The Brawling Drinker 3-20-23

Years ago a friend of mine and I were sitting at Hardee's eating hamburgers and talking. He was a high school friend who had moved away before we graduated and had come back for a visit. We were in our late teens or early 20's and were enjoying catching up on what had happened since we had last seen each other. At that time, Hardies was the weekend hangout for people our age.

We were seated by a window and looked up to see a young man about our age with his face pressed against the window. We did not recognize him but just kind of laughed and smiled in his direction. We didn't think much of it until he came inside and confronted us for laughing at him. It was quickly obvious that he had been drinking and wanted to fight.

He had 2 friends with him. Not only did we not want to fight, but we did not want to be outnumbered in such a situation either. Thankfully, his two friends were really nice guys and apologized for his behavior and convinced him to leave.

My teenage nephew and his friend were not quite so fortunate last summer. They were playing basketball near a parking lot when the ball got away from them. It rolled in front of a pickup that was driving through. The friend waved to warn the driver who ended up backing over the ball. As soon as it popped, he got out of his truck and proceeded to hit the 15 year old boy. My nephew immediately ran and got some adults.

The man from the truck then wanted to fight all of them and proceeded to hit a man who showed up and was asking what had happened. The small crowd that gathered was confused about what was going on as the man wanted to fight all of them. Eventually someone arrived who knew the man and was able to convince him to leave.

It was then revealed that the man had a serious alcohol problem and that he got angry and irrational when he drank. He already had multiple convictions for his behavior.

Not everyone who drinks acts like this. Still, alcohol does affect judgment. That is why Proverbs 20:1 warns, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.” As sad as the earlier stories were, imagine if someone lived with a person who drank a lot and it caused fights with a spouse or children. If alcohol is causing strain on relationships, it is time to give it up.

Although alcohol use is not strictly forbidden in scripture, warnings are given about its use because there are real risks that come with it. That is why so many have decided to just avoid it. Jesus told us we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Although he turned water into wine, he set the perfect example of love. Let us follow his example and be careful about anything that could cause us to act in a less than loving manner. 

What's In a Name?  3-6-22

My wife and I have 4 boys and now we are expecting a baby girl. That meant we had to come up with a name. We finally settled on a name that was reflective of my mother who recently passed away.

Coming up with names can be a bit of a challenge, but there are so many available. The choice is taken seriously because in our culture, once a name is chosen, the person usually has that name for the rest of their life. Sometimes, however, a person is given a nickname that just sticks. I was nearly a teenager before I realized that “Butch” was not my uncles given name.

In some cultures names can change regularly. For example the famous chief, Sitting Bull, was not given that name at birth. That name was given as a description of the man. I like that.

My name is Jerry, but that was given because it was a family name. Although I have some German heritage, and the word “Jerry” often refers to a German soldier, I am definitely not a soldier. Those soldiers did end up having to improvise on the battlefield and thus the term “Jerry rigged” was coined. I am pretty good at fixing things with duct tape and electric fence wire, so perhaps the name does fit me well.

Still I admire those who have a name like “Red Cloud,” or “Crazy Horse.” Those names paint a word picture that extends our imaginations.

Recently we have been studying the book of Genesis at Church. It is one of the oldest works of literature still in existence. It was originally written in Hebrew, but we are studying an English translation. That means that the names are typically transliterated. In other words, the sounds of the Hebrew names are phonetically translated using English letters. Of course if we did the same with the name, “Sitting Bull” we would miss much of the meaning surrounding that famous man.

One of the key figures in Genesis is a man named Abram which literally means “high father.” After God promised him many offspring, his name was changed to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude.” His name was very descriptive. When one of his wives, Hagar, was expecting his son, Ishmael, she was facing a very discouraging time in her life. God was there to comfort her during this difficult period and he told her that her sons name would be Ishmael, which means “God will hear.” Her son's name would remind her she was not alone. God would hear her.

Abraham and his other wife, Sarah, were quite old when their son Isaac was born. Sarah was so old she laughed about giving birth. The name Isaac literally means “laughter.”

These names have great meaning, but there is another Hebrew name that is even more precious. It is the name “Joshua.” In Greek, that name is pronounced “Jesus.” The meaning of his name is “Jehovah saves.” Jehovah means “the self existent eternal God.”

The meaning of these names reminds us that God saves and that Jesus is the way that God saves. “Jesus *said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6)

Who Gets the Cake?  2-20-2023