They put up a monument last week. The monument was dedicated to one of the greatest sports heroes that America has ever produced. The place was Yankee Stadium in New York City. The man was Mickey Mantle.
You may have never heard of Mickey Mantle but just ask anyone who lived in the United States during your parent’s or grandparent’s generation- they knew who Mickey Mantle was.
They knew that Mantle was the guy who had it all. He was the center fielder for Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees, the most glamorous team that the sport had ever seen. He played in 12 World Series. He hit 536 home runs. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He had money, he had fame, and there were thousands (maybe even millions) of people who wished that they could trade places with him, even for a day.
And then he passed away from the effects of alcohol abuse.
Knowing of Mickey Mantle’s overwhelming popularity as a sports hero, it’s interesting to read some of the news accounts of his death:
Even though Mantle was a guy who looked like he “had it all,” it seems by his own admission that he must have had less than most people thought. For example, a sportswriter for a major newspaper in New York where Mantle played gave this description of Mickey Mantle’s life after he retired…
What kind of positive effect did Mickey Mantle’s example really have on people? Not much, it sadly seems- especially in his own family where it really counted. But alcohol and substance abuse is not just limited to famous people like Mickey Mantle, of course. In fact, alcohol use (and abuse) is rising -especially among teens.
Did you know:
- A University of Michigan study found that 51% of High School seniors said they had drunk “in the past 30 days” (3)
- A U.S. Surgeon General’s report found that more than half of junior high and high school students drink (3)
- Alcohol related accidents are the number one cause of teen death (3)
- Nearly half of all US college students are binge drinkers and on some campuses the rate may be as high as 70% (4)
Now some of you may say, “Hey, I’m a Christian, I go to church, I don’t drink.” Well, not so fast. The Barna Churched Youth Survey of teens who claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ found that 12% of Christian teens had consumed enough alcohol to be legally drunk at least once in the past 3 months. (5) The Doctor finds that to be -if you’ll excuse the pun- a sobering percentage.
So what’s the solution? Some have said that you should simply “just say no” to alcohol and substance abuse. While this is certainly good advice, it just doesn’t go far enough. You see, “just saying no” still leaves a sort of vacuum because you still need provide a replacement for whatever thing you’ve just said no to. In other words, you not only need to say no to one thing, you also need to say yes to something else and that “something else” is Jesus Christ!
The Bible phrases the idea like this…
You see, alcohol abuse can lead to all the things that the Bible talks about here- drunkenness, sexual immorality, lust, fighting, and jealousy. But while the Bible tells us to say no to these things, it also tells us to say yes to Jesus Christ. If you want to avoid drunkenness, sexual immorality, lust, fighting, and jealousy then you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit through Christ. In this way, people can overcome and control these things instead of having them control us.
The Doctor strongly encourages you to remember the words of Mickey Mantle and apply them in your own life…
(2) Steve Serby, New York Post 14 Aug 95
(3) USA Weekend, “Teens and Drinking Special Report”, 12-14 Aug 94
(4) Reuters, “Study Finds Binge Drinking On Campuses” 6 Dec 94
(5) Barna Churched Youth Survey, 1994