Friday, October 26, 2018

Getting Out of the Way

My wife, Julie, has been faithful in her walk with Jesus for most of her life. I on the other hand, have spent decades chasing my own desires and in the process shook my fist at God in anger for much of it. I wanted what I thought I needed first without Him because deep down I trusted myself to know what was best for me far more than I trusted God.

One failed relationship after another and I still sought what I desired the most.

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

I quoted this often back to God but like it often is with some of us we leave a key word out. In this case the word is delight. I asked two men that I respect what that term meant to them.

Kim: Dwelling contently and assuredly in His grace, mercy and love.

George: I think of how blessed I am that I have a close relationship with the Lord and that I find favor with Him and I can delight in knowing that He has found favor in me.

I was not experiencing this kind of delight because I continued to place myself first but early in 2012 I took a big step. There was no altar call or raising my hand in church to signify my coming home. I was driving on College Road when I simply stated this truth.

"Lord, I have messed up everything I have touched. I will follow you, even if it means it is not what I want." It was simple and it was sincere. My image of that moment is God calling the host around His throne and saying, "Okay, let's go to work. I have his attention."

Later that year, Friday, October 26 my life was altered with a first date. Julie and I had talked about getting together for coffee previously, but I never followed through. At the time she was 38 and I was 55.

It was a lot of age difference to me. I was dooming it as a failure before I even took a chance but each time we talked the conversations were so easy. But I kept thinking there is no way that this young, pretty, genuine, warm, woman had any real interest in me. Today, I joke with her that Match.Com would have never matched us up.

We met at Hugh Macrae Park by the pond area. Three hours later she asked what time it was. Three hours that seemed like  thirty minutes. Coffee led to lunch. It was almost five that afternoon when we parted ways. Today it is referred to as the, "Seven hour coffee."

We laugh today often about that first date. It was a beautiful fall day. Julie says the time by the pond was like a movie scene with the director saying cue the leaves falling and the rustling sound of the ones already on the ground. The ducks walking by.

We parted that day and Julie said, "If you ever want to do this again just call me."

I drove home and whispered to God. Is this it, Lord? I was finally at a place where I did not want to charge down any road that He was not part of. Before I made it home to Carolina Beach, Julie had sent a text. "This was the best day I have had since I can't remember." I tease her about playing hard to get but we never played games with each other.

We went to lunch two days later after church and again spent the afternoon together. But it was the following day, on our third date that God did something that I was most grateful for.

Back in May of that year, while I was in the shower, I heard as clear as day. "Get your house in order." I had no idea what it meant and in time I kind of forgot until that day of our third date.

We had met at Carolina Beach State Park and hiked to Sugarloaf. Later at my house, she was sitting at the kitchen table when I recalled what was spoken that day in the shower. I shared it with her. Her eyes grew distant and she said nothing until she said adamantly, "Say that again, just like you said it the first time."

I did and she began shaking her head. "Does that mean anything to you?" I asked.

"I have heard that same thing multiple times lately." She held back one little detail. Later, when we were secure in our relationship and where it was going. She said when she in frustration asked, "What does that even mean, Lord?"

She heard this. "Because the man I have for you is coming and he is coming quickly."

God was not telling us to run out and get married immediately. We had to walk things out. We had to share and at anytime we could have said this is not for me. But what I know without doubt is that God was saying, "If you merge these two paths to one. I will be with you."

The pressure was off. This would not be a mistake. God was showing us that He would be with us. It was okay for us to fall in love and boy did we fall in love. More so with every passing day.

Sometimes in the quiet of night as Julie sleeps soundly, I will look at her and I can't believe that God sent someone into my life that not only loves me when all is well. I have had that many times. She loves me when that dark hole starts pulling at me. She fights for me. She sees more good in me than I ever do.

And as I whisper my thanks to God. I thank Him also for the broken relationships that I thought I needed so badly. I thank Him for the heartache, as difficult as it was. Because Julie, exceeds all the dreams I ever had in a woman. And that is no small feat.

Happy Anniversary, Baby. I know you forgot this date again. Our wedding date is the anniversary that is most important to you but I think I will keep October 26 as mine.

The day it all changed.


P.S. As for the past and the heartache. As Rascal Flatts sang, God Bless the Broken Road.

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you
That every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
Yes it did
I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true
Every long lost dream led me to where you are
And others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know it's true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
And now I'm just rolling home
Into my lover's arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
That God blessed the broken road
Ooh, ooh
That led me straight to you

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


(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.