Billy's Blog
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September 6, 2016, 10:31 AM

Pursuing Peace


As a preacher who also does youth ministry sometimes I'm scrambling on a Sunday afternoon to find something to share with the youth group. A few years ago I found a series of videos called, I Am Second. They are testimonials by some famous people and not so famous people. They tell their stories about how they made God first in their lives. The latest one that I showed the youth group was about a guy who was a New Orleans cop, then a special forces soldier in Afghanistan and then he became a star MMA fighter. Through his story we learned that the only way he overcome so much in his life...PSTD, a marriage falling apart, depression, suicidal thoughts...is that he pursued peace. He wanted his life to be right so he went after it. He found the only thing that really brought him peace and healing in his life was aligning his life up with the will of God. 

Psalm 34:14 says, Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 

This is a short verse, but I believe there's a lot of truth that we can learn in it. 

1. If you want peace, stop doing evil. 

Sometimes I get frustrated with myself over my lack of discipline. I take medicine for diabetes then I'll eat a piece of cake. That medicine is not going to do me any good if I'm taking action to counteract it. If you want peace in your life but you are still doing the evil that is causing turmoil you'll never have peace. You've got to acknowledge some behaviors in your life that are bringing the turmoil and the drama. When you acknowledge those behaviors stop doing them. It sounds pretty simplistic but it's true. 

2. Don't just stop doing bad, do good. 

Repentance means that we decide that we going to make a change in our lives. It's a mental decision to do what's right. But when we decide to follow Jesus we just don't stop doing bad things. We also begin to do the right things. One of the key key factors in long lasting change is that we get active in doing what's right. You've determined what's bring turmoil in your life, which are some of your negative behaviors, now you begin to go the opposite direction. You replace the sinful behaviors with behaviors that line up with the will of God. 

3. Seek peace and pursue it.

You've already decided you want peace in your life. You have stopped some negative behaviors in your life. You are starting to do some really good things with your life. You must keep on pursuing it. I can't afford to rest on my laurels and just feel good about what I've done. I must continue to be on a never-ending pursuit of peace. I can't allow myself to fall back into my old ways. I can't let my guard down. 

Jesus describes the devil's plans in John 10:10 when he says that the "thief" comes to steal, kill and destroy. Satan wants to destroy you, to annihalate you, to take away from you all that is good. You must be like a dog on a bone and be tenacious about not letting this happen to you. If you want peace and healing in your life you're going to have to go after it. If you pursue it you will get it. Then when you get it don't let it go!




August 30, 2016, 5:14 PM

Be An Adult


Have you heard of this new term, "adulting"? I never knew being an adult was a verb, but I guess it is now. The word is so popular among Millenials that the American Dialect Soceity, the organization that invented the "word of the year" award, nominated adulting as the winner. Adulting means that you start doing what adults are supposed to do. You know, things like...having a job, paying your own bills, getting your own apartment, cooking for yourself...things like this. 

The Apostle Paul referred to adulting in 1 Corinthians 13. "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." 1 Corinthians 13:11

Adulting might be a new term but it's not a new concept. As Paul says as we become adults we should childish ways behind us. But we still struggle with this. I had lunch with a friend today who is in management in a large health care facility. He told me that one of the biggest headaches he has is adults that won't be adults. They want to come into his office and tattle on everyone and complain about everything. I know sometimes he feels like a first grade teacher having to explain to adults how to get along in the workplace. 

Let's just act like adults. Let's deal with our stuff in the right way. Let's be like Paul and put childish things behind us and move on with our lives. Our bosses and manager should not feel like they are dealing with a kindergarten class. Our pastors and elders should not feel as if they are trying to be a hall monitor in a junior high. Let's all grow up.

The writer of Hebrews was frustrated because the people were not adulting as Christians. He writes this, We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Hebrews 5:11-12

The point was that these people were still kids. They might have been 30, 40, 50 years old but they were not maturing. The were still acting like kids and their wisdom and knowledge was not increasing. Is this a message that we need to hear? Are will still acting like kids although we've been in the church for years? Are you still in the same place in your spiritual life even though you've been warming a pew for 30 years? 

I didn't know much about the verb, adulting, but maybe we can learn something from the millenials. Maybe we need to take action to grow into the people that God desires us to be and cause this word to be a verb after all. 




August 26, 2016, 9:57 AM

Embracing Unity


Chaos is everywhere! 

During my first mission trip to the Dominican Republic I was just shocked at the chaos on the roads. There didn't seem to be any lanes, any rules, people just drove wherever and whenever they wanted. It seemed like the only thing that controlled the chaos was their horn. People let you know where they were with their horn and this way you didn't crash into each other. I was so glad to get back to America where I thought the roads were chaotic, but were much more peaceful!

Romans 12:16 says, Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 

Harmony and unity are very much alike. They are all about taking things that are different and bringing them together. Why don't we just be people that embrace unity and harmony? How about we be people that brings people together? So how do we do this? 

Well, remember that when we are dealing with bringing people together that not all people want to be brought together. Some people will refuse to have peace and unity in their lives. But...before we get too negative, I believe most people want this. I believe most people would love to have this if they had the opportunity to have it. So let's go!

Romans 14 is all about a church in chaos. They are having a hard time agreeing and coming together. What you will notice is that it's ok to disagree. It's okay to have different opinions, it's just not okay to let those difference divide us. So here's some straight Biblical advice on how to bring people together. 

1. Accept people--Romans 14:1

Romans 15:7 tells us that we must accept others as Christ accepted us. When you came to Christ he loved you as you were...warts and all. He didn't make you change. He didn't make you do anything differently he just accepted you and loved you as is. The same is true of what we must do. We have a natural tendency to want people to be like us or we just don't like them or accept them. If we are to find unity among the chaos we must learn to accept people despite the differences we may have. 

2. Don't judge people--Romans 14:10

Paul helps us understand what judging is. Judging is NOT pointing out obvious sin. If a man is running out of a store with a TV he has not purchased and you yell out, "Put that down! You are stealing that TV!" He cannot respond, "How dare you judge me?!" If you will read Romans 14:10 you will see a word in there, contempt. When you judge someone sinfully you have a self-righteous attitude about them. You are putting yourself above them, because in your mind you would never do what they are doing. Or you may be trying to judge the motives of their heart which we are not qualified to do. Judging people from a distance widens that gap. We are pulled apart rather than brought together. 

3. Do what you can to bring peace and build people up--Romans 14:19

The word, edification, is a construction term. It means to build something up that was once torn down. Life tears people down. You can even see it physically in some people. They are slouched over, they won't lift their head, they won't make eye contact. They are so emotionally and spiritually beat down that their body looks beat down, too. What if we were people that helped people walk a little straighter? What if instead of tearing down we decided to lift up?

4. Don't hit SEND--Romans 14:22

In our world of social media we have such an opportunity to voice things that don't help anyone, and frankly hurts a lot of people. Behind a keyboard people get really brave. We've all probably typed things behind a computer or a phone that we would never say to someone's face. Paul is telling us to just quit hitting send. We don't have air every opinion, every thought, every disagreement. Some things are better left unsaid. 

If you practice these four things in your life you will be a peacemaker. You will be a unifier and a harmonizer. You will be a person that builds people up. We need a lot more people like this in a world full of chaos. 




August 16, 2016, 11:14 AM

The Dreaded Word...CHANGE!


I like change. On the other hand I hate change. 

Right now I have a recliner in my house that is in severe need of being chucked out the door. It's been broken about five times and somehow my wife has brought it back to life time and time again. It's in really sad shape. But I don't want to part with it. Logically, I should be ready for a new chair or a different chair, but emotionally I'm really not ready to give it up. We've had this chair for several years. I've taken many naps in it. I've watched much TV and movies in it. I've rocked children in it. We are tight and I don't want to let it go. 

But it's just a chair. 

What about when the changes in our lives involve people?

I know people that have fought for their marriages, they said "till death do us part" but their spouse has other intentions. They don't want to see this change. They want their family to stay the way it is. 

This past week we spent several days in Minnesota with my wife's family. It was the first time I'd been up there since my father in law passed away in October 2015. It was weird not having him around. It was change and I didn't like it. When we lose loved ones, grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, even children, life changes. We don't like it. We had things a certain way and we liked it. There were traditions, special days, celebrations, get-togethers, and these things change when we lose people. What do we do about all of this dreaded change? 

We cling to our anchor. 

Hebrews 6:19 says, We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Our hope in Jesus is our anchor. Life comes at you really hard. It brings some pretty severe storms and trials your way. There is not much you can count on that will not change. What you thought would never go away disappears before you even know it. People trust in money, their career, their homes, their strength and health, and all of this can go away very quickly. Our hope in Jesus is an anchor for our souls...firm and secure. When all else might be failing around you your hope in Jesus is there. 

I cannot tell you how many people have come to me in times of crisis and asked, "How do people that don't have God in their lives get through this?" The plain answer is, "I don't know." It's hard enough with God, with the anchor of hope that we have, but what  if we have nothing to cling to? Where do we go? I have lots of people that I love that cling to all kinds of things that let them down. Don't settle for false hopes. Don't settle for anchors that won't hold. Don't reach out for something that won't be there when you really need it. Reach for Jesus. He is a true hope that will never let you down. 

 

 

 




August 1, 2016, 11:45 AM

It's been a good day


Jim Valvano was the long time basketball coach of North Carolina State. His team won the 1983 national championship shocking the University of Houston who had two future NBA Hall of Famers on their roster, Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. They won the game on a buzzer beater putback by Dereck Whittenburg. 

In 1993, just eight weeks before he died of bone cancer, Valvano gave a speech at the ESPY awards, a sports award show put on by ESPN. In his speech he gave this quote, “To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think -- spend some time time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that's a heck of a day.” I've always loved this quote. It's such a simple thought but it is true. 

1. Laugh a little

Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." I've always enjoyed humor and I try to use it as much as possible. I had a man in one church I ministered to that said I was just big joke and I couldn't be taken seriously. This man was one of the most miserably negative people I've ever known. His crushed spirit had dried up his bones. We need to laugh a little more. We need to take ourselves a little less serious. We need to find some more cheer in our lives. I know there are moments to be serious and somber, and maturity is determining when humor is useful or not. Laugh at ourself. If you're like me there's plenty of material. Laugh at others. I know this may sound like strange advice, but it's ok. Laugh at life. There are some really funny things that happen. Even in the darkest of moments humor is there to lighten up the dark. 

2. Take time to think. 

In Psalms 46:10 David reminds us, "Be still and know that I am God..."

If you are anything like me you find it hard to be still. With the invention of the internet and social media it seems so hard to just be still and think. Sometimes the way I do this is with windshield time. I have an hour or 30 minutes to sit there in a car. I just turn off the radio and just let the quiet happen. I get distracted easily, but sometimes I just have really clear thoughts about life. I try to allow God to speak to me. I try to just think about what's most important right now. We need to stop and be still. We need this time. Part of the reason why there is such a thing as a mid-life crisis is people don't ever take the time to think. They just go, go, go and at age 40 they look back and wonder what they've accomplished. Stop and take the time to think about your life. 

3. Be moved

The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, "Jesus wept." I loved to quote this verse when I was in Bible camp. These two words reveal a lot about Jesus. Jesus had been called by Mary and Martha to come see their sick brother, Lazarus. Jesus had delayed. He did this because of the larger purpose of bringing glory to God. Mary and Martha did not understand this. They were all very close to Jesus and they believed if he would have come earlier he could have saved Lazarus. They were right, but Jesus had a plan. Jesus ended up resurrecting Lazarus, but the pain of his friends moved him to tears. 

Some are wired to be moved to tears easily, some not so much. But we should have our emotions stirred on a frequent basis. The other day while I was out at a youth camp in Colorado a young lady came up to me. I could not remember who she was. She told me and I immediately remembered her. She began to tell me that her grandpa's dying wish was that she be baptized by me. She said she was ready for this. I hugged her tight and we had a neat moment. This really stirred my emotions. We should be people that can have emotions stirred. We should not be so cynical about life that we are calloused to the things that should move us. 

So today, I know it's Monday and I know it's raining, but if you can laugh, think and cry it's been a pretty good day. 

Have a great Monday,

Billy


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