Practical Tools to Help you Memorize Scripture

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All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15-16

Here we go, friends! This week we are embarking on a great adventure as we memorize Scripture together. Some of you have always wished you could do it while others have put it off for months. (or years?) Now you have made the commitment! I know you can do it.

Why do you think the discipline of memorizing Scripture is so difficult? Maybe because of that very thing-discipline. It is a good question to ask yourself in order to get past any mental hurdles that may try to get in your way the next few months as we memorize the book of Ephesians!

This week we begin with Ephesians 1:1-2. To boost your success I want to share some practical tools to help you memorize Scripture.

Scripture Typer App

The Scripture Typer App is a multi-sensory Scripture memory tool. It involves reading, writing, and most likely talking to yourself. You simply enter your verses and the Bible version of choice (I prefer ESV) and it sets you up for reminders and practice runs. I gave it a try last night. In spite of my son sitting next to me watching the Planes movie and singing loudly in my ear, I was able to master the verses in fifteen minutes.

The app feels like a game. You type in the first letter of each word as you read the verse. This is good repetitive practice as you familiarize yourself with the Scripture. The next level prompts you to fill in words and highlights what you miss. (Seeing your mistakes is a good memory builder!)

I tested my memory again this morning while in the waiting room of my doctor’s office. I got it down! It’s a fun way to practice this spiritual discipline in between all of those little down times you have in your day. Thanks for letting me know about this app, Michelle!

By the way, I timed myself because I knew once I set my mind to get down to business, it wouldn’t take too long. I will remind myself of this when I try to make the excuse of not having enough time!

Spiral Index Cards
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I have been carting around these spiral index cards since my college days. I often purchase several of them and pass them along to girls who want to know God’s Word well.

It’s simple-write your verse on the card and carry it with you in the car or prop it up at your desk. I like the brightly colored cards-because colors are motivators, too! Your small group can easily trade the cards to test each other.

You may choose to use the 3-4 colors in the spiral to categorize your memory verses. For instance, orange is for verses about courage and green is for verses about God’s character, etc.

Visual Reminders

Most of us are visual learners and we need visual reminders of our goals! Make a practice of writing your verse or the first letter of each word in the verse on a sticky note. Stick it on your mirror, your steering wheel, your cupboard, your coffee pot.

Another great use of the sticky note is to write the reason you are memorizing Scripture. When reminded of the value of something we are more likely to invest in it. Make your note short and personal, for example: “Bonnie, you want to speak God’s Word accurately in the last days!”

What memory tool works best for you? Leave a comment and let the rest of us know how you are doing. Be confident, sister and Keep Pressing On!

To stay up to date with the Ephesians Scripture Memory updates and encouragement be sure to fill out the email subscription on the right hand side of this page. **If you have signed up for emails and have not yet received them, please let me know so I can correct the glitch for you!

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Enjoy Great Spiritual Dividends when you Memorize Scripture this Year!

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The last few years God has been nudging me to make a practice of memorizing New Testament books. I talk about it-and I put it off. This is the year to make it happen! A few friends are joining me for accountability and help keep the momentum of memorization. Will you join us in this challenge?

Hiding God’s Word in your heart will always bear great comfort, fruit, confidence and growth. I also believe we need to be prepared to speak God’s Word at any moment of need, keeping in mind we may not always have access to the written Word!

So, here is the plan. We are beginning with the book of Ephesians and breaking it into a weekly schedule of memory verses. I will post each week’s assignment and as you memorize Scripture, I will encourage you with creative ways to memorize, as well as insights and questions to consider pertaining to God’s Word.

Please let me know if you are joining us in the challenge to hide God’s Word in your heart! Share your memorizing tricks, your struggles and the fruit you are sure to bear as we grow together.

January 2014 Ephesians Memory Schedule:

*January 2-7 Read entire book of Ephesians in one sitting
*January 7-14 Memorize Ephesians 1:1-2
*January 14-21 Memorize Ephesians 1:3-6
*January 21-28 Memorize Ephesians 1:7-10
*January 28-February 4 Catch up! This is your Catch-Up and Review week!

John Piper of Desiring God Foundation compiled some thoughts about why Scripture memory is important. To solidify your commitment this year of memorizing God’s Word, consider this,

“First, a few testimonies: I have it third hand, that Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Seminary once made the statement (and I paraphrase) that if it were his decision, every student graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary would be required to learn one thousand verses word perfect before they graduated.

Dallas Willard, professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, wrote, “Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization” (“Spiritual Formation in Christ for the Whole Life and Whole Person” in Vocatio, Vol. 12, no. 2, Spring, 2001, p. 7).

Chuck Swindoll wrote, “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified” (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], p. 61). ”

Are you taking the challenge with us? Be sure to sign up for email notifications so you can receive a weekly Scripture Memory schedule and words of encouragement to press on in Ephesians! Post a comment or send me a private message to let us know you are in!

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I prayed for you today

I love this picture! She is a beautiful girl who is hungry for God!


I prayed for you today;  my sisters, disciples, friends.

I always pray as the Lord reminds me of your name or burdens my heart about you. I have learned to pray for you whenever I think of you, knowing the reminder is a quickening from the Holy Spirit to pray on your behalf.

Sometimes I learn why He put you on my heart and it serves as a lesson how the Holy Spirit is intimately caring and working for us.

Today I am reminded to pray for  you more often, more deliberately. You are the girls God placed in my life over many years.

You are the Freshman I prayed with as you received Jesus. I was a Senior.

You are the girls I laughed with in youth group as we talked about serious things like boyfriends, parents, and trusting Jesus. You are the girls  I met with each week in your parents’ home. We sat in a circle and prayed and shared and laughed and studied our Bibles. I watched you serve your high school friends, grapple with your convictions in dance class, and make daring life choices for Jesus. You were in your teens and I was in my 20’s…and 30’s.

You are the girls I drink coffee with each Sunday morning, or the women who are raising a new generation of American youth.

You confided with me and entrusted your soft hearts to me. I still don’t take that lightly. God entrusts us with the task to pass along our faith, to rightly represent Him through His Word. He convicts me to point you to His sufficiency alone.

Your family pictures and Christmas cards portray beautiful images of women living faithful lives. You are teachers, students, missionaries, stay-at-home Moms. You are community leaders, youth leaders, investing in your church. You are serving at camps, serving the poor, and raising godly boys and girls.

Your lives display a deeply rooted faith and hungry, God-honoring hearts. My heart is filled-up thinking about you.  So, I followed the words of Paul and prayed for you today (Colossians 1:9-12) —

that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding

May you continue to grow in your knowledge of God, so you will be filled with His presence. He will teach you to be wise in all things and help you understand how to live and respond throughout your day.

The word continue reminds me we must never become stagnant in our relationship with God. How can we be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding if we are not in tune with the Lord?

Jesus, remind her today of her desperate need for You.

so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

We have talked a lot about this, haven’t we? Oh, may our lives be so filled with gratitude toward our Lord, that we walk in a manner worthy of Him! I pray your heart would long to please Him in every corner of your life.

Jesus, may she bear fruit in every good work, may she increase in her knowledge of You, and may You be honored today in her time, thoughts, work and worship.

strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience;

Jesus, You know what she is going through. Whatever financial, physical, or relational hardship she is facing, I claim Your strength upon her life. May she keep her mind fixed on You. You give strength when she feels weak and discouraged.

May she rely on Your power within to give her the ability to be steadfast and patient while You work all things out for her good.

joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Thank You, Father. YOU have qualified us –by Your mercy, You consider us Not Guilty. We are able to share in the inheritance “which belong to His people who live in the light” (NLT).

I pray You would set a passion in her soul. May her love for You grow deep and spill out in every fiber of life. I pray You would stir in each of us the desire to be a living sacrifice to You–whatever that looks like–whatever it takes–

(because) You delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of Your beloved Son, in whom we have redemption,

the forgiveness of sins. (!  Colossians 1:9-14)

Precious young woman, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you!

If you think this prayer is for you–you are right. You are in my heart, and I continue to take your name to the Throne.


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A woman of influence

Do those who influence our lives deliberately seek out to do so? So often we hear celebrities declare, “I don’t want to be your role model”.

The truth is, young people are watching, learning, being influenced by those positioned around them. Gratefully, in the raw years of my youth, I was surrounded by people who were aware of the influence they made.

I was sixteen, a new believer, standing in the pews among my high school friends. Challenged to sit in the front rows of our small but vibrant church, we were eager to do so. Sunday night worship was often open for testimonies and hymn requests. Different generations shouted out the page numbers to “It is Well with my Soul” and “How Great Thou Art”. I don’t believe I will ever forget the sound of humble voices singing passionately the words of the hymns.

“How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me?

Things so undeserved, yet You came to give Your life for me.

The voices of a million angels, cannot express my gratitude.

All that I am, and ever hope to be I owe it all to Thee.

To God be the Glory, To God be the Glory, To God be the Glory

For the things He has done….” (My Tribute)

Yesterday, I stood amongst this congregation again. Many faces and families have changed with age over the two decades I have been away. We came together to celebrate the life of a woman who lived her life well with Jesus.  I don’t recall specific conversations I did or didn’t have with Sheila Perlman. But, my sixteen year-old self recalls her voice ringing out above the rest as she sang, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul”. My young believer’s heart quietly prayed, “Jesus, I want to be that passionate for You. Help my heart sing these words in the trials of my life.”

Jesus has answered my heart’s prayer. I give credit to this older generation who embraced my formative young heart. I watched them humbly serve, I took mental notes of their public testimony to Christ’s love, and I followed in their examples.

Even in death, Sheila Perlman is a woman of influence, while her life speaks to me about leaving a legacy. As I read her obituary, it records decades of service to the Lord. Ministering to generation after generation; a life committed to passing on her faith. It is a testament of a life well lived. She served Jesus in humble quiet ways, like giving up her weekly paycheck to pay for others to have Bibles. She served Him in leadership roles. She served Him with humor and faithful living. In her 90’s, she delivered meals to the “elderly” and folded church bulletins each week.

People shared about Sheila’s selfless life, her commitment to praying for generations of individuals, her deep love for Jesus and her fresh gratitude for salvation. As I listened again to the words of “My Tribute”, my 48-year-old self prayed, “Lord, help me live with this same passion for You until my dieing day.”

I have a habit of writing my favorite quotes within the binding of my Bible. So, I was tickled to receive a handout with Sheila’s quotes from her own Bible. These quotes reflect the heart and drive of this godly woman.

  • What good am I if I can’t be a blessing to others?
  • God, fill me so completely with your Holy Spirit that even my reactions and sudden impulses are godly. I need this.
  • If you feed your faith your doubts will starve to death.
  • Our work is to cast care-God’s work is to take care (I Peter 5:7)
  • The little that we have, God can use.
  • I don’t fear what God brings into my life so much as I fear my response to it. Will I be faithful in tough situations?
  • Those who bless God in their trials will be blessed by God through their trials.
  • How will the knowledge of God affect my life this week?

Wow! The private words from a woman of influence. She lived what she believed.

Jesus, thank you from the depth of my heart, for spiritually parenting me with faithful saints. People who had no idea about the impact they made to a hungry heart and watching eyes.  Thank you for the life of Sheila Perlman. Oh, more of You, Lord Jesus, and less of me…so my life would cause others to thirst for You.


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The Wisdom Diaries-Opportunities

The Wisdom Diaries, by Justine, chronicles the heart of a 24-year-old,  whose soul purpose is to live life to the fullest measure,to serve God and bring Him glory.  She loves to learn, exercise in any and every way, travel, eat great food, cook, teach children, read, dance, watch movies, and be social!  Her heart is to share the love of Jesus with others and be used to ignite and grow a passion for Christ in young woman’s lives.

Dear King Jesus,

The word opportunity resounds over and over again in our every day life. I have found opportunity to be something that everyone craves.  Humans desire open doors to create new paths, the chance to meet the right people, and prospects to grow in success. Mostly, we desire to feel fulfilled and accomplished in all we’ve been created to be. We don’t want to miss out on what’s “out there.”

In a recent conversation I had with a friend, we discussed the ways You have been at work in our lives.  I was able to share how You are providing me with the opportunity to grow in my teaching by providing me a godly mentor, and perhaps the opportunity to be a part of a movement within the public school systems advocating for Your name.  My friend matter-of-factually pointed out, “Justine, you always seem to be finding great opportunities.”  Her words wedged within me as my brain started questioning, “Why is that?”

I believe so much of opportunity has to do with perspective.

 “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Winston Churchill

 Jesus, my friend’s words do not leave me. You certainly have blessed me with Your abundant life and opportunity, and I pray You receive the praise and glory for it.  But, I can’t just stop and believe You are only providing for me!  I know You love and want to bless all of Your children—you are a good Dad.  Your word promises all of Your children, not only an abundant life, but the MORE abundant life (John 10:10).

We choose to put on which lenses we will see the world through.  We can choose to see each moment as an opportunity—it is ultimately our decision.

If we seek after You with all our HEART I know you will be faithful to bless us with You. You are the ultimate opportunity in life!  You say in Jeremiah,

“If you seek me you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart.  I will be found by you declares the Lord…” 29:13-14

As children of the Most-High God we must ask ourselves a few questions if we don’t want to miss out on the plethora of opportunities provided to us.

  • Am I willing to listen and to seek opportunity?
  • Am I willing to open my ears to what people have to say?
  • What might God possibly be whispering to me through them?
  • Will I really listen?

My mother has been an exceptional model of this practice.  God has graced her with a heart that listens and eyes that see opportunity. Then she takes the risk to go after it.  She constantly shares her perspective with others—another key part of opportunity.

Being able to network and build relationships around hopes, dreams, and goals is how I’ve seen You provide opportunity after opportunity in practical ways.

Days come and go.  Time passes so quickly. If we don’t take time to slow down and be intentional then we are apt to miss opportunities.



Dear Jesus, allow me, by the Holy Spirit, to rely on You, the One who covers me in grace to properly view opportunity and act upon it.  It is You who will get me through to complete the opportunities You provide.  May I not rely on my own strength and work to search out and tackle opportunity, but rather keep my spirit humble and in reliance of You, so Your name will be exalted.


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The Wisdom Diaries for young women

Justine Leveille


Have you ever heard a group of women express their concerns about the younger generation?  They are right to have concern for the character, choices and future of the next generation of young women. These young women will influence culture. The next generation will grow a new generation of family values, or lack there of. They have the potential to carry the light of God’s Truth with conviction–or not.

But, let’s not get caught in the shaking of our heads with negative projections for these young people. There is an army of passionate young women who love Jesus and desire to follow Him with their whole heart. They are studying God’s Word, praying with their friends, and serving Him with love. They are asking gutsy questions about life and influencing their peers for Christ.

I’d like you to meet some of these young ladies. Listen to their hearts as they share their lives in the Wisdom Diaries. Pass their entries along to a young woman in your life.

First, I introduce to you, Justine Leveille.  I met her while serving at Breakaway, our church’s exciting Vacation Bible School.  Justine was always beaming with joy, laughing with girls, and hungry for the Lord. We began meeting for coffee and then for discipleship. She is full of love for Jesus and a desire to look like Him.

“I am a young lady in pursuit of all God has for me and am a firm believer in His promises.  I truly believe that if you seek God with your entire being, He will reveal Himself and His ways, in order that you may live a blessed life filled with His peace (Jeremiah 29:13-14).

I am a fifth grade teacher, living life in search of wisdom and looking for opportunities to serve the Lord and pour into others’ lives. I don’t know what the future holds, but as I trust in Him and His perfect ways, I can rest in the fact that He will guide me each day.”

Look for Justine’s Wisdom Diary entry at the end of this week. Feel free to leave her a note of encouragement.

What topics would you like these friends to share each month?


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We sat around the breakfast table, chowing on good food and drinking our favorite breakfast drinks. I love meeting with these young ladies. These 20-something girls are hungry for God and His Word. Their hunger is sobering to me. It keeps me reliant upon the Holy Spirit for God’s direction and His Words as I grow with these girls.

While we talk through the Scriptures, real-life questions emerge. I too, ask similar questions over the years as I walk with Jesus.

Does my life honor You?

Am I too comfortable in my life?

Does my life still honor You when I am comfortable and content?

Does my life really look like a true disciple?

No wonder these thoughts are on the minds of young women who desire to give their lives entirely to Jesus, as His disciple. Sometimes our flesh gets tangled in our questions and we privately add these thoughts:

Shouldn’t I be doing bigger or greater things for You?

Do I need a title or a position of status in order to really make an impact for the kingdom?

Am I Your disciple if I am not living on the mission field and risking my life for You?

We poured over the Scriptures to find answers to these nagging questions. What is God’s desire for us as Christ followers? There are so many verses to ponder.

We discovered that Paul was content in little and content in much; as He relied on the strength of God (Philippians 4:11-13):

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Then we were challenged by his yielded life (Galatians 2:20):

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”.

Lastly, I read a newly discovered prayer by John Wesley. His words date back from 1755, and are taken from the Puritan Richard Alleine. This is not exactly a new prayer, but it is new to me, and renewed in its ability to meet the passion of our hearts on this day:

“I am no longer my own, but Thine.
Put me to what Thou wilt,
rank me with whom Thou wilt;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for Thee or laid aside for Thee,
exalted for Thee or brought low for Thee;
let me be full,
let me be empty;
let me have all things,
let me have nothing;
I freely and heartily yield all things to Thy pleasure and disposal.”

This is the prayer of this Christ follower today.

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“Are you my mentor?”

“Are you my mother” the baby bird asks different animals from page to page.  I listened to my son read the Dr. Seuss book aloud, with its pages full of childhood wonder.  Every stage of my life I have had something to look forward to in the next stage.  With wonder, I looked forward to becoming a cheerleader, a high school student, my first boyfriend, going away to college, doing my part to help the world, and ultimately getting married and becoming a mommy.  Similar to the baby bird, I pursued role models as if to say, “Are you my mentor?”

With wonder, I watched the lives of godly men and women and I valued their input in my life.  I became a note-taker.  Literally taking notes in the blank pages of my bible, journals and scrapbooks, I wrote about the way they loved their spouses, the way they treated their children, and the way they loved Jesus with their lives.

I took mental notes, too.  Mental notes about parenting, discipline, faithful husbands, and godly moms.  I mentally jotted how they shared conversation around the table, required integrity in their ministry, and balanced their lives.  Thanks to the deliberate teaching of those who purposed to build into me, as well as the teaching I “caught” from observing these godly lives, these notes have paid off through the seasons of my life.

I can’t help but lament the lack of notes I have taken for this mid-life season.   I have so many questions about the empty nest, becoming a mother-in law, and a grandmother.  Are you my mentor?

My sons have not yet entered the dating phase of life, but I’ve been searching for a role model who can pass on her wisdom about being a great mother-in-law.  I’ve been on the look-out for years.  I have a few mental notes about “how not to be a mother-in-law”, but I’m still looking for the “how-to”.

Do I have more to look forward to in my senior years than the empty nest, osteoporosis and dentures?  Please show me!

Are you my mentor?

Calling all emotionally healthy and godly women!  There is a generation who wants to learn from you!  We don’t expect perfection and scholarly advice; we want to learn from your mistakes, your heartaches, your trials.  Are you willing to let us in on your great tools for adjusting to a changing family life?  Will you tell stories about how you try to strike a healthy balance with your adult children?   Will you tell us how you feel and how you wrestle with your changing roles?

If you are still trying to figure it all out, that’s okay.  We want to hear that, too.

If you have a wonderful “mid-life” mentor, tell us some stories!

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The pleasures of a VBS volunteer!

Our son as a VBS volunteer

Psalm 34:11  “Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”

My barely awake boy raised his hand in the air to stop me from coming any closer to his bed.  It is my routine to wake him each morning from his summer slumber in order to drive to early swim practice.  This morning, he was in the middle of a dream which was too good to interrupt.  I am certain as the sun pushed its way through his window, he was adding his own conscious ideas to this dream.

He eventually rolled out of bed in time for practice.  When I asked him what he was dreaming about he answered, “Breakaway!”  Breakaway is our over-the-top, immensely creative, musical and exciting Vacation Bible School!  It not only draws kids from our church body, but from all corners of the city.

After attending VBS since his earliest years of life, this would be the second year our 8th grade son served as a volunteer.  He was eagerly anticipating great things.  Thoughts of Breakaway have been in his dreams and his conversation.  Likewise, conversations with my soon to be high school sophomore son were similar, “I can’t wait for Breakaway”.

A moment of calm before Breakaway begins 2010

We began serving our first of three summer sessions yesterday morning.  Volunteers gathered early for group devotions and take their positions of service.  Security and first aid volunteers stood on the ready for our kids’ safety, and then the flood of young people rushed in.

As the first morning came to a close, I stood in my favorite spot in the sanctuary.  From the back of the crowd as the young worship team leads the hundreds of kids in praise songs, a sea of hands and bodies begin swaying.  Tiny little bodies, maturing 5th graders, and high school volunteers all shout the words, “We are the ones who are free”!  The joy fills up the room and the tears run down my face.  This is a new generation; soaking in the Word of God, grasping what it means to walk with Jesus in their daily lives, and loving every moment of it!

I walked behind a sixth grade boy as we exited the sanctuary.  His t-shirt was wet from the recreation and his face was painted by his peers in art.  He told his Mom as they walked with the crowd, “I wish Breakaway lasted all month!”

During this crazy 2 weeks of Breakaway, my goal is to post something small and valuable from our day.  I know so many of you are serving at VBS or have your kids attending throughout the U.S.  Will you tell us about the pleasures of your VBS experience?

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The big picture: alcohol, role models and me

Twelve years old and running free; I was a preteen, just beginning to formulate my thoughts about life, the world and who I would become.  I spent most of my free time hanging out with friends, and one friend in particular whose mom spent a lot of time hanging out with us.  She was cool, available to listen, and she introduced me to Miller beer.  As I look at the bigger picture in hindsight, she was depressed, an alcoholic, and her daughters were following along in her footsteps.

A larger percentage of American parents are providing their teens with alcohol.  “Half of Australian adults and 63 per cent of Australians on a higher income believe 15 to 17-year-olds should be allowed to consume alcohol under parental supervision at home, according to the latest MBF Healthwatch survey.”  Science Daily* (links provided at bottom of post)

 Studies show teens who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin drinking at 21.Alcoholism is the leading cause of death in teens.  It contributes to drunk driving, date rape and violence. Teens today are reporting they are drinking to relieve stress.*  (Does that sound familiar?)

Educators, healthcare professionals and parents are always discussing what we can do to address this crisis of youth at risk.  But there’s one part of the discussion that isn’t easy to bring to the table.

Part of the big picture: our subtle messages

Recently I volunteered with a group of moms to coordinate a lunch for our high school students on campus.  A suggestion was made to make virgin alcoholic drinks for the students.  The moms were in agreement over the idea.  But I was the stick in the mud.  I was concerned with the big picture.  What message are we sending kids if we cannot even have a school lunch without considering an alcoholic drink-virgin or not?  “Here’s your cocktail, Jake.  I know it’s just a virgin drink, but when you are older you will be able to have real fun and drink like a real man.  By the way, don’t drink at Prom”.

There is a growing trend in our culture-it is also growing in the body of Christ-to have an alcoholic beverage with every social event, every restaurant visit, every game on television, every Friday night, every barbecue, and even while visiting our friends during kid’s playgroup.  Now before you get defensive, I am not about to condemn you.  I am not going to tell you alcohol is evil.  I don’t think it is.  But I am asking you to weigh the decision of the measure of alcohol you welcome.  Consider its power and message in your life.

The bigger picture:  You are being watched

You may have great discussions with your kids about drinking responsibly.  But if you are one of the many adults who say “Hoot! Hoot! It’s margarita time”, you are sending a message to your kids.  Your actions speak louder than your words.  Every time you are with your peers are you “Hoot! Hooting!” about the drinks that will be with you?  Every time you have a social event or go out for a fantastic dinner-must the alcohol be front and center?

Our behavior is a powerful teacher.  It speaks messages without words.

In essence our behavior is saying, “If you want to have a good time, good friends, and good dinner, alcohol must be part of it”.  And our kids-who can’t wait to be adults-learn they really can’t have a good time without it.  It doesn’t matter what you say about it, your actions are speaking volumes.

You may be saying, “Oh brother, Bonnie” or something worse by now.  But consider it.  Do you or do you not believe in the unspoken messages of powerful role models?

Kids sneak alcoholic drinks for many reasons.  Will you consider one of the reasons is the message we portray, “In order to have a good time, you need a drink”?  Why wouldn’t they want to be drinking as teens?  Our actions say its what people do when they get together with friends, and without it they are depriving themselves.

The bigger picture:  You have a weaker brother

We have a society filled with recovering alcoholics, addictive behaviors, families hanging by a thread due to alcoholism and broken hearts who have lost loved ones to drunk drivers.  These individuals exist in your family, your work place, your neighborhood, your church.  Do you know who they are?  You may know some by name, but you likely have no clue how many more wounded people are in your life.

We don’t know who might be one drink away from becoming an alcoholic.  We don’t know who has been devastated by alcohol.  But the Holy Spirit does. He knows every one of their names and He has the bigger picture in mind.  It’s why Paul says, “If I can thank God for my food and enjoy it, then why let someone spoil it just because he thinks I am wrong?  Well, I will tell you why.  It is because you must do everything for the glory of God.  Even your eating and drinking.  So don’t be a stumbling block to anyone, whether they are Jews or Gentiles or Christians.  That is the plan I follow too, not doing what I like or what is right for me, but what is right for them­. so that they can be saved”. (I Corinthians 10:30-33)

Have a discussion with the One who knows the bigger picture

My decision to drink or not to drink should not influence your decision.  It is up to each one of us to sit quietly with Jesus and listen to His direction.  The problem is, I don’t think we do.  If each of us were listening to His direction, I hold the opinion that less of the body of Christ would be drinking as liberally as we do.

As you listen, He will tell some of you to go ahead and have a social drink.  He will tell some of you to use more discretion.  He will tell others to stop drinking all together.  As a follower of Jesus and not of the world, will you ask Jesus to clearly tell you what He wants you to do?

Is there a weaker brother I need to consider?  God may not tell you the name, but He may whisper to you, “Yes”.

Am I being a stumbling block to anyone?  Ask God if your social drinking is causing anyone–of any age–to stumble.

Am I relying upon drinking instead of relying upon You?  Invite God to search your heart.  Do you rely on a drink to relax you, loosen you up socially, or to fit in, more than you rely upon Him?  Then it has become an idol.  (I gave up Coca-Cola when I realized I made it an idol.)

It is the season for proms and graduations.  Saturday I will serve my shift for Sober Grad Night until 1:30 a.m., another shift of parents will volunteer until 4:30 a.m.  I don’t know what my little picture job is for the night, but my big picture job is to do my part to protect and raise a culture of mentally, socially, spiritually, physically healthy kids.

Sometimes the big picture compels me to give up my sleep (1:30 isn’t easy these days).   The big picture compels me to give up “what I like and what is right for me”.  It’s part of being a disciple and that big picture job is to be salt in this culture.

P.S. If you want to look deeper, here are some sites and verses to check out:

Many parents encourage underage drinking, Australian study finds This article talks about teen alcohol consumption and its effects on brain development

Teenage Drinking Statistics and Information.  This site includes practical ways for parents to communicate with their children regarding alcohol.

Ephesians 5:15-21 – Passage Lookup – New International Version –

1 Peter 2:16-17 – Passage Lookup – New International Version – we misuse our “freedom” in Christ.  We need to check our hearts with this one.  See also 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – Passage Lookup – New International Version –

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