Billy's Blog
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August 26, 2016, 9:57 AM

Embracing Unity

Chaos is everywhere! 

During my first mission trip to the Dominican Republic I was just shocked at the chaos on the roads. There didn't seem to be any lanes, any rules, people just drove wherever and whenever they wanted. It seemed like the only thing that controlled the chaos was their horn. People let you know where they were with their horn and this way you didn't crash into each other. I was so glad to get back to America where I thought the roads were chaotic, but were much more peaceful!

Romans 12:16 says, Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 

Harmony and unity are very much alike. They are all about taking things that are different and bringing them together. Why don't we just be people that embrace unity and harmony? How about we be people that brings people together? So how do we do this? 

Well, remember that when we are dealing with bringing people together that not all people want to be brought together. Some people will refuse to have peace and unity in their lives. But...before we get too negative, I believe most people want this. I believe most people would love to have this if they had the opportunity to have it. So let's go!

Romans 14 is all about a church in chaos. They are having a hard time agreeing and coming together. What you will notice is that it's ok to disagree. It's okay to have different opinions, it's just not okay to let those difference divide us. So here's some straight Biblical advice on how to bring people together. 

1. Accept people--Romans 14:1

Romans 15:7 tells us that we must accept others as Christ accepted us. When you came to Christ he loved you as you were...warts and all. He didn't make you change. He didn't make you do anything differently he just accepted you and loved you as is. The same is true of what we must do. We have a natural tendency to want people to be like us or we just don't like them or accept them. If we are to find unity among the chaos we must learn to accept people despite the differences we may have. 

2. Don't judge people--Romans 14:10

Paul helps us understand what judging is. Judging is NOT pointing out obvious sin. If a man is running out of a store with a TV he has not purchased and you yell out, "Put that down! You are stealing that TV!" He cannot respond, "How dare you judge me?!" If you will read Romans 14:10 you will see a word in there, contempt. When you judge someone sinfully you have a self-righteous attitude about them. You are putting yourself above them, because in your mind you would never do what they are doing. Or you may be trying to judge the motives of their heart which we are not qualified to do. Judging people from a distance widens that gap. We are pulled apart rather than brought together. 

3. Do what you can to bring peace and build people up--Romans 14:19

The word, edification, is a construction term. It means to build something up that was once torn down. Life tears people down. You can even see it physically in some people. They are slouched over, they won't lift their head, they won't make eye contact. They are so emotionally and spiritually beat down that their body looks beat down, too. What if we were people that helped people walk a little straighter? What if instead of tearing down we decided to lift up?

4. Don't hit SEND--Romans 14:22

In our world of social media we have such an opportunity to voice things that don't help anyone, and frankly hurts a lot of people. Behind a keyboard people get really brave. We've all probably typed things behind a computer or a phone that we would never say to someone's face. Paul is telling us to just quit hitting send. We don't have air every opinion, every thought, every disagreement. Some things are better left unsaid. 

If you practice these four things in your life you will be a peacemaker. You will be a unifier and a harmonizer. You will be a person that builds people up. We need a lot more people like this in a world full of chaos. 

August 16, 2016, 11:14 AM

The Dreaded Word...CHANGE!

I like change. On the other hand I hate change. 

Right now I have a recliner in my house that is in severe need of being chucked out the door. It's been broken about five times and somehow my wife has brought it back to life time and time again. It's in really sad shape. But I don't want to part with it. Logically, I should be ready for a new chair or a different chair, but emotionally I'm really not ready to give it up. We've had this chair for several years. I've taken many naps in it. I've watched much TV and movies in it. I've rocked children in it. We are tight and I don't want to let it go. 

But it's just a chair. 

What about when the changes in our lives involve people?

I know people that have fought for their marriages, they said "till death do us part" but their spouse has other intentions. They don't want to see this change. They want their family to stay the way it is. 

This past week we spent several days in Minnesota with my wife's family. It was the first time I'd been up there since my father in law passed away in October 2015. It was weird not having him around. It was change and I didn't like it. When we lose loved ones, grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, even children, life changes. We don't like it. We had things a certain way and we liked it. There were traditions, special days, celebrations, get-togethers, and these things change when we lose people. What do we do about all of this dreaded change? 

We cling to our anchor. 

Hebrews 6:19 says, We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Our hope in Jesus is our anchor. Life comes at you really hard. It brings some pretty severe storms and trials your way. There is not much you can count on that will not change. What you thought would never go away disappears before you even know it. People trust in money, their career, their homes, their strength and health, and all of this can go away very quickly. Our hope in Jesus is an anchor for our souls...firm and secure. When all else might be failing around you your hope in Jesus is there. 

I cannot tell you how many people have come to me in times of crisis and asked, "How do people that don't have God in their lives get through this?" The plain answer is, "I don't know." It's hard enough with God, with the anchor of hope that we have, but what  if we have nothing to cling to? Where do we go? I have lots of people that I love that cling to all kinds of things that let them down. Don't settle for false hopes. Don't settle for anchors that won't hold. Don't reach out for something that won't be there when you really need it. Reach for Jesus. He is a true hope that will never let you down. 




August 1, 2016, 11:45 AM

It's been a good day

Jim Valvano was the long time basketball coach of North Carolina State. His team won the 1983 national championship shocking the University of Houston who had two future NBA Hall of Famers on their roster, Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. They won the game on a buzzer beater putback by Dereck Whittenburg. 

In 1993, just eight weeks before he died of bone cancer, Valvano gave a speech at the ESPY awards, a sports award show put on by ESPN. In his speech he gave this quote, “To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think -- spend some time time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that's a heck of a day.” I've always loved this quote. It's such a simple thought but it is true. 

1. Laugh a little

Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." I've always enjoyed humor and I try to use it as much as possible. I had a man in one church I ministered to that said I was just big joke and I couldn't be taken seriously. This man was one of the most miserably negative people I've ever known. His crushed spirit had dried up his bones. We need to laugh a little more. We need to take ourselves a little less serious. We need to find some more cheer in our lives. I know there are moments to be serious and somber, and maturity is determining when humor is useful or not. Laugh at ourself. If you're like me there's plenty of material. Laugh at others. I know this may sound like strange advice, but it's ok. Laugh at life. There are some really funny things that happen. Even in the darkest of moments humor is there to lighten up the dark. 

2. Take time to think. 

In Psalms 46:10 David reminds us, "Be still and know that I am God..."

If you are anything like me you find it hard to be still. With the invention of the internet and social media it seems so hard to just be still and think. Sometimes the way I do this is with windshield time. I have an hour or 30 minutes to sit there in a car. I just turn off the radio and just let the quiet happen. I get distracted easily, but sometimes I just have really clear thoughts about life. I try to allow God to speak to me. I try to just think about what's most important right now. We need to stop and be still. We need this time. Part of the reason why there is such a thing as a mid-life crisis is people don't ever take the time to think. They just go, go, go and at age 40 they look back and wonder what they've accomplished. Stop and take the time to think about your life. 

3. Be moved

The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, "Jesus wept." I loved to quote this verse when I was in Bible camp. These two words reveal a lot about Jesus. Jesus had been called by Mary and Martha to come see their sick brother, Lazarus. Jesus had delayed. He did this because of the larger purpose of bringing glory to God. Mary and Martha did not understand this. They were all very close to Jesus and they believed if he would have come earlier he could have saved Lazarus. They were right, but Jesus had a plan. Jesus ended up resurrecting Lazarus, but the pain of his friends moved him to tears. 

Some are wired to be moved to tears easily, some not so much. But we should have our emotions stirred on a frequent basis. The other day while I was out at a youth camp in Colorado a young lady came up to me. I could not remember who she was. She told me and I immediately remembered her. She began to tell me that her grandpa's dying wish was that she be baptized by me. She said she was ready for this. I hugged her tight and we had a neat moment. This really stirred my emotions. We should be people that can have emotions stirred. We should not be so cynical about life that we are calloused to the things that should move us. 

So today, I know it's Monday and I know it's raining, but if you can laugh, think and cry it's been a pretty good day. 

Have a great Monday,


July 20, 2016, 9:13 AM

I Can't Save The World

Many young people have "pie in the sky" ideals about how life is going to go. They are going to be a lawyer and change the systerm and help people. They are going to become a doctor and save lives and change the world not be like the older, cynical doctors. They are going to become teachers and educate the world. They are going to go into politics and get rid of the corruption and the waste.  The list can go on and on. What many people figure out is that their ideal situation doesn't exist. Their lofty goals have a lot of obstacles in the way. They realize that the court system is way more complicated than they ever imagined. They realized that the hours it takes and the insurance regulations makes doctoring tough. They begin to realize that as a teacher it's not quite as simple and going in and teaching how you want to. They go to the state capitol and realize that if you don't stratch someone else's back yours won't be get stratched. So many people become cynical, angry, disillusioned, and even worse just go right in with the old, corrupt system and participate. 

How do we avoid this? Christians are told in Romans 12:21, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." As we read this we are also aware that our world is SO evil. Terrorism, police killings, rape, murder, child abuse...the list goes on and on and on. How can we save the world when he don't even feel safe in our own neighborhoods? How can we save the world when the problem is too big? 

Let me give you some hope that may not sound like can't save the world. 

When Jesus gave the Great Commission he said to, "go into all the world." Some people that are called to be foreign missionaries will stress this idea that we must go into all the world...meaning we must go overseas and win the globe. There are people called to do this, and I totally support this. But most of us are not called to ever leave where we live. Many Bible scholars believe that the word, go, can also be translated, "as you go." The world was very small in Jesus' day. The disciples went from town to town spreading the Gospel. We can't save the world, but we can make a difference in one small place. 

We can help change the culture of a neighborhood. We can help change the culture of a school. We can help change the culture of a workplace, a home, a church. 

I don't want to douse the enthusiasm of anyone who thinks they will do great things in their life. We need people with big dreams and big hopes and goals. The only thing I want to do is encourage them that they might not change the world, but they can make a BIG difference. I want to encourage them that it won't be easy, but anything worth doing isn't easy. I want to encourage them to not give up, because God rewards faithfulness. I want to encourage them that although there are many against them there are a few strong ones who will stand with them. 

I can't save the world, but I can save a few around me. Have you ever heard of Mordecai Ham? He was the preacher who led Billy Graham to Christ. Billy Graham has influenced thousands of people and propbably millions in America and around the world. Most of us aren't going to be Billy Grahams, but maybe we can be Mordecai Hams. We may not go out and be the face of a whole movement, but we can influence a person who might. 

Stay faithful, do it consistently, and God will reward your obedience. 

July 15, 2016, 9:40 AM

Don't be surprised

I got home late from camp last night and I was watching the news unfold about the horrible tragedy in Nice, France. A terrorist drove a truck into a huge crowd and it looks like right now the death toll has risen to 84 including women and children. As I watched the video that Fox News was showing I was just appalled and sickened by what I saw. These people were just out celebrating France's version of the 4th of July and they were mowed down. I don't know of any other way to put it. 

We are shocked and perplexed at this kind of evl, but the Bible says we shouldn't we. We should be saddened, horrified, angry, and appalled, but we shouldn't be surprised. Look at this passage in 1 Peter 4. 

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 1 Peter 4:12-14

We should not be surprised that there are a people that hate Christians. We should not be surprised that there is evil in this world and that people will suffer because of it. I don't like it. I want to fight it. I want to find ways to overcome, but we should be not be surprised that it's here.

I'm not sure where we got this from, but many of us think that if we are nice to people and treat them well that all people will like us. Jesus told his disciples that when people hated them to just remember that they hated him first. How could you hate Jesus? He healed the blind, the lame, and the mute. He healed people's children. He fed hungry people. He befriended the lonely. He reached out to the down and out. He always was accessible to people. He was a model human being...but he was hated. Why?

Christian values and morals and beliefs are hated by many. Our worldview, our belief in Jesus makes many people hate us. Our adherance to the Word of God, the Bible, makes people stand against us and call us bigots, hate-mongers, and judgmental prudes. If you are going to live as a Christian you are going to face opposition. Don't be surprised. 

Imagine this. A hurdler is running his race. He comes up to a hurdle and freezes. He is surprised by this obstacle, this thing in his way. He is overwhelmed and he just melts into a puddle of tears. He can't go on.  This would be pretty ridiculous wouldn't it? A hurdler understands that these things are just part of the race. He's not surprised by them, he expects them. He bounds over each one without even a thought about them. Our lives as believers in Jesus Christ is going to have obstacles. There are things that will be placed in front of us in hopes that we will trip and fall or even better yet cower and give up. We can't be surprised. We must acknowledge them and jump right over. 

This isn't heaven. This isn't a perfect world. People will hate you and mistreat you for unfair reasons. There will be evil things and evil people. Don't be surprised. Just keep living the life and try to make a dent in the evil around you. 


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