What it Means to be "Woke"

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

In our American cultural vernacular many words once considered slang have come into common use. Many of these terms distill complex and varied meanings into a single word. Some of those words include: Salty, shade, props, ripoff, copacetic, grind, beef, geek, and many others.

There is another word in our cultural vernacular that describes a personal state of awareness and engagement on issues in our society: That word is "woke." 

In a society where many have become tone deaf, selfishly motivated, and walled off from the struggles and unique challenges of people, to be "woke" to their plight is a virtue.

Being aware of the plight of others for a brief period of time is not a characteristic of being woke. People who are woke are always aware of others and seek to bring both attention and help to people as "brothers and sisters" and not only within an ethnic context.

Below are my points of view on issues of concern. Your points of view may differ.

You are WOKE...

1. When you see the world as it is, both in its beauty and tragedy, not from an idealistic perspective.

2. When you recognize that the root cause of American racism is white supremacy* and do not avoid the issue by succumbing to feelings of guilt, fragility, or diverting attention from the issue by false equivalence.

4. When you understand that poverty is not a measure of personal immorality and wealth is not a measure of morality.

5. When serving God and others is one's focus, not hedonism.

6. When you understand that God does not follow us, but that we must follow Him.

7. When you are aware and not silent about the problems of gentrification, mass incarceration, attempts to disenfranchise voters, police brutality, disrespect of police, and other society-level injustices.

8. When you are aware of the benefits of your privilege and do not pretend that everyone has an equal opportunity or find fault with people who do not match your privilege-driven standards.

9. When you neither justify nor excuse abuse of authority on the part of people in authority.

10. When you do not consent to the marginalization of the professional free press.

11. When you recognize that public education is viewed by many as both a profitable enterprise and a means to fund private schools with public funds.

12. When you recognize the high value of human life from womb to tomb--not only in the womb.

13. When you know that some efforts to study and help the poor are not designed to help elevate them into the middle class, but keep them as a permanent underclass, which provides careers, funding and income for many people.

14. You understand that the 45th president of the United States is historically and demonstrably unfit for the office he holds, needing prayer and accountability.

15. When you recognize that selective support for Black people who manage other Black people is valued more than recognizing Black people as peers who are worthy of serving and leading all people.

16. When you understand that making multi-culturalism a standard, when African-Americans (as one American minority group among others) comprise only 13% of the population while White Americans comprise 65% of the population, that the majority population ends up in control of everything.

17. When you understand that African-American history and culture are foundational to American history and culture.

18. When you recognize that the Confederacy was a traitorous enterprise and its monuments to leaders of the Confederacy are an affront to American identity and unity.

19. When you know that many white folks are "woke" and have stood shoulder to shoulder with African Americans and against white supremacy.  On August 13, 2017 Heather Heyer died while protesting in Charlottesville, Virginia against the "Unite The Right" Neo-Nazi, KKK, and white supremacist rally. 

20. When you recognize that America is great because of our unity and diversity not because of single culture nationalism. "We The People" are E Pluribus Unum, meaning "Out of Many One."

*White supremacist definition: "A person who believes that white people are better than other people and should have control over others."


The Eclipse Declared The Glory of God…and His Care for You!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

On August 21, 2017, I traveled from Indianapolis to Nashville, Tennessee to experience the total eclipse. As a photographer and having a life-long interest in astronomy, it was a marvelous experience and a reminder of God’s favor on our lives!

This was, by far, the greatest thing I have ever seen in nature. 

Scattered clouds obscured the sun for parts of this celestial event. As the eclipse neared 100% a large cloud completely blocked our view. It looked like we were going to miss the best part of the eclipse. My heart sank and I considered going a couple of miles north of our location which was clear, but there was not enough time. Total eclipse was only five minutes away. I then decided to PRAY and ask God to open the clouds!

I’m not a big fan of selfish prayers and I’m always prepared for some things not to go my way, but I really wanted to see and photograph this total eclipse! I traveled 300 hundred miles to see it and brought my best photography equipment. I prayed, “Lord move these clouds in Jesus’ name.” Then I said, “Clouds move!”

With two minutes left before total eclipse, the clouds moved to reveal the sun in a clear portion of the sky. The people in a downtown grassy area in Nashville called Public Square let out a big cheer. I began taking photos while also looking up and around to experience the event with my eyes. In answer to prayer, and others in the area like prayed as well, the clouds parted to reveal the total eclipse. The sky turned darker, building and street lights came on, the hot 93 degree summer air cooled, the brighter stars became visible, the first “Diamond Ring” phenomenon appeared as the final bit of sunlight slipped behind the moon.

Then the magnificent solar corona appeared! This is the amazing sight that is only possible during a total eclipse. The corona is normally invisible because of the vastly greater brightness of the sun’s main disc. I could also see solar flares bursting from the surface of the sun within the corona. The crowd roared and I thanked God for the experience! I also reflected on August 21 as the day my dear mother passed 14 years earlier. I rejoiced in remembering how she taught me to appreciate nature’s beauty and God’s power.

Looking at the photos, I realized that the clouds provided the setting for capturing much more dramatic photographs than had the sky been clear. Sometimes our challenges, in the end, yield the best results! (Romans 8:28)

My photos of the “Diamond Ring” are among the best I have ever taken. Some of my friends remarked these were among the best photos of the eclipse they had seen. A second diamond ring phenomenon occurs as the moon moves away from covering the sun. Notice in the sequence of photos above that sun becomes “swallowed” by the clouds….but not before putting on the greatest show of light I have ever seen!

If the Lord can arrange such a thing as the moon, which is 400 times smaller than the sun, to appear to be the same size in our sky, perfectly mask our sun to allow the normally invisible solar corona to be seen, and reveal the incredible Diamond Ring effect, God can surely order our lives, empower us, and care for us through the grace provided by Jesus Christ!

To see the complete collection of photos, visit my Inspiration Images online gallery: http://inspirationimages.zenfolio.com/p728398346

Watch brief montage video of solar eclipse photos and video clips set to music from 2001: A Space Odessey


Is the Solar Eclipse a "Sign" of Impending Doom or Trouble?

Monday, August 21, 2017 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Let's be clear about something: The solar eclipse, like the lunar eclipse is not a supernatural event. It is natural and predictable, though it testifies to God's power, precision, and provision. Bible prophecies about the sun and moon turning "dark" are entirely something different because: 

1. The moon doesn't darken the sun. The darkness of a solar eclipse is the shadow of the moon. A "blood moon" color occurs when the moon is within the "penumbral" shadow of the earth (Google it). For a solar eclipse, unless you're in the 60 mile wide zone of totality, it never gets dark. If you're in the zone, it's only dark for a few minutes. 

2. Only a very small percentage of people in the world can see a solar eclipse when it happens.

3. During an eclipse event, the sun and moon are not both affected at the same time (as predicted in prophecy). Lunar and solar eclipses are always (obviously) separate events.

4. The whole eclipse event is temporary--you could take a nap and miss the whole thing. When God does something intended to be seen, you won't nap through it!

5. Jesus said that a wicked ("twisted") generation seeks signs (Matthew 12:39)

6. We know the exact time, location, and duration of every eclipse. God's miraculous work is not predictable.

7. We are not motivated by "fear and loathing" or looking for disasters. We are motivated by faith in God.

8. We got much bigger prophetic issues to be concerned about such as "wars, and rumors of wars," hatred, betrayal, ethnic conflicts with "nation against nation" ("nation" meaning "ethnos"), disease, natural disasters, etc. (Matthew 24:6-14)

9. When the sun and moon are somehow darkened in appearance AND STAY THAT WAY, then you should be concerned. Until then, don't be deep and heavy! Just ENJOY IT and worship God like David did: 

"I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works." (Psalm 145:5)


Should Every Church Congregation Be Racially Diverse?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Here is my response to the often cited concern that every local church should be racially diverse:

It's a good idea, but it is an idealistic and impractical notion. It is something which is not feasible for all congregations. 13% of our Black population cannot equally bear this burden with 65% of our White population. 

Jesus said, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more."  If racial diversity within congregations is the stated objective and if diversity is the standard by which churches will be measured, White believers should disperse into Black and Latino congregations. Presently, nearly all of the diversity is being accomplished by minorities attending majority congregations. 

For minority populations, congregational "diversity" (as it relates to reflecting the composition of the population, excluding tokenism) may equal diminishing influence, and ultimately cultural marginalization. Taken to its logical conclusion, white folks end up in charge of everything.

Segregation is something very specific in our history. When Dr. King spoke of it on "Sunday morning," he was talking about injustice. To use his quote today is out of context and disingenuous. Where you choose to worship and serve is not segregation.

Diversity in fellowship, partnership and service to our community is a practical idea from which everyone benefits.


Reflections on the Day Our Ministry Became Debt Free

Monday, August 14, 2017 Bryan Hudson 1 Comments

Today, I made the final mortgage payment on our church facility one year ahead of schedule! Today, New Covenant Church became a debt free ministry. 

This is obviously a great blessing, a result of the grace of God, and a testament to the faithfulness of our New Covenant Church family and the friends who support us. This day holds special significance for many other reasons because of the challenges and victories we have faced along the way. 

I reflect on 35 years of pastoral service and the present smaller size of our congregation, but I also see our significant impact and influence on other ministries, nations, and people who have been served, especially our precious church family, youth, and children. We have empowered hundreds of youth in media arts through 19 years of media camps and we provided an academic and spiritual foundation for hundreds of children during the 15 years we operated Willowbrook Academy preschool. Untold numbers of people have been born again through our various ministries. A great volume of Gospel and inspirational books, ebooks, blogs, and digital media have inspired and helped people around the world. The annual Christmas outreach founded by my late mother, Gaynell Hudson, continues to share the Gospel and help families for the past 26 years.

I reflect upon having been sent by the Lord half way around the world to Africa on five occasions to do missions work, strengthen pastors, and provide them with resources.

I am always careful to keep everything in proper perspective, recognizing that there are many great ministries in our city doing great, and greater, works than ourselves. We have been honored to have supported and inspired many of those ministries as friends and partners. In fact, I am very thankful that size is not the final measure of the effectiveness of a ministry!

I reflect on God as our unlimited Source who provides resources…sometimes in ways that defy comprehension.

I reflect upon hardships and victories during times of zoning denial, winning a lawsuit to overturn the negative zoning vote, expected and unexpected change, contraction of resources after a season of expansion, the economic crash of 2008 which affected a scheduled re-finance, and the departure of some church members for various reasons including job opportunities in different cities. 

I reflect upon the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (vv. 11-13)

I reflect upon Paul’s acknowledgement of the faithfulness of the faithful Philippian believers (whom I compare to our New Covenant Church believers), “Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ” (Phil 4:18-20)

I reflect upon our Vision for 2017, which we began with a declaration: “Debt Free, Worry Free, Free to be Empowered and Empower Others.”

I reflect upon my precious wife and partner of 38 years, Patricia Hudson, who has labored with me, worked in the ministry, been a public school educator for our whole marriage, and continues to inspire and care for me. I also thank God for our children, whom He has blessed in marvelous ways, and for our youngest son, Jonathan, who has been able to work with us in ministry. On a teachers' and pastors' income we were able to put four children through private school and college, by the grace of God!

I reflect upon my father, Horace Hudson, who is, by far, the greatest man I’ve ever known and who at 80 years of age continues to do amazing things for the Lord’s kingdom and for New Covenant Church. I remember my late mother Gaynell Hudson, who was a foundation and pillar in my life and ministry.

I reflect upon this Scripture for 2017, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Through it all, God has been faithful and His faithful people have been steadfast.

In light of all this, the best words I can find are...THANK YOU!