Archive for the ‘Discipleship’ Category

There have been five periods of major spiritual revival in the US over the past 300 years. Each had it’s unique method; open air preaching, a focus on holiness and repentance, or small group bible studies but the one constant in all of them was prayer.  It seemed that in each instance people began to get together to pray to God.  These “prayer meetings” were not formal or organized but were simple gatherings of believers who prayed.  It wasn’t 24 hour prayer-a-thons, or prayer walks, or continuous prayer chains around the world events, just people praying.

The other constant was that the people felt a need to “get back to NT Christianity.”  I think it is easy for us to get  a little “mission creep” with whatever we are doing and church is no different. We devise methods and plans to accomplish the Great Commission and soon the plan begins to change and morph into something entirely different. Soon, we are no longer meeting the Great Commission. We become stale and stagnant in our spiritual lives until someone suggests we get “back to the basics.”

We could use a spiritual revival.  It would be nice to see some changes in our own lives as well as those around us.  It would be nice to see our communities begin to change and leave these destructive tendencies and see the healing of lives and families.    It would be great to see Jesus’ name lifted up and exalted about all others in our own homes and cities.

But, only God can bring about a spiritual awakening. The power is in God, not the prayer or the method.  We are but obedient servants, prayerfully obeying the will of God.  Our call and challenge is to obediently pray and wait for a movement of the Lord.  Can you pray?  Will you pray?

At this point, in our modern tendencies, I’d suggest that we all meet somewhere or we go to a conference or we schedule something.  Let’s not.  Let’s just pray.  You set aside a time, or now, and simply pray and ask God to bring a new spiritual fever in your own life and then in the life of others in your church and then in the life of your community.  That’s it.

no regrets

There is a current trend in social media to promote the worldly philosophy of “no regrets”.  Essentially, the philosophy is to not regret anything.  Don’t regret anything that once made you smile. Don’t regret because at one time that is what you wanted.  Don’t regret your past, just the time you spent with the wrong people.  Regret nothing.

If I understand the concept, people don’t like the feeling of regret, nor do they like the self-punishment that comes with it. They seek to alleviate these negative feelings with the philosophy; regret nothing. Social media and blog content list unfortunate actions that lead to regret; dating a jerk, getting a misspelled tattoo, buying a Prius, and staying in a miserable dead-end job. I highly recommend that for these behaviors and similar, move on and get over them. The rest of this article does NOT deal with these embarrassing situations.  However, there are numerous examples of immoral behavior that the proponents of this philosophy wish to escape;  drunkenness, becoming pregnant at 14, sex with a stranger, selfishly destroying a relationship, wasting time, and stealing.  It is in this area that I am concerned.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. – 2 Corinthians 7:10

Regret and guilt are synonymous (the philosophers will say that guilt is extreme regret).  Sin leads to guilt.  It is best to respond to guilt with repentance rather than a stubborn denial of accountability.  Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.  You can live with no regrets with simple faith in Christ and repentance from sin.  That’s a much better deal than a mantra. Here are the easy steps

How to Deal with the Feelings of Regret

1.  Identify the source – regret is that nagging feeling that you wish you had done something differently.  What is that something?  Do you regret the action or the result?

2.  Recognize who you owe – “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  – Romans 3:23.  It is God whom we owe. So let’s deal with him concerning our guilt/regret.

3.  Confess your sins to God. – 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”

4.  Trust in God’s promise to remove the sin and thus the guilt/regret.

So, don’t fall into the world’s philosophy of ignoring the condition of your soul.  God has provided a simple (to us) way of dealing with the guilt associated with our sin.  God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross and pay the penalty of our sin.  If we’ll trust in Him, He’ll remove our sin and forgive us. Thus no regrets.

This won’t fix that jerk you dated in 10th grade or your obsession with One Direction or the mullet.   Those decisions will keep you awake at night.  But you don’t have to carry the guilt/regret of your sin.  Just repent.

We’ve all been “church shopping.”  We’ve recently left a congregation (for whatever reason) and now we are looking for a new place where we feel like we fit.  You’ve found a church; it’s warm and friendly, it’s biblical and the worship is real and meaningful.  The Pastor is friendly and personable and preaches the Word of God.

What now?  Here are the next three actions you need to take.

1. Commit to the church

We need to commit to a local church and join it because

1.  We need to spiritual oversight and mentoring (Heb 13:17)
Pastors are better able to provide leadership and encouragement when they know you are “in the flock.”  Pastors don’t always keep an eye out for the occasional visitor and you could “fall through the cracks” and no one would know.  The commitment to the body lets the pastor know he can “meddle” into your spiritual life and provide leadership and guidance.

2.  We need the accountability of the body (Matthew 18:15-17)
When you commit to a body of believers they know they can help you in your spiritual walk. When you get “out of whack” they can be there to help. The body of believers are there to provide encouragement and help in times of need.

3.  We create a stronger group to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)
There is much work needed to do in fulfilling this mandate from our Lord and we need more folks to be “on the team.” Your commitment to the group puts you on the team and the people know they can count on you to be there.
There is much work needed to do in fulfilling this mandate from our Lord and we need more folks to be “on the team.” Your commitment to the group puts you on the team and the people know they can count on you to be there.

2. Join a small group Bible study

Besides the accountability and the discipleship you also get the fellowship and community.

There are  many self-taught type people who don’t need a big group to help them learn and grow. I get this. But we do need people for encouragement and community and they need us. I think the big picture that many self-taught types miss out on is that others need them.  Even if you never get anything out of a Bible study taught by another they group needs you.

We all need the encouragement and togetherness of a small group Bible study. This is where we build those lasting relationships that are so much a part of a healthy church.  Every Christian needs to be in a small group.

3.  Get involved in a  ministry

There is plenty to do.  The Great commission is a little more difficult than simply sitting at McDonald’s and telling folks who will listen about Jesus.  There is much work left and we don’t need to be “sitting on the sidelines” or letting someone else do it.  We don’t need to create jobs that are essentially “self-licking ice cream cones” but work that is meaningful, necessary and effective.  I like ministry that makes a difference in people’s lives and eventually gets the Gospel into their heads and hearts.  Membership in the local body gets you “into the game.”

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You’ll need to read Revelation 11 for this story

“The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.” – Revelation 11:10

Have you ever wanted to punch a guy in the face for something he said, even though he was right?

John gives the prophesy of the Two Witnesses being killed because of what they were saying.  Why can’t people just ignore them or change the channel or walk away or laugh?  Why did they rejoice because the Two Witnesses were killed?

People Hate to be Displayed

John 3:19-22 tells us “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

People want to keep their sins hidden, in the dark, out of sight, beyond scrutiny, beyond judgment.  Sinners try to keep it hidden and when someone brings the sin to light, that person is attacked.  How many of us fear bringing something up to our friends and family because of the excoriating reaction we know we will encounter?

People Hate to be Disproved

“Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.” – Proverbs 15:52

“A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.” –  Proverbs 15:5

Few people seem to respond well to correction.  It’s bad enough to be told that your behavior is sinful, but then to be told that you are wrong is even bigger.  Our culture has created the environment where it is offensive to be told you are wrong, or that your decisions are wrong or that you are on the wrong track.  “Who says it’s wrong?”  “That’s your opinion.”  “Don’t judge me.”  People will continue to make bad decisions which cause more issues and drama which will be met with more bad decisions and cause more problems and rarely will they think they are the problem.  It is always something or someone else.

People Hate to be Disputed

“Bad doctrine leads to bad living.” – Larry Tapp

People generally have a contradictory mix of personal philosophy and religious sentiment which is the basis of their moral judgment.  The bottom line or precept for them is selfish; what’s in it for me and what satisfies me right now.  As a result their decisions are often immoral and hurtful to themselves and others.  When confronted they have very little logic or reason for their philosophies even though they may claim to be free or even “free thinkers.”  Confrontations to their belief system usually ends in name calling and irrational comments.  They hate to be challenged or disputed.

These are behaviors we see today from people who live apart from the truth of God’s Word.  During the Great Tribulation, as John prophesies, people will be even worse and they will react even more violently than we see now.

How about you?  Can you take it when people challenge your thinking and your beliefs?  Does your behavior line up with the Word of God and when it doesn’t, can you deal with people correcting you?  Arrogance will always keep you from spiritual growth.  Allow God to use other people to speak truth and correction into your life.

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Step One: Focus your Fancy

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your  life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. – Colossians 3:1-4

Paul tells us to set our hearts and our minds on things above.

He means for us to focus our eyes, mind and our whole self on Heavenly, Spiritual and Godly things.

Focus your thoughts on the things of God not the things of the earth. He tells us this because our thoughts lead to our feelings and our behavior.  If I focus on worldly activities and desires I will behave in a worldly and sinful way.

So, how to I set my mind on heavenly/godly things?

I read the Bible, I memorize Scripture, I meditate on the Word, I pray, I obey God.

The natural result of your thinking is that your behavior changes to match.

Step Two: Finish the Flesh

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5 

Put to death means to mortify or to kill.  The famous phrase in the video game “Mortal Combat” is “Finish Him.”  When it comes to you flesh, you can’t control it, you can’t reform it, you have to “Finish” it.  You must put to death whatever belongs to that earthly nature.

He gives a list of this earthly nature.  The list is all sexually related and deals with everything of sexual immorality, plus the immoral thoughts, ideas and fantasies that come with it.  Paul continues adding to this the evil desires to sin and the deep dark evil sexualized passions that well up inside us.  He includes greed in the list because this form of sexual related sins always demands more and more until the sexual perversion becomes an idol, it is worshiped.

We live in a culture that has made an idol of sex.  It is pushed in every aspect of our life.  Constantly.  We are just as depraved and perverted as the first century Greeks and Romans mentioned by Paul.

These are all part of our sinful nature, they are sins of the flesh and we are not told to get our flesh under control or to reform our flesh, we are told to kill it, to mortify it, to finish it…

How do I do that?  By Focusing my Fancy on things about and not on earthly things.  I’m not looking at porn, or at ladies body parts, or at sexually suggestive television, or listening to provocative sexual songs, or reading sexual stuff…I’m mortifying the flesh…I’m killing those sinful sexual desires. (I highly recommend getting married and having a healthy sex life, though)

6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 

Step Three: Fire Your Fury

8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:8-10

The fleshly sexual sins are part of our worldly and earthly nature and must be put to death.  But this next list are part of our emotions dealing with anger and are not so easily “finished off.”  We are told to get rid of these items, like getting rid of a horrible employee.  You are fired.

We are so angry.  We see this anger in the way we snap at people, the cussing, the passive aggressive facebook updates, the eye rolling, the arguments where we drag in events to happened a while back, the mean behaviors we do toward others, the lies, the slander.  We are angry people.

Bruce Banner (in the Avengers) revealed his secret as the Hulk.  He is always angry.  Most of us are the Hulk in waiting.  We are always angry and it doesn’t take much for us to turn green and smash everything.

Our anger is caused by hurt.  People hurt us and we get angry.  When we do not deal with the anger it turns to resentment which is that built-in never leaving anger.  We are hurt people and we hurt other people in our hurt.

Paul gives us the way to put off that anger in verse 12 to 14.  We must forgive.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

You can’t get even enough to take away the anger and pain of the hurt.  There is not enough vengeance, there is not enough telling off, there is not enough withholding love that will heal our hurt.  The ONLY healing is to forgive.

Fire Your Fury by Forgiving your Foe

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Here is the key, Jesus forgave you for all the sin and hurt you causes him with your rebellion and your selfishness, your worldly thoughts and earthly behavior, your violation of his Law and His nature.  He forgave you for sin thousands of times greater than the hurt caused you by others.  If Jesus can die on the cross to forgive your sin, if he can forgive you, you can forgive others. You can forgive to the extent you understand this forgiveness.  That’s the secret…forgive.

Focus your mind on the things of God, kill the fleshly desires for sexual immorality, put aside the anger through forgiveness.  Get on it.

English: Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mos...

  1. He is the representation and manifestation of the invisible God. Col 1:15
  2. He ranks higher than all of creation.  Col 1:15
  3. God’s fullness lives permanently in Him. Col 1:19
  4. Jesus created everything. Col 1:16
  5. He is the head of the church. Col 1:18
  6. He holds everything together.  Col 1:17
  7. He has reconciled believers to God through His death on the cross. Col 1:22
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Push Ups

“..train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.” – I Timothy 4:7-9

“Training” is from the GK word where we get gymnasium.  The idea is that of physical training such as exercises and sports training.  The text says that this physical training is of limited value as it extends to just a few areas.  This is contrasted with the word “godliness” which we need to define.

Godliness was used in classic GK writings at the time to refer to “actions appropriate to the gods.” It carries a sense of reverence which was described as fear of the gods.  When Paul uses it he means a reverence and fear of God that leads to behavior that pleases God.  We also understand it to mean the attitude that goes with this.  Think of “godliness” as my true behavior that reflects what God’s ideal for me to be.

Paul say that this spiritual training is beneficial in all areas, both in this life and in the life to come.

He leads this phrase off with the command, “Train yourself for godliness.”

Our fallen nature could be equivalent to the body of a “couch potato.”  Sin leaves us fat and out-of-shape toward spiritual thought and holy behavior.  We sat on our filthy couch of sin and made no effort to get out.  But then Jesus delivered us and tossed us into the gymnasium of holiness.

Fat guys have to work in the gym.

We find this contrast from Paul, physical training is limited to your body.  It gets it in shape and sharpens your skills in a sport or lifting or something.  BUT, training in godliness is way more valuable.

We have to train ourselves for godliness, for living with a reverential fear of God, for doing the things that make God happy, for being holy, for responding to God in love and devotion, for obeying God.  It takes work because sin leaves us out of spiritual shape.

What does this training look like?  The disciplines.  This is why we do them, because they are our training.  We are sanctified (the process of making us godly) by the Word of God (John 17:17) so anything that gets the word into us is “training;”  Bible reading, study, hearing, preaching, pondering, teaching, and bible studies.  The companion of the Word of God is prayer, so anything that gets us talking and listening to God is good “training;” public prayer, private prayer, prayer with a buddy, intercession, praise, repentance, confession, and supplication and listening to God.

Training requires a plan and consistency.  Do it every day and often.

Headfirst in the Garbage

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Discipleship
Tags: , , ,

Headfirst in the Garbage

Yesterday I fell into a garbage can. I was pushing a giant, 96 gallon plastic container on wheels. It’s called a “toter.” I didn’t realize there was a wrong way to move one of these and I was doing it wrong. The connected lid was flipped back and hanging to about 6 inches from the ground. This made it difficult to take a full step and caused me to lean on the handle, while walking slightly off balanced. I stepped on the lid which stopped the toter, but not my forward, off-balanced momentum, which caused me to go straight down. And since I was falling in a little forward motion, I went HEADFIRST in to the GARBAGE CAN.

There I lay, in the street, face first in a trash can, which gave me a little time to think. It wasn’t that bad; I could relax and I was getting some welcomed time off from work. Then the smell became evident. Then I realized, “I’m in a garbage can, I’m not trash, I don’t belong here.” So I backed out of it and went on my way, acting like nothing weird just happened. A habitual lifestyle of sin is a like a garbage can.

The trash of this world fills it and we sometimes jump or fall head first into it. I used to live in it.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life,

 
to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

When I became a follower of Christ, He changed me to where I just didn’t like living in the garbage can any longer. He delivered me and gave me freedom from all it’s bondage and stink. But sometimes we fall back inside. At first it might not seem so bad, but pretty soon we realize that this is not where I belong. That’s my old life. My new life is free from this can and smells a lot better. When you discover that you are headfirst into sin, back up, repent and get out of it. You don’t belong there, you are a child of God.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  – John 1:9

Everyone take a drink

I was raised in a church environment that frowns on drinking alcohol. My earliest training as a follower of Christ was that Christians should not drink liquor and there were plenty of Bible verses supporting the conviction. I quickly was convinced that drinking was a bad idea for me and that my spiritual growth would be hindered by alcohol consumption. It has always concerned me when I meet believers who drink. It seems that these “boozing believers” also had spiritual issues in other areas of their lives so I assumed it was the liquor messing them up.

As you can imagine I’m really concerned with the trend among younger (20’s) believers who drink alcoholic beverages and especially when the younger pastors seem to even encourage the drinking. It seems this new group of believers have totally cast off the rules of prohibition and run headlong into alcohol use. So, I’m doing a lot of research into the topic. I don’t think my 20’s drinking friends are doing any research, they seem to just be content that I can’t produce a Bible reference that supports prohibition of alcohol. They smugly chug their Guinness while enjoying their liberty and biblical superiority. Jerks.

Let me give a warning. The lack of a prohibition against drinking alcohol is NOT permission to drink like the people in our culture drink. If we are to drink, we want to drink like Jesus not like the world. If drinking is good (as they claim) then surely the world has perverted it.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. – Ephesians 5:18 The early believers lived in a world of idol worship. One such idol was Bacchus or Dionysis, the god of wine and the worship involved lots of drinking and drunkenness. There were drinking songs and games and lots of revelry, as well as the standard debauchery that goes with drunkenness and idol worship. God is always telling us not to be like them. 1 Thessolonians 4:2-5   For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 

The problem with our drinking is that we drink like people who don’t know Jesus with the purpose of drinking alcohol. Our focus becomes the drinking. This is not God’s plan. Through extensive research I’ve found that the Bible does NOT forbid drinking alcohol, but God doesn’t give free-reign to drink alcohol either.

The Bible’s attitude about drinking can be found in the first three instances of drinking in the Bible. The first is Noah getting drunk after the flood, the second is Melchizedek blessing Abraham, the third is Lot’s daughters getting him drunk after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Melchizedek, you have this most awesome and deep spiritual event, a man who is a type of Christ, or possibly a pre-incarnate Christ, coming out with wine to bless Abraham, the father of the Jews. This is sandwiched in between probably the two most heinous and horrible examples of drunkenness you can imagine; Noah’s drunkeness led to nakedness and possibly a homosexual encounter while Lot’s drunkeness led to incest with his own daughters. While alcohol use can be very good, alcohol use can be very bad.

Let’s look briefly at what they were drinking. We can’t assume that what we call wine is what they called wine back in the day. The most used word in the Hebrew for wine “yayin” could have been fermented fruit juice or unfermented. The context usually let you know. We can’t say that all the good references were unfermented and the bad were fermented. There is plenty of contextual cues to know that people were naturally drinking alcoholic wine. Only the men drank alcoholic wine. The women and children were forbidden. They made their wine the old fashion way; picked grapes and squeezed them into a vat. Fermentation started about six hours after squeezing. The fermentation starts because there is sugar in the grape and there is naturally occurring yeast on the grape and in the air. Wine was sealed in skins and stored in a cool area. After three days they had wine at 8% alcohol content. If they left it for a while it could get up to 12%. By comparison, our table wine is 12.5% and some wines are as low as 8%. Many are fortified with some getting up to 22% alcohol content.

They didn’t drink the wine straight. They mixed it. The standard mix was 2:1 up to 5:1. We find many sources and various mixes and recipes. Rabbinic literature said that the wine used during the Passover meal was to be 3:1. Let’s use that as the standard for everything. (Jesus drank it). 8% wine mixed to three to one with water will make a concoction with 2% alcohol content. So a fellow might come home from work and have dinner and celebrate his day of hard work and his success in the field. He has a choice of water, milk and wine. He’ll have wine (about 5 ounces) and it will contain about 2% alcohol. If he wants to get drunk, he’ll need to drink it less mixed or drink a lot (and empty his bladder a lot). He’ll have to work at it. He’ll need to “tarry long at the wine.”

There was nothing wrong with his drinking a little wine. In fact, we have these three verses that speak to the blessings of drinking. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; 15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart. Psalm 104:14-15 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Ecclesiastes 9:7 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice. Deuteronomy 14:26

It seems that drinking alcohol was OK and a “merry heart” seemed to be the result of the drinking. (Sounds like that warm euphoria that you get).

But there are rules about drinking.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Cor 10:13

  • Do not get drunk – Ephesians 5:18, Proverbs 23:29-35
  • Don’t be mastered by alcohol – 1 Corinthians 6:12, 2 Peter 2:19 It is addictive.
  • Don’t cause a brother to stumble – 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 People want to fit in, you don’t know what effect it will have on your friend, even if they claim it is fine. You don’t know why they are drinking, what idolatry they are dealing with, etc.
  • Don’t drink while performing your duties as a priest – Leviticus 10:9 (1 Peter 2:9 says we are a kingdom of priests. Let me give you the idea that we should be sober and not drinking when we come to worship or bible study or some ministry activity. Like the priest in the OT, we need to be in our right minds completely when we serve God.
  • Don’t drink during a Nazarite vow. (2 Cor 6:17 tells us to not be like the world. I highly recommend a period of time, often, where you separate yourself completely from this dirty world; the music, the television, them movies, the language, the drinking, etc.)
  • Don’t “love” it – Proverbs 21:17
  • Don’t make it such a big thing in your life – getting an identity from it , spending a lot of money, doing it often)
  • Don’t desire alcohol, love it, hang around it, seek it, chase it, etc – Proverbs 23:29-30, Is 5:11, 22, This has everything to do with our motivations. In this culture, which is fallen and evil, the focus is the drinking. That is the trap into which we fall. We make the focus on the drinking and the party and the buzz.
  • Don’t hang around drunkards and gluttons (in bars, at drinking parties, etc?) – Prov 23:20
  • Don’t drink while you are the king or responsible for people – Prov 31:4-6 Don’t hang around it as a pastor or deacon (the things which go with hanging around it) 1 Tim 3:3,8 (My guess is the over-drinking, the drinking games, the revelry and debauchery) Same for older women – Titus 2:3
  • Don’t cause someone to drink or get drunk – Habbabukuk 2:15

I think these prohibitions will rule out most of what we think goes with drinking; the bars, the dance clubs, the drinking games (beer pong), the drinking songs (Red Solo Cup), the debauchery (flirting, body shots, revelry, etc). Even our parties where our guests are excited about the fact that we’ll be drinking is wrong. It is easy to violate the rule of “loving” it and seeking, hanging around, and chasing it. The rule against causing someone to stumble could easily be a way the teetotaler control you (don’t drink I’ll stumble).

But let me give you this. You do not know why your friend is drinking, you do not know what they are thinking or what the effect of this one drink will have on them. You don’t know if they are drinking in order to fit in, or if they are ready to become a drunk, or if they are of the they type to get addicted, you don’t know and when you drink with them, you could easily be the one to cause them to fall into all sorts of drunkenness and debauchery. Let me give you one more piece of information.

Since we drink like the world we also think like the world and we think that the official level of drunkenness is the driving limit of .08 BAC. Let me give the biblical level of drunk.

In Proverbs 11 and 23 we find the symptoms of drunkenness; Red eyes, reduced inhibitions, “room spinning,” numbness, bad behavior – lusting after other women, saying inappropriate comments, clumsy, staggering, pass out.

Wikipedia gives us these similar symptoms; slurred speech, euphoria, impaired balance, loss of muscle coordination (ataxia), flushed face, vomiting, reddened eyes, reduced inhibition, and erratic behavior. In severe cases, it can cause coma or death.

What is the BAC that produces these symptoms? .055 is the highest BAC you can reach before the positives turn to negative .04 is where the general positives fall off…mild euphoria, warm feeling, social lubricant, etc. We could say that official biblical drunkenness occurs somewhere between .03 and .04 (somewhere after .04 lightheaded and dizziness occurs – staggering and spinning). The point is different for each us since our bodies react differently. We do find that the symptoms for the lower BAC being mild euphoria, relaxation, a warm feeling, may be the “merry heart” of Psalm 104. Ladies process alcohol differently than men and get drunk faster and stay drunk longer. (Hence ladies were not allowed to drink back in the day)

If you check the many BAC calculators on the web you can find out how much you drink to stay in this zone. Essentially, one ounce of alcohol consumed in one hour will raise the BAC of a 100lb man to .032 (right close to the edge of drunkenness.) If you chug it in 10 minutes, then head for another, you’ll be over the line in no time. If you are a 180lb man and you drink one 5 oz glass of average 12% table wine in 10 minutes you’ll be at .022 BAC. It takes time for this to work out of your system. If you have another in the next 10 minutes, so that you’ve had two in about 20 to 30 minutes, you’ll be at .047 BAC which is biblically drunk. It does not take that much to cross the line. Females get a high BAC for the same amount of liquor. (They get drunk faster and stay drunk longer).

How did the early believers avoid drunkenness. They were drinking a glass of wine with a 2% alcohol content. The average man weighed 110lbs and could drink 32 ounces an hour (their cups were 5ounces – this is a lot) and would be at .031 BAC. If he wanted to get drunk, he’d have to tarry long at the wine.

So, what is my heart and the bottom line. I wish you wouldn’t drink alcohol.

  • First, it is not a cultural necessity like it was for them. We have 129 flavors of drink at BK or Firehouse Subs. McD has 10 different coffee style drinks.
  • Second, alcohol is addictive and you never know when you could get hooked.
  • Third, the world over does their drinking and when we join them we lose a chance to be different and not among them. We lose a change to show how God is different. We also run the risk of falling into worldly behavior and debauchery.
  • Finally, we don’t know what drinking will do to our friends. We don’t know how they will be effected and we can’t be sure we won’t cause them to stumble.

Love to Read

Posted: March 2, 2012 in Discipleship
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There is a library at sojourn!  Richard Eng has organized several books and read some of them for you.  Check out these reviews:

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

This was one of the first books I read when I started to take hold of my faith for myself. I loved how Chan developed how much God loves us and our responsibility to not be lukewarm like the church in Laodicia in Revelation 3. This book impacted me to dig deeper into the Bible when I was just starting to walk with Christ! I’d recommend it to anyone!

Desiring God by John Piper

In this book, John Piper develops his idea of “Christian Hedonism.” This is the idea that being a believer means delighting, being satisfied in, and taking pleasure in God. In short, God is our treasure (Matt 13:44). He fleshes this out in many areas of life, from love to sin. This is a spiritual feast, and is all the more satisfying when you take the time to read each scripture reference!

Check out the books on the Library Shelf.  No, really, check them out, don’t just take them.   (more…)