Billy's Blog
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August 24, 2015, 9:12 PM

In View Of God's Mercy

When I was growing up I had a spectacular view, but never realized it. On a clear day I could see four mountain peaks...Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Jefferson. This was something that I grew up seeing, it was no big deal. When I was nineteen I moved to southeast Iowa to go to Bible college. The tallest "peak in Iowa is Hawkeye a whopping 1,670 feet. The tallest peak I could see was Mount Rainier, with a peak of 14,411 feet. Wow! If you have ever flown into Seattle you've flown right over it, and if you've ever flown into Portland, Oregon you've got a birds-eye view of Mount Hood. They are quite amazing. I didn't realize what I had right outside my window. 

Romans 12:1 says that in "view of God's mercy" we should offer our lives to God. What does this mean?

It means that when we think of the mercy and grace of God it should move us to give our lives to him...ALL our life. There's a lot of reasons why people want to become Christians. Maybe they are scared of Hell and don't want to go there. Maybe they've heard how awesome Heaven will be and they don't want to miss it. Maybe they've heard of the good life you have on earth as a Christian and they want to experience it. But the greatest motivation for serving God is a simple expression of gratitude for his grace. 

In other words, when we get a full view of his mercy we want to give back. 

When I was a kid my family was going through some difficult times. I was too young to remember what exactly was going on, but we were struggling. All I remember was coming home and seeing a whole bunch of groceries by our front door. I rememeber my mom started crying, and as a young boy I thought, "Mom, why are you crying. We've got a whole front step full of FREE FOOD!" My mom was so overcome by someone's act of kindness that she just started crying. I remember thinking, and still think this, that I wanted to do this for someone someday. God has given me opportunities and I've gladly taken them. You know why? 

I was a recepient of kindness and I wanted to give it back when I could. I had a view of mercy up close and personal and I want to extend that to others. I knew how good it felt and I wanted to pass it on.

As you live your life think about the kindness and mercy God has extended to you. Does he deserve some gratitude? Does he deserve some praise? Does he deserve an attitude from you of thankfulness? I think the answer is pretty easy. 

August 12, 2015, 12:21 PM

The Complexity of Life

I think most of us wish our life could be a bit more simple. We go from one thing to another with so much to do in between. We struggle to keep up with our schedules. We struggle to keep everything running smoothly. We think we have a good amount of money saved and then the transmission in our vehicle goes out. We think we can finally start being more active and we have more health issues. We think that we are about to get that promotion and we get a new boss. 

Nothing just seems to go as planned. 

As humans we want life to be simpler and easier, but as Christians we can see that there's a larger plan. 

I know that Abraham never had plans of starting over at age 75. 

I know that Job never planned to lose everything and have to start over with nothing. 

I'm sure that Paul never planned on being a preacher of the Gospel when he was persecuting Christians. 

We can think we have stuff figured out and planned out and have simplified our lives...but here comes a new challenge, a new crisis, a new complication to our simple plan. How do we handle this?

I could write for hours on this subject, but it comes down to one main solution...we learn to trust God more than we do ourselves. Life will continue to throw us curveballs. Life will continue to mess up our plans which seemed so perfect. Life will continue to rain on our parade. But if we have total trust in God we can make it through. If we simply trust in ourselves we will continually struggled with fear and doubt and anxiety. 

These kinds of blogs or posts come from what I'm going through. I want my life to just be simpler. I want fewer complications, fewer snags, and more easy sailing. I want to make a plan, I want it to come together smoothly, and I want to be in control of everything. I want to feel like I've got this. 

But I don't. I don't have this. There's very little I can control. If I continue to trust in myself I will spiral down into a big mushy ball of anxiety, sucking my thumb in the corner in the fetal position. I continue need to learn to trust God. He's got a bigger picture. He's trying to teach me something. It all seems very complicated to me, but He's got this. 

The complexity of life will always puzzle us, but having faith and trust in God sure simplifies it a bit. 

August 6, 2015, 9:23 AM

Does it matter what you believe?

It seems like a very popular idea right is, "I'm ok, you're ok, we're all ok." This is not necessarily a new concept. In 1967, Thomas Harris wrote a book called, "I'm ok, you're ok." The basis of the book was four "life positions" we have to choose from:

  1. I'm Not OK, You're OK
  2. I'm Not OK, You're Not OK
  3. I'm OK, You're Not OK
  4. I'm OK, You're Ok

"I'm ok, you're ok" is the supposedly the best life position, because you are ok with yourself and with others. 

The problem is that not everything is OK. The problem with these self-help ideas is that they are humanistic in nature. It's all about us. If we think something is ok then that's's ok. The problem with this is that it undermines the authority of God. It doesn't really matter what God long as we are good with it then that's good enough. 

This week I'm speaking from Romans chapter ten. One of the problems with the religious leaders and some of the Jews in the day of Paul was that they did not want to submit to the righteousness of God. 

Paul's exact words in Romans 10:3 are.. "Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness." 

They liked the idea of establish their own rules and standards of righteousness. It is pretty handy. If you make the rules then you do whatever is easiest and convenient for yourself. The only problem is where it leads you. 

The people of Israel were constantly rejecting God and setting up their own idols and standards, but it always backfired. They always found themselves in chaos and destruction. It shouldn't have been any surprise to them. 

In Deuteronomy 30, God sends them a message through Moses. The overall message was that there are two ways to live...for God or against God. You can choose God's way or your own way. God even gave the people the answer. If they would choose his way there would life and blessings and prosperity. If they chose their own way there would be death and destruction. Well, that's an easy choice, isn't it? Not really. Time and time again we find the people of God in dire straits, because once again they had gone their own way.

This would never happen to us, would it? We would surely never be this stupide. Think again. We do this all the time. We know the will of God. We know what is right and true, and we choose our own way. 

There's a great Proverb that applies here..."There's a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." 

In other words, we think we can believe whatever we want and get away with it, but it's simply not true.

I encourage you to get into your Bible. Challenge your decisions and beliefs by reading the inerrant Word of God. Don't just think you are ok because you agree with yourself. That's a very dangerous way to live your life. 


July 7, 2015, 10:11 AM

Where Do We Begin?

Where you start from many times will determine where you end up. 

If you are discussing an issue with someone where you are coming from is so important. Your life experience...whether you were poor, middle-class, or wealthy...will many times shape your perspective on issues. Your political bent...whether you are conservative or liberal...will determine how you view different topics and issues. Even where you live might determine how you feel about issues. A farmer living in rural Iowa will probably think about life a little differently than an aspiring actor living in Los Angeles. 

I get a lot of people who come to me for advice and help. One of the first things I do is try to make it very clear what my perspective or starting point is. I preach the Bible. This is where my training lies, this is where I have experience, this is what I do. I'm not a psychologist or a therapist. I have no training in these areas. 

When I preach I come from a Biblical perspective. There is some value in studying history, current events, and other factors in determining how to best deliver a message, but still my main starting point is the Bible. 

What if we did this with our whole lives? 

What if we raised our families from a Biblical perspective...treating our children as God has commanded us to. 

What if we had marriages that reflected what the Bible lays out as a healthy marriage...wives submitting to husbands and husbands loving their wives as Christ loves the church. 

What if we dealt with our finances in a Biblical...getting out of debt and being generous. 

What if the church really focused on the mission given to us in the Bible? 

If we begin our journey in life with a Biblical perspective I think we could all see our lives would healthier and more prosperous in every way. Ultimately, we would end up more Christ-like...which is our goal on this earth. 

June 25, 2015, 10:08 AM

Planning or Controlling?

In our small group we were studying James chapter four. A few verses in this chapter talk about making plans. Scripture does not condemn making plans. Jesus actually endorsed when it came to counting the cost of following Jesus and making plans to make sure you were willing. In Proverbs 16:3 it says that we need to commit our plans to the Lord. So God does not condemn making plans. What he does condemn is boasting and bragging. Here's what I mean. 

James 4:13 says that we will say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." God says this is boastful arrogance, because we think we are in control. The sin is not the planning. The sin is thinking that are lord of our lives. James instructs us on a great alternative. 

"Instead, you ought to say, If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:15)

The point is who the lord of our lives is. If we are in control, and we are the lord of our lives, then we will make plans with no regard for the will of God. We will make plans that suit us, please us, and make us happy. 

So when it comes to your life are you planning or are you controlling? When you make plans do you consider the will of God or are you simply planning your life as if you are in control? It may sound like splitting hairs but it makes all the difference in the world. 

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