What's Yours?

What’s yours?

Haven’t thought about it much? “I’ll concern myself with that later,” you say?

“That’s not for me to worry about or concern myself with. I’ll let others determine that.”

While staying with my friend Rod in New Orleans over the past few months as I’ve worked with his church I have been thinking a lot about “legacy.” Walking with Rod as he wrestles daily with the most significant loss of his life [the sudden and tragic death of his wife, Karen] I have been contemplating the end of things. Does all our effort pay off in the end? When life is suddenly over, will the investments and invitations I have made be something that has enduring value? What legacy do the investments I’ve made and invitations I’ve extended really leave?

Legacy has two sides. We are recipients and distributors. As recipients we have been entrusted with someone else’s gifts. As distributors we share what we have received.

Legacy is established now. Legacy is created daily. Decision by decision you leave a legacy. You cannot determine it later. After you are gone, you have no influence or control on what you leave behind. TODAY is the day to live your legacy.

During the month of October we invite you to stop and consider your legacy. Stop and think a moment about what your invitations and investments mean. What legacy will they leave?

 

Our Inheritance

This is taken a bit out of context, and yet the same principle applies. Far too much of the time we treat things as if they   belong to us, as if we have earned them on our own, as if we deserve them, as if we own them. Our attitudes and actions betray the fact that we consider the things of this world anything but a gift.

God tells His people over and over to remember, to remember what He has done. And it’s quite apparent what when people don’t remember God, gifts become gods and life gets flipped upside down.

A few weeks ago [as I’m writing this], Pastor Jeff challenged us to see how long it takes every day to stop and praise God, to thank Him for what He has done, and for His blessings, and to record how long it took, and what we thanked Him for. This is the first challenge I’ve really done in a while, and I have to say, it changed my attitude a lot of the time. Not only was I praising Him earlier, but I was praising Him more often, and I found myself looking more for His blessings throughout the day.

Over these next two months we’re exploring things that get in our way, and our legacy, or what we do with what we have been given. What will you do with what you have been entrusted with, with what you have inherited?

I want to start from a place of thanksgiving, and recognizing that God is the Creator and owner of all things, the giver of all blessings, the only true God, who loves all people and wants   all people to be saved. It’s not like this isn’t something I know, but I realized over the week of the original challenge that the daily reminder helped me operate from that truth, instead of just being able to answer the quiz question correctly. Since I want that to be my starting point, I am going to extend Pastor Jeff’s challenge a 1 month challenge, beginning today. 

Take a piece of paper [more if you need] and every day for the next month write down what time you woke up, what time you first praised God, and what you praised Him for. You can do all of that on one line, if you want, and then have a record that lasts the whole month on one sheet [front and back] of paper.  As you’re going through the month, also record what changes you notice.

I would love to hear what you are praising God for, how He is opening your eyes, how He is giving you a thankful heart, and how you’re sharing your thankful heart with other people. Leave your comments below or email me at mwipperman@livelifetogether.com.

 

 

Let Us Dance in the Rain

We were hosting a party [at someone else’s home] and were looking forward to eating outside at the picnic tables and using the fire pit to roast marshmallows. We had a problem, at the start of the day there was 70% chance of rain in the forecast.  So one of my daughters said, “Don’t worry mom, I’ve already started praying and asking God to hold off the rain.” I thought, well that’s a good idea, except we really need the rain. Selfishly I agreed with her prayer because being outside would be so much more fun. The evening started, the people arrived, and there was no rain! We enjoyed eating outside, the little kids running around and sitting around the campfire. Then the clouds started to come, and as the sun was starting to set, a few drops began to fall. We moved inside, grabbed some of the things that couldn’t get wet and headed indoors. There were several of us, including all of the youngest in attendance [those 4 and under] that were caught away from the house when the rain started to really pour down. What took place next will be a memory I cherish for many years to come.

One by one, the little ones began to play in the rain. And soon they were joined by the not so little kids! There was dancing, and twirling, and jumping and complete unbridled JOY! What I loved most was there was not  one parent that said no. There was no hesitation and everyone embraced the moment. It was the definition of serendipity.

The quote that popped in my head was:




There was such freedom to enjoy and appreciate the thrill of splashing in a puddle, or looking up and catching rain drops on their faces. There was no difference between the big kids [the adults] and the little kids! 

And here are a few things I learned as I reflect back on that evening.

  • God’s plan is always the best plan. Be open to it.
  • It is good to pray, and include God in my plans.
  • Always Trust God, He knows what He is doing.
  • Without the rain, we would not have had that opportunity. We would not have had those memories. We could not have captured these pictures. 

As I consider what kind of legacy I want to leave behind, it includes knowing that my God has a perfect plan and that He is completely 100% trustworthy. Including Him in my plans by talking to Him in prayer about everything: seeking His guidance, asking Him to lead and direct my steps, asking for His wisdom as I make choices, depending on Him, thanking Him, is of the utmost importance.

And to choose joy, even when it rains!

 

Missional Living

“Your best ability is your availability.” – Trent Dilfer, ESPN Analyst and Super Bowl XXXV winning QB

I think this quote from Trent Dilfer also applies to neighbors and friends. You might be the best neighbor that your neighbors have ever had. You might become one of your neighbors’ closest friends. But it can only
happen if you’re around.
 

I don’t think anyone needs convincing that they need to be available to be a neighbor, to be a friend, and to connect people to life in Jesus. But it seems I still have difficulty with it.

For me, I think it’s because I’m unwilling to say no to things just to make space to be available. There are so many things I want to do, so many opportunities we have to do almost whatever we want, that even when I do say “no” to something that space is quickly filled with something else.

One thing I’m re-learning through the Pastoral Leader PLI, that I learned [or re-learned] through coaching, is that if I say I want to do something, if I say something is important to me, but I don’t do it, I need   to find out why.  Personally speaking, the “why” is often that I say something   is important to me because I know it should be, but in reality, I haven’t experienced the reward of doing that thing enough times that I would choose it over something that consistently rewards me in the moment.

So, in case you find yourself in the midst of another Summer full of plans and activities, wondering how you ever thought you would actually have more time to connect with your neighbors and friends once Summer [or let’s be serious, you could insert any season here] began, I want to challenge you right now to look at your calendar and schedule one night per week where you are  `  available for friends and neighbors. Then, resist the urge to fill it with other things, unless those things are with your neighbors and friends. Then, actually invite friends and neighbors to do something with you on two of those nights this Summer.

Urban campfire.  Put a fire ring in your driveway, in the front yard, or back yard if other neighbors can see it. Maybe make a habit of it, so that others can be ready to stop by the next time you’re out enjoying the evening.

Tickets.  This might seem to violate my own challenge, but if you get extra tickets to something you’re going to, and invite neighbors, it totally qualifies.  We recently got to know a neighbor much better when we had Mallard’s tickets we needed to find a home for. 

What night is going to be your  "neighbor night?”

 

 

Invitation Made Simple

 

What do the following have in common?

…discovering a fresh insight…working to build a community garden in a food desert…running…partnering with community service groups that are making a difference…worshipping at church…caring for the homeless…holding babies in the hospital nursery…subscribing to a new reading plan on the You Version Bible app… dedicating a new business…singing in the worship team…visiting the veterans at the VA…reading the Bible…coloring prayer…writing your 7-year dream…walking in the early morning…joining the altar guild…going on a youth mission trip [for adults and students]…camping…building a house…learning how to create God Space in every conversation [faithBuilders]...biking…learning about preaching…writing a blog post...sharing a story…walking a dog…praying now…

All of the above were actual invitations I have personally observed recently.

They were simply and effectively delivered through Facebook, in person, over the phone, with an email, by a hand-written note, or in a letter. Each invitation was   extended naturally with eagerness because the inviter was fully and enthusiastically engaged. They loved what they were doing and saw the value in it.

There is something undeniable and unquenchable about a person who possesses a fiery passion for what they are doing. It’s contagious. Duty, obligation, burden, fear, hesitancy, all seem to melt away.

As followers of Jesus I often wonder why that joy and natural effort is so rare. I also wonder what might happen in the lives of our friends and neighbors who don’t    follow Jesus if WE were to discover what we fully and enthusiastically loved as we followed Jesus. Do you think our friends and neighbors might be caught off guard and say, “I love it that they LOVE following Jesus”?

As you read this issue of the Good News ask yourself:
As I follow Jesus, in what am I enthusiastically and fully engaged?

With whom could I share my enthusiasm?

By the way, if you can’t answer these questions, start today by identifying someone who appears to be enthusiastically and fully engaged and ask them to share with you why they do what they do. This could be the first step for you to become part of a growing movement of people who are discovering the joy of an INVITATION MADE SIMPLE.