Billy's Blog
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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. 




December 8, 2016, 3:01 PM

Embrace the Resistance

I did not like weightlifting in high school. I was not the strongest guy in the world, especially at bench press, and the guys loved max week. This was the week where you saw how much you could lift with one lift. It was pretty fun to watch other guys blowing their heads off their shoulders for that max weight, but I wasn't that much into it myself. But I did realize something about weightlifting...it made me better. It made me a little faster. It made my throwing arm much better, and it did make me stronger. I didn't like it the resistance of the weights is what I needed. If I had learned to embrace it more I might have been a lot stronger. 

Resistance is the key to our growth, but we don't like it. 

We want life to be easy. We don't want any pushback. We don't want anyone to disagree with us or challenge us. We don't want to face any difficulty. There's even a commercial from a nationwide office products company that invented an EASY button. Just push the button and it makes all of your tasks easy. As much as we'd like it to exist it doesn't. 

Many times we are despondent and depressed when life throws us some resistance. We can't see a point in it. We wonder why God would allow us to struggle. He has the power to take away all of our difficulties and struggles shouldn't he use that power to make our life easy. 

The apostle Paul was given this amazing vision. There are many different ideas on what the vision was, but since Paul was not one of the original apostles and didn't walk with Jesus like the 12 he might have been given special teaching. Whatever it was it was so amazing that God sent him a "thorn in the flesh" to keep him humble. This was thought to be some kind of physical ailment, possibly poor eyesight brought on by him being blinded on the road to Damascus. The specfiics of it don't really matter. Paul asked God on three different occasions to remove this from his life. It's what we would do. We would want this thorn to be removed. 

God clearly said, NO. The point of the thorn was to keep him from becoming conceited and to help Paul realize that he was still in desperate need of God and his grace. Paul had to learn to live with this ailment, because it was not going away. Paul actually kind of embraced when he wrote this, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power might rest on me." (1 Corinthians 12:9b)

Paul did not want the resistance of this ailment, but he realized he could either get discouraged or embrace it as part of his life. Resistance comes our way in the form of physical ailments, difficult circumstances, difficult people...the list goes on and on. They may seem to be pointless sometimes, but resistance makes us stronger. Some of the things you are facing in your life may be there for a specific purpose to make you stronger and prepare you for something greater. 

Moses was leading sheep when God called him to lead the people of Israel. 

David was serving the king but it was ulimately meant for David to be the king. 

Peter, James and John were fishing, but Jesus called them to be fishers of men. 

What are you going through right now that God may be using for preparation for something greater?

Maybe if we embraced a little resistance, just put our head down and plowed ahead, God might do something greater with our lives than we ever imagined he would. 

 

 




November 16, 2016, 4:03 PM

Think on these things...

What controls your words, your attitudes, and your actions? It's your thoughts that controls all of this. So the next question is what controls your thoughts? Why are your thoughts positive or negative? Why are your thoughts either pessimistic or optimistic? Why are thoughts considerate or selfish? 

It's all about what you put in your mind. 

Romans 12:2 says that our transformation begins in our mind. When our mind gets right the rest of our life will follow. This is a simple concept to understand but it can be hard to know how to make it become a reality. 

Philippians 4:8 gives us some great advice. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. You ever heard the statement, "Garbage in, garbage out"? This really applies here. 

I read Facebook every day. You could say it's part of my routine. I use Facebook a lot for promoting church events and keeping in contact with people both near and far away. I have a close friend that said he was going to get off of Facebook for a while because of all the negativity and complaining. What drives this? The garbage that we put into our minds controls this. My friend was worried that he would become negative, because of the negativity that he was reading. It's sad to me that a potentially positive tool can be hijacked by so much junk. 

How do we change this? How can we be a positive influence, encouraging others instead of tearing others down?

We have to be purposeful in what we put into our minds. 

The apostle Paul was challenging the church in Philippians chapter four to get along, to be joyful, to be thankful, to pray and to have peace. He knew that if the church was going to accomplish this their mindsets had to change. They had to be very purposeful about what they were putting into their minds. If we sit and listen to the gossip we will find ourselves participating in it, because our minds are filled with it. If we listen to hateful and judgmental conversations we will find ourselves being hateful and judgmental. So we must find ways to influence our thoughts in a positive way. 

Read your Bible. Get in it everyday. Influence your mind with God's Word. 

Listen to positive music. This doesn't have to be "Christian" music, just good music that fills your minds with good things. 

Read and listen to other good stuff. There are some great podcasts out there that you can listen to that will challenge your mind in good ways. 

Be purposeful about being around good people. You can't control who you are around 24/7, and God does want us to influence those who don't know Jesus. But we must choose carefully who our close friends are. We must choose to surround ourselves with good people who make us better. 

So as you go about your day think on these things. Be very purposeful to set your mind on things that are excellent and praiseworthy and admirable. If you commit to thinking on these kinds of things you just might become an excellent, praisworthy, and admirable person. 

 

 


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