April 2017

April 2017

Dear CCW family,

I recently calculated that we’ve had about 2000 meetings in our home over the last ten years, many of them packing out the place. That’s around four per week! When I think about all the times we’ve “cleaned up before they come,” I break out in a cold sweat. Let’s just say, we’ve put out a lot of chairs and swept a lot of floors.

But really, think about what a privilege it is to use the home for training and for the gospel. I do love it. And Pam loves it also, even though most of the burden falls on her for the place itself.

There is something here we must remember though: constant hospitality can make you cranky. That’s the reason Peter reminded us to “show hospitality without complaint.” We’ve done some of that complaining from time to time, but the overall joy we have in using our place is our main emotion. Strangely, it just wouldn’t seem like Christianity without it. I mean it.

Sometimes we think hard about buying another place that can accommodate more and can park people easier and provide the kind of “people flow” and separate spaces that would work better. It’s a serious consideration for us only because people are important. We have zero (let me emphasize “zero”) desire to clean more, but we do want to serve more. Pray for us on this issue if you think of us. Life is short and we want it to count in this way.

I grew up in a great home, but, we didn’t have many others inside our walls. I do remember times when we invited people over, but those times were rare-maybe just once a year. Back then, it was a big ordeal-too big to do often. As my friend Don Whitney once told me when preparing for some special guests, “We cleaned for the Queen of England.” We’ve done that kind of cleaning for folks also at times, but it’s not sustainable. Hospitality is about people, not the place, we remind ourselves. If we make hospitality a chore, we won’t do it. We’ve come to think, “Hey, we’re going to clean the house sometime this week; why not now?” and “So what if they see something out of place? They might just think we’re normal.” At the same time, we strategize sometimes about how things can be easier when we make this closet about “that” and that space about “this.”

On the other side, sure, make it nice for them. If they spend the night, do something extra. Some hospitality is about a memorable experience; other hospitality is just about providing a floor that people can sit on. Know the difference.

Could I challenge you to think about doing more hospitality both for groups and for families and individuals? What a difference it can make. You’ve got just a few more years on this planet; we’ll rest later. Live for others while you have the opportunity!

By the way, one of our communicators has a new article on hospitality if you care to read more: Creating a Culture of Hospitality. It’s very helpful in practical ways.


When I found out that I was going to speak at a college in Malang, Indonesia, and perhaps 300-400 students would be waiting for me, I quickly organized in my head how I could share the gospel most effectively. We have to be ready in our travels for such times. There they were when we walked in the gymnasium, sitting on the floor quietly waiting for me to speak. There was only one blaring mic, so I gave it to the interpreter in order to be free to move around and get “up close and personal” with the group.

What did God do that day?

Answer: I have no idea. And neither do you most of the time you share the beautiful gospel with others. Young men and women heard the truth, I can tell you that for sure. There was no equivocating. They heard it in memorable ways, in my estimation. They seemed to be listening. Some appeared thoughtful. Many came by to speak to me afterwards and to express their thanks. But only God knows what actually happened.

Yesterday I made other evangelistic forays into the lives of a few other people aware that life is short and the gospel “is the power of God unto salvation.” What is God is doing with those words?

A few observations that can help you understand evangelism:

  • It’s OK if we don’t know what God is doing with our gospel words. Much of what Jesus or Paul did was preparation for a future harvest. Thousands heard them without any immediate positive response.
  • It’s right to speak of Christ even when people reject. The truth is, everyone is a rejecter by nature. Until that person is converted, he or she is refusing to believe.
    Sadly, the gospel sometimes serves to judge. Rejected truth from God is nothing to take lightly. God says that many are “storing up wrath for the day of wrath” by turning away from the words we share. In a strange way, this authenticates and glorifies God’s message and the character of God. That’s important.
  • Most of the time, those who are converted hear the gospel multiple times. This means that you may be a strategic part of the process, but obtaining understanding of gospel truth is a process after all.
  • You can share with hope. That is, you can share Christ in whatever way you are able, anticipating that the effects may only be discovered in another world. Imagine the joy of meeting up with those who were impacted by your life and your simple and sometimes stumbling words, words that were rejected by them at the time. It’s going to be exciting to see what God has really done with our faltering speech about Him.
  • Remember, God always stoops to use your inadequate words. That never changes. He condescends to use you because he has chosen to allow you to participate. But the power is in the truth itself and in the One behind it.
  • Prayer and the gospel go together. Paul often asked for it in relation to his presentation and boldness and clarity. We should pray and ask others to pray for us.

Please pray for our evangelistic endeavors. Our team is involved in evangelism in several ways. Some of our work is in writing. Our evangelistic works are being used by others all over the world and is, thankfully, even translated in other languages. We want to write clearly and convincingly so that believers everywhere will have appropriate gospel material to use. Here are a few places you can find those: Pursuing God and Wasted Faith can be ordered here for discount prices; our evangelistic website can be a tool for you to refer to others; and formatted evangelistic inserts are available for distribution from our writers.

We also engage ourselves every week in strategic gospel discussions in various places. Right now, for instance, I am in a coffee shop ONLY because it provides more opportunity for gospel encounters. And, as we speak throughout the nation and overseas, there are often amazing times afforded us for presenting truth to those who need it most. Please, please pray for us about these things. We are discussing regularly new ways to make the good news known.

Thanks so much for your participation in the gospel with us.

When Ball Becomes Baal

We’ve seen nearly 70,000 responses on social media to a simple article called “When Ball Becomes Baal.” The article is on our site, but the huge response has come from the “For the Church” blog site at this address. Can you help us spread this small but important article with your friends, church, and on social media? It seems to be the right time to pass this on. From the comments, the Lord seems to be using it to help families sort out their priorities. That’s important.

Family Life Today

FamilyLife Today with Dennis Rainey surprised us by including portions of a seven-part radio broadcast with them on “How Children Come to Faith in Christ” in a magazine style presentation. It features what they believe are some of their most used broadcasts over their 25 years of broadcasting. You can hear it here.

Yours with joy,

Jim Elliff