Archive | October 2014

Update: There’s A Little Less of Me–October 31, 2014

 

There’s A Little Less of Me

NOTE: This post is in reference to a new diet and lifestyle choice that I started on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.  Feel free to skip this post if you aren’t interested.  However, if you are interested, and might like to know how to help me then read on.

Snapshot_20141031

I was gesturing to Andie yesterday and caught a glimpse of my hand.  Suddenlty I realized that my hand and fingers seemed significantly smaller.  I have large hands anyway, but in the past few years they have looked swollen.  I know that may seem like a small thing, but for me it was a moment of victory and realization that significant things really are happening.  I know that there isn’t a magical cure for obesity, and that it is going to require patience and endurance, but noticing the various changes along the way will help make the length of the journey toward better health bearable.

And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.  (Galatians 6:9)

This verse reminds me that this is a good thing I am doing, even though it is for myself, and that I will reap the rewards of my endurance in time.

UPDATE: Report from Check-In on 10/30:

  • Lost 9.8 pounds (Andie did slightly better at 10.2 pounds)
  • Lost 1 inch at the belly button
  • Together, Andie and I have dropped 20 pounds in a week!!

Thanks for Praying for Us!

Advertisements

Danger in the Midst of Beauty–by Dr. Terry Dorsett

October 30, 2014

About the Author:  Terry Dorsett is a colleague in ministry, a brother in Christ, and a man I’m proud to call friend.  He has endured much through the years in service for the cause of the Gospel, and maintains faith and integrity in the midst of it all.  His life and ministry provide inspiration to fellow servants and hope to those in need of Christ.

Danger in the Midst of Beauty

Most mornings I take a long walk. I walk both for my physical health and for my spiritual health. I pray while I walk and think through sermons and mediate on scripture.

One of the places I walk is a trail around the town reservoir near my home. The trail has lovely water views, views of the Hartford skyline and of course lovely trees. This fall the trees have been particularly striking as they displayed their fall colors.

New England in the fall is breath taking. It is hard for me to understand how anyone can be in New England in the fall and not believe in an all powerful Creator who displays His handiwork in such glorious ways. And yet, the vast majority of people in New England do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is one of least religious regions of our nation. Millions live in the middle of all this beauty yet are in danger of losing their souls for eternity.

The other day I was taking my morning walk and was meditating on this truth when I looked up in a tree and saw a huge hornet’s nest. The maple tree was ablaze in all it’s fall glory, but hidden in all those glorious leaves was this hornet’s nest. The nest was about 2 feet tall and hanging from a branch in a maple tree and filled with danger. I was struck by the thought that this was a vivid reminder of the contrast between danger and beauty that exists in our world. So many people are on edge of a spiritual cliff. The devil wants them to miss the Creator behind the creation so they fall off the cliff. The devil wants them to feel the pain of the hornets of life and become bitter at God, though the devil is the one actually causing the pain. The devil wants people to miss out on the most beautiful thing of all, which is faith in Jesus Christ, and he will do anything to distract people from finding that faith.

I have dedicated my life to helping people in New England see the hornet’s nest and recognize what it is so they can turn to Christ before it is too late. Would you join me in prayer for spiritual revival in New England? Would you consider adding feet to your prayers through joining us in our efforts? The harvest is great, but the laborers are few.

Lord, help us share Your love with those who live in New England. Help us help them avoid the hornet’s nest of sin and find Your love instead.

——————————

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter and author who has lived in New England since 1993. He is a happy father of three young adults, a blessed husband of one great wife, a joyful grandfather, a thankful cancer survivor and convinced that New England needs Jesus more than ever!

 

Find Terry’s BLOG and Resources Here: http://nblo.gs/111ni8

Are You Contagious?

“Do You Have Something Contagious?”

Pastor Dave Bentley

Note: I originally published this post in June, but given the media attention to Ebola it seemed an appropriate time to recall this and share it once again.

Generally, when we hear the word contagious it relates to something undesirable; an Illness, a virus, a transmittable disease.  However, we are commanded by God to have a faith that is contagious.  What this means is that, as we live out our faith in our daily lives, when we come in contact with people our life should have an impact on them that draws them closer to God in Christ.  This leads us to a couple of questions that each Christian disciple must answer.

1.  Is my life “infectious?”  Would people want to “catch” what I have?

2.  Who is in my circle of influence that I can infect with the Good News of Christ?

The Apostle Paul recognized two critical things.  First, that if we are going to impact our community and culture for Christ then we need to be engaged with people, all people, even the people that can be difficult to be around (1 Cor. 5.9-10).  Second, that we cannot limit ourselves to just what is comfortable to us if we are going to introduce the lost to salvation in Christ (1 Cor. 9.19-23).

I wonder what might happen if every Christian who reads this would ask those questions and make a decision to become a “carrier” of faith with the goal of infecting as many as possible with the message of grace, mercy, and love found in Jesus Christ.  Take off the surgical masks.  Stop trying to “sanitize” your faith for others.  Be a communicable Christian with a contagious faith.

Blessings,

Pastor Dave

(Repost from June 2014)

Sermon Notes: “He Touched Me!”–Matthew 8.1-4

imagesH5S5WQXE

“HE TOUCHED ME”

Matthew 8.1-4

1 And when He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. 2 And behold, a leper came to Him, and bowed down to Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” 3 And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus * said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and present the offering that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.”

The process of being Diagnosed with Leprosy

  • · A normal day in his life when suddenly the spots appear
  • · The man visits the priest and shows him the spots
  • · The priest examines him (7 days) and declares that he is unclean
  • · From that moment on he must avoid human contact (Living & eating in the dump)
  • · If people come close he must cover his mouth and yell “UNCLEAN” to alert them

Imagine what it must have been like for this man.

Imagine what it is like for the people who feel untouchable today.

I. THE LEPER HAD A REAL NEED

A. Consider His past (Family)

B. Consider His present (Outcast)

  • · He was TOTALLY Without Hope
  • · He was TOTALLY Without Expectation
  • · He was TOTALLY Abandoned

C. Consider His future (hopeless)

II. THE LEPER HAD A RELIANT FAITH

(One day he hears the word…Jesus)

A. Doesn’t question Christ’s ability, but His willingness

III. THE LEPER HAD A RECEIVED MIRACLE

A. The Lord was willing

B. The Lord touched Him

  • Think about the boundaries crossed
  • Without regard for the leper’s “uncleanliness”
  • Without regard for the religious traditionalists criticism

C. The Lord’s touch changed his life

“The Touch of the Master’s Hand” – See Poem Below or go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyt3-Uy4gVQ

The Process of being declared “Cleansed” (Leviticus 14)

  • · Show himself to the priest
  • · Offering of two doves…the blood of one sprinkled on him
  • · Seven day waiting period ~ then shave off ALL hair on the body
  • · Bathe according to the law to be clean
  • · Annointing with oil and lamb’s blood in prescribed way
  • · Then he can be declared “CLEAN”

IV. WE MUST ASK IN FAITH FOR HIS TOUCH

A. We all have a need.

  • The lost: salvation
  • The sick: healing
  • The confessing sinner: forgiveness

B. If we ask in faith Christ will touch us today

“With Christ the Ordinary becomes Extraordinary”

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

“Twas battered and scared, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar – now who”ll make it two _
Two dollars, and who”ll make it three?

“Three dollars once, three dollars twice,
Going for three”. . . but no!
From the room far back a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody,pure and sweet,
As sweet as an angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: “What am I bidden for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow;
“A thousand dollars – and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand – and who’ll make it three?
Three thousand once, three thousand twice
And going – and gone,” said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand –
What changed its worth?” The man replied:
“The touch of the masters hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and torn with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd.
Much like the old violin.

A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on,
He’s going once, and going twice –
He’s going – and almost gone!
But the MASTER comes, and the foolish crowd,
Never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul, and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the MASTER’S hand.

~Myra B. Welch

Update on Day 5–“Lead Me Not Into Temptation”

NOTE: This post is in reference to a new diet and lifestyle choice that I started on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.  Feel free to skip this post if you aren’t interested.  However, if you are interested, and might like to know how to help me then read on. 

1343338855772SAM_20591375022470863

Sunday, October 26, 2014 – Day 5

I have good news!  When we got checked in yesterday I had lost 6.6 pounds and Andie was down 6.8!  As she said, that’s “almost like getting paid.”  It has been a tough beginning, but it’s great to see results on the scale already.  In addition, I have not felt as hungry as I was when I wrote my previous post.  Thank you to those of you who are my praying cheerleaders.  You are making a difference.

One of the things that I know I have to be aware of and avoid is the temptations that are everywhere.  Yesterday we were at a family event and there was pizza, and it smelled really good.   Today, during our family game day, someone made popcorn, and wow that smelled better than the pizza.  Then there was candy being passed around, and I started salivating.  Thankfully, I was able to pray and find the strength to withstand.  The fact that people were excited by our check-in news helped and encouraged me to turn from the temptation.  I know I am weak, however, when I’m on my own.  I need to continually ask God to help me avoid my propensity toward giving in to those tasty temptations that seem to everywhere. 

I was reminded of this verse:

“Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

                                                                                          Matt 26:41 (NASB77)

Thank God that I can turn to Him in my weakness and when I am tempted and He is there to give me strength and help me cope.  I do not have to give in to those cravings, in fact, I can face temptation with victory in Christ.

Next Check-In with the doctor is Thursday evening, October 30.

Personal: I’m Changing my Life, and I Could Use Your Help

NOTE: This post is in reference to a new diet and lifestyle choice that I started on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.  Feel free to skip this post if you aren’t interested.  However, if you are interested, and might like to know how to help me then read on. 

1343338855772SAM_20591375022470863

  • BEGINNING STATS
    • Starting Weight: 342pounds
    • BMI 47.7

This is the most I have ever weighed.  It is nearly 200 pounds above my weight when I finished high school.  It is obviously a serious health concern.

How You Can Help!

I need two types of people to help me in this endeavor.

  • Prayers
    • Pray daily for me to stay committed to the program.  To avoid giving in to temptation, to be able to manage the cravings, and to keep my eyes on the ultimate goal of better health and greater quality of life.
  • Cheerleaders
    • One of the things I’ve discovered about myself, having been me for these many years, is that I function best with encouragement, so I want some people who can be cheerleaders to help me stay the course, and to hold me accountable if they think I might be slipping or becoming discouraged by motivating and cheering me on.

Journal

Diet Day 2 – I’m hungry. 
Dieting is hard work.  Not only is there the hunger that comes with it, but prepping the food and getting ready for the day is more difficult than I anticipated.  I’ve never really worried about portions before, so it does not come naturally.  Making sure I’m actually having breakfast is also different since I’m usually content with just coffee in the morning.  I have not minded drinking my coffee (or tea) black, I’m just glad I can still have it.
The other thing is the amount of water.  I might have had a bottle of water or so on a normal day, but now I have to drink six bottles.  In addition, for every cup of coffee I have to add in another cup of water. 

Scripture Meditation:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  James 1:2-3

Are We Narrow Minded About the Narrow Way?

Matthew 7.13-14 (Luke 13.22-30)

images3M8H12LG

Matthew 7.13-14

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and MANY are those who enter by it. 14 “For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and FEW are those who find it.

Luke 13.22-30

22 And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24 “STRIVE TO ENTER BY THE NARROW DOOR; FOR MANY, I TELL YOU, WILL SEEK TO ENTER AND WILL NOT BE ABLE. 25 “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’ 28 “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth there when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being cast out. 29 “And they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 “And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.”

INTRODUCTION

Sermon Delivery 101

  • Sermons can have a variety of purposes
    • Exalt the Sovereign
    • Equip the Saints
    • Evangelize the Sinners
    • Encourage the Suffering

The “Congregation” Changes a Little.

I believe that this is when the crowd begins to filter into the scene.  We know, based on a later verse that the multitudes reappear at the close of Jesus’ sermon. (7.28)

Beyond the textual evidence there is also a shift in the nuance and emphasis of Jesus’ teaching.  Two things stand out in these closing verses.

  • Contrast the few with the many (Disciples/Crowd)
  • Note a definite change in emphasis beyond discipleship to salvation

Several years ago my folks from Virginia surprised us one weekend and came in the back door of our church while I was in the middle of my sermon.  It threw me off because it was so unexpected.  They occasionally make these trips for “ice cream” and travel several hundred miles.  Regardless of how small the change, one can notice these small differences in the context and thrust of the sermon.

SERMON OUTLINE

The Sermon is Preached in Matthew 5-7

The Sermon is Practiced throughout the Gospels

We find an Exposition on the Sermon in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 13)

THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY

THE: definite article; used, especially before a noun, with a specifying or particularizing effect, as opposed to the indefinite or generalizing force of the indefinite article a or an.

  • The book you gave me.
  • Come into the house.

“Enter by THE NARROW GATE; for THE GATE is wide, and THE WAY is broad that leads to destruction, and MANY are those who enter by IT. 14 “For THE GATE is small, and THE WAY is narrow that leads to life, and FEW are those who find IT.

Protesting an Unpopular Idea

People don’t like to hear that I believe that there is only One Way to heaven.  They argue:

  • God is big enough to have more than ONE WAY to get to Him.
  • God is Merciful and Won’t SEND anyone to Hell
  • You Born Again Believers are just too NARROW MINDED

Some Life Illustrations

  • How many ways are there to enter a theater for a show? 1 – With a Ticket.
  • How many ways are there to board a plane for a trip? 1 – With a Ticket
  • How many ways are there to enter Disney’s Kingdom? 1 – With a Ticket

We don’t hear those same protesters accuse the theater, or the Airline, or Disney of being too NARROW MINDED because they require entrants to have a ticket as the only way to gain admittance.

WE WANT TO HAVE GOD ON OUR OWN TERMS!

The Conflict Between “Our Plan and His Plan”

  • Jesus tells us to STRIVE (Luke 13) – We must come on God’s terms
    • Our Plan: Let’s open the door wide enough to let the “good” and “sincere” people enter.
  • God is MERCIFUL…COMPASSIONATE…and UNBENDING on this issue.
  • We are ALL sinners DESERVING of eternal separation from our perfect and holy God, and death and destruction in the place of torment.
  • Yet, in His GRACE He has OFFERED us a way…THE WAY…of SALVATION. ONE WAY! Through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.
  • He took my place and He is the ONE WAY…
    • THE NARROW DOOR…”
    • NO ONE COMES…except through Him…”

IF WE MISS THE OPEN DOOR

  • The Door is Eternally Locked
  • Standing on the Porch is NOT Entering the Kingdom. (I’ll get close)
  • Our Pleading and Excuses won’t Matter (Even the Good/Sincere one)
  • Picture the People Thrown Out and the People Entering

Like the Prelude to the Award Shows as people exit their limos and make their way up the red carpet, and so many others are left outside.

INVITATION – You have a Choice to Make

  • There is ONLY ONE WAY TO SALVATION – JESUS
  • There is ONLY ONE OPTION BESIDES HEAVEN – HELL
  • There is ONLY ONE HOPE FOR THE WORLD – EVANGELISM

This means that we, believers who have decided to follow Jesus, must become the men and women who will stand by the narrow way and shout to those streaming past that this is the way…THE ONLY WAY…to be saved!