Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Acorn Build Up: Guest Encourager (10/31)

Today's "Guest Encourager" is a long-time friend and colleague, Sandy Egle. Sandy is the Executive Director of Heart to Heart Support Services, which is the "parent" organization for Acorn Ministries. Beyond managing the responsibilities of the Heart to Heart organization, Sandy serves as a Christian Counselor to the central-Illinois region. Please look to the bottom of the page for Sandy's contact information.

I hope you will enjoy Sandy's encouragement!


Matthew 4:18 – 20
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

In today’s culture we are repeatedly challenged to plan, plan, and plan some more! We plan our careers, our finances, and our day-to-day schedules. We cram into our schedules as much as possible to meet our long-range goals. Is it any wonder that today’s people, young and old alike, feel overwhelmed by busy schedules? We suffer from emotional and physical exhaustion from packing too much in our days, weeks, months and years! Just looking at our calendars can cause fatigue.

Jesus shows us an alternative way to live. Jesus said, “Come, follow me…”

Jesus did NOT say, “come and follow me and we will go to this place and stay there for “x” number of days and while we are there, we will do this and that, then we will move on to this next community and stay there for…” Jesus simply invited the disciples to walk with Him, one day at a time. Jesus provided all the information and resources they needed for each subsequent day.

Feeling overwhelmed?
1. Be still and know that He is God
2. Listen to Him - His still, small, quiet voice
3. Follow Him
4. Trust Him
5. Walk with Him - one day at a time

When we walk at this level of faith, we will discover that Jesus is enough and that we can trust Him for EVERYTHING, one day at a time.

Sandy Egle, Executive Director
Heart to Heart Support Services, N.F.P.
101 West South Street
PO Box 237
Flanagan, IL 61740
Email: h2hserve@hotmail.com

Monday, October 30, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Storms" (10/30)


Mark 4:37-40
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

I wonder how often Jesus says those very words about me, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" The storm gets so strong that it occupies my whole attention. My fear overwhelms me and I shout at the Lord, "Don't you care!"

The truth is that the Lord does care. And, God is trustworthy. It is my faith that is missing!

As the storms in your life brew, keep your faith strong. In Christ you can find calm and peace.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Be Still" (10/29)

Be Still

Psalm 46:10
“Be still and know that I am God…”

When trouble comes we tend to flee or fight. The “flee” instinct tells us to get out of the situation as fast as possible. The “fight” instinct tells us to dig in our heels and combat the problem. Either option calls us to action.

God suggests a third, and I might add unnatural, option. The third option is to respond to difficulties by becoming calm and acknowledging God’s presence in the situation. God is available in every situation. God is in charge.

When trouble comes our way God reminds us to remember who He is and trust in His action. As we respond to challenges with our own action decisions, we miss the opportunity to watch God work. We miss His leadings. We miss His convictions. We miss His still small voice. Instead, we fill our ears with the sound of our own actions.

When trouble comes today, remember God's words, "be still and know that I am God..."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Freedom" (10/27)


Galatians 5:1
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

At moments I completely understand and appreciate the freedom that Christ provides. I look at the circumstances of my life with a half-grin knowing that they really don't matter. About that time the phone rings, someone cuts me off in traffic, or I realize that I need to head to the next meeting, and the perspective is lost. My posture returns to the stooped position under the weight of responsibility, submission to the world, and, dare I say it, worry!

Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The freedom Christ offers is available to anyone! Everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can receive this freedom. I love this quote from Mehalia Jackson.

Mehalia Jackson (1911-1977):
"It is easy to be independent when you've got money. But to be independent when you haven't got a thing - that's the Lord's test." ("Quotable Women", Running Press, Philadelphia/London, 1994)

Are you free?

Housekeeping Item: I will publish (as best I can) these "Acorn Build Ups" Sunday through Friday. For those who subscribe to the FREE! email service, you will receive these "Acorn Build Ups" one day later, or Monday through Saturday. Any questions, please email me!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Acorn Build Up: Guest Encourager (10/26)

I'm thrilled to share this "stage" with my friend, Bill Allison! He eats, sleeps, and breaths encouragement, so I know we're in for a treat. Bill's ministry is Cadre Ministries which has played a HUGE role in encouraging me and Acorn Ministries. I asked him if he'd like to serve as a "guest encourager". I hope you enjoy Bill's thoughts:

I Hate "Volunteers"
by Bill Allison

The words we use are full of connotations. Would you rather buy a “pre-owned” car—or a “used” car? See what I mean? It’s the same car, but, depending on which words are used, the connotation is different.

While I love the concept of someone freely giving their time and talents to serve in a church without pay, the term “volunteer” when used in the church often seems to carry a connotation of “second best” or “not really that important.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a wonderful, committed, effective non-paid servant in a church refer to him or herself as “ just a volunteer.” Non-paid workers in the church have subconsciously picked up on the very unbiblical connotation that they are “ just volunteers.”

I believe the Bible clearly teaches that EVERY Christian is a full-time minister. (Do your own Bible study on the priesthood of the believer and start with Ephesians 4:11-12.) Therefore, I don’t like the term “volunteer” when used in a church context! We need a new term for volunteers in the church—one that doesn’t contain the second-class baggage.

The “Ministry Partner” Revolution
When speaking of someone who generously gives time to serve Jesus in a church but doesn't get paid for it, I propose we start using the term “ministry partner.” If enough of us get on board with this terminology, we might be able to exchange the word “volunteer” along with its less desirable connotations for the much more biblically accurate and dignifying term of “ministry partner.” Who knows, people who graciously serve in the church without compensation might quit acting like "just volunteers" and might start acting like… "ministry partners." The potential ramifications for mobilizing the latent volunteer power sitting (literally) in our churches could be revolutionary.

Once we’ve conquered the term “volunteer” and replaced it with “ministry partner,” we can move on to changing the term “committees” to “teams” or perhaps to my personal favorite, “cadres.” This, too, would be revolutionary. However, for now, let’s take one revolution at a time. And by the way, I don’t like volunteers—I mean “ministry partners”—I LOVE them!

What do YOU think? I welcome your response:

Cadre Ministries
Equipping Churches to Make Volunteers Wildly Successful

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Mercy" (10/25)


Titus 3:5
"[God] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy."

We are saved by mercy. I find that VERY encouraging! It's encouraging because it is God's mercy that determines the way I spend eternity, not my own efforts.

If my salvation depended upon my actions, then I would quickly lose hope. I don't know about you, but my actions are, at best, fallible. I could never attain salvation if it depended upon my behavior.

Thankfully, that's not how God did it. Instead of basing our salvation on our actions, God "saved us...because of His mercy".

Praise God for His mercy!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Path of Peace" (10/24)

Path of Peace

Luke 1:78-79 ("The Message")
"Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God's Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace."

One can conclude that there exists a "path of peace" for us as Christians. So why are we so restless? Why do we fret and worry so much? Why are we never satisfied?

Could it be that "...small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it"? (Matthew 7:14)

We want to find the path and the gate. We want to find them, now! We want to know where we're going and how long it will take us to get there. We constantly ask, "Are we there, yet?" Unfortunately, that's not how it works.

Every Christian must take the journey of life "one foot at at time" and be satisfied with that. When we trust God, then we can leave the plotting of the path to His divine wisdom. When we leave the navigation to God, then we can travel peacefully knowing that the outcome is in VERY capable hands.

When our feet leave the path, our peace slips away.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Needs" (10/23)


Philippians 4:19
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

One of these days soon, my daughter will start creating her Christmas list. She will include everything she sees on TV, plus all the items the kids at school are talking about. The hardest part about getting her list is that I won't be able to get every item that she wants.

What is on your list? Is it full of needs or wants? A challenge in the Christian life is identifying what is a "need" and what is a "want".

One summer I prayed day and night that God would give me patience to be able to handle a difficult circumstance in my ministry. After weeks of prayer the issues seemed to be getting more difficult, and my patience was not growing. I shared this with a pastor and got this response, "I'd recommend you stop praying for patience, because God is giving you the perfect circumstances you need to learn it (patience)!"

It would be a neat exercise to make a new list of the things that I need. My guess is that that list would be short, and would include few luxury items.

"...do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need [my emphasis] them. but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:31-33)

God will meet our needs!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Trials" (10/21)


1Thessalonians 3:2-4
"We sent Timothy...to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact...we kept telling you that we would be persecuted..."

There is no doubt that times can be tough, and some seasons of life are almost unbearable. I am not questioning the difficulties of life in this world; however, our response to the tough times is worth scrutinizing.

Esther 4:14
"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

Esther had an awful decision to make. Keeping her mouth shut would cause her people to be killed. On the other hand, speaking up for her people would expose her as a Jew, and possibly end her life. That is a tough time! God used Esther in this difficult circumstance to accomplish His purposes. Esther did what God needed from her.

We should expect difficulty along the path of Christ. We need to keep our faith strong so we won't be unsettled by the trials. Take courage, God is with us!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Hope II" (10/20)

Hope II

Psalm 130:5-6
"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning..."

Remember waiting outside the Principals office? You probably don't, but I sure do. There was nothing worse than waiting for the "ax to fall"! Waiting is awful when we don't know what to expect, especially when we see bad stuff in our future.

When we trust the Lord our waiting has a significantly different look and feel. We can look beyond the circumstances of the day, because we trust that God will deliver us. Hope grows no matter what the future looks like. Like "watchmen wait for the morning", we wait with anticipation of seeing how God will deliver us.

Waiting on the Lord!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Hope" (10/19)


Psalm 25:1-3
"To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame..."

Where do you place your trust? If we trust in our skills, wisdom, network, experience, friends, family, or luck, then we run a great risk of ending up in shame. Think about it, haven't we experienced the disappointment and shame that comes when we place our trust in the things of this world? Even the church can let us down!

However, when we place our trust in the Lord, then we will never be put to shame. God will never break trust with us. God is trustworthy! By trusting in the Lord we can look to the future with hope in our hearts.

May your hope be in God!

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Heart Softener" (10/18)

Heart Softener

Hebrews 3:12-13 (NIV)
"See to it...that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily...so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."

It is sooooo easy to turn away from the living God! The world distracts us. Lies take root. Sin begins to grow. Our hearts harden.

Encouragement is a great heart softener! Daily encouragement exposes sin and uproots lies. Daily encouragement returns our attention to God.

Who are your encouragers? This would be a great time to give God praise for placing these people in your life. If your "encourager list" is a little sparse, I recommend you seek God's guidance in developing an encouragement circle.

Who do you encourage? Encouraging others is a perfect way for Christians to stand out in a crowded world. It rarely costs anything, and most of the time it feels REALLY good!

Be encouraged!

P.S. Do you know any good stories about encouragers? I'd love to hear them! You can share a story by clicking on the "comment" button.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Comfort" (10/17)


2Corinthians 1:3-5
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."

As Christians we should expect suffering in our life. By choosing to stand with Jesus, we also choose to suffer alongside Him. But take heart, comfort is available in our suffering.

Take comfort in the Lord!

That sounds easy enough, but I must admit it's not my first response to discomfort. All too often I look to other people to ease my suffering. When I take my hurts to another person, then I get a human response. Rarely do I find satisfaction from human comforters.

Eventually, after I've exhausted the opportunities to share my dis-ease with people, I come around to sharing my hurt with God. It is at this point when the real comfort begins to flow. "And the peace of God, which tanscends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

As we, in turn, are called upon to give comfort to others, we can pass on the comfort that we have received from God. In this way their comfort will also be found in the Lord.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Content" (10/16)


Philippians 4:11-13
"...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Paul tells us that the "secret" to contentment is finding strength in Jesus. Talk about counter-cultural! We live in a world that calls us to pull ourselves up by our boot straps and make something of ourselves.

Paul tells us to rely on Jesus. When we focus on Jesus we place our expectations in God's provision, not on what the world teaches us is success. Richard Swenson, author of Margin, states it this way, "Want what you have." What we have is the Son of God's perfect provision. Can it get any better than that?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Acorn Build Up: "Focus" (10/14)


Matthew 14:29-30 NIV
"Come," [Jesus] said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Peter "walked on water", then he started to sink. Why did he sink? Peter takes his focus off of Jesus and begins looking at the world around him. He gets distracted.

There are forces in the world bent on distracting us. When we lose our focus on Christ, then we sink, too! We sink into the ways of the world. We conform.

Romans 12:2 NIV
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Jesus stills calls us to "come". God can do amazing things when we respond to His call, get out of the boat, and remain focused on Jesus.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

New Home ~ Daily Encouragement

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It is my hope that this blog will bless and encourage you in your daily walk with God. I will make a sincere effort to post a message each day (Monday through Saturday) that will build you up!

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Here's today's "build up"...

For most of my life I have looked for joy around the next corner. I'd think, "If I could just get through high school, then I'd be happy."

Later in life I continued that same kind of thinking, "If I only had a bigger house, a better job, or a newer car, then I'd be happy."

Then I read what Jesus said:

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (John 15:9-11 NIV)

Christ's joy is available to me here and now, not around the next corner! If I obey Christ's commands, I will remain in Christ's love. If I remain in Christ's love, then complete joy is available to me RIGHT NOW!

I pray that you will experience the joy of Christ, today!

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