Billy's Blog
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March 17, 2016, 9:25 AM

Enemy #1--Defeated!

Growing up in St. Helens, Oregon our biggest enemy was the Scappoose Indians. That was our rival. They dubbed our annual football game, The Seven-Mile War, because it was seven miles in between towns. The rivalry was pretty intense. We burned a tractor tire on their football field. They put a dead skunk on our bus. It was pretty crazy. When we would meet in football or basketball  either facility would be filled to capacity. At one league championship football game there were over 5,000 people there. At the time our towns had a combined population of about 11,000.  The stakes were high!

What if I told you that our greatest enemy has been conquered and you have nothing to fear? You might think it would ISIS or Al-Queda or maybe that a cure for cancer had been discovered. Our greatest enemy is death and there is a cure. Well, sort of. Unless Jesus comes back first we are all going to die. These bodies that we've been given have an expiration date. They are not meant to be around forever. But what if I told you that even when we die we don't lose if we have faith in Jesus. 

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

What's the message here? 

The message is that if you are a believer when you die you STILL WIN. Death doesn't win. When Jesus arose out of the grave he defeated enemy #1. I love that phrase in this passage...death has been swallowed up in victory. That word, victory, can be translated, conquest. A conquest is a victory over a massive enemy. I mean, this is David and Goliath kind of stuff. Our biggest fear, our biggest worry, our greatest source of anxiety and pain, has been defeated. So what now?

Well, read verse 58...the rest of the story. 

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Since this is settled, even in death we win, now go live your life. We are given four encouragements and commandments here in this verse:

1. Stand firm

2. Let nothing move you

3. Always give yourself fully to the work of God. 

4. Your labor is not in vain

In other words, now that your biggest enemy is defeated and that's settled, GO LIVE YOUR LIFE!

Give yourself fully to your life's work in service to God. 

Go be a great husband or wife. Go be a great parent. Go be a great boss. Go be a great employee. Go be a great neighbor. Serve God and others will all your heart. Live life without regrets and without reservations. Go all in. 

You've been set free from your greatest enemy. You don't have this worry hanging over your head. You aren't dealing with instability and insecurity about deaty anymore. So now you are free to live your life to the fullest right here. 

I believe Jesus said it best in John 10:10--The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 

Jesus has given you the opportunity to live life to the fullest. Now go do it!


February 17, 2016, 11:58 AM

Nothing To Lose

This morning I attended the funeral of a young man I have known for several years. I say young, he was 43, which certainly seems way too young to die. The minister said something that I don't think I've ever heard before. He disagreed with the thought that we lose our loved ones who are believers. He said when you lose something you don't know where it is. When a believer dies you know exactly where they are. 
I really like that mindset. 

For the next couple of weeks I'm preaching on the last days and the second coming of Jesus. In Matthew 24 Jesus directly addresses the topic of the signs of the times. As I read the chapter one overriding theme stuck out to me..."do not be alarmed."
In the middle of all of the warnings about persecution and distress and war and natural disaster Jesus simply says, "do not be alarmed." 
When our lives end we don't lose anything. We don't have anything to be scared of. We have nothing but good things coming our way. 

My friend died too early, as many of our loved ones have. But if we are believers in Jesus we don't lose anything. All we do is gain. 
I John 4:18 says that believers have nothing to be afraid of because fear has to do with punishment. Christqians can not only NOT fear the return of Jesus but we should ANTICIPATE it, because we know the one that's coming back to get us! In Jesus' words..." do not be alarmed."

February 9, 2016, 9:21 AM

The Gift of Letting Go

Forgiveness is a weird concept. We struggle with forgiveness because we have some warped views on it. Our mind does really strange thing with forgiveness. I've had a LOT of discussions with people who are struggling to forgive. The specific situations have been numerous, but the struggle has been common. Here's how the human mind struggles with forgiveness. 

We believe that people must pay for what they've done. We certainly believe in grace, mercy and kindness, but we are also strong believers in justice. We don't want to see people get away with things that they are guilty of doing. We've been wronged. We've been lied to, we've been cheated, we've been abused, we've been mistreated...fill in the blanks of how you've been wronged. We struggle to forgive these people who have wronged us, because forgiving them takes them off the hook. In our minds we conjure up the idea that if we forgive then we excuse their behavior. We are saying what they did is ok. This could not be further from the truth. 

In Ephesians chapter two Paul lays out very clearly how salvation works. In verse four through nine he lays out how God was merciful to us. He explains how grace works and how the incomparable love of God created a way for us to be forgiven. Through all of the mercy, grace and love our guilt is not simply ignored. In verse one through three Paul clearly states our guilt. 

Paul writes that we are, "dead in our trangessions and sins", "by nature objects of wrath", "disobedient"...our guilt is real. God doesn't forgive us because are "let off the hook", he forgives us because we are in desperate need of it. He forgives us because he desires a relationship with us. 

When you forgive you are moving on, letting go, and setting yourself free. When you hold onto hate, loathing, and revenge you are the one that is suffering. Your unwillingness to forgive is hurting the person you won't forgive way less than it's hurting you. Sometimes the object of your unforgiveness may not even be aware of how you feel. They may go to bed and sleep like a baby every night while you toss and turn with hate in your heart. 

I know that one little blog post won't heal your heart. I know that some of the wrongs that have been done against you are vile and hateful and have been a huge burden on your heart. But the sooner you are able to forgive and move on the quicker your healing will begin. Let God handle that other person. He knows what he's doing. 

January 27, 2016, 3:51 PM

Obedience = Healing

I try not to say I hate doctors because I don't hate doctors. I mean they have gone to years of medical school and racked up enormous amounts of student debt to try to help other people. I don't hate doctors, but I really hate what they tell me sometimes. I have a hard time with obedience, because I really don't want to do what they tell me. The problem is that if I'm not obedient to their instruction then I'm not going to be healed. I may not be healed any way, but I have no shot if I don't do the things they prescribe me to do. 

We struggle in this area with God, too. We want to be healed. We want our lives to get better. We want to get past the dysfunction in our lives, but many times we are unwilling to be obedient. 

This morning I led a Bible study at our church through the first eleven verses of Hebrews chapter four. The whole point of this passage is that disobedience to God, a rejection of the truth, doesn't lead us to where we need to go. It specifically refers back to Numbers 13-14 where the 12 spies are sent into the land of Canaan to check it out. This is the promised land that God told the Israelites go take. This was their land given to them by God. So Moses sent 12 men in their, a representative from each tribe. Ten of them came back scared and disobedient. There were too many giants, too many fortified cities, and they would have no prayer of taking this land. Two of them, Joshua and Caleb, came back with a different report. They had seen the same land, but their attitudes were different. They acted in obedience and faith and said they needed to go in and take the land, because God has given it to them. 

So what was the result of obedience versus disobedience?

The ten tribes that rejected the idea were not allowed into the promised land. Those that were 19 years old and younger were allowed in later, but those 20 years old and older never got to go in. 

The two tribes that followed Joshua and Caleb got to enter the promised land and enjoy what God had given them. 

If you want healing, if you want your life to work, you must be obedient to God. Sorry there are just no shortcuts or magic pills. It's about obedience to God. He knows what works. So just follow him. 

January 22, 2016, 8:13 AM

A Beautiful Imperfection

For the next three weeks I'll be preaching on the family. This week is parenting, next week is marriage, and then the next week is divorce. I could have titled this series, a Beautiful Imperfection, because none of our families are perfect. I mean, mine isn't, not sure about yours. It was funny I was talking to a friend of mine who recently has stayed with his parents for a while. He said he really didn't rememember a lot of details about his childhood. He didn't remember his parents fighting much, but now as an adult he notices that his parents argue quite a bit. Their marriage isn't quite the perfect setup that he remembers. 

As I preach about family I think about the imperfections in my life. I want to be a great dad, sometimes I'm proud of myself and sometimes not so much. I was visiting with one friend about parenting this week and he said that it seems right after you have a breakthrough you have another setback. Both children and parents make mistakes. 

As I think about marriage I think that sometimes I'm a great husband and sometimes I fall short. We can have a long period of time where I think, "Man this is easy, and so simple. Why would anyone ever have a troubled marriage?" Then there are times when we just can't seem to get it together. It's just an imperfect life. 

There's a country song from 2014 called, Awful Beautiful Life, by Darryl Worley. He sings in the song about his imperfect life but how it has it's beauty. I remember my father in law telling me how much he hated tuna casserole. This was a man that would eat ANYTHING. But he hated tuna casserole. We would laugh about how Lori's mom made tuna casserole about every night when they were first married, because it was about all she knew how to make. You have just have embrace the imperfection and laugh about it. 

Your marriage isn't perfect and you aren't a perfect parent. Many of you have been through divorces and family may have brought you much pain. But in all of the imperfection there is beauty. We choose to love each other and support each other despite our flaws, our warts, and our shortcomings. 

Embrace the imperfection and find the beauty. 

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