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Posts tagged ‘Talents’

Supernatural Animation – Conductor or Resistor?

Unlocking Our PotentialKey Bible Verse: “If you believe in me, come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within.”John 7:38

Bonus Reading: Matthew 4:18-20Mark 10:28-30

An analogy from electricity can help us think about our response to God.

The difference between a conductor and a resistor can be put like this: A conductor is willing to let go. It’s not generating its own power; it is simply a conduit. It’s open and receptive to the flow of current that can change the world from darkness to light. Every other desire has to take a back seat to this one absolute quest. The conductor prays, “As you wish.”

A resistor, by contrast, doesn’t want to let go. It hangs onto its electrons. It clings to the status quo. It’s afraid to let go because it wants to keep its possessions intact. And so it does. But the resistor never knows much power. The resistor prays, “Leave me alone.”

We live in a spiritually charged universe. The flow of the Holy Spirit is all around us. We did not invent it, but it has now become fully available.

When Jesus uttered today’s Key Bible Verse, John’s gospel explains that Jesus was talking about the Spirit. We do not have much power in our wills, but we can choose whether we will be resistors or conductors. And our prayer will be answered.

—John Ortberg in God Is Closer Than You Think

My Response: Do I lean toward cautious reluctance or joyful surrender?

Thought to Apply: The Gulf Stream can pass through a straw if the straw aligns itself with the Gulf Stream.—Anne Lamott (author)

Adapted from God Is Closer Than You Think (Zondervan, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.


Supernatural Animation – Thrill Zone

Unlocking Our PotentialKey Bible Verse: “For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  – Jeremiah 29:11

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:10-14

[continued from yesterday]  Mission field? Rich chuckled. What work of God needs a whiz at budgets and flow charts? World Vision. They called in 1998: Would you become our CEO? Rich knew this ministry championed the cause of the poor. But why did they want him to take a 75 percent pay cut to head, not a business, but a ministry? He declined.

World Vision persisted, persuading Rich to take a day-long skills inventory. The results convinced its board that Rich was made for the job. “This is a chance to marry your gifts with God’s call,” urged board member Bill Hybels. “When you do that, you enter the zone in which you were made to live.” Rich prayed—and took the leap, swapping porcelain sales for relief efforts, marketing meetings for strategy sessions on AIDS.

Has he regretted it? “This is the fulfillment of who I was created to be,” Rich Stearns insists. He quotes today’s Key Bible Verse. “Looking back, I can see the plan. I wonder why I waited 23 years.”

World Vision has no regrets either. In Rich’s first six years, its annual budget jumped from $350- to $807 million, making it the largest relief organization ever. Now the underdog from Syracuse helps the world’s underdogs—and loves every minute.

—Max Lucado in Cure for the Common Life

My Response: How may fulfillment be different from fun?

Thought to Apply: I became my own only when I gave myself to Another.—C.S. Lewis (British scholar & apologist)

Adapted from Cure for the Common Life (W Publishing, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.


Supernatural Animation – Underdog to Top Dog

Unlocking Our PotentialKey Bible Verse: God has given gifts to each of you … so that God’s generosity can flow through you. 1 Peter 4:10

Bonus Reading: 1 Peter 4:10-11

Ten-year-old Rich trembled as his parents yelled in the next room. Father drinking again. Never enough money or work.

My parents can’t help me, he realized. I’ve got to make it on my own. Education would be his bus ticket out of scarcity. A scholarship got him to Cornell; hard work made the grades. Rich recruited a ragtag team of students like himself to play volleyball. They trounced the prestigious frat squads!

Awarded a scholarship to Wharton, Rich earned an MBA and found the two loves of his life: Reneé and Jesus. Reneé suggested registering their wedding at a department store’s china section. The advocate for the underdog refused. “As long as there are hungry children, we shouldn’t have china or crystal.”

The business world came easily for Rich. By age 33 he occupied the CEO office for Parker Brothers, the game company. Eleven years later he was CEO of Lenox China and Crystal. But something seemed off balance. The groom who’d resisted the china registry was selling fine dinnerware to the wealthy! Rich restlessly considered moving to Boca Raton and playing golf. “No way!” Reneé retorted. “If we retire, it’ll be to the mission field.”  [continued tomorrow]

—Max Lucado in Cure for the Common Life

My Response: I’ll make time to review what my passion is.

Thought to Apply: The giants of faith all had one thing in common: neither victory not success, but passion.—Philip Yancey (author)

Adapted from Cure for the Common Life (W Publishing, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.


Supernatural Animation – Max’s Lost Max

Unlocking Our PotentialKey Bible Verse: God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.  – Romans 12:6

Bonus Reading: Romans 12:4-11

“Describe times when you did something you love to do and did it well” was my assignment from organizational consultant Rick Wellock.  My list included:

  • Delivering an election-winning speech to the high school freshman class.
  • Neglecting other homework to write and rewrite short stories for a literature course.
  • Presenting my first Bible lesson. Stunned that the middle schoolers listened.

The counselor studied my list, then asked, “What one word describes your passion?”

“Message,” I replied without hesitation.

“Does your calendar reflect your passion?” he asked. We reviewed six months of meetings, fund-raising, and facility development. “Seems like you are sitting on a lot of planning committees,” he observed.

“I assumed I should since I’m the minister.”

“What do you discuss in these meetings?”

“Paint color. Parking lot size. City building codes.”

“Do you enjoy them?”

“Slightly more than open-heart surgery.”

“Do people turn to you for strategic-planning advice?”


My exhaustion made sudden sense. I was operating out of my weakness, doing the most what I do the worst!

—Max Lucado in Cure for the Common Life

My Response: Am I neglecting my strengths?

Adapted from Cure for the Common Life (W Publishing, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.


Supernatural Animation – Living Color

Unlocking Our PotentialWho Said It…Lee Strobel

Lee Strobel grew up in a Christian home, but turned atheist after encountering evolution in high school. He studied journalism and law, becoming an investigative reporter, then legal affairs editor at the Chicago Tribune.

A chance news assignment renewed his interest in God. After a nearly two-year investigation of the evidence for Jesus, Strobel received Christ as his forgiver and leader. Here he shares what nudged him to a new role as an author and teacher of apologetics.

What He Said…Living Color

One day, out of nowhere, my boss at the newspaper asked me why I was a Christian. I’d never explained that to anybody. But I closed his office door and talked for 45 minutes about the difference Jesus was making in my life and what it means to become His follower.

When I emerged from his office, it was as if my entire life up until that meeting had been a movie shot in very grainy black-and-white film with scratchy sound—but this 45 minutes had been in bright, vivid Technicolor with rich Dolby stereo! Instantly I knew that from that day forward I wanted to develop and deploy my evangelism gift in any way I could.

There’s a unique sense of fulfillment that comes when we submit our gifts to God’s use and ask him to energize them in a supernatural way—and then step back to watch what He does. It can be the difference between merely existing in black and white and living a life in full, brilliant color.

Adapted from God’s Outrageous Claims (Zondervan, 1997, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.


Make Your Talents Count – Moving Mountains

Building HomesKey Bible Verse:  Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young.  Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.   1 Timothy 4:12

Dig Deeper:  John 14:12-14

Austin has a book out with a title that reiterates the point of  today’s reading Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself.  One of the Bible verses Austin reflects upon as he speaks about Hoops of Hope is today’s Key Bible Verse.

“I’m happy and I’m proud that kids are finally seeing that they can make a difference at a young age, that they don’t have to wait to be an adult,” Austin said.  “At the same time, it’s hard to be proud of what we’ve done when you go to Africa and see how much more there is to do.”

Wow!  The faith of a child—a child who saw a video about orphans in Africa, and refused to let the memory of it die.  A child who felt a burden and realized, with God’s help, he could move mountains.

Maybe you’re a high school teacher who’s been entrusted with a classroom full of students.  How will you steward the hearts and minds of those kids who’ve been placed in your care?

Say you’re a college student.  You’ve been entrusted with an education.  What will you do with that knowledge and experience?  How will you invest it for the good of others?

—Bob Westfall in The Fulfillment Principle


My Response: What talents have I been given?  How can I better use them to serve God and bless others?


Thought to Apply: The world asks, “What does a man own?”  Christ asks, “How does he use it?” —Andrew Murray (South African writer, teacher, pastor)

Adapted from The Fulfillment Principle (Leafwood, 2012)



Prayer for the Week:  Giver of all good gifts, help me to be aware of the talents with which you have equipped me; give me a vision for ways to use them for your kingdom.

Make Your Talents Count – Hoops of Hope

Hoops of HopeKey Bible Verse:  Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress.  James 1:27

Dig Deeper:  Matthew 25:34-40

There is a young man in Arizona by the name of Austin Gutwein who, at the ripe old age of 10, saw a video about a girl in Africa who lost her parents to HIV/AIDS, and it gripped his heart.  He learned that 5,700 children are orphaned each day because of HIV/AIDS, and that 15 million children have already lost one or both parents to the disease.

“That hit me hard,” recalls Austin, now 16.  “I felt God calling me to go do something about it.”  A friend suggested Austin use his favorite sport, basketball, to make a difference.

He got some friends involved in shooting free-throws to raise money for those children in Africa.  God used the faith of that little kid from Arizona and he birthed Hoops of Hope (, which has since become the world’s largest free-throw marathon.

Some 40,000 children have participated in Hoops of Hope, raising more than $2.5 million and allowing the organization to build a school in Zambia where there was no school for 70 miles.  Not only that, Hoops of Hope has partnered with World Vision to build four dormitories for students of the school, two medical clinics, a computer lab, and more.

—Bob Westfall in The Fulfillment Principle


My Response:  What gets me excited?  How can I use that passion to serve others?


Thought to Apply:  Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much.—Erich Fromm (psychologist)

Adapted from The Fulfillment Principle (Leafwood, 2012)



Prayer for the Week:  Giver of all good gifts, help me to be aware of the talents with which you have equipped me; give me a vision for ways to use them for your kingdom.

Make Your Talents Count – Man on a Mission

Building Homes for the PoorKey Bible Verse:  Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless.  Isaiah 58:7

Dig Deeper:  Isaiah 58:6-12

Sean Lambert is president of Youth With a Mission San Diego/Baja.  While on a mission trip in Tijuana, Sean and his daughter, Andrea, joined a team of 15 people to build a house for a poverty-stricken family.

When the house was complete and the family moved in, Andrea pointed out another poor family living in an abandoned bus adjacent to the new home being built and said, “Daddy, are you going to build them a house?”

Andrea’s words moved Sean to build a second house and Homes of Hope was born.  Starting with this single house in Tijuana, Mexico, Homes of Hope has now built 3,482 homes for poor families in 10 different nations.

One of the “talents” knitted into Sean’s make-up is his compassion for the poor.  He was faithful with the one house God sent him to build and so God put him in charge of many.  Today, Homes of Hope impacts needy families in five key areas: economic, educational, health, social and emotional, and spiritual.

Sean is an excellent example of someone who took small, simple steps in obeying God, entering into all God wanted to do in and through his life in a ministry that is now impacting 10 other nations … and growing!

—Bob Westfall in The Fulfillment Principle


My Response:  I will think about people who are less fortunate than I am, and consider ways I can help meet their needs.

Adapted from The Fulfillment Principle (Leafwood, 2012)



Prayer for the Week:  Giver of all good gifts, help me to be aware of the talents with which you have equipped me; give me a vision for ways to use them for your kingdom.

Make Your Talents Count – Invest Your Talents

Parable of the TalentsKey Study Passage:  2 Corinthians 9:6-15

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written,

“He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
    his righteousness[a] endures forever.”

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.[b] 11 You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12 for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. 13 Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!  


Who Said It … Bob Westfall

Bob Westfall is president of the Westfall Group, which serves charities and Christian ministries in financial stewardship and communications.  His company has helped charities raise more than $210 million in new income for their valuable work.

He frequently speaks at national conferences and to charity boards, philanthropists, churches, and other groups, and is the author of The Fulfillment Principle.  

He currently lives in Suwanee, Georgia, with his wife, Kim. They are the parents of four children.


What he Said … Invest Your Talents

The word “talent” spoken of in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) is a measure of weight and, in this usage, means “money.”  As in many of Christ’s parables, however, the story contains multiple layers of meaning and wisdom.  God gives us something of his to invest—according to our ability.

Although God may have given you five talents and me two and someone else one, he views us each the same.  Just because you have more does not mean God views you as more valuable or important.

Indeed, God sees us all as equal; he values us the same.  And what he truly values most is the way you and I steward the talents he’s entrusted into our lives.

How do we invest those talents?  Are we fruitful?  Do we get good return on the deposit he’s made in our lives?

What talent—be it treasure or ability or passion or skill—has God entrusted to you according to your unique ability?  What passion has he woven into your heart, and only your heart?

Adapted from The Fulfillment Principle (Leafwood, 2012)


Prayer for the Week:  Giver of all good gifts, help me to be aware of the talents with which you have equipped me; give me a vision for ways to use them for your kingdom.



Giving – What Does it Really Mean?

Central Church Decorated for Christmas

Central Church Decorated for Christmas

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh Matthew 2:11



Okay, okay, we’ve heard it over and over again. But maybe the subject of giving is one that we need reminders over and over again in order to get it right. Giving doesn’t necessarily mean buying out the mall and running up huge balances on your credit cards.


Granted, the Magi gave gold, incense and myrrh, some of the most valuable gifts possible at that time. But those guys could afford it! They wouldn’t still be paying off their Mastercard bill when the next Christmas rolled around!



So why do you and I frantically buy and buy and buy at Christmas? Because we want to give and give and give… because we love these people and we want to show it. True. And there’s nothing wrong with giving brightly wrapped packages full of wonderful things at Christmas – or at any other time of the year.


But if we truly love, if we truly want to illustrate that love, instead of following the example of the Magi, we’ll follow the example of our Lord – and give of ourselves. For instance, we can give our time – probably one of the most valuable intangible commodities today.



How much time do you spend talking with (not at – with) your children? How much time do you spend doing little things to make life easier for those around you? How much time do you spend serving the Lord in real ways? How much time do you devote to putting others first in a real way? If you fall short in any of these areas, commit right now to increase that time at least 100% every day in the coming year.



There are other kinds of giving – like giving in. In these days of assertiveness training, why not go against the flow and let the other person win once in a while? Compromise with your child on an issue that has been a war zone for months (obviously, the issue needs to be one that won’t damage the child if you give in a little!). Let your co-worker win an argument for a change. Give the gift of a peaceful atmosphere by giving in.


Give of your talents.

  • Good with a hammer? Give that single woman a hand with some repairs around her house.
  • Good with a needle and thread? Help that single guy with button replacement and seams that have come loose.
  • Good with art? Offer to help out with church publications.
  • Got a little extra time? Volunteer at church or at one of the many ministries around town that can always use another pair of hands.
  • And how many times have you hugged your kids today?            



Before you head for the mall to pick up those last minute packages, take a few moments to look at the level of giving in your life every day. How much of you do you really give?

Commit today to follow our Lord’s example in giving, and give yourself to others every day. Remember, you can “lay down your life” in many ways that don’t include dying!



Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  – John 15:13


Central Church's Chrismon Tree

Central Church’s Chrismon Tree