Billy's Blog
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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! 




May 4, 2016, 8:45 AM

Verse Of The Day

I have a Bible app on my phone that gives me a verse of the day. Today's verse is a powerful and life-changing verse if we will apply it to our lives. It's from Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord will all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

It's not hard to break this passage down and find life-application. 

Trust in the Lord

I preached a sermon this past week at our church about tithing. The main thing that keeps people from faithfully giving to God is a lack of trust in God. We're not sure he will take care of us so we make sure we take care of ourselves. If we are ever going to grow in our walk with God we've got to trust him. We've got to trust him enough to obey what he says. We've got to trust that he knows better than we do. 

Lean not on your own understanding

This goes perfectly with trust. When we don't trust God we trust ourselves and our own judgment...bad idea. Proverbs has another verse that goes well this. It's found in Proverbs 14:12, There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. There are many ideas and beliefs that seem really good on the surface, but once we go try them out we watch them fail. In everything in our life we need to seek God and his guidance, trusting that he knows better than we do. 

In all your ways submit to him

You can seek God's will. You can read the Bible. You can go to church and listen intently to the sermons. But if you don't submit your will to God's will nothing will ever change. It's a word we really don't like...surrender. We must surrender our will to God's. Paul describes it in Galatians 2:20 as being "crucified with Christ...I no longer live but Christ lives in me." This is exactly what Jesus did when he prayed in the Garden that this cup or mission could pass from him. The human side of Jesus did not want to go through with all of it, but he ultimately surrendered to God and said, "not my will but yours." There is some powerful change that can happen in our lives if we'll submit, but it's easier said than done. 

He will make your paths straight

All throughout Scripture there is a theme...obedience to God brings blessings. If you will trust God more than yourself and submit your will to his your life will be blessed. 

I get to talk to people all the time that are struggling with this. They come to me about their marriage, or their relationship with their kids, or their own personal battles. The advice I give over and over again is you've got to do things God's way. I have the same struggle. We are pretty high on our own intelligence and our own problem-solving skills. But ultimately if we live life our way it's going to end up disaster. 

God has always shown us both choices...serve him or serve ourselves. He's also clearly shown the consequences and rewards of both choices. I really hope you take this passage above seriously and try to live this way. If you do your life will never be the same...and that's a good thing!


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