September 24, 2023 by Stevin Johnson

All right, welcome, guys. Let’s get on with it. Get away from the stories. It is good. This is family, and that’s going to be the topic of tonight anyway.

So, Psalm 62 says this, “I am at rest in God alone. My salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold. I will never be shaken. How long will you threaten a man? Will all of you attack as if he were a leaning wall or a tottering fence? They only plan to bring him down from his high position. They take pleasure in lying. They bless with their mouths, but they curse inwardly. Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold. I will not be shaken. My salvation and glory depend on God. My strong rock. My refuge is in God. I trust in him at all times. You people, pour out your hearts before him. God is our refuge. Common people are only a vapor. Important people an illusion. Together on a scale, they weigh less than a vapor. Place no trust in oppression or false hope in robbery. If wealth increases, don’t set your heart on it. God has spoken once. I have heard this twice. Strength belongs to God and faithful love belongs to you, Lord, for you repay each according to his works.”

1 I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken. 3 How long will you threaten a man? Will all of you attack as if he were a leaning wall or a tottering fence? 4 They only plan to bring him down from his high position. They take pleasure in lying; they bless with their mouths, but they curse inwardly. Selah 5 Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. 7 My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock. My refuge is in God. 8 Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before him. God is our refuge. Selah 9 Common people are only a vapor; important people, an illusion. Together on a scale, they weigh less than a vapor. 10 Place no trust in oppression or false hope in robbery. If wealth increases, dont set your heart on it. 11 God has spoken once; I have heard this twice: strength belongs to God, 12 and faithful love belongs to you, Lord. For you repay each according to his works. (Psalm 62:1-12, CSB)

Looking through Psalms, just trying to find some things about trusting in God alone. Maybe it played into what the music I was listening to when you guys came in, but their album was called “In God We Trust,” you know, and that’s on our coin. That’s on our currency. And there’s a lot of things to go in our country that led back to that or led to that, our basis of God. And you guys have heard me talk about that before. I am on a patriotic kick. I don’t know if it’s because the elections are coming up, you know, the season has started, but we’ll talk a little bit about that tonight.

So welcome everybody. Sunday night, autumn has started. The rains have come. The colds have begun. So, let’s worship the best you can. If you have a stuffy nose, nobody cares. It only sounds bad inside your own head. So welcome. Let’s go ahead and worship the Lord in music. Part of our music worship.

Speaking of sniffles and snuffles and not feeling well, this table was set for people like us, people that we know who are not feeling well, people who are ill. God doesn’t intend for us to be that way. We all know folks with one ailment or another one disease who are stricken. That table was set for them too.

So tonight when you come and you take the meal, it’s healing for you and it’s healing for all those, you know, that are hurting. Say a prayer for them. When you take the communion, take communion for them tonight, call them out by name. It’s important. They need us. They need Jesus more than anything else. And hopefully they all know who Jesus is and they’ve given their lives to him because you know what? The ultimate healing of this meal is life eternal. We are healed from death, from sin and death by what Jesus did on the cross. And someday, like Kevin says, it’s true. We are going to come face to face with the creator of all things and live life eternally.

So when you come up, be thankful, be grateful, praise him, pray for your friends and family. The meal was set for us. So come and eat.

All right, Lord, thank you for this evening and thank you for the chance to come and worship you. And I just pray that you let your words come forth. You guard my heart and let your presence just be felt in this room. And Lord, your presence be felt with whoever hears the word tonight. And we thank you. We love you, Jesus, in your name we pray. Amen.

It’s part of my problem with not really preparing sometimes for sermons is I’ll be sitting back there singing and thoughts just start going through my head. I’m like, oh, I’m going to change this, change that and do this. And that’s what I really should be talking about. And I’m like, wait, great, great. Throw it out the door. Start all over. I’m going to stick on topic though, but it’s probably going to change from what I wrote down in my notes.

So God, family, country. We’re going to touch on what Kevin touched on last week with worship, go and disciple the three legs of the stool of the church. Got a little help this week working on this too. So I’m going to give credit where credit’s due. Yep. To the one who’s pulling her hat down over her face because we went riding Friday morning and just as we got started riding, I’m like Sydney, what do you think about God, family, country, and worship, go and disciple. It was great. She helped me. She gave me some great ideas and I’m very grateful. Thank you, Sydney.

So as I said earlier, I’m a pretty patriotic person. And as I was just thinking, the flags have always been carried in front of armies. It’s been carried in front of nations at Olympics. You know, people carry their flag because that’s where they place their identity, right? It means something to them. The Christian flag, which was thought of in 1897, is the topic today. On September 26th, 1897, a teacher, a pastor, was preparing for a sermon. However, his pastor, who was supposed to give a sermon to his class, couldn’t show up. So, he asked his students, “What would a Christian flag look like if there was one?” Unofficially, in 1897, the Christian flag came about. In 1942, it was officially adopted as the Christian flag. Mainline churches didn’t start displaying it until the 1980s.

The flag is white with a blue field and a red cross. The white symbolizes the purity of Jesus. The blue represents the baptismal water, and the red cross stands for the crucifixion of Jesus for our salvation and our sins.

Does anyone know the protocol for flying flags? No flag is ever supposed to be above the United States flag. The United States flag is always supposed to be higher than any other flag, except in this case. I would argue that the Christian flag should fly above the United States flag for many reasons. Part of this is my identity, loyalty to my Lord and Savior, and honor to my Lord and Savior.

We are soldiers under the command of our God. You may not think of yourself as a soldier, but when you go out there to witness or evangelize, you’re going out to bring forth God’s word. Hopefully, it will bear fruit right then in front of you, but a seed planted for God never dies in the dirt. It always produces fruit.

I’m a simple man. I value loyalty and honor. I’ll fight for you. You got my back, I got your back. My friends are few, and you guys are counted among my friends. I’ll come fight for you, and I’ll be loyal to you and honor you. That’s what I do with the Christian flag. There are places in schools, Christian schools, that do fly the flags this way. I don’t know if anyone would Good on them. They should.

Does anyone know the reasons for the colors and the stars on the U.S. flag, and the numbers of stripes? The thirteen stripes represent the original colonies. Red is for strength and valor, white for purity and innocence. The stars represent every state, but they also represent a divine goal. In 1977, the House of Representatives published a book. In that book, they quote, “Symbol of the heavens and divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial, the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.” That was about the stars. So the House of Representatives talked about the flag being part of the divine goal. “In God we trust,” Betsy Ross had something going back then when she designed the flag, I think.  

Our founding fathers may not all have believed in God or Jesus, but they knew the Bible. A lot of what they talked about and wrote down is based on what the Bible said, because it worked. “All men are created equal.” There’s goodness in what they wrote.

God should always be first in your life. I spent a lot of time, as you guys know, and Jamie did too, flying underneath that flag on warships going across the ocean. We had patches on our shoulders that had the American flag. We believed in what it stands for. But primacy being we believe in God, the Creator, more than that it stands before everything else. So that is God, family, and country.

As I was trying to think of how to order these things while I was in the Navy, I was thinking about that. What are the most important things to me in my life? I concluded that it’s definitely God first, family second, country third.So, tying that into worship, go, disciple. While it was challenging at times, I had a little hard time trying to do that. So, I just threw up there, “God, worship the Creator, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, worship.” We talked about worship last week. Worship is lifting your heart to God. There’s not just worship music. Okay, now we’re going to open the scripture and have worship. It’s all the same. Everything you do on a daily basis should be worship. Most of the time, it is worship. A lot of times, we will worship things we don’t even realize we’re worshiping. Right? I’m guilty of rolling out of bed most mornings, saying, “Thank you, God, for this day,” and then I pick this up (smartphone). Look at the weather, look who texted me in the night. That’s an act of worship. Like, put that back down. Right?

You may not have thought of it as an act of worship, but you pick this thing up. Sometimes you don’t even say your prayer when you get up out of bed, you just pick this thing up. What has more importance in your life?

I listed some other examples. For some people, I don’t typically look in the mirror in the morning. I actually try not to turn any lights on because it’s a little scary. But some people worship themselves in the mirror in the morning. The most important thing is to get themselves primped and primed and ready for the day. Or to go to work and be able to be all that in a bag of chips.

Your music, here’s one that always gets me. I like pro sports. I used to like pro sports back when I actually thought there was, I mean, the players are talented now, but I actually thought players back a while ago actually played for the love of the game just because they enjoyed playing the game. But I can’t watch championship games, particularly the NFL championship or Major League baseball championship. I’m not a big basketball fan, so I don’t watch basketball. Not just because of the halftime shows at the NFL, that’s a whole different thing.

But because at the end of the game, what do they do? They march around with this trophy and they’re kissing it and they’re holding it and they’re hugging it. It’s the most important thing in the world to them. They’re worshiping that trophy. That’s that idol.

I don’t know that Tim Tebow, he wasn’t the first Christian pro football player out there. There were other ones, but I think he actually got it in the limelight. And there’s more and more Christian football players out there and baseball players who actually will take a stand, which is great. I love that. But that whole trophy thing bothers me. I don’t like to watch that. It’s, that shouldn’t be the first thing, but everybody’s got their favorite team. And they don’t miss a week of watching it on Sunday sports.

So what’s more important for that? We should be worshiping the Creator, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. Like I mentioned earlier, because I was on a patriotic kick, as maybe, whoops, probably messing this up bots, you’re gonna have a time dealing with the sound this week. I did a little change in the formatting of the slides with the red, white, and blue.

Our Founding Fathers did, like I said earlier, in the Declaration of Independence in the Constitution, God did have a forefront in what they were thinking and how they put things together.And that was kind of thinking of that, to me, was an act of worship as well, that they deemed his word important enough to include it in our governing documents.

Sometimes, I like what Kevin has to say, we don’t have to do it, we get to worship God. And years ago, when I first heard him say that, because I never felt like it was an obedience thing growing up, but it kind of was. It was what you did, that you didn’t have a relationship with God. It was just, you go to church, you be good, and you read the Bible, and you do what it says in there.

But I really don’t remember a whole lot of growing up where it was talked about the relationship, worship in a relationship with God, where he’s somebody who actually is alive and wants to be a part of your life. And it was a delight when I learned that, hey, that’s true. I felt my spirit lift when I realized that God is real, and it’s not just, I’m not just praying for rote memory type prayer, I’m actually talking to somebody who listens and cares and wants to give me what I ask for.

So, worship, and then move on to family. This is where Sidney helped me out. She talked about, it’s like, “Sidney, what do you think that it means on the worship go disciple for family?” And she’s like, “You go to community, you go to your family. You’re a part of something.”

So, we’re family. We’re a very small family here, but I think even if we grew, we would still be a family in this church. It’s just the way a firehouse is. There’s relationship here. We actually care for each other, and we bring forth our prayers and our concerns without fear of bringing them forth, because everybody here loves each other. So, there are two types of family. There’s the blood family, right? So, the four of us here, five when everybody’s home, we’re a blood family. There is that. But the 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 of us that, well, Kevin would make 15 that meet every Sunday here, we’re family too. We’re a church family, and there is something to be said about church family.

When the congregations get really, really big, it’s hard to be part of the family because it’s really, really big. But when we’re small like this, we fill and live for each other. We live life together. We share life together. So, that’s the bedrock. I think that’s the bedrock of God’s love for us. We are a family of God. We are his children, quite literally. But it’s a bedrock where all things pretty much bond together.

And so, what going to the family means, when we talk about ministries, there’s a lot of ministries that go out throughout the world. And there are people who God has called to go do that. I was never, never felt called to go out throughout the world to minister and evangelize. I do think that my calling and everybody’s initial calling is ministering in your bedrock, ministering in your family. Those are the ones you have to teach and show and let them grow up and accept it themselves one day.

And we were discussing about this a little bit of a rabbit trail, but I will get back, I think. PKs, pastors to kids, we homeschooled, the Kagawa’s homeschooled. There are some, I think there’s some folks out there who minister, either youth pastors or work in the church who don’t want to consider bringing their kids back and homeschooling them. They want to leave them out in the public schools because they want to send them out that they’re missionaries. I don’t, my personal feeling is pull them back in because they’re too young to be missionaries. In the family, the bedrock, teach, instruct, give them a chance to grow up and understand and commit their lives to the Lord, then send them out to be missionaries, if that’s choosing. But that was a rabbit trail. I’m coming back.

And that’s where we teach grace and mercy is learned at home. And those are two important things to be able to take out of the home for your family is learning grace and mercy. You’re able to deal with others and deal with the problems that you will have in the world.

So for country, disciple. Disciple, service, leadership, and prayer. Disciples, teaching, right? So I love America. I think America still is one of the greatest countries in the world. There’s a lot of things that I’m not happy with about in America right now. And I would, I pray that we get, we could bring God back into our country, that we could bring God back into our country, that those who are trying to extinguish it are not successful.

Those pillars of Christianity that were written in the constitution work for everybody, whether you’re a believer or not, because they’re about love and about doing what’s right, what’s morally right. And that never really doesn’t work out for anybody. Just like anywhere else, you’ll have people who corrupt things, and that unfortunately will tarnish it. But for the most part, when it’s done out of love, grace, and mercy, with your heart focused on Jesus, we all end up being service members, you know.

You guys all should look at that flag and know that you’re service members because of your love for Jesus, which flows in and outpouring to those around you. It always warms my heart to sit in here and hear when Karen talks about when she’s run into somebody who needs help, who needs to hear kind, loving words, and she’s ready to minister to them. I mean, that’s what it’s about.

Don’t have to give the person standing on the front row a hand. Don’t have to give the person standing on the corner money. You can, but I usually just end up, if I’m on my way to the grocery store, I pick up a sandwich, bottle of water, bag of chips, and as I’m going back by that corner, I’m like, here you go. I’ve only been turned down once, the person turned the food down. It’s like, nope, don’t want that. Like, okay, well, that’s all you’re going to get from me, right? So why pass up food?

But we’re to do this service to one another, to those who don’t know Jesus, to the poor, the needy, to go out minister in our own communities, our own country. Yes, the world needs evangelizing. They need to know, people need to know the gospel. But right now in our own country, there’s a lot of other, there’s a lot more people who need to know the gospel.

And I think we got to, we got to look back into our own country, fix ourselves before we go back out and start trying to help everybody else. We used to be pretty good at that a long time ago, but we’ve gotten kind of off the beaten path and it became more political and more other things and just going out. I mean, you watch the young men and women who go out and fight. They initially, they’re fighting for the country. They end up when you’re in the trenches, you’re fighting for the person next to you. That’s really what it starts going down to. But most people who’ve joined the military joined because they believed in the ideal that America stood for: to take care of the underdog, to serve the poor and the needy, the oppressed. We have that in our own country. We need to do that in our country so that we can go out and do it throughout the world.

So, it all boils down to agape love. I like that word, agape. Agape love is God’s love for us. If you have it in your heart and you’ve turned your life over to Jesus, it’s going to be in your heart and you’re going to start feeling it for other people. And that’s what we’re going to do.

So, God, family, country, worship, go, disciple, really all boils down to agape love. Want to narrow it down. That’s really what it boils down to. And I’m glad to say that, you know, everybody in this room, I know that your heart is there in the agape love. And I hope and I pray that you people that are listening online, and I pray that more people do, come through this door, come through these doors to the firehouse in Poulsbo inside the Fearless Church building, six o’clock Sunday nights.

It’s a good time to show up, but we never, if you don’t get here until 6:15, you’re still going to make service before it starts. So, but please come, come, fill up this room and learn about the agape love. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Come know Jesus. Jesus is real and he loves each one of you. And you will never be sorry that you came and did that.

So that’s all I really had for tonight. I was a little patriotic, trying to tie some things that I hold dear together and kind of share that with you. I got to share a little extra with the Cagallas when they got here tonight. If you guys want to stick around, I’ll play some thundering rock music and, or you can run away bravely.

So that’s it. God bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon each and every one of you. Lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Sophia, finish it off. Rest in His peace. Thank you.