Billy's Blog
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October 16, 2018, 9:07 AM

A Weird Way To Save The World

Christianity is unique in many ways, but the most unique thing about Christianity is grace. Grace does not exist in other religions. In other religions it's all about works. If you are good enough you get the prize. If you are not good enough you don't get the prize. It makes sense. Christianity is weird. 

The message of Christianity can be summarized pretty well in Ephesians 2:1-10. 

When we read verses 1-3 in 'Ephesians 2 we see the reason we need grace. We have all sinned. We are dead in our sins. Our sins have separated us from God. Its as if our sin created a large a canyon between us and God that we could not cross. 

When we read verses 4-9 we see how God has saved. God had mercy on us. God hates our sin, but his mercy and his love for us is bigger than his hate of our sin. So God sent Jesus. You could say Jesus was the bridge that connected us to God over the canyon of sin. When you read verses 8-9 it is made very clear that our works do not save us. We are saved by grace through faith. 

Then we read throughout the New Testament about this weird practice called, baptism. Although baptism may seem kind of weird the symbolism is pretty amazing. We stand there in the water a sinner who has earned punishment. Because of God's mercy shown to us through Jesus Christ we are able to go down into the water condemned and come back up redeemed. 

It's not the water. It's not any magic set of words. Baptism saves us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Again...its not works that saves's all Jesus. 

This doesn't make sense. We don't get what we deserve or earn. We get what God has chosen to give us. 

Then in verse 10 God answers the question of what happens next. We go do the good works that God has created us to do. We are now empowered to do what God has called us to do. 

Its all kind of weird but this how God has chosen to save us. The best thing you can do is just be obedient to it. 

October 10, 2018, 9:47 AM

A Little Stuart Smalley

Years ago Al Franken did a character on Saturday Night Live. The character was called, Stuart Smalley, and he was a kind of passive motivational speaker. He was really good at giving affirmation to himself and to others. He would stare in the mirror every day and say to himself, "You're good enough. You're smart enough. And doggone it, people like you." He would help his patients do the same thing. 

While the Smalley character was a little bit annoying we all need this sometimes. We all need a boost. We all need someone cheerleading for us. We need to hear that we're smart enough, that we're good enough, and that people do like us. 

Your life matters and is impacting more people than you can imagine. Satan wants you to believe that you are insignificant. Satan wants you to believe that you should just quit, because you aren't making a difference. Satan wants you to think that this world is already going to hell in a handbasket so we should just give it up. 

Here's what I want to tell you. As the world gets darker the Christians have a bigger impact. When you study church history you find out that the church grew more during times of darkness and persecution than when things were good. The reason for this is that Christians stick out more in the darkness. We are called the light of the world by Jesus in Matthew chapter five. I know you've heard this many times throughout the your life. The significance of this is that your life is a contrast to the world. This light that you give off guides people to Jesus. 

When you are kind to a waitress having a difficult night you point her to Jesus. 

When you do a little extra for a co-worker that you really don't have to do you point them to Jesus. 

When you help an elderly person get their groceries in their vehicle you are pointing them to Jesus. 

What does this mean, point them to Jesus? 

You are showing them there's people that care about them. You are showing them that there are some good people left in the world who care about more than themselves. These actions don't have to be earth-shattering and I would imagine that you are already doing some of these things. Keep it up. 

You will get discouraged. You will want to give up. You will want to throw your hands up and just move on, but don't. 

You are making a difference. You are impacting people positively. Your life does matter. 

I may not be Stuart Smalley, but I want to encourage you to keep fighting the good fight. It's worth it. 

October 2, 2018, 9:35 AM

Free To Be Weird

Grade school was great. I didn't worry about what brand my jeans were. I wasn't concerned about how my hair looked. I didn't care what shoes I wore. Girls didn't matter. It was great. Then came junior high. I had to move a new building and there were new rules. Now it mattered that I wore Rustler jeans. They were not what I was supposed to be wearing. I never knew this. I was under a lot of pressure to be normal. I really couldn't afford to be normal so I wasn't sure if I could ever pull it off. Man...junior high was complicated. 

At some point we should move on past this need to be normal but we struggle to do that. We might be in our 30's or 40's or even older and still really desire to be normal. We still really want to be accepted and it's a hard thing to accomplish. What might make us accepted by one person gets us rejected by someone else. What might be cool in one generation is not very cool to the next one. The target for nomal is always moving and it's hard to hit it. 

Why not just be free to be a little weird? 

God likes weird people and weird people do some pretty cool stuff. I have a friend that wears a shirt that says, "Women who behave rarely make history." I know we should behave, but the idea is that if we aren't willing to be a little weird we will never do anything extraordinary. More importantly we will never be able to fulfill God's purpose for our lives if we are not willing to be a little weird. 

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. --James 4:4

If you want to be a friend of God and serve him you cannot be a friend of the world. James is not talking about being friends with people who are not Christians. Jesus certainly befriended people who did not believe yet. But Jesus did not fall prey to taking on their behavior to be accepted by them. Notice what James says, "you adulterous people". James is saying that if we are going to seek to be accepted by the world we cannot stay faithful to God. If our number one goal is to be normal we can't be pleasing to God. 

And guess what? Weird is better. Weird is freeing. When I'm ok with weird I don't have to worry about what everyone thinks about me. When I'm ok with weird I don't have to fear rejection. When I'm ok with weird I can speak up and not worry that I might offend someone with what I believe. When I'm ok with weird I can choose to do the right thing when everyone around is doing what is wrong. 

You are free to be weird. Once you accept this and are ok with it you'll find out that weird is much better. 

September 25, 2018, 1:55 PM

Normal Isn't Working

Remember high school and trying to be normal so you could fit in and be liked? That was a really hard thing to do, because what was normal was always changing. It was really stressful trying to fit who you are into this little box that others had created for you. 

The problem is that many of us have never stopped living this kind of life. We are still struggling to be normal, but normal isn't working. Normal is...stressed, overwhelmed, overworked, up to our eyeballs in debt, strained relationships, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Let me say it again...normal isn't working. 

When God calls us, "a peculiar people", in 1 Peter 2:9, what is he talking about? Some have responded with doing outer things like dressing different, or refusing certain modern luxuries, or living in communes. This is not what God is talking about. God is talking about our character, our values and our actions that follow these. Divorce is normal in our culture but God says he hates divorce. He doesn't hate divorced people he hates what happens because of divorce. It's normal to look at your kids as a bother and a chore, but God says that our children are a gift. It's normal to be addicted to something...painkillers, food, alcohol, sex, etc...but God says to be filled with the Spirit. 

Peter continues to say in 1 Peter 2:9 that we were called out of darkness into light. If we believe this we should be living different than people who are living in darkness. We don't do this so we can say we are better and judge them. We do this to give them hope. 

So many people believe that there's just no way they will be any better than who came before them. They believe they can't live down their family name. They believe they can't get out of the shadow of the dysfuntion or "normality" of what they've seen. Jesus died for sins, but he also died and arose so that we could come out of the shadow of other people's sins. If it was normal for people to be drunk in your family you don't have to repeat the same destructive behavior. You have a choice. You can fill in the blank to whatever was normal in your life that is destructive. You have a choice. Jesus died and arose to give you a choice. 

Normal isn't working. I think you can catch that drift. But we have to be courageous enough to step out of darkness and into light and be willing to be a little weird. Scripture repeats itself over and over again telling us to be be brave and not fear, because God knows its going to take some courage to do this. The world is a better place, because of people throughout history who were bold enough to do weird things. Will you be one of them? 

September 18, 2018, 11:38 AM

You Deserve To Be Happy and Other Lies

Facebook has been a wonderful tool for me personally. I've used it to connect and stay connected with friends that I no longer live close to. It's a great way to keep up with family who are spread around the country. It's a been a great tool for promoting activities and ministries of the church.'s also a tool for lies. 

One of the greatest lies that I see in comments is, "you deserve to be happy." It sounds good on the surface. There's certainly no sin in being happy. I think it's what we all want. The problem with this pursuit of happiness is that sometimes it comes at the cost of morality or giving up our values. You can do whatever you want and you will find people who will tell you, "you deserve to be happy." 

Paul was a mentor of Timothy and he writes to him in his second letter about preaching the Word. He reminds Timothy that you need to preach the word, in season and out of season, when the truth is popular and when it's not. Paul gives Timothy this warning. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Paul warns Timothy that people will try to surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear. Jesus told us that the "truth will set you free", but the truth also sometimes hurts and is NOT what we want to hear. It's simply easier to believe that we deserve to be happy and do whatever we desire to make that happen. 

Here's the problem with this...the happiness doesn't last. 

Years ago I had a friend who was thinking about leaving his wife. He just wasn't happy. I know that there were people in his life who were telling him that he deserved to be happy. I know that the woman he was talking to was telling him this for sure. He sought me out to tell me what was going on. I told him that he was believing a lie. First of all, she was a lie. He saw her at work every day and she was all prettied up for the day. She had her hair done, her clothes were perfect, her teeth were brushed, everything was perfect. He saw his wife every morning before all of this. The bed head, the stinky breath...but this other woman was no different. AND this man was married to a very godly woman. This woman was a not a godly woman and her character was not very good. He was believing a lie that leaving his wife would make him happy. He would soon discover the truth about this woman that she was not nearly as perfect as he thought. Thank the Lord my friend had enough character and desire to do what's right that he stopped all of this nonsense. 

We've believed lies about what brings happiness. A new relationship, a new job, a new house, a new car, a new look...the problem with these is that they are all exterior fixes. Happiness and joy are inside jobs. If you are not content with your current situation you might find yourself quickly discontent in your next situation. 

I had a young man tell me a few days ago that he was never happier than when he was in church. He's not sure why he ever left. He sought out other sources of happiness outside of God and found them to be empty. It's what you'll find too if you search for happiness without God. 

I'll leave you with this today. Solomon was a king...a very wealthy man. He could have anyone or anything he wanted. So he pursued this. Music, wine, land, servants, food, laughter, houses...he got it all. After he obtained all of this he said this, A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?  Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

Without God you won't find happiness no matter what your Facebook friends say you deserve. 

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