Billy's Blog
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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

 




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.


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