Billy's Blog
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August 1, 2016, 11:45 AM

It's been a good day

Jim Valvano was the long time basketball coach of North Carolina State. His team won the 1983 national championship shocking the University of Houston who had two future NBA Hall of Famers on their roster, Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. They won the game on a buzzer beater putback by Dereck Whittenburg. 

In 1993, just eight weeks before he died of bone cancer, Valvano gave a speech at the ESPY awards, a sports award show put on by ESPN. In his speech he gave this quote, “To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think -- spend some time time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that's a heck of a day.” I've always loved this quote. It's such a simple thought but it is true. 

1. Laugh a little

Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." I've always enjoyed humor and I try to use it as much as possible. I had a man in one church I ministered to that said I was just big joke and I couldn't be taken seriously. This man was one of the most miserably negative people I've ever known. His crushed spirit had dried up his bones. We need to laugh a little more. We need to take ourselves a little less serious. We need to find some more cheer in our lives. I know there are moments to be serious and somber, and maturity is determining when humor is useful or not. Laugh at ourself. If you're like me there's plenty of material. Laugh at others. I know this may sound like strange advice, but it's ok. Laugh at life. There are some really funny things that happen. Even in the darkest of moments humor is there to lighten up the dark. 

2. Take time to think. 

In Psalms 46:10 David reminds us, "Be still and know that I am God..."

If you are anything like me you find it hard to be still. With the invention of the internet and social media it seems so hard to just be still and think. Sometimes the way I do this is with windshield time. I have an hour or 30 minutes to sit there in a car. I just turn off the radio and just let the quiet happen. I get distracted easily, but sometimes I just have really clear thoughts about life. I try to allow God to speak to me. I try to just think about what's most important right now. We need to stop and be still. We need this time. Part of the reason why there is such a thing as a mid-life crisis is people don't ever take the time to think. They just go, go, go and at age 40 they look back and wonder what they've accomplished. Stop and take the time to think about your life. 

3. Be moved

The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, "Jesus wept." I loved to quote this verse when I was in Bible camp. These two words reveal a lot about Jesus. Jesus had been called by Mary and Martha to come see their sick brother, Lazarus. Jesus had delayed. He did this because of the larger purpose of bringing glory to God. Mary and Martha did not understand this. They were all very close to Jesus and they believed if he would have come earlier he could have saved Lazarus. They were right, but Jesus had a plan. Jesus ended up resurrecting Lazarus, but the pain of his friends moved him to tears. 

Some are wired to be moved to tears easily, some not so much. But we should have our emotions stirred on a frequent basis. The other day while I was out at a youth camp in Colorado a young lady came up to me. I could not remember who she was. She told me and I immediately remembered her. She began to tell me that her grandpa's dying wish was that she be baptized by me. She said she was ready for this. I hugged her tight and we had a neat moment. This really stirred my emotions. We should be people that can have emotions stirred. We should not be so cynical about life that we are calloused to the things that should move us. 

So today, I know it's Monday and I know it's raining, but if you can laugh, think and cry it's been a pretty good day. 

Have a great Monday,

Billy




July 20, 2016, 9:13 AM

I Can't Save The World

Many young people have "pie in the sky" ideals about how life is going to go. They are going to be a lawyer and change the systerm and help people. They are going to become a doctor and save lives and change the world not be like the older, cynical doctors. They are going to become teachers and educate the world. They are going to go into politics and get rid of the corruption and the waste.  The list can go on and on. What many people figure out is that their ideal situation doesn't exist. Their lofty goals have a lot of obstacles in the way. They realize that the court system is way more complicated than they ever imagined. They realized that the hours it takes and the insurance regulations makes doctoring tough. They begin to realize that as a teacher it's not quite as simple and going in and teaching how you want to. They go to the state capitol and realize that if you don't stratch someone else's back yours won't be get stratched. So many people become cynical, angry, disillusioned, and even worse just go right in with the old, corrupt system and participate. 

How do we avoid this? Christians are told in Romans 12:21, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." As we read this we are also aware that our world is SO evil. Terrorism, police killings, rape, murder, child abuse...the list goes on and on and on. How can we save the world when he don't even feel safe in our own neighborhoods? How can we save the world when the problem is too big? 

Let me give you some hope that may not sound like hope...you can't save the world. 

When Jesus gave the Great Commission he said to, "go into all the world." Some people that are called to be foreign missionaries will stress this idea that we must go into all the world...meaning we must go overseas and win the globe. There are people called to do this, and I totally support this. But most of us are not called to ever leave where we live. Many Bible scholars believe that the word, go, can also be translated, "as you go." The world was very small in Jesus' day. The disciples went from town to town spreading the Gospel. We can't save the world, but we can make a difference in one small place. 

We can help change the culture of a neighborhood. We can help change the culture of a school. We can help change the culture of a workplace, a home, a church. 

I don't want to douse the enthusiasm of anyone who thinks they will do great things in their life. We need people with big dreams and big hopes and goals. The only thing I want to do is encourage them that they might not change the world, but they can make a BIG difference. I want to encourage them that it won't be easy, but anything worth doing isn't easy. I want to encourage them to not give up, because God rewards faithfulness. I want to encourage them that although there are many against them there are a few strong ones who will stand with them. 

I can't save the world, but I can save a few around me. Have you ever heard of Mordecai Ham? He was the preacher who led Billy Graham to Christ. Billy Graham has influenced thousands of people and propbably millions in America and around the world. Most of us aren't going to be Billy Grahams, but maybe we can be Mordecai Hams. We may not go out and be the face of a whole movement, but we can influence a person who might. 

Stay faithful, do it consistently, and God will reward your obedience. 




July 15, 2016, 9:40 AM

Don't be surprised

I got home late from camp last night and I was watching the news unfold about the horrible tragedy in Nice, France. A terrorist drove a truck into a huge crowd and it looks like right now the death toll has risen to 84 including women and children. As I watched the video that Fox News was showing I was just appalled and sickened by what I saw. These people were just out celebrating France's version of the 4th of July and they were mowed down. I don't know of any other way to put it. 

We are shocked and perplexed at this kind of evl, but the Bible says we shouldn't we. We should be saddened, horrified, angry, and appalled, but we shouldn't be surprised. Look at this passage in 1 Peter 4. 

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 1 Peter 4:12-14

We should not be surprised that there are a people that hate Christians. We should not be surprised that there is evil in this world and that people will suffer because of it. I don't like it. I want to fight it. I want to find ways to overcome, but we should be not be surprised that it's here.

I'm not sure where we got this from, but many of us think that if we are nice to people and treat them well that all people will like us. Jesus told his disciples that when people hated them to just remember that they hated him first. How could you hate Jesus? He healed the blind, the lame, and the mute. He healed people's children. He fed hungry people. He befriended the lonely. He reached out to the down and out. He always was accessible to people. He was a model human being...but he was hated. Why?

Christian values and morals and beliefs are hated by many. Our worldview, our belief in Jesus makes many people hate us. Our adherance to the Word of God, the Bible, makes people stand against us and call us bigots, hate-mongers, and judgmental prudes. If you are going to live as a Christian you are going to face opposition. Don't be surprised. 

Imagine this. A hurdler is running his race. He comes up to a hurdle and freezes. He is surprised by this obstacle, this thing in his way. He is overwhelmed and he just melts into a puddle of tears. He can't go on.  This would be pretty ridiculous wouldn't it? A hurdler understands that these things are just part of the race. He's not surprised by them, he expects them. He bounds over each one without even a thought about them. Our lives as believers in Jesus Christ is going to have obstacles. There are things that will be placed in front of us in hopes that we will trip and fall or even better yet cower and give up. We can't be surprised. We must acknowledge them and jump right over. 

This isn't heaven. This isn't a perfect world. People will hate you and mistreat you for unfair reasons. There will be evil things and evil people. Don't be surprised. Just keep living the life and try to make a dent in the evil around you. 

 




July 5, 2016, 10:19 AM

A New Project

I'm sure that you've tackled projects around your house. Landscaping, remodeling, gardens, additions...you've tackled them and while it at times was painful you nailed it and felt good afterwards. 

What if you took on a people project? 

There's a word in the Bible that we don't use very much in our every day English...it's EDIFY. One of the Greek words for edify is, oikodomeo, which is a construction term. It means "to build up." The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:12 that the purpose of all the various gifts of the spirit are all for edification, or building people up. So let's take on a people project. 

The world beats people down. Job said in Job 14:1, "Mortals, born of woman, are few of days and full of trouble." Now you have to understand Job's perspective at this time was a tad bit negative after losing pretty much everything, but overall he's right. Life is short and has a lot of trouble. Job layoffs, medical bills, family conflict, health issues, tragedy...they all affect us and beat us down. What if we took on a people project and just decided that we were going to try to build people up instead of assisting with their demolition? 

I have a young man in my life that I'm trying to figure out how to minister to. Actually, I'm pretty excited about it. He has talked to me about his questions about life and faith. I can tell that he's curious, but he has a lot of negative ideas about God and the church. I'm excited that he's asked me for answers, but I want to build him up. I don't want to tear him down just to win an argument. I want him to understand that God loves him. He doesn't even have to believe God exists to have God love him. He doesn't have to believe in the church for the church to minister to him. He doesn't even have to like me for me to care about him. This young man has probably never heard of the word, edify, but it's exactly what I want to do. 

So who's on your people project list? Who are you going to build up and edify? Who in your circle has been torn down a bit by life and needs some building up?

This person might be your spouse, your neighbor, a co-worker, a boss, or even someone you don't like. God may bring a name to your mind that you don't even want to mess with, but you know you need to. Just start praying about it. You may already have a project or projects already going. Be faithful to it. Understand that just like building a house nothing ever comes together quickly or easily. There are snags in the process. There are mistakes. There are delays. Just keep building and eventually you'll see something good. 

 




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!


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