Mental Illness, 18 May 2014

Big Idea: Mental illness has many of the same causes, cures, and complexities as physical ailments. We are holistic creatures and, therefore, our mind, body and soul are not disconnected but interrelated.

Special Guest: Eileen Aveni presented this week’s message. Her notes can be found here.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Honor, Mother's Day 2014

May 11, 2014

Big Idea: Parents are special, worthy of respect, love, obedience…and honor


Happy Mother’s Day! This is a day of great celebration for some and sorry for others. Because it is a family day, it is a day of reflection upon those mothers who have passed away and buying or making gifts for those with us. It can be an emotional day. It can be a complicated day. One thing is for sure: each one of us has had a mother who labored in giving birth to us and, in most instances, raising us.

I want to talk about the Ten Commandments.
When you think of God’s Top Ten List, what is the first command that comes to mind?

I want us to spend a few moments reflecting upon Command 5. It’s not a “thou shalt not” command, but rather a positive, affirming command with a promise.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)

We rarely use the word honor in our culture. It almost seem old-fashioned, unless it refers to someone in the military. The original Hebrew word, kabed, means “to be heavy, to be wealthy, honored, glorified, renowned, substantial.”

The Ten Commandments appear in Exodus 20 and again in Deuteronomy 5 where it says

“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 5:16)

Don’t miss the promise: “that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is given you.” What land? This is God’s promise to the people of Israel as they prepare to enter the Promised Land after a forty year journey through the wilderness. This idea of honoring dad and mom is a really big deal!

Sometimes people mistakenly dismiss the Old Testament as somehow unimportant. They call themselves “New Testament Christians” and rarely turn to the front of their Bible. You cannot understand the New Testament without knowing the Old. It’s like walking into the second act of a play, having no clue about act one. Today, by the way, we are living in act three of God’s story…HiStory.

On several occasions Jesus referred to the Ten Commandments. Matthew and Mark both recorded His words:

For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ (Matthew 15:4)

For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ (Mark 7:10)

Did you catch the penalty for cursing or dishonoring dad or mom? Death!

Have you ever thought of that?!

The question of the day is
how do we honor mothers? This is not always simple.

How do you honor an abusive mother?
How do you honor a deceased mother?
How do you honor an estranged mother?
How do you honor a mother you never knew?

Perhaps you may think your mother is not worthy of honor or glory.

We recently studied Paul’s instructions to the church in the city of Ephesus and beyond. He wrote

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” — which is the first commandment with a promise —“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)

Here we see honor connected to obedience and a reminder of the promise. This gives us a hint at what is meant by the word

Perhaps you may think your mother is not worthy of obedience. You may disagree with her instructions.

As we noted last week, God created man and woman and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. Marriage and the family was God’s idea. When His commands are followed, we are able to flourish and thrive, experiencing joy, peace, and satisfaction. Tragically, sin affects all families and relationships, fighting against God’s design and seeking to steal, kill and destroy the abundant life God intends for each of us to encounter.

I’m reminded of another of Paul’s writings, one of my favorite verses:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)

Notice it says, “as far as it depends on you” live at peace with everyone. We have an obligation to do our part, but can never control another.

As much as it depends on you, obey God’s commands.
As much as it depends on you, show honor and respect to your parents.
As much as it depends on you, seek reconciliation in broken relationships.
As much as it depends on you, live a life worth following, bringing honor to your family, your family’s name, and God.

For those of you with great, living moms, express your love and appreciation for them. Give them a hug, kiss them, tell them how much they mean to you, make a gift for them, or the greatest thing of all…
buy them chocolate!!!

If mom is distant, call her or video chat with her. Visit her. Write a letter.

If your mom is no longer living, you can still write a letter, say a prayer, tell others about her, or reflect upon her life, thank God for the life she gave you, and live a life that would honor her.

Moms, how have you been honored by your children?

Children, how have you honored your mom?


I often think about generations of families passing a baton from one generation to the next. If your baton was broken, ask God to bring healing and holy duct tape to it in order to provide a solid baton to the next generation. It’s never too late to begin a legacy of faith, hope and love even if it was never a part of your heritage.

As you may know, yesterday I had the privilege of honoring
my dad by doing his funeral. It was one of the most important moments of my life as I desperately wanted to celebrate and pay tribute to the most influential man in my life, a great godly man that influenced so many lives, even during his many years of failing mental and physical health. While I worked hard to say the right words to pay homage to his life, the greater work begins today by my actions. I want not only my words but my life to bring honor to my dad…my mom…and my heavenly Father. What about you?

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Sex, 4 May 2014

Big Idea: God loves sex. He created it! Like fire, it is beautiful within its proper boundaries and potentially deadly beyond.

Several months ago I came across an article entitled, “5 uncomfortable issues the church needs to talk about.” I read those words as a challenge! The article reads:

It has been said that the Church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners. Yet, most of us would much rather pretend to be a saint on display than call for an ambulance.

Week after week, many of us walk into a church, sit by people we have known for years and yet would never dream of sharing our innermost struggles with. While a large part of this is our pride, another factor is a Church that seems unwilling to talk about certain uncomfortable issues, choosing rather to ignore them, try to cover them up or simply reject people who bring them up.

There are many issues the Church as a whole needs to address, such as creationism, activism, environmental stewardship and many others. But there are many more issues that individuals in the Church are dealing with—issues that the Church Body should be talking about. In Galatians 6:2, Paul urged the Church to "Bear each other's burdens," so maybe with more grace and love we can turn on the light in the darkened rooms of each other’s hearts and let our churches become safe havens for the uncomfortable things we have to deal with.

Many of these issues need to be dealt with professionally first. But that should not be the end of it. Research shows just listening to someone and showing them you genuinely care for their situation can be a huge part of that person's healing process.

This is far from a comprehensive list—these are a few of the issues many people in churches around the world are dealing with, whether they admit it or not. And as people increasingly leave the Church, often over issues such as these, it is becoming more urgent that the Church talk about how to care for every one of its members.

The list includes doubt, loneliness, mental illness, addiction, and today’s topic, sexuality.

This series may frustrate you because we can’t fully unpack such important and challenging issues in thirty minutes. I hope to acknowledge the subject and provide resources for further study (see below). Once again, this will not be a comprehensive presentation but hopefully a starting point on a very important subject churches often fail to address. Tragically, our world never fails to address this issue of sexuality…and they are messed up! John 10:10 says

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

As we said a few weeks ago, we are in a battle. We have a real enemy who wants to steal, kill, and destroy you, me, our families, our planet. He cannot create anything. He can only distort and destroy that which God has made.

The contrast between God’s view of money and the world’s view is stark.
The contrast between God’s view of power and the world’s view is stark.
The contrast between God’s view of sexuality and the world’s view is stark.

Following Jesus is a radical endeavor! What I’m about to say may sound old-fashioned. It is. It’s about 6000 years old…and it still works today!!!

  1. In the beginning God…

The Bible is the story of God. History is His story. While we are included, it’s not about us. It’s about God. God was in the beginning (John 1:1-2)

In the beginning God… (Genesis 1:1)

In the beginning God created… (Genesis 1:1)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

As the song says, this is my Father’s world. He created it. He entrusted its care to us, but it is not ours.

2. God creates human beings in His image.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him… (Genesis 1:27a)

That is one of the greatest truths in the Bible. God created us in His image. We’re not junk! We’re not an accident! Every human has value, dignity and worth. Every human!

3. God creates human beings in His image as two distinct genders, male and female.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Male and female are different…by design. By God’s design.

When one of my kids was little, I began the sexuality conversation by asking what’s different about boys and girls. This child said, “Girls have long hair and boys have short hair!”

We are different, and it’s just our bodies that are different. We are wired completely differently. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus! It’s easy to see this in the toys children enjoy and the way they communicate.

Men and women complement one another (yes, they can compliment one another, too!).

Our differences create challenges and conflicts, but those grow and shape us.

Men, don’t try to be women. Women, don’t try to be men. God created you male or female and He wants you to flourish in your gender, in your sexuality.

One of the reasons people are so confused about their sexuality is we are bombarded with messages that say we’re the same. We should wear the same clothes. We should wear the same cologne. We should act identically.

Men and women are not the same. Men and women are equivalent!

One dozen is not the same as twelve, but they are equivalent.
Four quarters is not the same as two halves, but they are equivalent.

God created male and female different. We are both equally important and loved. We are to celebrate and enjoy our differences, and there are many!

4. God’s commanded our ancestors to reproduce.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28a)

Be fruitful and multiply. Have babies!
One flesh. Leave and cleave.
Sex was God’s idea. It was a command! Just do it! With one caveat.

5. Sex is like fire.

Several years ago I was talking to one of my children near our fireplace. I said, “Sex is like this fire.” I wish you could’ve seen the response!
When the fire remains within the boundary of the fireplace, it brings great warmth and beauty to our home.

However, if the same fire were to go beyond the fireplace, even a few inches, it would consumer our house in flames and destroy everything in its path.

The same is true for sex. Within marriage, sex is a beautiful gift from God. Outside of marriage, sex can be a destructive act, not only potentially leading to unplanned pregnancy or diseases but also permanent memories and scars. It can literally kill you.

I’ve often thought of sex as somewhat unique from other sins. When is murder acceptable? When is stealing acceptable? When is idolatry acceptable? When is sex acceptable? On the wedding day and beyond, but not a day sooner.

Why? It’s a powerful force. God created it for marriage, literally bringing together a husband and wife. Our bodies are beautifully designed to fit together, and doing so causes a sacred bond, like glue, making the two become one.

I wish I had time to read through the Song of Solomon this morning. It is the romance book of the Bible and gets quite steamy. Some prudes have said it’s nothing more than a metaphor for Jesus and the Church. WRONG! There may be parallels, but it is love poetry and required reading for every married person…and singles, too (but be careful!).

Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. (1 Corinthian 6:15-17)

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)


6. We are to glorify God with our bodies

We just read that we are to honor God with our bodies.

If you are single, glorify God with your body.
If you are married, glorify God with your body.

Tragically, I’ve known too many singles who misuse sex and don’t glorify God with their bodies. They’ve bought the lie that their “pursuit of happiness” is life’s highest priority and ignore the boundaries of marriage established by God. The fire leaves the fireplace.

Tragically, I’ve known too many married people who misuse sex and don’t glorify God with their bodies. They have selfishly demanded from their spouse or withdrawn from their spouse and become selfish with their bodies rather than recognizing God delights when husband and wife surrender themselves to one another. They seek intimacy through pornography, flirting at the office, or fantasy rather than pursuing their life partner and intentionally creating time and space for mutual submission, love and pleasure.

Paul, again speaking to the church in Corinth wrote:

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)

Translation: married people should have great sex…with one another! This honors God.

Years ago I served at a church in Chicagoland and the pastor did a sermon series on worship. One of his messages was about worship in the bedroom. His premise was when a husband and wife come together to serve one another, it is a sacred act of worship.

I have never thought of worship the same ever since!!!

Seriously, though, we are to glory God with our bodies.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)


God created sex. It’s His idea. He created us male and female to compliment one another, to procreate, to bond a husband and wife, and for pleasure in marriage. Like fire, it can destroy or delight. Few topics are more important. If you’re married, I pray you will have a fantastic sex life, serving one another. If you are single, I pray you will honor God with your body, too. This is a challenge for all of us in our sex-crazed, sex-confused culture.

Many of you here and listening online may be feeling guilt and shame at this moment. Know that forgiveness if available. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. From this day forward, you can honor God with your body.

One More Thing

Some religions are so sensitive about male/female relationships that they avoid any relationship with members of the opposite sex. This is far from the teachings of scripture. So how now shall we live? How do we treat one another?

Paul says as siblings.

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)

For those of you dating, this is a great approach. That’s not to say a dating couple should never kiss—though I had a friend in college that saved his first kiss for his wedding day…and they courted for more than five years! I’m not suggested a kiss is necessarily inappropriate for a dating couple, but we are to treat one another as siblings. After all, we are a family…and we’re all related by blood…Jesus’ blood.

Recommended Resources For Further Study by Married Couples

Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Kevin Leman
A Celebration Of Sex: A Guide to Enjoying God's Gift of Sexual Intimacy by Douglas Rosenau
Intended for Pleasure: Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage by Wheat M.D., Ed, Gaye Wheat and Dennis Rainey
What Wives Wish their Husbands Knew about Sex: A Guide for Christian Men by Richard Rupp, Ryan Howes, and Stephen Ph. D. Simpson

Recommended Resources For Further Study by Singles (note: I have not read these but they look valuable)

The Sacred Search: What If It's Not about Who You Marry, But Why? by Gary Thomas
Sex and the Single Christian Girl: Fighting for Purity in a Rom-Com World by Marian Jordan Ellis
The Single Christian: Your Sassy Saved Single Girl's Guide to Sex, Dating & Relationship A series of encouragement... by Loria Hubbard
Praying for Your Future Husband: Preparing Your Heart for His by Robin Jones Gunn aRobin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer
Every Single Woman's Battle: Guarding Your Heart and Mind Against Sexual and Emotional Compromise by Shannon Ethridge
Every Man's Battle: Every Man's Guide to Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time by Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker and Mike Yorkey
Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.