December 23 – Bottle of Insanity

Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Proverbs 23:31-32 NKJV

Addiction is nothing new, but anymore, more common than not. And of all the forms of addiction, the gateway for most is alcohol. Each week, some of the dearest men and women I know gather together as a unified force against this monster that has stolen so much of their lives.

Today’s proverb is profound and needs to be absorbed with very little “exposition.” Here is a version that I like that puts a bit of modern color on the subject:

Who are the people who are always crying the blues? Who do you know who reeks of self-pity? Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all? Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is serious business. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with- the splitting headache, the queasy stomach. Do you really prefer seeing double, with your speech all slurred, reeling and seasick, drunk as a sailor? “They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt; they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing. When I’m sober enough to manage it, bring me another drink!” Proverbs 23:29-35 MSG

Insanity! And so many of us have been there…are there. If you consume alcohol, you must know it cannot be trusted. If you find yourself making excuses for it, chances are there’s a problem. When you look around and your life reflects brokenness and loss in the area of dear loved ones and good relationships, ask this question: Could it be the alcohol? Better yet, call up one of those people and ask them point blank, “Did my drinking have anything to do with what happened with us?”

Life is too short to live a lie. The fruit of the vine can serve a wonderful purpose, but man’s historical temptation toward abuse of its properties warrants extreme caution. Faith, family and friends are not worth the bottle of insanity.

September 12 – Turkish Delight, and Other Sweet Nothings

The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet, her soft words are oh so smooth.  But it won’t be long before she’s gravel in your mouth, a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart. Proverbs 5:3-4 MSG

Any of us may battle some sort of addictive challenge. And though today’s Proverb refers to the “seductive woman,” the picture in view is anything that takes possession of your mind, will, and emotions.

No one is exempt. It may not be alcohol, but it might be anger. It might not be drugs, but it might be greedy gain…never enough. And it might not be pornography, but it might be religion. We all are susceptible to some type of subtle seduction.

In my own life, I have had to shake myself out of a few unconscious comas over the years. And no matter what it was, I first had to see it was a problem for me. Verse 2 of Proverbs 5 talks about exercising discrimination and discretion in order to guard and keep wisdom. Therefore the realization often came when I got tired of the bad taste of something that used to seem so sweet.

At that point, the lion’s share of the battle was won. Then God could spiritually nudge and navigate me step by step to wholeness and health.

All around us is divine destiny calling us to live life “loud” and unencumbered. And all around us there is a devious deception crawling about lusting for just the right moment to steal a piece of freedom from each and every one of us.

If today finds you pushing through the dark clouds of addiction, know that God has not forsaken you, we are all here, and you are not alone. When you are desperate to be done with the deception, say it! Then watch for the way out. . . from within.