Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
This is a very special day for me. On May 5, 1991, when I was 10 years old, I was baptized and claimed Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. When my dad raised me up from the water I had the privilege of hearing my sweet congregation in my small country church sing, "I have decided to follow Jesus...no turning back..."
I'll never forget the day I made the decision that it was time for me to receive the salvation God was so graciously offering me. After learning so much about the character of God and having grown such a sincere love and desire for a relationship with Him, it was like all of a sudden I thought, I cannot hesitate making this commitment a moment longer; I have to make a statement that communicates this great love. I was desperate for God to know how deeply I longed to follow him for life. To this day, it was the best decision I have ever made, and the greatest gift I have ever received. I have lived 19 years with a faith that has been tested and strengthened, experiences of both great joy and true sorrow, and a hope that's been fueled by a promise of an eternity I cannot comprehend. Through it all I've been overwhelmed by a love I do not deserve, that has carried and held me more times than I can count.
Kevin and I had a beautiful, sweet night of conversation of how God might be leading us right now in our lives, and part of it was about a book from an author I greatly respect and admire. Brennan Manning has written some of the most powerful books I have ever read that speak about a relationship with God that is personal in a way I can relate to. These include The Ragamuffin Gospel, Ruthless Trust, and his latest that we talked about last night, The Furious Longing of God. To end this sweet and special "birthday" for me, the rest of this post will be some words from Manning that I LOVE. He wrote these words in response to reading Thomas Brodie's commentary on the gospel of John.
"...I've decided that if I had my life to live over again, I would not only climb more mountains, swim in more rivers, and watch more sunsets; I wouldn't only jettison my hot water bottle, raincoat, umbrella, parachute, and raft; I would not only go barefoot earlier in the spring and stay out later in the fall; but I would devote not one more minute to monitoring my spiritual growth. No, not one....What would I actually do if I had it to do all over again? Heeding John's counsel, I would simply do the next thing in love."
(excerpt from pgs. 65-66)