I ran out of Sumatra coffee and wasn’t able to run to the store to get more. This is a dreadful state of affairs for a coffee fiend.
With a busy flying schedule, my options were limited. The 24-hour shoppette on our base had Dunkin Donuts coffee, which I count as vile, acidic filth not worth my time. It’s got a thick and bitter aftertaste that I despise. I like strong coffee with intense flavors, but I don’t want it to coat my throat like an oil slick.
McCafe was the only other option. (Ok, Folgers and Maxwell House might have been on the shelf too, but come on.)
I brewed up a pot this morning to prepare for my flight.
Yeah, it’s pretty much McDonalds coffee brewed in my own pot. I fear that’s some kind of sin.
It leaves that similar oily coating like the old commercials for Pepto-Bismol, an intended feature of the latter product, and a terrible failure in a cup of coffee.
I won’t be trying this again… unless of course it’s 11 PM and there’s no Folger’s on the Shoppette shelf.
Just curious, as it’s almost 3 AM here and I’m wide awake tapping on my iPad.
My wife asked me why in the world I so often wait until midnight (or 1 or 2 AM) to get motivated. I don’t have any good answer for her. Maybe my caffeine intake caught up with me, but even when I’m not pounding coffee, this happens to me.
What about you? I’m sure some of you are the mythical “disciplined writer” I’ve heard about, who sets aside a certain time each day and punches out a quota of words. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
When does inspiration strike and demand your attention?
What to do with a little man who consistently wakes up at 6:30 AM… even on the weekends!
Today’s answer was to give up, get out, grab coffee, and bring home breakfast for the family.
Our little dude is still on Central time, I think, while we are visiting Washington state. So his wake-up is timed for 8:30 back home, which is pleasant and generally reasonable (unless you ask my teenage daughter).
I heard him sniffling and making some scared noises when I woke up, so I checked on him to see if he was ok. Tucked him in, laid down next to him for a minute, made sure he wasn’t upset. Then I hugged his brother, and left the room.
Seconds later, I heard the “thum-thum-thum-thum-thump” of toddler feet jogging (clearly wide awake) down the hall toward the play room full of toys.
No hope for sleeping in, I decided it was a good time for a pajama-clad trip to a coffee shop (first things first) and then fast food breakfast. We hopped into the van as the first touches of sunrise lit the sky.
We got coffee at Dutch Brothers, where I made a smooth impression by knocking over their cup display at the drive through window with my side mirror.
We grabbed some McD’s for the Mommy and the brother staying with us (the two teenagers are sleeping at Grandma’s). Then we got a Jack-in-the-Box sammich for the kindly Uncle who has welcomed us into his home for the week-long trip.
I filled up the gas tank, coordinated a bit with my Chief back home, and got back to the house to dig in to some yums.
All the while, the energetic Dude sat in his car seat, chatting with me, cheering and clapping at our success, and watching the brightening morning sky with wide eyes.
“How many shots are we allowed to put in the cup?” the Starbucks barista asked her manager. “Six, right?”
I wasn’t sure whether this question really did have the legal and liability overtones I thought I was picking up, but then the manager confirmed it.
“Yes, six is the limit. But really, someone could just buy another cup with six shots if they wanted more. But at that point, it’s on them, not us.”
Clearly, there’s a line Starbucks draws so that they don’t get blamed for your heart exploding.
I almost hear Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail. “Six shall be the number of the count, and the number of the count shall be six. SEVEN IS RIGHT OUT.”
I’m reminded of New York City’s plan for the 16-ounce limit on sugared pop (or soda, or soft drinks, or Coke, depending on where you’re from). I’m also reminded of a blog post by one of my friends from work, and since he has a lot of strong opinions on a variety of subjects, I’m going to throw his link in here.
The fact is, stupid people are going to keep being stupid, even if we legislate the wear of rubber helmets and the installation of padding on all sharp corners. I’m not interested in a nanny state holding my hand everywhere I go.
Politics and cultural observation aside, I’m thinking instead of my love affair with coffee.
My wife says I’m an addict, and I hold to the adage that “you’re only an addict if you want to stop but cannot do so.” I have no desire to stop drinking coffee, so by default it cannot be proven that I have a lack of willpower regarding coffee. So there.
We’ll leave the “addict vs. afficionado” argument aside for now too.
“Everything in moderation,” my wife would say. Indeed.
Given the six shot conversation, maybe I’m the wrong one to bring up this subject.
Coffee at one point had such a hold on me that I would need to make a pot of it when I got home from work–this after drinking a pot or more at the office. If I didn’t, I would fall asleep on the couch at 5 PM. This condition made me quit for a while, until I could get to a relatively normal response and desire for caffeine (as opposed to a driving need).
“Everything is permissible,” the Apostle Paul wrote, quoting prevailing wisdom. Then he countered by adding, “but not everything is beneficial, and I will not be mastered by anything.”
We have freedom that permits us to do all sorts of things, but that doesn’t mean we should do everything we’re permitted to do. Just because something is legal or possible, that doesn’t mean it’s right.
And yet, righteousness can be its own destructive influence:
What came to mind in this experience is a verse in Ecclesiastes that has always interested me, in the realm of “too much of a good thing.”
15-17I’ve seen it all in my brief and pointless life—here a good person cut down in the middle of doing good, there a bad person living a long life of sheer evil. So don’t knock yourself out being good, and don’t go overboard being wise. Believe me, you won’t get anything out of it. But don’t press your luck by being bad, either. And don’t be reckless. Why die needlessly?
18 It’s best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.
Of course the Bible tells you that being wicked is going to get you trouble. I find it interesting that the Bible also tells you being overly good can also lead to trouble. More formal translations suggest that you will “ruin yourself” by being overly righteous.
The very thing I want to do is put at risk from trying too hard to make it happen.
I come across “affected” (thanks, Simon Cowell) rather than “authentic.” Most of us can probably think of that acquaintance who tries too hard to be accepted, and never really is–not because they’re a bad person, but because they’re frustrating in this respect.
Back when I had to quit caffeine, the coffee I relied on to give me energy became a crutch–without it, I had no energy.
Likewise, in the Christian community, surrounding ourselves with “good” things and staying away from “worldly” influences makes sense, to a point. We’re called to be “in the world but not of it,” so we can’t let our actions and decisions mirror the culture around us.
However, we also need to make sure we’re “in the world, and not out of it.” Just like I can order another cup with more espresso, I can also fill every minute of every day and every conversation or interaction with other people with Christian this and Christian that. But that becomes far too much of an arguably good thing.
We’re not Amway… we shouldn’t need to act like a pyramid scheme.
We can’t let our church walls become a fortress to keep the big, bad, eeeeevil World out. Otherwise we risk failing at the very purpose behind the lifestyle we’re called to live out.
Live “out” like out in the open, where other people are, the ones that don’t already agree with everything I believe.
Here’s hoping for authentic living and honest interaction with the world around us.
I’ve been sitting here playing Diablo III long-distance with my brother for a little while. Finally I realize I need to stop, and get started on actual projects instead of pointless video games. I commit to start writing a new blog post, and to start the rewrite of the first chapter of my Kaalistera book.
But first, I want some caffeine and some water.
So I go to the kitchen and find that the coffee pot has shut off. The coffee is room temperature now. I like iced coffee, and I love a steaming cup of hot coffee. But not this.
So I look for the diet Mountain Dew I bought yesterday. Then I see that I forgot to put that in the refrigerator. A cold soda would hit the spot. “Kind of slightly not warm” isn’t really what I’m looking for here.
“You are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.” – Jesus.
Revelation 3:14-21 has a challenging letter to one of the early churches, and in that letter, Jesus makes that statement. He also says that “lukewarm” makes Him want to spit, or vomit.
Lukewarm isn’t, “well, I guess this will do.”
Lukewarm is sickening.
So where do I find myself on God’s thermometer?
I mean, I know how I feel about my spirituality. “I’m not Billy Graham or Mother Theresa,” I might say. But I’m not cold.
I suppose I can find an example of a really cold person, someone who is opposed to God or who is completely apathetic about what Christ has done for us. And then I can say “I am hot compared to him.”
Or I can find someone that is certainly “lukewarmer” than me, if I want.
If I can at least stop comparing myself to others, I’ll probably end up deciding that “I am not as hot as I could be or maybe should be, but I’m hot enough.”
Enough is a funny word. Merriam-Webster’s defines it as: “occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope
as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations.” The definition begs a question:
That question is, “Whose?”
Whose demands are to be met?
Whose needs are to be satisfied? Whose expectations are being used to determine what exactly is “enough” in this case?
I say I’m “hot enough” or maybe “not super hot, but warm enough” in my faith. And Jesus says, “I wish you were hot or cold.”
This is what Jesus Christ wishes.
I can wish for things, and I can talk about what I want things to be like, and what I wish they were like. But God isn’t really asking for my two cents on these subjects.
He says plainly what He desires.
I WISH YOU WERE HOT.
Well, yeah, or cold, but let’s ignore that for a second because I don’t want to be cold.
The problem, the real issue, is that I want to be “warm enough.”
God help me, but that’s it. If I can just be “warm enough” to not make God sick to His stomach… if I can just be “holy enough” so that I don’t have to go confessing to God or feel guilty all the time… if I can just be “committed enough” so that I can say that I am “doing enough” so that I can say no to the really painful duties that I’d rather avoid… if I can just read “enough” of God’s Word, or pray “enough” and so on.
But let’s be clear here.
That is not hot.
There is coffee or tea that is “warm enough” and then there is “hot” and the difference is very clear. There is soup that is warm enough to not make me queasy, warm enough so that the grease doesn’t congeal on the surface, warm enough to be edible… but a hot bowl of soup isn’t just “edible.” It can be “delicious” or “satisfying” or it can “hit the spot,” but it won’t just be “edible enough.”
My daughter likes to help with cooking dinner. She has started making some pasta dishes now and then, and the first few times, I wondered why in the world the noodles tasted so strange. They were soft, but sticky like glue. They mashed together and I thought I was eating paste with pasta sauce. What happened?
I watched her the next time, and found the problem.
“Deborah, you have to get the water boiling hot before you put the noodles in. You can’t just toss them in warm water and say that’s good enough.”
Pasta paste is edible. But it’s never a culinary goal to aim for.
Likewise, God doesn’t want His people to aim for “enough.”
What does it matter, though? Maybe being lukewarm was a problem for that particular church, but what threat does it pose for us today? God knows we’re all busy; many of us in the church probably have a schedule completely full of “Christian” activities. When we’re doing all that, maybe we don’t have time to get “boiling hot” anymore. Maybe lukewarm just has to be enough for now.
There’s a problem with that.
It is dangerous to be lukewarm because we think we’re still warm.
(Not that I ever do this… and don’t ask my wife, but)
When you sit in the bath for a long time, the water cools. But it still feels fairly warm, and it feels a lot warmer than getting out of the bath. If we get out for a moment and see how cold it is, it’s easy to get back in and feel a sense of warmth again. We won’t notice that the water is quite a bit colder than it was at first. We just care that it’s not as cold as the air outside.
We get complacent. We sit for a while doing the same thing, trusting–or even overconfidently knowing–that it is hot enough to serve a purpose. We get comfortable, “knowing” God has done a lot of work in our lives, and brought us some distance along this spiritual journey. And so those moments when God knocks on the door of our hearts (or the door of the bathroom), the altar calls that are more about discipleship than salvation, or the messages that address our behavior precisely–those, we think, are for someone else who “really” needs God badly.
We probably know exactly who that person is. In the old days, we’d get a cassette tape of the sermon for them. Now maybe we post a link on their FaceBook wall, or send them a podcast. We might think, “Man, I hope they get what God is saying to them, because He sure hit their nail on the head. Now I’ve done a spiritual good deed. I’ve done enough.”
Are we past-tense or present-tense?
If you walked, that doesn’t mean you’re walk-ING.
If you experienced, that doesn’t prove you’re experienc-ING.
If you did and saw and heard, great. But are you still do-ING, see-ING, and hear-ING?
If you burned for God in the past, that doesn’t mean you’re burn-ING for Him now.
You might have even been hot when you filled up the bathtub. But it’s been a while. What is God accomplishing here and now through your current obedience?
“Well I was X, Y, and Z at my old church. I did my time.”
That’s great. But you’re here now. Don’t look through rose-colored glasses at images of past glory and decide that you have achieved “enough.” God has more.
Exceedingly abundantly beyond what you’ve heard, seen, thought, dreamed… beyond what is considered possible or reasonable.
Far beyond any concept of “enough.”
He doesn’t aim for that.
Pastor Gary Hoyt of BCC preached on this passage while I was in Omaha back in 2008. Full disclosure: He probably deserves more credit than that for this blog post, because the notes I took on the passage and the subsequent personal thoughts were inspired by his sermon.
On that day, Pastor Gary talked about how we often deal with situations where some product or business is advertised in glowing terms, promising life-changing amazing results. Then we find the product is mediocre at best.
It was perhaps “good enough” for its purpose, but it certainly didn’t live up to the hype.
It’s a shame when something over-promises, but under-delivers.
Pastor Gary offered his standard grin and challenging gaze, the “I really hope you get this point” look, and he asked this question:
“What if maybe God is One who under-promises, but over-delivers?”
What if the hype doesn’t — indeed, CAN’T — live up to God?
Am I too complacent to consider the possibility, the consequences of the “something more” God has?
Should I be content with a “warm enough” relationship with God?
My coffee has been heating up while I type this.
I couldn’t stand the thought of drinking it before, but I’m going to fill my cup now that it’s hot.
The home of David M. Williamson, writer of fantasy, sci-fi, short stories, and cultural rants.