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Tag Archives: alcohol

The Nazarite Vow of Abstention

According to current law, the legal minimum drinking age is 21 years old in the United States. Prior to 1986, some states allowed college students to drink legally upon reaching their 18th birthday. However, there are 4 exemptions enabling some to bend the rules. Twenty nine states allow children with a parent’s permission to drink alcohol on private property. Six states don’t require a parent’s consent as long as you are on private property. Ten states serve minors at restaurants with a parent’s consent and certain churches use real alcohol as part of their communion services.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise, Proverbs 20:1.

If you want to know the truth, if you live in the United States and really want to drink alcohol prior to your 21st birthday, determined teenagers will find a way. However, before anyone reads this and suggests, “if everyone else is doing it, why can’t I?” Well, before you allow this thought to persuade your mind, I want to share a dark period in my own life. During a friend’s wedding in college, I decided to drink. Little did I know that hours later I would be hugging a toilet suffering from alcohol poisoning. If it wasn’t for a member of the wedding party, I probably would have died. Since this event I decided to take the Nazirite vow of abstention.

Paul stayed for a while longer, and then told the brothers and sisters goodbye and sailed for Syria; and he was accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchrea [the southeastern port of Corinth] he had his hair cut, because he was keeping a [Nazirite] vow [of abstention], Acts 18:18.

After doing a little research, Numbers 6:1-21, individuals can make an oath for a certain period of time or can choose to make a vow for life to abstain from alcohol. Based upon the passage above, the apostle Paul made the Nazirite vow of abstention during his second missionary journey. To avoid confusing or causing others to stumble, Paul lived above reproach. While I served as a youth pastor, I too took a similar vow to avoid sending a mixed message. Abstaining from alcohol isn’t for everyone, but when you are fixated on reaching a certain audience, taking the Nazirite vow for a set period of time will enhance your message.

by Jay Mankus

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Seduced

The term seduced is usually applied to an unwilling participant who is beguiled, enticed and lured into some sort of sexual encounter.  This leaves a victim feeling betrayed, used and violated.  Beyond physical attractions, individuals can also be seduced by alcohol, drugs, fame, food, impulses, pornography, power, shopping, technology and wealth.  One of God’s greatest concerns in the Old Testament was that Jews would be seduced by high places, centers for Canaanite idol worship scattered throughout the Middle East.

And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind, Jeremiah 7:31.

This connection became clear to me after reading an article written by a member of the Billy Graham Association.  High places is mentioned 117 times in the Bible; derived from the Hebrew word “hamah” referring to mountaintops.  In nearby hills, mountains and peaks, open-air altars on elevated knolls were built to pay tribute to pagan and secular gods.  When Israel entered the promised land in Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, God commanded his people to destroy and tear down these places.  Unfortunately, a lack of thoroughness left many behind as ancient idols slowly and subtly seduced God’s people year after year, unable to stay away.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

Today, with a click of a mouse, tap on your phone or voice to Alexia, the internet, a.k.a. the world wide net comes alive.  While this technology was created to advance, expand and further human development, new high places are erected daily.  Fueled by spiritual forces of evil, demons regularly seduce curious and vulnerable souls just like Eve succumbing to Lucifer’s reasoning.  This seduction often goes unnoticed until sin becomes full blown, leaving a trail of devastation and destruction.  Sure, there is forgiveness, grace and mercy, but humans don’t always see eye to eye, abandoning broken relationships to start anew.  Despite how far one may fall, in God’s eyes no one is too far gone.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Society Turns On Its Own

Back in the 1980’s, smoking was a socially acceptable practice.  My high school offered smoking courts during breaks and lunch for students to get their nicotine craving for the day.  Sure, ruining a shirt from a flicked cigarette or being overwhelmed by smoke was a drag, but not the end of the world.  To discourage this behavior, politicians passed a tobacco tax to penalize anyone who smoked.  When this didn’t greatly reduce smoking, cities, states and townships introduced legislation to ban smoking from downtown areas.  For those who haven’t kicked this habit, society has turned on its own.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

While driving home from church last Sunday, my wife and I were talking about drinking habits in our families growing up.  Alcohol was a common site, scotch on the rocks, a glass of wine or mixed drinks in a liquor cabinet.  Drinking was a form of relaxation after a hard day of work.  As a naïve teenager, I didn’t think anything of this typical  behavior.  Unfortunately, not every family has happy endings.  Some adults have become alcoholics, others influenced by the spirit of alcohol to become abusive with others leaning on drinking to kill their pain.  The habits of my parents generation are now frowned upon despite similar patterns that exist today.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me, Psalm 23:4.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in America in the 1960’s.  King’s bold stance ultimately led to his tragic death by James Earl Ray.  Yet, King’s dream was to see a day in America when citizens were no longer judged by the color of their skin.  Rather, King’s vision was that people would be judged by the content of their character.  Unfortunately, the progressive movement has ruined any chance of this becoming reality.  Today, right and wrong is being based upon your political beliefs.  Those that don’t accept, bow down to and practice progressive thinking are being defamed one at a time.  When society turns on his own, the best course of action is leaning on and trusting in Jesus.  The Lord will get you through these trying times no matter how difficult it becomes.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Thornbush in a Drunkard’s Hand

Forrest Gump gave America the notion that “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”  This imagery reminds individuals of the days of generic Valentine Day boxes filled with an unlabeled variety of flavors.  Unfortunately, few movies address delicate issues like alcoholism in When a Man Loves a Woman.

Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool, Proverbs 26:9.

According to King Solomon, drunkenness is nothing new.  Jewish wedding receptions often lasted several days with some extended for a week.  It was common for hosts to bring out cheap wine once most of the guests were hammered, unable to tell the difference anymore.  Whether Solomon is referring to an actual event following a party or using hyperbole, drinking numbs the pain of individuals.  The physical affects with a thornbush will be felt after the alcohol wears off.

But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap, Luke 21:34.

One of the hardest transitions facing young people is learning to have fun in life without alcohol.  When my father was transferred to Cleveland while I was in college, making new friends was tough.  After meeting some people my own age, I became their designated driver whenever this group went clubbing on the Flats in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.  Unfortunately, most of them could not dance without getting drunk.  Not wanting to wait one evening, I traded places with a girl friend, helping the crew down 3 pitchers of beer.  While I was the life of the party for a few hours, the lingering affects of this spree lasted 2 days.  Thus, I know what its like to be a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand and its not a place where you’ll ever want to visit.  Heed the passage above to avoid the pain I endured.

by Jay Mankus

Drugs, Medicine and the Will to Survive

The Food and Drug Administration was formed by the United States in 1906 to regulate drug use in America.  Eight years later California became the first state to create a law banning the use of marijuana.  While marijuana remains a banned federally banned substance, several states have created new laws to allow this drug for medical use.  A few states have taken this one step further in this year’s election, voting to open Cannibal shops for recreational use.  Yet, is this the correct decision or will Americans rue this day?

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise, Proverbs 20:1.

While the Bible does not address pot specifically, Solomon does warn Israel about the danger of alcohol.   According to the passage above, wine and spirits influence one’s ability to control tempers.  Thus, even after a drink or two, basic instincts are compromised, vulnerable to overreactions.  Subsequently, anyone who does not heed this warning is in danger of falling into temptation.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Depending upon your current physical condition, some people may need to rely on drugs and medicine to stay alive.  I’m no exception, forced to take steroids the past 15 years to keep my eye pressure under control.  Others need life saving doses daily just to be able to function normally.  The dilemma comes into play when people who are healthy become co-dependent upon a drug.  Since human bodies are considered a temple of the Holy Spirit, filling yourself with unnecessary substances places souls in harm’s way.  While the debate over drug use in America will continue in the political realm, may the Bible guide hearts longing to escape the grasp of unhealthy addictions.

by Jay Mankus

Moderation

In ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 documentary, the travails of John Daly are highlighted in Hit it Hard.  Based upon a song written by John, a two time major winner on the PGA Tour, Daly shares his battle with alcohol, gambling and series of failed marriages.  Due to an addictive personality, the concept of moderation is something Daly has has a hard time grasping.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything, 1 Corinthians 6:12.

Whether you are Superman, a professional athlete or an average human being, everyone has a kryptonite.  This condition, element or weakness prevents individuals from reaching their full potential.  Temptation is always lurking, trying to lure people away from good habits and safe environments.  Danger arrives when inner demons convince former addicts that they can handle a situation without God’s help.  This usually results in self-destruction.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body, 1 Corinthians 6:18.

There are ways to view moderation.  First, some will say that adults should be mature enough to know their limits.  Requiring self-control, this logical approach gives people freedom to develop boundaries.  The second perspective is more cautious, understanding that once you open pandora’s box, there’s no going back.  Either way, unless you have a friend who holds you accountable or a personal relationship with God, the quest for moderation can be a never ending battle.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

A Convenient Absence of the Truth

During a recent sleepless night, I stumbled upon a rerun of a 30 for 30 on ESPN.  Trying to find something to fall asleep to, an episode on the Hillsborough soccer stadium tragedy did just the opposite.  This riveting documentary made me begin to wonder what other events from history have been sanitized by a convenient absence of the truth.

When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, Matthew 28:12.

On April 15th, 1989, soccer fans began to flood a standing room only section of the Hillsborough stadium.  As space to stand started to disappear, a mass panic ensued causing people to press toward a fence shielding fans from players on the field.  This chaos was complicated by a lack of reaction by stadium officials leading to the deaths of 96 people.

Telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep,’ Matthew 28:13.

In the hours and days that followed, authorities using the media as a pawn began to assign blame.  Like modern day talking points, alcohol, drunk fans and crude behavior served as window dressing to hide the actual facts of this disaster.  Justice took over 20 years to arrive when original police statements and those altered by government officials were posted side by side on the internet.  This is just another example of corruption inspired by a convenient absence of the truth.

If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble,” Matthew 28:14.

This strategy is nothing new as even Jesus dealt with a similar scheme to redefine his own resurrection.  As Jewish and Roman officials tried to squash Jesus’ growing popularity and message, a plan was devised to change public opinion.  There was only one problem with this decision, Jesus spent 40 days in public after rising from the dead.  According to Luke, Jesus was seen by over 500 eyewitnesses serving as a first century Drudge Report.

So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day, Matthew 28:15.

Today, if you click on the internet, turn on the television or tune into talk radio, don’t blindly believe the first thing that you hear or see.  Rather, remember that a few elite media members control the daily narrative presented to the airways in America.  Essentially, what you see isn’t always what is actually happening.  Therefore, as a new election season approaches full of ads steeped in embellishment, do your own homework before you reach a final conclusion.  If you don’t, you might be the next victim, deceived by a convenient absence of the truth.

by Jay Mankus

 

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