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How to Live Long and Well

I heard a middle aged TV preacher say he was the smartest child in his family. The reason? Of all his siblings he was the only one who honored his father and mother. He knew that would bring blessings on him and it had. He did better than his siblings financially and in all other ways.

It makes perfect sense. Of all the Ten Commandments, the one with the greatest promise attached to it is the mandate to “honor your father and mother that your days may be long upon the (bountiful promised) land which the Lord your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12.

When I was a pastor I spoke every Mother’s Day on things husbands needed to hear and every Father’s Day on things wives needed to hear. This worked pretty well because Mother’s Day always precedes Father’s Day so I was pretty safe when it came around to talking to wives. After all, I had already lectured their husbands!

I was speaking with Leon Patillo last week. He was lead singer for Santana and after he met the Lord he became an excellent Christian singer. He now pastors a church in Long Beach that meets on the Queen Mary. He was shocked when I told him that the churches I pastored had more men than women. He had never heard of that and I suppose it is pretty rare. Looking back, I think part of the reason was that I held women’s feet to the fire as often as I did men’s. God is an equal opportunity sermonizer, but I guess that balance is rare. Usually men’s sins draw the most fire. Few pastors risk the ire of women these days, and I think the Church is weaker because of it.


But I digress. Mother’s and Fathers Day are both coming up and in light of the lack of regard that many hold for their parents in the post Freudian era, when we all prefer scapegoats to responsibility, it’s time to reconsider this power packed promise from God’s law.

Honor means “to show respect to” or “to be a credit to.” I must say it’s easier to do this with mom than dad, but therein lies the problem. Mom’s love and generosity can be easily taken for granted and even taken advantage of. Something about having lower testosterone and carrying that child inside her gives her an inside track on unconditional love; something most men can’t duplicate no matter how hard they try.

This Mother’s Day, ask yourself how you show respect to your mother in a practical way. How do you live so as to be a credit to the million sacrifices she made to enable you to be who you are today? What can you do to make her feel appreciated and valued – to let her know that you are grateful for her role in your life? No doubt she’s not perfect, none of us are, but perhaps this year, instead of looking for things to condemn, maybe you can search for things to thank God for and let her know. If you do, I think you’ll find her ledger has far more credits owed to her than debits, more deposits than withdrawals; and maybe, just maybe, this year you can take a small step towards evening out the balance sheet. If you do, you may become the smartest kid in your family and reap an awesome reward from your heavenly Father.


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