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.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Real Story of David & Goliath

This Sunday I am speaking on one of my favorite Bible stories: David & Goliath. You do not have to be a "church person" to have heard this ultimate underdog story of a shepherd boy who defeats with a sling and a few stones a war-trained giant who wears weights for a jacket.

I love a good underdog story. Some of my favorite movies are about underdogs: Rudy, Rocky, Remember the Titans, The Karate Kid, Hoosiers, Braveheart ... you get the idea. We love movies that involve some person or team overcoming tremendous odds to win an unimaginable victory.

We love the story of David and Goliath because we appreciate stories of courage and heroism. I believe there is a part of us that wants to stand against the odds with valiant audacity and win the battle. In short, we want to be David.

I believe this is one of the primary reasons that most of the sermons you hear about this biblical account center on encouraging us to stand bravely like David and face life's "giants" - which usually come in the form of financial stress, an addiction, a bad relationship, stress, anger, or any other "difficulty" that we face in life.  Most of these well-intended messages provide us some type of moral example application on how we should muster courage, trust God, and use our weapons to defeat those pesky giants life sends our way.

But what happens when the giants win? What happens when the relationship ends or the addiction comes back or the financial security never comes? What happens when all the courage you can muster is not quite enough and you retreat to the corner afraid to face your giants?

I believe to read the story of David & Goliath strictly as a moral example to follow misses the Bible's bigger redemptive storyline. While David does serve in some regard as an example, more importantly David stands as a mere shadow of the One who would come to conquer life's eternal giants.

In the story, David is kind of a champion-redeemer in the sense God raised up this unlikely deliverer who would stand in the place of cowering Israel and win a battle that guaranteed victory for the entire nation.  His victory provides escape for God's people.  See what's going on here?

The story of David & Goliath fits within the broader framework of God's redemptive story. It demonstrates how God works.  David is a picture of how God would one day provide a Champion-Redeemer who would conquer the enemies of sin, death, and hell.

Our ultimate enemy is not our circumstances or finances or troubles or whatever "giants" you are facing. Our greatest struggle is against the law of God that demands our perfection, our sin that causes us to fall short of God's standard, and death - the consequence of our sin.

And it is in the gospel that God provides an unlikely Savior to deliver His people from these eternal enemies, to win the victory on our behalf. 

As others have pointed out, we are less like David facing the giant Goliath and more like the Israelites cowering in fear while our Champion-Redeemer stands in our place and wins the battle over sin, death, and hell for us through his own sacrifice. He wins our fight and we reap the benefits.

Here's the good news: ultimately it is not on you to muster up the courage to face and overcome your giants. That battle has already been fought and won by Jesus.

In other words, we do not fight FOR victory. We fight FROM victory. Huge difference.

What happens when the giants win? What happens when my courage fails? What gives me hope when I am unable to win the battle?

What gives me hope and courage is knowing that Jesus has already won the battle. Victory is mine through Jesus.  As David says in the story, "The battle is the Lord's." 

What that means in my every day life is I live in what He has done for me. I can face whatever difficulty life throws my way because I am His. He has won the victory on my behalf.  I rest in and live in the power of His victory.  I don't have to be Rudy. I don't have to be Rocky. I don't have to be David.  I just have to be me - a sinner who has been pursued and purchased by a Champion-Redeemer who stands in my place. I live in His triumph.

Jesus is greater than David. So the next time you read the story of David & Goliath, remember this story is more than another underdog tale.  It is a shadow of a bigger story where the ultimate victory was won by a Champion-Redeemer whose victory gives me the hope and courage to face life's difficulties.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Rob Bell, Suicide, and Reconciliation

Last night Ashley and I watched The Rob Bell Show.  If you don't know, Rob Bell is an author, speaker, and former pastor who has faced some significant criticism from evangelicals for his thoughts, writings, and theological evolution.  Recently he has surfaced with the Queen of quasi-spiritualism herself Oprah Winfrey.  His new show even airs on Oprah's network.

This blog post is not about the beliefs of Rob Bell.  You can find plenty of information regarding Rob with a simple Google search.  I thought the show was typical Rob Bell. He said a lot and very little at the same time while keeping me engaged throughout.

What caught me by surprise last night was one of the people Rob interviewed for his episode on reconciliation. Rob interviewed a young lady named Rachel whose father was a pastor who went through a moral failure, lost his family and church, and eventually took his own life. His name was Doug and he was a friend of mine.  Rachel was just a child when I knew Doug.

Doug's father and my dad were close friends. His father died of cancer many years ago and Doug eventually became the pastor of his father's church.  He and I knew each other from the time I was just a teenager and in my early twenties I even spent about 9 months helping him at his church while I attended seminary in the evenings. We spent a lot of time together and had a ton of fun in the process.  When our lives took different paths, Doug and I did not keep in contact as much.  Eventually I heard that he had left ministry and some time later my heart was broken when I was told he took his own life.

Years later my life would take a somewhat similar path as Doug's.  To this day, I can remember my dad saying to me repeatedly during some of my toughest moments to never lose hope. He did not want me to end up making the same life-ending decision as Doug.  Even though I have been through some dark and lonely days, by God's grace I never faced suicidal feelings or thoughts.  But I do get why Doug made that fateful choice.

This particular episode of the The Rob Bell Show focused on reconciliation and how God desires for people to be reconciled with Him, others, and our own hearts.  Our story is a part of who we are and yet our tendency is to live apart from those chapters of our lives that create pain and hurt.

As Rob points out, reconciliation allows us to identify those parts of our lives that tend to disrupt our path, to own those parts of our story, and to use them to bring healing to others who are facing similar struggles.

Some of the most difficult chapters to name, own, and share are those we created or caused.  And yet God in his grace redeems those chapters to make us whole in Him and for the sake of those who cross our paths.  We should not live in shame, guilt, and embarrassment over those chapters. Instead we should allow them to reconcile our hearts to God for His purposes.

As Rob pointed out on his show, the cross is the ultimate sign of God's desire for our hearts and lives to be reconciled to Him.  The death of Jesus points toward redemption and healing.  It is because of His death that we can experience the peace of reconciliation.

"Me too" are not always words to be proud of when someone is telling you their darkest struggles or experiences. And yet the words "me too" bring a healing and identity that allows us to experience the reconciling grace of God that makes spiritual healing and wholeness possible.

Whatever you are facing today - know there are others who have faced or are facing the same situation. Name it. Own it. And allow God to use it for both your healing and others on this journey.

Thankfully God is using Rachel's story to bring hope and healing to others.  She has learned that tragedy and hurt are chapters that God can use for our own reconciliation and healing and to speak into the lives of others.

So thank you Rob Bell for highlighting this story in a way that reminds us that God's ultimate purpose is to reconcile all things to Himself (2 Cor 5:19).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Levi's Genes

I am speaking this Sunday from the genealogy of Matthew. I guess I could call it Levi's Genes (see what I did there). I love the story behind the Christmas story that Matthew provides.  The genealogy Matthew offers is more than space filler or a list of names we tend to ignore. It is a narrative comprised of some of the most sordid and shocking tales in Scripture - outrageous, immoral, reprehensible stories of scandal and depravity.

Why does Matthew chose to highlight what most historians attempting to prove the Messiahship of Jesus to a Jewish audience would want to omit?  We get a hint in 1:21 where Matthew records the angel's instruction to Mary to name the child Jesus "for he will save his people from their sins."

God the Son entered the messiness of our world in order to save sinners. Matthew's scandalous inclusions in the genealogy of Jesus are just another reminder of this grace-filled truth. He highlights what we would hide so that we are reminded that the Christmas story is about God sending a Savior into the world.  Sinners need a Savior.  They don't need a program, plan, or step. They need a Savior.

We tend to sanitize the Christmas story with traditional nativity scenes, greeting cards, and carols. But Matthew reminds us that before we get to Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi there is an R-rated back story that would make most of us blush. And these stories serve as a tapestry of grace and redemption.

Not only did Jesus enter our world through a barn and feeding trough, but He was born into a family tree filled with perverse sexual sin, murder, incest, deceit, horrible decisions, and all sorts of sinful misconduct.  Matthew wants us to know from the beginning the type of people Jesus came to save - people with hidden secrets, shady pasts, and open sins. People who are sinners.

In a sense, God stacks the deck against Himself to make sure we understand the gospel is not about what we do or do not do.  Our self-proclaimed goodness is pointless. Jesus came to save people with no religious platform. 

If you know Matthew's story, you recognize he himself is a bad-boy-turned-disciple. He was a thief and traitor.  His friends were party people. He had no platform upon which to stand. And then Jesus entered his space with those two simple words "follow me" and everything changed.

Matthew intentionally reminds us from the start that this story is different. It is not about how good we are. It is about how good He is.  And when you explore the stories in Matthew's list, you learn the gospel is for outcasts, immigrants, and paupers. It is for perverts, adulterers, murderers, renegades, seducers, liars and thieves. Bottom line: the gospel is for sinners. And that list includes me. 

God sent a Savior because that is exactly who we need.