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Are You A Bar Hopper?
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I know this is a rather unusual title for a sermon. I do see a similarity between bar hoppers and some Christians. I am not referring to consumption of alcohol, though some might imbibe, but rather in their choices of establishments and other desires.

In fact, I am reminded of a story where the town barkeep willed his parrot to the Baptist preacher. The preacher was a bit astounded and kept the bird at home for awhile. When he realized that bird had no nasty habits or bad language, he decided to put his perch in the church foyer so the kids could enjoy him. The first Sunday he was perched in the foyer the preacher noticed the bird was shaking his head and was saying something as the congregation entered. He got closer and heard him say, "Bawk, same old crowd! Bawk, same old crowd!" Does your church have the same kind of crowd? Let's see.

Acts 17:21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) (KJV)

Some folks pick their churches and bars for the babble or blab. They are going to hear some new thing or tell it. If they do not hear some juicy gossip, they will invent some. They long for some new theology or mystical feeling. Yes, even in bars there are theological premises being aired. Most of it is bad theology, but I have heard some really good theology come out of men half drunk or completely drunk because they are going back to what they learned as a child or turned from as an adult. If nothing new is shaking at the bar or the church, they search out a new watering hole.

Rom 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. (KJV)

Some go to the bar or church to boast. They love to tell how righteous they are and yes, now days something found to be good or acceptable is called righteous even if it is sinful so bar hoppers can boast of their righteousness or be called righteous by their peers. They strive to be sure that everyone knows their good deeds. Some are slick and just "confide" in the loud mouth of the bar or church and he/she will get the ball rolling to open up the subject for the boaster by telling folks one by one or hollerin', "Hey, y'all listen to what ole Billy Bob done!"

The boaster will respond to someone's praise with something like "Aw, shucks, t'weren't nuttin" and then spend two hours giving you the blow by blow of the thing that "t'weren't nuttin'" making you praise him even more and asking for other tales. When the boaster has told all his tales or the attention level is not what they desire they move on to the next bar or church.

Is it not wonderful, that God has taken away human boasting in Christianity? While we may have to deal with it here on earth, we will not have it in Heaven. The only bragging or boasting going on there will be the saints boasting on all the things Jesus did for us. Why not get a head start and begin to boast on Him here instead of yourself? You will be right and folks will like hanging out with you more as well!

Matt 21:12-13 12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (KJV)

Some attend church and bars for the bartering. You barely meet them and they stuff a business card in your hand. Bars and churches make good networking places. Hey, would you rather do business with a stranger or a drinking or prayer buddy? Some lads have a regular bar circuit so they can keep up with the changing crowd. Some professing Christians are Presbyterian one year; Methodist the next and when they get the rich folks taken care of they will come and slum with the Baptists.

Now hear me correctly, it is a good thing if you have good Christian businessmen in your church. They most likely will give you a better deal or at least an honest one. However, check their spiritual life before you buy. If their attendance is spotty and whenever you talk to them you hear more about ABC, Inc. than about what God has been doing in their life you may just want to pass them by as someone just there for the bartering.

1 Cor 3:4-5 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? (KJV)

Some choose a bar or church for the bartender or bishop. They like the way he looks and handles himself. He might even be famous in certain circles or even nationally or worldwide. They may appreciate the way he performs when mixing drinks or mincing words. Maybe he always has an ear for them and says just the right things. Why, he even agrees with everything they say and always shakes their hands with a smile. They love to say that they hang out at the bar or church where he is. It gives them a bit of respect from all that they tell.

Ah, but let a bigger name appear on the barroom grapevine or church sign and off they go. They forget all about the other guy and now seek to rub elbows with the new guy and achieve more notoriety. Ah, my Brethren let it be such for the bar hopper, but it should not be so with the Christian. Are ye not carnal by being such respecters of persons? Your Lord is not that way!

Col 3:16 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (KJV)

Some are more desirous of hearing a good band at the bar or church. They will put up with an ugly preacher and bad preaching, but there better be good music. You can water down the whiskey and the sermon as long as the music is good as well as good and loud! These folks know exactly which bands are playing where and their faithfulness to their home church or watering hole is only as strong as the itinerary of their favorite bands. Do not ask them to commit to being anywhere regularly. They have to check the band schedule. My friends, while good spiritual music is biblical, there is no mandate for a groupie mentality. As in all things, balance is the key.

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. (KJV)

Still more people show up at the bar or church for the buffet! On Monday's one place has $1 longnecks and free hot dogs. On Tuesday's it's $1a shot and pizza. On Wednesday, it's Ladies night with no cover charge for unescorted ladies and a salad bar, etc. This Sunday, First Baptist is having Homecoming and they always have a good spread. Next Monday, First Methodist is having their spaghetti supper and next Sunday, Second Baptist is having dinner on the grounds and so on.

Want to get folks to go on Visitation? Give them free or cheap supper before they go and have ice cream for desert when they get back. Want to have a high attendance Sunday, jist have a dinner on the grounds. You will note the bars have their best buffets during the week when business is slow. At least, the bar will get more booze sales than normal. At a church supper, you will usually get a lot more folks, but very little offering. If you make them pay enough to cover costs for the meal, you will at least break even.

Don't feel bad, folks thought Jesus was a heaven sent buffet line as well. When He cut off the food, His numbers went down. The same will happen to you. Like Him, you may attract at least a few good folks that will stick around to help you clean up and then stay to minister. The rest you need to let go anyway for all they will do is complain about the corn being cold or you did not have the right desert or blame you for their heartburn.

1Thes 4:3-7 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. (KJV)

One last group that relates to bar hoppers and churchgoers are the ones who go in search of the booty or body. Both men and women hop from bar to bar to find the babes and the hunks for a one nightstand or a relationship. It is not so much as where they are but who is there that is important. They are good fishermen and come out decked in their best clothes and demeanor to see what they can hook and sometimes they both end up suckers instead of keepers.

It happens at church as well. Yes, if you are single, it is good to be looking for a Christian mate, but be careful what you use as bait. If you put a lot of stock on looks and dress like the folks in the bar, you will only hook those who care about your body. Let the Lord lead and allow Him to bring you a mate through the beauty of the Spirit working in your spirit and you will bring home a trophy that will be with you for life. Remember not all that talk the talk walk the walk and just because you visited a new church and found the dream person you best beware! Jude warns us of folks who are spots in the feast and do not have the Spirit. (Jude 12,19) You can forget about missionary dating. The devil planned that program and more of God's children end up in a hellish life than the devil's children being born again.

Now, if you do not want to be a church hopping Christian and shed the characteristics of the bar hopper you need better reasons for coming to church. Better reasons will keep you stable for many seasons and not just in membership alone.

You need to come to church because of the blood. After all, it was the blood of Christ that bought you. You are not your own. You need be grateful for that blood and come to worship the One that paid your sin debt. (1 Cor 16:19,20)

You need to come to church because of the Bible. Not only is the assembling of yourselves together a commandment, but you need to be where the Word is preached faithfully to help you grow as a Christian. (Heb 10:25)

You need to come to church because of the brotherhood. Every service should be a glad reunion of the family of God that brings us closer to Him and each other. How else can we love one another and pray for one another if we are not together? How can we know the joys of rejoicing and weeping with one another when we stay at home or somewhere else apart from the family? (Eph 3:14-19)

Finally, we must be faithful and come to church because of the benefit. Don't get excited, the benefit of others, not ourselves is the goal. Look at Hebrews 10:25 again. We are to exhort or encourage one another. In these days, that appear to be the last days, we need to do this "so much more so" not less. Close family can encourage you much better than strangers or acquaintances can, so stop your church hopping and become close to a group of saints and brethren. As you encourage them, you will also receive a benefit of encouragement and love. We are just not to make that our motivation. It is more blessed to give than to receive, but praise the Lord, we shall receive.

If a bar hopper is reading this, you are not going to find what you are searching for in the bar. What you need is belief. You need to believe that you are a sinner and that Jesus died and rose again for your sin. You've been lookin' for love in all the wrong places and faces. Come to the Cross and look into the face of the One who loves you more than you can comprehend. Receive that love and you will not have to bar hop again. You will have all you need in Him. Won't you come to Him now?

Cowboy Up!

Be very careful what you say or do
Or some committee will be coming after you.
I'm tired of folks whining like a hungry pup.
Come on America, it's time to Cowboy Up!

Our ancestors came to a rough, untamed land
And faced their hardships like a woman and a man.
We once matured into gentlemen and ladies.
Now, we're raising spoiled, crying babies.

When times got rough, we took it on the chin.
Now, we want someone to blame and a lawyer who can win.
Groups abound so we are quickly defended
When we lack back bone and are so easily offended!

When a rider's been thrown and he starts to feel down.
His pardners say, "Cowboy Up!" to bring him back around.
There are too many lazy folks rattling their cup.
Come on, America, it's time to Cowboy Up!

We surely have our problems and we so easily sin,
But nothing will change unless we all chip in.
One day there will be no table at which you can sup
Unless Americans quit their cryin' and COWBOY UP!

Oct 1, 1994

 
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