I mentioned last time that we need to protect our loved ones from vultures and from beasts . . . let me explain.
First, there are the twin vultures of alcohol and drugs. Many of us know family members and friends who have issues with "substance abuse." That is a term we use today to mean either the vulture of alcohol, or the vulture of drug addiction. Surveys reveal that when teens believe their parents or guardians will "not be very upset" if they use marijuana, they are three times more likely to use drugs than those who believe their parents will be "extremely upset." Other research points to the connection between use of alcohol and drug use. Some will argue whether or not use of marijuana "leads" to the use of stronger and more addicting drugs . . . but they are all substances with harmful effects on the bodies that God has blessed us with!
The National Institute on Drug Health notes that almost forty percent of the high school seniors in the United States will admit to researchers that they have used alcohol in the "past month" and almost twenty percent will admit to binge-drinking. Only 36% of these high school students think that use of marijuana puts them at risk for adverse effects. Let's turn that around . . . that means that about two out of three think it's no problem at all to use marijuana! In the ranks of adults, there has been a huge increase in the numbers of people addicted to heroin and other illicit drugs. Let's talk about the vulture of alcohol: over 70% of the people in the United States say they've drunk alcohol in the past year, and more than 88,000 deaths were alcohol related.
What are we doing to keep the vultures away from our kids? From our grandkids? From people in our churches? Our expectations as parents, as friends, as mentors to young Christians can make a huge difference. If we stay aware of these issues, and make our positions clear, we can help keep these vultures away. If we speak up, and we set rules, and we expect them to be obeyed, we can help keep the vultures away.
There is another beast that is after our families and our friends; it's the beast of immoral behavior. This scavenger can cause severe heartache and pain. As parents, we may hear our kids tell us that "everyone else is going to that party!" or "why do I HAVE to go to this church event?" Don't give in; it's way too important to keep that beast away from those we love.
Are you embarrassed when the friend you have been witnessing to pokes fun at you, because "every time the doors of that church are open, you're there!" and "no, I don't want to come to the Sunday School picnic with all those people I don't know!" Don't let it bother you; your job is to keep that beast away. Be involved; make sure that you are aware of what is happening and when. What time is the party over, and will there be adults there? Be a good example, too, of faithfulness and truth. Teens pick up on jokes that seem to say it's alright to be sexually active. Go ahead and be the parent or friend that shows how much you care -- by setting an example, and by setting rules.
Sooner or later, the beast of immorality and the vultures of alcohol and drugs will face our kids, and our friends. Are we in the struggle? Are we guarding our friends and our grandkids? Do we need to become more "hands on"? We can't let the television, or the school, or the local community group take our position of influence -- it's our responsibility. We must keep the vultures and beasts away, like Rizpah did.
We'll conclude our study of Rizpah next time.