Illustration results for Born Again
Bible Reading UpL Today, 45% of U.S. adults read the Bible during a typical week, not including when they are at church, up from 31% in ‘95. The rise is largely due to increased reading among Baby Busters and residents of the western states. 67% of born again individuals read the Bible at least weekly and 88% of evangelicals do so. (Barna Online 4/11/05)
HEALING HOUSE: "I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD."
Healing House is in Kansas City, Ks. It's a home for drug addicts started by a woman named Bobbie Jo. Bobbie Jo had been walking the streets for many years but then someone cared enough to share the Gospel with her and she was born again. At the same time, her mother died and left her an inheritance. She knew that many of the women who were drug addicts turned to the streets to support their habits. When they were arrested, put in jail and then released, they had no place to go. So they went back to working the streets. So with her inheritance, Bobbie Jo bought an old retirement home that was boarded up and rehabbed it. She invited the ladies to come and live there and as they did, she would share the Gospel with them. Well, that home got filled up and then a pimp moved next door. She started praying for that house, gathered some more resources and bought that house. It filled up and she bought another and then an apartment complex. One woman whose life was racked with sin but who had been freed from it, then passed on the Good news through which they became free.
At Christmas time, they would take an offering from the ladies who would give out of their meager earnings. They would buy presents and then take them to the homeless on the streets that they knew saying, "This is a Christmas gift for you to remind you that there is still hope and there's a Savior who can save you." Last Christmas Eve, they pulled into a gas station to fill up the house van and two police officers were there. He recognized one of the girls in the van and walked over and said to her, "What are you doing here? I thought you were dead." He recognized another and then another and said, to all of them, "I thought you all were dead"! He called his partner over and showed him the women saying, "They're alive!" And in truth, they were dead, dead in their sins but now they were alive in a Savior who was born as a babe 2000 years ago. This I know: all of us need to be saved from something and this Jesus came to save you.
THE TRUTH OF THE BOOK
John Ortberg states
"It’s a strange thing: the book has never been so accessible. According to Guinness Book of Records, L. Ron Hubbard’s writings of scientology have been translated into 65 languages; the Koran is supposed to be read in Arabic so it hasn’t been translated as much; the Book of Mormon is in about 100 languages. But 2,656 languages have all or some of the Bible. Some 65 million copies of the Bible are brought or distributed in the U.S. every year--nothing else is a close second. The average house has at least three. People cheer the Bible, buy the Bible, give the Bible, own the Bible-they just don’t actually read the Bible. According to George Gallup: One Third of those surveyed know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Fewer than half can name the first book of the Bible; 80 percent of born-again Christians believe the phrase Go helps those who help themselves is in the Bible (it’s Ben Franklin, if you’re curious). So I’m thinking a lot these days about how to help the people that God brings my way to know and love the book" (Article People of The Book, pages 37-40 from Leadership Edition Winter 2008).
Eugene Peterson in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction writes, “It is not difficult in our world to get a person interested in the message of the Gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest. Millions of people in our culture make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to have been born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusia...
The Resurrection of the Dead
Avijah Powers felt moderately sure nobody would recognize him when he registered under an assumed name at the little inn. It was more than twenty years since he had left the town--a hard,
reckless boy, running away from a good father and a devoted mother because he hated goodness and loved lawlessness and his own way.
For years he had led the life of a vagabond. Then the spirit of adventure was aroused in him by the stories of the wealth of the Klondike. He joined one of the earliest parties, in that hazardous search for gold, and succeeded beyond his dreams. Now he had come back, with his old instincts, but with the wealth of a millionaire, and some strange compulsion led him to the village where he first drew breath.
He did not even know whether his parents were living or dead. It was altogether likely they were dead. With that conviction and without asking a question, he made his way in the August twilight to the graveyard, and to the spot where for three generations his ancestors had been laid.
Yes, there were new stones placed since he had been there. The sight moved him strangely. He bent to read the inscription on the first one. It was to the memory of his father, "Died, 1884. ’Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.’"
The date cut the man to the heart. His father had died a year after the only son had run away! And his mother had been left alone! But perhaps she had followed her husband mercifully soon. Again he bent to read, this time with tear-filled eyes, "Died, 1902. ’And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’"
His mother had been alone for eighteen years! She was but just dead -- in poverty, perhaps; certainly in loneliness. He drew himself up as if to shake off a hideous dream.
But the other stone - whose grave could that mark? They had no relatives except some distant cousins. Perhaps some one of them had done for his mother what he ought to have done in her long, desolate years. Again he stooped to read - his own name. "Abijah Powers. Born 1870; died--. ’The only son of his mother, and she was a widow.’"
It was his own gravestone, set up by his mother when her hope of his return was dead. Out of the depth of his memory there flashed up the story of the widow of Nain, and the gracious presence which spoke the word of life to her dead son. How many times his mother must have read and re-read the page, and how frequently she must have prayed that her boy, bone of her bone, and flesh of her flesh, might be given back to her arms!
The thought was anguish to the graceless son, and it brought him to his knees beside his own empty grave. With his hand resting over his mother’s head he wept as he had not wept since he was a child. They were gracious drops. Out of the mother’s love, which had found its cold comfort in the words of scripture for the grave that was no grave, there came, indeed, the resurrection of the real, living soul.
The widow’s son went out of the graveyard that night a new man. The world wondered what had happened to him. Money did not often make a man over from a devil to a saint; but that miracle seemed to have been worked in Abijah Powers. Nobody knew that the transformation did not come from the touch of Klondike gold, but from the power of love -- reaching from beyond the vale, and speaking from the cold marble of a gravestone.
James O. Davis
Jesus said the times before His second coming would include a multiplication sign, a mental sign, a moral sign, and a miracle sign. Concerning the latter, He was talking about the nation of Israel. He reminds us to keep our eyes on the fig tree. When it begins to blossom you know the end is near. Israel is the historical miracle in world civilization. She had been extinct as a nation for over 1,900 years, ever since Titus and the Roman legions marched into Jerusalem in 70 AD and nearly obliterated the Jewish people, forcing them out of their own country. The people were slaughtered and Israel died as a nation that day. But she was born again in one day. Isaiah predicted it would happen. On May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation again. David Ben Gurion signed the Declaration of Independence. Jesus said when the fig tree buds the kingdom is at hand.
Sermon Central Staff
Although at times it seems as though the church is in ruin and rubble, God sees it as a beautiful building.
Clinker bricks are bricks that did not quite make it. For some reason or another, they come out of the kiln misshapen or deformed. I read about a Presbyterian Church in New York State that was intentionally built of clinker bricks. Apparently, the congregation wanted to send a message, so they build their church of imperfect, rejected bricks. [“Clinker bricks and Ebenezers,” May 2, 1999, Exeter Congregational United Church of Christ Web Site, users.rcn.com.] The message is that we are all clinker bricks, we are sinners, we are imperfect people full of follies and foibles, but through Christ we become living stones in his church.
We do not become living stones because we are so great. It is Christ who is great. We are connected into his church through him.
(From a sermon by Larry Wise, Precious In His Sight, 2/24/2010)
MEMORIAL DAY, A TIME FOR HEALING
Memorial Day, perhaps more than any other holiday, was born of human necessity. Deep inside all of us lies a fundamental desire to make sense of life and our place in it and the world. What we have been given, what we will do with it and what we will pass to the next generation is all part of an unfolding history, a continuum that links one soul to another.
Abraham Lincoln pondered these thoughts in the late fall of 1863. His darkest fear was that he might well be the last president of the United States, a nation embroiled in the self-destruction of what he described as "a great civil war..testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure." He began his remarks with those words as he stood on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19th of that year.
The minute’s speech that became known as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address turned into what might be called the first observance of Memorial Day. Lincoln’s purpose that day was to dedicate a portion of the battlefield as a cemetery for the thousands of men, both living and dead, who consecrated that soil in the sacrifice of battle. Said Abraham Lincoln: "That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause which they gave the last full measure of devotion...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom..."
The next year, a pleasant Sunday in October of 1864 found a teenage girl, Emma Hunter, gathering flowers in a Boalsburg, Pennsylvania cemetery to place on the grave of her father. He was a surgeon who had died in service to the Union Army in that great Civil War. Nearby, Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer was strewing flowers upon the grave of her son Amos, a private who had fallen on the last day of the battle of Gettysburg. Emma respectfully took a few of her flowers and put them on the grave of Amos. Mrs. Meyer, in turn, laid some of her freshly cut blooms on the grave of Dr. Hunter. Both women felt a lightening of their burdens by this act of honoring each other’s loss, and agreed to meet again the next year. This time they agreed they would also visit the graves of those who had no one left to honor them.
Both Emma Hunter and Elizabeth Meyer returned to the cemetery in Boalsburg on the day they had agreed, Independence Day, July 4, 1865. This time, though, they found themselves joined by nearly all the residents of the town. Dr. George Hall, a clergyman, offered a sermon, and the community joined in decorating every grave in the cemetery with flowers and flags. The custom became an annual event at Boalsburg, and it wasn’t long before neighboring communities established their own "Decoration Day" each spring.
About that same time in 1865, a druggist in Waterloo, New York, Henry C. Welles, began promoting the idea of decorating the graves of Civil War veterans. He gained the support of the Seneca County Clerk, General John B. Murray, and they formed a committee to make wreaths, crosses and bouquets for each veteran’s grave. On May 5, 1866, war veterans marching to martial music led processions to each of three cemeteries, where the graves were decorated and speeches were made by General Murray and local clergymen. The village itself was also decorated with flags at half-mast, evergreen boughs and mourning black streamers.
Also, as the Civil War was coming to a close in the spring of 1865, Women’s Auxiliaries of the North and South moved from providing relief to the families and soldiers on their own sides to joining in efforts to preserve and decorate the graves of both sides. A woman of French extraction and leader of the Virginia women’s movement, Cassandra Oliver Moncure, took responsibility of coordinating the activities of several groups into a combined ceremony on May 30. It is said that she picked that day because it corresponded to the Day of Ashes in France, a solemn day that commemorates the return of the remains of Napoleon Bon...
Many people find beetles and bugs somewhat creepy, but if here’s one beetle in the world that could turn you into a beetle lover - the jewel scarab.
Jewel scarabs live in the jungles of Honduras and have the shape of your regular Christmas beetle. But their colours are so dazzling and beautiful that they can sell for up to $500 a beetle.
Beautiful flaming reds, bright golds, silvers that resemble bright, shiny chrome. Even the beetle hater finds jewel scarabs dazzling and beautiful!
But the jewel scarab’s beauty doesn’t come automatically. Every scarab has modest, even ugly beginnings.
The scarab starts life as a soft, mushy, grey-white grub growing inside a rotting tree stump.
They spend their life like this for around a year, until finally, when the rainy season arrives, the adult scarabs emerge soft bodied and pale.
Then within hours, their bodies harden and their splendid colours show.
They only live for another three months, but what a glorious existence it is.
People are just like scarabs. We may not feel terribly beautiful and attractive. In fact there may be parts of you that feel distinctly ugly – and I’m not talking just about your body, but about your spirit, your mind, your thought life, your character, your home.
But it’s the work of the Spirit of God to make us beautiful.
It may seem to take a lifetime, but as the Spirit works on us, we will emerge as beautiful, dazzling, shining creatures gloriously bearing the image of our Creator.
She was nearly blind. She was born on April 14, 1866 to Irish immigrants. Life was hard and from the age of three her vision began to fail. To add insult to injury, Annie’s mother died at when she was eight to tuberculosis. Her younger two sisters were farmed out to relatives. Annie tried to care for her father by herself. But at the age of nine, she was sent to Massachusetts State Poorhouse in Tewksberry. He poor vision, though, became a blessing in disguise and at the age of fourteen a new institute welcomed her into their open arms, the Perkins Institute for the blind.
Six years later, Annie at the age of twenty would graduate from college. Then on March 3, 1887, Annie stepped from a train into a small town in Alabama where she was met by a young mother named Kate. Kate had a daughter who had been born with all of her senses but at the age of nineteen months she had become deaf and blind. Kate’s daughter was named Helen.
So began the fascinating story of a teacher who was almost blind, who opened the world to a seven year old child, who couldn’t see, who couldn’t speak, who couldn’t hear. Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller would be inseparable in life. It was indeed, the blind leading the blind.
In fact they would even be united in death for in Washington Cathedral, along with presidents, life Woodrow Wilson and his wife, Edith, there would be a special chapel reserved for them and there Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller would be buried in that chapel, together in Washington’s Cathedral.
It was long after Annie’s death that Helen Keller spoke at a ceremony at Radcliffe College where she had gone and received her degree. That day a fountain was being dedicated in honor of Annie Sullivan, Helen’s teacher. Although Helen could speak at this time, although Helen was a prolific author at this time, although Helen was a world traveler at this time and welcomed in the halls of Parliament and in the courts of kings and queens. Although was a highly intelligent woman and had made speeches all over the world. . . . . but on that day, emotion overwhelmed Helen and when it came time for her to speak at the dedication of the flowing fountain, she uttered one word. One word. . . . . just one word. The same word that was signed into her hand over and over and over by her teacher. The word that had opened her world. The word that had connected her back to the land of the living. At that moment, standing before a fountain in Boston, Helen’s mind went back to a little Alabama town where she had raced from the house so frustrated and went to her favorite hideout by the well.
Her teacher, Annie, had found her there and she had began to pump water from the well and as it splashed over Helen’s hands, Annie began to sign that one word over and over again into Helen’s hands. Until from the memory dredged up when she was nineteen months old, she remembered a word, a word that she had spoken, and she began to try to speak that single word. That same word that the now-eloquent Helen spoke at a dedication ceremony, seventy-three years later. The shortest public speech in history, a single word. That word. . . . . water.
I found a quote from Annie Sullivan. She said, “Love is something like the clouds that are in the sky. You can’t touch them, you know. But you feel the rain and you know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You can’t touch love either. . . But you can feel the sweetness that it pours into everything.”