Tag Archives: child

Asleep in the Boat

Jesus sleepingIt was a dark and stormy night…

Sounds like Snoopy is writing again, eh?

Seriously, the Apostles are in the boat and the wind and waves have picked up because of the storm.  Where is Jesus? Asleep in the bottom of the boat.  HOW CAN HE SLEEP DURING THIS STORM?!

There is much fear on the boat tonight.  They can’t make any headway, and the boat is in danger of capsizing. It seems perfectly logical to be afraid during such a storm in quite a small boat.

Once, when I was a boy, I was fishing on Bull Shoals Lake in North Arkansas with my grandparents.  All of a sudden a huge storm came over the lake.  Waves were crashing over the sides of the bass boat.  Rain was coming down in sheets stinging our faces.  The closest land was an island with rocks on the shoreline – no sand.  We pulled close to shore, and Grandpa put us on the bank while we rode the storm out.  We could see the boat dock but couldn’t make it there because of the ferocity of the storm on the water.

I remember being scared, but only a little, because I trusted my Grandpa.

Jesus is still sleeping.  How can he have such peace during this storm?

The disciples wake Jesus with a jolt.  “Don’t you care if we drown?” They were in the boat with the Creator of the universe, but they didn’t understand. The didn’t yet know the true identity of the One who could sleep during a fierce storm.

Jesus got up and said, “Peace. Be still.”

That’s what I want in me – peace.  Don’t you?

The apostles were afraid because all they could see was the power of the storm they were in at the moment.  They had more trust in the storm than in the One sleeping in the bottom of the boat.  It shocked them that Jesus was able to take charge of the storm the way He did.  Then Jesus scolded them. “Oh you of little faith.  Why are you so afraid?”

Why are you so afraid?

We are afraid because in the storms of life, even though we claim allegiance to the Father, we still struggle for control and therefore put our trust more in the storms than in the One who is bigger than the storm. We put more trust in the chaos than the Creator.  We put more faith in what we see than our Father who loves us and has promised “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

When we find our identity as children of God, of the Father, of Abba (daddy), then what can stir our peace?

Think of the baby sleeping in his or her father’s arms.  Isn’t that peace?

Jesus said that unless we become like little children we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are little children when we put our trust in our Father instead of the storm.  He’s bigger than any storm you can experience.  He may not take you out of the storm, but He promises to bring you peace and comfort through it as you trust in Him and listen to the Spirit living within you.

The more I surrender my selfishness to a life filled with the presence of the Father the more I find peace.  If you want that peace, you can find it too.  If you want to discuss this more feel free to let me know.  I’m always interested in helping others along this path we walk together.  Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near…and life in the Kingdom is so much more fulfilling.

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The Secret to all Relationships is no Secret

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I want you to think of someone you know. This is a person you really love deeply. It may be a spouse or child or long-time friend. Why do you love them? You share so much with one another. Sure, they make mistakes, but you overlook those because of all the positive you see in that person. You love them because they continually live up to your expectations, or even better, you have no expectations of them at all – you just love them for who they are.

Now I want you to think of someone you can’t stand and you don’t love. Why don’t you love them? Do they not share the same vision for life as you? Do they continually make mistakes that you think are so simple to avoid? Do they not live up to your expectations? Do they offend you or do things that hurt you? Do they hurt the ones you love?

Both kinds of people are very real in your life. Each of us have friends, children, relatives, coworkers, and even spouses that fit into one of the two categories. Either we love them unconditionally, or we don’t.

Our world paints such a skewed vision of love. It is destroying our relationships every day. This kind of love is based on self-gratification. If you love someone just because they are good to you, or you hate someone because they are bad to you, both reactions are selfish in nature and therefore neither will lead to love. 1 Corinthians 13, when defining love, says it is not self-seeking.

Not every relationship will be awesome. You will have coworkers you will have to put up with, but you are called to love them anyway. Your children may reject you, but for most parents there is not even a question as to whether or not you love them. You have acquaintances you can’t avoid because they are friends of your friends, but not avoiding them is not edge same as loving them.

Marriages today are the most susceptible to demise based on this non-love that is being taught. We are constantly shown images of fairy-tale like relationships where both parties are blissfully happy forever. Not all marriages will be like this, and you need to know that it is ok. Your marriage doesn’t have to have all the movie-like bliss, but it does have to have love.

Love overlooks the bad. Love doesn’t get angry easily. Love doesn’t hold a grudge. Love doesn’t seek self first. (See 1 Corinthians 13 again)

How are you treating those you don’t like? Are you thinking about those definitions of love? Are you loving them unconditionally?

Jesus loves us in just that way. The bible says that while we were still enemies of God Jesus loved us so much that he died for us (Romans 5:6-11). Did you get that? We were the people who were unloveable, and for the most part we still are! We still sin and do what is against God’s will for us daily. We still don’t love those who are God’s children.

We don’t deserve the love God gives to us, but He loves us anyway. He asks us to love one another in that same way.

Imagine what it would be like to love like that. Imagine loving your coworker despite his annoying and offending personality. Imagine loving that homeless person even before you get to know them. Imagine loving your spouse despite all their countless flaws.

Oh, and loving them doesn’t mean just putting up with them. Loving them is serving them and doing what’s best for them and speaking health and beauty into their lives.

When we love like this then the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus (John 13:35). Then the world will want to know more about the love we’ve been shown. As long as we pick and choose who we love and let our emotions drive our decision (or indecision) to love, then we have no witness in this world for that is not how God treats us daily. He always loves us no matter who we are or what we’ve done, and He proved it by the cross.

Who do you need to love? Is it a spouse or coworker or neighbor? Will you join with me in choosing to love them in spite of them? That’s what God wants – love for love’s sake – not for our sake.


No More Absent-Minded Parenting

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Since I was a teenager I’ve wanted to be a dad. I didn’t want to just produce offspring, I wanted to be a daddy who spends time with his children and loves them and teaches them.

In our world today the species of daddy is becoming more and more scarce. Our children are having increasingly difficult problems developing into healthy adults because of the lack of a father. It is an epidemic. I don’t want to be a part of that epidemic.

When each of my children was born I was overjoyed. When my oldest was born, I cried the moment I heard her sweet voice. Through the years those sweet innocent cries have turned into a beautiful singing voice. She is now 14 going on 25 and I can not be more proud of the young lady she is becoming.

This coming weekend the culmination of 14 years of teaching and caring will finally come to a time of celebration. My daughter is about to begin a new phase of life that will change her forever. She is making the biggest decision of her life, and I couldn’t be more proud. No, she’s not getting married, she’s getting baptized.

If I am a good dad and spend all my time with my children, if I love and dote on them and teach them all the morality I can, and if I show them how to be good people but don’t show them the way of salvation through Jesus of Galilee then I have been an utter failure as a dad.

My goal in life for my children is not to help them get the best job that pays lots of money or marry the right person to spend the rest of their life with. My goal is to help them find Jesus so that no matter the outcome of their life they will have peace and joy and eternal life through Him.

It’s as Jesus said, “what good is it if a man gains the whole world yet loses his soul?”

If you are a parent, then you have a responsibility to your children. Let’s stop this epidemic of absent-minded parenting. Let’s re-evaluate our goals for our kids.

If you haven’t given your life to Jesus, then that’s the place you need to begin. It’s ineffective to say “do as I say but not as I do”. You want your kids to have the best life ever? Then bring them to Christ who has promised to work all things out for the good of those who love Him.

If you want to know more about giving your life to Christ, then I’d love to visit with you. God bless you as you lead your Children in the Way of Life everlasting.


Why Do We Do Good?

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“I don’t do good works to be saved; I do good works BECAUSE I am saved.”

Have you ever heard that phrase? Chances are that someone has said this either to you or in relation to some church they feel are teaching a works-salvation theology. I’ve heard this more times than I can count used to explain the relationship between works and salvation.

I’m not so sure this cliché really gets to the heart of this matter.

First of all, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” This passage definitely rules out the works as being part of our salvation, or does it?

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 gives the most popular definition, but for me it’s still a little vague. When you study faith in the scripture it is more than belief. Belief is a thought or emotional connection about something. It is a conviction, but until it has an action tied to it, it is not faith. Faith is being so sure of you what you cannot see that you act on what you cannot see. Faith by its very nature is active. According to James, faith without deeds is dead. Is this a contradiction? No.

When I come to faith in God and give my life to Him I have to make some pretty major life changes. Anyone whose life has not been changed since coming to Christ has not truly been “converted” to anything and their salvation is suspect for Christ is ever working in us through His Spirit to make us more like Him. In order to have faith I must begin to act on the knowledge that God is real and I truly have been saved from my sins. The natural outcome of this is love for God. And love is always an action when it comes to God and others (love of ice cream is action too but altogether different).

When I begin to see the scope of love from God to me, then I am faced with just how unworthy of that love I really am. It is only when I come to that reality that I begin to love others as I have been loved. To love God is to love those whom God loves.

This brings me to my second thought regarding the cliché above. every time I have heard this phrase it has been in a setting where someone (at times me) has been trying to explain to someone else that they have an obligation out of their salvation to do good works to others. Even though I have always felt this to be extremely shallow I have been caught up into teaching this technique as well. There is a hint of truth here, but it misses the beauty of salvation and doing good by a long shot.

If you told me it was your birthday then ordered me to give you a gift, then it wouldn’t feel much like a gift when you received it. Or if I gave a gift to my daughter and told her, “well, your mother said I have to give this to you – it’s my obligation as your dad.” What would her reaction be? I am afraid it would be the worst gift ever for it wasn’t given out of love.

We are definitely called, as Christians who have been saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus, to do good works. Those good works are evidences of our faith. But if I am doing them out of a sense of duty, then they aren’t benefiting me or anyone else.

I don’t do good works because of an obligation due to my salvation. I do good works because God has loved me beyond my worth and comprehension. As I see His love and begin to realize that love, then I love Him back (the first and greatest commandment according to Jesus). Then, as that relationship of love grows I learn to see others through God’s eyes and love them as well (the second greatest commandment).

I don’t do good works to be saved. I do good works because God loves me, and I love Him, and I love others as well.

If you can’t accurately make that confession about yourself, then you are going through the motions. Over and over the bible condemns such actions. God would rather you be silent than lie to him in song. He would rather you keep your money than give it in frustration out of a sense of duty. But most of all, he would rather not have to worry about any of that because you are absolutely in love with Him and His creation.

I hope that the next time you hear this phrase it will spur you to remember this article. I hope you are passionately pursuing relationship with God. I hope you are loving people out of compulsion rather than out of duty – you can’t help love them because of the love-relationship between you and God.

If you haven’t begun your love-relationship with God where He has taken away your sins and given you His perfection, then I’d love to discuss any questions you may have regarding making that happen. It’s up to you. Last Friday 12 people unexpectedly died. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Don’t put off your relationship with God through Jesus another day.

If you have been going through the motions, then Jesus is calling you to come back to your first Love. The most wonderful thing about Jesus is that He has never left you; He has been there the whole time waiting for you to desire Him again. If I can pray with you or help you come back in any way please let me know.

You can reach me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. You can even comment on this article or any previous articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org.

God bless you as you do good in His name and for His sake.


“Woo Hoo” was the Word of the Evening

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The other day I took my kids to a local retreat center just north of town called Ashwood Palms to do some fishing in their ponds. My son has been asking me to take him fishing there since the last time we went which was about six months ago. When I told him our plans for the evening he was jumping up and down and shouting “WooHoo!”

We made all the necessary arrangements including a trip to Walmart to buy night crawlers. Then we got our gear together and made sure we had a snack for the venture. After that it was off to the fishing hole.

Our outing wasn’t about any particular type of fish. We weren’t even concerned with size. My hope for my son and my daughter was that they would simply catch fish, and lots of them.

They did just that! When they’d hook a fish there would be such excitement it heir little voices, and “WooHoo” seemed to be the word of the evening! Azariah and Sophia were congratulating each other like good sports. It didn’t matter that the fish they were catching were only inches long; they didn’t care about size. They were just excited to have the opportunity to fish and be catching.

I love seeing an excitement for fishing growing in the lives of my children.

There was once another group of fishermen who showed enthusiasm for their ventures. The group was Peter, Andrew, James, and John. They had heard John the Baptizer teaching in their area and had become followers of his, yet they had not neglected their duties as fishermen. The story that many people remember about this group is when Jesus told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat after they had caught nothing all the night before. When they did this they caught so many fish in one cast that they had to get a second boat to haul in all the fish.

They were excited. But this wasn’t the first time they had been excited in the presence of Jesus. When Jesus met Andrew, he was so excited about who Jesus was (the Messiah) that he ran to tell his brother the good news. When Jesus met another future disciple named Philip, it made him so excited that he ran to tell Nathaniel. This was the same guy that we read about later in the book of acts studying with an Ethiopian Eunuch.

These men were excited about Jesus, and he called them “Fishers of Men”.

I tell those stories because they have direct implications to each of us. In Matthew 28, Jesus commanded his disciples to “go and make disciples, baptizing them.” But he also gave them the charge to “teach them everything I have commanded you.” The disciples obeyed. A little over 50 days after the resurrection, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began to preach. 3000 people were baptized that day, and the process of disciple making started.

We know that this command to “make disciples…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” was fulfilled through the disciples of Jesus. In 2 Timothy 2:2 we read discourse between Paul and Timothy, one of Paul’s disciples. He encourages Timothy to teach others who can then teach others. In that one verse four generations of disciples are represented.

Let me make one thing clear: this command is for each one of us.

The Christian music group Casting Crowns sings a song, “Here I Go Again” that has these lyrics: “here I go again talkin’ ’bout the rain and mulling over things that won’t live past today, and as I dance around the truth time is not his friend. This might be my last chance to tell him that You love him.”

The song is giving a great description of how we treat evangelism every day. Time after time we are presented with chances to talk to our friends and relatives about the love of Jesus, but instead we talk about the rain or work or kids or fishing or anything other than the saving message of grace in Christ.

I know all our reasons for shying back, but my question is this: if Jesus’ disciples were to make disciples that did the same things that they did, then if we aren’t spreading the message of Christ then can we really say we are disciples of Christ? This was a command, and it wasn’t “go make disciples, baptizing…and teaching some to obey.” This was a blanket statement for all of us.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all saw evangelism with the same kind of “WooHoo” excitement my children have for catching inedible fish?!

The story is told of an older man who went down to the beach after a storm to gather shells. When he got down there he found the sand littered with starfish. As he walked along in amazement at the sheer numbers he saw a lone child tossing starfish back in the sea. “Why are you doing that? There are so many you’ll never get them all! What does it matter? Why try?” The boy was unfazed, and as he picked up another starfish and tossed it back in the ocean he said, “it mattered to that one.”

Instead of being overwhelmed with numbers like the population of the earth or probability statistics, we are called to have the childlike enthusiasm that my children have. I know we can have that kind of enthusiasm too! Every time we see our child do something great we tell others with that kind of enthusiasm. Every time we get a new gadget we show it off with great enthusiasm.

You have been given life eternal through Christ regardless of your past. It was given to you freely with your baptism. Your friends and neighbors don’t have that gift, and they’re dying in their sins. You have the cure. Will you not tell them? Will you not offer them healing?

May we be people who re-evaluate our attitude toward the salvation we have received. May we then become downright giddy as we thank God for his saving grace, and may we be people who just can’t keep it in.

After the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when 3000 people were baptized into Christ the excitement was so prevalent that it took them only approximately a year to spread the message to the entire known world. When we catch this fire in this day when we are more connected than ever through texting and Facebook and twitter, we will change the world quickly as well. Let’s do just that!

If you have any questions or comments regarding this article, you can email me at jddobbs@verizon.net or call me at the office at 245-1611. You can also read all my previous articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you, and spread the Word!


Parents, Please Read Part Two

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It’s that time of year again, time for the yearly – as I heard one mom recently call it – “bikini battle”.

Last week, when we were on our camping trip, I took our group to Pedernales Falls State Park. We explored around the falls in the morning, then went over to the swimming area after lunch. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining, and the temperature was over 80°. For early march this was above normal for the hill country of Texas, but we were enjoying it.

On the way to park at the trailhead that leads down to the swimming area we had our own “bikini battle”.

I had already declared that anyone who had a bikini would have to wear a t-shirt over it while they swim for modesty’s sake. Then I was asked about tankinis. If you’re not familiar with that – it’s a more modest bikini. Then I was asked if the guys could go without shirts. Finally the decision was made – if one group has to wear a t-shirt, then the rest of the group can wear them to make it fair to everyone.

I got a mild groan out of that decision.

It wasn’t long before we were strolling down the trail to the water where everyone had a great time. We waded the rapids. We splashed and dunked each other. We even swam, and everyone had a grand time. I didn’t hear one complaint from anyone about having to wear a t-shirt. They were having too much fun to care.

Every year I question whether or not this battle is worth fighting. Sure, I can control their modesty when they are with me, but they are going to go to the beach with their friends, and who knows what they’ll be wearing then?!

Parents, this article is primarily for you. You still have these kids living in your home. You. Have been given the right by God Himself and the responsibility to guide your children in all areas of their life as they continue to develop the ability to make good choices.

Our culture has pushed sex and the sexualization of the human body to limits beyond what is healthy. When our teens are looking for swimsuits to wear at the beach and other places their mind goes to “what will make me look hottest”?

Parents, if you have a teenage boy, the statistics show that he has probably seen pornography, and now more than ever, the chances show he may even be addicted. If he has access to mobile Internet on an iPhone, iPad, or android phone then the chances of him accessing pornography on a regular basis go up.

There have been a couple of times over the last year or so when I went up to a teenager and simply said “when are you going to quit looking at the porn?” I didn’t know whether or not they were, but I knew that the chances said they were. In each case the teen didn’t deny it. In fact, their demeanor changed as if it was a weight that had been lifted that an adult finally knew.

I talk about guys and pornography (female viewing or porn is on the rise as well) because it changes the way they view our daughters. If your daughter is wearing something that shows more skin than it covers up, then what do you think is going on in the mind of these boys? Most bikinis cover less than the normal underwear that a girl would wear. They won’t go out in public in their underwear, but they’ll go out in a bikini.

When our girls are scantily clad they are sending a message about who they are. It sends the message that sexuality is prevalent in their thinking. It sends the message that they are interested in guys drooling over their bodies. To many guys it sends the message that they are an easy score. I’m not even going to talk about the fact that the teen guys aren’t the only ones that see them. What about the sexual predator that is on the same each or at the same lake. That reason sees your daughter as well.

My daughter knows our rules about modesty in swimwear, and she doesn’t fight it. She knows we are doing it so that her inner beauty is shown more brightly. We don’t even let her wear pants with words on the buttocks because we don’t want attention to be drawn to that area. She doesn’t wear tight fitting clothing.

One teen girl magazine tried to help its readers see this recently with an article that declared that boys think that. “modest is hottest”. I appreciate the effort of this magazine, but I don’t even want my daughter to be regarded as “hot” because it’s a sexual term. Sure, I’m a protective father, but I love my daughter and want her future husband to know that she was kept pure. I want him to know her for her inner beauty and not be focused on her outer beauty.

When the inner beauty is the focus, then the relationship lasts much longer.

This isn’t just a suggestion from me, a dad and youth minister. It is a directive from the apostle Paul to his young preacher, Timothy. I Timothy 2:9 says, “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety…” Paul doesn’t want homes to dress like prostitutes. If you look at the trends, many women today go to church on Sunday wearing less than prostitutes did in the days of Jesus.

Let’s start a trend of modesty.

Mothers and fathers, may you set the standards for your children in the area of modesty. May they be raised to have a healthy self-image that sees that they really are beautiful, and they don’t need to dress a certain way to show that. May you help them overcome pornography and it’s influences – even the pornography that is on television and in movies. And may the generations coming up change the direction of the sexualization of America.

If you have any comments or questions about this or any other issue, please feel free to call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. You can comment on this article directly at http://www.mrdobbs.org where I keep all my articles. God bless you, and have a great week!


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