Thursday, September 30, 2021

Leaving an Inheritance


Read Proverbs 13

There is God’s way and there is everything else and Solomon continues along the path of dichotomous sayings intended to impart wisdom to us.  So, I could just say, “Here are some more golden nuggets.”

Occasionally, Solomon just makes a statement of the human condition.  Consider verse 7.

One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;

    another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

This doesn’t say be rich.  It doesn’t say be poor.  It says look at our human condition.  We wear masks.  We put on facades. The quality of honesty comes from God and is not necessarily natural to our human nature.

The quip doesn’t define all, but surely many.

I don’t have much but I want people to think I am rich.  That’s human nature.

I have considerable wealth but don’t want people to know it.  That’s human nature.

I want people to think I measure up to the world’s standards.

I don’t want people after me for money all the time.

It’s just human nature.  Solomon just throws one in that says here is the playing field, guys.

One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;

    another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

He follows this somewhat tangentially with the next coupling.

The ransom of a man’s life is his riches,

But the poor does not hear rebuke.

If you are rich and your kid is kidnapped, you can pay to get him back.  The more you have the more you can pay.

If you don’t have much, who is going to kidnap you anyway?

Not too long ago and not too far away, I had a publisher that went out of business.  It was Tate Publishing.  They advertised themselves as a Christian publisher.  Before I signed on and gave them my retainer, I had a bunch of questions.  I didn’t need a vanity publisher.

These guys seemed to be the real deal, so I published about a dozen books through them.  They were supposed to market these books.  Their marketing was terrible, so I marketed them myself.

They were supposed to have editors.  They had style manualists—I think I invented that term after a couple months with Tate.  They could follow a style manual but didn’t really have the wherewithal to be an editor. 

They were not quite the package they promised to be, but they did publish books.  They had that part down fairly well.

There were a few drawbacks, such as they didn’t pay royalties.  It was understandable at first.  Sometimes a company waits for you to hit a threshold of a hundred dollars or so, before they want to cut a check.  That’s understandable, but after a couple years, I wasn’t getting any checks and neither was anyone else.

Then they were unable to do the one thing they could actually do and that was publish books as the creditor that owned the printing press reclaimed his property for non-payment.  Tate Publishing was out of the publishing business.

Many people sued Tate.  I got all sorts of queries wanting me to join the fray and sue these bums.  I didn’t.


Because I would have probably won.  Even the attorney general was in on the action pursuing what Tate had done from the criminal side.  I think I would have won hands down if I had sued.  I don’t know how much, but I think it would have been a few thousand dollars, maybe more.  I think a court might have awarded punitive damages as well.  What they did was wrong and they should have to pay.

So why didn’t I go after them?

Even if I won, how do I collect from someone with no money?  They went out of business because they were broke.  How do I collect from someone who is broke? Sometimes it pays to be broke.

There was no ransom—no award—to be had.  Nobody goes after the guy with no money. Plus, I think in our tax-heavy world, if I had won I would still owe taxes on my award whether I received it or not.

It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just the way things are.  The rich are targets because they can pay.  The poor don’t have the same problem.

By way of a rabbit trail, I liked the President of Tate Publishing.  He had been a Marine door gunner in Vietnam.  I had come in contact with him a short time after I moved to Burns Flat and wanted to get the school zone signs moved.

If you didn’t notice or remember, the school zone signs used to be about 10 yards apart, at least as you were driving south on State Highway 44.  There was a sign that said BEGIN SCHOOL ZONE and 10 yards later there was another sign that said END SCHOOL ZONE.   Then you came to Webb Street and another 50 yards down the road you finally got to the school, but by then you were out of the school zone.

For the first time since I had returned to God’s country, I used the phrase, “That dog don’t hunt.”

I called the highway department.  It was after all a state highway, but only got an answering machine.  After I week, I went to the school superintendent’s office.  He said the school had no control over the sign and suggested the town board.  The town board said that I should call the highway department.  I had been down that road.

I thought that I should make my local representative aware of the issue.  I did and was told that he was too busy. Of all the tap dancing answers that politicians sometimes use, I had never come across one that said, “I’m too busy to look at issues in my district.”

You remember quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.  I was losing on the slow to anger front. Do you ever have those time where you think it’s time for a streak of profanity or you need to go kill something or someone with your bare hands?  OBTW—I didn’t think a run of bad words would be enough.

But, I decided to take one more stab at getting this done through official channels.  It came down to a coin toss—Keating or Fallin.  Fallin won the toss and I elected that she received.

I fired off an email, thinking that it would take a couple days to get through by phone.  In an hour, I received an answer to my email from the governor’s chief of staff.  That email said, “It will be fixed within 24 hours.”

My standard closing to correspondence is generally, Semper Fidelis.

The chief’s closing was Take the Hill. 

I knew there was a Marine on the other end of this dialogue.  His name was Richard Tate. After his government service, he started Tate Publishing as a Christian publishing company.  After a couple years, he turned the business over to his son, Ryan Tate. 

You might have seen Ryan on Fox News years ago as a business consultant.  You haven’t seen him there in recent years because his business—my publisher—went bust.

But the guy who started the business was a good guy.  Two hours after my email, I was driving south on Highway 44 and went by the school and the signs had been moved. The school was within the school zone.

I usually tell this story in conjunction with teaching Acceptance of Authority and ask the question, “Do you think I slow down in the school zone?”

Of course, I do.  It’s my school zone.

Enough for today’s rabbit trail.  Let’s move on to one of the most intriguing verses in the Proverbs.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,

But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

You should leave something for your children and their children.  I will be blessing my grandchildren with books by Tom Spence.  They will have increased in value by the time they get them because thanks to my publisher going out of business, they will all be out of print.

We should leave something of this world for our posterity who are still navigating this world.  It might not be much but it says that I had enough to provide for my family and bless others and still something to leave my children’s children.  It says that in this life I was master over my money and not the other way around.  We will get to that in chapter 22.

To be master over your money, you must set aside your tithe before anything else.  Then you budget for your needs, for the needs of others, and for the inheritance that you will leave.  To be master over your money and possessions, you have to use the “B” word—Budget.

You have to tell every dollar where to go, and that includes what you will leave as an inheritance.  It is good to leave an inheritance for your children’s children and not all of you can give copies of Tom Spence books.

Every one of you can leave the most valuable thing ever to your children and their children and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This should be delivered before you die.  Your kids and grandkids don’t need to wait for the reading of the will to receive this.

It’s good that you leave something of worldly value to your kids and their kids when you are gone, but it is essential that you share the gospel with them while you are still alive.

Let’s just call this Rabbit Trail Sunday, because here is your next one.

On occasion, while I was at OSU, I would drive down to Edmond and go out towards what is now Arcadia Lake and spend the day with my grandfather.  He drove a grader for the county and did truck farming for longer than I could imagine.  He had retired from moving dirt with a blade but never retired from growing watermelons.

Spending a day with him in his retirement—and he was getting up there in years—involved sitting in 2 old chairs in front of a black and white television and watching a baseball game or at least 4 or 5 innings of it depending on when the signal was good and when it wasn’t.

There was a wastebasket between our chairs with a paper bag in it.  That was not for trash but for spitting in.  My grandfather would take out is tobacco pouch, take a chew and then hand me the bag.

Just for the record, chewing tobacco was healthy back then.  Cigarettes were becoming toxic, but chewing tobacco built strong bodies 12 ways.

As the reception was terrible—some of you who get upset when your Netflix movie says buffering just can’t know the pain of straining to see if you still had any picture at all—we had time to talk.

One day it just hit me.  I needed to ask my grandfather if he knew Jesus Christ.  How do you bring up this question to a man who is decades older than you?  My question was answered in moments.

He started telling me that out of everything in life, knowing Jesus was the most important.  All I had to do was keep acknowledging and agreeing and he kept talking.

How would I broach the subject?  Never had to.  He needed to tell me. I think he was happy that I had already been given the good news by my parents and Sunday school teachers and actually knew some of the Bible.

End of rabbit trail.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the best part of that inheritance is the gospel. OK, that actually ties in with the message so it doesn’t count against my rabbit trail quota.

Now, to the second part of this verse. But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous

Consider this verse in the context of one we covered just a couple weeks ago.

Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,

    but righteousness delivers from death.

You can’t buy a stairway to heaven and you can take your wealth with you.  The righteous person knows that he can leave an inheritance to his kids and grandkids, but the sinner is so short-sighted that he does not receive the gift of life for his future or take care of his descendants when he is gone.

The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.  Some of us would like to see some stimulus checks sent out when a sinner dies.  Let’s divide up those proceeds right now.  I don’t think that one is quite on the mark, but if it is I prefer my direct deposit.

Consider the Parable of the Talents.  Two servants are told well done good and faithful servant.  One is labeled wicked and lazy.  When all is said and done, the first servant who had five talents and made five more is given the talent of the third servant who buried his talent in the ground.

You had better believe that the disciples remembered Proverbs 13:22 (even though these quips of wisdom were not enumerated then).  The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

God will balance the scales as he sees fit in his time. If there is a redistribution of wealth it will be as God allocates it.

We have instructions as to what we are to do.  Be master over your money and possessions, so much so that you tell everything you have and own what to do.  This will bring glory to God and provision your family as well as having some sort of inheritance for your children’s children.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,

But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

There is God’s way and there is everything else and leaving an inheritance—especially the gospel of Jesus Christ—is God’s way.


No comments:

Post a Comment