Top Posts from 2016

foko4dpxamq-eric-rothermelAt the end of every year I like to share the top posts here on my site. These are posts that I wrote during the year that had the highest views. Below are my top four posts from 2016.

What I Teach My Students About Alcohol. It’s not a surprise this was my most read post from this year. In this post I share three points I make when I teach students about alcohol from God’s Word. Included in this post is a message I shared this year on Noah and him getting drunk after the flood.

Biblical Principles For Teen Dating. Earlier this year I shared a message with my highs school students on dating. Since dating is never mentioned in the Bible (it didn’t even exist back then) I shared principles from the Bible that should be applied to dating. This post is basically that message condescend into a shorter post.

Freebie: Acts Teaching Series. I enjoy sharing things I have done with our students here on my site. A few years back I did a eight week teaching series on the book of Acts. I decided to share that entire series for free here on my site. It was great hearing how other people took it and used it in their ministries. I hope more people continue to come across it and use it themselves.

Book Review: Can I Smoke Pot? This was one of the best books I read this past year. It’s a very short book on how Christians should approach the topic of marijuana. I would encourage every Christian to take the time and read this book. It will help you understand what the Bible says in regards to this issue and how we should respond.

It has been a great year of posts. Looking forward to posting more this coming year!

Book Review: Can I Smoke Pot?

pot-draft-cover4-minI’m a big fan of the books Cruciform Press are publishing. They are short and simple as well as usually geared towards relevant issues of our time. Recently I picked up a copy of one of their latest books called Can I Smoke Pot? by Tom Breeden and Mark Ward.

The tagline of this book (“Marijuana in Light of Scriptures”) says it all. In this book, Breeden and Ward use Scripture to discuss the questions many Christians are asking today: Can I smoke pot? Can I use marijuana for medical purposes? The Bible permits drinking alcohol but not drunkness so can I smoke pot as long as I don’t get high? All these questions and more are discussed in this helpful book.

Breeden and Ward start their discussion where the Bible starts – creation. They show the reader that like everything God created, marijuana was created good. However, sin entered into the world and marred God’s good creation. The idea of calling marijuana “good” may be difficult for some Christians but Breeden and Ward rightly add that “respectable, buttoned-down, middle-class, church-attending Western Christians need to say full-throatedly that marijuana is good – or they’ll be betraying Genesis 1 and 2” (page 17). If you stop reading the book at this point you may think the authors are supporting any and all uses of marijuana. This is not the case. If one continues reading they will see that.

Next Breeden and Ward discuss marijuana and government. Scripture clearly teaches that Christians are to submit to government as long as government is not out right rebelling against God’s Word. In this section the authors build a Biblical argument for government being part of God’s good creation and how Christians are to act towards government. So before one can consider if marijuana is right or wrong for medical or recreational use, they must first submit to the laws their government has put in place. For us the US, we are in a strange spot. Some states have legalized the use of marijuana but at a federal level the use of marijuana is still illegal (page 31). With this being the case, Breeden and Ward correctly state that “as of this writing, for any Christian, anywhere in the United States, to smoke pot is to resist the governing authorities. It is, in unmistakable terms, to resist God” (page 32).

What about using marijuana for medical purposes? This is where the discussion goes next. Unlike the other chapters, the authors are less strong in stating their stance here. I believe they do this wisely because there is much we still don’t know about the issue of medical marijuana. But what they do argue in this chapter is that if marijuana can be used for medical purposes, the fact that it is commonly used for evil shouldn’t keep us from using it in medically. Again, this may be a hint as to the authors convictions on this issue but they never state it much more than that in this chapter. They also use this chapter to show the reader that medicine is a gift and tool that God often uses to heal. Christians shouldn’t reject the use of medicine but should accept it as a gift and tool that God uses.

Breeden and Ward finish up their discussion with tackling the biggest question that comes up with this issue – since the Bible allows Christians to drink but not get drunk, can’t Christians smoke pot and just not get high? Before answering that question the authors spend the first part of the chapter dealing with what the Bible says about drinking alcohol. They do an excellent job of using Scripture to argue that drinking alcohol isn’t a sin but getting drunk clearly is a sin. It’s important to note that the authors themselves stand on different sides of the drinking issue but agree with the statement above. One author drinks in moderation while the other chooses not to drink at all (page 56). After this, the authors move to showing the reader how marijuana is actually very different from alcohol. One cannot use the Biblical argument for alcohol for marijuana. One can drink without getting drunk. However, very little marijuana gets you high. One can drink without the goal of getting drunk but it seems that getting high is really the only goal in doing marijuana. Breeden and Ward correctly state what I believe is the Biblical stance against recreational use of marijuana: “It is sinful to get high for the same reasons it is to get drunk. Being high lowers inhibitions, clouds decision making, and deprives people of fruitfulness in their work. Alcohol and marijuana share this danger. So we can conclude that the Bible forbids getting high just as it condemns drunkenness. Smoking marijuana recreationally in order to get high is sinful” (page 72).

This book is extremely Biblical based and gives solid content in regards to marijuana use. As marijuana use becomes even more popular (and probably more legal in the future) Christians need to know how to address it with a clear understanding of what Scripture says. I would recommend this book to all Christians, but especially those in pastoral ministry (this book will be a great resource as you teach and disciple your people).

3 Cultural Trends From the 2015 VMAs

This past Sunday MTV held their 32nd VMAs (Video Music Awards). The VMAs is more than an awards show, it’s a cultural display of where we are as a society. If you want to see where are culture is, especially teens and young adults, than go no future than the VMAs. If you work with teens, young adults, or just want to know we are culture is and is going I’d encourage you to watch or follow the VMAs each year. It will teach you a lot. I didn’t watch the entire show this year but did go back and watch some of the highlights. On top of that I read a good amount of articles on the night. In the midst of Miley Cyrus antics, Taylor Swift winning a ton of awards, and Kayne West announcing that he will be running for president in 2020, there were three cultural trends that stood out to me.

Gender identity. Gender in our culture is now a decision left up to the individual. It no longer matters how you were born. If you want to be another gender you have the right to make that happen. Our culture has shifted to the acceptance and celebration of the transgender issue. This was clearly the case with this years VMAs. There were celebrations of transgenders as well as a stage full of drag queens joining Miley for her performance of “Dooo It.” Taylor Swift even threw a punch when she received the award for Best Video of the Year. She said, “I’m just happy that in 2015, we live in a world where boys can play princesses and girls can play soldiers.” Gender identity and manhood/womanhood is something our culture is changing and shifting on.

Faith disconnected from actions and lifestyle. Faith in our culture has become more of a slogan or addition life rather than a foundation of life. Faith no longer is connected to your actions or lifestyle. You can pick whatever faith you want but also live however you want. You can have both and they can be completely at odds. This was clearly seen during this years VMAs when Nicki Minaj received the award for Best Hip-Hop Video for her song “Anaconda” and said, “You know who I want to thank tonight? My pastor.” She then went you to say, “Thank you, Pastor Lydia. I love you so much.” Minaj is known for her sexual explicit content and this song, and it’s video, is no different. The song is all about sex and the video features barely clothed women twerking and dancing. After receiving the award and thanking her pastor, Minaj then goes on to blast Miley Cyrus when she turns the show back over to her. Minaj said, “And now, back to this b**** that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley what’s good?” Faith no longer dictates how one lives and behaves. In our culture we see many people play the “faith card” but rarely do we see them have a life of faith to back it up that is visible in their actions, attitudes, and character.

Drug use (especially marijuana). The use and normalization of marijuana doesn’t come to a surprise to me. It’s easily accessed and doesn’t have some of the same damaging effects other drugs have. However, there were some interesting references at the VMAs to marijuana this year. First, Kayne West admitted to smoking some before he came on stage to give his far too long 11 minute speech. He said, “The answer is YES. I rolled up a little something. I knocked the edge off.” Also, Miley Cyrus performed her song “Doo it,” which in it she boasts “Yeah, I smoke pot. Yeah, I love peace, but I don’t give a f***. I ain’t no hippie.” The point is marijuana use is on the rise, especially with teens, college students, young adults, and our cultural as a whole has become more accepting of it and will continue to be more and more.

These are just a few of the things that happened at the VMAs this year that show us where our culture is and is going. Much of these thoughts in this post come from Walt Mueller’s post on the VMAs. Read that post to get a better glimpse into what the VMAs showed about our culture.

Book Review: Puff or Pass by Mark Driscoll

Puff or passA few weeks ago Mars Hill Church released a free ebook called Puff or Pass: Should Christians Smoke Pot or Not? by Mark Driscoll (click here to read the introduction and download the entire ebook). I don’t remember how I ran across this ebook, but I’m glad I did. With marijuana being legalized in a few states and the probability that we will see that happen in other states as well, I believe it’s important for Christians, especially those of us in church leadership, to have a handle on this issue and be ready to give a solid answer on marijuana. For instance, if marijuana becomes legal in your state, how will you respond when someone ask you what does the Bible say about marijuana? If your answer is “because the Bible says doing marijuana is a sin” than you need to read this ebook. That’s not the best answer and doesn’t address the issue in a way that communicates Biblical principles to someone.

What I loved about this short ebook is the way Driscoll addresses the issue. He doesn’t try to give a quick Bible answer and run from the complexity of questions that may come next, like should it be used for medical purposes. Instead, he addresses the issue with Bible principles, such as drugs harm your body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit and believers shouldn’t be controlled by anything other than the Spirit. However, Driscoll does feel that medical use of marijuana may be permissible (page 36). I personally I’m not sure where I stand on the medical use of marijuana. I believe the recreational use of it is wrong, but need to do more research and thinking before I come to a conclusion on it’s medical use. I appreciate Driscoll’s humility in this book as he explains he is not a medical doctor so he doesn’t feel comfortable discussing the medical benefits.

Two things stood out to me as I read this ebook that make it a book that I highly recommend. First, Driscoll did his research. The whole first part of this book is statistics. Driscoll shares the stats on marijuana from about every angle possible. When we are discussing a topic like this, it’s important to know the facts and Driscoll make sure those are communicated upfront. Second, Driscoll doesn’t just give an answer and run, but he shares multiple viewpoints that exists among evangelicals when it comes to this issue of marijuana. He basically asks two questions: Should marijuana be legal (the legal question) and should Christians use marijuana (the morality question)? To each of these questions Driscoll shares three options most evangelicals take.

I recommend this ebook to every Christian, especially pastors, student pastors, and anyone in church or para-church ministry. It’s a short, easy to read book that you can get through in one setting. To download this ebook for free just go to this post on the Resurgence website.