Coffee Beans and Adversity

coffee bitter or better smallI recently read a wonderful story. I stumbled upon it at the following web address: http://www.upmoments.com/she-tells-her-grandma-that-shes-just-been-cheated-on/.

You’re gonna like it. It’s sweet. It’s poignant. And it’s truthful…to a point. Well, stick around until the end, you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s the story:

“A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her – her husband had cheated on her and she was devastated. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the grandmother asked the granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, grandmother?’

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”

See what I mean? It’s a beautiful story…a parable illuminating truth…except for one thing…boil the beans again and again and again, and you no longer have the desired outcome. The analogy fails. Like the coffee beans, a person left to him or herself simply cannot be boiled over and over and over. Pretty soon there’s nothing left to produce the wonderful change described in the story…

unless…

unless the beans are very special…

unless the beans are miraculously renewed over and over and over again. Then the bean–and the person–can keep giving over and over and over again.

Then, in the face of adversity, we can make things better, not bitter. Whether coffee or life there must be something that’s new and fresh. With coffee the requirement is new beans. With us the requirement is new life. This is the miracle of regeneration. Its effects are spectacular.

Here, take a quick look…

“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”        2 Corinthians 4:15-18

The Planned Parenthood Plight

Tags

, , , ,

10 week feetUp to this point I have deliberately avoided commenting on the horrific ordeal in our news regarding Planned Parenthood. Why? Well, at the outset, let me say it’s not because I intend to defend PP in any way. From its beginning with Margaret Sanger ‘til today PP has been and is immoral and criminal. It started as a eugenics movement and, quite frankly, I see no reason to believe it’s moved away from that goal.

No, I have waited because I wanted to see the outcome of what I knew would be PP’s and its supporters go to argument: the “heavy editing” charge. We know the released footage has come to us in two forms: the longer unedited version and the shorter edited videos showing various PP employees in some sorrowful light. You can see all of them at https://www.youtube.com/user/centerformedprogress.

We now know much of the media and PP itself are going to run with the “heavily edited” argument. In fact, given current media biases, they will have a field day with it. That is the nature of propaganda. When you cannot articulate a cogent and logical point of view you resort to name calling, blaming, and shaming. You have no truth, so you attempt to create psuedo-guilt.  You have no facts, so you assert hateful things. However, nothing they say or do will trump certain truths. Of course, many, perhaps an uber-majority, of PP supporters will simply and stubbornly refuse to accept what I’m about to point out, but they will not be able to defend their position with any reasonable or intelligent defense. These certain truths are twofold:

First is the undeniable cavalier attitude regarding aborted babies displayed by the exposed PP employees. And these are employees at the highest ranks. These are culture makers within the PP ranks. If it starts at the top it trickles and often runs down. Just as in the videos brought to light a couple years back by Lila Rose concerning the racist attitudes within PP ranks, one has to ask “What kind of culture even opens the door for this kind of conversation?” The answer is simple: any culture opening the door to such cavalier attitudes is nothing shy of barbaric. You can call it compassionate all you like by saying it’s all about research and helping others, but when you talk about little ones with language like the following,

“like 18 on a light day but up to 25,”
and “avoid crushing to preserve choice parts,”
and “if we alter a process and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers,”
and “it’s all just a matter of line items,”

you display a haughty, disdainful, contemptuous attitude toward your subject matter. It’s heart breaking on many levels.

Second is the revelation regarding the manipulation of the baby’s position to provide opportunity to harvest certain desired body parts and intact bodies as witnessed in the following description:

“I’m going to crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact. And with the calvarium (head), in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation (of the fetus) so that it’s not vertex (head first), because when it’s vertex presentation, you never have enough dilation at the beginning of the case unless you have a real, huge amount dilation to deliver an intact calvarium (head). So, if you do it starting from the breech presentation (feet first), there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last step, you can evacuate an intact calvarium (head) at the end.” (See this egregious and heartless description at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjxwVuozMnU , 3:49 to 4:20)

This is a description of partial birth abortion! The baby being described is alive with body parts outside the birth canal! It is not only immoral, barbaric, and evil, it’s illegal! My word what more needs to be said? No matter how pro-choice one might be, the only way to accept this practice is to silence your conscience. This cannot be…yet it is!

I am left in tears…on my knees…calling out…”Oh God have mercy on them for surely they do not know what they are doing. Surely they are blind. Surely they would stop if only they understood. Right…right?” Yet I fear my hope is misguided. They do know. They do. They have hardened their hearts. All that is left for them is salvation or damnation.

So I must move past them for now. Now I must plead with those who are the first line of defense for the innocent unborn, their Mom’s and Dad’s…and here is my plea…

“I do not want to label you. I do not want to make life bitter for you, only better. To do so, I must help you see that in all cultures and through all of time those who have made sacrifices on behalf of the defenseless and less fortunate have been called heroes. Soldiers who push comrades aside only to take the bullet—heroes. The fathers and mothers who work three jobs and go without sleep—heroes. The social workers who give up lucrative careers to labor in poverty, but in support of the impoverished of the third world—heroes.  First responders rushing into the fires and the rain of bullets so the innocent may survive—heroes. All of them, heroes. All who make sacrifices for the benefit of others, heroes. Laying aside one’s own drive for self-preservation and self-fulfillment for the hopes and benefits of the defenseless brings out the honor of one’s soul. Please, may I help you see this is what your baby and the world needs from you. Be a hero.”

The Dance

Tags

, ,

Late. My heart is in the word. My mind is in it too. Softly in the background the radio lets the sweet sounds of country produce a simple smile one moment and at a later moment a thoughtful, bashful blush.

It’s a beautiful combination. The work of the Holy Spirit illuminating my present world and the work of country music reminding me of my past world. I enjoy nothing so much as I enjoy the former. I enjoy only a few things more than I enjoy the latter.

And tonight, tonight, dancing into my thoughts and my heart came two partners. Learning, contemplating and exploring, the written word shaped and formed and provoked. My mind was excited. My heart was sometimes reluctant. And the Holy Spirit was near. Psalm 30:11,12…one partner.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness
that my glory may sing your praise
and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Smiling, crying and reveling, the words of Garth Brooks escaped the radio and tumbled through my soul. The Dance…a second partner.

“And now I’m glad I didn’t know
the way it all would end,
the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain,
but I’d have had to miss the dance.”

I know the first partner was from God. There is certainty here. I’m guessing the second was too…though there is no certainty in this.

God does this you know. He woos us. He draws us. He compels us to come close. We dance with fire. He comes to the dance. He calls “May I have the dance floor and will you join me?”

I often smile. Sometimes blush. And I dance across the floor.

really i can love like jesus 150

Here is an amazing thing…

If you want to understand the depth and character of God’s love look to Jesus.

In fact consider how the Holy Spirit of God conveyed the depth and character of his and the Father’s and the Son’s love as he moved the Apostle of God, John, to write…

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

The first sentence is 1 John 4:9. The second, 4:10. Now notice that word in verse ten: “propitiation.” Just getting it past the lips is difficult for some. Getting its drift can prove just as difficult. However, it demands our attention. So…

While the above translation (English Standard Version) used “propitiation,” other translations variously translate the original as:

  • atoning sacrifice (New International Version, New English Translation);
  • expiation (Revised Standard Version).

The Message went so far as to render it like this:

  • “he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.”

Sooooo….

propitiation,
atoning sacrifice,
expiation,
a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

What does all this mean? Well, let’s take a look at some Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions:

  • propitiate: to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of; to appease
  • propitiation: the act of propitiating; something that propitiates; specifically an atoning sacrifice

Seriously? Ok, ok, let’s not give up:

  • sacrifice: an act of offering something precious
  • atone: reconciliation; to supply satisfaction for; to expiate; to make amends
  • atoning sacrifice (not Merriam-Webster): something very precious offered to reconcile, expiate, make amends

That’s a little better, but not quite there yet. We should also get a little more familiar with the word “expiate.” Merriam-Webster was of no help, so how about Dictionary.com:

  • expiate: to atone for; make amends or reparation

That also helped, but they had to go and toss in the word “reparation.” So, let’s go back to Merriam-Webster to look it up real fast:

  • reparation: a repairing or keeping in repair; the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction

Finally, we’re getting there. Putting this all together, we might say, when in 1 John 4:10, the Holy Spirit led the Apostle John to write that God, “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” this is what he had in mind: Since God is righteous and just, the violation of his will through our sin needed to be repaired. We could never accomplish such a thing, so he did it for us through the life and death of Jesus Christ. In fact, it was Jesus giving his life on the cross that made amends for our sins and satisfied the righteous and just judgment of God. And what was that judgment? Just this: sin should forever separate us from him!

Now notice two more important things. First, God did not need to be reconciled. We did. He was not the offender. We were. Second, our faith and belief in Christ is not the propitiation. He is the propitiation. It’s simply not possible that we could ever satisfy, expiate, make amends for, or atone for our sins. Only God could cover such a twisted transgression. Whew! I am so thankful for his grace, love, and mercy.

Wait! You might be thinking, “You only used English definitions. Wasn’t the New Testament penned in Greek?” And, yes, you would be right. So are the above conclusions supported by understanding the historical and grammatical contexts. Well, this is what you can find regarding “propitiation” in Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament Words: Hilasmos (ίλασμος), the original Greek)…”word is used in the NT of Christ Himself as ‘the propitiation,’ in 1 John 2:2 and 4:10, signifying that He Himself, through the expiatory sacrifice of His death, is the personal means by whom God shows mercy to the sinner who believes on Christ as the One thus provided.”

For those in the know, Vine’s is not accepted as the best Greek tool, but it’s serviceable and it’s accessible for all Bible students—novice and expert alike.

If we ended here the statement at the beginning of this essay would be proven: “Here is an amazing thing.” However, we’re not done…because God was not done. Let’s see how the Holy Spirit finished his thought as he continued to move the Apostle John to write…

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

In 1 John 4:11 that is exactly what followed 4:9 and 10. Now hang on. This is an incredible comparison. We just saw the incredible depth of God’s love and now we are being directed to love one another. So what will our love look like? I think the answer is simple if we follow the logic:

“If you want to understand the depth and character of God’s love look to Jesus.”

If you want to understand the depth and character of Christian love look at a Christian?

No.

If you want to understand the depth and character of Christian love look to Jesus.

And, even more incredible, the Apostle John was inspired to write this with the intention of saying “this is the natural expression of what it means to be born of God and to know God.” A few verses earlier he wrote, “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God“ (1 John 4:6,7).

Man. This makes me ask myself some questions.

What if doing what is best for another means covering their fault?

  • At great expense to me, am I willing to cover those faults?
  • At great expense to me, am I willing to lay down my rights for others?

What if doing what is best for another means not covering their fault?

  • Am I willing to suffer the tension and discomfort loving confrontation may bring?
  • Am I willing to “lose face” or suffer other potential loss that loving confrontation may bring?

What if I’m really serious about becoming more like Jesus (I mean, come on, I believe this is true)?

  • Does my love for others ever rise to propitiatory heights?
  • Does my love for others ever offer any semblance of atonement?

It’s like Arsenio Hall used to say, “Some things that make you go hmmm.” But I want so much more than “Hmmm.” I pray always to love like this kind of love. How about you?

Big News

rickileebrooks:

I just love this stuff…you have to read it.

Originally posted on my[desert]place:

I must admit that I doubt God a lot. I’ve heard many stories of God’s provision both in the Bible and from people in my own life. It has never really sunk in though. Sometimes I am so blinded by the world, that I cannot recognize when it is God’s doing. When I hope for a good outcome and it happens, I say “Thank You” but it is not heartfelt. Granted, the larger happenings in life are easier to see. Just like it is easier to seek God when things are going wrong, than when they aren’t.

I’m overjoyed that the Holy Spirit is working in me, in such a way, where I can recognize God’s doing. Where I know without a doubt, that THIS WAS HIM. To see something come together for the first time, when all along it was jumbled pieces to a puzzle.

I typically have to…

View original 254 more words

My Love-Hate Relationship

rickileebrooks:

From one of the young guns wanting desperately to follow the Savior. Such great words, Derek. Read some of his stuff. You’ll be blessed.

Originally posted on Derek Troy:

I have never experienced a more desperate love-hate relationship in my lifetime. Right now, I hate you. The more I hear about you, the more I hate you, because I want you so badly, yet I know you’re not good for me. I haven’t been with you for a long time, and oh, how miss that last time with you. You showed up, we spent the night together, my lips were on your neck. For a moment I loved you, then I remembered how much I hate the way you make me feel. You make me feel numb. You make me sick.

I can’t even tolerate one, short moment with you. I will not entertain you. You don’t deserve my love. You’ve hurt so many others, as well. You are a homewrecker. You are one I will not forgive. I have so many horrible memories of you, yet so many…

View original 205 more words

Tony Compolo’s “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming!”

Resurrection Sunday is nearly upon us. We’ll see folks in their Sunday best, little children hunting down Easter eggs, and Sunday afternoon meals and potlucks in homes and churches across the land.

Resurrection Sunday is nearly upon us…let’s not forget…

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming. 

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.

It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.

And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday. Now it’s Sunday.

And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday. And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb. Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed. It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.

It’s Friiidaaaay! But Sundaaaaaaaaay’s Coming!

This old sermon, made famous by Dr. Tony Compolo, has gone through many versions…all of them similar and all of them powerful. Here are two more…

Resurrection Sunday is nearly upon us…let’s not forget…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers