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:

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Do Rules Apply to Us?

James 4:17 - So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Recently I went to an amazing ice skating show. It was part musical theatre and part Olympic style ice skating feats. It was a very good show. Numerous times before the performance they announced both verbally and on video slides in multiple languages that spectators were not allowed to video the show due to licensing agreements with the performers. They also emphasized repeatedly how dangerous it was for people to use flash photography because it momentarily blinded the performers. Lastly, they warned the audience not to sit or stand on the stairs or in the aisles because at different points in the show the performers would use those spaces as part of their act.

The announcements were made so often and in so many different ways that they were impossible to misunderstand. Yet, almost as soon as the show began, people were using their cell phones to video the performance. Twice I saw flashes go off during especially amazing feats, which also means they were the most dangerous moments for the performers. I saw several people sitting on the steps blocking the aisle. The audience’s clear ignoring of the rules was so blatant it was impossible to miss.

Fortunately, the show went well, and no one injured. But I was amazed by this flagrant disregard for the clearly stated rules. These people knew they were breaking the rules, but somehow they thought the rules did not apply to them. This attitude is becoming more prevalent in our society, not just at ice shows, but throughout our culture. It is a dangerous shift in our culture. A culture in which no one thinks the rules apply to them is a culture doomed to eventually descend into chaos.

Perhaps this is why God gave us ten commandments. Ten rules that, if everyone followed them, would make life better.

While rules are sometimes inconvenient for us, they keep people safe, they protect the rights of others, and they make life work. Even when we don’t like them, rules help everyone have a better life. We need to follow them ourselves and teach our children to follow them. It is about more than the rules themselves, it is about having order in our lives.

Lord, help us remember that the rules do apply to us and that we should not ignore them. 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, May 22, 2018

Prodigal Kids - Guest Post by Jim Fontaine


     Prodigal sons and daughters cause great heartbreak to their parents when they rebel. It’s not just the rebellion against the parents that causes them pain, though. It’s also painful for parents to watch their children willfully turn from God.

     But does a descent into sin mean there is no coming back? Does it mean there is no hope for the person who turned away? Absolutely NOT! God excels in the resurrection and restoration business. We all love comeback stories, stories where people screw up royally but then turn their lives completely around.

     So, if there is a love of such stories, why do we sometimes act as if people who turn away are beyond the reach of God’s grace and have committed the unpardonable sin? We can’t look at anyone as a hopeless case. We have to look at even the worst of sinners as a redemption project and someone worthy of God’s grace. Remember, Paul could not have been further down the wrong path. He was against Jesus and was a terrorist to Christians.

     But Paul explained God’s unconditional love, grace and patience shown to him when he wrote in 1 Timothy 1: 13 – 16,
Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life

Paul wrote of God’s amazing grace and unlimited patience. God wants to show grace. God wants to show love. God wants prodigals to come home and He draws them to Himself with His love and grace.

     It must be the same with us. If we want the prodigals in our lives to come home, we can’t browbeat them. We can’t berate them. We can’t shut them completely out of our lives. Yes, we may have to let them go their own way, even if we know they are going the wrong way. Yes, we may have to speak God’s truth in love. We may even warn them in love before they go, telling them that they are headed down a dangerous path away from God.

     But prodigals need to know that the door has not been shut. Now, of course, we don’t affirm or condone the prodigal’s sin. Sin is sin, no matter who commits it. Prodigals need to know, however, that we still love them despite their sin and that, when they choose to come home, they won’t see us with our arms angrily folded or pointing a judgmental finger that says, “I told you so.” They need to know that they are coming home to nothing short of unconditional love and grace. Guilt trips never work. It is grace and unconditional love that will draw a prodigal back home.

     It’s like the story a prodigal daughter who left home soon after her father died. Night after night, the mother prayed and waited…but her daughter never came home. At her pastor’s suggestion, the mother printed off pictures of herself and wrote, “Come home” on the picture. She hung the pictures all over surrounding towns in tough places where she thought her rebellious daughter might go. One night, the daughter saw a picture of her mother with the simple message, “Come home”…and her heart started to be drawn home.

     She arrived early in the morning, surprised to find the door to the small apartment open…where she found her mother awake, praying, and crying. The mother threw her arms around her long-lost daughter, so glad she was home. The daughter, overwhelmed by her mother’s love, asked, “Mom, why did you leave the door open?” The mother responded, “Oh, Louise, the door has never been closed since the day you left. I left it open all the time expecting your return. I didn’t want you to find it shut when you came back.” That’s the way it is with God. Oh, you may think you’ve done something so bad that you can’t be forgiven. But you are NEVER beyond the reach of God’s grace! Forgiveness is always available because, when it comes to God and Jesus, the door is never closed. All we have to do is come home and ask.

     Do the prodigals in your life and mine know the same? Do people who have hurt us, disappointed us, angered us know that we still love them and have never stopped? Despite their descent into a sin-filled life that is not honoring God, do that know that amazing grace and forgiveness are still waiting at home for them?

     As with the Prodigal Father, the door of our hearts must always be ready to welcome them back home. We must be patient, as God was with us, praying and waiting for prodigals to come home. Like God was with us, we must maintain unconditional love for prodigals while they are away. And like God was with us, we must show amazing and undeserved grace when they come home. The prodigals in our lives need to know that home is a place where the grace and love of God is always waiting for them. So, whoever the prodigals are in your life, whether family members, friends, or church members who are missing, open your arms and your hearts…and always be ready to welcome them when they come home.

 


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, May 15, 2018

Christian Baby Talk

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 ESV

When my grandson was 18 months old he was in that stage where he imitated everything he saw or heard. If you put your hand in the air, so did he. If you laughed, so did he. If you gave a thumbs up, so did he. If you said hello, he tried to imitate it too. Though it didn’t come out quite right, you knew what he was trying to say. I’m not always sure he knew what all the actions or words meant, but in time he figured it out. It was sweet to watch him learn and grow in his abilities and vocabulary.


I take being a grandparent seriously. I sense a keen responsibility to invest time and attention in my grandchildren so they can become the happy, successful, Christlike adults I want them to become.


The same is true in how I view the new believers around me. Those of us who have been Christians for a long time bear a great responsibility to guide and mentor new believers as they stumble through those first awkward stages of faith. They may not always say it right, or do things right, but if we have patience and a little faith, we can help them become the mature believers they need to be.


Lord, give me patience with the new believers You have put around me. Help me encourage them in their faith journey by setting a godly example for them to follow. 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:


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Moving Past Church Conflict

Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5

It was one of those meetings that I did not really want to attend. But I did not have a choice. It was part of my job as a denominational leader. The meeting was to help a church overcome a very significant conflict that had resulted in the pastor being dismissed. As a result, a significant portion of the congregation had left the church. The remaining members were in a lot of pain. They were discouraged. They were frustrated. Unfortunately, this was not the first time that this church had something like this happen. Several years before a similar event had happened and it had taken years to overcome the fall out.

When a church goes through such a situation, one of the greatest challenges is the lack of trust. Hurt people don’t trust each other. Sometimes they don’t trust themselves because they feel like they may have said or done something that made the situation worse. Though they often don’t want to admit it, there is even a certain lack of trust in God.

I think this lack of trust is one of the greatest things to overcome in a church that has been hurt. Though each situation is different, it is appropriate to create healthy accountability systems in an attempt to keep such situations from happening again, but there is no way to create a system that guarantees the problem will not reemerge. People make mistakes. By-laws, church constitutions, policy manuals can help set boundaries, but in the end, they lack the power to make people do the right thing. At some point, we simply have to trust each other. And we must accept the reality that from time to time our trust might be violated. We must be determined not to let the occasional violation of our trust in someone at church become the context of our entire faith experience.

That is easy to say. It is hard to do.

The only way I know to do that is to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only one who will never let us down. We must realize that the church is HIS church. He will build the church. He will make it what He wants it to be. If we focus on Jesus, it will help us move past the hurt and pain that sometimes comes with being a leader in the church.

Lord, help me focus on serving You and learn to release the pain that church conflicts have brought into my life. Help me be able to trust others again. 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: