Tag Archives: savior

“I Love Funerals” said no one ever.

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Let’s do an experiment. Please take a moment to frown. I mean really frown. Are you ready? No smirking!

Now that you are sufficiently frowning, read these words out loud:

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart”
“Joyful, joyful we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love. Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee opening to the Son of love. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness…”

You may or may not recognize these church songs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the blessing of being able to lead groups in singing these words. However, what I find is that for many Christians these are hollow statements.

One of my favorite games with my kids involves reverse psychology. My kids will be frowning, and I’ll tell them “don’t you smile!” Try as they might they strain as they work to try to keep the corners of their mouths from curving upward. I’m laughing the whole time which doesn’t help. Finally, they can hold it no longer, and they bust forth in full fledged laughter as they smile in defiance of my rule. They can’t help it. The smile just happens. By the way, this even works on them when they really are upset.

Back to church.

Sunday after Sunday Christians gather in man-made sanctuaries across the world and “celebrate” the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We sing songs of praise to God for what He has done for and through us. We worship Him for how awesome He is. But for so many people this is merely a description of what is supposed to happen.

Have you ever gone to a church service that seemed more like a funeral than a celebration? Do you know Christians that are more critical and grumpy than others you know? Are you able to be described as grumpy?

David, the man after God’s own heart, was sad that the presence of the Lord wasn’t in the capitol of Jerusalem. However, when the ark of the covenant, above which the presence of the Lord resided, came into the city David couldn’t control himself.

He threw a party! There were sacrifices aplenty to Jehovah God. There was music all over the place, and there was dancing. But no dancing was as significant as the dancing David did himself. He tore off his clothes down to his underwear. (By the way, he is the king of Israel at this time) Then he danced before the Lord all through the streets. He couldn’t keep it in. He was so happy! He was rejoicing that God was back in Israel once again. God’s presence was near.

Later that day, his wife, Michal, came to him and chastised him. She talked about how undignified it was for the king to dance naked in the streets. I mean, what would the slave girls think? Would they respect a king who behaved in such a way?

I love David’s response. “I will be even more undignified before the Lord!”

When we have joy then there is a natural outward expression of that joy. You can’t have joy and hold it in. You can hold in happiness, but joy is much deeper than happiness. Joy is a state of being.

I Peter 1:8-9 says this:
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

If you have been saved by the grace of God then you have reason for joy! In fact, the inexpressible joy mentioned here isn’t a joy that is quiet or held in. It is a joy that is so overwhelming it can’t be measured. Have you ever seen someone like that? Have you ever seen a person who has lived a life of bondage to sin celebrate because of their newfound liberation in the salvation through Christ? I have seen it, and it is inexpressible and glorious.

As we grow comfortable in our faith, though, that joy begins to wane. We don’t stay in practice of giving all out glory and praise and worship to God. Many churches shush people who are worshipping with total abandon. This should not be!

Sunday morning isn’t a funeral, it’s a celebration! The God of the universe made a great sacrifice and overcame the power of death and sin in your life and mine. We have been saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus! We don’t have to worry about sin any more! We are eternal beings! We have the Spirit of God! These are all things to celebrate!

So, the next time you sing one of the songs mentioned at the beginning of this article, please don’t just smile, sing it out. Don’t worry about what others think. It’s about God. If they’re not willing to act in joy then that’s their decision, but don’t let it stop you.

Joy is a noun that has many verbs. Don’t hold it in. When the world around you sees the joy overflowing from you they will want what you have too. Then we’ll be able to tell them, and they can become filled with inexpressible and glorious joy.

If you want that joy, then I’d love to help you seek it. Feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you as you celebrate Him!

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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.


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