Visitors Welcome!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"I Can't . . . ."

I've been thinking about the phrase "I can't . . ."

We use this phrase so often to describe something that we actually can do. We just don't put out the effort to actually do it, for a variety of very logical reasons. So we just say "I can't . . .", and no one bothers to question the validity of our statement.

I can't lose weight

I can't pay my bills

I can't eat healthy

I can't love my spouse like I should

I can't afford to give

I can't play with my children

I can't discipline my children

I can't clean my house

I can't create a budget

I can't live like I want

I can't live like I believe

I can't be nice to him or her

I can't be entirely faithful

BECAUSE (And then there's the excuse that follows)

I don't have the time

I don't have the energy

I'm sick

I'm too busy

I can't get any help

I'm too scared

I'm not smart enough

No one cares

I'm too poor

I'm too stressed

They won't let me

Some of these reasons/excuses are true at a specific point of time, but should never be used to explain away an entire area of life that should be managed wisely. We can be healthy. We can manage our lives. We can love each other. We can pay our bills. We can do all of these things, but an incredible thing has happened. We have lobotomized ourselves as a society. In this "fast food" era, we have become more enamored with the Reward than with the Requirements of the reward. We look at something we want, and say "I'll have that please, with a side of self-worth".

Then we wait . . . and wait . . . and wait, and the longer we wait, the more disillusioned we become. We go about life, all the while becoming more frustrated and depressed, and we don't really know why. We really are sheep!

It's asinine. We are becoming a people who wait for what never comes. It's like a farmer walking out to his fields at harvest and saying, "Where's my crop?" while having not planted a single seed.

This society has refused to play by the rules. We have asked for the equation of life to be disassembled. We only want the result, when the reality is that the principles of success remain constant. Simply put, X(desire) + Y(work) = Reward! It doesn't read X(desire) = Reward! That formula is totally devoid of logic, and that's exactly where we find ourselves today. We have thrown away the steps and are devastated that we can't reach the top.

Yes, it's absurd, but the fact that we have such a large membership roster allows our absurdity to hide behind the chaos. We are the vast majority, so it is hard to see forest for the trees, until an occasional person stands out. Then we notice. Then we are in awe of his or her SUCCESS. The real absurdity is that our chaotic lives are a direct result of our lack of principle and standards for living. In fact, one could ask where all the standards have gone. We refuse to acknowledge these all-important axioms, therefore many of us feel stupid and miserable, like the universe is plotting against us.

Self indulgence can create an epidemic of apathy . . . an "I can't" mentality, and we all are effected. The successful few are those who break away and take the phrase "I can't . . ." to put it in its proper, logical place:

I can't live like this any longer

I can't accept any thing less than what God gives and I know there's more

I can't accept apathy in my life, my family, or my church

The successful person understands the equation, that there are God-given principles that guarantee our success. I would actually go so far as to say that these principles play a role in the abundant life that Christ has promised us . . . at least to a certain extent in the physical realm. Paul even talks about running the race before us when applying these concepts to our Spiritual journey. The successful person is one who trusts that these principles work and believes them to be axioms of abundance, self-evident truths that work when applied to our belief systems and therefore affect our actions and produce abundant results. It's simple . . . on paper. In real life, it takes a disciplined mind to go against the flow, to say "I can't take this anymore!" and "I will change!" instead of joining the chorus of defeatism.

If we want to lose weight, then we exercise and eat right. We can do that. If we want to have healthy relationships with each other and God, then we put in the time to spend on other people and the Kingdom. We can do that. If we want to be financially independent, then we pay off our debt through hard work and sacrifice, and live a slave to no man. We can do that.

We have to apply these axioms to our lives. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes work. But look at your life now. You spend lots of time and work really hard . . . for what? Depression? Frustration? "I can't"?

I love this song by Switchfoot . . .

Fumbling his confidence
And wondering why the world has passed him by
Hoping that he's bet for more than arguments
And failed attempts to fly

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside
Somewhere we live inside
We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside

Dreaming about Providence
And whether mice or men have second tries
Maybe we've been living with our eyes half open
Maybe we're bent and broken

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside
Somewhere we live inside
We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside

We want more than this world's got to offer
We want more than this world's got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
We were meant to live
(We were meant to live)
We were meant to live

For God and King!


© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Believe . . .

Belief is so important, and so is Perception. Both, however, tend to make reality a relative concept, and have absolutely no effect on what is actually True or False. Truth stands regardless of what goes on around it, or what we believe or perceive about it. It just is. It is factual to the nth degree . . . and farther.

In the current hurricane of opinion and relativism, Truth remains unmoved, unbending, and unaffected. However, when everything else is moving and shifting, we can get caught up with the current wave of thought, and lose our vision. It is because of this lack of focus that we sometimes have trouble discerning Truth. This is why it is so important to have a proper foundation of thought and focus. Our beliefs and perceptions must be founded on Truth, otherwise we lose the race before we even start our engines.

Recently, I had additional cause to examine my Belief System. Someone, who has been reading my blog, suggested that I may have some foundational issues based on my writings. I am open to constructive criticism, which I know this was, and thought about their comments long and hard. In fact, I really appreciate what was said, because it reminded me that my writings are always based on my perception and beliefs, and those perceptions and beliefs are not always placed on the page for all to see as the foundation for my comments. I stand by my words that I've written, but am aware that they can be viewed in different ways based on (once again) different perceptions and beliefs. So this became an opportunity to review my foundation, to examine whether or not my Belief System is founded on Truth.

Here is what I've come up with so far (off the top of my head):

I Believe

-There is one TRUE God above all gods, Creator of Heaven and Earth and all there is.

-In Jesus Christ, His only Son, who died and was resurrected from death to (1)Pay our debt in full as a complete propitiation, and (2)Heal our broken hearts, thus giving us complete wholeness for living an abundant life in and of His Spirit within us.

-That our hearts are healed by the redemption of Christ, but that our minds must/will be changed over time by the Spirit's leading. Repentance = A change of Mind. I believe this is what Romans 12 is talking about. We can surrender all to Him, and should, but the value of total surrender is solely defined by what we actually know to surrender. In my life this is a continuous process. God leads us and shows us by revelation the areas of our minds/beliefs/perceptions that need to surrender to Him. He is so patient with me! Through my daily sacrifice of my will and by the faith He has given me, I am being transformed to show what He has made me for, as a part of His perfect plan.

-That God is indeed know-able, but only as far as He reveals Himself through the Word and the Spirit. This again, is a process that He leads us through . . . and I'm convinced that this process will last forever! That's how unfathomably deep He is.

-That we have an enemy. He is the prince of this age, and seems so powerful compared to our physical strength. It is important to realize, however, that his wickedness is not to be placed on the opposite spectrum of Gods' Holiness. My father used this riddle to prove this point when I was a child. "Black is to White as Satan is to _______ ? Everyone I've asked that question of has answered "God". The answer is Michael the Archangel(a powerful angel who has battled Satan in the past. Some believe he is the angel mentioned in Revelation 20, who throws the dragon into the abyss). Yes, we have an enemy, and we must fight him, but we must never equate him as an equal opposite to God. Nothing is or can be.

-That denominational religion is an overall absolute failure because we have ended up focusing on each other and our personal preferences for ministry instead of being led by God's Spirit to love the world and present the true Gospel. The word denomination means "walled fortress" to me, a place that creates a great separation between believers, let alone the huge chasm between the church and the lost. We are divided as Christians because of this. I have yet to see two churches communicate and work together without these "walls" playing a powerful role.

-In the total inerrant Truth of Scripture, and its absolute viability in any circumstance or time period.

-We live in a fallen world that God is constantly redeeming to Himself. Christ's death not only started His redemption in us, but cemented the process of "using all things for the good of those who love Him". Our planet, our ecosystems, our circumstances, and our personal lives are all used for His glory and our good!

-We reap the rewards of our actions.

-People are extremely valuable. It doesn't matter what you've done, what you look like, what you believe, what your perception is, how we feel about each other, how we see God . . . we are all extremely valuable because He has placed value upon us. No other reason suffices. He loves us regardless of . . . anything. We are valuable to Him, therefore we should be valuable to each other.

-Everybody is on the same level when it comes to spiritual opportunity and worth. No one is better than the other. Rich or poor, popular or behind the scenes - God loves us all. We have to have that approach to be effective in ministry. Always remember where you come from, what you've done against God, and how He's forgiven you.

-Our beliefs affect our thoughts, which in turn affect our choices, which in turn affect our actions. Belief Systems are incredibly powerful, which is why Jesus tells us to repent and believe the Gospel. . . The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Turn around and welcome the Kingdom of God! Change your mind and see the Kingdom at hand! Base your Belief System on Truth . . .

-I am a total failure but for God's grace. I've proven it true! I am constantly learning about myself through His amazing patience and Spirit. I can do nothing good without His blessing.

-That faithfulness is the key to being blessed. Do what is righteous no matter what the circumstance. God searches for the faithful. He blesses those who are are. This directly ties to the principle of giving. The more you give, the more you receive.

-I am able, through God's help, to live faithfully, for His glory, at each decision point of my life.

-That my issues with God (yes, we all have issues . . . admit it!) are a direct result from my limited view of His will and overall picture. I used to allow my issues to build walls between us, but He has shown me that I need to use those issues to actually build a bridge of discussion instead of a wall of silence. This belief alone will most likely save my soul. Silence = No relationship, and a prolonged focus on the issue, not Holiness. Discussion = Relationship and the ability to learn and conform to the image of Christ.

-I am loved.

-I love you.


© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Caught In The Middle?

I am constantly amazed. We know so much about our fallen nature, yet still struggle so heavily with the idea of Self vs. Selfishness.

If you really think about it, there is a constant un-civil war going on in our souls (our minds, insight, emotions, and wills). Everything around us tells us to either "man up" and take charge of our destiny, or to give up and give in to fate. We are being tempted . . . by pretty much everything around us.

How do we live "in" the world and not "of" the world? I think I have a pretty good grasp of this concept, but then God shows me more of my true Self He wants, and the current regime doesn't line up very well . . . I'm trying to control my control, and find myself having issues with my issues.

This song blew me away this morning:

Somewhere between the hot and the cold
Somewhere between the new and the old
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Somewhere between the wrong and the right
Somewhere between the darkness and the light
Somewhere between who I was and who You're making me
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender
without losing all control

Fearless warriors in a picket fence,
reckless abandon wrapped in common sense

Deep water faith in the shallow end
and we are caught in the middle

With eyes wide open to the differences,
the God we want and the God who is

But will we trade our dreams for His
or are we caught in the middle

Are we caught in the middle

- Casting Crowns ("Somewhere In The Middle")

We have failed to trust Him with everything. Logically, it makes perfect sense to surrender ALL to the God who wants and gives the best for us. But we still struggle with our flesh, with our need for control. We still want to call the shots.

God gave me this verse earlier this week:

I Peter 1:13-17 - "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth."

I am deeply convicted. I am ashamed. I repent.

I surrender.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

We Don't Know Him . . .

I have come upon a disturbing realization. We have been misinformed. We have been duped. We have been given tainted information . . . by ourselves.

We don't know Him. Not really. Not at all like we know each other. We think we know Him, and that is a big mistake. We know things about Him; things He has specifically given us to have a proper relationship with Him. That is entirely different than knowing Him. Even a relationship with Him is different than our earthly relationships. Much more trust is involved on our part, simply because we are far too limited to grasp who He is, and what He is capable of.

I cringe when I hear preachers unequivocably promise His intervention in our tragedy, in our pain and suffering, in our circumstance. I am troubled by the "prosperity" gospel I am hearing. We don't know Him well enough to promise things on His behalf. What if He chooses not to intervene? He has and He will. More often than not, tragedy continues. Pain and suffering are alleviated occasionally, when He wills it. We live in a fallen world. Sooner or later our perceptions meet the reality of WHAT WE DON'T KNOW. We don't know Him well enough to predict deliverance at this or that point of time. His ways are not our ways. His plans are not our plans. Our picture is totally different than His picture . . . it's not even comparable.

The problem is, we think we do know Him. That's where we dupe ourselves. That's where the "Sunday School Syndrome" comes into play. Remember all of the great stories we heard as kids in Sunday School? Those are great examples of God's power and might, displayed in Scripture. We enjoy these as children, smile at them as teenagers, then cling to them as adults.

We cling to them selfishly. When we can't pay our bills, when we can't feed our family, when we can't get what we wanted or expected, we point at Him. We ask why. We wonder where He is. Where is this God who takes care of everyone else? Is there something wrong with me? Why is He allowing this to happen?

This sounds harsh, but we need to get over ourselves. It's not about us. It's not about our ill-bred perceptions. It's about Him and His glory.

The only sure thing we have to cling to is the Gospel. His Word has become flesh and lived among us. We have seen the revealed Christ, our Messiah. We cling to that. We know that. We can stand on that. The rest is Him being who He IS. He doesn't fit in our box; not even in our book.

We know He loves us. That is unquestionable, and the resulting salvation is the foundation for our worship. He sent His son to die. He offers freedom from ourselves and sin. He is our Creator. These things we know from his Word. But we don't know Him like we think we do.

He's not the pious, soft, starchy God we so often think He is. No, He's wild. Untameable. Unpredictable. More than we can imagine. Just because He loves us so much, doesn't mean He is in any way "lesser" . . . even though we are. That's the great mystery of Grace. It is in no way safe, yet provides us the ultimate safety . . . from His wrath.

C.S. Lewis says, "'Safe?'...'Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. but he's good.'"

He's good.

Take a weekend off and away. Look upward on a clear night. Stand face to face with a wild elk. Better yet, walk on the moon, as some have. It won't take long to see that we don't know Him like we think we do. He's bigger, and it is in this fact that I find my comfort. We don't know Him. We can't, really. He's bigger than our thought process. We are so small that we can't even be compared to Him, yet he compared Himself to us, even so far as to allow Himself to taste death . . . for us.

The Relevant loves the irrelevant. The Triune loves the trivial. The Creator loves the created.

We don't know Him . . . but He knows us, and loves us regardless. And this truth eliminates all fear.

That's enough for me to say "Thy will be done".

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Teen Fire

Those of you who know me well know that some of my greatest joys in life are found in music and youth ministry. I have recently, as of September 1st, taken over a youth program at the Winchester First United Methodist Church. I'm usually the kind of guy who hits the ground running, so that's exactly what I did.

In the last month, we have added our own version of small groups to Sundays, calling it the "Sunday Night Breakaway". It is there that we practice team building and our Word Up moment (a short devotional focusing on our relationship with God), followed by small groups that split the girls and guys up by grade level. Here is the banner I just had made to hang on the outside of the church:

Our main campus (the First UMC church building) has developed a satellite church at our local theater across town on Sundays at 9 a.m. Our Teen Fire logo is based on their logo:

We have also "taken over" the local coffee house on main street from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday nights. The owner is a lady I know from singing there occasionally. She was so kind to let us come in and be loud and boisterous. I call it "The Tuesday Night Special" and it is an informal 2 hours of table games, music videos, great food, great coffee, wii on the big screen, loud music, and a Word Out moment (a short delivery of the Gospel, focusing on our relationship with each other). Rob Bell's NOOMA videos are great, as a side note. We've had numerous kids coming in off of the street to check us out. Last week Brent Vernon, a good friend of mine, was kind enough to come and minister to us. Once per month I have what is called Band of the Month (or artist). Three of us local crazies have formed a band (right now we are calling ourselves The No Names) and we started everything off by performing on 9/23. Brent came on 9/30 and REALLY got us started. His friend Sam was a little rusty but was a smash hit! :)

I've heard that the devil is in the details. Not true. God is in the details. I'm dumbfounded by the incredible amount of work that goes into a successful presentation of Christian fun and outreach. I love the results! Our motto is "Upword Focus, Outward Friendship". I wholly believe that we are all ministers of the Gospel, and that the most effective way we promote the Good News and bring others to Christ is through personal relationship. The whole purpose of the Great Commission lies in Christ's words, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples . . ." (John 13:34-35)

Our motto is based on His words again, when he quotes Leviticus 19:18, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and will all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself". Upword Focus . . . Outward Friendship.

In the wings, I am also working on a skateboard ministry to local skaters. We have about 200 roaming the streets in our little town. Our High School has about 1800 students. I'm working with the powers that be to create a place where these kids can come to skate; a place that's sanctioned and safe. I'm calling it "Project 360 X Ministries" and will focus on the X-game generation.

All this and two days per week to do it in. I'm busy. Saturdays will come for the X Ministries. That's three days. On paper it looks exhausting. When I'm doing it, it is my joy. When each event is over, I crawl home to rest, then plan for the next one.

Just in what I am now doing, there are three demographics of young people I have to reach out to. I've got:

1. My existing kids, who are churched

2. Those kids who are un-churched, coming in off of the streets on Tuesday nights.

3. The X crowd - the bmx and skater kids.

God is good. I thank Him for the opportunity!



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Holistic God

The more I read, study, listen, and discuss, the less I seem to know. While that can be frustrating (if that's all I focused on), my mind has been continually renewed regarding the incredible nature and nurture of God.

We all know that transformation of the mind is often, and necessarily, painful. That is a transforming concept in and of itself! Once we realize that God is continuously redeeming the chaos of fallen nature, man's strife, our violence, the Enemy's chaos, life's tragedies, sickness . . . . basic pain in general . . . Once we realize He redeems it for our ultimate good, we see through different eyes. We understand. We bear our cross more willingly. We endure because we see the purpose for the pain, which is our ultimate pleasure in God.

I have long studied the body, soul, and spirit. I have come to realize that when one area suffers, every area suffers. I have seen this in my own life, and to be honest with you, I have felt like a 5-year-old trying to juggle steaknives. Disaster!

I recently led worship for a Healing conference with Tommy Hays (Messiah Ministries). Tommy has an excellent insight with Scripture and many of the things he talked about went right along with what I have been studying. I give him credit for opening my eyes to see our "holistic nature". I had some thoughts while I was at the conference and wanted to blog them for discussion.

The term "Holistic" means "emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts". Interdependence means "Mutually dependent on one another for survival". The importance of the whole summed up by the interdependent parts. This easily represents our different areas of our "person", the whole summed up by our different parts. A scripture comes to mind.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ". In my studies of each of these areas of our "person", I can think of numerous commands, principles, and expectations found in Scripture. For example: Jesus gives us three commands/expectations of a Christian.

1. When you pray . . . do so in secret.

2. When you give . . . do not let your right hand know what your left is doing.

3. When you fast . . . do so privately

Why these commands? Why these expectations? Why are we to do these secretly? Why in private? So that what we give the Father in secret may be rewarded in public. So that He can be honored by our wholeness.

1. Praying sets apart/sanctifies our Spirit (allows the Spirit of God to manifest)

2. Giving sets apart/sanctifies our soul (allows our SELF(mind, emotions, etc.) to surrender)

3. Fasting sets apart/sanctifies our body (allows our flesh to be crucified)

What we are commanded to do is to consecrate all three areas of our life to God . . . all the time. To be honest, many of us control our own politics, finances, health, relationships, desires, religion, and keep our Church life separate. I have been guilty of that. We try so hard to "control" ourselves, to be "good stewards" of our lives. We fail miserably unless we first consecrate ourselves, setting apart each area to God, giving Him full control. Only then can we be effective and happy . . . and joyful . . . and at peace. Period.

I have come to realize that we are made in the image of God to the greater detail than we can even imagine. A Triune God has created us in His image, with our own "triune nature" if you will, stressing and "emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts".

You who are sick, you who are shallow, you who are enslaved by sin, you who are hopeless, you who are wounded . . . let the God who wants you to be WHOLE and AT PEACE sanctify you through and through, healing your entire Spirit, Soul, and Body. This is where true Healing is found . . . at the end of our control.

See, God doesn't want your control. It's like my 18-month-old when he wants to open his sippy cup and fill it with more juice. He can't do it. He tries and tries. Sometimes he cries. It won't happen. I wait until he gives it to me. I fill his cup. God knows you can't do it all. He is waiting to fill our cup.

Our responsibility is NEVER to control our lives. It is ONLY to give Him everything, and He will wait until we do. We must let him sanctify this "triune nature" created in us, so He can make us blameless. We must live up only to these expectations: We must pray. We must give. We must fast.

Let us repent of our pride. Let us repent of our fear. Let us repent of our gluttony. Let us be found blameless. Our God, The Holistic God, yearns to give us Himself . . . entirely, so we can be entirely whole.


© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

S.T.A.N.D. (The Importance Of Pain)

Lately, I've been examining CHANGE in my life. Earlier this year (2008), I told my wife that I felt that God was preparing my heart for something to happen. I told her, "This will be a year of change for us". We felt hopeful and encouraged that maybe God was starting to move in our lives in a new powerful way. We had been praying for His will expectantly, but up to that point nothing had happened (that we could see).

We're still waiting . . . and to be honest, life has been a tad difficult since we felt that initial encouragement. I have learned, however, that God gives us inspiration in spite of our circumstance and that true, effective CHANGE can only come out of CONFLICT. What we are always struggles with what we need to become. This is how life is designed to work in a fallen world. This is how God salvages Creation, using "all things" for His purpose. In fact, the Fall of Man and the resulting gift of Reconciliation is the supreme fulfillment of this principle.

Pain finds its purpose in Pleasure. Failure finds its purpose in Success. Conflict finds its purpose in Change. In this, our Enemy wounds himself. What he means for evil, God gives it a new purpose - to mold us to His image.

God gave me this acronym over a year ago. I'm just now finding where to place it in my life.

S - stop living in Fear of pain or failure
T - take massive action to implement right principles
A - accept each moment as an opportunity to learn and move forward
N - never give up
D - demand ongoing excellence

See, most people know what is right. In fact, the overwhelming frustration I hear when talking about this subject is the fact that we all know what to do - we all know the principles for success - but, for some inexplicable reason, can't force ourselves to do it! I have found that I fear the pain. I fear the failure. I fear the conflict. I never really get to the principle.

God is using this year to CHANGE me, and as usual, it is in an unexpected way.



© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

There Is A God

I love it when God moves in and through us. It is our deepest fulfillment to have that happen. In my experience, God uses us for two purposes. He uses us to minister to each other as the body of Christ (whether to exhort, admonish, or teach), and He also uses us to show the world who He IS (either by His Story, His Gospel, or our Example).

My fulfillment for several years has been in the area of exhortation. God has used me to encourage other brothers and sisters in Christ towards praise and thankfulness, introspection, and true worship. I love what I do, and for quite some time have longed to do it full-time. God will someday open that door, for sure. Until then, however, He is constantly stretching me, opening my eyes to new avenues of ministry.

Another aspect, less known, has been my ministry to our town's youth. I grew up as a violent, oppressed young man, enslaved by sin and vice. When God changed me, I was drawn toward youth ministry that reached the hardened hearts of the "problem" kids. I remember one of the biggest questions I had was whether or not there even was a God . . . and I was a preacher's kid! Today I frequent the streets of Winchester picking up whoever wants to come to our church. I try to develop those all-important relationships that are necessary for us to impact their hearts and minds.

Some of you know that I've been leading worship at First Fire at Movies 9 on Sunday mornings (for two weeks). That is going well. My prayer is that someone will find God this coming week. I think I'll sing this on Sunday.

There Is A God

(Verse One)
A thousand lonely beacons, a thousand points of light
A thousand burning hearts are reaching for the sky
A million different reasons for us to question why
As the whole world searches for a sign

What if we find Him, what if He's really listening?
What if our sin is what's keeping us apart?
What if the answers are found in Jesus?
What if He's here to heal our hearts?
I know . . . you know . . .

There is a God, and He cares for you
No matter where you're coming from or what you're going through
There is a God, and He knows our name
He can take this shattered, broken life and make us whole again
When you need someone to love you through it all
There is a God

(Verse Two)
A million different people, a million points of view
A million different reasons, so many things to do
A thousand different roads are here for us to choose
And the whole world searches for the truth

What if we find it, what if we really see Him?
What we start to know this Holy God above?
What if Salvation is only found in Jesus?
What if belief is up to us?
I know . . . you know . . .


No matter your failures, no matter your fortune
No matter your strength or the weakness you live in
No matter the walls that you've built to resist Him
No matter the choices you've made


© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

What Would Happen If . . . ?

What would happen if we believed, really believed that God uses us? What would happen if we actually fed the hungry? What would happen if we clothed the poor? What would happen if we left church on Sunday and lived by the Spirit’s leading? What would happen if we came to church consistently? What would happen if we gave up our jobs to become exactly what God made us to be?

What would happen if we stopped tearing down people with our words, and instead tore down those strongholds in our minds and hearts; those strongholds that keep us from moving forward . . . that keep us living *life*, instead of living LIFE abundant. What would happen if we prayed for each other’s healing, both in body and spirit? What would happen if we started making right choices with our time and money?

What would happen if we set a precedent of behavior for our family that honored God above all else? What would happen if we said that no matter what, our house will serve God? What would happen if we led our children to the throne on a daily basis? What would happen if we used our incredibly powerful gift of will to dictate how we will live in the world, but not of it? What would happen if we tested God by actually giving tithes and abundant offerings? What would happen if God became our very breath, our very life, instead of a priority that is reserved for Sunday mornings? What would happen if we prayed? What would happen if we lived a spiritual life in a physical world?

What would happen if we started a children’s bus route in the poor section of town? What would happen if we stopped sinning? What would happen if we thought more about clean hearts and minds instead of a clean church? What would happen if we prayed? What would happen if we gave up all of our independence to live in total dependence on God through the Spirit of Christ? What would happen if we would stop being so hard on ourselves?

What would happen if we decided to actually fight in this Spiritual War that we are in? What would happen if we lived on PURPOSE in a PRECARIOUS society? What would happen if we confessed one to another? What would happen if we stopped moving God between a box and a book, and actually allowed the reality of His Kingdom to permeate our mind, body, and soul? What would happen if we really did surrender all?

What would happen if we acted on Truth? What would happen if we actually ran from temptation? What would happen if we took a stand, not as a Condemning church but as a Conduit to Calvary in a world that needs the good news of the Gospel? What would happen if we actually spread that Gospel? What would happen if we developed deep relationships with our neighbors before we asked them to come to church?

What would happen if we stopped watching television programs that promote sin and vice? What would happen if we taught our girls to be modest? What would happen if we taught our boys to be respectful? What would happen if we beat our inner child, you know, the one that screams and cries to have what we want, and when we want it, regardless how stupid it is . . .? What would happen if we became disciplined?

What would happen if we got rid of the need for control found in the hierarchy of Church denomination and instead lived in unity as brothers and sisters in Christ? What would happen if we really got saved and lived a transformed life? What would happen if we used our spiritual gifts? What would happen if we actually had a relationship instead of a ritual, both with God and each other? What would happen if we believed, really believed, that God wants to use us to change our world? What would happen if we changed our mind?!!

What would happen if we put works with faith? What would happen if we put action with belief? What would happen if we perfected faith through works? What would happen if we practiced pure religion and visited orphans and widows in distress? What would happen if we kept ourselves unstained by the world? What would happen if we repented? What would happen if we had a different view about what a church should become? What would happen if we looked past our differences to real, true change? What would happen if we stopped offering mud pies of complacency and started giving God our best?

I saw a T-shirt that showed a sign on a church door. It said, “Church closed. Gone fishing for men. Will return when boat is full”. What would happen if we went fishing?

I heard someone say, "I want to live what I believe!" We already do. Our actions come from our thoughts that come from our beliefs. Take a close look . . . are you happy with the way you live? What would happen if we looked for, chose, and lived the right beliefs?

“Jesus tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Bob, why are you resisting me?” I said, “I’m not resisting you!” He said, “You gonna follow me?” I said, “I’ve never thought of that before!” He said, “When you’re not following me, you’re resisting me.””
– Bob Dylan

“God is a verb.” – Buckminster Fuller

Be transformed . . .

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Real Revolution

The word "Revolution" is one of the most interesting words I have studied. It is a noun, but its very essence is based on action, movement . . . verbage. There are several different meanings, depending on the context of this word. The root seems to be "revolve", which means to spin in a fixed pattern - usually focused on a central object which it "revolves" around, e.g. the earth's revolutions around the sun. In this context, the word "Revolution" takes on great significance, a very important action that sustains life, that gives opportunity for growth. Since I have become a believer in Christ, I am constantly aware of how the natural order we see is really a supernatural design that tells us so much about who God is and what He wants for us.

But enough of that. For now, I want to dwell on another meaning of this word.

Once again, "Revolution" is a noun that, in its essence, embodies action. However, in this context, it means "The attempt to overthrow one government, and replace it with another". I want to examine this with a spiritual light.

There is an overwhelming majority that still believes we live in a world dominated by the Prince of Darkness. I hear or read on a frequent basis about this church or that youth group hosting a Revolution party or conference with its focus on overthrowing this dominant sin culture we breathe in on a daily basis. Honestly, I don't see any harm with doing that. In fact, if these events help us to retain our focus on our King, then more power to them. However, there is a constant trend in these types of movements that bothers me to some degree. Here's why . . .

I see myself, my family, my brothers and sisters in Christ as being part of a Kingdom. Specifically, a conquering Kingdom where our loyalties lie with Christ our King and High Priest. I know of the "great debate" regarding the Holy Trinity, but let's just simply say that we do our best to glorify our Father by allowing the Spirit of Christ to dwell within us and lead us daily. In essence, we have already won the war and are now being entrusted as stewards of the spoil.

However, I strongly believe we are not living the reality of what we believe and are a part of. I do not think we fully grasp our place and significance in this Kingdom. I know . . . it IS hard to see what must be taken by faith. However, our anointing, our empowerment can only come by a proper belief system about who we are. Let me explain further . . .

Not too long ago, I was part of a meeting with some of the best salesmen in our company. We spent a better part of two hours discussing and debating how we can provide the best possible experience for our customers while getting our goals met. Anyone who knows great sales ethics knows that our goal is not the all-important dollar or selling a product just to sell a product. We believe that giving the customer an excellent experience builds loyalty, and loyalty is what brings money in.

After listening and discussing for quite some time, I got up and walked to the marker board, grabbed a marker and wrote a phrase for all to see. It went something like this, "I believe that each customer who I talk to today wants efficiency from me and excellent direction." I then said, "ladies and gentlement, we can have the best products, the best call flow, the best language to use . . . but if we don't have the right belief system in place then true excellence has once again eluded us." People buy what you believe in.

It all comes from our foundational belief system. Tony Robbins calls this "The Birth of Excellence" in his book Unlimited Power. Scripture calls it the Brain Revolution!

Romans chapters 12 and 13 tell us where this revolution takes place. It starts in our mind, develops into a belief system, affects our actions, and then changes the world. My favorite scripture verse is Romans 12:2 - "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." The next two chapters then go on to describe how a Christian should live in this world, but not of it!

The most powerful force on earth is our belief system. Transform your mind, transform the world. The writer of this passage knew what he was talking about. Changed from a torturer and murderer to a believer who traveled the world, he was bitten by poisonous snakes, was stoned to death and raised again, flogged, brought a dead teenager back to life . . . that is transformation! Paul knew the power of revolutionary belief. This is why I do not cringe or bristle when I hear of Teen Challenge or FireStarters or any other crusade center its theme around revolution. I think that, for the most part, these themes are centered around the revolution of belief. I support that. However, I do question what beliefs are being taught.

I would like to see more "revolution" centered on who a Christian actually is. What movement or force does he or she actually belong to. This brings me back to my point on us being part of The Kingdom of Heaven. Remember, we can have the best language, the best format, the best visual effects, the best life style, the best witness . . . but have we talked about who we are? Unless we know who we are in Christ, a facade can form and eventually crumble. This is why we hear of those "saints" who are caught in sin, sometimes sins that have been committed for decades! The facade is not the real. They are unbelievers. They do not see their place in the Kingdom of Heaven because they have bought into the Kingdom of Self.

We can be transformed by the renewing of our beliefs. In a spiritual sense, the only real revolutionary is Satan. I mentioned at the beginning that many of us believe in his Kingdom. Many of us believe and count on a belief that he is the prince of this world, that he has all power, and that angels are constantly battling to rest God's children from Satan's grip. This is not true. Yes, it was true, to a point, before Christ came. However, there are at least two scriptural references pointing to a shift in that power upon Christ's death. I am talking about Rev. 1:18 where Christ tells John, "I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades."

Also, Matthew 28:18 says, "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth"". This happened after the crucifixion. Yes, Satan is still powerful and is still the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), but the Bible specifically dictates where and to whom Satan has dominion over . . . . sinners; those who disobey and disbelieve. There it is again. That word "believe" is powerful, even when it's being dissed! If there is any real attempt to overthrow a spiritual government, it is actually our enemy who is the revolutionary. We have already won! We are rulers, conquerors, ministers of the Gospel showing every nation a Heavenly Kingdom here on earth, preparing for a greater Kingdom to come. Wickedness is trying to overthrow us! We are the ones in power, not vice versa! Why else would we be tempted? Why else are we attacked? Why else do we have an enemy.

The Bible is pretty clear about this. In fact, we easily buy into our enemy's fall. His disgrace. We see him tempt Christ and fail. We see him defeated time and again through heroic stories of Biblical proportions. We see him lose and lose and lose, and we even hold an annual holiday celebrating our Lord's resurrection, our enemy's ultimate beat down . . . then read a few verses in Scripture regarding his earthly power (yes, he is powerful in an earthly sense) and beat a hasty retreat, giving him the mile when he's desparately fighting for an inch.

We would do well to take our mind off our enemy's temporal kingdom and focus more on the permanent Kingdom of Heaven to which we belong. Let us transform our minds to the incredible truth of being leaders in the Kingdom to come. Let us teach our children and young people. Let us start new believers on the correct path, showing them what they were and now are in Christ. We are loyal subjects to the King of all kings, the Lord of all lords, the One who brings us our victory!

Let's "man up" and stop living defeated lives. We are more than conquerors.

For God and King!

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Importance of Real Gratitude

Several months ago, I saw a story about an 11-year-old boy who was caught in a crevasse in California. He had been playing on the beach with his friends, running and climbing on the coastal rocks, when he slipped and fell into a crack in one of the large rocks he was playing on. The harder he struggled, the deeper he slid down until he was wedged so tight that no one could pull him out. It had gotten so bad, that with every breath he took, he inched lower and tighter. He was literally dying from lack of oxygen when the rescuers got there. The rock was smothering him.

At first, his helpers did not seem to understand the situation, but soon realized that his breathing was so shallow, he was in and out of conciousness. Their efforts quickly became more animated when they realized the life and death struggle they were in. They worked for over an hour trying to pull him out, to no avail. Then, a firefighter had the idea to pour motor oil all over him, to try to lubricate the rock enough to allow them to pull him free. It worked.

What happened next will stay with me for the rest of my life. When the men pulled him up to the top, he kept reaching out and saying "Thank You, Thank You" over and over again. I have never seen gratitude like that in a person's eyes before. I was looking into the eyes of a soul who was on the brink of death, who was dying right in front of us, when suddenly he was pulled free to live, to breathe freely.

And right there, it hit me. That boy is all of us. That is exactly where where we are as unbelievers. I remember that suffocating feeling of being trapped. My hatred of others, my desire to break all the rules led me to the edge, and I fell in. We are all trapped by what we think is on that rock of temptation - esteem, all that money can buy, the self-worth that the taboo promises- only to find out afterward that we are slowly dying, we have failed to stay away from the edge. We slide down into the crevasse. We become more and more uncomfortable until we are barely alive. Death is near . . .

No one truly knows what gratitude is like the person who has been snatched from the grip of Death. Those of us who have been saved from Hell should always have that sense gratitude. The deeper you are, the more thankful you become when you think about what you have been saved from. I want to say "Thank You, Thank You" to my Savior. I am saved! Those of us who believe: We are saved!! We can breathe again. Thank You Jesus!

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Importance of Proper Questioning

Asking God "Why?" may be one of the most pointless and asinine things we can do in this lifetime. If we cannot, with our own God-given logic and intelligence, find the answer in a proper amount of time, then the "Why" may not be at all what God wants us to obtain from the present circumstance. "Why?" focuses on what has already happened, not on what the next step should be.

And while He is perfectly able to answer us as to why something has happened, the chances of us understanding the answer are so incredibly small anyway that it is really just pointless to even start the whole exhausting process by asking the question in the first place. Asking God "Why?" is like a crowd of would-be art lovers who, in their enthusiastic love of the abstract, marvel and celebrate the latest masterpiece, only to find out later it was just the easel.

Our understanding is not His understanding. Our view of the picture is not at all His view of the picture. In fact, most of the time we are focusing on the Easel of Circumstance instead of looking for what it holds - The Masterpiece of Grace.

The most essential question we ask of God should be "What?". The Who, Where, and When come later. "What" grabs hold of the point. It defines for us the Message. It allows us to be part of God's work of art.

I also strongly believe that this question of "What?" should always be followed by an offer of personal involvement. "What do you want me to do?" "What can I learn from this opportunity?" "What can I do to react in a more Christ-like manner?" By asking this question we are showing God that we are following two of the most important principles of spiritual progress. When God answers (and believe me He will!) we must have the Ability to Listen and the Willingness to Lead.

Scripture is full of these types of interactions. A good example is found in the story of I Samuel 3:1-10. God called Samuel's name three times in the dusk of the afternoon, while he and his mentor priest Eli napped. Twice Samuel ran to Eli to see why he had called. The third time, Eli realized that God was speaking to Samuel and advised him to ask a "what" type of question of God. "Speak Lord, for thy servant listens". I am listening God. What do you want me to do? God wanted him to Lead, and the rest is history.

I believe that, by asking the proper questions, we obtain the best answers. Yes, in our deductive process we sometimes need to find out why something has happened. God gives us that intelligence and reasoning capability. However, "why" something has happened can only be profitable in guiding us to "what" our next steps should be, and is often not a necessary part of the process. In fact, "Why?" is more often than not a tool used by our Enemy to stall us, to humiliate us, to yank our focus from what God is trying to mold us into to a place where all we can see is the tragedy or uncomfortable circumstance that has just happened. Yes, I know that in our humanity asking "Why?" is sometimes inevitable, but when we cannot find an answer to "Why", we must move on to "What" God wants for us. "What?" is the question that allows us to Listen and Lead for the Kingdom.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008