Posted tagged ‘Folgers’

Trends and Leadings

January 27, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      January 27, 2016

                                       

Sunday evening, around 7:00, Carol and I entered the Target store a mile from where we live. We went there to find a certain item, but left with five…none of which qualified to be the one item we were looking for. As we entered the store, squarely in the middle of the aisle was an enormous rack of Denver Broncos t-shirts. Less than three hours after the team’s AFC title game victory Target latched on to a fan frenzy. I doubt that Target stores in the other 31 NFL cities had Broncos shirts front and center on Sunday. Lord knows Boston didn’t!

Target identified a trend…”Bronco-mania”…and made it a part of their store identity, at least for a few weeks. Most assuredly, they will sell hundreds of shirts to people who are drawn to orange and blue color combinations like bugs to a zapper!

Trends are a part of our culture. Remember bell bottom jeans? Remember eight-track tapes? Those of us who are old enough…bought into those trends. Many of us, although we begrudgingly admit it now, had “pet rocks!” Every Sunday morning when I open the newspaper there is a thick pile of advertisements that trumpet what the trends are.

People look for trends and follow. I’m sitting in a Starbucks right now writing this. When I think of coffee I now think of Starbucks, because I’m a “coffee snob.” I walk right past the  Folger’s in the supermarket, even though it is much cheaper, and head for the Pike Place. Folger’s is an antiquated trend from my parents’ day.

In essence, trends come and go like the wind. Trends lead us, but also mis-lead us.

How often has the church bought into a trend? Although most churches have bought into the trend of brewing better coffee, I’m not really talking about dark roast, lattes’, and decaf now.

For instance, we bought into the trend of convenience and started having worship services on Saturday night. I’ve got nothing against Saturday night services, but the idea behind them was to give people more choices in order to get them in church. Interestingly enough, despite more options worship attendance has dropped. That is, the typical church member attends less often than he/she did a few years ago. Making it convenient does not necessarily make it a driven need for a person’s life.

Disneyland is seen as being a place that kids become starry-eyed about. A lot of churches bought into that trend and tried to make their children’s ministry a Disneyland with Jesus. I’m sure that there has been some success in various places with that, but there has also been places where kids who come each and every week come out of that time in their life still fairly ignorant of the Bible. As their parents sought meaning in the worship gathering their kids were being entertained and slightly discipled in their age group gatherings.

I sound like a cynic! In some ways I am. From my cold perch it seems that the church has great confusion when it tries to distinguish between a leading of God and a trend of culture. When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray he could have been paraphrased with the words “Lead us not into the temptations of being trendy, and deliver us from evil.” Scripture talks quite often about someone being led by the Spirit. Leadings are not always events that lead to happiness either. Jesus was led to the cross by the leading of his Father. Ultimately, that pain became our gain.

I’m wondering if there are more leadings outside of the church rather than inside the church. Let me rephrase that! Could it be that God is leading his people outside the walls more than leading them to do something trendy inside the walls?

Mission has always been grounded in the leadings of the Lord. Programs, however, get joined at the hip with trends.

Perhaps this year…2016…could be a year that we pray for leadings…and stirrings…even a whisper!

The Pop-Fast

May 17, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                May 17, 2014

 

                                              

 

To be honest I’ve already cut back in recent weeks!

But I’m going cold turkey for a week. No soda pop, soda water, Coke, water with sugared fizz…whatever the term is that you use to describe that can in your hand that you just popped the top on.

A week doesn’t seem like much…when you are on Hour #1 of Day #1!

Day #4 in the evening when my wife has just popped some popcorn is a different matter. I was raised with the idea that popcorn could not be eaten without having a cold Pepsi at the same time. It’s the difference between eating a plain hot dog, or a dog with mustard, ketchup, and relish on it.

Hot dogs…there’s another item that I probably need to fast from!

In recent weeks I’ve been thinking more about what I eat and drink. I have a coupon for a free chicken salad at Chick-fil-A to be used this month. I think about that each day at lunch time. It would be a lot healthier for me to have for lunch than some other choices.

What did I proceed to do last week? Used a “buy a Whopper, get one free” coupon one day. Take a year off my lifespan right there! I did get the “Satisfries!” They are “less bad” for you! Notice the terminology we use to justify our bad choices.

The next day I did Panda Express. For some reason Panda seems healthier than Burger King. I’m not sure it is, but I rationalized, and I was hungry when I was rationalizing.

I did penance the next morning and had yogurt with a “cutie”…the orange kind, noy my wife!

Choices! I make them every day. Some days the choice that helps the health of my body is easy. Other days I’m humming the McDonald’s jingle more and more as lunch approaches.

Back to “the pop!” I’m laying off!

I know that it will be a item on sale this coming Memorial Day weekend at the supermarket. I’m even laying off filling my shopping cart with eight cartons each time I go. My daughters remember a Thanksgiving weekend when pop was on sale at K-Mart and I went about ten times during the weekend and got five cartons each time.

I’m going on a “pop-on-sale fast” as well!

I heard one of those statistics on how much sugar we put in our bodies, and the fact that in a few years one out of every three children will end up being diabetic. Perhaps I heard it wrong. It WAS in the midst of the promoting of a new “Wake Up” kind of documentary film. It did, however, catch my ear.

I’ll start with pop. The test for me is whether I can stop putting sugar in my coffee. When I started drinking coffee back in seminary during a semester I was taking Hebrew (An agonizing experience that resulted with my learning how to drink coffee much more than knowing the Hebrew alphabet) I retrieved from my memory bank how a person drinks coffee. My parents drank it each morning with cream and sugar. Thus, that’s how I began drinking it. Perhaps I should go back to drinking Folger’s black. It’s a fairly weak coffee experience anyway!

This week, however, I’m pushing the Sprite to the side. A benefit will be a reduction in the bill when Carol and I go out to eat. I’m so used to getting a Coke or a Sprite that I have barely noticed that most restaurants now secretly take you for two and a half to three dollars. Good Lord! Sheltered Bill still thinks that’s how much a beer is in a restaurant.

For those who are wondering, I dislike beer as much as I love soda pop! I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a Baptist, the son of Baptists, a Baptist minister, or because I simply abhor its taste. 

If you see me in the next few days and I’m looking ragged you’ll know why. I’m coming off a “sugared lifestyle.”

But one question! If I’m fasting from soda pop is it okay to drink something different out of my Coca-Cola glasses, A&W mug, or Orange Crush tumbler?

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.