Talking to Young People About Drinking

I like the taste of some beers. I really do. I like enjoying a nice beer. It relaxes me and it calms me. Wine does the same thing. That’s why my wife enjoys a glass of wine. It relaxes her, and relieves some of her stress. It eases up her shoulders after a long day. It’s okay to do that.

But you shouldn’t drink to a point where you’re no longer sober-minded. And my sons are going to know that.

If my sons ask me if it’s wrong to drink, I will say, “No. It’s not wrong. If you drink to drunkenness, son, that’s when it is wrong.”

I won’t tell them it’s a sin to drink, because that’s not true. But it is against the law to drink. I’ll tell them about that. I think that angle would work pretty well for most young people. It is illegal, and you’ve got to follow the laws about drinking.

So when my sons turn 16, they might ask me, “Why can’t I have a beer?” I’ll tell them, “In this country, it’s not legal for a 16 year-old to drink beer. That’s why. The Bible says to obey the government that you’re in, and this country, they don’t want you drinking at sixteen years of age.”

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Because here’s another reality: at sixteen, you’ve just started driving. You don’t know whether to make a left turn or a right turn. You’re not even confident enough to know whether to speed up or slow down at a yellow light. So what makes you think that you’re going to make the right decision when you’re sixteen and drunk? If you get drunk and then drive drunk, people can die.

That’s why it’s against the law for teenagers to drink. There are huge decisions involved here, with huge consequences!

The government says that when you turn 21, you’re an adult.  At 21, you are expected to make adult decisions. And an adult decision is a decision that can influence another person’s life. So at 21, you can go ahead and drink. But if you drive drunk, and someone dies, you can be held with adults, and you can be punished as an adult.

I know young people will argue , especially when they reach the age of 18. They’ll say, “I’m 18 years old, so I should be able to make my own decisions.” Right. Because you’re good at that. At 16, 17, 18 years old, you’re telling me that the decisions you make are made with a lot of wisdom. You’ve been through life. You know exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

I know you think you know everything. Well, you don’t. I mean, we all went through it when we were 18. I get it. I understand. But it is what it is. You have to wait until you’re 21. Anyway, when it comes to alcohol, too much of it can cause you to lose self-control, and that leads to bad consequences. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. People see self-control in us when we represent Jesus, and they don’t see Him in us when we lose self-control.

That’s what I’ll tell my sons. Because when you’re 21 boys, you are no longer in my control. When you’re 21, I can’t help you. You’ll be an adult then, making adult decisions. While you’re with me, I’ll give you wisdom. I’ll help you, defend you, and fight for you. But I’m not going to sit there and slap your hand if you have a beer or an alcoholic drink at 21. You can do what you want. Just know that I can’t go to battle for you anymore.

We can tell our children it’s a sin to drink. We can try to control them with fear. But why not relate to them instead, with love and respect? That’s what I want to talk about next time. See you Thursday.

Drinking to Drunkenness

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Matthew 5:6

Drinking is not a sin. The sin is drunkenness.

Drunkenness is the sin because through drunkenness, you eliminate self-control. And when you eliminate self-control, a lot of bad things happen.

If you drive drunk, you can kill another person, another human being. That’s murder. That’s not good.

Think about all the date rape scenarios. College kids drink and the girls get raped. The guys’ hormones are high and through drunkenness, they lose self-control. They don’t understand what “No” means and they rape a girl.

Then there are the angry drunks. They beat their wives, they beat their girlfriends, or they beat their kids, all because they can’t contain their anger when they’re drunk. They cause pain.

In these scenarios, you’ve not only sinned, you’ve also committed a crime. That’s going to put you in jail. So nothing good can come from it.

When you’re drunk, you don’t even have control over your own thoughts. You don’t have control over what you say. Think about it: when you’re drunk, you don’t control your own tongue! I’ve been around drunk people that literally say whatever is on their mind. Well, some things aren’t meant to be said. So when you get drunk, you can say something to another human being that can cause a lot of pain.

You can’t do good things without self-control. Name one good thing you can do when you don’t have control over your own body. You’re falling down. You can’t even walk straight! You can’t make clear decisions.

The fear of the Lord is wisdom. It brings wisdom. That’s what it does. So when you represent Christ, you represent wisdom. You represent peace. When you’re drunk, you’re causing chaos. You can’t make peace when you don’t have control.

When you represent Jesus Christ, you make wise decisions. Drunkenness is a sin because when you’re drunk, you can’t live a right life. You can’t live a righteous life. The Bible says that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. So when you want to live a life that’s right, you have to be sober.

Make a decision that’s wise. Don’t drink to drunkenness.

The government, the church, and parents all have to help young people understand these scenarios. I’ll pick that up next time. See you Monday.

Drinking Wine Like Jesus

A lot of Christian homes reach the point where they teach that drinking alcohol in any amount is a sin. I understand why this happens. Christian families are afraid for their children. They want to control them, to keep them safe. So they start teaching that it is a sin to drink alcohol.

I think that’s wrong. And I think that’s why you see kids rebel. Here’s my idea. You want to see kids quit drinking? Why don’t you just tell them that it’s okay to drink? It’s just not okay at sixteen. I guarantee they’ll stop then, because they don’t want to rebel against something that’s okay. They’ll say, “Oh, we can’t rebel against that.” Yeah! That’s right, you can’t.

The First MiracleI don’t believe in the whole fear factor. I don’t believe in the notion that we should spiritualize drinking and guilt kids through Christ. And I think the churches that counsel that way are wrong.

It is not a sin to drink. Nowhere can you see that or find that in scripture.

People forget this. They make all these rules saying drinking is a sin, so then they don’t want to listen to the first miracle. We forget. Jesus turned water into wine. And it wasn’t just an okay wine. It was the best wine you can have. I’m guessing the alcohol rate in that was probably not nil.

Then you get into the arguments. “Oh,” people say, “back then there was non-alcoholic wine.” No, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have the ability back then to make non-alcoholic beverages. I don’t think there was a filtering system. They sat in a winery and stomped on berries. That’s what they did! There wasn’t a filter on the alcohol. It was fermented.

“Oh,” people say, “but Jesus didn’t drink.” Yeah, He did. In fact, Jesus was called a drunk and a glutton! When He hung out with people, He drank their wine. And so people started judging Him. They said, “Oh, Jesus is at their house drinking. He must be a drunk, because he hangs out with people a lot, and he always drinks their wine.”

Jesus drank wine. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

Obviously if there’s a pastor out there just slurring like crazy, and rambling, and falling over, you know what? His church will take some flak for that. James says the teachers of the Word of God are going to be held to a higher standard.

But the standard by which God’s pastors will be judged is not, “Did he drink alcohol?” Jesus is the highest standard there is! He’s the King of Kings! He is God in human flesh! And He had wine.

Drinking isn’t a sin, but drunkenness is. Next time I’ll tell you why. See you Thursday.

When the Pastor Sins

I’ve been writing lately on the identity of the Christian. In God’s eyes, you are holy and righteous. Will there be times when you are weak? Yes, of course! Your flesh is your flesh. Your flesh is on your person. You can’t get away from it.

The church needs to quit trying to tell people that they can get away from the weaknesses of the flesh. We can’t do it! You know what? Neither can the pastor. That guy up there on the podium can’t avoid the flesh. He tells his congregation to quit doing something, but he has issues too. He might even have more issues, because he’s on a stage.

Forgive each otherAnd a lot of times, he has no accountability. No one’s checking on him. He’s the pastor! So when his sin is exposed, everybody is so shocked. “Oh no! Our pastor had an affair! How could he do that to his church?”

Why is everyone so shocked when this happens? I think it’s because the pastor has spent years teaching his congregation to avoid the sins of the flesh. He has made them think that he avoids sin all the time.

But he’s a man! He is a flesh-and-blood man! He’s a man that grew attracted to someone other than his spouse. And he probably didn’t do things with accountability. He was probably meeting with women in his office for counseling, and one of them was drawn to him. Maybe he was feeling disconnected from his wife and his marriage. Everyone goes through that. Then he made the kind of decision that a man who has flesh makes.

You need to decide if you want to keep him as your pastor, but no matter what you decide, you need to love on him.

Is he going to be held to a higher standard because he’s a teacher? James says yes! But you are not going to be the one to judge him. God is the one who will say, “Dude. I put you in this pastoral role for a reason.” God gave the pastor influence, and that pastor was supposed to protect it. Instead, it has been tainted. God gives as he chooses, so He says, “I gave you that influence, and you didn’t do what you needed to do. Now you’re going to lose it.” That’s pain! That’s frustration.

Judgment belongs to God, not us. It would be better for a congregation to understand grace. They could say, “We need to slow down and look at this. We need to hear from the leadership board. What kinds of checks and balances did he have when he was meeting with people? Were there policies and guidelines in place, e.g. always meet in an open place, or make sure there’s always someone there with you? If not, then as a congregation you want to put those in place.

Don’t just sit there and be shocked. Don’t condemn the guy. I know you feel like he’s a man of the cloth and he shouldn’t do things like that. But he’s a man! That’s it.

More on this Monday.

Beat It, Satan!

Last time, I wrote about how Satan uses a works mentality to capture you in a cycle of shame. Doing justice out of love feels great! It really does! But if you do justice to make yourself appear worthy, you’ll be disappointed in how you feel. If you feed hungry families or help put in a well in so you can get your picture in the paper, you’re not going to feel very good when you’re done.

Jesus showed us how to talk to Satan. Remember what happened after He fasted for forty days and forty nights? He was hungry, man! Jesus was hungry. And Satan tempted Him. Satan kept trying to see if Jesus would give a vote to sin. But Jesus said, “You don’t understand. I’m holy and righteous. Your tricks won’t work. You have no shot with me! You can tempt me all you want, but I am holy and righteous. Whatever comes out of my mouth is from my Father.” And that, as you know, was scripture.

defeated-foeSatan even tried to offer what he thought was a huge bribe. He said to Jesus, “I’ll give you control of the Earth and everything in it!” But Jesus said, “My God is not of this world. This world here, this little planet, don’t you know that we’re smaller than the stars? This world can’t even compare!”

Jesus said to Satan, “Time out! I was there when everything was created. You’re offering me the Earth? It’s like handing me a pebble of sand and saying, ‘Here, control this.’ Beat it, Satan. I already have that. I control stars! So what makes you think I need to control just one planet? What makes you think I’m going to give up everything for Earth? I’m holy and righteous!”

It’s almost like Jesus looked at Satan and said, “You’re an idiot.”

And that’s what holy and righteous people do. The Bible says we are maturing every day, to get into the glory of God. Every day, God is molding us to make us more mature. He is molding us so that we can become like Jesus.

I’m not saying we’ll ever get to the point where we are perfect. It won’t happen until Jesus comes. But He’s maturing me and maturing you, and every day He is bringing us closer to that point. It’s going to get easier and easier to look at Satan and say, “You idiot. You actually think that’s going to work with me? I’m holy. And I’m righteous. That’s my identity. You don’t have any control over me here.”

I believe my holy and righteous identity in Christ will eventually reach a point where I rarely give in. I won’t even give a vote to sin anymore. I’ll say to Satan, “You don’t have a voice here. Beat it!”

See you Thursday.

Satan’s Cycle of Shame

A works mentality can really tie you up in knots. You start performing for God because you think a good performance can win His approval. You focus on doing good deeds in order to be saved. I think we’ve got that wrong. Salvation is not about doing good deeds. Salvation is from God, and He gives it to us for free.

Satan runs rampant over us when we get caught in a works mentality. He wants us to do good deeds. He uses that mentality to mess with us. “Go ahead, man, work to make yourself feel good.” Suppose you host a fundraising event, and you help a local charity. Or you fund one of your church’s mission projects. Then you feel so good! But then you sin. You can’t help it, because you live in your flesh. Maybe you have an envious thought, maybe you look at a woman with lust in your heart, or maybe you judge your neighbor. Satan has been waiting for this moment. “Oh man,” he says. “Oh, man! Now you’ve done it. See that? You messed up big time. Better hold another fundraiser, because you need to make up for that. Don’t you want to feel good again, like you did before?”

That is shame. Satan shames you. His goal is to get you into a cycle of shame. When you feel shame, you feel bad about yourself, and when you feel bad about yourself, you start trying to convince yourself that you’re not bad. So you do another good deed. You do it to feel better, but you also do it to prove to God that you aren’t a bad person. Now you’re in a works mentality.

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Shame: that’s where Satan gets to work. He doesn’t have to make terrible things happen. All he has to do is use what’s in your head to destroy you. And when you live in shame and guilt, you go further and further away from God, until finally, you stop trusting Him.

It’s a cycle and it kills you. You die, because you don’t trust God.

But God is right there with you, helping you and advising you. God tells you what to say. “Hey, Satan, I’m holy and righteous, so you’re not guilting me into anything. I’m going to hold a fundraiser because I love my neighbor as myself. It’s got nothing to do with how I messed up. I already know I messed up, because I’m in my flesh and my flesh is always going to mess up.”

This is the wisdom that God gives us to fight Satan. Believe and know that you are holy and righteous in God’s eyes! Tell Satan, “My flesh is the only thing you control. And you know what? My flesh sucks. So congratulations. You have control over something that sucks.”

Your flesh has nothing to do with who you are. Never forget what God sees when He sees you: His very own child, beloved by Him, a prince or princess of His kingdom. Never forget. You are holy and righteous in His eyes.

More on this next time. See you Monday.

Trust Issues

When He taught, Jesus used the paradigm of the kingdom of God, because the people gathered around Him understood monarchies. We have to try a little harder to form a kingdom mentality, but we can do it because it’s in our past, and it’s in our movies. We can learn to trust that the King has made us His sons and daughters, princes and princesses of the realm. We can learn to trust that when we represent Him in the world and need help, we can send word. He will help.

Still, it seems like it can be difficult for us to trust the King. We have a lot of trust issues with our own government today. Our representatives in government are making deals without regard to morality. They’ll actually sacrifice their own morals to make sure their agenda gets done. That’s what we have in government.

No wonder we don’t understand what it means to trust. Imagine living in the 17th century and the King says to you, “Come and be my son.” What do you think someone back then would have said? “I’m in!” But now, we hesitate. Now we say, “I don’t know, I kind of like living out here, outside the gates of the kingdom.” Why? Because we see government and we don’t see trust. We don’t get trust.

So we don’t understand that we can trust God, the King.

April 3 BlogWe’ve lost so much trust that we love Jesus and thank Him for saving us, but we still struggle to trust God. We don’t trust that He accepts us as His sons and daughters. We go out into the world, but we don’t really believe that we’ll be allowed back into the Kingdom. We think God will shut the gate behind us.

We forget that we can trust the King! So we get into a works mentality. We think we have to perform for God. We’re not perfect so we sin, and then we feel like we have to cover for how we acted. “I judged somebody, so I have to read five psalms today.” Or, “I had a lustful thought, so I have to put in two extra hours at the food pantry.” Or, “I thought I was a better Christian than my neighbor, so I have to go to Nicaragua and help build a new school.”

Now fulfilling the royal law becomes work. When you start doing stuff to make yourself feel better because you sinned, then you have a works mentality. This is legalism.

If you do something in order to show people what you’ve done, you’ll be dissatisfied. You won’t feel very good when you’re done. But if you do something to help a struggling neighbor simply because you love your neighbor, you’ll feel so good and fulfilled. Your heart will be right where it needs to be.

So trust the King! And when you struggle, send word to Him. Tell Him, “I need some help here.” Trust Him. Help will come.