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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Correspondence on Alcohol

Today, I Twittered about a Theology of Scotch fundraiser I am hosting for Kalein in Franklin, TN. The Twitter updated my Facebook page and I received a personal message. The correspondence was great and I asked this mom's permission to reprint it for all of us to learn.


God has gifted you with an incredible anointing to take people by the voice and lead them into worshipping at the feet of the Lord. You've been so blessed with skill, with creativity, with intelligence and I want to thank you for sharing those gifts with us.

I am hoping that you might take a moment and think about something that's been on my heart lately. A lot of people have you on their Facebook. Their kids, relatives, spouses, all read your communications.

Here's the hard part, John. I think, that maybe if you'll review your comments over time, you might see a pattern of commenting a lot on alcohol use, which IS NOT, in and of itself something bad. We are free in Christ to do many things, some of which are profitable, some, not so much.

Kids, John . . . they look UP to you. There are people, spouses, kids who read what you write every single day, but really struggle with drinking and it's almost like your stamp of approval makes it ' ok " for them to do the same. Remember . . . kids are followers.

I know you don't want to be a stumbling block for them, or anyone. It's just that it seems to overwhelm your comments from time to time and I'm not sure that's the kind of emphasis you really want to put on life...that it's better with drinking in it. Just food ( or drink ) for thought from someone who cares very much. Maybe ask a pal to look things over and get their thoughts?

We love you!



First off, thanks for your concern and the kind way you expressed these thoughts. Hopefully, I will respond with the same kindness and care. I’m a big fan of words . . . they mean something. If anything doesn’t sit right, please call me at (xxx)-xxx-xxxx. As always, written words without non-verbal expression and emotional context leave room for error.

My father is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who is now a Jesus lover. (Other family as well). I have seen the hell people unleash with abuse. I grew up watering pot plants and recycling Coors cans to make extra cash—they were my “chores.” I’m no stranger to the danger. It sounds like you might have some experience as well? At least, we share similar concerns.

I’d like to cautiously examine something you said and hopefully give you some insight into my world. Specifically, “I'm not sure that's the kind of emphasis you really want to put on life...that it's better with drinking in it.”

In all honesty, I enjoy fine food. I enjoy smoking a pipe from time to time. And, I enjoy a good drink. I like these things with friends and family and I also enjoy them by myself. I am a connoisseur of wine and a student and aficionado of scotch. I believe wine is agricultures finest artistic achievement. I am thrilled by the stories of Scotland, the process and history of what was once referred to as “Aqua Vitae—the Water of Life.” I teach small groups and lead fundraisers on, “Theology of Scotch.” I enjoy it. And, though it might be dangerous to say, “life is better with alcohol” I would be lying if I said I didn’t believe some of these things are the fine enjoyments of life.

I do understand my responsibility. As a teacher. As a pastor. As a role model. And, quite frankly (though I am careful to use this term and do so only in this context with you), an influencer of larger than average scope. You are perceptive and correct about the influence.

One thing my brothers (and the alcoholics I minister to) often tell me is they appreciate my stance and my ability to use my influence to give people a good example of what it looks like to enjoy alcohol responsibly—to enjoy without abuse—to celebrate without sin. Perhaps this is one of the reasons Jesus turned water to wine as his first miracle. He turned perception on it’s head. Some might argue it was “grape juice” or weak wine but, make no mistake, in John 2 we read a clear story of the “kind” of wine he supplied. “ . . . the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." (John 2:9,10)

You are completely within bounds to raise question or concern and start conversation. I appreciate that. It is not my goal to convince you drinking is okay since that is not what you asked and you clearly stated it, “IS NOT, in and of itself something bad. We are free in Christ to do many things, some of which are profitable, some, not so much.”

Hopefully, my response is helpful to you. From time to time, you will hear me comment on wine, beer, and especially good scotch because it is part of who I am as an artist and enthusiast. They don’t define me but I am known as a go-to person by many on the history and enjoyment of these things in a responsible manner. I even lead a small group on scotch at Westwinds called, “Aqua Vitae” where we learn about scotch and talk about Jesus, the real Water of Life.

This week, I will be in Nashville teaching about the Theology of Scotch with some theologians, artists and scholars as a fundraiser for an artist development center. I am establishing a great relationship with some in the scotch community as I learn from them and, in turn, teach others a biblical perspective. Many of these men and women are not believers and they are thrilled and expectant about what we are doing. Please pray for me.

I talk to many kids, adults, addicts, enthusiasts about the dangers of alcohol and what it looks like to enjoy these things God created without destroying lives in the process.

If you want to talk further, I would be more than happy to. Thanks for showing your concern in a loving way.


P.S. I would love to reprint this conversation with you as a blog post and leave your name out of it if you wouldn’t mind. I think this is a great conversation and the world needs to see us talking responsibly and lovingly about it. Is that okay?

I'm so thankful for your insight, John, and you've presented views that encourage thinking. My own father was an alcoholic/drug addict who committed suicide, and my own son, now 20 has battled both addictions since he was 14, so I share the history ( and the pain )there. It's probably my " mom " parts kicking in that perhaps causes me to take more notice of the topic ( and the fear) at hand.

I do pray for you, friend, and I am very aware of ( yes, it's ok to use the phrase ) your position of influence. God put you there, and you humbly submitted to the call. We are very grateful and blessed for that.

Feel free to use any part of our correspondence, in whatever way might bring vision and clarity to an often murky subject. Although I am not a wine aficionado, I truly enjoy cooking with wine! The flavor is just not duplicated any other way, but honestly you would NOT want to see me drink a glass or two. LOL ( Never could handle it, and become most ridiculously funny). Call it low tolerance, or what you will.

What would be TERRIFIC to read, are some insights from what you're doing behind the scenes!

Thank you so much for sharing your story, your hobby and your insight.
You are prayed for, brother.

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