Spiritual Transitions

Life is full of transitions. I am constantly reminded of this truth. I am reminded of transitions with my two young boys, 4 and 2 years of age. I look at my 4 year old and remember as if it was yesterday that I was feeding him a bottle or rocking him to sleep at night or hunting for that ever elusive pacifier. I have most recently been reminded of this truth with my 2 year old beginning the process of potty training. This process and transition called potty training is…well we will call it “interesting”. It has gone far better than I anticipated, yet we have still had several “clean up on aisle 3” situations. It is hard to believe that for the last 4 1/2 years we have had diapers of various sizes in the Hudson household, yet in the not to distant future we will be diaper free. As I imagine being diaper free and the reduction of an expenditure I have been wondering what I can do with that money. Unfortunately, my wife has been quick to tell me she already has her ideas of what to do with that money. I am left with the old adage, “Happy wife, happy life.” Life is truly full of transitions. One page in the book of life leads to another page and one chapter leads to another.

As I have thought about transitions I have also been thinking of transitions in life when it comes to our spiritual life. The reality is we are suppose to grow and mature in our faith journey. With this growth and maturity comes transitions. Transitions in our attitudes, transitions in our actions, transitions in our decisions, and transitions in our lifestyle.

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (NASB, emphasis mine).” We are to be transformed from one thing to another thing. More specifically we are to be transformed from who we were before we believed in Jesus, to our new identity in Christ.

The Bible also tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit (NASB, emphasis mine).”

Here is the reality, sometimes these transitions can be easy and sometimes these transitions can be difficult. Sometimes these transitions are comfortable and sometimes these transitions push us out of our comfort zones. While, we may or may not like these transitions they are essential to us progressing in our faith journey with Jesus.

My friends, in this journey of faith, we are to make these transitions toward becoming more and more Christlike. Further, these transitions will be progressive throughout our life. You may hear some call this ‘progressive sanctification’, this is a big word for becoming more like Christ. Sometimes we will make these transitions toward Christlikeness easily and sometimes we will make these transitions toward Christlikeness with consistent and constant stumbles and falls. There is no secret sauce in making these transitions, but if there is a secret sauce, here it is: keep walking; put Jesus in the rightful place in your life, the throne of your heart; when you stumble and fall get back up, even when you feel like giving up; and get plugged into a church and a small group where you can be encouraged, loved on, held accountable, and where you can serve others.

Here are my questions for you:

1- What spiritual transitions are you going through now? How is the Lord trying to mold and shape you in this spiritual transition?

2- What areas in your life are you resisting transitions? Why are you resisting transitions in these areas?

Too Great to Forgive???

“The things I have done are too big and too bad to be forgiven.” Sadly, I hear this statement or a rendition of this statement often enough that it doesn’t catch me off guard as I talk to people about Jesus. Sometimes when people say this they are referring to the totality of the actions in their life, yet what I find more often than not is that they are referring to a particular decision and actions. I have accepted and seen that in the human heart is the potential for good, yet I have also accepted and seen in the human heart a depravity at the deepest levels. It is because of this depravity, that statements like the one above while they break my heart, they do not surprise me. In all honesty and with a broken heart, it doesn’t take much time to see the brokenness and the depravity of humanity.

The question is what do you do if you personally have a question like “my sin is too big and too bad to be forgiven” and how do we respond to statements like this? In no particular order, let me give you some suggestions that I have learned.

Listen with Grace
When you truly open yourself up and listen to people and if you listen to enough people you will hear things that will surprise, shock, and things you had never imagined. When you hear things such as this, you must respond with grace and compassion. I realize this may go against an initial response, yet as we read the Bible Jesus repeatedly responded with grace and compassion.

There are a few realities that we must recognize. First, the person you are listening to is already crushed, broken, and they are at that moment freely admitting that the decision and actions that were taken are bad and awful. Second, it is not our job to pile on with finger waging. As believers, our job is to be a representative of Christ to those around us; to share the wonderful news of Jesus, His love and forgiveness; and to recognize with grace and truth the seriousness of sin. Third, as soon as you give a hint of finger waging, the person will shut down and the wonderful news of Jesus will be shut out.

Recognize and Affirm a Sin is a Sin is a Sin
We as people consistently want to put things on a scale from great and excellent things to terrible and awful things. We do the same thing with the sins that are committed as we arrange them on a sliding scale. Some sins we say are awful and terrible, some sins are bad, and some sins we put in the category of ‘no harm, no foul.’ We can also see this with the distinction we have with lies: white lies and black lies.

We can make a distinction and categorize on a scale the different chili recipes or sports teams, yet the reality is there is no distinctions when it comes to sin. The saying is, ‘A sin is a sin is a sin’, it doesn’t matter where on the scale of awful to not too terrible we place a particular sin. The Bible tells us in the first part of Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death (NASB).” I want you to notice with me it doesn’t say that what we deserve for a particular sin or category of sins is separation from the Lord. It says that the thing we deserve because we commit sin is separation.

When we say that we have committed a sin too bad to be forgiven, we have erred in attempting to put sins in categories. The simple truth is all sin is serious, and the solution for sin is the same- Jesus.

Know the Cross is Sufficient
When we believe that our sin is too big and bad to be forgiven, whether we realize it or not, we are saying that our sin is greater than the crucifixion of Christ or that our sin is greater than His ability to forgive. Colossians 2:13-14 tells us, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (emphasis mine; NASB).”

My friends, many of you are in this position of believing that your sin is too great to be forgiven. I want to tell you that the cross of Christ is sufficient to forgive all your sins. The hurdle isn’t if Jesus ‘can’ forgive you and make you whole because He freely offers that wholeness and forgiveness. The hurdle is if you are willing to ask and believe.

Celebrate that His Grace is Enough
The last thing I want to encourage you toward as you realize the love and the forgiveness of Christ, is to celebrate. We are celebrating for a reason and that reason is the wonderful grace of Jesus. My friends that wonderful grace is amazing and more than enough. Through Jesus our sins are forgiven, we are made whole, the joy that comes through abundant life, and we have the hope of heaven. Let us celebrate!

Knocked Down Not Knocked Out

They say that there are two things guaranteed in life, taxes and death. While taxes may seem like death, there is a third that isn’t in this saying, struggles and pains. Struggles and pains are sadly a part of this life and there is no getting around this fact.

Sometimes our struggles and pains are financial. We live on a budget, yet there are times that our money is funny as we get further away from our last pay check. Sometimes the struggles and pains are with relationships. Maybe there is a disagreement with a friend that has divided or broken ‘your relationship. There are also times that trust is broken with a family member and you just don’t know if you will be able to trust them again.

Our struggles and pains can be in the form where we just can’t seem to catch a break. Murphy of Murphy’s law becomes your new and unwanted friend, where what can go wrong, does. Sometimes the struggles and pains are physical, with an injury or a painful diagnosis. Sometimes these struggles and pains are with the loss of a loved one. Struggles and pains are sadly a part of this life.

These struggles and pains can cut us deep, knock us down, and at times they can even deliver a knock out blow. My friends, there is no preventing the fact that these struggles and pains do cut us deep, they hurt and the pain stays with us for days or years, and at times a life time. In like manner there is no preventing the fact that these pains and struggles can knock us down with the blows that are either significantly hard or the blow catches us off guard and sends us to the mat, dazed and confused. Yet, these pains and struggles do not have to knock you out. A.A. Milne the creator of Winnie the Pooh once stated, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

How can you keep these struggles and pains from knocking you out? First, if you are a believer, you have an anchor in Jesus Christ. Psalm 31:2-4 states, “Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength (NASB).” What an amazing passage that gives us the promise that we can hold tightly and confidently to the Lord, as a ship holds tightly and confidently to an anchor in the midst of a storm, as the passage tells us that the Lord is a ‘rock of strength’, ‘a stronghold’, and ‘my fortress’. Not only are we given this truth, but we are given a second truth in this passage, the Lord will lead and guide you through life’s ups and downs.

Second, you need support from loved ones. We were not meant to go through this life alone, so we need others in our life. This is especially true in those times of life’s pains and struggles, where we need those words of encouragement, that shoulder to cry on, and that pat on the back. We simply need those loved ones around us, to help us remember that we are not alone. If you are that loved one, can you be there to be that presence, that word of encouragement, or that pat on the back to remind them that they are not alone?

Third, you need to refocus on your purpose. Each of us has a purpose in our life, yet when we are in the crucible of life it is easy to loose track of that purpose. I am reminded of Elijah after he is threatened by Jezebel in 1 Kings 19. As a result Elijah runs, yet the Lord restores him by refocusing him on his purpose as a prophet.

Simply we get distracted and detoured by pains and struggles. The problem is when we loose our purpose because of a pain, we get lost in the pain. When we get lost in the pain we go down the rabbit hole and the way out is to refocus on our purpose.

My friends, you may find yourself in the midst of pain or struggle, remember to hold on to the Lord as the anchor of your life, that you are not alone, and that you still have a purpose. You may be knocked down, but you are not knocked out.

Chasing your Lions

Here is an article I wrote for the local newspaper here in Asheboro, NC. You can find it over the next couple of days in the pastor’s column at http://courier-tribune.com/faith-worship.


I know I’m a little different, that is ok. One of the unusual things I personally do is at Christmas my attention moves to the cross and at Easter, you guessed it, my attention goes back to that first Christmas with the Christ child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Luke 2:8-11 states of the birth of Christ, “In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”

In this passage we are introduced to some shepherds and we have an angel who delivers a message that will forever change the course of humanity. When these shepherds saw this angel we are told that they were “terribly frightened”. Yet what I want us to notice is this simple message from the angel, “Do not be afraid.” I wonder how many of us are buffeted by fear? How many opportunities do we let slip by because of fear? Your fear may be that conversation you know you really need to have, yet your fear keeps you from engaging in that conversation. Your fear could be a situation or some type of circumstance that you see as your Goliath that is too big or impossible to overcome. In the end your fear keeps you from being a lion chaser, a conqueror, a giant slayer.

Some time ago I came across a manifesto of sorts from Mark Batterson in his book In the Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. In this manifesto he states, “Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Don’t let fear dictate your decisions. Take a flying leap of faith. Chase the lion!”

Paul tells us this same truth in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” We can enjoy the journey of life, we can set God-sized goals, we can blaze new trails. We can take that leap of faith because we have been given power and love and boldness, not fear. My friends, we are not called to fear and worry, but we are called to be lion chasers, conquerors, and giant slayers.

You ask, how do we overcome our fear? First, you overcome your fear through prayer. I truly believe that everything should begin and end on our knees in prayer. You need to seek the source of your strength, to give you boldness to overcome. Second, you need to trust in our Heavenly Father, because He wants the best for you. There is an insurance company that has the slogan, “You’re in good hands.” When it comes to your Heavenly Father, you are truly in good hands. Third, there comes a point where you have to take that step of faith. It may be uncomfortable, yet you have to make a move.

The question remains, what lion or giant is God calling you to chase?

Faith that Needs CPR: Part 1

I have been wondering what does a faith that is alive look like? To put it another way, what does a life that is radically connected to and worshiping King Jesus look like? As I have thought, the solution is simple, a life that is radically worshiping and connected to King Jesus is a faith that is action producing. In fact I would say that a life that is radically transformed by Christ must be action producing. Here is what I have discovered:

Faith + the outpouring of works because of faith = a living and vibrant faith

Faith – no outpouring of works = a dead faith, a faith that needs CPR

Now please hear me, I am not saying that one can be saved through simply being a good person or doing enough good things (works-based salvation). Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB) clearly says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” What I’m saying is that the natural result of our faith in Jesus is godly works or actions.

Over the next 3 post I will give three reasons that our faith in Jesus must be exemplified with actions.

What do you think? Is this discovery true or untrue? What stories have you seen whether good or bad when it comes to this issue?