Coffee with Jesus – insightful, funny and oft satirically prophetic!

Coffee with Jesus-1I was getting tired of reading the newspaper comic strips because nothing seemed fresh OR funny!  In fact, I was only looking at the classics for quite sometime anyway (e.g. Peanuts, Doonesbury, etc.).  And then there are those “lame” religious cartoons.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  They are the cartoons that usually are posted in religious magazines that feature some biblical character supposedly saying something witty.  Usually, at least in my book, they are fillers of white space because they are neither funny nor insightful.  It wasn’t until I met a guy who is now one of my good friends…Chris Yambar restored my hope that somebody would be out there soon with something to say in cartoon artistry.  Little did I know or even expect that a casual look at my Facebook page or a "soon to be" phone conversation with a friend at IVP (Intervarsity Press) would lead me to a new “hero” in the cartoon world. 

After a quick conversation with IVP, I jumped at the opportunity to get a copy of Coffee with Jesus.  I had run into Radio Free Babylon’s work by accident one day while wasting time in my office.  I soon became a regular on their page “liking” or sharing as many cartoons that struck my fancy.  I always tried to keep my comments short as to not draw attention away from the cartoon panel.  Usually my comments ranged from “I wish I had said that” to “great” to “give this some thought.”  I have never been disappointed.  David Wilkie, the author and artist behind Coffee with Jesus, engages in coffee talk with characters drawn out of our common experience in churchworld and Christian subculture.  Jesus, who always ends the conversational panel, is without a doubt insightful, witty, satirical and direct.  The characters comments and questions must have been reaped from a history of the author’s exposure to the same world I’ve been involved with as a professional for over 30 years.  I’ve seen these “people” in the churches I’ve attended…I’ve had some of these conversations…unfortunately for me, I didn’t have the guts to say what Jesus oft remarks.  I like David’s Jesus.  I like the way he dresses, how respectful he is as well as the fearsomeness of his quips and rebuffs.  Even the old wily devil shows up occasionally for some verbal sparing with the King of Kings.  And the pastor who shares some coffee time…don't get me started.  Young, ambitious, and "looking to be the next megachurch pastor" is a good sum of the type of leaders I run into all the time. This is a book for people who want to read something fresh.  It is for those who are tired of reading books that are published only because the author has been a best seller in the past OR because it is the latest “how to” book that addresses the crisis de jour.  David and IVP have drawn us out of our comfort zone in only the way art and cartooning can.  What looks innocent carries a big stick because Coffee with Jesus is fearful of no one or no subject matter.  Christian subculture needs to be exposed for what it is especially at its worst.  I commend David, RFB and IVP for doing us all a favor and publishing something that is fun and funny while being forthright in its subtle challenges and sarcasm.  Bravo to Coffee with Jesus!  By the way,  I would love hanging out with that Jesus anytime!  Pour me a cup!

By the way, here are a couple of samplers.  Call them, a "taste test" if you will:

Coffeewithjesus299

Coffeewithjesus180

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Being a Christmas “Kingdom Person”

Cropped-cropped-Red-RTA-LOGO-450I ran across this blog post this morning and felt it was SO good that I had to pass it on. IF you don't know anything about "Release the Ape", check it out now!  It is a ministry that is enabling apostolic missionaries in our culture.  And NO BETTER TIME than Christmas time.  I think I've had at least two dozen spontaneous conversations about Christmas and the culture of late.  Every one of them are opportunities to be light and salt in relationships.  Anyway, for your Christmas season encouragement, check this out!  And Merry Christmas to you!  

What is a Kingdom Person?  By Laura Hairston

My family and I live in a north suburb of Dallas, Texas – Frisco. A 2007 Forbes study named Frisco as the seventh-fastest growing suburb in the United States. In 2011, CNN listed Frisco as one of the “Best Places to Live” in the nation, and Forbes ranked it 7th in its list of “America’s 25 Best Places To Move”. Seems like a dream, huh?

As much as I love living in Frisco, there is an unpublished reality.  Everything is not a proverbial bed of roses; in the past two weeks, I have heard of two families splitting up because of affairs, a teenage boy from a local high school dying from drug overdose, a teacher having an inappropriate relationship with a student, a family needing resources to help provide Christmas for their children this year, and the need for a teen homeless shelter in our community.

Why mention these things? Because even in the midst of a seemingly perfect community, many people feel alone, are struggling to “keep up with the Jones”, and are afraid of breaking free of the façade of what they feel is expected of them.  What appears perfect on the surface is actually quite messy.

Our role as missionaries is to listen to our neighborhoods and cities, moving past the roses and embrace the thorns, to create a safe place to wrestle with the hard questions like “why?” and “now what?” and to truly embed ourselves in the places God has sent us. And, yes, it requires us to get outside of the comfort of our homes and churches.

I love the Christmas story because it provides us an amazing example of this very thing. Jesus left the comfort of heaven to come to a dirty stable as a baby, humble, vulnerable, needy and to grow up in a place like Nazareth. Remember in John 1 Nathanael asks, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Seems an unlikely hometown for an unlikely Savior, don’t you think?  Everything Jesus is and does is unexpected; he is humble, a friend of sinners, a suffering servant and he came to bring good news to the poor, proclaim freedom to the captives, give sight to the blind, and to set free those who have been oppressed (Luke 4:18).

He said to his followers, “as the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” (John 20:21) God did not send us to judge, but to demonstrate an unexpected way, a better way, just as Jesus did; to be those raising the priorities of the kingdom above wealth, status, and fame. We are to help bring good news to those who are hopeless, freedom to those trapped in bondage, and to help open their eyes to the wonder of Jesus’ love and grace.

A Kingdom Person

Recently I read Richard Rohr’s daily mediations adapted from Jesus’ Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount and he says this:

I hope you’ve met at least one “Kingdom person” in your life. They are surrendered and trustful people. You sense that their life is okay at the core. Theyhave given control to Another and are at peace, which paradoxically allows them to calmly be in control. A Kingdom person lives for what matters, for life in its deepest and lasting sense. There’s a kind of gentle absolutism about their lifestyle, an inner freedom to do what they have to do—joyfully. Kingdom people feel like grounded yet spacious people at the same time, the best of the conservative and the best of the progressive types in the same body.

Kingdom people are anchored by their awareness of God’s love deep within them and deep within everyone else, too. They happily live on a level playing field, where God has come to “pitch his tent” (the literal translation of John 1:14) among all of us. All games of classism, sexism, racism, and nationalism are henceforth seen to be a waste of valuable time and energy that could be used for positive good.

What a great concept – a ‘kingdom person’. Are we, as Christ followers, living for what matters? Are we diving deep into relationships with our neighbors, co-workers, gym buddies, etc. and being a living example of Jesus, even though it may get messy?

Our family knows it will get messy as we help those families struggling to re-piece their marriage back together, give our time and money to help those who will not have Christmas this year, or simply strive to be humble enough to know we are not above anyone and admit we are needy people too. But, that is precisely what God sent us to do. Let’s all pray God opens our eyes to these truths and gives us the courage to “be” in the fullest sense. Be vulnerable. Be generous. Be real. Be Jesus. Be kingdom people.

How does the concept of a Kingdom Person strike you?

Merry Christmas to You! Some suggestions on how to experience a Sacred and Simple Christmas!

 

It was earlier this month and one of my favorite "email" encouragers sent me the following encouragement.  I made some specific alterations to make it easier for you to use in your life this year.  Join me this Christmas in a Simple and Sane and sacred Christmas!  Here are some suggestions:

 Remember, because simplicity is not a matter of circumstances, it is a matter of focus.  Simplify Christmas? HOW?  Celebrate CHRIST.

Serve

  • Serve your family
  • Serve someone in need
  • Serve people with a smile and joy
  • Serve someone at your table

Still Life

  • Make time for some quiet and read the Christmas story from the bible
  • Make sure you have a lot of "white" space on your calendar during Christmastime
  • Make a small candle arrangement and pray that the Light of the world would enlighten your heart
  • Make time to listen to some of your favorite Christmas music

Stay in Story

Another GREAT resources is the website, Follow The Star!  Daily you can read a small bible text and prayer that will bless you in your daily Christmas worship life. 
 
And now one of my favorite Christmas Videos of ALL time!  

Merry-christmas

Are the gospels compelling enough for you to follow Jesus?

Il_570xN.108565248Here's my thesis – Jesus' words and actions HAVE TO BE compelling enough…His Kingdom presence needs to be transformational enough…His teaching life changing enough WITHOUT explanation.  I believe that many of us are more "epistle" formed people than Jesus formed people.  NOW, don't get me wrong, I love the epistles.  I teach the epistles in local faith communities and in university settings. Even so, doesn't there have to be enough of Jesus to compell us to follow Him without epistle explanation?  If not, than why does getting to know the Jesus of the gospels even important?  If not, why bother with the four gospels.  You see, we are story changed people…and think about it this way – most of the New Testament wasn't even written until decades after Jesus actually walked upon this plantet.  AND it was THAT Jesus that inspired the book and launched the Jesus movement that changed the world.  People met Jesus and were transformed by Jesus…not a letter, a book, a scroll but a person!  Remember, the Gospel is not a WHAT but a WHO!  The Gospel is NOT a book but a person! SO, it behooves us to know this person.  That's why in our faith community and in my personal life, we're dedicating ourselves to a year and a half process of carefully and strategically learning from our Lord through the words of the four gospels.  I'll be posting MORE on this topic through the year…but for NOW, if you want to see the reading plan, Download Gospel Reading Plan   Join in learning more about the One you follow!