Monday, October 20, 2014

Finding Support in Challenging Times

Proverbs 18:24 - A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.

When people go through difficult times, they will sometimes say, “I know who my real friends are,” in reference to the people who showed outward support during their trials. Such a comment can also be a backhanded way to express disappointment with those who did not show outward support. In a sense, it is also saying, "I know who are not my real friends."

While there is some truth to this sentiment, we must be careful not to judge people who did not appear to support us the way we wanted them to during troubling times in our lives. Perhaps things were going on in their own lives that kept them from being able to demonstrate support in the way we had hoped. Maybe they did not talk to a friend who was going through cancer treatments because it brought back painful memories of loved ones who suffered terribly from cancer and died in great pain. Maybe they did not call a friend during a divorce because they were still dealing with the pain of their own divorce. We often forget that people around us have their own issues which may keep them from expressing the support we wish they had when we have gone through our own rough times.

Becoming judgmental of them does not help the relationship. If they are indeed our friends, then they are praying for us from a distance. That in itself is huge. When the moment is right, they will express whatever level of support they are able to, even if it is not when and how we had expected. But if we have cut them off already, with some judgmental comment, behavior, or attitude, then we will lose what could have been an important source of support.

Lord, help us to support our friends during their times of trouble, and help us not to misjudge those who do not offer the type of help we expected in our own times of difficulty. Amen.


This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:


Friday, October 17, 2014

Don’t Judge Me

1 Corinthians 11:31-32 - If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged, but when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not be condemned with the world.

“Do not judge me!” We hear it all the time. Pop singers who do perverted things on stage say it. Movie stars who get DUIs say it. Politicians who have affairs say it. Co-workers who show up to work with a hangover say it. Friends who have made a real mess of their lives say it. Sometimes, we say it ourselves when someone points out our obvious faults.

Our culture has become obsessed with the idea that no one should say that any particular action is wrong. For the most part, people have accepted the idea that no one should think negatively of another person for his or her behavior. Such negative thinking is considered judging. Judging has become the ultimate bad behavior. If anyone does point out that someone's behavior was in poor taste, or just plain wrong, the speaker is the one who is criticized, not the person who actually did wrong.

This may be an acceptable line of reasoning for our culture, but it ultimately leads to disaster. If everyone does what is right in their own eyes, society devolves into chaos. That is why God gave us rules to follow. But who gets to interpret what God says the rules are?

I grew up in a very rigid religious environment in which we categorized everyone's behavior as either good or bad. This was often done without really knowing the person’s heart or any of the details of the actions. In our quest for purity we separated ourselves from those who engaged in actions we deemed bad. Many people were hurt by our judgmental behavior. I no longer want to be the behavior police with some mandate to classify every behavior that anyone around me does as being right or wrong. I also do not want to watch friends ruin their lives because I am too cold-hearted to speak to them about issues they are struggling with. Some behavior is just plain wrong, and one does not have to be a religious fundamentalist to recognize that truth. Somewhere between the two extremes of never saying anything and always pointing out everything is the thin line that we should walk that shows care and concern without being judgmental.

Finding that thin line is a constant struggle. One thing that helps is to ask people questions about the things they do. By asking them questions about certain behaviors, instead of just telling them it is wrong, their own thinking is often stirred up. Sometimes they are able to rethink their own behavior and state their own need to change. This can lead to a redemptive conversation about Christ and forgiveness. Even if they do not recognize the behavior as bad, it still makes them think, and sometimes that is the best thing we can help people do.

Ultimately, God is the one who judges all of us, and He is the one who gets to decide what is good or bad behavior. Though many of our non-believing friends may not care what God thinks, it is our responsibility as Christians to help them get to that place. By asking questions that force them to rethink their behavior, we can move on to a place where we can share what God’s Word teaches. It may take several conversations, over a period of time, to get there, but we will eventually get there, without having to negatively judge others.

Lord, help us know how and when to say something to a friend about his or her behavior. Guard us from having a judgmental spirit but also remind us of the importance of holiness. Amen.

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This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MJ2UE4E

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Fear of Judgment Ultimately Hurts Us

Proverbs 28:1 - The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

My friend suddenly stopped coming to church. I reached out to him several times before he finally called back to say that he would no longer be attending church. He was honest in confessing that he was engaged in a particular sinful activity but felt that no one had the right to judge him for his actions. He went on to explain that when he came to church, he felt bad about himself, so his solution was to stop coming to church.

Many people in our society have adopted the same approach as my friend. The problem with this approach is that dropping out of church does not address the behavior that brought out the negative feelings to begin with. Regardless of what our culture may say, there are some behaviors that are right and some that are wrong. Simply avoiding people, or groups, who may point those wrong things out will not solve our problem. That is like a person with a heart condition refusing to go to the doctor out of fear of what the doctor may say. If the condition goes on long enough without treatment, the result is not going to be positive and the treatment for the condition will be much more invasive than it could have been if it had been addressed earlier. The same is true when we have poor behavior in our lives that we have not addressed. Eventually we will reap the consequences of that behavior. By the time all those consequences finally hit us, it may cost us far more than we ever intended to pay. In essence, our fear of minor judgment eventually causes us to experience much more significant judgment because we have not dealt with our sinfulness.

Perhaps it is time to start re-examining our opinion of church. Obviously there are some overly judgmental churches that may not help us be healthy. But there are many churches that understand that in our human weakness we made bad choices and now we are trying to fix those issues. Those churches will walk with us through the journey until we get where we need to be. They will not tell us that all of our behavior is acceptable, but we already know that. But they will remind us that God loves us in spite of our behavior and that He will help us become the person we always wanted to be. It is time for us to overcome our fear of judgment and start dealing with the baggage in our lives. We are going to need the help of other people to do that. That is what church is all about. It is a group of sinners encouraging one another to be transformed into the image of Christ. There may be some painful moments in the short term as our sinfulness is exposed, but the joy that comes from godly living will be worth it.

Lord, help us examine our own hearts so that we can be in right relationship with You. Do not let our fear of judgment cause us to flee the very thing that can change our lives. Amen.


This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Will Be Given To Those Who Already Have

Mark 4:21-25
And he said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." And he said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Last week in my personal devotions I was studying the Gospel of Mark. I read a familiar passage of scripture from Mark 4. I confess that I have always struggled a bit with verse 25. That verse says that "the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." I have struggled with that verse because it seemed unfair to me that the person who already has a lot will get more and the person who as little will lose what he has. What kind of God takes from the poor and gives to the rich? What kind of God takes from the less talented and gives to the talented? What kind of God takes from the person who has no family and friends and gives to the one who has an abundance of both? I have never liked this verse much. I do not ever recall preaching or teaching it to others because I was uncomfortable with what I thought it said.

But when I read this passage last week, the Holy Spirit helped me understand it from a whole new perspective. Suddenly I realized that in the context that it was written, it means something quite different than what I have been thinking all these years. The verse comes after the parable of the sower and in the context of Jesus's teaching about people who live generous lives. What this verse is actually saying is that people who lives generous lives will find generosity and those who live stingy lives will have less. It relates to the same principles as Galatians 6:7-9, where Paul reminds us, "Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up." When we live our lives in ways that give of our time, our talents and our treasures to others, then we are rewarded in many ways, making our own lives better. When we live our lives for self, only seeking to fulfill our own desires, we reap the consequences of that selfishness. 

When I realized the truth of this passage, suddenly it went from being a passage that I did not like to one that makes perfect sense. What a simple truth we can all put into practice. If we want "more" out of life, we must learn to give of ourselves to the Lord and to others. But if we refuse to do that, then even the small satisfaction we get from our selfish approach to life will eventually disappear. That sounds fair.


Lord, help us live generous lives making a difference in the world around us. Amen.


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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter and author who has lived in New England since 1993. He is a happy father of three young adults, a blessed husband of one great wife, a joyful grandfather, a thankful cancer survivor and convinced that New England needs Jesus more than ever!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Serving at the Edge of Satan's Kingdom

New England was once the cradle of Christianity in North America. Twice national revivals have swept our nation, both started in New England. But these days finding Bible believing churches preaching the gospel in New England  can be a challenge. Though estimates vary, studies reveal that only a small portion of the population, between 4 and 8 percent, attend a Bible believing church on a regular basis. There are some historical churches that have remained true to the gospel, even as they watched other churches in their denominations drift leftward theologically. There are some new churches that have sprung up in the last 25-30 years in an effort by various groups to re-evangelize New England. But added together, both the historic and the new, bible believing churches are much less numerous in New England than in other parts of the nation.

But because people are basically spiritual beings, many things have sprung up in New England that attempt to fill the spiritual void. Some of that stuff is just empty philosophy or ritualism, but other parts of it are much darker. This causes many people sense a spiritual darkness in New England. Some have called the region a "preacher's graveyard." Some think New England is the devil's territory. There is even a sign that says so. While out exploring, my family and I came upon a state recreational area in New Hartford, Connecticut called "Satan's Kingdom." Legend says it was originally inhabited by a group of tough people who were hard to get along with, which how it got its name. A preacher came to visit the area and prayed for the "destruction of Satan's Kingdom," referring to the spiritual side of things and not realizing it was also the name of the physical area. Needless to say, the prayer did not go over so well with the local populace and many of them decided not to be on speaking terms with the Lord. I do not know if the legend is true or not, but I do know that many in New England are still not on speaking terms with God.


The good news is that God is still on speaking terms with them, even if they act like they are not listening to Him. God has not left Himself without a witness. Historic churches continue to hold up the Light of Christ. New churches are springing up to join them in pushing back the darkness. Perhaps the numbers are not what we wish they were, but they are growing, slowly, but growing. It is not always easy to minister on the edge of Satan's Kingdom, but all who do carry the promise of Matthew 16:18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hell will not overpower it." God will build His church, and hell cannot defeat it.


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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter and author who has lived in New England since 1993. He is a happy father of three young adults, a blessed husband of one great wife, a joyful grandfather, a thankful cancer survivor and convinced that New England needs Jesus more than ever!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Preaching Needs Action

Mark 2:2-5 - So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the doorway, and He was speaking the message to them. Then they came to Him bringing a paralytic, carried by four men. Since they were not able to bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above where He was. And when they had broken through, they lowered the mat on which the paralytic was lying. Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Recently my morning devotions were from Mark 2, the story of the four friends who brought a paralyzed man to Jesus but had to let him down through a hole in the roof because the crowd around Jesus was so thick they could not get to Jesus any other way. Normally, when I read that text I think about the commitment of the friends to get the paralyzed man to the Lord. And that is something worth noticing. But this time when I read the text I was struck by the actions of Jesus. He stopped preaching and healed the man who was brought to Him.

We know that Jesus was a great preacher. The fact that such a crowd arrived to hear Him reminds us of His effectiveness in preaching. There is power in preaching, the scriptures remind us of that in numerous places. But in this instance, Jesus stopped preaching His sermon and did something else to help the man.

I believe in the power of preaching, but I also believe we must offer practical help to people in their time of need. Churches that merely preach, but do not back up their preaching with action that flows from the biblical truth sermons offer, are missing an important aspect of the sermon, the "doing." When Jesus stopped His sermon and healed the paralyzed man, it proved His preaching was from God.

Though I may not be able to do things exactly the way Jesus did, surely, I can learn something from His example. As a preacher, I must learn to live what I preach and lead my church to put into action all the lofty words they hear in a sermon. We must be living sermons in order for our spoken sermons to have value.
Lord, help us live out the truth heard in sermons. Amen.


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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter and author who has lived in New England since 1993. He is a happy father of three young adults, a blessed husband of one great wife, a joyful grandfather, a thankful cancer survivor and convinced that New England needs Jesus more than ever!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Where Are the Leaders?

Nehemiah 3:3-5 - The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They built it with beams and installed its doors, bolts, and bars.  Next to them Meremoth son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz, made repairs. Beside them Meshullam son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel, made repairs. Next to them Zadok son of Baana made repairs.  Beside them the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not lift a finger to help their supervisors.

When the Jews returned from exile to Jerusalem, the city was in ruins. One of their first tasks was to rebuild the wall around the city, so it would be a safe place to live. Nehemiah 3 lists the community leaders who each adopted a certain section of the wall to rebuild. It is a wonderful picture of what can happen when a group of people band together, each doing his or her part, to get a job done.

However, verse five contains a very intriguing phrase about one set of leaders. The Tekoites made repairs, "but their nobles did not lift a finger to help their supervisors." The Tekoites were from the small town of Tekoa, which in historical times was the home of David's mighty men. Though we do not know the whole story, from this verse, and from other places in scripture, it appears that the general populace of Tekoa was made up of hard working people who could be counted on to get the job done. In fact, they are one of only three groups that eventually repaired more than one section of the Jerusalem wall. This indicates that they were not only willing to do their share of the work, but were willing to go beyond the call of duty and do even more than what most other people were willing to do.

Though the Tekoites were hard working, they had leaders that were not so great. For some reason their nobles were not willing to get personally involved in rebuilding the wall. Perhaps they thought it was beneath them. Maybe they were too busy entertaining other nobility. For whatever reason, they were not supportive of what God had led the people to do. Their lack of support was noted at the time and recorded for all history to read. Thousands of years later we still know of their lack of leadership at a crucial time in history.

There are powerful parallels in this passage of scripture and our current culture in North America. Many people are working hard trying to earn a living, raise a family, help their neighbors, and make their communities better places to live. But where are the leaders? They are occupied with other things. They are focused on making more money or increasing their political power. Few leaders seem interested in joining the common people in making our nation a great place to live. History will record their lack of leadership in this critical hour.

This verse also applies to the Christian sub-culture that exists inside North American culture. As the walls of Christendom have fallen into ruins, we must be bold as we seek to rebuild the spiritual foundations on which our society was built. Far too many Christian leaders are more focused on building their brand or erecting larger buildings, but fail to interact with communities that are crumbling around them. History will also record their lack of leadership in this critical hour.

Lord, help us be leaders and focus on building Your Kingdom and sharing Your Word with others. Amen.


This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link: