Tuesday, September 18, 2012
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Beware of the third generation! Yeah! That's an intriguing phenomenon that often takes place in a family business. The first generation starts it with nothing but a dream. They work long hours, they sacrifice, and they keep their vision alive. Then, the second generation starts to take over the business, and well, they may improve it a little; they might expand it a little bit, but they basically tend to maintain the vision of the founding generation.
Then along comes the grandchildren, and they begin to take over. Now, they've never had to sacrifice for the cause, they didn't see their parents sacrifice much. For them, it's like just an income source, not a vehicle for a vision they want to carry out. Many management people know that if the business can survive that third generation, it may make it. But often, every time you pass the torch, the flame burns a little lower, and sometimes it burns out.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Burning Brighter Than Ever."
Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Timothy 1. Realize that Paul is writing his last letter before he is martyred for the cause of Christ. He's concerned about the next generations of Christians, all that he bled for and all he's soon going to die for. More importantly, all that Jesus died for. The torch must be passed!
In 2 Timothy 1:14, he says to young Timothy - the next generation, "Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you. Guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." Then in chapter 2, verse 2, he says, "Don't stop there." He even talks about a third generation, "...and the things you've heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, you entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others."
Now, Paul is saying here, "Don't drop my life's work. Don't drop the torch, man!" See, something insidious is happening, I think, as our faith in Christ passes from one generation to the next. I had a woman tell me not too long ago, "Our grandparents reordered their lives." They just understood that you organized your life differently in order to have a lot of money to give to the Lord's work. You just live that way; that becomes the center of your financial planning. As you look at the studies now you find out that the parent's generation is giving less than their parent's generation to God's work, and the grandchildren's generation is holding on to more than ever.
See, that first generation of believers may have a lot of vision; they started things in Jesus' name. They gave to the Lord's work first. And then the next generation, just like in a business, sort of maintained the vision, the programs of the founders. Then comes the third generation, and they kind of yawn and sort of take it all for granted. Meet the spiritual minimums, and the flame starts to flicker and die. Don't let that happen.
What God urgently needs right now is a new generation of spiritual pioneers who will become a new first generation with a new vision - risk takers, people who pray for miracles again, people who think up daring new ways to reach the lost. He's looking for some modern heroes who will lead the church into a new era of boldness, who will resist the seduction of material comfort and security. We need a new dream! We need young leaders to lead it!
Has the torch started to flicker just a little in your hands; a torch passed by some folks who sacrificed to make a difference? Well, commit yourself to a holy, new fire so the flame that has been fueled by the lives of those who ran before us can burn more brightly than ever in your hands.