August 2017

Coffee and God’s creativity

August 2 2017 by Jason Thacker, Baptist Press

I remember being at my grandmother’s house when I was 8 or 9 years old, sitting on a stool next to my grandfather and eating breakfast – our morning routine after I stayed the night.
 
My grandmother typically went a little overboard on the menu, and that day was no exception. We had bacon, eggs, biscuits and her famous white gravy. We always had our juice glasses filled to the brim with orange juice.

Jason Thacker


But my grandparents always had another cup near their breakfast plates. I didn’t know much about that drink other than they had it every morning, just like my parents did. That particular morning, I decided to ask for some. My grandmother told me I wouldn’t like it, and she had never been more right. I thought it was so bad that I added a ton of Hershey’s strawberry milk syrup.
 
Many of us have some type of memory from when we first had this drink – coffee. For me, it was a fond memory with my grandparents, both of whom I will never again get to enjoy breakfast with on this earth. I wouldn’t really drink coffee again until my sophomore year of high school at Starbucks when I needed to write papers and prep for a test the next day.
 
Over the next several years, I would drink more coffee than I ever thought possible.
 

A work of art

It wasn’t until I moved to Louisville, Ky., that I learned there was an art to coffee. “The land where the coffee flows,” read the bag of one high-end, third-wave coffee roaster. I was exposed to a slow-brewed pour over coffee using equipment like the Chemex or V60, along with burr grinders and different roasting levels between beans. I learned about fair trade coffee and competitions where people attempt to brew the perfect cup of joe. For these people, coffee was much more than just a pick-me-up drink.
 
I think one thing is often overlooked when it comes to simple pleasures like a fine cup of coffee. Often, we forget the artistry that goes into the coffee itself – from the farmer who knows just when and how to plant for the perfect harvest to the barista who shows off their latte art or their favorite brewing method.
 
Coffee isn’t just a commodity to be enjoyed. It’s a work of art and creativity. And for the Christian, we see that it’s another good gift from the Father.
 
Our God created the soil and the beans. He created the people who picked them. He gave the creative talents needed for roasting and gifted the person who created each of the tools that I use to brew my own coffee. He created the owners of the small shops down the street with a passion to start small businesses and love their neighborhoods.
 
This creativity and art isn’t limited to coffee. Food, art, music, photography and design all have inherent value because it is through these that many people live out the image of God through creating art for the enjoyment of others. God created each of them with gifts and talents that were designed to be used in glorifying Him.
 
Our creative faculties and art reflect our God. He is the ultimate creative and artist. As we appreciate a fine cup of coffee, a grand painting, a perfectly cooked steak or a beautiful melody, we can see the glory of God’s creation and bask in that glory as we worship Him, since it’s through Him that all of these things are even possible.
 

Enjoying coffee to God’s glory

For me, coffee is much more than just a cup. Coffee brings back many fond memories. It’s over that cup of coffee that I have had many hard, gospel-centered conversations. It’s over a cup of coffee that I often looked lovingly at my now wife as we studied and talked about the future together. It was with a cup of coffee in hand that I read some of the richest theology I had ever been exposed to while in school. It was next to that cup of coffee that I made lifelong friends. And it’s also through that cup of coffee that I’m reminded of the glory of our God as I reflect on how He created us to make things to reflect His glory.
 
We are often tempted to think that luxuries in life are superfluous. There’s an element of truth in that statement. Do I need to have a slow brewed cup of coffee? Of course not, but I still enjoy it and can worship God as I drink it. The luxuries in life are just that – they are luxuries. They’re good gifts from our infinitely creative God who is glorified when we enjoy the things He has created.
 
Our God is a God who reminds us that we are to take the earth and subdue it. We are to have dominion over it as creatures made in His image. And something as simple as a cup of coffee reminds me of the lavish grace from God that I’ve received through Jesus and of the many good gifts I’ve been given freely – like my marriage, friendships and the coffee-stained Bible I carry that teaches me about my creative God.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jason Thacker is the creative director for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, overseeing design, video, audio, web and print media. This column first appeared at the ERLC’s website, erlc.com.)

8/2/2017 7:14:55 AM by Jason Thacker, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Gay men in the NFL

August 1 2017 by Adam Groza, Baptist Press

ESPN recently published a story in which Kansas State offensive tackle Scott Frantz identified himself as a gay man. CNN quickly seized upon the story, prognosticating that the National Football League (NFL) would soon have its first openly gay player. The media was similarly entranced with Michael Sam, who became the first openly gay man ever drafted by the NFL in 2014.

Adam Groza


Clearly those who seek to normalize homosexuality see a gay man playing in the NFL as the next Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage which constituted a significant step toward the normalization and acceptance of homosexuality.
 
An openly gay NFL player would be seen as a cultural victory – a Jackie Robinson moment for those who, wrongly, equate the gay rights movement with the civil rights movement.
 
Stereotypes of American manhood are heavily influenced by the NFL. “Real men” are big, tough and muscular. The quintessential American man is exemplified by the likes of Joe Montana, Russell Wilson and Bo Jackson. He takes hits and keeps going. If a gay man plays in the NFL, the message is clear: Gay men are “real men.”
 
How should Christians respond? Perhaps surprisingly, Christians should be unmoved. Openly gay men will undoubtedly be successful and appreciated in the NFL just as they are in a variety of other vocations.
 
The real battle that should concern Christians is not the NFL but cultural assumptions regarding manhood. For too long, Christians have allowed culture to unduly influence our views of manhood. This latest news about the NFL is a good time for Christians to assert a biblical view of what it means to be a “real man.” Hint: It has nothing to do with a football.
 
Biblical manhood is first and foremost about fearing God, and not about inspiring fear in other men (see Proverbs 1:7, 1 Timothy 5:8, Romans 13:1-7, Ephesians 5:25).
 
Biblical manhood is not measured in rushing yards and passing percentage, but in love, service and holiness. The end zone of biblical manhood is faithfulness to Jesus and His local church. Hall of fame men are faithful to their wives, provide for their families and finish the race. Biblical men only resort to acts of violence when life and liberty are on the line, not for adulation or entertainment.
 
Of course, it is possible to play football and embrace biblical manhood; the two are not mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, where there are conflicting versions of masculinity, Christians should take notice and remain faithful to scripture.
 
Gay men playing in the NFL may cloud the cultural picture of manhood, but not the biblical picture.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Adam Groza is vice president of enrollment services and associate professor of philosophy at Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
 

8/1/2017 7:25:27 AM by Adam Groza, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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