Tag Archives: Texas

R.E.M. Was Right

“It’s the end of the world a we know it…” But I don’t feel fine.

Our world seems to be crumbling all around us. Media shows us atrocities daily stemming from numerous causes. As we watch these things happen, and experience these horrors either firsthand, or through a loved one, we can’t help but feel somewhat hopeless.

But why are all these things happening?

Some want to blame this, that, and the other. Others want to avoid the question altogether. But few are really speaking into the reason for the tragedies we are witnessing daily.

Our world wants nothing to do with God and the hope He offers.

FORGETTING THE PAST

60 years ago, Christianity was thriving. Churches were growing, but it was the beginning of the era of decline for the church. As people began experimenting with the New Age movement during the Hippy Era, and some traded religion for science, skepticism set into our culture, and the church did nothing.

It was easy for the church to do so. She had been the primary influencer in nearly all of society for ages. This understanding allowed people to believe that culture would convert their friends and family. In the USA, Christianity had been a primary influence even in government.

So, when times changed, instead of renewing the vigor for evangelism, the church simply watched. It wasn’t everyone in the church, but it was the majority, and that was enough to begin the decline.

IGNORING THE PROBLEM

Instead of reaching out to the lost with love and grace, the church fought against one another, striving to declare each sect the “right” sect – forgetting that sectarianism (division) is expressly condemned by the scriptures. The church was busy blaming one another as the masses began to leave. Fed up with the hypocrisy of “I’m right, and you’re wrong”, the world turned against the church. And, in turn, it turned against God.

However, instead of identifying the lack of God and His principles in society, everyone continued to blame one another or blame things. We blame God, Satan, video games, guns, science, illegal immigrants, other denominations, other religions, other races, politicians, and many more. The list goes on and on. But we don’t blame free will. We don’t dare take any of the responsibility, either. That would mean we would have to change – if we were the problem.

In the age of the apathy of the church, she began to atrophy.

No longer is the average Christian evangelistic. This has been the case for a long while. Shortly after the church was established, the church allowed the government to be the great evangelist through a partnership of the church with the state. As time went by, we assumed people inherently believed in God because of the cultural influence of the church, so we waited for the preachers to do the evangelism. All the while, we got fat with teaching from those same preachers.

When you eat and eat and eat, but you never exercise, you become fat through your laziness. This is the nature of the church. She, her members, want the preachers to preach and teach and evangelize; all the while the masses in her ranks can feel comfort and connection with God through education and emotional experiences once a week (three times if you’re “devout”). Where is all the action of the church like we read about in the book of Acts?!

FACING THE FUTURE

If the church (THAT MEANS YOU) doesn’t return to her calling according to Jesus in the scriptures, she will die. Sure, God can keep a remnant, like He has done for thousands of years, but should we really hope for that?

Shouldn’t we rather get out of our doors? Shouldn’t we discover how to use this wealth of knowledge that is imparted to us every week? Shouldn’t we return to the mission of the first church – the Kingdom of God and it’s expansion through love?

How many people have you brought to Christ? I’m not talking about inviting people to church. I’m talking about actually sharing the good news of Jesus with someone.

SEEKING HELP

You know what? If you went to your preacher, or some other evangelistic leader in your church, and asked them how to share the gospel with your friends, I think you would find them more than willing to spend one-on-one time training you in the ways of evangelism. But that’s going to require you to do uncomfortable things and spend valuable time on others. Is that any less than what Jesus has already done for you?

Do you want to change the direction of this world? This change begins with you finding one person who is willing to listen to how love, through Christ, can change their heart.

Immorality is a choice made from free-will. It is sin. It is not the will of God, and it doesn’t have to rule us or our friends. But until someone is given the choice, how can they begin anew?

Romans 10:14-15
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Advertisements

Thank God for the Rain

  So much of the outcome of our daily lives is determined by our perspective. 

When Jody and I were getting married we had a beautiful service planned. We had picked out a great spot in a park with a huge gazebo.  We got chairs and decorations for everyone to sit on the grass out front while Jody and I, the minister, and the bridal party stood in the gazebo. This set up would allow for us to have a sound system so that I could sing while Jody was being escorted down the aisle. It was a picture-perfect plan. 

Then it rained. 

It didn’t just rain a little. We had been in a drought that year, and it was like God was saving all the rain for our wedding day. I kept thinking about that line in an Alanis Morissette song, “it’s like raaaain on your wedding day”.

We were going to take pictures before the wedding after a private moment between Jody and me, but instead of taking our pictures on a sunny day in a beautiful park with a gorgeous gazebo, we took pictures in the hotel lobby. Jody and I were already planning on being barefoot, but now the whole female side of the wedding party was going to have to go shoeless. I drove to every store I could think of to find umbrellas for the wedding party that would match the girls’ dresses (which I miraculously found). 

When the time came for the wedding the guests had to stand in the gazebo. With us. Crowded together in an intimate ceremony. Instead of singing while Jody was escorted down the aisle, I had to wait until we were face to face and sing.  The bridal party even had to jump a small, newly formed creek just to get to the gazebo. 

When the minister began to speak he said something I’ll never forget. “In Africa, rain is always a blessing.” 

Jody and I still think it was the most beautiful wedding we could have had. We love the rain. 

Lately it’s been raining. A lot. Since we live in the desert we are overjoyed at the rain, but it doesn’t bring joy for all people. Some people can’t stand the rain. Some people get depressed when it rains. Some people get frustrated that their plans have to change when it rains. 

It’s all a matter of perspective. 

In Jesus we are called to have a perspective shift. When the storms of life rage around us we have the Holy Spirit living inside us as a guide through the storm. When we’ve created the storm we have a God who loves us and has promised to turn everything for our good because we love Him. 

He has not promised to take away the storms, but He wants to help us have a more positive perspective within them. Remember, God invented rainbows, but you don’t get those without first enduring the rain. 


No Matter What: Unity must come first.

20121023-102034.jpg

I was born in South Texas. Before I was born, my mother became friends with another lady from their church who had a son a few months before I was born. From the day I was born we have been friends. I only see him on a rare occasion any more, but when we have seen each other over the years, we have picked up where we left off and had a great time.

In fact, it’s wonderful to know that he is still my friend. When we were boys I gave him a black eye, and when we were teenagers I knocked out his front tooth while playing basketball in my driveway.

Does he believe the same things as me on certain hot-button issues? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. I find peace in knowing that he is simply my friend – no matter what.

Isn’t it great to have friends like that? Do you have friends like that? Do you have friends that it doesn’t matter what they do or what they believe because you’ll be friends with them no matter what?

In our churches and in society today we are very opinionated on what is truth and what is not. We hold our guns to what we believe, and we are proud to do so. In election years we make sure everyone knows who we are voting for, and we treat those who are voting the other way like they are mere morons.

Is that friendship? Is that unity?

As Christians, I can’t find anyone who would argue against the idea that we are called to love one another. It’s one of the two greatest commands. In that, however, we are called to unity.

Jesus said that all people will know if you are a disciple of his if you love one another.

Here’s how Paul puts it in Romans 15:1-7:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

We are not called to make sure the other person completely agrees with us before we will accept them as a friend and love them. We are called to unity first. We are called to love first. Then, as we grow in love for them we have the freedom to express our differences in the safety of that love relationship.

You may completely disagree with the social stances of your brother or sister in Christ, but you better not disown them. You may not agree with the doctrinal conclusions of a certain denomination, but you have no right on this earth to condemn them. You are called to love them, and show others your Christ-likeness by your love for them.

Sure, you can disagree. It is good to disagree. If we always agreed on everything then someone in this relationship isn’t thinking for themselves. But when we place ourselves on the seat of judgment in condemnation of another person because they disagree with us on some issue, then we take God off that seat in order to do so. My friends, that is idolatry, and the god you are worshipping is yourself.

Jesus said that if someone isn’t against Him then they are for Him (Mark 9:38-40).

The next time you feel the urge to condemn someone for their views remember what Jesus says. Remember what Paul said. Act accordingly. When we bear with one another and love them regardless – no matter what – we will find that we are much happier…and they are too.

So, lets be people of peace and unity. May we find ways to encourage one another and build one another up in the faith. And, in all things, let us love one another deeply as Christ has loved us. Remember, He didn’t die for you once you finally got your life right; He died for you while you were still a rank, heathen, sinner also known as an “enemy of God” (Romans 5:10). Let us treat one another in like manner – no matter what.

If you’d like to discuss this further, then feel free to comment on this article at http://www.mrdobbs.org or shoot me an email at jddobbs@verizon.net. Blessings to you as you seek unity no matter what.


I Hereby Declare War on all Mosquitos…and other things

20120821-203337.jpg

I read in the news today that two more people in the Houston area have died as a result of West Nile Virus. I’m praying for their families.

It’s summer time, and I’ve been waiting all summer to start hearing stories around the nation of people infected with this horrible illness. The other day I saw an article where ten people have died in the Dallas area. This week’s news is the second such story of two people dying from the dreaded virus in the Houston area.

How do we deal with it? We declare all out war on the mosquito.

Have you ever seen a family declare war on mosquitos? They go to the store and buy Cutter and spray their yard. They invest into some sort of glowing blue light that joyously zaps the wretched critters as they fly. They douse their children with liquid bug repellent immediately upon entering the outdoor spaces. Their evening time outside is severely limited.

Cities get into the fight as well as they roam the streets with their trucks spraying noxious fumes out the back in hopes of eradicating these blood sucking annoyances. The city of Houston is going to do some aerial spraying specifically for west nile in the upcoming days. It’s all out war not just on the disease but on the cause of the disease.

Let me set something straight…I hate mosquitos. I champion the war against the critters and even have a Facebook page entitled “I Hereby Declare War on all Mosquitos”.

I also hate sin.

Sin also leads to death, and the statistics surrounding the mortality rate of sin are alarmingly more severe than that of those bit by mosquitos. If I’m bit by a mosquito I’ll probably live, statistically. But if I sin then there’s a 100% chance I’ll die.

The problem is, however, that we don’t treat sin like the lowly mosquito. We don’t put things in place to prevent its occurrence in our lives. We don’t stay out of areas where sin is more rampant. Frankly, we just don’t see it as that big of a deal.

But let me warn you; it is a huge deal.

You were created in the image of God to live for and with Him in a perfect, sinless life. When you sin you are cut off from God. Your world becomes broken, and the great plans that would have been set in place if you’d have remained pure are skewed. Your sin also tragically influences and affects the lives of those around you.

What’s worse? We are cut off from God when we sin. The first time you ever sinned you were cut off, and that sin stained you such that you can never get back to God on your own. You don’t have a detergent strong enough to get rid of that stain. But God does.

God loves you so much that he wants to remove that sin. So he sent Jesus. And for all who come to him and receive His grace and forgiveness, He cleanses their sin. It’s a pretty great deal.

Sadly, most people choose to keep their sin. Even people who have “given their life to Christ” often continue to treat sin like its no big deal. They not only continue to sin but approve of those who do so (Romans 1:32).

You are called beyond that. You are called to hate sin more than you hate mosquitos. Imagine what kind of world we would live in if people attacked sin in their lives like they attack that minuscule bug. When we treat sin with apathy we dishonor the cross of Christ where He willingly suffered for those sins we are so eager to commit.

Brothers and sisters let’s take up a new cause and allow the Spirit of Christ to truly eradicate sin in all areas of our lives. May we hate sin in our lives (Romans 6:1-7). May we be changed and allow the righteousness of Christ to shine in us (2 Corinthians 5:21). May we give honor to the sacrifice that was made, once for all, by the Son of God Himself.

If you want to know more about allowing Christ to rid you of your sin, please feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon,net or via my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God will bless you – He already has.


Confessions of a Tough Mudder

20120130-094336.jpg

“I will not whine. Kids whine.”

This phrase kept going through my head as I endured the 12 mile, 29 obstacle course in Edna, TX last Saturday.

On Saturday, January 28. 2012, I competed in what is considered “the toughest event on the planet” – Tough Mudder. My experience actually began on Friday as my brother, my son, and I met up with a friend at Brackenridge Park outside of Edna to camp out for the night. The evening was relatively peaceful sitting around the fire mentally prepping for the next day. The challenges began for me at midnight, however, as parties around us began to be increasingly louder. I couldn’t fall back to sleep until after 1:30 am. I was frustrated and tired. “Didn’t they have to get up early and compete too?”

The next morning I woke up around 6 am. I couldn’t sleep, so I walked out to the edge of the lake and watched the sun rise in all it’s magnificence. There’s an old saying: Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailor’s warning.” Saturday morning’s sunrise was red, and the wind was already starting to pick up speed to its projected 20 mph. It was going to be windy for sure!

We got over to the check-in tents at 8:30, and before I was really mentally ready we were being called to go to the starting line. We were the 10 o’clock group. To even get to the starting line we had to surmount an 8′ wall. It was time to gear up and shut up.

We recited the Tough Mudder pledge amid a barrage of “Hoo-Rah”. Then, there it was, the phrase that stuck with me the rest of the day: “I do not whine. Kids whine”. This would be my mantra for the rest of the day.

The whistle finally blew and we were off. The very first obstacle was a mere 50 yards from the starting line. We had to drop to our bellies and crawl under barbed wire through thick South Texas mud. It had begun. Within the first mile we crawled through mud, climbed over muddy eight foot high walls, jumped off a 15 foot high platform into the lake, and plunged into the frigid waters of “arctic enema” – a box car with ice water. My body was in shock, but I was determined.

We crawled through tunnels, scrambled over mud hills, and ran, a lot. I was prepared for this mentally. Then it happened – we came to an obstacle that wasn’t on our pre-race map. Apparently unbeknownst to us they had to substitute obstacles in place of the hay or fire obstacles. What we had come to was jumping over mud holes increasingly wider with the hopes that we wouldn’t slip or miss our mark. Success!

Then we ran over to a cargo net and climbed over. Then we ran some more.

There were obstacles on this course that weren’t official obstacles. We were constantly watching out for the holes in the ground created by this year’s drought. It would be very easy for someone to twist or even break an ankle by stepping into one of them. There was also a place where we had to drop down a steep embankment into water filled with reeds and grasses. When we got in there we realized that we couldn’t touch bottom. We had to swim, but we made it and scrambled up the muddy bank on the other side helping each other out.

We crawled over and under logs. One time I stumbled upon trying to stand back up after going under a log pile. When I tried to steady myself by holding onto the log I had just gone under I impaled my thumb with two barbs from the barbed wire that was there to hinder going over that log. Blood had been drawn – I was already a tough mudder.

My brother and I spent much of our childhood in the woods exploring every nook and cranny as we blazed our own trails. We climbed everything we could find. When we got to these obstacles we realized that our childhood had develop many of the skills needed to complete the course easier than many of the other people. When it came time to balance or hang upside down we were in our natural element. Navigating through fallen trees would have been a normal afternoon walk for us growing up, but here it was as an obstacle! Sure, we were exhausted, but it was fun!

Our muscles were cramping, but we endured. It was absolutely wonderful to have my brother and my wife running this course alongside me. Their encouragement made this possible. We fed off each other’s enthusiasm to complete each obstacle.

We finally got to the last mile with five obstacles to go. The first was the monkey bars. The rungs were muddy, slippery, and they spun. When I realized that they would spin I put my feet in the rungs and crawled upside down across the span. Success! I wasn’t wet! In my mind I thought I might dry out before the final obstacle, but that dream was short lived. We then had to swim out into the lake and go under a series of barrels. Then we had to swim to the other side. Once on the other side my fears were met. My daughter alerted us to the fact that we would not have to go through one electric obstacle, but two.

After swimming we came to a wooden framework with yellow wires hanging down. This was all a few inches off the ground. The ground was covered with the slush of melting ice. We had to belly-crawl under the wires on the ice. I didn’t want to do it, but this wasn’t called the tough quitter. The first wire shocked me. It felt like someone hit me in the lower back with a hammer. I don’t remember the second hit. All I remember is waking up face down in the mud after a split second. I had blacked out. When I finally realized where I was, I knew I had to get out of there fast. I got hit two more times before crawling out through the mound of ice.

I stood up and gave a primal scream.

Next up was the obstacle called Everest. We had to run up a quarter pipe that was about 15 feet tall. Those who had gone before us were on top waiting to grab the hand of those coming below. My brother had made it before me, so when I attempted it was his hand that grabbed mine. I made it up first try, but only with the help of my brother and my neighbor.

This was it. One more obstacle, and it was the one that struck the most fear in me. There was a framework with hundreds of yellow wires hanging down. Some of them had 10,000 volts flowing through them. We watched as one man went through and got hit with the juice. It dropped him to his face. He tried to get up but couldn’t move his legs. Eventually he pulled himself out with his hands. This was not a good sign.

My wife went first, and God blessed her with a good breeze that caused all the wires to float up just above her back. She didn’t get hit even once. I then ran through, and God decided I didn’t need such a breeze. About halfway through I got hit. It wouldn’t have knocked me down on normal ground, but they were hosing the ground as we were running through and I slipped onto my belly. That was actually a relief. I crawled through to the other side.

Success!

I had completed every single obstacle they threw at me. My wife and I and our four friends jogged together to the finish line, and my wife and I finished this course the same way we had finished the marathon we did together seven years before – holding hands.

We were exhausted and shivering from hypothermia; we were sunburned and sore, but we had overcome! 4 hours, 12 miles, and 29 obstacles had not been enough to take us out. We were tough mudders! Hoo -Rah!

Would I do it again? Yes. It was a feat of athleticism, but it wasn’t something that is beyond the grasp of any normal person. I saw people of all ages and genders and races competing. Two of the competitors that day had only one leg. One guy lost his shoe in the water on the third obstacle and ran the rest of the course barefoot. By doing this, however, I have gained so much in my mind. I have built friendships through this common experience that I would have never had. I got to share this with my wife and brother – both of whom I love dearly. This event was totally worth it.

I cannot describe to you the ins and outs of why it was worth it. All I can say is that I will do it again, and I think you can do it too.

If you want to see pictures of our trip through the muck and mire check me out on Facebook.com/mrjdobbs. I am a Tough Mudder!


The Bacteria in Our Water

20120103-144915.jpg

When I was a kid I loved going to my grandparents’ house in Northeast Arkansas for several reasons. I mean, what kid wouldn’t love to go to a place where he or she was doted upon and taught many life lessons through outdoors and apprenticeship?! I remember many details of my many trips to see them each year, but there is one detail that seems strange to me that I would remember: the taste of their tap water.

Their water was great. I grew up in North Louisiana where the water was a caramel color, and if you filled up your bathtub with it you wouldn’t be able to see the bottom of the tub. Comparatively, the sparkling clear water of Northeast Arkansas was amazing with just the right mixture of pure H2O and minerals.

Did you drink tap water growing up? 20 years ago that wouldn’t even be a question anyone would ask because who didn’t drink tap water? Today, however, we have an entirely different set of circumstances. When you ask people for some water chances are they’ll go to their refrigerator and look for some liquid in a plastic bottle or in a pitcher that had been filled through filtered means.

Every so often I get a report from our water treatment plant for our town. It makes me aware of the different levels of chemicals in the water. Wait…chemicals? Yes! Then it tells me that the water is ok to drink. It’s not necessarily healthy, but it’s ok. Our water even contains arsenic! No wonder people are buying bottled water as fast as they can produce it.

In our consumeristic culture we have changed to buying our water off the shelves in bottles or jugs or filtering it by some means even after it has come from our “water treatment” plant. We can’t seem to get “pure” water any more; we just make do with the water that we think is “more pure” or tastes better than other water.

I’ll admit that I do the same thing. I would rather drink water from a spring or well, but in town I have a Brita water filter pitcher at the house. When I buy water in a bottle I prefer Dasani. Don’t ask me why. I just think it tastes better. When I find Ethos water I buy that because some of the proceeds are supposed to be helping to dig wells in underdeveloped areas of the world.

We seem obsessed with water. And we pay for it accordingly.

Why is it that we are more concerned about the bacteria in our water than about the sin in our lives?

We don’t keep “pure” lives as the standard to which we strive. We settle for “more pure” than others. What if Jesus lived his life that way? If He had sinned even once he would not have been fit to take our place as the unblemished Lamb of sacrifice.

Then he tells us to “be perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

What? I can’t be perfect! No, but I can strive for perfection. There’s the difference between what God calls us to be and what many of us have settled to become. He wants us to try and not to quit. He wants us to hate sin. He wants us to abhor it. We should loathe it, but we settle for “good enough” or “better than others”. God is not comparing you to others at your job or school. He is comparing you to Jesus. Then, if you fall short of that (which you do), he offers you the sacrifice of Jesus to cover your imperfections.

When Jesus died He took your sins on the cross and gave you righteousness – a new clothing unstained by sin. In Galatians, Paul says that the clothing we receive when we are baptized into Christ is Christ Himself. Then we go through our lives staining up that righteous clothing with the deeds of selfishness.

You wouldn’t go out in the $100 outfit you bought yesterday and play in the mud in it today. But that’s exactly how we treat our righteousness. In Romans 6 we are reminded that when we died to sin we were called to not live in it any longer.

May you hate the sin in your life more than you hate the bacteria in your water. May that new mindset this year change you into a better, more whole and more holy man or woman of God. And may your circles of influence see Jesus (your new clothing) as you live and move and function inside that clothing.

Happy new year, and if there’s anything I can do for you, call me at 979-245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you!


%d bloggers like this: