Baptism: The Who, What, When, Where and Why, Why, Why

I’m going to let you in on a personal battle I’ve been having since my children were born:

To baptize or not to baptize?

See, Andrew and I are not the kind of people to do something religiously just because it “seems right”. We have to understand the ins and outs, the whys, why nots, who said it, why did they say it, who did they say it to, what’s the point, etc. In short, we need to understand the when, where, why, why, why and how of everything.

Sometimes I get pretty annoyed because this need for understanding makes decisions much more difficult. If I’m having this inner struggle over baptizing my children, the easy answer would be just to do it and not have to worry about it anymore, right? By not doing it, I still have to wonder if I “should be” doing it.

This is an excerpt of an email I recently sent to Quest’s founding pastor, Mike Hartzheim:

I’m still hung up on baptism. I think baptism is just a “nice thing” people do, symbolic of parents committing their children to Christ, something society expects of “good Christians”. Andrew and I are raising Livy and Ryan as the children of God they have been since birth– without the process of baptism having occurred. They already are God’s children, born into God’s family, just like everyone else. We’ll raise them to see the beauty, worth and responsibility in that, hopefully not turning away from their roles as children of God when they get older. So, I still don’t understand the point of baptism. Do you think it’s necessary?  (necessary for what… to “enter Heaven”? To be God’s child? To have a relationship with God?)

This is the great thing about Mike and Quest in general. When founded, Quest wrote core values and one of them reads: Following Jesus is a growing experience.  Mike’s first paragraph in response to my email questioning one of the basics of Christianity was, “Lots of good questions. I’m glad you continue to struggle with what it means to follow Jesus. It is a life-long process… we never stop growing and learning.”

Isn’t that great? I expected nothing different, but it still relieves me every time I remember that Quest is the perfect place for imperfect people. I mean, come on, I work for Quest, but I certainly don’t have it all figured out and never, ever will.  And that’s OK!  In fact, that’s what we are all about! If we don’t question, we can’t grow.  No one wants to be spoon fed anything because there’s just no value in that. Tell me what I have to believe and I’ll run for the hills, but allow me to do my own investigating and come to my own conclusions and I’m here to stay. Quest allows me to question Christianity and find my own answers after a lot thinking, praying, discussing and researching. I love it.

Mike went on to write:

The answer to the question, “is baptism necessary?” depends on what you mean both by “baptism” and “necessary”.

Is this a religion question (what are the “rules”?) or a relationship question (what does baptism have to do with loving God and/or neighbor?)? Is baptism simply symbolic (something we do to demonstrate to God our “commitment”) or is Goddoing” something through baptism?

How you answer these questions influences how you answer the question about whether or not baptism is “necessary” and “the point of baptism” (what “benefits” come with baptism). I can share with you how I answer these questions. The more important thing is, “How do you answer these questions?”

Hmmmm, how do I answer these questions? I do not do anything in my faith life based on “rules”, so I wouldn’t take a rules-based, religious approach to baptism. For me, Christianity boils down to relationships with God and others. I didn’t realize it before, but based on Mike’s response, I must have actually been asking what baptism has to do with loving God and our neighbor. As far as whether baptism is something we do to demonstrate to God our commitment to Him, or something God does through baptism, well, I wasn’t so sure yet.

After I had some time to digest this and read the scripture passages he referenced in the email, Mike followed up with a second email.


Thought I’d add some to what I said yesterday now that you (hopefully) have had a chance to read and reflect on those Scripture passages I mentioned in the earlier email.

Do I believe baptism is “necessary.” Throughout history, the Church has answered that question with a resounding  “Yes.” Some Christians see it as a “requirement” (you must make a public profession– something we do for God) and others see it as a “sacrament” (something God does for us).  I see it from the sacramental approach.

Is baptism necessary? Yes, but not because we have to (it somehow “saves” us) but because we want to because God gives us something tangible to cling to and recall God’s promise in Jesus. The focus is on what God is doing… it is not a one-time event (although we physically baptize only once), it’s an on-going, daily reminder of God’s presence, promises and power… a daily dying to self and living for Christ.

In its religious sense, baptism means “to identify” or “to be made one with”. It refers to the act of identifying one thing with another thing in such a way that its nature or character is changed, or it represents the idea that a real change has already taken place.

As a reference to identification, “baptize” means to place a person (or thing) into a new environment, or into union with some one or something else, so as to alter his (its) condition or relationship to the previous environment.

Having said all this, does that make what you and Andrew are doing as you raise your children wrong? Not at all. You (and your whole family) are God’s children. Someday you (or they) may want to be baptized. If and when that day comes, I will be glad to assist in any way I can.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Ah, just want I wanted, right? Mike’s beliefs and opinions backed up by scriptural and scholarly evidence, yet opened-ended enough for me to formulate my own beliefs and opinions.

Just what I wanted and just what I didn’t want. See what I mean? It’s difficult to not just accept what educated people tell you as personal truth. I have been mulling over this information for a few weeks now and came to a conclusion (at least for now) when sweet baby Aidan was baptized last Sunday.

In my own words, baptism is a spiritual event that allows us to look back and gain strength and courage from the act of being physically identified as God’s child. Through baptism, we were born into new life. Mike later told me, “The baptism water is just plain water, but when we apply it with God’s promises, it becomes a life-giving event.” Jesus became all that we are so that we may become all that He is.  He became our sin so that we may become his righteousness. Though we only physically baptize once, it is actually a daily process. Baptism is a daily dying to self and living for Christ.

Are we all God’s children already? Yes.

Is baptism a necessary part of the Christian life for rules-based reasons? No.

Can we have a relationship with God without being baptized? Yes.

Is God with us through difficult times without being baptized? Yes.

Does baptism provide us with a tangible event to look back on and cling to when we need the reassurance that we are God’s child, identified by Him and called to live a life filled with His power, presence and promise? YES!

And so, sweet Aidan, I loved being a part of your baptism. You have been physically and spiritually identified as a child of God, born into a life full of the promise of Christ. Look back on this day and know with certainty that God is in you and with you, promising great things for you forever. We love you!

(These are only my personal thoughts, of course. I’d love to read your thoughts on baptism. Please leave a comment explaining what it means to you.)

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The Performance Trap

When God considers you, does He deceive Himself in some way or does He know who you truly are?

If He knows who we truly are, then why do we preface His understanding of us with phrases such as “in God’s eyes we are righteous” or “forgiven” or “loved” or “pleasing” and so on? Are we trying to say that God is not living in reality? That He is somehow involved in self-deception? Is he just some old grandparent type who wants to overlook the faults of His grandchildren? Either He really knows who you are or He doesn’t. Playing with words this way keeps us from experiencing the reality of who we are. It also dishonors who God is. 

The second question is, If you think of yourself differently than God thinks of you, who is mistaken, you or God? How often do we allow our minds to overrule what God says is true? Keep in mind, you were made by and for God. He has placed within you needs that only He can meet. If we try to have these needs met by another person or persons, we will end up frustrated, angry, and unfulfilled.  (The Search for Significance, McGee)

During our Tuesday night Qexchange meetings, we’ve been reading and discussing the book, The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee. In the book, McGee covers four deceptions that we often believe about ourselves when looking in the mirror.

McGee lists the first false deception we believe about ourselves as the performance trap.

The Performance Trap: I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself.

Ah yes, I think many of us know this one well. Being married to a soccer coach who believes in and incorporates a “no guilt, no shame, no blame” curriculum on the field, his coaching philosophy is actually a life philosophy. When I’m stuck in the performance trap, afraid to move because I might mess up, he sets me straight. Who cares if you mess up? What’s the worst that can happen?

There are so many consequences that come along with the performance trap: the fear of failure, perfectionism, anxiety, manipulation of others to achieve success, withdrawal from healthy risks…. the list goes on.

Messing up actually creates immense character, you know. Mistakes make a man! (If that’s not a “real” saying, it should be.) Andrew encourages his soccer players to get out of their comfort zones on the field. They are pushed to try new things, regardless of success or failure. When a mistake occurs, he yells out to them mid-game, “Next thing! Next thing! make it a positive and productive thing!”

God’s answer to the performance trap is justification.  He has given us a secure self-worth totally apart from our ability to perform. We have been justified and placed in right standing before God through Christ’s death on the cross, which paid for our sins. 

See, Christ became like us so we can become like Him.  He took on our sins so we can take on his righteousness.

McGee writes, “I once heard a radio preacher berate his congregation for their hidden sins. He exclaimed, ‘Don’t you know that someday you’re going to die and God is going to flash all your sins upon a giant screen in heaven for all the world to see?’ How tragically this minister misunderstood God’s gracious gift of justification!”

Justification carries no guilt with it and has no memory of past transgressions. 

Success or failure is not the basis of your self-worth! Our worth has been given to us by God and cannot be taken away by mistakes or the disapproval of others. 

March Newsletter

March is here!  It doesn’t seem as though we’ve really had winter yet, but let’s hope spring comes quickly, anyway!

By clicking the link below, you will be able to read Quest’s March newsletter.  Take a moment to read and enjoy it and mark your calendars for any of the events that look interesting to you.  Be sure to read more on our website at!

Click here to read the newsletter: Mar 2012

Coupon Crazy!

Last Friday marked our first Coupon Party at Quest.  Led by Teresa Bodle, we brought our ads and clipped, clipped, clipped. Organizing our findings based on the current needs list from Hillcrest Transitional Housing, we stacked up scores of deals and managed to find a few spare minutes to enjoy insanely delicious cake, hummus, chex mix, and gabbing (of course).

Because we wanted as many people as possible to help us collect, clip and sort coupons, we had a $50 Visa gift card on hand to give away in a drawing! Just showing up to the party was the first way to enter, but bringing friends and donations earned extra entries into the drawing!

Stephanie Moreno walked away with the gift card– the lucky duck brought scads of donations along with her for the party, so her name was entered into the drawing approximately 1 million times! Thanks, Stephanie!!

On Saturday, a group hit the stores to rack up major deals for the great people at Hillcrest.

Before coupons, our grand total was $500.

Thanks to all the coupon crazy ladies, we were able to bring that total down to…

(Drum roll, please….)


Thank you to everyone who helped with this event! It is so exciting to have been able to provide Hillcrest with much-needed items. Enjoy the pictures and be sure to join in next time!

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Finding Beauty in Holland

Today’s guest post is from fellow “Quester” Lisa King. Lisa is married with two beautiful children and I know you’ll love reading her story. What a story it is!

“When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.


After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”


“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”


But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.


The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.


So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.


But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”


And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.


But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.”
©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley

What’s in a number?

37. It’s just a number, right? We all have “numbers” in our lives. An age. A date.

So what’s so significant about 37?

Well, when you are talking to a preemie mom, everything. Thirty-seven weeks into a pregnancy equals term. Or “Italy.” Even though 37 is really an arbitrary number decided upon by the World Health Organization, it still represents a victory over prematurity.

So, when I embarked on my journey of my 4th pregnancy, only my second to make it past 12 weeks, I had this goal in mind as my “first” goal. The one I would be “ok” with if I made it to. The one that would signify that I made it. I didn’t fail this time. But it was never a foregone conclusion that I would make it.

In fact, it was one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve done. In many ways, ignorance is bliss. And knowing what I did about all of the problems in pregnancy meant I was hyper-sensitive to every sensation I experienced. Every contraction. Every pain. Every odd twinge was noticed, analyzed and either discarded or brought to my doctors attention.

That is no way to go through a pregnancy. It’s incredibly scary and nerve wracking.

And it took waking up daily, standing with my head held high, my shoulders back and the knowledge that whatever that day brought, God would help me through it.

There was no other way to get through 37 weeks of pregnancy.

A friend posted this status on Facebook recently and it rang very true:

‎~Fear of failure and fear of the unknown are always defeated by faith. Having faith in yourself, in the process of change, and in the new direction that change sets will reveal your own inner core of steel~

The question is…what is your inner core of steel? Mine? It’s God. Because, even though the things I’ve seen were not near as bad as they could have been, they had the power to break me. In my journey as a preemie mom, I’ve seen these things break many a strong woman.

Entering into another pregnancy meant I had to take a leap of faith. I didn’t know the outcome. I couldn’t ensure 37 weeks. I could only trust God that He also had this one in His hands and He would see that the baby came when the baby was ready. And that if that was significantly pre-term again, He would get me through that journey again.

Thankfully, I got my 37. I’ve been to Italy. And I thank God for letting me see both Holland and Italy. For without Holland, I don’t know that Italy would be as beautiful and unique. And without Italy, Holland would never shine as the beautiful place it also is.


Is Lisa great or what?? Now you see what I meant when I said, “What a story it is!”.

Have you been in search of Italy, but taken a detour to Holland, instead? Find the beauty, the significance, and the hope that lies in Holland. Find the all-encompassing peace that lies in God’s love for us. Even the most extreme detours are held in His hand. If He brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.