That’s right…6 days in and it is time for the first update of the year! I like the freshness of a new year, but I’m not a big New Year celebrator (I was in bed by 11pm on the 31st). However, there is a lot of change is on the horizon for the Chandler family in 2013 and we are excited about the things God has in store. We are seeing incredible things come together with raising support to go on staff with eMi and are astounded by God’s provision so far! We also know that we have some of the most amazing friends as partners in this ministry and we are so blessed by each of you! While we have not quite reached our budget goal of monthly supporters, we know that God will provide those ministry partners in His timing as well as selling our house. We ask that you please be praying for those things.
Sarah and I will be in Colorado later this month for staff training and we could not be more excited for the timing of that. Church of the Highlands just started 21 days of prayer and fasting today, which the church has done every January since they began meeting. I am so thankful for this because I never really understood the principle behind the discipline of fasting until I participated in this with Highlands 4 years ago and my life has not been the same since. Prayer and fasting has obviously played a significant role in allowing Sarah and I to hear from God about our current involvement with the ministry of eMi. It just so happens that a similar style church to Church of the Highlands in Colorado Springs called New Life is also doing a time of prayer and fasting that started today as well and they are actually having prayer gatherings available 24 hours a day during this time. We hope to participate in some of these gatherings while we are there. After we get back from Colorado we are hoping to finish up raising support and then move out there early this year. We are trusting God to work out the details.
I am also excited to share the most important update so far of 2013 for our family. Today, our oldest son, Jack, made the decision to get baptized! Church of the Highlands gave people the opportunity to get baptized immediately following the services today, because what better way is there to start off a new year than allowing God to make you brand new and displaying that through baptism! Jack had actually first asked to get baptized last year in April when he was four, and Sarah and I were honestly unsure what to do. We asked Jack if he understood why people get baptized and why he wanted to do it, and at the time his answers were right on. Still, we weren’t sure if he was simply repeating what he had heard or if this was him really wanting to outwardly display a commitment to follow Christ. So, we have spent the past several months through our family bible reading times and worship as well as through everyday conversations gauging how much Jack was truly understanding about having a relationship with Christ and what that means.
I was baptized at an early age, and I remember having a very basic understanding of what Christ did for me at that time, but I also chose to get baptized again when I was in high school out of a broader understanding of this incredible relationship. So when Jack first mentioned wanting to be baptized I wanted to protect him from doing anything he wasn’t completely understanding and that would potentially cause confusion for him later in life. Honestly, when I got baptized the second time I was unsure if the little I knew as a child was enough. Now, I look back and see that as a teenager I still didn’t have it all figured out (shocking I know) and I have actually come to terms with the fact that I will never have it all figured out in this life.
Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:9-13 NLT)
That has been my growth experience and I am no worse off because I ended up having two water baptisms to get me to where I am today (only to still see things imperfectly). I now realize that my baptism as a child was pure and faultless in the sight of Christ. If anything I have since tried to over complicate the depths of Christ’s love and the grace interlaced in His message.
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14 NLT)
So, today Jack wanted to come watch the baptisms and help me hand out t-shirts to those getting baptized. After watching and helping he asked again if he could get baptized. Again, I asked him why he wanted to do that and this time He simply said, “Because I love God!” I talked to him a little more about what that means, and again his answers were right on! I was reminded of the eunuch in Acts 8 who received an explanation of the Good News of Christ and responded by simply saying, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” He didn’t need deep theology, he just needed a basic understanding and child-like faith! I am proud of Jack’s decision to follow Christ and I pray that Sarah and I (with the help of the church) can train him to work out his salvation daily as he comes to understand more and more of Christ’s love!
This is just the beginning of January and I am excited about everything 2013 holds! To God be the glory!