Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What an Easter, what a new life

HE IS RISEN!!! What a wonderful phrase for a truly awesome day! How blessed we are to celebrate such an amazing miracle, such an amazing sign of hope.
Matthew 28:5-7 (NIV)
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

I have never, ever appreciated Easter like I did this year. Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins was no longer lost on me. It was no longer just the Easter story but instead it was ‘wow, He did this for ME!’. And what made it even more amazing was that I celebrated it in the most amazing, fitting way... my own baptism. Like Jesus took our sins away as he died and then rose again, I died to the old me as I entered the water and was born again and rose to the new me, the one that follows Christ.
I decided to share some of our service with you in various ways today. Firstly through some notes from our pastor’s sermon, some ‘instructions’ so to speak, on becoming a Christian. Then I will share the ‘long’ version of my testimony (you know me, I’m long winded so it got cut down...a fit the time in the service) and then there is a peak (both a visual and auditory look) into our service.
Pastor Jeff spent a portion of his sermon trying to explain by baptism is a natural, and so very misunderstood at times, part of becoming a born again Christian. A mnemonic device (ohhh such big words Jodie) he used was BORFT.
B – Believe... that’s it, that’s all...just believe that Christ came and died for you, for your sins.
Acts 16:31(NIV) 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

It doesn’t need to be confusing...just simply believe, as the bible tells us to, that we need to be believe and be baptized so that we are saved...
Mark 16:16(NIV)
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

O – Obey… first of all this isn’t just about all the rules you HAVE to follow…Jesus wasn’t full of rules. The most important rule the relates to baptism occurred when before Jesus ascended to the Father. He said…
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Baptism is a simple act of obedience…you believe in Jesus, believe He came to set us free…so just be baptized. Our church believes in adult (or older youth) baptisms for this reason…because when you are an infant it is pretty hard to obey or disobey, hard to believe or disbelieve. Jesus said to obey Him, Jesus said to be baptized…so we do it.
R – Repent – we all sin, we all make mistakes, do things that are not ‘right’. No sin is unforgiveable and no one is guiltless.
Romans 3:23 (NIV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

All we have to do is confess our sins and ask Jesus to forgive us and our slate is wiped clean.
1 John 1:9 (NLT)
9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

F- Follow…just follow Jesus…follow His teachings.
Mark 1:17 (NIV)
17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
As Pastor Jeff said, ‘we make this so complicated, full of rules. Jesus wasn’t full of rules and did not expect us to be perfect. We simply need to follow’. Now this doesn’t mean that you can just do whatever you want, act in whatever manner you want…that there is no ‘expectation’. There is and the idea is that someone who follows Christ should eventually begin to ‘look like Christ’, should have the characteristics of Christ.
T – tell… tell the world your story of how you came to Christ, what has Jesus done in your life. Give your testimony to others…believers, non-believers and those in between. And baptism is the ultimate in that telling…’it is a symbolic testimony, an outward proclamation of what has happened in the hearts and the life of somebody. Like the wedding ring is a symbol of your commitment to your spouse, a baptism is a symbol of your commitment to Christ, it is a covenant between God and His children.’ And like a marriage is a public event for others to see that commitment that a couple has, a baptism is a public event for others to hear what Christ has done in your life and to see the commitment you have made.
And so hear is my testimony.. in full….

My name is Jodie Tummers and I live in Monkton. I grew up a church going family, we were very active in our church but I think you could have called me a fan of religion not a follower of Christ. I attended weekly,even taught Sunday school, but wonder now where I really was as I seem to have had no bible knowledge beyond common scripture, no ablilty to apply that anywhere, no basis for the purpose of prayer, no idea what I really should be doing. I am thinking I was there but just really not opening my eyes, ears and heart to what I was hearing because I’ve been working in Catholic Education all my adult life and had no real base from that either.
My Christian journey really being in 2008 when my husband and I found out we were expecting twins. I’ll admit, I questioned God on that one…we were just barely getting back on our feet financially and struggled to be respectful and loving spouses and parents. About 3-4 weeks after I was finally at peace with it and growing both in size and excitement, tragedy struck. Our identical twins developed complications and within hours I was in Toronto and admitted for surgery. I prayed that night with a passion I had no idea I had. I asked God to keep my boys safe, to heal them and bring them into this world healthy. 36 hours later one of our identical sons, Cole, was gone and our survivor, Cameron, was very ill.
I was devastated, shattered and angry. I remember asking God ‘if I was only meant to bring one baby home from the hospital then why on Earth was I pregnant with twins in the first place?’ And yet I never really felt much anger at God... just a sense of being held up by Him. I’m pretty sure that this was a turning point in my faith journey but I will admit, it took me a great many months, well years really, to be in a place where I really felt like I was a Christian, where I felt like I had accepted Jesus as my saviour. I spent months away from the rest of my family, trying to remain pregnant with Cameron so that he’d be born healthy and found it so hard to pray. I felt like the last time I prayed it didn’t go in my favour and I didn’t want that to happen again because I didn’t want to have any reason to question my slowly growing faith in God.
While I was away I had many wonderful people who prayed for me and I received such strength in those words that were shared with me. My best friend, Charlotte, lived (well still lives) in Arizona and she would send me the most amazing messages of strength, of what she felt she was witnessing in me and of what she knew God to be doing. Although I appreciated it all, learning to trust God and to accept Jesus into my heart did not begin at all really until a few months after my survivor and angel were born... as I planned the service to say goodbye to our little boy. I read a book by a woman named Jenny Hander, likely the first person to really influence my faith journey. What really hit home for me then was her writing about needing to let one of her twins go, to accept her death and the survival of her twin sister as part of God’s plan. She was a woman of immense faith, a strong Christian and yet she struggled to say goodbye to her daughter, to stop praying for God to return her to be with her family. Her final acceptance came when she was finally able to find peace, comfort and hope in the loss of her daughter because she knew that , by following the teachings of Jesus, by being the strong Christian that she was, she would see her daughter in Heaven. This was God’s plan for her and it was ok... she would see her little girl again. And suddenly I became so very fearful that I would not see my son again, that I was not doing a good job and my place in Heaven was, by no mean, secure.
That day I knelt down and I prayed and begged Jesus to forgive me for all my sins, most especially what my struggles to accept and grieve were doing to my family, to my children. I knew nothing about what it meant to come to Christ but I think that was the first day of the rest of my life so to speak….but it was a very slow start, slow growth. As time went on I began to turn to God more in prayer, work through my grief prayerfully and through scripture. Did I mention it was a very slow journey??? I started blogging my journey and exploring how I felt...who I was angry with, the guilt I felt, how hard it was to fully put my trust in God. I shared this blog with others and participated in a few online support groups and slowly...painfully so, my life began to feel like my own, my new normal began to feel like something I could live with. Others, mostly those who I met online or those that read my blog, either supported me or found support in me and I began to feel my strength building but still something, a focus maybe, was missing.
A crisis in my marriage lead me to growing this faith with my husband which lead me to LEMC last July. The very first service we attended Pastor Rob spoke on the first book of James. What a great, but tough, book to hear given where my life had been in the last 2.5 years. I think one of my favourite scriptures is
James 1:2-42 Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
and given the trials that we’ve had even since coming to LEMC it seems like one of many perfect scriptures for me to live my life by. Within a few weeks of coming here I knew that I was ‘home’…I was where I needed to be and I was ready to make a full commitment to Jesus.
Since then I have found an amazing sense of peace about losing Cole and an amazing sense of purpose for his life and his death. I feel very certain that I needed to experience the joys of twins and the loss of twin dreams, the loss of a child, in order to be able to be who God wants me to be. I have already seen, even prior to coming to Christ fully, that my faith, my certainty that there is a heaven and a great purpose to all things in life, has impacted others who did not know Christ and it has just continued in volumes since then. Since beginning my relationship with Jesus I have just found that I have such a clarity about some the areas of life that I really struggled with and even more so, a sense of assurance of the provisions of God. I feel that God and Cole guide me to share my faith and my support with others who have taken the same ‘twin’ journey we have.
For me, baptism is just the next step to take, the way I can show that I am committed. It’s time for me to die to my old self and rise to the new me, the one that follows Christ… and I thank my wonderful friend Miriam for those words and the guidance and support that she and her husband Perry have given us to bring us here today. I also want to thank my brother, Jason and my best friend Charlotte and her husband Kerry for the mentors in Christ that they have become for us.

You can actually hear it if you go to this website….go to Easter Sunday Service and then push the play bar that comes up to 29:20 through to 24:15
And just a few visuals for you….
The serene, before look... dying to the old, self lead me
The drowned rat new me... living for Christ and loving every minute of it (except for the water up my nose!!!)
Thanks for reading, for listening, for praying and for taking anything you are able to, away from my testimony.

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