Tag Archives: family

Why Did Jesus Weep?

20140124-103254.jpg

Death is hard. I used to think that I dealt with death pretty well, but these last two weeks have been pretty taxing.

Last week I had the honor of ministering to a family who had lost a young man who was 33. He went to sleep and didn’t wake up. He left behind two young children. This past week I was honored again to be able to minister to another family who lost a son, brother, and husband who was 28. He was murdered while helping a lady with her car.

Death is hard.

Unfortunately death is an inevitability for each and every one of us. How will we deal with it? How do we prepare for what will eventually befall us? Are you ready?

So many people live this life with a focus on today or even yesterday. We are supposed to do that, but we must never forget that there will come a day when we will meet our Maker. We must be prepared because we aren’t even guaranteed to make it out of today alive. James, the brother of Jesus, talks about how fragile our lives are. He says they are a mist or vapor that appears only for a moment. Then he speaks to what I think is key. He says (my paraphrase) to take advantage of every moment while here on earth.

I’ll be honest with you. My hope and confidence is in the resurrection. I plan on living forever with the Almighty, my Abba. I have confidence in this because I’ve been united with His Son in His death and resurrection. Romans 6 talks about when we are united with Christ. Then it says if we have been united with Jesus’ death and resurrection we will also have eternal life today and even after we physically die.

Do you have confidence that you will be raised to live with Christ forever? Do you have your plan for the future? Is your plan based on what your Creator has said in His word?

Death comes quickly. Death is hard. And for many people death is sad. But for those who have been united with Christ in His death and resurrection death is not the end. For us death is actually a time of celebration for the journey of our loved one is complete as he or she is ushered into the presence of the One they longed to see face to face – the Creator.

Paul says to the church in Corinth that they didn’t not have to grieve like those who have no hope because of the resurrection of Jesus.

Yet death is still hard.

Jesus went to raise his friend, Lazarus, from the dead. He had waited longer in the place he was before going just because he knew that Lazarus was going to die and he was going to raise his friend to glorify God. Yet, when he got to the funeral on the fourth day after Lazarus’ death he still saw all the people weeping, grieving over the loss of their loved one and Jesus wept too. He knows how hard death is on us. He loves us in the midst of it, and he offers a way to overcome death.

Jesus has overcome death through his resurrection. He offers that opportunity to you as well. Would you give your life to him and allow him to wash away all that keeps you from having eternal life? Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come.

Advertisements

The Secret Sin of the Church

20140116-094407.jpg

Have you ever been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting? If you’ve been or even heard of what goes on there, then I’m sure you’ve probably heard how each person introduces themselves when he or she gets up to speak. “My name is [insert name here], and I’m an alcoholic.”

It doesn’t matter if they quit drinking yesterday or 20 years ago; the introduction is the same.

They recognize that it would only take one drink to get them back into the habit. Only one drink to shatter their lives once more.

Drug addicts are similar in their meetings and understanding of how precarious their sobriety really is. It is said that someone who has been off drugs and begins again doesn’t start back slowly. Oftentimes they start back with even more than they quit with.

I experienced this hard reality when I was in preaching school. A good friend of mine had been clean for years, but with the influence of another student got back into drugs. I didn’t know until I had to go visit him in the hospital because of an overdose. Thankfully The Lord spared us all from having to mourn his death.

There is another addiction people struggle with even (maybe especially) in the church, but no one seems to be talking about it.

My name is Jonathan Dobbs. I’m a preacher, and I struggle with pornography.

The first time I ever saw inappropriate images such as these was the day after church camp when I was a boy. Those images have never left my mind no matter how hard I try to get rid of them.

When I went to Harding University (a Christian university), I got really exposed. There was a computer lab in the physics building that didn’t have a firewall or filters, and a row of computers didn’t face the door. Plus, no one hardly ever went into the physics computer lab at Harding when I was there. That opportunity coupled with the influences of the young men in the dorm all around me allowed me exposure to things that rid me of whatever innocence I had left.

I understand the urge to look even against my better judgement. I understand the feeling of disgust after having participated in such viewing. I know the dark places my mind would go when I went on a pornography binge. I understand the mental gymnastics used to justify such actions. I know that it only takes one weak day to take me back to those places of mental, sinful bondage.

Such things are rarely talked about in churches, yet this particular sin affects almost every young person today and in many generations recently past. We talk often about homosexuality, abortion, adultery and “shacking up” yet many more people are participating in a much more harmful sin. The problem with porn is that it is so subtle in the ways it destroys you that many people believe it’s not hurting them at all.

Porn addicts are much like alcoholics and drug addicts. They need accountability. They need to be away from the temptation. If they fall back into the habit they often fall hard. Porn addiction controls its victim.

As a church we need to be people who understand this problem. We don’t need to shame people for having struggles with this – they feel shame enough. We don’t need to sit in condemnation for their sin is no worse than yours. We need to love them and befriend them and hold them accountable.

As I’ve been in recovery there are a few things that have helped tremendously. First, I immersed my life in the presence of God and his word. I strategically placed key verses around my computer like Philippians 4:8. I made sure that I had purpose for the time I spent on the computer. The most important thing I did, however, was find accountability partners. The most important accountability partner I have is my wife.

This struggle isn’t just for dirty boys. It’s for men and women. It is for singles and married people. It is for young and old. Just this week I read an open letter to Christian churches by an 18 year old girl recounting how her first experience with porn was at age 8. I’ve personally known of children not much older than that who struggle with pornography. Don’t be deceived. It is everywhere, and we as a church need to be a place of recovery.

If you struggle with porn you are not alone. I can help you find resources to battle the temptation, and I am an understanding ear. If you don’t struggle with porn, then present yourself as available and accepting to those who do. You make an excellent accountability partner. I pray for the women and men exploited by this industry. I pray for the church as she learns to deal with this issue in a more open way. I pray for you in your struggle. Please pray for me as I continue to overcome. Don’t keep your struggle a secret. You are not alone. Jesus still loves you, and so do I.


Doing church

20130911-101631.jpg

When you’re lying around thinking about things, what do you think about? What captures those valuable moments of meditation as you allow your mind to wander? When you get up, what do you do? What things are necessary that dictate your actions? As you do those things what is your attitude? Do you enjoy the life you are living, the things you think about and what you do?

Many of us have hobbies. Those are usually things that we love to do, and when we aren’t doing those things we are thinking about those things. When we are given the opportunity to be immersed into our hobby for a while we jump at the chance.

Many of us love sports. We have our favorite teams. We don’t miss a game. We wear the paraphernalia. If we get a chance to actually go to the game we jump at the chance and tell just about everyone we can because we are so excited.

Many of us have families. We cater to our children’s needs. We serve them to the point of fatigue and then some. We spend time together playing and working. We teach them. We are engaged in our families. When we aren’t with them we are thinking about them. When we are away we can’t wait to be back with our family.

What if we treated our hobbies, favorite teams, or families like we treat our commitment to the Kingdom of God?

What if we only saw our family on Sunday mornings for two hours? What if the family needed our help, but we were always too busy to help or figured someone else would come to their aid? What if when we were with our family we were constantly thinking about all the other things we would rather do away from our family?

How much of a fan would you be if you didn’t spend time getting to know your team? How skilled would you be at your hobby if you only went to lectures and heard about how to do your hobby but never actually got busy doing your hobby?

This is how many people “do church”. We come on Sunday mornings. Many people don’t even come for class even though it’s only an hour sooner. We sing a few songs we don’t even realize the words to. Then we listen to a sermon while thinking about what is for lunch. When we are done we shake the mandatory hands and say “hi” to others, but we are really glad to be done with this portion of our week.

We are called to so much more in our walk with Jesus.

Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

In many churches there is a core group that understand the need to work together as a family to help spread the message of the good news of Jesus. The majority of the church is only engaged on Sunday mornings.

If we are really honest, the majority of our Christianity consists of what we do and who we are Monday through Saturday.

If your church needs you, don’t wait for someone else to get involved. We are all called to be active in working to he’ll the kingdom of God grow. Your church does need you.

You have been given the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus needs you to. Offer everything to Him all the time. Let Him give you rest, but you only need rest after you’ve exhausted yourself by working. Let’s get to work.


Time is of the Essence

20130903-113353.jpg

Do you ever feel like you have enough time in the day? Are you a busy person? Are you a procrastinator? Does time seem to be moving faster and faster the older you get?

The other day my kids were watching a movie on Netflix. It was a kids show about some children who are spies (conveniently called “Spy Kids”). The dilemma in this show was that the bad guy was stealing time. He was making the clocks all around the world speed up.

The problem was that he was doing it for a good reason. He had lost his father and was trying to teach all people around the world to value the time they have with others. I think the bad guy had a good point.

We take for granted what becomes commonplace in our lives. Through the years we become accustomed to the idea that there will be tomorrow. We make decision based on plans for the future.

The other day I heard a sad story of a person who took the future for granted. This person had been studied with about Jesus and what He did to save us. This person believed the message and wanted to be baptized to give his life to The Lord, but in the end he decided to put it off until a later date.

Fast forward several years, and the person has still not dedicated his life to Christ. He out it off until a better time but that better time seemed to never come. When the decision was in the forefront of his mind he let other factors influence his decision to do what was right. Now he’s dead.

Death is finality. There is no more opportunity for the things you wished to do to come true. The decisions you neglected stay neglected. You are given one shot at living this life.

Hebrews says, “It is destined for man to die one and then to face judgment.” Reincarnation isn’t an option. There will be no time after death to undo the mistakes of your past. All of those mistakes need to be dealt with right now.

That’s why every time we read of someone being convicted of their need for Christ in the New Testament there was immediate response in baptism.

Time is of the essence. Time is fleeting. Now is the time to do what is right. Don’t put off till tomorrow what should be done today. All of these clichés are appropriate for you if you know you need to come to Christ but have been putting it off.

Have you been baptized? Have you been forgiven? Do you have the Spirit living in you? If not, then don’t wait until a better time to get that fixed. The time is now. God is calling.


“Lord, Bless This Food”

20130731-111440.jpg

[This is me beginning of a series on things we do without thinking as Christians. Maybe we don’t remember why we do them. They can be big or small things. If you’d like to suggest a topic for this series comment below.]

Once upon a time a man was hunting in the woods. He was a long way from civilization when he ran into a grizzly bear. Doing his best to move quietly away from the bear he stepped on a twig and it snapped loudly.

At that the bear noticed the hunter and began to make chase, so the man ran as fast as he could to get away from the bear. As each second passed the bear inched closer to the hunter. When the hunter couldn’t run any further he knelt down and prayed, “Lord, please make this bear a Christian.”

The bear was running full speed to get to the man, and when it arrived it stopped suddenly. It got down on its knees and the hunter heard the bear say, “Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive.”

This is a silly story, but if you are a Christian how many times have you heard this prayer or said this prayer before you’ve begun to eat? For many cultures it is odd enough that Christians pray before meals (a ritual which is actually healthy), but the prayer seems odd, doesn’t it?

“Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive.”

Hasn’t He already blessed it? Didn’t God cause it to grow? Didn’t He provide it for you? Didn’t He fill it with nutrients to give you strength and energy? He HAS blessed it!

So why do we pray this prayer? Well, it goes back to the King James translation of the bible. When Jesus was in the upper room and they were partaking of the last supper the scripture said that Jesus broke the bread, but what he did before that changed the way we began our meals for generations.

The King James Version says this in Matthew 26:26

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

In looking at the original language this passage doesn’t really translate that way. Instead, it is better translated that instead of blessing the bread he “gave thanks” for the bread.

Doesn’t that make more sense? Shouldn’t we be thankful for that which God has already blessed? It’s just a small thing, but watch and see how many people do this. The next time you’re somewhere that the person praying asks God to bless the food just smile and be grateful with an “Amen”.

[Next week we will address why we take our hats off during prayers.]


Timothy was 5

20130627-092610.jpg

Timothy’s sister, Sarah, was very ill and in the hospital. This concerned Timothy very much. He looked up to his big sis, and she was his whole world. Timothy was 5 and Sarah was 8.

As the treatments continued the doctors determined that Sarah needed a blood transfusion in order to save her life. They began the search for who would have the right type of blood to save Sarah’s life. Timothy even had his blood tested. He didn’t like the prick, but it was worth it for his big sister.

After the tests were completed it was determined that Timothy was a perfect match as a blood transfusion donor for his sister. They explained the procedure to Timothy, and after only a little bit of convincing Timothy agreed.

The doctors quickly got everything ready, and before he knew it Timothy was laying on a bed next to his sister. She had all sorts of tubes and machines connected to her. Her eyes were closed, but Timothy smiled as he looked at her. He was saving her life.

Not long after the procedure began Timothy began to silently weep. No one noticed at first. When Timothy’s mom realized he was crying she went to him and asked him what was wrong.

“How long till I die?”

Everyone in the room froze as the impact of the question set in. Timothy agreed to the blood transfusion, but in his mind he was giving all his blood – his very life – to save his sister. This five year old had given the greatest sacrifice so that his sister could live.

What would you give so that others would live?

There are many things that you can give to bring life to others. You can give time, prayer, effort, money, services, etc. Jesus said that the greatest love someone could show is to give their life for their friends. Then Jesus called his disciples friends.

How much do you give so that others can live?

Do you give your time, money, effort, prayers? Many people go to church each week but are merely consumers of all that goes on there. Then, if things aren’t going their way, or if they aren’t being “fed” what they desire to consume, then they are the loudest complainers. Are you one of these consumer Christians?

In 2 Samuel 24:24 David wanted to worship God in sacrifice. The landowner offered to give him the land and the sacrifice. David could have consumed these goods and given little effort to worship God, but he refused. He refused to worship God in a way that cost him nothing.

We are called to make sacrifices every day and in many ways. In our churches we are called to make sacrifices of praise to The Lord. But we are also called to give. It won’t kill you to give, but many people act like it will.

If you are giving pocket change each week I challenge you to dig a little deeper until you feel the pain of sacrifice. If you aren’t giving at all, I challenge you to get started right away. Giving is a blessing when you do it. Even God promises to pour out copious amounts of blessings on those who give in Malachi 3.

So let’s be people who give. And let’s watch together as our giving provides new ways for people to come to life in Christ.


A Vapor in the Wind

20130619-110635.jpg

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.


%d bloggers like this: