Billy's Blog
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August 6, 2018, 9:53 AM

A Country Divided...Can It Be Brought Together?


We hear so much about a country being divided. We blame it on the President or those who oppose him. We usually blame it on the people we don't agree with, because we know that we are right and we just can't be the problem. The last time we really had a united country was 1792 when George Washington ran unopposed and won all of the electoral votes. Ever since then we've had some sort of division. 

You could say that our country was united right after 9/11 but that lasted abou 10 minutes. In politics there is too much money and power to gain for the country to be united in this way. If you are waiting for our country to be united politically you are going to be waiting a while. But unity can happen. A country, a state, a county, a city, a neighborhood and yes even a church can be united. But it's not easy and it's going to take you and me doing things that don't come natural. And don't expect every one to buy in and go along with unity. Jesus said that he brought division. He knew that his teaching and his style of ministry would not bring everyone together. So how do we foster unity? 

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:1-5

If you take Paul's words here and boil them down to one sentence here is what he says, "It's not about you." 

If we ever want to really foster unity in a group of people that are all different from each other in many ways we must decide that not everything is about us. We don't always have to get our way. It doesn't always have to be done the way I would do it. I have to want what's best for others, too. 

The only way we can do this is if we take on the attitude of Christ. 

This means that we have to surrender to him. This means that when we are involved with a group of people we must continually pray and seek the attitude of Christ in ourselves. This is hard for me. I am driven. I have a lot of ideas. I think that I know what's best. But as I look back on my life working with people I've been proven wrong time and time again. What I thought was best wasn't best. What I thought was a good idea was not a good idea. What was best for the whole group was not necessarily what I thought was best for me. 

So take a deep breath. Stop pushing your way and think about what is best for the group. Pray for the attitude of Christ to overcome your own selfish attitude. Just imagine if in every group there were people who did this. The country, the state, the county, the city, the neighborhood and the church would be a lot better place. 

Be a part of this great change. 




July 18, 2018, 9:45 AM

Your Journey


This week I am going on a journey with our youth to the mountains of Colorado. We attend a youth camp out there that draws between 1,200-1,400 people. It's quite an event. 

A big part of the trip is the journey. If you've ever been on a journey with a large group of people you've experienced all kinds of things along the journey. Bus breakdowns, flat tires, broken axles, car sick kids...there's all kinds of great stories along the way. Actually when I think about some of the journeys I've been on some of the best stories are about the worst stuff. It's funny how that happens. 

How's your journey going? Remember when you were 16, 17, 18 years old and you had your whole journey mapped out. You knew exactly where you going and how you were going to get there and when you would arrive. I laugh out loud thinking about how much did not go as planned. I ended up in places like Iowa, Minnesota, Louisiana and Missouri...four places I had no plans to ever go to. I never thought I would marry a girl from Minnesota and end up having a child born in Mississippi. 

You also don't plan on having a heart attack, losing your dad, losing your father in law, and a brother in law at age 39. 

You don't plan financial difficulties, divorces, miscarriages or job losses. But unfortunately these things are a part of our journey. I saw one meme the other day that said, "Life sucks. Then you die." Well, there is SOME truth to that, life does suck at times, and unless Jesus comes back before your time you will die, but it's much better than that. 

YOUR JOURNEY HAS A PURPOSE

God did not make everything in your life happen. Some of your journey has been there, because of choices you've made. Some of your journey has been there simply because stuff happens. But God has a purpose for all of it. He can use anything you've gone through in your life for His glory and He will if you let Him. 

YOUR JOURNEY HAS MADE YOU WHO YOU ARE

There are things in your life that were difficult but you've said that you wouldn't go back and change it. You said this, because that experience has helped make you the person you are. The reason the Apostle Paul was so passionate about spreading the Gospel is because he spent so many years foolishly trying to stop it. His journey made him who he was. You are no different. Think about what you are passionate about. You are passionate about that partly because of your journey and what you've been through. 

YOUR JOURNEY NEEDS TO SLOW DOWN A BIT

As a general rule men are conquerors. For example, a guy is driving. He's taking the family on a vacation. Last year the family went to the same vacation spot. Last year it took 12 hours and 36 minutes to get there. This year that number is going down. You will make it in under 12 hours and 36 minutes. If you have to go the bathroom you better grab an empty Coke bottle, because dad ain't stopping. 

It's kind of silly. Here you are on vacation and you're stressing about getting there quicker. We all need to slow down a little bit and enjoy our journey. I am like the kettle calling the pot black on this one. I am bad at it. I'm that competitive conqueror who wants to get there. I need to slow down and enjoy the journey. 

You're never going to get all your work done today so go home at a decent time and enjoy your family. 

Those emails will be there tomorrow...shut your computer off and go fishing with your kids. 

No matter how much laundry you do today there will be dirty clothes tomorrow...sit down and read your kid a book. 

No matter how much you drive today...the road continues on. Take a break and check out that state park. 

God has given us so much to enjoy. We will live for eternity, but we only get one journey through this life. Let's make the most of it. Get all you can out of it and enjoy it. There's no redos so let's get it right the first time. 




July 10, 2018, 9:39 AM

The Corruption Of Power


Power should be a good thing. If you have power and influence that should be good. It's a great opportunity to do a lot of amazing things. If you have power you probably have some money, too. Money can sure do a lot of good things, but the Bible says that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. The same is true of power. 

I thought this quote by a guy named Emerich Edward Dahlberg Acton was pretty good. He said, "All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Power doesn't have to corrupt people, but it sure seems to. And absolute power...usually not a good thing. When you hear the word, dictator, it probably doesn't bring any good memories up. We think of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin...men with absolute power who did terrible things. 

Why does power corrupt people? Why can't we do good things with power? 

Here's what things like power and money reveal...they reveal what you really love. If you really love people and value people more than power or money you will do positive and good things with your power. If you love power more than people you will use your power to do what's best for you. Read what John writes in 1 John chapter two. 

 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17

If you love the world, the things of the world like money and power and prestige, then you will give in to the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and to pride. You will be corruptible. There are many men and women who go into politics with great intentions to do great things for people, and they end up being corrupted by the power they receive. Their first love changed. Or maybe they were in love with an idea...an idea to help people, but it wasn't really who they were. 

There have been many men and women who have used power and influence to help a lot of people. We've all heard stories of rich and famous people who built hospitals, or supported missionaries, or built people homes...these like this. Many of these people do not do it in front of the camera and lights they just do it, because their first love is not the power and the money. 

If you love the world you're going to be corruptible. We don't have to be politicians or wealthy or famous to be corruptible. Our motives and intentions can be corrupted no matter how insignificant we may be in the scheme of things. We need to check ourselves. Is our first love in the right place? 

John also wrote the book of Revelation and in chapter two he deals with a church in Ephesus. This church had some great things in the past. John praises them for their hard work, their perseverence, their endurance, and their willingness to stand up to false teachers. But one thing they lacked...they had lost their first love. They had forgotten why they were doing what they were doing. 

We can't lose our first love. We can't fall in love with the world and the things around us. This when we get corruptible. We must always challenge ourselves to go back to where it all started...our love for Jesus. That's where it all started and that's where it needs to stay. 




July 5, 2018, 10:37 AM

Hope For The Dark Times


Over 40 million people in America struggle with anxiety. 

Over 16 million Americans suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. 

We aren't just talking about diagnosed instances of anxiety and depression. We know that there are many undiagnosed and unreported instances of anxiety and depression. Plus, what about the millions of us that struggle with discouragement or some minor form of depression that doesn't require medical treatment? 

This is real stuff. 

When you read the Bible you will find many people who struggled with depression and/or discouragement. 

David said his burden was too heavy to bear. Elijah told God he had had enough. Job said he had no peace. Jeremiah had wished he'd never been born. Jesus said that his soul was overwhelmed to the point of death. 

If our Savior struggled with discouragement even to the point of death don't you think that we might struggle, too? 

It's false that Christians have to run around with a fake smile pretending that everything is ok when it isn't. That's called, hypocrisy, and Jesus condemns it. What we need to do is get real with it, understand it doesn't make us a bad person, and get real about our relationship with God. 

In Hebrews 6:19 the Word says that our hope in Jesus Christ is an anchor. You and I need an anchor. We need someone and somewhere to cling onto when the storms come. We need to know that something is going to help us hold it together when the waves and storms of life are threatening to sink us. 

We have to get past the false shame of depression and discouragement. We need to realize that we all deal with it in some way, and that it's ok. It doesn't make our faith weak or relationship with God shaky. We need the anchor, Jesus Christ. We are described in the Bible as "jars of clay"...we are all easily broken. This is our human condition. 

But we have an anchor in Jesus that will help us keep it together if we cling to him and to EACH OTHER. 




June 29, 2018, 2:32 PM

Reaction to Addiction


Addiction is a huge issue in our country. I'm not even going to look up numbers about addiction, because they aren't going to tell the story. Those who are identified as addicts pale in comparison to those who are actually addicted. I'm not talking just about drug and alcohol addiction. I'm talking about food, sex, work...these are all dangerous addictions, too. Addictions to work and money have brought down many a family just like addictions to drugs and alcohol. 

What I want to address is the attitude we have toward people who struggle with addiction. I would say many of us struggle with addiction. We may find food to be a comfort when we are troubled. We might soothe our pain with several glasses of wine. We might go to work to avoid the real issues in our lives. Even though we have our own struggles we might find ourselves very intolerant of the sins of others. Jesus addressed this in Matthew 7:5 when Jesus told us to take the PLANK out of our own eye before we try to remove the SPECK out of someone else's eye. Jesus used hyperbole here on purpose. Imagine a plank in your eye. When I used to set up scaffolding for work we used 2 X 12's for planks. Jesus is comparing our sin, a 2 X 12 plank, with the sins of others, a speck of sawdust. The hilarious visual is of someone swinging around a plank in their eye trying to fix the person with a barely visible speck of sawdust. 

Jesus is not talking about endorsing sin or never confronting sin. He is addressing the idea that we should try to judge ourselves before we judge others. What I've realized in my own life is that when I judge myself first I find that I'm so humbled by own sin that I just give up on criticizing anyone else. 

So try that. When you are tempted to judge someone who struggles with addiction stop and deal with the plank hanging off the side of your own head. You might be so busy dealing with that you won't have time to judge anyone else. 


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