Summary: Jesus warned us to “count the cost” (Luke 14:25-33) of discipleship.

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Count The Cost

03/01/09 AM

Text: Ephesians 5:15 - 17 (NASB) Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.


Comic Non-Sequitur by Wiley Miller, one of the characters invents a “magic math” method. The character, Danae Pyle, is a pre-adolescent, atheist, semi-Goth girl with a usually pessimistic view of the world. Her method involves beginning with the answer and working backwards to fill in the equation so that the answer one has is always right.

Show strip from 2/24/2009 (These strips ran 23-28 February 2009.)

When I read these comics it struck me that this was the way many people approached their spiritual lives, with a type of “magic religion” method. They first decide what type of life they wish to live and then back fill that choice with a set of “convictions” to fit the lifestyle they have chosen.

Our Sister Sally recently related a conversation she had with someone she knew who had asked her about what church she attended. After she had given her answer the person responded by saying that they did not follow the entire bible because it had been changed by man over time and that while they believed Jesus was a wise teacher they did not believe him to be deity. They were clearly exercising the “magic religion” method.

But both of these methods share the same flaw: Show strip from 2/27/2009.

The Need To Be Right

ILL: A Marine recruiting sergeant who happened upon an impressive sight while traveling the backwoods country. At this one roadside farm, he saw targets painted just about everywhere -- on the barns, on fences, and on all the outbuildings. And exactly in the center of each target’s bull’s eye, there was a bullet hole! Knowing the Marine Corps could use a marksman like that, the sergeant stopped at the farm house in hopes of recruiting this sharpshooter. His knock on the door was answered by a gangling, barefoot lad of a not-too-bright appearance who proudly admitted that he had made the targets and bullet holes. The sergeant asked him how he managed to get a perfect bull’s eye with every shot. He drawled, "Aw, that’s easy, Sarge. I jes’ shoot first, an’ then I paint rings around the bullet hole!"

A. That is “magic religion”, a lot of people making bull’s eyes like that too. They "shoot" first by committing themselves to some religious position or affiliation, then later, when necessary, "paint on" the target rings to justify their actions.

ILL: My Mom’s family is from southern Indiana and when I was a child we often made summer trips out to visit. We would always stay at the farm house of my Great-Uncle George who lived out in the woods some miles from the city of Evansville. This was a rustic farm house with a hand pump and outhouse for amenities. A setting quite rustic from my limited point of view but one of great wonder for a young boy, especially the workshop. Great Uncle George was a craftsman from the old school and was adept with any hand held tool. In his workshop he taught me many lessons in how to approach a job, wisdom that I carry with me to this day. One bit of carpenter’s advice he gave me: Measure twice, cut once.

1. The more consequential the action, the more carefully it needs to be thought out.

2. Craftsmen know it is never a waste of time to ensure accuracy.

3. It is far better to make sure one is right deliberately, cautiously, and carefully than hastily and thoughtlessly to act in ways that turn out to be wrong.

C. It is possible for a person’s life itself to be “ill-measured.”

1. Look at how much thought most of us give to our education and careers.

In regard to God and the eternal, we are sometimes shockingly careless.


A. Given the ramifications of the question, the casual way in which many have tossed aside “religion” is nearly incredible.

B. The average person has rejected religion on the basis of hastily made assumptions from inadequate information, not a serious consideration of the genuine article.

1. Many have never taken the time to try to investigate the stereotypes, caricatures, and prejudicial slogans that turn people against religion.

2. Often, modern people do not even have the curiosity of the Athenian philosophers to hear the case for Christianity - Acts 17:16-21.

3. Perhaps we are more like those in Athens who hurriedly mocked than those who wanted to hear more before making up their minds - v.32.

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