Tag Archives: help

No One Understands

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You ever feel like no one understands what you are going through or have been through? Maybe you feel like you’re all alone in dealing with whatever life has served. You have friends, but they don’t understand, and worse, they don’t have time for your problems.

Alone is sometimes a very hard place to be.

There was a prophet in the Old Testament (many years before Jesus) who thought he was alone. He was really good at speaking on God’s behalf. When God had a message, Elijah was the man to deliver it. His boldness to proclaim the word of God didn’t win him many friends, however.

One family who received many of God’s warnings through Elijah happened to be the king and queen. Ahab and Jezebel were evil in the sight of God, and God used Elijah to explain that to them. This, of course, kept their sins in their faces and caused them to become angry at Elijah. In fact, they were angry at anyone who spoke in the name of Jehovah God.

So they sought out and killed all the prophets.

Elijah was on the run. He ran way down to the south and hid in a cave on the very same mountain God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. He was praying and weeping to God:

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:10)

Do you hear it?
“I’m the only one left”
“No one understands me…they’re trying to kill me”

God understood, and so He called Elijah out of the cave and spoke to Him through a gentle whisper. He comforted Elijah and told him to keep working to spread God’s word throughout the land. Then he let him in on a little secret – there are seven thousand others who also worship God alone.

God reminded Elijah that though it may have seemed like he was alone and everyone was out to get him, the truth was that he wasn’t alone. He just needed to look around and see that others were going through the same thing.

In Galatians 6:2, the apostle Paul reminded the church that when they bear one another’s burdens they are fulling the law of Christ – which is to love.

If you’re going through a rough time, tell someone. A true friend won’t think you’re a burden. Your problems are important because you are important. You are a child of God, and He wants to remind you that you are not alone in this.

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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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Kingdom Living at Tax and Election Time

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Well, tax day has come and gone once again. Many of you got returns back for the taxes you have been paying all year. Others of you are now trying to figure out how you’re going to pay your taxes. In either case there are a couple of thoughts I’d like to share regarding how we think about our government and taxes and the like.

Praying for the Tax Man

People have always been disgruntled with the idea of having to pay taxes. Even back in the days of Jesus the tax man was considered an unrighteous sinner who was a traitor to the people. It was a pretty bold move when Jesus picked Matthew, a tax collector, as one of his disciples. The story of Zacchaeus flies in the face of popular culture as Jesus chooses to spend time with a tax collector who apparently had been swindling his people.

So paying taxes and dealing with the tax man were topics that were constantly on the mind of the people in the days of Jesus much as they are on our minds today.

One day, Jesus was asked whether or not the people should pay their taxes. Jesus was teaching about a new kingdom not of this world, and the people were looking for a loophole (or a way to trap Jesus in his words). They asked him if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus told them that whatever belongs to Caesar needs to be given to Caesar, but what belongs to God needs to be given to God. Unfortunately for them, Jesus was saying that they did indeed need to pay their taxes (and we do too).

Even though Jesus knew of another kingdom that he was establishing by his presence on the earth, he still had a different perspective about the earthly kingdoms than the people had.

Here in America, we elect the officials that govern us. From the mayor and city council all the way to the president, the people who are in office are chosen by the voters. Hence we feel a certain a right about how good or bad they are doing. We have strong opinions about our elected officials.

When we are disgruntled with them it is not uncommon for us to make that a prominent topic of conversation amongst us. Here at tax time and election time there is much discussion over how right or wrong (mostly wrong) we think the government is handling our monies and our lives.

Jesus never dishonored the governing authorities of the day. Even when he was being mistreated directly by them with his trial he spoke no words against them.

Romans 13 reminds us that the elected officials and even those who are hired aren’t put there by us in fact, but by God himself for our good. Sometimes it is hard to believe that fact, but we must then do as it says in 1 Timothy 2 – we must pray for them.

Are you praying for those who are in authority over you? Are you praying for those who may be elected this year? As we fill our minds with prayers for others we often find our own perspective changes.

This World is Not My Home

Jesus wasn’t killed because he was a good man who healed the sick and raised the dead. He was killed because of the religious and political implications of his message. He bucked the typical religious ideals of the day and also created an ideal of a new kingdom that his followers were to be citizens of.

This royally aggravated those who were addicted to their power and manipulation.

We are called to that same kingdom today. We are called to live in this world but not of this world. we need to pay our taxes and respect our authorities, but if our focus is only there then we miss out on the beauty and fruitfulness of being citizens of the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is the reign of God in our lives. Some people are still waiting for that kingdom to come at the end of days, but Jesus clearly said that the kingdom was going to begin in his generation and that it would be a kingdom of people, not a kingdom of places. There would be no castle and throne or land to measure out its borders. This kingdom would consist of God being on the throne in our lives. And we, as citizens, would then live accordingly.

As kingdom citizens we are called to act completely different from the world around us. Just this last week I overheard a person using some pretty colorful profanity in a conversation he was having. Then, when I got a chance to meet him he made sure to let me know he was a member of a particular Christian denomination. This is not how the kingdom operates.

Sure, we can have opinions of how things are going. We are called to be involved and help make this world a better place, but we are to have a different way of doing things. We are to detest evil wherever it rears it ugly head – even if it may be in our lives.

The kingdom of God is a way of life in which God reigns in our hearts and the law of the land is love – love God and love others. If we truly live this kingdom life we can change the world beginning with our own lives.

It’s tax season and election season, and in response to all that is going on around us we have an obligation to pay our taxes, respect those in authority over us, and pray for them. We also have an obligation as citizens of a kingdom not of this world to live differently as we love and interact with others in this world around us.

May you be different. May the change begin in your life. May the world be different because of you.

If you’d like to know more about this kingdom of God and how to become a citizen, please feel free to call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you and God bless America.


Who’s The Real Youth Minister Here?

Today, I’d like to tell you a little bit about me.

I grew up attending non-instrumental churches of Christ.  My Great Grandfather was a song leader.  My Grandfather was a song leader.  My mother would have been a song leader, but she grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, and she was the wrong gender for that at the time.

I have been involved with the churches of Christ since before i was born.

Growing up, my parents were very involved in the local congregation, and when I’d visit my grandpa, he’d have me up on stage leading singing with him.  When I got into 3rd grade we moved to West Monroe, Louisiana where I lived until I graduated High School.  We attended the same church from that point on, and my parents were very involved.  There was hardly an event that we weren’t a part of.  I used to joke about being in the building every time the doors were open.

When I got into the youth group, they kept being involved.  They helped plan and volunteer for various activities.  They did more than encourage me to be involved.  I loved being a part of my youth group growing up.  But, you know why I was excited about youth group?  It wasn’t because I had a great youth minister (which I did). It was because from birth it was instilled into me that church was a central part of our life  My primary youth ministers were my parents.

Looking back on that now, I see how valuable they were in forming me into the man of God I am today.  I cannot thank them enough for investing into God and His church so that I would one day follow in their footsteps.

Now, I’m a youth minister.  My sister sings on the worship team for the church we grew up in, and my brother is actively involved in several outreach ministries.  I’d say they were a success.

“How does that relate to me?” You may ask.

If you are a parent, you are the single largest influence in your child’s life.  You have the power to inspire greatness or defeat into that young person.  You have the power to mold and shape them into followers of God or selfish, entitled agnostics.  You influence them.  What you are involved in and excited about rubs off on them directly and effectively.  What you are apathetic about also influences them.

You are the youth ministers.  This is for parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles.  This is for brothers and sisters and cousins.  This is for kids.  You have the power to influence your family around you.

If you are a part of a church that has a youth minister, you have a great resource there.  But his job is only to supplement what you are doing at home.  If the kids in churches are only getting Jesus on Sunday morning and Wednesday night, then they are anorexic Christians at best. The scriptures say “Train up a child in the way he should go…” The scriptures do not say “Let someone else train up your child…”

Youth ministers are a great tool, and they are useful to help facilitate and teach the youths of today.  The trends of the churches to this point have been to create Youth Minister Centered Youth Ministries.  It’s time to change the trend back to Family-Centered Youth Ministries.

May you be the Spiritual leaders in your home.  May you lead your children by example.  And may these children grow to be pillars of the Church for generations to come.

If there’s anything I can do for you or pray with you about, please feel free to contact me at my office at 245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net.  God bless you all as you regain your role as the real Youth Ministers.


Shopping in Houston: A Gift-Buying Fiasco

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The other day I drove into Houston to pick up my daughter for Christmas. While I was there I decided to look for a few Christmas presents to finish off my list. One of those gifts happened to be a new pair of shoes for me. But these weren’t just any shoes, so I had to find the few stores that carried them, and then I had to find the one with the best price.

Fortunately all of this was initiated fairly quickly over the phone before ever traveling up to Houston, so I set off on my journey – the Tuesday before Christmas. This trip started with two kids in tow (one not feeling so hot), so I had a heightened awareness of the busy-ness of the region as I carted my two little ones through crowded stores.

I went to the first store, near the Galleria, and they searched all over but lo and behold they were out of my size (unless I wanted pink). They checked their computer and the store at the Memorial Park mall had two of the exact size and color in stock, so off I went.

On the way over there traffic was super busy. It was five o’clock AND the Tuesday before Christmas, so this was no ordinary driving day. As I travelled, I called the store to make sure that they really did have two in stock, and I waited on hold as they checked. It turned out that they didn’t have my preferred color, but they had the next best one. They only had one, however, and they put it at the register for me with my name on it.

When I arrived at the mall, we saw Target, and one of the gifts on my list was at that store, so we quickly went inside and found the gift rather easily. Standing in line to check out was less than easy with crowded electronics department check out lines in a small area and me with a child seat cart (one of those with the two extra seats for your toddlers). At one point as I stood waiting, I looked over and my children were gone. My heart dropped. It turned out that they were just a foot to the left of where I could see in order to watch a particular monitor. I got them back in place and was able to stay in my spot in line.

After Target, we picked up my daughter at the mall and proceeded on to the store that was holding my shoes. They did have my shoes behind the counter waiting for me, so I though this was going to be great. When I opened the box, however, one shoe wasn’t the same as the other. One was the one I wanted, but the other was a different style and size. The clerk searched and searched to no avail. So this turned out poorly.

I decided to try one last store. I knew they had one at the Katy Mills mall, so I called them and verified that they had the shoe I wanted. They said they did, but I had them put their hands on it and check the box this time to make sure there were no more mismatches. Everything looked to be right this time. With my three kids in tow I took them to eat dinner then off we set to find the store in Katy.

When we got to the mall, we found the store immediately, and everything was looking up. At the counter they had my shoes, so I decided I better try them one one last time before handing over the cash for them. While putting on the shoes, my youngest daughter (3) decided she wanted to play hide and seek, although she told no one of her plans. Now my daughter had disappeared in an unknown store crammed with people. My heart sank again.

We finally found her. I got to try on the shoes, and we finally got to actually purchase (at 8pm) what I’d been trying to buy since 4:30. To celebrate, I took the kids to the play area to get their wiggles out before the car ride back home. This time I noticed that my son no longer had on his jacket. I asked him where he left it, and he said he took it off in the bathroom (on the other end of the mall). I frantically rushed back to the bathroom to look for the jacket, but it wasn’t there.

When I returned to the play area, my son wasn’t nearly as upset that someone had taken his jacket as I was. After sufficient play time we headed back to the car. I got the kids seated and asked my some one more time if he was sure he hadn’t just left his jacket in the car. He looked at his feet and said, “oh! There it is!” it was in the floorboard of the car the entire time.

I was exhausted.

I had worked so hard to find one gift for me. I had not been required to work so hard to find gifts for those others in my life that I love. This gift was something I had wanted for a few years now, and I finally had the opportunity to get it. So I was determined to make this wish come true in my life.

What do you wish for? This season we celebrate the birth of Christ – the greatest gift to mankind that God has ever given. Do you desire him? What had you been willing to do or sacrifice to find him and have relationship with him? He requires that we sacrifice our life for him, but it’s not a worthless sacrifice. I’ve never met anyone who sacrificed everything for Christ and was disappointed in their decision.

As you celebrate Christmas this year remember that it is because of Jesus you have been offered the gift of salvation. You have the opportunity to have eternal life. You can have intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe. These are gifts we should be willing to brave more than just the holiday rush in Houston in order to receive.

This gift is readily accessible. You don’t have to go to multiple stores to find it. But it is expensive. It will cost you your sin. You will be asked to exchange all the junk in your life for the peace that comes through Christ. I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a pretty good exchange to me.

What do you say? Are you ready to receive the ultimate gift this Christmas? If you are then call me or email me. I’d love to visit with you about this and help you find your way. If I can help you in any way, call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net.

Merry Christmas, and may you allow God to bless you this Christmas season.


The Reason

I never really listened to the words to this song tho I had heard it dozens of times. The spiritual significance of the lyrics didn’t hit me until I heard Julian Drive cover this song at a concert last Saturday. As you read these words, think of our response to God – and His love for us.

The Reason (originally by Hoobastank)

I’m not a perfect person
There’s many things I wish I didn’t do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I’ve found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

I’m sorry that I hurt you
It’s something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
Thats why I need you to hear

I’ve found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is You [x4]

I’m not a perfect person
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I’ve found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

I’ve found a reason to show
A side of me you didn’t know
A reason for all that I do
And the reason is you

Well, ther you have it. What are your thoughts?

Forgiveness…it’s a part of life on the Sharp End


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