March 17, 2024, Message by P. Kevin Clancey

I usually start with a psalm, and today I’m going to start with the Breastplate Prayer of St. Patrick. This is a rather famous. Are we good? This is a rather famous prayer, and so whether or not St. Patrick actually wrote this prayer is historically speculative. It could be anonymous, but it’s been ascribed to St. Patrick. It starts this way: “I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness of the creator of creation, I arise today.”

Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism, through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial, through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension, through the strength of his descent for the judgment of doom, I arise today through the strength of the love of cherubim. In the obedience of angels in the service of archangels, in the hope of resurrection to meet with reward, in the prayers of the patriarchs, in the predictions of prophets, in the preaching of apostles, in the faith of confessors, in the innocence of holy virgins, in the deeds of righteous men, I arise today through the strength of heaven.

The light of sun, the radiance of the moon, the splendor of fire, the speed of lightning, the swiftness of wind, the depth of the sea, the stability of the earth, the firmness of rock, I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me. God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me from the snares of devils, from the temptation of vices, from everyone who shall wish me ill afar and near.

I summon today all the powers between me and those evils, against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of pagandom, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry, against spells of witches and smiths and wizards, against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul. Christ to shield me today against poison, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me, I arise today through the strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness of the creator of creation.

So, St. Patrick, it’s funny how our culture should, you know, Christmas becomes Santa Claus and elves and reindeer, and that’s okay. I don’t have a problem with that. Easter is about bunnies and chocolate. We got plenty of bunnies in my backyard, I don’t care about them, but I’ve never been opposed to chocolate. Anything that makes my wife that happy, I’m in favor of.

So, I don’t get offended by that, and I don’t lose the meaning of those holidays with the cultural settings. The meaning of St. Patrick has been lost in the cultural setting.

It’s not a celebration of being Irish, despite what my dad always said. There’s only two kinds of people in the world: the Irish and them that want to be. That’s, I don’t even assume that’s true. I did my own DNA and I found out neither my dad or I were nearly as Irish as we thought we were anyway. It’s not a celebration of green, though it is my favorite color. It is actually, St. Patrick was actually an extraordinary man with an extraordinary story.

And the story started when he was an Irish, not an Irish boy, he was not Irish, he was British. He lived in a coastal town and, as was often the case in those coastal towns, pirates would come. Irish pirates came and raided the town. They kidnapped him, took him back to Ireland, and made him a slave. As a slave, his job was to be a shepherd.

And so, St. Patrick, as a shepherd, watched the sheep, and during those long, lonely nights and long, lonely hours as a shepherd – and isn’t it very biblical, right, the shepherd – he drew close to God. He had been raised in a Christian home but was nominal about it, wasn’t serious about it, but as a slave and a shepherd, he drew very close to God and became very devout and a young man of prayer. One night, he had a dream, and in that dream, God showed him the exact path of his escape.

Showed him the road to take, showed him the people he’d meet, actually showed him an image of the ship that he would take back to England. And he followed that dream, and it happened exactly as he had dreamt, and he made his escape from slavery and went back to England. He devoted his life to Christ and became a priest, and later became a bishop.

At the ripe old age of retirement, 40, people didn’t live as long back then, he’s getting ready to retire, he had another dream.

And in this dream, there was an Irish pirate, and the Irish pirate spoke to him in the dream and basically said something like this: “Come back to us, holy boy, and teach us the way.” And so, instead of retiring, the pastor gathered around him a group of nuns, priests, brothers, and sisters, and they went back and they evangelized Ireland. He suffered great heartbreak.

That original group grew as they made Irish converts, and he took all these young people along with him. He was discipling them, and they were all kind of living communally together. One day, he was out; when he came back, their little commune had been attacked by, guess what, Irish pirates. They had killed some and kidnapped the rest. St. Patrick went out and he said to God, “This is too hard. I quit.” And God, in all his mercy, said, “Nope, keep going. Don’t quit. But it’s hard.” “Yeah, don’t quit.”

So, he continued to evangelize. He got another band around him, and they continued to evangelize. It is said of St. Patrick, and this is probably not a hundred percent true, but at least within the generation after St. Patrick, it’s pretty true. He found an island, he found a nation that was entirely non-Christian, druidic paganism, and left it entirely Christian.

The Irish were very significant in the fifth, sixth, seventh century. The Irish monks were very significant when the Roman Empire fell, and the barbarians burned all of the literature of Western civilization. That had actually been preserved by Irish monks who not only copied the Bible but copied much of the literature of Europe and Western civilization, so that was all preserved for us.

Then, when the barbarians took over Rome and everybody thought that what the Christendom that had arisen in Europe was good, it was actually the Irish monks who sailed back into the mainland of Europe and re-evangelized the continent. If you want to read the full story, read Thomas Cahill’s book, a historian, called “How the Irish Saved Civilization.” There you go.

So that’s the story of St. Patrick. That’s why we celebrate. He is a great Christian figure in history who was a compassionate and masterful evangelist. And actually, they practiced a form of evangelism that we now know to be the best form of evangelism.

The Roman evangelism of the time was apologetics, was intellectual evangelism. Here’s why you should be a Christian. Patrick and his group practiced incarnational evangelism, relational evangelism. They would actually go into the town, live in the town, make friends, and through those relationships lead the town to Christ.

And then, they would raise up leaders in those towns, stay there, and go to the church, and they go to the next town. Some of those leaders would go with them on mission. And through that method, they evangelized the island of Ireland in the 400s.

So that’s the story. And just to let you know, that’s not even the sermon. There’s more to come.

All right, so let’s worship Jesus tonight.

Thank you, God of revival. It’s interesting. That wasn’t on the song list that I put together for tonight, but we couldn’t get that song list to work. It’s very interesting.

This morning, as I was praying, maybe it was last night, but I was praying for the worship services today in Bremerton and Paulsbo. And I said, “Lord, how do you want me to pray?”

There have been three things that I’ve consistently prayed through the years. And one is that Jesus would be here when we gather. The other has been from Psalm 90 and Psalm 141: “Set a guard over my mouth.”

Keep watch over the door of my lips. That’s Psalm 141. Then, Psalm 90: Establish the work of my hands. I just want to speak well of the scriptures, and accurately, and I want whatever I have to say to be established and be of benefit, especially to you.

And the third is, “Lord, bring the people you want.” And he does. I said, “Lord, don’t you want more people?” He says, “No, this is fine.”

And then, the other thing I’ve consistently prayed, because I believed when I moved up here that I moved up here for the purpose of revival. I believed that God was going to bring another awakening upon America and that he wanted to bring an awakening in the Pacific Northwest, and that he wanted me to be there, to be a part of that. And 16 years, you know, I feel like Abraham and Sarah, it’s a long time to wait for your Isaac.

And it’s like, in fact, the verse that God used to call me up here, the verse I kept coming back to was Genesis 12:1-3, go to a land, go to a land that you don’t know. And so I did.

And I told God, I don’t got 25 years. I don’t want it to be 25 years. Who knows? Maybe it will be. I don’t know. It’s down to nine now. You know, I’d only be 74. And Abraham was old.

But anyway, the proverb says, hope deferred makes the heart sick.

And there is, in some sense, that that has happened with me. It’s like, ah, and, you know, I’m kind of just like, “Well, God, you know, I got two little churches. I’m just going to love those people.” And so I did. And I told God, “I don’t got 25 years. I don’t want it to be 25 years. Who knows? Maybe it will be. I don’t know. It’s down to nine now.”

And there is, in some sense, that that has happened with me. It’s like, ah, and, you know, I’m kind of just like, ‘Well, God, you know, I got two little churches. I’m just going to love those people and preach till I’m done.’ And you know, and anyway, so last night or this morning, I don’t remember which one, I’m just praying, ‘Lord, how do you want me to pray for this weekend?’ And he said, ‘Pray for revival.’ It’s like, again, I’ve done that. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. I’ve done that.

He says, “Pray for revival.” And then he just reminded me, “you know what? My time is not your time, son. My time is not your time. Pray for revival. Pray. Pray that God would bring.”

And what I mean by revival is some of what that song said. “Come awake, your people, awaken your city.”

Revival is reviving, and so that the church would be passionate about, especially, Isaiah and I were talking about this recently. Especially about, you know, sharing the gospel with the lost, and that the lost, in times of revival, there is kind of an increased hunger and receptivity. And I was really, you know, weird as I am, I was really excited when COVID came. Because I thought, “This will get them, right? This will make people…” I remember 9-11, man. I remember 9-11 didn’t spark a revival, but it sparked about a one-month revival.

You know, the Sunday after 9-11, church was packed. It was packed. It’s not COVID, but church wasn’t packed during COVID. It was actually opposite. You can’t go to church, and you know, all that kind of stuff. But anyway, the Lord just put that on my heart, and then we started singing that tonight, and you know, God changed our song list tonight. I really like the list I put together, too. God changed it, so it’s a good list.

So, God changed the song list tonight, and that song just reminded me. It’s like, ‘All right, you know, what do I got to lose by praying for it, right?’ So, I’ll keep praying for it. You can hold me accountable to that. Cannot lose if you cannot quit. Don’t use my own quotes against me, man. No, that’s good. Thank you. You can use my own quotes to encourage me. That’s good. So, I already told this joke, Sophia, but I was told I had to tell it to you.

Did you hear about the little Irish boy who just was super hyper? And you know, in school, he’s one of those kids that’s always bouncing off walls, and the teacher can’t contain him. Do you know what his name was? Rick O’Shea. That was 100% for you. All right? Yeah, I thought you’d like that.

All right, good. So here’s my Irish drinking joke for tonight. All right, I got lots of them, but this one’s good. This one’s OK. It’s about this guy.

My great-great-uncle, when he immigrated here, he got a job in Boston. He’d go to work, and then every day after work, he’d step into a local pub before he got home. He’d order himself three pints of Guinness, one, two, three, three beers. He’d drink the three beers and then go home. Finally, the bartender said, “you know, you always have me pour three beers at once, and you drink them from three different glasses.”

It’d be fresher if you just drank one, and I refilled it, drank another, and drank another, and you have three.” And he says, “Why do you have me just pour out three beers for you?” He goes, “Oh, I’ve got to say this in a brogue.” He says, “Oh, well, you know, when I left the home country, I left me brother and me father there. And we used to, after work, we all used to sit down and have a drink together.

And I said, ‘you know, I’m going to keep that tradition alive when I’m not with you anymore.’ And so, I order three drinks, one for me, one for my brother, and one for my father. And the bartender goes, ‘Well, that’s a wonderful tradition. That’s a sweet tradition.’ So, he kept doing it. But then, a while later, he’d come in and he’d only order two drinks. And the bartender was confused. And the bartender thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. His dad died. His father died.’

And so the bartender just looks at him and goes, I’m so sorry about your father. He goes, what are you saying, man? He says, well, you’re only ordering two drinks. Was it your dad or maybe your brother passed away? He goes, oh, no, they’re fine. They’ll be fine. He goes, well, why aren’t you ordering three drinks? And where are you ordering two? He goes, well, my wife got me going down to the church. And they told me I couldn’t drink anymore. But it doesn’t affect me, brother, and my dad, none.

So, that’s my Irish drinking joke for you. All right. I want to read to you. There are scriptures, and there are scriptures. Now, that’s a heresy, right? People don’t like to say that there are scriptures that are more important than other scriptures, and all scriptures are inspired by God. But at least, there are scriptures that are certainly more, what?

Central, impactful, I mean, you know, if I was going to tell somebody to memorize ten scriptures, I wouldn’t take them to the first ten, or the first four chapters of 1 Chronicles and have them memorize the genealogies. I wouldn’t. There may be some, I mean, God inspired it, I’m sure there’s fruitfulness in it. It hasn’t dramatically, as best as I know, the genealogies have not shaped and changed my life. There are some that have, right, and I’ve shared some of those with you.

Who have I in heaven but you, and besides you, I desire nothing on earth. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God, you are the strength of my life and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26.

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

Lamentations 3, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They’re new every morning, great is thy faithfulness, O God.

22 Because of the Lord ’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV)

Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. In the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and died for me.

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

Philippians 1:21, for me to live is Christ, to die is gain.

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21, NIV)

Psalm 16:11, you have shown me the path of life; at your right hand is the fullness of joy, or in your presence is the fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11, NIV)

And certainly, you’ve heard me say this one, I would have lost hope except for this.

Psalm 27:13, “That I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13, NIV)

Proverbs 11:22, a deeply impactful and meaningful verse, “Has a gold ring and a pig snout, so is a beautiful woman without discretion.”

22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. (Proverbs 11:22, NIV)

It’s a life changer, I’m telling you.

But of all the scriptures that are big, this one is big, and it’s big because Jesus uses it as kind of, you know, one of the greatest commandments. And it’s in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, I’m actually going to read 4 through 9, and here’s what it says.

Listen, Israel, listen, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and you must commit yourself wholeheartedly to these commands that I’m giving you today.

Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you’re at home, and when you’re on the road, and when you’re going to bed, and when you’re getting up. Tie them on your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NLT)

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

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord , my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14, NIV)

And so, listen, says in the New Living Translation, or hear, hear, O Israel. And so, Moses is given all these commandments, and all of a sudden, he says, “Hey, pay attention.” Jesus used this tactic, right? He would say, “Verily, verily,” in the King James, or “Truly, truly.

In the Bible, there’s a way to emphasize things and say, “Stand up, pay attention, this is really important.” One of those ways is repetition, right? God is not holy, he’s holy, holy, holy. Pay attention. But another way to get people to pay attention, besides repetition, is to emphasize at the beginning just that, “Pay attention, listen.”

And the word, this is called the Shema in Hebrew. This is one of the few sermons I’m going to give you where I’m going to bounce around some Hebrew words. It’s called the Shema, and the Shema simply means, “Hear.”

Here it says, “Listen, we’re more familiar with the, ‘Hear, O Israel. The Lord your God is one.’”

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4, NIV)

He’s one. And so, this is central to the faith of the Israelites, and so, this is a statement against polytheism.

Okay, so there’s pantheism, there’s, there’s only, one of these four has to be true, and the other three have to be false. This is. This is one of those things where different views are mutually exclusive.

Theism, meaning the study of God or God, there is a, a theism. That means no God, okay?

That has been throughout anthropology, throughout the study of human beings, that has been far and away the minority position. There has never really been a culture that has grown up primarily atheistic, all right? It is kind of the invention of the modern west. You could say Buddhism is atheistic, and it is in a sense. But, it’s kind of pantheistic depending. But atheism, there is no God.

If you were to try to throw a rock and hit an atheist, which I don’t recommend you do, but if you try to do it, you could go into any major university and just launch a rock at the philosophy department and you’d probably get one. But anywhere else in the world, you’d have to aim, all right? They’re hard to find.

So, atheism, no God. Pantheism, all is God, all right? The best example I have of pantheism that would resonate with us is Star Wars. May the what? Force.

The force is not personal. The force is just the force. It’s just this power that’s in the universe. You can use the good side, the dark side, the light side, but it’s just the force.

All right, another, another use of pantheism, people use this all the time, but it just cracks me up. It’s such a bad use of language. “The universe is telling me.” Yeah, universe or nature is telling me. Well, if the universe or nature is personal, then it’s God.

And if it’s not, then you’re listening to voices in your head which makes you crazy. But, it’s. It’s a way of not coming to God, because if you come to God, if God starts telling me things, then there ends up being what? Obligation. But if it’s the universe, I can do what I want with it. So pantheism is great. All the benefits of a spiritual power with none of the accountability and responsibility. Problem is, throughout history again, most people haven’t been pantheists. You say, well, one of the world’s largest religions, Hinduism, is pantheistic.

It is, in its official understanding. And it’s official, in what Hindus write, it is pantheism. However, the vast majority of Hindus, who would say they are Hindus, do not practice pantheism. They practice the most popular of anthropological, what human beings naturally become without any kind of revelation or any kind of help, what human beings naturally become are polytheists. Poly, many gods. All right?

So if you go to India, where Hinduism is practiced, you go to a Hindu temple, and what will you see? Not a picture of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, modern day heroes.

You will see many, many idols to which you will make sacrifices. That’s not pantheism. That’s polytheism. If you go to a Buddhist temple that’s supposed to be atheistic, what will you see? you’ll see many idols, which people present fruit offerings and other offerings to these idols.

Human beings, apart from any revelation from heaven, float toward polytheism. You and I have grown up in a culture that has been deeply and significantly influenced by Christianity, and so polytheism is not the water we swam in growing up.

We swam in the water of Christian theism. Whether we believe it or not, that’s the pool we’re in. And so, this idea that God has to make this powerful statement against polytheism is not familiar to our worldview, but it’s significantly important to the early Hebrews that Moses is talking to.

“Hear, O Israel, you’re about to enter a land filled with idols, idolatry, polytheists.”

And as we studied in the unseen realm, those things, and in some places in the Bible, God says, “Oh, they’re just a useless block of wood.”

But in other places in the Bible, it seems like no, there are spiritual powers that the block of wood is not, but that are behind those blocks of wood. And those spiritual powers are principalities and powers and spiritual forces of wickedness, as Paul later describes them in Ephesians 6, that have rebelled against God and they are vying for human hearts. They’re wicked and they’re evil, and they bring people into wicked and evil religious practices.

God’s primary message to Israel in the Old Testament, he gives them 10 commandments, but he emphasizes one.

Hey, stop worshiping other gods. Stop sacrificing your children to Molech. I never told you to do that. Hear, O Israel, I’m telling you something that all the world around you doesn’t believe. All the world around you, in other words, the water you swim in, they don’t swim in theistic waters. They don’t swim in a theistic pool. They swim in a polytheistic pool and God is saying that’s not reality.

Now, what I think is reality is those beings are gods, not in the polytheistic sense, but at small g, they’re powers. They’re not just blocks of wood.

They are demonic powers. They were a part of God’s divine counsel. But that’s not the same as saying they’re gods, on the same level that God is God, because they are created and he is their creator and he is the one who holds all the power. He is, and that’s not their worldview. And so he’s changing their worldview, and that’s why he says, ‘Pay attention to this. I’m telling you something radically different than the world around you believes, and you must hold on to this. This is so important for you to hold on to.’ Why?

Because I believe what God is doing with Israel is, he’s creating an island of monotheism. One God, that’s the fourth view, right? We had atheism, pantheism, polytheism, monotheism or simply theism. One God. The world religions today who hold that view are Islam, Judaism, Christianity. One God, and he’s creating this island amongst the Jews of monotheism that there’s one God as a landing strip for Jesus, the Savior. So, when Jesus comes and says, “Hey, I’m that one God,” if Israel’s polytheistic and Jesus shows up, right? What do they say? “Oh, another God, great.”

That’s what happened when the Spaniards tried to evangelize the polytheists in Latin America. They said, “Jesus is God.” Great, we can always use another one. “Oh, you got all these saints? We’ll make them gods too. Oh, and we needed a good mother God. We’ll make Mary a good mother God.” And they syncretized monotheism into their polytheism. Why? The natural human tendency is to worship demons in a polytheistic fashion. Make sense?

“Hear, oh Israel, there’s one of me.”

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4, NIV)

Now, Jews have come along to Christians and said, “Gotcha. The Shema, no Trinity. You got three gods.”

The Bible says there’s one. How can that be? I’ll tell you how that could be. The word here for one is akkad. The other word for one is yachim. I told you I was going to use some Hebrew today. Akkad is unity, one, within plurality. That’s how it’s used in the Bible. Yaqid is distinct unity.

What do I mean by that? Genesis 22:2, “Abraham, take your son, your only son, the one you love, and sacrifice him.” What’s the word for son, only son? Yaqid. That’s it.

But yaqad is actually a word for a unity that contains within it a plurality. It’s used in Genesis 1:5. There was morning and there was evening.

God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning —the first day. (Genesis 1:5, NIV)

That’s a plurality. The what? First day. One day. Morning and evening. It’s also used in the most famous passage, Genesis 2. For this reason, a man will leave his mother and father and be united to his wife. Two, and they will become what? One flesh.

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24, NIV)

One of my marriage sermons when I marry people. you’ve got to know this about preachers, alright?

We preach all the time, but when we do marriage and funerals, we’ve got about two or three sermons for each. There’s not a new one. And if you got married, I got two marriage sermons. And one of them is this, 1 plus 1 equals 1. That’s the name of the sermon, 1 plus 1 equals 1.

And so, there’s a plurality. I think Ezekiel 37:17, God gives Ezekiel a picture and he has two sticks. And those two sticks represent the divided tribes of Israel. The northern tribe Ephraim, the southern tribe Judah.

And he says, “Bind together those two sticks to do what? To make a cod. To make a cod. To make a cod. A unity within a plurality, to make two one.” And that’s the word here. “Hear, O Israel.

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4, NIV)

The Lord your God is Akkad.” He’s one God, but there’s an implied plurality in that. And even the word, “the Lord your God,” even the word for God, “Adonai your God,” the word for God there is Elohim. Elohim is plural. Now, it doesn’t, you can’t translate Deuteronomy 6:4, “the Lord your God’s is one.”

It’s the Lord your God. That’s a correct translation. But there still is an implied plurality in the unity of God. Now, I know the Trinity is hard to understand. How can something be three and one at the same time? My favorite, there’s all sorts of analogies. Find one that works for you.

Here’s my favorite. What’s H2O? Every time I say that, people say what? Water, right? At 32 degrees, what is H2O? Ice. Does it cease to be water? I mean, does it cease to be H2O?

It does cease to be ice, I mean water, but it doesn’t cease to be H2O. At 200, what is it, 212 degrees? Is that it? All you smart people? All right. 212 degrees, what does H2O become? Does it cease to be H2O?

So H2O is always H2O, and yet it manifests as water, ice, and steam. God is always God, yet he manifests as Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Now, here’s where that analogy breaks down. That molecule of H2O can only be one of those three at any particular time.

It’s not water, ice, and steam simultaneously. But because God is bigger than H2O, God is always God, Father, Son, and Spirit. He’s always God, Father, Son, and Spirit.

And so that’s—we are Christians. We are not tritheists. We’re not polytheists. We don’t believe in three gods. We believe in one God, complete unity, three persons. Father, Son, and Spirit.

You say, “Well, Kevin, that is beyond reason.” Well, think about it.

If we’re trying to describe the infinite being who created the universe, don’t you think in trying to describe him, there would be parts of that that would be mind-boggling and stretching? I mean, Augustine said, “If you can explain it, it’s not God.” So that’s our view. That’s what we hold. And I think the Bible actually supports that.

And then the next one is love the Lord. With what? your heart. What is your heart in the Bible? Well, you know, you can’t love the Lord with a physical organ. That’s not what he’s talking about.

But the heart is one of the most frequently used terms in the Bible. I think over 800 times, it talks about the human heart. The heart means the whole encompassing of our thoughts, our wills, and our emotions. It’s not just our affections.

When we in Western culture talk about the heart, we tend to simply mean our affections, our emotions. But in the Bible, it’s more than that. It’s our thoughts. It’s our will.

Love God with your thoughts, with your will. Love God with your emotions. All of it. All right?

I mean, that’s how I love my wife. I love my wife with my thoughts. I love my wife with my will. I love my wife with my emotions. When we first met and fell in love, a lot of that was just loving her with my emotions. All right? That’s what infatuation, that’s what falling in love often is.

And we have highlighted that in Western civilization to a ridiculous level. We have said, that’s the end-all, be-all. And many marriages get ruined by that because that thing just does not… I mean, I’ve been married for 46 years.

Here’s the deal. When Jill and I met, we were in love. Oh my gosh, I just… I love… I loved to see her, I just desired always to be around her. And she was so Twitterpated with me that when we went out to eat, she couldn’t even eat. And yet we’d still go out to eat. This was doubly awesome for me, right? Because it totally flattered my ego. Wow, this girl’s into me. And she was smart and beautiful and good.

You know, how could a person so incredible as her be into such a schmo like me? And yet, she was. It made me really feel like much less of a schmo. You know, it made me feel good about myself. There must be something good about me for this incredible person to be in love with me.

And then, she couldn’t eat. And back then, I used to play sports so actually, I could do this without really harming myself, which meant every time we went out to eat, I got two dinners.

And you know, you always go to a restaurant and there’s always like more than one thing you like on the menu, right? And you’re back and forth between, ah, you know, do I get the Alfredo fettuccine or do I get the chicken Parmesan? I guess I’m wanting Italian. You know, what do I go with here? And so she’d be like, she’d go, ‘What do you think I should eat?’ And I would just pick number two on the list because I knew it was coming my way. It was the best.

I just want to say, after 43 years of marriage and after 46 years since we first started dating, she actually has no problem eating in front of me now. She’s like, “I don’t see that thing.” And that’s what happens, right? Anybody who’s been married, you know, several years, they say, “Oh, do you love your wife?” I still love Jill, but it’s not like, I’m not like right now going, “Oh man, I just want to get done with this sermon so I can just get home and see her.”

No, I’m fine with preaching a really long sermon to you. You know, she’ll be there. She’s been in there for 46 years. That’s good. She’ll be there, you know?

And we even talked about, you know, man, I first got married. I just chased her across the bed. I always be putting my arms around her and spooning and snuggling with her. And, you know, and now we both snore. It’s like, I’ll be in the other room, all right?

Yeah, we both need a good night’s sleep. You know, we still sleep together, but not all the time.

It’s like, yeah, you’re making too much noise. It’s what happens. So now, you know what I love her with? I still love her with my emotions. I still, and this is true, I’m still excited to see her, I’m happy to see her, and all that kind of thing. But I also love her with my will. I love her because I probably, you ever wonder why they make those wedding vows so powerful? Because people know that the emotions aren’t going to be enough.

I’ll love you as long as I’m twitterpated” is a great way to have a bunch of serial relationships. The word “twitterpated,” by the way, comes from what movie? Disney cartoon, anyone, anyone? Bambi, it’s Bambi, it comes from Bambi.

All right. So, I love you with my thoughts. I have couples, they come into me and they say, “How do I continue loving my husband?” And I say, “Well, what do you think about him?

And they say, ‘Well, I think he’s, you know, he sleeps in too, he smells bad, and he sleeps in too long, and, you know, he doesn’t give me enough attention, and he’s messy, and my goodness, the clothes hamper is not that hard to hit, and yet he misses it. My husband’s a hunter. He can hit a deer from 200 yards with a bullet, and yet the toilet bowl from 12 inches, what’s the deal?’ I say, ‘Well, you need to love, do you want to love your husband more? Change your thoughts.’

Don’t think the negative things, think the positive things. And usually, women go like, “What? Come on, there’s something there, right? There’s something there. Did it make any money?”

“Yeah, it makes good money.”

“Well, are you glad about that?”

“Yeah, I’m glad about that. Good. Be thankful for that. Is there anybody on the planet who loves your, is there any man on the planet, besides that guy, who loves your kids like that guy does?”

“No, there’s not another man on the planet who loves those two kids that I love like that man does.”

“Well, good.”

Think about that. It’s not that hard if you try. I can think about all sorts of things I love. I remember I told my wife one day, I said, “you know what I love about you?” And I gave her like 10 or 12 things right off the top of my head. And she’s kind of smiling. “Well, that’s nice.” And I’m sitting there like, okay. She made me ask. She made me beg. “Well, what do you love about me? Huh?” And here’s what she came up with. “you’re funny.” That’s pressure, people.

I have to keep a comedic edge to keep that woman happy. I’m sure there’s other things. All right. Love the Lord with your soul. That is, your soul is the essence of your life. In other words, give your life to God.

This idea we have in Western civilization that life is like a pie and there are different slices. You know, I give 40 hours a week to work. I give this, I give, I give, you know, uh, this much to my marriage. I give this much to my kid.

I give this much to my hobbies. I give this much to my yard work around the house. And, somehow, that fills out the 24/7 that we call a week. And there’s, I give this much to church and I give this much money to budget my money. And, that’s a chart. That’s a pie. I give this much to this and I pay this bill and I pay that bill. And we look at life in that kind of compartmentalized way.

But when the Bible says, “Love the Lord, your God, with your soul,” what it means to keep with that analogy is, God is not a slice of the pie. He’s the pie. And then he gets to divide up the slices for us. See, God does not demand 10% of your money. It’s not true. It’s all his. And he graciously says, “Live on 90%.” If you’re strict about tithing, live on 90%. Give the other 10% to expand the gospel, to care for the poor, to keep your pastor employed.

Just give the other, just, but you get to live on 90%. All right, I’m a Levite. All right, you guys own land. I don’t own any land. Bring me a cow once in a while so I can eat it. That’s how it works.

All right, love the Lord your God with your soul. I had a friend who was a police officer for a while, and he was in a terrible accident. He had pulled over a driver, was writing a ticket, and a drunk driver came by the highway and clipped him.

They thought he was going to die. The Bakersfield Police Department rallied around him and prayed. The community prayed for him. He miraculously lived. He miraculously wasn’t in a wheelchair, wasn’t crippled, was able to walk again, was able to function again.

He wasn’t recovered enough to ever become a police officer again, and so he became a schoolteacher. He went back to school to become a schoolteacher. And I asked him one time, I said, “Why did you decide teaching? Why do you teach, Mike?” I said, “Why do you teach?”

And he looked at me, and he said this with all sincerity and honesty. He said, “When I was a cop, I was a cop for Jesus, and now I’m going to be a teacher for Jesus.” In other words, what’s he saying? “I love God with all my soul. Doesn’t matter if I’m a cop or a teacher. I’m a Jesus guy. I’m a Jesus guy. You flip burgers, you flip them for Jesus. You raise pigs, you raise them for Jesus. If you were a Jew, you couldn’t do that, but see, you can do that now.”

All right. And so, love God with your soul. Love God with your strength, with your energy, with your time, with your intention. There’s a certain amount of energy it takes to live. A certain amount of energy to get up and go to work, a certain amount of energy to take care of your children, to take care of your land, to take care of, you know, there’s energy involved in life.

You have to make a commitment to things, and you actually have to do them, you can’t just think about them.

And so, you love God with your energy. Jesus says, you know, it’s one thing to say, “Be blessed.” It’s another thing actually to go out and bless somebody, to actually do something. You know, again, to use the analogy of my wife, her love language is not words of affirmation. She doesn’t mind when I say, “I love you,” but she actually likes when I put energy into it. You know, her favorite line is, “No man’s ever been shot pushing a vacuum cleaner.” It’s a good line.

Whenever she’s mad at me, it’s like, couple, we don’t, we’re, you know, some of you are going to think I’m a heretic and want to leave the church. I know you conservatives. I don’t own a gun. I don’t own a gun. Never owned a gun. And you think, ‘Well, Kevin, you should own a gun. That’s your patriotic duty.’ Have you ever seen me with a power tool? So don’t, don’t talk me into owning a gun. Howard Jill a while back said, ‘you know, maybe we should get a gun.’

And my first question was, are we good? Do I need to vacuum? All right. There’s an energy. There’s a time commitment.

I’m preaching to the choir. You are, you are being intentional, using your time to love God by attending a public worship service, by having a quiet time, right?

Every, you know, one of the reasons I don’t want, I want my iTunes to work is I use my iTunes in my quiet time.

I spend 20 minutes a day with the headphones on, listening to praise and worship music, and praying both in English and in tongues. I just pray, and then I go and I pray three Psalms a day, and then I just pray wherever the Lord leads me. That’s how I kind of use, that’s how kind of, I, I, I invest some time every day in having that relationship with God.

And so, it takes an investment of time. It takes intentionality. Again, when you first fall in love, there’s no intentionality.

It’s just so easy to be with people. But if you want to raise… You have a baby, and you look at the baby, and it’s, ‘Oh, it’s so cute. It’s so beautiful. I love my new baby.’ you’d do anything for that baby.

And then three weeks later, it’s three o’clock in the morning, and the baby’s going, ‘Wah! Wah! Wah!’ And you’re going, ‘What were we thinking getting a baby?’ And then you’re not thinking, ‘I would do anything for that baby.’ you’re thinking, ‘I would do anything for not even eight hours.’

Dear Lord, give me five hours of sleep. All I want is five hours. Wah! Baby doesn’t care if you get five hours of sleep. And what do you do? You love that child. You go and care for the needs of that child.

There’s intention now behind it. It’s not just they’re so cute. I’ll never forget Caitlin’s line. She had her first baby over a year ago, and Jill was back there, and she’s holding little Caroline, and she looks at Jill with these big eyes and says, “Mom, I have to keep this alive.”

That’s exactly what you have to do. That’s your job, because this ain’t going to stay alive without you. you’ve got to keep it alive. There needs to be intention behind that.

So love God with your strength. Put some energy into it. Put some energy into it. Don’t just sit back and say, “Hey, God, I love you. Well, talk to me. I kind of want to watch TV.”

Study the Scriptures. “Oh, that’s so hard. I don’t understand them. I’ll just wait and go to church and let them tell me what this Bible means.”

No, have a daily quiet time. All right. Hear, O Israel. There’s one of me. And I want your love, and that does not mean what 19th century romantics mean. Simply your affection.

However, I do want to say for those logical, like me, logical kind of people, it does involve your affection. All right? Some of us left brain males have trouble with emotional affection. Right?

It’s like the guy who took his wife to the counselor and, you know, he didn’t get it. You know, he provided well for her. He was nice to her.

But he was completely unromantic. He was completely non-affectionate. And this is not a true story, because any counselor would lose their license for this. But the counselor got so frustrated, he said, “Don’t you get what I’m saying?” He goes, “No, no.”

And so finally, the counselor walked up, stood up his wife, bent her over, and gave her a passionate kiss. The guy’s watching. He stands his wife back up, steps back, and the woman is obviously like, “Oh my gosh, that shocked me.” And he’s like, “Man, nobody’s done that for a while.”

That was kind of nice, you know? And so the counselor goes, ‘Did you get it?’ And the guy goes, ‘Yes, I get it.’ And the counselor goes, ‘Good.’ And so the guy goes, ‘So you want me to bring her back next Tuesday?’ All right. What was my point on that? I don’t know. Emotion, yeah. It’s not all emotion, but don’t use that. Involve your affection.

That’s why I like in worship, I remember the first time the Lord said, ‘Kevin, lift your hands.’ I’m not a lift your hand kind of guy.

You might think I am, because I am that guy now. But early on, I was not going to be that guy. I was not going to be that crazy, charismatic guy. I thought, that’s not right.

And I was looking at all these people raising their hands, and I was judging them. I was going, oh, they’re just showing off. They’re just trying to be like the Pharisees and show their spirituality.

A voice spoke to me and said, “Well, let’s not judge their worship, what about yours?” I was like, dang.

“Kevin, would you lift your hands to me? Checkmate.” And so, I did what every first-time hand lifter does. Tim Hawkins calls this “carry the TV.” “Carry the big screen.” And you grow, you grow. “My fish is bigger than your fish,” you know. “Window washer.” you grow. I don’t think Tim Hawkins has one for me. I don’t think he has that one.

All right, let’s move on. “Teach, teach, teach your children.” What is the first line of evangelism, mother and father?

You beget original sinners, now get them saved so we don’t have to deal with them later in life. All right, you beget an original sinner, now protect me from them. Teach your children to love Jesus. That’s the first line of evangelism.

Now, your kid’s got a free will, they could walk away from your teaching. That’s on them, not you. But here is what is on you. You cannot raise them neutral because the culture they’re growing up in is not neutral. The devil who is after their souls is not neutral.

And you are God’s first and most important line of defense for your kid’s souls. It ain’t the church. But doggone it, bring them to church. That’s a part of it. That’s a part of it, bring them to church.

Twice on Sunday, be good for Micah. Go to church twice on Sunday. It’s good for your kids. It’s good that Sidney and Sophia get brought to church. Now they just drive themselves. It’s a good thing.

I always say, I grew up, I had a drug problem. My parents drugged me to church.

I had to deal with my kids. You don’t have to go to church if you don’t want to eat. You want to eat my food? Go to my church. That’s how it works.

That also worked with chores. I remember one time my son said, I said, “Hey Michael, I need you to mow the lawn.” He said, “you going to pay me?” I said, “you want to eat? You want the combination to the lock I’m going to put on the refrigerator and on the pantry? Then mow the lawn.”

Listen, democracy is a wonderful idea.

I used to tell my kids, “Democracy is a wonderful idea. One day you’re going to grow up and vote. In this house, you have an opinion but not a vote. You can have an opinion, and you can share that opinion with me until I say I’ve heard it and you don’t need to share it again. But you’re going to church.”

Now, we were fortunate. Our kids loved going to church. They loved it. They loved the youth group. They loved the kids. They had good Sunday school teachers.

They loved going to church, so it wasn’t a big fight for us. But it’s your job to teach your kids. It’s not the public school’s job to teach your kids. Listen, I got no dog in that fight. Jamie, sorry, I got no dog in that fight. I don’t care.

Here’s my dog. Parents, be intentional because it’s not the school’s job, public, charter, private. It’s not the school’s job to teach your kid. The purest form is homeschooling because it is your job to teach your kid. It is your job. If other people help you, great.

But you impart your values, your worldview. You teach your children. Don’t sacrifice them to the devil. Don’t sacrifice them to the culture. You pray fervently about it, and you use your wisdom and you use your best skills.

Those children, the Bible says it time and time again, teach your children. Even Crosby, Stills, and Nash said it. Teach your children well. Teach your kids. We’ll help. We will help teach your kids, all right? You know?

Sean and I go out to eat, and he asks me all these questions. I’ll help teach your kids.

But you know why Sean has all those questions? Because his parents brought him up to ask good questions. So, teach your children.

And then, finally, remember. Remember! The Jews took this literally, and they created what we call phylacteries. They were little portions of the Shema, written in really small… And they would strap them on their hands and on their foreheads.

I told you last week about watching the movie Ben-Hur. Every time Ben-Hur would walk into his house, he had a phylactery at his doorpost. He’d pull it out, and he’d kiss it. What’s he kissing?

The Shema. That was a visible way of remembering. Jesus actually condemns the Pharisees. “you guys build extra-large phylacteries because it was no longer about remembering. It was about showing off, using this to show off how spiritual they were. My phylactery is bigger than yours.” All right?

But here’s the deal. Remember. It’s not legalistic. You don’t have to wear a little Bible verse on your head. You don’t have to wear a little Bible verse on your hand. You don’t have to have a Bible verse on your doorpost.

But why has the practice of memorizing Scripture gone out of vogue? I run into people all the time. Here’s what they say, with names and with Bible. “Oh, pastor, I just have a bad memory.” No, you don’t. You remember how to drive home. You remember how to go to your favorite restaurant. You remember your kids’ names.

Of course, when you’re flustered, you go through a list of them until you get the right one. It’s like my mom used to do. She had daughters. “Kathleen, call me Kevin.” It’s like, “Yeah, I’m the guy.”

Actually, what my mom would do, she had a younger brother that she used to boss around and parent. And I would be my Uncle Ted, because Uncle Ted was ornery. He was. He was wonderful, but he was ornery. And so when I was acting ornery, she’d go, “Ted? Ted?” I’d go, “I’m Kevin.” “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.”

The other thing my mom would do, this was so funny, because she was taught it was rude to point. And so she’d get mad at me, but she wouldn’t do this, because you can’t point at somebody.

So she’d do this. So if she’s mad at you, Brian, she’d be going like this. Be like, I want to tell you something, young man. And Isaiah’s going, what? I didn’t do anything. I used to be able to take her off her game. She was mad at me, and she’d do this. And I’d just look over my shoulder, like, who are you talking to? And instead of knocking me on the head, she’d start laughing, and she wasn’t mad at me anymore. So remember, remember. Memorize the Bible. Put the word of God in your heart.

You can remember whatever you’re intentional about. You don’t have a bad memory. you’re lazy. Sorry. Now, if you’ve got dementia, you’re off the hook. But if you don’t, memorize things. How hard is it to put the Bible to such time? Put the word of God in your heart. Remember.

I help you. I actually help you remember. There’s probably not a person in this room who doesn’t know Numbers 24:6. I know Sidney knows it. ‘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 on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. ”’ (Numbers 6:24-26, NIV)

you’re going to be 80 years old, and somebody’s going to bump into you, and you’re just going to turn to them, and out of your mouth is going to go, “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you.” It’ll be there. It’ll be there.

You’re going to remember Proverbs 11:2, “As a gold ring in a woman’s snout, so is a beautiful woman without discretion.” you won’t forget that. Hopefully, there are others. I’ve told you this.

I wake up many mornings, and the first words out of my mouth, I don’t think it’s a bad thing, are, “Who am I in heaven but you? And besides you, I desire nothing on earth. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God, you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalms 73:25-26, NIV)

That’s why you come here, to remember. You come here to listen to some guy say, “Hey, guess what? Listen, hear, shema, O church. Jesus has given you a great salvation.” I loved it.

You know, one of the things I love is when my son preaches and my old youth pastor preaches. You know who I hear? They quote me. They use me. I turn to Joe. And you know what? Here’s what I think. At least there, I did my job. You know, if Isaiah is walking around a house some day, Karen, and you look at him, he says, ‘Hey, mom, I’d have lost hope except for this. I’m going to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.’

You can just look at him and go, ‘Thank you, Kevin.’ That’s why you come here. Because we tell you, we help one another remember. That’s why we tell God stories, right? Because I have 46 years of God’s faithfulness in my life. In fact, 49 years. Next year, I’ll turn 66. I became a Christian at 16. Next year in December on my 66th birthday, I became a Christian like a week within my birthday. I will have walked with Jesus for 50 years. And there’s been 50 years of incredible love and faithfulness. And you know what happens?

Something goes wrong in my day, and it’s like, “Oh, God, where are you? Why is this happening? Kev, remember? Remember who I am? Have you been okay these 50 years?”

“Yeah, I’ve been great. I’ve been greatly blessed.”

“Well, you think I’m going to pull the carpet out from you now?”

“No, I don’t. Remember.”

The Bible is a book of remembrance. The church is a service where we help one another remember. And every week, we do this. And what did Jesus say about this? “When you gather together, remember.”

On the night that I was betrayed, I took bread. And I said, this Passover meal… And the Jews, remember this Passover meal, how you were delivered out of Egypt? Well, guess what? There’s a new kind of deliverance coming that Passover was pointing to.

And this bread that you ate at Passover, this bread from this time forward is going to represent this body that God himself incarnated, became flesh, and this body is going to take a horrible beating tonight, tomorrow. This body is going to take a horrible beating. And they’re going to spit on it.

And they’re going to put a crown of thorns on it. And then they’re going to nail it to a cruel piece of wood. And this body is going to be torn apart and broken for you. Don’t ever forget the love of God. There’s no more graphic picture of it.

And then this blood that’s coursing through my veins. You Jews, you know about blood. For centuries, we’ve been sacrificing animals and saying, “Without the shedding of blood, there’s no forgiveness of sins.”

22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22, NIV)

And now, the very blood that’s incarnate in the Son, the eternal Son of God, the very human blood that flows through the veins of the God-man is going to be poured out on that cross. It’s going to hit the earth. And when it hits the earth, it’s not going to be wasted. It’s going to extend the forgiveness and the mercy of God to the human race, initiate a new covenant and a new day. And I don’t want you to forget, well, God, how do we remember things?

I know how you humans remember things, eat. Let’s see, we should be thankful. Let’s have a day where we stuff ourselves with turkey and stuffing, and we’ll remember to be thankful. God became a man. Well, let’s have a day where we give each other gifts and have a feast. God rose from the dead. Let’s have a day where we gather together and we eat ham and chocolate. I don’t know how those two go together, but they do.

So, dear ones, his body was broken. His blood was shed.

So, between now and next week, don’t forget. Don’t forget. Be thankful for the great salvation that Jesus Christ has brought us. Here, O church, the one God has done this for you. Come and eat.