Some of us grew up with experiences of evangelistic meetings where we were challenged to be “born again”, or be “converted.” Despite the tragic incidence of some fake preachers, and even hateful religious bigots, many of us heard sincere passionate preachers. Their stories of Jesus in particular, brought hope, faith and love to our hearts and minds. We were genuinely changed and experienced a life-long spiritual and human love through the gospel preaching we heard. We lived differently after that.
But after the great music by blues, gospel, country and Jesus rock artists drifted away from our daily consciousness, and the preacher’s message faded in our understanding, we were sometimes uncertain where to go with the new faith.
Some preachers trained counselors to talk to those of us who “came out front” at the end of the gospel meetings. They would explain what it meant to be “saved”, or “born again” and they would pray with us. In those days there was a little book called “4 Spiritual Laws.” The idea was that if you go the 4 laws in your heart and followed them you would continue the spiritual journey with a sense of assurance. The first law was that “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” Law two said we had all done wrong and this is a matter of the heart which needs changing. Otherwise we would not be able to know God. The third law was the death of Jesus for the world’s sin and for the individual’s sin. The fourth law is that we must “receive Jesus” into our lives and be thus “born again”.
Some of us youth workers during the 60s and 70s youth revolution felt the 4 spiritual laws just didn’t get down to earth enough. It wasn’t so much what they said as what they didn’t say! When we looked at the materialism, the hatefulness towards enemies, and the lack of Jesus lifestyle shown by many who followed this limited understanding, we longed for a better booklet.
Fuzz Kitto was (and still is) one of the most outstanding youth workers in Australia, and even beyond. We became close friends through a remarkable series of events in South Australia called God Cares. Through God Cares, seminars about values, relationships, spirituality and social justice were held in every high school in the entire city of Adelaide. We talked to many thousands of young people about faith, and they spoke of the distance they felt between the church, most church-goers, and themselves.
One day Fuzz suggested we should write a little booklet of our own, that would explain how we travel on in our faith, after deciding to take Jesus seriously. So Fuzz asked me questions; we recorded the answers and Fuzz edited it. Now I have edited it again with the advice of a few friends. But if we are serious about changing the world, it starts with ourselves. That really does require much thought, and discussion. We hope this little book will start the conversation for some. We hope it will be a little guide-book for the long journey from fear to faith, from indifference to love. It attempts to tell what happens when love comes to stay.
In care and hope that the reader will be helped along life’s journey,
Dr John Smith
Many things make people look for help or come out front after a speaker or preacher, or even a book, or a religious CD, or TV program has makes us look for something new.
Sometimes we don’t even know what we’re looking for. Often a relationship with someone who has a faith, a hope, a love we haven’t experienced starts us on the journey towards what she’s got or what he’s got. Read the rest
Firstly, let’s recognise things aren’t as they were meant to be. Our personal and world problems are related to an inner search for meaning and identity.
The problem is in:
So just offering a one-way ticket to ‘heaven’, as old timers would call it, is just not getting the point. Loss of heaven is only one of many consequences of our lost and selfish living. Read the rest
What’s right then?
Well, Jesus gives us a clue.
He says that all God expects is summed up in two simple but demanding principles.
1. Love God with all you’ve got!
2. Love everyone else with the same total commitment – as much as you’d love and care for yourself. Do to others, as you would want them to do to you! Read the rest
It begins with being sorry enough to quit the past. The new beginning is sometimes called a conversion, or change. It involves forgiveness, the gift of God’s love and a new peace and friendship with God and those who want to be God’s mates (John 1:12 and 2 Corinthians 5:20). It should so change us that we can love all, since the bible says we are all God’s children, and He is not very far from any one of us (Acts 17:27-28). Read the rest
One part of it is to STOP DOING WHAT’S WRONG.
The list of wrongs varies, unfortunately, from one person to another, and from one culture to another. I learnt however when studying anthropology (the study of human behaviour) that in every culture healthy people have a sense that some things are wrong and some are right. Read the rest
The first call is to accept the love of God and to find a loving relationship with God. That’s probably an obvious part of a faith commitment, but there is much more.
The bible says speak for those who cannot speak for themselves – protect the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:8-9).
In other words, God doesn’t only tell us to quit doing wrong, but also to find the incredible challenge of doing good (Galatians 5:13-14 – not for reward)
We are now called to a new commitment. Read the rest
The reason for Jesus’ coming, the significance of His dreadful death, the meaning of His resurrection story and many other things, will blow your mind as you dig into them.
We are meant by God’s love, power and our commitment to Jesus’ teaching – to change the world around us.
It’s time to say sorry – not wallow in guilt – Jesus says your guilt is gone if you truly trust, am sorry and set out to change your ways. Read the rest
Mind, you, until Jesus returns we won’t see it completed. Jesus spoke of dissatisfaction with this world when He said, when you pray, say God, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
For example, since there is no racism in heaven, pray and work to get rid of it on earth. Read the rest
Jesus went everywhere, the Bible says, healing the sick, preaching and teaching the Kingdom of God. That’s what we need to do too. Of course the mess we are in is partly the result of the stuff we believe, sometimes from really shonky sources on TV! So Jesus spoke a message He called Good News, or Gospel. Read the rest
Such a challenge to change would seem overwhelming for most of us. The Good news is that there is a new relationship and power; ours for free if we trust Jesus and make up our mind to be committed.
1 John 4:4 says, Greater is the One who is in you than anything that is in this world. Read the rest
A Christian then, is not just a person who trusts Jesus, is forgiven, changed and accepted as a child of God. John, in his first letter asks how do we know the children of God? The children of God do what is right or just and they love their brothers and sisters (1 John 3:10, 14). Read the rest
Someone once said prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, spoken or unexpressed. Prayer is a conversation with God. Sometimes it’s just a deep cry from the heart. I have found that God sometimes talks back.
Sometimes it’s a fresh insight; a deep sense of what we should do. Sometimes the voice of God comes in a verse from what we have traditionally called The Word of God – that is, the bible. Read the rest