Tag Archives: hatred

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.

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Astounded by Darkness: Caving through Life

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Have you ever been in a cave? Not the tourist trap, sidewalk lined, electronically lit kind of cave; a real, native cave – the kind with headlamps and helmets and bats and mud and darkness…true darkness?

When I was in college, I was a member of a grotto (read: caving club). One beautiful North Arkansas evening we went to a native cave for some fun and exploration of God’s majestic underground creation. The entrance to this cave was at the back of a pond and the stream from the cave was that pond’s water source.

The entrance tunnel was low, so we were duck-walking while wading ankle deep in this stream. About a hundred feet into the cave we startled a group of bats. These were small like flying mice (without tails), and they were everywhere, even landing on my helmet. It was an experience I’ll never forget, but that’s not the part of this trip I want to tell you about.

When we got back in a ways, we decided to do some alone time in the cave and meet back together after a short time. I crawled along through the wet tunnels, gloved hands coated in mud, until I found a place I could sit in silence…alone. Then I did it…I turned off my light, and it was dark. Not the nighttime in the country with no moon dark – real dark. This was the darkness you can only experience underground – a subterranean darkness in which, try as you might you can’t see even your hand waving frantically six inches in front of your face. I know…I tried.

If you’ve never been in this kind of cave, it’s hard to imagine this literal kind of darkness, but maybe you CAN understand this figuratively.

As I go through life, I notice that I have to pay close attention to the perspective with which I view the world around me. If I see with a positive attitude, the world just seems to light up, but when I’m pessimistic, darkness reigns. Have you ever been there?

Back to my story…

After a few minutes, I turned my headlamp back on and decided to do a little more exploring before heading back to the rendezvous point. The tunnels were like Swiss cheese with each one connecting to the others so there shouldn’t have been a problem with me getting back.

My eyes were now accustomed to this dim light, this quasi-darkness, this twilight, so I thought I could see well enough. I crawled along at a quick pace, trying to see as much of the cave as I could before time was up, so I was looking straight ahead as I crawled. I let my hands “see” the floor. This is typical for being in darkness – using multiple senses to make up for the deficiency in one of the senses.

Up ahead, I saw a room that opened up, and I got excited. I thought it was a place I could go back and tell my crew about so they could come explore with me. What I didn’t realize was it was a room we had been in already, but that wasn’t the worst part. I didn’t stop crawling until I felt my fingers curl down. Remember, I’m “seeing” the ground with my hands. Suddenly, I stopped, heart racing, realizing I wasn’t on the floor of that room. I was actually on a small ledge about 30 feet above the floor. If I had kept crawling, even one more step, I would have gone headfirst into a painful fall that probably would have killed me. Close call.

What’s this have to do with life?

This event reminds me of what Jesus says in the bible about light and dark.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your while body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
— Matthew 6:22-23

He’s not talking about a literal light in our eyes. He’s talking about our perspective. My perspective in the cave was full of darkness, and it almost cost me my life. I was clicking along thinking I was safe, but I was in terrible danger all along and just didn’t know it.

When we have a pessimistic outlook, we see the darkness in the world, and have a fixation with that darkness. We can see the worst in any situation. How does that make us feel? The darkness consumes us. It’s not pleasant, and it can seriously danger your life. From relationships in family to friends to work, any relationship…even that with your very self can be killed when darkness is in our eyes.

BUT when we have the light in our eyes, we can see the good in circumstances. I have known many people with this attitude, and I want to be around them as much as possible…maybe it might rub off on me. When you fix your eyes on what is good, everything can be bright..even family strife and layoffs and church trouble.

Perspective is a choice. We get to choose how we look at the world, and our past definitely influences which view we take…but it is not our jailer. We can choose to see with light in our eyes even when our past has been dark.

I don’t know about you, but I want to have light in my eyes. I want others to see it in my eyes, and most of all I want to glorify God with the light in my eyes. What about you?

When we got out of the cave that night, it was about 10 pm. The sky was clear, and because we had spent so much time in the darkness, when we started looking for the lights in the sky, they astounded us. We were truly attracted to those lights. I have never been able to see so many stars in all my life because I had been in the dark so long.

As you start this journey from darkness into light, you may not be the brightest light at first, but you will grow, and you will find that people are attracted to the light that shines in you…even the smallest bit of light.

May you be full of light, and may God shine through you! If there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know at jddobbs@Verizon.net or call me at 245-1611.

God bless you all!

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