Billy's Blog
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January 3, 2018, 11:24 AM

It Is What It Is


You ever said, "it is what it is." What do you mean? 

This phrase was first recorded in 1972 by James Brown in the song, Mind Power. It's been in various songs, it's been the title of a movie, and it's been uttered in movies and TV shows. I think it means that we just accept something even if we don't like it or its weird or unexpected. We may not like it but...it is what it is. 

2018 is upon us. You might want some positive change in your life in 2108, but it will not happen simply because you flip the calendar. 2018 is merely a number it won't magically change anything. If you have the "it is what it is" attitude about 2018 you will no positive changes. Actually, I would say that you will probably find your life moving in a direction you don't like. Most things that we call accidents are not positive. we call them accidents, because the result was not intended and it was unwanted. 

If you are not purposeful and intentional about your life it will be come an it is what it is year for you. God is big on purpose. The word, purpose, is listed 36 times in the Bible. Purposed is used 19 times, and purposes is used 5 times. God does not do things on accident or without purpose. This all sounds good but how do I live on purpose and be intentional about my life in 2018. Here are some things that help me...

1. Write it down. 

I have a little white board in my office that I write down my daily goals. These are tasks that I must get done that day. I start my day at the office writing these down. When I get one done I cross it off. It's about taking action. Proverbs 19:21 tells us that we have many plans in our hearts. We all have kinds of ideas, but if we are not intentional about them and write them down and get intentional about them it won't happen. Write them down, take action, and you will feel much better about your day and your productivity. 

2. Tell someone else your plans. 

There are about 59 "one another" verses in the Bible. These verses instruct us on how to interact with each other. The point is that you were never meant to live this life alone. If you are going to be successful in making your life purposeful and intentional you have to tell others about your plans. When you bring others into your life and your plans you add accountability and support. I have friends in my life that ask me questions about what book I'm reading to grow, or what I'm doing to accommplish my goals. I know they will ask me so I better have an answer. Their support makes me accountable and pushed me to action. 

3. Commit your plans to God

Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed." I love this verse, because it gives me hope. I know that many of my purposes and plans are beyond what I can do on my own. I need the help of God and I want the help of God. The Bible tells me that I'm God's fellow worker...me and God are co-workers. That's pretty cool! I get to be partners with God in this thing called life. I'm not here all by myself with my own purposes and plans...I've got God on my side. 

4. One last thing to remember...failure is not failure. 

We can make many plans that don't succeed. We can work really hard and not get the results we desire. We can do everything the "experts" tell us to do and nothing works. Don't lose heart. Whenever I find these things happening I have realized something...God has something better for me. My plan wasn't God's plan and he's got something better for me. You job is not to know the future or control all the results...your job is to remain faithful and obedient. If your plans have failed just keep being obedient and faithful and God will give you some plans that are much better. 

I hope that 2018 is your best year yet. I pray that you will be purposeful and intentional like you've never been before. God has great stuff in store for you if you'll just remain faithful and not give up! 




December 19, 2017, 9:04 AM

Simple message that changed the world


If we are going to be friends I just have to tell you something about me right now. If you are going to tell me a story you better get to the point or you're going to lose me. I get very lost and bored in complicated and long stories full of details that I don't really need. I love a good story, but you better get to the heart of it quick or you're going to lose me. I'm not saying this is right or wrong, it's just the way that I am. 

Maybe this is why I love the Gospel. The story is so simple. It's goes like this. We sinned and separated ourselves from God. God sent Jesus to die for our sins and arise to bring us back to God. You need Jesus to get to God you can't get to God on your own. Ok, that's about it. I love it. It's a very simple message that has changed the world. 

The story of the birth of Jesus is much the same. It's a simple story. Jsseph and Mary were pledged to be married. God sent his son to be born by a virgin, this was Mary. He was born in a manger in Bethlehem, because they had come for the census and there was no room in the inn. People came from afar to worship him guided by a star. This was how Jesus entered the world as a human and changed the world. 

There are lots of details to both stories, the Gospel and the birth of Jesus, but this is the heart of it. These are simple stories that changed the world. 

I would imagine that our lives are much the same. There are things that have changed our lives that were simple. I really believe that one of the reasons I do what I do today is when my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Carlson, made me the narrator of our Christmas play. I saw that I really liked to talk in front of people...even a bunch of people. 
Maybe you have a similar story. Someone did something simple in your life that made a huge imapct. 

A teacher said something that encouraged you. 

A boss did something that made you believe in yourself. 

Your dad hit ground balls to you in the backyard. 

A book you read inspired you. 

A Sunday school teacher took extra time with you. 

The point is that simple things change the world. So here's some action that you can take to be a part of a simple message that changes the world. 

1. Remember those that did simple things to change your world.

People need to know that made a difference in your life. So many people have the idea that their lives have really made no or very little difference in the lives of others. There are people who are tempted to quit, because they don't think that they are doing any good. If you were able to send them a message today telling them how they made a difference in your life it might change their world. You just might change of lot of lives today, because you just inspired them to not give up. It's amazing what a positive chain reaction can do. 

2. Seek out ways you can make a simple difference. 

The other day someone posted on their timeline on Facebook about how joining our church has changed their life. It made my dad. I'm sure to this person it was about 30 seconds they spent that was just a fleeting thought of their day...but it made a huge difference in my life. This inspires me to find ways that I can do the same for someone else.

It might be a person I meet at Walmart today.

It might be someone I meet for lunch. 

It might be someone I send a text to. 

It might be a teenager I see today. 

I don't know who it might be, but I know I need to be intentional to make it happen. I need to be praying for opportunities to make a simple difference in someone's life today. The best way to be intentional is simply to be obedient. The reason the Gospel came to be is because Jesus was obedient to his mission even when he didn't want to be. 

Joseph was obedient to his mission even when he didn't really understand it. 

Mary was obedient to her calling even when it troubled her to do so. 

So seek a way today to take your simple message to someone to make a big difference. You may have no idea how God will use you, but just be obedient to him. He will figure out the details you just say YES. 

 




December 12, 2017, 10:53 AM

The Human Spirit


I like to avoid the news, because I just feel bombarded with bad news. Murders, abuse, rape, terrorism, fires...it's just non-stop. I just don't want to even hear any more. You hear so much negative about people that you wonder if there are any good people left. Yet at the same time I am so impressed and inspired by the human spirit. 

What sets us apart from the animals and all creation is that we are created in the image of God. In the Latin it is, imago dei, and it is the spirit that connects us with God. I also believe that it is the part of us that pushes us to survive and thrive. It's the part of us that won't let us give up. It's the part of us that pushes us to keep going even when we don't feel like it. It's the part of us that pushes us to not give up when most of us just wants to lay down and die. 

We all are tempted to give up. We want to give up on our careers when we don't get the promotions we though we'd get or it's just not what we thought it would be. We are tempted to give up on our marriage when it gets tougher than we thought it would ever be. We are tempted to give up on our friends when they disappoint us. We are tempted to give up on our church when there is conflict and problems we never saw coming. We are tempted to give up on our lives when we are dealt a blow with some serious health issue that is going to require a nasty battle. 

But you know what...we don't give up. We rise up. We battle. We fight for what we want. We fight to survive and thrive and that is that imago deo...the image of God. God has instilled this in us and it's what we cling to. 

So today if are tempted to give up...dig deep into that spirit that God has given you. It's that part of you that knows you can't give up...you have to keep going. Tap into that spirit. 

When you feel today that you are just going to do the very least you have to do to get by, tap into that spirit that makes us want to thrive. Don't settle...give your best. Your co-workers deserve it, your customers deserve it, your students deserve it, and most importantly God deserves your very best. 

People all around us are looking for inspiration. You can inspire them just by refusing to give up and refusing to settle. You can inspire others just by showing up every day even when you don't feel like it and surviving and thriving. Show the world around you that there's a great reason to not give up and to not settle. Show the people around you that there's a great reason to not give up but to continue to battle. 

Go show the world that the human spirit is alive and well and kicking and refuses to give up or lose! 




December 5, 2017, 10:59 AM

Simple people making a big difference


Most of us want to make a difference. We choose careers because we want to make a difference. We have families because we want to make a difference. We join a church because we want to make a difference. We get involved in coaching or mentoring because we want to make a difference. 

The problem is sometimes we just don't feel like we are qualified to make a difference. We know ourselves all too well. We know our flaws, our inconsistencies, our secrets, and our failures. How in the world could we make a difference in the world and in the lives of others when our own lives are pretty messy? 

As I think about some of the great stories of the Bible I think about the people that God used. We are inching up towards Christmas time fairly quickly and I think about Mary and Joseph. They were as common as they could be. Mary was an ordinary young woman, Joseph was a blue-collar working guy. There was nothing seemingly extraordinary about them, but God chose them to be a part of the most famous story ever told. 

Moses was just an ordinary shepherd who was trying to live a quiet, unassuming life when God called him to lead the Israelites out of bondage. Four different times Moses told God he did not want to do it, and he was not the man God wanted. God would not change his mind so Moses agreed. Moses felt inadequate...he had some kind of speech problem and he had killed a man. God told him your my man so let's get after it. 

The people of Israel had been crying out for someone to help them out. They once again had fallen away from God and had been suffering because of it. Their crops were getting plundered by other groups of people and they were starving to death. God called Gideon to help save them. God called Gideon a might warrior but Gideon disagreed. He told God that he was in the worst tribe of Israel, Manasseh, and he was the worst of the worst. God used Gideon anyway and using lanterns, glass jars, and trumpets they had a great military victory against their enemies. 

If you want to make a difference in the world it's not about you being extraordinary. Many extraordinary people never really live up to their potential, because they don't feel the need for anyone else. All you need is obedience. The reason that glass jars, trumpets, and lanterns worked in defeating thousands of men is because God told them to use them and they did. They were obedient. 

We are all pretty ordinary. Most of us won't be famous. We won't ever be eulogized by famous people in front of thousands in some famous cathedral. But our lives can make a huge impact if we will just partner up with God and be obedient to what he's called us to do. 

You want to make a difference? Be like Joseph, Mary, Moses and Gideon...just be obedient.  




November 28, 2017, 8:42 AM

What do you want from me?


If you've lived for very long you've probably had someone who you could not please. It might have been one of your parents who you could never satisfy. No matter what you did it was never good enough. Maybe it was a coach who demanded from you more than you could give. Maybe it was a boss at work that was critical of your work no matter how good it was or how committed you were to it. It might have been a husband or wife that you never do enough for and it broke your heart. You have probably uttered this question, "What do you want from me?" 

This is a question out of frustration, because we can't figure out what they are looking for from us. We are giving all we can give and it's never enough. You can easily get to the point where you just want to give up. Why should we continue to try to produce the impossible? 

When it comes to God what does he really want? The Bible is a huge book full of commands and laws and decrees. The Pharisees tried to keep and enforce over 600 laws. In the midst of all the complicated theology what does God really want from me? 

I want to share a passage of scripture with you that I've always found interesting and challenging. It's found in Amos 5. 

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
    your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
    I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
    forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
    the pedestal of your idols,
    the star of your god[b]—
    which you made for yourselves. Amos 5:21-26

What is God getting at? What is he after with this rebuke? 

Remember that God was the one who had instituted all of these things...festivals, assemblies, offerings, songs, but he is telling the people to stop it. He doesn't want to hear their songs, he doesn't want their offerings, and their assemblies are making him sick to his stomach. Here's why...he didn't have their hearts anymore. 

He still had their actions, they were still doing the right STUFF, but their hearts were long gone. Their true allegiance was not to him. In verse 26 God says that they had "lifted up the shrine of their king, the pedestal of your idols". God was not only after their behavior and their STUFF he wanted their hearts. 

In the book of Revelation in chapters 2-3 we have letters written to seven different churches in Asia. John writes to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:4 that they had "lost their first love." They were doing a lot of the same STUFF, but God didn't have their heart. They had lost what they once had. 

Here's the deal...if God has your heart the rest of you will follow. Jesus said that where our treasure is there our heart will be, too. Our lives follow our hearts. If God has our hearts we will have no problem with our assemblies...our churches will be full. If God has our heart there will be no problem meeting budgets because our pocketbooks will follow. If God has our heart there will not be the division we see at times in the church, we will be working together to complete our mission. 

I'm not talking about perfection. David was described as a "man after God's own heart", but if you know anything about David you know he was far from perfect. God called a guy named Saul to lead his church. He had been one of the biggest enemies of the church, but God saw a good heart. If he could Saul to believe the truth he would have someone who would do great things. 

So does God have your heart? You are the only who knows. Does he have your allegiance or is there another god in control of your life? 

God will never ask anything of you that you can't give. He loves you the way that you are...he created you the way that you are for a reason. Just give what you have to him and watch what he does with it. 


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