Our Next Study at Pinnacle Forum Central Illinois

In the coming weeks (January - May 2015), in his study, When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, John Ortberg will remind us that in life all the tokens, game pieces, and prizes are left behind when we walk away from the table. The only real "winnings" we claim and keep are our own souls and the love we have for Christ and each other.

If you think you might need a better game plan--one that offers an eternal perspective --this strategy filled playbook walks you through what it takes to really win big at the game of life.

Posted on January 20, 2015 .

Dr. King Gave Hope

A large part of the reason Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was so effective was because he gave hope. In the below conclusion of a speech he gave in Memphis, Dr. King assures his audience that they truly will get to the "promised land."

As leaders, the question before us today is, "How will we encourage people with the hope that racism will end?"

Dr. Martin Luther King's most famous speech was unquestionably his, "I Have a Dream," speech. Yet, it surely was not his only great speech. The speech Dr. King gave the night before he was murdered was also an incredible example of how leaders move people by their speaking. You can listen or read the entire speech.

In this speech, when Dr. King said, "I have been to the mountaintop," his biblically literate audience he immediately knew what he meant. Dr. King was comparing his leadership to that of Moses, the great Old Testament leader who led God's people out of slavery and to the Promised Land. Moses was not permitted to go into the Promised Land. But he was allowed to go to the mountaintop and see it  (Deuteronomy 34:1-7). Likewise, Dr. King knew that there was a strong possibility he would be killed before the Civil Rights Movement had achieved its goals. But surely the end was in sight.

The  clip is less than 3 minutes long. Yet in it we see many of the reasons Dr. King was so effective as a leader. Above all, Dr. King gave hope. After his audience heard Dr. King review all the progress that had been made, they were sure they would get to the Promised Land.

For more reflections on this speech, see Chris Brauns's post:  Leadership Lessons from Dr. King.

Posted on January 18, 2015 .

Are you growing?

Healthy plants grow.

Healthy Christians grow by being in their local churches, meeting with other believers (such as at Pinnacle Forum meetings!), and through prayer.

Peter concludes 2 Peter:

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
 

Posted on January 13, 2015 .

Billy Graham on the Benefits of a Keen Sense of Humor

Billy Graham:

A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable.

Maybe smile a little more today?

While you're smiling, by all means remember this:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:19-21

Posted on January 11, 2015 .

There is No Third

Who are you?  Who-who, who-who?

Psalm 1 describes two kinds of people.  Which are you?

Option #1 – The first is the person who delights in God’s Word.  If you studied the life of this kind of person, you would be struck by his or her ongoing meditation on Scripture.

Option #2  – The alternative is the person who keeps company with people who have no regard for Christ or his word.  This person hangs out with Beevis. 

You might answer, “Well, I’m not sure that I fit either category.  I have this kind of third option going – – I’m a hybrid – – I’m not really sold out about God’s Word, but then I don’t think I’m Beevis’ sidekick either.  I’m option #3.”

Here’s the thing.  Read Psalm 1.  Read Matthew 7:13-29There is no third

There are two kinds of people.  Those who delight in God’s Word and those who don’t.

There are two roads: a broad road and a  narrow one.  

There are two kinds of houses: those built on the sandy land, and those built on the Rock.

There are two kinds of trees: those that bear fruit and those that don’t. 

There are two eternal destinies, not three.

As Derek Kidner as pointed out, there will come a day when the two ways, and there is no third, part forever.

*Adapted from "There is No Third."

Posted on January 4, 2015 .

With Gentleness and Respect

Be encouraged and challenged by how the Apostle Peter said we should talk to others about being followers of Jesus:

. . . But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. . .  1 Peter 3:15
 

Posted on December 30, 2014 .

Let's Talk

One of the great advantages of Pinnacle Forum is that we are establishing relationships. So let's use them. When we are struggling, rather than internalizing our problems, let's talk. Let's talk to each other. Let's talk to a pastor. Let's talk to a counselor. But let's do talk.

Recently, the community where I (Chris Brauns) serve, lost a 20 year old who took his own life. I thought and prayed all week about what to say to our community. Mostly, I said nothing.

But in the end, I chose two words: "Let's talk." I wrote a post on my web site and the goal was to encourage people to talk with me or another leader if they help.

You can read all of what I said here, but the point was straight-forward. We cannot keep ignoring our battles - - we can't anesthetize ourselves to grief. We need to get together and talk.

Posted on December 28, 2014 .

Chores on Christmas Eve

Most of us at Pinnacle Forum worked late on Christmas Eve at some point in our lives. Few of us still have to do so. But either way, it's good to remember that a special announcement was made to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. Tim Johnson and I (Chris Brauns) grew up on farms. Not surprisingly, we return to those memories at Christmas time.

Are you working this Christmas Eve?

I grew up on a farm in Southeast Iowa.  When my parents first started farming, my dad had a second job, so when I was 8 and 9 years old I was responsible for taking care of the animals in the evenings.  It was especially hard during short winter days.  I can still remember cold, dark evenings, with the wind cutting into my face and wire bucket handles digging into my fingers.  Sometimes water would splash onto my coveralls and freeze.

It was cold and even scary outside, but, once I stepped in the barn it was a different world.  You probably think of pigs as dirty, but in a farrowing house where sows are having little pigs there are clean rows of sows with litters of pigs the size of puppies.  Each sow had a separate crate and the pigs would lay in little pink piles of ears and tails under their heat lamps.

When I think about cold winter evenings and warm barns full of straw, watching over our flocks by night, it means more that the Angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds and God wrote them into the Christmas story.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid (Luke 2:8-9).

We still have plenty of ordinary jobs. Maybe you will be working this week when most people are home with their families: driving a semi, ringing up groceries. If so, remember God that wrote people with ordinary jobs into the Christmas Story, “There were in those days shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks by night.”

*Adapted from an earlier post

Posted on December 23, 2014 .

We Must Dream of a White Christmas - - And Can

The Good News of Christ is that there is no condemnation for those who believe in Him. None. So Isaiah encourages that all our Christmases can be "white."

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD: “though your sins are like scarlet they shall be as white as snow, though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool . . .” (Isaiah 1:18)

Posted on December 21, 2014 .

The Greatest Miracle Ever

Suppose I asked you to name the greatest miracle that ever took place?  If you know the Bible you have lots to choose from.  God rescued three from a blazing furnace.  He closed the mouths of lions and demolished the walls of Jericho.  Blind men saw; lame men walked.  God parted the Red Sea and the children of Israel walked through on dry ground.  But none of these are the greatest miracle.  Even God speaking creation into existence is not the greatest miracle.

The incarnation is the greatest miracle that ever took place.

The incarnation was when Jesus, though God Himself, was born as a baby in Bethlehem.  God became humanity without in any way ceasing to be deity. 

According to theologian Wayne Grudem,

“[The incarnation] is by far the most amazing miracle of the entire Bible - - far more amazing than the resurrection and more amazing even than the creation of the universe.  The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe (Grudem, 563).”

Paraphrasing John Murray, “The incarnation means that God who never began to be . . . as God, began to be what he eternally was not (Murray, Vol. 2, 132).  It is the most amazing, the most incredible miracle that will ever happen.

And, the reason Christ became humanity was that He might win the victory and deliver His people from sin.

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. . . Amazing.

Posted on December 14, 2014 .

Act!

Act!

Do something for the King!

At Pinnacle Forum, we are about leaders who know how to make stuff happen!

In his book, Axiom, Bill Hybels encourages leaders to have a bias towards action. He writes,

Personally, I've never understood inactivity. Why a person would sit when he could soar, spectate when he could play, or atrophy when he could develop is beyond me. I feel sure Jesus felt the same way. A lot of adjectives might describe Jesus' time here on planet earth, but comatose would not be one of them (page 134).

Of course, merely "acting" isn't enough. We must seek first the Kingdom of God!

Posted on December 9, 2014 .

Partners Partner

At Pinnacle Forum, we're committed to one another. We're in this together. We're partners.

What is it that partners do?

Partners Partner!

When was the last time you initiated encouragement with a partner beyond your forum discussions. Could you make a call today? Text a Bible verse? Jot a quick note? Buy a Christmas present? Stop by someone's office?

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 ESV)
 

Posted on December 7, 2014 .

The Ground May Be Frozen, But We're Still Planting

"Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action; reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character reap a destiny."

If it’s true that physically, “we are what we eat,” it is just as true that we become what we think.  That is the point of the above progression.

What do you spend your time thinking about?

Posted on December 2, 2014 .

We know you didn’t see what we meant about your blind spot, that’s why it’s called a blind spot.

At Pinnacle Forum, we have a vision for small groups who hold one another accountable and even have the courage to point out "blind spots."

Stating the obvious, we don’t see blind spots.  That’s why they’re called blind spots.  So, rather than being defensive when someone points something out, let’s listen to advice and accept instruction – – that in the end we can be wise (Proverbs 19:20).

Proverbs 17:10 – encourages that, "A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool." That is, a man of understanding doesn’t defensively deny blind spots when they come his way.  He allows them to shape his character.

It is a brave man or woman who has the courage to ask a good friend, "Would you help me identify my blind spots?"

*This post adapt from a post by Chris Brauns.

Posted on November 30, 2014 .

Suppose at the Thanksgiving Table . . .

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Praise is due to you O God in Zion (Psalm 65:1a).

Use this Norman Rockwell image to picture several generations sitting around a Thanksgiving table.

Imagine that as the turkey is set in place, a mother says to her daughter, “Thank Grandma for the turkey.”

And, then picture that the little girl sasses in response, “I am not thanking grandma.  What did the old lady ever do for me?”

How do you suppose that you would process that in your home?

It makes one cringe just to think about it.  The debt that a family owes to the matriarch is incalculable.  Such ingratitude would be despicable.

If we understand that it is wrong to not thank the matriarch of a family, how much more should we see that a failure to thank God is despicable?

Posted on November 25, 2014 .

From Montana to Mahomet! Brooks Marsh Tells His Story

Brooks Marsh of Central Illinois Pinnacle Forum

Pinnacle Forum member Brooks Marsh recently shared the story of how God led him from boyhood on a Montana ranch to running a business in Central Illinois. 

You can listen to audio from that event below. The session begins with an introduction from Tim Johnson, the executive director for the Central Illinois Chapter of Pinnacle Forum.

Posted on November 24, 2014 .

An Alternative to Being Anxious

The key to defeating anxiety is to properly identify the "replacement behavior."

Suppose that you want to get rid of some behavior in your life.  It is never enough to stop doing the wrong thing.  In order to defeat that behavior, you need to not only stop doing the wrong thing, but also start doing the right thing. 

The Apostle Paul emphasizes this principle. 

  • He tells the Ephesians, “stop lying, instead, tell the truth.” 
  • He also encourages the Ephesians, rather than being drunk, speak to one another with Psalms Hymns and spiritual songs. 
  • And, don’t let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up. 

So, if you are going to defeat a behavior in your life.  One of the first things that you need to do is find the right alternative.  Here is one to think about this week.  The positive alternative to “worrying” is “thanksgiving.”  Paul tells the Philippians, “Don’t be anxious but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving make your requests known to God.”

If you struggle with worry and anxiety, and most of us do at one time or another, make it your goal this week to replace those thoughts with Thanksgiving.

Posted on November 23, 2014 .