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:

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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: