Billy's Blog
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December 12, 2017, 10:53 AM

The Human Spirit

I like to avoid the news, because I just feel bombarded with bad news. Murders, abuse, rape, terrorism,'s just non-stop. I just don't want to even hear any more. You hear so much negative about people that you wonder if there are any good people left. Yet at the same time I am so impressed and inspired by the human spirit. 

What sets us apart from the animals and all creation is that we are created in the image of God. In the Latin it is, imago dei, and it is the spirit that connects us with God. I also believe that it is the part of us that pushes us to survive and thrive. It's the part of us that won't let us give up. It's the part of us that pushes us to keep going even when we don't feel like it. It's the part of us that pushes us to not give up when most of us just wants to lay down and die. 

We all are tempted to give up. We want to give up on our careers when we don't get the promotions we though we'd get or it's just not what we thought it would be. We are tempted to give up on our marriage when it gets tougher than we thought it would ever be. We are tempted to give up on our friends when they disappoint us. We are tempted to give up on our church when there is conflict and problems we never saw coming. We are tempted to give up on our lives when we are dealt a blow with some serious health issue that is going to require a nasty battle. 

But you know what...we don't give up. We rise up. We battle. We fight for what we want. We fight to survive and thrive and that is that imago deo...the image of God. God has instilled this in us and it's what we cling to. 

So today if are tempted to give up...dig deep into that spirit that God has given you. It's that part of you that knows you can't give have to keep going. Tap into that spirit. 

When you feel today that you are just going to do the very least you have to do to get by, tap into that spirit that makes us want to thrive. Don't settle...give your best. Your co-workers deserve it, your customers deserve it, your students deserve it, and most importantly God deserves your very best. 

People all around us are looking for inspiration. You can inspire them just by refusing to give up and refusing to settle. You can inspire others just by showing up every day even when you don't feel like it and surviving and thriving. Show the world around you that there's a great reason to not give up and to not settle. Show the people around you that there's a great reason to not give up but to continue to battle. 

Go show the world that the human spirit is alive and well and kicking and refuses to give up or lose! 

December 5, 2017, 10:59 AM

Simple people making a big difference

Most of us want to make a difference. We choose careers because we want to make a difference. We have families because we want to make a difference. We join a church because we want to make a difference. We get involved in coaching or mentoring because we want to make a difference. 

The problem is sometimes we just don't feel like we are qualified to make a difference. We know ourselves all too well. We know our flaws, our inconsistencies, our secrets, and our failures. How in the world could we make a difference in the world and in the lives of others when our own lives are pretty messy? 

As I think about some of the great stories of the Bible I think about the people that God used. We are inching up towards Christmas time fairly quickly and I think about Mary and Joseph. They were as common as they could be. Mary was an ordinary young woman, Joseph was a blue-collar working guy. There was nothing seemingly extraordinary about them, but God chose them to be a part of the most famous story ever told. 

Moses was just an ordinary shepherd who was trying to live a quiet, unassuming life when God called him to lead the Israelites out of bondage. Four different times Moses told God he did not want to do it, and he was not the man God wanted. God would not change his mind so Moses agreed. Moses felt inadequate...he had some kind of speech problem and he had killed a man. God told him your my man so let's get after it. 

The people of Israel had been crying out for someone to help them out. They once again had fallen away from God and had been suffering because of it. Their crops were getting plundered by other groups of people and they were starving to death. God called Gideon to help save them. God called Gideon a might warrior but Gideon disagreed. He told God that he was in the worst tribe of Israel, Manasseh, and he was the worst of the worst. God used Gideon anyway and using lanterns, glass jars, and trumpets they had a great military victory against their enemies. 

If you want to make a difference in the world it's not about you being extraordinary. Many extraordinary people never really live up to their potential, because they don't feel the need for anyone else. All you need is obedience. The reason that glass jars, trumpets, and lanterns worked in defeating thousands of men is because God told them to use them and they did. They were obedient. 

We are all pretty ordinary. Most of us won't be famous. We won't ever be eulogized by famous people in front of thousands in some famous cathedral. But our lives can make a huge impact if we will just partner up with God and be obedient to what he's called us to do. 

You want to make a difference? Be like Joseph, Mary, Moses and Gideon...just be obedient.  

November 28, 2017, 8:42 AM

What do you want from me?

If you've lived for very long you've probably had someone who you could not please. It might have been one of your parents who you could never satisfy. No matter what you did it was never good enough. Maybe it was a coach who demanded from you more than you could give. Maybe it was a boss at work that was critical of your work no matter how good it was or how committed you were to it. It might have been a husband or wife that you never do enough for and it broke your heart. You have probably uttered this question, "What do you want from me?" 

This is a question out of frustration, because we can't figure out what they are looking for from us. We are giving all we can give and it's never enough. You can easily get to the point where you just want to give up. Why should we continue to try to produce the impossible? 

When it comes to God what does he really want? The Bible is a huge book full of commands and laws and decrees. The Pharisees tried to keep and enforce over 600 laws. In the midst of all the complicated theology what does God really want from me? 

I want to share a passage of scripture with you that I've always found interesting and challenging. It's found in Amos 5. 

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
    your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
    I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
    forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
    the pedestal of your idols,
    the star of your god[b]—
    which you made for yourselves. Amos 5:21-26

What is God getting at? What is he after with this rebuke? 

Remember that God was the one who had instituted all of these things...festivals, assemblies, offerings, songs, but he is telling the people to stop it. He doesn't want to hear their songs, he doesn't want their offerings, and their assemblies are making him sick to his stomach. Here's why...he didn't have their hearts anymore. 

He still had their actions, they were still doing the right STUFF, but their hearts were long gone. Their true allegiance was not to him. In verse 26 God says that they had "lifted up the shrine of their king, the pedestal of your idols". God was not only after their behavior and their STUFF he wanted their hearts. 

In the book of Revelation in chapters 2-3 we have letters written to seven different churches in Asia. John writes to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:4 that they had "lost their first love." They were doing a lot of the same STUFF, but God didn't have their heart. They had lost what they once had. 

Here's the deal...if God has your heart the rest of you will follow. Jesus said that where our treasure is there our heart will be, too. Our lives follow our hearts. If God has our hearts we will have no problem with our assemblies...our churches will be full. If God has our heart there will be no problem meeting budgets because our pocketbooks will follow. If God has our heart there will not be the division we see at times in the church, we will be working together to complete our mission. 

I'm not talking about perfection. David was described as a "man after God's own heart", but if you know anything about David you know he was far from perfect. God called a guy named Saul to lead his church. He had been one of the biggest enemies of the church, but God saw a good heart. If he could Saul to believe the truth he would have someone who would do great things. 

So does God have your heart? You are the only who knows. Does he have your allegiance or is there another god in control of your life? 

God will never ask anything of you that you can't give. He loves you the way that you are...he created you the way that you are for a reason. Just give what you have to him and watch what he does with it. 

November 20, 2017, 3:00 PM

Good find your purpose

It's Monday afternoon as I write this. Monday is a dreaded word for many people. They waste half of their weekend with dreaded anticipation just waiting to go back to a job they don't like. Mondays for me are a little different. My weekends are work weekends. Monday for me is usually a partial day of rest. It has a different purpose for me than it might for you. Whatever your Monday looks like we need to be looking for purpose in it. 

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren was a huge hit, because it dealt directly with what many people struggle with...what's my purpose? We know we have obligations and responsibilities but is there a bigger picture to what we are doing? There is, but we have to search for it. If you have read the Purpose Driven Life you will see that everyone has purpose, but specifically you have to search it for you. 

So how do I find God's purpose in my life each day? 

Romans 12:2 has a lot of wisdom in it for finding God's purpose in our life. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

1. To discover your purpose don't worry about what others' purpose might be.

God has uniquely made you to fulfill a unique purpose in your life...don't try to conform to what other people think you should be. Parents do this to their children sometimes. Dad was a doctor so the son has to be a doctor. What your parents do does not determine what you do. God wired you a certain way for a certain ok with that. The dreams and goals that you have in your life really have nothing to do with what others people have dreamt for you. You pursue God's dream for your life and don't worry about conforming to what others think you should do. 

2. Let God transform your thinking. 

If you really want to fulfill God's purpose for your life you are going to have to submit to him. A big part of this is having your mind transformed. There are several ways to do this. Read the Bible. Read other good books. Hang around godly people who can give you good direction. Surround yourself with people and with things that will help you be more like the person God wants you to be. When you do this God begins to show you your purpose. 

3. Be obedient

The great people of the Bible were not that great on their own. Moses had no concept of what God wanted to do in his life. He was striving to live a quiet, unassuming life as a shepherd when God appeared through the burning bush to call him to lead his people. Moses did not believe in himself, but he was obedient to his purpose. 

The people of Israel had been praying for deliverance from their enemies, and God called Gideon to help them. Gideon was in the tribe of Manasseh which he described as the lowly of the lowlies and he saw himself as the worst of the worst. Yet God called him to deliver his people from their enemies and Gideon was obedient. It's a fantastic story because God called him and he obeyed. 

You can discover your purpose, but if you aren't willing to be obedient to it then it's of no value. You have to have enough faith to follow through. I hope you do. 

God has a great purpose for everyone. He has a reason for creating you. I hope you wake up every day with a sense of purpose. You may not always know what it is, but I hope you are at least on a journey to discover it. 

November 15, 2017, 5:15 PM

Be the light

Last week at our youth group I talked to the kids about bullying. There were a lot of statistics about bullying. 45 of the 50 states have anti-bullying laws which is good. There are more anti-bullying efforts in schools than ever before. There are commercials against bullying and other forms of compaigns. But guess what...bullying still exists. 280,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month. 160,000 students miss school each day for fear of being bullied. 43% of students fear harassment in the bathroom at school. 

So despite all of the efforts to stop bullying it's still an issue. It's the same with racism and other forms of matter how much we adverstise against it or try to legislate against it will always be there in some form. So what do we do? 

We rise above. 

Jesus calls believers the "light of the world." (Matthew 5:16) The reason we are called the light of the world is because we are a contrast to the darkness. Part of the darkness for believers ever since Jesus roamed the earth for three years has been persecution or bullying. Christians have been bullied, persecuted and mocked for centuries. When Jesus was arrested and eventually crucified he was spit on, stripped of his clothes, made fun of...he was bullied. There will always be mean and ignorant people who make others' lives miserable. Jesus tell us to rise above. Make a difference. Be a light. Be different. 

But how do we do this? 

1. Follow the Golden Rule

In Matthew 7:12 Jesus gives us what we now called, The Golden Rule..."do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This does not come natural. What comes natural is to get others for what they've done to you or to bully or persecute. Jesus tells us to rise above by treating people in the way you want to be treated. This does not have any qualifiers. People may not always do this for you, but we are called to do it for them. This is part of the the's a contrast to what normally happens. 

2. Practice the second greatest commandment

In Matthew 22 Jesus is questioned by an expert in the law, "Which is the greatest commandment?" The Pharisees tried to enforce 636 laws so this would seemingly be a tough question, but they forgot who they were dealing with. Jesus told them there was a greatest command, love God, but there was a second commandment that was also very important. It was to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus had already defined who your neighbor was when he told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Your neighbor was anyone who needed you. So we are supposed to love our neighbors as we do ourselves. 

As we would take care of ourselves and treat ourselves we are to treat others. We are to rise above how others may act and act in this way. This is part of being the light. Being the light isn't easy, because it's about being different than the darkness around you. It's much easier to blend in, be like everyone else, and not have to rise above. But we are called to do more than this. 

No matter what is legislated, what campaigns are made there will always be bullies. There will always be mean and ignorant people who do not value people like they should. No matter how sophisticated and educated our society may seem to be there will always be racism, hate and violence. We must arise above it all. We must set the standard for how to treat people. We must show people the right way not just by campaigns or legislation but by actually doing it. 

When the church does we truly become the light of the world. 

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