Billy's Blog
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February 13, 2018, 8:54 AM

What are you planting?

I'm not much of a gardener. I love to eat what comes out of the garden but it's not much fun to take care of it. I know for some people they love it so much, and for some it's some kind of therapy. But it's not much for me. There is one thing that I do know about gardening. You get what you plant. If you plant beans you'll get beans. If you plant potatoes you'll get potatoes...there's no mystery there. 

So what are you planting? 

I'm not talking about potatoes or beans I'm talking about what you're planting around you everyday. The church in Corinth was getting distracted by following the men who were preaching to them. Some had found allegiance to Paul and others had found allegiance to Paul. Paul dealt with this immediately. He tells them in 1 Corinthians 3:5 that they were just "servants through whom you came to believe." Paul said that they had two jobs...they planted seeds and they watered seeds only God could cause any growth. Their job was to plant the Gospel and to work together to water those seeds that they planted through their preaching and teaching and their fellowship with the people. 

So what are we planting with people? One preacher told a story about planting seeds. He was in a restaurant eating his lunch. He noticed a young woman struggling with her toddler. She was trying so hard to keep her little guy under control but was struggling. As the preacher left he stopped and bent down and told her that she was doing a wonderful job with her son and that she was a really good mom. This young woman just broke down in tears and told him that she really needed that. He just walked out. 

He didn't have a Bible study. He didn't invite her to church. He didn't baptize her later that day. He simply planted a seed. You see we are not responsible for the seed's full growth. We are here to plant the seed. That day that preacher planted a seed of hope and encouragement in the life of that young woman. As I write this I'm wondering how I can plant the same thing in someone today that I encounter. How can I plant a seed of kindness, hope, encouragement or peace? 

Let me put it this way. Maybe we can give someone a Gospel nudge today. Let's say that we use a scale of -10 to 10. A minus 10 is an atheist with no interest in God and a 10 is a mature believer who is winning others to Christ. What if I can just nudge a person one notch? Let's say I encounter a person that's a -5. They are kind of in between an atheist and a person who believes. Maybe they want to believe but they just aren't sure. They have been through a lot in their life. Maybe through my seed I plant today they move an notch to a -4. That's my job in my life. Maybe someone else will water that seed and will move them to a -3 or even further, but I've done my job in their life. 

So how can you nudge someone today through a seed that you plant? How can God use you today to do that? If you're not sure just pray for that opportunity. I believe with no doubt that if you pray for opportunities God will give them to you. God move someone a notch today. 

February 8, 2018, 11:20 AM

Seeing MORE

When you look into a mirror what do you see? You see exactly what's there...nothing more, nothing less. I'm asking you to see a little more. 

The dictionary definition of potential is possible as opposed to actual. Or this one is pretty good...capable of being or becoming. It's more than what you see in the mirror. It's more than what is there right now, but it's about what could be. So how do we see what could be in someone or even ourselves? 

1. If you don't see potential in yourself you probably won't see it anyone else. 

When Jesus said, "love your neighbor as yourself", he knew that we must first be able to love ourselves before we can extend it to others. I believe the same is true of potential. If you do not see potential in your own life you will not see it in others. You have to believe that you are capable of becoming more. You have to believe that there is something more that what you see in the mirror. When we give up on ourselves we tend to give up on other people. You have much potential even when you can't see it. 

2. Jesus showed us how to see potential in others. 

When Jesus encountered the woman at the well in John chapter four there were some obvious things that everyone could see about her. She arrived at noon to get her water when most everyone else arrived in the cool of the morning. This was possible evidence that she did not want to be seen. She was a Samaritan woman...that was a strike all in itself. She had a man but she was not married to him. She had been married five times. These were obvious and they weren't great for her. But Jesus saw more. He refused to let the obvious things about her take away from the potential that he saw. He continued to talk to her, and the outcome was nothing short of miraculous. 

She went back into town and told all the Samaritans about Jesus. Remember these were not Jews. These people were regarded as dogs by the Jews. They were low-class irreligious people. They were so excited to hear about this man named Jesus that they begged him to stay two days and tell them more. Many of these people became believers, because of the testimony of this woman. What turned into some "accidental" meeting at a water well turned into a revival of sorts. 

Our job is not to judge whether someone has potential or not. Our job is to assume that they do. This is why we invite people to church. This is why we invest in people. We believe that they have potential. We don't know to what extent or if they'll ever reach their full potential, but that's not our role. Our role is simply to do our best to help them. 

Paul said in 1 Corinthians chapter three that our job is to plant seeds and water seeds and God causes the growth. Just do your job and let God do his. If we will do our part I just believe he will do his. 

January 30, 2018, 8:29 AM

Don't Believe In Yourself

When you Google the phrase, "believe in yourself", there are over 82 million results. There are inspirational quotes, many articles, lots of books for sale, and of course YouTube videos. There are is almost a limitless supply on things to inspire and help you to believe in yourself. But I'm not asking you to do that. Sometimes believing in ourselves can be a real stumbling block and even more disheartening. 

The problem with believing in ourselves is that we know that we are so severely flawed. We know that we have a long list of weaknesses and issues. If we are told to look inside ourselves and believe in ourselves we may not like what we see and we may be tempted to give up before we even start. 

I heard a preacher say this week that we don't have the Holy Spirit so that we can be better than other people. We have the Holy Spirit so that we can be better ourselves. We need something better than ourselves. So I'm not asking you to believe in yourself I'm asking you to believe in who God can help you become. 

When God called Moses, Moses did not believe in himself. God never asked him to. God simply wanted Moses to trust him and believe in Him. When God called Gideon to lead the people of Israel into battle Gideon absolutely did not believe in himself. God didn't ask him to. God asked Gideon to believe in Him. When the spies went into Canaan to see if they could take the land God did not ask them to believe in themselves. He wanted them to remember the promise that he had given them the land. Again...God wanted them to believe in Him, not necessarily themselves. 

When you are challenged to do better, to change your life, to grow in your faith, or to stop doing something our initial reaction is to look at ourselves. We look and see how WE can change ourselves. If we are trying to merely believe in ourselves we can easily give up...or never even start trying. Satan loves this. He wants you to take on the world by yourself. He wants you to merely believe in yourself and be discouraged by your own lack of strength. But look at what John writes in 1 John 4. 

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

The "them" that John is speaking about that they had overcome were false teachers trying to distract them and deceive them into believing false things. John says that they overcame because the one that is IN them is greater than the one who is IN THE WORLD. He's reminding them that they have the Holy Spirit. They have the presence of Jesus in their lives and he is stronger than anything that Satan will throw at them. He's not really asking them to believe in themselves, but he's asking them to believe in the one that lives in them. 

Believers live in the same world everyone else does. There is no "Christian bubble" that deflects all the problems of this world off of believers. Believers get cancer, believers die in car wrecks, believers have heart attacks, believers lose money in the stock market, believers have family issues...the Bible says it rains on the just and unjust. BUT...believers have something that unbelievers do not...the Holy Spirit. You have a life source inside of you that is stronger than any trial or temptation you may face. He is stronger than any doubt you may have. Because of him there is nothing you can't overcome or do. 

No...I'm not asking you to merely believe in yourself. I'm asking you to believe in the one that lives in you. That is truly something that you can believe in. 

January 23, 2018, 10:01 AM

The Risk of Investment

You hear about people who die and they find thousands of dollars hid in old coffee cans and under mattresses. The people were so afraid to invest their money that they hid it. They did not want to risk losing anything, and you could say that they didn't. But what if they invested? What if they had got a five percent return on their money for 30-40 years? That would have been quite a return, but there is a risk. They really did lose a lot. 

When you decide to invest in people you are taking a risk. You are risking that they'll reject you. You are risking that you'll get no return...they just won't respond to you. You are risking disappointment...they seem to be doing so well and then they crash and burn. I was a part of leading a recovery program several years ago, and there was such a high disappointment factor that it became a very difficult ministry. You would invest so much and see so much progress then there would a terrible crash and burn. You are tempted to decide that you will no longer invest in people. You will play it safe and just live a nice, quiet life and not bother people or be bothered by them. But Jesus asks us to do so much more. 

Jesus greatest commission to his disciples and to us is found in Matthew 28:18-20. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I was watching a video from well-known pastor and church planter, Francis Chan, and he was reminding pastors that their greatest calling is disciple-making. While pastors have a lot of duties...sermon-writing, studying, writing...our greatest mission is disciple-making. But...disciple-making is hard, and it's very risky. 

A buddy of mine who pastors  a church in Louisiana was asking a Bible study group a few weeks ago why they don't disciple people. It was silent for a while, because we both are not sure why we don't and we really don't want to admit that we don't. Finally one of the young ladies in the group said, "It's just really risky and expensive." She meant that you reach out and invest in people and spend lots of time and energy on them, and you are never really sure what will come of it. Basically what they came up with is that we do it anyway, because of two main factors. First of all, we are commanded to do this. This is not an option. Secondly, people are worth the risk. 

Why are people worth the risk? 

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that one person is worth it. That person has a soul. That one person has a God-given purpose that God needs to be fulfilled. That one person has potential that God wants to unleash. But it's not just about that one person. 

If we can help someone follow Jesus we aren't just impacting their life. What if they have a family? If we can help that one person follow Jesus then we are helping them be a better husband or wife. We are helping them be a better parent. Therefore we are helping their children. We are helping them be a better boss or employee. We are therefore having an impact at their workplace. We are helping them be a better neighbor, therefore we are helping their neighborhood and community. Your effort at disciple-making is like making a ripple that becomes a wave...the impact goes much further than just your relationship with that one person. 

So who is worth the risk in your life? Who is that person who just started following Jesus that needs someone to come alongside them and help them? Who is that person that needs your encouragement, your experience, and your friendship? 

Is it expensive? Yes. Is it risky? Yes. Is it easy? No. But it's worth it. It's worth it, because God gives every living thing value. It's worth it, because God valued you enough to send his one and only Son to die for your sins. Remember that he also died for that person that needs you. 

January 16, 2018, 4:17 PM

Throw it away

I sat down one day and watched Hoarders on TV. It did a couple of things for me. First of all, it made me feel really clean. I looked at my house and realized that we keep a really neat house compared to these people. Secondly, it also made me feel dirty. This one lady's house was so bad that she actually found skeletons of cats. Her house was so cluttered and messy that she had cats die in there and she didn't know it. NASTY! I look at those people and wonder why they won't throw away this stuff. Old magazines, old newspapers, broken stuff...just get rid of it. It's ruining your life! 

Yet I wonder what I'm unwilling to throw away in my own life. I'm not talking about broken furniture or unnecessary garage sale items. I mean things in my life that are slowing me down that I'm not willing to toss aside. The writer of Hebrews gives us a great challenge here. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

1. The great cloud of witnesses

What he is referring to is the people who are listed in Hebrews 11. These are heroes of the faith who have set a great and powerful example for all of us. When we see people who have not quit, who have overcomed great odds, and who have thrown away useless things in their life to chase better things...we can't help but be motivated. We need to be looking to people around us who can inspire us and encourage us in our lives. 

2. Thow it away

Anything that is entangling us or slowing us down needs to be put aside. Competitive male swimmers even shave their body hair to get rid of anything that might slow them down. They have taken their sport seriously and they want to win. How bad do you want to win in your life? What are you willing to give up to win? Sometimes we hold onto things just like hoarders do. They might be useless garbage, but we decide to hold onto them. It might be an addiction. It might be something that offers us security. It might be something that makes us feel better about ourselves, but is it something that is slowing you down? You really need to be honest with yourself about this. 

3. Let's go run the race

You've got a life to live. You've got things to do. You've got goals to meet. You've got a purpose to fulfill. You don't have time or energy to be wasting on things that need to be thrown off. You don't have time for worry or doubt or fear. You just done have the strength to keep holding a grudge. You need all your energy to do what God has called you to do. You've got a race to run and it requires all of your energy and all of our strength and focus. Get to running the race you've been called to run. 

4. Fix your eyes on Jesus

When you decide to throw off the unnecessary things and go run your race you will have obstacles and distractions. You will have conflict. You will have critics. You will have naysayers. You will have bad circumstances. You've got to fix your eyes on Jesus. You have to keep your eyes on him. You have to remain obedient to him even when it hurts like crazy. 

Jesus' mission was challenged many times. He even felt like giving up. He asked God if there was any other way for his mission to be fulfilled and God simply answered with silence. That silence meant, NO. Jesus had to throw off his personal, human feelings to complete the race that his Father had called him to. The same is true of you. If you are going to grow and become and the person God wants you to be you've got to be willing to throw some stuff away. 

You know what needs to go. You just need the courage to do it. 


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