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I live and pastor a church in a small town, East Brewton Alabama.  East Brewton is separated only by a creek from the town of Brewton. Brewton and East Brewton, both small towns that make up one community even though some who live In these towns would deny that both communities are one. That’s another subject for another day. The point, It’s a small community. We only have one zip code for home addresses and that zip code also includes much of the rural area around these two towns.  The total population of the zip code is just a little over 16,000. Ok, I’ve made my point. It’s a small community.The church I pastor, First Assembly of God in East Brewton is located on nine ares of beautiful land that years ago was home to the Eagle Drive in theatre.  Sitting on this property we have three buildings that are used for ministry. The first houses our main sanctuary which only seats about one seventy-five the building also houses our offices, old fellowship hall, nurseries and several classrooms. It measures one hundred feet by on hundred feet or ten thousand square feet.   Building number two measures one hundred feet by seventy -five feet or seven thousand five hundred square feet with bout another one thousand square feet upstairs.  It houses our student ministry center, the kitchen, banquet hall, our clothing ministry and video studio.   Our third building is an old school portable building that was moved onto our property and renovated.  It houses part of our children’s ministry and is maybe seven hundred and fifty square feet (I haven’t measured).  All other buildings are storage and maintenance related. So we have a little over eighteen thousand square feet of ministry space, total.

Right now our Sunday morning attendance bounces around from about  one hundred thirty to one hundred fifty-five.  Not a big church by the worlds standard.  There are hundreds and hundreds of churches in our nation that run in the hundreds and thousands. I know many churches that are in small towns and are larger than First Assembly.

I want our church to be larger and we’re working hard to reach more people. However it amazes me when I talk to people in our community about our church and tell them where we are located. Without fail they will say something like, Oh, The Big Church. What?  The other day I was talking to a lady about our church and it’s location AND SHE SAID. Oh that huge church! WHAT? WHAT? A few years ago a man stopped attending our church of one-fifty and when I asked him why he said, “I don’t like big churches.” What? Granted,  we are one of the larger churches in our town but that’s not saying much and granted there are tons of churches in our communities that are much smaller in facilities and numbers than we are but does that qualify us a being big or even huge? I guess size is in the eyes of the beholder.

 

I live in a small town that I love. I love this community but if they think our church is big or even huge, does that make our church a mega church in small town in  south Alabama? No! I just thought I’d share. I aways smile when someone says, “Oh that big church.”  My hope is that this church will grow beyond anything we’ve ever been and blow the mind of this community.

 

Get A Copy of My Book, The Eye of A Needle Here. Also available in Kindle Version for only .99cents.

 

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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.

 

 

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

Mark Twain

The Preachers Daughters

Jeff Scurlock —  March 19, 2013 — 2 Comments

My television watching is seasonal. During football season it’s football. During spring fever time it’s HGTV or DIY, the shows that motivate me to do projects around the house.

Right now I’m in a reality show season. Life is good in my mind when the day is coming to an end and I’m sitting in my den with a cup of coffee or something cold and American Pickers, Duck Dynasty, Pawn Stars or American Restoration is on.

Recently I’ve been seeing advertisements for a new show being aired by Lifetime called Preachers Daughters. I’ve never seen the show but he ads are enough for me. This show appears to be about pastors who have wild, loose, disrespectful daughters. It makes me sick on my stomach.

Preachers kids have enough scrutiny to deal with without this horrible reality show from lifetime.

First of all if these guys are really pastors (which I doubt) SHAME ON THEM!  If they are real and if these struggles with their daughters are real (which I doubt) they have sold the soul of their family for buck.

I have been a pastor since May of 1986. I have two beautiful grown daughters who were born in 1987 and 1991.  My daughters didn’t have a normal life growing up. It’s impossible when you’re a PK (Pastors Kid). Felicia and I tried to make life a normal as possible but it was hard.

Pastor’s kids live in a glass house and every move they make is watched, and scrutinized. They deal with a lot of unjust criticism and the agony of being wrongfully judged by people who are not the judge.

We had good times at our house and a few that were not but what family doesn’t.  Our girls had to deal with the pressures of living in that glass house and having an extremely strict father.  Strict? There were times in their young lives that strict doesn’t even qualify as a strong enough word.

When they were little girls we served a Pentecostal church in rural Florida.  Back when I was a young father I didn’t believe that girls should wear pants to church. It’s an archaic belief in many Pentecostal churches that has no scriptural foundation at all. I no longer hold to that belief.  Even on Wednesday nights when my girls would go to the girls program at our church they wore skirts. Felicia pleaded their case with me. “Jeffrey! Our girls are the only girls on Wednesday nights with skirts on.” She was right. The problem was that I battled more with what other people thought because we lived in that glass house. What would people think if the pastors daughters wore a pair of modest shorts to church on Wednesday night or even jeans? Isn’t that crazy?

Boys? I told them they couldn’t go on a date unless I met and had a conversation with “The Boy.” I stand by that practice. If a father sends his daughter out into the darkness of night without knowledge of the boy and without having a conversation with him, he’s crazy. Kara said, “Daddy ALL THE BOYS ARE SCARECD OF YOU!” “GOOD!” I would say.

I’ve had arguments with my daughters. What dad who really cares hasn’t? We had our difficult days. What family hasn’t?

Ok that’s the negative. Let me tell you just a miniscule fraction of the positive. God has blessed Felicia and I with two beautiful daughters who love God.

Both of our daughters were leaders in high school. Both were asked to give the closing remarks of their high school graduation ceremony. Both of my girls played in the band, did well in school. Both of our girls excelled in church related activities and were leaders.

Kara and Lauren have made their mom and dad extremely proud many, many, many times. Way too many times to put in this blog and if I’m forgetting something really important that should be mentioned I know they will forgive me.

Now they’re all grown up. Kara is married to a young man with a heart for God and the ministry. She is the mom of our first grandchild Jackson. She is a worship leader and vocationally she teaches music to elementary school children. Her mom and I couldn’t be more proud.

Lauren (our youngest child) is married to a young man who is a full time music pastor. Lauren has a heart for God and for people.. Right now she is leading the youth drama teams at here church. She is gifted in many, many ways.  Vocationally she is a nurse at the wellness center on the campus of Florida State University. Her mom and I couldn’t be more proud.

Kara and Lauren are survivors. They have survived being the Preachers Daughters.

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

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This past Saturday the church I serve as pastor had a community service day. About sixty people teamed up, went through out our community and gave away 1000 bottles of cold water.

So many people have a negative response when you say church. They think of the church as judgmental hypocrites who care only about their own agenda. They think of the church as money-grubbing preachers who only want their money.  Note: The church has to have money. We receive three offerings per service at our church. One for tithes, one for our building project and one for missions but we care about more than money. Usually when I hear someone criticize the church saying, “all they care about is money,” I respond with; “All Wal-Mart cares about is your money and that doesn’t stop you from going there.” You will go to Wal-Mart, grab a buggy, put things  in it you don’t need, stand in line to pay and then say thank you after they take your money.

This community service event was an attempt to show our community that the church cares about them.  We refused many, many offers of donations because we wanted them to know that our cold-water giveaway was not a backhanded way to raise money.

Today after at least three phone calls from individuals needing assistance with utility bills I had a visit from a homeless man (he lives in an old camper and that’s homeless in my book). His name was Henry. All Henry wanted was some food. “I’m hungry pastor,” he said and all I want is something to eat.  It just so happened that I had a box of food that someone donated for just these type of events. I gave the groceries to Henry and then invited him to church. He was about to leave when he said, “I’d give anything for a cup of that coffee.” It was coffee that I made this morning. I gladly gave him a cup of coffee and then I handed him a bottle of cold water. He said, “That’s how I found your church. Someone gave me a bottle of water Saturday with your phone number on it.”  He seemed to be truly grateful. I told Henry that not only did I want him to come to church but that he was welcomed to come by any time for a cup of coffee. Will I ever see him again? I don’t know.

The point is this. It all started when a member of our community service team handed a homeless man a bottle of cold water.

Matthew 10:42
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Reading and Writing

jeffscurlock —  February 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

I set some goals (not resolutions) for 2012 to stretch myself a little.  My goals had much to do with reading.  I’ve liked to read since the eighth grade when I read my first book cover to cover. The name of the book was “Pilot Jack Knight”.  I loved it. Since then I have loved reading.

Reading is something that takes discipline in today’s busy lifestyles.  My life is as busy as anyone’s I would think.

I pastor a church and that is a full time job. I’m a husband to my beautiful wife of thirty-two years. I’m the father of three grown children, two of which are still at home. I like to play golf, which I’m doing less and less. And, I have all the other task of the normal American male.  Since Felicia has decided to go into the work force I now do the cooking at least three days a week and sometimes more, sometimes less (not often).

My reading goal for this year is to read fifty-two books, one per week and to read the Bible through. So far this year (as of February 15) I’ve read thirteen books with a total page count of 2,958.

Here is the list of books that I’ve read so far, in order.

Killing Lincoln, Bill O’rielly

The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson

Fasting, Jentzen Franklin

The Fasting Edge, Jentzen Franklin

Change, Count on It, Bill McDonald

Weird, Craig Groeschel

Radical, David Platt

Soul Print, Mark Batterson

Crazy Love, Francis Chan

Think, John Piper

Beyond Justice, Joshua Graham

Primal, Mark Batterson

Wild Goose Chase, Mark Batterson

I am up to date on my Bible reading as well. In addition to reading I’ve had an experience I didn’t expect when I set my goals. I’ve written a book. It’s over 40,000 words and now I’m going back over the book reviewing the notes and suggestions from the dear lady who is editing the book.  To say it’s been a busy month and a half would be an understatement.

I’ve only played gold once this year and the television is rarely turned on. Taking care of the yard and the pool has suffered. I’m going to have to do something about that soon.

I love to read and now I’ve discovered that I love to write.  I have seldom felt the satisfaction that I’ve experienced in the writing of “The Eye of A Needle” my upcoming book. Satisfaction and fear I must add.  When you write a book the fear is that if someone does read it that it won’t make sense or they will think that it’s poorly written. I have thought of what it would feel like to go to the book at Amazon.com and read all negative reviews. I don’t think that’s going to happen but it does cross the mind.

“Eye of a Needle” will be available soon via Amazon.com has a hard copy or a Kindle version.  I hope that you will plan to read it when it’s available.  Oh by the way. I’m already thinking about my next book.