Finally Stepping into the Water

Posted by Janelle Webber on

  If you look in my jewelry armoire you will find a several cross necklaces. Within that grouping, the crosses vary in size and shape. However there is one special cross. It is small simple silver cross with a thin delicate chain. It means so much more to me than just representing the...

Finally Stepping into the Water

 

If you look in my jewelry armoire you will find a several cross necklaces. Within that grouping, the crosses vary in size and shape. However there is one special cross. It is small simple silver cross with a thin delicate chain. It means so much more to me than just representing the sacrifice of Jesus; it represents new life, and I wear it often to remind myself.

I stood on stage on a recent Sunday morning as part of the worship team at Severn Run during a celebration of Baptism. I found myself observing a line of people anxiously and nervously waiting for their turn to step into the baptism tub. I was surprised to find my own emotions welling up inside me. The line included adults, children and teens. Each was clad in the church t-shirt depicting new life. As they passed through the tub, each proclaimed who Christ was to them. Words like friend, Savior, mentor and love described the relationships these people shared with Jesus.

As I watched and cheered with the rest of the congregation, tears began to form in the corners of my eyes and they could not be prevented from running down my cheeks. I couldn’t quite understand these feelings of joy for each person being dipped in the water and lifted to new life.

I thought back to the summer of 2004 and my own baptism experience. I had been “baby baptized” as a small child. Although I could not, and still cannot, remember the day or the event I lived on the “I have been baby baptized” statement until I was in my forties. This allowed me a defense to being immersed in water.

That Sunday morning in 2004, I had read my statement of faith in front of the church congregation. It had outlined why I was choosing to be baptized, how Christ had changed my life and that I finally found my true identity in him. I found I was valued and loved. The shame of my past had been wiped away. Through baptism, I would cement that change and announce the new life I had experienced, proclaiming to the world I was a follower of Christ.

That afternoon, as I was dipped in the waters of the St Croix River in Michigan, my friend and senior pastor announced that in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, I was buried to sin and in Christ raised to new life. That day is permanently etched in my mind and that small silver cross in my armoire, given to me that day by mother, is a regular reminder of who I am and who I belong to.

Now I knew why the tears were forming and why my heart was full of joy and excitement as I watched so many enter and exit the tub of water in the sanctuary at Severn Run. I was seeing other Christ followers proclaiming the same for themselves. They too found their place with Christ. They had accepted and clarified in their minds their identity as members of same family - God’s family. We were now all brothers and sisters in Christ, and that brought me to tears of joy.

What is your baptism story? I hope you can relate to and understand all the aspects of the joy of baptism having accepted your identity in the family of God.

If you have not been baptized and you are ready to take the next step of proclaiming your faith, you can sign up to get baptized at Severn Run here.

Maybe your story is different and you’ve not yet come to the fully grasp what is being offered to you. If so and you would like make it your story, you can talk to a Christ following friend or any of the Severn Run church staff. You can find a staff contact by emailing Severn Run here. One of the team of Severn Run people will respond.

It took me nearly 40 years to finally step into the water. Why did I wait so long? Fear. Being self-conscience. Satan’s lies and more. Finally accepting and understanding my identity in Christ brought me into God’s family then and forever. Will you join me in accepting and proclaiming your place in the family too?

Posted by Janelle Webber with

I'm a New Believer - Now What?!

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So you are a new believer! Welcome to the family! You're excited to begin your walk and wondering… What's next? 

You may also be asking things like…

  • How do I become a part of the church?
  • How do I grow in my prayer life?
  • Should I get baptized?

Here's a good place to begin answering some of those questions.

 Grow In Your Personal Relationship with God

Just as we would develop our relationship with a spouse by spending time with them and being in constant communication, we need to develop a relationship with God by spending time with him and being in constant contact.

We communicate with God through prayer throughout each day as we seek guidance and assistance. It is also important to make “quiet time” a priority. A “quiet time” is a time we set aside each day to focus on discussing with God our triumphs, our failures, and our struggles. Many people also read personal Bible studies or devotionals during their quiet time. There are many great resources for these studies online.

You don’t even have to follow a plan to grow your relationship with God. You can simply read a few chapters in your Bible (the books of John or Matthew are a good place to start), and after you read, pray and ask God what he wants you to know from what you read. This kind of daily communication with God will help you grow in your faith and learn how to communicate with and listen to God.

Baptism

Baptism is an important symbol of our decision to declare Jesus as Lord of our lives. There is nothing magical about the personal experience, but baptism brings attention to what God is doing in our lives and that is what makes it such a critical step in a new believer's walk. We have a huge celebration when a new believer rises out of the water, and there is an even bigger celebration in heaven.

Join the Severn Run community

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them. (Matthew 18:19-20)

Throughout the bible, we are encouraged to connect with other believers. An easy way to begin connecting is to join the church. This simply requires attending a Membership Matters class one Sunday afternoon, where we discuss the passions of the Church at Severn Run and hear about all of the places where we can play our parts within the church.

A common saying at Severn Run is that “life is better connected”. This sums up the idea behind Connect Groups, where a group of believers share real-life together. There are Connect Groups covering all stages of life, often with multiple times to fit different schedules. Connect Groups give us the opportunity to grow into real and honest relationship with others. This happens through shared life experiences, friendship and encouragement during our walk with Christ.

Serve

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10)

The final passion of our church is to serve others. There is a limitless number of ways to serve, but what is important is that we find our gift. We find our gift(s) by prayerfully looking for different opportunities to serve and being willing to say “yes” to God when those opportunities arise. This may require us to step outside our comfort zone, but when we have faith, that is when God can really take over in our lives and do wonderful things.

Finally, finding a friend to help you walk through your new faith journey will help you tremendously. The Church at Severn Run is eager to walk beside you as you learn about God’s love for you. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need any help. You can call the office at 410-551-6654. You can email us at

Posted by Zach Baum with

Believer's Baptism

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They emerge from beneath the water to party music and the roaring approval of the crowd. If there’s a celebration in the Worship Center, you can be sure there’s an even bigger celebration in heaven.

Baptism. A public way of showing that you have asked Jesus to be in charge of your life. There’s nothing special about the water. There’s nothing magical about the words that are spoken. There is however, something really cool about taking part in the very same act that Jesus demonstrated for us in the Jordan River. When we follow his example of baptism by submersion we show the world with our body what has happened within the confines of our soul.

Falco was raised in the Catholic church and was baptized as an infant. He started attending services at The Church at Severn Run in April of 2015. He was inspired by the church’s passion for Jesus instead of religion. Each baptism Sunday he watched as people walked down into the waters and came out again. He realized that he had no ownership in the act of baptism that was performed on him as an infant so long ago and felt the Spirit moving him to experience a believer’s baptism. He felt that baptism was an important part in the process of being a fully devoted follower of Christ.

Falco and his fiancé began to meet with Pastor John for premarital counseling. Pastor John asked about his faith journey and suggested that perhaps Falco should to baptized as a first step to entering into a Christ-centered marriage. It was as if Falco had been waiting for that very invitation. He said, “Absolutely!” and he couldn’t wait to dive right in (pun intended).

Kari’s relationship with Jesus began at a summertime VBS as a child. She felt an urgency to be baptized but wanted to make sure it was the right time for her. Fast forward a few years later to a Friday night at Collide (Severn Run Student Ministry). Pastor Chris approached Kari and asked her if she was getting baptized in August. Without thinking, she automatically said yes.

After responding in such haste, Kari began to think through what it means to be baptized and how such a seemingly simple act was going to impact her life. She realized she couldn’t wait to finally get baptized and start a new chapter in her relationship with Jesus. On Sunday, Kari experienced some anxiety about being on the stage in front of so many people. However, once she emerged from the waters she felt like a completely new person. Kari says, “I felt like I could walk on water, but unlike Peter, I can keep my eyes on Jesus.”

Baptism is a personal experience performed in public—not unlike a marriage. For some it may be uncomfortable to be the “center of attention” during a baptism (or a marriage ceremony), but what some may fail to realize is that the attention is on the Lord and HE is not uncomfortable. A baptism is a family celebration that one more brother or sister has been born into the Kingdom of God and it’s an honor and a privilege for us, as the audience, to join the believer in that celebration.

Kari says, “If you are reading this and wondering if you should get baptized, the answer is yes!”

 

The Statement of Baptism

Believing I am loved

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” -Matthew 3:16-17 

Believing I am loved, I agree to be led into nothing less than God's eternal purpose. - This is what we are saying with baptism; it is the statement of baptism! It's not a religous check box, it's not something that we trust for our salvation, it is a statement that we are making at the beginning of a beautiful and unending journey; that's what baptism is! So, if this water would speak, it would speak of love, which is the birth of all real relationship with God. 

Religion somehow knows all the God stuff, but it never has a heart that is softened and touched by love. It never feels the joy of the Father's smile. It never knows the warmth of the Father's embrace or even the gentle whisper of the Father's breath in it's ear! But the person that dares to believe that they are personally and eternally loved by God is on the Jesus path!

You are not hopeless, you are not rejected, you are not ugly, or fated to fail. You are the beloved sons and daughters of God and you are invited to accept your place in the Father's family. But He loves you and will not force you; you cannot force love. It has to be wanted, it has to be given. Jesus knew He was loved, and until our identity is settled in looking into the face of Jesus, we are going to live our whole lives as exhausted posers performing for people like a seal in a circus. Our lives are going to be filled with pain because people can't fill you and no matter how much you tap dance and how many plates you spin, it will never ever be enough! 

Faith connects life's pain to God's love. In baptism we are believing that we are beautifully loved and the truth is, like Jesus, we have to begin with an identity of love. If love is far from your heart, then that's your first step of faith! I don't care whether you feel it, you have to "faith" it; that you are loved, that you are known and that you are wanted! Believing I am loved, I agree to be led into nothing less than God's eternal purpose! -Dr. Drew Shofner

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