The Party Scene – Drinking

(A lot of the questions you guys have asked have are about the party scene and drinking. There are many parts to this topic, so the devotionals are going to come out in sections.)

womendrinking

I’m going to be really honest with y’all here – this topic in general was a hard one for me to write about. Not because I don’t know the answers, but because I know what it feels like to be in your shoes and because I know the high school Becca didn’t take this kind of thing seriously. I don’t want to sound like the same broken record that you hear from your parents. It’s important to me that y’all know that I did a lot of these things the wrong way when I was your age, which is big reason why I wanted to start this Bible study in the first place. I know both sides of the track. I made a lot of decisions that led to a lot of bad places, and now that I’m on the other side I understand how I got where I did and I can have these discussions from a place of real understanding. I really do get the pressures y’all feel when it comes to the party scene. Keep that in mind when you read this, OK?

So drinking. Why not?

Well, we have the obvious reason that your mom throws out there. It is against the law. Everyone has different opinions about different drinking ages, but God’s opinion is clear when he tells us to obey the law: “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” Romans 13:5

When it comes to getting drunk, He is pretty clear too: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith” 1 Peter 5:8-9

Some other things to think about…

FACT: Doing something that impairs your judgement leads you to make decisions you wouldn’t normally make. The next morning, just because the real you would not have done what the drunk you did doesn’t meant that the real you has to pay the consequences.

Example: If I let my 10-year-old cousin drive my car, and he wrecks it, who gets to take care of the damage? I do. MY car is the one that’s messed up. Was it my fault? I didn’t wreck the car, but I let him drive it, so you tell me.

FACT: eventually people are going to ask you to drink. You have two choices:

1. Yes

2. No

There is a third initial option – awkward mixture of excuses or “I don’t know”. But this eventually turns into one of the two above.

Let’s assume you want to say yes. OK – I get it. Instead of arguing, I would just ask you to think about a few things. Be honest with yourself:

  • What is the real reason you want to do it? You might not like your answer, but I can promise you that the results of ignoring that answer won’t be too tasty either.
  • What’s the worst that can happen? A lot. Take it from someone who has experienced worse things than most of you would imagine at the hands of other people because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, especially paired with alcohol or drugs. My biggest mistakes have all involved alcohol. Now, is that to say that I am anti-drinking? Of course not! But I would not

And if you say no?

  • Again, I challenge you to think about what you are really afraid of losing.
  • What is the worst that can happen? Someone won’t think you’re cool? Perhaps – although I would go ahead and throw out there that if that person is judging “coolness” on whether or not someone drinks…not only do they need to rewind and go back to preschool but why in the world would we let THAT person be in charge of whether or not we think we’re cool?

FACT: When we live lives controlled by what other people think of use we get stressed out trying to read their minds, making up the worst thoughts they could possibly have about us and then let THOSE decide how confident we feel.

One last thing…before you throw anything out the window just to be accepted by the guy you like who is already wasted at the part…I would challenge you to rethink what he will do for your life if you do finally earn his attention…and ask yourself if earning it is really about him, or about trying to prove something to yourself?

People are looking for others to take a stand & lead. Let it start with you.

PS – if there are ever any specific situations you want to ask about please don’t hesitate to! I will tell you the total truth to any question you ask about my life/past/mistakes – I promise 🙂

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QUESTION: How do I know when I am called to do something?

This is a question that everyone who follows Jesus struggles with at some point in their walk with Him! We all have callings; specific purposes that God has for each of us individually. There are also things that God has already called all of us all to do in the Bible. It helps me to break the two down.

A great place to start is knowing what God has already called us to do – instructions He has given us in the Bible. Here are some examples:

  • Sharing Jesus with other people; sharing our faith: “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15
  • Loving: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:36-40
  • Physical boundaries, fighting sexual temptation: “For this is the will of God…that you refrain from sexual immorality” 1 Thessalonians 4:3
  • Prayer; Making a habit of talking to God about things: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful…” Colossians 4:2
  • Watching what we say: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace…so that you may know how to answer everyone” Colossians 4:3-6
  • Encouraging, forgiving, helping, being patient: “And we urge you, brothers and sisters…encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient…Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else“ 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22

Now, when it comes to individual callings that are not specifically written in the Bible, one way that helps me is to think about it this way: “Based on what I know about God, is this something He would want me to do? Will it create something that He is all about, or will it create something I know He doesn’t like?”  We have two “voices” that speak to us, just like Eve did – God and Satan want opposite things. If we feel like we’re supposed to reach out to someone who needs friends, separate ourselves from people who bring us down, go on a mission trip, etc., we can draw that line back to God. Satan doesn’t want us to do anything that results in God’s glory, our true/lasting happiness.

Sometimes, it’s not that simple. Believe me, I know! When I am completely at a loss about what to do, something that really helps me is to pray this prayer: “God, I don’t know what to do. Please give me peace about what I am supposed to do, and give me unpeacefulness about what I am not supposed to do. Please close doors that I am not supposed to walk through and open the one I am supposed to walk through”. He will! He has a lot of ways of speaking to us and showing us things. We just have to be ready to listen when we ask. Sometimes, the most powerful thing we can do is admit that we don’t know what to do. That makes room for Him to show us.

When we pray and read the Bible and spend time with God, it becomes a lot easier to see what He is telling us vs. what our friends are telling us, or even what we are telling ourselves. Just like in any other relationship – the more time we spend with someone, the better we get to know them. The better we get to know someone, the better we understand them.

REMEMBER

God does not tempt us to sin, ever. “God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.” James 1:13

God will never go against what He has already clearly stated in the Bible. That is why reading it and memorizing key verses are such helpful tools in learning to know His voice.

QUESTION: Even when you mess up so many things, how is it possible for God to still love you? How does he forgive us for everything and not be angry, but compassionate?

Fortunately for us, God doesn’t base His love on our actions. He decided long ago that nothing could ever change His love for us. It’s just who He is. He actually isn’t capable of not loving us.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. “ 2 Timothy 2:13

You see, when Jesus died, He paid the price for our sin – all of it – past, present, future. We can’t ever make up for our sin, and we don’t have to. When we ask Jesus to come into our lives and accept Him as our Savior, the Bible says we are made “white as snow”. Not just once, but forever. Every time we sin, imagine Jesus saying “It’s OK. I paid the price already. You are forgiven. Let’s try to do better together. I can help you. I love you. “ We do need to ask Him for forgiveness when we sin, He wants us to do that because that is part of having a real relationship, but we don’t have to wonder whether or not He will give it to us.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” Isaiah 1:18

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us” Psalm 103:12

It isn’t possible for God to be mean or resentful or hateful. It goes against everything He is and everything Jesus died for. Nothing we can do will ever change His love and compassion for us.  It’s that mercy and grace that drives us to want a relationship with Him and want to obey Him.

“Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

It doesn’t make sense to us, because our brains can’t understand a love that big or deep. We can’t understand why or how He can possibly have so much love and forgiveness. But, that’s one of the reasons it’s so amazing to follow Him and do life with Him. We don’t have to understand it, we can just accept it.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16

QUESTION: Why would God let bad things happen if he knows they will happen?

I struggled with this question so much, for a really long time. There are a few approaches to answer this. I will explain further in a minute, but first, here is a direct answer to the question:

When God created people in the very beginning (Adam and Eve), the world was perfect. There was no sin, there was no heartache. There were no breakups, there were no murders, there were no hurt feelings. But God didn’t want robots. He created people with a choice. He gave Adam and Eve the ability to choose between right and wrong. The only thing God asked Adam and Eve not to do was eat the fruit of off one tree in a garden that had a ton of (perfect) trees. You may know the story, but Satan tempts Eve into eating the fruit off of the forbidden tree, and Adam eats it too (how would you like to be THAT girl). When they chose to do that, they let sin, darkness and hurt enter the world. People can choose to do bad things if they want to, and the world is constantly experiencing things like natural disasters. God created a perfect world, but He also created us with the ability to choose. If God were to stop every bad thing from happening, we would be puppets, not people.

God never promised us that life will be easy. In fact, he told us the opposite. “You will have suffering in this world. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.  We can have hope because Jesus died to free us from sin, and one day He promises to come back and rescue everyone who believes in Him and take them to Heaven where there will never be any pain or heartbreak.

The truth is, there are some things we just can’t understand. I can’t tell you why the shootings in Colorado happened, or why a tragic and deadly earthquake shakes an entire city. We may never get the full answer to some things until we get to Heaven. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then [when we get to Heaven] we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

I went through a time in my life where I had some really bad stuff happen, and I got so mad at God. I didn’t understand why He would “let these things happen to me”. Over time, I realized that what happened to me were results of living in a fallen, evil world. God hurts when we hurt because we are His kids, and He is right here with open arms to comfort and heal what the world has broken.

We may not always understand, but we do know two things:

  1. God can take anything evil and turn it into good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
  2. God is the ultimate source of comfort and help. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also graciously give us all things?…Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us… neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39

QUESTION: How do we know FOR SURE that Christianity is the right religion? Other people think that their religion is right, too….

This is a great question! There are historical facts that prove things in the Bible really took place, including the existence of Jesus. It has been proven that Jesus was a real person. However, faith is called faith for a reason. We have to have faith in order to find out for ourselves if something is real. When you enter a relationship with someone, do you really KNOW that they are going to treat you well? Do you really know the outcome? No, you have no way of knowing that until you enter the relationship and find out for yourself. You make a choice to believe and hope that it’s real, and you find out when you take that leap of faith.

Here are some things to think about:

  • Christianity is the only religion that doesn’t base whether or not we are saved on what we have done or what we do. We don’t have to earn our way to Heaven by doing good things. Christians are saved when they choose to accept the free gift of salvation.
  • Christianity is the only religion that is based on what has already been done. Jesus already died on the cross for us so that we can get into Heaven. Nothing can undo that.
  • Unlike other religions, Christianity doesn’t focus on being worthy. We don’t have to earn God’s love.
  • Christians don’t have to earn God’s forgiveness, we just have to ask for it and it is immediately given to us.
  • Jesus is the only one who left Heaven to come to earth as a human just like us so that He could get on our level
  • Jesus is the only one who sacrificed his life for us
  • Jesus is the only one who was raised from the dead

Let me tell you how I know it is right.

I know because God is the only one who has been able to help me get through times in my life I never thought I would get through. He has helped me overcome things that no one thought I could. I have tried to fill my life and my heart with so many other things. No amount of alcohol, no drug, no boy, no weight on the scale gave me what I needed. They could make me happy for the moment, or at least help me forget about what else was hurting me, but none of it never lasted. God is the only thing that has been able to truly satisfy me. I have tried to find security, happiness and self-worth in which guys think I’m hot, what the popular people say about me, what clothes I wear. It doesn’t matter how tight something is on my butt or how big my boobs look, the attention “high” is always quick to leave. I have found that God is the only thing that can really give those things to me, and give them for good. He gives me a happiness and a security and a hope that I can hang onto even in the hardest times. He has always forgiven me and His love truly is unconditional. He is always there for me, no matter what happens. He changed my life and I have never once regretted trusting Him. Not one single time.

If you like facts and scientific evidence, Kirsten found reading these two books to be really helpful: “The Case for The Creator” and “The Case for Christ”. They are written by a guy named Lee Strobel who was a former atheist. The books are all about his journey and how he proved Christianity to himself. If you have a logical brain, these might be really cool for you to check out sometime.

Faith is a Choice to believe, and one that only you can make for yourself. I would challenge someone who is unsure to try, and let God show Himself. We have to choose to believe in Him so we can recognize Him when He shows Himself, but if we open the door to our heart He will come in.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in” Revelation 3:20

QUESTION: I want to be a perfect Christian, but I don’t know how to make that happen, especially with what I say. How can I change the words I speak to be a better Christian?

Good news first – there is no such thing as a perfect Christian. None of us will ever be perfect. Even better news – we don’t need to be. God doesn’t expect us to be. There is a really cool verse in the Bible that talks about this…2 Corinthians 4:7 says (hold on I’ll explain it after you read it) “If you only look at us, you might miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s power with us.”  Think about a clay pot…it’s not the sturdiest thing in the world. It’s not perfect. In this verse, the precious Message is God and His salvation. We are the clay pots. He put the message of Himself inside of us, knowing that we will mess up sometimes. He did this on purpose so that HE can be shown through everything, even our weaknesses.

The struggle to watch what we say is so real – Kirsten and I struggle with it too! There are so many times just in a just day when we both says things and wish we could take them back. First, know that the fact that you are asking this question about how to be more conscious is a huge step! That being said, we should try our best to follow Him and show Him to other people through our actions and words. As Believers, people look to us to show them what Jesus was like.

Words are really powerful. The Bible says “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” Proverbs 18:21. We all know what it is like to have not-so-great words come out of our mouths, whether it’s dishonesty, envy, gossip, anger, etc. We know what it feels like to have words catch up with us – getting that text message that says “so I heard that you think I am _____”. Not fun! We also all know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of those kinds of words.

A few ways you can watch what you say:

  • It sounds cliché, but spending time with God and reading your Bible are the best things you can do. The more time you spend with Him, the more you will naturally have a head and heart full of things that encourage good things to come out of your mouth.
  • Try to pause before you say something. Even if it’s just taking a quick breath before you yell at your sister, or walking away instead of engaging with that person who is just a complete jerk. Same goes for texting – before responding, pause and go do something else. Take a deep breath. Pray. Whatever it takes to figure out the best way to respond.
  • Think about your motives for saying something before you say it. If it’s to hurt someone else or to fit in, it’s best to try to swallow the words before they come out. They always come back to bite us.
  • Ask God to help you be more conscious of what you are saying, and help you replace words you want to say with words He would want you to say instead.

Let’s use an example that we all encounter just about every day:

Your friend is venting to you about another friend and it starts to feel like you are backstabbing her. It’s human nature to support what your friend is saying, so you jump in and talk bad about her too. What if, instead, you just listened really well and focused on finding out why your friend is upset. Are her feelings hurt? Is she jealous? You can understand without bashing someone else, and you can encourage her without helping her compare herself to someone else even more. Can you help her see both perspectives? Help her forgive someone? Help them reconcile? Addressing the real issue of the problem is much more helpful to your friend who is hurt and it will cause you a lot less trouble if it’s repeated.

“Watch your talk!…Say what is good. Your words should build each other up/help others grow as Christians.” Ephesians 4:29

“Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing in Your eyes, God, my Rock and the One Who saves me.” Psalm 19:14