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

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 5 of 5)

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 5 of 5)

The final verse of the song by Chris Renzema is, for me, the most powerful. (If you haven’t yet you can find a link to the song at the bottom of Part 1) Here is the lyric:

Like Jesus in the garden
Will you take this cup from me
Like Jesus in the garden
You don’t call where you won’t lead
I wanna love like you love
I wanna bleed like you bleed

The struggle is real, my friends. i love how Chris writes this first part, “Like Jesus in the garden, Will you take this cup from me.” It is based on Jesus’ request recorded this way in the Gospel of Luke 22:

41And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.”

The anguish in those words is unmistakable. Yet Jesus’ resolve is in the very next part of verse 42, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done.” It isn’t about our will; it is, however, completely about the Will of the Father. And like Jesus in the garden, the Father won’t lead us where He doesn’t’ first call us. His love for us is genuine, and therefore, our love must mirror His.

“I wanna love like you love,  I wanna bleed like you bleed.” What breaks the heart of the Lord should also break our hearts. What stirs the Lord to move must also stir us to action! Are you living a life that loves like that and bleeds like that? i desire to live in this way, i hope that you do too!

Seek the Lord, and boldly declare, “i don’t wanna go if you’re not going with me!” And “i wanna go where You go and stay where You stay!” i want to be where You are Lord, lead me, and i will follow.

You are loved,

cj

I DON’T WANNA GO (PART 2 OF 5)

I DON’T WANNA GO (PART 2 OF 5)

Ever feel like the Lord led you into a dead-end or just making you wander around in a desert? i remember when i was half-heartedly in ministry. i was 20 something, married, one kid, at the time. i was working retail, and taking each step, i felt the Lord directing, to advance my career. We attended a little church where we were active with the ministry. i worked with the teens and worked full time in retail. i said yes Lord! i will serve You! However, i was only half-way in the pool.

When i was eight years old, ok probably more like 12, but i don’t actually remember, i had a paper route. i so loved being a paperboy. At the end of my route was a sweet lady who invited me and my friends to use her pool at the beginning of summer. Well, on the first hot day we didn’t hesitate! We headed over and into the backyard, then into the pool. That was a huge mistake! The pool was so cold we could barely move! i am convinced that had we stayed in the water any longer, we would all have died of hypothermia. None of us went in more than waste deep. We were too cold. Even though after getting out, the lady jumped in and did a few laps. We were just too chicken and afraid. We didn’t trust the lady and we didn’t trust the thermometer.

As we continue our look at the song by Chris Renzema (see part one for a link to the song) i want us to ponder the second verse.

Like Israel on the shore,                                                                                                           All I see is crashing waves,                                                                                                   Like Israel on the shore,                                                                                                           Through the wild you make a way,                                                                                            I will go where You go,                                                                                                                 I will stay where you stay

i love this lyric. When the Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt it is easy to see why the people worried when they reached the edge of the Red Sea. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 so we, of course, know the whole story, and we even think, “after all, God did they were still afraid.” (See Exodus 14) However, i imagine our response might actually be similar to that of the Israelites, unfortunately. After the Lord parts the sea and they begin their desert journey we see the Lord never left them. They were instructed to “stay” where the Lord’s presence rested and “go” when the Lord’s presence lifted. They were told to follow the Lord as He presented Himself in their midst as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Even still it was a struggle for them, a constant struggle.

Why then do we think it will be any different for us? There will come times of struggle when we don’t fully understand the Lords leading. If you find yourself wandering in a desert or at what seems to be a dead-end, i can assure you it isn’t because the Lord has failed you or somehow given up on you. The question in those moments becomes, “are we still trusting in Him?” And as this verse ends, we must be willing to declare and follow-through, “I will go where You go, I will stay where You stay.” i had to make a decision as a young servant of the Lord, husband, and father, to step all in and immerse myself into ministry. The road has led to many places. Some appeared as dead-ends, others as a desert, yet all served a purpose as i have grown in faith and wisdom. my prayer for you is this, if you find yourself at a dead-end, or in an endless desert, that you will declare; “I will go where You go, I will stay where You stay.”

You are loved,

cj

“I Don’t Wanna Go” (part 1 of 5)

“I Don’t Wanna Go” (part 1 of 5)

Sometimes we have the best of intentions. Our desires are not against the Word, in fact, it might even be that our hearts long to worship and obey in ways we see as beneficial and glorifying to God as a whole. i remember once as a youth pastor that i desperately wanted to start up a youth worship band. i wanted it not for anything other than to build the ministry and to have the teens lead in ways that would, in my opinion, help them to grow in the Lord. Without much prayer, i just set out to do, because, hey it’s for God! Sadly, it wasn’t long and it was nothing but a sore spot, a thorn in the flesh if you will.

i learned a lot from that in that just because i wanted it doesn’t mean it is within God’s desire or timing. There is a song by Chris Renzema, that depicts this thought so very well! i will link to it’s YouTube video at the end. It is called, “I Don’t Wanna Go,” hence the title of this blog entry. In its opening lines, you get the heart of this idea of the desire to honor God as he brings to light King David’s heart of wanting to build God a Temple, a permanent structure. David’s heart was in the right place, he declared, why should the king live in a palace, while God is dwelling in a tent? David made this declaration to Nathan the Prophet, and Nathan seemed in the moment to agree, it does sound good! “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” (See 2 Samuel 7; & 1 Chronicles 17)

However, that night the Lord speaks to Nathan and says, “Nope, not today.” (Ok i paraphrased that a little) In this whole thing God reveals His desire, Nathan shares it with king David, and David prays to the Lord in gratitude. Sometimes, we won’t fully understand God’s plan. That is OK, but we still have to accept God’s plan. Back to my days as a youth pastor, although it wasn’t time in that season to have a youth band, God did eventually bless me with one. i am completely humbled by His faithfulness. Here is the verse of the song by Chris Renzema:

Like David and the temple
I wanna bring You praise
But like David and his temple plans
Your ways are not my ways
You don’t need me to build a temple                                                                                     to know that You love me still, oh

You are loved,

cj

Here is a link to the song by Chris Renzema, I Don’t Wanna Go: https://youtu.be/nZ_LUCVdh-o

To Write a Symphony

To Write a Symphony

Johann Sebastian Bach – 1685-1750 – Known as one of the greatest composers of all time drew much of his influence from classic hymns of his day using them to write Cantatas for the Lutheran Church as Thomaskantor in Leipzig. His work, of course, far more reaching than this still drew from his religious roots. As in the case of many great musicians and composers, his work was never truly finished, as displayed in his latter days, he spent most of his time coping, transcribing, expanding or programming music in an older polyphonic style until his death. Great work is never truly finished; there is always room for the master to tweak and expand.

Our life is much like a symphony that the Lord is writing. Each life is unique, gifted, and beautiful in its own way and never truly finished until the day one hears, “well done, good and faithful servant.” For many of us putting on the new self is a one time deal and then we are just marking time. We sit impatiently waiting in the quiet ticking of a hand-less clock, for the Lord’s return. We were not created to sit stagnant in time waiting; rather, we were created for such a time as this! Each day when we wake up, the day is half over. “There was evening, and there was morning . . .” This is how time is recorded in Scripture; Sunset marks the beginning of a new day. While the world sleeps, God is busy laying out His will for us. He has been setting things up and now in the middle of the day asks us to join Him. Our lives are His masterpiece. Until we cross over to the other side, we are a work in progress of the Thomaskantor.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,[a] both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:3-11

So, stop thinking you are perfect or that you need to be perfect. Stop thinking there is nothing you can do or there isn’t anything to do. Stop thinking you are useless, or washed up, or worn out.  And start asking the Lord, what are You up to today, Lord? What work do you have for me to do, inwardly and outwardly?

You are loved,

cj