Recent celebrities and athletes have struggled with alcohol and drug abuse like baseball player and Christian, Josh Hamilton. Some of these celebrities have died in their struggle like Whitney Houston and now Thomas Kinkade, known as the “painter of light”.

Read this story about Kinkade now:

I disagree with this particular ’cause-effect’ inference in the article:

“Kinkade’s brother Patrick told the San Jose Mercury News in a story published late Thursday night that years of mean-spirited personal attacks on the painter and a split from his wife and four daughters wore Kinkade down. [cause] That led to his battle with alcoholism over the past four to five years.” [effect] -(Bold bracketed entries mine.)

This is a pretty powerful cause and effect assertion, and it occurs all the time in our worldly thinking. Mean-spirited personal attacks and divorce do NOT lead someone to battle “alcoholism” as though Mr. Kinkade was a helpless victim of his circumstances which led to a mythical disease called “alcoholism” overwhelming him. No! Mr. Kinkade chose to turn to alcohol for whatever reasons: escape from pain or to pleasure. Mr. Kinkade is responsible for how he chose to deal with the problems in his life just as we all are. Not everyone chooses to drink excessively to address or alleviate the problems or pain in their lives. Some of us turn to Christ alone and to those who are also trusting in Him, the church! Because he is a celebrity we tend to give him a free pass (or excuse for his behavior) because of the extreme unusual pressures of the life of fame. We did so with Whitney Houston.

I don’t know Mr. Kinkade but I’ve seen his work and admire his God-given abilities. I do not know if he was a professing Christian or not. He had a live-in girlfriend after a terrible divorce (and had four daughters) which breaks my heart to discover.

From the facts in this article it is apparent that he drank way too much alcohol, which by the way IS A DRUG IN LIQUID FORM, and it cost him his life. Ephesians 5:18 (ESV) warns: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery (it means ‘utter ruin’), but be filled with the Spirit.” (parenthesis mine)

I find it ironic that our society continues to promote the celebrity life as one to be yearned for and admired. Money does not fix your heart. Money only keeps you from physical poverty; it does not alleviate the poverty of the heart. Alcohol does not fix your spiritual poverty either; only Christ “fixes” or transforms the heart’s desire from wanting to live for self to wanting to live for God and others.

In fact Jesus said in Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The gift of being poor in spirit can be granted to anyone, even the rich, but it only happens to the humble. I use the word ‘gift’ because just as God grants repentance (2 Timothy 2:25b) He grants the ability to be poor in spirit. You cannnot conjure up enough humility within yourself to become poor in spirit. The very next verse in Matthew 5 is the one found on the Kincade website and facebook page today: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Jesus is referring to mourning our sin, not mourning over how sad we feel about ourselves and our circumstances. We are called to mourn how our sin has offended a Holy and perfectly loving heavenly Father, our Creator, God.

My sadness in this tragedy is that Mr. Kinkade died in despair and may not have known Christ Jesus, even though he was tremendously gifted by Christ to paint. Did he ever know Christ (His Creator and Gift-giver) as Lord and Savior from his sins?

We are all one breath away or even one bad decision away from death. God holds our lives in His Hands. What is your legacy going to be? Will people remember you for the life you lived having served God and served others? Or will people remember that you made a selfish choice, drank too much alcohol, and then died possibly as a depressed drunkard not trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ? Turn now from your sins and turn to Christ for eternal life. Christianity is the only religion in the world that tells us we are hopelessly lost and doomed in our sins yet Christ, God’s only Son, died in our place as our substitute for God’s wrath. Romans 5:8 says: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Trusting in Him alone (not our ‘good’ works) is the only hope for any and all of us, even celebrities! Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we cannot do enough good works to earn the pleasure of God; salvation is His gift alone to give. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

The end is near for all of us. For the Christ follower, I Corinthians 15:55-58 is a triumphant passage:

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God,who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding inthe work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

I am praying that my life ends by abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that my labor is not in vain. Let that be your prayer, too.

-Mark (praying for the Kinkade family during this difficult time and praying that they would know Christ more intimately and as Lord and Savior to bring good from tragedy)