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Thursday, December 15, 2011
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"Building A Godly Legacy"
"For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name" (Psalm 61:5). "That I might live for God" (Galatians 2:19).
Yesterday we attended a funeral service for Hannah Smucker, an 81 year old woman, who passed away this last Saturday. We never met her personally but her daughter, Mary Ann, became a friend through our Daily Encouragement ministry several years ago. Additionally we serve the Smucker family business as chaplains so we’ve more recently come to know other family members.
Hannah's husband, Sam, established the Smucker business over 50 years ago. We first became familiar with the business by the jingle we often hear on our local radio station, "Smucker is the name to know around your home". That’s a fitting advertisement slogan for a company specializing in home improvement.
But it was quite apparent at the service that the Smucker couple not only focused on building an enduring business but also on building an enduring legacy. Loving tributes, numerous mementos and hand written notes from Hannah’s children and grandchildren reflected on her solid faith and the shining example she was as a woman of God. As Hannah parted from this life she passed on a spiritual legacy to her children, grandchildren and gg's (great grandchildren), all who sat in the first several rows numbering some 60.
I make a vitally important point when I share faith and perspective with young couples preparing for marriage. We establish the foundations for building a godly legacy early in life and this legacy incrementally expands over the years, one brick at a time. It’s not as though we just wake up one morning and decide to leave a legacy!
Many years ago I was at the funeral of a young person who had died in an accident. The room was full of his young friends still stunned by the suddenness of his death. It was a grim reminder of the unpredictability of life which shattered their youthful illusion of invincibility. An older minister made an interesting point regarding his generation's legacy: "We've given you much to live with, but we haven't given you much to live for."* There's a lot of truth to that statement isn't there!
The very nature of seeking lifelong fulfillment in anything but God's eternal salvation plan is never fully satisfying over time. Something new and promising is always around the corner like a bigger, newer model TV, a faster computer or a more feature-laden "smart" phone, and many waste their lives pursuing that which quickly loses value or soon needs replaced.
God's people are called to leave a godly legacy, not a self-aggrandized list of their own accomplishments. I consider those who left behind a godly legacy whom I personally know. Most were not famous and their sphere of influence was relatively small, leaving a spiritual impact on their family, church and community. A godly legacy is developed over a lifetime as we choose day after day to live for Christ.
The Psalmist proclaimed, "You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name." Fundamentally this heritage is the truths we transmit and the life we live that gets passed on to our own generation and generations to follow. Those who fear His Name are transmitting the truth of this heritage while they live and even after they pass on.
As a result we who fear His Name are transmitting this godly legacy. In the past the Bible writers did so by writing down the Scriptures which is our authority for life. However God has also used those contemporaneous with us who call on the Name of the Lord; those who fear His Name. They have sought to pass on that spiritual legacy to us. We received this heritage from our parents, pastors, Sunday school teachers, a bold witness at work and many, many others who, like Hannah Smucker, passed it on to her family and circle of influence. We are presently passing that heritage on to others.
What are we passing on to our children and those we influence in the generations following us? I purposefully chose the last part of a Bible verse to highlight a simple statement made by the apostle Paul, "That I might live for God." Paul surely had very little, particularly by our standards, to live with, but so much to live for. He went on to write, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
Ask yourself today: What am I living for? Who am I living it for? That's been the pattern for two thousand years and will most certainly continue until the trumpet sounds. One generation passing the faith on to the next. You're reading this today and hopefully your faith is centered on Christ. Someone has passed this faith down to you. Are you now passing it on? Are you leaving a godly legacy to those who come behind you? That's our call.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, You have called on us, Your children, to be reliable in giving a solid witness of our faith in You. We are to live godly lives so that we faithfully model that which we also teach to our children and all whom we are privileged to influence. We realize that there is no neutral position; we either live for You or we live for the world. Fix our eyes on Jesus as we journey below so that we fulfill the calling to be faithful and influence others for the kingdom of God, whether in life or in death. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
* "We've given you so much to live with, but we haven't given you very much to live for." While acknowledging the overall value of this statement and the importance of passing on a godly heritage, each individual and each generation ultimately stands on the basis of his or her own faith and obedience to God. I could see some using this sentiment as an excuse and blaming the previous generation for their problems. There are also those who've had the benefit of a godly heritage but choose to walk away from it.
More colorful insights from the service yesterday:
Both Hannah and her husband Sam grew up old-order Amish and left as young adults after they already had children. There were quite a number of old order Amish in attendance at the large church which also happens to be pastored by a nephew, Sam Smucker, who also grew up Amish! His message was outstanding and he quoted many Scriptures establishing the way of salvation.
Hannah was described as a very spunky woman with quite a sense of humor. She had instructed her two sons to be pallbearers stating, "I brought you into the world and you can take me out." Not too long ago she selected her own casket and laid down in it to see how comfortable it would be. It wasn't!
Some miscellaneous photos from the course of life.
We have had our share of company banquets and activities over the last week. Saturday evening we attended a banquet and enjoyed visiting with the guest musician Mark Cable. See below for some samples of his music.
One of the little known extended family facts is that we have a cousin who is a concert pianist and played at a Neiman Marcus store in the Kansas City area. Not to be outdone Brooksyne took a turn as pianist at Costco yesterday blessing the busy shoppers with Christmas carols!
Sunday morning we opened our country church and discovered a mouse (caught in a trap). I thought I would show a photo of what a quiet church mouse looked like but Brooksyne and Ester vetoed the idea. But later that morning a friend gave us some "mouse" cookies:
Church mouse cookie
The body is a chocolate coated cherry with the stem as the tail. The head and nose are a chocolate kiss with sliced almonds making the ears. The "mouse" sits on half an Oreo cookie!
Mike enjoying a church mouse cookie much to his wife Nicole's disgust! These cookies are "Christmas Eve Mice" by Taste of Home (recipe link below)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"When It's All Been Said and Done" Video Robin Mark
"Find Us Faithful" Video Steve Green This song is an expression of aspiration in leaving a godly legacy.
"Jesus, Lover Of My Soul" Video A beautiful song reminding us that our life's journey here below is all about Jesus, not ourselves. "It's for Your glory and Your fame. It's not about me as if You should do things my way. You alone are God and I surrender to Your ways."
"Ancient Words" Video
"My Tribute" Video Oslo Gospel Choir This song was sung at our wedding 35 years ago.
"Psalms That Didn't Make It" Video Mark Cable
"Can't Wait To Be Found" Video Mark Cable
Find Us Faithful: Leadership That Leaves a Legacy
By David Olford / B & H Publishing Group
Illuminating Paul's farewell address to the church elders of Ephesus found in Acts 20, Olford describes three gifts those in Christian ministry should leave behind: a personal example, a preached word, and a prepared leadership. He clarifies the responsibilities we must fulfill; reveals encouragements to be embraced; and reflects on the urgency of faithfulness. More info
Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)
Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.
"In Remembrance of Me" pdf This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years. We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.
"When Christ Was Born" pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of "How Great Thou Art". It's a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.
Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18 pdf
"O Come Let Us Adore Him" pdf
My First Christmas In Heaven This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year. This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.
Christmas Knowledge Test
We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).
Are you Christmas shopping online?
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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