devos from the hill

Born again? What does this mean?

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God has blessed Mars Hill with an incredible team of men and women who love Jesus – the risen, reigning, and returning King. Together, we passionately pursue Him as we work to see the Great Commission fulfilled. Together, we study the Scriptures. We embrace and celebrate the mystery of faith and the magnificence of our AWESOME God. And we long for our Savior’s return, when we will know fully as we are fully known.

The Holy Spirit has breathed unique wisdom, discernment and gifts for service into each member of our staff. That said, we are delighted to commence a new series of devotionals, in which each member of our staff will be sharing insights from their inimitable journey with our Father.

We hope that God’s redemptive work in our lives will resonate with what He’s doing in yours.


Today’s Devotional is from team member, Joe Birkmire.
Joe is serving Mars Hill as Director of Production Operations.

Joe devo shot 1Life is interesting. What a way to start a devotional right? You see, if someone approached me about Jesus Christ before I was born again I would have silently made fun of them or just brushed them off. I did not want them to indoctrinate me with their way of thinking. My first response was to play devil’s advocate and prove why they were wrong and why I was right. Most of my knowledge on the subject was coming from the History Channel and other television sources, so I am sure my points were so misleading. The truth is, I made a decision to go after things in this world and spiritual matters did not really make sense even though I knew the truth and I was simply ignoring it.  I still had morals and I think I was a good person…but I just could not get myself to really believe in Jesus and what He did for me on the cross. Before I share my story please join me in reading John 3:1-8:

 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The phrase “born again” literally means “born from above.” This comes from two Greek words. Yevváw (gennaō), which means be born, regenerate, or be delivered from and ävw0ev (Anōthen) means from above, from the first, from the beginning. I think the born again question is often a struggle for a lot of people. Take 2 Corinthians 5:17, for example, “Therefore, If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come.” There it is again…the phrase born again but written differently.

When I was growing up I always went to church with my family. But, after High School and especially college, I was rarely seen in church. I did not want to go, but, to be honest, deep down I knew something was out of place or probably more accurate to say, I was running from the truth. I knew who Jesus was, but I wanted the world more.Joe devo shot 2

You see, I trusted Him a long time ago, so I thought, at a Christian Young Life Camp called “Wilderness” in the Rocky Mountains. That was where I accepted Jesus for the first time at the age of 16, but it didn’t really change me at that time. Regardless of this experience being real (complete) or not I will never forget that trip. I was more caught up in the emotion rather than really believing in Jesus Christ, and all that He did for me on the cross. ­When I got back from the trip I did not live it out like I should have.

Then about 10 years ago at age 27, I was invited to go with a friend to another church. The only reason why I went was because there was nothing else better to do. For me to go to an unfamiliar church was out of my comfort zone, especially since I had not been in a while. But after the church service that Sunday morning, the most awkward event happened to me; a young woman yelled out to me…“Are you born again?”

My first reaction was…she’s crazy. More importantly, why was I being captivated by this thought of being born again days later? This statement was so far over my head. Looking back I was just like Nicodemus questioning Jesus with, “how can one be born again?” I also could not stop thinking about my experience in the mountains. This born again question really made me think about “me.” Who am I? Why can’t I just believe?

Soon after that church service, my life changed but not for the good. Everything around me was falling apart. I was depressed and suddenly found myself alone and hundreds of miles from home. This was the darkest chapter of my life.  But in this darkest hour I found myself on my knees praying to God to save me. I asked Jesus to come into my heart again but this time it was different. It was like a father saying to his child “come home son” just like Jesus says in Matthew 28:11 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

It’s Interesting that about a year and a half after that woman in the church yelled out to me “Are you born again?”, I found myself born again, regenerated, a new creation! I did not have to be depressed or lonely…I had Jesus. I realized that was all I ever needed. I don’t want you to think that this transformation in me happened in just one night. For one year, I spent my time reading my bible, going to church and praying. Life just got better. But one thing I can say that did instantly change in me was…I was born again! I told God, whatever you need me to do, Father, I will do. Fast forward to today and I am now in ministry, using my gifts and talents in film and video at Mars Hill Productions for the Lord. Ironic, I think, knowing that I spent years avoiding Jesus and now I am serving Him and there is no greater mission than serving Jesus.

Since joining Mars Hill Productions, working on The HOPE, I have learned to share my faith freely and my eyes have been opened to the Great Commission. Going back to the beginning of this devotional, I no longer hesitate when someone asks me about my faith. Now where ever I go, I take great joy in any opportunity that the Lord puts before me to share the gospel (Ephesians 2:8-10) …after all, that is what Jesus commanded us to do. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19).

Looking back over my life and knowing where I am at now, I can honestly tell you that Jesus has been tugging at me for a very long time. I was just not ready to obey and trust Him fully. I know for fact that He was there through all my circumstances as if he was gently saying to me “Come, follow me” for a very long time. Mark 1:17 says it this way “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Application

  1. If you feel you are in tug-a-war battle between this world and Jesus then give in and put your faith in Jesus and obey him. Don’t wait.
  2. Are you unsure if you are born again? Do you have questions about what this means? Here are some helpful resources for you to read:

 

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