Billy's Blog
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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!




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. 


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