One Morning At Starbucks . . .

I often tell people that I have a chain of offices across the country.  After I give them a moment to be impressed, I always add that most are called Starbucks.  It usually helps to break the ice.

I come here for several reasons.  (Yes, I’m sitting in my “office” as I type this.)  First, I hate the thought of being stuck in a traditional office—alone.  If I tried to work from my office at home, I’d start to go crazy.  I need to get out to do my work—and the coffee shop has many advantages.  For the price of a cup of coffee (No, I don’t buy the fancy stuff—just coffee, thank you.  And yes, Starbucks does actually sell straight coffee.),  I have rented table space for an entire morning if I wish.  That’s about sixty dollars a month.  It’s semi-private, in the sense that I can choose to bury myself in my work at my own table when I need to.  Or, I can take a minute to watch the, always entertaining, parade of humanity that passes through.  Or, I can engage any number of regulars (We all share office space here, I tell them) or staff (excuse me—baristas) in a moment of pleasant exchange.  And then I can get back to work.  Always something to write—or a lesson to plan—or a book to read—or whatever.

But I think the point is the people.  I really like the feeling of connection.  But it must be connection for a purpose.  I literally pray for divine appointments as I go about my day, including the hours I spend at Starbucks.  And sometimes . . .

The lady sat down at the next table one chilly day last January.  I was busy preparing a class I was to teach (New Testament Survey) to a class of deaf students, aspiring to ministry.  My Bible and books and notebooks, and computer were arranged all across my table.  I saw her out of the corner of my eye when she came in; but I busied myself with my work.  After a while she spoke.

“Excuse me,” she said, “but I’m curious.  Are you a student—or a teacher?”  I informed her that I am a teacher, and I was preparing for an upcoming class.  During the conversation that followed, she revealed several significant facts about herself.

She herself held several degrees in the areas of religion and psychology.  She had taught college level courses in the area of religion as an adjunct at secular universities.  So she was naturally interested in my work.  We continued to talk.  Was God up to something?

I soon learned that she had been a member of a church of my own denomination (Assemblies of God) back home.  But church hurts, combined with a failed marriage had taken its toll upon her soul, and now she was basically homeless—in a spiritual sense.  God was definitely up to something.  I left her that day with a clear, but gentle call to come back home.  I believe she even agreed to visit our church, which just happened to be right down the road from us.

A few days later, back at the office, I was glad to see her walk in.  She took a seat at another table—right across from two men I recognized as being connected with one of the local Bible Institutes.  A almost laughed when I overheard the gist of their conversation.  I couldn’t resist walking over to her table and saying, “You know, you’re surrounded, don’t you?”  She immediately brightened and said, “I want to talk to you!”

And that morning—at a table in Starbucks—the lady, with tears, began her journey back to the Father’s love.  Since that morning, she has joined our church and has taken multiple classes to better equip her in the spiritual ministry she feels God is leading her into.  She testifies that God has given back her song.  (She also has a strong background in music.)  So, among other things, she’s thinking about joining the choir.  She has been like a beautiful rose, opening up before my eyes.  She has declared that she has adopted not only me, but my entire family as her own.  I can’t wait to see what God will do with her.  As she reaches out to people who have been broken—like herself.

And to think that I might have missed it all—if I hadn’t been available to a conversation in a coffee shop.  Or at another time on an airplane.  Or at another time on a train.  Are you seeing a pattern here?  I hope so.

It’s what I call “Living in the Flow.”  I’ll have more to say about that later.

Selah

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A Conversation With A Muslim Evangelist . . .

The man seated in the airplane seat next to me was dressed in a fashion that shouted, “I’m not one of you!”  I guessed, correctly, he’s a Muslim.  He was reading some sort of Holy Book—but I didn’t get the idea it was the Koran.  (Do they have their own commentaries and devotional literature like we do?  I’m not sure.)  Anyway, I wasn’t asking any questions, and I quickly busied myself in my own work.  All I really wanted to do was to get to the other end of our journey and take my leave.  Just being honest.

But he began to show a real interest in me.  He started lobbing little questions and comments my way.  I recognized the techniques for opening conversations with strangers.  Any experienced personal evangelist develops skill in doing this.  I’ve done it myself.  But I wasn’t interested in this conversation.  I just wanted to be left alone, and I was beginning to get a little bit annoyed because he obviously didn’t intend to leave me alone.

Finally, with a sigh, I turned to him and said.  “You know, I do have a couple questions I’d like to ask you, since you’ve opened the conversation.”  He smiled and agreed that he was perfectly willing to discuss anything I wished.

“First of all, is it true that Muslims are expecting Jesus to return to earth?”  He assured me that they were.  I expressed my surprise that they were expecting Jesus to return.  Why not Mohammed?  He explained that when Jesus returns, he will announce to us all that Mohammed was right.  I suggested that we’ll have to wait and see exactly what announcement Jesus will make when he returns.  He laughed and agreed that was the case.

Then I asked, “Is it true that Muslims can’t be sure if they will go to heaven or hell when they die?”  He agreed that it was true.  Even he, a teacher, can’t be sure.  In the end, his good works will be weighed against his bad deeds and the final judgment will be rendered.  We can’t really know until then.

I looked into his eyes in that moment and felt genuine compassion.  I told him, “That makes me very sad.”  He asked why.  I told him that I, as a Christian, have an absolute assurance that I will go to heaven when I die.  He asked how that can be.

“Because Jesus has forgiven my sins, “ I told him, “they are gone. There’s nothing left to weigh.”  He was shocked to think I could believe that Jesus was capable of doing such a thing.  I quickly told him the story of Jesus forgiving the sins of the paralytic man in the gospels.  (Mark 2:5)  He was stunned.  For the rest of our conversation he continued to repeat, “I never knew that Jesus forgave sins.”

I wish I could report that the man prayed with me right there and is today serving the Lord, perhaps as a Christian evangelist.  The truth is that I left the man literally talking to himself.  I have no idea what happened to him after that.

But I do know that on that night, on that flight, God prompted a Muslim teacher to begin asking questions that finally broke through my self imposed shell, and opened a conversation that produced a crack in his own consciousness through which the light of the gospel could shine.

No one had ever told him that Jesus forgave sins.

But now he knows.  And I believe that the same Holy Spirit who brought me to faith followed him home that night.

And again I wonder, how often have I allowed hurting people to pass within inches of me, and I’ve been too preoccupied, too intimidated, too self absorbed to even notice.

Selah

Within inches . . .

I literally dug this out of the bottom of an old file.  I thought it deserved to be resurrected.  I’m reproducing it exactly as I wrote it . . . the morning after. . . .

March 10, 2006

Somewhere between Dallas and Chicago

I boarded the train in Dallas, bound for Chicago.  I was on my way to a weekend of ministry.  Another group was on their way to a wedding.  One couple just liked to see the country from a railroad car.  None of us were even remotely aware of what had just happened.

We were passing through a residential section, so the slowing of the train didn’t seem remarkable.  When we stopped completely, no one even noticed.  A movie was starting in the lounge car.  Our most pressing concern was how to most pleasantly pass the next 22 hours.  A muffled announcement over the speaker said something about a slight delay.  Some kind of accident.  There’s no reason for alarm.  We’ll be under way shortly.  Amtrak is, of course, sorry for any inconvenience.

When the second announcement came, I noticed something different in the speaker’s voice.  A hesitation.  His exhale was audible.  Another pause.  Someone had ended their life under the wheels of our train.

By now, we were beginning to notice the lights of police and emergency vehicles.  Someone said the body must be a half mile behind us.  You just can’t stop these trains on a dime, you know!  We had passed directly over the body; and we had no clue.

From time to time we received additional announcements; but no real information.  Someone said it was a woman.  Just jumped in front of the train.  Someone guessed she had to be high on drugs to do such a thing.  Police reports had to be made; and a new engineer was on the way.  And, of course, Amtrak was sorry for any inconvenience.

The movie continued without interruption.  Most conversations changed only momentarily.  Most shook their head and wondered how anyone could get so messed up.  We all wondered how late this will make us arriving at our destinations.  Will we miss our connections for the next leg of the scheduled trip?  Will I have to cancel tomorrow’s class?  A half mile back, a broken body was lying on the tracks.  Another desperately troubled soul had just gone into eternity less than 60 minutes earlier.  And, of course, Amtrak was sorry for the inconvenience.

I spent the last night and early this morning trying to get some perspective on what just happened.  It really isn’t my purpose to second guess Amtrak about how they handled a truly tragic event.  I guess the thing that most amazes me is the airtight isolation that exists between our world on this train and someone’s world that just passed inches beneath our feet.  And we had no clue.

I’m reminded that we’re all passengers on some kind of train, we hope, bound for glory.  We bump along within the confines of our own box cars.  Our homes.  Our jobs.  Our schools. Our churches.  We try to keep the mechanism running as smoothly as possible.  We consider our options, how to most profitably, or perhaps most enjoyably, spend the next day.  We complain about the delays.  All the time we pass within inches of other worlds.  And we have no clue.  How often have we run right over the top of someone; and we still had no clue?

I often describe my ministry as taking teaching to the place of need.  This morning, I’m sobered as I wonder how many needs are brought to me everyday; but I have no clue.  I’m just a little annoyed at the inconvenience.

Selah

“I’m a person . . . “

I wrote earlier about the time God sat me down and said, “We need to talk.”  I’ve been trying to unpack the implications of the first thing he told me, “I’m God—not you.”  But the second thing he said forever changed how I thought about prayer.

He said, “I’m a person.  And you must relate to me person to person.”

About this time, someone always gets visions of some super sized version of Charlton Heston with whiskers.  (Yes, I know that was Moses; but I’m going for an image here.)  Does God really look anything like that grand old man in Michelangelo’s painting?

The answer would be—no.

Jesus told us that God is a spirit.  (John 4:24)  Don’t look for head and shoulders, knees and toes.  Theologians agree that personhood requires three things:  intelligence, emotion, and will.  So we’re not talking about The Force from Star Wars either.  In fact, we received our own set of intelligence, emotion and will when we were created in God’s image.  This correspondence of personality traits makes it possible for us to walk and talk with God.  That’s why we were created in the first place.  And that brings us to the subject of prayer.

The personal God has a will of his own.  And I have a will of my own.  That’s the source of our problems, really.  Because he is God, and not me, my first priority in prayer must be to align myself with his will, as Jesus left us the example.  (Luke 22:41-42)  Of course, that isn’t always easy to know; but we must at least begin with that purpose—and always keep it in view.

The personal God is intelligent.  And I’m . . . well, some of us are more intelligent than others, I’ll agree.  And none of us can ever hope to match wits with God.  When I say we must use our intelligence when we talk to God; I’m not suggesting that God would ever be impressed with our vocabulary or our elaborately constructed sentences.  High church speech is not what we’re after here.  But we do want to be thoughtful.  And that’s my point.   Are you ever guilty of thoughtlessly repeating the same tired phrases you’ve used since you were six when you pray?  Could we honestly be accused of depending on “meaningless repetition” when we pray?  (Matthew 6:7)  Do your prayers ever seem to run on autopilot?  Stop!  Think about what you really want to say.  Now say it. . . .   That’s better.

Finally, the personal God is emotional.  We don’t need to hyperventilate here.  But I have to believe we need to approach our conversations with God with a little more feeling than if we were simply solving an equation in algebra.  We’ve been given a full range of emotions, as a gift from God, who has made us to correspond to himself in this way.  It’s ok to laugh at times, or cry at times, or even shout at times—whenever the occasion calls for it.  In fact—we might even suspect that something is wrong if we never show any emotion—ever—when we’re in close communication with the most loving, the most exciting, the most awesome person in the universe.  That’s our God!

Just ask yourself—if someone talked to me the way I talk to God, what would I think?  Would I recognize them as being thoughtful and intelligent?  Or mindless and monotonous?  Would I be able to detect any kind of emotional pulse at all?  Would I be moved by such expressions?

There’s a lot more that can be said about this matter of talking to God—person to person.  For example, who do you think should do most of the talking?  But we’ll pick that up some other time.

For next time, I’d like to switch gears entirely, and recall an experience when I passed about three feet from a tragedy—and I didn’t even know it.

Once is never enough . . .

I ended the last post with a question.  Why do I need a special word from God if everything I really need to know is already written in the Bible anyway?  If God has already spoken once—should he need to repeat himself?

The simple truth is—sometimes we just need to hear it again.

Just ask any wife, whose husband insists, “I told you I loved you forty years ago . . . “

Just ask any parent with forgetful children.  (Perhaps I should just say, Ask any parent.)

Just ask any teacher.

Just ask anyone trying to build and maintain any kind of positive relationship with any other person.

Once is never enough.  We need daily conversation.  Sometimes we need reminders.  Sometimes we need reinforcement.  Sometimes we need correction.  Sometimes, even when our mind knows the truth, our heart just needs to be reassured.  Always we need the sense that we are hearing—and being heard.

Even Peter (inspired by the Holy Spirit) felt it necessary to remind his readers of those things already recorded in the scriptures.  (II Peter 3:1-2)

Everything I’ve said so far comes down to the simple proposition that we are invited into a real walking/ talking relationship with the God of all heaven and earth.

In the back of my mind, I’m hearing an old song by the Imperials.

“Did you ever hear God speaking to you,  Saying I’ve got a job to do, And I’ll sure be needing you if it ever gets done? . . . Well, I’ve just heard God’s voice, and I’ve made my final choice.  I’m gonna sing his song.  Won’t you sing along?”

That’s all I’m saying.

And then God said to me, “I’m a person  . . . . “  And that one idea forever changed the way I pray.  But I’ll talk about that next time.

But God . . . I don’t understand!

In the last post, we talked about the foundational truth that God is God . . . not us.  I can’t “fix it” but he can.  (Go ahead and read the post, if you haven’t already.)  We noted that about the time we think we have figured out how all this works, we have finally discovered the formula for success in prayer, and we’re ready to go to print with our definitive book on the subject . . . stuff happens—again.  And we’re left wondering if we really understand anything at all.

When my life begins to go into reverse—again, and I cry out to the Lord—again that I just don’t understand; He answers, “Of course you don’t.  I’m God—not you.”

Now, there are many reasons why our prayers might not have been answered—at least not as we would have liked.  Many of these deserve full discussions all by themselves.  (Just one example would be James 4:2-3)  But just as often, I believe the only answer we can give is simply, God is God—not us.  At some bottom line of reality, that has to be enough.

It had to be enough for Job, after exhausting himself with his complaints and questions and arguments through 31 chapters.  When God finally shows up in the story and answers Job (chs 38-41) it wasn’t really an answer at all—at least not in the sense of giving Job his reasons for anything he has done or allowed.  In effect, God simply says, “I’m God—not you.  Do you really think you can do my job?  I didn’t think so. Why don’t you just let me be God—and you stick to being Job?”  Ouch!

I actually believe that God, sometimes, allows things to go into reverse for us for the specific purpose of reminding us of that very fact.  Anyway, that’s the feeling I get.

About now, someone is thinking . . . “How can you really be sure that was God speaking to you, and this wasn’t just your own thoughts?”  (Again—read the last post if you still haven’t.)

I’m glad you asked that!  Let me suggest a few check points that may be helpful here.

___Is this word consistent with what the Bible already teaches us?  (We’re not at all interested in adding to the canon here.)

___Does it speak to an immediate need?  (eg.) Am I in need of a word of exhortation, edification, or comfort?  (I Cor. 14:3)  Does it warn me of a potential danger? (as was my situation)  Maybe I just needed a wake up call.

___(When I look back)  Has that word of wisdom served me well through the years?

I know, that third question won’t apply immediately; but over time it will become increasingly important.

The whole point here is that God is a communicator.  He is there—and he is speaking.  He most assuredly speaks to us through his written word (the Bible).  In fact, that’s where the communication must begin.  But he also wants to drop those immediate words into our hearts—whenever we need it.

Take some time today to consider how this simple word might be applied in the situation you’re facing right now.  God is God—not you.

Have you been trying to fix something yourself?

Have you come to the limits of your own understanding?

Now, someone else will object:  “If this is all something you could have read in the Bible anyway—why do you think you need some special word from God?  Just read your Bible.  That should be enough!  Why do you have to get all weird about this?”

Great question!

We’ll consider that next time.

God is God . . . Not Me

It was one of those high power worship services.  Everyone was on their feet, with hands in the air, praising the Lord, as the worship team led everyone in a very up tempo number.  Suddenly, I felt like God was placing his hand upon my head, as if to say, “Sit down, son, we need to talk.”  I sat.  Instinctively, I opened my Bible to a blank page in the back and took out my pen.  At the top, I wrote a heading, “Preliminary Assumptions In My Relationship With God.”  My pen hovered over the next line, as I listened, blocking out all surrounding distractions.  And God began to speak. . .

The first thing God said to me was, “I’m God—not you.”  I wrote it down.

Ahhhh . . .did I hear that right, God?  Did you just take the time to reveal to me that you’re God—not me?

That would be correct.

Before you say, “Well, duh!  You didn’t need a special revelation for that!”, let me say that I have indeed had to fall back upon that clear and forceful word, often, ever since that day.  It has become one of the foundation stones for my life.  I’m still finding ways to apply that truth.

Take, for example, times when I’m trying to “fix” it.  Don’t tell me you’ve never been there.  Something is wrong.  Someone is wrong.  There is no shortage of people or things that just need to get fixed.  And I know exactly what everyone needs!  If they’ll only do what I tell them to do, or go where I tell them to go, or say what I tell them to say, or stop doing or going or saying those things I know they shouldn’t . . . well, that would fix it.  Right?  If they’ll just stand still long enough for me to pray the right prayer— that will fix it.  Of course, if it doesn’t, it’s just because of their own hard, unbelieving heart.  Right?  Job’s friends were sure they could fix him, rather quickly, if he would just cooperate.  But he wouldn’t—and the resulting argument takes up the main portion of the book that bears his name.  Somewhere, I have to understand that I’m not God.  I can’t fix it.

So, I should just back off and do nothing, right?  Stuff happens, and we’re stuck with the mess.  The best we can hope for is to hold on . . . through it all . . . till the end . . . (whimper)

But God says, “I’m God!”  He fixes broken things!  He restores things that were lost—even things lost a long time ago!  He makes crooked things straight!  He aligns the varied parts of my life to fit his own pattern and purpose!  Because he’s God!  I’m not—but he is.

So I decide I should just sit back and let God do it all while I watch TV.  He’s God.  He’s sovereign.  If he wants to fix something, or someone, he’s capable of doing it without my help.  But when I take the time to look (uncomfortably) in his direction, I realize he’s looking at me.  And he’s calling me to get up and walk with him and talk with him, and actually become a participant in this ministry of reconciliation.  (II Cor. 5:18-20)

We live in this tension between acknowledging God’s sovereignty, and accepting our own responsibility.  Struggling to discern the dividing line between God’s part and our part in any endeavor.  We pray with renewed meaning, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.” (not mine)

And about the time we think we have it all figured out, and we’re ready to write our best selling book on how to . . . more stuff happens, and we feel thrown all the way back to square one.

In our exasperation, we cry out, God—I just don’t understand!

And he says, “I know you don’t.  That’s why I’m God and not you.”

And that’s where we’ll pick up the conversation the next time we get together.

Who is This…Really?

The question is asked frequently.  How do I know I’m hearing the voice of God, and not just imagining things?  Further questions . . .  Is the voice of God a literal voice, like I would hear the voice of a friend?  If I’m hearing God speak, can anyone else in the room hear the same thing?  Or is it more of a closed circuit thing?  Should I expect to hear background music from the Twilight Zone, or the X Files?  Isn’t this just a little weird . . . really?

My response usually begins with the point that God is a spirit (John 4:24).  So, don’t expect to hear a physical voice.  We’re talking about spirit to spirit communication.  Think about all those messages you’ve received, loud and clear, by no more than a look from your mother, father, husband, wife, or close friend.  Doesn’t “non verbal” communication involve more than simple body language and facial expression?  Is that weird?  (That’s a whole different subject we really should explore some time.)

My next question is: how do you recognize the voice of anyone you’ve come to know? Think now . . . by hearing it . . . often.  The phone rings.  Even without caller id. You know that voice from the first “hello.”  You’ve heard it so often.

This is true with natural voices.  Could the same be true with spiritual voices?  (Careful, don’t get weird on me!)  Is God a spirit or not?  Is he a communicator by nature or not?  We have to consider the question of spirit to spirit communication.

But how can I know for sure?  Is there a safe place I can go to hear the voice of God and be sure that’s what I’m hearing?

The short answer is . . . that’s probably the best reason I can give you for reading your Bible every day.

Think of it.  This is the ultimate safe place to learn what the voice of God sounds like, as he thunders within the depths of your soul.  Or perhaps it will be a quiet whisper you might miss . . . unless you are listening . . . very carefully.  Either way, please understand that whenever you are reading . . .  and quietly reflecting on the message of the scriptures, you are hearing, and becoming familiar with God’s voice.

The good news is—you don’t need to worry about who’s talking.  The better news is—you’re receiving a lot of information for future reference about what God thinks about . . . lots of stuff.  File it all away for future reference.  It will be a valuable resource later when you need to evaluate any suggestion that may come into your mind.  God’s voice will never contradict his written word.  Period.

The unexpected benefit is—you’re learning to recognize the voice of God when he speaks to you.  You’ll receive some suggestion—usually quietly—and you’ll begin to evaluate it.  Does it violate any known principle of scripture?  Is it consistent with what I already know about God?  About myself?  Have I heard this same message before?  From where?  (Consider the source.)

And finally—is the “tone” of this message consistent with the voice I hear when I’m reading my Bible?  Is it that familiar voice from home I’ve come to know?

Think about it.

In future posts, I want to talk about some of the most powerful, life shaping things I believe God has spoken to me.

When God Speaks

Maybe you remember the old E. F. Hutton commercials.  Two people are discussing what their stock brokers say about a particular stock.

(First Person):  “My broker says . . . (whatever)…What does your broker say?”

(Second Person): “Well, my broker is E. F. Hutton, and E. F. Hutton says . . . “

Suddenly, everyone in the room stops what they’re doing and strains to listen.

(Voice):  “When E. F. Hutton speaks—people listen.”

Effective commercial.  At least it left a lasting impression with me.  The unmistakable message is that E. F. Hutton knows, he speaks with authority, and his words of financial wisdom are available to us all. Just call the number at the bottom of the screen.   If I were inclined to play the stock market, I might even consider doing just that.  But I’m not . . . so I won’t.

My question is, however, what is our response when God speaks?

And many will reply, “Do you really believe he does?  Do you really believe you have heard him?  We have nice quiet places for people like you.”

So, our conversation begins there.  Is God, by nature, a communicator?

Of course, this all assumes we believe God exists in the first place.  (If you don’t believe this; perhaps we can have a different conversation later.

I might as well put a second assumption on the table for the sake of this discussion.  I believe the Bible has been given to us as a revelation of what God wants us to understand about himself, and about ourselves.  It serves as our objective standard of measurement for anything we believe God might have said to us.  Without this, we’re all left to our own (often misguided and always self interested) imaginations.   It shouldn’t be very hard for all of us to think of several tragic examples of what can happen when people think they have heard from God, or convince others that they have heard from God; but in reality, their “revelation” was completely contrary to what the Bible actually says.

But the question at hand is . . . does God really speak to men and women—to us—today?

If we take the Bible revelation seriously, we must conclude that the God who created the heavens and the earth with his authoritative word desires to walk and talk with us.  The God we see in the Bible is a God of relationship.  The whole story of the Bible is a story about a relationship.  At first beautiful—then broken—and now (ever since Genesis 4) being restored.   He must therefore be a God who desires to communicate his intentions with the men and women he has created.

According to the Bible, the question cannot be, “Does God want to speak to me?”  Nor can it be, “Can God speak to me?”  The question can only be, “Am I listening?”

So, are you?  Please understand that one of my personal ambitions is to learn to walk and talk with God—without being weird.  I really desire the same for you.  So, don’t start walking around with a faraway look in your eye, muttering to yourself like you’re receiving communication from a distant planet.  If you start doing that, you’ve missed the point.  You aren’t being spiritual—you’re just being weird.  Stop it!  Right now!

But know this.  God is very near.  God is speaking to you and me right now.  Don’t be afraid.  Like any faithful lover, he wants you to understand his heart.  His message to you.  Can you feel your heat skip a beat?  Does your heart rate quicken at the thought?  God is here—and he’s speaking to me?

Can you hear him?  What’s he saying?

Listen . . .

I plan to expand on this idea in future posts.

If you’re interested in a more in depth discussion of this subject, you might like to read, “In Search of Guidance: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God”, Dallas Willard, Harper Collins, 1993.

The Conversation Begins

Have another cup of coffee.  Go ahead . . . I’ll wait.

It seems to me that the best conversations and the best ideas come with the second cup.

That’s what this blog is supposed to be about.  This is a place to have those conversations—to think those thoughts that come with the second cup.

Ok, you say, “You’re the only one talking!”

Ah, that’s where you’re wrong!  I happen to believe that every time we read a piece (especially a thoughtful piece—which I intend this to be) we enter into a conversation with the ideas presented on that page.  You may hold the entire conversation in your own mind.  You may make notes in the margin, or in a notebook.  You may bring the subject up later with a friend.  Whatever—we enter into conversations about significant ideas.

And when that happens, the writer has been successful.

So . . .  Pour that second cup.

And let the conversations begin.