Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spiritual Speeders

Luke 10:30-35 - Jesus took up the question and said: A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. 34 He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend.

When my two older children were in college, we made a road trip from Vermont to South Carolina. The weather was great and somehow we managed to avoid all the road construction and rush hour traffic. We had no delays on the trip, with one exception. As we neared Charlotte, North Carolina, we came up on a long line of traffic due to a tractor trailer that had slid off the road. A fire truck, a rescue vehicle, and a state trooper were on the scene. The line of traffic had all shifted to the far lane to give the emergency vehicles room to work. As we approached the actual scene of the incident, an SUV flew down the road, passing the line of traffic, and narrowly avoiding the emergency vehicles. Apparently the driver was unconcerned about anything other than where he was headed in such a hurry.

It occurred to me that many Christians are just like that SUV driver. People all around us have slid off the road of life. In the rush to do everything, we often pass by those who need help the most. We see people mired in difficulty and trouble. Though some Christians respond, many just keep flying by like spiritual speeders too busy to help. They narrowly miss striking concerned Christians who are responding to needs around them. Spiritual speeders cruise past other Christians who are at the very least slowing down to pray as they see needs around them.

I suspect we have all been spiritual speeders at certain points in our lives. But perhaps we need to learn to slow down and spend more time praying. Perhaps we need to pull over and spend time helping others. Perhaps we need to encourage ministers and lay leaders who are helping, instead of putting them in greater danger through our reckless attitudes. Perhaps it is time to actually live like good Samaritans instead of spiritual speeders.

Lord, help us not to become so busy in life that we miss the opportunities to help those in need who are all around us. Amen.

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This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Learning Truth from Seahorses

Colossians 2:6-7 "Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude."

Recently my family visited the Mystic Aquarium and was fascinated by a tank of seahorses. There were several clumps of seahorses with their tails wrapped around stalks of sea grass. Other seahorses had their tails wrapped around other seahorses, which were in turn wrapped around stalks of sea grass. I was not sure why the seahorses were doing this, so I googled it. After looking at several websites, I learned that seahorses are not very good at swimming. They basically move by being carried along by the currents. Sometimes the currents take them to safe places with lots of food; other times it takes them to places that are not so favorable. When seahorses get to a place that is safe and has abundant food, they tend to wrap their tails around sea grass, or other seahorses, so they can stay in place and not be carried away by the currents.

When I realized this cool fact about seahorses, I could not help but think about how it relates to people. If we were honest, we would have to admit that we are not very good at life. We tend to get carried away by the currents of popular opinion, fads, and culture. That sometimes offers us good experiences, but most often it does not. Riding such currents make our lives feel as if we are swirling in a hurricane headed for destruction and we seem powerless to stop the wild currents that carry us. But when we find Christ as our Savior, suddenly we have something strong we can cling to. Like seahorses and sea grass, we can wrap our lives around the Lord, His Word and His strength. In that process we also find churches filled with people just like us. As we build healthy relationships with people in such churches, our lives become intertwined with other believers, which also gives us strength when the currents try to carry us away. Seahorses teach us to cling to something stronger than ourselves and to cling to each other for safety and security. That is a great lesson to learn!



Lord, help us cling to You and to other believers as we move through the currents of life.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter and writer who has lived in New England for over 20 years. An energetic speaker, he often finds ordinary things in life to help him teach powerful truths from God's Word.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Glofish Serve Their Creators' Purpose

Colossians 1:16 - For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Recently my family was visiting the Mystic Aquarium and saw an interesting tank of fish. These particular fish literally glow in the dark. However, they are not a naturally occurring fish. They are a species that has been designed by scientists. The common Zebra fish was genetically altered by genes from another fish. The result was a new man-made species of fish. According to Glofish.com they “were originally bred more than ten years ago to help detect environmental pollutants. By adding a naturally derived fluorescence gene to the fish, scientists hoped to quickly and easily determine when a waterway is contaminated.” It did not take long for scientists to find other uses for these fish and their use spread to a number of experiments across the nation. Once the public began to see them in various experiments, interest also spread for their use as a unique decorative fish in aquariums around the country. That was how the school in the tank we saw in Mystic arrived came to be.

What caught my attention about this tank of fish (in addition to the bright colors) was the big deal the curators made about THESE fish being “designed” by someone instead of being a product of evolution. There were several signs explaining it, as well as a recording one could listen to at the push of a button. There was a series of interactive screens that could be pulled across the front of the tank that showed the fish in different lights which simulated various types of pollution the fish helped expose. It was quite the display for a simple group of fish derived from something as common as the Zebra fish.


As I wandered through all the other tanks, I wondered why those same curators could not realize that ALL the fish in ALL the tanks were designed by Someone. They did not simply evolve. All fish, in fact, all of life, is the product of a mighty God, not the product of a muddy glob. The evidence of the Designer is all around us, and we do not need interactive screens, or professionally prepared voice overs or plaques on walls to understand this. All we need do is look at the order of nature and realize such order must have come from a Designer. For those who know Christ, we know the Designer by name.

Lord, may everyone who looks at the engineered Glofish come to understand that all of us are designed for a purpose by a Designer who cares deeply for us.



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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter and writer who has lived in New England for over 20 years. An energetic speaker, he often finds ordinary things in life to help him teach powerful truths from God's Word.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Growing Up Emotionally and Being Authentic

1 Corinthians 13:11 - When I was a child, I spoke like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.

Technology allows us to share our thoughts with the world. We can tweet, Facebook, instant message and blog our opinions about anything to anyone with the touch of a button. In an instant the whole world can know what we think.

Though there are some positive aspects about being able to share our thoughts with the world, there are also negatives. One negative is that sometimes we let our emotions speak before our brain thinks through what we are going to say. That usually results in us saying something we should not have said. Another negative is that sometimes we do not really know what we are talking about, but we keep talking anyway. Though people may not say anything to us, they think less of us when we go on and on about something we obviously do not really know much about. All of this miscommunication creates a mass of data available to anyone with a computer, even though a lot of it should never have been expressed anyway.

What is the result of all of this miscommunication? Politicians who spin opinion stories in order keep their poll numbers up, even when facts say something different. Celebrities who hire press agents to project personas that do not really exist. Teenagers who get mad at someone and start a rumor that goes viral in an afternoon ruining reputations and destroying relationships. We are surrounded by half-truths and falsehoods. It has become difficult to know who or what to believe.

The prevalence of incorrect information has caused many people in our nation to value transparency. We are tired of all the fake stuff and the spin zone. We just want people to look us in the eye and be honest with us, even if we do not agree with what they are saying. We want genuine authenticity from our leaders and from those around us with whom we interact on a regular basis.

A lack of authenticity keeps tension levels between individuals higher than what is healthy. It makes explosions of anger and public temper tantrums more common. While our society may accept public temper tantrums from preschoolers in a grocery store because their parents will not buy them a candy bar, do we really want it from 35 year olds in the office, or the fitness center, or the church?

It is time for us to grow up emotionally. I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in First Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.” Paul reminds us that as we mature emotionally, we should be able to act more mature. That includes learning how to have transparent relationships without acting like children. It is possible to be authentic and still leave certain words or comments unsaid. The whole world does not need to know what we think about everything in life. Though our culture may have made a mess of all of this, Christians need to be emotionally and spiritually mature enough to show people a better way to use technology to interact with those around us.

Lord, help us be authentic with those around us but also help us to learn when to share our thoughts and when to keep them to ourselves. Amen.

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This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:


Friday, August 22, 2014

Helping the Poor vs. Salvation - Christianity 101

 
Mark 8:36-37 - For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul? What can a man give in exchange for his soul?



Shortly after Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis in March 2013, I heard an interesting discussion on the news. A commentator was talking about the new Pope and his emphasis on compassion for the vulnerable. In the banter back and forth between the various commentators, this fellow said, "It's just Christianity 101. The basis of Christianity is to help the poor." This commentator was not a theologian, nor was he an official spokesperson for Pope Francis, but he expressed a common misconception that many people have, which is that the primary purpose of the church is to help the poor and needy.

While helping the poor and vulnerable is a key part of how Christianity demonstrates the love of Christ to others (James 1:27, John 13:35), it is not the basis of Christianity. The basis of Christianity is what Christ has done. Christianity 101 is that people, by nature and by choice, are sinners. Anyone who doubts this need only watch the nightly news to see the depravity of mankind. But Christianity 101 also says that God loves us and that His love is more powerful than man's sinfulness. Christianity 101 teaches us that our sinful condition must somehow be corrected. After all, a loving God would never leave us in our messed-up condition. The idea that sin must be atoned for is where our concept of justice comes from. Innately, we know that there is a consequence for bad actions and a price to be paid when a wrong is done. One does not have to be a theologian to understand that. Thousands of years of human history have clearly proven that we are incapable of fixing our messes ourselves. Therefore, God sent His Son Jesus to earth to not only show us a better way to live, but to offer Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. His life and death satisfied the justice of God, as well as set an example for how to live. That is Christianity 101.

This does not mean that helping the poor and the needy is unimportant. Clearly Jesus expects us to do that, but helping the poor and needy is Christianity 201, not 101. People must first address their own sinfulness before they can help others in ways that make a long-term difference. People must first find the love of God in their own lives before they can adequately give that love to someone else through compassion that really helps, instead of a patronizing attitude that actually hurts.

Perhaps the problem with much of what the church is doing is that we have attempted to help the poor and needy without first finding the help that God gives in our own lives. We must first enroll in Christianity 101, and then progress to Christianity 201. When the church gets the order right, it will become what it was meant to be, a place for both spiritual peace and compassionate charity. Either one without the other is an incomplete picture of what the church is supposed to be.

Lord, help us know You personally in a real and vibrant way, and then enable us to assist the poor with both their physical and spiritual needs. Amen.


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This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Terrible Rumor Around Town

Luke 5:30-32 - 30 But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to His disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

A gentle older couple from a church across town stopped by my office one day. They wanted to make me aware of a terrible rumor going around about our church. The rumor was that our church allowed anyone to worship with us no matter their past background, or their current state of sinfulness. I did not know where that couple heard that rumor, but I was quite happy to confirm that the rumor was true! Our church had worked hard to let everyone in the community know that we accept all people just as they are. I rejoiced that day that the word had gotten out about our open door policy and that people are talking about it openly in our community. I can think of worse rumors floating around out there about churches.

Jesus encountered the same kind of rumors in His ministry. Luke 5:30-32 recounts one such story. In this passage, we see that Jesus reached out to people who did not fit the typical religious stereotype. Jesus reached out to those often spurned by the religious crowd. Many people did not understand, or like, the people Jesus reached.

Jesus knew His actions were misunderstood by many, yet He made them anyway. Jesus loved all kinds of people. His love compelled Him to reach out to anyone He came in contact with, including those that others may have considered untouchable. But do not be confused. Though Jesus took each person as they were, He loved them too much to leave them where they were. Jesus challenged people to consider their spiritual condition before a holy God and called them to repent of their former lifestyles and become His followers.

Our church felt the same way. We accepted people as they were but loved them too much to leave them that way. We did not judge. We just sowed the Word of God into their lives and watched as the Spirit of God transformed them. We believed it was the church’s job to help each Christian learn to imitate Christ. However, we understood that the process took time and were patient in the process.

I thank God that our church was filled with messed up people who found a loving and accepting place where they could discover Christ and then be changed. It would be wonderful if this same rumor was whispered about churches all over our nation. When that begins to happen, we will see another great spiritual awakening sweep across our land.


Lord, help us to reach out to people who may not think they are good enough to come to church. Amen.


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This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Nice Things Christians Say

Luke 11:42- 46 - 42 But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of mint, rue, and every kind of herb, and you bypass justice and love for God. These things you should have done without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! You love the front seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! You are like unmarked graves; the people who walk over them don’t know it. 45 One of the experts in the law answered Him, Teacher, when You say these things You insult us too. 46 Then He said: Woe also to you experts in the law! You load people with burdens that are hard to carry, yet you yourselves don’t touch these burdens with one of your fingers.

We have all known Christians who used nice words to say mean things. I lived in the South for a few years and would often hear people say “Well, bless your heart.” At first, I thought people were speaking a blessing over whomever they were talking to. I eventually realized that phrase means “I think you are a complete idiot, but I am too nice to be honest with you.” Once I realized the real meaning of this phrase, it did not seem very nice at all.

Then there are those Christians who find a scripture, usually out of context, and use it as a weapon against people they disagree with. They often start the conversation with a very sweet tone of voice and deceptive smile as they say, “The Bible says,” and then offer their out-of-context verse. Though their charm and use of Bible verses can be disarming, just try disagreeing with them. Suddenly the charm disappears and they make us feel like we are going against God Himself.  The fact that they have often ignored the full teaching of scripture on whatever the subject is does not matter to them.

Then there are the Christians who say they are “praying for you.” But the context of the conversation, the tone of their voice, or their body language indicates that they are actually judging us and are not likely to be praying for us at all. Thankfully, many are genuinely praying and since most of us can use all the prayer we can get, we are encouraged when someone says they are praying for us. But when Christians use “I am praying for you” as a nice way to tell us they think we are bad people, it takes away whatever encouragement we might have gained from genuine prayer.

I am not suggesting that Christians should stop trying to be nice. Our world has become a pretty harsh and rude place. We need more niceness in our society, not less. I am simply observing that sometimes we Christians like to hide behind nice words to say mean things. Most people can see right through this as thinly disguised arrogance. They know it is not an example of true spirituality. More importantly, God sees through it because He knows our hearts. He will hold us accountable for using His Word, prayer and Christian phrases in mean ways to hurt others.

Lord, help our kindness towards others be genuine and from the heart. Keep us from using nice words as a screen for being mean to those around us. Amen.


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This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:


Friday, August 15, 2014

Treating People As We Want to Be Treated


Luke 6:31
Just as you want others to do for you,
do the same for them.

The local McDonalds can reveal a lot about human nature. While eating a Big Mac, I once observed two arguments between complete strangers. In the first situation, a young man was in line waiting to order. His ears had been gauged, but he had taken out the gauges. This had left huge holes in his ear lobes. Although I found it a bit unsightly, I just decided to look at something else. However, a man in the next line over started making cruel comments. He called the boy's ears disgusting. He went on to say that he thought it was wrong for the boy to expect us to eat after looking at his ears. Then the boy made some comments back. I feared they would come to blows. Finally, the boy took his order and left in anger. Though I did not care for his ears either, I was shocked that a complete stranger assumed the right to criticize someone else’s ears publicly. It was mean spirited and wrong.

As I continued to eat my meal, I overheard two older ladies conversing about a politician. In my opinion, the statements were accurate, but I did not know the women and kept my opinions to myself. Suddenly another man jumped up, ran over to the women, and began screaming at them about how the previous politician in that office was far worse than the current one. The women were quite taken aback by his brash interruption into their private conversation. They responded by saying they disagreed with the man. But he went on and on, berating them for their opinions. Finally he stormed out of the building leaving the two women – and the rest of us - speechless.

As I reflect on these experiences, it seems odd that complete strangers treated each other this way. Why did they feel compelled to verbally harass others about things that really were none of their business?  What made them think causing a scene was acceptable? Something has happened to our society when such behavior has become common. As Christians, we must learn to set an example for how people should treat one another. We may not like how others are dressed, or what they have done to their bodies, or the political opinions they may share, but we should treat those around us with respect and dignity as people created in the image of God.

Lord, help us all learn to respect one another more and demonstrate our faith in how we treat every person. Amen.



This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Guilt or Conviction


John 16:7-11 - Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: About sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

I can remember times in my life when I sat in church and felt overwhelmed by guilt. No matter how much I prayed, the guilt did not go away. Other times I sensed the Spirit convicting me about some sin and after sincere confession and repentance, the sense of conviction was lifted. I have come to realize there is a significant difference between guilt and conviction.

Since the Bible teaches certain standards, feeling bad about our sin is not a negative thing. But some churches have taken the whole “hell, fire and brimstone” message a bit far. Such churches use guilt to get people to behave a certain way. One problem with guilt-based approaches is that while they often work in the short term, they seldom work in the long term. On the rare occasion that guilt does change behavior over the long term, it robs people of the joy and happiness they should find in their faith. Another problem with guilt-based approaches is that young people with a more post-modern worldview refuse to be motivated by guilt. Therefore, they consider guilt-based churches irrelevant and simply ignore them. This leaves pastors and church leaders in an interesting dilemma. We need to help people learn the biblical principles for godly living, but we need to do it in ways that are based on Holy Spirit conviction instead of the human emotion of guilt. This leads to the third problem with guilt-based approaches: Who benefits from them? Guilt-based approaches are manipulative, often resulting in some benefit for the manipulator. But conviction is more honest and transparent; it leads to the benefit of the person sensing the conviction.

It can be difficult to discern between guilt and conviction because they often both start the same way, with some deficiency in our lives. Guilt reveals the problem, but then makes people feel stupid, unworthy, or full of shame. Guilt makes people feel like they will never recover from their mistake. This causes people to become either depressed or rebellious, neither of which solves the problem. Holy Spirit conviction, on the other hand, reveals the deficiency, but then uses that revelation as motivation for people to change because they really want to. Holy Spirit conviction is healthy and needed for a vibrant spirituality, but guilt is unhealthy and represses vibrant spirituality.

We must remember that guilt is from Satan and produces bad results. Conviction is from the Holy Spirit and produces good results. Guilt leaves us with an understanding that we have committed an offense, but offers no hope of redemption. Guilt fills us with the despair of condemnation.

Conviction, on the other hand, reveals an offense, a wrong or a sin, but also offers a way out of shame and condemnation through forgiveness and freedom in Jesus Christ. Once we have received forgiveness and changed our behavior, then bad feelings give way to joy. When people experience Holy Spirit conviction, instead of mere human guilt, they have an inner desire to do what is right out of the joy of their salvation and not out of fear of punishment from God or the leaders of the church. As Christian leaders, we must never use emotional guilt to manipulate people’s actions. However, it is a sacred honor to encourage people to respond to Holy Spirit conviction and find the forgiveness and joy that results.

Lord, help us respond humbly to genuine conviction from Your Spirit but never accept man-made guilt over things You have already forgiven. Amen.


This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Got the Spirit - How About You?

Ephesians 4:1-6 - Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

As a high school student I remember going to pep rallies before the big game on Fridays. We would sit in the gym according to our classes, with freshmen in one section, sophomores in another, juniors in their place and seniors usually in the best section of the gym. The cheerleaders would lead us in various cheers and then the classes would seek to outdo one another in displaying our enthusiasm for the team.

One of the cheers we often chanted went something like “We got the spirit, yes, we do; we got the spirit, how about you?” This would be chanted by one class, and another class would have to respond. Whoever shouted the loudest was considered to have the most school spirit, and therefore won the pep rally.

As an adult looking back on those pep rallies, it occurs to me that we were all cheering for the same team. We were all there to show our support for the team and encourage them to play hard and bring home the trophy. It really did not matter which class was the loudest. But back then it sure seemed important to win the pep banner and show the most school spirit.

I think this “we got the spirit, how about you” attitude sometimes creeps into the church. Some churches follow a more traditional path in worship. Other churches follow a more innovative path. Still others seek to combine elements of both traditional and innovative worship. Like high school students, we tend to hang out with people in our own group and we tend to think our group has a lock on how the Spirit wants us to cheer on the saints in worship. At times it seems that we are acting more like high school students at a pep rally instead of mature leaders in the church of Jesus Christ.

Traditional pastors may think that innovative pastors have watered down the Bible and abandoned biblical principles. Innovative pastors sometimes feel traditional pastors have quenched the Spirit and are riding a dead horse into the ground. Often pastors are caught somewhere in the middle and afraid to share their ideas about these matters with anyone because they are not sure how those ideas will be received. Such pastors tend to drift back and forth between one group or another never really fitting in completely.

Perhaps we should stop acting like self-centered teens trying to prove we have the most spirit and instead focus on serving the Lord in the way that He leads us to. While some traditional pastors may have indeed quenched the Spirit, there are others who are deeply in love with Jesus and serve Him with passion, but through traditional ways. Likewise, some innovative pastors have taken far too many liberties with the Bible in their efforts to be contextual. But many others have searched the scriptures and many things they are doing are often ancient practices of the church re-packaged for a more modern audience. Since we are all on the same team, we should rejoice when someone discovers a way to engage a group of people and lead them in genuine worship, even if it looks different than how we lead our own group.

It takes all types of churches to reach the many different types of people in our society. Together, as a team, we can join God in His work and reach all those whom He is calling to Himself.

Lord, help all Bible believing Christians find unity in our mutual faith together instead of being in competition with one another. Amen.



This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Church Planting Essentials - Guest Post by Logan Loveday

Church Planting is full of ups and downs. For those church planters that do not own their own facilities they can easily relate to the struggle that comes from being constantly mobile. While renting a space can be both inexpensive and greatly rewarding, the portable church model always comes with its surprises.

There is never a dull moment in this type of church planting. I have experienced the struggle of the portable church many times. Whether it is a double-booking issue, worship team issue, supply issue, or technology issue, there will always be surprises. In the early stages of planting, a service can rarely go according to plan or without some problems. The computers will crash and the sound system won’t work. Someone will be late or forget that they are on set-up duty. The coffee and refreshment supplies will run out and someone will forget to restock them. The portable church vehicle or trailer will be missing items and yes, someone will have to go back and get them. No matter the situation the unexpected will happen when planting a church with the portable model.

From my own personal experiences in church planting, I have come up with 7 principles to remember when planting through a portable church model.

1. Stay calm; God is in control. Yes, someone forgot the keys or there is no one around to open the space. Yes, the space was overbooked. No matter how big or small the problem, even though it may at first seem to ruin the entire service or set-up, God is still in control. There is a reason for the problem. Breathe, discover the problem and devise a quick and efficient plan on how to remedy the situation. This may be an opportunity God wants to use to teach you how to be a more mature and effective leader. Remember, people are always watching.

  2. Prepare ahead of time. Call ahead. Plan who will do what, when, where, and why. Make sure everyone knows their job for the service or set-up. Make sure you have everything you need ahead of time. Please don’t wait to go check the coffee supplies or buy batteries that morning. Make a list or an action plan to help the team remember what need to be done.

 3. Expect the unexpected. It never fails. No matter how much planning and preparation goes into the service and set-up, something will go wrong. Someone will forget something important or a certain technology piece will go missing from last week’s tear-down. (Yes, the one that projects the words for worship and PowerPoint.) Every detail can be planned out for the service and something will go wrong, but that is not an excuse to wing it. Remember, at the core of what we are doing we are trying to connect people with Jesus. We must do everything we can to make sure nothing hinders that from happening.

  4. Have a back-up plan. So you planned it all out. The team knows what they need to do. But, you arrive and nothing goes according to plan. While many would want to crawl up in the corner and cry, as the pastor or leader you cannot do that. You must adapt to the situation and have a plan-B. When your team is planning the service make sure you add in fail-safes. Bring extra equipment, have extra helpers, buy extra supplies. You must acknowledge that things can go wrong and you need to be ready. Even if the back-up-plan is not perfect, you need to be ready when a problem arises and people come to you or the other leadership for help.

  5.  Recruit volunteers. Do not do it alone. This cannot be stressed enough. In ministry you cannot be an island in and of yourself. In church planting, it is very hard if not impossible to set up the entire service by yourself. Learn to delegate the responsibility. Lead and teach people the set-up process and then let them do it. If they mess-up then you can re-teach it to them if needed. A great way to ensure success in the portable church model is to recruit multiple set-up teams. These teams do not have to be large; just enough to prepare everything for the service. Teach these teams what all needs to be accomplished for a service to happen. Put the teams on either weekly or monthly rotating schedules. This not only helps you and the other leaders, but it allows the others to get involved in the church planting process.

   6. Make sure you have set-up lists and instructions. Set up for success; not failure. Even though you may have taught the set-up teams perfectly, someone will forget something or someone will forget how to do something else. Make check-lists for the night before that helps the teams know exactly what needs to be loaded up or put in the trailer. Also include detailed instructions for set-up of various signs, booths, tables, and equipment.

   7. Rejoice always. Rejoice when set-up is perfect and when it is not. Make a special comment during the service or after, recognizing God’s plan and power in each set-up and service.  Thank Him for making it possible to worship whether set-up went perfectly or even if there were problems. Acknowledge team members and their hard work even if set-up had issues. Thank all the team members for their hard work and willingness to serve. 



This post was originally posted at Logan Loveday's blog, which can be found at:
http://pastorlogan.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Which God Can Help Us?


2 Kings 1:3 - But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, Go and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?


King Ahaziah had been injured in an accident and was afraid he would die. Instead of seeking help from God, he sent a messenger to a foreign land to inquire of their false god if he would recover from his injury. Elijah, the prophet of God, met the messenger on the journey and asked, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?”

Time and again throughout the history of God’s people, God had proven Himself to them. God had worked miracles on their behalf. It was inconceivable to Elijah, in light of all that God had done for His people, that they would seek advice from a false god. Yet, that is what King Ahaziah did.

As we think about our own lives, we have also witnessed God’s power time and again. How many times have we had some close call in our lives and knew someone must have been watching out for us? How many times have we prayed in a time of crisis and God came through for us? God has been there for us in both big and small ways our entire lives. It is inconceivable that we would seek help from any other source but God. Yet, like King Ahaziah of old, we often do that very thing. We call psychic hotlines. We read fortune cookies. We watch shows on television in which pop-psychologists give us the latest fad in human thinking, even if it goes completely against God’s Word. We dabble in New Age philosophies and Eastern religions seeking truth. We ask friends who do not know the Lord for advice instead of seeking it from the Bible or from trustworthy pastors.

In the biblical story, King Ahaziah died because he sought help from the wrong source. It may sound cruel for God not to help him in his situation, but remember, King Ahaziah did not ask God for help. He asked a false god for help and received exactly the kind of help that false god could provide: nothing. Essentially, God decided to give King Ahaziah what he asked for, and it did not end well. As we consider our own relationship with God, why do we think God will help us when we have called upon everyone but Him in our distress? What if God let all the false hope and bad advice we sought come to fruition in our lives? It would be a disaster.

Thankfully, our God is a God of grace who often helps us even when we do not deserve it. But I do think from time to time He withholds His help while we seek all those other deadends. He wants us to see that those deadends lead nowhere, so that when we finally come back to Him, we will be more faithful than we were before. If we tarry too long in turning back to Him, all we have left is the false hope, false comfort, and false help this world offers. It only leads to disaster. Let’s commit ourselves to turning back to the true God of the universe today and serve Him with all of our hearts.

Lord, remind us to seek help from You in times of need instead of looking to the false hope this world offers. Amen.



This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experienceshttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MJ2UE4E. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MJ2UE4E