Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Every Leader Needs A Backup Quarterback

The latest installment of the longest running rivalry in the National Football League, between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers took place yesterday.  (Anyone who knows me is right now probably pretty surprised that I am discussing sports.)

The Chicago Bears went into this game without a couple of key players who right now are on the injury list, most notably Jay Cutler the quarterback, leaving Josh McCown their backup to lead the team out.  Things took an interesting turn however in the first play of the game, when the Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered an injury, breaking his collar-bone and knocking him out of the rest of the game.  So up stepped Seneca Wallace their backup for the rest of the game.

For those who haven't heard, the Bears went on to win the game, but the idea of having another quarterback waiting in the wings is important for every leader.  The difference between the NFL and a ministry environment however is that while in the NFL they hope that they will never have to need their backup, as leaders in ministry we ought to be working hard to be preparing them to replace us!

The question is, who are we investing in?  Who are we preparing to turn the game over to?  More than that, how are we intentionally working to train and equip them?  A leader who leaves others warming the bench isn't serious about really fulfilling 2 Timothy 2:2 and passing on to faithful men who will themselves teach others.

Sadly some leaders disqualify themselves, others are taken out of the game unexpectedly by sickness or death, some serve faithfully for years until its time to retire, still others are called by God to play on a different field, but none of us are irreplaceable.  A wise leader invests in others and in doing so they multiply their influence and make sure that the ball keeps moving down the field long after they leave.

Who are you investing in?  Are you serious about replacing yourself?  How are you doing it?

Leaders leave a comment, I'd love to know how you are equipping faithful men.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Danger of Turning Sunday into Fun-Day

  Whether it is parking ourselves on the couch for hours on end to watch a ball game, checking out the latest bargains are the craft store, playing a few rounds of golf or any number of other leisure activities, for many Sunday has become synonymous with “Fun-Day.”  Of course it is good to take time to have fun and to enjoy ourselves, but not if it is at the expense of the Sabbath Rest that God created us to enjoy.
With the approach of the new football season the ads say “Get ready for Fun-Day.”

Consider this:
  • One day a week for rest is a gift from God to His creation.
  • When God created the heavens and the earth He declared it “good.”  When He created human beings He declared His creation “very good.”  When He created, established and modeled the day of rest, He called it “Holy!”
  • Since our culture has moved from a predominantly 24/6 mentality to a 24/7 mentality, the number of people in the US who struggle with sleep disorders, the depression rates, suicides, divorces have sky rocketed.  Is the lack of a Sabbath Day the sole cause of this, no, but even secular experts agree that it is a serious contributing factor.
We can take any day of the week as a Sabbath Day.  As a Pastor, Sundays don’t really work for me as the best day of rest, so I take Friday.

Scripture does not prescribe for us what a day of rest ought to look like, but we do get some principles. If we are to be careful that the purpose of a day of rest doesn’t get lost in leisure activities we have to understand what the God given purpose of it is.

1.      It is a day of rest from the fast pace of the week.

2.      It is a day to reflect on God and His creation.

3.      It is a day to reflect on the week’s activities. (Think about the things you have accomplished and give thanks to God.  Think about the things that you have yet to do or that seem overwhelming and entrust them to God)

4.      It is a day to worship and express thanks.

5.      It is a day to do good to our neighbors.

For believers, Sunday is a great day for this (although not the only day) because we get to begin the day together with others in corporate worship and allow that to set the tone for the rest of the day.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy an occasional football game on a Sunday afternoon, but when we crowd out reflection, worship and thanksgiving we are not truly resting as God created us to rest.

When we guard a weekly Sabbath we will experience a greater sense of joy, peace and freedom because it is a time to gain perspective.  We are able to stop and see God’s faithfulness in our week that has past and also to see the burdens and struggles for what they really are.  The things that stress us out and cause us anxiety take their proper size when placed next to Almighty God. 

Sabbath keeps the glorious deeds of our Holy God at the center of the Set-apart person’s life.  So Practice it!  When you do you’ll begin to learn that rest is a gift, it is refreshing, it is freeing and yes it is fun!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why I am going on Sabbatical

In just under 2 weeks I'll be beginning a journey.  It's a journey that will last for three months but I pray will have an impact that lasts far longer.  In just under 2 weeks I'll be going on Sabbatical.

I've been in ministry now for about 11 years.  During that time, by the grace of God I've planted one church and led another through a restart, I've coached a dozen pastors, preached hundreds of messages, conducted weddings and funerals, some for elderly saints, some for unbelievers, and tragically some for those at the very dawn of their lives.  I've laughed with folks, I've cried with folks, I've balanced budgets, purchased and overseen the renovation of an extension to our property, written a doctoral thesis and been privileged to lead people to Christ, baptize them and walk with them in discipleship.  All the while I've tried to do this while balancing the holy task of being a husband and father and while battling a chronic health condition.  Sometimes I have done well, sometimes not so well, but through it all, God has been faithful.

Through these years I've tried to guard a day of rest each week and I've tried to be intentional about taking vacations, but I've never had a Sabbatical before.  I'm excited about it, but I'm also a little nervous.  You see, I'm good at "going," but when it comes to "stopping," not so much!

As I prepare to embark on this journey for the next 3 months, I thought I would share just a few of the reasons why I'm taking this Sabbatical:

For rest and refreshment: The truth is I'm feeling tired.  I love what God has called me to do.  I can't imagine doing anything other than preaching His Word, but sometimes we need to take time to stop and sharpen the axe.  So I'm not going to have any early morning meetings over the next 3 months.  Some days I'll get up early sit on the porch and with a cup of coffee in one hand and a Bible in the other I'll wake the dawn with God.  Other days, I'll sleep in until my children come and pull the covers off and start bouncing on my bed.  I'll read the things that I've been wanting to read without having to think about what I'm teaching this week, and I'll trust God to teach me this thing that I have never been very good at, to rest.

To spend time with my family: I can count on one hand the number of times that our family has been to church together over the last 11 years.  The rest of the time I arrive early and leave late while Lisa gets the kids ready and packs them up in the van to get them here on time for the service.  It's going to be great (and kind of strange) to do this together this summer.  I'm looking forward to not having to say, "Daddy's got a meeting tonight so I won't be home for dinner."  I'm looking forward to reading bedtimes stories every night, to taking day trips and to making as many memories as I can.

For the sake of love: I wish it wasn't the case, but it is - the hurts, the issues, the hospital visits some times leave me a little desensitized.  I want to love, I want to extend compassion but it isn't always easy.  Ultimately in this like every other area of ministry I try to rely on the Spirit God but I'll confess this has been getting harder to do in recent months.  So I'm taking Sabbatical to allow God to recharge my compassion quota.

For the good of the church: I serve an amazing church!  We have great elders and an incredible staff team that I count it an honor to work with.  This Sabbatical is going to be a blessing to our church.  It's going to allow our staff and elders to grow in some areas that they just couldn't do with me around.  It's going to allow the congregation to hear from people that they don't usually get to hear from (in addition to our Pastoral team and Elders we have some great guest speakers coming in).  And it's going to be a healthy reminder that the work of the gospel, the ministry of the church is not dependent upon Pastor Tim (not exactly a startling revelation!!).

For the longevity of ministry: I just turned 37, which means that if the Lord should tarry and if He should choose to grant me breath, I may still have a lot of years ahead of me.  Studies show an almost impossibly startling statistic, that 1,700 Pastors leave the ministry every month (source: churchleaders.com).  I don't want to be a statistic, I don't want to burn out and I don't want to disqualify myself.  Instead I want to do everything possible to make sure that I am still faithfully and fruitfully discharging the ministry I have been called to on that day when Jesus returns or calls me home.  So I'm going to take a pit-stop for the next three months to get ready for next part of the race.

On a final note, people have been asking me, "So, are you coming back?"  I do not take for granted the fact that our Elders are graciously extending this Sabbatical to me.  Sadly many churches do not make Sabbaticals available to their Pastor (shame on you!).  I think it is only right and appropriate that after granting me this time that The Orchard Church should get to share in the blessings that will come from this.  So yes, I intend to be back in August, and I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for the next season.

For now, beginning May 9 please excuse the "out of the office" reply that my email will kick back to you - but the Pastor has left the building (and that's a good thing)!

Picture is of St Ives Bay, Cornwall, England near where I grew up and where we will be spending a portion of my Sabbatical.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Resurrection Is Essential!

Easter is a wonderful and rich time of remembrance and celebration. We remember on Good Friday the willing and costly sacrifice that Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God made on our behalf.  In dying on the cross He made payment for sins.  As the Apostle Paul says, God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).  Then on Easter Sunday we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead having conquered death and hell.

Tragically today however, the resurrection often gets a backseat, it gets presented almost as an after-thought,  or worse still it is ignored entirely.  Countless polls even indicate that many who consider themselves to be "born-again" Christians do not actually believe in the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

But the resurrection is more than an after thought, it's more than a secondary issue.  The whole of the Christian faith is hinged upon it!

The Resurrection is the Central Truth of the Gospel!
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, the Apostle Paul includes the resurrection as one of two essential truths of the gospel message.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Furthermore, a review of the preaching of the apostles in the book of Acts shows that the resurrection was not just a vital element, but was usually the emphasis of each message.  This is not surprising, for only a living Jesus can save mankind from the penalty and power of sin.

The Resurrection is the Central Truth of Christianity!
The resurrection is essential to the gospel message because it is the central truth of the Christian faith.  In 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 Paul emphasizes:

If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 

The Resurrection provides a Basis for Justification!
The provision for justification was made when Jesus Christ died on the cross.  By paying the penalty for our sin, He provided forgiveness for sinners. Thus, God can justly declare the one who repents righteous on the basis of his or her faith in Christ.

Romans 4:25 specifically speaks of the resurrection as being for the purpose of our justification.  The death of Jesus was necessary to make payment for our sins, and according to this verse, His resurrection was necessary for our justification.  In the resurrection God’s demonstrated that He has accepted Jesus’ death as full payment for sin, therefore we can confidently place our trust in that sacrifice and be justified by God.

The Resurrection provides the Basis for the New Life of a Believer!
The basis for our new life in Christ is laid through the resurrection in 2 primary ways:

1. Jesus’ resurrection and ascension make Him the new authority over the believer (see Ephesians 1:20-22). The authority of sin which used to bind us in broken, and our rightful authority is Christ.

2. The believer participates in Jesus’ resurrection by faith (Romans 6:1-11). God, by our faith considers us to have died and rise again with Christ. His death removes us from the realm of sin, and His resurrection places us into the realm of righteousness. This incredible truth is to impact our daily lives and every action and decision (Rom 6:11).

The Resurrection of Jesus Guarantees the Resurrection of All Believers!
As we have already seen, Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15 that apart from the promise that all believers will experience the same kind of resurrection as Jesus did (literal and physical) the resurrection has no meaning.
A few verses further on in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul states in verses 20-22,

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

The idea that Jesus is the first fruit is an agricultural picture of first or early harvest that points to the certainty and quality of the rest of the harvest that is to follow.

The resurrection of all believers will come at the return of Christ:
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

The Resurrection proves the Deity of Christ!
Jesus demonstrated His deity in the miracles that He performed, in His authoritative teaching and in His display of knowledge.  However, none of these would be remembered today if death had defeated Him.  Therefore Paul could say in Romans 1:4:

…[He]was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord…

The resurrection was the ultimate demonstration of the deity of Jesus!

This Easter we proclaim that Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again!  This essential truth is worth celebrating!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

31 Days of Prayer for Easter

This 31 Day Prayer Guide serves to focus and unite our prayers as we approach our Easter services. Please begin praying with us on March 1 and continue through March 31 (Easter Day!).

March 1           Thank God for the people who have given their lives to Christ at The Orchard and pray that God would use us for His purpose and glory this Easter.

March 2           Pray for the Movie & a Dog fundraiser tonight for our mission teams.  Pray for the mission trips coming up this summer and fall and that God would be preparing hearts.

March 3           Pray that each person in our church would be consumed with a passion for souls leading up to Easter and beyond.

March 4           Pray for wisdom for The Orchard Staff to lead their ministry areas in preparation for Easter.

March 5           Pray that our children, and our Ozone students would be inspired with boldness to share Jesus in their schools and invite their friends this Easter.

March 6           Pray for Pastor Tim as he prepares the Easter message and that God would anoint him to communicate that message at the Easter services.

March 7           Pray that God will raise up more volunteers to serve in the ministry teams at The Orchard.  Pray too for Pastor Tim as he is travelling today and tomorrow.

March 8           Pray that every volunteer would be focused and enabled to fulfill their responsibility in a way that is honoring to Christ.

March 9           Pray for those being baptized tomorrow that they will continue to grow in their faith and be bold for Christ.

March 10         Pray that God will give us as a church as greater passion for prayer and that tonight’s Prayer First gathering will be a powerful time led by His Spirit.

March 11         Pray that our desire to become a Generous Church compels us to make a greater impact in our community and world this Easter.  Pray that God would show you how He would have you grow in generosity.

March 12         Pray that each of us would be passionate about inviting people to Easter and that God would give us opportunities to invite those who don’t know Christ or have wandered away from their faith.

March 13         Pray for the people who come to our Easter services to be receptive to the gospel and for courage to make Jesus Lord of their lives. Pray for those who need to rededicate their lives and make a commitment to put God first.

March 14         Pray for more Growth Group leaders and disciplers to help people get connected and become fully functioning followers of Christ.

March 15         Pray for you. Pray that you will understand that souls are at stake so that you do your part in helping people come to know Christ this Easter.

March 16         Pray that our Easter services would unite our church like never before with a focus to evangelize and disciple our community.

March 17         Pray that we will break our record Easter attendance so that more people hear the gospel in this place than ever before.

March 18         Pray that all the components (worship, media, etc.) of our Easter services to flow smoothly.

March 19         Pray against the work of Satan. Pray for all hindrances to be removed that would keep people from receiving Christ as their Savior this Easter.

March 20         Pray that God would draw the hearts of those who receive our postcard in the mail to come Easter weekend.

March 21         Pray for the other Bible teaching churches in our community that God will use them this Easter to bring in a great harvest of souls.  Remember specifically: Alliance Bible Church, First Baptist, Maranatha Assembly, Meadowland, McHenry EV Free, The Chapel, Wonder Lake Bible.

March 22         Pray again for those you have invited to come and that God would do whatever is necessary to bring them in.

March 23         Pray that the children who attend the Easter Egg Hunt today would understand who Jesus is and that He loves them.

March 24         Pray for Hansen Voss and our worship team as they lead us each week and as they prepare for our Easter services.  Pray that God would be honored in our worship.

March 25         Pray that every heart present this Easter would be good soil and that even now God will be preparing every person who will come.

March 26         Pray that nobody who God is drawing this Easter would be distracted or prevented from coming and hearing His voice.

March 27         Praise God that He loves this community more than we ever could, and ask Him to give us a greater love and greater sense of urgency for our neighbors.

March 28         Pray for Pastor Tim, Pastor Scott and Pastor Dennis, Hansen Voss and Deb Dressler for strength and grace in the midst of this very busy week.

March 29         Pray for our Good Friday service this evening that lives will be changed.

March 30         Pray for our greeters and parking lot attendants that their welcome would be used by God to break down barriers and stereotypes and put our guests at ease.

March 31         Pray for many lives to be changed today!

Monday, February 25, 2013


I recently shared an old Puritan Prayer with the people of The Orchard Church, where I serve.  I've had so many requests for a copy of it that I decided to post it here.

We've been looking at the calling that followers of Jesus have to be a set-apart, holy people.  One vital element of a life that is consistent with our calling is submission.

This prayer comes from a compilation of Puritan Prayers entitled "The Valley of Vision"  edited by Arthur Bennett.  Here's the link for it on Amazon (I heartily recommend it!)

I hope that your heart resonates with this as mine does.  Let me know!

O God of the highest heaven,
Occupy the throne of my heart,
         take full possession and reign supreme,
   lay low every rebel lust,
   let no vile passion resist thy holy war;
   manifest thy mighty power,
     and make me thine for ever.

Thou art worthy to be
   praised with my every breath,
   loved with my every faculty of soul,
   served with my every act of life.

Thou hast loved me, espoused me, received me,
   purchased, washed, favoured, clothed,
     adorned me,
   when I was worthless, vile, soiled, polluted.

I was dead in iniquities,
   having no eyes to see thee,
   no ears to hear thee,
   no taste to relish thy joys,
   no intelligence to know thee;
But thy Spirit has quickened me,
   has brought me into a new world as a
     new creature,
   has given me spiritual perception,
   has opened to me thy Word as light, guide,
     solace, joy.

Thy presence is to me a treasure of unending peace;
No provocation can part me from thy sympathy,
   for thou hast drawn me with cords of love,
   and dost forgive me daily, hourly.
O help me then to walk worthy of thy love,
   of my hopes, and my vocation.

Keep me, for I cannot keep myself;
Protect me that no evil befall me;
Let me lay aside every sin admired of many;
Help me to walk by thy side, lean on thy arm,
   hold converse with thee,
That henceforth I may be salt of the earth
   and a blessing to all.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Still Stuck -part 2

In my last article I talked about the importance of being intentional about growth.  The problem is that unless we are deliberate about learning, growing, developing and maturing in our life and faith, we almost certainly will not!

So here's a way to develop a 1 Year Personal Growth Plan, that can help you get out of the rut.  This is a tool that I have used personally for several years, and I have seen it pay great dividends in the lives of some of the leaders that I coach and mentor.  Several of the principles involved are based on Developing a One Year Growth Plan by Nelson Searcy.  The purpose of it is not to try to accomplish your own plans by your own effort, but rather to begin to seek God specifically and consistently about where He is wanting to work in your life and to lead you in the year ahead.  The great thing about it is that you can get started today!

Steps to an effective Personal Growth Plan

1. Pray! Seek the Lord concerning what He is doing in your life and where He desires to work.

2. Write down some categories on a sheet of paper and spend time reflecting on them and asking the Lord to teach you how to honor Him in each area, examples might be as follows:
  • Rest & Refreshment
  • Spiritual Growth/Relationship with God
  • Educational Learning/Personal Development
  • Family
  • Other – this may include: financial, physical, professional or church related
3. Prayerfully turn the categories into outcome statements e.g. Learn how to incorporate refreshing times of rest into my weekly, monthly and annual schedule. Then ask God to give you wisdom as to some specific steps to accomplish each outcome. Try not to make your list too long!

4. Reflect on what you have written down and consider are these:
  • Consistent with Biblical Teaching
  • Important in your life 
  • Motivated by personal pride or by the prompting of God 
  • Things that you have to trust God for or things that you are trying to do by your own effort (I like try each year to as the Lord to show we one specific thing that is utterly impossible for me, that I must trust Him for) 
5.   Turn these ideas into goals – Make sure your goals are:

Specific – instead of saying “I want to grow in my walk with God” be specific, for example “I want to grow in my walk with God by spending daily time in prayer, Bible study and journaling.” One area where most believers need to be specific is in their Bible reading and study, what will you read and when?

Measurable – You have to be able to evaluate whether you are following your plan. Instead of saying “I want to pray more” you could say “I want to dedicate at least 10 minutes every day to prayer)

Achievable – Goals should challenge, but they should not frustrate! It is better to begin with a few goals than a long list of them. Often times we over-estimate what we can do in a couple of months but under-estimate what we can do in a year.

Realistic – It has been said that the Christian life is more like a marathon than a sprint. If you have never run a race before it is foolish to think you can run a marathon without working up to it. Is your desire to spend 3 hours a day in prayer realistic? Maybe you could start by saying “I will spend 20 minutes each day in prayer this month and plan to add 5 more minutes each month”

Timely – When do you plan to begin and how long do you plan to measure this over?

6.  Review what you have come up with and take a few minutes to pray through each one

7. List the resources that you need to get in order to work on your goals (e.g. If you plan to read a particular book then you may need to go out and buy it, or if you plan to begin journaling then you need to make sure you have a journal)

8. Mark on a calendar important dates associated with your plan

9. Share your plan with someone else and ask them to pray for you and help to keep you accountable

10. Keep a copy of your plan somewhere you will look at it regularly and be sure to take time to pray over it and evaluate it regularly

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Still stuck in the same place?

To me one of the most tragic things to see is someone who is stuck, and who is perfectly okay with that.  A person who basically hasn't changed, hasn't learned, hasn't grown in years.  We all can think of that one teacher who bored us to tears as he taught year after year from exactly the same yellowed notes.  Or perhaps that former class-mate who graduated with us years ago but still hangs out on the same corner doing about the same things as he did when he is was 15.

Sadly many leaders fall into the same trap too.  They are diligent, they learn, they adapt, they innovate and then when they reach that position of leadership, they stop, they coast, and ultimately they decline and usually so does the ministry or the organization that they are leading.  Nelson Searcy, a Pastor and Leadership Coach from Manhattan has said, “If you are in the same place as you were a year ago, your ministry will be in the same place too!”  For those in leadership that ought to scare us into action.  But the same is true for husbands, wives, fathers and mothers.  If we are not growing eventually we will find ourselves in danger of stalling out.

I believe that it is imperative that every follower of Jesus Christ be deliberate and intentional about growing, and growing in their walk with Christ in particular.

Here are a few thoughts on why you need to be intentional about getting unstuck and taking the next step in your spiritual growth:

1. Growth does not happen by accident.
Often times people will be critical of the idea of having a Spiritual Growth plan.  They will insist that it is too mechanical, somehow thinking that automatically makes it fake.  Yet we make plans for everything else that we take seriously from “to do lists” to travel itineraries and diets.  It isn’t said for no reason, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Intentional Growth takes intentionality!

2. It is the responsibility of every individual believer to invest in their Spiritual Growth.The Apostle Paul tells Timothy to "train yourself for godliness" (1 Tim 4:7).  And he writes to the church in Philippi exhorting them:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil 2:12-13)

We are to deliberately and actively cooperate and yes, even work in partnership with the Holy Spirit for our sanctification.

3. Others are watching our example!
If you are a parent, your children are looking to you to set the example for them.  If you are a spiritual couch potato there is a good chance they will grow up to believe that Christianity is pointless and irrelevant - because that is what you're communicating!

But it's not just our kids, when we don't take the Christian life seriously, why would we ever expect our unbelieving neighbors and coworkers to ever do so?

4. None of us will arrive until we arrive!
The only time that a follower of Jesus Christ can stop growing is when we stand before Him face to face - because only then will be be complete!  Actually, even then I believe that we will spend all eternity learning with utter amazement in the presence of His unsearchable greatness.

5. We will all give an account!
In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus speaks of a master who entrusts a different amount of money (talents) to 3 servants.  The first one receives 5 talents and puts them to work and makes 5 more.  The second servant receives 2 talents and after putting them to work makes 2 more.  The third servant is given 1 talent, but he does nothing with it.  After some time, when the master returns he calls all 3 servants to give an account.  He praises and rewards the first two but to the third he says, "You wicked and slothful servant!"  That servant is stripped of the 1 talent that he does have and is cast out.

Everyone of us has been entrusted a certain number of days on this earth, certain gifts, certain resources and abilities, and there is coming a day when we will give an account of how we used them.  "I was busy watching TV" won't cut it.  I for one want to hear "Well done good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your master."

6. The best is yet to come!
A Christian who puts there faith in Jesus Christ and never grows is like a person who goes to concert, enjoys the warm-up act and leaves before the headliner ever gets on stage.  Coming to faith in Christ is a truly amazing thing, but even that pales in comparison to growing toward maturity in Him, to knowing Him more and more.  If you are standing still, you are missing out.

So how about it?  Are you growing or are you stuck?  Are you in the same place that you were a year ago or are you actively pushing forward, deliberately training yourself for godliness?

In part 2 I will be sharing a process for prayerfully and practically developing a 1 year personal growth plan.