Billy's Blog
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November 13, 2018, 9:28 AM

Testing The Temperature


There are all kinds of ways to test the temperature. Sometimes before I go outside I look at the phone and see what the temperature is. It was kind of depressing this morning when it said 15 degrees! Sometimes you dip your toes in the water to test the temperature of the pool. You might stick your finger in the coffee to see if it's hot enough. (only do this to your own coffee.) All of these make sense, but how do you test to see if you are lukewarm, cold or hot in your service to God? And what does this really mean? 

In Revelation chapter three there's a message to one of the seven churches of Asia. God had a specific message for each of these churches. Some were more positive than others, but they all had a challenge. The church in Laodicea got a particulary challenging message. God tells them that they are neither hot nor cold but they are LUKEWARM. Here's part of the message that he gives to them:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16

I've heard  some argue that the worst emotion is not hate it's apathy. God can do something with your love, he can do something with your hate, but if you just don't care he can't do anything with that. If you don't care there's just no change that can happen. 

So what's the temperature of your soul? Are you sold out to God or are you just sticking your toes in the water? 

There are some good things to consider to see if you are lukewarm. These are written in Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love, and I think they are really good things to think about:

LUKEWARM people attend church somewhat regularly because it's what's expected of them by others. It's not necessarily what they really want to do. 

LUKEWARM people give money to the church and to charity as long as it's of the extra they have and really doesn't cause them to sacrifice at all. 

LUKEWARM people tend to choose what's popular over what's right so that they can be approved of by their peers. 

LUKEWARM people don't really want to be saved from their sins, they want to saved from the penalty of their sins. 

LUKEWARM people are moved by stories of people who do radical things for God, but they don't act.

I know that some of these statement, if not all, have described me at times. I would dare to say that they have described you, too. So take this as a challenge. I know the truth can hurt but the truth can also heal. Jesus said that that truth will set us free. So consider the statements about what being lukewarm means and does it appy to you. Be honest with yourself and you might just turn up the heat a little.  

 

 




November 7, 2018, 11:48 AM

You're Not Alone


Social media is a lot of things. It's been good for me to promote church activities and to keep in contact with friends and family who live far from me. One of the problems with social media is that we get an unrealistic view of the lives of other people. People have learned how to put their best life out there for people to see. They've learned how to take selfies at the perfect angle to make themselves look better than they really do. We only post pictures and things that make our lives look perfect. We post about vacations that others could only dream about going on. So we look at others' lives and wonder what's wrong with my life? 

The truth is that no one looks as good as some pictures show them looking. No one's house is always perfectly situated. No one's children are perfectly behaved. You struggle and you are not alone. 

I struggle with discouragement a lot. I don't want the whole world to know all the time, because I do not want to bring others down with my negative thoughts. But I have negative thoughts. I struggle with feeling like I'm not making a difference. I struggle with thinking that I should be more successful than I am. I struggle with feeling that I'm inadequate to do my job and to be the kind of husband and dad I want to be. I struggle sometimes with not wanting to get out of my bed and facing the things I have to do that day. 

I would suppose that there are many of you who know how I feel. You are not alone in your struggles. You are not weird and your are not faith-less if you feel this way. When you read your Bible you will find that some of the great heroes of the Bible struggled with discouragement. Moses, Elijah, David, Jeremiah, Peter, and even Jesus. Jesus never sinned but he struggled to finish the mission his Father had sent him on earth to do. It was daunting and it was discouraging. 

What keeps me going is that I know I have hope. My God promises me that he is looking out for my good. He promises me that all things will work out for good. He promises me that if I don't give up that I will reap a harvest for my hard work. He promises me that he will never leave or forsake me. 

I am not alone. You are not alone. Your life is not as perfect as what you'd like others to think it is. It's ok...their's isn't either. We are all a mess in desperate need of the mercy and grace of God. 




November 6, 2018, 2:51 PM

You Might Not Finish This Blog


There are several reasons why you may not finish reading this blog. You might have got bored with it. You might have had to run to the bathroom. Your phone might have died. But one reason you might not finish this blog is that you might die. I know, I know...kind of harsh, but it's true. 

We are not guaranteed any amount of time. We can all intellectually agree with this statement, but have we ever lived as if this true? Have you ever lived like you really believe this? 

I've done a lot of funerals and many people get religious when death strikes. People who have never prayed before want you to pray with them. People who never read the Bible want the Bible read. People who have never given a second thought to heaven talk about how their loved one is in a "better place." Why is this? We know that at the end of the day this is what really matters. What really matters after you die is eternal life. What really matters after we die is God. 

If it really matters after we die it really matters while we are still alive. 

In 2 Timothy 4 Paul is giving what some people as described as his living eulogy. He is expressing how he feel about his life coming to a close. 

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.--2 Timothy 4:6-8

I can think of a lot of sports metaphors for what Paul expresses. 

"He left it all on the court."

"He gave 110%"

"There was nothing left in the tank."

Paul loved God with ALL that he had. He knew that he was going to receive the prize of eternal life, because he had fought the fight, kept the faith, and finished the race on earth. He lived for God and he died knowing God. He had no regrets and he held nothing back. He was all in. 

Does that describe the way you love God? Would you describe your service to God as being all in? You only get one trip around this crazy globe. You only get one life. Live it with reckless abandon for God. Don't hold anything back and don't look back. 




October 30, 2018, 10:32 AM

To Love Is To Remember


A lot of the love we have for people is in memories. I do a lot of funerals and one thing I typically say is that death cannot take away memories. The love that we have for our loved ones doesn't decrease one bit when they pass away. Our love is connected to our memories. We remember the dinners. We remember the vacations. We remember the lessons learned. We remember the conversations and the smell of their home. We love because we remember. 

The same is true of God. 

All throughout the Old Testament you will see the people building monuments to remember what God had done. Their love for God was inspired partly by remembering all the good things he had done for them. 

When I was a kid growing up in church we used to sing a song called, Count Your Blessing. One of the lines was, "Count your blessings name the one by one. Count your blessings see what God has done." It's important for us to remember what God has done. I know that currently you may be struggling or going through a difficult time in your life. When we are tempted to think that God doesn't care anymore we must remember. We must go back and remember how God delivered us. We must remember how God provided for us. 

Part of my love for God and my loyalty to him is tied to what he has done for me in the past and what he continues to do. I'm just like you. I am tempted to run away from God. I am tempted to think he doesn't care about me. I am tempted to just do what I want because it just doesn't matter. But then I remember. I remember how gracious and merciful God has been to me. I remember how he has blessed me way beyond what I deserve. I remember how much love he has showed me, and I'm reminded that I must love him back. 

To love God is to remember what he's done. I imagine if you took the time to remember you'd have quite a long list of how God has been good to you. This might just inspired to love him back. 




October 23, 2018, 9:21 AM

Money, Money, Money, Money...MONEY!


Money is the root of all evil. True or false statement? Go ahead, I'll give you 10 seconds to think about your answer. 

The answer is...FALSE. In 1 Timothy 6:10 Paul reminds Timothy that the LOVE of money is the root of all sorts of evil. Money is an inanimate object. On it's own it's neither good nor bad.  It actually is used for all kinds of good. Money supports missionaries in poor countries. Money builds wells so people can have clean drinking water. Money helps fight cancer, sends kids to college, and keeps orphanages going. 

Money is also used for some terrible things. Money is at the root of many sex crimes. Money keeps the drug business going, and money is behind much of the abortion industry. 

Money can be used for good or bad. Here is what I think we must understand about money. Money comes from God. Therefore we must use it with that mindset. 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

If I believe this then there are a few things about money that I must know:

1. It all comes from God. 

It's not MY money. It's not MY house. Its not MY retirement. It all comes from God. I do not have this money because I deserve it. You may have earned it with your hard work and your wise investments, but who allowed you to do that? This changes everything when we believe this. It's not mine. 

2. I must serve God's purpose with my money. 

This might include how you spend your money to go to college. It might also include investing in the right business. Here's what it ultimately comes down to...is your money available to serve God's purpose in your life? When you view it as our money then we might be a little selfish with it. God might have a big dream for you and your money, but if we can't see our money being a part of God's purpose we might just miss it. 

3. We must have a loose grip on our money. 

I did a lot of searching and the most accurate number I could come up with was that the average Christian gives about 2.4% of their income back to the church. Now I know that people may give to other parachurch organizations, but the numbers don't lie. Why do we struggle to tithe back to God? It's OUR money. When God asks for 10% back of our money that seems a bit extreme. We have bills to pay. We have kids to feed. We are trying to add on to our house or build a new one. We are trying to save to send our kids to school. Our kids need braces. We have medical bills. 

I live in the same world all of you live in. I have kids who eat me out of house and home. I have a kid that needs braces. I have medical bills coming out my ears. I don't care what excuses you and I have our money is not our own. 

In 1 Corithians 6:20 Paul reminds us that we have been bought with a price. Our salvation has been bought with the blood of Christ. We have given our lives to God. Part of that life is our checkbook, and it all comes down to trust. Like I said, I have all the excuses, too. My wife and I work hard to support our family and there's not much left over. BUT...it's all God's. I must trust him with my money, and I must trust him that he will provide for my needs. 

When it all comes down it the issue is not dollars and cents...its trust. Do you trust God or do you not? 

You must answer that question. 


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