PRELUDE – “All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

“My hope lives not because I am not a sinner,

but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died;

my trust is not that I am holy,

but that being unholy, HE is my righteousness.

My faith rests not upon what I am or shall be or feel or know,

but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me.

Hallelujah!”

~ Charles Spurgeon

Song –

No One Higher” by Heath Balltzglier, Seth Condrey, and Steve Fee

CONFESSION OF SIN –  Joel 2:12-14

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,

“return to me with all your heart,

with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

and rend your hearts and not your garments.”

Return to the Lord your God,

for he is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;

and he relents over disaster.

Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,

and leave a blessing behind him

Let’s take a moment and reflect on the ways that we have often been ungrateful for God’s mercy and grace.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON  – Joel 2:21-23

 “Fear not, O land;

be glad and rejoice,

for the Lord has done great things!

Fear not, you beasts of the field,

for the pastures of the wilderness are green;

the tree bears its fruit;

the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

“Be glad, O children of Zion,

and rejoice in the Lord your God,

for he has given the early rain for your vindication;

he has poured down for you abundant rain,

the early and the latter rain, as before.

Songs –

His Mercy Is More” by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa

Mighty to Save” by Ben Fielding and Reuben Morgan

PRAYER

CHILDREN’S BLESSING & DISMISSAL – Romans 10:9

SCRIPTURE READING  – Jonah 4

SERMON  – “Irritating Grace”

LORD’S TABLE

Song(s) –

How Deep the Father’s Love” by Stuart Townend

I Stand Amazed in the Presence” by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel

OFFERING

Song –

Lord Most High” by Don Harris and Gary Sadler

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE – “Beautiful Lord” by Leeland

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Fitness”

November 13, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #201 “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched” & #259 “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?”

Testimonies – What’s a meet up you’ve had with another member or with a non-believer lately that has been encouraging?

Teaching

Recap & Intro

We’re talking about how we as Christians are supposed to be a peculiar people. We’ve been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred into to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col. 1:13). So let’s not keep living like we did. Ephesians 5:7-11 – “Do not become partners with [the world]; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” We’ve been trying to expose the world’s way of thinking about Authority, Purpose, Speech, Relationships (btw, did you see the recent news that Emma Watson is ‘self-partnered’?), Conflict, Drugs, Alcohol, Bioethics, Entertainment, Work, Money, and Possessions. And show a better way, a more beautiful way – God’s way, motivated by the gospel.

Today we are looking at the topic of Fitness – physical fitness, exercise, working out, health, body image…

Obesity

Is obesity a sin? It’s actually hard to find verses in the Bible about this. I first thought of that story in Judges 3 about Eglon, the wicked king of Moab. It says he was “a very fat man.” And left-handed Ehud hid a sword on his right thigh and got a private meeting with him and thrust the sword into his belly. “And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out.” It’s a disgustingly intriguing story… but it actually doesn’t make a clear moral pronouncement against obesity.

The closest I could think of was Deuteronomy 31:20 where God predicts: “When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant.” I think a link could be made between excessive consumption and spiritual lethargy.

But we have to also be careful about judging people who are overweight. It may not always be directly due to laziness and sin. Genetics may be involved. Poverty and food justice issues may be at play. I’ve heard of someone who was repeatedly sexually abused as a child and then ballooned to 400lbs as a defense mechanism to try to make himself unattractive in the hopes that that would make the abuse stop. So we never know all that is going on.

But I think we can agree that it is in general not a good thing to be overweight. It’s often connected with lack of self-control and food idolatry. It increases your risk of heart attacks, makes you feel yucky overall. And it’s just not winsome.

Several years ago there was a story in the news about a study showing that Baptists were by and large LARGE. I think it was in response to the Baptist insurance company no longer automatically covering Baptist pastors because they were overweight and high risk. And I remember hearing a Baptist leader here in Chicago say that he was contacted by a reporter for a comment and he said he would do it, but said no pictures please… because he was a bit portly himself. It’s not winsomely weird to be known as the pudgy people.

Obsession with Fitness

But I don’t think that’s our church’s issue. I don’t think we have an obesity problem in our body. Actually, we’ve got a lot of fairly fit people. And so I think we need to come at it from the other side and ask what might be ways that we have bought into the world’s perspective on fitness. Our center-city culture is one that seems to not have a problem with obesity but rather an obsession with fitness. How are we to be different?

So let’s think: what are some sinful ways the world approaches physical fitness?

It can be a form of self-salvation. At my gym there is this big plaque right in front of the treadmills that says:

What is a Workout?

· A workout is 25 percent perspiration and 75 percent determination. Stated another way, it is one part physical exertion and three parts self-discipline. Doing it is easy once you get started. [so far so good, I think we can agree that exercise can be a fruit of the Spirit of self-control or discipline]

· A workout makes you better today than you were yesterday. It strengthens the body, relaxes the mind, and toughens the spirit. When you work out regularly your problems diminish and your confidence grows. [okay, mostly good; working out has physical, mental, and emotional benefits; I heard a trusted pastor once say that a lot of times depression can be cured by breaking a sweat 3x a week; but the self-confidence thing starts to make me concerned]

· A workout is a personal triumph over laziness and procrastination. It is the badge of a winner – the mark of an organized, goal-oriented person who has charge of his or her destiny. [this is where it starts to sound a little like Joel Osteen and verge into godless self-help territory; we are simply not in charge of our destiny and when working out makes us have too high a view of our own works, this can get spiritually dangerous; it can get close to self-salvation]

· A workout is a wise use of time and an investment in excellence. It is a way of preparing for life’s challenges and proving to yourself that you have what it takes to do what is necessary. [again a mix of wisdom with this idea that we have deep within us the power to change ourselves; the next one makes this explicit:]

· A workout is a key that helps unlock the door of opportunity and success. Hidden within each of us is an extraordinary force. Physical and mental fitness are the triggers that can release it. [no, hidden within each of us is a sinful desire to be autonomous and self-determining; we are not good at the core and just need a trainer to help us release that; we are sinful and need a Savior; and here it is:]

· A workout is a form of rebirth. When you finish a good workout, you don’t simply feel better, you feel better about yourself.

There’s a great example of how fitness can take the place of faith in Christ. It becomes a surrogate for salvation and the Holy Spirit. My hell is low self-confidence and flabby abs. My heaven is people’s attention and a flat stomach. And my salvation is myself – effort, grit, determination.

What are some other potential pitfalls with an obsession with fitness??

It can come from a fear of death. What is driving so many people to stay healthy? They are slaves to the fear of death (Heb. 2:15). Aging, slowing down, losing muscle tone… is terrifying. And instead of trusting Christ, we try to take matters into our own hands and stave off death by obsessing with health.

It can miss the blessings of weakness. A fixation on fitness often is coupled with a despising of weakness. Those who are slow, uncoordinated, handicapped, limited… are looked down on. We want to avoid at all costs losing our independence. And so we idolize youth and strength. The picture of beauty is an athletic, active person. Those who have deformities or diseases are ignored. The worst imaginable thing in the world is to be weak and frail. But the Bible talks a lot about weakness as the way of the Christian life. 2 Corinthians 12:10 – “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” An obsession with health can be an aversion to weakness. Are we a community that welcomes the weak or prizes the strong?

It can feed vanity. Humility, C.S. Lewis I think said, is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. The world’s obsession with fitness puts the focus on self – weighing self, measuring self, looking at self in the mirror, counting calories, fishing for compliments, wanting attention; me, Me, ME! But Christ wants us to stop thinking about ourselves and love others.

It can be our identity. Being in shape can be how we feel worth and value. We compare ourselves to others in order to feel good about ourselves. But the dark side of this is that when we put on weight after giving birth, or develop a middle-age ponch, or get pimples or wrinkles, we are insecure and devastated. We work out more, trying new supplements and diets, obsessing about appearances. Why? Because we’ve wrapped up our identity in our physical fitness.

Obsession with Christ

Instead, I think the most winsomely weird thing for the world would be to see a people who are obsessed with Christ and secure in him, who therefore aren’t too worried about what they look like, but just exude a sense of being comfortable in their own skin, because they know they are clothed with Christ’s righteousness, that God the Father sees them as glowing and gorgeous on account of grace. And so they can relax.

This gospel identity produces in us a winsomeness and beauty that isn’t based on the world’s definition of beauty. We don’t let the world tell us what to do to be pretty and attractive. We focus on becoming Christlike. I don’t think he cared at all about his body-mass-index. I picture him more like a baseball player from the 50s – just a normal guy. More importantly he was kind and patient and content and selfless and humble and full of compassion for the broken and weak and hurting. That is true beauty and strength.

This topic has a lot in common with the question of dress and modesty. We obviously don’t want our fashion to be an unnecessary offense to the gospel, but we don’t let the world tell us what is beautiful and try to fit in that way. Peter tells women, “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1Pe. 3:3-4). Peter might say something like, “Fashion is of some value for keeping warm and even displaying creativity, but godliness is really what’s beautiful.”

And that is what Paul says about fitness – “Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1Tim. 4:8; NIV). We should not be people obsessed with fitness, but with Christ, secure and resplendent in his robes of righteousness, and growing into them like clothes that are several sizes too big.

Value of Physical Training

So if Paul says that bodily training is of some value, in its proper place, what is that value?

· Anti-Gnosticism. Being physical – moving, bending, twisting, stretching, doing amazing things with our bodies… – reminds us of the importance of the body, of physical matter. God made matter. God the Son joined himself to a human body. He was raised bodily. He’s coming back in his body. He’s going to raise our bodies. The body matters. Gnosticism was a heresy that said only the spirit matters, but that’s not true. Using our bodies is good theology.

· Spiritual benefits. Similarly, since we are embodied souls, exercise and physical health (if we’re able) does help our spiritual life to be generally healthy. Working out releases stress, helps you sleep better, helps your mind focus, is a beneficial use of leisure (if your work doesn’t involve much physical activity).

· Spiritual metaphors. It’s full of spiritual metaphors. We are running a race (i.e. Heb. 12:1). We’re in a fight (i.e. 2Tim. 4:7). Paul loves sports illustrations. He said, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1Cor. 9:24-27). There are many ways that fitness can help you with spiritual growth instead of inhibit or distract you.

· Witness opportunities. It can be a great opportunity to witness. I think of Russell’s evangelistic rock climbing. And several years ago Vivian helped organize a Meet-Up in the UIC for runners.

· Service opportunities. Finally, we need to think about why we want physical health. Do we want it so that we can do what we want to do: travel the world and enjoy life? Or do we see health as a gift to use to serve others? I often think of the story of Jesus and Peter’s mother-in-law in Mark 1:29-31. Read… Her physical fitness was for serving other people. We should be stewarding our bodies for the sake of long-term service, and then when we can no longer, either through poor decisions or just the natural inevitability of aging (probably a combination of both), we are able to let others serve us without feeling useless and guilty. That’s winsomely weird.

What’s Next?

We’ll meet next week, then take the week of Thanksgiving off, then have one more and then the next Wednesday is the Christmas Party. What do you want to do next week? Gender, Sexuality, & Family or Politics…

Prayer – Get into groups based on how much you weigh… jk! What’s your favorite way to be active? (1) Rock Climbing (2) Walking (3) Playing a sport (i.e. basketball, soccer, Ultimate Frisbee) (4) Going to the gym (i.e. weightlifting, pilates, Zumba) Get into those groups to pray…

Pray for each other to have a deeper gut sense of God’s delight in them on account of Christ and freedom from the world’s definitions of beauty…

Pray for growth in discipline and endurance…

Ask God to save specific people you know who are running after things that won’t satisfy or last…

PRELUDE –

“Salvation Belongs to our God” by Adrian Howard and Pat Turner

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP  –

Psalm 86:8-13

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,

nor are there any works like yours.

All the nations you have made shall come

and worship before you, O Lord,

and shall glorify your name.

For you are great and do wondrous things;

you alone are God.

Teach me your way, O Lord,

that I may walk in your truth;

unite my heart to fear your name.

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,

and I will glorify your name forever.

For great is your steadfast love toward me;

you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

 

 

Song –

“Everything That Has Breath” by Matt Redman

CONFESSION OF SIN–

Neh. 9:16-17

But they and our fathers acted presumptuously

 and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments.

They refused to obey

and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them,

but they stiffened their neck

and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.

But you are a God ready to forgive,

gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,

and did not forsake them.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON-

Psalm 103:8-12

The Lord is merciful and gracious,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He will not always chide,

nor will he keep his anger forever.

He does not deal with us according to our sins,

nor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,

so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Songs –

“Jesus I Come” by George Coles Stebbins and William True Sleeper

“Kindness” by Chris Tomlin

PRAYER

CHILDREN’S BLESSING & DISMISSAL – Romans 10:9

SCRIPTURE READING  – Jonah 3:1-10

SERMON (Nathan) – “Wide Grace”

LORD’S TABLE

Songs –

“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” by Helen Lemmel

“O Praise the Name (Anástasis)” by Benjamin Hastings, Dean Ussher, and Marty Sampson

OFFERING

Song –

“How Can I Keep From Singing?” by Chris Tomlin

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE –

“God of this City” by Chris Tomlin

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Work, Money, Possessions”

November 6, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs

Testimonies – How have you been challenged to be ‘weird’ during our Wednesdays together?

Teaching

Recap & Intro

I have no voice tonight, so I’m going to lean on you to do most of the talking…

Can someone explain what we mean when we say that Christians are to be ‘winsomely weird’??

I had the thought last week that Daniel and his three friends presents us with a good model of being winsomely weird? Can someone elaborate on how that might be??

Work

We talked some last week about the fact that work is good. Christians should not be lazy and idle. Can you think of Bible passages that address this?? Ex. 20:9

What about workaholism?? Ps. 127:2

How should we be different from the world in the ways that we approach work?

· Witnessing

· Integrity

· No grumbling (Ph. 2:14)

· Excellence… to a point

· Not find our identity in our career, have a life outside work

· Say No, rest well

· Work as unto the Lord (Eph. 6:5-8; cf. Col. 3:22-24)

· Be a good boss (Eph. 6:9)

· What about Sundays?

I recently received an email from a pastor who said, “I’ve just met a group of house workers /nannies who don’t have the autonomy to be able to attend our corporate gathering, since they are required to be working on the weekends. There are no other church options for them. Any counsel for how to think about potentially bringing these ladies into membership, when they are unable to come to our gathering? They are Filipinas in Turkey. Their obligations are somewhere equivalent to indentured servitude.”

I also heard this recently: “According to a 2016 time study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 34 percent of the workforce works on the weekend…. The U.S. workforce is approximately 160 million. That means over 54 million work on the weekend” (thomrainer.com). The person was saying that we need to adapt to try to accommodate this trend.

Money

What does the Bible teach about money? I.e. Eccl. 5:10; Mt. 6:24; 1Tim. 6:9-11; Heb. 13:5.

How should we look different than the world when it comes to money?

· Stewardship (Mt. 25:14ff) and saving (Prov. 6:6-8)

· Sharing (Acts 2:42-47) and generosity (2Cor. 8:1ff)

Possessions

I saw when I opened my web browser today that Jeff Bezos has a mansion with 25 bathrooms. Is that wrong? 24? 10? 5? 4? 3? 2? 1? How should we think about stuff?

How can we be weird yet winsome when it comes to our possessions?

Home Décor

Minimalism

Christmas

Cool factor, fashion

Contentment (1Tim. 6:7-8)

What’s Next?

We’ve got three more of these. What do you want to do next? Gender, Sexuality, & Family; Fitness; Politics…

Prayer – What’s your primary vocation right now? (1) Higher Education (2) Medical Field (3) Business World (4) Other Get into those groups to pray…

Ask God for wisdom to know how to do what you do with distinctly Christian motivations and goals…

Pray that you would “take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Lk. 12:15)…

Pray that we would  have our treasures be in heaven and not transient things (Mt. 6:19-20)…

PRELUDE – “All My Hope”by David Crowder

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP –

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,

and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

let the field exult, and everything in it!

Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord,

for he comes to judge the earth.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

for his steadfast love endures forever!

 

Song –

How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, and Jesse Reeves

 

CONFESSION OF SIN  –

 

Jesus, forgive my sins.

Forgive the sins that I remember, and the sins I have forgotten.

Forgive my many failures in the face of temptation,

and those times when I have been stubborn in the face of correction.

Forgive the times I have been proud of my own achievements

and those when I have failed to boast in your works.

Forgive the harsh judgments I have made of others,

and the leniency I have shown myself.

Forgive the lies I have told to others,

and the truths I have avoided.

Forgive me the pain I have caused others

and the indulgence I have shown myself.

Jesus, have mercy on me and make me whole.

Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON –

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity

and passing over transgression

for the remnant of his inheritance?

He does not retain his anger forever,

because he delights in steadfast love.

He will again have compassion on us;

he will tread our iniquities underfoot.

You will cast all our sins

into the depths of the sea.

You will show faithfulness to Jacob

and steadfast love to Abraham,

as you have sworn to our fathers

from the days of old.

Songs –

You Alone Can Rescue” by Matt Redman

How Great Thou Art” by Stuart K. Hine

 

PRAYER

 

CHILDREN’S BLESSING & DISMISSAL – Romans 5:8

 

SCRIPTURE READING – Jonah 1 and 2

 

SERMON – “Deep Sin, Deep Grace”

 

LORD’S TABLE

 

Songs –

Before the Throne of God Above” by Charitie Lees Bancroft and Vikki Cook

Behold the Risen Christ” by The Village Church

 

OFFERING Song –

Sing to the King” by Billy Foote

 

 

BENEDICTION

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

POSTLUDE – “My Life is an Offering” by Sovereign Grace Music

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Entertainment”

October 30, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #140 “When Morning Gilds the Skies” & #47 “Fairest Lord Jesus”

Testimonies – What’s some way that you have seen God moving in our body lately?

Teaching

Recap & Intro

So we’re basically talking about holiness, how we as God’s people, saved by grace, are to think and act differently from the world around us. We’re aliens and strangers. Which means we will stand out, be weird, yet in a way that is winsome, still engaged with the world. Jesus wants us to understand the world, to be savvy with the world, without getting sucked into the world in the least. Totally in, totally different. There are people who are totally weird because they live in a bubble. Then there are Christians who say, “We need to get out of the bubble,” but then start absorbing the world’s ethos. We want to stay weird, but be winsome.

That means we live under God’s authority and for his glory, in a world that lives from Self and for Self. It means we’ll be winsomely weird in the way we talk and relate. It means we won’t get drunk with wine or high on pot, but be filled with the Spirit. And last week we saw that we will be a winsomely weird community in the way that we care for the weak and vulnerable and those that the world sees no value in; we care about all of life from the womb to the tomb. And we will die differently than the world does. We will die in peace, trusting God, okay with weakness and dependence. That’s a major way we will be weird to the world.

Today we’re talking about entertainment. This one is so important because it’s probably the primary instrument that the world uses to promote worldliness. We must be thoughtful here. Leland Ryken wrote a book a while back called Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure. In it he lamented that often “we worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.” We’re all mixed up. So let’s try to think clearly about this topic.

Work

First, we need to establish that we were made to work. Work is good. God created the world and made humans in his image to cultivate it and care for it. That is the genesis of every valid profession. We are to be active creating, cultivating, organizing, operating… This is supposed to take up the bulk of our time.

There are all the admonitions in the Proverbs against laziness (i.e. Prov. 26:13-16). There are statements in Paul’s writings like: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28). “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you” (1Thess. 4:11). “We hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2Thess. 3:11-12).

So a good chunk of our time must be taken up with work. Work is not an unfortunate thing, a necessary evil, but it’s good and God-honoring. I hope to talk more about this on another night. But let me just add: when we work, we should work hard and buckle down and focus so that work doesn’t expand and creep into all of our life because we’re also supposed to rest.

Rest

The Bible puts a limit to work to keep us human and humble; to keep us from thinking that we are just machines and that we are able to keep the universe running ourselves. God puts limits to work. The most obvious is the Sabbath – one day in seven to cease your productivity and enjoy (i.e. Ex. 20:8). But also yearly rhythms of celebrating (Lev. 23:33-36). And also the daily need for sleep. By and large, he made the day for work and the night for sleep (Mk. 4:27). Psalm 127:2 – “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” God made us to need sleep, to remind us that we’re not God and as way to declare our trust in God to keep the world spinning (he does not slumber or sleep; Ps. 121:4). Most of us need 7-8 hours a day to function well.

So two main categories to our days: Work and Rest. We keep them separate and balanced; the world blends them and has them all out of whack (i.e. workaholics or playaholics). But if we work, let’s say 12 hours a day on average (I’m including in that your job, housework, making meals, giving kids baths, etc…) and sleep 8 hours a day, that leaves roughly 4 waking hours in a day in the category of Rest. How are we to use that time as believers in ways that are weird to the world? Time when we’re not ‘getting things done’; let’s call this sub-category of Rest – Leisure.

Bible Reading, Prayer, Meditation. Christians spend time regularly and daily focusing on the Lord. This is weird to the world. Remember how I mentioned a few weeks ago that the way we give of our finances limits the disposable income we have to spend on things like alcohol? So just won’t be able to drink like the world because we give away a significant percentage of our money. It’s similar here. We spend a significant portion of our leisure time reading the Bible, praying, meditating, which simply means we will not have as much time for the other stuff.

Similarly, we are committed to a community. So we will be at Sunday gatherings and Midweek Meetings. That’s takes time. And beyond that there is relationship building – meeting up with a brother or sister for accountability, encouragement, fellowship. Calling and checking in. Bringing a meal. Working on relationships with spouses, roommates, kids, parents, friends… We’re always thinking of each other, even in our leisure time, whereas the world is thinking of Leisure time as Me Time.

Then with what’s left, what are some other good uses of our Leisure??

Exercise/Physical Activity.

Hobbies. I encourage you to try to use your hobbies for fellowship and/or evangelism…

Read. When is the last time you’ve read a book? How about a book that stirred your soul and strengthened your faith? When are you going to do that? Paul writes to Timothy – “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books” (2Tim. 4:13). Listen to Spurgeon on that verse:

Even an apostle must read…. He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! [….This] is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books” – join in the cry.

Diversify your leisure.

And what about Me Time? Can I have any time to just totally unplug and relax and have a diversion, some mindless break from all the exhaustion? Well… It depends. Unplug, but not from Christ. Relax, enjoy a non-utilitarian pursuit, but not apart from Christ. A break for the mind, but can never turn the mind totally off. What about Self-Care, which is all the rage in the world today? Didn’t Jesus withdraw to desolate places by himself when exhausted? Yes! We need time away. But look at Mark 6:30… First off, their Me Time was We Time… But what happened to it? It got interrupted. So, yes, you can take time away, but don’t make of it an idol; don’t let it become an excuse to be selfish; and see it in the larger picture of replenishing you for a return to greater engagement and service.

And now here’s what is in my mind the area we need to think through the most: what about Screen Time? We live in a world largely dominated by the image and the screen: tv and phones. Discussions about Entertainment in the past were geared around the theater, the coliseum, the pool hall… stuff you had to go to. But now we have access to entertainment at our finger tips 24/7. It distracts us at work. It keeps us from sleep. And it seeks to dominates our leisure time.

If you have kids or when you have kids, do you want them to not know what an iPad is? No. But do you want them to watch iPad all the time? No. Why do we limit screen time for our kids? Because it may make your life easier for an hour, but it makes them more selfish, whiny, discontent, bored, less imaginative… In excess, screen time sucks life out of kids and rots their brains.

And it can do the same with us. A quick look at Twitter can turn into 30 minutes easily and it can make you more anxious. Scrolling through Instagram makes you jealous of other people’s lives. Surfing YouTube reduces your attention span. Binging on Netflix numbs you to the real world. It’s alarming when the goal of our days, the thing we’re looking forward to is: get home and get the kids in bed so I can watch my show. We need to be very careful with the amount of time we watch. The world is watching a lot of Screen Time; we should be weird.

Entertainment is by nature Self-focused. It’s designed to serve you. You don’t have to do anything to make it happen, just sit back and passively be pleased. Is that always wrong? No. But we must be careful that it doesn’t feed Selfishness.

A lot of those same questions we asked with substance you take into your body, are good questions to ask with what we take into our eyes and minds: is it legal, is it necessary, is it good, is it healthy, is it an addiction, intoxicating, an idol, wise?

Some more suggestions for our Screen Time:

Do it with others. What if we were watching some of the same shows and then discussing them? So it wasn’t just a private thing. What if we even turned our watching into social get-togethers? We do it for the Super Bowl, why not other shows? At the very least what if you watched with your spouse or your roommates, so there was accountability and it didn’t isolate but brought together?

Do it for others. Watch what your co-workers are talking about to understand them. Watch what gets nominated for Oscars to be able to engage the world.

Do it with God. Always, do everything with a conscious awareness of God’s presence. You can’t turn your mind off and veg and passively take in what Hollywood is feeding you. You have to think critically. Measure everything by God’s Word. If there is common grace there, praise God. If there is beauty there, worship God. If there is sin there, hate it and thank God for forgiveness and the promise of a new world without sin. Turn it all back to God. Watch it as a Christian, filtering everything through the lens of Scripture.

We’ve been watching Disney’s Liv and Maddie as a family lately. Thinking about this upcoming talk I started having everyone share a biblical principle (positive or negative) that they saw illustrated in an episode. Andrea and I have been watching The West Wing for the last couple years. It’s a well-written show that has lessons about leadership, work, relationships… but it’s also trying to shape the way you think about social issues. We have to be discerning…

And what is off-limits? Pornography. Game of Thrones? VidAngel. …

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Gender, Sexuality, & Family; Fitness; Work, Money, & Possessions; Politics…

Prayer – If you had to pick one of these, which of the following would you prefer to do tonight before bed: (1) Watch a re-run of Parks & Rec; (2) watch the World Series Game 7; (3) play Super Smash Brothers; (4) or listen to Kanye’s new album. Get together in those groups and pray…

Repent of ways that you have had more of an appetite for the things of this world than Christ…

Pray that we would look carefully how we walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-16)…

Pray that we would learn how to understand the longings and brokenness of this world and better connect them to Christ for people…

PRELUDE – “A Mighty Fortress”by Martin Luther

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

How does Christ’s return “to judge the living and the dead” comfort you?

In all distress and persecution,

with uplifted head I confidently await the very judge

who has already offered himself to the judgment of God in my place

and removed the whole curse from me.

Christ will cast all his enemies and mine into everlasting condemnation,

but will take me and all his chosen ones to himself into the joy and glory of heaven.

 

Song –

“O Worship the King”by Chris Tomlin, Johann Michael Hayden, Robert Grant

 

CONFESSION OF SIN

“Hear this pronouncement of judgement in Romans 2:6-11:

 

He will render to each one according to his works:

to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality,

he will give eternal life;

but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

There will be tribulation and distress

for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,

but glory and honor and peace

for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.

For God shows no partiality.

 

In light of God’s coming, let’s take a moment to confess our sins before our holy judge.”

ASSURANCE OF PARDON  – Psalm 32:1-2

“If we by faith embrace salvation in Christ, the Lord declares over us:

 

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,

whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man whom the LORD counts no iniquity,

and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

 

Songs –

You Are My King (Amazing Love)” by Billy J. Foote

O Praise the Name (Anástasis)” by Benjamin Hastings, Dean Ussher, and Marty Sampson

 

PRAYER

 

CHILDREN’S BLESSING & DISMISSAL  – Romans 5:8

 

SCRIPTURE READING – Obadiah

 

SERMON  – “The Day of the Lord is Near Upon All Nations”

 

LORD’S TABLE

 

Songs –

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” by Louisa M. R. Stead and William James Kirkpatrick

In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

OFFERING

Song –

Let Your Kingdom Come” by Bob Kauflin

 

BENEDICTION

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

POSTLUDE – “O Church Arise” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Bioethics”

October 23, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #291 “Be Still, My Soul” & #336 “My Jesus, I Love Thee”

Testimonies – What is something from Amos that God has used in your heart and life?

Teaching

Recap

Are you willing to be weird for Jesus?

Can you do it in a way that is winsome? That doesn’t unnecessarily turn off people to Jesus? 1 Peter 2:12 – “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable.”

We saw that the world is living from SELF (I am my own authority) and for SELF (what’s in it for me?). We, on the other hand, by God’s grace in Christ, have been freed from SELF to live under God’s authority and for God’s glory.

Last week we saw that when it comes to drugs and alcohol, the world mainly asks, “How does it make me feel?” But we ask a series of questions like: Is it legal? Is it necessary? Is it good? Is it healthy? Is it addictive? Is it intoxicating? Is it an idol? And is it wise? Were there any further thoughts on that??

One way I was thinking about all of this recently was that I want us to not look up to the world – “Oh… they’re sooo cool. I wish I could be like them.” But I also don’t want us to look down on the world – “I can’t believe they do that…” I want us to look on those in the world as fellow humans with love and empathy…

Intro

That applies to tonight’s topic too. We’re looking at how we are to be winsomely weird when it comes to bioethical issues, mostly questions revolving around beginning of life and end of life, but also what lengths we will go to in order to increase quality of life. I want to think of it first as patients and parents and regular people. And then think of it from the perspective of health-care providers.

And before that I want to start by reading this quote from the beginning of this book [Gilbert Meilaender, Bioethics: A Primer for Christians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013 [1996]), 1]:

How we understand… the [bioethical] situations we encounter… will depend on background beliefs that we bring to moral reflection – beliefs about the meaning of human life, the significance of suffering and dying, and the ultimate context in which to understand our being and doing. Our views on such matters are shaped by reasoned argument and reflection less often than we like to imagine. Our background beliefs are commonly held at a kind of prearticulate level. We take them in with the air we breathe, drink them in from the surrounding culture. It is, therefore, useful sometimes to call to mind simply and straightforwardly certain basic elements in a Christian vision of the world – to remind ourselves of how contrary to the assumptions of our culture that vision may be.

The World’s Assumptions vs. The Christian Vision

So what are the key assumptions that the world brings to bioethical debates? What is the air we breathe? What do we need to be aware of drinking in from the surrounding culture? I’m sure there is much more than this, but I thought of six big ones:

1.) Independence and self-fulfillment are chief values.

2.) Personhood and worth comes from capabilities and productivity.

3.) This life is all there is or everyone is guaranteed an afterlife.

4.) God isn’t there or doesn’t care.

5.) Suffering is to be avoided at all costs.

6.) Science can (eventually) solve everything.

Independence and self-fulfillment are chief values of the world. We are taught to be strong and see ourselves as autonomous. No one tells me what to do. I don’t need someone else. And I certainly can’t be obligated to do something that I don’t want to do. I don’t care what they say, this is my life. We’ve been through some of this before, but we need to see how pervasive this mindset is and how ingrained it is into us.

The Christian vision, on the other hand, holds up community and caring for others as chief values. From the beginning we see that “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Humans are social creatures, interrelated and interdependent on each other, and all utterly dependent on God (cf. 1Cor. 11:11-12). Sin isolates us and turns us in on ourselves. But God’s work of redemption brings us together and makes us need each other and consider how our actions affect others. We don’t lose our individuality, but we are individuals bound in relationship.

And Christians are to be known for their love, compassion, and care for one another. Like our Savior, we sacrifice for others instead of using others for our own gain. We have experienced grace and so we give grace. Which gets into the next one…

The world sees personhood and worth as coming from capabilities and productivity. You are what you do. Value is achieved. The world fawns over the famous, the smart, the strong, the beautiful, the important and looks past the small, the slow, the weak, the ugly, and those who don’t or won’t contribute much. In the world there is no real place for mercy, just merit.

Christians, however, know that dignity is inherent to embodied human existence and value doesn’t come from what you do. In creation God bestows value on every human being, no matter rich or poor, young or old. And in redemption we see that “it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Rom. 9:16; NASB). The gospel tells us that our identity does not come from our works but from Christ’s work for us. In Christianity valued is received, not achieved. And so Jesus touched the children and the lepers and Christianity defined pure religion as visiting “orphans and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27).

The early church was the island of misfit toys. And in Roman society there was a practice where unwanted or deformed babies could be ‘exposed’ – set out to die on a trash heap. Christians went and collected those discarded babies and cared for them, not because of what the babies would do for them, but because all of life is precious. That’s winsomely weird to the world.

Third, the world sees this life as all there is or says that everyone is guaranteed a good afterlife. Have you ever heard He’s not suffering any more or she’s in a better place? These unsubstantiated sayings are thrown around flippantly.

But as Christians we live with eternity always in mind. We know that every person we meet is immortal. They will be raised either to everlasting punishment or to everlasting life (i.e. Jn. 5:28-29). There is something worse than death and that is hell; and there is something better than a fulfilled life here on earth, and that is heaven. And so this short life is not made the measure of all decision-making.

Fourth, the world says that God isn’t there or he doesn’t really care. The world has a nihilistic worldview. This is it and what you make of it is what counts. It’s a cold hard place; you’ve got to make your own meaning of it. And what you are dealt is a fluke of nature.

But the Bible tells us that there is a good and sovereign God who is superintending everything. There is a Divine Author. We are not writing the story of our lives. We are not a product of chance in a meaningless void. Nothing is an accident.

And so that means that (#5) suffering can have a purpose. Suffering itself is not good and we don’t seek it out, but a good and sovereign God can work good from it. He brought the greatest good out of the greatest suffering at the Cross. And so with a Savior who sympathizes and the promise of a loving heavenly Father, we can endure suffering with trust in him.

The world on the other hand says that suffering is to be avoided at all costs. Since we’re not in the caring hands of an all-good, all-wise, all-powerful God, all we can do is whatever we can to eliminate our suffering. The world doesn’t see a potential redemptive purpose to suffering.

Finally, the world has faith that Science can (eventually) solve everything. It is hubris, a high view of humanity apart from God. But we know that there are mysteries beyond us and we are content to trust God and not try to be God. Science in its place is good; we’re not anti-Science. But we’re anti-Science-instead-of-God.

Abortion

So with all that in mind, let’s talk about some specific topics. Of course, we are not going to be able to come up with a definitive answer for every imaginable scenario, but hopefully get you thinking about how to be winsomely weird when it comes to these issues.

Abortion. The Bible clearly prohibits murder. And it also talks a lot about life in the womb (i.e. Ps. 139:13; Jer. 1:5; Lk. 1:44). We now know from science that this happens when a father’s sperm and mother’s egg unite. Look at a baby… Would it be okay to kill him today? How about yesterday? How about the day before? How about at birth? How about the day before that? The day before that?…. The day before that….?….

Not all, but a significant number of abortions occur because pregnancy clashes with the chief values of independence and self-fulfillment. And we rationalize it because we deem the fetus a non-person because it can’t think or do something that adds value. But instead we are to see these as the weakest members of our human community that call for our care and protection.

In Vitro Fertilization

What about IVF?…

Euthanasia

There was an opinion piece in the New York Times this last weekend by Lyndsay Werking-Yip. The title was, “I Had a Late-Term Abortion. I Am Not a Monster.” A non-Christian friend sent it to me and asked me what I thought. Here’s a segment:

My husband and I chose to end our child’s life. Many imagine this as an impossible decision to make, one that would take hours of deliberation. I will be honest with you. You may not want to hear this, but the decision was obvious to us. Our child would not be given a life of pain and suffering…. I do not regret the decision we made. Within 15 minutes of the diagnosis [of severe brain malformation], we knew what we had to do: We would become baby killers…. I want people to know: I ended my child’s life. At 23 weeks and six days into my pregnancy, I had a ‘late term’ abortion. When people ask, ‘How could you?’ I reply that allowing her to live would have been a fate worse than death. Her diagnosis was not fatal, not incompatible with the bare mechanics of a living body. But it was incompatible with a fulfilling life. And that makes all the difference to me

What do you think? Isn’t this a much more beautiful picture? https://erlc.com/resource-library/event-messages/testimony-choosing-life

Today on NPR I heard the story of Marieke Vervoort, who died by physician assisted suicide yesterday… https://www.bbc.com/sport/disability-sport/50145393

For Providers…

What issues are you facing? Are you willing to be so weird that you lose your medical license?

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Entertainment; Gender, Sexuality, & Family; Fitness; Work, Money, & Possessions…

Prayer – Get in groups the following groups: (1) doctors or doctors in training, (2) other medical professionals and those in training, (3) those in non-medical fields who have been to a hospital/doctor’s office in the last 10 months, (4) those in non-medical fields who have not been to a hospital/doctor’s office in the last 10 months…

Repent of ways that you have bought into the world’s lies about the meaning of life and pray for courage to stand with God’s truth…

Pray that IBC would be a loving place of interdependence where all of life is valued and members are cared for…

Pray for opportunities to speak of the hope of the gospel in bioethical conversations…

PRELUDE – “Instead of a Show” by Jon Foreman

 

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

“Let’s come together.”

“Hear this call to worship from “Psalm 95.”

 

Song –

Crown Him With Many Crowns” by George Job Elvey, Godfrey Thring, and

Matthew Bridges

 

CONFESSION OF SIN –

Hear this prayer of confession in Nehemiah 1:5-6

O Lord God of heaven,

the great and awesome God

who keeps covenant and steadfast love

with those who love him and keep his commandments,

let your ear be attentive and your eyes open,

to hear the prayer of your servant

that I now pray before you day and night

for the people of Israel your servants,

confessing the sins of the people of Israel,

which we have sinned against you.

 

“In light of the ways we too have disregarded the laws of the Lord, let us take a

moment to confess our sins to our God who is faithful to redeem the outcast.”

 

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – “Listen to this assurance of pardon from 1 Peter 2:9”

But you are a chosen race,

a royal priesthood,

a holy nation,

a people for his own possession,

that you may proclaim the excellences of him

who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Once you were not a people,

but now you are God’s people;

once you had not received mercy,

but now you have received mercy.”

 

Songs –

Give Us Clean Hands” by Charlie Hall

No Longer Slaves” byBrian Johnson, Joel Case, and Jonathan David Helser

 

PRAYER

CHILDREN’S BLESSING & DISMISSAL – Romans 5:8

SCRIPTURE READING –Amos 9:1-15 have people stand

SERMON – “Destruction and Restoration”

LORD’S TABLE

 

Song(s) –

Before the Throne of God Above”by Charitie Lees Bancroft and Vikki Cook

Be Unto Your Name” by Gary Sadler and Lynn DeShazo

 

OFFERING

 

Song –

We Will Feast in the House of Zion” byJoshua Moore and Sandra McCracken

 

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE – “So Will I” by 100 Billion X

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Drugs & Alcohol”

October 16, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #364 “Like a River Glorious” & #366 “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”

Testimonies – Who has a story of being weird and/or winsome with the world lately?

Teaching

Recap

“For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles – when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation” (1Pe. 4:3-4; NKJV). The world will think we’re strange, weird, that we don’t do what they do.

But there’s a weird that’s just plain weird, and there’s a weird that’s intriguing, curious… winsome. That’s what we’re going for.

How are Christians winsomely weird when it comes to authority?? How about purpose?? What about speech; how do we talk differently than the world in a way that’s not nails on a chalkboard, but catches attention? What makes us stand out with regard to our relationships and conflict?

Introduction

Tonight we’re going to talk about drugs and alcohol. The world has a way of thinking about drinking. We as Christians should too… and it can’t just be the world’s; we can’t uncritically go right along with the world’s practices when it comes to alcohol. The world around us also has a way of thinking about pot. How are we supposed to think about that? That’s where we’re going to.

First, I just want to set forth a series of questions we need to ask with regard to anything kind of substance that we take into our bodies. The world pretty much just asks one question – Does this make me feel good? Or maybe, Does this make me look cool? We have to go deeper. Here are 8 questions I thought of:

(1) Is it legal? Romans 13:1 tells us that our general attitude is to “be subject to the governing authorities.” If a government says a particular food or drug is not safe, we better have a good reason to disobey them. Is it legal?

(2) Is it necessary? Is this something I need to live, like food and water? The Bible assumes that there are basic necessities that we need. 1 Timothy 6:8 – “If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Is it necessary?

(3) Is it good? Is this something I can ask God for and thank him for? Is this one of the good and perfect gifts from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17). Is it good?

(4) Is it healthy? “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1Cor. 6:19-20). Our bodies are not inconsequential. Matter matters. And so we should be good stewards of our physical health. Is it healthy?

(5) Is it an addiction? We must ask ourselves when it comes to anything we put into our bodies – can I say No? Or has this thing become my master? 1 Corinthians 6:12 – the Corinthians were saying, “All things are lawful for me,” but Paul said, “but I will not be dominated/enslaved by anything.” Is it an addiction? We’re not supposed to be addicted to anything.

(6) Is it intoxicating? Does it impair your ability to think and change your personality and make you lose control of yourself? In other words, does it make you not you, transcribe you into a different state that you return back from later? Does it do something unnatural to me? Does it have “a psychoactive affect… [on] brain function, resulting in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior?”[i] This concept comes from the Bible’s prolific treatment on alcohol, which we’ll look at in a second. Is it intoxicating?

(7) Is it an idol? Is your use of this created thing an escape from God? Are you turning to this thing instead of God for the things that you are supposed to look to God for?

(8) And then lastly there is the question – Is it wise? It may be legal, in the category of necessary, good, healthy, non-addictive, not intoxicating, and not an idol, but still not wise to partake of for different people in different situations.

Food

Okay, so let’s start by running food through these questions. Is food legal? Besides raw milk in certain states, I can’t really think of much that we would want to eat that was prohibited by law.

Is it necessary? Yes. Without food and water we will die. God made us to need it and so it’s not wrong to eat. In fact, it is right and good.

That’s the third question – is it good? In the New Covenant, there are no foods that are unclean (cf. Mk. 7:19). In 1 Timothy 4:4, talking about food, Paul says, “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” Jesus teaches us to pray – “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11). You can eat and drink to the glory of God (1Cor. 10:31). “The Son of Man came eating and drinking” (Mt. 11:19). Food is good!

Is it healthy? This is where it starts to get tricky. Our understanding of health is regularly changing. But we generally know that an exclusive diet of sugar is bad for you. Proverbs 25:27 – “It is not good to eat much honey.” And to eat excessively (gluttony) is not good for you. But a well-balanced diet in moderation is healthy.

Which leads into the next question we have to ask when it comes to foods – Is it an addiction? Are we able to exercise self-control when it comes to eating? Can we go without sweats or meat for a while without being cranky and jittery? This is where fasting is helpful. Food is a necessity, so we need it in a sense, but do we neeeed it? “Is it an addiction?” is a helpful question to ask when you’re asking, “Should I eat this?”

Next, is food intoxicating? I suppose certain mushrooms might be psychedelic. But for the most part, food does not transform our character or radically alter our performance. I may be a little sleepy after eating a lot of turkey, but it’s not illegal to drive a car under the influence of turkey, and rightly so. I may run faster if I had a good breakfast, but the International Olympic Committee has not banned Nutrigrain bars? Food can make me feel better, but I’m still me after a meal.

Is food an idol? Not inherently. This gets to motivation. Philippians 3:19 talks about people for whom “their god is their belly.” Am I looking to ice cream to comfort me instead of the Lord? Or am I finding my righteousness in eating paleo? There are many ways our food consumption could be idolatrous.

And then there are endless other questions of wisdom. Do I need to become a foodie to win foodies (cf. 1Cor. 9:19-23)? Is shopping at Whole Foods the best use of my money? Is it unethical to eat chickens from farm factories? ??

Poison

Just for fun, let’s run arsenic through this. Is arsenic legal? Probably not; idk. It’s not necessary for survival, in fact the opposite: it kills. It’s not good. It’s not healthy. But here’s what it has going for it – it’s not addictive (as far as I know). I don’t know how to answer the intoxicating question. If it was taken in order to control one’s own death, I suppose you could say it was idolatrous. It’s safe to say that poison is not wise.

Alcohol

Okay, here we go. Alcohol: is it legal? Yes, for those 21 and older.

Is alcohol necessary? No. You can live a full life without ever tasting a drop of alcohol. One thinks of the Nazirite vows in the OT (cf. Nu. 6) and even Samson who was a Nazirite from birth (Jdgs. 13:2ff).

But are alcoholic drinks good? Yes, they are. Psalm 104 – “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (Ps. 104:14-15). Alcohol was used in OT worship celebrations (Dt. 14:26). Jesus provided wine for a wedding (Jn. 2:1ff) and used it in the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

Is alcohol consumption healthy? Well, Paul tells Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1Tim. 5:23). I’m not sure what the rationale was behind that. Alcohol has a germ killing quality and in some places it is healthier to drink than water. Some studies are showing certain medical benefits of moderate alcohol intake, such as reduced risk of heart disease. However, excessive alcohol use has a massive list of adverse health effects, including heart disease, cancer, liver damage…

That brings us to the question – is it an addiction? Alcohol has a powerful addictive potential, especially for certain people. Alcoholism is a very real problem that has destroyed many, many lives. It’s a cruel, cruel slave-master. The Bible is very clear that we are not to be drunkards (i.e. 1Cor. 6:10). If you have a drinking problem, you need to admit it and seek help. And if you are a recovering alcoholic you should stay far away from alcohol. And if you don’t have an issue now, you should be very careful that you don’t become addicted to alcohol.

Sixthly, is alcohol intoxicating? Yes, it has that chemical property. Unless you’re missing the enzyme to break down alcohol, you can have a drink (12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, 1 shot of liquor) and still be in control of all of your faculties. But multiple drinks move you beyond enjoying the pairing of a nice red with a steak and get you into the realm of intoxication. You act different. Your hand-eye coordination and reflex times are significantly affected. This is clearly off-limits according to the Bible. There are stories of bad things happening when people are drunk (i.e. Gen. 19:30-38). And there are verses like Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” Being influenced and controlled by alcohol is wrong. We should be under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. And in Galatians 5 the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, but one of the works of the flesh is drunkenness (Gal. 5:21). So never drinking alcohol to the point of intoxication is a clear way that Christians will be weird to much of the world.

Is it an idol? It can definitely be. Most people drink in order to forget their problems; that is looking to alcohol for something you should look to God for. We drink in order to lighten up and have pleasure instead of finding pleasure in God. It’s also a way to dull the conscience and do and say the sinful things that are in your heart without a filter: anger, sex…

Is it wise? It depends on your genetics. Your finances – I think if you look at Christians’ budgets the amount of money we give away is about equivalent to the world’s entertainment budget, a big part of which will be alcohol. Drinking water saves big time on eating out and groceries so you can spend that money elsewhere. Something to consider. It depends on your upbringing and who is watching. Romans 14:21 says, “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” Can you get drunk? No. Are you free to drink? Yes, but use your freedom wisely. If you don’t drink, don’t feel superior or self-righteous.

One thing I worry about is people who grew up in Christian contexts and for various reason are not that experienced with alcohol, going to another extreme in their 20s and making it an obsession. And why? I think it is largely because they are listening to the world tell them what is cool and desperately wanting to be cool. Magazines and movies portray drinking as cool, sophisticated, smart, fun… and too often Christians let the world tell them what is cool.

I went to a Christian college that required students to pledge not to drink alcohol. One summer I worked for a company selling books with several other students from our school. Some of us sold enough books to win a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, over Spring Break. We showed up and there the legal drinking age was 18. It was an ethical quandary. Several students were excited by the opportunity. One night we went on a booze cruise and everyone was getting sloshed. To be in the world meant going to the party. To be not of the world meant not getting drunk. And in this case not even drinking, because we had given our word that we wouldn’t. That made people curious and opened up conversations about Jesus. But one student from our school was wasted and ended the night making out on top of a girl on the beach. People noticed that too. Brothers and sisters: let’s be wise and winsomely weird when it comes to alcohol consumption.

Tobacco

Let’s quickly walk through the 8 questions with tobacco… What do you think? Is it legal, necessary, good, healthy, addictive, intoxicating, idolatrous? What does wisdom say?

Caffeine

What do you think?

Marijuana

Legal: starting January 1 if over 21.

Necessary: no

Good: maybe CBD??

Healthy: maybe CBD??

Addictive: yes

Intoxicating: This is the real issue. There is almost no way to ingest or inhale THC without getting high. And there’s really no reason to do it apart from the experience of being stoned. It takes somewhere around four beers to get drunk. And some people like the taste of a beer. But nobody is eating cannabis brownies for the taste. And it takes only four puffs of a joint to get high (less than 7 mg of THC). So… what does the Bible’s prohibition against getting drunk mean for Mary Jane??

Idol: yes

Wise: no…  medical??

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Entertainment, Gender, Sexuality, & Family, Bioethics, Fitness; Work, Money, & Possessions; Entertainment…

Prayer – Get in groups with those who live in your neighborhood: Tri-Taylor/Medical District, Little Italy/UIC, ABLA/University Village, East Pilsen, West Pilsen, outside the UIC Area…

Pray for forgiveness for ways we’ve sinned with food/alcohol/drugs and ask God’s help to change something you’ve been convicted by…

Pray for our church to be filled with the Spirit…

Pray for opportunities to witness to the superior pleasure of Christ to those who get drunk at the company Christmas party or high as marijuana is becoming legal…

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

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