How We Stop Short in the Debate on Christians and Alcohol

I came across this article on Facebook a few years back “Can a Christian drink alcohol?” It did an excellent job of warning people of the very real dangers of alcohol. It’s important. People need to hear those dangers loud and clear. Alcohol, when abused, causes much pain. My grandfather was an alcoholic and was apart of AA his whole life. I understand.

The problem with the debate of alcohol is every person I have heard preach against it has stopped short of the real problem alcohol represents. In stopping short, they make alcohol out to be evil when there is nothing in scripture or in 2000 years of church writing that would show alcohol as evil. Alcohol is not evil; the abuse of it is. The excessive reliance on it is. Alcohol does not ruin marriages as the author of the above link purports. It’s something far more sinister that ruins marriages. Just talking about the adverse side effects of alcohol as he does isn’t even intellectually honest.

I grew up in a church culture that, through proof-texting and liberal interpretation of the scripture taught that Jesus never drank wine, he only drank grape juice. I have also been in situations where I have been teased by Christians because I was not drinking alcohol. Both are wrong. We stop short in the debate over the consumption of alcohol when we fail to communicate and that the problem is not fermented grapes; the problem is you and me. We hammer on the symptom but fail to address the cancer far below.

Love how Tim Keller, in his commentary on Romans, addresses the Idols of our hearts.

In the book of Romans, Paul develops a profound anatomy of sin. He shows us that sin goes much deeper than mere behavioral violations; it begins at the motivational level. This is why, as he will go on to explain in Romans 8, sin cannot be resisted through mere willpower. The only cure to sin through the application of gospel truth by the Holy Spirit, at the motivational level.

1. Our root problem is our unwillingness to glorify Godto give him the centrality that is his due

2. Therefore, we choose to create things to be our “gods.” In order to deny God control of our lives, each of us chooses a created thing (or things) to live for and worship instead.

3. Therefore, each life is distorted by a life lie. At the base of all our life choices, our emotional structure, and our personality is a false belief system centered on an idol—the belief that something besides God can give us the life and joy that only God can give. We have “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (1:25). We look to something besides Jesus to be our “savior,” our “righteousness,” the thing that makes us good and acceptable.

4. But each life is a kind of bondage. No one is actually “free,” for we must serve whatever it is we have decided to live for—so people have “worshiped and served created things” (1:25). Since every human being must have an ultimate “good” by which all other choices are made, and values are judged, we all “offer [our]selves” to something (6:16). Therefore, every human being is in “covenant service” to a “lord” that works out its will through our bodies (6:16-19).

5. Even after conversion, our old, false saviors/lords and their attendant false belief systems still distort our lives—unless the power of the Holy Spirit continually renews our minds and hearts (7:14-25).

6. The key to freedom is the application of the gospel of grace. “Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (6:14).

The debate we rarely have in Christian circles is what we are clinging to more than Jesus. Why, when we feel scared or lonely, do we turn to the abuse of alcohol to numb our pain. The cancer below the symptom of alcohol abuse is sin. Pure and simple. I have counseled many many marriages, and you know what destroys far more marriages than alcohol? iPhones, iPads, and computers. I don’t see people tearing up Facebook to ban and demonize those. Lets bring the debate back to what the whole of scriptures are trying to get at and that is the idols we have lodged in our hearts, enthroned were Christ alone should be. When we understand what Christ has done for us, we are free not to drink because having a beer doesn’t make you godly, cool,or relevant, and we are free to drink because Christ is our treasure.

What Getting Angry, Scared or Despondent Says About Us.

When something touching an idol in our lives the three most common reactions are anger, fear, and despair. When something we love more than we should is shaken we respond in anger, fear, and despair which each, in turn, drives us deeper into our idolatrous behavior.

For example, when I was growing up I was not ok in life if others didn’t approve of me and like me. It is something I struggle with to this day. Although by God grace I struggle less today because of the power of Gospel at work in me daily. When I was growing up if someone didn’t like me I felt despair. I would do everything in my power to help them see that I was fun, kind and an all-around good person. I would sacrifice time with people who actually liked me because I need to be liked by everyone. The more I was around these people the more fear and despair I felt.

Pastor Success is Not Your Goal.

If 19 years in ministry has taught me, anything it has taught me that leading  is difficult. There are times where you are on top of the world and other times where you feel the world is collapsing around you. The challenge is not to give in the going gets hard and to not blow up when things are going your way.

In life and ministry success is an amazing by-product but a terrible goal and an even worse master. The challenge for each of us especially those in ministry is to measure our lives by the right yardstick. It is very easy to get sucked into the more is better; leadership fixes everything trap. The modern leadership movement has done much to help pastors and churches, but we must also be aware of the damage it has done and continues to do. There has slipped in this idea of a post-modern, secular identity that we can rise from obscurity to be the church everyone in the nation is talking about. If we allow success to be our goal, business strategies to be our mantra and CEO’s to be our heroes we will be swallowed up by the success we think will earn God’s favor and man’s respect. Tim Keller in his book Making Sense of God says the secular identity brings a crushing burden with it.

Great app to help with your child’s spiritual development.

New City Catechism

One of the things I want my kids to do is to know is to own their faith. We often fail to teach our kids about their faith because we don’t know what to tell them or how to tell them what we do know. One of the things we have been trying to do in our house is teach our kids the catechism. I love the fact that my kids can learn the basics of their faith. I believe the place in which catechism is best received is at home where it can be modeled.  Tim Keller has done an amazing job compiling questions and adding content around them that engage the whole family. It’s a free app so if you have an iPad I strongly suggest you download it today

The New City Catechism app provides a set of fun, simple, and elegant tools to memorize this catechism that has been adapted by Timothy Keller and Sam Shammas from the Reformation catechisms. The app allows kids to track their progress and view kid-friendly versions of the catechism answers. It also allows adults to see rich, expanded content, and dig into the depths of each question and answer.

Some app features:
+ Navigate 52 catechism questions and answers for adults and kids
+ Watch videos from preachers (e.g. Don Carson, Mark Dever, Timothy Keller, John Piper, etc.) exploring the catechism answers
+ Track your progress and the progress of your kids—or Sunday school class—as you memorize the catechism together
+ Show/hide answers or select between child/adult answers to help in the memorization process
+ Choose between NIV or ESV for Scripture text
+ Read a teaching from a historical preacher (e.g. Augustine, Edwards, Spurgeon, Wesley, etc.) for each question and answer
+ Pray suggested historical prayers for each question and answer

New City Catechism comprises 52 questions and answers—therefore there is only one question and answer for each week of the year, making it simple to fit into church calendars and achievable even for people with demanding schedules.

Because parents who teach their kids a children’s catechism, and then try to learn an adult one for themselves often find the process confusing (the children are learning one set of questions and answers and the parents are learning another completely different set), New City Catechism is a joint adult and children’s catechism. In other words, the same questions are asked of both children and adults, and the children’s answer is always part of the adult answer.

New City Catechism is a joint project between Redeemer Presbyterian Church and The Gospel Coalition.

(Taken from http://www.padgadget.com/ipad-app-details/564035762/6/1/2)

YouTube Friday: Tim Keller

Many of you know how much I respect Andy Stanley. I love how he speaks practical truth to people far from God. How he creates environments that people are attracted to once they are there he shares biblical truth with them.

Another leader I have been listening to a lot lately is Dr. Timothy Keller. To say he is brilliant is an understatement. What I love most about Keller is how he preaches the Gospel in a simple yet very intelectual way. He is one of the best distillers of the Gospel I have ever heard. If you don’t know who Keller is do yourself a favor get one of his books download a podcast. His grasp of the gospel is gripping. I can not say enough about Dr. Keller.
Here is one of my favorite video clips of Keller

 

 

And here is a great news piece on him.