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Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Invasion

"A silent night
Shepherds watch their sheep
A picture of a tiny town asleep
All Heaven stands
The angels spread their wings . . ."

Take some time today to just stop.

Get alone and think the Christmas story from another angle, from another viewpoint if you will. Look at that Silent Night through the eyes of Heaven, and remember what His story really tells us . . .

The Roman empire had grown enough to allow the province of Judea to be ruled by a semi-independent ruler, Herod the Great. Politically, the Jews still fell under Roman rule.

Spiritually, however, the earth had been bound too long by this Silent Night. In fact, the silence was deafening! The fallen Dragon had painted a facade of sway over man and creation. Many lived in despair, and the hope for deliverance was fading.

A few still clung to the prophet Isaiah's writings, and prayed for the Messiah to come. The Scribes and Church leaders kept close tabs on royalty and the lineage of King David, looking for an overthrow of power; a conqueror. This seemed the logical place to look for the Messiah. King Herod himself was even watching . . .

They didn't really know what they were waiting for, and how could they? God always has plans that are bigger than our limited vision or assumption. They were looking for a conqueror over their current physical circumstance. God is more concerned about our eternal spiritual abundance. They were looking for an end to their earthly oppression. He came to bind the broken-hearted. They were looking for a new government. He was interested in freeing them completely.

That Silent Night seemed like any other dark, forsaken night. But there was something Holy coming . . .

Silence. Soft gusts of wind. The movement of the herd in a slow, relaxed churn. Low conversation. A campfire reflected off of a pair of shears. The creak of beams from the nearby holding pen. Stars shining in the Heavens, one noticeably brighter overhead. The shift of armor. A shepherd boy unfolds his evening meal from his leather pouch as the others discuss the day's events. Angels unfold their wings. Drowsy eyelids flutter to stay awake. Heaven stands to attention. As one, the sheep raise their heads, alert. The boy exhales as he thinks of what tomorrow brings. A solitary Angel inhales as the massive choir gathers above the flock . . .

Light! An immense stranger stands among them. Fear! Do not be afraid. Pronouncement! Good News! Singing! Glory to God in the Highest! Great Joy, for ALL people. He is born today!

As a sign, you'll find Him in the most unlikely place . . .

A manger?

Not exactly the planned entrance that Church leadership of the day had predicted.

Not the palace.

No royal midwife.

No proclamation of an heir to an earthly, temporal throne.

Not the obvious . . . but in a manger.

A lowly manger.

A mother's physical pain.

A smelly, lowly home for beasts of burden.

A step-father's feeble attempts to comfort.

A mother's joy!

Shepherd's worship.

A baby's battle cry.

An Invasion.

The facade of dark power begins to crack.

The War had changed. The King was here. In a split second, the tide had turned!

News of a virgin birth caused a deep shudder to go through the Kingdom of Lies.

Light had come, and the Silent Night was gone forever.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2008

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bah Humbug

Tonight, I am doing what I love most ... I'm spending time with the kids. I am forcing myself to take Saturdays off, and it's such a needed thing.

Tara is with Lauren at our high school watching "The Nutcracker", and the rest of us are sitting in the living room watching "A Christmas Carol" (2004). .

Scrooge just said this about the poor ... "Let them die, and decrease the surplus population".

This chilled me. I know people like this; who live this mindset.

I'm reminded of the Cheezit commercial ... "get your own box!" Some of us live this Scrooge mentality. Life is a big "Bah Humbug" and if you are poor and needy, it is your own fault. Get your own money, your own health, your own clothes, your own food, your own drink ... because your problems have nothing to do with ME, as Kelsey Grammer (Scrooge) so masterfully sings in this film.

Sitting here, watching this classic, I'm reminded that God is not pleased with an ungrateful heart. He chooses our heart as His vehicle of choice to deliver His love to mankind. It is no small thing that the image of a heart is a universal symbol of love!

But an ungrateful heart locks the door to this mighty redemptive God and His prevenient grace in our life, and what a horrendous thought this is! Why would anyone want to remove God from their life? Where God is not . . . quickly becomes hellish. Not only do we rob ourselves of His blessings, but we rob souls of His Kingdom.

Each year we enter the Christmas Season repeating those famous words of Tiny Tim, who says "God bless us everyone!"

And God does. Honestly, His prevenient grace works regardless of what we do, but only because of who He is.

In Luke 6, Jesus says “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that."

"And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.

"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

Those of us who ignore this command run a great risk, as Scrooge does in this Christmas tale. Scripture tells us that many are called, but few are chosen.

We find out what this means when we read Matthew 25. Jesus tells us who will be invited into Heaven. Those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, give clothes to those who are without, tend to the sick, and visit those who are in prison.

It's that simple ... and that sobering.

There are no Scrooges in Heaven.

I vote we amend Tiny Tim's speech with this addition:

"God bless us everyone, and have mercy on us! We repent of our ungrateful hearts, and pledge our giving to match our gratitude."

See ... your giving does always match your gratitude. And it has nothing to do with the amount you give. It has everything to do with how you give. Paul's letter to the Corinthians specifically tells us that we can give everything we have, but if it's done without love, then it's useless.

Gratitude tells God and allows others to see that you know your place. You realize that no amount of money, power, or prestige makes you better than the "least of these".

Gratitude makes you choke back the tears as you write a check for a stranger's groceries, for you know how kind and loving God has been to you, even in your sin and wickedness of the past.

Gratitude opens the door to blessing, both in your own life and in the lives of those God brings you in contact with.

So the question presents itself .... are we grateful enough to sacrifice our own personal comfort and prosperity to allow God to use us? God keeps tab of those who do, saying we not only will gain Heaven, but we also build treasure there through our sacrificial giving.

How grateful are you? Do your actions mirror God's blessings, or are you clinging to the pitiful shillings of a "Bah Humbug" life?

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

God's Doing Good Things In The Darkness

This is from a friend of our family, Carol Hobbs. Good thoughts I want to share with you:

Several nights ago I remembered my poinsettia.

It was a gift to me a year ago after Daniel’s dad’s wedding. The day after Thanksgiving to be exact.

It was one of two at the front of the church for Daddy and Daryl’s very beautiful Christmas wedding. Please take it home with you, they’d said.
It was a huge, gorgeous poinsettia. It even survived the trip from Ohio to Pennsylvania in the back of our Suburban. In the cold. Nestled among suitcases.

And I enjoyed it all through Christmas.

Fast forward six months.

It spent the entire summer on my front porch. It was watered. Not very regularly, I must admit. For part of the summer I was even red-neck enough to let it sit on the porch below the air conditioner sticking out of my dining room window and let the condensation drip into the pot. Lazy woman’s watering can.

You get the picture. I kind of wanted it to live, but I really didn’t give it too much attention. It even survived the mini-tornado whose high winds removed everything from the front porch.

When it started getting cold I decided to bring it inside. It was still big and leafy and green. Not looking very Christmas-y at all. But I’d heard somewhere that it needs to be in a dark place.

Ah ha! The basement dungeon we’ve got would be just the place. I took it down and watered it well.

And promptly forgot about it.

I’d meant to check on it every week and water it. You know, check in on it and see how it was faring. Didn’t happen. For me it’s “out of sight, out of mind.”

Until that night I mentioned several days ago. Oh no! I’d forgotten all about that poinsettia! By now I was kind of hoping that somehow I’d be able to coax it into blooming. For Christmas.

Today I remembered to check on that poor, forgotten plant, deep in the hidden recesses of my basement.

And there he stood. Tall. Green. Not wilting a bit. With a few whitish leaves on the top and a few just starting to turn red.

I was shocked, to say the very least.

Something was going on. There. In the dark.

In the dark and damp of my basement, the poinsettia retained moisture in its soil that light and warm air would have stolen from it. And somehow, the darkness is causing changes in its leaves. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a blooming poinsettia for Christmas.

What is God doing in your darkness?

It’s far too easy for me to curse the darkness. I want bright sunny days. Beautiful breezes. Warmth. Light. Fresh air.

But in my dark and damp God is keeping my soil from drying out too quickly. I water it regularly with tears. And He knows that deep inside the heart of the plant, darkness is necessary to produce the most beautiful blooms.

Is my basement a lovely place? Nope. The part of the basement where I put the poinsettia is pitch black and has a gravel floor. It’s a little damp. I don’t love to go there. It’s not a good place for many things.

But it’s a good place for my poinsettia.

But not for long. Only for a period of time.

Then, up he comes. Back to the sunlight. Back to the warmth of my home. Back to the pedestal where he can sit and be admired. Hopefully sporting beautiful blooms.

Remember, your darkness won’t be forever. God’s only keeping you there so your roots can drink deeply. And so the darkness can cause you to bloom.

I’m wanting to rest in my dark place and let God do His stuff. Care to join me?

Monday, September 6, 2010

New blog . . .

Hey everyone, I'm currently taking part in a 90-day challenge Bible exploration with some other church leaders. I'm blogging my thoughts at

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What lies beneath ...

I'm reading a book about the simple life. It's not a simple book. The more I read, the more convoluted the solution gets. In fact, I'm starting to realize that life is actually NOT simple at all. Life is a bowl of cherries, without the cherries. We work so hard to get what we think is going to make us happy, but we keep ending up with cherry stems in an otherwise empty bowl. There's always someone else who gets there first. There's always some other thing to do or some hoop to jump through. Nothing is new under this Sun, and all this activity is pretty much useless vanity.

I've heard it said that we are so much more than what we do, but from my perspective I've had enough of hearing how valuable I am.

I live my life. I know my screw-ups.

And so do you.

It's time to take off the costume we're wearing. It's time to dig down until we get to what lies beneath.

I'm convinced that we are guilty of using "activity" as a ruse to keep us and anyone else from seeing who we really are. This fast-food society we live in is our grand illusion. We say "look at what I'm doing!" but on the inside we are whispering "Please don't look at who I am". The church's divorce rates are the same as the rest of society. Our moral failings are rising. Our young people are leaving our congregation.

We've forgotten who we truly are. We believe we are still fallen, and we are acting like it.

I think this is why the Church at large is impotent. We are too scared to look in the mirror, repent of our failings, and then move into the truly simple life of Grace.

The enemy is among us, and he claims that Activity has replaced Identity.

Activity is our security blanket. We wrap it around us, and take solace in it when we are depressed. We crawl into it when we can't bear to look at our marriage. We add another layer when we feel the cold wind of loneliness in our relationship with God.

What's the first thing we say to someone's question of "How are you?"? I catch myself saying "Crazy busy!" What kind of answer is that?

We can be so busy . . . and so alone.

The Spirit of God states that Identity must replace Activity for our activity to be effective for the Kingdom.

I'm realizing that life is NOT SIMPLE, but I am.

I am simply a creation in the hands of an amazing Creator. So are you! He is molding us, individually, into what He plans for us. He wants to do the work. We just need to surrender to the plan.

What lies beneath all of these self-made layers we hide under? Maybe it's time for you to find out.

Take a break from your busy-ness and take a look in the mirror. God has a plan for you. It's simple, powerful, and effective.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Incredible Reality of Redemption

I never get tired of a discussion about Redemption! It’s such an incredible concept. When you think that we are so small, and God is so big. We are so tainted, and God is forgiving. We are so lost, and broken, and undeserving, yet God came to us . . . He thinks we are worth dying for. You are worth dying for. I am worth dying for. That blows my mind. I can’t really comprehend that type of sacrifice, where someone so unfathomably Perfect lays down His life for someone so . . . broken.

The significant loves the insignificant. The Triune loves the Trivial. The Relevant loves the irrelevant. The Creator loves the created. And that’s really what it’s about isn’t it. We find our worth in what our Creator thinks of us. He alone has the say so as to what our worth is. He alone can give us value. Nothing and no one else can. As hard as we try, as far as we search. . . we can never find our worth anywhere else. And so we discuss and discourse and try to wrap our minds around this incredible reality of Redemption, caught up in these three simple, almost childish words . . . “Jesus Loves YOU”.

Reality place a huge part in our redemption. It is based on Truth, and Truth sets us free. But unfortunately we know that reality is a rare thing to find today. Our enemy throws everything he can at us to get us fixated on ourselves, our accomplishments, our hurt, our triumphs, our tragedies. And so focused on our selfish desires, the sacred sometimes becomes laughable. We can hear Truth, and laugh in its face, which is exactly what our enemy wants . . .

Everywhere we look we see the headlined version of reality, based by what one tries to sell to the other. Reality shows are the craze, the fad, but recently it’s been admitted that they too are staged. We hear, from all directions, the call to this diet, to that car. He will make your life complete. I can’t live without her. Romance is where it’s at. Wealth is the answer. Hollywood has “the life”. This style is in. That celeb is out. There’s something for everyone and NOTHING SATISFIES!

Do you ever get tired of it? I looked up the term “rat race” the other day. The term “Rat Race” is a term used for an endless, self-defeating or pointless pursuit. It conjures up the image of the futile efforts of a lab rat trying to escape while running around a maze or in a wheel. In an analogy of modern times and cities, many rats in a single maze run around making a lot of noise bumping into each other, but ultimately achieve nothing (meaningful) either collectively or individually (Wikipedia).

Do you ever get sick of this life, this pace we are living it? The pain, the suffering, the searching, the loneliness. Nothing satisfies. And no one sees this more than a person in ministry. A minister’s job is to show the real against the facade of life.

But we’ve replaced the REAL for the Rationalistic. The Real for the Ruse. The Real for the Rudimentary. Our moral code has been replaced by an mtv culture that even demands we believe that there is no REAL! Really, there is no real . . . and we start to lose our logic. We start to embrace the facade.

We’re all caught up in it! Don’t think you’re not. To some extent we all are. The effect is overwhelming.

We live in a fast food society. We want what we want, and we want it now. We have replaced the formula of Desire + Hard Work = Success with a formula that reads Desire = Success. We have created a ladder of Success with one rung and then wonder why we feel so empty and disillusioned. We want what we want, with an immediate order of self-worth. The more we indulge ourselves though, the sooner we become like the writer of Ecclesiastes. We realize that NOTHING SATISFIES in this world.

And it starts to affect us spiritually.

Our churches are now filled with people who have no idea what Redemption is. Many of us go to church for years, without the slightest clue about our real spiritual state. We are inundated by the facade. We are overwhelmed by popular culture that points to everything but the REAL. Some of us come across the Law, and are convicted. Some of us try to go to church. To live right. And we wonder why we constantly fail. We have taken the mirror (the Law's true purpose) off the wall and are trying to clean ourselves with it. In Reality, Redemption is brought about by the Forgiveness that’s been offered, and our realization and the resulting repentance we must have. We must live the life of the Changed Mind, which is the true meaning of Repentance.

But we pass by the Cross with glazed eyes. We don’t see the Law of Life and Liberty that Christ’s death has given us. So we dive deeper. We forget the teachings of our fathers. We turn a deaf ear to the call of God in our lives. We go farther until we find ourselves in danger of depravity.

Because Truth is not benign. Truth is not a neat idea that works for some and not for others. No, Truth stands regardless whether we "buy into it" or not. Truth stands though the world recoils in hatred. Truth stands and will never be affected by whim.

We can do nothing to it, but Truth will always do something to us. There must be a reaction to it. We must respond, and either accept it in humility, or reject it in disbelief and pride.

The Apostle Paul says this in Romans 1:25 – “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator . . . For this reason, God gave them over to degrading passions (desires), for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of a woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men, committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error."

"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which were not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding . . . “.

Sound familiar?

Seen this on television lately?

It’s relentless. And for a reason.

Our enemy is scared to death . . .

See, we are born with a desire for abundance. God built that into our holistic makeup, otherwise Jesus wouldn’t have offered it. He came to give us Life and Life more abundant!

That means Christ is standing in front of us saying, "I am here to give you more than what you have. I am THE REAL! I am here to show you what life has only pretended to be!"

And our enemy is scared to death.

He’s scared that the glimmer of Grace will catch our eye.

That for one second we will stop and turn our focus on the Cross.

That for one hour on a Sunday morning we will hear about a God who was and is and always will be REAL!

That for one moment we will hear the song of the redeemed. That for 5 minutes during a lunch break someone will tell us there’s more to this life.

That one person will break rank and demand that a church practice what it preaches.

That love will be shown to the undeserving.

That prayer will creep its way back into schools.

That righteous action will speak louder than hollow words.

That people will start praying for miracles.

That minds will be changed in repentance.

That hearts will be healed.

That chains will be broken.

That strongholds will be shattered.

That marriages will be restored.

That the divorce rate will go down.

That husbands would love their wives.

That wives would become Godly women.

That teenagers would say “NO” to the damaging pressure, and demand more from their peers.

That forgiveness would come out of pain.

That our eyes would be opened.

That we would see Jesus.

That the meek would inherit the earth.

That the oppressed would find relief.

That we would see the love of God for what it is.

That the facade will crack.



And our enemy spends every moment in this chaos he’s created, desperately trying to believe his own lies, throwing everything he has at Creation to convince us likewise.

There is a Real. Satan knows it. Scripture says that even the demons believe . . .

There is a Real, and it’s based on Truth.

The Psalmist said, “The sum (the entirety, the total make-up) of thy Word is Truth” (Psalms 119:160)

John 1:14 says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . full of grace and truth”

In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the father but by me.”

In John 8:31 and 32 Jesus says, “if you continue in my Word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”.

The Truth, the REAL is found in Jesus. No other place can we find our redemption.

No other place can we find our worth.

Our value and our Life is found in His death.

And when he says he is the only way, he’s not being arrogant. He’s being incredibly helpful! Let me explain . . .

Many years ago, in my teen dinosaur years, I went with my dad and brother on a caving tour. We were traveling through a certain area of the country, and we heard of a cave tour that went three miles down into this massive cavern. So we thought we would be cool and “live the dream”.

We arrived at the cave. I can still remember the time, oddly enough. It was 3 p.m. when the tour started. We walked and walked and walked until we were sooo far down. The walls were incredible with the colors and reflections of the tour guides' light.

When we reached our destination, we were in a large cavern. To the right and left were passages going off into the darkness. Our tour guide then made us close our eyes, line up single file and turn each other around several times, starting with the first person being turned around by the person behind him. It ended with the tour guide turning the last person around. He then told us to open our eyes.

Total darkness.

Some of the girls in our group screamed half heartedly. My dad grabbed each of us boys and told us to stay with him. Several guys in the group ventured a weak “hello”.

Total silence from our tour guide.

And just at the scary moment when panic enters the back of your neck and makes your hair stand up, the tour guide laughed and turned on his light. He then cheerily informed us that if we were cave diving like some kids did many years ago, and our torch went out, we would be entirely lost in the passages of that cavern. There would be no way we would ever find our way out. We would die alone and probably try to eat each other.

Then he turned off his light again . . . but just for a second. :)

I’ll never forget that feeling . . . when the light came on. The feeling of relief was indescribable.

It's an epiphany of Trust.

When he told us to follow him back up the right passage to the light of day, no one ever thought to question his word. No one told him "no thanks, we'll find our own way". We followed, knowing that he had the light. He was the way out.

And certainly no one accused him of being arrogant.

This is Jesus. Standing before us. Saying I am the way. I am the Truth. I am the Life. I am REALITY.

He’s not being arrogant. He is just stating Truth. He IS Truth! And those that are desperate enough, those that feel His spirit on them, those whose eyes are opened to the light . . . follow. Trusting. Believing. Acting on the Truth He gives through Himself. Through the Word.

We’ve all seen plenty of counterfeits. Here is the Truth on counterfeiting . . . You can’t have a counterfeit without a real!

Any person who has counterfeited currency knows that you ultimately have to start with the real thing. A counterfeit is just a copy of the real. It’s meant to deceive.

This is our enemy.

Are you living in reality? Are you holding the real, or are you wondering in the dark?

Some of us are believers. Some of us are non-believers. Some of us are skeptics.

Some of us are hypocrites.

Today is your day.

Some of you are believers who are questioning everything right now. Life has been cruel. The facade has beaten you down for the last time, and you are standing at a decision point, at a crossroads. Throw in the towel, and create your own facade of “I’ve got everything under control” or are you going to admit you have issues with your issues. That you are NOT alright. That you need to re-evaluate. Do NOT let your questions and issues with almighty God build walls between your heart and His love. Instead, let those issues and questions and anger and hurt build bridges to His throne. He will embrace you, and love you, and walk with you, just like he did when he lived among us. If you’ve fallen, then JOIN THE CROWD! You have an advocate through Jesus Christ our REDEEMER. He will be a friend closer than a brother . . .

Some of you are non-believers. You don’t believe there’s a God, or if there is He certainly is not concerned about your life. Don’t believe the lie. Don’t fall for the facade! Question everything, and walk the path of belief. He loves you enough to show you Himself. Through people. Through His word. Through talking with Him. Talk to Him. He's not afraid of your questions. He has the answers if you are willing to listen. Make the choice to find Him. Otherwise you will continue your journey in the dark . . .

Some of you are skeptics. Agnostics. Waiting for proof. Now is your chance! Step out today and see what He can do! Prove Him wrong, and good luck trying. Step out and make the declaration. He welcomes your disbelief because HE HAS THE ANSWERS!
God is bigger . . . bigger than our failures. Bigger than our fortunes. Bigger than the strength or the weakness we live in. No matter the walls that you’ve built to resist Him. No matter the choices you’ve made. There is a God! And He cares for you. No matter what . . . !

Some of you are hypocrites. You enjoy the power that comes with being in Church leadership. Being on the “inside”. But you know, deep inside, when you look in the mirror each night that you don’t live the redeemed life. You are not part of the REAL. The love of God is not in you, and your fruit is rotten. You are in the most precarious place of all. You run the danger of incurring the wrath of God more than the rest, because you pretend to be what He IS.

Just like our enemy.

And that is a very dangerous place to be in. You know the truth and reject it.

You're taking your chances in the dark . . .

I John 1:4 - 2:8 says,

"These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete."

"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."

"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

"If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

"By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected."

"By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked."

"Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard."

"On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. "

Jesus loves YOU.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Overcome - A Song for Bellevue

Here by the river we gather together,
to lift one another, to carry this cross.
Love has a way of turning disaster,
of binding the broken, of healing our hearts.

Its an anthem . . . calling us to sing . . .


There's hope for tomorrow.
A comfort in sorrow, rise up and believe.
As one . . . we stand here together
with heroes among us, the whole world can see
there is healing. Healing!


So here in this moment we lift up our faces.
We hold out our hands to a neighbor in need.
Tragedy stings but redemption is sweeter.
The song of the fearless brings fear to its knees.

Can you hear us? Hear us calling out . . . yeah!


There's hope for tomorrow.
A comfort in sorrow, rise up and believe.
As one . . . we stand here together
with heroes among us, the whole world can see
there is healing. Healing!


© Copyright Derek Hickman 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Christian Humanism

Many Church members today are Christian Humanists.

There is nothing wrong with community programs, Sunday School promotion, or even a focus on Church Development. However, when anything takes the place of true worship, we lose our vision and end up at a place where we worship ourselves in the name of Jesus . . . a lifestyle that I call Christian Humanism.

We've done this to ourselves. In the Western Church at large, the importance of the lay person's level of spiritual growth has been bypassed to a certain extent, both by design and unfortunate apathy. We look to our pastors and lay leaders to set the tone for worship. We leave our definition and promotion of worship to planning committees. We fail to realize our place in the body of Christ, let alone what and how our spiritual gifting should be used.

What happens when leaders fail to lead?

I've got news for you. They have.

What happens when planning committees end up becoming war zones of opinion and personal preference, and real worship is not even tabled for discussion, let alone as the the foundation of our planning?

Welcome to the Church at large.

What happens when we substitute personal worship with positive programming?

We end up with positive programming.

We become the children who would much rather play in the street with our mud pies than go in to the feast that is made for us.

But with all of our programs and ideas, we have found that the Body isn't functioning properly.

We are sick, and what we are doing simply isn't working.

Twenty-five years ago, we realized something was wrong. So we looked for something different; something that would attract people.

And the Prosperity Gospel was born on a mass scale. Christian Humanism at its finest.

But now, people are starting to feel an unease. There's a rising discontent with the "Me, Myself, and I" evangelism, like that feeling or lump in your throat when you've realized that you've really done it this time. We are in trouble, and many of us are looking to find out why.

And it's here we find the problem. We find here that we've left something out; we've forgotten the oxygen for our oxygen tank . . . and we're suffocating ourselves. With a deprivation of God, we quickly lose our ability to function in a clear and rational way, and this is what is happening in the Western Church.

So, the question presents itself . . . How do we change? How do we retain, once again, the understanding and focus of true worship? How do we get from our Self-centered Christianity to a God-centered LIFE where our adoration and voice is lifted to God?

How do we stop the madness?

C. S. Lewis has such a great view of this when He states that true progress often involves moving backward. We must go back to the principles and Truth that we left behind.

Worship is a lifestyle, not a day of the week.

We must once again pick up the yoke of spiritual responsibility and ownership. We dig deeper into the Word. We give, pray, and fast. We meet corporately having already, in our private place, fervently asked for God to show up! We lift our voices in congregational singing with thankful hearts. We actively search for ways to apply the Word to our hearts, minds and lives. We serve our community through the Spirit of Unity.

We turn back to God as our Creator, and once again see ourselves as the Created.

We bank on that.

And we become distinctively Christian again.

Psalm 100:3 - "Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves".

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Free to Surrender . . .

We cannot do the work of the Creator, because we are the created.

Our responsibility is to be thankful enough to surrender to His process . . . this truth alone should free the majority of us from the dismal way we see ourselves, and God.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Have A Heart . . .

Jesus never said "I am the way, the law, and the life" because the law cannot free us while at the same time condemning us. You cannot tell a man he is free as you continue to sentence him to death.

Truth sets us free because it reconciles the law to redemption.

The law is not part of the Gospel. It's the entire reason why the Gospel is needed.

Some have asked "Isn't the Law the heart of the Gospel?" and "Didn't Jesus come to fulfill the Law?"

I don't think the Law is the heart of the Gospel. I do think it is most certainly the mirror God uses to show us our condition without Him.

I think that the heart of the Gospel is Love. Matthew 24 talks about this when Jesus says that the entire Law hinges on loving God and each other. ...

The law hinges on the Gospel. Not the other way around. In fact, we could word it as such . . . the heart of the Law is the Gospel.

For without the Gospel, the Law has no heart at all.

So, I guess one could say that Christ fulfilled the Law by giving it what it lacked . . . a heart.


© Copyright Derek Hickman 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Letter to Shawna Taylor

Hello Shawna,

I'm a youth pastor here in Winchester. I, along with many members of my youth group, have been saddened to hear of your death. I don't know you, but I know our paths have probably crossed at DQ many times!

I took the opportunity to look at your facebook wall today.

I’m amazed.

Your death seems so senseless and tragic, and to our limited view, it is exactly that.

But I’m noticing, as I scroll down the dozens of comments left on your wall, that there’s something much more going on here . . .

So many of us, as teenagers, live life far from where God wants to place us.

But you didn’t.

A life lived well leaves a legacy and an impact that death cannot steal or destroy. Right now we mourn, we ask “why”, and we remember your smiles and the way you were.

Your legacy, however, will be what your LIFE gave us, not what your death was about. Death IS senseless and tragic, but strangely irrelevant and small when compared to LIFE’s grand, eternal picture.

Your LIFE is what we remember. Your LIFE is what gives your loved ones hope for a grand reunion. Your LIFE is what changes our focus to what matters. Your LIFE is what inspires us to live like you did.

What an amazing achievement . . .

Thank you for living.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

There's A Deeper Life . . .

There's a deeper life, there's a higher call
There's a giant sleeping in us all
There's a God who gives rest to the soul
There's a deeper life than the one we know

I was recently reading Mark 9:14-24, where Jesus turns his attention to a crowd of people who are obviously in a moment of chaos and confusion. Jesus goes to them and asks what is going on, and a man steps forward and says, “Teacher, I brought you my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it."

Jesus chides his disciples for not being prayed up enough to cast the demon out, then turns his attention to the father for the largest part of what follows. He asked him, "How long has this been happening to him (the son)?" And he said, "From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!"

And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief."

This father figure embodies where I'm at on my journey.

“I brought you my son” . . . the real question was not whether he believed. he already believed. There’s no other reason he would have bothered to bring his son to them, unless he believed there was a chance for healing. His real crisis was accepting that it would be real for him, that God would even want to meet his need.

It actually doesn't seem too hopeful at first, does it?

“I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it” . . . The miracle didn’t happen. You could say that his first attempt at faith failed miserably. Nothing but more of the same bondage and failure.

Have you been there? To be honest, I am there right now. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the difficult circumstances that my family and I face, and right now, this story hits close to home! Sometimes the curse of ministry is that you have to struggle alone; that you have to constantly have the right answers and attitude. We have to be the strong ones, they say.

I’m not strong right now. Honestly, I’m beat down, depressed, and feeling like a massive failure. My struggle isn't even close to the anguish this man felt, but when you consistently fail at something, no matter how small, it grinds at you. We all struggle with unbelief, and I’m just like this father who has believed, but is now looking at a wall of confusion. I’m the man who musters up the courage to bring my need to Providence. I’m that man who is waiting for the miracle, and nothing is happening. Nothing but more of the same . . .

I sympathize with that father. He must have been so frustrated! Scripture says that the commotion was so great that it caught Jesus’ attention.

This is a guy who’s incredulous! He’s seen miracles all around him. He knew that this Rabbi, this Teacher, had the solution to his problem. Jesus was constantly healing and casting out demons for others, so why not him?

He had tried so long to provide for his family, for his hurting son. He had summoned the strength and courage to endure the stares and ostracism as he carried his shaking boy through the crowds of people, working his way to where Jesus was, stopping occasionally to hold his son while he seized . . . keeping him from hurting himself or others.

He had belief. He goes through all of that to get to the disciples. His belief carries him so far, all the way to the inner circle . . . just to be told “I’m sorry, it’s not working for some reason!” Can you imagine the humiliation?

He lost it.

Can we blame him? If this was all of the story, I would give up. I’d throw in the towel because I couldn’t take the realization that providence is preferential – that somehow I didn’t qualify.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Thank God.

This wounded soul lost it, but that doesn’t mean he was giving up, and that is the lesson learned here. It would have been easy to accept that he wasn’t worthy. we all do, to a certain degree.

But there was no way he was quitting after all he had just gone through, after carrying his son, enduring the comments, and seeing the devastation the enemy was causing.

No way.

He was going to have his say, and he was going to find answers. He was NOT going to be satisfied with “I’m sorry, it’s not working for some reason”!

So he stood his ground. He demanded an audience.

And God showed up.

Where does your faith take you? To Sunday School? To Church? To Counseling? To Accountability Group? To Scripture?

Those are such good resources for our progress, but understand this clearly:

There will come a day when our faith is taken to a place of discomfort, to a place of darkness, and to a place of doubt.

You will feel alone.

You will feel unworthy.

You will wonder where God went.

Take heart and grit your teeth. Stand your ground. Demand an audience. In our dark places, sometimes we fail to see what is right in front of us . . . a door.

This is the door of the Deep.

This is where God takes us to the end of struggle, and to the beginning of rest. This is where He waits for us to call out, to stand our ground, to cause a commotion!

Romans 12:12 says "Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer".

James 1:2-3 - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, for perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything".

Does God want us to be halfway filled, halfway effective, or halfway redeemed?

No, He doesn't.

Our pain is our path to progress. He is faithful to complete us, in the work He calls us to do.

We just have to persevere, to stand our ground, to remain faithful, and to demand an audience.

This is when God shows up.

This where we surrender our spiritual inferiority and put on His infinite worth.

This is where Belief no longer stands on a precipice.

Here, in the dark, I'm reaching for the door . . .

Join me.

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2010