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THE TURNING POINT….by Robert Beike

The score was 63-0 at halftime. The year was 1916 and little Cumberland College of Lebanon, Tennessee was being steamrolled by mighty Georgia Tech. Cumberland’s coach was doing more coaxing than coaching. His players were deserting en masse. Two Cumberland players had left the field to seek refuge behind a fence. A frightened halfback discovered them when he ran off the field to avoid a host of Tech tacklers. Not feeling safe enough out of bounds he scaled the fence surrounding the gridiron landing in the laps of his terrified teammates. Another Cumberland player sought safety on Georgia Tech’s bench, hoping to remain undetected by the opposition. Others grabbed their arms or legs and feigned injury so the coach wouldn’t put them in the game. The situation was hopeless. The most lopsided game in college football history ended with a 222-0 score.

2,000 years ago mankind faced a similar situation. Hopelessly overwhelmed by the enemy, they were being terrified by evil and steamrolled by sin. Fear and suffering dominated the day. All humanity was effected. All were searching desperately for refuge and safety, but to no avail. Satan was running up the score. The end result seemed certain, and the situation appeared hopeless.

But, then came the turning point. Just when all seemed lost, a substitute was sent into the fray and turned the tide of battle. A substitute willingly took the field and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). Jesus, whose birth we celebrate each Christmas, is that turning point. From cradle to cross He paved the way to victory. With the whole world condemned to die for their sins, Jesus became our substitute, because “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Jesus is still the way to victory. If you feel like life is steamrolling you, sin holds the upper hand, and evil is running up the score, don’t despair. Turn to Jesus. He can be the turning point in your life.

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REAL THANKSGIVING DAYS….by Robert Beike

On September 8, 1860 the Lady Elgin, a crowded passenger steamer sank off the shore of Lake Michigan. Among those who gathered on the shore was Edward W. Spencer, a student at Garrett Biblical Institute. He saw a woman clinging to some wreckage far out in the breakers. Edward threw off his coat and swam out through the heavy waves, succeeding in getting her safely to land.

Sixteen times that day young Spencer braved the fierce waves, rescuing seventeen persons, before collapsing exhausted and delirious. Ed Spencer recovered slowly, but never completely, from the exposure and exertion of his efforts. With broken health he lived quietly, unable to fully pursue his chosen lifework of the ministry. He died in California at the age of eighty-one. In a notice of his death, one paper said not one of those seventeen rescued persons ever came to thank him.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have all been rescued. Our Savior spent His life that ours might be spared. Have you properly thanked Him? The Apostle Paul spells out the only proper thank you in his letter to the Romans; “I urge you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1). Real thanksgiving requires nothing less than committing all we are and have totally to the Lord. Does your life say, “Thank you?” Let’s make everyday a real thanksgiving day.

“QUOTES OF NOTE” about Change……by Robert Beike

  1. “Watch out! You live in a sea of change. Never turn your back on the ocean or the currents of change.”—-Hans Finzel
  2. “It is difficult to change organizations. It is like tending the garden. When you relax, the culture goes back to the weeds.”—Ichak Adizes
  3. “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from the old ones.” — John Maynard Keynes/Economist
  4. “A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.” — Charlie Brower
  5. “The less I have to do with it, the less I like the idea.” — anonymous church member
  6. “We live in a weather map kind of world. It’s constantly changing. Be prepared for the change, or be prepared for the consequences.” — R. Beike
  7. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler
  8. “Blessed are the control freaks, for they shall inhibit the earth.” — Rev. Will B. Dunn in Kudzu comic strip
  9. Progress is often just a good idea away.” — John Maxwell
  10. “The Holy Spirit has a way of moving a church beyond its comfort zone.” — Bill Easum
  11. “Control is the sacred cow of established churches, and needs to be ground into gourmet hamburger.” — Bill Easum
  12. “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” — Leo Tolstoy
  13. “When your through changing, you’re through.” — Bruce Barton
  14. “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” — Tacitus
  15. “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
  16. “There is a huge difference in being stretched and just getting bent out of shape. God wants to stretch you.” — R. Beike
  17. “If it aint right shouldn’t we change it?”
  18. “Practice the ‘baby philosophy’– if something stinks, change it.”
  19. “(Leaders) have to architect the condition for right decisions to happen.” — Jim Collins
  20. “42% of pastors reported that the church board was the #1 source of resistance to the turnaround plan.” — John C. Larue Jr.
  21. “A church can become so rigid that it becomes brittle, resulting in chunks breaking off whenever there are attempts at alterations. Change requires malleability.” — R. Beike
  22. “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” — John Maxwell
  23. “…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self…” —- Apostle Paul
  24. “New wine should be put into fresh wineskins.” — Jesus
  25. “…we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…” — Apostle Paul

A TRUE WHODUNIT….by Robert Beike

(Peter…addressed the people:) “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or godliness we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus?…”

(Acts 3:12-13)

The picture of the church in the book of Acts is not a still life portrait, but rather a serial-action adventure motion picture. The episode in Acts 3 is a true whodunit best viewed in 3-D. It begins with amazing special effects, as a lame man is dramatically and completely healed, which produces a mystery that peter unravels for the baffled onlookers. Like a detective in a parlor full of anxious guests, Peter deflects attention from the obvious suspects and directs their focus to the responsible parties.

Peter is not afraid to name names. First he identifies the source of the miracle, and next the true guilty parties. “Why do you stare at us, Peter begins, “as though by our own power or godliness we have made him walk?” “We didn’t do it!” “It’s a God thing!” The fisherman turned fisher of men then launched out into the deep water of explaining God’s amazing grace to a thoroughly amazed audience. Tracing clues through the Old Testament, Peter connects the known with the unknown, demonstrating how the evidence points to a greater power than their own. The miracle’s true whodunit is identified as “Jesus Christ the Nazarene” (Acts 3:6), a.k.a. God’s “Servant” (Acts 3:13), “the Holy and Righteous One” (Acts 3:14), and “the source of life, whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 3:15). The names reveal the man, His mission, His character and ultimate power, and Peter insists that it was faith in the name of Jesus that made the lame man whole.

After pointing them to the one who healed the lame man, Peter then pointed an accusing finger at them. In a twist of irony, they had chose to crucify the very one God chose to glorify. They preferred to grant life to a guilty murderer, and put to death the holy, righteous, giver of life. They plotted to have Jesus dead and buried, but God raised Him from the dead. Now, in spite of their evil schemes, because Jesus lives, they had a chance to re-script their life stories.

Explaining God’s whodunit in the world is a part all Christians must embrace. As God acts, our role is to deflect attention from ourselves and defer to the real star—Jesus Christ. Keeping His name on the marquee of our lives and making His story the feature presentation in our circles of influence is the action-adventure to which we’ve been called. Know whodunit in your own life. Learn the back story by reading the Bible. Prepare through prayer. Rehearse daily. Seek cues from the Holy Spirit. Lights! Action! You’re on!

THE MOST POWERFUL OF ALL ILLUSTRATIONS……by Robert Beike

“While he was holding on to Peter and John, all the people, greatly amazed, ran toward them in what is called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he addressed the people...

(Acts 3:11-12a)

Illustrations can be a powerful tool in the hands of a skillful communicator. Like opening a window, they allow needed light and fresh air at critical moments. When used at the outset of a talk, or sermon, illustrations can be effective attention grabbers, especially if they are spectacular in nature. I have known preachers to utilize such visual aids as rappelling down from the rafters, and rumbling in on motorbikes and earthmovers. Elaborate sets, expensive props, extravagant costumes, movie clips and dramatic skits, are just some of the means speakers employ to attract an audience. Yet, it would be hard to top the illustration that introduced Peter’s second sermon. A flesh and blood changed life is the most powerful of all illustrations.

Minutes earlier a missionary moment had resulted in a miracle. Peter and John had encountered a lame beggar at the temple gate called Beautiful. Now, that same man was kangarooing all over the temple complex. Healed in the name of Jesus, he attached himself to the human instruments of that transformation, as if separation would undo the miracle. All of this created a buzz and attracted a crowd. Like metal shavings to a magnet, the temple crowd was drawn to the scene of the incident, providing Peter an attentive audience.

Is your life illustrating the transforming power of Jesus Christ? Is a steady stream of changed lives creating a sense of amazement in your community? What is grabbing the attention of people you know? Is the focus on the failings and foul ups of the Christian community, or the obvious difference of a life touched by God? As God blesses our efforts to sow gospel seed, the spiritual fruit of new believers will appear and ripen, providing visible evidence of new life in Christ. As Christians walk in newness of life the fruits of God’s indwelling Spirit will mature and produce powerful illustrations that will attract an audience anxious to investigate what they see.

After experimenting by sowing seeds with plaster in crop fields, Ben Franklin tried to convince his neighbors of the benefits discovered. When this failed, and recognizing that people learn easier by observation than through argumentation, he wrote letters in a field with a stick, filled the letters with plaster, and planted wheat in the plaster along a well traveled path. When the wheat came up, people walking the path could read in richer greens and taller sheaves the words Franklin had spelled; “This field has been plastered.” When the fruit of a relationship with Christ is displayed, its a powerful illustration for all to see, that “this life has been changed.”

 

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