Billy's Blog
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February 17, 2015, 1:31 PM

Look At What God Has Done

In Luke chapter fourteen Jesus is instructing the people on the importance of counting the cost. He uses the example of building a tower. Before you build a tower you want to count the cost of building so you don't look like a big dummy when you run out of money and there's a half-finished tower sitting there. 

I used to attend a church conference in Tulsa. On our drive from Louisiana to Oklahoma in a little town in Texas there was a huge sign that said, "Look what the Lord has done!", on the side of the road.  Behind the sign there was a half-finished church building. It had been sitting there so long the framing lumber had turned gray. We joked for several years about these people "blaming God" for not finishing their building..."look what God did!"

God gets a lot of blame and not much credit. Whenever there is tragedy many people ask, "Where is God? Why isn't God doing anything?" I remember when the planes took down the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, so many people were blaming God. People are looking for a reason, looking for a scapegoat...and it was God. 

Do you know why those towers fell on that day? It's because evil people hijacked those two planes and flew them right into the towers. We live in a fallen world where evil exists and it reared it's ugly head that day in a big way. 

From the time Adam and Eve decided they'd rather obey a snake rather than God, God has been pursuing us. God has been reaching out to us. He's been trying to get our attention. 

He used Noah to preach for 100 years. He used Abraham to creation a nation of people. He used Moses to establish a law and bring us back to Him. He gave kings to the nation of Israel. He gave us prophets. He gave us written words. He gave us John the Baptist to prepare the way, and ultimately he gave us his only child, Jesus Christ.

While I would not blame any one person for all the evil and disease and sorrow in the world, ultimately it is the fault of the human race that we suffer and bad things happen. God created a perfect existence for us and we rejected it. When I say WE I mean mankind. I'm not saying that your sin caused cancer or caused a tragedy or caused something terrible to happen to anyone, but mankind's rejection of God has helped create this messy life we live. 

Before we begin to blame God and say, "look what God has done", consider a couple of things:

1. What's your part in messing up your life?

A lot of my issues in life have nothing to do with God punishing me or God doing something to me. Most of my issues in my life have been created by me. I have made bad decisions. I have done some dumb things. I have allowed sin to creep into my life and I've suffered the consequences. 

2. Think about what God HAS DONE for me

If I can think of nothing else I can thank God for LIFE. He let's me wake up every day and live. I get to breathe in and out. But if we are believers we know that there's MUCH more. He's given me a family...a great wife and great kids. He's given me a way to support my family through my work. He gave me believing parents. He has given me a home. He has given me a great church family. He has given me friends. Most importantly, he has given me a chance at salvation through his Son. That cost God everything...to give me salvation it cost God his only child. 

Remember that church building in Texas I told you about. Well, that last time I drove by it was finished. So maybe God did a little more than we thought He did. That might just be a good lesson for life. 

 




February 11, 2015, 10:15 AM

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


I had a really long day this week that both drained me and inspired me. I spent the morning in a leadership class, then I went to a meeting with a hospice group. Then I spent a considerable amount of time that day with a grieving family. At the end of the day I studied with a young man who wanted to give his life to God.
I was both emotionally and mentally drained and yet full of joy over someone deciding to give their life to God. Life is like this day I had. It's full of good stuff...successes, victories, and unexpected blessings. But it's also full of failure, loss, and unexpected difficulties. Life is full of the good, bad, and even the ugly. What we must learn to do is praise God in all of it.
One of my favorite songs is Blessed Be Your Name. The song describes the good and the bad in life...the dark times and great times, but in it all we say is, blessed be Your name. We praise God in all of it. This is a choice we all must make. Much of what we go through is not our choice. But our reaction to it, our attitude, is 100% our choice. I've heard it said that when difficult things happen we can get bitter or better. Why not choose better?




February 3, 2015, 10:00 AM

Simple Truth

Years ago debates were really popular among churches. The people would gather and the two preachers from two different churches would hammer out a theological discussion. It was usually far more explosive than a discussion but you get the point. I have watched a couple of these debates on baptism and I just get lost. The theology gets so wordy and complicated that I can't keep up.
How about this?
This Sunday morning I'm going to present a clear and simple message on baptism. I'm just going to share Bible verses. My job is to clearly and simply present truth. Your job is to listen and decide whether to believe and obey or not. You have no obligation to agree with me or our local church, but you do have an obligation to be obedient to God. I pray that all of our hearts and minds will remain open to God and His Word. Only through Him will we find salvation.




January 28, 2015, 11:00 AM

New Life

When you're struggling with having no hope it's a terrible place. I was visiting with someone the other day who has struggled with depression. I asked them what it was like. He said it was a feeling of hopelessness...like things can't or won't get better. This is why many who struggle with depression continue to go deeper and deeper into it. There's no hope...so why even try?

I was speaking to another friend about someone who was looking for a job. In my mind I was thinking that they should have no problem finding a job. Just north of us in the state of Iowa they announced that the unemployment rate was around four percent. This means that pretty much everyone who wants a job has a job. Then the next day I heard about a job fair they were having to almost beg people to take these jobs. How can anyone be struggling to find a good job? Partly it's because people have given up hope in themselves. They don't see themselves as being someone any good company would want to hire. There's no hope so why even try to get a good job?

One of the core messages of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is new life...HOPE! One of the greatest things the Gospel does to people is breathe new life into them. Romans 6:1-4 talks about being set free from sin and gives us this statement in verse four..."through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."

What a great message! No matter what you've gone through. No matter how bad you feel about yourself. No matter how much hopelessness you feel right this moment...you can have new life. New life can be breathed into you. 

The only source of this new life is God. Positive thinking is great, but the only source of positive thinking is God. Feeling good about yourself is great, but the only source of anything good is God. Making positive changes in your life is a great step, but real change only comes from God. 

This week in my sermon at Lancaster Christian Church, I'm going to be talking about how we get this new life. If you can be there this Sunday for that, don't miss it! If you can't be at church for this message you can listen online at our website. 

I want people to know that no matter where they are right now, even in the darkest of your days, there is hope. There is a chance for new life. But no matter what I say, YOU have to believe that to be true. YOU have to be believe enough to take steps to help make it happen. God has given you the offer...now you have to accept it. 

There's hope!

Billy




January 19, 2015, 10:45 AM

The Gift

Christianity doesn't make sense. 

I know that's kind of a weird statement, but it really doesn't. It doesn't really jive with our humanistic way of thinking. Christianity teaches us that you are a sinner. You are separate from God. You must be brought back to Him. This makes sense. We can understand the idea of wronging someone and the need to be restored. The method of restoration is the kicker. We are taught in Ephesians 2:4-9 that our salvation, our restoration to God, is by none of our doing. We need to be restored to God, but there's nothing we can do to be restored. Huh? It doesn't make any sense. 

Restoration to God is a gift. We don't have what it takes to be restored to God. We have to one hundred percent rely on the grace and mercy of God revealed to us through Jesus. It doesn't make sense. We feel the need to DO SOMETHING. We feel the need to make it up. I once baptized a 60-something year old man who just could not believe that accepting Jesus in baptism would simply wash away 60 plus years of sinning. He told that it was just "too easy." I couldn't argue with him. I just told him he needed to trust God and be obedient to Him. He finally relented and just did it...still in disbelief that this was all would take to be right with God. Many Christians live every day with guilt and shame. They just haven't done enough. We read verses like Romans 8:1 which says, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." We can intellectually understand this message, but it's hard for us to truly accept it. 

We've sang the song, Jesus Paid It All, but we struggle with this truth. We feel like we must do more to be saved. We feel like we haven't done enough. We haven't done enough, we can't ever do enough, but that's okay. It's called a gift. We don't earn it. We don't deserve it. God in his amazing grace and mercy sent Jesus for us. Jesus is our gift. 

The only catch is will we accept the gift or not. That's the million dollar question. So many in the world know about Jesus but many never accept the gift. What have you done with this gift? Have you ignored the gift or have you accepted it and devoted your life to it? 

It's up to you what you do with Jesus. 

Have a great week,

Billy


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