Called To Serve

Waiter with trayI still remember the pivotal night in my life when I believed that God was real and that He was calling me to serve in His Kingdom. I was 18 years old and I was watching a part of a passion play when Jesus was crucified. I had been living off the faith of my parents and grandparents up to that point. I remember telling the Lord that I would go where He wanted me to go and do what He wanted me to do. It was a life-changing event for me and my faith became very real. Fast forward to today and I believe that the Lord is calling me daily to serve in His Kingdom. Some circumstances beyond my control happened and I felt called to serve my children and in order to do that, I would need a different career path. I landed as a sales person in Real Estate nearly 15 years ago and I’m still being called to serve others even today. I believe that Real Estate is a serving profession. My calling from the Lord is still in place today, even though my “day job” has changed.

Jesus had just been baptized before going into the wilderness to fast and pray. He comes out of that experience ready to begin His ministry. He first goes home to Nazareth. I think He was connecting with His mom before His ministry began in full force.  He then starts building His team of disciples. Check this out…

18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind. (Matthew 4:18-22 NLT)

I believe that the Lord still calls people today to serve in His Kingdom. I believe He calls people to serve others every day. I believe He opens up opportunities every day. A call from the Lord is deeply personal. A call from the Lord can also be public as in being part of His church called to serve in our community.

I believe that the Lord also equips people He calls to serve. He told Peter & Andrew that He was going to “show you how to fish for people”. He calls us and equips us to serve.  I’m part of something that is way larger than I can see or imagine. I need to be faithful to keep serving where He leads and calls me to serve.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Called

Phone vector  iconsI sometimes have a hard time explaining to someone how God called me. I can’t say that He spoke to me in an audible voice like I would do to call one of my kids. He didn’t have someone else call me. He does use others to speak into my life for sure, but I felt like He called me to be right where I am. I believe the call of God is the direction He wants to give me. He wants to lead me in my daily decisions. He wants to lead me in my life changing decisions. I believe the call of God comes directly from my relationship with Him. He’s probably called me a lot more often than I realize, because I wasn’t listening due to the “noise” in my life. Check this out…

17 Let each one live his life in the situation the Lord assigned when God called him. This is what I command in all the churches. 

22 For he who is called by the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called as a free man is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of people. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person is to remain with God in the situation in which he was called. (1 Corinthians 7:17, 22-24 CSB)

I believe that the Lord calls me daily through His Word.

I believe the Lord calls me daily through His people.

I believe the Lord calls me daily through places I go.

I believe the Lord calls me daily as I listen to Him speak.

God’s calling on my life, no matter what He calls me too, is Holy because He is Holy. I believe sometimes just resting can be a Holy Moment. I believe that the Lord calls me throughout the day to listen sharper and more intentional to Him speaking into my heart. I believe God calls us all the time, but we’re often to busy listening to ourselves that we miss His call.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Adopted

Adoption Word Cloud Concept in red capsI’ve learned more about adoption in the last 6 years than I’ve known my whole life. When my wife and I decided to be open to adoption of a young kid in Nicaragua over 6 years ago, we had no idea what the journey would look like. The adoption process is very detailed and every area of our lives was investigated before approval was given. Since our adoption was an international adoption, there was another whole layer to it. When all was said and done, we were successful in completing the process and we added to our family our son Lucas. He is such a smart kid, funny, fully of life and fun to be around. He is now a senior in High School and the Lord only knows the plans He has for this young man.

Adoption is not always easy. There have been hard moments on Luke and us as his parents, adjusting to one another. I believe that at times like that we have to show grace to one another, keep our eye on the big picture and move on. I also think it’s important to “lean into” the call of God.

Mordecai was the uncle of Esther, but he had taken her as his own daughter. She was entered into the contest to possibly become the next queen. Check this out…

7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

8 When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem.

17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality. (Esther 2:7-8; 17-18 NIV)

This young adopted niece of Mordecai was chosen to be queen of Persia. She did not reveal her family Jewish heritage. She had overcome the death of her parents and adjusted to being adopted by her uncle.

I believe adoption is a real physical picture of being saved. I am “adopted” into God’s family and Jesus becomes my brother. When my wife became an instant Mom (stepmom) to my three oldest children 21 years ago, she loved them unselfishly and constantly. We had to learn some new ideas about parenting. Then when Luke came along 15 years later, we had more new things to learn about parenting. I love my family and the journey we’ve been on. The Lord is clearly orchestrating some special places for my kids to serve. I love the fact that Mordecai never made the success of his “daughter” about him. He encouraged her, advised her to help her become successful. As I read this incredible story, I can see the hand of God throughout. I want the favor of God and the hand of God upon my family as He continues to write our story. We set out to save one kid through adoption, but the process saved us and is still teaching us about the heart of God.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Moved

FSU vs Duke FootballWhen I go to a football game, I can’t help being moved by the excitement of the game. I’ve never been a person who goes to a game and remains calm and stoic not really caring which teams wins. I usually choose a team and root for them. I have been to concerts to hear good music and had my heart moved deeply by the story behind the song. I’ve experienced real life suffering and cried out to God in deep pain and had my heart moved. I believe that God can use any circumstance He wants to move my heart and He often does.

I began my journey through the book of Ezra this morning. I read where the King of Persia, Cyrus offers to help the exiled people of Judah return. He even returned the articles that had been taken from Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. Check this out…

5 Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites – everyone whose heart God had moved – prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. 6 All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. (Ezra 1:5-6 NIV)

I was struck by the one phrase…”everyone whose heart God had moved”. I believe that the Lord longs to move my heart every day. He wants me to notice what He notices. He wants me to see the pain and suffering that He sees. He wants me to become involved in the lives of others to help them see Him. I also believe that there’s a principle here: If God moves my heart then my hands and my feet need to start moving wherever He called me to go. If God tells me to stop whatever I’m doing, I need to stop. If God tells me to speak, I will speak. If God tells me to rest I will rest.

I wish I could explain how and when the Lord speaks. I most definitely hear Him through His Word. I also hear Him through prayer. I also hear Him through the prompting of His Holy Spirit. I have found myself talking to the Lord about a situation or circumstance and the action I need to take becomes really clear. I believe He prompts me like that. It’s not always easy to explain to others why I moved when I did, but if the Lord prompts me to move – I’m moving. I love the song by Toby Mac called “Move”.

If the Lord tells me to move today then I’m on it.

#obedience

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Ordination

Man praying with the BibleI was called by The Lord to do ministry many years ago. I was ordained for ministry in my home church – Roley Christian Church in Casey Creek, Kentucky. There have been so many wonderful people cross my path in my years of ministry. I believe that I learned a lot about the Lord while teaching and leading others to know Him.

As I read this passage in Leviticus this morning, I was reminded of my ordination service and others that I’ve been blessed to be part of. Moses is passing on the instructions for the special time of ordination. It’s pretty long and detailed instructions. There were several animals sacrificed. Check this out…

31 Moses then said to Aaron and his sons, “Cook the meat at the entrance to the tent of meeting and eat it there with the bread from the basket of ordination offerings, as I was commanded: ‘Aaron and his sons are to eat it.’ 32 Then burn up the rest of the meat and the bread. 33 Do not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for your ordination will last seven days. 34 What has been done today was commanded by the Lord to make atonement for you. 35 You must stay at the entrance to the tent of meeting day and night for seven days and do what the Lord requires, so you will not die; for that is what I have been commanded.”

36 So Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord commanded through Moses. (Leviticus 8:31-36 NIV)

When I was ordained to formally be set apart for ministry, I remember that there were three elements of the service: a song service, a charge, the laying on of hands by the Elders. There were many times in ministry that I would get discouraged and I would lean into the call of God upon my heart and I would remember the charge at my ordination. I participated in a few ordination services and as I was reading this passage of Aaron’s ordination I reconnected with some of the elements of the charge I gave to my oldest son Andrew when he was ordained. Here are the main charges:

Be a Man Who Leads

Be a Man of God

Be a Man of Vision

Be a Man with Thick Skin & A Soft Heart

Be Man of Perseverance

Be a Man of Hope

I remember that as I gave that challenge, my heart was re-charged to continue serving wherever I could and whenever I could. God’s Kingdom work is a “high and holy calling”. We serve the One Who created everyone and everything. We deliver hope to the hope-less.

I believe that everyone who follows Jesus becomes a minister/servant on His behalf. I don’t think we need to depend upon the “paid professional Pastors/Ministers” to be the hands and feet of Jesus. That calling is upon all Christ Followers. I have noticed that the Lord wants to use me in all sorts of circumstances and situations because I am willing to serve for His sake.

When I surrendered my life to the Lord – I entered a field of ministry on His behalf.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Called

Man praying with the BibleI’ve been called on the phone. I’ve been called for dinner. I’ve been called names. I have also felt called by God. I can’t explain, “called by God” very well. I remember well the moment in my life that I believe in God based on my journey and not that of my parents. I was serving dinner as underclassman at a banquet given for the Senior class in college. I was watching the Passion Play about the last week of Jesus life. As I watched the crucifixion live that night, I felt the Presence of God come over me. I was broken because of my sin. I was so blown away by the incredible love and grace of God. I had believed in God up to that point, but that was the point that I believed on my own. I “owned my faith” from that point on.

It’s weird that I wanted to be a “preacher” since I was in 3rd grade. I preached my first “sermon” at age 14. I had it all figured out. As I went to college to become a preacher, the Lord got hold of my heart and I told Him that I would do whatever He called me to do. My senior year I was a part-time pastor at a small church in Tennessee and I started meeting with the youth on Sunday night before church. I really like hanging with them and seeing them learn and grow quickly. I didn’t know it at the time, but the Lord was preparing me for a call to be a student pastor. I really feel like that my first year in ministry I was really as “student pastor” to about 5 kids at Crab Orchard Christian Church while preaching for the adults.

The prophet Jeremiah was called by God and it sort of freaks him out. Check this out….

4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’
6 ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’
7 But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:4-8 NIV)

 

Dwayne HicksFeeling called by God to do anything is important. I really want to know that I have the Lord’s favor in everything I do. After spending 20 years in student ministry, I started a career in real estate. I had gone through divorce several years prior and had shared physical custody of my children and full legal custody. If I left Carroll County, GA I would have to go back and renegotiate custodial situation. I did not feel called to leave my children. I felt called to be a Dad before anything else – including being a student pastor. I remember the discussion with my children when I resigned my position at the church I was serving. I told them that my job would change, but my faith in the Lord was as strong as ever. I would still “walk out” my faith daily. (The picture here is from my first photo shoot to market myself as a REALTOR. I used the tag line “Call me and start packing!” I get a chuckle out of this now – I was so very young – lol!)

I’m not really sure when I first started writing down my journal of how the Lord was speaking in my daily reading of His Word. I love my time in the quiet of the morning with Him speaking into my life through a simple verse or verses. I want to be a good listener as He speaks. I write this journal of my journey for my relationship with the Lord. I felt called at some point to share what I write via my blog. If the Lord tells me to stop I will stop. If He tells me to go a different route, then that’s what I’ll do. I don’t ever want to stop hearing the Lord call me or speak into my life. If this call that the Lord has placed on me helps others know Him and see Him – I’m so humbled by that. He still leads me and speaks into my heart.

Today I’m a Real Estate Broker of the largest independent brokerage in West Georgia and I couldn’t be more thankful for the team of REALTORS that I serve the public with. I believe that the Lord used my first 20 years in student ministry to prepare me to be a business leader. It’s sometimes difficult to hold your tongue in the midst of a tough or difficult situation. It’s pretty much always easy to know what the right thing to do is. It’s not always popular, but I really try to seek wisdom from the Lord to lead in every situation. I feel called to be right where I am and I’m so thankful that the Lord keeps that clear for me. If He decides to call me to do something different, I plan to follow Him wherever He leads.

Pressing On!
Dwayne