Thursday, October 29, 2020

10/29/20 FAVORITE BAPTISM MEMORIES #4 — After our icy baptism adventure, I asked the church leaders to “fix it.” A few days later, they told me they had taken care of it.

As I prepared to enter the pool, I noticed steam billowing off the surface. As I stepped into the water, I almost screamed out in pain. The water was (nearly) BOILING HOT! I am quite hot-natured and a heavy sweater. As sweat poured out of every pore in my body and my glasses fogged up so completely I was nearly 100% blinded (after that I always took off my glasses before baptism), I tried to conduct the ordinance with some semblance of dignity. But as the toes of each candidate touched the surface, they drew back with a gasp. I told each one to take a deep breath—surely they could stand it for a few seconds. Somehow we all got through it, clean as a whistle, and red as a beet all over!

Turns out, my men had purchased a heater for a cattle feeder. It was basically a giant electrified horseshoe, with not much of a temperature control. After that we tried to postpone baptizing in the winter until freezing weather had passed. Whew!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

10/28/20 FAVORITE BAPTISM MEMORIES #3 — The land on which our church was built had been donated by the farmer who owned all the adjacent property. And the facilities were 50 years old when I first arrived to be their pastor. Not surprisingly, lots of its features were not exactly “up to code,” shall we say. People continued to be saved, praise the Lord; so we were baptizing regularly. And it seemed that nearly every baptism was a new challenge and adventure.

Once, in the dead of winter, 3 or 4 new believers were anxious to be baptized. That Sunday morning as I stepped into the water, I immediately noticed that it was FREEZING COLD. My feet were nearly numb and the rest of me was, perhaps literally, advancing to hypothermia. The very first candidate was a young lady. As I took her hand to help her down into the water, she gasped, “Pastor Ed, are you OK? You’re BLUE all over!”

I turned to the candidates assembled on the stairs, just out of view of the congregation. I told them that they only needed to be in the freezing water for a very few seconds—they would be OK! But I was NOT too sure about ME! I think my teeth had stopped chattering just in time for me to preach.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

10/27/20 FAVORITE BAPTISM MEMORIES #2 — A few weeks later a second person became a new believer; so we scheduled his baptism for the next Sunday morning. When I arrived a few minutes before Sunday School, my two deacons came to warn me, “Pastor, there’s something dead floating in the water. YOU need to get it out!” “What makes you think that’s MY job?” I argued, to no avail.

I found and bent a coat-hanger and climbed onto the edge of the baptismal pool. There was a bright green (from the chlorine!?) dead rat, about a foot long, floating on the surface! Well, I fished the carcass out of there and tried not to lose my breakfast. Anyway, with all the chlorine in the water, I figured it was still safe. So we went ahead with the baptism—no one else even knew about it until much later! (In the midst of the Covid-19 mess, lots of you are probably thinking I was foolish. Oh, well, probably not the first or the last time!)

Monday, October 26, 2020

10/26/20 FAVORITE BAPTISM MEMORIES #1 — Visiting Pastor Dr. Tommy Green delivered a masterful, powerful message this morning about biblical Salvation and Baptism. I’m still praying that lots of people who did NOT respond at the time will think and pray long and hard and follow through soon!

Along the way he shared a couple of amazing experiences as he baptized some new believers. That brought to MY mind some of my most vivid memories surrounding baptisms. So, please, bear with me as I interrupt my “ONE ANOTHERs in the NT” series for a few days.

The first church I pastored was a rural church in central Virginia. Their water came from a well on the property. As I preached evangelistically with all my might, after a very few weeks, a man was saved. We scheduled his baptism for the following Sunday morning. No one had been baptized there for at least a couple of years. As he and I entered the baptismal pool, I heard a strange, gurgling sound; also I noticed a red tinge in the water. Turns out RED MUD was pouring out of the pipe into the water. By the time we were done, both of us were covered in it! Even so, it was a GREAT way to begin my pastoral ministry experience!