Friday, March 30, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Sharpening


Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Do you have someone in your life that sharpens you? I don't mean someone that causes you to respond sharply; rather, is there someone that makes you better? It is an amazing thing when one person invests in the sharpening of another. If you don't currently have an encourager in your life, I strongly recommend finding one.

I have a friend, Ed Pears, who is one of my sharpeners. I worked for Ed at YMCA camps during the summers of 1984-87. The first amazing thing is that he hired me. The second unbelievable part of this story is that he hired me back after the first summer. But even more remarkable is that for the last 20 years Ed has called me almost every month to "check in" with me. When times are tough he has called me weekly. And when life was almost unbearable, Ed called me daily. I am a better man because of the 24 years Ed has sharpened me.

If you have a person in your life that has been a great encourager, please consider writing up a brief description of how that person has sharpened and encouraged you. I hope to share your stories on this blog with occasional Encourager Spotlights.

Happy sharpening!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Timing


John 2:3-4
When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."

Jesus understood the concept of timing. He knew at this early stage in His ministry it was too soon to "get involved". Much later Jesus was keenly aware of the arrival of His time:

John 13:1
...Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father...

We live in a time when a 20 second voice mail greeting seems like an eternity. I can't wait for the light to turn green and why does that person ahead of me in line need so many groceries? Our only sense of timing is to recognize that everything takes too long.

Regardless of our impatience, it seems clear that God organizes the building of His kingdom in a step by step pattern. One thing happens followed by another and another. To trust God is to accept His plan, His implementation of that plan, and His timing of its implementation.

Trust in the Lord.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Peace and Upbuilding

Peace and Upbuilding

Romans 14:19
So let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

I marvel at the way that God inspires and uses these Build Ups to encourage and build up people in the body of Christ. The process of putting each post together blesses and builds me up, too! I think that is what "mutual upbuilding" means. God is good!

I will be out of blogging range for the next week. I hope to begin posting again on March 29th. Until then, " of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you." (2Corinthians 13:11)


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Revealing Questions

Revealing Questions

John 6:28-29
Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

The crowd asks, "What must we do...?" Their question reveals that they don't yet get it, that is, they don't understand who Jesus is and what He has been sent to do. Their question reveals that they assume some act on their part will earn God's favor. Jesus explains that the work that God requires is to believe in Jesus.

Our questions reveal what we know and what we don't know, too. One might ask, "What kept you out until 2:00am?" The questioner knows when she arrived home, but not the reason for the late return. The questions we ask in the church reveal much about what we know and what we don't know. Here are a few questions I hear regularly:

What work can we do to keep our church going?
What work can we do to attract more people to our church?
What work can we do to increase giving?

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

Revealing, ain't it!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Shield of Joy

Shield of Joy

Psalm 5:11-12
...let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Does it feel as though life is an uphill battle? We fight and we hack. We plan and we work. We rush and we cram. And despite these heroic efforts, life remains difficult. Where can we find sanctuary?

There is shelter in the Lord. Unfortunately, I tend to seek my shelter in every other possibility. Beleaguered I eventually limp back to God. And there, vigilantly waiting, is protection. There is great joy in the strong, caring arms of the Lord.

Look to the Lord as your shield.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Adam or Jesus

Adam or Jesus

Romans 5:18-19
...just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Adam disobeyed God. Adam's defiance of God caused a gap between God and humans. As sinners, humans lost their direct relationship with God. One man, Adam, sinned causing all humans to be sinners. "...the wages of sin are death..." (Romans 6:23a)

Jesus obeyed God. Jesus' obedience took Him to the cross. His self-sacrifice was for the purpose of forgiving our sins. Forgiveness provides a way for humans to return to a right relationship with God. One man, Jesus, obeyed and gave us the opportunity of life. "...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23b)

Adam or Jesus
Disobedience or Obedience
Death or Life

Choose well.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Acorn Build Up ~ Strength and Hope

Strength and Hope

Isaiah 40:31
...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

As this week draws to a weary end, it seems fitting to remember where to find strength. There is amazing power available to us when we place our hope in the Lord. The problem is we tend to seek our strength in other places. If I work a little harder...

The Lord's power flows to us when we look to God as the focus of our hope. Our hope doesn't lie in our abilities and skills. It isn't about luck. It isn't even about the competition. No, our hope is found in the hands of our God. And when we truly wait expectantly upon the Lord there is amazing refreshment and renewed strength.

Hope in the Lord!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Forgive

Forgive by Pastor Glenn Brown

Matthew 6:14-15
...if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Let me tell you about one of the most powerful things a person can do. This powerful act is to, in a word, forgive. Have you ever been mistreated? Maybe someone you trusted betrayed your love and trust. The truth is everyone has been hurt by those you would least suspect. It seems to be part of life. Unfortunately, our bitterness over the betrayal will, over time, cause us some serious trouble. Carrying our hurt is a heavy burden, which can enslave us.

Here's the key to freedom: forgive! But you say, "there's no way I can forgive that person!" This is true. You are not able; however, Jesus can give you the strength to do it. Ask Jesus to help you and you will feel the bitterness and hatred lift, like a weight falling from your shoulders.

Praise God, He is able to set us free by the power of His love and His Holy Spirit.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Disciple Test

Disciple Test

John 13:34-35
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Jesus commands His followers to love one another. And not just any old love, but the same love that Jesus demonstrated. Jesus' brand of love is humble, self-less, sacrificial, available to all, extended to the socially marginalized, etc.

As we love one another as Jesus loved, our behavior will identify us. People that see this special kind of love will recognize us as disciples of Jesus. How are we living up to this test?

Love one another.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Acorn Build Up: A Simple Psalm

A Simple Psalm (without comment)

Psalm 25:1-5
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,
but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse.

Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Possible Mission

Possible Mission

Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

What a challenging thought! Frankly, my natural tendency is to avoid people with whom I have previously had difficulties. I figure if I just stay out of their way I won't have to deal with them. Unfortunately, I don't think that is what the writer of this verse intended. And I know that's not what God has in mind.

To the best of our ability we are to live at peace with, dare I repeat it, everyone! That means the cranky people and the people that we don't understand. It means the people older than us and the younger ones too. It means our boss and our subordinate. Everyone.

Let's start out our new week with this verse on our hearts.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Rest


Matthew 11:28
Come to Me and I will give you rest

It's the weekend! How do you plan to unwind and refresh yourself?

Jesus' plan for our rest has to do with turning our attention on Him. By focusing our attention on Jesus we will simultaneously take our attention away from ourselves. The more we focus on ourselves the more tired we will feel. However, when we gaze upon Christ Jesus the fatigue subsides.

Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, states it this way:
Ask the Lord to put awareness of Himself in you, and your self-awareness will disappear. Then He will be your all in all.

And that is the only real rest in the world.

Get some rest!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Heart Storage

Heart Storage

Luke 6:45
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

What are we storing in our hearts? Are we gathering in the good stuff, or are we collecting evil? Another way to identify the contents of our heart would be to determine that which occupies the majority of our thinking. The thoughts that capture our attention, you know, the ones we dwell upon, are clues to the nature of our storage.

Luke 12:34
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

If we treasure things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:21-22), then our hearts will overflow with the good stuff when we speak.

Let's take inventory of what we've stored in our hearts.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Faith in Adversity

Faith in Adversity

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear...

What is your "trouble"? No matter what assails you, there is help available. There is a refuge, a safe place, in the storms of life. There is great strength to face the difficulties. All this is available through our faith in God. And, it's available anywhere and anytime.

Troubles are a regular part of life. Trouble affects everyone, both the non-believer and the person of faith. However, with God's help there is no need for fear. With faith in God, we can persevere through the adversities of life without fear.

Place your troubles in the hands of God, and do not be afraid.

God is with us!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Everyone!

Everyone! by Pastor Glenn Brown

Romans 10:13
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

This passage encourages me! It gives me great hope that all I have to do is call on the name of Jesus and I will be saved. There is no question or doubt about it. It is straight forward; definite.

People often ask, "Is there hope for me?"

I love that word "everyone"! Everyone means everyone. So, the answer to the question is an emphatic, yes!

Please consider sending this post to your friends that are asking the question, "Is there hope for me?"

About the Author
Pastor Brown is "in a holding pattern" as he waits upon the Lord. Pastor Glenn has previously served as a church pastor, a chaplain with the Ontario County Sheriff's Department (NY), a funeral home director, and served with me (Lon) in the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps in the late-1970s. Pastor Brown served at Ground Zero as a Chaplain.

You can contact Pastor Brown by email at:

Monday, March 05, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Source of Strength

Source of Strength

1Peter 4:11
If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

This afternoon I returned from investing 26 hours in 27 young people from the Pontiac (IL) area from the First United Methodist and the First Lutheran churches. We traveled to Dickson Valley Camp and Retreat Center for the event. I think I've slept 10 hours in the last 72.

Frankly, I'm exhausted! In my fatigue a question is gnawing at my brain. Did I lean on the strength of God, or did I rely on my own, human power?

Today, let's leave no doubt about it. Let's lean on the almighty strength of God, so we'll know for sure where the glory belongs. It belongs to God!

Praise God!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Three Clues

Three Clues

1Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

If you ever wondered what God's will is for His people, then I'd recommend spending time with this passage of scripture. First of all, this passage is short enough that I think even I could memorize it! Second, it gives us straight forward clues to the way God wants us to live.

1. Be joyful always - not just when we feel good.

2. Pray continually - keep the lines of communication open to God.

3. Give thanks in all circumstances - trust that God's plan will prevail and thank Him for it.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Tired


John 4:6-7
...Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well...a Samaritan woman came to draw water...

We have all journeyed through another long week. Frankly, I'm tired! Jesus was tired from His journey, too. Even so, Jesus ministered to the Samaritan woman and many others from the area.

Many Samaritans came to believe (4:39-41) because Jesus made the extra effort. He saw an opportunity to minister and took advantage of it, even though He was tired.

As this week comes to a close, let's finish strong. Let's look for opportunities to minister to others, even though we are tired.

Finish strong!