Thursday, September 23, 2010

Walking with Jesus is no “happily ever after”!

Well, if you’ve bothered to read on then you are either mad at me for this title or curious as to what I’ve been drinking with my coffee this morning.  Let me first assure you that I love Jesus and that I count every moment in His presence as a blessing, because I have found joy there, in His presence, which cannot compare with any joy found on this earth.  And, believe me, I have searched, and nothing this side of Heaven can compare.  So, what’s my point?

We have this idea in our minds, which was planted in our infancy, about “happily ever after”.   The stories we read (and viewed) all demonstrated a common conclusion.  That is, at the end of the drama, when the villain has received his just desserts, then the story ends with, say it with me, “and they lived happily ever after”.  Now, in our young minds we accept this to be true.  We believe that the rest of their lives will be lived without conflict.  After all, the villain has been vanquished; and all of the issues experienced by sub-characters have been resolved.  Therefore, we conclude that the bad stuff is over, done, never to be seen again.

But that’s not how life is, is it?  If you’ve lived more than 10 years on this planet, you already know that that understanding of “happily ever after” doesn’t exist.  Or do we?  My experience is that many people who follow Jesus actually expect a “happily ever after”.  I’ll make this personal in an attempt to keep my offenses to a minimum.  When I accepted Christ’s gift of salvation I FULLY expected that there would be no more difficulty in my life.  Can you imagine my shock then when trouble arose?  It knocked me off my pegs!

The truth about life is that it is full of trouble.  There is no “happily ever after” that whisks us off carefree beyond the reach of pain and suffering.

1Peter 4:12-16 
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

When we walk with Jesus we must expect trials and sufferings, but they are not to be feared.  On the contrary, if we suffer because of our walking with Jesus, then we can celebrate.  We celebrate because we are “blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on [us]”.  Our response is not “poor me”, but rather “praise be to God for allowing me to bear Christ’s name and to share in His suffering”.

I understand that it is very easy for me to type such a statement, but it is a huge challenge to live it out.  O but when we do live it out, what a magnificent witness it is to this world.  What a tremendous story we make when we praise God in our suffering.  But beyond our witness to the world there’s something else that comes with walking with Christ during our trials.

Even though our walk with Jesus is no “happily ever after” we actually experience something even better.  Yes, we experience something BETTER than “happily ever after”.  If we walk with Christ, even though we go through times of suffering, we will find peace.  The peace of Christ is like nothing else on earth.  And as for me, I’ll take Christ’s peace over “happily ever after” any day of the week.

If you are suffering, please turn your eyes to Jesus.  Lay down your burden of pain before Him.  Ask Jesus into your heart.  Let Him carry you for a while.  And you will find peace even in the face of suffering.  For that matter you can find Christ’s peace in every circumstance.

Philippians 4:4-7 
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Find peace,
Lon Alderman

Monday, June 21, 2010

Stay Your Mind

Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)
You will keep him in perfect peace, 

Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

I watched a great skit once by two talented comics titled, “Distract and Confuse”.  The story line was that these men were presenting a new product for capturing souls to a convention of devils.  Their new product was touted as a sure-fire method.  They taught that all one needs to do is to simply distract their intended victims attention away from God and then confuse them while they are distracted.  The salesmen promoted this procedure as the best thing to hit their business since the “Apple Incident” back in the Garden of Eden.

Setting the humor aside, there is a scary and powerful point to this skit.  The devil is out to get us and we are prone to distraction and confusion.

1Peter 5:6-11 (NIV)
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

The way to defend against the attacks of the devil is to focus our attention on God constantly.  When we focus on God there is no distraction.  And, when we concentrate on God we are far less susceptible to confusion.

2Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The result of our constant concentration on God is, in a word, peace.

Isaiah 26:3 (Amplified)
You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

God has designed us with an early warning system regarding our distractions.  We can quickly gage our attention on God by the state of our emotions.  When confusion, anger, frustration, sadness, etc. present themselves we know that we have allowed ourselves to be distracted.  These non-peaceful emotions serve to guide us back to God (the only real source of peace in this world).

Bottom line is this; if you want peace in your life, then turn your full attention on God.

Stay your mind!
Lon Alderman

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Fresh Look at the Golden Rule

Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

William Barclay calls this passage “the Everest of all ethical teaching”.  Not only is Christ’s teaching the paramount lesson in social behavior, it is also unique.  Barclay says, “This is something which had never been said before.  It is new teaching, and a new view of life and of life’s obligations.”  Those are strong statements!  I invite you to join me in taking a fresh look at the Golden Rule.


The Golden Rule is unique in Christ’s positive presentation of the command.  The negative form of Christ’s command would look something like this:  “Don’t do anything to anyone that you wouldn’t want him or her to do to you.”  This negative form has been presented throughout history in a variety of forms.  But never before had the world heard this positive form of the command.

Negative -> Inaction

In the (negative) form of the command adherence is not very challenging.  That is, all I have to do is to check my behavior and make sure that it is something I’d be willing to receive.  In following the negative form, I will simply avoid certain actions, so they don’t come back and bite me.  The natural response to this negative form of the Golden Rule is, in effect, inaction.

Positive -> Action

But that’s not the form in which Jesus gives this command.  Instead, He taught it in the positive.  In doing so Jesus calls, not for inaction, but for action.  In order to live out the positive form of Christ’s command I must (first) determine how I would like to be acted upon and then (second) perform that action to others.  The guide for my action is my sense of how the world ought to treat me.  That part is actually pretty easy.  I have a very clear idea of how I want the world to treat me.  The challenge comes when I have to actually act that way to others!  Christ’s teaching is about action! 

A Note About Reciprocity

By the way, this isn’t about reciprocity.  In other words, I don’t act toward others the way I want to be treated to get something in return.  Nope.  The command is to act for the other person’s good, and that’s the end of the story.  The New Oxford Annotated Bible states it this way, “…the positive form here requires active contribution to the welfare and happiness of others.”  No reciprocity there, just my action for the other person’s benefit.


The next time you see someone acting sad and lonely, think about the Golden Rule.  Christ directs us to two actions.  First, ask yourself this question. “When I am sad and feeling lonely, how do I want to be treated?” Second, Jesus teaches us to treat that person accordingly.  Take that action for the other person’s benefit.

The next time you see someone acting angry and misunderstood, think about the Golden Rule.  Then, ask yourself this question. “When I am feeling angry and misunderstood, how do I want to be treated?” Then, Jesus teaches us to treat that person accordingly.  Take that action for the other person’s benefit.

The next time you see someone who is completely wrong, think about the Golden Rule.  Then, ask yourself this question. “When I am completely wrong, how do I want to be treated?” Then, Jesus teaches us to treat that person accordingly.  Take that action for the other person’s benefit.

Do you get it?  The Golden Rule is a revolutionary teaching!  Can you imagine the impact we could have on the world if we lived by this command from Jesus?  I don’t think it is an exaggeration to suggest that it would literally change the world!

Go change the world today; live by the Golden Rule.

Lon Alderman

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Enduring Ministry

Imagine a pitcher of water slowly being poured out. Now imagine a glass held under the stream of water slowly being filled up. When the cup moves away from the stream the cup stops filling.

This is a great image of the way that God's blessings (the water) flow into our lives (the cup). We "catch" God's blessings when we position ourselves in the right relationship with God. If we move away from God, then His blessings stop filling us.

The problem with many of us is that when we get some of these blessings we rush out into the world and start pouring out the little we have into other people. In and of itself this isn't bad. After all, we're expected to be a blessing to others (Matthew 5:16). The problem is that we can only hold so much and as we pour out (minister) to others we eventually run dry. 

With our cups empty we feel tired, overwhelmed, and spiritually dry. It is then that we run back to God and seek His blessings. We reposition ourselves under the stream by getting ourselves in the right relationship to God. Then, standing under the stream of God's blessings we get refreshed and filled up.

The way to maintain an enduring ministry is to take up a position under the stream of God's blessings and stay there! Eventually God’s blessings will fill us to the point of overflowing. Our ministry is accomplished from what overflows. In this way our ministry will last and last, because God's blessings will not stop flowing.

Jesus said, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:38)

Minister from the overflow.

Lon Alderman

The first time I saw this demonstration was by my friend Bill Allison (Cadre Ministries). Thanks for the great imagery, Bill!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Name Game

Have you ever wondered if Acorn Ministries has anything to do with the A.C.O.R.N. group that's in the news? If so, you're not alone.

The A.C.O.R.N. group found itself in hot water over some very suspect, if not criminal, behaviors. For the record, Acorn Ministries has nothing to do with that group!

Not surprisingly, I have had many people suggest that I should change the name of my ministry to avoid confusion. The truth is that after seven years (our "birth date" is January 2003) I'm pretty attached to the name. Plus, my office is full of acorn-related knickknacks that people have given as gifts of encouragement.

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.

I believe that God is at work even in this, how to put it, inconvenience. Perhaps as I work to clear my name someone will take notice of my work that otherwise would have overlooked me. Who knows how, but I believe even in this, God is at work for my good.

If you'd like to learn how I came up with the Acorn Ministries name, please check out this link for the whole story:

The Acorn Ministries Name