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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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The Trees of Christmas

The Trees of Christmas

Do you enjoy decorating the Christmas tree?  Many people love them.  I like seeing the big ones in parks.  Our children have fun decorating our tree each year in our home.

We have a “Thanksgiving Tree” in our house as soon as November rolls around.  Then we re-decorate to make it our Christmas tree in December.  Use the same tree for nearly 2 months of the year.

Having family customs and traditions will make your home a place of special memories.  Your kids will love it and remember it.  Even if it is inconvenient for you, the memories will be worth it later.

The Christmas Story begins and ends with a tree. 

There are Several Trees in the Bible as we think about the Christmas Tree.

Our First Tree is in the Garden of Eden.

The Garden of Eden was full of Trees: Fur, Cedars, Chesnut, etc… :  Ezekiel message to Pharaoh included trees.  The King of Assyria was compared to these trees and Pharaoh was told he would become greater than these trees:  Ezekiel 31:8-9 says, The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chesnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. 9 I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him.  Pharaoh would also fall in his pride:  Ezekiel 31:18 To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.

The “Tree of Life” is mentioned in Genesis 2:9, And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

“The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” is also spoken of in Genesis 2:16-17.  God told Adam and Adam told Eve to not eat the fruit of this tree.  They could eat all the other tree fruit, except this one.

Eve was tempted by the Serpent and Adam chose to disobey the Lord.  They fell to the Temptation of the Tree:  Genesis 3:17 says,  And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

This resulted in SEPARATION from God: Genesis 3:2 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Much SORROW came about including being kicked out of the Garden of Eden: Genesis 3:24, So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Apparently, before sin, Adam could eat the fruit of the “Tree of Life.”  After sin – God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden so they could no longer eat the tree of life.

The Next Tree is in The Garden of Gethsemane.  

While not mentioned specifically, the Lord Jesus was praying to God the Father in the midst of a grove of Olive trees.  This location is the Mount of Olives.  There are many of the same trees alive today that were there when Jesus met with God the Father in prayer. The photo above is of one of those trees.

Matthew 26:36-39 tells us, Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

From Olive Oil to Olive Branches, much is symbolized in the Olive Tree.

  • A Symbol of Preservation. Genesis 8:11 declares, And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.  The Lord preserved the human race and the olive branch was a sign of hope that they survived the global flood and a new life was emerging following the flood.
  • A Symbol of Prosperity. Olive Oil;  we cook with it.  It is used in Old Testament ceremonies.  Even Candles (or lamps) were lit with it in the Old and New Testaments.
  • A Symbol of Peace. Olive Branch. Think United Nations logo.  There is an Olive Branch.

In the middle of the Olive Grove Jesus was making Preservation Possible, giving us the Prosperity of Heaven, and Praying for believers to have Peace with God.  Peace is possible only because of His blood that was shed on the third tree we will look at – the Golgotha Tree.  Because of the sin surrounding the first tree – an our own sin, Jesus came to earth to die on a tree.

Because of sin – we are at enmity against God.  In other words we are enemies towards God.  That is not a good place to be!  Observe the following:

  • John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
  • John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
  • 1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

 

The Third Tree is The Golgotha Tree; Otherwise known as “The Old Rugged Cross.”

  • Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
  • 1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
  • John 12:32-33 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

WE GO FULL CIRCLE.  We Begin with a Tree in the Garden of Eden,  We walked up the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed on His way to the Cross, and then– it was on that Old Rugged Tree – Jesus died for your sin.

  • The First tree was fashioned by God and sinfully visited by man.
  • The Last Tree was Fashioned by Man and selflessly visited by God.
  • The First Tree was Perfect and wonderful to see.
  • The Last Tree was splintered, ugly, and bloody – hard to look at.
  • The First tree opened mankind’s eyes to sin.
  • The Last Tree covers God’s eyes to our sin.
  • The first Tree was Adams Downfall.
  • The Last Tree was Jesus’s Death.
  • It was because of the First Tree That Jesus had to come to earth.
  • It is because of the Last Tree that we can go to Heaven.

After spending 3 entire days dead – Jesus rose again.  After dying on the cross, and paying the price for our sin – Jesus came out of the tomb.  Just as Jesus came the first time – He is coming again, a second time.

Believe in the First Coming of Jesus.  He came to die on the cross taking your sin.  Christmas time is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus who came to earth to make a way for you to be united with God.  Without Jesus we have no relationship or fellowship with God the Father.  While the first tree became the ruin of man, the last tree became the place of our salvation.

Why not accept Jesus by faith today?  Receive the free gift of eternal life.  It is free to us; yet paid for with the high price of the life of Jesus.

Don’t look at the Christmas Tree in your home the same way today.  Let it remind you of the first and last tree.  The Christmas Story begins and ends with a tree. 

 

 

 

Prayer, Principle, and Participation

Prayer, Principle, and Participation

The Lord has given America’s people a unique opportunity in the electoral system.  Many people throughout history have not had a say as to who would be in authority.  Elections are a tremendous responsibility the Lord has given.  Participation in each primary and election is good stewardship of this unique opportunity.

The Bible has much to say about government.  Observe:

  • Ecclesiastes 10:20 “Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.”
  • Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
  • Proverbs 29:2 “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”

The Constitution of the United States established this nation with a republic form of government.  Article IV, Section 4. states: “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government.”  Even our pledge declares:  “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.”

Republic – is defined by Encarta as a “political system with elected representatives.”  The representatives take the needs and issues of those they represent and enact legislation, justice, and safety to be established.  The representatives are not to be padding their wallets – they are benefiting the people they serve.  Individual people vote for the persons or platform most likely to represent some of their values, positions, and understandings.

Democracy – is defined by Encarta as “free and equal representation of people.”  Democracy is what these United States are trending toward.  When each individual voice is heard louder than the representative’s voice, we tend to get a “mob rule” mentality.  The people shouting the loudest tend to drown out the rest and instead of a larger portion of society being protected and represented, individual rights trump what is collectively best.  This shift in thinking away from the Constitution could be a contributor to the mass protests, and social re-engineering that is taking place.

Many people today have an expectation of society and government that is different than what the Republic offers.  The fragmentation of America is seen in responses to the National Anthem protests from “professionals” all the way down to high school athletes.  There is a globalism goal as people today marginalize the America we have learned of in history.

One of our early Presidents, John Adams aptly stated:  “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  This is a keen observation that is extremely relevant today.  In fact – we see this playing out in the news every day.  The majority of our nation has shifted away from Bible principles.  Because the fabric of America has shifted so drastically, we are seeing horrendous policy, detrimental games with the political electoral system, and much abuse of “power.”

I hope we have another election in 4 years.  If Jesus has not returned for believers by then, we may or may not have an election like we have grown accustomed to and may even take for granted.  This is why I am writing about participation today.

We have always been able to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”  Jesus has never been on a ballot.  If you think like me, the top of the ticket has people that I do not really like or approve of.  However there is much more at stake than liking the top of the ticket.  My feelings about individual candidates may not be the best way to make a decision.  I am choosing to vote based on future policy, not current personalities.

Perhaps it’s for the best that elections not be decided by our feelings.  The media is very successful at sensationalizing the candidates and causing secondary issues to be at the forefront of the conversation.  I challenge you to dig deeper.  See the facts and positions.  Avoid voting based on how you may feel.

Here are several factors that I am considering and hope you will prayerfully consider as well.  The first factor is on a personal level.  The second two factors are on a policy level.

For No Alcohol:  Proverbs 31:4-5 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.  Leaders must be especially careful to not be inebriated because they may be called upon for lifesaving measures at any given moment.  If a candidate is known as being a drunk or “tipsy” I choose to avoid that candidate.

Think of Daniel and Belshazzar in Daniel chapter 5.  Being consumed with alcohol leaves no room for good decision making.  That is why the police arrest drunk drivers.  Inebriated drivers place themselves and others in danger.

For Life, Not Death:  Psalm 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”  Psalm 139:13-14 “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”  Life is a gift from God.  Conception is a blessing the Lord gives a man and a woman.  It is a shame when children are viewed as an inconvenience and disregarded as garbage.  Some people treat their dogs and cats with more dignity than they treat the unborn.  The innocent unborn babies need a leader to cherish them.

The elderly can also become vulnerable.  They need a leader to ensure their lives are valued as well.  There could be a day – very soon, when health care is rationed out and the elderly are left to fend for themselves or die.  They need an advocate who values life.

For Nationalism, Not Globalism:  This is more evident each day as the Election Day approaches.  My prayer is “Even so come Lord Jesus” like John wrote in Revelation.  It is true that when the Tribulation begins, Antichrist will be revealed and he will consolidate all the countries, militaries, economies, religion, and more, into a One World Order.  Following the Rapture, the nations of earth will be ready for a United World.  I am not suggesting that we can stop or even slow down prophetical events.  I am suggesting that helping Antichrist today is not something that I am interested in.

The proposition of globalism is older than the Book of Genesis.  Nimrod consolidated the people of the world in order to control them and make himself their leader.  Following the global flood (Noah and his family survived on the Ark) God told the people to scatter the globe and repopulate the earth.  Nimrod rebelled and forced the people to live and serve him in Babel.  The Tower of Babel is the result.  This tall wonder stretched into the sky as man’s attempt to reach into the heavens and become a god.  The Lord put down the first attempt at a One World Order.  Read about it in Genesis 11.  Globalism is rooted in humanism.

This is already taking shape with carbon taxes, health care, surveillance, education mandates, and trade agreements.  I even heard on the news last week a USA military general say that he was willing to fight with Russia because the Russians are not wanting to assimilate with the rest of the world.  More laws, more central government, more dominions and greater rule of individual leaders are not the real need today.  As the government grows larger so does its control of the people.  As government widens it becomes more authoritarian; especially of ideas and movements leaders may perceive as a threat to their power.  The real need of the hour is more God – not more government.

Both the life issue and the nationalism issue will be greatly impacted by the Presidential appointees to the Unites States Supreme Court.  These issues will swing to either more death and more globalism or more life and more nationalism based on how many honorable judges will be appointed.  Have you seen the judges lately?  It is possible that nearly 3 could be replaced in the next 4 years.  Check each presidential candidates proposals as to whom they would nominate to this lifetime position if elected.

No candidate has ever been or ever will be a perfect choice.  The platforms may not be much better either.  Be sure to notice however the stark contrasts in each platform on these important issues.  You may not find agreement on many other issues, but the issues listed above are a great considerations as you plan to participate in this election cycle.  Listed below are some website to help you with the platforms.

PLEASE REMEMBER:  No matter who wins the election this year, the Lord is still God. Proverbs 21:1 encourages us by saying:  “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” 

We probably would not have voted for David, Solomon, Nebuchadnezzar, or Pharaoh (Study their lives and policies to see what I mean), but God put them in their respective governments to fulfill His will.

Pray for mercy on this nation – then participate in the election.  Voting is stewardship of opportunity.

Below are several sites that offer articles and voting guides based on facts and not on how we feel.  I hope they will help you as you decide to cast your vote this year.