Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 23 – Why I Don’t Drink

“Buy the truth and do not sell it;

get wisdom, discipline and understanding.”

Proverbs 23:23

I have never had a sip of alcohol in my entire life.

There.

I said it.

Call me a straight edge, brown-noser, goodie two shoes, or whatever other cheese ball line you want to come up with, but it’s true.  If I showed up to a party in High School growing up I was looked at like an undercover ATF agent because everyone thought something had to be up.  I honestly was just there to hang out, but I had this sense I made everyone else uncomfortable as their underaged hands held their red plastic cups filled with warm beer.

I really wasn’t there to bust anyone, but I also wasn’t going to be swayed in my stance by anyone either.  The line I’ve used since I can remember when someone offered me a drink is “I’ve been offered drinks by girls way cuter than you so why do you think you are going to be the one to break me?”

It usually gets a laugh and eases the tension.

However, the reason I don’t drink may be a surprise to you because it’s NOT rooted in a spiritual conviction.  When I read the Bible I don’t see a judgmental stance on drinking that condemns you to hell if you do.  For heaven’s sake Jesus’ first miracle was to turn a bunch of water into wine at a party, so clearly God isn’t looking down on an open bar at a wedding.

Beyond the fact that I have an addictive personality and alcohol would be a bad combination with that personality type there also is something else.

Here’s why I don’t drink.

When I was around 11 or 12 years old I had a close friend named Heidi.  Heidi and I were very close and she had an older brother Jon and older sister Jenny who I looked up to.  I didn’t spend tons of time with them or go hangout a bunch because they were older than me, but I vividly remember admiring them.  They came from a great family with awesome parents.  John and Jenny were great athletes, good looking, popular, kind, and polite.  A lethal combination of awesomeness if you ask me.

One of the most vivid memories I have of them is watching them cheer Heidi on at her softball games at Timberline Little League fields.  They loved each other and their sister dearly.  To watch them light up when they saw Heidi was something memorable.

Sometime during the late Spring of my 6th grade year, Jon and Jenny went to a concert in North Dakota.  When they were driving home a drunk driver crossed the line and hit them head on killing them both.  It was one of the most painful things I have ever been close to; not just because of how it affected me, but how it affected Heidi and her family.  I remember sitting in the pews at the funeral just feeling this heaviness, sickness, and pain that didn’t make sense.  Even going back to school seemed wrong as we played on the playground.  I remember Heidi retelling how crushed her parents were when the police came to the door and told the family about the accident.

The reason it didn’t make sense was because this haunting question lingered in my mind.  “Would Jenny and Jon still be alive if that guy decided not to drink?”  It was in that moment that I decided that I would never be the reason that someone had to open a door to an officer telling them their son or daughter was dead because of me drinking.

After that moment, not drinking was easy.  In fact you could say that moment sobered up my soul before it ever had the chance to get drunk.

Again, I’m not passing judgment on anyone that drinks. I realize that the person who made the choice to drink and drive killed Jon and Jenny, not alcohol.  I hang out with plenty of people I love and care about that handle drinking in a Godly and mature manner.  Some even drink with me around and don’t look at me like a monster with 9 heads. :)

However, I do know people that alcohol has destroyed their lives.

  • I’ve seen fathers lose their kids because the booze was more important than his babies.
  • I’ve seen women that do, say, and act like anything other than a Godly woman and end up in the arms of men who don’t love, cherish, or care about them.
  • I’ve seen men that perpetuate the cycle of abuse and addiction in their family, but laugh it off by saying “that’s just the way I am!”

As a person with a degree in Biology and Physiology I understand the medical benefits behind a marginal amount of alcohol.  However, I also know that excess alcohol numbs your brain, destroys your liver, discolors your skin, and literally can change your brain chemistry into a total different person.

This isn’t a 21st Century phenomenon though.  Solomon also witnessed this in ancient times and writes about it in the lines of Proverbs 23.

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?

    Who has strife? Who has complaints?

    Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?

Those who linger over wine,

    who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.

Do not gaze at wine when it is red,

    when it sparkles in the cup,

    when it goes down smoothly!

In the end it bites like a snake

    and poisons like a viper.

Your eyes will see strange sights,

    and your mind will imagine confusing things.

You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,

    lying on top of the rigging.

“They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!

    They beat me, but I don’t feel it!

When will I wake up

    so I can find another drink?”

- Proverbs 23:29-35

God desires for us to be in the mind He created us to have.  A clear, fully functioning, focused on Him in all things mind.  I’ve found both personally, academically, and spiritually that drinking in excess causes this mind to become cloudy and hard pressed to focus on anything, let alone God.  I’ve never heard anyone barfing their guts out in a musty bar bathroom while singing worship songs as a way of praising God.  :)

I see Solomon’s words as a sobering reminder of what happens when a good thing becomes a God thing.  When we allow something given to us by God to be stewarded responsibly and turn it into a destructive habit that destroys our life.

Paul has a way of giving us some guardrails, if you will, when it comes to things like this.

“Everything is permissible”-but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” - 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

This blog is not about beating people up or telling people not to drink.  This blog is essentially what Paul is trying to say.  Know yourself, know those around you, and know what God is telling you is right.  To do as Solomon says in Proverbs 23:23 “Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.”

If you are able to keep alcohol within the guardrails God designed, I say “Have another on me!”, but if you are in a place that alcohol has become your God, please get help.  Consider reaching out to organizations like Celebrate Recovery www.celebraterecovery.com, www.aa.org, or others that can help.

Live your life with a conviction to worship God in all that you do and allow your life to be a reflection of His love.  Don’t live in a haze that risks your life and others.  God never intended for us to live through the lenses of Beer Goggles, but through the perfect 20/20 vision of Christ and His wisdom.

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When Our Kids Become Our god

Kids PicGod created a very specific and harmonized way of living that creates balance, peace, and life within in us.

I’ve best been able to summarize it this way:

 

#1 God

#2 Spouse

#3 Kids

#4 Everything Else

On face value no one really argues with this list when I present it to them.  Even if you are only known as a Christian by the box you check when Census people come by, putting the Creator of the Universe first on a list makes sense.  Yet God’s desire to be #1 in our life goes beyond an ego trip that we may feel He commands.

Placing God at the center of our life provides a rock and foundation that is unmovable, unshakable, and infallible.  He provides the filter by which we live the rest of our life and gives us the perfect direction with which to live.

Our spouse takes the second position because it is the most important human relationship we’ve been given.  God has asked us to love and respect our spouse like He loved and cared for the Church.  If you didn’t know He gave up His one and only Son for it so it’s a pretty big deal.

Our kids find the third spot and rightfully so because had there been no God or no spouse there would be no children.  Now I realize we live in a world were dads are optional in some cases or nonexistent, but in the Shalom that God created both mom and dad are present and active.  Their position in our lives is important because as we grow and nurture them, they need to see the proper priorities God designed us to have.

The children we have been blessed with from God will learn the most about Him from us.  It’s our job to show them His proper place in our life so they have a better opportunity to give Him the proper place in theirs.

Proverbs 20:7 says “The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.”

Proverbs 22:6 tells us “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of people who raised their children in the Lord and the kids strayed.  There is no guarantee that church attendance or youth group involvement will lead a child to a relationship with Christ.  However I will also say that there is a much greater chance they will find Christ if you do keep them involved and part of God centered things both inside the home and outside.

You see when the children lose their proper place in our lives and leapfrog both our spouse and God the harmony God created gets out of whack.  Since the #1 spot is reserved for what we worship the most and give our most attention to, our kids now have become our god.

Don’t believe me?

Here is a few questions to chew on:

  • If your child has a music practice on Sunday that will make them miss church which do you choose?  Church or Practice?
  • If your child doesn’t want to go to church on Sunday do you skip because they won’t go?
  • Does your child decide where you go and what you do on a consistent basis or do you and your spouse?
  • If you commit to a Life Group and you have to miss one of your child’s games to attend do skip group or go to the group?

Don’t misunderstand me, I love sports, activities, and our kids.  I did more stuff growing up than you can even imagine including gymnastics…for 1 day…until they made me do the splits.  I got a sports scholarship and academic scholarship for college for crying out loud so I get the importance.

All I’m saying is that if our children’s schedules and needs cause us to step away from commitments, miss church all together, sacrifice our relationship with our wife, or put God on the back burner we’ve got a priority problem.

The problem is not just hurting us but also our children.

By placing our kids in a position they were never meant to occupy we put more pressure and expectation on them that they can’t withstand.  We need to take the lead as parents and demonstrate the faith we tell them we have.

Hosea 13:4 cuts to the heart of the matter, “You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me.”

When we make choices that elevate God in our lives we elevate God in their lives.

If we want our kids to live lives that are God centered than we have to put God at the center of our life all the time not just in the off season of their activities.

I believe most parents don’t mean to do this in fact I think that they just get caught up in doing life and wanting to love their kids well.  I also believe that we can start making changes today to our lives that will re-prioritize things to a better rhythm.

In the end, I’d much rather have my kids have an average relationship with their coach than an average relationship with Jesus.

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A Prayer For The School Year

As most students head back to school I wanted to take a moment and pray for them and perhaps for my fellow parents too.

 

Mighty God and Father, 

Thank you for the breath of life you have given us today and the chance to live this day for You.  We don’t take for granted the talents, gifts, and opportunities You have allowed us to have and we pray we are able to use them to Glorify You in all that we do.

Father, as we send our children back to school we do so with mixed emotions.  We are thankful for the months of rest and vacation we’ve had, but we also know that its end is a good thing.  Every year we send them off back to school we are encouraging them to work hard, learn much, and live a life full of Your love.  We take this time Lord to lift up this school year to You and ask Your hand be on it.

Lord as they walk in the hallways and are guided to their classrooms we pray Your hand be on the very building they reside.  Surround it with you angels and allow no evil to come upon the teachers, staff, or students.  May it be a place of refuge and enjoyment every minute they are within those walls.

Mighty God, be with the teachers and let them teach with clear minds and heart’s of integrity teach towards our children.  Be with their families that they leave behind each day to teach our children.  May they be guided by Your hand and Your thoughts so that regardless of subject taught our children may be amazed at the world You have created.

Father, allow our children’s minds to think clearly and be focused on what is being taught.  May their attention not be swayed what other’s may think or the things they don’t have, but completely at peace knowing we love them and so do You. 

Holy Spirit fill our children to capacity with your encouragement and love that no words or miss guided children can effect them.  Allow them to filter everything they hear through the truth of Your love and be confident in who they are in You.

Let them work hard, have fun, and enjoy being with friends this year Lord.  May this year be the most peaceful and productive year they have ever experienced.  And allow Your love to shine through them so much that others around them desire to know what it is they have in their life.  In that moment may they be confident in their faith and speak confidently of who You are and the love you have for us all.

May every step they take, bus ride the enjoy, or car ride with friends they look forward to be guided by Your Hand and bring them safely back to us each day.   

Lastly Father, be with us as the parents of these blessings you have given us.  May we not hold them too tightly that we crush them or too loosely that we lose them.  Help us find balance in loving and leading, but through all the hills and valleys we encounter may we enjoy the ride it is to be a parent.

We humbly thank you Father for all that You do in our live’s that we see and we don’t see.  Bless our children this school year and beyond as we fall confidently into Your will. 

It is in the matchless name of Jesus Christ we commit all these things.

Amen

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True Confession Of A First Time Dad: Remotes Don’t Float

remote-controlsI really don’t know what it is about remote controls, but boys of all ages are fascinated by them.  When they are younger they grab and push the buttons as if trying to press them through the backside cover.  As they get older the remote becomes the magic key that opens the portal to the Wonderful World Of Disney.  This is only a gateway drug to the adult version which allows us to watch sports on 4 different channels at once if we find the right combination of buttons.  Even when we age and all our mental and physical abilities decline our remote handling skills still remain sharp.  Unreal!

My son is no exception to the remote fixation.  Easton loves to carry them around, push the buttons, throw them on the couch, and find a combination of buttons to push that somehow let us look back in time when on Channel 8 for some reason.

My boy loves his remotes.

However nowadays there are remotes for nearly everything including the ceiling fan in our bedroom.  We have one with a remote control not for me but actually for my wife.  She is really the gatekeeper for light, dark, and temperature when it comes to bedtime.  I literally have to sneak around the bed at night after she’s asleep, like a ninja trying to steal a pressure sensitive jewel, to even turn on the fan.  In this case, the remote is vital to the working of the fan-light because without it there’s no manual way to use it.

This brings us to Saturday night.

I came home from work and Cherie said, “Well, your son finally did it.  As I was finishing washing Aniston up in the bathtub Easton ran into our room, grabbed the ceiling fan remote, and threw it right into the bathtub.  I had two hands full of shampoo so there was no stopping him.  The good news is that wall switch was in the on position so we can still turn it on.  The bad news is that fan was the only thing on when he baptized the remote so right now we have no light.”

This means that two college educated, post graduate schooled, high functioning adults will be getting dressed by the closet light in the mornings while being efficiently dried by the wind tunnel in their master bedroom.

That’s my boy.

While Cherie took the remote outside to help the remote sober up in the sun, I realized this is how we as Christians act sometimes.

So many of us live our lives without fully embracing all that God offers us in a life found in Him.  We walk around in the dark doing our own thing in our relationships, business dealings, social events, language, and addictions thinking that just because the fans on we are still living the life God wants us too.

After all the light on a fan is just an option not a requirement right?  It’s up to us if we want to use it isn’t it?

We see this in our Christian walk too.

  • I don’t have to stop smoking pot because God never specifically said we couldn’t right?
  • I can get divorced because what the Bible says about divorce is just a guideline not a rule.
  • There is no need to stop spending my money how I am because I really don’t’ like that part of God’s plan.
  • The language I use isn’t a big deal.  After all I’m just being relevant!

In essence, we are taking the life God designed for us and choosing not to use it how the Designer intended.  We are using the fan, but never turning on the light.

Sadly, we are missing out on so much by doing taking this approach.   We may have a nicely pressed Christian coating on the outside, but on the inside we are slowly dying from the sin we are still choosing.

Embrace all the “features” that God has designed for you to experience by being a follower of Christ and stop living in the dark.  Flip the light on and start living!

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