Trouble Just Comes

It’s Narcissist Friday!

I recently had some serious work done on my car. Before the problem was fixed, it caused other problems. The fix cost about $300, but the problems it caused added another $400. One thing led to another.

And that’s life.

I am a simple person. I believe the story told in the Bible. I believe that God made the world good. Everything worked the way it was supposed to. I don’t know how long that lasted, but I believe that sin ended the harmony. From the point where sin entered the world, things have not been as they should be.

That change affected all of creation. Dangers and illnesses and troubles of all kinds came because of that change. Broken relationships, broken lives, broken climate, broken systems all stem from that point. Starting at that first sin, people have had to work for protection and provision. The world no longer works as it did.

The world is broken. People are broken. Trouble is part of that brokenness. It doesn’t come because God sends it. Nor are you the cause.

Legalists love cause and effect. They suggest that trouble comes not just because of that first sin, but because of your sin. If you are ill, they say you must have done something wrong. If someone hurts you, it must be your fault somehow. If you lose something, you didn’t deserve it in the first place.

In their minds and hearts, God is a cruel judge. When you do something wrong, you should expect punishment. And, conversely, if you experience trouble, it must be some punishment you deserve. God sees and judges the brokenness in you.

And so many people have gone through tragedies believing that they are somehow at fault. They don’t know what they did wrong, or maybe they can point to something, but they believe the trouble is what they deserve. It is hard for them to believe that God loves them.

Listen: God does love you. He doesn’t want to hurt you. He wants to give good to you. The world is broken. Bad things happen. Trouble is part of the struggle the world is in. You and I are caught in it just because we live here.

It isn’t your fault. Sure, you might have made some foolish decisions and, yes, there are consequences for bad decisions. But the tornado that destroyed your home was not sent by God because you did something bad. The flat tire, Covid, the unexpected expense or illness—these are not punishment.

People are broken, too. They make stupid or mean decisions and hurt you. That’s not your fault. That’s their fault. When someone abuses you or deceives you, that’s on them.

This is important. The truth is that God loves you. He is on your side. He walks with you through trouble and suffering. He is not a cruel judge looking for ways to punish your sins. In fact, He sent Jesus to take your sins away because He loved you.

Trust Him!


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What does it mean to keep the faith?

It’s Monday Grace!

“Keep the faith, brother!”

What in the world does that mean?

For many, keeping the faith means to stay strong in the midst of persecution or temptation. It suggests trying and working hard. It means smiling in the face of suffering, professing Christ in the face of opposition, and believing in times of doubt. But it focuses on what we believe and what we do. Doctrine and works.

For too many, “the faith” is simply doctrine and works. Head and hands. But what about heart?

In another place, I have written about the word “keep.” It means to treasure or hold dear. It means to value and embrace and protect. The things we keep are things of the heart. They are things that hold some claim to our identity and strength.

When Jesus tells us to “keep” His commands, He wants us to hold them as valuable. They are valuable because of His love for us. They are His words of caution and commission for us. Yes, they are doctrine and yes, they guide the work of our hands, but they are more than that. They are words of life.

“And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”” (John 8:50–51, NKJV)

“Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” (2 Timothy 1:13–14, NKJV)

So, to “keep the faith” is to stay close to Jesus. Our faith is not in the list of doctrines we believe, nor is it in the work of our service or behavior. Our faith is in Jesus. His life was focused on His Father, and He taught us to focus on Him. As He found glory in His relationship with the Father, so we find glory in our relationship with Jesus.

This is the word and the faith that the saints keep.

“Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12, NKJV)

We belong to Jesus. Remembering that, valuing that, brings us hope and life. We must not slip back under the law, hoping to be judged by our behavior or doctrine. We must hold fast to Jesus alone, trusting that He is sufficient for all that God expects of us.

“keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 21, NKJV)

Jesus is God’s grace for our hearts. He is our hope and promise. He is our provider and deliverer and protector. Mercy and peace and joy come out of our relationship with Jesus.

Keep your eyes on Him, and you will keep the faith!


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Speak the truth

It’s Narcissist Friday!

One thing almost all narcissists share is a loose relationship with the truth. That’s a nice way of saying that they lie. Narcissists may be defined by their self-focus and willingness to depersonalize others, but their behavior almost always involves lying. In fact, many narcissists seem to prefer the lie over the truth. Even when the truth wouldn’t hurt them, they still choose to lie.

As I have studied this and watched it in action, I have come to the conclusion that this is not because the narcissist devalues the truth. It’s because he/she devalues the rest of us. You and I are not worth the truth. They don’t care if we know they are lying. They don’t care if they are caught in a lie. Especially by you or me. The fact that they lower themselves to speak with us at all should thrill us. Sharing the truth simply is not necessary.

You see, telling the truth values the other person. It means that you care enough to speak thoughtfully. The truth might be uncomfortable to speak, for you or for your listener, but you care enough to speak it anyway.

The narcissist simply does not care. You are nothing to him/her. Jesus makes this connection as He speaks plainly to the Jewish leaders.

“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44, NKJV)

The connection between lying and murder is not something common to our thinking, but Jesus understood that depersonalizing the other person is the cause of both. The devil hates us and thinks of us as nothing, so he seeks to deceive and hurt us. Narcissists may not be the devil, as some victims feel, but they work for him. When they lie, they reveal their perspective on others.

It is no coincidence that the people who seek the limelight, the affirmation and attention of others, are also known for their lies. Politicians, actors, managers, and, yes, even preachers and teachers—all are known for their self-interest and willingness to pervert the truth.

If you want to differentiate yourself from the narcissists and abusers, you will want to speak the truth. If you value your family and neighbors and others, you will want to speak the truth. With love as your primary motive (something the narcissist cannot understand) you know that the truth is important.

Paul told the Ephesians to “speak the truth in love.” That combination is sometimes challenging, but always powerful and always right. The truth may cause some pain, but not as much as a lie. The lie adds insult to injury, as they say. Not only does the person not have the benefit of the truth, but they have also lost your trust.

So, speak the truth. Gently. Kindly. With prayer and wisdom. But don’t lie.


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What does it mean to be a babe in Christ?

It’s Monday Grace!

Several years ago, my wife was explaining the concept of God’s love and grace to a woman who had been a believer for many years. The woman believed, as so many do, that the law was central in the Christian life and working hard to please God was the goal. When she heard the message that God accomplishes in us all that He wants accomplished, that our primary goal is to walk in His presence and love, she replied:

“Well, that’s nice. That’s basic.”

In other words, that was a doctrine for babes in Christ. Mature believers understood the burden of the law and focused on their performance.

Perhaps childhood was the only good time in this woman’s life. Now, as an adult, she knew that life was hard and usually frustrating. She was one of those who believed that the will of God was most often the most difficult way. Suffering was the only real test of being in the will of God.

“This message of grace is a children’s story!”

I wish! I wish that all children could grow up knowing that Jesus loves them, that they cannot become good enough on their own, and that Jesus gives all that is necessary as we come to Him in faith.

I wish that all new believers would be taught from the beginning that grace is the work of God on their behalf emanating from His amazing love. I wish new believers would be taught the continued futility of trying to live the Christian life on their own as a process of bettering themselves in order to be fully accepted and loved by God. If “babes in Christ” understood the work of the Lord in and through and for them, they would become fully mature and alive.

But, I understand. Paul used this term as a negative, didn’t he?

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:1, NKJV)

The legalist says that carnal people, babes in Christ, need the solid food of the law, the hard message of the struggle of the Christian life. He laments the soft message of love the grace teachers bring.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:12–14, NKJV)

But let me flip this right-side up. Carnal people, people who follow the flesh, are performance-focused. They believe their works will be the criteria by which they are judged. That’s what they were taught by their life apart from the Lord. That’s what they learned from the time they were babies. Now, as adults, they still think the same thing. They think of themselves as wise and superior because their performance is hard work.

That is neither the message of the cross nor the proper focus of the Christian life. As we grow in grace, we should be growing away from the law and from performance. Not that we should be more willing to sin, but that we should understand that Jesus is our whole life. When our heart focus is Jesus alone, in contrast to the flesh’s focus on the world and self-pleasure, then we are mature in Christ.

The proper focus of the Christian life is Jesus, not our works or our doctrine or our behavior. Those things fall into place as we walk with Jesus. That’s what mature believers understand.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” (Philippians 3:12–16, NKJV)

Paul is not suggesting that we are to run the race in order to win, but that we are to focus on the prize that is already ours as we go through our days, that for which Christ has “laid hold” of us. We run as winners, looking forward to the end. We are not at the end, have not “apprehended,” but all the striving and sweating and frustration are behind us now. Those who are mature have Christ in mind and heart. We receive what He has done for us. We enjoy Who He is in our lives. We look forward to being separated from this world and with Him forever. He is our prize. He is enough.


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Embrace the Suck

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Okay, I know. “Suck” is not a term nice people use. I’m sorry.

Now that’s over, let me explain the phrase. The military has used “embrace the suck” as a way of telling their people to look past the difficult circumstances and stay on target. The challenges are just part of the job. Might as well embrace them and keep going.

Some of us can only imagine the difficult environments encountered by people on the front lines of combat. Dry and hot, wet and cold, threats of attack or illness or accident. Under pressure from the enemy, from subordinates, from superiors, from the public, and from home. Bad clothing, bad food, complicated equipment, on and on and on. The front lines are hard.

But the “suck” is part of military life. Fighting against it will only make things worse. The soldier could grumble against the heat and the sand, but things would not change. He or she could hate the mud and insects and rain, but none of it would stop. In order to get the job done, the soldier must “embrace the suck” and keep going.

Of course, that’s true in all our lives, isn’t it? Our environments might not be as hostile or uncomfortable as the soldiers face, but they are still difficult for us. And some people have situations where they would gladly risk front-line combat rather than face another day.

Now, I have to be careful here. Nothing I am saying should be seen as minimizing the struggle you face. Your situation might be truly bad. I have heard some very troubling stories from those in difficult relationships and circumstances. Nothing I would like to face, that’s for sure.

No, the suck is real, and it does suck. But when there is nothing you can do about it, you must find a way to acknowledge it as reality and move forward. If you can do something about it, perhaps you should. But that might not happen today or even tomorrow. In the meantime, grumbling and whining won’t help. Forward progress, whatever that means in your situation, will change things. The best way out is usually through.

Military families usually have it rough. Distant relationships with long separations. Fear of injury or capture or death. Desires for home and peace and reunion. And the only way out is through. Getting through is a process of embracing the suck.

Jesus said that the suck is real, only He called it “tribulation.” He told us that He would be with us, and He would be our peace. Accepting the tribulation and finding comfort in Him is part of the Christian life.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”” (John 16:33, NKJV)

Yes, there is good that comes to our lives during these difficult times. We grow and learn and draw closer to the Lord through the suffering. But nowhere does the Bible or the Lord suggest that the suffering is not real. In fact, the call is not to be pulled out of it, but to endure it while drawing peace and comfort from the Lord.

The day will come when the suck ends. In that day there will be lasting peace and joy for us.

Until that day, we accept the brokenness of this world and the trouble it brings. We “embrace the suck,” knowing that our hope is in Jesus.


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What does it mean to eat His flesh and drink His blood?

It’s Monday Grace!

It scandalized the Jews.

It disgusted the Romans.

These Christians were blasphemers. They were cannibals. Even to talk about eating someone’s flesh and drinking his blood was so far beyond human propriety that outsiders rejected the believers as crazy. If that’s what it takes to be a Christian, no one would want it.

Yet, for 2000 years believers have gathered together to remember the sacrifice of Jesus by sharing the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion.

The details and meaning of communion are matters of debate among believers. Some think it saves. Some think the elements actually turn into the flesh and blood of the Lord. Some believe that only the priest or some member of the clergy can serve it. Some think it is just a symbolic expression, without meaning except for the tradition. Some celebrate it at home with their families.

In John 6, Jesus says something dramatic:

“Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”” (John 6:53–58, NKJV)

Frankly, if anyone else said that, we would think it was creepy. But this was Jesus. And even His closest disciples found it hard to accept.

You might be in a church where you take communion every week. Or perhaps every quarter. Maybe it has been a long time. What’s the big deal anyway?

I am convinced that the ritual of the Lord’s Supper is not as important as the meaning of Jesus’ words. Yes, He did establish (or ordain) such a ritual for His disciples. Yes, the church has celebrated communion for its entire history. But sometimes the ritual gets in the way of the message.

What do flesh and blood represent in your mind? If you sacrificed your flesh and blood, as Jesus did, what would you be giving? Your life! Isaiah said that the Messiah would be poured out for His people. His life would flow from Him to them. All of it. His very flesh and blood.

When we came to Jesus for salvation, we accepted the exchange He offered us. We might not have fully understood, but the Scripture is clear that we died to sin and this world at that time. Our life was taken away with His on the cross. We died with Him, the text says.

And then we rose with Him. The life in us from that point on was His life. We are still us, but the life in us, the very flesh and blood, is His.

How would you illustrate taking someone’s life into yourself? Jesus used this idea of eating and drinking. It is a very human and fundamental idea. We all eat and drink. That’s how life comes into us. So, Jesus says, eat and drink Me! Take my life, He says.

Yes, it is odd. Communion has always been odd. The church has made it a matter of disagreement and formal ritual. That’s unfortunate. It is supposed to remind us where real life comes from. It comes from Jesus.

I should stop there, but I want to suggest something that might get me into trouble. If you have not been to church for a while, if your church practices only the ritual without the message, or if communion became something negative for you, you could do it on your own at home. I know some will think that’s improper, but it is important to remind yourself that the life in you comes from Jesus.

Find a quiet time. Find some bread and grape juice or wine. I wouldn’t use coke and potato chips as some do, simply because it seems to trivialize what Jesus did. He did not just take common things. He transformed an already serious and special celebration that was full of meaning for the people. He took the ritual and made it a personal thing between Himself and His disciples.

As you eat and drink in this way, remember what Jesus did for you. Remember that He was the Passover lamb, the sufficient sacrifice. There is great mystery in all of this, but the message is important. Jesus took away your old life and separated you from it forever. Then He gave you His life, His eternal life. Now the two of you are forever bound, never to be separated.

If communion reminds you of the presence and love of Jesus and the life He gave to you, then you get the message!


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My Friend, Bob

It’s Narcissist Friday!

My friend, Bob, recently passed away from pneumonia/Covid. I could summarize his life by simply saying that he loved Jesus. He called himself, “Johnny One-note,” because he could only tell people about Jesus. As a counselor and pastor, his life touched so many people. Yet, he never became famous or wealthy. All the praise went to Jesus.

When I first met Bob, I didn’t like him. He was on a council that examined my beliefs as I came into the denomination. He seemed full of himself. He was too blunt, too much in my face, and unkind. Yet he became one of my closest friends.

I came to realize that the reason Bob rubbed me so wrong was that he wasn’t about me. He was not particularly impressed with me. He didn’t care whether I liked him as he asked his questions. And he expected me to understand the gospel I was presenting. All of that was foreign to most of my experience.

I was used to people who didn’t like me, but Bob didn’t dislike me. I was used to people who would spread lies and oppose me, but Bob had no interest or intention of doing either. What troubled me was that Bob didn’t seem to care about me one way or the other.

Now, I have taught about narcissism for a long time. I have taught grace for a longer time. And I have known Jesus even longer. Through all of that, I have had to look more closely at myself.

You see, there really is a little narcissism in each of us. I never say that we are all narcissists. I don’t consider myself a narcissist, and I doubt that you are one. But we were taught by life to focus on ourselves. We learned to promote ourselves, provide for ourselves, and protect ourselves. The flesh in us (the way we learned to handle life without God) only knows itself and not very well.

The problem with Bob was that I wanted him to either like me or dislike me. Either way, I could make it about me. Either Bob would be my friend and admirer, or he would be my enemy. His part in my life would center on me. But God used Bob to show me that there is life apart from me. The world, believe it or not, does not revolve around me.

As I write that, I realize how lame it sounds. I should have known that for a long time. It’s called growing up. But knowing that the world doesn’t revolve around me and allowing that reality to be okay with me are two different things. So many of our emotions remind us (if we let them) that we still think the world should revolve around us. Anger, sadness, jealousy, fear: these things pull us away from the world and into ourselves.

Jesus wants us to understand that He loves us because of who He is, rather than because of who we are. Yes, we are special to Him, but not because we bring any value or benefit to Him. He loves us because He is love. We are important to Him because He has set His heart on us.

When we understand this kind of love, then we will be free to love others. I found that Bob was one of the most loving men I have ever known. Again, I didn’t learn this because it met my fleshly needs of attention or admiration. I learned it because Bob had one purpose in mind when he thought of me: he knew that Jesus loved me. Because Jesus loved me, Bob loved me. And Bob’s only purpose in our relationship was to draw both of us closer to Jesus.

Someday, perhaps you will meet someone who isn’t impressed with you and refuses to be either your admirer or your opponent. And maybe that person will see you as someone Jesus loves, instead of someone useful in his or her life. Understanding that relationship will help you understand something of your place in life. And accepting that place will bring you freedom and joy.


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What does it mean to be baptized?

It’s Monday Grace!

Prepare yourself. I am about to write something that might be unpopular.

Would you baptize an unbeliever, an unsaved person? If not, then how could baptism save anyone? Or how could baptism be a requirement for salvation? If the person who is baptized is already proclaiming faith in Jesus, then baptism cannot be required in order to be saved.

Now, I understand that my reasoning would not be accepted by some people or some churches. That’s okay. It’s just how I see things.

I have been in two very different denominations in my career. In the first one, baptism was given to infants because the church wasn’t quite certain that it didn’t save. In other words, while the official doctrine said that baptism was not necessary, the people were pretty convinced that getting a baby baptized took care of things with God as far as that child was concerned. You didn’t have to go to church, didn’t even have to believe anything in particular, but you did have to be baptized.

The second denomination was more in the Baptist line. Babies could not be baptized. Children had to be a certain age or have a certain understanding of doctrine. Adults who became believers had to be baptized. Not right away necessarily, but baptism was expected. No one could lead the church who wasn’t baptized. Anyone who made it known that they were not baptized would be suspect. If you wanted to be a “real” Christian, you had to be baptized.

Some of these topics would make better theological texts than blog posts, of course. Thousands of pages have been written on baptism. The bottom line is that Jesus did ask us to be baptized. It was a public statement of personal faith. How public? Well, some early church architecture suggests that it was only for the church or for the leadership to see. No one was forced to go to the local pool. On the other hand, baptism was not really optional for a believer who wanted to do what Jesus said.

Like communion, the church has gone in many different directions on baptism. Churches have split over whether the one being baptized is dunked face forward or backward. And, of course, baptism has provided many other opportunities for believers to disagree and separate. Interesting, isn’t it?

So, I won’t claim to have any definitive word on baptism or even any great wisdom to offer. Instead, I would just call us to relax. This is supposed to be a good thing. We are far better at making rules and rituals and obligations than we are at enjoying what the Lord has given us.

If the church you are attending requires baptism for membership and you feel like you should join, then be baptized. It won’t hurt you. You should, perhaps, look carefully at the other things the church requires of you or will require of you in the future. If you simply don’t want to be baptized, you should ask yourself why you would want to follow Jesus in other things but not this. And you should allow the Spirit to work in the lives of others as they sort this out.

What is Jesus leading you to do? That’s the only question that matters. To identify yourself with the Church through baptism is not the same as identifying yourself with a church through baptism. If you are uncomfortable going through the public ritual in front of others, maybe you could ask a believing friend to go with you to the lake. Contrary to what many think, I can find nothing in the Scripture that says only clergy can baptize someone.

Well, before I lose readers, I should stop. Maybe it’s too late. My point is this. Baptism is a response to the love of Jesus. It should be handled by the church and in the church only in the context of that love. Baptism can be a very meaningful and memorable way of saying that you belong to Jesus forever.

Just remember that it is a statement of what is already true in your life. You belong to Jesus “by grace through faith.”


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Never Stop Learning

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Learning is growing. Growing is empowering. Empowering is the way to freedom.

My dad quit school in the tenth grade. He had moved a lot as a kid and simply hated going to school. So, he learned to weld and found a way to support himself. But that was not the end of his learning. He was always learning. From investments to raising animals to building and more, he studied and experimented and learned.

His days were before easy learning on the internet. He never even went to the library. If he wanted a book, he would buy it. But he usually talked with people who knew what he didn’t and learned from them.
It seems to me that we should never stop learning. Growing in knowledge and experience is one of the best ways to stay separate from those who want to control us. When you feel trapped, stuck in a job or a lifestyle, you begin to be discouraged or depressed. Those are vulnerable times.

Controllers like narcissists and other abusers want to make you dependent on them for life. You don’t want that. They want you to look to them for information. You don’t need that. They want you to come to them for freedom and joy. You should be able to find that for yourself.

One of the best ways to feel free is to learn new things. To push your knowledge or experience just a little. Things you can do are especially empowering, new skills or techniques. But any learning is good. If you like history, read about it (even if you find it hard to apply in your life). Study why certain things work in recipes or learn what to do if you have a problem with your car. These are things that might not apply right away, but they will increase your perspectives and give you encouragement.

Be prepared for the narcissist to mock or try to stop your learning. He/she is afraid you will know something more or better. The abuser doesn’t think he needs to grow because his problem is that others don’t see his superiority. Not much sense in investing the time to learn if no one will notice, he thinks. But he will be afraid of you learning new things.

I am often surprised, even dismayed, to learn how many people have no hobbies, no interests outside their work or home life. In fact, this hints at depression. They will say that there is no time or energy for anything other than survival. Then they will tell me they feel trapped.

Another thing I often hear is that a person was interested in many things, constantly learning and growing, until the narcissist came into their lives. Slowly but surely, the narcissist began taking over, pushing away everything except a focus on him/her. The abuser sees other interests as competition.

All the more reason to get a good book and read it. Something that will teach you a new way or a new skill or a new thought. These days you can read free books on your phone. There are interest organizations where you will meet others who can help you learn. And, yes, there are still libraries filled with information. The possibilities are many if you are interested.

Don’t be surprised or discouraged if you learn something and quickly find that it no longer interests you. Go to something else. You might go back to the first thing after while or not. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you work toward growing.

I believe that the Lord will guide you in this. He has made a world full of marvels, fascinating and wonderful things for us to study and enjoy. Ask Him to guide you. Ask Him to give you just enough time. Ask Him to lead you to people and books and other resources. He will.

And every day you will be a little stronger, a little smarter, and a little more free. Every day.


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What does it mean to be “born again”?

It’s Monday Grace!

If something is important, you will try to say it in differing ways to get the message across. When Jesus talked about salvation, He used several illustrations and analogies.

Jesus spoke of redeeming (buying) those who were in bondage. He told of finding those who were lost. He would resurrect those who were dead. He would heal those who were broken. And, of course, saving those who were perishing. All of these are illustrations of some aspect of salvation.

But one of the best known of these is the idea of those who were lost and dead and defeated and broken and hopeless being born again. Jesus told Nicodemus that anyone who wanted to see Heaven would have to be born again. Nicodemus asked the obvious question.

“Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”” (John 3:4, NKJV)

Jesus went on to answer that this new life is not one of the flesh but of the Spirit. And how would this happen, Nicodemus asked.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:14–16, NKJV)

To be born again is to receive the new life Jesus offers. Does that mean we have two lives? No, the old life passes away. It dies with Christ on the cross. Then, we are born again—fresh and new—just like a brand new baby.

Think about that. We have become brand new. No more stain of sin. No more fear of condemnation. No more bondage. The old life with its struggles is gone. The new has come.

We are, as they used to say, “Resurrection people!” Not only was Jesus resurrected, but we were as well. And the life in us is His life. Never again to be lost or separated from God. Never again stained by sin or in bondage. Never again to die.

Yes, I know that the flesh remembers the old life. It is hard for us to believe what has happened to us. Greater than winning any lottery. More amazing than sudden wealth or health or love. What has happened to us is more than anything we can imagine.

So, our flesh finds it hard to believe and pulls us back. We forget who we are and what has been done for us. Because we remember the old life with its pain and compromise, we forget what we have today.

But we have been born again. Almost as though we entered “a second time into our mother’s womb.” As beautiful and precious as a newborn baby is, the stain of sin was still on each of us. But this time, the new life has no stain, no compromise, no shame. All of that has been washed away by Jesus.

Yes, you must be born again to enter Heaven. But finding that new life is simply a matter of asking Jesus. Ask Him to wash away your sin and give you that new life. He wants to do it. You don’t have to go to a priest or a pastor or get up in front of everybody. You can just talk with Jesus and trust that He will lead you.

Nicodemus could not comprehend what Jesus was saying. Frankly, it is difficult for us, even those of us who have been through it. But being “born again” is real. And good.

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