Billy's Blog
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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. 

 

 




November 9, 2016, 1:59 PM

The Certainty of Uncertainy

They say there are two things that are certain in life; death and taxes. I want to add some more things that are certain in life. If you wash your car it will rain. You will lose your remote today. Things in the crisper drawer in your fridge don't get crispier. There other certainties but I'll spare you. However, it is true that most things are uncertain. 

We just had one of the most shocking presidential races of all time. Our next president will be a man that's never held a political office. I don't even think he was in student council in high school. Life is uncertain. 

What will happen in the next four years? I have hope that things will get better, but I really don't know. Do you we ever really know what someone in office will do? Usually not. How do we handle all of this uncertainty? 

We face it in life everyday. Will our car start? Will our kids get on the bus on time? Will the company I work for stay in business? How will that doctor's appointment come out? How will my blood work be? The list of uncertainties goes on and on and on. How do we handle it and not go crazy? 

In Hebrews 6 the writer is talking about the promise God made Abraham.  God promised Abraham at age 75 that he would make him a great nation. To be a great nation you need descendents...Abraham was childless. Abraham gave up everything to chase this dream that God had promised and yet it didn't come true for 25 years. Abraham was 100 and his wife Sarah was 90 when they finally had their promised child. Even in the midst of uncertainty there was certainty. Here's what Hebrews says about this,  God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:18-20

The point is that we have an anchor, a position of certainy in uncertain times...God. God never lies. God keeps his promises. Even though Abraham waffled and doubted God came through for him. Life on earth is uncertain. We wake up everyday not really knowing if we'll even make it through the day. Things happen every day that shake us and remind us of the uncertainty of our life on earth. 

Our certainty is found in God. He is our anchor in the middle of the storm. Death and taxes might seem to be certain thing, but why not add God to that list. He is in control of those things, too. 




November 2, 2016, 4:54 PM

Worry...let's stop the insanity!

One defintion of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Let's say you decide to bang your head on a brick wall. You will discover that this hurts. You aren't convinced so you do it a second time. You find out that there's a pattern here. When you headbutt the brick wall there's a thing called pain that wraps itself around your head. If you do it the third time and expect it not to hurt you are insane. 

When I worry it can be labeled as insanity. When I worry nothing changes. Then I try it again. I worry and nothing changes. Well, I might as well try it again. I worry and guess what...nothing changes. It's insanity. 

Jesus said it like this in Matthew 6:27, "Can any of you by worring add a single hour to your life?" In other words, worrying adds no positive changes to your life. Let me just give you a real-life example from my own life. 

My wife had a surgery. She was going to be without work for six to eight weeks...and of course it ended up being eight...Murphy's Law. I worried for a long time about it, but nothing was changing. I sat down with my wife and we decided that we would give it to God and not worry about it. The worrying for weeks didn't change anything, but the trust sure did. We ended up with enough money to pay all of our bills plus some. Money came in from different areas and God really blessed us. The worry didn't do anything but give us headaches and stress, but the trust in God was rewarded by Him. 

So another time of worry set in. We had a couple of bills come in that were larger than normal. I instantly went into panic mode. I began to worry. My stress level and blood pressure went way up. What did it change? Well, it did change my blood pressure numbers but that was it. My wife was the one that spoke some sense into me this time. She reminded me what I had reminded her of several weeks before...God would take care of us and He did. 

This is more of what Jesus said in Matthew 6...So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:31-33

Worrying isn't helping you and it sure isn't helping me. So why don't we just agree to stop it. It's not changing anything but our stress level and it's just doing us no good. How about we just decide to trust God. Notice that word, decide. It's not natural to trust God. It's natural to worry, fret, stress, and freak out when something is out of our control. If we want something better in life we have to do what is unnatural to us. If we want a different result in our life we can't keep doing the same thing and expecting something different. Remember...that's called insanity! 




October 26, 2016, 3:45 PM

More Than Bible Study

I lead a small group that meets in our home every other week. I started it with the idea that I could help a group of people become closer to God and know their Bible better. These are two great things. These are good goals. But when you put a group of people together you never know what will happen. If people are anything they are unpredictable. Just like ole Forrest said they are like a box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get. 

At times I've found myself a bit frustrated about our group. I really wanted to teach them some really important things. We start at 7...well, that's the goal. By the time everyone rolls in we usually start 15-20 minutes late. We eat and talk. People bring their kids so they feed their kids, then sit down to eat, and by the time we get done eating and talking and get down to some actual Bible study. I look at the clock and it's after 8 pm. I want to get done by 8:30 so people can get their kids to bed. Ugh. Then I began to think about this. Maybe this group is much more than a Bible study. 

I watch people interact and share their lives. Moms sharing with moms, dads with dads. I listen to people laugh and carry on and hold each others' babies. We show each other dumb YouTube videos and share funny stories. I'm beginning to see that this group is way more than a Bible study. In some ways it's a support group. It's not for anything specific like drugs or alcohol or divorce, but it's just a support group for life. We do some Bible study, but recently I've just been encouraging them to share what's on their mind...Bible questions, life questions, whatever. That's been really good. 

Do they need to understand the Bible better? Absolutely. But maybe we are doing more Bible study than I give us credit for. We may not be always reading the Bible verse by verse but by the fellowship, the breaking of bread, the prayer and the sharing we are living out the Bible. What I see happening is a lot like what I see the early church doing in Acts chapter two. I see unity, I see fellowship, I see support, I see outreach, I see prayer...it's good stuff. 

What I had in mind hasn't really happened, but what has happened is so much better. What we intend to happen doesn't always happen...sometimes God does something way better. So if things aren't going quite as planned take a step back and try to see where God is working. 




October 19, 2016, 3:55 PM

How Do We Know It's A Win?

Last night I got the pleasure of opening my home up to a Cubs fan so they could watch the game and the Cubs lost. Good times, good times. A win is very easy to define in baseball. There's something called a final score. Last night the final score was 6-0 in favor of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The scoring in baseball is called, runs, and whoever has the most wins the game. The same is true in basketball and football with points and in hockey with goals. In golf it's a little different, because the lowest score wins. When you play Monopoly you count up your assets...money and properties...and you know you've won if you have the most. In racing...car, horse, human...it's whoever gets to the finish line first that wins. It's all pretty clear-cut. 

But how do you know you are winning at life? 

Maybe it's the one with the most toys. Maybe it's the person who has the larger number in their bank account. Maybe it's the person who owns the most land. Maybe it's the best looking person or the most famous. Maybe it's the person with the most power or the highest political office. 

At youth group we've gone through a series of videos called, I Am Second. These are video testimonials by many famous people. Some are Olympic athletes, professional athletes, coaches, actors and actresses, musicians, fighters, models, and other more common people. There seems to be a pattern in most every video I've watched and I've watched several. First of all, there's the attempt at winning. They want to be successful, they want to be happy, so they pursue what they think will make them happy. Many of these people on these videos have acheived amazing levels of sucess. There are gold medals, big record deals, championships, TONS of money and fame...these people became a big deal. Secondly, they found out that they were unhappy. The lure of all the earthly stuff, both clearly sinful and not, was too much. The promise of happiness was too much and they fell for it. They were miserable. They were discontent. They were depressed and sad. Thirdly, they found that when they gave their lives to God they were truly happy. Their relationship with God brought them peace. They felt a sense of joy that they never had. 

A win in life is a little more mysterious. We have so many voices coming our way telling us what a win looks like. In baseball it's so simple, score more runs, in life it's just not this clear-cut. Well, it's not until you open up the Bible. 

In Ecclesiastes 2 Solomon goes on a journey to discover what a win is. This is what he writes in Ecclesiasts 2:1, "I said to myself, 'Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." What Solomon was saying was, "Let's discover what a win in life really looks like." So he attained everything you could imagine...women, alcohol, money, servants, bands...if you can think of it he got it. Then when he looked at his life he described his pursuit as a "chasing after the wind." (Eccl. 2:11)

Here is what he discovered a win really was. A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? (Eccl. 2:24-25)

Here is Billy's translation of what he discovered was a win. 

1. Enjoy the simple things in life. Be happy you have food and drink...enjoy it. Enjoy your work. Enjoy the people you are around. Enjoy your family, your friends, your neighbors. It's all about people anyway. 

2. Love and serve God. A relationship with God gives meaning and purpose to everything. You won't really enjoy anything in life for any amount of time if you don't have your relationship with God right. 

A win in life may appear to be a whole lot harder to define than a win in baseball. But when we stop to consider the wisdom of Solomon it's really not that tough. 

Go get a "W" today! 


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