Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.
This month in The Basics With Beth, I am sharing excerpts from my new book, The Spirit Empowered Life.
And, a life empowered by the Spirit starts with receiving Jesus as Lord and being born of the Spirit, or what is known as being born again. Have you been born of the Spirit?
Here’s an excerpt from the My Story section of the book, on my experience in being born of the Spirit. I hope this encourages you in your own story...
I remember the first time I noticed “Spirit Empowered” Christians. I was not yet a born again Christian nor a committed follower of Christ, but during my freshman year in college, I watched Andi, my roommate, (who I had been friends with since third grace) live a life that was full of love for others and full of a contented joy. During our senior year of high school, she had become a born again Christian. It was attractive. Now, as roommates, I watched her get up early in the morning to read her Bible and peace seemed to ooze out of her.
Meanwhile, my life was quite different. Although I had been raised as a Catholic, I was not living for the Lord. Whatever my roommate had, I did not. Acting like I was happy, smoking my cigarettes and living the party life was the way to a big time, in my book. At least that’s what I told myself. Deep down, I was empty. I had felt empty for some time, but had never taken time to recognize it or admit it. Maybe it was because I felt so capable of running my own life and I couldn’t accept or didn’t want to know my role, as “lord of my life” wasn’t working.
I was ten years old when my dad left, and I distinctly remember taking on the “lordship” of my own life and the responsibility of growing up overnight to help my mom. I was in third grade when I called my three younger sisters together for a meeting in the basement. I gave them the plan: “Ok you guys, since we now come from a broken home, everyone is going to expect us to drop out of school and start doing drugs. But we aren’t going to do that. We’re going to stay out of trouble, get good grades and be good kids.” I didn’t ask for any questions or feedback. This is just what we were going to do––the Big Sister of Oz had spoken! Turns out we were good kids, we did stay out of trouble and got good grades––and we partied just enough to not get caught. (When I say we were good kids, I mean good enough. I probably shouldn’t have introduced them to the art of stealing cigarettes from mom’s purse, or taught them how to keep the vodka liquid level in mom’s stash by replacing what we borrowed with water. Ok, so I wasn’t the perfect big sister.)
Watching my childhood friend and roommate float around our dorm room with this radiant love, joy and peace forced me to come face-to-face with my own internal emptiness and I had to admit that my best efforts at “lordship” were not enough––I definitely did not have what she had.
To top off all of my internal emptiness and to convince me thoroughly of my need for a Savior, the Lord must have made certain we were assigned to share our dorm with two other suite mates who were super cool, super cute, super rich and had super good-looking boyfriends. For someone who was not easily intimidated, for the first time in my life, I started to feel insecure. Kim and Kimmie, (yes, their actual names.) had everything a girl could want––plus they had beautiful, long straight hair. I had short, thick, wavy hair and the waves were not in the right places. When I upgraded my hairstyle to a perm’d-mullet, it didn’t help. They had really nice, expensive clothes and I had an eclectic mix of thrift store tomboy jeans, converse tennis shoes and turtlenecks. They had earrings and bracelets made of real gold and I had cheap costume jewelry I took from my mom’s jewelry box. And their homes? Can’t even go there, they were literally the size of apartment buildings that could house 142 people. We lived in a small duplex––my bedroom was in the basement and my walls were covered in red shag carpet, literally.
Compared to my angelic roommate and my super perfect suite mates, the emptiness I felt inside enlarged. After several conversations with Andi and visiting a Bible Study with her (only to see if there were any cute boys––totally wrong motives, I know) I started to read the Bible, secretly. And, to my surprise, God was in His Bible! Seriously. He was in it. It was alive and I felt like He was sitting on my shoulder speaking to my heart whenever I cracked open the pages. I seemed to know that Jesus was knocking on the door of my heart–– asking me to open up and allow Him to come into my heart. Of course, I argued, debated, pondered and delayed making any decisions about the Lord. I only opened the door a crack to talk to Him for a few minutes, but I kept the chain lock engaged, never inviting Him in. What was I holding onto? I don’t know. He was patient.
By the end of my freshman year of college, I was ready to open the door of my heart fully to invite Jesus in. The change came as I was reading the Bible and simply realized the truth––I was a sinner (a good person, but a sinner nonetheless) and I needed a Savior. Jesus was that loving Savior. So, in May 1978, sitting at a friend’s kitchen table, I received Jesus into my life and declared Him as my Lord, when I blurted out, “Ok you guys, I’m gonna be a Christian.” That was it. That was the extent of my salvation prayer. Poof, just like that, I was a “born of” the Spirit and became a born again Christian.
My perm’d mullet remained intact and my fake gold earrings didn’t turn to 14k, but I did experience His complete forgiveness and an internal satisfaction like I had never known. I felt new joy in this relationship with the Lord and I couldn’t get over this book––the Bible! Reading the Bible was unlike any of the textbooks I was reading––it was alive and God was speaking to my heart daily. I felt the flow of His peace fill the deepest part of me and for the first time in my life I experienced the reality of never being alone. It was wonderful! I recall literally thinking that the sky was bluer and the birds were chirping more sweetly than I ever remembered.
Knowing Jesus radically changed my life from the inside…and eventually, the outside.
Perhaps, you're like me, living your life, but empty inside and you know you need Jesus. Maybe you realize, like I did, that you are a sinner and you need a Savior. The Bible says, "If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved." (Romans 10:9-10, NLT)
Are you ready to be completely forgiven , made right with God and saved? If you’ve never openly declared Jesus is Lord of your life, but you’d like to, l invite you to pray one of these prayers...or both!
You could say what I said to the Lord, in front of your family or friends: “Ok you guys, I’m gonna be a Christian.” When I did it, it was from my heart and I meant it––and it stuck.
If you want a more “official” prayer, you could go with this one - pray this out loud, now: “Father, I want to be born again. Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I need Your forgiveness. I believe in my heart that you died for my sins and rose from the dead. Today, I give You my heart. I declare with my mouth, Jesus is my Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and causing me to be born again of Your Spirit. From this day forward, I will follow You as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to follow Your will. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
Congratulations! You’re a born-again Christian! Now, enjoy this wonderful relationship with Jesus.