Tag Archives: Daughter

When is Kid’s Day?

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I remember as a child taking note of all the special days for the adults. There are the holidays that they get off work, but even more important to me as a kid were the holidays that allowed the parents to get gifts. There’s grandparents day and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

One day I remember asking, “When is Kid’s Day?”

My mom was quick to let me know that every day was Kid’s Day. I was constantly getting snacks and prizes and having everyone focused on me and what I was doing.

Every day IS Kid’s Day, right?

We focus on our children in all areas of life. We support them in their schooling. We attend their sports activities and ooh and aah over their accomplishments in other areas of life. We encourage their friendships and work to help them to choose wisely. How about their relationship with God?

Churches all over the place are spending more and more energy and resources on children’s programs. They understand that parents are looking to train their children well in the knowledge of the truth of God’s word. These things are good and signs of a healthy church. It is right for us to focus on not just our past or our present but especially on our future.

What people all over are finding, however, is that children – once they graduate high school – are leaving the faith at an alarming rate. These kids were taken to all the bible classes. They did all the activities, but yet they leave anyway.

There are a few things we can do to keep that from happening with our children.

First: Parents, you need to step up your game. Statistics are showing that your children won’t be as involved as you. Especially at the college level. While your children are young you need to be modeling a passion for the Word of God and His church. Otherwise your children will see through the classes you forced them to attend and notice that you didn’t emphasize it in your life and only attended to do your duty. This is not appealing to them. That may not be your motivation for attending, but they see what you do more than what you say. If you are a Sunday Morning Only attendee, then chances are your kids will be non-attendees. It’s time to get involved in a meaningful relationship with your church and the members therein in order to provide the community needed to grow spiritually healthy.

Second: Parents, you need to be teaching your children. Church attendance won’t teach your children. Bible classes, while they help, are often thin on the meatier parts that your kids are hungry for. They need to know that you study the scripture. They need to learn from you. They need to see that their understanding of the scripture is important to you. And they need to see the scripture without all the sunshine and rainbows that we sometimes put in it. The scriptures portray reality and how to live in that reality. Don’t sterilize it to protect your kids. Teach them the honest truth.

Third: As a family spend meaningful time with other Christians in your congregation. One of the reasons that teens leave when they get to the college age is that they have no connections with anyone other than the kids their age. This makes the transition awkward at best and helps to influence them to leave. Invite your older children to spend time with you and your adult church friends. Participate in classes where many ages are present so they can see how to interact among the generations.

Lastly: Don’t wait until they are in Jr. High or High School to expect them to participate and pay attention during worship services. If they can talk, then they can learn to sing. This is a process, and the timing is different for everyone, but I often see older elementary age children playing video games and coloring during worship services. They are old enough to listen, but you are showing them that it is not important for them to do so. Train them. They are ready.

Parents, we have a great responsibility to our children. You may be doing these things already. If so, great! If you aren’t, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just make a decision to change today. As we change so will our kids. Let’s stop the exodus. Let’s begin a spiritual renewal in our children.


A Vapor in the Wind

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My uncle was in the prime of his life. He was the oldest of four siblings. My dad was the second oldest. He was the father of two beautiful, grown daughters

Uncle Tony (Mark Dobbs) was a retired Commander from the US Navy. He lived in his lake house in North Arkansas on Bull Shoals Lake. He was involved in the leadership of his town. He had acquired his real estate license and had just published his second book, “Fracked”.

Last Father’s Day he and his wife, Cheryl, were heading eastbound in their small car. There was a car in front of them, and headed westbound was an 18 wheeler with a car leading it. The two cars collided suddenly.

My uncle swerved to the right to miss the accident, and the 18 wheeler swerved to the left to do the same. In an instant their lives changed.

My uncle died on Father’s Day. My aunt is still in the hospital, unresponsive, with major damage to her body. Please pray for her, my grandma, their daughters and grandchildren, and our whole family.

Life is short. The bible says we are but a vapor – here one minute and gone the next.

It is what you do with the time you have on the earth that matters. There is no time for procrastination when it comes to your relationship with God. There is no time to miss telling those you love how much you feel for them. There is no time for squandering your life away on yourself.

You were created to glorify God with your life. You were created to seek Him and find Him – He promises He’s not far from you. You were created to consider others better than yourself. You were created for more than this world says you are.

Time is short. Kiss your children. Tell your mom you love her. Spend time with your dad. Love your wife or husband. But most of all, get your life right with God. There might not be a tomorrow.


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.


The Religion of the Masses

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Everyone is religious. We all worship something.

I love my kids. Just ask me, and I’ll tell you all about their exploits.

Just today my oldest daughter practiced on the swim team for the first time. It is the middle of the season, and it’s her first opportunity to practice with the team. Her first time out she swam around 4,000 meters. That’s nearly 2.5 MILES! I can run that far, but I’ve never even thought of swimming that far. And that was her first day of practice ever being on any kind of swim team.

Yesterday our family went to a water park in the area, and we had a blast. Our 6 year old son is getting comfortable with swimming and he had a wonderful experience. It’s so much fun to watch him as he dives under the water and stays there for quite some time given his age. He says he likes being under water better. At six, he was having a great time riding the slides with me. The last slide we tried was the one that strikes some sense of fear into almost everyone’s heart when they walk into a water park. You know the slide – its the one that just has one long, nearly straight down, drop. My son wanted to go first, so I let him. My heart stopped as he went out of sight over the lip of the slide, but as he reached the bottom I couldn’t help yelling with excitement. He said it was “awesome”.

My smallest child is my other daughter. She has been doing gymnastics and loving every minute of it. Her coaches have been surprised and impressed since day one at her ability to walk the balance beam without looking down. She is four (started at three), and she looks around the room and at the coach while she walks the beam. When she had her gym’s version of a recital the other day they even had her do a frontward roll on the balance beam. I had never seen her do that before, and she did great!

Everyone is religious. We all worship something.

I’m excited about my children; who wouldn’t be? But I don’t worship them, and they know it. That doesn’t mean that I am the rule, however.

People worship all sorts of things. It’s what consumes them that centralizes their worship. Some people are consumed with money. Some people are consumed with a search for knowledge. Some people are consumed with power. Some people are even consumed with their children!

The kinds of people that astonish me most in terms of what they worship are the atheists and the religious “folk”.

An atheist believes there is no God, and therefore should be free of the moniker “religious”. However, every atheist I have ever seen has something (usually many things) that consumes them. They may worship any combination of the things listed above. Humanists are atheist, technically, but they, too, have a god, and that is the human species. We all worship something.

Religious “folk”, as I use the phrase here, are Christians – of a sort. They say the right things and attend the right meetings, but their focus is clearly seen by their actions and attitudes. These people worship their religion more than the focus of that religion. They are more concerned with making sure everything goes a certain way than with total abandon to the God they profess to worship. They get hung up on the minutia of certain commands while neglecting the very heart of that command.

Religious “folk” fill up church buildings each Sunday with judgmentalism and pomp. They wear the right clothes and look down on you if you don’t. They strictly adhere to their traditions while condemning the “heretics” who dare to challenge those traditions. They don’t even realize that some of the things they hold as sacred are merely traditions! These people are the reason many people stay out of churches today.

We are called to worship one Being only, and that is Jehovah God. He is the One True God who gives life to all men and women everywhere. He is to be forever praised. Not me, not you, not our stuff nor status, but Him alone.

In our culture today, it is so very easy to get caught up in worship of other things. God calls this idolatry, and the first two of the ten commandments condemn it.

Today, I challenge you to evaluate yourself, and be careful as you do so. It is easy for us to stay “holier-than-thou” and write this off as not pertaining to us. I catch myself in that same trap, but it is my hope and prayer that we can effectively see the deficits in our lives. I pray that we can come away from our ungodly religions and come back to the God who is the center of everything that exists.

Always ask questions – of yourself, and of your situation. Seek truth, and if you’d like to discuss this further know I’m seeking truth as well. If there is anything I can do for you, please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the church office at 245-1611. God bless your evaluation. God bless the answers you find. And God bless the change that comes as a result.


Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, and Atomic Bombs

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Close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades.”

How many times have you heard that? I’ve heard it all my life to refer to many occasions where I have said, “Well, I was close.” I’ve also heard that saying evolve a bit to include atomic bombs.

This Memorial Day weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to go to my parents’ house in Northeast Louisiana. We had a grand time playing and swimming and laughing and reminiscing. We celebrated my son’s birthday and his graduation from kindergarten. We also played horseshoes.

Horseshoes is a great game of some skill and a whole lot of luck. I don’t generally believe in luck, but when a person with no skill accidentally gets a ringer or leaner what else should I call it?

We all played: my mom and dad, my wife and son and daughter, and even my 83 year old grandfather.

In fact, I played my grandfather, and it is with much shame and a bit of a smirk that I must admit that even with a knee that shot pain through his body with every throw and joints with no cushioning, he beat me royally. I think the score was fifteen to seven. I could get the horseshoe close, but not close enough.

We live in a culture that celebrates “close enough”. Look at our political system. The candidates we have running for the various offices do not match up with our moral or political views, so we have to find the one we think represents our ideals “closely enough”. Then we wonder why our country is going downhill so quickly.

I see girls all the time who want deep down to find the man of their dreams, but after years of finding no such man, they settle for “close enough”. That usually leads them to misery in the end.

I see Christians all the time who match their lives up to the scriptures, and they say “eh, close enough”.

Even in horseshoes there is a definition for “close”. There is a measurable boundary where you can determine if you are “close enough”. In our lives, however, we want to place those boundaries wherever we please. This doesn’t work when it comes to the righteousness that God requires. We can’t read how we are supposed to be living according to the scriptures and then dismiss our shortcomings as being close enough.

Let me get something straight: you cannot get to heaven or get saved by anything that you’ve done. It is by the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus that you are saved. However, we have changed our attitude towards that gift over the years to become apathetic concerning our response to that gift.

You don’t receive a million dollars then spit in the face of the one who gave it to you. When we disregard the desires of God for righteousness in our lives we are trampling the cross underfoot.

As I study various religions I am overjoyed to see so many going in the right direction – for a bit. Then I mourn as I see them time after time stray away. They were so close, but they had to ignore something or add something that wasn’t necessary. Eh, at least they’re close. No. I don’t want to stand before God and try to explain to Him how I was “close enough”. I don’t think that argument will set well with Him – the Almighty, wholly pure, righteous, justified Lord of the universe.

No, we must get back to seeing how the scriptures show us how to live. Love must reign in our lives coupled with peace as we seek unity. No longer should we rely on “close enough”. So many people say “I believe in God”, yet their actions prove otherwise. Besides, the bible says that “even the demons believe…”

I want to live my life for Christ in every area. I want to continue to grow in that life that honors Him as I grow to know Him. I never want to be stagnant, and I don’t want to rely on the hope that I was “close enough”. I want assurance that my salvation is secure, and I have that assurance according to the Bible.

I’m not saying that to try to sound arrogant. You can have that assurance as well, but you have to be willing to set aside the “close enough” mindset. You have to be willing to really, truly devote yourself to Christ. I do understand that it is not easy, nor is it convenient, but it is right, and it is what you are called to do and to be.

Join with me in that life of assurance in Christ. If you haven’t truly dedicated your life to Christ as commended to you by Jesus himself, then seek that connection today. If you’ve been living a life of “close enough” you can make the decision to change, and Christ stands waiting to help you in that journey.

I would love to talk with you more about this. If I can help you in any way, please call me at 245-1611 or write me at jddobbs@verizon.net. You can also join the conversation at http://www.mrdobbs.org. Have a great day, play some horseshoes, and be dedicated to God. Bless God; He has already blessed you.


“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!


Songbirds Sing, Storms Rage, and We Are Silent

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First of all this week I’d like to say to everyone who is reading my articles either in the Matagorda Advocate or on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org, Thank You! I really appreciate your willingness to ponder these posts. Please shoot me a message from time to time letting me know what you think. I love feedback of all kinds. That being said, on to my article:

Let’s take a trip through a day. It could be any day, but you are in it.

As you open your eyes you see the glint of sunlight through the curtains. You squint because it seems entirely too early to be awake, but hey it’s time to get up. The morning is cool, and as you let your dog outside to do its business you feel the gentle breeze across your face. The air is cool and inviting.

Overhead you hear the sounds of several birds singing their melodies. What are they singing? Who knows, but it is beautiful.

After a quick bite and a much needed wake-me-up shower you dash off to work. Person after person connects with you as deadlines must be met and customers must be satisfied.

On your way home at the end of the day you are exhausted. The windows are down, and you have the music up in the car. Ah, your favorite song on the radio – just what you needed to unwind.

After dinner it’s time to relax on the back patio where you sip evening coffee under a blanket of stars. As you look up you can just make out the milky way, then a shooting star just catches your eye. You can hear the jet overhead but you can’t see it, and in the distance a storm is brewing. The flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder just barely make it to where you are sitting.

As you lay your head down for the night, you drift off to the sound of raindrops tapping out a rhythm on your window. Rainy evenings are your favorite times to sleep.

While this all seems very utopian, we get some parts of this in every day. Maybe you did feel the gentle breeze this morning. Maybe the sunlight is what woke you from your slumber. Maybe it rained. Maybe you got to enjoy the stars.

The question isn’t whether or not these things happen. What matters is whether or not you noticed them.

For most of us the days are not serene. We struggle through days of chaos with children and frustrating coworkers and school and work and deadlines and stress and more stress. We barely have time to taste our food. We are on the go busy, busy, busy.

No wonder God seems so distant. Maybe this is exactly what Satan wants for us.

As society becomes busier it becomes less spiritual.

When I’m busy and focused on the million things I have to worry about, then it’s easy to look over the song of the bird that was sent by God to sing His praises for me to enjoy. God did that for me, but I was too busy to notice.

When my kids and coworkers are all screaming at me then I can’t hear the sounds of the rain or enjoy the breeze on my face. I don’t even see the beauty and majesty of God’s handiwork in those other people when I’m consumed with what needs to get done or what others think about me.

For so many people the language of the presence of God is absent. We don’t talk about how the God of the Universe was trying to get our attention today. We don’t discuss things like possible lyrics to the songbird’s melody or the attributes of God declared by the storm’s intensity. We talk about the here and now that is tangible. We are distracted, and it is pretty obvious.

People, the presence of God is all around us. We cannot escape it, yet we live as if God doesn’t exist and we are the true gods of this world.

Everything in creation declares the praise of God. Even the individual atoms and molecules are bouncing around in their dance to the Creator’s praise. Our bodies at the molecular level declare the glory of the One True God, but how often do our bodies on the macro level do the same?

I recently watched a video where Louie Giglio had some fun with sounds from pulsars and whale songs. He created a mashup that allowed his congregants to sing along with parts of creation. His intent was to show that our chorus of praise is only a small part of a grander orchestra of worship being exhibited across the universe continually.

Yet we, the humble humans, are called God’s Masterpiece.

I have seen things that took my breath away. I have heard things that convulsed me to tears of joy and worship. Yet God says I am more awesome than those things.

In the commotion of the universe as it sings it’s praise to the Creator, He leans out over the edge of heaven and strains an ear for your worship. He longs to hear your melody. He put it in you; you just have to be willing to let it out.

Once you begin to live in the presence of God – where everything points you back to Him and His majesty, then you will understand better the purpose of your own worship. You have been called to join in the chorus of the universe, and you sing God’s favorite part.

May you sing with all your heart and every fiber of your being. May your worship inspire others to do the same, and may you see the presence of God in everything, for He is desperately trying to woo you to Him. Don’t believe me? Take one long look at the cross.

As always, if there is anything I can do for you please feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. God bless your week!


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