Tag Archives: murder

R.E.M. Was Right

“It’s the end of the world a we know it…” But I don’t feel fine.

Our world seems to be crumbling all around us. Media shows us atrocities daily stemming from numerous causes. As we watch these things happen, and experience these horrors either firsthand, or through a loved one, we can’t help but feel somewhat hopeless.

But why are all these things happening?

Some want to blame this, that, and the other. Others want to avoid the question altogether. But few are really speaking into the reason for the tragedies we are witnessing daily.

Our world wants nothing to do with God and the hope He offers.

FORGETTING THE PAST

60 years ago, Christianity was thriving. Churches were growing, but it was the beginning of the era of decline for the church. As people began experimenting with the New Age movement during the Hippy Era, and some traded religion for science, skepticism set into our culture, and the church did nothing.

It was easy for the church to do so. She had been the primary influencer in nearly all of society for ages. This understanding allowed people to believe that culture would convert their friends and family. In the USA, Christianity had been a primary influence even in government.

So, when times changed, instead of renewing the vigor for evangelism, the church simply watched. It wasn’t everyone in the church, but it was the majority, and that was enough to begin the decline.

IGNORING THE PROBLEM

Instead of reaching out to the lost with love and grace, the church fought against one another, striving to declare each sect the “right” sect – forgetting that sectarianism (division) is expressly condemned by the scriptures. The church was busy blaming one another as the masses began to leave. Fed up with the hypocrisy of “I’m right, and you’re wrong”, the world turned against the church. And, in turn, it turned against God.

However, instead of identifying the lack of God and His principles in society, everyone continued to blame one another or blame things. We blame God, Satan, video games, guns, science, illegal immigrants, other denominations, other religions, other races, politicians, and many more. The list goes on and on. But we don’t blame free will. We don’t dare take any of the responsibility, either. That would mean we would have to change – if we were the problem.

In the age of the apathy of the church, she began to atrophy.

No longer is the average Christian evangelistic. This has been the case for a long while. Shortly after the church was established, the church allowed the government to be the great evangelist through a partnership of the church with the state. As time went by, we assumed people inherently believed in God because of the cultural influence of the church, so we waited for the preachers to do the evangelism. All the while, we got fat with teaching from those same preachers.

When you eat and eat and eat, but you never exercise, you become fat through your laziness. This is the nature of the church. She, her members, want the preachers to preach and teach and evangelize; all the while the masses in her ranks can feel comfort and connection with God through education and emotional experiences once a week (three times if you’re “devout”). Where is all the action of the church like we read about in the book of Acts?!

FACING THE FUTURE

If the church (THAT MEANS YOU) doesn’t return to her calling according to Jesus in the scriptures, she will die. Sure, God can keep a remnant, like He has done for thousands of years, but should we really hope for that?

Shouldn’t we rather get out of our doors? Shouldn’t we discover how to use this wealth of knowledge that is imparted to us every week? Shouldn’t we return to the mission of the first church – the Kingdom of God and it’s expansion through love?

How many people have you brought to Christ? I’m not talking about inviting people to church. I’m talking about actually sharing the good news of Jesus with someone.

SEEKING HELP

You know what? If you went to your preacher, or some other evangelistic leader in your church, and asked them how to share the gospel with your friends, I think you would find them more than willing to spend one-on-one time training you in the ways of evangelism. But that’s going to require you to do uncomfortable things and spend valuable time on others. Is that any less than what Jesus has already done for you?

Do you want to change the direction of this world? This change begins with you finding one person who is willing to listen to how love, through Christ, can change their heart.

Immorality is a choice made from free-will. It is sin. It is not the will of God, and it doesn’t have to rule us or our friends. But until someone is given the choice, how can they begin anew?

Romans 10:14-15
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
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A Boy’s Favorite Bible Story

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One of my favorite stories in the bible is the story of Ehud the “judge” of Israel. You can find the story in Judges 3.

Israel had turned away from God, so He allowed them to be taken captive by Elgon, king of Moab. The Israelites didn’t like that very much, and they cried out to Jehovah to deliver them from this new oppression. By the way, the book of Judges is all about people getting comfortable and turning away from God. Then God allows them to be oppressed, so they cry out to Him. Then He delivers them, and the cycle starts over again.

God did send a deliverer, Ehud. Ehud was a left-handed man from the tribe of Benjamin, a tribe that was known for its warriors in the bible. Ehud had made a double edged dagger about 18 inches long that he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing.

The Israelites decided to send Ehud to the king with a tribute from the nation. Upon arriving at their destination, they paid tribute to the king, and Ehud sent the men away who carried the tribute for him. Ehud began to walk out and had just gotten past the statues of the Moabite gods when he turned back and said he had a secret message for the king.

The king sent out everyone from the room and Ehud approached the king to deliver his message from God. As Elgon stood to receive the message, Ehud reached in and grabbed his sword.

Now it is necessary to describe Elgon a bit. He was fat. The bible describes him as overly obese. This fact will play into this story in a minute.

Eduh grabbed the dagger and plunged it into the king’s belly. The blade came out his back, and because he was so fat the sword was lost in the king’s belly and Ehud couldn’t remove it.

Ehud then slipped out quietly and locked the door. The guards didn’t go in because they assumed the king was going to the bathroom. When they waited an embarrassingly long time to check on the king they decided to go in and found him dead. Ehud had gotten away scot free.

This event motivated the Israelites to rise up and take back their freedom, and with God’s help they did just that.

I know. This seems like a really strange story to be someone’s favorite, but I read this as a boy and was fascinated that the bible would put so much detail and have so much humor in this story. I was shocked that the bible would talk about the king being fat. I was grossed out by the description of the stabbing. I chuckled at the guards thinking the king was on the other “throne”. Remember, I was just a boy when I read this.

I’m telling you the story now because I want you to see the color that is in the scriptures. So many people treat the bible like its some bland book of rules and regulations, but it is so much more! It is full of stories with excitement and humor. There is much sarcasm and laughter. There is weeping and comfort. Every emotion can be found there in the scriptures.

I read “The Hunger Games” in about a week – all three books. I was enthralled by the story. When was the last time you felt that way about the scriptures? How long has it been since you responded to a story from the bible with that sense of awe and wonder that a child has when hearing the story of Jonah for the first time?

Last week I wrote about the need for all of us to have a secure foundation of the scriptures in our lives. I hope that this week you can see just how vibrant and alive and entertaining and intense that collection of books truly is.

May you fall in love with scriptures once again – or maybe for the first time. Pick them up and read. Put yourself in the stories and watch them come alive. Listen to the messages God is trying to tell you therein. Once you meet God there, you will have a grander vision for meeting God in other places in your life.

These are not mere stories; they are history. They are true, and archaeology proves that a little more and more each year. But even though this is a historical book, it is not dull, and you can find yourself in so many stories as the characters are just like you and me.

Let’s get back to the bible. Let’s be excited once again about the Word of God.

If you’d like to talk more about this feel free to email me at jddobbs@verizon.net or comment on this article on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org. You can also call me at the office at 979-245-1611 extension 103. God bless you as His Word fills your heart!


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.


Glory in the Face of Grief

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Through the last few years I have embraced social media. I used to have a myspace (until that became lame). I text and Twitter and Facebook and Google+. I even LinkedIn. These have been great tools not only to help me keep in touch with the people I work with as a minister, but they have also allowed me to minister to friends of times past. Nowadays I also use these means to connect with other ministers in order to continue a sharpening of my mind as we discuss the ins and outs of theology and ministry. These men and women are dear friends to me as I strive to be a better minister of the Kingdom of God.

One such ministry friend I have come in contact with is a preacher for a church of Christ in Mississippi. One of his sons is a youth minister in another state. Still living at home is his 21 year old son who is handicapped. Last Monday the wife and 21 year old son of this ministry friend of mine were murdered by a man who had attended their church.

Wow. What do you say to that?

Needless to say this has affected me deeply. I know people who have unexpectedly lost loved ones. Times get tough very quickly. I know ministers who have lost their faith through tragic events such as these. I know Christians who have lost their faith under circumstances much less grave than this!

Wow. Please pray for him, his family, and the community that loves him. There is much hurt there now.

What is our response in the face of such tragedy? Do we cry out and curse God? Do we hide in a hole of depression and let the grief eat away for the rest of our lives? It would be so easy to do either one of those things.

My heart grieves for this man and his family.

Thoughts of this event bring to mind two grand ideas, however. The first idea comes from the fact that God watched as His own son was murdered in cold blood. It was not a crime of passion. It was cold and calculated and merciless. In fact you and I murdered Him with our sins. Acts 2 says “you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to a cross”.

Can you imagine how God must have grieved for the loss of His son? But He was willing to go through that so that you and I could have life and not receive that death in ourselves. What is your response in the face of such love for you? Have you responded to that, or do you keep putting it off until tomorrow?

The second thought that comes to mind is found in 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.” If you read it closely, you will see that it says “in all things” (emphasis added).

Am I trying to say that God can work out the murder of this Godly woman and her son for the good of her family and community who are grieving today? Yes! It may seem difficult to grasp in the midst of the whirlwind of grief, but it is a promise from God. No matter what you may be going through or may have gone through, God can – and wants to – work that situation out for your good. Why? So that in all things He may be glorified. You see, if God can turn tragedy into triumph, then He truly is the God of love and mercy – a God worthy to be praised.

How will you respond to such love in the face of your struggles today? I hope you will hold your loved ones a little closer. Even more so, I hope that you will not put off your decision to commit your life to God through Jesus. You never know what today may bring.

Please keep praying for this family. If there is anything I can do you for, or if you have any questions or prayer requests, feel free to contact me at jddobbs@Verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. God bless your day, and may you glorify Him even in the face of grief.


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