Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Santa's Down!

Approximately six years ago, a kind woman in our church family passed down to us an eight-foot tall blow-up yard Santa.  Ever since then, Santa has stood tall in the Hudson yard throughout the Christmas season.  After eating lunch one day, I backed out of my driveway and pulled up to the stop sign on the east side of our home.  As I rolled past the sign, I heard a huge boom.  It totally mimicked the percussion of a 12-gauge scattergun!  The blow startled me in such a way that I stopped the car and looked around to see if I could determine its origin.  When I looked over my left shoulder, I immediately noticed that Santa was going down.  My first thought was “Santa’s down!”  What kind of sicko would shoot my yard Santa? 

As Santa slipped to the ground, I threw the car into reverse and returned to my driveway.  When I got out of my car, I noticed that the electricity was off at my home.  That is when I realized that the transformer had blown down the alley from our storage building.  Santa was not taken down in a blaze of glory, but had just lost power.  I felt like an idiot.  My initial thought was an erroneous assumption.  I got all lathered up for nothing.    

What does the Bible say about jumping to conclusions?  In Proverbs 18:2 Solomon wrote, “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.”  Let me ‘Artie that up’ for you a little bit.  It is foolish to speak your mind without first gaining understanding.  I constantly remind myself that my fleshly heart is proud, so I must humble myself and investigate the facts before I shoot off my expert mouth.  Save your self some frustration and pain and investigate the facts before you plunge into an assumption.                       

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Our First Chuck Town Christmas

This year, we, The Hudsons, will celebrate our first Chuck Town Christmas.  The Christmas season is absolutely our favorite time of year, and like Cousin Eddy from Christmas Vacation, as a family, we lick every drip of Christmas eggnog from the moose-head cup.  Consequently, like other Christmas-walnuts, we came up with a super, awesome family tradition.  It is the Hudson’s 25 Days of Christmas.  Starting December 1st, each day leading up to Christmas, our family participates in a Christmas activity.  Activity is a broad term, so allow me to share with you a few examples.  We always purchase a fresh-cut tree, make popcorn garland, decorate ginger bread houses or bake sugar cookies, place lights on the house, stake down the blow-up Santa, read the Christmas story from the Bible as we assemble the Nativity scene, and of course watch Christmas Vacation and Christmas with the Kranks a billion times!  That’s not 25 days, but you get the general idea.  For fun, the activity is always documented with a photo and shared on Facebook each night.  I’m not sure why, but friends and family seem to enjoy our crazy family. 

The most special night is the Candlelight Christmas Eve service at the church.  Everyone enjoys juggling molten hot wax candles, as they sing Silent Night, but my favorite part is coming together as a church family and remembering the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ through the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.  This special time together reminds me that, “Mercy triumphs over judgement!  James 2:13. 
Because of the original sin of Adam and the deserved curse of death, every man and woman inherited the sinful nature and death penalty.  But, because of His great mercy, while we were sinners, Christ died for our sins.  God’s great mercy triumphed over His just judgement.  When God entered flesh, through the Christ Child, Emanuel, He ultimately chose mercy over what we deserve, judgement.  I am so thankful that God chose mercy!  As you rush through this Christmas season, allow this grand view of His great mercy to cause you to celebrate.  Mercy triumphs over judgement!  Have I told you that I love you today?  I love you, and I pray that this is your best Christmas season ever.       

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Clowning Around in Chuck Town?

If you keep up with the national media at all, you have noticed that clowns are popping up everywhere at random times.  A. J. Willingham, a reporter for CNN, recently wrote, “People have been arrested.  Schools have sent out warning letters.  Social media is crawling with creepy homemade clown videos.  And it came up at the White House media briefing this week.”  Is this frenzy going to meet the borders of our beloved town?  I hope not because creepy clowns weird me out.  I don’t want to offend any hardworking clowns, but you are not going to catch me clowning around in Chuck Town unless God writes the call in stone.  When I was a child I watched the Stephen King movie “IT”, and ever since then, when I see a clown I wet my pants!  Well, that may be a silly-string stretch of the truth, but I had a plethora of weird, scary clown dreams after I watched the movie.  Enough to make me not want to be around clowns. 

Strangely enough, God has called me to clown around before.  Approximately five years ago, I signed up for a mission trip to Leon, Mexico.  During one of our trip-planning meetings, Paul Koonce, our Director of Missions, asked our small group if anyone would consider dressing up like a clown and performing a few basic illusions while sharing a gospel message.  My hands were glued to my side.  First of all, I hated clowns, and secondly, my introverted self was not about to perform illusions before a crowd.  It wasn’t happening, or that is what I thought anyway.  Sometime later, Paul invited me to lunch to talk about the trip.  During our lunch meeting, he asked me to dawn the wig, makeup, and suit with the funny tie.  I was scared to death!  He explained to me that the children would watch the illusions and respond to the gospel message.  It had everything to do with the gospel message and nothing to do with me.  Even though it was the last thing I wanted to try, I told my friend, "Yes".
A little nervous in the airport, I was sure that customs was going to search my suitcase, see my costume, and bury me in a Mexican jail.  It was irrational, but what was rational about me dressing up like a clown in Mexico?  Another fun outtake was, that during the trip, I bit off some really hot peppers, and my team members gave me the name, “Hot-lips the Clown”.  My wife Em enjoyed that the most.  I can’t say that I really loved the total experience, because it was a little awkward, but I did learn how to make puppies and swords out of balloons, and I have been making balloon animals ever since.  But, the greatest takeaway was that some folks got saved.  That was the whole reason we traveled to Mexico, and that is what drives me to serve the Lord.  The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”  Paul was willing to do anything so that people would come to understand the lifesaving Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Are you willing to do anything to see folks saved?  That’s my goal.  So, if God calls me to clown around in Chuck Town, I will dawn the makeup and the wig but only to save some souls!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Chuck-town or Bust

I love Chuck-town.  It is my new hometown.  If you told me ten years ago that I would one day dawn the Vegas-gold and black, I would have said to you, "You're nuts!"  The day before Emily and I married in 1999, we signed a promissory note on a thirty-five acre tract of land adjacent to the property that I was raised on in Seminole County, Oklahoma.  Just a quarter of a mile, as the crow flies, from my parents house, we were going to build our own homestead.  But, in the summer of 2008 my future plans began to shift.  While sponsoring a group of youth at our state's church camp, I realized a very clear call to ministry.  It was so clear that I knew that one day I was going to serve as the lead pastor of a church.  That week, Emily and I came together and we told God that we were on "Go".  We prayed, "God, we will go wherever you lead us, and do whatever you ask us to do."  In the spring of 2010, God made it very clear that we were to uproot our household and move to the big town of Pawhuska, Oklahoma to shepherd Calvary Baptist Church.  It was hard leaving my hometown.  I had lived there for almost thirty-four years, and we absolutely loved the church we were serving in.    Furthermore, it was really hard on my folks, and that made it even harder for me to leave.  But, I had promised God that I would go wherever He said, and I knew that he was leading me to become a Pawhuska Huskie.  So, I left my home, the church family I loved, a great job, and my precious family and moved to the grass prairies of Osage County, a foreign land without trees.
We were thoroughly thrilled to be in the center of God's will, and the church was very receptive of our family, but I was terribly homesick; I missed my old hometown.  Emily and I earnestly prayed that God would melt the people of Pawhuska on our hearts, and boy did He ever.  Over the next six years God taught me how to be a pastor, how to love His people.  Jehovah Jireh provided a very nice home for us to raise our children; a loving church family  who squeezed the skittles out of my children; and a group of beautiful, beautiful people that Emily and I could do life with.  We loved our church family and they loved us, and Pawhuska was our new hometown.  But, in the first few months of our fifth year, God stirred the calling pot again.  In January of 2016, God confirmed in my heart that I was again to leave my state, my people, my family and move to the rolling hills of Charleston, Arkansas.  This move was even harder to understand.  I was Sooner-born and Sooner-bred, and when I died I was supposed to be Sooner-dead.  Arkansas was sure enough a foreign land! But, because God had called us, it was Chuck-town or bust!
My testimony reminds me of a man of faith that I can only dare to emulate.  His name was Abram and his calling is recorded in Genesis 12:1.   "The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people, and your father's household and go to the land I will show you."  Additionally, Abram's response to God's call is recorded in verse 4.  "So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him."  When you combine these two verses together in their simplest form, you will see that God said to Abram "Leave", and he left.  That is what I call simple obedience.  When God says "Go and do this", your response is to go and do.  That, my friends, is my passion, to follow God wherever He asks me to go and do whatever he asks me to do.  Simple obedience has led me to my new hometown, Chuck-town, and I am thrilled to be a tiger!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chuck-town Football and a "Commitment to Excellence"

The Boys of Fall are back under the stadium lights in Charleston, and this past week, the Hudsons experienced this football phenomenon.  Honestly, the night lived up to all the hype, and without a doubt, football is clearly king in Chuck-town.  That’s cool with me, because I love football, and when in Rome you do as the Romans do. 
My love for football began in the 7th grade.  Like my son, I was a giant at a young age, so the quarterback routinely handed me the football, and more times than not, I drug two or three average-sized boys into the end zone.  I was blessed to have the same football coach from 7th-12th grades.  I shared with our Charleston team this week that my football coach had a huge impact on my life.  Our coach drilled into our minds a team motto.  As we stretched before practices and games, coach always had us chant in unison the phrase, “Commitment to Excellence.”  How could three words have such a huge impact on my life?  During every game and practice, which encapsulated every drill and snap, we were to give our very best effort.

That motto has become a standard in my life, and I truly believe it is what God expects of every Christian.  In Romans 12:1 Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”  Based upon the fact that God was driven by His love to send His only Son to die on the cross for our sins and realizing that we can do absolutely nothing to deserve this act of love, we are to die to our old way of life and live in a way that is holy and pleasing to Him.  The phrase “spiritual act of worship” means that it is only reasonable for us to respond to His mercy in this way.  So, it is only reasonable for us to live in a way that is holy and pleasing to God, based upon the fact that we received this great act of love which we will never deserve. 
What does it mean for you to stop living for yourself and start living your life in such a way that is holy and pleasing to Him?  Holiness is void of sin, and as we grow up in our salvation, we are to strive to become more like Him each day.  We must strive to do the right things.
Additionally, Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord.”  Did you catch that?  We are never to give less than our best!  When I played football, my goal was to exhaust all my strength during the game, leaving it all on the field.  Someday I will breathe my last breath and say farewell to this world.  My goal is to leave it all on the field.  I want to leave you with one question.  Are you doing your very best for the Lord?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Fully Filled

Boy howdy, it sure has been hot lately!  I am so thankful that my uncle repaired the air conditioner in my truck.  Two summers ago, the a/c unit in my 1998 GMC Sierra gave up the ghost, and to save money I chose to roll down the windows and tough it out.  The upside was that the breeze blowing through the cab saved on my wife’s salon bill as well.  Every time Emily stepped out of the truck, she had a fresh do! 
Despite my kiddo’s complaints; the sweaty armpits; and the coarse, dry eyes, I decided that I could live without the modern-day convenience of bought air.  Then, while we were planning for the big move to Charleston, my uncle called me and asked if he could use my truck to pull his twenty-four foot boxed-in trailer.  In response, I told him that he might want to drive early in the morning or late in the evening because my air conditioner was on the fritz.  He was ok with that, so we made plans to transport the truck to his house, so that he could connect it to his trailer and have it ready for the upcoming moving day.  When my uncle showed up with the truck and trailer, he motioned me to the driver’s side window.  Then, he rolled down the glass, and frigid air passed before my face.  Uncle Craig had replaced a rotten hose and filled the unit with Freon. 

I don’t claim to know a lot about cars, but I do know that an air conditioner is designed to be full of Freon, and when the system is empty, it doesn’t cool the car at all.  That means, without the presence of Freon, the machine doesn’t work properly.  Human bodies and cars are vastly different, but like an a/c unit, God designed the human body to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Folks without the Holy Spirit don’t function right.

The Apostle Paul wrote about the work of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 5:18.  Paul wrote, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”  This verse is often misinterpreted.  I don’t believe that you can receive more or less of the Spirit of God; however, I do believe that the Spirit can have more or less control of you.  When we accept Christ as our Savior, God’s Holy Spirit is united with our soul forever.  The Greek word translated as “filled” in this text could be better translated as “controlled”.  So let me “Artie this up” for you a little bit.  Paul is teaching that we should not be controlled by anything of this world.  Instead, we should be controlled by the Spirit of God.  Folks, a body that does not have the Holy Spirt is not going to function properly.  To be used for its Creator’s purpose, it must be controlled by the Creator’s Spirit. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


The Fourth of July is right around the corner, and it is time to celebrate our nation’s freedom with fireworks and homemade ice cream.  Some of my fondest Independence Day memories are from shooting off fireworks at my grandparents’ house.  We were relatively poor growing up, but my parents always found a way to purchase us a small sack of fiery fun.  The anticipation that lead up to the day we purchased fireworks was more energizing than the act of popping them.  I recall one trip to the fireworks stand, well a small horse trailer with hay bales for shelves, where each sibling chose fireworks until every penny was exhausted.  Of course, I picked up a package of black cats that I would unravel and pop one by one and a box of those smelly black snakes that smoked and grew forever. But, the pinnacle piece of the show was going to be a miniature rocket that would shoot up into the sky, burst into flames, and then gently, by way of a parachute, return to the ground. I couldn’t wait until it was time to load up and go to Grandpa Hudson’s place!
When the day arrived, I was loaded with punks.  It was going to take a lot of punks to crack those black cats one by one.  Sadly, in no time at all, I had popped all of my little stuff and it was time for the grand finale.  The rocket lived up to all of its hype.  The explosion was a beautiful sight, and the parachute deployed, properly returning the fuselage safely back to the ground.  As I picked up the spent rocket I realized that my fun was over.  With my head ducked, I returned back to the bed of my father’s green and white 1978 Ford.  As I jumped up on the tailgate, I realized that my youngest sister’s grand finale was still in pristine condition.  She had not shot off her tank.  I had really wanted a tank, but I had to choose between a tank and the rocket, so you know the rest of that story.  I couldn’t stand it.  I wanted to ignite that tank so bad, and I did.  Of course when the turret sounded, my sister whirled around and began screaming at me.  She then ran into the house and tattled on me.  Mom came out and asked me what happened, and with tears, I told her that as I had jumped up on the tailgate that I accidentally backed into the tank with my lit punk.  That of course was a lie.

As a child I was selfish.  My bent for self-gratification led me to take something away from my own sister.  The Bible teaches us that, as children of God, we should be selfless rather than selfish.  In fact, the apostle Paul wrote about this in Philippians 2:3-4. 

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

When I ignited my sister’s tank I had only my own interests in mind.  Sadly, there are times when we fuss and bicker within the church body.  Brothers and sisters in Christ get upset with one another over the silliest things.  Would we see more reconciliation within the body if we considered others’ feelings?  I want to ask you to do something.  If you are out of fellowship with someone in the church because of hurt feelings, I would like for you to pray about reconciling with that individual.  God’s love will cover all.  I love ya’ll.