Tag Archives: kingdom

The Trouble with Words


Have you ever known someone who said they would accomplish a task, but when things got tough they flaked out? Have you ever been this person? Are you this person? 

In our culture today it seems like this is acceptable. People of all ages are in the habit of volunteering for some duty and quitting before the duty is completed, or they volunteer for the duty and merely do enough to scrape by, grumbling the whole time about the job they have to do. When this happens, it affects everyone involved – not just you. 

To say you will accomplish a task and then proceed to do a half-hearted job is dishonest and lacking integrity. To quit on your responsibility before you have completed it is to put others in a bind and show that you are untrustworthy. 

When we behave in such a way we teach our children this is acceptable, and then we wonder why they don’t want to stick with that sport or this instrument or any such optional activity. 

When you make up your mind to take on a responsibility, integrity says you follow through to its completion. 

As a leader in different organizations who delegates so that the workload is lighter for all, I have experienced the flakiness of this generation for years. I have seen people volunteer for a task and never begin to do the work. I have seen people volunteer with gusto but wither away into oblivion before the completion of the job. This reflects on their personality as well as the leadership who trusted them with the responsibility. 

If I seem like this is a soapbox issue for me, it is because it is. 

I was raised to give my word and follow through. I was raised that to do less was dishonest and left lasting impressions on others concerning my integrity. I was taught that this was a reflection on my character as a son of God. 

Imagine if Jesus gave up before the cross. Imagine if Paul quit after the first scourging. Imagine if church leaders stopped leading. Imagine if parents stopped parenting. What would the world be like? It could be that it wouldn’t be much different than it currently is. 

Jesus spoke of the integrity that should be associated with our words when he said “let your yes be yes”. When you make a commitment, your word should be your bond. You should be the type of people others can rely on to follow through with their promises. 

The apostle Paul said this:

Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Would you quit if Jesus was there in the flesh? Would you halfheartedly work for him? Yet this passage says that’s exactly what we do when we don’t follow through with our word. 

I encourage you to volunteer with many different ministries and organizations – as much as you can juggle. However, be it a church ministry, community organization or relationship, work at it as working for the Lord.  If you realized it was a mistake to volunteer be honest and admit your error so others can finish what you started. But please work with integrity, leaving the job well done for the next person to follow in your steps. 

This is the way of the kingdom. 


The Politics of Jesus: His Real Message

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I’m writing this on Election Week. All over the country people will be flocking to the polls to vote for the person they think will best run their country, state, and county. It is a grand privilege and right of every American to exercise the freedom to vote. I hope you did.

Thinking about elections, however, makes me think about Jesus.

What did He preach? Many people think that Jesus went around merely preaching that people should do good and doing good himself. When people think about Jesus they regard him as a nice man who taught many good philosophies on how to live life to the fullest. They think of all the miracles he did and are amazed at the power.

Many people think Jesus went around preaching that people should come to him. I mean, isn’t that what most churches are preaching these days? People should turn to Jesus. It’s almost like we think he was campaigning for three years. Vote for Jesus!

Look at the central event of his life – his crucifixion. Why was he crucified? Would people kill someone for doing good and being nice? Would people put someone on trial for obvious miracles? Would people kill a man preaching about philosophies of peace and unity and “love your enemy”?

No. Jesus wasn’t crucified for any of these things.

Perhaps Jesus was preaching a message of salvation to everyone that was different from the religions of the world? Maybe he was killed because of the religious implications of the messages he taught. No, this is not the case, either.

Jesus had one central sermon in his ministry, and it was the same message as his cousin, John.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Mark 1:15)

Jesus was crucified because he was preaching a kingdom that was different than any other kingdom of the day. Indeed, it is different than any kingdom that exists today.

The Jewish leaders didn’t like it because it presented a different role for them. In this kingdom they didn’t have the power to manipulate and control the lower people. In this kingdom the people truly had freedom. In this kingdom, religion wasn’t as important as they had made it out to be. Their presuppositions on how a person had to live in order to serve God were shattered.

The Roman leaders didn’t like this kingdom either. Sure, this was a peaceful movement, but the Caesar was the king of the known world. How dare they claim another king and claim allegiance to another kingdom. That was treason!

Over and over Jesus preached this message of the kingdom. Then, when he was crucified, Pilate had his title posted over his head on the cross: “King of the Jews”.

For centuries people have taught about this kingdom, but many get it wrong. Many people are waiting for the kingdom to be established when Jesus comes back and reigns on the earth for a thousand years. This is very similar to what the Jews were looking for in their messiah. However, Jesus tried to correct them over and over.

At one time someone asked Jesus where the kingdom will be, and Jesus taught that it wasn’t a physical kingdom. Rather, it was among and within the people who were the citizens. This was a kingdom with no borders.

Another time Jesus urged the people to watch for the kingdom because it would come before those who were there listening to Jesus would die. So, either the kingdom is here, or there are some really old people still living somewhere on the planet.

In Colossians 1, Paul reminds them that they have already been brought into the kingdom.

So, if you’ve been washed by the blood of the lamb, then you are no longer a citizen of the country you live in. Your primary residence is in the kingdom of heaven. But that residency starts now. You are called to live as that citizen with God as your King.

You are promised the kingdom as your inheritance. You are princes and princesses with Jesus of the kingdom. Jesus is your brother, and God is your Father.

As you plan and prepare for your time as a citizen of whatever country you live in, remember that it is a tertiary residency. Your primary allegiance is to the Father, your King. How you live here and now should reflect that.

May you live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and may your life reflect that citizenship. Blessings to you, the citizens of God’s kingdom.


Any ole excuse will do…

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In Luke 14, Jesus tells an odd little story.  It’s also mentioned in Matthew 22.

In this story, a rich man holds a great banquet, not unlike a party of today, and he invites all his friends and relatives and coworkers and other influential people, but one-by-one they all make excuses as to why they can’t come.  This hurts the master, and frustrates him too, so he orders the servants to go out and drag in all the poor and oppressed people off the streets of his town.  After they do all that, he has them go out into the countryside and get all those people too so that the party would be a full success.

Jesus said this is like the kingdom of heaven, and I believe it.

First of all, the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are terms that are interchangeable for the same concept.  This is the rule or reign of God in our lives here on earth that causes us to be citizens of heaven.  Like the song says, “This world is not my home…”

We then, as Christians, are citizens of heaven, and you know we are citizens when you see the reign of God in our lives.  However, there are many people today who are just like these townsfolk in Luke 14.

These people make excuse after excuse as to why they shouldn’t attend the banquet.  One has some new oxen and needs to try them out.  One just bought a field and needs to go inspect it.  One just got married.

People today make similar excuses when faced with the decision of whether or not to follow God’s guidance in their life.  I see it all the time.  Someone has an opportunity to serve in some capacity to help others, but they are tired or have a party to go to.  Someone has an opportunity to tell someone else about Jesus, but they just aren’t gifted in that way – let someone else do it.  Someone has an opportunity to be at church with the rest of the kingdom of God, but it’s too early or too dull or too whatever.

As Christians, we are called to live as Children of God.  We are expected to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, but this kingdom is not a democracy.  It is a totalitarian dictatorship with God as supreme ruler.  The difference here that makes it attractive, however, is that the citizens get pardon after pardon because of the King’s Son.  The citizens are treated with respect and love.  The citizens were created by the King, and the King knows how each citizen should live to have the best life possible – eternal life.

So what kind of citizen are you?  Do you make excuse after excuse as to why you don’t need to do more than attend church every now and again?  Or are you the kind of citizen who follows God and allows Him to reign in your life?

I think that you’ll find the latter option to be the most fulfilling, rewarding existence possible.  Just today I heard someone say that you’ll never find happiness through self seeking.  It seems that it would work out great to please yourself in order to be happy, but it actually works quite the opposite.

So seek God and His reign in your life, and stop making excuses about it.  Then, get to the banquet – we have one every Sunday (we call it communion).


On the Border of Response

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The world is a tumultuous place. Wars are raging and beginning all over the place. Innocent people are being killed for any and every reason. Laws are being broken in every nation. Nations are rising up against nations. Governments are being overthrown. How are we to act?

In our nation alone there is controversy on every front. From the Hobby Lobby fight to the flood at the border, our nation is becoming increasingly divided. Everyone has opinions on the hot-button topics like gun control, common core, abortion, immigration reform, military action on foreign soil, etc.

How are we, Christians, to respond to a world as conflicted as the one in which we live?

The first place we should be is on our knees in prayer. If you believe that God is not distant and that He cares for us and the rest of His creation, then you need to be asking Him to intervene.

2 Chronicles 7:14
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

This is, I believe, our first response to a world as broken as ours. We need healing. We need forgiveness – not just as individuals but as a nation. We need repentance from all people including those (maybe especially those) in our governmental leadership.

The next thing we need to do is become aware. I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, but it doesn’t take a smart man to tell that the news sources from which we get most of our news are NOT unbiased. In fact, it is hard to find truly unbiased news from any source these days. If I tell you a bit of news then it is important to me because of my political or moral views on a particular issue. I am not unbiased. Therefore the news I share is not unbiased.

That being said we still need to know what is going on around us. These days we have the ability to read news information from a wide variety of sources. Our Twitter and Facebook feeds are inundated with the latest news from around the world. If we don’t know what is going on around us then how can we know how to engage the culture or influence change as needed? If we aren’t knowledgable then it is easy for us to be duped by the first wind of teaching to come by.

This includes your ability to know what your Father in Heaven has planned for you. The world is constantly trying to convince you of things that are contrary to the word of God. It is trying to teach you that these commands are barbaric and can’t have come from a god but from mere men. Search within the scriptures. Do not be ignorant of the world around you. You will find that those who love according to the Word of God have a life of fulfillment in this world and in the world to come.

Finally we are to be people of action. We need to be sharing the good news of grace and forgiveness through Jesus to all our friends and contacts. We need to be working daily to change the world by bringing one person at a time to Jesus. Don’t wait for the preacher. This is your calling. Matthew 28:18-20 is for you as well as me.

We also need to be people of action in how we influence our government. One of the greatest things about living in the USA is our ability to vote on almost everything. If you like what is going on then vote for more of the same. If you are disgruntled then vote to change things. You have been given a voice. As Christians this is a great opportunity for us to influence our nation. If we aren’t vocal with our votes then we are allowing the darkness to rule all around. Sometimes voting also happens with out participation or lack thereof. I’m not telling you which political way to vote, but you need to vote.

If this nation does decline – if the darkness grows and Christians are persecuted – then we still have hope in the fact that we are part of a bigger kingdom. The kingdom of God has no physical borders. It is not a matter of here or there but is within you. Live like kingdom citizens wherever you are no matter the outcome of your physical country.

So, change the world. And if it changes for the worse, then have hope in knowing that no one can ever take away your citizenship in the kingdom of God.


The Political Party of Jesus

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When Jesus called his apostles, he called a hodgepodge of people to come together to follow him. Have you ever thought about the variety of these men?

Jesus didn’t choose them haphazardly. He stayed up all night praying before he chose twelve out of the multitudes that were following him. These were the men he would mentor more closely – the men who would turn the world upside down.

Look at the makeup of this band of brothers. Several were fishermen. In fact, the three who were closest to Jesus – Peter James and John – were fishermen and not brilliant scholars. Judas was a traitor to Jesus. Thomas was the one remembered by his doubt.

The two in this grouping that fascinate me most considering the close company they kept for three years were Matthew and Simon.

Matthew was a tax collector. According to the Jews this would label him a traitor to their nation. He was working for the Roman government which was oppressive to the Jewish people. Most Jews hated tax collectors and grouped them with prostitutes and other “sinners”.

Simon was noted as being a zealot. A zealot was one who was a nationalist that wanted to overthrow the roman government. He wanted to restore Israel back to the nation he felt it needed to be without the oppression of another ruling nation. Barabbas was a zealot and was part of an uprising that led to death. Simon was in the same party as Barabbas.

So what was Jesus’ point in all this? I think Jesus was trying to show the people that the kingdom of God wasn’t about political parties. In fact, Jesus’ message was political but not in the ways we think of it.

When we think of politics, we think of Republican and Democrat and maybe Libertarian or Independent. We see the polarization of our nation around these party lines. We think of how our country should be run and who should run it. Matthew and Simon had opposing views of how the Jews should be governed. They were as polar opposite as you could get. Yet Jesus called them to work together for a kingdom that was not of this world.

The kingdom of Jesus is the reign of God in our lives. It is our choice to be governed by God only. The kingdom of God is not Democrat or Republican. It is not about all the things that divide our country. The kingdom is about love of God and love of one another. These are the two laws of the kingdom. When you meet the king you will be asked to account for how you fulfilled the two laws, not what your political party was.

So, if Jesus wasn’t about political parties, then can our churches be the same? We are called to treat others as Jesus did. He didn’t shun someone for being a particular political party. He didn’t ask them which government they stood for before He called them to follow Him. We are called to love others the same way. This is the kingdom of God. You are welcome here even if you are republican, democrat, libertarian, or independent. You are still called to follow Him.


Duck Dynasty, Jesus, and Knowing God.

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Have you ever heard of the show “Duck Dynasty”? It comes on Wednesday nights on A&E, and, in my opinion, it is one of the best shows on television right now.

The show is a reality tv kind of show that follows the exploits of a redneck family that has turned millionaires as they mass produce duck calls and duck hunting videos. They are hilarious as their different personalities allow for copious fiascos. The thing I love most about the show? I know all those people.

The Robertson family has been a part of my life since I was a little boy. I grew up in the church where Phil is an elder. Their oldest son, Alan, was the associate minister there when I was younger and has served as one of the pulpit ministers for the last several years. Jase taught a small group in his home on Revelation that I attended as a teen. Willie worked with the camp I grew up attending each year, and Jep and I went to school and were in youth group together.

I even worked for Duck Commander for a season. Each day I would package duck calls and answer the phone, and for lunch Mrs. Kay would fix a huge spread for everyone who worked there. It was delicious, and I gained most of my excess weight working for them.

The thing that was most impactful to me working there was visiting with Phil about the importance of the Kingdom of God in the life of each of us. He taught me how the Kingdom is central to the message of Jesus. He also showed me what courageous, bold evangelism looked like. I saw several people show up and sit in his living room (this is before they had the warehouse) to meet the Duck Commander. If they were there longer than ten minutes he was sharing the saving message of Jesus with them. I was inspired.

I love telling people that I know the Robertsons. I love to see the look on their faces when I tell them stories about before they were television stars. Ok, I’ll admit it. I also love the recognition it brings me to be associated with them.

Knowing the Robertsons is cool, but I don’t think I need to find my definition by my association with them. I know them, and I am proud to tell you I know them, but there is someone else I need to know more. There is someone else I need to be even more excited to tell you about.

In 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul describes two attributes of people who would not be separated from God eternally. The second attribute is a person who obeys the gospel. The best way I can see of obeying the act of the gospel – the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) – is to re-enact that gospel (Romans 6:1-4). Obeying the gospel is rather simple.

The other attribute of a person who won’t be shut out from the presence of God is that they “know God”.

Do you know God? Many people claim to know God, but you could never tell it by their life. You never hear his name on their lips except as an explicative. And please don’t lie to yourself. “Oh my God” is not a prayer when you say it after you kick your toe or see the coolest shirt ever or get unexpectedly rained on.

We are called to know God. That relationship should be the defining relationship of our lives. It should consume us to the point that everyone who comes in contact with us finds out about our relationship with God. When that happens, then we will be excited to tell others how they, too, can have that kind of relationship with Him.

This is not an oppressive relationship with God ruling us with an iron fist. It is a loving relationship where I fail to keep my covenant to Him daily, and He daily forgives me and gives me more and more chances because of His grace and mercy. He doesn’t love us “if”. He loves us unconditionally. He wants relationship with you so badly that He came in the form of Jesus to live a perfect life in your place and die a cruel death in your place, so that in spite of your continual sin you can have relationship with Him. That’s love.

I’m excited to know the Robertsons, but I’m even more excited to know Jesus. I’m excited to know God. And I’m excited to tell you about Him.

Do you have that kind of relationship with God? Are you unashamed to know Him, or do you shrink back when someone accuses you of being His follower? Do you profess Him in name only, or do you walk with Him each day in prayer, meditation, and searching through His word?

If all who professed to be Christians were truly in relationship with God the world would be a much different place.

Lets get to know God. If you’d like to know more about having this relationship as the redeeming point of your life, then please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or through my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org.

God bless you as you walk with Him each day!


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.


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