Friday, February 29, 2008

Life Changes

Today I was in Modesto for a meeting at Modesto Junior College. While I was there, I drove by to check out the old police academy and shooting range where I trained to be a police officer. There was almost nothing there. Most of the old army barrack buildings had been demolished and replaced with lawn or new buildings. However there was still a few things left.

The first building I came across was the "gas house". This building is completely air tight, except for some controllable vents on the roof. The instructors would completely fill the room with tear gas. The tear gas was so thick and with no external light, you could almost not see your hand in front of your face. You had to enter with a partner and a flashlight. Wait it gets did it 3 times. The first time with a gas mask on. The 2nd time with no mask, and you had to put your mask on and purge as soon as you entered. The 3rd time you entered with no masks, you had to tell the instructor your partners name, and vice versa, and then you could exit. I never thought I would miss this place. Yet today, as I drove by the abandoned building, it became quite nostalgic.

In just 15 years, the place that used to be active with recruits has been replaced or abondoned. I had not visited this site since I graduated, and had I not known what it used to look like, I would not have recognized the change. Things change and life changes. I could choose to be upset over the abondonment of my gas house and the removal of the old barracks, or I could be excited about the new learning opportunities that exist for students today.
I think the same principle applies in the church, especially in front line ministries like Welcome/First Impressions, Worship, etc. It is inevitable to continue that we change. As society changes, so should we. We can fight the change, become nostalgic for the "way things used to be" or we can be excited about the change and the opportunity we have to reach people for Christ in a whole new way.
The next time you have to deal with change, let me encourage you to sit back, take a new look and find enjoyment in the way or another change is going to happen.
Besides...who wants the gas house back?
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Monday, February 25, 2008

My Year through the Bible...Who is piercing your ears?

In Moses' second sermon in Deuteronomy, he is teaching on finances and debt forgiveness. In Chapter 15, Moses talks about releasing your slaves from servitude and what to do if they don't want to leave you...Deuteronomy 15:16-17:

"But if your servant says to you, "I do not want to leave you," because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life..."

At first I really didn't think to much of it. I thought, why would anyone want to be a servant/slave for life. What a great concept, every 7 years released from indebtedness, slavery, or any other financial obligation. Then I read something that made me think about these verses again...Psalm 40:6,8:

"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced...I desire to do your will, O my God..."

Oh, um...that's what I meant, I want to be a servant of God. Oh who am I kidding...I never would have put 2 and 2 together to figure this out, had I not read the verse in Psalms, which was provided to me by my daily study bible.

What a heart David had, to be a servant of God first and forever. That is a heart I would love to have. I don't...but I sure would love to. I pray that someday I will reach that point. Right now, there are masters in my life that are preventing me to allow God to pierce my ear. In fact, sometimes as I continue to make the same mistakes over and over (see my earlier post) I think that I am telling that master in my life that I want to serve it forever and that it should go ahead and pierce my ear now and get it over with.

I have a decision to make, do I surrender now and allow something to pierce my ear, or am I going to fight for the opportunity to serve God first and forever!

Who is going to pierce your ear?

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My Year through the Bible...what is your god?

Exodus 20:3 says:

"You shall have no other gods before me"

How often do we really give this serious thought. Do we evaluate all that we do in our day? Do we think of just the big ones, i.e. careers, money, status, acceptance, etc.? Do we take the time to think of everything that may have control of our life?

As I was reading through Deuteronomy 5 & 6, I was reminded in Deuteronomy 5:7 not to have any other gods before God. I think that I have lesser gods that at times take priority in my life. I certainly strive for acceptance. As a secretly insecure person, I work very hard for acceptance by putting out an appearance of having it all together. I also struggle with spending. For me, I don't spend to create an image of success in my life. Rather, I spend because I can't stand something that works right or is imperfect. I realize it is an excuse, but it is how I function. Instead of accepting an imperfection in something, I would soon replace it. If my vehicle has a small oil leak that causes no real problems, I can't stand it. I am sure the vehicle is about to blow the engine, and I need a new vehicle. Ok! I realize I am a bit OCD or any other adjectives to describe it.

Today, as I was reading Moses' sermon in Deuteronomy, I came to a part of his message that really hit me as a great reminder. It was Deuteronomy 6:10-12:

"When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you -- a land with large flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant -- then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."

I think sometimes, at least for me, our gods are a result of nothing else but forgetting that God is the one who provides and meets ALL our needs. Yes, we should work hard, be a good employee, husband, father, Christian, etc. Yet, if that becomes our god, it is because "I" want to make it work, instead of trusting in the Lord to make it happen. We forget the Lord, who brought us to where we are today.

What is your god? Have you given up your trust in the lord, to focus on your god?

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My Year through the Bible...I haven't learned much.

I just finished reading through Numbers. As I read through Numbers, I have come to realize that the Israelites didn't get it. They continued to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Every move they made resulted in the same complaints, the same problems. As I read, I often wondered why and how God put up with the complaining. I also realized that he didn't. In fact, God often punished the Israelites...uhhh, the whole lost in the desert thing. In Numbers 21, God sends snakes to the Israelites to bite them for speaking against Moses and God. Once again the Israelites had to confess before Moses.

I say all this because I got to thinking about how many times I don't learn from my mistakes. Do I not learn because I am not really paying attention, or is it because my mistakes are a result of something that has control of my life. I think for me, it is because of something that has control of my life.

As I have looked back over the "big mistakes" of my life in the past couple of years, I think almost everyone was based on a decision I made. The decision I made was influenced by something that had control of my life.

That is huge. Why? you might ask. If we know the source of our mistakes, perhaps we can change the source. Of course, that sounds easier said then done; however it is a start.

So what prevents you from learning from your mistakes? Find it and fix it...or at least start the process of trying!

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I'm twittering....

How much blogging is too much blogging? As a technology junkie, I love multiple ways of communicating. One of those ways is through twitter. Twitter is a way of 140 characters or less through text messages. Do you want to know what I am thinking right now...visit my blog and look at my twitter comments on the left side...or tell twitter you want to follow me, and you will receive a text message everytime I twitter.

To follow me, simply text : follow hickssound

Send it to 40404

Or visit Twitter's website to learn more.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Isn't this great!

What better way to spend a holiday?

Scared of upgrading to XP...don't be!

PC friends. As I am sure you have all considered the dreaded thought of upgrading your PC to Microsoft's latest and greatest, you are worried about bugs. Don't be! You can safely upgrade from your slow, bug-filled Windows Vista, to the new bug-free and user-friendly Windows XP. I found this great article that completely breaks down the comparision of the two; which, for me, gave me piece-of-mind for the switch to XP.

Mac users won't quite understand, but for us PC users, enjoy the article and upgrade with confidence!


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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cool Video

My friend Sandy had this on her blog and I thought it was really neat. Sooooo, enjoy!

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One of those days...pray about it!

I just wanted to drop a quick note tonight. Today I had one of those days! You know the ones I am talking about...not a bad day, not a great day. You didn't have anything crazy going on. You didn't have too much to do that day.

Yet, somehow when you come home at the end of that day, you feel extremely spent. That is the kind of day I had today. Nothing news worthy but somehow I came home and was just finished.

Do you ever just have one of those days?

I decided I was just going to "veg" for a while and catch my breath. Then I thought about something I blogged about the other day. I spent a little time in prayer and my day picked right back up.

Don't forget....just pray about it!

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My Year through the Bible...That's a lot of rules!

As I continue reading through the Bible this year, I have completed Leviticus and am now halfway through Numbers. Have you read through these books? If you have then you know what they are about. If not, let me give you a brief synopsis.

They are about Rules and Regulations. The are God's direction on how to handle almost any situation. What type of offering needs to happen to become clean, when you are clean vs. unclean. God describes when your uncleanliness requires you to be removed from the camp and when it doesn't, etc.

If you are reading through the Word, Genesis and Exodus can be really exciting. There is a lot of things happening, lots of excitement to draw you in as a reader. However, when you get to Leviticus and Numbers things start to slow down a bit. There is a lot of repetition, as the resolution for a lot of the sins God refers to are the same.

However, if you know me very well, I love Rules! I often wonder if I love rules a little too much. There are some of you who think I probably do, and that is okay so you don't need to comment on that. As someone with that "administrator" gene in my DNA, I love reading through Leviticus and Numbers. Of course, it does get repatitious and sometimes a bit boring, but the whole time I am saying "Yeah! More rules, spell it out for them! That's what they need!"

Why the rules? Why did God have to lay so many restrictions and rules out for the Israelites? The Lord was about to lead them into the promised land in Canaan. The Cananites were...shall we for the World! The Lord was trying to "protect" the Israelites like a parent protects a child. In addition, these people did not understand disease or cleanliness. God was teaching them how to survive, down to the finest detail.

Not to be a spoiler and give away the plot...but it doesn't work. As I continue to read, knowing what is coming in the next 60+ books of the Bible, I can't help but wonder if I could EVER keep the rules that the Lord has set out. I don't know that I am strong enough. I want to be and would try to be, but I am not sure I could succeed.

It is then that I realize that God realized we can't. God also realized that he was going to have to send someone to this earth to live a perfect life and die for my sins, so that I could succeed, in the eyes of the Lord.

For this I am EXTREMELY grateful; not so that I don't have to try hard to live a life honoring to God, I try and do that every day. It is because no matter how hard I try to keep the "Law" I will always fail at some point. Through the Grace of Jesus Christ, I still have a chance!

But I still love the rules!

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Xobni Thoughts

I received my beta version of Xobni today. If you aren't sure what that is, you can visit my post here or visit their website here. If you are an Apple user...then once again, you can just move on. This is for us die-hard PC users.

You have to keep in mind that this is a beta version, so I will not talk about little gliches or problems, as this can be chalked up to beta testing. However, I did want to share some of the cool things I have seen so far.

It installs really fast. Once I opened up Outlook, it took about 30 seconds to synchronize with Outlook. Of course, I keep my mailbox pretty neat and tidy, so if you have a deeper level of emails then it may take longer.

My initial thought is this is going to be pretty cool. I clicked on an email, and instantly I had a list of every email that I have received or sent from this person, plus any attachments. This is going to be huge when looking for stuff I might have sent a customer or received from a customer.

So far, I rate it an A- (the minus is only so there is room for improvement). I will let you know more once I have a chance to dig in and really mess with it.

Xobni outlook add-in for your inbox

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sometimes nothing is enough!

Autumn is out with a friend this evening for a much needed "girls night out". She usually gets to do one about every couple weeks, but it has been since December since her last one, and I could tell it was needed.

Tonight when her friend showed up by surprise to see if she wanted to go out, Autumn looked at me and I looked at her. For that instant (which felt like 5 minutes) we had an amazing conversation without ever speaking. She asked me if she could go out with her friend, I asked her if she had anything to get done, she said no. I said ok. She asked how late, I said I didn't really care and I hope you have a good time....(at least that is how I heard it!)

The important thing is this. As our marriage has grown over the years, I have found that we can read each other better, and know what one another are thinking with out ever saying anything. Frankly, sometimes nothing needs to be said....the look is enough for us to completely understand.

That didn't come easy. It has taken time, a lot of conversations, eliminating the fear of opening up to someone else, arguments, disagreements, crying, laughing and a whole lot more adjectives. However, because of a commitment that we have made to one another, our lives are changing as we grow closer together.

That is how I think Christ wants our relationship with him to be. A "finish each other's sentences"-"know what the other one is thinking"-"think like one mind" kind of relationship. The reality is, Jesus already knows you like fact, even better. It is really up to us to want to seek out Christ and reciprocate that relationship.

Autumn's friend said something tonight that kinda fits. If we are NOT reading the Word, then the words become useless. God wants that relationship with us, he gave us His Son, His Word, and His Promise. All we have to do is seek Him out.

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Jesus Take the Wheel....errr something like that!

Every now in then, I come across some good humor that is just enjoyable to watch. I came across just a think from Monday Morning Insight and wanted to share it here. I hope you get a nice laugh!

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Do you ever get that from yourself? You are working through something or trying to develop a plan and some gives you the most obvious answer....then you sit there and say to yourself,

"Duh! Why didn't I think of that?"

I had a "Duh" moment last night. As I have blogged earlier, this is a year of Revolution for me and my family. For the most part, it has been very freeing and I have already seen God do amazing things in my life, my family, my finances, my health, etc. It seems that almost daily, I am seeing God do something in my life that is revolutionary.

For some reason though, last night I was in a "failure mode". Just because God is doing great things now, doesn't mean that all MY mistakes from the past are instantly healed. They are still there and still have to be dealt with. However, when you are living a revolutionary life you can continue to give those things to God and allow him to work them out through you.

Somehow last night, I forgot that. I was in a horrible mood. I was stressing, trying to figure out how I was going to work through this problem. I had all but given up when I heard this statement,

"Have you prayed about it?"

UUUUUUUUUhhhhhhhhhhh. Duh! Oh yeah, that's what I was supposed to do!

Today, God has already revealed how he is going to fix my situation....all I had to do was spend some time in prayer last night and surrender (yet again) my heart and my needs to him!

Do you have "Duh" moments too?

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Friday, February 1, 2008

My Year through the Bible...What's your God?

I was reading through the bible today in Exodus. More specifically I was reading Chapters 21-23, which is the Book of the Covenant the follows the 10 commandments. As I was reading through, there was multiple times when God spoke on not taking on idols or worshipping other gods. God further spoke on being careful not to be around the Caananites and their gods.

As I was reading through the application, my bible began explaining how God knew the principle that we eventually worship what you serve. Therefore, what ever or whoever commands your attention becomes your god. You can read through the old testament and the new testament and see this principle reminded to us over and over.

In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about our treasures being the map to our heart, and where our treasures are is where our heart lies. This applies to more than our money. If our efforts and energy are for our "fishing god" or our "football god" then that will be the god we worship in our heart.

Recognizing we need to guard against this idolatry, my bible gave two questions that you can ask yourself to seek out the real "lord" of your life:

  1. What do you think about when your mind is neutral?
  2. What do you do during your idle moments?

I am afraid what someone might think if they sat back and looked at my life and answered these questions for me. Take a look at your life and answer these questions for yourself...hopefully the answers don't surprise you.

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Need help moving?

Have you ever had to move? If you aren't reading this from your parents basement, then you probably have. Even worse is, have you had to move since being married with children and working every day?

Do you remember the night before the "big move" rushing around trying to pack boxes and feeling overwhelmed? You go from room to room trying to figure out where to start, what to pack first. It is inevitable that you will not get it all packed before the movers (or friends) show up in the morning to move you. Do you give up or do you drive through it? We tend to give up, because we just can't seem to see an end to it.

Then some friends come over and they help to motivate you and help you finish packing. By the end of the night, you are packed up and ready to move, in fact, you are exicted and can't wait for morning to come.

Today I had a similar experience. My friend Ron had lunch with me to help me do some ministry planning. He offerred up some great ideas, thoughts and concerns. He also offerred to take care of some things we needed to get done.

Prior to our lunch I felt like I described earlier, overwhelmed and ready to give up on certain things because I saw so much to do and wasn't sure where I wanted to start. Now I am excited and can't wait for morning to come. If you talk to him he will probably tell you he didn't really do much...but it doesn't take much to make a difference. Just like the friends that come to your house to help you pack. They aren't performing surgery, they are simply helping put your junk in a box to move to your next house. The same went for a lunch, just spending an hour or so with me and helping talk through things can go a long way.

If you need help moving, don't call me, because I hate moving, but if you need someone to sit down and help talk you through your ministry ideas and plans, give me a call. I would love to pass on the "Love Works" that someone shared with me!

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