Always Remember, Family rules, 1 March 2015

Big Idea: A healthy church family remembers its history…and His story.


Every year Oxford University Press, publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary, announces a “word of the year.” For example, in 2005 it was “podcast.” 2009’s word was “unfriend.” The 2013 word of the year was “selfie.”

Have you ever taken a selfie? Why?

We take pictures for one primary reason—to capture a moment and remember an event. I remember when my dad borrowed the first Sony video camera from a friend. We saw ourselves in black and white on our television and would later fill literally hundreds of videotapes (remember those?) with events recorded for future viewing. In fact, it’s not uncommon when we visit my mom to see our younger selves on her TV!

Imagine a world without video or even photography. How would we record an event? Primal cultures often drew pictures or used hieroglyphics. The most common tool we have is letters and books. Folk songs and folk tales have been popular oral traditions of remembering the past.

Know Thyself
Be Real
Welcome Strangers
Resolve Conflict
Serve Together
Celebrate Diversity
Make Disciples

Today’s rule is “always remember.”

Always remember. Like the others, it’s simple. Two words. Always remember. The opposite would be…never forget!

Why do remember…or why do we forget?

There’s a prominent subject in school dedicate to remembrance: history.

Do you like history?

Here are a few famous history quotes:

“The more you know of you history, the more liberated you are.” - Maya Angelou

“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” - Edmund Burke

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” - Winston Churchill

Of course no quotes are more important than those from God. Did you know God remembers? “Of course,” you say, “He never forgets.” In the ninth chapter of Genesis he speaks to Noah following the flood.

I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Genesis 9:15-16)

Often the English word “remember” is a command to us. Why? Because we forget!

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. (Deuteronomy 5:15a)

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, (1 Chronicles 16:12)

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. (Psalm 77:11)

This morning, family, there are three things I want us to always remember.

Scio’s History

First, our church family history. We began as the Ypsilanti Gospel Tabernacle in 1934. You may recall we celebrated our 80th anniversary last year.

The name was changed to the Alliance Bible Fellowship in 1984 when it moved to Carpenter School in Ann Arbor.

In 1988, this building was completed and our family became known as Scio Community Church.

(If the westward migration continues, we’ll eventually be called the Chicago Alliance Church!).

Many great pastors have guided our family over these 81 years and I’m humbled to serve today.

As we did last year, we celebrate God’s faithfulness over more than eight decades. A lot has changed since 1934, but our family remains together following Jesus.

The Alliance

Our church’s history doesn’t actually begin in Ypsilanti in 1934, but rather in New York City in the late 1800’s with a Canadian named A.B. Simpson. He established the New York Gospel Tabernacle “to bring likeminded people together into an organization that could facilitate outreach ministries.” This included the first team of missionaries to the Congo in 1994. Although the Christian & Missionary Alliance did not officially become a denomination until 1974, mission has literally been our middle name. We have brothers and sisters in 70 countries planing churches, training national church leaders, providing relief and development assistance, medical and dental care, and microenterprise projects. We have nearly 2000 churches in the USA, about 600 of which are intercultural. Globally, there are over 3 million people in our Alliance family

The Church

The third thing I want us to remember is the Church of Jesus Christ. It began about two thousand years ago from Jewish roots dating back to a covenant made between God and Abraham.

Theologian N.T. Wright views the Bible as a 5 Act Play.

Act 1: creation
Acts 2: the Fall
Act 3: Israel
Act 4: Jesus
Act 5: New Testament and the people of God (the Church)

Some have suggested we are in Act 6, with Act 7 being the new heaven and new earth mentioned in Revelation.

If indeed there are seven acts, Jesus is at the center in Act 4. His life, death and resurrection were not intended to begin a new religion, but rather pave the way for us to reconcile with our heavenly Father, discover what it means to be truly human, and experience the kingdom of God.

Perhaps you’ve looked at our
list of family rules and thought we should include “love God” or “love others,” but those two basic commands of Jesus have been interwoven throughout, and today we remember our Messiah who faithfully modeled those two simple yet challenging commands.


For centuries our brothers and sisters have remembered Jesus through an act known as the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, or communion. It’s obedience to a command of Jesus.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

Sometimes we are tempted to go through the motions, eating a tiny cracker and drinking a taste of grape juice. The context was actually supper. It was a meal. Perhaps we should do communion during our potlucks.

Paul continues to the people of Corinth

So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)

Paul adds…

That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:30-32)

So What?

Throughout the scriptures we are told by God to remember. Without understanding the past we will struggle to understand the present and we will surely repeat mistakes.

Some want to live in the past. This is extremely dangerous. The rear view mirror helps us see where we’ve been and how we’ve got here, but if we stare too long in the rear view mirror we’ll have a tragic future!

We must remember the past. We can even celebrate the past. But we must never live in the past. God is always doing a new thing.

You have heard these things; look at them all.
Will you not admit them?
“From now on I will tell you of new things,
of hidden things unknown to you. (Isaiah 48:6)

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17)

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22)

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. (Luke 5:37-38)

We are in Act 6 of the 7 act play God is producing. Many fear the future, but I’ve got great news for you: Jesus is already there! He’s in 2016. He’s in 2017. He’s in 3017! Every generation experiences things better and worse than previous generations, but God is with us…always. He is gradually unveiling His plans for humanity that will eventually lead to a new heaven and a new earth—an eternity with Him! I’ve read the end of the book.
The best is yet to come!

In the meantime, let’s remember the past, fully embrace the present, and co-create the future with Jesus until He returns.


Selfies are fun ways to capture ourselves in various places. Perhaps even better than a selfie is a group photo that shows us with family, in community. We were created for relationships—with God and others—and often our best memories come from shared experiences with others.

One More Thing

One more thing…join the family! You know our history. You know our mission. You know our rules. All that’s left is for you to briefly share your story with the elders.

Some people have told me they don’t need a piece of paper in order to be married, but a marriage certificate has meaning. It formally declares one’s commitment to another.

Church membership is similar. Perhaps you’ve thought, “This is my family, but why do I need to become a member?” Unlike American Express, membership is not loaded with privileges, but it does make a statement to the rest of the family that you’re committed to us. You want to be more than a roommate or spectator.

If you’re not yet a member of Scio, I urge to speak with an elder about formally joining our family. It really matters. Every Sunday is a family reunion, and you’re invited to join our family!

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

He's Still Alive! 8 April 2012

If you could have dinner with one deceased person other than a relative or Bible character, with whom would you dine? Why?

There are so many great historic figures that have changed the world. A few of them include

  • George Washington
  • Thomas Edison
  • Henry Ford
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Rosa Parks
  • Steve Jobs

They have had tremendous influence on our lives, but each has one thing in common—they can do nothing further to change the world. Their work is done. They are, by definition, history.

As much as I love President’s Day, MLK Day, and other celebrations of great men and women, this day is different. Today is a celebration of Jesus. He’s still alive!

The Story

For decades Christians have been complaining about the commercialization and secularization of Christmas. I love Christmas, but as much as I appreciate Jesus’ birthday, today is the real day of celebration. Whether you call it easter or dismiss the pagan roots and refer to it as Resurrection Sunday, there is no greater celebration than that of a risen Jesus.

But did it really happen? Did Jesus really conquer death? The whole of the New Testament revelation rests on the resurrection as an historical fact.

Consider this...there was a very educated, respected, religious man named Saul. He was so zealous about his Jewish faith that he led the execution of countless Christians who threatened the organized religion of the day. God gripped his heart, changed his name to Paul, and this is what the former skeptic wrote:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15:3-7)

Not only were there hundreds of eyewitnesses of Jesus after His resurrection, many died for their simple testimony to that fact. It would be foolish to die for a lie.

Paul continues a few verses later

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

If Jesus is dead, let’s all go home!

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

He concludes

If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32)

Friends, because Jesus lives, we have hope. Because Jesus lives, we can face tomorrow. Because Jesus lives, we can discover meaning, and purpose and joy.

The Resurrection is the defining moment in the movement of Jesus, and arguably of all human existence.

By definition, faith is involved in following Jesus, or any, uh, faith! Jesus’ posture was always one of invitation. He said, “Follow me. Come and see.” Today He is still inviting men, women and children to follow Him. Notice I didn’t say obey a bunch of rules or engage in organized religion. His invitation is to Himself. It’s to know Jesus.

Unlike George Washington and Rosa Parks, it is possible to know Jesus, because Jesus is still alive!

There are two things that make Jesus unique from other world religions. First, He is alive. I can’t prove it 100% today, but for more than 2000 years people have been searching for His dead body and have come up, uh, empty. If Jesus is dead, our faith is dead. Our hope is dead. Our future is dead.

Second, following Jesus is truly about a relationship with God, not a religion. Religion is spelled D-O. It’s what people do to earn God’s favor, access to paradise after death, and the approval of their peers. Tragically, there are many people that practice the religion of Christianity, working hard to be good enough for a perfect and holy God, which is impossible! Jesus despises the religion of Christianity!!! Why, because it’s not what you DO but what has already been D-O-N-E on the cross. Only following and knowing a perfect Jesus who died on the cross for you can grant you reconciliation with God and the ability to know your Creator. It’s not enough to know about Jesus. You can know Him today!!!

Is your head filled with knowledge, but your heart empty? Have you been pursuing the religion of Christianity rather than the relationship of knowing Jesus Christ.

Paul, the writer of the letter we read earlier to the church in Corinth, wrote this to the people of the city of Philippi:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

Paul was not content with knowledge of Jesus or religious gatherings and practices. He wanted to know Jesus, and you can only truly know a person who is living. Paul knew that Jesus understood suffering and death. Rather than a distant Creator, Jesus knows what it’s like to be human, to experience pain, to laugh and cry, and to journey through life. He’s not above it, He lived it...and He’s living today!

I can tell you from personal experience that my life changed when I went from knowing about God to knowing God. Amazingly, my faith is more than just reading about history in the Bible and trying to follow the rules. Every day is a new adventure of literally doing life with Jesus, because He’s still alive! Do you know Him?

No one can remain neutral regarding Jesus' resurrection. The claim is too staggering, the event is too earthshaking, the implications are too significant, and the matter is too serious. We must each either receive or reject it as truth for us, and to remain indifferent or undecided is to reject it. (Mark Driscoll)

Some words of encouragement or inspiration for celebrating Easter and beyond, from N. T. Wright's "Surprised by Hope" (pp 255-257):

But my biggest problem starts on Easter Monday. I regard it as absurd
and unjustifiable that we should spend forty days keeping Lent,
pondering what it means, preaching about self-denial, being at least a
little gloomy, and then bringing it all to a peak with Holy Week,
which in turn climaxes in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday… and then,
after a rather odd Holy Saturday, we have a single day of celebration.

All right, the Sundays after Easter still lie within the Easter
season. We still have Easter readings and hymns during them. But
Easter week itself ought not to be the time when all the clergy sigh
with relief and go on holiday. It ought to be an eight-day festival,
with champagne served after morning prayer or even before., with lots
of alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. Is it any wonder
people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we
don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to
live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies?
Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is
celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days
of fasting and gloom? It’s long overdue that we took a hard look at
how we keep Easter in church, at home, in our personal lives, right
through the system. And if it means rethinking some cherished habits,
well, maybe it’s time to wake up. That always comes as a surprise.

You can listen to the podcast here.