As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. – Acts 8:36-38
Jesus said: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to!” – Matthew 23:13
Jesus is God’s invitation: this truth applies to everyone. We have no business closing the door on anyone who wants to say “yes” to Jesus.
It is hard to have a “family photo shoot” when you’re the photographer. But my ability to take a decent selfie has improved over time so here we go.
The occasion was coffee on the deck along with our devotional reading Saturday morning, after Rebekah and I had both returned from early morning commitments. It was cool out there, yes, and absolutely verging on cold, but no complaints from us because this is most definitely a wonderful turn of events/temperatures in light of the long hot summer and the pushing back of the onset of fall.
This is how we always begin the day. Every day. No matter how rushed we are Rebekah and I will pull up some devotional content for the end of breakfast and move – deliberately – into whatever the day holds from the context of a few moments dedicated to thinking about God, and recommitting ourselves to Jesus, and reading the scriptures, and beginning the day in prayer.
Initial Trajectory is Everything:
So this is our reasoning: Initial trajectory is everything. When we begin with God – both in our relationship to one another and in the direction of this (or any) new day – then we have set a course, launched a trajectory, that is always the best choice going forward.
This is why heading over to your local church is absolutely the best possible choice on a Sunday morning… this Sunday morning… every Sunday morning. Sunday is the first day of the week, and when we set our course in the context of intentional worship and of standing in the encouraging, affirming context of church, then there is nothing that can stop us.
Get a fresh start:
If – and (sadly) this is entirely possible – your experience of church has been anything but encouraging and the exact opposite of affirming, then I recommend starting over. Believe me, the Gospel of Jesus is open to everyone, regardless. Do not settle for any other experience.
The Good News of the Gospel is this: God has sent us an invitation, and the name of the invitation is Jesus. I don’t care who you are, and how you fit some people’s narrow definition of “acceptable” (cue the Acts 8 Philip and the Eunuch story here…) All you need to do – all any of us need to do – is to come home.
I hope and pray that I will see you in church. Peace, and love, and grace, and promise.
– Derek and Rebekah
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.