Friday, August 1, 2014

Living in a State of Peace

Most mornings I take a long walk to start my day. I walk for both physical and spiritual reasons. It keeps me in shape and I pray about things while I walk. One of my favorite places to walk is around the town reservoir near my home. Though we live in a fairly densely populated region, the reservoir is surrounded by woods and it is common for me to see various types of wildlife. But the other day I got a real shock when a bear crossed the path in front of me. He came right out of the woods fifteen feet in front of me, stopped in the middle of the path and looked me in the eye, apparently decided I was not appetizing enough for breakfast, and then he got into the water and swam across the reservoir.

In the brief time that he looked at me, I did wonder if I was about to die. As I quickly breathed the prayer, “Lord, I’m coming home,” the moment passed and I realized he was not going to charge me. As he swam away, I was relieved and happy that I would live to see another day. You may find my little encounter with the bear a bit humorous, but at the moment in which it happened, it was not funny at all. It could have easily ended quite differently.


As I have reflected on my experience for a couple of weeks, it occurs to me that this is one reason why we must live in such a way that we are always ready to meet Jesus. We cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that we are young and death is a long way off. Even a walk in the woods near our home is potentially life threatening. We can either huddle in the basement hiding from the world, or we can live in such a way that we are always at peace with God. Living in a state of peace with God begins with knowing Christ as our Savior. It continues by spending time each day with Him, reading His Word, sharing our struggles with Him through prayer, confessing any sins we may have committed and committing ourselves to follow His guidance in our daily lives. Living in such a way that we are at peace with God brings blessings in this life, as well as in the life to come.


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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, giggling grandfather, thankful cancer survivor, and the author of numerous books aimed at helping small churches become healthier and individual Christians grow in their faith. You can find his books at:


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How To Write A Lot

The other day I was chatting with my co-elders at the church we serve together. One of them asked me how I could write so many books because it takes him a long time to write just a simple blog post. I have thought about his question for a few days and it occurs to me that I am simply following some advice that David Jeremiah offered some years ago. I was in a pastors’ conference and one of the pastors asked David Jeremiah that same question. He responded that much of what he wrote first originated in one of his sermon series or Bible studies. When he finished a Bible study or sermon series that he thought had been particularly effective, he would take a little extra time to refine it. He would then use an editor to help him polish it up and a book was born.

I thought that was good advice, so I started doing it too. Though my stuff is nowhere near the quality of David Jeremiah’s, I do think the Lord has given me insight on certain topics. All six of my books have started as a training seminar, Bible study or sermon series. Even my book of children’s puzzles came from a year-long Bible study I led for children. I figure that if I put all that work into creating outlines and notes for those presentations, then I can take a little more time and refine those notes into paragraphs and chapters. It does take extra time and pushes my thinking deeper than it would otherwise, but I see that as a good investment of my time and thinking. Far more people have read my books and my blog than have ever attended one of my training seminars or listened to one of my sermons. My writing extends my ministry many fold.

I think this style of writing is a good idea for most Bible teachers and preachers. Why work so hard on a sermon series and then just put it in a file two months later for it to sit unused. Take the time to develop it some more, especially if the Lord has given you a particular interest in some topic or issue. Take the quality of your thinking to a deeper level. Turn outlines in paragraphs and paragraphs into chapters. Then share what God has shown you with the world. Do not expect to make a lot of money or become famous. After all, there are only so many David Jeremiah’s in the world. But your ministry can be expanded through writing and God can use it to build His Kingdom. Write brothers and sisters, write!



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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, giggling grandfather, thankful cancer survivor, and the author of numerous books aimed at helping small churches become healthier and individual Christians grow in their faith. You can find his books at:


Sunday, July 20, 2014

How to Share Our Testimony

John 1:35-41
35 Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and noticed them following Him, He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are You staying?” 39 Come and you’ll see, He replied. So they went and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day. It was about 10 in the morning. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Him.41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, We have found the Messiah! (which means Anointed One), 42 and he brought Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, He said, You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas, which means Rock.

Context:
          This passage introduces us to John the Baptist, the great prophet and somewhat eccentric preacher. John constantly explained who Jesus was to those around him and many of them became followers of Jesus.
          One of John’s followers who began to follow Jesus was Andrew. Andrew immediately began to share his faith with others. Andrew was not a preacher, he was just a guy who had been changed by his faith in Christ and wanted others to experience that blessing too.
          The first person Andrew shared his faith with was his own brother, Simon. Andrew told Simon he had found the Messiah and then brought Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw Simon He gave him a new name. In that culture a person’s name meant everything. Changing one’s name was rare and normally only happened when a person’s life was so changed that they were no longer the same person they were before. That happened to Peter and he became a powerful preacher and one of the key leaders of the early church.
          Many of us came to faith because a preacher told us about Jesus. We came to understand who Jesus is and committed our lives to following Him. Like Andrew, we have an obligation to share our faith with others, even if we are not preachers. We should start by sharing with those closest to us, including family and close friends. We should want every one of our family and friends to come to faith in Christ. Imagine if one or two of them become powerful leaders in God’s church like Peter did!
          There are many ways to share our faith with our friends. One way is to share our testimony with them. Our testimony is simply our story of how we came to faith in Christ and what Christ has done in our life.

          Our testimony has four key parts:
1.     What our lives were like before we became Christians.
None of us were born Christians, therefore we all have a time in our lives in which we were pre-Christians. When sharing our pre-Christian story, we do not have to include every dark or dirty detail because we do not want to glorify sin, but we need to set the stage so those we are sharing with so they understand our lives before Christ.

2.     What caused us to first begin to turn to God.
At some point in our lives, God reached out to us and began to draw us to Himself. This was often through some specific event or period in our lives, such as the death of a loved one, the break-up of a marriage or some challenge to our faith that shook us in some way. Though this is not the actual moment when we became Christians, it is what caused us to realize our relationship with God was not what it should be.

3.     The circumstances of how we received Christ into our lives.
This is where we talk about the moment everything clicked in our minds and we personally made a commitment to Christ. This is where God brings together what we have heard about repentance, faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection to atone for our sins, and the grace of God all comes together and we not only express belief in all of these truths, but we make the commitment to follow Christ as the Savior and Lord of our lives. This experience is called many different things by different Christian traditions, such being born again, being saved, getting religion, finding Jesus, getting the Spirit, being converted or finding peace with God.

4.     How our lives have changed as a result of our faith in Christ.
If Christ really came into our lives, then our lives are changed in some way. Perhaps we have overcome anger and resentment. Perhaps we gave up some bad habits or gained some positive habits. Perhaps we learned to appreciate the Bible, worship and the people of God in a greater way. Perhaps we changed our minds on a number of crucial life issues. The changes that come through faith in Christ are different for each person because we all start in different places. But since we all come to God the Father through the same Gospel of Christ, then change is inevitable. These changes will be positive and we must share them with others.

When we share our testimony, it is often helpful to give a sample prayer our friends might use to accept Jesus if they want to. This is especially important if they are not particularly religious and are not sure how to pray. Then we should invite them to pray that prayer, or some other one they might make up on their own so they can receive Christ. It is important to make sure they understand it is the grace of God, expressed by their sincere faith in Christ alone as they repent of their sins that guarantees them eternal salvation, not the specific words of a sample prayer. Otherwise they might trust a prayer instead of God Himself for salvation.

When we share our faith with others, what types of responses might we expect?

      Some will receive Jesus – which always causes our hearts to rejoice
      Some will want to think about it – this is not a bad thing, as it is not a decision to be entered into lightly
      Some will want to ask questions – this is not a bad thing either and it is okay if we do not know all the answers to their questions.
      Some will reject it – which is always a sad experience. But we should remember that the seeds we sow in their hearts might bear fruit many years down the road. Regretfully, if they never respond to the Gospel positively, there is nothing we can do about it. We will never argue or debate someone into becoming a Christian. Ultimately, how they respond is between them and God. But it is our holy obligation to tell them about Jesus so they at least have the chance to make a decision for themselves.


We live in a world that is quickly losing its understanding of who Christ is. Though we cannot control how people will respond to the Gospel, we must share it with as many people as possible. Though there are many ways to do this, sharing our testimony is an important way.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Books for a Great Cause!

I am proud of all three of my kids, each of whom have entered adulthood without self-destructing on the landmines that hurt so many young people. As a proud parent, I want to help each of my children fulfill their dreams. Let me tell you about one of those dreams. One of my sons, Jonas, is about to embark on a four month trip to Thailand. He will engage in faith-based community development projects through a special program with the Christian college he attends. He is looking forward to the adventure and to sharing his faith in a way that fits his personality and abilities. To help make all this possible, I am donating ALL the proceeds of ALL of my books during the month of July to help supplement the cost of his trip. You can find the whole list of books at this link:
http://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Terry-W.-Dorsett/e/B00405U4NY/


I am also running a 99 CENT special until July 21 on the Kindle versions of three of those books. You can get all three e-books for what would normally be the price of one. The three books are described below, with a link to each book to make it easy to find.

Teaming Up: Learning to Use Our Spiritual Gifts Effectively
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JGU6WTI
This book helps readers learn how to use their spiritual gifts in conjunction with other people in the body of Christ so churches can function more effectively. Great for either individual or group study.

Malachi: Finding Hope in the Midst of Adversity
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ASDEOGU
This book helps readers take a fresh look at the Old Testament book of Malachi. A book that is often seen in a negative light actually has a powerful thread of hope running through it. Great for either individual or group study.

Touching the Footprints of Jesus
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ASDB7LA
This book is a month long daily devotional guide that takes readers on a journey of the Holy Land. Based on a trip my wife and I took to the Holy Land, readers will see how the scriptures relate to the geographic and historic places that Christians and Jews have valued for centuries. All the pictures in this book were taken by my wife.

I have another book about to come out. That book is entitled "The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences." All the proceeds from that book for the rest of 2014 will also support this trip. Watch my blog, Facebook page and twitter account for upcoming announcements about that book.

Feel free to hit share this post with others so that as many as possible can hear about how they can help.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

God Uses My Blog In Unexpected Ways

I posted to this blog for the first time on January 7, 2009. I wanted to help small churches be more effective in sharing Christ with all ages, but especially with the next generation. To my surprise, since that cold January day so many years ago, 152,042 people have visited my blog. Building a readership was slow, but now, depending on the month, 3,000 to 4,000 people visit my blog. I trust that as people read one of the 729 blog posts on 65 different topics, the original goal is being accomplished.

When I started my blog, I was serving as a bivocational pastor in Vermont. My second job was to direct the work of my denomination in the state. I assumed that the only people who would read it would be the small circle of friends I had in Vermont. Therefore, I was surprised when I recently analyzed some statistics on my blog to learn how people found it. As suspected, very few people found it because of me. In fact, only about 5% of visitors to my site were searching for my name. Good thing my goal was not to become famous, because that did not happen.

The vast majority of people who discovered my blog, did so though a Google search for one of the topics I write about. Though my blog posts are often about how small churches can be healthy and about the importance of reaching the next generation, those are not the topics that normally drive people to my site. God has a way of keeping us humble, even when over 152,000 people drop by to say hello! What did people read about on my site? I just did a complete analysis of my blog traffic and here is what I learned.

Without question, the number one search that draws people to my site is when they search for the key words “changing churches.” I wrote a post some time ago (read it here) about that topic. I have followed up on it a couple of times with related posts, but it is not a topic that I discuss frequently. Yet my limited posts on that subject have drawn a huge interest. A lot of people are considering changing from one church to another and my posts have apparently helped them think through that process.

The second key word combination that drives people to my site is anything with a combination of “Apollos” and “Jesus.” Though I do talk about Jesus a lot on my site, Apollos has only made a couple of posts. However, when people put those two words together, Google apparently thinks I have something worthwhile to say because my posts on the topic come up near the top of the search.

The third key word combination that drives a lot of traffic to my site is “types of sermons” and “how to deliver a sermon.” I have written extensively on these topics, especially as it relates to bivocational pastors and lay preachers. Since I write often about these topics, it is not surprising that the rather large volume of posts on those issues draws readers to my blog. I pray that my thoughts on the subject have been a blessing to many.

Finally, my various posts on the importance of baptism have drawn a lot of readers as well. As a Baptist, this issue is important to me. I thought my views were pretty mainstream but have been surprised when some of my posts on baptism produced controversial comments from those who hold to different views than I do on the subject. One particular post, on how baptism relates to church membership has drawn a large number of readers. On more than one occasion someone has quoted something I have written about baptism on other sites and I learned about it only after the fact when friends found it and sent me a link. Though I never thought of myself as an expert on baptism, apparently Google thinks I know more about it than I really do. It is interesting how God chooses to use us in ministry.

What is the point of this post? First, God's ways are not always our ways. Though I started a blog to accomplish a fairly narrow purpose, God has chosen to use it in other ways as well. Second, it is surprising what people are interested in reading. Though they do not always read the posts I want them to, I rejoice that anything they read on the blog helps others understand the Lord better and serve Him more effectively. Third, it is important to keep writing because the Lord has touched far more people through my writing than through my preaching. I have preached in churches as small as 6 and as big as 2,000, but if all the attendees were added together, it would be no where close to 150,000 people. Therefore, I am thankful that God has given me the gift of writing so that I can impact more people for the Lord. If you have a burden to write, I want to encourage you to pursue that calling. It may take awhile to build a readership, but just keep writing. God will use it in unexpected ways.


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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, giggling grandfather, thankful cancer survivor, and the author of numerous books aimed at helping small churches become healthier and individual Christians grow in their faith. You can find his books at:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Honoring God With Our Lips, But Not Our Hearts

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of accepting that an all-knowing God is in control of the universe even when His activities make no sense to our finite minds (YOU CAN READ THAT POST HERE). In that post, I distinguished between people of faith and those who do not have faith. Today I want to break that down a little more by talking about those who have a deep personal faith in God and those who only have an surface faith. 

In the region of the nation where I live, 74% of the population claims to be Christians. But the lifestyles of that mass of people do not back up the claim. For example, though 31% of the people in my state claim to attend church "regularly," when compared with actually church attendance, it is closer to 7-15%. Though the area in which I live is one of the most affluent in the nation, charitable giving ranks near the bottom on the national scale. Here is an interesting statistic, 54% of residents of my state claim to be "non-religious" even though 74% of them refer to themselves as Christians. By their own admission they are "non-religious Christians." Something is wrong with that descriptive phrase, especially when it is applied to over half of the population.

The prophet Isaiah talks about this kind of surface level faith: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden" (Isaiah 29: 13-14). God knows our hearts. He sees when our faith is genuine and sincere and when we are just going through the motions because we think it makes us look better in front of others. When people get to the point where their outward religious rituals no longer reflect their true belief systems, something is wrong. In this passage, God says that He would do something wonderful in their midst. While at first that may sound great, it actually is not. One might assume that if God does a big miracle then everyone would rediscover genuine faith. But God does miracles all the time and people just explain them away, deny they happened or simply ignore them. The context of this passage is that God was going to allow difficulties to come that would be so great that it would separate the true believers from those who only had a surface faith. The calamity would be so huge that all the "wisdom" of the world will fail. If one keeps reading in Isaiah, that happened to the Jewish people, and in a big way.

Just as the people in Isaiah's day had reached a tipping point and required a big intervention from a holy God, our own culture is reaching a similar tipping point. We have gone through the motions long enough, pretending to be a Christian nation, when in reality our hearts were far from God. It is time to get serious about our faith. If we claim to be Christians, we should live lives that reflect it. At the very least we should be treating our neighbors in ways that display Christian love and we should be showing up at church often enough to be considered "regular" attendees. But I think sincere believers will go much further than that in living out our faith. Our faith should permeate every area of our lives and be evident for all to see. That is the kind of faith that we need. That is the kind of faith our world needs. That is the kind of faith that pleases the Lord. Do we have that kind of faith?

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, giggling grandfather, thankful cancer survivor, and the author of numerous books aimed at helping small churches become healthier and individual Christians grow in their faith. You can find his books at:

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Potter and the Clay

It happened again the other day. I was having a conversation with an intelligent well educated young man who was struggling in his faith. Though he used lofty terms and fancy philosophical talk to express himself, what it boiled down to was that he did not like the way God was running the world. He did not understand why God allowed certain  things to happen in his own life. God's purposes in many things did not make sense to him. Therefore, he concluded, God must not be real.

I have these conversation often with young adults. They are not debates. Normally the people I have these conversations with are not angry (or least not at me!). But they are struggling to come to terms with what they see in the world around them and with what they are experiencing in their own lives. Though I wish I had some easy answers to give them that would make everything crystal clear in their minds and help them resolve all their inner conflicts, I rarely find easy answers to such complex questions.

To be honest, I am not sure there are answers for some questions, at least not answers that our finite minds can totally grasp. I think some things are just mysteries and we have to accept them as part of life. Some mysteries are wonderful, such as when we fall in love. Other mysteries are not so wonderful, such as when someone we love hurts us deeply. Both are mysteries. Most people will experience both in life.

For people of faith, such as myself, we accept that God's wisdom is deeper than our own. Though our understanding of some things is limited by our finite minds, God's mind is infinite and sees things from not just a bigger perspective, but from an entirely different perspective. One of the mysteries that people of faith have learned to accept is that God knows what He is doing, even when it makes no sense whatsoever to us.

Those without faith struggle to accept the reality that an all-knowing God is working things out in a way that is right and just. They observe things that do not make sense to their limited understanding of the universe and wrongly conclude that God has made a mistake, or does not exist at all. Some rage against God in their frustration at not being able to understand all that He is doing. The words of the prophet Isaiah come to mind. "Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, Who sees us? Who knows us? You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, He did not make me; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, He has no understanding (Isaiah 29:15-16)?

Though there will be times we do not understand what God is doing in the world around us, or in our own lives, we must remember that He is the potter and we are the clay. He molds us and shapes us in ways that set a course for us to discover His purpose for our lives. Just as a piece of clay lacks the ability to understand why a potter is kneading it, so we often lack understanding of why God does certain things. But in the end, a good potter makes something worthwhile out of a lump of clay. Likewise, a good God will make something worthwhile out of our lives, indeed, out of our entire messed up world, as He continues kneading us into what we should be. Instead of raging against God, let us humbly thank Him today for molding and shaping us into something of great value.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, giggling grandfather, thankful cancer survivor, and the author of numerous books aimed at helping small churches become healthier and individual Christians grow in their faith. You can find his books at: