Billy's Blog
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November 12, 2015, 3:20 PM

Turning Mountains Into Molehills

Do you have any dramatic people in your life? There are the kinds of people that can take something that is not a big deal and turn it into something larger than life. If you are married you have probably fought about something for an extended period of time that didn't amount to a hill of beans. You truly turned a molehill into a mountain. Maybe you actually said, NO, to a child of yours and they just couldn't handle it. This one little command is turned into a life-altering disgrace. But what if instead of turning molehills into mountains we turned mountains in molehills?

I was reading the other day and I came across this statement. It's from a book called, Making Disciples, by pastor Ralph Moore. Here is what he says about problems, "I promise you will have problems anytime you do anything of significance. Just get over it and get on with the job at hand. While problems do happen, they are just problems, not the core of ministry. But if you let them, problems can cause you to take your focus off the good and concentrate on failures and mistakes. Do this and you will miss the blessing of the Lord."

Now this quote is in a book written about ministry, discipleship, to be specific. But you can substitute whatever you want for the word, ministry. Substitute...business, family, marriage, school, sports...whatever you do in your life. If you are going to do anything of significance in your life you will have problems. Are you going to allow this problem in your life to become a mountain that is impossible to pass or are you going to deal with it as an expected part of life that just requires a little bit of effort?

I love this passage in Galatians. Paul assumes, from personal experience, that you will have problems. But he also assumes that it's not the end of the world. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Problems will come your way as you live your life and try to serve God. If you want to get anywhere, if you want to reap the harvest that God has in store for you, you can't give up when the problems come.

I think about hurdlers. Hurdlers have a set of problems in front of them called, hurdles. They must jump over them to finish the race and hopefully win. Can you imagine if a high school trackster stopped at every hurdle and started crying? They would not be long for the hurdles. A hurdler must realize that this hurdle is just part of the race. It's no big deal. It's just something I have to deal with to win. 

The same is true of our problems. They are just a part of the race and we have to get through them, over them, or around them to win the race. 

Make a molehill out of the mountains!




October 22, 2015, 9:43 AM

Choose The Best

I get a lot of questions about what people should do. I've got some pretty good questions from working with youth and from all ages, actually.  

Can I get a tattoo? 

Is it okay for me to fight in a war?

Is it a sin to get divorced?

Do I really have to go to church to be a Christian?

Will my pets go to heaven? (yes, I've been asked that)

Some of the these questions are really difficult, especially the one about pets. Dogs and cats maybe...snakes, rats, and lizards are out! When I answer some of these questions I take people to a passage in the Bible that is so important to me. This passage challenges us in our pursuit of truth. 

"I have the right to do anything,"you say--but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"--but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)

You have a lot of freedom to make choices. God gives us a lot of freedom. We are not bound by the law anymore, Christ fulfilled it on the cross. But we are bound by a greater law...the law of love. The law of love says that we make choices not just based on "what is allowed" but rather how can I show love to God and love to my fellow man. I want to do what is best for God, myself, and others. 

When I make decisions I don't just look to find whether what I'm considering will send me to Hell or not, but I consider what is the best thing to do. 

I love this kind of thinking. First of all, it's Christ-like. Jesus considered not just the law, but what was best in the moment. This got him in the trouble with the experts in the law, but he didn't care. Secondly, it takes away the idea of people controlling other people and forces people to consider what God wants them to do. 

Let me give you an example. I had a few young men who I had in my youth group for their junior high/high school years. Several of them were together somewhere and one of the young men called me and asked if it was okay to get a tattoo. If I want to just control them I just tell them it's wrong and they would be sinning and out of line to get a tattoo. I would love to tell them that, because my personal opinion is that tattoos are gross and permanent and usually regretted later in life. But I didn't want them to be controlled by my opinion. I told the young man my opinion, but I also told him to do what he thought was the best thing to do. I told him I did not believe that tattoos were a sin, but that he should seek to do the best thing...not just what was allowed. 

I don't even remember what they did, they probably got tattoos, but I was okay with that. I was okay as long as they sought to do the best thing in their lives. 

Sometimes it's easier for a preacher or spiritual leader just to try to control people and spew out his opinions and condemnation for going against them. But I love it when people seek to please God and serve him rather than seeking to please me. Sometimes I have the hard facts from the Bible, and sometimes I'm not sure how to answer. Regardless, I want people to always seek the best thing...not just what's allowed. 




October 6, 2015, 8:06 PM

Get Some Rest

There are two ways that people describe themselves all the time. The first one is, busy, and the second one is, tired. We are always tired. It might be a physical issue, an emotional issue, or mental fatigue, but so many of us are tired. 

In Matthew chapter eleven Jesus gives us an invitation. He invites us to get some rest.  Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."There are three different points in this invitation. First of all you have to realize where rest is. Secondly, you have to realize you need the rest. Thirdly, you must take the rest. 

The source of our rest is Jesus. This means doing something that we really don't like doing...giving up control. We must let him into our lives. We must realize that we need him. I do like some forms of independence. I like it when people are hard-working and want to provide for themselves. I like it when people want to finish something and don't want to take the help of others...a dogged determination to finish something they started. But this same dogged determination and independence can make us think we don't need ANYBODY, including God. 

We must determine that we need rest. I'm not necessarily talking about sleep, although we could all probably use more of that, but I'm talking about spiritual, emotional, and mental rest. Many of us are so weighed down by stress, anxiety and worry that we wear ourselves thin. We think the world depends on us and we try to make everything happen. I admit some stress is just about impossible to avoid, it's just a part of life. Sometimes we just need to admit that we don't have to solve every problem and fill every need. I was asked today by my chiropractor how I handled stress. I said I think I handle pretty well, but I'm really not sure. I would like to think that I'm doing just fine, but sometimes I'm really not sure. 

Thirdly, we must actually take the rest. We can believe in Jesus, and believe we should follow him, but if we aren't actually obedient to him than what good is it? We must take the rest that he gives us in exchange for our burdens. So what burdens you? What's stressing you out? What's got you worried? I love what Jesus says about worry, "Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" In other words, what good does it do you? What advantage does worry give you?

Let me ask you this. If you gave Jesus your burdens and took his rest and peace how different would your life be? How would it make you a better husband or wife? How would it make you a better parent? How would you behave differently at work or at school if you gave your burdens to Jesus and chose rest?

I know this isn't easy, but it sure would make our lives a lot simpler if we learned to be burdened less and rest more. The answer is simple...Jesus. 

He's the answer to about everything, isn't he?

 




September 29, 2015, 4:22 PM

To Judge Or Not To Judge

There are some cliches that seemed to get used a lot by religious people or by people referencing religion. Here are a few of them, and my own personal label for each one:

"God will not give you more than you can handle."--false

"I'm only human."--lame excuse

"I'm a spiritual person, but I'm not into church."--you're pants are on fire

"Don't judge me."--??

I get asked about judgment all the time. When I thought about this blog I read several passages on judging other people. I read Matthew 7:1-5, which most people quote verse one, but forget to read the rest of it. Verse one says, "Judge not, that you be not judged." I read John 7:24 that tells us not to judge by appearances but to judge with the right judgment. 

Other passages on judging challenge us in our hypocrisy. Romans 2:1-3, says that many times when we are judging others we are doing the very same thing that we are condemning. This is so true. 

James 4:11-12 compares unfair judgment to "speaking evil against one another". It sounds much like slander or gossip in this passage, which we know is definitely a sin. 

So what are we to conclude about judging others?

1. I do not believe it's strictly condemned.

We have to make judgments of people all the time. Will we help this person out financially? Will I pick up this person who needs a ride? Will I buy something from this person? Will I hire this person or not? We have to make judgments all the time. What we want to do is make judgments that are fair and based upon the information we have and not based upon what we THINK we know. 

2. It's clearly and strongly warned.

The problem with judging other people is that simply we aren't very good at it. We don't have all the information. We can't see their heart or their thoughts. We have our own biases and opinions that lead us astray. One big problem is that we are sinners, too. 

3. A good idea...mind your own business. 

What's the old saying, "People that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." I know that I've got enough problems of my own to worry about. I don't have the time nor the energy nor the holiness to go judging others for what they are doing or saying. I know how ugly slander and gossip sounds when I hear it from someone else, so I know it would sound really ugly coming out of my mouth, too. My house has enough dings and stratches on it, I don't really need to go over and try to fix my neighbor's house. 

When it comes to issues that we disagree on I love the passage in Romans 14. Romans chapter 14 is all about disagreements between people and judging each other. Paul is instructing the church in how to deal with issues that aren't necessarily right or wrong, just differences of opinion...even STRONG differences. Here's a great piece of advice he gives:

"So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves." Romans 14:22

In other words, the less said the better sometimes. 

Amen.

Have a great day,

Billy

 




September 24, 2015, 5:27 PM

Not Where We Want To Be...But It's Ok

When you are young you are asked many times, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" What was your answer? Fireman, policeman, nurse, professional athlete, actress? You might have responded by saying what your dad or mom did, because when you are little your parents are your heroes. They are larger than life. 

As you enter high school and your teenage years it may change a few times, and even in college the average person changes their major three to four times. We have dreams a long the way, sometimes they come true and some times they don't. As you are reading this has your life turned out so far like you have dreamed it would?

I would imagine that many of us are not working our dream job or our dream job is not quite what we expect it would be. The dream is becoming a lot more complicated than we thought. That dream person that you married has flaws that you never knew about. We always put our best foot forward when we are dating, and we don't quite reveal our full self. My wife thought I kept a neat and tidy vehicle all the time, freshly washed, vacuumed and Armor Oiled. It didn't take her long after we were married to see that this tidiness of mine was a big facade. I did that before every date to impress her. 

Maybe you aren't living in the town you'd dreamed of living. You had dreamt of a six bedoroom, 5 bathroom estate with a white picket fence, large manicured lawn, and paved driveway. But you find yourself still renting a house too small for your needs. You aren't driving your dream car, but rather a car that will haul your family. "Grocery getters" is what young people call them. 

So what do you do when life hasn't quite turned out like you want? How do you react when your dreams haven't come true and you are left with a reality that doesn't thrill you? 

1. It's ok to dream.

Don't allow unfulfilled dreams to stop you from dreaming. There are many examples of people who did great things after years and years of failing or not living up to expectations. God says in Proverbs 16:3 to commit our plans to Him and he will make them succeed. Another word for plans could be dreams. Keep committing your dreams to God. Keep pursuing them. Keep working hard. You don't have to give them up. 

2. Find contentment where you are.

1 Timothy 6:6 says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain." 

Contentment does not mean that you never want more or give up on dreams. Contentment is a mindset. Contentment means that I'm going to choose to be happy with what I have. If I never get any more I can be happy here. When I think of contentment I think of being able to look around and find joy in what I already have. If you aren't able to have sportscar anymore but have to drive a minivan it probably means that you have children. Isn't it a blessing to have children? Don't answer that too fast! Think about it. The other night I just looked at my daughter and smiled. She was over in the corner and just reading a book...so happy and content with the smallest things. Life is good. 

3. If God closes one door another one is about to open.

Ok, I know this sounds like a religous cliche that religious people say and think to make them feel better about their pathetic lives. I get that cynicism. But it really is true. I have seen it time and time again in my life. There have been dreams of mine that never quite came to be, because God has something better for me. One of my dreams was to play college baseball. I had always wanted this, but I realized at about 15-16 years old that this dream would probably not come true. I had a hard time making my local all-star team let alone play in college. My senior year in high school we had some really good players who had attracted some scouts. As "luck" would have it I got seen and had some really good games. I actually ended up getting offers to play for two small schools. It wasn't UCLA or Stanford or Oregon State, but they were colleges. My dream never really came about, because I felt the call of God to not attend either college and go train to be a preacher. Although I questioned God's purpose and plan throughout this process I'm so glad he did what he did. He closed one door and opened up a much better door. 

Maybe you aren't where you want to be in life. That's ok, hang in there. Maybe it's not time yet...your dream is still out there but the timing isn't good. Maybe your dream really is a nightmare and God has something much better for you around the corner. Maybe you just need to look around and enjoy what you have. Maybe you really have accomplished your dream but you just can't see it. 

Remember this...God is good all the time. All the time God is good. 

That's true all the time!

Have a great week,

Billy


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