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

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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