Tag Archives: example

Inventory


It’s time to take an inventory.

Take a moment to inventory your friends list. Not the one on Facebook full of people you barely know; I’m talking about your friends you communicate with regularly. Do you have it? 

What are they like? Do they function at a similar economic level as you? Do you frequent the same places for fun? Do you have similar moral and religious beliefs? Are you roughly the same age?

When was the last time you spent an extended period of time with people vastly different than you? 

Some people hesitate to surround themselves with people of questionable morality or intentions. They are afraid that doing so will be a sign of condoning such behavior. Some are afraid that doing so will cause them to fall into sin (a worthy concern). Yet who did Jesus spend time eating and fellowshipping with? 

Over and over we see Jesus with people who aren’t religious. They aren’t moral. In fact, they are the people looked down on by others. They are the people with bad reputations. They were the people used as examples by the religious leaders. Yet Jesus went directly to them – not to preach at them, but to love them.

But how can we love someone so blatantly different than us? 

Matthew 9:36

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Jesus had compassion on the crowd. He didn’t look down on them in pity. He saw them as lost and helpless, and he hurt for them. They needed love first – then guidance. They needed acceptance – then deliverance. They needed true interest from him – then transformation. 

Jesus wouldn’t have been the great game-changer of history if he had gone around lambasting everyone for their blatant disregard for the law of God. No one would have listened. Instead, he loved people. He loved them in spite of their anger, lying, fornication, ignorance, betrayal, distrust, immorality, etc. He loves us in spite of our humanity. Maybe he loves us because of our humanity. 

Maybe you need to hang out in a place that is uncomfortable for you. Not just once. Hang out there often enough for people to get to know you and you to know them. And just love them no strings attached. 

It’s hard sometimes. 

When you’re surrounded by drunks it’s hard. When people are spewing immorality it’s hard. When someone walks up displaying their alternative lifestyle it’s hard. 

But it’s right to love them. 

Sometimes the hardest thing isn’t being there. Sometimes the hardest thing is keeping your mouth shut when you want to get preachy and share some superior moral wisdom. 

But when they see you genuinely love them, you may have more than ample opportunity in the future to share the love of Jesus with words because they saw his love in your actions. 

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Thoughts on Thievery 


Twice this week our church building has been broken into. I’m frustrated.

I talk week in and week out about love, but when times like these come they test our resolve to love.

What should our response be in times like these? Should we seek justice? Should we roll over like a rug mat?

It’s hard to think straight. I feel violated having someone in my office, uninvited, rifling through my desk. Fortunately nothing of high value was stolen. Fortunately no one was hurt. But now there’s this uneasiness I feel in the area. I felt this same way years ago when my car was broken into in California.

It seems so cliche, but how would Jesus respond?

Things are things. People are created in the image of God. They are loved by Him. Their lives are valuable to Him. He yearns for their salvation.

Jesus would pray first. He wouldn’t verbally try to process things and get worked into a froth first like I often tend to do. He would pray first to find his source of strength and center.

He would pray for the salvation of the thieves. He would pray for love to abound in himself that they might know God through the undeserved love of the Son. He would pray for an opportunity to love them directly in word and deed.

Would He seek justice? Only if that would lead to their repentance.

Would he spend money on surveillance and security systems? It’s hard to tell. I’m not sure Jesus would be very concerned about a church building at all. Sometimes ownership of stuff distracts from the more meaningful purposes in life.

Are church buildings a good investment? In this culture they seem to be. We are much more urbanized than in centuries past. The closer the people are together, the larger the gatherings tend to be. The larger the gatherings, the greater the need for a gathering place. And it’s cold outside. Very cold. I’m thankful for a warm place to get together with my forever family.

Jesus came to this earth and functioned within the current religious and social culture of the day. I think he would do the same today – church buildings and all.

So, what is our response when we who are striving to live for Christ are violated in such a way? Pray. Pray for the people who broke in to find love and freedom from sin in Christ. Pray for ourselves that we may find peace and lose our need for vindication. Pray to see through the eyes of Christ and love with His heart and His Spirit within us.

May God bring life-change to those who broke into our building. May God bring a forgiving Spirit to our hearts and allow us to be an example to the rest of our community and the world. May God be glorified in all things.

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.


Cussing Christians

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I grew up in the Bible Belt – in the Deep South. In that area, religion pervades every area of life. Even though most people are only marginally Christians, the Christian ideals influence the moral compass of that society.

In the South, there are ways a person is supposed to behave and ways they aren’t. In the South, you’re supposed to treat women right and work hard to provide for your family. In the South, what church you belong to can function as a status symbol that can help you out in social and business circles. In the South, your language matters.

Growing up in the South and in the church, I was taught often about what I am not allowed to say. I remember being told that “crap” was a bad word when I was a child. By the time I reached my teenage years, “crap” was being used by adults at church. I remember being shocked the first time I heard it used by an adult I thought was spiritually elite.

I had learned about the “B” word, “D” word, “S” word, “A” word and “F” word. I knew these words weren’t to be used in social settings, and if I stubbed my toe and said one of these, I needed to repent because saying such was a sin.

I have seen how media has increasingly incorporated each of these words into mainstream media. On TV you can hear most of these in regular programming. If you watch original programming on Netflix, you may encounter all of these words.

So, the question poses itself: are these words really bad?

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

James 3:8-10 (ESV)
…but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

See? The bible talks about curse words!

Really?

If you look at the context of scriptures that talk about our language use, time after time you will see that our language is to be used to build others up. If we are tearing people down with our words, then we are sinning against others.

You can use “four letter words” to tear people down. People do it all the time – cussing someone out. But you can also tear people down with socially acceptable words that can even inflict worse damage.

Calling some “good for nothing” or “worthless” is no better nor more acceptable to God than using profanity against them. To call someone stupid or fat does the same or maybe worse than any four letter word. When we ridicule and cut and deride and slander and gossip, we are sinning against those whom the Lord created in His image to be His children.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words cut to the heart.

The scriptures, when talking about “unwholesome talk” isn’t addressing the times when you stub your toe and say a colorful euphemism. The scriptures are addressing the way you speak to others around you. Are you building them up or tearing them down?

Words are like money and guns. They are not inherently evil by themselves. Their worth is determined by how we use them.

So, is it ok to flippantly use words our culture considers “profanity”? The context of your conversation matters tremendously. When speaking about eating meat sacrificed to idols, Paul refers to the context of the meal to convince Christians that their actions may inadvertently cause others to go against their consciences.

To cause someone to go against their conscience (even unintentionally) is to sin against Christ (1 Corinthians 9). So we must be always on guard with our language.

So, can Christians cuss? The scriptures don’t really address much of what goes for cussing today. What the scriptures speak to directly is our treatment of others with our words. Build others up. Don’t tear them down – no matter what words you use.


Growing in the Desert

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Living in the desert has it’s pros and cons. I love the scenery and the open spaces. I love the sunsets and the monsoon storms. I love the variety of colors in the terrain all around us. I used to think that the desert meant sand dunes and lifeless barrenness, but I now know how wrong that assumption truly is.

One of the things that is hard about living in the desert is the immense amount of sand. People talk about dirt of varying types and textures, but my yard is just primarily sand. When the wind blows hard there is dust everywhere – sand. Even the rock isn’t truly rock here but solidified sand.

Have you ever tried to grow things in sand. My yard is sand with a little clay and not much of any kind of nutrients. There is very little that grows here without being super-hearty.

It is possible to grow things here, but in order to do so we have to add nutrient-rich soil to the mix and provide plenty of water. Even our air is super-dry, so water is an absolute must in the desert in order to make things grow.

But things can grow here. We are successfully growing strawberries and tomatoes and mint and chives and pole beans. If you drive around you’ll find people growing all sorts of wonderful things in the middle of the desert.

This morning as I was watering our plants I couldn’t help but think of the desert of the world in which we live. Jesus provides sustenance and living water but so many people are trying to grow and live without that living water. You can see it in their lives that they are thirsty for something different, something more.

Our children are especially thirsty for this. When you have a young plant it needs even more water to survive than when it is mature. The same is true for our children. If we aren’t feeding them this life-giving water then the world will fill them with the poison of selfishness.

How will we grow without Jesus? How will the kingdom grow without our children growing up in the knowledge of the One who gives life to all mankind? The world is focused on our children. It wants to win them over to its purposes and pleasures. If we want our children to have true life we are going to need to be stronger and more intentional than the world around us.

This doesn’t mean taking them out of the world, but it does mean modeling to them a lifestyle that is healthy from a constant diet of the word of God and the water of life.

If you’re not feeding on the word of God (the bible) and soaking in the water of life (the Holy Spirit) then you’re malnourished yourself. Your life is a desert. Jesus wants you to be a healthy garden filled with the fruit of His Spirit. As you grow into that beautiful garden, your children and other children you’re around will want to grow into little gardens themselves.

We can grow in the desert, but it has to be intentional. His Word is real food, and His Spirit is life-giving water. Let’s feast together and become a garden that transforms this desert back into the garden God originally intended it to be.


a-Moral Dilemma

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I have been a part of churches all my life. I have worshipped all over this country with various denominations and even experienced worship times with various faiths. In the Christian realms, however, there is a trend that isn’t catching on…it’s running full steam ahead through our church cultures.

This trend is to claim belief in God but live any way we want to live. It is a claim of faith but coupled with a self-indulgent lifestyle devoid of church attendance.

As a minister I cannot sit idly by and not say anything about this disease. If this is what we expect Christianity to be then Satan has won! We cannot claim belief in God and ignore what His word says. If you believe that God doesn’t care about how you live, then you believe in a God that you created. It is NOT the God of the bible. It is a human-invented creation. It will NOT save you.

I continually have conversations with people who profess deep belief in God yet are not a part of His church in any way. I meet people who are “Christians” yet live with their significant others in a very NOT-marriage relationship. I know Christians all over who publicly, through Facebook and Twitter and other social network sites, profess to have no issue with and even support those living lifestyles that are blatantly against the moral standard that God has set in His word. God’s word, the bible, clearly speaks against each of these things.

Friends, if you are a Christian but don’t even attempt to conform to God’s expectations for your life, then you are not a Christian.

A Christian is a Christ-Follower. A Christian values the words of God and seeks to live them the way Jesus lived them. Christians aren’t proud drunkards. Christians aren’t openly living with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Christians don’t actively encourage others to continue in their ungodly lifestyles. Christians aren’t disconnected from the church.

Christians are sinners who are trying to sin less. Sin is something they want to be rid of, not brag about. Sin is a very real thing in the life of a sinner. Sin is the reason they need Jesus. Sin is the reason I need Jesus. I cannot be a Christian apart from the church any more than a finger can live severed from the rest of a body.

I am not perfect, and I am sure you aren’t either. I receive the forgiveness of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus as the Holy Spirit guides my life, but if I’m continuing to openly, unashamedly live a sinful lifestyle then I’m not following after the Holy Spirit. I’m following after my flesh, and that is easily influenced by the evil one. It’s even easier for the evil one to be in control when I’m not strengthened by the encouragement of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you’ve been living this kind of lifestyle then the good news is that Jesus offers new life today! Repent! Turn away from your sin and turn to God. Get involved in church. You won’t be perfect, but your heart turned toward Him is reflected by your actions. You’ll see change in your life, and others will too. And God honors that.

Jesus didn’t die so that we could continue to sin. He died so that He could show us the way out of this sin-led life, and He gave us his church to help us live the life He called us to through encouragement and fellowship. If you’d like to come back to Jesus in a real way, then I’d love to visit with you. You are invited and welcome to be a part of His family – it is not full of shame regarding the way you used to live – it is full of celebration that you left that life to live the life He intended for you to live all along.


No More Absent-Minded Parenting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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