India – Part VI

Jeff Scurlock —  April 16, 2014 — Leave a comment

CIMG3088

Please Read Parts I – V

Sleep never came. I guess it was a combination of things. Nerves and the anticipation of what was ahead of us, second hand cigarette smoke and the tight seat.

If my calculations and limited memory are correct it was  2 or 3pm when we arrived in London and 8am at home. So by now it’s been about twenty-eight hours since our alarm clock went off, the morning of departure.  World travel is second nature to some but for us at that stage in our life it was all new, exciting and unnerving.

I remember our approach into Heathrow International Airport. I looked out the window at the neighborhoods and found it quite amazing that I was looking down on the city of London.  It wasn’t long before the airport and our runway were underneath us and I felt our large ship touch down.  Most of the passengers onboard applauded when we landed.  I wondered why. Were they so nervous about the flight that a safe landing deserved applause?

Our time in London would be short.   There was no time for exploration and being  green travelers we wouldn’t have ventured too far away anyway.  I don’t remember the exact amount of time we were there. Somewhere between an hour and three I suppose.   All passengers were unloaded so that the airplane could be cleaned, restocked and refueled.  Our flight from London to Bombay would be aboard the same aircraft.  We had come a long way but still had a very long way to go.

Back aboard the 747 and in our exact same seats in the smoking section we were off. Next stop, India.

Meal time on this Air India flight was interesting.  First of all we were always asked, “meat or veg.” What? Meat! Many Indian’s are Hindu and because we were on an Air Indian flight the option was given. Hindu’s don’t eat meat. Of course Felicia and I always asked for meat which was always lamb. There were other vegetables and items on the tray that were definitely foreign to us but  always delicious!

Our Flight to Bonbay would be about nine hours.  The daylight portion of that flight was extremely interesting.  On a large screen in the front of our cabin was a map. On the map was a line showing where we had come from and where we were, our altitude, speed and the outside temperature.

Germany, Turkey, Iraq and Afganistan were some of the countries we flew over.  We flew between Baghdad and Tehran and I jokingly looked for missiles.  We flew over miles and miles of snow capped mountains.  It was beautiful.  Darkness came and our view was gone. Bombay was getting closer. Still no sleep.

We talked with our seat companion Naresh a lot. He was a Indian native who was attending college in the United States.  He was extremely interested as we talked about our reason for going to India. We talked about Jesus and His work on the cross but Naresh wasn’t ready to accept that to follow Jesus he must have only one God.

I quizzed Naresh as to what we should expect when getting to Bangalore and he prepared us by saying, “it will be like nothing you have ever seen in America.”  He asked me about our transportation arrangements in Bangalore.  I told him we were hiring a car and driver for our entire stay. “Good!” He said.  When I suggested that I’d love to do some driving myself in India he laughed at me.  ”You should not try driving in Bangalore. You have a car and driver, let him do the driving.” Not a big deal I thought. I was just making conversation.

When we touched down in Bombay (now Mumbai) the passengers applauded again.  We taxied to a spot on the tarmac and stopped. No gate in sight the passengers began unloading.  When we got to the door we realized that we wouldn’t be walking through an enclosed gangway to our gate.  It was stairs to the ground where we boarded buses that took us to our gate.

I’m not sure what time it was. Trying to remember and piece the flight times and time changes together is confusing. I do know it was dark.  When we walked into the airport Felicia and I just stuck close to our new Indian friend Naresh.

The airport terminal was old, smelly and looked as though either a bomb had gone off are there was some extensive demolition taking place and it was green. Everything was painted hospital green.   The first thing I remember is that every person who worked in that part of the airport that night was in what looked like an army uniform and they were all men and they all had a rifle over their shoulders.  Our first stop was a desk where we checked in with Passports and boarding passes and yes those behind the desk were men in uniforms with guns over their shoulders.  I didn’t know if the uniforms and guns were supposed to make me feel safe or nervous. I was nervous and it was about to get worse.

We were given a gate number for our connecting flight to Bangalore and many of the passengers including Naresh were taking that flight. Walking to the gate I had my video camera out trying to get as much of this scene as I could. Felicia called to my attention a large sign that said “NO PHOTOGRAPHY.” I was willing to comply and quickly put my camera away but was suspicious.  What were they hiding?

We followed the crowd through a door. Somehow I had managed to get in front of Felicia and Naresh. It was security. A belt that took the bags under the X-ray machine and more men in uniform with guns.  One of those men began yelling at someone which got my attention. As i payed closer attention I was shocked to discover that the person he was yelling at was me.

With his hands on his gun which by the way was pointing at me he yelled.  It wasn’t english. It was either Hindi or one of the six hundred dialects spoken in India. It didn’t matter. All that mattered is that this man with a gun seemed very angry at me and I didn’t know why.

 

India – Part V

Jeff Scurlock —  April 6, 2014 — Leave a comment

 

Air-India-Boeing-747-412-2

 

Please Read Parts 1 – 4 First

Boarding an Air India 747 was quite an experience.  Smoking was allowed on these flights so we made sure to purchase seats in the non-smoking area.  Three things stand out in my memory about boarding the aircraft. The sights; mostly Indian people who seemed to be right at home on this airplane. The sounds; chatter in the Hindi language, some english and The smell: not to be disrespectful but one thing I’ve learned about Indian people is that they love to cook with strong smelling spices and the aroma of those spices stay with them, on their breath, in their clothes.

We found our seats just three rows from the very back of the aircraft. I would be in seat A which was by a window. Felicia was in B the middle seat and in the isle seat was a young Indian who was a student at New York University. His name was Naresh.

It was late and our decent would be into the dark skies over the Atlantic ocean. I couldn’t help but think about the TWA flight that had gone down over these same waters at about this same time of night. I was still a bit nervous about flying and to make it worse I was on an Air Indian flight, leaving New York in the dark for a thirteen hour flight over the Atlantic Ocean.  I knew the flight would go by fast because I was exhausted and ready for some sleep.

Something wasn’t right. I could smell cigarette smoke. I looked around the cabin and there were several passengers who lit up as soon as the no smoking light was extinguished.  This can’t be right because we purchased seats in the non smoking area.  I was not very happy when I discovered that not only were we in the smoking area but we were in the rear of the aircraft, the place where passengers from non-smoking came to smoke.

My eyes searched the cabin as far as I could see. Looking for empty seats. Somewhere Felicia and I could move to escape the stifling smoke that had already formed a  thick cloud.  No luck. This 747 is packed. I didn’t see an empty seat anywhere.  I asked the flight attendant who was not compassionate about our situation. “There are no other seats,” she said.

This flight would be long.  Thirteen hours to London with a short layover.  Ten hours from London to Bombay (now Mumbai) with a short lay over.  Two and a half hours from Bombay to Bangalore for a total  time including flying from Pensacola to JFK with layovers  of nearly fifty hours.  The seat was tight the smoke was thick and there was a long way to go. Felicia and I agreed the best thing to do was try and relax and get some sleep.

India – Part IV

Jeff Scurlock —  March 30, 2014 — Leave a comment

InsideAircraft

I looked at Felicia and she looked a bit concerned too but as I looked around the cabin no one else seemed to notice the popping noise at all.  There was a gentleman across the isle from me, dressed in a suit and tie. He was reading the sports page of the Pensacola News Journal. He never looked away from his paper.  Apparently Felicia and I were the only ones who seemed to be concerned.  I felt pretty stupid when it dawned on me that the sound I was hearing was the landing gear.  We were approaching the Atlanta airport. The aircraft sped up and then slowed again. Faster, then slower as the pilot lined up for a landing. Moments later we were taxing to our gate.

Looking out the window it was much different than Pensacola. At the Pensacola airport there were only four aircraft parked at the one concourse. In Atlanta there were hundreds parked at many concourses.

We didn’t have to change concourses in Atlanta and there was about an hour in between arriving and leaving for New York’s JFK Airport.  Felicia and I found a snack bar and had a diet coke. It was all new to us. We were tired but excited.

Our flight from Atlanta to New York followed the East Coast.  It took two hours but it seemed like moments and we were landing at JFK.  We were in New York City. Well at least at a New York Airport. I must admit to you that I never saw even the skyline of Manhattan but it was still New York.

It wasn’t even lunch time yet and we were in for a long wait for our nine o’clock flight. To make things harder we had to keep up with our four large suitcases and our carry on bags during the wait.  With the load there was no need to try and leave the airport so we found seats in our departure concourse and waited.  I don’t remember much about that time except it was long.  We had a nine hour wait which would be followed by nearly thirty hours of flying and layovers before landing in Bangalore.  I do remember having my first Nathan’s New York Hotdog for lunch. It was pretty good.

After a long wait the Air India ticket counter finally opened. It was so nice to finally get rid of those four large bags for a while.

Arvind had given me the dress code for preaching in India. “Suits! All Suits!”  he said.   I’m not sure that was the custom as much as that’s how Arvind wanted me to dress.  Having never flow commercial and having heard horror stories about lost luggage I prepared for the worst.  Most of my clothes, including all of my suits and a pair of dress shoes were framed into a roll up garment bag that I was using as carry on luggage.  If our luggage was lost I’d still have suits.

Just a little over a decade before our trip an Air India 747 went down in the Atlantic ocean because of a bomb detonation at 31,000 feet. Not long before our trip TWA Flight 800 went down just off the coast of New York because of an explosion.   The security at the gate of our flight was extremely tense and thorough.  Every cary on bag was being searched.  I didn’t know this was going to be the case or I wound not have so overpacked my roll up garment bag.  When  the poor lady unzipped it, Well lets just say, we had a mess on our hands.  It took me a while to get everything back in place and force the zippers but it was done and we waited in a large waiting room to board.

We were already lonely.  At least ninety percent of those waiting with us were of some eastern decent.  They all appeared to be Indian.  We hadn’t left New York yet but we were already in India.  It sure would have been nice to have had Arvind with us.  Even the promise of an American missionary waiting in Bangalore would have brought some level of comfort.  We were about to fly over eight thousand miles to a foreign country where there would be no familiar faces.  It doesn’t seem like such a big deal now but it was then.  We were leaving the country for the first time in our lives, alone.

 

India, Part III

Jeff Scurlock —  March 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

aircraft md80

This is Part III in the India series. Please read parts 1 and 2 first.

The preparation was completed and the time arrived that we would actually fly to the other side of the planet.  The morning of departure started extremely early.  An international flight starting in Pensacola required an early arrival.  The flight from Pensacola to Atlanta would depart at seven which meant we had to be there by six.  I’ve never made it a practice to be anywhere right on time. I had to be early so we were there by five thirty.  Felicia was already tired and now aggravated at me because we were the first people in the airport that morning. The ticket agents were not even on the job yet.

I had never flown commercial so even the simple task of checking in with the ticket agent was nerve racking to me. I didn’t want to look green, even though I was.  I managed to check the four large suitcases and get our boarding passes without any unbearable embarrassment.  It was just a little after six in the morning but because of a late night to bed, less than good sleep, an early alarm, a forty minute drive to the airport and the stress of getting checked in we were already exhausted. I had no idea that it would be nearly forty hours before I would get another moment of sleep.  I guess in some cases it’s good to not know the future.

We said bye to our family members who had come to see us off and our kids.  I don’t think the kids really understood what was going on but they seemed sad. Felicia and I were extremely nervous and excited about our trip be we too were a bit sad knowing that it would be fifteen days before we saw them again.  I can’t imagine the emotions that military parents deal with leaving their children for such long times.  I also think of the early days of world missionaries, especially the “One Way” missionaries who packed their belongings into coffins, leaving family and friends behind knowing they would never see them again.  All for the sake of the Gospel.

The Delta MD-80 was not a huge aircraft but fairly large coming out of the small Pensacola airport.  Every seat was occupied and my seat was more than occupied.

I have always been a lover of thrill rides so takeoff was exhilarating for me. I had been in the air many times in small private aircraft but had never felt the G-Force of a jet takeoff.  As I said, exhilarating.

The flight to Atlanta was to take less than an hour. Just long enough for the flight attendants to serve beverages and then pick up the trash.  I had managed to relax and enjoy the view outside the window until I heard a loud popping noise and then felt the aircraft slow dramatically.  To say I was concerned would be an understatement.

India – Part II

Jeff Scurlock —  March 25, 2014 — Leave a comment

travel-luggage-clipart-graphicsfairy004

 

This is part two of the India series. Please make sure you have read part one first.

 

 

We lived at least fifteen minutes from the nearest restaurant and Sunday lunches in one of them were not the norm. Felicia was home long before me that Sunday preparing lunch.  I must have had a look of shock on my face because she immediately knew something was up. When she asked I told her that Betty had given us a donation for our trip to India.

“How much is it?”  I handed her the check.  She looked at it for what seemed like eternity then looked up at me and said with a twinkle in her eyes, “we’re going to India.”

We needed three thousand dollars for the tickets and the check as you have already guessed by now was three thousand dollars.

I stayed in a state of shock and awe for several hours.  Where did Betty get that much money?  My shock and awe was followed by shame. I hadn’t really trusted that God would provide. He did it in spite of my lack of faith.  Why is it so hard to believe that God will make a way? Not only did God make a way for us to get the tickets purchase He used the most unlikely source.  There were people in our church who had lived well and planned well. They drove luxury vehicles and lived in nice homes.   It wasn’t them. It was Betty, the widow who lived in the small house and drove an old car.  It taught be a valuable lesson. A lesson I’ve had to learn again and again. I keep forgetting but God keeps reminding me that He chooses who He will use and it’s not usually the one with the most money, talent or pedigree.  God chooses the foolish things to confound the wise.

The date was set, the airline tickets with Air India purchased and preparation was in full swing.  There was so much to do. We would be gone for fifteen days. We had to make arrangements for our kids. That was the easy part. Our moms agreed to take turns staying with them at our house so they wouldn’t miss school.  There was more money to raise the cost of the airline tickets was half of what we needed for the trip.  I had faith now. I knew God had provided for the tickets. Now I was sure everything else would be ok.

Everything was not okay.  Arvind came by to see me one day to inform me that he would not be going to India with us. “Pastor Scurlock,” he said. “God has something else for me to do. I will not be going to India with you but there will be people who will greet you and take you to places to preach.”

“Hold on just one minute. You invited us to go to India with you. We have spent three thousand dollars on tickets, made plans and now your telling me this?”

“It will be fine pastor Scurlock. You don’t need me. God will go with you.”

In the years since going to India I have traveled and made many missions trips. Now I know how it works. You hook up with an American missionary. He or she makes your arrangements in country and you spend your time with them.  That would not be the case on our first trip out of the country.  We would arrive in Bangalore India at 3 am local  be greeted by an Indian man whom we had never met, and he would take us to our hotel. After that we were to be greeted by T.c. George who was the General Superintendent of the southern India Assemblies of God.  He would make our preaching arrangements. It brought some comfort that an Assembly of God brother would be with us but it was still our first trip out of the country and it was India and we had no American contacts there.

In the 90’s  you could check in two large suitcases per passenger and take a carry on bag.  Arvind asked us to smuggle some Christmas decorations in to some of his family. “Smuggle?” I asked.

“Pastor Scurlock the authorities will frown upon you if they find you have these decorations but it will be fine because God will get you through customs.”  Ok, now I’m worried.  This man of God is suggesting to me that I do something that would be frowned upon and that I should trust that God would get me through.

India – Part I

Jeff Scurlock —  March 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

India

It was the late 90’s. We were serving a church in North West Florida as their pastor.  It was a church of less than 200 people in a small community near Pensacola. The salary was modest.  We had three small children, a dog and one car.

Felicia and I had never even flown on a commercial flight much less left the country.  We were pretty much home bodies, so when our Indian friend Arvind suggested that we should go to India with him to preach the gospel we didn’t really take it seriously.

Some time passed by, we were hosting Arvind and Susan in our home, he was cooking Indian food, helping Adam with his math and chasing our little girls around the house to the sound of squeals in a game of hide and seek.  Our children loved Arvind.  The food was awesome and they loved the way he loved to play.  In a moment of stillness he looked into my eyes and said with his perfect English but with a heavy Indian accent,  “pastor Scurlock you and Felicia should go to India with me to preach.”

“Ok,” I said and he smiled.  While the smile was still large and his eyes sparkled with happiness I’m already having a personal conversation with myself inwardly.   “Jeffrey! What are you thinking? India?”

I was certainly no missionary. As a matter of fact I entered the ministry with the hope and expectation that God would never call me to a foreign country.” I encouraged my church to give to support missionaries, we gave to all kinds of missions endeavors and the monkey was off my back,. I thought.

Arvind immediately began putting the wheels in motion for our trip.  Before I could say “now wait a minute and slow down,” the date was set.  A few days later the phone rang and when I said hello I was greeted with Arvind’s usual telephone greeting,  “Praise the Lord pastor Scurlock.”  Then he pushed us another step closer to India with,  “I have reserved your airline tickets and I need $3000 to pay for them.”

“I don’t have three thousand dollars right now.”

“Pastor Scurlock, God will provide.”

I knew God was a miracle worker but three thousand dollars to me might as well been three hundred thousand.  I agreed with Arvind vocally, “Amen, God will provide,” but I had major doubts. After all I am human and three thousand dollars to fly to India seemed a little extravagant for me.

My congregation knew I was planning a trip to India. What they didn’t know is how little faith I had that it would ever actually happen.

A couple of days later it was Sunday.  Sunday’s are stressful for most pastors. I’m one of those. I’ve often said that my least favorite time of the week is Sunday morning before service begins.  Most Sunday mornings were spent dealing with the anticipation of what the day would bring, some stress usually accompanied by an upset stomach and coffee with men from the church.  The morning rocked along, pretty much normal.  The morning service must not have been anything special because I have absolutely no memory of it.  What I do remember is Betty walking to greet me at the pulpit when the service ended.  She was a middle-aged widow. Her husband had been killed a couple of years earlier in an accident.  She lived a simple life, a small home and old car, a couple of dogs on her front porch and her kids, mostly grown by now. “God told me to help you with your trip to India,” she said while reaching out to me with a folded check in her hand.  I immediately began having one of those personal conversations in my head.  As I’m reaching out to receive the check the conversation in my head goes something like this. “She’s a widow lady! What could she do? I know Betty doesn’t have much so Jeffrey don’t let your expectations of what that check amount is exceed common sense because you might be setting your self up for disappointment.”   As the conversation in my head continued I reasoned in myself that Betty could probably donate a hundred dollars and that would be extravagant for her.

Now with the check in my hand I embrace Betty to say think you and then she walks away.  I didn’t want to seem to eager so I waited until she had exited the building.

frustrated

Yes, it really happened. Years ago at one of our previous churches a little older lady who was not a shut-in called our home. Felicia took the call and had a look of shock on her face as she held the receiver to her ear. Then came her response to the call, “no mam, I don’t think he will do that. I’m so sorry.”  As I wait for the call to end curiosity is getting the best of me. Felicia put’s the phone down and said to me. “You are not going to believe this. That was (name not important) and she wanted to know if pastor Jeff would go to the store and buy her some panties.” It’s funny now but at the time I didn’t take it with such humor. Why? because folks will find any reason to become critical and put their pastors in difficult lose-lose situations. In twenty-nine years of pastoral ministry it never ceases to amaze me what good folks expect from their pastor.

  • They expect him to know without being told.
  • They expect him to always be there even if He doesn’t know that there is a there where he needs to be because he hasn’t been notified or he needs to be somewhere else.
  • And they expect him to do the outrageous, like errands for panties.

Here are a few tips on some things you can do or not do to be a blessing to your pastor.

  • Don’t expect the outrageous.  Your pastor is not your errand boy, your delivery boy and certainly to the fetcher of panties.  Now honestly I have found pleasure through the years serving folks who needed me. I have purchase the occasional gallon of milk because I asked if they needed anything or was just trying to minister to someone who I knew (because they told me) was going through a difficult time.
  • Don’t expect your pastor to know without being told. It always gets me when I ask someone how they are and their response is,” better.”  Why? Because most of the time I’m wondering, better that what? They have been sick and expect their pastor to know it. They didn’t call their pastor they just expect that some little bird told him.  ’t your sick let your pastor or someone in the church office know. If you want a visit for prayer say it. Something like this, “I’m sick and would like pastor to come by and have prayer with me.” Or “I’m sick, I don’t want anyone to come to my home or the hospital room but would love for my church family to be praying for me.” It’s really that easy. Communicate with your pastor. Let him know what the boundaries are. Some people don’t like having the pastor or anyone else come into their home or hospital room.  Tell him that! Most of the time pastors are left guessing.
  • Be understanding if your pastor can’t come right now.  Many times I’ve had (even in small churches) multiple situations at one time and must choose where to be based on what limited knowledge I have.
  • If you are missing church services, please, please, please take the responsibility to let your pastor know where you are and why your not attending church. Please don’t expect him to be pastorPI. A simple call, a voicemail, a text even a Facebook message to let your pastor know. That way he can take the appropriate action or non-action.

It all comes down to communication. Our world has never been more connected. Social media, land lines, cell phones, text messaging, email, etc.  Your church may have one pastor or you may attend a church that has multiple staff members.  Regardless of the size of your church communicate with your pastor or pastoral staff. It will be very much appreciated.

It all come from the memory of the lady who wanted me to buy her panties. Blessings!

Follow this link to purchase a .99 cent kindle version of my book, The Eye of A Needle.”

Please comment, share and subscribe. It will be a blessing to me.

YouthteamII

Photo by Jeff Scurlock – Our Youth Leadership Team.

John Buchan said ‘The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”

At the church where I serve as lead pastor we are going through a staff transition. Two staff members, Chris and Alicia (husband and wife) who have served with us for over six years in extremely capable fashion are moving on. They have accepted the position of lead pastor in another church.  When I knew for sure that they were leaving I began struggling with what would be the best move. What should I do? Should I immediately hire new full time staff to replace them? Honestly it is a stressful process.

Felicia and I had many conversations and agree that we believe that there is enough talent already present within our congregation that hiring new staff is not necessary yet.

The key to leadership is giving those you lead a chance to shine. To discover talents and abilities that you might not have been previously  aware of and then utilizing those talents.  I love the quote from John Buchan that I began with so I’ll share it again. “The task of leadership is not to PUT GREATNESS INTO PEOPLE, BUT TO ELICIT IT,…”

The danger for leaders is trying to put everything on yourself. I struggle with the it’s easier to do it myself than to take the time to teach someone else syndrome and that’s not good.  Leaders must invest time and energy into discovering and teaching. Today is my new administrative assistants first day on the job. She’s being trained to do some bookkeeping by Chris, one of our outgoing staff members because he also did our books. It’s stressful for me but guess what,  I know that as we elicit greatness from her and as she learns and grows that she will shine. Now that’s good.

Our student pastor (Chris) is leaving but we have a young adult leadership team of ten individuals who will work with our new, younger, inexperienced student pastor.  They will all grow together and greatness will come from them.  Our praise and worship leader (Alicia) is leaving but we have rallied the troops and now I’m confident that as we elicit greatness from them that they will shine. They already have.

Are you a leader? I hope this helps. What do you think?

beer

 

Note: As the readership of this site increases  I like to perodically repost articles that received a lot of attention. This is one of them. The subject of Christians and alcohol use is a hot button, especially in my part of the country. 

I’ve given a lot of thought recently about the subject of Christians and alcohol. And I want to share with you my personal conclusions. This is in no way an exhaustive paper on alcohol. It’s a brief description of how I feel.

First of all you need to know my culture and my heritage. My Spiritual heritage is this. I am a third generation Pentecostal Christian. I understand chances are that many who read or hear the title Pentecostal immediately envision snake handlers, miracle spring water and someone rolling on the floor in church.  That does not describe my heritage. As a matter of fact it grieves me that most crazy, weird, money grubbing false teachers identify themselves with Pentecostal circles.

I did grow up in an environment where Christianity and alcohol did not mix. My culture is the Bible belt. I grew up and continue to live and pastor in south Alabama, which many refer to as the buckle of the Bible belt.  In my culture growing up Alcohol was considered evil, a tool of the devil.  I was taught that if you drank that you were living in sin and losing out with God.

In my years as a pastor I have grown in my relationship with God and have a much greater understanding of the grace of God that I had growing up.

Where in my past the subject of alcohol was a subject of heaven or hell I now understand grace and know that this subject is not a heaven or hell discussion.

I recently preached a message in my church on this subject and the line of thought in this blog follows closely what I said in that message.

I am not a holier than thou preacher and this message is not meant to be judgmental or condemning.  It is not my desire to run people who drink away from my church. Our church is for everyone. None of us are perfect and all of us are still trying to grow.

The question might be posed, if your going to deal with a subject why not one that the Bible is clear on like gluttony, gossip, backbiting and sexual sins, all of which the Bible clearly deals with?  Those are all subjects that preachers need to address but this blog is on the subject of alcohol.  Note: IF I HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A CHURCH FULL OF GOSSIPERS OR A CHURCH FULL OF DRINKERS I’D TAKET THE DRINKERS EVERY TIME.

After giving this subject much thought, reading, praying, etc., it is my personal opinion that alcohol has become an extremely negative force in our society.  In my experience as a pastor every time I’ve been told of the sexual molestation of a child, alcohol was involved. I’ve counseled with females through the years who have become pregnant outside of the bonds of marriage and most of the time they blame alcohol.   Alcohol in itself is not evil. What people do under the influence of alcohol most of the time is.

According to a government web site (nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov) over 100,000 deaths a year can be blamed on alcohol. How?

  • 5% of all deaths from diseases of the circulatory system are attributed to alcohol.
  • 15% of all deaths from diseases of the respiratory system are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all deaths from accidents caused by fire and flames are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all accidental drowning’s are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all suicides are attributed to alcohol.
  • 40% of all deaths due to accidental falls are attributed to alcohol.
  • 45% of all deaths in automobile accidents are attributed to alcohol.
  • 60% of all homicides are attributed to alcohol.
  • About 5,000 teens die every year due to teen alcohol use.

When it comes to alcohol use the readers of this blog have a variety of experiences as to the use of alcohol.

  • Some of you have never tasted an alcoholic drink in your life.
  • Some were taught to not drink alcohol. You did. You went through what you would call a rebellious stage, did your drinking for a season of life and then stopped.
  • Some of you were raised in homes where alcohol was abused and it caused you to either become an alcohol user yourself or to run from it and call it evil.
  • Some of you were raised in homes where moderate drinking was part of life.

I understand that for some this is a cultural issue. I also understand that in some cultures of the world that alcohol is as much a part of life that in my world drinking a glass of iced tea is.

For me the subject of alcohol is not one of sin, heaven or hell. It is a subject of what my lifestyle says about my relationship to God.  What does that person who may be on the fence with God think if they saw me drinking or heard me say that I do drink? In my culture even those who do not claim to be Christians frown on Christians who drink. Does that mean that I have to let non-believers dictate how I live my life? No!  However I should be concerned how my lifestyle affects those who are new in faith or those who are considering making faith in Christ their life.

If you, as a believer drink alcohol I am in no way saying that you are a sinner, calling you a hypocrite or trying to judge you. Your decision to have alcohol in your life is between you and God.  As a pastor I have told my congregation that I wished they wouldn’t drink alcohol. I have also told my leaders that I expect a higher standard and that leaders at our church were not to be drinkers. If they have been drinking they are to stop with no questions asked.

Why do Christians want to drink anyway? Is it the taste? Is it an attempt to be socially accepted? Maybe it’s because they are an alcoholic and don’t even know it. Maybe it’s because they like getting even a small buzz. It could be the need to feel just a little bit naughty. I don’t know.

Question: WAS THE WINE MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE FERMENTED OR JUST GRAPE JUICE?  After much research I believe that the wine in the Bible was in fact fermented wine.  When Jesus turned the water into wine, it was wine.  I have learned that it is believed by many scholars that in Jesus’ day that wine was diluted with water but I’m not going to try to make that my case.

Wine was wine. Yes it was fermented. Why then do I have a problem with Christians and wine? It is absolutely because alcohol plays a completely different role in our culture than it did in Bible times and like music I believe that satan has taken something innocent and perverted it for his uses.

Question: ARE THERE ANY SCRIPTURES THAT SPECIFICALLY METION ALCOHOL THAT LEAD US TO BELIEVE THAT DRINKING ALCOHOL IS A SIN?

NO! For those of you who were raised like me I hate to tell you this but I cannot find one scripture that specifically says that drinking alcohol is a sin.  The Bible does mention being drunk. There are several scriptures that tell us not to be drunk.

Question: Jeff, in light of your answers to the previous two questions do you believe that Christians should abstain from the use of alcohol?

YES!  WHY? Culture and the possibility that one drink could lead to destruction and your Christian witness.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death.

Every person who gets drunk starts with one drink.

  • Every person who becomes an alcoholic begins with one drink.
  • Every person who killed other people in an auto accident because they were drunk began with one drink.
  • Conservative estimates of sexual assault (molestion to rape) prevalence suggest that at least 25 percent of American women have experienced sexual assault, including rape. Approximately one-half of those cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both. Alcohol contributes to sexual assault through multiple pathways, often exacerbating existing risk factors.
  • According to the National institute of health the consumption of 1 Liter of alcohol per year raises the chances of divorce by 20%.

In closing I want to share with you 1 Corinthians 8 from the Message. As you read it I ask that you read it in light of today’s culture and with alcohol in mind.

1-3The question keeps coming up regarding meat that has been offered up to an idol: Should you attend meals where such meat is served, or not? We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.

4-6Some people say, quite rightly, that idols have no actual existence, that there’s nothing to them, that there is no God other than our one God, that no matter how many of these so-called gods are named and worshiped they still don’t add up to anything but a tall story. They say—again, quite rightly—that there is only one God the Father, that everything comes from him, and that he wants us to live for him. Also, they say that there is only one Master—Jesus the Messiah—and that everything is for his sake, including us. Yes. It’s true.

7In strict logic, then, nothing happened to the meat when it was offered up to an idol. It’s just like any other meat. I know that, and you know that. But knowing isn’t everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings. Real knowledge isn’t that insensitive.

We need to be sensitive to the fact that we’re not all at the same level of understanding in this. Some of you have spent your entire lives eating “idol meat,” and are sure that there’s something bad in the meat that then becomes something bad inside of you. An imagination and conscience shaped under those conditions isn’t going to change overnight.

8-9But fortunately God doesn’t grade us on our diet. We’re neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can’t stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.

10For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, someone who looks up to you as knowledgeable and mature, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong.

11-13Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals if there’s any chance it will trip up one of your brothers or sisters.

I’m interested to know what your feedback is. Good or bad! Love yall, Jeff!

 

Get your .99 cent Kindle version of my book, The Eye of A Needle here.

 

 

Killing Jesus

Jeff Scurlock —  January 22, 2014 — Leave a comment

Killing-Jesus

jeffscurlock.com is an amazon.com affiliate. That simply means that if you follow a link from this site to Amazon and make a purchase jeffscurlock.com will make a miniscule commission.

 

My latest read is the book Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.

ISBN: 0805098542  305 Pages

The current Kindle price is $6.49 and the Amazon hardback price is $14.00

I read Killing Lincoln soon after it was released and enjoyed it very much and was very intrigued by this one, Killing Jesus.   It took me a while to read this book simply because it is so heavy with history, imagination and stories from scripture that I could only take a few pages at the time. Having said that I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it was boring. It was not boring.

The writers make no attempt to make this a Christian book. It is written purely as a historical account. I do have to say that the line is blurry between what is true historical fact and the imagination of the writers.  The absence of footnotes led me to believe that much was their imagination. That’s ok with me as long as it stays true to what the Bible does say.

For the preacher and teacher I would say that this book might help you be more creative when discussing the gospels in a sermon or teaching session. I’m sure many of us could use some creativity. LOL!

Remember this when reading this book. Bill O’Reilly is a Catholic and some of what you read will be from that perspective.

On a 1 – 10 rating I would give Killing Jesus an 8.

Follow this affiliate link to order your copy of Killing Jesus.

Follow this link to find my book, The Eye of A Needle.

Please help me expand the reach of this site by subscribing using the email subscription form to the right or at the bottom of individual post.