Thursday, February 25, 2016

Who Will Lead?

Earlier this week I was at a meeting of key leaders from the denomination I am affiliated with. The President of the denomination gave a powerful challenge not only for us to be leaders, but to ask ourselves WHERE we should be leading people. I have been pondering his words and considering the leadership vacuum that exists in our culture.

Families are in trouble. Though many factors contribute to that stress, what is missing most are fathers who are willing to lead their families in the way that God intended. Thank God for all the single moms who are making things work. But I think every single mom would agree that if the Lord gave her a good man who would be the kind of husband and father that was really needed, her family would become stronger. Fathers need to lead, but they cannot lead when they do not know where to lead.

Churches are in trouble. Though many factors contribute to the decline of church attendance in our culture, what is most missing are deacons, elders and pastors willing to lead. Many want a position of leadership, but few want to do the work of being a leader. Thank God for the older generation that has led for so long, but if a new generation does not step up to the plate and lead, a large number of churches will not exist in the next decade. Churches need leaders willing to do the work that is required of leaders.

Economies are in trouble. Though many factors contribute to the financial challenges families, organizations and governments are experiencing, what is most missing are leaders willing to make the hard choices that will provide for long term financial security. Families that do not save for their future are unlikely to ever get to the future they want. Organizations that use money in unwise ways, will experience a crisis of donor confidence that eventually lowers giving. Governments that cater to special interest groups instead of making decisions that are best for the larger group become paralyzed. We need leaders willing to make the hard choices even if not everyone agrees with those choices.

Everywhere we look leadership is in great demand but short supply. There are no easy answers. It is has been so long since many of us have seen really good leaders that we may not even know what they look like.

As I pondered this, I found these verses of scripture. They describe the kind of leaders we need. Men and women who lead like this will know who they are and where they need to lead us to. They can save families, churches and economies. May God help us be leaders like this!

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
Luke 6:31
"Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.
"It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,
John 3:30
"He must increase, but I must decrease.

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.


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, February 24, 2016

In the Middle of a Pity Party - Guest Post by Dave Bentley

Yesterday my friend Terry Dorsett posted something on Facebook that drew me into Psalm 46. I realized that I have been throwing a little pity party lately because of the physical and financial struggles that my wife and I have been facing. Looking at our struggles so closely has moved my focus from the “very present help in trouble” to just the trouble.

The financial hardship has been significant. The physical struggles, especially for my beloved, have been difficult. The troubles we face are large. However, God is able to work wonders, even in the midst of the troubles. He has seen us through and has provided what is needed at the moment it is needed. He has proven time and time again that He is my refuge and strength, and my very present help in trouble.

Wait….look at that verse again.

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

Did you catch that little word slipped into the message of that verse? It states that God s “a very present help…IN…trouble.” Now, I would much rather that God were “the present help keeping me out of trouble,” but His word assures me that, though I face hardship, He is there with me IN the difficulty.

Financial challenges of car payments, educational pursuits, and a variety of mounting expenses may loom large, but God is “a very present help IN trouble.”

Health problems such as dental expenses, slow recovery, extended illness, and unexplained pains are difficult to bear, but God is “a very present help IN trouble.”

The demands of life and work may seem overwhelming, the piles of unfinished assignments may be expanding daily, and the energy needed to complete the work may seem unavailable, but God is “a very present help IN trouble.”

The message for me, in the midst of all my worry, is that God is PRESENT and IN the midst of my life’s trouble. I do not need to fear, worry, or panic. What I need is to trust and rest in the One who is my REFUGE and STRENGTH.

Pray for me, and I will pray for you as well, for God to be our refuge IN the midst of our  trouble.

Dave Bentley

Dave Bentley is the pastor of First Baptist Church, Wallingford, VT and a middle school teacher in the public school system. He blogs frequently at:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Generous Racism

Acts 10:34-35 - So Peter opened his mouth and said: Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

My friend Thomas* is a well-educated professional. He is a recognized leader in his field. He is a published author. He has a lovely wife, who is also a well-educated professional, and two lovely children. He is a picture of the perfect American family and would be considered successful by any reasonable standard. He also happens to be African American.

When Thomas felt a call to ministry, God gave him a heart to help people from urban areas find ways to create a better life for themselves in self-sustainable ways. He has some very innovative ideas for how to fuse business and ministry models so that ministry in an urban setting can have all the resources needed to support a holistic approach. With his education and experience, Thomas could easily serve an affluent suburban congregation. But he has chosen to minister in an urban context, which means that many of those he serves have fewer financial resources, and many are from various minority groups common to urban areas.

He and I were talking a couple of months ago about how to find capital investors who could help him get his unique business/ministry model off the ground. In the midst of the conversation he said something that has reverberated in my mind over and over again. He said, “Sometimes affluent people see minorities as their charity cases” and went on to explain that many affluent people only want to fund things that make them “feel good about themselves instead of actually solving the problem.” For example, affluent people are happy to spend money buying several bags of groceries for the local food bank, but few would buy their weekly groceries from a small minority owned local market. One makes the donor feel good about themselves but only addresses the symptom. The other would help create a successful business man who would then be able to provide jobs in the community so fewer people needed the services of a food bank but it is not as emotionally exciting. Many affluent people are willing to volunteer at a soup kitchen every month, but far fewer are willing to be a mentor to a disadvantaged young person, helping he/she get through high school and into a good college so he/she secure a job and never have to depend a soap kitchen for a meal. Both volunteer efforts are worthwhile, but one perpetuates dependence and the other solves a problem.

When those of us with greater resources view minorities as our charity cases, we are unintentionally displaying generous racism. Though we may be proud of ourselves for our generosity, it is still a form of racism if the only thing we support are “feel good” projects. When we only want to donate or volunteer in ways that set us up as superior to those of other races or of other economic levels, it might make us feel good but it also keeps people from reaching their full potential. This generous racism is still racism, and should not be encouraged.

Does this mean we should stop buying groceries for food banks or volunteering at soup kitchens? No. But we should view those efforts as one part of a bigger picture of how we address the challenges of urban dwellers, a significant number of which happen to be from various minority groups. We must look for ways that actually solve problems and that must include viewing minorities as fully capable of succeeding in life, and not as just our charity cases.

And if you happen to be a venture capitalist that wants to get in on the something cool in the greater Hartford, CT, area, contact me and I will put you in touch with Thomas. You will be impressed!

*Name changed for privacy reasons


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, 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, February 17, 2016

Don't Judge Me

1 Corinthians 11:31-32 - If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged, but when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not be condemned with the world.

“Do not judge me!” We hear it all the time. Pop singers who do perverted things on stage say it. Movie stars who get DUIs say it. Politicians who have affairs say it. Co-workers who show up to work with a hangover say it. Friends who have made a real mess of their lives say it. Sometimes, we say it ourselves when someone points out our obvious faults.

Our culture has become obsessed with the idea that no one should say that any particular action is wrong. For the most part, people have accepted the idea that no one should think negatively of another person for his or her behavior. Such negative thinking is considered judging. Judging has become the ultimate bad behavior. If anyone does point out that someone's behavior was in poor taste, or just plain wrong, the speaker is the one who is criticized, not the person who actually did wrong.

This may be an acceptable line of reasoning for our culture, but it ultimately leads to disaster. If everyone does what is right in their own eyes, society devolves into chaos. That is why God gave us rules to follow. But who gets to interpret what God says the rules are?

I grew up in a very rigid religious environment in which we categorized everyone's behavior as either good or bad. This was often done without really knowing the person’s heart or any of the details of the actions. In our quest for purity we separated ourselves from those who engaged in actions we deemed bad. Many people were hurt by our judgmental behavior. I no longer want to be the behavior police with some mandate to classify every behavior that anyone around me does as being right or wrong. I also do not want to watch friends ruin their lives because I am too cold-hearted to speak to them about issues they are struggling with. Some behavior is just plain wrong, and one does not have to be a religious fundamentalist to recognize that truth. Somewhere between the two extremes of never saying anything and always pointing out everything is the thin line that we should walk that shows care and concern without being judgmental.

Finding that thin line is a constant struggle. One thing that helps is to ask people questions about the things they do. By asking them questions about certain behaviors, instead of just telling them it is wrong, their own thinking is often stirred up. Sometimes they are able to rethink their own behavior and state their own need to change. This can lead to a redemptive conversation about Christ and forgiveness. Even if they do not recognize the behavior as bad, it still makes them think, and sometimes that is the best thing we can help people do.

Ultimately, God is the one who judges all of us, and He is the one who gets to decide what is good or bad behavior. Though many of our non-believing friends may not care what God thinks, it is our responsibility as Christians to help them get to that place. By asking questions that force them to rethink their behavior, we can move on to a place where we can share what God’s Word teaches. It may take several conversations, over a period of time, to get there, but we will eventually get there, without having to negatively judge others.

Lord, help us know how and when to say something to a friend about his or her behavior. Guard us from having a judgmental spirit but also remind us of the importance of holiness. 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, February 10, 2016

Do Overs - Guest Post by Chris Beltrami

I remember being 12 years old  … in the summer …  in Vermont. Almost every day, the kids would gather at the Barre Auditorium ball fields for some baseball pickup.   We would ‘grip-up’ the bat to see who would get first choice in picking the teams.   On an average day - we’d have:
One broken bat – with a screw holding it together and some black electrical tape
stretched around the gripping area.   
A ball – with missing the leather and seams seasoned away and repaired with the same black electrical tape.
Some gloves – shared by kids who had with those kids who did not.
Home plate, pitchers mound and bases – all “heel-marked’ in the dirt.
Disagreements – with yelling, screaming and fighting.
It was so great!!!
55 years later, my wife Pat and I play water volleyball… almost everyday!!!   While the equipment is top notch, the disagreements for us competitive Seniors are similar to when I was 12.   “Out of bounds”?  “Lift”?    “Carry”?   The “Score” ?????????????    Oy!
One guy often says, “What we need in this pool is some adult supervision.!”
Our only saving grace for our supposed gained wisdom is what we call a “do-over.”    This happens, when after 30 to 60 seconds of eye rolling, power playing, water splashing, whispered comments, and childish expletiving (that’s not a real word), etc. … someone yells. “Do over!”   That means that the play from the last serve is forgotten.   The current score remains, no one is penalized and the person starts a new serve.
I like “Do-overs”.         
            I like them in water volleyball and I like them regarding God’s grace.
            I think God made the days and the nights for me so that, every 24 hours, I could have a new beginning.  A “do-over’.  That means that play from the last day is forgotten.   I am not penalized and I can start a new serve.
Romans 8:38-39  “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 
 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I wake each day with thankfulness to Him … that He forgives me and that nothing can separate me from His grace and His love.  Sometimes I feel a bit guilty that I have to ask for so many do-overs, but I remain so very thankful that I can.  
So, think about it - the next time you are anxious about the score, look into His eyes of grace and be thankful that He speaks forth so freely, “Do-over!”


                                                                                 - Chris Beltrami - Barre, VT 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Killer Cows!!

1 Corinthians 9:20-22 - To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law.  To those who are without that law, like one without the law—not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law—to win those without the law.  To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.

I grew up in a city in the Midwest. As a teenager I moved to a small city in Virginia. After college I lived in a city in South Carolina. Since I had lived in a city most of my life, I experienced culture shock when I moved to rural Vermont in 1993 to live in a small village with less than 1,000 residents. We moved there as missionaries with the North American Mission Board, serving a rural church with less than 20 members, a church struggling for survival.

It has been my custom for years to walk in the mornings and pray about what God is doing in my life. During that first week of living in a rural area, I struck out walking down the main street, the only paved street in town. I did not get very far before I encountered a cow that had escaped from a pasture and was standing in the middle of the road. Having grown up in the city, I did not know quite what to do, so I froze in my tracks. My life flashed before my eyes. My heart raced with fear. Would this cow charge me? Would it trample me? Would it eat me? Surely this vicious creature was a killer cow!

I do not know how long I stood in the middle of the road looking at that cow, but someone drove by in a pickup truck and asked what I was doing. I replied that a killer cow had gotten loose and I did not know what to do. The driver looked at me, looked at the cow, and then laughed hysterically as he drove away. Eventually I realized that the poor creature was just a harmless old milk cow. I slowly eased past her and went on my way. I was not in the city anymore!

To live successfully in a rural area, I had to adjust to the presence of cows in the middle of the road. I also had to adjust how I did ministry so that it fit my context. I learned to show up at the post office each morning at 9:30 AM when everyone came to get their mail. I could visit half the town in an hour. I learned that I was the pastor for the whole community, not just my 20 church members. As the community pastor, I conducted weddings and funerals, provided personal and marriage counseling, and hospital visits for the entire community, even though many of them had little or no affiliation with our church. I learned how important it was to make a contribution to the annual 8th grade fundraiser. I learned not to wear a tie, as it made people think I was either a Mormon or a bill collector, neither of which was very welcome in that small rural village.

During the eight years I served that church, I learned a great many things about how to minister in a rural village. However, I never had to change the Gospel itself. The Gospel is always relevant to all cultures in all time periods and to all people groups. There is no other Gospel but the one found in the New Testament that begins with the sinfulness of mankind and ends with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. But methods and programs used to communicate the Gospel are constantly changing. One generation might use flannelgraph and chalkboards; another generation might use video projectors and smart boards, but the message of the Gospel remains the same.

Since my fateful encounter with that killer cow so many years ago, I have learned to communicate the Gospel in a variety of ways as I have started churches and led evangelistic activities across New England. Each town is a little different, but in each one God has called a group of people to Himself. My ministry is to join God in His work and communicate His Gospel in a way that the called can hear and respond. When that happens, the Gospel goes forth and God is glorified, and His people rejoice, even if it looks different than what we are used to.

Lord, help us learn to share the Gospel in ways those around us can understand. 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:

Monday, February 8, 2016

Finding the Right Direction

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

I was on the way to visit an acquaintance who was interested in being involved in ministry. He gave me the address where I was to meet him, but when I arrived, I could not find the house number. There were houses with numbers higher and lower, but that house number was missing. After driving up and down the road a couple of times, I called him on his cell. We realized I had gone to Stevens Street, when I was actually looking for Stephens Street. The streets are pronounced the same way, but have a slightly different spelling. They are on opposite sides of town. I would have never found the address on the first street, because that address does not exist. We had a good laugh about it when I finally got to the right place. What a difference those letters made!

That experience made me think about how important it is to make sure we get our facts right before striking off on some task, journey, or course of action. If we have a faulty premise, it will lead us in the wrong direction, and we may never find what we are looking for. Even if the underlying mistake is minor, our faulty premise will take us the wrong direction, causing great frustration as we come so close to what we were trying to do, and yet cannot quite accomplish it.

For example, when considering marriage, if we start out thinking that if it does not work out, we can just get a divorce, that will impact how we handle conflict in our relationship. Such thinking leads us to a much different conclusion than we would come to if we went into it thinking we were going to stick with the marriage no matter what, and trust God to make the relationship what it should be.
In thinking about what college to go to, if we start out thinking which school has the best recreational activities, we will end up in a much different place than if we ask ourselves which school will best help us gain the training we need to achieve our career goals.

Examples are numerous, but the point is clear. We need to start off with right information and correct reasoning so we can head in the right direction in life. How do we find the right information? Do some research. Discuss the issue with people who have already been there. Ask lots of questions. Most importantly, read the Bible and pray for guidance. The Bible is still relevant for today and God’s advice is always right. As we learn to trust in the Lord’s advice, we will head in the right direction in life.

Lord, help us listen to Your advice and follow Your directions. 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:

Friday, February 5, 2016

Why Use a Sermon Series?

While some scripture texts and topics can be adequately dealt with in a “stand-alone” sermon, other texts and issues are better suited for a sermon series. A sermon series allows you to delve deeper into a text or subject than a stand-alone sermon. A sermon series is best used when the material is simply too much to be covered in a single sermon.

A series can be as short as three sermons or as long as eight. Less than three is just not enough to make a real series. More than eight is probably too long for people to connect all the parts to the whole.

A series should have an overall theme. Each sermon in the series should address some aspect of that theme. For maximum effectiveness, some sort of review will be necessary during each sermon to connect the individual sermons to the whole series. Handouts tend to help the series be more effective because it provides a written summary of the entire series after it is completed. If the series would interest the community, it can be used as an outreach tool.

Creating a strong series of sermons is a lot of work. It is easy to question the validity of all that work once the series is over, especially if there were no immediate results from the series. However, a sermon series can continue to be useful long after all the sermons have been preached.

Ways to use a sermon series after it is complete:

1. Use CDs/DVDs of the series to give to church visitors as a welcome gift. This is especially helpful if it is a series that explains what the church believes.

2. Use CDs/DVDs of the series as an outreach tool to the community. This is especially helpful if it covers some topic that might be of interest to the greater community, such as how to be an effective parent, or how to have a happy marriage or how to manage personal finances.

3. Use CDs/DVDs to build a “library” of the church’s teaching on a particular subject. This is especially helpful if the church has a lending library so that people can check the series out.

4. Distribute CDs/DVDs to those who have become home bound temporarily or are residents at a nursing home. This allows them to keep up with what is being taught at church.

5. Use the series to provide theological training to others. This is especially helpful if others in the church want to become pastors or lay ministers.

6. Convert the sermon series into a weekend seminar or week long revival so it can be used again.

7. Publish the series on YouTube so that the general public can have access to the information as well.

8. Convert the notes from the sermon series into a booklet that can be mass produced and distributed widely.

Though creating a strong series of sermons can be a lot of work, by using the series in other ways besides the original intent, it can be well worth the effort.


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: