Saturday, June 25, 2016

Dreams and Spirituality

Daniel 1:17 – As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

When I was a teenager I remember eating spicy food while watching a scary movie. The combination of the two gave me nightmares. I woke up the next morning exhausted from all the crazy dreams I had. After having this happen to me a couple of times, I learned not to combine those two things together before going to sleep.

Dreams are caused by a wide variety of things. Many theorize that dreams are our sub-conscious mind’s way of sorting out what is going on in our lives. But could dreams be more than that? We read stories in the Bible where dreams had specific meanings. Many of us have had unique dreams that made us wonder if God was trying to send us a message.

Kelley Bulkeley is a dream researcher and theologian who wrote Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion. Bulkeley reports in an April 4, 2016 article in Time magazine that modern neuroscience “says that dreams can prime us to be spiritual, in one form or another.” She goes on to explain that the Sleep and Dream Database includes extensive research that shows “that half of American adults say they’ve had at least one visitation dream” where someone came to them in a dream to give them a message. Some people focused on the people in their dreams, but most focused on the message itself. Could this message have meaning beyond just spicy food and scary movies?

This is a question many evangelical Christians are also asking.  Could God use dreams to communicate messages to His people? Some strands of evangelicalism widely accept dreams as messages from God. Other strands of evangelicalism are more skeptical. Most evangelicals who accept the possibility of God sending messages in dreams make it clear that God would never contradict Himself. That means that if a dream was in opposition to the Bible, then it could not be from God. Dreams that contradict the scripture are more likely the result of spicy food and scary movies. But what about the ones that seem to confirm what God has already declared in scripture? There is no real way to prove either side of that debate because dreams are too subjective for that. Therefore, scholars will keep debating that issue until the end of time. 

So what good is Bulkeley’s research if we can’t really prove that any particular dream is from God? Her research provides an interesting conversation starter with our non-believing friends about how dreams and faith might be connected. Bulkeley concludes that though “Science may not be able to prove the existence of God . . . it can prove that, for many people, dreams offer a way to expand their sense of reality and attain a higher level of being.” As our culture becomes post-Christian and fewer people know the Bible, discussing dreams might open the door for a larger conversation about spirituality. These discussions could be the means by which the Lord causes people to think about spirituality. It is good for evangelical Christians, even ones skeptical about spiritual messages through dreams, to know something about this topic so that we can use this issue as one of our tools for starting Gospel conversations with others.

Lord, help us take every opportunity You give us to talk to our friends about issues of faith. Amen.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:
http://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Terry-W.-Dorsett/e/B00405U4NY

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Preschoolers Will Help the Church Finally End Racism!

Psalm 8:2 - From the mouths of children and nursing babies you have ordained praise on account of your adversaries, so that you might put an end to the vindictive enemy.

My granddaughter recently celebrated her 2nd birthday. Her parents, who are ministers, invited all the children from church to the party. Ten children came. It was a lot of fun watching them play games, eat cupcakes and enjoy being together. About an hour into the party it suddenly dawned on me that of the ten children who were present, 4 were African American, 3 were Asian, and 3 were Anglo. I doubt the children noticed. In fact, I'm sure the children did not notice because the children gathered there did not see each other as black or white or Asian, they were just friends from church celebrating a birthday. My granddaughter and her peers are growing up in world where the color of one's skin is no longer the divider between who your friends can be or where you can worship. 

Lest you think that my granddaughter is some rare exception, it is important to point out that America's preschoolers are growing up in a vastly more racially diverse atmosphere than their parents or grandparents. If current trends continue, by 2020, only four years from now, there will no longer be any single racial group that will make up more than 50% of the U.S. population under the age of 18. With the youngest ages as the most diverse in American history.

This is good news for the church, and for the nation! Though we have made great strides in America in the last 50 years in the area of race relations, the Sunday morning hour still tends to be the most segregated hour of the week. Though it is most likely unintentional, it is still a reflection of what is in our hearts, which is that in our most intimate moments, we prefer to gather with other people who look, act and feel like us. However unintentional, when we gather to worship only with others who look just like us, we miss something valuable that we can learn from the larger body of Christ.


Lord, help us follow the example of our children and learn these valuable lessons about friends and church. Amen.

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

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Feel Good Volunteerism is Misguided

The young man was inspiring, articulate, full of passion, determined to make a difference, and so incredibly misguided. Yes, you read that correctly. I heard him speak at a gathering of evangelicals from the northeast. The gathering represented a wide array of denominations. Several testimonies were shared by Christian young people about how they were serving others in the name of the Lord. Though the testimonies were inspiring, they all had a similar misguided theme. One young man said "Do what makes you happy and meets needs around you." Another said "Let's do what makes us feel right and whole while helping others." Several others speakers expressed the same idea that we should do what makes us feel good while helping those around us. 

On the surface that might sound like an acceptable premise. However, if we reflect more deeply on the comments they reveal a motivation that is less than honorable. For that group, the primary purpose of serving was to feel happy and whole. Though nothing is wrong with feeling happy and whole, that should be a by-product of serving, not the primary motivation.

Why is this an important issue to clarify? If our primary motivation is to feel good about ourselves then our service will likely ignore needs that might be extremely important but not enjoyable. For example, we might be willing to serve food in a soup kitchen but unwilling to wash the dishes at the same soup kitchen. Or perhaps we are willing to join a group of volunteers building a house for a homeless family but unwilling to volunteer at a shelter for homeless addicts. Perhaps we are willing to tutor at risk teens but unwilling to help juvenile offenders gain a GED. All of these things are needed but may not be equal in how they make us feel.

Some types of volunteer service make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. Other types of service do not provide the same level of fuzzy feelings but are equally importnat. Some types of service will even make us feel uncomfortable, discouraged and frustrated. Should we avoid those avenues of service? 

Consider the challenging words of Christ in Luke 6:32-35 where He calls us to serve in ways for which we gain no advantage. "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men." Jesus makes a powerful point. Christian service does not always reward us in the short term, but it should always make us more like Jesus, which in the end is really the goal. 


This week, instead of choosing to serve a way that makes us feel good, let's choose to do a hard thing that no one else wants to do. It will make a difference in ways we cannot measure.

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

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Understanding Justice

Proverbs 28:5 - Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.

Justice is a big issue in our society. Economic inequality seems to be growing. Racial inequality still exists in America despite 50 years of progress. Immigration rules are applied differently depending on one's country of origin, and sometimes one's religion, which sure seems unjust to most people. The sexual revolution has made some factions in our culture demand their version of justice even if it hurts the rest of the nation. Justice is important, but how to achieve it, in fact, how to define it, seems more complicated than ever. What seems like justice to one group feels like injustice to another.

Perhaps one of the reasons we struggle to understand justice is because we disagree on the source of justice. Most Christians see the source of justice as God. This is called the Divine Command theory, and it prevailed in American society until about 25 years ago. When applied correctly, this theory of justice makes for a stable society.

Many non-Christians see the source of justice as whatever the larger group agrees upon. This is called the Human Creation-Mutual Agreement theory. It is a relatively new concept in western thought and assumes people are basically good and want what is best for the group. Though that might sound acceptable at first glance, the problem arises when the group cannot agree on what is best for the group. When an agreement cannot be reached, someone must then "force" their view of what is good on everyone else. As soon as that happens, real justice is lost because now people are forced to do what is not good for all, only what is good for those with the power to force others to do their will.

As American culture has lost connection with the Divine, those in power have used their force to push forward mandates that are not always best for the larger group. In fact, they may ultimately be disastrous for the larger group. In the name of justice, great injustice is being done.

God knew this would happen and warned us about it in Proverbs 28:5, as well as in many other places in the Bible. These developments do not take God by surprise. They have happened in the past and will probably happen again if the Lord tarries. Those of us who believe that real justice comes from God must remain faithful to the Lord, speaking up for true justice, and perhaps enduring the hardships of human injustice from those who disagree with us, until such time as the Lord allows righteousness to prevail once again. This is the way it has always been and the way it will continue to be. It is our turn to be found faithful. Are we up to the task?

Lord, help us remain faithful to true justice even as our culture rejects Your divine commands. Bring revival to our land again so that Your justice reigns. Amen.


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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Broken Beyond Healing

Proverbs 29:1 - He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.

The mother sat in my office with her head hung low. I could barely hear her voice as she shared her story with me. Her son, who had always had a strong rebellious streak, had finally done something bad enough to land him in jail. As a result, he had lost the only good job he had ever had. He had lost custody of his daughter, the one bright spot in his life. His girlfriend was refusing to answer his calls or cooperate with his lawyer to get him out of jail. The mother sobbed "His whole life is ruined and there is no way to fix it."

Though I wish I could have offered some great words of advice that would make all that mother's pain go away, there was little I could do but listen and pray. I had known her son for years. More than once I had deep conversations with him about his life and where it was headed. He was not interested in what some "Bible thumping preacher" had to say. He was not interested in what his mother had to say. He was not interested in what teachers at school had to say. He was going to do what he wanted, when he wanted and how he wanted. And that attitude landed him in jail, jobless, alone and broken.

Several years have passed since that conversation. To the best of my knowledge, he is back in jail again. Still broken, still stubborn, still rebelling against all authority. No amount of rehabilitation, counseling or punitive action seem to impact him. From a human perspective, he is broken beyond healing.

The only thing that can turn his life around would be for him to humble himself before almighty God, repent of his sins and place all his hope on Christ alone. But so far, he does not seem interested in that road to healing. So he struggles on, angry with his situation, blaming others, hating those who he perceives as the cause of his problem. Broken beyond healing.

Though this young man's situation is probably more extreme than most, he represents so many in our culture who are under the sway of the spirit of rebellion. That spirit of rebellion has caused them so much pain but they do not seem capable of turning loose of it. Until they do, they will remain broken beyond healing.

Lord, reveal Yourself in a powerful way to those under the sway of a spirit of rebellion. Bind that spirit and replace it with the overwhelming presence of Your Holy Spirit. Show them healing that only comes in the name of Christ through faith and repentance. Amen.

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Finding Contentment

Proverbs 30:8-9 - Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?" or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

I find this prayer in Proverbs 30 to be very inspiring. The author asks God to give him neither poverty nor riches, but just to give him what he needs. The reason for this prayer is two fold. The writer realizes that if he has too much, he might forget his need for God and follow after money instead. He also realizes that if he has too little, he might let the stress of the moment lead him to steal and bring shame on the name of the Lord whom he serves.

What a powerful prayer for us to have in our own lives. Far too many Christians are chasing the American dream of riches and wealth when they should be pursuing a deeper relationship with almighty God. But pursuing a deeper relationship with God does not mean we can be lazy and not work. For poverty does not automatically equal godliness, kindness, compassion or love. Though many poor people do have those qualities in abundance, it is not poverty itself that produces those qualities, it is a heart that seeks after God. This is why some poor people feel pressure to relieve their poverty in ways that are not right. it might be theft. It might be welfare fraud. It might be selling drugs, or worse, selling themselves sexually. These are all unhealthy ways to relieve poverty.

Think about it. Why would young men in difficult situations become drug dealers? Not because they love drugs, but because they saw no other way out of poverty. Why would a young lady become a prostitute? Trust me when I say that it was not a career choice that she wanted to make! Regretfully, when poverty is so deep that young people see no way out, they turn to these other things which leads them down a path of destruction. Though many poor people are wonderful people, let us not idolize poverty. It is a rough way to live.

Christians need not aspire to be rich, nor poor. We simply need to ask God to give us what we need to have a good life. And when we have extra, we can use it to help those who don't. That may be a different way of looking at things than we are used to, but is a perspective that could remove a lot of unneeded stress from our lives.

Lord, give us what we need to take care of our families and help those around us. Let us not yearn for more and become materialistic nor idolize poverty and be tempted to do wrong to survive. Amen.


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

Monday, May 23, 2016

How to Avoid Poverty

Proverbs 28:19 - Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.

An investment counselor once gave me these simple rules:
     1. Work hard
     2. Spend less than you earn
     3. Save and/or invest the extra
     4. Don't touch what you save or invest until you REALLY have to

At the time I was just starting out in my career and had modest salary. The idea of setting some aside for savings seemed like an impossible task. And when I did, it sure was easy to come up with things that I THOUGHT I REALLY needed that could evaporate my savings in an instant. Somewhere along the way I did start following his advice. Though I will never be wealthy, I am no longer in poverty. Hard work, thrifty spending, saving the extra and refusing to dip into it for non-essentials turned out to be good advice.

What I find interesting about this advice is that it works in all areas of life, not just financial ones.

Want to lose weight? Work hard. Eat fewer calories than we burn. Turn the excess into muscle. Don't get off our eating plan unless we REALLY have to.

Want to bring more balance to our schedule? Work hard. Plan things out so that we have a little extra time between things. Use that extra time to enjoy our family/dog/scenery/hobbies. Don't let anyone crowd into that extra time unless we REALLY have to.

Want to have more friends? Work hard (yes, friendship is hard work!). Give more attention to others than we demand for ourselves. Let that extra attention fill us with happiness, fulfillment and contentment. Don't let anyone take that sense of happiness away from us unless we REALLY have to (and that is rarely ever the case!).

The opposite is also true. If we waste money, time, energy, relationships, etc on worthless pursuits, we will have to endure plenty of poverty as a result. Poverty is not just financial. Many people have a poverty of time, a poverty of friendships, and a poverty of health, all because they wasted their talents, skills, abilities and energy on things that had no purpose.

One important strategy for having a rich life is to decide what purpose our lives should have and then pursue that purpose with a passion and refuse to let ourselves be distracted by all the junk along the way. We may not ever be rich, or famous, or the super organized, but we can live a blessed life that has meaning and purpose if we put this concepts into practice.

Lord, help us focus on the right things so that we can find meaning and purpose in life. Help us avoid worthless pursuits that lead no where. Amen.


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