Holy Baptism (part three)

The Bible says, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying” (Titus 3:5-8).

Luther explains, “How can water do such great things? Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s word the water is plain water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit.”

Salvageable adds: Anyone who treats baptism as a good deed done for God must be concerned about using the right amount of water, saying the right words, and being baptized at the right age. Anyone who sees baptism as a gift from God understands that the amount of water is not the point. The words that are said (other than the name of God) are not the point. The age of the person being baptized is not the point. In baptism God makes a promise. Because of the sacrifice made by his Son, God keeps that promise. All the work is done by God; none of the work is done by the believer.

Faith is usually expressed in words, but words are not necessary for faith to be present. We do not lose our faith while we sleep. A person who suffers dementia due to illness or injury does not stop being a Christian. Likewise, no minimum age exists for faith to begin. John the Baptist leapt for joy when he heard the voice of his Savior’s mother, and he had not even been born yet!

The water of Holy Baptism is not magic. Water does not cause faith; the Word of God causes faith. But God combines his Word with water to emphasize what happens to the person who has faith. As water washes away dirt, so baptism washes away sins. As water is needed for health, so baptism produces a healthy faith. Therefore, Paul described baptism as “the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” So also Jesus told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Anyone who has been baptized has been regenerated; he or she truly has been born again.

For the Christian, though, the best statement is not “I was baptized” or “I have been baptized.” The best statement is “I am baptized.” The gift of baptism is given only once, but the benefits of baptism last a lifetime and longer; they last into eternal life. Every day of our lives, each Christian can face the enemies of the devil and the world and the flesh with confidence, knowing that we have been rescued from their power. Baptism guarantees each of us a share in the victory Jesus won for us on the cross. J.

It’s a lawn, not a rice paddy!

Mrs. Dim is one of several people in my neighborhood who water their lawns every single day. Since their grass is nice and green and mine tends toward yellow during dry conditions, they of course think that they are right and I am wrong.

They are wrong.

When water is flowing down the street and into the storm drain, they are wasting water. When they water every day, they are training their grass to have shallow roots and to depend upon that daily watering. When they soak their lawns repeatedly, they increase the likelihood of fungus and other diseases in their lawns.

To verify that my opinion is right and theirs is wrong, I did a quick search of lawn watering tips on the internet. Every one of the top hits indicated that Salvageable is right. Among the sites that I read from the first ten hits were Scott, Southern Living, Popular Mechanics, and Green Grass Services. The consensus is that healthy lawns need about an inch of water a week, and that watering twice a week is adequate for a healthy lawn.

Scott recommends one half inch of water twice a week, taking fifteen to thirty minutes, depending upon the watering system. Southern Living says one inch once a week. Popular Mechanics says twice a week, maximum. Green Grass Services says two to three times a week, with a total of 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Several of them recommend using rain gauges or empty tuna cans to measure the water to make sure that the lawn is not getting too much water.

Scott, Southern Living, and Popular Mechanics all say that a healthy lawn can be allowed to go dormant during a dry summer. Scott says the lawn can remain dormant for up to two months. When it rains, the lawn revives. Popular Mechanics notes that the choice of a dormant lawn depends upon use-if people or animals walk or run on the lawn a lot, that could harm the dormant grass.

Experience has shown that my lawn can tolerate a lengthy dormant period. After a decent rain, my grass turns just as green as Mrs. Dim’s grass. Meanwhile she has been watering her lawn every day, cutting and trimming it every five days, working hard to maintain her lawn to her personal standards. Of course she gets up early in the morning to trim and mow her lawn, not caring how much noise she makes while other people are still trying to sleep.

Aside from early morning noise, does the watering of lawns in the neighborhood make any difference in my household? It makes a difference when it takes twenty minutes to fill a sink to wash some dishes. It makes a difference when a shower is nearly impossible due to low water pressure. It makes a difference in the big picture of life, when people like Mrs. Dim waste water because they can, while other people in the country face dire water shortages.

Mrs. Dim is an old dog who will never learn new tricks. It must frustrate her no end when, a day or two after it rains, my grass is as green as hers. It might help if she took the time to check her opinion with research as I have done this morning. Friends, that is not going to happen. J.

A repair gone amiss

We got through the weekend with the line to the ice-maker and water-dispenser inoperative. Tuesday on my way home from work I stopped by the hardware store and bought the right connector for the water line. (I brought in the section of line that was leaking to be sure to buy the right connector.) Only four dollars and a little bit of work, and the repair would be almost as good as new. Or so I thought.

The men who helped me at the hardware store noticed that my cutting of the line had not been smooth. “You want to make sure to have a clean cut, or the connector will leak,” they warned me. Following their advice, I recut the line, slid it into the connector, and turned the water back on. Success! The connection was not leaking! I was ready to push the refrigerator back into place when I saw another puddle forming. This leak was coming from the adapter—a piece of plumbing that connected the house line to the line that came from the refrigerator, which happened to be different sizes. I shut off the water again and took apart the adapter. I found that the line had corroded right at the adapter. I cut off the corroded end and started to reassemble the adaptor.

The house line would not fit into the adapter.

For about an hour I struggled with the connection, trying to find some way of getting the line into the adapter. I pressed as hard as I could. I tried various tools. I even softened the plastic of the house line in a flame. That looked as if it was going to work, but when I turned the water on again, the line blew out of the adapter immediately. Of course I turned the water off again and cleaned up the latest puddle.

I took a break to eat supper, then returned to the job. A new puddle had formed while I was eating, even though I had left the line closed. I checked the cutoff valve under the sink, loosened it and tightened it again, but a trickle of water was continuing to flow down the line. By this time, I could hear water hissing through the valve even when it was turned off as hard as I could push it.

I know my limitations. Replacing a leaking shut-off valve is outside of my skill set. I grabbed the phone book and called a local plumbing firm. They warned me that there would be an extra charge for coming after hours, but I agreed to pay the extra charge. Meanwhile, I had a one gallon bucket and a two to three gallon waste basket. I let the line empty into the waste basket, and when the waste basket was full—every fifteen to twenty minutes—I let the line empty into the bucket long enough for me to dump the waste basket’s water down the sink.

More than an hour later, the plumber arrived. I explained the problem to him, and since I was paying him to take care of the cut-off valve, I figured I might as well ask him to connect the line to the refrigerator too. He was not the kind of worker who wanted to visit while he worked (or to be watched), so I used the time to study for my Wednesday morning lecture.

After he had taken care of the valve, the plumber told me that he wanted to replace the entire line from the valve to the adapter with copper line. He wanted me that the old plastic line was going to continue to deteriorate, and the next leak might be in the wall instead of under the refrigerator. Of course I agreed. He had the job done in less than an hour. I haven’t checked the price of copper plumbing by the foot, but I can report that my four dollar repair ended up costing me in the ballpark of four hundred dollars.

On the other hand, we have a working ice maker again, and it is fed by copper line that should not disintegrate for many years to come. J.