Tag Archives: friends

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. 

Advertisements

Any ole excuse will do…

IMG_0412.JPG

In Luke 14, Jesus tells an odd little story.  It’s also mentioned in Matthew 22.

In this story, a rich man holds a great banquet, not unlike a party of today, and he invites all his friends and relatives and coworkers and other influential people, but one-by-one they all make excuses as to why they can’t come.  This hurts the master, and frustrates him too, so he orders the servants to go out and drag in all the poor and oppressed people off the streets of his town.  After they do all that, he has them go out into the countryside and get all those people too so that the party would be a full success.

Jesus said this is like the kingdom of heaven, and I believe it.

First of all, the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are terms that are interchangeable for the same concept.  This is the rule or reign of God in our lives here on earth that causes us to be citizens of heaven.  Like the song says, “This world is not my home…”

We then, as Christians, are citizens of heaven, and you know we are citizens when you see the reign of God in our lives.  However, there are many people today who are just like these townsfolk in Luke 14.

These people make excuse after excuse as to why they shouldn’t attend the banquet.  One has some new oxen and needs to try them out.  One just bought a field and needs to go inspect it.  One just got married.

People today make similar excuses when faced with the decision of whether or not to follow God’s guidance in their life.  I see it all the time.  Someone has an opportunity to serve in some capacity to help others, but they are tired or have a party to go to.  Someone has an opportunity to tell someone else about Jesus, but they just aren’t gifted in that way – let someone else do it.  Someone has an opportunity to be at church with the rest of the kingdom of God, but it’s too early or too dull or too whatever.

As Christians, we are called to live as Children of God.  We are expected to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, but this kingdom is not a democracy.  It is a totalitarian dictatorship with God as supreme ruler.  The difference here that makes it attractive, however, is that the citizens get pardon after pardon because of the King’s Son.  The citizens are treated with respect and love.  The citizens were created by the King, and the King knows how each citizen should live to have the best life possible – eternal life.

So what kind of citizen are you?  Do you make excuse after excuse as to why you don’t need to do more than attend church every now and again?  Or are you the kind of citizen who follows God and allows Him to reign in your life?

I think that you’ll find the latter option to be the most fulfilling, rewarding existence possible.  Just today I heard someone say that you’ll never find happiness through self seeking.  It seems that it would work out great to please yourself in order to be happy, but it actually works quite the opposite.

So seek God and His reign in your life, and stop making excuses about it.  Then, get to the banquet – we have one every Sunday (we call it communion).


If If’s and But’s Were Candy and Nuts…

20120118-094854.jpg

When I was growing up my mother had this saying that really annoyed me: If if’s and but’s were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas.

Back then I kind of understood it, but now I have a great appreciation for this saying.

Are you the kind of person who says, from time to time, “if only…”? What good does that do? When I was younger this was a popular habit of mine. I would beat myself up with the what if’s and tear myself down with the if only’s. These did me no good. They only made me feel worse.

So what about you? Do you have a past relationship that you’ve often wondered about? If only… Have you lost a job you loved, and you wonder “what if…”?

I find that when I have the mindset that regrets things not done that could have been then I am a miserable soul indeed. I even begin to go into conversations worried about having the right words or doing the right things to make everything go smoothly. I want the best from each moment of life, but the more I struggle to try to make each moment the best myself the more frustrated I am with the minute details of the moment that didn’t go right.

I am a big fan of the movie “The Matrix”, and I have seen all three of them multiple times. I’m not as big a fan of the second and third installments, but in the second movie there is a scene in which the trio that is out to save the world has a conversation that doesn’t go as they expected. One of them begins to complain about the situation when the character that is more prophet-like stops her and reminds her that it couldn’t have happened any other way, but there must be a reason for it to be that way.

When I saw this it reminded me of what Jesus said in Matthew 6. “Do not worry.” If I remember that God is always in control, then I can have much more peace in each situation. God has promised us to turn every situation out for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28). If I trust in that promise then I know that as long as I have surrendered my life to Him then whatever I put my hand to will turn out the way it was intended.

If I have prayed over a situation or conversation before I meet, then I can have peace that God will direct my words and actions. Even when I feel like things didn’t go as well as expected, I can trust that God used whatever was said or done to enhance the situation of all involved.

What this does is grant much more freedom. I no longer have to worry about how things are going to go. I don’t have to have regrets from the past. The things that happened happened and the things that will happen will happen. I am not in control. God is!

This also has great implications on whether or not I share the message of Jesus with others. When I am worried what they will think or whether or not I will have the right words, then I hesitate and often do not do the things which are necessary for their salvation. But when I surrender myself to God and His will, then it doesn’t matter whether or not I have the right worlds. All that matters is that I love the other person and try. God will give the blessing.

It is my prayer that you can be freed from a life of regret. May you stop saying the “what ifs” and the “if onlys”. May your life be fuller because of a lack of worry, and may you trust that God will certainly turn every situation out for your good.

If there is anything I can do for you or pray with you about, feel free to contact me at 245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you as you live in His freedom!


%d bloggers like this: