Tag Archives: kids

No More Absent-Minded Parenting

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Since I was a teenager I’ve wanted to be a dad. I didn’t want to just produce offspring, I wanted to be a daddy who spends time with his children and loves them and teaches them.

In our world today the species of daddy is becoming more and more scarce. Our children are having increasingly difficult problems developing into healthy adults because of the lack of a father. It is an epidemic. I don’t want to be a part of that epidemic.

When each of my children was born I was overjoyed. When my oldest was born, I cried the moment I heard her sweet voice. Through the years those sweet innocent cries have turned into a beautiful singing voice. She is now 14 going on 25 and I can not be more proud of the young lady she is becoming.

This coming weekend the culmination of 14 years of teaching and caring will finally come to a time of celebration. My daughter is about to begin a new phase of life that will change her forever. She is making the biggest decision of her life, and I couldn’t be more proud. No, she’s not getting married, she’s getting baptized.

If I am a good dad and spend all my time with my children, if I love and dote on them and teach them all the morality I can, and if I show them how to be good people but don’t show them the way of salvation through Jesus of Galilee then I have been an utter failure as a dad.

My goal in life for my children is not to help them get the best job that pays lots of money or marry the right person to spend the rest of their life with. My goal is to help them find Jesus so that no matter the outcome of their life they will have peace and joy and eternal life through Him.

It’s as Jesus said, “what good is it if a man gains the whole world yet loses his soul?”

If you are a parent, then you have a responsibility to your children. Let’s stop this epidemic of absent-minded parenting. Let’s re-evaluate our goals for our kids.

If you haven’t given your life to Jesus, then that’s the place you need to begin. It’s ineffective to say “do as I say but not as I do”. You want your kids to have the best life ever? Then bring them to Christ who has promised to work all things out for the good of those who love Him.

If you want to know more about giving your life to Christ, then I’d love to visit with you. God bless you as you lead your Children in the Way of Life everlasting.

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The Religion of the Masses

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Everyone is religious. We all worship something.

I love my kids. Just ask me, and I’ll tell you all about their exploits.

Just today my oldest daughter practiced on the swim team for the first time. It is the middle of the season, and it’s her first opportunity to practice with the team. Her first time out she swam around 4,000 meters. That’s nearly 2.5 MILES! I can run that far, but I’ve never even thought of swimming that far. And that was her first day of practice ever being on any kind of swim team.

Yesterday our family went to a water park in the area, and we had a blast. Our 6 year old son is getting comfortable with swimming and he had a wonderful experience. It’s so much fun to watch him as he dives under the water and stays there for quite some time given his age. He says he likes being under water better. At six, he was having a great time riding the slides with me. The last slide we tried was the one that strikes some sense of fear into almost everyone’s heart when they walk into a water park. You know the slide – its the one that just has one long, nearly straight down, drop. My son wanted to go first, so I let him. My heart stopped as he went out of sight over the lip of the slide, but as he reached the bottom I couldn’t help yelling with excitement. He said it was “awesome”.

My smallest child is my other daughter. She has been doing gymnastics and loving every minute of it. Her coaches have been surprised and impressed since day one at her ability to walk the balance beam without looking down. She is four (started at three), and she looks around the room and at the coach while she walks the beam. When she had her gym’s version of a recital the other day they even had her do a frontward roll on the balance beam. I had never seen her do that before, and she did great!

Everyone is religious. We all worship something.

I’m excited about my children; who wouldn’t be? But I don’t worship them, and they know it. That doesn’t mean that I am the rule, however.

People worship all sorts of things. It’s what consumes them that centralizes their worship. Some people are consumed with money. Some people are consumed with a search for knowledge. Some people are consumed with power. Some people are even consumed with their children!

The kinds of people that astonish me most in terms of what they worship are the atheists and the religious “folk”.

An atheist believes there is no God, and therefore should be free of the moniker “religious”. However, every atheist I have ever seen has something (usually many things) that consumes them. They may worship any combination of the things listed above. Humanists are atheist, technically, but they, too, have a god, and that is the human species. We all worship something.

Religious “folk”, as I use the phrase here, are Christians – of a sort. They say the right things and attend the right meetings, but their focus is clearly seen by their actions and attitudes. These people worship their religion more than the focus of that religion. They are more concerned with making sure everything goes a certain way than with total abandon to the God they profess to worship. They get hung up on the minutia of certain commands while neglecting the very heart of that command.

Religious “folk” fill up church buildings each Sunday with judgmentalism and pomp. They wear the right clothes and look down on you if you don’t. They strictly adhere to their traditions while condemning the “heretics” who dare to challenge those traditions. They don’t even realize that some of the things they hold as sacred are merely traditions! These people are the reason many people stay out of churches today.

We are called to worship one Being only, and that is Jehovah God. He is the One True God who gives life to all men and women everywhere. He is to be forever praised. Not me, not you, not our stuff nor status, but Him alone.

In our culture today, it is so very easy to get caught up in worship of other things. God calls this idolatry, and the first two of the ten commandments condemn it.

Today, I challenge you to evaluate yourself, and be careful as you do so. It is easy for us to stay “holier-than-thou” and write this off as not pertaining to us. I catch myself in that same trap, but it is my hope and prayer that we can effectively see the deficits in our lives. I pray that we can come away from our ungodly religions and come back to the God who is the center of everything that exists.

Always ask questions – of yourself, and of your situation. Seek truth, and if you’d like to discuss this further know I’m seeking truth as well. If there is anything I can do for you, please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the church office at 245-1611. God bless your evaluation. God bless the answers you find. And God bless the change that comes as a result.


Parents: Please Read This

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I just spent four days with 13 students fourth through tenth grades. The majority of these students were junior high. We camped in tents and hiked around Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and Pedernales Falls State Park. We also did some rappelling down the backside of Enchanted Rock.

After spending this time with these teens and preteens I have some observations about us as parents. As you reed this I want you to know that I am with you in this. My oldest is 13.

There was an era in our nation’s history, in fact probably several eras, where the children were raised with certain responsibilities. They grew up respecting the adults they came in contact with, and the adults respected them in turn. The fathers worked to provide for their families, but they didn’t work so far away that they couldn’t teach their sons how to become men. The mothers worked in the home, and they trained their daughters how to be women. Society was much healthier then.

Nowadays we have a grand upheaval of the ideal way of life. Parents are now slaves to their jobs, and they are so physically exhausted and mentally drained that they give their parenting rights over to a black box with moving pictures on it and often wires coming out the front that their children are attached to.

Gone are the days where the fathers teach their sons to become men. Gone are the days where the mothers teach their daughters to become women. Gone are the days where the children show respect to anyone…even themselves.

I say these days are gone because the vast majority of students today do not have this way of rearing as they grow. Sure, there are pockets of this, but the majority of kids I see today come from families where their mom and dad aren’t married to each other – maybe they never were. Now they are growing up with step parents or often single parents. Many of these single parents are living with their “partner” who is not their spouse. The more I visit with teens, the more I see this, and the trend doesn’t look like it is going to slow down any time soon.

This weekend I saw preteens deliberately disobey their parent, and the parent did nothing to discipline them. I saw parents who did discipline their children, but they did so out of control, and their anger got the best of them. I heard from several parents, just in the last few days, that were asking what to do about how to raise their son or daughter.

Let me tell you what else I saw from the kids. I heard teens tell me that they were afraid. I heard teens tell me they were angry. This wasn’t just one or two teens, this was the majority. I heard them say they didn’t want to be angry or afraid, and they weren’t really sure why they were either. I saw kids disrespect each other then get upset when someone disrespected them. They didn’t even understand the concept of respect.

I was not on a trip with a bunch of kids from some detention center or other ostracizing facility. I was on a trip with normal kids. But the norm these days isn’t pretty.

I am used to seeing fear, and I see anger a lot. What struck me the most this weekend happened on the way back. Our group was mostly boys, so I had a great selection of boy-type movies for us to watch on the bus. I gave three options for the teens to watch: “Mission: Impossible”, “The Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole”, and one of my teens brought a movie so I just threw it out there expecting no other hits – “Where the Red Fern Grows”.

I had seen the last movie when I was a boy, and it was old then. I think it came out when my parents were kids. Yet, when I asked for a vote on which movie they all wanted to watch, the “Red Fern” won decisively.

For two hours I watched my teens get engrossed in a wholesome movie where the main characters were above reproach. The father led his son into rites of passage. The boy was hard working and kept his integrity and his word. There wasn’t a foul word in the entire movie. Even the antagonists were clean-mouthed. The teens ate it up! When the movie was over there was this short silence as if to soak in what they had just seen.

This is what they desire. They are looking for men and women to show them how to be men and women. They aren’t looking for gangsta guys and bi-polar gals to show them how to be dysfunctional. They already have that. They deeply want to be taught respect. They want to be taught to be valuable members of the world around them. It’s such a strange concept to the world they live in, however, they can’t put that desire into words.

Dear parents, if your family is dysfunctional – you know deep down if it is or not – it’s time to bring some healing for your children’s sake. These kids are looking for and needing men and women who will take them in and show them by example how to be healthy adults. If you have friends who have healthy families, then draw close to them so that your children can be influenced by their presence. If you don’t, then get involved with a church where families are investing into the lives if children.

One of the greatest things I do as a youth minister is bring my children (3, and 5) along on trips like the one we went on last weekend. The teens get to see how I interact with my kids. They see when my five-year old is acting more mature or behaving better than they are. I don’t have to say it; they see it.

If you’ve read this, and your children are grown, then please get involved in helping the future generations of our society. If you are a parent whose kids are much like the ones I’ve described above, or your family is like the norm these days, then please get involved with others who can help you mentor your children into becoming mature, healthy adults. The biggest deficit in society today is dads who father their children. Get involved in a place where men are investing. Moms, you work hard and do the best you can. I thank God for you. It’s time you got some much deserved help.

If there’s anything I can do to help you get connected with others who would be willing to help, then please contact me at 245-1611 or at jddobbs@verizon.net. The Nichols St. church of Christ is dedicated to helping kids grow in all areas of life, and I am proud to be blessed to work there with the teens in our area. Let’s work together to help the future generations grow healthy and stop the decay of the family and society. God bless you all, and I am praying deeply for you.


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.


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