“Oh, Isn’t It Just Like God”

Sunset chaser

Blog by Kristen Hicks

Mind. Blown.

My most favorite stories in life, at times, are the ones I can’t tell you about. They are the stories that haven’t fully happened yet. The ones that are full of hope and fueled by faith. The ones that the outcome is solely dependent upon the Lord coming through— in and through them. The ones unseen to everyone else around me—sometimes I can just feel it, sometimes I can just see it on the horizon, sometimes I just know. Not because of any preconceived notion, I know because of who God is—because of what His heart is like and what He has promised. These are the stories that start with scary prayers. There is no plan B.

Redemption.

This is the word that keeps coming to my mind. Sometimes, I’m not sure we understand this word until we are right smack dab in the middle of living it—until we realize just how much we need Jesus, that we can’t do it on our own; we cannot redeem ourselves.

Redemption is the process of restoration. You cannot be truly restored until you first have been redeemed. 

To be redeemed, a price must be paid. Freedom isn’t FREE. I don’t ever want to get over that—I never want to misinterpret it or take it for granted. That’s what makes the gospel so incredibly powerful, yet vulnerable. It’s a love story. A story of pursuit. That nothing, NOTHING can stand against LOVE and His BRIDE. Nothing can come between. Nothing can separate. The price isn’t too high! The war is worth waging! No sin too great!

He births beauty from ashes. He makes ALL things new. He heals.

I found myself this morning, realizing this truth, this reality of His heart in my life. Tears filled my eyes as I began to reflect on story after story, of how I found myself in a situation— in a struggle— and then in a timing that only an all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, Creator of ALL things, can do, He busted into my life and He simply redeemed. He restored—and He continues to do so. What blew my mind even more, is how many times I could count, that He would come through down to an exact day. The details never go unnoticed to Him. There is rhyme, reason and rhythm to everything He does.

He has never once stopped His pursuit. It is unfailing. Even when, I disobey, even when I mess up, even when it takes me one thousand times to get it right. He continues to call, He continues to woo, He continues to teach, to stretch, to mold, to move. He calls Himself LOVE and that love is unconditional, but it isn’t over-looking. It isn’t blind. It doesn’t look the other way. No, that kind of misrepresentation doesn’t exist in Him. No, His love is fierce, ruthless, reckless, relentless, wild, jealous. It takes our mess-ups, our short-comings, our neglected, over-compensated, disappointed, messy hearts and lives and creates a masterpiece. One that is rare— it has never been seen or heard of. An original.

This is a gift, not a right, not an obligation. It is simply a proposal. One of Holy matrimony. One of true beauty, grace, purity and freedom. And as He gets on one knee, with the biggest grin on His face, and the sparkle of a million stars in His eyes…He asks. And with one word, flowing off the tip of my tongue, my whole world turns completely upside down…YES!!!

That was all He was looking for. That was all He wanted. With a jolt of joy, I find myself being overtaken into a dance with Him. One of courage and confidence. He spins me around and around, unraveling me from every fear and lie that has tried to define and cripple me. He leans me into a dip and without hesitation I surrender to Him. Trusting Him, not only with my soul, but with my heart, with my whole being. The more we dance the more I learn the steps to His ways; I am completely undone by Him. This isn’t just a night to remember. It’s not just a moment that takes my breath away. This is how it was always meant to be. This is His heart. This is His intention. This is redemption!

“Oh, isn’t it just like God, to turn our disappointment into a dance floor.”

-Amanda Cook

Connected

Technology in the handsI am a huge fan of wireless technology. Whenever possible I use Wi-Fi, which is simply a name that tells me if there are wireless capabilities to a network. I think it’s pretty crazy to think of all the “wireless connections” in the air around us. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to see them all like tiny laser beams in the air. I know it would blow my mind. I have to be close to a Wi-Fi connection in order for it to work.

As I journeyed through John 15, I see that Jesus gives a connection analogy that reminded me that I need to be wired to Him. Check this out…

1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (John 15:1-8 NLT)

In a crazy sort of way, I’m directly connected to the Lord. I realize that I’m not “physically connected”, but I need to be “spiritually connected” to Him. I need to be in close proximity to Him at all times. He is the ONLY Connection that promises me both abundant life here and eternal life after this life. He is the ONLY connection that brings peace, joy, comfort, direction and hope. I don’t ever want to lose my connection to Him. Without my connection to Him, I am nothing. He has built me and made me who I am. He built me for connectivity to Him. He is the reason I’m alive. He bears fruit in my life and through my life because I’m connected to Him. It’s certainly NOT because I’m great – It’s all Him!

I intend to remain “wired” to Him for the rest of my life. He is the Source of strength, direction, hope, grace, mercy, patience & love.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Advocate

LawyerThere are occasions where I’ve needed an advocate. This is someone who speaks for me. My advocate needs to know everything about me so that they can defend me and direct me. An advocate provides a different perspective – they see different solutions for my situation. An advocate can be an attorney, a spokesperson, a friend, a counselor, parent, sibling or co-worker. I am thankful for my earthly advocates. I came across a small passage in the Gospel of John this morning where Jesus is promising an Advocate. Check this out…

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. (John 14:15-17 NLT)

Jesus is talking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a foreign subject to them but they will soon learn first-hand about the Holy Spirit’s Power and Presence in them. Jesus is giving them a heads up. He is also trying to comfort them because He’s leaving them to return to the Father.  I believe that they were probably pretty emotional about His leaving them and the Holy Spirit is to be a Presence and an Advocate.  As I’m writing this, I’m also thinking about how as a Dad, I’m also and advocate for my kids. As a husband, I’m an advocate for my wife. I’m also an advocate for my friends, my clients, customers, agents & employees.

I’m thankful for my Advocate (aka The Holy Spirit), who gives me counsel, direction, comfort, peace by His Presence.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

(Note: As I was writing this yesterday, my youngest son woke up early and came into the living room and sat with me and talked. I realized again what a blessing to be his advocate – so I published this a day late. It was worth it. #advocate)

Servant Leadership

 

Lead By ExampleI’ve experienced this “different style of leadership” recently. It is a leadership style that puts the person leading in a role that seeks to serve the very people he/she is charged with leading. It is way different than the standard “dictatorial leadership” that I’ve seen the most often over the years. This style of leadership features a leader with empathy, understanding, boldness, gentleness, love, respect & competency all wrapped up in one person. I see servant leadership as investing. I also see servant leadership “coming alongside” instead of “top down” barking orders. Servant leaders are not necessarily “push-overs” either. Servant leaders are on a mission that is crystal clear to them. They have a different road map to get the job done and they seem to enjoy the journey while leading.

I came across a passage of scripture that I’ve noticed many times before, but I saw it a bit differently this morning. Jesus knows that His time here on earth as a human teacher is just about up. He is getting ready to have dinner with His team of leaders/disciples one last time before He’s betrayed. Check this out…

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:12-17; 34-35 NLT)

Servant leaders lead by example.

Servant leaders care about the people they are charged with leading.

Servant leaders create excellent culture in the place they are charged with leading.

Servant leaders create a “serving culture” with their company’s clients & customers.

Servant leaders bring empowerment to their team by example and investment.

Jesus set the example of servant leadership. He came to serve instead of being served, yet He was the “highest ranking individual” on the planet. I am inspired to lead like this. I am more of a “door holder” than a “door mat”. I want to motivate and inspire others to lead by serving. My career as a REALTOR is really a servant leadership profession. I should never approach my clients/friends and customers with a “know-it-all” attitude, but rather a teaching/serving spirit. I think any workplace and profession benefits and excels under servant leadership.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Impress

 

Wow Surprised Word Astonished SurprisingJust about everyone I meet makes some sort of impression upon me. Some impressions are positive and some are negative. I must also realize that I’m actually making some sort of impression upon them – either positive or negative. Some folks are always trying to impress others by how much they know or how important they are. Others seek to impress by what they wear or how they carry themselves.

A friend of mine used to describe some of the prideful, arrogant as “impressed by themselves”. He also said, “if you could buy them for what they are worth and sell them for what they “think” their worth, you could retire tomorrow.”

I know that I should be trying to impress the Lord with a heart that seeks His heart. I believe if my heart is right, my actions follow from there.

Jesus was speaking to many people about Who He was and what He was trying to do while He was here on earth. And there was a sad statement in the narrative that I think is still happening today. Check this out….

42 Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. 43 For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. (John 12:42-43 NLT)

I must admit that I do like human praise. I like it when people compliment me on something I’ve accomplished. It is very dangerous to lean into those accolades and compliments. I must stay grounded in Who I belong to. I must remember that without the Lord, I’m nothing. I can’t get pride-filled and arrogant. I must remember where my hope is.

Some people even today desire human status rather than eternal hope. I’ve seen young people “chunk their faith” to be liked and accepted by college friends or co-workers. I think that I’m often so “short sighted” when I try to make an impression on one person at the expense of another. I should be simply trying to impress the Lord with a humble and hope-filled heart. I should seek to love like He loves. I should care way more about what He thinks of me, how I look and how I carry myself, rather than what others think.

I heard a great line yesterday that said: “I’m not trying to impress you with my story, I’m trying to impress upon you the joy in the journey”.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

If Only

 

ApathyI have used those two words together way too often. I used these two words mostly to “second guess” a decision or choice that I made. “If Only” often carries with it regret over something that was left undone or unfinished.  If only is related to “looking back” and how I can have 20/20 vision. If only comes along when I have new information and new options that either I didn’t have or didn’t see previously.

Jesus came to the earth as a baby born of Mary a virgin and He was raised in a Carpenter shop. He began His earthly ministry around the age of 30 and set about teaching and hanging out with a select few for the purpose of bringing glory to His Father. His actions were often misunderstood or misinterpreted then. We have the privilege of seeing His actions as well as the reasons behind them. This is nearly impossible when things are happening in “real time”.

Jesus’ friend Lazarus had recently died. He had gotten word that Lazarus was sick, but chose to stay where He and His team were ministering. Mary, Martha & Lazarus were dear friends and He often stayed with them when He was near Jerusalem. They lived in Bethany, a few miles outside Jerusalem. He then headed toward their place. When He was just outside the village, Mary & Martha got word He was coming their way, so Martha goes out to meet Him. Check this out…

20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”  (John 11:20-27 NLT)

The first thing Martha said to Jesus was “If Only”. She was grieving and hurting. She had been with Jesus and knew of His healing power because she had seen with her own eyes. She believed that Jesus could have healed her brother. Jesus had more than “healing” in mind. He was about to “blow their mind”.

This is the first time that Jesus calls Himself “the resurrection and the life”. This is a bold claim for sure, but Martha that she believed that He was Who He said He was. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He took His ministry to a whole new level. He also explained that He was hear for the Glory of God. I haven’t always understood how God can uses hard times, hardship and suffering for His glory. He can use the sudden death of a friend for His glory. I don’t always understand this, but this truth is woven throughout the pages of His Word. He is always pointing to eternal life as the “end goal”, not just life here on earth. We are here for His Glory, not our own. It’s hard to understand this concept when we haven’t “been there and done that”.  Eternal life is a mystery to us. It is not a mystery to the Lord. I can’t always explain the reasons things happen, but I do believe that I can find a way to give the Lord honor and praise in every situation. I don’t want to call on Him in regret (if only), I want to call on Him with respect and trust to help me walk through any circumstance that I face.

Pressing On!

Dwayne