Coffee With Jesus…Fifth Cup

Posted July 19, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Faith, Humor, Jesus, Pastor, Story, The Church

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    July 19, 2014

 

                                   

 

I brought a clean coffee cup with me today to drink some java with Jesus. I have a heavy population of coffee cups in my life. Today’s mug-of-the-day features a Far Side cartoon on the outside that reminds me of the funnier side of life.

“I like your coffee mug,” Jesus says as we sit down.

‘It’s a Far Side cartoon!”

“Yes…I can see that!”

“And you like it?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because Far Sides can sometimes be a little…what’s the word…borderline irreverent.”

“That’s two words, and I usually laugh out loud at Far Sides, or, what’s the term? LOL!”

“OMG! Jesus using social media terms!”

“Excuse me, Billy Dean! But people take themselves too seriously too often. Perhaps there needs to be more LOL moments in people’s lives. The last time we chatted we talked about what makes your soul sing. My guess is that laughter is music for your soul.”

“Yes, usually! Not laughter at the expense of someone else, but laughter that comes out of life moments.”

“Far Side moments, so to speak.”

“Exactly! Moments that give me a glimpse that I’m still child-like.”

“Being reminded that you are a child of God.”

“I don’t want to say I’m totally sure on this one, but I’d like to think God has a sense of humor.”

“Why would you think he doesn’t?”

“Because he’s God!”

“He created aardvarks, didn’t he?”

“Good point.”

“…and prune juice!”

“Another good point. But prune juice is good for you.”

“But prune juice is disgusting…even to me.”

“But it shows that God has a sense of humor?”

“Hey, there’s a lot of jokes related to prune juice.”

“As long as you’re not the one drinking it!” I look down at my coffee mixture. I would never have thought that I’d be talking to Jesus about Far Side cartoons and prune juice.

“Remember when I asked that question back a few cups of coffee ago…how is it with your soul?” I give a nod of recognition. “A soul that echoes that it is well is a soul that allows itself to laugh.”

“Let me understand this a little bit, because you’re not necessarily talking about an audible chuckle or uncontrollable laughter.”

“Sometimes they emerge in those ways, but I’m talking about when you allow the presence of the Holy to delight you. Does that ever happen?”

“To use an analogy, kind of like when a Far Side cartoon grabs you for a moment. It’s a brief experience in…surprise.”

“Ahhh…surprise! That’s an interesting word to use to describe it. There was a book written a number of years ago entitled Surprised By Joy.”

“C.S. Lewis.”

“Yes. It seems that our conversation has brought us back a ways to some of the experiences of his life.”

“It’s quicker to summarize a far Side cartoon than a book, Jesus.”

“Perhaps the laughter of the soul is not so much about quickness as it is about contemplation.”

“Kind of like a cup of coffee, not to be gulped, but rather sipped.”

“Or a fine glass of water that’s been turned into wine!”

“As opposed to a glass of prune juice that you want to get down as quickly as possible.”

“A disturbing image for the mind, Bill!”

 

          TO BE CONTINUED

Coffee With Jesus…Fourth Cup

Posted July 16, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: Bible, Christianity, Faith, Freedom, Grace, Jesus, Pastor, Prayer, Story, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        July 15, 2014

 

                             

 

I look at Jesus for a second before returning my focus to the refilled cup in front of me. “It feels funny to be drinking coffee in front of the Son of Man while you remain caffeine free.”

“I don’t mind. I’m not a big coffee drinker. Probably goes back to the brief time I spent drinking Egyptian coffee. That brew could put hair on the Holy Ghost!”

“Does the Holy Spirit have hair?”

“It was simply an expression of exaggeration, Bill. I have been known to think big.”

“I guess so.”

“Think of the feeding of the 5,000. Why twelve baskets of leftovers…ever ask yourself that question?”

“Because of the twelves tribes of Israel?”

“Some think that, but I simply wanted to over-do it because the people, to begin with, couldn’t imagine God supplying their needs…let alone having stuff leftover.”

“So…back to this joy thing we were talking about…you asked me why I desired a joyous soul?”

“Yes, I believe I did say something like that.”

“I guess I struggling to find an answer. Is it because that’s what we were always taught in Sunday School…you know the song, “The joy of the Lord is my strength…”

“Yes, I’m familiar with it. Although when your congregation sings it my teeth chatter.”

“Why so?”

“They are a little rhythm impaired on the clapping.

“Jesus, we’re Baptists. Anything resembling dancing or music with a beat, we’re a little off…like a toddler trying to walk.”

“Let me ask you this. Do you think having a joyous soul is like eating fruits and vegetables- something that you’re told to to because it’s healthy?”

“No…I don’t think so.”

“So…going back to the question…why do you desire a joyous soul?”

“I was just asking you to help me figure that out. You’re the know-it-all at this table.”

“You’re the one who can begin to discover the answer.”

“I think…I think it was part of God’s design in our creation. I think he wants me to live out of a soul that is joyous. Even though I often wonder why he allows certain things to occur and other things to not be I don’t believe he desires for us to live out of a bitter or sorrowful soul.”

“Is it something you have to convince yourself of each day? In other words, it isn’t natural for you to know that your soul is joyous?”

“That’s a tough question, but “yes”, I think I have to convince myself each day. Perhaps it’s because the cynicism of the world has invaded my soul and weakened it to my desire for the things of God.”

“Fallenness leaves bruises, cuts, and wounds.”

“That’s for sure.”

“There’s another song that comes to mind…and your congregation actually sings it well. Some of the words include “Then sings my soul…how great thou art!”

“Yes, that’s a great hymn that seems to draw in the whole of me.”

“Perhaps, like music, desiring a joyous soul is comparable to finding that new song that your “whole” self can sing.”

“Does this mean learning to play the guitar?”

“No…no! I’m using music only as an analogy. It’s about what causes your soul to sing.”

“A topic for another cup?”

“Yes. You sip, I’ll observe.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Coffee With Jesus…Third Cup

Posted July 11, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: Bible, Christianity, Community, Faith, Jesus, love, Pastor, Prayer, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   July 11, 2014

 

                                       “Coffee With Jesus…Third Cup”

 

“Refill?”

“Why not? Helps the pain get swallowed.”

“Let’s talk about joy.”

The shift startles me for a moment. The look I give Jesus reveals my surprise.

“It’s okay to experience joy, you know.”

“I know…I know, it’s just that it doesn’t rise to the surface of conversation very often. There always seems to be a problem to focus on, a difficulty to voice concern about, someone’s disgruntlement.”

“Well…let’s talk about joy!”

“I don’t know where to start.”

“How do you experience joy? Let’s start with that.”

“All you can eat jumbo shrimp.”

“Come on! You can do better than that.”

“How so?”

“That’s a craving you have produced by your taste buds. Let’s get to joy.”

“Jesus, you make it so difficult.”

“…when you prefer it to be easy?”

I pause. “Yes, probably so.”

“Most of life is spent “taking it easy”, so to speak.”

“What brings me joy…my kids, my grandkids, my wife, and even a 93 year old man named Rex.”

“What about them brings you joy?”

“The things they say, the things they do.”

“Don’t other people their ages say and do the same things?”

“I’m sure they do.”

“So perhaps the things they say and do are a ripple effect of what brings you joy. The joy comes from the relationships you have with them.”

“I suppose so.”

“Could it be that the relational joy you experience with them might simply be a delightful shadow of the joy your soul experiences when it is conversing with our heavenly father?”

“I’ll have to take a sip of coffee and think about that one.”

“Understand what I’m saying. My father created you and everyone else to be relational. The delight you experience when your grandkids make you chuckle is a small expression…and experience…of the joy that echoes out of your intimacy with God.”

“Then why don’t people talk about that more? Why do most of my conversations, especially in church, deal with solving problems, budget demands, and people’s warped view on life?”

“You live in a world of pessimists who, given the choice…to use a Biblical phrase, would choose to return to Egypt rather than go forward into a promised future.”

“Because they were familiar with Egypt.”

“ For some people history looks more glorious the further away you travel from it.”

“So how do I help others focus more on joy than sorrow?”

“This isn’t another “how to” problem to add to the agenda.”

“Okay, how should I phrase the question then?”

“Ahhh…another “how to” question rephrased slightly!”

“Sorry…it comes from living in a age of manuals, and “Dummy Guides.”

“Let me encourage you to begin with you!”

“How so…I mean, explain!”

“Instead of worrying about others, which as a pastor you’re ingrained to do, what about yourself? Why would you desire a joyous soul?”

 

TO BE CONTINUED

Coffee With Jesus…Second Cup

Posted July 10, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: Christianity, Faith, Jesus, Pastor, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       July 10, 2014

 

                                   

 

I stare at the coffee that has been altered with a dose of cream and two sugars. I admit to myself that I prefer my cup of coffee to be this color rather than the original pouring of brew.

“You’re right!” I whisper across the table to Jesus. “When it comes to coffee I don’t think of it in any other way than with the add-ins…the disguises, as you say.”

“How easy it is for that to be interpreted as the norm. Likewise it is easy…perhaps inevitable, for things of the soul to get mixed in with the distractions of life to the point where a person can’t distinguish between the two.”

“Help me understand!”

“For instance, on the sleeve of your coffee cup there is an advertisement for a kind of tea. The woman who is promoting the tea, it says, is inviting people to take a few moments to pause and reflect each day. Notice that there is even a web site to go to. Do you see the name of the web site?”

“SteepYourSoul.com!”

“So suddenly drinking a cup of tea gets equated with the caring of your soul.”

“Perhaps it’s some powerful tea.”

“And many people will believe it. As they sip it they will assume that it is satisfying their souls.”

“I sometimes feel that way about church on Sunday.”

“Say a little more.”

“Don’t get me wrong! It’s not bad, but sometimes…many times…my soul doesn’t get touched, poked, or breathed into.”

“Aren’t you the pastor?”

“Yes! Sad, isn’t it?”

“Why do you think that is?”

“Back to the interrogation questions again, are we?”

“Just helping you discover again.”

“I think…I think it’s perhaps because we confuse the cream for the coffee. It’s getting back to that idea of knowing what the essence of something is and what are the disguises.”

“Keep going.”

“Come on! You’re Jesus! I’m just telling you what you already know.”

“And I appreciate it.”

“So most of the things that I lead the congregation in doing in worship dance around the King…without ever dancing with the King. I don’t know if that makes sense or not.”

“I love your use of images to explain what is hard to verbalize. Staying with that image, perhaps dancing with the King is too intimidating because the dancer is afraid she will step on the King’s toes.”

“Dancing from a distance.”

“Dancing around the purpose, without dancing with the purpose.”

“I often feel guilty because…I’m leading the dancing around the purpose.”

“That’s quite a burden to shoulder.”

“And you know about carrying burdens.”

“Let me suggest that you let me carry that one, also.”

“I’m not very good about surrendering.”

“Not many people are.”

 

TO BE CONTINUED

Coffee With Jesus

Posted July 9, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: Bible, Christianity, Community, Faith, Jesus, Prayer, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    July 9, 2014

 

                                       

 

   The steam rose from the mug of coffee and disappeared in the air. I sat facing him and wondering how our conversation would flow.

“I was surprised you would meet me here, Lord.”

“You can call me Jesus. I don’t mind. In fact, I think I prefer it.”

“Oh…well…okay…Jesus. That sounds a little strange, but I’ll try to get used to it.”

“Would you prefer that I call you Bill…or Subject?”

“Subject?”

“The other end of the spectrum from Lord.”

“Bill is fine.”

“So Bill, what’s going on in your life?”

“A lot…church work…our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary coming up…grandkids…just a lot of stuff.”

“How is it with your soul?”

“What…my soul…that’s a hard question to answer. It would be easier to start with something simpler, like whether or not I think the Reds will make the playoffs in baseball this season?”

“Something that doesn’t dig as deep?”

“Something less painful.”

“Is talking about your soul a painful topic to explore?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I’m a pastor. Like the song, it is always suppose to be well with my soul.”

“But it isn’t.”

“No. Sometimes it’s like steam rising from the cup, inviting and comforting; but other times there is no steam left. The lukewarmness penetrates to my bones.”

“Why do you think that is?”

“Jesus, you know. Why do I even have to tell you?”

“So you can discover what you are afraid to say.”

“That much of my life feels like a playground merry-go-round…that is always moving but never going anywhere.”

“That’s a powerful image. What is the picture that you wish your life would show?”

“I don’t know. It’s easier to describe how it is than what it should be.”

“Why do you think that is?”

“Didn’t you just ask me that question thirty seconds ago?”

“And you started to answer it.”

“I guess it goes back to this cup of coffee. I’ve always had my coffee with cream and sugar. I add enough of each to the point that I miss the essence of what gets poured in the mug first…the coffee. I’m guessing that my soul gets disguised with other “stuff’ to the point that I don’t know how it is with it.”

“Wearing disguises protects us from what we’re afraid to find.”

 

                               TO BE CONTINUED

Painfully Alone In Our Thoughts

Posted July 7, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: Bible, Christianity, Jesus, Prayer, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       July 7, 2014

 

                                  

 

Recently released findings from a University of Virginia psychologist indicates that most people are extremely uncomfortable being alone with their thoughts. Tim Wilson recruited volunteers for the research- mostly college students-  from a church and a farmer’s market. Each person was placed in an undecorated room and asked to be alone with their thoughts for fifteen minutes. Many of the participants admitted afterwards that they had cheated during the time frame and checked their cell phones or listened to music.

After an initial fifteen minute period participants were asked to do another fifteen minutes, but this time they were given an out. They were hooked up to an electric shock. If at sometime during the fifteen minutes they wanted to be done with being alone with their thoughts they could self-administer the electric shock to themselves and they would be done. Of the participants “67%” of the men went for the electric shock rather than be alone with their thoughts. of the women 25% administered the shock.

Amazing, that so many would choose the pain of an electric shock over the uncomfortableness of being alone with their thoughts.

It also may say something about our reluctance to seek quiet. Quiet threatens, so we “self-medicate” ourselves with music, social connectedness, and cell phones. Think about it! A traumatic experience for many people is having their cell phone broken and having to go through a full day without it. As I’m writing this I’m listening to music on Pandora to help me focus.

How did our grandparents ever make it? They must have had to hum a lot!

For me as a Christ-follower there are other implications. How will I hear the whisper of the holy if it chooses to not come through my headphones? How will I see the burning bush if it doesn’t come through a lap top screen?

This is a quandry, a challenge, and an opportunity for me. I’m at the beginning of a month-long study leave. To call it quiet time would be too threatening, and, to be honest, not as productive-sounding. Not many people see a month of quiet reflection as being valuable.

Listen! I’m not necessarily comfortable with it either. If the button for the electric shock we close at hand I would might it numerous times.

I’ve come to believe, however, that I serve a God of quiet moments in a world of noise. It is often in the silence that he entertains and tames my thoughts, and reigns in my tendency to race forward like a wild pony.

The Fellowship of the Hats

Posted July 5, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: Freedom, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                  July 5, 2014

 

                               

 

     A few minutes ago I left a breakfast that a group of men from our church had at a local restaurant. We were gathered on both sides of a long table…yacking…telling stories…razzing one another…stretching the truth like taffy.

On one side of the table were a row of hats placed in extreme orderliness on four heads. They weren’t just any kind of hat, but rather hats signifying the military service of the wearer.

One was worn by a Vietnam Vet who was in the Army. An Army brat himself, he served his country well in the midst of a difficult confusing war.

Two of the hat wearers were Navy vets who served during World War Two and the Korean Conflict. One had been on a destroyer in the middle of the Pacific. The other had spent most of his time in an iron lung in San Diego, after being diagnosed with polio. His willingness to serve his country was trumped by the illness that took the lives of so many.

The fourth head wore a hat telling of his service in the Air Force. He learned Russian at a time when the Cold War was heating up. It was at a time when Americans and Russians listened to one another, albeit by intercepting messages and other spying techniques.

The four men has served their country for the cause of freedom, sometimes not understanding it, sometimes in harm’s way, sometimes at a distance.

As we ate our eggs and bacon I found myself being extremely appreciative for sitting at the same table with them. They had laid their lives on the line for people like me.

Yesterday we celebrated 238 years of independence. There is a large fellowship of the hats that has offered headwear of protection for our nation through generations past and present.

Sometimes we fail to appreciate the magnitude of freedom until we hear of regimes in other parts of the world who do not believe their citizens are entitled to it. But freedom for our nation is a foundational principle. It is why we became a rebelling population that risked everything for independence.

The fellowship of the hats is to be honored and treasured and saluted. Our hats are off to you.


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