Stages Of The Journey

Maturing personSometimes when I reflect back on my life’s journey I see different stages of my life. The things that I was working through in each of those stages look so different from this stage of my life than they did at the time I was in that particular stage. For example, when my first son was born…if I knew then what I know now. As I review these stages much can be gained by this reflection. It can bring a lot of joy to my heart, but here was also struggle that caused great pain.

Moses was instructed by God to record the stages of the journey of God’s people upon leaving Egypt. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the massive number because there were likely over 1 Million people in their group when they left Egypt. When they camped somewhere along the way, it was a big ordeal.  Moses records 41 camping stops in the 40+ years that they were nomadically traveling through the desert.  The people of Israel are at the threshold of the new land promised to them by God himself. Moses is instructed by God to give them some instructions for taking the land. This is a very important stage of the journey. Check this out…

50 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho the Lord said to Moses, 51 ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. 53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54 Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes. (Numbers 33:51-54 NIV)

As I reflect on my journey upon leaving home upon graduation from High School…

I went to what is now Johnson University in Knoxville, TN.

I married a young lady from Newnan, GA and lived in a Campus Apartment.

I began a weekend ministry near Crossville, TN.

I accepted the position of Youth Minister in Maryville, TN and lived there 2.5 years.

I accepted the position of Youth Minister in Whitesburg, GA and lived there 5 years.

I accepted the position of Youth Minister in Carrollton, GA and served for nearly 12 years full-time and 3 additional years part time. I went through a divorce while serving as youth minister in Carrollton – a dark and painful experience. I was held together emotionally by some dear friends whom I treasure to this day.  I also remarried during a couple of years later to my wife Tina and we celebrated 20 years this past May. It was my understanding that if I left Carroll County Georgia that I would have to give up custody of my children so I started a new career path as a REALTOR. I do feel that the Lord is present with me today 13 years later.

The Lord is coaching me along the path I’m on. In many ways, He is more real to me now than I can recall on other parts of the journey. I also believe that the many things I learned at different stages of my journey have built me into who I am today.  Nearly 5 years ago, we felt called by God to adopt an 11 year old boy from Nicaragua. This experience took me to a whole new level of understanding the heart of God.  

I’m simply a child of the Most High God who follows Jesus, husband to Tina, Dad to my kids and I strive to be the most professional, hard working REALTOR on the planet! I can hardly wait to see what this stage of life will look like when I’m looking back on it. I’m holding tight to the Lord’s hand through the rest of my stages in life! 

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