Airport Coffee

Airports are weird.

I have been in a whole lot of airports in my relatively short lifetime, and they are all the same…and yet all so vastly different.

There are people, lots of people. And those people are all either waiting around and wasting time or running frantically. I so enjoy watching the spectrum of people. There are the business travelers who view flying as just another frustrating commute. There are the adventurers; these are usually the people wearing Chaco’s, use a backpack the size of a middle schooler, and openly talk about the week that has passed since their last shower. There are also the family vacationers. These families usually consist of overly excited and wide-eyed kids, an angsty and embarrassed teenager, a tired mom, and a stressed-out dad who is silently rethinking the trip.

But, no matter what airport I go to, I sometimes, ok usually…. Alright, always get a coffee. There are two reasons for this. The first, I like coffee. The second, I like “airport coffee.”

The funny thing about airport coffee is that it never tastes the same. Even if I go to a “chain” café that I am used to, it still tastes different. I could walk out of the airport and grab a cup of coffee across the street from the same chain and it would, a) be about $20 cheaper, and b) taste completely different. Airport coffee is always different, never boring, and always a well-needed refresher in the midst of my travels.

During my last trip, I was thinking about what is so different and special about airport coffee. (I know, it’s a very odd thing to think about for any length of time, but try to remember I was in an airport and very bored.) One delayed flight later I think I solved the coffee puzzle. While I’m sure there are real reasons (different water, mass productions, faster turnaround, etc.) I prefer to stick with my own reasoning.

My perspective is different.

I am looking forward to the place that I will be traveling to, whether it is a vacation or a mission trip, I am focused on where I am going. My mood tends to be one extreme or another, either stressed and anxious or relaxed and lost in thought.

Because of that, the coffee that I drink is always a nice reminder of where I am. Since it’s not a good idea to drink hot coffee fast, trust me I’ve learned that lesson, the pause causes me to slow down and refocus on my current physical location.

A few days ago, we, along with millions of other people around the globe, celebrated Easter Sunday. We celebrated Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Think about that for a second, He was really truly 100% dead…then He told His heart to start beating again.

If that doesn’t send shivers down your spine then I’m not sure anything will.

As I think about Jesus’ resurrection I can’t help but think about airport coffee. (Stick with me on this for a minute.) As we reflect on this incredible triumph that Jesus had over death it should cause us to pause, reflect, and refocus. As we think about Jesus’ resurrection we should remember that what He did was completely different from anything ever done before in history. And a life with Jesus is never boring.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”

I thank God that His mercies are new every morning. I thank God that He never gets boring. And, oh boy, do I thank God that His steadfast love for me never ceases.

I pray that God gives us a continually fresh perspective when it comes to thinking about Jesus and His resurrection. The truth of the Gospel should be as new, fresh, exciting, and wonderful as when we first heard and received it.

Airport coffee is awesome, but Jesus is awesomeerer! 

 

Spring Snow

I don’t care what the weather says…it is spring.

The calendar doesn’t lie, Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 was the official first day of Spring.

For many people across the country that is very welcomed news. However, those same people might be having a hard time believing that Spring has indeed sprung. I recently heard someone say in passing, “the weather didn’t get the memo.”

It’s hard to think about the things that define Spring; baseball, tulips, and grass that is actually green when there is still snow falling from the sky. Now, let’s be fair…this kinda happens every year, at least in the Midwest. So, with that in mind, we really shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, shame on us for expecting anything different.

Personally, I am in no hurry to usher in allergy season. However, I can still understand and sympathize with those who look longingly towards the warmer weather.

It can be an extremely frustrating thing when, even though you can see the start of the next season, you just can’t quite grasp it yet. And yes, I’m still talking about the weather, but I’m also kind of not.

You see, looking forward to the future and the sunny days that it brings can be a very healthy and helpful thing to do. The problem, however, is when that is the only thing we do.

When we only look forward to what is to come, we actually might miss some of the extraordinary things happening right in front of us. Like the strangely beautiful juxtaposition of fresh snowfall on newly budded flowers. Or a well-used snow shovel propped up against a lawn chair. Or even the fearless bit of green that pokes up from the frost covered dirt.

We cannot forget to be faithful to the present as we look forward to the future.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, this is something that I must continually remind myself of. Jesus said in the Bible that He would, one day, return to gather His church, home to Heaven with Him. Jesus told His disciples, “don’t be troubled… I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself.” (John 14:1-3)

In the book of Acts when Jesus ascended into heaven angels spoke to the disciples and said, “why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

And Jesus, Himself, told His disciples, and subsequently, all who follow Him after, that they are to be His witnesses. And in Matthew 28 He commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Jesus promises eternity in Heaven for all who believe in Him. The wonder and magnitude of that alone is incomprehensible. And yet, we are still here…on earth. Why? Because there is still work to be done. There are still people who need to know about the love and life that Jesus gives.

And so, we need to be faithful while we wait.

I would encourage you to have this same approach to the seasons in your life, those that are weather-related and those that are not. Faithfulness in the present, alongside expectations of the future, are two things that can actually coexist. But we must be diligent not to only focus on one over the other. If we only focus on the snow on the ground, then we can easily miss the greenery underneath. But if we only focus on the coming greenery then we forget our responsibilities in the present-like shoveling snow and putting the grill cover on.

So, once again, let us be faithful while we wait and trust in God’s timing. …Besides, it’ll probably snow again in May anyway.

Life and Basketball

Basketball is fun and exciting. But basketball in the month of March is…really really fun and really really exciting!

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is one of the most dramatic events in all of sports. Each year, without fail, the Tourney is filled with nail-biting finishes, dominant performances, and feel-good underdog stories.

Just a few days ago I was watching the last few minutes of a game, right as my wife and I were getting ready to leave for dinner. I had never watched either of the two teams before (and my bracket was busted) so I didn’t care who won or who lost. But let me tell you, those last two minutes were so incredibly entertaining. Every other play was met with my audible response. I stopped getting ready and stood, just a few feet from the T.V., with my eyes wide.

“Honey look at this replay!” I exclaimed at one point.

I was so enthralled with the game that I was undeterred by my wife’s apathetic response.

The game ended, I finished tying my shoes, and I walked out of the house with an adrenaline rush. Basketball in March is awesome.

Each team, whether they are an underdog or powerhouse, they all have one final goal. To win. To cut down the nets and be declared the best. To be champions. To leave a legacy. To have that “one shining moment.”

But “one shining moments” only last for a moment. Unforgettable plays eventually become forgotten. Champions are replaced, and last year’s records don’t count for anything the next season.

As I watch this year’s tournament I can’t help but think about the brevity of our lives. I know, I admit that is a strange thing to think about during an exciting game, but it’s true. Life is short. It occurred to me the other day that this year, and actually for a few years now, I am older than everyone playing in the tournament.

Just like that, in the blink of an eye, I’m an old man. Ok, that’s a tad bit dramatic, although my wife does keep finding grey hairs on my head. But the truth is still true, life is a lot shorter than we give it credit for.

With that being said, here are a couple of verses and thoughts that come to mind.

Isaiah 40:8 says that the grass withers and the flowers fade. You know what else withers and fades? Hearing and eyesight. But the verse doesn’t stop there. It continues with, “but the Word of our God will stand forever.” I can’t think of many more comforting words than that. God’s Word is full of promises and encouragements for those who put their trust in Him. If his Word endures forever, then that means that His promises to us endure forever as well.

Hebrews 9:27 says, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” Each and every one of us will have to give an account for what we do here in this short brief lifetime. Even those who trust Jesus will have to give an account for their actions or inactions. What we do in this life, even though it is short, really does matter.

Ephesians 5:16-17 says that we should be, “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” We can’t afford to let opportunities slip away from us. Each and every moment is important. As John Piper would say, “Don’t waste your life!”

What we do in this temporary life impacts our eternity. Yes, life is short, but Jesus came to earth to ensure that all who put their trust in Him don’t need to worry about perishing, but instead He offers eternal life. Real and lasting life can only be found in Jesus. He gave us a “one shining moment” on the cross that will last forever.

Soon the Sweet 16 will become the Elite 8. Then the bracket will be whittled down to the Final Four. After that, there will be a champion (*cough* Kansas…erhm what) and just like that, the tournament will be over.

Soon you will get older, and sooner than you realize, it will be your time to exit the tournament. What kind of effort will you give? What kind of legacy will you leave? Will you be a champion?

“Only one life,’ twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

-C.T. Studd

St. Patrick’s Day: You’re Doing It Wrong

Step away from the corned beef, put down that Shamrock Shake, and drop the phony accents. None of these things are what Patrick, the real-life Patrick would have wanted.

Well, maybe he would have been cool with the corned beef and shakes, but for sure not the fake accents. Those are silly.

This coming Saturday is a day that a whole lot of Americans seem to collectively lose their minds. My city dyes the river green, people drink waaay too much, you get pinched for not wearing green, and everyone claims to be just a “wee bit” Irish.

But none of this has anything to do with the man for whom this holiday gets its name. If we really want to be honoring this man’s legacy, we should go to our enemies and the people who have wronged us most in life and share a message of hope and love with them. That’s what Patrick did. And he did it because he loved Jesus.

When Patrick, who wasn’t Irish by the way, was about 16 years old his village was ransacked, and he was kidnapped and forced to become a slave. He was taken away from his home and family and was brought to Ireland. It was during his time as a slave that he put his faith in Jesus, whom he had heard about as a child but chose to ignore. It was Patrick’s relationship with Jesus that helped him to survive slavery. During his 6 years of captivity, his prayer life grew tremendously. Eventually, he escaped and returned home and was educated.

Now, there are a lot of different legends surrounding this man and his life, but what I would like to focus on today is the facts. The facts are that Patrick was transformed by God, loved God, and allowed himself to be used by God so that many other’s lives could be transformed as well.

Patrick devoted his life to sharing the Good News of Jesus’ love. His devotion to the Gospel eventually led him right back to Ireland and his former master.

Why would Patrick return to a place where horrible things happened to him, and to people that had, at one point, been his worst enemies and greatest oppressors? The answer is simple. The Good News of God’s love is really really good news.

Patrick knew that the Gospel is something that we cannot afford to keep to ourselves.

Patrick traveled all across the island explaining the good news of salvation in Jesus’ name to any and everyone who would listen to him. He cared for and loved the people of Ireland enough to share with them a life-giving message.

It wasn’t always easy, he was often met with resistance and persecution. But Patrick continued to speak about freedom in Christ Jesus in a place where he once was a slave. A whole lot of people put their trust in Jesus because of Patrick’s efforts and faithfulness.

So, if we really want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day I say that we go to those who have done us wrong and forgive them and show them love. I say that we share the good news of Jesus’ love with them.

Imagine what would happen if we went to our worst enemies and showed them this kind of ground-breaking, earth-shattering, barrier-breaking, life-changing love.

You don’t have to be Irish to do that. Patrick wasn’t.