Tag Archives: selfishness

No Longer I

no longer i

Selfishness isn’t working.

We live in a country where there is this ideal called “The American Dream.” What is it?  It is the idea that if we work hard and do the right things we can amass great hordes of wealth and power and prestige – the pursuit of life, liberty and property (or happiness depending on which version of this phrase you prefer). The goal of life according to the American dream is for me to be more, well, me! It’s all about me.

From the time we are infants our world has shown us that it is all about us.  Many people, even those considered “poor” fill their children’s rooms with toys and stuff to show them they are important.  We congratulate them for successes they achieve.  We encourage them in sports to see who is harder, faster, stronger, better.

All this does is convince them that the world should cater to them.  It breeds selfishness.

But how is that working for us?  We have a generation of kids who are known as the “entitled generation.” We have marriages that are failing.  We can’t hold a job. We retreat to social media to make our lives look better than they are.

Selfishness isn’t working.

Jesus came asking us to do the opposite of the American dream.  He came asking us to seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness.  He came asking us to die to self.  He came asking us to consider the person next to us as greater that we.

But we don’t do that very well.  Perhaps we don’t understand the value of what Jesus is offering.  He is offering us identity as children of the Father – the Most High God.

We are trying to live good Christian lives while also pursuing the trappings of this world.  We want stuff and power and wealth and prestige and grace and forgiveness.  This is contradictory in nature.

When you pursue the presence of the Father in you – when you see yourself and those around you as children of the King, then you don’t matter as much.  The only one that truly matters is Abba, Father.

When you became a Christian you “died to self”.  You made Jesus the “Lord of your life”. How can you do either of these things when YOU still sit on the throne in your heart? You can’t. Selfishness isn’t working.

Yet, when you surrender and abandon self, Jesus sends his Spirit to live in you and see through you and work through you.  You cease to be you and become an embodiment of Jesus, the selfless one.  You begin to see others with His eyes of compassion.  You begin to treat others with His way of servitude.  You have died to self, so the arguments don’t matter anymore, and humility grows within you.  You begin to look like Jesus.  It is no longer you who lives, but it is Christ who lives in you (Galatians 2:20).

If you want to truly find peace, success, joy, greatness in this life you must die to self and passionately pursue the presence of God in you.  Then you will see that blessing others is so much more fulfilling than seeking self.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” -Jesus (Matthew 5:3)

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Fear is easy; Love is hard

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You may be reading this article before Valentines Day. You may be reading it on or after Valentines Day. In any case, this article is NOT about Valentines Day. But it is about love.

When we talk about what it means to be a Christian, the most basic answer is love. The two laws of Christianity are love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). When mentioning faith, hope, and love, the apostle, Paul, said that the greatest of these three is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

The problem with love is that we aren’t very good at it, and therefore we aren’t very good at the one thing that should define us as Christians. Sure, we love people. We have deep feelings for those we love, but love is not actually those feelings. In fact, you can love without any feeling at all. Love is not an emotion. Love is a choice.

The reason we aren’t very good at love is that we are raised in a culture that teaches us that the world really should revolve around us. Every thing should cater to our whim, so we invent microwaves and fast food restaurants because we deserve to have what we want when we want it. As children we are given things we want because others love us, but the constant showering of love creates a type of narcissism that places us at the center of our own universe. We aren’t very good at love because we are selfish.

We also aren’t very good at love because we are afraid. There is much hurt and betrayal in our culture, and we don’t want to fall victim to that hurt. Maybe you’ve been hurt in your past so you’ve built up walls of protection out of fear of being hurt again. Jason Gray sings a song with the lyrics “Fear is easy. Love is hard.” I tend to agree.

So, we are supposed to love, but we find that love is difficult. How can we overcome that? It begins with an understanding of what love is and isn’t. Love is a choice. It is not an emotion. 1 Corinthians 13 says love is patient, kind, not envious, not proud, doesn’t boast, not rude, not hot tempered, doesn’t hold a grudge, doesn’t gloat, looks for truth, is long suffering, is trusting, finds hope in all circumstances, and is not fleeting or fickle.

Oh, and I forgot one. Love isn’t selfish.

I’m selfish, and so until I die to the idea that my desires come first I cannot love anyone – not even my wife. When we are afraid it is because of our self focus. That is what causes us to retaliate and feel the need for anger and frustration. Love is none of those things because love has no needs for itself. Love is selfless.

Look at Jesus. He is the perfect example of love. What did he ever do that was self-seeking? Nothing. He took the role of a servant though he was ruler and creator of all. He died for you although you had done nothing for him. He offers you sinless perfection while all you can offer in return is broken sinfulness. His love for you is not dependent on you. His love for you comes from a choice, as your creator, to love you selflessly despite all you have done to reject him.

If we love like that we will be hurt. We will be cheated. We will be taken advantage of. But if we love like that non of it will matter because we will have died to self, so there’s nothing left for them to kill.

Fear is easy. Love is hard. But it is totally worth it. Love is how we will change the world. Love is how God intends to bring us peace and joy and hope and forgiveness and all the things we truly long for in ourselves.

Choose love.


Filling a Full Cup

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Several years ago I watched a movie titled “The Forbidden Kingdom”. It didn’t look like much of a movie, but there was one scene where Jet Li was set to fight Jackie Chan. I watched it solely because I wanted to see that spectacular event, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The story is about a geeky American teenager – a huge fan of Kung Fu movies – who is transported to an ancient Chinese culture where he is the chosen one to fight the evil lord. It’s a pretty common story. Jackie Chan and Jet Li (their characters) are his trainers who are set to teach this boy true Kung Fu.

The problem is that the boy has filled his mind with all the moves from the movies he’s watched. He wants to do all these super cool moves, but they are just stunts from movies and not real Kung Fu.

When they realize this, his teachers get frustrated. They tell him it is impossible to fill a cup that is already full.

We are full people. We all have things and ideas and attitudes that fill our minds and lives each day. Walking the walk of a Christian is difficult because we are weighed down by what we have allowed to fill our lives.

Beginning next week we will begin a series at Aztec church of Christ where we will be talking about dying to self. But what does that mean? Death is such an intimidating concept.

Dying to self is dying to all the things that fill us that aren’t from God and don’t emulate Jesus. It is an emptying of rue cup so that the nature of Jesus can fill it.

Greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, frustration, impatience, un-forgiveness, busy-ness, addiction, selfishness, sin. All of these things fill our lives and hinder us from living free as God intends for us. The struggles we face in this life come because we are selfish beings who have yet to die to self.

Not all events are in our control, but our reaction to those events are shaped by how much of ourself we have allowed to die and be transformed into Christ’s likeness. Imagine a marriage where both people didn’t seek their own interests but only what God wills – only the love of the other. This can only happen when we die to self.

It’s not easy, and sometimes it’s painful, but then again those ideas only make us afraid because we are consumed with self.

It’s time to die young – to die before your physical death comes. It’s time to put yourself aside and be so focused on God that your life reflects the image of His Son, Jesus. If you die to yourself beforehand, the physical death we all encounter won’t be nearly so intimidating. It’s time to empty your cup so Christ can fill it.

Join us for “Die Young” beginning April 21. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about this concept of dying to yourself then I recommend you read the book “Die Young” by Michael and Hailey DiMarco.

God bless you as your life is transformed because you chose to die to yourself and live for Christ.


Freed Men Living Like Slaves

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Culture is changing rapidly. It used to be that the technology we use was the fastest thing changing in our culture, but I see that the ways we talk and act are keeping in step with the pace of technological change.

Churches, too are changing, though most church leaderships do not want to admit it or do what it takes to address the change.

The thing that alarms me most, however is that the culture of the lives of Christians looks almost exactly like the culture of the lives of non-Christians.

I spend a lot of time on social media and talking to people of various Christian faiths throughout my week. As I interact in those various places I hear and read as much profanity as I would expect from the world. I see the same negative attitudes. There is just as much alcohol abuse and drug addiction. The divorce rate is the same as that of the world. Disrespect is just as rampant.

Why is this? I think it has to do with a couple of definitions that have been skewed over the years.

The first is “Christian”. It is a word that has come to mean anyone who professed a belief that Jesus is the savior. This is NOT the biblical case. A Christian is supposed to be a Christ-follower. The scripture says that even the demons “believe”, and they even tremble at the thought. We claim belief, and so many of us don’t even give it a second though much less have any emotional or intellectual feeling about it.

The next definition that has been morphed over time is the word “grace”. Grace is a gift given to someone who doesn’t deserve that gift. It is paired with “mercy” which is not getting the negative consequences that we deserve. Our society has taken this idea and soaked it in to the point that it has become a license to live just like the world. This is completely different than the idea that Jesus presented. He wanted to make sure that we lived in the world, but he wanted us to look nothing like the world. Jesus never promised you happiness. He never promised you peace. In fact, he said he didn’t come to bring peace.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul makes a statement that is mentioned twice in that book: “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial” (6:12; 10:23). The idea behind this is that we can do all those things, and we will be able to be forgiven of those deeds, but that doesn’t mean they are good nor should we do them.

I can cuss a blue streak, and I can probably be forgiven of that sin, but the path of destruction left in the wake of my tirade is a much longer lasting consequence than I should have caused.

In the book of Hebrews, the writer reminds us that anyone who knows the good he or she ought to do, and doesn’t do it sins.

We are called in Romans 6 to be done with the life of sin. Completely. Totally. Holistically. Done.

What the culture of the church has done, however, is cuddle up with sin as its marriage partner. Jesus made it pretty clear that you must choose your bridegroom. Jesus is not willing to be in a relationship with us where we are living as his bride on Sunday morning and Wednesday night, but we are cheating on him with our girlfriends Selfishness and Sin.

Church, it’s time for a wake-up call. It’s time for the church to rise up and show the world what it means to truly be forgiven for good. We need to show the world the saving grace of Jesus that heals us of our hang-ups and addictions. We need to show the world that Jesus truly is the Master of our lives.

It has been said that the whole world is a slave of sin, but we who are in Christ have been set free from slavery to sin. It’s time to stop living like we are still slaves. You are free! Live in the freedom that comes from living the life God has called you to.

There is much work to be done. Would you join with me In praying that this church culture can change so that the world can be turned upside-down? Would you also pray, as I do, that the change would begin in each one of us?

Thanks. God bless you. And if you need anything, as always, you may contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611.


And You Were Wondering Why?

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I have three children, and as they grow up it is fascinating to watch them learn about the world around them. Sometimes it’s downright hilarious. So many of the things they do as they learn could easily be avoided, but for the sake of learning I allow them to experience certain things.

For example, my son might want to open a certain door in a funny way – again, he’s experimenting with his hands and his body. I warn him that if he does it THAT way he’ll hurt himself. Guess what he does. He does it anyway, and he gets hurt. That part isn’t funny.

The part that is funny is that when he gets hurt, he looks up at me with this bewildered look as if it were my fault that he got hurt. It wasn’t my fault. I tried to warn him. I tried to provide him with the skills he needed to make the right decision and avoid the pain, but he didn’t listen, so he suffered the consequences.

While I may snicker at the experiences of my son or daughter, I have to remember that we are not much better than they are. We still struggle with the same desires and temptations. Or temptations may be bigger and hold greater consequences, but underneath we suffer from the same selfishness.

I know I do it. I want to be in control of my own life. Don’t tell me what to do…I’ll figure it out.

It’s because of this natural reaction in me that I respond to God the way I do.

Do you realize that God has offered the knowledge of how to live in such a way that you have the best life possible? It’s all right there in the bible. We claim to be followers of Christ, but our lives are a mess, and we blame God or question Him about it. We do the same thing my son does to me. We refuse to listen, and then we wonder why God let the bad stuff happen.

The other day, I was listening to Don McLaughlin. He is a great speaker with many wonderful insights into the Christian life. His topic was the section of Ephesians 6 that talks about the armor of God. What he said was totally relevant to all of us.

Basically, he showed us that God has given us this armor in Ephesians 6, but so many times we want to try to live our life our way without putting on the armor. Then, things don’t work out, and we look to God for someone else to blame, when it was our fault all along.

Look at the armor: salvation, righteousness, truth, the good news of peace, faith, the Spirit through the word of God, and prayer. If we have all these things – if we pursue them, then the other things that happen in our lives will work so much better.

We cannot control how other people act, but we can control how we live our lives among those who live theirs.

I want to live with the armor on, because, truly, if you don’t have on the armor, you’ve already been taken a prisoner of war by God’s enemy.

So may you join with me in suiting up. May we begin the fight in our lives, and may the light of God’s presence be evident in us as we vanquish all the flaming arrows of the evil one through the power of God.

If you want to talk more about this armor beginning even with that helmet of salvation, then please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at my office at 245-1611. If you’d like to simply comment on this article, you can do so at www.mrdobbs.org.

God bless you, and may we see victory as we allow God to work in and through us!


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