To help Christians and churches better understand what the Bible says on both alcohol and illegal drug use, the Christian Life Commission has compiled a new resource. It is a six-page document titled "On Alcohol & Drug Use: A Biblical Perspective." (It does not deal with prescription drug abuse; we hope to do something soon on that subject.)
In American culture alcohol use is common. Advertising associates drinking with good times, parties, and beautiful people. It may not, however, be as widely consumed as sometimes perceived. The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health said 70.1 percent of people reported they drank alcoholic beverages in the past year; 56.0 percent reported that they drank in the past month. That's most Americans, but almost half of Americans steered clear of alcohol over the previous month.
Still, the negative consequences of alcohol abuse are staggering. According the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, here are some of the stats:
Boys behaving badly has become all too common. Sometimes it lands a boy in the news immediately, and sometimes it takes decades for the misdeeds to surface.
There is probably no common saying more ridiculous and unhelpful than “boys will be boys.” It reflects a determinism that leaves no room for the shaping of young male lives. Boys will, of course, be boys if left to their own devices, if they have no positive role models, if they are not given any instruction about how a boy ought to behave. And one result is that many men continue to behave as boys throughout their lives.
Why do we not hear the phrase “girls will be girls” to excuse their bad behavior? There are two possible reasons. Either we think boys are naturally bad and girls are naturally good, or we think girls’ bad behavior should not be defended. I think it’s more of the latter. Adults often do a nudge-nudge-wink-wink to boys’ bad behavior but shake their heads in rebuke at girls’ bad behavior.
Attitudes, fortunately, are changing. Boys and men are being held more accountable for bad behavior.
The “me too” movement has been necessitated by the reality that many boys and men have behaved as sexual animals free to pursue whatever satisfaction they like. They should never have felt such freedom, and it is good they now are being held accountable.
Instruction is a key. It does not guarantee right behavior, but it surely makes it more likely, especially if an example of good behavior lives in the same household. It surely is wise to help boys and man-boys to learn God’s truths about life and living well.
Of course, it’s also wise to help girls and girl-women to learn this.
We need help.
Proverbs! Turn to Proverbs!
By Chris McLain
I can’t speak for those living in urban contexts, but in Crowell it matters whether you’re native-born or a transplant from elsewhere.
Let me explain. It’s not that new people who move into our community are any less welcome or loved than the locals, but their experience of small-town life is certainly different.
Many of the folks who grew up here have large, extended families of several generations nearby. That makes for a broad support system and relational community year-round (and the convenience of avoiding holiday traffic is no small benefit either).
The “new Crowell” folks are much more likely to feel isolated in our close-knit community. It can be difficult to make new friends because “old Crowell” folks already have established networks of family and friends.
That means it’s especially important for folks in Crowell to be neighborly. And, as a pastor, I’m partial to the notion that Christians are specially called and gifted to meet that need.
Scripture really goes further; it’s a command. Remember Jesus’ two-sided “great commandment” to love God and to love neighbor. Jesus was picking up on two Old Testament passages, so this goes back early in God’s dealing with mankind.
(Note from Ferrell: Ethics, which is about how we ought to live, is only Christian when it is rooted in the worship of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Amy Ford Brumfield gave me permission to share the following article. Amy shows us what it's like to be truly alive and grateful in God's world and how that can lead us to worship our creator and redeemer. That worship then leads us to want to honor God with our lives.)
By Amy Ford Brumfield
A friend challenged me recently to reflect on what I am grateful for about my body. I am almost certain the following meditation is far removed from what she had in mind. She had flesh, bone, and sinew in mind, but I am always led to the abstract when I write.
I am grateful for:
Eyes that see the beauty of the created in the way the light plays on trees. I am grateful to have eyes that see not just shades of green, but the colors of the rainbow hidden within each leaf. The ability to commit it to canvas.
Ears that hear the miracle of a cellist playing “Gabriel’s Oboe.” Ears that can block out every sound but the water cascading over the fountain in my yard as it plays its own music. The way either can fill my eyes at the first note. When the two play in unison it borders on the divine.
The first hint of perfume from the privet hedge that blooms each spring. It’s not there one day, and then the next it overwhelms me with a fragrance I want to drink in and remember.
The first sip of morning coffee that provides pleasure and comfort when it touches my tongue and clears the cobwebs.
The ability to appreciate and sometimes untangle the prose of Wendell Berry as he challenges my world view and exposes my own propensity to prejudice or complacency.
Siempre he querido ser una persona que tenga un impacto en el mundo. Aun hoy tengo esto en la cabeza constantemente, pues el lema de mi universidad es: “Lo que empieza aquí, cambia al mundo”.
I recently spoke to a college class and early on said something I had not planned to say. It went something like this:
“I’ve been married 38 years, and I wish more people could know how wonderful it is to have shared so much of life with the same person. My wife and I know each other in ways that only time makes possible.”
It wasn’t much, but it was a celebration of years of love and commitment. And I went on to other things. At the end of class I asked what had stuck in their minds. One woman said, “What you said about your marriage.”
Since then, Trese and I have celebrated our 39th anniversary. We did so at The Oasis restaurant overlooking Lake Travis -- a beautiful place on a beautiful night with my beautiful lady. I call her Lady Trese and my daughters princesses. Forgive me if I’m hokey. (My sons don’t get called princes; that just seems odd.)
I hope something of the beauty of marriage comes through.
Marriage in general, however, is struggling today. Many people are living together sexually without marriage, and many others have broken their marriage vows of sexual faithfulness.
I focus here on the adultery -- married people having extramarital affairs. It seems to be growing, as countless public figures are being outed for screwing around, and some of them are supposed to be Christian leaders. It may be growing, but it is not new.
By Abby Hopkins
I have always wanted to be a world changer. Even now I am constantly reminded of this goal at my university, where our motto is, “What starts here changes the world.”
I believe God has given me this desire for change and justice in the world for a reason, and I am so thankful for the passions He has placed in my heart. Lately, God has caused me to desire a platform of change that centers on Him, rather than on myself.
Over Spring Break, I traveled to New York City with other college students from my church. It was a large group, but we were split into breakout teams with specific focuses for the week. My group’s focus was anti-human trafficking, so we met with three different non-profit organizations that work to end trafficking.
One of the primary lessons God taught me throughout the trip was the need for Christians to love people in a way that prevents them from being exploited. Traffickers target the vulnerable. People who are often overlooked, unloved, and underserved are often the most vulnerable. So, one of the best things we can do for people is love and serve them.
Jesus spoke to this point in Mark 9:35 when He said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
By Ali Corona
He may have felt insignificant -- a young boy walking home with a basket of lunch for his family -- five small loaves and two fish.
With a glance toward heaven and a heartfelt prayer, Jesus multiplied a few parcels into a lavish feast for a crowd that was hungry for spiritual and physical nourishment.
All four gospels recount this important moment in history. The sight of the unseen Kingdom colliding with the world must have made a deep impression on each of their hearts and minds.
Today, an estimated 795 million people around the world are undernourished. In Texas, 1 in 6 families are unable to put meals on their tables everyday. Hunger, both physical and spiritual, is devastating.
April 4 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The CLC asked several Texas Baptists to write on aspects of Dr. King’s ministry and influence. This is the seventh article.
By Ferrell Foster
There is always the risk that a nonviolent person will be consumed by violence, especially when he or she is challenging long-held cultural injustices. Such was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, fate.
A bomb, fists, and clubs did not stop him. A bullet did.
The fourth tenant of King’s nonviolence told of a “willingness to accept suffering without retaliation, to accept blows from the opponent without striking back.” King never retaliated physically, even though the brutality and disrespect mounted. Many wanted him to, but he didn’t.
April 4 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The CLC asked several Texas Baptists to write on aspects of Dr. King’s ministry and influence. This is the sixth article.
By Kathryn Freeman
On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Dr. King had come to Memphis to join the city’s black sanitation workers in their fight for better working conditions and better pay after two of their co-workers were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck.
Sanitation workers were working full-time and still forced to rely on government programs to feed their families. Dr. King joined these workers in their fight for economic justice and dignity, because “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Dr. King gave his life to the fight against inequality out a deep reverence for the command found in Micah 6:8, “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.” He was a drum major for justice, galvanizing people of all ages and races to walk with him toward fulfilling the American promise of freedom and justice for all.
Dr. King’s dream was born out of his study of Scripture and his work as a pastor at Dexter Avenue and Ebenezer Baptist churches. He frequently echoed the call of Amos to “let justice roll down like a river;” the words of Jesus, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees. . . who have neglected the more important matters of the law -- justice, mercy and faithfulness;” and of the Apostle Paul’s “Macedonian call.” Dr. King’s notion of justice and equality and the Christian response to it is profoundly biblical.