Saturday, June 30, 2007

Starbucks Quotes

If you have gotten a cup of Starbucks coffee in the last couple of years, you have probably noticed that they each have quotes on them about any number of things. I have become fond of reading them since they often say thoughtful things even if I do not always agree with them. Recently, however, I had an experience that made me question the degree to which the corporate leaders within Starbucks are simply using these quotes to push THEIR views onto us rather than simply giving a platform to a diverse range of intelligent voices.

This story involves three statements I recently found on Starbucks' cups. I was getting a cup of coffee, and they had run out of the sleeves they put on them to keep you from burning your hands. The employees at this Starbucks simply stacked a cup into a cup instead to provide the same affect. As usual, I looked to see what the quote said. One cup was "The way I see it" #250---"In reality, hell is not such an intention of God as it is an invention of man. God is love and people are precious. Authentic truth is not so much taught or learned as it is remembered. Somewhere in your pre-incarnate consciousness you were loved absolutely because you were. Loved absolutely, and in reality, you still are! Remember who you are!"-Bishop Carlton Pearson (Author, speaker, spiritual leader, and recording artist.

Well, if you didn't care for that one too much, check the one that was on the other cup out. "The way I see it #247"---"Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure."--Bill Scheel (Starbucks customer from London, Ontario. He describes himself as a "modern day nobody")

Finally, the third quote that I saw was the one I had the most trouble believing. This statement was actually in smaller print on the bottom of both cups. "This is the author's opinion, not necessarily that of Starbucks."

Just curious, do YOU believe the third statement? Have you read a quote from C.S. Lewis on one of their cups yet? Martin Luther? Augustine? Jesus? I'm pretty sure they have a fairly large pool of pithy quotes to choose from that would make great points regarding the existence of and awesome nature of God. Interestingly, when I mentioned this to a friend, he informed me that he had heard something about this, though he had not seen the actual quotes yet. He then informed me that there was an ongoing campaign to submit quotes to Starbucks to print on their cups that might serve to balance this seemingly one sided approach to that teensy little belief that 90% of us have in God. The web address is if you're interested in submitting your personal favorite quote. I know I'll be visiting it quite frequently. Please do so respectfully and remember we represent Christ in the way we say things as well as the things we say.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Merciful Judgment of God

I know these words seem like they contradict one another--mercy and judgment, but let me show you why I do not believe that they ultimately do. We know our God is a God who loves mercy, but mercy is always tied in with judgment. In Micah 6:8, it says, "He has showed you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Later in Micah 7:18b it says, "You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy." Once again we see God's mercy in light of His anger, and His anger is ALWAYS just. I'll start with what may be slightly controversial example to make my points.

1. Hurricane Katrina

Before you click off and say, "that's it, Dennis has gone too far this time," let me start by saying, this is not an argument that I have some revelation that God judged New Orleans. You do not need to believe that to get the point I'm going to make out of this so just bear with me. I personally am not in the least upset at someone who suggests that Katrina may have been a judgment of God. Who could argue that New Orleans is known worldwide by many, many people as "sin city"? Not only Christians, but people who probably don't even know what the term sin means associate this city with its yearly flesh fest. However, my point is this. Let's say you just pretend to believe that this was the judgment of God if you don't. Consider how that judgment could have been carried out as opposed to how it was carried out. Hundreds of thousands of people could have been killed, but 99.99% of the population had evacuated the city before the hurricane even hit, and the guestimations about how many were dead after the fact proved to be gross overestimations. This was a merciful judgment of God. He accomplished ruining the city with minimal human loss of life in comparison to how it could have played out. An example of how another natural disaster(judgment) could have played out is my second example of a merciful judgment.

2. The tsunami

DUDE! You have lost it! Meriful Judgment? Okie doke, here we go. Why do I consider this a merciful judgment when it seems in contrast to Katrina to have been the ultimate judgment. I haven't kept up with the death tolls most recent corrections, but I know at one point they were estimating that it was well over 200,000 people. I suppose I should start by making sure I'm not misunderstood. In referring to these actions as judgments, I am in NO WAY stating that we don't have a responsibility to reach out to these people in any way possible to help them financially, physically, with our time and energy, and of course, with our prayers. An interesting report came out around the same time that the tsunami hit that was a yearly report about the worst countries for Christian martyrdom, and the three top offenders on the list matched perfectly with the three top death tolls from the tsunami. I know this sounds vindictive, but let me explain where I'm going with this. When a civilization is so far gone that they have essentially rejected the many cries from God to repent and only continue further down their path, the only way for Him to salvage ANY of the people is to judge the overall society in a way that shouts, "I am the One, True God." This at least provides a way of escape for those who have not completely hardened their hearts within this society. Essentially, this is an extreme option that God may reserve for salvaging as many as possible from eternal damnation.

3. Hell

Yes, I will even refer to hell as a merciful judgment because as with the preceding judgments, I consider the alternative. What is the alternative to ultimate judgment? It is God winking at sin. The alternative would be to corrupt the God of the universe. Without Him being who He is, we would not even know what justice is. Neither would we know what mercy is. He is the source of these and all things that are truly good, beautiful, and true. If He chose to corrupt Himself, this would be a terrible thing not only for Himself, but for all of His creation as well.

Again to be clear, I am not claiming to have revelation knowledge about any of these issues, but I am simply reasoning from the revelation we have been given from the Scriptures. Also, please let me reiterate that Christ came not to the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved, and it is in this spirit we as Christians should be interacting with all those around us regardless of who they are or what their circumstances are.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Gravity of God

Repentance is a u-turn and obedience is maintaining the new course heading. This is simple enough to see, but it is impossible to live out on our own. This is why we MUST appreciate and rest in the gravity of God. What I am referring to is His supernatural pull on our lives because we are redeemed when we reach out to him in faith and repentance and make our initial u-turn. We are no longer trying to do it on our own. This is the dawning of our salvation. I use the analogy of gravity because it is like we were caught within the gravitational pull of a dark star that was sucking our lives into a black hole, but a black hole is just a burned out version of the original just like anything evil and perverted. God longs for us to be back within His gravitational pull, and He has taken the necessary steps to make that a reality for anyone who will choose Him. Perhaps you are like me and have turned back after your initial u-turn to the dark star because of the sickly hold it has on our fallen nature. This is addressed also. Simply turn back again to the Father in humility, and He will begin pulling you back with His pull again.

Paul puts it this way in Romans 6, "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness?"

Remember this perhaps most of all---the best way to secure God's gravitational pull on our lives is for us to get closer to Him because gravity gets stronger the closer you get.

Or again as Paul puts it, "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."

John 17:3-"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."

Friday, June 01, 2007

Quote of the week...

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."- Paul

The Sea

This is an excerpt from a professor of philosophy at Boston College about the Sea. The speaker's name is Peter Kreeft. I hope you enjoy a small snippet of his thoughts...

"Nature is not just a thing but a sign. It's like a word, and, therefore it's not just to be looked at, but also looked along. You look along a sign not just at it. You read the sign, but modern books about the sea always look at it instead of along it so they miss its significance, its signing. They never learn the sign language which is nature's language. When they see a tree waving in the wind for instance, they never think the tree is waving at them. It's only being moved at random by air molecules. They think nature isn't signing but spastic. They're like unsocialized children who can't read body language, but nature is full of words and it's written by God. God wrote two books, nature and the Bible. We should read both. This habit of sniffing at facts and missing signs typifies our whole modern culture. It's the mind of a dog. When I point to his food, my dog always sniffs at my hand. We're like that. We've been doggedly sniffing at nature, sniffing at the sea, experimenting with it...."