Monday, December 8, 2014

Watch Out for Killer Cows

1 Corinthians 9:20-22 - To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law.  To those who are without that law, like one without the law—not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law—to win those without the law.  To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.

I grew up in a city in the Midwest. As a teenager I moved to a small city in Virginia. After college I lived in a city in South Carolina. Since I had lived in a city most of my life, I experienced culture shock when I moved to rural Vermont in 1993 to live in a small village with less than 1,000 residents. We moved there as missionaries with the North American Mission Board, serving a rural church with less than 20 members, a church struggling for survival.

It has been my custom for years to walk in the mornings and pray about what God is doing in my life. During that first week of living in a rural area, I struck out walking down the main street, the only paved street in town. I did not get very far before I encountered a cow that had escaped from a pasture and was standing in the middle of the road. Having grown up in the city, I did not know quite what to do, so I froze in my tracks. My life flashed before my eyes. My heart raced with fear. Would this cow charge me? Would it trample me? Would it eat me? Surely this vicious creature was a killer cow!

I do not know how long I stood in the middle of the road looking at that cow, but someone drove by in a pickup truck and asked what I was doing. I replied that a killer cow had gotten loose and I did not know what to do. The driver looked at me, looked at the cow, and then laughed hysterically as he drove away. Eventually I realized that the poor creature was just a harmless old milk cow. I slowly eased past her and went on my way. I was not in the city anymore!

To live successfully in a rural area, I had to adjust to the presence of cows in the middle of the road. I also had to adjust how I did ministry so that it fit my context. I learned to show up at the post office each morning at 9:30 AM when everyone came to get their mail. I could visit half the town in an hour. I learned that I was the pastor for the whole community, not just my 20 church members. As the community pastor, I conducted weddings and funerals, provided personal and marriage counseling, and hospital visits for the entire community, even though many of them had little or no affiliation with our church. I learned how important it was to make a contribution to the annual 8th grade fundraiser. I learned not to wear a tie, as it made people think I was either a Mormon or a bill collector, neither of which was very welcome in that small rural village.

During the eight years I served that church, I learned a great many things about how to minister in a rural village. However, I never had to change the Gospel itself. The Gospel is always relevant to all cultures in all time periods and to all people groups. There is no other Gospel but the one found in the New Testament that begins with the sinfulness of mankind and ends with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. But methods and programs used to communicate the Gospel are constantly changing. One generation might use flannelgraph and chalkboards; another generation might use video projectors and smart boards, but the message of the Gospel remains the same.

Since my fateful encounter with that killer cow so many years ago, I have learned to communicate the Gospel in a variety of ways as I have started churches and led evangelistic activities across New England. Each town is a little different, but in each one God has called a group of people to Himself. My ministry is to join God in His work and communicate His Gospel in a way that the called can hear and respond. When that happens, the Gospel goes forth and God is glorified, and His people rejoice, even if it looks different than what we are used to.

Lord, help us learn to share the Gospel in ways those around us can understand. 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, December 5, 2014

Jellyfish Proclaims the Creator's Praise

Colossians 1:17 - He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

While visiting the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, my family wandered through a room filled with jellyfish of all types and sizes. Signs on the walls point out that jellyfish have no brains, no lungs, and no hearts, but are very much living creatures.

One case is filled with jellyfish no bigger than finger tips. Beside that case is a picture of the largest jellyfish ever found. It was the size of a school bus! Imagine a living creature the size of a school bus that has no brain, no lungs and no heart. God was being extra creative when He made that!

Touring the jellyfish room, we wondered aloud how these creatures could be alive without the vital organs that most other creatures have. Without hesitation, my daughter replied, "Jesus!" What a great answer. Though we may not understand the vastness of the universe, every intricate piece of it points to a Creator. That Creator knew how to make living creatures that do not follow the rules that our limited understanding of science uses to explain the world around us. Jellyfish are a reminder that we serve a holy God who created all things and continues to hold all things together.

Lord, help me to find Your hand in all of creation. 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:


Monday, December 1, 2014

Following Instructions

Psalm 111:10 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.

Once I helped a friend assemble a movie display at a theater. This was not a simple display where he and I could just open the box and put the display on the wall. It was a complicated display that was nearly as tall as I am and twice as long. It had very complicated instructions.

We spent three hours inserting Tab A into Slot B while attaching Strap C to Holder D. It was obvious that whoever designed the display was a brilliant engineer with a flair for thinking of ways to make cardboard look like a whole city block. But the designer clearly did not know how to write instructions in plain English that non-engineers could understand. It took quite a while to figure out the difference between Tab A and Tab J and Holder D and Holder Z. But piece by piece we assembled the display. Following the directions exactly, one step at a time, we finally got the project done. It looked amazing when it was finished.

Life is a lot like building a complicated display. We do not just take life out of a box and instantly have good marriages, healthy families, meaningful careers, or vibrant spirituality. In order to make life work, a lot of things have to be done in the correct order and at the right time. We need a set of directions for how to get through life. If we skip a step in those instructions, or try to take a short cut, life ends up lopsided.

Fortunately, there is a set of instructions for life. It is called the Bible. Many people think the Bible is out of date and no longer relevant to our post-modern culture. They clearly have not read the Bible carefully. The stories in the Bible reveal people dealing with many of the very same problems that we hear about daily. In the Bible we can find stories of people facing financial issues, family problems, war, crime, and corrupt governments. We can find stories of believers making right choices, as well as believers making terrible choices. The Bible is full of stories about how people dealt with real life issues. It also contains a lot of helpful advice about how we can deal with our own issues. Though life is complicated, if we follow the instructions God gave us, like the movie display my friend and I assembled, life can end up looking good when we get to the end.

Lord, help us to study the Bible more and follow Your directions for life. 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:


Monday, November 24, 2014

Haman’s Fall

Esther 6:12-13 - Then Mordecai returned to the King’s Gate, but Haman, overwhelmed, hurried off for home with his head covered.  Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened. His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai is Jewish, and you have begun to fall before him, you won’t overcome him, because your downfall is certain.”

In the story of Esther, we meet Haman, who was an enemy of the Jews. Haman plotted genocide against the Jews, but had a special hatred for one particular Jew, Mordecai, who refused to bow down to him as he walked by.

In chapter six, the King realized that Mordecai once had done him a great favor that had not yet been rewarded, so he called Haman in and told him to go honor Mordecai for the unrewarded deed. Though Haman hated Mordecai, he had no choice but to do what the King commanded, even if he loathed every moment of it.

When Haman got home that night he whined to his family and friends about having to pay homage to Mordecai that day, the very Jew who had refused to honor him. He was expecting sympathy. But their answer to him was startling: “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him" (Esther 6:12 NAS).

It is amazing that Haman's friends, who had no love for the Jews, recognized that the Jews were special and that Haman would not be able to stand against them. Whether Haman's friends had access to the Old Testament or not, they clearly understood the teaching of Genesis 12:3, where God promised Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

Almost since the beginning of Jewish history, there have been those who have sought to destroy the Jewish people. Time and time again they have been persecuted, often with great enthusiasm. But through God's supernatural protection, the Jewish people have survived.

In our century, the media have somehow painted the Jews as the bad people of the Middle East. Any effort they make to defend themselves from far superior numbers of enemies gets spun to somehow make the Jews the aggressors instead of the victims. We may not always agree with the tactics that the modern nation of Israel uses against her enemies, but we should not be foolish enough to put ourselves in Haman’s place. The Jews are still God's chosen people, and if we stand against them, our fall is inevitable.

Lord, help us be a blessing to the Jewish people and remember that if we bless them, You will bless us, but if we curse them, then we will be cursed. 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, November 21, 2014

Don't Despair - God Has a Plan

Psalm 18:1-3 - I love You, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies.

All of us could make a list of troubles and difficulties we have experienced in life. We could also give testimony of ways in which God was our refuge in those difficult times. Like David, we can attest that the Lord is worthy to be praised.

But if we keep reading Psalm 18, we see the depths of despair that David went through before the Lord delivered him. David talked about ropes of death wrapped around him and snares of death confronting him. Both of those phrases are powerful visual images of how bad David’s situation was. Most of our problems do not take us to the edge of death and back. But David knew such deep turmoil in his soul because of the range of troubles that he had been through. Perhaps that is why his love for God shone so brightly.

When we go through difficult times we are often tempted to be angry at God for letting us down. According to verse 5, David went through a living hell, yet he did not become bitter or angry. Instead he said God’s way was perfect and that God would make his way perfect too. Difficulties make us bitter or they make us better. If we choose faith in God, we find the strength to go down the path of betterment instead of bitterness.

Though we do not always understand God's plan for our lives, we can rest in the assurance that God does indeed have a plan. God's ways are perfect, and as we learn to love Him more, He can make our ways perfect too. Regardless of what we are facing today, let us choose the path of faith and give praise to a God who has all things under control.

Lord, help the difficulties of our lives make us better, not bitter. 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:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Interview with Jay Moore

Terry Dorsett
I want to introduce my readers to Jay Moore, a man with a tremendous passion to help ordinary people be a light of the gospel to those a round them. Recently I interviewed Jay about his ministry and about a book he has written. You can read that interview below.

Terry: Jay, you have been in ministry for 30 years. You have served as a pastor in a local church, but also have done a lot of work in the area of church planting. Can you tell us about the current ministry you are involved in and how you got involved?

Jay: At this time I serve as the Strategy Coordinator for Fellowship Of the Cross in Tucson, Arizona. FOTC is designed to be a network of small organic churches that meet in homes, offices or any place where a small group of people can gather. Also, through FOTC we provide Reproducing Disciple Making Basic Training for other existing churches that want to develop a more missional posture in their communities by training their church members to be missionaries in their own communities. We use the T4T Training process that was developed by Ying Kai while he was in China as an IMB strategy coordinator. This training was used by God to ignite the largest church planting movement in modern history and has been adapted in many other cultures around the world with tremendous success.

Terry: In this ministry you speak to a lot of leaders in churches. Tell us 2-3 key things you have learned about church members in your conversations with them.

Jay:
1) The most compelling thing that I hear from church members all around North America is that they are tired of being spectators watching a religious performance. They have a Holy discontent and feel there has to be more than just going to a church building a few times a week, participating in church programs, watching a few people perform on Sundays and giving their money. Many Christians have trouble articulating this discontent, but they do know that God wants more from them and whatever that is has to be more significant than what they have been offered to participate in thus far.

2) I have also learned that ordinary Christians who have been trained to develop a lifestyle of reproducing disciple making can’t get enough of it. They are sharing with me that being involved in the Great Commission and living with that purpose has brought them the greatest satisfaction they have ever known.

3) Perhaps surprisingly, church members have shared with me that they wish their pastors would trust them more, train them better and provide more opportunities to go make disciples in their communities and not just in a church building or within the confines of a church program.


Terry: As you have learned these things, you wrote a book. Tell us about the book.

Jay Moore
Jay: THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE: A Journey Into Missional Living was written for the purpose of empowering, encouraging and equipping ordinary Christians to live powerful missional lives where the Light of Christ shines brightly through them and into their part of this dark world. It is written primarily for ordinary people who have no special theological education so they can become competent and confident in making disciples. However, even though it wasn’t written for pastors I do believe it would be beneficial for pastor to read so as to use it as a tool for training their members.

The book starts off with a missional parable of Two Brave Little Lights that leave their well lit, safe home to venture out into the dark and shine their light in obedience to what the First Light has commanded. The reader will get to join them in their missional living discovery, their fears of leaving the safety and comfort of their home and the challenges and lessons learned by going out into the dark world. This parable is intended to show how North American Christians need to leave their church buildings and get out into their communities to share Jesus – to shine the Light of Christ.


The book teaches the Three Basic Skills that every Christian needs to learn and master in order to effectively live a missional life. It will emphasize the turning of these skills into a natural part of a Christian’s lifestyle. The book will reveal Three Common Roadblocks that hinder a Christian from developing the three basic skills. These roadblocks will prevent them from forming into a habit and lifestyle. It will also give the solutions to overcome those roadblocks. Finally, the book will lead the reader through a step by step process that will help them develop their own personalized strategy for missional living.

Terry: Who will benefit the most from reading this book and why?

Jay: Ordinary Christians who are tired of going to church a couple of times per week to watch a performance and are ready to get out of the bleachers and onto the field to be part of the game. They are the Christians who feel there has to be more to this Christian life than what has been offered and they are ready to discover what it is and wholeheartedly go after it.

Terry: What is the main thing you would like people to walk away with after reading your book?

Jay: YOU CAN DO THIS! Being part of the Great Commission and becoming a reproducing disciple maker is not rocket science! Jesus made disciple making so simple and reproducible that even common fishermen could do it powerfully.


Terry: If you could offer one piece of advice to Christians and the churches they attend, what would it be?

Jay: Pastors & Churches need to intentionally raise up, train up and unleash their church members to be missionaries in their communities. Churches need to train their members to be reproducing disciple makers.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Two Sides of a Coin: Self-Promotion and Jealousy

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 - Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory. Give no offense to the Jews or the Greeks or the church of God, just as I also try to please all people in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, so that they may be saved.

As a Christian author, I feel called by God to write as a way to share His love with others. Part of being a Christian author is that I have to spend a certain amount of my time promoting what I write. Without question most of the Christian authors I know agree that self-promotion is the most distasteful part of their ministries. Most of us try hard to spend more time writing things that are helpful to others than we do promoting those writings, but it can be a challenging balancing act. It is especially challenging when other Christians accuse us of being self-promoters instead of genuine ministers. While there are some authors who probably are guilty of that, and they can be very annoying, most just want to spread God’s love through the ministry of writing. When people accuse well-meaning Christian authors of self-promotion, sometimes they are just jealous. The accusation of being self-promoting that is based on jealousy exists not only in the realm of writing, but also rears its ugly head in many different types of ministry.

For example, pastors of churches that do not do outreach accuse fellow pastors who use mass mailing or newsprint ads as being self-promoters. In reality, pastors using ads simply have a deep burden for the lost and want to use every means possible to reach as many as possible. To those pastors ads are promoting the Gospel of the Kingdom. Those pastors care not whether people know who they are; they just want people to know who Jesus is.

What about a pastor who has a radio or television program? Is he a self-promoter because he gains a certain degree of name recognition through those avenues of ministry? Clearly, it is possible that his ego might swell, and he could become a self-promoter. But many good pastors preach faithfully from their pulpits, and their sermons are broadcast to the community without falling prey to ego. They are not promoting themselves; they are seeking to join God in His efforts of world evangelization.

What about Christian leaders who feel led to start Bible colleges or other ministry training programs? Do they do this to promote themselves, or because they want to train others to teach and preach the Word so that all people can have a chance to hear the Gospel before the Lord's return?

In any of these examples, it is possible for people to be self-promoters, but it is also possible for them to simply be following the leading of the Spirit to expand the Kingdom of God, using the gifts and skills that God has given them. The fact that they may become well-known for their ministries is immaterial. Those who may never be known must make sure not to be critical of those who may achieve some level of fame. Jealousy is unbecoming for Christians. Attempting to mask jealousy under thinly veiled attacks on the character of others by calling them self-promoters reveals wicked and evil hearts.

Let’s rejoice when a church down the road grows beyond the size of our own. Let’s rejoice that people listen to other pastors on the radio or television and grow in their faith. Let’s rejoice that some writers have the ability to say things in ways that inspire, educate, and motivate people to grow as Christians. Let’s rejoice in what God is doing in His kingdom instead of trying to tear it down. Let’s stop using the accusation of being self-promoters as a weapon to attack those of whom we are jealous of. Instead, let’s spend our energy and efforts lifting up Jesus.

Lord, help everything we do be for Your glory and not our own. 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: