Billy's Blog
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January 23, 2018, 10:01 AM

The Risk of Investment

You hear about people who die and they find thousands of dollars hid in old coffee cans and under mattresses. The people were so afraid to invest their money that they hid it. They did not want to risk losing anything, and you could say that they didn't. But what if they invested? What if they had got a five percent return on their money for 30-40 years? That would have been quite a return, but there is a risk. They really did lose a lot. 

When you decide to invest in people you are taking a risk. You are risking that they'll reject you. You are risking that you'll get no return...they just won't respond to you. You are risking disappointment...they seem to be doing so well and then they crash and burn. I was a part of leading a recovery program several years ago, and there was such a high disappointment factor that it became a very difficult ministry. You would invest so much and see so much progress then there would a terrible crash and burn. You are tempted to decide that you will no longer invest in people. You will play it safe and just live a nice, quiet life and not bother people or be bothered by them. But Jesus asks us to do so much more. 

Jesus greatest commission to his disciples and to us is found in Matthew 28:18-20. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I was watching a video from well-known pastor and church planter, Francis Chan, and he was reminding pastors that their greatest calling is disciple-making. While pastors have a lot of duties...sermon-writing, studying, writing...our greatest mission is disciple-making. But...disciple-making is hard, and it's very risky. 

A buddy of mine who pastors  a church in Louisiana was asking a Bible study group a few weeks ago why they don't disciple people. It was silent for a while, because we both are not sure why we don't and we really don't want to admit that we don't. Finally one of the young ladies in the group said, "It's just really risky and expensive." She meant that you reach out and invest in people and spend lots of time and energy on them, and you are never really sure what will come of it. Basically what they came up with is that we do it anyway, because of two main factors. First of all, we are commanded to do this. This is not an option. Secondly, people are worth the risk. 

Why are people worth the risk? 

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that one person is worth it. That person has a soul. That one person has a God-given purpose that God needs to be fulfilled. That one person has potential that God wants to unleash. But it's not just about that one person. 

If we can help someone follow Jesus we aren't just impacting their life. What if they have a family? If we can help that one person follow Jesus then we are helping them be a better husband or wife. We are helping them be a better parent. Therefore we are helping their children. We are helping them be a better boss or employee. We are therefore having an impact at their workplace. We are helping them be a better neighbor, therefore we are helping their neighborhood and community. Your effort at disciple-making is like making a ripple that becomes a wave...the impact goes much further than just your relationship with that one person. 

So who is worth the risk in your life? Who is that person who just started following Jesus that needs someone to come alongside them and help them? Who is that person that needs your encouragement, your experience, and your friendship? 

Is it expensive? Yes. Is it risky? Yes. Is it easy? No. But it's worth it. It's worth it, because God gives every living thing value. It's worth it, because God valued you enough to send his one and only Son to die for your sins. Remember that he also died for that person that needs you. 

January 16, 2018, 4:17 PM

Throw it away

I sat down one day and watched Hoarders on TV. It did a couple of things for me. First of all, it made me feel really clean. I looked at my house and realized that we keep a really neat house compared to these people. Secondly, it also made me feel dirty. This one lady's house was so bad that she actually found skeletons of cats. Her house was so cluttered and messy that she had cats die in there and she didn't know it. NASTY! I look at those people and wonder why they won't throw away this stuff. Old magazines, old newspapers, broken stuff...just get rid of it. It's ruining your life! 

Yet I wonder what I'm unwilling to throw away in my own life. I'm not talking about broken furniture or unnecessary garage sale items. I mean things in my life that are slowing me down that I'm not willing to toss aside. The writer of Hebrews gives us a great challenge here. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

1. The great cloud of witnesses

What he is referring to is the people who are listed in Hebrews 11. These are heroes of the faith who have set a great and powerful example for all of us. When we see people who have not quit, who have overcomed great odds, and who have thrown away useless things in their life to chase better things...we can't help but be motivated. We need to be looking to people around us who can inspire us and encourage us in our lives. 

2. Thow it away

Anything that is entangling us or slowing us down needs to be put aside. Competitive male swimmers even shave their body hair to get rid of anything that might slow them down. They have taken their sport seriously and they want to win. How bad do you want to win in your life? What are you willing to give up to win? Sometimes we hold onto things just like hoarders do. They might be useless garbage, but we decide to hold onto them. It might be an addiction. It might be something that offers us security. It might be something that makes us feel better about ourselves, but is it something that is slowing you down? You really need to be honest with yourself about this. 

3. Let's go run the race

You've got a life to live. You've got things to do. You've got goals to meet. You've got a purpose to fulfill. You don't have time or energy to be wasting on things that need to be thrown off. You don't have time for worry or doubt or fear. You just done have the strength to keep holding a grudge. You need all your energy to do what God has called you to do. You've got a race to run and it requires all of your energy and all of our strength and focus. Get to running the race you've been called to run. 

4. Fix your eyes on Jesus

When you decide to throw off the unnecessary things and go run your race you will have obstacles and distractions. You will have conflict. You will have critics. You will have naysayers. You will have bad circumstances. You've got to fix your eyes on Jesus. You have to keep your eyes on him. You have to remain obedient to him even when it hurts like crazy. 

Jesus' mission was challenged many times. He even felt like giving up. He asked God if there was any other way for his mission to be fulfilled and God simply answered with silence. That silence meant, NO. Jesus had to throw off his personal, human feelings to complete the race that his Father had called him to. The same is true of you. If you are going to grow and become and the person God wants you to be you've got to be willing to throw some stuff away. 

You know what needs to go. You just need the courage to do it. 


January 9, 2018, 11:16 AM

Something More

We should do the right thing without needing any exterior motivation, right? 

We should eat right and exercise and keep our weight under control just because it's good for us. 

We should save money and spend wisely simply because it's the right thing for our finances. 

We should do our best at our jobs and our school work simply because it's what we should do. 

But don't you love being motivated? Don't you love when there's a prize for losing the most weight? Don't you love when you can get something for saving the most money? Don't you love performance bonuses at work or getting a prize from your parents for getting good grades? 

We love a little something more. 

Part of my job as a minister is to motivate. I want to motivate people to be the best they can be. One of the things that I try to do is to get people to invite other people to church. But why should I do that? I know it's the right thing to do, but I need a little motivation. I need a little something more to get me going. I need a bigger picture of why I would do this. 

1. People meet Jesus at church. 

I love the line in the movie, Forrest Gump, where Lt. Dan asks Forrest if had found Jesus. Forrest replies, "I didn't know I was supposed to be looking for him." Many people come to church looking for Jesus and they find him. If they had not come to church they would have never heard about Jesus. 

Peter Jankowski walked into our church building in St. Helens, Oregon when I was a kid. He was born and raised in the Buffalo, NY area, and I'm really not sure how he got to us. He looked pretty rough. He had long hair, a long beard, and he had one leg and he was on crutches. All I remember is looking back and seeing him walk in the door. It wasn't long after that that Peter got baptized and his life changed dramatically. He has been a pillar of that church for 30 plus years. 

Peter is why you invite people to church. They meet Jesus there. 

2. People get hope at church

There are so many who are living day in and day out without any hope. They have given up hope on their marriage. They have given up on hope on their kids. They have given up on hope on their career. They have been given up on themselves. I've talked to people who have considered suicide but heard something at church that changed their mind. I could tell you story after story of people that have come to church and have told me that something that happened there gave them hope. 

It might have been a song. It might have been a conversation with someone. It might have been the sermon or a testimony that someone gave. People walk into church buildings every week without hope and leave with something to believe in. 

3. People realize people care at church

I looked at several top 10 fears lists and I found that rejection was on almost all of them. Rejection and loneliness go hand in hand. When people come to church they realize that there are people in the world that won't reject them. They realize that they don't have to be alone. I talked to someone the other day who had moved to Washington, DC for a job and knew no one. They knew absolutely no one. I asked them what they did. How do you live and survive if you know no one at all? They said, "I went to church." This person took a 45 minute train ride and then walked another 15 minutes to get to church so they would not be lonely. The church helps peoople realize that they don't have to be lonely. 

4. People find family at church

One of the coolest things I've seen the church do for people is provide the family they never really had. I have dealt with so many who come from families that were not really families. One young lady came to church and both of her parents had been drug addicts. Her dad had been in and out of prison her whole life. When she came to the church she found family. She found a family that would support her and nurture her in a way that her really family would not. 

She was so faithful to the church, and it was because the church had been faithful to her. The church was the one group of people who had never abandoned her. She found a loving family at church. 

Jesus told a parable about a banquet in Luke 14. I really love this verse, “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full." Luke 14:23

Jesus valued inviting people, because of what you were inviting them to. Some of the last words that Jesus uttered on earth were all about going out and inviting people. Jesus knew the value of this, because if people would accept the invitation their lives could change forever. 

I know that inviting people to church can sound cliche, or boring, or downright scary. I hope that you will see the value in it and see the bigger picture. Your simple invite could change someone's life for eternity. That should be some good motivation! 

January 3, 2018, 11:24 AM

It Is What It Is

You ever said, "it is what it is." What do you mean? 

This phrase was first recorded in 1972 by James Brown in the song, Mind Power. It's been in various songs, it's been the title of a movie, and it's been uttered in movies and TV shows. I think it means that we just accept something even if we don't like it or its weird or unexpected. We may not like it is what it is. 

2018 is upon us. You might want some positive change in your life in 2108, but it will not happen simply because you flip the calendar. 2018 is merely a number it won't magically change anything. If you have the "it is what it is" attitude about 2018 you will no positive changes. Actually, I would say that you will probably find your life moving in a direction you don't like. Most things that we call accidents are not positive. we call them accidents, because the result was not intended and it was unwanted. 

If you are not purposeful and intentional about your life it will be come an it is what it is year for you. God is big on purpose. The word, purpose, is listed 36 times in the Bible. Purposed is used 19 times, and purposes is used 5 times. God does not do things on accident or without purpose. This all sounds good but how do I live on purpose and be intentional about my life in 2018. Here are some things that help me...

1. Write it down. 

I have a little white board in my office that I write down my daily goals. These are tasks that I must get done that day. I start my day at the office writing these down. When I get one done I cross it off. It's about taking action. Proverbs 19:21 tells us that we have many plans in our hearts. We all have kinds of ideas, but if we are not intentional about them and write them down and get intentional about them it won't happen. Write them down, take action, and you will feel much better about your day and your productivity. 

2. Tell someone else your plans. 

There are about 59 "one another" verses in the Bible. These verses instruct us on how to interact with each other. The point is that you were never meant to live this life alone. If you are going to be successful in making your life purposeful and intentional you have to tell others about your plans. When you bring others into your life and your plans you add accountability and support. I have friends in my life that ask me questions about what book I'm reading to grow, or what I'm doing to accommplish my goals. I know they will ask me so I better have an answer. Their support makes me accountable and pushed me to action. 

3. Commit your plans to God

Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed." I love this verse, because it gives me hope. I know that many of my purposes and plans are beyond what I can do on my own. I need the help of God and I want the help of God. The Bible tells me that I'm God's fellow and God are co-workers. That's pretty cool! I get to be partners with God in this thing called life. I'm not here all by myself with my own purposes and plans...I've got God on my side. 

4. One last thing to remember...failure is not failure. 

We can make many plans that don't succeed. We can work really hard and not get the results we desire. We can do everything the "experts" tell us to do and nothing works. Don't lose heart. Whenever I find these things happening I have realized something...God has something better for me. My plan wasn't God's plan and he's got something better for me. You job is not to know the future or control all the results...your job is to remain faithful and obedient. If your plans have failed just keep being obedient and faithful and God will give you some plans that are much better. 

I hope that 2018 is your best year yet. I pray that you will be purposeful and intentional like you've never been before. God has great stuff in store for you if you'll just remain faithful and not give up! 

December 19, 2017, 9:04 AM

Simple message that changed the world

If we are going to be friends I just have to tell you something about me right now. If you are going to tell me a story you better get to the point or you're going to lose me. I get very lost and bored in complicated and long stories full of details that I don't really need. I love a good story, but you better get to the heart of it quick or you're going to lose me. I'm not saying this is right or wrong, it's just the way that I am. 

Maybe this is why I love the Gospel. The story is so simple. It's goes like this. We sinned and separated ourselves from God. God sent Jesus to die for our sins and arise to bring us back to God. You need Jesus to get to God you can't get to God on your own. Ok, that's about it. I love it. It's a very simple message that has changed the world. 

The story of the birth of Jesus is much the same. It's a simple story. Jsseph and Mary were pledged to be married. God sent his son to be born by a virgin, this was Mary. He was born in a manger in Bethlehem, because they had come for the census and there was no room in the inn. People came from afar to worship him guided by a star. This was how Jesus entered the world as a human and changed the world. 

There are lots of details to both stories, the Gospel and the birth of Jesus, but this is the heart of it. These are simple stories that changed the world. 

I would imagine that our lives are much the same. There are things that have changed our lives that were simple. I really believe that one of the reasons I do what I do today is when my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Carlson, made me the narrator of our Christmas play. I saw that I really liked to talk in front of people...even a bunch of people. 
Maybe you have a similar story. Someone did something simple in your life that made a huge imapct. 

A teacher said something that encouraged you. 

A boss did something that made you believe in yourself. 

Your dad hit ground balls to you in the backyard. 

A book you read inspired you. 

A Sunday school teacher took extra time with you. 

The point is that simple things change the world. So here's some action that you can take to be a part of a simple message that changes the world. 

1. Remember those that did simple things to change your world.

People need to know that made a difference in your life. So many people have the idea that their lives have really made no or very little difference in the lives of others. There are people who are tempted to quit, because they don't think that they are doing any good. If you were able to send them a message today telling them how they made a difference in your life it might change their world. You just might change of lot of lives today, because you just inspired them to not give up. It's amazing what a positive chain reaction can do. 

2. Seek out ways you can make a simple difference. 

The other day someone posted on their timeline on Facebook about how joining our church has changed their life. It made my dad. I'm sure to this person it was about 30 seconds they spent that was just a fleeting thought of their day...but it made a huge difference in my life. This inspires me to find ways that I can do the same for someone else.

It might be a person I meet at Walmart today.

It might be someone I meet for lunch. 

It might be someone I send a text to. 

It might be a teenager I see today. 

I don't know who it might be, but I know I need to be intentional to make it happen. I need to be praying for opportunities to make a simple difference in someone's life today. The best way to be intentional is simply to be obedient. The reason the Gospel came to be is because Jesus was obedient to his mission even when he didn't want to be. 

Joseph was obedient to his mission even when he didn't really understand it. 

Mary was obedient to her calling even when it troubled her to do so. 

So seek a way today to take your simple message to someone to make a big difference. You may have no idea how God will use you, but just be obedient to him. He will figure out the details you just say YES. 


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