Billy's Blog
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June 29, 2016, 9:49 AM

Not Of This World

Our country has been fascinated by aliens for a long time. I'm sure you've heard of Area 51. It is a remote attachment of Edwards Air Force Base in Nevada located about 80 northwest of Las Vegas. Because of the secrecy of the base and its documents that are classified there are many conspiracy theories about what happens there including UFO sightings and alien activity. We are really fascinated about things that may be not of this planet. 

One of the difficult things about being a Christian is that Jesus said that his disciples are "not of the world." (John 17:14) This is difficult because this is the world we live in. We breathe the same oxygen everybody breathes, we have the same physical needs everyone does (clothes, food, shelter), we need jobs and money just like everyone else, we get married and have families just like everyone else, we have many of the same goals and dreams...but...we are not of this world. 

Jesus clarifies in John 17:15 when he says, "My prayer is not that you take them out of this world, but that you protect them from the evil one." In other words this is our home for now. We look like everyone else. We go to work like everyone else. We live in houses that look just like our neighbors, especially if you live in a suburban housing development. But when Jesus said you are not of this world it's a little like being an alien. Obviously we are not running around in little Martian man outfits, but Christians don't quite fit into the world. 

It's not about clothes or houses or jobs or any of this outward stuff, but it's about values, principles, beliefs and things like this. If you feel as if you don't quite fit in at your job or in your neighborhood it might be because you are truly following Christ. 

YOU MIGHT BE A LITTLE CRAZY

The great theologian, Billy Joel, said in one of his songs, "Well, it just might be a lunatic you're looking for." Paul said it like this in 2 Corinthians 5:13a, "If we are out of our mind, as some say, it is for God..." Some people may think you are crazy for how you live your life. If a young person decides to not have sex before they are married, because they are trying to be obedient to God, they are crazy. Why would anyone do this? You do this because you are in this world, but you are not OF this world. You are a spiritual alien. 

YOU MIGHT BE A LITTLE WEIRD

In 1 Peter 2:9 the King James Version says that we are a peculiar people. This word in English is usually understood as being weird or odd. Peculiar here is a lot like the word, holy. You are chosen, you are set apart, you are called to something specific, which is serving God and following Christ. This might make you a little weird in our world. You may have a set of values that make you a little strange. Remember that you are a spiritual alien in an evil world. 

YOU MIGHT NOT BE LIKED BY EVERYONE

This one really bothers people. We get the idea from somewhere that if we are nice and good people that everyone will like us. WRONG ANSWER! Jesus said that brother will betray brother and that we would be hated because he was hated. If they can find reasons to hate Jesus what chance do you think we have? Your values, beliefs, and convictions as a Christian will rub some people the wrong way. You will be called insensitive, a bigot, judgemental, hateful, phobic, and many more that I can't really repeat on a church website. 

In all of my years of teaching students especially in junior high and high school and even college, a consistent theme I've taught them is to do your thing and move on. You have to do what you know is right and move on. You want to be liked by everyone, who doesn't, but it's just not possible. You don't want to be weird, but some people will think you're weird. You don't want to be considered a freak or crazy, but some will think that no matter what you do. We had an amazing message from an amazing man last week at church. He's doing amazing things in the US and in Africa. He's beloved by many Christians and non-Christians alike. He's a former college basketball star. But much of his family thinks he's in a cult, and don't even want to hear about his church stuff. 

You do your thing. You live your life in obedience to God, love people, and just do the best you can. Remember, you are not of this world, so sometimes this world just won't get you!




June 23, 2016, 11:09 AM

A Great Way To Live

I was going through my Facebook page and I saw a post by a close friend of mine. His post simply said, "Romans 12:12-17. Try it." Well, I had to read it to see what he was getting at, and wow...it was really good advice. 

There's a lot packed into this little passage. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with each other. Share with people in need. Be hospitable. Bless people who curse you and persecute you. Don't seek revenge, but be careful to do what is right. 

What if we just did this? You know I get a lot of questions about the Bible. I get asked all kinds of questions about the rapture, is it real, and when will it happen? I get asked if Obama is the antiChrist. I get asked if people really have to go to church. (just a quick note, YES) I get asked if I believe all the things happening in the world are a sign of the end times. I get it...people have questions about deep theological issues. But maybe instead of seeking answers to things that we are curious about we decided to do what we understood to be right. 

Let's do the simple theology in Romans 12:12-17. Let's put aside our own selfish desires and just be happy for people that are happy instead of being jealous and envious of them. Let's be empathetic and try to mourn with those who are mourning. Let's decide to try and feel what others are feeling. 

Let's seek to live in harmony and peace with people instead of fighting and stirring up drama. There's enough drama and hurt that naturally comes out of life...let's not start stuff that is unnecessary. Let's take the high road and seek what leads to peace and restoration. 

How about we try to be generous with people in need? I know when we think about generosity we automatically think about money. But this is an attitude. This is about generosity with our time, our stuff, and our talents. I just saw a video the other day about a man who brings sandwiches to the homeless every night in Minneapolis. He has 17 refrigerators in his place where he stores all the food. He gets donations and has volunteers, and his generosity is more about time and effort than money. 

Let's be people that don't have to seek revenge and seek life to be fair for us. Sometimes we just need to let stuff go. I know that as Americans we are big on our rights. I get that. There are some rights we should fight for, but sometimes we just need to be willing to take one for the team. Let's be more about doing the right thing than protecting all of our rights.

Selfless, peaceful, generous, forgiving...what if you and I lived this way. We may not do it perfectly, but what if we decided that this was the kind of life we were going to live? 

My friend's post was very short and simple, but it packs quite a punch! 




June 7, 2016, 5:06 PM

Metamorphosis

Romans 12:1-2 is one of my favorite passages of the Bible. Romans 12:1 tells us that our lives are a living sacrifice to God. I just love this idea of our lives every day being a sacrifice to God. The next verse talks about renewing our mind so that our lives can be transformed. I was fascinated by this word, transformed, so I looked it up in the original Greek that the New Testament is written in. The original word for transformed is, metamorphoo. Does this sound familar to you? This is the root of our English word, metamorphosis. 

The Greek word, metamorphoo, means "changing form in keeping with the inner reality." It means that we are changing fro the inside out." What changes we see on the outside are the reality of what is changing on the inside. 

What we have to realize is that metamorphosis takes time. It takes time to go from a caterpillar to a butterfly and it takes time for us to experience our own transformation. When people become Christians they expect that everything will change right away. Sometimes we have the same expectations of other people. We have to realize for ourselves and for others that change takes time. When someone gives their life to God He begins to work on them...but it's not instant. The work of the Holy Spirit is called fruit. Fruit takes time to grow and blossom into what we see as ripe and mature. 

When Paul got saved he needed someone in his corner. When he was saved he was hated by his old friends, the Jews, and his new people, the Christians, both feared him and were very suspicious. Just a few days before he was on his way to Damascus to imprison them. Paul needed a man like Barnabas to stick up for him and be in his corner. Barnabas' very name demonstrated what kind of guy he was. His name meant, Son of Encouragment. For people to realize transformation in their lives they need someone in their corner helping them. They need a Barnabas in their life. 

I pray two things for you. I pray that your metamorphosis, your transformation, is progressing. Be patient with yourself. As long as you are moving in the right direction that's good news. I also pray that you are helping someone else in their transformation. I hope that you are being a Barnabas for someone...being in their corner and helping them. 




June 1, 2016, 1:45 PM

It's not easy being me

I used to laugh at the idea of someone having to go "find themselves." Ok, I admit that I still kind of laugh at the notion, although at least I'm aware now that I should not laugh at people...much. I just have never been able to put my finger on just what it means to "find myself." I can't say that I know any more about this than I did 20 years ago, but I have some ideas into what I think people are going through. This is not endorsed by any therapist or doctor, so take it for what it's worth. 

God created us. I hope you agree with this. If you do not agree I'm not real sure why you're reading this blog on this church website. He created us individually. We are not created as a group. We have unique DNA that makes us special and unique. The Bible says that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." The problem that some of us have with this truth is not that God created us...it's how he did it. We struggle to be happy with his creation. We are too short or too tall. We are too thick or too think. We have too much hair or not enough. We are too smart or not smart enough. We are too dark or too light. We wished we had different talents and we aren't all that happy with the ones we have. 

We are constantly trying to be someone we are not or wishing it so much that we might as well try it. We don't really like who we are so we try to be someone else. When people say, "I'm going to go try to find myself", I think it can be translated, "I'm not really happy with who I am and I hope to go find a new me." 

The apostle Paul was not happy with his life. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul pleaded with God on three separate occasions to remove this "thorn in his flesh." We don't know what this thorn was. Some scholars say it could have been poor eyesight due to the fact that he was blinded by God on the way to Damascus. Maybe it was some other physical ailment, since it was a thorn in the FLESH. Whatever it was God said, no. Here's what he told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

What was God telling him? God was telling him that this was his life. He was not going to change this for Paul. Paul was going to have to learn to deal with it, and not only could he deal with it but he could prosper. God's grace was enough for him, and in his weakness God could even shine. 

You may feel like Paul. You wish God would do something better in your life. You are not really happy with your life. You may want things to change. But what if God tells you, "my grace is enough for you, live your life." 

You are stuck with you...and it's great! I've spent so much wasted time worrying about fitting my life into a certain mold that I thought I needed to fit into. Just like you I've had a lot of voices in my life telling me how I should live and what I should be like. I have flaws. I have things I don't like about myself. But God made me this way for a reason. I can either lament it my whole life and be held back by things I can't control or I can move forward and live my life. 

I love what Paul says 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." God created me specifically for a calling that fits me. He's got great stuff prepared for me to do. I need to quit looking for myself and just look for what God's got for me to do. 

I may not really know what it is yet, but it's gotta be good!

 




May 27, 2016, 9:21 AM

The Value Of People

Think about what you do for a job, for your career. I want you to think about something for a few seconds. What is your greatest resource at your job? Maybe you are a builder, a teacher, an administrator, a nurse, a doctor or a financial person. You may think that your greatest resource is your education, your training, your tools, or your technology. But in reality your greatest resource is people. Nothing happens without people. 

I know that you may be thinking that people are also your biggest problem. Yes, without a doubt you are right. One pastor said that the church would be way easier to deal with it if it didn't have any people. The problem is the church is the PEOPLE. Without the people there is no church. The same is true of your job. If you are a nurse, it's great that you have years of education, training, and modern medical technology, but without people there's no job. You might have a great set of tools and a nice truck and a great trailer to haul everything, but if there's no people wanting to build houses you're out of a job. You can have the greatest, most beautiful store with the best inventory, but if no customers come in the door you don't have a store. 

Every once in a while I have just a few moments to reflect upon my life. This is something I just don't do enough. My mind has a difficult time slowing down and getting still. The other day one of my former elders in Louisiana passed away. We were very close when I lived in Louisiana. He was a great encouragement to me. His death caused me to reflect for a few moments spread through a few days. I began to think about what is really important in life. I began to think about what I really need to value and focus on. Again the answer was people...it always is. 

As I get busy with planning and programming and writing and studying...all important tasks...I need to remind myself that it's really all about people. As I stop and visit with an older couple I'm reminded that it's all about people. As I counsel with a young person having some difficult circumstances, I'm reminded that it's all about people. When someone is having a crisis in their marriage I'm reminded that it's all about people. When I see someone make a breakthrough or give their life to Christ, I'm reminded once again...it's all about people. 

My biggest source of aggravation and stress is people. I'm sure it's the same with you. But what would life be without them? Our families, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors...this is what life is all about. 

As you go to work today think about valuing what matters the most...PEOPLE! 


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