My Two Dads, 19 June 2016

My Two Dads
Father’s Day 2016
1 John 3:1-3; Hebrews 12:7-11

Big Idea:
God is the greatest Dad!

Happy Father’s Day! I realize like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can be emotional…….

This morning I’d like to read two letters. I’ve written one to my biological dad and the other to my heavenly Dad. I wish I could introduce you to my earthly dad, though hopefully you’ll get a glimpse of him through my letter. If you don’t know my heavenly Father, I can and will introduce you to Him!

Dear Dad,

It has been so long since I’ve spoken with you. I can’t remember the last time I heard you say my name. I miss you SO much.

It was horrible watching you fade away over the past decade or so, your mind ravaged by Alzheimer’s. I’m grateful you never got angry and loud but instead remained so calm. You seemed to be comfortable, even during your final days two years ago. I’m so glad I was with you on May 5, 2014 to watch you take your last breath, surrounded by mom, Heather, and other family members.

Thank you.
Thank you for loving me, for loving my sister, and for loving mom. Everyone who knew you knew you were a man of love. Jesus summarized the entire Law of the Bible in two commands: love God and love others. You were a great example of love.

Thank you for disciplining me. I know that sounds strange. I certainly didn’t like it when you made me write every verse in Proverbs which speaks about wisdom. I didn’t like being spanked! You disciplined out of love, though. The writer of Hebrews said

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11)

You disciplined because you loved me. I appreciate that now.

Thank you for music. I am grateful for my musical heritage. You not only had a love for black gospel music which I share to this day, you were a skilled musician and encouraged me to become one, too.

Thank you for loving Jesus. He was the most important person in your life and He’s the most important person in mine.

Thank you for discipling me. Actions speak louder than words. You provided me with both. You were not perfect, but you were a living example.

I saw Jesus in you as you cared for the least of these, repairing cars for single moms.

I saw Jesus in you as you were generous, giving to not only our church but other ministries, too. I’m not sure how much you gave, but I know it was far beyond the 10% tithe set as a minimum in the Old Testament.

I saw Jesus in you as you shared Christ with customers and co-workers, never pressuring people but rather inviting them to a personal relationship with their Creator.

I saw Jesus in you as you used your gift of leadership as the head of the elder board. Your wisdom was deeply needed many times and without you and mom that church would’ve closed decades ago.

On a side note, do you remember when I asked your forgiveness for judging you? I told you I once thought if you were a REAL Christian you’d become a pastor but I came to realize it would be as wrong for you to leave the marketplace and become a pastor as it would for me to leave vocational ministry for a marketplace career. You impacted so many lives no pastor would’ve ever been able to reach.

There’s so much more I could write, so many great memories of vacations, ball games, Boy Scouts, car repair, …and your amazing laugh! I love you, Dad. I want to be like You and I can’t wait to see you!

Your son,



Dear heavenly Dad,

Thank you.
Thank you for blessing me with such an incredible earthly dad. He remains my small-h hero. I miss him so much…and look forward to a reunion someday in heaven. He was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received and I hope to be half the man he was to my wife, kids, and friends.

Thank You for loving me. Everyone who knows You knows You are a loving Dad. In fact, You are the definition of love! John wrote

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

I know we often misunderstand love. We confuse it with being nice. Love is not tolerant. In fact, they’re often polar opposites. You don’t tolerate us. You’re not passive. Your nature is to give, to have our best interest at heart, and to do whatever necessary to ensure not necessarily our happiness but our holiness.

Thank you for loving my sisters and brothers here in this room and beyond. Eight months ago you brought our family to Toledo to join this First Alliance family and we are so grateful! We have been encouraged, challenged, and loved-on by great men, women, and children, too. It all began with You and Your love.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

There’s so much in those three short verses. You have “lavished” Your love on us…on all of us. We are Your children which means not only a relationship with You but also with one another.

Thank You for hope. John continues

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

This world is so broken. It is groaning and grieving. Violence, heroin, injustice, corruption, hunger, hatred, and pride are just a few of the many sins ravaged our planet. They don’t reflect Your glory, purity, love, or peace. We are to be a faithful presence here and now, but we also live with the hope that Christ will appear, we will be like him, and we will see him…which reminds of my greatest thanks.

Thank You for Jesus! I can’t imagine how people could possibly live without Jesus. You proved Your love to us by sending Jesus (John 3:16).

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

Oh how I love Jesus! He was the wisest person to ever walk the earth. He was the greatest teacher. He healed the sick. He cast out demons. He modeled for us what it means to be truly human. No other life has been more analyzed or emulated. Yet his life was only part of the story.

His death was horrific and scandalous, yet so glorious.
The cross is a symbol of love, of our sins being atoned for, paid for, and ultimately forgiven. You sent your only son on a mission to die…and there’s not greater pain than watching your child die. We’ve seen movies of the crucifixion and imagine the agony of Jesus, but You, Dad, experienced horrific anguish, too. Your one son received the penalty of the sins of your adopted children. No dad has given a greater gift than the gift of Jesus You have given to us. Without the broken body and the poured-out blood of Jesus I would have no hope, no forgiveness, no joy, no peace, and no love. Because of the cross every man, woman and child has the opportunity to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord and experience abundant life with purpose.

Thank You for disciplining me. The writer of Hebrews was so right!

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

You disciplined because you loved me. I appreciate that now. I have grown through trials. My character has been shaped through testing. I know You’re not done with me yet (which scares me sometimes!) but I can see how You’ve always disciplined out of love, not hate or anger. You want what’s best for me, and sometimes what’s best isn’t a banana split on the beach (though I’d enjoy that!).

On a side note, I’m so sorry judging you. There have been so many times when I wanted You to do what I wanted rather than truly seeking Your will. The older I get, the more I realize Daddy knows best, but sometimes it’s hard to trust, especially when I have to wait. I know You are good, though…all the time! Hindsight is 20/20 and now I see the reasons for many of the trials.

Thank You for music. I love music. I love using music to worship and praise You, though worship is so much more than just singing songs. I want all of my life to bring You honor and glory because You’re worth it. You deserve all worship.

Thank You for Your Word.

The vast majority of people throughout history have not had 24/7 access to the scriptures. I’m so blessed to have a copy of the Bible…several, really! I love reading and listening to it on my iPhone. I love studying it. There’s so much to learn and explore about You…and me, too! I’m grateful for the Bible not only for knowledge but also wisdom and understanding…and to know You!

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:103-105)

There’s so much more I could write, so many great memories of answered prayers, perfect timing, unexpected blessings, and unending faithfulness. I love you, Dad. I want to be like You and I can’t wait to see you!

Your son,


  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church 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.