QTMs for 9/28/19: From Humility To Excellence

Humility is one of those things we may find confusing to define, but I believe we all agree what humility’s absence looks like.

Definitely. Espresso grind.

I recently read that almost everyone you meet claims to be humble. Yet even while making that claim, they have their eye on the Trinity just in case there’s a vacancy.

QTMs is my own shorthand for Quiet Time Musings. At one time I sent at least one such post each morning, and its practice became more habitual than enjoyable. That’s one of the reasons I stopped writing them. Two others are that I’m continuing work on the manuscript for my first book, which takes time. The second is that I’ve been forced by my web hosting site to switch to new servers. There’s more to that than meets the checkbook, so suffice it to say I’ve been slowed down and distracted. Frustrated, evUN. (Some of you read that in Snagglepuss’s voice. I heard you.)

No matter where I’m reading during each morning’s quiet time, I always find good, worthy counsel in Psalms and Proverbs. This year I’ve been reading out of the English Standard Version, and the subtle differences are always instructive. I love to learn new ways of understanding and applying what the Bible has to say.

This morning some things Psalm 25 has to say about humility’s link with learning grabbed my attention. My habit is to point out what I’m learning, rather than to bore you quoting Scripture. The section of my focus, however, is verses 8 through 14. Get yourself a refill of java and let’s think together.

God “instructs sinners in the way”. Okay, we sort of expect that. It’s what follows that interests me. He “leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way”.

Yeah? So? Repetitive, right?

Nope. Only one who is teachable can be led. Only one who wants to learn can be taught. Note the difference between “God instructs sinners” and “He leads and teaches the humble”. There’s a stark difference between, “Okay, goofoffs, listen up!” and “Come on over here and take a load off; I’ve something to share with you.”

I just read this morning of a Port St. Lucie, FL 8th grade teacher who was fired because she refused to give lazy, impudent students at least 50% for not handing in their required work. They weren’t interested in being either led or taught, so she was restricted to only instructing them.

This passage reminds that in times when these Scriptures were written, teachers often walked along, speaking as they walked. Those wanting to learn from them walked along with them, both to hear and to bounce questions off them.

It reads that “all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness” toward those wanting to follow after Him. That implies a close, growing relationship between teacher and learners.

Think back. Who were your favorite teachers in school? Your favorite profs in college or grad school? What made them so?

This Psalm says those same things apply, albeit perfectly, to God’s desired relationship with you. Weren’t some of your most memorable times with friends those times when you walked along together, sharing thoughts and ideas? The promises here indicate that kind of closeness between God and anyone humble enough to want to read (hear) what He has to teach.

Your humility – remaining curious and teachable – is your pathway to excellence.

Check out verse 14. Really? Friendship with God?

© Copyright D. Dean Boone, September 2019

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GRANGER at Halloween for 10/26/16: THE TEAR IN THE WRAPPER

Truth in advertising“, it read.

Granger was fed up with the glut of political flyers in his mailbox and inboxes.  Tossing on his desk the garishly colored hit piece in yoga pants by a former state senator, he swung around and gazed unfocused out the window at a grayish, cotton-streaked sky with bruise-blue accents.  Chuffing through his nose, he thought, “Even the sky’s puzzled by it all.”

Bemused, he reached for his “Coffee Made Me Do It” mug.  Just before he got it to his mouth, he noticed the “fun-size” Butterfinger laying on his desk; it had been hidden by the big black mug.  Glancing over at the glass bowl full of assorted Halloween-sized candy, he saw many other bars identical to the one huddled behind his coffee.  You won’t get away from me-e-e . . .

Image result for fun-size Butterfinger

Amused at the desire-borne moisture in his mouth, he glommed onto the familiar yellow-orange-gold wrapper.  Granger actually licked his lips as he tore the wrapper lengthwise.

Opening the wrapper, he grimaced in disgust.  Really?  Instead of the neat, compact one-by-two-inch chocolate-covered nougat he expected to find, a sharded mess of odd-shaped pieces had fallen onto his black crew-neck tee and khaki pants.

Irritated, he started to grouse about something more to clean up when he suddenly got quiet.

I know people like that, he reasoned.  Brightly packaged, looking like others in The Bowl, like they’ve got it all together–until the wrapper comes off.  Unwrapped, they’re a ragged, jagged collection of misshapen pieces just waiting to fall all over the place.

Yeah, I know people like that.  I’ve been like that.

Image result for people wearing I'm fine masks

As these thoughts jostled each other in his mind, he glanced again at the phrase off the discarded voting flyer:  “Truth In Advertising”.

 

Granger’s eyes blurred and his voice thickened as he spoke aloud, a habit of those who spend most of their time alone.  “Oh, yeah.  Many’s the time that, had my wrapper torn, all my hidden insecurities, my personal misgivings, self-doubt, all those questions about myself would be laying all over in a huge, untidy mess just like–here he made a rueful face as he surveyed the slightly-sticky, sweet mess he’d dumped on his clothes– “my ill-fated little candy bar buddy, may it rest in pieces.”

 

Later, wearing a comfortable black-and-red shirt with the sleeves rolled half up and a soft pair of old jeans, he stood with mug in left hand and coffee carafe in right, thinking about the recent experience.  Shaking his head as if to wake up, Granger poured a fresh, fragrant cup of Community Golden Caramel, returned to his desk chair and sat pondering.

Is it wrong to present a public appearance that’s attractive, appropriate to one’s task?  Does that not reflect good self-image and -respect?

Is it deceptive to present an outward persona that’s positive and uplifting, even when one’s interior landscape more resembles a barren wasteland?  As a Christ-follower, isn’t being winsome and attractive kind of necessary?

Sipping thoughtfully at the semi-sweet, smooth coffee, he answered his own question.

Deception is willful.  Wearing a mask is intended to hide, to frustrate and conceal.  If those are the reasons for the wrapper, then the advertising is dishonest and disingenuous.

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

If one’s desire is to be a consistent positive, encouraging and Christlike witness to one’s own world, then God can be trusted to know how to tenderly deal with the internal brokenness.  To fit the nonfitting.  To create beauty and symmetry just as perfectly as He did at The Original Event.

Rising to refill his mug, Granger thoughtfully nabbed another of the sweet, chocolaty morsels from the Halloween bowl.  Grinning as he softly checked that this one was whole, he admitted to himself, I don’t have this here “for the kids” since none ever come up here.  I have this here for me.  And I’m lovin’ it!

Butterfinger?

© D. Dean Boone, October 2016

 

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A December 2nd Cup for 12/1/19: ADVENTAGE JESUS

God sends His messages daily; all you have to do is watch and listen.

We know from historical and Biblical record there was a time in the world when nobody wanted to hear it. God’s message, that is. People had gotten a taste of what living a no-boundaries, no-guilt life was like. They decided always having nosey prophets and preachers around shaking fingers at them was archaic. They declared themselves and their culture a no-rules zone.

Yeah, come to think of it. They were a lot like too many are now. The only way anarchists ever get their way is when good, solid, caring people let them.

That’s what happened in the world, back when the Israelites said they’d had enough of those Ten Commandment types always ruining the party by mentioning God and his outdated ‘rules’. They began putting hits on His prophets and trying to ruin the rep of any preachers daring to tell God’s side. And it worked for awhile.

“NO GOD! NO DECENCY! NO TELLING US WHAT WE CAN AND CAN’T DO! ZERO RULES!”

And God said, “All right.” For 400 years they got their way. The Israelites were supposed to show the rest of the world what a nation and people committed to God could be and do. When they balked and sneered at God and His trying to work through them, that example was erased.

The Israelites said, “We can run our own affairs. We don’t need no stinkin’ God tellin’ us what we should and shouldn’t do, because others are watching us and our ‘witness‘ . . . ” What business is it of theirs what we do? It’s not bothering anyone else, and we’re getting along just fine!”

And the entire world found itself morally, socially, intellectually adrift. That’s what happens when God’s people decide to become more like everyone around them instead of keeping their eyes on him through His Word’s guidance. They begin a slow drift that’s always farther away . . .

It wasn’t a good time in Earth history. For longer than the United States has existed, there was no mention of God or of His revealed plan for the world and people He created.

And it showed. Antifa hoodlums trying to disrupt? ISIS plants killing and destroying? Amoral career politicians with soulless eyes and auctioned souls openly defying those they supposedly ‘serve’? Gangs operating freely in the nation’s largest cities, killing any or all for any imagined offense?

They’ve nothing on what Israel looked, sounded, and smelled like during those 400-some years God let the fools be in charge.

And then? “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” Romans 5:6, NLT.

Fast-forward to now. “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been too weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway . . . But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” Romans 5:6-8, The Message

You know by now I always try to tie my heading into these posts. Nobody knew for sure what to expect at the first Advent. Everyone from high priest and sociopolitical leaders on down had spent so much time bloviating about what THEY thought no one was listening to anyone else. So when Jesus came the first time, it was enough to stun everyone.

Something tells me this second Advent – whenever it occurs – will happen the same way. That ‘something’ is the Bible.

Yep. “That again.”

Adventage Jesus.

© D. Dean Boone, December 2019

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QTM for 11/29/19: YES, YOU DO

“Hey, you know that song?”

“Hmmph?”

“Sorry. That one, ah, Christmas song that says ‘I have no gift to bring’? That one?”

“Sure. What about it?”

“Well, I don’t.”

My permanent sense of humor almost bit, but I heard no lightness or neutrality in his tone. It wasn’t a lure. He wasn’t being dark, not exactly, but bleak, accompanied by knitted eyebrows and slight grimness. I probed.

“Kidding, right?” I’d slanted my eyes sideways to sneak a glance at him. He wasn’t looking at me, but staring off into Someplace In A Galaxy Far, Far Away, a serious mien shadowing his face like happens when the sun is obscured by a cloud. Alrighty then. That’s a nope.

I work to keep learning. One way is to stop saying and/or writing, “I have learned”, because the period after ‘learned’ hints that I think I’ve nothing more to add to what I already know about whatever it is. Back when, I encountered a professor or two who exhibited that kind of arrogance. I didn’t like it then, and sure never want it interfering with my ongoing quest to know and grow more.

One of the things I keep learning is to better ‘get’ my friends. This one was seriously bugged about something. I wanted to know what it was. Therefore, I queried and listened.

“Talking about The Little Drummer Boy, correct?”

“Yeah. That’s the one.”

“And you’re telling me you have nothing to offer King Jesus.”

“Exactly. I got nothin’. Man, I look at all of you ( left arm in a wide, sweeping gesture ) and wish I had just a little of all the talent and ability I see in all of you when you’re worshiping. It’s like you don’t even have to try because it just flows . . .” Here his voice broke and I noticed he seemed to have something in his eye. Both of them.

I mulled, then I thunk a think. While doing that, I team-thought with the Holy Spirit. James says if we’re a bit skosh on wisdom, to ask for more. I did, and God spoke back.

Exodus 4:2.Nice. A little help, here? Exod— OH! I turned to my friend.

“What DO you got?” He looked at me like I’d just sprouted a Klingon ridge on my forehead. “What?

“Do you remember when Moses was doing his best to whine his way out of being the Israelites’ head honcho, and God asked him, “What’s that in your hand? The lesson was, ‘This isn’t about you, Moses. I can work with, in, and through anything and anybody if they’ll let me—‘ His eyes switched from Dull to Interested and he nodded. “Yeah, I remember that.”

“Awright. You have something to give, too. What’s that in your hand?” He glanced down at the booklet he’d been holding in his left hand.

“Oh, it’s a training manual update I brought home to read over the weekend.”

Me: “Training for what?” (His response: “Safety. Security. You know, the usual stuff. There’s always a new wrinkle, because some jackwagon out there comes up with more creative ways to do bad things.”)

Me again: “And why is it in your left hand?” (“Because I’m right-handed and—-” Like a Great Plains wind gust pounding open a door, the light and sharpness popped back into his gaze.

“The little boy brought what he had and freely offered his best to Jesus, without staring at everyone else’s gifts, comparing their really great clothing to his own, and like that.”

“Nailed it. Just goes to show ya, guys like you really can string coherent thoughts together without tripping over them.”

“You wanna wear that piano?”

I grinned as I backed away. That was more like it. As we get up from our Thanksgiving tables and begin the jostling, breathless jog toward Christmas and 2020, remember to extend your gratefulness to include what God’s placed in your hand.

He may never need to ask you to pick up a snake by its tail to impress you about His ability to use anything or anyone. Hopefully, you’ll appreciate in new ways the unique manner in which God pours His grace and ability through your hands. Then, too, it’s really not good for your health record to pick up snakes by their tails.

So, what will you bring King Jesus this Christmas?

Your best. It will be enough.

He’ll see to it.

© D. Dean Boone, November 2019

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A Thanksgiving 2nd Cup: SIGNS YOU OVERDID IT THIS THANKSGIVING

~ Paramedics need the Jaws of Life to extract you from the recliner.

~ You find grass stains on your butt after taking a walk, but you never sat down.

~ On your jog Friday morning, you set off three seismographs.

~ Giving end-of-year blood tests yields only turkey gravy.

~ You have 5 flat screens side-by-side to catch all the football games.

~ Representatives from Butterball Hall of Fame have called twice wanting an interview.

~ Your arms are suddenly too short to delete this list.

Compiled

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2nd Cup of Coffee for 11/23/19: BAFFLED BY GRACE

The older man sat at a table by himself, two fingers of his right hand casually hooked through the handle of a cup of steaming coffee, and he was thoughtfully looking off into somewhere.

His demeanor caught my attention as I laid my stuff down on the table I chose. I’ve been around enough maudlin, lonely, souring old people to know them and promptly back away, but this guy seemed at a glance to be just the opposite. He looked, I don’t know, comfortable in solitude. Maybe even at peace.

I admit I was irritated at myself for letting him or anything else hijack my attention. After all, I’d dropped by Howya Bean to work. To write. Change of scenery, different location, like that. To be alone, unbothered.

To say my mind was occupied is like saying a ravening Kodiak just out of hibernation only wants a snack. I mean, hey all, see this open laptop? See my pen and notepad? Smartphone? These are known as ca-LOOZ which signal Leave Me Alone. Just keep the java coming, and boogie on. Yeah, I know some of you just added, “—Reggae Woman”. I agree that track was catchy. But, see, remembering those lyrics—let’s just stipulate we’re not going there. I digress.

Showing supreme self-mastery, I chastised my errant attention, chased it back into its own yard, and closed the gate. Blogs don’t write themselves, y’know. Where was I . . . ?

Be interesting to know what he was thinking about, though. He’s not scruffy-looking. Doesn’t have that, that aura of “I’m old, cranky, opinionated, have zero patience with anybody, I couldn’t care less what you think of my clothes, and I need to go pee” that seems to be standard equipment with so many old people. He’s . . . He’s cool. Yeah. Collected. Almost as if Central Casting got a call for The Antithesis of Most Whitehairs and sent him.

D’oh! I can’t—-what’s the deal? I’m trying to get something done here, and this guy keeps glomming onto my attention! And the more I try to ignore him like I’m doing fine ignoring everybody else, the more he intrudes! What is WITH that? I’m a blogger, trying to get one posted and published—-what? Oh, great. I must’ve been staring again, and he’s noticed it. Super!

I half-smiled, gave him a miniscule nod, and dropped my eyes back to my own business.

“What are you working on?”

Wait. What? He initiated a conversation. A response is customary. Show some class, ay, as if you’re not self-conscious at being caught. At least I didn’t try a faked shock. I figured someone as put together as this guy had been paying attention to my nosyness.

“Well, I’m supposed to be working on a blog, but I can’t seem to keep my ideas flying in the same formation.” I closed my laptop, sat back, and gave him my full attention.

“Does writing fill a place inside you nothing else does?”

I had to think about that. Of course, the instant answer was yes; but the way he formed his question made me feel I ought to more carefully craft my response.

“I appreciate how you asked that. And, yes, it does.”

He smiled. “Then what you need to write today will be there when you’re ready again. Since I seem to have disrupted your concentration, would you care to join me?” I almost begged off, yet had the sense I needed this break. Loading everything into my seen-better-days blue and faded backpack, I got up, slid my chair in, and moved over to his table.

Extending my hand, I introduced myself. He grasped my hand with the velvet-steel closure of what was once a formidable grip, if the present one was any indicator. “Glad to meet you. I’m Granger.”

As I sat down across from him, I said, “First or last?” He faintly smiled and said, “Yes.” Then, as if he’d come prepared for just an encounter as this one, he cocked his head slightly to starboard and said, “During this holiday season, I’m more keenly aware than ever of how blessed a man I am.”

I’ve always had good luck using my ears. I saw doing so now a definite plus. He continued.

“Just this morning I was impressed by how God has lavished grace on me, and keeps doing it. I’m grateful; but it still baffles me.

I’ve learned a thing or two. “Can you help me understand when you say you’re baffled?”

“I’m not the finest, brightest, or best. Yet I’ve felt God’s hand on my life in ways I’d never have anticipated – and in some cases can’t begin to explain. So I have to ask myself why He’d show a regular, normal guy like me the kind of grace and blessing I’ve known throughout my life thus far.”

I didn’t answer because for a few seconds I couldn’t. What he said struck like an uppercut to my spirit. I knew I hadn’t shown a grateful attitude much of late for what God had been doing in my life. And I knew I should have, for God had been very, very good to me and mine.

I was startled, for he’d been speaking. “I’m sorry, Granger. You were saying?”

“I notice your cup’s empty. It would please me to buy you another coffee.”

His syntax, the measured way he spoke, caused me once again to take a split-second to think through my response.

“I appreciate your asking, but I think the subject of this week’s blog just made itself apparent. If you come here again, perhaps I’ll see you, for I’m here a lot. It would please me to take a raincheck.”

Granger gently smiled, dipping his head in silent eloquence. On the way home, I was pondering this divine appointment, thinking As I get up in years, that’s how I want to be. Suddenly, aging looks more like a privilege than something I’ve always loathed. Huh.

As my not so gently aged Honda SUV nosed into the driveway, I was rethinking Granger’s phrase: “Baffled by Grace” . . .

And you know what? Me, too.

Me, too.

© Copyright D. Dean Boone, November 2019

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2nd Cup of Coffee, 11/18/19: GOD’S RABBIT

When the journey has made you weary and you can’t see the way home, it’s comfort to the soul to encounter someone who does.

Captain Golden and I had spent hours in the frigid air aloft over northeastern Montana, doing our best in a trusty little T-33 to dodge and frustrate the efforts of two sleek, beautifully-deadly F-106 interceptors trying to flame us.

As pilot, the captain’s job was to make that little bird juke and dance all over the sky to break those interceptor radar locks before they could get clean missile shots at us. Since his seat back was too high for him to see behind him, he needed a spotter who could. As spotter, it was my job to tell him when to start that altitude- and course-evasive madness.

All of us, target crew, interceptor pilots, and ground control teams knew some things.

We knew we were safely being tracked and controlled by ground radar specialists and that our intercepts and weapons were all computer-generated. We knew it was beautiful flying weather that day at 14,000 feet, with almost unlimited visibility. We knew this was no game: we were practicing the deadliest dance in the air – the interception and possible destruction of an enemy target aircraft.

Those parachutes and helmets weren’t just for show. By the time we all were low on fuel and each returning to our bases, our flight suits were sweaty and our hair matted. We messed up some of their intercepts, and they splashed us a lot. We’d all just been perfecting our lethal profession, identifying possible threats and, when necessary, airborne death.

Captain Golden and I relaxed on the way back to Great Falls, Montana and Malmstrom AFB. We critiqued our evasive strategies, identified an idea or two that might be worth mentioning during mission debrief, and joked about this or that. Though I kept my feet off the rudder pedals, I flew the jet part of the way home.

Visibility being wonderful, we were both drinking in the absolute beauty of flying in those conditions. It was edging toward dusk as we neared our approach fix, and there was one more thing that, for me, made the experience as perfect as anything on Earth can be.

Somebody had turned the rabbit on. The rabbit is a series of sequenced bright strobes situated on gradually-higher platforms, spaced enough apart and somewhat aligned with the glide slope to as to beckon the incoming aircraft from final approach fix to landing. Even in good weather, there’s nothing more satisfying and relieving as seeing those strobes flashing out through the night, saying, “Welcome home, traveler. Come on in.”

God’s rabbit, His Spirit, has never failed to offer that same comfort and guidance to the human spirit. Every time I’ve found myself worn in body, mind, or spirit – or all three – the Holy Spirit always turns on God’s rabbit.

It can be a Bible verse or passage. It’s often a song, or some prose from another believer. In some cases, it’s been the timely visit and encouragement of a Christian brother or sister. Whatever the case, God’s rabbit does the same thing as those sequential strobes do at each end of almost every runway.

They reassure you somebody’s been watching, has turned on the lights for you, and are waiting to welcome you home.

© Copyright D. Dean Boone, November 2019

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Saturday 2nd Cup for 10/5/19: BETTER? NOT.

He awakened to the familiar discadent drum section warmup. A Fall overnight thunderstorm was his alarm, and he laid there for a few extra moments, listening, sensing, absorbing.

The knowing is optional; the coffee essential.

The Columbian Supremo he’d prepared the night before was ready. So was he.

As he poured the fresh, steaming java into his big white Perkatory mug, he glanced around his basement family room. The fireplace drew immediate attention, for he’d fixed a small fire, and had a log burning there, it’s pleasant light making soft shadows weave into their happy dance of morning welcome.

This morning, he’d chosen some light classical music softly playing in the background. Telemann. Verdi. His eyes retreated into middle distance as he grinned at some friends who’d frown at it.

“I thought you liked smooth, soft jazz. You’re forever writing about it, and whenever I come over, that’s usually what you have playing in here.”

There were a few other close friends who understood his eclectic musical tastes . . .

He then sat, embracing the pleasant solitude, sipping coffee with each thought, occasionally jotting notes to himself.

He was dressed in what he jokingly called ‘lounge lizards’ – actually Adidas activewear. Comfort being his object, he had begun his day as was his habit. Slanting his eyes over at the Bibles on the loveseat, he wryly grinned at the three separate translations laying there, two of them open.

Granger often lost himself in his reading.

Finished with that morning’s bit of social media encouragement to someone, maybe several someones, whom he may never know, he refilled his mug. He scanned the morning’s inbox for anything perhaps requiring his attention.

1813 -Battle of Thames in Canada; Americans defeat British . . .

1978 – Over 30 nations ratify the Environmental Modification Convention which prohibits weather warfare that has— (Great, more of that drek…)

Townhall Daily – “Biden makes one thing clear—” (That’ll be the day…)

Granger quickly shuffled all surrounding him into some semblance of disorderly order. He’d foregone the normal first-thing shower, and it was time. By the time he dressed and was presentable for the normal Saturday morning breakfast at Jimmie’s Diner, he knew there’d be plenty of Facebook chat, some of which would require some thoughtful response.

And respond he would.

He knew such literary activity was part of why God had restored him to life. He knew he’d always generate deep satisfaction from such online interaction. He knew his coffee had become tepidly undrinkable.

Shower. Fresh refill. Jimmie’s. Nope; Better? Not.

© Copyright D. Dean Boone, October 2019

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2nd Cup of Coffee for 8/30/19: “COULD YA MAKE ‘EM WITH LARGER HANDLES?” Or “FUN WITH THE BATHWATER OF THE NOBLE BEAN.”

G’mornin’. Writers can and often do find inspiration in just about any setting. You may or may not ever again see your morning coffee in quite the same way; yet I hope this little bit of fun involving java will help make your Friday a little easier to take. Enjoy.

“I was on my third cup of joe. It needed something, so I dumped sugar, cream, and a little caramel in it. It was better.”

OR

“The coffee was good and I knew it could only get better. It already had a mysterious dark side the first cup barely revealed, so I poured another, listening, sensing the eager liquid flow into my almost empty mug.

“Sipping now where before I’d intemperately quaffed, I allowed its spicy richness to linger as it hesitated over seeking taste buds. Nutty? Fruity? Exotic? The intense smoky brew was all that and more. Soon my mug was again empty. I knew I must have more. I knew another cup with what I would add was pushing it. I knew my finger was stuck in that stupid little handle.

“Gently extracting my finger, I began yet again to pour out that dark, warm elixir of life. Ah, but I stopped before the faithful mug was full. This time I introduced a spoonful of sweet sugary granules, each briefly sparkling as they dove into the heated depths of the waiting coffee. Did I say one? No, one would not be enough. Another sweet spoonful disappeared into the swirling, heady mix.

“Cool, thick, steadying cream was next. Enough? NO. More. As each wonderful ingredient was added, the level of coffee in the mug rose slightly, it’s now-fawnlike shades roiling, luxuriating like a stretching, yawning lioness as the sweetness and lightness gently eased through the entire cup.

“Last came smooth, comfortable, sleek caramel. Where the cream had quickly lightened the shades of my waiting cup, the easy-squeezy of caramel reversed the trend, tanning, then umbering the mug full of sweet, heavy java.

“Lifting the brim-full mug of caffeinated bliss, I first tested the temperature of heat rising from the heady mix on my lips. Hot, yet not too hot. It was time to taste that third cup for which I’d waited . . .

. . . . . .

“There were no adequate words. My tongue bounced and laughed as the first sip of coffeaque spread liquidly smooth toward waiting tastebuds. My tonsils, now a cranky 66, even gave grudging assent, although warning the creamy, smooth java to stay off their lawn.

Everything breaks but the HANDLE?

“I knew nothing would ever replace each morning’s first couple of cups of rich, black, piping hot coffee. I knew nothing would ever keep me from the heady joy of sugared, creamy, caramelized amazingness that would surely follow. A-a-and I knew my right forefinger was again stuck in that cute, metrodiner mug handle.”

© Copyright D. Dean Boone, August 2019

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Saturday 2nd Cup, 8/24/19: HEY, DIDN’T WE JUST PASS THAT?

Before the truth sets you free it tends to make you miserable. ~ (Richard Rohr)

It’s that unpleasant truth about the truth that makes us prefer almost anything else, even if it’s only a repeat of something familiar we’ve gone back to we know still won’t work, and for that reason is not our friend.

You’ve watched domestic rodents exercising on a wire wheel. Plenty of feverish activity, little legs pumping, breathing hard – and getting nowhere. You’ve likely made the appropriate observation: That’s nuts. I mean, the hamster doesn’t know it doesn’t count. But I know it’s an endless loop, an activity that does nothing but wear the runner out.

So you walk away, and find yourself within a few minutes climbing into your own wire wheel. It’s as if you never saw the hamster, never made the connection.

“What are you doin’? What is that mess?”

“Hmph? Oh, this. Well… And here you duck your head and hunch your shoulders a little … “Those are, ah, the ruins of the old strongholds that once were my prison. They’re, they’re no big deal anymore. I just, I dunno, come back and check ’em out every so often–y’know, just to remind me of where I used to be. Yeah.”

With respect, it sounds like your Legos have gotten pulled apart and you’re fixin’ to step on one.

Seriously? You’re sitting here, right in the middle of a smelly, oily, old, fragmented mess – the remains of everything from which God’s set you free – fingering the shards and broken pieces as if wondering if you could somehow rebuild those walls once holding you hostage?

Instead of realizing the numbing, spirit-deadening effects of your occasionally going back to visit your “exercise wheel”, you’d rather climb into it now and then? Have a little fling with where you once were? A quick chomp on those old lures that never did anything but hurt you?

Really? Why?

It may hurt. Deaden. Numb. It may temporarily bring what you’ve convinced yourself is happiness. Anything but facing up to the truth that really does offer freedom and new growth.

Suggestion: stop reaching back for synthetic happiness, and begin reaching outward and upward for the real joy that derives from moving on, taking new forward steps toward where you want to be – and where God’s leading you.

Psalm 16:11 says it: “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy.” And there it is. The truth that’ll set you free.

Keep going back to what’s familiar from your old ways, and God won’t be there with you. Being the always “I AM”, He’s forever in the today, right here, right now. So if you want to trade that old, very temporary, less and less fulfilling sorta happiness for God’s present, lasting joy, you need to stay right here in the present moment with Him.

Oh, and there’s one more thing in that verse. See “fullness”? Ask yourself what that might mean. God doesn’t do things halfway.

So. If you catch yourself scrunching up your brow, thinking, ” ‘Ay! Haven’t I already passed that a time or two?”, you’re on the bypass.

It’s time to take the next exit. It’s time to get free of that old exercise wheel, and stop going back to that old place, no matter how ‘safe’ and familiar it seems. It’s not what it was.

Neither are you.

Trade the ‘happy’ for some joy. I think you’ll like the returns.

© Copyright D. Dean Boone, August 2019

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2nd Cup of Coffee, 8/23/19: WHAT DOES ‘HOME’ MEAN TO YOU?

Whatever picture just flashed in your conscious mind, there are people somewhere close by who don’t have that.

My mission this morning is to help change that reality for a few families. Every quarter, our local church joins many others in the greater Wichita, Kansas area in being a week-long Family Promise host.

I haven’t time to tell you what that involves, for I must leave shortly to drive a van from our local church in Derby, KS to the area day house in Wichita. I’m including a link to our local Family Promise website to help fill in that knowledge gap.

Why? Because I’m fed up with bigmouthed politicians trying to out-bellow and overtalk one another in decrying America’s homeless problem. Mind you, they’re actually doing little beyond photo shoots. But they’re sure to blame each other for the issue, wringing hands and making excuses for the filth and squalor on virtually every street in the nation’s cities.

Family Promise, in league with America’s local churches, is quietly stepping up to make a lasting difference while squabbling political types make excuses. The following link points up Wichita’s Family Promise efforts of love. If your city doesn’t have one or you’ve never heard of it, it’s time you did.

There are men, women, and youngsters being helped to step up and out of their homeless situation. Politics is not now, nor has it ever been the answer. Your local churches, working with Family Promise.org, can be. All it takes is your willingness to volunteer and get involved. America’s churches are making the difference in providing an answer to homeless persons wanting to get out and once again know what ‘home’ means.

Check it out. Gotta run, friends. I’ve a van full of really great people waiting on me.

Loving you,

Dan

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