Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lighten Up

I've recieved several requests recently that I "lighten up" and stop writing about "such heavy theological stuff" etc., etc. So in an effort to "lighten" the "mood," consider this the gratuitous... uh... "mood-lightening" post for the month. Or something. Okay - that said, here are some things to brighten your day:

1.) If you're jonesin' for some generally pointless, but entertaining, comedic blog relief, visit my ol' pal Diddy.9000 - from now on, I'll refer all you chuckle-seekers to his well-written accounts of the ongoing war against spider crickets. Also of light-hearted interest, he apparently thinks Adam Sandler is a better actor than Robert DeNiro. I take back the "ol' buddy" part. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure I know this guy at all. Do make sure you stop by and tell him what you think about that DeNiro biz though.

2.) Just as a promised, I did teach baby Caleb how to read (see photo). Unfortunately, he has a hard time holding Grudem's Systematic Theology up with his lil' baby arms, so after a couple paragraphs, he gets tired and takes a snooze. I guess we'd better start strength training next to build up those wee arms... or maybe I should just teach him how to read on his stomach.

3.) For my birthday, my bro sent me a copy of Taming A Liger: Unexpected Spiritual Lessons From Napoleon Dynamite. Pretty flippin' hilarious. You know I'm training to be a cage-theologian. Gosh.

4.) I'm sure you will be amused to know that Sam, the world's ugliest dog, died earlier this month. Okay, so that's not so light-hearted and funny... but what IS funny is that I know a guy named Sam. He's named just like the dog. The world's ugliest dog. Who... just... um... died. Ha. hmmm... (*sigh*)

5.) Did I mention that baby? Babies always make people laugh.

Whew! Now that we have this "light" and "funny" stuff outta the way, I can get back to some real bloggin'. Next topic - The Wages of Sin is Death... DEATH... DEAAAATH.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Drinkin' - Final Guidelines

Continued from this post...

I shared my personal convictions regarding the consumption of alchohol in the last post. As I stated, those being my own personal convictions (and those convictions in accordance with Scripture as I understand it at this point), I do not necessarily expect that all Christian folk follow the exact same policy in the exact same way. I DO EXPECT, however, that whatever conclusion a believer has arrived at regarding the use of alcohol that they do adhere to these guidelines;

  • That he or she never strays close to drunkedness or other sin through partaking alcohol
  • That he or she knows why they hold a particular standpoint and can, when necessary, accurately articulate their standpoint with both grace and truth to either a believer or non-believer in an appropriate manner
  • That he or she understands the various facets in which this issue can be viewed apart from the explicit mandates of Scripture and thus does not fall into the trap of simply passing judgment on those who hold differing convictions (again, assuming that those differing convictions do not go against the commands of Scripture regarding Christian conduct)
  • That he or she would never make their viewpoint a stumbling block to a a weaker Christian or use their convictions to manipulate or condescend others
  • That he or she would be ever-vigilant to protect their witness and present themselves as blameless
  • That those who partake do so in a way that honors the Lord and that those who abstain likewise do so in a way that honors the Lord
  • That he or she consistantly filters their conviction and actions through the lens of Scripture - not only through the explicit and implicit statements specifically regarding alcohol, but regarding general conduct as well.

May God grant us the grace to strive in such a way that our actions and convictions never fail to align with Scripture - in this matter or in any other.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Drinkin' - Personal Convictions

Continued from this post...

As promised last post, I will share my personal alcohol policy. I will at times have a beer or a glass of wine, though I am very intentional about where and when and with whom. This is a personal conviction, which I trust I have arrived to under the leading and guiding of the Spirit and the authority of the Word as best as I have understood up to this point in my life (my viewpoint has changed from earlier points in my walk, and could change again at the Spirit's prompting in the future.) Because this is my own conviction - and not an explicit mandate from Scripture - how I conduct myself regarding this issue is a matter of obedience for me. I will give you situational contexts to that, but let me first start with two foundational reasons why I feel that is okay for me:

  • I have no family or personal history of alcoholism or alcohol-related abuse (this is not to say someone of like circumstance is not susceptible to alcoholism - but I would advise that those who have such a history, either personally or familialy, to completely abstain from alcohol as there is an exponentially generally greater chance they could succumb to that disease or temptation. Often as well there is a hightened emotional charge accompanying this issue for individuals who have dealt personally with alcohol abuse in any form. It simply seems wise for one then to completely abstain and forego further alcohol-related trauma.)
  • I have simply come to enjoy the taste and craft of certain alcoholic beverages and there are times when I feel it is appropriate to enjoy them (but not all times are appropriate and even then, obviously in moderation and never out of context with the Scriptures - I will explain more later).

Situational contexts that I keep in mind, though, include:

  • I do not drink alcohol in the presence of non-Christian people. I do this because there is a strong cultural stigma in our culture regarding alcohol that I feel I should be sensitive to. I would rather not open the possibility for a questionable impression, and therefore discredit in any way my witness. The only exceptions may be individuals who are long-time friends with whom I am confident my witness or credibility as a disciple of Christ is not in question over the issue.
  • I do not drink in front of Christian brothers or sisters who I know have been deeply and negatively affected in some way by alcohol abuse in their past or currently struggle with it.
  • I do not drink in front of Christian brothers or sisters who I do not know well enough to say whether or not my actions will be a stumbling block to them.
  • I generally do not have more than two drinks in a sitting. I feel that is an appropriate limit to set unless enjoyment become overindulgence. Concerning how much alcohol is 'acceptable' to drink, I often hear Christians debate over whether it is permissable or not to get buzzed - but not all-out drunk - on alcohol. Too many people seem to try to find out where "the line" is by seeing how close they can get to it before crossing it. That mindset is foolish and dangerous at best. Far better to approach with discernment and caution, if at all; God has not left His stance on drunkeness unclear by any means. He has drawn a very clear line - take heed in dancing around it lest you cross it.
  • I do not ever drink to "take the edge off" or with the intent of altering my mindset, mood, etc.

Given these stipulations, the times I actually partake are, generally, few and far between and usually within the walls of my own home. I would reiterate that these guidelines (apart from the biblical condemnation of drunkedness) are personal convictions - it is a matter of obedience for me to follow them, but I do not necessarily expect all others to have arrived at the exact same conclusions. There are, however, specific guidelines that I do expect any believer partaking of alcohol to follow. I will share these next post.

Continued next post...

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Drinkin' - What Scripture Says Part 2

    Continued from this post...

    In the last post, I made the point that I do not see that Scripture views alcohol as inherently evil or sinful. HOWEVER, we must balance the fact that although the USE of alcohol is not condemned, the ABUSE of alcohol most undoubtedly is; let there be no question about this point.
    • “Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags” (Prov. 23:20-21).
    • "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).
    • “Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink; who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!” (Isa. 5:11).
    • “Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink” (Isa. 5:22).
    • “Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap” (Luke 21:34).
    • “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy” (Rom. 13:13).
    • “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."(Eph. 5:18).
    • “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissentions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).
    • “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money” (1 Tim. 3:2-3).
    • “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine...” (Tit. 2:3).

    There are plenty more references - probably all familiar to you who've investigated this issue - but I think the point is clear even from this sampling. In Scripture, drunkenness - or the misuse/abuse of alcohol - is everywhere condemned as a serious sin, both explicitly and implicitly.

    In addition to considering the words of Scripture specifically regarding alcohol, I think one must also treat this matter in light of how it affects one's witness before people who are not Christians and in light of one's testimony before fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This is an area that though I believe there are governing principals to guide us, there is room for discernment given each situation. I do not want to be vague on this point, so next post, I will share my personal "alcohol policy" and the reasoning behind it.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Drinkin' - What Scripture Says Part 1

    Continued from this post...

    Let me start with simply sharing some Scriptures that give insight into the use of alcohol in Biblical history. The obvious tie-in to alcohol or fermented beverage in the Bible are references to wine. Here are a few things from the Old Testament.

    God commands wine and strong drink to be brought as an offering to himself:
    • “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two one year old lambs each day, continuously ... and there shall be one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a libation with one lamb” (Exod. 29:38,40).
    • “Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the Lord for a soothing aroma, with its libation, a fourth of a hin of wine” (Lev. 23:13).
    • “And you shall prepare wine for the libation, one-fourth of a hin, with the burnt offering or for the sacrifice, for each lamb ... and for the libation you shall offer one-third of a hin of wine as a soothing aroma to the Lord ... and you shall offer as the libation one-half a hin of wine as an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the Lord” (Num. 15:5,7,10).
    • “Then the libation with it shall be a fourth of a hin for each lamb, in the holy place you shall pour out a libation of strong drink to the Lord” (Num. 28:7).
    Wine is tied to the concept of God's blessings:
    • “Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain and new wine” (Gen. 27:28).
    • “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man, so that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine which makes man’s heart glad, so that he may make his face glisten with oil, and food which sustains man’s heart” (Ps. 104:14-15).
    • “Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10).
    Conversely, and interestingly, the removal of wine has been tied to God's discipline:

    • “But it shall come about, if you will not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you ... You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm shall devour them” (Deut. 28:15,39).
    • “The Lord has sworn by His right hand and by His strong arm, ‘I will never again give your grain as food for your enemies; nor will foreigners drink your new wine, for which you have labored’ (Isa. 62:8).
    What strikes me about these references - especially those regarding sacrifice and offerings - is that in my understanding, nothing unclean or unholy is to be offered to the Lord, yet wine was included as an acceptable offering. I draw from this that there is nothing inherently bad, evil, or unclean about it. I do not see evidence in Scripture, as many evangelicals believe, that all alcoholic beverages are inherently evil and that any use of an alcoholic beverages is sinful. However, I do see that Scripture presents some specific instruction regarding alcohol consumption - there is a context and conditions for its use. I'll get to these next post.

    Continued next post...


    Okay... Although my purpose on this blog is not to create controversy, it looks like I'm about to jump into another controversial subject. At least 3 individuals have recently pointedly asked me my opinion on Christians drinking alcohol. If you're not a Christian and you're checking this out, the following posts may just be funny to you, but for many Christians, this can be a big issue.

    I got an email from a good friend a couple weeks ago that expressed - quite well - the sentiment of several other conversations I've recently had. My friend says:

      I was wondering what you think about the issue of Christians drinking alcohol. The past few years, I have been faced with backing up my own position in the face of adversity from close Christian friends. I do have a strong opinion, but sometimes wonder if it is a conviction from God or if my view is clouded because of what has happened in my own life. With the ever-increasing amount of people around me choosing to partake, I am seeking Biblical counsel from one I know really seeks God.

      I should say that your opinion won't have an impact on my choice to abstain, but I would like to have a better idea of how to speak to my friends on the issue.

      Anything you've studied would be helpful - thanks!
    This letter prompted me to really articulate how I see this issue as a disciple of Christ, and I think this is a worthy subject to come to terms with as you walk with Christ. In my thinking - and more importantly, in accordance with Scripture as I understand it - the issue is fairly black & white, although there are several factors to consider. I will share these in greater detail over the next several posts. The specific factors I will look at are: what does the Bible say about alcohol? What does it mean for my witness (my interaction with non-Christians)? What does it mean for my brothers (my interaction with fellow Christians)?

    Continued next post...

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Cutest. Baby. Ever.

    A couple of you have asked for updates on lil' Caleb. I have to tell you - and I admit that I cannot do so impartially - that he is quite possibly the cutest baby. In the world. Ever. Prolly the smartest and the strongest too. He's 3 months old now, so he's starting to be really interactive which, speaking as a dad, is a blast and sometimes funny, too - like when he coos, or grins, or projectile vomits all over his babysitter.

    I figure it's never too early for this guy to start earning his keep around here, so I'm working on his physical conditioning at the moment. Right now we're learning basic punch/kick combos, wrist locks and grappling manuevers (don't worry, though - mom provides plenty of softer, gentler nurturing ;-). But even she will admit that this little dude has a crazy kung-fu grip. I'm pretty sure he'll be walking soon. Maybe by next week. And then the week after that, we're going to start teaching him to read...

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    A Word of Thanks

    Firstly, let me apologize for my absence there - life just hit a busy spurt. Also, I wanted to take a second to thank all of you who followed and commented on the transubstantiation posts. I'd like to especially thank David Wills and Damienc for their comments regarding the Catholic position. It has been a very enjoyable and worthwhile discussion. At the moment, we are continuing our discussion here, so feel free to check that out. Meanwhile, now that I've returned to the blogosphere :-) I hope to begin a new series of posts... check back soon.