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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Footwashing at a wedding
Wedding ceremony for Mike and JoAnna Gardner
March 12, 2005

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"Teach Them Diligently"

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise" (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).

On Sunday morning two couples gathered at the front of our church to dedicate their babies, the third child for both. It was a blessing to observe these two young couples who are raising their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

One set of parents is a couple who celebrated their 8th wedding anniversary yesterday (photo featured above). I had the privilege of conducting their wedding ceremony and I'm so pleased to see them taking seriously the Biblical instructions Brooksyne and I shared around our dining room table in the premarital counseling sessions.

Pastor performing a baby dedication Baby dedications are a special time when parents make a commitment to the Lord to bring their children to church and to teach them about Jesus in their home. These are tender moments in a church service when parents publicly declare their intent to raise their children in the ways of the Lord.

Of course, you can't script babies or small children so there's always a possibility of something unpredictable happening. Consider the preacher who was holding a rather agitated little fella, arms flailing about, who knocked the preacher's eye glasses off while he was praying over him.

Sometimes the pastor gets it wrong. My brother Pat, who is a pastor in eastern Pennsylvania, recalls a time when he was dedicating a little boy named Joshua but kept referring to him as Caleb throughout the ceremony. At least he had the Bible associations correct since Joshua and Caleb were associated with one another!

Children can also have a potential for misunderstanding such as 
a little four-year-old who, after witnessing his baby brother's dedication, sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His mom and dad asked him three times what was wrong but got no reply, only more sobbing. Finally, the boy cried out, "The pastor said he wanted us to be brought up in a Christian home, but I want to stay with you guys!"

In the wonderful hymn by Barbara Hart titled "A Christian Home" we have these words of guidance and conviction:

O give us homes built firm upon the Savior,
Where Christ is Head and Counselor and Guide;
Where every child is taught His love and favor
And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified:
How sweet to know that tho his footsteps waver
His faithful Lord is walking by his side! *

Maybe Moses was holding a massive baby dedication service when he issued the following challenge to parents recorded in Deuteronomy 6. It presents a timeless responsibility for godly parents: "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."  This speaks of a home permeated with God's truth day in and day out.

As we witnessed the dedications this last Sunday I rejoiced at my association with a remnant staying faithful to the Lord. But my heart was grieved as I consider the increasingly hostile world these little ones will be growing up in. May the Lord richly bless and encourage all young families today and grant prevailing grace upon each home committed to faithfully serving the Lord and building a Christian home.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we pray for our children, that they may grow in faith as they grows in years. May they walk in the ways of Christ, and not in the ways of the world. Keep their steps safe, but should they stumble, we know You will uphold them with Your right hand. When tempted by the devil we pray that You will deliver them and remind them of the Biblical principles they learned from their earliest memories. We commit them to Your loving care and watchful eye. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

A baby dedication is…
  • An opportunity to thank God for the precious gift of a child.
  • An opportunity to publicly declare, as parents, your commitment to abide by Biblical principles and to raise your children according to God's standards. 
  • A benchmark you can return to time and time again.
  • A public expression of the cooperative role the church will have in raising your child.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

* "A Christian Home"  Audio  A sincere family quartet.  This is the song in which we share the first stanza in our message. We haven't heard it in many years and miss singing it. It's hard to find this hymn anymore and it's not in most hymnals. Sung to the tune of Finlandia (Be Still My Soul) by Jean Sibelius it's very singable. The rest of the stanzas are here.

"Find Your Wings"  Video  Mark Harris

"He Gave Me You"  Video  Singer not specified

"I Want To Be Just Like You"  Video  Phillips, Craig & Dean

"Legacy"  Video  Nichole Nordeman

"Let Them Be Little"  Video  Lonestar  I first heard this song at the wedding of the oldest daughter of Pat and Charlotte Mallery, the very first couple I married.

A cute baby dedication with Pastor Chuck Smith illustrating why some baby dedications are funny. Good thing Pastor Chuck doesn't wear glasses!  Video

Today's photo: Mike and JoAnna requested a very special feature in their wedding service, washing each other's feet. I had never seen it before or since but it was a very touching moment. A search on YouTube reveals it is not unique. See here.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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