Billy's Blog
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March 27, 2018, 10:14 AM

The Power Of Hope


Defining hope may be a little like trying to pin jello to a wall...it's really hard to nail it exactly. I could give you Webster's definition or the Hebrew or Greek word, but I want to give you a word picture that the Bible gives. 

In Hebrews 6:19 the Bible says this, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."

So the definition that I will use today for hope is anchor. When I think of an anchor I think of something solid. I think of something that holds me in place when something is trying to move me. I think of a boat. You are out trying to fish and stay in one location, but the wind and the waves are trying to push you around. They are trying to move you from where you really want to be. These winds and waves are things that threaten your hope. So what threatens your hope? 

Tragedy. 

Financial worry. 

Health issues. 

Family dysfunction. 

Loss of job. 

There are a lot of things that threaten to move us away from hope. The only way that we can make it is to set down an anchor. That anchor is our hope in Jesus. This sounds good but how do we set this anchor down? How does this really work in our lives? 

1. Read your Bible

Ok...enough with the cliche preacher solutions. Well, I know but this works. The Bible reminds us of the promises that God has made. When God called Joshua to lead the people of Israel after Moses has died he tells him to be strong and courageous three times in one chapter. The reason that Joshua could be strong and courageous is simple...God promised to never leave him. 

We need to get into our Bibles and read and reread the promises of God. We need to be reminded exactly what our hope is in and what exactly God promises that we can hold onto. 

2. Be around other people that are trying to hang on to the same hope. 

I married into a large family. This is a Christian family. There has been a lot of death and difficult times in our family in the last 4-5 years, and it's been really cool to see a large family rally around each other. One of the metaphors for the church is a family. We may not be blood relatives, but we have our relationship with Christ that bonds us. You need these people to help be your anchor. These believers know what it's like to feel like you are losing your hope. They know what it's like to be in your shoes. Let them help you. 

3. Keep walking...even when you can't see the path. 

A part of trusting God is continuing to do what you know is right despite not understanding any of what you are going through. Its kind of like driving at night and you are temporarily blinded by the headlights of another vehicle. You can't see the road for a few seconds but you know it's there. You don't just slam on the brakes and go drive into the ditch. You know the road is there even though you can't see it. We know God is there for us even when we can't see the proof yet. 

Our hope is real. Our hope in Jesus is an anchor. Everything but God in life can disappoint. Most of what we have in this life can be taken away or changed in the blink of eye. The constant, the rock is God. He will never leave us he will never forsake us. 




March 20, 2018, 8:21 AM

Listen To Those Before You


I am currently the father of three teenagers...two boys and a girl. Do you remember being a teenager? I remember thinking that my parents just didn't know what I was going through. They had been teenagers so long ago that they just didn't understand what I was going through at the time. I was tempted to not listen to them, because I had decided I didn't really need their advice. Then you turn 25 and you start looking back and mysteriously your parents got a lot smarter. It's amazing how that works. 

I am currently doing some reading through Proverbs and was reading in chapter four where Solomon writes for us to listen to him as a son does to his father. He also says that he was a son to his father and needed to listen to him. Solomon understands that not only should some people gain wisdom from him, but he also needs to gain wisdom from others. We have much to learn. 

I have always sought out a mentor. I have always looked for someone older than me to gain wisdom from so that I can be a wiser person. Here are some good things to think about when it comes to gaining wisdom from others. 

1. Don't be the smartest person in the room all the time. 

Some people like to be the smartest person in the room, because it boosts their ego. But it's kind of a like a high school basketball player always playing against fourth graders. He appears to be really good compared to everyone else in the gym, but he'll never get better playing fourth graders. The truth is that he's really not that good. He has fooled himself into thinking he's better than he really is. The same is true of life. If you are constantly placing yourself in situations where you are the wisest and smartest person in the room you'll never grow and you'll never learn. You'll appear to be very wise, but the truth is less flattering. 

We need to surround ourselves with people that challenge us and inspire us to be better, smarter, and wiser. 

2. Invest time in learning from others. 

Seek out people that have been where you are trying to go and spend time with them. There are many people right around you who can increase your wisdom if you'll just take the time to do it. I look around my church building on Sunday mornings and see so many people have so much to teach me. I get to teach them from the stage each week, but I know that I have much to gain from them. I have sought several of them out to learn from them and just ask them about life. I have a good friend who has three grown daughters who all are serving the Lord. I have asked him about raising my daughter to do the same. He has much to teach me. I have men and women who have been leaders in the business world. They have much to teach me about leadership. Invest some time in learning from others who have already been where you are trying to go. 

3. Listen. 

We've all probably been taught about the difference between hearing and listening. We physically hear a lot of things that we don't catch. Listening is about tuning in. Listening is about focus. Listening is caring about what you are hearing. When you seek out people to learn from you need to actively listen. When I go to conferences and learn from people that I want to hear from I take notes. I take lots of notes. My hand cramps up after some classes. I want to listen. I want to learn. 

4. Be humble.

Proverbs 16:18 tells us that "pride goes before destruction." If this is true then the opposite is also true...humility goes before victory. If you are going to learn from other people you have to be humble enough to admit you don't have all the answers. Here's the truth...you don't have all the answers, so just fess up to it. 

I heard an older man tell me one time that the older he got the less he knew. This was not really true. What he was saying is that the older he got the more he realized he didn't have all the answers. The older he got the more willing he was to admit that he didn't know everything...or much at all. This is called humility. Humility is NOT self-defeat or some negative view of yourself. Humility is a realistic view of who you are. Humility is accepting the fact that you are flawed and that you need help. 

When you surround yourself with people who are smarter and wiser than you it's hard not to be humble. When you are always the smartest person in the room you feel pretty good about yourself. The Bible tells us that if we exalt ourselves we will be humbled, and if we humble ourselves we will be exalted. When we try to make ourselves look better than we are we always look foolish. But when we admit where we really are and desire to learn some really great things can happen. 

Imagine your life as a river. A river receives water from other places and then passes it on. It never gets stagnate. The river takes in water from creeks and other sources and passes it on to other larger rivers or even the ocean. You take in wisdom from many places, but it doesn't stay with you. You pass it on to others. Don't allow your life to get stagnate. Take in the wisdom, learn from it and pass it on. 




March 13, 2018, 10:23 AM

Why go it alone?


So I have a couch I need to move. It's just small enough I think I can get it by myself if I use every ounce of muscle and grit I have. I have two young men in my house who are now bigger than me. Although I might be able to budge it with all of my strength that would be stupid. Why would I try it alone when I could get help? I have to learn to work smarter not harder. 

We can see the lack of wisdom in moving a couch by ourselves when we have help available so why do we this with our lives. We try to go it alone, because we don't want to bother anyone. We don't want to appear weak. We don't want anyone to know our weaknesses. It's just not very smart. We have people willing to help us and share our load, but sometimes we are too stubborn to accept the help. 

Paul tells us in Galatians that this is a big part of being a part of a church. 

 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are somethingwhen they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions.      --Galatians 6:1-3

There are a few things to learn from this passage:

1. We are struggle. 

Paul makes it clear that we all struggle in Romans 3:23 when he says that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We all have issues. None of us is above struggling or sinning...we all do it. So all are in the need of help. 

2. Our goal is restoration

When we reach out to someone or when someone reaches out to us the goal is restoration. We aren't trying to look better than someone, and we are not trying to appear better. It's about getting real with people and truly getting help. On one side we need to practice transparency and on the other side we need to practice compassion. 

3. We are to carry each other's burdens

Sometimes we just need someone to come alongside and help us carry our burdens. The idea that God does not put more on you than you can handle is simply not true. God does allow things that we can't handle alone...that's why we need other people. I believe God specifically puts things in our path that are too big for us to deal with. He wants us to see our need for Him and our need for other people. We both learn the need for others and the need to help people carry their burdens. 

4. We're not as strong as we think

When God told Joshua on three different occasions in Joshua 1 to be "strong and courageous" it was not about Joshua digging deep and finding something within his own soul. It was about finding strength and courage in the promises and strength of God. We will find out through trials that we are not as strong as we think...on our own. But there is much strength in numbers. There is much strength and much courage when we go arm in arm into battle with others. 

When you watch the story of the Lone Ranger he was not really the LONE Ranger was he? Even the supposed Lone Ranger had his trusty sidekick, Tonto. We are not meant to do this life alone. We are not meant to last solely on our own strength. We need other people. 

The church is flawed...there's no doubt. It's flawed because we are the church. But it's the best thing we have. On so many occasions I've had people tell me...I don't know what I'd do without the church. It's because we need people. We need people who are willing and ready to carry our burdens when we just can't do it alone. 




March 13, 2018, 10:21 AM

Why go it alone?


So I have a couch I need to move. It's just small enough I think I can get it by myself if I use every ounce of muscle and grit I have. I have two young men in my house who are now bigger than me. Although I might be able to budge it with all of my strength that would be stupid. Why would I try it alone when I could get help? I have to learn to work smarter not harder. 

We can see the lack of wisdom in moving a couch by ourselves when we have help available so why do we this with our lives. We try to go it alone, because we don't want to bother anyone. We don't want to appear weak. We don't want anyone to know our weaknesses. It's just not very smart. We have people willing to help us and share our load, but sometimes we are too stubborn to accept the help. 

Paul tells us in Galatians that this is a big part of being a part of a church. 

 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are somethingwhen they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions.      --Galatians 6:1-3

There are a few things to learn from this passage:

1. We are struggle. 

Paul makes it clear that we all struggle in Romans 3:23 when he says that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We all have issues. None of us is above struggling or sinning...we all do it. So all are in the need of help. 

2. Our goal is restoration

When we reach out to someone or when someone reaches out to us the goal is restoration. We aren't trying to look better than someone, and we are not trying to appear better. It's about getting real with people and truly getting help. On one side we need to practice transparency and on the other side we need to practice compassion. 

3. We are to carry each other's burdens

Sometimes we just need someone to come alongside and help us carry our burdens. The idea that God does not put more on you than you can handle is simply not true. God does allow things that we can't handle alone...that's why we need other people. I believe God specifically puts things in our path that are too big for us to deal with. He wants us to see our need for Him and our need for other people. We both learn the need for others and the need to help people carry their burdens. 

4. We're not as strong as we think

When God told Joshua on three different occasions in Joshua 1 to be "strong and courageous" it was not about Joshua digging deep and finding something within his own soul. It was about finding strength and courage in the promises and strength of God. We will find out through trials that we are not as strong as we think...on our own. But there is much strength in numbers. There is much strength and much courage when we go arm in arm into battle with others. 

When you watch the story of the Lone Ranger he was not really the LONE Ranger was he? Even the supposed Lone Ranger had his trusty sidekick, Tonto. We are not meant to do this life alone. We are not meant to last solely on our own strength. We need other people. 

The church is flawed...there's no doubt. It's flawed because we are the church. But it's the best thing we have. On so many occasions I've had people tell me...I don't know what I'd do without the church. It's because we need people. We need people who are willing and ready to carry our burdens when we just can't do it alone. 




March 9, 2018, 11:33 AM

You've Got All You Need


Can you be successful with what you have and what you know right now? 

I believe the answer is usually YES. While learning and growing is essential to our lives, I also believe that if we worked our hardest and went all in we would could probably be pretty successful what we know and what we have right now. The problem is that we are always looking for something new. We are looking for a magic pill, a super formula that will help us make shortcuts on the way to success. We don't want to lose weight by exercising and eating less and better...we want to take a magic pill that turns donuts into fat-free supplements. 

The Bible was written a long time ago. The oldest book in the Bible is believed to have been, Job, written abou 1500 BC. Revelation is considered to be the youngest of the books written in the 80s or 90s...not the 1980s or 1990s either. So the Bible is old. We want something new. People have gravitated to the Book of Mormon, this was written in 1830. Or some want to go for the latest philosophy or religion like The Church of Scientology which was started by L. Ron Hubbard's book, Dinanetics, in 1950. Or maybe it's the latest postive thinking book by Tony Robbins or whatever Oprah is promoting in her book of the month club. 

Is the Bible enough? Do we really have all we need right there in the Word of God to live a successful and happy life? 

There are two passages I want you share with you this morning. 

Hebrews 4:12--For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

2 Timothy 3:16-17--All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Bible is two things according to these passages: relevant and useful. 

It's relevant...meaning that you don't need anything NEWER. It's alive and its active which means that it's still working. I went to a leadership seminar a few months. Two of the main speakers were John Maxwell and Cheryl Bachelder. Maxwell is the leading expert on leadership in America and is a former pastor. Bachelder is the CEO of Popeyes...she has turned around the company to the point that they were the second-fastest growing fast food company in America last year. Both of the these leadership experts used the Bible. They both found that the greatest leadership expert ever was Jesus. His words and actions were the best tools for leadership today. 

The Bible is relevant. 

The Bible is also useful for your life...it will change your life if you will do what it says. You want to have a good marriage...read Ephesians 5:22-33 and do what it says. You want to deal with your anger issues...Read Ephesians 4:26-27 and do what it says. You want to gain some real wisdom to deal with your life read through the Proverbs. 

You want to know why the Purpose Driven Life has helped so many people? It's chock full of the Bible. When you read in the back you will find verse after verse after verse listed. When you listen to Warren's preaching you will find simple, Biblical preaching. Nothing fancy...it just works. 

You have at your disposal a book that is certainly old and filled with some things you'll never understand. I won't either. But we can understand enough of it to transform our lives. Will you use what you have right now to change your life? You know enough right now to transform your life if you'll just do it. 

So just do it. 


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