Monday, April 30, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Access God's Power - II

Part II - Pray

Acts 9:39-40
Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that [Tabitha] had made while she was still with them. Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.

After clearing the room, Peter "got down on his knees and prayed". This doesn't sound to me like your average run-of-the-mill prayer. You know, the ones that sound like, "Lord, please make these french fries and this double cheeseburger healthy for my body". No, Peter's prayer must have been particularly fervent.

Praying returns us to the right relationship with God. That is, when we bow our heads we return God to the throne of our lives. Simultaneously, we take ourselves off the throne.

Jesus said [John 14:13] “…I will do whatever you ask in my name…”

The second step in accessing the power of God is to pray.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Access God's Power - I

Part I - Clear the Room

Acts 9:39-40
Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that [Tabitha] had made while she was still with them. Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.

This passage of scripture demonstrates a great blueprint for accessing God’s power.

The first thing Peter does is clear the room. He removed the influence of the “weeping widows”. They mourned for the dead and Peter was there to bring her back to life. So he removed them.

The world is full of naysayers. If you've ever tried to do something extraordinary you will not find this too surprising. The surprising aspect of naysayers is that they tend to be people closest to us.

Bruce Wilkinson, in his book The Dream Giver, coined a name for people that stand at the edge of our normal lives and encourage us not to try anything extraordinary. He calls them Border Bullies.

Border Bullies often love us and actually think they’re trying to help by keeping us from harm. Unfortunately, their influence can keep us from doing extraordinary things through God's power.

The first step in accessing God's power is to clear the room.

Show them the door!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Face the Mob

Face the Mob

Acts 14:19-20
There came certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium. They won over the crowds and they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, for they thought he was dead. While the disciples stood in a circle round him he got up and he went into the city; and on the next day with Barnabas he went away to Derbe.

William Barclay wrote:
The outstanding feature of this story is the sheer courage of Paul. When he came to his senses, his first act was to go right back into the city where he had been stoned. It was John Wesley's advice, "Always look a mob in the face." There could be no braver thing than Paul's going straight back amongst those who had tried to murder him. A deed like that would have more effect than a hundred sermons. Men were bound to ask themselves where a man got the courage to act in such a way.

If you're experiencing difficulty, face it. Demonstrate the courage that is found in Jesus the Christ by looking the "mob in the face".

Take courage!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Pray


James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Today, I had breakfast with a good friend, Bill Allison. Bill reminded me of the importance and the power of pray. This is a guy that walks the talk when it comes to prayer. I have the great honor of serving on his prayer team. He sends us emails that explain his current prayer needs and asks us for "RIGHT NOW" prayers.

Although it has been a while since I contacted my personal "Knee-Mail" Team, I can speak with confidence that it is awesome having people from all over the country lifting my prayer concerns to the Lord. It's time I get my Knee-Mail Team up and going agian. If you'd like to pray for me and Acorn Ministries please email me at:

I'd love to be on your Knee-Mail Team. How can I pray for you?

Please send me your prayer requests at:

Pray without ceasing (1Thessalonians 5:17),

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Foot Dipping

Foot Dipping

Joshua 3:15-16
and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water...the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap...

Once the priests' feet dipped into the Jordan God made the waters stop flowing. God required a human act of faith before He acted. I was once told that the Jordan at flood stage contained a lot of fast moving water. The priests were not dipping their toes in some small stream. They were taking a significant "step" into what appeared to be a dangerous river.

God used the faithfulness of the priests to show Israel that He was with Joshua as He had been with Moses. (Joshua 3:7) When we are faithful, God gets the glory!

God calls us into dangerous waters, too. When we faithfully dip our toes in the water, then God does amazing things. Are you standing on the bank of the river waiting for the water to stop? It might be time to take a dip.

Take a dip!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Resolve


Isaiah 50:7
Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.

I don't think anyone wants to be made to look foolish. It seems we take precautions to avoid it. For example, I have chosen not to be a swimsuit model. This decision has saved me a great deal of embarrassment. That is a risk that I should never take.

When we take risks the possibility exists that we may embarrass ourselves. Jesus often leads us into situations that, from our human perspective, look pretty risky. For that matter, they are risky if we have to depend on our own strength and wisdom to accomplish them. But we're not alone...

The truth is when God calls us into action He is our help. With God on our side, we don't have anything to fear. So when God calls us we can act with great resolve knowing that God is on our side.

Listen ~ Resolve ~ Act


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Believe


John 20:27
Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.

Thomas was a seeing-is-believing kind of guy. He wasn't going to believe Jesus had been resurrected until he had proof.

The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once said that not making a decision is itself a decision. Not making a choice is itself a choice. (The Servant, by James Hunter)

We have to choose to believe that Jesus lives without one shred of physical evidence. I guess that's why we call it faith.

Later, Jesus said:

John 20:29b
...blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Choose to believe and be blessed!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Serve one another

Serve One Another

Galatians 5:13 ESV not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

In the game Hacky Sack we used to have a rule of "no self-serving". Someone would self-serve by tossing the Hacky Sack to himself instead of passing it to someone else. We would punish the self-server by pelting the offender in the chest with the Hacky Sack. Oh, the good ol' days!

We constantly face a choice between serving ourselves or serving others. Our culture tells us to serve ourselves. Grab all you can get with both hands. You deserve it. If you don't believe me, then spend some time listening closely to TV or radio advertising.

On the other hand, God calls us to live differently than this world (Romans 12:2). We are to use our freedom to serve others. If we really want to stick out in a crowd, we should serve someone other than ourselves.

Serve one another!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Paradigm Shift

Paradigm Shift

Luke 10:41-42
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Mary wasn't helping and there was much to be done! Martha wanted the Lord to scold Mary into action. Jesus' answer must have come as a big surprise. Martha and Jesus had a different perspective on the moment.

Paradigms are the maps with which we view the world. We construct them over time and use them to navigate the challenges of life on earth. But, our paradigms can be flawed. Just because I adhere to a certain map, doesn't make the map accurate.

The Lord's ways are not the ways of the world, yet most of my maps have been gathered from my experiences in the world. In my Christian walk, my paradigms are regularly confronted by God. When I glimpse the Lord's perspective my maps have to be redrawn, my paradigms shift.

Test your paradigms!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Guest Encourager (4/16)

Guest Encourager: Josh Barnett

James 1:2-3
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance... (NRSV)

A friend once told a story of driving along the interstate when he had a tire go flat. As he pulled over, he was dreading having to get out on the side of this busy highway to change the tire. To add to this situation it was a rainy night. As he squatted soaking wet next to his car attempting to loosen the tight lug nuts my friend reached a breaking point.

I expected him to tell me that he starting swearing or that he got angry and upset. Instead, my friend said that right when he was at the breaking point, he started praying. He prayed out loud, he called out to Jesus; he gave praise to God and called upon the Holy Spirit to empower him through the mess he was in. Right when most of us would have gone ballistic from the frustration, he found joy by going to God.

As you encounter trials of all shapes and sizes this week, consider it joy, give praise to God and embrace that experience as an ultimate faith builder.

Submitted by:
Josh W. Barnett
Communications Coordinator

Calvary United Methodist Church
1700 N. Towanda Avenue
Normal, Illinois 61761

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Fear

Fear, inspired by a message from Pastor Brian Bill

1Samuel 11:17
On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

Goliath put fear in the hearts of the Israelites. No one wanted to face the giant because they feared him. After all, he was huge, mean, and heavily armored. This kind of fear is almost understandable. However, fear can creep in when we least expect it.

After a tremendously successful benefit concert Saturday night, I was overwhelmed by fear. God had blessed our efforts with a night of great music, fellowship, and a wonderful free-will offering. However, I had placed high hopes on the amount of money that the concert would bring to our ministry. When those marks weren't met, fear came creeping in. I began to imagine all sorts of depressing futures, and fear took control.

In one of my favorite sci-fi movies (Dune) there is this great line, "Fear is the mind killer." I'd like to offer a variation on that theme: Fear is the faith killer. When we let fear take control of our thoughts, our faith suffers. Here's a great line from Pastor Bill's message:

Focus on giants – you stumble; Focus on God – your giants tumble.

Pastor Brian Bill is the Directing Pastor at Pontiac Bible Church
To read Pastor Bill's entire message follow this link: Handling Your Fears

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Concentrate on Today

Concentrate on Today

Matthew 6:34 not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

One of my biggest challenges as a Christian is worrying about tomorrow. So why do I worry? I worry because I just don't trust God enough to REALLY let Him have control of all of my life, especially my future. Instead I cling to the lie that somehow I am the master of my own destiny, and can thereby dictate my future, and that worries me!

How insulting that must be to God. Here I am this little mortal worrying about my future, while all the time God is at work preparing it. He is preparing every detail of the future which I will encounter. He is in control.

God is also preparing me. He designs each day specifically to train me for tomorrow. The troubles, the sorrows, the waiting, the joys, and the surprises prepare me for my future. If I spend my energy worrying about tomorrow, I will likely miss the growth opportunities God prepared for me today.

The best way to avoid worrying about tomorrow is to trust tomorrow to God and absolutely invest ourselves in today.

Concentrate on today!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Surprise Visits

Our Lord's Surprise Visits, by Oswald Chambers

Luke 12:40
You also be ready...

A Christian worker's greatest need is a readiness to face Jesus Christ at any and every turn. This is not easy, no matter what our experience has been. This battle is not against sin, difficulties, or circumstances, but against being so absorbed in our service to Jesus Christ that we are not ready to face Jesus Himself at every turn.

Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we least expect Him, and always in the most illogical situations. The only way a servant can remain true to God is to be ready for the Lord's surprise visits. This readiness will not be brought about by service, but through intense spiritual reality, expecting Jesus Christ at every turn. This sense of expectation will give our life the attitude of childlike wonder He wants it to have.

Excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Call to Interact

Call to Interact

1Thessalonians 5:14 NRSV
...we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them.

The world tells us to mind our own business. It tells us to keep our eyes on our own work. Not surprisingly we live in an age experiencing an epidemic of loneliness. Yet, God placed us on this earth surrounded by people. Everywhere you look you will find droves of humans.

Our triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) demonstrates for us the manner in which we are intended to behave toward one another. That behavior is to form community. We're not supposed to ignore the people around us; rather, we're supposed to interact with them. As we admonish, encourage, and help our fellow humans, remain patient with everyone.

Shake things up today: Go out of your way to speak with someone that you normally ignore or avoid.

Happy interacting!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Test Everything

Test Everything

1Thessalonians 5:21-22
Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.

We have to face the fact that there is evil in the world. Yes, there is good stuff, but if we're not very careful we can step in a big ol' pile of evil.

To avoid evil we must be vigilant. We have to concentrate on everything we encounter and determine if it is good or evil. Test everything. When good stuff comes along, grab hold of it with both hands. And if it's bad, take care not to step in it.

Be on your guard.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Acorn Build Up: He is risen!

He is risen!

John 20:1-8 (ESV)
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. The the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed...

We serve a risen and living Lord!

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Labor and Love

Labor and Love

1Thessalonians 3:1
We continually remember before our God and Father...your labor prompted by love...

This is a third and final look at this fascinating passage of scripture. It seems fitting to leave the final thought to the grand pappy of them all - love.

1Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love is a selfless act. It's an action that we undertake for others. Love is nowhere better exemplified than by the labor of Jesus Christ upon the cross.

Let us labor out of love for others.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Work and Faith

Work and Faith - by William Barclay

1Thessalonians 1:3
We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith...

Nothing tells us more about a man than the way in which he works. He may work in fear of the whip; he may work for hope of gain; he may work from a grim sense of duty; or he may work inspired by faith. His faith is that this is his task given him by God and that he is working in the last analysis not for men but for God. Someone has said that the sign of true consecration is when a man can find glory in drudgery.

Excerpt from "The Daily Study Bible", by William Barclay

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Endurance and Hope

Endurance and Hope

1Thessalonians 1:3
We continually remember before our God and Father...your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

When the going gets tough, how do we keep going? How do we travel through the difficult stuff? How do we endure?

If we tie our hopes on Jesus, like our lives depend upon it (which they do), then we will find the strength to endure. Unfortunately, if we tie our hopes to ANYTHING else, we will be disappointed!

Are you going through a rough patch? To endure, wrap your hope as tightly as you can around our Lord Jesus.

If you know of a friend who is going through tough stuff, now may be the time to give them a lesson in knot tying. During times of deep difficulty, our friends may be more willing to consider tying on to Someone different. Be gentle, wise, and loving as you help them strap their hopes on the Lord.

Keep tied in!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Travel Light

Travel Light

Luke 9:2-3
...[Jesus] sent [the Twelve] out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: "Take nothing for the journey - - no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.

I love backpacking. I particularly enjoy the packing phase for the journey. I plan out every tiny detail of the contents of my backpack. I take so much stuff! My thinking is that I want to be prepared for any and all emergencies.

Jesus sends out His disciples with next to nothing. As a backpacker I would have wondered how, then, are we to survive the emergencies and adventures associated with travel on foot? I'm surprised none of the disciples asked this question. Instead we read that Jesus told the disciples what to do, and they did it.

As we follow God today, let us ask Him what He wants us to do and let's leave the how up to Him.

Happy hiking!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Shake the Dust

Shake the Dust

Matthew 10:14
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.

Sometimes in life we encounter people that just plain don't accept us. Try as we might, they don't understand our good intentions. They misunderstand our efforts and refuse to welcome us or listen to us. Jesus taught His disciples to clean off their feet of the dust of that town and move on.

Jesus wants us to make the good effort to encourage and build people up. However, if they don't accept our effort, then we're to make a clean break and move on. For me this is a toughie. I am troubled when people don't accept me. But, it's not my job to make them welcome me or listen to me. That is between them and God.

Sent out like you.