Tag Archives: Storm

Practicing Perspective

What’s the difference between a happy person and a miserable one?

Have you ever noticed some people are always happy? They seem to find the best possible outcome of every situation. When you speak to them, you leave feeling better about yourself and the world around you.

Then there are also people who are always down. Talking with them sucks the life out of you. Nothing seems to go right for them. The world is out to get them.

What’s the difference?

Perspective.

There are people all over the world who scrape by to make ends meet. They aren’t sure where their next meal is going to come from, yet they share with others. They laugh heartily. They sing and smile. They have joy. For many people, to be in such dire circumstances would be more than they could bear, yet for these people, what they do not have is insignificant to what they do.

They have a different perspective on life.

Tragedy seems to come in threes. It may present with more or fewer troubling circumstances, but three seems to be the common, magic number. When problems begin to stack on one another, it is harder to breathe. It’s like stones are being stacked on our chest, and all we can think about are those stones crushing and suffocating the life out of us. We are absolutely sure the stones will kill us. But they don’t. They haven’t yet. And they don’t have to in the future.

Nothing is permanent in this life. Things are temporal. Pleasure is temporal. Life is temporal. Even your personality can be changed (and likely has already). Change is the only constant in this life.

That should bring hope to everyone. The storm you’re in is temporary.

What we tend to do, however, is focus on our storms.

When you’re dealing with tragedy in your life, all you can concentrate on is the tragedy. You eat, sleep, and breathe this tragedy, and when you do, it crushes you. Those who have that contagious joy don’t have fewer tragedies; they simply see through the tragedy to hope.

When you’re in a relationship that is struggling, it is easy to see all the negative in the relationship, and especially in the other person. So how do people find joy in relationships? Are they somehow blessed with fewer struggles? NO! They choose to see the good in the relationship and the other person in spite of the current struggle. When that happens, they resolve conflict more quickly and feel happier in the relationship.

So how do we gain this new perspective that breathes life?

1. We remember that this life is fleeting, and we have been given hope of resurrection, forgiveness, and inheritance through Jesus Christ. If you’ve been saved in Jesus, you have this hope. It needs to drive your life. This life and its troubles is not all there is. And Jesus promised to be with us, so we are never alone in our troubles.

2. We look for the good going on around us and in other people even in the storm. This will take practice. We, in our consumeristic, selfish culture, are used to seeing the problems more than the solutions in ourselves, others, and the situations we find ourselves in. It is discipleship to hope for good through love (1 Corinthians 13; Philippians 2:14).

3. Once we find the good (in self, others, situations, etc.), we focus on that. Satan will try to tempt us back into focusing on the negative and being consumed by darkness, but we don’t have to give in. When we focus on the good in our spouses, we fight less. When we focus on the good in even the worst situation, we find hope faster. When we focus on the good in us, we fight depression.

These steps aren’t easy, but they’re necessary. They take practice, especially if you’re used to seeing the negative. May we all find perspective that breathes joy in this world in spite of this world.

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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.


Waiting for a Tornado

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Several years ago I was heading back home to Ash Flat, Arkansas from a lectureship in Tennessee. The day of driving was filled with intensity as storms developed all around us. I counted 18 tornados that formed and crossed the highway within ten minutes behind us all the way home.

When we got into Arkansas we were having trouble contacting people at home because of the storms. About half an hour away from home we hit a wall of wind that nearly stopped the 15 passenger van we were riding in. After we got through the wall of the storm we got the call.

My friends Greg and Kendal were riding with us; they lived in Highland, and we were to drop them off on our way just past them to Ash Flat. The call basically said “Highland is gone”.

That evening, while we were traveling home, an EF4 tornado skirted the outside of Ash Flat and demolished Highland. In fact, houses on the same block as my friends’ house were damaged by the twister. The devastation was intense.

The next day we began to survey the situation. The temps the day of the tornado were in the 70s, but the next morning there was snow falling from the sky. Businesses and homes of friends were destroyed. No lives were lost, but everyone’s life was disrupted.

This week we are watching the story unfold of the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. I am seeing the devastation. I see the same looks on people’s faces that I saw the year of our tornado.

I see something else that I saw before: hope. During times of crisis people band together and help one another out no matter their race or economic status. People don’t care what church others go to or what they believe. In times of crisis we are all humans helping out our brothers and sisters in the storm.

I am saddened by the tragedy, but I am encouraged by the selfless love poured out in such an event.

We shouldn’t wait until there is a catastrophe for us to treat each other with the kind of love and selflessness being shown in Oklahoma right now and Arkansas before. We should be praying for each other and our country at all times. We should be searching for life in all circumstances. To this we are called as followers of the One who showed compete humility and self-sacrifice and love on our behalf through the excruciating experience of the cross.

I am praying for Oklahoma today. I am also praying for you. Let us find unity in Christ and selfless love now instead of waiting until something bad happens. Then we will truly have a wonderful life.


It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

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It was a dark and stormy night, but the storms on this night weren’t in the atmosphere, they were in his spirit. Jesus was there, in the garden, wrestling in prayer for you and for me. The sin of all mankind had been laid upon him, and he was exhausted.

His friends were exhausted too, and they showed it by their inability to stay awake in watch as their rabbi prayed in distress. So many storms.

As he prayed his body trembled from the hematidrosis – an exhausting condition where the stress is so great that the capillaries in one’s skin burst and the blood mixes with sweat so that one literally “sweats blood”. Why was he so stressed? He had just taken on not just the sin, but the guilt of every sin ever committed past, present, and future. He felt guilty for everything that had ever been done and everything that would ever be done. It was crushing him, and he was sweating blood as he cried in anguish and trepidation.

“Let this cup pass from me” was his prayer. Why? Because the God of the universe was about to make Jesus drink the cup of punishment that had been filled with the sins of the masses. Jesus was about to die, and he knew it.

Even though there was such a storm brewing in his spirit that night, it was clear what the choice needed to be. “Not my will but Yours be done.”

Soon after there was the sound of heavy footsteps and the flash of the moon glinting off metal. Soldiers were coming. A whole squad of soldiers and religious leaders were coming armed with swords and clubs and spears. Here is Jesus, unarmed and with a rag-tag bunch of nobodies. Why did they feel the need to come at him so fully armed?

As Jesus and the disciples heard the oncoming ruckus, they stood up with Jesus at the forefront of the group. The leader of the army sent to arrest him? Judas – one of Jesus’ trusted twelve – the traitor.

Jesus calmly asked the group, “who is it you are looking for?”

“Jesus of Nazareth” was their reply.

What happens next can only be explained in context of a previous conversation Jesus had with the religious leaders of the day. They were trying to trap Jesus in blasphemy, and Jesus was accusing them of always getting rid of the prophets. Jesus was trying to get them to see that Abraham prophesied about Jesus, but they wouldn’t listen. Jesus, then, called them out.

He told them they weren’t children of Abraham. In fact, he went further to say that they were children of the devil. Then, he said something even more blasphemous: “Before Abraham was born, I Am.” Their reaction was swift and harsh as they picked up stones to kill Jesus because they remembered another conversation many, many years before.

Moses is watching his flock when he notices a bush on the mountain called Sinai. This bush is burning, but there is no charring – the bush never burns up. Moses approaches and God proceeds to talk to him from the bush. As God calls Moses to a major mission, Moses asks who he should say sent him. God replies, “I Am who I Am. Tell them I Am sent you.”

They had said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth.

“I Am.”

How he said it is not as important as the implication of what was just said. Jesus just used the same terminology as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus just said He is God.

As this statement sinks in quickly through the ranks of the soldiers they fall to the ground – stunned.

Jesus had rendered the mob defenseless with two words, “I Am.”

He knew he was going to die. He knew he needed to die so that all those billions of people who ever lived and ever would live could truly have life, but he was going down on his terms.

Peter got excited and took a swing with his sword but missed his mark. Instead, an ear was cut off, but Jesus healed that too. It was then that Jesus explained things to Peter. “This sword is not our way of doing things. If I wanted to fight they would have no defense against the legions of angels at my disposal.”

Previously, Jesus had said (John 10) that no one would take His life from Him. Jesus had the power to lay his life down, and he was going to raise it back up.

Judas, the traitor finally came up and kissed Jesus on the cheek to signify the betrayal. Judas had just earned his 30 pieces of silver. This betrayal was not necessary. Jesus had already given himself over to them.

Jesus was bound and tried and beaten, and beaten, and mocked, and beaten some more, and eventually crucified. As he was hanging on that cross sin after sin was being dealt with. The justice of God was being appeased through this one act. When every sin had been taken care of Jesus cried out, “It is finished.”

Isaiah 53:4-5
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

What happened next is the power of Jesus. No one dies quickly on a cross. It could take up to 48 hours for a person to die this way. Jesus gave up his spirit and died voluntarily.

He died for you and me – on purpose – of his own will.

Then, that glorious Sunday morning so long ago, he rose from the dead to prove that he really is God, your sins really are forgiven, and you really can have eternal life through him. The one who laid down a mob with two words raised from the dead. He is the glorious first fruits of those who raise from the dead – and that can include you and me.

This is the good news of Easter. May you celebrate this Sunday and every day that the God of the universe cares enough about you to give up everything to save you. May you see where your life is disconnected from God and come back. Jesus has already made the way for you.


Songbirds Sing, Storms Rage, and We Are Silent

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First of all this week I’d like to say to everyone who is reading my articles either in the Matagorda Advocate or on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org, Thank You! I really appreciate your willingness to ponder these posts. Please shoot me a message from time to time letting me know what you think. I love feedback of all kinds. That being said, on to my article:

Let’s take a trip through a day. It could be any day, but you are in it.

As you open your eyes you see the glint of sunlight through the curtains. You squint because it seems entirely too early to be awake, but hey it’s time to get up. The morning is cool, and as you let your dog outside to do its business you feel the gentle breeze across your face. The air is cool and inviting.

Overhead you hear the sounds of several birds singing their melodies. What are they singing? Who knows, but it is beautiful.

After a quick bite and a much needed wake-me-up shower you dash off to work. Person after person connects with you as deadlines must be met and customers must be satisfied.

On your way home at the end of the day you are exhausted. The windows are down, and you have the music up in the car. Ah, your favorite song on the radio – just what you needed to unwind.

After dinner it’s time to relax on the back patio where you sip evening coffee under a blanket of stars. As you look up you can just make out the milky way, then a shooting star just catches your eye. You can hear the jet overhead but you can’t see it, and in the distance a storm is brewing. The flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder just barely make it to where you are sitting.

As you lay your head down for the night, you drift off to the sound of raindrops tapping out a rhythm on your window. Rainy evenings are your favorite times to sleep.

While this all seems very utopian, we get some parts of this in every day. Maybe you did feel the gentle breeze this morning. Maybe the sunlight is what woke you from your slumber. Maybe it rained. Maybe you got to enjoy the stars.

The question isn’t whether or not these things happen. What matters is whether or not you noticed them.

For most of us the days are not serene. We struggle through days of chaos with children and frustrating coworkers and school and work and deadlines and stress and more stress. We barely have time to taste our food. We are on the go busy, busy, busy.

No wonder God seems so distant. Maybe this is exactly what Satan wants for us.

As society becomes busier it becomes less spiritual.

When I’m busy and focused on the million things I have to worry about, then it’s easy to look over the song of the bird that was sent by God to sing His praises for me to enjoy. God did that for me, but I was too busy to notice.

When my kids and coworkers are all screaming at me then I can’t hear the sounds of the rain or enjoy the breeze on my face. I don’t even see the beauty and majesty of God’s handiwork in those other people when I’m consumed with what needs to get done or what others think about me.

For so many people the language of the presence of God is absent. We don’t talk about how the God of the Universe was trying to get our attention today. We don’t discuss things like possible lyrics to the songbird’s melody or the attributes of God declared by the storm’s intensity. We talk about the here and now that is tangible. We are distracted, and it is pretty obvious.

People, the presence of God is all around us. We cannot escape it, yet we live as if God doesn’t exist and we are the true gods of this world.

Everything in creation declares the praise of God. Even the individual atoms and molecules are bouncing around in their dance to the Creator’s praise. Our bodies at the molecular level declare the glory of the One True God, but how often do our bodies on the macro level do the same?

I recently watched a video where Louie Giglio had some fun with sounds from pulsars and whale songs. He created a mashup that allowed his congregants to sing along with parts of creation. His intent was to show that our chorus of praise is only a small part of a grander orchestra of worship being exhibited across the universe continually.

Yet we, the humble humans, are called God’s Masterpiece.

I have seen things that took my breath away. I have heard things that convulsed me to tears of joy and worship. Yet God says I am more awesome than those things.

In the commotion of the universe as it sings it’s praise to the Creator, He leans out over the edge of heaven and strains an ear for your worship. He longs to hear your melody. He put it in you; you just have to be willing to let it out.

Once you begin to live in the presence of God – where everything points you back to Him and His majesty, then you will understand better the purpose of your own worship. You have been called to join in the chorus of the universe, and you sing God’s favorite part.

May you sing with all your heart and every fiber of your being. May your worship inspire others to do the same, and may you see the presence of God in everything, for He is desperately trying to woo you to Him. Don’t believe me? Take one long look at the cross.

As always, if there is anything I can do for you please feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. God bless your week!


It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

20120403-144040.jpg

It was a dark and stormy night, but the storms on this night weren’t in the atmosphere, they were in his spirit. Jesus was there, in the garden, wrestling in prayer for you and for me. The sin of all mankind had been laid upon him, and he was exhausted.

His friends were exhausted too, and they showed it by their inability to stay awake in watch as their rabbi prayed in distress. So many storms.

As he prayed his body trembled from the hematidrosis – an exhausting condition where the stress is so great that the capillaries in one’s skin burst and the blood mixes with sweat so that one literally “sweats blood”. Why was he so stressed? He had just taken on not just the sin, but the guilt of every sin ever committed past, present, and future. He felt guilty for everything that had ever been done and everything that would ever be done. It was crushing him, and he was sweating blood as he cried in anguish and trepidation.

“Let this cup pass from me” was his prayer. Why? Because the God of the universe was about to make Jesus drink the cup of punishment that had been filled with the sins of the masses. Jesus was about to die, and he knew it.

Even though there was such a storm brewing in his spirit that night, it was clear what the choice needed to be. “Not my will but Yours be done.”

Soon after there was the sound of heavy footsteps and the flash of the moon glinting off metal. Soldiers were coming. A whole squad of soldiers and religious leaders were coming armed with swords and clubs and spears. Here is Jesus, unarmed and with a rag-tag bunch of nobodies. Why did they feel the need to come at him so fully armed?

As Jesus and the disciples heard the oncoming ruckus, they stood up with Jesus at the forefront of the group. The leader of the army sent to arrest him? Judas – one of Jesus’ trusted twelve – the traitor.

Jesus calmly asked the group, “who is it you are looking for?”

“Jesus of Nazareth” was their reply.

What happens next can only be explained in context of a previous conversation Jesus had with the religious leaders of the day. They were trying to trap Jesus in blasphemy, and Jesus was accusing them of always getting rid of the prophets. Jesus was trying to get them to see that Abraham prophesied about Jesus, but they wouldn’t listen. Jesus, then, called them out.

He told them they weren’t children of Abraham. In fact, he went further to say that they were children of the devil. Then, he said something even more blasphemous: “Before Abraham was born, I Am.” Their reaction was swift and harsh as they picked up stones to kill Jesus because they remembered another conversation many, many years before.

Moses is watching his flock when he notices a bush on the mountain called Sinai. This bush is burning, but there is no charring – the bush never burns up. Moses approaches and God proceeds to talk to him from the bush. As God calls Moses to a major mission, Moses asks who he should say sent him. God replies, “I Am who I Am. Tell them I Am sent you.”

They had said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth.

“I Am.”

How he said it is not as important as the implication of what was just said. Jesus just used the same terminology as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus just said He is God.

As this statement sinks in quickly through the ranks of the soldiers they fall to the ground – stunned.

Jesus had rendered the mob defenseless with two words, “I Am.”

He knew he was going to die. He knew he needed to die so that all those billions of people who ever lived and ever would live could truly have life, but he was going down on his terms.

Peter got excited and took a swing with his sword but missed his mark. Instead, an ear was cut off, but Jesus healed that too. It was then that Jesus explained things to Peter. “This sword is not our way of doing things. If I wanted to fight they would have no defense against the legions of angels at my disposal.”

Previously, Jesus had said (John 10) that no one would take His life from Him. Jesus had the power to lay his life down, and he was going to raise it back up.

Judas, the traitor finally came up and kissed Jesus on the cheek to signify the betrayal. Judas had just earned his 30 pieces of silver. This betrayal was not necessary. Jesus had already given himself over to them.

Jesus was bound and tried and beaten, and beaten, and mocked, and beaten some more, and eventually crucified. As he was hanging on that cross sin after sin was being dealt with. The justice of God was being appeased through this one act. When every sin had been taken care of Jesus cried out, “It is finished.”

Isaiah 53:4-5
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

What happened next is the power of Jesus. No one dies quickly on a cross. It could take up to 48 hours for a person to die this way. Jesus gave up his spirit and died voluntarily.

He died for you and me – on purpose – of his own will.

Then, that glorious Sunday morning so long ago, he rose from the dead to prove that he really is God, your sins really are forgiven, and you really can have eternal life through him. The one who laid down a mob with two words raised from the dead. He is the glorious first fruits of those who raise from the dead – and that can include you and me.

This is the good news of Easter. May you celebrate this Sunday and every day that the God of the universe cares enough about you to give up everything to save you. May you see where your life is disconnected from God and come back. Jesus has already made the way for you.

If you would like to know more about having a relationship with Christ, please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at 245-1611. You can also catch me on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you this Easter and always.


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