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

Suffering Struggles

quarreled couple in their living roomWhen I think back through my life at the struggles, I get a bit tired, yet inspired. I can now see the hand of God through the struggle. At the time of struggle, I couldn’t think straight and couldn’t see His perspective. I could only muddle through the suffering. I think suffering is one of the hardest realities that everyone battles – both the Christian follower and non-believer. Suffering is not a respecter of my faith. I believe that suffering is a result of a fallen world. I do not subscribe to the angle that God causes my suffering – for me that just doesn’t fit with what I know about Him. I do believe that could prevent or stop my suffering, but He doesn’t always choose to do that. This is a hard topic because when I revisit my struggles – even though they are in the rear-view mirror – it brings up a lot of painful memories.

Paul speaks about suffering in the opening chapter of his second letter to the church at Corinth. His writing has helped shape my view of suffering. Check this out…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 CSB)

I know people who have suffered more than I have. I know people who are in the middle of suffering right now. I don’t have all the answers for people in the middle of suffering, but I do know that the Lord never wastes times of suffering. I’ve learned more about His heart in the middle of my past experiences with suffering. When I’m on this side of suffering, it looks so different.

I know that one of the big wins in my personal sufferings is my ability to help others who are suffering. I have learned some life lessons in my suffering that I’m not sure I would have learned any other way. I started spending time in the Word of God many years ago and the Lord built into me some perspective and inner strength that I didn’t even know I had. My beliefs in Him are more solid today because of my sufferings in the past. I choose to trust Him with today and every day. During suffering and struggle, I choose to trust him. When I can’t see a good outcome, or ending to my suffering – I will still choose to trust Him.

This is not all that easy because suffering and struggle take its toll, but I will still trust Him with whatever comes my way. My faith is stronger because of struggle and suffering in my life. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. He never leaves me or forsakes me in the middle of struggle and suffering.

Pressing On

Dwayne

Escape

 

Running Man from blocksI have used this word escape many times. I like to watch movies for entertainment, but also a brief “escape” from reality. I had fun with our family at an “Escape Room” in Atlanta about a year ago. I have escaped car accidents. I’ve escaped bad relationships. I have escaped some pretty bad situations and I give the Lord credit for helping me escape. I am learning to let Him lead because always has an escape plan – a way out.

Paul talks about how the Lord will give us a way out of temptation. I have lived this out for sure. Check this out…

12 So, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall. 13 No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 CSB)

The Lord is powerful and insightful enough to make a way where there seems to be no way. I should never be full of pride for my behavior. I am who I am and what I am because of Jesus living inside of me. It’s not what I’ve done but what He’s done. I want to make Him known and let me fade into oblivion.

He has made an escape route for me too many times to count. I am so thankful. My life could have been destroyed. He is strong – I am weak. He is completely aware – I am often naïve. He is always present – I’m often absent minded and forgetful. I’m going to stick with Him as He helps me navigate the mine fields of this life.

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

Holy Spirit Presence

 

PresenceI used to freak out when I was a kid hearing the adults in church speak about the Holy Ghost. I knew the definition of a ghost and I really wasn’t interested. When I grew older and was introduced to the Holy Spirit, I realized that this was a lot different than “Ghostbusters” or weird little translucent being.

The Holy Spirit is the very Presence of God. It’s hard to explain if we don’t embrace the fact that there is a spiritual realm. A realm beyond our ability to see or hear. I like to think of it like radio waves or cell phone waves. What if I could see all the radio waves traveling invisibly through the air? My mind would be blown. They are there even though I can’t see them. I believe that the Holy Spirit of God dwells in the spirit realm and He is close by to those who have make Jesus Lord of their lives. Check this out…

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

The Holy Spirit is a game changer when I’m unsure or afraid. He is with me so I feel safe and confident that I can act on His behalf. He is the very essence and presence of Creator God but He dwells with me. Jesus said that He would leave the Comforter when He ascended to the Father.

The Holy Spirit reminds me of Grace.

The Holy Spirit pours out hope generously.

The Holy Spirit prompts me to give.

The Holy Spirit convicts me of sin.

The Holy Spirit empowers me with love.

The Holy Spirit breathes peace into my soul in times of trouble or struggle.

The Holy Spirit reveals deep facets of God to me as I walk with Him.

I can’t imagine walking with God without the Presence of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here (Kim Walker Smith from Bethel)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

No Limits

 

square grunge red no limits stampThere are boundaries and limits all around me. I can’t imagine a life without some limits. I remember when I was young and living under the rules of my parents. During those times, I had to let them know when I’d be home and where I was going when I went out with friends on the weekend. I grew up respecting their rules but I was also ready to be out from under them. I went to college, only to find more rules and boundaries. The college I went to was a Christian College and it had a lot more rules. The purpose of those rules was obvious – trying to help me make good choices and not hurt others or myself. Fast forward a few years and I get married. There are boundaries inside of marriage. The boundaries are there to protect the relationship and the family unit. I guess the idea of having no limits or boundaries sound good, but it’s not real applicable to my world.

The Psalmist reminds me that the Lord has no limits. He can do anything He wants. He can go anywhere He wants at any time He wants. Check this out….

Praise the Lord.

How good it is to sing praises to our God,
    how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the broken-hearted
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
    and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
    his understanding has no limit.
The Lord sustains the humble
    but casts the wicked to the ground. (Psalm 147:1-6 NIV)

God can do anything EXCEPT fail. I’ve learned to lean upon Him for everything. I’ve learned to trust Him without exception or question. I’m still discovering insights to the Lord that I had not seen previously to this extent. His Presence in my life has and still does – blow me away. I find great peace in His Presence. I love singing songs to the Lord because I know Him and I want to know Him more.

My God created the heavens and the earth and He loves to hear from me. I’m just a peon here on the planet that He created but He wants to hear from me. He loves it when I sing to Him and about Him. He loves it when I talk to Him and about Him. He loves when my heart is devoted to His heart.  When I trust Him with my whole heart and my whole life – there is no limits to the depths of my love and devotion. There are no limits on the Power of God. There are no limits on the Grace of God. There are no limits on Mercy of God. There are no limits on the Presence of God. I can’t comprehend all of this, but I will simply trust and obey His call upon my heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne