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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Little Things . . .

Ah! We've done it again. Constantly shooting for the lowest possible denominator, and shooting ourselves in the foot instead.

I agree that the little things are to be looked at with gratitude.

But what happens when we stop looking for the big things?

You know?

No one's writing a book called Low Expectations.

Because no one would read it. And why should we?

We already live it.

I don't like that kind of focus. It feels claustrophobic. For most of my life, I've had this nagging thought and inescapable feeling that there's more . . . that God, as our Father, is waiting for our wildest dreams to arrive, but all He ever gets from us is a last minute request for help with a late mortgage payment or a difficult boss.

I think that the little things need to be put in their place. Be thankful for life's small blessings, but expect greatness from each day. It is shocking, but many times we ask more from our earthly fathers than from our Heavenly Father.

We are His children, and we need to realize that we must approach Him as a child approaches his earthly father. We must expect that He wants to provide, protect, and give to us abundantly. There is wisdom that says, "With great power comes great responsibility". I agree, but I say something else, "With great expectation comes great reward".

The world is only ever changed when our focus changes.

Look up. Empower your prayer life. Seek massive health, wealth, and wisdom; always to be used for the Kingdom and glory of God. God never says for us to be focused on just the little things. In fact, He tells us to be faithful in the little things, and then He will make us faithful in much. The little things are to be used to get to the true abundance!

Be faithful in each small task, and expect more . . . God wants to give us so much!

Live long and prosper . . . :)

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Death is terrifying because it is so ordinary. It happens all the time.
~ Susan Cheever

There's a story about a man who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He had little time left on this earth.

It was interesting to see him start to make amends with people, to start thinking about his legacy. He sold most of his belongings and gave the money to the poor. He started mentoring young people at a youth center. He volunteered his time at a local hospital. The word "on the street" was that he had found God.

Those who knew him were amazed at the difference he made in such a short time, and he often lamented the fact that he waited so long to change. But he said he was ready to go, and at peace with the inevitable. Everyone marveled at his strength.

However . . . there was one small kink in this storyline . . .

He didn't die.


He didn't have the disease he thought he had.

At first, he was overjoyed with his new-found lease on life. He told everyone at the hospital he volunteered at. He threw a party at the youth center. All was well, and life was good!

You'd think that this would be another life-defining moment for him. You know, a lesson on the power of positive thinking. Good karma, so to speak.

But an interesting thing started to happen.

He stopped giving to charity, and said he didn't have time to volunteer at the hospital anymore. Before long, word spread that he quit mentoring at the youth center. He got a new job, and someone overheard him mention that he had to plan for the future, to take care of his retirement and savings now.

Before long, those principles that were so important to him disappeared, just like the rest of his story, fading into oblivion.

Don't get me wrong. I don't blame him for any of this. It's so easy for us to judge sometimes, but truth be told, we are all unfocused.

This story has me thinking. C. S. Lewis said that God yells in our pain. I agree. Any one of us who receives a tragic diagnosis looks at life much differently. Things that were important are no longer even on the list of priorities, and age-old truths about the importance of God, family, and others quickly jump to forefront of our thoughts and actions.

Our spiritual lives are marked by the equality of the Gospel. Our physical lives are marked by the equality of death. We all possess a one-way ticket to Tombstone. When you think about it, we are all in this together . . .

We are all terminal.

We have all been diagnosed. The question is, "How do we handle it?". What are you doing with the time you have left. No one knows when or how the end will come, but everyone can see where this diagnosis is pointing, that subject of great importance . . .


Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day . . . There are only so many tomorrows. ~ Pope Paul VI

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ~ Norman Cousins

Have the courage to live. Anyone can die. ~ Robert Cody

Life is an occasion. RISE TO IT! ~ Mr. Magorium

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Worst Has Happened

An active and growing relationship with God will lead to an enhanced discovery of human nature's depravity because God will faithfully reveal the massive gulf between His holiness and our corrupt and ever-polluting heart. He will make us conscious of the distance and coldness of our love, the surges of pride and doubt, and the lack of fruit we produce. - John W. Ritenbaugh

Joy is the serious business of Heaven. - C.S. Lewis

These statements beg a deeply introspective search and an honest assessment from every living soul. This is the paradox of Christendom: The Joy of the Lord is our strength and Blessed are those who mourn.

As I look at today's church, I am troubled. We are not deeply rooted. We are not bound by the Word of Truth. We are not bond-servants to our God. There is missing the marked finality of our decision to serve, and we have such a casual attitude toward the incredible pain and suffering that the pleasures of this "season" bring to real people all around us.

Most of us are so satisfied with our facade. We attend our local country club church, we are involved with some charity work here and there. We live our lives. And we are satisfied with that. Do not mess that up, and all will be just fine.

But come face to face with the actual monster - a teenager who kills herself, another who cuts himself, a father who molests, a wife on drugs, a pastor who has an affair, a middle school girl who gets pregnant - and we have no strength, no answer, and no help.

Because we do not know our Strength, our Answer, and our Help.

We have become quite masterful at developing a worship sequence for Sunday morning, but, because of our perfunctory relationship with Him, we are wretched failures at implementation on any other day of the week.

The mark of a Christian (a bond-servant of the Most High)is a life lived by Joy, and an ever-growing recognition of what a monstrosity sin is. There is a sober strength of a heart that consistently puts itself on the line to reach the lost and hurting, knowing that we are woefully inadequate, but still leaping by faith into the deepness of our Father's embrace. He is our Strength, our Answer, and our Help.

I don't see that in today's church, and it is because our relationship with Him is so trivial. Most of us treat the Bible like a self-help book. We are tiny, weak water bugs. We skim across the surface of what He offers with no clue of the massive depth of Joy and Godly Sorrow we must plunge to so we can be properly used.

We are not marked.

We are not strengthened by JOY.

And we do not mourn.

Therefore, I am afraid the worst has happened.

We are desperately frail . . . and happy about it.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

For All The Men

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

- Rudyard Kipling ("IF")

This poem resonates with me. Regardless of the theological qualms some may have with parts of what Kipling is saying, there is a visceral understanding and reaction in the man who reads this, because this is what we all long to see and become.

In an age where manhood is constantly nullified and scorned, we look for men who live with virtue, righteousness, fearlessness, and yes . . . who define masculinity in word, thought, and deed. We look for those who will stand for justice, and we look for a man to know the difference between good and evil and then choose good.

We look for someone who will live LIFE, when all others fail; who will point the way to Truth in the face of scorn and ridicule. We long to be able to LOVE regardless . . . and that yearning is God-ordained.

Alas, there are few to look to. In fact, we all fail so miserably in our own strength.

It reminds me of what I read today in Isaiah 59:

. . . our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities:

Transgressing and denying the LORD, and turning away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words.

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter.

Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey.

Now the LORD saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede . . .

So He came Himself.

He showed us what true manhood is, and does, and suffers for Truth's sake. He is our perfect example, reconciling men to be real. We can now live up to our design.

That yearning we feel inside?

That's just our natural, instilled desire to be like Christ.

That's where we find it.

That's what a man is.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why Do You Doubt?

Matthew 14:29-31, "And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

I can't blame Peter.

I mean, after all, I lose my focus so often that sometimes I wonder if I need spiritual glasses. Let's face it. Neither you nor I are stellar examples of steadfast faith.

And we can't blame Peter for being afraid.

I've always wondered though, how many steps did Peter get before he looked down? How long did he last? How far did he walk? A step? A yard? Twenty yards?!?

Sure, he was afraid. Yes, he sank like a stone. I know, He went belly-up, so to speak. Fear gripped him, paralyzing his faith. He could just imagine tomorrow's headlines, "Peter sleeps with the fishes".

Yep, I'm aware. I've heard all the sermons.

There's no denying he did all of that . . . after he walked on water.

I'll say it again . . .

after He walked on water.

The guy walked on water!

Did you ever think about what was going through the mind of Christ?

When I look through the eyes of God incarnate, I feel a huge joy swell up within me. Here is a big fisherman who, after everyone else screams and runs for cover, has the guts to test the Master of the Storm.

"Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." "And He said, "Come!"

And Peter got out of the boat.

Peter got out of the boat.

I love this verse! He defied fear, doing what nobody else would do. He opened a door between the supernatural and the natural, showing us a reality we could not see before. He performed a miracle of faith in the middle of the worst possible moment, the worst possible scenario, the hardest proving ground in the vicinity. He succeeded where everyone else failed.

He did more with those few seconds than anyone else in history could boast of . . . and that's why I'm impressed; that's why I'm inspired; that's why I love Peter!

And that's precisely why Jesus responded the way he did.

"You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

An accusation? An indictment on Peter? If we go with the age-old consensus, then yes, Peter is the proverbial black sheep of wave walking.

But I think there's more here. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I can't see every one's point. Sure, He failed. He sank. He cried for help.

But if there's an indictment on anyone, it's on the other eleven disciples.

It's an indictment on us.

Peter's the one who got out of the boat. He's the one who had faith, small as it was! More importantly . . . he acted on it.

And Jesus acknowledges that. "You of little faith . . ."

The other disciples had none.

See, the problem wasn't Peter's faith. His faith was just fine, at first.

Three chapters away from this moment, Jesus explains. "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed . . . nothing will be impossible for you."

Peter's faith was powerful! He was planting mustard plants with every step! He believed and he acted. At that moment, the impossible became the possible. At that moment, for those few seconds, someone other than the Son of God stood on water. That amazes me.

And it is here that we see Jesus' statement for what it was. "You of little faith". With this, He both acknowledges the power of what Peter's faith was, and chides him for what it became.


Because the problem wasn't his faith. It was actually working quite well for him. The problem was what happened next.

He looked at the waves, at the storm, and he listened to popular sentiment that said, "This shouldn't be happening!!!!".

And he sank.

Jesus asks him a very direct question, "Why did you doubt?".

No beating around the bush. No exasperation. Our Savior had a way of getting right to the heart of the matter, as He always does.

Why are you doubting? Where's the logic in stopping now? You were already living the miracle! You were already doing the impossible!

Why. Did. You. Doubt?

Shakespeare sums it up nicely for us . . . “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win".

Doubt's only purpose is to destroy the miracle.

Why would we allow that?

Why do you doubt?

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

We Are Priceless

Fear does not become us.

We are made to shine, just like a diamond. The pressures of life, even direct attacks from our enemy, can actually work in our favor; molding and shaping us to the desired perfection that is preset to our design.

We are made to be brilliant, and the only substance that is capable of dulling us is fear.

It's so unfortunate and tragic in the truest sense, especially when we catch a glimpse of the situation from God's point of view.

The idea of fear overpowering us is like trying to break into Fort Knox with a spoon. It's preposterous . . .

but that's what happens to us. We are so magnificently made, but we so willingly hand over the keys of our worth, because of fear.

We do it to ourselves. We buy into the facade, and it's so easy for our enemy. All he has to do is present the world's most popular question . . . "What if".

We do the rest to ourselves. We have become masters of internal sabotage; shooting ourselves in the foot, so to speak.

And it's so unnecessary.

It's like finding the biggest diamond in the world, then choosing to paint it orange and call it a pumpkin. There's no logic to it.

Fear does not become us.

It doesn't make us more attractive. It doesn't make us happier. It doesn't bring peace to our lives. It doesn't strengthen our ministry. It doesn't repair our marriages. It doesn't help the poor or feed the hungry. It doesn't make us become more selfless. It doesn't bring us closer to God. It doesn't enable our maturity and, regardless of what most of us believe, it doesn't even keep us safe! It doesn't enrich us in anyway.

It's useless . . . unless we give it value.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Monster Under Your Bed

There's a Monster under your bed.

At least that's what I was told at the tender age of five.

My family and I were staying at my cousin's house one summer while we were on vacation. I can still remember it so clearly. My Uncle and Aunt lived in a white parsonage on the side of a hill by a little country church. I think it was in Pennsylvania, or maybe Eastern Ohio. We were visiting from out-of-state, and it was a hot, muggy week.

While the adults visited, my cousins and I played at one end of the house by the stairs going down into the basement.

I can still see the doorway and the brown wooden hand rail leading downward into the gloom, the stairs dropping off into the darkness, lit by a solitary light bulb hanging high over head. I can even smell the familiar aroma of canned vegetables and dusty jars, and remember feeling trepidation because of what the older kids were saying.

They were telling me about the Monster.

They said he lived under the stairs, and every night before we went to sleep he would slither up that hand rail and glide down the hall into our room and under our bed where he would wait for us to come . . .

He wanted a snack. And five-year-old boys are a delicacy, or so they say.

I was more than a little concerned. Yes, we had stairs at home too, but I could stay away from them indefinitely. I was really worried about my bed.

I liked it. My bed was cool and comfortable. I could lie awake at night and create imaginary worlds and scenarios, usually involving me being a cowboy with six-guns that, miraculously, never ran out of bullets and bad guys that were always caught. After my Dad or Mom tucked me in, I was good to go!

But now I had something entirely different to worry about. I was no longer safe. How was I going to get in or out of my bed now, without him grabbing me?

He was under there, and he was waiting. It was horrible.

I tried to forget about him! I pulled the covers over my head, but that didn't work. I sang songs . . . nope, still there. I was stuck.

Forget about getting up in the middle of the night to get a drink or use the restroom! No sir, that wasn't an option at all. If it did get so bad that I couldn't resist the urge to go, then I would line up on one side of my bed to run and jump off as far out of reach as possible. Then I would run back in and jump from as far out as possible to get back in. I didn't want to be grabbed and pulled under.

I took great precautions to stay away from him.

Fortunately, my Dad eventually saw my antics and informed me that there was no Monster! It didn't help much though, because I didn't really believe him. For months after that I would make him look under the bed when he tucked me in, just to make sure . . .

I'm a father now, and yes, I've had to look under the bed for my children several times! But as we grow older, we tend to lose that fear and are able to put the fable to rest in the proper place of mythology and fairy tales of children, and that's fine. We forget the terror we felt, and lock the memory away for good. I guess it's good to be able to put these things in their proper place.

But I've lately been reminded of another Monster who slithers into our lives, and waits for us.

He's hungry.

He's been here a long, long time.

And he's very real.

Revelation 12:7-9 "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

Ephesians 6:12 - "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens."

I Peter 5:8 "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

He's here, he's real, and we're on the menu.

But I'm afraid we don't see the danger. In fact, I'm convinced we have placed our true Enemy in the world of myth, fable, and fairy tale. "Legend has it . . ." we say, but we don't really believe there is a Satan, a Dragon, or a Serpent.

And that's extremely dangerous, because he does believe. James 2:19 says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder."

He does everything in his power to destroy us with our own apathy. Our human condition dictates that we grasp and take advantage of everything good from our Messiah, but we scoff at the Monster. We dismiss him. He's not really that important right? After all, the war has already been won! He was defeated at Calvary! His heyday is over! Right?

Then why are we dropping like flies? Why are there wounded and bleeding warriors all around me? Why does this world look and feel like a war zone?

Because it's not over until it's over.

We call a person who denies the existence of God an atheist. What do we call a person who denies the existence of Satan?

This time, the Monster under our bed is real, but for some reason we keep pulling the covers over our head! Therefore our view of sin has changed, and so has our standard of holiness. We live a prosperity gospel in a world of opinion, fable, and fancy.

And that's when we are the most delicious.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our Deepest Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson

My mirror has cracked. One by one pieces are falling onto the floor, with a soft, wet thud in the darkness at my feet. I'm confused, because with each piece that falls I brace myself for the loud shatter of glass.

But there is none. Just a muffled, damp thud . . . thud . . . thud.

My identity is skewed, and I panic because I can no longer see my reflection . . .

Something's happening.

I can now see that behind my mirror is another . . . this one somehow different. The person I see is still recognizable as myself, but the colors are brighter; the darkness that enveloped me before is now gone, replaced by a light so beautiful that it glows out of the frame and into the room.

And in this new light, I can now see the reason for my confusion. My cracked mirror wasn't a mirror at all, but a painting of sorts, fastened over the reflection of my true self. A painting fashioned by my own hand. A self-proclaimed masterpiece of dark impressionism, where the subject is hinted at and the truth about my identity has been made relevant to the point of absurdity . . . almost to the point of treason.

And I've been comfortable with that . . . until now.

But now my facade has been broken.

My last-ditch attempts to control my own image have been supremely thwarted by the very One who created me.

He wants to show everyone my true reflection . . . of His glory . . . in me.

I have been hiding behind what I used to be, finding a sick, twisted comfort in the familiar rags of MY painting, but that will not do.

He is exposing me for who I am NOW.

I am Royalty. A child of Heaven. A shining witness of Redemption to all the world.

My deepest fear is realized.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Then Shall Live

I have found no other song that encapsulates worship such as this one:

What a message! What an incredible glimpse at what worship in Heaven could be like!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Heavenly Hugs and A Father's Heart . . .

It's early. I've already walked three miles with my friend Kevin and have been sitting in my chair in the living room, enjoying my quiet time, consumed in my thoughts about the day ahead.

Reagan just padded down the stairs a minute ago, and came teetering over to my chair, his eyes still sleepy and a smile on his face. He reached for me and I picked him up and gave him a big hug. Whatever I was thinking of, quite honestly, disappeared. My day stopped and we just enjoyed loving on each other for a few minutes, father and son. It was quite heavenly!

I have learned to cherish these moments, because they are becoming such a rarity. Once he wakes up, Reagan becomes a tour de force of energy and toddler mayhem! Life must be conquered! Toys must be broken! Walls must be written on! There's so much to learn and do! Busy, busy, busy!

To be able to hug him during the day is a lesson in futility.

And right in the middle of our heavenly hug, it hit me . . .

This is what God wants to do every day with us. He wants to love on us too, just as a father wants to love on his son or daughter. Scripture tells us that His mercies are new every morning, because of His great love!

Read it for yourself.

Lamentations 3:21-23 says, " Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

But sometimes I see myself in Reagan. I get up, and before I know it I'm off! Things to do! People to see! Places to go! Toys to break!

And I forget about my time with my Heavenly Father.

Just yesterday, somebody was talking about the intricate details of showing our love to God, and praising Him with this decision and that worship song. That's fine, but we also need to know that God wants to love on us too!

Forget about the theology of worship for just a minute, and instead view God as our Father who wants to spend time with us, whose great love is renewed every single day for YOU and ME.

I love the lyrics to this song:

There he was just waiting, in our old familiar place.
An empty spot beside him, where once I used to wait
to be filled with strength and wisdom for the battles of the day.
I would have passed him by again but I clearly heard him say


I miss my time with you
those moments together
I need to be with you each day
and it hurt's me when you say
you're too busy, busy trying to serve me.
But how can you serve me when your spirit's empty?
There's a longing in my heart
wanting more than just a part of you.
It's true, I miss my time with you

(verse two)
What do I have to offer?
How can I truly care?
My efforts have no meaning when your presence isn't there.
But you'll provide the power if I take time to pray.
I'll stay right here beside you and you'll never have to say..


I miss my time with you
those moments together
I need to be with you each day
and it hurt's me when you say
you're too busy, busy trying to serve me.
But how can you serve me when your spirit's empty?
There's a longing in my heart
wanting more than just a part of you.
It's true, I miss my time with you

- (Larnelle Harris, "I Miss My Time With You")

Take some time today to let your Heavenly Father love on YOU.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mind Games

2 Timothy 1:7 - "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

Fear becomes sin when we refuse to take it captive to the obedience of Christ.

It is a very effective weapon waged by our enemy in the battle for our soul (our mind, intellect, emotions, etc.) This is where the Christian's battles are fought (as you well know!) Fear tempts us to let go of belief; to turn our backs on faith.

This is partially why Paul tells us, in 2 Cor. 10:3-5, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses."...

"We are destroying SPECULATIONS and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ".

Fear is what stands in the way of obedience and is the ultimate enemy of our faith. It's primary purpose is to DESTROY our faith by producing, in us, disobedience.

When we refuse to take it captive, we sin. We tell God, "I don't believe You are bigger".

We idolize Fear.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Most of us do NOT have an effective prayer life.

I'm convinced this is our reality because of our lack of understanding in the process of prayer. If we do succeed in praying daily (which is becoming so rare these days), for the most part it consists of us telling God what we need and want.

Then we go and live our lives.

What a travesty! We become guilty of a casual or perfunctory prayer life without realizing that our outlook determines our outcome. We must have a proper view of the process of prayer, and this includes a mental platform or foundation made up of a principled mindset. There are several key realizations and beliefs we must have to actually have a real prayer life.

In Scripture, we find many uses for prayer, such as prayers for covering, strength, blessing, healing, peace, rest, praise, petition, tearing down of strongholds, and more. The first realization we must have, however, is that we are in a Spiritual War. We pray through Jesus to God against our Enemy. Every prayer encapsulates this process.

Secondly, we must be blameless before God. After our initial prayer of repentance, our prayers must be consistently lifted from a holy life and mind of Christ. We must be holy as He is holy, and this can only be imparted to us through the Holy Spirit working in our surrendered body, soul, and spirit. This is a huge reason we are ineffective in our prayers. Many of us either live with sin in our lives, or we refuse to give full control to the Holy Spirit. We must be sanctified entirely! This empowers us, and makes our prayers effective. "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16)

The third realization we have is that God is bigger. Bigger than what we either know or don't know. Bigger than our limited view of His will. Bigger than anything we can imagine. This realization alone allows us to compare our earthly fear against the backdrop of His nature. "The Fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether" (Psalm 19:9)

Earthly fear loses. Period. And once we live our lives without fear, we start to see the freedom God gives. The abundant life . . .

God is BIGGER.

You can illustrate this point by finding a picture on your wall in your house. Walk up to this picture and put your eye flush against it, as close as you can. Without previously knowing what the picture looked like, there is no way you can discern what the picture is. You are simply incapable of seeing the BIG PICTURE. God reveals to us parts of the picture, as we mature and walk with Him, but His revealed Word is primarily about the Gospel, which is more than enough for now.


And this brings us to another important realization so vital to our mindset of prayer.

It’s not about what we want
, only because our wants are so limited. Our view is simply not big enough to even be able to see what we should want.

Our will is not irrelevant, however. No, it is actually the most powerful tool in the makeup of humanity. We do matter in this equation, because and only because He chooses to take our surrendered will and use us, through that choice we make, to do HIS WILL. His will is all-important, and our entire fulfillment, the reason we enjoy life, is found through HIM using US.

He is Trustworthy
. For us to realize this in our prayer life, we must give up control. This is so hard for us, but it is vital to our success. We must trust Him with our life. We must lay it down voluntarily for Him to take it up again. This is what the Father commands. What helps us in this process is the growing realization we have that He loves us so much. Couple that with our knowledge that He is bigger, and we have a recipe for trust.

We are to pray Expectantly.
Scripture tells us to come boldly to the throne, and why wouldn't we? If we believe and know that He is God, and we have the proper mindset, then there is no reason for a faithless prayer life. The Father's will be done, and we speak through Jesus our intercessor, in His name and for His sake . . . BOLDLY.

"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen"

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Impotent Gospel and the End of the Gospel (notes)

When we reject the Truth God gives, we take the pardon He offers, this way out of our Monstrous Mess, and we trample it, nullify it, and render it useless for the saving of our soul. We reject it. We render it IMPOTENT. The definition of impotent means “To be powerless: lacking strength or power; being unable to perform the function designed for.”

We render the Gospel Impotent when we try to live it without the empowerment of the Spirit, and we render it impotent when we reject Truth.

But why would we want to? The insanity of sin. Professing to be wise, we become the fool!!!!!

The Gracious Gift of God . . . miscarried . . . The Impotent Gospel.

There is the Equality of the Gospel. We have all sinned, thus making us equal in our sin and equally important to God in His redemptive nature.

There is also the Effectiveness of the Gospel. We cannot be effective communicators of the Good News until the Holy Spirit takes full residence in our beings. We cannot be effective until we are empowered.

The Equality of the Gospel. The Effectiveness of the Gospel.

Then finally, in the truest sense of Word, there will be an Ending of the Gospel.

There is coming a day when the offered pardon of God will end. There is a terrible finality coming that we cannot imagine. No more second chances. No more do-overs. No more mercy, renewed and refreshed each day. No more offer of Forgiveness. No more prevenient Grace. No more call to the Gospel, and no more rejection of the Gospel, because it will be GONE, out of reach to the one who refuses to believe and follow.

This is a day when Truth is shown to be what it has always been – the ultimate deliverer for those who stand with it, and the damnation of those who have already rejected it.

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6-7.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Gospel Incarnate

This is what I'm preaching on Sunday . . .

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Our Perfunctory Pastime

Our nation is desperately in need of spiritual awakening. But our emphasis on evangelism apart from doctrine will certainly not do it. The Great Awakening was the result of solid doctrinal preaching that addressed both the heart and the mind. It was preaching that dared to expose sin in the church. And God used it to sweep thousands into his family. Perhaps it is time that we dug again these old wells and learned why their waters flowed with life so fruitfully and bountifully.

- Warren Wiersbe

I recently read about a preacher who lost his church and local ministry. He had pastored there for twenty-one years, but due to some changes he asked for there rose a conflict. For two years debate raged inside the walls of his parish, and in the end he was asked to leave.

His faults? Well, he used imagination in his preaching and was devoted to his congregation. He also loved theology, but recognized that he had to first address the matters of the heart before the mind was changed.

But the real nitty gritty happened when he started to address sin openly. He started to ask for accountability and a Christian lifestyle that bore fruit. He started to examine customs and traditions, such as the partaking of Holy Communion by non-believers. He had a deep desire to see people have a personal relationship with God rather than a "country club" of tradition and ritual. . .

and that's what did him in.

He refused to accomodate his theology just to get results, and it cost him so many friends and his position. He cared too much about siding with truth for the good of his congregation, and even though he was deeply wounded by their rejection, he stayed true to his doctrine and continued to write and preach about the possibility for each of us to have our own spiritual awakening.

Our own personal relationship with God.

Our own sins forgiven.

Our own passions awakened for the Divine.

Our own ability to hear the call to ministry and to follow.

And when I read that story, it chilled me. We are in such a dangerous place in today's world. Our society has come such a long way from the good ole' days it seems.

Or has it?

Not really.

See, that pastor I just described is none other than Jonathan Edwards. THE Jonathan Edwards. One of the most influential Christian minds in American History. An instigator in our nation's own historical Great Awakening.

And the year he was thrown out of his church?


259 years ago . . .

The place?

Northampton, MA.

He took over the church in 1729, and immediately found a society that treated church as a perfunctory pastime. It was so bad, that they had what were called Halfway Covenants. This was for people who had been baptized as a child, but made no current profession of faith. They were considered to be baptized into the family of God, but couldn't vote. They sinned openly, but were part of a covenant with the church.

Many of the local preachers were persons who attended schools of religious study, but they themselves had no idea or concern for a personal relationship with God or abstaining from sin. George Whitefield, a friend of Edwards', said of the current situation, "the reason why congregations have been so dead is because dead men preach to them". (I see this happening today, in current economic conditions, where the Masters of Divinity program is currently at the top of the list for people who are going back to graduate school.)

So these churches were filled with people who spoke the lingo but had no idea about what it meant to be saved and to actually LIVE the life and abundance Christ offers.

Sound familiar?

I'm amazed at how little has changed. I'm both encouraged by what Edwards later became and a little disheartened by what he had to go through. Sometimes we think that these champions of the faith were untouchable, but in reality they were you and I. They simply did their best to believe, follow, and disciple. And it was rarely easy like we want to think that it was.

The perfunctory pastime approach is still alive and well. Some of us still play church. We show up on Sunday. We smile. We hide our true emotions. We do our best to keep the preacher from speaking to our hearts. We sin without guilt. We try to keep Christianity an intellectual idea only, so we can rationalize a million other things to prioritize before it.

And then we wonder why we can't breathe.

God never asked to be one of our priorities. He is our LIFE. Our AIR that we breathe, in a spiritual sense.

The funny thing is that all of this is for our own good. The mind of Christ, the wonder of baptism, the personal relationship, and the accountability is for our own good. Jonathan Edwards never spent a day asking himself, "what can I do today that will bring irreparable damage to my congregation?". Neither does your pastor. They are simply living the doctrine. Living the evident Truth. Shining a light into darkness.

All of it is for our own good, and for us to reject it is like a child throwing a temper-tantrum. We hold our breath, and kick until we pass out. Only to wake again to the same questions, the same principles, and the same Gospel staring us in the face.

It's time to breathe again. Be an instrument of change in your church. Live your faith! Present evangelism based on sound, biblical doctrine. You may get thrown out, but you can also change the world!

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pretence becomes Reality

Today is the first day of my life that I find myself a full-time pastor.

I have left my job as an investment consultant, and I am now the Minister of Music and Youth (my official title) at the Winchester First United Methodist Church. I am excited about the opportunities in these ministries. They have so much promise . . .

But I'm also feeling trepidatious, to a certain degree. That is normal, I guess, but this week has been especially difficult. The Church will pay me well, but not quite enough for us to live on. So I was waiting on news of a job in town. The interviews were promising, and I felt I had a good chance to get the job.

I didn't.

Lots of people were praying and fasting for me. Tara and I have been prayed up and obedient. Things were looking up, but God said "No", and that's ok. Our testimony isn't really viable if we can't trust Him with the big picture.

But that doesn't mean it's not difficult. Sometimes we all get tired of trusting, and would REALLY like to just know what is around the corner.

So right now, life is an adventure that we really haven't signed up for. Honestly, everyday has been an exploration into finding where our next meal is coming from. And every day, God has provided for us in really weird, unexpected ways.

This morning, I was coming back from the store, and I was talking to God. In the middle of our conversation I had an "aha" moment and said something like this . . . "God, there is one area I feel that you have no idea what it's like to be human, and that's the area of our limited view. I feel that you can't really understand what it's like to not know how you are going to pay your bills next week, or how you are going beat back depression when your electricity is shut off while you are walking out the door to go to church and minister to people."

We've all been there. Let's just be honest. We put on our masks and tell everyone that we are doing great, but that's not true all of the time.

And yes, pastors go through this stuff too!

So, sitting in my driveway, I ended my conversation with God by getting what I thought was the last word. I said something like, "Even Jesus Your son, God in the flesh, had no sin, no fear, and no worry. He knew your will for Him, and that excludes 90% of us because we don't really don't know. It is constantly being revealed, day after day after day . . . and we have to try our best not to sin, or fear, or worry"

Then I went inside to eat my bologna sandwich with the family.

After lunch, I talked with Tara about our plans for the day, and then I walked into the living room. We have a book cabinet there, where our favorite books are kept. Without knowing why, I walked to the cabinet, opened it up and removed a devotional called "A Year With C.S. Lewis".

I haven't opened that book in over a year. I opened it up and it literally fell open to today's date, June 27th. Here is what I read:

Pretence Becomes Reality

You see what is happening. The Christ Himself, the Son of God who is man (just like you) and God (just like His Father) is actually at your side and already at this moment beginning to turn your pretence into a reality.

This is not merely a fancy way of saying that your conscience is telling you what to do . . . for you are no longer thinking simply about right and wrong; you are trying to catch the good infection from a Person. It is more like painting a portrait than like obeying a set of rules . . .

The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to "inject" His kind of life and thought, His Zoe, into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man.

The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.

- from Mere Christianity

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Problem With Grace

This is difficult for me to write. Not because I'm the only one. If I were the only one, then maybe I could accept it a little easier. I could try harder, and dig in a littler deeper. I could discipline myself more. I could will myself to change. I could chant "Yes, we can" over and over and it would actually help. But it doesn't.

I'm not alone here. In fact, I'm one among many . . . I'm one included. We are all together in this scenario. No exceptions.

We are united by Grace.

That fact presents a different mindset and at the same time gives us an epiphany on the human condition.

We can do NOTHING to improve our image or reputation in God's eyes. We are valuable only because He places value on us. Nothing we do can ever change that.

To be sure, our choices do have consequences, and we pay dearly for the good or the bad things we do, and also for other's choices (unfortunately). Everything we do has an effect. Our actions are so powerful to even change the world!

But they can't change Grace.

By Grace, God gives us an equality without human measurement. Grace is so amazing, and I know the blessings we all receive from His goodness. So, since we all enjoy the same placement, you'd think I'd be more OK with the situation? But to be honest, I'm not always OK with it. Sometimes I struggle to accept the fact that I cannot change God's view of me.

When I look at my torn, ragged record, I despair in my flesh. I want to do everything I can to fix my past, to right my wrongs. But Grace says I can't do enough to deserve its favor.

We are so conditioned by our culture. We have all been well-indoctrinated in the intricacies of justice, fairness, and personal responsibility . . . and choice . . . and consequence.

So on this side of the discussion, the hard facts of my life dictate that I constantly prove myself. I do my best to take care of my family. I work hard to make money. I set an expectation of excellence in what I do, and review my strengths and weaknesses to see what I need to work on.

I'm in control.

But then comes this new formula that nullifies that mindset, and obliterates my hard work = success ethic. In fact, this formula nullifies my entire ethical process. I can't be ethical enough to get the desired result. There's no way for me to have X + Y = Value.

That's the problem with Grace.

It is entirely based on His view of us . . . that intrinsic value He alone gives. We can't manipulate the numbers in any way to promote ourselves. He alone works the formula. It is simply beyond our concept.

Grace tells us that God gives us more than we can ever earn, and that offends our flesh because our physical rules of engagement require nothing but the works of the flesh.

It's just another classic story of Freedom vs. Pharisaism.

Thus, the reason for my discomfort.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

This Place Is Death!

This year, 2009, has been a year of Death.

Six weeks ago, we heard the tragic news of a college friend who lost his wife and two young children in an accident. His whole family gone, with no goodbyes . . . no warning.

Yesterday we received the news that this friend, devastated by grief, has taken his life.

Just this week, a local business man lost his life to cancer . . . his young family is in so much pain.

A lady lies dying in a hospital bed tonight. Her heart is failing her. My father is her pastor. Two years ago, her husband walked around the back of his house to their shed. He hung himself. No goodbyes. No warning. She's been living with this every day . . .

Three weeks ago, another college acquaintance lost his 7-year-old daughter to tragedy. She coughed really hard, went to her mommy, and died in her arms.

Tragic. Devastating. Senseless. Illogical.

We ask the obvious question, "Where is God in tragedy?" "Why does this happen?"

I was watching the series LOST online the other day, and I was struck by the title of the episode - "This Place Is Death!" With everything going on in our lives, with all of these tragic events, I identified with the character who, in the throes of madness, begs the people around her to stay far away from this place, to never come back.

This Place Is Death.

I am a youth pastor. This year we are tackling the hard questions each of these teens are facing. I asked that all of them write down a question that they or one of their classmates have been struggling with. One of the questions was, "Why does God allow good people to die?".

I don't know.

Of course, I can come up with a theological answer that includes "we are all appointed to die" or something about rain and the just vs. the unjust. But the truth is that I'm not God, and I don't have a clue why good people with great futures and wonderfully effective ministry's are taken.

I am grieved, but when that happens I have taught myself a peculiar habit . . . I try to see the situation through God's eyes. This is dangerous if we are not ready and willing trust Him with what we find, because we so often don't know Him like we think we do. In difficult, tragic situations, the answers we find are more often than not extremely demanding in their nature. They can require a level of trust that we may not necessarily be ready to give at this time. Many times we must finish the grieving process before we can delve deeper into Who God is in this situation.

The World Death Rate is cycled as follows . . .

1.78 people die each second

107 people die each minute

6,390 people die each hour

153,000 people die each day

56,000,000 people die each year

3,900,000,000 people will die during our lifetime (average of 70 years)

Think about these numbers . . . they are staggering aren't they? Look at them again; slower this time. Now think about this . . .

God sees every one of them, and not only does He see them, He cares infinitely about them in a way you and I can never fathom. He is with each one of those people every second of their life. He is loving each one of them at every choice, with every relationship, at every belief opportunity, in every trial, during every triumph . . .

in every tragedy.

Where is God in tragedy?

God was with my friend's wife and two children when they breathed their last.

He was with my friend as he sat in his car, clutching his child's stuffed animal, grieving to the end.

God was with our local businessman as he succumbed to cancer, his family by his side, our church's prayer vigil outside his door.

God is with my father's parishioner as she lays dying tonight.

He was with her husband as he hung himself.

God held that precious 7-year-old girl as she lay dying in her mother's arms.

Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

2nd Corinthians 4:17 talks about this "lightness". It says, "For the lightness of our present affliction works out for us a far more excellent eternal weight of glory".

The finite being compared to the infinite.

It boggles my mind, and it's so hard to comprehend! How can tragedy be compared to the "lightness" of a burden? But we really have to believe that either God is an insane lunatic puppet master in love with the macabre, or He is wiser and bigger and more loving and merciful than we can comprehend.

Things are out of balance. Things are off-kilter. We see so well that Life is not what it should be because this is us compared to the redeemed world we long for. But this is where we are NOW. This is what we know. We see the emptiness, the hole, and despise the tragedy. We see the offensive and the pain, and our reaction is to do everything we can to immediately right the wrong. We do our best to reverse the curse. We live in a fallen world, and so desperately want to lift ourselves out of this darkness. We see the downside all to clearly. And we mourn. We sob. We ask where God is in all of this . . .

God is here. He, who walks with our loved ones through The Valley of the Shadow of Death, holding their hand, is also here in our pain. We mourn because we lose. We lose someone we love so much, and ask how He could allow this.

Then we see through God's eyes.

We see Christ on the Cross.

Normally this image would bring a mixed sense of joy and awe, because of what we know about our Savior . . .

But then we see something different. We see the shift as God turns his back on the very sin that is killing His Son. We feel the incredible shame that sin brings, so heavy that it turns day into night. We see a child ask His Father "why?". We feel the deafening silence.

And then we realize that God knows . . . He knows what we go through. He knows what a parent goes through when a child dies. He knows the agony a wife feels when confronted by the tragic suicide of her husband. He knows the betrayal we feel when we have been torn apart by others, because He went through it.

Christ knows because He has tasted death.

And it is here that we have an incredible opportunity! We can now see both sides of the the death experience.

A Father's heart broken, and a Son's heart pierced.

We now have an advocate on both sides of sin's curse. And we start to understand what He sees when He hands us the keys to Comfort.

2 Corinthians1:3-4 says, "What a wonderful God we have. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us."

2Thessalonians 2:16-17 says, "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself AND God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting comfort and hope which we don't deserve, comfort your hearts with all comfort, and help you in every good thing you say and do."

In my grief, I'm trying to see through God's eyes.

I see God's mercy. I see God there with us each second on our journey to and from tragedy. I see His goodness triumphant through us, as we take our experiences and use them to comfort others. I see that tragedy turns to triumph, lived out in our Hope.

I see sin in a constant state of defeat.

I don't know why good people are taken by tragedy. I don't know why the innocent are buried way too soon. Some may say this place is death, and they would be right. But in no other place is death more symbolized than in an old rugged cross at Calvary.

And it is there I see Deliverance.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Peace! Peace? Peace. (Re-post)

This is one of the first blogs I wrote, back in 2007. It seems appropriate right now in my life to re-post this. I feel a little like I'm in a dream, and peace is somewhat elusive these past few days. I find comfort in the following Truth:

I have found that in our life, with its ups and downs (emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc), there are different punctuation marks in our times of peace, or different types of peace we have.
There are the highs of life, when all is working well, where family and friendships are good. These are times when peace is an exclamation point on a great day or week or month. These are times when favor is bestowed upon you, seemingly out of nowhere. People love you, life is grand, and success lays out the red carpet. I enjoy these times because they are so few. Their effect, however is felt and remembered for years. Aaahh . . . . Peace!

Then there are the parts of life's timeline where we wonder where and what peace is. When nothing seems to go right. When we wonder if being a colossal failure at everything is just our lot in life. When we wonder, "Could this be all there is? Am I really this weak and stupid?" These are the times of conflict when we are tempted to believe God doesn't care. These are the times when we feel "out of favor" with our Creator. These times are hard to pull out of. The question mark looms over us . . . Peace?

Finally, if we are faithful in our highs and lows, we come through them to a deeper knowledge of who God is. If we continue to get up when we fall, to still obey when we struggle, to trust when we can't find immediate answers, we will have survived the mental tests and realize what God-given peace actually is.

This is a peace that rests in the knowledge of who God is, not what He does. This peace finds Truth in any situation, good or bad. This peace is a plain statement. Nothing affects its place. Nothing moves its meaning. This peace remains a straight line, as unchanging as God Himself, because it is sent from God Himself.

This peace is the best kind, because God is happiest when we can look up through the smoke of spiteful circumstance and still trust. We can look up when have been blessed with success beyond our wildest dreams and trust Him WITH IT. This peace says "God is enough", regardless. In this time we now know what true peace is. It is peace . . . period . . . Peace.

This timeline is part of our process. God leads us to and through each phase, building us as we go, leading us to what He wants us to become. It does take time, but the time it takes is really different for each person, and God ordains it. He knows all and plans all. Sometimes I become frustrated when I am not "learning" fast enough, compared to others. But I have come to realize that God is leading each of us individually, at His pace.

He uses everyone, and surprisingly enough, the weak are his first choice. Take heart in whatever part of your life you are. He will lead you to His fulfillment.


© Copyright Derek Hickman 2007

Monday, January 5, 2009

Apples, Crumbs,and Intrinsic Value

I'm sick. It's one of those feverish, achy, stomach churning viruses that wears you out but doesn't let you sleep. I think the fever's gone, but the stomach thing won't let me go . . .

So I'm sitting here. On the floor. Looking at my computer screen. It's 2:19 a.m.

Around me are the markings of a 22-month-old.

Next to my computer, on the coffee table, are the scattered remains of Reagan's bedtime snack, or "Chux" as he calls the Chex cereal we put in a bowl for him to munch while he plays with "MommyDaddy". On the floor next to the coffee table lies a bag of apples he dragged in from the kitchen, demanding "mappels". I know, the kid can eat. You have no idea . . .

I love him so much!

When he smiles, the room lights up. When he cries, his precious cheeks are stained with tears of deep sorrow, or so it seems to him! I pick him up and kiss the tears away no matter what, no matter how deeply wronged he feels he has been by his older siblings.

My heart aches when he actually does get hurt, and I can hardly stand to let him learn "the hard way", although sometimes it has to be done . . . for his own good.

Sometimes I feel like a child myself when I help him with something so simple as putting his shoes on. Sometimes I see God in his little face, in his action, and in his wonderment. I've seen the hardened faces of strangers soften when they look into his curious eyes. I've seen the stern gaze of a great grandpa turn to warm affection when Reagan smiles at him. Even on my most discouraging days, the thought of him brings joy, and even peace to me. He loves me unconditionally . . .

He's my boy. My beloved son. I would die for him in a heartbeat. No hesitation.

Not because of how successful I think he will someday become. Not because he's good all the time. Not because he's perfect. He's not. Yes, he's adorable and incredibly cute, but that's not the reason either.

He's my son. My "Creation" if you will. His value is intrinsic and God-given. I also love him unconditionally, as any Father does. I place value on him because of what he means to me. He's mine.

Sound familiar?

Tonight I saw a 28-year-old woman get robbed. She was scammed, destitute, and totally hopeless. Stranded by the very person she had just helped. He took her purse, some other incidentals, and a huge part of her self-worth. She was dirty and worn from traveling for hours. She had no money to get back home to Mississippi. He had promised her payment for a ride that had now cost her everything.

Sitting at the stop sign, I saw it happen. I watched him and some friends take everything she had, hurriedly shove it in another car's trunk, and drive off while she was in the station buying coolant for her radiator.

I watched her come out of the store and totally lose it when she realized what had happened. I saw her devalued. I saw her devastation. I saw her lose hope. I saw their actions telling her what she had been trying so hard to fight, for so many years now . . . "You're worthless" "You're a loser" "You've failed again" "Nobody cares".

And I thought of God . . . the Father.

She is His. His beloved daughter. He would die for her in a heartbeat. No hesitation. In fact, He already has.

Not because of how successful she may someday become. Not because she's good all the time. Not because she's perfect. Not because she is happy and has an attractive personality. To be honest, she wasn't in the best frame of mind at the time. Not because she's made all the right choices with her life. She obviously hasn't.

She's his child. His "Creation" if you will. Her value is intrinsic and God-given. God loves her unconditionally, as any Father does. She has a place of value because of what she means to Him. She's His. She is valuable. No other reason is necessary!

I helped her as best as I could. We put her up in a hotel for the night through our church emergency outreach. I helped her report the crime to police, since I had seen it and was fortunate enough to write down the license plate number of the getaway car. I gave her some money for food and gas to get to Mississippi.

That was the least I can do, and probably the last time I will ever see her. I helped her temporarily, but that's not what impacted her the most. What mattered most, what softened her hardened face, what dried her tears, what changed her hurt and anger to hope . . . was when she looked into the face of another child and saw God.

"You are special to me" "You are worth it" "You are incredibly valued" "You are loved . . . unconditionally".

So sitting here with the crumbs of my life around me, I realize so deeply the love of our Father. We are so valuable to Him. Not one of us is better or closer or more deserving than anyone else, no matter what we've done, good or bad. Our intrinsic value doesn't change in His eyes. Markets fall and rise, circumstances come and go, but our value stays the same.

Romans 5:8 - "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us".

You are worth it.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009