Tag Archives: pray

Real Men Don’t Go to Church…or Do They?

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Real men don’t do church.

This sentiment seems to resonate throughout the hearts of men throughout time. History shows that women have always been the main attendees when it comes to the Christian faith. Why is that? Why do men not want to come?

First, you have to realize that men do come. If you’re reading this, and you are a faithful man of God, then way to go! You will know firsthand some of the things I’m talking about.

So, regarding the men that don’t come…why not? All I can do is tell you things that have gone through my mind or I’ve heard from others. Maybe this clicks with you too. If you know a man on the fence about coming to Jesus, please share this with him.

Church is Boring
Ok. Maybe it is. Or maybe you think it is. I’ve been a part of churches that were boring, but mostly it was because I wasn’t involved or even engaged in the service. Get involved. Participate in the work of the church – not just on Sunday mornings. Watch how your perception changes as you take part in what is going on there.

I’d rather be fishing
Me too. I worship God when I’m fishing, but I also need time when I’m encouraged by my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are my family. They encourage me to stay connected to God. They pray for me and rejoice with me. This family bond is very real. I can’t neglect them for fishing any more than a dad can neglect his wife and kids for the same reason.

Churches are full of hypocrites.
Yep. They sure are. Well, kind of. Hear me out.
If I claim to be perfect and yet live a sinful life then I am a hypocrite. If I go to church and claim to be a Christian yet never tell anyone about my supposed faith then I’m a hypocrite. Yes, there are people like that in the church. Guess what. They’re human. I understand that. They’re forgiven just like I am and you can be.
There are also people like me. I’m a sinner. Don’t expect me to be perfect. I try daily, but my effort to do good pales in comparison to the grace and forgiveness I need to be righteous before God. So, does that make me a hypocrite? If I claim to be a person who is going to mess up even though I’m trying not to, then I’ve taken away your ability to call me a hypocrite. I’m not shy about my need for Jesus to make me whole.

Church is for sissy men
Churches are full of men who sing sappy love songs to a god they’ve never seen. They pray in ways that show their vulnerability. They don’t seem like the strong, manly type of men you want to be like – some even wear pastel colors!
This is probably the most important thing in this article
Church is NOT for sissies. It doesn’t take any effort to lose control and fly off the handle. It takes no self control to give in to any of the myriads of sins that will cripple your life. In fact, by its definition, it takes no effort to be selfish at all.
It takes a TON of strength to have self control. It takes courage to reveal your heart in prayer. It takes gratitude to praise God in song. It takes strength and a willing heart to stand before others and bear witness to what God is doing or has done through you. A fearful man cannot walk in the way of Jesus for he has called us to be willing to die for him. It is not a weak man who loves his wife and children and even his church family. It is no weak man who leads his family in following Christ. It is not weakness to do right.
These things are super hard, and all of us will fail at these some of the time. If you’re looking for the easy way through life, then don’t come to Jesus. Don’t give your life to Jesus. He will wreck you. Then He will show you just how great He has made you to be.

Church is not for weaklings. It is not for sissies. It is for the strong. It is for the dedicated. It is for the selfless people willing to lay down their lives for others. Which of these things are not manly?

Why do men not come to Jesus? I think it’s because they don’t realize the awesome adventure that a life following Him truly is.

Why do you think men don’t come to Jesus? How is being a follower of Jesus very manly? Let me know what you think!

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Flowery Words and Censored Hearts

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If I were to write a letter to the president there is a certain amount of pomp and elegance I would provide to the letter out of respect for the office and the intelligence that is supposed to be represented there. I would also speak to someone like the president or the governor with a certain elegance and dignity. I don’t want them thinking I’m some ignorant fool, nor do I want to offend them with my relaxed style of speaking.

When we write for school there is a certain amount of style that we are required to include in our poetry and prose so that people can follow along with what we’ve written. Even now, as I write this, there are rules I follow in order to make my writing readable.

However, I don’t expect my children to talk to me like that. I want respect from them. I like them to use the “magic words” of “please” and “thank you”. I want them to acknowledge my questions or directions with “yes sir” or “no sir”. But when they want to talk to me – just talk – I want to hear their heart. I don’t care if they speak with eloquence. I don’t want formalities. I just want to know what is on their mind. I want to hear them with love accepting them no matter how they speak about what is on their heart. I even want to hear when they are angry with me. I want to know why. And I love when they call me “daddy”.

Often I hear people talk about prayer and they say “I just don’t know how to pray. What if I don’t use the right words?”

There are no right words.
You don’t have to start with “Dear God” as if you were writing a letter to Him. He has never left you, and He knows when you are speaking to Him. You don’t have to close it out with “in Jesus name I pray, amen”. Praying “in Jesus name” is an attitude of the heart and not a colloquial phrase required for proper prayer.

You don’t have to use formal addresses like “Thee” and “Thou”. You don’t have to pray all the Christian catch-phrases you hear each Sunday. The only right words are the ones that come from your heart.

There is no required posture.
Often when we pray someone will invite people to bow their heads. This is done in reverence to the Almighty, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it is not the only posture of prayer. Sometimes I pray while looking around at the creation I’m standing in. I feel connected to God when I’m in awe of his mountains and trees and streams and wildlife. Sometimes I kneel when I pray. I’ve even prayed laying face down on the floor in desperation. Sometimes I look around the room and pray for those I see around me.

The only requirement is your heart.
There is a story in the bible that Jesus tells of a Pharisee (read: super religious guy) and a tax collector (read: scum of the earth – seriously, they thought of them like that back in Jesus’ day too). The Pharisee stood in the synagogue and prayed loudly thanking God for his self-perceived righteousness. He boasted in prayer as he used the fitting words to do his duty of prayer. Then the tax collector began to speak and didn’t look up to heaven or speak loudly. He beat his breast and simply said “have mercy on me, a sinner”. Jesus said that the tax collector went away justified that day for he poured out his heart to the Almighty, and the Almighty heard.

That’s what God wants from you. He wants to hear what’s on your heart. There are no right or wrong words. Just talk to Him. It might feel awkward at first, but keep at it. When you realize that God’s presence is always with you, then you will find prayer to be a refreshing connection with your Creator who loves you more than all of creation. You are his child. Talk to him like he is your daddy.


A Call to Renewal

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Well, it’s official. Phil Robertson has been reinstated to the show “Duck Dynasty”. Vast populations of Americans have been up in arms about the decision to remove him from this show. Phil has been quoted out of context by innumerable sources in order to fuel this flame. People have been vocal in their support for the Robertson family and their ability to live out their life on television.

I find it interesting that so many people were so vocal about such a small thing. Honestly, the Robertsons don’t need people to defend them. They don’t need the show. Phil could care less about camera crews and show seasons. The only season he cares about is duck season. But they have used this show to create a buzz worldwide about the Christian faith.

We live in a world where the old saying is true: the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I was actually told that fact by a city leader the other day in response to some complaints they were getting and their interest in appeasing those complainers. We see this coming true concerning Duck Dynasty.

This is evident also in the moral direction of our country. We are becoming more and more complacent in our belief that sin is real and that there is punishment for such sin. Christians are acting like homosexuality is the only sin and non-Christians are acting like intolerance is the only sin, and the whole country is forgetting that sins have been paid for and love is the way of Christ and Christians.

Why are we forgetting what sin is? Because those of us who know the definition are becoming increasingly silent. We don’t want to create conflict, so we sit by and allow others who do not know Jesus to define the moral code of our society. Vast numbers of Christians don’t vote at all – much less based on biblical morals. Christians all over are silent when it comes to defense of the faith they profess. Our understanding of the reality of the spiritual realm and the battle therein is waning due to our apathy. Satan is winning the war for our nation of souls, and he is not doing it with demon possession or any other direct attack. Satan is winning by sitting by and allowing us to forget the battle that rages on around us.

We are Christians. We are called to love intentionally and unconditionally. We are called to know the will of God and live it. We are called to be unashamedly vocal for our faith.

We are not called to be hateful but loving. We are not called to be harsh but gentle. We are not called to be demanding but servants. We are called to change the world like Jesus did in his day.

May we be a nation who repents. May we remember the calling of The Lord to Solomon:

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14

It is past time for the Christians in this world to remember that the God who lives in them gives them the ability to stand up in the face of certain persecution. He has promised to reward those who give all for Him. He makes no such promise for those who remain apathetic in their Christianity.

This is not a call to choose some political side. This is a call to choose the kingdom of God and live there without shame or regret. It is a call to engage in the spiritual battle once again declaring your freedom from the control of the evil one through the blood of Jesus and His Spirit who lives in you. It is a call to live such godly lives in public and private that though they accuse you of all sorts of things they may see your good deeds and glorify the Almighty because of you (1 Peter 2:12). It is a call to live as true Christians (Christ-followers) and not merely use the title for social status.


Hats Off Please!

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I recently shaved my head…again. I’ve been bald several times over the last few years, and I like it. It is wonderful to not have to worry about bed head or the wind messing up my hair. I like to wear hats, so no hat hair, but I do have to watch the rings on my head after wearing hats.

It’s easy to maintain. There are no barber fees just the cost of shaving cream and razors. It’s almost therapeutic to shave each day. But I DO have to worry about sunburn.

I don’t like to wear sunscreen. There’s something about that lotion that makes my skin feeling oily, and I’ve never liked the feeling. The ones that don’t leave my skin oily leave it feeling silky smooth. I don’t like that either – I’ve always associated skin like that with women. Plus, I tan normally and don’t burn, so it’s ok, right? I know I should wear sunscreen, and now that I’m bald I am very careful about how I take care of my exposed scalp. When I’m not wearing sunscreen I make sure I’m wearing a hat.

There is one time, though that wearing a hat is a bit confusing. It is when I pray. Do I take it off or not? Why do people take their hats off during prayer? Where does this idea come from?

I’m pretty sure it comes from 1 Corinthians 11:4

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.

On the outset it looks like this is exactly speaking of wearing hats during prayer or not. However, verse three gives a bit of context that is necessary for understanding verse four.

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

Here in verse 3 the writer, Paul, defines who/what the head is. The head of man is Christ. Then he talks about covering the head. If verse three was written elsewhere then verse 4 could be easily explained as speaking of physical head coverings. But Paul gave a definition then used the terminology he just defined in the next verses. Verse 4 could read that “every man who prays or prophesies with Christ covered dishonors Christ.”

So, are we to pray without our hats or not? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us we should “pray without ceasing”. Seems to me that prayer time is not determined by our physical circumstances. God lives in us and not a temple. Therefore physical environments such as removing a hat cannot keep our prayers from reaching the Father.

Even though it may not be a problem to take off our hats during prayer time, there is still a large part of Christian culture that believes this should be done. Many people are taught in military and in other cultural circumstances that there are times to take off your hat to show respect. Even though taking your hat off during prayer is probably not what 1 Corinthians 11 is talking about, when with a group it is best to do it out of respect for those around you.

We have freedom in Christ. God is everywhere – especially in our hearts. Hats don’t stop that, but in all things respect for those around you shows love for them.

1 Corinthians 10:23
“Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.


“Lord, Bless This Food”

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[This is me beginning of a series on things we do without thinking as Christians. Maybe we don’t remember why we do them. They can be big or small things. If you’d like to suggest a topic for this series comment below.]

Once upon a time a man was hunting in the woods. He was a long way from civilization when he ran into a grizzly bear. Doing his best to move quietly away from the bear he stepped on a twig and it snapped loudly.

At that the bear noticed the hunter and began to make chase, so the man ran as fast as he could to get away from the bear. As each second passed the bear inched closer to the hunter. When the hunter couldn’t run any further he knelt down and prayed, “Lord, please make this bear a Christian.”

The bear was running full speed to get to the man, and when it arrived it stopped suddenly. It got down on its knees and the hunter heard the bear say, “Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive.”

This is a silly story, but if you are a Christian how many times have you heard this prayer or said this prayer before you’ve begun to eat? For many cultures it is odd enough that Christians pray before meals (a ritual which is actually healthy), but the prayer seems odd, doesn’t it?

“Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive.”

Hasn’t He already blessed it? Didn’t God cause it to grow? Didn’t He provide it for you? Didn’t He fill it with nutrients to give you strength and energy? He HAS blessed it!

So why do we pray this prayer? Well, it goes back to the King James translation of the bible. When Jesus was in the upper room and they were partaking of the last supper the scripture said that Jesus broke the bread, but what he did before that changed the way we began our meals for generations.

The King James Version says this in Matthew 26:26

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

In looking at the original language this passage doesn’t really translate that way. Instead, it is better translated that instead of blessing the bread he “gave thanks” for the bread.

Doesn’t that make more sense? Shouldn’t we be thankful for that which God has already blessed? It’s just a small thing, but watch and see how many people do this. The next time you’re somewhere that the person praying asks God to bless the food just smile and be grateful with an “Amen”.

[Next week we will address why we take our hats off during prayers.]


Favorite Places

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I love the mountains. This summer I have spent many days hiking and climbing and exploring the countryside around Durango, Silverton, and Ouray Colorado. The mountains there are magnificent and filled with rich history. There is quite a diversity of wildlife there as well. I’ve seen marmots, pika, many chipmunks, mule deer, elk, and even a bear.

In the mountains I find myself. My spirit comes alive in the majesty of the mountainous terrain. I can actually feel myself more alive when at elevations above 10,000 ft. I love the mountains.

I think Jesus loved the mountains too.

Matthew 5:1
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down.

Matthew 14:23
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.

Matthew 15:29
Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down.

Can you imagine how Jesus must have felt to be in the mountains He created? I especially like the massage in Matthew 14. Why was He up there? To pray.

Where do you pray? Jesus prayed on the mountain. I’m pretty sure he prayed in the valley and everywhere in between. When I’m on the mountain I sense the presence of God with every shortened breath. I pray a lot in the mountains. But if that is the only place I pray, then my prayer life is weak at best.

When do you pray? Jesus prayed in the morning before the disciples woke up. One night he stayed up all night praying. He prayed all kinds of times in between. Do you pray often? Is this something you do as an aside, or do you really make a time for prayer in your life?

Mountains are great, but as you look at the mountains (or at pictures of the mountains – for you flat landers) remember that God has called you to pray to him “without ceasing”. It is only thorough constant prayer that we can have an intimate relationship with our Creator. That’s what Jesus knew, and He tried to teach that to us by modeling it in His life.

Prayer is vital to the Christian’s life. May you be a person who prays on the mountaintop, in the valley, and everywhere in between. And may you pray without ceasing in order to have the relationship with God that Jesus died for you to have.


The Cure For “One of Those Days”

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Have you ever had one of those days? You know the kind I mean.

Maybe your car broke down after spending a couple thousand dollars to get it working just two months before. Maybe you’re out of a job, and the company you want to call you for an interview just turned you down. Maybe you can’t even get an interview at all? Maybe you studied really hard for that test only to fail. Maybe the person you love most of all treats you poorly without remorse. Maybe you’re out to lunch before a big, important meeting and you spill marinara sauce all over your blouse, and there’s no time to run home and change before meeting these priority clients. Maybe you just got fired. Maybe someone you loved just died.

Some days are definitely better than others.

As in all things we have a choice how we approach days like this. I’ll admit that some days you just get blindsided and no matter how prepared you think you are, you really aren’t ready for this kind of day. Yet, even when blindsided we have a choice.

Some people, when dealing with trying times such as these, choose to retreat back into their shell and succumb to depression. Some people become high stress and blow up at any given moment. Some people can’t move forward or back because they are dumbfounded as to what to do next. Yet some people deal with life’s unexpected dilemmas with ease.

How do they do that? I’ll admit it…the first scenario in the list of possibilities happened to me this week. My first instinct was to tense up and be hot-headed about the situation. How do people keep calm in all things?

When I had the issue with my vehicle I had a choice. On a normal day I wouldn’t have been ready, and I would probably have snapped at my wife and kids because of my immediate stress. That particular morning, however, I woke up early, and before I ever got out of bed I did my daily reading in the bible and in another book I’m engaged in. I spent some time in prayer, then I got up to fix breakfast and start my day.

I started the day in the word of God and with prayer. I really think that is what kept everything in perspective for me. It wasn’t nearly as hard to keep calm and not react. Through the day I prayed over the problem and looked at my engine. I didn’t fret about it. I just prayed. The prayer I prayed was that it would be an easy fix (I should have prayed for a cheap one too), and when I identified the problem it was extremely easy to replace the part that had malfunctioned.

You see, starting my day in the word and in prayer put me in a place of different perspective. I am constantly thinking about God and how to serve Him, but it is when I pray and read His word that I truly come into connection with Him. It is then that I can go through my day trusting Him to be my guide.

Face it. When you are frustrated or anxious about something, it is because you don’t trust that God will really come through for you. I know because I have been there too. Let me tell you a secret. It never gets any easier. I don’t know anyone who finds it easy to trust God. Oh, sure, they get better at it, but it is difficult to trust someone whom you cannot see face to face like you see your sister or friend. Yet, when we trust God fully we come into a perspective that will change our lives – literally. And the more we choose that perspective and see how He works in our lives, the more evidence we get that He really is working and will continue to do so.

When we trust God to guide us – when we trust that Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 are true – then we can be confident that it doesn’t matter what happens in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

When we trust Him we can know that either way it works out in the end, He is still working things out for our good.

Do you trust Him? Can you believe that it really doesn’t matter whether or not things work out the way you want them to? Can you believe that He has your best interests in mind no matter what?

You may not have experienced His workings in your life like that. Maybe you prayed for something and the opposite happened. Does that mean He doesn’t care about you, or He isn’t the good God that I make Him out to be? No! Again, it means our perspective is off.

Jesus said that when we pray God is the one who gives the gifts, and when He gives these gifts He always gives what is best for us. We may not understand it or even like it at the time, but it is what is best. If our focus is to look for how God is making things better for us, then we don’t have time to get down in the dumps over a situation. We don’t have time for anxiety. We have no reason for stress and anger.

This week I challenge you to start your day in the word of God and with prayer. YouVersion.com (which also has a mobile app for all platforms) has some great reading programs to spur on your commitment to being in the word. I challenge you to be persistent in prayer about everything. And may God show you just how good He is to you.

If you’d like to discuss this further, I invite you to comment on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org or shoot me an email at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you as you look for His guidance each day!


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