Friendship with the World

"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. "Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. "Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. "Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luk 6:24-26 ESV)

Now Jesus pronounces woes on those who experience their blessings in this world rather than in the one to come. Those who are rich are not waiting for the coming consolation in glory, but rather are satisfied with their consolation now. Those who are full are not hungering for the righteousness of God, but rather are satisfied with the their physical state of being well fed. Those who laugh are not concerned with the joy of the Lord, but rather with the joy of the world. Those who have a good reputation are not trying to please God, but rather to please the men of this world.

The contrast that Jesus sets forth here is obvious…we can either enjoy Christ and long for eternal glory with Him, or we can enjoy the world and be unconcerned with those things that have an eternal weight to them. We can be heavenly-minded OR worldly-minded…but we can’t be both.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jas 4:4 ESV)

Being friends with the world is so far set against God that it’s equated to being at enmity with Him. We are enemies of God if we are friends with the world. These two positions are in opposition to each other and can never be made to exist peacefully together.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:5-8 ESV)

May we take inventory of our lives to see where we stand on the spectrum of loving God and loving the world. May we come to a deeper understanding of the hatred that we show God when we befriend the same world that condemned Him. May we be brought to a closer walk with Christ as we walk away from the worldly pleasures that so easily beset us and walk towards our Lord.


Heavenly Blessings

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. "Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. "Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. "Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luk 6:20-23 ESV)

The blessings that Jesus pronounces here are contrary to the world’s view of blessings. The blessed are those who are: poor, hungry, weeping, and hated by others. These are not the things that naturally come to mind when we think of being blessed. Because these blessings go against the grain of our natural thought process, Christ gives us the reasons these are blessings….reasons that go much deeper than mere physical comfort.

  • The poor have the kingdom of God.
  • The hungry will be satisfied (filled to the point of being gorged).
  • The weeping will laugh.
  • Those who are hated are hated will have great reward in heaven.

Let’s ask ourselves some questions to see how we line up to the blessings of this passage:

Which do we desire more…

  • God’s kingdom or riches in this world? (Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." (Mat 19:24 ESV))
  • Being filled with the righteousness of God or with food? (But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Mat 6:33 ESV))
  • God’s comfort and wiping away of our tears or laughing with the world? (He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. (Isa 25:8 ESV))
  • God’s love towards us shown in our reward in Heaven or the world’s love towards us? (If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (Joh 15:19 ESV))

Let’s strive to set our lives in order according to Scripture and not according to what the world offers. The world and all that’s in it are passing away. Therefore let us lay hold of the eternal, rooted and built up in the things of God rather than temporal trifles.


Apprehending God's Mercy

Taken From: “Daily Words for Zion’s Wayfarers”; by: J.C. Philpot

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us." Titus 3:5

To view mercy in its real character, we must go to Calvary. It is not sufficient to contrast the purity of God with the impurity of man. That indeed affords us some view of what mercy must be to reach the depths of the fall--a side face of that precious attribute. But to see its full face shining upon the redeemed, we must go by faith, under the secret teachings and leadings of the Holy Spirit, to see "Immanuel, God with us," groveling in Gethsemane's garden. We must view him naked upon the cross, groaning, bleeding, agonizing, dying. We must view Godhead and manhood united together in the Person of a suffering Jesus; and the power of the Godhead bearing up the suffering manhood. We must view that wondrous spectacle of love and blood, and feel our eyes flowing down in streams of sorrow, humility, and contrition at the sight, in order to enter a little into the depths of the tender mercy of God. Nothing but this can really break the sinner's heart.

"Law and terrors do but harden,
All the while they work alone;
But a sense of blood-bought pardon
Soon dissolves a heart of stone."

Law terrors, death and judgment, infinite purity, and eternal vengeance will not soften or break a sinner's heart. But if he is led to view a suffering Immanuel, and a sweet testimony is raised up in his conscience that those sufferings were for him--this, and this only will break his heart all to pieces. Thus, only by bringing a sweet sense of love and blood into his heart does the blessed Spirit show a sinner some of the depths of the tender mercy of God.


The Priority of God's Word

And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all. (Luk 6:17-19 KJV)

Notice that the people came, not only to be healed, but also to “hear him.” The teaching of Christ is like honey to the soul, sweet and strengthening. The words of Christ are the words of God, and as such they are to be feasted on as we gain nourishment from them…

…It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luk 4:4 KJV)

The teaching of Christ is so very important that it is placed before the healings in our passage, as the very first thing that the people came for.

What do we seek first? Do we seek the words and teachings of God as a priority, or do we seek after miraculous manifestations as a priority? If we are seeking God’s power apart from God’s word then we are putting asunder what God has joined together. God’s power is never divorced from His word. Consider that …

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign… (Mat 16:4 KJV)

May we crave God’s word as an addict craves their next fix. Our soul should be so dependent on God that it’s addicted to Him. And just as an addict not only craves his next fix, but is also controlled by his drug of choice…so we should not only crave God’s word, but we should be controlled by it as the Holy Spirit applies it to our heart. It’s not enough to hear God’s word, it must change us as well.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (Eph 5:18 KJV)

The Holy Spirit, working through the Word of God, should control us just as excessive wine controls a drunkard. It’s easy to spot someone who’s drunk because they have certain characteristics that set them apart from the sober. It should be just as easy to spot a Christian because of the characteristics that they have that set them apart from unbelievers. These different characteristics are clearly set forth in Scripture…

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Gal 5:19-25 KJV)

If you find yourself not as fruitful as you should be, make sure God’s Word has the place that it should have in your life – a place of primacy, authority, and reverence.


The Importance of Prayer to Christ

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor. (Luk 6:12-16 NKJV)

Before Jesus chose the 12 apostles He prayed in solitude all night. Christ was always focused on the will of His Father, and when important decisions such as this need to be made He spends much time in prayer. Not only is this time spent in prayer, but it’s spent specifically in private prayer…time alone with His Father.

If I could think of anyone who might not have needed to pray, it would be Christ. Yet we see example after example of how important prayer was to Him. Clearly, if Christ placed such an importance on prayer, we have no reason for thinking that we are fine without it.

If I could think of anyone who’s schedule was too hectic to allow time for prayer, it would be Christ. He was constantly pressed by the crowds, pushed even to the point of having to teach them from a boat. He constantly had the sick and possessed brought to Him for healing. He was under attack from the religious leaders of His day. As a matter of fact, Christ had such a hectic schedule that He had nowhere to lay His head…

…"Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." (Mat 8:20 NKJV)

In light of this our excuses for not praying as we should seem to be quite ridiculous. We often hear things such as...

“I just finished working two shifts and I’m tired.”
“I have too much to do…I just don’t have time to pray.”

How outrageous to think that these are valid excuses to keep us from prayer. In reality, these are the very things that should drive us to pray. We NEED God’s strength to accomplish what He would have us to accomplish…it’s not a recommendation it’s a requirement. Yet we strive and work with only our strength, and that because we won’t go to God in prayer. And then we complain about not having strength enough to go further.

When I see Christ in the garden praying to the point of sweating blood I’m convicted at the lack of devotion in my own prayer life.

And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luk 22:44 NKJV)

Here the Lord’s rebuke of the apostles in the garden…

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? (Mat 26:40 NKJV)

Is our Lord happy with our prayer life or would we receive a similar rebuke? While Jesus sweat blood in prayer, do we even scuff up our knees?

If we find ourselves lacking in our devotion to prayer let’s make a commitment right here and now to trust in God more fully. Realizing that we can do nothing without Him and everything with Him, let’s get serious about this spiritual discipline. And by God’s grace we will change the world for His glory!


The Wrong Use of God's Law

On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, "Come and stand here." And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?" And after looking around at them all he said to him, "Stretch out your hand." And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. (Luk 6:6-11)

Herein lies one of the most grievous offenses of the Pharisees. They used God’s Law as an excuse to injure God’s people. The previous example of Jesus allowing His disciples the common nourishment of food on the Sabbath to sustain their lives is here complimented with Jesus miraculously healing a man on the Sabbath to “do good” to him.

God’s moral law is not meant to be taken as a theoretical concept, looked at in a vacuum without consideration for real human need. Rather, God’s moral law is meant to be the matrix through which we interact with both God and man.

When we study God’s Word we must be very careful not to fall into the same error as the Pharisees. It is easy to get caught up in the academic rigor of study and miss the whole point that Scripture is meant to draw us closer to Christ. As we are drawn closer to Christ we are drawn to a deeper love and concern for each other. After all…

If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1Jn 4:20)

When we are focused on the scholarship of Scripture without being concerned with our relationship with God and others we end up missing the forest for the trees, as they say.

If you find your relationship with other Christians being strained the more you study Scripture…if you are becoming more distant, more critical, more unloving…then take a step back and re-evaluate how you are approaching God’s Word. Repent and beg forgiveness for making God’s children the grinder by which you sharpen your theological acumen.

May God grant us all a deeper love for Him and His children as we plunge to the depths of His Word. May He keep us far from the hypocrisy of the Pharisees as we seek His glory rather than our own.

…"knowledge" puffs up, but love builds up. (1Co 8:1)


Christ and the Sabbath

And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days? And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. (Luk 6:1-5 KJV)

Here we have presented to us one of the instances where the Pharisees rebuked Christ and His disciples for breaking the Sabbath. The response that Jesus gives is not expected as it doesn’t speak directly to the question at hand…the Sabbath regulations.

Rather than pointing to what the Law requires, Jesus points back to His shadow that was found in David. David was God’s anointed, and he was a shadow of the Messiah that was to come…the Messiah who is Christ, Son of God and Son of Man.

Notice what the passage doesn’t say. It doesn’t say, “the Sabbath has no more bearing on men”…it doesn’t say, “the Sabbath is no longer to be observed.” Rather, we are told that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. In the Gospel of Mark there’s a phrase added to this interaction…

And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: (Mar 2:27 KJV)

Here Jesus tells us plainly that the Sabbath was made for man. God made it for us and we need to honor it and sanctify it for His purposes because He made it for us.

So now that we know that Jesus is not trying to abolish the Sabbath, why does He bring up this incident with David?

I find it interesting that this passage is in reference to the disciples being hungry and eating. Some might suggest that it may have been better for them to fast and so not even appear to break the Sabbath…but consider that the last passage we went over explicitly told us that the disciples won’t fast while the bridegroom is with them. How strange would it be for them to begin a fast immediately after such a statement by Christ.

David and his men, because of need, ate the bread of the presence that was reserved for the priests. How much more ought Christ, the bread from heaven, and his men eat because of their need. If David’s commission was important enough to warrant what he did, how much more important is the commission of Christ to warrant what His disciples did?

The Sabbath is not set up against taking reasonable measures to sustain one’s life. It is for man’s benefit not his hurt. That doesn’t mean that we should neglect the serious call to sanctify the day, keeping it holy and devoting ourselves to worship, need, and mercy. May you keep this upcoming Lord’s Day free from worldly passions and interests.


No Fasting with the Bridegroom

And they said to him, "The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink." And Jesus said to them, "Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days." He also told them a parable: "No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, 'The old is good.'" (Luk 5:33-39 ESV)

How strange it would be if the disciples of Christ fasted while He was with them. We will not fast in Heaven nor can we fast when we are face to face with our Lord as these disciples were. The picture that Christ gives is of a wedding. We don’t go to a wedding in order to fast. Rather we go to a wedding in order to feast. There is a time for everything…a time for fasting and a time for feasting. And when our Lord is with us in such an intimate way it is certainly a time of feasting.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecc 3:1-8 ESV)

Christ goes on to say that there will be a time when His disciples will fast. This will happen when the bridegroom, Jesus Himself, is taken from them. He is speaking here of being taken away from the disciples in the betrayal of Jesus, taken by the Jewish courts, and given over to the Roman courts…finally to die on the cross on Golgotha.

We know that this is not where the story ends, rather Christ rose again from the dead three days later. He rose in victory over sin and the grave. But shortly after this victorious proclamation He went on to sit at the right hand of His Father in Heaven, leaving us until His return. Therefore even now we fast, waiting for His return…but we fast with a lively hope, knowing that He will return and knowing that He’s already won the victory.

Even more than that, we don’t mourn as if we have been left alone. Christ does not leave us as orphans, but comes to dwell with us by His Holy Spirit…our great helper and comforter.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (Joh 14:16-18 ESV)


Meeting with Sinners

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, "Follow me." And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (Luk 5:27-32 ESV)

Notice the humility of Christ in contrast to the self-importance of the Pharisees and scribes. Though Christ is the Son of God, yet He humbled Himself even to the point of eating with sinners. Though the Pharisees were sinners, they would not associate with those whom they considered beneath them. What a stark contrast!

Jesus does not eat with sinners for mere fellowship, but rather because they are sick and in need of the Great Physician’s healing touch. It’s important to keep in mind that He doesn’t fellowship with sinners to make them content in their state, but rather to lift them up out of their bondage to sin and into a lively and loving relationship with Him as their Lord.

As Christians we must be careful not to fall into two errors: 1. The error of the self-important Pharisees in not associating with sinners; 2. The error of associating with sinners without the purpose of bringing them to Christ for salvation.

There is a tendency to consider our personal sins in one category, and the sins of others in another. We might excuse our own sin of gluttony, and at the same time be very unsympathetic to those who are struggling with the sin of adultery. It’s important to remember that the only reason we don’t fall headlong into every sin is because of the grace of God, not because of anything in us.

Keep in mind the wise words of Tozer on this subject:
“A Pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual man is easy on others and hard on himself.”


Promises of Christ

And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day. (Luk 5:17-26 KJV)

The Pharisees and doctors of the law were coming out to find something against Jesus. Their motivation for coming to Christ was to condemn Him in some way. Jesus, well aware of the corruption in them sets the stage to show them clearly that He is, in fact, God in the flesh. Rather than initially healing the man with the palsy (paralyzed) as one might expect, Christ first forgives his sins. We expect healing to be the focus because the passage opens with, “the power of the Lord was present to heal them.” But Christ, knowing the thoughts of the Pharisees and doctors, first makes a clear declaration that He is God. He does this by forgiving the man’s sins, which only God has the authority to do.

After Christ forgives the man his sins He heals him. This is done to prove that He does have the authority to forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins, and as proof that Christ is God the man is healed of the palsy, which only God is able to do.

When Christ tells us that our sins are forgiven we ought to believe Him. We should not make the mistake of the Pharisees by walking in disbelief and contention, even when confronted with so much evidence that Christ speaks the truth to us and has the power to fulfill what He promises because He is God.

So let’s consider some of the promises that we have in Christ. As we consider them let’s do so with an understanding that the one who promises them has the power to fulfill them as well…

Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. (Rom 6:18 KJV)

…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (Act 2:38-39 KJV)

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (Rom 4:13 KJV)

That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:14 KJV)

And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:29 KJV)

Let’s be as the men who let down their friend to Christ, believing the promises that are fulfilled in Him. May we not stop at anything, even the tearing up of a roof, to get to Christ and grab hold of His promises. We must strive as long as we are able…and we must strive violently to grab hold of Christ and keep hold of Him. We must live as a people who believe the promises given to us, and we must be motivated to live by Christ and His promises to us.

May God grant that we would live as a people who have been set free from sin rather than a people who serve it. May we live as a people who are equipped with the power of the Holy Ghost rather than a people who rely on their own strength and talent. May we live as a people who are the heirs of Abraham, inheriting the entire world and exercising dominion over it…rather than a people who allow the world to gain dominion over us.


The Old Gray Dog Ponders . . . Effective Evangelism

Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are You staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
John 1: 35-42
The really important thing is that in those early days the pagans saw in Christianity and in the Church a power that could cope with and mend the human situation. They saw in Christianity a power which they did possess -- and they wanted it. It will always be true that the outsider will have no use for an alleged faith which is demonstrably ineffective. Long ago, Nietzsche, the atheist philosopher, issued the challenge: 'Show me that you are redeemed and then I will believe in your Redeemer.' The greatest converting influence of all is a life which clearly and obviously is possessed of a power which can cope with the human situation in all its problems, in all its tragedy, and in all its pain."
William Barclay, Turning to God


Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop.

Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink.

For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives; then you'll be afraid to cough.

You only need two tools in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

Remember: Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.

Daily Thought:
Some people are like slinkies; not really good for anything but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

There are a lot of ways to solve the problems which confront us, some more effective than others. Which brings us to the question: How effective is your church's evangelism ministry?

Some Thoughts on Biblical Evangelism
I. Create an atmosphere of expectation
And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"
For centuries Jews had been taught to look for the Messiah. They had a sense of expectation.
When Jesus appeared, John identified Him as the Messiah and his disciples followed after Jesus.
II. Know what you are talking about and with whom you are speaking

Noise Complaint at Luke Air Force Base, AZ

Luke AFB is west of Phoenix and is rapidly being surrounded by civilization that complains about the noise from the base and its planes, forgetting that it was there long before they were. A certain Lieutenant Colonel at Luke AFB deserves a big pat on the back.

Apparently, an individual who lives somewhere near Luke AFB wrote the local paper complaining about a group of F-16s that disturbed his/her day at the mall.

When that individual read the response from a Luke AFB officer, it must have stung quite a bit.

The complaint:

Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 A. M, a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special? Any response would be appreciated.

The response:

Regarding 'A wake-up call from Luke's jets' on 15 June 2008, precisely 09:12, a perfectly-timed four- ship fly by of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques.

Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on 30 May 2008, Memorial Day.

At 0900, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.

Based on the letter writer's recount of the fly by, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the rifle salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the president of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured.

A four-ship fly by is a display of respect the Air Force gives to those who give their lives in defense of freedom.

We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously; on 15 June what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their respects.

The letter writer asks, 'Whom do we thank for the morning air show?' The 56th Fighter Wing will make the call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt Fresques, and we will thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.

Only 2 defining forces have ever offered to die for you.....Jesus Christ and the American soldier. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom.

Lt. Col. Grant L. Rosensteel, Jr.


Do you think the complainer would have posted his grievance if he knew the circumstances?

Evangelism won't be effective if we don't know to whom we are speaking and what that person's circumstances are.
Evangelism won't be effective if we don't genuinely care about the people. Starving people will "convert" to anything if that is the only way to get food. That isn't Christian evangelism. It's bribery or worse.
III. Glorify God by unconditionally serving others in Christ's name
For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
Mk. 9: 41
Unconditionally serving others in the name of Christ is how we "win the right to be heard." This is how we get to know people and come to understand their circumstances.
"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
Mt. 25: 37-40
We don't "save souls for Jesus." We serve Jesus by serving others who are in need. Until we get that, we will never be effective evangelists.
Evangelism won't be effective unless there is a sense of expectation. This is why standing on street corners yelling at passers-by so seldom results in people coming to Christ. Ditto for door-to-door calls, handing out tracks.
In 1972, I attended Explo 72 in Dallas. I left as one "fired up, evangelical" ready to "win souls for Jesus!" (This was in my pre-TULIP days.) One day, while making hospital visits, I asked a man if he had heard of The Four Spiritual Laws. He let me know in the rudest way possible that he was on the bed pan.
Until we know where someone is, our efforts will most likely be in vain.
When people come to your church, what do you think they expect to find? "Where are they?" Until we can answer that, our "evangelism" efforts are not likely to bear fruit.
This takes time. It can't be done by forming a committee or implementing a packaged program.
Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are You staying?"
When Jesus saw the disciples of John following Him, He checked their expectations. True to human nature, they were too embarrassed to tell Him the truth, so they lamely asked where He was staying. Jesus did not challenge this diversion; but invited them to "Come and see." These men didn't know Jesus; so Jesus offered them the opportunity to get to know Him.
When people come to your church, will they find an invitation to meet the Master, and saints who are genuinely interested enough to learn "where they are"? (This is not to say we should "dumb down" what the Church is by making it appear to be a community center with activities for everyone in the family, just to get 'em in the door.)
The second step in effective, Biblical evangelism is making people comfortable with Jesus.
"We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
Biblical evangelism is not the result of a committee we form, or a program we implement. Biblical evangelism is the natural result of one person who has met Jesus telling another.
If you see a good movie, you tell others. If you read a good book, you tell others. If you have met the Person who has lifted the burden of sin from you and given you eternal life with Him in Heaven, you tell others. You don't form a committee. You don't implement a program.
Lay a Proper Foundation
Church members must understand --
*Humanity is totally depraved; that's why we need a Savior.
*God's love is unconditional; He can't be manipulated.
*Christ's atonement is completely sufficient, not an "open invitation" to all; He actually redeemed the elect.
*God is sovereign, so His grace must irresistible; human "free will" has nothing to do with our salvation.
*The gift of salvation can never be lost. It is a free gift.
Without this foundation, erroneous expectations will hinder the ability to see Jesus.
Having a pastor who is "on fire for the Lord" is not enough. He could get called to another parish. For evangelism to effective, the saints must be equipped with the sound doctrines of God's grace [TULIP]. This is not optional.
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
II Tim. 2: 2
To have saints who are equipped, a church needs Biblically-qualified leaders.
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
Titus 1: 5-9
There won't be a Christ-centered church without Biblically qualified leaders. Saints seeking the Messiah, who accept your invitation to come and see, will be disappointed if all they get is a "feel good" sermon, a friendly welcome, and coffee and cookies.
This is hard. It is easier to form a committee or buy into a program. But effective, Biblical evangelism demands the discipline to build a church where people really do meet Jesus. There aren't any short-cuts. Effective evangelism is not easy, but it is as simple as 1,2, 3:
1. Preach and teach to build the expectation that one will see Jesus.
2. Enable people to become comfortable with Jesus.
3. Equip saints so they can accurately do what comes naturally: Share the Good News.


Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.

When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away.

But, I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.

So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

"It's nothing," I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated."

"Oh, you're such a good boy," she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"

"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly.

"Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice". I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long."

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now." We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been
expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

"How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse.

"Nothing," I said.

"You have to make a living," she answered.

"There are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. "You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you."

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.

What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully
wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

There is no program, no gimmick, no speaker, no magic formula, that is more persuasive than a sincerely caring Christian. Effective evangelism will always be serving others in the name of Christ and leaving the results to Him.

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

I John 3: 16-18

Eternal God, who committest to us the solemn trust of Life:

Purify our lives. Help us each

day to know more of Thee,

and by the power of Thy Holy Spirit use us to show forth Thyself to others.

Make us humble, brave, and loving;

make us ready for whatever work Thou hast for us to do.

We do not ask that Thou wouldst keep us safe,

but that Thou wouldst keep us ever obedient to Thy holy will for us.

In Jesus' name we pray.


Blessed are the saints who are equipped with the sound doctrines of TULIP!

The Old Gray Dog
Jim Tuckett

PS If you'd like to know how effective your church's evangelism ministry is take the Old Gray Dog challenge: On 12/26, will your children (or grandchildren, or children who attend your church) be more prepared to answer "what did Christ bring you?" than "what did Santa bring you?" What do you need to do during the rest of this Advent to make sure they are?

The Westminster Fellowship
Clearly and Unequivocally Proclaiming What It Means To Be Reformed Christians http://www.westminsterfellowship.org