Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Raising Daughters

I do not consider myself a great parent.  Unfortunately parenting does not come with an instruction manual. Most parenting is learning as you go. For that reason alone, I frequently make mistakes as a dad. By the time you add to the mix different personalities, genders, emotions, life circumstances, sin, and the complexity of leading and loving another individual, you realize quickly there is no such thing as a perfect parent.

I have also discovered parenting girls is completely different than raising boys. I grew up in a home with all brothers. My father is an only child so he has no sisters. My mom was raised with two brothers and no sisters. My older brother has only sons.  My daughter Kayleigh was the first girl in the Hudson family for 2 generations. Needless to say, raising daughters was not in the genes when my girls came along.

Every season of a child's life is different. They evolve as a person. They grow. Their personalities are shaped. Life experiences mold them. Raising a toddler looks entirely different than parenting a teenager.  Bottom line: this parenting gig is NOT easy.

I have two beautiful, fun, and intelligent daughters. For a few years now, we have been trying to navigate the "dating" waters.  When should they be allowed to start? Should they be allowed to start? {My vote is no} What does it look like? What are the expectations?  What is dating?  What does a God-honoring dating relationship even look like?  My head hurts just typing out these questions!

As the one and only God-appointed father of these two precious treasures, my natural instinct is to protect them at all costs.  I have been through enough life and its consequences to want to guard them from unnecessary heartache and hurt.  I want them to be valued. I want them to be cherished. I want them to be honored and respected. I want them to be treated like the princesses they are in my heart.

And yet, they are young ladies. My Kayleigh is 18 and in college! My Ragan is about to turn 16! I am not sure how and when this transition happened but here it is.  And I am not always sure how to handle it.  We talk. We cry. We laugh. We yell. We get frustrated. We say mean things. We pray together. We ask for forgiveness and forgive. We get angry.  We hug tightly. We love deeply. And through it all, we try and live out with each other the grace that has been lavished upon us by our Heavenly Father.

If I am completely honest, I don't always "get" my daughters. I don't get their emotions. I don't always understand their feelings. I don't always want them to grow up.  For crying out loud, I don't even get why they would want to date any stupid boy ... sorry - there's that protective dad thing. 

And they don't completely "get" me. Truthfully they will never understand the depth of my love for them until they hold their own babies.  They do not grasp the uncertainty that resides in my heart as I try and parent them in such a complicated and depraved world.  They do not comprehend the concern inside their daddy that something or someone is going to steal their most prized possession, their heart, and then trample it.

I pray regularly for God to provide preventative grace in the lives of my girls. I am thankful beyond words for the redemptive grace of Jesus that heals and restores our brokenness. But I beg God for the grace of Jesus to intervene in the lives of my girls before the brokenness occurs.  I pray His grace protects them from unnecessary hurt and sinful choices knowing that if they make choices that leave them wounded that His same grace will be there to make them whole again. But grace is not just about from what Jesus redeems us but also grace is about from what He protects us.

I LOVE being a parent. It is one of the greatest privileges of life. I love each of my children as deeply as humanly possible.  And in the end, I know they know it. I know they know that their daddy wants what is absolutely best for them.  And as they continue this transition from teenagers to young ladies, I know that they know that their daddy is a person who needs the gospel of grace.  I have been given much grace in my two girls and so I seek to be a person who extends grace to them when they blow it and asks for grace from them when I blow it. And in the end, I think that is what being a parent is all about - it is about broken people resting in the grace of an unbroken Redeemer who enables healthy relationships in the middle of the complexities of real life.

The gospel is a way of life that impacts how I parent.

And then there's my son...

Friday, October 09, 2015

GRACE: a way of life

We are in a benchmark series at City Church called CORE.  In this series we are unpacking what it means to fulfill the mission to which we believe we have been called: to continue what Jesus began. We have refined our mission with 4 Core Values that serve as our guardrails to make sure we remain focused on our task.  Two of those values focus on what we believe: 1) The Church belongs to Jesus & 2) Grace is a way of life.  The other two deal with what we practice: 3) We live intentionally in community & 4) We are in the city for the city.  This Sunday I will be preaching part 2 of our second core value ~ Grace is a way of life. 

Living a life of grace begins with believing and accepting the gospel of grace.  We learn grace by being graced. As we grasp the gospel (what has been done for us in Jesus & who we are in Jesus), grace becomes a way of life. We tend to live out what we have received - what has changed our lives.

I believe most of our struggles as individual and corporate followers of Jesus often comes down to two primary issues: 1) a failure to grasp, embrace, and live out God's unconditional grace, love, and forgiveness in our lives & subsequently 2) a failure to give out God's unconditional grace, love and forgiveness.

We fail to live lives marked by unconditional grace because we fail to recognize our desperate need for grace in our own lives or we fail to recognize God's full acceptance of us in Jesus.  Religion tends to take a ladder-like approach to spirituality - the more you do or don't do (as defined by your sect), the more spiritual and God-approved you are. I grew up in an environment where spirituality was often defined by conformity.  Consequently my deepest struggles as a Jesus follower often have to do with resting in who I am in Jesus and not trusting in what I have or have not done to make me acceptable to God.

I talk a lot about grace. I even planted a church in Sin City named Grace Point - where we emphasized grace is the point but I am not sure I fully began to grasp grace until I was absolutely dependent upon it.  My understanding of grace runs deeper than ever because life has taught me how desperately I need Someone who loves unconditionally.

Grace is more than a doctrine. It can't be contained within our theological systems. Grace goes places where we are uncomfortable. It is messy and complicated. It chooses the wrong people. Grace is divinely vulgar and uncomfortably promiscuous.  Grace will not be controlled by our sense of fairness. It defies logic and has zero to do earning, merit, or being deserved. Grace doesn't demand. It simply gives.

The gospel of grace liberates us from the ladder-like approach to spirituality. It sets us free from the burden of trying to earn God's approval, the demand to measure up, and the pressure to get it right. Grace releases us from the tireless effort to do or be enough and from the need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected. 

*By the way, this truth applies to "church life" as well.  Grace liberates the local church from the next level consumeristic approach that drives many churches and pastors today - more people, more campuses, more buildings, more numbers, more impact, and on and on and on.  I have lived that life and it is exhausting!  

Grace just happens.  And when we get grace ... when we really get it ... when it moves beyond a catchword ... when it moves beyond mere doctrine and becomes a way of life ... when that happens, then grace changes everything.

Grace is often most clearly visible in stories because grace happens in real life. It happens in the messiness.  And that is why I get grace deeper now than earlier in my life.  I get it more now because grace came to me in the messiness of my own making and it redeemed, restored, and healed me.  Grace came to me when I was broken, when I was unworthy of it. Grace came to me when I needed it the most but deserved it the least.

As I lead this ragtag group of Jesus followers called City Church, we realize more than ever that we can't make the church cool enough to draw sinners to Jesus. Here is what we can do: proclaim and demonstrate the gospel of grace.  We give grace because we have been given grace.  And that simple truth will change your life. I know it has changed mine.

Grace is a way of life.

Want to listen to or watch our Core series? 

Subscribe to the City Church podcast here.

Or watch the messages in our Core series here.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Welcome to City Church

Today we announced that Revolution Church is re-launching as City Church.  We are excited about this direction change for a number of reasons.

1. We believe it is time for a fresh start.  With new leadership comes a re-defined focus. The name Revolution (and formerly Crosspoint) Church served a purpose. We believe that season is now complete and it is time for a new start.  It is important for Ashley and I to take ownership of a fresh focus and changing the name is a natural part of this process.

2. We want our name to reflect who we are.  We believe God has called us to be IN this city and FOR this city.  God has called us to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel in this community. We want the people in our city to know that we are for them. We will serve them. We will love them. We will partner with them to make our city a better place.  The name City Church reflects a bigger vision than what just happens on Sunday mornings.

3. Our mission statement is simple: City Church exists to continue what Jesus began.  We believe the New Testament teaches that we are to continue what Jesus taught and did.  We are to be a gospel-centered and Jesus-focused. And this mission begins where we exist in everyday life - our homes, our places of work, our schools, our parks, our restaurants, our stores, our ballparks, our neighborhoods. In other words, we are called to live out the gospel in our city.  Our name reflects our desire to be Jesus followers within our everyday life context.

Change is a natural part of life.  God created a world that is constantly changing - seasons come and go, children become adults, parents become grandparents, flowers grow and fade, and on and on. Even so, change is a natural part of the life of a church.  And we believe this change is a natural step in our process to be who we believe God has called us to be in our city.

We could not be more excited to be on this journey.  Our story is one of authentic brokenness and grace-filled redemption. We are thankful to be able to lift up Jesus in this city.  And we invite you to be a part of this group of broken, grace-dependent Jesus followers that we call City Church. Come as you are. It is okay to not be okay. Just remember one thing: no perfect people are allowed. 

Welcome to City Church! 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

And Then She Went to College...

Eighteen years seem like such a long time ... until you drop off your first child at college. At that moment, you realize just how short 18 years actually is.

There is no way to prepare for the 18 years of emotions you feel as a parent. As I drove home yesterday after leaving my Kayleigh at Samford, my heart felt ... I don't know how to describe it other than weird.  I am SO excited for her future and know that these next 4 years will potentially be some of the most memorable of her life.  And yet there is a deep heaviness in my heart knowing it will never quite be the same.

I am not sure you ever feel ready as a parent to say goodbye to your child. I am proud of the young woman she has become and yet every insecurity I have as a parent surfaces in these defining moments.  Your mind is filled with both good times, struggles, and a flood of questions regarding your abilities as a parent.

A lot of memories are created in 18 years - many you will cherish always and some you wish you could edit or rewrite.  But each life occurrence serves as a word, sentence, paragraph, or chapter in her story.  The first section of her life story has now been written and the next section begins.

Thankfully I am not the supreme writer of Kayleigh's story.  Nor is she the ultimate biographer of her life.  No single person stands as the final composer of her narrative. The Sovereign Author of her life story is a Heavenly Father who fills her pages with grace, redemption, healing, hope, love, and forgiveness.

There is no promise that Kayleigh's story will be filled only with happiness for the goal of our Author is not to make us happy.  His purpose is to make us holy - to conform us to his image. The aim of the Author runs deeper than mere happiness for happiness comes and goes.  Happiness is fickle. It is a cruel taskmaster drawn by superficial architects.  God wants to develop something deeper within Kayleigh. He wants to create within her a supernatural joy that surpasses human comprehension.

Jesus talks to his followers about a joy that can't be taken from them. This joy is not dictated by circumstances. It is not controlled by humans.  And it is provided solely in Jesus.

As God writes Kayleigh's narrative, I am thankful that I play a significant role in her story. God chose me to play the role of Kayleigh's Daddy.  And that reality is both a huge privilege and responsibility.  I have not always played my part in a God-honoring way. I am a sinner. I am human.  I created chapters I wish could be edited out or rewritten.  And yet, every sentence I composed God uses for her development and His glory.

God has taught me a lot in these 18 years with Kayleigh.  His education has not always translated into everyday life. But in the end, I must rest in the sovereign control of the Author who above all else has taught me how to love her unconditionally.  

I think I am still in a little denial that my Kayleigh is now a college student.  In some way, she will always be the curly-haired, brown-eyed beauty that captured her Daddy's heart as a child.  And yet as I kissed her goodbye yesterday, the tears that streamed down my face were not generated by sadness alone but a deep joy - knowing she has a Heavenly Father who loves her more deeply than I ever could. And it is in His sovereign love that I can rest as He writes her beautiful biography. 

I love you Kayleigh Hudson - now go live out your story. It is really just beginning. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Daddy's Thoughts on His Daughter's Graduation

Tomorrow evening my oldest daughter Kayleigh will put on a cap and gown, walk across a stage, receive a diploma, officially become a high school graduate, and enter a new season of life.

I am not sure that reality has sunk in for me yet.  My little girl is becoming a young woman. Even as I type those words, my heart pauses for a second.  On one hand, I am so excited for her and what lies around the corner in her life.  On the other hand, I want to burst into tears, hold her close, and protect my little princess from the broken world that awaits.

My mind races to the giggles, vacations, closeness, wins, laughs, and everyday moments we have enjoyed. And at the same time it also recalls the hurts, tears, tough conversations, pain, and moments of distance we endured.  As she prepares to transition into this new season, I wish I could multiply the good times and edit the not-so-good ones ... but then I realize ~ God has used both to make her the person she has become and is becoming.

Time can be a cruel taskmaster. We can't escape it. We can't alter, rewind, or erase it. It simply marches forward. And in the process, children grow up.  Memories are created.  Hurt happens. Moments are spent and we are left scratching our heads wondering where it went and how it happened so fast.  And yet time is a friend.  It allows healing to transpire. Hurt weakens its grip. Growth occurs.  Time provides opportunity.

The gospel reminds us that the eternal God confined Himself to time. He entered our space.  And in so doing, He entered our world of happiness and hurt, joy and suffering, peace and pain. Jesus placed Himself within time and faced the same mix of experiences and emotions that time generates in our lives.

And it is because of this gospel, that no matter what emotions and fears I face tomorrow night as the parent of a high school graduate, I know that she is safe in her Savior's love.  She can't remove God's love from her.  Time will march forward and she will face both the blessings and struggles of life. She will make wise decisions and foolish ones. She will feel secure and confident and she will feel vulnerable and defeated.  Time will bring mountaintops and valleys.  And through it all, Jesus will never leave or forsake her ... even if she leaves and forsakes Him. 

No one prepared me for these moments as a parent. No one taught me how to hold on while letting go.  No one coached me on how to trust that what you failed to do as a parent will be redeemed by a God who loves her even more deeply than her parents.

I love you Kayleigh Dean Hudson.  I love you more than words can explain. I love you more than life. And when you walk across that stage tomorrow night, I will beam with pride and happiness on the outside while I am crying, afraid, and anxious on the inside - thankful that time allowed me the opportunity to experience life with you, to be your daddy, and for that I will be forever grateful.

* There may or may not have been a few tears shed in the drafting of this blog post - only the author will ever know.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Our Return to Ministry

Earlier today it was announced publicly that Ashley and I will be re-entering ministry. I have agreed to become the pastor of Revolution Church in Decatur and Ashley is now the Director of Ministries for the church. While I will also maintain my current position at the company for which I work for an indefinite period of time, Ashley has resigned State Farm and will be working "full-time" for the church.

Here are a few things we want people to know about this transition:

> We made this decision after an extended season of intentional prayer, thought, and advice. 

When Ashley and I were first approached about this opportunity several months ago, our initial reaction was an immediate no.  Ashley felt an even stronger reluctance than I did.  We had reached a place in life where we were content to live life "outside" of ministry.  However out of respect for our friends Dave & Dana Anderson, we agreed to pray about it.  To make a long story short, God changed our hearts and desires to the point we believe with confidence He is leading us down this path.

We have sought extensive direction and insight from a number of people we respect and trust - many of whom we believed would tell us that we should remain out of ministry.  I talked specifically to people I believed would discourage me from making this move. To my surprise, God used these individuals separately and without knowledge of other concurrent conversations to speak clarity and affirmation into our lives.

We were not looking to re-enter ministry. We did not seek it out. If anything, the opposite is true. And yet it is clear to us God orchestrated a number of events behind the scenes that have placed us at this time for this reason. As I reflect on what has happened in the last few years, this opportunity is beyond anything we could create.

We are excited to take this step because we believe God is in it

> We have created structure in our lives to safeguard our hearts, lives, and marriage.

Without revisiting all the details of our well-publicized history, Ashley and I only agreed to take this position with certain guidelines in place.  It is essential to us to make sure we embark on this journey with one heart and mind and that we prioritize our relationship with God and each other above every other component.

We are excited to take this step because we are taking this journey together.

> Our mindset regarding ministry is different than it ever has been.

My perspective on life and ministry has been radically altered in the last few years.  What appeared to be matters of first importance to me in my previous ministry experience do not seem quite as important now.  Our focus has shifted. We are more gospel-centered than ever.

We are excited to take this step because the gospel has changed our outlook

> We will not focus on the past but upon the future.

Anyone who knows our story knows how our selfish and sinful choices mark our lives. And while we will not hide our story, neither will we allow our past to be the platform upon which we move forward. We will not be defined by our past. We stand as living testimonies of God's radical grace, forgiveness, redemption, and healing. Our identity is not found in what we have done but in who He is and what He has done on our behalf.

We are excited to take this step because our story is marked by His grace

> We have considered deeply the biblical qualifications of this step.

Should a person who has committed a public sin in their past be allowed to return to ministry after a season of restoration? If so, how long is long enough? How soon is too soon? There is no definitive answer to these questions in Scripture. And while there are a number of factors to consider, we believe God does not want us to sit on the sidelines any longer and we are confident He is behind this transition.

Bottom line: some will agree - some will disagree. I have read and studied every possible argument for and against a person returning to ministry with our history.  There is no consensus among evangelical scholars on what if anything permanently disqualifies a person from ministry.  Thankfully I had studied and processed this issue long before my own decisions disqualified me from ministry years ago.  We have no desire to persuade those who disagree with our position.  Grace is bigger than second and third tier issues that tend to divide the body of Christ.  We are taking this step with a clear conscience and a heart of peace believing God is leading us to take this step.

We are excited to take this step because we are not qualified based on our merit but on His

> The next several months will bring both change and challenge.

As we prepare to lead this amazing group of people God has placed in our path, we want to focus our attention as a church on one primary objective: getting healthier.  Just like Ashley and I, the people of Cross Point/Revolution Church have been through a lot in recent years.  We believe our primary focus at this point is to entrench ourselves in the gospel of Jesus Christ and to get healthier.  Naturally with new leadership comes some change, so change will happen with time. But we will not change just for the sake of change. We will change for the sake of focus. We want to be focused on who we are in Jesus and what God has called us to be in this community.

We are excited to take this step because we get to serve alongside a community of Jesus followers. 

> Dave & Dana Anderson are our friends and are fully supportive of this transition.

Dave and I are different type people. We lead differently. We preach differently. We make decisions differently.  Simply put, we are uniquely created by God to be who He created us to be.  That truth does not make either of us "better" than the other. It makes us each a pivotal part of God's beautiful body in our own unique way.  Dave asked me to consider leading Revolution Church because he believes God is behind it.

Simply put, Dave and Dana believe their season as the primary leaders of Revolution has ended.  They are not quitting. They are simply taking a role in the church of continual faithfulness, support, and encouragement. Neither Dave or Dana will be on staff at the church.  Their attitude is simply "use us where you believe we can best be used."  I have to say I have met few leaders in church life with the type of servant heart Dave Anderson displays.  He will be the first to tell you that he is a sinner and has made some leadership mistakes along the way - just as we all do.  He is not perfect and neither will I be perfect. And that is why we need Jesus. I respect Dave and Dana and am thankful God brought them into our lives.  They are our friends and will continue to be so. You can read about Dave's decision here.

We are excited to take this step because we get to lead genuine and sincere Jesus followers. 

As we enter this next season of life, we do so with great humility and reservation.  I am more God-dependent and less human-focused than I have ever been.  My heart's desire is that God will use Ashley and I to point people to Jesus.  Hear me clearly: it is all about Jesus.  It is His church. It is His message we will proclaim and live. It is to Him we will sing. It is to Him we will point people. It is Jesus alone who can bring grace, healing, forgiveness, hope, joy, peace, fulfillment, and redemption.  It is Jesus alone who brings true and meaningful life.  So expect to hear a lot about Jesus.  As John the Baptist declared so boldly, "I must decrease. He must increase."

We are excited to take this step because we believe the gospel is the greatest news on the planet and we get to be a part of making that message known. 

If you are currently or were formerly involved with Cross Point / Revolution Church or have been involved in our lives and would like to contact us or if you have questions, please e-mail me personally at devin.hudson@gmail.com.

We look forward to taking this journey together. 

Friday, February 06, 2015

I Should Have...But I Didn't

Just an observation ...

It is not uncommon for me to cross paths via e-mail or in person or through social media with people I would have considered good friends when I was in full-time ministry.  When these interactions occur, I never quite know how a former friend will respond to me or how they "feel" about me. 

One thing I've noticed that I hear often is something like: "I should have reached out to you but I didn't" or "I read your blog all the time but I've never tried to contact you."

Honestly I get why most people don't reach out to friends during seasons of sin or difficulty. It is just awkward.  After all, what do you say to someone who is making decisions with which you disagree? Do they even want to hear from you? How do you communicate your concern for them without pushing them away?  Frankly, it is just seems easier to lose contact.

I can list lots of people that I would have considered a friend or mentor who have never attempted to reach out to me. Some tried once or twice but most did not. And I don't blame them. Nor do I expect them to make any effort to contact me. Like I said, I get it.

But here's what I want to encourage you to do: the next time you think of that person who has made some bad life decisions or who has gone through a tough time of their own making, reach out to them. Let them know you are thinking about or praying for them. Let them know you are there if they need you. Let them know God loves them regardless of their life decisions. Let them know there is healing, grace, forgiveness, and redemption. Let them know you care.

You may or may not ever hear back from them. They may or may not want to hear from you. You may or may not ever see them again.  But here's what I know: people need to know that there is someone who cares about them even on their worst days. People need to know that there is someone who is there for them regardless.

I love how Jesus stood by Peter in his worst moments. He loved him through some tough decisions. And I believe how Jesus dealt with Peter in his darkest hour shaped Peter's future ministry. How Jesus responded to Peter forever marked his life.

Ask yourself: who do I need to reach out to today? Who has made some poor choices but just needs to hear from a friend? Who needs to be pursued? 

Take that step. It could make all the difference. I speak from experience.