Tag Archives: change

One Drink Later

One Drink Later

A military chaplain once told me a story of a teenager who enlisted.  This recruit grew up in a conservative church like ours with parents who loved Jesus. One night he, with his new army buddies he went out on the town.  He had never had a drop of alcohol in his life.  They coaxed him into drinking.  The next day, he woke up in a jail cell with a blood-stained shirt on.  He had no memory of what happened.  A fight had broken out in the bar and he stabbed a man – who later died.  At the age of 19 he had a life sentence.  He sobbed – “IF I had only listened to my parents, teachers and pastor.”  One night. One choice. One drink led to a lifetime of sorrow. We make meaningful decisions each day.

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.  1 Corinthians 6:12

The following stats are from NIAAA who monitor Alcohol consumption in America.

“Many young people drink alcohol…

  • By age 15, about 33 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.1
  • By age 18, about 60 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.1
  • In 2015, 7.7 million young people ages 12–20 reported that they drank alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month.

Youth ages 12 to 20 often binge drink…

  • People ages 12 through 20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States.3 Although youth drink less often than adults do, when they do drink, they drink more. That is because young people consume more than 90 percent of their alcohol by binge drinking. Binge drinking is consuming many drinks on an occasion (see box). Drinking alcohol and binge drinking become more prevalent as young people get older.
  • 1 million young people reported binge drinking (for males 5 or more drinks and for females 4 or more drinks on the same occasion within a few hours) at least once in the past month.2
  • 3 million young people reported binge drinking on 5 or more days over the past month.”

The damage done to the brain and thinking processes of a person who is consuming alcohol cannot be denied.  For reasons of pleasure, pain, or forgetting a problem, some people resort to drinking.  While mainstream culture promotes and makes alcohol popular, the true issues it and other substance abuse cause is seldom told or not fully understood in stark reality.  Broken homes, bruised bodies, car wrecks, and poor judgment are frequent and extremely common.

Many people I have counseled with who grew up in homes where alcohol ruled, decided against drinking alcohol themselves because of the first-hand problems they saw it create.  Alcohol does not “cause for a good time” like some people say.  It creates at atmosphere of foolishness and impaired judgment.  People can have fun at parties and have a good time hanging out with friends because of the people they are with and the things they are doing together – not because of a mind changed under the power and effect of alcohol.  To say: “I can’t have a good time without drinking” is one way of devaluing friendships.  Alcohol is in control of a person who says things like that. Enjoy the moment with the people you love.  Who wouldn’t want to remember “such a good time” to have good memories instead of foggy memories?

The Apostle Paul is teaching the Corinthian church that even if something is lawful – it does not mean it is good for me.  Even if I can – does not mean that I should.  Allowing your mind and body to be controlled by any substance or anything out side of the body is a form of addiction.  Drugs, vaping, smoking, drinking alcohol, or any other addiction is not something that you want to be subject to.  One drink later… you could be enslaved.

Parents – do all you can to help your teen not take their first drop of alcohol.  Warn about the dangers.  Teach the Bible admonitions.  Adults, purpose with the Lord’s help to abstain from drinking.  Your thoughts will be clearer, you will sin less, do less harm or evil than while “under the influence” and you will be better prepared for life because your mind is working more efficiently.

Consider in conclusion 2 of the many Bible passages giving ample warning:

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Proverbs 23:31-35 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder (Snake). Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spiritual Discernment

Spiritual Discernment

“The story is told of an atheistic barber who was talking to a pastor. The barber asked the pastor, “If there is a loving God, how can He allow poverty, war, and suffering?”

Just at that moment a disheveled man crossed the street. The pastor said, “You are a barber and claim to be a good one. How can you allow that man to go unkept and unshaven?”

“He never gave me a chance!” the barber replied.

To which the pastor said, “Exactly, men are what they are because they reject God!””

There are many things in life that a person will not be able to understand apart from the “new birth” that takes place at the moment of salvation.  The Christian is made a new man (while living in his old body).  He, with the guidance of the Word of God and the Spirit of God has a whole new sphere of understanding that opens up to him.

1 Corinthians 2:14 teaches, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Clearly, Christian men and women are to possess spiritual discernment.  Sadly, many times we do not exhibit sound thinking and reasoning. Why?  Why do some Christians not exhibit good reasoning skills? Here are three thoughts as to why.

  1. We lose our objectivity when we are more in love with the world or the things of the world. 1 John 2:15 says, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
  2. We lose our Christian rational when we do not know the Bible like we should. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. One reason some Christians do not make good decisions is because their devotional and Bible educational life are not what it should be.
  3. We lose our clear mind when our soul is spiritually dry. A parched soul trying to find satisfaction with world relationships, philosophies and things cannot be quenched by anything other than the Word of God.  When people lost in desserts are found after surviving death, they are dehydrated and deranged.  They clearly cannot think right in that dry condition.  David, the shepherd boy did not want to dry up spiritually.  While out in the wilderness he said in Psalm 63:1-2, O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 

Paramount to any relationship is real communication.  Prayer and Bible reading are vital aspects of your growth and development as a Christian.  Enriching your fellowship with God is dependent on a devotional life.

When we read and study the Bible, it penetrates into our soul, affects our mind, and enlightenes our decision making.

Many men reading this do not study the Word like they should.  As a result, their wives feel lonely and their children feel displaced.  A man like that is spiritually coasting, hoping that his home does not fall apart.  Some women scanning this article read Facebook more than they read the Bible.  Their discernment is lessened, and they have become more gullible to false teachings about health, relationships, and what is valuable in life.

Pray today.  Read the Bible today.  Proverbs and James are great places to learn God’s wisdom.  Ask the Lord to give you a discerning spirit.  Then make your discernment even stronger with Bible study.

 

 

 

 

 

Mind Games in Relationships

Mind Games in Relationships

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind…”  Ephesians 4:23

One professional aptly stated that: “At age 20 we think: ‘What does everyone think about me.’  At age 40 we think: ‘It does not matter what other people think about me.’ And at age 60 we finally realize and think: ‘No one has been thinking about me anyway.’”

True.  Most of our thoughts about the perceptions others have of us are self-perceptions.  Most people are actually thinking about themselves and not thinking about you.  Why is it that we can be so consumed with perception and what others are thinking?

Testimony is one reason.  We should have a good testimony that is consistent with the Bible and that is exalting to Jesus.  Testimony does not mean that people are always thinking of us.  When they see us, or talk with us we should be edifying and encouraging.  When the Spirit of God uses your testimony to help another person, they may think of you for a moment, but otherwise, they are not constantly thinking about you.

Most of the time however, the reason we are so “self-conscious” of what others think or may think about us has to do with our personal pride.  Pride can create “Mind Games” than consume our time and damage needed relationships.  This pride takes form in several ways.  Here are two:

  • Do you know someone that needs constant affirmation for the most basic tasks in life? As our children grow, they will ask from time to time “Are you proud of me? I just made the ball go in the basket.  I just painted a watercolor, etc…”  As we get older the need for affirmation should adjust to find value in “who we are” in Christ – not merely what we have done or can do with our actions.  Insecure people seek the “pat on the back” in an obsessive way.  We all need encouragement and should actively encourage others, but insecure people are consumed with peer affirmation to the point that it paralyses any positive progress in their spiritual life and in their family/acquaintance relationships.
  • Like a bull in a china shop, overconfidence is bullish, brash, and bold in detrimental ways.  This self confidence is the opposite of biblical humility.  Its ego is fed by the projection of a certain “image” or perception the confident one wants other people to think about him/her.  This boldness can be dismissive of other people and cause division in relationships.   The ego must be fed at all costs because “I have an image to keep up…”  This confidence can be in position, ability, wealth, or social standing.  Self-righteousness is also a big contributor in a religiously minded person. Sometimes people who are overconfident, trying to impress people, have nothing in their life really worth bragging or boasting about.  Many times, they have shallow victories with no real success; but they want others to think that they are successful.  It’s another form of pride and is also one manifestation of an insecurity.
  • Finding the balance in this pendulum of emotions and thinking is found by centering in on Jesus. We can be emotional and relational extremists in the thinking of our mind if we do not find a Bible balance.

In one long sentence to the Christians in the church at Corinth, Paul writes 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 which declares, “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

Notice that our sufficiency, security, and confidences is in God, not in ourselves. It takes humility to see this in a personal life.

Don’t let mind games swing your emotions and relationships from side to side.  Reject the personal pride that causes faulty and sinful thinking.  Replace pride with humility and a desire to point people to Jesus.  Sharpen your testimony and ensure that your life (evident to others and in your mind) is not self-absorbed.  Let the Word of God and the Spirit of God “renew” your mind each day.  Purpose with God’s help to have accurate, Biblical, and right thoughts about yourself and others.

Other people are generally thinking about themselves.  Stop thinking about yourself too and learn ways to help yourself and others think about Jesus. His Word. And His Father.

 

 

 

 

Seasons of Change

Seasons of Change

The leaves are falling.  Soon the snow will be flying.  Before long, the grass will shove through the earth and the flowers will blossom.  The heat of summer will emerge, and the fall will be here before we know it.  Seasons make the year interesting.  Just as with the seasons and natural progression of hot and cold that God established, the Christian life and God’s church also goes through changes.

Change is something that human nature is resistant to.  We get comfortable.  We become accustomed.  What is “Normal” is what we have known to this specific point in our lives.  We can arrive at “new normal” when we willingly adjust our expectations.

Change in the Bible is good.  If you are a Christian, the specific moment you trusted Jesus for salvation, a big change took place.  You passed from “death unto life!” In John 5:24 Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Change for the Christian is good. For example: we are to be “transformed” (Changed from the inside out) by the renewing of our minds in Romans 12:1-2.

The Christian is to be continually changing to look more like Jesus.  In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul teaches, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Change is good.  Individual Christians are changing to look more like Jesus.  Churches also go through changes.  One preacher aptly stated: “Churches are always in transition.”  Very true.

A local church cannot remain stagnant.  A church must strive to be vibrant, meeting the edification needs for its members and the evangelism needs of its community.

Here are three areas a church can benefit from change:

  1. A renewed spirit of unity. We are to strive together to fulfill the Great Commission. We are unified by Christ around the Gospel.  Philippians 1:27, commands, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Perhaps this humorous story will help: “Intending to raise cattle, a family from New York bought a ranch out West. When their friends visited and inquired about the ranch’s name, the would be rancher replied: “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one of our sons wanted the Flying-W, and the other liked the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the BAr-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y.”

“But where are all your cattle?” the friends asked.

“None survived the branding.””

There are casualties in a church when the members are not united around the main thing. Don’t be distracted in your service to the Lord!  Preferences, nuances, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” And personality issues should not divert your attention.  Keep serving Jesus.  Stay united to the cause of Christ and do not allow side issues to get your eyes off Jesus.

  1. A restored community of trust. Paul’s ministry even encountered seasons of disunity and discouragement.  When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, some of the believers were divided.  Read 1 Corinthians 1 for more details.  Some liked Paul’s preaching, others preferred Apollos (A great orator), and others enjoyed the passion of Peter.  The division was causing problems in the church.

Paul makes a hasty trip to Corinth in between these letters to try to resolve their issues.

Later, in 2 Corinthians, we find Paul sending another letter, not to elevate himself, but to elevate Jesus and help the people start to trust God again.

2 Corinthians 3:1-5 says, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles (letters) of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? 2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”

The church belongs to Jesus.  He purchased her with His own blood.  We can trust the church to God.  Jesus can overcome any doctrinal, personal, or preferential problems a church may face.  Paul knew that he was not sufficient to solve the division, but Jesus was (and is) sufficient.   Paul was not boasting in his ability, but in the fact that these Christians had started to yield their sin, personalities, and problems to the Lord and God healed their church.  Jesus said: “I will build my church.”  We can trust Him!

  1. A revived attitude of respect. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 instructs, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”

Pastors are not dictators.  If pastors were dictators, then no church member would ever miss a service, and no one would ever not bring their tithe to church, and members would bring Snickers candy bars to every church function. Lol… if you like.  The role of pastor is that of “Servant – Leader.”  It is an accurate and healthy description.

Pastors are to be gentle shepherds leading and feeding the flock.  Sometimes that includes protecting the sheep from wolves (in sheep’s clothing), false doctrine (bad spiritual food to eat), and dangerous pasture fields (emergent church models).

There should be a mutual respect among the members of a congregation for one another.  Church members should be trusting the deacons.  Church members and deacons should have an attitude of trust with the pastoral staff as well.

One service I was preaching through this passage in 1 Thessalonians 5, and suggested that it helps the pastor of the church when the church members are not fighting or bickering and that when a church was at peace, the true work of the ministry can thrive.  It is a true thought.

A thoughtful man, a genuine student of the Bible, suggested to me that the peace among the members was also connected to their respect or lack of respect for the pastor.  Read that verse again please.

“Esteem” means to “deem, consider, or count.”  A faithful church member must be able to count the pastor as respectful and worthy or he will not be able to learn, grow, or develop in that church.  A result of disrespect is that the pastor is not able to lead as effectively as he should.  Why can he not lead effectively?  Because of the lack of peace.  A pastor constantly putting out fires cannot commit the time called for – for the actual work of the ministry.  It could look like this old saying: “Too many chiefs – not enough Indians.”  Let the pastor be the “Servant – Leader” overseeing the overall work of the church.

These are 3 examples where change is good!  If these areas are lacking – Change!  Change to the glory of God.

  • Are you united with your church family in the purpose of the Gospel?
  • Do you have an attitude of trust for the other members, deacons, and pastoral staff?
  • Is there a mutual respect that you have for the church leadership that creates a peaceful environment?

Change is good.  Christians as well as churches go through “Seasons of change.”  Transitions and changes are sometimes difficult and even turbulent because human nature does not like change; but when we see Jesus – it will be worth it all.  When we make the needed adjustments as individuals and as a church, the Lord is glorified.

And. His. Work. Will. Continue.

 

 

 

 

Time And Growth

Time And Growth

Recently I read about an incident that occurred back in 2004.  A fight broke out among the residents of a nursing home in their dining hall.  One man was playing with the lettuce in the serving line with his bare hands.  From that a fight ensued.  A 62-year-old and an 86-year-old started to trade “punches.”  Then a 79-year-old was bitten in the arm.  The mother of the 62-year-old man was cut in the arm and a 92-year-old man was shoved to the floor as other residents ran away from the dining hall.

The point of sharing this story is that time and age does not ensure a person grows “out of” anger issues.  We cannot hope that one day the wrath of a person is appeased because he or she becomes a certain age.  The only way to grow out of any sin – is to grow more like Jesus.  What we do in and with our time, is more important than how much time has expired.

Ephesians 4 clearly teaches how to replace the sin with righteousness and goodness.  God can help you grow in these areas!

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Please observe the first sin listed: Bitterness.  Wrath, anger, clamour (outcry of grief), evil speaking (vile and blaspheme), and malice (badness) are all a result of the first sin: Bitterness.

Bitterness leads to faulty vision, angry thinking, and heated words.  Time does not heal bitterness.  Jesus alone can heal bitterness.

A life submitted to God will bring the hurts, pains, resentments, and seeds of bitterness to God and let God take care of them.  When we hold onto our “rights,” our pride, and our bitter spirit, the bitterness sprouts up into a garden of deceit, pain, and turmoil that chokes out all the positive things God is doing in our lives.  Nurturing bitterness ensures a garden of sin and grief is cultivated in a person’s life.

Replace the bitterness with forgiveness.  Replace the anger and wrath with kindness. Replace the harsh words with tenderheartedness.

While some people seem to “mellow out” over time, it is not just because of the passing of days. Time alone is not enough to grow out of sin and to find healing from the control of sin.  Growing in Jesus and learning to follow his example of love, compassion, and forgiveness is the only way to see victory over the sin of bitterness and anger.  What we do with the time God gives to grow closer to Him is what really counts.

 

 

 

Prayer Changes Us

Prayer Changes Us

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  John 15:7

“A fifth grade boy who had heard a sermon on persistence in prayer was praying by himself in his room one night. As his dad passed his door, he heard the boy praying over and over again, “Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.” The next day, the dad asked his son what he was doing. The boy replied that he had given the wrong answer on a test for the capital of Mexico, and he was praying that Tokyo would become the capital of Mexico.”

Some people pray trying to “fix” a situation or change the way things are.  What if prayer changed us more than the situation?  It is very possible. Observe.

  1. When we pray the will or Word of God, we are “in tune” with God’s plan.
  2. When we pray for the will of God, we are asking for more than merely what we think is best.
  3. When we pray in the will of God, we are demonstrating faith and confidence that “His way is best.”
  4. When we pray the Word of God, we are allowing His presence in us to be more evident.
  5. When we pray in God’s will, we are able to rest, have peace, and totally rely on His working it out. All the while, the practice of prayer is also changing us.

While pray does “change things” – it can also change us!

 

 

 

 

 

Readers Are Leaders

“Readers are Leaders”

The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.  2 Timothy 4:13

“Readers are Leaders” It is a thoughtful statement.  As learned as Paul was, he continued to read the Bible (Parchments) and books.  This is a good example for us today.  The Bible teaches us to continually grow spiritually, personally, relationally, and professionally.  Reading is a good way to accomplish this.  Make sure you are “especially” reading the Bible.  In addition, here are several suggestions for your library.  In a day of disclosures, please note: While recommended, not everything may be endorsed.

 

General:

The Calvary Road, Hession

I Am a Church Member, Rainer

Church Still Works,  Chappell & Reed

The Pastor in Prayer, Spurgeon

Be Committed, Weirsbe

The Power of His Presence, Rogers

How God Answers Prayers, Towns

Key Words in the Christian Life, Wiersbe

Understanding the Times, Ham

The Plan B Prayer, Zacharias

 

Marriage:

A Firm Foundation, Chappell

A Faith Full Marriage, Chappell

The Right Romance in Marriage, Rice

The Love Dare, Kendrick

How to Save Your Marriage Alone, Wheat

Christian Living in the Home, Adams

The Five Love Languages, Chapman

The Christian Home, Sexton

Making Home Work, Chappell

Live Lighter, Love Better, Schmidt

The Love Dare Day by Day, Kendrick

 

Retirees:

Fourth Quarter, Sisk

How Do You Feel Today, Harness

 

Parenting:

Basics of Biblical Parenting, Chappell

Do You Mind If Your Kids Don’t, Rice

Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tripp

 

Ladies:

The Choice is Yours, Chappell

A Joyful Heart, Gibbs

Wisdom from Women in the Bible, Maxwell

 

Men:

The Steps of a Good Man, Sisk

Lest You Fall, Hummell

Turn Away Wrath, Hummell

One Being a Servant of God, Wiersbe

Living Beyond Your Capacity, Chappell

Learning From The Giants, Maxwell

Great Hunting Stories, Chapman

 

Teens:

Discover Your Destiny, Schmidt

Just Friends, Mike Ray & Cary Schmidt

Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn for Teens, Maxwell

Money Matters for Teens, Burkett & Wooding

Boyhood and Beyond: Practical Steps to Becoming a Man, Schultz

 

Young Adults:

Boundaries in Dating, Cloud & Townshend

Before the Ring, Coleman

Starting Out Right, Burkett

 

Finances:

How to Manage Your Money, Larry Burkett

Giving & Tithing, Larry Burkett

Never Enough?,  Blue & Guess

 

What book are you currently reading?

What book has helped you in your Christian life the most that you read in the last year?

Please leave your encouraging comments.