Visiting Memory Lane

Visiting Memory Lane

**This blog was originally posted on December 6, 2011, at 3:15 pm Alaska Time as part of my “Coffee? Yes, Please!” Blog. Since i can’t sit in a coffee shop at the moment with the nation’s response to the covid19 virus, i thought i would get all retro and nostalgic, with this blast from the past, memory lane, post! i hope you enjoy a look at my coffee shop life.**

i think it’s funny how anytime i want to go someplace downtown i will say, “Hi Galaxy” (that’s my phone). She reply’s, “At your service cj,” i laugh every time. i will then say, “Navigate to ____________” and she will proceed to give me directions and they usually always go like this, “continue down dewberry and turn right onto 88th, stay on 88th and continue onto Northwood, turn right onto Raspberry and take the Minnesota North on-ramp. Turn right onto Todor, turn left onto C st. It’s at this point in the trip that it changes, today i turned right onto Benson.  i like to think about our “navigation” to heaven. There are a few steps that are for everyone, and it never changes; however, there is a point in the journey that it becomes very individual as each person’s personal relationship is different. Of course, the destination is the same, but for some our journey may cross other bridges and go down other roads as we each struggle with different issues and God works in us in His timing and as long as we continue to listen to the GPS (God’s Providing Spirit).

If i make a wrong turn on my journey, my phone says, “recalculating,” and then from that point gets me back on track, if i follow its instruction. Sometimes i have made such a wrong turn that it simply says, “Turn around when possible.” God is that way too, sometimes i mess up, and from that point, He simply recalculates (in away), taking my errors into account and redirects me redeeming the error for His glory. Other times He simply says, “Turn around,” which is code for “repent,” which means to turn from sin, literally to turn around from the error of my ways.

i walked into Cafe Felix this afternoon and was greeted at the door by statues, Hindu, Buddhist, and others, each one staring at me.  i caught myself staring back, and then from behind the counter, the clerk said, “Can i help you?” i wondered if he could, was I in the wrong place? i thought. Catching my thoughts, i saw from the corner the cafe part of this establishment. i said, “Nope, i see it now, thank you, though,” and with a smile, i turned into Cafe Felix.

i walked up to the counter, the barista greeting me with a warm smile asked if she could help me (i must really have looked lost).  i asked for a menu, ordered an americano and a grilled cheese, the sandwich came with feta, cheddar, tomato, and bacon, and was super yummy! Served with tortilla chips and salsa…tortilla chips seem to be the chip of choice for Cafes in Anchorage. The coffee was exceptional, an organic Brazilian blend, smooth and not bitter in the least bit with an earthy flavor.  The room is arranged like a thrift store exploded with different tables and chairs and table cloths. In the center of the room, four chairs around a gas wood stove and in the corner a small stage for open mic night or like events.

The internet was down, so i tried yet another feature of my galaxy phone, wifi hotspot. Excellent! As i sat and watched people come and go, there is a large verity of clientele, but i had a feeling that they each shared a common understanding of where they were as opposed to me. Still a bit confused, was it the eclectic blend of music playing? Literally from Bluegrass, Country, Frank Sinatra, Top 40, and Christmas music…what? My ears didn’t know what to think. Or was my confusion the result of the potpourri explosion that occurred? Or incense or maybe the scented candles? Either way, the smells mixed with coffee and grilled cheese confused me, i am sure. As the place cleared out and i really began to think i was reminded of my GPS.

God’s Providing Spirit. This place, as i thought about it, would be an excellent location for a coffee with Jesus meeting. As i prepare to launch several options during the week, this place has won (at least for the moment) a spot on the circuit. I don’t think it was an accident that i found this place but rather on purpose. When Paul saw the many altars in Athens, he didn’t run away, he went into the heart of it and proclaimed the Truth. Everyone’s journey must start with, believing Jesus died for them, ask for forgiveness, accepting the gift of salvation, repenting of their sin and begin to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God. Jesus said,  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything i have commanded you. And surely i am with you always, to the very end of the age.” So why not take the message into the heart of a place that has many altars to other gods? Yes, i think i will.

**For those wondering, Cafe Felix in Anchorage AK, received 4 out of 5 coffee mugs. ☕️☕️☕️☕️**

You are loved,

cj

Bizarro Universe

Bizarro Universe

Sitting in a chair thirty thousand feet (30,000ft) in the air being served food (gingerbread cookies) and beverage (coffee black) is by far one of the most amazing advances in human technology. Some others, the phone that is in your hand or tablet or iPad that you are reading this from…another technically advanced achievement of mankind (humankind for my socially liberal or progressive friends).  That device and the information it contains, the things that it can do, once filled an entire room and even then only did 1/1000 of what your phone can do now (it takes and sends pictures and videos, not even kidding).

i recently purchased a bluetooth headset for my phone for this trip i am currently on (Alaska bound for a visit with my boys and some hockey). i turned it on, hit connect and that was it…no programing, no software downloads, no app required, just turned it on. Soon after i was listening to the music stored on my phone from another music source that basically has every song you can think of…which means i had endless possibility of music choice. While listening to my music a call came through, i was alerted by a beep, i clicked a button and talked through my wireless bluetooth headset that look like regular earbuds (my phone was in my pocket). The call concluded, my music resumed, i grabbed my phone from my pocket, clicked over to my news app and began reading a news story (related to the most recent election) from my phone that was still streaming music to my wireless bluetooth headset.  Did i mention i am writing this from 30,000ft thats thirty thousand feet in the air!

Shortly after takeoff i looked out my window, i have a window seat, and by the way, was given a free upgrade on this leg of my journey. It might have something to due with the fact that i wore my Skywest jacket…but neither i nor they mentioned it. However, this happens to be a flight operated by Skywest for Delta. Anyway, i looked out my window a bit ago and caught the glimpse of another plane flying in the opposite direction of the one i am traveling on. i couldn’t help but wonder about the passengers on that plane, where was it going and was there someone like me on that plane headed in the other direction? Like maybe my doppelgänger, you know my alternate universe twin, like bizarro superman or for my Seinfeld friends bizarro Jerry? Those people along with my possible doppelgänger traveling to who knows where for who knows what except them of course; i am left to wonder as they are for us on this plane, i wonder if anyone on that plane even saw us? Perhaps, bizarro cj.

This brings me to this question, have you ever wondered if you are the best version of yourself? We all have special quirks that make us who we are so i am not suggesting in anyway that our individuality is bad…but are we the best version of ourselves? Can we improve on aspects of our life to make us better humans? There is a line in a movie, As Good as it Gets, where the main character says to the leading lady, “You make me want to be a better man.” Of course she is flattered by his comment. That’s a movie however, the idea is still there; are their things, people, ideas, that make you want to be a better person? And if so what does that “better” version of you look like…more profoundly, how do we get to that “better” version of ourselves? In the bizarro world the character is the opposite of the other, so if one is good the other is bad. For example, Bizarro Superman is a villain because of course Superman is a hero. Which version of you, are you?

Unlike the bizarro universe, we are not stuck being any version of ourselves that we don’t want to be. In fact because of Jesus we are able, through His transforming power, to become better people. Paul writes to the Ephesians in Chapter 2 the following:

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.”

There is the answer to the new life. Jesus in us because of God’s great mercy and love. Paul writes to the Corinthians in his second letter the following:

5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

New life. We no longer need to settle for who we once were because we are bing made new in Christ. We need only to allow Him to do what He wishes in us to make us more and more into His image. That we might carry the light into dark places in our world. We can even enter the bizarro universe and shed light there too!

you are loved,

cj

Part Two

Part Two

i have been thinking about this for weeks now.  How to exactly followup because as i wrote my heart was being stretched. i want to start by expressing the point i briefly stated in my previous post, Jesus has placed the same value on all humanity because He paid the same price for every soul that would choose Him, His life. i am not talking about self worth, i am talking about individual talent, individual gifts, individual ability, individual lives; lived out however, in one body, with one objective, one goal, one purpose, one mission, one calling.

Let’s look again at the story Jesus told of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30: (full Text Here)

(The Message) Matt. 25:14-18 “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.”

Here is what i see, two guys were blessed to do the work they were called to; two guys were unfazed by amounts because they were focused on the goal. One guy was frozen, fearful, lazy, unaccepting and judgmental. Here are the take aways, first, do not compare yourself to anyone. Second, don’t sit idly by while time and the world pass you by. Third, If you are busy with your talent, gift, ability, basically your life and you do so in the context of the Body with its objective, goal, purpose, mission…basically its calling; you will not return void that which you have been given.

Life doesn’t make sense. Why one is given more and another less with the same mission, doesn’t seem fair. However, the one in the middle didn’t think himself less than the first. He went to work with what he had and doubled the amount, still less than the first guy. Yet his reward was the same acclaim, the same prize. It was the one who refused to be about the master’s business who in the end lacked reward but faced a tragic judgement.

Here is the third servant…

24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.”

Before we get to the judgment lets look at this conversation. The servant knew the expectation of the master, yet he refused to take risks, refused to live on the edge, refused to take serious the mission. Did he doubt his talent? Did he feel slighted by the amount he was given? Did he feel he couldn’t do anything because he didn’t have enough?

There are a lot of Pastors and Churches that are much like this third servant. They live cautious lives, they wonder why they aren’t bigger, why they have no growth; they feel stuck and restricted while they look out the window and think if we only had the money, the talent, the people, the resources, the….fill in the blank. It is they that have taken the talent, the gift given them and have hid it in a safe place securing it for themselves until the master returns; it is they that i fear will hear what the third servant heard.

28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’”

Jesus didn’t just talk for the sake of conversation, His words were measured, chosen, and spoken with authority for the purpose of instructing. You are right life isn’t fair. It may appear some have more breaks than you, others may appear to be better equipped; but you are not tasked with being like everyone else…you are tasked with increasing that which you have been given. Sometimes, things need to be stripped away before real growth can occur. Sometimes, things need to be broken before they can be mended. Sometimes,  the foundation needs to be firmed up before a structure can be built.

We need to understand that we won’t ever understand everything…but what we do understand is that we don’t need to understand everything for Jesus to do what He does. He is only looking for the willing heart. The one who says, i don’t get it but yes Lord i will do it. He is looking for the Noah’s, the Daniels, the Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s, the David’s, the Ananias’, the Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Paul’s…He is looking for servants who don’t look at what they don’t have but look at the goal and say, “With God all things are possible.”

Let me close with this, it is a simple verse, about a simple idea that is also complex and complicated. It is a charge to do, to be, to not give up, to seek, to love…

1 Corinthians 13:12The Message (MSG)

12 “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”

you are loved,

cj

The Art of Not Understanding

The Art of Not Understanding

It is hard to understand sometimes, what you ask?  Life.  That is pretty much a no brainer right?  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion that life doesn’t always make sense.  In fact kids will say it all the time, “That doesn’t make any sense!”  And, they are usually 100% correct but we try to pacify them with things like, “You’ll understand when you get older” or my personal favorite, “You don’t need to understand.”  On the contrary helping people to understand, the art of not understanding is vital to civilization.  Life, isn’t always fair.  Let’s look at a story in Scripture about “talents”; We find it in Matthew 25:14-30.

Here is the story in a nutshell; The master of the house is setting out on a Journey.  He gives to three of his servants some money.  To one he gives 5 talents or basically 5 sacks of gold or silver. To another he gives two talents and to a third he gives one.  He gave to each of them according to their ability.  Let me pause here to make a point, Jesus is telling this story, and it is good and profound.  But, it doesn’t seem to make sense now does it? i mean why the difference in amounts?  i get that it is based on ability but even if one has a lesser ability shouldn’t he at least have equal chance? Meaning equal opportunity with equal resources?

These questions stump a lot of people.  We live in a world that has struggled with this idea and have made attempts to make things “fair” for all.  Time and time again these efforts have fallen short, for various reasons.  Life just isn’t fair, and that doesn’t make sense therefore, we as an intelligent species attempt to correct it.  i mean why not, shouldn’t life be fair?  This is going to be a two part series, this week i want to focus on the first part of this story told by Jesus.  The master gave to his servants, according to their abilities.  Did you catch that? Their ability.  We all have various abilities and we receive based on those abilities.

Shouldn’t we all have the same ability, the same chance, the same resources?  Why are some abilities worth more than other abilities?  What was Jesus trying to teach his disciples with this story?  i think the lesson is multifaceted.  1.  Not all abilities are worth the same however, all people are worth the same.  2.  Opportunities are earned.  3.  Abilities are another form of diversity.

We should spend less time worrying about fairness and spend more time finding out where we fit in.  How does our diversity help society better itself?  You see one seeks its own, the other shares;  One maintains status quo, the other expands its horizons; One hides, the other explores.  Jesus is looking for those that will share, expand, and explore.  The take away, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness….we won’t always understand but we always have opportunity to share, expand and explore life.

You are loved,

cj