Beach Baptisms and More . . .

In last week’s blog, I shared the amazing vacation that Dave and I took with the Love Song Couples Getaway—our second vacation with this God-centered group. Read in two earlier blogs how we discovered this group and about our trips to Maui and the Bahamas. Both of these vacations overflowed with fun and friendships, but we also had great worship and Christian teaching that challenged us to strengthen our marriages and our walk with the Lord. On both trips, there was an invitation to accept Jesus as your Savior or rededicate your life, followed by beach baptisms.

On the beaches of Maui, 87 people, including a young boy passing by, were baptized in the ocean and 39 people were baptized in the Bahama’s ocean. What a celebration that was and an amazing memory for all those who experienced the joy of making a public statement of faith and for those of us who prayed for them and cheered them on.

Chad and Andrea Burnell  (Idaho Falls} being baptized by Pastor Jim Wright in the Bahamas

 

More new friends: Holly and Bob Isenberger (WY) Jackie and Steve Riley (WA) and Dave and me celebrating with Chad and Andrea after their beach baptism

 

Why Be Baptized?

Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change of heart when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior. We believe that Jesus is who He said He was—the Son of God who died to bear our sins so that we might have eternal life. We receive salvation by admitting we have sinned, asking for the Lord’s forgiveness, and believing that Jesus Christ died for our sins and arose three days later to offer eternal life with Him to those who believe:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

Jesus said there was no other way. We cannot work our way into Heaven with good deeds and someone else cannot make the decision for us—not our parents, our spouses, our friends, or our church—it’s our personal decision. Only we can determine whether we believe in Jesus, and we need to be old enough to understand and acknowledge what it means to make Jesus Lord of our life.

 
Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist symbolized what Jesus was soon going to do for us on the cross—dying, being buried three days, and then rising again. Immersion water baptism of a person who has accepted Christ as their Savior, symbolizes dying with Christ to their old sinful life and rising up out of the water a new person in Christ.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” Matthew 3:16

The baptism itself does not save us or make us Christians, just as wearing a wedding ring doesn’t make us married. The wedding ring shows the world we’re united with and committed to another person, so baptism tells the world we’re united with and committed to Christ.

Baptism is an expression of faith. You must be able to hear, understand, and reason. A christening or infant baptism is a choice made by the parents; a profession of faith baptism can only be made by someone old enough to make decisions for themselves. Peter explained at Pentecost,

“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.” Acts 2:38

There is a progression—we hear, believe, repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness, then publicly profess our faith through baptism, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

My Daughter and Granddaughter’s Baptism

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I talk about praying and fasting that my daughter Kim would want to be baptized after she accepted Jesus as her Savior. My husband Dave and I had the blessing of baptizing Kim and her fiancé Toby two weeks before their wedding. I said at the time, “You give your child their first birth, but what a joy to be part of her being born again in Christ and wanting the world to know!”

The day after we returned home from our Love Song Couples Getaway this year, my 8 year-old granddaughter, Katelyn, was baptized. Katelyn accepted Christ as her Savior last year at our churches VBS, and this year she was ready to be baptized. She’s been attending AWANA’s for three years and Sunday School on Sundays. Her parents felt she was now old enough to understand her decision to follow Christ and they had the honor of baptizing their daughter. Following is the precious video of Katelyn’s baptism—

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

 

 

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Love Song Couples Getaway–Trip Two

Anna and Jason Huff Jerome

 

“We met so many great couples, created a closer bond with two couples – adding to several from last year. For us… It’s renewing, rejuvenating, rewarding, re-energizing in all levels. We love these trips.”—Rachelle Souza, after attending several Love Song Couples Getaways

If you follow me through my newsletters, Facebook, and blogs, you know that my husband Dave and I went on our first Love Song Couples Getaway last year in Maui. You might enjoy reading the blog I wrote about what led us to go on this amazing trip and the blessing it was to us as a Christian couple. I also wrote blog posts describing “The Wonders of Prayerful Handholding” describing how our holding hands to pray while on the trip led to making new friends, “God We Need Friends,” many of which we’ve kept in contact with even though they live in different states!

Trip Two–2014

The last night of the Maui getaway 2013, they announced the Bahamas as an addition to their 2014 trips. Dave was out of his seat signing us up, and we’ve been budgeting and saving all year.

Well, we just returned from yet another amazing Love Song Couples Getaway encounter with each other and with God in the Bahamas! Again, we made new friends from all over the USA, even met couples from Idaho, and renewed friendships from last year.

Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, was our keynote speaker, and if you ever get a chance to hear him in person, he’s an awesome communicator  . . . and funny. His messages were biblical and practical. He shared with us how his early years of marriage were not as blissful as he had anticipated and how their differences almost split them apart until he learned three key questions:
1. Honey, what can I do to help you?

2. How can I make your life easier?

3. How could I be a better husband (wife)?

When Dr. and Mrs. Chapman learned how to serve each other, their marriage soared. We had the pleasure of also meeting the delightful Mrs. Chapman, who accompanied her husband on the trip.

Dr. Chapman talked about the 5 Love Languages, but he also told us about the 5 Apology Languages, Dealing Effectively with Our Failures, Learning to Forgive, and The Grace of Anger. Every topic was applicable to your marriage or any relationship.

Me with Dr. Gary Chapman

Magnificent Worship

Mac Powell of Third Day, Brandon Heath, and John Micah led our worship time and performed concerts that had us on our feet singing and pleading for more, while they also shared parts of their lives with us. They sang to us on the beaches of Paradise Island as the sun rose over the ocean, during a Blue Lagoon beach outing, under the stars during sunset, in a restaurant after a sunset catamaran cruise, and in the ballrooms of the Atlantis Hotel. Their powerful messages, voices, and instruments flooded the heavenlies above Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

Brandon HeathMorning Worship with Brandon Heath

Just Kids Again

The Atlantis has the most elaborate array of water slides and adventures in the world. Hubby Dave and I relaxed on the Lazy River floats; and yes, we ventured onto a double tube scary slide that switch backed quickly through a dark tunnel and spit us out under a shark tank! Once was enough for that one!

Hubby and me on the ferry to a beach day at the Blue Lagoon

We renewed our friendships with Calvin and Lisa from Ohio, Karen and Jim from North Carolina, and Ron and Janelle from Illinois—couples we met last year in Maui—and had a great time meeting and making new friends from all over. The Atlantis is such a huge property, if we encountered a couple more than once, we knew it was a divine appointment. We’ll keep in touch with many of the couples we met.

Lisa and Calvin

Ron and Janelle from Illinois

Return to Maui…

Last year in Maui, we made some dear Southern California friends who opted to go back to Maui this year. We’ve been seeing pictures all week on Facebook from that Hawaiian paradise where they also enjoyed Gary Chapman, along with Pastor Greg Laurie, Bart Miller of Mercy Me, Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real, and Leeland. Here they are having fun and fellowship in Maui . . .

Photo: Davis isn't too old to ride on the handle bars!  But it does take the rest of us to hold him up there!

What’s My Message?

Yes, we had great fun and relaxation, but both years our vacation with The Love Song Couples Getaway has also been a time of refreshment for our own ministry and marriage, as well as an opportunity to share a little glimpse of heaven with other believing couples.

If you’re married, I would encourage you to getaway to a couple’s retreat that fits your budget and schedule…well you might have to stretch both…but your marriage is the earthly replica of Christ’s relationship with the church. Dave and I are now on a fixed income and we sacrificed to make an investment in our marriage and spiritual walk to go on these trips. The sacrifice was nothing in comparison with the blessings we received.

If you’re single, find a spiritual retreat or conference to getaway from the franticness of life and spend time with fellow believers and the Lord. Is your church having a retreat or conference or is one coming to your town? Go!

Pastor Jim Wright of Mountain Church Medford, Oregon, was another speaker at our Bahamas and Maui Getaways, and he challenged us to ask ourselves:

 “Do you live with a sense of divine destiny?”

Next to his following comment, I wrote the word Mentoring:

“Learn from the experience of others. You don’t have to learn everything the hard way. Only God can give victory! Choose to remind each other that we are totally dependent on Jesus to live life to its fullest, not just exist.”

Go for it! Live life to the fullest in Christ and help others learn to do the same.

“The trip may end, but the friendships we made with you all continues! That’s the biggest blessing of these trips!” —Vanessa Garcia speaking of friendships we all made on our first Love Song Couples Getaway to Maui

If you missed last Monday’s Love Your Body blog, I wrote about how to eat healthy while on vacation. Next Monday, I’ll share more Love Song Couples Getaway pictures of beach baptisms and the story of my granddaughter’s baptism.

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Love Song Couples Getaway

God’s Call?

Last fall, I was browsing Facebook and the web looking for a picture of the Harvest Crusade for a power point presentation to accompany my testimony at a retreat. 20 years ago, I rededicated my life to Christ at a Harvest Crusade led by Pastor Greg Laurie. When Pastor Greg asked if we were ready to die tonight, I knew at that time my answer would have been, “No.” Even though I had accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of twelve, as a divorced single mom I had spent many years backsliding.

On the Harvest Crusade Facebook page, there was a picture of Pastor Greg Laurie, so I decided to “Like” his Facebook page and saw that he was speaking in Maui in May 2013 at an event called The Love Song Couples Getaway at the Grand Wailea in Maui.

The Love Song Couples Getaway sounded like a perfect way to celebrate and commemorate two major life events. The same night I rededicated my life at the Harvest Crusade, I also heard God telling me to rededicate myself to the godly man He had given me to date, Dave! I did, and we were married 6 months later. So it was not only the 20th anniversary of me rededicating my life, but also our 20th wedding anniversary, which we had talked about celebrating in Hawaii. And Pastor Greg was going to be speaking at the Getaway…this had to be God!

I presented all this to Dave and he said, no. I told him that Mac Powell from Third Day would be leading worship, along with Chris August and Leeland, but still he felt it was too extravagant. So I gave up the cause . . . until December when I saw that they were having a Christmas discount. I again approached Dave, and this time he was more receptive. Several days later, he booked us to go!

The Witness

I was able to witness to so many people about why I thought God was leading us to take this trip. I told them about rededicating my life to God at the Harvest Crusade twenty years ago and that Pastor Greg Laurie would be speaking at the event in Maui, which just happened to coincide with our 20th wedding anniversary. Then I told them about how I had broken up with Dave before the Crusade, but that night we had sat in his car hashing out our relationship until the parking lot of Anaheim Stadium emptied, and how I felt God calling me to rededicate myself to Dave. I told versions of this story to people at the grocery store, hairdressers, family, friends, friends’ of friends, strangers . . . anyone who asked where we were going on vacation! It became quite a testimony.

A Glimpse of Heaven

The trip seemed so far off when we booked it last December, but May 23 we took off for the best vacation of our lives! Imagine Mac Powell, Chris August, and Leeland playing worship music on the sprawling lawn in front of the Grand Wailea chapel with the soft sound of the ocean waves accompanying them, or watching a beautiful Hawaiian sunset while listening to a worship concert by one of these amazing godly musicians. Or listening to Greg Laurie or Pastor Jim Wright (from Oregon) talk about our marriage relationship and our relationship with the Lord.

We all wore blue wristbands for admission into the Love Song events, but the wristbands also allowed us to identify each other on and off the resort. We made many new friends from all over the United States, Canada, and Australia because when you saw the wristbands, you knew this person was “family” . . . the family of God.

It was a glimpse of heaven: a tropical paradise with amazing Christian worship music morning and night and fellowshipping with hundreds of Christian believers.

When they announced where the trip would be next year—back to Maui or Paradise Island in the Bahamas—Dave was one of the first to jump out of his seat to sign up for the Bahamas.

If you’re looking for a vacation that combines Christian teaching, worship music, lots of free time, a chance to make new friends, or just be alone in a beautiful oasis, we highly recommend this God-centered vacation. The young couple orchestrating Love Song Couples Getaway feels it is their ministry to provide outstanding Christian getaways for couples. Dave and I would agree they are definitely fulfilling God’s call!

Mac Powell of Third Day and me                    Getting a book signed by Pastor Greg Laurie