Monday, September 29, 2008

One more thing ...

I guess I'm going technology crazy. I am adding one more application to this blog. If you scroll down you will find an area in the right hand side bar I am calling Sunday evening reflections. When I get it all figured out you will find a brief (less than a minute) audio recording here. I will post a new one each Sunday evening. It may simply be a reflection of something from the services that morning. It may be a reminder of something important for our church family. It may just be to tell you how much you mean to me. Who knows? (I don't ... yet).

I am making an effort to communicate with each of you as often as possible and as clearly as possible. The application I am using is called Utterli. You do not have to be a subscriber to utterli to hear these postings. When I get it functioning, you can click on the play button directly on this site and listen. Again, these will be VERY brief each week.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What the Bible Says About Alcohol?

I have an extended family member who is a missionary. Recently, she hit me up on Facebook to ask me some questions about what the Bible says about 3 areas. I have been scrambling to find the time to respond. Since I write here about different issues, I thought I would answer her questions on the blog (my cousin reads it regularly). I thought some of you might find the answers helpful as you wrestle with some of these questions. I will warn you, these are not 3 easy areas to address in today’s society and church. So, I will stick with what the Bible says on each subject. This will be a short series on this blog. The three subjects: Alcohol, role of women in church, and the gift of tongues.

One request: Please read all the way to the end of each post, no matter your view. I will add some personal thoughts at the end.

Let’s start with an easy one (LOL): Alcohol. So, what does Scripture say about alcohol?

Let me get this part on the table right up front. Nowhere does the Bible prohibit the use of alcohol in all circumstances. In other words, nowhere does the Bible say you are to avoid alcohol completely. However, Scripture gives a number of very strong warnings about its use.

Let’s begin with this thought. Drunkenness is a sin, not a disease. We talk about those that regularly overindulge in alcohol as if they are simply ill in the same way we might speak of someone with cancer or heart disease. What does Scripture say?
1 Cor. 6:9-12 9 Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, 10 thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 12 “Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything.
Drunkards (we use the term alcoholics) is listed right up there with thieves and the sexually immoral. Not that everyone who drinks is a drunkard, but where there is no alcohol, there are no drunkards / alcoholics.

Second, alcohol impairs wisdom.
Prov. 31:4 4 It is not for kings, Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine or for rulers [to desire] beer
Those with big responsibility (kings) were forbidden to drink all forms of alcohol. Why? Think it through. They had the greatest of responsibilities. At no time would they wish to be in a state of mind where they could not make clear decisions. The next verse says:
Proverbs 31:5 Otherwise, they will drink, forget what is decreed, and pervert justice for all the oppressed.
I would take the position that too much is dependent on the wisdom of all of us. OK, so you are not a king. Maybe you are “just” a father or “just” a mother.
The Old Testament is clear the priests were not to drink (8 The Lord spoke to Aaron: 9 “You and your sons are not to drink wine or beer when you enter the tent of meeting, or else you will die; this is a permanent statute throughout your generations. Lev 10:8-9 (HCSB)}
Those taking a Nazarite Vow were commanded not to drink (When a man or woman makes a special vow, a Nazirite vow, to consecrate himself to the Lord, 3 he is to abstain from wine and beer. He must not drink vinegar made from wine or from beer. Num 6:2-3 (HCSB))
John the Baptist (forerunner of Christ and great prophet) was forbidden to drink. (15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. Luke 1:15 (HCSB))
Scientifically, we know that even small amounts of alcohol slows response times. One ounce of alcohol slows decision making time by 10%.

Next, alcohol is an unnecessary drug. An informed debater would point out Proverbs 31:6-7 which says, “6 Give beer to one who is dying, and wine to one whose life is bitter. 7 Let him drink so that he can forget his poverty and remember his trouble no more.” What is the meaning of this passage? Sounds like we should be handing out alcohol. A couple of thoughts. First, notice this is not for individual consumption where a person might down with a 6 pack or a glass of wine at the end of a hard day to take the edge off. This person referred to in Proverbs is “one whose life is bitter”. It’s the kind of experience like losing a child, or just finding out you have terminal cancer, or having your house burn to the ground losing all your personal belongings. This is not someone who had a bad day at the office. Keep in mind, this was before the days we would prescribe drugs for such things. The command is that we are to share alcohol with one who desperately needs it to get through a mind altering event. Not as a regular nerve drug. However, today we have medications that can be accurately prescribed with accountability for such things. An interesting note here is Jesus’ response at the point of greatest personal pressure in all of history: His death on a cross bearing the sin of the world. (34 they gave Him wine mixed with gall to drink. But when He tasted it, He would not drink it. Matt 27:34 (HCSB)) The single greatest coping mechanism known to man is the peace that comes through knowing you are in the center of God’s will, which Christ clearly was.

Next, alcohol is destructive. It cannot be argued that alcohol can lead to some diseases. (Of course, this could be said of many things we consume :-)) (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 19 Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body) Paul could have said, "Your soul" or "Your spirit" is the sactuary of the Holy Spirit. But he did not. He said "your body" (physical body).
Alcoholism is a factor in 30% of all completed suicides. 7% of those with alcohol dependence die of suicide. Some estimates are as high as $100 billion / year to society in alcohol abuse related expenses. Alcohol related accidents cost taxpayers 21 – 24 billion dollars a year in America. Some estimates are much higher. This does not include higher insurance premiums we all pay due to the problem.
Enough statistics, what does the Bible say? (Proverbs 23:29-30 29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has conflicts? Who has complaints? Who has wounds for no reason? Who has red eyes? 30 Those who linger over wine, those who go looking for mixed wine) There are 6 results of alcohol use in these verses. None of them are good or positive in any way.
But he goes on: Prov. 23:31-34 31 Don’t gaze at wine when it is red, when it gleams in the cup and goes down smoothly.32 In the end it bites like a snake and stings like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, and you will say absurd things. 34 You’ll be like someone sleeping out at sea or lying down on the top of a ship’s mast.
Maybe I’m a bit weird (OK, so I am a bit weird), but I don’t really like being bitten by a snake or a viper. And I know, many who may read this would say, “But I don’t abuse alcohol.” I’m sure that is true. It is certainly possible to consume alcohol and not abuse it. But it’s a dangerous game to play to say, “how close can I get to the edge and not fall over it?” Maybe if you take a drink every now and then you are probably 99% sure you will not fall off the cliff. But if I never take a drink I can assure you I am 100% sure I will not fall off that cliff.

Next, alcohol, by its nature is addictive. Prob. 23:35 35 “They struck me, but I feel no pain! They beat me, but I didn’t know it! When will I wake up? I’ll look for another [drink] .” The writer of Proverbs is saying the danger is that one given to drink will turn to alcohol in a time of stress. Why would one who belongs to Christ need to turn to anything other than Christ Himself?

Finally, wisdom calls me to set it aside. (Prov. 20:1 1 Wine is a mocker, beer is a brawler, and whoever staggers [led astray] because of them is not wise.) The Scripture does not prohibit its use, but it does recommend we avoid it.

This is what Scripture says. My conclusions for why I don’t use alcohol at all are as follows based on what Scripture teaches.

Life is full of choices to be made between good, better, and best. I’ve tried to be fair in stating that Scripture nowhere prohibits alcohol use in all circumstances. (There, I said it again J). I simply believe, based on what Scripture teaches it is the best choice for all the reasons above. I am fully aware there many devoted followers of Christ (some in the church I pastor) who do not see this the same way I do. Let me be clear: THIS IS NOT ONE OF THE ESSENTIALS of the faith. Therefore, it is certainly not a basis for parting fellowship. But I continue to come back to the question of, not what Mark thinks, but what does Scripture say?

I also do not drink alcohol because it’s not about me. We all love that line when it's about something that doesn't affect me personally. But really, it's not about me. Paul said it like this: Romans 14: 15-17 15 For if your brother is hurt by what you eat, you are no longer walking according to love. By what you eat, do not destroy that one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore, do not let your good be slandered, 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:2121 It is a noble thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother stumble.
As a mature believer, we make choices not for what is best for ME, but what is best for others.

I am fully aware it is in vogue today to speak of our liberties (freedoms) as Christians. It has become in vogue for church leaders (i.e., some pastors) to take a different position than I do on this one. Some of them are my friends. And our different positions on this one does not hinder that relationship. In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Great Opportunity - Fireproof, the Movie

SOLD OUT - that had to be close to a record!
We have a great ministry opportunity at ClearView. Actually, it's not AT ClearView, it is AT the Carmike Thoroughbred 20 - Cool Springs movie theatre. You can see the details below, followed by a movie trailer. I would love to see the place packed with ClearView folk bringing their friends and neighbors

A heroic fireman (Kirk Cameron) in a failing marriage takes up his father's challenge to be part of a 40-day experiment designed to teach both husband and wife the real meaning of commitment.
ClearView is sponsoring two nights of the new movie by the producers of "Facing the Giants" on Saturday, September 27 and Sunday, September 28.

When: Saturday, September 27 and Sunday, September 28 at the 7:00pm showings ONLY

Where: Carmike Thoroughbred 20 - Cool Springs

Tickets: ClearView has purchased a limited supply of advanced guaranteed tickets

Cost: $5 per ticket - non-refundable (reduced from $9.25)

Purchase point: ONLY in the ClearView atrium Sunday, September 21 & Sunday, September 28 or through the church office during the week. First come first served basis.
Special offer: If you take an unchurched friend to either of these showings, then their ticket is free as long as supplies last.

Special Childcare offer: ClearView will offer free childcare (birth-5th grade) on Sunday, September 28 from 5:00-9:30pm for those attending FIREPROOF. Enjoy a night out - dinner and a show. ADVANCED childcare reservations must be made by Noon on Thursday, September 25. Childcare reservations can be made when receiving your tickets.
This movie is rated PG.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cancellation of second service ...

This is the text we are attempting to get out to all the ClearView membership. In case you miss it ...

The first line in the message in the first service yesterday was to welcome everyone to a record setting day at ClearView. The line referred to the fact that we would cover 3 chapters in one message. Little did I know it would be an unusual day in more ways than one. As most of you know we had to cancel the second service due to a power failure.

We now know the power failure was due to a blown transformer in the area. In case you are curious, the power was restored at 11:31 according to the clock in the worship center. We made the decision to move forward with the cancellation of the service for several reasons. We did not want children in a dark building to feel any unnecessary uneasiness. With the construction of the new building several of the windows in the children and preschool area are boarded up. Obviously, this makes for very dark rooms when there is no power.

In addition, we knew the temperature in the worship center with no air conditioning would quickly become unbearable. If you were in the room when we made the decision to cancel the service you know it was already rising. With the numbers we were anticipating in worship we would have gotten to a very uncomfortable temperature in a short time. As an aside here, by all indicators we were heading for a record setting day in more ways than one yesterday. I believe we would have hit the 1600 mark in worship for the first time ever on a non-Easter Sunday. (bummer!)

The information we had from the electric company indicated it would be some time before power would be restored. All things considered I felt we made the right call. This leaves us with a couple of housekeeping matters.

First, let me give a big “thank you” to all the preschool and children’s teachers that were “in the dark” (pun intended) for a few minutes as to next steps. They stayed calm and I was told did an excellent job in keeping our children safe and secure as we thought through our options.

Second, if you were in the second service at the time of the announcement you know we did take an offering at the doors as we exited. However, we know we missed some that would have given. If you did not have the opportunity to give your offering, you can mail it to the church (537 Franklin Road, Franklin, TN 37069) or you may give on line at

Third, the message preached at the 9:30 service can be found on the internet at:
If you do not have internet access but would like a CD of the message we will provide one at no cost. You can order your copy by emailing or by calling the church office at 794-5488 and speaking with Tanya Jones.

Fourth, if you were to be in the second service you missed an important announcement that October 5, 2:00 – 4:30 the staff will be giving tours of the new building. We will have to ask that this be for middle school ages and up. Middle School kids must be accompanied by their parents. The building is safe enough for tours, but not safe enough to have children walk through. I hope you will all take advantage of this opportunity to see what is coming together on our front lawn!

Finally, thank you for your patience and understanding yesterday. Some have asked about generators. Well, ClearView has lost power on a Sunday only twice in the past 10 years. To power the entire campus with generators is cost prohibitive (though we are checking one again) for only two occasions per decade. The emergency lighting system does allow for a safe evacuation as we experienced yesterday.

God bless you. Have a great week. I will see you Wednesday or next Sunday.


Sunday, September 14, 2008


I sent a tweet earlier today with a brief comment that Facebook and iTunes have made dramatic changes in their look recently. The Tennessean had an article today about the changes facebook recently made to their site. The title of the article is: Backlash Begins on Facebook's New Look. I almost had to laugh out loud. I have a facebook page. I have been one to click to change back to the old look every time I've had an option. But I think it is funny that the generations that use this site are the very ones that are supposedly the generations that have lived with change all their lives and therefore the generations that embrace change. What are we doing?

iTunes released iTunes 8.0. I downloaded it yesterday. It's very different from the previous versions. My first thought was, "Why did they change it? I like the old one just fine." Then I caught myself. What was I doing griping about change?

I've spent my entire adult life leading groups to make changes. I can't remember a single change I have asked people to make that I did not believe was going to beneficial to them or to the mission to which we had been called. Yet, my first thought when change was "imposed" on me was to ask, "What am I losing?" Why didn't I embrace these changes with gratitude that the leaders of these two tools were obviously making changes that they believed would enhance my experience with their offerings? But that's just not human nature.

I will get accustomed to the new changes made by facebook and iTunes. I will even like them better, no doubt, once I get used to them. I will even soon forget what the older looks were like.

The statement I made in the twitter was that change is not optional. It is a matter of survival these days. This is one of the reasons I most love God. He is unchangeable (I love that line in the worship song). When everything else around me is spinning seemingly out of control, I know God is always there and He never changes.

The world is changing. Expect it. Accept it. Deal with it.
God will never change. Know it. Count on it. Rejoice over it. Live at peace because of it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Reluctant leadership ... just wondering

Many of the leaders we see in Scripture were reluctant leaders. Moses is a case in point. When God gave Moses his assignment as leader of the Exodus, Moses began a fast backpeddle. To say he did not want the job as leader is an understatement. David was not looking for a leadership role when God brought Samuel into his life to anoint him the next king of Israel. Abraham was minding his own business when God told him to move out of Ur and head west. Peter was a fisherman when he was called to be one of the 12. A move that would later thrust him into the spotlight as a leader in the early church. The list goes on.

In thinking about this I have wondered why this is. There are many who long for a leadership role. In fact, they are almost obsessed with it. Do those that see leadership as something to be desired or a goal to obtain make better leaders? Are those that are reluctant weaker leaders? Are those that are reluctant more aware of their own blindspots and therefore make more effective leaders? How do reluctant leaders find themselves in leadership? Shouldn't anyone in leadership deeply wish to be in leadership? What % of people in leadership sought out that leadership position? What drives some to seek leadership?

The reluctant leaders mentioned in paragraph 1 above seem to have done quite well though reluctant when initially given their assignments.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Just a reminder

Are you giving it your best today or are you settling for less?
Spiritual leaders give it their best every day. The mission is too critical not to.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I am sending out a shout-out to Robert Grimes and his Sunday School class. I have sent a soft challenge to those at ClearView reading this blog for some to sit in the two side wings on Sunday mornings. These are not the choicest seats in the house. They are too close to the front for one thing. Baptists just don't sit that close. But they are also on the side so that it feels like everyone is watching you (though they are not). Bottom line: Robert Grimes has led his class to sit in this section two Sundays in a row. We asked them to move to front and center Aug. 31 due to 140 middle schoolers who were out that weekend on a retreat.

Two words for Robert and his class: Thank you!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

One great day on a Labor Day weekend

I confess, I really don't like Labor Day weekends as a Pastor. Just about the time you get a little momentum going as kids go back to school for the Fall, it's like someone suddenly lets the air out of the balloon. "Where did all those people go?" And you know it's coming every year.

But this year at ClearView was different. Yes, we were down a bit (OK, a lot) in attendance. But then came our day at Camp Widjiwagan. Wow! We still don't know how many ClearView-ites and guests showed up at this YMCA camp 35 - 40 minutes from our campus, but it was ginormous.

When John Duval first approached me with the idea of doing this churchwide event at the YMCA camp several thoughts crossed my mind. 1) It's too far, 2) It's Labor Day weekend for Heaven's sake, 3) Nobody does this kind of thing any more 4) But what do we have to lose ... maybe a couple of hundred will show, and 5) I'll get to go down the famous Wet Willy slide! But then John added something to it. He said, "Let's do a baptism service while we are there". Then I knew he had lost his mind for reasons 1-3 above.

I am thrilled to say I was wrong on all fronts. People turned out in numbers WAY beyond our expectations. The atmosphere was incredible. I watched as people interacted with others they had not seen in awhile or maybe never before due to our 3 Sunday School and 2 Worship Service schedule. It was obvious people were having a blast. Kids all over the place, banana boating, the blob, kayaking, canoeing, water slides, swings in the water as well as out of the water, and more. But best of all, we BAPTIZED 20 during our baptismal service at 5:00. With the 2 we baptized that morning at ClearView that is 22 BAPTISMS IN ONE DAY!! A record for ClearView. AND IT WAS LABOR DAY WEEKEND??!!??

To all of you that were there, thanks for making the trip. If you weren't there, we are still working to edit the video of the baptism service. Keep watching this blog. As soon as I get it, you will see it.

To Journey Johnson and his staff, thanks for an awesome day. And to John Duval, great idea!! (as I said all along :-)) I could grow to love Labor Day Weekends.