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Archive for March, 2011

Baptism Pictures: February 27, 2011

 

On February 27th, two great teenagers were baptized after sharing their stories of faith. It’s very encouraging to know that teens like this will be part of the future of the church.

Veronica Loewen and Peter Ralph

Halleluia

Proud Mom, Gayle and Veronica

Alison and Veronica (sisters)

Erin Peters

Praise God

Proud parents, Mark, (Erin) and Yanara

Tony (Grandpa) and Erin

 

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Are Christians Allowed to Drink Wine?

March 13, 2011 1 comment

By Karen Gross

I was asked recently what I thought about Christians drinking wine. I think that my friend was surprised by my answer…

There are many Christians who abstain from alcohol. Some say that all Christians should abstain. Some say that a little wine now and then is acceptable, as long as it is in moderation. I have met a few who believe and teach that Jesus and His disciples did not drink wine. They insist that when the New Testament refers to wine, it really means grape juice.

Those who know me know that I believe that the Bible is God’s authoritative word to us.  So I went to the Bible to see what it says about wine.

I ran a search and found that the word ‘wine’ is used 215 times in the Bible (183 in the Old Testament and 32 in the New Testament). The word ‘vineyard is used 57 times, and winepress 17 times.

In the Middle East culture during Biblical times, the vineyard was very important part of life. When speaking of the provision of God, they reference the bounty of the flock, the threshing floor, and the winepress. In Psalm 104, the psalmist gives praise to God for His gifts to man: “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate– bringing forth food from the earth:  wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.”

In Deuteronomy chapter 6, there is a list of people who should be exempt from going to war: a man who is betrothed to a woman, lest he die in battle and someone else marry her; a man who has just built a new house and not yet dedicated it; and one who has planted a vineyard and not yet begun to enjoy the wine.

Several of the parables that Jesus told to teach the people started with “a certain man planted a vineyard.”  When he pointed out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, he told them “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”(Luke 7:33-34) Of course, John the Baptist was not demon possessed, and Jesus was neither a glutton nor a drunkard, it was just an expression of how the Pharisees were attacking the characters of Jesus and John instead of listening to the message. My reason for quoting this verse is only to dispel the myth that the wine that Jesus and His disciples drank was just grape juice.

Wine and vineyards play such a large part in the culture in the Biblical narrative that I can’t imagine that God would forbid His people to drink it. Jesus drank real wine, and he mentioned vineyards as part of many of his teachings. There is the analogy of the vine and the branches – Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. The branches need to stay connected to the vine to stay alive. Then of course there is the sacrament that Jesus established – the bread and the wine to represent His body broken and His blood spilled as a sacrifice for our redemption.

I am not saying that Christians should or should not drink wine. This is a matter which is not expressly forbidden in the Scriptures, so it is up to each Christian to decide. The only Biblical imperative is Ephesians 5:18 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

I have a problem with any question that starts with ‘Are Christians Allowed to…’ Christianity is freedom. It is not a list of do’s and don’ts or an ethical code to follow. Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ, and our goal is to learn how to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind; and to love our neighbour as ourselves. If drinking wine impedes your ability to love God (for example, if alcohol controls you) or keeps you from loving someone in your life (perhaps someone close to you is recovering from addiction and your wine drinking could cause that person to stumble), then Paul’s words in Romans 14 should be your guide. The whole chapter is applicable but I will just quote a bit and you can read the rest yourself if you are interested. “If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love” (v. 15) and “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (v. 17)

(Scripture references from the New International Version, © 1978 by New York International Bible Society)

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God Moments

By Alison Lehman

God knows what we need and when we need it, even if we don’t! Have you ever trusted anyone enough to have a meltdown with them? This requires a huge amount of trust, this I know.

Last Friday at about lunch time I started to feel on the edge. I have increased my hours at work recently and we have a new dog in the house to look after. This has turned my usual relaxed day into a very busy, no down-time day. I started working afternoons in early February so I’ve been at this busy schedule since then. My body and mind are having a great time trying to catch up to a new normal. After lunch on Friday, I returned to work after taking the dog for a walk and knew that I was walking a tight rope. I had a headache and just wanted to get through the afternoon (2 hrs) so I could zonk out at home  and relax for the weekend. I did make it through the afternoon and collapsed on the couch a few hours later.

Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of a meltdown. The rest hit me Sunday morning at church. I was sitting in the service trying to listen but I was on sensory overload. Every sound was magnified and I felt like I wanted to run for the hills. I was a little bit scared. I prayed that God would just sustain me through the service until I could make a great escape to the other end of the building where it was quiet and I could pull myself together. (Preferably with no witnesses)  He did sustain me and I bee-lined it for the office area. I was walking around trying to find quiet while my husband stacked chairs and, lo and behold, who comes around the corner but one of my LTG partners. Uh oh! She saw me and asked if I was doing okay. I shook my head no and made my way to the couches. She asked the golden question, something to the effect of, “Would you like me to stay?” AGH!!! And watch me lose it? I told her she was welcome to stay if she wanted, so she followed me to the couch.

The choice ahead of me was, “Do I get real and vulnerable or do I brush her off and say I’ll be fine.” I didn’t want someone else to witness my fragile state of mind, (the pride thing) but at the same time I figured God put her there for “such a time as this.” I chose to trust that it would be okay and it was. She was able to minister to me and listen and just be there. A friend in time of need. She told me after I pulled out of my funk that she never walks down that hallway. She felt God telling her, “I need you to do this for me.” She obeyed and I was blessed and it was a God thing.

Do you have someone in your life you can do the tough stuff with? If you don’t, I recommend getting an LTG partner or joining another group of two. Without this kind of support, life seems much more difficult and lonely. God knows we need help to get through life. He’s given us a church family for “such a time as this.” (Whatever that time looks like) It’s comforting to know I don’t always have to be on top of my game. I am loved regardless.

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