Posted tagged ‘coffee’

Last Stool On The Right

June 13, 2018

There are certain habits in our lives that bring comfort and consistency. They are the frame that support the structure of our life. Like the links of chain for a playground swing, habits bring a swaying rhythm to our life.

One of my habits involves a stool, a laptop, and an early morning cup of coffee. Where I write my Words from W.W. blog almost without exception occurs at the Starbucks in Colorado Springs on the corner of Union Boulevard and Briargate Parkway from the last stool on the right, facing out with a view of Pike’s Peak. It is where I ponder, create, and edit, sometimes slowly and other times at a frenzied pace.

Kathy Buchanan, who is one of the writers for the Focus on the family long-time series, Adventures In Odyssey, sits on the last stool on the left with six stools between us. We joke with one another about our ingrained habit for our writing. When someone is in one of OUR spots we give a look of dismay to one another.

“You going to be able to function today?” I’ll ask her. She sighs deeply and replies, “I’ll try!”

MY stool is the launching pad for discovering. It’s even come to a point now where some of my friends know where they’ll be able to find me at 7 A.M. on mornings I’m not substitute teaching. Some days my writing takes a series of breaks for stop-by conversations. My stool, however, draws me back to why I’m there.

I sip the coffee as I search for the right word. A second sip is required when I’m slow in figuring and finding. My third cup means I’m approaching the finish.

Jim Ryun, the famous track and field miler, once said “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going!” My stool is my habit.

Baristas and The Bible

May 12, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      May, 12, 2018

                                

It feels a little bit like “Baptist Mom Guilt” (BMG) is being laid upon me, and yet there is sad truth to it!

In The American Bible Society’s 2018 State of the Bible, Barna Research announced that 37% of Americans say that coffee is a daily necessity for them. The Bible was viewed by 16% as a daily necessity. Between java and Jesus were “something sweet” (28%) and social media (19%).

I’m feeling an altar call for repentance! I’m sitting on my usual last stool on the right at my local Starbucks as I write these words! I know the names of my baristas better (Cody, Rhea, Sara, Katie, Steph, Chase, Viv, and Kallie) than the order of the Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, ehhh…)! My Keurig gets more use than First and Second Kings!

I too often fall into the category of those who say, “I’ve heard it all before!” I admit that there are times I look at my Bible like it’s a replaying of It’s A Wonderful Life. Nice, heartwarming, great story, and…flip it over to the Kentucky basketball game and see what the score is?

Surprisingly, my generation and the generation older than me are the two generations more likely to say coffee is needed. Baby boomers (47%) and those 75 years of age and older (46%) put the dark roast as the best part of waking up. Millennials and Generation X are both in the low 30%’s. 

What is even sadder (Hear the BMG again!) is the plethora of Bibles of different versions and reading levels that are available. Go to a Mardel’s and there is a long, floor-to-ceiling, wall of the Word! There’s Bibles for seniors, youth, single people, divorced folk, people in need of healing, military, moms and dads, young couples, and pentecostals. There has been market saturation of scripture, and yet for more and more folk it’s lost it’s appeal, kind of like Rocky 7. 

And I guess if there’s going to be change it needs to start with me! Am I willing to pray for the centrality of the Word of God in my life? Will I allow my spirit to sip through a couple of Psalms today just as much as my Pike Place medium roast? Will my Bible speak to me today as much as this morning’s barista, the warm and friendly, Cody? Will I be as concerned about what God would reveal to me in Philippians today as I am about getting the right mixture of cream and sugar in my brew? 

As the patronage of Starbucks increases the interest in scripture decreases. Barna found that the percentage of people who said they wished they would use the Bible more is lower than it has been in seven years. 

The interesting thing that I’ve noticed at Starbucks is the number of people who read their Bibles here while sipping on a latte. I’ve noticed groups of three or four engaged in bible study. Maybe in some weird way a coffee shop can be a “brewing ground” for increased use of those leather-bound books of God’s story!

I’m pulling out my iPad right now to take a couple of gulps!

(Statistics from Lifeway Facts and Trends, May 11, 2018)

The Last Stool On the Right

January 21, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              January 21, 2018

                               

I sit on my stool this morning drinking my Pike Place medium roast and staring out at the snow flying past the window. The storm obscures my usual view of Pike’s Peak, but there is still a sense of peace in the scene in front of me. My earbuds bring soft music to my ears and I sip my morning brew with an attitude of gratitude about God’s hand of grace and abundant blessings.

The last stool on the right at the Starbucks on the corner of Union and Briargate Parkway is my sacred place, or perhaps better phrased, my sacred seat! Some spiritual pessimists may question my choice for where I sense the closeness of God, but I’m okay with that…as long as they stay off my stool! Strange as it may sound, it is from this perch that I have my deepest spiritual ponderings and quiet (with music in my ears) moments with God. Perhaps I should call it “Coffee With Jesus”!

Each one of us needs our space, but we too often neglect to look for some sacred space. We minimize the urgency of holy whisperings in the midst of the culture’s noise. As I sit here this morning God brings people to my mind even as I’m pecking out the words of my blog post.

Ray Stromenger, having a heart procedure tomorrow…my dad passing blood in his urine…one of the young ladies I used to coach in basketball, Autumn Boyles, who torn her ACL in her game last Thursday night…Diana Stucky, who I know will be dealing with a health condition she has in the midst of the change in weather we’re dealing with…my niece, Jennifer Graham, recovering from surgery…Henry McIntosh, in his journey of loss as he grieves his wife’s passing…our neighbor’s, the Nash’s, who lost their eighteen year old grandson back in late October…Nate and Alyssa Price, celebrating the birth of their son. The longer I sit here the more names and faces keep passing through my mind, many because of the down moments of life, but some because of the mountain top events they are shouting about.

Psalm 16:11 says “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence…”

 

That Psalm is referred to as a “miktam”, a term that many believe is unclear or untranslatable, but some believe it meant that the Psalm attached to it was of such importance that it needed to be engraved in the hearts and minds of the ones saying it.

I sit in his presence experiencing the quiet joy of the morning, and reciting those words once again…”You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”

My sacred spot usually runs through three cups of coffee, one blog post, about fifteen recorded songs, and then it’s time to journey back to the rest of my day. It’s an intimate time, oddly enough, in the midst of a gathering crowd of coffee drinkers.

I’ve warmed the stool for the next journeyer as God has warmed my soul. Amen.

Outsmarted By A Coffee Cup

November 14, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                               November 14, 2017

                                  

It used to be that I was in the top forty per cent of intelligent people in my household, depending on which of the kids were home! Things have changed. Since Carol and I are empty nesters I’m in the bottom half of “smarts.” Even more than that, however, we have been accumulating various devices, appliances, and controls that are smarter than me. If I was a middle school student I would qualify for special educational services due to how low I am on the intelligence testing chart.

This morning I noticed that Starbucks has a ceramic coffee cup that can be programmed to keep your coffee hot. It connects to an app on your cell phone…note the name! Smart Phone!…and assures you, through the use of WiFi of a constant sipping of hot brew. It uses WiFi! I don’t even understand WiFi, but this coffee cup does! If I decide to purchase one of these mugs my coffee cup will be smarter than I am! It allows you to choose the temperature that you desire, the time you would like it hot, cooks dinner for you, figures out your taxes, etc…

I enjoy the convenience of my smart devices, but also miss the old days when I knew I was higher up on the IQ meter; the days when I knew I was more intelligent than my rake, shovel, broom, and…, okay…well at least my rake, shovel, and broom! Oh, and also the big rock that I would put in front of the door to hold it open! I was smarter than a rock!

To make us feel good about ourselves we keep a dumb toaster oven around. It can’t seem to figure out when the toast is burning. I was warming up some tortilla chips yesterday and they ended up looking like a picture of an Old Testament sacrificial burnt offering! Who would ever have thought that I would feel a bit better about myself as a result of charred tortilla chips?

The world is a smart place populated with an abundance of moronic people. I now shy away from devices or areas that make me feel like an idiot…a list that seems to be growing rapidly. If the cable TV goes out I exit the room and pretend to be unaware of the problem. If our programmed thermostat seems to be off kilter I just leave the house for a while. I avoid conflict, especially with devices that don’t want to cooperate.

I’ve got my eye on the ceramic coffee cup still. I’m intrigued. It’s slowly drawing me into the possibility of convenience. The question, however, is what would I do with my thermo-plastic coffee mug held together with duct tape that I’ve sipped from for 25 years? The coffee has always seemed to taste better from it.

Jesus Coffee: Part 5

July 15, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       July 15, 2016

                                

I waited for an explanation. Jesus looked at me and then he said, “Everyone is wrong at one time or another. There is a difference between being wrong about a decision, or even an action, and being wrongly evil.”

“Explain a little bit more for me.”

“When you said those words to your wife that were insensitive and hurtful you knew that at the core of your being that you were wrong. If you lied to someone that is a wrong that can be righted through confession and repentance.”

“I sense a ‘but’ coming.”

“However-“

“Okay, cross me up with a however!”

“However…there is an evil that needs to be identified for what it is. There is a wrong that needs to be called for what it is…pure evil.”

“Like?”

“Racism is pure evil.”
“So a racist is someone who is pure evil.”

“No…a racist who is COMPLETELY close-minded is pure evil. Someone who is a racist but can be brought to a point where he or she recognizes the wrong of their position is different.”

“And when you encounter that what do you do? Throw some holy water on the person, hold the cross in front of you and say “Be gone, Satan!”?

“You recognize evil for what it is, and the wrongness that it brings to the world. There are some people who have sold out to the Deceiver. I wish there was a nice way to put it, but there isn’t.”

“Here’s a hard question then. If I have a longing to be loved at the core of my being what’s to keep me from yielding to the wrongly evil in order to be loved?”

“Great question! You must remember who the Lover of your soul is. The Deceiver is the lust-er of your soul. Your Father God is the Lover of your soul. Intimacy with the Lover of your soul is the greatest protection against the lust-er of your soul. Distance from the Lover raises your vulnerability to being swayed by the lust-er.”

“That sounds like a delicate balance.”

“It can be if you allow it.”

Our time was ending. The temperature of my second cup of coffee had dropped to lukewarm.

“You need to go, Bill?” Jesus asked.

“Yes, it’s time to get on with the business of the day. There’s that word again…business…busyness.”

“Be safe. Let me know when you want to share a cup of Joe together again. You know I’m always available.”

“Yes, Lord!” I got up from my seat and said to him, “You know I love you, don’t you?”

“Yes! I know…and I will always love you even when…you forget!”

Jesus Coffee: Part 4

July 13, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         July 13, 2016

          (Parts 1-3 of this ongoing conversation can be viewed at “wordsfromww.com”)                                      

                                  

I brought the cup with a new rising of steam back to the table and sat back down in my chair. “You didn’t need anything?” I asked Jesus.

“No, I’m fine.”

“Where were we?”

“You were looking inside of yourself and making a discovery. You said you believe that at the core of your being is the longing to be loved.”

“Yes, I’m not sure that is my final answer, but I think that hits on it. I long to be loved.”

“So what do you think that means?”

“I think it means I have a need to be seen as a person of value, to be appreciated, and to belong.”

“And on the other side of things, perhaps you do not want to be considered worthless, cast aside, and hated.”

“I guess that is a fair summary.”

“And in saying you long to be loved…you have hit on what is at the core of most people.”

“Do I get a gold star or a tall trophy?”

“No, but you do get to come to that point of understanding that may help you as you journey forward.”

“A trophy would help me remember more.”

“Sorry!”

“But go back to what you said a few minutes ago. Authenticity is the convergence of who I am with who people say I am.”

“Right.”

“There are a few people that I know who don’t really care for me. How does that play out with who I am?” If I have a longing to be loved, why don’t I get along with everyone?”

“A simple answer…because of the fallen nature of the world. Perfection in our relationships went out the window with the arrival of sin.”

“And a more complicated answer?”

“You’re screwed up most of the time.”

“Thanks! That doesn’t sound complicated, that sounds harshly matter-of-fact!”

“Well, you see, Bill, that longing to be loved that is at the core of who you are, often gets pushed to the side by the longing to be right. Being right carries a spirit of superiority in its backpack.”

“But what if I am right and the other person is blatantly wrong? Am I to just ignore what is wrong?”

“No and yes!”

“Don’t give me that, Jesus. Didn’t you once say “Let your yes be yes and your no be no?”

“Glad to see you’re familiar with my sayings. What I’m saying is that when there is a wrong the righting of the disagreement should be the healing of the relationship, not one person being superiorly right and the other being humiliatingly wrong. Ever had a disagreement with your wife?”

“Sure, many times over!”

“Do you remember the resolving of the disagreement and what happened?”

“Yes, I usually gave into her.”

“I doubt that. Do you remember a time when the two of you were in different corners of an issue and you came together to a common understanding, compromise, or even a place of forgiveness?”

“Yes, I remember a time when I said something to her that was totally insensitive and she lashed out at me.”

“And what happened?”

“I apologized.”

“But there was something else that happened in the midst of that. You sensed that you had wounded her deeply. She has a need to be loved just as you do, and you knew that you had bruised her at the core of her being.”

“You’re right! I was ashamed of what I had said, and I longed to turn back time for a few minutes and have the scene played out in a completely different way.”

“You longed to make the relationship whole again, didn’t you?”

“Absolutely! And after I apologized about what I had done to her I just wanted to hold her.”

“You longed to be loved by your lover again.”

“And that’s why that moment stands out in my mind so clearly. I remember that coming back together, that reconnecting after the forgiveness and healing…the grace she showed me that was not deserved.”

“But what if the other person is blatantly wrong. You said not to ignore it.”

“I did.” He looked at me with a hint of sadness and paused.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

Jesus Coffee: Part 3

July 12, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            July 12, 2016

                                        

(This week “Words from WW” is a continuing coffee conversation between W.W. and Jesus. To read Parts 1 and 2 go to “wordsfromww.com”)

“Pharisees for Jesus…you’re right! It doesn’t flow out of your mouth like Jews for Jesus.” I took a sip of my coffee that had lost its steam.

“Kind of like ‘Criminals for Christ’! The only attention it draws is not positive attention.”

“Bigots for Baptists!”

“Turn or Burn Peace Advocates!”

“Pentecostal Prostitutes! I guess there are a lot of titles for groups that it’s just as well that they don’t exist.”

“Exactly! Let me ask you a personal question.”

I hesitated even as I was saying okay.

“What name or title would people give to describe who you are, or, better yet, to describe what you’re about?”

“Wow! That’s a little deep, isn’t it?”

“You must have some idea.”

“I guess I haven’t really thought about it too much. It’s not one of those things that occupies my mental pondering.”

“Maybe not, but it’s a question that you have based most of your life on.”

“How so? If I don’t think about it how do I base my life on it?” I recognized that I asked the question with a bit of indignation in my tone.

“What I’m saying is that most of what you do and what you say arises out of the unspoken question you hold inside of you. That is, how do I want people to see me? If I want to be seen as a jerk the things I say and do spill out of that. If I want to be seen as a saint I consider my words and actions accordingly.”

“Wait a minute, Jesus! If what you’re saying is true where is there true authenticity? What is my true self if who I am is based on how I want others to see me?”

“In other words, what is at the core of your being?”

“Yes, I guess so.”

“And is your core being described with the same words that people describe you? That’s how you know whether you are living authentically or not.”

“Yes, I think that would be correct.”

“So if you don’t know who you really are it’s impossible to live authentically?”

“Well, impossible is not a word that is usually associated with you, but I’d give a qualified yes to that.” I had a sense of fear about where this conversation was going, about what I might HAVE to discover about myself.”

“So who are you when no one is looking? What do you think, what do you say to yourself, what do you hope for? Here’s another defining question! What is the longing of your soul?

“Good Lord, Jesus! You keep asking me even more questions that are hard to answer.”

“Knowing who you are happens to be a journey powered by reflection.”

“I’m…I’m a person who longs to be loved.”

“Is it hard to say those words?”

“They sound so simple, so uncomplicated, and yet…yes, it’s hard to say them.”

“Would you like to get a refill before we go any further?”

“Absolutely! I need another cup to help me move ahead.”

(TO BE CONTINUED)