Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Son Tanned, By Lon Alderman

During the pursuit of my bachelors degree (which took seven years and five schools) I recall noticing certain people as we returned from Christmas breaks. I could clearly see from their freshly tanned faces that they had spent their break somewhere warm. They stuck out in the crowd because the winter weather had caused most of the rest of us to become pretty pasty!

I deduced from their tans that they had the necessary wealth to spend their break in a warm and exotic location. I remember thinking, "Wouldn't it be great to have enough money to spend my vacations on the beach?" I wanted to be like them; to have what they had!

We make assumptions about people by the way they look. What are we telling people about Jesus by the way we look?

The town I live in is currently in turmoil as the local state prison is slated to close. As I scan the crowd I see here and there a face that sticks out. These faces aren't panicked. They aren't downcast and gloomy. Instead, I see in their faces a peace and confidence that is remarkable.

One shining example is my friend Troy. He works at the prison and will be directly affected by this closure. However, his response to this circumstance is strikingly different than the crowd. Troy's response, "God is in this situation, so He will get me through it."

That's what I call Son-tanned! I want to be like him, and have what he has!

Thanks, Troy!

Matthew 5:15-16
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Anniversary Post, by Lon Alderman

I began this blog in October 2006. During these two years I've posted 300 messages! In that time we have encouraged people from more than 25 foreign countries! It has been a great and blessed journey! I want to thank all of you who have contributed, including the following guest contributors: Rachel Smith, Jarvis, and Sandy Egle.

To celebrate our two year anniversary, I decided to re-post the very first Build UP (below). Please be encouraged!
- Lon

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!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ministry and Numbers, by Lon Alderman

Mark 4:14-20
The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.

The world teaches us to measure our success. Efforts that demonstrate an increase in numerical strength are deemed worthy/successful. Declining numbers are viewed as failure. Somehow this mentality has slithered into the church. Those churches that are growing are viewed as good ministries. All the rest are bad ministries.

When I read this passage from Mark I get the impression that the sower is not evaluated as good or bad based on the success of the seed. Yes, some of those seeds produce, but some also die. Regardless of the production, or lack there of, the sower is not seen as having succeeded or failed. His job appears to be sowing, not productivity.

I understand that there really are unhealthy churches, but to determine health based on numbers alone is misguided.

Oswald Chambers spells it out this way: I cannot save and sanctify myself; I cannot make atonement for sin; I cannot redeem the world; I cannot right what is wrong, purify what is impure, or make holy what is unholy. That is all the sovereign work of God.

Let's count less and throw more seed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Distracted-Again, by Lon Alderman

Luke 10:41-42
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"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."

As I'm sure you've noticed I have not been posting to this blog much. I've been distracted with a project that has exacted a great deal of time. I'm in the process of developing a "page" on facebook where I can post information about Acorn Ministries.

My thought has been that if I get this page up and running then more people will hear about and come to understand my ministry. In the process, I got distracted from the ministry of encouraging people through the Build UP!

This happens spiritually, too! We get all balled up in serving God and forget to relate to Him. We get entangled in the issues within the church and forget to be the church. We get distracted with trying to preserve the church and forget the God it serves.

Stay focused!

By the way, you can check out my work on facebook by clicking on this link: Acorn on facebook

Monday, October 13, 2008

What's your attitude?, by Rachel Smith

Today a friend of mine called to get a jump for her van that decided to stop working. I must admit I always find these random events intriguing. I think about God and often wonder what He has planned with this one. So I got into my van and headed to the local Dairy Queen to help her out.

Now I have to say, if you are going to get stranded Dairy Queen is a great place to do it. I pulled in and from the angle I was noticed I would have to wait for a car to move to get to my friends van. So I waited. And in this very ordinary, very boring everyday occurrence God moved. Right there in the Dairy Queen parking lot. Right in plain sight. Well, plain to anyone looking for God.

I waited for this car to back out and noticed the two people in it bickering.
They grumped and grumbled. I couldn't really tell what was being said, but I know angry when I see it. Then I realized it was me they were mad at. They gestured my way and grumped some more. I smiled.

The car had plenty of room to back out and I was in no hurry (my friend certainly wasn't going anywhere) but these two women were not happy. That's when the irony hit me.

Really shouldn't my friend be grumpy? After all her van broke down! Or me- I was inconvenienced by a needy friend. But nope, the ice cream women were not happy over having to move. I grinned as I saw their WWJD bumper sticker pull out of the parking lot.

Philippians 2:5
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

How will we respond?, by Donnie Case

Matthew 6:19-24

These indeed are troubling times for our country. We find ourselves in the middle of a Presidential election year, a time when campaigners are eager to promote themselves and their agendas above the needs of the people they are called to serve.

As Americans we have definitely encountered times like these in the past and will more than likely encounter them in the future.

As Christians, however, God has assured us that this life is not the most important, but that there is a life to come that matters so much more. Though in times when gas is sky rocketing and grocery bills make it seem as though it is impossible to feed a family of four, we, Christ-followers are to remain faithful and put our hope and trust in God alone.

These are times to truly examine the really important things in life. It appears that our insatiable appetite for materialism has finally consumed us as the main course and the country’s that we have been offering aid to will more than likely be the dessert.

What shall we do? Pray! Prayer is what God desires of his children. Lean not on our own understanding but on the understanding of God who is the giver and sustainer of life.

God’s people have been through hardships much worse than the one we find ourselves in today and how we respond to this “crisis” situation could be an opportunity to either affirm the Christ-followers believe in the Word of God or give ammunition to those who do not consider God the creator, sustainer, and sovereign ruler of the universe.

How will we respond? Please pray and continue to pray.