Tag Archives: sacrifice

A Biblical Memorial Day

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This coming Monday is Memorial Day, a day in which we, as a nation, stop to remember those who have given their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have in this country. It is an honorable day whether or not you believe in what the government is fighting for.

Did you know that the Bible actually recommends that every day be memorial day in our lives as Christians? Look at Hebrews 11. This chapter is full of names of people and examples of how they lived and died to bring about examples of righteous living and spiritual success. Towards the end of the chapter, it even talks of those who have died as examples to us that we should learn from their dedication to the gospel of Christ.

The greatest memorial is mentioned in chapter 12, however, as the writer of Hebrews talks about Jesus. It is because Jesus died that we have freedom. Jesus serves as a reminder that we have not yet resisted temptation or persecution to the point of shedding our blood for the gospel.

I cannot help but think on this week about Christ, though. He lived his life perfectly and was killed anyway. He died a cruel and unjust death after an illegal trial. Then he rose from the dead on the third day. All of this, he says, is to bring us forgiveness and real life here and in heaven beyond. But most of all, it says he did this to set us free.

Galatians 3:22 declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin. If you’ve sinned (and you have) then you are in bondage to the consequences and continuation of a life in bondage where the warden is the evil one. Romans 6:23 says that once you sinned, you deserved death. Such a life is no life at all.

But then, the passage in Romans says that through Jesus, we can have eternal life. This picture is not a life in bondage, but a life of joy and freedom in Christ. So many people think that Christianity is a religion that restricts its adherents from being able to have fun and live life to the fullest. On the contrary, Jesus said that he had come so that we might have life to the fullest..abundant life. In fact, in Galatians 5:1, we are encouraged with these words:

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

When I understand the extent to which God sacrificed his love and very self for me, then I want to give my life in return to him. I do not live in bondage in Christ, I am free. There are actually only two laws in Christianity: Love God with everything you are and have, and love your neighbor as yourself. By the way, that is WAY fewer laws than we have here in the US.

If you truly want to have a life of freedom, it should be found in Christ as you see what true freedom really is.

So remember all the soldiers who have died…we all know so many personally and honor their lives and deaths this week. But don’t forget the One who gave you the truest freedom: Christ. And remember that you truly are free to live life to the fullest in Him.

If you don’t have that life of freedom from sin yet, then please contact me. I would love to tell you more about how you can be rid of the sin that holds you captive and separated from God.


The Secret to all Relationships is no Secret

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I want you to think of someone you know. This is a person you really love deeply. It may be a spouse or child or long-time friend. Why do you love them? You share so much with one another. Sure, they make mistakes, but you overlook those because of all the positive you see in that person. You love them because they continually live up to your expectations, or even better, you have no expectations of them at all – you just love them for who they are.

Now I want you to think of someone you can’t stand and you don’t love. Why don’t you love them? Do they not share the same vision for life as you? Do they continually make mistakes that you think are so simple to avoid? Do they not live up to your expectations? Do they offend you or do things that hurt you? Do they hurt the ones you love?

Both kinds of people are very real in your life. Each of us have friends, children, relatives, coworkers, and even spouses that fit into one of the two categories. Either we love them unconditionally, or we don’t.

Our world paints such a skewed vision of love. It is destroying our relationships every day. This kind of love is based on self-gratification. If you love someone just because they are good to you, or you hate someone because they are bad to you, both reactions are selfish in nature and therefore neither will lead to love. 1 Corinthians 13, when defining love, says it is not self-seeking.

Not every relationship will be awesome. You will have coworkers you will have to put up with, but you are called to love them anyway. Your children may reject you, but for most parents there is not even a question as to whether or not you love them. You have acquaintances you can’t avoid because they are friends of your friends, but not avoiding them is not edge same as loving them.

Marriages today are the most susceptible to demise based on this non-love that is being taught. We are constantly shown images of fairy-tale like relationships where both parties are blissfully happy forever. Not all marriages will be like this, and you need to know that it is ok. Your marriage doesn’t have to have all the movie-like bliss, but it does have to have love.

Love overlooks the bad. Love doesn’t get angry easily. Love doesn’t hold a grudge. Love doesn’t seek self first. (See 1 Corinthians 13 again)

How are you treating those you don’t like? Are you thinking about those definitions of love? Are you loving them unconditionally?

Jesus loves us in just that way. The bible says that while we were still enemies of God Jesus loved us so much that he died for us (Romans 5:6-11). Did you get that? We were the people who were unloveable, and for the most part we still are! We still sin and do what is against God’s will for us daily. We still don’t love those who are God’s children.

We don’t deserve the love God gives to us, but He loves us anyway. He asks us to love one another in that same way.

Imagine what it would be like to love like that. Imagine loving your coworker despite his annoying and offending personality. Imagine loving that homeless person even before you get to know them. Imagine loving your spouse despite all their countless flaws.

Oh, and loving them doesn’t mean just putting up with them. Loving them is serving them and doing what’s best for them and speaking health and beauty into their lives.

When we love like this then the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus (John 13:35). Then the world will want to know more about the love we’ve been shown. As long as we pick and choose who we love and let our emotions drive our decision (or indecision) to love, then we have no witness in this world for that is not how God treats us daily. He always loves us no matter who we are or what we’ve done, and He proved it by the cross.

Who do you need to love? Is it a spouse or coworker or neighbor? Will you join with me in choosing to love them in spite of them? That’s what God wants – love for love’s sake – not for our sake.


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!


Timothy was 5

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Timothy’s sister, Sarah, was very ill and in the hospital. This concerned Timothy very much. He looked up to his big sis, and she was his whole world. Timothy was 5 and Sarah was 8.

As the treatments continued the doctors determined that Sarah needed a blood transfusion in order to save her life. They began the search for who would have the right type of blood to save Sarah’s life. Timothy even had his blood tested. He didn’t like the prick, but it was worth it for his big sister.

After the tests were completed it was determined that Timothy was a perfect match as a blood transfusion donor for his sister. They explained the procedure to Timothy, and after only a little bit of convincing Timothy agreed.

The doctors quickly got everything ready, and before he knew it Timothy was laying on a bed next to his sister. She had all sorts of tubes and machines connected to her. Her eyes were closed, but Timothy smiled as he looked at her. He was saving her life.

Not long after the procedure began Timothy began to silently weep. No one noticed at first. When Timothy’s mom realized he was crying she went to him and asked him what was wrong.

“How long till I die?”

Everyone in the room froze as the impact of the question set in. Timothy agreed to the blood transfusion, but in his mind he was giving all his blood – his very life – to save his sister. This five year old had given the greatest sacrifice so that his sister could live.

What would you give so that others would live?

There are many things that you can give to bring life to others. You can give time, prayer, effort, money, services, etc. Jesus said that the greatest love someone could show is to give their life for their friends. Then Jesus called his disciples friends.

How much do you give so that others can live?

Do you give your time, money, effort, prayers? Many people go to church each week but are merely consumers of all that goes on there. Then, if things aren’t going their way, or if they aren’t being “fed” what they desire to consume, then they are the loudest complainers. Are you one of these consumer Christians?

In 2 Samuel 24:24 David wanted to worship God in sacrifice. The landowner offered to give him the land and the sacrifice. David could have consumed these goods and given little effort to worship God, but he refused. He refused to worship God in a way that cost him nothing.

We are called to make sacrifices every day and in many ways. In our churches we are called to make sacrifices of praise to The Lord. But we are also called to give. It won’t kill you to give, but many people act like it will.

If you are giving pocket change each week I challenge you to dig a little deeper until you feel the pain of sacrifice. If you aren’t giving at all, I challenge you to get started right away. Giving is a blessing when you do it. Even God promises to pour out copious amounts of blessings on those who give in Malachi 3.

So let’s be people who give. And let’s watch together as our giving provides new ways for people to come to life in Christ.


It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jesus of Nazareth” was their reply.

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

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

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

They had said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth.

“I Am.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hands-on required

This last week, I had the privilege of going to Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, OK with the youth group from Nichols St. church of Christ for Camp Genesis.  The focus of this camp, as with many church camps, is to help the students experience God in ways they never have before.  The hope is that these experiences with God will change the lives of the teens attending.

Camp Genesis is a little different than most camps I’ve been to, however.  It’s focus is helping the kids get beyond their comfort zone and interact with other people who may be uncomfortable for these teens to be around.  The campers got to split up during the week and travel to many different ministries around Oklahoma City and serve in any way they could.  They went to an inner-city church, the Salvation Army, the City Rescue Mission, Special Care (a home for children with disabilities), the regional Food Bank, the Boys and Girls Club and various other services around the area.

All of the kids attending were very excited to have the opportunity to serve.  In fact, we got rained out on Monday and had to postpone the service projects that day, and the teens were voicing their disappointment because they just couldn’t wait to help serve.  I really enjoy that aspect of teenagers today…they will serve, and they want to serve.

As I worked and taught and laughed and sweated alongside these teens last week, I realized something I would like to share with you today.  It came to me that I really like to sing.  I love singing on Sunday morning.  I sing in my car.  I sing with the teens.  I have even performed from time to time.  I love to sing.

One of my favorite things about being a Christian is that I get to worship with other Christians every Sunday morning and any other time the Christians are meeting together.  This brings me great joy.  I know that many of you reading this feel the same joy as you worship God each week.  This is not a new concept to me, but what comes next is something I haven’t processed before:

It is really easy for us to get so caught up in worshiping with our lips that we forget what true worship is really about.

Romans 12:1-2 says this:  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

This phrase “spiritual act of worship” is translated in other versions as “reasonable service of worship”.  The idea here is that the only logical, reasonable way to worship is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices…to God.

We all worship something.  What we dedicate our lives to is what we worship – sometimes it may be our job or our hobby or our family or even our addiction.  What consumes us is what we worship.

Even more so…is it worship if we are only doing it on Sunday morning with our lips?  What about the rest of our bodies the rest of the week?  Worship is about so much more than simply singing to God.  It’s easy to sing the right words at the right time.  It’s much harder to get dirty for Jesus as we serve Him by serving others.

This is what these kids were doing all week at camp.  They were giving their lives to God in service to those whom God loves.

So what do you worship?  And how do you do it?  If you are a Sunday only type of Christian, then maybe it is time to re-evaluate what you are worshiping.  Worship should be from everything you are and have every day of the week.  Christian should be who you are…not merely what you do.  Only when we get a firm grasp on this concept will the world be changed for the good in the name of Christ.

Then, you will understand God’s will for you.

I thank God for the work that these teens have done this week!  And I thank God that’s He’s working in your heart as you have read this article.  If there is any way we can serve you or help you get plugged in to serving others, feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or on twitter @mrjdobbs.  God bless you, and may He change you daily to be more like Jesus.


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