Tag Archives: religion

Blind Faith Is Not Required

I was having a conversation one time with a person who was trying out “this Jesus thing” for the first time. She was going on about how hard it is to believe in God and the church and Jesus and such.  At the end of her rant, she looked at me and said with undertones of disgust, “I know. I’m just supposed to have blind faith. At least that’s what other preachers have told me.”

It broke my heart. Blind faith isn’t expected or required. It is not even a biblical concept. 

I don’t have faith in Jesus just because some preacher said I should. I don’t believe in the stories in the bible just because I was raised with these stories.

Sometimes, when preachers teach a certain concept, they come across as if to say that to believe any differently would be wrong and stupid. If a person teaches the scripture without concern for what science has proven, then they are inconsistent with the reality of creation. If there is no historical fact or evidence as a foundation for my faith, then what hope is in that faith? What makes that faith any different than believing in Transformers or Voltron?

The church is struggling to gain ground with people in the scientific community because of the inconsistencies with her teachings and the call to “blind faith”. 

But this doesn’t have to be so. 

When you read the creation account in Genesis 1-3, do you read a literal seven days or an undetermined period of time? Does it matter? The creation account in Genesis isn’t a scientific treatise on how God created the earth. In fact, it is written as poetry. It is meant to point us to the Creator and show His majesty. Could that have happened over 4 billion years ago? Sure! How about 10,000 years ago? Maybe, but that would mean God peppered the ground with lots of science that doesn’t jive with the historical timeline. That seems a bit out of character for God. 

In either case a person can still believe in the one, true, supreme God, Creator of the universe!

What about Jesus? 

Belief in Jesus is more on the historical basis. History shows He existed. The Jews and Muslims alike have laws and writings about Him. There is no question as to the historical truth of Jesus. There is not even a question as to whether or not He was crucified. 

The question is whether or not He was raised from the dead. 

Historically speaking, there were eyewitnesses of His resurrection that testified to its truth. The writings about the resurrection were circulated during the time people were still living who could have refuted the claim if it were false. 

As for the bible itself, great historians like H. G. Wells and Will Durant (who were both atheists) testify to the historical reliability of the biblical account.  

In fact, Christianity is the only religion that it would be possible to prove false. It is the only one couched in history with historically verifiable events to back up its claims. You can’t prove the concepts of Buddhism or the promises of Mohammed or even the historical claims of the Book of Mormon looking at history. 

My faith is not based on some emotional event in my life. I have had those, but my faith comes from the knowledge I have regarding science and history.  My faith comes from the experiences I’ve had and seen in others. 

I don’t have blind faith, and neither should you. God gave you a brain to use. Don’t check it at the door in the name of religion or to follow some charasmatic preacher. Even the scripture says “test everything”. 

These are only a few of the concepts that solidify my faith. If you want to know more about building a foundation of knowledge that leads to faith, feel free to contact me. I love you, and I hope you grow in your understanding of the world around you, and I hope that understanding leads you to unshakable faith. 

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Huh? Is that really in there?

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When I was a young man, my grandfather would tell me a story from when he was a youth worker and my parents were teenagers. My grandfather has always been active in the church, so when my parents were teens, he saw a need to step in to facilitate classes and activities for the teens.

One Sunday morning he saw two young men walking down the aisle, and he decided to have some fun with them. Bear in mind that this was probably the early 1970’s. Both of these teen boys had mustaches, so my grandfather asked them,
“Do you boys read your bible?”
“Oh yes sir,” was their reply.
“Well, then you can quote Hezekiah 14:26.” My grandpa was trying to hold back his grin.
“Um, can you remind us how it goes?” The boys were back pedaling quickly.
“Thou shalt not grow tame upon thine upper lip what groweth wild upon thine leg.”

The two hairy-lipped boys thanked him and went their merry way. The next time Grandpa saw them they had shaved their lips. Obviously they hadn’t bothered to look up the verse, because if they had they wouldn’t have found it. Hezekiah was a king, it isn’t a book in the bible. There is no verse that says men shouldn’t grow mustaches. I cracked up every time I heard that story.

Do you know your bible? Let’s take a test today. I’m going to list some common phrases, and see if you can figure out which ones came from the bible and which ones didn’t.

Is this from the bible or not?
1. Cleanliness is next to godliness
2. The apple of my eye
3. The golden rule: “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you”
4. Once saved, always saved
5. Spare the rod, spoil the child
6. God helps those who helps themselves
7. The sinner’s prayer
8. The lion will lay down with the lamb
9. Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned
10. The writing on the wall
11. Wolf in sheep’s clothing
12. You reap what you sow
13. This too shall pass
14. A fool and his money are soon parted

Well, how did you do? The only ones that are actually in the bible are numbers 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, and 13.

We believe a lot of things that just aren’t true. Not being willing to check out the facts through any form of research is a high form of self-deception. We are given a brain to use, but many of us just accept everything at face value.

When Luke wrote the book of Acts, he said that the Bereans were of “more noble character” than those around them because they heard Paul’s message and went home and searched the scriptures to see if it was true.

This practice should apply to every area of our lives. There is an election coming up. Do you believe the hype, or have you done the research so that you have an educated opinion upon which you will cast your vote? Do you accept what the preacher says just because he is the preacher? Do you accept what your school says because the teacher proclaims a message that sounds good?

“Most people who profess a deep love of the Bible have never actually read the book.” Rabbi Rami Shapiro

Please don’t be a person who hears something and accepts it without verifying the facts. There are plenty of people who will lie to you with lies that sound too much like truth. Even some religions will expect you to take what they say at face value without verification. One very popular religion has even made it their rule that what they say is more important than what the bible says. Thus there is no way to be a Berean in that system of religion.

The bible is full of wonderful information that feeds your need for truth. Preachers, pastors, and teachers are flawed, erring human beings, so it is important that you verify what they say. Don’t do it because you’re just a skeptic. Don’t do it because you think they’re bad people. They aren’t, I’m sure! In fact, I try very hard to tell the truth all the time, but sometimes I get my facts confused. It is important, then, that you have the ability to discern truth on your own.

You can be noble like a Berean as well.

If you know any other common phrases thought to be in the bible but aren’t, then I’d love to hear them. Many of these are truths that can be verified in scripture, but the wording isn’t there. Shoot me a message at mrjdobbs@gmail.com or comment on this article at my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you as you seek His truth every day.


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 science vs. religion debacle

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We each have a brain that thinks millions of things a minute. It is the center of our being as far as how we function. It is key to our understanding and comprehension, our speech and recognition. The brain is vital to our ability to process information and grow and learn.

There are people in the realm of science who say that to have religion is to function without using the cognitive reasoning that we have the capacity for. There are people in religion who say you don’t need to understand everything, you just need to have faith. So what we have is a battle between philosophy and science.

I am a Christian, yet I love science and especially mathematics. I find that you cannot have science without philosophy that borders on religion, and you cannot have religion without scientific basis. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

Euclidean geometry is the science upon which most of our lives are constructed. Euclidean geometry is the geometry you learned all the way through high school and maybe into college. It is the basis for construction and architecture and even art. Yet Euclidean geometry is based on a philosophical argument.

In order to have Euclidean geometry you have to be able to prove that ‘these’ are the beginning sets of criteria then you can logically conclude that the end result will be ‘thus’. Rectangles have 90° angles, and triangles have three sides. Yet in order to have Euclidean geometry you have to make one assumption. Given a line and a point not on that line, you have to assume that there is one and only one line through that point that is perpendicular to that line. This cannot be proven. I know, because I’ve tried multiple times, and so have many, many others. All of Euclidean geometry is based on a philosophical argument: it works, therefore it must be true.

Because you cannot prove Euclidean geometry you have to go by faith that the structure you are about to build based on this geometry is going to stand strong. There are, however, a multiplicity of other geometries out there – non-Euclidean geometries – that are equally as valid in terms of their initial assumption and the consequential proofs that follow.

You cannot have science without a bit of faith, but faith is the stuff of religion.

In religion, the basic assumption at the core is that there is a Creator that seeded life on this planet. If we just check our minds at the door we miss that the order of the universe, and even the order of the structure of creatures on this planet create a probability problem as to the chance that these things could possibly have just happened as a result of random events in the history of things. I do not believe in the Creator merely on faith alone – though I have faith. I find that there is more evidence pointing to there being a Creator than there is to everything just happening by chance. Plus, I find that this philosophy/science perspective gives much greater value to us as humans as to our uniqueness among creation.

If you have religion without science, then there is no bedrock of proof to back up your philosophical claims. You prove yourself to be weak minded in the eyes of those who hold more highly to science. Yet you don’t have to be.

I encourage all of you to get to know why your beliefs in the Creator and His Son, Jesus are more valid than the arguments of science as to evolution and atheism. God doesn’t want us to check our minds at the door. He wants us to know why we believe in Him, for he has said in Romans 1:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.


Football and the Election

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I admit it. I’m guilty. I’ve been caught up in this trap before, so please know that I have already spoken this word to myself before I chose to write this article.

How do you feel about the government? How do you feel about the current administration either in the local, state or federal government? Think about your response to this for a bit.

I’m on Facebook constantly, and right now about 75% of the posts that scroll across my page are either about football or about the upcoming election. The lion’s share of my over one thousand friends are passionate Christians concerned about the future of America. They don’t agree with what is being done, and they want to help people see the changes they think are needed to be made for this nation to become more healthy.

Having an opinion about something is good. In fact, it is right to have an opinion about what you think is right. Without that ability how would we be able to know to do right? I think our ability to discern what is right and good is a God-given ability.

There are many people who are giving their opinion, but these opinions are getting more and more disrespectful. People are stooping to name-calling. They are condemning people who aren’t in opposition to the same people they are in opposition to. This is going a bit far.

As Christians we are called to a higher standard. It is so easy for us to get caught up in the flow of ideas perpetuated by worldly thinking. Yet, consider what Peter has to say in 1 Peter 2:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover‑up for evil; live as servants of God.
Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:13-17 NIV84)

When Jesus was on the earth he did not agree with the governing or religious authorities. That is why he was killed. He wasn’t crucified because he healed the sick or raised the dead or was a “good guy”. He was crucified because he spoke of a kingdom that was in direct opposition to the governing religious authority of the day. Yet, he did not tell the people to rebel against that kingdom. He encouraged the people to pay their taxes. He encouraged them to go even beyond the letter of the law of the land.

When he was on trial, Jesus was very respectful to the people who were unjustly accusing him. He had ample opportunity to put the authorities “in their place”, yet he chose respect.

Our culture today has lost the art of respecting one another. When you go to Wal-mart it is a breath of fresh air, not the norm, when someone treats you kindly and with respect. Yet we are called to live in this respect every day.

I don’t agree with everything the government is doing. I cannot support abortion. I don’t like how the economy is affecting my ability to provide for my family. But I know that whoever is there has been granted that authority by God, Himself. Therefore, while I don’t agree with the policies, I must trust that God has a purpose for me and my country in this.

Does that mean that God is planning to make our country great by putting a particular person in leadership? No. It may mean that we need to be humbled as a nation. It may be that I need to learn to trust God more, and I can only learn that in times where I am required to trust in Him.

You have a great responsibility to vote. Please vote. But also respect those who are in those places of authority whether you voted them in there or not.

This is the higher calling. This is the brighter example in this dark world.

May you be that bright example to those around you. May you consider how you present yourself to those around you. If people know you are a Christ-follower, then they will only understand what it meant to be thus by how you act. Please act according to Christ’s example.

If you’d like to discuss this, then I invite you to do so on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs,org. Blessings to you as you prepare to vote in the upcoming elections.


The Religion of the Masses

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Everyone is religious. We all worship something.

I love my kids. Just ask me, and I’ll tell you all about their exploits.

Just today my oldest daughter practiced on the swim team for the first time. It is the middle of the season, and it’s her first opportunity to practice with the team. Her first time out she swam around 4,000 meters. That’s nearly 2.5 MILES! I can run that far, but I’ve never even thought of swimming that far. And that was her first day of practice ever being on any kind of swim team.

Yesterday our family went to a water park in the area, and we had a blast. Our 6 year old son is getting comfortable with swimming and he had a wonderful experience. It’s so much fun to watch him as he dives under the water and stays there for quite some time given his age. He says he likes being under water better. At six, he was having a great time riding the slides with me. The last slide we tried was the one that strikes some sense of fear into almost everyone’s heart when they walk into a water park. You know the slide – its the one that just has one long, nearly straight down, drop. My son wanted to go first, so I let him. My heart stopped as he went out of sight over the lip of the slide, but as he reached the bottom I couldn’t help yelling with excitement. He said it was “awesome”.

My smallest child is my other daughter. She has been doing gymnastics and loving every minute of it. Her coaches have been surprised and impressed since day one at her ability to walk the balance beam without looking down. She is four (started at three), and she looks around the room and at the coach while she walks the beam. When she had her gym’s version of a recital the other day they even had her do a frontward roll on the balance beam. I had never seen her do that before, and she did great!

Everyone is religious. We all worship something.

I’m excited about my children; who wouldn’t be? But I don’t worship them, and they know it. That doesn’t mean that I am the rule, however.

People worship all sorts of things. It’s what consumes them that centralizes their worship. Some people are consumed with money. Some people are consumed with a search for knowledge. Some people are consumed with power. Some people are even consumed with their children!

The kinds of people that astonish me most in terms of what they worship are the atheists and the religious “folk”.

An atheist believes there is no God, and therefore should be free of the moniker “religious”. However, every atheist I have ever seen has something (usually many things) that consumes them. They may worship any combination of the things listed above. Humanists are atheist, technically, but they, too, have a god, and that is the human species. We all worship something.

Religious “folk”, as I use the phrase here, are Christians – of a sort. They say the right things and attend the right meetings, but their focus is clearly seen by their actions and attitudes. These people worship their religion more than the focus of that religion. They are more concerned with making sure everything goes a certain way than with total abandon to the God they profess to worship. They get hung up on the minutia of certain commands while neglecting the very heart of that command.

Religious “folk” fill up church buildings each Sunday with judgmentalism and pomp. They wear the right clothes and look down on you if you don’t. They strictly adhere to their traditions while condemning the “heretics” who dare to challenge those traditions. They don’t even realize that some of the things they hold as sacred are merely traditions! These people are the reason many people stay out of churches today.

We are called to worship one Being only, and that is Jehovah God. He is the One True God who gives life to all men and women everywhere. He is to be forever praised. Not me, not you, not our stuff nor status, but Him alone.

In our culture today, it is so very easy to get caught up in worship of other things. God calls this idolatry, and the first two of the ten commandments condemn it.

Today, I challenge you to evaluate yourself, and be careful as you do so. It is easy for us to stay “holier-than-thou” and write this off as not pertaining to us. I catch myself in that same trap, but it is my hope and prayer that we can effectively see the deficits in our lives. I pray that we can come away from our ungodly religions and come back to the God who is the center of everything that exists.

Always ask questions – of yourself, and of your situation. Seek truth, and if you’d like to discuss this further know I’m seeking truth as well. If there is anything I can do for you, please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the church office at 245-1611. God bless your evaluation. God bless the answers you find. And God bless the change that comes as a result.


Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, and Atomic Bombs

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Close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades.”

How many times have you heard that? I’ve heard it all my life to refer to many occasions where I have said, “Well, I was close.” I’ve also heard that saying evolve a bit to include atomic bombs.

This Memorial Day weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to go to my parents’ house in Northeast Louisiana. We had a grand time playing and swimming and laughing and reminiscing. We celebrated my son’s birthday and his graduation from kindergarten. We also played horseshoes.

Horseshoes is a great game of some skill and a whole lot of luck. I don’t generally believe in luck, but when a person with no skill accidentally gets a ringer or leaner what else should I call it?

We all played: my mom and dad, my wife and son and daughter, and even my 83 year old grandfather.

In fact, I played my grandfather, and it is with much shame and a bit of a smirk that I must admit that even with a knee that shot pain through his body with every throw and joints with no cushioning, he beat me royally. I think the score was fifteen to seven. I could get the horseshoe close, but not close enough.

We live in a culture that celebrates “close enough”. Look at our political system. The candidates we have running for the various offices do not match up with our moral or political views, so we have to find the one we think represents our ideals “closely enough”. Then we wonder why our country is going downhill so quickly.

I see girls all the time who want deep down to find the man of their dreams, but after years of finding no such man, they settle for “close enough”. That usually leads them to misery in the end.

I see Christians all the time who match their lives up to the scriptures, and they say “eh, close enough”.

Even in horseshoes there is a definition for “close”. There is a measurable boundary where you can determine if you are “close enough”. In our lives, however, we want to place those boundaries wherever we please. This doesn’t work when it comes to the righteousness that God requires. We can’t read how we are supposed to be living according to the scriptures and then dismiss our shortcomings as being close enough.

Let me get something straight: you cannot get to heaven or get saved by anything that you’ve done. It is by the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus that you are saved. However, we have changed our attitude towards that gift over the years to become apathetic concerning our response to that gift.

You don’t receive a million dollars then spit in the face of the one who gave it to you. When we disregard the desires of God for righteousness in our lives we are trampling the cross underfoot.

As I study various religions I am overjoyed to see so many going in the right direction – for a bit. Then I mourn as I see them time after time stray away. They were so close, but they had to ignore something or add something that wasn’t necessary. Eh, at least they’re close. No. I don’t want to stand before God and try to explain to Him how I was “close enough”. I don’t think that argument will set well with Him – the Almighty, wholly pure, righteous, justified Lord of the universe.

No, we must get back to seeing how the scriptures show us how to live. Love must reign in our lives coupled with peace as we seek unity. No longer should we rely on “close enough”. So many people say “I believe in God”, yet their actions prove otherwise. Besides, the bible says that “even the demons believe…”

I want to live my life for Christ in every area. I want to continue to grow in that life that honors Him as I grow to know Him. I never want to be stagnant, and I don’t want to rely on the hope that I was “close enough”. I want assurance that my salvation is secure, and I have that assurance according to the Bible.

I’m not saying that to try to sound arrogant. You can have that assurance as well, but you have to be willing to set aside the “close enough” mindset. You have to be willing to really, truly devote yourself to Christ. I do understand that it is not easy, nor is it convenient, but it is right, and it is what you are called to do and to be.

Join with me in that life of assurance in Christ. If you haven’t truly dedicated your life to Christ as commended to you by Jesus himself, then seek that connection today. If you’ve been living a life of “close enough” you can make the decision to change, and Christ stands waiting to help you in that journey.

I would love to talk with you more about this. If I can help you in any way, please call me at 245-1611 or write me at jddobbs@verizon.net. You can also join the conversation at http://www.mrdobbs.org. Have a great day, play some horseshoes, and be dedicated to God. Bless God; He has already blessed you.


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