Billy's Blog
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December 4, 2018, 1:23 PM

Ready To Serve


What makes a person ready to do anything? There might be some training, some education, some experience, some study, and hands-on training like internships and apprenticeships. One of the things that you can do to be ready for a new task is to be humble. Humilty is not a degrading of who you are, but it is an accurate view of who you are. Many people cannot be ready for  a new venture in their life, because they cannot admit they have much to learn. Their pride gets in the way of their ability to be teachable. Because they aren't teachable they aren't willing to learn new things, and because they aren't willing to learn they cannot be ready for their new task. 

When God called Mary to be the mother of Jesus in Luke 1 it says that she was "greatly troubled" when the angel Gabriel came to see her. No kidding! I know if I'm sitting there working at my desk and an angel of God comes to me I'm going to be greatly troubled, too. Although Mary didn't understand how she could be the mother of Jesus, she was a virgin, she accepted the task. Her humility allowed her to be obedient to God even though it was obvious she didn't fully understand how or why this was happening to her. 

Are we as humble and available as Mary was to be willing to take on this amazing new adventure? Just think about this...God was placing his baby son in the arms of a teenage girl along with her unsuspecting soon to be husband. This is quite a thing you are asking of this young girl and her young partner. Despite all of this she was willing. I don't think she had any idea what she was really getting into. I don't think she felt prepared or equipped to do this, but her humility allowed for her to be successful. She knew she was in way over her head, but she trusted God that he knew what he was doing. 

Do we have this same attitude? Are we willing to be used by God for his purpose even though we might not understand how it's all going to work? 

God does not need our talents. God does not need our resources. God does not need our abilities. God is looking for someone who is humble enough to be obedient and courageous enough to go forward. This unknown teenage girl became one of the most well-known historical figures of the world. She accomplished this because she was willing. Right now you might be  sensing that God is calling you to do more, but maybe you are scared. You might feel a little unqualified for this job. You might be just in the right spot for God to use you. 

We might not always be the most talented or the most equipped, but as long as we are humble and available God can use us. 

 




November 28, 2018, 9:25 AM

Life Happens


The greatest commandment is to love God. This is pretty obvious. But what happens when life happens and it threatens to take our love away? 

When I was in Bible college I was on fire for God. I wanted to give my life to preaching and serving the church and was so fired up about it. I was willing to go anywhere to preach and teach the Gospel. I was willing to lead a Sunday school class, lead singing, preach at a nursing home, preach to three old ladies at a church...I was willing and ready! But then life happened. My parents got divorced. At the time it was no surprise and didn't really seem to rock my world that much. I was 20 years old, I was in college, so I was good. I thought I was, but it really rocked me. 

I lost my purpose. I lost my direction. I dropped out of Bible college. I did not want to preach anymore. I was willing to go to church, and I did not give up on God totally. I just lost my fire. I had lost my first love. Has this ever happened to you? 

There might have been a time in your life when you were so on fire for God. You couldn't wait to go to church. You couldn't get enough of reading your Bible. You couldn't wait to share your faith with someone. Then life happened and your fire got quenched a little. The same thing happened to the church in Ephesus. Look at what was written to them:

 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelation 2:4-5

So this church had lost their first love. They had lost their fire. So how do we get it back? "Do the things you did at first." 

So when you were on fire for God what were you doing? Who were you hanging out with? How did you spend your time? What were the things that made you on fire for God? 

This is what you must recapture. You must get back to doing those things. Yes, life happens. There are difficult situations that  threaten to take us away from God, but we must get back the love we had for him. If your love for God has been quenched a little or a lot take some time to think about the things you did that helped get you on fire for God. You might not be able to do the exact same things you did years ago, but you can do similar things. Discover this and do it. 

Our lives are too short to just be lukewarm the rest of our lives. Do what it takes to turn up the thermostat. 

 




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. 


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