Saturday, April 30, 2016

Working for a Profit

Proverbs 14:23 - In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

I recently celebrated the first anniversary of taking a new job. This new position has been the most intense job I have ever had but it has also fit me better than any job I have ever had. In reading my morning devotions on the day of my first anniversary of the job, Proverbs 14:23 jumped out at me.

As I look at this verse, the word toil is important to understand. It literally means painful diligence. It is not activity for activity’s sake. It is diligent, well thought out actions that have a purpose and a plan. Such toil is not easy to do. In fact, at times it is painful to accomplish work that is so thought out and purposeful. Such work costs us something, but the cost comes with a reward.

The reward is referred to as profit in this verse. When we hear that word the first thing that comes to mind is a financial return on an investment. That surely applies in this situation. People who make good plans in their place of employment and then work those plans diligently are much more likely to turn a profit than those who do not. But this verse applies to more than just money. 

The concept of earning a profit also applies to one’s sense of fulfillment. When we make a good plan and then work that plan we feel like we have achieved something that was worth the effort it took to achieve it. Profit also applies to earning respect. When we develop a good plan and then work that plan we gain the respect of our co-workers and others in our field. That brings its own rewards to our sense of self.

When I think of the profit mentioned in this verse, I tend not to think so much about money or my own sense of worth or value. What I think about is entering into eternity and hearing the Master say “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” For me, that changes everything. While earthly rewards do come from hard work, it is the heavenly reward that I work for. That keeps my perspective on eternal things, which significantly impacts the types of earthly toil I am willing to engage in. I work hard and I want my work to make a difference, when done with an eternal perspective, my work can be of profit.

The second half of the verse reminds us that if we fail to plan out our work with an eternal purpose, it only leads to poverty. Again, that can apply to the financial side of things. But it can also apply to spiritual poverty. Who wants to work their whole lives doing the wrong things and then hear the Master say "Depart from Me for I never knew you."

We must work hard and keep our focus on the things that matter to God. If we do that, the profits will be great! If we fail to do that, our poverty will be even greater.


Lord, help us toil well so we can provided for our needs our earth, but never let us lose sight of the reality that the greatest rewards for our toils will not come until eternity. Amen.







Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has served as a missionary, pastor and denominational leader in New England since 1993. He is happily married to his college sweetheart and enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren. He is the author of numerous books including “The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences.” You can find his complete list of books at: http://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Terry-W.-Dorsett/e/B00405U4NY/

Friday, April 15, 2016

I’VE GOT NO STRINGS - Guest Post by Chris Beltrami

When Pinocchio was wished upon and was changed from a puppet to a real live boy, he sang this happy song:
    Vs.1  I’ve got no strings to hold me down, To make me fret or make me frown. I had strings but now I’m free.   There are no strings on me.
 
Pinocchio was no longer a puppet on a string.  He was set free from the control that Stromboli had on him. 
I believe the writer of this song intentionally wrote the lyrics with a much deeper insight … a philosophical twist that relates to so many people that are tied and bound to the power-strings of someone else.  
It is sometimes very difficult to pull away from that muscle and domination.  But, when a break does occur, it creates quite a happy song in one’s heart:

    Vs. 2   I’ve got no strings, so I have fun.  I’m not tied up to anyone.
              How I love my liberty. There are no strings on me.
 
It is possible for someone to hold you in some formula of power.   It becomes possible for someone to command your emotions and your decision making.   As you gaze into the face of the puppeteer, you identify a troublesome pressure that remains on the strings of your life.   
 
Sometimes, it is easy to remove the strings and, other times, it is very difficult.   

Let’s try something!    It just might work.    Close your eyes and imagine the person who still has some control on the strings.   
Believe, with faith, that God can cause this situation to disappear.  Whether it’s a parent, a sibling, a spouse, a leader, a relative, or a friend ... it affects both you and your loved ones.   So, cup the problem in your hands and then release it.  Or, reach up and cut the strings with those great scissors of faith that you have been given.

Make sure to love the person.   Wish them well.   But, believe that you have eliminated the influence that they have over you and that you can now walk in freedom.
Wouldn’t it be great if some folks on this TAI list got a great victory today!  Why not!!!  
 
John 8:36 “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."         
 

 
You can watch the scene and have a great ‘stuck tune syndrome’ all day today.
 


-----------------------------------------------------------

Chris Beltrami is one of New England's most award winning photographers. For decades he has used his position as a Christian businessman to influence others to consider the claims of Christ on their lives. He has been writing a monthly devotional called "Think About It" for many years. This article first appeared in the May 2016 edition of "Think About it."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How Mini-Sermons Mess Up a Worship Service

Have you ever been in a worship service that seemed like one long series of mini-sermons, none of which went together? I use the term "mini-sermon" to refer to those infamous 5 minute talks that people who are participating use to insert their opinion into the flow of the service but which do more to distract from the service instead of add to it. It might be the long explanation about a song before a piece of special music, or a literal "mini-sermon" before or after what was supposed to just be a scripture reading, or perhaps it is a lecture wrapped up in the guise of announcements. Whatever form it takes, it typically has nothing to do with the theme of the service and often makes the service much longer than it needs to be. Though I dislike all mini-sermons, I suppose most people in a congregation can handle one mini-sermon in a service. However, I recall one service I was in where half a dozen people gave such talks. It basically added 30 minutes to the length of the service but provided nothing of significant spiritual value. Instead the result was people looking at their watch ten minutes into the pastor's sermon wondering how much longer the service would last. That was unfair to the pastor, who had spent numerous hours preparing to teach the Word that week.

If a person has something he or she wants to share with the congregation, that person should make their desire and topic known to the pastor or worship leader prior to the service. If it is appropriate, it can be inserted at the appropriate time in the service. If it is not appropriate, then an awkward moment can be avoided. It is wrong to hi-jack the service for one's unplanned mini-sermon and take time away from what the pastor, or others, have diligently prepared.

Someone is probably thinking that I don't believe that the Spirit can give an unplanned word in the middle of the service. On the contrary. I have witnessed many spontaneous testimonies in worship services. When the Spirit is behind it, everyone present will sense it and no one will be looking at their watch wondering how much longer the service will last. However, honestly, most of the mini-sermons I have heard did not seem Spirit led. They appeared to be people taking advantage of the situation to push their private agendas.

As a person who has participated in a wide variety of different types of worship services in churches of all sizes and worship styles, I want to urge my fellow worshipers to ask themselves if what they want to say is really NEEDED in that moment or will it distract from the point of the service or unduly lengthen it. One day each of us will stand before God and give an account for the words we speak. Let's make sure the ones we used in public worship were truly from the Lord.

--------------------------

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is an author and Christian leader in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, adoring grandfather and thankful cancer survivor. You can find his books at:
http://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Terry-W.-Dorsett/e/B00405U4NY/

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Helping Children Learn the Bible

When I first started in ministry I served on staff at one of America's largest churches, Thomas Road Baptist Church. I was on a pastoral team that served the spiritual needs of the children in the congregation. One of my ministries was to teach a fourth grade Sunday School class that had 70 children in it on a regular basis. It was a challenge, but also a lot of fun.

One of the things I learned through that four and half year ministry was that kids do not want to sit and listen to someone talk. They want to do something. As I served in that role I began to develop a variety of Bible puzzles, games and other activities that would help children learn the Bible in fun and creative ways. Though I later moved on to minister to teens and eventually became the pastor of a church, I never forgot the importance of involving people in active learning. Over the years I have used those puzzles and activities in a variety of ways and kept refining them and improving them.

One spring I worked with an editor to assemble all those puzzles, activities and games into a book called Bible Brain Teasers: Fun Adventures Through the Bible. The book was distributed to over 2,000 children in Vermont as part of the follow up program for 38 different Vacation Bible Schools. It was also used extensively by Spanish speaking churches in Connecticut which had a large number of English speaking children. One foundation placed copies of it in the children's section of every public library in Vermont. I pray that it continues to touch many lives with the Gospel for years to come and that many children will be in heaven as a result of this simple book of Bible puzzles and activities.

One thing that makes this puzzle book stand out differently than other Bible puzzle books is that children must use the Bible to find the answers. This was part of the plan, to create a fun way to get children to actually study the Bible, not just complete an activity as "busy work." Perhaps your children or grandchildren would benefit from working through the puzzles in this book? If so, you can purchase a copy at THIS LINK.

----------------------

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is an author and Christian leader in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, adoring grandfather and thankful cancer survivor. You can find his books at:
http://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Terry-W.-Dorsett/e/B00405U4NY/

Monday, April 4, 2016

Qualities of a Good Church Leader

Recently I was privileged to be part of the ordination council for a new pastor. I had known the man for several years but still wanted to review in my mind what the scripture said about the qualifications for being a pastor before attending the ordination council. As I was studying 1 Timothy 3:1-7, where that list of qualifications is found, it occurred to me that though this list is technically just for pastors, it would be great if we applied these principles to every Christian who aspired to any leadership position in the church.


Those qualities include:

Being above reproach
Faithfulness to one’s spouse
Taking their leadership position seriously
Having self-control
Being a respectable person
Showing hospitality to others
The ability to teach (even if the person does not do it on a regular basis)
Not being a drunkard or addicted to any other substance
A gentle spirit that avoids violence
A personality that is easy to get along with
A love for God that supersedes a love for money
Having their own personal life in order so the person has the ability to help the church
Being a Christian long enough to have gained some level of maturity
Well thought of by those outside the church even if they disagree theologically with them

What a great list. I am pleased that the gentleman that was up for ordination met that list of qualities. But I kept thinking we should want all Christian leaders to be like this. Do we really want a Sunday School teacher that is not faithful to their spouse or who is a drunkard? Would we want youth workers who were prone to violence or lacked self-control? Surely every usher or greeter needs to be hospitable and have a personality that is easy to get along with. Though deacons may not teach on a weekly basis, surely when needed they should be able to stand in front of a group and teach the Word with some level of clarity. I would hope that all church treasurers and others who handle money in the church would have a love for God that supersedes a love for money. Honestly, what single item on this list would we NOT want all leaders of the church to aspire to?

Some may think this is setting the bar too high and that if the local church took this approach we would never have any leaders. But perhaps that is why the North American church is in trouble. Perhaps we have lowered the bar so much that a lot of people are in leadership that should not be. Instead of thinking of this list as the description of some super Christian who aspires to be a pastor, we need to think of this list as the bare minimum that any person who aspires to lead in the church should work toward achieving.

None of us are perfect, but if we are in any type of leadership role in the church, I think we should make achieving this list our goal. Though we might not always achieve every point on the list, if we work hard at trying, trusting the Holy Spirit to help us, we might be surprised as what God can do in and through us as leaders in His church. If we work hard at being the leaders this list describes, we will be better leaders than what we would be if we are just a warm body filling a role for a year because we got cornered by a nominating committee member after a church service. If we are going to accept a leadership role, then let’s do our best to live lives worthy of it.

-------------------------

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He has written a book about the spirit of offense that prevails in our current society. You can find all of his books at:

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday Meditation for 2016

Good Friday. What a name for a day on which something so terrible as the death of Christ happened. To think that an innocent man was brutally murdered in front of an approving crowd is almost unimaginable, except that it wasn't just a myth or someone's vivid imagination, it actually happened.

Good Friday shows the depths of the depravity of man. It shows how low people will sink to protect their political aspirations, their theological assumptions, or their place in the world. It shows how even good people will deny the truth or hide in the shadows while great horror happens around them, which begs the question, are they actually good? The answer of course is that there is none good, no not even one (Romans 3:10).

Good Friday also shows the amazing love of God. That He would endure such agony for us is something hard to fathom. None of us deserve it. None of us can truly appreciate it. None of us would even understand it without the gift of grace. Yet, while we were yet sinners, God demonstrated His love for us by allowing Jesus to die for us (Romans 5:8).

What makes this day good is not the agony of Jesus, but the love He had for those He was in agony for. Because of what happened on this day, every good and perfect gift can now come to us from the Lord who does not change like the ever shifting court of public opinion (James 1:17). He has declared that He loves us. And that declaration stands. No matter what. This is a hard truth to accept, and yet we must if we are to have any hope for a joyful life on earth and a more joyous one on the other side of death.

Let us remember Good Friday on days in which we feel unloved, or unlovable. Let us remember that He has decided that He loves us and nothing can change that. Nothing. Period. We can resist that love (which does not change the fact that He still loves us), or we can embrace that love (which gives us great peace and comfort). I chose to embrace it, and that makes this day good.



Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is an author and Christian leader in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, adoring grandfather and thankful cancer survivor. You can find his books at:
http://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Terry-W.-Dorsett/e/B00405U4NY/

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Answer - Guest Post by Rev. Robert Dickard

In my lifetime I have observed that the church has moved from a position of clout in society to a culture of cost. I mean by this that what the church believed and said on issues of the day had some influence and carried some weight. Politicians, and society in general, were guided by what Christians believed. 

We have seen a seismic shift in how our culture values the opinion of the church. Instead of having clout, there now seems to be a cost involved in having any biblical position on issues facing Believers. 
We are, in reality, “daytime people living in a nighttime culture.” 

We shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus said this would happen. The New Testament gives hope and assurance. The answer to the problems we face today will not be discovered by politicians or scientists. The answer is in the discovery of an empty tomb on Easter morning!

----------------

Rev. Robert Dickard is the Director of Missions of the Piedmont Baptist Association in Easley, SC. You can learn more about his ministry at http://piedmontbaptist.com/