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We Don’t Live in a Culture of Honor

Thank you to all members of our military, in all branches, past and present. It's with honor and gratitude that we remember those who have served our country. "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10

We're in the middle of a sermon series called 'Forgotten Virtues.' When was the last time you sat down with a friend and talked about virtues? In case you need a quick refresher, Paul gives us a good list of what virtues are in Philippians 4:8 where he wrote “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

If you have had a recent conversation about virtues, I’m guessing it was more about the lack of virtues in our culture and how bad things are all around us. In the sermon series, the focus is not on how our culture has forgotten about virtues, but how WE have forgotten these virtues. We’re not pointing out the speck in someone else’s eye while we’ve got a plank in our own eye.

We don’t live in a culture of honor. How many of us have made decisions and done things that were less than honorable, pure, loyal, lacked integrity and gratitude? That’s right…ALL of us. And where has that gotten you? I’ll tell you where it’s gotten me—in those times when I’ve blown it—it takes me to a dark place. I get depressed. I feel ashamed. I know I’m not right with God. I know I’m not being the man God has called me to be. And I...don't…like…it!

There is a better way! Starting with living a life of honor. It’s about developing a heart of respect. If you forget the special value of your marriage, if it just becomes common and ordinary to you, you begin to dishonor your spouse. If you forget the incredible value of Jesus, and you make your faith all about tradition and religion and not about Jesus, you are making your faith common and ordinary, and you are dishonoring Jesus.

To honor someone is a choice made by the giver, not the receiver. Honor is a gift you either give or withhold. If you withhold honor, you withhold a blessing. Without honor, the very fabric of core relationships begins to unravel. And the Bible is very specific about those we are to honor: 

  • We are to honor our parents—Exodus 20:12
  • We are to honor those in authority—Romans 13:7
  • We are to honor our church leaders—1 Timothy 5:17
  • We are to honor one another—Romans 12:10

That last one, Romans 12:10, says, “Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10, ESV). It doesn’t give any qualifiers like, “Honor those whom you like. Honor those who are like you. Honor those who are on the same side as you politically.” It just says, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” Why? Because we are all created in the image of God.

Here’s the key—we are first and foremost called to honor God—Psalm 22:23. If we don’t do this one thing, we will never be very good at honoring others, because all other forms of honor flow out of this one. You are valuable because Jesus made you valuable. You are a child of the King! We are valuable because we have Jesus’ name on our hearts. If we treated each other as valuable, because Jesus made us valuable, it would radically transform our lives, our marriages, our families, our church! And it begins by honoring the One who died and who rose again to give us life.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

What’s Missing?

I did a Google search of the best quotes from Eeyore, the miserable, melancholic donkey from Winnie the Pooh, and the number one quote was, “The sky has finally fallen.  Always knew it would.”

Sometimes I find myself keeping step with Eeyore’s gloomy pessimism.  And I wonder what happened to joy.

We live in a culture obsessed with finding happiness.  But in our quest for happiness, we have formed a hollow chocolate bunny within our American dream.  Leonard Sweet writes, “Overpromising and underdelivering the individual pursuit of happiness has catapulted the US to number one status as the most depressed and medicated nation in the world” (I Am a Follower, 113).

The stats don’t lie.  According to one study, “Adult use of antidepressants almost tripled between 1988-1994 and 1999-2000. Ten percent of women 18 and older and 4 percent of men now take antidepressants” (Robert Longley, “Almost Half of Americans Take at Least One Prescription Drug”).

Now, let me be clear.  There are times and circumstances for the proper use of medications, and some of us are “lifers” when it comes to our dependence on God-given medical research resulting in those little pills—like my daily dose of meds for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and blood thinners.  And my heart (and wife) are very grateful.  Whether the issue is a bad heart, bad genes, or bad blood, every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17), and that includes advances in science and medicine.

With that said, however, the tripling of antidepressants among adults should cause all of us to stop and reflect.  What are we looking for in this life?  What are we missing?  Are we following the pattern of this world in seeking happiness through materialism, consumerism, and individualism (“my way or no way”)? 

If so, we will always be found wanting.  Happiness is rooted in happenstance, and as goes the events of our days, so goes our fleeting emotion of happiness.  Like watching the stock market, when events are good, emotions are good, and when events turn south, we fall back into an Eeyore-like existence.

Jesus, on the other hand, promises us a joy that may be full (John 15:11).  Peter tells us we have a “joy that is inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).  “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). 

Happiness ebbs and flows, but joy is far different.  It doesn’t rise and fall according to surface surroundings.  In fact, joy can actually flourish amidst pain and suffering.  But, as Barbara Holland points out, “Joy requires tending” (Endangered Pleasures, xii).

Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann contends, “Of all accusations against Christians, the most terrible one was uttered by Nietzsche when he said that Christians had no joy” (Sacraments and Orthodoxy, 26-27).  Christians, of all people, should walk in joy.  We enter into the joy of the Lord, and we do so as we share this joy with others.  Happiness can be solitary, but joy is shared and viral (Sweet, 113). 

I hope you discover joy from the wellspring of life, Jesus Christ.  Wake up to that joy.  Live in that joy.  Rest in that joy.  And share that joy with others.

“Joy as a moral quality is a Christian invention” (Dean W. R. Inge, Outspoken Essays, 226).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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