November 19, 2023 by P. Kevin Clancey

1 Vindicate me, O God, And plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! 2 For you are the God of my strength; Why do you cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3 Oh, send out your light and your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to your holy hill And to your tabernacle. 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise you, O God, my God. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalm 43:1-5, NKJV)

So you have troubles. They might be big, they might be small, but you got troubles. You brought them into this place. And one of the things you get to do on earth that you won’t get to do on the new heavens and the new earth is to praise God in the midst of troubles because they are temporary and his love and mercy is everlasting.

So you have an opportunity to do something wonderful. You can praise God in the midst of whatever you’re facing. So I just invite you to do that.

We have music that will help you do that. But it’s not the music’s job to make you worship. You get to do that. It’s the music’s job to help you. So let’s worship God tonight.

So you come here on Sunday night so you don’t forget that. There it is. I love you.

For God so loved the world that he gave his son. This is my body. This is my blood. This is God coming to earth to say I want sons and daughters to be my forever family. And I will go to these lengths to get them. I will become a man. God became a man. God became a human being.

That’s like if you loved your ant farm so much you became an ant to go down and save them from the big ant eater that was coming and warned them that this ant eater was on the way. And then they all ganged up on you and killed you for it.

That’s probably kind of like it. So take this food of God. Be thankful. You’ve inherited a great salvation. You’ve got a great future. You’re going to be like Jesus. We will be utterly unique in eternity. You will be more Karen-y than you are now, Karen. You’ll be more you than you are now. But you’ll also be just like Jesus. It’s just going to be something to behold.

So come. Take and eat. God loves you. This is proof. Don’t forget.

Holy are you Lord. You are set apart. You are high and lifted up. And yet you became one of us. And now you have gathered us to yourself and incredibly you are making us like you.

Thank you. Thank you for forgiving our sins. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us. Who transforms us into the likeness of Jesus. Thank you for one another. That we have the beginnings. The manifestation of your new family.

And we are here tonight in the school of love. We get to love one another because you are here with us and you’re teaching us how to do this.

And we get to do it forever. And so we’re grateful to you. We’re going to open up your word. We’re going to open up your text. We ask Lord that you would use this. And this fallible preacher. To make us more like Jesus by your Spirit. We pray it in his Name, Amen.

Hebrews chapter 12 verses 1 through 11. We are there.

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 you have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord , Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:1-11, ESV)

And may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock, our strength, and our redeemer.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in your sight, O Lord , my strength and my Redeemer.(Psalm 19:14, NKJV)

So, this is about running the race of faith and enduring the discipline that comes with it. I want to talk about running the race. We’re in a race, a long-distance race, not a sprint. It’s an endurance race, a marathon. We need to have a goal in mind. Our goal is Christlikeness. We often have mistaken notions about heaven, thinking it will be all good stuff happening to us. But one of the greatest things about heaven is becoming heavenly ourselves. The biggest problem in our lives is ourselves. We need to become more like Jesus to enjoy eternity. Christlikeness is our goal, and God promises to perfect the work He has begun in us.

In pursuing this goal, we are inspired by the saints who have gone before us. We have examples from the Old Testament and the New Testament, including Jesus, Paul, Peter, and the saints described in the scriptures. Church history shows us that the church is messy, but it is also glorious. The messy gospel has shaped history for 2000 years and has influenced Western culture. Many ethical debates in our culture can be traced back to Christian arguments on both sides. For example, the Christian argument against abortion is based on the commandment not to kill, while the argument for individual sovereignty comes from the Christian belief in personal responsibility before God.

In conclusion, let us run the race of faith, keeping our goal of Christlikeness in mind and drawing inspiration from the saints who have gone before us. Despite the messiness of the church and the challenges we face, the gospel has the power to shape history and influence culture.

That is actually a Christian argument. Some of you don’t think that’s a Christian argument until it comes to vaccines, and then you think it’s a profoundly Christian argument. You jump real quick onto my body, my choice at that one, right? Just saying.

Now I land on the first side of that argument, I think probably with most of you. I think when those two arguments, when those two principles are held together, the principle of life and valuing life and caring for the least and the last and the voiceless overrides the value of one person’s sovereignty to make all those decisions.

I don’t think, I think when the decision comes to you getting to choose what you want to do with your body and choosing to take another life, I think that’s a bigger one. But I just say that to prove to you that all our arguments are intramural.

And the reason that is, is because of church history. Because of this great cloud of witnesses that have shaped Western culture.

That river is muddy at times, and that river takes some real turns, but that river is progressing throughout history to change the world in which we live in.

Don’t ever believe that the good old days were better. Ethics are better today than they used to be, and you say, oh no they’re not. Listen, yes they are.

You say, well look at all the digger, look at all the sexual ethics that we’re abandoning. Exactly. We’re abandoning them. Where are we abandoning from? A Judeo-Christian worldview.

As however sexually depraved you think our culture is, we got nothing on first century Rome. Trust me. Why? This great cloud of witnesses. Our inspiration.

And as long as we’re walking with Jesus, we are shaping history. However clumsily and messily we do it, we are advancing the kingdom on earth so that one day his glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

You say, Pastor, we got a long way to go before that. Maybe, but we’ve come a long way. We’ve come a long way. Before you argue with me, go study some Roman history and tell me that that was better before Christ.

Great cloud of witnesses. Our inspiration. We have a handicap in this race. We have a handicap. We got a big old backpack on us. It’s the weight of sin. We’re running with unnecessary extra weight.

If Brian and I both decided tomorrow to run a marathon, Brian would win. You know why? He’s trained for it and I got extra weight. I got extra weight because even though I’m not very apocalyptic, some of you store up food in your garage. I think actually that makes sense in an earthquake zone to have some emergency supplies. But some people are so apocalyptic, they think this terrible dystopian future is coming upon us and they store up years worth of food in their garage. I think that’s extreme. I think a month is good and you know what, I don’t have a lot of space in my garage, so I just store it above my belt. Just seems to make sense to me.

And listen, you would win the marathon, but if real apocalypse came and real hunger came, I’m outlasting you, man. I got you there. All right. So that’s the deal. Sorry, Otts. You’re going too.

Not that I envy or jealous of you skinny guys or anything like that, but I’m just saying. So I wouldn’t delight in it, that’s all I’m saying.

All right. What’s my point? We carry a weight. The weight we carry is sin.

And we were talking about the movie from the 1980s, The Mission, when the character who was a slaver and is converted but feels horribly guilty about it, and he’s going back to meet the people that he’s persecuted and enslaved.

He’s not sure if they’ll kill him or forgive him. And he’s climbing all these mountains and making this arduous journey, and the journey is hard enough. It’s a hard, hard journey. They’re climbing up cliffs, but he’s doing it with hundreds of pounds of weight.

His armor, his old armor, and all his weapons, and all this heavy metal, he’s dragging it along with him on the journey, and the sympathetic monks who are with him want him to lay it down, but the lead monk knows he can’t lay it down yet. He can’t lay it down until he knows for sure he’s for free.

And he finally comes upon the natives who he had enslaved. He’d enslaved their brothers and their mothers, their fathers. He had trapped them and kidnapped them. He had been a terrible man to them, and one of the natives recognizes him, and he takes out his knife.

And there’s a moment of tension, and you don’t know whether he’s going to cut his throat, but instead of cutting his throat, he’s on the edge of a cliff. He cuts that weight, and it falls into oblivion. And he is forgiven, and he is free.

You and I are forgiven, and we’re free. So don’t carry it anymore. Don’t go back to your own vomit. Don’t go back to your old sins. And if you do, go to Christ and be forgiven quickly. That’s what Hebrew says. It doesn’t shame us for our sin. It just says, don’t do it. It’s not helping you. It’s not helping you in this race.

You’re not going to win this race carrying that heavy backpack. Get rid of the sin that entangles. Get rid of the handicap.

And we have a means to this goal of Christlikeness, and the means, dear ones, and this is one of the themes to the book of Hebrews, the means is endurance.

We, you and I, need endurance. And that is one of the reasons I’ve talked about this time and time again. We’ve touched on this as we’ve gone through Hebrews.

That’s one of the reasons we come to church, to encourage one another, to help us have endurance.

I’ll tell you, the story about Julie’s healing has given me endurance, right? It’s like, wow, that’s encouraging to see the in-breaking of the kingdom of God like that. And other stories, and just, I’ve got to tell you people, seeing your face Sunday after Sunday keeps me on my feet. It keeps me going.

It’s like, oh, you know, there they are, that beautiful little Paul’s bow crew, you know? Three families and Peter, you know? And we just, it just keeps me on my feet. It gives me endurance. It’s encouraging.

That’s why we need Barnabases. We need encouragers. Because it takes courage. We need somebody to run alongside of us, right?

Those of you who ever trained with the military, you realize, man, if you had to do all that training alone, you wouldn’t finish. But you’ve got a drill instructor there in your ear, and you keep going. And you’ve got buddies and comrades who are along with you, and they keep you going. And you keep them going.

And so it’s put the right foot in front of the left, and put the left foot in front of the right, and it is not meant to be a race that is run alone. We are becoming Christ-like together. So encourage one another as you have opportunity. Pray for one another. Support one another. And endurance is the means by which we win the race.

There’s only one way to lose this race, quitting. You cannot lose if you do not quit. You cannot lose if you do not quit. That’s it. Don’t quit.

Oh, you don’t know how hard it is, pastor. No, I don’t know how hard it is for you. I don’t. I’m not in your skin. I’ve heard lots of stories. You don’t know how hard it is for me. Oh, you’re a pastor.

You got it all together. You don’t know the Bible. You’re just sailing smooth, man. That’s right. Just come look at me some Sunday night in the fetal position. It’s messy.

Don’t quit. We have an example, Jesus. It says He went all the way to the cross. He didn’t quit. He finished the race. You know why? For the joy that was set before Him. He went all the way to the cross. He suffered it. He drank the dregs of humanity. He died for the Romans who drove nails into His hands and feet, who spat upon Him. He died for His disciples who bravely ran away. He died for the crowds who had healed, who now were shouting crucify Him. He died for you and I who have selfishly at times rejected Him in our own ways.

And the joy that was set before Him was bringing us into His forever family. I say this to people all the time. My wife and I, our kids were growing up, we put their pictures on our refrigerator. And then we started putting their friends’ pictures on their refrigerator.

We were pastors and the church had a large youth group. And so kids would start to bring us their pictures. Put my picture on your refrigerator. All those little leachy, moochy kids knew where my refrigerator was.

My daughter married one. He and his brother would come over to our house. My wife would come home from Costco with $500 worth of food. And she’d be hauling it in by herself. And they were polite boys. They were raised right. They weren’t lazy. They’d come out and say, oh, Mrs. Clancy, can we help you haul those groceries in? And I was back there and said, you better. You haul them out.

But we’d have kids and they’d come over to our house and they’d get disappointed. It’s like, my picture’s not on your refrigerator. And I’d say, well, you haven’t given it to me. They just appear from heaven. Give me your picture. I’ll put it on the refrigerator, all right?

God has your picture on his refrigerator. He loves your face. He loves your face. Looking around, so do I, by the way. I love your faces. I do.

Not a bad face in the crowd, all right? So he loves your face. You are the joy set before him. He’s our example and he’s our presence.

Not only is he our example, as somebody who lived 2,000 years ago and didn’t quit and went all the way to the cross, he actually now is with us.

And one of my goals is whenever I pastor a people for a period of time, I realize you are not going to remember one one-thousandth of what I say up here. But there are things that are going to get drilled into you that you are not going to forget, all right?

And what is the best prayer that you can pray? There you go. Help, all right? That’s a Kevinism. You’re just going to grab hold of that, all right? That’s a Kevinism. Help. Help.

His presence is with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. And every time you pray the prayer help, help will come. And rarely in the way you’re looking for it. But it’ll come. It’ll come. You have a presence.

So, in becoming Christ-like, we are then to consider Jesus.

We’ve not yet paid the ultimate price. If you had paid the ultimate price, you wouldn’t be here, all right? Because the ultimate price is the shedding of your blood, becoming a martyr, dying, just going all the way.

And whether you become a martyr or not, you will go all the way. At some point, you will leave this body, and you will go to be with him and await your resurrected body. And that’s all good, and that’s the way it works. And it’ll be sad when it happens to you, and we’ll all cry. But it’ll be your graduation day, and it’ll be all right. And we’ll get over it, and we’ll all get back together, be reunited.

This story is going to end well. There’s going to be sadness on the way, but it’s going to end well. But we have not yet paid the ultimate price, and Jesus did, and I already said he did it for you. He went the distance to have you forever. And that’s just good news.

The God of the universe has not abandoned a rebellious creation. He came to seek and save that which was lost.

10For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10, NKJV)

It’s me, that which was lost. Some of you, I look at you and go, you know, God says we’re wretched sinners and all that kind of stuff. Some of you are looking and go, really? Nah, they ain’t that bad. They ain’t that bad.

But you know, right? You know what a little stinker you are. Yep, yep. I mean, you love your kids, and you want the best for them, and you love your grandkids. I love my grandkids so much, but they’re little stinkers. My kids were little stinkers. Man, they were little original sinners. They were worse than little stinkers. They were little original sinners.

I’ll never forget. This is the best example I ever had of original sin. Another Kevinism. I’ve used this example 20 times, but I’m going to use it again. My dear father-in-law, Jill’s father, dear man, bought, you know, loved buying Christmas presents for the kids, and he bought this Christmas present for Megan and Michael, my oldest and second, five and three, and this will date.

It was a tape player, a cassette player. Anybody know what a cassette player is? Okay, Sophia, Sidney, Peter.

It’s this little ancient machine that played music. You had to have a pencil to fix it sometimes. It was pretty cool.

And you put this cassette in, and, you know, and it would play this music. And he bought this cassette player for these two kids, but it was only one cassette player for two kids. And he bought a little tape, and it was of this Christian choir, these little kids singing Christian songs. It was so sweet.

It was Jesus Loves Me, you know, all these beautiful little Christian songs with little angelic voices. And I’ll never forget one of the songs. It went like this. If you share and share alike, love makes it right. If you share and share alike, God’s love is there for everyone.

So precious, so sweet, angelic voices singing. And this song’s playing. The irony was so profound and such a beautiful moment. This song’s playing on this tape player. This tape player has a handle to carry it on both sides. You could carry it either way.

So I have a three-year-old with his hands on one side of that handle, and over here I have a five-year-old with hands on the other side of that handle. Thanksgiving coming up, and you’re going to get a wishbone. You know what you do with a wishbone? These kids are wishboning that tape player. They are both pulling as hard as they can in opposite directions. I’m surprised that thing didn’t come apart.

And they’re pulling this, and they’re looking at each other with brotherly love and sisterly love. No, with pure venom. And they’re staring at each other, and they’re both screaming simultaneously as loud as they can. One of those words that kids know best. Mine!

And in the background, if you share and share alike, love makes it right. And I just could not. The irony of it, the moment was I thought, I have a sermon illustration for life here on original sin. My kids have given me that gift.

And I called into my wife, and I said, We’ve done it, honey, and she was not in a mood. She said, We’ve done what? I said, Begot original sinners. You and I did that.

We made them. We now have to protect the world from them. And so I must go to the next part of this passage.

As a good father, I must discipline them. And what good father wouldn’t? And what happened to that tape player was that got put away for a while. It wasn’t mine, and it wasn’t mine. I walked in and said, Mine. Me bigger.

So, the discipline of God. Discipline is not a bad word. We tend to think of discipline as being in trouble. And this passage talks about that in a way that God corrects us, corrects us in our behaviors, corrects us in our attitudes.

But also discipline is the word from which we get the word discipleship. Discipline is training. Discipline is things we do to reach a desired end, that the things in themselves are not the end, but they get us to that place. And the things may be uncomfortable to our flesh.

Does that make sense? We want to become Christlike, and Christlike is this beautiful goal that is great and full of joy and eternity.

But to become Christlike, there’s a flesh, there’s a part of us that has to be crucified, and that’s unpleasant. And so we do what? We practice disciplines.

Disciplines don’t earn God’s favor. Disciplines in themselves don’t make us more Christlike. What disciplines do is they present us, they bring us into the presence of Christ for that transformation. And eventually, even the disciplines become pleasant.

The disciplines become things. In fact, sometimes the disciplines start off as pleasant. I remember the first week of basketball practice was kind of fun. You’re out there, you’re young, you’re using your body.

But then comes the week where the coach is like, okay, we’re going to build endurance this week. Because there’s great joy in winning a game in the fourth quarter, but nobody wins a game in the fourth quarter if they’re out of shape. And so now we’re going to get you in shape so you can experience the joy of winning a game in the fourth quarter later.

And we would run suicides. You know, just up and down the court, touching the court, running back, touching the court, running back, touching the court.

When you don’t think you can run anymore, the coach says, light it up! And there you go again. And you’re thinking, why am I playing basketball? And then I remember, because girls like jocks. That’s why. I knew there was a reason.

And so I had a goal, and it wasn’t winning in the fourth quarter. Never mind my goal. But anyway, discipline is not a bad word. Why do I get up early and I have my quiet time with God? Well, I’ll tell you. Because it makes us Christ-like. But I’ll also tell you, that quiet time with God is pleasant. Right? You get to meet with Him.

It’s a discipline, actually, to schedule a date night with your wife when you’ve got small children. It’s hard. You’ve got to arrange a sitter. You’ve got to pay for a sitter. You’ve got to spend the money on the date night. It’s hard. It’s just to be easier. Just like, oh, we’re exhausted. Let’s just stay home, put the kids to bed, and watch TV. And it’s like, no.

But then you end up on the date night, and you end up going, oh yeah, this is why I fell in love with this person. It’s pleasant. It’s nice. If you need a date night, call me up. I’ll watch your kids. All right? I’ll babysit your kids. Jill’s down with that. We’ll watch your kids.

And here’s what will happen. Your kids will come over to my house and people will watch them and they will be sweet and pleasant. and wonderful and then you’ll walk in the door and they’ll turn into stinkers, it happens every time. I’ll watch them. I’ll watch them. I got work to do around the house. I got stuff I can do.

Alright, you can send Cindy and Sophia over any time, they are a delight.

Alright, so there’s discipleship but there’s also, there’s hardship, there’s persecution, there’s just stuff that happens that is hard in life. Listen, whatever happens to us, submit it to God. Not all hardship is from God, right? Not all persecution is from God. Now there are times when the discipline is direct.

If you are the least bit attentive to the voice of God, you are going to get correction in your life. The Bible will correct you.

Listen, don’t read the Bible with confirmation bias just to get out of it things you already believe. Let God speak to you.

I remember the first time I became a Christian, I started reading the Bible and it was kind of delightful. It really was. It was, you know, that was that early blush of being a Christian and the Bible speaking to you. You’re like, man, I never knew this was in there and this is great.

And then something happened at school and there was this gal and my friend, actually we were just jerky boys, and my friend like threw a sandwich at these girls, like a piece of a sandwich at these girls. Why? Because he was a junior in high school and that’s what you do when girls walk by to show them that, you know, you like them. You throw gross food at them. It’s like, all right, boys are stupid.

So I was sitting with him. I did not throw the food, but guilt by association.

And because I wanted to be one of the cool guys, we’re all kind of laughing at it. I kind of, oh, yeah, that was a good one. You know, you threw food at the girls.

Well, later that day, one of those girls was my friend and I saw her and I realized being a young Christian, the Holy Spirit kind of convicted me and said, hey, you know, that wasn’t cool.

So I walked up to her and I did the Christian thing. I said, hey, man, I apologize for my friend. That was a Christian thing to do, right? I said, hey, when my friend threw that at you, that wasn’t cool, I’m sorry. And she gave me a humph and walked away, turned around and just walked away.

And I thought, man, I humbled myself to ask her for forgiveness. I’ll show her. I’ll give her a humph next time I see her.

So I went home that night and I was reading my Bible and I opened my Bible to this page. It wasn’t even the Bible itself. It was just the heading for the section of the Bible that said, forgiveness for the offender.

And God disciplined me. He didn’t spank me. He didn’t scold me. He didn’t yell at me. He brought a correction. He said, no, you’re not going to humph next time you see her. You’re going to be gracious and kind to her because you sinned against her and she sinned against you by not accepting your apology. And now you’re going to forgive her for that.

You’re going to model what forgiveness looks like to her. For three months, I was nice to that girl. Said hello to her in the hall, smiled at her, just was nice. She did not talk to me for three months.

Do you know women are bred, women are actually born with an innate gift for the silent treatment? They’re just great at it. They’re so good at the silent treatment. How you doing? Fine. Yeesh. The last words you’re going to hear for a while.

Three months, she didn’t talk to me. Then one day we were both late for French class. That was pretty normal for me, but an aberration for her.

And she was a little later than me and she’s walking behind me. I opened the door and I held it open for her. I said, even if you won’t talk to me, I’ll hold the door open for you. And I hear this little voice, thank you, and she walked in.

And all of a sudden she started talking to me, never talked about it again. The friendship was restored. That is discipline, right? God used his word, corrected my planned behavior and disciplined me.

I don’t want to use discipline like it’s God up there just spanking you all the time. That’s not the point. He corrects you. Isn’t that what Timothy says? All scripture is inspired and it’s useful for what? Teaching, training in righteousness, correcting. It corrects us.

And so the Holy Spirit will correct you, he’ll discipline you, but then when you face other hardships, you submit them to Christ. And what happens? The goal, Christlikeness. When you’re persecuted, we have our example, Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. That’s Christlike, all right?

Old movie illustrations continue.

Ben-Hur, not the one they made a few years ago, but the 1959 version. I went to the movie because my friends told me, cool chariot scene, man. Cool chariot race.

So we went to watch the chariot race and we thought it was just a cool gladiator movie. And I didn’t realize when I went, when I walked in, it was a story about Jesus. And at the end of the movie, the character Judah Ben-Hur, who hated Romans and wanted to kill Romans, beholds Christ being crucified.

His love interest in the movie has already kind of fallen for Christ, but Judah Ben-Hur wants to kill Romans. He doesn’t want to forgive them. He hears Christ say as he’s being crucified, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. (Luke 23:34, NKJV)

And a great line in the movie, he tells his love interest, he said, I heard him say, Father, forgive them.

They know not what they do.

The love interest says, even then, he goes, yeah, even then. And here’s the line, he says, and when I heard those words, it took the sword out of my hand. I’m no longer going to kill Romans.

And so, correction, correction, submitted to Christ to become Christ-like. Unfair things are going to happen to you. They have happened to you. Persecution can happen to you. Just life, right? Tragedy and bad things. And yet in all those things, as we submit them to Christ, the goal of Christ-likeness, the Father uses, he does not waste anything.

I am not one of those who believes God is the cause of everything. I am one of those who believes God never loses. And so, dear ones, you laid hold of Jesus because some preacher told you one day to do it, or your parents told you one day to do it, and they said, this is the way to get your sins forgiven. This is the way that when you die, you go to the good place, not the bad place. You said, sounds good to me.

There was more of that for me. There was more to it. There’s more to it. You know, they said I could have a relationship with this God. I was in. Okay, I’m in. I want a relationship with this God. I want to know this God.

And I found out that this God is persistent. Kevin, I’m going to make you like me. God, can’t I just get a little better?

C. S. Lewis has a great story. I think it’s in Mere Christianity. He says, we invite God into our life, and it’s like a house. We invite him in to fix a leak. Maybe it’s one bad habit, anger, smoking, whatever. And sure enough, God fixes that. And then we say, great, thanks, you can leave.

But he doesn’t. Pretty soon, he starts knocking down walls and doing a whole remodel. He’s making new hallways and new passages, and it’s like having that contractor in your house for month after month after month, and he won’t leave, and all you wanted was the leak fixed.

But you know what he’s doing? He’s making a mansion fit for a king. And don’t quit, because he isn’t going to quit. So you might as well work with him instead of against him, all right? Open the door, say, okay, Lord, deal with my anger. Lord, deal with this area that I don’t want to tell anybody about.

Deal with my resentment toward my parents who weren’t all what they were supposed to be, like whose were. Your kids aren’t going to be in therapy one day saying, I mean, I even said that one time.

My daughter was throwing a fit about something, and she stomped off, and I just turned to my wife, and I said, let her talk to her therapist in 20 years. We jacked her up. Sorry, we did our best.

All right. I think I’m done. Say amen. Amen.

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 countenance upon you and give you peace.

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’ (Numbers 6:24-26, NKJV)