Born of water + the Spirit

During our season serving a church plant in South Africa, Sweet Bridget and I heard that an elderly woman who lived high in the hills was requesting a pastoral visit. She wanted to be baptized!

While this was certainly a special request, what added even more to this scenario, was the reality that this dear woman was physically disabled—unable to move her feet. Usually, our practice of baptism looks like being fully immersed under water as a picture of dying to sin and coming alive through faith in Christ (Romans 6:1-5)! We often celebrate baptism publicly, surrounded by friends and family, to announce our new life in Jesus and to commit to support new believers on their spiritual journey ahead.

We also recognized that Scripture uses the symbol of water being poured to depict the cleansing and forgiveness that Jesus provides, which has led some faith traditions to sprinkle with water in baptism (Ephesians 5:25-27Hebrews 10:19-23).

Prepared with a water bottle in hand, we made the trek up to her hut.

Photo by QNV on

When we arrived, she explained: “I’ve believed in Jesus, so I have been born of the Spirit, but I haven’t been water baptized! The Bible says unless we are born of water and the Spirit, we cannot enter the kingdom of God! I’m afraid. I don’t want to die and go to Hell.”

She was referring to the words of Jesus about being born again (John 3:3-8). We were encouraged to let her know she definitely had already been born of water! In fact, every human being has been. When the water breaks and we emerge from our mothers, we are born of water.

Jesus emphasized the need to also be born supernaturally by the Spirit through faith in Him! Once we have been born again by giving our lives to Jesus, as our Lord and Savior, a next step of obedience is to be water baptized to demonstrate we are His followers (Acts 2:36-39).

The next step for this dear woman was to affirm that her faith rested in Jesus alone to save her and to bring her safely home to Himself (1 Peter 1:18-21). 

Have you trusted in Jesus as your Leader and Forgiver?  Have you been water baptized to demonstrate you are following Him (Matthew 3:13-17)?

Photo by Pixabay on

Incredible Faith – Noah

What does faith look like? In fact, what in the world is it?

~Is it something etherial that’s near impossible to wrap our arms around?
~Is it just superstition, something we muster up in an attempt to be spiritual?

Or is it something quite powerful that we can experience, express, and walk out every day?

If you know me, you probably know my answer.

Hebrews 11 is chock full of examples of people who lived, loved, and walked by faith!

Today, I got to share a message about one of these everyday people, who lived with incredible faith, and how faith changed his life, his family, and the course of human history…

Artwork: “The Celebration” by Tom duBois

Hebrews 11 is chock full of examples of people who lived, loved, and walked by faith!

What stands out most to you from the story of Noah and his family?

How will you apply these discoveries in your life? Who will you share with?

The Gift & Call of Singleness

I’m blessed to be sharing a message this Sunday in Junction City, WI on “Making Disciples Who Multiply!”  Praying through the Scripture I’ll be sharing from this weekend reminded me of themes I touched on in a message on “The Gift & Call of Singleness.”

No matter your relationship status or your season of life, I pray these thoughts will encourage you to be a multiplier who gathers others for Jesus-like disciple making friendships!

Your Mission… (if you choose to accept it)

I recently heard about a local church with financial problems that looked to their mission budget as an easy target for cuts.  

Sweet Bridget and I served for a time in Africa.  Having made such meaningful memories in South Africa, Malawi, and North Africa, part of our heart has been planted there (1 Th. 2:8).  It’s heartbreaking to think global mission could be viewed as a low priority.

Last month, we heard Larry Osborne of North Coast Church teach from his book Mission Creep.  Jesus gave us one mission (Matt. 28:16-20).  But Larry explained the process of drift.  When we consistently miss His target of multiplying disciples all over the world who obey Jesus, we tend to shift our aim toward whatever we think we’re good at.

Insert: _______________ …programming, music, food, ad nauseum.

Larry acknowledged North Coast won’t be around forever.  He soberly stated, once it’s reached its lifespan, like any human organization, it will cease to exist.  Its meeting space will likely be used for another purpose.  But the kingdom of God, which they sought to advance, will live on… eternally.  Toward kingdom unity, Larry charged church leaders to consider a local missional gift to a neighboring church in need, even one of another denomination.

Unless the Lord returns first, the day will come when every local fellowship–even the historic Park Street in Boston–will have run its course.

The question is:
Until that day, are we living to advance our own castles or His kingdom?

Jim Cymbala, who we were blessed to hear the final Sunday of our American Revival Heritage Tour, explains the identity of the people of God and our purpose when we gather: Jesus called us, “a house of prayer for all nations” (Mk. 11:17).

Prayer + Mission → Our Focus

Jim Cymbala & the Music Conference choir ~ Brooklyn Tabernacle, New York City (10-7-19)

I was in an elder meeting once where a slight mission budget cut was proposed, which would’ve eliminated support for some of our faithful missionaries.  I’ll always remember the words of a seasoned elder:
What message do we send to our church and to our young people if we defund our mission?”

For local churches:

  • Consider your missionaries an extension of your staff.  
  • Partner based on shared mission and kingdom values.  

We developed these mission partner criteria questions to help guide our team.

  • Invest in your partners’ development and fruitfulness.  
  • Communicate well and regularly with one another.
  • Be faithful in prayer for one another.  

If we want to leave a legacy that outlives us, let’s live to advance kingdom purposes that are truly eternal.

Feature image credit:
NASA, “On October 7, 2018, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) shot this photograph while orbiting at an altitude of more than 250 miles over Australia” (
Earth Enveloped in Airglow).