02 January 2014

A Guest Post from Doug

I encourage you to take a few moments to read this guest post from Doug. Please, feel free to comment or leave questions. Doug will be happy to respond.

by Rev. Doug Gregan
(aka, the Saxophone Player)
The most astounding thing about the subject of Christians drinking alcohol is the narrow focus that both sides of the discussion tend to stay on. 
The spiritual root of drinking is one of authority and friendship with the world, neither of which do I ever hear discussed. 

The very nature of an intimate relationship with God is one of increased Presence, resulting in increased holiness. This conversation on whether a Christian should drink, or if drinking is sin, is shallow and weak. The real question should be, "Why aren't Christians more Christ-like?" 
We are called out from among them, to be separate. Friendship with the world is enmity with God, and brings us under the authority of the world and its spirit. The spirit that drives alcohol is undeniably of the world, and under the authority of the devil. There's not a man or woman alive who can tell me of a time when drinking brought them into a greater intimacy with Christ, drove them to love God more, or brought them into greater holiness and sanctification. 
Does not the scripture tell us from beginning to the end that He is calling us out and unto Himself? Consider Romans  6:18-22:
"You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."
This is the key to this whole issue, whether it be drinking, watching anything that exalts the flesh, gluttonous eating, dressing like the world, or any other behavior that opens the door for the flesh to be strengthened. 

"What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!" 
And it does result in death. 
Complacency, laziness, lack of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, lack of compassion towards those who don't, can't, or won't "handle" the same things you can - it is all death. It produces a self-righteous, self-centered attitude evidenced by the countless defensive comments that come up in these type of discussions. 
Then, there is the subtle, but incredible importance of spiritual authority mentioned in verse 16: "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?"

Those who drink are yielding a measure of their spiritual authority to the flesh and the devil. Alcohol, by it's very nature, deadens sensitivity to Holy Spirit and weakens our ability to control the flesh as we should. 
The angry man is more susceptible to anger, the lustful man is more susceptible to lust, the proud man more to pride, the depressed man more to depression, the jealous man more to jealousy, and on it goes. This all takes place when one "walks in his freedom to drink." I've served in prison ministry for ten years and could not begin to tell of the devastation and carnage left in the wake of alcohol. This includes Christians, men and women becoming casual with drinking, declaring their freedom to do so.  I have yet to have a drug addict tell me that their addiction was not preceded by alcohol use. 
Yet, we proudly demand and defend our right to drink. It is sad and shameful. The devil mocks and laughs at the impotence of the Church to touch our generation with Christ-like love, life, and POWER. We would do well to heed the call of James 4. After exposing the Lord's attitude to worldliness, James says in 4:7-10:
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."

I understand fully the emptiness of imposing restrictions and not trusting in the transforming work of the Spirit to bring about abundant life, balance, and control. The emphasis of my sharing is on the yoking of ourselves to spiritual forces and influences we have no business being in agreement with. Light has no agreement wih darkness. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:12:

"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."

We interact with this verse only on the level of the substance or behavior in question, but it transcends that. It speaks to every spiritual dynamic that is associated with those elements.

Where are those who are broken, weeping between the porch and altar, for the souls of those bound and enslaved? One can defend the biblical right to eat and drink. I get that. But, who can show me a man who is ministering in power and authority, yet allows himself to be brought under the authority of the spiritual forces connected to these worldly elements? They are not profitable. We will never step into the realm of darkness, addiction, and brokenness with any authority to bring genuine deliverance, yoked to these things.

Should this be the shining prize I declare to the addicted and their broken family? "One day, you'll be able to drink in freedom, like I do."

I am deeply concerned by the absence of genuine discipleship that prepares God's people to be ambassadors of reconciliation, walking in the power of God to bring the lost, broken, and hurting into freedom. Please, take a few minutes to read Ephesians 4:11-27, and prayerfully consider the life you are living today.

I welcome your comments and questions.

01 January 2014

Still Christmas

We celebrated Christmas today.

Yes, we did celebrate with extended family last week, not to mention helping make Christmas for almost 700 men, but this is our Gregan Christmas. Just us three. It was a good solution to the circumstances of our schedule, and allowed us to have more time for our 'away' Christmas. I like how it worked out. Though I am all ready planning for Christmas 2014 and hoping I will be more prepared, maybe even get Christmas cards in the mail in December, I wouldn't mind doing this again. We have had a relaxed day, and that's worth a lot.

I didn't do a lot of decorating (only tapped into two of my six or seven Christmas bins), but it was enough. We do have a very small place, so it doesn't take much to set the mood.

I thought I would share a few pictures. I'll give you a glimpse of our little "missions station."

And, speaking of this mission in which we serve, we are going to need many Christmas cards this year - Mire than every year so far combined. So, if you have unused Christmas cards you would like to donate to NBF, or are willing and able to purchase cards for us, at post-Christmas, discounted prices, please consider helping us in this way. You may contact us if you are in the area, or mail cards to us at NBF, P.O. Box 307, Haverhill, Massachsetts, 01830. Thank you!

My little flag & a Santa that is supposed to light up.

There is a story behind that messy string of lights. 

A wreath made from sheet music; a gift from a friend.

Hannah's village. It is growing!

My "kitchen tree." I use my cookie cutters to decorate it.

Our swag has seen better days!

The window over my kitchen sink.

I love this banner.

Our tree!

Our living room.

Our Christmas Nook.

One of my 
nativities, a gift from my mother-in-law.

Hannah's Santas: Englad, Ireland, & Czechoslovokia.

One of my favorite objects.

Hannah's bedroom door. We surprised her.

Christmas is always about the children - no matter how grown-up!

My Christmas gift to me: an organizer for my Christmas ribbons.

My Mother's Merry Christmas sign. (Missing her sweet face, one year and one day since her Homegoing.)

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. God bless you all!