Billy's Blog
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April 9, 2015, 9:01 AM

The Choices We Make

There are choices that you and I make that dominate every other choice. Let me explain. 

If you decide to join the Army, for most of our history that has been a free choice. Once you have joined the Army and head off to boot camp your choices are now controlled. They tell you when to eat, what to eat, when to go to bed, when to go to the bathroom, where you going to live...you get the point. The initial choice was yours, but that initial choice dominates all your other choices. 

Several years ago country legend, George Jones, wrote a song called, Choices. He was talking about how his choices early in his life had influenced his life. One example was his choice to abuse alcohol. His choice to abuse alcohol controlled many other choices that he made. If you've ever struggled with alcohol you know how it is. That one bad choice leads to a lot of other bad choices. 

Serving God is a choice. Being a part of a church is a choice. God does not force himself on you, and the church doesn't either. (or shouldn't) You are free to choose to accept or reject God. But....when you choose God your choices are now dominated by His will...or should be. We really like to have it both ways. We want to choose God and all that he can do for us, but we don't want to submit to his will. 

In Galatians 2:20 Paul writes this, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Paul had a choice to whether he would serve God or not. But as a follower of Christ, he knew that he had given his life over to the lordship of Christ. He no longer called the shots...Christ did. His choices were directly influenced by God and his will. 

If you join the Army and think that you are going to call the shots you are going to have serious problems. It just doesn't work. There's a chain of command and you must follow it. There are no ifs ands or buts. 

There's a chain of command as a follower of Christ...He is God, you are not. It's really that simple. It's not easy, but it really is simple. 

I believe that serving God is the best choice you'll ever make. It really is Plan A...and there's really no Plan B. I know that many of you have tried Plans B, C, and/or D, and you've seen them fail miserably. I can tell you that my life has been incredibly blessed by serving God. I know that when I do things my way it just doesn't work out. 

No matter what I tell you about choosing God, it's still up to you. Just be warned. God takes over. He gets in your head and your heart and he rules. He doesn't like to share. He demands that your choices line up with his choices. He demands complete obedience. 

Choose God...but know what you are choosing. 

 

 




March 24, 2015, 5:32 PM

Bitter or Better?

There are very few things in life we can control. When you are young you think you can control most things. This is why we wonder why teens don't slow down after a classmate dies in a car wreck. They don't slow down, because they are in control of their lives...or so they think. It will never happen to them, because they are in control. As we get older we learn that we control very little. How can we control anything when we can't even control ourselves?

The one thing you can control is your attitude. The dictionary definition of attitude is: "Manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc, with regard to a person or a thing." In other words, attitude is how you view life. How you view life greatly influences how you behave and react. 

I think we all know now that you can't avoid suffering or difficult times. No matter how good we are, no matter how healthy we are, no matter how conscientious we are, we just can't avoid tough stuff. Most of our difficult times we just can't control or avoid. We don't choose these difficult times. What we can choose is our attitude. Will you allow difficult times to make you better or bitter?

Let me give you some advice. If you choose the bitter path you will be very lonely. Bitter and angry people are no fun to be around. Bitter and angry people push people away, because they are not happy. They are full of self-pity and self-absorption. If you choose bitterness you better be ready to be by yourself. It's how you'll end up. 

I really advice you to choose better. Better involves learning lessons from suffering, and becoming a better person. Better involves being a blessing to other people and being surrounded by people who love you. Better involves growing in your faith and having a deeper relationship with God. 

Two disciples of Jesus turned their back on him...Judas and Peter. Judas got bitter. He was so overwhelmed with sorrow for what he had done, he got so bitter that he decided to hang himself. His life never took a turn for a better. He died sad and lonely. 

Peter has a different story. He too was saddened to the point of bitter tears, but he didn't allow his heart to turn bitter. We read in John 21 where Jesus reinstates Peter and tells him to feed his sheep. He didn't allow this low point in his life, denying Jesus 3 times, to define the rest of his life. He used  it to become a better person. He used to inspire him to go all in for God. Church tradition tells us that Peter was martyred for his faith. He was hung upside down, because he did not consider himself worthy to be crucified as Jesus was. We might think this as a loss, but for Peter it was a great gain. He considered it an honor to suffer for the cause of Christ. 

He ended his life as better not bitter.

I hope that you will make the same choice. 




March 19, 2015, 8:58 AM

Just A Click Away

There are new words added to the dictionary every day. The English language continues to grow. Just a few years ago the word, "doh", was added to the dictionary. "Doh" is the word the fictional character, Homer Simpson, uses when something goes wrong or he's upset. I'm sure you feel so much smarter for knowing this. 

One of the newer words in the English language is, Google. I'm not sure if it's officially in the dictionary yet, but it's definitely a part of our culture. Just imagine you are hanging out with some friends and there comes up this obscure question, "Who's the drummer for the Flaming Lips?" While all of you wonder why anyone would even care someone says, "Hey, I'll Google it!" The answer is just a click and a few seconds away. (I just Googled it...it's Steven Drozd)

Isn't it great to have all of these answers so easily available. It's so nice that Google gets 3.5 billion searches a day...a day! We love to have answers. It's really nice to be able to settle arguments and curiosities in just a matter of seconds. But what happens when there are no answers to be had? What happens when we search and search and nothing happens? You know what it's like to watch that little circle on your computer just spin and spin and it just freezes up. 

There are times when God does not provide answers for the questions we have. 

One of the greatest examples of this is Job. We can try to easily wrap up the story of Job in two chapters. This seems to be all we ever read or teach or preach. It goes like this...Job is a great man, the greatest. Satan tells God that the only reason Job serves him is because his whole life has been charmed and blessed. God allows Satan to do anything to Job but kill him. Job suffers in a way that's unbelievable. His wife tells him to curse God and die, have some integrity. Job tells her that we need to be willing to accept bad from God as we also accept good. He doesn't sin in anything that he says. 

That's a nice little package. But the book of Job has 42 chapters in it, not two. 

Job is visited by his well-meaning friends who do nothing but make him more depressed. 

Job cries out to God about the unfairness of his life. He cries out to him about how this doesn't make sense. He whines and complains like any of us would...he even curses the very day he was born. God eventurally tells him to shut up. God tells him that he is God and Job is not. Job repents of this, and everything that he lost is restored and then some.

In all of these 42 chapters Job is never given any answers. God never sits him down and says, "Listen Job, here's why I did what I did. Let me give you some answers." God never does that. There is no explanation. 

God is not a search engine. He doesn't just give us all the answers. I believe God gives us the answers that we can handle, but much of what God does we can't understand. Isaiah wrote that God's ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts. If God tried to explain much of what he does we wouldn't be able to comprehend it. 

We may not have every answer that we search for about life, but we have enough answers to serve God. Just serve him and trust that he knows what he's doing. 

 

 




March 12, 2015, 5:30 PM

Just Be There

There's a lot to be said about being present...just being there. One of the things I have to do as a minister is be with people when things aren't going well. It might be a visit with them in the hospital. I always find it almost funny that I always ask, "How are you doing?" Isn't that a dumb question? Maybe I should say, "So, exactly how bad off are you?"

You see, the struggle I have is the need to say something. As a preacher I am supposed to have a message, but for some instances there just aren't words. As I preach through a series at church called, Tuff Stuff, I sometimes struggle to find the words to deal with the subject of suffering. What I've learned throughout my years of ministry, sometimes by making some dumb mistakes, is that it's best to just be there. 

You don't have to have the right words or words at all. I have heard people say some really hurtful things to someone who is suffering in an attempt to "help." There's a lot to be said by just being there. Ten years ago I lost my dad. One of my good friends called me and he just couldn't mumbled and stumbled on the phone. It was painfully obvious he had no idea what to say. I just let him off the hook by telling him I was glad that he called and I would talk to him later. 

What meant something to me was not the words that he said, but that he bothered to pick up the phone and call. 

One of our duties as a Christian is to bear each other's burdens. That doesn't mean that we always know what to say. That doesn't mean that we always know exactly what to do. It simply means that we are willing to be there. We are willing to shoulder some of the load are fellow family members are feeling and dealing with it at the time.

Just be there...sometimes that's just enough. 




March 2, 2015, 12:31 PM

What's A Half-Inch Anyway?

I love to read Joshua chapter one. The Lord is speaking directly to Joshua which had to be an amazing experience. God is preparing Joshua to take over for Moses as leader of Israel. I was reading recently about how many people that this was. The study I was doing said that there were about six million people led out of Egypt. Wow! Can you imagine being in leadership of six million people? Talk about a megachurch! So God is talking directly to Joshua and here is one of the things the Lord says to Joshua about sticking close to His Word and His Law..."do not turn from it to the right or to the left."

For a few years I was in the construction world as a blocklayer. We were very careful to lay the blocks just right. They had to be at the exact measurements on the blueprint. They had to be perfectly level in every way. We used lasers, tape measures, levels, and a string line to make sure everything was just right. 

In the grand scheme of things a half of an inch is no big deal, right? Let's say you are building a 50 foot wall. Each cinder block is eight inches long. If you are a half of an inch off at each block by the time you get down to the end of the wall you'll be off three feet, one inch. Wow! It didn't seem like much at first, but when you go for 50 feet it's a huge mistake!

When we stray from God's Word, even a half of an inch, we can get in big trouble in the long run. I do not claim to understand the Bible fully, or even have a good grasp on much of it, but I do my best to make sure my preaching lines up with Scripture. I want to make sure that I'm not leading anyone astray from what is right. Joshua had millions of people following him. He needed to make sure that he was not only speaking to them the right stuff, but also that he was living it the right way. 

When you are a leader, people do listen to what you say, but more importantly they watch what you DO. If your life doesn't match your message it won't be very effective. 

I hope that you are in the Word, studying it to learn how to live it. 

Even half an inch off can be a big deal. 

Billy

 


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