RECAP: RADICAL TRANSFORMATION based on Mark 5:1-20
We could have the greatest vision as a church. We could be one in heart and mind with the goal to achieve that vision. We can have the most passion in the world to do it. But what are we offering the world? Unless we offer a Jesus who has the ability to radically transform lives, it will not bear any fruit. It would be no different than offering a stale piece of bread when one is longing for something tasty to eat!
Unfortunately, at my table at Annual Conference, I was very concerned as we discussed the compelling vision statement. One of the questions for discussion asked, “How would we share the radical transformation of Jesus in our neighborhood?” One by one there was uncertainty about how to answer that question, as people asked, “What is meant by radical transformation?” It concerned me greatly that here I was at a church conference, and we do not know the radical transformation of Jesus! But it reveals a growing trend in our society–especially in the United States. We have treated Jesus so commonly, where his name is more associated with cussing than miracles, healings, and deliverance! Jesus is still doing those things around the world, but not here in the United States. The late evangelist Reinhard Bohnke, who was considered by some to be the equivalent of Billy Graham, but in Africa, stated, “We don’t see it (miracles) in America because we have become mechanical, routine, and fear true spiritual power, which would require us to change.” Jesus in our society is reduced to stale bread.
But the Jesus in the other parts of the world, and in the Scriptures is one of radical transformation! How can we recapture that in our society today? How can Beaver Creek become a place where the radical transformation of Jesus is clearly seen, and people’s lives are forever changed? The radical account of Mark 5 gives us direction:
1) Realize that no one is beyond hope. The demon-possessed individual encountered Jesus on the Gennesaret side of the Sea of Galilee. This means the encounter took place in the Gentile territory–people outside of the covenant of God in that day. Matter of fact, this particular community still embraced many of the pagan cultures that were at odds with the core of Judaism and Christianity! Also, this man was possessed by at least two thousand demons. His name was Legion (a full legion in the Roman army was six thousand strong, but a minimum of two thousand). This man was living in the tombs, long considered a gateway to Tartarus, the abode of Hades and the dead, and on the edge of the Abyss, the watery prison for souls who are tortured by forces of darkness. He was bound hand and foot but possessed superhuman strength with the ability to snap those chains in half. He ran around naked, cutting himself with stones. But even the location and his condition did not stop the fact that Jesus was there to deliver him! No one is beyond the hope of God!
2) Understand the forces of darkness must submit to the Most High. Two powers of darkness were at play in this account. First, the Abyss, represented by the sea. Unlike other accounts of Antiquity, where the sea was equal to the creative gods and the earth was born out of a cosmic struggle, the Biblical account describes creation simply by spoken word. It shows the true depth and power that God had. So when on the way to this place the storm arose, but Jesus spoke “Peace be still,” and the sea was calmed, Jesus showed he was one and the same as God, the Most High. Every pagan culture has a deity known as “most high,” but they did not interact with said deity out of fear. The Abyss is also the place that traps demonic spirits, created by the Flood according to Jewish legend.
Second, the demon-possessed man addressed Jesus as the Son of the Most High God. They knew Jesus’ authority. Jesus did not have to beg or plead; he simply spoke, and the demons had to respond. Jesus is far more powerful than the forces of darkness!
We may have forces of darkness all around us. But do we know that the same power of Jesus dwells within if we are truly disciples? We don’t have to live in fear or bound by darkness.
3) Accept that radical transformation will make people uncomfortable. After the deliverance, the townsfolk were greatly uncomfortable. Jesus was clearly one that was different than the status quo. The pigs were gone, and the insane, naked, cutting demon-possessed man was now all of a sudden dressed, seated, and in his right mind. Instead of being filled with gratitude, they begged Jesus to leave. Jesus made them uncomfortable.
The same is true today. We have freedom of religion–as long as we don’t mess the establishment or rock the boat! No one wants to stand out, and so when there is a true encounter with Jesus, it is easier and more comfortable to retreat into the shadows. Radical draws attention, but it also puts hope where people can access it.
4) Share our transformation story. The freed man wanted to come with Jesus, but Jesus instead told him to go home. He did–and shared the good news. There was evidence of a Christian community in the Decapolis, but no record at all in the book of Acts of a mission to there. Could it be that this man went to the Decapolis and shared what Jesus had done for him?
People do not want to follow a Jesus that is simply rote or ritual. But they will follow a Jesus who is life-giving and changes things! Do we believe that no one is without hope? Do we believe that Jesus is greater than this present darkness? Are we willing to live uncomfortably for Jesus? Are we willing to share our story? Let us share the radical transformation that Jesus can bring!
Questions for Reflection
1) Who can you bring the hope of Jesus to today that is searching for hope?
2) What are the forces of darkness that surround you? Us? Do we allow God to be greater?
3) Where do you feel personally you are too comfortable? Can you give that comfort up?
4) What is your transformation story?
This Sunday Pastor Ryan will continue the Vision series with the sermon titled, “Holistic Peace,” based on Isaiah 52:7-12. What is the peace that God intends for us to have? Come or tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for August 3 – 9
August 3: Judges 6:17-40 What was Gideon like before his radical transformation?
August 4: Judges 7 What was Gideon like after his radical transformation?
August 5: Luke 5:1-11 What was Peter like before his radical transformation?
August 6: Luke 22:54-62 How did Peter struggle in his transformation?
August 7: Acts 2:14-41 What was Peter like after his radical transformation?
August 8: Numbers 6:22-27 How do we find peace?
August 9: Deuteronomy 6:4-9 How can we find peace?
This Week’s Events:
Wednesday, August 4–Outreach Team Meeting, time TBD
Wednesday, August 4–Worship Team Meeting @ 6:30 pm
Thursday, August 5–Day of Prayer for Beaver Creek
Sunday, August 8–Congregational Listening Session in place of Sunday School @ 10:45 am
Sunday, August 8–Summer Vespers @ 6:30 pm
Sunday, August 15–Pathfinders @ Tami Plaughers, 11 am
Wednesday, August 18–Ministry Team @6:30 pm
Thursday, August 19–Leadership Team @ 7 pm
Saturday, August 21–Steven Miller Memorial Service @ 11am
Sunday, September 5–Summer Vespers @ 6:30 pm
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s story. We are looking for one person each week, rather than a month at a time. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
In place of our Lenten Vespers, we will have summer outdoor vespers on our church grounds two additional Sunday evenings during the summer: August 8, and September 5 at 6:30 pm. Come enjoy some fellowship, campfire songs, and our wonderful church family outdoors!
This past Vespers, I challenged those who attended to think about one thing that the church has meant to them and one thing they would love to see at Beaver Creek in the next five years. I now extend the same two questions to you if you did not attend. If you would like to answer, please simply email me the answer to those two questions!
Call to Prayer & Discernment
As many of you know, much has transpired in recent months concerning the denomination. Some of those developments have troubled many in the congregation. Some Sunday School classes had gathered to discuss the state of the denomination. Others have reached out to our leadership team and myself with questions, seeking answers.
Having said that, the intensity and fervor of those conversations have intensified since Annual Conference, and the concerns of the denomination are beginning to have a significant impact on our life together as Beaver Creek. The actions of the Annual Conference have only increased the frustration level to the point where we are being called to action.
Therefore, I am sending this communication to you to let you know that your concerns have indeed been heard. Leadership Team has discussed these issues every month, but in light of the recent developments, we met on Thursday and decided that it is time to get the entire congregation talking together. We are setting aside Sunday, August 8 as a congregation open forum to openly discuss and hear each other in the midst of this struggle. We will postpone Sunday School and meet together immediately after worship. This will be a time for open, honest sharing, a hearing of hearts. If you have an opinion but would not like to speak out publicly, you could either forward your thoughts to myself via email to be read, or place your comments in the feedback box in the back of the sanctuary.
As your pastor, I acknowledge and share your frustration. It angers me that forces outside of our congregation are threatening the unity built within. But I firmly believe that if we as one body come together in prayer and seek God’s face, God will show us the path we can take together through this storm. We are a great congregation and have our hearts in the right place; let us come together and stand together in this time. Let us pray for God to make clear what steps we must take and the way we should go.
I am also calling us to prayer on Thursday. If you are able and willing to fast, I also ask if you would be willing to do so. We as the Leadership Team need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Can we all partner to prayer for Thursday?
Misti Wheelbarger is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour for next year. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to her and let her know.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Mail your tithe into the church office
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate on Sunday!
Continue to Keep in Prayer our members in Skilled Care Facilities: Mary G Miller, Shirley Miller, Stanley Suter & Carolyn Wine
John Bennington (health)
Sam Carr (health)
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
Tina Dotson (COVID)
Bill Eckard (recovery)
John Fix (addiction)
Janet Good (health)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Heath Kimmell (health)
Reba Kline & family–continue to keep Reba and family in your prayers during this time of loss.
Larry LaPrade (COVID)
Lent family (work)
Barbara Meadows (health)
Alda Miller (health)
Betty Miller (health)
Mary M Miller (recovery)
Mary G Miller (health)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Evy Kaye Sandin (recovery)
Chris Shirk (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Tammy Stine (broken ankle)
Frank Tusing (health)
Mary Whitmore (health)
Whitmore family (various)
Owen Wright (health)
Tyler Zombro (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB