Born Again?


“Are you a born again Christian?” This was a question posed to me a few months ago and I wasn’t sure how to respond. And so I didn’t. I changed the subject to allow myself time to digest the question and be certain of  my answer.

John 3:1-20 gives us a conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus about this very topic and Jesus tells the man, “You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.'”

Some of my research on born again turned up phrases such as ,”spiritual renewal” “spiritual transformation” and I have definitely had experiences in both of these. I also found that the Greek meaning is “born from above.”

Here is a point of view from a sermon of years ago: “All those who put their trust in Christ, even though they have times of doubt, have been born from above and have been given the gift of the Spirit.”

So…am I a born again Christian? Most definitely.

 

 

What To Do With Jesus


In Christianity the week leading up to Easter Sunday is Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday which was last Sunday.

On that day, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to shouts of acclamation from adoring crowds. However, there was also a crowd who hated Jesus and whose leader had him arrested to stand before Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor under the emperor of Tiberius in the 1st century.

Pilate could find no wrong in the man sent to him to be crucified, and didn’t know what to do with him. But to save his own position, he caved in to the demands of the angry mob and ordered his crucifixion, a horrible death, the capital punishment of the day.

In his sermon on Palm Sunday, our Pastor made a profound statement…”you and I need to decide what we are going to do with Jesus.”

It’s a decision we all have to make sooner or later…no escaping it. I know what I have done with Him. How about you?

 

Out of the Pages


For the last three Sundays, our church, St. Andrew’s Scarborough, has had the privilege of meeting Biblical folk practically face to face.

First it was Peter. He stepped out of the pages of the Bible and spoke to us through Pastor Duncan. He told of his life as a disciple of Jesus and what it was like to be in the company of this amazing man for the three years of his ministry on earth.

The following Sunday we met Mary Magdalene, speaking to us through Pastor Monica. She also told us about how much she had learned and profited from knowing Jesus.

Then, we met Lazarus. What a story he had to tell…what it was like to die and then be called back to life by his best friend, this very same Jesus.

Today we meet the High Priest, Caiaphas. Caiaphas presided over the Sanhedrin, the highest court of the Jewish people, and organized the plot to kill Jesus. I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say for himself. Happy Sunday

 

Saint So and So


Last Sunday’s sermon, “The Feast of Saint Jim”, was very inspiring. We learned that as believers, we are all “saints”.

I don’t know about you but I sure don’t feel very saintly; however I do know people who truly deserve that title.

These are people who give of themselves, their time, resources, energy, and never seem to tire of being saintly, although I’m positive that they don’t see themselves as saints.

It was an excellent sermon, “The Feast of Saint Jim”, and offered much food for thought.

If you are wondering who Saint Jim is, just substitute your own name or the names of people you know who not only believe but act on their beliefs. Go ahead…name a few saints you are acquainted with and the next time you are in their company be sure to say, “Hello, Saint So and So.”

 

The Unseen Force


While watching the leaves on my birch tree fluttering gently in the breeze, it came to me how that movement was very noticeable but the source of the movement was not.

Recalling a recent thunderstorm where my veranda chairs took off across the lawn and tree branches were bent almost to the ground I remember thinking that while the strength of the source was visible, the source itself was not.

Years ago I was blown off my feet by gusting winds while keeping my head down against them. I literally sailed through the air like Mary Poppins, and although I felt the force, I did not see it.

The Holy spirit can be compared to the wind responsible for all these happenings. He is at times an unnoticeable movement in our lives, and at other times a strength that can move deeply rooted trees, and still other times, a gale that can cause us to soar through life even when we’ve got our heads down against the winds of change.

Thanks to our assistant Pastor Monica, who, in doing a five week series on the Holy Spirit, has made me more aware of this unseen force. Happy Sunday.

 

Tree, Palm, Tropical, Wind, Storm, Weather, Nature

 

Worth the Reflection


As always, Sunday’s sermon left our congregation with food for thought. Our pastor said he wasn’t sure where he found the following reflection on 1 Corinthians 13, but knew it would fit nicely into a sermon one day…and Sunday was that day.

Love is patient.  True about me, or not so true?

Love is kind.  Is that the way my friends or family would describe me?

Love is not envious.  Does green with envy describe my usual complexion?

Love is not arrogant.  When I look at other people, am I looking up or looking down?

Love is not rude.  Miss Manners or Biker Bar: which describe my vocabulary?

Love does not insist on its own way.  Hmmm…

Love is not irritable.  Am I touchy-feely, or am I just plain touchy?

Love is not resentful.  Am I driving through life with a U-haul full of old baggage? 

Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  When I think about my life, what causes me to cheer?  The places I’ve stretched the boundaries, or the times I’ve stood for them?

Love bears all things.  Is God growing in me a set of broad shoulders, for myself and for others?

Love believes all things.  Am I someone who sees God’s possibilities?  Do I see them in those around me?

Love hopes all things.  Do God’s promises for my future still excite me?

Love endures all things.  Even when I can’t see those promises, am I still willing to follow?

Love never ends.  Obviously, that’s something that only becomes possible as you and I experience the reality of Christ’s life – of Christ himself living in us.

I, for one, find this truly worth the reflection.

 

Apologize, Forgive, Forget


Sunday was a great learning day for me. The sermon was about the reconciliation of the biblical twin brothers, Jacob and Esau, who had been estranged for twenty years due to Jacob sneakily stealing Esau’s birthright from their father, Isaac, and Esau threatening to kill his brother because of it.

Jacob eventually decided to seek out his twin and make amends; not to just offer his apologies but to see him face to face even though the prospective meeting weighed heavily on him. Here is what the pastor said: “Communication can happen in a lot of different ways, but relationships happen face-to-face.” Isn’t that a heart stirring statement? Just think about it…the awesomeness of a face-to-face reconciliation after months or years of estrangement.

Here is another statement from the sermon that stood out for me: “If there are issues within our families, with people at school or work, or even here within the Church, the path to reconciliation is one that, first, has to bring us face-to-face with God.  Face-to-face.  With all the exposure, and vulnerability, and demand for authenticity that implies. The simple fact is that you’ll never know peace around you until you experience peace inside you.  And you’ll never experience peace inside you until you make peace with God.”

And this comment was the frosting on the cake: “Those who apologize are the bravest, those who forgive are the strongest, those who forget are the happiest.”

How wonderful to be just sitting still, peacefully listening, and have life lessons like this fall into my lap.

Apologize, forgive, forget. Amen.