Jul 19

Beans of Bitterness

If you were in church last Sunday, you know I stepped on the “third rail” – coffee; particularly Starbucks. If I recall correctly, I said “I can’t stand Starbucks.” You can hear it for yourself at http://vimeo.com/100642331 (start listening at 8:40 in the sermon). As I said, I prefer Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Tim Hortons. Even Cracker Barrel. Even (shudder) Waffle House.

But the thing is, I have a regular appointment on Wednesdays with O.R., who absolutely loves Starbucks! And I’ve been going there, week after week, drinking that (to me, undrinkable) stuff and holding out (until recently) that I didn’t really like it. How would my brother react now that “the cat was out of the bag”?

Last Wednesday, when I arrived at our appointment place, the first word out of his mouth was to offer a change of venue from Starbucks. I thought that was very kind, but I was a little embarrassed. I’d only mentioned my distaste for Starbucks to make a point. I could drink tea if I wanted to (except for the fact that isn’t it only Oprah, English-Types and women that drink hot tea?). Besides, we’ve been meeting there for months now; the employees know us and they also know that we’re “religious people” of some stripe. Who knows where that could lead? We decided to keep on meeting together at Starbucks.

And then – the unexpected happened. I took a big sip of my coffee, expecting to taste the same bitterness that I’d been contending with for years. And it was gone. It was smooth, mellow and bold, all at the same time. Could it be true? Could I actually be developing a taste for Starbucks? I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad.

Then I realized what had happened. I had changed the way I doctor my coffee. Just a little bit; but apparently just enough. The key, for me, was one more packet of Sweet’N Low. In a large cup, I now put three instead of two. Made all the difference in the world.

According to the apostle Paul, “. . . the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit . . . Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” Romans 14:17,19.

So while I’m very happy in the knowledge that I now qualify to drink overpriced coffee, I’m pleased even more to have a brother who thinks enough of my comfort that he is willing to make a change.

Jul 18

What Time Does Worship Start?

By Barry Chambers

Last Sunday the topic of when worship starts was discussed. It made me think of a friend that every Sunday when worship begins, he is in the pew meditating on God. No matter the commotion around him, he keeps his appointment with God. Another friend prepares his mind for worship every Sunday by listening to songs of praise in the car while he drives to the building.

I’m sure we have all asked the question, “When does worship start?” Those who arrive early for services sometimes use the time to visit with friends, peruse the bulletin or set up for class. There are others who are perpetually late but I digress.

When does worship start for you? Another way to look at this is, when does worship end? One purpose of worship is to help edify others according to Hebrews 10:24-25, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” We do this in a united and organized fashion as an assembly, but when the service is over is our worship over? I hope this is not our attitude.

Let’s not stop worshiping God when we pull out of the church parking lot. Our daily lives should be viewed in context of our worship to God. If you only see worship as the time you spend in the building, I challenge you to expand your definition to include your daily walk in life. Sing songs of worship to Him during the week, pray continually, read His word, and give glory to God in everything you do.

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