Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Friend of sinnersReligious people, have often fallen in the trap of being hypocrites, and holier than thou. It was true in the days of Jesus, and if we are not careful, it can be true of us today as well. In Luke chapter 7 this is pointed out clearly. Many people mocked John the Baptist because he did not look like them. He did not dress like them. He did not eat and drink like them. V. 33 tells us that because of John’s abstaining from these things many people accused him of having a demon. In their mind, it was the only explanation for his actions.


Jesus enters the picture. He isn’t dressed like John the Baptist. He is behaving differently, in fact, He is found eating with “tax collectors and sinners.” Now, these same people who mocked John the Baptist for abstaining from certain things and activities are chastising Jesus for doing the opposite. In their rage against Christ, they mocked Him. They called Him a glutton and a drunkard. They called Him a “friend to tax collectors and sinners.”


I would submit to you that the label that they gave Him, “friend of sinners” although they meant it in the negative, Christ took as a compliment. Jesus was (and is) a friend to sinners. I for one am grateful for this!


What being a friend to sinners means:


         Naturally, there are those that want to apply their own ideas as to what it means to be a friend to sinners. They may twist a verse here and there and abuse this idea. Some will teach that in order to win the lost, Jesus joined them in their lifestyle. Meaning that He either participated in or gave approval to their sin.

Jesus did not in Luke 7, nor any other text participate or give approval to sin. However, He did go out of His way to make sure that the sinner was, and felt, loved.


He wanted them to feel important: As we read of the lowly tax collector named Zacchaeus in Luke 19. A man that was despised by many for his profession, and possibly for personal corruption. We find Jesus singling out this little man saying, “I’m going to your house today.”

He wanted them to be heard: We read of a lengthy dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Not only did Jews not typically pass through Samaria, they did not speak to the Samaritans. When Jesus came, that changed.

He wanted to calm the fearful: In John 3 we read of Nicodemus coming to Jesus by the cover of night. The text does not tell us for certain, but it isn’t a stretch to assume he did so out of fear of being seen with Jesus. What does Jesus talk to him about? He spoke to him about being born again so he could see the kingdom of heaven.

He wanted to show love when no one else did: John chapter 8 details for us a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. A mob brings this woman to Jesus to test Him and see what needs to be done with her. After causing the angry mob to look at their own sinfulness, Jesus told her to go and sin no more.


What motivated Jesus to be a friend to sinners?


We must keep in mind in this discussion that never once was Jesus friendly toward sin. He was however friendly toward the sinner. Why? Simply put, He valued their soul.

Jesus was painfully aware of man’s lost condition. So much so that He spoke more about it than any one else in the NT. Out of the 14 times that the Greek word for Hell (γέεννα ) is used 12 times it is used by Jesus Himself. He knows better than anyone that people are lost and it broke His heart. It led Him to being a friend to those who needed it the most.


How can we, be a friend to sinners?

         We start by determining to actively seek souls: We must stop with the idea that “If people really want to know the truth, they know where to find us.” No, they don’t. They don’t know what the truth is, and they sure don’t know where to find it. We must take it to them.

In John 4:4 in the text dealing with the Samaritan woman we find an interesting phrase. The Bible tells us that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria.” If you look at a map, the quickest way for Him to get to Galilee from Judea was to pass through Samaria. Some have speculated that perhaps He was in a hurry and that is why He broke the custom of going the long way around to avoid the Samaritans. However, in V.40 the people asked Him to stay, and so He stayed for two days. It is apparent that Jesus “had to” pass through Samaria not because He was in a hurry, but because He needed to go to the lost.


We need to prioritize people over our schedule: Examine Matthew chapter 8-9 in your spare time. Look at all the interactions that Jesus had with people needing His help. He healed the leper, the centurion’s servant, healed the multitudes, calmed the storm, healed demon possessed men, healed the paralytic, answered doctrinal questions, healed blind men, healed the man unable to speak. Time after time, Jesus put people over His schedule.

Jesus was a friend to sinners. No, He did not sin. No, He did not condone sin. He did however, offer love, compassion, and help to those who were in sin. As a man who has sinned, I am eternally grateful for Jesus’ friendship with sinners. It is my prayer that the church collectively and individually will do a better job of extending friendship to those who are lost.

in Him,


“4 Questions Christians Need to Stop Asking”

Illustration Of A Old Question Sign Not Allowed  Generally speaking, I love it when I am teaching Bible class and someone raises their hand, or just interrupts me with a question. I enjoy the questions because often times the one asking, has a different view point than I do and I can learn from them. Other times I enjoy it simply because it means they are paying attention and trying to understand. I often encourage people to ask questions because I think it is a healthy thing to do.


However, I think there are some questions that are not only, “not healthy” but are damaging to themselves, and the church. No, these questions are not the questions typically asked in a Bible class setting. These are questions that are asked often only in the mind of the questioner. They rarely speak these questions out loud, though, they often think them.

Allow me to suggest 4 questions, that the Christian should never ask again:

  1. Do I have to go to every church service?

You know the question I’m referring to. Maybe it is from an individual who rarely attends a worship service and they are seeking justification for their decision to not go. Maybe it is the family that faithfully attends each Sunday morning worship service but is usually absent on Sunday night and Wednesday night. Regardless of the situation the question usually comes down to the same core question, “do I have to?”.

Allow me to approach this a bit differently than usual. I believe that it is extremely important for each Christian to be at every gathering of the Lord’s people that they can attend. I believe this because of the charge found in Hebrews 10:25 not to forsake the assembly. I believe Christians have an obligation to submit to the oversight of their elders (Hebrews 13:17) and if your elders ask you to be present at certain times for your benefit, you should listen to their wisdom and try to follow it. Most importantly, when the church meets on the Lord’s day it is to worship our God. It is my belief that nothing is more important than bringing honor and glory to God.

With that being said, let me tell you why I think this question is such a dangerous one to ask. It is dangerous because it is in keeping with a “checklist” mindset. The idea that Christianity is about checking items off of a list. As long as I have ________ then I can go to heaven. This mindset is dangerous. Look no further than the Rich young ruler in Matthew 19. He was a good man, he kept the commandments, and he was asking the question, “What do I still lack?” You see, he was a good man, and he cared about the truth. However, He was more interested in making sure he had “checked off” the appropriate items than he was with giving Jesus his heart.

Many Christians today who ask the above question, whether out loud or in their mind, are good people. They are nice, kind, generous, and law abiding people. However, many times, they have fallen short just like the rich young ruler by failing to truly give Christ their heart.

  1. Do I have to talk to people about Jesus, or can I just be a good example?

Throughout my lifetime, I have often heard Christians speak of evangelism in a way that distances themselves from any real responsibility in the matter.  One of the most common examples are Christians that suggest they do not ever have to verbally speak about the Gospel to the lost of this world, they simply need to live a good life and they have done their part.

Allow me to first say, that any evangelistic efforts made from Christians who are not living the life that they are trying to persuade others to follow, will fail. A Christian living in the footsteps of Christ is a prerequisite to effective evangelism. However, simply living a quiet life is not all it takes to do your part in bringing others to Christ.

In Matthew 10:27 Jesus instructed His disciples with these words, “What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” There will always be the exception to the rule. The one who approaches a Christian because they notice something different about their life and ask them about their faith. However, it is incumbent upon the Christian to open their mouths and proclaim the greatness of their savior. 

  1. Can someone else do that?

This question dates back to Moses in Exodus 4. God was calling Moses to be the leader that He needed him to be. His response was to try to find someone else. Do you ever do that? Do I? When a new service opportunity is presented to the congregation is your first response to think of ways you can help or to just be glad that “someone will take care of that.”?

We are a busier people than perhaps ever before. However, we can never allow ourselves to be too busy for the work of the kingdom. In James 4:17, James writes “Whoever knows the good he ought to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Don’t allow Satan to fool you into thinking that you are “escaping sin” because you aren’t doing the “bad things.” Recognize that we are not called to be a people who are known for all the things that we do NOT do. We are called to be known for what we do. (Matthew 5:16)

  1. If it isn’t broke, why fix it?

This question is a killer. It may be a good policy while talking about a vehicle. If my A/C is running fine in my car, I’m not going to replace it. However, this isn’t always the best mindset while speaking of the work of the church.

Colossians 3:23-24 reminds us that our work is not for us, it is for Christ. Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us to work with all of our might in whatever we do. What can we learn from this? Well, instead of asking “has this worked for the last 10, 15, 20, 50 years?” We ought to be asking, “Can we make it better?”

*Disclaimer* – I feel the need to clarify that no matter what we want, we cannot change doctrine. We cannot change the Word of God. We cannot change His commands. The changes I’m speaking about are dealing with matters of operation and tradition.

            In Mark 7 Jesus chastises individuals that clung so tightly to traditions of man that they couldn’t see the things that were truly important. If we are not careful we can fall into the trap of getting so focused on tradition that we lose sight of the purpose.

Souls are at stake. May we never allow ourselves to get caught up in our own comfort and miss opportunities that are passing by. We should never settle for what is comfortable, but always pursue what is best.


In Him,


“Oh, Me of little Faith”



I have spent the last couple of weeks struggling with myself. I have been struggling because I have desperately wanted to write about my experience on my first door knocking campaign with the Northwest church in Lawton, Ok where I currently serve. It has been a struggle mainly because I literally could not think of where to begin. There are too many things to mention that I undoubtedly will leave out something. So, this is in no way a detailed recap of our campaign, I merely want to highlight just a few things that really stood out to me.

1. The campaign could not happen with just a few being involved.

The story goes that there was a minister at a congregation who decided to organize a one day door knocking. It wasn’t going to be anything complicated or fancy. This minister saw in his mind’s eye the church meeting together on Saturday morning, passing out flyers, leading a prayer, and off they would go. They would knock as many doors as they could that day inviting their neighbors to come to Bible class and worship. After months of pushing this day in the announcements, it finally came. That morning this young minister and his family went to the church building… Alone. Sunday morning one of the elders approached this young minister and said “How did the door knocking go? I couldn’t make it, I was at the lake with family.” Crushed, this young man began to weep internally, feeling nothing but disappointment, and depression.

This story is far too real, this is my story.

Fast forward to present day and I still am in awe of the percentage of the membership at Northwest who are genuinely concerned for lost souls. I would like to point out that this year marked 38 years in a row that Northwest has done these “Back to the Bible Campaigns.” I make this point to assure you, that I have nothing to do with the success of this great work. I am simply blessed to be surrounded by such great people! We are a congregation that before the campaign averaged around 230 in attendance on Sunday morning. From our number we had enough volunteers to:

  • Provide babysitting for our members who were knocking doors as well as those prospects that we were studying with.
  • Keep our building clean, functioning, and presentable at all times.
  • Meals were provided twice a day for well over 100 people.
  • Song leaders, prayer leaders, and speakers for daily devotionals.
  • Worship leaders for our Gospel meeting Coordinators in the offices
  • Drivers who were getting people where they needed to be. Including our out of town helpers we also had 95 members knocking doors
  • We knocked on roughly 12,000 houses.

It is absolutely impossible to achieve any of this if it were not for so many people who are actively involved in planning, preparation, and the the “boots on the ground” work of the campaign. The most incredible aspect of this (to me) is that the vast majority of our members have been trained with a method to teach the gospel. I have been part of 5 congregations in my lifetime, and I have never witnessed anything like what I have seen out of the Northwest people. Are they perfect? Obviously not.However, the desire they have for reaching the lost, and the time, money, and work that they put in to accomplishing this task is unparalleled by anything I have witnessed. They push me to do better, and make me realize how little I have been doing.

2. The Word of God still stirs the soul

  • Satan will try his best to tell you…
  • No one is interested in truth today.
  • No one cares about God anymore.
  • The church is declining in numbers, don’t know that it will ever be the same.
  • People only care about entertainment
  • People are just “too busy” to study the Bible.

Satan lies (John 8:44)

I have heard (and made) some of these statements for most of my life. I would submit that most who would make these statements (including myself) have never devoted themselves to the work of evangelism in a very real sense. I don’t remember all of our exact “numbers” but we were able to set up well over 200 Bible studies. Many of those did not actually take place as the student changed their minds. Out of the studies that were taught 28 precious souls decided to put their savior on in baptism and have their sins washed away. 4 more souls who had been baptized for the remission of their sins but were not faithful to the Lord’s church have been restored.This is just the result of the Northwest campaign, the other congregations in this area also participated and set up numerous studies, and had several more baptisms.

It is very important to note that each of our new brothers and sisters made the commitment and decision to be baptized into Christ on their own after a thorough study of the scriptures. Each one looked at traditions of men vs. the Word of God, plan of salvation, unity, oneness of the church, worship, Christian living, and many other important elements. No one was “artificially converted.” Each new brother and sister spent several hours just looking at an open Bible, no other material, just the Bible.

3. Fields are white for the harvest.

In John 4 Jesus had a tall task in front of Him. He was trying to get His disciples to stop focusing on the physical things that are right in front of them (glad we don’t struggle with this today) He began talking to them about the harvest. They still had months until the harvest was ready, but he was asking them to recognize that the fields of peoples minds and hearts were already white for the harvest.

I would submit that the same is true even today in 2013. Most door knocking campaigns I have participated in before were about handing out literature and inviting someone to worship. There was something very different about the way that the Northwest church operated. We conduct a Gospel meeting at the same time as our campaign so that it makes a nice “conversation starter.” However, our goal is not to get them to come to the gospel meeting. We don’t leave the door without asking one simple question, “Would you be willing to study the Bible with me?”

Did I encounter some people who were dismissive, rude, and mad that I was there? Yes. However, the majority of those I encountered were at least polite, and appreciative of what we were doing whether they were interested or not. I cannot tell you how many people were excited at the thought of studying JUST the Bible. No creeds, handbooks, or other man made documents. The first day of door knocking I knocked on an apartment, and a man answered the door. As he answered he had a scowl on his face, he was done with me before I opened my mouth. He snatched the brochure and slammed the door. As I was walking away, a woman came out of the apartment, she told me she was his wife. She said “My husband is not interested in the Bible at this time, but I really am. Unfortunately I don’t even own a Bible, is there anyway you could provide me a Bible and study with me?” So I told her no… JUST KIDDING! I told her we would LOVE to do that for her.

It reminded me that I have no place to determine who is “worthy of my time” to try to study with. The natural thought that came to my mind after the slammed door was “No one in this house would ever listen.” Obviously, I was wrong.

4. I am a man of little faith

I have spent most of my young life buying into Satan’s lies, at least partially. I found myself depressed numerous times as I looked at the church and wasn’t seeing people being converted. I was seeing people fall away. I would watch as the congregation as a whole would feel a huge sense of accomplishment when a child who has been at nearly every service since their birth decides to obey the gospel. This is a wonderful day! No question about it! However, when our ONLY baptisms, and our ONLY “outreach” is sharing the gospel with our own children,this is a recipie for a short lived church.

Then as I think to myself and ask what I personally was doing to reverse the trend of a non-evangelistic church, I was forced to do some serious praying. Praying for forgiveness. I was every bit as guilty as any other Christian. Words cannot describe how beautiful it is to witness 32 precious souls coming to Northwest God’s way in a weeks time. 32 people who answered their door, heard that phrase “Bible study” said yes, after thorough study of the Word they understood what God expected of them, and now they are my brothers and sisters.

1 Corinthians 3:6 comes to mind upon reflecting on this campaign. The Northwest church is a great example to many, and are the hardest working people I have ever met. However, we do not deserve the glory for any success, we understand all glory goes to our Father. It is His plan that saves. It is His Son who gave His life for us. It is His grace that afford us the opportunity for salvation. It is His Word that gives us the knowledge we need to understand His plan. God deserves all glory for this or any other “success” the church experiences around the world. Having a front row seat for the campaign this year has reminded me that God is in control, God’s plan still works, God still blesses His people, it is time for me to increase in my faith. We also understand that our work is not done. Really, the hardest part is now beginning. It is up to us to do everything we can to integrate our new members into the work and life of the church. We know Satan will pull on them and try to make them second guess their commitment. We have several classes/ programs and groups in place to assist in this area. While we understand that nothing we “devise” will be perfect. The most important thing is to ground them in the truth of God’s Word. Let us all go “Back to the Bible” together!

“Am I leading my children toward the goals I have for them?”

   It was a usual scene, Jacy was asleep in her bed, I carried Jagger to his crib to lay him down. These are the moments parents dream about (when they are all asleep!) Everything would have been ok, except for one thing.

Jagger smiled in his sleep. You see, I flashed back immediately to my daughter. I remember just like yesterday when she did that all the time. It is very eerie how much my two children look alike. All of a sudden upon seeing this precious smile, I felt like a was punched in the stomach. I remembered Jacy doing that at Jagger’s age which really was just yesterday right? No, it was 15 months ago.

It is incredible how fast they are growing. I sat down on the floor. In between my sleeping children, and began to pray. I prayed for both of them. I prayed that Jacy would grow up understanding how beautiful she is regardless of whether or not she ever puts on makeup or wears the “right” clothing. I prayed that Jagger would be strong enough to keep his mind and body pure. I prayed that Jacy and Jagger would marry Christians who are on fire for Jesus. I prayed that Jagger might even consider preaching. I prayed that both Jacy, and Jagger will not just be “pew sitters” in a church building (God already has plenty of those) but that they would be true soul-winners.

As I finished praying and was just about to get up and go to the living room, I realized something. Maybe, just maybe I had higher hopes, higher dreams, higher goals, and a greater amount of pressure that I was putting on their future, than I was my own.


I was reminded of that old saying “You can’t lead where you don’t go.” It caused me to do a little bit of soul searching one might say. In no particular order, below are the tidbits of scripture and thoughts I am clinging to as a result. I pray they will encourage you as well.

My children will not follow where I don’t go:

Far too often we see parents (maybe even ourselves) who want their children to have a love for the Lord that is much stronger than their own. Parents, fathers, we must SHOW our children how to be a Christian.

We must show them we love the lost by praying for the lost (with them.) We must teach them the importance of making disciples as they watch us reach out to set up Bible studies, invite others to worship, and sit across our kitchen tables in our homes with open Bibles.

We must show them what it means to be pure by modeling it in our lives. Making sure our lives are free from filth, we cannot allow things on our computer screens and tv screens that we wouldn’t want them to be enticed by.

We must lead them to finding a Godly spouse by teaching them what characteristics to look for. One major way we can do this is by praising those characteristics in our own spouse.

“I really appreciate how you stepped up to teach that Bible class today.”

“I love the fact that you take time to read the scripture to our children”

“It amazes me to see the love that you have for studying the Word every day.”

“One thing I love about you, is that when anything good or bad arises you always want to spend time as a family in prayer.”

Statements such as these could go a long way in influencing the minds of our young people. The list could go on forever in regards to was we need to be leading our children. I hope this serves as a simple reminder, as I was reminded that having high goals for our children is extremely important, however we must not expect them to do things that they do not see us doing.

Allow me to ask you 2 questions:

  1. What spiritual goals do you have for your children?
  2. What are you doing to lead them to those goals?

Proverbs 20:7- The righteous who walks in his integrity– blessed are his children after him!