Archive for March, 2012

Fantastic Friday’s Feature: Manalive!

G.K. Chesterton has gotten some attention on this blog already (what with Cheese and Fairy Tales as older posts); however, I feel the need to let you, my beloved reader, know that I have recently finished perhaps one of the most amusing, deep, and poignant books I have ever read.

That book, my friends, is Manalive. Recommended by my elder brother, who you may remember wrote a true Chestertonian essay called The Romance of Coffee, this short story captured my mind and ravished my attention. If a book can keep me awake past the midnight hour, dear reader, you ought to know it is indeed a good book; and this book is one such book.

The back cover of the Dover Publications copy my brother loaned me reads thus:

First published in 1912… Manalive celebrates on of G.K. Chesterton’s earliest themes: the joy of being alive. That principle is embodied in one Innocent Smith, who is taken up by a fierce wind one day and dropped on the lawn of a boardinghouse inhabited by a group of disillusioned young people. His arrival has a rejuvenating effect on this dull group.

In the course of the book, Smith courts and remarries his wife repeatedly, lives in various houses, which all turn out to be his own, and attempts murder, but only succeeds in firing life into his victims.

Perhaps the most lighthearted of all Chesterton’s “serious” books, Manalive is full of high-spirited nonsense expressing important ideas: life is worth living, one can break with convention and still maintain moral and ethical standards, and much of the behavior civilized man has been led to believe is wrong, isn’t wrong at all.

So often in life, we begin to see the incredible and amazing things around us as merely “normal”; we miss the beautiful sights and sounds that are all around us. So often we forget the beauty of this earth; and so with the beauty and radiance of Christ Himself. As one man in the book expresses, “Any habit is a bad habit.” Meaning this, that if anything we do becomes merely routine or normal or regular, we ought to check ourselves. We need to realize that the world around and the things that we do are perhaps the furthest thing from normal there is.

Professor Clyde Kilby, a professor of John Piper’s, said it this way in his list of “10 Ways to Stay Alive in the Beauty of God’s World” – I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.” (for more of this, check out this link: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/10-steps-to-stay-alive-to-the-beauty-of-gods-world )

This book is one that God has used in my life to remind me of the beauty and simple glory of the gift of life. Life is beautiful. And if this life is so wondrous, how much more that spiritual, abundant life which He gives us right here and now? How much more the eternal life we will one day have with Christ in heaven? In Him is life; and if you feel yourself dead today, if you feel yourself estranged from God, then find life today, now, in Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; without Him, we all remain dead. But thanks be to God, that through Jesus Christ, He has made a way for us to have life, abundant life, and eternal life.

Blessings on your weekend!

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When Uganda Went Viral: My Thoughts on Kony 2012

A few weeks ago, I saw many of my friends on Facebook writing about and discussing the Invisible Children documentary Kony 2012. If you happen to be uninformed, it is a thirty minute film about Joseph Kony, a Ugandan warlord who kidnaps children, forcing them to fight in his army, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army. The movie is supposed to be a call to action, publicizing Kony’s crimes and causing the world to pursue and bring him to justice. Invisible Children also has an Action Kit, which is filled with T-shirts, bracelets, and posters; from what I understand these sold out within days of the release of the Kony 2012 film.

This post is not a critique of the film, because plenty of people are doing that, and I myself am among the few who have not seen it. I am not personally attacking anyone involved with Invisible Children’s work. This post is an appeal to those of my friends who have seen the film and would consider themselves a supporter.

Ironically, I have not heard a peep from anyone since a few weeks ago about Uganda or the atrocities that continue to happen there. What this has shown me is that we are primarily a sensational generation. By this, I mean that we move from one tragedy to the next, like bees flitting from one flower to another; our care for these issues is only momentary. The question is, how much have we really done?

Do you remember a year ago, when Japan was struck by an earthquake and tsunami, causing their nuclear power plants to fail and destroying many homes? Even after a year, there are still people there who are suffering, besides the fact that the Japanese people remain one of the most unevangelized people groups in the world. Or what about Haiti – for a moment, the lens was on them; yet despite large amounts of orphans and homeless still there, you don’t hear much about them. And they are still in need of the gospel.

Why does it take a tragedy or a documentary to open our eyes to the needs of the world around us? There are people starving physically and spiritually all over this earth, but unless they are struck by a tsunami or an earthquake, we turn a blind eye. And then our eyes are opened, but only for a brief moment; we blink in shock, cry out in horror, and turn our faces away. What have we really done?

1 John 3:18 tells us, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” It is very easy to update your Facebook status, proclaiming how shocked you are about some tragedy; it is very easy to wear a wristband you bought to support some cause. I can say I love someone, but words can only do so much. What is our attitude towards these things? Is it, “That’s awful!” or “What can I do to help?”

God has called us to more. It is easy to feel like we’ve done our duty, spreading the word about these tragedies; we can pat ourselves on the back and say, “Well done.” We say we love those far away, but do we really?

Not only that, but hear me on this, for I am guilty of this as well: what have you done lately for your family? Your neighbors? Your co-workers? Your friends? Your enemies? It is so easy to say we support some cause overseas, because we garner the applause from the world around us. You don’t get that from washing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, or going the extra mile at work. Anyone who is without Christ around you is without hope in this earth (Eph. 2:12); they could be dying inside, and you may be unaware. Your Christian friends could be struggling with their faith or some tragedy in their own life; have you opened your eyes, ears and hearts to them?

Friends, I am not saying it is bad to spread the word about Joseph Kony or any tragedy in this earth. I am not saying that if you are the type to go to places like Haiti when there’s a tragedy to support them, that that act is wrong. I am simply asking you, what are you doing about the tragedies that occur around you daily? How are you praying for and loving on those closest to you? For if we do not love our actual neighbors, what makes us think we actually love our foreign “neighbors”?

Uganda doesn’t primarily need Kony to be stopped; its primary need is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the hope of Eternal Life, and the forgiveness of sins. Praise God if Kony is once and for all brought to justice; but Jesus said that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents” (Luke 15:10).

Let us bring the good news to all, starting with those sitting right next to us.

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I would like to share two videos as well that helped me put my thoughts into words. The first is much less serious, titled “You Are Not an Activist”; much of what I said was inspired by this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4U5sPXSvFXY

The second video is quite different, and is a story from a Ugandan about the power of the gospel and forgiveness. I hope you are as blessed by this as I was: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pdNgQr-I6w

God bless!

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Fantastic Friday’s Feature: Biblical Manhood Series

Hello all! Today is Friday, which means that it’s time for another Fantastic Friday’s Feature!

This week’s feature is a three part sermon series given by one of my favorite preachers (if I can say that) Paul Washer. Mr. Washer is not a man to beat around the bush when it comes to truth and he speaks straighter than many a man I’ve heard in this generation. A subject that particularly interests Mr. Washer is the lack of men in our generation. Thus, he is fighting to restore the true masculine growl that once embodied Christianity in the persons of Paul, Peter, and other such men throughout Christian history. Each sermon will run at least an hour, but you can always do what I did, and watch a few minutes here and there.

The first message is called “What a Man is Not”. This message is a general call to men to wake up and act once more as men. It can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U-JmgBnFHk

The second message is called “Are You Ready for a Relationship?” and, though it is targeted towards single men, it is a strong message to any and every man about true masculinity in the arena of marriage and family. Mr. Washer pulls no punches in this message, and even if you never get married, the benefits of this message affects every area of life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVXXm49qg0I

The final message is called “A Young Man’s Attitude Towards Women” which deals with the issues of lust  and more, how a man ought to behave as a gentleman. This message is all about what it means to be a man in regards to “treating the younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Tim. 5:2). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJqE9qchGpo

And, if you still don’t feel like you have time for a long message, you can watch this three minute Bravehearted Thot to get a taste of what God has done in the life of Paul Washer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVeXy7mPL0M

I hope you are as blessed as I have been by Brother Washer and his messages. He is a voice of truth in this generation, and we would do well to heed what he says. God’s richest blessings on you!

 

 

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Eternity and the Emerald Isle

Two days ago, people all over the world celebrated the holiday St. Patrick’s Day, probably by wearing green and looking out for the little people. Much like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day is a beloved holiday, but many people know little of its origins. I hope I can shed some light on this man, who was the first missionary to a pagan Ireland.

Patricius was born in the 4th century in Kilpatrick, Scotland to a relatively well-to-do family. During his youth, he wrote that he did not much care for God and thought that priests were fools. His entire life changed, however, when he was taken captive by Irish raiders when he was fourteen and taken as a slave to a pagan land. At this time, Ireland was entirely unevangelized, and the people worshipped the forces of nature, had priests called Druids, and were generally superstitious. Patricius became a shepherd of sheep and had little clothing and food. It’s a miracle that he survived for the six years he did.

As many people are wont to do in dire circumstances, Patricius began to pray, remembering the God he learned of in his youth. He wrote, “Tending flocks was my daily work, and I would pray constantly during the daylight hours. The love of God and the fear of him surrounded me more and more – and faith grew and the Spirit was roused, so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers and after dark nearly as many again, even while I remained in the woods or on the mountain. I would wake and pray before daybreak – through snow, frost, rain – nor was there any sluggishness in me (such as I experience nowadays) because then the Spirit within me was ardent.”

One day, Patricius heard a voice telling him that it was time to go home. Travelling at least 200 miles to the coast, Patricius found a ship that would give him passage to his homeland. Trusting in God he went; but not without great trial. When they landed, they began to traverse inland. They found only desolation (perhaps due to the Gaul’s invasions). They found themselves for some time without food, and the captain challenged Patricius: “How about it, Christian? You say your god is great and all-powerful, so why can’t you pray for us? We’re starving to death, and there’s little chance of our ever seeing a living soul!”

Patricius replied, “From the bottom of your heart, turn trustingly to the Lord my God, for nothing is impossible to him. And today he will send you food for your journey until you are filled, for he has an abundance everywhere.” Not moments later, a heard of pigs come running down the hill towards them, and we can be certain they feasted well that night.

Reaching home, Patricius was quite a different person than when he was captured. As he stayed in his parent’s house one night, Patricius had a dream. He saw a man he knew in Ireland standing before him imploring, “We beg you to come and walk among us once more.” He was stabbed to the heart with conviction, and began his studies as a bishop. Patricius would become perhaps the first great missionary since Paul the Apostle.

Patricius began to evangelize the Irish people. Many legends abound about this time of his life – some say he could change into a deer to hide from his enemies – but we can be certain that, as always, there were those who hated him and those who loved him. It is evident that Patricius had a deep love and care for the people God has called him to evangelize. He was concerned with the slaves, saying, “But it is the women kept in slavery who suffer the most – and who keep their spirits up despite the menacing and terrorizing they must endure. The Lord gives grace to his many handmaids; and though they are forbidden to do so, they follow him with backbone.”

Thomas Cahill says of Patricius in How the Irish Saved Civilization, “Patrick devoted the last thirty years of his life – from, roughly, his late forties to his late seventies – to his warrior children, that they might ‘seize the everlasting kingdoms’ with all the energy and intensity they had lately devoted to killing and enslaving one another and seizing one another’s kingdoms. When he used that phrase in his open letter to the British Christians, he was echoing the mysterious saying of Jesus, which seems almost to have been uttered with the Irish in mind: ‘From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.’ In the Gospel story, the passionate, the outsized, the out-of-control have a better shot at seizing heaven than the contained, the calculating, and those of whom this world approves. Patrick, indeed, seems to have been attracted to the same kinds of oddball, off-center personalities that attracted Jesus, and this attraction alone makes him unusual in the history of churchmen.”

St. Patrick did more for our world than perhaps we can ever know. He wrote of his constant dangers, and this is how I shall end:

“Every day I am ready to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved – whatever may come my way. But I am not afraid of any of these things, because of the promises of heaven; for I have put myself in the hands of God almighty.”

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This is a link to what is known as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”, a famous prayer. Though it probably was not written by the man himself, it is a powerful prayer and represents everything he stood for: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick’s_Breastplate

Much of what I discovered about St. Patrick’s story was found in the book I mentioned, “How the Irish Saved Civilization” by Thomas Cahill. It’s an interesting read, particularly if you love history, and puts the importance of St. Patrick in context.

For a fun video about the other little things about St. Patrick’s Day, check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5tth-ntGO0

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Optimism vs. Pessimism vs. Christianity

We’ve all heard the classic illustration of the glass half full (no mystery as to which I am). Lately, I have been thinking upon these two attitudes towards life and have been wondering which, if either fits with the way Paul, Jesus or Peter viewed the world around them. As I examined my own attitude, along with the attitudes of those in the Bible and Christians in ages past, I have discovered some interesting and powerful conclusions. Will you join me in this adventure?

Optimism

As I said before, I am, by nature, something of an optimist. I fit the bill for the definition Dictionary.com gives: “the disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.” Whenever someone mentions a crisis in their life or the world at large, my instinct is to think, “Surely it’s not as bad as that.” An optimist is great if you need a little brightness in your day, but terrible if you need sympathy and comfort during a crisis, because we’ll always be telling you it’s not all bad.

In one of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown detective stories, the old Catholic priest comes upon the murder of what we might term a “motivational speaker”, a dear, old man who spread cheer everywhere he went. When discussing with an officer about why someone might be motivated to kill such a man, Father Brown replied,

“Yes… he was cheerful. But did he communicate his cheerfulness? Frankly, was anyone else in the house cheerful as he? (The man had a daughter and a few servants). You see,” said Father Brown, blinking modestly, “I’m not sure that the Armstrong cheerfulness is so very cheerful – for other people. You say that nobody could kill such a happy old man, but I’m not so sure… If I ever murdered somebody,” he added quite simply, “I dare say it might be an Optimist.” (The Three Tools of Death)

The problem with Optimism is that it denies the evils around it, painting them a little bit rosier than they really are. And often, as in the above murder mystery, Optimism is often a cover up for deep depression.

Pessimism

“Ah,” you might say to yourself at this point. “If Optimism is not the way, then perhaps it is found in Pessimism.” It would seem that Pessimism is better suited to the world we live in. But is it the way God wants us to view the world? According to ye old Dictionary.com, Pessimism is, “the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, conditions, problems.” The Pessimist is able to see the pain today and coming ahead. The problem is that, too often, that’s the extent of their view.

When I think of people who had a dim view of life, I think of the Israelites in the wilderness, particularly the ten spies who held an evil report. As the story goes, after a long journey in the wilderness, the Lord has led the people of Israel to the edge of the Promised Land. This is it – the moment that everything before this has been leading up to. Twelve spies are sent into the land and, after forty days, return with this report:

And they told him, and said, “We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.” And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” But the men that went up with him said, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

God had promised; yet they believed He wasn’t able to deliver. They saw the troubles – and nothing more. Whereas the Optimist paints with rose-colored hues, a Pessimist paints in only grays and shadows.

Christianity

So what have we to stand upon? Both Optimism and Pessimism have advantages; yet neither is the way the saints of old and Christ Himself viewed the world. Paul commands us in Romans 12:15 to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” We must not only be the smiles and cheers; we must be also to sympathize and comfort those who are weeping and mourning. We must be able to laugh and to cry.

We must also be able to clearly see the pain ahead, yet also the joy; they walk hand in hand. This is the perspective Christ had, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). The Pessimist is correct in seeing the pain; for, as Paul said, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12).” But the Optimist is correct in seeing the joy even amidst the pain, for in the crisis of bonds, Paul also said, “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).

So often, we blame our attitudes on our personalities. I, as an Optimistic sort, feel it is hard for me to sympathize with others’ pain; does that mean I am exempt from Paul’s command in Romans 12:15? Or perhaps you are a little on the Pessimistic side; does that give you sufficient reason to “Complain about life always; and again I say, complain” (1 Opinions 4:1)? Not once is the word “personality” or similar terms in the Bible. Are we all of different sorts of personalities? Yes; but our personality is no excuse.

When we are in Christ, there is joy, peace, love and total satisfaction. If you find your heart hard when others tell you of their pains and trials, pray that God would help you to weep with those that weep. If you find it hard to feel joy in dark times, pray that you would experience joy and satisfaction in Christ. God is willing and able to help us, no matter what our troubles be, if we will ask Him. I will conclude with the words of Paul in Romans 8:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is He that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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In Adam vs. In Christ

I remember some time ago, I went through the New Testament and found every instance of the phrase “in Christ”, “in Jesus” or “in him” where applicable. It was an incredibly insightful study and I would encourage you to do the same and discover the riches we posses in Christ. So often, however, riches aren’t appreciated unless they are paired side by side with poverty. Blue Letter Bible (http://www.blueletterbible.org/ – a great resource, by the way) had a blog post pairing the contrast of who we were “in Adam” and who we are now “in Christ”. They only had the references, so I fleshed out the examples. Let this be a meditation for you as you consider the greatness of what our Savior has done for us.

In Adam

In Christ

Sin (Rom. v. 12) …

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

… Righteousness (II. Cor. v. 21).

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

 Death (Rom. v. 17) …

For by one man’s offence death reigned by one…

… Life (I. John v. 11).

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

Banishment (Eph. ii. 13)

… ye who sometimes were far off…

… Nearness (Eph. ii. 13).

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Condemnation (Rom. v. 18)

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation…

… Justification (Rom. v. 1).

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…

Curse (Gal. iii. 10) …

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

… Blessing (Eph. i. 3).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…

Judgment (John iii. 36)

… he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

… Deliverance (II. Cor. i. 10).

Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us…

Shame (Ezekiel xvi. 5)

None eye pitied thee, … to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person…

… Glory (John xvii. 24).

Father, I will that they also, whome thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me…

Poverty (Isaiah lv. 2)

Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? Your labor for that which satisfieth not?

… Riches (II. Cor. viii. 9).

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Sickness (Isaiah i. 5, 6)

… the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it…

… Health (Psalm xxiii. 3).

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Defeat (II. Tim. ii. 26)

And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

… Victory (I. John v. 4).

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Sorrow (Gen. iii. 17) …

… cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life…

… Joy (Rom. v. 11).

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have no received the atonement.

Weakness (Rom. v. 6)

… we were without strength…

… Power (Phil. iv. 13).

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Enmity (Rom. viii. 7)

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

… Oneness (Gal. iii. 28).

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Bondage (Heb. ii. 15)

And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage…

… Liberty (Gal. v. 1).

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Let me ask you, are you in Christ? Which column speaks of your life? Are you under the thumb of sin or is your righteousness found and fashioned in Jesus? Are you in spiritual death or have you found life abundant in Jesus? Are you far from God today or have you been made night by Christ’s shed blood? All that we had in Adam was death; and Christ died the death for us, that we might have life forevermore in Him. Where once we were condemned, the very enemies of God, we have been justified and been adopted as His son or daughter! Where once we were in bondage to the fear of death and sin, we now have liberty from sin and can face death with joy! O, that you would know the riches that are in Christ today! If you do not know Him, come to Him and humble yourself before the throne of God. As the old hymn says, “Nothing in your hand do bring; simply to the cross you must cling!” He will by no means cast you out. If you do know Him, rejoice, brother, rejoice, sister and see all that we have by the grace of God!

 

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Fantastic Friday’s Feature: The Romance of Coffee

Good day, my fabulous Fantastic Friday’s Feature readers! Last week, I featured an essay by G.K. Chesterton on the glories of cheese (which can be found here) and so this week, as you may have gathered from the title, I am featuring another delectable dainty, known by some as the dew of heaven: coffee.

Yes, coffee. But no, I am not the one to wax eloquent about this tasty treat. My brother, Zak (who also has another guest post here on “Embracing the Fairy Tale Life”), has written a brief essay called “The Romance of Coffee” in true Chestertonian style expounding upon the wonders of this drink we enjoy known as coffee. I hope you enjoy:

Chesterton once said that we all have a tendency to overlook the startling quality of the world around us.  We are inclined to use the terms “normal” or “ordinary” to classify things which in fact viciously defy these categories.  Recently, it dawned upon me that I was guilty of this crime as it pertains to my view of coffee.  I had allowed my daily contact with this magical substance to blind me to its extraordinarily poetic properties.  Filled with remorse at such a heinous offense, I have resolved to appease my conscience by writing this eulogy for coffee, the greatest of all beverages.  Indeed, the act of drinking coffee is an act of such tremendous romance that it is with great trepidation that I wade into the waters of such a deep and mysterious subject.

The essence of romance lies in thinking that the more dangerous something is, the more beautiful it is.  Falling in love is romantic because it involves a loss of control over our actions, which is a very dangerous state of affairs.  Sacrificing your life for someone that you love is romantic because it involves danger to the physical body.  Now, the romance of coffee lies in its association with two of the most dangerous things in our world: fire and death.

One of the most attractive qualities of coffee is the warmth that it brings to those who partake of it.  However, it is sobering to realize that the warmth of coffee is quite capable of being turned to more harmful purposes.  The mugs that allow us to drink this beverage are all that restrain the destructive power of this fiery liquid.  By such modest means, we casually harness the ancient qualities of Greek fire.  However, only a slight movement of the arm would thrust this fire into the face of another, thus releasing all the potential of this primeval weapon.  We have laws that set limits to the carrying of firearms, but what laws protect us from those who carry an arsenal of portable lava?  When we see a man carrying a cup of coffee, we see a man who dares to fill his goblet at the fountain of flame.  When Prometheus gave fire to man, could he ever have foreseen how contemptuously man would regard this gift, that he would have the boldness to transform it into a consumable substance?  Not content merely to wield such an awesome power, we daily flaunt our mastery of this element by absorbing liquid fire into our very being.

Coffee also has a bitterness to its taste that carries with it an echo of the bitterness of death.  Yet, it is this bitterness that the coffee drinker loves.  Is there anything more romantic than how we so willingly give ourselves to this drink of death?  I cannot think of a more prevalent and evocative memento mori in our culture.  Even the blackness of coffee is reminiscent of death.  I never drink a cup of coffee without thinking of Socrates, who cheerfully drank the hemlock that destroyed his life.  As I drink, I participate in a symbolic martyrdom, because the essence of martyrdom is a willingness to embrace death.  The paradox of coffee is that it stimulates life and vitality, while cloaking itself in the blackness and bitterness of death.  When God gave us the gift of coffee, he was giving us the gospel in liquid form.

In all truly romantic things we will find the gospel, because the gospel is the greatest romance story of all.  It is the story of God embracing death, so that we could find life.  It is a beautiful mystery, and a mystery that no one is better suited to understand than the coffee drinker.

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