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.
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!
At Pinnacle Forum, we're committed to one another. We're in this together. We're partners.
What is it that partners do?
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)
"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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
Many "baby-boomers" remember televised Billy Graham Crusades from our growing up years. While we might have been more apt to flip the channel to Hee Haw then watch the whole crusade, there were times when we listened to the music.
And if we did watch, then we saw George Beverly Shea singing: I'd Rather Have Jesus. Watching the below video may bring back memories of black and white television and Billy Graham Crusades.
Whether or not you remember Billy Graham Crusades, Bev Shea's song forces us to answer a question every time we watch it. "Would we rather have Christ than anything else?"
For those willing to consider eternity, there can be only one answer. We must choose Jesus rather than any title or treasure the world offers. After all, as Jesus said:
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:26 ESV)
Even if you're not a great vocalist - - and most of us aren't - - watch this video by yourself and sing at least a few lines of it. It's the greatest statement we can ever make.
Tim Keller writes, "It is an exaggeration to say no one comes to God without pain, but not a big one."
If you are hurting, run to Christ. And we flee to Christ by opening His Word. Talking with other believers. Being in church. Praying. Crying out to God.
Author Henri Amiel says, "The stationary condition is the beginning of the end."
Bill Hybels quotes this in The Power of a Whisper, page 138. If you find yourself in a stationary place spiritually, determine to get going this week!
Scripture promises that "he angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear God.
A number of years ago, my wife and I talked to our four young children at dinner about whether or not we ought to let angels camp on our deck. It's a conversation that deserves some explanation.
Our young children knew that the Bible says that the angel of the lord encamps around those who fear God. And, that God commands his angels concerning His people. Children need to picture concepts, so, at dinner we talked what angels camping around us looks like. Do angels have to punch in when they are on duty? Do angels talk with each other about who is assigned to our family?
You may roll your eyes at such talk, but our children were young and we prayed they would absorb the reality that angels truly do watch over them. We want them to know that one way or another, angels encamp around us.
The trouble with our angel picture at that times was that we moved into a house where we needed a new yard. We were surrounded by mud. The kids wondered if angels would consider that ideal camping. One daughter thought maybe that we could grant them permission to camp out on the deck. As the theologian in the family, I reminded the kids that angels get their marching orders from God and not from us. The deck is all theirs if He chooses.
Be encouraged. If you know Christ, then God commands His angels concerning you. Psalm 34:7 says that the Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him. If you know Christ, angels pitch their tents in the yard. Or in the words of Psalm 91:11 , God will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. . . . a thousand may fall at your side, 10,000 at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
This post adapted from Chris Brauns's, Angels Camping On Our Deck.
One of our main emphases at Pinnacle Forum is community. We know that if we are going to transform our cultures we must be mortared into the community of our forums and local churches.
It may seem strange to you, but I talked to a brick the other day. I was out in my yard and there was a brick laying in the yard. A single brick detached from a building seemed a little off to me. No one else was around, so I just said pleasantly to the brick, "Why aren't you part of a building? Are bricks supposed to be alone."
Turns out it was one defensive brick. Things got very tense very quickly. Without any pleasantries at all, the brick shot back at me, "Hey, I don't have to be part of a building in order to be a brick. I'm fine on my own."
He had all kinds of excuses - - other bricks are hypocrites - - he didn't like the builder - - he is planning to be mortared into a building soon: stuff like that.
Of course, none of his lame answers worked. While it's true that a brick doesn't have to be in a building to be a brick, no brick was ever made to be isolated from others. Bricks are made with a building in mind.
1 Peter 2:5 uses a word picture to tell us that Christians are living stones being built into a spiritual house. If you are a Christian, then you are a "brick." God makes bricks with a building in mind. His plan is that you would be mortared together with other Christians in community - - all built up on the chief cornerstone of Jesus Christ. Christians shouldn't find themselves out in the weeds alone. Rather, they should grow together with others.
Adapted from "Why My Blog is Called 'A Brick in the Valley'" and Chris Brauns's, Bound Together: How We are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Decisions
In his book, Visioneering: God's Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision, Andy Stanley notices that God usually takes leaders through desert experiences. He then comments:
So what's the deal with the desert? I don't know. But I do know the time between catching a glimpse of what God wants to do through us and the time when we are led to move out often feels like a desert experience. The desert always feels like a complete waste of time. It is only when we are able to look back that our desert experiences make sense.
At Pinnacle Forum our dream is to influence culture through Christ-centered leadership. Christ-centered leaders are at their best in times of crisis.
One night at dinner my family analyzed the Old Testament story of Jehosheba. The quick summary is that a murderous woman named Athaliah made it her goal to murder all the heirs to the throne. But, for brave Jehosheba she would have been successful.
Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not put to death. And he remained with her six years, hidden in the house of the Lord, while Athaliah reigned over the land.(2 Ki 11:1-3)."
Jehosheba was heroic. She hid her little nephew and his nurse for six years. Discovery at any time would have meant horrible death.
My family and I talked about what had to be true of Jehosheba in order for her to save the life of her baby nephew. We concluded that in a time of crisis Jehosheba combined:
and decisive action.
Our situations are rarely as dramatic as Jehosheba’s. But, you never know. Sometime soon you may find yourself in a tight spot. If you do, remember, that such moments call for courage, clear thinking, and decisive acting. Proverbs says, If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength (Prov 24:10). If you find yourself in a precarious position, whether physical or spiritual or emotional, some place that seems impossibly hard, then turn to Christ.
put your faith in Christ,
and take action.
The Bible says that Christians are not of those who shrink back. We do not wilt in difficult times. We press on, persevere, move forward. Christ has given us all that we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him. You can do it, however difficult it seems. This post adapted from Chris Brauns's How To Respond in a Crisis.
At Pinnacle Forum we're all about making being agents for change.
Rather than fleeing the pressures a Christian politician faced in the 18-19th century England, William Wilberforce chose to stay in politics where he could make a difference. Wilberforce was a central leader in the abolition of the slave trade.
Regarding his decision to stay in politics, Wilberforce said:
“My business is in the world, and I must mix in the assemblies of men or quit the post which Providence seems to have assigned me.”
Or in the words of Christ:
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16 ESV)