Visitors Welcome!

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