Tag Archives: alcohol

The Danger of Walking on the Wild Side

I’ve recently watched a few Christian friends, and by watching I don’t mean “watching” in the sense of waiting for them to fall or judging their walk. I watch because they’re drawing attention to themselves and the fact that they are drawn to the wild side. To my knowledge, they’re not actively participating in a bad lifestyle, but they’re fascination of it brings me to the realization that I too, and likely every child of God, can be drawn into a desire to walk on the wild side. And there is a danger.

Romans 11:24-26

For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, untill the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungoliness from Jacob.

Apostle Paul is speaking to the Jews about the wild side of the Gentiles. They didn’t appreciate it. They’d always steered clear of the Gentiles; and now, this Gentile loving Jew was telling them that they should embrace them and call them brothers and sisters. What? That rebel nation is now God’s people too. Yes! Hallelujah. Because we were made new. We were not a heathen branch grafted into a healthy tree that would have weakened it. But rather we were a newly formed branch, not formed by nature which grows wild, but rather formed by the Creator with purpose. I just wrote myself happy!

The Jews were represented by the olive tree, a valuable, fruit bearing tree. But their focus wasn’t on the fruit, it was on their status as the original tree. Apostle Paul was trying to reintroduce them to the Fruit Bearer. Christ. The long awaited Messiah that they had rejected because they didn’t understand the mystery of the work that God had done. They didn’t want to understand. That would be key.

And sometimes we don’t want to understand the price God paid to turn us from that wild branch, into a Holy Nation. You see, there’s a side of me that can look back on the wild side of life and think “that was fun.” But then I remember what life was really like outside the True Branch. And nothing on the backside of where I am now, seems appealing. I don’t want to mar the beautiful Branch that I have been allowed to become a part of.

That’s what scares me about the friends of mine that find joy in reliving the wild side memories and walk dangerously close to marring the branch.

Glorifying Sin Mars the Branch

When someone speaks of the past life’s sin in a manner that makes it sound fun and exciting, it can cause the unsaved to think that we’re missing out on something by being saved. That’s a mark on the branch, because it is the furthest from the truth.

I lived unsaved 34 years. I had plenty of experiences in life that the world deems as fun. I also know the miserable state I was in at the time. That somehow gets forgotten by those glorifying those days.

But now… Glory to God I’m having more fun, and more excitement than I ever had pre-salvation. Hands down, it is not an exaggeration!

Glamorizing Sin Mocks the Branch

That thought makes me nauseous. But for me it’s what happens when I hear someone laughing and joking about sin. Whether it’s their sin from a previous life, or someone else living in sin. There’s nothing funny about it.

What someone views as a funny story about a drunk, reminds me of the lives I’ve seen ruined, absolutely destroyed because of alcohol. When a Christian speaks of alcohol as “not sinful,” when drank in moderation, I wonder who they’re trying to convince.

While few people joke about drugs, the legalization of marijuana reminds me of a night at 15 years of age, I almost died because someone laced mine with PCP.  You may say one has nothing to do with the other. I disagree. Because one is a gateway drug to the other. Just as beer is the gateway to a stronger fix for an alcoholic. And one time just may be the end to a life that wasn’t saved. It’s a game that is too dangerous to play, and certainly doesn’t need glamorized by God’s people.

Glossing over Sin Moves the Branch

Making light of any sin, or looking at the wild side of life as a fond memory causes an instability in the life of the believer not just the unsaved. I’ve watched it play out too many times.

I heard a preacher mock the “Baptist” about not being drinkers for months and months, and then I watched him fall to alcoholism. He did eventually win the victory over it, and I praise God for that, but he paid a high price.  

I watched as a woman made light of her indiscretions and almost destroyed her marriage.

I was broken hearted when a preacher friend fell to a sexual sin. I also remember his last sermon, the title of it was “Finishing Well.” He did not.

I didn’t get my 20 plus year badge of the Christian faith without being broken hearted, hurt, and yes, I too have fallen because I’ve walked too close to the wild side. It’s too dangerous to make light of and Satan loves it every time a Christian “fondly” remembers a day of sin. Don’t give him one drop of glory.

Remember what the price for that sin was. We are not heathen branches grafted into a healthy tree. We were made new! Let us act like it.

Liquid Lies

Four Reasons People Fall into Substance Abuse

According the Center for Disease Control statistics of 2015, West Virginia had the highest per capita drug-related death rate in the U.S. In 2015, the state saw 41.5 deaths per 100,000 people attributed to drug use. Researchers from the CDC found that the increase in drug-related deaths in West Virginia from 2014 to 2015 was considered statistically significant, with an increase of 16.9 percent. While the rest of the country wrestles with an alarming rate of illicit drug use, West Virginia is truly on the front lines of this battle.

On Friday evening our church attended an event called “The Judgement House” at the 14th Avenue Gospel Mission in Parkersburg, West Virginia. We drove an hour, broke bread at a local pizza establishment and then made our way to the very well performed Judgement House drama on the subject of overdose.  The drama storyline was that of a girl addicted to drugs following the murder of her mother, her own addiction, the attempted intervention of family, and her life failures. All of which eventually leads to the death of her brother, her overdose and the eternal ramifications of their life decisions. It was a soul stirring event because for me. It was also one that caused me to examine myself, God’s grace and consider the fate of people in our community.

There are countless reasons for people falling into addiction and sin, but I believe each of them can fall under four subcategories.

Four Reasons I’ve seen people turn to drugs and alcohol and not to Jesus

  1. Reason One: Familiarity
    1. Constant advertisements, store displays and discussion of the good times of sin. Even the bible says in Hebrews 11:25 that there is “joy in sin for a season.” If your of any age at all you know this. However, there’s also the morning after and the results of any decisions made. It may be life altering for you or for someone else. You may not see the destruction of it for years down the line when your decision, and acceptance of it as natural behavior, leads to the destruction in your own child’s life.
    2. 1 Peter 2:11– Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
    3. 1 John 2:16– For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
    4. 1 Corinthians 15:33– Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Questions:

Do you see the commercial effects of familiarity in your life? Store, television, internet?

Do your friends make poor decisions and how much are you drawn into their decision making?

How do you think they affect you?

Do they cause you to accept the behavior as “normal” and not see it for the sin that it is?

  1. Reason Two: Escape Reality
    1. In the storyline the girl could forget her mother’s death and her father’s grief when she took the drugs. Although in reality it just mask the pain, it was still there.
    2. Escaping reality can also be placing the blame on everyone else. The girl in our story blamed her father not being there for her at her mother’s death. Yet she had her brother. It’s easy to look at the people who let us down and discourage us as the reason we make poor decisions, but none of that is a valid excuse with God.
    3. This doesn’t have to be speaking of the extreme life of addiction. It can also be speaking of our behavior when someone lets us down. Perhaps we’re rude, disrespectful, or we won’t do what we know is right to do because the world deserves it or we’re “having a bad day.” That too will be an accountable moment before God if in our decision making we affected the lives of others.
    4. Satan’s goal is to convince that we are alone. And then he attacks in our weakest hour, with our own weakness.
    5. 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
    6. Proverbs 20:1Wine [is] a mocker, strong drink [is] raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Questions:

If you examine your life, are you placing blame on someone else and excusing bad behavior?

  1. Reason Three: Attention Seeking
    1. There are people who will look for any reason to get all eyes on them. Even to the point of self-destruction. They love when people feel sorry for them or perhaps they’ve bought Satan’s lie that the drugs and alcohol make them a more enjoyable, braver character.
    2. It’s easy to fall into an attention seeking trap. We all want to be loved and sometimes that’s at our expense and sometimes that’s at the expense of others. Our words can be just as harmful.
    3. James 3:10 ~ Outof the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
    4. By placing attention on ourselves, we make others feel less and for certain God is not being glorified.
    5. John 5:44 ~ How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only

Questions:

Does our decisions honor God?

Do we excuse sin for the sake of comedy? (cussing, off color jokes, conversations about topics Christians shouldn’t have?)

  1. Reason Four: Rebellion
    1. A reason as old as time. It began in the garden when Eve seen the fruit and Satan convinced her it was good and would make her as wise as God, and then Adam ate it so his wife wouldn’t be alone.
    2. Not doing what we know to be right is rebellion.
    3. It’s turning away from God and toward the sin. God looks upon rebellion pretty harshly.
    4. 1 Samuel 15:23 ~ For rebellionis as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
    5. We tend to make rebellion glamorous.
    6. 1 Corinthians 10:13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].
    7. Galatians 5:16– [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Questions:

Is there an area of rebellion in your life?

The acronym
FEAR

It often boils down to F.E.A.R.

  1. We fear not fitting in to the public norm. Rather than living the godly standard.
  2. We fear that reality is worse than our imagination. It’s actually reverse.
  3. We fear we’ll be overlooked. Rather than desiring God be seen.
  4. We fear the world more than we fear God.

This blog was my Sunday morning teen lesson following the Judgement House, which is why it’s in outline format. Feel free to use this in your own ministry!

Don’t Limit God

Spirit limit

If only I had failed God once and learned my lesson I’d consider myself in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in; that shape being a sinner saved by grace. But no, I have to again and again fail God, beg mercy, feel minty fresh for about 30 seconds and then sin again. Why are we such a fickle lot of people? Christian people that is. Am I alone? I’m pretty sure I’m not.

This past week a well-known preacher, Perry Noble, and one that I had followed, fell. I loved this guy. He wasn’t perfect and I didn’t agree with everything he said but I loved his style of preaching and his “realness.” The problem with being real is it also makes you pretty transparent. Because you’ll say anything. If it comes into your mind, it’s usually out of your mouth before you give a second thought.  This was his style. He was funny and charismatic and above all, thousands of souls came to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ through him. I believe that. His words stirred my soul and I believe God used Him. But he fell, because he, like I, am human. His transparency gave me a spiritual insight to him that said “proceed with caution.” He dabbled too close the snake pit, and that my friend has gotten many a preacher in trouble. Alcohol was his downfall, and I won’t even get started on that because I could write for days! And it’s not the point in this blog. My point is the limits we put on God is through sin’s hold. It’s not the sin itself, it’s the hold it get on us.

Israel let God down again and again. But His great mercy brought them through. Read what David said in Psalm 78

But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.  For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 78:38-41

God understood Israel and He understands us. He knows we are weak vessels and that we fall, but the key is to move forward away from the snake pit. Turning back doesn’t stop God’s forgiveness… He’ll forgive again and again. But He won’t bless again and again. We limit Him. Even God has limits, they’re called “us.”

He desires to pour His blessings down upon us, bring revival into our church houses but our turning back puts a speed limit on the Holy Spirit. Turning back is different things for different people. For my preacher man that fell, he got too close a substance that fuels the fires of Hell. Alcohol. I hate it and everything it stands for. That was his sin, I have my own, and you have yours. And for the tribe of preachers that want to cast this preacher to the curb… God sees you too. God Who is full of compassion forgives, you who are full of pride will point and condemn the man God forgave.

My point to ponder is this: Don’t limit God. He forgave the sin, now move on. There’s a new speed sign up ahead that says “full throttle!”  Don’t turn back.