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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Holy Ghost Bumps

You do know what Holy Ghost bumps are, right? My dear friend, mentor, and sweet spiritual sister, Diane Durham (owner of Backpack Mission Ministries, introduced me to this term a few months ago. It is that moment when you know without a doubt that God has done something, and the knowledge or the experience is so overwhelming that your whole body is instantly covered in goose bumps.

Are you familiar with the term "numinous." C. S. Lewis does a great job of explaining "numinous" in his book, The Problem of Pain.

  • "Now suppose you were told simply, 'There is a mighty spirit in the room,' and believed it... You would feel wonder and a certain shrinking -- a sense of inadequacy to cope with such a visitant and of prostration before it -- an emotion which might be expressed in Shakespeare's words, 'Under it my genius is rebuked.' This feeling may be described as awe and the object which excites it as the Numinous."
It's that moment when you realize God has done something so tangible in your life that His presence is undeniable. You are dwarfed by the awesomeness of the experience - you are a flea being carried on the shoulders of a mastiff hound. Faith is belief without the existence of proof. Hebrews 11:1 tells us, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." And once you have experienced the numinous, faith becomes absolute.

In early January of 2008, I experienced the numinous. I was researching the Appalachian Mountains. I had pulled out a map and stationed my finger at the northernmost point of the mountain range in Canada and traced a line all the way down to the southernmost point along Alabama and Georgia. As my finger traveled down the page, I stopped it at Summersville WV, continued down the page to Alabama, and then traveled back up the page to Summersville. Over the next two weeks, I became ferociously consumed with this tiny town. God was telling me to go there and I had no idea why.

Midway through the first week, I broke the news to my husband. "I think God wants us to move to Summersville, West Virginia," I said.

"Why?" he asked

"I don't know yet. Maybe start a bed a breakfast and host missionaries and white water tourists. I'm not sure. I just know at this point He's telling me to go there."

"Hmmm, I could have Bible studies there and probably keep my job with Boson and just work from home. We could make it work if you're sure that's what God wants us to do."

If I'm sure. That was a loaded statement. Was I sure? I'd always wanted to move back to my home state. Was God really sending me there, or was my flesh creeping up -- controlling me with a desire I was falsely attributing to God's call on my life? Suddenly I wasn't so sure and this consumed me even further. Having no prior knowledge of Summersville, I began researching -- homes, land, schools, newspapers. Finally, by Wednesday into my second week I was so confused, but I couldn't stop thinking about Summersville. I knelt down in front of my couch and prayed. I asked God to give me something concrete if this truly was from Him and if not to release its grip on me so I could function.

For four more days, God let me squirm and cry and be excited, and be dissapointed, and be scared, and be happy, and scream, and dream -- all over Summersville. Finally, in church that next Sunday morning He answered my prayer.

I had not told my mom of my struggles over those two weeks. I didn't want her worrying about her family possibly moving away, so I decided I'd keep it quiet until I was sure. I had mentioned to her in a pretend dreamy kind of way, "wouldn't it be wonderful to have a bed and breakfast on this piece of land on the river in Summersville WV," as I e-mailed her a land-for-sale picture earlier that week. It was my way of warming her up for what may be coming.

So, moving a tiny booklet out of my church seat, I sat down next to my mom that morning. I took a minute to catch my breath, and my mom began to read the booklet.

"Look," she said holding out the booklet, "there's a mission trip to Summersville WV this year."

I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry at God's answer, but a wave of Holy Ghost bumps traveled over every square inch of my skin, and that numinous presence of God's spirit was heavy around me. Summersville was one of around twenty trips unveiled to the church that morning. Most of the trips were international. Only about three were in the US. Of all the towns in all of the US to send mission teams to - Summersville. Of all the towns in the Appalachia region my finger could have stopped on - Summersville. There are no coincidences with God. I was not a mission-minded person before this and quite honestly had no desire to be. God knew how to change my mind and get my attention. He knew how to give me a missions heart. I never would have given that trip, or any other mission opportunity, a second thought had He not put me through those two weeks.

After church I was talking with my Sunday school teacher about what God did. He said, "at least now you know you don't have to move to WV."

"Yeah," I said, in response, not in agreement. Now I don't HAVE to move to WV played in my head as sadness washed over me, but I'll be happy to move there, God, if you change your mind.

I probably don't need to tell you that I signed up for the mission trip that night. It was a family mission trip sponsored by Families on Mission. My mother, son, and I went. At some point I will blog some highlights of the trip. I probably also don't need to tell you that God didn't change His mind. He assured me that I was where He needed me.

"But if there is a WV in Heaven, God," I asked Him, "could you possibly give me my eternity there when you are done with me here on Earth?"

Friday, April 24, 2009

Be It Good or Be It Horrid

I am an avid observer. I love to watch people and how they interact with each other. I love hearing one side of a conversation (like someone talking on a telephone) because I like trying to figure out what the other person must be saying. Observations of nature, environments, or materials are my favorite because then I can combine what I learned from watching people and plug it into a really great story setting.

Yes, my favorite place to be is on the outside looking in so that I can write down everything I see. I'm a "big picture" kind of girl. Put me in the middle of the action and I tend to get a little discombobulated. Put me in a formal group situation, such as a book club or Bible study, and I'm fine - unless somebody goes off topic (and somebody always goes off topic) - then my tummy starts to quiver a bit. Put me at a table with ten other people with no direct purpose other than to chat and, not knowing where to look or which conversation to jump into, I am deafened. I want to hear every conversation, and if I can't, the thought of losing all of that potential writing material almost paralyzes me. If I didn't fear being rude I might say:

"Wait... wait... shh everybody, shh. Amy's saying something about the rapture. Can you all just be quiet so I can hear this."


"Hold on, Tammy, prayer for your ailing, poor Aunt Martha is important, but Susan's talking about that ridiculous 'coexist' bumper sticker, and I'm writing an article on that. Can you just zip it for a few minutes?"


"Is Angie talking about the next women's outing down there? I really need to add that information to the web site. Can you all just be quiet? One at a time please, please, for the love of Pete, one at a time -- oh the voices. I think I'm getting dizzy."

My idiosyncrasies are making themselves quite clear to you now aren't they? Please tell me you still love me?

I have to say, I blame this madness on God, just a little. He's the one I write for, and if I miss some material that He intended for me to have then I'll feel like a slacker. Of course, I realize that if God intends for me to get it, I will get it. But I never can remember that when I'm in the moment.

Of course, I like to think God made me this way because He was creating a good writer and that He uses these things to nurture me and feed me His messages so I can share them with you. And indeed, I have no doubt I am following where He is leading. So, be it good or be it horrid, God is pleased, and that's all that matters.

Friends, please keep inviting me to your groups -- I've begun a twelve-step program for Christian writers. I've already admitted to the problem covering step one. Step two is, snippets of writing-material prompting conversations are better than no conversations at all. :) For my writer friends and followers, I'll lay out the final ten steps in a later blog - so stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Priest, A Reverend, A Rabbi, and... a Bear? (or Thank You Pastor Tom)

There are many things I love about my pastor, Dr. Tom McCoy. He's fiery, not quite the hellfire and brimstone type of fiery (although he does a remarkably believable impression) but fiery enough to make it stick. He is spirit filled and pours it over his congregation every Sunday morning. I love that he is dynamic and runs a come-as-you-are house of God. I love that he doesn't wear a tie OR a suit most Sundays (and before your mind goes there, yes, he does wear clothes - he's not Isaiah for goodness sake - Isaiah 20:1-4 for those of you trying to figure that one out). I love how transparent God made him so that the rest of us could see that he is just like us. I love that Pastor Tom is there, not for impression or judgment, but to bring God’s message to His children. And most of all, I love him for the truth he isn't afraid to speak.

But there’s another side to Pastor Tom. It’s the if-I’d-failed-seminary-I’d-have-become-a-comedian Tom. I love that he is not easily embarrassed, or Sunday morning wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining. I love the playful banter and teasing he shares with his wife which, he probably doesn’t even realize, encourages the rest of us in our sometimes crazy marriages. I love that no other pastor in the world can do a Mick Jagger impression like my pastor can – that is, if you can mute his singing (that’s a comedy show all its own). I love that occasionally he passes a joke along to us, in the way that only Pastor Tom can, that has us and him laughing hysterically as we ask ourselves, can you really say that in church?

I love that my pastor isn’t afraid to laugh. I love that my pastor is a Christian who isn’t afraid to laugh. I love that my pastor is a Christian who isn’t afraid to laugh in church and gives us all the freedom to laugh with him. So thank you, Pastor Tom, for Thompson Station Church. Thank you for your authenticity. Thank you for the laughs that entertain us and draw us in, but thank you most of all for the theology you teach us and the inspiring way you share the truth that is God’s message because that's what keeps us coming back.

Enjoy this great joke Pastor Tom colorfully passed on to us a couple of years ago and had us asking ourselves, can you really say that in church?:

(I am sharing the actual joke I found on the internet. I could not find credit information. If you know who wrote it, please pass it along so I can credit them here).

A priest, a Pentecostal preacher and a Rabbi all served as chaplains to the students of Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

They would get together two or three times a week for coffee and to talk shop. One day, someone made the comment that preaching to people isn't really all that hard. A real challenge would be to preach to a bear.

One thing led to another and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go out into the woods, find a bear, preach to it,and attempt to convert it.

Seven days later, they're all together to discuss the experience. Father Flannery, who has his arm in a sling, is on crutches, and has various bandages, goes first."Well," he says, "I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him I began to read to him from the Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle a lamb. The bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation."

Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, with an arm and both legs in casts, and an IV drip. In his best fire and brimstone oratory he claimed, " WELL brothers, you KNOW that we don't sprinkle! I went out and I FOUND me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God's HOLY WORD! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrestle. We wrestled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek. So I quickly DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus."

They both looked down at the rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IV's and monitors running in and out of him. He was in bad shape.

The rabbi looked up and painfully whispered, "Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start things out with my bear."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

God Uses Pond Scum

I sat down in my "loft" this morning where I would eventually work on my writing lesson. But first, I popped in Redemption Songs by Jars of Clay. I was listening to their rendition of "I'll Fly Away," and enjoying some worship time, singing along.

I'm not sure what went wrong after that. It began as a normal prayer time just like any other day but toward the end of my prayer, I began to think about pond scum. Now, I don't have a pond, rarely visit any ponds, and mostly never think about them (unless, maybe I see them in a great photograph or something).

The only logical thing I could think of, since I didn't have a pond that needed cleaning, is that I must be the pond scum. Right? What else could one think when she's having a conversation with God and he gives her "pond scum" out of the blue. Just praying – minding my own business – then woop… pond scum, right in my lap.

Here’s how it went down. I was near the end of my prayer and I was thanking God for giving me the opportunity to share a great message he gave me a couple of weeks ago. I had just found out that Christian Online Magazine is going to publish an article I wrote. So the prayer was going something like this:

Thank you, God, for giving me the opportunity to share Your message and for giving me a clear path and confirmation that I am doing what You want me to. I don’t understand why You have spent so much time raising me over the past couple of years or why you would take someone who was just pond scum and choose her to be Your child and spread Your message.

Did you catch it? “Pond scum” right there near the end. I almost didn’t catch myself saying it, but when I ended the sentence, I realized what I’d said and asked, “pond scum… God?” God said, “what?... I can use pond scum.” As I was wondering how in the world God uses pond scum, the researcher in me perked up and began to Google. Here’s what I found out (this is not exhaustive):

  • defines pond scum as any free-floating freshwater algae that forms a green scum on water. There are over 320,500 forms of algae. God wouldn't have made this much of the stuff if he didn't have a reason for it.

  • The first plants on earth evolved from shallow freshwater algae. If God started with pond scum, it must be some pretty important stuff.

  • It's used as nutritional supplements, fertilizers, soil conditioners and livestock feed. God molds the pond scum into other substances and uses the result to nourish something else.

  • The latest buzz on pond scum according to USA Today and many other sources - Pond scum could be an alternative fuel for jets in the near future. If God trusts it to use in an engine as powerful as a jet's, just think of the power your pond scum could have .

  • It can be used for pigmentation or dyes and other coloring agents. God uses pond scum to create beautiful things.

  • It can be used for pollution control (sewage and emmissions). God uses pond scum from one source to remove the bad stuff from another source.

Aha! I am not pond scum, but my sin is and it doesn't go to waste - God uses it. There is an important purpose for every smidgen of pond scum God has allowed into my life. I can use it to feed others in a powerful and beautiful way. Through my testimonies, experiences, redemptions and continuing battles, I can help others remove their pond scum and clear their pond to receive God's great blessings. states, "Whether the problem is pea-soup colored water, thick carpets of green hair, or floating gobs of olive-drab slime, algae are as unsightly and aggravating as their terrestrial counterparts. Wherever there is standing water, light, warmth and nutrients, algae will soon gain a foothold." I say, no matter what kind of pond scum you have battled or continue to battle, don't allow it to gain a foothold in your life, but give yourself the freedom to embrace the versatility of it. God is using mine to feed others, and He can use yours too. Give God the opportunity to mold your pond scum into a commodity others can use.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I'm An Augustus Gloop

I ate a chocolate bunny yesterday - no, not the ears... no, not the ears and the head... no, not even the ears, head, and upper body. No Siree - I ate the entire chocolate bunny. And to make matters worse, it wasn't hollow. It was a big, solid, bunny-shaped brick of chocolate. Wait... I'm not done; I also had a handful of solid chocolate eggs. I didn't have it all in one sitting - you couldn't possibly think I am that big of a glutton (okay, maybe it's conceivable for those of you who know how much I love chocolate) - but I did actually pace myself throughout the day. Granted it was Easter and we wouldn't normally have this much chocolate in the house, but we just returned from vacation where I also indulged in a number of yummy chocolate treats. And it wasn't the smooth, dark stuff that actually has a smidgen of nurtritional value (which I have no problem meeting and exceeding my daily allowance of) - it was the creamy, milky stuff that immediately sticks to the parts of my body that still carries the chocolate I ate five years ago.

Today I decided I should start training for a marathon to work off the damage I've done. So, I headed to the rec center. Thirty minutes later I left the rec center thinking, maybe a 5K will do it. There's no need to go overboard with the whole marathon thing - what was I thinking. Whatever happens, I'm determined to get myself back into my pre-candy season shape. You know... that season that starts just around Valetines Day and lasts until Easter. I'm seriously so worried about fitting into my shorts, I haven't even pulled them out yet. And I won't even mention swimsuits.

I'm usually a fairly healthy person, and all of this chocolate and candy indulgence and lack of exercise has zapped my energy and mental stability. So I've been talking to God about my problem. I asked Him what I needed to do to regain my energy so I could best serve Him - all the while hoping He wouldn't say, "exercise," "fast," or "give up chocolate." Of course my God has a great sense of humor so He said all three. It's not the exercising and fasting that bother me, but come on... give up chocolate. Like, GIVE IT UP. Granted, if I didn't have the first piece of chocolate, I wouldn't want the next fifty, but giving it up seems rather harsh. Although I have to admit, following my recent chocolate frenzy, I'm feeling a really close connection to Augustus Gloop from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Remember him?...the gluttonous boy who couldn't stop eating chocolate and eventually fell into the chocolate river and was sucked into the pipe. Oh yeah - that is so me right now. Maybe that marathon would be a better idea (she says, rubbing her chocolate distended belly).

Okay, so reinstate exercise routine, regular fasting, AND no chocolate. I'm on it, God. Gotta go friends - I have a marathon to train for. Wait, it's midnight. All good things start with a good night's sleep... right?

By the way, to which Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory character do you most relate? Take my survey on my side bar. - this poll is now expired

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

"What Are You Saved From?"

Recently, I had a conversation with a good friend about the timing of salvation. I came to Jesus for the first time at the age of 27. I occasionaly mourn for those lost years and wonder why He allowed me to wait so long. By then, I had so much to be saved from that I had no idea where He might begin with me. In brief moments of self-pity I might ask, "God, why did you let me go through so much - if You had just reached me earlier... Just think of all I could have done for You..."

My friend's salvation experience was opposite. She grew up knowing Jesus and was saved as a young girl. Most of my Christian friends have been Christians all their lives and many have shared the same thing with me: they wonder why God called them to Him before they had a chance to accumulate some baggage - before they could develop the future opportunity to look back and say, "oh, let me tell you what Jesus saved me from."

The thing that fascinates me is that God's timing truly is perfect. I don't think my friends or I would really want to change the way God has worked in our individual lives - but it does make for interesting conversation. I said to one of my friends once, "but what if I had died before I turned 27 and had not yet been saved." She said, "But you didn't because God had already chosen you, and He had a work planned for you that started with you being 27 when you came to know Jesus." Those of you who were saved young touched people for God at a young age - people you don't even know you touched.

I read a book about a year ago called, Room of Marvels, by James Bryan Smith. It's sort of a supernatural book about a man who visits Heaven while he's still alive. When he gets there he visits his house that his Father prepared for him and the first thing he sees in his house is a wall filled with tiny 1" pictures. Some are people he recognizes and others are not. He realizes he can touch each picture and the person on it speaks to him about how he shared the love of Jesus with them in some way - some are big like sharing the gospel and some are small like giving a lady a $5 bill she dropped instead of keeping it for himself (these may not be exact examples from the book - they are my interpretation).

The book made me wonder how many pictures my wall might have, but I know that God already knows. There are specific people God wants each of us to touch for Him and He provides us with our salvation at just the right time - whether we are 7, 27, 57, or 87.

Our conversation made me think of one more thing: What was I saved from? What did my salvation convict me of and what do I work on through the process of sanctification each and every day? I often tell my kids as I bury my throbbing head in my hands, "haven't we already talked about this - didn't I just tell you not to do this, again - do we really have to go through this every single day." I comically think of God looking down at me saying the same thing many days.

I love this quote from Leonard Ravenhill in The Heart of the Matter (the video link I sent you in my "Have you Rewarded Jesus Today" post. I'll try to add the link to my sidebar, but you can go to the post for now to watch it:

"If I was to ask you tonight,
'were you saved?'
Do you say, 'Yes, I'm saved.'
'Oh, so and so preached, I got baptised and...'
Are you saved? What are you saved from... Hell?
Are you saved from bitterness?
Are you saved from lust?
Are you saved from cheating?
Are you saved from lying?
Are you saved from bad manners?
Are you saved from rebelling against your parents?
Come on, what are you saved from?"

Are you saved tonight? What are you saved from?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Killing One Bird With Two Stones

I've been blogging now for a week and I think I'm getting the hang of it. Now that people know I'm blogging, the big question I'm getting is, "Are you on Facebook? You should check it out - it's soooo addicting." Well if you read my first blog, you know how fond I am of addiction (NOT), but since I have officially entered blog addiction, I figured, what the heck, I'll go ahead and join Facebook - why not kill two birds with one stone or one bird with two stones (in which case I just might be the bird).

So, I've joined Facebook (you can jump on over there and visit me through my Facebook link on my sidebar). I was really excited to have two friends already on my friends list, granted one of them is my husband who was kind of a given. My other friend is Melissa (thank you Melissa for confirming our friendship). Then I noticed that Melissa had, like, 140 people on hers; I don't even know 140 people, much less 140 on Facebook. I began to feel a little intimidated by her electronic social butterflyness (I know that's not a word, but it probably should be). But then, something cool happened. I saw about 10 people on her list that were friends of mine - that was 10 people I wouldn't have to look up on my own - so thank you, Melissa, for your butterflyness.

I'm still not completely sure what I'm supposed to do on there, but hey, everyone else jumped off the bridge so off I go. Plus, I need something to provide me with some relief from my blog addiction.

Friday, April 03, 2009

A Writer's Battle

I have learned that writing is not a good hobby, and certainly not a good profession, for someone who enjoys sleep. Consider my dilemma: my two favorite activities are writing and sleeping.

Often at night, just as my body is about to release itself to the desire of sweet slumber, the perfect idea grabs hold of me. It taunts me, marches around in my head, and relentlessly vies for my undivided attention. I toss and turn for seconds, minutes, or, depending on how desperate I am to cling to sleep, hours. Sometimes I negotiate, “I promise I’ll remember you in the morning, just let me sleep.” The idea replies, “But if you forget, these brilliant words will be lost forever.” Another plea I offer: “There’s a piece of scrap paper on the nightstand, just let me jot you down. I’ll plug you in tomorrow.” Idea replies, “Are you kidding? You can’t possibly think I’m going to let you sleep, until you see how I look in that paragraph you’ve been working on.”

Certain I will eventually fall asleep if I just remain steadfast, I reposition myself, I flip pillows, I count sheep – anything to get some time with my precious sleep. The idea always wins, and as I enviously leave sleep behind, I get up and seek out my computer. You may be thinking that if idea always wins, why doesn’t she just get up to begin with and eliminate the battle: if you wonder this, you cannot truly understand the love of sleep.

The idea that wrestles me out of bed is usually just a line or two, sometimes even just a word that will enhance something I’ve already written. Strangely, it takes me an hour or a few before I make it back to bed, but many times a full piece has been written or completed from that single persistent idea. I grow weary, at times, worrying that writing is bullying my relationship with sleep: and I fear that I may have to give it up. But then I wonder, can one really survive without sleep?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Have you Rewarded Jesus Today?

(I entered this onto my Sunday School class website after our pastor, Tom McCoy, shared a powerful and moving video with the congregation a few months back. Many of you will recognize what I've written below. For those who do not, the video is too good not to pass on so I link you to it at the bottom of this post.)

The great preacher, Paris Reidhead, in his well-known sermon Ten Shekels and a Shirt, told the story of two young Moravian men who sold themselves into slavery in order to spread the news of Jesus Christ to those who otherwise would never receive it. They received ten shekels and a shirt which they used to pay for their voyage to the island where they would spend the rest of their earthly lives as slaves. As the ship they were on was leaving the pier, friends and family, seeing them for the last time, heard one shout, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”

I challenge you to find a way every day to reward Jesus for His suffering. - click on the video titled, The Heart of the Matter. It is long, but worth your time.

"Yes" to Guns

I know -- two posts in one day. What can I say; I'm a rebel. I read an article in The Tennessean on Sunday that disturbed me and I just have to get my thoughts out or it may begin to disrupt my sleep.

A woman named Nell Levin shares that she was watching a local legislative show to see what our elected officials were talking about. She writes that what she saw was "a bunch of mostly white guys yammering on about whether they can carry an unloaded rifle in their truck along with a box of bullets." She mentions hearing their hunting anecdotes is a waste of tax-payer money. She goes on to say, "At a time of great stress, when people are getting laid off from their jobs, marriages are crumbling, and domestic violence is rising, do we really need armed men in our restaurants and state parks?" I wasn't following her jump from unloaded rifles in trucks and hunting anecdotes to the implication of mass murder by those suffering dire straits, but I kept reading.

She references some recent killings, including the church shooting in Illinois, and ends her article by saying, "In other parts of the country, passing gun-lobby laws like the right to carry a concealed weapon in churches, on campuses, and in state parks are no longer slam dunks. This is not the case in Tennessee -- yet another reminder of how behind the times our state is."

A Sunday does not go by, since that pastor was murdered in front of his congregation, that I don't sit in my church thinking about that horrible murder. But, the thing that makes me feel safe is the fact that I know that there are a number of men sitting among us with concealed weapons solely for the purpose of protecting us and our pastors. So "yes" we definitely need armed men in our parks and restaurants because if we don't have them, who will protect us from the psychos who could care less about breaking a concealed weapons law -- I can't imagine them saying, "oh, I'd really like to go kill a few people at the local Taco Bell, but there's that darn concealed weapon law."

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Have Your Sins Undone You?

I was sitting at Gateway today while my tires were being rotated when I began to think about Judas -- yes, THAT Judas -- you know, Iscariot, the traitor, the hypocrite, the betrayer, Satan's beloved. I know, that's pretty deep stuff to be pondering during a simple tire rotation, but I had finished my grocery list and I guess God didn't want me to be bored.

Here's what set it off. Recently I read Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur. In it, Mr. MacArthur shares the stories of each of Jesus' apostles. Peter was the fiery one who spoke without thought. Andrew was the one always bringing people to Jesus. John was deeply loved by Jesus and spread that love through his New Testament writings. I was fascinated by the fact that, with the exception of John and of course Judas, all of Jesus' apostles were martyred for their faith.

Even Judas, in a twisted way, died for Jesus when he hung himself after he realized the mistake he made in betraying Him. And the sad thing is, if Judas had just asked Jesus for forgiveness he could have gone on, like the rest of the apostles did, to do great things for Him. Judas missed his opportunity in Heaven because his faith was not genuine.

What do you think he was feeling in that moment when he realized what he had done -- when God convicted him of his sin and it occurred to him that he had betrayed the only man who could save him? He knew Jesus was who He said He was so why didn't Judas call out to him. His greed and regret had undone him. I believe his sin left him feeling unworthy and undeserving to be in the presence of Jesus or to be rewarded with the gift that only He could give. He knew when he made that decision to grab a rope and find a tree instead of going to Jesus to ask for forgiveness that he was committing his soul to a searing death, but he didn't think he was good enough for salvation.

Have your sins undone you? Are you detached from God because you can't seem to reach him through all of that intentional sin? Are you so enmeshed in your sin that you don't think you deserve the gift Jesus provides to you? Jesus even provided the thief hanging on the cross next to him a last-minute liberation and a place in Heaven. He would have given it to Judas too if only he had asked.

Don't be a "Judas." There is nothing that you have done or that has been done to you that Jesus can't make right. He died so you could have eternal life -- He DIED (past tense). It's already been done. You aren't changing anything or doing anything noble or making any statement by not accepting His salvation: He already died for you. Taking a word from my pastor, Tom McCoy, "I'm not preaching now, I'm just telling the truth." Grab onto that truth and hold on for your life (if you're ready to grab on, see the "Prayer for Salvation" on my side bar).