“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!  It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!  It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.  For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” ~ Psalm 133

I have always been a guy who was passionate about unity.  Maybe it’s some dysfunction from my middle child syndrome.  I’m not sure, but it has always been a deep conviction for me.  Maybe its because I’m an enneagram 2, and we hold on to our friendships from Kindergarten with dear life.  Again, I’m not sure, but it has always been a deep conviction for me.  I think it is because I grew up in the Stone Campbell Restoration Movement, which at its core, is a unity movement.  Of all of my core convictions, UNITY may be my strongest dogma!  Dogma is known to separate believers, but what would happen if our strongest conviction as Christ followers, was UNITY?

Paul wrote, I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” ~ Ephesians 4:1-3

Notice, unity isn’t commanded, it is assumed as if it is the D.N.A. of believers.  It is expected as if it is at the core of Christian convictions.  It is as if unity is the nature of one who has been touched by the Holy Spirit.  There is something stronger than commands in the Bible, there are divine assumptions.  For instance, Jesus says in the sermon on the Mount, “And when you pray.”  He doesn’t ask them to pray, praying for the Christian is like breathing to a human.  We can learn to be better at breathing, but breathing is what humans do.  I believe the same to be true of unity.  This is why Joni Eareckson Tada  says, “Believers are never told to become one; we already are one and are expected to act like it.” 

Paul highlights the nature of our unity and the correct disposition for unity.   We are eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit, which is the same as saying, we are passionate to keep the Spirit’s unity!  We could say welcome to the house of God, or interchangeably, we could say welcome to God’s house.  This literally means that the Holy Spirit is the possessor, or more strongly stated, the owner of unity.  Unity is the prized possession of the Holy Spirit.  Meaning, we have no right to steal from God, that which never belonged to anyone of us.  Unity is God’s.  Dr. Doug Foster says, “Unity is already in existence, we do not create it.”  It not only exists, it belongs to God.  Tampering with it, is burglarizing the bond of peace.  In all of our convictions, unity must be one our core convictions, a dogma even!

Edmund Burke stated, “Whatever disunites man from God, also disunites man from man.”  If we disunite from God, we walk in disunity with man, and if we disunite with man, we trouble the unity we have in Christ.   J.C. Ryle says,“Unity without the gospel is a worthless unity; it is the very unity of hell.” I include his words to highlight that I do not speak of a unity without divinity, neither do I speak of a unity without doctrine. 

So, let me say it plainly, we do not have a right to walk in disunity.  Disunity is not merely sin, it is a sin against the DNA of who we have been created to be in Christ.  We, the body of Christ, reflect not only the unity of being in Christ, but the triune unity of the Godhead.   

This is not only theological for me, it is also sentimental.  For the next few moments I’m going to get personal.  I’m going to use my journey and Christian tribe to speak my experience.  My roots run through two of the three major streams of what’s known as the Stone Campbell Restoration Movement.  I adore this unity movement!  I love this beloved body of believers.  Yes,t is personal for me that all Christians are ONE, but  for the sake of authenticity, I’ll focus on the one I grew up in. 

As a kid, I didn’t know the names, Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell, but I am now grateful for them both.  I grew up running the halls in the non-instrumental Churches of Christ.  I not only grew up singing a cappella songs of worship, I also served as an Associate Minister for seven years at the Metropolitan Church of Christ.  My brother, Fate Hagood, continues to serve as the Lead Minister there.  If that is not enough Church of Christ love for you, I have traveled the country raising money for Southwestern Christian College, a Church of Christ school, where I received my first college degree.

My roots don’t end there!  I currently serve as the Lead Pastor at University Christian Church.  In the recent past, I have served in supportive pastoral roles at Independent Christian Churches such as Shepherd Church, and Discovery Church as well as others.   I have two degrees from Hope International University which is an Independent Christian Church school.  One of the most rewarding things that I get to do, is to go back to my alma mater, and speak to 100’s of kids at Hope International University for Chapel services.  Is that enough Independent Christian Church love for you?  I told you, I adore our unity movement!  This is not only theological, this is sentimental for me.

I want you to know the depth of my roots within our beloved family of churches and the deep places of my heart which yearn for the essence of who we are.  We are a unity movement!  We are founded on the oneness of the Church, reflecting the triune unity of God within the ONE body of Christ! 

I now speak to you as one of two brothers, who both pastor churches from different streams of one movement.  The irony of that is palpable.  Let me be clear, it is not the streams that separate us, It is the fish who refuse to swim against the current of division to walk in unity with each other.  The pursuit of unity is one of the main reasons our movement exists.  Yet, Fate and I have both experienced the pain and stress of division within our movement, and I will assume that you have as well.  If you haven’t, maybe it is because you refuse to swim against the current in order to return to the source of our streams. 

Certainly, this season of aggressive bipartisanship and racial division, pulls the rug out from under the feet of our glossed over divisions.  If you, like me, are a true “Restorationist,” division tugs at your convictions violently.  I’m unaware of how you react to John 17:20-23, but the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ absolutely wrecks me!  It says;

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be ONE, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be ONE even as we are ONE, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly ONE, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

As I highlight just four verses from this divine prayer, our souls know that the objects of division Jesus cries out to God about, is us!  He’s like a Dad on his knees praying to God for his children who are missing.  Yet Jesus is praying to His Father for his little brothers, and sisters.  Jesus is praying due to oxymoronic Christian divisiveness.  I can’t help but wonder if Jesus had 2020 in mind as He prayed.  Dr. Martin Luther King said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”  I write to us today with love that we might be ONE in Christ, that we might fully live, and not be fools.

Considering my own story, as a product of distinct streams of our unity movement, I have experienced the stress of being shunned based on secondary theological convictions.  Although one of our earliest mottos was, “We are Christians only, but not the only Christians.”  I know what it feels like to be looked on as less than or even not a Christian based on debatable Christian doctrines.  Yet I hold to, of all of my Christian convictions, unity must be one of my core convictions.

Continuing to speak personally, as an African American, I have experienced the trauma of racial tension, within the Restoration Movement.  I know what it feels like for my God given ethnicity to be a minimizer of my competency.  I share the same story as other pastors of color who had to wade through the discussion of if a church was “ready” for a Black pastor.  Yet, with these disparities in experience, of all of my convictions, unity must be one of my core convictions.

Jesus prayed for our oneness even though He is fully aware of the mosaic of our humanity.  Distinctiveness is not divisiveness.  Color blindness is a myth.  Rather, we require vivid cultural awareness to better view the canvas of God’s fully expressed creativity.  Distinctiveness is the full expression of the beauty of the image of God.  Yet, distinctions have often lead us toward divisions.  

Theology has been a reason to divide.  Yet, theology must be our primary reason for uniting.  Regardless of political, cultural or theological distinctions, true followers of Christ are eager to maintain unity!  That is the reason I haven’t given up on ALL of us.  I don’t have a right to steal from God what never belonged to me.  UNITY is not mine to put down.  Unity is a core doctrinal distinction of our Christian faith.  It is partially what it means to be a “Restorationist.”   

Don’t forget the words I previously shared from J.C. Ryle.  I am not preaching a flimsy unity that disregards the gospel.  Yes, convictions are necessary.  Yes, convictions must be stood on.  Yet, whatever those convictions are, UNITY MUST BE ONE OF THEM.  Unity is not about some of us.  Unity is about ALL of us.  Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

The post “UNITY AS A CORE CONVICTION” appeared first in the December edition of the Christian Standard

Let It Do Its Work: Faith Has Its Own Goal

What if I told you that FAITH, has its own goal?  James, the brother of Jesus has this curious idea about faith, he says, we have to LET IT do its work.  There is a war going on within us.  It is a war between what we want, and what our faith wants.  That’s why James says, Let it do its work.

What we want, gets in the way of what our faith wants.  It’s things like convenience that war against our faith.  It’s things like “What we’ve always been used to,” that war against our faith.  It’s things like the good life that war against our faith.  Because those are the things that we want. But faith has its own goal.

Let me make an admission, it is people like me, pastors and teachers who have reinforced these ideas of the good life, when we are supposed to call you into, as Paul calls it, the good warfare.  How have we done this?  We have called you to the Savior, that’s GREAT, but we haven’t called you to the STRUGGLE.  Philippians 1:29 reads, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”  TODAY, I want to invite us into the blessed struggle. James 1:1-12 begins, 

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

If you have read the book of Acts.  This letter is written regarding the scene of Acts 8 which begins at Acts 6.  It includes the persecution of Stephen.  At this time Nero was literally burning Christians alive on poles and feeding them alive to lions.  By the time we get to chapter 8, Saul is included in the persecution of the Christians.  This is the situation in which they were called to “count it all joy.”  Acts 8:4 states, Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”  The persecution did not minimize the mission!

Although God’s people were scattered, they were not lost.  God had a messenger to deliver to them this message.  My brothers and sisters, this global pandemic, this economic crisis, and the racial division may be making you feel scattered as well, let me assure you Child of God, you are not lost.  God knows exactly where we are and He has a message for us too.  That message is found here in verse 3.

3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Brothers and sisters, God’s desire is not to make us HAPPY, God’s desire is to make us HOLY.  God gives us this gift of faith, but faith has a purpose, and we have to let that gift do its work.  My prayer is that you will vacate this message with… 

  1. Two things to do (Count & Ask) and;
  2. Two things to be (Tested & Blessed).

The first thing for us to do, is to count.

2 Count it all JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

This initial encouragement is cognitive.  It means to calculate, to reckon, it means to think about trials in God’s way, rather than to think about trials in our own more natural way.  Through James, God is offering us the mind of Christ!  THIS IS THE KIND OF MIND THAT WOULD LEAVE HEAVEN AND COME TO EARTH.  In other words, prior to holy speaking, and prior to holy acting, we must first have holy thinking.  The primary obstacle to holiness is our minds.  Or as the older sisters in the church used to say, “its that stinking thinking baby.”  WE DON’T COUNT IT ALL JOY, we go on Facebook and Instagram where we complain and grumble.  Our tests today don’t seem to produce growth, they usually produce groaning and complaining which actually minimizes our maturity.  We’ve got to change our thinking CHURCH, Trials are not to be seen as troubles, but as tests.  The purpose of a test is to see if a student can pass, and let me say it in the voice of the older ladies at church, the test is not to make you feint baby. 

Child of God you’re gonna be ok.  The Global Pandemic is a test for growth.  The Economic Crisis is a test for growth.  The Racial Division is a test for growth.  This is not just for us individually but for the church collectively.  Maybe you’re thinking, Rudy, I see what you’re saying but I… I just don’t think like that.  That’s why there is a 2nd thing we need to do.

The second thing for us to do is to ask.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ASK God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ASK in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  

9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

James uses two illustrations to get us to understand how to ask.  We ask without doubting, and we ask from the reality of our situation.  This is not the wisdom to get activities done.  This is the wisdom to let faith do her work.  To receive this kind of wisdom, the child of God must be prudent in the asking.  First, we must ask from what faith wants, not from what we want.  Doubting, in this context, is when what we want disagrees with what faith wants.  Doubt (diakrinomenos), in this context means wavering and vacillating.  We dare not come to God being tossed side to side like a wave of the sea, or thrown up and down being blown and tossed by the wind.  Our God finds no joy with thedouble-minded (dipsychos)  which literally means two souled in this passage.  That person is unstable in all he/she does, he/she is like a spiritual staggering drunk.

One soul wants to make you happy, the other wants to make you holy

Second, we must ask from the reality of our current situation.  Poor & Rich represent the current and actual reality of those who have been scattered.  James is not saying the poor should desire to remain poor or that the rich should desire to give up being rich.  He is saying each situation creates the posture of prayer (asking).  By the way, if you look in the closet and you have 20 shirts and you say, “I have nothing to wear,”  you are the rich in this scenario.   The poor should post because his/her situation in life is a constant trial from which God is using to create growth.  From that place one should pray.  The rich should boast in their humiliation because they must push away from, or humiliate themselves by creating situations from which to struggle.  They must be generous, walk away from constant convenience and learn to depend on God.  The best situations are not always what’s best for us.  The easy life creates flowers that wither away.  God’s trying to create silver that lasts forever.

The first thing we have to be is tested.

3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Testing is what silversmiths would do to purify silver.  The word James uses was common amongst the profession.   They would ignite the fire and at a certain temperature, the impurities would rise to the top.  The worker would look at the silver and say the silver is not ready.  So they would initiate the process again.  If the silver was ready this time, they would initiate the process again.  On the third time, if the silversmith could see his reflection, then they would know it was ready.  God takes a similar process with trials for us, His children.  He places us in the fire.  He looks and says, we’re not ready.  He turns up the heat, He looks and says we’re not ready.  Then on that third go around, He looks and sees the image of God!  Now He knows that we are ready! Tested became simultaneous for proven!  The Silversmith would know it was pure, when he could see his own reflection in the silver, in a similar God uses this process for us.  God doesn’t want the low goal of making us happy, God wants to make us holy.

The second thing we want to be is blessed.

James uses the beattitudinal structure of, happy is he in verse 12.  He’s making a play on this word happy to get you where God wants you to be, which is holy.  Let me say it this way, If you get the test, you get the blessed.  I know this isn’t good English, but it’s good preaching!  Blessed comes from the test.  Now you see why we can count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds?!  Blessed is not the comfortable life.  Blessed is not the convenient life.  Blessed is not the easy life.  Blessed is the Holy life!   We just gotta let it!  Let It Do Its Work!  Faith has its own goal!

Let me calm down.  There is a war going on within us.  It is a war between what we want, and what our faith wants.  That’s why James says, Let it do its work.  God’s desire is not to make us HAPPY, God’s desire is to make us HOLY.  Oh and by the way, Holy people are usually happier people too.  Because faith is ALWAYS fruitful.

Well, If you let it…

The post “Let It Do Its Work” appeared first in the December edition of the Christian Standard

PEDDLE ON HOPE GIVER – by guest blogger Fate Hagood

Bridge builders are concerned with building. Building to perfection. Building with purpose. Building with precision. They build bridges to get to the other side. They are destination obsessed. So they build. They are so gap averse that the very existence of the nothingness that separates the place “here” from the place “there” is anathema to their souls. They become consumed with bringing together heretofore-divided places and peoples and opportunities. They are peddlers of hope! 

Of a hope that cannot be realized without a coming together of two sides.

Of a hope that transcends the nothingness of the demonic chasm which separates side from side and person from person and nation from nation and race from race and man from woman and clappers from meditators and blue colors from white collars and democrats from republicans and liberals from conservatives and progressives from traditionalists and even Starbucks from Coffee Bean!

Fate Hagood, Lead Pastor, Metropolitan Church of Christ

Of a hope that says whatever stands between us is only real because of the myths we believe in order to assuage our impoverished prejudices and because of the lies we romance and massage because of our uncomfortableness with the fact that our  presuppositions are only alive because we are more comfortable believing we are better off divided than we are unified.

So I say, peddle on hope givers;

  • Be like Abraham in Romans 4:18, In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
  • Be encouraged like Paul who said in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
  • Be like Peter in 1Pet. 3:15, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
  • Consider the hope that is in you, “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  

So here we stand as one peddlers of hope and bridge builders.  Here we stand believing in the hope that is in Jesus Christ!  Let us then build to perfection. Let us build with purpose. Let us build with precision.  Let us build bridges to get to the other side.  For yes, we ARE destination obsessed. We will build, and we will build BRIDGES…  TOGETHER…  The other side, well its just on the other side. 

The post “Peddle On Hope Giver” appeared first on rudyhagood.com


Psst, hey, yeah you! I, uhm, have an invitation for you. Well, here it is, are you ready, I want you to… be a bridge. Yes, I am asking you to get walked on. Yup, that’s my request. I know right?! My hope is that you will be more inspired to assist people in getting to their NEXT, than you are in getting credit for assisting them to achieve it. Get walked on my friend. That’s THE reason I launched this website (rudyhagood.com). More personally, this site is to honor the people who were “bridges” in my life, or who created “crossings” for me to get to my NEXT. Jesus Christ the ONE who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” is my eternal bridge maker. I feel a need to honor each person that has created a “crossing” during my journey. For these reasons, even though it means getting walked on, I hold on with dear life to being a bridge in the life of others while encouraging people to be bridges themselves.

Bridges are people who get walked on without notice, and without charging a fee (those people are Toll Bridges).  😂 I’m just saying.  Yes,  you will be taken advantage of, you will go unmentioned. Often, people will never even realize that you were a bridge in their life.  That’s because bridges have one concern, getting others to the other side! 

Bridges allow for and promote fluid community. They provide the access for transportation where a chasm hindered access before. Bridges, although they are essential to a city, they regularly go unnoticed. Yet the destination would not be likely, or for some situations, even possible without them.

I want this site to create the connecting interaction of people with ideas. For ideas are transcendent! Ideas allow us to bridge today’s reality with tomorrow’s dreams. The dreamer in me hopes to inspire a MOVEMENT toward spiritual formation. I dream about connecting communities to the other that is our one another. I see a multiplication effect as we grow. With each “crossing”, we improve our ability for the next “crossing” while improving our overall journey’s experience. In the process, I hope to grow with you as we cross from bridge to bridge together.

Simplistically, the heart behind this is not only to be and build bridges, but to navigate which ones to travel and to discern which ones to avoid.  David Russell once said, “The hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn.”  Both being bridges, and crossing bridges, require divine discernment.

Thus my purest hope is that the sharing of thoughts will create concept crossings by:

  • Confronting our concepts of people;
  • Confronting people with concepts;
  • Connecting people with ideas and;
  • Connecting ideas with people.

Ultimately, I desire to be a bridge, and to be a bridge builder while heeding the prior shared warning from David Russell. This means I’m concerned with the personal growth of each one of us, which for me, growth is ALWAYS spiritual. I believe we are wise to monitor our life goals and achievements, for they can be proofs that we have crossed over, or places where we crossed under. Achievements can be benchmarks of our personal/spiritual growth, or unwanted proofs of our demise.

The sad truth is, we often exist away from the promise, the place/experience God was directing us toward.  So our journeys are often absent of this fulfillment.  We tend to tread troubled waters on our way.  We exist somewhere below the full life.  Our God calls us to more.  Jesus, the bridge over troubled waters, lifts us up and connects us to God.  In Him is the abundant life, the full life.  He is the bridge to everything that isn’t temporary.  My hope is for all to live to the full, according to the promises.   “By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).  One step at a time, or maybe, one bridge at a time, we can all have the abundant life.  We can get there.    Thus my own hearts battle cry, “for the love of God Rudy, be a bridge.”

Here are 3 ways to interact with this site;

  1. Share stories of people who you know are bridge builders by clicking on “BRIDGE BUILDERS” on the menu bar.
  2. Read blogs by scrolling down and clicking on your BLOG of choice under the “RECENT POSTS” heading or by clicking “ARCHIVES” on the menu bar..
  3. Follow “Be A Bridge” by scrolling down to the bottom of this page, entering your email address and  pressing “follow.”

Let us use every opportunity in this life to be bridges, and to navigate the divine crossings in our paths. What say you?! Will you be a BRIDGE?

The post “Get Walked On – Be A Bridge” appeared first on rudyhagood.com

Abandoned to be Reclaimed: The Darkness, The Dream, & The Destiny

I haven’t written a blog in a long time.  Well, it’s because I’m having a bit of a “Jonah” moment.  In order to understand what I mean, please read the next sentence as it is punctuated.  A “Jonah” moment is when you know God’s will for your life and rather than obey God’s will you would rather swim in the stomach acid of a whale or fish or whatever kind of beast could swallow a man whole and spit him out like acid reflux or something like that you know what I’m saying?!  Please perceive that run on sentence as me running away from the issue.  Yeah, now you get it, a “Jonah” moment!  I didn’t want to write this blog.  I don’t want to write this blog.  I don’t want to deal with this reality but God won’t let me write anything else until I finish writing this doggone blog!  Here it is, you ready, I have abandonment issues.  There, I said it!

I think the most famous Bible story on abandonment is Joseph and His brothers.  This dude was basically the baby of the bunch and filled with hope.  I mean, of course he was!  He was gifted by God with dreams and visions.   Life was good.  He was favored by his father.  Life was good.  So much so, he was given a coat that was the envy of all his brothers.  Again, life was good.  Then, without warning, his brothers threw him in a ditch and left him to die.  Well, they thought better of it and just sold him into slavery.  Wow, here’s our first nugget, some people will feel good about themselves at your expense.  Why, because their heart turned away from murdering you, to just enslaving you.   You should be grateful.  Right?  Matter of fact, the brothers went on with life as if nothing had happened, like they hadn’t just thrown their brother into a ditch!  Genesis 37:25 reads,As they sat down to eat their meal.”  They sat to eat like it was a normal meal.  They weren’t troubled and distraught so that they couldn’t eat.  No on the contrary, they were more like, “can I get my Double Double animal style please?  OK, thank you!”

I’m sorry, I digress.  At some point, some of the worse words that many of us will speak, will be, “Where did everybody go?”  Joseph had to be asking this question.  Wouldn’t you?  We have all been in the ditch, the ditch of abandonment.  You’ve been there, It’s that place where you realize, “together,” didn’t include you.  Hey, you can substitute whatever word fits better, (crew, partnership, friendship, family) but it remains the same.  When that word, no longer includes you, you are at a crossroads of faith and thrust into reality.  Pablo Neruda says, “Absence is a house so vast that inside you will pass through its walls and hang pictures on the air.”  Hmph, nibble on that for a second.

The thing about abandonment is that it knows no faults.  It doesn’t care if its your fault, their fault, or nobody’s fault.  It leaves you in the darkness needing a hand to pull you to the light regardless of faults.  Tayari Jones said, “Abandonment doesn’t have the sharp but dissipating sting of a slap. It’s like a punch to the gut, bruising your skin and driving the precious air from your body.”  Then, Gregory L. Winfield wrote, “Our natural parents make mistakes. But how do we reconcile our feelings of abandonment when tragedy occurs at the hands of a God who does not make mistakes?”  All who have experienced the darkness know these feelings and are acquainted with these questions but what can you do?

First, let’s look to the Psalms.  Psalms 34:18 reminds us, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  At all times, and especially in these times, the only rail you have to grab is this one, TRUST in the LORD.  He is near and He saves.  When you finally escape the ditch, it won’t be your fam or your peoples, but the hand of the Lord that pulls you out.  It’s like Psalms 27:10 reveals, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.  You are not at the mercy of fate my friend, you are in the hands of a loving and living God!

Finally, as A.W. Tozer wrote, “It is doubtful, that God will ever use us greatly until we have been hurt deeply.”  So, the next time you’re walking around dreaming with your coat of many colors envisioning the world as it should be, as it could be, remember this.   Your destiny will often be found at the end of a journey of dashed dreams, stolen coats, deep ditches, and restricted living.  That’s a joyous thought huh?  Well actually, it is, once you realize that these things are necessary for the fruition of the promise of the original dream!  Don’t give in, don’t give up, and don’t shun the darkness of the ditch.   Alistair Begg says, “In shunning the trials we miss the blessings, and we don’t have the tender eyes that comes from nights of tears.” Never forget the end of Joseph’s story.  Never forget Genesis 50:24.  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  The dream will be dug out from the ditch.  God reclaims that which has been discarded!  Yes, you were abandoned, but not for the reasons you think.  You were abandoned to perfect a dream, that becomes a vision, that matures into destiny, that saves many lives.  You were abandoned to be reclaimed!

OH, and oh yeah, Be A Bridge!

This blog originally appeared on rudyhagood.com


Lay Down And Sleep: Faith All Grown Up Is Trust

If one were to walk into the Hagood home at approximately 9:45P, they would walk into a repeating and familiar Hagood conversation.  Many a night, my wife has said to me, “you just lay down and sleep!”  She speaks it as if this is a bad thing, as if I had done something dastardly to her.  In the deep recesses of my mind I’m thinking, “Go to sleep woman!”  What I actually say is, “Aww baby, you can’t sleep??!”  Ha!  Don’t tell her what I’ve been thinking all these years.  You will blow my cover.  Anyway, the real issue is, she can’t just lay down and sleep.  It just doesn’t work that way for her.  At least not in such simple terms.  My wife, she has to make sure that everything is done.  She then has to sit up and watch television with her legs crossed.  She also works on her continual and multiple research projects.  She often finds herself up until early morning hours while her husband simply, lays down, and sleeps.

Psalms 3 finds David surrounded.  If you don’t know the Psalm, this would be a great time to stop and read it.  Go ahead, I’ll wait (picture me whistling and waiting).  OK, you’re back.  Alright, so in Psalm 3, he has been driven from the palace.  He is in a situation that would steal the hearts of men.  His enemies (led by his own son), taunt him with shouts that his God would not deliver him!  David’s reaction to the taunting, to the dire circumstances, and to the hopeless odds, well, sleep.  David, lays down and sleeps.  It’s an amazing movie screen warranting scene and David, the great Hebrew hero responds to his overwhelming circumstance, well, with sleep.  The obvious quandary is how, how was he able to just lay down and sleep?  Here it comes, you ready, David knew God’s character.  He trusted God.  Adam LiVecchi stated, “Faith all grown up is trust.”  That’s it!  David slept because he was aware of God’s protection, because he knew God’s power and because he trusted God.

David experienced the character of God through His certain protection.  This is why he refers to God as a “shield.”  David uses this descriptor of God again and again.  The Lord is my shield!  The character of God as a protector not only meant imminent safety from his enemies.  It also meant restoration of his dignity.  Remember he’s, basically, well, in this moment, a dethroned king/deadbeat dad/wimp wannabe warrior/has been.  David’s view of God’s character allowed him to maintain his composure in the midst of a very current chaotic mess.  In this moment David says, “God is the lifter of my head” David trusts!  God not only kept the enemies out as he lay asleep, God was actively restoring the dignity of his sleeping servant.

Ultimately, David was intimately aware of God’s power.  Though his enemies were powerful, God is omnipotent, his enemies were outmatched.  Though he was surrounded, God is omnipresent, his enemies were outflanked.  Though his enemies were confident, God is omniscient, his enemies were outwitted.  David knew the power of God.  So, in the midst of what appears like unenviable odds he states, “For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.”  He speaks it with the security of one possessing a squad that includes Mike Tyson, Bruce Lee, Thor and Big Mama (hey, nobody can whoop grandma).  He speaks with the confidence of one who has seen this in the past.  He speaks as one who knows the boundless power of God!  Well, cause he has.  So David, lays down and sleeps.

Here’s what Psalms 3 reveals to us.  1) One can seemingly have it all (rich, smart, famous and powerful) and still have intense troubles.  2) One can be the most loving of parents, and still can have the worse family situations.  3) One can be popular and powerful and still have troubles that steal their joy.  4) One can repent, be gravely sorry, and yet still have to go through the discipline of the Father.  And 5), Even in all of this, God will strike all of your enemies on the cheek; and He will break the teeth of the wicked.  We can all lay down and sleep.

I wish I could say I lay down and sleep at night because I’m more spiritual than my wife.  Ha!  That would be a lie, for she is definitely our spiritual rock.  Yet, the Hagood home’s perpetual bedtime conversation does depict a picture of trusting God regardless of odds and human paradigms.  It’s an image of the message in Psalms 3.  Beloved, we have less to do than we think.  We have nothing to stay awake and keep guard of.  We have no last minute arrangements to make.   Very little of anything is based on our power.  We simply can lay down and sleep, because we know the protection and the power of God.  Again, “Faith all grown up is trust.”  This is why, even when surrounded, in the midst of what appeared like a white flag moment to David’s enemies, God turned the tables.  David did wave the white flag.  He just didn’t wave it towards his enemies, he waved it towards God.  In surrender, sweet surrender, David gained victory.  So yes, we need to wave our white flags.  We need to throw our hands up.   Because, “you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head”  Trust God my friends, lay down, and sleep.  And oh yeah, be a bridge!

3 Things You Already Know About Trust But Need To Hear Again

Even with God, TRUST is a two way street


  1. Do what God says (He’s reliable).
    1. Participate in His integrity
    2. Be okay with His results
  2. Be honest with God (He’s already honest with you).
    1. Do the work it takes to avoid lying to yourself.
    2. Make honest assessments of your “why” and your “how.”
  3. Be open with God (He already knows anyway).
    1. If you are scared, jealous, envious, selfish, or whatever, say so
    2. Take the time to confess every detail


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Overworked, Overstressed, And Underblessed: Being Like God Is Knowing When To Stop

Hey, are you feeling like you’re at your end?  Sometimes, is it all too much?  I know I feel it; overworked, overstressed and definitely underblessed.  See, I hear you wigging out already.  No, underblessed is not an english word!  I know that, but I bet somebody knows what I’m talking about.  Forget all you grammar nazis anyway!  Look, I’m just saying, sometimes it’s all too much.  Isn’t it?  I propose that the reason we get to our end is because we forget how we began.  The answer has always been there from the beginning, from creation.

The most amazing event of the creation account is the seventh day.  God, systematically created the earth and all that mankind needed in order to sustain life.  God worked!  God also created man and woman and did it all in six days.  Now that’s hard work!  God does not sleep, nor does He slumber.  God works!!!  Yet, the seventh day, yes the blessed seventh day, God rested.

Many of us who practice the Judeo-Christian faith look at the 6th day as the climax of the creation account and I’m not necessarily arguing against that assessment.  Yet, the unintended result of that thinking is an under appreciation for the seventh day.  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The beginning initiates with God working.  Yet, on day seven, God, in all His holy creativeness created rest.  According to Matthew Sleeth, “God doesn’t need to rest after creating the universe because he’s tired.  He rests because he is holy, and everything that God does is holy.  God rests.  God is holy.  Therefore, rest is holy.  It’s simple math.”  As the creation story unfolds, we don’t experience rest until God creates it, participates in it and passes it on to us as a part of the character and image of God.  Again, God not only rested, he created rest, and a holy rest it is.

Sabbath, at its root means to cease, to stop, or to be absent.  Practically, there are two ways to participate in the Sabbath.  You are to rest unto the Lord and you are to celebrate the divinity of the Lord seen in creation.  The rest must be unto the Lord and the celebration must be unto the Lord.  Yet Sabbath itself is not rest, nor is it celebration, it is cessation.  It is an end to things.  In God’s context, Sabbath is a break from creation.  In our context it’s an end to our lives of business and work.  According to Walter Brueggemann, “Sabbath becomes a decisive, concrete, visible way of opting for and aligning with the God of rest.”  It’s a time of total and undivided devotion to the Lord.  It’s an imitation of the Father.  Matthew Sleeth words it this way, “The point is that something very important about the character of God is revealed on the seventh day: God stops.”  Did you hear that, simply stated, being like God is knowing when to stop.  Whew!!!  Mind blown!!!  See, the biblical ceremonial Sabbath was a day, Saturday, and it was the seventh day, the day that the Lord rested from creation of the earth.   Today, due to the freedom we have in Christ, and Jesus’ reassertion of the law, the principle of the Sabbath remains without the ceremonial restrictions.  Today, we practice knowing when to stop.

As I close, God created the world in six days and on the seventh He rested a holy rest!  I for one, want to celebrate and I need to Sabbath!  Matthew Sleeth says,  “Sabbath is like a redeemed holiday (holy day) fifty-two times a year.  It is a time to rejoice and celebrate.”.  I sabbath because I want to be fully human, I want to be like God, and I want to be holy.  One of my favorite verses is Leviticus 20:26, “And you shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be mine.”  The personal and intimate call of God for me to be close, intimate and holy stirs my soul.  So, if being like God is knowing when to stop, then I want to embody and practice the Sabbath day fully.  Today, I want to practice knowing when to stop.  Walter Brueggemann exclaims, “We used to sing the hymn “Take Time to Be Holy.” But perhaps we should be singing, “Take time to be human.” Or finally, “Take time.” Sabbath is taking time … time to be holy … time to be human”.

Personally, I would add, take time to repent, because God is calling us to be holy.  Failure to have a Sabbath theology is at minimum an evidence of what sin has done to us.  We have to ignore God’s command in the Old Testament and Jesus’ example in the new in order to miss God’s will for us to rest.  We certainly don’t have to see this the same way, but to ignore it altogether, now that’s a “missing of the mark” against your body and your soul.  Let’s be like God, by knowing when to stop.  And of course fam, Be a bridge!!


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The Eighth Day: New Beginnings & New Meaning

Do you still get excited for Sunday morning?  Do you??!  Are you overwhelmed by the thought of millions of Christians all over the world getting together to worship the one resurrected King?  Or has your passion grown cold?  The fact is, for most, Sunday morning is still “that day!”  It’s the day of united worship and of family reunion!  Augustine of Hippo wrote in his signature work, City of God, “The Sabbath is brought to a close not by an evening, but by the Lord’s day, as an eighth and eternal day, consecrated by the resurrection of Christ, and also prefiguring the eternal repose not only of the spirit, but also of the body. Then, we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise. This is what shall be in the end without end.”  I’d like for you to pause and consider the beauty of Augustine’s Sunday paradigm.  Is it not awe inspiring?

We find in the resurrection narratives of all four gospels the phrase “the first day of the week.”  1st century and 2nd century Christians saw Sunday as the beginning of the week yes, but they also saw it as the eighth day.  For early believers every Sunday followed the Sunday before, making it a “new beginning,” an “eighth day.”  If it’s not obvious, eight is biblical numerology’s number for new beginnings.  This is why babies were circumcised and given their names on the eighth day.

Early believers also had this intense connection with the past and a simultaneous expectation of the future.  This is not just based on every Sunday being connected to the Sunday prior.  Sunday was also the close of the Sabbath.  So Sunday was not a day of rest as the Sabbath was, but rather a day of tension and breakthrough.  Sunday highlights crucifixion.  So it’s a day of mourning.  Sunday highlights resurrection, so it’s a day of joy!  Marianne H. Micks says “We confused the first day of the week with the Jewish Sabbath and thereby turned to the past instead of to the future. Rightly understood, Sunday is more a day of tension than a day of rest.”  On Sunday,  in one breath of worship, we wrestle with crucifixion and we wrestle with resurrection.

I consider Augustine and I think, what do we contemporarily say about Sunday beyond, oh please, oh please, oh please come to church.  No one knows who, but someone (mainly everybody), said, “Just because you don’t go to church Sunday morning doesn’t mean you forfeit your right of having any help or guidance from God”  This is true but numbing to Sunday’s significance.  Church leaders say things like Joyce Meyer’s famous quote, “Jesus is interested in a relationship with you, not a 45 minute date every Sunday morning. Make Him first in your life.”  Again true, and yet again numbing to Sunday’s significance if taken too far or out of context, which I believe is its normal case.

As I close this thought, I have to ask myself, am I writing this to say, oh please, oh please, oh please come to church?   Absolutely not!   I’m writing this to bridge the concept of the eighth day to your soul, so that if and when you do show up on a Sunday, you understand what your doing!  Augustine called Sunday “The Lord’s Day.”  Why?  He calls it the Lord’s day because that’s the day our Lord got up, defeated sin, the grave and whooped up on death!  Invincible!!!  In a sense, Sunday is the only day that Jesus heard an alarm clock.  For it is, and will be, the only time where he was dead and now is alive.  He resurrected!  See, for the world, Easter is a once a year event but for the believer, resurrection happens every Sunday!  We celebrate “The Lord’s Day,” The day He got up!  We celebrate the Eighth Day, the day of new beginnings.  Every week for the believer we are reminded that life begins fresh and new, opportunity begins fresh and new because today, the Eighth Day, Jesus’ resurrection reminds us that we all have resurrection power!  We all have been made new!  Sunday is a glorious day!  Anything less than overwhelmed misses the mark, misses the maker, misses the magnificent mayhem (full praise) we ought to lavish on a God who would resurrect lives!!!  My dear friends, remember the 1st Day of the week, the eighth day, the eternal day, and together, lets rest and see, see and love, love and praise!

…And yes, of course, Be A Bridge!

Matthew 28:1-3 

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.  And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.”

Let us, together, celebrate!  For every Sunday, after that Sunday, is The Eighth Day.  Glory!


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God’s Love Language: Christianity is A Love Relationship & It’s Love Language is Pursuit

Have you ever really thought about how crazy it is that we are in a relationship with Jesus Christ?  Have you ever wandered what language God speaks?  What would He say to you?  If you have or haven’t, stop and consider that for a moment.  Go ahead, I’ll wait…

OK, you’re back.  Listen, because of our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are in full on relationship with the entire Godhead.  Consider that.  We are intimate with God the Father, with God the Son and with God the Sprit!  Is that unthinkable or what??!  Come on, It’s crazy person imaginative little kid wishful thinking for mere humans to be intimate with God.  It’s bananas!  How could that even happen?  The answer is right in our faces.  God PURSUED us.

I can’t help but think about Gary Chapman who In 1995 came out with his signature book “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.”  According to his findings the 5 love languages are;

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch.

These may work with people but I believe God has His own love language.  I think God has a way to express heartfelt commitment to His people and a way of receiving love back.  I believe that language is PURSUIT.

Ephesians 2 reveals that we were dead in our transgressions.  Let me scream that word, DEAD!!!  We were without life, without animation, without desire, expired, done and without hope.  Yet, Ephesians 2 reveals that God, with His “great love” it says “made us alive together with Christ!”  Wait.  Wait one minute.  Are you smelling what I’m stepping in??  We had no inkling to approach God and He pursued us!  Really, what kind of love is this?

This morning on my drive to work I’m listening to David Crowder Band and these lyrics wrecked me, “He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.”  It’s too much for me.  His love, His pursuit, His grace, His mercy, yes it all has me bending like a tree, at the mercy of the wind, under the weight of such “great love.”  A love that is jealous for me.  It’s an overwhelming flood of passion for you, for me.  It’s unthinkable!

This is not new, this is God!  God has always been in pursuit of us.  God has always gone out of His way for us and He wants us to respond in the same way.  You see, Christianity is a love relationship and It’s love language is pursuit.  Just like God has pursued us He calls us to live a life in pursuit of Him.  Back in the Old text in Leviticus 20:26, God says, “You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.”  Can you feel how passionate God is for those who are His?  Do you see that He has done everything to be in relationship with you and He wants you to pursue Him back in return?  Be holy to me!  Be separate to me!  Be about me!  Can you feel God’s heart and desire to be in existence shattering love with His people, with you, with me?

You know, I see a guy like Paul in scripture and I think, see, he got it!  LOL, that may sound silly to some for me to say but that’s what I think.  He was in full on life pursuit of Jesus Christ!  Paul says he “pressed toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus.”  Paul never took his foot off the gas.  He, like us, was pursued by God and in response he then spends his life pursuing God back.  Listen to this line from Paul;

“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” ~ Philippians 3:10-11

This is not a statement of conversion.  Paul had been converted for 40 years already by this point.  Yet, he’s still striving to “know” Christ!  He’s still googly eyed!  He’s still in full on courtship.  He’s still pressing in for perfect intimacy.  If relationship with God was a jar of peanut butter, Paul’s scraping everything he can get out of that jar.  He wants the power of His resurrection which means he wants holiness.  He wants to share in His suffering which means he wants devotion.  He, like a son, wants to put on Daddy’s clothes.  That’s why he says, “becoming like Him in his death.”  He has no limits.  He has no pride.  He would do anything to attain the resurrection from the dead.  He would do anything to finish the race and be with the one he loves.  He PURSUES God with a passion that only love could produce!  Simply stated, he gets it.  He loves God, so he speaks God’s love language.  My God, give us all that pursuit.

For the love of God, be a bridge!


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