Monday, April 24, 2017

Which Way Are You Swimming?


Acts 18:9-11 - Then the Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” And he stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

When my family lived in Connecticut, visits to the Mystic Aquarium were always an exciting adventure. It is a wonderful place where families can have a great time and learn a lot about marine life. As families enter the main building the first thing seen is a huge round glass tank filled with fish. 

Once time when my family was there, we noticed most of the fish were swimming the same way. But one lone fish was swimming the opposite direction. It was odd to see. As we kept watching, we noticed that lone fish was soon joined by another one. Now there were two fish swimming the opposite direction. Suddenly, there were three, and then four. All at once, the entire school pivoted and turned and began swimming the opposite direction, following the lead of one solitary fish that was willing to swim against the tide.

Witnessing the school of fish changing direction reminded me of the influence that one person can have on those around him or her. When a person first stands up for what is right, he or she is often alone. Then one or two other people come along to support the original individual. Then a few more come along to offer their support. Eventually enough critical mass is built up for significant change to happen in a whole group of people.

We are living in an age in which Christianity is mischaracterized, maligned, mocked and dismissed. But if we will stand strong for our faith, we can influence many people around us. We must not be afraid to be the lone fish swimming against the stream. God will bring others to help us. In time we can witness a significant difference in our sphere of influence as God works through a growing number of people willing to take a stand for what is right.

Lord, give us the courage to stand for what is right and holy, even if at first we stand alone. Amen.

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This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. 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:



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Good Health is a Gift

Luke 13:1-4 – At that time, some people came and reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And He responded to them, Do you think that these Galileans were more sinful than all Galileans because they suffered these things? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well! Or those 18 that the tower in Siloam fell on and killed—do you think they were more sinful than all the people who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!

I recall an experience I had at our local McDonalds which reminded me of God’s grace. My wife and I were having lunch with friends. When I went to fill up my soda, there was a lady already at the machine. She had some type of physical disorder that caused her to shake. I watched as she tried to fill her soda cup. Her hands were shaking so much that she could barely grip her cup. Just as I was about to offer assistance, she

managed to get the cup in the right spot and start the beverage flowing. She seemed very nice and we chatted politely for a few minutes, with her shaking the entire time.

Twenty minutes later, just as we were finishing our meal, we observed a similar situation. A man in a wheelchair was eating at a table near us. He was also physically challenged. He kept coughing and also had a lot of tremors. My heart went out to him as I watched him struggle to eat a simple hamburger. At one point he coughed so badly that his false teeth flew across the room. His friend jumped up to retrieve them, as if it was a normal occurrence. Watching his dentures fly across the room might have been a somewhat humorous scene, had my heart not already been stirred watching him struggle to eat a simple cheeseburger.

The lady at the soda fountain seemed like a kind person. She was well dressed. Yet her body shook constantly with whatever physical ailment that she had. The man in the wheelchair had carried on an engaging conversation with his friend. He seemed like he had a good quality of life. Yet having his teeth fly across the room, was just part of a normal day for him.

As I reflect upon my own life and the good health God has blessed me with, my mind is filled with thoughts about the grace of God. By God’s grace I have overcome what should have been a fatal car crash, with only minimal lasting results. By God’s grace I am a cancer survivor, which could have easily ended in a very different manner. Why has God given me good health while others struggle with simple tasks like filling up soda cups or eating cheeseburgers? 

Those of us who are in good health must remember that we are no better than those who live with chronic illness or disability. God does not love us more than He loves them. We have no more value to the world than they do. We must be mindful of the fact that since the curse of sin came into the world, there has been pain and difficulty. Some people are born with physical challenges, and others are not. Some people experience great sickness during their lives, others do not. None of us are better than the other. These things are simply part of the curse of sin that has fallen on this world. Thankfully, one day that curse will be lifted. Until that day, each of us should spend some time contemplating God's grace in our lives.

Lord, thank You for giving us good health. Help us be a blessing to those around us who may not have as easy lives a we have. Amen.

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This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. 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:




Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Reading the Whole Conversation from God

Isaiah 30:18 - Therefore the LORD is waiting to show your mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the LORD is a just God. All who wait patiently for him are happy.

I still remember the painful lesson I learned many years ago when email first became a popular communication tool. Another person and I had a disagreement about something and exchanged a series of emails back and forth about it. Though most of the emails were cordial, toward the end of the exchange, as our frustration level increased, the emails got curt, tense and a bit mean. If someone read the entire exchange of emails, he or she would have understood the flow of conversation and clearly see the effort made by both parties to correct the situation. But the last couple of emails, read out of context, made us both of us look mean-spirited.

Regretfully, my friend chose to share my last email with a number of other people. Since he did not share the rest of the conversation, it made me look bad. Though we eventually got it all worked out, it took a long time to repair the relationship. I learned a valuable lesson in that experience about how easy it is to take something out of context if one does not understand the entire conversation.

This seems to be the case when many people read certain sections of the Old Testament. I recall a young man in our church asking me a question about an Old Testament passage. He was struggling with a passage that described a particular judgment God exercised on a group of people. Like many of the episodes of God’s wrath in the Old Testament, the example seemed harsh when lifted out of the context of the entire Old Testament narrative.

I had to remind the young man that the Old Testament narrative covers a historical period of nearly 4000 years. During that time a compassionate and gracious God revealed Himself again and again to a people that often ignored His overtures of love. God sent prophets, priests, and kings to lead the people the right direction. God used miracles, both small and large, to demonstrate that He was real and could be trusted.

In the Old Testament, God was long suffering in His efforts to draw people to Himself. Yet, at certain points during that time period, God judged evil behavior. If we only focus on those moments of judgment, the God of the Old Testament seems harsh, perhaps even evil. But if we read the entire conversation, we see a love story between God and a people He was trying to draw to Himself.

Much like the email conversation I had with my friend so many years ago, if one only reads the last email, one gets a messed up picture of the author. But if people read the entire conversation, the final email makes more sense. If we approach our study of the Old Testament the same way, we may find far more nuggets of truthful love than we realized in those ancient texts.

Lord, help me be diligent to read Your entire conversation with Your people so I can more fully understand Your goodness. Amen.

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This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. 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

Monday, April 17, 2017

Stop Using the Past As An Excuse

Romans 6:1-4 - What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.

We have all seen comments on social media that say something like: Do not judge me because you do not know what I have been through. We often do not know exactly what people are referring to when they post such things. From the way they phrased the post, we may suspect they have done something wrong that they think people will judge them for. Since they do not want to be judged, they appeal to the pain of their past as an excuse for their current poor behavior.

This is a faulty line of reasoning. While some people have had more pain than others, everyone has something in their past that caused them pain. If we allow the pain of our past to be an acceptable excuse for present poor behavior, then we can justify almost any manner of bad behavior.

Appealing to the pain of our past does not help anyway. Whatever current poor behavior we have engaged in is not making things better. Instead such behavior is so negative that it is causing people to judge us, or at least cause us to feel like we should be judged. We may not have been able to control what happened to us in the past, but we can control how we act today. While it is true that people should not judge each other, it is also true that we should not engage in behavior that deserves judging.

Instead of playing the pain card, we should begin to address the pain of our past and learn to deal with it in positive ways. There are countless examples of people who went through horrific experiences in life but choose to become better instead of bitter. Such overcomers choose to use the pain of the past as a motivation to be a comforting voice to others. They choose to be victors instead of victims. We all have a history, but our history should motivate us to engage in self-improvement, not in self-justification of poor behavior.

Lord, help us move beyond the pain of our past and live lives worthy of our calling to be Christians. Amen.

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This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. 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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday - The Value of Sacrifice

The story is told of a minister who had two little children. His youngest daughter asked him one Sunday after church why he always stopped and said a prayer right before he preached. Impressed that his young daughter was actually paying attention to what was going on in the service, he solemnly told her that he always stopped and prayed before the sermon in order to ask God to bless the sermon and make it both inspiring and encouraging to the audience. After a moment of silence, the little girl spoke up again. She said, “Daddy, why doesn’t God ever answer that prayer?”

Every pastor, priest, minister, or other religious leader would like to think that all of his or her sermons are encouraging and inspiring. Obviously some are, some aren’t. But on Good Friday every Christian minister prayers a little harder and hopes to inspire people at special Good Friday services happening around the world. On Good Friday 2.5 billion Christians will pause and remember the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the cross. His sacrifice, which was freely given, and so terrible costly to Christ in both body and soul, still speaks powerfully to Christians some 2000 years after it happened.

But I believe that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross should encourage and inspire more than just Christians. Even though other religions may not hold Christ in quite the same light as Christians, His sacrifice for others still sets an amazing example for all.

Regardless of our religious background, or lack thereof, stories of deep personal sacrifice always seems to inspire us. Such stories of sacrifice remind us that life really isn’t all about us. Life is about the people around us and how we can help each other live peaceful, fulfilling and joyful lives. Life is also about making peace with God, even when we are tempted to pretend He does not exist.

So whether we are Christians, or Jews, or Muslims, or Buddhists, or Unbelievers, or whatever label we may choose to refer to ourselves, I hope that we will be inspired today as we remember the sacrifice that Christ made for others. I hope we will do more than just be inspired, I hope we will all look for ways in which we might sacrifice for others in order to make the world a better place for our children and our grandchildren.

Let us remember those inspiring words that Jesus said to his disciples in the Gospel of John 15:12-13 “This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.”

That is the essence of Good Friday.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is an author and Christian leader in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, adoring grandfather and thankful cancer survivor. You can find out more about his writings at:
http://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Terry-W.-Dorsett/e/B00405U4NY/

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What Does the Cross Mean To You?

1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.

Our culture is shifting and fewer people understand what it means to be a Christian than ever before. To illustrate how far our culture has shifted, a friend of mine related what happened to him recently in a jewelry store. He had gone into the store to buy a cross necklace for his daughter. She wanted to wear it as a way to display her faith and he wanted to support her in that effort. Instead of just buying her a cheap necklace, he thought he would go a nicer store and buy one that would be special to his daughter. As he looked through the various options he did not find quite what he was looking for. He asked the young man who was the store clerk if they had any other cross necklaces to choose from. The young man said, "Yeah, we have some in this other case over here, but I do not know if you would want them or not, they have some dude on them." When my friend looked at the other case, the dude on the cross was Jesus and the crosses were actually crucifixes. Though my friend was not interested in buying a crucifix, he was stunned that the young man had no idea who the dude on the cross was.

Though our society has always had people who do not follow Christ, few would have failed to recognize a crucifix as being Christ on the cross. But this young man had no idea that the person on the cross was Christ. He did not realize the unparalleled sacrifice Jesus had made on his behalf. He was missing a critical piece of information that could change his life forever.

Though we can pretend that young man was just ignorant of the truth, the reality is that he represents a growing number of young adults who do not know who the dude on the cross is. The good news is that young people are interested in finding out. They are very open to sitting down with a friend or relative and having a genuine conversation about who

Jesus is and what part He might play in their lives. Though they may not quite be ready to commit their lives to following Christ, they are increasingly curious about who He is. Are we ready to tell them who the dude on the cross is?

Lord, help us share the story of the cross with those around us, especially with the next generation. Amen.

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This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. 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:


Friday, April 7, 2017

Are We REALLY Being Judged?

Proverbs 28:1 - The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

It seems that the one unpardonable sin in our current culture is judgment. Having grown up in a fairly judgmental religious system, I can understand why it is such a powerful negative influence on our thinking processes. But lately it seems that our culture has allowed our fear of being judged to become an excuse for continuing poor behavior, which ultimately leads to us being justly judged by those who recognize our poor behavior.

If we are honest, we have to admit that we all make mistakes. God pointed this out in Romans 3:23. Since we all make mistakes, none of us are perfect. God pointed this out in Romans 3:10. Those who pretend to be perfect are not being honest; in fact, they are lying to themselves and to those around them. God pointed this out in 1 John 1:10. Though our culture pretends that there is nothing really worthy of judgment, deep inside we all know we have a few things in our lives that are in fact bad enough that they are worthy of judgment. God talks about this in Romans 2:14-16. How do we deal with those behaviors, thoughts, attitudes or feelings that we know really should not be present in our lives? Our culture says to ignore them because no one has the right to judge us. But ignoring bad behavior really does not work, because deep down those behaviors bother us a lot.

In the past, the church told us what to do and whether we agreed or not, we just did whatever the church told us. There were some advantages to this, because some bad behaviors were less prominent in our society than they are now. But there were also some real disadvantages because the church did not always tell us to do the right things. When people blindly followed the church, some terrible things happened in the name of religion. Anyone who did not agree with the church automatically got judged, even if they were actually the ones doing the right thing.

It is easy to see why people now have an aversion to being judged. Since judgment often came from the church, the way many people in our culture responded was to drop out of church.

The problem with simply dropping out of church was that it does not address the behavior that brought out the negative feelings to begin with. Though the church sometimes had it wrong, sometimes they had it right. Ultimately, there are some behaviors that are right and some that are wrong. Simply avoiding people, or groups, who may point those wrong things out will not solve our problem. That is like a person with a heart condition refusing to go to the doctor out of fear of what the doctor may say. If the condition goes on long enough without treatment, the result is not going to be positive and the treatment for the condition will be much more invasive than what could have been done if it had been addressed earlier. The same is true when we have poor behavior in our lives that we have not addressed. Eventually we will reap the consequences of that behavior. By the time all those consequences finally hit us, it may cost us far more than we ever intended to pay. In essence, our fear of minor judgment may eventually cause us to experience much more significant judgment.

Perhaps it is time to start exploring church again. Obviously there are some overly judgmental types of churches that may not help us be healthy. But there are many churches that understand that in our human weakness we made bad choices and now we are trying to fix those issues. Those churches will walk with us through the journey until we get where we need to be. They will not tell us that all of our behavior is acceptable, but we already know that. But they will remind us that God loves us in spite of our behavior and that He will help us become the person we always wanted to be. It is time for us to overcome our fear of judgment and start dealing with the baggage in our lives. We are going to need the help of other people to do that. That is what church is all about. It is a group of sinners encouraging each other to do better as we see the return of Christ approach. God reminded us of that in Hebrews 10:25. There may be some painful moments in the short term, but the joy over the long term will be worth it.

Lord, help us examine our own hearts so that we can be in right relationship with You. Do not let our fear of judgment cause us to flee the very thing that can change our lives. Amen.

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This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. 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: