Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Finished Product of the Brewers Art

Sometimes we are so close to the forrest that we cannot see the trees. Advertisers for alcoholic beverages have become so common place that we scarcely even give them a second look. Consequently, the drip, drip, dripping of something more harsh than water, has worn the way the stone of our constitution and resolve to the point of acceptability. In the days of prohibition, anything regarding the usage of alcohol garnered immediate attention. However, today the banners of these toxic juices are splayed on billboards, in the LED lighting of sports arenas, and as headliners at everything from rodeo's to rock concerts. What's more, there is so much money involved that beer producers have become the major sponsor of most national athletic events. Often people applaud all their money buys in a positive light, while choosing to overlook all the havoc their product produces behind the scenes.

We hardly even wince when everything from imported wines, to hard liquor is promoted on TV. The enticement to come to the high enjoy the piped right into our living rooms with such regularity that it has dulled the senses. The advertisers want you to believe that if you are cool you drink. That a vacation is not a vacation without drinking. That happiness and joy at all sorts of gatherings centers completely on having drinks. Elegant women in evening attire are shown sipping a crystal glass of champagne. Rugged outdoors men toss one another a cold beer. Cowboys and athletes are represented as finding their being through drinking alcohol. One beverage advertises as, "The finest product of the brewers art."

Let me give to you the real story. I can tell you from several perspectives. First, we all should be smart enough to know that Satan always puts the pretty stuff on his 'billboard'. He will never show you what really happens or he would be out of business tomorrow. It is his sly deceit that has kept him in business since his fall from heaven. For all you people that come around with, "Well a little beer here and there won't hurt you....or I don't think it's wrong to just have one now and then".....let me please reason with you. The sad endings that I am about to tell you of are the result of someone taking their first drink. Whatever the sordid outcome, it began with the first drink!

As a chaplain with the Arkansas State Police for 10 years, I have seen my share of accidents. My job was to make fatality notifications to the families of those who died on the highways. While there were many that did not involve alcohol, there were very many that did. Drunk driving kills thousands of innocent people each year. I remember one of my first calls involving alcohol. I helped load up three teenagers who were still laying on the highway when I arrived at the scene. They had been to a party and were on the way home when alcohol reaped its reward. I especially recall zipping the lifeless form of a young girl into a body bag. I was so upset by it that my legs literally were jerking. Her eyes were looking right at me when we closed the bag and loaded her. A small river of blood was still running across the road toward the corpse of one of her peers. Many other similar scenes of death were wreaking with the smells of alcohol. Oh yes, this is the high life!

I am recalling a most beautiful girl. She was the valedictorian of her high school class. Her brilliance had earned her a scholarship to college and a very promising future. She could set the limits. She could make as much money as she wanted. But sadly, the college scene and the peer pressure to be in the social drinking society changed how high she would truly soar in life. The demon of alcoholism took root in her soul. The first drink led to the next and the next and the next until...well, until I received her into the prep room of the funeral home I worked for. The culprit of her death? End-stage cirrosis of the liver. She was an emaciated shell of the beauty she had been..only her abdomen was strutted due to the self-inflicted disease. Her face would have been an advertisement for hell with its grotesque look of gaunt eyes and bloody teeth. Oh yes advertisers...this is where the fun is!

Sadly within my own family this horrid vice of alcoholism has taken its toll. A family member was an amazing farmer and positioned to pass on a wealthy legacy to his family. That is until the clutches of the drink wrapped around the neck of a great person...turning him into one who didn't care anymore. The clutches kept taking, until it took the farm, the future, the legacy and the wealth. Broke and almost destitute this person had to start over again from the bottom. Oh life without the brewskis!!

I remember some of my own friends who were hit head-on by a drunk driver. I drove up on the scene just after they had to airlift my friend and transport their children by ambulance. One of the children was literally scalped. Another had busted through his locked seatbelt on impact. The mother had multiple broken bones including a compound fracture of the arm and her pelvis broken into 7 pieces. The drunk was dead and was literally surrounded by more than 90 beer cans that flew out of his truck. Only his broken leg stuck up out of the wreckage as his broken soul went into the captivity of hell! Oh...did you want another drink cool guy? How 'bout it sexy lady? Come on....let's party!

How about the one of the dad who wound up molesting his own flesh and blood due to the influence of the drink. Or what about the girl who became a prostitute to support her habit of alcohol? She couldn't hold a job because of the drink, and she couldn't live without it, so she sold her own body to supply her damning habit. What about the athlete who lost his place on the team? Or what about the young person who didn't wake up the night of the party? What about the accident that took innocent lives? What about the man who threw himself overboard on the cruise that was supposed to be fun and relaxing? Oh....yes.....isn't this the fun of drinking? Come that ad one more time. I love the tune....look at the smiles.....look how cool the people are! Isn't that how you will look? Please......!

When the advertisers tell you to "Taste Greatness!" or "Welcome to Miller Time!" or "The King of Beers!" You'd better think again. They are tools of Satan...playing a jingle that is leading many innocent people to the slaughter.

The stories are endless concerning the demise, the failure, the fights, the suicides, the loss and pain, the broken hearts and homes, the crime, disease, and hellish sins that have been committed at the hands of the brewers of whiskey, wine, beer and other strong drinks. The next time you see an advertisement of an alcoholic drink, take a moment to think about what is behind the billboard. While on the front they all look beautiful and healthy.....smiling with friends, remember that many times on the other side of the billboard is someone with an unwanted pregnancy, another who just beat up his own mother, another who woke up in jail with his own vomit dried in his hair, and another who didn't wake up at least in this life. The next life is no relief either. For the Word of God says that drunkards will be eternally lost! A second hell awaits those who fall victim to the drug of alcohol. These are not the 'finest' product of the brewers art...but the 'finished' product of the brewers art.

Parents, please talk with your kids about this. Pastors, please speak clearly on the subject. Grandparents, tell it like it is. Don't play around with alcohol. Don't cover up the ugliness of its final result. Don't be caught in its web. Rise above it and reveal the wicked monster that it really is. Together we can save lives...and souls.

Tim Estes

Friday, March 12, 2010

American Role Models

Today I arranged two end of life memorial services for American hero's. I did not know either one of the two people for whom I worked to honor their lives, but there is no doubt that their passing represents the incredible moral values that are passing from this generation. The two deceased are not related, of opposite sex, lived in different places, and yet they are related in the sense of what they did helped to make America great a few decades ago. Tom Brokaw called them the "Greatest Generation."

The lady I speak of was 92 years old when she drew her last breath yesterday. When I asked her only daughter to describe the occupation that best described her mother's work she said without reservation, "She was a homemaker." You don't hear much about homemaker's these days. There just seems to be no glory in it. It is too far from the glitz, the glamour, the soap-opera scene to attract the modern lady. Homemaker's smell like washing powder and baby burp. They spend their days in the unsung heroic tasks of paying bills, keeping house, rearing children, washing clothes and taking pride in a home that is run with order and efficiency. The daughter of the deceased lady spoke how her mother always had a treat for her when she arrived home from school. The smell of popcorn filled the air and often the baby dolls were lined up a for a tea-party with mother and daughter. I kept pushing tissues across the desk for the dear lady to wipe the tears of love that continually flowed down her face. It was obvious her heart was full of the right kind of things. The things that every lady should desire to leave behind....and no I'm not talking about some fancy career, or tons of money, or awards for beauty contests won. I'm talking about leaving behind a legacy of love and of focusing on the home, that awesome place designed by God to be the seedbed of greatness for a nation that will honor their God-given roles.

This morning I was called to remove the body of a man who had passed away in his home. When I arrived, I realized it was the father in law of a childhood friend of mine. After some talk outside, we moved from the cold and went inside the residence. It was there I discovered the greatness of the man who had passed. There in the living room, surrounded by his daughters and room full of love, the old gentleman had simply appeared to have fallen asleep and transitioned to that place only the dead can know. Standing in the room I suddenly noticed a display case lined with medals of a soldier. I soon discovered this was one of the few remaining World War II veterans. I love those men. Many of them had to quit school to go to work and help make a living for the family. Such was the case with this gentleman. The sixth grade was as far as his formal education would take him....just like my own grandfather, also a WWII vet. This dear man had received a bronze star and a purple heart for the shrapnel he had taken in his back and neck. He had fought during that awful battle known as the Battle of the Bulge. If you haven't read of it lately, please take time to research it. The old man's feet were in bad shape....and had been since they had frozen during the war. The family told that he could hardly talk about all he had seen without crying. In his pocket was a coin, a silver doller, that he wanted to buy from a private during the war. The private wouldn't sell it to him, but instead gave it to him. The private died in the next battle. This old soldier carried that coin every day until the day he died. It was worn slick. They will bury it with him in a couple of days. Within the heart of men like this one is a hero. They live in meager conditions and expect nothing after laying it all on the line. This sort of thing...this decency...self-sacrificing spirit is going to the grave with this generation. Today, young people are rebellious and often disrespectful. It is more about themselves than serving others.

Today was a special day...a sad day...a day of honor. It was a day I helped prepared two American Role Models for their journey home. I hope we can all learn from them and be better models to those watching us. God bless America!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Religious Bologna

The older I get the more I detest religion. I mean really! The very organizations that are purported to propagate the gospel wind up being the thing that at least becomes a stumbling block, and at worst totally drives people away from a relationship with God.

Religion is sickening for many reasons. Mostly because it is a device to measure...who's bigger, who's better, who's more spiritual, who's the strongest, who's holiest etc. The fact is none of the devices work. Religious people wind up making themselves smaller and invaluable to the real purposes of God, because God seems to be little interested in man's way of doing things.

In religious circles we find politics of positions. Under the guise of being humble or spiritual we subtly climb religious ladders to assume positions of men. We like them too! The heartier the pat on the back, the more we purr with our pseudo humility.

The bias of religion is painful. Although we are supposed to love all men, we wind up loving those who meet our criteria, who play our flavor of music, who preach our candy-stick sermons and doctrines. In the mix of religion, many walk away from a would be experience with God due to our religion.

Religion is the chief source of hypocrites. If we wouldn't be so concerned with our man-made boundaries, we could focus more on just being real and living openly...even admitting our shortcomings for the purpose of working on them and getting better. But way! We hide behind our masks of righteousness while we rot inside. There is no place of accountability so religion becomes chiefly responsible for our spiritual abscesses.

Jesus was constantly fighting religion. The Pharisees, neath the cloak of righteousness, were called what they really were by God in flesh. He wasn't the least bit impressed with their traditions or their masquerades. Jesus was much kinder to those who admitted their failure and lack. "Lord be merciful to me a sinner" meets God's approval much faster than, "Look how much I pray, give, serve, etc."

Religion has become a place of competition in our cities. Ministerial Alliances and para-church organizations spend valuable time debating their opinions and flavors. Much energy is wasted tippy toeing around personalities, and the big man on the that the up and coming church, or a church connected to employment or a church connected to a place of higher learning. To prevent 'offending' the wrong people, the work of God....I mean the real, down to earth work of God gets placed on a shelf. Religion is always more concerned about what 'they' think than what 'He' thinks.

May religion die...and the simple Christ-exalting gospel of Jesus Christ take it's rightful place.