Captive

 

ball and chainWhen I think of the word captive, I think of prisoner of war or a kidnapped victim. I don’t think positively of captivity or being held captive.  I have read horror stories of people in captivity. Being captive is not usually a positive experience. The Apostle Paul talks about being held captive by the Lord. He speaks in very positive terms. Check this out…

14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us. (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NLT)

I’m a volunteer captive of the Lord God. I’ve surrendered to His Will for my life. This volunteer captivity is not like other captivity. I’m actually rewarded while in captivity. I have freedom inside this captivity. I have hope within this captivity and no hope when I’m outside His captivity. He uses me willingly while I’m in captivity. I realize that to others who don’t know the Lord, this seems like a “jacked-up mess”, but it’s really not. I surrendered my heart to Him many years ago and my heart is willingly in captivity to Him. I realize that this is quite the paradox, but He has changed my life when I became captive to Him. He is using me in ways I never dreamed of. He is speaking through me. He is giving me opportunity after opportunity to serve in His Kingdom. I’m so thankful. I’m experiencing real peace in this voluntary captivity to the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Rely Upon The Lord

Praise at sunsetThere are all sorts of activities seeking my attention every day. I can’t possibly avoid them all. I do think I can keep a proper perspective on all these shiny new objects clamoring for me to take a look. My attention is an important part of who I am. Who or What do I give attention too? I have 24 hours in the day and part of that I’m sleeping. I have to choose what to do with the hours of my day. I have the kind of job that can require a lot of intensity in short bursts and then it seems to slow down. I’ve learned the value of a steady investment into my business each day, even with the bursts of busyness.

I was reminded this morning that who I am and all that I do is really dependent upon the Lord. He is the Giver. He is the Comforter. He is the Prince of Peace. He is the Savior to the world. I must revisit my perspective of relying on Him very often. Check this out…

We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. (2 Corinthians 1:8b-11 NLT)

I’ve tried things my own way and failed miserably. I have ignored His prompting and His direction for my life and had loads of regret. I believe that I need reminded often that relying upon Him is the most profound act of obedience for me. I can do nothing without Him. I used to think I could do nothing of “significance” without Him. I came to the conclusion after several attempts, on my own, that I can really do NOTHING without Him. I want my life to be in harmony with His Spirit inside me. I want the choices I face and the decisions I make to be wholly dependent upon Him. I depend confidently upon Him for each detail of my life. I rely on Him to help me be the best husband I can be. I rely on Him to help me be the best Dad I can be. I rely on Him to help me be the best friend I can be. I rely on Him to help me be the best REALTOR I can be. It’s not super complicated, in fact, it’s simple. I didn’t say it was easy, just simple. I’m leaning today into the two simple verses from Proverbs that speak to relying and trust upon the Lord. Check this out…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

“Battle Cry” Song Story (“The Barn” Album)

IMG_4275

 

Blog by Kristen Hicks

“Am I an idiot, Abba?” This was seriously the first thing I wrote in my journal tonight. It’s 1 am and I can’t seem to make my brain stop with this question. So, what better time than to write out a song story. “Battle Cry”, well, that seems fitting for my current thought process. I know good and well, that the Father does not think I’m an idiot; but lately, I do. Humbled? Maybe that is the “better” term in His vocabulary. It seems like every turn, every twist, every situation I find myself in, I also find myself humbled, corrected, feeling almost like a fool even. I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what you want to hear, I’m just not sure of anything anymore. Nothing except Him.

This is one of those songs, I sing often. It’s a song I belt out when I feel attacked, discouraged, out of control, and yes, a straight up idiot. Why? Because it has a way of realigning me with the Truth—not with myself. There is something about boldly proclaiming who He is rather than focusing on who I’m not at the moment.

“You are the Great Deliverer, releasing me from my chains.

You are the Grave Redeemer, and I find freedom in the midst of my shame.

You are the Triumphal Leader, strategic in all that You do.

You are the Almighty Protector, and I will rest beneath the wings of Your Truth.

No bondage or slavery can captivate Your Victory, no weapon is a match to Your Sword

No trial or suffering can compromise Your Majesty or the Peace that You bring to the war.

So I will stand my ground, even when the walls fall down, I will let my allegiance be known 

And I will lift my eyes and with a battle cry, I will lay down my life at Your Throne.

You are the Merciful Forgiver, Your Blood has covered all my sin.

And You are the All-Powerful Healer, and You speak life into the weakness of men.

No shadow or darkness and fool The Light of Holiness, no tongue can avenge Your Great Name.

No sickness or struggle can mask the power of Your Love, as You bind up the broken and lame.

Hallelujah, no grave can hold me down.

Hallelujah, I will fight till creation resounds.”

Yes, there is something about belting out the truth of Who He is, that makes me forget about who I’m not. There is something about standing on His Promises that makes me fall to my face in surrender. Because I know, I really know, that the greatest weapon, the greatest defense, the greatest way to fight battles, of the mind, of the heart, of all the things going on around me, is to surrender and let Him fight for me.

I have gone to bat with this song more times than I could count. It truly is my battle cry. It was written right before, the hardest season, I’ve ever had to walk through thus far. But I have often found that the Lord is faithful to go ahead of us. He knew I would need a song to claim when all the walls around my heart, and in my life fell down with one quick, but very hard blow.

In the last year, I was in my room one day belting out this song, when the Lord decided it needed a little something more.  

“I won’t stop, running after You. I won’t quit though they want me to.

I will lift my voice louder still and praise Your name for all to hear.”

The words literally fell out of my mouth. Every single time I sing this part, I feel like it’s the Lord’s way of teaching me to take a jab at the enemy. Because, although his agenda is to steal, kill, and destroy, I instead get to say, “I will NOT stop and I will NOT quit. In fact, I WILL sing louder, and I WILL praise more!!!”

So, tonight, I’m holding onto this. Not looking at myself— trying to figure out if I really am an idiot or not— but I will lift my eyes and look at Him as I come before Him humbled and in awe of Who He is, and I will surrender to Him— all the things I am and I’m not.

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On Guard

security guardI’ve entered into situations that I wasn’t sure was safe. I’ve been to homes trying to show where there was a dog, that was “friendly” and wouldn’t bite – I was on guard. I’ve been with people who appear harmless, but something just “felt weird” so I was on guard. I see being “on guard” as a preparatory phase prior to “fight or flight”. On guard means my awareness is the highest alert stage.

Paul was reminding the church at Corinth in his first letter to be on guard regarding attacks on their faith. Check this out….

13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT)

This is a simple couple of verses that packs a powerful punch. I think he is reminding the church to be on guard against assaults on their faith. I think he is reminding them that they will battle fear. He is also reminding them to lean into the strength and Presence of the very Spirit of God. He wraps a bow on it as he says, “do everything with love”.

When I read this I felt encouraged, inspired and motivated. My faith must be proactive. I can’t be passive. I have to be aware that I have an enemy and he wants to steal, kill and destroy my faith. He wants me to cower in fear. He wants me to “wimp out” instead of lead on. He wants to fill me with hatred, jealousy and envy. I have to be keenly aware and on guard as the enemy uses many approaches to come at me. It’s like I need an alarm system that trips when the enemy makes a move on me.

I believe that the Word of God prepares me to be on guard. I’m reminded in His Word that the enemy is real. I’m reminded of his schemes and his tricks. I’m equipped with the powerful Word of God that equips me daily.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

100% Death Rate

DevastatedI realize that this heading is not exciting and inviting. I do believe it to be the truth. I’ve not been around as long as a lot of other people, but I realize that 100% of the people living on earth will die OR the Lord will return and take His followers to eternal life (aka Heaven). As I get older and my body aches and my mind “slips a gear” every now and then I’m reminded that my goal is to finish strong in following the Lord. I’m trusting the Lord with the rest of my life. He’s been in charge of my life up until this point. I often thought I was in control only to learn that The Lord was. My wife & I went by the grave site of her grandparents the other day. It was sobering to remember how much we loved them and how much we missed them. I had just told my brother the other day how much I missed my grandparents. I am so blessed to have had godly influences like that. I want to make sure that I’m still investing in my children and grandchildren to leave a heritage of faith like they did.

Paul seeks to encourage the church at Corinth regarding life after this life. He reminded us that death was a gateway or transition into our eternal life. I really like how Paul explains things even though He hadn’t yet experienced this. He was writing this inspired by The Spirit of Creator God. Check this out….

40 There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies.

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (1 Corinthians 15:40,42-44,56-58 NLT)

I don’t know when my life on earth will end and it really creeps some people out to think like that. It is wise to prepare for death, but not to live in fear of it. The Lord has removed the sting of death and ushered in hope. He has really calmed my heart down. I will admit that I still have little fear spikes every now and then, because I’ll be facing something that I don’t know much about. It will be a new experience.

I am doing my best to live my life enthusiastically and with confidence in the Lord. I want to embrace and fully take in the relationships I have with friends and family. I want my life here to bring Glory to God and not to me. It is hard to swallow when a young person dies what appears too soon. I want to keep trusting in the Lord regarding this because I know He’s not surprised by anything or anyone.  I want to become stronger and immovable in my faith.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Encourage, Inspire & Motivate

 

Diverse group of people learning and studing together.

I have been a follower of the Lord since 3rd grade, if I was 7 years old, then I’m coming up on 50 years of walking with the Lord at some level.  I grew up in a home where going to church wasn’t an option. I remember hearing the stories of Jesus and how He loved others. I also remember hearing about our enemy, the devil and how he wanted to get me to do bad things and follow him straight to hell. I must admit that I was more afraid of going to hell than really understanding God’s love for me. I followed the Lord out of fear of hell. That fear didn’t stop me from still doing stupid things. I am thankful that the Lord was patient with me as I tried things that were fun at the time, but the consequences could have ruined my life.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly came face to face with grace. I had heard that word, but not nearly as much as I heard about all the things I must do right. Grace doesn’t give me permission to do wrong, but grace does give me second chances for sure. Grace finds me and makes things right with the Lord. Just the fact that I now understand grace has been a huge win for me. I can’t remember the preacher, author or teacher who explained that to me, but I’m sure thankful I now understand. I don’t walk around guilty and hopeless. I now live my life with hope and confident in the Spirit of God.

I believe that prophesy, according to the Apostle Paul is simply to speak as the Spirit leads regarding my life with the Lord. I believe God’s Word is true and with His help, I’m living according to His Word. Out of my journey, I can share words of encouragement, inspiration and motivation. I don’t write this to promote me, I write this to promote the peace that I have in Him. I think that there are misunderstandings and misinterpretations regarding prophesy in our churches today. Prophesy is from the Word of God and the very Spirit of God, not from a human being. Prophesy is truth spoken through a human as directed by the Spirit of God. It should not be super mystical, in my view. It should be super clear and understandable. Check this out….

1Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy.

32 Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people. (1 Corinthians 14:1,32-33 NLT)

I don’t want to be misunderstood. I’m not trying to get into a “church argument” or a “doctrinal dispute” with anyone. I’m not trying to mislead in any way. I think I and others have often made knowing the Lord appear that we are in a different class. I want to humbly live out my faith and encourage others to come along with me. I will “prophesy” about sin and call it out in my life and in others as the Spirit of God leads. If you’re reading these words and you haven’t surrendered your life to the Lord fully – I pray that you seriously consider this sort of change. Instead of me being in charge of my life, I’m giving that over to my Creator. He leads me to live for Him. He leads me to serve others on His behalf. He leads to me to speak on His behalf. It’s not some fancy, “hoity toity” calling. It’s simply speaking truth in love. He does the encouraging, inspiring & motivating through me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne