Billy's Blog
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March 19, 2019, 9:10 AM

Ready to stand

I have been in front of a judge once in my life and it was terrifying. It was only for a traffic ticket and I was already warned what would happen. If I showed up in court and pled guilty then my fine would be reduced by half. I was 18 years old and I was so nervous. You might have thought I was standing trial for murder the way I looked. I sat there in the courtroom waiting for my name to be called. I finally heard my name, stood up to the stand, and pled guilty. It took all of about two minutes and I was done. Twenty six years later I still remember this like it was yesterday. 

In 1 Peter 4:5 it says that we will all give an account to God who judges the living and the dead. There will be no bribes, special treatment, or blackmail allowed. Your father is the judge but you won't get any favortism. The Bible says that God is is no respecter of persons which means he treats everyone the same. 

Here is the question...will you be ready to stand? 

You have two choices. Choice #1 is you can stand there on your own merit. You can show God your resume...your sins versus your good choices and see how that comes out. I don't know about you but this is a terrifying thought...ten times worse than my traffic ticket episode. I know my resume and it's not very flattering. I've done some good things, but every sinful thought, every sinful action and I have to explain them all to God and convince him that I should be allowed into thank you. 

Choice #2 is to give your life to Christ. The Bible says that Jesus is our mediator which means he's our defense attorney. When I go to heaven when I follow Jesus he will plead on my behalf. He will stand between God and myself and he will say, "he's with me"...and that's it. That sounds a lot better doesn't it? But I have to choose to follow Jesus. I have to submit my life to him. I can't be in control anymore. If I want to be in control of my life and be the boss I can do that but I better be ready to face God alone with my resume. 

Every choice that you and I make has consequences. Typically the choices that might be difficult in the short term are positive in the long term. If you need help with this choice I will do what I can to help you but ultimately it's up to you. 

Make sure you are ready to stand. 

February 27, 2019, 9:58 AM

A New Normal

How exactly do you define normal? 

I've got an idea. Usually when we say that something is normal it's something we do or it's something with which we agree. There are fads that I think are weird that teenagers think are perfectly normal. The other day I was wearing a pair of jeans that had a couple of worn spots that were starting to become holes. One teen came up to me and asked where I'd got my jeans. I told her that I had no idea because it's been years. This was weird to her, because now the fad is to buy jeans with holes in them. This is weird to me. Why would you buy a worn out pair of jeans as new and spend $50 and over for them? 

What is weird to me is normal to this teenager. 

What is normal in our culture is not what God is calling us to. Think about what is normal today. Divorce, abuse, addiction, piles of debt, dysfunction...this is not the normal we should accept in our lives. I love what Paul writes in Romans 6:1-7. Let's just read it and let it speak to us. 

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? We are therefore buried with him in baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was cruciified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:1-7

Ok, that's a lot of words , but here we go. 

Should we sin to get more grace? The answer is NO. You don't make yourself purposefully less lovable so that it takes more love for people to love you? That's just ridiculous. We don't go on sinning simply to test the grace and mercy of God. 

You've died to sin don't live in it any longer. Are you telling me that I'll never sin again once I'm a Christian. NO...John makes that very clear in 1 John 4. We will always battle sin, but Paul is talking about LIVING in sin. We have a new lifestyle. We don't have a lifestyle of sin anymore. We have a new normal in our lives. Our old normal might have been bitterness, but our new normal is forgiveness. Our old normal might have been cursing but new normal is lifting people up with our words. 

The old self was crucified, we have new life. The old normal was nailed to the cross when we got baptized. We don't have to live or think like we used to. We now are empowered by the Holy Spirit, the presence of Jesus, and we have the ability to create a new normal in our lives. Our old normal would have been to turn to alcohol or drugs or food or sex when life gets really stressful. Now we turn to God. We turn to prayer. We call another believer and talk about it. We are still tempted to go back to our old normal but our new normal is starting to take over. 

We are no longer slaves to sin. When I hear the word, slavery, I never have any good thoughts. I think of loss of freedom, punishment, no pay, no choice, and shackles. Sin is fun for a season but ultimately it leads us to slavery. It imprisons us with addiction or other forms of bondage. When we get saved we are set free to create a new normal for ourselves. No longer are we  enslaved in sin we are set free to live out our God given purpose. 

A new normal does not come overnight. If you have been living one way for 20, 30, 40 years you won't establish a new normal for your life in a week. But God is working in your life. The Bible speaks of fruit of the Spirit in Galatians chapter five. This speaks of the natural outcome of having Jesus in your life. Fruit doesn't appear the first week or month you plant a tree. It might not even seem like anything is happening but the seed is growing. Things are changing for the good. Growth is happening. 

Your new normal is coming. Be patient and help the seed grow. Water it and feed it with Bible reading, church attendance, prayer, and being with other believers. If you submit to your new normal it will come and it will change your life more than you could ever believe. 

February 22, 2019, 9:00 AM

What do you do with inspiration?

I imagine that throughout your life you've had times of inspiration. Maybe you were really inspired to get in shape. You might have been inspired to really get your finances in order. You had some goals and you were really excited about how your life was going to change. Maybe you were inspired to change careers. You really felt a calling to go in a different direction and you were so excited. I know that I've experienced moments of inspiration in my life. What we do with these moments of inspiration is what really matters. You might think of a time of inspiration that really had you fired up, but one month later you were doing the same old thing. Why is this? More importantly, how can we keep the moment of inspiration from dying on the vine? 

I'm going to give some simple advice that has really helped me. 

1. Write it down and review it. 

A fleeting moment of inspiration will remain fleeting if you don't write it down and review it. For example, I have gone to conferences where I've gotten a nugget of inspiration. When I've written it down, highlighted it, and then went home and reviewed it many times I moved forward with this nugget of inspiration. My brain is an eight lane interstate with all kinds of things going through it every day, and I need a reminder. Just having an inspirational thought won't do it. I need something concrete to go back and review and think about again. 

2. Include others in your inspiration

If you really want your inspiration to become reality you must bring others into it. Solomon shares a great nugget of wisdom in this area in Ecclesiastes chapter four. 

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

If you want to make a real, inspired change in your life you need others to help you. You need other people to help you ask you the tough questions about how you are doing. You need other people to pick you up when you're down and give you a swift kick in the behind when you're being lazy. We just need others. We are not strong enough on our own. 

3. You've got to take some action quickly

For me I know that if I procrastinate I don't really procrastinate...I cancel. If I don't take action on my inspiration quickly I don't change at all. Notice I said SOME action. If you have been inspired to make big changes in your personal life, your business, your church, or your family big changes don't happen quickly. BUT you've got to take some small action to keep the inspirational fire burning. 

Here's some a book on the subject, start listening to a podcast, start meeting with a friend, start making minor changes that you can do yourself without any help. A small action is a step in the right direction. 

I'm no leadership guru. I have not written books or spoke on large conferences. But these are simple things that have helped me move forward with inspirational moments. I could write a lot longer blog today on ways that I've failed to move forward with inspiration. Believe me I've got a PHD in failed inspirational moments. But through the years I've learned a few simple things that have helped me take real steps to real change. I hope this encourages you today. 

February 12, 2019, 9:08 AM

If you lose your life you will gain it

Zig Ziglar once said, "If you help people get what they want they will help you get whatever you need." 

Ziglar was a leadership and sales guru and was a Christian. He was trying to help people understand that if you serve others and add value to other people's lives you will achieve your own personal goals along the way. 

Everything is about serving people. 

If you want to be successful at whatever you want to be successful at you must learn this lesson. It's all about people. This kind of backwards thinking that Jesus introduced in Matthew 10 actually works. 

Jesus said, "If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it." Matthew 10:39 NLT

Some may say this almost sounds like the great Yoda from Star Wars. It's pretty backwards. Just imagine telling this to someone about their car keys. "If you cling to your car keys you will lose them, but if you give up your car keys you will find them." Well, that doesn't make any sense. It might not make sense with trying to find your car keys, but it makes sense when it comes to serving others. 

So let's say that you are trying to lead a group of people. You have a goal to reach with these people. If every meeting and every training is all about you telling them how they can make you successful how motivated do you think they'll be? Ultimately, you might be right, but it's not very good leadership. But let's say you bring them in and you establish methods to make them successful and to help them meet their goals. You help them see ways that they can make more money and be more successful in your company. You reach out and try to serve them. Their motivation level goes up, because you are talking about adding value to their lives. Now they will go out and be more successful in your company and will ultimately add value to your life...but you had to serve first. You had to give up your life to find it. 

When Jesus said that the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor, to serve anyone who needed served, he wasn't kidding. Jesus knew what he was talking about. If his church was going to grow and spread and get the truth out, people had to feel valued and loved. When you see the early church growing by thousands in the book of Acts one of the biggest causes of growth was people loving and serving others. People gave up houses and lands to make sure people had what they needed to live. People sold things and brought money to the apostles so that people could be taken care of and be successful. People were giving up their lives so that they could find it. 

This might sound a little backwards but it works. If it's not broken lets not fix it. 

February 5, 2019, 9:49 AM

Love Is A Verb

If you listen to Christian music at all you have probably heard of Toby Mac. You've also probably heard of the Newsboys. Their lead singer is Michael Tait. These two guys were part of a very successful group called, DC Talk. They sang a song called, Luv Is A Verb. The song basically said that love is not just some emotional feeling but it's something that you do. 

I was looking at church websites yesterday and I came across something I found interesting. Different churches have different focuses or ways they communicate what they do. One particular church said that they were about making church into a verb. In other words, they were not just a group that met together but they were active. They were trying to do what God wanted them to do...not just talk about it. 

Something that you hear a lot in politics is rhetoric. It's defined as "the art of persuasive speaking or writing." It's what politicans say to to get elected. They might mean it or they might not. As citizens we are more interested in what they are going to DO not just SAY they are going to do. 

Isn't the same true of us as the church? 

We might have good rhetoric. We stand for this. We are for this. Here's our mission statement, our purpose statement and our values. These things are important to have down, but what's more important is what we do. Love is a verb. It's something that we do not just something that we talk about or plan. 

Jesus made a powerful yet simple statement in John 14:15, "if you love me obey my commands." If you love me DO what I say. Don't just talk about how much you love me act like you love me. This is the great challenge isn't it? If we are going to talk the talk then we must walk the walk. So maybe that's your mission this week. Walk the walk. Today as you read this I want you to be encouraged and challenged to do what's right not just talk about it. 

Unlike most politicans let's have our rhetoric match our actions. 

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