Wednesday, August 30, 2006
As the sunlight glistened off the water, the whales danced in the sea...the deer drank from a nearby brook...the birds sang overhead...and the image of the rainbow was still fresh in his mind.
He was surrounded by a symphony of sounds as the animals explored their new home...running...playing...laughing. Nearby, his sons and their wives frolicked in the fields that emerged from what once...just weeks ago...was an endless ocean...stretching over the horizon, as far as the eye could see. Yet, the silence was deafening...
The water was receding...grass was beginning to sprout...the mighty oak and pine were mere seedlings. The mountains were reaching their way toward heaven as if to touch the mighty hand of the One who was reshaping the earth...reshaping mankind...reshaping him.
His mind drifts back...back just one year ago...and he remembers the sounds that echoed throughout the town. Sounds of the blacksmith's hammer against his anvil...the bartering at the marketplace...the smell of fresh baked bread. He understands that what happened, had to happen. He understands that his family was hand picked to re-establish, re-populate the world...a new world. He knows full well that he was chosen as the intregal part of what will be the great biblical 'do-over'. Noah, was God's Man...His chosen man...His only man.
How I can imagine there were days that Noah longed for other adults...other men...trusted friends. I imagine there were days, if not weeks or months that his heart ached for simple conversation with others...someone other than his family. Those first few years after the flood were, quite possibly, the loneliest years of all mankind. However, Noah knew something that saved him from drowning in this sea of loneliness. Noah had a secret...a peace...a comfort that was buried in the very depths of his soul. He knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that whenever, wherever, God was ALWAYS at his side. ALWAYS. From the moment that God had handed him the blueprints for the ark till the moment that he drew his last breath on earth, Noah had a constant companion...a forever friend...Noah walked with God.
I understand loneliness. I understand what it's like to only have your immediate family. I sometimes understand what was going through Noah's mind when he would take long walks by himself...long walks to get away...long walks to be able to scream at the top of his lungs in hopes to escape the pain of loneliness...to take long walks with God. And it was in these moments that, in the darkness of the hour, Noah would once again hear that soft, gentle voice...that voice that says "It's OK, I am here, I am with you, always". It's that same voice that David heard and the same presence he felt as he wrestled with fear and loneliness...'Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.' (Psalm 23:4)
"Father, hear my cry...bathe me in Your presence...calm my sea of fears...be my constant companion...amen."
The world is much different, now, than in the days of Noah...then again, things are still the same. I can still smell fresh bread baking...rich coffee brewing...reflections in the water...and I can still hear that same gentle Voice...
Friday, August 25, 2006
One of my favorite places in all the world, would have to be New Orleans. A city that's rich in history and architecture, alive with music and mayhem, not to mention the incredible food that's found 'down in the Quarter'...oh and please, don't forget about that crazy chicory coffee! I can envision myself now, sitting at Cafe DuMond with my Cafe Au' Lait and a serving of Beignets. Each time my vehicle heads south and crosses that Louisiana state line, my senses jump with anticipation. Some of my fondest memories , however, are not the 'side show' antics that draw you in like that from a carnival barker. Instead, it's the mystery...the darkness that seems to shroud the very people who call this bayou wonderland, home. It's the ones who continually hide in the shadows of life...in broad daylight...lurking...laughing...crying. There's just something about the mystery behind the mask...
Day in and day out, the locals masquerade in and out with each and every parade...and there is always a parade...hiding their true identity...their true emotion...behind masks of every shape, size and color. Lavish arrays of beauty cover the faces of countless creatures attempting to go...to do...to see...to say...to live in a pretend world that, if only for a moment, escape the sometimes harshness of life.
Simon had a mask...you remember Simon, the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth...the eager, aggressive, bold and outspoken disciple...the one with a habit of revving up his mouth while his brain remained in neutral. Simon...the one Jesus chose to give another name...Luke 6:14 tells us this way: "Simon, whom He also named Peter..." Notice the 'also. Sometimes known as Simon...sometimes as Peter...also, as Simon Peter.
John 1:42 describes to us the first face-to-face meeting between Jesus and Simon. It was at this very moment that Jesus looked deep into the eyes of the man who, in the very near future, would 'walk where no mortal man had ever walked', (Matthew 14:25-33)...would become a master fisher of men (Luke 5:4-11). It was also, in those same eyes that Jesus saw the pain and the struggles of a seasoned veteran of the seas that one day soon would don his mask to blend into the parade of scoffers that chose to destroy the very One who named him "Cephas...which is translated A Stone"...translated Rock...also, as Peter.
But it was in that moment...that one moment where, for Peter, time stood still. That moment where fantasy met reality...that moment where the mask had begun to crumble. It was in the chill of the night when the masses were marching...the screams were deafening, yet Simon heard that haunting sound...the constant reminder that, he was once again looking into the eyes of God's own Son...the One who he had just turned away from for the third time. It was in that moment, when Simon became Peter...darkness had gave way to light...the mask had crumbled.
We too, have masks...
"Father, I've wore a mask for way too long...remove it...crush it...destroy it. Help me to be what You see...the man behind the mask...amen."
Ummmmmm...I can smell that chicory coffee now...the parade is starting...
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
For as long as I can remember, I've always been fascinated by the mere concept of water falling from the sky. As I sit here at DP this afternoon, the rain has begun to fall...I believe if we would just simply listen, we could hear the earth cry out in relief. It may only rain for a few short minutes...or it may rain the rest of the evening...either way, the rain falls...
My immediate urge is to grab my favorite coffee cup...I know you have one too...fill it to the rim with a fresh brew, and find a warm, cozy spot close to the window so I can enjoy every drop that falls. It's like I'm drawn into a make-believe world that erases all the pressures and problems that life hands you each day...it's this world that I often find myself craving on a daily basis...you've been there...you know what it's like. Even at night, when I'm trying to go to sleep...needing to sleep, yet this 'floppy-drive' I call a brain refuses to be disengaged...I close my eyes and attempt to drift off to this mystic land...where the rain falls.
I often wonder if this is sorta how Noah felt that day...the day when the ark was finally completed, the animals had been loaded, and the door had been finally sealed. A boat so massive, on the side of a mountain...and not a river or sea for miles and miles...yet Noah obeyed God...obeyed and built this boat to the sound of ridicule and rejection from everyone he knew...everyone, except his family...the day the rain began to fall...
I wonder if he really knew what was actually happening as drop by drop, day by day, the earth was being pelted into submission, giving way to change from the world he once knew...a world full of pain and heartache, changing it's landscape forever? I wonder, as he gazed out the window from the top of the ark and watched as countless rain drops bounced, did Noah truly realize that one day soon, all the issues and situations that once dominated his every waking moment, would be washed away? Did he know that with every splash of water, God was erasing all the pressures and problems that stalked him and his family? Could this have been the first time that God chose to allow us an opportunity to escape a screaming world and enter into a place of tranquility...a place where peace abounds? Could Noah have been taken to this same mystic place that calls out to me each and every time it rains?
"Father, thank you for the rain...thank you for the peace...thank you for the warm blanket that surrounds me each and every time the rain falls. Father, let it rain...You reign...let Your Spirit fall...drench me in Your love...amen"
It's time to go...my cup is full, the coffee is fresh...and the rain still falls...
Thursday, August 17, 2006
"I'll have my usual."
"And Good Morning to you Sir, what'll you have today?"
"Oh, just fix my usual."
I get so amused at some of our customers with their 'usuals'. (You know who you are!) The concept of 'my usual' IS great for us as we try to offer great service, because as we see our customers pull in to the parking lot, we automatically begin brewing their specific cup o' coffee. And with time being so valuable today, every little second saved is time spent somewhere else. Every now and then, someone pulls a fast one on me and changes up their 'usual'...not very often.
We are so creatures of habit...admit it...you are too...and so am I. We allow ourselves to fall into the abyss that we call our daily routines. I'll be the first to say that routines are usually good, and I certainly have mine, but when we allow ourselves to be controlled by the 'check off lists' of life, we're missing out on incredible opportunities to experience God on a brand new plateau. Ask yourself these questions: 1) Do I take the same road to work each day? 2) Do I eat my meals at the same time each day? The list could go on & on. You get the picture...we are so accustomed to living by our day planners that many times we allow glimpses of glory pass right by us without even a hint of acknowledgement. I can honestly say that when I have allowed myself to step away from the daily grind that life 'usually' offers, is when I have experienced God in such fresh ways that I never thought possible.
One of my absolute favorite passages of Scripture is found in Luke Chapter 12. And many times I have to drag myself back here to get of shot of reality...God's reality.
22) Then turning to his disciples, Jesus said, "So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food to eat or clothes to wear. 23) For life consists of far more than food and clothing. 24) Look at the ravens. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25) Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not! 26) And if worry can't do little things like that, what's the use of worrying over bigger things?
27) "Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28) And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith! 29) And don't worry about food--what to eat and drink. Don't worry whether God will provide it for you. 30) These things dominate the thoughts of most people, but your Father already knows your needs. 31) He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.
To put it quite simply: "Quit living your life according to the 'regular black coffee' of your day planner...and start experiencing your 'Grande White Chocolate~Caramel Latte' life that God has waiting for you."
"Father, slow me down...slow me down...slow me down. Please don't let me miss those golden nuggets of glory that You have placed on my path...amen."
Time to go...I have another customer coming in the door...
"Hey, Good Morning, what can I fix for you?"
"Oh...I think I'll just have my...wait...I think I feel like trying something different today!"...
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
My Dad spent the last 12 years of his life in Phoenix...'the valley of the sun'...and he worked every day out in the desert heat. As I recall the many conversations we had during that time, he would always make comments on the sun...how it was different 'out there'...and how it seemed to burn everything in it's path. The Southwest has always been known for it's dry heat, but unless you face it yourself, one really doesn't know. I will never forget my first 'true' encounter with this beast, we call the sun. Riding with my Dad, we were always out on the road before sunrise. I could still feel the cool of the night as we began. Then up from the desert floor it appeared. Absolutely gorgeous...totally captivating...yet all the while growing stronger. I was awestruck by it's beauty...yet consumed by it's fire.
Coffee does the same thing...consumes me...captivates me. Sounds weird...sure...but there are many of you, who, if you would just admit it, are also consumed by the rich aroma that abounds when you walk into a room where a fresh pot of coffee is brewing. Countless comments are made @ Dad's Place about 'how good it always smells.' Nothing...absolutely nothing matches the sensations that start to twitch when your nose first detects the possibility of fresh coffee slowly making it's way into a cup that's destined for you. Anticipation...consumed...weird.
I leave you with Third Day's lyrics about The Ultimate Consuming Fire...
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Take where I live for example...our coffee shop is just 2 blocks from the local Mickey D's. If the wonderful citizens of this great metropolis (please) would only venture an additional 2 small blocks, they would have a caffeine experience that would totally erase any remaining aftertaste from their past purchases at any fast food disaster. Yet for the most of us, delusions of grandeur are clouded by the false oasis' that exist when we allow ourselves to be tricked into thinking "I have it all, I don't need anything or anyone else, so why bother!"
I remember a story that my Dad used to tell of a young man that fit this exact description. Surrounded by wealth and fame, not realizing it was all a facade. He had to have new everything...X-Box 360, I-pod, newest models of Blackberry's, even if his contract wasn't up for renewal, a new Hummer, and the list actually went on and on. But one day he met this older man who had something the young man had not yet acquired. "How much?", the younger man asked..."Can't really put a price on it" the older man replied. "I'll give you anything, name your price, I must have it...tell me what I must do to get it!" he insisted. Amazed by his determination, the wise man calmly told him "The item you so persistently desire, is priceless, a mere pricetag simply cannot be placed on it. However, if you will sell all, yes I said all, of your belongings and give the money you make to the poor in this city, then I will give this item to you...here it is!" Stunned by offer, the young man couldn't believe his ears. The chance of a lifetime, was so within his reach...the one thing he never had...was his, finally his, for the taking. But it came at a price...a price of sacrifice...a price he was not sure he was willing to make. Slowly the expression on the young man's face changed from anxious & excited to sorrowful & depressed. The sad young man turned and walked away...away from the one thing that would change his life...forever.
Why do we find ourselves in situations where we are 'so close, but yet so far'? You see, my Dad was a great storyteller. I could often find myself lost for days in those stories. And he always had at least one. One for every situation that life handed to us. His way of taking scripture and sharing it in such a way was his trademark preaching style. It was several years later that I realized his story of the rich young man was really the story of Jesus and the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-30). The older I get, the more I see this exact situation play out day after day in so many people's lives. Settling for what we have...passing up on what we could have.
"Father, help me to never be satisfied...help me to reach...to see..to be...amen."
Isn't it time to stop being satisfied with the status quo...satisfied with McDisgusting... when Dad's Favorite Blend is just 2 small blocks away...
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I wonder sometimes if this is the type of craving...thirst...that the writer ment when he wrote Psalm 42? 'As the deer pants for the water brooks. So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.' Man, can you imagine! Don't you wish you knew what he was going through in life? Really makes me wonder! Who knows...maybe he had just lost his job...maybe he was so far behind in paying his bills that bankrupcy seemed to be the only way out...maybe everything he seemed to try, failed...maybe his marriage was crashing...who knows! The bottom line is that this man was WAAAAYYY in over his head...his world was crashing in...and he knew only one thing...a cool, fresh, soul-quencing taste of Holy God! And he knew it was worth the wait.
I've been in way over my head before...close to that right now. It's hard sometimes to really determine what's up or down in this crazy, confused world we live in. There are times that I have just wanted to jump in a hole and pull a rock in over me. Trying to solve problems on my own...knowing that if I had only waited...there's that word again, waited...if I had only waited that God works all things out according to His Will, in His time. The psalmist got his answer...rather quickly. Just a few verses later, in Psalm 46 verses 10 & 11, God tells him to 'Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.' "Be still" (sound alot like 'wait' to me) and know that I am God. Powerful words of hope to a desperate man...those same powerful words also speak to a desperate world today...powerful words of hope that speaks to me...and you.
"Father, help me to always be desperate...thirsty...thirsty for You, and never settling for day old coffee, hoping that it will quench my craving. Help me to never settle for less than the best...anything less than You will never, never satisfy my needs. There are lots of things in this world that attempt to resemble You...glimpes of You...but NEVER You. Help me to 'be still' and wait..wait on YOU...knowing all things are possible through You. Help me to stay vertical...amen"
The waiting will soon be over...the timer on the coffee brewer is going off...and it's a good thing...my cup is empty.
I do hope that what you find here will be humorous, enlightening, yet most of all encouraging...after all, life's to short for bad coffee! Go ahead, grab a fresh cup... this journey is just beginning...