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Southern Missionary Baptist  Church Southern Missionary Baptist Church

A Spirit Led And Bible Based Church A Spirit Led And Bible Based Church

  • Our Church

    Southern Missionary Baptist Church
    921 Bissell St., P.O. Box 38 Map
    Madison, IL 62060
    Phone: 618-877-1305, Fax:618-688-4351, Pastor's Home Ph. 618-235-8299

    · Southern Missionary Baptist Church
    · Statement of Beliefs
    · Church History

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    Sunday School: 9:30 a.m.

    Sunday Worship : 10:45 a.m.

    Children's Church Is Open During Sunday Worship

    Prayer Meeting:  Tuesday 7:00 p.m.

    Bible Study: Tuesday 7:00 p.m.









    10:45 A.M. Central Time


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    We would like to welcome you to the Southern Missionary Baptist Church of Madison, Illinois.  We are a church with a warm heart and where no one is considered a stranger.  We believe in following the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who exemplified love for all.  We believe in being led by the Holy Spirit in all that we do, praising God and giving Him the glory for His grace and mercy.  Here, at Southern, you will be greeted with open arms and you are invited to praise God with us.  Our Sunday and Bible Study is designed for all ages, with excellent teachers who exited about teaching and ready to answer your questions.  We have a mandate to win souls to Christ.  So if you're looking for a Spirit Led and Bible Based Church, come visit us.


    Pastor Sherrell and First Lady Mauristine Byrd







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      For those who wish to send their Offerings and Tithes, You may mail them to Deacon Terryl Curry, Sr. or Sis. Mary Trice.  Or you may mail them to the church address: Southern Baptist Church, 921 Bissell St. P.O. Box 38, Madison, IL 62020.  Or use our CashApp: $9446Church.


      Yours In Christ,

      Pastor Sherrell L. Byrd, Jr.


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      Scripture text: 2 Peter Chapter 2 (King James Bible)

      The Bible consistently warns us of the dangers of false teachers. And today it seems like they are coming out of the woodwork. They appear righteous and use words that inspire and cause many to gravitate to them. They promise blessings and healings, but never warning and messages of avoidance. They promise prosperity. They never mention Hell! People who don’t know the Word of God are easy prey and easy pickings to these spiritual predators. Southern, know the Word for yourselves before you get caught up.


      A. Facts about false teachers.

      1. (1) The presence and work of false teachers.

      1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      a. But there were also false prophets: Even as there were holy men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), so also there were false prophets and false teachers then and today. Peter stated this as a fact and not as a possibility; and he said they were among you, not only on the outside of the church.  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. “There were not only holy men of God among the Jews, who prophesied by divine inspiration, but there were also false prophets, whose prophecies were from their own imagination, and perverted many.” (Clarke) ___________________________________________________________________________


      b. Who will secretly bring in destructive heresies: False teachers work secretly. It isn’t that their teaching is secret, but the deceptive nature of their teaching is hidden. No false teacher ever announces himself as a false teacher.  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      c. Destructive heresies: False teachers bring in destructive heresies that destroy by telling lies about Jesus Christ and His work for us and in us. By these heresies people are hurt and destroyed. Heresy isn’t harmless.  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      d. Even denying the Lord who bought them: False teachers deny the Lord who bought them. In this Peter says that at the very least, they appear to be saved. Otherwise Peter would never say that the Lord bought them. At the same time, they are false, destructive teachers. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. Even a person who has what appears to be a godly walk and relationship with Jesus Christ can still bring in destructive heresies. Often times good men who teach lies do the worst damage. Their lies are accepted far more easily because of the good character of these men.  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      e. Bring on themselves swift destruction: False teachers are promised swift destruction, even though they aren’t judged fast enough in the opinion of many.  ___________________________________________________________________________


      2. (2) The popularity of false teachers. 

      2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of



      a. Many will follow their pernicious (destructive) ways: This reminds us that false teachers may be popular. Just because something succeeds in attracting a crowd of followers, it doesn’t mean that it is of God. We know that God’s work will always bear fruit, but the devil’s work can also increase.  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. The most distressing aspect of the work of false teachers is not that they are among you (2 Peter 2:1). False teachers always have been and always will be among Christians. The most distressing fact is that so many Christians will follow their destructive ways. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      b. Because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed: When false teachers are at work and when crowds are following them, the way of truth is blasphemed. God’s holy name and honor are disgraced. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      3. (3) The strategy and destiny of false teachers.

      3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not..  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      a. By covetousness: False teachers use covetousness – both their own and in their followers. Many false teachers, both today and in previous times, present a gospel that has self-gratification at its core. All this is presented with deceptive words because false teaching never announces itself. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      b. Their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber: Peter assured us that false teachers will be judged. Even though it seems they prosper, their judgment is not idle. God’s wrath pours out on them even in allowing them to continue, thus heaping up more and more condemnation and hardness of heart in themselves. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      B. God knows how to take care of both the righteous and the ungodly.

      1. (4-6) The ungodly will be judged.

      4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;  ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      a. If God did not spare the angels who sinned: God judged these wicked angels, setting them in chains of darkness. Apparently some fallen angels are in bondage while others are unbound and active in the earth as demons. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. The sin of angels can be thought of in two main ways: in the original rebellion of some angels against God, and in the sin of the “sons of God” described in Genesis 6:1-2.  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      ii. It is clear that at some time, angelic beings had a period of choosing and testing when their future destiny would be determined. “How long that probation was to last to them, and what was the particular test of their fidelity, we know not; nor indeed do we know what was their sin; nor when nor how they fell. Jude says they kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation; which seems to indicate that they got discontented with their lot, and aspired to higher honours, or perhaps to celestial domination.” (Clarke)  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      iii. It may be that the sin of Satan and his angels (Revelation 12:4, 12:7) was occasioned by the plan of God for mankind. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      · Man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and angels are not. Satan and his angels resented this plan to create a being that would be more closely connected to God than they were. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      · Though mankind is beneath the angels in dignity (Hebrews 2:6-7a, 2 Peter 2:11), it is the job of angels to serve mankind (Hebrews 1:14, 2:7-8, Psalm 91:11-12). Satan and his angels resented a plan that would command them to serve lesser beings. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      · Redeemed mankind will be lifted in honor and status above all angelic beings (1 Corinthians 6:3; 1 John 3:2). Satan and his angels resented a plan that would glorify these lower beings to places above them. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      iv. “It sprang from the admiration of their own gifts, it was confirmed by pride and ambition, it was perfected by envy, stirred by the decree of exalting man’s nature above angels in and by Christ.” (Trapp)  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      v. At the same time, we cannot conclusively say we know why the angels sinned because the Scriptures do not give us more than hints.


      b. Cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness: By not keeping their proper place, they are now kept in chains of darkness. Their sinful pursuit of freedom put them in bondage.  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. Those who insist on freedom to do whatever they want are like these angels: so “free” that they are bound with chains of darkness (a powerful poetic description of their miserable bondage). True freedom comes from obedience. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      ii. Cast them down to hell: The ancient Greek word translated hell is literally Tartarus. In Greek mythology, Tartarus was the lowest hell, a place of punishment for rebellious gods. Peter borrowed this word to speak of the place of punishment for the angels who sinned.  ___________________________________________________________________________


      iii. Angels have a high office and a high service of God; yet it was still possible for them to fall. We should take warning from this. As well, we can understand that in some ways we can sin worse than these angels did. “I answer that the devil never yet rejected free grace and dying love; the devil never yet struggled against the Holy Spirit in his own conscience; the devil never yet refused the mercy of God. These supreme pinnacles of wickedness are only reached by you who are hearers of the gospel, and yet cast its precious message behind your backs.” (Spurgeon)


      c. And did not spare the ancient world: God judged the ancient world, the world before Noah’s Flood, because the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      d. And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction: God judged the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, making them an example of His judgment, because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave (Genesis 18:20). _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      e. Making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly: These three examples of judgment show us the important principle that Peter wants to highlight. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      • God judged the angels who sinned, so no one is too high to be judged.
      • God judged the ancient world before the flood, so God doesn’t grade on a curve, only comparing man among other men.
      • God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, so even the prosperous can be judged.


      i. Therefore the ungodly have no reason to think they can escape God’s judgment. Their coming judgment is certain. As Jesus said in Luke 10:10-12, for those who reject the truth “it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom.” __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      2. (7-9) The righteous will be delivered.

      7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:  8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) 9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

      a. And delivered righteous Lot: Peter already told us how the Lord delivered Noah (2 Peter 2:5). Now, he shows us that the Lord delivered righteous Lot.  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. “The preservation and deliverance of Lot gave the apostle occasion to remark, that God knew as well to save as to destroy; and that his goodness led him as forcibly to save righteous Lot, as his justice did to destroy the rebellious in the instances already adduced.” (Clarke)  ___________________________________________________________________________


      b. And delivered righteous Lot: Lot was righteous in God’s eyes, though perhaps it was hard for others to see his righteousness. Yet the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah tormented his righteous soul from day to day.  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. Lot’s soul was tormented, but he failed to follow through with godly actions and separate himself and his family from the ungodliness of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord delivered Lot because of his righteous soul; yet Lot lost everything else because of his too-close association with those wicked cities. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      c. Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations: Even as the Lord delivered Lot, He knows how to deliver us from the temptations we face, and He knows how to reserve the unjust for the day of judgment. We can trust in God’s deliverance of the godly because it is just as certain as His judgment of the ungodly.  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. The Lord knows how: We can take great confidence in this. Many times we do not know how, but the Lord knows how. This is a good principle for both life and doctrine. “For instance, sometimes we meet with perplexing doctrines; perhaps we endeavor to effect reconciliation between the predestination of God and the freedom of human action. It is better not to wade too far into those deep waters, lest we lose ourselves in an abyss. ‘The Lord knoweth.’” (Spurgeon)


      ii. The unjust have reservation made for them: they are reserved for the day of judgment. But believers have no such reservation. God will deliver us from the very day of judgment, from the very time of wrath that He pours out on the earth (Revelation 3:10). __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      iii. “According to the Revised Version, and I think that translation is correct, the punishment has begun already. The Lord knows how to go on even now punishing the ungodly.” (Spurgeon)


      iv. “Peter (if any man) might well say, ‘The Lord knoweth how to deliver his;’ for he had been strangely delivered, Acts 12.” (Trapp) In Acts 12, God wonderfully delivered Peter from prison and He painfully delivered Herod to judgment. God knows how to do both.  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      C. A description of the ungodly among them.

      1. (10-11) They are fleshly and proud.

      10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. 11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.

      a. And especially those who walk according to the flesh: These ungodly ones are especially reserved for judgment. They live according to the flesh, not the spirit, and are marked by uncleanness.  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      b. They are presumptuous, self-willed: These ungodly ones are proud, despising authority. In their presumption they will even speak ill of spiritual powers (Satan and his demons) that the angels themselves do not speak evil of, but the angels rebuke them in the name of the Lord instead. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. Much of what goes on under the name of spiritual warfare shows this kind of pride and presumption. While we recognize our authority in Jesus, we see that it is only in Jesus that we have it – and we leave the reviling accusations to Him alone. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      c. Whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation: Here Peter contrasted the behavior of those who walk according to the flesh with angels, that is, faithful angels. The faithful angels did not slander or exaggerate in what they said or how they represented the sins of others; these who walked according to the flesh did.


      2. (12-13a) Their spiritual doom is sealed.

      12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; 13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time.

      a. Like natural brute beasts: Since they function in the flesh, not the spirit, they are like animals. They are fit only for destruction (made to be caught and destroyed) and they are ignorant. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      b. And will receive the wages of unrighteousness: The ungodly will be “paid” for their evil – and their fleshly lives will be paid the wages of unrighteousness. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. “What these evil men, who were troubling Peter’s people, were doing, was to say that they loved and served Christ, while the things they taught and did were a complete denial of him.” (Barclay)


      3. (13b-17) A list of the sins of the false teachers.

      Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; 14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: 15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet. 17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

      a. Carousing in their own deceptions: These ungodly false teachers are a dangerous and corrupting presence in the body of Christ, not only deceiving others but deceiving themselves also. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. “The word here rendered riot [carousing], comes of a root that signifies to break, for there is nothing that doth so break and emasculate the minds of men as rioting and reveling; luxury draws out a man’s spirits, and dissolves him.” (Trapp)


      b. Having eyes full of adultery: Their heart is set on the flesh, and their eyes on adultery, both spiritual and sexual. They prey on the unstable to join them in their ways (enticing unstable souls). _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. Literally, Peter wrote that their eyes are full of an adulterous woman. “They lust after every girl they see; they view every female as a potential adulteress.” (Green)


      c. They have a heart trained in covetous practices: They are equipped, but not for ministry, only for selfish gain – they are truly accursed. We all train our hearts in something, either training them in covetousness and lust, or in godliness. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. “The metaphor is taken from the agonistae in the Grecian games, who exercised themselves in those feats, such as wrestling, boxing, running, etc., in which they proposed to contend in the public games. These persons had their hearts schooled in nefarious practices; they had exercised themselves until they were perfectly expert in all the arts of seduction, overreaching, and every kind of fraud.” (Clarke)


      d. Following the way of Balaam: They are like Balaam, who was guilty of the greatest of sins – leading others into sin, and that for the sake of his own gain. Balaam had to be restrained by a dumb donkey because he would not listen to God. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      e. These are wells without water: These ungodly false teachers are empty – as useless as wells without water – and like clouds that bring only darkness, and no nourishing rain.  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      4. (18-19) The allure of the false teachers.

      18  For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

      a. They speak great swelling words of emptiness: The message of the ungodly false teachers is empty of real spiritual content, though it is swollen big with words. Their allure is to the lusts of the flesh in their audience, just as the crowds who wanted bread from Jesus, but didn’t want Jesus Himself (John 6:25-27, 6:47-66).  ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      b. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves: They promise freedom, but freedom can never be found in the flesh, only in God’s Spirit. Freedom isn’t found in what Jesus can give us, but only in Jesus Himself. When we seek freedom in the wrong way, we become slaves of corruption (decay and death).  __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      c. By him also he is brought into bondage: In being overcome by the flesh and the false teachers, these unfortunates became slaves to both. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      5. (20-22) The danger of falling away and following after false teachers

      20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      a. The latter end is worse for them than the beginning: It is better for a person to have never known a thing about Jesus than to hear some truth, hold to it for a seaon, and then later reject it. Greater revelation has a greater accountability. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. Their end is worse … than the beginning because they have returned to the pollutions of the world. “These [pollutions] are called miasmata, things that infect, pollute, and defile… St. Augustine has improved on this image: ‘The whole world,’ says he, ‘is one great diseased man, lying extended from east to west, and from north to south; and to heal this great sick man, the almighty Physician descended from heaven.’” (Clarke)


      b. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness: Peter described a picture that certainly has the appearance of people losing their salvation. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      • He speaks of those who have escaped the pollutions of the world.
      • He speaks of those who did this through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
      • He speaks of those who at one time had known the way of righteousness.


      i. Christians warmly debate the issue of whether or not it is possible for a true Christian to ever lose their status as a true Christian and fall away to damnation. Perhaps the best way of understanding the issue is to say that it is certainly true that those who appear saved – those who fit the description of Peter here – can end up in a place where it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness.


      ii. Regarding these, those with a Reformed perspective will say that they were actually never saved; those with an Arminian perspective will say that they were actually saved and lost their salvation. To bitterly divide along the lines of this debate – which focuses on things that are unknowable to outside observation – seems to fall into the category of being obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, as in 1 Timothy 6:4.


      c. A dog returns to his own vomit: The nature as dogs is displayed by the way he returns to the vomit of the flesh and the world. He is like the brute beasts described in 2 Peter 2:12, more animal than godly because he lives for the flesh. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


      i. “The dog which has got rid of the corruption inside it through vomiting it up cannot leave well enough alone; it goes sniffing around the vomit again.” (Green)


    • Custom Text

      Where is God in our Grief?

      Lessons from C.S. Lewis

      In The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis takes his readers through a wardrobe to a world of witches and a heroic lion named Aslan. In Mere Christianity, he takes his readers through an intellectual sparing match with some of the toughest arguments against Christianity. But after his beloved wife, Helen Joy, dies of cancer, Lewis candidly takes his readers through the dark, empty hallways of despair in A Grief Observed.

      The level of anguish and grief Lewis experiences and shares surprises some readers. He writes about God’s seeming absence amidst his grief …

      Lewis’s writing strikes a somber note, similar to many psalms in Scripture – full of anguish, anger, and unanswered questions … 

      The Messiness of Grief

      A Grief Observed mimics the psalms of lament in many ways. They raise hard questions. They express difficult feelings. They don’t always resolve in a nice and neat way. But that’s the point. Grief isn’t nice and neat. It’s messy. Grief can feel so overwhelming that it can cloud our ability to hear from God. Lewis writes …

      Although Lewis’s grief seems to have hindered his ability to hear from God, Lewis did not stop knocking on heaven’s door. And that’s what faith does – it turns to God, not away from Him.

      Like grief, faith can be messy – not always neat and tidy. Faith is not always a mountaintop experience. Sometimes it leads to walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Sometimes it brings your broken cries and questions before the Lord. And as Lewis continually pours out his heart and his hurt, he begins to sense God’s presence. He writes …

      Grieving with God

      Death and heaven raise many questions and difficult feelings, especially for the bereaved. Bring them to the Lord. He can handle your questions, your emotions, your thoughts, your fears, and your sorrows. He encourages us to pour out our hurting hearts to Him, however broken they may be. The Bible says, “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8)

      The Bible, and in particular the Psalms, is filled with people courageously expressing their difficult feelings. They serve as a model to us for what it looks like to come to God when we feel angry, bitter, confused, depressed, grieved, fearful, or hopeless. C.S. Lewis understood this. His grief and that of the psalmists remind us that no matter what we’re feeling, God invites us to give Him our burdens … “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).

      For the bereaved or for those approaching death, bring whatever you’re feeling before the Lord. Pour your heart out to God and bring your questions and feelings to Him as an act of trust, faith, and obedience. God will not be shocked or surprised. Answers to some questions can be found in His Word. But more important than the what and why behind the pain is the Who.

      The Promise of Hope

      We may not receive all the answers to our questions in this life. But we have God – His presence, His promises, and His peace. He invites us to come to Him, regardless of how we feel. And we have His Word. We have His promise that in heaven, our pain will melt away, our questions will be answered, and our tears will be wiped away as we live in the light of His love.







      Barrett BoganKnowing God3 Comments


      If you want to grow closer to God, think of Moses in the tent of meeting, Mary at the feet of Jesus, and Jesus Himself, constantly stealing away to be with the Father. Every great leader and hero of the faith had this one thing in common: they never considered themselves close enough to God.

      Take Paul in his letter to the Philippians:

      Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

      -Philippians 3:13-14

      It’s really all of Chapter 3, so you should go read that for sure. But basically he says that even he hasn’t come to a place where he can relax and kick back.

      But instead he has this intense desire to press on, to push closer, to know Christ more, to grow closer and more intimate, more fellowship. Even Paul, the writer of most of the New Testament, wanted to get closer to God.

      We definitely need this encouragement, this attitude, this heart posture.




      Praise God that He is patient with us and that He loves us, His Church, even with our blemishes. But if we are to truly walk closer to God, we have got to realize that true love is ever-pursuing, ever-increasing, ever-responding, and ever-growing closer every day.

      It doesn’t stay put. It goes with God… it moves… it follows… it pursues.

      Jesus is in the process of preparing and purifying us, His bride, more and more, so we should be engaged in that process as well.

      That being said, there is a deep, disgusting disease in the Church today that we definitely need a cure for. It is unseen and unspoken of, and it is rampant throughout our churches and our hearts. It is the posture in our hearts that we are close enough.

      We might never say it out loud or even realize it sometimes, but it plays out in how we spend our time. It plays out in our worship services. It plays out when there is an altar call, and the majority of us don’t go up. And mostly, it plays out in our hearts.

      “I’M GOOD”, OR “GIVE ME MORE?”

      We sit back thinking, “I don’t need that. I’m good. I don’t want people to see me going forward. What would other people think of me?”

      Whatever we’re thinking, it’s not, “Give it to me! Show me your glory Lord. I want more of you, so here I come.”

      Instead of staying put if there is an invitation for prayer, we, the people of God, the ones who have spent the most time at church, should be the ones that are up at the altar most often.

      The altar should be full of us; the altar at church, the altar in our homes, and the altar in our hearts. We should live in close pursuit and die daily. Daily laying our lives at His altar and letting Him prune and shape us more into His likeness. It should be a pursuit, and a passionate one at that.

      Almost everyone in the whole church should be up there seeking more of Jesus, every time, any chance we get, every day. We should be seeking more of Jesus, every week, all the time, Sunday after Sunday, every other day too, in our homes, in our living rooms, with our families, with our friends, with each other.

      Imagine what kind of atmosphere our churches would have if God looked down and saw passionate, longing hearts instead of indifference. 


      What if He saw us at the altar instead of in our chairs?

      If He saw pursuit and desperation and love in our hearts?

      What would God do if He looked down and saw everyone in your church up at the altar, over and over, and over again each week? I guarantee you He would match that pursuit and meet you in power!

      “I’m good!?!”

      Why would we ever say that to God?

      Again, we don’t realize we are saying it, but we are. We are giving God the stiff arm. We are saying, essentially, “I’m close enough. I don’t need to go any further. I’m good right here. I don’t need any more of you. I’ve done that. Jesus cleansed me. I’m thankful. But now I’m good.”

      If God is offering something, I don’t care if it’s something we’ve already received from Him before, we should want more of it, more of Him, every time. That altar should be full of all of the people that are hungry for more of Him.

      I fear though that it already is. We’ve got to stoke our hunger for Him again.




      We have got to rekindle that fire inside of us and be hungry for Him again.

      We have got to recapture that flame, that heart ablaze, that worshipful spirit that is thankful, and grateful, and awestruck, and in love, and can’t for the life of us get enough of Him.

      You see, we don’t completely push Him away. We make sure to keep Him within reach, but definitely an arms length away. You know, just in case we need Him for something, but on our terms.


      It’s as if we don’t need more cleaning and don’t need Him anymore. Like we’ve forgotten and are no longer enthralled and hungry and thirsty and in love.

      I do this too. It’s easy to get to the point where you just want to be comfortable AND God’s. But that’s not exactly in the cards bro.

      I mean, He is our great Comforter. But we don’t really want Him to be our comforter because that would mean that the circumstances He allows us to be in are UNcomfortable, and we definitely don’t like that. If we’re really honest with ourselves, we want the situation to be comfortable already.

      On the contrary though, God says that our flesh will die when we are close to Him.

      “But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

      -EXODUS 33:20


      God is inviting you up the mountain to be with Him, to come closer, to know Him more intimately than you ever have. Will you come up the mountain and come closer to God?

      Will you recapture that love and fire and pursue God again? It may be painful. There may be some dying and some burning, but hardness produces goodness, and He is making us more Holy.

      Death is always the required course for resurrection life. 

      As far as what side of the fence to choose, there have always been people on both sides of passion and jade. But Jesus wants us to come back to Him. He spoke to it in Revelation.

      I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

      Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

      Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

      -Revelation 2:2-6

      There have always been people who have been in love with Jesus, and there have always been people who have hated Him. But the group that Jesus had the biggest issues with was the group that claimed to love God, but was actually quite far from Him.


      Let’s be honest. Most of us have experienced a season of decreased passion and fervency in our walk with Christ once or twice before.

      David expressed it too.

      Create in me a pure heart, O God,
       and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
      Do not cast me from your presence
       or take your Holy Spirit from me.
      Restore to me the joy of your salvation
       and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

      -PSALM 51:10-12

      Even King David, the man after God’s own heart, had lost it somehow.

      He had lost the joy and the enthrallment. He had lost the zeal, the worship, the pursuit.

      This is the same thing that we struggle with today. We have lost the pursuit. Our posture is no longer one of pursuit and hunger for the Lord. And we have got to recapture that pursuing heart!

      It’s as though we have forgotten or grown accustom to our freedom and have started to take it for granted. But you only stay truly free when you stay close to Jesus every day.


      Will you be the Israelites, who stayed away from the mountain? Or will you be Moses, who desired to meet with the Lord face to face?

      Will you be Martha, who considered the dishes and house chores to be more important? Or will you be Mary who put all that aside to be with Jesus?

      Will you be the Christian who is comfortable with how close you’ve come? Or will you be the Jesus follower who is passionately pursuing Christ and coming closer to God because your heart is so enthralled and can never ever be close enough?


      Whether you’re just getting to know the Lord or you’ve been following Him for years, getting to know God closer is actually quite simple. That’s because He has made Himself available to us.

      If you’re looking for more ways to get closer to God and spend more time with Him, here’s a list of 10 easy things you can do to engage or re-ignite a passionate and thriving relationship with Jesus.

      1. PRAY

      Just talk to God like you would any other person. Pray out loud. Listen for Him to answer you. He has made Himself incredibly available to us through prayer. No matter where you are, talk to Him, and He will talk back to you. And when He does, it will change your life.


      This is what Jesus did. There’s something about going on a walk or a hike OUTSIDE with God. Out in the breeze, out in creation. You get out of whatever you were in and you meet with Him. The important thing here is that you get up and move with Jesus. It helps you put your life in His hands instead of just sitting there stuck in your own head and circumstances. It very practically gets some motion in your life and really helps you keep moving with God. I even do this at Church during worship sometimes. Just pray and pace a little as you seek Him. You don’t have to move to pray, but it can definitely be really great and extremely helpful sometimes.


      This may be obvious, but there are too many of us that don’t dig into Scripture on a regular basis. God will without a doubt reveal Himself to you through His Word. Read the Bible and you will get to know Him more and more. If you want to get to know somebody, you talk to them. Between prayer and reading the Bible, these are the 2 best ways to talk to God and get to know Him. But read with an expectation to hear from God! His Spirit is ready to speak to you through His Word. Pick it up today and come alive with the Lord’s voice in your heart.




      There are so many things we put into our lives these days. But we may not realize the affects they have on our spirit. Just like junk food to our bodies, certain things can have a negative affect on our spirits as well. The fact is that God has said multiple times in Scripture that worldly things separate us from Him. So if you want to get closer to God, cut out some things you normally do, watch, listen to, and think about, and fill your life with worship.

      Become a worshipper of God. Spend time in the car singing and praying and talking with Jesus. Spend time worshipping in your living room. Filling your life with worship will have a MASSIVE affect on your relationship with God, and it will have an ENORMOUS affect on your entire life. If you need a list of great worship music, I’ve got a list of some of my personal favs here on my website to get you started.


      There are some places in the world where there are literally churches on every corner. And other places where you can’t even gather legally together as Christians. But the fact of the matter is that Godly community is a HUGE blessing for growing in Christ. Find a Church where people really know God, really love Him, and really love you. Get involved. And eventually, make sure you’re not just there to get but to give and serve as well.




      God has equipped everybody for specific service to others. If you’ve got a great Church and great Pastors, get to know them and spend a little time together. They can make some of the best mentors. Other than that, find someone in the Church that is older and wiser than you who you can meet with and chew on life together. 

      Also, if you want to get mentoring from me, I do have some 1-on-1 coaching packages available you can check out HERE. You can be anywhere in the world because we meet over video chat, and I will help you maximize your potential and pursuit of Christ and grow as a leader as we spend 1-on-1 time together. All you have to do is be hungry and ready to invest in your personal, spiritual, and leadership growth.


      Talk To a Close Friend Who Knows God. You may not share everything with everybody. But it is extremely healthy to have one or two friends who know pretty much everything about you. And I mean the good, the bad, and the ugly. Find someone you can trust and grow together. Confess sin, confess temptation even before sin to stay out of sin, pray together, pursue God together, have fun and live the adventure together.

      When God gives you a really great friend, they can end up becoming even closer than a brother. But to get a friend, you’ve got to be a friend, so make sure you are the kind of friend to them that you want them to be for you in return. Meet regularly and talk about what the Lord is teaching you. Challenge each other and grow closer to God together. And always keep it same sex when you’re dealing with accountability. (Side note: if you struggle with purity & sexual sin, don’t stick with just an accountability partner. Get help from a Pastor/mentor as well who can help you overcome and get healthy.)


      Click Here To Download My FREE “Get Closer To God Workbook” So That You Can Start Growing Closer With God Today!

      8. READ A BOOK

      I’ve never really been a big natural reader. But over the years I have learned to love it. As I look back on some of my most intimate seasons with the Lord, I was reading the Bible in the mornings and reading a challenging book at night before I went to sleep. Mostly some sort of Christian self-help type book on life with God, who He is, etc. If you need a list of great books to read, I’ve got a list of some of my personal favs here on my website to get you started.

      9. TAKE A COURSE

      It’s incredible what we can learn from people whom God has appointed to help show us the way. There are lots of great online courses out there about all different topics. But if you’re looking for online courses on walking with God, building confidence, finding your contribution, leading well, or making the difference in the world that you were born to make, then check back here often as I am constantly putting together courses for your growth and walk with the Lord.

      Make sure you’re subscribed to my email list so you get updates about new courses before they drop. And also, I’m always looking to tailor my content to your specific needs, so hit reply on any email I send you and come chat on Facebook or even right here on any blog post in the comments. I would love to hear back from you and get to know you so that I can know what you’d like help with most and how I can help you grow.

      I love helping you grow closer to God and grow as a leader, and I have made sure to put only the best, most actionable content into my courses so you get incredible results from every course you take. If you follow the steps I lay out for you in my courses you will without a doubt get closer to God & grow as a leader. It’s one of the best ways to go deeper, take things to the next level, and to grow together.



      10. DROP ME A LINE

      My absolute passion is helping people just like you know and walk closer with God every day. I am here for you, so if you ever need anything, have a question, or just need someone to pray for you or help show you the way, you can drop me a line right here in the blog comments or even here on my Facebook page. I would love to help you any way that I can.

      These 10 things have absolutely changed my life so much that I could write a whole book on each one. Well, the first 9 I guess 😉

      Here they are again to recap.

      1. Pray
      2. Go on a Walk Together
      3. Read the Bible
      4. Fill Your Life With Worship
      5. Find A Good Church
      6. Talk To a Pastor or Godly Mentor
      7. Get An Accountability Partner
      8. Read A Book
      9. Take a Course
      10. Drop Me A Line

      Walking with God is an absolute treasure, one that nothing in this world could ever match in a million years. Not in a billion kajillion years could anything in this world measure up to living life with Christ. His Spirit and His love and His life and His Words are everything we truly crave. And it is just so satisfying to walk with Him that you could never be close enough.

      We have got to re-spark that passion and come closer to God.

      The closer you get to Jesus, the more you just want to get closer and closer and closer, because He is so infinite and amazing.

      No one else can make you strong. Only Jesus is strong in your weakness. And only He sees all of you AND loves you more than you can even imagine. Trust wholly in Him & put Him first before everything else. It will change everything in your life.

      I’m praying for you 🙂

      Lord draw us close. Forgive us of our apathy and distance. Give us clean hands and pure hearts. Show us the depths of your love for us, and create in us a deep desire to respond to you with passion and pursuit and love right back. We dare to pray the dangerous prayer that asks you to burn away our flesh, meaning our self, if it means we can be close to you and be fully alive in your Spirit. Restore to us the joy of our salvation. Give us sight Jesus. Heal our hearts. Come and be our first love again. We love you Lord, and we want more of you. Lord draw us close.


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      CHERI HILL............................................SEPTEMBER 3

      TERRYL CURRY.......................................SEPTEMBER 4

      STEPHANIE VAUGHN..............................SEPTEMBER 13

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      CHARMAINE BRADLEY............................SEPTEMBER 23

      SANDRA WILLIAMS................................SEPTEMBER 25

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      BENSON BRADLEY.................................SEPTEMBER 27



















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      7 Steps to Start Becoming a Church

      People Want to Commit To

      A lot of recently unchurched people are like some of the rowdy kids in school.
      They’re ditching because they’re not being challenged.

      People who don’t go to church, don’t want to go to church. They’re not rolling out of bed late on Sunday morning wishing they had somewhere more churchy to be.

      In fact, a growing number of people who do go to church don’t want to go, either. If we don’t give them something worth committing to, they’ll be gone soon.

      As I mentioned in my last post, People Aren’t as Loyal to a Church Or Denomination Anymore – Good For Them, it’s not that people are less capable of making commitments than they used to be. They just commit differently. But too many churches haven’t caught up to that reality.

      So how do we get people to commit to the church we pastor? Especially when our church is small and struggling?

      I don’t have all the answers, not by a long shot. But I’ve learned a handful of principles over three decades of ministry that have helped our church become a place people are excited to be committed to.

      These steps won’t cost you any extra money and very little extra time – the extra time because of the learning curve. It’s not about adding to your already limited schedule and overtaxed budget. It’s not about doing things bigger. It’s about focusing on doing church better. Working smarter, not harder.

      Where Our Focus Needs to Be

      But first, despite the title of this post, the challenge before us isn’t about getting people to go to church.

      It’s about inspiring people to commit to

      • Worshiping Jesus
      • Genuine relationships with God’s people
      • Making disciples
      • Doing ministry for those in need

      If your focus is trying to get people to commit to your Sunday service schedule, your denominational preference, maintaining your church building or anything like that, you might as well stop reading right now. In fact, you might as well close your church right now.

      The days of people going to church for anything less than a genuine relationship with Jesus are over.

      The days of people going to church for anything less than a genuine relationship with Jesus are over. Yes, there’s still a residue of those people, but they’re dying out – literally. And they won’t be replaced by a new group. Nor should they be.

      But if you want people in your church because you have a passion to help them connect with Jesus and God’s family, read on.

      1. Clear Away Anything that Isn’t Jesus

      If people continue to go to church, it won’t be because they feel a sense of loyalty to a tradition most of them have never had in their lives to begin with. And it won’t be because they want to be entertained. They have better entertainment on the phone in their pocket than we can ever compete with.

      The only thing that will get them out of their house and into our churches is if we give them a cause worth living (and dying) for. Namely, an authentic presentation of the gospel of Jesus – through our words and our lives.

      If your generational traditions or your hip, new staging helps people do that, great! Keep doing it. But if not, don’t let your church’s personal preferences keep people from seeing Jesus.

      Whether he’s hidden behind stained glass windows or laser lights and fog machines, anything that obscures Jesus instead of revealing him needs to be ditched.

      2. Emphasize Relationships Over Spectacle or Tradition

      For small churches especially, being a church that people want to commit to starts and ends with relationships.

      We need to help people make connections to Jesus and each other.

      We need to help people make connections to Jesus and each other. Then work together to build bridges with those outside the church walls.

      Long after our traditions have grown stale and the spectacle has been replaced by a bigger show somewhere else, genuine relationships with Jesus and people will last.

      3. Be Genuine

      People are far less naïve than they used to be. A teenager can spot bad CGI in a movie that would have blown their minds a few years ago. And they can spot phoniness in people even quicker.

      This is especially important for church leaders, because we have a culture in which respect for leadership is lower than it has been in a loooong time – and mostly for good reasons.

      Respect doesn’t come with the position of pastor any more. In fact, it’s more likely to be viewed with skepticism than honor. That skepticism will only be overcome by practicing what we preach.

      4. Discover Your Calling – Then Be Good at It

      Every pastor and church needs to discover who you are and what you’re called to do. Then, do that and be that!

      Giving people something worth committing to isn’t a matter of competing with the big church down the street. It’s not about offering nicer facilities, bigger events or even better preaching. It’s about discovering what God has called you and your church to be great at, then being great at that.

      Excellence isn’t limited to churches with big budgets.

      There’s no excuse for shoddiness. It costs no more time or money to do it right. It just takes a full commitment.

      5. Don’t Just Talk – Hang Out and Listen

      No one wants a relationship in which one side does all the talking. We have TV and movies for that.

      But even TV and movies are giving way to social media. One of the best parts about watching a show that has some social media buzz is chatting about it on Twitter and Facebook as it airs.

      People want to engage with others, not just sit passively while someone else talks.

      People want to engage with others, not just sit passively while someone else talks.

      Sadly, the church does not have a reputation of being open to dialog – or to hard questions. And definitely not to criticism.

      No, you don’t have to turn your sermon into a discussion group (although, some churches do that with great success), but there needs to be an easy and obvious way for people to engage, dialog, chat, hang out and feel like their life and their opinion matters.

      And pastors, especially pastors of small churches, need to be engaged in those conversations. Listening, participating and learning, not just teaching.

      6. Keep Learning and Getting Better

      I communicate, minister and lead much differently today than I when I started in pastoral ministry 35 years ago. In fact I do it differently than I did just ten years ago. And I expect to change at least as much in the next five years.

      I now have over 30 years of ministry experience in addition to my formal ministry training. But that experience matters less today than it ever has. If I’m not constantly learning, listening and growing, I’ll fall behind very quickly.

      But that shouldn’t intimidate us. Learning and growing is Discipleship 101. It’s central to being a follower of Jesus, let alone a church leader.

      7. Offer People a Challenge Worthy of Their Time and Talents

      Jesus never made discipleship easy. He always inspired people to a bigger commitment by calling them to a greater challenge.

      Too many pastors limit the expectations they have for their members to sitting in a pew and filling gaps in existing ministries. We think we can’t ask more of them because … well … they’re not even doing that!

      But a lot of uncooperative church members and recently unchurched people aren’t as disinterested as we think. Like some of the rowdy kids in school, they’re not ditching class because we’re asking too much of them. They’re acting out because they’re not being challenged.

      People are deciding that leaving church is better than being bored in church. I don't blame them.

      People are deciding that leaving church is better than being bored in church. I don't blame them.

      If we don’t challenge people through a genuine experience of worship, fellowship, discipleship and ministry, they’ll do one of four things: 1) go to a church that challenges them more, 2) go to a church that entertains them better, 3) show up physically, but disengage in every other way, or 4) stopping going to church entirely.

      People want to go to a church where they’re challenged by something bigger than themselves and where their gifts are being used to further that cause.

      If you ask small, you’ll get a small commitment. Ask large and your joy might be full.

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      Addiction Statistics In The United States 2021

      Substance abuse and addiction affect the lives of millions of individuals and families in the United States. Data from federal agencies shows concerning rates of drug and alcohol abuse among adolescents and adults in 2021.

      2021 US Substance Abuse Statistics

      Each year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health collects information on drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and addiction among people aged 12 and older in the United States.

      In 2019, about 20 million people in the United States had a substance use disorder in the past year, according to the most recent data report. Data for 2020 has not yet been released.

      Additional survey data during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, has revealed higher reported rates of drinking and drug use among adults, as well as alarming spikes in fatal drug overdoses.

      What Is Substance Abuse?

      Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse or alcohol abuse, refers to a chronic pattern of frequent or excessive substance use in a way that is harmful to health and well-being.

      Examples of this include:

      • drinking excessively very often
      • taking drugs without a prescription
      • use of illicit drugs
      • taking drugs for reasons other than prescribed
      • taking higher doses than prescribed
      • taking drugs in ways other than prescribed (e.g. snorting, injecting, smoking)

      What Is Addiction?

      Addiction is a chronic but treatable disorder characterized by a compulsive need to use drugs or drink alcohol despite negative consequences. This can be physical and psychological.

      Addiction is different from physical dependence. Dependence is a physiological reliance on drugs or alcohol that can develop through chronic drug misuse or frequent, heavy drinking.

      What Are The Most Common Types Of Addiction?

      Substance misuse and addiction can refer to the misuse of a wide range of substances, some of which are classified as “legal” or “illicit”.

      Commonly misused drugs include:

      • alcohol
      • prescription painkillers
      • heroin
      • cocaine
      • methamphetamine
      • prescription drugs
      • marijuana

      Addiction can occur in people of all ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and gender identities, regardless of income or socioeconomic status. No one is immune.

      Alcohol Abuse And Addiction Rates In The United States

      Alcohol is the most commonly misused substance in the United States. While many adults drink in moderation, for some, this can become a compulsive and addictive habit.

      Rates that apply to the type of alcohol use disorder (binge drinking, problem drinking, etc):

      • About 24 percent of people over 12 report binge-drinking in the past month.
      • Nine in 10 adults who binge-drink do not have a severe alcohol use disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
      • About 55 percent of 12th graders reported drinking alcohol in the past year.
      • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 14.5 million people had an alcohol use disorder in 2019.

      Drunk driving rates:

      • More than 10,000 people die in drunk-driving crashes each year.
      • On average, 29 people die each day in motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver.

      Alcohol-related fatalities:

      • Excessive alcohol use is the cause of about 95,000 deaths per year in the United States.

      Find the right treatment program today.

      Call to be connected with a treatment specialist. 100% Free and Confidential.

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      Prescription Opioid Abuse And Addiction Statistics In The United States

      Prescription opioid drugs like oxycodone (OxyContin) have a high potential for misuse and addiction. Commonly prescribed for pain, these drugs can be misused for their euphoric effects.

      Prescription opioid misuse rates:

      • In 2019, more than 10 million people in the U.S reported misusing prescription opioids.
      • Nearly eight million were over the age of 26.

      Opioid overdose rates:

      • About 130 people in the U.S. die each day due to fatal opioid overdose.
      • From 1999 to 2019, nearly 500,000 Americans died due to opioid overdose.

      Rates by specific populations:

      • Although previously considered most common in white, rural populations, African Americans are now 2.5 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose compared to white Americans.


      Heroin Addiction Statistics

      Heroin is an illicit opiate drug that, due to crackdowns on opioid prescribing, has become easier and cheaper to acquire than prescription opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin.

      Heroin use disorder rates:

      • About 50,000 Americans tried using heroin for the first time in 2019.
      • About 745,000 people used heroin at all in 2019, and an estimated 438,000 had a heroin use disorder.

      Rates that show the link between prescription opioid misuse and heroin addiction:

      • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
      • An estimated five percent of people with an opioid use disorder will use heroin.

      Heroin overdose death rates:

      • Overdose deaths involving heroin increased five-fold from 2010 to 2019, reaching over 15,000 in 2017 and decreasing slightly the following year.
      • From 2013 to 2019, the age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths involving heroin increased 63 percent.


      Fentanyl Addiction Statistics

      Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid drug that is sometimes prescribed for pain. It is also illegally manufactured in forms that are sold on the street, sometimes mixed with other drugs.

      Fentanyl is about 50 times more potent than heroin, and about 100 times more potent than morphine.

      Scope of fentanyl misuse:

      • Over 250,000 people in the U.S. reported misusing prescription fentanyl products in 2019.

      Fentanyl-involved overdose death rates:

      • Synthetic opioids like fentanyl (mostly illicit forms) are involved in about 70 percent of drug overdose deaths each year—translating to more than 35,000 lives lost in 2019.

      Prescription Drug Misuse And Addiction Statistics

      Prescription drugs, like illicit drugs, can be misused for their effects. Some, like opioids, are more addictive than others.

      Some of the most widely abused prescription drugs include prescription sedatives, benzodiazepines (prescribed for anxiety), and stimulants such as Adderall and Vyvanse.

      Statistics On Prescription Drug Misuse And Addiction

      Overview of prescription drug abuse rates:

      • More than one million people misused prescription stimulants, 1.5 million misused tranquilizers, and 271,000 reported misusing prescription sedatives in 2017.
      • In 2017, an estimated 18 million Americans aged 12 and older reporting misusing prescription drugs in the last year.


      Sedative/tranquilizer abuse rates:

      • About 681,000 people had a prescription sedative or tranquilizer use disorder in 2019.


      Prescription stimulant abuse rates:

      • More than 550,000 people were dependent on or addicted to prescription stimulant drugs.


      Amphetamine misuse rates:

      • The misuse of prescription drugs like Adderall is highest among young adults, who will misuse these drugs to improve focus, boost energy, and suppress appetite.


      Cocaine Abuse And Addiction Statistics

      Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that is illegal to buy, possess, and sell in the United States. In recent years, the rate of deaths involving cocaine has sharply increased.

      About 1 in 10 drug-related deaths in the United States involve psychostimulants like cocaine, methamphetamine, or amphetamine.

      Overview of cocaine abuse rates:

      • About 671,000 people over the age of 12 started using cocaine in 2019.
      • Five and a half million people in the U.S. reported using cocaine at some time in the past year in 2019.
      • About one million people meet the criteria for cocaine use disorder.

      Rates of cocaine-involved overdose deaths:

      • Cocaine-involved deaths increased by 26.5 percent in the June 2019-May 2020 study period from the previous year.
      • Cocaine-involved overdose deaths are driven largely by a combination of cocaine with synthetic opioids other than methadone.
      • Cocaine is involved in an estimated 1 in 5 drug overdose deaths.


      Methamphetamine Abuse And Addiction Statistics

      Methamphetamine (meth) is an illicit stimulant that is surging in use across the United States, but especially among American Indians and Alaska natives, according to recent data.

      Overview of meth abuse and addiction rates:

      • An estimated one million people in the United States are addicted to meth or dependent on meth.
      • About 184,000 people reported trying meth for the first time in 2019.

      Meth overdose rates:

      • From 2011 to 2018, deaths involving meth increased five-fold, to 10.1 deaths per 100,00 men and 4.5 deaths per 100,000 women.
      • Deaths involving methamphetamine among non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska natives more than quadrupled from 2011 to 2018.


      Teen Drug And Alcohol Addiction Statistics

      Drug and alcohol abuse is a major concern in teenagers and young adults, largely due to the implications this can have for teenagers later in life.

      Beginning drug use or drinking at an early age is associated with a higher risk for developing a substance use disorder, as well as other developmental issues and life difficulties.

      Youth who drink alcohol have a higher risk of school problems, social problems, suicide, and misuse of other substances.

      Overview of drug use disorders and illicit drug use among teens:

      • Nearly 900,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 had an illicit drug use disorder in 2019.
      • About 37 percent of all high school seniors reported using illicit drugs (including marijuana, which is legal in some states) in the last year.
      • The perceived harms of drinking and drug use decreased from 2018 to 2019. This includes perceived risks associated with binge drinking, cocaine use, and heroin use.

      Overview of alcohol use disorders and alcohol abuse in teens:

      • About 414,000 teens were dependent on or addicted to alcohol in 2019.
      • Alcohol is the most commonly used substance among young people in the U.S.


      Alcohol-involved deaths among teens:

      • Excessive drinking causes an estimated 3,500 deaths in people aged 21 and younger each year.


      Drug Overdose Death Statistics

      Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Drug overdose can occur in people addicted to drugs and those who are not.

      After the number of fatal overdoses across the U.S. fell in 2018, data from 2019 showed a sharp increase, with 2020 estimated to be the deadliest year on record.

      What recent data on drug overdoses in the United States shows:


      Rates for overdose deaths involving specific drugs:

      • Over 50 percent of psychostimulant-related overdose deaths involve opioids.
      • Synthetic opioids other than methadone, such as fentanyl, are involved in over 70 percent of all drug overdose deaths.


      The scope of drug overdose fatalities in the United States long-term:

      • Nearly 841,000 people have died due to fatal drug overdose since 1999.
      • From 2010 to 2019, drug overdose deaths have more than doubled, from 38,329 deaths in 2010 to over 70,000 in 2019.


      Increased drug overdose death rates in 2020:

      • Drug overdose deaths were up 11.4 percent in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period the previous year.
      • Approximately 81,230 drug overdose deaths occurred between June 2019 and May 2020, with the largest increase recorded between March and May of 2020.
      • The year of 2020—termed by some as the pandemic year—is estimated to be the deadliest year for drug overdose deaths on record in the United States.

      How The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Affected Substance Abuse

      Although national data isn’t yet available on substance use, addiction, and overdose for 2020, early estimates predict alarming trends—in part influenced by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

      The COVID-19 pandemic has affected substance abuse in a number of ways, including access to treatment, illicit drug access, social support, and how people are coping with pandemic stress.


      Highlights of COVID-19 and substance abuse:

      • More than 40 states across the U.S. have reported increases in opioid-related deaths over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Emergency department (ED) overdose visits in the U.S. increased up to 45 percent during the pandemic, despite a reduction in total visits to EDs.
      • In a CDC survey conducted in June, about 13 percent of adult respondents reported using drugs or alcohol to cope with pandemic-related stress.
      • Alcohol sales in stores were up 54 percent in March of 2020 compared to the same time the previous year, according to Nielsen.
      • Provisional data from the CDC predicts that over 88,000 drug overdose deaths occurred between July 2019 and August 2020.
      • Tracking substance use through household and school surveys has been complicated by the pandemic, making it difficult to identify the full scope of the problem.
      • Isolation during the pandemic is considered one of the primary contributors to upticks in increased drug use, alcohol use, and relapse.
      • Among over 1,000 people with substance use disorders surveyed in June 2020, more than 1 in 3 said they had experienced a disruption in accessing treatment or recovery support.


      How Many People Seek Addiction Treatment?

      While many people struggle with substance abuse, the vast majority of those who need treatment aren’t receiving it. And during the pandemic, the demand and need for treatment have increased.

      According to some estimates, only 1 in 10 people who have a substance use disorder receives treatment. And this varies by location, age, race, ethnicity, and income level.

      What recent data on addiction treatment admissions shows:

      • In 2019, about 4.2 million—or 1.5 percent— of people in the U.S. received substance use treatment in the past year.
      • About 1.27 million Americans are receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction.
      • Over 21 million people were identified as needing substance use treatment—meaning less than one-quarter of those who needed it went on to receive it.
      • In a 2020 survey of over 300 treatment facilities, about 52 percent reported a rise in the need for treatment. Yet 65 percent reported having to cancel, reschedule, or turn away people in need.
      • Major barriers to seeking treatment include cost, insurance coverage, lacking nearby specialty care, and stigma.

      Addiction and substance abuse rates are ever-changing, yet treatment professionals are working tirelessly to help people recover with resources from treatment programs, free rehab centers, and more. Call today to find a drug rehab center near you.



      Written by the Addiction Resource Editorial Staff

      Medically Reviewed by
      Johnelle Smith, M.D on April 26, 2021

      This page does not provide medical advice. See more




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      10 Biblical Purposes for Fasting


      Throughout the Bible we most often find God’s people turn to fasting as the natural, inevitable response to a grievous sacred moment in life, such as death, sin and tragedy. But other times a fast is not a spontaneous reaction and we have time to prepare to respond both physically and spiritually.

      Fasting is not an end unto itself, but a means of focusing our minds and bodies for a spiritual reason. Whenever you fast, do so for a reason that is mentioned or modeled in the Bible. Here are ten primary purposes for fasting mentioned in Scripture:¹

      1. To strengthen prayer (e.g., see Ezra 8:23)

      Numerous incidents in the Old Testament connect fasting to prayer, especially intercessory prayer. Fasting does not change whether God hears our prayers, but it can change our praying. As Arthur Wallis says, “Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and importunity into our praying, and to give force to our pleading in the court of heaven.”²

      2. To seek God’s guidance (e.g., see Judges 20:26)

      As with prayer, fasting to seek God’s guidance isn’t done to change God but to make us more receptive to his guidance.

      3. To express grief (e.g., see 1 Samuel 31:13)

      Expressing grief is one of the primary reasons for fasting. Ever notice that when you’re moved to tears by grief you lose the urge to eat? When we grieve, our family and friends often have to plead with us to eat because our body’s appropriate response to grief is to fast. A prime example occurs in 2 Samuel 1:12, where David and his men are described as having “mourned and wept and fasted till evening” for their friends, their enemies and their nation.

      4. To seek deliverance or protection (e.g., see 2 Chronicles 20:3 – 4)

      Another common reason for fasting in the Old Testament was to seek deliverance from enemies or circumstances. In Scripture, this type of fast is generally carried out with other believers.

      5. To express repentance and a return to God (e.g., see 1 Samuel 7:6)

      This type of fasting helps us to express grief over our sins and shows our seriousness about returning to the path of godly obedience.

      6. To humble oneself before God (e.g., see 1 Kings 21:27 – 29)

      “Remember that fasting itself is not humility before God,” reminds Donald Whitney, “but should be an expression of humility.”³

      7. To express concern for the work of God (e.g., see Nehemiah 1:3 – 4)

      As with Nehemiah, fasting can be a tangible sign of our concern over a particular work God is doing.

      8. To minister to the needs of others (e.g., see Isaiah 58:3 – 7)

      We can use time we’d normally spend eating to fast and minister to others.

      9. To overcome temptation and dedicate yourself to God (e.g., see Matthew 4:1 – 11)

      Fasting can help us focus when we are struggling with particular temptations.

      10. To express love and worship for God (e.g., see Luke 2:37)


      Fasting can show, as John Piper says, that “what we hunger for most, we worship.”⁴

      How should we equip ourselves when God calls us to “declare a holy fast”? Here are some things to consider as you prepare for fasting:

      Pray and confess your sins
      A necessary step before fasting is to humble yourself before God (see Psalm 35:13) and confess your sins (see 1 Samuel 7:6). Prayer should be our sustenance throughout the fast, but it is imperative we begin the fast with a contrite heart.

      Turn to Scripture
      Spend additional time meditating on God’s Word, before and during the fast.

      Keep it secret
      Fasting is unbiblical and even spiritually harmful when we do it to show off our spirituality (see Matthew 6:16 – 18) or when we focus more on our own fasting than on the clear needs of others (see Isaiah 58:1 – 11). Don’t boast about your fast; tell people you won’t be eating only if necessary. Fasting should not be done when imposed for false motives (see 1 Samuel 14:24-30).

      Prepare your body
      Fasting, especially for days or weeks, can have unexpected and even detrimental effects on your health. There is no scriptural warrant for harming yourself to undergo a fast. Be sure to consult a doctor before starting any fasting regimen to make sure you can fast in a healthy manner.

      Fasting is an appropriate bodily reaction to the grievous state of our soul. If it is done correctly you can expect many results, including growing closer to God, feeling more solidarity with those who suffer, and increasing self-control.

      For Reflection

      Rather than wondering whether you should fast, ask why you would want to miss out on the Father’s reward.

      ¹Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014).
      ²Arthur Wallis, God’s Chosen Fast (Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publications, 1993).
      ³Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines.
      ⁴John Piper, A Hunger for God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1997).

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      African American Gospel

      African American Gospel music is a form of euphoric, rhythmic, spiritual music rooted in the solo and responsive church singing of the African American South. Its development coincided with -- and is germane to -- the development of rhythm and blues.

      The precursor to black Gospel music is the African American spiritual, which had already been around for well over a century before Gospel music began its rise to popularity starting in the 1930s. Songs written by African American composers in the decades following emancipation that focused on biblical themes and often drew from spirituals were the source for the development of Gospel. An example is "De Gospel Cars," by the popular composer Sam Lucas.

      When many African American communities migrated from rural to urban life during the first half of the twentieth century, they brought their worship culture with them. Echoing the ways of the single-room churches of the agrarian South, the storefront churches of the northern cities became the key setting for the development of Gospel.

      Gospel artist Mahalia Jackson. Carl Van Vechten, Photographer. 1962. Prints and Photographs Division, Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-120855

      During the 1930s, Gospel music emerged from the coalescing of three types of musical activity: a) the hymn style of Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933) a Philadelphia minister who composed hymns based on negro spirituals, adding instrumental accompaniments, improvisation and "bluesified" third and seventh intervals; b) the minimalist, solo-sung "rural Gospel" tunes that appeared as a counterpart to the rural blues; and c) the uninhibited, exuberant worship style of the Holiness-Pentecostal branch of the Christian church.

      The shift from spirituals to Gospel is evident in the recordings of African American religious songs recorded in the 1930s and 1940s. The Holloway High School Quartet of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, recorded by John W. Work, III in 1941, provides an example of a traditional spiritual arranged for four-part harmony in "Old ship of Zion,"  The same group in the same recording session demonstrated the sound of Gospel, as they sang an updated version of an old spiritual, "Daniel saw the stone." 

      A key figure in the development of Gospel was Thomas A. Dorsey (1899 -1993). Referred to today as the father of Gospel Music, Dorsey pioneered the form in Chicago. Before devoting his career to the development of Gospel, Dorsey, the son of a Georgia Baptist preacher, was a prolific blues and jazz composer and pianist. The energetic rhythms and primal growls of secular music heavily influenced Dorsey's sacred composing style.

      From its beginnings, Gospel music challenged the existing church establishment. Black religious leaders originally rejected Dorsey's approach because of its associations with the widely frowned-upon secular music styles of the era such as ragtime, blues, and jazz.

      "I know I've got religion," sung by the Golden Jubilee Quartet in 1943, is an example of an old spiritual arranged for Gospel quartet. The use of a rocking beat in Gospel began in the 1940s, as the secular form of what came to be called rhythm and blues was also catching on. An example is  "Death comes a knocking," performed by the Four Brothers, also recorded by Willis James in 1943.

      Thomas Dorsey teamed up with vocalist Mahalia Jackson (1912 - 1972) who, like him, had been exposed during her formative years to the Baptist church and the sounds of blues artists like Bessie Smith (through an aunt's record collection). Together, Dorsey and Jackson bypassed the establishment and took their new Christian sound to the street corners of Chicago and elsewhere around the country. Jackson sang Dorsey's songs while the composer hawked copies of his sheet music.

      Eventually, Dorsey and Jackson's vision spread through their alliance with a few likeminded musical pioneers to form of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, which is still thriving today.

      During its early development, Gospel music featured simple piano and organ accompaniment. Male vocal quartets were popular, having emerged under the auspices of African American universities like Fisk and Hampton. Originally these groups sang a cappella  spirituals, but started switching to the Gospel repertoire in the 1930s. In the 1940s, the quartets often added a fifth singer and guitar accompaniment.

      The sound of slide guitar sound from Hawaii began to influence many genres of American music shortly after Hawaii became a US territory in 1898. A style of Gospel music, called "sacred steel," emerged. View the concert starring Aubrey Ghent playing the sacred steel lap guitar.

      Although singers like Aretha Franklin had introduced Gospel style songs to the pop charts with songs like "Think" in 1968, church-centric Gospel music began to cross over into the mainstream following the release in 1969 of the recording of "O Happy Day" by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, a mixed-gender Gospel chorus based in the San Francisco Bay area. The song, which was based on a mid-eighteenth century English hymn sold more than a million copies in two months (well above average for a Gospel recording) and earned its composer, Edwin Hawkins (born 1943) his first of four Grammy Awards.

      Since Hawkins, other artists have emerged, taking Gospel music well beyond the black church. Today's Gospel songs are more harmonically complex than their traditional counterparts. Prominent names in the contemporary Gospel field include Andrae Crouch, Take 6, The New York Community Choir and the Cultural Heritage Choir.

      These days, Gospel songs are performed as solos or by small or large ensembles, and by men and women of all ages. Both blacks and whites sing the repertoire and the instrumentation possibilities are limitless, ranging from synthesizers and drums to full symphony orchestras. Hear, for example, Marion Williams's 1992 recording of "Amazing Grace,"

      The genre continues to make an impact on the popular music today. Its influence can be heard in the work of many secular performers, from the folk stylings of Simon and Garfunkel to the soul outpourings of Adele.


      • The African American Civil Rights Movement (Songs of America)
      • African American Song (Songs of America)
      • Blues (Songs of America)
      • Blues as Protest (Songs of America)
      • Now What a Time: Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943.  Consists of approximately one hundred sound recordings, primarily blues and Gospel songs, and related documentation from the folk festival at Fort Valley State College (now Fort Valley State University), Fort Valley, Georgia. The documentation was created by John Wesley Work III in 1941 and by Lewis Jones and Willis Laurence James in March, June, and July 1943. These recording projects were supported by the Library of Congress's Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center).
      • Darden, Robert. People Get Ready: A New History of Black Gospel Music. Copyright (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004)
      • Hitchcock, H. Wiley and Stanley Sadie. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. (London: Macmillan, 1986) pp 254-261
      • Koskoff, Ellen, Ed. The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Volume 3: The United States and Canada. (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 2001) pp 629-636
      • Songs Related to the Abolition of Slavery (Songs of America)
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      After Eden


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