Tag Archives: mother

When is Kid’s Day?

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I remember as a child taking note of all the special days for the adults. There are the holidays that they get off work, but even more important to me as a kid were the holidays that allowed the parents to get gifts. There’s grandparents day and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

One day I remember asking, “When is Kid’s Day?”

My mom was quick to let me know that every day was Kid’s Day. I was constantly getting snacks and prizes and having everyone focused on me and what I was doing.

Every day IS Kid’s Day, right?

We focus on our children in all areas of life. We support them in their schooling. We attend their sports activities and ooh and aah over their accomplishments in other areas of life. We encourage their friendships and work to help them to choose wisely. How about their relationship with God?

Churches all over the place are spending more and more energy and resources on children’s programs. They understand that parents are looking to train their children well in the knowledge of the truth of God’s word. These things are good and signs of a healthy church. It is right for us to focus on not just our past or our present but especially on our future.

What people all over are finding, however, is that children – once they graduate high school – are leaving the faith at an alarming rate. These kids were taken to all the bible classes. They did all the activities, but yet they leave anyway.

There are a few things we can do to keep that from happening with our children.

First: Parents, you need to step up your game. Statistics are showing that your children won’t be as involved as you. Especially at the college level. While your children are young you need to be modeling a passion for the Word of God and His church. Otherwise your children will see through the classes you forced them to attend and notice that you didn’t emphasize it in your life and only attended to do your duty. This is not appealing to them. That may not be your motivation for attending, but they see what you do more than what you say. If you are a Sunday Morning Only attendee, then chances are your kids will be non-attendees. It’s time to get involved in a meaningful relationship with your church and the members therein in order to provide the community needed to grow spiritually healthy.

Second: Parents, you need to be teaching your children. Church attendance won’t teach your children. Bible classes, while they help, are often thin on the meatier parts that your kids are hungry for. They need to know that you study the scripture. They need to learn from you. They need to see that their understanding of the scripture is important to you. And they need to see the scripture without all the sunshine and rainbows that we sometimes put in it. The scriptures portray reality and how to live in that reality. Don’t sterilize it to protect your kids. Teach them the honest truth.

Third: As a family spend meaningful time with other Christians in your congregation. One of the reasons that teens leave when they get to the college age is that they have no connections with anyone other than the kids their age. This makes the transition awkward at best and helps to influence them to leave. Invite your older children to spend time with you and your adult church friends. Participate in classes where many ages are present so they can see how to interact among the generations.

Lastly: Don’t wait until they are in Jr. High or High School to expect them to participate and pay attention during worship services. If they can talk, then they can learn to sing. This is a process, and the timing is different for everyone, but I often see older elementary age children playing video games and coloring during worship services. They are old enough to listen, but you are showing them that it is not important for them to do so. Train them. They are ready.

Parents, we have a great responsibility to our children. You may be doing these things already. If so, great! If you aren’t, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just make a decision to change today. As we change so will our kids. Let’s stop the exodus. Let’s begin a spiritual renewal in our children.

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Why Do We Do Good?

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“I don’t do good works to be saved; I do good works BECAUSE I am saved.”

Have you ever heard that phrase? Chances are that someone has said this either to you or in relation to some church they feel are teaching a works-salvation theology. I’ve heard this more times than I can count used to explain the relationship between works and salvation.

I’m not so sure this cliché really gets to the heart of this matter.

First of all, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” This passage definitely rules out the works as being part of our salvation, or does it?

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 gives the most popular definition, but for me it’s still a little vague. When you study faith in the scripture it is more than belief. Belief is a thought or emotional connection about something. It is a conviction, but until it has an action tied to it, it is not faith. Faith is being so sure of you what you cannot see that you act on what you cannot see. Faith by its very nature is active. According to James, faith without deeds is dead. Is this a contradiction? No.

When I come to faith in God and give my life to Him I have to make some pretty major life changes. Anyone whose life has not been changed since coming to Christ has not truly been “converted” to anything and their salvation is suspect for Christ is ever working in us through His Spirit to make us more like Him. In order to have faith I must begin to act on the knowledge that God is real and I truly have been saved from my sins. The natural outcome of this is love for God. And love is always an action when it comes to God and others (love of ice cream is action too but altogether different).

When I begin to see the scope of love from God to me, then I am faced with just how unworthy of that love I really am. It is only when I come to that reality that I begin to love others as I have been loved. To love God is to love those whom God loves.

This brings me to my second thought regarding the cliché above. every time I have heard this phrase it has been in a setting where someone (at times me) has been trying to explain to someone else that they have an obligation out of their salvation to do good works to others. Even though I have always felt this to be extremely shallow I have been caught up into teaching this technique as well. There is a hint of truth here, but it misses the beauty of salvation and doing good by a long shot.

If you told me it was your birthday then ordered me to give you a gift, then it wouldn’t feel much like a gift when you received it. Or if I gave a gift to my daughter and told her, “well, your mother said I have to give this to you – it’s my obligation as your dad.” What would her reaction be? I am afraid it would be the worst gift ever for it wasn’t given out of love.

We are definitely called, as Christians who have been saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus, to do good works. Those good works are evidences of our faith. But if I am doing them out of a sense of duty, then they aren’t benefiting me or anyone else.

I don’t do good works because of an obligation due to my salvation. I do good works because God has loved me beyond my worth and comprehension. As I see His love and begin to realize that love, then I love Him back (the first and greatest commandment according to Jesus). Then, as that relationship of love grows I learn to see others through God’s eyes and love them as well (the second greatest commandment).

I don’t do good works to be saved. I do good works because God loves me, and I love Him, and I love others as well.

If you can’t accurately make that confession about yourself, then you are going through the motions. Over and over the bible condemns such actions. God would rather you be silent than lie to him in song. He would rather you keep your money than give it in frustration out of a sense of duty. But most of all, he would rather not have to worry about any of that because you are absolutely in love with Him and His creation.

I hope that the next time you hear this phrase it will spur you to remember this article. I hope you are passionately pursuing relationship with God. I hope you are loving people out of compulsion rather than out of duty – you can’t help love them because of the love-relationship between you and God.

If you haven’t begun your love-relationship with God where He has taken away your sins and given you His perfection, then I’d love to discuss any questions you may have regarding making that happen. It’s up to you. Last Friday 12 people unexpectedly died. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Don’t put off your relationship with God through Jesus another day.

If you have been going through the motions, then Jesus is calling you to come back to your first Love. The most wonderful thing about Jesus is that He has never left you; He has been there the whole time waiting for you to desire Him again. If I can pray with you or help you come back in any way please let me know.

You can reach me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. You can even comment on this article or any previous articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org.

God bless you as you do good in His name and for His sake.


Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, and Atomic Bombs

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Close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades.”

How many times have you heard that? I’ve heard it all my life to refer to many occasions where I have said, “Well, I was close.” I’ve also heard that saying evolve a bit to include atomic bombs.

This Memorial Day weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to go to my parents’ house in Northeast Louisiana. We had a grand time playing and swimming and laughing and reminiscing. We celebrated my son’s birthday and his graduation from kindergarten. We also played horseshoes.

Horseshoes is a great game of some skill and a whole lot of luck. I don’t generally believe in luck, but when a person with no skill accidentally gets a ringer or leaner what else should I call it?

We all played: my mom and dad, my wife and son and daughter, and even my 83 year old grandfather.

In fact, I played my grandfather, and it is with much shame and a bit of a smirk that I must admit that even with a knee that shot pain through his body with every throw and joints with no cushioning, he beat me royally. I think the score was fifteen to seven. I could get the horseshoe close, but not close enough.

We live in a culture that celebrates “close enough”. Look at our political system. The candidates we have running for the various offices do not match up with our moral or political views, so we have to find the one we think represents our ideals “closely enough”. Then we wonder why our country is going downhill so quickly.

I see girls all the time who want deep down to find the man of their dreams, but after years of finding no such man, they settle for “close enough”. That usually leads them to misery in the end.

I see Christians all the time who match their lives up to the scriptures, and they say “eh, close enough”.

Even in horseshoes there is a definition for “close”. There is a measurable boundary where you can determine if you are “close enough”. In our lives, however, we want to place those boundaries wherever we please. This doesn’t work when it comes to the righteousness that God requires. We can’t read how we are supposed to be living according to the scriptures and then dismiss our shortcomings as being close enough.

Let me get something straight: you cannot get to heaven or get saved by anything that you’ve done. It is by the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus that you are saved. However, we have changed our attitude towards that gift over the years to become apathetic concerning our response to that gift.

You don’t receive a million dollars then spit in the face of the one who gave it to you. When we disregard the desires of God for righteousness in our lives we are trampling the cross underfoot.

As I study various religions I am overjoyed to see so many going in the right direction – for a bit. Then I mourn as I see them time after time stray away. They were so close, but they had to ignore something or add something that wasn’t necessary. Eh, at least they’re close. No. I don’t want to stand before God and try to explain to Him how I was “close enough”. I don’t think that argument will set well with Him – the Almighty, wholly pure, righteous, justified Lord of the universe.

No, we must get back to seeing how the scriptures show us how to live. Love must reign in our lives coupled with peace as we seek unity. No longer should we rely on “close enough”. So many people say “I believe in God”, yet their actions prove otherwise. Besides, the bible says that “even the demons believe…”

I want to live my life for Christ in every area. I want to continue to grow in that life that honors Him as I grow to know Him. I never want to be stagnant, and I don’t want to rely on the hope that I was “close enough”. I want assurance that my salvation is secure, and I have that assurance according to the Bible.

I’m not saying that to try to sound arrogant. You can have that assurance as well, but you have to be willing to set aside the “close enough” mindset. You have to be willing to really, truly devote yourself to Christ. I do understand that it is not easy, nor is it convenient, but it is right, and it is what you are called to do and to be.

Join with me in that life of assurance in Christ. If you haven’t truly dedicated your life to Christ as commended to you by Jesus himself, then seek that connection today. If you’ve been living a life of “close enough” you can make the decision to change, and Christ stands waiting to help you in that journey.

I would love to talk with you more about this. If I can help you in any way, please call me at 245-1611 or write me at jddobbs@verizon.net. You can also join the conversation at http://www.mrdobbs.org. Have a great day, play some horseshoes, and be dedicated to God. Bless God; He has already blessed you.


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.


What Are You Afraid Of?

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What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of snakes or bugs or creepy crawlies? Are you afraid of the dark?

I know people who say they are afraid of heights, but that is merely an easy way to explain that they have a fear of falling from high places.

Some people are afraid of wicker furniture or clowns or the number 13. Some people even have pantophobia – fear of everything!

I have agliophobia. It’s a fear of pain. Apparently it’s not a very strong fear because I was able to do the Tough Mudder with all the shocking and bleeding involved. However, it is something I had to really psych myself into accomplishing.

I’m writing this article on Valentine’s Day. Why would I be writing about fears on Valentine’s Day? The answer is found in 1 John 4:18.

We all have things of which we are afraid. Certain things, when we even think about them, cripple us and freeze us in our tracks. I remember growing up with Mom being afraid of snakes. She couldn’t even see pictures of them in magazines. Movies that had snakes in them were out. Those scenes in Indiana Jones where he is in the pit with all the snakes made her leave the room. If I left my bullwhip (a boy’s gift from a loving grandmother) on the floor overnight, then I would get in trouble because it would freeze her in her tracks. She would automatically see that bullwhip coiled up and think “snake”.

When you think of fears, however, what is the root source of that fear? Are you afraid because of the actual object or event? More often than not we are afraid because during that moment all we can think of is ourselves. When I am paralyzed in fear my thoughts are consumed with myself and what might happen to me and how it might hurt me…me, me, me.

When we love we aren’t concerned with “me”. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says that “Love is not self-seeking.” If we are concerned about ourselves then we are not loving someone else. 1 John 4:18 sets fear and love as opposites. They are mutually exclusive of one another. It says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The man who fears is not made perfect in love.”.

This has many implications on our loves. It’s Valentine’s week. Have you shrunk back in your desire to show love to someone for fear of how they’ll treat you in return? In that case you aren’t truly thinking about them but yourself. Have you distanced yourself from someone because you just weren’t sure the outcome of your interaction? That’s fear, and that fear is all about you.

God’s promise to us is that He “did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). That fear that you feel did not come from God. What comes from God is a powerful ability to love others even against out knee-jerk reactions to shrink back. That’s love done out of self control in a powerful way.

When we get this idea deep into our psyche, then we will have much less difficulty telling others about the love of Jesus. Think about it. We have the greatest message in the world about the greatest event in the world offering the greatest gift to their the world, yet we don’t bother to tell even the people we claim to love about this. Is that love? Love would want them to have what we have. Yet we are paralyzed in our fears and don’t speak.

May you make a resolution today to live according to the Spirit of God. May the Spirit fill you with that power, love, and self discipline. And may the world be changed starting with the relationships we have at home because we are no longer afraid to love others. I know that’s my prayer for me; it’s my prayer for you too.

Thanks for reading this each week! Have a blessed day, and if you’d like to talk more about anything you read here or would like me to pray for you please let me know at jddobbs@verizon.net. Remember: power, love, and self discipline – they are yours in Christ!!


There is Hope in the Midst of Sorrow

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To be honest with you, I haven’t had time to sit and process all the events of the past week. When I heard the news, I was shocked, and when I heard the ages of the children I was horrified. However, with the candlelight vigil to plan and the countless other people who we’re there to check on, I haven’t spent much time being able to process this myself.

What I do know in the midst of this is that God is still here. He is still active. And He works all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

My children have been very inquisitive about this event. Imagine my three year old and five year old trying to process that other children their age were shot by their own dad. When I think of some of the stories of how this went down it literally stops me in my tracks, and I have to pause for a moment to regain myself.

I cannot imagine being the mother. There are too many “what if’s” to be able to ever be completely healthy after last week. But God still works things out for the good, but your dedication to him is the key.

Look at what it says in Jeremiah:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

God is not the one who orchestrated the events of last week. Even though Christians live their lives daily in dedication to the One True God they still die all over the world. The reason is that Satan is still at work as well, and mankind has free will choice on which of the two they will serve.

What helps me in times like this is not the idea that God will protect me from everything, but that He is guiding me to a better path. He will not necessarily keep me from death or harm, but He will not harm me himself.

He is the only father who will never fail you. He will always love and cherish you. He always protects, but sometimes the protection comes through helping you heal through a difficult time so that you can help others heal and be prepared for tougher times to come. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, the scripture says that God is the God of all comfort, and He comforts us in times of trouble so that we can comfort others when their times come.

We don’t know all the ins and outs of how God protects. We don’t know the extent to which He is continuously working in our lives, but we can trust that as we dedicate our lives to Him, He will work everything out for His good. We just need to seek Him, pray to Him, and call upon Him, and He will deliver us from the captivity of the sin of our lives (see Jeremiah 29).

In John 9, the disciples asked Jesus who was being punished by this particular man being blind. Did he sin or did his parents? Jesus’ reply was neither. This man was blind so that God may be glorified, and as Jesus healed him, God was glorified.

I do not believe that God orchestrated the events of last week. However, I am confident that He is working out everything involved with each person so that if they are seeking Him and praying to Him and calling out to him, then He is working out everything for their good and to His glory.

I know that trusting in this promise is often hard, but we are promised hope, and as we learn to live in that hope, then we will have confidence and peace even in times of intense sorrow.

I hope that you have had a chance to process what our whole community experienced last week with the shooting that occurred. If not, I’d like to encourage you to find a minister in town that you can talk to. Any of our members here at Nichols St. Church of Christ would be honored to speak with you, and I know that the ministers from the various other churches in town feel the same. Please take time and find comfort and peace through talking this out and seeking God. In Acts 17 He promises that He is not far from you. He’s just waiting for you to seek him.

If there’s anything I can do for you in this or the coming weeks, please let me know. You can contact me although the church office at 979-245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net.

God bless you, and may God bless our city as we all continue to seek Him through tough as well as easy times.


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