Monday, November 30, 2009

Alcohol and the Holidays

Last week a news program dealt with a problem many families struggle with at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The problem was big family fights and how to avoid them at family celebrations. One recommended option was to reduce the amount of alcohol served at family gatherings.

I have a better solution. Have an alcohol-free, drug-free holiday. I’m well aware that you can have family fights without alcohol being involved. The first thing alcohol does, however, is affect your judgment and reduce your inhibitions. With a little alcohol you do things you would never do in your right mind. Drug free, many can hold their tongues and keep their attitudes in check.

For those who think you must have alcohol at every family gathering, I would ask, Why? Even dedicated drinkers should be able to survive two or three hours without a mind altering recreational drug. If it is your home then you don’t have to supply it or allow it. You can also be gracious, but firm in prohibiting alcohol in your home.

Several years ago the Gulf Coast city of Galveston, Texas had a problem. Families were no longer going to the Seawall. They studied the issue and found that with all the drunken partying, families were staying away. Galveston made the wise decision to ban alcohol on the Seawall. An amazing thing happened. Peace and tranquility reigned and the families returned. Absence of alcohol will never solve all problems, but it will certainly solve many of them.

Alcohol coarsens everything it touches. The great Southern Baptist preacher, R. G. Lee, eloquently preached, “Intoxicating beverage never touched an individual that it did not leave an indelible stain, never touched a family that it did not plant the seeds of misery and dissolution, never touched a community that it did not lower the moral tone, chill religion and undermine law. Liquor never touched a state that it did not multiply crime, destroy wealth and increase the burden of taxation. It never touched a nation that it did not clog the machinery of government, blight prosperity, weaken patriotism and encourage treason.”

Want a peaceful family Thanksgiving? Want a joy-filled, Christ-honoring Christmas? One way to achieve that goal is to pour beverage alcohol down the drain.

Reference: Highways to Havoc by R. G. Lee, Christ for the World Publishers, Orlando, Florida; 1974. Lee (AD 1886-1978) was pastor of First Baptist Church, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee. He served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention and authored numerous books.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 30, AD 2009.

Ancient Wine and the Bible - the Book; update
Wine for Your Stomach's Sake; 1 Timothy 5:23
More articles in lower right margin. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bibles and Bible Study

What are the basics of doing a credible Bible Study on your own? In several posts that may or may not be consecutive, I’d like to try and answer that question. Hopefully this information will be helpful to young pastors, laymen, Sunday School teachers, and those who teach new believers.

To study the Bible, the first thing you need is a Bible. That’s profound, isn’t it? :-) . The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek (and some Aramaic). But unless you are fluent in those languages, you need a good English translation.

Good modern English Bible translations include the New King James Version (NKJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Version (NIV), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). My favorite is the NKJV. That may be partly because I grew up using the old King James Version (KJV).

Once you get a good translation of the Bible, the next thing you need is a second translation of the Bible. Why? Because when one translation is not clear, another translation may be. It can help your understanding to occasionally read the passage under study in a different translation. So get at least two of the above translations. Most of these translations in hardback editions cost about $10 to $20.

Third, get a good Study Bible. A Study Bible has Bible Study helps built right into the volume. Study helps like: a brief introduction to each of the 66 books of the Bible, footnotes that explain hard to understand verses, cross references in the margins that tell you about similar or contrasting verses elsewhere in the Bible, brief glossary or dictionary, concordance to help you find Bible verses, maps, and short articles on major doctrines and themes in the Bible. A Study Bible can give brief, easy to understand explanations of many Bible subjects. While you will end up disagreeing with some of the Bible Study notes, they can keep you from getting too far off base in basic Christian doctrine.

There are many helpful Study Bibles. In my opinion, some of the best are the Scofield Study Bible, Ryrie Study Bible, and the Criswell Study Bible (Later editions called Believer's Study Bible, and Baptist Study Edition; all are good. I have the Believer's Study Bible).

The Criswell Study Bible (Managing Editor Paige Patterson), and its various editions, is unfortunately out of print, but can still be found in some bookstores or at Hopefully it will one day be republished; it is one of the best.

The above Study Bibles are available in several Bible translations. So you may want to kill two stones with one bird by getting two Study Bibles in different translations :-) . The drawback to a Study Bible is that it is more expensive. Study Bibles range in price from $20 to $50 dollars for a hardback edition, to $50 to over $100 for leather-bound editions. They can be purchased at LifeWay Stores (, other local Christian bookstores, or through,, etc. They make great birthday and Christmas gifts. (Be sure to give your local Christian bookstore some of your business. If they don‘t have it in stock, they can order it.)

Once you get a Study Bible, take some time to read the introduction and the explanation of their Helps and Notes. Many have a Study Bible for years without knowing how to take advantage of all the helps it offers.

Much of the above Bible Study information can also be obtained free on the internet at and They offer numerous Bible translations, concordance (word search), and other study helps. While these two sites are good, be cautious about the internet. Some websites are faithful to the Word of God, many are not.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 24, AD 2009.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Squanto, an American Joseph: A Thankgiving Story

“God sent me before you to preserve life.”
“You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.”

-Genesis 45:5; 50:20

In 1605 Squanto was an American Indian living with his people in what is now called New England, USA. He and several of his friends were captured by an English fishing expedition and taken to England.

Squanto lived with the English Captain, learned English, learned to eat English food, and learned English customs. Nine years later he came back to America on another fishing expedition and was finally allowed to return to his village.

Just a few months later, however, another group of Englishmen arrived and Squanto was taken prisoner again. This time he was taken, with other American Indians, to the slave trading port of Malaga, Spain. There 27 American Indians were paraded on an auction block and sold, many to Arab slave traders. When it came Squanto’s turn a monk walked by, took pity on him, and bought him. He was taken to a monastery and there learned about Jesus.

Eventually the monks gave Squanto his freedom. Homesick, he made his way back to England and finally to his home in America. But when he arrived home, he discovered that his entire tribe had been killed by a mysterious disease, probably brought by the white man. Imagine being kidnapped, taken to a foreign land, sold into slavery, then losing your family, even your entire tribe, to disease.

Squanto went to live with a neighboring tribe. In 1621 he learned of a group of Englishmen attempting to settle in the area that had belonged to his people.

What a chance for revenge! Before him was a magnificent opportunity to even the score.

Rather than revenge, Squanto went to their aid.

The Pilgrims knew little to nothing of surviving in the wilderness. In four months they had managed to catch only one codfish.

God had perfectly prepared Squanto for such a time as this. He knew their language and their customs. He knew how to survive in a hostile land. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to fish, stalk deer, plant pumpkins, skin beavers and deer, and what wild food was edible. He taught them how to plant corn with a fish underneath for fertilize.

William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony, called Squanto “a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation.”

The Pilgrims had a Thanksgiving celebration at harvest to thank God for His goodness. Ninety Indians came with five dressed deer (venison) on poles, 12 dressed turkeys, berry pies, fish, fowl and vegetables. For three days they feasted and celebrated. They had foot races, wrestling, and archery contests. This event became a tradition each year. It is the origin of our modern day Thanksgiving holiday.

In 1622 Squanto became ill with Indian fever and died within a few days. He desired “the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen’s God in Heaven.”

In his brief years, Squanto lived the life of an American Joseph. What an example of taking the evil of men, and turning it into good.

Baptist Press article 11-23-2005 by Erin Curry, and The Spirit of America by Kenyn M. Cureton.
Children’s book, Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 16, AD 2009.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pastors, Salaries, Parsonages

Pastor needed. Parsonage provided.

Parsonage (pastor’s housing):
“A small cottage or, more properly, a hut for the minister and his wife. It contained several pieces of ageing and broken furniture: a table, two chairs and a bed that had to be supported by stone slabs. Some of the floorboards had rotted away and in their place lay a pile of bare stones. The door through which the couple entered the cottage was old and decayed, and afforded little shelter from the wind and rain, and the frugal congregation saved the expense of a new door by nailing a tin plate across the bottom of it for added protection against the elements. The roof was so low that the master of the house, who was of commanding stature, could barely stand upright and he often knocked his head.”

Pastoral field “made up of only a few scattered houses, each consisting of just one room, where the members of the family lived and died. In this one room ‘all the washing, cooking, baking, weaving, spinning, and dyeing were done. Hidden away in corners were the few belongings necessary to live, while under the rafters hung dried fish, salted meat and bacon, and the herbs so necessary to flavour the meals.”

17 £ per year. Roughly $75 per year, or $6.25 per month.

Pastor’s Transportation:
A horse with a broken down stable next to the parsonage. Therefore, pastor often exposed to bad weather. Horse not always available. On one occasion, this minister was scheduled to preach at an Associational meeting some 200 miles away. “He set out on foot, preaching at various places along the way, and duly arrived on time.”

At this meeting, as he preached on the Prodigal Son, “a strong wave of emotion passed over the congregation; and there were tears and great joy, and loud praise; and these expressions of feeling continued for a long time after the preacher had finished his sermon.”

The above applies to one of the greatest Baptist preachers of all time, Christmas Evans of Wales. A preacher highly praised by B. H. Carroll, founder of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Evans (AD 1766-1838) was compared to John Knox and Charles H. Spurgeon.

The above financial situation was true of Evans in the prime of his life. God used him mightily; he preached with uncommon power. But his income was very low. This all probably speaks even more highly of Evan’s wife, Catherine.

Something to consider the next time you feel you are not making nearly as much as you are worth. I’m all for pastors making a good salary and living in a comfortable home. Some churches should be ashamed of the low wage they give their pastors (1 Corinthians 9:7-14; Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17-18). But on the other hand, too many seminary students seem to be called to pastor only affluent congregations. The affluent need good preaching, the underprivileged do as well.

Like the great one-eyed preacher Christmas Evans, God may have called you to preach salvation to the poor. That is no small calling. Your salary is not a measure of the value God places on your ministry.

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. -Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1-3.

(Above quotes from Christmas Evans - No Ordinary Preacher by Tim Shenton, Day One Publications, 2008.)

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 3, AD 2009.