Tag Archives: Matthew

Killing Churches Daily

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There is one thing that tears up churches more than any other thing. In fact this may be the only reason churches split. What is it? It is a lack of conflict resolution skills.

If you are around people for very long then there will come a time when you will disagree with them. They may say or do something you do not like. They may NOT say or do something, and you might think they should. Maybe you think they should have listened to your advice or come to you for help but they didn’t. Now you’re upset.

Why? We usually get upset out of an elevated sense of self-worth. We see our ideas, actions, motives, etc. as being more pure or better than someone around us.

This is not love. This is pride. Pride is the opposite of love because pride has to do with selfishness, and love is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13).

So, now you’re upset, and what do you do? You let it simmer inside. You think of all the stupid reasons that other imbecile should have done or said or not done whatever it is that you’re upset about. Then you find another friend and talk with them about this issue. Your friend agrees with you, and now they’re upset with this individual. By the way, that’s gossip and slander (2 Cor. 12:20). Then the rumor-mill starts, and before you know it there is a whole army of people looking for blood from this individual.

Their initial action may or may not have been wrong, but the subsequent actions are sinful and devastating to the church that belongs to Christ.

So what do we do? Jesus tells us what to do if someone sins against us:

Matthew 18:15-17
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Note that this isn’t them offending us. We can be offended, but if they haven’t sinned against us, then we need to check our pride. If we are holding a grudge based on something we are offended by, then we need to drop it and love our brother or sister.

But what if we sinned against them or even cause some strife against them and they aren’t mature enough to come to us first? Jesus addresses that too:

Matthew 5:23-24
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Notice that Jesus wants us to be about the ministry of reconciliation before we are able to come to him in worship.

If we are holding grudges against our brothers and sisters in Christ that isn’t love. We need to repent because we don’t love God if we aren’t loving our brothers and sisters (1 John 4:20-21).

So, let’s be people who practice the art of conflict resolution in love. Let’s keep our anger and pride in check. You are God’s gift to the church but you don’t have to remind the church of it. You are smart and have great ideas, but so do others. You may think a person should do something, but they’ll never know until you tell them in love. You may not like the actions of another, but you cannot control them – you can only control yourself and your reaction to them. Remember that you are all equal in God’s sight and equally loved by Him.

If we can remember that our love for them is more important than our need to be right then we will be able to get along just fine.

Jesus said the world will know that He is the messiah by our love for one another and our unity with one another (John 13, 17). Let’s be a shining example of that to the world around us.

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Cake and Roses and Fluffy Puppies

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I’ve written before about my love for mountain climbing or just climbing in general. The feeling of standing on the top of a high place and seeing the world from above is breathtaking. However, the top isn’t the only part of the journey worth talking about.

When you set out to climb a mountain there are a lot of undesirable issues you must deal with to get there. There is the hassle of camping and gear if you choose to make it an overnight trip. There is the issue of sustenance, for you will surely need the energy to make it to the top. Because you must have sustenance you will have to carry that weight on your back. This creates more weight for you to have to haul up the mountain.

Then there’s the sheer feat of climbing the mountain. No mountain is “easy”. Some are less difficult than others, but your body does strange things above 10,000 feet of elevation. As you climb there are rocks that you trip on. There is often snow to be traversed. There are aching muscles from the constant upward motion. Then there’s the dreaded issue of having to go to the bathroom above tree line (embarassing).

Climbing a mountain is fun and rewarding, but it is also difficult and painful.

When you listen to many preachers talk about life in Christ you hear about love, joy, peace, kindness and other such beautiful ideas. You hear about grace and forgiveness. Who wouldn’t want those things? Christianity sounds awesome, right?!

What they don’t tell you is that Christianity is like climbing up the mountain. The summit experience is awesome, but you have to go through the climb of life to get there. It isn’t all cake and roses and fluffy puppies. Sometimes Christianity is tears and pain and division and struggle.

Jesus was very clear that the Kingdom of Heaven – the kingdom that is here and now in those allowing Christ to rule in their hearts – is much more desirable than the kingdoms of this world with their selfishness and tyranny. However he also made a couple of statements that aren’t so popular.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

He also promises this:

“In this world you will have trouble.”

Well, that’s not very happy. It doesn’t seem like Jesus is doing the best job marketing this new kingdom life.

Think about it though. Have you ever made a decision you knew was right, yet everyone around you was angry with you for the decision you made? Have you ever loved someone even though they hurt you? Have you ever risked your life for someone else? Then you know what Jesus is talking about.

We choose to live for Christ because He is teaching us the way of love, but not everyone likes this way. Some people even hate this way of life because our living this way exposes the darkness within them. They revile against it, and division is created, and relationships are damaged.

In Luke 14 Jesus encourages us to count the cost of being his disciple. It will be a struggle, and you will have to be wiling to sacrifice everything for him, but what you gain is so worth it. Forgiveness, grace, eternal life, relationship with the Creator, purpose in this life. Those things cannot be given a value.

After Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this world, he said “but take heart because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus doesn’t leave us alone to deal with these struggles ourselves. He has promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He has promised to take every circumstance and bring good out of it (Romans 8:28). He has promised to love you, and he showed it by dying for you. He gave his life for you. Are you willing to go through a little bit of struggle for him?

One more thing.
In Jesus there is a new perspective that I learn day by day as I follow him. The more I live like Jesus the less concerned I am with myself because I am learning to love others more. This brings pain at times when I am rejected, but this also brings hope in all things because of the resurrection. I now have a choice on how I look at the hard times. I choose to look at them as learning experiences and refining fire that makes me stronger. I choose this because I know that this life is not all there is for me. My eternal life began when I gave my life to Jesus, and it reaches its fullness once this physical life reaches its limits. Death is not the end, so I live this life with joy and hope whatever the situation.

Count the cost before you come to Christ, but know that the cost is well worth it for the joy of knowing the Creator and living in His presence. And if you’re already in Christ, live with the perspective of hope in all circumstances. Jesus is with you. His Spirit lives inside you. You are eternal – your pain doesn’t have to be.


Doing church

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When you’re lying around thinking about things, what do you think about? What captures those valuable moments of meditation as you allow your mind to wander? When you get up, what do you do? What things are necessary that dictate your actions? As you do those things what is your attitude? Do you enjoy the life you are living, the things you think about and what you do?

Many of us have hobbies. Those are usually things that we love to do, and when we aren’t doing those things we are thinking about those things. When we are given the opportunity to be immersed into our hobby for a while we jump at the chance.

Many of us love sports. We have our favorite teams. We don’t miss a game. We wear the paraphernalia. If we get a chance to actually go to the game we jump at the chance and tell just about everyone we can because we are so excited.

Many of us have families. We cater to our children’s needs. We serve them to the point of fatigue and then some. We spend time together playing and working. We teach them. We are engaged in our families. When we aren’t with them we are thinking about them. When we are away we can’t wait to be back with our family.

What if we treated our hobbies, favorite teams, or families like we treat our commitment to the Kingdom of God?

What if we only saw our family on Sunday mornings for two hours? What if the family needed our help, but we were always too busy to help or figured someone else would come to their aid? What if when we were with our family we were constantly thinking about all the other things we would rather do away from our family?

How much of a fan would you be if you didn’t spend time getting to know your team? How skilled would you be at your hobby if you only went to lectures and heard about how to do your hobby but never actually got busy doing your hobby?

This is how many people “do church”. We come on Sunday mornings. Many people don’t even come for class even though it’s only an hour sooner. We sing a few songs we don’t even realize the words to. Then we listen to a sermon while thinking about what is for lunch. When we are done we shake the mandatory hands and say “hi” to others, but we are really glad to be done with this portion of our week.

We are called to so much more in our walk with Jesus.

Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

In many churches there is a core group that understand the need to work together as a family to help spread the message of the good news of Jesus. The majority of the church is only engaged on Sunday mornings.

If we are really honest, the majority of our Christianity consists of what we do and who we are Monday through Saturday.

If your church needs you, don’t wait for someone else to get involved. We are all called to be active in working to he’ll the kingdom of God grow. Your church does need you.

You have been given the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus needs you to. Offer everything to Him all the time. Let Him give you rest, but you only need rest after you’ve exhausted yourself by working. Let’s get to work.


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.


James Taylor and the Bible

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Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt like life just isn’t fair, and you’re discouraged? Have you ever been faced with a decision where you couldn’t see the consequences of any choice? Have you ever felt utterly alone in this world? Have you ever wondered what your purpose is set out to be; where does God want you to go; what does He want you to do?

I would say that if you answered yes to any of those questions you are extremely – normal.

We all feel that way at some time or another. Today I want to remind you of some promises from God for you as you journey through life.

First of all, remember Abraham. God told Abraham to go, but He didn’t tell him which way or how far. He just told Abraham to trust God, and He would lead him to the place He would give his descendants.

Abraham left. I don’t know if he walked out his tent and went left or right, but whichever way he went was the right way. Abraham was seeking to follow God, and God did not disappoint Abraham by abandoning him.

God gives us the same promise today. Whatever situation you are in, God wants you to know He is with you, and if you follow Him, then you will be going the right direction and doing the right thing wherever you land. God is trying to bring you peace no matter the circumstances.

Let’s look at a few passages that reflect these ideas:

Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”

God is trying to show you that He is with you wherever you go. You merely need to be listening for his voice. We tend to worry that we made a wrong decision, but God is affirming you. He is telling you that He is still with you and helping you and guiding you even in your decisions – even after your decisions.

Matthew 6:31-34 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

The secret to finding contentment in Christ comes from a change of focus. If you are focused on all the physical needs you perceive, then you will easily become discouraged when troubling times come. If the answers aren’t clear, then a physical-focused mind becomes muddled. But if the mind is focused on the Kingdom of God and being in His righteousness, then there is peace in knowing that He is in control and will take care of all your needs. It is when we understand this passage that we can more readily trust in the Isaiah passage.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

This is an amazing passage. God blanketly says here that everything is going to be ok. He wants you to know that even if you make a decision that you don’t think was best He is still working it out for your good. You can go to the bank on that. This is a promise from the God who cannot lie. You have been called, and as you love him (more than a feeling – its an action) he works all things out for your good.

Whew! That’s a load off! That means that even if you chose a job that may not be the best you can still be blessed in that. Maybe you made some bad decisions earlier in life that you now regret. God is working to make all things good for you. He’s awesome like that.

Lastly, in Hebrews 5 the writer quotes God as saying “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Maybe you feel all alone in life. There is disaster on every side. You are not alone, and He will never leave you. Even when you draw away from Him, He never leaves. He is very much like a good parent that, though the child does wrong, He still loves the child and desperately wants the best for that child.

That’s the God we serve. That’s the God I want to serve.

James Taylor sang a song that many of you know, “You’ve Got a Friend”. If you know that song, then think about the lyrics. It’s a song of a friendship that would sacrifice anything to help the other out. That’s a pretty great image of our God, and He has already sacrificed everything to help us out. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

I hope that this has brought you some encouragement in your life. We all need encouragement from time to time, and the promises of God are true and bring life. Share this with your friends; chances are that they need to hear this message too.

If there’s anything I can do for you, please feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or through my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you…wait, He already has.


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!


Shoe Tying Gone Wrong

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Are you familiar with TED? It is a nonprofit organization whose motto is “Ideas Worth Spreading”. You can find information from them at http://www.TED.com.

What TED does is bring some of the brightest minds around the planet to talk about a wide variety of topics. People speak on such things as solving water crisis problems and helping world hunger. They talk about why our universe is fit for our type of life and how to fix a broken economy.

Many of the speakers do an excellent job and are fascinating. I’ll admit that most are a bit out of my league or just don’t pique my interest. However, I ran across one of their videos that surprised me. You can go to TED.com or YouTube and search for “Terry Moore: How to tie your shoes”.

In this 3 minute video Terry Moore discusses how to tie shoes the correct way. I’ve been tying my shoes for most of my life and hadn’t realized that there was actually a right and wrong way to tie shoes. It turns out that there is a best way to do this, and most people are close to getting it right but one wrong move has them tying a knot that is weak at best. This is a major cause of shoes randomly becoming untied throughout the day.

How do you tie your shoes? The right way or the wrong way? Did you even know there was such a distinction?

We tie our shoes day after day, and we teach our kids to tie their shoes the way we tie them so that generation after generation grows up tying their shoes the way it has always been done. Just because it’s always been done that way by your family, however, doesn’t mean it’s the best or right way to do it.

The apostle Paul understood this later in life. He had spent his entire life extremely dedicated to the Pharisaical sect of Judaism. He knew the letter of the law and was a “Hebrew of Hebrews”. He did everything right (or so he thought). Not only did he do everything right, but he was evangelistic in trying to get others to change their ways and condemning those who taught the way of Christ.

It was on his way to Damascus to righteously persecute more of these heretics in the name of Jehovah when Jesus appeared to Paul (then known as Saul). During that encounter, Paul realized that though he had been convinced that was he was doing was right, and even though he had great zeal for his way of life, he was dead wrong and needed to change.

Fortunately for everyone who reads the bible he wasn’t resistant to the vision, and he changed his way of thinking with the help of the Spirit. He went on to write most of the New Testament as we know it and became one of the greatest evangelists for Christ of all time.

We wrestle with this same kind of thinking today. So many things are done day and week and year after year because we have always done them that way. We accept things as being scriptural because someone said it is scriptural. We, like sheep, blindly follow the sheep that went before us.

Fortunately, for us, there is forgiveness from God. We surely do not have everything right.

Look at the way we do things in our churches. Why do we do them that way? Why do our churches today look so unlike the churches in the first century when the apostles were spreading the message for the first time?

Don’t get me wrong; I am not against tradition. I do, however, think that traditions need to be continually questioned. Is this tradition useful today? What was the purpose for this tradition when it was implemented? Is it right or wrong to participate in this tradition?

Then think about what you have been taught. Do I believe that because it is the logical argument passed down through generations, or do I believe it because the scripture actually makes this argument? Is this belief what was handed to me, or is this truth from the word of God?

Some things we believe to be scriptural truths aren’t even in the scriptures.

According to Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 20:18-19 (symbolic bookends of the scriptures) we are not to hold anyone hostage over anything we have tried to add to the scriptures. We cannot add some tradition then claim it to be heresy if someone doesn’t follow that tradition. We also cannot take the scriptures and cut away the things we don’t believe in. There are at least six different places throughout the scriptures where this warning is given.

I encourage you to question things. You were given a mind that has great capacity for logic and reasoning – use it. You fulfill your purpose as you use the talents God has given you, and you were given the ability to think. Don’t simply let someone else do the thinking for you.

Just a warning: if you do this, you may come up with conclusions that are different than what your other church members or leadership believes. Be patient. Love and peace and unity are much grander philosophies in the scripture than getting everything right. Romans 15:1 warns us to bear with the failings of the weak. Therefore, it is good to question things and work toward change, but we must be patient with others. God doesn’t just give grace to those whom have all the doctrine right…he gives it to those who haven’t gotten things figured out the way you do too.

So, may you learn to tie your shoes properly. May you seek the truth in your beliefs and traditions, but above all, may you seek love and peace and unity among the brotherhood as you work to bring light into error.

God bless you, and if there is anything I can help you with in your walk with Christ, please feel free to call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. If you’d like to see the video I spoke of earlier, you can find the link on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you, and have a great week!

Here’s the link:

Terry Moore: How to tie your shoes


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