Inheritance

“Inheritance:” [1] Something that is or may be inherited; property passing at the owner’s death to the heir or those entitled to succeed; legacy. [2] The genetic characters transmitted from parent to offspring, taken collectively.


There are a lot of moving parts in that definition. I have been thinking about inheritance quite a bit lately. I had a large investment portfolio at work that was set up as a remainder trust. Upon the death of the trustee, the proceeds of the trust were to be passed on to three survivors. The interesting aspect of a trust account like this one is that the beneficiaries of the trust didn’t have to do anything in particular to receive a rather substantial amount of money other than to be a relative of the deceased.

In another case, I have been invited to serve as an investment consultant to the 1impact Community Endowment Fund committee. Quite frankly I was surprised by the number of families [and the dollar amounts] that have decided to make the Church part of their inheritance offering upon their departure from this world when Jesus calls them to their permanent home with Him.


Finally, and most importantly, I was privileged to be by the bedside of a dear woman who passed into eternity surrounded by family. We prayed and read Scripture together [Psalm 23 always brings great comfort during these times] as we grieved our loss but celebrated the sure victory over death that Jesus promised her in her baptism. I would say that this is an inheritance of faith that passed from one generation to the next and the next. Three generations were present in the room.

So how do we view our
inheritance? The first example is a simple transfer of wealth from one person to another. How will it be used? Will the new-found increase be used to consume more of what the world has to offer? I’ve witnessed families torn apart by perceived inequalities on how estates are settled or divorce property is divided. The Bible certainly has many examples of upset heirs “not getting what they deserve.”

In one example, Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. You can read it for yourself, but the central arc of the story is a son who wanted his money right now even though his father was alive and well! We may shake our heads in disbelief, but how many examples can you think of where a family member has murdered another family member to   accelerate the inheritance process through life insurance proceeds or other material benefits? Jesus knows the depths of our sin, especially when greed consumes our lives.

The second example would point to the concept of legacy, when it comes to distributing our inheritance. A legacy of what? I am glad you asked. Look at the words in the Church’s endowment fund: Impact. Community. Fund. All wrapped up in our mission to Connect People to Life in Jesus. The families that have committed to this fund want to leave a legacy of disciple-makers. They want to “fund” our mission -- no, God’s mission -- to “impact” our “communities” by providing
resources to help those in need and equipping our members to fulfill the Great Commission. Now that is a legacy all of us are called by Jesus to leave to future generations until He returns.

You have heard the expression that “All politics is local.” The same could be said for an inheritance of faith. We have made family the core of sharing our faith to each succeeding generation. Deuteronomy 11 is a very sobering word from God about passing on the faith; verses 18-19 make it clear: “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine.  Tie them to your hands and wear them on your foreheads as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to and when you are getting up.” 


I saw those words in action at the bedside of a Jesus follower entering the gates of heaven. Three generations of faith in our Lord. A legacy that far exceeds the monetary blessings from a wealthy man. A legacy that even exceeds funding a church endowment. Faith, created in baptism, strengthened in hearing and studying God’s Word, assured in the forgiveness of sins in Holy Communion and continually nurtured in a loving family and a faithful community of believers. Now that is a true inheritance!

 

 

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?”