How does the title of the word of hope strike you? Is there a word that stands out to you? For me, the standout word is, must. Generally speaking when I am told, “you must internally I resist. Frankly, I don’t like being told, “you must!”

Yet here I go declaring, “you must!” Let me clarify in hopes, what I consider one of the most important WOH’s written in the past five years, reaches your mind and heart in perfect unity.

Logically, you will agree with being born once. If we are not born once we miss out on life. Fathers and mothers miss out on arguably life’s single greatest experiences; the birth of their child; even better, children. One man told me, “When I heard my son’s heartbeat in the womb it was the greatest feeling of my life. Six months later when we hoped to hear the joyful rhythm of his heart again, it was the most painful experience of my life, hearing silence instead.”

Born once is a must; it is an absolute. No birth, no life. Therefore, being born once is a gift to measure all the living days of our life. If we can breathe we have it made. Believe it and receive it. To breathe is to live, and we take a careful record of being born once where we take our first breath.

Born two times as recorded in the Gospel of John, the fourth book of the book of good news is a choice. July 1966, a sunfilled Saturday day in Couer d’ Alene, Idaho Susie King Crowell was born a second time. She was radiant as she told me, “Fred I love you but I just did the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced. I asked Jesus to come into my life.” The fact is, Susie was born again.

Fred Crowell had no clue what Susie was talking about. On a challenge, I read John’s gospel from the first word of the book to the very end. I closed the book, turned off the light, and said to myself, “This book makes no sense; it reads like a fairy tale.”

Yesterday, for the umpteenth time, I read the first 3 chapters of John word by word. In my basketball coach’s trained mind there can be only two conclusions:

  1. This is a fairy tale story; allegory at best; it cannot be read literally. It is a fable.
  2. This is the Word of God spoken through men by the Holy Spirit. The story of being born a second time is so preposterous it cannot be interpreted literally, it must be read symbolically.

Examine the high points of the message John details in the first 3 chapters:

  1. John says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” What…? What are we talking about John? Are you saying Jesus Christ is the Word?
  2. The Word was light; there was no darkness in the Word; The Word was the light of men.
  3. Now John jumps to another John, a man who was either legit or crazy. His name is John the Baptist. Many hoped he was the one coming to save the Jews from Roman occupation. John the Baptist made it clear he was not the Savior; when Jesus came to the river; John declared Jesus as the Savior, but a savior of what? How would He save?
  4. Let’s keep this as brief as possible and jump to chapter 3. Jesus cleans out the temple. He proves being a Christ-follower is not for sissies. People are amazed by his wisdom and intelligent exposition of the words written in Jewish Law. So much so, that during the dark hours of the night, a Rabbi comes to him so as not to be seen talking to Jesus by anyone else.  

This is where the story gets to the heart of the issue. Jesus makes a statement that to this day evokes unspeakable joy or anger on the part of so many who reject the message. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”

Bam, boom, there it is… the single most controversial statement ever uttered in my opinion. Jesus did not say; It is a good idea to be born again; he did not leave any room to wiggle on this one. Jesus said, “you must be born again.”

In 1966 my belief system could not accept this must. Today I believe it with all that I am or ever hope to be. This is core to everything I believe because Jesus Christ changed my life.

Recently I watched a sports documentary on the life of George Foreman, a world heavyweight champion. George grew up in the harshest of communities. He lost his championship… a fight that he should have never lost. As he dressed alone in a private locker room George was born again… his aids heard him shouting with great joy; George did not box for 10 years. Foreman was born twice and took his first breath as a changed man.  

On October 13, 1994, a man woke up early. He was a broken man, hit with divorce, a DUI, and in total despair. He knelt by his bed, where he was born twice. Today this man is a new man. His life changed at that moment. He now had hope, the blessed hope only Abba Father can give. This man is my hero, he is my brother who lost our mother at age 9.

Born once was not our choice; it is our gift from God and our biological parents. Born twice is our choice. Let me be clear. The purpose of words of hope is NOT to change you. The author, me, has his own hands full hoping to be the man He wants me to be. Susie was very patient with me when I believed, you must be born again, was a fable. Anyone who has been born again has the privilege of living a new life… one of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. These things are not the fruits grown from our personal life tree, so we best be very careful not to try to change anyone else.  

With this said, I hope I can bring a bit of heaven to where I live today.

“May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10