This month: Empathy
Exploring the Heart of Restoration

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Matt Dabbs

Matt is the preaching minister at the Westside Church of Christ in Bakersfield, California. He and Missy have been married 10 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor of


I grew up just outside of Saint Louis in a small town called Union. It was and I am sure still is a pretty blue collar town. We grew up with plenty of land to run around on and local restaurants to eat at. It wasn’t until we moved from there to North Alabama in 1992 that Union finally got a McDonalds. It was that small.

One of my memories…

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Like anything, empathy can be a healthy part of life or an unhealthy one depending on how it is being used. Edwin Friedman wasn’t a big fan of empathy because empathy can be a tool used to keep stuck systems stuck and dysfunctional systems dysfunctional. Empathy can hijack a relationship or a system and keep people from moving forward because in hurting with those who hurt it can make…

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I don’t understand you and you probably don’t understand me. But we can try. If I am only to care about those who are just like me that isn’t anything more than loving myself…that the closer you are to who I am the easier it is I find myself loving you. The true challenge is in loving someone who is…

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In Galatians 2 we learn that Paul took Titus and Barnabas with him when he consulted with the leaders of the churches in Jerusalem. Paul says he took this trip in response to revelation from God. This is probably the same revelation given by Agabus in Acts 11 that links Antioch and Jerusalem as well as the gift to the impoverished Christians just like we find in Galatians…

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What the Bible takes seriously we take seriously. When you find something over and over again, constantly being emphasized to multiple groups of people by the inspired authors of scripture it is important to pay attention.

The New Testament writers both emphasized the power of God’s grace and the power of sin. The first one triumphs over the second but it doesn’t mean the second becomes unimportant. The second is…

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“But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16 I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” – Acts 9:15-16

Paul was given a monumental task by the Lord that was two fold…

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Philippians 2:1-11 is one of my favorite and least favorite passages. It is one of my favorites because it is challenging and applicable to almost any circumstance. It is one of my least favorites because it is challenging and applicable to almost any circumstance.

I don’t always want to consider others better than myself and yet I know if I did things would go much more smoothly and I would…

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What can we learn from the apostle Paul?

We can learn from his letters and the instruction he gave to congregations in the first century. We can learn about unity from 1 Corinthians, the Gospel from Galatians or what it means to be the people of God from Romans. We can learn about joy in suffering from Philippians and how we respond to God’s gracious acts on our behalf from…

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And what is that?


When Christianity gets assimilated and enmeshed too deeply into the surrounding culture it becomes something less than Christianity. There is a fine line between understanding our culture and learning to minister “contextually” (within the culture we find ourselves…being sensitive to its nuances) and so mixing the values of our faith with the values of the culture that what results is a cultural Christianity that isn’t Christianity…

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Jesus talked about politics more than any other subject, depending on how you hear him. The primary topic of Jesus’ teaching was the kingdom of God. Sometimes we use words and phrases so much that we read right over the very words that are being used. If I say New England you probably don’t think about England and settlers navigating the Atlantic looking for a New start…same with New…

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