December 10, 2023, by P. Kevin Clancey

We are now in Hebrews chapter 13, dear ones. Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers who come to you all the way from Virginia. For by doing so, some have unwittingly entertained angels. I don’t think so. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them. Those who are mistreated, since you yourselves are in the body also.

1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. 3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also (Hebrews 13:1-3, NKJV)

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled. But fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness. Be content with such things as you have.

For he himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me? Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” 7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:4-8, NKJV)

God, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight.

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)

I want to start tonight with that last verse, and there’s a theological reason for that. We tend to look at the Bible and think, “Oh, it’s a bunch of things it’s telling us to do.” But I think the first message of the Bible is it’s telling us what God has done. And then all the stuff about what we should do follows therefore.

Therefore, because of this, God is the first actor. In Exodus, he gives the Ten Commandments. We’ve got to follow the Ten Commandments. Here’s how the Ten Commandments start.

I am the Lord your God who delivered you out of the land of Egypt. This is what I’ve done for you. Therefore, I desire a covenant relationship with you. Therefore, this is how you live in a covenant relationship with me.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV)

And he gives six exhortations here. But the “therefore” comes after in this passage, but I’m just switching it up.

So, Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And we can know what Jesus is like because God is so gracious, he gave us a book.

And that book has been faithfully translated down through the ages. And we have, and I will tell you this with full confidence, we have trustworthy English translations of that book. There is more evidence for the reliability of the New Testament than any other piece of ancient literature.

And there’s two ways historians try to decide whether something’s historically accurate or not from ancient writings. One is the number of writings they have available that collaborate each other. Number two is how far do those writings go back to the original source?

When you take those two criteria and you apply them to the New Testament, there is simply no document in ancient history on which we base our historical understanding that even comes close to the New Testament. I mean, if you want to look up, you believe Alexander the Great existed and he conquered much of the Mediterranean region. There’s about eight copies of the history of Alexander the Great that we have that transpired from his time to the present. And the copies that we have, I think, make it into about the 10th or 11th century.

And there’s about eight or nine copies. We have manuscripts of the New Testament, not the whole New Testament, but parcels of the New Testament that go back to 200 AD. We have whole New Testaments that go back to about 300 AD. And we have thousands upon thousands of them. And so, the only reason science…

Disavows the New Testament and says, “Oh, this has to be legend or myth,” is because of the supernatural. But we believe that. We believe God did all that stuff. We believe if there’s a theistic creator, that miracles are entirely possible and he did all that stuff. And so, we have a record of who Jesus is and therefore who God is.

And here’s what Hebrews says. You can ask all your questions after I’m done, so just write them down. I’m on a roll, baby. This is a sermon, not a lesson. I’m on a roll. So here’s what Hebrew says: The same Jesus that we have a record of is exactly the same today, and he’ll be the same yesterday. And that’s good news. All right, he’ll be the same tomorrow, and that’s good news because our assurance of the goodness of God in eternity is based on the person, the work, and the witness of Jesus Christ.

His resurrection, the Bible says, applies to us and therefore we are promised that we will not die. We will live eternally. Our bodies will die, but our consciousness will never cease. And we will live eternity. We’ll live in eternity where all the tears are wiped away. There’ll be no more suffering, pain, or death, and it will be good. And we’ll be reunited with loved ones. And we’ve won because he’s won. We’ve won with him. And so our future, because Jesus Christ is the same, is good.

Now here’s where we mess up. We’re talking about this earlier in the church. We believe in the great I was. I mean Orthodox Christians, we believe in the great I was. Look at all these wonderful things Jesus did and said. I believe in the virgin birth. I believe in the resurrection. I believe in the miracles. I believe in the miracles of the Old Testament. I believe it all. And we believe in the great I will be. Eternity will be great, and you know, I can hardly wait. And it’ll be awesome, and we’ll be forever saved, and it’s gonna be great.

But he’s the same today, which is by the way why I’m not a cessationist, because that would make Jesus different today. You know what a cessationist is, right? That the miraculous gifts of the Spirit have ceased. Now that we have the Bible, we don’t do that stuff anymore. Well, now that we have the Bible, if we don’t do that anymore, I would expect the Bible to say that. And it doesn’t. It doesn’t. It’s just not in the New Testament. There are some tricky exegetical loops people go around to try to make it work, but it doesn’t work.

And Hebrews 13:8 is one of the clearest non-cessationist passages in the Bible. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” And I would say the cessationist argument does not come from Scripture.

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV)

I would say the cessationist argument comes from experience, or better yet, from the lack of experience. Since I haven’t experienced these things and I’m a Christian, God must not be doing these things because everything God wants to do has to have happened in the first month of my Christian life. That was sarcasm.

Yeah, so here’s the options. Let’s say you pray for the sick and they don’t get healed, which happens a lot. I’ve experienced that. So here are the options: one, to give up faith altogether and say God’s not alive. If he was alive, he would answer prayers in a simpler and easier and more efficient way. So God is dead. He didn’t, you know, I prayed. I prayed, you know, C. S.

Lewis, I prayed for my mother as a young boy who had cancer. I prayed for her to live, but she died. I became an atheist, all right, later came back around. That’s one option.

Another option, and here’s what I think people do, is, okay, the Bible says he’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Bible says he still does this stuff, but he didn’t do it. So, I’m gonna invent a theology over here to solve that problem and say, ‘Oh, well, here’s why he didn’t do it. Here’s why it didn’t happen.’

Now that we have the Bible, God doesn’t do that anymore. All right, because he really wants to just get us saved from our sins and go to heaven, so he doesn’t do that stuff anymore because we have the full scripture and the full revelation, and he only did those miracles in the past to show off that he was God so that we’d believe him, so that we could go to heaven. But now that we believe him because of the Bible, we don’t need to do that anymore. I don’t think that’s what the Gospels teach.

I think the Gospels teach that Jesus brought the kingdom of God to earth, and his healings and his deliverances, yes, revealed that he was the son of God. Yes, they were done because of God’s compassion, which, by the way, that hasn’t ceased, but also to reveal that the kingdom invaded earth, and that kingdom is active now, and we are carriers of that kingdom.

And so, the third option, and here’s the option we live with, here’s the option I choose. I live with the discomfort of not batting 1,000 when Jesus batted 1,000.

I live with the unanswered question of why did person A get healed and person B die, and I would rather live with that mystery and that struggle and press in for God to do even more through me and through us than to invent a theology that’s non-biblical or don’t believe in a God who obviously is God. And so. None of us like to live with mystery.

I’ll never forget a Sunday in church where two women, one a 16-year-old girl and another like a 40-year-old woman, both in church, both had those horse-collar neck braces, which is rare, you don’t see those very often. In fact, this is the only time I ever saw them. They both had injured their necks the previous week and were put in these braces. And when I saw them, anger rose up in me. I thought, what’s the anger about? And I felt like the discernment on that was this is God’s anger at the devil hurting his daughters.

So, I called these ladies forward and I said, “I’m gonna pray for you in the church. We’re all gonna pray for you to get healed.” We began to pray and within 30 seconds, a minute, however long, the 16-year-old’s moving her head, crying, going, “I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t do this before. All the pain is gone, I don’t believe it. All the pain is gone.” And the 40-year-old is like, “Any better? Nope. Let’s keep praying.” Kept praying. “Any better? Nope.” Kept going after it three times. “Any better? Nope.”

I said, “OK, we’re gonna keep praying for you, Susan. After church and throughout the week.” And then I looked at the church and I said, “you have a choice. You have a choice to rejoice in the fact that right in front of your eyes, God just worked a miracle. Or you have the choice to be offended that God didn’t do it in a way as clean as you wanted him to. Choose this day who you will serve. But you know, really?”

Now, here’s what cessationist churches do.

Since they don’t want that discomfort, they just don’t pray for those two people. And then you got two sore necks instead of one. I’d rather go the other way. Jesus Christ, the same. He is faithful. He is true. You can count on his nature being the same as it’s revealed in Matthew. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and throughout the rest of the Bible, for that matter.

And you can rejoice that that love, that goodness, that salvation, that power, that wonder is yours forever because of His great love and His great act of mercy on the cross toward you and I. And we can rejoice at Christmas that the Kingdom of God came into the world and now we are co-laborers with Him in advancing that Kingdom on earth. The great I was and the great I will be is still the great I am. And I’m not going to invent a bad theology because I’m not good at doing something.

It’s interesting, when the disciples of Jesus didn’t heal them, He did not give cessationist theology. He did not give reformed theology. He did not tell His disciples, ‘Oh, it was the eternal will and decree of God. That this demon not be cast out of this boy.’ He looked at His disciples and He said this, ‘Oh, you of little faith, how long do I have to be with you? My goodness, we’ve cast out demons before, have you forgotten already?’ He kind of scolds them. Now notice, He doesn’t blame the person who doesn’t get healed.

And I say, never do that. Never look at somebody, pray for them, they don’t get healed and say, “Well, if you just had faith, you would get healed.” I think that’s kicking a person while they’re down. I think it’s mean. I think it’s hurtful.

And many people have been hurt by that. And because of that, kind of rejected God and rejected, or are rejected, you know, moved into the cessationist camp because, you know, some hotheaded charismatic said, “Well, you just didn’t get healed. If you had enough faith, God would heal you.”

Jesus never did that.

He looked at the hotheaded charismatic and said, “If you had enough faith, you’d have healed them.” And my deal is, I just want to get out of the blame game altogether. I don’t want to blame God. I don’t want to blame the person. I don’t really want to blame me, except in this sense. I want to grow more in this. But I’ll live with the mystery. It’s interesting that the people who have the best record for healing ministries all have stories of people who did not get healed.

Some of them even lived with lifelong infirmities that they didn’t get healed of. John Wimber died of, he only had cancer and then other causes, but he talked to, I remember seeing him, he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got sinus cancer.’ He said, ‘I’ve prayed for people with sinus cancer and seen them healed.’ And then he put his hand on his nose. I’m like, ‘What’s the deal? It’s worked on others and it’s not working on me. Mystery.’

Now, having said that, because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can live now a new kind of life.

The first thing he says is love one another as brothers and sisters. Anybody here an only child? So we all have brothers and sisters?

Okay, you know, when we say that, when we read that in the Bible, we think, “Oh, isn’t that sweet?” And then we think about growing up in our family with brothers and sisters, Sophia and Sean. You love each other, right? Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s hard to respond to that.

Yeah. Has there ever been times when you’ve been annoyed at one another? Yeah. I grew up with three sisters. To this day, I love them and they drive me nuts. Less so now because we don’t live under the same roof. Do you know what it was like to try to get bathroom time with three sisters? Yeah, it’s like, it’s not your bathroom. I mean, yeah, it was rough. Yeah, and then they complain about, you know, how you messed it up or something. Yeah, it was rough. It’s rough being a guy with sisters. Just is.

Oh my gosh, it’s tough. So, anyway, yeah, any of you watch your kids? It was always just a school, it was always just a pool of adoring love as they were growing up with each other. There were never any fights, there was never any sibling rivalry. How many, how many kids did you have growing up, Karen, in your family? Ten. Yeah, and it was just, it was always harmonious bliss, wasn’t it? I know, well, you know, back, back in the old days, we knew how to do it.

Yeah, back in the old days, we knew how to do it. Well, the boys would just go pee outside, so it’s good to be a guy. So, anyway, here’s what I’m saying. When the Bible says love one another as brothers and sisters, we ought to remember, it’s going to be, church is going to be messy. Church is going to be messy. Alright. People are messy. Yep, they just are. You know, you know what’s, you know what’s really messy? A nursery. You know what’s really neat? A well-groomed cemetery. Where there’s life, there’s mess.

Where there’s broken people, there is mess. And when the Bible says to love one another as brothers and sisters, here’s what it means.

Endure the mess. And love people despite their flaws. Be on their side despite the fact that they annoy you. Despite the fact that they don’t see the world just like you see it. Because you share Christ with them, and that is bigger than everything else.

And school is not the place, or church is not the place where all the good people go to hang out.

Church is the place where we learn. It’s the school of love, where we learn to love people because of this great love. Forgive one another, why? Just as God and Christ has forgiven you.

Oh, this is the place where somebody says, where somebody has no tact and they keep saying offensive things. They keep passive-aggressively criticizing my family. All right, am I gonna poke their eyes out? Right, or am I going to forgive them and realize that that is their brokenness leaking out?

And lo and behold, I may have blind spot brokenness that leaks out on other people. I used to tell, this is not true of the Poulsbo Firehouse Church, not true of the Bremerton Firehouse Church, but I’ve been in churches where I would see people coming down the hall and I would want to duck into a classroom because it was Connie the Firehouse Church because it was Connie the complainer, or Bill the, never mind.

Yeah, and it’d be like, oh my gosh, I’m not gonna listen, or Debbie the downer. “Pastor, my husband doesn’t love me, I don’t have enough money, and my back hurts.” It’s like, okay, I get it, your life is hard, all our life is hard, has God done anything good for you? It’s like, oh, I’m supposed to be compassionate, but some people just never stop whining. It’s like, oh, goodness. And now I feel bad, because if you’re going through a hard time, you go, oh, I better not tell Kevin.

No, you can tell me, none of you are annoying whiners. I wanna be there for you, you can come whine to me. You just can’t do it all the time. Every once in a while, you gotta say something cheerful. All right, so, and I’m thinking this, I’m thinking, and I see a guy walking down the hall and I duck in to Sunday school to talk to the teacher, because I don’t want, and I’m just saying, Lord, don’t let him wait outside the door.

Don’t let him be waiting outside the door, because I don’t know if I can outlast him in here. You know? I don’t know if I can talk to this teacher for two hours before he leaves. And I’m thinking this as the person’s walking down the hall, and the Lord speaks to me. He says, Kevin, do you suppose there’s anybody who ducks into a room when they see you coming? It’s like, what? Moi? Me? Do you suppose your little sarcastic remarks that you think are teasing and funny and cute actually hurt some people?

Do you suppose that there are some people who really need you to pay attention to them and give them time and care, and you brush them off? Could that be true? Yeah.

Guess what? We’re a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints. And here’s the beautiful thing about church. It’s the school of love. We learn to love those people.

And here’s the hard part about leaving a church. There are reasons to leave a church, because there’s a blatant difference in theology that you just can’t handle. You can’t live with.

They’re complementarian, you’re egalitarian, and you can’t deal with it. They’re cessationist, and you’re just a tongue-talking, prophesying person, and you can’t deal. OK.

Here’s a bad reason why people, and this is a main reason why people leave. They can’t resolve conflict. And so they run away from pain.

And here’s the thing about pain and grief. You can’t outrun them. They’re faster than you. You’ll take it with you, because it wasn’t the circumstance.

God wants us to reside in pain so that he can do his work in us.

So that he can do his work in us. The third reason is the church is toxic. The leadership is toxic. They’re controlling. They’re manipulative, etc. They’re over-authoritarian. They’re immoral, you know, the pastoral staff sleeping around, whatever.

And the fourth reason is because you really heard the voice of God and said there’s a new season in your life and it’s time to embrace that new season. And I tell people all the time, I only said ’till death do I part’ to my wife. And if God calls you somewhere else for some other season, you need something else.

I believe the body of Christ. We talked about this; there are specialties, there are things that certain parts of the body of Christ focus on, and you might need that for that season in your life. And so, okay. But when that happens, it’s painful.

And it’s always more painful on the left than the leaver. Just know that if you’re going to leave, people are going to get their feelings hurt. Okay? It’s always easier to be the dumper than the dumped. Even if the dumped comes and says, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

It’s like, yeah, well you still left me. So it’s going to be painful, but that’s a legitimate reason. And God will use that, and He’ll use the pain in those people’s lives to grow them up. And so, you don’t have to feel guilty about that, but you should feel cautious about it. Right? You shouldn’t just leave a church, mamby-pamby. But when you do leave a church, you’re going to other messy brothers and sisters. You’re not escaping the mess. You’re just going to another mess.

And it may be God’s season for you to be in that mess. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Show hospitality to strangers. Who knows? You might be entertaining angels. Hospitality is huge in the Bible. It doesn’t necessarily mean you always have to open up your home. Though, I think, I have experienced, personally in my life, the blessing of people opening their homes, specifically the Johnsons and the Millers, have opened their homes to me and different groups that I’ve been a part of, with just very life-giving and gracious hospitality.

I mean, there are young men who have been blessed eternally because you opened your home.

and Brian made brats and burgers which I still always want that’s just brats and burgers from an open grill that’s like lobster that’s like surf and turf for me it’s like so good and I and you guys you opened your home and we did church in your house for a number of times and you regularly open your home but also hospitality being hospitable in church when newcomers come in now I will say small churches don’t tend not to have that problem as much as big churches small churches tend not to be as clicky hopefully we’re not small churches are so desperate for people we usually make the opposite errors we’re like we’re on them like a pack of dog on a three-legged cat you know it’s like where do you go to church are you looking for a church home I know this church is small but we it’s just a great church you know there’s like people get overwhelmed it’s like all right everybody but you know and a big church is sometimes people can hide and so you think they’re not and but one of the saddest things is people go to a big church because nobody knows if they’re new or not they’ll never come up and ask him hey is this your first time what’s your name and so people will go for four or five months and nobody will ever say hi to him except the official greeter and then other people they’re like okay I’ll say hi to people they go to somebody and say hey is this your first time now I’ve been going here two years and then they feel awkward that’s a better mistake by the way nobody ever left church because they were going there two years and somebody had never greeted him before greet the same person seven times if you have to or whatever but be hospitable what does that mean be available with your goods your stuff your time to make people feel welcome in your environment just be generous none of your stuff you’re gonna be able to keep so open your home and I know for women this tends to be harder than men I know you know it’s like hey somebody’s coming over for dinner clean vacuum the insulation and make it look like nobody ever used the bathroom.

Everybody, all hands on deck. And my wife, I mean, she’d get psycho when somebody was coming over. And in the early part of our marriage, I handled that like I handled most conflict – with sarcasm. That was not helpful. Just letting you know, making little quips about, “Why are you a crazy woman?” did not lessen the stress at all. And yeah, that was a poor strategy.

Now I realize there are two helpful strategies at that time: help or get out of the way. If I have a good excuse, “Oh, honey, I got a meeting. I’m sorry.”

Love to help, but help or get out of the way. But anyway, it’s incredible, right? The minute the people show up, a deliverance has taken place, and this person has changed completely. We’re so glad you’re here. Come on into our home. Oh, it’s just a humble little place? Sure, you can use the bathroom. John, did you clean it? It’s like, all right, it’s like Satan departed and the angels of goodness have come in. It’s been my experience. In more than one household, it’s, yeah.

All right, nonetheless, I know hospitality puts a lot of stress on you. Find ways to show hospitality. Who knows? Angels, you could be helping angels. Help the poor. Prisoners, he specifically mentions prisoners. It might mean because God has a very specific heart for prison ministry. Certainly, Jesus talks about visiting prisoners. Prisons are bad now. They were much worse back then. And so prison is hard. Also, people were persecuted for righteousness sake. People were in prison because they were good, God-fearing Christians, and they were thrown in prison by the Romans. And Paul had been in prison.

He knew how hard prison was. And other Christians knew how hard prison was. So, prison is a big one, but I think prison, you don’t have, you’re not, don’t worry, you’re not going to not go to heaven if you don’t have a prison ministry. It’s one example of the outcast, the lonely, the elderly are often very lonely.

And some people have a marvelous call just to go talk to old people in nursing homes whose families never come by and visit them anymore. You have neighbors who are lonely.

They’ve moved the street people from downtown Bremerton. I think they moved them up to Winco, that area. But they’re still there. They still come. I mean, Salvation Army’s there, they still hang out, but they’re not there in the multitudes anymore.

But it’s like, and you know, I’ve talked about this before, it’s like on the one hand I don’t want to enable, and on the other hand I read very clearly in the scriptures, care for the poor, care for the outcast, and certainly the homeless among us are the poor and the outcast.

I remember one, one day I was down there by myself and this guy came by, and he wasn’t mean or pushy or bossy or nothing, he just came up and he said, hey, wearing a pair of Crocs, he said, do you have any socks? And we didn’t, we weren’t, you know, there was no, we didn’t have a store of socks there. He said, no, check Salvation Army. He walked away and within a minute the Holy Spirit says, what do you mean you don’t have socks? You got socks. You could have given him your socks.

Why didn’t you give him your socks? You got, I got so many, I, like most of us, right? I have more socks than I’ll ever wear. I, you know, really, seven pair, if you do the wash once a week, you’re good.

I have more than seven pair of socks, way more than seven pair of socks. And I don’t go through, you know, why couldn’t I give him that man’s socks? And I just, so I made a commitment, next time somebody asks me for socks, I got a pair, yeah, yeah, they’re getting my socks.

So another Sunday came along, a homeless guy came in, he was barefoot. And he was nuts. He was a certifiable homeless guy. But he came, he came for about two or three weeks. And the second week he came, he didn’t have any shoes or socks, yeah, he was bare, both weeks he was barefoot.

Second week, I just, earlier that week, I just went out at an impulse buy and bought a pair of shoes at Kohl’s that I did not need at all. Had two pair of shoes that already functioned for that, that level of shoe wearing.

I didn’t need three pairs. I just liked them, and I had a little money, so I bought these shoes. First Sunday, I had just broken these shoes out. I’m just wearing them for the first Sunday. I like them. They look nice, they’re comfortable, I like my new shoes.

And this guy comes in barefoot, and I’m preaching. I get done preaching, and he’s talking to Adam Ballstead, and the Spirit of God, it’s like, “Give him your shoes.” Like these shoes.

Tell you what, I’ll wear my older ones next week and if he comes back, I’ll give him those. Give him your shoes. I don’t want to give him my shoes. I looked at him, he’s just barefoot. I said, what size shoes do you wear? And I didn’t know if he’d even give a rational answer. He said, eleven. I’m ten and a half, God. We’ll see if they fit. Here, try these on. Thanks, man. That’s great. Alright. I should have given him the socks. I just gave him the shoes.

The socks I would have gladly departed with. I’m not that attached to my socks. Alright, dear ones, care for the lonely, the outcast, care for the poor. $34 a month, you can make sure a child in a third world country for the rest of their childhood has sufficient medical, education, and food resources. $34 a month, alright? Most of us spend more than that on our streaming services. I take my wife out to dinner once a week. Months. Almost now even at fast food, and it almost comes to that. Right?

And I love taking my wife out to dinner. And so I can do that. Most of us can do that. Find a way. Listen, you cannot solve homelessness in Kitsap County. You cannot solve world hunger. You cannot stop child sex trafficking. But you can help one person. Every one of us has in our resources the ability to do for the one what we can’t do for the many. That is huge. That’s huge. And God will call you. You don’t have to take every poor cause on. But God will call you to something.

My wife and I, we brought three children into the world in rich, affluent America and we knew our children would most likely always have a roof over their head. You know, in our early days we were like every young married couple. We struggled. Right? We never had enough money and all that. And our cars would break down and all that. But we also looked at it. We also would take a step back and go, when we say we don’t have enough money, here’s what we mean.

This is not the same thing people in Haiti mean when they say they don’t have enough money. They mean their children are on the verge of starvation. We mean it’s macaroni and cheese instead of, we mean it’s hamburger with the helper instead of without the helper. You know? We mean that we can’t get the big house, we have to live in the house that’s a little smaller. We can’t get the new car, we have to buy the used car. You know what I’m talking about.

And so, we just decided very early on, for every child we brought into the world, we would adopt through one of those agencies a child overseas. And so, for 30 some years, now 40 years, we’ve had one, then two, then three, then four children, and we’re just going to keep that up.

We haven’t gone that way with grandchildren. We might someday, but we’re going to wait for our children to stop producing them, and say, okay, we’ll do that many, because who knows how many are going to come.

I don’t say that to brag.

I say that as an example, because that’s not really a bragging thing. It’s not that much money. I say that as an example of, it’s not that hard to care for the poor in some tangible way. All right. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV)

Honor in marriage with fidelity. One man, one woman, heterosexual, monogamous till death do you part. That’s it. Anything outside of that is not God’s plan. Premarital sex, out. Same sex, out. Extramarital sex, out. All right. Romance novels, soap operas, out. Pornography, out.

I was born on the cusp of the sexual revolution. I was born in 1958. I forget when Playboy magazine first came out. It was right around then. Playboy was the first instrument that tried to mainstream pornography. By today’s standards, of course, Playboy was mild, but it showed women without clothes on. It tried to mainstream that. It did. It just accelerated from there to now, which on the internet is so far past what Playboy ever put out there. The destruction of the sexual revolution has been huge.

The number of men who have been addicted to just visual sex. Listen. Back in the old days, if a man wanted to see a woman naked, he had to be manly. He had to earn that. All right? He had to be like, “Hey, I’m a good provider,” or “Hey, I got muscles,” or “Hey, I’m good. Hey, I’m good around the house,” or “Hey, I’m kind, I’m sensitive.” I mean, you know, women just wouldn’t, you know, “Hey, I’m an unemployed loser who has no personal hygiene. Ooh, I can hardly wait to be with you, man.”

You know, you had to impress a girl. All right, is that true, ladies? I mean, you were looking for something, right?

You know what? Those imaginary, those real women who are in imaginary scenes on the screen, they demand nothing. And it’s a lie, and it demasculinizes men. It makes you less of a man. You don’t have to grow up.

And let me tell you, women, the same is true of what I would call female porn, which is the whole fascination with romance and romance novels, and don’t worry, I’m not talking about Jane Austen.

She’s a gateway, but she’s not the problem. She’s not the problem. I’m talking about my wild, flaming heart, you know? And here’s the thing.

Why men are visual and kind of respond to just blunt sexuality, women are complex, and they also are critical. If you don’t believe it, ask men, they’ll tell you. You’re hard to please, all right? Women are hard to please.

And so, what do romance novels and soap operas and drama make you? More critical. Why? Because your guy is not strong and independent, yet vulnerable and available.

He’s not mysterious, yet transparent and knowable. He’s not physically strong and vital, yet tender and compassionate. He’s not mysterious, wild, wonderful, and adventurous, yet reliable and dependable.

Your guy is the guy sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips, scratching his belly right now. And he does not compare to the cover and the story of that magnificent knight in shining armor who takes all your problems away in one fell swoop. He’s not that guy.

He’s not rich and successful, yet has all the time in the world for you.

That guy doesn’t exist. Or if he does, his name is Jesus. Listen, let Jesus be your savior and let the poor guy you’re with be himself. And have some mercy on him and lower your dang expectations. He’s not a bad guy. I’ve met bad guys. You all got good ones, all right? Just saying.

Well, and that’s what men do too, right? Men have to lower their expectations. The world is not full of pornographic women, 21-year-old, buxom, beautiful women just dying to have sex with you. That is not reality. I looked for it in college.

It wasn’t there. That’s not it. These are lies. These are cultural lies that actually harm what? The fidelity and the honor of the marriage bed. Love the person you’re with. Love them for a long time and create a sacred history with them.

And, you know, spend 40-some years together and know, my wife, you know, she can finish my sentences, right? And I know, I know. I walk in the room with dread when I have to say these words, “Honey, so-and-so is coming over.” And I see the transformation.

Sometimes, they’re just coming over to drop something off. She’s like, leave the bathrooms! They might have to use it! I’m like, alright, alright, honor marriage with fidelity. Listen, most marriage problems are solvable if you have two people who are committed to keep their promises. And you did promise, by the way, right? I don’t know of any marriage vows that say, you know, as long as you’re hot and sexy, I’ll stay with you. As long as you bring home a good paycheck, I’m your girl. It’s always what? For better or for worse, in sickness?

And people gaze into each other’s eyes, of course, I love you so much. And then for worse comes.

Had a young man, church, old man now, he was just a little younger than me, 30 years ago. And his young bride, very pretty young girl, he was a very handsome, successful young man, just, you know, they could have been on the cover of a magazine.

Her father was dying of cancer. She loved her father. Her father died of cancer.

And her husband, according to her, when her father was dying of cancer, was not emotionally there for her. I’m going to ask you men in this room, do any of you know what the words “emotionally there for her” even mean? Like, what? I mean, I know what physically there is. I was there. Emotionally there, I don’t know. You know?

And all you women are thinking, well, you should know, the stupid idiot. Here’s what I think it means. You’re compassionate, you’re tender, you realize she’s going through pain, you make exceptions, you listen to her.

Am I on track, women? Is that what some of that stuff means? Okay, I don’t know. Alright. So anyway, he wasn’t emotionally there for her. So, she has an ex-boyfriend, lives in New York, and they start exchanging phone calls and mail. And it turns flirty, right? Ex-boyfriend and girlfriend? It turns sexually flirty. Remember when we made out at the drive-in? Remember this? Remember that? Well, she thinks it’s just fun to flirt. This guy in New York has this cute girl, sexually flirting with him.

Next thing you know, he got on a plane and shows up at her front door. Hey, what’s up? He had a picnic basket. Took her to the park. They had a picnic. Walked her to the front door. Kissed her. She kissed him back. And then, thank the Lord, she put the brakes on. Wait, wait, wait. I’m married. I can’t do this. And, she confessed it to her husband. He, you know, flipped the lid. I can’t believe you did this. I don’t know if I want to be married to you anymore. How could you do this?

Well, you weren’t emotionally there for me. Yeah, well, whatever. You kissed another man. So, he comes into my office and he says, ‘I don’t know if I can stay with her.’ I said, ‘you’re a businessman in town, right?’ He goes, ‘Yep. You’re an honest businessman.’ He goes, ‘I sure am.’ I said, ‘If we shook hands on a deal, would I need a signed piece of paper to know that you were going to keep that deal?’ He says, ‘No, Kevin. You know me.’

If I shook hands and said, “I’m going to do this for this amount of money and this amount of time,” I would do it. I said, “you’re a liar.” He gets all, “What do you mean? Nope. You know I’m an honest businessman.”

“Oh, I’m sure you’re an honest businessman, but you said, ‘for better or worse.’ And you promised. You didn’t mean this worse. Go back and make it right, man. Go back and fix your marriage. You promised.”

All right, enough on that. Be content. Stay free from the love of money.

Be content with what you have. Here is the great key of contentness. Don’t focus on what you don’t have. Be thankful for what you do have. And you will be content. Are we having an earthquake, or is that just you, Sean? It’s probably just me. OK. All right, so I know you felt it. I was feeling a little shaky in there, but I didn’t know if anybody else was. But then I looked at Sean’s feet, and I said, OK. All right, so you got enough. Chances are. I think every one of us in this room.

None of us are on the verge of starvation. Do you know gluttony is a modern problem in human history, since the invention of sugar and the prosperity of the nations? For almost all the history of humanity. There was gluttony amongst the rich. I mean, the Bible warns of gluttony. But for most of all of, I would say this, obesity is a modern problem. I would say for most all of history, people have lived on the verge of starvation.

And so, part of the deal is, we have it really good in terms and we feel like, “Oh my gosh, do I have enough for retirement? Do I have enough for this? Do I have enough for that?” Let me tell you. Yes.

Now, be wise. Be wise. Be frugal. Don’t spend your money on, you know, if you like to go out to eat with your wife, do it. But don’t do it all the time. It’s very expensive. You know, your wife would also appreciate it if it’s just cooked for her, right? Yeah. Don’t buy.

It’s just my advice. Buy a good used car. Don’t buy new cars. Spend your money on what will appreciate, not depreciate. Buy properties. Don’t buy cars. At least buy cars that run, not that are flashy. Don’t get a red Camaro unless it’s used. So, that’s the deal. Be content. There’s great happiness in contentment. And we have, we don’t realize it because we live in comparison with one another. But we really have been blessed. We live in a blessed time and in a blessed land. Goodness. My wife’s out of town, which you know what that means?

I can actually turn the house up to a temperature that’s comfortable. It’s good if they’re clean when she gets home. It’s good if the dishes are all in the dishwasher. I just know that when she gets home, there’s certain things that are good. They’ve happened. So anyway, but yes. Why she’s gone? I run amok. Shoes in the middle of the living room floor. Doors unlocked. Sometimes I walk around the house in my underwear. It’s wild times. It’s just crazy. It’s wild bachelor living. Leave dishes on the sink until five minutes before she gets home.

I mean, I am crazy. I am a crazy bachelor dude. Yeah, I tell you what. So, just don’t tell her. Anyway, what was I trying to say? Be content.

Oh yeah, I turned the thermostat up. Why? She was gone. Because you know why? Oh, here’s my point. Here’s my point. I don’t want to hurt my good Bible. Here’s my point. It’s like, when I want the room to be warmer, I don’t have to go chop wood. I walk over to a little box on my wall that I don’t even know how it works.

But I punch in a desired number, and like magic, the room very quickly turns to that temperature. I don’t know how any of it works. Something about gas coming into a thing they call a furnace, going through lines that somehow hook up electronically to this little device that I punch numbers on. It’s crazy.

No chopping wood. No starting kindling. I’m not camping every day. I am fiscally blessed. So are you. Thank the Lord.

Chopping wood, that one’s nice. Yeah, it does.

And I would love to see you come to my house and get warm that way, because I do have an outdoor stove, and I’m sick and tired of buying wood at the grocery store. That’s expensive. I got some downed trees, and so if you want to come over with some of your Boy Scout buddies, and if Mark and those boys need a job to do, I got some dead trees in my backyard. They could stock me up for a season. No, I got none of that stuff, because then somebody would expect me to use it.

All right. Be thankful. Count your blessings.

All right, finally, imitate godly leaders who imitate Christ. This one’s always a hard one for me to talk about, because it’s like, it seems kind of arrogant. It’s like, hey, follow my example, people. But here’s the deal. Imitate Kev and others, you know, authors you like, people in the broader Christian sphere. Imitate them as they imitate Christ, and not as they don’t imitate Christ.

The author of Hebrews says, “‘Consider the outcome of their lives.'”

In other words, I’ve got a friend, or I don’t know if he’s a friend anymore, but an acquaintance anyway, and he has had several, a couple of wrecked marriages. He has kids, a couple of kids all over the country who he has no relationship with, who do not like him, do not want to spend any time with him.

And he has a podcast that he regularly produces on female submission and male headship that is over-the-top, complementarian, just crazy over-the-top, and I just look at that and go, why would anybody listen to you, man?

In other words, what’s the fruit of your life? And there isn’t any. His life is a mess, and the trail he’s left behind him is a mess. And it’s sad. So no, I would not recommend anybody imitate him. But there are people out there, and here’s one of the things I’ve discovered about my mentors and my heroes. They are all flawed. And it’s been like a disappointment, you know. I’ll follow somebody for a while and I’ll realize, oh, they kind of got this thing going. But you know what?

They were helpful in my life because there were things where they were imitating Christ that I got from them. And so, don’t worship leaders. Don’t give them your undiscerning obedience. That’s one error.

The other error is we are so critical and we so like to tear people down and put them on pedestals and then take them off. God will bring people into your life who will be a benefit to you spiritually. And they’ve been down the road a bit further than you have. They know some things that you might not know.

Be humble enough to say, hey, I kind of want to be like you when I grow up. There are things in you that I want. And so, teach me those things. Let me be a part of those things. And just recognize that those people are flawed. And later, the author of Hebrews is gonna talk again about submitting to spiritual authorities. And again, I don’t think that means, I don’t think the word submission means do everything they tell you to do. I think the word submission means give honor and respect where it is due.

I used to, you know, we live in such a low church culture and I’m very comfortable with it. And you know, kids in the church would always call me Kevin. And, you know, hey Kevin, hey Kevin, hey Kevin. And there are other people who’s like, no. Then there were parents who were like, no, it’s pastor or pastor Kevin. And I’d be like, I’d like, oh, they’re fine, let them call me what, but I’d stop myself and say, no. Their parents are teaching them something. They’re teaching them respect and honor. And that’s not a bad thing.

I think we can fall off, I think we can fall off the side of, you know, never speak bad, never speak ill against the apple of God’s eye. It’s like, no, I think we ought to hold people to account. On the other hand, we can become so, either A, critical or so casual that we cut off our nose to spite our face. We lose the benefit we’d have by being in relationship with that person because they’re obviously less than perfect.

But man, there are people in my life, and this has come both through authors, it’s come a lot through authors. I’ll read something about, I’ll read a book that they like. I go find another book. It’s like, I want something of what that guy or that gal has. I want some of that. And there are pastors and preachers that I’ve listened to and thought, man, they’re hit, I’ll listen to them some more. I’m gonna go back to that well.

And I’ve always found, as I followed those kind of people, that later I find out, oh, they got this, they got that. They were a workaholic, or their kids were a mess, or whatever, they didn’t have a perfect life. Does that discredit what I gained from them? Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

And so, find people in your life who have something and are walking in a way that you like. And be humble enough to learn something from them. Does that make sense?

It’s good to have people you kind of look up to, coaches and mentors, pastors and teachers. It’s not a bad thing, all right?

So as I imitate Christ, say, “Hey, Kev does this, and that’s kind of Christ-like. I’m going to do that, too.” As I don’t imitate Christ, it’s like, “Yeah, that part of Kev I’m not going to follow, all right?”

So if you’re not sure which those parts are, make an appointment, talk to Jill. So say, “Here’s what Kev does well. Here’s where God still has a project.”

I used to think it was my project. Now it’s God’s project. That’s another thing, women. If your husband’s got things that need to be fixed, don’t make him your project. Make him God’s project. God will be better at fixing them than you will, all right? This also goes true for your wives. Is there something your wife needs to be fixed with?

That’s why I always, when the Bible says, “wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22, NKJV)

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.”

I never liked guys who would come to me and say, “I need to teach my wife to submit to me as to the Lord.” It’s like, yeah, that’s not going to work out well for you.

And then I got women who say, “Well, my husband just doesn’t love me, and how do I make him love me?” I don’t know how to change your husband.

Here’s what I do know. I do know that you know how to change you. So, guess what?

Why don’t you focus on that part of the Bible that was written to you and let the other person focus on that part of the Bible that was written to them. You know guys, when it says wives, that wasn’t written to you. When it says husbands, that wasn’t written to you. You can read it and say, oh, this is what a perfect world would look like, but I don’t think you’re going to make that happen. I’ve had people come to me and try to sign me up to help change their spouse.

In my more codependent days, I used to get suckered into that. Now it’s like, “I ain’t going to do that. Pastor, my husband really respects you. You can make him stop doing this.” No, I can’t. You have more power over your husband than I do. You’ve been telling him for 20 years and it hasn’t worked. If I tell him, he’s just going to leave the church.

Tell you what, why don’t we both just pray that God will sicken. Alright, I’m done. Thank the Lord. Alright, Sean. Let’s do communion and then Sean’s questions, and then prayer.

Or maybe then prayer, then Sean’s questions. Because people do want to get home. Alright.

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

And yesterday, he said to his disciples, “I have desired to have this meal with you.” And the ancient Passover, I’m forever now going to give its fuller meaning to. It was an image of a sacrificed lamb with blood that caused death to pass over the people and led them into freedom.

He said, That lamb, and it’s my blood, so take and eat, and be a people of the new covenant. Be nourished by Christ and be thankful. So, Holy Spirit, come fill us with the life of Christ that your kingdom might come and your will might be done on earth as in heaven through the agency of spirit-filled believers in Jesus, like us. Not the smartest, not the cleverest, not the most moral, but people who are available to you. Change the world through us and change us tonight by your presence in our prayers, the word, and this meal. We ask it in Jesus’ name. So take and eat, and be thankful. Be thankful. God loved you so much, wretched sinner that you were. He loved you so much that he forever wanted to be, and we get to forever be together. And who knows, maybe some of those warts will be worn off in eternity.