Posts made in May, 2015

Sip or Gulp?

Sip or Gulp?

How do you drink your coffee? More than the additives you may use, consider the quantity and pace with which you consume it. I tend to take my time to sip while I read or socialize, but my slow pace results in cold coffee. Recently I had dinner at a restaurant with a new friend who made an interesting request of the waiter. “Could you just bring me a half cup of coffee? I drink slowly, and if I have a full cup it gets cold.” He was happy to comply and I gained an unexpected bonus, a way to enjoy coffee and avoid those final tepid swallows. I’ve tended to be the same with my Bible reading—slow and methodical. I’ve enjoyed writing in the margins and a spiral notebook. But every time I’ve attempted this, my life got crazy somewhere around spring, and by early summer I was woefully behind. In the past, I’ve attempted several solutions. I’ve set aside an entire weekend and read on and on, covering dozens of pages, making few notes and catching up, but with a sense of speeding down the interstate and missing the sights. I did more on those marathon sessions to get it done, than to absorb the message. I’ve also skipped ahead to get back on track, knowing that over the years, I’ve read the entire Bible many times. This coffee comment paralleled a decision I’d already made. Having a half cup meant hot coffee wouldn’t be rushed. This year when I decided to read through the Bible, I got realistic and set myself up for success. By starting a month early, on Thanksgiving weekend, I planned thirty-five extra days to make time for going slower and still finishing. Some sip. Some gulp. What will you do...

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The Reusable Filter

The Reusable Filter

Before my individual pod coffee maker took over my morning routine, I used a standard, inexpensive twelve-cup machine. One year I decided to save a tree, or maybe just a limb, and got a reusable coffee filter to replace the paper ones. My Bible is like that—reusable. I’ve read it year in and year out for decades and it still works to filter the brew in my soul. The Spirt of the Lord works through it to keep out the stuff that shouldn’t get into my cup of life. The more I used the coffee filter, the more I began to see a gradual stain build up. The more I read my Bible, the more I became aware how little-by-little stains of uncleansed sin accumulated, tainting my attitude so subtly that without careful examination, the residue remained even while blatant sins were held in check. Jerry Bridges wrote a wonderful book called Respectable Sins. It was a wake-up call to attend to the overlooked and often excused sinful attitudes and behaviors in life. I discovered that each rereading jolted me back to self-reflection. In a similar way, thoughtful, rather than hurried, Bible reading opens my eyes to things in my life I overlook. The wake-up from a cup of coffee is like our “good morning” from the Word of God. Continual use of the same filter will catch the debris of life. But cleaning a reusable filter is also a reminder of the need to be purified inside. If you don’t have a filter to prompt you, consider other repeated cleaning tasks—like dishes or laundry. In Hebrews we’re encouraged to “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience.” What’s the reusable filter in your...

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Do They Know You at the Coffee Shop?

Do They Know You at the Coffee Shop?

I have a dear friend who regularly gets coffee and sometimes a breakfast sandwich at the same place every workday morning. For many years she has purchased and given away little “pass-along” cards that have words of encouragement and blessing. Usually she writes a note on the back and, when she knows the name of the individual, she personalizes it. Over the years this small gesture has given her the opportunity to sow hundreds of small faith seeds into the lives of people in all kinds of places. Because of this act of caring, she’s formed casual friendships with them. The coffee shop isn’t the only place she leaves her cards. Grocery stores, the local bank, restaurants and other locations are ripe for moments of personal connection. As a result, the people who work in these places have come to know and trust her—they look forward to getting these tokens. One told her, “I still have the first one you gave me.” Another said, “I have all of them.” Then she let her see where they were displayed in her work area. She’s an amazing example of finding a way not only to share the love of Jesus, but to demonstrate that these people matter to her. One time a person commented, “This is a great ministry. How did you come up with the idea?” God gives each of us ideas we can use to spread His love in ways suited to our personalities and lifestyles. As Colossians says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.” Think about it today. What can you do to sow the love of God into lives around you?...

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Another Cup, Another Day

Another Cup, Another Day

Does your routine wake you up or wear you out? Whether you rise early or late, how you start your day affects the way it goes. Most of us have times that we look forward to, even if we admit that the best part is arriving home from work and relaxing in a favorite chair with a hot or cold drink of our preference. Few of us escape the boundaries that we create with the patterns in our lives. When I reflect on the habits I indulge in, I discover a mixture of things I find pleasure or benefit in. A few are stumbling blocks I succumb to when I’m weary or bored. Because I’m an early morning person, I relish beating the sun up and waking before it’s light outside. My pre-rising pattern has been consistent for years. Before I turn on the light, I say internally or aloud the familiar words, “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” That one thing helps set my heart and mind in a good place. Then I make coffee. Although at times I’ve chosen to forego it, coffee remains a morning ritual. I enjoy the pool of light my reading lamp makes, positioned so it shines over my shoulder onto my Bible or book I’m reading. I use a plain spiral notebook to jot down thoughts about pertinent passages. I even write down questions I have. Afterwards I go for a long walk in my neighborhood, continuing to think and pray about the day and people who are part of my life. I return and go to work. Another cup on another day represents the rhythm of my life. There’s richness in my ritual. How do you start your...

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Pieces

Pieces

My mother gave me a special coffee cup for my birthday years ago that had a handle shaped like two open hearts. Over the years I’ve received many gifts with that emblem because of my Valentine birthday. But I treasured it because it was from her and was decorated with my favorite design—hearts. Several years later, I made coffee and searched for it, but couldn’t find it. I asked my husband who said he had no idea where it was. A few days later, while sweeping the kitchen, the broom flicked a fragment of the handle from beneath the edge of the cabinet. I picked it up and set it on the counter. When he came home, I showed it to him. Sheepishly, he admitted he’d dropped it and disposed of the evidence, hoping I wouldn’t notice. Unimportant to him, irreplaceable to me. In a similar way careless acts and critical words shatter heart bonds. In the moment of offense, the wounded person might appear uninjured, leaving the offender oblivious. Once the two go their ways the pain pushes to the surface, ruining established trust. Left unrepaired, the relationship might end up discarded. Although I love to encourage people, sometimes I’ve blown it and said stupid, hurtful things. The New Testament says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” When I blow it, I clarify my offense, admit it and attempt to make amends. When I detected a rift in a friendship, I try to repair it, following his example. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. What do you...

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