Endings . . . .

 white glue“The TieBack” – It Glues!

An all too common problem with those who take a class in “Public Speaking 101” is that they do not think about their conclusion.  I cringe every time I hear a speaker end in a way which reflects that he has given the conclusion very little thought.  He has not tried to end with a “punch” and ends with a whimper.  The message just slowly and vocally cranks down in tone, maybe preceded with an announced verbal marker, to let an audience know that this is the end —  “Let me conclude by saying . . . .”

Sometimes . . . .

√ The speaker subconsciously suspects that he/she has left it unfinished and he/she continues to fumble around for a period of time, trying to bring it to a proper and recognized complete stop.  Rambling and repeating characterize this kind of fumbled attempt to wrap up the message.

√ At other times the speaker just abruptly stops by making a generic comment – “May the Lord helps us to do this” – ” followed by  – “Let’s close in prayer.”  Over time the people will say this about that pastor’s messages – “I just find that there is so little application in his messages.”

√ At still other times a pastor will try to wrap it up during the closing prayer.  It is a “residual conclusion.”  There are still some things which can be or ought to be said, and it is moved to the closing prayer.  The content would have been a good fit for the actual message, and it is obvious that this is really not a prayer, but an exhortation and application.  It is just that the audience has been conditioned to think of it as a prayer.

“Lord, we need to take those opportunities which you give us and use them to speak to those who need the Lord.  We need to recognize that those situations are not random, but planned by you.  But we lack the courage or we act selfishly – more interested in our plans for the day  – than the souls of men . . . . “

√ Then there is the closing that is a simple “applicational question.”

“Is that you when it comes to . . . . Do you find yourself . . . . We need to ask the Lord to work in our hearts and lives. . . . Let’s close in prayer.”

 There is also the “Classical Conclusion” – the general summary or restatement of the main points.   I say “classical” because it is a classically recognized method of concluding a speech.

“We have seen the causes of jealousy . . . .  and examples of jealousy. . . and finally the remedies for jealousy . . . .  Clearly, the Bible recognizes the dangers and pitfalls of jealousy in our lives, and it will be as we implement the remedies that we will have control over our own spirit . . . .”

√ Finally (I am sure that there are more hybrids), there is the “prophetic conclusion” which re-announces the series and where we will be next week.

“Next week we will be continuing in this series, and we will be looking at . . . . “

I think these kinds of endings happen because the pastor has not planned his conclusion.  He has come to the end of his notes, and therefore that is the end of the message.  There is no “Conclusion” in his notes and therefore in his thinking.

Unfortunately, the message just sort of fizzles out, instead of ending with a clear intentional statement which leaves the audience with a clear understanding and a final impacting grasp of the Big Idea.

Again, there is a reason that the three parts of a speech are classical, historically, and consistently identified as the . . . .

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion

. . . . because all three parts play a meaningful part in the effectiveness of the speech.  The introduction and conclusion have been included in this “trinity of rhetorical parts” because they should be given significant weight in the preparation of a speech.

“The purpose of your conclusion is to conclude—not merely stop.…Your congregation should see your idea entire and complete, and they should know and feel what God’s truth demands of them.”  — Haddon Robinson

The conclusion needs to have some substance to it, in that it involves 10 – 15% of the whole speech, just as does the introduction.  If the conclusion is only a minute or less in a 35 – 45-minute message, it is too short and will be ineffective!

The Tieback

Let me suggest that a good introduction can give you the material you need for your conclusion.  This method is what might be called – “The Tieback.”  That is, we pick up some of the material we used in the introduction (and points and/or their content) and pull it down into the conclusion.  I believe this is one of (not the only) the most effective ways to think about your conclusion BECAUSE it glues the parts together.  It communicates that the message or speech is a whole, from the beginning – through the points – to the end.
If you began with a story, a quotation, a personal illustration, a historical event, multiple examples of a singular concept, a definition, etc.
If you have used some illustrations, examples, phraseology, metaphors, key or unusually words, a repeated phrase, the clearly stated Big Idea, etc.
Go back to that in your conclusion . . . .
“It is not only ____ ( a person from our introduction) who needed to understand that God’s “no” does not necessarily mean “never,” but it is just as true today in our lives.  “No” does not mean “Never.”
Yes, there are all kinds of examples we could point to which illustrated inequity and unfairness — whether it is (past examples we brought up in our introduction or body of your message) be the irritations which come when making a purchase, our children’s sense of fairness, or as Jesus illustrated – workers lined up to be paid (Matthew 20 – the passage used in our message).  It is not that inequity and a sense of unfairness will not grab our minds throughout life, but . . . .
It is like we have stated over and over  — God’s “No” might be “Not Ever” in our lives.  There are times when the Lord is telling us, It is not going to happen.  That is not my will for your life.  It is then when we need to say as Romans 11:36 say . . . and include the word  “Amen.”
You remember we began with the story of that aviator who lost his ability to navigate because of the sudden failure of the plane’s electrical power.  What you may not know is that the pilot of that plane was Franklin Graham.  Before he left the field in Florida . . . *

*I’ve included three sources for this illustration, each one helps in filling in the detail of this actual event.  The link is also included below.  I am sure you can google it as well to find the various accounts of this event.


The pilot (Franklin Graham) was a new pilot, flying a small plane from Florida to Texas.

He knew his parents were worried and they’d be fervently praying for him.

To put them at ease, he’d asked his instructor to go along with him.

The sun had set as they flew south of Jackson, Mississippi, when suddenly the cockpit went dark. They’d lost all electrical power, and their radio was out.

Meanwhile, at the Jackson airport, controller Sydney McCall had closed down operations, turned off the exterior lights,

and was giving an after-hours tour of the control tower to some folks from his church.

He lifted a device about the size of a hair dryer, called it a light gun, and began to demonstrate. “The green light can signal a pilot who has lost radio contact that he has clearance to land.” He pointed the gun out the window, flicked the green light on…and then off.

He then moved his hand to a lever. “This switch turns on the landing lights,” said Sydney, anticipating that his audience would be startled when the runway outside the windows burst into light. And they were.

Then, Sydney pushed the lever again, and the runway returned to darkness.

In the troubled aircraft, Franklin was looking for a place to land.

Suddenly he saw a green light signaling a pilot in distress. “The tower has seen us!” he said excitedly.

Quickly, they hand-cranked the wheels down, headed for the green light. Right on cue, the airport runway burst into light! Franklin landed the plane.

And as he taxied toward the hanger, the lights went out.

“You’d think they could have left them on a bit longer,” sputtered the instructor, somewhat surprised.

But no one could have been more surprised than Sydney when at the wrap-up of his tour was interrupted by someone shouting, “A plane has just landed.” “What?” he said.

And, if he was surprised at that, imagine his reaction when he found out that the young man coming through the door was Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, the famous preacher.

And what an incredible story everyone now had, exemplifying the power of God and prayer

The next time you wonder if long-distance prayer can work, think about Franklin Graham. He’ll attest to it.

 Link : Squire Rushnell


Second Record Of That Event


Michael Tarrant – Friday, September 14, 2012

There was nothing unusual about Sunday afternoon, March 21 (1971) when a small single-engine plane took off from a Florida airport with [four] people aboard.  It was just a routine flight from Florida to Texas by way of Jackson, Mississippi.  The sun eased out of sight behind the distant horizon and the light of day turned into a shadowless night.  The darkness of night received help from a cloud coverage to make visibility almost impossible.  The small plane continued on its flight pattern according to its navigated course.

The control tower at Thompson Airport was carrying out its routine duty, that of directing air traffic.  Sydney McCall was on duty and had picked up the pilot of the Texas-bound plane on radar and radio.  He gave instructions, and the plane continued above Jackson and on toward Vicksburg and the Louisiana state line.  Sydney was satisfied with conditions and instructed the pilot to contact the Memphis Center for further directions.

In the meantime, Gary Cornett, minister of music at Forest Hill Baptist Church, and his wife, Pat, had arrived at the airport at Sydney’s invitation to see the various operations.  They were allowed to go up into the tower, and Sydney began demonstrating the various equipment.  He had received a call from Memphis concerning the small plane but assumed that they had made contact with each other and passed on to other matters.  Sydney demonstrated a light-gun which has tri-colored lights.  He turned on the red light and a white light while the gun remained inside the tower, but for an unexplained reason he held the gun out the window when he demonstrated the green light and said, “If I were going to give a pilot clearance to land, I would point this light directly at him and turn the green light on.”  A fellow worker asked Sydney if he would demonstrate the runway lights.  Sydney started to turn them on, and gradually they got brighter and brighter until they reached the state of high-intensity.  The latter degree of lighting is for emergency, and the lights are designed to pierce fog and clouds to give pilots in emergency situations a view of the runways.

Sydney had scarcely completed these demonstrations when his coworker said in excitement, “There is an unlighted plane coming in.”  Sydney responded, “There isn’t a plane within fifty miles of us in the air.”  Upon closer examination, it was quickly learned that an unlighted single-engine plane was coming in for a landing.

When the plane had landed, the security officers brought the pilot into the control tower for an explanation.  According to the pilot, the small plane’s generator had quit working soon after Sydney McCall turned the flight instructions over to the Memphis Center.  It had not been possible for radio contact to be made with Memphis or anyone else.  In fact, the radio and lights and everything else about the planes electrical system were helpless.  In that distressing moment, the pilot remembered that he had just passed Jackson, so he dropped below the cloud coverage and using the lights of Jackson for direction, returned to the city in hopes of getting help.

He located Hawkins Field but could not receive clearance for landing.  Remembering the location of Thompson Field, he made his way in that direction.  It was at this point that precise timing came into prominence.  When Sydney demonstrated the green light from the control tower, a pilot would have to be directly in front to see it.  The pilot of the troubled plane saw the green light.  Furthermore, after receiving the light signal to land, it would have been very dangerous to attempt a landing without lights.  Within moments after the green light signal was given, the runway lights were turned on (and brightened to the high-intensity lighting needed for an emergency landing.)  The landing was completed without harm to the aircraft or passengers.

In one sense, Sydney McCall was demonstrating the lighting and signal system to Gary Cornett, but the pilot of that plane is positive that God’s providential hand was in it all.  Calvin Booth, one of the pilots, commented “God’s hand was in it.  You see, we just left Billy Graham there in Florida, and he prayed for our safety before we departed.”

It is a wonderful feeling to realize the power and grace of being “under His sheltering wings.”

What the article failed to mention is that the other pilot of that plane was Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham.  If God can orchestrate all that, it’s a sure bet He can take care of you and me!


Third Account

On one occasion Franklin Graham and three friends flew from Texas in a rented airplane to visit his parents who were vacationing in Florida. On their return trip, they stopped at Mobile, Alabama. At that time they found that instead of flying west to Texas, they had to change course and fly north to skirt around a series of thunderstorms in their path. It was night, and the generator of the airplane quit working after they took off from Mobile. Whether it was because Franklin was not familiar with the rented airplane, or due to inexperience, he did not notice that the airplane lights, instruments, and radio were all operating off of the battery.

Soon the lights began to dim. Franklin flew, watching the instruments with a flashlight, while one of his friends, an experienced pilot, searched the charts for an airport. They realized the flashlight batteries would not last that long.

They flew the emergency triangle pattern in hopes that the radar would notice their plight. After one triangle, they gave up on that because there was no radio for the aircraft controllers to contact them. They had been flying around 11,000 feet. Flying the plane while holding the flashlight in his teeth, Franklin began descending, hoping to come out beneath the clouds. Thankfully, they broke out beneath the cloud cover at 2,000 feet and found the lights of Jackson, Mississippi.

From there they flew to a small, private airport. According to FAA procedures, the control tower would signal a radioless airplane with a green light when it was safe to land. They circled the airport for about three minutes in the hope that they would be noticed. They received the green light. Franklin let his more experienced friend pilot the plane for the landing. The emergency landing lights came on by the airstrip below. The landing was perfect.

Just as they touched down the landing lights went off. They could not understand why the control tower did not leave the lights on.

When they taxied up to the airport administration building, a man came out and angrily asked them who authorized them to land. To land at an airport without authorization could cause a collision with another plane. Franklin told him they saw the green light. The man, who was not the air controller, was puzzled.

It was years later when Franklin Graham read an article in a magazine that the “mystery” was resolved. The article explained how the airport manager was demonstrating airport operations to the minister of his church. He was showing them the light gun with its three colors; red, white and green. For some inexplicable reason (well, we know the reason) when he turned on the green light he directed it out the window. He then demonstrated the emergency landing lights which were designed to assist pilots in poor visibility situations. After leaving the lights on a few minutes, he turned them off because the airport was closed. The manager did not know the airplane was circling the field.

When he directed the green light out the window, it was not by coincidence that he aimed it at Franklin’s plane. When he turned on the emergency landing lights, the timing was precise, and it was not coincidental. God was in control, not the airport manager.

It is interesting how the Lord used His children in this situation. There were four Christians in the disabled aircraft, and they were all praying. The airport manager was also a Christian, demonstrating the airport to his minister, and the Lord directed all their actions.

One thought on “Endings . . . .

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