Tag Archives: Jeremiah

Living in a Cardboard Box

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Imagine for a moment, if you will, that you and your family were moved to a hostile place. It could be the remote jungles of South America, or maybe you are thinking of a hotspot like Iran or Iraq. It is a place where you are constantly fearful for your own life and the lives of your loved ones around you.

In the jungle there are predators you haven’t even heard of that lie in wait for your young or wounded to be vulnerable. In Iran or Iraq or places like it there is constant fighting, and you would probably stick out like a sore thumb in a place like that – I know I would.

Now imagine what kind of living conditions you might provide for your clan. Perhaps you would have no house at all. Maybe you would just live on the jungle floor or in the streets of Baghdad. That would definitely not be ideal conditions. I don’t know any person that loved themselves or their family that would not strive to improve on their conditions in such a case.

Maybe your ideal isn’t living out in the open. You want to find some kind of shelter. What do you find? Cardboard! You construct an elaborate cardboard house with multiple rooms and all the amenities. Surely your family will be well taken care of now. You paint the exterior, and no one can tell the difference between your house and one made of brick and mortar.

Will this house provide adequate protection? When the rains come they will soak through and disintegrate your home. When gunfire rips through your area bullets will penetrate your home, and lives will most likely be lost. No, this will not do.

You wouldn’t be satisfied until you were able to provide some kind of real shelter for your family. You want them to be protected from the elements as well as enemies all around. Your house would be as secure as you could make it so that no one would need to live in fear.

Our lives are much like this wherever we live. Some of us are living out in the open. Some of us are living in cardboard box houses, and some of us have actually constructed secure living conditions.

You see, we are all living in a dangerous place. The scripture says that “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion waiting for whom he may devour.” He’s out to get your family and mine, yet many of us are still providing cardboard protection.

What do I mean by this? We have weak defenses against the evil one. Some of us have no defense – we have never given our lives to Christ, and we are already prisoners of war; we are already infected with sin. Some of us have made a dedication to Christ in name, but we use that name to construct a cardboard box of our lives. We think that once we confessed the name that was enough. Yes, that was a major step, yet we are still defenseless against Satan if we do not wield certain tools.

Jesus, the Son of God, had a not-so-cozy visit from the evil one after He had been in the desert and fasting for forty days. Jesus was hungry, tired, and weak. Satan attacked him at his weakest point. But what did Jesus do? He didn’t succumb to the fiery arrows of evil. No! Jesus shot back with the weapons He had in His arsenal – weapons of the scripture.

Many of us go through life without this ability. When temptations arise we have no foundation for being able to resist them. We are called to be like Jesus, and He knew His scriptures.

David was a man after God’s own heart, and in the psalms we see that he was continuously meditating on the word of God. In fact, the Psalmist says that he “has hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” The psalmist sees that the memorization of scripture is key to building a house around us that will provide continual protection.

Yes, Jesus provides grace to those of us who have dedicated our lives to Him – have been born of water and the spirit, but according to Romans 1 it is not a license for us to sin all the more. We are called to leave the life of sin far behind. If we do not know what God’s word says, however, we will easily be picked off like the seeds Jesus talked about in the parable of the sower.

My younger children are 4 and 6 years old, and we are working with them daily on memorizing scripture. We want them to have the arsenal necessary to withstand the devil’s attacks. I’m proud to say that so far they have Genesis 1:1 and the Ten Commandments memorized, and they are able to tell me what each of the commandments mean. We are starting young to hopefully instill in them a pattern of memorization and learning for their life.

Parents, teach your children the scriptures. Help them to memorize certain passages. Some of my favorites for remembering in hard times are Jeremiah 29:12 and Romans 8:28. When you teach them to your children you will find that you learn them too!

If you don’t have children or your children are already grown, it’s never too late to start hiding the Word of God in your heart. You will find that it quickly changes your life.

Its time for us to stop lying to ourselves thinking this religious mansion we’ve created is anything more than an elaborate cardboard box. It’s time for new construction that begins with a foundation of the word of God. May you know the scriptures, may they set you free, and may they protect you from all the advances of the evil one.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to contact me at 245-1611 or at jddobbs@verizon.net. If you haven’t given your life to Christ, I would especially like to visit with you. Becoming a follower of Christ isn’t a decision made out of ignorance. Educated and uneducated alike are all invited into the kingdom of God. God bless you all!

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What to do when we wait

Can you imagine the situation of the apostles? Their leader, whom they had lived in close quarters with for the last three years has now been taken prisoner. They were trying him unjustly and illegally so as to frame him for crimes he did not commit. Then, they planned to kill him.

And they succeeded. They killed Jesus.

We speak often about Friday, and we preach about Sunday, but what about Saturday? It was on Saturday that they had to wait.

I don’t think this was a comfortable waiting either. They must have been constantly questioning themselves. Is that it? Was he really who he said he was? Did we just waste three good years of our lives? What’s next? He talked about rising from the dead, but what if it doesn’t happen? There had to be much trepidation in the hours between the cross and the empty tomb.

Read the account for yourself. Have you ever thought of what it must have been like?

We wait all the time, don’t we? We wait at restaurants, stores, doctors’ offices, amusement parks, airports, even the DMV. It is inevitable that sometime during your day you will have to wait for something. You’re not alone. Everyone waits.

What do you do with the time that you must spend waiting? Some people tap their foot and wrinkle their brow and become increasingly disgruntled. You know the pattern…they start mumbling about how slow this is and how much of a hurry they are in. They become rude to the people who are doing their best to serve them. God forbid they have to wait.

Is this you? I hope not. Waiting doesn’t have to be a negative time of your day. In fact, the next time you wait – for anything – try one of these few ideas.

First, remember the apostles on that lonely Saturday. What did they do? They prayed. Waiting is a great opportunity to pause and spend time in the presence of God in prayer. He wants to hear from you, and the only way you’ll have a great relationship with Him is to talk to Him. Pray for all kinds of things that you are going through, but don’t forget to pray for those who are making you have to wait. Perhaps they are having something worse than waiting that is going on with them.

Second, spend some time in the word. We live in the age of tiny technology. If you have a smartphone, you can access the mobile version of biblegateway.com, or you can download the youversion app or the logos app. All these are free, and they are great resources for reading the bible in whatever translation you desire on the go. I use all three of these at different times, and they are really great! More than just reading the word, though, just read a verse or two, and meditate on that passage. You will find God often speaks to you through His word in ways that cut right to what you are dealing with, even if it’s a struggle with being patient while you wait for that incredibly slow train that is cutting the town in half while you are trying to get the kids to school on time.

Lastly, just breathe. Take deep breaths and relax and let the cares slide right off of your shoulders. Sometimes we need to create peace times in our days, and waiting in line or at the red light can help fill those peaceful needs.

Jesus came to bring us peace. I think it was a powerful lesson in trust that the apostles went through on the Saturday so long ago as they waited for their messiah to be raised. You are faced with the same trust questions. Do you trust that God is in control even of this very situation? Do you trust that he works all things for your good (Romans 8:28)?

May you see waiting times as joyful opportunities rather than painful detours to your carefully planned schedule. Besides, when we tell God our plans He probably has a pretty good chuckle at our expense. He is always in control, and he wants us to allow Him to guide our lives so that Jeremiah 29:11 can be fulfilled in us.

If there is ever anything I can do for you, please call me at 245-1611, or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you all!


The Voices Inside My Head

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I’m exhausted. My family and I just got back from a 3,000 mile round-trip excursion to Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, back to Tennessee, then Missouri, back to Arkansas, then finally back to Texas. We got to see family and friends we haven’t gotten to see in a while. We got to visit with a couple of my former students – one of whom got back in January from Afghanistan. I also got to go to a marvelous Youth Ministry Conference while in Louisville. It was a time of refreshing as I gathered with 3,000 other youth ministers from around the country to get refueled for ministry.

As I was there breathing out the stressors and worries of life and breathing in the words of God I recognized just how many voices speak into our lives.

What voices speak to you each day? Someone this weekend said that the four hardest jobs in the world are politicians, coaches, teachers, and ministers. They are the jobs where everyone else thinks they can do a better job than you can, and they frequently tell you so in no uncertain terms. What voices speak to you?

Maybe your voices come from outside influences. Maybe your family tells you something about yourself. Maybe it’s your friends or co-workers. Maybe it’s media that are significant sources of the voices that convince you of certain “truths” about yourself and the world around you.

I heard a news piece just last night talking about how even the continual images of the “perfect” women in all the visible roles in media influence our young women to think that they must also look that way. There was one story of the little girl in the beauty pageant, and when she didn’t win, she asked her mom “does this mean I’m not pretty?”

These outside voices can be brutal. Perhaps they tell you that you aren’t pretty enough or smart enough or that you don’t work hard enough. Maybe they tell you that you don’t fit in.

These voices, however, are not as potent as the voices in our own heads. I’m not talking about the schizophrenic voices where we talk to ourselves out loud. I’m talking about the subtle whispers in our minds that try to define us.

“You’re a failure as a mother or father.” “You may as well give up.” “No one really cares about you.” “You have nothing of value to contribute to society.” “You’ll never be the spouse you need to be.” “It’s ok if you do that; no one will be affected by your actions.”

As we go on in our lives these voices can easily morph from whispers to shouts as we feed in to their influence on our lives. When we start believing these things they cripple our ability for forward momentum.

I’ve seen the skits where a person stands in front of the mirror and says out loud to him or herself “Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” In every skit they say it with enthusiasm, but their eyes reveal the truth that they don’t really believe what they are saying.

Many of these voices keep the dark places of our lives close by so that we don’t allow God to take over those places and eradicate the darkness. The voices keep us captive. They cripple us in our potential.

God is desperately desiring to speak a different message into your life. He wants to remind you that you are His MASTERPIECE (Ephesians 2:10). He wants you to know that when you listen to Him he will help you have the best life possible (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28). He wants you to know that you are totally worth it.

Worth what? Worth His sacrifice on the cross. God thought and still thinks that you are totally worth sacrificing Himself so that you can live eternally with Him.

We listen to these voices because we desperately want to be accepted and liked by society around us. We are constantly trying to impress the world – the created world – while the whole time the God who created that world, the Master of all existence, is trying to tell us that we are His favorite, and he already likes us. He even loves us. I once heard Jon Acuff say that “God follows our Facebook, and he likes, likes, likes!”

That’s pretty good news isn’t it? Let me challenge you. Spend more time listening to what God says about you in His word than what society said about you or even than what Satan whispers in your head. If you do this it will be much easier to combat those voices. I propose that you will even have a much brighter outlook on life. “You are more than a conqueror through Christ.” “You have been given a spirit of power, love, and self discipline.” “God will never leave you nor forsake you.” These and so many other promises are found in scripture. And when we read these promises, we also need to remember that God cannot lie.

You are awesome! God made you the way you are, and he doesn’t make junk. Satan has been trying to remold you into his likeness since you were born. It’s time to allow God to reshape you back into the masterpiece he created you to be. That reshaping can only happen when we let the voice of God be more influential than the voices of this world.

I’m on this journey with you. External voices are constantly trying to tear me down. Join with me in becoming more dependent on the voice of God than the voices of all the “haters” – even the ones inside our heads. And may our lives change for the greater because of it.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to call me at 245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you!


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