Penelope's Baby Dedication

Yesterday was a special day for us as we celebrated Penelope's baby dedication! We stood in front of God and our church family, and committed to raise Penelope with the truth of the Gospel and knowledge of Jesus and His Word. 

Penelope Mae Oren
Born: April 6, 2014
Dedicated on October 26, 2014
Life Verse: Lamentations 3:22-24
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."

Dear Penelope,
Daddy & Mommy chose this verse for you because you are a picture of God's redemption and intense mercy and faithfulness in our family. We pray that through your story you come to know the relentless pursuit of a steadfast and compassionate God. We want you to see that each new day represents another opportunity to experience God's grace and faithfulness. We pray that these attributes of God give you hope and strength to walk out your days seeking to truly know, love, and serve Jesus.
Daddy & Mommy 

This day was truly special for us because it is by God's miraculous grace and pursuit that we stood together, as a family, holding the representation to us that God truly is a God of restoration and redemption, that God is a God who does GREAT things. None of us deserve God's goodness to us, but we are forever thankful for His mercies. They truly are new every morning! We are also incredibly thankful for our families, many friends, and church family who have walked beside us, in the deepest trenches, and on the highest peaks. 
Without you, this right here would not have existed...
Psalms 136:4
To Him who alone does great wonders, For His lovingkindness is everlasting;

We had such a great day celebrating God's grace in our lives and enjoying our family. It was an incredibly beautiful fall day! After church, we went to lunch with Jon's parents, and then spent the afternoon playing by the river, catching crayfish, throwing rocks in, and playing at a local park where we enjoyed a hilarious game of tag. Our hearts are full. We are so blessed.

A Letter from our Pastor to Penelope...
Dear Penelope, 
It has been my privilege over these past few years to get to know your Mom and Dad as they have been attending Harvest Bible Chapel. My wife Laura and I have greatly enjoyed getting to know your parents, your brother Mekonen, your sister Evie, and you. It really is an honor for me to be the Pastor for your whole family. 

Today, I was able to pray for you in church as your parents dedicated you to the Lord. By dedicating you to the Lord, they are promising to help you know about Jesus and learn to live for Him as you grow and mature. They chose Lamentations 3:22-24 as a Bible passage for you because they want you to know you are a picture of God's faithfulness, mercy and redemption in your family; and they pray for you to truly know, love, and serve Jesus. Penelope, God has been good to you to allow you to be born into such a fine family where you will always be taught that God loves you and has sent His own Son to die on the cross for you. It is my prayer that as soon as you are old enough to understand, you will accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and that you will live your life to always please Him. 

You have a lot of exciting days ahead of you as you mature and grow into a lovely young lady. Remember to be a woman of God's Word and to be careful to obey the Lord who loves you very much. You really are at the beginning of a life full of adventure! I trust that through all your experiences, you will mature into a fine young woman whom the Lord will use for His service. 

Your Pastor, 
Brian White 

What is Baby Dedication?
It is taken from the story of Hannah in the Bible. Hannah was barren and past child-bearing years. She fervently prayed every day asking the Lord to give her a son. She told the Lord that if He did bless her with a son that she would "give him back to the Lord" and diligently raise him to love and serve God. God did just that- He blessed Hannah with a son and she named him Samuel. Hannah gave him back to the Lord, teaching him to serve God all the days of his life.

Baby dedication is a commitment of the parents to teach their children about Jesus with the hope that when they are old enough they will choose to follow Him and serve Him. It is the parents placing themselves under the humble position of accepting the guidance and direction of their church and other Christians as they seek to nurture their children to come to know Jesus.

(Just so you can see it, this is the Certificate of Dedication that we receive on our child's dedication day. 
This one is actually Evie's because I've yet to take a picture of Penelope's).

What Baby Dedication is Not.

It is not salvation. Baby dedication is not a means by which a child can go to Heaven. Salvation is an individual matter. When the child is old enough to understand that they are sinners, realize they cannot make themselves perfect enough for Heaven, and need to Jesus to forgive their sins, they then accept salvation as a gift from God, not something they earn by going to church, being born into a "Christian" family, being good, being dedicated, or being baptized, etc. 

It is not a means by which a child becomes part of the church-
The "universal church" is simply all Christians (those who have believed in Jesus to forgive their sins) all over the world. The "local church" is the specific group of Christians that you worship Jesus with on a regular basis. Being part of a local church does not mean you go to Heaven, nor does it grant you any special rights. 

It is not Baptism. Baptism is simply a public profession of the fact that you know you are a sinner, cannot be perfect enough for Heaven, and therefore need Jesus to forgive your sins so you can spend eternity with Him. Baptism is an individual choice a person makes after they have understood and accepted salvation. This happens at any time in a Christian's life, but it is usually right after a person has asked Jesus to forgive their sins and has decided to follow Him.

What Do You Do For Baby Dedication?
I imagine different churches do things differently, but this is how our church does it. We take a short "class" with the director of children's ministry as they explain baby dedication and the importance of parents being the ones who teach their children about Jesus. Our church does a wonderful job of expressing that we as parents, have the first responsibility of pointing our children's hearts towards Jesus. It's not the job of the church, the Christian school, or anyone else. The church exists to come alongside parents to encourage and help equip, but it is not their responsbility.
During the Sunday morning service, they called each family up with their child, announced the child, their birthdate, and read the Bible verse the parents chose for their child. Then our Pastor read 5 commitment statements that if we agreed to we answered, "we will." Then our Pastor called family and close friends to come up and gather around each family to pray with them as they committed to teaching their child about Jesus. We are so thankful for the church body where are known, loved, and encouraged. We are truly blessed.

The 5 Commitment Statements 
  1. Do you desire to dedicate your child to the Lord and publicly commit to parenting them in a way that honors God?
  2. Do you promise to raise your child in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” through instruction and discipline that is defined by God’s Word? (Ephesians 6:4)
  3. Do you promise to lead your child to an understanding of salvation and his/her need for Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior?
  4. Do you promise to work diligently and consistently to instill in your child an understanding of God and His Word? (Deuteronomy 6:4)
  5. Do you promise to conduct your home in a way that models Christian love and heart-felt commitment to Christ and his instruction? (Psalm 127:1)

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