My New View on Alcohol

Understanding the Tension of Modern Biblical Decision Making

The consumption of alcohol continues to be a controversial topic. I shared my personal thought process a while back (3 Reasons Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol). After a discussion with my wife about the topic and potential interpretations, I’ve come to realize it sounded more narrow-minded than I ever intended. I was hoping it would help readers come to their own conclusion.

My New View on Alcohol

So, since this blog is about our spiritual journey, let me apologize for my lack of clarity and let me share with you my new view on drinking alcohol.

Lessons learned…

No matter what your view may be, this topic is personal enough that not all will agree. Sometimes we can argue facts, but the reality is, much of this conversation is based on personal experience.

For example, a family impacted by an alcoholic family member, will almost certainly view this subject differently than a family who has created a culture of responsible consumption. And, if we were honest, there’s about thousand different situations in-between.  We have to respect each and every one of these situations.

I also wanted to give Christians (especially believers who abstain from alcohol) the ability to see an example of “thinking it through.” Growing up, I really wasn’t given the opportunity or space to ask questions to define my own answer to whether or not I would consume alcohol. Did my original post successfully help people think? Probably not the way I would have liked.

My 3 Reasons Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol were never meant to be prescriptive to every Christian, nor do I judge any Christian who responsibly consumes alcohol. I have many Christian family members and friends who choose to consume – and do so in front of me. I certainly have no problem with that.

In fact, the reasons I give for not drinking, can easily become the reasons why a Christian could drink responsibly.  It’s a healthy tension that each believer must weigh out as they make their decision.

So in light of that new understanding, I’ll give you three tensions a Christian must weigh out. Remember these are personal tensions – one that each believer must work through.

1. “No alcohol” versus “conservative alcohol.”

We don’t know for sure, but it’s safe to say that Jesus and his disciples consumed wine.  It was part of their culture and it was never mentioned as being an issue.

Like I mention in my previous post, the only time the Greek word for “new wine” (gleukos, meaning “sweet unfermented wine”) is used, is in Acts 2.  When the disciples were filled with the spirit, several witnesses were making fun of them as if they could get drunk off of weak wine.1  Why? Because they weren’t known to be drunk.  Their view of alcohol was clearly on the conservative side.

THINK: How conservative do I need to be to gain the kind of reputation the disciples had?

2. “Sin” versus “Boundary.”

The only sin we see in scripture is drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-25).  Unfortunately, drinking too much alcohol leads to drunkenness.  So the natural tension becomes one of sin versus boundary.  Because of his stomach and sickness, Paul told Timothy to have a little wine (1 Timothy 5:23).  Obviously, the journey wasn’t towards sin but towards a healthy boundary.

THINK: What boundaries do I have to put in place in order to stay away from drunkenness?

3. “Culture” versus “Witness.”

There’s a vast discussion here alone.  The tensions of particular situations, local cultures, and ethnic traditions, all impact how we understand alcohol.  That, paired with our potential witness to others, could dramatically impact our view.

Paul said, “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful” (1 Corinthians 10:23).  Likewise, “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25).  No matter the situation, we need to be willing to put our own desires aside for the sake of the Kingdom and live in that tension.

THINK: How does my culture and witness impact my view of alcohol?

Your turn…

How do you reflect on these tensions regarding alcohol consumption?


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Why Christians Shouldn’t Fear the Immigration of Refugees

7 Thoughts To Consider Regarding Immigration and Refugees

World-wide hate crimes and acts of terror are increasing the need to relocate people to safer locations.  Along the way, one word seems to guide the conversation – fear.  While uncertainty is no doubt a major cause of fear, Christians should have nothing to fear.

Why Christians Shouldn’t Fear the Immigration of Refugees

In fact, Christians should be embracing immigration and welcoming refugees. Here are seven thoughts to consider:

1.     Refugees are seeking help.

Just like Joseph’s family fled to Egypt for famine relief (Genesis 46-47), and Jesus’ family searched for refuge in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15), many are looking for help in our world today.  Their beliefs and values don’t always line up with ours, but their need for safety is more than real.

2.     God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear.

We’re called to spread the truth and grace of the gospel without fear. We should be unashamed of God’s grace, and pursue love and self-discipline (2 Tim 1:7). If we have the opportunity to love others, we should do so.

3.     It’s not about us – we’re called to selflessness.

Jesus humbly gave his life for others; we should humbly invite hurting people to safe sanctuary. Click To TweetWe can quickly play the “national security” card, but if we were honest with ourselves, we would know we need to put the needs of others before ourselves.

“In humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to [your] own interests, but also to the interest of others…Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God…but made himself nothing…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3-8, ESV)

Jesus humbly gave his life for others; we should humbly invite hurting people to safe sanctuary.

4.     We need to love others, even when it hurts.

It doesn’t matter who it is or what background they may come from, a person in need is a person in need.  Jesus said the two greatest commandments include “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” When asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He used a parable to describe a man who loved and helped another man in need despite his differences. (Luke 10:25-37)

5.     We’re called to welcome “strangers”.

From the Old Testament to the New, the call to love “strangers” and “sojourners” has never ceased.  God reminded the Israelites to love strangers because they were once strangers in Egypt themselves (Deuteronomy 10:19).

Paul describes a true #Christian as someone who seeks to show #hospitality -- #refugees #immigration Click To TweetPaul describes a true Christian as someone who seeks to show hospitality, lives in harmony, and even loves their enemies to the extent of meeting their needs (Romans 12:9-21). The reach of hospitality should be fully extended.

The Hebrew writer even reminds us that, in our hospitality of strangers, some have actually entertained angels (Hebrews 13:2).  In our fear, have we ever pushed away God’s messengers?

6.     We were all once “aliens”.

From a theological perspective, all Christians were once “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:12).

Through Christ, however, we are one body.  It really doesn’t matter what the religious intentions of refugees may be – God loved us before we loved Him.  God provided a way for us to become united when we were all strangers to the Kingdom.  Why should we fear those seeking peace?

7.     We’re called to show God’s accepting love.

James wrote, “Faith by itself, if it does not have [good] works, is dead” (James 2:17).  We can believe in God, belong to the Kingdom, and be a “Christian,” but if we do not physically meet the needs of those around us, “what good is that” (2:16)?

I know we have to be responsible and ensure we are actually meeting legitimate needs in the world, but any true follower of Christ should fearlessly pursue the act of welcoming and helping refugees as the need arises.

This is not to say that the less fortunate in our own hometowns should be ignored.  Jesus is calling us to “make friends” with our “worldly wealth” (Luke 16).  That means to consistently help those with less to the point of unity – bringing people out of poverty, helping those in the community, and pointing people to the truth of eternity.

Viewing the #immigration of #refugees selflessly...is part of the very essence of the #Kingdom! Click To TweetViewing the immigration of refugees selflessly, and not selfishly, is part of the very essence of the Kingdom!  I pray we can release our selfish conservative nature and engage in true ministry.

Your turn…

How do you view the immigration of refugees?  Is there a difference between government policy and Christian responsibility?


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A Poorly Written Government Motion?

A Christian Response to M-103

Canadians are stirred up over the recent private member’s motion (M-103) that was tabled back in December 2016.  You can read the motion here: Systemic racism and religious discrimination. As of this posting, the House of Commons has begun their debate (February 15, 2017).

M-103 A Poorly Written Government Motion

Despite the numerous concerns being voiced, it’s expected that government will pass the motion.  This really shouldn’t be difficult to understand since we are still living in the aftermath of events like January’s attack at a Quebec Mosque.

What’s of more concern, however, is the riled “Christian” response.  Many are upset that Government is protecting another religion over their own.  Many believe this is step one, to losing their freedom of speech.  Others still believe that this is the back door to a “hidden agenda”.

Whatever the debate at hand, this is a poorly written motion that will pass and Christians will have to come to understand how to navigate the Christian faith in a shifting Canadian landscape.

Christendom is over…

Canada is not a Christian country.  It hasn’t been one for quite some time.  We are a nation that encourages and celebrates diversity.  That doesn’t mean Christianity doesn’t belong in Canada, it just simply means policy is not influenced by Christianity.

Pluralism is in…

Some argue we are in a post-Christendom era, however, with motions like this one on the table, I would argue that we are even further from that.  Perhaps it’s more accurate to say Canada is in a “Plural-dom” era – where policy affects religion, and yet religion doesn’t affect policy.

A Poorly Written Motion

If, in fact, we are living in a pluralistic culture, ALL religions should be protected within the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  That doesn’t mean everyone will agree, rather, everyone has the right to believe what they believe.  Any further motion and potential bill, should aid in protecting against ALL religious hate crimes and should speak to ALL religions, and not just one.  Currently, Islam is the only religion specifically mentioned.

The implications of naming only one religion only further damages the very idea government is trying to encourage. If all faiths are equally protected, then all faiths should be mentioned or no faiths at all (keep it general). With only one faith mentioned in this motion, it will unequivocally end in further hate towards the faiths not mentioned and protect Islam before the rest.  Blacks and Jews, for example, both experience the highest rates of hate crimes in Canada.1

Further, the lack of clarity in the motion doesn’t help.  Will you be able to challenge or debate anything? The very act of healthy criticism and discussion is what helps us to shape and understand the belief systems we all believe in.  Healthy criticism and debate is far from hate, but a lack of clarity leads people to uncertainty.

If the actual intent is to protect all faiths, then M-103 is a poorly written motion.If the actual intent is to protect all faiths, then M-103 is a poorly written motion. Click To Tweet

With that said, I pray that any resulting bill that may, or may not, be placed before the House will be written with clarity and with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in mind.

So how should a Christian respond?

I understand these are uncertain days and that people can feel threatened.  In a pluralistic society, however, we have to be very careful in how we respond.  If we want to make a positive impact for Jesus, here are some guidelines:

1. Celebrate in the fact that our government would like to stop hate crimes.

This should be a win for any believer.  Hate is not a good thing and Jesus calls us to love one another – even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  What’s even more exciting, is that the Canadian government wants to take action without instilling fear.

2. Pray for our leaders.

Our leaders will make decisions you may or may not agree with, but the tensions they are trying to navigate are vast.  They need our prayerful support, not our unleashed anger (1 Timothy 2).

3. Ensure to give others the rights they deserve.

In Canada, everyone has the right to choose a religion and state their opinion and beliefs.  We should remember that this is a biblical concept – it’s called freewill (2 Peter 3:9).

4. Voice concerns in a respectful way.

Be intelligent, act responsibility, and be above reproach.  Everyone has the right to speak, but speaking out of anger or fear is not having “the same mindset as Christ” (Philippians 2).

While the problems with M-103 have the potential to be great, we need to learn to respond with the same Christian values we long to protect.

Christendom is over and pluralism is our new reality.  The best voice Christians can have is one of respect and concern for those with different beliefs.  God loves everyone and wishes all of them to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), but that message is lost when we selfishly try to restore Christendom in a nation that has already moved on.

Your turn…

What are your thoughts on this private members’ motion (M-103)?  How can Christians responsibly navigate the days ahead?


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What does it mean to Love Jesus?

10 Ways we Show How Much We Love Jesus

It’s pretty simple: Jesus loves you.  The question is: do you love Him?  We might answer “yes” to that question fairly quickly, but do we stop and think about what it really means to show and express love for Jesus?

What Does It Mean To Love Jesus

My wife and I had a long discussion one day about “dirty dishes and clothes on the floor.” Yes, you read that correctly.  Long story short – even if I don’t mind a few dirty dishes in the sink and some clothes on the floor, I’m able to show her how much I love her by cleaning those dishes and picking up the clothes.  I never stopped loving her, but these actions help express that love in a tangible way and keep me focused on serving my wife, rather than myself.

Don’t get sidetracked by my example… The point is, we may love Jesus, but do our everyday lives speak that same language?

I’m sure we could list a ton of different ways of showing Jesus how much we love Him, but I’ll offer ten.  If you have another, take a moment and include it in a comment at the bottom of the post. I’d love to hear from you!

1. We communicate daily with Him.

Praying and reading His Word (the Bible) is a daily activity that helps us communicate with Him.  But it’s more than asking for a wish-list.  The Spirit uses prayer and scripture, to help us better understand God’s voice.  If we do that daily, we show how much we love Jesus (Rom 12:12).

2. We follow His commands and lead.

It’s not popular to say we follow a “set of rules,” however, because we are saved by grace, we should want to express our gratitude by serving Him and following His lead in our lives.  We don’t follow His commands to receive salvation; we follow His commands because of our salvation (2 Cor 5:14f).We don’t follow His commands to receive salvation; we follow His commands because of our salvation. Click To Tweet

3. We worship God every day.

Our “worship experience” includes Sunday, can’t be limited to Sunday.  True worship is a life-long journey of expressing our love for Jesus every day.  It may not be in the form of singing, but our attitude towards life should echo our love for Jesus (John 4:21-24).

4. We live selflessly, not selfishly.

Our culture tells us WE are most important.  Scripture tells us, JESUS is most important.  The main idea – if we love Jesus, we will live selfless lives that focus on loving God and loving others, long before serving ourselves.  (Related post: Who’s More Important: Jesus or Me?)

5. We love and serve when others don’t deserve.

Even when others may wrong us, or take action that “deserves” punishment, the way we react to them is critical.  Because Jesus loves everyone, our reaction of extending that love (the same love that He gives us) makes a big statement on how much we, in fact, love Jesus (Mat 5:44; Luke 6:27).

6. We share in the joy and pain of others.

“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12:26, ESV).  Unity in both joy and suffering is vital in the journey of discipleship.  If we do this authentically, we really show how much we love Jesus.

7. We hold true to our integrity.

Being deceitful is a sure way to devalue your love for Jesus.  Being honest and having integrity, on the other hand, proves to God, and others, that the loving truth we believe in is worth living for (Prov 11:3; 28:6; 2 Cor 8:21; 1 Peter 3:16). Having integrity.. proves to God, & others, that the loving truth we believe in is worth living for. Click To Tweet

8. We belong to a local Church.

Saying we love Jesus, but hate the Church is like saying we love God, but hate His body. No matter how messed up we think the Church may be, we’re all just as messed up without Jesus.  Belonging to a local Church (ie. The hands and feet of Jesus) is vital if we are serious about loving Jesus.  (Related Post: We Don’t Have To Go To Church)

9. We support the local Church financially.

Tithing is a biblical principle, but not an absolute law under grace.  What does that mean?  It means tithing is not requirement of salvation and we are no longer restricted to give only ten percent.  In fact, Jesus reminds us that everything we have belongs to Him and we are to follow His lead as we make financial decisions (Luke 18:22).  Want to show that you love Jesus? Financially support His hands and feet (the Church) as they reach out into the community.  Without financial support, local ministry and leadership fall apart (Phil 4:10-20).Love Jesus? Financially support His hands & feet (the Church) as they reach out into the community. Click To Tweet

10. We generously give to those in need.

Over and above supporting the local Church and leadership, the early Church made sure all the needs around them were met. So much so, that some even sold their possessions to help others in need (Acts 2:45).  Talk about generously showing how much you love Jesus!

Your turn…

How do you show Jesus how much you love Him?  Comment below with ways to share your love for Jesus and feel free to elaborate and ask questions about the above ten!


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Are We ALL ‘Children of the same God’?

A Response to the Call of Unity and Salvation

The call for unity and peace has never been greater.  The world is searching for an appropriate answer for the political, religious, and racial tensions that overwhelm the news every day.  Unity seems to be the best solution.  If all positive people unite together to obtain peace and love, we’ll be alright.  The problem – while peace and love can be unifying characteristics, it doesn’t mean we believe the same thing.

Are We ALL Children of the Same God

In a recent homily, Pope Francis said this:

“All of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelical [Protestants] brothers and sisters – children of the same God – we want to live in peace, integrated.”1

Are we really “children of the same God”?  Is his understanding correct?  Can there be more than one meaning to that phrase?  I believe Pope Francis is correct in what he means, but misleading in what he said.

God is the Father of Humanity

From the beginning, God created both male and female in His own image (Gen 1:27).  God is the Father of Adam.  In Luke’s genealogy, Jesus is literally related to “Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38). God is the Father and creator of every person on this earth.God is the Father and creator of every person on this earth. #Gen1 #Luke3 Click To Tweet

Sin Changed the Relationship

When Adam and Eve sinned, the relationship between humanity and God changed (Gen 3).  God remained as our Father, but we failed to remain his faithful children.  In family terms – because of sin, we are no longer natural heirs of the Kingdom.  God is our Father, but our sin has forfeited our rights as His children.

God Made a Covenant with Israel

As history unfolded, God made a covenant with Abraham, and through him all of Israel, to be a great nation – “the children of God” (Gen 15, 17; Ps 82:6). The Israelites would be God’s chosen people.  Even then, however, the people turned away and lost their blessing (Jer 2; Hos 11).  God remained as their loving Father, but His children relentlessly turned away.

Until the turning point – when Christ was born.

Jesus Provides Adoption

Through Jesus, and only through Jesus, we can become reunited as God’s true children.  He always was, always is, and always will be our Father, but the only way we can receive the “right to become children of God,” is by “receiving [Jesus] and believing in His name” (John 1:12).

As Paul wrote:

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

4 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Gal 3:26-4:7, NIV)

Until we accept Jesus we are like slaves and have no right to Kingdom.  We are all created by the Father, but naturally heirs of our sin.  When we accept Jesus and follow Him, we not only become “adopted children,” but also “rightful heirs” of the eternal Kingdom to come.

Where we misunderstand each other…

Pope Francis is a positive wildcard in the Catholic Church right now.  He is stirring a new generation of Christians to engage in acts of service and love.  His true “Good Samaritan” acts, like washing the feet of Muslim migrants, is truly humbling and inspiring.2  When he said all are “children of the same God,” he was referring to our origin, not our salvation.  Our word choice and our understanding of those words, can dramatically impact authentic unity.

I believe God is my Father.God is the Father of all, but those who follow Him are His children. #ChildOfGod Click To Tweet

I believe Jesus, God’s son, is the only way to the Father.

But I also believe in peace.

I believe in choice.

I believe all people (who God created) have the ability to choose their path.

That means all people are created and Fathered by God, but not all people will choose to become rightful children of God.  We are not ALL children of God simply because He is our Father.  God is the Father of all, but those who follow Him are His children.

Your turn…

How have you used the phrase “Children of God?”  Are you a “child of God?”


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