Coffee May be Brewed To Suit Our Individual Tastes. The Truths Of The Bible Cannot.

I am not a major coffee drinker.

Yes, I drink a cup or two in the mornings while I sit with the other old men at the local country store.  And I will occasionally drink a cup at night if my wife makes a desert for supper. But I have never developed an intense craving for the drink, or an addiction to the caffeine.

Since I do not crave either the taste or the “kick”, I like my coffee weak.  Most restaurant blends are far too strong for me.  When making a pot at home, I will generally put 2 ½ tablespoons of mid-roast grains in the filter for a 10-cup carafe. I like to see the bottom of my cup through the amber liquid. For most people, this doesn’t make sense.  And for true coffee drinkers, this is crazy.  In their minds, I would be just as well-off drinking plain hot water.

And I suppose they are correct.  But I like what I like.  I have tried to develop a taste for a stronger blend and steeping, but the enjoyment is just not there.

Spiritually, we often approach the truth of the Word with the same attitude as we use in brewing our coffee.  Some like a strong, straightforward, dark truth.  The kind that says everything in their lives is wrong, unless the Bible specifically says it is right.  They like to hear a version of the truth that challenges them to change and adapt every part of their lives to fit the teachings. Others like a weak, vague, light truth.  The kind that says everything is in their lives is right unless the Bible specifically says it is wrong.  They like a truth that invites, “Come as you are, and stay as you are. No change is needed.”

But God did not design the truths of the Bible so that we can adapt them to our individual tastes. God does not desire that we apply his teachings more strongly than he intended, but neither does he desire that we water down his teachings.  God does not want us to pessimistically view everything in life as being wrong, where every minute of every day must be seen as a struggle to change the entire world; but neither does he want us to view everything as being right, where anything that pleases us, pleases him.

God did not design the truths of the Bible so that we can adapt them to our individual tastes. Rather he expects us to adapt our individual tastes to his truths.

That’s called faith.  That’s called repentance. That’s called conversion.

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19) ESV

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing – as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.” (Colossians 1:3-6) ESV

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I Have Never Needed Insect Repellent Before. Why Should i Need It Now?

“Bring insect repellent.”

This exhortation has been included on every tour description we have taken over the past 7 years in Peru.  But I have never experienced the need for the repellent. Apparently, mosquitoes can’t live in the higher altitudes.

This year’s tour description was no exception to the rule. But I failed to pack the repellent. I brushed off the oversight, reasoning that I wouldn’t need it anyway since I had never used it before.

At the prep rally, two days before the tour, the tour guide warned us that one of the stops where we would be getting out of the van was at a lower altitude. He stressed that there would be mosquitoes.  He stressed that we needed insect repellent. Once again, I brushed off the warning.

When we arrived at the touring site, there were some “gnats” flying around, but I didn’t see any mosquitoes, so I thought I was safe.

Later, when we stopped for lunch, these same “gnats” hovered around us.  I swatted one on my arm.  It was filled with blood.  These were the mosquitoes we had been warned about.  I checked my arms and they were covered with bites. The bites did not hurt when the gnats had made them, nor did they ever itch or hurt.  But I had definitely been attacked by blood suckers.

Spiritually, God warns us about the presence, prevalence, and dangers of sin.  He tells us that sin will be around us wherever we go.  He exhorts us to resist sin by drawing near him. He warns us that if we do not draw near him, sin will infest our lives.

We look around us and think that we really don’t need God’s help; that we have made it through life pretty good on our own, and we really haven’t encountered any “sin”.  We see actions occurring all around us which appear to be nuisances and aggravations, but not harmful sin.  These actions don’t look like our concept of sin. So, we put up with them, thinking the whole time that we are not being affected.

Then one day, after it is too late, we realize that these nuisances are filled with blood; our blood. We realize that these are the sins God warned us about. And, they have silently and stealthily been attacking us, biting us, affecting us, until we find ourselves “eat up” with the sin.

May we always listen to God’s exhortations, striving to use his power to resist the sin of this world, so as not to become secretly and silently infected by it.

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:12-13) ESV


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Sweetness Can Be Enhanced By Sweetness

It was a plain bar of milk chocolate, but it may have been the “sweetest” candy I have tasted.

No, it didn’t physically taste any different than any of the chocolate we can buy here in the States.  The “sweetness” came in the process through which I had come into possession of the chocolate bar.

“I just wanted to say, ‘Thank you!’ for coming down to help us and for all the work you have done.  I hope you enjoy it.”

A Peruvian young lady of about 20 years old chose these English words to explain the reason behind the gift. She worked as hard as any of us in the optical department of our medical campaign.  She sat for hours each day, translating the patients’ questions from Spanish to English, and then our responses from English to Spanish. Yet she did not want credit for the work she had done. She just wanted to say, “Thank you!”

Each of us received this same type of gift expressed in different ways.  The spontaneous, fervent hug a physical therapist received from the mother of a small child who is confined to a wheel chair, after the therapist had shown the mother therapeutic exercises which will help the child develop.  The bright smile those in the “lentes” (lenses) department witnessed when a patient received a pair of glasses which corrected his extremely poor eyesight. The voluntarily offered hand of a child who felt safe and loved in the presence of strangers who had invaded his neighborhood.

This morning, I thought long and hard about the chocolate bar.

I sat in a plane seat clutching a small bag of pretzels, waiting for the stewardess to pour me a cup of soft drink.  I expected this refreshment.  It was a part of my airfare. I had paid for it. I would have been disappointed had I not gotten it. Those pretzels and that cup of liquid were a symbol of the commercialized, materialistic world we live in; a world where almost everything is for sale, and very few things come without a price.

At that moment, I once again looked into the eyes of an energetic, smiling young lady as she sweetly explained, “I just wanted to say, ‘Thank you!’ for coming down to help us and for all the work you have done.  I hope you enjoy it.”

That was the one of the “sweetest” chocolate bars I have ever tasted.

“Give, and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38) ESV


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Wisdom Often Determines The Rightfulness Or Sinfulness Of A Practice.

Suppose there is a drug which legally can be purchased and consumed by almost anyone. Consuming the substance is not necessary to sustaining life, but simply a choice. Suppose at least one member in almost every family in the world has chosen to consume the drug, and through its consumption has developed a life-threatening disease. In fact, many families have had multiple members to prematurely die because they chose to consume the chemical compound. There is no doubt that the consumption of the drug is the sole cause of the disease within these loved ones. No drug, no disease.

What would be a wise public response to such a drug? What choice should a person make concerning his own consumption of the substance? What would a responsible parent teach his children about that drug?  What should Christians teach their fellow man about consuming the potential life-altering, life-threatening drug?

Knowledge is accumulating and storing facts in our minds.  Wisdom is the ability to use the accumulated knowledge to its best potential.

Wisdom visualizes the potential power of the accumulated knowledge. It evaluates the hidden good or evil within the information. Worldly wisdom seeks to use its knowledge for its own pleasure. Godly wisdom chooses to utilize its knowledge with the intent of benefitting everyone concerned. (James 4:13-18)

Mankind’s ability to accumulate knowledge has led to the discovery and development of many kinds of chemical compounds, and mechanical tools.  Almost all these discoveries and developments have had potential to benefit mankind.  However, mankind’s inability to control himself when it comes to using these discoveries has often led to abuse, self-destruction, dependency, and atrocities.

Christians regularly find themselves debating the rightfulness or the sinfulness of employing certain discoveries. The use of these chemical compounds or mechanical tools is not specifically condoned or condemned within the scriptures.  Within the debate, knowledge freely flows forth. Many factual details are brought to light. Yet very little progress is made toward arriving at a conclusion because the participants have forgotten that the rightfulness or sinfulness of the practice may not lie in the substance itself, but in the wisdom of those who choose to use it.

An illustration of such debates can be found concerning the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages (reread the beginning illustration), the legalization of marijuana and other drugs, the ongoing gun-control debate, etc.  In each of these discussions, the point that is continuously brought to the forefront is: “The Bible doesn’t specifically and emphatically state, ‘Thou shalt not.’ Therefore, I have a right to participate in this practice. And since I can do so in all good conscience, I am going to engage in the practice, regardless of the consequences, and regardless of how it affects others.”

When we approach debatable practices with this attitude, we are demonstrating that we are not addressing them with Godly wisdom, but worldly wisdom; that which is earthly, selfish, and unspiritual.

May we always strive to continually attain and accumulate knowledge, but may we also continually seek to apply that knowledge with Godly wisdom.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” (James 4:13) ESV

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!” (Psalm 111:10) ESV

“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.” (Proverbs 8:12) ESV

The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.” (Proverbs 14:8) ESV


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