Billy's Blog
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April 18, 2017, 9:39 AM

ALL IN...why do it any other way?

I have a lot of good and fun stories about life. None of my good stories involve halfway doing something...even if it's bad. If you're going to do something do it all the way...even if it's wrong. 

Life is too short to not go all in...and it's not what God has planned for us. 

In Matthew 23, Jesus is really frustrated with a group of people called Pharisees. These were supposedly religious leaders of their day, but they failed to go all in. Jesus told the people that these men didn't practice what they preach. He told the people that they were all about appearances...not sincerity. They loved to appear to be righteous by wearing the right clothes and acting the right way in public, but they weren't really righteous. Jesus said that they cleaned the outside of the cup, but the inside was dirty. He even went further to say they were like "white-washed tombs." They looked alive on the outside, but inside they were spiritually dead because of their hypocrisy. 

Hypocrisy is a form of not going all in. It's like God has part of your heart, but not all of it. God is a jealous God. This means that He's not really excited about sharing you with other gods. You know, the god of money, the god of work, the god of busyness, the god of self. He's not real excited about having you give him part of our life. 

The fact is giving a part of your heart to something, especially God, is no fun, anyway. You'll never know what you could really accomplish until you go all in. 

I can really identify with Moses. Moses was a nobody. He was some fugitive shepherd taking care of his father in law's sheep when God called him. He felt totally incapable of doing what God wanted him to do. He didn't want to be a part of this. This was such a huge risk. God was asking him to go to the Pharoah, basically the king of the Egyptians, and try to convince him to release the Hebrews and give up all this free labor. Moses just felt like he wasn't the guy. But God said go so he went. You know the rest of the story. Moses went all in and Pharoah ended up releasing the Hebrews. Sure, he came after them with his army, but then Moses parted the Red Sea...so another win. 

I know going all in is a risk. It's a risk to go all in and love someone. 

It's a risk to go all in and trust someone completely. 

It's a risk to go all in and go back to school. 

It's a risk to go all in and start a new career or make a move. 

But if you never just take the dive you'll never know what your life could be. 

Quit putting your toes in the water and go ahead and take the plunge! 




April 10, 2017, 7:11 PM

Church? Really? That's So 1985.

One of my favorite movies, and possibly the movie my wife and I enjoy the most together, is the Wedding Singer. One of the things I love about this Adam Sandler movie is that the movie is set in the 1980's. I was alive to see all ten years of this amazing decade. I don't think there's been any decade that's been more celebrated or more lamented. I am sure there are more documentaries about this decade than any other. 

It's also funny to see the ridiculous fashions of the 1980's. There's a guy wearing a Michael Jackson jacket...red leather with about 45 zippers on it. Of course there is big hair...gallons of hair spray were needed to keep that hair that big. There were rock stars wearing more make up than Tammy Fae Bakker. It was a ridiculous age. 

Maybe the idea of going to church should be put with the ridiculousness of the 80's fashion. 

As we gear up towards the Super Bowl Sunday for the church, Easter Sunday, a lot of people question whether we should bother with church at all. When I say church I mean the corporate, public gathering of the church body. Maybe we've outgrown this event and we should bury it. I mean nothing lasts forever, right? 

First of all, let me clarify something. As I told my youth group last night when we were discussing this, I am not trying to say church has to look exactly like it does today. I do not want to be a person who puts the method in the same place as the message. I told my youth that their generation might end up doing church much differently than my generation or several generations before me. I'm not all that concerned about the method. 

Secondly, the idea that you can worship anywhere is true. You can worship God in a bass boat as much as you can in church. This is not the point I have an issue with. What we are talking about is a group of believers gathering together. This should never stop. 

The purpose of the gathering is always relevant even when the style become irrelevant. Consider what the writer of Hebrews says about this. 

 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

1. The writer challenges the people on how they are going to hold onto their hope. 

This world and the things in it threaten our hope all the time. We see bad circumstances that don't change. We suffer things that we shouldn't have to suffer. We go through things that challenge our faith. We have to hold onto our hope or we have nothing. 

2. He challenges us to think about how we can help each other live the life. 

The idea of spurring something on has to do with correction and guidance. We need to find ways to help each other stay on the right path. There are so many wrong paths and they seem so good, but we all know that there are many paths that lead to destruction. 

3. The writer gives us an answer...don't stop gathering together. 

So here's this thing called, the church, being challenged to not give up gathering. While some may think that church services are something that might belong in 1985, this New Testament writer thinks otherwise. 

Church gatherings look different depending upon all kinds of things. 

A church in the Jamaican culture is going to look a lot different than a church planted in Taiwan. 

A church in a rural setting may look different than a church that is downtown. 

A church planted to reach bikers might look different than a church planted in a suburb. 

The methodology is not the point. The point is that you gather. The point is that you encourage and uplift other people. The point is that you worship together with other believers who are trying to live the same life you are trying to live. 

As a preacher I'm constantly inviting people to gather with us. The reason I do this is because I've seen the benefit of it. I've seen the encouragement and conviction and support that coming together gives people. I've also seen the spiritual level of people who are missing church services regularly...your walk with God suffers when you consistently miss these gatherings. 

As we gather for Easter churches all over America will be more full than they normally are. We usually have to have people in an overflow room downstairs to make enough room for everyone. I encourage you be one of those people. Will it make you a Christian if you go or make you not a Christian if you don't? I'm pretty sure the answer is NO. But will you be encouraged, uplifted and be more in a position to live a more full life for God? I think the answer is a resounding YES. 

I hope you can join other believers in celebrating the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ this Sunday. And don't stop there. Just keep going. We're open every Sunday here at LCC! 




April 4, 2017, 9:39 AM

The Foolishness Of Hope

There are things that people hold dear and find value in that I don't understand. There are people who refuse to get of rid things that their children will sell for a quarter when they pass away. I think it's kind of foolish what some people value, but the value to them is undoubtedly real. I walk through an antique store and just see worthless junk, but someone else will buy it for hundreds of dollars. What seems crazy to someone seems like a long-lost treasure to others. 

The cross was something that seemed to have no positive value. 

The Romans used the cross as a tool of torture, murder, and intimidation. They used the cross to intimidate anyone that felt tempted to go against them. It was a tool of state-ordered terror. The Romans crucified people by the hundreds to send a message not to mess with them or go against them. 

In 1 Corinthians chapter one Paul says that the cross was "foolishness to those who are perishing." (1 Cor. 1:18) This meant that it was really hard for people to buy into this cross being anything but a tool to kill someone. How could this cross bring salvation and hope to people? The memories of the Romans using the cross for terror was too fresh for some. 

So who did the cross impact? Who did it bring hope for? It brought hope to people that believed. This is the difference...faith. It takes faith to follow Jesus and to buy in to this hope. It seems foolish to many. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul writes that Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they can't see who Jesus really is. They can't see him as Savior. They can't see the hope that is in him. 

You may have been blinded for a while, too. You found some hope in other people. You found hope in money. You found hope in your job. For many this is true...until it's taken away. You think it's foolish to believe in the hope of the cross try believing the hope of anything else. Try finding hope in your retirement package until the bottom drops out of the market. Try finding hope in other people until they leave you for someone else. Try finding hope in your job until you're laid off. Now what? 

Hebrews 6:19 says that the hope we have in God is an anchor for the soul. An anchor is something solid that keeps us grounded while even the fiercest storm rages around us. Hope in the cross of Jesus might seem foolish. How can a big piece of wood used for murder and torture give me any hope? It's not really the object it was who was nailed to it. But it's even more than that. It's that the cross that Rome and some of the Jews were using to send a message couldn't really send the message they'd hope for. He arose three days later. The cross couldn't hold him. The message of the cross has forever changed. 

It might be foolishness to some, but it's salvation to all. 




March 29, 2017, 10:02 AM

Hope Is Our Greatest Gift

Despite all of the positive thinking gurus, and self-help books, and smiling preachers on television promising God's favor, sometimes life just stinks. It just does. Sometimes people make bad choices that make a lot of people suffer. People get cancer. Families split up. Children suffer with disease and sickness. There are wars and battles and casualties. There are financial, emotional, and mental breakdowns. It's just difficult. 

Paul describes some of his troubles in 2 Corinthians 11. Here's a glimpse of what he went through...beaten almost to death, stoned, shipwrecked three times, spent a night in the open sea, been in danger from rivers, bandits, Jews, Gentiles, in the city and country. He'd suffered from hunger and thirst, gone without sleep, he had been cold and naked, and suffered from the stress of working with churches. 

Why would Paul share all of this? Paul goes on in 2 Corinthians 12 to talk about some suffering he had gone through. God did not change all of it or fix all of it, but here's what God said to him. "My grace is sufficient for you." 

In other words, no matter what you go through you've got hope because of my grace. 

Through the grace of God we have hope through Jesus. Life is not perfect yet, we are still on planet Earth. This is an imperfect place with imperfect results. Romans 8:24 says that we don't hope for what we already have. We hope for something that is coming. 

If anyone has ever told you that when you become a follower of Christ your life will be an easy road with one success after another they were a recruiter and a liar not a true disciple of Jesus. Life is life. The Bible says it rains on the just and the unjust. There is no Christian bubble where anything bad or tragic avoids all believers. 

Here's the difference...we have hope in the middle of the mess. I have been given promises by God that are not conditional based upon how life goes. God is on my side no matter what goes on each day. I know that I have a home in heaven and no one can take that from me. Romans 8 reminds me that NOTHING can separate me from God's love. I cling to these promises. 

Hope is our greatest gift. It sustains us when we want to give up and give in. It keeps us going when the circumstances of life threaten our belief in it. Don't give up people...you have hope...even when it doesn't feel like it. 

 

 

 




March 23, 2017, 9:51 AM

You're Not Destined To Be A Caterpillar

My daughter loves to catch caterpillars. Although the caterpillars are kind of cute in their own right it's really not the caterpillar that she's after. She finds a jar, makes sure there is adequate ventilation and food and waits. She's waiting for something called, metamorphosis. The caterpillar is cute but she's more interested in what this little furry thing will become. She's waiting for the two weeks it takes for this thing to become a butterfly. I'm about as interested as she is..actually our whole family kind of gets into it. As I walk by this jar every day in my kitchen I'm anticipating this cocoon to pop open and for this butterfly to pop out ready to fly. It's one of life's little miracles. 

All of us start out as caterpillars, but we are destined for much more. 

I love the hope and anticipation that is found in Ephesians 2:10. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do.

You see that...these good works are prepared in advance for us to do. God anticipates that we will have this transformation and be ready to do good works that He has planned for us. God is acting in faith in us. He expects us to no longer be caterpillars just furry little things slithering in the grass. He expects us to be butterflies majestically flying around doing something much better. 

God believes this, but what about you? 

Sometimes we struggle to believe that we are anything but caterpillars. We can agree that others might be butterflies. We can believe that something great could happen for someone else, but not for us. Where does this skepticism, this lack of faith come from? It comes directly from Satan. 

Satan has no hope and he doesn't want you to have any, either. 

Today I learned that one of the boys I coached a few years ago in junior high basketball in Louisiana took his own life. It was a gut punch as I heard this news. This was a happy 8th grade boy at one time, full of life, a seemingly good and supportive family. But something happened. I have no idea what it was. I don't know any details yet, but I do know that he stopped believing his life was valuable. He believed he was destined to stay a caterpillar. Satan convinced him he had no hope and he gave up. 

Satan is a liar. The Bible says that lying is his native tongue. It's all he knows. Don't buy into the lies of Satan. 

God has a great life ahead of you. He's got some really cool stuff for you to do. He's got this metamorphosis planned for you. You are not destined to be a caterpillar. God wants you to be a majestic butterfly ready to take on whatever God has in store you. Believe the promises of God and live your life like you believe them. 


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