(Art Credit: Seth Polk)

Recently I celebrated a birthday – but not a normal birthday.

It was not a celebration of how many years I have been blessed to be alive here on the earth. It was a celebration of something even greater. Actually. . .far greater.

It was a celebration of my “spiritual birthday,” the day in 1966 when I was – as Jesus called it – “born again” (the Injeel, the Good News of John, Chapter 3, Verse 3):

“I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

My Muslim friends often say, “I was born a Muslim, I will die a Muslim.” But for those of us who call ourselves “followers of Jesus,” we were not born that way. No, we needed to experience God’s mercy and compassion – His amazing grace – to be “born again” and follow Jesus in a life of joyful, loving, eternally grateful submission. A life where the “chains” of slavery to sin are gone.

John Newton (1725-1807) was a slave trader who was born again and became a follower of Jesus. Newton wrote a famous song known as “Amazing Grace.” He understood the truth of the Apostle Paul’s words:

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (The Holy Bible, 1 Timothy 1:15)

Newton never ceased to be amazed by God’s grace and told his friends near the end of his life:

“My memory is nearly gone;
but I remember two things:
that I am a great sinner, and
that Christ is a great Saviour.”

Chris Tomlin sings an adapted version of Newton’s great song. Please listen here:

Please allow me to share with you a prayer that I wrote in my journal on my recent spiritual birthday about the “amazing grace” that I have experienced in the forgiveness of my sins:

“Father, thank You. How can I thank You enough for my salvation – for May 28, 1966? How can I thank You enough for reaching down and waking me up to life? Like someone in a coma. Someone unconscious. Unaware – totally oblivious to my lostness. I wasn’t looking for You. I didn’t even know I needed You. Why did You choose me? Come to me? Why was I so unbelievably blessed?”

Amazing grace.

My chains are gone.

Thank You, God.

Thank You, Jesus.