Billy's Blog
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July 6, 2017, 10:22 AM

Deny Yourself


I've had to say no to my kids a LOT through the years. Many times I don't like saying no to them, but I have to. The person I really don't like saying no to is me. I struggle to say no to me. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control, and I really struggle in this area. I don't like to control myself. I like to say yes to me. I like to let myself do whatever I want to do. 

The problem with this is if I want be a Christ follower, a disciple of Jesus, I must deny myself. 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24

The first step to following Jesus is denying myself. Why must this happen? What does this mean? 

1. Why this must happen. 

If you are going to follow Jesus you can't be in charge anymore. I know, you don't like this, either, but it's part of the deal. Jesus has to be in charge. Just think about this. You have decided to follow Jesus. Why? One of the reasons you decide to follow Jesus is that you are disatisfied with your life. You are actually disatisfied with the direction of your life and you have been in charge of that. You have been the captain of your ship. If you don't like where you are heading why keep driving? You have to let someone else take over the wheel. If you are going to follow Jesus you can't be the one driving anymore. This is the first step to being a disciple...giving up control. 

2. What does this mean? 

Denying yourself means creating a practice of saying NO to you. Ephesians 2:1-3 is very clear that the reason we got in the mess that we got into was our own behavior. We did whatever we wanted to. We followed our own sinful desires and did whatever felt good. Doing whatever we wanted to is the reason we need Jesus. 

A lot of people like the idea of Jesus being the Savior. We like the idea that he saves us, and because of him we have salvation and we get to go to heaven not hell. This is great news. BUT...we're not so sure of this idea of Jesus being Lord. We're not real sure of someone else being in control. We like to be in control. 

The key word in all of this is TRUST. To follow Jesus we must trust him that he knows what he's doing and that he has our best interests in mind. When we go all in and let him be Lord of our lives we have finally agreed to trust him. 

When my kids get in the car they have total trust in me. We've driven through snow storms, severe thunderstorms, hail, extreme wind, and heavy rain. I've never seen my children freak out about it. They have trust in me that I can drive this vehicle and get us safely to wherever we are planning to go. 

Do you have this kind of trust in God? Are you ready to deny yourself and let Jesus be Lord of your life? 




June 30, 2017, 10:02 AM

Follow


Social media has really brought back the idea of following. If you are on Twitter you either follow someone or you have followers. I was just informed the other day that you do not have "friends" on Instagram you have followers. I'm still learning this social media thing, and teenagers humble me a lot with their knowledge. But what exactly is a Twitter or Instagram follower? How much commitment is there to be a follower of someone on social media? 

Well, the commitment is rather low. Actually, you don't have to do much except just look at what is posted. I know there are some pretty dedicated Twitter followers out there who hang on every Tweet, but the commitment level is still fairly low. It's kind of like Facebook where being a friend means that you accept a request. That is all the commitment required. 

But what about following Jesus? 

In Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus gives us one definition of what it means to follow him. He give us three things we must do: deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow him. He defines being a disciple which is another way of saying a follower. Think about these three things...deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Jesus. 

*Deny Yourself

This means that you are no longer in control. You are no longer the one calling the shots. When you give your life to Jesus you do just that. It's not your life anymore. Paul said that he was "crucified with Christ" in Galatians 2:20. He was no longer the captain of the ship. This is what you must do. 

*Pick up your cross

We must go all in. Cultural Christianity says that when we are saved that Jesus is here to bless our lives. We go live our lives and he follows us around and blesses what we do. This is not Biblical Christianity. We go all in. Our whole lives is about serving Jesus. Everything that we do is wrapped around serving God! 

*Follow me

You actually have to go and follow Jesus. You can't just talk about it, philosophize about it, and blog about it. You have to do it. Jesus' brother James wrote that "faith without works is dead." If you follow Jesus your life will show it. 

So there you go...following Jesus defined in a nice little nutshell. Oh, but it is so much easier to write it down. It's a lot harder to do it. But look at your life today and think about those three things. How are you doing? 

Following Jesus is a lot more of a commitment than following a celebrity on Twitter. But following Jesus is the best decision you'll ever make! 




June 21, 2017, 9:09 AM

Going All In


I do not like to jump into cold water. I do not like to ease into cold water. So if you are going to swim in water that is cold you've got to do one or the other. If you've ever been in somewhat cold water you know the only way to do it is to just go all in and jump in. It's just plain torture the other way. 

This week at LCC we are having an event called, The Big Splash. We have been promoting it as a great day to come and get baptized and give your life to Jesus Christ. This week I'm finishing up the sermon series talking about why we do baptism the way we do it. The simple answer is because we believe this is what the Bible mandates we do. The other reason, which is also Biblical, is the symbolism. 

We practice baptism by immersion, because there is huge symbolism in this. Romans 6 talks about being "buried with Christ." We've all seen a burial service, and we know what it looks like. The whole body goes under the dirt. This is part of the baptism ceremony. The second part of baptism is the resurrection. 1 Peter 3:21 tells us that the power in baptism is the resurrection of Jesus. When we come out of the water it's symbolic of Jesus arising out the grave. Jesus had new life and so do we! 

I love the picture of baptism, because it's about going ALL IN. Everyone's hair gets messed up. The ladies' make up gets ruined. Balding men trying to hide their baldness are ratted out with wet hair clinging to their scalp. You're usually dressed in swimwear of some kind. It's a humbling experience, but an amazing one. Your whole body goes in and your whole old life is done away with forever. It's a great picture. 

If you need to go all in for Jesus maybe it's time. Maybe it's time to stop making excuses about why you can't do it, and just give in. Maybe it's not quite time and you need some more answers. Maybe you need to search for more truth. That's good, too. Just don't put any of this off any longer. 

God is merciful to us everyday to keep giving us opportunities to give our lives to him. But all opportunities run out. 

Don't waste another day. 




June 13, 2017, 9:59 AM

Simple Obedience


As a child you probably hated this phrase from your parents, "because I said so!" 

That trumped all arguments that you had or could come up with at the time. There was no rebuttal to that. You had to do what they said, because they were the parents and you were not. No amount of logical arguments could change that. It was obey, because they were the authority. 

There are a lot of commands in the Bible that people question. They ask why they should have to do this or that. They said this because they don't understand the value of what is being commanded. They might say this, because they don't agree or it simply doesn't make sense to them. As a parent you have to tell your children to do things that sometimes do not make sense to them, but their obedience is still commanded. 

In Acts chapter two we read about an event called, Pentecost. Pentecost was a Jewish celebration that happened 50 days after the Passover. Thousands of people are gathered in Jerusalem for this event. While these thousand are gathered a group of 12 men are gathered together in a room. Jesus has died, resurrected and ascended into heaven and now it's on them. Jesus did promise them his Spirit, but physically they were there all on their own. They were to start this thing called the church, but I'm not convinced they were convinced this would ever happen. 

As they sat in this room a violent wind came up and the Holy Spirit descended on them. Through this miracle these men were able to speak to all the people gathered in their own languages. What a great miracle! 

Peter got and spoke and the heart of his message was that this, Jesus of Nazareth who was a lowly carpenter, was actually the Messiah, the Christ. The prophets that they believed in told them about him, but they didn't see it. They killed him. I want to share with you what Peter says in Acts 2:36-38. 

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

There are three things that happen here. 

1. The message

The message is that this Jesus, who you guys killed, was that Messiah that the Old Testament prophets spoke about. You are guilty of killing the Son of God. 

2. The question

The people were heartbroken when they realized the magnitude of what they had done. They responded with a simple question, "What shall we do?" They wanted to know how to make this right. 

3. The answer

Repent...be baptized...have your sins forgiven...receive the Holy Spirit. 

So why do we have to be baptized? Why do we have to go into water to do this? Can't we just say a prayer, or sign an agreement form, or just repeat a few words? 

Simple answer...because this is God told us to do. 

God is our parent. We may not understand everything He commands us to do but our responsbility is to obey in faith. Our role is to trust Him to obey Him even if we are not fully convinced of the reason. 

Have you been obedient to God in this way? 

If the answer is, NO, it's something you really need to think about. 

 




May 31, 2017, 10:03 AM

Inside Out


Do you remember your first car? 

My first car is still my favorite car. It was a 1979 Chevy Monte Carlo with t-tops and a 305 engine with a 4-barrel carburetor. Man, I loved it. I washed it so much that my dad said I was going to wash off the paint. I loved to detail it. I loved to get the Armor All out and shine that dash up. I loved to vacuum it and get it looking good. I loved to make it look good. As a young guy that was my main goal...make it LOOK good. I wasn't so worried about oil changes, tranmission services, rusty brake lines, or anything like that. The inside working of the car was not that big deal to me. 

As you get older you realize that how the car runs is much more important than a shiny dash or good lookin chrome wheels. For the vehicle to truly be in good shape you need to make sure the oil is changed frequently, that the transmission is serviced in a timely manner, and that the tires and brakes are taken care of. 

The same is true of our lives. In Matthew 23:25-28 Jesus scolds the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. They could make their outside look good to everyone. They could appear to be righteous when they really were not. Jesus compares them to a couple of things. 

1. A cup that's clean on the outside but not the inside. 

If you've ever had little kids wash your dishes you've probably looked them over before you've used them. Kids are good at making the outside look good, but forgetting about the milk ring on the inside. We know that the inside is what's really important. The same is true of our righteousness. If we just clean up the outside to make people think we are righteous, but are dirty inside, that's not what God is after. 

2. Whitewashed tombs. 

Jesus said their lives were like whitewashed tombs. It doesn't matter how pretty a tomb may appear there are still dead bones inside of it. No matter how much the Pharisees worked at trying to make themselves look on the outside they were still dead spiritually. 

How much have you tried to make people think you were ok, but you knew you really weren't? 

So what is God after? 

The Bible calls David a "man after God's own heart." When you begin to read about the life of David you realize he was not perfect. He was far from it. He actually committed a heinous sin when, because of lust for another man's wife, he had an officer in his army sent to the front line where he would certainly be killed. When God saw all of this he sent a prophet named, Nathan, to address this issue. Nathan told him a story about a man who had a big flock of sheep but didn't want to pick from his flock for a big dinner. He wanted the one little lamb that another man had raised like his own child. The man with the huge flock took the man's one little lamb and took it for the dinner. David was furious at this story. He said that they should take that man and punish him severely for his selfishness. Then Nathan said, "You are the man." 

David was heartbroken at what he had done. He had been so caught up in his lust that he lost his mind. But when he was confronted with his sin he was truly sorry. 

This is what God is after. No...God is not wanting us to commit heinous sins. But God does want us to have soft hearts willing to be repentant and humble. He wants our hearts. He knows we are imperfect...in desperate need of the grace of God, but he wants ALL of us. 

He is not asking for anything we can't give. Just ourselves. 


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