The Sin is Drunkenness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Drinking is not a sin. The sin is drunkenness.

When you get drunk, you lose self-control. And when you lose self-control, a lot of bad things can happen.

Think about the connection between alcohol and homicide. If you drive drunk, you can kill another person. You can actually take the life of another human being. You become a murderer.

Think about the connection between alcohol and rape. College kids drink and girls get raped. Sometimes boys get raped too. Young men’s hormone levels are very high, and if they are drunk, then they’ve lost self-control. They don’t understand what “No” means. They don’t think clearly enough to get a “Yes.” Young people get raped.

Think about the angry drunks. They beat their wives. They beat their girlfriends. They beat their kids. They commit all that violence because they can’t contain their anger when they’re drunk.

It’s way too easy for a loss of self-control to cause pain. And drunkenness leads to loss of self-control. What’s worse, in these scenarios, we don’t only see sin. These are crimes, and crime means jail time.

Nothing good can come from drunkenness. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. You can’t do good things without self-control, and when you’re drunk, you don’t even control your own body. You’re falling down. You can’t walk straight!

You can’t make clear decisions. Without self-control, you don’t control your thoughts. You don’t control your words. You don’t control your own tongue! I’ve been around drunk people that just blurt out whatever’s on their mind. They have no filters. Some things aren’t meant to be said, so getting drunk sets you up for saying really painful things. You can cause a lot of pain.

The fear of the Lord brings wisdom. That’s what it does. When you represent Christ, you represent wisdom. You represent peace.

But when you’re drunk, you’re causing chaos. You can’t make peace when you can’t control your mind, your thoughts, your words, your tongue, your decisions, or your body. How is this representing Christ? It’s not. It’s causing chaos!

Drunkenness is a sin because when you’re drunk, you can’t live wisely. The Bible says those that hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. If you want to live a life that is fulfilled and fulfilling, you have to be sober-minded.

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

Parents, churches, and governments have to help young people understand this. I’ll pick this up next time.

See you Saturday.

A Story Behind Every Face

God builds relationships of trust with us, and in those relationships, He heals us. He teaches how to parent our children the same way. How about if we do it with each other?

In case you don’t know the story, the Bible tells us that one day, Jesus rested by a well after walking all day. He was in Samaria, and lots of people in Jesus’s time had a pretty low opinion of Samaritans.

So when a Samaritan woman came to the well, she was surprised when Jesus asked her for a drink of water. “How is it that you’re talking to me?” she asked Him. And Jesus told her that He was going to give her living water. He said,

“Everyone who drinks this [well] water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst — not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” John 4:13–14

Think about that day. Jesus sat at the well with the Samaritan woman and told her all about her life. “You’ve had five husbands,” He said. “Now you’re living with a man you barely know. You have an issue with your self-esteem! Believe in who you are, and know that I am God.”

I can imagine what she thought. “Man, this guy has told me everything I’ve ever done, and He still loves me.”

That’s right! He loved her. He sat there with her at a well, and asked for water, and then told her, “Drink the water I give you and you’ll never thirst again.”

I think most of us hear about a woman being married five times, and we can’t help but judge. We also speculate! It’s pretty natural to do it. I mean, who has five failed marriages? There must be some kind of mess there!

But that’s not what Jesus did. He helped her. He said, “I know your pain. Five marriages adds up to five large wounds. That is causing you to live with a man whose name you don’t even really know. And he doesn’t know you. You’re just living with him. You’re trying to figure out some sort of security. And now you’ve got women talking behind your back on your way to the well, because they think you’re the town whore.

“You’ve got all these condemnations coming at you, but man, I just want to give you living water. I love you. I created you! I love everything about you.”

He looked at her and said, “I will give you living water and you will never thirst again. That’s what I will give you, because that’s what you need.” There was no judgment there. He just let her know.

What is the lesson here? Well, how should Christians help sinners? “Sinners” includes pretty much everyone, including ourselves. How should we relate? Should we box people on the ears with our Bibles?

Here’s an idea. How about loving on them? Isn’t love better than judgment?

How about trying to figure out why they are not living the way they do? Maybe, like the Samaritan woman, they are struggling with wounds of their own.

When you understand that, it will keep you from judging. When you <emtruly seek to understand the drama of a person’s life, and then love on them just as we see Jesus do, you won’t judge. You’ll figure out how to help them.

You’ll help them get that living water, the water that quenches their thirst.

The church needs to do a whole lot more of this. It’s changing, but we need to do more, because there’s always a drama unfolding. There’s a drama behind every face. Why not look at somebody and really see them? Why not ask them what’s going on? The answer will probably surprise you. It will probably reveal an opportunity to love on them and help them.

The point is to create relationships and provide help. When one of my sons is acting out, my initial impulse is to get angry with him. But I don’t. Instead I try to figure out why he is acting out. What lies behind his behavior? How does he feel? What story does he want to tell? What is hurting him? If I can fix that hurt, then the acting out stops.

That’s what Jesus did. He did it with the woman at the well. He did it with the prostitute. He did it with the woman caught in the act of adultery. He didn’t judge any of them. He even said, “I’m not going to condemn you.”

Think about that. Jesus was the only one that had the authority to condemn people, but He didn’t.

That’s why people came to Him.

When we can learn to do that, people will come to us.

Be There in Five Minutes

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Last time I discussed the importance of understanding that Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, requests your permission to enter your heart. He doesn’t just barge in! He wants your permission to come in and love on you. Without your permission, He can’t protect you.

As my Father, God looks at me and asks, “What’s the best way for me to parent Jeremy?” Obviously He does a lot for me, but He doesn’t ever enter without knocking. He waits for me to open the door.

I want to parent my sons the same way that God parents me. I knock at the doors of their hearts and wait for their permission to enter.

When one of my sons gets sent to his room, I have to literally stand at the door and knock!

I haven’t always done this. I’ve sent my son to his room and then stormed in without asking and shouted, “I don’t care if you give me permission or not! I am so mad! So I’m going to tell it to you how it is.” Just like him, I’m upset and reacting. I’ve let a nine year-old, or six year-old, or even four year-old child get into my head. That shows you that I have some immaturities!

Now I’m learning to do things differently. I’m learning to say, “Hey, have I got your permission to tell you why I sent you to your room? I have an idea for what we can do about it, and I’d like to hear your ideas too. Let’s talk about it.”

To do things differently, I start by saying, “You need to go to your room now. I’ll be down in five minutes.”

I’m doing two things here. First, I’m letting him calm down. I mean, he is not going to his room because he’s being such a good kid. He’s not going to his room because he’s talking nice to his mom or dad. He’s probably going to his room because he’s wound up, and he is reacting out of his anger or frustration. He’s going to his room because his attitude is causing problems. If I send him to his room, then he has a quiet place where he can calm down.

Second, I’m creating an opportunity for dialogue. I want to sit with my sons and talk to them. That’s why I promise to be down in five minutes. And I keep that promise. In five minutes, I walk down to his room, and I knock. I ask him if it’s okay for me to come in.

Sometimes he’ll say, “No!” I’m okay with that. I just say to him, through the door, “Okay. That’s okay. I’m going to leave, and I’m going to come back in five minutes and ask again.”

Nine times out of ten, when I come back the second time and knock, he gives me permission to enter. Then I can sit with him and we can talk. I say, “Do I have your permission to talk with you? Are you ready?” As soon as we’re at this point, he says yes. Then we have a great conversation. He talks to me, I talk to him, and we listen to each other. We dialogue about what happened.

Then I explain that I’m the grown-up. I tell him, “Hey, I understand what you’re saying, but you can’t do what you did. You can’t because I’ve told you not to.” I explain why he needs to do as I say. I tell him, “I understand how you’re feeling, and your mom and I take that very seriously. It means so much to us to know how you’re feeling. But that doesn’t mean that you can disrespect us, or talk to us the way you just did. We need you to understand that. Speaking disrespectfully is going to land you in a lot of trouble every time you do it. We need you to think about that.”

Every time, he hears me.

More on this next time. See you Wednesday.

Why Don’t You Control Your Kids?

I want my children to do the things that I want them to do. I don’t want them to do the things that I don’t want them to do. Sometimes it’s easier to create fear to get this done. But we’ve got to learn to parent with a grace mentality.

Parenting with grace does not mean that we don’t discipline our children when necessary. Sometimes they need discipline, and we have options. They might have to go their room. They might get grounded. They might lose their iPad for a little while, or another favorite technology. There are ways to discipline our kids, but we have to remember to do it in love.

Loving children means talking to them. Children have their own abilities, and they have their own thoughts. I try to understand my sons. I do things with them. I listen to them, I talk to them, and I relate to them. I let them make their own choices as situations arise, good or bad. If my son makes a bad choice, sure, there might be some discipline, especially if it’s something we’ve already discussed. But even if he has to go to his room or lose his iPad, I still want to talk to him. I want to sit with him and say, okay, what are we learning from this? It’s up to me to find out what he’s taking away from a situation, and to understand how he’s figuring things out.

I truly want to know my sons, and that’s why I deal with situations as they come up. I don’t try to control them. Sometimes I get that look from other parents. You know the one I mean. I get the look that says, “Man, what’s wrong with you? Why don’t you control your kid?”

It makes me feel a little bit guilty as a parent, but in reality, I don’t want to control my sons. I can’t! The more I try to control my sons, the more I’m going to wound them, and I can’t bring myself to do that. I am not going to wound my sons. I am going to protect them.

To protect them, I need their permission. Yes. We have to earn our children’s permission to speak into their lives. Without their permission, I can say whatever I want. “Well, I told him he shouldn’t have done that!” Right? Or, “How many times do I have to tell you?”

Here’s a favorite: “I told you so!” How many times have you said that? (Or wanted to?)

I could say it. It would to make me feel better as a parent. All I have to do is say, “I told you so,” and there, my hands are clean. My son made a bad choice, but it’s not like I didn’t tell him that he shouldn’t.

But if I don’t have permission to speak into my son’s life, then actually, I didn’t tell him anything. I said words, but those words didn’t get into his heart. If my words don’t get into his heart, then I’ll find myself wondering why he’s not listening to me — because he’s not. If I don’t have his permission, then he’s not listening. And therefore, I can’t protect him.

If we don’t get our children’s permission to speak into their lives, then we have to switch from disciplining and protecting them to punishing and scaring them. And we just can’t do that! Fear and punishment will wound them, and they will carry those wounds forward into their lives. Then you will find yourself wondering why they become unhappy. You’ll wonder why they act in unhealthy ways, or struggle in their relationships.

It all starts with how we first relate to them. Do we build relationships with them through acts of permission? Do we love them in grace and trust? Or do we use fear and punishment to control them? Our kids will see God as they see us, so if we decide to use fear and punishment, they will grow up with a fear of God that is deformed and dysfunctional. They will get that fear from us.

That’s why I talk to my sons the way that God talks to me. I talk to them with love. I walk with my sons the way that God walks with me. I walk with them in grace. I tell them, “I’m not going to punish you. I’m going to love you. Sometimes I’m going to discipline you, but it will be in love. I’m always going to tell you why. I’m always going to talk with you, and I’m always going listen to you. I’m always going to protect you.”

More on this next time. See you Tuesday.

Dad, I Messed Up

“Hey dad, I messed up.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, I was speeding. I got a ticket.”

“Okay. Right. So what are we going to do about that? Let’s talk about it.”

When this happens, this is how I want it to go. I’m not going to snap at my sons. I’m not going to say, “How could you possibly do that?” I want to create a safe environment for dialogue with my kids. I want my kids to be able to talk to me without fear. There has to be discipline, but not in an angry way.

How about saying this? “Okay, son, well here’s the deal. If you get another speeding ticket, I’m going to have to take away your license for a little bit. You need to understand that it’s not good to get speeding tickets.”

I’m going to help them understand that I’m not giving discipline out of anger, or because I think that they’ve committed some hideously unprecedented deed. They haven’t. A speeding ticket isn’t all that unusual. I mean, I’m no different! I’ve had a speeding ticket. So I’ll say, “Son, I got a speeding ticket too. And you know what, when I was sixteen I got in two wrecks in a row and I had my license taken away. Until you understand how important it is to drive safely, we have to do these things.”

I’m not going to hammer on my kids. You won’t hear me say, “How could you do that?” Or, “Why are you such an idiot? I’m tired of you driving fast!” Hammering, hammering, hammering them – that’s not going to help. There are many different ways to handle any situation. You can find one that keeps your children safe in their relationship with you. The judging, and the holier-than-thou stuff, has never worked. It will never work.

Jesus didn’t like it. It made Him angry! He blew up at the Pharisees, because they were holier-than-thou people. They were ones that said, “I’m the best.” They were the ones that said, “You have to follow us and do what we do, because we’re better than you.” They were the ones that said, “We’re going to police you, and if we catch you breaking our rules, we’re going to take you to the Sanhedrin. We’re going to haul you up before the high priests.”

Jesus criticized them constantly for this. He knew it never works. It never works. Thinking you’re better than everyone else will not draw people to you.

Your kids want to see someone who can say, “I messed up.” When they see that, they know that they can go to you and say, “I messed up too.” They know that they can come to you for help. They can trust that you’ll say, “You know what? You’re right. You messed up. I’ve made that same mistake. I know how it is. Let’s talk about it. How can I help you? I won’t judge you. There’s no condemnation. I want to love on you, man. I love you”

If I want to have a relationship like that with my sons when they are old enough to drive, then I have to start now. More on this next time. See you Tuesday.