Giving Tree compelled me to explore Scripture—was the tree’s unconditional love for the boy like God’s love for me? Does God delight in me that much, want me that much, is he willing to sacrifice everything, even though I’m such a sinner? The verses I mentioned are only a sliver of those I found proving God’s sweet and intense love for me. In all my sinful estate, God sacrificed what was most valuable to him, his perfect son, Jesus Christ, for my sake. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). This truth, prompted by the story of The Giving Tree, changed me in that I strive and pray to be the “anti-boy.” Spending as much time with the tree as I can, cultivating thankfulness, and turning away from earthly treasures are a few ways I attempt to do that. Moreover, the selflessness of the tree and her rich love are held out as a beacon before me.

In conclusion, the most obvious counseling application is to read The Giving Tree to a child in order to explain God’s love to them. However, not only did the story touch my heart as a woman in her 20s, but it also touched a man in his 60s, my Dad. God can use anything, even a children’s book to share his truth. Read this story to any aged counselee when in need of demonstrating the extreme measures God has undergone in order to be in an intimate relationship with them. No matter how we have maligned God, his love is greater. Does that not burn a fire in our hearts, springing us into action? Does that not ignite within us a love to worship, serve, and please him? Let us live today in light of such sacrificial love, as servants of the Man on–now off–the Tree.

The Good Samaritan and Abortion

In my New Testament for Ministry class yesterday the professor shared some key points about this well-known parable I had never noticed before and a powerful application. You can read the parable in Luke 10:25-37 here.

The lawyer asks, “Who is my neighbor?” Basically implying that he wants to know the minimum requirement involved in loving one’s neighbor. But after we read the parable, we see Jesus has changed the question completely. It’s not “Who is my neighbor?” but rather, “Who can I be a neighbor to?”

Richard Hays speaks of this call to love everyone around us in regards to abortion: “The issue is not whether unborn children are our neighbors, but will we be a neighbor to them?” Hays says, “Jesus, by answering the lawyer’s question with this parable, rejects casuistic attempts to circumscribe our moral concern by defining the other as belonging to a category outside the scope of our obligation.”

Lord have mercy on me, and help me to love everyone as my neighbor. Sweet Father, help us to fervently seek out ways to love across divisive boundaries, including the one of inside/outside the womb.

Sweet Tears

You’ve probably all seen this viral video, but it’s too good not to share. It’s powerful to see how engaged and moved this baby is by her mother’s song when she’s so little. She’s “weeping with those who weep!”