Tag Archives: evangelism

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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Bringing Neighbor Back to the Hood

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I live in a great neighborhood. It’s relatively peaceful. Sure, from time to time there is excitement and I may need to call the police on someone causing mischief, but I rarely ever feel like this neighborhood is dangerous. It’s a great neighborhood for raising my kids.

The church building where I preach on Sundays and Wednesdays is in this neighborhood. I find this to be super convenient, but as I look at the demographics of our church membership I see very few people who come from within our neighborhood.

I know my next door neighbors. I know the family across the street and a few doors down from them too. I know a few of the neighbors behind the church building by name. Yet, I don’t have a real, meaningful relationship with any of them.

I feel pretty convicted about this.

You see, this church has functioned from this location for many many years. I’m not sure how many preachers were here before me, but our congregation is mostly made up of people who live outside our neighborhood and even our town.

It’s time for this to change.

As Christians, we are called to live in the world around us in such a way that people know that Jesus is the messiah. We aren’t called to be people who shrink back in fear or even in routine and make excuses for why we don’t know our neighbors.

I believe that if a church has a building then the primary mission field of that church should be the neighborhood the building is located within. Each member should be missionaries within their own neighborhoods as well, but if the church doesn’t have a good relationship with its neighbors, then what kind of message does that portray?

Some of you may know people who live in the neighborhood around the church building. Some of you may even live in this same neighborhood. What can you do to enhance our ability to reach out locally? What should we do as a church to help you reach your friends and neighbors?

Cities aren’t taken for The Lord without strategy. When Jesus sent out the apostles after the resurrection, He told them they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem (where they currently were), in Judaea and Samaria (the outlying towns and regions), and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

As a church, we should follow the same pattern. We should be intentionally engaging the neighborhood where our facilities are located first. Then we should move into other neighborhoods in the town where our congregation gathers. After that, when that town is reached, we should move into other towns. When all of that is done, then we should be sending out people to far off regions.

Engaging our neighborhood doesn’t mean door-knocking either. It means living and working and functioning within that neighborhood in such a way that relationships are built and love is shown. It is not engaging in handouts; it is inviting people into community. Engaging a neighborhood means you’re loving your neighbor with no strings attached. When they see your intentional, counter-cultural way of love, they’re going to want to know why you’re like that. Then you have been invited by them to tell them of the One who loved you first, Jesus Christ.

So, here’s our situation. We are a church that isn’t truly engaging our neighborhood. That wasn’t Jesus’ plan for us. How can we make a change here? The Aztec church of Christ puts on a block party once a year, and that is gaining popularity. What else can we do to truly engage on personal levels to love our neighbors?

We are a church trying to love God, love others, and be like Jesus. So let’s start taking steps to truly do these things.

Do you have an idea on how to reach out to the neighborhood around our congregation? Maybe you’re reading this online and you have ideas for how to begin this where you live. Talk to your pastor(s). But don’t just give suggestions; volunteer to help make those suggestions a reality.

To win a city you begin with a neighbor.


I Love to Fish

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I went fishing this morning.

I love to fish. I’ve fished in huge lakes and small streams. I’ve fished on the beach and out at sea. I’ve fished in bayous and bays and in between. I love to fish.

I’m not too worried about the fish. I’m not worried that they’ll like me. I just want them to like what I’m presenting to them. But if they reject it like they did this morning, it’s ok. I still love to fish.

I wake up early and stay up late to fish. I travel long distances and walk across the road to fish. I’ve fished in the heart of cities and up on mountain sides where there is just granite and water. I’ve fished in drainage canals and snowmelt streams. I’ve fished in water where you can’t see anything below the surface and water where you could see the bottom 30 feet down. I love to fish.

I went fishing this morning.

I love to fish. I’ve fished in homes and corporations. I’ve fished in malls and banks. I’ve fished in churches and bars. I love to fish.

I’m extremely worried about these fish. But I’m not worried that they’ll like me. I don’t fish to please them. I’m fishing to save them. My message won’t change. It’s just what they need. And when they reject me I realize it is not me they’re rejecting but the One whom the message is about. I still love to fish.

I wake up early and stay up late to fish. I’ve stumbled upon fish walking along my day and been woken up in the middle of the night to fish some more. I’ve fished across the street and in other countries. I’ve fished online and face to face. I’ve fished for fish that were injured and hurting and for fish who thought they had it all together. And what I’ve found is that no matter what type of fish or where they live they all are in desperate need of what I fish with. I love to fish.

Do you love to fish? Have you been caught by the One who brings life everlasting? If so, He is wondering when you’re going to start fishing.

You have been called to be saved from yourself by the only One who died for you. Then you have been called to tell others about your salvation and how it is offered to them too. Are you afraid to do that? It’s quite common to be afraid, but fear can be conquered.

If you want to know more about how to share your faith with others, then let me know. I’d love to help you. If you’re still a fish waiting on that salvation, I’d love even more to let you know about this offer of salvation to which I’m referring. I love to fish. Jesus called me to be a fisher of men. Let’s fish together.


“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!


Who’s The Real Youth Minister Here?

Today, I’d like to tell you a little bit about me.

I grew up attending non-instrumental churches of Christ.  My Great Grandfather was a song leader.  My Grandfather was a song leader.  My mother would have been a song leader, but she grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, and she was the wrong gender for that at the time.

I have been involved with the churches of Christ since before i was born.

Growing up, my parents were very involved in the local congregation, and when I’d visit my grandpa, he’d have me up on stage leading singing with him.  When I got into 3rd grade we moved to West Monroe, Louisiana where I lived until I graduated High School.  We attended the same church from that point on, and my parents were very involved.  There was hardly an event that we weren’t a part of.  I used to joke about being in the building every time the doors were open.

When I got into the youth group, they kept being involved.  They helped plan and volunteer for various activities.  They did more than encourage me to be involved.  I loved being a part of my youth group growing up.  But, you know why I was excited about youth group?  It wasn’t because I had a great youth minister (which I did). It was because from birth it was instilled into me that church was a central part of our life  My primary youth ministers were my parents.

Looking back on that now, I see how valuable they were in forming me into the man of God I am today.  I cannot thank them enough for investing into God and His church so that I would one day follow in their footsteps.

Now, I’m a youth minister.  My sister sings on the worship team for the church we grew up in, and my brother is actively involved in several outreach ministries.  I’d say they were a success.

“How does that relate to me?” You may ask.

If you are a parent, you are the single largest influence in your child’s life.  You have the power to inspire greatness or defeat into that young person.  You have the power to mold and shape them into followers of God or selfish, entitled agnostics.  You influence them.  What you are involved in and excited about rubs off on them directly and effectively.  What you are apathetic about also influences them.

You are the youth ministers.  This is for parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles.  This is for brothers and sisters and cousins.  This is for kids.  You have the power to influence your family around you.

If you are a part of a church that has a youth minister, you have a great resource there.  But his job is only to supplement what you are doing at home.  If the kids in churches are only getting Jesus on Sunday morning and Wednesday night, then they are anorexic Christians at best. The scriptures say “Train up a child in the way he should go…” The scriptures do not say “Let someone else train up your child…”

Youth ministers are a great tool, and they are useful to help facilitate and teach the youths of today.  The trends of the churches to this point have been to create Youth Minister Centered Youth Ministries.  It’s time to change the trend back to Family-Centered Youth Ministries.

May you be the Spiritual leaders in your home.  May you lead your children by example.  And may these children grow to be pillars of the Church for generations to come.

If there’s anything I can do for you or pray with you about, please feel free to contact me at my office at 245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net.  God bless you all as you regain your role as the real Youth Ministers.


Let Me Tell You All About It…

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If you’ve been around me in any way, shape, form or fashion the last few days, you know I completed the Tough Mudder. How do you know? Because I’ve probably told you all about my joys and fears and pain and excitement caused by enduring the 12 miles and 29 obstacles designed by British Special Forces guys.

I’m pretty excited about this accomplishment to put it mildly.

I’m not the only one. The entire team is flooding Facebook and the various places where we work and socialize with stories and pictures of our day in Edna last Saturday. It’s like we are compelled to tell the story. We overcame! We are excited! We’d love to tell you all about it!

Guess what. We have all overcome! We have all had the opportunity for God to wash away all our sins! Jesus has come and destroyed sin and death and fear and worry!

We talk about about who won the SuperBowl. We talk about what we did last weekend. We talk about the weather. We are compelled to talk. We talk with just about anybody, but how often does the message of the love of God shown through Christ come across our lips? Are we as excited about the message of redemption as we are about Dale Earnhardt’s number coming out of retirement?

Do we talk with our kids about the implications of a life filled with joy through salvation in Christ as much as we talk to them about the implications of sex before marriage?

Do we talk with our friends about freedom in Christ as much as we do about the weather or work or kids or…anything?

No wonder Christianity is not the fastest growing religion in the world. But what can we do about it?

First, it’s time for us to do some genuine soul searching about our relationship with Christ. Many people love Jesus but don’t tell anyone else about Him. Many people claim love for Jesus but don’t even bother to tell Him about it.

It’s as if I just got married, but I din’t wear a wedding ring. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t even live with my wife. But I still claimed my wife on my taxes.

We are supposed to be in a love relationship with Jesus. The church is called the “bride of Christ”. How many of us are married to Him but don’t want anyone to know it?

It may not be that you don’t want anyone to know it. Maybe you just don’t think about it. My question is why not? Maybe you don’t know what to say. When you’re excited about anything else you have no worry about what to say. You don’t even care if the other people want to hear what you have to say.

This is not something we are going to be able to force in ourselves. If we aren’t excited about Christ we won’t be able to “fake it till we make it”. We need to commit to true searching for Christ in our lives and in the scriptures. We need to be committed once again to prayer and fasting. For some of you it may mean beginning that relationship with Christ by accepting Him as your Savior and connecting with Him through baptism.

Let’s start this journey today. The destination is totally worth the search.

May you deeply seek Christ in your life this year. May prayer and fasting be a regular part of your life. And may the world see Christianity grow once again out of newfound love for the God who loved us first.

If you have any questions or comments about this or would like to know more about making Jesus your Savior, please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 979-245-1611.

God bless your search and newfound joy in Christ!


I Hate the Industrial Revolution

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Have I ever mentioned that I hate the industrial revolution? There has not been a time in history that has done more damage to the family than the industrial revolution.

Before the I.R. The home was the center of commerce. Families lived in generally the same area often times having several generations within the walls of the same house. Consumerism wasn’t nearly the problem it is today. Society was primarily rural, and the father was the leader of his home.

Children were raised in the home and boys were trained by their father to take on the family trade. Girls were trained by their mothers and grandmothers how to be good wives and mothers. Men and women contributed to society but did so from the home.

Then came the industrial revolution and the rise of shift work. Men were taken from their homes and required to work in jobs miles from home. Communities became more and more urbanized. Children were trained in schools, and families began to rely on those schools to raise their children. There has never been another time in history when the family unit as a way of life has taken such a devastating blow.

As I think of how the industrial revolution changed the functionality of the family unit, in much the same way the church building has changed the functionality of the church. I must make it clear right off the bat: the church is the people who follow Christ; it is NOT the building.

Before the church building became the center of Christendom, the Christians functioned in the towns and villages around them. Towns and villages were much more tightly knit, so when someone was converted to Christianity the entire town heard the message not only of the conversion but also of Christ Himself.

The people weren’t so focused on Sunday morning that it was their end-all to their Spiritual activity for the week. Christians were about living daily for their savior. They were evangelizing daily to whomever they came in contact with. Christian was what defined them – it was not merely one of many tags they wore.

Then came the church building. As church building were built evangelism slowed. In fact, nowadays most churches do very little evangelism outside of their church buildings. They work hard to find the best preachers and teachers or to provide the best, most inspiring worship so that they can draw people in to the buildings. This was never supposed to be the way of the church. In fact, Sunday morning worship times weren’t even originally for “seekers”. It was for Christians.

Another development from the culture of the church building is that they generally place the preachers and pray-ers up front on some sort of risen platform. This gives the notion that those who are “leading” in the assembly are somehow better or more spiritual than those sitting in the pews. My brothers and sisters, this is not so! The preacher is not better than you. God shows no favoritism. We are all broken people saved only by the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. An elder or priest has no higher place in the kingdom of God. They are brothers and sisters of Christ just as I am.

This brings me to another thought. When did the church begin the idea of “leading” so many things anyway? There were preachers in the first century, but when did the people stop praying and start relying on some “leader” to do that for them? I think that this is yet another result of our building-focused church mentality.

So, what do we do? It’s time to take back the neighborhood for Christ. It’s time for Christians everywhere to get back to evangelism. This is not about coercing someone into attending a service. It is about introducing people to the One who can save them from their sins. Only when we get out of our buildings and into the neighborhoods will communities be changed for Christ. Only then will the kingdom once again forcefully advance.

You do not have to wait on your minister or pastor or elders to get this started. You can start this today by merely talking to the person in the next cubicle or your next door neighbor. Then, in the midst of conversation and relationship you make sure that Christ becomes the focus. Do this in the context of love and passion for Christ and what He has done for you, and I guarantee that people will listen. They may not all respond, but your job is to plant seeds everywhere you go and let God give the increase.

You and I can never convert anyone. Anyone who says they can convert people is an egotist. Only God changes the hearts of men and women. We are merely his mouthpiece, so all glory goes to him.

May you have a new look at what it means to be the church. May your neighborhood be taken for the kingdom of God, and may the whole world be changed because you got outside of your church building and told people not about how great your church is, but about how great your God is.

God bless you, and if you need anything or would like to talk about this more, feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. Have a wonderful holiday, and take back the neighborhood!


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