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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Baptism

On January 20th we celebrated one of my favorite occasions - Baptism.  I love baptisms because of the significance of the event.  Baptism does not save anyone or earn God's favor.  But it is the response of an individual's new life in Christ.  Romans 6 tells us it is a picture of Christ dying, being buried, and rising again and our union with Him.

The significance of baptism is that it is a public statement of an individual's desire to pursue Jesus Christ with their whole life.  That is why we do it in a public format.  In it an individual commits to being a follower of Jesus, and the body of Christ is to be responsible in holding them accountable to that.  Baptism doesn't save us, nor does it keep us saved.  Both of those are completely a work of Jesus.  But we as believers also have a responsibility in speaking truth - preaching the gospel to believers and unbelievers alike.  

Isn't that an amazing responsibility and privilege?  I mean, how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)  God could use any means He wanted and it was us He chose.  But the gospel isn't only for unbelievers.  We are to continue in our responsibility of speaking truth to one another. (Hebrews 3:12-14)  So as we observe a baptism we rejoice with the individual's testimony of new life in Jesus and remember our responsibility to walk alongside that brother or sister in newness of life.

Of course, this one was extra special for us because our spiritual son DJ and our biological daughter Meredith were the two committing to following Jesus.  You can imagine that I struggled to keep it together emotionally.  In fact, that's why you'll see Pastor Joshua baptizing Meredith.   And it was a little extra exciting because Grandpa Frank and Grandma Maggie were here to watch, along with Brian and Lois Niehoff who have had an impact in both, especially with DJ.

Praise the Lord with us for these two who are committing to a lifetime of loving Jesus!

P.S.  If you want to send a special message to either DJ or Meredith, just shoot me an email at louisotool@gmail.com.  I'll pass it along to them!



It does seem a little strange to be in church barefoot with our swim trunks on.

Both DJ and Meredith were a bit nervous to speak in front of everyone.  But neither used that as an excuse to avoid obedience.  Lots of fun to see them overcome the fear for love of their Savior.

DJ had written down what he wanted to say, but then chose to brave it and do without.  Afterward he said he forgot all the good things he wanted to say.  But that happens to the most seasoned public speakers.  I just listened to a sermon from John Piper where his notes accidentally blew off the podium and he had to stop in the middle of his speech to pick them all up.  So DJ is in good company.

I promised not to hold him under, but he had a death grip on my arm.

Notice the Husker shirt.  Have to represent!

Speaking of representing, notice the Lakeside Fellowship Church League basketball shirt.  Pastor Josh isn't much of a baller, but he tries to look like one anyway:-)  However, he is pretty passionate when it comes to football...you know, real football, not American football.  Hail Liverpool!



Monday, February 11, 2013

Killer Frogs

Ok, so I know this is late, but a lot of misinformation has been disseminated regarding my injury received from an overly pugnacious bullfrog.  With Chad Sutter's recent return to the States, it is necessary that the facts be recorded exactly as they occurred.  So here it is.

Several months ago I was working in the garden and unearthed a massive toad.  It was probably the size of one of those slow-pitch watermelon softballs.  Since toads are good for gardens, turning moths, insects and other parasites into fertilizer for the soil, I dug a shallow hole in the freshly turned earth and replaced the toad.  

Sidebar:  When I say toad, that may not be the exact scientific designation, because after doing some google research it appears that these are more commonly called African Bullfrogs.  But they look more like toads so they're toads in my book.
Unsidebar:  A month or so after my first encounter with one of these aberrantly prodigious specimens Chad, Petey and I were working on a project.  The specific project is immaterial, but it required at least one of us to be up on a ladder.  Since neither Chad nor Petey are over 5'5" it seemed only logical that I be the one on the ladder.  And from the top of the ladder I see Kamohelo running our way from the general vicinity of the garden.  Kamohelo, age 10, is our only "big" boy here at The Village.  Chad is a buddy of ours from Polk City who gave up 2 months of pushing snow to join us at Restoring Hope Village.  I'll fill you in more on him another time.  Petey is my baby brother who was here for almost 3 months.  Again, I'll fill you in on Petey and his ninja skills another time.

So, there I am on top of the ladder with a small African child sprinting toward us with something obviously important on his mind.  As he arrives he shows us this massive toad that he found in the garden.  For me, this was old news because I'd already seen him or his cousin.  But for Chad and Petey this represented great new worlds opening before their very eyes.  They proceed to examine, scrutinize and otherwise investigate this fresh life form presented to them...to the point where the toad kind of got a little ticked off.

In my vast life experience as a boy, then as a man, I've often been compelled to examine wildlife that I encounter, so I understand the fascination.  And also in all my vast experience with both toads and frogs I've seen very limited self defense mechanisms.  With frogs the defense is normally quick movements, leaping ability, camouflage, use of natural habitat, and in the case of poison arrow frogs, poison.  (By the way, if I ever own a professional sports franchise, it will be called the Frogs.  There is no limit to the design possibilities you could use for memorabilia themes).  Toads self defense is limited to the fact that they taste terrible and when you pick them up they pee on you.  That's about it.  So whether these are toads, as they appear, or frogs, as they appear on google, either way they should be pretty limited in their ability to follow the maxim "The best defense is a good offense."


But you might have forgotten that Petey and Chad antagonized this frog to the point where it forgot it was a frog.  Mentally it must have been channeling its inner cobra, or a crocodile or maybe even an ancient memory of reptile's former glory as Dinosaur.  Whatever was going on inside the head of this thing it decided to bring the attack to us.

So, there I am on top of the ladder whilst Chad, recording the whole event on his amazing Samsung Galaxy Smartphone, pokes at the toad with a shovel.  Suddenly the frog leaps to the attack.  But since it is more like a toad than a frog, that leap was only about 6 inches.  But big manly Chad, at the other end of a 5 foot shovel, screams like a little girl, jumps backward and drops the shovel, trembling with fear.

So, there I am on top of the ladder, trembling with laughter at the sight of a grown man...a grown redneck farmer man, no less, shrieking in fright because a toad leapt at him with his mouth open.  I begin to needle Chad and Petey both, trying to explain how a real man wouldn't frighten so easily.  But neither of them would get near the toad again.  All this time Chad's Samsung is still recording.

So, there I am, coming down from the top of the ladder to show these two guys how a real man would play with a toad.  Once I get to ground level I realize this toad looks much bigger up close.  But I can't back down now.  So, gingerly I approach the toad.  The toad backs into a corner, mouth gaping, this crazy hissing sound emanating from his lips (if toads have lips).  I ignore these unusual warning signs and throw caution to the wind.  I'll admit, I had some butterflies in my stomach, but since I had given Chad and Petey such a hard time, I had to put on the brave face and pretend like this toad had nothing on me.
Given that nothing in my life experience had prepared me for an attack toad, I would like to think I had an excuse.  Unfortunately, I should have heeded the hitherto fore uncharted responses this specific toad was giving.  So really, it's my own fault.

Hand outstretched, I continued to approach the cornered animal.  Suddenly, it leapt at me, clamping onto my finger with it's razor sharp lips (if toads have lips).  I yanked my hand backward, but alas, it was too late.  He had my right-hand ring finger in his jaws.  I snapped my wrist downward, flinging the beast to the earth, where it backed quickly into its corner once again, preparing for an unnecessary defense.  Unnecessary because I needed only once to learn my lesson, and Chad and Petey continued to act like little girls.

After the conflict had subsided my wounds were examined.  Blood was trickling down my finger and onto my hand.  It seemed that 40 pieces of paper had been sliced across my hand, appearing, as it were, as if I had received dozens of tiny paper cuts.  Apparently frog lips are lined with tiny bits of paper.  Being home schooled I never had the chance to dissect a frog, otherwise I might have been the wiser.  As it was, I was none the wiser.  But now I am the wiser.  And now you may be the wiser at my expense.

Take heed.  My battle scars remain, even to this day.  


Regrettably, Chad's camera no longer plays the video.  It plays every other video he took.  This smart phone can take its own panoramic pictures, play music, function as a level, tell you what constellation you are looking at, and pretty much anything else imaginable.  Apparently Chad also installed the App wherein the phone automatically deletes any footage that shows the owner in an embarrassing situation.  Pretty smart on his part.  I need to install one of those Apps on this blog so I don't keep posting these embarrassing stories about myself.  Bummer.