Humbled & Grateful

cartoon1So last evening, I was honored as the 2018 REALTOR of the Year for the West Metro Board of REALTORS. I am humbled yet grateful for the honor. I’m thankful to serve my fellow REALTORS and I’m thankful for my wonderful clients and customers whom I get to serve their real estate needs. I believe it’s a call from the Lord to serve others. I find much joy in serving others. The Lord knows my strengths and my weaknesses, and He uses me anyway.

I read a bit of Paul’s journey and he was simply an open book before everyone. He was willing to share his victories and his embarrassing mistakes. He realized that the Lord was in charge of his life for sure. Check this out….

So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 NLT)

I want to daily surrender all of my opportunities and my success before the Lord. I want Him to be seen in how I conduct myself in whatever situation I find myself. I realize that I like to have fun and laugh a lot. I also want to have the courage to stand up and speak out when I seem something that is going in the wrong direction. I don’t want to be timid when it comes to leading. I also don’t want to be arrogant and proud of any position I hold. I believe leadership and notoriety should be held very loosely because it’s temporary and subject to change. I want to spend my time working on following the Lord closely and when given any honor or opportunity, I will give Him all the glory for shaping me into who I am. When I am weak, He is strong. If I’m strong, He gave me the strength.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Credentials

diplomaI have a few educational credentials acquired over the years. Upon graduation from Adair County High School (home of the fighting Indians) in 1979, I headed for Knoxville, Tennessee. I attended Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University TN) and graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies and Preaching. I promptly entered the ministry as a Youth Minister. In 1993, I graduated with a Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from West Georgia College (now University of West Georgia). I love learning. In 2003, I graduated from Barney Fletcher School of Real Estate with my real estate sales person license. In 2006, I graduated from Barney Fletcher School of Real Estate with my real estate brokers license. I love learning and growing. I’m still learning and growing. I’m thankful for technology that makes my truck a classroom via Podcasts that I listen to daily. I heard a quote from Dave Ramsey that went something like this: “your degrees are worthless, but your education is priceless”. Please don’t interpret my educational background as boasting or self-promotion. I would trade it all in just to know the Lord more fully and to make Him more known to others. My education is worthless if I don’t know Him. My education might make for a better life, but it doesn’t do anything for my eternal life.

Paul was “hammering” the Corinth Church regarding the fact they were impressed with credentials of others. He broke it down for them and then pulled it together to make his point. Check this out….

23 Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

30 If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27,30 NLT)

Paul’s teaching and his example are profoundly simple – he doesn’t boast to make himself look strong, He gives examples to make Christ look strong. I am humbled to think about the multiple times the Lord has forgiven me for my stupid choices. I am so weak, even if I appear so strong. He knows all about me. He knows my thoughts. He knows my selfish heart. He knows my powerful ego. He knows everything, and He still loves me. I want to lay down all of my credentials at His feet. I want to pick up His credentials and be consumed with knowing Him and making Him known. His credentials embraced by me, prepare me for eternity and dramatically enhance my life while I’m here on earth.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Commendation & Boasting

Fantastic Job!!!I have met people before who seem to think more highly of themselves than they ought. They could also be called arrogant and full of pride. I think there are probably times most everyone has be guilty of this. There are some who appear to have a DNA filled with arrogance. I believe that our pride and arrogance is a huge detriment to living honorably before the Lord. If I’m arrogant, I obviously think I’m something special. It’s the Lord Who makes me what I am. I should not be prideful of anything that He as blessed me with. He should get all the credit for whoever I’ve become or who I am.

Paul writes to the Corinth church in his second letter speaking about his authority from the Lord. He defends his authority within the boundaries set by God. Check this out…

17 As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

18 When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18 NLT)

The passage of scripture Paul is quoting about boasting come from Jeremiah. Check this out…

23 This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
    or the powerful boast in their power,
    or the rich boast in their riches.
24 But those who wish to boast
    should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
    who demonstrates unfailing love
    and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
    I, the Lord, have spoken! (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NLT)

I like to be commended and bragged upon as much as the next person. I need to be sure to give the Lord credit for any good that comes from me. Without Him, I’m not capable of anything good. I need to be humble and grateful for any kindness shown to me by anyone. The Lord shows me kindness and grace that is much more than I deserve. I would rather be known by the Lord than to be known by millions of raving fans. The desire for fame and notoriety can be addictive and destructive. I am happy to live and serve wherever the Lord calls me to serve. I want to live my life for His purposes and goals and not my own. I’m thankful that He has saved me and chosen to make my heart His home.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Different Kind of Harvest

planting gardenI love spring time even though we are not quite there yet, we are getting closer every day! The jonquils are blooming in Georgia and that means spring is very near. This morning I read a passage about planting and harvesting a different kind of crop. It was a lesson that I had heard many times, but I was challenged to plan further out each time.  Paul uses the analogy of a farmer planting seeds to teach about giving. Check this out….

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need, and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, 

“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
    Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-9 NLT)

I realized that for a farmer to have a good crop later this year, he must plan now. He must organize and measure the fields, prepare the soil, get the seeds ready to be planted at just the right time. In all of this, the farmer taking a risk with his time and resources. His crop is then at the mercy of sunshine and rain in appropriate doses. He can’t control either of those. The farmer decided to plant and is certainly hopeful for a harvest. If the same farmer never organized, prepared the fields or planted, he would be an idiot to expect a harvest. This is an ancient axiom – “You reap what you sow” (Galatians 6:7-10 NLT -The Apostle Paul).

Paul is talking about a different kind of harvest. He is talking about a harvest that I may never get to take part in. I’m planting seeds of giving that will bless someone else so that they will turn their thankful hearts to God. I believe giving should be done with anonymity as much as possible. I believe that people who give to be noticed have received their reward -notice by others. On the other hand, people who give because they are called by God will be noticed by Him and rewarded by Him quite differently.

Giving is a way of “paying it forward”. Giving is blessing others with no concern over reciprocation.  Giving with a thankful heart, produces eternal blessing. Giving with a self-centered, “look at me”, produces temporary blessing. I call that “giving with strings attached”. I want to grow in my giving and generosity, not so that others know and will be impressed. I want to give from a generous heart for the Lord, because I know Him, and He can use people like me to bless others that I don’t even know. That is a different kind of planting and a different kind of harvest. This type of giving is incredibly different than some of the giving I’ve done in the past. I need to keep my eyes on the eternal effects of my “seed sowing” type of giving.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

“Your Love Flows Through” Song Story (“The Barn” Album)

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Blog by Kristen Hicks

The older I get, the more I realize that the things I want to cling to the most in my life are the simple things. Those things that seem foolish in the eyes of the world. The things that make me feel the most whole, the most myself, the most alive. They remind me that I’m actually breathing—that I am here in this moment whether I realize it or not.

I am pumped about sharing this song story this week, because, I did something the other day that woke me back up. And one of the most beautiful things about it is that it parallels with this song story. :)

I am the type of person that needs, yes NEEDS, adventures. I need to be outside, to do things that scare me, to have no plan, no concept of time and to live in moments labeled with “just for the heck of it.” Last week, I decided that I was WAY overdue for one of those moments. So I kept my Friday opened and planned to drive down to the beach, watch the sunset and turn around and come home that night. The closest beach that actually had a sunset on the water was Panama City and I also know that area pretty well, so this easily became my plan.

I woke up on Friday morning and got hit in the heart with fear and anxiety. Thoughts were swarming through my head as I wrestled with actually following through with this seemingly irresponsible plan. “What if I get a flat tire? What if it rains and there isn’t a sunset? Is this fear because the Lord is trying to tell me this is a bad idea? I’ve never driven that long completely by myself, what if I fall asleep? What if the Lord doesn’t show me anything?” I don’t tend to live in the “what if” world but sometimes, because I’ve been in situations that could have been really bad, it gets a hold of me. I decided to go before the Lord and ask Him what He thought. After some gentle encouragement from Him, I decided it was worth pushing through the anxiety I felt and going for it. I knew if I didn’t do it, and allowed fear control me, I would regret it.

As I started driving, I was immediately reminded of my trip to Mississippi. It was a little different leaving for that trip because I had no idea when I would come home. However, all the same fears were there. I remember being in the car and literally begging God not to leave me. I needed Him, more than I felt I ever had before. I didn’t just need Him to be my Savior either, I needed Him to be my Friend. I needed Him to be Someone who was WITH me, not just for me. (Although, I know He is all of those other things as well.) That trip is something I am still learning from. I could literally write an entire book on it. Every day was something different, some new twist, a turn of events, a new level of trust. It was everything I hoped it would be and also everything I’d hoped it wouldn’t, but I learned more about the nature of God, His character, His heart, in those 5 weeks than some people get to in a lifetime. And for that, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

There was this one particular day that I think back to all the time. I had just found myself at yet another dead end of trying to figure what I was doing out there and every subconscious plan that I had cooked up in my mind had surprisingly failed. I was out of options, out of ideas, and I will never forget the feeling of hopelessness I felt. So I did literally the only thing I could do, I drove. I drove until, I came to a dead end road, and there was a boat ramp. The irony of this is uncanny. I parked my car, got out, grabbed my camp chair, set it up on the boat ramp and sat down.

Completely baffled and a little confused at what I was looking at. It was a dried up lake. The interesting thing is, other parts of the lake I had seen on my drive in, were not dried up. There was something about this section that was broken and in order to fix it, it had to be drained, completely. As I sat there staring, I heard the gentle whisper of the Lord, “This is what you look like right now.” I was little caught off guard, that wasn’t exactly what I expected Him to say.

It wasn’t until later that night, that I was able to actually sit and process what He had said. I realized that this whole thing was pushing me to believe something new about God. This was the conclusion I came to in my blog entry that night.

“I guess my point is, the Lord knows us! He knows what great length He has to go through to get our attention and correct us. Apparently,  for me…it’s making me drive to Mississippi to show me a dried up lake. :-) But ya know, kinda makes me feel a little special. Because not only is He going to such great lengths to get my attention but also to show me how great His love is. He wants me to get it THAT much!”

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I keep coming to this same conclusion. In fact, this was the similar conclusion that He brought me to on my drive to the beach. He wants to love us like this. He wants us to answer His call, that brings us out of our comfort zones, away from our day to day routines, against any rational and all practical thinking and beyond ourselves, into the unknown of trust. He wants to love us in the radical, relentless, ruthless, reckless (and any other “r” word, apparently) ways that only He can. He wants to love us out of our stuff and into His purpose— into simplicity, dependency, wholeness and actually breathing again. Being ever present, savoring the increasingly, precious moments that we have on this earth, to learn what means to be loved and to actually know Love, and to let Love Himself overflow within us and out beyond us.

The way to do this? In everything we do, we give Him space and the freedom to be Who He is and what He wants to do. We find the courage to let Him love us and then His love just flows through us. Period.

“How can I ever understand this, how can I make it on my own.

You say You love me, O God please don’t leave me alone.

Your peace surpasses understanding, and joy runs deep into my soul.

So even though I can’t see the road, I still believe in what I was told. 

You go before me, You stand behind me

Every step I take You placed in front of me

And through my weakness, You shine Your faithfulness

So in all I do I just let You be You

And Your Love flows through

I hope I never shake this feeling, how can I keep it to myself

Cause, Your love is overflowing, my heart is beating out my chest

Every breath that I breathe, every word that I speak, every song that I sing

Through Your strength, I will stand, and I will lift up my hands, giving all that I am, as Your love flows through.”

Honorable

Honesty Sincerity Integrity Virtues Reputation Megaphone BullhorI really like this word. It is a word that has become a mantra that I want to live by. The word honor brings with it high respect, distinguished, distinction & consistent. To be honorable is to cultivate a lifestyle with these characteristics. My heart was moved when Paul tells the church at Corinth about being honorable. Check this out….

 21 We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable. (2 Corinthians 8:21 NLT)

Paul writes this when he and his companions were trusted with handling the offering given from other churches. I believe handling someone else’s money requires great care and great systems of protection in place. I learned early in my real estate career how important trust is in this field. When there is a lot at stake, I want the most trustworthy and honorable person possible assisting me.  I believe Christ followers should be above reproach, honest and honorable.  I’m going to let this small verse settle into my heart. This is part of my personal mission statement. Several years ago I put my mission statement into writing. I now use it in my email signature.

My Mission Statement

It is my mission to serve others with the highest professional care and skill while upholding the highest of ethical and moral standards. My highest goal is to honor God in all I do and that includes serving you.

Pressing On!

Dwayne