Years ago, Jimmy Stewart, the famous Hollywood actor of the 1940’s and 50’s, left all his memorabilia to a midwestern university that very few had ever heard of. As the treasures were being gifted, he was asked, why are you giving all this to this particular university. He was questioned if this was the university he had attended? He replied, no. Another queried, did your children attend here? Another no. After several questions, someone finally asked, please share what your reasoning was behind giving such an amazing gift to this university. His reply was shocking, he said, “I gave it to them because they asked me for it.” No allegiance. No compensation. No expectations. They had the faith, the confidence, the audacity to ask. Sometimes the greatest blessings, the answers we need, are just a prayer, a ask away. God gives everyone the invitation to ask. Throughout the Bible you can see God encouraging people to ask. James tells us, “you do not have because you do not ask (James 4:2). Jesus said, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives” (Luke 11:9-10). Paul tells the saints of Ephesus that God is able and ready “to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephes. 3: 11). The Bible is filled with scriptures imploring us to ask. I’m afraid we often fail to ask because we feel unworthy, we feel our failures eliminate us, or in pride we try to solve situations on our own. God sets in heaven with unlimited power, resources and is ready to step up and step in, but we never ask. Sometimes I fear we fail to ask because we see a God with limits. We see Him as Amazon or Wal-Mart. He has a limited quantity of the good stuff, the miraculous and the blessings, but once they are gone, given to someone else, well. . . too bad, you missed out. Other times we compare our situation to others, we feel guilty and hesitate to ask. We want to pray for financial blessings, for healings, for family issues to be resolved, but think about how blessed we are compared to others in the world, and we don’t ask. We reason, why should I ask for blessings when others are praying for a war to be over, like in the Ukraine. We consider a spouse or child praying for physical abuse to go away, or a Christian in China or the Middle East praying for torture to stop, and think, how selfish am I? How could I pray for something enjoyable when families in Africa are without water and starving. While those are crisis level issues and we should join together with them for deliverance, it does not impact God hearing and answering your prayer. Your prayers, request, and asking has no connection to someone else’s prayer being heard or answered, they are independent of each other. Why were some blinded eyes opened and some not, they asked. Why did some lame walk and others remained crippled, they asked. Why was the Roman Centurions daughter healed, he asked. People often ask why are you and Mary so committed to prayer. The answer is easy. God said ask. He said he would do exceedingly and abundantly above what we could ask for think, and He said we have not because we don’t ask. We take Him at His Word. Regardless of the situation. Regardless of pain. Regardless of our failures and shortcomings. Regardless of how many times He has said no or wait, we keep on asking. Every time I pray, I ask God to pour out His Spirit on my family, our community, and our country. Every time I pray, I ask God to heal my body and Mary’s. Every time I pray, I ask Him to bless us exceedingly and abundantly in every way. Every time I pray, I ask God to give me a covenant, a contract, that until the trumpets sounds, that every person, whether by birth or marriage into our lineage, that they will experience the book of Acts experience. I pray that they will have a passion to know Jesus, that they will love His Word, and that they will value prayer. I invite you into the atmosphere of asking. No applications. No requirements. Just ask!
As Mary and I close out the chapter as Pastors at Life Connections and enter into the next phase in our lives I felt it necessary for those we call friends to hear my heart and voice. Here are my thoughts as close a beautiful chapter and enter an exciting next phase of our lives. As you read, I simply want you to see the blessing of God that has been on our lives and invite you to take inventory of yours and see how blessed you are. Sometimes seeing blessings is just a matter of perspective.
1. Blessed to have Godly parents. Mom and dad, Milford and Alice Hudson, set the foundation that everything my life is built on. Julie Hudson Robinson, my amazing sister, and I owe everything we are to them.
2. Blessed to grow up and now live in Noblesville, Indiana. If you’ve ever wanted to live or go to Mayberry, you’ve got to come to Noblesville. It’s where I learned the value of common sense and how to live just being myself.
3. Blessed to set under amazing pastors. Pastor Nathaniel Urshan taught me how to minister with balance, pastor James Larson taught me to pray and then pray some more, pastor T.L. Craft taught me endurance, and pastor Paul Mooney taught me how to laugh and be creative.
4. Blessed to go to Jackson College of Ministries where I was impacted by Darrell Johns and Ron Cooper. It’s here I met my lifelong and best friend Robert Tisdale.
5. Blessed when Mary Odum Hudson kicked her shoes off in the Indy Hyatt and introduced herself to me. It would be the beginning of the greatest privilege in my life, to be her husband. To share life and more incredibly good times and laughter than a person could imagine is my greatest honor.
6. Blessed to have two amazing children, Gentry Hudson and Risa Hudson Fontaine and now a son in law Jake, and a grandchild, Carter. Gentry and Risa are not gold, they are the highest class diamonds, they have such incredible depth as Christians and are two of the finest people I know. Keep the truth and principles we have lived before you and taught you. Your future is bright!
7. Blessed to teach over 2000 students at Indiana Bible College. This will always be something we will point to as highlight of our ministry. To be trusted as a young couple to impact students in a powerful way, to see moves of God in their lives in my classes, and then watch as they grow into incredible ministers is one of my greatest treasures. You will always be family, not just students.
8. Blessed to start Life Connections, a Spirit filled and led church that didn’t have all the walls of religion and didn’t shun hurting people who loved God. We didn’t require all the religious entanglements, but we did teach the gospel, the power of prayer, and the value of being authentic. It has been an incredible journey. We’ve had over 2000 people pass through our doors in our 20 years. Life Connections was always a hospital. Many people came hurt, were healed, and then moved on to do greater things. To those who have stayed, I would say I got to pastor some of the most amazing people in the world, it is a privilege, not only to be your pastor, but be your friend. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.
9. Blessed to go through some incredibly difficult and dark times. We’ve faced personal attacks, attacks on our character and integrity, cancer, diabetes, sickness, and emotional darkness and stood strong and came through without bitterness by the grace of God. Without these challenges we would not have been able to minister to people with faith, grace, mercy, and unconditional love. As Paul said, we glory in our weakness and infirmities, they made us who we are.
10. Blessed to see Life Connections transition to Pastor’s Phil and Annie Daigle. We see an amazing and incredible future for you all. Stay on your knees in prayer, build altars, keep the faith and truth, and stay authentic, there is no ceiling on the future if you do. We’re blessed to call you all our pastors.
11. Finally. We are blessed as we step into the future. While we don’t know where it leads or what it looks like, because of the blessings you just read about over the last 30 years, we are certain that it will be blessed and favored. Our life and ministry has not been built on titles, positions, or positioning, but on being humble and willing servants and seeing the Kingdom advance regardless of the struggle, pain, and hurt. We know we have purpose and we know some of our greatest adventures lie ahead. We love you all and look forward to sharing the future together.
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving it should be easy to reflect on God’s goodness and give thanks. Though our country is in a difficult season, we’re still fortunate to live with countless freedoms and blessings. While it may not be your dream home, you woke up in a bed and looked up to see a roof over your head. As a chill begins to fill the air, we kick on furnaces, add blankets to beds and grab coats before we leave our homes. Today, we might ask, what do you want to eat or how can I lose weight, but probably not, I wonder if there will be food for me today. If you’re reading this devotion, it means you have your sight and you’re holding it in your hand, either physically or on an electronic device. Much of the third world walks to destinations, while we jump into vehicles and travel in luxury. Consider the blessings we have if we have health, family, and friends. Beyond the material and relational blessings, there is more. King David, who lived a blessed life, reflected on God’s goodness in Psalm 136. He doesn’t mention material or relational favor, but reflects on one blessing, “that God’s mercy endures forever.” In fact, so overwhelmed by God’s mercy, he repeats the phrase, “his mercy endures forever,” 26 times. I too say, thanks God, for your mercy. Beyond the physical blessings, wonderful family, and good friends, I’m grateful for God’s overextending mercy. Mercy to robe himself in flesh and give His life for me, grace that extends beyond my continual shortcomings, and love that is unfailing and infinite. As we gather this Thanksgiving, remember to give thanks that you know a merciful, gracious, and loving God.
Evidently God likes to celebrate. We don’t get too far into the Bible before God gives Moses his Law. While much attention is put on the negative elements of the Law, there was also some good aspects. That includes the Feast, or celebrations, that God called for each year. The major purpose of these Feast was to remember and give thanks to God for all He had done, and to bring people together. The Passover Feast was to remember and celebrate God bringing people out of bondage, and the Feast of Pentecost was to remind them to celebrate God’s holiness and power. But it’s the third Feast, the Feast of Booths, that I draw your attention to. This celebration took place in the fall and was a time of giving thanks for a good harvest, recognizing God as their provider, and celebrating the goodness of life. People basically camped out, ate good food, listened to music, and partied for seven days. It was open, not only to the people of Israel, but to all people who trusted in God. It was a festival where God wanted people to enjoy His blessings. I love that! Too often we lose focus on the goodness of God and great blessings of life. We allow social media and doomsday broadcasters to control our emotions and thoughts. We forget to look around at all the good, the good people God has put in our lives, and the blessings that we do enjoy. Today, our Chili Cook-Off is our Feast of Booths. It’s a moment to celebrate life, to celebrate the friendships we have, and to make new memories. It’s a time to reminisce, laugh and make new friends. So today, eat more chili than you should, trash talk more than you can live up to and make your circle bigger than normal. Celebrate life with your Life Community and remember, the best is yet to come!