Tag Archives: pain

#aztecstrong #marshallstrong #churchstrong

Have you ever been in a situation where pain is imminent? Maybe you’re about to fall. Maybe you’re about to crash. Maybe one false move could cause loss of limb. In any case, your sensed are heightened, and you are keenly aware of every motion in effort to stave off the potential harm that could befall you. No longer are you drifting in semi-conscious automatic behavior. Now you are engaged, and your focus is keen.

How about another scenario. What do you do when you cut yourself badly? Let’s say you are in the kitchen cutting vegetables, and your finger gets in the way trying to pretend it’s one of the vegetables. The knife goes right to the bone. Do you continue in your course of action? NO! You immediately stop, and all your consciousness and efforts focus on stopping the bleeding and healing the wound. In fact, even as the wound heals, your body cannot help but remain focused on the sensitivity of the wound.

Pain focuses us. Terror unites us. Routine divides.

When I think of the terror of the Aztec and Marshall County High School shootings, it strikes me how unified the communities have become in the aftermath of the tragedies. People are reaching out to one another in ways they never would otherwise. Aztec is reaching out in prayer and support for Marshall County. Those two groups would never have even known each other. We are unified when we are singularly seeking to survive from similar circumstances. We have empathy and concern for one another, and we show it outwardly.

In the first century, the church was hemmed in on every side with persecution from a variety of groups that did not like how the Kingdom of God defines by selfless love threatened their power schemes. Christians were imprisoned and killed. People ran for their lives. But the church was growing. How could this be? It would seem the persecution would eradicate this loosely-banded group of misfits claiming such an outlandish story.

Instead of hurting the church, it actually caused its growth. People were unified in their drive to survive and invite others into a better way of love, and as the persecution came, they moved and continued to share, thus spreading the gospel to all the lands within a matter of about two years.

Tragedy and persecution united the church, and it grew.

Today the church is apathetic. Sure, you have ministers, pastors, evangelists, and a handful of people in each congregation that are actively trying to reach out with the good news of Jesus, but the majority of every church is apathetic concerning discipleship and righteous living.

When the church was being persecuted, you didn’t participate if you were unsure. You didn’t ride the fence because that would cost your life. You were either all in or all out. There was no place for another option. Those who were all in banded together in unity of purpose and message and turned the world upside down.

Today, churches are full of people who are riding the fence concerning their relationship with God. They aren’t atheists, but they aren’t sure they want to be fanatics about Jesus either. Thus the church merely survives rather than thriving as in the days of tragedy and persecution.

As the church continues day-to-day as it has for over two hundred years here in America, she becomes less and less energetic concerning the salvation of all mankind. She becomes complacent regarding righteousness. She becomes divisive when, in her boredom, she has more time to focus on petty arguments within her body than with survival and the central message of Jesus.

We must wake up. Just like a person who has become complacent regarding health needs to get back on an exercise and healthy-eating regimen, so the church needs to get healthy again. Away with the infighting. Away with the laziness. Away with the unrighteous behavior that makes church people indistinguishable from the world. Away with the lack of love.

Instead, let us be active. Let us follow the guidance of the Spirit and be lit on fire with passion for the salvation that only comes through Jesus. Let us love enthusiastically, and let us work together in our churches and in the community. Let us reach out to other communities of faith and, in unity, encourage one another and pray for one another as we singularly reach out into the world to spread the good news of hope in this life and in the life to come.

Today’s the day of renewal. Let’s not wait until persecution comes back.

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A Goal In Mind


This coming June I will have an opportunity of a lifetime: Rafting the Grand Canyon. 

Jody and I will join Trenton Keeling and 14 others on a 277 mile, three week excursion to survive some of the biggest whitewater in the country amidst some of the most remote terrain on earth.  It looks to be an awe-inspiring trip with many opportunities to rejoice in the majesty of God. 

I won’t be able to go on the entire three week trip. Instead, I plan to hike down to Phantom Ranch (nearly ten miles of downhill) and join the group for the last two weeks.  

Recognizing that this trip will be more taxing than my usual office time behind the desk or lunch meetings with various people, I began last January to try and train for this adventure. I have run and run and run and mountain biked and hiked and done push-ups, squats, dips and sit-ups. None of this has been pleasant. 

In fact, sometimes it’s downright uncomfortable. One morning I needed to run, but it had snowed the night before, so I was running in wet shoes as I trudged through the snow across the bridges. The first time I began rowing training, it was 49° outside with a 30 mile per hour wind. I have been saddle sore and had aching tendons. I have sweat and sweat and sweat. I have turned town French fries with my meal! 

Today I’m supposed to join Trenton and Jody and raft through Durango. The high up there is a balmy 44°. I’ve never rowed through Durango.  This might be a near-hypothermic day.  

Yet I continue to train because I know what the end result needs to be. I need to be stronger. I need more skill. I need to lose weight. I need to be mentally prepared.  And I need to do whatever it takes to achieve these goals recognizing that the suffering I may endure is eclipsed by the benefit of having trained. 

Did you know that the apostle, Paul, uses similar terminology to refer to our life in Christ? 

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Do you see the language? Training. Discipline. Running. Goals. 

What’s your goal as a Christian? If you became a Christian because you simply wanted forgiveness of sins, you’re missing out on the greatest blessings of Christianity. Christianity should be about life transformation. We should daily be striving to follow the ways of Jesus. We should be reading how to live in His word, the Bible. We then be praying (it’s like drinking energy drinks or protein shakes for the soul) to find strength. Then we should be training – actively striving to put into practice what we have read from Jesus and seen in Jesus. 

A person who “gets saved” but doesn’t strive for a transformed life is in danger of falling back into the world. It is possible to walk away from God once you’ve “been saved”, but most of the time it doesn’t happen overnight. Most times falling away from God looks like spiritual apathy as a person claims Christianity but continues in the autopilot of living like the world. This leads back to spiritual death. 

So what’s your goal as a Christian? Do you want to grow in your life in Christ so as to enjoy all the blessings you’ve been given through Jesus? It’s going to take work, training, discipline. But it’s worth it. 

Hebrews 12:11-14

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

God bless you as you train. 


My Finger Hurts

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A few weeks ago I was building a rabbit cage. We thought it’d be a great idea to raise rabbits, and we wanted to teach the kids responsibility by giving them the chores for the rabbit. So I embarked upon this construction project.

I was nearing completion when the drill I was using to screw in the screws slipped off the head of the screw and buried itself in my thumb just above the cuticle. I had to purposefully remove the bit from my thumb and clean off the skin it took with it. Needless to say, it hurt.

The other day I started feeling a strange sensation in my finger. It started small but quickly grew, and now I realize there is an infection in my finger. It sounds gross, but I’m more concerned with the fact that it hurts. It’s difficult to even type this article because of the pain and swelling and stiffness.

Without my finger I have a hard time brushing my teeth, washing myself, using chopsticks, writing with a pen or pencil. It is not the loss of the limb that causes the difficulty. It is the fact that everything that touches it causes me to flinch with pain.

Just sitting here I am constantly attentive to my finger. My whole body reacts to it. Sometimes I wish I could just cut it off, but that would be even more painful and much more permanent. So I’m just dealing with the pain and doctoring it and taking medication for the infection. My whole body wants my finger to get better.

First the thumb; now the finger; I hope I don’t hurt another appendage any time soon. I can’t afford to lose anything.

The apostle, Paul, said that the church is like a body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). Each person is a different member of that body. Each church is like a different larger section of that body.

What do we do when people are hurting? When a person who is super active and vocal is hurting everyone pays attention and prays and works to meet their needs during their trying time. The whole body seems to notice and help just like my body is doing for my finger and did for my thumb.

But what about the people who are quiet and on the fringes? Do you even notice when they are hurting? Many times they are. Are you aware? Do you consider them part of the church – the body?

When a person is hurting physically, emotionally or even spiritually they need people who know them and care about their needs. They need people to walk alongside them and carry their burdens. They need the church more than ever.

The next time you’re with your brothers and sisters in Christ look around the room. Is there anyone you don’t know? Go meet them. Is there anyone alone? Invite them to sit by you. Is there anyone new? Take them to lunch and get to know them.

There should be no fringes to the church. Jesus invited us all to be His children. He doesn’t show favoritism. It is easy for us to talk to the people we already know. It’s easy to go to the same wells to look for helpers with church activities. It is easy to create cliques within the church.

But it’s time to stop. It’s time to notice what’s going on and make a change. There are people in need all around us, and we need to pay attention so that they don’t let the infection of whatever they’re dealing with make them wither away and die.

The body of Christ – the church – can’t afford to lose any members – even a finger.


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.


It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

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It was a dark and stormy night, but the storms on this night weren’t in the atmosphere, they were in his spirit. Jesus was there, in the garden, wrestling in prayer for you and for me. The sin of all mankind had been laid upon him, and he was exhausted.

His friends were exhausted too, and they showed it by their inability to stay awake in watch as their rabbi prayed in distress. So many storms.

As he prayed his body trembled from the hematidrosis – an exhausting condition where the stress is so great that the capillaries in one’s skin burst and the blood mixes with sweat so that one literally “sweats blood”. Why was he so stressed? He had just taken on not just the sin, but the guilt of every sin ever committed past, present, and future. He felt guilty for everything that had ever been done and everything that would ever be done. It was crushing him, and he was sweating blood as he cried in anguish and trepidation.

“Let this cup pass from me” was his prayer. Why? Because the God of the universe was about to make Jesus drink the cup of punishment that had been filled with the sins of the masses. Jesus was about to die, and he knew it.

Even though there was such a storm brewing in his spirit that night, it was clear what the choice needed to be. “Not my will but Yours be done.”

Soon after there was the sound of heavy footsteps and the flash of the moon glinting off metal. Soldiers were coming. A whole squad of soldiers and religious leaders were coming armed with swords and clubs and spears. Here is Jesus, unarmed and with a rag-tag bunch of nobodies. Why did they feel the need to come at him so fully armed?

As Jesus and the disciples heard the oncoming ruckus, they stood up with Jesus at the forefront of the group. The leader of the army sent to arrest him? Judas – one of Jesus’ trusted twelve – the traitor.

Jesus calmly asked the group, “who is it you are looking for?”

“Jesus of Nazareth” was their reply.

What happens next can only be explained in context of a previous conversation Jesus had with the religious leaders of the day. They were trying to trap Jesus in blasphemy, and Jesus was accusing them of always getting rid of the prophets. Jesus was trying to get them to see that Abraham prophesied about Jesus, but they wouldn’t listen. Jesus, then, called them out.

He told them they weren’t children of Abraham. In fact, he went further to say that they were children of the devil. Then, he said something even more blasphemous: “Before Abraham was born, I Am.” Their reaction was swift and harsh as they picked up stones to kill Jesus because they remembered another conversation many, many years before.

Moses is watching his flock when he notices a bush on the mountain called Sinai. This bush is burning, but there is no charring – the bush never burns up. Moses approaches and God proceeds to talk to him from the bush. As God calls Moses to a major mission, Moses asks who he should say sent him. God replies, “I Am who I Am. Tell them I Am sent you.”

They had said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth.

“I Am.”

How he said it is not as important as the implication of what was just said. Jesus just used the same terminology as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus just said He is God.

As this statement sinks in quickly through the ranks of the soldiers they fall to the ground – stunned.

Jesus had rendered the mob defenseless with two words, “I Am.”

He knew he was going to die. He knew he needed to die so that all those billions of people who ever lived and ever would live could truly have life, but he was going down on his terms.

Peter got excited and took a swing with his sword but missed his mark. Instead, an ear was cut off, but Jesus healed that too. It was then that Jesus explained things to Peter. “This sword is not our way of doing things. If I wanted to fight they would have no defense against the legions of angels at my disposal.”

Previously, Jesus had said (John 10) that no one would take His life from Him. Jesus had the power to lay his life down, and he was going to raise it back up.

Judas, the traitor finally came up and kissed Jesus on the cheek to signify the betrayal. Judas had just earned his 30 pieces of silver. This betrayal was not necessary. Jesus had already given himself over to them.

Jesus was bound and tried and beaten, and beaten, and mocked, and beaten some more, and eventually crucified. As he was hanging on that cross sin after sin was being dealt with. The justice of God was being appeased through this one act. When every sin had been taken care of Jesus cried out, “It is finished.”

Isaiah 53:4-5
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

What happened next is the power of Jesus. No one dies quickly on a cross. It could take up to 48 hours for a person to die this way. Jesus gave up his spirit and died voluntarily.

He died for you and me – on purpose – of his own will.

Then, that glorious Sunday morning so long ago, he rose from the dead to prove that he really is God, your sins really are forgiven, and you really can have eternal life through him. The one who laid down a mob with two words raised from the dead. He is the glorious first fruits of those who raise from the dead – and that can include you and me.

This is the good news of Easter. May you celebrate this Sunday and every day that the God of the universe cares enough about you to give up everything to save you. May you see where your life is disconnected from God and come back. Jesus has already made the way for you.

If you would like to know more about having a relationship with Christ, please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at 245-1611. You can also catch me on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you this Easter and always.


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!!


Let Me Tell You All About It…

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If you’ve been around me in any way, shape, form or fashion the last few days, you know I completed the Tough Mudder. How do you know? Because I’ve probably told you all about my joys and fears and pain and excitement caused by enduring the 12 miles and 29 obstacles designed by British Special Forces guys.

I’m pretty excited about this accomplishment to put it mildly.

I’m not the only one. The entire team is flooding Facebook and the various places where we work and socialize with stories and pictures of our day in Edna last Saturday. It’s like we are compelled to tell the story. We overcame! We are excited! We’d love to tell you all about it!

Guess what. We have all overcome! We have all had the opportunity for God to wash away all our sins! Jesus has come and destroyed sin and death and fear and worry!

We talk about about who won the SuperBowl. We talk about what we did last weekend. We talk about the weather. We are compelled to talk. We talk with just about anybody, but how often does the message of the love of God shown through Christ come across our lips? Are we as excited about the message of redemption as we are about Dale Earnhardt’s number coming out of retirement?

Do we talk with our kids about the implications of a life filled with joy through salvation in Christ as much as we talk to them about the implications of sex before marriage?

Do we talk with our friends about freedom in Christ as much as we do about the weather or work or kids or…anything?

No wonder Christianity is not the fastest growing religion in the world. But what can we do about it?

First, it’s time for us to do some genuine soul searching about our relationship with Christ. Many people love Jesus but don’t tell anyone else about Him. Many people claim love for Jesus but don’t even bother to tell Him about it.

It’s as if I just got married, but I din’t wear a wedding ring. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t even live with my wife. But I still claimed my wife on my taxes.

We are supposed to be in a love relationship with Jesus. The church is called the “bride of Christ”. How many of us are married to Him but don’t want anyone to know it?

It may not be that you don’t want anyone to know it. Maybe you just don’t think about it. My question is why not? Maybe you don’t know what to say. When you’re excited about anything else you have no worry about what to say. You don’t even care if the other people want to hear what you have to say.

This is not something we are going to be able to force in ourselves. If we aren’t excited about Christ we won’t be able to “fake it till we make it”. We need to commit to true searching for Christ in our lives and in the scriptures. We need to be committed once again to prayer and fasting. For some of you it may mean beginning that relationship with Christ by accepting Him as your Savior and connecting with Him through baptism.

Let’s start this journey today. The destination is totally worth the search.

May you deeply seek Christ in your life this year. May prayer and fasting be a regular part of your life. And may the world see Christianity grow once again out of newfound love for the God who loved us first.

If you have any questions or comments about this or would like to know more about making Jesus your Savior, please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 979-245-1611.

God bless your search and newfound joy in Christ!


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