Often the coffee maker in the workplace is the common place for socializing. While pouring a cup of caffeinated fuel there is talk about the big football game on Sunday, sharing vacation plans, some are brave enough to discuss politics and/or religion and have lived to tell the tale. (not recommended)
In the same way the coffee maker at church is a place where friends catch up on each other's lives while a few may feel compelled to share the height and depths (and some bologna) on weighty spiritual matters.
So imagine the buzz around the coffee maker in HEAVEN.. a little over 2000 years ago when God's plan for ‘saving’ mankind was revealed?
SETTING: It was just another day at the 'office' when Larry and Betty meet at 'Heaven's Coffee Maker' for their morning cup of Joe.
Larry the Angel: "Hey Betty, did you hear the latest about the plan the boss has for saving the world?"
Betty The Angel: "No, so what's up?"
Larry the Angel: "Well rumor has it, Jesus Christ will come to earth as a child born of a virgin in a barn and sleep in a feeding trough for animals. His birth will not be proclaimed to the world, but to .. get this.. shepherds." And a few smart guys from the east.
Betty The Angel: "Shepherds? .. right."
Larry the Angel: "No really it's true. , and Jesus will be raised by a common carpenter and his wife" and for the next almost 30 years in rural Israel.
Betty The Angel: " Good one Larry, and so being a carpenter.. he will then build his father's kingdom." LOL.. Get it?
Larry the Angel: "I know this sounds bizarre, but I heard it all from a very reliable source. And that's not all. Next, Jesus will choose 12 men to assist him as key members of his kingdom
Betty The Angel: "You mean like a presidential cabinet of sorts? Made up I imagine of priests, rabbis, maybe a few influential politicians, and some sort of minister of defense would seem
Larry the Angel: "No, .. they are mostly fishermen."
Betty The Angel: "I see.. fishermen... So far we have Jesus born in a barn in obscurity except to shepherds, his critical years of development to be the King and Savior are spent as a carpenter instead of seminary?
Larry the Angel: "I know, I know.. but that's not all. Next Jesus will take on the established religious community. He will challenge, and mock their pious rules and their motives.. which of course flies like a politically incorrect Lead Balloon."
Betty The Angel: "Well if this is true, then what else could they expect. Now who is it you said you heard this all from? You were not talking to Cliffy from the mail room again were you? I know this is Heaven, but Cliff is full of it."
Larry the Angel: "No Betty it wasn't Cliff, it was from a very reliable source. Now be quiet for a minute and let me finish.. then you can let your jaw drop to the floor... because there is more."
Betty The Angel: [ Betty motions that she is zipping her lip and smiles.. in silence ]
Larry the Angel: "All of this leads to a final week when the salvation message is realized. Jesus in this unconventional plan lulls the leaders of the day into .. falsely arresting him, mocking him, he is beaten and whipped to the point of death. Then to a jeering crowd he is lead up to a hill where he is crucified as a common criminal while being rejected by the people he came to save... JUST THE WAY HE PLANNED IT ALL ALONG."
Larry the Angel: Of course Jesus will not stay dead. He will rise from the dead, but not everyone will witness this.. and so believing in Jesus, and accepting his free gift of salvation will be a matter of choice and it will require a personal faith in things not seen.
Betty The Angel: [still silent, Betty stands with her arms crossed]
Larry the Angel: "That's it Betty, believe me or not.. that is the God's honest truth (no pun intended)." <pause> "Ok, now you can speak."
Betty The Angel: I don't know who put you up to this.. but I would NOT tell these wild tales to anyone else... This is all CRAZY TALK.. and I have better things to do with my time. Next time you learn anymore 'Revelations' .. get it in writing on God's very own BLESSED executive stationary!! Next time.. you should consider your sources before swallowing it all hook line and sinker.
Betty walks away shaking her head. Larry refills his coffee cup and heads back to work perplexed why Betty did not believe him.
Ok, it may not have played out like this, but the story of Jesus life from the virgin birth that first Christmas and his 30 years on Earth culminating with his resurrection from the grave is God's beautifully unexpected story of salvation.
So next time at work when you are getting your coffee refill ponder the great news of God's salvation plan that began that first Christmas.
ps - Share the Good News!
Jeff ( a lot lower than the angels) Larson
Lukewarm Coffee (The LWC) is that Twiligtht Zone coffee existence between hot and cold brews where a well intended piping hot cup is forgotten or ignored. And last I checked, Starbucks does not feature LWC anywhere on their menus. Nor is there a coffee target market serving drab people wearing old sweats, doning bed hair, with a 2 day beard eating plain white bread from the bag who is demanding luke warm coffee.
NO ONE wants lukewarm coffee, though I have .. it is GOOD when I have a headache and I spot a half a cup of LWC sitting around from the morning to wash down two Excedrin.
Also note this concern of LWC is a big enough that God speaks 'directly' to the topic in Revelations where the angel of the church of Laodicea exclaims..
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (like a cup of room temp generic instant decaf coffee using a non-dairy creamer and a sweetener substitute). Revelations 3:15-16
note: the excerpt in parenthesis was not from 'The Message'.. I added it for my LWC emphasis.
But there is a very sobering message in this scripture. Being a LWC believer (even with sweetener added) is not a safe place to be. Will a lukewarm faith get me to Heaven? Well, the whole God spitting me out of His mouth seems to be a pretty clear NO.
God is not amused by a half-hearted devotion or playing church when our worship and love is deserved.
Next let's move to the LWC Fellowship Center (aka Church) where I observe being seeker friendly with attendance and the Worship 'Show' have become a misguided measure of spirituality. 'Giving the people what they want instead of what they need is lukewarm at best.'
This, while hearing sermons that nothing more than a 'be a better you' pep talk without starting with a repentant heart. Note: Getting my heart right with God trumps getting what I want.
Next, read John 6:25-59 where Jesus speaks clearly to His followers ..
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.
When many of his disciples heard it (Jesus teaching), they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (The Truth? They could not handle the Truth!) 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him (Jesus message was not very seeker friendly). 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him (with a Hot Coffee Faith), “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
So in this LWC world with LWC churches, I pray we follow God with a Hot Coffee Faith just like Peter. Truly , "Lord, to whom else shall we go, You have the words of eternal life."
I am, you are, and we the Church are called to be the the salt and light and THE HOT COFFEE for this world serving lukewarm flavorless substitutes for truth.. in the dark.
May God bless and use you in ways that are BEYOND YOUR DREAMS for HIM!
Jeff (aspiring to be a Grande Latte) Larson
I confess I visit the local coffee shops now and then for a Latte, but if my dad were still alive he would NOT approve.
First of all, paying $5 for a large latte (steamed milk and espresso) would be simply WRONG WRONG WRONG!! Then to stand in line to order a coffee with a flavor.. is also WRONG.
According to my dad, coffee drinker wanna-bes may add sugar to their coffee but true coffee drinkers either drink it black or with the 'approved' dairy companion of the day.. half&half.
Also my dad would not purchase something called a scone. If you want something sweet you buy a package of sticky danish pastries from the IGA Grocery with a shelf life of 4 years. AND.. the only coffee drink resembling 'a Mocha' in my parents home was if my dad accidentally poured Folgers coffee into a cup of cocoa.
And beyond my dad, Coffee was the true cornerstone beverage for my family and church as I was growing up. My family did not drink alcohol, and so while you might think that makes them teetotaler but in reality they were coffeetotalers.
I remember fondly Pastor Wayne Larson (no relation) and his wife Ruth led the our church in Cable Wisconsin for about 7 years, and they had what I would call the ‘gift of coffee’. They would call up my folks and say "Put a pot of coffee on.. cuz we are coming over.”
So over my years growing up in rural Wisconsin I learned the significance of coffee for any healthy community. Below is a short list of Coffee Rules for Life.
Now fast forward 35+ years and you don’t have to drink your coffee black or with cream and/or sugar.. you can get you Latte Grande skinny ( half expresso, and half steamed skim milk).. You can order a Turtle Sundae Mocha.. or maybe a White Chocolate Raspberry Cooler.. the possibilities are endless..
BUT ..though I like my Latte I want I believe in the time honored tradition of CHURCH COFFEE.
Coffee is never confused with the Holy Sacraments… but I believe church coffee is to be revered and consumed.
It should be brewed in a traditional aluminum drum with TLC.. where coffee is symbolic of fellowship though often tastes often like something less.
With regards to this traditional aluminum drum brewing 'machine', cleaning this drum is of paramount importance. Coffee drum cleaning like changing the oil in your car is too often neglected resulting in a brew that only the hearty church goer can appreciate/tolerate.. chew.
THEN those times when the coffee has a taste like hot dishwater it may be because when the drum was finally cleaned… THE DISH RAG WAS LEFT IN THE DRUM!!..
Now that I think about it.. let me share my COFFEE CONSPIRACY THEORY. I wonder if coffee was introduced to churches as a way to keep the congregation awake during a dry sermon in a stuffy church.
And finally according to Newton's Law .. To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction... and with coffee came the Coffee Conflicted Christian.
There, now try and keep those thoughts out of your mind the next time you pour yourself a cup of hot caffinated fellowship in your church foyer.
I will confess many churches today offer good coffee, but if my dad were still here.. he would prefer his cup to come from the traditional aluminum drum.
Then again.. he is in Heaven.. and I am sure they do COFFEE RIGHT (Folgers with half & half thank you very much)
Finally.. to round out today’s coffee toonage let me share a coffee paraphrase of Revelation 3:16 where the Lord is speaking about a church being lukewarm. Neither hot or cold.. and how distasteful LUKEWARM COFFEE is.
Have a great day.. full of God’s caffeinated blessings. Smile lots.. enjoy life .. and always..
BREW UNTO OTHERS as you would have them BREW UNTO YOU! Hebrews 3:16
Jeff (caffeinated) Larson
ps - below are a few moments from the Bible where I believe coffee was in order.
This title/claim is not part of a new FDA report but actually are the words offered to me by a pastor in response to a caffeine headache. This man of God told me his wife has a sign in the kitchen that reads, “Coffee is not a drug; it’s a vitamin!” .
So woe unto you that would argue with God's chosen one! A man of the cloth (with a little coffee stain down the front)! A shepherd to the flock, and possible coffee addict!
Besides the 'irrefutable' health benefit noted above I would like to share my rationale for the 'use' of coffee.
So in honor of these practical and one Godly endorsement I would like to thank God for COFFEE. The approved VITAMIN/ ENERGY ELIXER for a sleepy America!
May God bless each of your lives. May your coffee cups overflow (figure of speech), and your breakfast banquet table include a nice variety scones, bear claws, donuts, apple fritters, cheese danishes, and bismarks.
Amen and Amen!
Jeff (caffinated in the Back Pew) Larson
note: Tomorrow I will share my 'deep' theory that donuts are simply a post modern version of manna.
Lukewarm Coffee (LWC) exists in a land between hot and cold where room temperature is king. It is the 'Twilight Zone' of brews. Most LWCs were once a well intended piping hot cup of coffee until forgotten or ignored. They (LWCs) are the 'stale donuts' of the beverage world.
And last I checked, neither Starbucks or Dunn Brothers feature lukewarm coffee. GO FIGURE! Not not even for a niche target market of very plain boring people dressed in old sweats, bed hair, and a 2 day beard eating plain white bread from the bag while demanding their LWC.
NO ONE wants lukewarm coffee, and I believe the only acceptable use for it is .. when I have a splitting headache with two Excedrin in my hand and I spot a half a cup of LWC sitting around from this morning to wash down the meds before my head explodes.
Of course our Bibles speak often on the topic of coffee (ie Hebrews hahaha.. old joke), and even tackles the specific topic of LWC in Revelations 3:15-16 where the angel of the church of Laodicea speaks out..
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (like a cup of lukewarm generic instant decaf coffee with non-dairy creamer and a sweetener substitute).
note: If you did not guess, the part in parenthesis was not from 'The Message'.. I added it myself to emphasize my LWC point.
But there is a very sobering interpretation of this scripture. Being a LWC believer (even with sweetener added) is not a safe place to be. Will lukewarm get me to Heaven? Well, the whole God spitting me out of His mouth is a pretty clear NO... IMO.
God is not amused by half-hearted devotion. In fact God sounds frustrated, dare I say disgusted in Revelations 3:15-16 when we are only playing church.
So I read this passage and look at my life. I am a good guy, no major ( or minor ) crimes, I go to church most every week. I love God, my family, and have good friends making this life good.. for ME, BUT.. am I actually living a lukewarm cup of decaf and a stale donut communion lifestyle? I like to think not, but this is an honest GUT CHECK.
So in my 'Hot Coffee Analogy' how would an angel of God describe you? Hot, cold, or a 3 day old LWC brew with cream curdling at the top?
I am NOT saying being anything less than the next Billy Graham or Mother Theresa is lukewarm.. but please LET'S NOT be indifferent about the creator of this world or others in need. Frankly being OK is LWC.
My bigger concern.. I observe the Church as a whole is so seeker friendly to the point where attendance numbers and a great Sunday Worship 'Show' are their primary measure of spirituality. Our motto is 'Give the people what they want? ' instead of 'give them what they need.'
Read John 6:60-63, 66-69
When many of his disciples heard it (Jesus teaching), they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (The Truth? You can't handle the Truth!) 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. ..
66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him (so NOT seeker friendly of Jesus). 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him (with Hot Coffee Faith), “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:60-69
Using today's Seeker Friendly church model (with the motto no one get's burned with LWC).. was Jesus a failure?
My prayer today is God will bless and speak to each of you. May we listen to His voice and serve Him like never before in a way that is anything but lukewarm.
Jeff (aspiring to be a Grande Latte) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson