Finish Strong

finish line hang in thereI’m pretty sure that I’ve passed the halfway point of my life. My math is not that great, but I’m confident that I passed that point a while ago. I was reminded this morning that there is a difference in how you start and how you finish. I’m talking specifically about life – everyone starts and everyone finishes, but there’s a lot of life between the beginning and the end.

I was reading the linage of David this am. I guess I’m glad that this comes after reading about all of the kings and seeing a snapshot of their time as king. David had a successor on the throne of Judah all the way into the exile period. I was reminded of what a strong king David was only to see if start falling off one generation after him. David had a bunch of kids. The wisest man who ever lived was one of them. Solomon was David’s successor as king. Check this out…

10 Solomon’s son was Rehoboam,

Abijah his son,

Asa his son,

Jehoshaphat his son, (1 Chronicles 3:10 NIV)

I went back to see when the Northern Kingdom of Israel split from Judah. It was David’s grandson Rehoboam’s reign when it happened. It started under Solomon though. Solomon is known for his wisdom and riches. He started really strong as the successor of David. However, Solomon was heavily influenced by other cultures and he turned away from the Lord late in his life. He ended up doing evil in God’s eyes. Check this out…

6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. (1 Kings 11:6 NIV)

As I reflect on where I’m at in life, I really desire to finish strong. I’d want the Lord to know my heart completely and I want my heart completely devoted to Him as I finish up my life here on earth. I don’t want my success to trip me up in the least. I want to honor God with any success I have. I want to trust Him more. I want to see His Wisdom more even as I get wiser. I really hate that Solomon ended his life at odds with God who had so blessed him in so many ways.

I’m also praying for my kids – I’m thankful that they all know the Lord. I want them to know Him and follow Him all of their days as well. In life as in so many areas, it’s not just how you start that counts – it’s how you finish. I was reminded of a saying I’ve heard in playing golf : “it’s not how you drive, it’s how you arrive”. That little 18” putt can make a huge difference in the overall game. I’ve decided to meet with the Lord and talk with Him every day asking for wisdom and discernment. I’ve decided that when I do this daily, I can “win the day”. As I string some days together, they become weeks, months and years. Before long it will be the end and I really want to finish strong. The last day of my life, I want to have talked with Him so that when I see Him, He and I will still be “caught up”!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Old & Faithful

happy and motivated old people 3dI really admire older people. They have such great life experiences to share. I’ve learned a lot about what NOT to do from the stories of older people in my life. They can usually tell you what won’t work. Before I go too far speaking about older people, I must admit that I’m closing in fast on that description myself. AARP has already started sending me invitations to join. I’ve resisted for now.

Solomon had such a remarkable journey, but unfortunately he didn’t finish strong. He became unfaithful when he got old. He loved women – lots of women. He had hundreds of wives and concubines. He started following their gods and this became detestable to the Lord. While their culture evidently allowed for multiple wives, I don’t believe that was the Creators plan for marriage.

4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. (1 Kings 11:4-6 NIV)

It’s a bit of a bummer that Solomon had followed the Lord so strongly and then when he got older, instead of getting stronger in his faith, he got weaker. I believe that at every age and stage of life, there will be “voices” trying to pull me away from my faith. I believe the enemy will use anyone or anything he can to erode or destroy my faith.   I believe that temptation will always be part of my journey, but the Lord can provide the strength I need to resist temptation.

Today is my 21st wedding anniversary. Tina and I have built a marriage and home centered on the Word of God. We want to follow Him all of our days. My life and my heart had been hurt deeply, but God made “beauty from the ashes”. I am so blessed and so thankful.

As I grow older, I want to be even more faithful in following the Lord. I want to hear from Him daily. I want His Wisdom to trump my experience and my knowledge. I know that every day I need Him to direct my path and speak into my heart. I’m thankful for my wife of 21 years, who also seeks after the Lord. I am blessed.

IMG_4570Pressing On!

Dwayne

Intentions

 

3D Vision Intentions CrosswordI really intend to start that exercise program very soon. I intend to come for a visit real soon. I intend start my diet next week. Intentions really mean well but without the “follow-through”, they are just thoughts or words with little meaning. I remember someone telling me years ago that “the road to hell was paved with good intentions.”

As I read the story of Solomon building the temple this morning, I realized that he started his reign as king in a really strong way. The Lord offered him anything he wanted and Solomon asked for wisdom and discernment. The Lord poured out not only wisdom and discernment, but also riches beyond his wildest dreams as well. Solomon became the builder of The Lord’s Temple. David had dreams and intentions, but the Lord wanted David’s successor to build the temple. As I was reading this morning, there were a couple of verses among all the descriptive items of construction that jumped out. Check this out…

11 The word of the Lord came to Solomon: 12 “As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. 13 And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.”

14 So Solomon built the temple and completed it. (1 Kings 6:11-14 NIV)

I do believe that he had really good intentions as he was building the temple. He was walking with the Lord. He becomes known as the wisest man to ever live. The fact that I know how his life goes further down the road sort of skews my thinking right now. I realize that Solomon fully intends to walk with the Lord and follow Him fully until the day he dies. This is not how the story ends. Solomon does stray from following the Lord. He marries women of other cultures whose religious beliefs are in direct conflict with him following Jehovah God.

This passage created a sobering thought to me. I don’t want to just follow the Lord for a season of my life. I want to follow Him the entire rest of my life. I don’t want to just trust Him when things are good; I want to trust Him when everything is a wreck as well. I want to keep seeking His heart. As I typed these words, I realized that this is my intention. I intend to follow the Lord fully all the rest of my days. I don’t want to be enticed away by hollow promises or “fake feelings” – I intend to keep seeking and keep pursuing God’s heart.

He inspires my intention to follow Him.

He empowers my intention to follow Him.

He doesn’t operate in the world of intentions – He keeps every promise. My actions reveal what my intentions were in the first place.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Patience & Discipline

Patience concept.These two words don’t always seem to go together, but they might just be related to one another. I have personally struggled with patience in many areas of my life. I want what I want and I want it now. I’ve learned that what is a crisis in my view does not constitute a crisis for the other person. There are times when I’m waiting on the services of others I have to simply be patient.

I also struggle with discipline in many areas too. One area of discipline that is obvious to just about everyone who knows me is eating. I love good food – I really just love food in general. I can eat all sorts of varieties and the problem comes with the quantities. If I find something I really like, I enjoy lots of it instead of just enough. I’m also learning to eat healthy and wise and not so much “fried food”. (This is really hard because fried food is a staple of southern food!)

Saul was 30 years old when he became king of Israel. I’m not sure how old he was when this certain incident happened. The tensions between the Philistines and Israel were at an all time high. Jonathan, Saul’s son had already had a skirmish with them. Evidently Saul was told to wait 7 days for Samuel to come and lead them in the time of sacrifice and offering. I’m assuming this was a time of worship and heart preparation for battle. Saul waited for the 7 days and decided to take matters into his own hands. I think his impatience was directly related to the fear of his men and maybe his own fear. He starts acting in the role of priest in Samuel’s absence. As he is finishing up, Samuel shows up. Check this out…

13 ‘You have done a foolish thing,’ Samuel said. ‘You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.’ (1 Samuel 13:13-14 NIV)

Because of Saul’s impatience and lack of discipline, his future was not as bright as it once was. He was chosen by the Lord to lead His people. He struggled with patience and discipline and it cost Saul his legacy of leadership.

I needed to be “smacked around” a bit by this. I am learning patience and discipline as I walk through life. I’m learning that waiting is sometimes a process of refinement. There are times that waiting can offer such clarity and purpose to a situation. These two are connected in my view, because it takes great discipline to be patient and not get in a hurry and make a foolish mistake or error in judgment. I am really working on letting the Lord speak into my life and give me wisdom to lead and serve. I don’t want to step outside His plan or get ahead of Him trying to serve my own agenda. I want to be in the middle of His timing and feel His nudge in the right direction at the just the right time. This is considerably easier said than done. Situations arise and great pressure is applied, but patience and discipline require me to try to stay cool in every situation and let His plan unfold.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

I Love The Lord

 

Man praying with the BibleI grew up fearing God as this “dictator of sorts” that could strike me with a lightning bolt at any time that I misbehaved. In my mind He was like the all-knowing parent who had no sense of humor and despised people having fun. I realize now that I was wrong on so many levels. I followed God then because I was afraid of hell. I tried to follow all the rules and regulations that He handed down. I totally revered, feared and respected God. I still revere and respect Him today, but I’m not afraid of Him. As I’ve walked with Him, I feel like I know the Lord’s heart. He loves me deeply. He doesn’t want me to love Him and follow Him out of fear. He wants me to know His heart and to desire His will for me. Check this out….

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.

20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. (Deuteronomy 10:12-14; 20-21 NIV)

The Lord loves me in spite of my failures.

The Lord loves me in spite of my sin.

The Lord loves me in spite of my stupidity.

The Lord loves me in spite of divided heart.

I know for a fact that the Lord has a sense of humor because I looked in the mirror this morning. I can also look around at other humans He created among other things!

He is Creative.

He is Collaborative.

He is Consistent.

He is Faithful.

He is Dependable.

His Love knows no ending.

His Patience blows my mind.

His Grace is ridiculous and outlandish.

He is ALWAYS there for me.

He has NEVER left me alone.

I love talking with God.

I love walking with God.

I love living for Him.

He is my closest Confidant. He knows me deeper and more completely than I know myself. He loves me anyway. How could I possibly resist loving Him? I can’t. The more I know Him and learn about Him – the more I love Him. I want His heart to be my heart. If you want to know Him, I’d love to introduce you to Him. You can connect with me at: dwaynehicks@me.com

Pressing On!

Dwayne

God’s Favor & Blessing

God's mercy at the CrossThe longer I live and walk with the Lord, the more concerned I’ve become over what the Lord thinks of me rather than other people. I do care about people’s perception of me, but I care way more about what the Lord thinks. I’ve been lied too; I’ve been lied about; I’ve been hurt by people I thought were my friends; I’ve been used; I’ve been accused; The Lord knows me like no one else. He knows the desires of my heart. He knows the balances of my bank account. He knows everything about me. I care more about what He thinks of me than others. Others perception of me is what they really believe about me whether they know me or not.

His brothers sold Joseph, the son of Jacob, into slavery. His Dad was told he died. The Ishmaelites (distant relatives) had purchased him and then they sold him. Check this out….

1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

2 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. (Genesis 39:1-6 NIV)

I can’t control how others behave, but I can be in charge of my response to their behavior. Joseph had integrity and honor. He held an incredible position of leadership in the household of Potiphar in a very short time. Potiphar’s wife (aka “Hotiphar”, asked Joseph to sleep with her. Joseph knew that what she was asking was wrong in God’s eyes and he said no. He was loyal to God and his master Potiphar. When she didn’t get what she wanted she made up a story against Joseph and he was thrown in prison. Check this out…

20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (Genesis 39:20-23 NIV)

As I move and live in my many functions as a husband, Dad, teacher, REALTOR & friend – I want the favor and blessing of God over anyone who knows me and works with me. I want my walk with the Lord to overflow out of my everyday life in every quadrant. Joseph’s integrity deeply inspires me to be known for knowing the Lord and having His favor and His blessing all over me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne