Simple Faith

 

faith messageI have grown in my faith over the years. I remember trusting the Lord when I was a kid. I was baptized when I was in third grade. I grew up in a family full of faith. My parents and grandparents followed the Lord. Going to church was not optional for our family. We were very involved. I remember “pushing the envelope” and trying some things that were against our family rules. I learned later that my parents knew more about this than they acknowledged. When I went away to college and had freedom from my parent’s rules and regulations, I had some decisions to make. I can still remember where I was sitting on the evening when my faith became my own. I was watching a passion play at Johnson Bible College and I saw Jesus being punished for the sins of the world. I remember renewing my faith in God at that moment. I believed in God on my own. I had lived off my parent’s & grandparent’s faith up to that point.

Hebrews 11 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible as the writer pulls the old testament characters into the context of the new covenant. These men and women brought much inspiration to millions over the years and their faith was simple and thorough. The writer speaks about this simple faith and its significance to my journey with the Lord. Check this out…

1 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.For by it our ancestors won God’s approval.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:1-3,6 CSB)

I believe faith is simple, but not necessarily easy. Faith is easy to talk about and even write about, but harder to live out. I believe that my faith is much like a muscle, the more I use it, the stronger it gets. Over the years of my life, I’ve leaned into my faith because I didn’t see any other options. I’m not in charge of the weather, the economy or even others. I do know the One Who is charge of EVERYTHING and I trust Him. He has walked with me through some dark valleys. He has protected me in some major storms of life. My faith grew profoundly during some of the darkest days of my life.

My simple faith reminded me of “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I want my simple faith to impress the Lord. I want to grow in my faith today as I live out what I say I believe. James reminded me that my faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) I want to work and live because I’m saved, not so that I can be saved by my works. I trust that the Lord created the earth and is preparing a place for those who trust in Him. I want to spend the rest of my days discovering more of Who God is and walking in simple faith before Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Word Of God

Holy BibleI am convinced that my life’s journey became more focused and clear when I decided to start my day with the Word of God. I’m not a theologian. I’m not a bible scholar. I’m a husband, dad, teacher & REALTOR who wants to be a student of God’s Word. My perspective has changed a lot over the years. I believe my journey in God’s Word has reshaped my heart to be more like His. I have a lot of growing yet to do, but I believe this daily discipline, as simple as it is, has had a profound impact upon my life.

I came across one of those passages that I remember from years ago. It affirms the power and significance of the Word of God. Check this out…

12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. (Hebrews 4:12-13 CSB)

I started writing a journal of sorts after reading a passage. There was nothing complex about it, I just wrote about what “jumped out” in the passage that I read. I underlined or highlighted in my Bible. I started this journal process for me. I wanted to remember at 3 PM what I had read at 6 AM to start my day. I wanted the Word of God to live in me throughout the day. I was a bit surprised at how it stuck for longer periods of time – all because I journaled about it. My blog became part of the process later. I felt like the Lord prompted me to share my journey in His Word. I’m not sure when I started this – (I guess I could look it up), but it’s blessed my life to share my journey. I feel called to be in His Word every day. I share my journaling because I believe He asked me too.

I wish I could adequately describe the profound impact my daily journey in His Word has had on my life. I wish everyone who read the words of my journey would try reading His Word daily for at least 30 days. My life has never been the same since. I’ve had hardship and suffering, but I keep coming back to the Word of my Creator – His inspired Word. His Word brings comfort. His Word brings clarity. His Word tells me how to be saved. His Word introduced grace and mercy. His Word tells me all about Jesus. God’s heart is revealed in His Word and I want to know His heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Special Training

Smiling sport child boy showing hand biceps muscles strengthSeveral years ago, I used to work out regularly.  I would take my lunch hour and go to Sportsplex and lift weights, working out the different muscle groups, mostly in my upper body. I participated in a Boot Camp that was a high energy, cardio work out. I told someone the other day, as I gestured toward my upper body, that this is what happens when you quit working out. Muscle will deteriorate and fat will take over when workouts cease. Unfortunately, I can be the poster child for this season of my life.

Recently, my wife and I downloaded FitnessPal onto our smart phone. This is a “calorie counter” & fitness tracker app. The first step in diet and exercise is to discover what I’m doing. I’m trying to keep track of everything I put into my mouth. I’m also tracking my physical activity. Who knew that table tennis and jet ski riding could burn calories! I remember a friend of mine used to say that he was never going to take up jogging, because he never saw a runner with a smile on their face! He also used to say that being in great physical shape is overrated because you can still get hit by a truck and die.

I came across a passage this morning where Paul was speaking to the significance of a different type of workout regimen. Check this out…

But have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness. For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. 10 For this reason we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:7-10 CSB)

I have been training in godliness for quite some time now. I’m not sure when I started this blogging/journaling of my journey in God’s Word, but it has made a HUGE difference in my life and in my perspective. I have felt the Lord speak into my life in powerful ways just by simply setting aside time each morning for my spiritual training/workout. I want to keep my eye on eternal life while I live out the abundant life here on earth. I don’t want to be so “heaven bound” that I’m no “earthly good” to anyone. I want to keep growing in my faith as I train in His Word daily and make application to my life.

I’m working at adding a physical element to my spiritual workout – a prayer walk. I walk a good bit throughout the day (thanks FitnessPal), but I want to be more intentional about walking with the Lord and seeking His Wisdom throughout the day.

All My Hope Is In Jesus  – Crowder

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Follwership/Leadership

Follow Lead Buttons Show Leading The Way Or FollowingYesterday was a special day for me and my journey with the Lord.  I started serving as a young pastor in 1982 at a small church in Crab Orchard, Tennessee while a student at Johnson University. I served there a little over a year before accepting a position as youth minister in Maryville Tennessee. I spent the next 20 years as a staff member in ministry the bulk of my time in Carroll County, GA. I have been privileged to serve at Southern Hills for the past 10 years in different capacities. Yesterday I was ordained to serve as an Elder at Southern Hills. I believe church leadership to be a calling from the Lord. I feel like I’m serving the Lord in this capacity, because it’s HIS church. Just this morning (timing) I read a passage in 1 Timothy that speaks to this position. Check this out…

1This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy. He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) (1 Timothy 3:1-5 CSB)

When the Lord is leading me, I feel confident and competent to lead others. I have multiple degrees and diplomas from “University of Hard Knocks”. I have lots of experience with failure and bad decisions. I’ve learned things that simply don’t work. Some of what I’ve learned is from observing others. Leading in any area of life or work is also about following. There is much to be learned from the people who came before us and the person or persons we are ultimately answering too. I am standing on the shoulders of some amazing men and women of faith who poured into me as a youngster, even as a grown man. I’m humbled and thankful as I reflect on my journey with the Lord at this point. I will continue to be a follower of the Lord who leads. I think the sequence is important.  I want to live my life with a heart abandoned to the King of my heart. I want to seek Him above wealth, fame or any other “success measurement tool” we can use.  To God be honor and glory in me and through me for all my days.

Heart Abandoned by Kristian Stanfill

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Wishful & Hopeful

Man Sitting On Bench During A Beautiful SunsetWishful involves want and desire. Hopeful also involves want or desire, but has the ingredient of expectation. Optimism involves both words. I am generally an optimistic person, but I also try to be a realist. I don’t have to be hopeful about doing something I already know how to do – I can be hopeful about improvement. I play guitar, for example – there is always room for improvement and I’m still growing with my instrument. Hopefully I can get better, but it’s wishful thinking if I don’t even attempt to improve.

I wish everyone could know the Lord and walk their life out with Him. I want others to know the peace that His Presence brings. I know that there are some who’ve “written me off” for my faith. I’m ok with that. But I hope that they will one day see that this is not just some goofy idea that I or someone else came up with. There is a Creator and He loves His creation (all of us) and He longs for a relationship with us.

Paul makes a passionate plea in his second letter to the church in Corinth. Check this out…

14 For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. 15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 20-21 CSB)

While I wish, everyone knew the Lord, it doesn’t work to push my faith “in their face”. I’m always happy to discuss why I believe in the Lord. I am not ashamed of knowing the Lord and I don’t make apologies for my belief. My code of behavior comes from Him. My kindness comes from Him. My integrity comes from Him. My love for people comes from Him. My journey in His Word has helped put my convictions in concrete. I put these words from my journey because I’m hopeful that others will investigate this Love that God has for all of us.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Simple Blog History

 

Man praying with the Bible
This Picture captures how I want to approach God’s Word – humbly listening, seeking, reading.

I looked back on the history of this blog that I mostly call “my journey” that is housed here at www.dhicksonline.com. I began posting this blog/journal around 2009. I didn’t post things I had written right away. I started journaling about what I read in the Bible each morning. It really helped me to remember what He said throughout the day.  I don’t always understand the prompting of God’s Spirit, but I’ve learned to listen and tune in. I felt like He told me to share what He was saying to me with others.

This morning as I came across this chapter of Paul’s letter to the Corinth church, he describes how I often feel in my blog.  Check this out…

1When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 CSB)

I do not consider myself a theologian or a deep thinker – I’m just a grown man (55 and counting) seeking to know God more fully each day that I live.

I do not consider myself a prolific writer – I simply put down here in digital form what God is saying to me each chapter I read. (I’m super thankful for “spell check” and Microsoft Word!)

I know me. I know my thoughts. I know my words. I know my actions – I am profoundly grateful for grace. I am humbled that the Lord continues to forgive my stupidity and recklessness. I am so thankful that Jesus came to earth to become the Ultimate and Final sacrifice needed for all sin – including mine. I pray that any words I write from my journey introduces others to Jesus. I can’t imagine navigating the struggles and suffering that come along in this life if I didn’t have Him with me.

My daily journey begins with a quick shower, fresh (often freshly ground) Columbia coffee. I just started reading through a relatively new translation of the Bible called Christian Standard Bible (CSB) I began to really love the Word of God again many years ago by reading “The Message” by Eugene Peterson – it is the Bible in today’s language. I still love hearing how he states certain passages. After I’m awake, I ask the Lord to speak to my through His Word and I read one chapter and simple let Him speak – some would call it meditation. It’s not super complicated. I highlight/underline anything in that chapter that speaks to me. I then write a few words about how that spoke to me. There are a few themes that occur in my journey: Grace, Love, Mercy, Presence, Power, Prayer….I could go on and on, but some of these reoccur.

I’m thankful that my blog has encouraged and even inspired others when they read. I’m a bit concerned that some use this as their spiritual devotion with the Lord – I hope He’s tugging on your heart to know Him more. I promise that this is not super hard or complicated. The Lord longs to meet with me and all His children. He loves fellowship with His kids much like I love connecting with my kids daily.  I believe the thing that changed my perspective and has drawn my heart to the Lord’s heart, is making this a daily practice. I am determined to follow the Lord with my whole heart. I don’t check email or anything before I listen to Him speak. If you are still reading this installment of my blog – I wish for you to know the Lord and hear Him speak. He has given me great clarity for my life journey.

If you have no idea where to start, pick up a copy of The Message and ready the Gospel of John and notice Jesus. I also love reading the Psalms in The Message too. I’m so thankful that I’m loved by God and that He and I talk regularly. I try to listen way more than I talk to Him. Please discover Him for yourself – let Him say what He wishes into your heart. I wish everyone who ever reads or stumble across my little blog sees Jesus. I want them to know the joy of knowing Him and living for Him above all else.

Pressing On!

Dwayne