April 24, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend,

I was with a man recently who felt comfortable sharing with me the challenge that has become Issue #1 for him and his wife. They have an overwhelming desire to have a child, and are sparing no expense in their search for a strategy that offers the possibility of her conception and their parenthood.

My sensitivity pendulum swung back-and-forth during that conversation. As he shared their difficulty in producing a child, there was no way for me to fully appreciate their heartache... because Cheri and I had never been in that place. When he talked about their dreams for children of their own, my connectivity meter pegged at full-strength: our now-adult children have been the source of our greatest joys and fulfillment over the last three decades. I could confirm to him his imaginations as being validated by our experience.

Family was a great idea for God; he did nice work when he envisioned the Adam-and-Eve possibilities, and what an amazing impact they'd have from the children who would follow them into the Garden. Even with "the Fall," the surviving satisfaction that comes from family - even in a fallen world - gives us a sense of heaven, even though in short-blasts.

I felt some of that same vibe sitting in a room with a group of men recently. One of the men in the room was telling the others his story... and mentioned the day when his spiritual life began, as he was in his late '20's. He mentioned the name of the man who delivered the Good News - the Gospel - to him, resulting in his new life in Christ. The man was in the room; it was me. My sense of heavenly pride was huge as he described that turning point in his life, nearly 25 years ago. We're the same age, according to our birth certificates... but, in heaven, he's in my downline!

Most Americans manage to have children without much physical difficulty; in fact, many procreate without wanting the life that results from their intimacy. We - as a society - have more reproductive potential than we seem to want.

Interesting: George Barna reported recently that most American Christians will live out their natural lives without ever experiencing spiritual reproduction. Among those who affirm that they are alive in Christ through an act of faith and participate in a local church on a regular basis, less than 10% are likely to ever be instrumental in another person coming to the same saving faith that gave them the assurance of heaven.

Spiritually barren. Impotent. Unable to conceive? That is a diagnosis for some, physically, but... in the spiritual realm, it's never about "unable." Rather, it boils down to "unwilling." Who are the people who have the privilege of attending a "live" spiritual birth? It's the people who choose to...

I'm in my hotel room in Mobile, Alabama. It's Sunday evening, and we've just completed a three-night Festival in this touched-by-Katrina city. We've "circled" the Gulf Region over the last eight months: Corpus Christi, Shreveport, New Orleans... and, now Mobile. All communities touched by Katrina/Rita; all are places where people have found spiritual reality beyond their natural challenges. It happened again tonight: hundreds of men and women who "came forward," to experience what Jesus called "the new birth."

The common denominators for those people are interesting. Most of them were in the Civic Center Arena because a Christian friend had identified them, months ago, as a "target." They've been prayed for over those weeks - by their friends/inviters and others - and they were ultimately invited by those friends to join them at the Festival events.

The other common denominator? They were met on the floor of the Arena by a Christian who had taken the time over the last few months to be trained in assisting someone through the "come to Jesus" moment. Those newly-sophisticated "midwives" have helped a new friend - one-on-one - in their initial steps into a saving faith.

The point? Just this: if you've never been "born," you're dead. If you've never been "born again," you're dead. You need to do something about that. If you're born again, you're either birthing, or barren. Do you have any spiritual "kids?" If not, do you plan to? If you do, are you done? or, are you expecting?

Bob Shank

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