Tag Archives: gospel

By This Gospel…


“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)

Image there was a supreme, other-dimensional being that decided to create some humanoids. He would have a plan for them to love each other and even love him. If they got out of line, there would be strict consequences, for they were the created beings without the right to dictate their own way. 

Imagine that the beings that were created were considered awesome by this supreme being, and he began to love them as if they were his own offspring. However, the created ones began to rebel and do their own thing. They began to treat one another with disdain and hatred rather than love. They began to destroy the habitat in which they were placed. They began to destroy one another. 

The supreme being had set the rules in place from the beginning of this creation, and now he had to justly punish these beings, but he loved them. 

He tried to encourage them to turn back to his ways by showering them with blessings even allowing them to reap the consequences of their behavior. Try as they might, however, the created ones just couldn’t break this selfish habit that had become ingrained into their culture to the very roots. 

The supreme being could destroy them. He created them, after all. But he loved them. He wanted to see them succeed and find the blessing of life with him. He wanted them to have the opportunity to graduate from this lesser world of imperfection and be able to become perfect in his realm. 

But he couldn’t understand why they turned away. They didn’t understand how much he loved them. 

So one day he created himself into their world as a humble baby. Maybe if he grew up as one of them he could understand them more and see how to show them the way to himself. Maybe if he was tempted as they are he would be able to have compassion for them, and they would be able to see his compassion and love. 

There still lingered the need for consequence for their decision to turn their backs on him and overthrow his reign over their lives. 

He loved them so much that he decided to take their punishment for them. He inflicted on himself the death that they deserved. He granted them freedom from the consequences of their selfishness so that they would turn to him and live once again in a love-relationship with their creator. He proved his majesty and promise-keeping ability by raising himself from the dead with witnesses. 

This freedom from consequences would be granted to all people for all time with one catch. They would need to want it. They would need to want a relationship with the creator defined by love and freedom. 

Some wanted it and some didn’t. Even today, some respond to the call, and some don’t. But for those who realize the goodness of this creator, the salvation offered isn’t just good news. It’s great news!

When the angel announced the birth of the messiah, this is the story to which he referred when he proclaimed the “good news of great joy…for all people”. Good news. Gospel. 

“By this gospel you are saved…” (I Corinthians 15:2)

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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.


“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!


Like a Good Neighbor…

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How well do you know your neighbor?

I used to live in Arkansas on a dirt road several miles out of town. Our closest neighbor was across the street but you couldn’t see our next-door neighbors’ houses. It was nice living in the country. We would watch the sun set across the fields with the deer playing in the pastures. Our family would go for walks on the dirt road, and we knew the people that lived there. In fact, except for a couple of houses at the beginning of the road, the rest of the houses were owned by the same family.

It was a safe, wonderful place to live.

When we moved to Bay City the culture of where we lived changed dramatically. We went from living in the country to living in a subdivision. We went from having acres between us and our neighbors to having only a few feet between us.

All of a sudden we lived in a place where our we had to make a quick choice on how we would live. Would we retreat into our home and act like we still lived in the seclusion of the country, or would we get outside and meet those around us? Would we embrace the idea of living in community?

We chose the latter, and it has been a wonderful decision.

It is great to know my neighbors! I can honestly say I feel safer for our family because I know the people that live around us. In fact, they aren’t just acquaintances; they are our friends. Our children play with their children. One of our neighbors is an elderly lady who is as sweet as she can be and our children treat her like their own grandma. When we go out of town our neighbors are great about helping keep an eye on our house. Getting to know each of their personalities has been a treat!

Do you know your neighbors?

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”. But he didn’t stop there. Then he added, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Then, Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” To this, Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. Many of you already know this story. In telling this, he opened up the scope of who is
our neighbor.

Our neighbors are not simply the other people in your particular congregation. Our neighbor isn’t just the person living next door. Our neighbor is anyone who is in need.

Often times I hear people who balk at the idea of doing evangelism because they just aren’t “gifted” to do that. What they don’t realize is that evangelism isn’t difficult at all. All we need to do is live for Jesus and keep the praise of God on our lips. But we cannot do this in a cave (we call it a house) or even inside a fort (often referred to as a church building). We must live this way in the context of neighbors. We cannot fulfill the second greatest commandment if we are never around the ones who are our neighbors. You have been placed where you live so that you can be a missionary fulfilling the great commission (Matthew 28:18-29).

So what should you do? My recommendation is to start by something simple. Maybe make some cookies and take them to the houses surrounding yours. When they answer the door, just let them know you’d like to introduce yourself. Then, every time you get the chance, talk to your neighbors. Don’t be in such a rush to drive in and shut the garage door. Do things in your front yard. Invite them over to dinner. Maybe you could even throw a Christmas party or some other gathering where your neighbors are invited to get to know one another.

In knowing and loving our neighbors we will be fulfilling the second greatest commandment, and we will be glorifying God in the process.

May you get to know your neighbors, and may your neighborhood be changed as Jesus infiltrates our community through your hospitality.

As always, if you need anything or would like to pray about something, feel free to contact me at 245-1611 or at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you, neighbor!


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