Monday, August 29, 2011

John MacArthur on Alcohol (Or, John Barleycorn)

I've noticed an alarming familiarity that conservative evangelicals have today with alcohol that both bewilders and saddens me. It's a monumental shift from the evangelical Christianity of an earlier day. It's not an improvement.

Well-known evangelical preacher, John MacArthur, preached in great detail on the difference between "wine" as consumed in the biblical times verses the modern varieties of alcohol today. I think these sermons are very helpful.

Unfortunately, MacArthur—not from my Pietistic & holiness Tradition—was hesitant to say Christians just shouldn't drink, period. Perhaps he feared falling into legalism. Well, I'll say it: Christians just shouldn't drink, period. I don't think it's legalistic to expect this of holiness Christians. Through a checklist of eight questions...
1. Is drinking today the same as in Bible times? Or is the wine today the same as then?
2. Is drinking necessary?
3. Is drinking the best choice?
4. Is drinking habit-forming?
5. Is drinking potentially destructive?
6. Is it offensive to other Christians?
7. Will it harm my Christian testimony?
8. Are you really sure it's right to drink? I mean, are you absolutely sure? Because if you have any conviction about it at all you ought to deal with that.
...MacArthur seems to ask for abstinence without flat-out demanding it. Well, I'll demand it: Christians should abstain from alcohol.

Click the hyperlinks below to listen or download his sermons from 1978 for free. (Don't tell MacArthur I said this but if you're short on time I think you can skip Part 1 and jump right into the heart of the discussion with Parts 2 and 3.)

BeNot Drunk with Wine, Part 1
 Be Not Drunk with Wine, Part 2 
Be Not Drunk with Wine, Part 3

Update: In January of 2012 MacArthur again addressed this issue because some "young, restless and Reformed" Calvinistic pastors are openly celebrating alcohol today and, for some bizarre reason that escapes me, making the consumption of hooch a big-ticket Christian liberty issue. ("Christians and Alcohol" overlaps some material found in Parts 1 and 2 in the 1978 series. "Interrogating Alcohol" overlaps 1978's Part 3.) I think his 1978 sermons are crisper in presentation but MacArthur appears even less accommodating to alcohol in 2012, a stance I appreciate. Also, he makes very interesting points about slavery in the Bible as he draws a parallel.

Christians and Alcohol
Interrogating Alcohol

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Love Cologne

Oil and perfume make the heart glad
(Proverbs 27:9a ESV)

I'm a guy and I like dude stuff: guns, cars, WVU football, WVU basketball and Cheez-It crackers. (Women will never understand how much guys love Cheez-It crackers; it's a guy thing.) I also am an extremely low-maintenance guy. My favorite shaving cream is Barbasol (original scent). Yes, I unabashedly wear Aqua Velva aftershave (at fewer than $5 for 7 ounces at Walmart). My favorite soap is Ivory Spring with Aloe.

However, I allow myself one indulgence: I love cologne! (or, for the purists among us, Eau de Toilette, or EdT).

Here are some of my favorite colognes:

Polo by Ralph Lauren (1978)

I know of no more complex men's scent than Polo's original. It is a deep smoky campfire on a cool, early autumn night as one sits on a fallen mossy tree and is surrounded by the dewy grass. Polo is the essence of a Mountaineer; Montani Semper Liberi! Warning: Please spray no more than one time! Anything more is overkill!
Top Notes Pine, Lavender, Juniper, Artemisia, Bergamot, Cumin, Basil, Green Notes 
Middle Notes Coriander, Marjoram, Jasmin, Carnation, Geranium, Thyme, Rose 
Base Notes Oakmoss, Patchouli, Leather, Cedar, Amber, Musk, Frankinsense
Rive Gauche Pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent (2003)This is the most versatile barbershop scent I have ever experienced. It is the smell of a shave, the quintessential essence of clean, of a well-groomed man. It is a power suit with a red tie, the cologne equivalent of Barbasol shaving cream (original scent). If this cologne is NSFW (Not Safe For Work) than NOTHING is safe for the office. Apply liberally—it won't offend anyone.
Top Notes Bergamot, Star Anise, Rosemary 
Middle Notes Lavender, Geranium Leaves, Cloves 
Base Notes Vetiver, Gaiac Wood, Patchouli
Polo Red (2013)

I love this juice!  Sadly, it lacks in sillage and longevity.  In these regards I wish it were like Ralph Lauren Chaps Weekend (2009), a scent already discontinued.
    Top Notes  Red grapefruit, Italian cedrat, Red cranberry 
    Middle Notes Red saffron, Lavandin, Red sage     
     Base Notes Red wood, Amber, Coffee berry

I want to like Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme. The ingredients seem to be perfect—on paper. But it smells like rancid popcorn oil to me for some reason...and I'm talking about before I apply it to my skin. I still wear it. Perhaps I can't smell what so many ladies love.

I have several other colognes as well but they haven't made The McCallister List.

The Bible makes mention of fragrances often:
"Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. (Exodus 30:23-25 ESV)

Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women-- (Esther 2:12 ESV)

your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
(Psalms 45:8a ESV)

I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
(Proverbs 7:17 ESV)

A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed. Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all choice spices-- a garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits. (Song of Solomon 4:12-16 ESV)

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11 ESV)

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:3 ESV)

Okay, look: as a chaste never-married man I tend to steer clear of the Song of Solomon; some of that Near Eastern poetry paints a pretty, uh, graphic word picture! Still, fragrance/scent is a powerful part of the human experience, even our spiritual quest.