Thursday, May 31, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Purpose


Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails

What is my purpose in life? This question haunted my thoughts for most of the first 30+ years of my life. And O the plans I've had! There have been hundreds of inventions that would bring wealth to my door. There have been dozens of jobs that would lead to happiness. There have been thousands of ideas hatched, countless books read, classes passed, and conferences attended. All with the expectation that each would bring wealth into my life.

I'm beginning to wonder if life is not so much about striking it rich as it is about living richly. Rich living seems to center around doing life God's way. God's purpose is to change me so I can become the man He intended me to be. Then, as I grow, God wants to use me to change the world around me.

Despite all the paths I've taken, God seems to bring me back to His purpose of making change in and through me.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Unstoppable


Acts 5:38-39
Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

Gamaliel argues on behalf of Peter and the other apostles. His argument is that previous upstarts have wound up dead, so he suggests letting these guys go and wait to see what happens. After all, if they are really from God, then nothing can stop them.

Is our purpose and activity from human origin or from God? If our purpose is of human origin, it is likely to end in failure. In other words, the expected outcome for serving our own selfish desires is failure.

On the other hand, if we are living and acting in concert with God and for His purposes, then there is nothing that can keep us from succeeding. Nothing!

Make God's purpose your purpose.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Guest Encourager: Rachel Smith "Lifted"

Lifted, by Rachel Smith

Psalm 40:2
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

I saw Shrek the Third with my kids this past week. During most of this movie the 40th Psalm reverberated in my head. It probably has something to do with the fact that the main character, Shrek, is an ogre and chooses to live in a swamp.

That’s what I picture when I read this Psalm, the slimy, nasty, stinky pit of a swamp. There are days that this Psalm describes my mental state of being. I am stuck in thick heavy mud. I wallow in the stench and refuse to get up and move on.

But- HE- lifts me up out of the slimy pit.

Not only will God find me in my mud and mire, but His desire is to lift me out of it. I am amazed that not only will He save me forever, but also every day. He puts my feet on a rock where I can safely stand. The creator and perfector of the universe cares enough about you and I to lift us out of our slimy pits when we don’t know how to do it ourselves.

But wait, there’s more. He then gives us a firm place to stand.

Are you in the pit with Shrek or on the rock of Christ?

May He lift you today!

Rachel is an old and dear friend. She is a wife and mother of two boys. She works at Western Illinois University and lives in Macomb Illinois where we originally began our friendship.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Remember


Mark 8:18
Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember?

Memorial Day in the United States is a time for reflection. We think about things like heroism and patriotism. We remember valiant things from yesterdays gone by. We think about the sacrifices made on our behalf. We think about the amazing things people have done.

Jesus must have been shaking His head when He posed these questions to the disciples. They had seen Jesus perform miracles. Now, as they face a new challenge, suddenly they have amnesia.

I have seen God perform miracles over and over in my life, but how quickly I forget them when a new challenge looms before me. Jesus is still working miracles today. I see them. I hear them. And I forget them.

Please take a moment to reflect on the miracles God has performed in your life.

Remember them!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Grace Enters

Grace Enters

John 1:17
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

The rules and ordinances of the law of Moses serve to convict us of our sinful nature. No matter how hard we try we just simply cannot live up to them. Our awareness of our sin and our inability to redeem ourselves points the way to the need for a savior.

Grace came through Jesus. Our Savior brought with Him all the grace needed to redeem us. Jesus said, "My grace is sufficient for you..." (2Corinthians12:9)

Praise God for His mercy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Acorn Build Up: I Know

I Know

Psalm 51:1-3
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

This is a Psalm that I can pray with great sincerity! I know my propensity for selfishness. I know the unclean thoughts that invade my mind. I know my impatience with which I "wait" upon the Lord. I know my capacity for judging others. And the list goes on...

It is my awareness of my sinful nature that drove me to the cross. My sin caused a gap between God and me, and there is nothing I can do to bridge that gap. It is only through God's grace that I can be cleansed. And that grace was purchased on my behalf by Jesus upon the cross.

I need the Lord, because I know...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Suffering


1Peter 4:19
So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

We live in a world full of suffering people. For that matter, there aren't too many of us that live without suffering. Some suffer in big ways others with less drama, but we all have our seasons and episodes of suffering.

When we find ourselves in one of those seasons, we are taught to "commit" ourselves to God. We have the option to say, "OK Lord, if this is Your will, then I trust you." God is faithful and thereby our trust in Him is not misplaced. Put in the positive, trust in the Lord for He is worthy of our trust.

It's the last phrase of this passage that really caught my attention; "and continue to do good"

When I suffer, all my thoughts turn inward. Doing good for others is not on my radar. After all, I'm hurting! But God calls us to a different standard. Yes, I am suffering, but that may be the very platform from which to do some very visible good. Imagine the impact of trusting God and doing good despite our suffering.

Let's do some good!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Power of Life and Death

Power of Life and Death

The tongue has the power of life and death...

I can't count the number of times I've had ideas shot down by the power of another person's comment. Sarcasm, criticism, and plain-old meanness run rampant in our culture. Clearly, the tongue can be a weapon of great destruction

I'm guilty of killing things with my tongue, too. For example, my eight year-old daughter, Kassidy, has a very unique style of dressing herself. I regularly attack her creativity with my words.

On the other hand, a well placed word can bring forth life.

Today, I received an email from my friend Terry. His simple 26-word message was sent to encourage me to continue publishing these Daily Build Ups. His message was perfectly timed, because I read it as I was sitting down at the computer to create this post. Frankly, I was not looking forward to this project at the end of a very long day. Terry's words put life back into the project and gave me a good theme, too! Thanks, Terry!

Mind your words!

If you have a suggestion for a Daily Build Up topic, please send them to me at:

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Guest Encourager: Rachel Smith


Psalm 33
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

Each and every day is made up of literally thousands of decisions; most of them appear small and insignificant. Each of our days knit together to make a week and then a month and a year and so on and on. In the course of a year the millions of decisions made appear so small they often go unnoticed.

What gym I choose and yes even what coffee shop I go to everyday has significance. Who I say ‘hi’ to with a smile and who I walk by. That one smile to that stranger could be the only thread they had left to hang on to. That one chance meeting at the grocery store could lead to a renewed friendship. The impact of it all is seemingly insignificant but all together huge. The reality is life is made up of a series of seemingly insignificant decisions.

The underlying pulse of these decisions reflects our values. What do your decisions say about you? Do your actions compliment your beliefs? Do they contradict? If I profess that family is important yet never seem to have time for those people who live in my house my decisions are not congruent with my belief system. Do my decisions honor God or get in His way?

If we trust God with the big decisions, how much more we should trust Him with the seemingly insignificant

Today choose, but choose wisely.
Rachel Smith

Rachel is an old and dear friend. She is a wife and mother of two boys. She works at Western Illinois University and lives in Macomb Illinois where we originally began our friendship.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Love = Action

Love = Action

1John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

When we talk about "love" most of us think about emotions or feelings. This passage from 1John seems to point to a different use of the word. Here love is presented as something to be acted out in truth.

If love is an emotion or feeling, then I find Jesus' command to "...Love your enemies..." (Matthew 5:44) a huge challenge! Until only recently I've struggled with that passage. How could I possibly feel all warm and fuzzy about the guy that just cut me off in traffic? Now I understand that Jesus is telling me to behave toward my enemy in a way that demonstrates love. In the case of the bad driver, I could slow down and make some room for him.

Love your enemy!

If you have a suggestion for a Daily Build Up topic, please send them to me at:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Word Usage

Word Usage

Ephesians 4:29 NRSV
Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

The purpose of the Daily Build Up is to use scripture and a handful of additional words to build people up. I hear with increasing frequency that we are succeeding in that purpose. I praise God for the way He is moving in this ministry!

Barb recently wrote:
I just want to mention again how wonderful your Daily Build Ups are…you have been right on target for us, especially [my daughter]. She signed up to have them sent to her and she forwards them to one of her friends. You are doing wonderful work and touching hearts you don’t even know in a very profound way.

The phrase "as there is need" struck me in the Ephesians passage (above). I would love to hear from you when you are "in need". Let me know the nature of your struggle. I'll keep the details confidential, but my hope is that I could locate a passage of scripture to use that would build you up as there is need.

Build others up today!

If you have a suggestion for a Daily Build Up topic, please send them to me at:

Monday, May 14, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Mark's Two Cents

Greetings! I hope you're not growing too weary of this passage. I needed to share it again because of a comment made by a friend of mine. My friend, I'll call him Mark (because that's his name) suggested an additional thought about why Peter cleared the room. You can access the original post by clicking on: Clear the Room

Mark's Two Cents

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.

Mark reminded me that Peter cleared everyone from the room. "Everyone" would include the weeping widows, but also the disciples. Mark suggests that Peter removed the disciples from the room because they may have put too much hope in Peter himself.

I can imagine the disciples cheering Peter on by shouting, "Come on Peter you can do it!" or "Peter, you're the man!"

According to Mark, these well intentioned disciples may have been distracting Peter by focusing on Peter the man instead of God. Sometimes we need to clear the room of our champions because they cause us to take our focus off of God.

Thanks, Mark!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Happy 150th!

Celebrating 150 Build Ups!

Since October 2006, I have had the pleasure of posting 150 of these Daily Build Ups! Praise God for allowing me to reach this milestone! To celebrate, I've decided to re-post one of the very first Build Ups which was originally posted on October 16, 2006.


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 God's perfect provision. Can it get any better than that?

Be content!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Sloth and T.D.

Sloth and T.D.

Hebrews 6:12
We do not want you to become lazy...

You may have noticed that there hasn't been a new post on this blog for a couple of days. There are two reasons: T.D. and laziness.

First, the service I use to "feed" these posts to our subscribers has had serious technical difficulty (T.D) since Tuesday. The result is that the Build Up that I posted on Monday still hasn't been sent out to the subscribers. Here's the link to that post: The "Not Yet" Answer

Second, since the subscribers were not receiving the Build Up due to the T.D., I got lazy. It happened so easily and so subtly. For the first time since October I "skipped" a couple of days of writing.

I wonder if that isn't what happens with people in other activities. I wonder if one day we skip doing what we know we should be doing. The next thing we know it has been months. Particularly, I wonder if this happens with people of faith. We skip a prayer, a worship service, a day of reading scripture, or a team meeting. The next thing we know it has been months...

Be diligent!

Acorn Build Up: The "Not Yet" Answer

The "Not Yet" Answer

Psalm 37:7-9
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
Do not fret - it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

The "no" and "not yet" answers are sometimes difficult to differentiate. For example, applying for a job that someone else gets is probably a "no"; however, it may be that a similar job is waiting for us down the road, just "not yet". Our response to either answer must be patience.

I am extremely familiar with the "not yet" answer from God. I wish I could report that I respond to "not yet" with patience and hope in the Lord. The truth is that I'm not very patient. I want the doors of my choosing open now.

However, I am learning to trust the Lord. The deeper my trust grows the more natural waiting becomes. My fretting and anger are beginning to give way to hope and patience.

Wait patiently,

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Acorn Build Up: The "NO" Answer

The "NO" Answer

Acts 16:6-7
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.

I've heard it said that God answers all our prayers with "yes", "no", or "not yet". Paul ran into a series of "no" answers. He wanted to preach in these areas and God said no. We may never know why God says no, but we must learn to trust that a closed door is according to God's plan.

If Paul had gone through one of these closed doors, then he would likely not have had the opportunity to share his message with Lydia (Acts 16:14-15). Without hearing Paul's message, Lydia and her household would not have become believers. God had a good plan!

Beyond trusting in God's plan, we must also keep in mind that a closed door suggests a different path, not the end of our journey. In other words, when God says no we must turn and find another door to try. As the old saying goes, when God closes a door He opens a window.

Try the window!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Humility


1Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

When I served in the United States Marine Corps I bought a bumper sticker that read:

It's hard to be humble when you know you're the best!

In many ways that swagger lingers in me to this day. Today the bumper sticker would read:

It's hard to be humble when I know what's best!

I tell God almost every day how wrong He is in placing me where I am. I tell Him how bad He's made my circumstances. I tell Him how much more I could do for Him. I tell God how He's not providing enough. I tell my Lord everyday how impatient I am with His use of me. I tell God how I know best!

Humility is respecting God's plan and the timing of it. Humility is relaxing in His amazing arms. Humility is trusting that God does care about me and that that is enough. Humility is a path to peace.

In due time,

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Postscript on Prayer

Postscript on Prayer

James 1:6-7
…when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord…

In the Access God's Power series (
clear the room, pray, action) I pointed to prayer as a significant part of the process. To this I want to add a postscript.

Our prayer must be without doubt. This passage of James teaches us that we must believe that God can do what we ask of Him. If I pray without confidence that God has the capacity to satisfy my request, then I shouldn't expect to receive what I've prayed for.

To access God's power we must believe that God can answer our prayer.

Pray with confidence,

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Acorn Build Up: Access God's Power - III

Part III - Action

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.

clearing the room and praying, Peter took a third step in the process of accessing God's power. Peter went into action. Peter called out to Tabitha and told her to get up. Then God's power arrived as Tabitha was brought back to life!

There seems to be a pattern in the way God works. It appears that He often waits for action on our part before dispensing His power.

My favorite example of this is when God instructed Joshua to send the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant ahead of the people as they crossed the Jordan River. The river continued to flow until the priests dipped their feet in the water. Then God piled up the water and the people crossed safe and dry. God's power arrived only after the priests stepped faithfully into the water.

Take a step!