Billy's Blog
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January 25, 2017, 9:31 AM

Godly Optimism


A lot of people have asked me where I get my sermons. Well, there are a lot of sources. Some of my sermons are inspired by what is going on around us...preaching on cultural hot topics. Some just simply come out of my Bible reading. Something that I'm reading may just really get to me and I want to share it with the congregation. Another place of inspiration for sermons is other preachers. I don't do it often enough, but I try to listen to other preachers either through podcasts, the radio, or by watching Youtube. The other day I watched a sermon by an older preacher named, Ben Merold. 

Ben was talking about the difference between growing churches and stagnant churches is optimism. He was not talking about optimism based upon ourselves...kind of a positive thinking idea. He was talking about optismism based on God. He said that leaders of growing churches have high expectations in their church, because they are praying to God and expect Him to do something. 

I wonder if we struggle to be optimistic in our lives because we are depending upon ourselves. We are solely looking for answers and hope within ourselves, and so when we run out of options we get discouraged and depressed. One of the most well-known quotes of Jesus is found in Matthew 11:28. Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." In other words, when you follow Christ the whole world does not rest on your shoulders. We can have optimism and hope, because we serve a God who created the whole world in six days. We serve a God who parted a sea. We serve a God who has raised the dead, healed the sick and the lame, and even caused time to stand still. 

If you find yourself pessimistic with a "glass is half full" attitude maybe you need to think about who you are depending on. Do you have low expectations of life, because you are totally depending on yourself and looking only at your circumstances? 

You can have true optimism, because of the God we serve. I don't always have the answer. I don't always know how to fix something. I don't always know how things are going to work out or get better. But I have a God that does. 

I want to leave you with the words of God spoken directly to Joshua as he was taking on the incredible job of leading the Israelites following the death of Moses. 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9




January 20, 2017, 10:35 AM

This Little Light Of Mine


One of the highlights of my week is when we have our small group meet in our home. I just really enjoy the food, the conversations, the study, and just being around these people. This past week we talked about ONE thing you could do to be a positive influence wherever lifes takes you. This may be in your office, your factory, your classroom, and even your home. We talked about how in Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus tells the people in the Sermon on the Mount that they are the LIGHT of the world. So I just asked our group how each of us could do one thing to be a light. The answers were really encouraging. 

Some said they could just have a positive attitude when they come to work. One mom said that she could speak gentler to her children. One guy said that he could go out of his way to do something kind for someone. It was just really encouraging to hear people talk about real things they could do to be the light of the world. 

Then the next day I was teaching my 4th and 5th grade boys class that I co-teach with a guy that's in our small group. Our boys went to games and we had 15 minutes to just shoot the bull. He shared how he had a rather stressful interaction with a co-worker but he kept reminding himself that he needed to be nice and be a light. Another co-worker even commented on how well he had handled the interaction. He was challenged to be a light on Tuesday and on Wednesday he did it. 

This is why we come to church. This is why we attend small groups. This is why we purposefully put ourselves in places where we can be positively influenced by other people. We really do want our lights to shine. We want to be a positive influence where we live and work. One of the ways we keep our light bright is that we get recharged. We get around people who will not only encourage us but will challenge us to do the right thing. 

So what is going to be your ONE thing? How are you going to let your shine before people? 

There's so much darkness, so much negativity, in our world. Our world needs a few lights to help lead them to Jesus. 

Will you commit to being one little light? 




January 3, 2017, 4:38 PM

Plans Coming Together


Were you a fan of the A-Team TV show of the 1980's? As I write this post I can hear the theme song in my head. Do you hear it, too? The leader of this rag-tag bunch of Vietnam Veterans was John "Hannibal" Smith played by George Peppard. At the end of their crazy adventures he'd get his cigar out, light it and say, "I love it when a plan comes together." Their plans didn't always seem very wise or and were pretty far-fetched but their plans always came together. 

The problem with our lives is they aren't scripted and can't be neatly fixed in a 30-minute or one hour time slot. So how do we ever get to celebrate plans coming together? We've all seen plans go completely up in flames. How do we see some plans come together as we get started with 2017? 

1. Make plans

"if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." Benjamin Franklin

The Bible says in Proverbs, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3

Have you made any plans? Have you written them down? I joked as I was preaching up in Minnesota that I don't write down my plans, because then no one can hold me to them. Although I was joking there is some truth to this. If I make plans then I must get busy to do them. You've go to start with making a plan. So let's think about what it means to commit what I do to God. Why would God even bother to make my plans succeed.

2. Make plans that are in submission to God

James 4:15 reminds us that instead of just going ahead and making plans we should say, "if it is the Lord's will." This little statement submits our plans to the will of God. We should make plans, but we should always preface them with this statement. This give us flexibility for God to move. You may have a good plan, but God may have a much better one. 

3. Make plans that bring glory to God. 

Our main objective on this planet according to Jesus in Matthew five is to be "the light of the world." This means that we are to bring glory to God. If we are making plans that are only there to benefit us then our plans are not good enough. Our plans must ultimately be to glorify God. If are making plans for more education or a better job how are these plans going to bring glory to God? How are your plans going to make God look good in your life to others? These are questions you need to answer when it comes to your plans. 

4. Share your plans with other people. 

I know that if I keep my plans to myself I will not follow through. I need support and I need accountability. I need someone in my life who will ask how I'm doing. If I plan to lose weight, pay off some debt, or exercise daily I need someone and maybe many someones to ask me how I'm doing and challenge me in my plans. 

The words "one-another" in the Bible are actually one Greek word, allelon. It's pronounced, ah-LAY-loan. It's used 100 times in 94 verses in the Bible. It's all about our relationships with other believers. We need to share our lives, including our plans, with other believers. 

Tonight I'll gather with other friends in a small group we host in our home. We are going over this tonight and one of the things I'm going to stress is sharing our plans with other people. If you keep this to yourself chances are you'll never accomplish them. Make plans, submit them to God, glorify God with these plans, and share them with others. This is a good formula for having some plans come together in 2017. 

 




December 23, 2016, 3:56 PM

That's my story...and I'm stickin to it!


Christmas time is a time of hope. 

I'm not basing this upon your present circumstances. I'm not basing this upon whether you would describe this Christmas season as a good one or a bad one. Hope is not defined by our present circumstance. As I write this I can think of three families that are dealing with the loss of a loved on or the imminent loss of a loved one. Christmas 2016 may not be the best time for everyone, but Christmas is still a time of hope. 

I love this passage. It's found in 2 Corinthians written by a man who knew something about having hope despite being found in rather difficult circumstances. 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"Therefore we do not lose heart." This is hope. If you read in the previous several verses you will see that have hope in the grace and mercy of God which does not succomb to circumstances. Romans eight tells me that nothign, not even death, can separate me from the love of God that we find in Christ. 

"Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed." My hope is not based upon what happens to me physically. My outlook on life does not have to be controlled by what happens to my body. So many prayer requests at church are about physical needs, which is ok, but maybe we should see a bigger picture here. 

"For our light and momentary troubles..." Our perspective is very limited. Our average lifespan is just over 70 years in the United States...70 years in the light of eternity is a blip. Scripture calls our lives a mist or a vapor...something that is hear for a moment and then gone. With this perspective we are easily overwhelmed by trouble. It's like telling a four year old they have to wait an hour. You might as well say eternity. We have to remember that we have hope, because this too shall pass. 

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen..." Our hope is not based upon what we can see here or what we can control and fix...our hope is based on eternity. Our hope is based upon Jesus who paid the price for our sins and gives us hope forever. 

Christmas is a season of hope because we Jesus has come. In Matthew chapter one where we find the birth story of Jesus the angel tells Joseph that this baby is to be called, Jesus, because he would take care of the sins of his people. 

We are those people. We have hope. 

That's my story and I'm stickin to it! 




December 13, 2016, 10:00 AM

Someone Else's Shoes Don't Fit Right


It's really hard at times to look at life from another person's perspective. This morning I was at a business and the lady working the register was not super-friendly. She was not rude and certainly didn't offend me, but she was not necessarily excited that I was there. At first I was quick to judge her. I mean she should be glad I was there. I was buying her product and helping her business. Ultimately I was helping her have a job, right? All of this is true, but I stopped for a moment and just thought about how she felt. She had probably been there since very early, and probably did not get enough sleep. Maybe she had a crying baby to deal with all night. There could be many reasons why she was not ecstatic to be there that morning. 

It's really hard to put on someone else's shoes. I know how I feel, what I think, how I perceive things, and it's just easier to stay in that little world. This morning I was sent an article on why millenials are not coming to church. Millenials are kind of loosely defined, but it's generally accepted as those in their mid-30's down to older teens. I just read a Pew Research Center's study that Millenials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest living generation. This huge generation is largely missing from the American church. Over 3,500 churches are closing each year. Half of all churches in the US did not add any new members to their church in the past two years. A big part of this is that millenials are just not going to church. 

We have a choice. We can look at this only through our perspective. We can blame them and our culture for getting more liberal and less godly with less values. We can blame a lack of commitment. We can murmur under our breath about this new generation that doesn't care about anything. Do any of these options sound like productive ones? 

It's time to try on someone else's shoes. 

I know it's uncomfortable. We like our old sneakers that might be falling apart but feel so good. It's time that we consider how others feel. It's time we consider how others see life through their eyes. It's what Jesus did. 

Jesus said, "Hey, Zaccheus, I'm coming to your house. I hope you've got the crock pot going because I'm starving." 

Jesus sat down at Matthew's dining room table and ate with tax collectors and "sinners." 

Jesus shared a glass of water with a Samaritan woman at a well discussing life...and her life. 

Jesus stopped and defended and befriended a young lady caught in a terrible sin. He encouraged to try a different way of life. 

He was not so consumed so much with his own life and his own agenda to not consider that others may think and feel differently. He wanted to know what people thought and why they thought the way they did. One of the things I read in this article about millenials is that they want a voice. They want the older people, which apparently I'm a part of, to listen to them, to allow them to have a voice. They want to be valued. So what I'm hearing is that I have to try on their shoes. 

I don't really like their shoes. They are not my style. They don't fit right and they make me uncomfortable. But what's my goal as a Christian...to be comfortable or to love people? Give me a second...I'm thinking about it. I know...I should love people, but boy I really like to be comfortable, too. 

So maybe today just step out of your little bubble that's all about you, and think about someone else. It might be that little family in the restaurant you're in that's driving you crazy. It might be that young waitress or clerk. It might the young guy down the street who doesn't keep his yard as neat as yours. It might be those pesky young people at church who want new music and bring, gasp...coffee into the sanctuary at church. 

If we love them enough to try on their shoes we just might win them. 

I think it's worth a try. 


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