Tag Archives: worship

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. 


My Finger Hurts

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A few weeks ago I was building a rabbit cage. We thought it’d be a great idea to raise rabbits, and we wanted to teach the kids responsibility by giving them the chores for the rabbit. So I embarked upon this construction project.

I was nearing completion when the drill I was using to screw in the screws slipped off the head of the screw and buried itself in my thumb just above the cuticle. I had to purposefully remove the bit from my thumb and clean off the skin it took with it. Needless to say, it hurt.

The other day I started feeling a strange sensation in my finger. It started small but quickly grew, and now I realize there is an infection in my finger. It sounds gross, but I’m more concerned with the fact that it hurts. It’s difficult to even type this article because of the pain and swelling and stiffness.

Without my finger I have a hard time brushing my teeth, washing myself, using chopsticks, writing with a pen or pencil. It is not the loss of the limb that causes the difficulty. It is the fact that everything that touches it causes me to flinch with pain.

Just sitting here I am constantly attentive to my finger. My whole body reacts to it. Sometimes I wish I could just cut it off, but that would be even more painful and much more permanent. So I’m just dealing with the pain and doctoring it and taking medication for the infection. My whole body wants my finger to get better.

First the thumb; now the finger; I hope I don’t hurt another appendage any time soon. I can’t afford to lose anything.

The apostle, Paul, said that the church is like a body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). Each person is a different member of that body. Each church is like a different larger section of that body.

What do we do when people are hurting? When a person who is super active and vocal is hurting everyone pays attention and prays and works to meet their needs during their trying time. The whole body seems to notice and help just like my body is doing for my finger and did for my thumb.

But what about the people who are quiet and on the fringes? Do you even notice when they are hurting? Many times they are. Are you aware? Do you consider them part of the church – the body?

When a person is hurting physically, emotionally or even spiritually they need people who know them and care about their needs. They need people to walk alongside them and carry their burdens. They need the church more than ever.

The next time you’re with your brothers and sisters in Christ look around the room. Is there anyone you don’t know? Go meet them. Is there anyone alone? Invite them to sit by you. Is there anyone new? Take them to lunch and get to know them.

There should be no fringes to the church. Jesus invited us all to be His children. He doesn’t show favoritism. It is easy for us to talk to the people we already know. It’s easy to go to the same wells to look for helpers with church activities. It is easy to create cliques within the church.

But it’s time to stop. It’s time to notice what’s going on and make a change. There are people in need all around us, and we need to pay attention so that they don’t let the infection of whatever they’re dealing with make them wither away and die.

The body of Christ – the church – can’t afford to lose any members – even a finger.


Doing church

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When you’re lying around thinking about things, what do you think about? What captures those valuable moments of meditation as you allow your mind to wander? When you get up, what do you do? What things are necessary that dictate your actions? As you do those things what is your attitude? Do you enjoy the life you are living, the things you think about and what you do?

Many of us have hobbies. Those are usually things that we love to do, and when we aren’t doing those things we are thinking about those things. When we are given the opportunity to be immersed into our hobby for a while we jump at the chance.

Many of us love sports. We have our favorite teams. We don’t miss a game. We wear the paraphernalia. If we get a chance to actually go to the game we jump at the chance and tell just about everyone we can because we are so excited.

Many of us have families. We cater to our children’s needs. We serve them to the point of fatigue and then some. We spend time together playing and working. We teach them. We are engaged in our families. When we aren’t with them we are thinking about them. When we are away we can’t wait to be back with our family.

What if we treated our hobbies, favorite teams, or families like we treat our commitment to the Kingdom of God?

What if we only saw our family on Sunday mornings for two hours? What if the family needed our help, but we were always too busy to help or figured someone else would come to their aid? What if when we were with our family we were constantly thinking about all the other things we would rather do away from our family?

How much of a fan would you be if you didn’t spend time getting to know your team? How skilled would you be at your hobby if you only went to lectures and heard about how to do your hobby but never actually got busy doing your hobby?

This is how many people “do church”. We come on Sunday mornings. Many people don’t even come for class even though it’s only an hour sooner. We sing a few songs we don’t even realize the words to. Then we listen to a sermon while thinking about what is for lunch. When we are done we shake the mandatory hands and say “hi” to others, but we are really glad to be done with this portion of our week.

We are called to so much more in our walk with Jesus.

Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

In many churches there is a core group that understand the need to work together as a family to help spread the message of the good news of Jesus. The majority of the church is only engaged on Sunday mornings.

If we are really honest, the majority of our Christianity consists of what we do and who we are Monday through Saturday.

If your church needs you, don’t wait for someone else to get involved. We are all called to be active in working to he’ll the kingdom of God grow. Your church does need you.

You have been given the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus needs you to. Offer everything to Him all the time. Let Him give you rest, but you only need rest after you’ve exhausted yourself by working. Let’s get to work.


Why Do We Do Good?

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“I don’t do good works to be saved; I do good works BECAUSE I am saved.”

Have you ever heard that phrase? Chances are that someone has said this either to you or in relation to some church they feel are teaching a works-salvation theology. I’ve heard this more times than I can count used to explain the relationship between works and salvation.

I’m not so sure this cliché really gets to the heart of this matter.

First of all, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” This passage definitely rules out the works as being part of our salvation, or does it?

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 gives the most popular definition, but for me it’s still a little vague. When you study faith in the scripture it is more than belief. Belief is a thought or emotional connection about something. It is a conviction, but until it has an action tied to it, it is not faith. Faith is being so sure of you what you cannot see that you act on what you cannot see. Faith by its very nature is active. According to James, faith without deeds is dead. Is this a contradiction? No.

When I come to faith in God and give my life to Him I have to make some pretty major life changes. Anyone whose life has not been changed since coming to Christ has not truly been “converted” to anything and their salvation is suspect for Christ is ever working in us through His Spirit to make us more like Him. In order to have faith I must begin to act on the knowledge that God is real and I truly have been saved from my sins. The natural outcome of this is love for God. And love is always an action when it comes to God and others (love of ice cream is action too but altogether different).

When I begin to see the scope of love from God to me, then I am faced with just how unworthy of that love I really am. It is only when I come to that reality that I begin to love others as I have been loved. To love God is to love those whom God loves.

This brings me to my second thought regarding the cliché above. every time I have heard this phrase it has been in a setting where someone (at times me) has been trying to explain to someone else that they have an obligation out of their salvation to do good works to others. Even though I have always felt this to be extremely shallow I have been caught up into teaching this technique as well. There is a hint of truth here, but it misses the beauty of salvation and doing good by a long shot.

If you told me it was your birthday then ordered me to give you a gift, then it wouldn’t feel much like a gift when you received it. Or if I gave a gift to my daughter and told her, “well, your mother said I have to give this to you – it’s my obligation as your dad.” What would her reaction be? I am afraid it would be the worst gift ever for it wasn’t given out of love.

We are definitely called, as Christians who have been saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus, to do good works. Those good works are evidences of our faith. But if I am doing them out of a sense of duty, then they aren’t benefiting me or anyone else.

I don’t do good works because of an obligation due to my salvation. I do good works because God has loved me beyond my worth and comprehension. As I see His love and begin to realize that love, then I love Him back (the first and greatest commandment according to Jesus). Then, as that relationship of love grows I learn to see others through God’s eyes and love them as well (the second greatest commandment).

I don’t do good works to be saved. I do good works because God loves me, and I love Him, and I love others as well.

If you can’t accurately make that confession about yourself, then you are going through the motions. Over and over the bible condemns such actions. God would rather you be silent than lie to him in song. He would rather you keep your money than give it in frustration out of a sense of duty. But most of all, he would rather not have to worry about any of that because you are absolutely in love with Him and His creation.

I hope that the next time you hear this phrase it will spur you to remember this article. I hope you are passionately pursuing relationship with God. I hope you are loving people out of compulsion rather than out of duty – you can’t help love them because of the love-relationship between you and God.

If you haven’t begun your love-relationship with God where He has taken away your sins and given you His perfection, then I’d love to discuss any questions you may have regarding making that happen. It’s up to you. Last Friday 12 people unexpectedly died. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Don’t put off your relationship with God through Jesus another day.

If you have been going through the motions, then Jesus is calling you to come back to your first Love. The most wonderful thing about Jesus is that He has never left you; He has been there the whole time waiting for you to desire Him again. If I can pray with you or help you come back in any way please let me know.

You can reach me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. You can even comment on this article or any previous articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org.

God bless you as you do good in His name and for His sake.


The Religion of the Masses

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Everyone is religious. We all worship something.

I love my kids. Just ask me, and I’ll tell you all about their exploits.

Just today my oldest daughter practiced on the swim team for the first time. It is the middle of the season, and it’s her first opportunity to practice with the team. Her first time out she swam around 4,000 meters. That’s nearly 2.5 MILES! I can run that far, but I’ve never even thought of swimming that far. And that was her first day of practice ever being on any kind of swim team.

Yesterday our family went to a water park in the area, and we had a blast. Our 6 year old son is getting comfortable with swimming and he had a wonderful experience. It’s so much fun to watch him as he dives under the water and stays there for quite some time given his age. He says he likes being under water better. At six, he was having a great time riding the slides with me. The last slide we tried was the one that strikes some sense of fear into almost everyone’s heart when they walk into a water park. You know the slide – its the one that just has one long, nearly straight down, drop. My son wanted to go first, so I let him. My heart stopped as he went out of sight over the lip of the slide, but as he reached the bottom I couldn’t help yelling with excitement. He said it was “awesome”.

My smallest child is my other daughter. She has been doing gymnastics and loving every minute of it. Her coaches have been surprised and impressed since day one at her ability to walk the balance beam without looking down. She is four (started at three), and she looks around the room and at the coach while she walks the beam. When she had her gym’s version of a recital the other day they even had her do a frontward roll on the balance beam. I had never seen her do that before, and she did great!

Everyone is religious. We all worship something.

I’m excited about my children; who wouldn’t be? But I don’t worship them, and they know it. That doesn’t mean that I am the rule, however.

People worship all sorts of things. It’s what consumes them that centralizes their worship. Some people are consumed with money. Some people are consumed with a search for knowledge. Some people are consumed with power. Some people are even consumed with their children!

The kinds of people that astonish me most in terms of what they worship are the atheists and the religious “folk”.

An atheist believes there is no God, and therefore should be free of the moniker “religious”. However, every atheist I have ever seen has something (usually many things) that consumes them. They may worship any combination of the things listed above. Humanists are atheist, technically, but they, too, have a god, and that is the human species. We all worship something.

Religious “folk”, as I use the phrase here, are Christians – of a sort. They say the right things and attend the right meetings, but their focus is clearly seen by their actions and attitudes. These people worship their religion more than the focus of that religion. They are more concerned with making sure everything goes a certain way than with total abandon to the God they profess to worship. They get hung up on the minutia of certain commands while neglecting the very heart of that command.

Religious “folk” fill up church buildings each Sunday with judgmentalism and pomp. They wear the right clothes and look down on you if you don’t. They strictly adhere to their traditions while condemning the “heretics” who dare to challenge those traditions. They don’t even realize that some of the things they hold as sacred are merely traditions! These people are the reason many people stay out of churches today.

We are called to worship one Being only, and that is Jehovah God. He is the One True God who gives life to all men and women everywhere. He is to be forever praised. Not me, not you, not our stuff nor status, but Him alone.

In our culture today, it is so very easy to get caught up in worship of other things. God calls this idolatry, and the first two of the ten commandments condemn it.

Today, I challenge you to evaluate yourself, and be careful as you do so. It is easy for us to stay “holier-than-thou” and write this off as not pertaining to us. I catch myself in that same trap, but it is my hope and prayer that we can effectively see the deficits in our lives. I pray that we can come away from our ungodly religions and come back to the God who is the center of everything that exists.

Always ask questions – of yourself, and of your situation. Seek truth, and if you’d like to discuss this further know I’m seeking truth as well. If there is anything I can do for you, please contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the church office at 245-1611. God bless your evaluation. God bless the answers you find. And God bless the change that comes as a result.


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…

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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.

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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