August 6, 2023 by P. Kevin Clancey

Amen. We have a great salvation, people. We have a great salvation. As sins have been forgiven, we have eternal life with Jesus and for a little while we struggle. In this world you will have troubles. Have you got troubles? But take heart for I have overcome the world. You’re on the winning team, your team wins.

I’m going to go home either tonight, if I get too tired I won’t watch it tonight, I’ll watch it maybe tomorrow. I’m a big Chicago Cubs fan and they took two out of three games from the Braves this weekend. They lost the first one eight to nothing, they took the next two, six to five, six to four. They’re hot, they won like 32 out of their last 50 games, it’s exciting. So I’m going to go home, I’m going to watch those two games that beat the Braves. Fast forward through the commercials, we’ll go quicker. And you know they’re going to be stress free games, cuz I already know, we’ve got to win. Alright, they’ll be stress free. I won’t be getting mad at the pitcher when he walks on by. You’ll be like, ah, that’s alright. Alright, so we’re playing a game we’ve already won, so that’s good news.

I’m going to talk today about a very real warning that comes to Christians in Hebrews 6. If you remember two weeks ago, I started this passage, it actually starts in Hebrews 5. And the author of Hebrews gives us three things to be aware of. And the first two lead to the third, and the third one is the real problem. It’s kind of like when you go to the doctor and he says, oh, you know, your blood pressure’s high, that’s problem number one, you know, problem number two, maybe your cholesterol’s high, that’s problem number two, problem number three, you had a heart attack. Because he ignored problem number one and problem number two, he entered into problem number three. And so tonight we’re going to talk about problem number three.

Just a reminder about problems number one and two from two weeks ago. Problems number one and two were ignorance and immaturity. We’re ignorant, the author of Hebrews says, because of our sluggishness, we’re ineffective, we’re careless, and we’re immature, we don’t even know the foundations of the faith. We talked about the six foundations of the faith. We don’t want to grow up. We want to stay kids forever.

I was just, last week I was out at Lake Coeur d’Alene with three of my six grandchildren. The other three of my six grandchildren are coming in this week. So yeah, grandkids heaven. And kids are adorable. I love kids. And I love, I especially love other people’s kids. Because like my grandkids, it’s like, we don’t want to go to bed yet. Yeah, that ain’t my problem, it’s your mom and dad’s problem. My problem is you’re all stoked up on cigarettes, you don’t want to go to bed. Alright, so no, grandparents, we get, you know, that’s the reward for being a parent.

And it’s wonderful to see my grandchildren act as children, but it would be horrible to see them continue to act as children 20 years from now. I want to see them grow into mature, functioning, effective adults. And so we don’t, the goal is not to stay an immature Christian. The goal is to be childlike in our trust for Christ, but to grow into the fullness that God has for us. To grow in maturity, in behavior, in ministry gifts, in discipleship, in theology. To grow. That, you know, we’re not always just, you know, hanging around, you know. It’s never wrong to go back to John 3:16, but we know more of the Bible than the verse that they hold up at the football game. You know, we’ve become Christians who have grown.

And finally, if we stay ignorant and immature, the possibility of this last problem, which we find in Hebrews 6, starting at verse 4, becomes a possibility and a dangerous possibility. Hebrews 6:4, for it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away to renew them again for repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put him to open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it and bears herb useful for those by whom it is cultivated, it receives blessings from God, but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.” (Hebrews 6:4-8)

And God, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable Lord in Your sight, our Rock, our Strength, and our Redeemer.

Okay, so I get in trouble, but I get in trouble for a good reason. I get in trouble for preaching what I believe the Bible teaches, as opposed necessarily sometimes to preaching sacred cows to what other Christians believe the Bible teaches, and are kind of a part of the mainstream of evangelicalism. Though I definitely consider myself a part of that stream, I also disagree on a few points. Many of you already know that I disagree with the kind of the main words on eschatology that have come upon the church, the kind of the pre-millennial left behind pre-trib eschatology. I don’t think that’s what the Bible teaches, and so sometimes people get upset about that, and some people left the church because I believe that. Here’s another sacred cow is the preservation of the saints or the perseverance of the saints, known in popular parlance, as anybody know what popular parlance is for it, what many of us were taught as young people. Once saved, always saved. Yeah, once saved, always saved. All right?

And I think, and there are verses, many verses in the Bible, which really stress God’s faithfulness and His ability to hold on to us. Romans 8, for I am convinced, neither death nor life, angels nor demons, height nor depth, the present or the future or anything in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

The Father gives me these children and no one will snatch them out of my hand, Jesus says in John 10.

“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Fathers hand.” (John 10:29)

However, there are also verses that indicate that though devils can’t take us away from God, though problems can’t take us away from God, though other people can’t take us away from God, we can and willfully turn our backs on God and walk away from Him even once we have encountered Him. John, the same Gospel that says no one can snatch me out of my hand, also says that those who claim to be Christians, those who are part of, but bear no fruit, he says he cuts those branches off and he throws them into the fire. And that this verse seems to be pretty, or these verses seem to say a similar thing.

Now some people will say, and by the way, the sin I’m talking about, this thing that I think the author of Hebrews is talking about, has been called by the church apostasy. That’s the word it’s used, apostasy. And apostasy does not mean backsliding. It does not mean I gave my life to Christ and then I went through a season where I was a wild party animal in college and I didn’t follow Him that closely. That’s not apostasy, that’s backsliding, that’s messing up. It doesn’t mean that you’ll apostasize this week when you sin, if you happen to sin this week. I probably did, I doubt any of the rest of you sinned this week, but I probably did once or twice.

And so it’s not that. Though, that often is what leads to apostasy. And that’s one of the warnings that the book of Hebrews gives. The book of Hebrews says when you continually and willfully sin against God, not mess up, but when you’re just saying, you know what, I know this is wrong but I’m going to do it anyway, continue to do that, you don’t go to hell for that, but what happens is it has an effect on your heart. It hardens your heart is what it does. And you know that. You know that when you’re feeling guilty and you’re sinning, you do not have a soft heart toward God. You don’t want to go to God. You’re like Adam and Eve in the garden. Am I speaking with truth here or is this only my experience? You’re like Adam and Eve in the garden, right? You’re hiding out wearing sticky leaves. God’s looking for you. It’s always God looking for us. But that’s still not apostasy.

Apostasy is described as somebody, and listen to these five things, somebody who has been enlightened by the Word of God, somebody who they were once enlightened. What does enlightening mean? The light of Christ shone upon them. They had the light of Christ, the revelation of Jesus. They had tasted of the heavenly gift. What is the heavenly gift? The heavenly gift is the forgiveness of sins. They had tasted of the forgiveness of sins. That’s what God gives us on the cross, the forgiveness of sin. That’s the heavenly gift. They were partakers of the Holy Spirit. That’s heavenly gift number two.

Basically, Christianity gives you, God gives you two great gifts in Christianity. Really, it’s not more than this. It’s these two. And these two are good enough, right? Number one, your sins are forgiven. Yay! Because I’m going to stand before God someday. We’re talking about it before our service. We’re talking about what’s that going to be like to meet Jesus and go to heaven and have that welcoming committee and see all our friends and our family and be reunited. And there’s our beloved little pet when we were a kid. And Stevin’s horses will be galloping around up there. It’ll be great. And then that crowd, that welcoming committee, this is how I envision it. This is not Bible. This is Kevin’s speculation. But then how I envision it is that greeting committee will part. And there comes the white robe and the eyes that blaze like fire and the feet that are burnished as bronze. And John, who’s very familiar with that one, fell at his feet as one dead. And I don’t want to be crude, but I’m glad that I’ll be done with some of my bodily functions so I don’t wet myself at that time. I will be undone.

I mean, I look at that moment, I’m getting older, I think that moment’s coming, Kev. That’s unavoidable, by the way, people. Even if you’re young, that’s unavoidable. It’s coming. That day is coming. That white robe, that vision of Jesus, that is inevitable. And I still don’t know what I’m going to do. I haven’t figured that out. It’s like, you know, I doubt I’m going to be, you know, hey, Son of God, up here, don’t leave me hanging, you know. Nail scar came, coming out, giving me a high five. I don’t think that’s going to go down like that. Do you think, Karen? Yeah. I think I’m going to fall down. I think I’m going to fall down.

And I know He says there will be no more tears, or He’ll wipe away every tear. He might have to wipe away some tears right then. I mean, I don’t know. I mean, does that overwhelm anybody but me? That’s like, I kind of want to just get that moment over with and get on with eternity. This is like, I know it’s going to be great, but it’s going to be. Whoa.

But you know what’s going to happen at that meeting? My sins have been forgiven. When I meet Him, there’s going to be no condemnation. Not because I haven’t sinned, but because He went to the cross. The second gift, they have been partakers. They’ve been enlightened. They tasted up the heavenly gift. They’ve been partakers of the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? That’s the second gift, the Holy Spirit.

God not only forgives your sins, He puts His life in you. To all those who believe He gave the right to become sons and daughters of God, children of God, He puts His life in us. We become now a different kind of creature. All right? When we were born, we were mom and dad creatures. And grandma and grandpa, and grandma and grandpa on the other side, and great-grandmas and great-grandpas, and this whole long lineage of people begetting and getting together in DNA. And it all came together in my mom and dad. And then one night my mom and dad came together. And after they came together, there was me. And I was that kind of creature. I was an earthly creature. I was a worldly creature. I was, I believe the minute that came together, I was a human being and destined to become a hairless biped. All right?

You know what that means, right? I’m not really covered, my body is not covered with hair, and I walk on two legs. All right? One of the species that has been known to be called the smartest animal on the planet, though it can’t be disputed at times. But I got new life, and you got new life. When you said, Lord Jesus, forgive me of my sin, and you said, come into my life, and the Spirit of the living God, the Spirit of Jesus Christ came and made residence in you. You are partakers of the Holy Spirit. You tasted the Word of God. You tasted the Word of God. What happens? You’ve all had this experience. I know you’ve had this experience. Nod to me to make sure I’m right. You’ve all had this experience where you’ve been reading the Bible, blah-de-de-blah-blah-blah, blah-de-de-blah-blah-blah, and all of a sudden a verse jumps off the page, right? And it just like sears you. I read one of mine, you know, there are verses that do not depart from me. I would have lost confidence but for this, that I would see the goodness of the Lord and the land of the living. If you have known me more than a year, you’ve heard that more than a hundred times. All right?

Another one you’ve heard often is, who am I in heaven but You? I desire nothing on earth. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my life and my portion forever. You’ve probably heard me say that a number of times.

Psalm 73, I remember the day I was an associate pastor at this large Methodist church and we would gather in the sanctuary to pray for the start of each day. All the members of the church staff. It was good practice. And I got there first for some strange reason, though I still didn’t get up early enough to be a Marine. But I got there first and I got up and they had one of those big, you know, 30 pound pew Bibles that mainline churches have. They were growing a Lutheran account, you know, they put these Bibles on the altar. And the sexton, the custodian had opened up the Bible that day. He would open up the Bible every day. I don’t know if he had an intention or a plan or a schedule, open it up to this. But that day was opened up to Psalm 73. I just walked up and I looked at the Bible. My eyes fell on verse 25 and 26 and it’s been seared in my brain ever since then. Whom have I in Heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my life and my portion forever.

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26)

Revelation 3:20, behold, I stand at the door and knock. You know, here I’ve always opened the door. I’ll come in and sup with him and him with me as my conversion verse. I mean, the Word of God has become alive to me. There is a part of my life. It’s in my bloodstream, you know. It’s there. Even if I wanted to shake it, I couldn’t shake it. It’s in me. I got the Bible verses in me. Parents, put those Bible verses in your kids. Get them in your kids. Make it harder for them to reject Jesus. I always tell people, memorize the Bible. I say, why? I give them the Holy Spirit ammunition.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will bcome in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

I’ll tell you what, another life verse of mine has a gold ring and a pig’s snout. So does a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. It makes me cry every time. So touching. Piggs got to enjoy their piggy-ness, don’t they? Alright. They have tasted of the Word of God. The Word of God has come alive to them and they have experienced the power of heaven on earth. They have experienced the power. They have healed the sick. They’ve cast out demons. They’ve led someone to Christ. They’ve experienced the power of Jesus Christ in their lives and in the church. They’ve seen the goodness of the Lord. And all these things, these five things, the author of Hebrews says, this person has experienced. Some people will say, who believe in the absolute perseverance of the saints, they would say, well those people who apparently apostatize, who apparently, you know, seem to walk with Jesus for a while and then reject Jesus, those people were never truly Christians. Could be. But these five things seem to tell me something different.

At the Bremerton Church in 2017, my dear mother passed away. And I got a small, very small, but we all got a little bit of money. And my truck had 256,000 miles on it. And my wife, who is adamant, drive cars into the ground. I said 256,000 miles, honey, and the water pump just went out. Drive it into the ground, honey. Come on.

So I gave my truck to a friend. Actually, I made him pay for the water pump. I said I was going to give it to him, but I said, look it, if I pay for this water pump, I’m going to keep it. He said, if you want to pay for the water pump, I’ll give you the truck. I said, yeah, I’ll pay for the water pump, give me the truck. He paid for the water pump, I’ll give him the truck. That truck’s still going. I guess it isn’t in the ground. It’s now in Texas. They drove it around for a couple years, gave it to a kid they knew and she and her husband took it to Texas.

If you want to know where all the old American trucks end up, go to Haiti. There are Toyota trucks there with 800,000 miles on in Haiti. All right. But anyway. So I took the inheritance and I always wanted when I was 16 years old, 69, 68, 69, 70 Camaros. They looked so cool to me, you know. And I always wanted a Camaro. I always wanted a red Camaro. And so finally I went out and I bought my red Camaro. I got a new red Camaro, right?

And my wife hates my red Camaro. It’s too low to get into and out of. She hates all things not practical. One time she said to me, she goes, this car has no visibility. I go, I know. And she says, the backseat is useless. You can’t put anybody in the backseat. I said, I know. And she said, the trunk space is ridiculous. I said, I know. She said, why’d you get it? I said, because it’s cool. I didn’t get it for the trunk space. I got it. Because every time I go out in the parking lot, I look at it and go, that’s my car.

But the birds at the Bremerton Church firehouse parking lot surrounded by seagulls seem to love red Camaro’s. Clean ones. Yes. I wash it and I take it to church. And they’re just like going, hey, preachers here, you know, they are demon possessed birds. The devil sent those birds. And so here’s what I say. I say, if it squeals like a seagull, if it flies like a seagull, if it eats like a seagull, if it walks like a seagull, and if it poops on your red Camaro like a seagull, it’s a seagull.

Tasted of the heavenly gift. Enlightened partakers of the Holy Spirit. Tasted the Word of God. Experience the power of heaven. Walks like a duck. Swims like a duck. Flies like a duck. Quacks like a duck. Probably a duck. I’m thinking the author is trying to make a point here that these people are authentic believers. And then he says, he says at the beginning, it’s impossible to bring them back to repentance if they’ve done this one thing. And what is this one thing? This one thing is they have rejected, not that they have sinned, they have rejected now Christ. They have turned their back on all that and said all that was fake, all that was phony. I am living a different life. I do not want Jesus anymore. And that’s apostasy.

And it seems to me that this passage is saying that that’s possible. You can argue with me. Okay, I’m not. Listen, my list of Christian absolutes is pretty small. I’m a minimalist theologically. I have not, you may think, no you’re not, Kevin. You have more opinions than anybody I know. It’s true. I have more opinions than anybody I know too about theology and baseball. I have, I’m loaded with opinions.

And you can, you can come to our Thursday night Bible study. Ats knows this, Stevin knows this. Ask me one simple question that should take 30 seconds to answer and 30 minutes later I’m still waxing on it. I got plenty of opinions. But I don’t separate people out as non-Christians who don’t hold to my opinions on eschatology. Or who don’t hold to my opinions on apostasy. You can believe one saved, all we say is that you’re not out. In my book. And I would, I would, I would expect and respect the same courtesy from you. That’s not an essential.

What are the essentials? I don’t know. The Apostles Creed might be a good place to start. How about the Trinity? How about the resurrection, the literal, historical, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead? You know, how about, how about the authority of the Scriptures? How about let’s throw in a little justification by faith? Through grace? I don’t know. How Jesus is going to come again? Not an essential. Daddy’s going to come again? An essential. Eternal reward, eternal judgment? Those are, closer, I’m getting pretty close to the end of my list.

Having said that, as your pastor, and as God who says, teachers are going to be held to a higher standard. I don’t want to teach something for the sake of the comfort of God’s people that I don’t think the Bible’s teaching. So, I’m just putting it out there. Why is it that there can be a point of no return? And I think there is.

Now let me say it before I talk about why that is. I want to say that I am not the judge of people who have crossed that line to the point of no return. I know many people who fit this description. I think sadly I do. I know many people who once seemed to love Jesus and follow Jesus and were part of the church and now have rejected Him. They speak against the church. They speak against Christ. They reinvent Christ. He’s a mammy-pammy, watered down version of Oprah. Or whatever. Anybody else? You know those folks? Now, I’m not saying necessarily any of those folks are the apostasized. Why? Because I don’t know their heart. And I know the goodness of God. He says in the prophet Isaiah, A smoldering wick I will not extinguish. A bruised reed I will not break.

“A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench.” (Isaiah 42:3)

And so I still pray for those people. I still pray that there’s a little smolder in that wick. And that they’re reacting out of some hurt by the church, by somebody in the church, but they’re not really rejecting Jesus. What they’re doing is they were hurt by somebody. Somebody triggered them. And so they’ve left church and they’re having a theological temper tantrum. So I don’t judge that.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody ever looked at it and said, you’ve apostasized. However, I do believe it’s possible. Jesus says, all sins will be forgiven, against, for men and women, except one. Anybody know what that one is? Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. So if you’re not a charismatic, you’re lost. No. It’s not what it means.

What it means is this. Jesus was living incarnate before the people of Israel, before the religious leaders, before the Pharisees. And He is preaching the kingdom of God. He is healing the sick. And He is casting out demons. So specifically in casting out demons, the Pharisees came and what did they say? You’re not casting out demons by the power of God, but by the power of the devil. In other words, you are an agent of Satan.

Now, here’s the point. God has shown up in Jesus Christ. Phil, He’s doing His ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit, right? He does no miracles before His baptism and the Holy Spirit comes upon Him. He’s doing His miracles in His ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. So they’re witnessing the power of God, in the character of God, in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, casting out devils, healing the sick, preaching the kingdom, doing miracles, feeding the hungry, doing God stuff, doing Messiah stuff. And they come to the conclusion, that’s not God, that’s the devil.

Now let me ask you this question. How’s God going to save them? Do more God stuff? Right? They have come to the conclusion that wrong is right and right is wrong. So God can’t, God can only do God stuff. And He’s done God stuff before their eyes and they’ve called it the devil.

All right. They have been enlightened, they have tasted the heavenly gift, they have partaken of the Holy Spirit, they have tasted the word of God, they have experienced the power of heaven on earth, and now they say nothing of that was real, I reject it, and I leave it behind. And here’s what the author of Hebrews says. He says, for them to be saved it would be as if Christ would have to be crucified a second time.

I happen to believe that the love of God is so powerful that Christ would be willing to be crucified a hundred times. But the problem is, if the first one didn’t work, the second one won’t either. He’s already shed His blood for you. He died for you. What more? What more? And you’ve experienced it in your life. Maybe not to the depths that you’ll experience in eternity, but we all know it’s a now and not yet thing. But every one of us in this room has a God story. When we came to Christ, when we experienced His love, when we experienced His power, and then to come to the place where we said, I don’t want it, I reject it, it’s gone, how can Christ reach us again? He can’t be recrucified, it won’t work. And it brings scandal to His name.

Now some people will say, these people were never truly Christians. Okay, if you come to that conclusion, that’s fine, but you’ve got to argue with those five things that I just, that’s not me, the writer of Hebrews spelled out, that they experienced those things maybe as being a part of the church, but not really being a part of Christ. Maybe. But again, it feels like a seagull to me. If you receive Christ and bear fruit, this passage says that leads to eternal life. If you walk in Him, that leads to eternal life. If you reject Him and produce harm, that leads to eternal judgement.

I think there could be a point of no return. I think you can reach a point where you’re untrainable, unrepentable. We had two dogs when we were first married. Clancey. We had Clancey. We didn’t name Clancey Clancey, weren’t that vain? The friend who gave us that dog named her Clancey because she sat in the food bowl and cried, and they said that reminded them of me. My friends, back in college. I gave that dog to my wife as a birthday present the year before we got married. And that dog was her first baby. She loved that dog. That dog was good. That dog was half lab, half shepherd. It was a good dog. So we say, good dog.

That dog liked its haunches, you know, right there, like its haunches scrached. That was her favorite place to be petted. And she would come up to me and she would actually put her head between my legs and push her way through. So I’d open my legs and she would stop with her little big, actually little, her big derriere right there so I had to reach down. And on the other side, my wife would say she’d go, oh that’s so good, that’s so good, he is better right there. But she was a good dog. A lot of ways, she was a good dog. She was an obedient dog. She was a trained dog. She would come when you called.

She actually knew. When Jill would walk her alone, she was very protective. If a stranger came by, the hair would grow up on the back of her neck. If I was walking with Jill, if I was the alpha male, a stranger would come by, her tail would wag, and she’d be fine with the stranger. I mean she wasn’t that smart. She didn’t know I was a useless alpha male. But at least she knew I was an alpha male. All right? And so she was just a good dog.

Well I had made the mistake of telling my wife that I thought basset hounds and beagles were cute. I knew nothing of basset hounds and beagles at the time. I didn’t know that they, along with cats, are the only two animal species that are entirely demonized. And so my wife got me this beagle. Cute dog. Adorable dog. Blue-eyes. A blue-eyed beagle. We named him Barney. Barney was a curse. He wasn’t mean. He didn’t bite you or anything. But you could not train, anybody ever try to train a beagle? We could not train Barney. And we could not contain Barney. Barney was a Houdini. Barney could climb 12 foot fences. All right? And Barney would bark. Clancey would bark. You want your big, loud shepherd to bark when a stranger comes by your house. And Clancey had a good bark. Woof woof woof. You know, people go, oh we’re not going to mess with that dog.

Barney would bark. Woof woof woof. The stranger would leave. Clancey would stop Barney. Barney would go on for two hours. And don’t come back. Woof woof woof. Shut up Barney. Woof woof woof. Terrible dog. My wife had soft spots. She thought we could train Barney to do it.

We also had in our neighborhood a cat lady. Okay? Now ladies, I don’t know how many cats you got. So I’m not going to come to a specific number of what makes a cat lady. Two is okay. Somewhere more than two. You’re living by yourself, no husband. You got upwards of more than a dozen cats. You’re a cat lady. And you’re weird. Just saying. All right?

We had a cat lady on our block. She had maybe 25 cats. Just cats all over the place. And they’re all over our block. They’re pooping on our lawn. They’re cats. Well, Barney got out of our backyard. Snarfed a kitten. Got into the cat lady’s garage. Got a kitten. Killed the kitten. Cat lady now is not, we’re not on the good neighborhood with a cat lady. I’m thinking, best thing this stupid dog ever did is send out the cat population in our neighborhood. But my wife’s mortified. My wife’s right. We can’t have, we can’t have this.

We can’t keep him in the backyard. He finds the fence. And it’s cruel to just put him on a rope all the time. And besides that, we tried putting him on a rope. He tried climbing the fence. He almost hung himself. Barney is a bad dog. My wife went to the vet and said, what can we do? And he said, well, you know, you can try to sock collar. You can try some other things. Basically, he said, he’s a hunting dog. And once he got that taste of cat, he will not stop. In other words, Barney has passed the point of no return. That’s what the vet said. He’s not going to repent. He will forever want to get out of the backyard and snarf kittens. Again, first thing Barney ever did that I was kind of on his side. But I’m married to Jill.          And so Jill, with tears in her eyes, said we’ve got to put Barney down. You know, we could have rehomed him, but nobody wanted Barney. So anyway. So my wife can’t bring Barney to the vet. So I’m taking Barney to the vet. And I’m not a meanie, right? I’m getting soft and sentimental. He’s in the vet just like, oh, what are you taking of me? And I’m taking him into the vet and I’m about to turn around. I’m about to go, you know, I’m going to give this dog another chance. And he lifts his leg and pees on the vet’s carpet. I thought, you just sealed your fate. That was Barney.

And if you don’t believe that kids are original sinners, let me tell you about my daughter Megan. My point there is you can come to a place where you can’t repent. But here’s the story, just for your enterntainment. My daughter was seven years old at the time, and my wife and I were very concerned. We had three small children, one of their pets got put to sleep. And we were very concerned about how they would take it.

So three, four days after Barney’s been put down, my seven-year-old daughter has her friend over, Emily. My wife’s sitting in the living room, and here’s my daughter talking to Emily in the hall. And here’s what my little sweet, caring, nurturing daughter says to Emily. You want to see my mom cry? And then walks into the living room and goes, hey mom, thinking about Barney? Yes, that is the, those are my genes. I admit, those are my genes, they are not Jill’s.

Alright, point of no return. I don’t know where that is. I don’t know who has crossed it. I think it’s real. And here’s the warning. I think Hebrews was written to warn us. It’s too late to warn somebody when they’re at the edge of apostasy. They’re hard to talk off the ledge at that point. So I don’t think any of you are there. But here’s what I’m saying. I’m going to go back to two weeks ago, and I’m going to say, don’t be ignorant and lazy in your faith. Don’t be immature in your faith.

One of the things I love about those of you in this room that I know as parents, and this is true of my kids, is I love parents who don’t just like, oh whatever, raise our kids. I mean I know there’s stuff you don’t know. No kid comes with a manual. Right? They all come out, they’re all different. But I love intentional parents. My daughter-in-law is coming this week. And she’ll always run these parenting strategies by me. And I wonder if it’s to try to pick a fight, you know, or whatever. Because those are dangerous waters, right? When your kids come, they say, how should we raise your grandchildren? But when she throws these parenting strategies by me that her and my son are trying, I kind of stop her from doing it because I always give her the same answer. This is really a genius on my part. I don’t tell her, well you know, Michael’s mother and I would have done it this way. I do not step on those things with water at all. What I do is I say the very fact that you and Michael are prayerfully engaging and having an intentional plan on how to raise your children is the win. That’s the win. That you love your kids enough to prayerfully try to figure out the best way.

Now if they came up with some really hair-brained scheme, I might have to say something. Yeah, they’re talking about how to get them to bed and stuff like that. I don’t know if there’s, it’s not a right thing. Here’s the right thing. The right thing is to love your kids. And love covers a multitude… You’ll make a hundred mistakes as a parent. Love covers a multitude of sins. Okay?

And so be intentional about your discipleship. Now I’m preaching the choir to a certain extent. You’re here at church. That’s a sign of intentionality. Time is a very valuable commodity. You’re giving up an hour and a half of it or two hours if you can, you know, for Bible study. You’re saying I’m going to be intentional about my time and my time spent with God.

And I would say be intentional about more time. Carve out time every day to spend with God. When you’re at my stage in life, that’s not that hard to do. Thirty years ago in my life, that was very hard to do. We have jobs, we have kids, boom, ba-da-boom, ba-da-boom. And you know what? You can still do it. Those little boogers do sleep. You can carve out some time. If there’s two of you, you can tag team. I’m going to go talk to God. You got the kids. How long you got? Oh me? I got a lot of business to do, man. It’ll be two, three hours.

Listen. Don’t be ignorant. Don’t be lazy. Do the stuff. And you know how it’s going to feel like doing the stuff. I know sometimes, sometimes my wife will say, oh there’s a conference. I say, oh man, I got to go. There have been times in my life I’ve been so hungry for God, so hungry for presents, I go to any church service. There are other times, man, I don’t want to go. Years ago I told my wife, I said, I don’t want to go to church. She goes, why not? I go, the people are mean to me, the sermons are boring, the music’s loud. I don’t want to go. She says, well there’s two reasons you have to go. I said, why? Because the Bible says do not forsake the assembly and you’re the pastor.

There are times I don’t feel like praying. I’ve got this little habit whenever my clock says 2:22, 11:11, 11:11, 3:33, 4:44, I pray. And I go through the list. I pray for my family. I pray for you all. And so it usually happens once a day, sometimes twice a day. And you know the day it doesn’t happen, there’s still a chance I’ll pray for you. That’s just a reminder, God sent me. I pray for the church and I pray for you and I pray for you. And you know it’ll happen at like 11:11 and I’ll say, okay, God, and I’ll just stop what I’m doing and I’ll take the time and I’ll go through my list and I’ll pray. And then it happens at 1:11 and I’m like, I already prayed for these people? Leave me alone. I pray for you again. And it never happens at 3:33, me and God, we got issues. Like really, don’t I pray enough? You know? How bad are these people that they need so many prayers?

I don’t always want to do it. I don’t always want to read my Bible. I certainly this morning did a barbecue at Bremerton, a barbecue on our back deck. I take the grease and I’m emptying the grease out in this little planter we got back there and there’s a bunch of flies there and there’s a pair of soiled underwear there from our street people. Not just soil, I mean filled. Like a diaper. It’s like, well who’s going to clean that up? Who do you think is going to clean that up? Right? I was not happy to be at church at that moment. I don’t like cleaning up other people’s poop. Alright? But you do it.

And you know what? I have to do that and then the next street person I see walking by my church in Bremerton, I have to not despise but love. And Jesus catches me. I’ll tell you, this is one of the things you said to me, Katherine, this was so cool. I got to clean up this whole big mess. This guy camped back there and totally trashed it all. And I’m out there with a shovel. Church. And I’m just cleaning it up. Shoveling it up. Fortunately a guy in the church came by and helped me which made it really, shared work. I mean, just talking to somebody, we started playing homeless bingo. Oh look, I found the needle. Alright. Broken glass.

But anyway, when I first got there, he wasn’t there and I’m grumbling. I confess. You know, God doesn’t like grumbling. He wants us thankfulness. But I’m grumbling. And I’m grumbling to God. God, I don’t like cleaning up other people’s mess. The minute that comes out of my mouth, I hear this in my head. I know Kevin, that’s what I do. So here I’m giving you a chance to be like Me. And this is the first time. Every chance that Jesus said, here I’m giving you a chance to be like Me and all you can do is complain. And you prayed and you wanted to be like Me. I know. I should have held that prayer. I should have been more cautious about that prayer. I’m just saying.

Intentionality is not always easy. It’s not always easy to be intentional and hold the line as a parent. Those little original sinners will wear you down, man. They will wear you down. I was so glad when I was, when Jill and I were married and young, that my name was not her name. Because I don’t know what it is about kids. They have sort of things that, you know, where they annoy dad. But my kids would walk through the house. And my wife and I both loved them. And I was not one of those distant fathers. And I changed diapers. I was in the game. All right. But my kids would still walk, I fed them. But my kids would still, it’s something about the nature of mothers. My kids would still walk through the house. All of them. They would never walk through the house going like this. Dad, dad, dad. Right? You know how they walk through the house. Mom, mom, mom. I’d be sitting there going, man, I’m so glad I’m not her. Mom, mom, mom, mom. Keep breathing my air. Mom. It’s hard to be intentional sometimes. It’s not always easy.

I mean it’s great. I remember my wife and I, before we had kids, we read all the books. We were the greatest parents ever before one arrived. Our friends would be raising their kids. And we were tactiful. We never said it in front of them. Oh, you know, we should. Nothing’s worse than somebody without kids telling you how to raise kids. I mean, I know it’s not right to punch people. But they should be punched. But my wife and I didn’t do that. But we, on our way home, right, we’d be like, you know, if they were just more consistent, then we had kids. We thought, oh my Go. All right?

Be an intentional disciple. Just like your intentional parents. Just like your intentional in your marriage. Be an intentional disciple. Have your daily quiet time. Regularly gather together with your church and your Bible study. Serve the poor. Love Jesus by loving the unlovable. It sounds so romantic, but it’s hard. But do it.

Here’s what I want to say to you about this blind apostasy. My job as a pastor is to warn you in such a way that none of you ever approach. Right? I love. I love great salvation stories. Oh, I was a drug addict. I was living on the street. This was happening. I was in the pit of hell. And Jesus came and saved me. Man, I want that person to come and speak at church. That’s so inspiring. The only thing is that I don’t want to have my kids to have that testimony. I want my kids to have this testimony. I loved Jesus from my mother’s knees. And the Sunday school teachers in my church were so good. And they taught me Jesus. I can’t remember when I gave my life to Him. But I all I remember is like seven, eight, nine years old He was real to me and He was in my life. That’s a testimony. That’s kind of the testimony my kids have. That’s the testimony I wanted for them. All right?

I don’t want them to live on the edge of that line. I don’t want you to ever approach that line. And so I think the author of Hebrews didn’t want his flock to ever approach that line. Because he’d seen people who had apparently fallen off that cliff. Don’t dance on the edge of the Grand Canyon. And so here’s my deal. I’m warning you. I think it’s possible to reach a point of no return and to reject Christ. I don’t see any of you in danger of that. And I never want to.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His continence upon you and give you peace. Go in that peace to love and server the Lord. Amen? Alright, God bless you.