Test Trials

 

Child in medicine maskTest trials are also known as “Clinical Trials” and these are implemented when trying to find a specific drug or medical protocol that will attack a certain disease or illness. These are tests of sorts and often, they are “last ditch efforts” to help fight certain types of disease.

The book of James comes out of the gate with some crazy ideas regarding trials of life and suffering. This is a different kind of test. Check this out…

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

12 Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-4,12 CSB)

I’ve been through a few trials and suffering in my life and I did not think they were great joy. I will submit that the trials and sufferings built somethings inside of me that weren’t there before. I admit that I was pretty “ticked off” at God because of the trials and suffering, but then when I settled down, I realized that He would not leave. He would walk with me through the trial and He always has a different perspective on my trials from where He “sits”. It is very easy to lose perspective during a trial.

I believe that God has taught me things during trials and suffering that I couldn’t have learned any other way. I learned a lot about me and what I was “made of”. I also learned a lot about the faithfulness of The Lord. He is so patient and understanding while I’m reeling and frustrated. He holds me when I’m hurt and angry. He sits with me when I can’t even talk. I have a different perspective completely on all of life. I want Him with me as I celebrate the joy of life and I know He will be with me when I’m in a trial time or suffering time. He helps me make lemonade out of lemons. He helps me navigate through the dark ally of trial and struggle.

In the middle of one particular trial this song blessed me. “Let Me Feel You Shine” by David Crowder Band.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Priesthood Trumped

Jesus man of joyJesusI am not making a “play on words” referencing the last name of our current President. I’m using the word trumped to mean to “excel, surpass or outdo”. As I read the Old Testament and see the priesthood as it pertains to the Hebrew religious people, I’m reminded that priests are people in a position of “spiritual” power or significance. When Jesus came on the scene, many things changed. He challenged the high priests, the leaders of the Hebrew religious structure. His position as the Son of God trumped their position. God’s plan to change the structure and introduce a church became clear but wasn’t readily accepted by the religious leaders. The writer or Hebrews gives a quick history lesson regarding this change. Check this out…

26 For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all time when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak, but the promise of the oath, which came after the law, appoints a Son, who has been perfected forever. (Hebrews 7:26-28 CSB)

Jesus came to earth and lived like a man. He faced the temptations and struggles of this life, EXCEPT He didn’t sin. Jesus’ presence here on earth really changed everything. The prophets and the priests before Him pointed to Him and all believers since are still pointing to Him. He didn’t just live here for 33 years and disappear. He is still living today in the hearts of those who’ve accepted Him into their hearts. I can’t adequately describe the Power and the Presence that He brought into my life many years ago. I believe Jesus to be the One & only Son of God, Who created everything. He made a way for me to get to God. I can talk directly to God through Jesus, the One Who intercedes on my behalf. Jesus filled the role of priests once and for all. I do agree that will all still need “Jesus with skin on” and so it’s helpful to counsel with a Pastor, Teacher or a follower of Jesus who is stronger in the faith.

I am committed to being a follower of Jesus the rest of my life here on earth. I can seek Him through His Word and by the Power of His Holy Spirit living in me. His Word and His Presence directs my path and gives me wisdom and discernment daily.  Jesus trumps any priests or human being who lives or has ever lived.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Recall – Remind – Rekindle

Memo with Paper Clip - rememberWhen I think back about my life and my journey of faith, it must include my grandmother, Gladys Greer (aka Mammie). She was a dear lady who loved the Lord and I can still remember her big Bible near her chair in the living room of her house. She studied it often. She had a Bible that was falling apart, but her life wasn’t’ because her deep faith gave purpose and helped her navigate any situation in life. She passed her faith on to my Mom and then to me. I have quite a heritage of faith. I find myself praying for my kids that they will know the Lord. I want them to see the Lord in my life.

The Apostle Paul was writing a second letter to his young protégé Timothy. I can feel the emotional connection between the two. He is connecting Timothy’s journey today with his journey of faith in the past. Check this out…

I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and now, I am convinced, is in you also.

Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. (2 Timothy 1:5-7 CSB)

I love the encouragement from Paul. I can take that into my heart and my life today. I need to recall my journey. I need to be reminded of all that the Lord has done in my life. I must daily rekindle the Holy Spirit that is in me. I can be strong and bold as I face challenges in life because I recall, I’m reminded and I’m rekindling the fire that is in me.

I also love the last line of this passage – it’s almost a “because” passage. I can recall, remind and rekindle BECAUSE the Lord has given me “a spirit of power, love and sound judgement”. I’m brimming with confidence because of His Power in me. This perspective shapes and remakes my perspective on everything in my life. I can face any challenge in my life, because the Creator lives in me and lives through me.

I think it’s healthy to revisit my journey often and realize that I’m standing on the shoulders of faith of my grandmother and my parents. I’m also standing on the shoulders of Paul, Timothy, Peter, James and John to name a few. I want to recall, be reminded and rekindle the Spirit of God in my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Weak = Power

 

Smiling sport child boy showing hand biceps muscles strengthI feel like sometimes it’s taken me a very long time (like my whole life) to start to grasp how different God sees things versus how we see things. His Word reveals so many truths about Him and I’ve heard many of them, but it’s taken me several years to really understand.

It seems that Paul is a bit insecure about being an Apostle who was called to serve after all the others, yet he writes most of the New Testament and he is “a machine”, constantly preaching and teaching the good news of the gospel. He reveals some personal struggle or issue that opens my eyes a bit to his journey and the Lord’s heart. Check this out….

Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”

Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 CSB)

This passage gives some more profound perspective on the struggles of my journey. I have made my life all about my happiness and my personal comfort. Paul was making his life about showing others the love of God and glorify the Lord with his life. I am blessed and oh so thankful to have avoided some hardships and suffering while hitting others spot on and navigating through. I am still learning that my hope and trust is in the Lord and not in my ability to accomplish or do anything.

When I’m weak – I’m strong.

When I’m tired – I’m useful to the Lord.

When I’m strong – I had better watch out.

He does His best work through my weaknesses and during my hardships and struggle. It’s not a fun ride, but a productive one.

I thought of this “old school sounding” song by Crowder…. All My Hope Is In Jesus.

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

Power

Lead By ExampleIt is sometimes interesting to see what happens when normal people get power. There are some who rise slowly through the promotion ranks to positions of powers. There are those who are elected to powerful positions. I believe that people are needed in positions of power to lead. Everyone can’t be “the” leader, but everyone can be “a” leader. There is a great temptation to those in powerful positions to lead with a clinched fist instead of an open hand. It’s easy to become a “know-it-all” when in a powerful position. I’m not advocating that all powerful leaders are bad, I’m just pointing out that I believe a powerful leader can become even more powerful when he or she realizes that leaders serve the people they are charged with leading. Asking good questions of the people I’m leading doesn’t make me weak, I believe it makes me wise.  Power can corrupt good people. Power can lie. Power can cheat. Power can steal. Power can kill.  Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

I believe that the Lord has all Power. I can’t begin to comprehend His Power. I can’t put my head around the Glory of God. He is not bound to our dimension of sight, sound, touch or taste. He came to earth in the person of Jesus and gave His life as a sacrifice for sin once and for all. He delivered to us the Power of God in surrender. Check this out…

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17 CSB)

I believe in God. I have faith in Him. The gospel has changed my life and it’s still changing my life. The gospel goes directly to work on my heart. My choices and my behavior come directly from my heart. If the Lord has my heart, He has all of me. The gospel is powerful to transform a surrendered heart. I see Him at work in me through eyes of faith. His Word magnifies my ability to see Him and know Him.  I want to live by faith with the power of the gospel overflowing out of my life into others. There is great power in living out a surrendered life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne