Tuesday, May 15, 2018



THE PEACE OF AN ATHEIST 

(Monthly column for Pandora's Box Gazette)



Sunday Inspiration: The Peace of an Atheist

May 13, 2018

The Peace of an Atheist
By Billy Beasley

The year before I was offered a contract to publish The Preacher’s Letter, there was another publisher that was seriously considering publishing my story. During the process they expressed concern over my lack of social media. I have a decent following on my Facebook Author Page so I knew they were speaking of Twitter, which I really did not want to do. But with a possible publishing contract on the line I joined the masses.

On a given day if I tweet anything there are but a few viewers. But one day I made one simple tweet in response to an atheist trend. I believe it was something along the lines of, “me thinks thou does protest too much.” Suddenly my viewership grew dramatically. Of course the replies were not very favorable.

Why does it disturb atheists so much if you and I believe in God? If we believe that Jesus Christ was and is the son of God? I do not get angry with people who do not believe. But they often seem to take great offense if we believe. If they enjoyed a measure of the peace that I have with Jesus Christ, why can’t they just sit back and enjoy the peace that their nonbelief brings to them?

"The resurrection of Christ is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records." - Philip Schaff

I copied the above quote last year on social media. The lone comment was, “Agreed.” Knowing the person, I knew the intent of their sarcastic comment.

I wonder why they felt the need to respond. They are smart, accomplished, and highly successful by worldly standards. Why not just enjoy the peace and comfort that brings, leaving me to my delusions?

Because I do not believe they enjoy any peace in their belief of nonbelief. Maybe they were once wounded by religious behavior. That has turned many people off from Christianity. Perhaps if they would have dug a little deeper they might have realized that is not Christianity. Going to church does not make anyone a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes me a car. Why be angry at God for the actions of people?

A pastor once shared with me.

“Billy, Jesus did not like hanging out with religious people.”

In fact, Jesus was criticized for spending time with people that the religious people thought should be shunned.

When Jesus heard this, he told them, "It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners." Mark 2:17

We all have heard the saying that there is no atheist in a fox hole. My response has often been. “Don’t tell me when the plane starts to descend rapidly and you are plunging to certain death that you are not going to cry out to God for help.”

Another social media contact used to post of how we are foolish and unwise to believe in God. Why the need to label us as fools for the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Why not just accept a difference of belief and move on with the peace you find in your unbelief?

This same person also posted pictures of grandchildren that he obviously loved dearly. An image came to my mind. Picture the following scenario.

He is walking on a trail, hand in hand with his grandchild. There is a ravine on each side that is a precipitous drop. A slip would lead to almost certain death. He stumbles and in that misstep his grandchild falls over the edge. He manages to hold on with one slipping hand grasping theirs. His grip is loosening and that child is one second away from near death and in his moment of desperation he is not going to cry out, “God help me?”

I hope you are never in that situation but if you say to me I would not cry out for God’s help. Forgive me, but I don’t believe you.

You have every right to your nonbelief just as I have every right to believe that every human being created will speculate, will wonder about God.

My knowledge originated from my Damascus Road moment in my earlier years.

Regardless of how I ran from my calling—of how I tried to escape that night. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that God was real and for reasons I still don’t understand. He showed up one evening on a long dark road for the likes of me.

Many people did not believe me back then. Many may not today. That is okay.  I don’t feel the need to convince anyone. I was there. I know what occurred.

One of my social media friends constantly rails about religion and often in a very condescending manner to us that believe this myth of Jesus Christ.

I find it ironic that the passionate atheist acts almost religious in their belief of non-belief.

I would rather live my life believing in the hope of something and Someone waiting for me when my days are ended, than to simply exist, with no real purpose for being here, and no hope of anything beyond, disappearing like a mist that leaves no trace.


About the Author

Billy Beasley resides in Carolina Beach, NC with his wife Julie and their Australian Cattle Dog, Teke.  They are active members of Lifepoint
Church in Wilmington, NC.

Billy is the author of The River Hideaway- a traditionally published work of faith based fiction and the newly published novel, The Preacher's Letter. He shares two simple beliefs with his favorite character in this novel. Faith in God and a conviction that ‘Hearts have no color’. 

Please like his author page on Facebook. Check out his blog. Also, you can follow him on Twitter.



Friday, January 26, 2018

A Christian in Rage

I am emerging from a week long full blown rage. I have said things & entertained images of how I wanted to handle a situation that were anything but Christ like.

Maybe I could cushion this by telling you I can't recall how many years it has been since I felt this way. Don't get me wrong I can be ridiculously impatient & become agitated over the simplest of things. This was different. This was an ugly rage & my mind played unpleasant scenarios out repeatedly at such a high rate that any sleep was difficult to find. My every thought adding anger much like throwing gasoline on a fire.

I could share that if the attack would have been on me I could have shrugged it off & I could have. But when my wife is in tears over a false attack & her confidence shaken this tiny little fire began to burn in me.

The following conversation actually took place.

My faithful wife says, "You have to fight on your knees. God has my back. Read Psalms Chapter 35."

My response was- "I don't want to wait on God. I want to take care of this matter right now."

Ironically, God warned me. I believe it was two days before the event. I heard. "Be gracious to everyone." He did not say just the people who treat you fairly. He said, Everyone.

My new book, The Preacher's Letter had just been released so I assumed it was something to do with that.  The devil coming at us because the good things we prayed & dreamed about were coming & he was not  happy. But the attack came from a source that I  never expected.

My first column for Pandora's Box Gazette last year was about my year of being spiritually stretched. I was not bragging on me but God for bringing me to places I thought impossible. And in one event I took ten steps backwards. Yes, I understand there is grace even for someone who is always his harshest critic.

It is so easy to look away from God for just a moment in time. We or someone we love was treated unfairly. A relationship ended with someone you really believed in. We feel betrayed by someone we once believed in. Maybe we lost our job.So many challenges in this life.

As I read in Proverbs 25 this morning this verse jumped out & hit me in the head & though I know my limitations as a man, that being that I am not gifted to teach the word of God. I believe I have a good handle on what Proverbs 25:28  means.

A man who does not control his temper
is like a city whose wall is broken down.

Several definitions for the word wall. I chose this one. A thing perceived as a protective or restrictive barrier.

When this offense began I could have & should have pressed into God. I should have not thought about how much I wanted to fight the accuser but as Julie said so correctly, "You fight on your knees & you have not learned how to do this." 

Picture yourself in a fortified place where there is this huge solid wall encompassing you. As a fire so small that it appears to be like the pilot light on a gas stove begins to burn the wall around me. There are not fractures. It is not surmountable. But as my anger began to grow-to the point it turned to rage. My wall was being chipped away until a gaping hole knocked a portion of it down & the enemy was allowed access. Not because God was not defending me but because I turned away from Him & desired to do it my way.

We could play out this scenario in so many ways in life. We remove our eyes from the prize & we focus on money, things, entertain thoughts that can lead us to straying from our spouse. We look the other way when an injustice is done to our  brother or sister. We rationalize. "I can take this from this person because I give money to church. I am in attendance every Sunday & I read my Bible daily." That is all good. 

But how do we treat our neighbor? The people you work with? Strangers?

Matthew 22:39  ...'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Yikes, I guess this applies even if I feel betrayed by my neighbor.

It took a few days for it to sink in but a friend who heard about what transpired, while in no way excusing the person did offer, "You never know what someone else is going through."

That is true. It does not excuse the offense but it does lead me to where I should have gone to begin with. Praying over the situation. Praying for that person. Having hope that someone you once looked up to spiritually will come back & ask forgiveness. And much like Jesus is doing as I allowed anger to remove my focus for a season- my arms are open wide. I pray that happens & I believe it can. I want to believe in the goodness of people & not turn cynical & angry.

One of my favorite blogs that I wrote is about the path. I believe while not having a knock down vision from God I did have a more subtle vision that I believe derived from Him. Here is an excerpt & the link if you care to revisit or read it for the first time. I actually incorporated this into The Preacher's Letter.

I have thought about writing this blog for a week. I am glad I had the wisdom to not attempt it until I released my rage & fell back on my knees. I am not worthy of the grace of Jesus Christ but I sure am grateful for it.

Maybe next time I will fight on my knees from the beginning.

Excerpt from The Path...

I view my life as a path. Picture a huge forest with magnificent trees, plants, and the natural floor of the forest. Next picture a clear winding path through those woods.



This is my most visual image of relationship with my Father. I see us walking easily and firmly on the path. We are talking and he is holding my hand much like a Daddy would a small child. I choose at times when the path is less clear to wander off the path. Does he punish me or is he angry when I stray? No. Absolutely not. He waits patiently for me to return to our walk together. Does this mean he  pulled his spirit from living in me because I strayed off the path? No, not even for a moment.

These times when I should just rest where I am with him but choose not to and go it alone under the power of my own steam are when I feel disconnect. As I navigate through the brush and find my way back to the trail he is waiting graciously with hand held out ready to resume our walk together.



https://billybeasley.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-path.html



Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Few Thoughts at Christmas 2017

I feel very blessed to be happy & eager about Christmas. One present that is constant is my wonderful wife, Julie. She will be off work from December 22 thru New Year's Day.We have a special Christmas & Holiday Season in general planned but nothing will top simply enjoying time together.


I also look forward to unplugging from social media for a few days. The first of the year will be busy enough with the release of The Preacher's Letter on January 9.


This is a different type of blog than I usually write. It is just some thoughts to share. Please don't take them as being written to you but rather this is about us. Anything I write it is a safe bet to say that I struggle with the same, or I have at one time, or I will in the future.

1. Hate- Let's do away with this word regardless of how strongly our opinions can be.
 

2.  Church Leadership- It is easy to criticize those in leadership roles in our churches. Let's pray for our leaders far more than we find fault with them.

"Criticizing others is not a calling. What are you doing to help and serve others?"
Louie Giglio


3.Social Media- We don't have to engage in endless arguments that solve nothing. I am no different in that I read something that makes me irate & I can't tell you how many times I have typed the comment & before hitting the send button the common sense portion of my brain kicks in & I have to ask what if anything am I going to accomplish.

4. Before-  If you insist on ignoring #3 at least read & listen thoroughly before responding & verify your so called facts before issuing them. Don't use them as facts simply because they line up with your point of view.

5. Introspection- Be able to look inside & search yourself before going on the attack. I find it always helpful in any source of conflict to ask God how I might proceed. And always give yourself plenty of room to be wrong.

6. Name Calling- Don't resort to name calling just because someone does not see things the way you do.

7. Division-  We live in a very divided country. It is not the sole fault of one political party. It is the fault of both. But we don't have to allow it to divide us as a neighborhood, work place, church..etc One of my favorite quotes. We can disagree without being disagreeable.

8.Fairness-  If we could care more about being fair than being right we can really put a dent in #7. No one wins an argument.

9. One- Never underestimate what we as one person can do.

10. Kindness- It doesn't have to be something big. You never know what a kind word or smile can mean to someone who is suffering. I have suffered mightily in my life at times with depression. Trust me when I tell you how much it means when someone is kind to you. It is a light in the darkest of places. Encourage others. It is the greatest of the spiritual gifts.

11. Dismissive- Don't be dismissive of others just because it is not part of your world.

12. Understanding- Try to understand someone's viewpoint even if you disagree. Your opinion is just that. Don't mistake it for truth. Warning- This could lead to real conversation.

13. Grow- Regardless of our age- never cease trying to grow.

14. Simple- The simple things in life are truly the most valuable. A dog that insists on touching you while she sleeps. A sunset over the nearby river. The quietness of the beach that you find this time of year. Sometimes while walking Teke in the woods at the nearby State Park I will stop & just listen to the stillness. Holding hands in church or anywhere else with your spouse.

15. Peace- If you have this there is not anything I can think of that is worth giving it up for. Let the conflict go. Life is fast paced enough. Hold on to any stillness that you may be blessed enough to enjoy.
Hebrews 12:24 Pursue peace with everyone...

16. Competition- Run your own race. Don't waste time measuring yourself against others. 

17. God hurt me. No, He did not. It was probably some religious person or even a wayward church that caused the pain. Don't judge God by them. 

18.  One thing-  If there was one thing I would want people to understand about Jesus Christ. It is about relationship not religion. Your head knowledge of religion will always miss the mark. How is your heart? 

Luke 12:34

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jeremiah 29:13

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

The last scripture. It does not say you will find me by perfect church attendance. By living a certain way. By following a set of rituals.  

 


May God's peace that passes all understanding flow down on you without measure.

Merry Christmas 
Billy, Julie, & Teke


 



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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Inspiration: Christmas Reflections

December 10, 2017

Christmas Reflections
By, Billy Beasley

Christmas proves to be a time of reflection for most of us. Christmas memories tug at our heartstrings and those that are no longer with us frequent our thoughts more often.

There was a time I truly hated Christmas. It was a memory that I even wrote in a story about a character that finds his solace during the Holiday season to escape to an isolated cabin in the mountains. I never did that but I wanted to.

That is not the case now. I love Christmas. I love that my wife, Julie transforms from a woman in her forties to a small child.

The Christmas movies, songs, and shopping for the tree. The photos and picking that perfect shot for your personalized Christmas card. Yes, I am even part of one of those families now.

What stands out to me this Christmas, as I reflect back over this year and my life in general, is if you would have told me that at age twenty, thirty, or even a few years ago that my best year would be the year I turned sixty-one-I would have asked if you had temporarily taken leave of your sanity.

But it is true that while I am in the Fall of my life this has proven to be the most happy and peaceful year of my life. There are several factors that add up to this being the best one yet. One very nice luxury is that for the first time since I was fourteen years old I did not work a job at anytime this year. Julie and I decided late last year that rather than continuing to work low paying jobs that I did not really derive satisfaction from that it was better to supplement my pension with some savings and enjoy life.   

I even have enjoyed a year in which, thanks to a mild winter, I was able for the first time in my life to take pleasure in the beach days at Carolina Beach, every month of the year. I even found it warm enough to venture into the ocean on those days.

Julie and I also have enjoyed our best year of marriage. We look forward to celebrating our fifth anniversary next April by returning to the same cabin we honeymooned in. All our years have been good but this is the best.

We have fewer arguments and we know each other better. Julie would add that we have learned to fight fair. Now, if I have disappointed any of you by sharing that our wonderful marriage is not always perfect than I apologize. It is really good and I am happier with Julie than I ever dreamed I could be in a relationship.

Despite my rocky road in life in regards to relationships I am not surprised that we have such a good marriage. I took comfort going into it that we had two wonderful things in our favor. We both did not seek our happiness in each other. That is too big to put on anyone, anyone but our Father that is. He was and still is first in our lives. I also knew that we understood what was important in this life. That it was truly the simple things in life that count so much more than chasing things. The trappings of this world, be it bigger houses, fancier cars, larger bank accounts will never bring you peace and happiness. You will enjoy them for a season but soon you will desire something bigger, faster, sleeker, and younger. It is like the hamster on the wheel. Running relentlessly but winding up in the same place.

And while not being tied to a job I don’t care for, or enjoying my wonderful wife, and being free to enjoy working with our dog, Teke—she and I are in the Park woods, near our home, so much that the staff knows us by name.

Add in the unseasonably warm beach days that I have enjoyed. All of this is not the main reason for this year being the happiest and most peaceful.

It would be because this was the year I allowed God to stretch me spiritually to places that at the beginning of this year I would have said, “No way. I am not going there. I am not your man, God.”  

I would have stood by this being the best year of my life even without something occurring late in the year that has been so important for so long. The second paragraph of this column, I mentioned a character that chose to hide in the mountains during the Holidays. It is no longer just a story but a story that a publisher has said yes to. The Preacher’s Letter will be traditionally published next month.

I get out of sorts at times and my wife always wants to know why. Lately, during those times she has quizzed me. “Is it about the book?” And I can scarcely believe I can honestly answer each time, “No.” I will work at it and give it my best chance for success but ultimately God holds the final decision on where it goes or does not go and I am okay with that.

Because even if The Preacher’s Letter sells thousands of copies and is turned into a major motion film, it will not alter the following. I am happy. I am at peace. I am loved. What more does a man really require?


Meet the Author

Billy Beasley resides in Carolina Beach, NC with his wife Julie and their Australian Cattle Dog, Teke.  They are active members of Lifepoint Church in Wilmington, NC.

Billy is the author of The River Hideaway- a traditionally published work of faith based fiction. He shares two simple beliefs with his favorite character in this novel. Faith in God and a conviction that ‘Hearts have no color’. 

Like his author page on Facebook. Check out his blog. Also, you can follow him on Twitter.


You can read Billy's "Sunday Inspiration" column here at Pandora's Box Gazette the 2nd Sunday each month.