Theology of Coffee

God In All Things

This is a guest post by Jacqueline Shrader.

starbucks red cupWhen I was still a youngster in high school, my gaggle of gal pals and I loved to bring each other Starbucks in the morning. Nothing was better than the sugary winter drink of a white chocolate mocha, under the guise as a coffee. Nothing made me feel better than my cup of ‘joe’ in hand, flaunting the red holiday cups and demonstrating my maturity as a coffee drinker. A few years passed, and I moved to Seattle to go to college. There, I soon became acquainted with real coffee. My flirting with real coffee quickly escalated into a full on relationship. I tried to learn more about the history, the roasting styles, the economics, and growing patterns—even going so far as to spend a summer in Costa Rica volunteering on a farm that grew coffee. Now, in my post-grad life, I…

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Let it Ride

Talked to Chris the other day. We were talking  about dating. We talked about how when you put a relationship in a box with a bunch of rules, it tends to smother the relationship. We read so many blogs and articles about how we should date, and what’s safe. Sometimes by trying to protect that relationship, we end up destroying it. Instead of letting God lead, we try to direct it, control it, and ultimately, no one is really enjoying it and no one can really be themselves #runonsentencealert

Josh and I talked the next day, and he gave me an analogy that gamblers use at craps table. When the table’s hot, and your bets are just going, just “let it ride”, and as I experience more of life, I’m seeing that he’s on point. <insert on point emoji>

In small group, we were talking about Love (again). As a backstory, we have a tendency to get stuck on this subject because some of the boys.. eh I mean men, have trouble comprehending what love is. I’m teasing them of course, but I think they’re really onto something. We really can’t grasp the verity and gravity of what love is because God is love, and God is immense, awesome, and beyond our human comprehension. He is the definition of love, not the oft-mistaken 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 verse. So why talk about this? In small group, we were talking about how 1 Cor, Gal 5, and Rom 12 all relate to our understanding of love. One of the main things I drew from that lesson (good job daniel), was that love is many things, but God is none of those things. What? Didn’t I just say God is love? So, what I mean is that love is always interpreted from our human perspectives. We see love in a hollywood-tainted perspective. But even the best love that this pagan world can express or show doesn’t even scratch the surface of the ethos that God represents. His love is incomprehensible, even though we know the grace of God is sacrificial and selfless. In our daily lives, we can’t even comprehend that. Or perhaps, instead of saying “we”, I should just say “I” because I really should only speak on my own behalf. I’m not rebuking anyone, nor am I criticizing a generation of christians. I really think that we have all been transformed by God’s grace, and as we continue to pursue Him, we will become more selfless, more faithful, more hopeful, more full of joy, and of course, more loving.

Anyway, something interesting is in Galatians 5, there lists a bunch of bad stuff – debauchery, sexual immorality, sensuality, adultery – you know, stuff that you get in trouble for, that even the general unbeliever considers unethical. What I realized is if you pursued love in a worldly sense, you would potentially end up in one of these. What’s the point of physical intimacy if not for the sake of marriage? And what’s the point of marriage if you don’t seek to love your husband or wife with grace that was first demonstrated to us by God? But then in the chapter, it continues to list the fruits of the spirit. And what I realize is, all these things are things that are good, that we want. And you don’t get them by pursuing love directly. you get them by pursuing God first and foremost. Of course easier said than done, but it makes all the sense in the world, yet on a daily basis, I fall short of that intent. I am constantly sinning, and repent little. It’s really an unfortunate blessing sometimes to receive so much grace from the Lord. I don’t deserve it.

So, what I resolve to do this year, as a new years resolution is to love, but not just that. It’s to let it ride. haha, thanks josh. It’s really to love those around me, by first loving God. It’s to build relationships, without rules, but still with wise counsel and boundaries about whats righteous and good, but still let it ride. I want love, and I want joy, and faith, but I won’t pursue those first because I’ll pursue God first. And as I do that, I’ll let it ride, again. I’ll do all of this because He really is worth the risk. And the ride is a hella fun haha

“When you delight in the Lord, God shows you that He’s pretty awesome.” – Derek Le

A to Eflat/Dsharp

I tested my vocal range today just to see what notes I’m comfortable singing and what notes I’m capable of singing. I focused mainly on the my chest voice since my falsetto hasn’t been practiced in a while. I used a piano, and I don’t know how people normally evaluate their singing range (I’m pretty much an amateur when it comes to this stuff). My comfortable singing range is about G1 to E3, about 13 keys/notes on a keyboard. However, I’m capable of singing from a low Dsharp to a high A above middle C, about 18 1/2 notes/keys.

Honestly, my range hasn’t improved since my high school senior year stint in choir. I remember when this sort of stuff used to be really important to me. In choir, I was a tenor 2, and I always felt like I needed to prove to everyone that I deserved to be in that section. The other 7 tenors had much more refined voices than I did, and they had all been singing for a lot longer than I had been. They also had a slightly higher range than I did and seemed to sing more comfortable in that range around E-G above middle C.

I took it as a huge hit on my pride when the choir direction bumped me down to baritone/Bass1 for one of the songs in our spring concert, not because I thought I would be judged, but because it was a confirmation of my abilities as a singer. My level of self consciousness was also heightened because I was the only senior tenor. I had a few other friends who had also joined choir that year for the first time (also as seniors), but they were all placed as basses. For that entire year, and perhaps even some of my freshman year of college, my identity as a singer consumed me. I constantly felt inadequate and that the ceiling was measured by the performance and abilities of those around me who were much more capable. Around the same time was the birth of the Tim Be Told craze. Tim, the band vocalist, can sing a C or D above middle C (I know this because my college roommate Daniel tried to hit the note all night one random night – Daniel was also a Tenor 1).

I guess I was reflecting today how I shifted away from that identity as a poor singer, and it was due in large part to learning about who God was and how He sees me as a child worth saving. I often forget the impact that He’s had on my life and on things that I have since forgotten or not reflected on. Somehow, in those years of college, I stopped focusing my mind on things of a temporary nature, and I started to understand what we were created for and why we should do it. We can sing because we yearn to sing praise to our God. We want to sing because there are created to praise Him. Slowly but surely, I felt less shame in my inadequacy as a singer and more pride in being a child of God. I think that’s pretty awesome. I’m not sure God gave me any defining moment where I decided singing didn’t matter much anymore (honestly it still matters a tiny bit), but I was no longer fixated on my abilities, others’ judgement, or improving to a standard set by what I can see around me.

Anyway, merry christmas! Lol

Random thoughts that I’d like to get out in text so I can go back to studying

1. Haircut – If you didn’t know, I got a haircut recently. The new style is a side-swept comb over with a part on my left (your right). I tried this half-heartedly last December-February, but this time, I decided really train my hair. Recently, some people have noticed and mentioned to me, “Oh Derek, you got a haircut.” My first response will be, “Oh Thank you.” Obviously, that’s an awkward situation. I think the ‘thank you’ comes as a reflex. I don’t think I’m expecting a compliment as much as I am anticipating it. I’m not sure if I’m seeking a compliment or want people to notice (I’m sure part of me does), but this same dialogue has occurred a handful of times already. Haha, its just been awkward, maybe more so for me than for the other person. Maybe not.

2. Girlfriend – Random thought, but I do want a girlfriend who can dress me. I don’t think my fashion sense is terrible, but I don’t think it’s very good either. Up until maybe this past summer, I was consistently a khaki shorts/black basketball shorts sort of guy, and suddenly, I became self aware (for better or for worse). I don’t want to invest an exorbitant amount into fashion, but I believe there’s value in presentation. Back to the girlfriend thing – haha, generally speaking, a girlfriend who can help me out in this area would be great. Lately, I’ve envisioned myself living out of a Jcrew/Levis/AmericanApparel magazine, but I certainly don’t have the means to afford it. I would put all my pride aside even if she treats me like Ygrette treats John Snow.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about:

3. Regifting – Tis the season of Christmas which means it’s the season of gifts. Part of that implies more secret santa and white elephant gift exchanges. The other part of that implies re-gifting past christmas gifts that have been stowed away and gone unused. And finally, these gifts can be given new life through a new white elephant gift exchange. I’m mainly writing about it because this christmas, I’m taking part in both a Secret Santa and a White Elephant gift exchange, and I’ve been frantically trying to pick the right gifts, while trying to divy up the remaining “unused” gifts for other people who I actually think they’d be appropriate for. I do love giving gifts, but re-gifting just doesn’t feel the same. It’s okay though. Whether you have much wealth or simply meager means, a gift is still a gift, and I find value in the person who dedicates their time to finding a gift for me. I just hope some of my recipients feel the same way.

“I’m a big WORDS person.”

So, what does it mean to be a WORDS person? Generally speaking, I define it as being encouraged through words (spoken/read), enjoying listening to spoken or reading words, and being energized through expressing yourself through words (written or spoken).

I would never genuinely say I am a WORDS person. Sometimes, I used to think it, but never out loud. I love expressing myself as an external processor, but lately words have generally been a challenge.

Someone that I met up with today said she was a WORDS person, and I could tell she was truly passionate about words. And honestly, lately I’ve been really out of practice when it comes to WORDS. Today, I was sharing with her about life, and I could barely get the words out or express myself adequately. I feel like I’m completely out of practice. I used to talk so much – sharing opinions, ministry, leading meetings, leading bible study, evangelism, praying, counseling others, and the list goes on. This, of course, mostly has to do with things like relationships, but to me, relationships are the most important thing of all. I’m just out of practice expressing myself, and I stumble on my words a lot more than I used to.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just me reflecting on where I am now compared to a couple years ago. I should do more of that too… “reflecting”… Anyway, back to finals!

Lights don’t whine

I listened to this podcast from Breakaway ministries today on my way to and from class. My drive normally about 25 minutes each way, perfect amount of time to fit in the spoken word of God. Here are some of the highlights of Ben Stuart’s message:

  1. Phillipians 2:14-30 was the passage. Verse 14 starts, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.
  2. As humans/college students, we spend about 40% of our conversations complaining.
  3. Complaining is completely selfish because it brings nothing constructive or beneficial to our relationships
  4. Oftentimes, the first rationale we have to our complaints is ‘everyone else does it too,’ but that should only reinforce our desire as Christians to stand out as a light in the world. We do not want to be like the world because we know we are not of it.
  5. And lastly, the only way to be genuinely interested with people, you must first be genuinely interested in Jesus.

This message was really convicting for my to hear. First of all, I listened to the whole thing while driving in rush hour. I don’t know how many of you drive during rush hour, but sometimes it feels like Houston is trying to torture me through fear and trembling by putting the worst drivers in my path. Drivers who lane-change without looking, or the giant suburban driven by a woman on her phone, or an old man who can’t see over the steering wheel of his Oldsmobile. I’m particularly irked by people who lane change without signaling, and especially those who manage to turn on their signal just as they change lanes. IMO, the purpose of your signal is to notify others that you’re changing lanes, or to yield traffic, and people who don’t do it appear as either selfish or ignorant. Anyway, I’m sure I’ve blogged about Houston traffic before, but my purpose in explaining my frustrations is that while listening, it really laid out my heart for me to see. At that very moment, I could see the selfishness of my own heart. At a moment’s notice, I could easily be someone complaining about what was wrong with my life. My responsibility as a Christian is to breathe life and encouragement into others, but here I was in the solitude of my own car, “spending time in the word”, sinning against people in my own heart. Today, I spent the better part of the day thinking about how I can consistently surrender my grumbling heart to the Lord. I know there are things I can control like gossip and complaints about traffic, but what I seek is something more profoundly transformative, something only the complete utter devotion to Jesus can give.

So, I just wanted to share that tidbit of my day with all of you. I ask that you would pray for me right now for transformation and humility as I continue to be sanctified on this journey called life. Amen.

Reading is more fun than playing Gameboy

What would I do with my free time if I was all alone? Starting from my childhood until the present day, I’d probably alternate between any of following:

  • gameboy
  • tv/anime
  • read
  • facebook/internet/shop
  • sports

Yes, I still play my gameboy today, although now it’s called a nintendo 3DS. I still do all of these at least to a small extent, but the one thing I do the least is read. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot though. Young adult fiction like Mockingjay, news articles, short stories, francis chan books, and the list continues. There’s something incredibly therapeutic about reading a story to visualize it rather than visualizing a story while reading subtitles. My imagination can intuitively construct setting from the words on the page and fill in the rest of the blanks. This afternoon, I honestly chose to go to barnes and noble to read a recently released book instead of sitting at home playing my 3DS, watching a movie, or any of the other items on the list above. It was really relaxing.

Now, if only I could get myself to read my bible with as much enthusiasm.