Friday, November 25, 2016

My Book is Now Available for Purchase

My book is now available for purchase. You can click on this link and go to my website to order the book. https://billylongministries.com     

You can also order the e-book at Amazon.com.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why We Tend to Misinterpret God's Discipline in Our Lives


 
This post deals with God's discipline in the life of the Christian. God disciplines us because He loves us and because we are His beloved children. It is part of His program for helping us to grow, mature, and be what He desires us to be. It is an aspect of grace, a manifestation of the love and wisdom of God in dealing with human nature, and is always for our good. It corrects (makes right) those who need to be adjusted and punishes those who refuse the correction.

Discipline is a necessity because of the fall of man and the resulting weakness of  his fallen nature. It is God's means of helping His children to appropriate grace to obey in areas where they would otherwise be unable to overcome.  ("Weakness" refers to man's proclivity to sin and to his lack of capacity to restrain corrupt desires. It has broader aspects to its definition, but which are not pertinent to this study). Romans 6:19, Hebrews 4:15-16; 5: 2.

Discipline is a subject that especially needs to be studied from a  positive and redemptive perspective. When God is correcting us we tend to see it in a very negative light and fail to see God's love and redemptive purpose in it. We see it as rejection, hate, lack of love or a displeasure that would lay us aside. This hinders us from receiving the fullness of its intended blessings and benefits.  There are a number of reasons why Christians have difficulty receiving correction and interpreting it properly:

1. Chastisement is associated with some deficiency, failure, flaw, disobedience, or sin. Therefore, we are prone to condemnation rather than conviction. Condemnation produces guilt which discourages people and hinders faith. The Holy Spirit, however, comes to convict (convince) of  sin and short-coming in order to bring repentance and change. He draws us to Himself  rather than turning us away (John 3: 17-20; 16:18). God's displeasure does not necessarily mean anger and rejection. It is difficult for people to realize that discipline is an act of love and not rejection.

2. Our perverse nature (Luke 9: 41), inherited from Adam, causes the tendency to see things twisted. It causes us to see God as "a hard man" (Matthew 25: 24). Often our perception of  God is a reflection of our own hearts (Psalm 18: 25-26).  As a result, we project onto God our own carnal reactions and attitudes. Thus we fear Him in the wrong way and think He is "out to get us."

3. The enemy accuses us in our sin and failure. He accuses us to ourselves, to one another, and to God. The purpose of his slander is to discourage us and to cause us to quit. He even tries, though futilely, to move God to reject us (Revelation 12: 10;  Zechariah 3: 1-5).

4. There is a certain stubbornness in us that sometimes finds it easier to quit than to obey.  We would rather quit than change (Hebrews 12: 6 "faint"). This is one aspect of a rebellious heart. Stubbornness will cause one to enfeeble himself and grow weary through the exhaustion that comes from clinging to his own way and  continuing to resist God, rather than changing. We dislike discipline because we want our own way.

5. Often we project onto God the nature of our earthly fathers who failed to exemplify godly discipline. Depending upon the disposition of your earthly father, you could see  God as either harsh and abusive or permissive and "letting you by with murder." Either could produce a wrong response to discipline.

6. A rebellious and unrepentant heart will by its very nature reject discipline.

A person is especially tested under discipline, and his character is revealed in how he conducts himself therein. Facing discipline redemptively leads to strength, peace, righteousness, maturity, and many other positive aspects of God's grace. Refusing discipline, or failing to break and submit to the Lord in it, can lead to spiritual disability, spiritual blindness, and failure to accomplish God's purpose. When we see God's loving hand behind it and surrender obediently to Him in it, it becomes a means of healing and growth.  Even during God's rebuke and correction, it is possible to have His presence and to know His mercy and grace. When God uses "the rod," He concludes the session the way many of us do with our own children; He sits us on his lap and loves us. However, those who resist and rebel against God's reproof and correction face serious consequences and pain that does not heal until they break and turn.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Letter Regarding Adultery


(Below is a letter I wrote to a dear friend about 20 years ago. The friend was involved in an adulterous relationship and about to leave the marriage. Names are withheld out of respect for the parties involved. I am posting this letter here because I believe there are those today who are struggling with temptation, who may be in, or about to enter a sinful relationship, and who need to read the appeal and warnings given in this letter).  ---Billy Long
 
A Letter Regarding Adultery
Dear ____
I have been wanting to communicate with you for some time but have delayed because of the awkwardness of the situation. Laurel and I have grieved over the news of your leaving [spouse]. We have been thinking about you and obviously have been very concerned. We have wanted to talk to you but have been unsure as to your potential reaction to us, and have been waiting on God's timing. I am sure you already have some idea as to what we might be saying to you, given the circumstances. But I think you know in your heart that, were the roles reversed, you would be saying the very same things to us that we now say to you. I want to assure you that we are here if you need us. We would be glad to meet with you if you would like to. Of course, you know that we do not endorse or condone your present direction. Naturally, we have very intense and strong convictions regarding what God says about adultery in His word; and we are very concerned about the potential consequences of your actions for you and others. This is a situation that will send out repercussions both temporal and eternal. So I hope you will give me your ear for a moment.
You need to read all the Bible verses on the subject of adultery. The list is long, starting with the seventh commandment, the first seven chapters of Proverbs, plus many references in the New Testament and writings of the Apostle Paul.
I call to your mind an important and relevant point: the issue of deception. I once gave a teaching in Raleigh on the subject of fornication and adultery; and followed it up with a teaching on the deception that accompanies adultery. Every Christian ought to hear a sermon on adultery at least once a year. First of all, we need to hear and understand the Biblical exhortations and commands before we fall into the problem. The Bible verses should be burned into the mind and heart before the temptation and sin begin because human nature is so prone to deception in this area. Once in the problem people tend to avoid the scriptures that speak directly to the problem. The Bible gives us a good dose of the fear of God, which helps keep us out of trouble. It reminds us that because God loves us He will discipline us. God's discipline (a “trip to the woodshed”) is one way in which God administers grace to us in our weakness. It teaches us that the eventual pain and consequences of the "sin" will be greater than the pleasures of the disobedience. The most frightening thing is when God leaves us alone to ourselves and allows us to go on in our stubbornness unhindered.
Secondly, once a person is involved in adultery it is very difficult for him or her to hear or listen to what God says about it, because the deception is already at work. When a person closes his or her ears to God's word and God's correction, he or she may eventually be given over to the sin. This is how the deception works. I once knew a married lady in Tulsa who had a boyfriend on the side. She could not decide which one God intended for her to be with, so she put her husband' s and her boyfriend's names in a hat, said a prayer for God's sovereign leadership, then drew names. She drew the boyfriend's name, left her husband and children, and ran off with the boyfriend. She had been deceived. God allowed Balaam to go with Balak but was very angry with him because his way was "contrary to God". My point is that what you are doing- leaving [your spouse] and taking up with another person- is clearly sin and adultery. It is an area for strong deception and a minefield destined to bring painful repercussions in your life as well as in the lives of your children. I hope there is still enough "life" in your spirit for you to catch yourself and turn around while you can.
You most likely have very strong opinions, rationalizations, and feelings about what you are doing, but I remind you that emotions and feelings can never be the basis for determining the will of God, especially when they contradict scripture. When the heart hardens, the spirit loses its intimacy with the Lord, and the soulish side of man (the flesh, the emotions, etc.) begins to sprout and grow. The heart can be hardened in unbelief and sin when it is not cultivated in its fellowship and obedience to the Lord and obedience to scripture.
You know all of this. What I'm saying is not new or news to you. But you have allowed yourself to step onto this path of disobedience that has become a slippery slope which now takes you faster and farther than you meant to go and will eventually cost you more than you meant to pay. The prodigal son teaches us these lessons.
I am making my appeal to you as a friend who loves you and your family. I appeal to you to turn again to the Lord, back to your family, and back to the things you have stood for most of your life. Remember the call of God, your fellowship and intimacy with Jesus, your burden for the lost world, and your cry for the kingdom of God. Think of the message you are sending to your children and your parents. Think of the fact that you are destroying and removing from underneath you any platform from which to speak in the Lord's name in the future. Remember your covenant with [your spouse] which you made before God. Turn back while the Lord's hand is reaching out to you gently and while there is still opportunity to remove any negative seed sown into the hearts of your children. Turn back before you disqualify yourself and wake up one day in the future filled with regret realizing that you have traded your birthright for a mess of pottage. Esau could not bring it back though he sought it diligently with tears. I think that you are still within that time-frame where the window of opportunity is still open. But if you go on in your current direction, you may eventually find yourself losing something you will not be able to find again.
I will conclude with one other request. I hope you will at least read the first seven or eight chapters of Proverbs. I have found these verses especially helpful in keeping me in the fear of God. They are very graphic and vivid in describing the dangers of adultery.
Again, let me say that we are here if you would like to talk. You know that we have always loved you and are willing to help now in any way we can. We pray you are open for restoration and willing to work toward the redemption of your marriage. We know God is able. If you can make it through this time and let God bring restoration to your family, to you and [spouse],the Lord is able to bring a great testimony out of this and still use you and (spouse] greatly for His purpose. I pray this will happen. Remember, the world is a mission field. People are still out there lost and dying and going to hell. You are still needed
With love and concern,
Billy Long