Tag Archives: parents

Wearing a T-shirt to a Black Tie Affair



Respect is an idea that is becoming more uncommon in our world. As parents behave like teenagers and raise their children to be even less mature it is a struggle to teach kids basic manners of respecting their elders or even respecting the atmosphere to which they have been invited. 

What would happen if you were invited to have dinner with the governor? Imagine you showed up to this formal event wearing your most comfortable shorts and t-shirt. Would that not give an air of disrespect to the sanctity of the event? Then, when greeted by the governor you refused to shake his or her hand or even acknowledge his or her presence. How long would you expect to be allowed to remain at that dinner?

This concept is not hard.  It is not a foreign concept that has to be militaristicly taught to the upcoming generations. It merely needs to be modeled and then expected. 

Within our churches many have created a much more relaxed atmosphere. God looks at the heart and not the outward appearance.  I believe this is good and creates the inviting atmosphere needed for people to feel comfortable coming and learning about and experiencing Jesus. 

One of the concepts that we trend toward losing in our desire to be colloquial is that of reverence and honor before the Lord. 

When we sing, we are singing to Jehovah, the Creator, in His presence. When we study, we are studying the very words of God. When we see our brothers and sisters, we are encountering those who have been clothed with Christ and in whom lives the Spirit. When we partake of communion, we are partaking of the body and blood that was shed for our sins by the One who Created us. 

Malachi 1:6 says this:

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. (NIV)

When we come together we should be showing our children what reverence looks like. If they do not understand it, then we should be instructing them in the ways of honoring the Lord. 

God accepts us where we are, but He doesn’t leave us there. He wants us to grow in our understanding. He wants us to grow into the image of His Son. “Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10 ESV).”

Next time you’re in worship with your brothers and sisters pour out your heart. Worship the Lord with all of your might. Remember what He  has done and is doing for you every day, and show your children what it means to honor the Lord. God isn’t looking for your suit and tie, but He is looking for your heart of reverence toward Him, and He’s looking to us to instill that mindset and heart of reverence in our children as well. 


Better Never Than Late

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I’d like to take some time and tell you a little about my parents. They have been married for 37 years and are still going strong. I’m very proud of them for that, but it’s really not something special for them. You see, they have a bit of a different perspective on life.

They aren’t quitters. Actually, I think it’s deeper than that they aren’t quitters. They do everything to the best of their ability. It’s a part of who they are. If you know my parents you know how dependable they are. I used to get frustrated because my mom would volunteer to do all sorts of things, but now that I am older I realize that she did it because she loves other people and wants to glorify God with her life.

If you ask my dad to do a job I can personally guarantee you that the job will be done to perfection if absolutely possible. The same goes with my mom. She doesn’t just do things to get by, she goes all out so that whatever she does is excellent. If either of them say they’ll do something or be somewhere, then unless there is an emergency they can’t avoid, you can count with assurance that they will follow through.

They won’t even be late. My mom used to say “better never than late”. If I ever came in late without calling I was in deep trouble.

They don’t do this for the accolades. Sure, people thank them, but that is not their purpose. They do this because that is who they are. It glorifies God for them to live like this. I’m proud of my parents, and I’m proud to be their son.

There is a famine of this kind of character in our world today. It is not uncommon today for people to sign up for a task and then fail to follow through. It is common for people to say they’ll be somewhere and never show up. They’ll even go so far as to avoid texts and calls to keep from having to lie about why they didn’t show. I’ve baptized so many people who never came back to church or even showed Christianity by their lives yet claim constantly that they are Christians. People all over the place claim one thing and live another. It is hypocrisy and deception.

The strange thing is some of these very people will turn around and say that they don’t like church because of all the hypocrites there.

It’s time to stop. When you became a Christian, you confessed that you wanted to make Jesus The Lord of your life. If you didn’t make that confession, then you aren’t a Christian. That’s what being a Christian is – being a Christ-follower – one who allows Jesus to make the character calls in your life. He is Lord. Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.(Matthew 7:21)”

Jesus wasn’t flaky. He didn’t lie to people and let them down. He didn’t avoid people to keep from having to make excuses for them. He wasn’t wishy-washy in His dedication to make sure you were saved from your sins.

I know this sounds pretty harsh. I guess the lie that did it for me was the countless Christians who said “I’ll see you at church” but continually never showed.

They aren’t letting me down. They weren’t holding me up. But it does hurt my heart for people to so blatantly lie about their Christianity. People constantly say they believe in Jesus. “Jesus is Lord.” But their lives show otherwise.

Your actions show your allegiance. If you are living a lie, then it is time to stop. Stop living a lie and start living for Jesus the way you claim. He forgives. He’s waiting to take you in, but as long as you allow the lies to flow freely – as long as you don’t allow Him to control your life then someone else is in control. Jesus said it like this, “You belong to your father, the devil, … When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)”

I know that’s hard to hear, but I’m hoping that if you see the severity of what you may think is “no big deal” you’ll begin to think differently. If this has been you, then there is forgiveness and grace in Jesus. Come back to him. Confess your sins. Repent and turn back to God. Then live with dedication remembering that everything you do should glorify God. Christians should outshine everyone in dependability and work ethic and trustworthiness because of their desire to glorify the Almighty with all they are.

Jesus still loves you. The church still needs you. It’s not too late to change.


Not Good Enough – A Dilemma

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I’ve grown up going to church. My grandfather and great-grandfather were song leaders in the church of Christ, and my parents had us at the building pretty much every time the doors were open. Church has always been a part of my life.

I had great teachers in bible class as a kid. They taught us wonderful bible stories and the message of Jesus. We even went and competed at bible bowls. But my greatest teachers were my parents and grandparents. They were the ones who not only told me about the messages of the bible but showed them to me in their lives.

Needless to say I grew up knowing about sin and death and love and joy and Jesus and salvation. There was this problem, though. Once I got to Jr. High I knew I wasn’t good enough to deserve that salvation.

No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t be good enough. I knew all the answers to the bible questions. I was in church every week, but I didn’t feel like I could come to Christ because my sin was still in the way. In fact, I remember going to a church down in South Texas while we were visiting some friends, and I had all the answers in bible class. One of the other students asked me why I hadn’t been baptized since I “knew all the right answers”.

I knew I didn’t know everything – and still don’t – but I knew I needed Jesus.

This was a huge struggle for me. I wanted to be free from my sin, but I didn’t feel like I could stay good enough once I was baptized. I felt like the baptism wouldn’t stick. I’d still be a sinner.

One Sunday morning during my sophomore year I was listening to the sermon, and it dawned on me: I couldn’t be good enough. I needed Jesus to make me good. It was when I realized this that I gave my life to Christ and was baptized.

I’m still a sinner. But now I understand that my baptism was the beginning of a process that would take my whole life – a process to make me look more like Jesus. In the meantime, His blood cleanses me from the sins I continue to commit. I’m a weak sinner, but He’s a tireless Savior.

Paul reminds the Romans of who they were when they came to Christ when he says “while we were STILL SINNERS Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 emphasis added). Jesus didn’t wait for us to be perfect before He came to save us. If we could achieve that on our own we wouldn’t need a savior.

If you’re waiting until you’re a better person before you dedicate your life to Christ in baptism, then you’re going to always be waiting. You’ll never be good enough, but thank God that once you come to Him He makes you good. He declares you worthy.

He’s waiting for you to answer the call, and He’s been calling for a while.


Family Matters

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I grew up in a wonderful family. My parents are still married. I talk to my sister and brother regularly. My family did many things and took many trips together. We ate together regularly, and my parents attended almost all of my milestone events growing up. In fact, the only ones they didn’t attend we’re the ones I asked them not to attend.

I love my family. But I miss them.

In over ten years of ministry I have not lived closer than six hours from my parents. Right now we live about three hours from my wife’s family, and that’s the closest we’ve lived to any immediate family since we’ve been married.

Not being close to family is hard. It puts a strain on a person when their support group is so far away. As we began having children we didn’t have family close that was willing to help watch them. We didn’t have the ability to go chat with the parents over dinner the way many people do. We have been alone – separated from our family.

But it hasn’t been all bad.

The most wonderful thing about Christianity is the grace that God gives us each day through the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The most wonderful things about the church – the body of Christ – is that we are family.

Jody and I have worked for several churches, and in those churches we have struggled to find a few people that we would consider family. In fact, in some places, we found people who weren’t a part of “our church” who were like family to us. It is with great joy that I can say that here in Aztec we have a family at the Aztec church of Christ.

It is a joyous find to behold a church where a person is welcomed at whatever walk of life they are in. It is comforting to know that love is given regardless of whether or not someone completely agrees with you. It is awesome to be part of a family that isn’t blood related but treats you as though you were. That is what we have found in Aztec. Not just with one or two people, but with a whole congregation.

Jesus said to his disciples, “By this they will know you are my disciples; if you love one another.” This is what we are called to as Christians. This is what being a part of a church should feel like.

A we celebrate this, though, it is important to not get comfortable there. We must continually be working to grow the family. If you and I love this family so much, then why would we not want others to experience what we’ve got?! The church was not established to cater to the Christians. It was established to provide a support group, a family, for those who were reaching out to tell others about the saving grace of Jesus. The church should always be about growing the family.

So, I thank you, Aztec church of Christ, for the love and acceptance you have shown my family and others as they have come. May you and the rest of the body of Christ around the world be about sharing that love beyond our assemblies and building. May we be people who share that kind of family spirit with those who have no home, who have no family to call their own.

God bless each of you, and may He fill your heart with a family that has no borders. May you be part of a family whose home is in Heaven. May you become a child of the Father who loves beyond your comprehension. If you’d like to be a part of a family like that, then I invite you to Aztec church of Christ. You can find us on the web at www.aztecchurch.org, and we are even on Facebook! If you have any questions for me, please call at 334-6626 or email me at mrjdobbs@gmail.com.


Parents, Please Read Part Two

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It’s that time of year again, time for the yearly – as I heard one mom recently call it – “bikini battle”.

Last week, when we were on our camping trip, I took our group to Pedernales Falls State Park. We explored around the falls in the morning, then went over to the swimming area after lunch. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining, and the temperature was over 80°. For early march this was above normal for the hill country of Texas, but we were enjoying it.

On the way to park at the trailhead that leads down to the swimming area we had our own “bikini battle”.

I had already declared that anyone who had a bikini would have to wear a t-shirt over it while they swim for modesty’s sake. Then I was asked about tankinis. If you’re not familiar with that – it’s a more modest bikini. Then I was asked if the guys could go without shirts. Finally the decision was made – if one group has to wear a t-shirt, then the rest of the group can wear them to make it fair to everyone.

I got a mild groan out of that decision.

It wasn’t long before we were strolling down the trail to the water where everyone had a great time. We waded the rapids. We splashed and dunked each other. We even swam, and everyone had a grand time. I didn’t hear one complaint from anyone about having to wear a t-shirt. They were having too much fun to care.

Every year I question whether or not this battle is worth fighting. Sure, I can control their modesty when they are with me, but they are going to go to the beach with their friends, and who knows what they’ll be wearing then?!

Parents, this article is primarily for you. You still have these kids living in your home. You. Have been given the right by God Himself and the responsibility to guide your children in all areas of their life as they continue to develop the ability to make good choices.

Our culture has pushed sex and the sexualization of the human body to limits beyond what is healthy. When our teens are looking for swimsuits to wear at the beach and other places their mind goes to “what will make me look hottest”?

Parents, if you have a teenage boy, the statistics show that he has probably seen pornography, and now more than ever, the chances show he may even be addicted. If he has access to mobile Internet on an iPhone, iPad, or android phone then the chances of him accessing pornography on a regular basis go up.

There have been a couple of times over the last year or so when I went up to a teenager and simply said “when are you going to quit looking at the porn?” I didn’t know whether or not they were, but I knew that the chances said they were. In each case the teen didn’t deny it. In fact, their demeanor changed as if it was a weight that had been lifted that an adult finally knew.

I talk about guys and pornography (female viewing or porn is on the rise as well) because it changes the way they view our daughters. If your daughter is wearing something that shows more skin than it covers up, then what do you think is going on in the mind of these boys? Most bikinis cover less than the normal underwear that a girl would wear. They won’t go out in public in their underwear, but they’ll go out in a bikini.

When our girls are scantily clad they are sending a message about who they are. It sends the message that sexuality is prevalent in their thinking. It sends the message that they are interested in guys drooling over their bodies. To many guys it sends the message that they are an easy score. I’m not even going to talk about the fact that the teen guys aren’t the only ones that see them. What about the sexual predator that is on the same each or at the same lake. That reason sees your daughter as well.

My daughter knows our rules about modesty in swimwear, and she doesn’t fight it. She knows we are doing it so that her inner beauty is shown more brightly. We don’t even let her wear pants with words on the buttocks because we don’t want attention to be drawn to that area. She doesn’t wear tight fitting clothing.

One teen girl magazine tried to help its readers see this recently with an article that declared that boys think that. “modest is hottest”. I appreciate the effort of this magazine, but I don’t even want my daughter to be regarded as “hot” because it’s a sexual term. Sure, I’m a protective father, but I love my daughter and want her future husband to know that she was kept pure. I want him to know her for her inner beauty and not be focused on her outer beauty.

When the inner beauty is the focus, then the relationship lasts much longer.

This isn’t just a suggestion from me, a dad and youth minister. It is a directive from the apostle Paul to his young preacher, Timothy. I Timothy 2:9 says, “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety…” Paul doesn’t want homes to dress like prostitutes. If you look at the trends, many women today go to church on Sunday wearing less than prostitutes did in the days of Jesus.

Let’s start a trend of modesty.

Mothers and fathers, may you set the standards for your children in the area of modesty. May they be raised to have a healthy self-image that sees that they really are beautiful, and they don’t need to dress a certain way to show that. May you help them overcome pornography and it’s influences – even the pornography that is on television and in movies. And may the generations coming up change the direction of the sexualization of America.

If you have any comments or questions about this or any other issue, please feel free to call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. You can comment on this article directly at http://www.mrdobbs.org where I keep all my articles. God bless you, and have a great week!


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.


Who’s The Real Youth Minister Here?

Today, I’d like to tell you a little bit about me.

I grew up attending non-instrumental churches of Christ.  My Great Grandfather was a song leader.  My Grandfather was a song leader.  My mother would have been a song leader, but she grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, and she was the wrong gender for that at the time.

I have been involved with the churches of Christ since before i was born.

Growing up, my parents were very involved in the local congregation, and when I’d visit my grandpa, he’d have me up on stage leading singing with him.  When I got into 3rd grade we moved to West Monroe, Louisiana where I lived until I graduated High School.  We attended the same church from that point on, and my parents were very involved.  There was hardly an event that we weren’t a part of.  I used to joke about being in the building every time the doors were open.

When I got into the youth group, they kept being involved.  They helped plan and volunteer for various activities.  They did more than encourage me to be involved.  I loved being a part of my youth group growing up.  But, you know why I was excited about youth group?  It wasn’t because I had a great youth minister (which I did). It was because from birth it was instilled into me that church was a central part of our life  My primary youth ministers were my parents.

Looking back on that now, I see how valuable they were in forming me into the man of God I am today.  I cannot thank them enough for investing into God and His church so that I would one day follow in their footsteps.

Now, I’m a youth minister.  My sister sings on the worship team for the church we grew up in, and my brother is actively involved in several outreach ministries.  I’d say they were a success.

“How does that relate to me?” You may ask.

If you are a parent, you are the single largest influence in your child’s life.  You have the power to inspire greatness or defeat into that young person.  You have the power to mold and shape them into followers of God or selfish, entitled agnostics.  You influence them.  What you are involved in and excited about rubs off on them directly and effectively.  What you are apathetic about also influences them.

You are the youth ministers.  This is for parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles.  This is for brothers and sisters and cousins.  This is for kids.  You have the power to influence your family around you.

If you are a part of a church that has a youth minister, you have a great resource there.  But his job is only to supplement what you are doing at home.  If the kids in churches are only getting Jesus on Sunday morning and Wednesday night, then they are anorexic Christians at best. The scriptures say “Train up a child in the way he should go…” The scriptures do not say “Let someone else train up your child…”

Youth ministers are a great tool, and they are useful to help facilitate and teach the youths of today.  The trends of the churches to this point have been to create Youth Minister Centered Youth Ministries.  It’s time to change the trend back to Family-Centered Youth Ministries.

May you be the Spiritual leaders in your home.  May you lead your children by example.  And may these children grow to be pillars of the Church for generations to come.

If there’s anything I can do for you or pray with you about, please feel free to contact me at my office at 245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net.  God bless you all as you regain your role as the real Youth Ministers.


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