Tag Archives: people

Is Church Worth It?


Is church worth the time and effort?

No.

If you only attend once a week just to make sure you’ve done your Christianly duty, then it has no true benefit to you.  If you hear the sermon but never put what you heard into practice, then what’s the point of showing up? If, during communion, your mind is everywhere except on the sacrifice and grace of Christ and the family with which you are communing, then why participate?

So many people wonder why they don’t get anything out of their church experience.  They complain that the messages are boring.  They complain that the church members never visit when they’re in need, yet they aren’t around enough for people to get to know them and their needs.  They complain that there aren’t enough programs for their kids.  They jump from church to church never planting roots, and they wonder why church doesn’t bring any true benefit to their life.

Does this sound familiar?

Is the church worth the time and effort?

If you come to the assemblies to give (not just to get), then you find that you are blessed beyond measure, and your life will be changed.

If you spend more time than simply during the worship assembly once a week with your brothers and sisters in the church, then you will build relationships that allow for many great benefits in life – not the least of which is real family. So many people are questioning the necessity of Sunday and Wednesday evening gatherings.  I, too, have wondered about their relevance.  However, when people overlook those assemblies, they miss out on a much more intimate time of fellowship and discussion that brings relationship growth in the body of Christ.  Those who attend the peripheral gatherings (Sunday morning class, Sunday evening assembly, Wednesday evening classes and others) find much more fulfillment in their church membership. This is due to the relationships that are fostered in these gatherings and the discussion that happens which brings spiritual growth.

If you come to experience the presence of God through worship and a message from the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, you will find God, and He will bring healing to you.

If you come to commune with your savior and your family in Christ, you will find renewed salvation and unity with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you come to offer love to those you encounter, you will leave feeling loved by others and by your Father in Heaven.

If you come to fellowship, you will find relationships that help drive out loneliness and can even help heal depression. You will find connection to something bigger than yourself.

If you come to volunteer, you will find that there are ample opportunities to serve, and those programs you wished were there could be manned by your involvement.

If you come looking for ways to connect – not ways to simply exist – you will find that church is well worth the time and effort.

Are you finding fulfillment and spiritual growth through your involvement in a church gathering? If not, I would like to suggest you try two things in this order:

  1. Get involved.  The more involved you get, the more you will find yourself in the middle of the relationships in the church.  This will bring community and connection that will help foster purpose and fulfillment in your calling to be a disciple of Jesus. This will allow you to experience the love of the body of Christ.
  2. If you’ve gotten involved, or tried to get involved, but the church is obviously lacking in its ability to love, then talk to the leadership of the church about your experience.  Don’t be shy.  They need to know.  If they listen and change things, GREAT! If not, it may be time to find another gathering where you can attempt number 1 again.

Church shopping shouldn’t be a trend, yet it seems to be. Instead of jumping from place to place looking for the coolest worship or the hippest preachers or the most energetic children’s ministries, get involved where you are, and see if you can help the church where you’ve been planted grow into the church it should be.

One last thought: A church that isn’t loving is not a church that is of Jesus.  If the church doesn’t follow the greatest commands (love God and your neighbor), then finding a church that does love seems to be the only viable option.

I know a great church in Aztec, NM that loves one another and seeks to invite others into that love.  If that’s what you’re looking for, then come be a part of our family at Aztec church of Christ.  God bless you all.

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It’s not Weakness; It’s Strength

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Philippians 2:5-8
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

We live in an arrogant age. The race of men have deemed themselves worthy of all that is around them. They continually speak of all that is their right or what they are entitled to. When they are treated harshly, then they are consoled by others who explain that they don’t deserve such treatment.

I cannot simply refer to society as “they”; it is “we” and me as well.

Our children get everything they desire and aren’t taught how to do without. They don’t see what they are being given as being a privilege. They see it as a necessity or right. They deserve it.

I think of times when people drive down the road – if someone cuts them off or drives too slowly they get angry. In fact, people get angry for a lot of things these days. We don’t seem to know how to take it easy anymore – our society is a high stress society.

We are arrogant people who say we are right and everyone else is wrong. We condemn more than the lifestyles that others live, we condemn the people that live them. We get angry and make sure we have the “right” to say our piece or to get them back for what they said or did. This is all arrogance.

Arrogance and selfishness go hand in hand. Every sin ever committed had its roots in selfishness. I can’t think of a single sin that you can’t boil down to selfishness.

Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not pointing fingers at a lot that I’m not involved in. I’m just as guilty, though I’m learning to be more aware each day.

Through our arrogance we bicker and quarrel. We see humility as weakness, or at best we say we desire humility but keep acting in our arrogance. We have a hard time considering others as our equals or even as our superiors, though this is exactly what Jesus did. He put our needs before his own as he went to the cross for us.

Humility, I find, is not weakness. In fact, it takes a strong person to be humble, but those who are truly humble don’t find strength in themselves for we are all frail humans. True strength that sustains humility is found in the confidence that God is sovereign and cares for each of us.

It is because of Jesus that I can take the insult without retaliation. It is through his strength that I feel no need to put myself first. It is only through his wisdom that I can put my wants aside for the sake of others’ needs.

I have a long way to go as I seek the humility of Christ in me, but I desperately want it. Unfortunately, in order for anyone to learn humility God will put them in situations where they must practice it among people who aren’t.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. In fact, there has been a recent study of the most successful businesses in America that showed that the vast majority of those business’s leaders are successful because they are humble people who seek quality in their work without need for praise of others.

Even more so, however, the scripture reminds us over and over that God brings down the arrogant but exalts and gives grace to the humble.

May we become more like Christ as we seek true humility in our lives. May we do more than just say words that sound like humility – may we truly be humble. Then, may we be the catalysts for change in our communities as people see the nature of Christ in us, for if we continue in our arrogance we will only see decline and contempt for the church.

I hope this impacts you like it does me. I want this badly, and I’m going to be pursuing this. I don’t expect it will happen overnight, but I want the nature of Christ to be event in me – Philippians 2 calls me to that.

 


The Least Popular Article I’ve Written

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This will not be my most popular article.

Are you a Christian? If you say yes, then this article is for you. If not, you are welcome to read this because you may get a glimpse into what this life is all about, but you should know that the standard set before us in this article is not for you…not yet. Hopefully, however, you will find that the Savior, Jesus, is well worth whatever it takes to seek Him.

So, are you still with me? Good!

As humans, we have a tendency toward brokenness. If you look at the world around us you will see that we are a broken species living broken lives in a broken environment that we choose broken procedures to try to repair to a less broken status. Because we are a messed up people, then when we do things, by our nature, we mess them up.

This is true of our ability to follow Christ.

We are called to be Christians, but for many people this is merely a moniker, a title that gives us religious clout in whatever circles we desire to reveal that title to others. We are but fans of the One to whom we declared our allegiance when we became Christians.

There is a difference between being a fan of Jesus and being His follower. Unfortunately, since the beginning of Christianity, the majority of people who claim his forgiveness are not much more than fans.

Maybe you’re reading this, and you’re saying, “not me!” I hope so, but let’s look at the calling to which you were called.

First of all, Sunday morning worship services and Wednesday night classes are not the penultimate experiences of the Christian life. We are not called to worship on Sunday and Wednesday only. We are called to offer our bodies daily as living sacrifices to God. Worship is supposed to come from us all day every day. In many churches the people who do show up barely even sing anyway, and the attendance on Sunday morning is considerably different than the actual church membership roster. However, this is only a small sampling of evidence for fandom.

What have you sacrificed/given up for Christ? When we are called to Christ, we are called to die to ourselves. In fact, Jesus says we must take up our own cross. He wants us to come to Him and die with him. Can you imagine if the new church slogan was “Come and Die”? Would you want to worship with that group? You would if you understood what Jesus was calling you to.

He is not calling you to a life of luxury. If he were, would he have spent his life and ministry with no home and little food? Wouldn’t he have had a great financial base with which to do ministry?

He didn’t really focus on wealth and prosperity. In fact, he said as a promise that if you follow him you are guaranteed hardship as a result. Have you suffered hardship because of Christ? If you haven’t, then are you truly following him the way you are called to do so?

He doesn’t call us to live for him when it’s convenient. He doesn’t call us to live for him when we aren’t at work or school or doing something else important. He doesn’t call us to go on mission trips and to revival weekends. He calls us to live in mission wherever we are all day every day. We are called daily to revival as we seek His will for our lives.

In America, the American dream of prosperity and status has had an open door into the mindsets of our churches, and it won’t be until we rid ourselves of the needs and desires for things of this world that we can truly put our hand to the plow and not look back.

The world is watching. Recently I was told by a couple of different people that the reason they didn’t want to come to Christ is that they couldn’t see that it was doing anything special for His followers. That is sad, and it convicts me on so many levels.

You aren’t called to be a fan of Jesus. You are called to be a follower, and following means going where He would go and where He is calling. He went to the broken and hurting and dirty people of his day. He went to the poor and the lame. He went out into the world and didn’t associate with the religious cliques of his time. He is calling you to follow him there. He is calling you to get uncomfortable for Him. He is calling you out of YOUR life and into HIS.

Jesus knew this would be tough, and he knew you would have to make some hard choices. Some of you may even have to reject your family because you choose Jesus over them. You may have to change jobs or friends. You may have to tell your boss you can’t work at certain times because you are dedicated to something greater (and being with the saints on Sunday is something greater). I know of a farmer who dedicated to God that he wouldn’t work on Sunday even during the harvest, and he always got his crops in…in fact he had a bumper crop from that point forward.

When we follow Jesus the way he calls us to follow, then we can truly begin to live in the Eternal Life He is calling us to.

If you’re not willing to give yourself up in that way, then consider the choice. It’s time for all of us to stop pretending we are one way and living another. Jesus spoke a lot about that too, and he said it to the religious folk of His day.

So, I hope you’re still with me. We have all fallen short of this, but through the grace of Jesus He helps us get back up and continue to dedicate our lives to Him. When you fail, don’t wallow in self pity. Stand back up! Jesus has already forgiven you.

Please share this with your friends who are Christians. Please make changes in your life as you truly seek Christ with all your heart. Let hypocrisy die in us as His Spirit comes alive in us.


I Love to Fish

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I went fishing this morning.

I love to fish. I’ve fished in huge lakes and small streams. I’ve fished on the beach and out at sea. I’ve fished in bayous and bays and in between. I love to fish.

I’m not too worried about the fish. I’m not worried that they’ll like me. I just want them to like what I’m presenting to them. But if they reject it like they did this morning, it’s ok. I still love to fish.

I wake up early and stay up late to fish. I travel long distances and walk across the road to fish. I’ve fished in the heart of cities and up on mountain sides where there is just granite and water. I’ve fished in drainage canals and snowmelt streams. I’ve fished in water where you can’t see anything below the surface and water where you could see the bottom 30 feet down. I love to fish.

I went fishing this morning.

I love to fish. I’ve fished in homes and corporations. I’ve fished in malls and banks. I’ve fished in churches and bars. I love to fish.

I’m extremely worried about these fish. But I’m not worried that they’ll like me. I don’t fish to please them. I’m fishing to save them. My message won’t change. It’s just what they need. And when they reject me I realize it is not me they’re rejecting but the One whom the message is about. I still love to fish.

I wake up early and stay up late to fish. I’ve stumbled upon fish walking along my day and been woken up in the middle of the night to fish some more. I’ve fished across the street and in other countries. I’ve fished online and face to face. I’ve fished for fish that were injured and hurting and for fish who thought they had it all together. And what I’ve found is that no matter what type of fish or where they live they all are in desperate need of what I fish with. I love to fish.

Do you love to fish? Have you been caught by the One who brings life everlasting? If so, He is wondering when you’re going to start fishing.

You have been called to be saved from yourself by the only One who died for you. Then you have been called to tell others about your salvation and how it is offered to them too. Are you afraid to do that? It’s quite common to be afraid, but fear can be conquered.

If you want to know more about how to share your faith with others, then let me know. I’d love to help you. If you’re still a fish waiting on that salvation, I’d love even more to let you know about this offer of salvation to which I’m referring. I love to fish. Jesus called me to be a fisher of men. Let’s fish together.


Sibling Rivalries and Outside Impressions

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“I don’t love you anymore!”

Whenever I think of these words I hear my daughter’s voice, and it makes me sad. My kids often play very well together. They are 4 and 6 years old, and when my son frustrates my daughter she spouts things like “I don’t love you anymore” and “I don’t forgive you”.

We are working diligently with her on this. She’s saying these things out of an immediate hurt, but she doesn’t really feel that way about him. We can see that in her eyes, but at the moment she doesn’t love or forgive him. Even though these feelings are difficult to process, and she doesn’t mean it permanently, it still hurts my son, and it hurts me too. I don’t want to see them fighting.

“I don’t forgive you.”

We don’t say things like my daughter says now that we are “grown-ups” (at least most of us don’t), but do we often think those very things?

Is there someone you are harboring a grudge against? Are you keeping a record of their wrongs? Do you hold it against them? Do you shun them because of your feelings toward them? Often times we act like my preschool daughter.

“The disciple whom Jesus loved” is how John describes himself in the fourth book of the New Testament. He went on to write three other books ingeniously titled 1, 2, and 3 John. In 1 John he talks about who we are called to be in Christ. He is remembering the words of Jesus from the night he was handed over to trial.

In John 13:35 Jesus tells his disciples that they will be identified in the world around them by their love for one another. This is a selfless love as described in 1 Corinthians 13. It is a defining love – the central characteristic that should describe Christ-followers.

In 1 John 3, he describes how this looks in a bit more detail. He explains that people who don’t do right aren’t children of God, and we get that. I think our world readily accepts the idea that doing right helps your journey to be connected to the Father. But then he adds a caveat that is unexpected. He said that you can’t be a child of God if you don’t love your brother or sister.

Please understand this: he didn’t say you have to say “I love you” to your fellow mankind. He said you have to actually love them. It’s an action, not an emotion. It’s a choice, not a feeling.

He then goes on to explain that if you don’t love your brothers and sisters whom you have seen you cannot love God whom you have not seen. He didn’t say you won’t; he said you can’t. It’s impossible for you.

Loving others isn’t always easy, but it is what we are called to do. If you don’t understand what love looks like then Paul gives a great definition in 1 Corinthians 13:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Now, take your name and place it in wherever you read the word “love”. Can you be described in this way? Would the world look at you and know you are a Christian because of your love?

If you can’t be described in this manner, then today is a day to seek God in prayer and ask His spirit to develop this quality of love in you. The truth is that we can never spread the message of God’s love through Jesus if we aren’t willing to sacrificially love others ourselves.

What say you? Do you find that the vast majority of the Christians professing Christ are truly loving this way, or are they more judgmental and condemning than the Savior they profess to follow? This is a dialogue that truly needs to be shared.

Feel free to let me know what you think! You can email me at jddobbs@verizon.net or comment on this article at http://www.mrdobbs.org. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

May God show you the areas in your life where you haven’t allowed His love to take over. May you. Be shown love by Christians that you know. And may you fall in love with Jesus who loves you perfectly. God bless you.


Strange Math in the Bible

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Have you ever seen the movie “Cast Away”? In the movie, the main character, Chuck, is a FedEx worker that is traveling back to the United States to be with his girlfriend for Christmas (when he plans to propose to her). On his flight back home his plane crashes into the ocean and he is the lone survivor. He is able to inflate the life raft and survives a major squall to wash ashore on a lonely island a thousand miles off course from where he should have been.

As he learns his fate of being completely alone on this island he is overwhelmed with a myriad of emotions. One day he is working on a project necessary for his survival when he cuts his hand. A volleyball is one of the items that was being transported on the FedEx plane that washed ashore with him. He grabs the ball with his hurt hand and tosses it. When he sees it again, he notices that the blood from his hand has made a face shape on the ball.

He decides to keep the ball as his new friend, and he names it Wilson (it was a Wilson volleyball).

A couple of times during the movie Chuck gets rid of, or loses Wilson. Each time the realization of this loss throws Chuck into a panic. Why? Because it is not good for man to be alone.

Even in this movie that has no injection whatsoever to God or religion we see this basic human need for community. Where do we get such a need? Well, let’s look at our Creator.

In Genesis 1, God, whom we usually refer to in the singular, announces that he wants to “make man in our image”. God is referring to himself in the plural. People across the Christian spectrum refer to this plurality of God as the Trinity. God is three in one.

In relating to our current discussion it is important to understand that God is in perfect community with himself. He is in complete love with himself, and He doesn’t need you or me to complete or add to His community. The love God has among himself is such that He is inseparable from Himself.

This all sounds a bit schizophrenic, but I am referring to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus on multiple occasions commented that he could do nothing without the Father and that he and the Father are one. This relationship is perfect example of what every marriage should strive to become. In God, one plus one plus one equals one. In marriage, one plus one equals one.

So, God is in perfect community with himself. Then He invites you into His perfect community. When Jesus gave the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 he says that the disciples are to baptize people into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then they are to teach them to do what has been done and taught to them. This teaching still rings true today. We are connected with the Trinity in baptism; it is then that we come into community with God.

We also come into community as we fellowship with others who have joined into community with God. Ecclesiastes talks about the need for us not to work alone for we could be easily destroyed. We need each other in our walk with God. Satan is constantly out to get us. Sometimes he uses our own minds when we are alone to trip us up. Sometimes he uses people to attack us when we are alone. When we are living in that community of Christ we are strong and can live much fuller lives in Christ.

Does that mean we move into little communes where we escape from the world? No! What that does mean is that we engage the world together. We are called to be the church with the church.

When I was younger I thought I could maintain my community with God without having to participate in the community of believers called the church. So I quit going. It wasn’t long (days) before Satan came in and attacked, and I had no defenses or support group to help me stand strong.

We need the community of believers. Hebrews 10:25 encourages us to make the habit of meeting together (we call it “going to church”) a priority in our lives.

What’s more, we are given the opportunity each week to celebrate our community with the Trinity and with the believers in a time we call “Communion”. When we “eat his flesh and drink his blood” we sustain the life inside us that was given at baptism. We maintain our fellowship with the Trinity, and we celebrate all this in community with other believers. This is a very important, very significant celebration each week. Jesus said that if you don’t participate in this you you have no relationship with him.

We are called to do it often. If there’s ever a Sunday you are looking to celebrate communion, then you can always come to the Nichols St. church of Christ. We offer this every Sunday in celebration of the life that was given to us through the death of Christ. You are always welcome there.

To sum it up, God is in community with himself, and he doesn’t need you, but he wants you desperately. He wants you so badly that he came to the earth in the form of Jesus to make a way for you and me to join his community in spite of the many times we have gone against his will for our lives. He then calls us to stand strong and not fall away as we fellowship with the other believers. Let me tell you, life as a Christian is much easier when there are other people walking alongside you going the same place you’re going.

How does this relate to you? Have you joined in the community of the Trinity through baptism? No one can force you to join. It has to be your choice. God loves you, but he won’t force you to love him back and become one with him. Have you ever thought you can be a Christian without the church? It’s time to come home. Churches are made up of sinful humans saved only by the grace of God. Naturally they aren’t going to be perfect places. If you’re looking for a church where the people don’t make mistakes, you won’t find it. You can, however, find churches all over teaching the truth of God’s word, celebrating in His communion, and striving to live righteous lives as we celebrate the grace that covers over our many shortcomings.

May you come into that community with God and with his church. You are invited into this fellowship. If you’d like to know more about any of the things discussed here, feel free to email me at jddobbs@verizon.net or call the office at 245-1611. God bless you as you come into community with the love of God and the church that is His body.


Kingdom Living at Tax and Election Time

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Well, tax day has come and gone once again. Many of you got returns back for the taxes you have been paying all year. Others of you are now trying to figure out how you’re going to pay your taxes. In either case there are a couple of thoughts I’d like to share regarding how we think about our government and taxes and the like.

Praying for the Tax Man

People have always been disgruntled with the idea of having to pay taxes. Even back in the days of Jesus the tax man was considered an unrighteous sinner who was a traitor to the people. It was a pretty bold move when Jesus picked Matthew, a tax collector, as one of his disciples. The story of Zacchaeus flies in the face of popular culture as Jesus chooses to spend time with a tax collector who apparently had been swindling his people.

So paying taxes and dealing with the tax man were topics that were constantly on the mind of the people in the days of Jesus much as they are on our minds today.

One day, Jesus was asked whether or not the people should pay their taxes. Jesus was teaching about a new kingdom not of this world, and the people were looking for a loophole (or a way to trap Jesus in his words). They asked him if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus told them that whatever belongs to Caesar needs to be given to Caesar, but what belongs to God needs to be given to God. Unfortunately for them, Jesus was saying that they did indeed need to pay their taxes (and we do too).

Even though Jesus knew of another kingdom that he was establishing by his presence on the earth, he still had a different perspective about the earthly kingdoms than the people had.

Here in America, we elect the officials that govern us. From the mayor and city council all the way to the president, the people who are in office are chosen by the voters. Hence we feel a certain a right about how good or bad they are doing. We have strong opinions about our elected officials.

When we are disgruntled with them it is not uncommon for us to make that a prominent topic of conversation amongst us. Here at tax time and election time there is much discussion over how right or wrong (mostly wrong) we think the government is handling our monies and our lives.

Jesus never dishonored the governing authorities of the day. Even when he was being mistreated directly by them with his trial he spoke no words against them.

Romans 13 reminds us that the elected officials and even those who are hired aren’t put there by us in fact, but by God himself for our good. Sometimes it is hard to believe that fact, but we must then do as it says in 1 Timothy 2 – we must pray for them.

Are you praying for those who are in authority over you? Are you praying for those who may be elected this year? As we fill our minds with prayers for others we often find our own perspective changes.

This World is Not My Home

Jesus wasn’t killed because he was a good man who healed the sick and raised the dead. He was killed because of the religious and political implications of his message. He bucked the typical religious ideals of the day and also created an ideal of a new kingdom that his followers were to be citizens of.

This royally aggravated those who were addicted to their power and manipulation.

We are called to that same kingdom today. We are called to live in this world but not of this world. we need to pay our taxes and respect our authorities, but if our focus is only there then we miss out on the beauty and fruitfulness of being citizens of the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is the reign of God in our lives. Some people are still waiting for that kingdom to come at the end of days, but Jesus clearly said that the kingdom was going to begin in his generation and that it would be a kingdom of people, not a kingdom of places. There would be no castle and throne or land to measure out its borders. This kingdom would consist of God being on the throne in our lives. And we, as citizens, would then live accordingly.

As kingdom citizens we are called to act completely different from the world around us. Just this last week I overheard a person using some pretty colorful profanity in a conversation he was having. Then, when I got a chance to meet him he made sure to let me know he was a member of a particular Christian denomination. This is not how the kingdom operates.

Sure, we can have opinions of how things are going. We are called to be involved and help make this world a better place, but we are to have a different way of doing things. We are to detest evil wherever it rears it ugly head – even if it may be in our lives.

The kingdom of God is a way of life in which God reigns in our hearts and the law of the land is love – love God and love others. If we truly live this kingdom life we can change the world beginning with our own lives.

It’s tax season and election season, and in response to all that is going on around us we have an obligation to pay our taxes, respect those in authority over us, and pray for them. We also have an obligation as citizens of a kingdom not of this world to live differently as we love and interact with others in this world around us.

May you be different. May the change begin in your life. May the world be different because of you.

If you’d like to know more about this kingdom of God and how to become a citizen, please feel free to call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you and God bless America.


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