DashHouse.com

The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

God's Word to Workaholics (Exodus 20:8-11)

Welcome to the first long weekend of the summer. This is the weekend when everyone really starts to feel like it is summer. The boats have been launched. The jet skis are running. The Blue Jays are playing. It's warm enough to do anything except to swim. I notice that when the May long weekend comes around, people seem to be a lot more relaxed. To borrow the advertising slogan from Coca Cola, a long weekend can be the "pause that refreshes."

If you've watched any of the hockey playoffs, you may have seen the commercials by Labbatt for a website called "FreeYourTime.ca."? I went to that website and saw this:

Had enough of the rat race? Tired of pushing paper, answering phones, squeezing into packed subways, sitting in endless traffic, eating at your desk...

Need more Free Time?

Make your voice heard here. Take a stand against the Free Time Crisis. .... An extra holiday wouldn't be so bad either...

This spring Blue Light, the champion of Free Time, will petition the Ontario government to declare a long weekend in June to help you FREE YOUR TIME.

So far 113,000 people have signed the petition, including me. But I wouldn't hold my breath. Premier Mike Harris has laughed it off as a joke. Our only alternative is to move to Europe, where in some countries you start off with four or five week's holiday. Either that or you can start lobbying your boss.

Thousands of years ago, God have ten values that we can use to build strong families.? God intended that these would be values or guidelines that would provide the basis for strong families and fulfilling lives. The past few weeks we've looked at some of these values - putting God first; accepting no substitutes; taking God seriously; and honoring my parents.

One of the ten values that God gave was designed to free your time. God said, thousands of years ago, that if you want to live a strong and fulfilling life, if you want to build a strong family, and if you want to avoid burnout, you've got to follow God's maintenance schedule. This is one of God's greatest gifts to us. Winston Churchill called it "a divine and priceless institution...essentially the Day of Emancipation form the compulsion and strain of daily work."? It's the longest of the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20:8-11, God said:

Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any kind of work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; then he rested on the seventh day. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)

This isn't one of the Ten Suggestions. This is one of the Ten Commandments. It's absolutely essential if you're going to build a strong family and a successful life.

The Sabbath comes from a word that means "time out."? You could translate Sabbath as "take a breath."? The purpose of the Sabbath is to prevent burnout. It is God's gift to men and women so that we could live the life that God intends us to live.

The reality is that since God gave this command, we've been fighting against it. There are lots of people who would never think of murder, adultery, or blasphemy. They wouldn't think of breaking most of the Ten Commandments. But they have no problem breaking this one. Why do we ignore this command?

One reason we ignore this command is because we think that the Sabbath no longer applies to us. We've been taught that it's an Old Testament law that has no relevance today. In fact, out of all the Ten Commandments, this is the one that is the most controversial. Some people have taught that this is a command that we can safely ignore. But we'll see in a moment that the principle of the Sabbath is as relevant today as it has ever been. We need a day of rest every week if we're to live the way God intended us to live.

But the other reason we ignore this command is because this command has been twisted throughout the years. We've taken what was meant as a blessing and turned it into a burden. By the time that Jesus came, rabbis had added hundreds of rules to define what you could or couldn't do on the Sabbath day. We've done the same. We have phrases like "a month of Sundays."? People have actually preached that you shouldn't read your newspaper on a Sunday. You shouldn't watch TV on a Sunday. You certainly shouldn't play sports on a Sunday. No movies, no parties, no dates. We've added all these rules that have turned the Sabbath from a blessing to a burden. That's not at all what God had intended.

When Jesus came, Jesus said yes to the Sabbath day, but no to the traditions. I love what John Piper says: "Jesus didn't come to abolish the Sabbath day, but to dig it out...and give it to us again as a blessing rather than as a burden."? One of the ways that the Sabbath has changed for us is that the day isn't as important. Colossians 2:16-17 and Romans 14:5-6 says that we're no longer tied down to what day we celebrate the Sabbath. In fact, the early church began meeting on Sundays - which were workdays - in celebration of Jesus' resurrection. In essence, Jesus said no to the ceremonial obligations of the Sabbath, but he said yes to the principle of the Sabbath.

Jesus said in Mark 2:27, "The Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath."? In other words, the Sabbath wasn't designed as a straightjacket. It's not designed to take away our freedom. It's designed to give us freedom. Freedom from legalistic laws that take away the gift of the Sabbath. But freedom also from twenty-four hour work days, freedom from seven-day workweeks, freedom from working vacations, working lunches, and working dinners. God is declaring freedom from being physically and electronically chained to our offices seven days a week. It's a gift to be received. It's a necessity to live the life that God intends.

Why do we need a day of rest every seven days?

1. OUR BODIES NEED IT

Our bodies need a break. Your body was not designed to be driven and pressed seven days a week. Statistics now show that when we work excessively without breaks, our bodies begin to suffer with symptoms like high blood pressure or even premature heart attacks. One doctor discovered that more oxygen is lost in a day's work than is recovered in the night's sleep. The body needs one day off a week to restore the proper amount of oxygen to the system to begin a new week's work.

Your body needs a rest. During the French Revolution, the government repealed the laws that Sundays were to be a day off. They said, "Every day will now be a day of work."? Within months, they had to cancel that law and re-establish one day in seven as a day of rest. The health of the French people collapsed. It didn't work.

You can get away with it for a while. But your body needs one day in seven that's free from stress. The old saying goes, "If the bow is always bent, it will break."? You need one day in seven to unstring the bow and to relax. On our days off, we usually end up mowing the lawn, going to the bank, running to the cleaner, dropping the kids off, washing the car, and cleaning the house. We read books called When I Relax, I Feel Guilty. We need one guilt-free day to relax and to allow our bodies to rest.

2. OUR EMOTIONS NEED IT

The story's told of a new Navy jet fighter that shot itself down. Flying at supersonic speed, it ran into the cannon shells that it had fired only seconds before. The jet was flying too fast.

We're moving so fast in our society that our emotions are getting frazzled. This past Thursday, an article appeared in the National Post with this headline: "Drivers All Edgy."? The article went on to say:

Growing frustration on the road is causing a large majority of drivers to run red lights and commit other dangerous and hostile acts, a new study shows.

About 85% of those surveyed by the Canada Safety Council admitted to speeding, tailgating, passing on the shoulder of a roadway and stealing parking spots.

It's not just on the roads that we're getting edgy. We're more stressed than ever before. Our jobs are more demanding. Our lives are getting busier. Laptops, pagers, and cell phones mean that we never seem to escape the demands of work and life. Our lives are getting more complicated, and we are getting more and more stressed.

In the current issue of Fast Company, Seth Godin recounts his first product launch about 15 years ago:

A team of 40 of us stayed in the office all night and all day for about a month. We slept on the floor (when we slept at all) and only left the office for an occasional shower...We made our deadline...and saved the company. I remember the perverse pride we all took in our insane dedication...But it almost cost me my girlfriend...and it definitely cost me my health: I was sick for six months afterward.

He concludes, "It's time to stop the madness and reset your internal clock."

The average corporate employee receives 177 messages in a day by email, fax, voicemails, and letters. Check your email. There are people sending you messages at midnight and at 4 AM. Our emotions need one day a week in which we say, "Today, I don't do emails. Today I'm turning off the beeper and leaving the phone off."? We should all think about joining the Lead Pencil Club - a club with over 800 members from many countries. The Lead Pencil Club believes in opposing this "godless age of speed and technology," its motto is "Not so Fast."? It's a club that believes in not answering the phone at supper time. We need one day off in seven to keep our emotions healthy.

3. OUR SPIRITS NEED IT

If you're going to stay spiritually healthy - if you're going to keep the first four commandments and have a healthy and growing spiritual life - you need one day off in seven to recalibrate your soul. One person has called the Sabbath "rehearsing for eternity."? Reggie McNeal writes about the dangers of busyness to spiritual leaders, but I think this applies to all of us:

Fax machines, emails, telephones, beepers, an over-committed schedule, the press of people's needs...these are the tools of mass destruction for spiritual leaders. Their development and deployment often proceed without inspection. They threaten to shut down the spiritual leader's communion with God. Once that happens, the leader's effectiveness is destroyed. The leader becomes a casualty of a struggle that is as old as humanity - the drowning out of eternity by the screams of temporal concerns.

What is the Sabbath?? It is a day to restore eternity to our souls. It's a day that should connect us to heaven in such a way that it causes shifts in our weekday priorities. Somebody has compared the Sabbath to a date with God. All great marriages are great because the couples continue to date each other after their wedding. Sabbath days are dates with God. Reggie McNeal continues:

Remember, Sabbath is a gift to us from God. Accept his invitation. You can relax in his presence because he is safe to share your life with. More than anything else, he just wants the time to be with you. Unfettered and unbusy time to enjoy you, to show you his love. Time to make you a champion at living.

How can I keep the Sabbath day?? God said, "Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God" (Exodus 20:8-10). What does it mean to keep the Sabbath day holy?? Holy means set apart or different. God says that we're supposed to take one day a week and do something different than we do the other six days of the week. On the seventh day, we're to have a change of pace. That's what it means - unique, reserved, special.

How can we do this?? I want to look at three ways that we can keep the Sabbath day the way that God intended:

1. REST YOUR BODY

The first way that we can keep the Sabbath day holy is that we can rest our bodies. God himself set this as an example. When he created the world, it says he took six days to create the world and on the seventh he rested. Was God tired?? No, God does not get tired. So why did God rest on the seventh day?? He was modeling something God says is an important principal of life - every seven days you take a day off. We need to rest our bodies.

Psalm 127:2 says, "It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones."? Now you have a biblical basis for your Sunday afternoon nap. Jesus demonstrated this for us. We need to rest. Jesus relaxed and he never felt guilty about it. Jesus took naps. Jesus faced enormous pressures in his public ministry - crowds, demands, controversies, and problems. Crowds followed him, pressed him, and hounded him. They kept him up late and woke him up early in the morning. But Jesus knew how to rest his body. He said in Mark 4:35, "Let's cross to the other side of the lake."? You could rephrase that, "We're out of here."? And then Jesus slept. Jesus knew how to rest his body.

When we rest, we're imitating the God who rests. We're anticipating our day of rest. We're resting our body because our bodies were designed for rest. Psalm 23 says, "The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams."

The irony is that when we rest our bodies, we get more done the rest of the week. Two groups started to cross the United States in covered wagons during the gold rush. One stopped every seven days for rest and worship. The other group pressed ahead seven days a week. Which one do you think arrived first?? The group that had stopped every seven days a week won the race. A run-down person is an unproductive person. We need to rest our bodies.

2. RECHARGE YOUR EMOTIONS

The Sabbath isn't a day to be glum and miserable. It's a day to build play and praise into your life. It's a day for your emotions to be recharged. It's a day to stay emotionally healthy. Proverbs 14:30 says, "A relaxed attitude lengthens life."? The Sabbath is a day for us to loosen our grip. It's a day to inhale God's holiness and goodness. It's a day to rejoice that you are a gift to life, and that life is a gift to you.

Leonard Sweet writes that the Sabbath allows "the soul time and space to catch up to the body, and the body to catch up to itself before taking a deep breath and plunging into the new duties, activities, and responsibilities."? Scientists have found that in everyday activities, our brains produce beta waves of thirteen to twenty-five cycles per second. We spend most of our lives emitting beta waves. When we daydream, clear our minds of static and clutter, our minds emit alpha waves - waves of eight to twelve cycles per second. Sabbaths are about alpha waves. Sabbaths are about forgetting about mowing the lawn, paying the bills, and returning phone calls. Sabbaths are about standing in the garden - weeds and all - and breathing in the scents. It's about being rather than just doing.

I've found that certain actions don't help to re-create and recharge our emotions. Working doesn't work. Banking doesn't work. It's not refreshing to see how our stocks performed and to readjust our priorities. It's not even good to worry about work. When we w orry, we're not physically working, but we're mentally working.

I've also found that it might be good to refrain from shopping. It's not that shopping is necessarily wrong on the Sabbath - that's a separate issue - but it's not helpful. It feeds into the pattern of buy more and work more. It's good on the Sabbath to banish from our minds all the activities that might cause us stress - activities like paying bills, preparing tax returns, and making a list of things to do in the coming week. One wise woman made a deliberate choice to not think about people who make her angry. It's a time to recharge the emotions.

What about sports?? For one person, it can be refreshing to shoot hoops. It can be enjoyable for mom and dad to watch him do that. For another, it's competitive and stressful. In my mind, children playing and catching ball while parents watch is a fine image of Sabbath. It's said that John Calvin, the Protestant reformer, liked to bowl on Sunday afternoons. What's important is that it's a different day than the other six days. It's a day to be refreshed and not depleted.

What helps us to recharge our emotions?? Joyous worship - as we'll see in a minute. Time with loved ones is important. Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, "Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you in this world. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil."? Spend some time with your family. Enjoy great food. Cherish your children. Love the needy. Take a walk. Ride a bike. Watch a sunset. Browse through the stacks of Chapters while sipping a latte. Light some candles. Recharge your emotions.

We need to rest our bodies and recharge our emotions. But if we do only these two things, we'll have missed the Sabbath. The Sabbath isn't complete - in fact, we haven't even begun to enjoy the Sabbath, until we enjoy this next part of the Sabbath:

3. REFOCUS YOUR SPIRIT

The Sabbath isn't a day to do whatever we please. God said, "the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God" (Exodus 20:10). Isaiah 58:13-14 says:

Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don't pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD'S holy day. Honor the LORD in everything you do, and don't follow your own desires or talk idly. If you do this, the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and give you your full share of the inheritance I promised to Jacob, your ancestor. I, the LORD, have spoken!

Reggie McNeal says:

Enter Sabbath. It is not a day off to pursue whatever fancy is attainable and affordable. Rather, it is a day to restore eternity to our souls. God established Sabbath to accomplish a re-creation of eternity, a reminder of what is really real. This re-creation of eternity has two major activities - the worship of God and reflection on the work of our hands (translated - what is going on in our lives.)

In fact, the Bible gives us two reasons why we should take a Sabbath. It helps us remember that God created us. We are God's creation, and we need to take one day a week to remember the God who created us. "For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; then he rested on the seventh day. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy" (Exodus 20:11).

We also need to remember that God delivered us. Deuteronomy 5:15 says, "Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out with amazing power and mighty deeds. That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day."? On the Sabbath, we remember that God liberated us. It's a day of liberation and freedom. On the Sabbath we remember that it doesn't all depend on us. It is God who is our creator and our deliverer. It is God who is the source of all of our blessings.

The Sabbath is a day to show love to God, to break from your frantic rhythm, and to allow God to recharge your life. It's a day to delight in the Lord our God. It's a day to say to God, "Is what I am doing what you have called me to do?? Is my life pleasing to you?"? It's a time to hold our lives up to God's plumb line and to recalibrate our souls to heaven. It's a day to worship together with others in God's family.

Listen to these words:

It's not so much that we "keep the Sabbath" as that the Sabbath keeps us - keeps us whole, keeps us sane, keeps us spiritually alive. Genuine Sabbath-keeping is not a series of "you shall nots" but a string of celebrations. Its goal is not to shut you off from the realities of life, but to open you up to living. (Leonard Sweet)

Do you want to build a strong family life?? Do you want to live the life that God intends?? Then follow God's maintenance schedule. Take one day in seven to rest your body, to recharge our emotions, to refocus your spirit.

This is one of the best gifts you can give your family. You can teach them to live according to God's rhythm. You can model it for them.

If you're tired today, then you can commit to God to spend 14% of your life living the Sabbath. You can take one day in seven and make it a holy day. If you're tired today, you can come to Jesus and give him all of your life. Jesus said in Matthew 11:

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

I want to challenge you to start taking this commandment seriously. Build it into your life. Let's pray.

Father, there are a lot of us who are tired because we're not living this way. We've made the mistake of thinking that we're too busy, too stressed, too pressured to follow your command. As a result, our bodies have suffered. Our emotions have suffered. Our spiritual life has suffered. Our families are suffered.

Today, I commit to discovering the blessing of the fourth commandment. It was given as a gift from you. Help all of us to discover the rewards of having you free our time. It isn't a petition from Labbatt that can free our time. It's ultimately only you who can free our time.

If you don't have Christ at the center of your life - if your priorities are out of order, and you haven't been living for God, you can receive the gift of eternal life today. You can receive the rest that Jesus promised to those who come to him. You can pray these words:

"Today I come to you. I ask you to become the manager, the pacesetter, the teacher of my life. Today I trade the burdens of my sins, my failures, my misplaced priorities on you. I thank you for Jesus' invitation, and today I accept and begin to follow him, as best as I know how, for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name, Amen."

Honoring My Parents (Exodus 20:12)

We've been looking at the Ten Commandments - at the ten values that God gave us with which we can build strong families. Today, it's time to look at the fourth value - the one about the Sabbath - but I didn't think you'd mind if we looked at the fifth value. Exodus 20:12 says, "Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God will give you."

Today is the day that Hallmark has been waiting for. It's Mother's Day. Today, many of us will be going to restaurants, picking up the phone, and giving cards and flowers to our mothers. More flowers are sold on Mother's Day than on Valentine's Day. It's time to honor our mothers for all they've done for us.

Why should we do this? ?Thousands of years ago, when God gave the Ten Commandments, God gave us values to live by. If we followed these ten values, then we would live the life that God intended us to live. We would have lives that have been designed by God.

God started by giving four values that have to do with him. God said, "If you want to live the life that I designed you to live, you've got to put me first. You've got to get rid of any substitutes. You've got to take me seriously. And you've got to follow the maintenance schedule."? Successful living begins with putting God first. We can't live the lives that God designed for us unless we get our relationship with him right. We've spent three weeks looking at these values, and we're going to return to the fourth one next week.

But God didn't just give us values that tell us how to relate to him. God also gave us values that tell us how to live with each other. Out of the Ten Commandments, God have us six that tell us how to live successfully in human relationships with other people. And the order isn't accidental. Do you want to live the life that God has designed you to live?? Do you want to have successful and fulfilling relationships with other people?? Then it begins with this command - the first value that God gives about human relationships: "Honor your father and mother."? This is the foundational value of human relationship. Your attitude toward your parents will color every other attitude in your life.

The word honor means to give weight. Honoring your parents means to view them as weighty - to hold them in high esteem, elevating them to a place of importance and reverence. This isn't just a commandment for kids. You'll notice there's no time limit on this command. You can be eighty years old and your parents could be a hundred. We're commanded to honor our mothers and our fathers no matter how old they are. We can even honor our parents after they're gone, well into our own mature years. We can honor our parents' memory.

Why did God give us this commandment?

1. YOUR PARENTS ARE INFLUENTIAL

Our parents shape our lives. You are who you are because of your parents. One author writes, "What relationships challenge us more than those we maintain over the course of an entire lifetime?? And what relationship has more potential for both love and hate - and joy and sorrow - than the parent-child relationship?" (Bill Hybels, Laws of the Heart)

Your parents gave you more than your genes. They gave you your outlook on life. They either affirmed or discouraged you in discovering your interests, your abilities, and your aptitudes. You began to see the world the way that they saw it. They either accepted and praised you, or they ignored and belittled you. Your parents shaped your outlook.

Your parents gave you your view of authority. You either reject or accept authority today because of your parents. Children learn from their parents that certain lines must be drawn, certain expectations must be met, and certain people must be respected and obeyed. How a child learns about authority in the home will determine how she relates to teachers, coaches, employers, officials - and ultimately, to God.

Your parents also shaped your values. As a child and a teenager, you learned what your parents saw as important or unimportant. If your parents chased success, you probably are chasing success. If they were tight with money, you're probably tight with money. If they valued education, then you probably value education. If they had a genuine and growing relationship with Jesus Christ, then you probably learned the value of that relationship. You either accepted or rebelled against your parents' values. Your values are largely a result of the values that your parents instilled in you. Your parents have shaped your life.

He was a man who appeared to have everything, and yet his marriage, family, and health were falling apart. He had ulcers, migraines, and occasional chest pains. His wife was ready to leave him. He owned his own business, and so he had the freedom to set his own hours. And he chose his hours: nineteen to twenty per day. The odd time that he was home, he was sullen and withdrawn. His anger was explosive, and he drank too much. He admitted that his life was a bundle of activity and accumulation, but he could never do enough, and he could never earn enough to be satisfied.

When asked about his father one day, his mood became dramatically altered. His counselor learned that his father had regularly told his son, "You're a bum; you will always be a bum, nothing better!"? Without even knowing it, this man had set his life's goal as proving his dad wrong. He wanted his father to say, "Son, you're not a bum. I was entirely wrong."? Sadly, his father had been dead for years, but his life goal hadn't changed.

Even today, as a grown up, when you act in ways you don't understand and can't figure out your behavior, many times it's because you're still reacting to your parents. Many marriages have been ruined because a spouse has never resolved a relationship with a parent and they're taking it out on their husband or wife or kids. They say things like, "You're just like my mom."? Surveys have shown that people who get along with their parents have far less stress in their lives. Your parents have been influential in your life.

2. YOUR PARENTS ARE IMPERFECT

Another reason why God have us this command is because our parents are imperfect. Mother's Day isn't about perfect parents. Nobody here had perfect parents. When it comes to Father's Day, there are some cards I can't buy, because if I bought them they wouldn't be truthful. One of the reasons that God gave us this command, "Honor your parents," is for this very reason: because our parents are imperfect.

There is only one perfect parent, and that is God. The rest of us are deeply flawed. Nobody has perfect parents, and you're not a perfect parent either. Look at the families of the Bible. There's not a perfect family in sight. Leonard Sweet writes:

There are more nut-cake families and fruitcake families than there are angel-food-cake families. You think you've got a dysfunctional family?? Try being a member of the Adam-Eve family. Or the Isaac-Rebekah family. Or the Zebedee family. My New Testament contains the story of nary a single couple who had normal marriages or a perfect family of life. Can you list me the names of the perfect families in the Bible?? A typical family looks more and more like a typical love affair, full of rapture one day, fury and disgust the next.

I'm learning the truth of what Susan Hill said: "The moment you have children yourself, you forgive your parents everything."? Your parents weren't perfect?? Join the club. Nobody has imperfect parents. God calls us to honor our parents anyway.

The fifth commandment isn't based on merit. It doesn't say, "Honor your parents if they've done a really good job. This command is based on obedience. It's based on our relationship with God. If we want to obey God and enjoy the life that he's designed us for, we have to take this step.

To put it another way, there are some parents who don't deserve our honor. But we're called to honor them anyway. Place value on them. Don't dishonor them despite how they've hurt you. When you dishonor your parents, you hurt yourself even more than you hurt them. Honor your parents despite their imperfection.

One more reason why God gave this command:

3. YOUR PARENTS ARE WORTH IT

It's not hard for me to honor my parents. My parents weren't perfect, but they were awfully good. My mother gave of herself selflessly. She sacrificed herself to provide for her children despite the hardships that she faced. She never stopped loving me, even though I gave her plenty of reasons sometimes. Most importantly, she taught me about Jesus Christ. She introduced me to my Savior. My mother wasn't perfect, but my mother is worthy of honor. That's why I'm honoring her today.

A few years ago, a book came out called What My Parents Did Right. I like that title. It's easy to focus on the mistakes that our parents made. But most of us - even those of us who were deeply hurt by our parents - can see what our parents, and even our grandparents, did right. That's why we honor them today.

A physician, Joanna Siebert, wrote a letter to a church magazine with these words:

Today I visited an eight-year-old girl dying of cancer. Her body was disfigured by her disease and its treatment. She was in almost constant pain. As I entered her room, I was overcome almost immediately by her suffering - so unjust, unfair, unreasonable. Even more overpowering [however] was the presence of her grandmother lying in bed beside her with her huge body embracing this precious, inhuman suffering.

I stood in awe, for I knew I was on holy ground...The suffering of innocent children is horrifying beyond words. I will never forget the great, gentle arms and body of this grandmother. She never spoke while I was there. She was holding and participating in suffering that she could not relieve, and somehow her silent presence was relieving it. No words could express the magnitude of her love.

Most of us have been the recipients of a magnitude of inexpressible love - love that has come many times with few words. Perhaps only a tender touch. We honor our parents because it's commanded. We do it even if they didn't deserve it. But for most of us, our parents do deserve it. That's why we're honoring them today.

It's not enough to send our parents a Hallmark card - even though that is costing more and more every year. My mother taught me to look for value, which is why I always look at the $1.99 value cards first to see if any of them are good enough. I like to think I'm honoring her by being frugal. But it's not enough to by a card, or to buy flowers, or a gift, or make a phone call. The Bible gives us instructions on how to honor our parents.

The ways that we honor our parents change with time. It depends what stage of life you're in. No matter what stage of life you're in, you're called to honor your parents. How can you and I honor our parents?

1.  AS A CHILD, OBEY YOUR PARENTS

At our youngest ages, we're called to obey our parents. Ephesians 6:1 says, "Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do."? Colossians 3:20 says, "You children must always obey your parents, for this is what pleases the Lord."? To obey means to listen to with intent to understand and obey. This isn't a blank check to do whatever parents say. We should never obey our parents if they tell us to do something contrary to God's Word. But children are called to obey their parents, even when they disagree and think that they know better.

There are some things a child just doesn't understand. That's why it's important to submit to their parent's wisdom. One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"

The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't, dear," she said, "I have to sleep with your daddy."

A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: "The big sissy."

There are a lot of things children just don't understand. But children are called to obey their parents anyway. Most of us wouldn't be here today if we had been allowed to disobey them. We would have died from crossing the street during rush hour, drinking paint thinner, or running with the wrong crowd. As children, obey your parents.

2. AS A YOUNG ADULT, APPRECIATE YOUR PARENTS

It's natural and even good for children, as they grow older, to become increasingly independent of their parents. You begin to see their weaknesses as well - their hang-ups, their idiosyncrasies. It's easy to think that you know more than your parents do, and to do things your way. But that's not the way the Bible tells us how to live. Proverbs 6:20-22 says:

My son, obey your father's commands, and don't neglect your mother's teaching. Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck. Wherever you walk, their counsel can lead you. When you sleep, they will protect you. When you wake up in the morning, they will advise you.

The best way for a young adult to honor his parents is to pattern his life after the best of what his parents taught him. Develop the character that your parents patterned for you. Make them happy that you're their child. Proverbs 23 says:

Listen to your father, who gave you life, and don't despise your mother's experience when she is old. Get the truth and don't ever sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and discernment. The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure it is to have wise children. So give your parents joy! May she who gave you birth be happy. (Proverbs 23:22-25)

In fact, it's only at the age of young adulthood that you begin to appreciate all that your parents have done for you. They brought you into this world. They went to a lot of effort to raise you. I'm learning how much work being a parent is. My mother was a single parent and had four kids. She was outnumbered four-to-one. In my house, there's a one-to-one ratio, and we still have a problem corralling the kids into the car. Have you ever thought how much easier your parent's life would have been without you?? Have you ever thanked your parents for putting up with you?? Who else would have?

As a young adult, and even beyond that stage, we can appreciate how much it cost our parents to raise us. Parenting is expensive. One Canadian organization estimates the cost of raising a single child to age 18 as $160,000, and that's without inflation and college costs. Do you think your parents could have used that money for other things?? Somebody has said that a parent is a person who carries pictures where they once carried money. So appreciate your parents in all that they have done. As a young adult, appreciate your parents.

3. AS AN ADULT, PROVIDE FOR YOUR PARENTS

There comes a time where the relationship changes between a parent and a child. When you reach adulthood, many times you end up married. The Bible tells the man that he is to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. Your relationship has changed. You're no lon ger dependent on your parents. But the relationship changes. We begin to provide for our parents. That doesn't mean that our parents stop giving. It does mean that we start giving back.

What are some ways that we can give to our parents as adults?

STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOUR PARENTS - As I said, honor means that you treat something as weighty or important. To honor your parents means that you continue to treat them as important. You stay in touch with them and make them a priority in your life. Every time you call your parents, take time to be with them, and perform acts of kindness for them, you're honoring your parents.

RESPECT YOUR PARENTS - This involves speaking well of them. You can do this even when your parents are frail, even when they're gone. Leviticus 19:3 says, "Each of you must show respect for your mother and father."? Speak kindly of them. You don't have to obey them any longer, but you can listen to them. Hear their counsel. The Bible even gives examples of this: Moses got advice from his father-in-law, and Ruth listened to advice from her mother-in-law. Respect your parents.

MEET THEIR NEEDS -? The Bible calls us to meet the needs of our parents as they grow older. They could be relational needs. They could be practical needs. They could be financial needs. 1 Timothy 5:4 says that our first responsibility is to "show godliness at home and repay [our] parents."? Listen to the words of Jesus:

God says, 'Honor your father and mother,' and 'Anyone who speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.' But you say, 'You don't need to honor your parents by caring for their needs if you give the money to God instead.' And so, by your own tradition, you nullify the direct commandment of God. (Matthew 15:4-6)

You and I have an obligation to help meet our parent's financial needs. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, "Those who won't care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers."? That's pretty strong language. Jesus modeled this for us. When he was dying on the cross, one of his last actions was to make sure that his mother was cared for. We need to provide for our parents.

Somebody has said that every man passes through four stages. In the first stage, he believes in Santa Claus. In the second state, he doesn't believe in Santa Claus. In the third stage, he is Santa Claus. In the fourth stage, he looks like Santa Claus. We're called to love our parents through all the stages of life.

What's the payback for this?? What happens when I honor my parents?? Ephesians 6:2-3 tells us, "This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, 'you will live a long life, full of blessing.'"? When we honor our parents, we avoid a lot of the sin and danger that could threaten and shorten our lives. When we honor our parents, we increase the quality of our own lives on this earth. Our own lives improve as we give our parents all that God commands us to. It affects every other relationship. It affects all of life.

It doesn't matter whether you are old or young. It doesn't matter if your parents were worthy or not. It doesn't even matter if they're still alive. Honor your parents.

We're going to close in a few minutes by doing just that. But before I close, I want to remind you that no matter what kind of parents you have or had, there is a parent who has only ever loved you with a perfect love. He's loved you from the minute you were born. He sacrificed dearly for you. He gave his own Son for you. He loves you and he's here today.

You are who you are for a reason
You're part of an intricate plan
You are a precious, perfect, unique design
Called God's special woman or man.

You look like you look for a reason
Our God made no mistake
He knit you together within the womb
You're just what He wanted to make

The parents you had are the ones He chose
No matter how you may feel
You are custom designed with that plan in mind
They bear the master's seal

The trauma you faced wasn't easy
And God wept that it hurt you so
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into His likeness you'd grow

You are who you are for a reason
You've been formed by the Master's rod
You are who you are, beloved
Because there is a God.

Shall we pray.

Father, our parents weren't perfect, but we thank you for them. Some of them were hurtful, and today we ask for your help in forgiving our parents. Give us the grace to honor them today.

Thank you for the way that our parents sacrificed for us. Thank you for all that they gave to us. Help us to honor them, so that we would be able to enjoy a full and long life on this earth.

I pray that today, we would also recognize you as our Father. Thank you for the eternal life that you offer to all who call on the name of Jesus. Thank you for your grace. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Taking God Seriously (Exodus 20:7)

We're on part three today on Ten Values to Build Strong Families. Thousands of years ago, God provided ten values that can serve as the foundation for our families. We've looked at the first two values: take God seriously, and accept no substitutes. Today we're looking at the third value that God gave in the Ten Commandments, and it's found in Exodus 20:7: "Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name."

God gave us the Ten Commandments to show us how we should live. The Ten Commandments were given not to ruin our lives, or to constrict our lives, but to show us how we can experience life the way that God designed it. If we follow the Ten Commandments, then we get a life designed by God. God becomes your life designer. God becomes your family designer.

Why did God give this command - "Don't misuse the name of the LORD your God" - as number three in his top-ten list of how to live?? What does this have to do with living the way that God intends??? Today we're going to discover that one of the most important steps you can take in building a strong family, and a strong life, is to take God seriously. That involves taking God's name seriously as well.

You may have heard a few weeks ago that Puff Daddy has decided to change his name to P. Diddy. Within minutes of that announcement, Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes announced that he is changing his name to Puff Daddy. They're not the only ones that should consider changing their names. Paul Dickinson has written a book called Names. He has a habit of collecting strange and unusual names. In 1941 there were two men who were executed in the electric chair in the Florida state penitentiary and their names were Will Burn and Frizzle. Recently there was a Montreal window washer who died by accident, falling as he was washing windows. His name was Will Drop. Others, he says, seem destined for certain occupations. Joe Bunt became a baseball coach. Dan Druff became a barber. Jeff Treadwell became a podiatrist. Goforth and Ketchum, two guys, became police officers and partners. O'Neill and Pray became partners in church equipment. Wonderfully Trembly, a psychologist. Zoltan Ovary, a gynecologist. P.P. Peters, a urologist. A plaster contractor, Will Crumble.

Never before have names been more important than today. If there isn't a website with your name on it yet, some are predicting there will be within five years. Court battles are being fought over domain names like www.GovernmentofCanada.com. Hockey legend Gordie Howe has received a trademark for his name, and his wife has trademarked the names Mr. Hockety and Mrs. Hockey. Gordie Howe can put an ? after his name. Your name is important, and it's only going to get more important.

Why should we take God's name seriously?? Your name and God's name are more than just words. Names represent three things: reputation, character, and authority.

Your name represents your REPUTATION. If your name is good enough, it can be worth billions of dollars. Coca Cola is the name of a company. Coca Cola is on record that it could lose everything it has - its distributors, products, its bottlers, its leadership - but if it retained its reputation, its name, it could rebuild from scratch. Your name is closely related to your reputation. Identify the following people. Old Blue Eyes - Frank Sinatra. His Airness - Michael Jordan. The Mailman - Karl Malone. Your name and your reputation are linked. When we speak of God's name, we're really speaking of God's reputation.

Your name represents your CHARACTER. Do you remember the movie way back in 1990 - Dances with Wolves?? Names are sometimes used to describe what a person is like. It doesn't always work out, as Sonny and Cher found out when they named their daughter Chastity Bono. In the Bible, though, they would name children after certain character qualities like honest, just. One's name would represent her character. God sometimes gave people new names. God changed Abram ("Exalted Father") to Abraham ("Father of Many"). Jacob ("Deceiver") was changed to Israel ("One who struggles with God"). Simon became Peter ("Rock"). God would change their name because their names represented their character.

God's name represents his character. The name that God gave himself is Jehovah. This is God's personal name. It's a name that means, "I will be with you. I'll show you who I am by my actions. I'll be there with you."? You can't misuse God's name without maligning God's character. Names and character are tied together.

Your name also represents your AUTHORITY. I attended a conference last year.? One of the speakers at that conference was from a large church, and she had to fly back to speak at a conference that night. The host wondered, "Could we get the schedule changed so you can stay a bit longer?"? "Not a chance," the speaker replied. Right there on the stage, he phoned up that church, and did a fairly good impression of Billy Graham. The schedule was changed. It's one thing for Darryl Dash to call. You may be busy. You may let the phone ring. But if Billy Graham called, you'd probably pick up the phone.

God's name is tied to God's authority. When we pray, "In Jesus' name," we're praying using the authority of Jesus. A name represents the person. In a sense, the name is the person.

That's why God says, "Take my name seriously."? Jehovah - or YHWH - is the redemptive name that God gave to his people, as the one who delivered them from bondage. It's the name of the God who keeps his covenant - his promises - with his people. It's a name that speaks of God's faithfulness to us. It's a name that was so revered that it was only pronounced once a year by the priest when giving the blessing on the Day of Atonement. God's people treated that name with such respect that before the age of the printing press or the photocopier, when scribes copied the manuscripts of the Bible word for word, a scribe would come to the name YHWH, and would stop, ceremonially bathe all over, and then go back to the scroll with a new, unused pen. Jehovah is the awesome personal, covenantal, promise-keeping name of God that can never be misused.

God says, "When you misuse my name, it's no big deal. When you build a family, and you don't take my name seriously, you're headed for trouble. My name is my reputation, my character, and my authority. Don't use it flippantly."

What happens if we don't take God's name seriously?? On Feb 7, 1996, three teenagers breezed through an intersection and directly into the path of an 8-ton truck. These three young men were killed in this accident. Investigators discovered that there was a stop sign lying on the roadside near the accident scene. Three other young people had thought it would be fun to go along the rural roads of Hillsborough County and steal road signs the previous night. These three young folks were convicted of manslaughter and each of them faces 27 years in prison for the death of the three teenagers. The judge said, "I don't believe for one minute that you pulled up these signs with the intent of causing the death of anyone, but pulling up the signs caused ramifications that none of you may have ever expected."

You may not mean to do damage but misusing God's name. But every time you misuse God's name - every time you don't take God and his name seriously - you are causing irreparable harm to yourself and your family. What are some of the consequences of misusing God's name??

1. MISUSING GOD'S NAME OFFENDS GOD

In one sense, misusing God's name does no damage to God. God isn't diminished by what I think of him or what I call him. What I think of God doesn't change who God actually is. But in another sense, God does care what we call him. He wouldn't have given this command if he didn't. God is deeply offended when we misuse his name. God said, "Do not treat my holy name as common and ordinary. I must be treated as holy" (Leviticus 22:32).

2. MISUSING GOD'S NAME DAMAGES US

Misusing God's name offends God, but it also damages us. Misusing God's name damages our relationship with him. Exodus 20:7 says, "The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name."? Anyone - no exceptions - will pay a great price for abusing God's name. In fact, Leviticus 24 tells us that the penalty for taking God's name in vain was execution. You won't be executed today, but you'll miss out on God's blessing. If you misuse God's name, it's like you'll be opening up an umbrella that will deflect the showers of grace God wants to shower on your life. And misusing God's name will bring punishment in the life to come. Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37 (the Message paraphrase): "Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation."

Misusing God's name offends God. It damages us.

3. MISUSING GOD'S NAME HARMS OTHERS

The way we use God's name has an affect on those around us. It has an affect on our families, and those who are close to us. Your words touch others - your children, your husband, your wife, your friends. Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue can kill or nourish life."? Words aren't abstractions, or even representations of abstractions. Words carry power. Those around you will be blessed by how you use God's name, or they will be harmed by how you misuse it. It's your choice.

That's why God says in Exodus 20:7, "Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name."

What constitutes a misuse of God's name?? We misuse God's name when we speak untruthfully. That's the main way that the Bible says we misuse God's name. This happens when we call God to witness a contract or a vow, and then break that contract. God said in Leviticus 19:12, "Do not use my name to swear a falsehood and so profane the name of your God."? Whenever we say, "I swear to God," and then tell a lie, or don't follow through on what we've said, we've just blasphemed God's name. This goes even further if you're a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught that if you follow him, and you break a contract or lie, you've just broken the Third Commandment. Jesus said, "Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong" (Matthew 5:37).

It's possible to misuse God's name in other ways. We misuse God's name when use God's name to fill speech. We say God's name just to fill the air. We can misuse God's name by using his name as an expletive. It's like the farmer who was late getting home for dinner. His wife said, "Did the wagon break down?"? The farmer said, "No. On the way home I offered a ride to the minister, and from that point on the mules didn't understand a thing that I said."

You may not have realized how serious a matter this is. One survey says that two-thirds of people admit to having taken God's name in vain. There is power in God's name. When you misuse God's name, it's a serious matter. Some of us need to say to God, "Father, I had no idea. Forgive me."? You need to acknowledge the offense you've caused God, and the damage you've caused to yourself and others by misusing God's name.

But we also need to learn how to use God's name correctly. For the rest of this message, I want to look at three ways that we can use God's name correctly. Incredible blessings come to the person, and to the family, who honor God's name. What are three ways that we can use God's name correctly?

1. RECOGNIZE THE POWER OF YOUR WORDS AND YOUR LIFE

That's where it starts. Recognize the power of your words and your life. In the Old Testament, when someone swore by God's name to do something, it meant that you were committed to doing it. When they took an oath, they had to keep it. But human nature being what it is, people developed a system in which some oaths counted and others didn't. Evasive oath taking became an art. One rabbi said, "If you swear by Jerusalem, it doesn't count, but if you swear toward Jerusalem, it's binding."? That's why Jesus said, "Don't make any vows...Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Your word is enough" (Matthew 5:34-37). I don't think that Jesus was teaching us never to take an oath. There are lots of examples of oath taking in the Bible. But Jesus was teaching that every promise we make, every word we speak, has the same power as if we swore by God's name. Every time we lie, we misuse God's name. Every time we keep a commitment, we honor God's name.

2 Timothy 2:19 says,? "Those who claim they belong to the Lord must turn away from all wickedness."? You are a name-bearer of God. Your lifestyle can misuse God's name. What you say and how you act reflects on God. The Bible says that every sin we commit is an occasion for God's name to be blasphemed by those who don't believe in God. Sometimes people don't come to God because they've never met a Christian. Sometimes people don't come to God because they have met a Christian. Your walk needs to match your talk. If it doesn't, you're misusing God's name.

The employee who doesn't work faithfully is breaking the third commandment, because theft profanes God's name. But God loves the person who sticks to his word, no matter how costly. Psalm 15:4-5 says, "[Those who] keep their promises even when it hurts...Such people will stand firm forever."? God loves the bankrupt businessperson who spends her life trying to repay her creditors. God loves the man who keeps his marriage vows, even when those vows are costly. Integrity - rock-ribbed integrity - is the key idea in the Third Commandment. Every time we speak and act with integrity, we're honoring God's name.

2. REVERE GOD'S NAME

Revering God's name means that we treat it with the utmost respect. Use it carefully. Use it lovingly. Refuse to use God's name flippantly, or without thought. This extends to your prayer life and your singing. Do you ever say grace without thinking?? Do you ever sing a song about God without even thinking about what you're singing?? Don't do it. Psalm 29:2 says, "Give honor to the LORD for the glory of his name."

We need to be very careful in the reverence we give God's name. We no longer ceremonially wash ourselves when it comes time to write God's name. We're amazed that the scribes stopped everything that they did to write God's name cleanly and with a new pen. We now are quite used to hearing God's name profaned. We even say, "It doesn't bother me."? It ought to bother you. If my wife's name were taken in vain, I would speak up. I wouldn't let it slide. If someone ridiculed your mother, you'd protest. But many of us say nothing when the name of Jesus is blasphemed all the time.

How can we revere God's name?? I would challenge you to speak up when someone close to you is misusing God's name. You can't always do this with strangers. But you can do it with those who are close to you. You don't have to be rude or abrasive. Do it tactfully. You're not there to condemn them, but to influence. Let them know that the name they've just used is a name that means the world to you.

Watch your intake of language. Some of you can't control this - you're exposed to all sorts of language at work. But others of us have a lot of control over whether or not we hear God's name profaned. Watch what goes into your mind. Garbage in, garbage out.

We should watch out for even what someone calls "minced oaths" - phrases like "Gosh, darn it" or "Judas priest" or "gee whiz!"? Those are just variations of taking God's name in vain. They're rhyming. There's one problem - it doesn't fool God. God can see through it. It's not respectful of God's name.

One of the most important places we can revere God's name is in our families. We say things to our fa milies that we would never think of saying to anyone else. Verbal abuse is rampant in families, and it's causing great damage to relationships. You can do what one family did. They made a swearing jar. Anytime anyone cussed, they put a dollar in it. Not a bad idea. But also watch how you speak of God in front of your kids. Don't speak in pious terms. Speak in honest reverence. Let them see the relationship that you have with God.

There's no name like God's name. Do what Jesus did. He taught us to pray, "Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored" (Matthew 6:8). Revere God's name.

One more way we can honor God's name:

3. RELY ON GOD'S NAME

Psalm 9:10 says, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, have never abandoned anyone who searches for you."? Psalm 33:21 says, "In him our hearts rejoice, for we are trusting in his holy name."? Whatever you do in life, you should do it trusting in God's holy name. Jesus said, "Ask anything in my name, and I will do it!"? We pray in Jesus' name because God is perfect. Only a perfect person can come into his presence. I don't have any right to come to God on my own. But Christ can. He is our bridge, our representative between God and us. We need to rely on his name.

Psalm 20:7 says, "Some nations boast of their armies and weapons, but we boast in the LORD our God."? Today you might say, "Some trust in their resume and their power suits, their power connections, their ability to make it happen. I'm trusting in the LORD my God."? God's name is much more trustworthy than your name or my name. You need to make sure you're trusting in God more than yourself and your career. You need to make sure you're trusting in God with your family. Commit your family to him.

The best way to rely on God's name is to rely on what Jesus has done for you. It's the only way to escape the judgment for all the wrong you've done in life. Acts 4:12 tells us how we can rely on God's name. If you only hear one thing this morning, hear this: "There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them."? John 20:31 says, "By believing you may have life in his name" (NIV). That's what you need. You need forgiveness by trusting in God's name.

You may not have chosen this as the third value upon which to build a strong family. But God did. He says, "Take me seriously. Take my name seriously. Recognize the power of how you live and speak. Revere my name. Rely on my name."? This is foundational to building a strong family. God said, "These are all the commands, laws, and regulations that the LORD your God told me to teach you so you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, and so you and your children and grandchildren might fear the LORD your God as long as you live" (Deuteronomy 6:1-2). Take God seriously.

Please pray with me.

You may have been guilty of misusing God's name. You never realize how serious a matter this is. You may have misused God's name the way you speak or act. But you can receive God's forgiveness. I'd ask you to pray a prayer to God right now expressing how much you delight in God's name, and asking for God's forgiveness for misusing God's name.

If you would like to take the step today of relying on the name of Jesus, this is the best, the most amazing step you could ever take. "There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them."? You can call on the name of Jesus today. It can be as simple as "Jesus!? Please save me."? It can be more than that. You can pray, "Jesus, I want to rely on you. I want you to be the foundation for my life. I trust you. I pray that you would forgive me for all the wrong I've done. I pray this in your name, Amen."? If you take this step, you will have taken the most important step you could ever take. I'd ask you to let us know that you've taken this step. There's a place on the communication card for you to do that.

"O LORD, our LORD, the majesty of your name fills the earth!? Your glory is higher than the heavens" (Psalm 8:1). Thank you for giving us values on which we could build our lives. Help us, dear God, to build a strong foundation for our families by putting you first. Help us to never accept substitutes for you. And we pray today that you would help us to honor your name, in our worship, and in all that we do. And all God's people said...