Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Loops - Take II (reposted from 6/2/09)

Jesus says, "Follow me."
And often we answer, "Lord, I will follow You, but..." (Luke 9:61)
Following Jesus requires submitting our will to God's will. If, when Jesus calls, we choose to follow our common sense instead, then we find ourselves in, what I call, a loop.

Oswald Chambers
teaches it this way...
If you get into the habit of doing something physically, you will do it every time you are tested until you break the habit through sheer determination. And the same is true spiritually. Again and again you will come right up to what Jesus wants, but every time you will turn back at the point of testing, until you are determined to abandon yourself to God in total surrender.

When we fail to follow God's will then He loops us back to face the same test again. These loops continue until we submit. During these loops our relationship with God stops growing. However, when we finally pass the test by surrendering ourselves we (again) move forward in our relationship with Christ.
Are you currently caught in a loop? The way forward is to submit to God's will even when it doesn't make sense.
Lon Alderman

Friday, May 27, 2011

Shifting Energies

Greetings!  I am shifting my blogging energies to a new blog.  This new effort is particularly focused on encouraging pastors.  Through it I am encouraging pastors to build the habits, skills, and attitudes that lead to excellence in ministry over time.  The blog is titled, "Enduring Ministry", and you can check it out at this link:

I plan to leave this (Daily Build Up) blog open, but my posting to it will be even more infrequent than it has been recently. Thank you for following this blog and for all of your encouragement.

Stay encouraged!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Essentials of Enduring Ministry: Balance

The phrases "balanced lifestyle" and "pastoral ministry" are rarely found in the same paragraph.  However, on the rare instance when we find them together they are not linked favorably.  Why is that?

When I look at Christ's ministry, it doesn't seem overwrought.  Rather, His way seemed cool, collected, and, dare I say it, rested.  Instead of being wrung out, Jesus always appears to be the calm in the center of the scene.

I have often made the joke that military intelligence is an oxymoron (which I had to look up how to spell, so who's the real "moron").  However, the military outfits its platoon leaders with much less gear than the troops.  Why?  This way when heat-of-the-battle-decisions need to be made, the officer is not worn out from carrying 60-pounds of gear like the other soldiers. Instead, he is fresher and can make clear, life-saving decision.

Pastors need to be similarly prepared for their decision-making, because many of the "battles" they fight are about life and death, too.  The significant difference is that pastors deal in things that last eternally.

And maybe, just maybe, could this apply to all the other people that follow Jesus, too?

Find balance.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Why I do Acorn Ministries.

When I tell people about what "I do" at Acorn Ministries, I usually get a response something like "that's nice".  The tone is usually the same as if I had just announced that I'm wearing a clean shirt today.

Perhaps when you read this excerpt from a blog by Micheal Hyatt you will better understand why "I do" what "I do".

According to an August 2, 2010 article in the New York Times, entitled, “Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work”:

Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”
In addition, PastorBurnout.com reports that:
    1.    1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.
    2.    75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
    3.    70% don’t have any close friends (this one about makes me cry).
    4.    57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do.
    5.    Clergy have the second highest divorce rate among all professions. 
This makes the ministry one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet. God never intended for us to go it alone.

Acorn Ministries builds up the body of Christ, the Church, one leader at a time.

That's what "I do".


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Catching Us Being Good

We all have a basic understanding that God is “all-knowing”, but do we really think about what that means?  Certainly God doesn’t pay attention to every detail, does He?  Surely God overlooks my momentary lapses and my insignificant “no-harm” sins, don’t you think?

I thought that could be true until I read this:

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 NIV)

Ouch!  According to this passage, God is aware of everything!  Well, OK, so God sees what I’m up to, but that’s as far as it goes, right?

Psalm 139:1-4 NIV
 You have searched me, LORD,
   and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways.
 Before a word is on my tongue
   you, LORD, know it completely.

Double ouch!  You’re telling me that God knows my thoughts, my words?  O man, I’m doomed.  Why would God want to pay such close attention to me?  I’m not a troublemaker.  I go to church.  Why is He scrutinizing my life?  Is He trying to stack up enough “charges” to send me to Hell?  Is He trying to get sufficient dirt on me to send me into eternal punishment?

But wait a minute, God is all about love.  Scripture says:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…  (John 3:16 NIV)


See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  (1John 3:1 NIV)

If God loves me so much, it doesn’t make sense that He would search my life to condemn me, does it?  What if God’s purpose for paying attention to the details of my life has a different purpose than to punish me?  Instead, what if there is a loving purpose for concentrating on every detail of my life?

Parenting experts teach us to “catch our children being good”.  That is, as a parent it is good for my children if I look in on them now and then with ”praise” in mind.  Instead of looking for something that deserves a punishment, I look for an opportunity to praise their behavior. 
What if this is what God is doing with us?  What if He is paying attention to the details of our lives – even our thoughts – so that He can catch us being good?  If that’s the case, then what does “being good” look like for God?

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  (Mark 12:30 NIV)

Then what if God’s purpose in scrutinizing the tiniest details of our life is to catch us loving Him?  What if He pays attention to our thoughts to see if we love Him with our hearts and our minds?  Do you suppose He watches our every movement to see if we love Him with all our strength?  Could it be that God watches every detail of our life to see if we love Him with our whole soul?

…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…   (Matthew 6:33 NIV)

Are you thinking about God?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Dr. Brene’ Brown studied the essence of human relations from the perspective of a social worker.  She discovered, much to her chagrin, that at the heart of relationships in vulnerability.  Her research taught her that relationally successful people, labeled “wholehearted” people, have the common trait of being vulnerable to others in their relationship.

The world we live in teaches us that vulnerability is something to be avoided.  We are taught to protect ourselves, don’t take risks, and avoid looking weak.  These lessons are learned from infancy, and we learn them well.  We avoid the sense of vulnerability like it’s the plague.

The problem is that deep relationships depend upon two people making themselves vulnerable to each other.  This could explain much.  Why don’t marriages last?  It could be that our relationships are stunted because of our culturally learned unwillingness to allow ourselves to be sufficiently vulnerable with one another.

Further, this vulnerability issue is a problem for us Christians.  Jesus calls us to voluntarily take on the posture of vulnerability.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25 NIV)

Denying ourselves, carrying crosses, and losing our lives are images replete with a sense of vulnerability.  Thereby, they are things, acculturated as we are, to be avoided. 

Christ’s command to lose our lives is a command that He was willing to follow Himself.  Jesus could have come as a king commanding thousands of troops.  Jesus could have demanded the worship of the world.  Instead, Jesus showed us the way.  He showed us about vulnerability.  Jesus laid down his life.

Jesus commands us to love one another.  C.S. Lewis writes, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”  Jesus commands us to be vulnerable in our relationships with people.

Please join me in striving to live according to Christ’s command to live counter culturally, to live vulnerably.

In Christ,
Lon Alderman

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Walking with Jesus is no “happily ever after”!

Well, if you’ve bothered to read on then you are either mad at me for this title or curious as to what I’ve been drinking with my coffee this morning.  Let me first assure you that I love Jesus and that I count every moment in His presence as a blessing, because I have found joy there, in His presence, which cannot compare with any joy found on this earth.  And, believe me, I have searched, and nothing this side of Heaven can compare.  So, what’s my point?

We have this idea in our minds, which was planted in our infancy, about “happily ever after”.   The stories we read (and viewed) all demonstrated a common conclusion.  That is, at the end of the drama, when the villain has received his just desserts, then the story ends with, say it with me, “and they lived happily ever after”.  Now, in our young minds we accept this to be true.  We believe that the rest of their lives will be lived without conflict.  After all, the villain has been vanquished; and all of the issues experienced by sub-characters have been resolved.  Therefore, we conclude that the bad stuff is over, done, never to be seen again.

But that’s not how life is, is it?  If you’ve lived more than 10 years on this planet, you already know that that understanding of “happily ever after” doesn’t exist.  Or do we?  My experience is that many people who follow Jesus actually expect a “happily ever after”.  I’ll make this personal in an attempt to keep my offenses to a minimum.  When I accepted Christ’s gift of salvation I FULLY expected that there would be no more difficulty in my life.  Can you imagine my shock then when trouble arose?  It knocked me off my pegs!

The truth about life is that it is full of trouble.  There is no “happily ever after” that whisks us off carefree beyond the reach of pain and suffering.

1Peter 4:12-16 
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

When we walk with Jesus we must expect trials and sufferings, but they are not to be feared.  On the contrary, if we suffer because of our walking with Jesus, then we can celebrate.  We celebrate because we are “blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on [us]”.  Our response is not “poor me”, but rather “praise be to God for allowing me to bear Christ’s name and to share in His suffering”.

I understand that it is very easy for me to type such a statement, but it is a huge challenge to live it out.  O but when we do live it out, what a magnificent witness it is to this world.  What a tremendous story we make when we praise God in our suffering.  But beyond our witness to the world there’s something else that comes with walking with Christ during our trials.

Even though our walk with Jesus is no “happily ever after” we actually experience something even better.  Yes, we experience something BETTER than “happily ever after”.  If we walk with Christ, even though we go through times of suffering, we will find peace.  The peace of Christ is like nothing else on earth.  And as for me, I’ll take Christ’s peace over “happily ever after” any day of the week.

If you are suffering, please turn your eyes to Jesus.  Lay down your burden of pain before Him.  Ask Jesus into your heart.  Let Him carry you for a while.  And you will find peace even in the face of suffering.  For that matter you can find Christ’s peace in every circumstance.

Philippians 4:4-7 
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Find peace,
Lon Alderman