Last week was filled with errands and meetings and phone calls. That's about the same routine for me. It seems to take more time these days to get everything done.....it's not that I am slowing down, is it?.....ha ha. And, there are one or two days during the week in which we take time to watch the grandkids around here (Bailey and Brynnlee), which is so fun and entertaining (or is that draining?...ha).
One of the highlights of the week was driving up to Bakersfield to meet with the man who is starting a new church plant (The Vision Plus Church of Bakersfield). Pastor Michael Dotson, a man with a prison past, is so excited about what God is doing in the midst of his ministry. I attended the Pastors' Breakfast at the local Marie Callender restaurant early Tuesday morning.......I had to leave Rialto about 5 am to arrive on time for the 8 am breakfast. I saw Bill and Jean East (former DOM of Kern County when I was growing up), Norm Aycock (pastor friend for years), Jonathan Morgan (son of a pastor in Bakersfield when I was a teenager). Many more pastors were there that I knew from past years (Sid Peterson, Larry Weatherly and others) that told story after story about my dad and their friendship and love for him! It was so heartening to be with such good friends.
One of the other highlights last week was a private baptism. A young man, a high-control parolee in the Sober Living program that I work with, specifically requested to be baptized with no one present. We talked at length and, because of his desire for this to be a very personal event, I enthusastically told him I would honor his request. Some have questioned my decision, saying that baptism is only to be done in the church setting. In seeking guidance in Scripture, I saw where the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized by the apostle Philip out in the desert with no one around. John the Baptist baptized in the River Jordan without the blessing of the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the day (the Pharisees and Sadducees). I think it is a great joy for others to witness the baptism of believers in the church setting, but it is not imperative nor demanded.
In a similar vein, it is not mandatory for a couple to be married in front of a body of people. Yes, it brings joy to those who attend a wedding but a couple is no less married for having a ceremony performed in private. I recall that my dad and mom were married in the small pastor's office in a church in Shawnee, Oklahoma, with no one else present. That did not invalidate their marriage or make it any less holy!
We must not substitute or impose our traditions and desires on others in their pursuit of living for Jesus!
Anyway, I had the baptistry filled on Thursday morning in the church and did the baptism that evening in the privacy of the young man and his mom and sister. It was a special time indeed!
On Friday afternoon, Sondra and I were out and about and we decided at the last minute to go to the movies. The only movie that we were interested in (at that time slot) was Hunger Games. It was well done and futuristic in content. Sondra did not care for it too much, because of the plot line that required the killing of others in the name of survival.
On Saturday, Sondra and I helped a lady in our chuch who has no transportation. This lady named Rosie, whose older brother passed away about 10 days ago, needed a ride to 29 Palms to attend the funeral. It was a special opportunity for us to share our time and hearts with this dear woman in need. We left early, drove the 90 miles and talked the whole way about God's plan for life. I would guess there were about 60 in attendance for the funeral. It was a good day of feeling the Lord's presence in the midst of sorrow and loss, which may not make sense to some but it is true.
While in 29 Palms, Sondra visited with a lady named Doris Robinson who had just been released from Eisenhower Hospital down in the lower desert. I was able to visit with Doris, prior to attending the memorial service with Rosie and her nephew.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I finally was able to get on Skype with a friend who is doing independent missionary work in the Philippines. Pastor Ed McDowell is recovering from dengue fever, having been hospitalized in Butuan City. Ed and his wife (Yen) talked with me by Skype, but we were a little frustrated because only the audio (and not the video) was working. Anyway, it was great talking and getting an update on his health and what God is doing there.
Yesterday was a good day at church, which seems to be a common saying with me. However, it is such joy to be with God's people and to share in a morning of praise and fellowship and hearing the Word of God proclaimed.