Inspire A Stranger

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Blog by Kristen Hicks

So I have a challenge for you guys! I The Lord has been talking to me a little lately about being unseen. I feel like we all go through a season, if not multiple seasons (some even our entire life), that we feel overlooked, forgotten or unseen. I am actually learning this to be a good thing. When we find ourselves doing things that we don’t get noticed or applauded, we can shift our minds and our thinking to a heavenly perspective. We are placing our hearts and our minds in a position of finding our worth in the eyes of the Father not in the eyes of man. So once again, it is counter-culture. It feels backwards and goes against our flesh not to do things to be seen by man. However, the joy that is awarded to us by the Father, when we do things His way, is unmistakably more amazing! He looks upon us with a beaming smile and joy, as we begin to look more and more like His Son. He’s a proud Father! Not because of what we do or don’t do, but simply when we turn our eyes and hearts to Him and view ourselves in the reflection of His eyes. You won’t be able to help but be moved with compassion to inspire, serve, and love on others, not for any approval at all, but because you know whose you are and you know you are loved and seen and heard by Him! And because you are moved by your love FOR Him!

So my challenge is this: Go get before the Father, stay there until you see His smile! Stay there until you can look yourself in the mirror and KNOW you are His child. Then go inspire someone else, and pour out this new found joy that you have found in the Father’s eyes. Here are some ideas just to get you started:

  • Make a meal for someone
  • Volunteer at a local charity
  • Go buy things to put in the Little Food Pantry
  • Write a letter of appreciation to someone.
  • Write our a scripture, a prayer, or just encouraging note and leave it somewhere for a stranger to find.
  • Be a secret friend to someone. Find out something unique about them and buy them a special prize.
  • Bake someone cookies!!!
  • Visit a senior center and “adopt” a grandparent and just sit and talk with them.
  • Learn to crochet or knit and make blankets for a local shelter
  • Pick up liter in a park
  • Tutor a student that is struggling in a particular subject
  • Give someone a hug that looks like they need one.
  • Give someone a laugh
  • Let someone go in front of you at the checkout line or in traffic
  • Send out encouragement cards to whoever the Holy Spirit puts on your heart.
  • Mow someones lawn
  • Go through your closet and take whatever your don’t wear or use anymore to a local shelter.
  • Pick up lunch for your spouse and take the kiddos to the office and eat lunch together
  • Pay for a coworkers lunch
  • Offer to take an elderly person to a doctor appointment and keep them company.
  • Invite someone to dinner that you wouldn’t normally hang out with
  • Pay for a stranger’s meal
  • Give someone a flower
  • Randomly offer to babysit a friends children for a few hours
  • Send a text prayer to someone that the Holy Spirit has been laying on your heart.

Enjoy!!!

A Prosperous Prayer

 

MoreI need to say that I don’t subscribe to the so-called “prosperity gospel” or “name it; claim it”. I know that there are those who teach and believe that. I do believe that God can do anything He pleases. I just don’t find it consistent with the Word that says, once you put your faith in God everything will be good. In fact, I think the opposite is quite common. I do believe that the Lord wants me to be prosperous in love. He wants me to be prosperous in serving and giving. There are those who have become prosperous financially and it did not derail their faith. Of course, there are many stories of the contrary as well where financial prosperity ruined relationships and destroyed lives. Prosperity is a relative word. I’ve been to some incredibly poor countries and people were prosperous. I’ve been to some wealthy communities where people were starving for prosperity. I have prayed this prosperous prayer from Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi many times. Check this out…

And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ,11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:8-11 CSB)

I keep praying this prayer over my wife & children as well as my entire family.

I prayer this prayer over my company.

I love praying this prayer over my customers and clients.

I think it’s wise to pray for wisdom.

I think it’s wise to pray for discernment.

I think it’s wise to pray before acting on an issue.

I’m praying that I will walk in wisdom and discernment that is dripping with love. I want to be prosperous in profound love for God displayed in my genuine love and respect for others.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Work Ethic

 

Waiter with trayI work on purpose. I work to provide for my family and myself. I like food with my meals! I also see work as a service to others. I’ve worked all sorts of different jobs as I grew up. I learned first to work in the hay fields and tobacco fields of Kentucky. I learned what an hour’s worth of work was all about. I’ve made fast food hamburgers. I’ve worked in food service as a cook. My parents taught me to give honest work to whomever I worked for. When fast forward through my time in student ministry to my years now as a REALTOR – the principle is still the same. I need to give honest work to whomever I’m working for. I see the real estate profession as a service profession. I think it’s even more important to hold myself accountable to others in how I work and serve my clients and customers. My work can serve and minister to others. I came across this passage from Paul and it reminded me why I work. Check this out…

Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord. (Ephesians 6:6-8 CSB)

I try to serve with a good attitude even if others have a bad attitude. (This is not easy and I fail miserably at times.) When I serve as a REALTOR professional – I’m actually serving the Lord while helping others. I feel like I’ve been blessed by the Lord as I continue to look for ways to serve others as well as my community.

Physicians, nurses, and other health care professions serve others with knowledge and care for the sick.

Attorney’s, judges & law clerks serve others in need of the justice system and navigating the complexity of the law as to the Lord.

Police, Firefighters and EMT’s serve others desperately in need of protection or rescue – as to the Lord.

REALTORS, Property Managers, bookkeepers, support staff all can serve others who are seeking help with housing as to the Lord.

This list of professions could go on to include every profession on the planet. Everything I do and everywhere I go the Lord sees and knows – He holds me accountable and He can be served in any profession or career choice.

I believe that when we serve others, we can navigate more efficiently the nuances of relationship. If I’m there to be served, I have certain expectations and demands of others. If I come to my work relationships and situations with a serving perspective, the whole experience can honor the Lord.

I work at the pleasure of Creator God who built me and wired me to serve Him while serving others.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Imitator

 

I grew up imitating others in tons of ways. I remember as a kid trying to figure out my laugh, probably because someone made fun of how I laughed. I adjusted a lot of things to be like others. I imitated my Dad when I was young until I “got smarter than Him” – around 13 years old. (Total sarcasm.) When I was in my early to late teens, I became a bit of a chameleon. I would act like whoever I was with. If I were with Christians, I could play the part. If I were with some of my wild and crazy friends, I could hang with them too. Chameleons are that little lizard that changes his color to blend in to whatever environment he’s in. I also imitated great singers and musicians. I look back at seasons of my life and I always wanted to be someone else or something that I wasn’t. I finally got comfortable in my own skin several years ago and I’m thankful for who I am and Whose I am. I don’t try to keep up with others and impress them with my possessions or knowledge. I simply want to be who God called me to be. I want to honor Him with my life and my daily choices.  I love how Paul urged the Ephesians to live out their faith. Check this out…

1 Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 testing what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:1-2, 8-10 CSB)

I want to love like God.

I want to give like God.

I want to think like God.

I want to counsel like God.

I want to imitate God in my daily life.

I want to learn from others, but I want to imitate the Lord. I want to finish my journey here on earth walking, talking, loving & living like God, Who made me. He gives me life. He gives me purpose. He is patient. He is loving. He is kind. He is full of grace and mercy. I so want to imitate Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

And Then I Realized…

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Blog by Kristen Hicks

Yesterday, I woke up kinda late, actually. I had stayed out late at church the night before and I had no real plans for Sunday, so I let myself just sleep in a little. When I finally woke up I had a text from my friend Kourtney. It said, “Hey girl, I’m going on an adventure if you wanna come.” That’s it, that’s all she had to say to me. I…WAS…IN!!!!! I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes, packed my backpack and headed out.

If adventure was a love language, I’m pretty sure it’s one of mine. Then add some spontaneity to it?!… YES, JESUS… Bring it on!! Kourtney said she wanted to climb a mountain. So we drove up to North Georgia, and hiked up Mount Yonah. Neither one of us had ever hiked there before, so that added to the excitement of it.

It was only about 2.4 miles up, but what I personally had overlooked was that one little word… “UP.”

YA’LL!!!!

I mean we were climbing a “mountain”, “DUH!!! Of course it was UP!!! Come on, Kristen!!!! What were you expecting?!”

But wow!!! You know that moment when your heart starts beating so hard that you can feel in your ears? That was what I felt… the entire way up. It was crazy! I kept thinking that I would hit that point of breakthrough, when it seems like everything in your body regulates and is finally on board with what you are doing and you feel like you could just go on forever and ever, but it never came. (I know, I’m not in the greatest shape, but I also don’t usually feel THAT out of shape.)

However, when we were getting pretty close to the top, I realized something. Jesus was trying to teach me something. Of course! I kept hearing the word “endurance,” (the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.) Then the book of James suddenly comes flooding to my mind:

“Dear brother and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” -James 1:2-4 NLT

The Message puts it like this:

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

I really want to share my heart with you guys in this!

So lately, I feel like I really, really want to run! Away, that is (don’t go trying to sign me up for a 5k). I have been experiencing some pretty crazy anxiety lately. There is a restlessness in me that I can’t quite put my finger on. Kinda like I’m climbing a mountain and my heart is beating so hard, I can feel it in my ears.

I know anxiety, is just fear. But I think the scariest thing about having anxiety at times, is not really knowing what the fear is? You just know something is off. You start feeling the need to slow down and take breaks often, because you know if you don’t, it may overtake you. I keep hoping for the breakthrough, and although moments happen that seem like breakthrough, it never actually happens.

James is reminding me that faith is like your heart muscle. When it is pushed, it is shredding the muscle that is there to build it up stronger so that you can endure more. What sticks out about the Message version is when it says, “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.” Oh, prematurely, ouch!

“So basically, Lord, you are saying that I can’t run away?! That I can’t just stop here?! I can’t just do something else instead?!”

The moment on the mountain that my heart slowed down was when we finally got to the top. The view was BEAUTIFUL!!! It was quiet, it was peaceful, it was a masterpiece! It was in that moment that we could see the big picture. We could see the parking area, the place we had started. We could see the storms and rain showers in different places all around us. We could see everything it seemed.

It was in that moment that I realized what makes an adventure an adventure. The actual definition of an adventure is this: “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” It’s something that gets you out of your comfort zone, it’s something that pushes you to do or go beyond what you thought you could, it’s something that will make your heart beat hard and fast, it’s something that has some kind of accomplishment or reward in the end, and it’s something that will take your breath away.

I think that’s why James said to consider it a sheer gift of great joy. Because it is a gift and there is joy in it. The breakthrough is joy! And sometimes you have to push yourself to endure and to climb all the way up, with your heart beating loudly in your ears, to finally reach the breakthrough and see the big picture! It is a masterpiece of true beauty as a whole! Not settling for the pretty scenery that was “close enough” to the top! The joy is at the top and it truly is a gift!

So although, I’m still working through anxiety, I will consider this season I am in an adventure with Jesus. Allowing Him to push me, allowing Him to challenge me, allowing Him to shred the muscle of my heart, my faith, and produce a greater endurance within me because as the saying goes….”And then I realized, adventure was the BEST way to learn.”

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The New Me

 

Behind the maskMy family has enjoyed the movies “Despicable Me”. Despicable Me 3 is in theatres now. The word DESPICABLE means: deserving to be despised, or regarded with distaste, disgust, or disdain; contemptible. That is how I used to be. When I look at who I used to be and how I used to act – I was despicable – especially in the Lord’s eyes. He loved me when I was despicable. I love the book of Ephesians. Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus and he speaks clearly about how things should be. Check this out….

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. (Ephesians 4:20-24 CSB)

My problem is that I revert to my despicable life rather than stay and live in this abundant, joy-filled life that He provides. He has changed me and the old Dwayne no longer lives – the new Dwayne is grace filled because I’ve received grace. The new Dwayne is forgiving because I’ve been forgiven. The new Dwayne loves deeply because I was loved first. I want to live and walk with the very Spirit of God over-flowing out of me. I want to not be quick to anger like the old despicable me.

I am confident that there are lots of despicable people in this world who need a new start – a new life. Jesus has changed every area of my life and I’ve forever different in a good way. I’m not longer living a despicable life (even though I stumble backwards some days) – I’m living with hope and a future that is incredible!

Pressing On!

Dwayne