Friday, October 11, 2013

Spiritual Gifts ~ A Starting Point

In the many years before I became a re-born Christian, I wandered through life hopelessly searching for my purpose. I mistakenly believed I was a Christian. After all, I believed in God and Jesus. I even knew a few verses of Scripture. I was deceiving myself with the help of the ruler of this earthly world.

As I trudged through an existence built without God and Jesus, life was an unending daily loop of unfulfilled dreams. I thought I was happy, but I was not. I went from job to job seeking the “American Dream.” I was trying to live life on my terms, which were I could do anything and everything. I could not. The devil really had me under his thumb.

My life began to change when I overcame my alcohol addiction through a twelve step program. I still was misguided, but I was getting closer to the plan God had for me. Although at the time, I was unaware of any help from God in my life. However, God has always been in my life.

I did not have a personal relationship with God, nor did I want one at that stage of my life. I did not know I was headed toward a major life changing event. A year in my life where my world came crashing down and I was changed by God forever. My year was 2009.

It was a year in which three events played a major role in my rebirth. The first was becoming part of an online prayer ministry called World Prayr. The second was attending a “whole” bible teaching and believing church. The third was the death of my wife in December. Becoming associated with this ministry, I began to find and use the talents and gifts God had given me. My wife’s death led me to my re-birth on January 4, 2010. These three events are tied to my use of the gifts God has given me.

While I knew I had talent in a few areas, God used World Prayr, a church and a death to show me how I should be using those gifts. Everyone has spiritual gifts given to them, whether re-born or not. Throughout my life I would pray to God, usually in self-pity or anger. “Why me God?” “What did I do wrong?”

It was not until I was re-born that I became needful of a relationship with God. I had enough reason to be angry at God. But I was not. I dived into the bible to learn what God wanted to teach me and to build a father-son connection. I began spending “alone” time with God. I am getting better at hearing God speak to me.

Our God given talents have the best effect when used to build the body of Christ. Romans 12:4-11 is one of many verses or passages on the gifts and talents of believers. God has created a unique place for every believer in the body to use their gifts. Serving God and His people should be our primary focus in utilizing our talents.

All spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit. We are responsible to use and sharpen our gifts. Spiritual gifts are not self-serving but serve the whole body of Christ when used properly. Used without love our gifts become practically useless. Make loving God and loving fellow Christians your highest motives, as you seek to identify and use your gifts.

Robert Dodson
October 11, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spiritual Battles

Last week I fell victim to the lies of satan. He caused me to become despondent and discouraged. However through the comfort of online friends, church members and others, I began to emerge from this very personal battle I was fighting and losing.

In my failing battle, I had forgotten the “armor of God” and the One to whom I should have turned to during my battle. I knew and believed in God. I didn’t fully place my faith and trust in Him. Had I done so, I would have beaten satan at his own game; fighting his deception with the Word of God just as Jesus did after his fasting in the desert.

My losing this battle points out the importance of building your relationship with God. We should never place our faith in ourselves, we don’t stand a chance against the devil and his army. But in every spiritual battle, whether won or lost, there is a lesson to learn.

What lesson you learn is dependent upon your particular battle. In mine, I was knowledgeable that in life, we are certain to have many valleys of trial and many mountain tops of victory. We should never worry about the trials when we have God on our side.

He is shaping and molding us to do what He has planned for us. We shouldn’t belabor the agony of the trial but be obedient to His teaching. God has a purpose and a plan in which we are uniquely qualified to achieve, but only if we are obedient.

In crawling out of my despair, I read a devotional which proved to be the turning point in this particular battle. Its message was so simple and clear cut. I was blinded by my fears, I couldn’t see it during the fighting. The devotional author pointed out the facts about everyone having valleys’ and mountain top experiences.

He said the valleys’ were the bad things to happen in our life and the mountain tops were the good things. The point he made which hit me hardest was almost too easy to believe. Every time you are in a valley (bad thing), it is always followed by a mountain top (good thing).

Even though I am still in the middle of a valley, there is a mountain top coming. God is preparing me for something good. Knowing and remembering this is helping me to fight my way back. My mountain top may happen tonight, tomorrow or a few years down the road.

My part is to be obedient to God and allow Him to do His work in and through me. When I do that, my trials will be fewer and the victories will be many. If we live our lives in twenty four hour chunks; the trials are easier to manage, because Jesus said in Matthew 6:34 “Tomorrow has enough of its own worries.” Spend today living and being obedient to God and your future will be eternal.

Robert Dodson
July 22, 2013

Sunday, June 09, 2013

What If

As I approach and live my last years, I reflect on my life. I wonder about the if’s, could’s, what’s and all the other events of my life. Most others have done this once or twice themselves. Admit it. I know I cannot change the past, nor do I want to. I just wonder about what if I did this or did not make that choice. You get the idea. There is one event which occurred in my life I am always drawn to and how my life turned out because of that event.

When I was a sophomore in high school, a student approached me about becoming a member of a group in which he belonged. I listened to his pitch and agreed to join him. Because of that decision, the majority of my working career revolved around the position I held. This organization prepared me for my life as a contributing adult in the work force. The training they gave me helped me through various, but related fields of endeavor.

There are many organizations available for high-schoolers to join which can determine their future. Some are better than others. The one I was involved in was the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). My duty assignment was in battalion headquarters as a supply clerk. For nearly thirty years, I worked in places where I handled, displayed, stocked and did other tasks related to supplies or products.

The “what if” of my life is what if a Christian youth had asked me to join a Christian organization? Can you see the implications? I might never have fallen in with the wrong crowd, found drugs or alcohol, been arrested several times or almost die twice. Eventually I did find God on my own through a twelve step alcohol program.

This is why it is so very important to obey the “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:18-20. Youth can change the future. They can share their testimony and help lead others to Christ. They can make a difference! I call on the young people of the world to have the courage to share Jesus at every opportunity. The life you change might be yours or someone else’s. You may never know who or how many you help. But if you do not share Jesus, the number helped will be zero.

Do not be afraid to open your mouth and share. God will be with you to hold you and strengthen you. Isaiah 41:10 states: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” Let the Holy Spirit fill your heart and begin telling others about Jesus. Now!
Robert Dodson
June 8, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Essentials of Youth Ministry Today

Recently, through my church, I attended a session dealing with youth ministry. I would like to share some of what I learned. In recent years, there has been a dramatic decrease in youth attendance at churches all around the globe. Youth should lead the planet towards a revival of the Gospel as the “last days” draw nearer.

I strongly feel, youth ministers, pastors and interested others should begin today to lead youth towards a revival of the Gospel. It will not be an easy road, nor will it be an overnight success. It will be rewarding.

Youth want real, genuine people to lead them. Be there, live the Gospel. As youth leaders begin building the foundation for growing or starting their ministries have the Gospel as the driving force. There are many great ideas to use in building a thriving youth ministry. A few suggestions are:

  Go where the youth are.
  Be creative to reach youth.
  Play Frisbee, football, baseball, (Avenues to spread the Gospel)
  Have a pizza night, do whatever it takes.
  Reach the ones willing to be reached. Most likely the pre-teens.
  The best evangelism method is the one you use.
  Your outreach method is to come back to the Gospel.

There seems to be a tendency to move away from teaching the gospel to more teaching of religion, rituals and such. Youth ministers should be making a dedicated effort at teaching the grace of the Gospel as well as the Gospel itself. Until then, youth will continue to flounder, struggle and wonder about the Gospel. True understanding of the grace of the gospel is key to salvation. It helps to understand your salvation, not having doubts.

The key to ministry is rubbing shoulders with Christ so when you rub shoulders with another you are sharing Jesus. Dead men don’t struggle. God’s making you hate the sin and making you want to be more like Christ. Paul (Romans 7) I hate the sin I do.

The Holy Spirit is how we relate to God. How we learn more about God. Two way communication between God and you is how to relate to God. Find a tangible way to relate to God. It becomes real when it becomes tangible. Student’s want to experience God in a real way.

Scripture is to lead us into a relationship with the Spirit. Spend your quiet time with God to hear Him speak to you. He will tell you He loves you and He will guide you on your path as long as you are actively listening and seeking Him and the Spirit. Pray without ceasing is God walking with you, it’s what Paul was saying in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Ministry has to rest in the relationship. Becoming passionate about Jesus and evangelism and your ministry will take care of itself. God will then begin opening doors for you. Trust God and you will see awesome things.

Robert Dodson
April 24, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Battle For The Mind

When I accepted the gift of salvation from God, I did not know the battles I would begin fighting. I had this naïve idea life would be perfect and my eternity would be idyllic. I was wrong, half wrong anyway. My time in eternity will be perfect in the company of Christ. To gain that, I have to die to live.

It is life in this world where the battle for my mind is taking place. While I will continue to have daily spiritual battles, my worst day as a saint has been far better than my best day as a sinner. I have grown as a Christian, but I am only a toddler in my walk with Christ.

For me, my salvation didn’t include any Fourth of July type fireworks. I felt a special love and peace which wrapped me completely inside and out. It is a feeling which I will have until I meet Jesus in heaven. Knowing there is freedom from hell, drives my spirit to become as Christ-like as I can.

Becoming like Jesus requires changing how you think and live on every level of your existence. One of the first things to start doing is reading and studying God’s Word. This means committing to an everyday, rest of your life time alone with God. The more you read, study and meditate with God, the more God becomes a part of you.

In Ephesians 6, Paul gave us the game plan for the fight against the great deceiver. The tactics of the devil includes doing everything he can to keep us from being effective and strong Christians spreading the Gospel at every opportunity. Since satan is a fallen angel, his battlefield is our mind. If he can deceive us into believing his lies, he wins.

Our only hope is to put on the full armor of God so we can resist his evil plans. When fighting satan, we must speak aloud using the sword of the Spirit. Using God’s Word, we gain control over his deception. Always remember satan knows Scripture, therefore use Scripture to defeat him. It is a constant fight, but God is on our side.

Robert Dodson
March 13, 2013