Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Heart Starter #3: Tower

Recently, I introduced a tool called "Heart Starters" to use at the beginning of church meetings, youth group, retreats, small group or anywhere else you want to focus a group on God. As I argued in the initial post (Introducing "Heart Starters") I believe that when the church gathers for a meeting it ought to look different than the secular meetings we attend. With this in mind I started creating Heart Starters.

Today I am excited to post a third Heart Starter titled "Towers"! This activity will guide your group into a discussion about the need for cooperation between the parts of the body of Christ. Click on this link for a one page PDF that describes the entire activity.

Heart Starter #3: Tower

Please let me know if you have any questions. Also, I'd love to hear (and share) how people are using these. And, if you have an idea for a Heart Starter, please let me know so we can share it with everyone!


For a complete list of Heart Starters, click on the Heart Starters label below.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Now what?

Last month was Pastor Appreciation Month and people all over the country celebrated their pastors! It was an awesome month for me for two reasons. First, as a part-time pastor myself I felt a great surge of appreciation from the people I serve. Second, as a person devoted to encouraging and equipping pastors, it was great having other people joining me in this work for the whole month!

The cards have been read and the gifts have been received.

Now what?

I can't get this article out of my mind:

Suicide: When Pastor's Silent Suffering Turns Tragic

In my work I interact with many pastors that are suffering silently. The expectations placed upon their work are, in a word, unattainable! Few if any are fully equipped for the tremendous breadth of professional skills and spiritual gifts needed for the job! This reality is exacerbated by the fact that most hurting pastors feel they can't ask for help and resign themselves to keeping silent!

The result is beat up, stressed out, and frustrated pastors. Seems to be a far cry from this scriptural directive:

1Timothy 5:17
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

I love Pastor Appreciation Month, AND there must be more we can do!
I'd love to hear your thoughts! And, I'll start rolling out some of my own as well.

What can we do to change the cultures, systems, and habits that produce these outcomes?

Now what?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Creative Cooking in the Church

As I travel from church to church, I hear a common lament. The details are different but the refrain is the same.

"If only..."

Sometimes the phrase culminates with longings for a younger congregation. Other times it concludes with musings of a different style of worship. Other times it ends with harsh judgments of the people that aren't participating in their church. Still others grieve the loss of generations of their own that have left for greener pastures.

"If only..."

But what if we took the creative cooking thoughts expressed in an earlier blog (Creating a Masterpiece) and applied them to the plight of the church? What if the local church looked around the "kitchen" and made a masterpiece out of what they found?

God has, in His almighty providence, allowed each church to remain open. Therefore, it seems clear that for each church God has a kingdom purpose in mind. And, with God's help the church has within itself all it needs to complete that task.

However, success requires a fresh assessment of the church's current reality! The church must remove its fixation from what is missing and begin to number its assets. These assets are the ingredients of a masterpiece! Then, the church must take these God-given ingredients and get cooking!

A creative masterpiece is waiting! A masterpiece that will bring wonderful glory to God.

Let's get cooking!

2Corinthians 12:9-10
But [Lord] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Heart Starter #2: Treasure

A couple of days ago I introduced a tool called "Heart Starters" to use at the beginning of church meetings, youth group, retreats, small group or anywhere else you want to focus a group on God. As I argued in the initial post (Introducing "Heart Starters") I believe that when the church gathers for a meeting it ought to look different than the secular meetings we attend. With this in mind I started creating Heart Starters.

Today I am excited to post a second Heart Starter titled "Treasure"! This activity will guide your group into a discussion of what is God's treasure and what is not. Click on this link for a one page PDF that describes the entire activity.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Also, I'd love to hear (and share) how people are using these. And, if you have an idea for a Heart Starter, please let me know so we can share it with everyone!


For a complete list of Heart Starters, click on the Heart Starters label below.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Creating a Masterpiece

Here's another odd part of my personality. When I have sufficient time, I really enjoy creating meals out of whatever I can find in the kitchen. I enjoy the creative process of taking what is there and making it into something edible. I jokingly refer to these concoctions as masterpieces!

The goal of my creative endeavor is to make something to eat. The challenge is to make something edible out of the ingredients available to me in the house at that time. This isn't about running to the store for groceries or planning the menu in advance. It's simply using what is available to accomplish the goal.

What if we applied this to our walk as followers of Jesus?

Jesus said, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:8)

If we are disciples of Jesus, then we will "bear much fruit" for the purpose of God receiving glory. In other words, the goal of our discipleship is to glorify the name of God, the Father, through the "fruit we bear" in Christ.

What then are the
ingredients for achieving this goal? I propose that we creatively use whatever we find in the "kitchen".

Paul wrote, "...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Philippians 4:11)

The ingredients for the masterpieces we are creating are found in every circumstance, person, difficulty, and joy that we face today. Our masterpiece depends upon our willingness to take what we find and do something creatively with it with the goal of bringing God glory!

This isn't about wishing things were different. Rather, it's about taking what God places in our path and creating a masterpiece for His glory!

Get creative!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Introducing "Heart Starters"

I attend a LOT of meetings! And, a LOT of the meetings I attend are church meetings! I struggle with the fact that church meetings don't look much different than the secular meetings I attend.

Wouldn't it be great
if we could engage in an activity that would change the tone of the meeting? And, wouldn't it be great if these activities focused the meeting on God? And wouldn't it be great if along the way the participants grew together as people, parts of the body of Christ?

I answered "yes" to all three and began developing "Heart Starters: Defibrillation for the Heart of Christian Meetings". Heart Starters are simple activities designed to change the look of our church meetings! And [drum roll please] it is FREE!

Here's the first one:

Please let me know if you have any questions.

If you like these, please let me know and I'll share more of them!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why We Must Study

Imagine a child that quits school after completing eighth grade. Wouldn't we feel sorry for the kid? Wouldn't we be deeply concerned about how he will make it in this world with such a limited education.

Funny isn't it? Funny - in the sad ironic use of the word - that we don't think much at all about a child that stops learning about our faith at about that age. We do little beyond wringing our hands about the fact that most kids stop attending Bible study of any kind around eighth grade.

This past weekend I had, yet another, paradigm shift in my theology. I had previously held an understanding related to my faith as sacrosanct. That all changed when I participated in a relatively short and simple Bible study on the subject.

Now my understanding of God is expanded! Now my faith is deeper! Now my life is healthier! Now my walk as a man of Jesus is stronger!

There is so much to learn! How can we quit our faith education at such a tender young age? How can we stop studying?

2Timothy 3:16-17
Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

Please pick up your Bible and start reading it today! Then join a small group or a Bible study!

We must study so we can be trained for our work in God's kingdom.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Pastor Appreciation Month

I just read Robb McCoy's blog about Pastor Appreciation Month. Robb made a list of the pastors that have influenced his life (Robb's post) and I'm inspired to do the same thing!

My list will include both traditional pastors (those that had a pastoral responsibility for me) and non-traditional "pastors" that also influenced me. I will approach this chronologically.

David Bultemeier led my confirmation class. I remember his gentle spirit and his intelligent sermons. I also remember he and Joanne (his wife), my parents, and another couple (The Dillows) laughing hysterically in our dining room. He taught me that a pastor is a regular person with a sense of humor and everything! We're still in touch after almost 40 years!

Dan Moran for patiently guiding me to a relationship with Jesus during the summer of 1986 at YMCA Camp High Harbour (GA). Dan was involved with InterVarsity and working as the water front director that summer. I wish I knew where he ended up.

Dr. Mike McGowan taught me at Western Illinois University. I know that doesn't make him a pastor, but I credit Mike for putting the first intellectual legs on my faith.

Lori Bultemeier is a friend from high school who is an ordained deacon in our conference. I deeply appreciate her friendship and encouragement, because she knows where I've been and how far I've come!

Mark Caldwell is the director of Dickson Valley Camp and Retreat Center (Newark, IL). He is a tremendous influence on my faith walk.

Jason Woolever nursed me back to spiritual health after serving 6.5 years in our conference camp and retreat ministries program. He's incredibly well read and keeps my "books to read" list full! In addition, Jason asks me the toughest questions about my faith walk. Iron does sharpen iron!

Keith Zimmerman is my District Superintendent. He's a tremendous encourager and is responsible for my current appointment, which is going great! He also teaches me regularly that administrators can continue to be pastoral, encouraging, and competent!

Grant Armstrong is the associate pastor at my home church. He has taught me that "excellence" doesn't have to be a dirty word in the Church.

This list could go on and on...but I'll stop (for now).

Please take a few minutes to write your list. More importantly, please tell your "pastors" about the difference they have made in your life.

1Thessalonians 5:12-13 (The Message)
And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pancake Recipe - just for fun!

I participated in a 46-hour retreat on September 17-19 with two great friends. Our purpose was to discern God's will for the future of Acorn Ministries ( It was an awesome experience!

We ate well during the retreat, too! I've had a request for my family's pancake recipe and thought it'd be fun to share it here:

Grampa's Pancake Recipe

* Note: makes "thin and rubbery" pancakes

Dry ingredients

1 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients
1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup milk

1 egg

2 tablespoon sugar (I realize it's a dry ingredient, but this is where you mix it)

1 tablespoon melted butter (or vegetable oil)

- mix "dry" and "wet" ingredients separately

- then mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients
- heat griddle until a sprinkle of water "dances" on the surface

- place desired amount of batter on griddle and gently swirl each pancake with laddle
- flip when bubbles start to form
- when cooked, place pancakes on a plate and cover with a bowl to maintain heat/moisture


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ask, and You Will Receive

A strange pairing of the kid's show "Handy Manny" and an Oswald Chambers piece inspired this post.

While waking my children this morning a scene from "Handy Manny" caught my eye. Mr. Lopart had (once again) gotten himself in trouble. You see, he never asks for, or accepts, help from others. This causes him to get in lots of trouble. Today he had gotten his arm stuck in a door he'd installed for his cat.

Oswald Chambers teaches that the purpose of prayer is to allow Christ to grow in us. The more we look to Jesus for help, the more Christ grows in us. When we try to do life on our own, we stifle Christ's growth in us.

God wants to be a part of every aspect of our life. It follows that He wants to support us in our difficulties, too! Don't be a Mr. Lopart! Turn over to Jesus all your troubles and God will engage in them. In the meantime, our willingness to seek Christ's help will allow Jesus to grow in us.

"Ask, and you will receive..." John 16:24

Don't be a Mr. Lopart!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Encouragement to Ask, by Grant Armstrong

I received this post as a comment on my earlier post about fundraising for ministry, called "To Ask, Or Not". It is so encouraging I thought I should share it as today's blog. Thanks, Grant!

1 Corinthians 9:3-14
It seems fairly clear. "In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel."

I also notice that in James 4:2 it says, "You do not have because you do not ask God." In Matthew 5:32 Christ says the omniscient Father knows we need those things, and we are still called to ask Him.

I suppose it's similar to the reason we are called to invite people into the kingdom of God according to Romans 10:14-15. How can people respond unless they are informed? Could it be that the Gospel that turns miserly hearts into generous hearts is by nature relational and invitational - like our Triune God? Could it be that inviting people into a relationship with Jesus Christ AND joyful giving for the sake of His kingdom are part and parcel of the Christian calling?

God uses us, earthen vessels though we may be, as instruments of His priceless grace so that He might be glorified. Perhaps God can do everything without our participation. A sovereign God can. In God's grace, we are invited to participate in God's works.

I also found this interesting:

This source runs across similar challenges, but lists several examples of people raising funds for God's glory. Typically those funds are used for something like the temple. In your case, Lon, it allows you to build up leaders...people...temples of the Holy that God's redeeming work in this world might multiply. Scripture doesn't say whether the temple or God's people are more valuable to Him, but I know for which of the two Christ offered His very life.

Thanks for building up the Body of Christ, Lon.

Your brother in Christ,

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages.
- 1 Timothy 5:17-18

Friday, August 28, 2009

To Ask, Or Not

I have just completed a very challenging two-month journey. The quest of my journey was to answer this question:

Is it appropriate to ask people to support my family and me as I do God’s work as a missionary?

I have heard MANY opinions. The loudest, and frankly, the harshest, opinions came from people with this view: “If I’m doing God’s work, then God will provide the resources to get it done.”

To this point, I agree with them, but our thoughts quickly diverge on their next statement. They say, “It is wrong to ask people to support ministry, because it isn’t found anywhere in the New Testament.”

This makes sense at first blush. I can’t find a single place where someone raises funds for themselves. It just isn’t there! As someone that has been asking people to support his ministry for almost seven years, this fact really rattled my cage!

However, today I received a great word of encouragement from God through a colleague I’ve met through twitter:

Pastor Martha Spigener (@butterflybeacon) wrote:
Our culture here in America is not the culture of the Bible…the culture of the Bible was one in which it was expected, let me say that again, expected, that the people would pay to support their priests and Rabbis. Just look at the sacrificial laws and what was for the priest and what was actually burned. It isn’t written in the New Testament because it was an expected norm. Our society does not exist with those expectations.

In other words, we don’t hear Jesus asking people to support Him because it was unnecessary to do so. People were already expected to support people in ministry (see Luke 8:1-3). People during Christ’s ministry understood that it was their responsibility to support people in ministry. Jesus didn’t have to ask!

Yes, God will provide what is needed for His work. The culture in which we live does not understand its responsibility to care for those in ministry. Therefore, we must ask people to support us as we devote our lives to the ministry God has called us to.

In my case, I encourage and equip church leaders. My services are desperately needed, but church leaders don’t have resources to “pay” for my services. Only through God’s sustaining blessings will I be able to continue to “build up the body of Christ, the Church, one leader at a time”. And the way God provides is through donations from God’s people. And for those donations to happen in this culture I will have to ask!

In Christ,

If you would like to support Acorn Ministries, please send your tax deductible donations to:

Acorn Ministries/H2H
101 West 2nd Street
PO Box 237
Flanagan, IL 61740

OR, you can use your credit card or paypal account by clicking the following link: Donate

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Myth of Impact

This post is ripe for push back; however, if my premise is sound, then I don't expect any!

I struggle (regularly) with the tension between following Jesus and the felt need to measure the impact of my ministry. As a missionary, this "need" rises from the desire to encourage my supporters with inspiring demonstrations of impact. People want to know that their "investment" in my work is "profitable".

Frankly, I am making all the impact I am capable of. God uses me at His discretion. Some followers of Jesus are used for making an impact on a large amount of people. Others are used to make a large impact on just a few people. Honestly, I think the latter is more scriptural; however, the world leans toward the former. Our culture values the broader, arguably less deep, impact on more people, because, frankly, it is more financially profitable!

Romans 12:2
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.

Oswald Chambers writes...
We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him. Discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief or doctrine. "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate . . . , he cannot be My disciple" ( Luke 14:26 ). In this verse, there is no argument and no pressure from Jesus to follow Him; He is simply saying, in effect, "If you want to be My disciple, you must be devoted solely to Me...

People do not really want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is deeply offensive to the educated minds of today, to those who only want Him to be their Friend, and who are unwilling to accept Him in any other way. Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people— the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. If I am devoted solely to the cause of humanity, I will soon be exhausted and come to the point where my love will waver and stumble. But if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity, even though people may treat me like a "doormat." The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of that life is its seeming insignificance and its meekness. Yet it is like a grain of wheat that "falls into the ground and dies"— it will spring up and change the entire landscape ( John 12:24 ).

Want impact? Devote yourself to Jesus!
Lon Alderman
@leaderlifter (twitter)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Give what you can!

I know this title sounds like a fund raising plea, but that's not the direction I'm heading with this post. Rather, I'm looking at the question, "What can we give to God?"

In Getting There, Oswald Chambers writes: We have the idea that we can dedicate our gifts to God. However, you cannot dedicate what is not yours.

In other words, if God is the "owner" of the gifts He gave us, then how can we "give" them back? How can we give what is not ours to give?

Chambers continues: There is actually only one thing you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself.

Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Finally from Chambers: If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you— and His experiments always succeed.

Give what you can and watch God succeed!

Lon Alderman
Follow me on twitter: @leaderlifter

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dancing in the Church, by Lon Alderman

First, thank you to Bill Allison at Cadre Ministries for turning me on to this video! You can see Bill's take on this video at his blog, Cup O' Joe with Bill. Thank you, Bill!

This is an awesome example of contagious behavior! The man's dance is contagious, not pretty, just contagious! He doesn't invite or coerce anyone to join him, he just dances! People join him because it looks like something they want to be a part of. Frankly, it looks fun!!

I look around the Church and, generally speaking, I don't see much dancing. I don't see much uninhibited praising of the Lord. I don't see much that I want to join!

We tell people to join us in the Church because they will find joy in God, but we don't dance ourselves! We sit around playing the music and expect people to show up and dance to the music...

Luke 7:31-32 Jesus said,
"To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
" 'We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance...' "

But, what if we danced?

Lon Alderman
Over 350 additional posts at: Daily Build UP

Monday, June 15, 2009

Around the Corner, by Lon Alderman

This is another "re-post" (10-13-06) and it happens to have been my very first Build UP! Mark Sturgell's post reminded me of it. Thanks, Mark!

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, June 13, 2009

Audience, by Lon Alderman

I'm having a ball playing in the pit orchestra for "Singin' in the Rain" with the Vermilion Players! I was reminded of this post (June 18, 2007) and think it's time to post it again.

Galatians 1:10
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

I've just finished a very busy season of musical theatre. I played trumpet in the pit band for "West Side Story" in our local community theatre. Because of this experience the concept of "audience" is fresh in my head. Every ounce of effort that went into this production was for the purpose of pleasing the audience.

In this passage, Paul calls our attention to the most important audience of all. To whom are we performing? Singer and songwriter Sara Groves put it wonderfully in her song "This Journey is My Own". Here are some selected lyrics:

When I stand before the Lord,
I’ll be standing alone.
This journey is my own.
Still I want man’s advice,
and I need man’s approval,
but this journey is my own.

So much of what I do is to make a good impression.
This journey is my own.
So much of what I say is to make myself look better.
This journey is my own.

I have never felt relief like I feel it right now.
This journey is my own.
‘Cause trying to please the world
it was breaking me down...
Now I live and I breathe for an audience of one...
‘Cause I know this journey is my own

You can live for someone else
And it will only bring your pain
I can’t even judge myself
Only the Lord can say, “Well done.”

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

What are we afraid of?, by Lon Alderman

Do you have dreams that you can't seem to reach? Do you feel nudges toward taking certain positive actions, but can't seem to "pull the trigger"? Do you see needs out there, but choose to turn the other way? I do.

I almost always know what I should do, but something keeps me from doing it! Instead of acting, I quickly surmise every possible negative outcome. I itemize the difficulties and the costs. I tally up my shortcomings. Then I choose not to act.

I'm beginning to realize that most of these obstacles have, at their root, FEAR!

According to Oswald Chambers...
What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? "For He Himself has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ’The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ " (Hebrews 13:5-6).

If we believe what God has promised, then what place can fear occupy in our life? In other words, if God promises to never leave us and never forsake us, then what are we afraid of?

Here's a simple action plan for overcoming fear-related obstacles:
1. Examine the obstacle
2. Identify the fear
3. Trust God
4. Move forward

With God, we can overcome our fears!
Lon Alderman

Check out over 350 additional posts (
accessible according to topic) by clicking on this link: Daily Build UP

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Loops, by Lon Alderman

Jesus says, "Follow me."

And often we answer, "Lord, I will follow You, but..." (Luke 9:61)

Following Jesus requires submitting our will to God's will. If, when Jesus calls, we choose to follow our common sense instead, then we find ourselves in, what I call, a loop.

Oswald Chambers
teaches it this way...
If you get into the habit of doing something physically, you will do it every time you are tested until you break the habit through sheer determination. And the same is true spiritually. Again and again you will come right up to what Jesus wants, but every time you will turn back at the point of testing, until you are determined to abandon yourself to God in total surrender.

When we fail to follow God's will then He loops us back to face the same test again. These loops continue until we submit. During these loops our relationship with God stops growing. However, when we finally pass the test by surrendering ourselves we (again) move forward in our relationship with Christ.
Are you currently caught in a loop? The way forward is to submit to God's will even when it doesn't make sense.

Lon Alderman

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Forward to the Dawn

I ran across this in today's sermon preparation:

Luke 9:61-62
Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."

Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

Here are William Barclay's thoughts on this passage...

[Jesus'] words to the third man state a truth which no one can deny. No ploughman ever ploughed a straight furrow looking back over his shoulder. There are some whose hearts are in the past. They walk forever looking backwards and thinking wistfully of the good old days.

Watkinson, the great preacher, tells how once at the seaside, when he was with his little grandson, he met an old minister. The old man was very disgruntled and, to add to all his troubles, he had a slight touch of sunstroke. The little boy had been listening but had not picked it up quite correctly; and when they left the grumbling complaints of the old man, he turned to Watkinson and said, “Granddad, I hope you never suffer from a sunset!”

The Christian marches on, not to the sunset, but to the dawn. The watchword of the kingdom is not, “Backwards!” but “Forwards!” To this man Jesus did not say either, “Follow!” or “Return!” he said, “I accept no lukewarm service,” and left the man to make his own decision.

Need I say more?

By the way, you can listen to my weekly sermons and find out where I'm preaching by clicking on the following links:

Weekly Sermons
Preaching Schedule

Forward to the dawn!
Lon Alderman

Monday, May 25, 2009

Plow Now, by Lon Alderman

Today's Build UP is inspired by my friend Mark Sturgell. His blog post today really hit me between the eyes. You can check out his post through this link:

The Intersection of Purpose and Now

Mark teaches...

Time is linear. We have no control over time. Each of us has 24 hours in each day. That will not change. There is no such thing as time management. We have the moment – this moment - to work with. We have Now. That’s all we own, all we are given true stewardship over. We cannot travel into the past or the future, even for a moment. This one is all we have.

My purpose is to build up the body of Christ, the Church. I do this by encouraging and equipping church leaders. Today, after reading Mark's blog, I realized that the most purposeful use of my "now" was to construct a Build UP. So...

I opened up my blog page and started keyboarding. The next thing I knew the blog was written! My hope is that you will be encouraged by this post. If you are, then my purpose is achieved!

Proverbs 20:4
A sluggard does not plow in season;
so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.

Plow now!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Adventure III, by Lon Alderman

Every real adventure I've experienced contains a portion that is very difficult. Whether it's a tough hill to climb, running out of water in the desert, capsizing the canoe, or an injury, every adventure carries with it a significant challenge. Frankly, that's why we go! There's something awesome about surviving one of these challenges! And, they make the best stories!

Paul writes of the persecutions and challenges he and other disciples have endured (see 2Corinthians 4:8-9). He goes on to explain that there is a purpose being served in this suffering.

2Corinthians 4:10b that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

Every real faith walk contains portions that are very difficult. Whether it's enduring a tough church meeting, a search process for a key church leader, personal or family illness, the loss of a job, or the death of a friend, every faith walk carries with it significant challenges.

When we face these challenges leaning on God, it is God that gets us through them. It is, therefore, appropriate that God gets the credit for our "survival". And, these adventures make the best stories!

As you face today's adventure, lean fully upon God. He will get you through and in the process Jesus will be revealed!

Have a great adventure!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Adventure II, by Lon Alderman

Most churches have lost their sense of adventure! Instead of striding forward into the fray, our primary effort has become more defensive, leaning more toward fortification.

Should we really stay in the temporary safety of the "fort"?

Or, should we boldly risk a "charge"?

Luke 14:25-27 (The Message)
One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, "Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one's own self!—can't be my disciple. Anyone who won't shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can't be my disciple.

Oswald Chambers
This verse teaches us that the only men and women our Lord will use in His building enterprises are those who love Him personally, passionately, and with great devotion— those who have a love for Him that goes far beyond any of the closest relationships on earth. The conditions are strict, but they are glorious.

That's an incredibly poignant statement for the Church, particularly since "letting go" is not very culturally acceptable these days. Rather, we hear the church responding to the challenges in the world with statements like: "save for a rainy day" and "batten down the hatches"! Many churches are taking up defensive positions, and hoping to out last the the tough times, j
ust when action is needed most!

The New Oxford American Dictionary on "adventure":

- denoting motion or direction
- dare to do something or go somewhere that may be dangerous or unpleasant

In order to be disciples of Jesus we must move! In order to be disciples of Jesus we must "dare to do something or go somewhere that may be dangerous or unpleasant"! Jesus demands that we let it all go and follow Him!

Discipleship is an adventure!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Adventure Lost, by Lon Alderman

I read this prayer on my friend Bill Dahlberg's facebook page:

"O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

This prayer smacks of adventure to me. Going where we haven't gone before and not knowing what will happen is a formula for adventure. It is also the stuff that makes many people nervous these days!

This country was "settled" by people heading (west) where few (like them) had gone before. For the most part, however, we have grown uncomfortable with the unknown since those adventurous days.

Today, we excel at subduing our world into tidy little boxes. We move away from the unknown preferring the predictable. We settle for private rather than run the risk of public. We schedule and organize. We develop habits and rituals. And we slowly develop safe, unchanging, comfortable cocoons around ourselves.

Then someone suggests a change and people come unglued!

It would be good to remember Who it is that calls us and the adventure that commonly accompanies His call.

Proverbs 16:9
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Luke 14:33
...any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lifter or Leaner

Are you a lifter or a leaner?
Submitted by Pastor Jason Woolever

[originally posted on July 10, 2007]

1Thessalonians 5:11
"...encourage one another and build each other up..."

Check out this old poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

There are two kinds of people on earth today,
Just two kinds of people, no more, I say.
Not the good and the bad, for 'tis well understood
That the good are half-bad and the bad are half-good.
No! The two kinds of people on earth I mean
Are the people who lift and the people who lean.

Are you a person who lifts the loads of others with your attitude, words, and actions? Or are you the type who makes people's loads feel heavier than they were before you entered the room? What would your family/co-workers say?

To read more from Pastor Jason, check out his blog at:

Thursday, April 09, 2009

"Fruit", by Lon Alderman

John 15:5
[Jesus said] "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

I've always struggled with this passage, because I know a lot of good fruitful people that are "apart" from Jesus. The world is full of generous, kind, hospitable, and gracious people that don't have any kind of a relationship with Jesus. How can they bear fruit apart from Jesus?

What is "fruit"?

John 15:8
This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

William Barclay wrote:
God is glorified, when we bear much fruit and show ourselves to be disciples of Jesus. The greatest glory of the Christian life is that by our life and conduct we can bring glory to God.

According to Barclay, when we bear "much fruit" we demonstrate to the world that we are Jesus' disciples. Showing ourselves to be Christ's disciples brings glory to God. What we do, our fruit, can be tested by whether it shows us to be disciples of Jesus.

It's not enough to just do good things. Fruit is behaving in a way that shows that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. Fruit is a life that brings glory to God.

Bear much fruit!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Benefit Concert - Acorn Ministries

I'd love to have you join us for our Fourth Annual Benefit Concert! The concert will be held on April 4th at 7:00pm in the First United Methodist Church in Pontiac (IL)!

The funds that are raised are used to support me in my Acorn Ministries work! This is my only fund raising event of the year!

Here are some helpful links:

To order a CD of the concert: ORDER A CD

To learn more about the concert: CONCERT INFORMATION

To make a tax-deductible donation: MAKE A DONATION

Thank you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

LIfting Exercises, by Lon Alderman

1Thessalonians 5:12-13 (The Message)
And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!


If you hadn't heard, church leadership is challenging! The demands and expectations of the job are off the charts! Once upon a time being a church leader was a high status and low stress occupation. Not anymore! I think it is pretty safe to say that the opposite is true today!

One of the cool things on our church calendars is the "Pastor Appreciation" month! I've actually communicated with the guy that started this movement! (BTW, please pray for Jerry!) What I'd love to see is for this cool month of celebrating our church leaders to spill out into the rest of the calendar. Toward that end, I've started compiling a resource of different ways to encourage church leaders. Here's the link: Lifting Exercises

Please consider telling me about the ways you lift your leaders and I'll share them with our fellow "Lifters"!

Happy lifting!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Which half?, by Lon Alderman

Matthew 14:28-30
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

"Come," he 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 was doing it! He was walking on water! However, in the midst of this miracle, Peter gets distracted. His focus on Jesus is broken as Peter concentrates on his surroundings. Granted, Peter is in the midst of a storm, but he was in the storm when he first stepped out of the boat. Something changed! Now his eyes are on the storm, not Jesus. And he begins to sink!

It is at these times in our life when we see the glass half empty. We focus on the negatives of our surroundings. We concentrate on the storms and not on Jesus. Selfishness fills our heart and we start to sink!

There is another way to view the glass, and that is to see it half full. This is attained when we focus on Jesus in the midst of the storm. With our eyes on Christ we see His amazing blessings and His perfect provision right there in the middle of the storm! Gratitude fills our heart and we walk on water!

Matthew 14:31-33
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

Keep your eyes on the Son of God!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Out of the Mouth, by Lon Alderman

Proverbs 10:11 (The Message)
The mouth of a good person is a deep, life-giving well,
but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.

What flows from our mouths? Are we a source of life or abuse?

Our mouths can speak the words that bring encouragement to anyone we meet. Out of our mouth we can build up and give life to our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family. Even in the most dire storms in life we can deliver the silver-lining with the words we choose.
We always have the option!

Our mouths can speak the words that destroy anyone we meet. Out of our mouth we can tear down and rip to shreds our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family. Even in the most wonderful sunny day we can deliver the dark storm cloud with the words we choose.
We always have the option!

The choice of words is ours: "deep, life-giving" or "dark cave of abuse".

What will come out of your mouth, today?


Please check out the all-new Acorn Ministries website! Check out all of the great resources and learn more about my ministry. Check it out at:

Monday, February 23, 2009

In Your Hands, by Lon Alderman

Joshua 24:15
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Two boys were walking through the woods and discovered a small bird with a broken wing. The boys caught the bird and decided to use it to play a trick on one of their neighbors. As the boys made their way to the neighbors house with the bird held tightly in one of the boys hands, they made up their plan.

Upon arriving at the old man's house the boy holding the bird explained to his neighbor that he had a bird in his hands and he wanted him to guess if it was alive or dead. If the man had said that the bird was dead, then the boy would open his hands and show the man that he was wrong. However, if the man said that the bird was alive, then the boy would gently push the life out of the bird with his hands and show the man that he was wrong by displaying the dead bird. The boys were very excited because they planned to prove the old man to be wrong no matter which way the man answered.

The man was slow to answer which made the boys excitement turn to impatience. Finally, the boy holding the bird shouted out, "What's your answer old man?"

The man slowly responded, "The answer is in your hands."

Choose well!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Perfect Storm, by Lon Alderman

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

The movie "Perfect Storm" is a dramatic portrayal of a violent and destructive natural phenomenon. A "perfect storm" is defined as:
  • a particularly violent storm arising from a rare combination of adverse meteorological factors.
  • a particularly bad or critical state of affairs, arising from a number of negative and unpredictable factors : the past two years have been a perfect storm for the travel industry.
Again, "God works through all things for the good of those who love Him..."

The challenge for us is to understand that sometimes we have to go through difficulty in order to become the men and women God desires us to be. The "storms" in our life are perfectly designed for the good of those they affect, particularly those that love God.

For example, until I had been fired from a job I had almost no empathy for people going through that crisis. Now that I've experienced being fired I have regular opportunities to encourage people as they work through this painful process.

When we find ourselves in a one of the storms of life, try to keep in mind that the storm is perfectly capable of producing "good" results in us. God is, in fact, at work for our good rain and shine!

What storms are brewing in your life?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Had Forgotten, by Lon Alderman

Galatians 3:26-29
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Today, I was having a wonderful discussion with a dear friend and colleague over breakfast. In the midst of our effort to solve all the problems that effect the Church, we were interrupted by the restaurant owner. He shouted for us to draw our attention to the large screen television which showed pictures of the preparations being made for today's inauguration of President Barack Obama. This was an unusual thing for the owner to do. Actually, I'd never heard him speak until today. But that wasn't what upset me...

Before his words had finished settling onto the flour of this small diner an over-fed man in his sixties let go with a politically and racially charged remark! I couldn't believe he had said it! I don't know this man, but I can tell you a great deal about him as a result of his attempt at humor! This was so unsettling to me because I guess I had forgotten just how divided we are in this world by such things as political party and the color of a person's skin.

Lord Jesus, heal this land. Heal it from its divisions of gender, political affiliation, wealth, and race. Keep my mind sharpened to the need for healing, because I had forgotten...

In God we trust,

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Seasons, by Lon Alderman

Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...

You may have noticed that my blog has been a bit, what shall I say, dormant. I believe that you deserve an explanation, but I'll give you two. First, I have been using up much of my creativity in the development of my brand new website for
Acorn Ministries. I'm thrilled about the progress; however, this effort has taken me "away" from my blogging ministry.

Second, this has been a season in which I've invested in my family. God blessed our socks off with a gift from my parents of two weeks free lodging in Florida! It was awesome!

It's been a wonderful season, but I do realize that I've not been very encouraging during it. If I'm ever absent again, please visit the blog (Daily Build UP!) where you can find over 300 encouraging messages! You can also find posts on particular subjects by clicking
on a "topic" from the right-hand column (scroll down a bit to find these).

May God bless you richly in 2009!