Coffee & Worship

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I drew this for the series because this is how I feel some mornings.

This is the first of some week-long experiments where we take something ordinary and see if we can use it to Worship God, grow as Disciples, encourage Fellowship, and practice Outreach.  And the first thing that springs to mind is the writer’s best friend — coffee.

The History of Coffee

Did you know:

  • Coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed his herd acted pretty excited after eating a certain kind of berries.
  • Coffee beans aren’t beans at all, but are the seeds inside a kind of cherry.

One of the main focuses of this blog is to grow a passion towards making your relationship with God a part of every moment of your life.  That’s why I started “Project: Always & Everything”,“an every growing list of unique, interesting, exciting and challenging ways that we can meet God in our daily lives and practice keeping Him Always involved with Everything we do.”

So in keeping with that idea, I want to brainstorm a bit about coffee and worship.

Worshipping Coffee

For some, drinking coffee is an act of worship — not one focused on God, but in fact worshipping the ever-so-delectable-bean itself.  Think about it.  Worship is to give honour, reverence, regard, homage and sacrifice to someone or something regarded as sacred.  Now run your attitude for coffee through that matrix.

  • If you don’t have coffee for a few days, how do you feel?
  • Do you pursue coffee as a necessary part of your day?
  • How much time, effort, energy and money to you sacrifice for coffee?
  • How do you celebrate coffee in your life? Do you have a sanctified chalice (special mug)?  Do you have any consecrated garments to celebrate your object of worship (any clothes with coffee on them)?
  • When you wake up in the morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, filled with longing and desire to roll that first, hot, delicious, sip across your lips and past your long waiting taste buds — is it an act of emotional worship?
  • Is coffee the first thought on your mind in the morning, and your source of energy and inspiration throughout the day?
  • Is your coffee an idol?

Worship With Coffee

Yes, coffee can become an idol, but can drinking it also be an act of worship?  If we approach coffee remembering that God created this world full of amazing things to enjoy but not worshiped (1 Corinthians 6:12-13, 19-20), have our hearts focused on God in thanksgiving and prayer (Ephesians 5:20, 6:18), then I believe we can redeem our coffee time and make it an act of worship.  How?

  1. Make God your first thought in the morning, and then thank Him for creating things we can enjoy, and even use to perk us up for His service – like coffee!
  2. Do an idol check now and again by not having coffee for a time (a week, a month) to be sure that it is not controlling you, and you are not dependant on it.  (Here’s an infographic about caffeine.)
  3. Thank God for all the people, from harvest to processing to delivery to the store clerk, that worked hard to get that coffee into your hands.  You may want to (strongly) consider drinking only fair-trade coffee.
  4. Have coffee with your Father.  Capture the time you take drinking that first cup as a time to simply be with God.  Not rushing around, not dumping it into a to-go mug, not even during your bible-study time.  Just take that time to talk things over with your Father in Heaven.

What about you?  Have you ever worshipped at the altar of the great bean?  Can you think of ways you can connect coffee and worship?

Should Christians Give to Panhandlers?

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Helping the homeless (2905921539)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is Outreach Thursday, and this question comes up a lot, so let’s tackle it first.  Should a Christian give money to panhandlers?

This is a complex issue.  On the one hand we have the divine compulsion and inward desire to help those who need our assistance (Matthew 25:31-46, Luke 6:27-36), while on the other we worry that our generosity will be misspent on things that are more harmful than good (like drugs or alcohol).

So what should we do?  After some reading and talking to experts, I’ve concluded that giving cash to people on the street is not a good way to help them.   The best way is to support local programs (InnerCity, Food Bank, etc.) which are designed to serve their needs, and have the expertise to deal with those who seek to abuse the system.  I talked to one inner city program leader who said he wishes people would give less money to panhandlers so they would be forced to participate in the programs set up to help them best.

That said, I remember a time when a young, pregnant woman stopped me in the parking lot of the Home Depot and asked me for some money so she could buy a burger at the McDonalds.  Did I send her away to find an official program?  No, I gave her enough to buy a combo.  Did I follow her to make sure she got the burger?  No.  Do I regret giving her the money?  No.  Would I do it again?  Yes.

I believe that we must be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt 10:16) in these matters, and that means educating ourselves about local poverty issues, encouraging our churches to support local programs, and praying for wisdom so we don’t fall prey to those who would abuse Christian charity.   However, when faced with an ‘extreme situation’ like the young woman at Home Depot, we must trust the Holy Spirit within us and err on the side of generosity.

What do you think?  Have you thought about this before?  How have you helped panhandlers and homeless people in the past?

Gossip Kills Fellowship

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English: Loose lips might sink ships -- a post...

I am compelled to write my first “Fellowship Wednesday” post about what I believe is the most poisonous thing to a fellowship of believers — gossip.

As pastor of a former church I spent time in the office meeting with people.  One day a man came in for a chat.  On the way out afterwords he said, “Oh, I probably shouldn’t tell you this but…”.  And I stopped him cold.  “Then don’t tell me.”, I said.  He persisted, “No really, I shouldn’t tell you this but…”.  So I said, “No really… don’t tell me.” and started to walk away.  He walked after me.  I started running.  He started running after me yelling, “I shouldn’t tell you this… but I want to tell you!!!”.  I literally ran him out the door trying to avoid gossip!

Gossip is deadly.  It destroys trust between people and therefore kills friendships.  If left alone it can cripple ministries and destroy good leaders.  I hate gossip, and so does God.

I’ve been around the effects of pervasive gossip among believers, and it breaks my heart.  Most of us know how much it hurts to be talked about behind our backs, the damage it can do to a community, and how much it grieves God, but so many still get caught up in it.  It’s like Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels…”  Sometimes we’re in the middle of the conversation, and half swallowed the morsel, before we even realize what we’re doing!

I think part of the reason is that we don’t know what gossip is.  Let’s take a look at what scripture says it is:

  • Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence…”  Anytime someone shares something they heard privately, it is gossip.
  • Proverbs 16:28 – “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”  Anyone sharing information to embarrass a person, cause division in a group, or harm a relationship is gossiping.
  • Proverbs 26:20 – “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” Anyone sharing a problem that is already being (or has been) dealt with is gossiping.

Romans 1:29 (among other places) says that gossip is evil.  A strong fellowship must be free of gossip.  If you find yourself around gossip, take a page out of Joseph’s book and just run away from it.  Let us all be careful with our words and to bring our concerns to God first, and then to the person we have an issue with. More info here. 

What about you?  Are you a gossip?  Have you been gossiped about?  How far have you gone to avoid gossiping?

Discipleship Fundamentals

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I’ve always loved watching and playing sports.  And anyone who does knows that there is one word phrase that pervades all sportsdom — “We’ve got to get back to the fundamentals.”

If our team is on a losing streak, the answer is always getting “back to the fundamentals.”  If you are practicing, you spend time “working on the fundamentals.”  If you go to training camp, or a draft, do you know what they look for?  “The fundamentals”.  They are where everyone starts, and what everyone must master.

That being the case, what are “the fundamentals” of discipleship?  Sometimes, just like when I was playing baseball, I start to get too fancy with my Christian walk.   Instead of simply trying to learn more about Him, and making space for God to speak, I try to get fancy by reading a lot of books, trying exotic prayer techniques, moving around different locations, or trying to multitask by doing devos while working out, driving, or doing the dishes.

Not that any of that is bad (in fact, my earlier article was all about meeting God in every part of our lives) — it’s just that fancy techniques can be distracting and sometimes cause me can drop the ball.

So my challenge over the next while is to “get back to the fundamentals”.   What does that mean?

  • To allow God to inhabit every part of my day.
  • To read less scripture, but meditate on it more.
  • To find a regular place and time to pray.
  • To come to church simply to meet God there.

What about you?  Do you struggle with the fundamentals?  Do you ever get too “fancy” with your spiritual life?  What ways can we “get back to the fundamentals”?

Multifaceted Worship

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“And behold, I am with you always…” (Matt 28:20)

Connecting with God in a meaningful way is so much more than sitting in a quiet room with your hands folded, head bowed, eyes closed.  Relating to God is unlike any other relationship in your life, and the ways you can meet Him in your daily life are nearly unlimited.  This blog intends to explore as many of those ways as possible.

Do you believe that you can have the presence of God with you throughout your day?  Can you use any of these words to describe your relationship with Him?

  • Authentic
  • Meaningful
  • Interesting
  • Exciting
  • Thoughtful
  • Emotional
  • Omnipresent
  • Intimate
  • Challenging
  • Personal
  • Friendly
  • Passionate
  • Worshipful
  • Joyful
  • Needful

Or is your relationship to your Creator and Saviour limited to fifteen minutes in the morning and evening, and a prayer before you eat?

Have you ever wondered if there could be more to your spiritual life?  There can.  Let’s explore how together.