12 Reasons I Quit Drinking (Before I Ever Really Started)

I have only been intoxicated two times in my life. Both were while I was in High School running from God and His plan for my life. Both are times I regret and experiences I cannot change. Thankfully these two occasions are only memories and serve as life lessons to me and those I desire to help. Although there have been numerous decisions that I have regretted through the years and addictions I have struggled with, the decision to quit drinking (before I ever really started) is not one of them. Here are a few reasons “Why I Quit Drinking (Before I Ever Really Started)”:

  1. My flesh longs for pleasure and satisfaction apart from God. There are many things people run to for pleasure and satisfaction apart from God—alcohol, comfort foods, immoral relationships, etc. Alcohol would only serve as yet another cheap substitute for God in my life. I already run to too many broken and empty cisterns to quench the thirst as it is. There is no need to add one more alternative.
  2. Untold children have been harmed and scarred for life due to alcohol use and abuse. My wife has seen and experienced things in her life that I cannot even begin to comprehend as a direct result of the use and abuse of alcohol. These memories cannot be erased from her mind and the scars cannot be removed from her soul. Alcohol served as a contributing factor to these horrific experiences. My children have suffered from my imperfect parenting, but I am thankful they have never suffered anything as a result of an intoxicated childmom or dad.
  3. If my children decide to use or abuse alcohol it will never be because they followed my example. I have the responsibility to be an example to my children. If I do not want them using profanity, disrespecting others, dishonoring God, harming their body (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit), and having sex outside of marriage, etc., then I have the responsibility to teach them not only with my lips, but also with my life. Since I have absolutely no desire for my children to ever experiment with alcohol, and possibly fall prey to its addictive nature, it is incumbent upon me to set the example in this area.
  4. I understand that the wine referenced in the Bible and the alcoholic drinks available today vary in large degree. First, when you see the word “wine” in the Bible it could mean non-fermented juice of the vine or a fermented beverage. The context must determine the type of beverage being referred to. Second, the alcoholic content in ancient beverages was far less than the alcoholic content of today’s beverages.[i] Fermentation was often impeded and alcoholic beverages were often watered down to prevent intoxication. Distillation (to boost alcohol content) was not invented until the Middle Ages, long after the Scriptures had been written.[ii]
  5. I have many more choices than my biblical counterparts. In Bible times beverages were very limited. Water sources were often polluted. Milk was available from a variety of animals, but refrigeration was not. Keeping the fruit of the vine from fermenting was challenging, but not impossible. However, today I have hundreds of non-alcoholic, non-intoxicating beverages available to me. I can drink all of these without harming my influence, clouding my judgment or compromising my self-control.
  6. Alcohol use can lead to alcohol abuse and addiction. Ken Idleman, former president of Ozark Christian College and pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Evansville, Indiana notes:

No one starts out to be an alcoholic. Everyone begins with a defensive attitude saying, “I’m just a social drinker and there is nothing wrong with it!” No one says, “It is my ambition that someday I want to lose my job, my health, my self-respect, my marriage and my family. Someday I want to be dependent on alcohol to get through my day.” Yet, this is the destination at which several millions of people have arrived. Why do you suppose that is? It is because alcohol is promoted and elevated as a normal/sophisticated activity in life…. It is also expensive, addictive and enslaving. People get hooked by America’s number one legal drug. And just like all illegal drugs, alcohol finds its way into the body, the bloodstream and the brain of the user/abuser.

One of my most memorable conversations in the state penitentiary in Jefferson City, MO, was with a young man facing a 28-year prison sentence for the brutal sexual assault of his own 8-year old daughter. I will never forget the image. The tears literally ran off his chin and splashed on his shoes as he gushed, “I guess I did it. I don’t know. I was drunk at the time.”

Could you live with the knowledge that your dangerous exercise of Christian liberty factored into your children’s ruin?

A good friend during my growing up years was the only child of social drinking parents. When his folks were away, he would go to the rathskeller [German for tavern] in the basement where he developed a taste for alcohol. I won’t bore you with the details. He is 65 today. A broken life, broken health, broken marriages, a broken relationship with his only son, a broken relationship with his only grandchild, a broken career and a broken spirit that . . . Tragically . . . he tries daily to medicate with the alcohol that led him to this tragic destination.[iii]

  1. I have absolutely no desire to support an industry that has caused untold heartache for millions of people. More than 55% of highway deaths are alcohol related. There are drunk drivingmore than 17 million alcoholics in America alone. Alcohol use and abuse has left death, disease, disability and fractured relationships in its wake.[iv]
  2. Drunkenness and other sins resulted both times I decided to drink alcohol. It is crystal clear from Scripture that drunkenness is a sin and that drunkenness is often accompanied by other sins (Proverbs 23:20-21, Romans 13:13, I Corinthians 5:11 & 6:10, Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:21).
  3. I do not want my senses clouded, and alcohol use clouds ones senses. This is a scientific fact[v] and is one of the reasons why God did not allow the priests to use any alcohol while preforming their priestly duties (see Leviticus 10:8-11). While one may argue this makes it ok to have alcohol when not performing their priestly duties, why would a Christ follower ever want their senses clouded? Repeatedly in the New Testament we are commanded to be “sober-minded.” The idea of being sober minded is the idea of thinking seriously and clearly about things. Alcohol use dulls these senses and impairs rational thinking.
  4. Since alcohol use clouds the senses, decisions made during under the influence of alcohol are not the same ones that would be made under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 clearly says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” Our choices should be “Spirit” influenced, not “spirit” influenced (the word “spirit” is often used as a synonym for alcohol).
  5. My alcohol use may negatively impact others. Even if I did not have an addictive personality and even if I could be content with one glass of low alcoholic wine, those whom I influence and who look up to me may not fare so well. This is what led Paul to say: “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (Romans 14:21, see also Romans 14:19 & Habakkuk 2:15).
  6. Scripture warns me about the addictive and destructive nature of alcohol.[vi]
    1. Proverbs 20:1-Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
    2. Proverbs 23:29-35-Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.”

dwi1I have witnessed first-hand the dangers associated with alcohol use and abuse. Both of my grandfathers used and abused alcohol; as a result they left painful memories with my parents as well as other members of my family. Two of my brothers used and abused alcohol and suffered relational, physical and spiritual harm as a consequence. One of my brothers was tragically gunned downed in cold blood, in a bar, where he was drinking alcohol. Thankfully my other brother turned from his drunkenness and sin and found forgiveness and grace in the arms of the Lord Jesus Christ who set him free from his addiction.

There will be many things I will regret when I stand before my Lord. There are many things I have done in my life and things I have struggled with that I regret. However, I have never regretted, nor will I ever regret, the decision I made as a teenager to quit drinking after those first two experiences. Apart from my own salvation in Christ and my marriage to my beautiful bride, the decision to live an alcohol free life is one of the best decisions I believe I have ever made. I have been in the ministry since 1996 and have met multitudes of people who regret their first drink, but I have never met anyone who said they regretted abstaining. I can’t imagine anything I have missed in my life because of my decision, except more regrets.

If you would like to know more about how Christ can set you free from any addiction, including alcohol, please contact us. We would be glad to point you to the “fountain of living waters,” the One who can quench the thirst of your soul.

[i] http://christianstandard.com/2012/08/to-drink-or-not-to-drink/

[ii] http://www.olsenpark.com/Sermons11/Alcohol.html

[iii] http://christianstandard.com/2012/08/to-drink-or-not-to-drink/

[iv] http://christianstandard.com/2012/08/to-drink-or-not-to-drink/

[v] http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body

[vi] http://www.crossroadschristian.org/blogs/blog/12806077-can-a-christian-drink-alcohol

Why Should I Attend and Be Involved in a Local Church (Part 2)

Please take time to also read Part 1. Here are three more reasons to attend and be involved in a local church:

  1. Many of the books in the New Testament were letters written to individual local churches. Some have indicated the references to church in the New Testament are references to the universal church, not to local assemblies. While Scripture does indicate there is the universal body of Christ, which encompasses all believers everywhere, there is an abundance of evidence indicating the universal church is made up of believers who are a part of local congregations. These local congregations listed in the New Testament were located in the cities of Corinth, Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica and more. Not one person who studies Scripture with an honest heart can deny the existence of local churches. Here are a few references for further study: I Corinthians 1:2, II Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:2, Philippians 1:1, I Thessalonians 1:1, II Thessalonians 1:1.

 

  1. Spiritual gifts were to be used for the common good of believers. Isolated believers cannot use their gifts toGifts-1024x768 serve others, nor can they benefit from others. Scripture indicates Christ followers have been given spiritual gifts. God does not administer these gifts for selfish purposes. Paul and Peter, both writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, make it clear these gifts are to be used for the benefit of other believers. However, if a believer is not in fellowship with other believers, they will not have the opportunity to benefit the congregation. According to these verses, an isolationist mindset is incompatible with God’s design for believers and their spiritual gifts. Notice the words of Paul and Peter:
    1. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:7, ESV)
    2. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: (I Peter 4:10, ESV)

 

  1. Paul gave Timothy clear instructions about things to be included in the meeting of the local assembly. Timothy was a young preacher of the Gospel and was Paul’s protégé. Paul writes two letters to instruct him about a variety of topics to help him in the ministry. As he concludes his first letter, Paul explains what he expects to be included in the public worship services. Note his admonition, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” (I Timothy 4:13, ESV)

Open Their (Our) Hearts

In Acts 16 we read an interesting statement which is found in v. 14: “The Lord opened her (Lydia’s) heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”

We find that Lydia was a “worshiper of God” and was a business lady whom Paul crossed paths with. However, she had not been baptized and possibly had not clearly understood the Gospel up to this point. It is obvious that God was working in her heart, drawing her to Himself and had set up this divine appointment with the Apostle Paul.

The word here for worship means to: “hold something in high respect, to adore and to revere.” (http://biblesuite.com/greek/4576.htm) However, it seems there was something still missing in Lydia’s life. It is possible she had yet to understand the message about the “Lamb of God who was slain for the sins of the world.” Regardless of what was missing, she had responded to God in love and faith and God responds to her in ensuring she hears the Truth.

Scripture tells us that God opened her heart so she could pay attention to what was being said by Paul. The word “open” has a couple of different connotations. First it carries with it the idea of “opened up fully.” However, it can go much deeper than that and can also mean “to rouse in one the faculty of understanding or the desire of learning.” (http://biblesuite.com/greek/1272.htm)

My question to us is this: “What if God would do the same thing in the hearts of everyone that will be sitting under Gospel preaching on Sunday? What if God would do the same thing every time we pick up His Word and read it? What if God would do the same thing every time we share the Gospel with a lost soul?”

The God who loved Lydia is the same God who loves the souls in your family and mine, in your congregation and mine, and in your city and mine. Sure, we need more Lydia’s who will respond to the light they have, but we also need more messengers like Paul who will faithfully proclaim God’s Word and be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading.

Would YOU join me in prayer for the countless confused and/or misinformed souls that will have an opportunity to hear God’s precious Word? Let’s pray together that God would “open their hearts to pay attention to what is said from God’s Word.” God’s Word is Truth and it is the Truth that sets people free! Faith comes through hearing and hearing from the Word of God!

Prayer: “Father, I come to YOU today and I ask that YOU would open the hearts of everyone who will sit in the pews of Flagship Church and every church that preaches the Gospel tomorrow. Open their mind and the window of their soul to YOUR Truth. Give them understanding of YOUR great love for them and YOUR desire to save their souls and reconcile them to YOURSELF. Give to them a desire to learn YOUR Word and YOUR ways. Give us men like the Apostle Paul who will faithfully discharge their duty to be ambassadors for Christ in their Jerusalem, their Judea, their Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world. Encourage the laymen and laywomen with the Truth that YOUR Word can change lives for eternity. Finally Lord, though we may know YOU as Savior and Lord our hearts need to remain open as well. Please keep us tender and sensitive to the leading of YOUR Holy Spirit, the Truth of Scripture and the power of the Gospel.

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Perception

Too many times we are consumed with perception. Don’t get me wrong. The way people perceive us is important. After all, as Christ followers we are the ambassadors of Christ and His representatives to a lost and sin sick world. Therefore, it is important to let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in Heaven (see Matthew 5:14-16).

However, there is a difference between letting our light shine through our good works and putting on a show. If we are really surrendered to Christ and are walking in the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) there will be a natural overflow of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). When we walk by faith and in humility, surrendered to God’s Word, then what God is doing in us will be reflected through us!

We need to keep in mind that even in the Christian the flesh is still driven to perform. The flesh produces jealously (Galatians 5:17-20) and pride. As a matter of fact Paul asks the Galatians in chapter three “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3). Sometimes we are erroneously convinced that God’s power saves us by grace through faith, but somehow we then are to live the victorious Christian life through our flesh and “trying harder.” Our flesh may be jealous of the Spirit’s power and capability and the great deceiver plays upon that weakness, encouraging us to live the Christian life in our own power. After all we’ve got to keep up the perception that we are good Christians.

This is exactly what we see happening in Acts 5. Ananias and Sapphira were very interested in being perceived as dedicated, sacrificial Christ followers. They obviously had close ties to the church because they were aware that others were selling their possessions and giving to the church and others in need (see Acts 4:34-37). They decided to come up with a scheme to be perceived as a part of this generous group. They decided they would sell a portion of their property, bring a portion of it to the church and secretly keep a portion for themselves. They did not have to sell their land (Acts 5:4a). The problem was not they kept a portion for themselves (Acts 5:4b). The problem was they wanted to be perceived as a Christ follower who had given it all even though they had not!

Christians still have a battle with the flesh. We no longer have to be controlled by the flesh and we can reckon our flesh to be dead through the power of Christ, but if we are not extremely careful it will raise its ugly head time and time again to trip us up. It will even lead us to do the right thing for the wrong reason or seek to get us to try to do the right thing in our own power and energy. The enemy knows this leads to failure and frustration and may eventually lead us down a road of such despondent failure that we just walk out on the possibility of living in victory at all.

Yes, we should want to be perceived as people who bring God the glory. However, we all need to understand how God is brought the glory! He is not brought the glory by anything we can accomplish in the power and the energy of the flesh. Our righteousness adds up to nothing but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). We bring God the glory when we let His supernatural power work in and through us to do things that point others to how awesome He is!

Jesus went on to remind His followers in John 15:5 that the key to producing fruit was not in “trying harder” or “doing better” but rather was simply found in abiding in Him. If we want to give the perception that we are Christ followers, then through His grace and power of the Holy Spirit we must simply follow Him. If we want to produce fruit, then we must simply through His grace rest in and abide in Him and His power. If we want to be perceived as Spirit-filled people then we must through His grace walk in His Spirit step by step.

Your flesh will always be there to try to trip you up. It will always seek to get you to live the Christian life in your own strength. It will lead you to depend upon the arm of the flesh, but the arm of the flesh will always fail!

I’m not sure what the Holy Spirit would have led Ananias and Sapphira to do had they been following His leadership. But whatever it was, it would have been something that glorified God, not Ananias and Sapphira! It would have been something that said, “Look at what GOD is doing in and through their life,” rather than, “Look at what they are doing for God.”

Yes, perception is important. But the right perception can only be produced through following and being surrendered to the leading of the Holy Spirit through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit working within.