One of the really exciting traditions we have established in our early history at Harvest Bible Chapel of Jacksonville is beach baptisms. There is something truly powerful about taking baptism out of the walls of the church and bringing what we call the “public profession of faith” to a truly “public” venue. Each time we baptize at the beach we have numerous onlookers who are not affiliated with our church and perhaps not at all with Christianity. We bring along printed testimonies of the people who are being baptized that day and distribute them on the beach. These testimonies are accompanied by a simple, biblical Gospel presentation.
Yesterday I checked the local news and was intrigued by the headline story of a Great White shark named “Mary Lee”. It turns out she has been hanging out off the coast of Jacksonville Beach for the past few days. Because the 3,500 pound, 16 1/2 foot Great White is marked with a GPS tracker, one can track her movements. Two nights ago “Mary Lee” came very close to the shore. In fact, according to my calculations she was no more than 20-25 yards from where we stood in October during our latest beach baptism:
Perhaps we should rethink our bi-annual beach baptisms. What do you think? Should we bring the baptisms back into the walls of the local church? Or should be continue “going public” with the baptisms, even if there is a slight risk we will bump into a hungry shark?
My wife and I have taken a stab at growing tomatoes beside our house a couple of times in our marriage. We succeeded in Kentucky. We failed in Florida. Not long after we built our house here in Florida, we decided to plant a lemon tree. In seven years, we have had one season of a decent harvest, getting 18 lemons off the tree.
This year we decided to plant a garden. We did it because I somehow heard about square foot gardening. So for my birthday, my dear wife got me a couple of easy-to-construct garden boxes, and suddenly my intentions were void of excuses.
In less than two weeks, I had cleared a spot in the yard, removed the grass, laid down the weed fabric, constructed the garden boxes, and mixed and filled the soil (1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermeculite, and 1/3 compost). All that was left to do was lay the string to mark off the “square feet” and plant the seeds.
On the evening of Wednesday, April the 13th, we did just that. Below is a chart, showing what we planted, who planted, and when the book says we should expect a harvest. Chase did the calculations on the calendar, so we are trusting his 2nd grade homeschool education is a sufficient foundation for accuracy!
The kids loved the idea of planting a garden and stood there waiting to watch it grow in front of their eyes. At one point in the process, Lacey asked our five-year-old son, “Bryce, do you have a green thumb?” He pulled his right hand up, pointed upward with his dirty thumb, looked at it real good, and said with all seriousness, “No, it’s brown.”
That evening for our family devotional time I read from 1 Corinthians 3:5-9:
5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers.”
We did our part by taking and applying what God has given: seeds, soil, wisdom to know how to plant them. Now we will water it. God will cause it to grow…we hope and pray.