[A] few days ago we had another baptism weekend at Central. I spoke about the idea of things beyond explanation and the fact that life with God is more than coincidence. We were blessed to witness 193 submit to Christ in baptism across our four campuses! You can watch the message in the video above.
I want to share a couple of incredible stories that were emailed to me. The first will make you laugh and the second might bring you to tears. A couple of things to keep in mind as you read are the fact that there were two references to the movie Nacho Libre in the service (announcement video one-liner and “baptism” scene at the beginning of the message). Also, I have changed certain parts of their emails to keep it vague.
Just got back from church today and wanted to share our story with Jeremy and Central. Our family happened to watch Nacho Libre last night (for about the 12th time) since we hadn’t seen it in awhile and the Muppets movie happened to have a crack in it. Out of our vast video collection we somehow randomly chose Nacho. To our surprise this morning we found Nacho Libre references (coincidence?) and soon found the sermon was to be about coincidences. It wasn’t long into your sermon I noticed the towels up front and I already knew my wife and I were going to be baptized this morning. She had mentioned wanting to be baptized together before, but I was always hesitant. Well, this morning I had no excuse since the church was so prepared. So, just wanted to thank you for the opportunity for us to get baptized together and how much it means to us. Keep up the good work and God bless!
Iâ€™ve been away from Central working on healing from my sudden and unexpected divorce. This last weekend was my first time back in over a year. After settling my three boys into their respective classrooms, I made it toward the worship center and was warmly welcomed back by three people I know.
As the service started I had a flood of emotions sharing the same space with my ex-wife and the boyfriend she had an affair with. As Jeremy shared the story of Philip and the Ethiopian, God highlighted Acts 8:33 for me and the idea of humiliation. He showed me how I allowed my humiliation to drive me away from the church where I came to know Christ and where Pastor Cal baptized me years before. I also felt a connection to Jeremyâ€™s story of the bank representative struggling with pre-marital sex as this is a temptation I deal with in post-divorce dating. I was overwhelmed by the lack of coincidence that God would highlight these two items for me.
I started to think about my ex-wife and her boyfriend, allowing God to soften my heart to the possibility that maybe theyâ€™re just two sinners like me, trying to do the best they can. I joined the church in praying for everyone in the room to take the step of baptism. Maybe it was the combination of the non-coincidences and warm welcomes or simply God standing in the gap of my hurt, but either way I surrendered, promising God that wherever he leads, I will follow.
Enter non-coincidence number three as my ex-wifeâ€™s boyfriend walked down the steps into the baptistery. I had the opportunity to make that promise a reality as he came up out of the water. I was comforted knowing his sins; including his sins against me had been washed away. As my tears flowed, I felt released from the burden of the anger and resentment Iâ€™ve been carrying. Following Godâ€™s prompting, I met my ex-wifeâ€™s boyfriend as he returned to the worship center after his baptism and was the first to shake his hand and hug him, congratulating him on his profession of faith. To say he was shocked or surprised is an understatement.
There were so many stories like these from this weekend that I find myself reflecting on the awesomeness of God. I don’t need to look for him in the words of a page or in the depth of theology aloneâ€”He is moving all around us!