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:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Leading Well

Proverbs 27:23-24 - Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?

When I first moved to New England in 1993 the church I served had a long standing relationship with a ministry organization that promoted itself as the "oldest evangelical ministry" in the region. Over the years that group had done some amazing things. Our small church had supported the group financially and in years past had people from the organization serve in our church for a variety of short term ministry experiences.

I attended several meetings with the group during my early years in New England. Though I was impressed with the history of the group, it seemed to me that they were out of touch with what was happening in small villages like the one I served in. They seemed mostly "Boston-centric." While Boston was then, and continues to be now, a great mission field, it is only one part of God's Kingdom in our region. Over time our church moved our financial support to other things and I stopped attending the meetings. I lost touch with what was going on in that group for many years. Recently I received a flyer in the mail from them about a new ministry they are starting. Intrigued I got online and looked at their website so I could reacquaint myself with them. I was surprised at how small their organization has become. What was once a major player in evangelical circles in our region now has a relatively small influence. Though this new ministry sounds promising, I doubt it will be enough to turn them around.

What happened? Though I suppose there would be a variety of opinions on what happened, from my perspective, they simply lost touch with those they were trying to serve. They did not understand the conditions their constituents were facing. They did not give attention to building relationships. They forgot that history and tradition will only carry an organization so far. They were a good group that slowly slide into the background instead of remaining the foreground of God's work in our area.

By God's providence, I now find myself in a leadership position of a regional evangelical group in New England. Learning lessons from the history of other organizations like mine is very important to me. I do not want to repeat their mistakes. I am trying to listen hard, understand the conditions of our affiliated churches, and give attention to what their needs are. It can be overwhelming at times but I am determined to learn whatever I have to so I can lead well. I don't want to be the next regional group that slides into irrelevance.

The Lord reminded leaders of the importance of these concepts in Proverbs 27:23-24. When leaders pay attention to what is going on around them, instead of being isolated in ivory towers, they lead well. When leaders realize that they cannot just rest on the glories of the past, but must lead in a way that embraces the future, they lead well. When leaders stay connected to those they serve, they lead well. Leading well is not always easy, but it is critical if we want the ministries we serve to continue to impact our communities in positive ways until Jesus comes again.

Lord, help pastors and all those in ministry leadership roles understand the conditions they serve in, pay attention to the needs of their members and trust in You instead of in tradition. 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:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Putting Out Quarrelsome Fires

Proverbs 26:20-21 - For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.

The chairman of deacons called desperate for advice. For several years their church had been experiencing tremendous growth. God was moving in a great way. But for the past twelve months it seemed liked everything had begun to fall apart. The pastor was a good man, and well liked by most in both the church and the community at large. The church had solid leaders and was in better financial shape than it had ever been. Yet for the last twelve months families that had once been faithful had begun to drift away.

The deacon chairman had contacted the families who had left and heard a pattern of disturbing stories of gossip, hurtful comments, and rumor spreading. It all seemed to center on one family. The family held a leadership role in the church and always seemed upset or angry about something. That anger would come out in committee meetings and planning sessions. It would erupt in conversations in the parking lot after church. It would be displayed in awkward ways during church business meetings. The husband make his displeasure known about any and every subject within the church if things were not done exactly as he thought they should be. The wife was more subtle. She would make comments that seemed designed to get other people upset. She had a talent for knowing how to say things that kept everyone on edge, while appearing to be happy all the time. Between the two of them, they kept the fires of discontent and trouble brewing in the church all the time. Their actions had begun to take a toll on the church.

With great sadness, the chairman of deacons watched as years of growth and hard work evaporated in a few months time. The well loved minister was thinking of resigning and moving on to a different church. He called hoping I could offer some way to fix the problem. The solution was obvious, the quarrelsome couple needed to be removed from the situation. Until the deacons were willing to stand up to them and deal with the issue, the troubles would continue to simmer and erupt into flames on a fairly regular basis.

Dealing with such things is never easy, especially in a church situation where everyone is trying hard to be "nice." But if we love our church, and we want it to be able to impact our community in positives ways, then sometimes we must be willing to tackle hard things. Quarrelsome people have to be confronted. Hopefully they will repent and have a change of heart. But if not, then they must be removed from positions of leadership, and in the worse case scenario, removed from the membership of the church. Ignoring them will not make them go away. Making excuses for their behavior will only make the situation worse. At some point we have to remove the source of the quarrelsome whispering in order for the church to return to health.

Lord, give us the courage to confront those with a quarrelsome spirit. Help us to examine our own hearts to make sure we are not the quarrelsome person in the situation. Let the peace of Christ reign in our churches. 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:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Challenging Relationships

Proverbs 26:4-5 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

Both emails arrived the same day from two different pastors. The pastors were both dealing with problematic people in their congregations. They hoped I might offer advice for how to deal with the issue. Though they were dealing with the same problem, I gave each of them opposite advice from the other. I told one to meet with the problematic person and try to answer their questions and work the problem out. I told the other one to invoke the church discipline clause in their church constitution and vote the problematic person out of the body. Why would I give opposite advice to two pastors facing the same issue?

It has a lot to do with what I learned in my own ministry as I sought to put Proverbs 26:4-5 into practice. These two verses tell us opposite ways of dealing with foolish people. One verse says to answer such a person, the other verse says not to. Though these verses may sound contradictory, they actually fit perfectly together.

When we encounter difficult personalities in life, our first response should be to try to work out the difficulties. Often words or actions have simply been misunderstood and when we talk them out with the other person, the issue is quickly resolved. That is always a positive outcome and worth the time and energy invested even if it is awkward to initiate.

But sometimes the other party is not interested in resolution. In some twisted way certain people thrive on controversy. They seem to enjoy having an enemy to fight or a person or organization to blame all their problems on. In those situations the more energy and time we invest trying to resolve the situation, the worse it gets. When we find ourselves in such a scenario, it is time to withdraw from the relationship. We should do it graciously and in a way that honors Christ. But we must accept that there comes a point when further efforts will produce no positive results. All it does is frustrate us and we might be tempted to stoop to the level of the problematic person. That will not produce the positive results we hoped for.

God understood this reality long before modern psychology discovered it. That is why He gave us the wisdom of these two verses of scripture back to back. He knew one verse would apply in one situation and the other in other situations. Part of being a mature believer is knowing which situation is which and applying the correct scripture teaching at the right time. Through prayer, and with helpful advice from others, the Holy Spirit can give us that discernment.

Lord, give us wisdom to know when to keep trying to resolve challenging situations and when to walk away from them. 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: