Tag Archives: spirit

Asleep in the Boat

Jesus sleepingIt was a dark and stormy night…

Sounds like Snoopy is writing again, eh?

Seriously, the Apostles are in the boat and the wind and waves have picked up because of the storm.  Where is Jesus? Asleep in the bottom of the boat.  HOW CAN HE SLEEP DURING THIS STORM?!

There is much fear on the boat tonight.  They can’t make any headway, and the boat is in danger of capsizing. It seems perfectly logical to be afraid during such a storm in quite a small boat.

Once, when I was a boy, I was fishing on Bull Shoals Lake in North Arkansas with my grandparents.  All of a sudden a huge storm came over the lake.  Waves were crashing over the sides of the bass boat.  Rain was coming down in sheets stinging our faces.  The closest land was an island with rocks on the shoreline – no sand.  We pulled close to shore, and Grandpa put us on the bank while we rode the storm out.  We could see the boat dock but couldn’t make it there because of the ferocity of the storm on the water.

I remember being scared, but only a little, because I trusted my Grandpa.

Jesus is still sleeping.  How can he have such peace during this storm?

The disciples wake Jesus with a jolt.  “Don’t you care if we drown?” They were in the boat with the Creator of the universe, but they didn’t understand. The didn’t yet know the true identity of the One who could sleep during a fierce storm.

Jesus got up and said, “Peace. Be still.”

That’s what I want in me – peace.  Don’t you?

The apostles were afraid because all they could see was the power of the storm they were in at the moment.  They had more trust in the storm than in the One sleeping in the bottom of the boat.  It shocked them that Jesus was able to take charge of the storm the way He did.  Then Jesus scolded them. “Oh you of little faith.  Why are you so afraid?”

Why are you so afraid?

We are afraid because in the storms of life, even though we claim allegiance to the Father, we still struggle for control and therefore put our trust more in the storms than in the One who is bigger than the storm. We put more trust in the chaos than the Creator.  We put more faith in what we see than our Father who loves us and has promised “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

When we find our identity as children of God, of the Father, of Abba (daddy), then what can stir our peace?

Think of the baby sleeping in his or her father’s arms.  Isn’t that peace?

Jesus said that unless we become like little children we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are little children when we put our trust in our Father instead of the storm.  He’s bigger than any storm you can experience.  He may not take you out of the storm, but He promises to bring you peace and comfort through it as you trust in Him and listen to the Spirit living within you.

The more I surrender my selfishness to a life filled with the presence of the Father the more I find peace.  If you want that peace, you can find it too.  If you want to discuss this more feel free to let me know.  I’m always interested in helping others along this path we walk together.  Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near…and life in the Kingdom is so much more fulfilling.


Wearing a T-shirt to a Black Tie Affair



Respect is an idea that is becoming more uncommon in our world. As parents behave like teenagers and raise their children to be even less mature it is a struggle to teach kids basic manners of respecting their elders or even respecting the atmosphere to which they have been invited. 

What would happen if you were invited to have dinner with the governor? Imagine you showed up to this formal event wearing your most comfortable shorts and t-shirt. Would that not give an air of disrespect to the sanctity of the event? Then, when greeted by the governor you refused to shake his or her hand or even acknowledge his or her presence. How long would you expect to be allowed to remain at that dinner?

This concept is not hard.  It is not a foreign concept that has to be militaristicly taught to the upcoming generations. It merely needs to be modeled and then expected. 

Within our churches many have created a much more relaxed atmosphere. God looks at the heart and not the outward appearance.  I believe this is good and creates the inviting atmosphere needed for people to feel comfortable coming and learning about and experiencing Jesus. 

One of the concepts that we trend toward losing in our desire to be colloquial is that of reverence and honor before the Lord. 

When we sing, we are singing to Jehovah, the Creator, in His presence. When we study, we are studying the very words of God. When we see our brothers and sisters, we are encountering those who have been clothed with Christ and in whom lives the Spirit. When we partake of communion, we are partaking of the body and blood that was shed for our sins by the One who Created us. 

Malachi 1:6 says this:

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. (NIV)

When we come together we should be showing our children what reverence looks like. If they do not understand it, then we should be instructing them in the ways of honoring the Lord. 

God accepts us where we are, but He doesn’t leave us there. He wants us to grow in our understanding. He wants us to grow into the image of His Son. “Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10 ESV).”

Next time you’re in worship with your brothers and sisters pour out your heart. Worship the Lord with all of your might. Remember what He  has done and is doing for you every day, and show your children what it means to honor the Lord. God isn’t looking for your suit and tie, but He is looking for your heart of reverence toward Him, and He’s looking to us to instill that mindset and heart of reverence in our children as well. 


An Immovable Object Meets an Unstoppable Force

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Change is inevitable. If you look around you’ll see change everywhere. People change as their bodies grow and they age. Nature changes from day to day due to weather and usage. Minds change as they see a new way that makes more sense. Churches change as they encounter their culture in a new and relevant way. The Word of God doesn’t change, but people constantly change.

Except when they don’t.

Sometimes people look like they are changing, but on the inside they are just putting on a false show. They are doing what is necessary to manipulate the reactions of others around them. They say they want to change, but in reality change is too difficult or scary for them to actually do what is necessary to change. Perhaps they want to put on a show so that others won’t see the selfishness that looms just behind their facade. This is not change. This is putting on a mask in order to stay entrenched in that which makes you comfortable.

Maybe you’re there. Maybe you say you want to change – maybe you really do want to change – but the experience of doing so seems impossible. Maybe you only want to change because you want to see different results in someone else. Maybe you only want to change because you want to get something extra that you see others get. These motivations won’t grant you the success you secretly desire. They will be seen by those you seek to impress as manipulation and covetousness and hypocrisy.

So how do we actually change? We have to want with a different motivation.

I cannot create true change within myself as long as the desires within me are selfish. That word, selfish, defines a certain way of thinking that will only provide temporary strength needed to make change. To truly change, a person must look for strength beyond the superficiality of selfishness. To truly change a person must love.

Love is not self seeking (1 Corinthians 13:5).

When you begin to love then what you desire truly begins to melt away. When you love God, you strive for what He desires in you. You change not because of the benefit to you but out of love for Him.

When you love others you stop doing things to manipulate and coerce your own way. You begin to see and seek the way of others so that you can help them and serve them in whatever capacity needed. This is not for accolades. This is because you love them and have died to self.

When you love God and love others you will begin to do your best in all things. Laziness melts away for there is always something to be done for someone. You find yourself finally doing all the things you’ve been putting off for procrastination is selfishness. You become a model worker, spouse, parent, child.

When you learn the way of love you finally begin the journey of the life you were meant for. You begin to find satisfaction within yourself that cannot be taken away. Even when others chastise you, they are not able to tear you down for you are on a journey not guided by selfishness but by love…even for them.

This way of love mends all relationships: marriages, workplaces, families, churches.

When we find the way of love we will change. For some it will happen almost overnight. For others it may take a while. But in every case the people around will begin to notice that we’ve changed. We no longer look like our old self (that was supposed to be crucified when we came to Jesus). Now we begin to look more and more like Jesus to the world around us.

May you find change, and may the change be motivated by love as you grow into the image of Jesus.


It is for Freedom Christ has set us Free

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We live in the greatest free country on the planet…well, almost. We do live in the greatest country on the planet, but it’s not necessarily free, and more people are taking notice every day.

One of the hottest discussion points around the country these days is the new verdict about what is referred to as “Obamacare”. The Supreme Court ruled that is was perfectly fine for them to impose this regulation on the general public. I don’t want to get into my preferences about this policy, but I do want to note that if this goes through it will be another example of the government taking away one of our freedoms.

We already have regulations wherever we turn. We have regulations on how we drive. We have regulations on how we raise our children. We have regulations on how we provide food for our family. We have regulations on how and what we teach our children.

We aren’t allowed to make any money without paying some of it to the government. Some of your money goes to helping poor people whether you like it or not. And now, if nothing changes, you will be forced to have health insurance whether you can afford it or not.

Some of these things frustrate me, and some of these things are great in order for us to have an orderly way of living. Granted, if certain rules weren’t in place there would be mass chaos. We need laws to maintain order in the country. However, this is not necessarily a “free” country.

Churches often have the same kinds of laws. Some churches dictate how you dress. Some churches dictate where you sit. You are instructed when to sit and when to stand. You are told what to believe about certain things, and in many churches you are ostracized if you believe differently than the masses. All of this makes me think of a verse in Galatians 5.

“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.”

Are you free? You may say so, but then again you may be bound by traditions and regulations. Apparently we are called to be free.

What does this mean, then? Do we throw out everything for the sake of freedom? Not just yet.

This freedom comes in a certain way of perceiving the world around us. When you come to Christ, and you devote your life to him, then you are called to have the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is in total love with God, and it follows the will of God wherever it goes.

Does that mean it is a slave to God? Not really. What are the laws of God? Love God and love your neighbor. That’s it – just two. Every other command we read in scripture is merely a commentary on how to do those two laws.

When you get to the point that you love God, then it is a result of that love that you begin loving your neighbor. When your mind comes into alignment with the mind of Christ, then what you want IS to obey those two laws. You are totally free, and you can quit whenever you want, but the more you love God and others the more you find that you really like this way of living. It is so much more fulfilling than a life of selfishness.

The laws (written and unwritten) within churches aren’t necessarily bad, but if they are given without being couched in the context of the two laws of God, then they are merely man made rules that do not serve the church well at all.

The best thing about being free in Christ is the concept of grace. We are free to do what we want. What we want is hopefully to fulfill the two laws of God in our lives. When we mess up we have grace. We may deserve to be punished for our transgression of the law of love, but because He loves us, He forgives us over and over again through the blood of Christ.

Most of the “laws” in churches are traditions. When we truly grasp the freedom in loving God and loving our neighbor, then we will be free to extend grace ourselves when others don’t match up to or behave in the way of our expectations.

This week is Independence week. Let us throw off the shackles of slavery to sin. Let us be truly free in Christ to live in the mind of Christ. Let us love unendingly, and let us extend the grace of God to others daily. This, truly, is much more fulfilling than the alternative.

If there is anything I can do for you, feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. You can also join the conversation about this as well as my other articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you as you live I the freedom found in Christ.

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What to do when we wait

Can you imagine the situation of the apostles? Their leader, whom they had lived in close quarters with for the last three years has now been taken prisoner. They were trying him unjustly and illegally so as to frame him for crimes he did not commit. Then, they planned to kill him.

And they succeeded. They killed Jesus.

We speak often about Friday, and we preach about Sunday, but what about Saturday? It was on Saturday that they had to wait.

I don’t think this was a comfortable waiting either. They must have been constantly questioning themselves. Is that it? Was he really who he said he was? Did we just waste three good years of our lives? What’s next? He talked about rising from the dead, but what if it doesn’t happen? There had to be much trepidation in the hours between the cross and the empty tomb.

Read the account for yourself. Have you ever thought of what it must have been like?

We wait all the time, don’t we? We wait at restaurants, stores, doctors’ offices, amusement parks, airports, even the DMV. It is inevitable that sometime during your day you will have to wait for something. You’re not alone. Everyone waits.

What do you do with the time that you must spend waiting? Some people tap their foot and wrinkle their brow and become increasingly disgruntled. You know the pattern…they start mumbling about how slow this is and how much of a hurry they are in. They become rude to the people who are doing their best to serve them. God forbid they have to wait.

Is this you? I hope not. Waiting doesn’t have to be a negative time of your day. In fact, the next time you wait – for anything – try one of these few ideas.

First, remember the apostles on that lonely Saturday. What did they do? They prayed. Waiting is a great opportunity to pause and spend time in the presence of God in prayer. He wants to hear from you, and the only way you’ll have a great relationship with Him is to talk to Him. Pray for all kinds of things that you are going through, but don’t forget to pray for those who are making you have to wait. Perhaps they are having something worse than waiting that is going on with them.

Second, spend some time in the word. We live in the age of tiny technology. If you have a smartphone, you can access the mobile version of biblegateway.com, or you can download the youversion app or the logos app. All these are free, and they are great resources for reading the bible in whatever translation you desire on the go. I use all three of these at different times, and they are really great! More than just reading the word, though, just read a verse or two, and meditate on that passage. You will find God often speaks to you through His word in ways that cut right to what you are dealing with, even if it’s a struggle with being patient while you wait for that incredibly slow train that is cutting the town in half while you are trying to get the kids to school on time.

Lastly, just breathe. Take deep breaths and relax and let the cares slide right off of your shoulders. Sometimes we need to create peace times in our days, and waiting in line or at the red light can help fill those peaceful needs.

Jesus came to bring us peace. I think it was a powerful lesson in trust that the apostles went through on the Saturday so long ago as they waited for their messiah to be raised. You are faced with the same trust questions. Do you trust that God is in control even of this very situation? Do you trust that he works all things for your good (Romans 8:28)?

May you see waiting times as joyful opportunities rather than painful detours to your carefully planned schedule. Besides, when we tell God our plans He probably has a pretty good chuckle at our expense. He is always in control, and he wants us to allow Him to guide our lives so that Jeremiah 29:11 can be fulfilled in us.

If there is ever anything I can do for you, please call me at 245-1611, or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you all!


Are You the Puppet or the Puppeteer?

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I have two dogs. One is a black Lab, and the other is a Weimaraner. The Lab is docile but mischievous, and the Weimaraner is curious, hyper and ditzy. The Lab’s name is Katy and the Weimaraner’s name is Mija.

I have not been incredibly fond of Mija. She steals food from Katy, is overly rambunctious, and excited pees on my floors. She is also difficult to take out on a leash.

When I first started walking with Mija she would be all over the place. She would try to yank my arm out of socket. Then she would wrap me up in the leash. Then she would be between my legs. Then she would be sniffing something interesting and not want to keep going. She desperately wanted to be in control. But there was one problem for her. She was on a leash, and I am bigger than her.

When she would be all over the place and not listening to commands, I would get frustrated. OK; that’s an understatement. Nevertheless, the more frustrated I got the worse she behaved. I actually had to finally put a choker chain on her as we went for walks. She learned by way of this very quickly.

If you’ve never seen a choker chain for a dog, it works like this: the more they pull away, the tighter it gets around their neck. So, in essence, when they pull away they are choking themselves, but when they behave and walk as intended, then the collar loosens and they are comfortable again. I know that some people think this is cruel, but it works quickly and effectively.

After one session on the choker chain Mija is walking on the leash fine and doesn’t need it. Now, if I wait too long before walking her again, chances are that she will re-develop bad habits again, and we may have to re-introduce the choker chain to remind her of the rules to walking on a leash.

As I think about Mija, however, I realize that I shouldn’t get too frustrated with her. So many times I am just like her, only God is the one giving the directions.

What Mija doesn’t understand is that I have to curb her wild instincts so that she won’t get in trouble, and so that we can help her survive in a comfortable lifestyle as part of our family. It is a blessing for her to live with us.

What I don’t understand often times is that God is doing the same thing. He is trying to give me direction for my life, but I want to do things my own way. If only I would trust that God’s way is best, I would find out that life is so much richer. When I try to do things my own way, something always goes wrong.

In Galatians it talks about how everyone who has been baptized into Christ has clothed themselves with Christ (Galatians 3:27). Romans 8:9 says that we who are “of Christ” have the Spirit of Christ living inside us as well. Inside and out we are covered in Christ. Today I heard a preacher talking about how often we try to fit Jesus and his will into our lives instead of trying to fit our lives into His will. It’s much like trying to tell God what you’re both going to do that day.

“Jesus, I know it would be more beneficial to worship with the Saints this Sunday, but I’m so tired, so I think we’ll just stay home today.” When it’s written like this it seems pretty silly, but we do just this every time we choose to tear someone down or get drunk or disobey our parents or mess around with someone who isn’t our spouse. We even do this when we make a choice not to do something that we should be doing. James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

We are called to allow the Spirit of Christ to be in control. When we don’t, He allows us to reap the consequences of our actions, and we can choose to learn from those consequences like Mija did on the choker chain, or we can remain stubborn and live a life far short of what God has intended for us.

You see, God has this wonderful plan for your life so that it can be the best life possible (Jeremiah 29:11), but if we don’t allow Him to be our puppeteer – if we try to cut the strings and still claim to be His – then we end up with a very messed up life indeed.

This coming Sunday is the beginning of a new year. It’s a great time for a fresh start, and God is great about allowing us to start over any time we are ready. Are you ready to make the decision to allow God to help you find true life in the midst of this messed up world? Are you tired of always messing up because you are always in control? He created you. You are His, and He loves you beyond your comprehension. He has a great plan for you. Do you trust Him?

If you’d like to know more about giving your life to God and having your sins washed away so that you never have to worry about them again, please feel free to contact me. You can reach me at the office at 979-245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you, and may you have a truly happy new year as you allow God to be in control once again.


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