Do you have a will or a living trust? Have you named a legal guardian for your children? Who will act in your place if you ever become mentally incapacitated? How will the blessings that God has entrusted to you be distributed after you go to heaven? While nobody wants to think about death or incapacity, creating a plan to address these questions is an essential step you must take to protect yourself, your property, and your loved ones.
What is Saint John’s Transfer the Blessings Ministry?
Our Transfer the Blessings ministry is committed to providing our members the support and comprehensive expertise they need so they can wisely plan how they transfer their blessings to their families and the ministries they love through a Lifetime Plan for Giving. The wise transfer and stewardship of these blessings to family and ministries can have an impact today, tomorrow and forever. Our faith in Jesus gives us a certainty in eternity. With the help of Transfer the Blessings, we can be just as certain about the way we affect the future for our loved ones! Proper planning can also spare your loved ones of the expense, delay and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled.
Meeting with Jason Jones
Jason Jones is Saint John’s Gift Planning Counselor. Jason works with individuals in our congregation who want to discover the lifetime plan that God has planted in their heart. He will help them to use this plan to Transfer the Blessings God has given them to their family and the ministries they love. This service comes to you at no cost as a member of Saint John’s.
Jason begins each consultation by listening to understand each individual’s unique priorities. Using the information he gathers, he then guides and directs each individual in shaping a Lifetime Plan for Giving that fulfills personal and family goals. This confidential service includes discussion of family matters, the challenges involved in estate plan development and the opportunities. These conversations help you to understand how the benefits of charitable planning relate to your personal goals.
When you ask for Jason’s assistance, you can expect:
- A prayerful approach to our work together.
- A convenient meeting time and place, usually at your home or church.
- No charge for Jason’s services.
- Guidance and options to organize and implement your Christian estate/gift plan.
- Complete confidentiality.
What is a Lifetime Plan for Giving?
Through our planned giving process, Jason will help you to establish a complete Christian estate/gift plan. We call this plan your Lifetime Plan for Giving. A Lifetime Plan for Giving is a method of assisting you by summarizing your stewardship and estate planning goals. This step by step process helps you prepare the best gifts for your family and the best gifts for the ministries you love. Here’s what’s included in a Lifetime Plan for Giving:
- A will or a revocable living trust with a pour-over will.
- A durable power of attorney for financial affairs.
- A durable power of attorney for health care.
- A review of ownership issues and beneficiary designations.
- A gift plan to provide for your family.
- A gift plan for your favorite ministries.
- A statement of faith.
If you already have a completed estate plan, the Lifetime Plan for Giving process can still provide you benefit. During the process Jason will review your current plan. Often this reveals questions or details that need to be addressed. These questions may include:
- Are your documents up-to-date and valid?
- Does your plan include a personal statement of your faith that can be used by the Holy Spirit to encourage the faith of future generations?
- Have you aligned your beneficiary statements with your plan?
- Do you have a both a financial and a medical Durable Power of Attorney?
Lastly, this service provides the opportunity to have your plan reviewed from a charitable perspective. Jason may be able to provide you with some options that accomplish your goals in ways that you may have never considered.
Having a completed a Lifetime Plan for Giving gives you peace of mind knowing that your wishes for the gifts God has entrusted to you are fulfilled. This service is free to you and there is no sales process involved. To schedule a meeting with Jason, click the link below:
If you would like more information or would like to set up an appointment over the telephone, don’t hesitate to contact Jason. He can be reached at:
Phone: (970) 988-0305
- Written by Jason Jones, Saint John’s Gift Planning Counselor Jason Jones, Saint John’s Gift Planning Counselor
- Created: 13 February 2020 13 February 2020
Are taxes evil? Jesus said, when questioned about that, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God, what is God’s.”
Though some taxes are wasted, much support things we really need. We want to have roads to drive on. We want to have security officers to protect us. We depend on government being there to rescue people from communities that are in crisis. The list could go on and on.
At the same time we celebrate blessings of services provided through taxes, many of us also struggle with paying them. That has probably been true since Egypt began taxing 5,000 years ago. Some of that aversion may flow from our selfish hearts, not wishing to help others. Some of it flows from our fear that dollars will not be spent correctly.
God calls us to be good stewards of the gifts He gives us. Can I be happy about directing those gifts to those who have not proven to be good stewards?
Avoiding taxation can never be our prime motivation for making contributions for supporting the Lord’s work. It is sort of a defensive posture. That posture causes us to shrink in on ourselves. Instead, we look to maximize the use of God’s gifts to magnify the impact they will have on spotlighting the love of Jesus in the world.
Our faithful decisions will be mindful of potential tax savings and use legal opportunities to save tax dollars, knowing those savings will enable us to do even more, showing love to family or supporting ministries the Lord has laid on our hearts.
Be aware that a simple review of your estate plan may turn up many opportunities to fine-tune your service to the Lord. If you want to look into this, your LCMS Gift Planning Counselor can help.
- Written by Jason Jones, Saint John’s Gift Planning Counselor Jason Jones, Saint John’s Gift Planning Counselor
- Created: 01 February 2020 01 February 2020
The married couple were both faithful in participating in everything in their local congregation. Every time the lights were on, they were there. They were without children and, by all appearance, very modest in the assets they had. In reality, this couple had been so careful about the stewardship of their gifts that by the time the Lord called them home, they had hundreds of thousands of dollars in their estate. 95% of it went to support ministry when their earthly life was complete. What a blessing to their home congregation and other ministries across the country!
We get so preoccupied with paying bills and facilitating family needs that we often overlook that the Lord is giving us opportunity throughout our earthly life to create and grow accumulation of assets that can be directed to ministry long after we are no longer here. Maybe that is the best kind of giving, when credit isn’t the goal, but faithful support of Gospel sharing is.
Just as you have opened a saving account for vacations or Christmas, or a college fund for children’s education, or a retirement account, have you ever considered creating a “fund” for the future support of ministry?
How would you do that? Maybe you set aside part of an inheritance you receive. Maybe you designate a percentage of your estate to the Lord’s work. Maybe you consider endowing your weekly offering to the Lord, directing money from your estate to a personal endowment that will keep on supporting your favorite ministry just as if you were still here writing the check. There are many ways to respond. The appropriate plan is the one facilitated by the gifts the Lord has provided in your life. Your LCMS Foundation Gift Planning Counselor can help you think, pray and plan toward a gift the Lord has enabled from before the foundation of the world.
- Written by Jason Jones, Saint John’s Gift Planning Counselor Jason Jones, Saint John’s Gift Planning Counselor
- Created: 16 January 2020 16 January 2020
“John Lutheran” (name changed) owned a successful business throughout his life. Now in retirement, he and his wife enjoy a comfortable life, affording plenty of time for John to play golf.
From time to time, John had heard about the Transfer the Blessings Gift Planning Ministry offered at his church. He had never utilized this free service because he had already completed his Estate Plan with his attorney. His Will stated that the bulk of his assets were to be left to his children and it also included a 25% gift from his estate to his congregation when the Lord calls him home to heaven.
John often shared this with his pastor. On one occasion John’s pastor recommended that he meet with the congregation’s gift planner to review his plan. John was reluctant to devote that kind of time to this work, feeling, that since it was already written in his will, his work was done.
John ultimately gave in and decided to meet with the gift planner. He was shocked by what he found out with the gift planners help. The vast majority of John’s assets would be transferred by “beneficiary designation” (Transfer on Death, TOD, Payable on Death, POD, etc …) and would never pass through his will. He had named family members as the beneficiary for these. What that meant was, that the 25% gift Bob had planned to gift all along would now amount to about $750. That’s not what he wanted. The gift planner helped John and his wife align the couple’s designations with their wishes. The couple was very grateful, and John was especially thankful that he eventually took the advice of his pastor to meet with the gift planner.
The point is that even though we may think that we have our charitable gifting work completed, a simple misalignment can unwind the entire plan. The Lord calls us to careful stewardship of His gifts throughout our lives. A good rule of thumb is to review the plan every five to seven years, to ensure it is still in place, rather than make an incorrect assumption. Is it time for that quick review for you?
- Written by Tom Miles Tom Miles
- Created: 09 January 2020 09 January 2020
- Created: 27 November 2019 27 November 2019
Home decorations have transitioned from pumpkins to turkeys, and now to snowmen and sparkly trees. Children of all ages treasure year-end holidays. Memories kindle warmth of glowing fires etched in our family and emotional rooms.
Churches celebrated Reformation and Thanksgiving. Advent’s expectation is that the Savior of the World is arriving! With décor changes, God’s people prepare their hearts to receive their King.
Mary, chosen to bear God’s son in the flesh, was told to get ready. After the angel’s visit, Mary exclaimed, “all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me!” Mary recognized the Giver and Gift.
“[God’s] good things are merely gifts, which last for a season; but His grace and regard are the inheritance, which lasts forever … the grace of God is eternal life, 1 ” wrote Martin Luther.
Year-end preparations include planning and arranging. Many organize their lives getting ready for what lies ahead. What else can we put in order besides tangible and perishable presents that adorn our Christmas trees and represent our human love?
Martin Luther also said, “God would not have [us] put [our] trust in His goods and gifts, spiritual or temporal, however great they be, but in His grace and in Himself, yet without despising the gifts. 2 ”
The time-based clutter of life pulls us toward temporal concerns. Statistics indicate that less than 10% of Americans have included a charitable gift in their estate plans. One reason might be due to an uncomfortable visit with an attorney.
Have you considered allowing a fellow LCMS Gift Planning Counselor as a trustworthy guide to help you to prepare for expressing the enduring intent of your faith and love?
- Martin Luther, “The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat” in Luther’s Works (Concordia Publishing House, 1956), XXi, 324.
- Martin Luther, “The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat” in Luther’s Works (Concordia Publishing House, 1956), XXi, 325.
- Created: 07 October 2019 07 October 2019
Gathering is a natural activity, often accomplished without much thought to the effort. The “grasp reflex” of humans is alive and well. The evidence of harvest is obvious, whether gathered for others or for self.
Reaping, on the other hand, is more of a consequence, not easily gathered. For sure, what a person sows, they reap. What is important in sowing to obtain joy, meaning or blessing?
Inheritance is something that another person gives to, or for, another. For some it’s a birthright. For others it’s heirlooms with special meaning. For many it’s a natural inclination of familial love. God’s Word informs us that “God Himself is our inheritance.”
A plentiful harvest is a recurring reminder of God’s desire to give yields that produces sustenance among the living. Around the world, it’s a material ingathering that is enjoyed by the righteous and the wicked alike. Harvest reminds us of the spiritual legacy as well!
In collecting harvests from labor, Christian stewards return a portion to the One who provides all for use and enjoyment. Believers give their first-fruits to God as evidence of a First Commandment faith. When earthly life is complete, this giving can return a portion of the substance of a Christian steward’s harvest, so the Lord’s work is strengthened. A joyful tradition during biblical ages, it continues as a tradition in ours.
Truly an undeserved heritage is given in God’s yields! St. Peter wrote under inspiration, “[Jesus Christ] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3b–4
The gift of eternal life has been endowed on the Cross as an inheritance waiting for all who are called by the Holy Spirit. Consider reflecting such inheritance in your own plans.
- Created: 25 September 2019 25 September 2019
John the Baptist differentiated himself from Jesus, saying “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” John’s purpose was to make straight the paths and encourage us to “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” (Luke 3:8)
Similarly, St. Paul proclaimed that “God wants us to turn to God and perform deeds in keeping with our repentance.” (Acts 26:20) Reforming our ways is not about outward alterations or a political viewpoint. Indeed, “God has granted repentance that leads to life! (Acts 11:18)
Martin Luther and the reformers experienced intense personal reforming of their ways. God used them to unlock handcuffs that were slapped on the Gospel message. Jesus said in speaking about repentance, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7) The reformers discovered the Jubilee of forgiveness, and it caught fire.
Many in our times equate God’s kindness with prosperity, good looks, health or strong ability. However, if our ways aren’t reformed in the heart, where sin emulates, then it’s not likely to be a reformation that leads to Jubilee or eternal life. Paul asked the Romans, “Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4b).
Reforming our ways also brings godly sorrow. St. Paul, inspired by the Spirit of Christ, informs us, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Is repentance reforming your ways? Jesus informs us, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32) “…God is wishing that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9b)
When our ways are reformed by the Holy Spirit, we recognize our spiritual depravity before God. We then notice the things we manage are not ours, but we are only ‘caretakers.’ The implications to our lives, and for our loved ones, also reform. The way we plan to distribute the worldly wealth we manage for Him will characterize blessings rather than curses.
- Created: 25 August 2019 25 August 2019
In economic thought, the “opportunity cost” of making decisions connects to planned benefits received. This is different than giving up something for preferences we choose. God tells us through the Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows that will he also reap.”
When people make determinations related to use of time, allocation of money or development of ability, they typically match choices with the driving motivations of behavior. Balancing priorities is not only driven by personal characteristics, but by the importance placed on desired outcomes.
It’s true that hardwired personality traits that make up psychological and social tendencies paired with parental influence, along with spiritual guidance, determine most of the inclinations that motivate us on how we approach life’s decisions. Today, options are available for unprecedented selection.
Beyond mere psychology, we understand our battle with our sinful flesh, recognizing our need to repent of inappropriate allocations. Only God’s grace in Christ can sort through the chaos of our poor decisions. We replace harmony with our Father for temptations to be like God, which bring disharmony. This reality is most obvious in how we often fail to keep God as first among earthly priorities and how life’s priorities blur our vision of our Father’s. We fail to balance decisions in faithfulness to the Giver of all good things.
Grace has forgiven our failures through the cross and Christ’s Spirit comforts and empowers us to realign priorities to reflect the primary purpose of life; to honor God first and share His kingdom on earth.
You can reflect this balance in your last will and testament, estate trusts or beneficiary designations. Including a witness to faith and support for the Lord’s work in these plans, we validate our priority’s balance to honor God, who Created, Redeemed and Sustains our lives, even as we desire to bless our children and our children’s children.
- Created: 25 July 2019 25 July 2019
Throughout our world, winds of restlessness bring change to cultural landscapes. These conditions are captive to corrupt hearts, leaders or cultural circumstances dictating the plight of masses.
Within the U.S., the debate seems centered on whether ingenuity and capital markets are just, or whether the government is obligated to intercede and reallocate wealth according to social expediency. Political transformation causes resulting innovation that is hotly debated. Does such struggle result in progress or regression?
Meanwhile, the daily patterns and responsibilities of homelife, work, social, emotional and spiritual concerns continue in a dynamic reconstruction cycle. Our lives circulate through a daily loop of replenishment or depletion. Although our bodies are subjected to the curse of our own refusal to follow God’s will, opportunities for regeneration and restoration are available from an infinitely kind Spirit.
Thanks to the work of Jesus Christ in God, who formed and redeemed all creation, the ever-present comfort of the Holy Spirit is ours. Those who live by faith in God’s Word, know that renewal and rebirth result in repair and restoration of the mind, body, and soul.
Despite differing motivations, people of faith recognize the undeserved favor given to reform their wayward tendencies. This miracle adds luster to the manna of time that transforms life’s experience with an inner conversion. Only when God’s reinvigoration occurs does a person find the restitution and revitalization that awaits in freedom’s Jubilee.
As summer vacations also provide a time to rejuvenate, it’s also time to consider renovating your own plans for when life’s final renewal transforms us to eternal life. A “Lifetime Plan for Giving” with a will, trust or beneficiary designations can communicate your intent clearly, signaling a renaissance to rebuild the future.
Family gifts well planned can regenerate their lives for God’s purposes. Renovation that remembers the Lord’s work gives opportunity to leave assets to advance the Kingdom of Grace.
- Created: 25 June 2019 25 June 2019
The One God of the Bible reveals Himself in three persons. A triangle of characteristics reveals the mysteries of creation, redemption and sanctification for a full life. Here we see perfect power matched with love and comfort that is beyond reason, yet true.
Life involves many triangles. A three-legged stool balances anything set upon it. Ancient cultures built sacred buildings with triangular forms. Our democratic constitutional government was built on the balance of three branches of authority; executive, legislative and judicial.
Emotional triangles govern relationships more than many recognize. For example, in emotional triangles, when any two parts of an emotional system become uncomfortable with another, they will “triangle in” or focus upon a third person, or issue, as a way of stabilizing their own relationship with each other. Any unresolved relationships will often be played out in another relationship.
This is often a playground for Satan, but it also can be a way for the Body of Christ in the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit to provide balm that heals and binds what is broken.
Emotionally, we can only change a relationship to which we belong requiring a third person to maintain a well-defined relationship with each, while averting the responsibility for their relationship with one another. This tenant is also true for tasks that allow stewards to faithfully manage many gifts provided by God.
Many people fail to protect life’s risks or to see the opportunity costs of decisions. Insurance can be an effective way to manage financial risks of loss, but the costs of relationship risks, or the opportunity cost of our decisions often remain unmanaged for many.
The LCMS Foundation helps people develop A “Lifetime Plan for Giving” with a clear Statement of Faith, and discussion leading toward preparedness to have attorneys draft a Last Will and Testament, a Revocable Trust, plus Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial and Health Care. These can provide protection for loved ones letting them know you want them to flourish even when you’re not here to help. As life swirls around us, a ‘Lifetime Plan for Giving’ can serve as a helpful triangle to allow our earthly management to remain more objective even about intense situations, protecting our position in helping. It’s a way to be thoughtful and giving, as our God has created us to be.