Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2 HUGE announcements

Hello friends. 


On February 28, 2011 I woke up with a clear vision of what I was supposed to do for the next 8 1/2 months of my life.

To recap, I had just been fired from my job as a senior pastor and I was still living in a town of a thousand people where my family was constantly reminded of our ignominious ending in that community.  I had been down this road once before upon being forced out of another church position and being completely unemployed for 8 months.  And it was a terrifying time for my family in many ways.  And here I was again.

Knowing what possibly lay ahead of me, I knew that I needed to try to do something positive....SOMETHING!  And since I couldn't control when I would be hired, I decided to do something about my weight.  I rolled over in bed and told Michelle of my plan to lose weight.  I said, "I need to do something with this time in my life and I want to help someone else, someone I don't even know."  I told her of a crazy idea I had to lose weight and ask my Facebook friends to make a pledge for each pound I lost.  That way, I would be held accountable to my decision. 

We thought about who we could raise money for.  I knew it had to be for one person, so I could have a real name and face to travel on this journey with me.  Michelle told me about an organization her friend was working through to adopt an international, special-needs child, called 'Reece's Rainbow'.  What was different about this was the sense of urgency that came with these kids.  If they weren't adopted by a certain age a vast majority of them would be transferred to an institution where they would die within the first year.  I knew this was the horizon God wanted my eyes to be focused on. 

So we randomly (providentially) chose a family to help -- The Wilson Family.  They love the Lord dearly and had a heart to express their love and imitation of the Gospel by adopting a little boy from Kiev they would name Peyton.  The Wilson family laid everything they had before God and said that it was all His.  They sold whatever they could to glorify God by bringing this child home.  And the amount it would cost to adopt this boy was very high. 

I knew that whatever I could raise would only be a drop in the bucket, but a drop in the bucket is better than a dry bucket.  So I posted this blog the next day and was overwhelmed by the love and support that came through my screen.  Many of my family and friends came through for me and I was determined to see this through.

I weighed myself on March 1 of this year and I was 335 lbs.  My goal was to lose 100 lbs by my birthday (Nov.15).  Through my daily besieging of the Lord in prayer for help, He gave me the strength to make it to this day. 

Before I tell you how much I weigh today, let me add this beautiful caveat:  Thanks to the generosity of so many of you along with so many more the Lord used to help the Wilson family, Peyton came home and was adopted into the Wilson family where He is loved and nurtured in the admonition of the Lord.  Praise be to God that He allowed me to see His mighty provision for this family!  I sincerely thank each and every one of you and know that you, too, were blessed to be used in such a way.

Well, all that to say that today I weigh 254 pounds.  81 pounds lost!  Not -100, but not +100 either. 

My life is changed forever. 

Which leads me to ANNOUNCEMENT #2

Let me just say that I have had 2 jobs since being fired back in February.  One was a part-time job at Sam's Club where I worked as a cashier.  The other job is the one I currently hold, a cashier at Chick Fil A.  I am very grateful to God for providing these jobs.....VERY grateful!!! 

But, God has shown me something about myself in this time.  I am meant to preach the Gospel!  It is most assuredly a fire in my bones and it burns hotter within me every day.  He has given me opportunities to preach at work and out on the streets of Knoxville, but the time I have to give is very limited now. 

He has also shown me how sweet it is to minister and share the Gospel alongside of my family.  I want to spend more time sharing and working with them. 

So, I am announcing today a goal which is not just for me, but for my entire family.  After much prayer and meditation, the Richardson's have decided to pursue missionary work in Poland.

Yes, Poland!  We have a goal to share the Gospel with this unreached people group as a family.

You might be asking things like, "Why Poland?", "Is this just another whim?", "How are they going to do this exactly?" or "Does Michelle even like kielbasa?"

I'll try to briefly share some of these answers with you.
  1. Why Poland?  I have been there twice on mission trips and found that I was ministering in my sweet spot.  I love working with people who have little or no knowledge of the Gospel.  It is how I came to know Christ.  We also have friends who are currently serving as missionaries in Poland and have a couple of contacts already there.  But the main reason is that Jesus deserves their worship too!
  2. Is this just another whim?  Back in seminary, I remember being asked by a professor, "If you had all the money you ever needed, what would you do?"  Instantly, I said that I would be a missionary in Poland.  Upon sharing this with Michelle, she dismissed it altogether.  Throughout our marriage, I have continued to mention this to her, each time receiving the same response.  But when I mentioned it this time, she not only doesn't reject the idea, but even embraces it with anticipation.  It has been on my heart since first going there and now seems like the right time to go. 
  3. How are they going to do this exactly?  The short answer is, "I don't know".  The biblical answer is "God will provide".  He has let us see His provision for us during so many times in our lives and we are confident that He is able to do exceeding abundantly for us.  All we know is that our time of walking in the desert is over because He has given us a clear vision to share the good news of Jesus Christ as a family with the Polish people.  We don't have to wonder what we are to do anymore.  Whether it takes a few weeks or a few years to get there, our eyes are set on Poland. 
  4. Does Michelle even like Kielbasa?  Um, NO.  That one was easy!
Where do you come in?  We need your prayers now more than ever.  It will surely take an act of God for us to even get on the field in Poland.  Minimum wage jobs will not supply all our needs, but God will. 

The father of the modern missionary movement, William Carey, once said when speaking about leaving to share the Gospel with the lost, "Well, I will go down, if you will hold the rope."  Our family knows which side of the rope we are meant to be on.  We are going down into the well where people need to hear about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.  And we know we will need people who can hold the rope for us. 

You already did with my weight loss journey.  I'm a new man because of that.  Now, I ask that you be ready to hold the rope as we go to Poland so that we can see Jesus make all things new in the lives of people we are yet to meet. 

And until the day we get there, we still have work to do and lessons to learn here.  But the focus He has given us is a major answer to prayer.  Like Paul longed to go to Spain, I long to go to Poland for the glory of Christ alone! 

Who'da thought, huh?

Soli Deo gloria,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Things not to say to the Sam's Club Greeter.....

1.  "You're too big to do this job."  Actually stated to me in a serious manner by a customer.  My reply which stayed inside of my head, "Would you rather I take my big self to my couch and not work?"  or "I'm sorry, all the BIG PEOPLE jobs were taken."

2.  "Can you count to 3?"  Another statement said in all seriousness to belittle my ability to perform basic tasks, thereby making them feel superior.  My reply which stayed inside of my head, "No, but I can count to 2.  Smile at me and I'll prove it by counting both of your teeth."

3.  "This is a woman's job, what are YOU doing here?"  My reply which stayed inside of my head, "Well, I'm not shopping like YOU are, am I?"  or  "Can a woman do this.....Pow!.....Bang!.....Smash!.....Zonk!......Boom!" (for all of you old Batman TV show fans).

4.  Just randomly waving your ticket, while on your cell phone and not even looking at me.  This one happens a lot.  What I want to do but don't.....Put on some sunglasses and sway like Stevie Wonder until you notice that I'm not looking at you either. 

OK, my venting is almost complete!

Please remember that people are made in the image of God and that God deserves you to respect His image because of who He is.  And until then, I'll try to keep biting my tongue, because the people who say and do these rude things carry His image too. 

Meekness=strength under control.  Lord help us to be meek.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Afraid of 6th grade boys

Today, I'm at the base of Mt. Everest, out of shape, with few supplies, with no earthly reason to even try to move forwards.  At least that's what life feels like for me right now. 

I have not held a full time job since February.  As much as I bang down doors, send resumes, take pointless tests, and try to cajole my way into something....ANYthing.....I simply cannot do it.  And I am exhausted in every sort of way from the fight. 

There is a battle going on inside of me which rages daily.  Pride vs. Truth.  And Pride is a cunning and persistent tormenter.  He doesn't give up.  I feel like I should be farther along than this right now.  I worked so hard to obtain an education.  I fought 10 years to finally get my undergraduate degree, to be followed by another 3 years to obtain my Master's.  All the while, I worked wherever and whenever I could to support my family.  Now, I am scolded by 19 year olds for not selling enough membership upgrades.  And I have to sit and listen to my manager's baby talk to each other about inane things just while I'm waiting to get assigned my register for the day. 

The trap is an easy one to fall into, you see.  Look outwardly at the circumstances, look inwardly at your supposedly "good qualities", and bemoan your fate.  And I fight it so hard knowing that it is a test which God is allowing me to go through so that I can see my own heart.

Sounds mean, huh?  Showing me how messed up I am!  But if I'm ever to see the heart of God, I must turn away from relying on my own heart.  I must turn away from me to ever see Him!

It's like looking at a picture of you and other people.  Where do your eyes immediately go?  Mine go to myself.  I look to see if it's a good shot of me, without ever regarding anyone else.  And in doing so, I can miss the beauty of what else is around me.  Well, as a Christian, I miss seeing the beauty and glory of God all the time because I'm looking at me. 

God is showing me that I'm missing out on the best thing when I focus on me.  What am I missing out on?  Him.  The glory of God!  He is the true beauty! 

The truth is that though this world is big and intimidating, and the challenges we face are apparently insurmountable, our God holds the world in the palm of His hand. 

In elementary school, I was relentlessly bullied by bigger kids who always did their damage in big groups.  I was scared to fight back because their power and sheer force in numbers was too much for me to take on.  And whenever I saw these kids walking on one side of the road, I would purposely walk on the other side. 

But with a little perspective and wisdom and size, I am not afraid of 6th grade boys anymore.  I can walk right through the midst of them even if they were taunting me because I'm bigger now and I have more power behind me.  How silly would I look being afraid of 6th graders as a 6'4" man?

Mt. Everest is a group of 6th grade boys to God!  He is not intimidated by such weakness.  My employment is a group of 6th grade boys, my bills are a group of 6th grade boys, my plans are a bunch of 6th grade boys. 

And through this battle in my life, God is trying to show me that with the proper perspective, He is using these bullies in my life to show me how weak I am, yet how strong He is. 

Just like David with Goliath, just like Peter and John with the Sanhedrin, just like Gideon being asked to face overwhelming odds so that there would be NO DOUBT that the victory belongs to the Lord. 

You know, it's hard knowing this and still fighting against it.  I walk by faith, not by sight.  And I still look at me and my circumstances and complain and yearn to be freed from this prison I'm in. 

I have absolutely no idea what God is going to do to get me out of this mess I'm in.  But I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day. 

Ahhhh, "that day".  Sweet words to a man living as close to hell as I'll ever be.  I yearn for "that day".  Even now, come Lord Jesus!

But until then, break in me what you must so that I don't live in fear of 6th grade boys anymore.

Monday, August 15, 2011

272 and counting

Well, I am officially at 272 pounds today.  That means I have exactly 3 months to lose 37 pounds.  Seems a little daunting right now because my weight loss has slowed down quite a bit.  But we're still heading in the right direction.

Thank you so much to everyone who already sent in their pledge money to the Wilson family.  They were blessed to find out that their timetable for adopting Peyton was moved up.  And as of right now, I believe they are somewhere in Eastern Europe visiting with him.  If God should so bless, Peyton could be at home with them within the next few weeks! 

My loss is Peyton's gain,

P.S.  I'm already thinking of another God-sized mission.  We're praying about it now, and if He allows it, it will be even more life-changing for us!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Need help now

Hey guys, God seems to have put Peyton on the fast track to coming home to the Wilson family.  Praise God!  But they are still about $4000 short on the funds they need to bring him home. 

I know I'm only in the middle of my weight loss journey, but up to this point, I've lost 54 of the 100 pounds I said I would.  But since the money is needed now, would you consider donating your pledge now to help bring him home?  You can donate for the amount you pledged (if you need to know how much that was, email me because I have a list of all pledges) up to 54 lbs or up to 100lbs.  I just ask that you give what God lays on your heart.

Also, I don't want to be the middle man, so there is a great way to make your donation fast and easy.  You can go to the Wilson family's website at www.redeemingourson.blogspot.com and donate online right on their website.  If you have any trouble, please email me back and I'll help walk you through it. 

Your support has been absolutely tremendous for me personally.  I haven't been this weight since high school!  I feel great and am confident that I will lose the remaining 46 lbs by my bday on Nov. 15th. 

I believe God will receive His due glory in bringing Peyton home.  Thank you for being on this journey with me.  Let's keep it going, but we'll finish up the weight part with Peyton at home with the Wilson's.

Less of me, more of Him,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Filthy lips!!!

About 9 years ago, a man was crushed between his car and a dumpster.  A stranger came out and placed his lips on the filthy man hoping to breathe life back into him.  But that life had already drifted away to an unknown destination.  And all that was left behind were questions.

What was his life all about?
Why did he have to go now?
Where is he?
How do I let go?
Will I end up like this too?

This man was Rory Bahr, my wife's "father".  I put that in parentheses because he really wasn't ever around for her or the rest of the family.  Instead, his life's pursuit was found inside of a bottle.  And after chasing that bottle for over 4 decades, the end of his race came with Vodka on his lips and emptiness in his heart.

I'm thinking about this today, because I've come across Proverbs 16:9, which says, "The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs His steps." 

Rory's mind planned to drink another 40 ounce that day which would help him to escape the loads of regret which piled up on his soul.  He was homeless and didn't work much, but don't mistake that for a lack of zeal.  Oh no.  Rory had zeal.  But it was misplaced zeal.  All of his pursuing went to the convenience store liquor door.  And he died a sad and pathetic death.

Here I am today thinking about my own life.  And I can self-righteously tell you that I don't drink....don't even like the stuff.  And you might think that I really have it together then.  But that same problem that Rory had, I have too.  It just has assumed a different form to fit my own idolatry and selfishness.  And this is my problem.....I pursue ME!

Sometimes I get angry thinking about how Rory wasted all of his time on alcohol when he had access to an incredible daughter and sons all of the time.  How could he be so blind?  What an ignorant thing to do!  Trading time with your precious kids for time with drunks at the bar?!  Trading the best for something, anything less than the best!

And I find myself doing that ALL the time.  Let me explain it like this.  What is the best thing in the whole universe?  Riches?  A great job?  Even family?  No.  Not even close.  If they were, then poor people, or jobless people, or single people would be utterly hopeless.  And that's not the case. 

James 1:17 says that "every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." 

The gift is NEVER more important than the Giver!  In fact, the gifts are there to remind us of how good the Giver is and how much the Giver loves us.  And how the Giver is the Best!  So, I see my wife and I'm reminded of the God who gave her to me.  Same with my kids.  Job.  House.  Food.  etc, etc, etc. 

If I pursue me, what I am saying is that I think I am the best thing I can possibly pursue.  Or, put another way, I'm better than God.  Well, I know that is not the case! 

God's grace is truly amazing!  And everything is meant to point me to Him because He is the best!  God wants us to have the best.  And He Himself IS the best!  Anything less than God is a lesser pursuit which can never fulfill us. 

And I've pursued my own plans, my own sins, my own thoughts, my own ways far more than I've pursued God.  And in so doing, I am settling for less than God's best. 

Being a Christian is a matter of letting go of you and pursuing Him.  And today, I am struggling with that.  What with my working a minimum wage job wondering how I am going to support my family.  And wondering what kind of job am I supposed to be doing.  And looking at the check engine light on my old car come on wondering how long it can hold out for me.  And even feeling my own body fall apart with the severe pain of a kidney stone which I cannot control. 

But maybe, just maybe, each of these things in my life is designed to remind me of my dependence on my God.  My utter helplessness and His endless wisdom.  My failure and His success.  My chaos and His steadfastness.  My weakness and His strength.  My finiteness and His limitlessness. 

And in that realization, I can find rest from my worries, my doubt, my shame.  In the cross of Christ, I can enjoy what Rory died without.....Peace!  I have peace with God!  Not only that, but I have peace with God BECAUSE of God!  "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Col 1:13-14) 

And thinking about this, I realize that I have something in common with Rory.  A man who was once a stranger to me humbled himself and stooped down to my filthy and lifeless lips and breathed life into them.  And while I died to myself, I was raised to walk in newness of life with His breath, His Spirit.  And even if my life might not be what I had planned it to be, it is the Lord who directs my steps.  And I know I can trust Him. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I'll get the weight update out of the way up front.  Having moved and being in the process of adjusting to a new way of life, I didn't think I would have lost any weight.  But lo and behold, another couple of pounds is off.  Admittedly, I would like to be losing weight a little faster, but it's kind of like my spiritual life.....not where I want to be, but not where I used to be either.  We're still heading in the right direction.

Also, I want to take a little time to remind everyone why I'm doing this.  First, I am taking pledges for every pound I lose to go to the Wilson family so that they can adopt Peyton (an international special needs child).  It bothers me that the only thing separating this child from a loving Christian home is paper (paperwork to be completed and money).  So, continue emailing and messaging me and getting the word out about this drive to bring Peyton home and let's watch what God does. 

Second, selfishly it helps me to stay accountable for losing weight where I have previously tried to do this on my own.  Last time I checked, gluttony is a sin too.  And the best way to fight against sin is to bring it into the light.  So, I'm bringing my fat (and the sinful motivations for it) into the light and asking you to help me to stay in the light. 

Lastly, I just think it's neat to be reminded that we are all part of something bigger.  Not only am I involved in the life of the Wilson family in some small way, but you are all involved in my life too.  And doesn't this point us to our omnipresent God who is always there?  This tiny little mission that I'm on (tiny in the sense of the scope of all of eternity) is important because there is a God directing and in control over the whole thing.  And as He arranges the pieces of my life, I find peace in the fact that there's something bigger than me and NOTHING bigger than Him.  My life actually counts because God made me and empowered me and regenerated me to make it count. 

I'll just close with these profound words that you may feel free to meditate on......I love God!

Less of me, more of Him.


Monday, May 23, 2011


Last weekend, within a few days, the Lord led us to a terrific new church home, an amazing new house, and a new job in Tennessee.  Praise the Lord!  So this week, we have been packing for our move on Saturday. 

Considering that this was my last weekend in Ohio, we decided to preach in the park.  A bunch of friends showed up to worship the Lord together with us and it was a great way to move on. 

Everything is happening so fast!  But I'm glad because we have been stuck in molasses since February. 

I don't have a lot of time to add much right now because, frankly, my mind is spinning with all of this change. 

But, I am happy to report that in spite of 2 Krispy Kreme donuts somehow finding their way into my gullet last weekend, I am now at 296! 

39 pounds down, 61 pounds away from my goal.  Keep praying for me.  And if you haven't been able to pledge money, send me an email and I will be happy to get you set up.  Meanwhile, if you'd like an update on Peyton (the child we're trying to bring home to the Wilson family) check out their blog at http://www.redeemingourson.blogspot.com/

Less of me, more of Him,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I can't believe it!

Today, I'm at 302.  That's officially 1/3 of the way to my goal!  Funny thing is, I feel like I'm eating like a swine (you thought I'd say pig, didn't ya?)  For example, last night I ate 2 pieces of chicken cordon bleu, a lot of green beans, and a salad.  This feast was washed down with a coke zero.  This seems to be pretty typical of my dinners lately. 

For lunches, I usually eat one sandwich with a lot of meat in it. 

And for breakfast, I'll either have a sausage sandwich or a diabetic protein bar. 

I almost always drink water with an occasional coke zero.  And, I might eat a few pepperoni slices for a snack to give me that meaty feeling that my voraciously carniverous side needs.

It's crazy, I know!  This doesn't sound very healthy, but it's helping me to transition away from what I used to eat.  I don't think Jenny Craig would be too happy with my choices either. 

And if you're wondering, I have not really been as good with my exercises on the Wii Fat (maybe once or twice a week for an hour at a time). 

But somehow it's really working.  We looked at some pics of us just a couple of years ago in Florida, when I was over 350 and it looks like someone put Great Big Ole Jay in the dryer and out came a Less Big Ole Jay. 

This is me in 2009.  I was about 354!
This is me as of Sunday!

For those of you who have kindly pledged to help bring Peyton home to the Wilson family, keep putting your money in the piggy bank because I feel good that we're going to be able to help this family out.  And if you want to help even more, you can go to their blog and purchase a t-shirt they made to help raise funds. 

So there you have it.  I'm not saying this diet is for everyone, or that this is what I'll be eating a few weeks from now, but for now, it is how I've lost 33 pounds since March 1. 

3 more pounds and I'll be out of the 300's, hopefully forever!

Thanks for your support, both spiritually and financially.

Less of me, more of Him,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


The weight loss is a little slower nowadays, but still going in the right direction.  The eating is under control.  I just have to figure out this exercising thing a little better.  I have never visited that world before and I'm curious if anyone can translate these foreign words:  "cardio", "pilates", and the most confusing of all "zumba". 

So far, it's me, my lawn (that's my dinner) and my Wii Fat.  It has brought me down 28 lbs but I need to step it up a little again.

On another note, go to http://www.redeemingourson.blogspot.com/ and buy a t-shirt, if you are able, which will help bring Peyton home to the Wilson family.  Anything and everything helps! 

This post is a short one, but I have a feeling the next one might be a little longer.  I'm close to doing something very surprising!  Stay tuned. 

Until later, stay away from the evil Little Debbie and stay near the Lord.

Your less fat friend,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


So the weight is coming off a little slower now, but at least my eating is under control (and all the farm animals said...."AMEN!")  We have been traveling a lot lately so I have definitely been tempted to eat wrong, but the temptations are not as strong as they used to be a couple of weeks ago.  Praise God!!!  And now I'm eating salads like crazy too.  I can't walk by a freshly mowed lawn without getting a hankerin' for some Caesar salad. 

By the way, we got a random pledge from a really nice man of $140 which I sent on to Reece's Rainbow to aid in Peyton's adoption.  God works in mysterious ways.  Who thought He could bring good out of my past gluttony?  I mean really.....last year's box of Swiss Cakes has become this year's pledge to adopt a special needs child.  You tell me if God is cool or not?

On another front, I'm still looking for a job so please pray for me there.  I thank God that He has opened up new avenues for ministry and given me so much time with my family.  But daddy needs to bring home some bacon....er, I mean wheat germ! 

Well, I'll keep this one short today.  But remember to keep praying for Peyton and the Wilson family.  Let's see how big God will show us He is as He helps me to be smaller (literally and figuratively)!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review of "We Be Big"

If any of you are fans of the Rick and Bubba morning radio show, then this book is for you.  The book takes us through their childhood years all the way up to the present time.  From learning about Rick's resourcefulness in making money as a child to seeing the impact that Bubba's father had on his life, we get a peak into what makes these men tick. 

While it does bog down a little when they are talking about their numerous contract negotiations, the book shines in particular where it needs to. 

A few years ago, Rick's youngest son, Bronner, died tragically while Rick was away speaking at a Christian youth event.  The faith that he demonstrated during this heart-wrenching tragedy is worth the read all by itself, whether you're a fan of the show or not.  In addition, the way that Bubba carried on with the show the following Monday is inspiring. 

I have often dealt with the conflicting feeling that I have to be funny all the time, even if I don't feel like it.  And these men, funny as they are, glorified our Lord Jesus Christ by exposing their humanity, their weakness, and their pain.  How does this glorify the Lord, you may ask?  Because it is His strength and His promises which they tightly cling to.  This leaves you saying at the end of the book, "There must be something to this Jesus."

God is good, no matter what!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lessons learned

Hello friends,

I just wanted to share with you some "real" moments.  Recently, we embarked on a trip to see our families.  The main reason was that I volunteered to preach my aunt's funeral service.  But along the way, we got to see my son Austin, my family, and Michelle's family.  And I am learning some things about myself during this trip.

1.  Seeing family members after a long time is like a cool drink of water at the end of the Mojave Desert.  It reminds me that I am loved no matter what and that helps me to see God's goodness in trying times.

2.  My will to succeed with this diet is stronger than the pull of Grandma's cookie plate.  Having extra motivation to lose weight has been a huge help in my battle to lose weight.  Traveling has afforded me the opportunities to eat terrible things but they don't have quite the pull on me anymore.  Thank God for this gift of His.

3.  When I am on my emotional yo-yo, my family suffers.  Not having a job is one of the hardest things to go through for me.  I have been terribly depressed at times as I have received numerous rejection notifications for jobs that I would do well at and enjoy.  It's hard to explain how helpless I have felt in all of this.  But this attitude of mine has cost my family some of the joy that this trip could have provided for them.  I am learning how my selfishness and my distrust in the Lord can cloud over His goodness. 

4.  I have an amazing wife!  This simply cannot be discounted in helping me to go on day by day.  She has grown in the area of mercy so much and God has used that to speak of Himself through her.  The mood that my wife sees on my face as I struggle to find meaning and work and a new career is met by her graceful elegance and tender words of hope. 

5.  My children are the best gifts money can't buy!  Some people see kids as such a burden.  But when you see your daughters asking their grandmother questions about God, and your son pull his first fish from a pond, and your baby squeal with delight from being flipped, it makes you feel sorry for those who were fooled into not having more children because of the materialism of the world.  Even in unemployment, my God is faithful to provide for the blessings He has given me.

6.  Jesus is ever so faithful and good even as I falter.  Oh, the joy to know that my salvation depends not on me, but on Him. 

He must shake His head as He watches my sinful heart worry. 

He sends my son a fish on his first time fishing.  It tells me, "I will provide." 

He sends family members and former neighbors who have lost a loved one to share their love for my aunt.  It tells me, "I will comfort." 

He sends a wife that pursues a distant and distraught husband instead of leaving me to my wallowing misery.  It tells me, "I will never leave you and never forsake you." 

He sends me, my wife and kids to the restaurant across the street from the college my wife and I fell in love at, and we eat at the same booth we did 13 years ago, but with 4 more additions.  It tells me, "I remember." 

He sends me His Word.  It tells me, "I am not silent." 

He sends me His Spirit.  It tells me, "I guide." 

He sends me His Son.  It tells me, "I love." 

Please keep praying for me friends.  My inclination has been to ask you to pray first for a job, but maybe it's more about the journey for me.  Pray that I would learn to joyfully trust Him and that God would be glorified in my attitude.  The rest, He will provide.

And don't forget to pray for Peyton and the Wilson's.  I want to see a miracle happen!

In Christ,

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Ok, so there's good news and there's bad news.  I'm an optimist, so I like the bad news first.  That way, we end on a high note. 

Bad news:  The Wilson family is having some problems bringing Peyton home.  I will refer you to their blogsite at http://redeemingourson.blogspot.com/ 

Be in prayer for the Wilson's and for Peyton!

If for whatever reason, God has other plans for Peyton, we will continue our journey together and help out another family in the same position.  But let's keep praying and trusting Jesus.

Good news:  Hopped on the Wii Fat (I mean....Fit) and it said I'm at 315!  I've slacked a little on the workouts, but the diet is staying strong, thanks to my wife, Michelle.  She is a real Swiss Cake Nazi!

It's funny that in one part of my life, I'm really struggling (namely, finding a job).  And, yes, I've been through this before.  But I feel like I'm still gaining control of something when I can focus on losing this extra person I seem to have eaten.  And it feels so good to have that right now. 

Now, I need some ideas (cheap ideas are best) on ways to celebrate getting to the 200's.  I haven't been there in a looooooong time and it is definitely worth a party.  And I'd like to see it happen by April 1st. 

If you're wondering, it isn't as easy as I might be making it sound either.  I have had my angry withdrawals, immature fits, and the occasional pizza roll flying in my mouth.  I am basically doing this on my own by eating less (a LOT less) and exercising more (a little more).  That's it! 

But my eyes are on the goal.  The pressure is on and I am the kind of guy who not only needs it, but I see that others can benefit from this too. 

Namely a special needs child who is in need of love.  And the only thing that seems to be keeping most of these kids away from that love is money.  Let's do something about one!  Maybe we can't save them all, but we can fix our eyes on one with a laser focus and let God use us to show His power to Peyton, the Wilson's, and whoever else it filters down to!

By the way, keep praying for me because I am still flesh and bones subject to weak moments.  But my God is stronger than my flesh!  And He is stronger than yours too!  Trust Christ and watch what He does!

Thanks for your love and support.

Jay "Eats Like A" Bird

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Up again

I really love the fellowship I have with Jesus at night!  Things get clearer for me then.  Anyway, here I am again.  Can't sleep. 

I'm thinking about Peyton and the Wilson family.  I'm dreaming about the day Peyton rests in his mommy's arms.  I'm thinking how that will glorify God!  A desperate, needy person being loved unconditionally by a generous and giving family.  What a picture of the gospel I hope to see happen soon!

I'm also thinking about someone giving us tickets to the Psalm 119 conference out of the blue this week.  If ever my family needs a time to get away and be washed in the Word, it is now.  Special thanks to the Hearts for the Lost gang (http://www.heartsforthelost.com/).  They ooze Jesus out of every pore!

But here's the update, folks.  The number you're waiting for.....320.5!  I'm down 15 pounds in a week!  My wife has been the best support for me in helping me to watch what I eat.  It's amazing, but my 6 year old eats more than I do now!  And, after the first few days, my body is really getting used to it.  Also, I've done a lot more walking and exercise. 

Here's a funny thing, too.  For the first time, I am able to use our Wii Fit Plus!  Before, I always weighed too much.  I said we should call it the Wii Fat because fat people like me still can't use it.  But now I'm in.  And it has really whooped my onions!  Hardest thing was the hula hoops! 

So there you have it.  85 to go.  I know it won't go as fast as this first week, but it WILL go!  I've never been so determined about losing weight before.....thanks, Peyton! 

Keep forwarding this to your friends because I desperately want to see Peyton Wilson come home. 

God is great!
Jay (Eats Like A) Bird

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 2

So far, so good.  I've eaten right and walked up the monster hill I live on pushing about 100 pounds of Richardson's on a double stroller the whole way.  Wow do my legs hurt. 

I've re-introduced my body to apples and forsaken the dreaded Twinkies.  The battle has just begun but one day sure is a lot for me. 

Also, I have 10 pledges so far and lots and lots of encouragement.  This is really a huge blessing folks.  Keep it up! 

Peyton's new mommy wrote a very sweet and encouraging message to me, too.  It is neat to see how God is joining our hearts to the Wilson's even though we don't know them.  They will remain in our families prayers. 

God is completely in control of this whole process.  And He will bring about something beautiful out of all of this (Romans 8:28), of this I am confident.  Knowing it's in His hands gives me peace. 

Peyton, wherever you are this night, know this:  You, son, are dearly loved!  What a family the Lord is giving to you!  I pray that you are safe and warm and fed tonight.  And I pray that the Lord plays the most beautiful song we've ever heard through your life.  You, Peyton, are a blessing and inspiration to us. 

Thank you, Lord for letting me be a part of your work!  You, my Lord, are worth it!

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Really Big Idea

I am someone who believes that God can take a mess that you've made and turn it into something amazing.  Well, I have made a huge mess!  About 335 pounds to be exact!  That is my weight and I am so tired of it.  Watching my kids grow up and my waistline expand scares me to be honest with you.  I know that there is a consequence to my sin of overeating.  And I need help!

Now, before I go on, I want to inform you ahead of time that I am going to be asking you for specific help.  Help that can possibly save my life and simultaneously save the life of a boy named Peyton.  And this help that I want you to pray about and consider is financial.  With that caveat, let me continue....

Here I am, up at 2:30am on Feb.28th, 2011.  I am never up at this time!  My mind is racing with this singular thought and I'm wondering if there's any traction to it.  I'm wondering if this is my big thing, my moment to finally turn God loose in all of my life. 

You see, I lost my job as a pastor a few weeks ago and in so doing, I have had time to reflect on some things in my life.  Where I want to go?  What I want to do?  Who I want to be?  Where I have been?  And this is such a frightening time for me as a man, a father, a provider.  Because I was in this same position a couple of years ago.  During that time, I was out of work for 8 months.  Absolutely no money coming in.  But I also saw something quite clearly in that season of my life.  Something so big and huge and comforting that I'll never forget it.....the Hand of God.

He provided money for us to live off of, a place to stay, vehicles to drive, and eventually a job.  He taught me what it means to trust Him.  And our cup never ran dry.  In fact, it runneth over and over. 

And here I am again, out of work.  And guess what?  Our cup still runneth over.  God has provided miraculously for us through so many of His people!  How can I help but stand in awe of my Jehovah Jireh! 

But during this time, I have reflected on other things besides money.  Mainly, the stewardship of my body.  I am fat......REALLY fat!  And it is time to change that.  I want to lose 100 pounds before my birthday on Nov.15.  However, in this area of my life, I am SO WEAK!  I have all I need in Christ, being indwelt by His Spirit and He is sufficient.  But He gives us others to walk with us on some of life's toughest roads.  And I'm asking you to walk with me now.  I am dying faster than I know.  This fat is literally killing me.

I saw a show one time about people who wanted to lose weight.  The producers came up with the idea to externally motivate these people.  They did it by taking pictures of them in their swimwear and saying they would show these pictures on television if they did not lose the weight before the deadline.  Amazingly, almost all of them did!  They were motivated perhaps by wrong motives, but it helped them anyway.

Now, I'm not threatening to blind you with speedo pics of myself.  What I am motivated by is glorifying God.  And like I said in the 1st sentence, God loves to bring beauty out of the ashes.  Could it be that God can use my disobedient fat to still bring glory to Himself?  Could it be possible that my fat can be turned into hope and life? 

Money.  That's what this whole thing boils down to.  I propose to lose 100 pounds by Nov.15th of this year and I'm asking you to consider pledging money for every pound that I lose.  If I don't lose the 100 pounds, don't send ANYTHING!  Where will the money go? 

That's where Peyton comes in.  He is a special needs boy waiting to be adopted by a specific family whose biggest hurdle is the money it will cost to bring him home.  I don't know the boy at all, or his family.  Crazy, huh?  I was talking to my wife about doing something like this and she mentioned a website called Reece's Rainbow.  This organization helps to raise money for loving families to adopt special needs children.  And I'd really love to see the hand of God surprise the Wilson family, too, as they seek to bring Peyton home!

These international children are often raised in orphanages and transferred to institutions if they are not adopted by age 5.  Once there, 80% of them die in the first year.  Basically, their lives are in danger.

My life is in danger, too.  What if God can help me receive the accountability, motivation, and encouragement I need through His people to help a boy I don't even know to live?  That's what is keeping me up.  Why not?  And He can use you to help save my life AND Peyton's. 

I don't know how to go about this.  I don't know where to start.  I don't know what my first step is.  But I think I've found a purpose in the midst of the blessing of my unemployment.  And I'm asking you to consider "going there" with me.  I never do things like this, but I believe this can really work! 

Would you be willing to pledge 25 cents/pound?  50 cents?  A dollar? 
Would you be willing to encourage me to do this?  I need you!  My kids need you!  My wife needs you!

Would you help to save my life and start Peyton's?

Let me direct you to the blog of the family I don't know yet so you can see their journey and their heart.  http://redeemingourson.blogspot.com/  And don't forget to check out the beautiful children at Reece's Rainbow....

If you will go on this journey with me, I believe that together we will see the hand of God move.  Today, I start without knowing if I'll even get one pledge, but trusting that this is something that I'm supposed to do.....Save my life and Peyton's.

This is a scary thing to me.  Basically, I'm asking everyone I know to hold me to this.  You all are invited to motivate me and hold me accountable. 

Contact me asap if you are on board with me.  If just 10 people pledged $1/pound and I lost 100 pounds, that's $1000 for the Wilson family to bring Peyton home.  If 20 people pledged 50 cents/pound, that's still $1000 for Peyton.  The total amount they need is about $25,000 and I'd love to help put a dent in it.

I don't know how little or how much we can raise together, but it could change our lives forever.  Walk with me as I walk with God and let's see where He takes us.

Feb.28th, 2011=335 pounds.  Come see where I am at next week, my loss is Peyton's gain. 

I must be out of my mind to actually post this, but in the words of the slain missionary Jim Elliot, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

Your friend,
Jay Richardson

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Good Thing

Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (ESV).  This might not seem like it’s a true statement for some who live day to day with the reality of another Proverb, 27:15, which states, “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike.”  But, as I have found mercy and forgiveness for my sinful and wretched life through Christ, I have been privileged to absorb the same love and grace modeled to a down and dirty and sometimes ugly sinner like myself, through my “good thing”, Michelle Richardson.
            Not many people, not ANY people, have shaped me and lifted me higher than my wife.  This is probably because she was fashioned by God in such a unique way.  Not ever having much in life, the daughter of a single mother, Michelle was in a constant battle with life from day 1.  These battles included: abuse, neglect, alcoholism, being shunned and betrayed, and constantly pleading with God for escape.  But what has carried her through is the marrow of her bones.  Early on, she realized how out-of control, like a swing whose chain breaks, her life was.  And this realization dragged her as low as any human can go.  But it also brought her higher than any person can fly as she turned to Jesus Christ to lift her.  Lift her away from her sins, her situation in life, and eventually herself.
            She gave up the world’s idea of success and the notion that she had to please people all of the time and exchanged it for a new life focused on pleasing God first.  This new life was unlike her old.  Her old life was filled with bitterness, despair, and fear.  But her new life is full of hope, strength, and purpose.  One day, she bowed as low as she could, pleading for forgiveness and mercy.  And that same day, her chin was lifted off the ground, pointing her eyes to what life is really all about-serving God.  And that day, she gave the keys of her life to the best driver the world has ever seen-Jesus Christ.
            As we have reflected on our lives together, we realize that it was the exact same year that God changed both of us.  One in Tennessee, the other in California.  And these 2 broken and unlovable people were put back together and combined, from thousands of miles apart, to provide a sneak peak into what heaven must be like.  And ever since, I have ridden on the clouds.  Whether they were stormy or bright, I’ve lived higher than I ever could with my “good thing” by my side the whole way.
            What makes her so incredibly attractive to me is the sheer power her faith has on me and our children.  She is as close to Jesus in the flesh as I have ever been near.  She sees the most disgusting, smelly, hidden, and vile catacombs of my life and yet when asked who she looks up to, she said it was me.  Me?  Nobody with the eyes of the world could say that.  She has the eyes of Jesus. 
            Being in ministry, I have moved our family to 7 states in our 13 years of marriage.  Ask me how this woman complained?  Ask me how she fought against it?  Ask me how she made me feel bad for not giving her a house to call her own?  All you will hear is the crickets chirping because you won’t hear any answer from me.  Why?  Because she never complained.  Amazingly, she saw each step as a step forward while I felt like I was falling down the whole flight.  Nobody with the eyes of the world could see that.  But she has the eyes of Jesus.
            Now, she would be quick to tell you how imperfect she is, as I ramble on and on about her.  But she cannot convince me!  She will not convince me!  I’ve seen too much Jesus in her!  When she was weeping over the table her homeless father died on, she wept like Jesus.  When she was singing hymns to her children at night before bed, every single night, she sang like Jesus.  When she prayed over her daughter’s biopsy results, she prayed like Jesus.  And when she forgave the ones who brought abuse to her and her children, she imaged Him perfectly. 
I can never be deceived into thinking my life is lived under the curse of God as long as my “good thing” is near.  She is the best gift, the best Savior could have given His most undeserving creature.  My “good thing” is so good!  Why?  Because my “Great One” lives in her!  Bellissima!  Now, go get your own “good thing”, this one’s taken.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Trip Through Church History with Zsa Zsa Gabor

Augustine of Hippo. 
                Wrote his autobiographical “Confessions” late in the 4th century where he discussed how great a sinner he was, especially his sins dealing with lust.  But the contrast to his great sinfulness was the great mercy extended to him by the God he would serve the rest of his life.
                John the Baptist was another follower of Christ who endured the persecution of Herod Antipas.  John the Baptist pointed out that Herod  was embroiled in a life of licentiousness, mainly stemming from an improper and lustful relationship with his brother’s ex-wife.  For this, John’s head was placed on a platter as a gift to his stepdaughter.
Church politics.
                As a pastor in a local church, it is often that strife and dissension arise in the congregation.  As a result of this strife, it is usually the pastor who is served up as the sacrifice.  30% of pastors are fired each year.
                He was one of the last Roman emperors to persecute Christians before Constantine came into power, making Christianity a legal religion.  He was the first Roman emperor to voluntarily abdicate the throne.
Edict of Milan. 
                In 313, the emperor Constantine passed the Edict of Milan, protecting the religious freedom of all in the Roman Empire.
                The 1st amendment to the Constitution of the United States continues the theme of religious freedom.  It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
                During World War II, 6 million Jews lost their lives because they were not granted such freedom.
The place where the Puritans gathered before sailing for the United States because the country offered a form of religious freedom which they were not receiving in England while protesting the current system of Anglicanism.
Indigenous people.
                As the first settlers began arriving in the New World of America, many indigenous people saw this as a threat to their way of life.  Some killed the newcomers while others befriended them.  Some of the newcomers killed the Native Americans while others befriended them.
                He said in the gospel of John 13:34, “A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Ku Klux klan.
                An organization which claims to have a Christian foundation.  But when measuring them by the words of the One they supposedly follow, it’s hard to see a lynched black man as evidence of the love of Christ.
Love your enemies.
                Probably one of the hardest commands of Christ which He Himself demonstrated on the cross as He said, “Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Them=us.  Romans 5:10, “When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son.”
Me?  An enemy.
                Hard to believe, isn’t it?  But nothing good exists in us.  We are all sinners in need of rescue.  If not, then why did Jesus have to come?  If we can get to heaven because we are good people, what’s this cross thing all about?  It’s the love and mercy of God on sinners like me, you, and Augustine. 
                The emperor of Rome who tradition says lit Christians on fire to light his garden.  He’s also said to be the one responsible for the deaths of Peter and Paul.
Osama-like apostle on the road to Damascus.
                Paul was the apostle who was one of the lead persecutors of Christians of his day.  He was traveling to Damascus to attempt to capture Christians there and throw them in jail.  But on the way, he met the risen Christ and was never the same.  God changed the heart of evil.
Pol Pot. 
                He was the leader of the Khmer Rouge, which killed 2 million people in a mass genocide in Cambodia.  I can’t see this heart of evil sitting next to Paul in heaven. 
Quick endings.
                3 weeks ago, I was pastoring a small church with no sign of trouble.  Today, I am an unemployed pastor.
Remember the Alamo.
                The famous phrase which rallied the Texans to defeat the Mexican army, as they remembered the bravery of those soldiers who gave their lives for a cause they believed in-freedom.  Even though, they were greatly outnumbered, these brave soldiers fought to the end, thereby inspiring a nation.
Saddam Hussein
                On December 13, 2003 the brutal Iraqi leader who killed many people in his quest for power was found hiding in a spider hole at a farmhouse near Tikrit. Mexican General Santa Ana was also found hiding in a marsh the day after hearing the famous battle cry, “Remember the Alamo”, at the Battle of San Jacinto. 
                I attended seminary in Fort Worth, TX.  Alongside some of the best friends of my life, we were  prepared to serve Jesus Christ, knowing that many of us would fall from leadership one day.
                These provide us a means of protection from the constant assault of a steady rain.
Victory in Jesus.
                A hymn that is sung in many Protestant churches, reminding them that even though this world might not offer our best life now, the ultimate victory in Jesus is coming and assured.  Jesus acts as our umbrella in this world.  Not taking away the rain but walking through the storm with us.
What was on his lips?!
                Pastor Schweitzer was a Lutheran minister who was accused of being a German spy and sent off to a Soviet concentration camp after World War II.  He encouraged the prisoners with his words and with his singing.  One day, a new commander of the camp told him to stop his singing.  When he didn’t, he was taken outside into the arctic night and ferociously beaten.   The next day, the prisoners came out to find a giant block of ice in the middle of the courtyard.  The old pastor was sprinkled with water all night and died frozen with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross.
One who fears foreigners.  Isn’t this what we’ve learned on our walk through church history?  Fearing man, fearing ideas that are foreign to us, fearing anything but the only One we are to fear-God?
                What do you fear?  Those unlike you?  One with a different message than you?  Or do you fear God?  The one with life and death and eternity in the palm of His hands.
Zsa Zsa Gabor
                She’s a famous actress who just turned 93, this past February 6th.  She’s about to die and see God face to face.  Suddenly, I digress, and it doesn’t matter that I’m out of a job anymore.  My freedom is found in the forgiveness of Christ.