Monday, May 9, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Our family has a string of birthdays from April 15th to May 6th and my youngest grandson, Josiah, is well aware that his birthday is the tail end of that string.

The other day Josiah was minding his own business taking his sweet time to finish his lunch and randomly out of nowhere sang at the top of his voice; “Oh Happy Birthday! Oh Happy Birthday…” Apparently his own made up tune jogged a memory of a song his Mama has sung to them on many occasions and he completed his performance with a robust; “When Jesus washed. My sins away!”

I grew up in a large church that has grown to be a mega-church. Twenty-four years ago my husband and I stepped out into fulltime ministry and we’ve been in small churches ever since. I love to go “home” not only to see the people that have been foundational in my faith during my formative years, but also to witness the blessing of God on the ministry of New Life @ Renton.

Easter Sunday, New Life was packed for multiple services on two campuses. Volunteers worked diligently to make everything visitor friendly, from the parking lot to the child care drop off/pick up. The pastor thanked those who came perhaps out of obligation and explained he had compassion on their awkward state of being at that moment. He promised them that in his message he would show them that “God does awkward.” He then proceeded to share the most bare bones, basic, gospel message using the universally familiar scripture: John 3:16.

Articulately, he walked us through the story of Nicodemus and the awkward thoughts of “being born again”; not of the flesh but of the Spirit. Pastor Troy gently directed the message to a point of decision, and led everybody in a prayer of repentance. With every head bowed and every eye closed, and in the semi darkness of a mega-church sanctuary, he asked for a show of hands of those who prayed with him and just accepted the gospel message and the gift of salvation.

Well…not every head was bowed or eyes closed. I lifted my head in time to see a middle-aged couple sitting three rows in front of me simultaneously shoot their hands in the air, boldly declaring their decision.

Tears dripped off my nose and chin as I watched hands raise all over the place and my heart sang my sweet three-year-old grandson’s rendition:  “Oh Happy Birthday! Oh Happy Birthday! When Jesus washed…when Jesus washed. He washed your sins away!”

I may not remember the exact date of my salvation many years ago, kneeling at a rough altar at summer camp...but I do remember it was an Oh Happy Birthday for sure. Do you remember your birthday? 

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John:3:3


  1. What an awesome birthday celebration to be a part of, eh? I love it when God births new life. :)

  2. SMILE! I love it when God uses a child's POV to teach us something new.

    47 years ago, my husband and I were born-again the very same year... only we lived thousands of miles apart (Maine- Bahamas)

  3. I love it when souls get new life.
    Yes, I remember my birthday.
    Thanks for this, Mari.

  4. I'm terrible with dates, but yes it was a joyous day which set many more into motion. Thanks, Mari.

  5. Swwweeeet! Mari... No wonder Jesus loved/loves children so much!!
    Big Hugs!!

  6. You don't live in Colorado Springs do you? If you do then we are practically neighbors! I suppose there are many New Life churches....

    My other birthday is exactly 6 months from my real one - born again October 12 (a number of years after my birthday because I will be 37 years old in the Lord this year!)

  7. Oh, Mari, I almost cried. I absolutely love this message from Josiah.

  8. I can't remember the date that I was born again either. If you were to ask me any other questions about that day I could tell you, though right down to what I was wearing. Happy day, indeed. What a sweet little guy you have.

  9. I love hearing tidbits of everyone's "birthday". It is such a blessing to be united under Christ even though there are so many miles between all of us.

    P.S. Marijo: New Life @ Renton is in Renton, WA.


  10. Absolutely remember my birthday (it's written in the front of my "church Bible" in case I can't remember the actual date LOL).

    February 12, 1999. Not even a teenager yet ;) But more than the date, I remember the feeling. Great post, Mari!

  11. So glad for memories of my "Born Again Birthday." Like Jo said, it's the feelings and emotion that are sewn into both my heart and memory. Love the idea that "God does awkward."

  12. The reason I remember my "born again birthdate" is I found it written in my mom's bible after she went home to be with Him! What a gift!

    I love Josiah's song! Thanks, Mari for putting a sparkle in my day and tears in my eyes! Love ya!

  13. Love this post, Mari! One of my very favorite things is to help with our Confirmation and membership classes. As the pastor my husband requires everyone in the classes to share their story of how they came to know Jesus. The stories of New Birth-days are thrilling to hear! Thanks so much for this and than you to all your commentors for sharing about their New Birth-days.

  14. Yesterday was toooooooooo busy, just getting to this now, and it was well worth the wait. I love your grandson's observation.--so dear. I don't know the exact date when I gave my life completely to the Lord, but I remember the place. He has been faithful to me at all times.

  15. What a precious story.
    I don't remember the date or circumstances for my "birth-day" but I do know that I was 5 years old!

  16. June 6, 1956. (As noted on my certificate of Baptism). I remember the internal tug on my heartstrings, the white knuckles on the back of the pew in front of me, and the first step. The Holy Spirit must have carried me the rest of the way. Thanks for the wonderful reminder, Mari. God Bless.



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