Should Pastors Abstain from Drinking Alcohol?

I grew up in the south and in a denomination where drinking alcohol was frowned upon for the average church attender and definitely considered taboo for pastors.

I served in the central valley of California where I could drive to several wineries within five minutes and where the church didn’t frown upon social drinking.

I served in another part of the country when at my first elders meeting, it was literally an open bar. I was offered a choice of about a half dozen alcoholic beverages.

Is too much Knowledge Hindering your Evangelism?

A simple game devised by a Ph.D. at Stanford in 1990 has bearing on how effective we communicate the Gospel.

I just finished the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. I highly recommend it.

They refer to a study where assigned people were given one of two rolls: a ‘tapper’ or a ‘listener.’ Tappers received a list of 25 well-known songs (like Happy Birthday). They were asked to pick a song and tap out the rhythm to the listener, who was not made privy to the list. After the ‘tapper’ tapped out the song, the listener guessed the song’s name.

After 120 songs were tapped, listeners guessed only 3. The tappers predicted they would guess 60.

Chip and Dan call this the Curse of Knowledge. It happens when we know so much about a subject, it becomes impossible for us imagine what it was like to not know. As a result, we find it hard to imagine that others don’t know as well. Thus, as Chip and Dan write, “it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create the state of mind of our listeners.”

As I read this story, it reminded me that in our biblically illiterate word, we can too easily assume that those to whom we share and teach know more than they really do.

The implication: in our teaching and our evangelizing, we must guard against over-assuming.

What I Learned about Human Nature at my Audition for a Commercial

When most people think of improv, the TV show Who’s Line is it Anyway usually comes to mind.

I’d seen the show a few times and never envisioned myself taking an improv class. But, for the past few years I’ve taken several classes and I’ve had a blast. It’s also given me the chance to hang around some people who don’t embrace Christ as I do.

Last year my teacher got me an audition as a pastor in the re-make of Nightmare on Elm Street. I didn’t get the part, but since then I’ve auditioned a few times for regional commercials. The roles I’ve played have ranged from a looking like a medical doctor to pretending I was a 50 year old former professional football player…who danced (I am not lying).

Recently I got a callback for a commercial.

That day the casting agency office was crammed with auditioners. I sat in the waiting room facing the entrance door so I was able to see every actor who came in.

Here’s what I noticed. Every person who walked through the door quickly scanned the faces of every other actor in the room (as did I). What were we doing?

Comparing. We were subconsciously comparing ourselves with the others who were competing for the same spots.

Although I’m no mindreader, I imagine these questions surfaced.

  • Are these guys more handsome than me?
  • Am I prettier than the rest of the women?
  • I wonder how much experience he has compared to me?
  • Am I dressed as well as the rest?
  • etc, etc.

My short stay in the waiting room of a casting agency reminded me that we naturally tend to compare ourselves with others in most areas of life.

When that happens, two things can occur.

We become proud of our accomplishments, looks, and experience because we think we are better than others.

Or, we berate ourselves for not measuring up to the rest of the crowd.

I went away from this audition with a fresh reminder and desire to follow God’s reminder to Samuel when he was looking for Israel’s new king.

1Sam. 16.7 (MESSAGE) …GOD judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; GOD looks into the heart.

Making the Most of the Next 10 years: A Simple Self-Evaluation

H. B. London, VP of Pastoral Ministries for Focus on the Family sends out a weekly email to pastoral leadership. It’s quite good.

He gave me permission to post an article from the Jan. 8 edition. Call them ‘new year’s resolutions’ if you like, but what he said made me think as I enter into the new year.


With the New Year now a week old, how are you doing? Now, let me ask, what are you doing?

As I begin 2010, I have been asking myself, “What can I do better this year than I did last year?” Allow me to give you a little self-examination exercise:

1. Have you determined to get more physical activity this year than last? Just 20 minutes a day, four days a week, will do wonders for you.

2. Will you do anything about your eating habits? You really do not need to “crash diet” — but simply stay away from overeating sweets, starches, bread and red meat. Just “push away.”

3. Have you thought of ways you might be able to adjust your schedule for greater productivity? Pastors have told me lately that making the most of the mornings gives them the greatest advantage. From wake-up through lunch can be your most effective hours.

4. How well do you communicate? I really need to work on this one. “Say what you mean and mean what you say” is a very good credo. Try very hard not to leave people guessing.

5. Put some excitement in your life. Are you in a rut? Do you have variety in your day-to-day routine? There should be.Every day, if possible, you need to experience something new.

6. Quality time: I could really make all of us feel guilty on this one, but are you giving your family the attention they need? If not, schedule them in. Are you spending precious moments with your Lord? Same time, same place, on a regular basis is the very best practice. Give quality time to these two areas and you will reap great dividends.

Well, I just shared with you some gentle suggestions as we come to the close of the first week of the new decade. How are you doing so far? What can you do better? “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

You can get it for free here at

The 10 Most Important Questions You’ll ever Ask Yourself

Donald Whitney, a pastor and seminary professor, gave me permission to re-print this article. It is outstanding.

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Related posts: Making the Most of the Next 10 Years: a simple self-evaluation.

Copyright © 2003 Donald S. Whitney.

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