Ask & Love
This is a short story and testimony of events and miracles that changed our lives. My name is Allan and my wife’s name is Susan. I am an airline pilot who was raised as a Protestant (Presbyterian) and my wife is a nurse who was raised as a Catholic. We dedicate this testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ, who loves us all.
Our story begins in the fall of 1996 when I was asked to teach a Bible Study class on the book of Revelation in our Presbyterian church. During that particular time in my life, I had not been reading the Bible regularly and my prayer time involved only an occasional prayer before bed. However as I prepared for teaching the Revelation class, I started to get back into Bible Study and started praying regularly. Wonderful things started happening, which is not unusual when you read the Bible and pray regularly. God started to show me things through coincidences. Coincidences are occurrences that happen by accident but seem to have some connection to each other. But these occurrences were not by accident - God was causing them. My wife, Susan, refers to these events as “God-cidences.” Perhaps you too have experienced “God-cidences” in your life.
Several “God-cidences” occurred for me during and after the Revelation Bible class. For example, on Sunday morning, Susan and I were driving to church and I told her that several weeks ago I believed that God was only occasionally involved in our daily lives. I would have guessed that perhaps 10% of the time God was guiding us and the other 90% of the time the events in our lives just happened by chance. Now, however, my attitude had changed, and I believed that I had the numbers reversed. It may be more accurate to say that God was involved in 90% of our lives and that only 10% of the time things were by chance. I mentioned to her that the phrase “small world” implied coincidence, but I didn’t believe in mere coincidence any more. To me the phrase “small world” now meant that God was involved in our lives and that He was making things happen. God is in control and He has a plan for each one of us. I continued to talk with my wife about the phrase “small world” until we arrived at church. The church service began and it was just a few minutes into the sermon when the minister stated, “Oh, isn’t it a small world?” Throughout the sermon he continually used that “small world” phrase just as Susan and I had done while driving to church that morning. It is a small world and now when I hear that phrase, I know that God is doing something and we need to take notice because He is involved in our lives.
After the church service I noticed a display of free pamphlets near the church library. The pamphlets covered various subjects such as communion, baptism, and the Holy Spirit. Our church rarely talked about the Holy Spirit. I knew the Father as the Creator and the Son as Jesus, but I didn’t know very much about the Holy Spirit. So I took a pamphlet about the Holy Spirit home and read it. It talked about the way that the Holy Spirit works within us to comfort, guide and teach us. The Holy Spirit can help us with relationships with others, help us to pray, and empower us with gifts to help others. The pamphlet listed the fruit of the Spirit (characteristics of the Spirit) which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22).
Later that evening, Susan and our kids went to the church for a senior high youth program. I was not usually involved with this youth program because of my weekend schedule as a pilot. After a little while, Susan called from the church saying that the regular youth teacher had to leave and asked if I would come to the church and finish the lesson. I replied that I would be right over. I picked up the pamphlet about the Holy Spirit and prayed that I didn’t know what their lesson was about tonight but that we might talk about the Holy Spirit. Our church rarely teaches on the Holy Spirit and I wanted to share with the kids what I had just learned about the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit. As I entered the classroom, I was amazed that the teacher who I was replacing was listing the fruit of the Spirit on the blackboard: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I had no doubt about this connection or God-cidence. I knew that I was there to continue this lesson for the Holy Spirit. God does show us things, sometimes through God-cidences. So many times we miss noticing those events or we just casually ignore them. We need to watch for those God-cidences and “small world” happenings because usually God is showing us something.
Several days later, in the Revelation Bible Study class, a member of the class whose name is Richard asked what it meant to be “born again.” He questioned the meaning of being “born again” and told the class that he had always felt that he knew God during his whole life. Richard said that if someone had followed God’s laws, been an active member of the church including work as a deacon and elder, and led a good life; then why would there be a reason to be “born again?” The terms “born again,” “reborn” and “spiritual rebirth” didn’t make any sense to him. Richard made the statement that he believed Jesus to be God’s son and saw no reason to be “born again.” Various class members commented on Richard’s question, but I failed as the teacher to provide Richard with a meaningful answer about being “born again” and salvation. During the next week, I would be led to a better understanding of salvation so that Richard’s question could be properly answered.
Over that weekend, I was called out to fly a trip to
After returning home, I told my wife about all that had
happened in the
The next morning, I called and visited several people to learn more about being “born again.” One of the friends that I turned to was Irma who runs an outreach rescue ministry in the inner city. She helps people turn away from alcohol, drugs, and crime then turns them towards the Lord. She helped me understand the meaning of being “born again.” Later that night, at the Revelation Bible Study class, I explained to about twenty-five fellow Presbyterians that God had told Susan to tell me that I needed to properly answer Richard’s question about being “born again.” This was an unusual thing to say in our church, but the class accepted my explanation and everyone, including Richard, listened carefully to the salvation message. That night Richard told his wife that for the first time in his life, he knew what it meant to be “born again” and how to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Four days later, on Sunday, November 10th, I discovered the reason for having to talk about being “born again” with Richard. To our surprise, Richard died suddenly of congestive heart failure. God loved him so much that He sent other people into his life so that Richard would know the most important message in life, the message of salvation, before he died. From that experience we all learned about being born again including me. Thankfully Richard had received Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior before his death and is now with the Lord.
I want to share with you what I have learned about being born again. The phrase “born again” comes from the beginning of the third chapter of the gospel of John in the Bible. This is what Jesus tells a man named Nicodemus:
I tell you the truth; no one can
We are all born physically once, but we must also be born of
the Spirit to see the
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that who shall ever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
The word “believes” is a very powerful word that can mean different things to various people. For example, what do I mean when I say that I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s son? Perhaps a different perspective would provide a better understanding of the word “believes.” Consider the statement that Satan believes (knows) that Jesus Christ is God’s Son. So what is the difference between Satan believing and us as Christians believing? The difference is that even though Satan knows and believes that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, he does NOT ask and accept Christ into his life. It is one thing to believe something with just our mind; and it is a completely different thing to believe with our heart (your spirit). Anyone can believe with their mind, including Satan. The important difference is that we can ask and accept Jesus into our lives. In the John 3:16 passage, the word “believes” means that we trust Christ and ask Him into our lives and commit to Him as our Lord and Savior. Once we ask and accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we are saved (salvation) and are given eternal life. Jesus was born into this world for us. He died on the cross as the sacrificial lamb (the Lamb of God) so that we could be forgiven for our sins. This is what John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus coming toward him,
Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
Sins are the things that we do wrong that cause us to be apart from God. It is by God’s forgiveness (grace) that we can be saved through Jesus Christ, our Savior (the one who saves us). We have all sinned, none of us is perfect. So God gave us a Savior who takes away our sins. We can NOT work our way to Heaven with just good deeds. We are saved through Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. If we could just lead good lives to save our selves then why did Jesus die on the cross? Reason: God’s grace and mercy. Jesus paid the price for our sin. Being “saved” or being “reborn” is a phrase that means we trust, ask and accept Christ into our lives and that we are spiritually reborn. This is the beginning of a personal relationship with God. At first, we may not experience “lights from heaven” but our lives will change as we walk and talk with Him.
A personal relationship with God means that we talk to Him in prayer and know Him through the Bible but most importantly that we love Him. Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is to love God:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as
yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments. (Mat. 22:37)
What does it mean to love God? Consider the following analogy. How would you feel if you asked someone to marry you and this was their reply: “Yes, I’ll marry you, but I don’t want any of the heart-felt emotion of love.
I just what to be practical and logical. I will work with you faithfully, take care of the house with you, and help you raise a family. I will serve you, but don’t ask me to have an intimate personal relationship with you or to love you.” That is not the type of relationship that most of us would want nor is it the type of relationship that God wants with us. God wants our love more than anything else we could possibly give Him. Then, because we love Him, we will serve Him. Our faith must go beyond what we believe; it must be a dynamic part of all that we do. Our salvation does NOT depend on our good works; however through our relationship with the Lord good works should be a result.
Consider our Heavenly Father’s relationship with us as we have a relationship with our own children. As parents what we want most from my own children is their love. There isn’t really anything that they could do or give us that we could not do or get for ourselves. What we really desire is their love. Our children could serve us but actually care less about us or even hate us. They could just serve us so that we will feed them and buy them things. But what we really want from them is their love, not just their service. God is our Heavenly Father and He wants our love more than anything else that we could possibly give Him.
Instead of finding God with just your hands or mind, come to Him with all your heart. Come to the Lord with an open, surrendered, childlike heart and ask to become closer to Him. Christian faith is all about love. It is NOT about being religious and following certain rules. If you go to a church that is wonderful but just going to church doesn’t necessarily mean that you have accepted the Lord with all your heart. Christian faith is all about having a personal, loving relationship with God. It is about a first time commitment (accepting Him as our Savior) and a life time relationship (following Him as our Lord). Salvation is God’s gift to us, but we need to each accept that gift individually. We accept His gift with a prayer and by asking Jesus to be our Savior and Lord.
All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. (Acts , Joel 2:32, Romans 10:13)
The Rev. Billy Graham’s book, The Holy Spirit, offers these words under the title of “How to Become Born Again”. “How do you accept this gift? Acceptance is by a simple act of faith in which you say ‘Yes’ to Christ. If you have never accepted Christ into your life, I invite you to do it now before another minute passes. Simply tell God you are a sinner and you are sorry for your sins. Tell Him that you believe Jesus Christ died for you, and that you want to give your life to Him right now to follow and serve Him as Lord the rest of your life.”
A prayer from your own heart is the best, but this is an example of such a prayer:
I confess that I am not perfect and that I have sinned. I repent of my sins and ask you to forgive me and change me. I accept Jesus Christ into my life and believe in my heart that He is my Lord and Savior. I commit my life to you. I ask for the Holy Spirit to be with me and guide me…
Talk to Him. He loves you. Ask Him into your life and love Him with all your heart. Ask & Love.
Read His book. It is the number one best seller. Find other Christians who love the Lord.
There is nothing more important in your life than having a relationship with God.
Share the message. ARE 4/2005