Wednesday, June 19, 2019


     John 3:3 - I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again,                           he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven

               In 1988, while dating my wife, who was a senior in high school, I accompanied her to a school banquet, I was 19.   At our table was a Jewish guy who had informed me he was going to see Stryper that weekend and they were, "pretty good for BACs"  I asked, "what's a BAC?"  He answered, "Born again Christians."  Though there was nothing in my life at the time indicating my profession of faith, I considered myself a "BAC"  so I answered, "We're not all bad."  The kid looked curiously at me and the conversation moved on to other topics.                

      Today, the term born again Christian is pretty common, but what does it really mean to be born again?  What is this term implying?

    Around 1976, thanks in part, to Jimmy Carter, the term Born Again blossomed into the American vernacular.  In his autobiography, then presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter, referred to himself as a Born Again Christian.  Also, in 1976, disgraced White House counsel, Chuck Colson released his autobiography, Born Again.  Suddenly, the term was flying around like a balloon without a knot, except this balloon would not quickly run out of air.  

           Pollsters began polling and discovered one third of America considered itself Born Again, even though the term itself was relatively new.  The problem with the term is it is not exactly well understood by many people, even some who apply it to themselves.

This from Franciscan Monk Christopher Heffron: 

"The term born again seems to be a very popular one among my Christian friends, but when I ask one of them to explain it, I do not get a very clear answer. I suspect this term can easily be misused or misinterpreted."

              I conducted a poll of my own, on Twitter, and found a very small percentage of those considering themselves Christian do not consider themselves Born Again or don't know if they are Born Again.  I was encouraged by the results.  I think most people, if asked to explain being Born Again, would relate how they had a life changing moment with God by placing faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins.  This would be a true assessment, but why did Jesus specifically use the words "unless a man is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven"?  

           Jesus was not just spouting off some platitude or parable, He was actually laying down some heavy doctrine with this statement.  Jesus was demonstrating the literal nature of the Genesis account, man's inherent alienation from God and God's remedy for our broken relationship, all in one statement.  

          We are all born in a sinful state, separated from God.  Later in the same conversation, Jesus says, John 3:18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 
     Indicating we start off lost.  If we do not become lost, we must be born lost.  If we are born lost there must be a reason we are born lost.  Therefore, the fall of Adam in Genesis 3 must be true and we must all be genetically descended from Adam, therefore born with a sin nature which separates us from God.  I refer to this as My Deadly Genetic Disorder .  

         None of us choose to be born.  None of us have a say in our physical heritage.  Like it or not, we are all born into Adam.  Only Jesus, born without the benefit of a human father, is exempt from an inherited sin nature.  No matter how good of a guy your dad was, he was the contributing factor in your sin nature.  
         Being born again is literally escaping the ultimate consequence of our sin nature, namely, alienation from God.  As we are reborn by the Spirit of God through the blood of Christ, we are now counted as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.  By being reborn in Christ, we are literally correcting the corruption of our genetic coding. John 1:12  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 

           Being born again goes beyond mere identity, it is a transformation from one thing to another: 2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

           If you consider yourself a Christian yet reject the idea of being born again, you are not rejecting an identity, you are rejecting the very words of the One you claim to follow.  Ironically, there is a growing number of Christ followers who are rejecting the term Christian because of the bad behavior and poor example of many who carry the moniker.  Jesus never told us to become Christians, Jesus did not start a new religion, He called us to be born again into Him, that we might be reconciled to the Father.

        For example, Jews who followed Christ, in the first century church, did not stop being Jews and turn into Christians, Jews who followed Christ in the first century church became born again Jews.  The term Christian originated as a slur for gentile believers who left pagan practice.  

          How does one become born again?  Simply acknowledging Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, understand He fulfilled the Law which we could never accomplish, accepting His death on the cross as payment for our personal sin, understanding the resurrection gives us hope of eternal life with God, and believing Jesus was and is who He said He was.  The Apostle Paul put it best in Romans 10:9-11  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is
Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 

             Are you born again?  If you are, own it, live it, and share it.  If you are not, Jesus said you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Born Again is not a religion, it is a relationship, a parent child relationship between you and God.  Being born again is not the destination, but the beginning of an amazing journey with God.    

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019


  Revelation 7:9-10  After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 

     When is the most segregated time in America? 11:00 AM Sunday morning.  Nothing reveals our view of race, in America, better because it is the only time of the week we are not, by law, forced to mix and mingle with those who look different than us. 

        This is a great tragedy... The church has failed to lead in the matter of Race because the church has bought into a false construct. The idea of Race is not a Biblical concept but a concept of prejudice predicated on the idea of evolution, designed to elevate one group above others based on appearance and regional heritage.  

      Racism is not necessarily ambivalence toward another group, it may be manifested in apathy as well as disdain.

     In reality, we are one race, descended from Noah and Adam before him.  Galatians 3:26-29  for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. 

             The Apostle Paul did not establish black churches in one part of town, white churches in another, and Asian churches in another.  Paul set up a church and everyone in town was welcome, regardless of heritage or appearance. How did the church become so segregated and why are we not knocking down these walls of fear and resentment?  

              It cannot be denied, America has a deplorable history, when it comes to ethnic relations. The founding fathers declared, "all men are created equal..." but failed when it came to defining men.  Our nation was founded, not by Christians, as we have been led to believe, but by Deists who denied the deity of Christ and the supernatural elements of faith.  

           Being Deist, these men were free to reject the elements of scripture with which they disagreed.  If you are feeling a little skeptical at this point, Google the Thomas Jefferson Bible and you may be very surprised at what you find.  

           Our Declaration of Independence refers to Native Americans as "Indian Savages", stripping them of basic humanity.  In 1787, the Constitutional Convention of the United States adopted the Three-Fifths Compromise, determining a slave only counted as three-fifths a person in census counting.  Once these two groups were institutionally dehumanized, any abuse, atrocity or injustice became fair game.

            So what does this have to do with the church today?  More than you might imagine.  The Southern Baptist Convention is the single largest protestant denomination in the United States.  The SBC was formed in 1845 when Baptists in the American South split from Baptists in northern states over the issue of slave owners serving as missionaries.  

            Obviously, the SBC would like to forget about it's racist roots and now officially recognizes all groups as created in God's image, but is institutionalized racism so easily shaken among the local pulpits and pews?

           Black Liberation Theology, a movement born out of the Civil Rights era, founded by Dr. James Cone of Union Theological Seminary, whose purpose was to bring the black community into fellowship with God apart from the specter of white racism.  Dr. Cone demonstrated how God was a champion of the oppressed.  Dr. Cone's vision of  BLT was meant to empower a community victimized by institutional racism, so as Dr. Cone rightfully sought to elevate those who had been traditionally held down by a white majority, he failed to encourage a bridge between two communities who resented one another.  

                Dr. Martin Luther King Jr strove to bring unity between blacks and whites, yet his flame was snuffed out by hatred before his efforts could gain the traction needed to reverse two centuries of division.  The assassination of Dr. King only reinforced division and mistrust, fueling BLTs more radical stance on race relations

             Today, as a result of the failure of church leaders, both white and black, to use the cross as a bridge to unity; distrust, division and even hate continues to festers just under the surface, and sometimes, openly above the surface.  Unfortunately, many allow politics to drive faith, when faith should drive, not only our politics, but every aspect of our lives.  

                How can we possibly claim to follow a book which calls us to view all men as made in the image of God and to love those who persecute us while continuing to draw lines of division based on skin color?  

              Obviously, atrocities committed by the white majority of days past cannot be ignored or glossed over.  As long as one group views itself superior, even in an underlying manner, true unity cannot be achieved.  

             If the Church cannot lead the way in healing, the cause is lost.  James tells us, in his epistle: James 2:1  My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 
              In context, James is talking about distinguishing between rich and poor, but can we not apply the call to abhor partiality as it relates to ethnic identity, also?  

              Once we understand the very idea of race is a social construct built on bad science and poor religious application, we can focus on the image of God found in each of His children, regardless of color or national heritage.  

              Where the church fails, the nation fails. Sin the church ignores festers in the nation.  

          What can we do differently?  It starts on the individual level. Each of us must look beyond stereotype and social construct, seeing, rather, each person we meet as a beloved workmanship created in the image of God.  It takes loving as we are commanded to love in scripture.  A love that neither request nor requires anything in return and sees beyond the outer layer to the heart.  It even means loving those who may hate us.

           Institutions are made up of individuals so as long as individuals behave institutionally, bad institutional practices will not be overcome.  What is the answer? You are! I am! You and I are the catalyst for change, but only if we surrender our hearts to God's leading and learn to love as He does.  

            Jesus said, "love your neighbor as yourself."  Who is your neighbor? Everyone you see. We are all one race - the human race- so go mix, mingle, love and share life because we are all made in the image of God!

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!