I have called you by name; you are mine (the covenant of baptism)


I HAVE CALLED YOU BY NAME: Sunday morning, at the small Westchester Congregational church in rural Connecticut, Naomi and Craig Campbell presented their infant daughter, Rebekah Mae, for baptism.

To baptize a child is to enter into a covenant agreement that includes God, the parents, and the church. Baptism says that a family is committed to raising their baby as a child of the covenant, it means that the church promises to be an active witness to the love of God in the life of the family, and it means that both the family and the church claim God’s covenant promises on behalf of themselves and the child.

What made today even more special was that Rebekah got to do the baptism. The pastor of the church, Karl Ostberg, led the service; then he handed Rebekah Mae over to her grandmother.

Westchester Congregational Church

Most of Craig’s extended family were present. His parents, sister, aunt & uncle, grandmother, and cousins. We all gathered at the church and then came home for a celebration party at the Campbell home.

Fun is good; but fun in the context of the covenant community and the shared understanding of faith, hope, and promise is more than fun, it is joy. The core understanding of faith was not necessarily shared by everyone present, but God was undoubtedly with us, and evident, and who knows what seeds were sown, and how much truth slipped its way into hungry hearts?

LIVING INTO HOPE: I don’t believe it’s a useful argument/tactic to tell people, “You’re going to hell if you don’t become a Christian…” but I do believe it is entirely accurate to say that there’s nothing else that I know, outside of following Jesus in the context of a loving community of faith, that can provide anyone with an opportunity to live this life-charged life that I’m always writing about.

DSC_1001We didn’t baptize Rebekah-Mae into a religion today, but into a covenant relationship with God. Not living into the love and the hope and the faithful promises of God is to miss out on the kind of life God intended for all of God’s children when we were created.

God doesn’t discard those who reject that love; it’s more that God grieves the lost relationship. It’s we who end up punishing ourselves, and the only long-term solution to despair, and disillusionment, and lack of hope is to make the decision to come home.

Here’s the verse  from Isaiah that Naomi and Craig quoted on Rebekah-Mae’s celebration cake:

But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.

“I have called you by name; you are mine.” We belong to God, it’s as simple as that; the heart of faith is to acknowledge that truth and then to live into it. Following Jesus is the best way that I know how. I’m going to recommend that to anyone, anytime, anywhere, as an alternative to being lost.

What do you have to lose?


The extended Campbell family at Naomi & Craig’s house

Live Like You Mean It The Grandaddy Letters The Life That Truly is Life The Life-Charged Life

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Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

12 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Certainly you don’t win people over by telling them they are going to hell if they don’t believe in Jesus Christ, but I heard the other day that Jesus mentions hell 3 to 1 over heaven. I’m not certain if that is true, but he definitely mentions it and I remember an author we studied in the Men’s Room said Jesus only mentioned it 8 times. That’s Balderdash. Is it loving to let someone not know about hell, and just let them go there as an unrepentant sinner? I don’t think so. Or is it loving to at least mention it, and through being born again in Christ, as Jesus said to Nicodemus, you will be with Him, and in the presence of the Love of the Lord forever? I can remember believing that hell didn’t even exist, until I picked up the book myself, let it direct my heart, and didn’t listen to anyone who told me or acted as if it doesn’t exist. Without the Gospel of Gods wrath, how can there be a Gospel of Love? . What it all boils down too, no pun intended, is that we need to pick up the Bible, and read it, and not skip over the severity of the Lord, and get on our knees and repent. Can I just say, I’ve been there, and I truly believe this is exactly where I needed to be. If you’re true to yourself, it’s good for everyone of us to humble ourselves and realize, none of us are good. Not me, not you, not anyone. This is right out of the bible, so therefore, it’s truth. I’ll rest in that.
    Romans 3:10 New International Version (©2011)
    As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
    Ephesians 2:8 New International Version (©2011)
    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–
    sounds pretty Presbyterian to me.

    Very happy to be your good ol Southern Baptist buddy, and I respectfully present this. God bless you. G


    • Hmmm. I’ve never know anyone to say Jesus only mentioned hell 8 times, and I’ve certainly never taught that! Must have been some other men’s group.
      The real point here is what Jesus (or any of us) are talking about when we talk about Hell., Hell is what we’re left with when God is removed from the equation. CS Lewis does a great job of talking about what that looks like in eternity in The Great Divorce. What it looks like in our day-to-day lives is pretty bad, too. Like the guy at the gas pump who said, “I don’t need anyone telling me I’m going to hell; I’m already there.”
      The question then becomes, “what are we offering as an alternative?” The sad truth is that – much of the time – there’s not enough of light and life in our Christian witness to speak the truth about the Gospel.
      That’s what I’m talking about, and that’s what I’ll always share to the huge population of people who do not know the love and grace of Jesus.
      Peace – DEREK


      • Your blog, your rules, and your opinions. BTW, I was off by 4. According to Rob Bells, Love Wins, in the chapter on Hell, pg. 67 says the actual word hell is used roughly twelve times in the new testament. So, in fact yes, it wasn’t your class, but number is still off by quite a few. I guess he found a way to widdle it down a bit. Not sure widdle is a word, but it serves the purpose. No questions tonight.

        In response to your question, “what are we offering as an alternative?” For me the alternative is balance between very real gospel of wrath, and the very awesome gospel of love. It’s working for me. Hey, at least I’m here.

        Very happy that you found a new place to start afresh. All the best.

        Peace to you, gary


    • The Bible reads that Job was a “perfect and upright man” (Job 1:1-2)….Noah was “righteous in his generation” (Genesis 7:1). We know that Daniel was a man in whom there was “no blemish” (Daniel 1:4)
      Then there is Noah and Lot…seem like a few righteous men in the Bible…..ooops better go back and re-write those parts…wouldnt want there to be any contradictions in the Good ‘ole Book.
      Unless of course, it doesn’t really mean what it reads….(a favorite Christian Apologetic tactic used to get around inconsistencies)



  2. “God doesn’t discard those who reject that love; it’s more that God grieves the lost relationship. It’s we who end up punishing ourselves, and the only long-term solution to despair, and disillusionment, and lack of hope is to make the decision to come home.”


  3. Reblogged this on DEREK MAUL and commented:

    This is a post from five years ago – the day our grandchild, Beks, was baptized. It’s a beautiful memory and a helpful discussion of covenant baptism. (I don’t advise reading the old comments – some of them trolling – from 2013)


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