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.

Best Kept Secret, Resurrection Sunday 2014

April 20, 2014

Big Idea: Jesus is alive but does anyone really know? If you’ve encountered Jesus, you cannot keep Him to yourself. Love isn’t love until you give it away.


Happy Resurrection Sunday! He is risen! He is risen indeed!


You know the story. You know why we celebrate. Just to summarize the events of the past few days that we have commemorated, the Apostle’s Creed states that Jesus

Suffered under Pontius Pilate
was crucified
dead and buried
He descended into hell
The third day he rose again from the dead

We serve a living Savior who is in the world today. Jesus is alive!!!

So what? What does the resurrection mean to you?

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. (Matthew 28:1)

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. (Matthew 28:2-4)

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” (Matthew 28:5-7)

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (Matthew 28:8)

Best Kept Secret

How does it feel when someone tells you a secret? Can you keep a secret?

One phrase I’ve often heard people use to describe a business is “the best kept secret in town.”
Have you ever said or heard that about a business? What business? Why?

One of the primary fields within business is marketing. One of my undergraduate degrees is in marketing. What is marketing? According to Wikipedia it is “the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling that product or service.” Communicating value. What are some tools used in marketing to communicate value? Billboards, television commercials, spam e-mails, radio spots, newspaper ads, storefront signs, product placement in a movie, direct mail postcards…

What is the most effective form of marketing? Word of mouth!

If a business is the best kept secret in town, there are only a few possible reasons:

  1. The product or service is mediocre, despite the owner’s opinion!
  2. Few people have experienced the product or service so few can communicate.
  3. The people that have experienced the product or service don’t tell others.

In a recent survey, people tell an average of nine people about a good experience and sixteen about a poor one.


With social media, it’s possible to communicate with more people than ever. A simple Facebook or Twitter post praising or trashing a company can impact countless others.

Here’s the point:
nobody wants to be the best kept secret in town—unless they are doing something illegal! If you have a great restaurant, you want the world to know. If you sell Amway or Pampered Chef or Mary Kay you want to make sure your friends know to buy from you. If you have a chiropractic office, you want the community to be aware of the health benefits they can experience under your care.

Marketing Jesus?

Many have balked at the idea of marketing Jesus. He’s not a business or a product to be sold. Remember the definition of marketing? Communicating value.

Do you value Jesus? Do you value His love? Do you value the sacrifice He made dying on the cross for you?

I believe Jesus Christ is the best-kept secret in town. It should not be!

You may think, “Everyone knows about Jesus,” but that’s simply not true. Many think they know about Jesus, but are there understandings correct?

A few years ago a group of churches in our region got together to form
EACH: Everyone A Chance to Hear. The goal was and remains to allow every man, woman and child in southeastern Michigan to hear about Jesus—the real story.

The goal has not been to get everyone in the area to attend church, pray a prayer, or give money. The goal is simply to give everyone a chance to hear about Jesus, to receive an invitation to follow Jesus which they can choose to accept or reject.

Good News

Sharing Jesus is not selling Jesus. It’s not a consumerist exercise. It is sharing good news.

Everyone likes good news. Unfortunately, what is good for one person is not always perceived as good for another.

For example, I love the
Philadelphia Phillies (they play baseball!). When I was a boy our family took a trip out east to visit the 13 Original Colonies. George Washington and Ben Franklin were among my boyhood heroes and my favorite city was Philadelphia, home of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. That same summer I started getting interested in sports and collecting baseball cards and being the strange kid that I was—am!—I adopted Philadelphia’s sports teams as my favorites (I cheer for my Detroit home teams, too).

If I told you the Phillies won their game last night (they did/didn’t), would that be good news to you? Probably not. It would be great news to me…and the more you get to know and love me, the more you may grow interested in the Phillies. Over time, she has gotten to know me, the things and people I love, and is now a raging fan of the Fightin’ Phils! In my dreams!

Several weeks ago I was at the greenroom and I realized two friends of mine, Vince and Brad, had never met. Knowing they both played guitar, loved music, and had a passion for the poor, I was thrilled to introduce them to one another. You might call me a matchmaker, in a sense, and it brought me great joy to see them connect.

Sharing our faith is not about selling a product. It’s about introducing friends. It’s about introducing our best friend, Jesus, to those we know and love. It’s about sharing our story—His story—and encouraging others to journey with us toward knowing, loving, serving and obeying the One who demonstrated what it means to be truly human.

If you can’t get excited about Jesus, you’ve never truly encountered Him. You can’t know Jesus and not be changed. For many of us, it happened so long ago we can’t remember life without Him and we take Him for granted.

Meanwhile, our world is messed up, desperately searching for answers to life’s most challenging questions regarding purpose, meaning, peace, contentment and joy.

If you know Jesus and you keep Him to yourself, you are selfish! There, I said it! Good news is meant to be shared!

Why is sharing the good news of Jesus so much more difficult than talking about our favorite sports team, announcing a new job, or sending out party invitations?

1. Never discuss politics or religion. The problem with such discussions is they usually become debates with a winner and loser rather than a dialogue that seeks to build on common ground and further a relationship.

2. Fear of rejection. It might happen. In many parts of the world, merely talking about Jesus can get you arrested or even killed. We enjoy immense freedoms in this nation…and most of us take them for granted. You might get rejected. Jesus was rejected. There is a price to pay in following Jesus, but it is SO worth it!

Some of you have heard this quote:

“Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

Do you know who said it? There is a legend that states it was said by St. Francis of Assisi, but it is, in fact, just a legend. St. Francis never said such a thing because it is simply impossible to preach the Gospel without words. The Gospel is inherently verbal, and preaching the Gospel is inherently verbal behavior.

It is true that our credibility is vital. Some have said we are the only Bible many will ever read. One of the greatest objections people have with Christianity is how so-called Christians live and behave.

Let’s face it, Christians don’t have a great reputation in our culture, especially in Ann Arbor. We’re associated with hate, hypocrisy, and politics far more than faith, hope and love. We can change that. We MUST change that. We do it by living out our faith every day. We’re not perfect examples, but we’re living examples. When we screw up, we admit it, say we’re sorry, and seek forgiveness.

In some instances, our lives will be so radical, people will ask what’s different about our lives. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, said

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

Of course, if we only spend time with Christians, it’s tough. Have you ever told someone some exciting news only to discover they already knew! Ugh!

Friends, we must
Love the lost. The word “lost” sounds negative, but Jesus used it. Perhaps you want to call it not-yet-found! We must know people that don’t know Jesus. Who do you know that is far from God. Love them. This is an area in which I struggle. I say that I love lost people, but I have few friends in my life that do not follow Jesus. I am striving to be more intentional about building friendships with non-Christians. Being a pastor can be an occupational hazard!

Pray for the lost. Last week we looked at these words from Paul in the book of Ephesians:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

Some people are afraid to talk about Jesus because they might not say the right things. There are two reasons not everyone on the planet follows Jesus:

  1. They’ve never been introduced to Him.
  2. They have rejected Him.

When we talk about Jesus, we can address objection one and often deal with objection two as well. Do they really know the Jesus of the Bible or just the aroma of religious people? We’re dealing with spiritual realities. It’s important to know the Bible, but few follow Jesus because someone answered all of their intellectual questions. Most just get to know Jesus and discover His plans, love, and will are far better than our own.

We are not called to be sales people sent to get people to pray a prayer. We have been sent on a mission to seek and save the lost. We offer a compelling
invitation and leave it up to the Holy Spirit of God to guide them to accept it. The greatest miracle is not when the sick are healed or the crippled can walk but when a sinner surrenders their life to Jesus. We can’t make that happen; we can only extend the invitation.

Talk with the lost. I did not say talk to them! We have two ears and one mouth. Listen. Inquire. One of my favorite questions is, “Where are you at on your spiritual journey?” You might ask simply, “Do you believe in God?” and ask why or why not. The goal is not necessarily to get them to repent on the spot and surrender their life to Jesus! The objective is to invite others to meet Jesus and take one step toward Him. It might be the defining moment or it might be an opportunity for one of many barriers between them and God to be removed. Actions may speak louder than words, but we need words, too. What do you say? Tell your story. That’s one of the best parts of baptism—hearing before and after stories. Nobody can argue with your story.

“I was blind but now I see.” (John 9:25b)

“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and violent man, I was shown mercy. (1 Timothy 1:13a)

“I was depressed and suicidal and Jesus has given me purpose and hope.”

“I was addicted and out of control and now I have peace in my life.”

What has God done in your life? Anything? If so, share it!

Give to the lost. I don’t mean money; I mean ourselves and our community. Following Jesus is not a solo effort but a team activity, a family experience. Throw parties, inviting Christians and not-yet-Christians to connect. Tell people about our weekly gatherings where others like myself can join you in teaching others about the truths of God’s Word, the Bible. Without time and energy, no relationship can survive, much less thrive.

Welcome to the Family

This is all about family. Without babies, families will eventually die. Jesus’ message was simple: love God and love our neighbor. He said as we go about our lives to make disciples, and there’s nothing more loving than living like Jesus and inviting others to join us on the journey. It’s not about morality, rules, or organized religion. It’s about being a family on mission, living lives filled with faith, hope and love.

I believe as our world gets more chaotic, the search for meaning and purpose is only going to increase. We have an incredible opportunity to invite others to join us on the journey, to join us as adopted children of our Creator God in following our big brother Jesus who died and rose again to give us life—radical, abundant life now and forever (John 10:10).


A few weeks ago as I was walking into one of my favorite stores I saw “Store Closing” signs everywhere. I was saddened to learn this great business will soon be gone. Perhaps it was the best kept secret in town and, although I shopped there frequently, I rarely told others about my good experiences.

Good news must be shared.

It’s one thing to remain quiet about a store or restaurant but quite another to be silent about the greatest news ever, the love of God. John 3:16 says

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Jesus did not die just for us. He died for the world.
Jesus was not raised from the dead just for us. He was raised for the world.

But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? (Romans 10:14,
The Message)

We have good news. We’ve got great news! Don’t keep it to yourself. Let’s share it!

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