Tag Archives: sorrow

“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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There is Hope in the Midst of Sorrow

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To be honest with you, I haven’t had time to sit and process all the events of the past week. When I heard the news, I was shocked, and when I heard the ages of the children I was horrified. However, with the candlelight vigil to plan and the countless other people who we’re there to check on, I haven’t spent much time being able to process this myself.

What I do know in the midst of this is that God is still here. He is still active. And He works all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

My children have been very inquisitive about this event. Imagine my three year old and five year old trying to process that other children their age were shot by their own dad. When I think of some of the stories of how this went down it literally stops me in my tracks, and I have to pause for a moment to regain myself.

I cannot imagine being the mother. There are too many “what if’s” to be able to ever be completely healthy after last week. But God still works things out for the good, but your dedication to him is the key.

Look at what it says in Jeremiah:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

God is not the one who orchestrated the events of last week. Even though Christians live their lives daily in dedication to the One True God they still die all over the world. The reason is that Satan is still at work as well, and mankind has free will choice on which of the two they will serve.

What helps me in times like this is not the idea that God will protect me from everything, but that He is guiding me to a better path. He will not necessarily keep me from death or harm, but He will not harm me himself.

He is the only father who will never fail you. He will always love and cherish you. He always protects, but sometimes the protection comes through helping you heal through a difficult time so that you can help others heal and be prepared for tougher times to come. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, the scripture says that God is the God of all comfort, and He comforts us in times of trouble so that we can comfort others when their times come.

We don’t know all the ins and outs of how God protects. We don’t know the extent to which He is continuously working in our lives, but we can trust that as we dedicate our lives to Him, He will work everything out for His good. We just need to seek Him, pray to Him, and call upon Him, and He will deliver us from the captivity of the sin of our lives (see Jeremiah 29).

In John 9, the disciples asked Jesus who was being punished by this particular man being blind. Did he sin or did his parents? Jesus’ reply was neither. This man was blind so that God may be glorified, and as Jesus healed him, God was glorified.

I do not believe that God orchestrated the events of last week. However, I am confident that He is working out everything involved with each person so that if they are seeking Him and praying to Him and calling out to him, then He is working out everything for their good and to His glory.

I know that trusting in this promise is often hard, but we are promised hope, and as we learn to live in that hope, then we will have confidence and peace even in times of intense sorrow.

I hope that you have had a chance to process what our whole community experienced last week with the shooting that occurred. If not, I’d like to encourage you to find a minister in town that you can talk to. Any of our members here at Nichols St. Church of Christ would be honored to speak with you, and I know that the ministers from the various other churches in town feel the same. Please take time and find comfort and peace through talking this out and seeking God. In Acts 17 He promises that He is not far from you. He’s just waiting for you to seek him.

If there’s anything I can do for you in this or the coming weeks, please let me know. You can contact me although the church office at 979-245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net.

God bless you, and may God bless our city as we all continue to seek Him through tough as well as easy times.


Glory in the Face of Grief

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Through the last few years I have embraced social media. I used to have a myspace (until that became lame). I text and Twitter and Facebook and Google+. I even LinkedIn. These have been great tools not only to help me keep in touch with the people I work with as a minister, but they have also allowed me to minister to friends of times past. Nowadays I also use these means to connect with other ministers in order to continue a sharpening of my mind as we discuss the ins and outs of theology and ministry. These men and women are dear friends to me as I strive to be a better minister of the Kingdom of God.

One such ministry friend I have come in contact with is a preacher for a church of Christ in Mississippi. One of his sons is a youth minister in another state. Still living at home is his 21 year old son who is handicapped. Last Monday the wife and 21 year old son of this ministry friend of mine were murdered by a man who had attended their church.

Wow. What do you say to that?

Needless to say this has affected me deeply. I know people who have unexpectedly lost loved ones. Times get tough very quickly. I know ministers who have lost their faith through tragic events such as these. I know Christians who have lost their faith under circumstances much less grave than this!

Wow. Please pray for him, his family, and the community that loves him. There is much hurt there now.

What is our response in the face of such tragedy? Do we cry out and curse God? Do we hide in a hole of depression and let the grief eat away for the rest of our lives? It would be so easy to do either one of those things.

My heart grieves for this man and his family.

Thoughts of this event bring to mind two grand ideas, however. The first idea comes from the fact that God watched as His own son was murdered in cold blood. It was not a crime of passion. It was cold and calculated and merciless. In fact you and I murdered Him with our sins. Acts 2 says “you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to a cross”.

Can you imagine how God must have grieved for the loss of His son? But He was willing to go through that so that you and I could have life and not receive that death in ourselves. What is your response in the face of such love for you? Have you responded to that, or do you keep putting it off until tomorrow?

The second thought that comes to mind is found in Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” If you read it closely, you will see that it says “in all things” (emphasis added).

Am I trying to say that God can work out the murder of this Godly woman and her son for the good of her family and community who are grieving today? Yes! It may seem difficult to grasp in the midst of the whirlwind of grief, but it is a promise from God. No matter what you may be going through or may have gone through, God can – and wants to – work that situation out for your good. Why? So that in all things He may be glorified. You see, if God can turn tragedy into triumph, then He truly is the God of love and mercy – a God worthy to be praised.

How will you respond to such love in the face of your struggles today? I hope you will hold your loved ones a little closer. Even more so, I hope that you will not put off your decision to commit your life to God through Jesus. You never know what today may bring.

Please keep praying for this family. If there is anything I can do you for, or if you have any questions or prayer requests, feel free to contact me at jddobbs@Verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. God bless your day, and may you glorify Him even in the face of grief.


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