Posted tagged ‘caffeine’

Coffee With Jesus…Sixth Cup”

August 4, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    August 4, 2014

                             

“It’s been a few days. Have you abstained from the caffeine?”

“Just been busy,” I replied to the Messiah. “Things have been…you know…crazy!” The two of us hadn’t gotten together for coffee for almost two weeks. “I’m sorry! I’ll try to get back into a regular coffee time with you.”

“You don’t need to apologize.”

“Well…I know you’re always available, and here I am taking two weeks to get together with you. I feel a little embarrassed about that.”

“Get over it!”

“Okay…so you’re saying my sin is taken care of.”ht

“Do you think it was a sin?”

“I’m assuming so. It seems that if I’m feeling a little guilty about something that there has to be sin lurking somewhere underneath it.”

“Could it be that it’s more about how you’ve been conditioned…how you were raised…what the church taught you growing up? Things like that.”

“So you’re saying that I’ve been conditioned to feel guilty?”

“In some ways. Were you told growing up that you should be at church Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night?”

“A few thousand times. You know the saying, Jesus…if you go to church on Sunday morning, you love the pastor…if you go on Sunday night, you love the church…but if you go on Wednesday night, you love the Lord.”

“So when you miss spending time with me you start wondering if you really love me?”

“Yes…it comes back around to that again.”

“Why do lovers of God think performance is so important? Why can’t they rest with an assurance that they are in love with the Lord, and the Lord is in love with them?”

“And when you say “they”…you’re saying “me?”

“Good catch.”

“Because we’ve…been conditioned that way. I’m operating out of a mindset that says this is what it means to be a good Christian boy. It’s hard to break out of that understanding. It’s almost like I feel I’m betraying my roots, all the people who invested in my life.”

“So, to put it bluntly, you’re more conditioned by your culture than transformed by God.”

“Wow…that was pretty blunt. And it’s dead on. To use a rough example…it’s kind of like when I eat oatmeal now. Growing up we always put graham crackers in our oatmeal. The other day I was at Starbucks around breakfast time and I decided to get a bowl of oatmeal. Do you realize that Starbucks doesn’t serve graham crackers with their oatmeal. They give you raisins and nuts to put in it. I protested…to myself…that this wasn’t oatmeal, but since I paid $2.60 for it I went ahead and ate it. Do you know something? It was pretty good! But I had to break out of that “conditioned understanding” of what oatmeal is.”

“You put graham crackers in your oatmeal?”

“Yes.”

“That is weird! And you call yourself a Christian!”

He gave me a slight grin.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

Coffeed Out!

September 26, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        September 25, 2013

 

 

     My office does not have Folger’s in it, but it does have a mountain of other caffeinated aromas. I could supply a finals week for a whole college campus. My office is so caffeinated I’m thinking of putting in barista stand. I’ll call it a “Baptrista stand!”

I’m starting to feel like a coffee-hoarder. I can’t even go to a hotel and not put the little in-room personal coffee packs into my suitcase before I leave. I have some still from when Jimmy Carter was president.

Today I finally finished the Starbucks Christmas Blend bag! That might give you an idea of how many bags of coffee beans I ordered last Advent.

Lo and behold, just when I thought I saw an opening on the coffee shelf my nephew and his wife from Baltimore sent me a pound of Zeke’s Coffee beans, a special blend called “How ‘Bout Dem O’s!” His message to me written on the back of the bag was, “Uncle Bill, thought you could use a little pick me up. Enjoy this playoff push blend!”

     The Orioles were eliminated from the picture the day after I received the gift. Do I return the bag to him? Do I keep it until they make the playoffs? Will Jesus return sooner than that happens?

Right before the bag of Zeke’s showed up I had a two-pound bag of Guatemala blend coffee beans from Starbucks given me as a gift from someone who borrowed something. I’m thinking of starting a Central American section in my office. Besides Guatemala, I’ve got coffee bag flags from the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Mexico. I need an entry from Panama to start a Coffee Fantasy League.

I have a four-cup coffeemaker in my office, sitting right beside the latest Keurig. I’m thinking of getting an espresso machine so it could be like a Java trinity- a cappuccino between two coffees.

Each one of us has those areas in our lives that could be classified as “EXCESS.” We seldom like to come clean and admit it, but truth is truth. Coffee and books are my excesses. My cholesterol is high, but not excess.

Recently we got water in our basement and realized that we have a lot of meaningless excessive junk downstairs. A wet basement sometimes gives you new perspective! Does anyone really need that many Christmas ornaments? Do we really need the treadmill that now has thirty shirts and blousers hanging on it like…Christmas ornaments?

I’ve committed myself to not buying any more bags of coffee beans or Keurig pods until my mountain has been shaved down to a hill. It might take a while, but I invested in a huge box of “Sugar In the Raw” to help me conquer.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering if we should bring the coffee ministry of the church to a new level. Maybe get some t-shirts and personalized coffee cups. I have to be specific in the purpose, however, because some might interpret being a part of “The Brew Crew” to mean something different.

Lord, Give Me Rest!

June 10, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   June 9, 2013

 

Resting is something that not many of us do well. We live at such a hyper-pace that resting seems weird. It seems…useless!

For example, I hear so many commercials for a drink called “Five Hour Energy”. The essence of the commercials seem to be about a man who has trouble waking up in the morning, or runs low on energy in the afternoon, and he drinks a 1.93 ounce bottle of Five Hour Energy. Rest is chased away.

It could be just if you are tired…you just might need to rest!

Starbucks has made a mint off of people who can’t rest.

God knew what he was doing when he called for a Sabbath rest. He knew what he was doing when he commanded his people to observe a “Sabbath Year” (Leviticus 25:1-7) to give the fields and vineyards a year of rest.

When we don’t rest we’re prone to error- error in judgment, error in actions, error in the things we say and the temptations we’re vulnerable to fall to. And our lives are so hectic that even when we do slow down we have a hard time resting. Three or four years ago I took a one month study leave. I found that it took me the first two weeks to get out of work mode in order to slow down to meditate, pray, and study. As I sat on a couch reading my mind kept thinking of things that suddenly seemed urgent…like checking to make sure all the windows were closed and whether the oven got turned off. I had a very difficult time just slowing down.

Oddly enough, one of the reasons I’m trying to write a blog post each day for thirty days is because it makes me sit down and focus.

This week take a walk that has no purpose to it except walking and praying.

Sit down in your living room and leave the remote control where it is. Don’t touch it. Just sit for a few minutes.

Sit on your front porch, or back deck, or even in the front yard and just watch and listen.

Take the Bible and read one of the psalms…and then read it again…and then read it again. Slowly, meditatively, allowing God to make certain words stand out.

Go to bed early and read a book. Not a murder mystery, but a biography or something like Lake Wobegon Days.

Eat dinner at a snail’s pace. Make sure there is a couple of nights this week where the calendar is free in the evening, and eat a slow dinner together with your family.

It’s Sunday evening and I’m ready for bed at 7:11. It’s been a work-filled day. My Sabbath usually comes on Monday.

Lord, give me some rest…and let my weary body be renewed.

Coffee Follower

April 29, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                April 29, 2013

 

It started when I was in seminary. One semester I made the foolish decision to sign up for Hebrew. I knew how to say “Shalom” and “Kosher” already, but thought I would be more spiritual if I could say a complete sentence in the Hebrew language. Hebrew agreed with me about as much as a late night taco pack from Jack-In-The-Box. In the midst of trying to figure out how the weird looking letters I started going out to a 24 hour restaurant near campus with two of my classmates, Steve Wamberg and Steve Shafer. We studied our Hebrew flash cards and drank coffee.

The coffee stayed with me, but the Hebrew didn’t.

The coffee began slowly…cream, sugar, and a little coffee with it. I was an Folgers follower, which is kind of like being a Chicago Cub’s fan…the flavorful moments are few and far between, but the person doesn’t know any better. Folgers was it!

I followed Folgers for a number of years, accumulating coffee mugs to wrap around the product. Once in a while there would be a cup of Maxwell House thrown in, but not often.

Then I discovered Nescafe Instant coffee, and my commitment to Folgers was compromised.  There was something about putting those glimmering coffee crystals into my mug and seeing them disappear, unlike the unsightly coffee grounds, as the hot water filled the cup. Nescafe was the bomb!

But bombs don’t last! My caffeinated spirit soon was enticed by Gevalia, which offered a free coffeemaker when you became a new customer. I was drawn in like a Black Friday slobbering shopaholic waiting outside of Best Buy for a half-price blu ray player.

Gevalia may have forced me to grow as a coffee follower more than anything else, because a new shipment was coming to my office every two months. If I didn’t drink it fast enough I was going to have to build a coffee warehouse for my excess. Sometimes commitment comes because we’re forced to go to a deeper level of consumption.

Drinking coffee became a natural part of me, a part of my routine. Saturday nights as I put the finishing touches on the Sunday sermon, I would go through the McDonald’s drive-thru and get two large coffees…two creams and two sugars in each. If McDonald’s would have had a power outage I’m sure the Sundaty sermon would have been adversely effected. It was a sermon prep superstition- two large coffees from McDonald’s. Like the opening prayer in worship, McDonald’s coffee was required for the routine.

After a few years we moved to Colorado Springs and I was introduced to an actual coffeehouse called Pike’s Perk. I started paying close to two bucks for a large coffee, but every tenth cup was free! What a deal! When I didn’t think I could drink any more coffee I discovered that I had another coffee gear that I could crank my fluid intake to. The quicker I consumed the daily featured medium roast the faster I could get to my earthly reward of a freebie! Pike’s Perk took me to a new level of different types of coffee. My coffee education deepened. I learned about Kona and Blue Mountain. I couldn’t believe that I had let myself settle for Folgers all those years. I was now devout, experienced, someone who could tell the difference between bad coffee and heavenly brew.

But then I discovered Starbucks! To begin with it seemed that Starbucks was too bitter, too strong. I reacted against it, like an environmentalist protesting off-shore drilling. Then someone gave me a Starbucks gift card. Like a free ticket to a Dave Matthews Band concert, it had to be used. Saturday night McDonald’s became a distant memory, like a percolator.

I started using my GPS to find Starbucks in unfamiliar cities I happened to be passing through. Once I jumped over a fence to get to a Starbucks in Prince George, British Columbia.

I look at my journey from late night pretender to consuming follower. I’m reading Onward by Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, about how the coffee giant fought for its life without losing its soul. I’m sure it will bring some new kind of sustenance to my java journey. Perhaps I’ll be able to get back to the root of the different blends.

Who knows what the next step of my pilgrimage will be! I look at all the old mugs in my office that remind me of my past.

It’s interesting how coffee has infiltrated all of my life. It has enabled me to write sermons, keep me awake in the midst of dull conversations, given me something to hold on to as I drive to an appointment in Denver. What would I do without coffee?

STOP! Now I want you to ponder what I have just written, but replace coffee with Jesus. I am a Jesus follower, who happens to like coffee. I confess that I did jump over a fence in Prince George, but please know that I would climb a mountain for Jesus.

Sometimes there are things that we allow to take priority in my life. Interests become obsessions. Likes become imbalanced behavior. A liquid substance becomes a requirement.

I strive after a Jesus who is in love with me. Hard to believe, I know! Coffee stains and all, he still allows me to be identified as a follower.