Tag Archives: saved

Why Do We Do Good?

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“I don’t do good works to be saved; I do good works BECAUSE I am saved.”

Have you ever heard that phrase? Chances are that someone has said this either to you or in relation to some church they feel are teaching a works-salvation theology. I’ve heard this more times than I can count used to explain the relationship between works and salvation.

I’m not so sure this cliché really gets to the heart of this matter.

First of all, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” This passage definitely rules out the works as being part of our salvation, or does it?

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 gives the most popular definition, but for me it’s still a little vague. When you study faith in the scripture it is more than belief. Belief is a thought or emotional connection about something. It is a conviction, but until it has an action tied to it, it is not faith. Faith is being so sure of you what you cannot see that you act on what you cannot see. Faith by its very nature is active. According to James, faith without deeds is dead. Is this a contradiction? No.

When I come to faith in God and give my life to Him I have to make some pretty major life changes. Anyone whose life has not been changed since coming to Christ has not truly been “converted” to anything and their salvation is suspect for Christ is ever working in us through His Spirit to make us more like Him. In order to have faith I must begin to act on the knowledge that God is real and I truly have been saved from my sins. The natural outcome of this is love for God. And love is always an action when it comes to God and others (love of ice cream is action too but altogether different).

When I begin to see the scope of love from God to me, then I am faced with just how unworthy of that love I really am. It is only when I come to that reality that I begin to love others as I have been loved. To love God is to love those whom God loves.

This brings me to my second thought regarding the cliché above. every time I have heard this phrase it has been in a setting where someone (at times me) has been trying to explain to someone else that they have an obligation out of their salvation to do good works to others. Even though I have always felt this to be extremely shallow I have been caught up into teaching this technique as well. There is a hint of truth here, but it misses the beauty of salvation and doing good by a long shot.

If you told me it was your birthday then ordered me to give you a gift, then it wouldn’t feel much like a gift when you received it. Or if I gave a gift to my daughter and told her, “well, your mother said I have to give this to you – it’s my obligation as your dad.” What would her reaction be? I am afraid it would be the worst gift ever for it wasn’t given out of love.

We are definitely called, as Christians who have been saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus, to do good works. Those good works are evidences of our faith. But if I am doing them out of a sense of duty, then they aren’t benefiting me or anyone else.

I don’t do good works because of an obligation due to my salvation. I do good works because God has loved me beyond my worth and comprehension. As I see His love and begin to realize that love, then I love Him back (the first and greatest commandment according to Jesus). Then, as that relationship of love grows I learn to see others through God’s eyes and love them as well (the second greatest commandment).

I don’t do good works to be saved. I do good works because God loves me, and I love Him, and I love others as well.

If you can’t accurately make that confession about yourself, then you are going through the motions. Over and over the bible condemns such actions. God would rather you be silent than lie to him in song. He would rather you keep your money than give it in frustration out of a sense of duty. But most of all, he would rather not have to worry about any of that because you are absolutely in love with Him and His creation.

I hope that the next time you hear this phrase it will spur you to remember this article. I hope you are passionately pursuing relationship with God. I hope you are loving people out of compulsion rather than out of duty – you can’t help love them because of the love-relationship between you and God.

If you haven’t begun your love-relationship with God where He has taken away your sins and given you His perfection, then I’d love to discuss any questions you may have regarding making that happen. It’s up to you. Last Friday 12 people unexpectedly died. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Don’t put off your relationship with God through Jesus another day.

If you have been going through the motions, then Jesus is calling you to come back to your first Love. The most wonderful thing about Jesus is that He has never left you; He has been there the whole time waiting for you to desire Him again. If I can pray with you or help you come back in any way please let me know.

You can reach me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. You can even comment on this article or any previous articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org.

God bless you as you do good in His name and for His sake.

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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.


The Voices Inside My Head

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I’m exhausted. My family and I just got back from a 3,000 mile round-trip excursion to Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, back to Tennessee, then Missouri, back to Arkansas, then finally back to Texas. We got to see family and friends we haven’t gotten to see in a while. We got to visit with a couple of my former students – one of whom got back in January from Afghanistan. I also got to go to a marvelous Youth Ministry Conference while in Louisville. It was a time of refreshing as I gathered with 3,000 other youth ministers from around the country to get refueled for ministry.

As I was there breathing out the stressors and worries of life and breathing in the words of God I recognized just how many voices speak into our lives.

What voices speak to you each day? Someone this weekend said that the four hardest jobs in the world are politicians, coaches, teachers, and ministers. They are the jobs where everyone else thinks they can do a better job than you can, and they frequently tell you so in no uncertain terms. What voices speak to you?

Maybe your voices come from outside influences. Maybe your family tells you something about yourself. Maybe it’s your friends or co-workers. Maybe it’s media that are significant sources of the voices that convince you of certain “truths” about yourself and the world around you.

I heard a news piece just last night talking about how even the continual images of the “perfect” women in all the visible roles in media influence our young women to think that they must also look that way. There was one story of the little girl in the beauty pageant, and when she didn’t win, she asked her mom “does this mean I’m not pretty?”

These outside voices can be brutal. Perhaps they tell you that you aren’t pretty enough or smart enough or that you don’t work hard enough. Maybe they tell you that you don’t fit in.

These voices, however, are not as potent as the voices in our own heads. I’m not talking about the schizophrenic voices where we talk to ourselves out loud. I’m talking about the subtle whispers in our minds that try to define us.

“You’re a failure as a mother or father.” “You may as well give up.” “No one really cares about you.” “You have nothing of value to contribute to society.” “You’ll never be the spouse you need to be.” “It’s ok if you do that; no one will be affected by your actions.”

As we go on in our lives these voices can easily morph from whispers to shouts as we feed in to their influence on our lives. When we start believing these things they cripple our ability for forward momentum.

I’ve seen the skits where a person stands in front of the mirror and says out loud to him or herself “Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” In every skit they say it with enthusiasm, but their eyes reveal the truth that they don’t really believe what they are saying.

Many of these voices keep the dark places of our lives close by so that we don’t allow God to take over those places and eradicate the darkness. The voices keep us captive. They cripple us in our potential.

God is desperately desiring to speak a different message into your life. He wants to remind you that you are His MASTERPIECE (Ephesians 2:10). He wants you to know that when you listen to Him he will help you have the best life possible (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28). He wants you to know that you are totally worth it.

Worth what? Worth His sacrifice on the cross. God thought and still thinks that you are totally worth sacrificing Himself so that you can live eternally with Him.

We listen to these voices because we desperately want to be accepted and liked by society around us. We are constantly trying to impress the world – the created world – while the whole time the God who created that world, the Master of all existence, is trying to tell us that we are His favorite, and he already likes us. He even loves us. I once heard Jon Acuff say that “God follows our Facebook, and he likes, likes, likes!”

That’s pretty good news isn’t it? Let me challenge you. Spend more time listening to what God says about you in His word than what society said about you or even than what Satan whispers in your head. If you do this it will be much easier to combat those voices. I propose that you will even have a much brighter outlook on life. “You are more than a conqueror through Christ.” “You have been given a spirit of power, love, and self discipline.” “God will never leave you nor forsake you.” These and so many other promises are found in scripture. And when we read these promises, we also need to remember that God cannot lie.

You are awesome! God made you the way you are, and he doesn’t make junk. Satan has been trying to remold you into his likeness since you were born. It’s time to allow God to reshape you back into the masterpiece he created you to be. That reshaping can only happen when we let the voice of God be more influential than the voices of this world.

I’m on this journey with you. External voices are constantly trying to tear me down. Join with me in becoming more dependent on the voice of God than the voices of all the “haters” – even the ones inside our heads. And may our lives change for the greater because of it.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to call me at 245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you!


Let Me Tell You All About It…

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If you’ve been around me in any way, shape, form or fashion the last few days, you know I completed the Tough Mudder. How do you know? Because I’ve probably told you all about my joys and fears and pain and excitement caused by enduring the 12 miles and 29 obstacles designed by British Special Forces guys.

I’m pretty excited about this accomplishment to put it mildly.

I’m not the only one. The entire team is flooding Facebook and the various places where we work and socialize with stories and pictures of our day in Edna last Saturday. It’s like we are compelled to tell the story. We overcame! We are excited! We’d love to tell you all about it!

Guess what. We have all overcome! We have all had the opportunity for God to wash away all our sins! Jesus has come and destroyed sin and death and fear and worry!

We talk about about who won the SuperBowl. We talk about what we did last weekend. We talk about the weather. We are compelled to talk. We talk with just about anybody, but how often does the message of the love of God shown through Christ come across our lips? Are we as excited about the message of redemption as we are about Dale Earnhardt’s number coming out of retirement?

Do we talk with our kids about the implications of a life filled with joy through salvation in Christ as much as we talk to them about the implications of sex before marriage?

Do we talk with our friends about freedom in Christ as much as we do about the weather or work or kids or…anything?

No wonder Christianity is not the fastest growing religion in the world. But what can we do about it?

First, it’s time for us to do some genuine soul searching about our relationship with Christ. Many people love Jesus but don’t tell anyone else about Him. Many people claim love for Jesus but don’t even bother to tell Him about it.

It’s as if I just got married, but I din’t wear a wedding ring. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t even live with my wife. But I still claimed my wife on my taxes.

We are supposed to be in a love relationship with Jesus. The church is called the “bride of Christ”. How many of us are married to Him but don’t want anyone to know it?

It may not be that you don’t want anyone to know it. Maybe you just don’t think about it. My question is why not? Maybe you don’t know what to say. When you’re excited about anything else you have no worry about what to say. You don’t even care if the other people want to hear what you have to say.

This is not something we are going to be able to force in ourselves. If we aren’t excited about Christ we won’t be able to “fake it till we make it”. We need to commit to true searching for Christ in our lives and in the scriptures. We need to be committed once again to prayer and fasting. For some of you it may mean beginning that relationship with Christ by accepting Him as your Savior and connecting with Him through baptism.

Let’s start this journey today. The destination is totally worth the search.

May you deeply seek Christ in your life this year. May prayer and fasting be a regular part of your life. And may the world see Christianity grow once again out of newfound love for the God who loved us first.

If you have any questions or comments about this or would like to know more about making Jesus your Savior, please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 979-245-1611.

God bless your search and newfound joy in Christ!


How to Love a Deity

The last couple of months I’ve been writing about the two laws of Christianity, and the last couple of articles have been about how God loves us unconditionally. As a recap, there are only two laws in Christianity: love God and love everyone else. Everything else is just commentary on these two laws.

So the question remains; how do you love a Deity?

In order for us to understand that concept, first we must understand our status with that Deity as created beings. We’ve messed up. People like to blame God for alot of the things that go wrong in the world today, but if you really think about it, most that we can call “bad” really began by someone exchanging the reign of this loving God in their life for a self-rule where “I” am the most important being in the universe. When I do what I want, and that want contradicts what God wants, then alot of bad can result.

Want some examples? How many wars are actually God ordained? Wars are usually started by countries that either want to take advantage of another country’s weakness or by a country that wants to take vengeance into it’s own hands instead of allowing God to do His job. September 11 wasn’t caused by God. It was caused by people who put themselves and other sick and twisted ideologies above God in their lives.

Unfortunately, we all have the same problem.  At some point in our lives we do what we want even when that contradicts what God wants.  We put ourselves on the throne, and God is tossed asunder as we revel in our selfish ambitions.  This could be anything – a liar is only thinking about self-preservation.  An adulterer is only thinking about self-gratification.  A gossip is only thinking about the status he or she will achieve by having the next “scoop”.  We have all sinned – we have all put ourselves on the throne and taken God off.

Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  This is you AND this is me.  We have all sinned and, as Galatians 3:24 says, we have been “prisoners of sin”.

So what can YOU do about it?  Suppose you get a ticket and you have to go to court.  You are guilty.  There’s no denying it.  When you get to court you tell the judge how good you are and all the great things you have done.  Are you still guilty of breaking the law?  Yes.  Can anything you’ve done or ever will do erase the fact that you’re guilty?  No.  This is a problem.  You are guilty and must pay the fine.

In essence this is the situation mankind is in.  We have messed up and messed things up in the process.  So how do we make it right?  God has already done the work for us.  He did this through His Son, Jesus.

How do you love a Deity?  It starts by accepting and reciprocating that love.  If my son loves me, he will first accept the love I want to show to him.

What’s your life like?  Are you still trying to do things your way with yourself on the throne?  There are only two laws to this thing we call Christianity, and the first law, Love God, begins with you agreeing to accept that love.  What does God do in return?  He gets rid of your sin and wipes your conscience clean in the process so that you can start fresh with this newly refurbished relationship.  You can live in Him the way He intended for you to live.

So what do you do? It begins with a choice – then proceeds with a dedication. A ceremony, of sorts.  Where God fulfills His promise to you as you ceremonially “die” to your old self in order to start this relationship with your Creator in the right way.  Romans 6, Galatians 3, 1 Peter 3 and many other scriptures describe this ceremony as baptism – an immersion in water to symbolize the death and resurrection that Jesus went through so that you don’t have to.

I don’t know where you are, but if you want to know more about starting this journey of Loving God and Loving Everyone Else, then please contact me.  I’d love to have the opportunity to listen and share as we take this trip together.  Feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or on twitter or facebook as mrjdobbs.  I look forward to hearing from you, and may the Love of God rule in your lives!


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