Billy's Blog
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March 29, 2016, 1:34 PM

Broken For Good?

Why try if there's no chance of change? I can remember years ago we were doing track bad field in PE. For some reason the PE teacher wanted me to try the hurdles. I don't know if you are familiar with me or if you are familiar with hurdles but we are not a good match. I am short with short legs. Hurdles are about waist high and meant to be leapt over by people with long legs and long bodies who can leap like a puma. I might have been called a few things in my high school days but "puma-like" is not one of them. I'm built more like a hedgehog. When I ran up to the hurdle I had a decision to make. If there is any hope of me actually surviving this I'll try it. As I approached the hurdle at a dead sprint reality hit me and I ran around it instead of over it. Why try something you know you'll fail at? 

Isn't this how many people feel about their brokenness? They are broken by abuse, addiction, divorce, and the harsh realities of imperfect life on earth. They don't know that there is any hope of change so they don't even try. They would love for things to be better but for generations they haven't seen any better options. 

One of my favorite accounts in the Bible is when Jesus meets a woman caught in adultery. She is caught red-handed. She is lined up to be stoned to death. She has braced herself for the inevitable. But Jesus asks her a question after challenging the people there to stone her. Jesus asks, "Who is left to condemn you?" She lifts her head and everyone is gone. "No one, sir." Jesus responds, "Neither do I. Now go and sin no more."

She had no dreams of any hope of survival or anything changing and then she looks up and her executioners are gone. There's hope. There's a second chance. Maybe life can be better. 

This is what Jesus does. He brings hope to the hopeless. He beings rest for the weary. He even brings life to the dead. Are you broken and hurting? You can find healing in Jesus. Without God many things are impossible, but with God all things are possible! 




March 23, 2016, 9:55 AM

What's the big deal about Easter?

Why make such a fuss over Easter? 

I know that many churches will not make a fuss. I know of one church that actually moves their worship service to another location to avoid visitors. I know that some very conservative churches avoid the word, Easter, at all because of the secular celebrations...eggs, bunnies, pastel colors, fertility...you know what I'm talking about. 

I guess the fuss isn't so much over the official secular holiday of Easter, but the fuss is over what it means to the church. 

Easter Sunday, also referred to as Resurrection Sunday, is a special day where we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is Super Bowl Sunday for the church. This is the biggest event in the history of Christianity. You could say the biggest event in the history of the world. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Jesus didn't rise from the dead that our preaching is futile and our faith is useless. So this is a huge thing to specifically celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. 

Another big reason we make a fuss over Easter is that people are thinking about coming to church. This may be the first time they've thought about coming to church in a LONG time. Maybe it's someone's first time to church EVER. I met a guy who's in his mid-30's a few weeks ago who had been to church for the first time ever. He'd been to weddings and funerals in church buildings, but he'd never been to a church service. That's a huge step for someone to take. 

At church on Sunday we talked about being good hosts...giving up our favorite seat, parking a little further away, being kind of guests...just practicing good hospitality. A person that comes to church for the first time ever or the first time in a long time might judge God by how we treat them. Do we appear to expect them and want them to be there, or do we appear to be annoyed by their presence? This is a big deal. 

I hope that Easter is a big deal for you. Of course, there is nothing wrong with Easter baskets, egg hunts, and pretty dresses, but I hope it's more than that to you. I hope that it's a time to set aside to really think about what the resurrection of Jesus really means. Maybe it's time for a reconnection to what's really important. Maybe it's a good excuse to get back to church. Maybe it's a great excuse to invite someone to come with you to church. Whatever it might be I hope it centers around Christ. 

Solomon said it best about God, "for without him who can eat or find enjoyment?" Ecclesiastes 2:25

It's so true! 

 




March 17, 2016, 9:25 AM

Enemy #1--Defeated!

Growing up in St. Helens, Oregon our biggest enemy was the Scappoose Indians. That was our rival. They dubbed our annual football game, The Seven-Mile War, because it was seven miles in between towns. The rivalry was pretty intense. We burned a tractor tire on their football field. They put a dead skunk on our bus. It was pretty crazy. When we would meet in football or basketball  either facility would be filled to capacity. At one league championship football game there were over 5,000 people there. At the time our towns had a combined population of about 11,000.  The stakes were high!

What if I told you that our greatest enemy has been conquered and you have nothing to fear? You might think it would ISIS or Al-Queda or maybe that a cure for cancer had been discovered. Our greatest enemy is death and there is a cure. Well, sort of. Unless Jesus comes back first we are all going to die. These bodies that we've been given have an expiration date. They are not meant to be around forever. But what if I told you that even when we die we don't lose if we have faith in Jesus. 

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

What's the message here? 

The message is that if you are a believer when you die you STILL WIN. Death doesn't win. When Jesus arose out of the grave he defeated enemy #1. I love that phrase in this passage...death has been swallowed up in victory. That word, victory, can be translated, conquest. A conquest is a victory over a massive enemy. I mean, this is David and Goliath kind of stuff. Our biggest fear, our biggest worry, our greatest source of anxiety and pain, has been defeated. So what now?

Well, read verse 58...the rest of the story. 

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Since this is settled, even in death we win, now go live your life. We are given four encouragements and commandments here in this verse:

1. Stand firm

2. Let nothing move you

3. Always give yourself fully to the work of God. 

4. Your labor is not in vain

In other words, now that your biggest enemy is defeated and that's settled, GO LIVE YOUR LIFE!

Give yourself fully to your life's work in service to God. 

Go be a great husband or wife. Go be a great parent. Go be a great boss. Go be a great employee. Go be a great neighbor. Serve God and others will all your heart. Live life without regrets and without reservations. Go all in. 

You've been set free from your greatest enemy. You don't have this worry hanging over your head. You aren't dealing with instability and insecurity about deaty anymore. So now you are free to live your life to the fullest right here. 

I believe Jesus said it best in John 10:10--The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 

Jesus has given you the opportunity to live life to the fullest. Now go do it!

 




February 17, 2016, 11:58 AM

Nothing To Lose

This morning I attended the funeral of a young man I have known for several years. I say young, he was 43, which certainly seems way too young to die. The minister said something that I don't think I've ever heard before. He disagreed with the thought that we lose our loved ones who are believers. He said when you lose something you don't know where it is. When a believer dies you know exactly where they are. 
I really like that mindset. 

For the next couple of weeks I'm preaching on the last days and the second coming of Jesus. In Matthew 24 Jesus directly addresses the topic of the signs of the times. As I read the chapter one overriding theme stuck out to me..."do not be alarmed."
In the middle of all of the warnings about persecution and distress and war and natural disaster Jesus simply says, "do not be alarmed." 
When our lives end we don't lose anything. We don't have anything to be scared of. We have nothing but good things coming our way. 

My friend died too early, as many of our loved ones have. But if we are believers in Jesus we don't lose anything. All we do is gain. 
I John 4:18 says that believers have nothing to be afraid of because fear has to do with punishment. Christqians can not only NOT fear the return of Jesus but we should ANTICIPATE it, because we know the one that's coming back to get us! In Jesus' words..." do not be alarmed."




February 9, 2016, 9:21 AM

The Gift of Letting Go

Forgiveness is a weird concept. We struggle with forgiveness because we have some warped views on it. Our mind does really strange thing with forgiveness. I've had a LOT of discussions with people who are struggling to forgive. The specific situations have been numerous, but the struggle has been common. Here's how the human mind struggles with forgiveness. 

We believe that people must pay for what they've done. We certainly believe in grace, mercy and kindness, but we are also strong believers in justice. We don't want to see people get away with things that they are guilty of doing. We've been wronged. We've been lied to, we've been cheated, we've been abused, we've been mistreated...fill in the blanks of how you've been wronged. We struggle to forgive these people who have wronged us, because forgiving them takes them off the hook. In our minds we conjure up the idea that if we forgive then we excuse their behavior. We are saying what they did is ok. This could not be further from the truth. 

In Ephesians chapter two Paul lays out very clearly how salvation works. In verse four through nine he lays out how God was merciful to us. He explains how grace works and how the incomparable love of God created a way for us to be forgiven. Through all of the mercy, grace and love our guilt is not simply ignored. In verse one through three Paul clearly states our guilt. 

Paul writes that we are, "dead in our trangessions and sins", "by nature objects of wrath", "disobedient"...our guilt is real. God doesn't forgive us because are "let off the hook", he forgives us because we are in desperate need of it. He forgives us because he desires a relationship with us. 

When you forgive you are moving on, letting go, and setting yourself free. When you hold onto hate, loathing, and revenge you are the one that is suffering. Your unwillingness to forgive is hurting the person you won't forgive way less than it's hurting you. Sometimes the object of your unforgiveness may not even be aware of how you feel. They may go to bed and sleep like a baby every night while you toss and turn with hate in your heart. 

I know that one little blog post won't heal your heart. I know that some of the wrongs that have been done against you are vile and hateful and have been a huge burden on your heart. But the sooner you are able to forgive and move on the quicker your healing will begin. Let God handle that other person. He knows what he's doing. 


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