Tag Archives: forgiveness

Communion…What Do I Do Now?

The Lord’s Supper is such a solemn time during the worship service each Sunday. The emblems are central to the life of every believer. Jesus said that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood we have no life in us and no part with him (John 6). This is probably the most important segment of our Sunday morning assembly. 

During this ritual, however, there is quite a bit of waiting. We wait and listen while the person says a few words to remind us why we participate. We wait for the tray to get to us each time it is passed around. We wait for everyone else to partake after us. So what should we be doing during this time?

I’ve heard people lead into the time of communion with the thought that we are to be examining ourselves. It is thought that we need to be introspective, considering the ways in which we are not right with God – our sinfulness. This comes from 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 which says,

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

Doesn’t this sound like we are to sit there during those waiting times and rake ourselves over the coals of guilt as we remind ourselves of the myriad of ways we fall short of being like Jesus? It does if we take this verse out of context. 

What was going on in Corinth that caused Paul to write this letter? The church there was full of immorality and division. In fact, the division in the church is what Paul begins the letter with addressing. In chapter 11, he once again addresses their division as an introduction to the verses we so often read to prepare for taking the Lord’s Supper. 

1 Corinthians 11:18-19
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”

Did you catch that? It is sarcasm. Paul thinks division within the church is a severe problem. In this division, the communion they partake of is not the Lord’s Supper. You cannot partake of this meal in division without judgment from God. 

In verse 29, he warns against eating and drinking without discerning the body. What does this mean? He is referring to the body of Christ – the church. Then, in verses 33-34 he encourages them to wait for one another. He’s trying to get them to practice unity. 

So, what are we to examine within ourselves while we wait? We are to see if we have some division within us concerning our brothers and sisters in the church. Do you have something against a brother? Does a sister have something against you? These divisions cause a church to be weak and sick (1 Corinthians 11:30). 

Maybe we should go back to practicing what Jesus commanded in the sermon on the mount. 

Matthew 5:23-24
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

What if the church was once again concerned with the ministry of reconciliation that we are called to administer (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)?

Next time you’re sitting and waiting during communion, pray for yourself and your relationships with your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Resolve to do your part to make reconciliation. Don’t wait for them to act – you be the mature follower of Jesus and make the first move. Then we will watch the church grow in strength and health as the church becomes even more unified in Jesus as one body. This will be an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17. 

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Have You Ever Stepped on a Bindii?

My front yard doesn’t have any grass.  Well, there’s no grass that we have planted.  It is mostly dirt, and I like it that way because it is pretty maintenance free.  In my front yard I have planted some raised beds with fruits and vegetables.  Our family also has some flowers and shrubs and vines. It’s not much, but watering everything in this desert is time spent relaxing each day.

As I water, though, other things tend to sprout in our yard.  We get some grasses and dandelions.  We get some tumbleweeds.  We get some bindii.

Maybe you’ve never heard of bindii.  It’s also know by several other names: bullhead, cat’s head, devil’s eyelashes, devil’s thorn, devil’s weed, and goathead.

People that complain about stepping on legos have never stepped on a goathead.  These plants, once they have formed the thorny seeds, can poke through a flip-flop.  When you step on one barefoot you have to manually remove it from your foot.  They are excruciatingly painful.

goathead lego

The problem with goatheads is that they pop up randomly throughout the summer – all over the place – and they spread rapidly.  When the plants first appear they seem harmless enough, but by the time they have begun to produce pretty yellow flowers they are already thorny.

I have to admit I’m pretty lax in pulling weeds.  Every day I water the plants and see the goatheads.  Every day I think about how I need to pull them when I’m done.  I think about how easy it is to pull those new plants before they get painful and produce the devilish seeds, but i don’t.

This is what is happening in our churches. It is what is happening in Christianity all across our nation.  We have weeds of sin that sprout up in our lives and in the lives of those we love who share our faith in Jesus, but because of grace we sit back and ignore the consequences of leaving those sins not dealt with.

We are reaping the consequences now as we watch our nation of churches become more and more identical to the world around us.  We revel in our tolerance though we claim outrage when the world continues to spiral toward condemnation.

I believe in grace.  It is the single thing that I have been given that causes me joy beyond joy, but I understand that grace is not meant to be cheapened by my lackadaisical approach to sin in my life or in the lives of those around me.

Paul says, in Romans 6, that sinning because you expect grace is ridiculous and contrary to the nature of the commitment you made when you were baptized into Christ.  “We died to sin.  How can we live in it any longer?”

I am watching as our nation makes decisions that go against the foundation upon which it was established.  I truly am not surprised that a bunch of humanists would make those kinds of decisions.  What I am surprised at is how many faith-professing Christians are endorsing these decisions.  I am surprised at the boldness of Christians to live with blatant sins seemingly without conscience on those matters.  I am surprised that the church is not taking a stronger stand against the invasion of the world into the church.  I am surprised that public repentance is nearly non-existent in most churches.

There is a place and time to be culturally relevant, but a Christian and a church must not compromise morality (emulating Jesus) in order to do so.  We are not even able to condone the lifestyles of those outside the church that contradict the plan and natural order set up by God Most High (Romans 1:32).

The church is supposed to be a place where people can come from every lifestyle and find God, but it is not supposed to be a place that excuses a continuation of sinful behavior in the name of grace.  If you want life change through forgiveness come to Jesus.  If you want your conscience eased while you continue in your sinful ways look elsewhere.

We have watched as weeds of sinfulness have crept into our churches, and we have sat idly by as those weeds became thorns and seeded new growth.  It’s time to call it what it is: sin.  It is time for the church to repent.  It is time to come back to an understanding of the severity of sin and run from it like Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife.   It is time to get real with one another in love as we help each other be rid of the sins that imprison us.

It is time for the church to stop focusing on the nation coming back to its heritage and come back to our own heritage of emulating the One who lived a sinless life.  We will not achieve sinless perfection in this life, but that should not cause us to stop trying and make excuses for what we do.  Grace is not given where sin is not repented of (Hebrews 10:26).

Wake up church. Quit stepping on the bindii. Repent, so that God can pull the weeds from your life and you can walk fresh in Him again. Forgiveness is available, and grace is given, but repentance is required.


What is the church of Christ?

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

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

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

What is the church of Christ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It’s Mine! You can’t have it!

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Grace. Christians talk about it a lot, but what is it? It is NOT simply a prayer. Though a prayer can be said with grace. It is not flawless elegance. It is not even that lady that died 30 years ago in “Christmas Vacation”. So what is grace?

Grace is one of the most beloved concepts in all of Christianity because it truly is what we all want. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.

It is not getting something worse than we deserve. We wouldn’t use the term “grace” to refer to the times when we got in trouble for something we didn’t do. No, grace is getting something better than we deserve.

Imagine you were driving down the highway – speeding – and got pulled over by a highway patrol officer. What you deserve is a ticket. Grace is like that officer coming to your window and handing you a $100 bill and wishing you a nice day. You deserved punishment but got a gift instead.

We love this because this is the central idea behind the death and resurrection of Jesus. We deserve death because of our sins (Romans 6:23), but instead of death, we not only get forgiveness, but we get righteousness and life in the presence of God forever. We deserve death, but we get life. We deserve prison, but we get freedom. That is grace.

Wouldn’t you want that? Have you received that? It is exactly what Jesus offers.

When you become a Christian – putting off the old self by connecting with Jesus in his death and resurrection through baptism – you receive the grace of God. That grace is never ending. Even when you sin in the future you will still receive grace and forgiveness.

We all want to receive grace, and we praise God for the grace we have received, but do we give it like we’ve received it?

The last time you went to a sit-down restaurant how did the waiter or waitress do? Did you pay him or her what they deserved or did you give them grace?

When someone asked you for assistance on the street corner, did you drive on by or give them grace?

When your husband or wife made you angry did you lash out or love them anyway showing them grace?

We are called to love God and love others. God loves us by giving us grace. Should we give any less to those around us?

“But you don’t understand. They’re so annoying! They keep doing the same stupid thing over and over again. Surely I am justified in my frustration with them. Surely I don’t have to always treat them that way. Shouldn’t I be treated well?”

I have to wonder if God feels the same way about us when we continually sin against him and against others. Yet, he still gives us grace. He still loves us immeasurably. His love never fails. He never gives up on us.

So I challenge you. Love others like God loves you. Don’t keep all the grace for yourself. Give them grace. Be like Jesus. Even when they were crucifying Him He prayed for their forgiveness. May your attitude be the same as His.


Filling a Full Cup

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Several years ago I watched a movie titled “The Forbidden Kingdom”. It didn’t look like much of a movie, but there was one scene where Jet Li was set to fight Jackie Chan. I watched it solely because I wanted to see that spectacular event, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The story is about a geeky American teenager – a huge fan of Kung Fu movies – who is transported to an ancient Chinese culture where he is the chosen one to fight the evil lord. It’s a pretty common story. Jackie Chan and Jet Li (their characters) are his trainers who are set to teach this boy true Kung Fu.

The problem is that the boy has filled his mind with all the moves from the movies he’s watched. He wants to do all these super cool moves, but they are just stunts from movies and not real Kung Fu.

When they realize this, his teachers get frustrated. They tell him it is impossible to fill a cup that is already full.

We are full people. We all have things and ideas and attitudes that fill our minds and lives each day. Walking the walk of a Christian is difficult because we are weighed down by what we have allowed to fill our lives.

Beginning next week we will begin a series at Aztec church of Christ where we will be talking about dying to self. But what does that mean? Death is such an intimidating concept.

Dying to self is dying to all the things that fill us that aren’t from God and don’t emulate Jesus. It is an emptying of rue cup so that the nature of Jesus can fill it.

Greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, frustration, impatience, un-forgiveness, busy-ness, addiction, selfishness, sin. All of these things fill our lives and hinder us from living free as God intends for us. The struggles we face in this life come because we are selfish beings who have yet to die to self.

Not all events are in our control, but our reaction to those events are shaped by how much of ourself we have allowed to die and be transformed into Christ’s likeness. Imagine a marriage where both people didn’t seek their own interests but only what God wills – only the love of the other. This can only happen when we die to self.

It’s not easy, and sometimes it’s painful, but then again those ideas only make us afraid because we are consumed with self.

It’s time to die young – to die before your physical death comes. It’s time to put yourself aside and be so focused on God that your life reflects the image of His Son, Jesus. If you die to yourself beforehand, the physical death we all encounter won’t be nearly so intimidating. It’s time to empty your cup so Christ can fill it.

Join us for “Die Young” beginning April 21. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about this concept of dying to yourself then I recommend you read the book “Die Young” by Michael and Hailey DiMarco.

God bless you as your life is transformed because you chose to die to yourself and live for Christ.


Church is Not a Country Club for Perfect People

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What has been your experience with church? Maybe you are a faithful attendee somewhere, but maybe you aren’t. Most people are familiar with Christian churches on some level. Some people have attended a church or two at various times. Some people have seen churches and church people on the news. Some people merely have family or friends that they know who “go to church”.

So what’s your experience?

The are many different kinds of churches out there, and like all things there are good and bad churches in the mix. Some churches are doing magnificent things to help the people and communities around them and around the world. Some churches have great motivational speakers with enormous campuses and loads of money. Some churches are known because of the hatred they spew on anyone who thinks or acts differently than them.

I want to stop right now and say that if your experience with church has been negative in any way, I’m sorry. I’m sorry if you were shunned or ridiculed. I’m sorry if people hated you. I’m sorry if you weren’t treated with love, grace, and respect. Those “churches” and church people aren’t followers of Jesus. They are merely role-players involved in a country club that calls itself church. That’s not what church is supposed to be.

Church is for everyone. Church is for you.

Jesus said the church was meant to be a hospital for people dealing with the hurts and hang-ups that life throws their way. It is meant to be a place of healing and love. It is to be a place where grace is not merely spoken of and accepted, but it is given freely. Church is a place where those who are alone can find a family.

The church is meant to be a place of joy and fellowship. It is a place where the bible is studied and taught. It is a family that laughs and cries together. It is a home away from home.

Churches that follow Jesus know this. They will welcome you – no matter who you are. They will accept you where you are, as you are, but they will love you enough to encourage you to walk with them as they strive to become more like Jesus.

Jesus died for the church. He rose from the dead for the church, and he opened wide the gate to anyone who wants to be a part of His church. He didn’t set men up to dictate what the church should believe. He sent His word through the bible to tell us His plan for us. People who truly follow Jesus study that word, and not the whim of some sinner.

I hope you have a wonderful church to which you belong. If not, you are welcome to worship with us at the Aztec church of Christ. We are a bunch of people who aren’t blood related but treat each other like family. We don’t dress up and don’t expect you to either. We serve Jesus, and we study His word in the bible to know how to be more like Him.

Come visit sometime. You can find out more about us on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AztecChurch or on our website at http://www.aztecchurch.org. You can even call our office and speak to me at (505) 334-6626. We would love to get to know you and welcome you as a family member. God bless you.


I Hereby Declare War on all Mosquitos…and other things

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I read in the news today that two more people in the Houston area have died as a result of West Nile Virus. I’m praying for their families.

It’s summer time, and I’ve been waiting all summer to start hearing stories around the nation of people infected with this horrible illness. The other day I saw an article where ten people have died in the Dallas area. This week’s news is the second such story of two people dying from the dreaded virus in the Houston area.

How do we deal with it? We declare all out war on the mosquito.

Have you ever seen a family declare war on mosquitos? They go to the store and buy Cutter and spray their yard. They invest into some sort of glowing blue light that joyously zaps the wretched critters as they fly. They douse their children with liquid bug repellent immediately upon entering the outdoor spaces. Their evening time outside is severely limited.

Cities get into the fight as well as they roam the streets with their trucks spraying noxious fumes out the back in hopes of eradicating these blood sucking annoyances. The city of Houston is going to do some aerial spraying specifically for west nile in the upcoming days. It’s all out war not just on the disease but on the cause of the disease.

Let me set something straight…I hate mosquitos. I champion the war against the critters and even have a Facebook page entitled “I Hereby Declare War on all Mosquitos”.

I also hate sin.

Sin also leads to death, and the statistics surrounding the mortality rate of sin are alarmingly more severe than that of those bit by mosquitos. If I’m bit by a mosquito I’ll probably live, statistically. But if I sin then there’s a 100% chance I’ll die.

The problem is, however, that we don’t treat sin like the lowly mosquito. We don’t put things in place to prevent its occurrence in our lives. We don’t stay out of areas where sin is more rampant. Frankly, we just don’t see it as that big of a deal.

But let me warn you; it is a huge deal.

You were created in the image of God to live for and with Him in a perfect, sinless life. When you sin you are cut off from God. Your world becomes broken, and the great plans that would have been set in place if you’d have remained pure are skewed. Your sin also tragically influences and affects the lives of those around you.

What’s worse? We are cut off from God when we sin. The first time you ever sinned you were cut off, and that sin stained you such that you can never get back to God on your own. You don’t have a detergent strong enough to get rid of that stain. But God does.

God loves you so much that he wants to remove that sin. So he sent Jesus. And for all who come to him and receive His grace and forgiveness, He cleanses their sin. It’s a pretty great deal.

Sadly, most people choose to keep their sin. Even people who have “given their life to Christ” often continue to treat sin like its no big deal. They not only continue to sin but approve of those who do so (Romans 1:32).

You are called beyond that. You are called to hate sin more than you hate mosquitos. Imagine what kind of world we would live in if people attacked sin in their lives like they attack that minuscule bug. When we treat sin with apathy we dishonor the cross of Christ where He willingly suffered for those sins we are so eager to commit.

Brothers and sisters let’s take up a new cause and allow the Spirit of Christ to truly eradicate sin in all areas of our lives. May we hate sin in our lives (Romans 6:1-7). May we be changed and allow the righteousness of Christ to shine in us (2 Corinthians 5:21). May we give honor to the sacrifice that was made, once for all, by the Son of God Himself.

If you want to know more about allowing Christ to rid you of your sin, please feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon,net or via my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God will bless you – He already has.


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