I know that most churches have some form of youth ministry, but I just wanted to talk about ours briefly. I am proud of what this small church has done with its Awana program over the years. It’s a ministry which started long before I arrived. Every Wednesday night of the school year, for 12 years, our Awana “Commander,” Kelly C. Boylan and the many dedicated volunteers have helped loads of children make new friends, learn about life and all about Christ. They study the Bible, play games, eat hamburgers and hot dogs and grow. They grow so quickly! There are usually 20-30 kids and 20+ volunteers! This year the middle school and high school kids have formed a new youth group called “Revolution Youth.” We did a little remodeling of a couple of classrooms, and the kids picked out the name for the program. The preschool and elementary school children are still rolling as Awana, and it’s still pretty noisy here on Wednesday nights! Hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone! A lot of people here have put loads of time and energy into this ministry. I’m excited to see what the next 12 years will bring!
Last week I gave you a question to think about. The main thought in the question was this: Could you take the place of Judas? If you missed the scenario, there is a link to last week’s article at the beginning of this discussion. So, if you could go back in time and Jesus asked you to follow Him as Judas you would have loads of things to consider. I think this question could lead into a very long book…but I’m not going that deep. Obviously, not here. First off, in this scenario, both of you know where this is heading. You know as much as Jesus as to how this story is going to play out! In the original story, Jesus knew what was going to take place; Judas did not. I’ve asked several people this question over the last week and here are some of the thoughts we’ve come up with:
If you say to Jesus, “I will not!” then you might be just flat out refusing to walk with Christ.
You may not even fully understand why Jesus was here, to begin with.
I’ve had people say, “No. Because he betrayed Jesus and I would NEVER betray Jesus!”
OK…But, If Judas hadn’t betrayed his teacher Jesus would not have gone to the cross. Or, at least when He did.
I’ve had someone say, “I would make sure He was not crucified…Oh, no that doesn’t work either does it...”
I’ve had people say, “If I say yes then the world will despise me forever.”
As we read in Matthew 27:3-10, Judas repented and took back the thirty silver coins. He was so remorseful that “He went off and hanged himself.” As Christians, we forget that Judas loved Jesus and he repented. As sinful people we leave out the thought of forgiveness; we want Judas punishedfor what he did. We also don’t think about the fact Jesus called Judas and knew what was about to happen. He knew that His crucifixion was the plan all along. The whole world could not have salvation without it.
Judas played a major role in the events leading up to the world’s salvation. We say, easily, that we will go to our death for Jesus! I say that’s an easy thing to say because Jesus laid down His life for us. He has the ability to reward us with everlasting life. If we could take the place of Judas, knowing what we know now, we would be laying down our lives for the world. And, it would come without any acknowledgment from that world which doesn’t deserve salvation and doesn’t have any way to repay it. In the end, all of the Apostles died terrible deaths. They gave their lives for the world, in Jesus’ name, so that the world would know Christ.
So here is a question I came up with last night. It goes like this: Say you are a scientist/engineer and you have invented a time machine. And, the time machine actually works. The very first place you decide to go is back to the time of Jesus. You are a faithful believer and follower today and are excited to go back to actually hear Christ and see Him in person. And, when you arrive you land at the very beginnings of His ministry. You find Him, follow Him and are listening to Him teach with all the other people. Suddenly, Jesus stops talking to the people and He turns to you and says, “Judas Iscariot, I am very glad you could be here today. Follow me.” You say, “Lord, you are mistaken I am not Judas…” To which He replies, “I am not mistaken. Follow me.” Would you do it? Would you follow Jesus as Judas Iscariot? Knowing how the story unfolds, would you take the place of Judas? Think about how things will wind up for you. Think about how things wind up for Christ. Think about how things wind up for the rest of the world. Think about your answer and what it says about your perspective, presumptions and understanding of what it means to “follow” Christ. How does this question effect how you think about Judas? I’m going to let you think about that and then we’ll discuss more next week.
I grew up listening to country music back in the day. I could tell you about all the original Grand Ole Opry stars; most of them long gone by the time I was in my teens. In my album collection, I even had a few old Johnny Cash records. I picked up several of them from West High School where my mother taught English. They were getting rid of some of the duplicates in their library collection.
I, obviously, never met Johnny Cash and what I know of him is from his book, TV, a 1970’s documentary, interviews and the most recent movie about his life.
What I see appears to be a man truly walking with God and in a continual struggle to keep his personal life in check. He battled with addictions and many other issues we will never know. I see what I believe is a real, “open book” life of a Christian. All of his successes and failures were out there for the world to see. I see a common man, just like me, trying to do his best to stay upright.
In my own life, I follow Jesus. My mind is set on Him most of the time. I can see the “right” path and I’m on it…and then I stumble. I take my eyes off Christ, and I fall…And Jesus waits for me. He gives me strength and stands me back up, forgives me…and we continue the journey.
Ephesians 1: 6-8 6 Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! 7 For by the blood of Christ[c] we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, 8 which he gave to us in such large measure!
My Thought For Your Week: Be real. God knows your heart. Open it up and give it to Him everyday.