Billy's Blog
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August 21, 2018, 8:46 AM

Paid Forward...Forever


Several years ago there was this Christian radio station in Minneapolis that was doing a promotion encouraging people to pay for someone else in line. It might be the drive thru coffee shop, or McDonalds or whatever. It didn't matter just pay for the person behind you. It's a pretty cool experience when you pull forward to pay for your stuff and the person in front of already took care of it. It feels a little odd, too. You really want to pay it back but you can't. Usually you have no idea who that person was. 

The word, redeemed, means that your price has been paid. It's as if a ranson was out for you and someone paid your ransom, but you cannot pay it back. This is what Jesus did for you on the cross. Under the old law something had to die to pay for sins. They used animals and the blood of animals. You did not want to pay this price. God sent Jesus down here to pay the price for you. He took your place so that you could have eternal life. 

As I sit here and just stop and think about this I am convicted that I take this for granted. I don't realize how great of a gift this is. I know a young lady who has a liver from someone. She had a liver disease as a young girl and she was given a liver from someone who had donated their organs. This has made a huge impact on this young lady's life. The obvious impact is that she is able to keep on living a healthy life and go on and pursue her dreams. But she also has a never ending gratitude to this person and their family. It's something you just don't take for granted. Someone had to die so that you can live. 

The same is true of what Jesus did for us. He died so that you can live. He paid it forward forever. 

So how do we pay it forward? I can't do the same thing for someone, but I can share this good news with other people. I can let people know that this kind of gift is available to them, too. This is what Jesus asks us to do. He wants more people to know that this gift is for them. So go out there and pay it forward. 




August 15, 2018, 3:33 PM

Your Identify Revealed


We reveal identity a lot of ways. We tell someone our name. We show our driver's license. We wear a name tag. God reveals your identity a little differently. He reveals your identity in his Word. Many of you might not know your God given identity, because you've bought into the world's identity of you. 

I would guess that as a child you were given lots of identities that you never liked. Four eyes, chunky, dumb, slow, stupid, too skinny, too short, too tall...there's almost no escaping it. But this is not who you are. 

The media and adveritising tells us all kinds of things about ourselves. We are not pretty or handsome enough. We don't make enough money. Our clothes are not stylish enough. Our vehicle is too old. Our kids aren't involved in the right stuff. We don't have the right job, etc, etc. 

Here is what God says about you all through the book 1 Peter. You are REDEEMED. Your ransom has been paid. You are set free from the penalty of your sin by Jesus Christ. This is amazing news. 

You are CHOSEN. You are not an accident, you are not an oops, you are chosen by God. You are chosen to do amazing things for God. God did not get stuck with you. 

You are BRAVE. You have endured some scary stuff...cancer, car wrecks, deaths in your family, financial trouble, divorce. You have stood face to face with some tough stuff and you have battled and won. 

You are GIFTED. I have a friend who was reading a book and it was talking about understanding your strengths. It listed about 34 different strengths and and it said that with your top five strengths in a row that only about 200 people in the world had that same order of strengths. In other words...you are uniquely gifted by God. 

You are HUMBLE. You are willing to serve. You are willing to get your hands dirty and humble yourself to serve other people. You are humble enough to admit when you are wrong and try to make it right. 

Your identity is revealed in God's Word. Stop looking at magazines that spew out worldly advice or the media that tells you who you should be. Trying to fit into the world's box is like trying to hit a moving target. You'll keep missing and you'll get so frustrated you'll just give up. Find your identity with God. He made you. He knows you. Listen to Him. 




August 6, 2018, 9:53 AM

A Country Divided...Can It Be Brought Together?


We hear so much about a country being divided. We blame it on the President or those who oppose him. We usually blame it on the people we don't agree with, because we know that we are right and we just can't be the problem. The last time we really had a united country was 1792 when George Washington ran unopposed and won all of the electoral votes. Ever since then we've had some sort of division. 

You could say that our country was united right after 9/11 but that lasted abou 10 minutes. In politics there is too much money and power to gain for the country to be united in this way. If you are waiting for our country to be united politically you are going to be waiting a while. But unity can happen. A country, a state, a county, a city, a neighborhood and yes even a church can be united. But it's not easy and it's going to take you and me doing things that don't come natural. And don't expect every one to buy in and go along with unity. Jesus said that he brought division. He knew that his teaching and his style of ministry would not bring everyone together. So how do we foster unity? 

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:1-5

If you take Paul's words here and boil them down to one sentence here is what he says, "It's not about you." 

If we ever want to really foster unity in a group of people that are all different from each other in many ways we must decide that not everything is about us. We don't always have to get our way. It doesn't always have to be done the way I would do it. I have to want what's best for others, too. 

The only way we can do this is if we take on the attitude of Christ. 

This means that we have to surrender to him. This means that when we are involved with a group of people we must continually pray and seek the attitude of Christ in ourselves. This is hard for me. I am driven. I have a lot of ideas. I think that I know what's best. But as I look back on my life working with people I've been proven wrong time and time again. What I thought was best wasn't best. What I thought was a good idea was not a good idea. What was best for the whole group was not necessarily what I thought was best for me. 

So take a deep breath. Stop pushing your way and think about what is best for the group. Pray for the attitude of Christ to overcome your own selfish attitude. Just imagine if in every group there were people who did this. The country, the state, the county, the city, the neighborhood and the church would be a lot better place. 

Be a part of this great change. 




July 18, 2018, 9:45 AM

Your Journey


This week I am going on a journey with our youth to the mountains of Colorado. We attend a youth camp out there that draws between 1,200-1,400 people. It's quite an event. 

A big part of the trip is the journey. If you've ever been on a journey with a large group of people you've experienced all kinds of things along the journey. Bus breakdowns, flat tires, broken axles, car sick kids...there's all kinds of great stories along the way. Actually when I think about some of the journeys I've been on some of the best stories are about the worst stuff. It's funny how that happens. 

How's your journey going? Remember when you were 16, 17, 18 years old and you had your whole journey mapped out. You knew exactly where you going and how you were going to get there and when you would arrive. I laugh out loud thinking about how much did not go as planned. I ended up in places like Iowa, Minnesota, Louisiana and Missouri...four places I had no plans to ever go to. I never thought I would marry a girl from Minnesota and end up having a child born in Mississippi. 

You also don't plan on having a heart attack, losing your dad, losing your father in law, and a brother in law at age 39. 

You don't plan financial difficulties, divorces, miscarriages or job losses. But unfortunately these things are a part of our journey. I saw one meme the other day that said, "Life sucks. Then you die." Well, there is SOME truth to that, life does suck at times, and unless Jesus comes back before your time you will die, but it's much better than that. 

YOUR JOURNEY HAS A PURPOSE

God did not make everything in your life happen. Some of your journey has been there, because of choices you've made. Some of your journey has been there simply because stuff happens. But God has a purpose for all of it. He can use anything you've gone through in your life for His glory and He will if you let Him. 

YOUR JOURNEY HAS MADE YOU WHO YOU ARE

There are things in your life that were difficult but you've said that you wouldn't go back and change it. You said this, because that experience has helped make you the person you are. The reason the Apostle Paul was so passionate about spreading the Gospel is because he spent so many years foolishly trying to stop it. His journey made him who he was. You are no different. Think about what you are passionate about. You are passionate about that partly because of your journey and what you've been through. 

YOUR JOURNEY NEEDS TO SLOW DOWN A BIT

As a general rule men are conquerors. For example, a guy is driving. He's taking the family on a vacation. Last year the family went to the same vacation spot. Last year it took 12 hours and 36 minutes to get there. This year that number is going down. You will make it in under 12 hours and 36 minutes. If you have to go the bathroom you better grab an empty Coke bottle, because dad ain't stopping. 

It's kind of silly. Here you are on vacation and you're stressing about getting there quicker. We all need to slow down a little bit and enjoy our journey. I am like the kettle calling the pot black on this one. I am bad at it. I'm that competitive conqueror who wants to get there. I need to slow down and enjoy the journey. 

You're never going to get all your work done today so go home at a decent time and enjoy your family. 

Those emails will be there tomorrow...shut your computer off and go fishing with your kids. 

No matter how much laundry you do today there will be dirty clothes tomorrow...sit down and read your kid a book. 

No matter how much you drive today...the road continues on. Take a break and check out that state park. 

God has given us so much to enjoy. We will live for eternity, but we only get one journey through this life. Let's make the most of it. Get all you can out of it and enjoy it. There's no redos so let's get it right the first time. 




July 10, 2018, 9:39 AM

The Corruption Of Power


Power should be a good thing. If you have power and influence that should be good. It's a great opportunity to do a lot of amazing things. If you have power you probably have some money, too. Money can sure do a lot of good things, but the Bible says that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. The same is true of power. 

I thought this quote by a guy named Emerich Edward Dahlberg Acton was pretty good. He said, "All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Power doesn't have to corrupt people, but it sure seems to. And absolute power...usually not a good thing. When you hear the word, dictator, it probably doesn't bring any good memories up. We think of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin...men with absolute power who did terrible things. 

Why does power corrupt people? Why can't we do good things with power? 

Here's what things like power and money reveal...they reveal what you really love. If you really love people and value people more than power or money you will do positive and good things with your power. If you love power more than people you will use your power to do what's best for you. Read what John writes in 1 John chapter two. 

 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17

If you love the world, the things of the world like money and power and prestige, then you will give in to the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and to pride. You will be corruptible. There are many men and women who go into politics with great intentions to do great things for people, and they end up being corrupted by the power they receive. Their first love changed. Or maybe they were in love with an idea...an idea to help people, but it wasn't really who they were. 

There have been many men and women who have used power and influence to help a lot of people. We've all heard stories of rich and famous people who built hospitals, or supported missionaries, or built people homes...these like this. Many of these people do not do it in front of the camera and lights they just do it, because their first love is not the power and the money. 

If you love the world you're going to be corruptible. We don't have to be politicians or wealthy or famous to be corruptible. Our motives and intentions can be corrupted no matter how insignificant we may be in the scheme of things. We need to check ourselves. Is our first love in the right place? 

John also wrote the book of Revelation and in chapter two he deals with a church in Ephesus. This church had some great things in the past. John praises them for their hard work, their perseverence, their endurance, and their willingness to stand up to false teachers. But one thing they lacked...they had lost their first love. They had forgotten why they were doing what they were doing. 

We can't lose our first love. We can't fall in love with the world and the things around us. This when we get corruptible. We must always challenge ourselves to go back to where it all started...our love for Jesus. That's where it all started and that's where it needs to stay. 


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