Tag Archives: christ

Modern Day Sanhedrin

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Have you ever heard of Passion Play Ministries International? It is an organization that tells the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus to thousands of people in many nations and cities in the US and around the world through a live-action drama. The play is a large production with hundreds of people in the cast and part of the crew. The headquarters for this ministry is in Farmington, NM of all places. Yet, with such a humble headquarters location they are doing great ministry in spreading the gospel of Jesus around the world.

I was privileged to get involved with the Passion Play of the Four Corners last year for the first time. My wife saw an ad somewhere stating that they needed singers, and that is something I love to do, so I decided to join. I was part of the choir last year and sang in the opening song as a trio with a couple other ladies. I was also the host pastor for a night where I got to lead the opening prayer and then invite people to respond to the gospel message at the end.

It was an amazing experience, and I can truly say they are changing lives – not only lives in the audience, but even lives within the cast and crew itself.

This year I went back to audition, and I was told that the choir was going to be practicing on Tuesday evenings. Well, I am solidly booked on Tuesdays with my position as den leader for the local cub scout pack, so I decided to do some reading and see if God wanted to use me for a speaking part this year. Apparently He does. I was told that night I was to report to the Sanhedrin block when rehearsals began.

The Sanhedrin? I was to be one of the bad guys who connived to have Jesus crucified. These were the legalists that had missed the heart of the message of the Messiah and therefore missed Him when He came to them.

Oh well, if that was where God wanted me to be then so be it. I began to read, and after a few nights the director of the Sanhedrin block of the cast informed me that he wanted me to play the part of Caiaphas. Really? Not only was I going to be a bad guy, but I was to be the worst one – the High Priest!!

As I have been learning my lines and preparing for my role it has really weighed on my heart the severity of the role I must play. I have to be angry at Him. I have to accuse Him. I have to reject Him. I have to be all the things I preach against each week as I minister. Sure, this is only a play, but the weight of the things, I must sa,y hang no less heavily on my heart.

The one idea that keeps coming back to me, though, is this: The religious leaders of the day – the Sanhedrin – rejected Jesus and everything He stood for because they didn’t understand Him, and they were threatened by His doctrine as they saw it required a change in their way of life and livelihood.

Don’t we do the same thing?

Don’t we reject Jesus as we decide day after day to give in to our selfishness instead of allowing Jesus to reign in our lives and call the shots? Don’t we ignore Jesus as we get caught up in our lives or even worse, our religion? Don’t we reject Him as we feel that following Him would require a change of lifestyle that will threaten our comfort on every level, even fincially? Are we not just as guilty as the Sanhedrin?

When Peter preached the first sermon about Jesus in Acts 2, he finished by saying, “You, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross…God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:23,36)

That verse is for us too. We crucify Jesus when we put our selfish desires above His. What does Jesus require in response? Repentance and Baptism (Acts 2:38). When you understand what you’ve done and keep on doing to Jesus it should bring about remorse that leads to repentance. When you see what He has done for you by willingly dying for you in spite of your rejection it should inspire a desire for allegiance to Him that leads you to baptism.

Don’t stay like the Sanhedrin. News is that even Caiapha, after the resurrection, became a follower of Jesus. It’s not too late for you to follow Him either.

If you would like to know more about Passion Play Ministries International you can find them on the web at www.passion-play.org.

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What is the church of Christ?

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For over a hundred years there have been churches that refer to themselves as the Church of Christ. These churches have that sign on the door or out by the street, and many people recognize that there are certain things that make these churches unique.

However, the name that is used was never meant to be a name. It is and has always been a description of the people. The people are the church that belongs to Jesus, the Christ (Romans 16:16).

So what does the church that belongs to Jesus look like? The following is a list of ideas that Jesus presented which should be attributes of his followers. I encourage you to read this with your bible open following along with the passages referred to.

What is the church of Christ?

The church that belongs to Christ understands its need for forgiveness and is anxious to be able to extend that forgiveness to others. It is not a church that holds grudges. (Matthew 6:14-15)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks the Holy Spirit in the lives of each believer. They follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives as they live each day – not just on Sunday. This creates within them a fire, a passion, as they experience life in the presence of God who lives within them. (John 14:15-17, 26-27)

The church that belongs to Christ understands that belief in Jesus and connection with Him in baptism (immersion) are essential to salvation. They don’t try to argue this away. They accept it and are willing and eager to follow Jesus’ instructions and example in this manner. (Mark 16:15-16)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that unity with one another is essential to life in Him. They believe that this unity is key to their ability to evangelize to the world. They are not known for their division. (John 17:20-21)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that faith is essential to a person’s ability to follow Jesus. They recognize where their faith is weak and ask Jesus to strengthen their faith through the Spirit at work within them. They understand that without this faith it is impossible to please God. (Luke 17:5-6)

The church that belongs to Christ is a praying church. Prayer is seen as powerful and necessary to the connection and relationship between the church and God. They understand that it is through prayer that much of the power of Christ is released upon the world around them. They follow Jesus’ example of being constantly in prayer. (Luke 5:16; 11:1-13)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that He has called each one of us, no matter our past, to evangelism – to tell others about Him. This is not just the preacher’s job, but it is the role of each follower. A follower excited about his or her Savior cannot help but tell others about Him. (Mark 5:19)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that communion – partaking of the body and blood of Jesus – is essential to the life of the believer. They believe it is in communion with Jesus that relationship with Him is fostered as often as it is taken. (John 6:53-56)

The church that belongs to Christ doesn’t make it a practice to stand in judgment of others. They are accepting of all people because they recognize that all have sinned, and everyone has need for the same Savior. (Matthew 7:3-5)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks the reign of God, His kingdom, in their lives each day. This is not relegated to once or twice a week in a certain building but is shown by a lifestyle devoted to following God in every decision and action daily. (Matthew 6:33)

The church that belongs to Christ is full of flawed people who haven’t got it all figured out. They are broken people who are trying their best to allow God to change them, but it is a daily process, and some days are better than others. This creates an atmosphere of equality among all people regardless of race, age, gender, or class. (Matthew 9:12-13)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks to obey Him in all things. They see their obedience as part of their faith. (John 14:15)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks to show mercy and grace to all whom they come in contact with. They understand that they have been shown mercy and grace by Jesus and seek to reflect Him to others. (Matthew 5:7; 9:13)

The church that belongs to Christ is in the business of disciple-making. They aren’t interested in merely inviting someone to a weekend service. They want to help one another grow in their understanding and ability to follow the teachings of Jesus. (Matthew 28:18-20)

The church that belongs to Christ is compassionate. They seek to show that compassion in the world around them and seek nothing in return. (Luke 10:33-37)

The church that belongs to Christ is generous because it understands that everything it has has been given by the One who owns everything. It understands that the money and possessions it acquires are to be used to glorify God by helping others. It gives generously as an act of worship. (Mark 12:42-44)

The church that belongs to Christ focuses on what Jesus said are the most important ideas: Love God and Love your neighbor. This church is recognized by its love. The world all around knows there is something different about the church that belongs to Jesus because it loves like no other entity does – masses of followers banding together to be an example of love to everyone around them. (Matthew 22:35-40)

The church that belongs to Christ doesn’t worry about names on building or denominational association. This church is boundless. It has no borders. It is found in every church as people claim allegiance to the Savior who died and rose again. (John 10:16)

The church that belongs to Christ follows Jesus. No. Matter. What. (Matthew 10:38; 16:24-26)

This is the church of Christ. It’s not a name on a building but a way of life. It is all people who choose to follow Jesus – his examples and his teachings. Are you a part of that church?


Believers, Demons, and Christians. Oh my!

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Are you a Christian? What does that mean?

There are all kinds of Christians in the world. Some are republican and some are democrat. Some are one kind of denomination and some are another. Some Christians go to war and some don’t. Some Christians use hate and fear-mongering to persuade people to Christ, and some don’t.

People who go by the term “Christian” have done all sorts of things in the name of their religion. They have killed and enslaved and rationalized and warred and devalued all in the name of Jesus.

But are they really Christians?

Some people say they are Christians, but they’ve never been baptized. They claim to believe in Jesus. They may even have said some prayer, but does that make them a Christian?

The bible says that even the demons believe. Does that mean demons are Christians?

Jesus said whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Where’s the sinners prayer there? By the way, some people use a different verse that talks about the confession of Jesus as Lord and say that means that baptism isn’t necessary. As best I can tell I have to look at all of the bible and not just one or two verses. When Jesus defined salvation he talks about belief (the first step) and baptism (the marriage ceremony).

If you’re reading this and you haven’t begun your walk with Jesus by being united with Him in baptism, then what are you waiting on? I’d love to talk with you more about that. It’s not magical or hard, but when you realize what’s going on there, you will see that it is beautiful.

Ok. Ok. Ok. So some of you have been baptized. Does that make you a Christian?

Jesus calls us to follow him. Does your life reflect his? I’m not talking about looking at his rules and regulations; I’m talking about his life. What characterized Jesus? Does that characterize you?

So many people pay attention to all the rules of Christianity. They obey them well, but they’ve missed out on two key attributes of the first people who were ever called Christians.

1. They were super excited and everyone around them knew it. Who could blame them? They had just been saved from themselves. All of their junk and baggage and mess-ups and hang-ups had been forgiven by the Messiah. Even better – they were considered children of God! They could have relationship with God! They weren’t treated like prisoners waiting to mess up so that they could receive the chopping block. They were free – totally free – from all that hinders them: traditions, illness, legalism, oppression, worry, selfishness, sin! Sure, they still dealt with those things reflected in others, but they were no longer hindered. They were set free, and they lived free.

2. In their excitement they loved intensely. They loved those in their towns. They loved the slaves and women and children in a time where those groups were ostracized. They loved the tax collectors who were considered by their fellow citizens as traitors. They loved the people who ruled over them even though it was an oppressive regime. They loved in ways that made them stand out from the world, and the world responded.

Sometimes their love and excitement would create conviction in the hearts of those around them. These Christians weren’t standing on street corners yelling “Turn or burn!” They were loving everyone – even the unloveable. Their love showed up in stark contrast to the selfish lives of all those around them. So this love and excitement brought harsh persecution, and you know what? The Christians rejoiced even in their persecution! Nothing could get them down.

Other times, though, their love and excitement stirred up a desire in others to have the same results in their lives. People came to Jesus left and right because his followers actually lived like Jesus. Sure they messed up. Sure they sinned, but they weren’t burdened with the constant chastisement from their brothers and sisters in the faith. They were encouraged to move on – to stop sinning – and continue to love.

You see, many people think they are Christians, but they are not. A Christian is a person who has chosen to live as best as they can in the light and example of Jesus – an example of perfect love. When that person falls short of perfection (which happens a lot) they live in the grace and forgiveness that Jesus continually gives through his death and resurrection.

Christians are more than believers. Christians are more than rule-followers. Christians are people who live like Jesus. Don’t ignore how Jesus has commissioned you to begin your relationship with Him. And when you do begin, don’t be the kind of Christian that the world expects – harsh, grumpy, judgmental, spiteful, hate-filled, rule-driven people. Be the kind of Christian that your life speaks louder than your words. Love will do that. Live in love.


The Least Popular Article I’ve Written

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This will not be my most popular article.

Are you a Christian? If you say yes, then this article is for you. If not, you are welcome to read this because you may get a glimpse into what this life is all about, but you should know that the standard set before us in this article is not for you…not yet. Hopefully, however, you will find that the Savior, Jesus, is well worth whatever it takes to seek Him.

So, are you still with me? Good!

As humans, we have a tendency toward brokenness. If you look at the world around us you will see that we are a broken species living broken lives in a broken environment that we choose broken procedures to try to repair to a less broken status. Because we are a messed up people, then when we do things, by our nature, we mess them up.

This is true of our ability to follow Christ.

We are called to be Christians, but for many people this is merely a moniker, a title that gives us religious clout in whatever circles we desire to reveal that title to others. We are but fans of the One to whom we declared our allegiance when we became Christians.

There is a difference between being a fan of Jesus and being His follower. Unfortunately, since the beginning of Christianity, the majority of people who claim his forgiveness are not much more than fans.

Maybe you’re reading this, and you’re saying, “not me!” I hope so, but let’s look at the calling to which you were called.

First of all, Sunday morning worship services and Wednesday night classes are not the penultimate experiences of the Christian life. We are not called to worship on Sunday and Wednesday only. We are called to offer our bodies daily as living sacrifices to God. Worship is supposed to come from us all day every day. In many churches the people who do show up barely even sing anyway, and the attendance on Sunday morning is considerably different than the actual church membership roster. However, this is only a small sampling of evidence for fandom.

What have you sacrificed/given up for Christ? When we are called to Christ, we are called to die to ourselves. In fact, Jesus says we must take up our own cross. He wants us to come to Him and die with him. Can you imagine if the new church slogan was “Come and Die”? Would you want to worship with that group? You would if you understood what Jesus was calling you to.

He is not calling you to a life of luxury. If he were, would he have spent his life and ministry with no home and little food? Wouldn’t he have had a great financial base with which to do ministry?

He didn’t really focus on wealth and prosperity. In fact, he said as a promise that if you follow him you are guaranteed hardship as a result. Have you suffered hardship because of Christ? If you haven’t, then are you truly following him the way you are called to do so?

He doesn’t call us to live for him when it’s convenient. He doesn’t call us to live for him when we aren’t at work or school or doing something else important. He doesn’t call us to go on mission trips and to revival weekends. He calls us to live in mission wherever we are all day every day. We are called daily to revival as we seek His will for our lives.

In America, the American dream of prosperity and status has had an open door into the mindsets of our churches, and it won’t be until we rid ourselves of the needs and desires for things of this world that we can truly put our hand to the plow and not look back.

The world is watching. Recently I was told by a couple of different people that the reason they didn’t want to come to Christ is that they couldn’t see that it was doing anything special for His followers. That is sad, and it convicts me on so many levels.

You aren’t called to be a fan of Jesus. You are called to be a follower, and following means going where He would go and where He is calling. He went to the broken and hurting and dirty people of his day. He went to the poor and the lame. He went out into the world and didn’t associate with the religious cliques of his time. He is calling you to follow him there. He is calling you to get uncomfortable for Him. He is calling you out of YOUR life and into HIS.

Jesus knew this would be tough, and he knew you would have to make some hard choices. Some of you may even have to reject your family because you choose Jesus over them. You may have to change jobs or friends. You may have to tell your boss you can’t work at certain times because you are dedicated to something greater (and being with the saints on Sunday is something greater). I know of a farmer who dedicated to God that he wouldn’t work on Sunday even during the harvest, and he always got his crops in…in fact he had a bumper crop from that point forward.

When we follow Jesus the way he calls us to follow, then we can truly begin to live in the Eternal Life He is calling us to.

If you’re not willing to give yourself up in that way, then consider the choice. It’s time for all of us to stop pretending we are one way and living another. Jesus spoke a lot about that too, and he said it to the religious folk of His day.

So, I hope you’re still with me. We have all fallen short of this, but through the grace of Jesus He helps us get back up and continue to dedicate our lives to Him. When you fail, don’t wallow in self pity. Stand back up! Jesus has already forgiven you.

Please share this with your friends who are Christians. Please make changes in your life as you truly seek Christ with all your heart. Let hypocrisy die in us as His Spirit comes alive in us.


A Climber’s Invitation

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I love to climb. You may not have realized it looking at me, but I really love to climb. I love the challenge. I love the scenery. I love the camaraderie of other climbers around encouraging one another. I love the feeling of success at the top of the climb.

I’ve been climbing all my life. When I was a boy I’d climb things that were probably way above my safety level considering I had no harness or ropes. I was always in the tops of trees. One of my favorite things to do as a boy was to climb cliffs up on Bull Shoals Lake in North Arkansas. Then, when I reached a sufficient height I’d jump off into the crystal-clear waters below.

I love climbing mountains. I’ve stood on the summit of several peaks in several different states. There is no feeling like being on the summit of a majestic mountain and seeing the wonder of creation all around below your feet. My favorite mountaintop experience was when I climbed Sawtooth Peak in California at daybreak alone. I watched the sunrise from the summit and cried as God painted a masterpiece just for me on His sky canvas.

I don’t like to fall, though. When I was at Harding I would ride my bicycle out to Bee Rock overlooking the Little Red River just to climb around on that horrible, brittle limestone. One time I was climbing and a friend was there (fortunately). I didn’t have ropes then – I was a poor college student. I got about 15 feet up an area I hadn’t climbed before when my handhold broke off the rock. When I hit the ground I was horizontal and landed in the fork of a tree that split at the ground among the large rocks that had flaked off the cliff through the years. It wasn’t pleasant. Falling is not pleasant.

It’s fun to climb with others. It’s great to encourage one another along as we climb. It’s fun to try hard for something and fail over and over but know that your buddies are going to keep encouraging you until you succeed. Then, when you do succeed, there’s the screams of exaltation as together you celebrate.

It’s also better to fall with others. If you fall when no one is around there is a greater chance of dying. If you have a partner or a group there is encouragement and rescue. A friend can help or get help. They can carry extra loads for you or even carry you through your injury. It’s so much better to fall in company rather than alone.

We are all climbing. We all long to reach the summit of our life. Are you walking alone?

The beauty of the church is that no matter if you’re a great climber in this mountain we call life or if you constantly fall and have to start again you are not alone. The church is there to encourage you and lift you up. It is there to celebrate with you when you reach the summit. The church recognizes that we all are climbing the same mountain. We may not all have the same style, but we are in this together.

The church stands inviting you to climb with them. You get your gear when you give your life to Jesus, and the goal is to look and climb more like Him each day. Then, when you’ve climbed as hard as you can – no matter what height you reach – you achieve the summit, heaven. And there’s a celebration in your honor.

So keep climbing. Climb with me. Lets climb together.


Peaceful Easy Feeling

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The days ahead are uncertain. Our world is changing. Our climate is changing. Our country is changing. Or children are changing. There is much to be unsure about.

Does it make you nervous? Are you worried about your ability to provide for yourself or your family? Are you the least bit nervous about what your children will have to deal with as they grow into the new world being created by the leaders of today?

I deal with thoughts of this continually. I have been charged by God to provide for my family, but as each year goes by it becomes harder and more uncertain. Frustrations rise and worry clouds judgment as we focus on what might happen in the future.

When I get caught up in that place, however, I have to remember a couple of things:
First, the future hasn’t happened yet. I can only control a certain amount of what may or may not happen in the future, but the vast majority of the future is beyond my control. This may seem disconcerting to some, but it can be a relief when you understand your role in this. You are not meant to change the future. You are meant to change today. All you need be concerned with is how you live today. Allow the concerns about tomorrow to cease and you’ll be free to live today to its fullest.

Second, in times of uncertainty, there is a God who does not change. Jehovah is not wishy-washy. His promises are not “pie crust promises”. His promises endure through the ages. He promises to take care of us today (Matthew 6:33). He promises that he has a great plan for our future (Jeremiah 29:11). And He promises that when things don’t work out the way we had hoped or expected He is still working all things out for our good (Romans 8:28).

He is the God who brings comfort to the troubled. He wants to bring you peace in uncertainty.

When you focus on Him and live for today you find that you don’t have much time for worrying about tomorrow. Sure, I will still prepare my children for whatever life they will have to endure, but in the meantime I will enjoy them and love them. I will trust that those promises I rely on are also relevant for them.

May you find peace this year. May you be able to overcome the uncertainty in your life by trusting in the One who does not change. He is a rock, a foundation that cannot be shaken. Your trust is secure there.

If you’d like to know more about having a closer relationship with Jesus I’d love to visit with you. I am now the minister at the Aztec church of Christ in Aztec, NM. You can reach me in the office at 334-6626 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net. You can also comment on this or any other of my articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org.

God bless you as you find your peace in Him.


Football and the Election

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I admit it. I’m guilty. I’ve been caught up in this trap before, so please know that I have already spoken this word to myself before I chose to write this article.

How do you feel about the government? How do you feel about the current administration either in the local, state or federal government? Think about your response to this for a bit.

I’m on Facebook constantly, and right now about 75% of the posts that scroll across my page are either about football or about the upcoming election. The lion’s share of my over one thousand friends are passionate Christians concerned about the future of America. They don’t agree with what is being done, and they want to help people see the changes they think are needed to be made for this nation to become more healthy.

Having an opinion about something is good. In fact, it is right to have an opinion about what you think is right. Without that ability how would we be able to know to do right? I think our ability to discern what is right and good is a God-given ability.

There are many people who are giving their opinion, but these opinions are getting more and more disrespectful. People are stooping to name-calling. They are condemning people who aren’t in opposition to the same people they are in opposition to. This is going a bit far.

As Christians we are called to a higher standard. It is so easy for us to get caught up in the flow of ideas perpetuated by worldly thinking. Yet, consider what Peter has to say in 1 Peter 2:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover‑up for evil; live as servants of God.
Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:13-17 NIV84)

When Jesus was on the earth he did not agree with the governing or religious authorities. That is why he was killed. He wasn’t crucified because he healed the sick or raised the dead or was a “good guy”. He was crucified because he spoke of a kingdom that was in direct opposition to the governing religious authority of the day. Yet, he did not tell the people to rebel against that kingdom. He encouraged the people to pay their taxes. He encouraged them to go even beyond the letter of the law of the land.

When he was on trial, Jesus was very respectful to the people who were unjustly accusing him. He had ample opportunity to put the authorities “in their place”, yet he chose respect.

Our culture today has lost the art of respecting one another. When you go to Wal-mart it is a breath of fresh air, not the norm, when someone treats you kindly and with respect. Yet we are called to live in this respect every day.

I don’t agree with everything the government is doing. I cannot support abortion. I don’t like how the economy is affecting my ability to provide for my family. But I know that whoever is there has been granted that authority by God, Himself. Therefore, while I don’t agree with the policies, I must trust that God has a purpose for me and my country in this.

Does that mean that God is planning to make our country great by putting a particular person in leadership? No. It may mean that we need to be humbled as a nation. It may be that I need to learn to trust God more, and I can only learn that in times where I am required to trust in Him.

You have a great responsibility to vote. Please vote. But also respect those who are in those places of authority whether you voted them in there or not.

This is the higher calling. This is the brighter example in this dark world.

May you be that bright example to those around you. May you consider how you present yourself to those around you. If people know you are a Christ-follower, then they will only understand what it meant to be thus by how you act. Please act according to Christ’s example.

If you’d like to discuss this, then I invite you to do so on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs,org. Blessings to you as you prepare to vote in the upcoming elections.


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