Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Grace of Giving

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
          2 Corinthians 9:7


It was an awkward email to read. A pastor I have known for over a decade wrote and asked to be removed from our mailing list. He was offended that a recent email had included a link recipients could use to make an online gift. He liked receiving our email newsletter so he could stay informed of what was going on in our area, but he did not want to be asked to give. I responded with appreciation for his past partnership and assured him I would remove him from the list. The following day a letter arrived from a couple I had met a few years ago at a meeting. I had not seen them in several years but we corresponded several times a year via letter. Their letter included an incredibly generous gift and a note thanking me for providing an opportunity for them to give. They also requested that I let them know about specific needs they might be able to help with in the future. 

The contrast between the two notes reminds me of how the grace of giving works. For some people, giving is reluctant, done out of duty, and often results in the smallest gift that still feels respectable. For others, giving is a cheerful experience. It brings joy and happiness because the givers know their gift is making a difference for the Gospel. They rejoice in knowing they were able to join God in His mission. 


In the two examples I gave, for one, giving was merely a duty, and perhaps not a duty that was enjoyable or fulfilling. For the other, it was an honor and privilege to give, and they excelled in the grace of giving. 

What I find amazing about people who excel at the grace of giving, is that they are often not the ones who have the most to give. They may not have a lot of excess to give, but what they have, they give freely and with great joy. Their level of giving often exceeds what is normal for people in their income bracket. Those with a heart to give find deep fulfillment and purpose in giving. Praise God for them!

As the person responsible for overseeing a small army of missionaries seeking to reach a spiritually barren region of the nation, I pray often for God to raise up cheerful givers that He can use to fund the army of missionaries I lead. Could you be one of those givers? If so, send me an email at tdorsett@bcne.net and I can share ways you can excel in the grace of giving. God is doing a great work in our region of the nation. I am never embarrassed to invite others to join in His mission through prayer, volunteering and through the grace of giving.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He 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 writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

http://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Terry-W.-Dorsett/e/B00405U4NY

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Matthew 18 Forgiveness - Guest Post by Daniel Demars

Most people who have been following the Lord for a reasonable amount of time recognize the importance practicing forgiveness and mercy. They grasp the concept that in light of both the holiness and mercy of God, holding onto grudges or desiring vengeance is neither Christ-like or healthy. They understand that harboring bitterness towards anyone is not evidence of spiritual regeneration. We know all of this. Yet I’ve spoken with people who confided that although they believe they’d forgiven, still find themselves upset about a situation to the point that it affects their lives. It’s entirely possible to make an intellectual decision to forgive, and to no longer wish for “karma” to fall on someone we are angry with, yet fail to cast the hurt brought on by the offense. 
Forgiveness is not always a one and done, quick release formula. The Lord gives us an image of a continuous approach. (Mat 18:21-22) The God who created us calls us to love people in response to His kindness, with reconciliation and humility. I can attest that at times I truly believed I had forgiven someone, only to find that the bitterness from a particular past situation was still on my heart. I found this hurt manifesting itself in other areas of my life. This greatly impeded my walk, emotional and spiritual well-being, and attitude towards life. When the Lord opened my eyes through His word it brought a new sense of liberation that changed the way I approach EVERYTHING. 
We must remember that forgiveness is NOT pretending it never happened. It is acknowledging real hurt before Holy God, and finding comfort His goodness. Knowing that He hates whatever wrong has been done to us, and that it has been paid for, along with every sin we have committed, based solely on the blood of Christ. Our immediate concern shouldn’t be gaining peace, but being obedient to God and bringing Him glory. We will come out the other side of the experience with Godly peace, but the process may be a refining process requiring sacrifice and submission. 
We might need to repent for assuming we are entitled to convenience in life, and instead embrace longsuffering and denial. We should reach out and make peace with whomever we feel has wronged us. (Mark 11:25) This may involve some uncomfortable conversations, which the Holy Spirit can adequately handle. We should lift the other party up in prayer and recognize that the Lord went to the cross for them with the same passion He has for us.
When we are actively involved in praying for someone, it is tremendously difficult to harbor anger towards them. We also identify areas in our own lives where we have fallen short in living a life of sacrifice. If we feel insulted, we need to remember God sees us as redeemed. If we feel we’ve been robbed, we need to remember God provides all our needs and ask for a generous spirit. If we feel betrayed, we should proclaim that God will never leave us, and ask for a spirit of commitment to others. This is yet another process of being conformed to the image of Christ.
And in it all, we must give glory to God. 




Daniel Demars lives in central Massachusetts. He is in the food distribution business and in his spare time enjoys driving for Uber where he says he is “cruising for cash and making friends along the way.”

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Freedom Isn't Free - Guest Post by Jim Fontaine


“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (Galatians 5: 13)

     On Independence Day, we always celebrate the freedom that came hundreds of years ago to this country. Freedom was bought through the blood and sacrifices of many…and we owe those brave men and women a great debt of thanks. It is a reminder that freedom is not free, either for the one who buys it or the one who receives it.

     The same is true of the freedom Jesus bought for us 2000 years ago on Mount Calvary. The freedom Christians enjoy came at a very great cost since Jesus gave His life to make us free from sin. Through accepting the Name of Jesus in faith and receiving what He did on the Cross for our salvation, we have eternal life, full and free. Our behavior, therefore, should always reflect who we are, not who we were. Our behavior should reflect how grateful we are to God for His precious and undeserved gift.

     But, there are many who abuse their freedom as Christians, claiming that the freedom they have in Christ now allows them to live any way they want, even if that means living in sin, living the same way as they did before they were saved. They say things like, “I believe in Jesus! And since I do, I can live however I want because He’ll forgive me of all my sins!” The problem with that kind of thinking is that Jesus calls us to be more like Him (Romans 8: 29); to become holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1: 16); to put on the new self, which has been created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4: 24).

     How can we say we are Christ-like when we are living in sin? Is that the kind of freedom Jesus has called us to? Can Christians sin as much as they want now that their sins are all covered by the blood of Jesus? The answer is an emphatic NO! Yes, we are called to be free! But, we are also called to be more Christ-like every day. We are not to live in sin anymore. Freedom in Christ is NOT the freedom to do what we want when we want; it is the freedom to do what God wants and to please Him because we love Him.

     After the evacuation of troops from Richmond, Virginia on April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln walked the streets of the city with his son Tad. Former slaves gathered to meet the President, thanking the man who had set them free. President Lincoln stopped at one point to address former slaves. In his book, Life of Abraham Lincoln, author Clifton Nichols wrote down the President’s challenge:

My poor friends, you are free – as free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it; it will come to you no more. Liberty is your birthright. God gave it to you as he gave it to others, and it is a sin that you have been deprived of it for so many years. But you must try to deserve this priceless boon. Let the world see that you merit it, and are able to maintain it by your good works. Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses; learn the laws, and obey them. Obey God’s commandments, and thank him for giving you liberty, for to him you owe all things.” [1]

Much of what Lincoln said to former slaves, Paul said to the Galatians and to us. If you have professed faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, you ARE free! God has given it to you as a precious, undeserved gift of His grace. Freedom is your Christian birthright!

     But do not use or abuse your freedom in Christ by continuing to live in sin. Do not dishonor the Savior who died for your sins by thinking that it is OK to sin. Freedom in Christ is NOT freedom to sin. Instead, show that you are free in Christ by living the way God wants us to live, in obedience to His commands; by loving and serving one another in the body of Christ; by loving and serving our neighbors as an outflow of the love of God that is in our hearts. Contrary to what the world would tell us, freedom is not the ability to do what you want, when you want to do it. Freedom in Christ is a gift from God…and there are boundaries to that freedom. Let us always glorify the Savior who freed us by living lives that truly honor the sacrifice He made on our behalf.


[1] Clifton Melvin Nichols, Life of Abraham Lincoln (Springfield, OH: Mast, Crowell & Kirkpatrick, 1896), page 232.


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Jim Fontaine became the pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Brimfield, MA in July 2016 after completing a 13-year pastorate at Burncoat Baptist Church in Worcester, MA. Jim has been married to his wife, Paula, for 24 years and has four children.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Soap, Poison and Popular Food, All in One Fruit!

My family and I were in Jamaica a few months ago. We wanted to see the “real Jamaica,” not the glitzy tourist part. So we hired a taxi driver to show us around the island. We saw typical neighborhoods where the residents actually live and the beaches where Jamaicans relax away from the tourists. Our driver showed us an Ackee tree, which bears the Ackee fruit. This fruit is the national fruit of  Jamaica. Though the fruit is not actually native to the island, it has been on the island so long that many people think it is. 

What I found fascinating about this fruit is that at a certain time during the year it can only be used to make soap. At another time during the year it is edible, but only if you cook it, as it is poisonous when raw. What a bizarre fruit that can be poison, soap and a popular food, all depending on the season of the year and how the fruit is prepared.

People are a lot like the Ackee fruit. I can think of some people who have been a real blessing in my life. Like a popular national dish, I enjoy being around them. Sometimes those same people have had to call me out on mistakes I've made, serving as the "soap" that helps me clean up my act. Regretfully, there have even been times when those very same people have been like poison, impacting my relationships with others in negative ways. Like the Ackee fruit, I've seen the same person be all three things at different points in my relationship with them.

But the difference between people and fruit is that people get to decide what role they will play. Whereas fruit is stuck with whatever role someone else has chosen, people can choose to be a blessing, or a poison, or a cleansing agent in someones life. People can choose to be high maintenance or low maintenance friends. They can choose to impact our lives in positive or negative ways. Let us remember the truth of Proverbs 27:9, "A sweet friendship refreshes the soul." We should determine to be the friend that refreshes others instead of poisoning them. When we choose to be a blessing, our own lives are more fulfilling. So better to be a blessing, or at least soap, than to be poison!
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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He 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 writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Are We Sowing Enough to Reap Abundantly?

2 Corinthians 9:6 – “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

I was fascinated by the older gentleman’s story as he shared it with me. He had grown up incredibly poor. After high school he got a low level job working for the county. Over the years he worked his way up the ladder and got several promotions. But because his life situation never afforded him the opportunity to get an education, he could only advance so far. He eventually hit a ceiling without any further opportunity to advance. He was content with his situation and made enough to provide for his family, it was just enough. He was rarely able to give his family any “extras.” They learned to be content.

The older man went on to explain that one thing he learned as a young man was to tithe. Even though at times it was a real a sacrifice, he and his wife always tithed. Sometimes, they would give beyond his tithe if they heard a family in the church was in need or if a missionary spoke at the church and had some urgent ministry need. He and his wife excelled in the grace of giving even though their income was never more than middle class.

Through an unusual set of circumstances, he was offered the chance to retire early and take all of his retirement from the county in a lump sum. He found a financial planner who took the lump sum and invested it on his behalf. To his pleasant surprise, those investments performed amazingly. In fact, over the next ten years he made more money off of those investments during his retirement than had had made in all of his years of working. Suddenly he found himself with more money than he needed. As a result, he and his wife significantly increased their giving to missionaries and to the needy. 

That is where I came into his story. For three years in a row he and his wife were the largest contributors to the mission work my wife and I were involved in. Their giving made a real difference at a crucial time in our ministry. Though many assumed our largest giver was some rich business tycoon, in reality, he was just a hard-working man who had been faithful with little and God had rewarded him with much.

I once asked him why he thought God had blessed his investments so much. Without hesitation he responded, “God promised that if I sowed generously, He would bless me generously and God kept His promise.” Though my friend has now passed on to glory, I have never forgotten his clear understanding of the sowing/reaping concept. I wish more Christians understood this simple truth as much as he did.

Far too many of us are waiting on some amazing windfall thinking that when it happens, THEN we will give. But this man understood that such windfalls only come AFTER we give, not before. God honors those who demonstrate their faithfulness in giving. Consider this, if God decided that next year He would give you exactly ten times the amount of money that you gave to His work last year, would you have more money or less than you had this year? If we want to reap a harvest in the future, now is the time to start sowing.

Lord, help us learn the power of sowing, knowing that in Your own time and way, You will bless us with the harvest of righteousness. Amen.
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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He 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 writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Why Should We Join A Church?

Hebrews 10:25 - "Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

A few weeks I wrote a post asking if church membership really matters. You can read that post here. I was surprised how many people shared it and commented on it through social media. The post talked about churches that have a lot of names on their membership rolls of people who no longer attend and the reluctance to remove those names because it makes the church sound "bigger" than it really is.

In this post I want to touch on the same subject, but from a different perspective. In my previous post I focused on the perspective of the church who had all those extra names. Now I want to focus on the individuals who have their names on the rolls of churches they no longer attend. Here is a challenging question, why did we join a particular church to begin with? Was it to please our parents or grandparents? Was it because other young people our age were going through the confirmation/membership process and we just followed the crowd? Were we looking for new friends? Were we looking for business connections that a faith community might offer? Were we looking for a place to have a wedding, funeral or other family experience? None of those reasons are necessarily wrong. But they are probably not the purest motivations for joining a church. When we join churches for these reasons, we are seldom as loyal, committed, and involved as we should be. Joining a church for the wrong motivation often results in an attitude of what can we get from the church instead of what we can contribute to it. We might find ourselves gone for weeks, or months, at a time until a need comes up in our lives that the church might meet.  This is not healthy for us, nor is it healthy for the church.

So why should we join a church? The main reason to join a church is because we agree with their mission and purpose and we want to help move that mission and purpose forward. That does not mean we have to agree with everything in the church, but it does mean that we support the overall direction the church is moving in. It also means we need to do our part to help the church fulfill that mission and purpose. A church filled with people who have this type of motivation will be a healthy church and one that is making a real difference in the community.

Sadly, too many of us want all the benefits of having a church be there for us when we need it, but too few of us are willing to do the work to keep the church healthy between our times of need. That is not realistic. Though churches may be able to eek out some way to survive under those conditions, those churches will not be healthy or making the impact in their community they could be making. 

If we are going to join a church, we must be willing to rearrange our schedule so we are present more than we are absent. We must be willing to rearrange our budget so our financial contributions are enough to actually make a difference. We must be willing to rearrange our leisure time so we can volunteer. This is what it takes to make a church healthy. Yes, it is a big commitment. It is that very commitment that keeps many people from joining a church. But the challenging question we must ask ourselves is, why should we expect other people to do all the work to keep the church there for us so we can just pop in from time to time, enjoy the service, and then disappear for another 3 months? We need to be givers, not takers. We need to be contributors, not users. 

If we have found a church whose mission and purpose we agree with, then we should go through whatever process is required to become members. Then instead of just being a name on a roll, let's be the best members we can be. If we have not yet found such a church, then keep looking because when we find a healthy church and join it, it is a powerful experience worth all the adjustments in time, giving and volunteering.

Lord, help us find a great church and make a genuine commitment to it. Amen.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He 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 writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Is our Church Vibrant with Life?

Matthew 6:18 - And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

A few months ago I had to fly to Texas for a business trip. Because the city where my meeting was being held also had a cruise port, my wife decided to go with me and we took a cruise a few days before my meeting started. It was a rare opportunity for us to get away together.

As we were leaving the port, we noticed the water in the port was grey and not very pretty. When we arrived at our destination in the Caribbean Sea, the water was strikingly colorful with bands of blue and green. Out of curiosity, I googled why the water was different in color between the two places. Though there are a variety of theories, the bottom line was that the water is so colorful and amazing in the Caribbean because the water is healthy and full of life. Microscopic organisms make the water rich with color and provide a healthy foundation on which the rest of the ecosystem is built. On the contrary, the grey water in the port had very little life left in it, and therefore the ecosystem there was much less healthy, making it less colorful and less beautiful.

There is a powerful spiritual truth to be learned in the contrast between these two types of water. Just like one body of water had more life and beauty than the other, some churches have more life and beauty than others. Some churches have endured so much spiritual pollution over the years there is little life left in them. They go through the motions but it lacks the vitality it once had. The entire spiritual ecosystem has been compromised. Though it is possible for it to be brought back to health, that cannot happen without radical alteration of fundamental actions and even then it will take a long period of time.

Other churches have a healthy spiritual foundation, and therefore a healthy spiritual environment where Christians in various stages of life can grow and thrive. Those churches have colorful ministries and powerful life giving programs. They are stunning to observe, and rightly so.

The contrast between the two is clear to anyone with eyes to see. Though it can be painful we must ask ourselves what is our church like? Is it filled with spiritual pollution or is it healthy? If we realize our church is unhealthy, what can we do to help rejuvenate it so new life can emerge? We know the Lord wants our church to be healthy. If we are willing to do our part to bring that about, we know the Lord will bless those efforts. But as long as we live in denial, or are unwilling to do what needs to be done, our church will remain unhealthy.

Lord, help our churches to be full of life and vitality. Help us to do our part to make it so. Amen.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He 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 writes extensively and you can find all of his books at: