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Posts Tagged ‘Beach’

One of the main events at Gauntlet each year is the sunrise baptism in the ocean.  This year 1400 persons waded into the Atlantic Ocean to be baptized in a pattern followed by  Christ-followers for close to 2000 years.  Baptism is a rich symbol in the Christian faith.  In baptism we are identifying with Jesus is His death and burial as we plunge under the water.  In rising out of the water we are connecting with His resurrection from the dead.  Baptism is an outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace God has given us in our salvation.  By baptism we proclaim we are followers of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

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Even as organized as our church has become through the 10 previous Gauntlets, baptism of 1400 people takes some time and creates quite a spectacle.  Below are a few pics of the service.  Three short vignettes stand out to me.

First, we met and spoke with Maddie as she provided Life guard support.  I explained how Jesus is real and that baptism is a person’s next step after accepting Him as their savior.  Maddie is at a life change point as she enters her final year in college.  She has questions about what she is going to do with her life.  As we walked away after praying with her, I could sense the Holy Spirit stirring in her heart.  I pray that she too will soon be baptized and experience the joy and peace that Jesus gives.

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The next shots are from the lifeguard seat in the middle of our service.  One of the staff came up to me and pointed out the man kneeling in the sand to the south of our group.  He had wandered up early in the baptism and, after chatting with some of our folks, fell to his knees and remained there for the entire time I was there – close to an hour that I know of.  His posture of prayer over our group remains one of the most poignant images for me of the week.  It also reminded me that there were literally thousands of people back home praying for us before and during the Gauntlet.

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The final Baptism morning vignette was when Greg, Dylan and I held our devotion on the pier.  We wanted a vantage point where we could continue to observe and pray for the baptism service, but also open the Word and see what God had in store for us.  As we finished an older gentleman from the restaurant on the pier approached and asked what was going on up the beach.  I shared about the baptism and Gauntlet which lead to an engaging conversation with Mark.  A one-time minister, Mark had slipped and backslidden to the point that he had ended up on the streets.  A year and a half earlier he decided he had to turn his life around so for 16 months he had worked at the restaurant and was staying away from the drink and other temptations that had caused him to fall.  We prayed with Mark.  I was blessed as my guys were fully engaged in the conversation, even encouraging Mark to watch the services on-line.

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So many people… so many God-stories… so many miracles… such an amazing God.

The next post will be about the worship.  The one after that is about one of the mighty miracles that occurred and which is continuing to play out in a most marvelous way.

God is moving… the wave started in the student section and it is growing in intensity.  Come Lord Jesus – overwhelm us with more of you.

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We are on vacation at the beach for our youngest son’s spring break.  Last night the clouds rolled in with showers and thunderstorms.  I had intentions of getting up early and watching the sunrise on Good Friday morning, but the weather forecast was calling for rain all day on Friday.  I off-handedly said, “Well I guess there won’t be a sunrise tomorrow.”  My wife, whether knowingly or not said something that this morning seems rather profound.  “Honey, there’s always a sunrise.  It’s just that not everyone sees it.” 

As I reflect upon her statement this morning I realize that her statement is true whether she meant sunrise or Sonrise.  It is sad, but all too true that we often miss the meaningful because we have our eyes, our thoughts, or our attention on the trivial.  As I sat in the sand this morning with grey, scuttling clouds racing by overhead and the merest hints of color in a few scattered openings in the otherwise thick clouds, I thought about the sun that is out there rising behind those clouds.  Other people are in places where they can see it clearly and they know the sun is there.  I have seen the sun rise before and the brightening sky tells me that even though I don’t see him he is still there.  But for some all they can see are the clouds, the rain, and the disruption of their plans.  Sitting in the sand waiting and listening I saw much that I would not have noticed otherwise…

Pelicans, an otherwise odd-looking bird, looking so graceful as they fly up the beach in groups of from 3 – 25 in swooping lines just inches above the crashing surf.

The undulating pattern of the sand dunes covered with sea oats forming both a scenic and protective barrier for the homes and villas behind.

The furthest sawgrass toward the ocean.  Standing at the very edge of the surf, this little tuft gets the abuse of wind, wave, and the occasional beach walker, yet still holds his ground… literally.

The sky itself with a few pink highlights to the east and south while looking foreboding with dark greys and blues to the north and west. 

And then remembering that by this time on Good Friday, Jesus had already been tried and convicted in a mock trial, beaten within the confines of the Jewish council, and was probably on his way to be whipped by the Roman soldiers.  Still ahead the long walk to Calvary carrying His cross until He was no longer able.  The nails hammered through his wrists and feet to affix Him to the cross.  Then the unbearable pain as the cross is raised to the vertical and all the weight of His body rests upon the three nails… 

And His cry after hours of pain and suffering – “My God, My God.  Why have You forsaken Me?” 

God didn’t answer out loud, but His answer resonates today – “Because I love them.”

People say that Valentines Day is the Day of Love.  I disagree.  It is a day of romance and while love is an essential component of true romance, Valentines Day is not the ultimate demonstration of love.  The most amazing demonstration of Love was on the original Good Friday.  Jesus, pure and innocent Jesus, offered up for us.  He loves us more than we can comprehend.  God loves us so much He offered up His Son.  Jesus loves us so much He offered up Himself. 

If you know Him, please join me in worship and adoration of our loving Lord. 

If you don’t already know Him, please consider His offer of love.  He will not force Himself upon you.  But He does desire your response.  He loves you and wants to fill you with His love.  It is the best thing in all the world.

Have a blessed day today.

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