Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I obviously haven’t posted lately. That’s a product of a couple things. Between getting the house ready for sale and transitioning into pastoral ministry at a new church there hasn’t been much time. I am also debating on the best use of my blog now that life circumstances have changed so much. Still working on that.
I had both a wedding and a funeral this week (two completely separate events, although the groom did come close to passing out from the heat). The funeral was my first and in talking to people about it this week I got to thinking about eulogies and wondering if they will last in my generation. I guess what I mean is that it just seems so odd to have a pastor that may not have known a person very well give the defining statement of who that person was and what their life amounted to at the end of life. While I wouldn’t mind having a pastor that knows me well, which in my case there might be one or two, give the eulogy, it just seems rather unauthentic to have someone that didn’t know much about me have such a task. I certainly understand why it is the norm, often those that are closest to the deceased are very emotional at the service and it is a fitting way to honor that person. I do wonder with my generation’s premium on authentic relationship if the pastoral eulogy will be a thing of the past, in exchange for emotional loved ones sharing from the heart.
So here’s my request for an eulogy: I would like someone (or more than one) to share about the real me. Don’t get up there and make me sound all saintly. Tell about the time that I really made you mad, hurt your feelings, didn’t make it any better when I could have. Tell about the times that I changed your life for the good, made you laugh, scratch your head, about how strange I could be. I hope that this person might also share that they saw Christ in me. Despite all the crazy, messed up, broken parts of me, I hope more than anything to be defined by Christ’s light shining through me.
I guess that last part is something for me to work on while I’m still alive.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Welcome and greetings to those of you from Honeoye Falls UMC that have found my blog. I wasn’t planning on advertising that I had a blog because I was curious if it would be found. I was informed last night that at least some folks have found it and have been reading up. Angie and I had a good laugh about that as we talked about it. I think it is really funny, strange, and slightly disturbing, that those that have read some of my thoughts here will already have formed some mental images about me (or Angie) because of what is here. I give you my assurance that there will not be a follow up sermon to the post “Would God Pick Up Your Poop.” For churchgoers to HFUMC this is probably a relief. For those of you that have expressed interest in stopping in some Sunday to worship with us because of my blog, you might be a little disappointed by this. However, I will do my best to be witty and insightful in my preaching, even without any references to poop.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
How I wish I could be a rock star. There is this video of me when I was four. It has been a while since I have seen it because it is on one of those old film movies that you need a projector to watch. But in this video I’m dancing around singing “Rock and Roll, Rock and Roll, Yeah!” I would watch that and think, “this is really cool one day when I’m a rock star this will end up Entertainment Tonight.” Well, I can kinda play guitar, mostly rhythm, I’m not a very good singer, and while I’m not ugly I’m not going to end up in some band just because I’m good looking. So while my childhood dream will never be realized I have picked out pieces of the dream that I can still connect to.
I don’t know exactly what it was that at the age of four made me want to be a rock star so bad. It wasn’t that I was in preschool wishing I could be drinking JD out of the bottle and enjoying the other perks of stardom. I am sure that I would be reading too much into my post-toddler fantasy to come up with a motivation behind that dream, but I know that as I grew up the act of creating something that would affect groups of people became very attractive. I remember the first time that I was asked to speak in front of a really big group. I’m not talking raising my hand in class, or giving an announcement at youth group, I was asked to share what God had done in my life to those at a youth conference numbering 1,000. While I was a little nervous I found the experience to be electrifying. I had a number of people come up to me afterwards and tell me how it had impacted them, and it wasn’t really an ego thing, but I really enjoyed being able to affect so many people at once.
I’ve had the privilege of preaching sermons plenty of times in my life. As a youth pastor most weeks I was teaching classes and giving short messages to the students. The act of crafting and creating something that other people will listen to (hopefully) and might have an affect on their life is a sobering responsibility. It is one that I love though and I am very excited about being able to preach every week. I’ve had a few tell me this excitement will wane, and like them I will be scrambling on Saturday night to throw something together, but I don’t really see that happening. Can’t wait for this Sunday, hope it goes well.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
One of the problems with how Christianity has been lived out over the past several generations is that people think that they can come to this religion as a place for answers. Which to the extent that Christianity is a religion makes sense, but if you step away from the institution and look at what it is really meant to be, and the teachings of Jesus, to come to the Christian faith for answers is absurd. Sure there are answers to the right questions in scriptures, but if we honestly look at those answers we find that they often lead to other questions, and if we are really honest we often find that our original question wasn’t what we really wanted to know anyway.
The Christian faith is about relationship. Our relationship with God, and our relationship with each other. Relationships seldom leave us with answers. Relationships are hard, messy, and complicated, because they deal with two different beings with different values, interests, and concerns. To find the common ground in relationships questions must be asked, and then more questions, and then some more. It is always a process of digging deeper, of finding out more, and eventually getting to the point once you have learned a lot about another you realize that there will always be more to learn and adapt to because just as you are not standing still in your life, neither is the other that you are in relationship with. It is a Truth that God never changes, however since he is in relationship with us and we are ever changing, the way that God relates to us as individuals, as well as the way that he is relating to our current place in history, means that God can be unchanging yet not static at the same time.
I find it interesting that Jesus almost always answered a question with another question, or a parable, but not usually an answer. Seriously, check it out. So why would he do that? Was he trying to be confusing? Did they not ask the right questions? I think that the answer is that this life isn’t about having all the answers; it is about going deeper with each other and our God. That comes from spending time being together, not from having a list of all the right answers to a bunch of questions that actually have very little importance.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Some baristas wait a lifetime for the experience I had today; I guess I’m just lucky. One Ms. Martha Stewart came by to see me at work today. So we’re pretty much BFFs now. She and her entourage stopped in for an afternoon pick-me-up on the way to the airport after a day in Rochester.
I saw the previews for that made for TV movie about Martha a few years ago and I have to say she not anything like that. She actually was really nice, joked with me for a few minutes, and paid for her whole group (yes, I held the credit card of a woman once estimated to be worth over a billion dollars). My fellow baristas and I provided the group with the same legendary service that we would anyone at Starbucks, but we certainly weren’t falling all over ourselves to make a big deal about her. After I told her, “no, we don’t have any ice cream to pour your latte over,” one of her peons hinted that maybe I could go to the ice cream place two doors down and get some, and the others then made it a point to call her “Martha” a lot. She was fine with me not fetching her some ice cream and even gave me some suggestions about what I might do with the extra espresso. This is more or less the recipe that she suggested for me.
It was surreal to have some one so well known in front of me, engaged in friendly conversation for a good ten minutes, but I certainly didn’t wet myself or anything. I’m having a lot of fun telling people about it and I our regulars get a kick out of it.
The question everyone has asked me is “What does Martha Stewart drink at Starbucks?” Well, I’m reluctant to tell you, because honestly we probably wouldn’t do this for anyone who wasn’t Martha, so you have to promise me to not go in and start ordering it all the time. Ready??? She had us make her a tall cappuccino (one shot of espresso, half steam milk and half milk foam), and then she had us pour it over ice in a grande cold cup. (Originally she first asked for it to be poured over coffee ice cream.) I helped her refine exactly what she wanted (I didn’t want to be the one responsible for messing her drink up), and Mike made it to order so perfectly she was actually really excited and told him that it looked wonderful.
I'm not really one for autographs (except for the time in sixth grade when I went to the House of Guitars to get Poison to sign my cassette tape of their album Talk Dirty to Me), but I do wish I had her sign my green apron. That would be really cool to have. Oh well, it is a fun story about my time at Starbucks anyway. If you would like to touch the hand that touched Martha, it will cost you $1.00. Leave a comment and we'll work out the details. All proceeds will benefit the Angie iPOD Fund.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
From time to time we find ourselves in times of transitions, times when we know that a significant part of our experience of life is coming to an end with a new one about to begin. We enter into the land of the in-between when the reality of the new sets in while we are still firmly planted in the present. As we wait for the yet to be we find it very difficult to be fully present to the place that we are currently in.
Jesus was the master of being fully present, yet most of his life must have felt like this strange place, the land of in-between. He was always aware of how his life would end, how much the love he had for his disciples would cost him, and amazingly he was able to live fully in each moment. To try and live our lives out into the future, to ignore the opportunities for life that God has gifted us with today, is to be poor stewards of the things entrusted to us.
I find myself in this place now. I am doing a poor job at being present to the day-to-day, specifically in my work at Starbucks. I value the time I’ve spent there this year, the people I’ve built relationships with the things that I’ve learned to do, the time has not been wasted, but I’m counting down the days. I dread going to work, making another blended coffee beverage, putting up with rude and uppity people, I long for it to be over. But I know that this is not the attitude that God wants me to face the day with. If only I could embrace the moment and look at each day as a chance to continue to be salt and light, to live in such a way that makes the day all that it was meant to be. The day is not meant to be wished away. Our experiences with others are opportunities to get and give grace, and when we can get over our whininess long enough to realize that it is not all about us we can see God at work in places we wish we didn’t have to be.
Jesus, may I have the grace to be where I am and in doing so may I realize that it is there that you are with me, because it is there that you have me to be. Amen.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
I’m on the cusp of something big here. I realize making the jump from barista to pastor is an obvious big step, but I have a deep sense that this is going to be good. It’s one of those rare times in life that many things come together in a way that it is obvious God is working in a number of people that all seem to be listening and moving in a common direction. Now as the paths of Angie and I and the Honeoye Falls UMC come together it is amazing to see all that Jesus has been doing in my life to fall into place in this way.
If my life where a movie the ending credits would be about to roll, with a slow but intense Coldplay song playing underneath. It is definitely the end of a chapter, but it’s the kind of ending that you know really isn’t an ending, there is more to come, and its going to be good. I almost feel silly even talking like this, since I haven’t spent a lot of time with anyone from the church, and I’ve only met a small handful. But the excitement and anticipation that I feel in the deepest parts of my soul is the stuff of celebration that only comes when you have walked through fire and come out stronger on the other side.
Will there be days that the task of pastoring a diverse group of people seem overwhelming? Sure. Might I be disheartened at times as it seems that I care about the spiritual health of individuals more than they do? Very possibly. Will there be days that I wish I would have drank a little more coffee, or stayed in bed a while longer, went for that run, anything but doing what this calling has me doing on that day? Hey, it is still a job, and I’m still human. But to finally get to be doing what it is that God has been readying me for for so many years now, that is plain awesome. What a ride.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
So I was out in the back yard tonight doing what seems like an every other day occurrence lately: picking up Molly’s poop (just for the record Molly is my dog, please refer to the post “ANGIE” if you thought Molly was my wife). This particular act, and the frequency there of, got me to thinking about how much I really do love my dog. This was an easily arrived at meditation because as I did the “dirty work” Molly played with her new toy. This new toy consists of a fairly heavy-duty 9’ tire (think mini-Big Foot tire) that has one of those dog chew ropes with the knots attached. Well it was easy to love her despite the poop because she had the business end of the rope in her mouth, whipping it around as hard as she could, which meant the rubber tire was beating against her head with loud thumps. Great stuff. Since I’ve paid big money for a theology degree I’ve allowed myself to be brainwashed to the point of when ever I’m thinking about love I try and relate it to God’s love. Sometimes this intellectual exercise leads to wonderfully enlightening sermon illustrations that make the old ladies giggle with glee over how much I help them understand Jesus better, and make middle school kids spit on themselves because they try to hold in the laughter, because they think it is bad to laugh in church. Other times I just think of really odd or lame illustrations that I used to just inflict on my wife, but now I can just blog about them.
So the thought progression went something like this: 1) I must really love my dog to put on gloves, get out a plastic bag, and scour my yard hunched over for poo, 2) I sure wouldn’t do this for anyone else (with a brief mental sidebar about if I do love Angie enough to pick up her poop, but I’ll save that for another blog), and 3) (here’s were the big money for the Master’s of Theology really pays off) I wonder if God loves me enough to pick up my poo. Of course initially the question was literal, but that’s a dumb question because when I was a kid I remember hanging out with this other kid in a field and he was telling me about how he had to poop in the woods once when he was camping and had to clean up his business end with leaves from a tree and the phobia I already had about not knowing what poison ivy looked like immediately linked with an aversion to camping, so I would never be pooping somewhere that needed picking up anyway. So then I started considering the question metaphorically, which also allows me to use my B.A.which is in philosophy, and I realized that God does love me enough to pick up my poop. But I think it makes him sad.
You see how often do we make messes in our relationship and then beg for God’s help in cleaning it up? And even when we don’t ask for help, when we do crappy things to other people, I think God cares more about restoration of relationships than we do and goes farther than we realize in helping to rectify the situation.
Over all that’s all I got. Not all that profound, and if I thought that any of my professors read my blog I would apologize, but if nothing else I sure got to type “poop” more than I ever have before.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Pastors are dorks. Did I seriously need to tell you this? Unless you already are a pastor, or married to one, did you disagree with this statement? Well, I’ve never been on a crusade about letting the world know this, in fact I never really gave much thought to it. However, there must be something really ingrained deep within me that witnesses to this truth. How do I know this? Because the overwhelming thought that kept going through my mind (besides the emotion of excitement) when I found out that I would be pastoring a church is that I’m not nearly dorky enough to be a pastor. Mind you, I have no illusion that I’m not already dorky. I’m very clear on the fact that I am a big dork. Even with that being said, I have a hard time getting over this deep seeded stereo-type about not being dorky enough to be a pastor. I suppose in theory I am ready to give up some things that might define my coolness until now. I mean it is probably time to stop buying funky colored sneakers. As I shop for a new car I will resist getting something fast, and lean more towards practical, although I refuse to get a minivan. It may be about time to retire the disc golf, but I’m not so sure about that. I don’t plan on giving up going to the Little Cinema for interesting thought provoking movies (that may be borderline on the cool/dork scale anyway), and I actually hope to see more live music than I have recently, but in club settings as good music was meant to be heard not some big arena. I have also been giving very serious thought to pulling the trigger on a new tattoo of late.
Overall I imagine that I won’t change much in this new switch. In my high school years I was definitely on a crusade to show that Christians could be cool, but I’ve been over that for a long time now. In fact, if I somehow got to be known as “the cool pastor” I think I might puke. If coolness or dorkiness are what define me as a pastor, or even as a Christian for that matter, than I have failed in living a life that points others to Jesus. But in defense of many of the younger pastors I know, very few are total dorks. Maybe it’s something that comes with time. Something to look forward to!
Monday, April 23, 2007
Alright, so Bishop Fisher has appointed me as the pastor of Honeoye Falls United Methodist Church. Angie and I are both really excited about this and feel like it will be a great fit for everyone. We’ve known for a week now, but have had to keep quiet about it until it was publicly announced at the church first. In that time excitement has been my main emotion, I’m sure the weight of the responsibility will hit me soon, but for now I’m just going to enjoy it. I’m resisting jumping in with both feet for now. My start date is July 1st and from that point on it will consume a large part of my life. While I will be using the time between now and then to prepare some things and start meeting more people from the church I won’t be devoting all my non-work time to church related issues. I will definitely spend a lot of time between now and then with Jesus and making sure that my heart is inline with his and seeking his face for the sake of the congregation that I have been called to serve.
One thing that I have thought a lot about in the last week is all that God’s Grace has done to and for me. I just keep thinking back to how I was as a middle school kid and the pain I was to pretty much everyone and how God so chased me down that I finally said yes to him and have been chasing him back ever since. It still amazing me the depth of the change that God has worked in my life, the way that Jesus takes that which is seemingly valueless and busted and says, “This is my treasure and I will use it for great things.” By the standard of the world I really should have ended up fairly messed up from the experiences I had as a kid and the path I was heading down as I began to make my own choices about life in adolescence. But that was not God’s plan, and while it somewhat oversimplifies it to say it this way it really is true, all I had to do is say yes to that plan again and again. Jesus has wrecked my life past the point of recognition since I agreed to be caught by his love and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.Jesus, thank you for never giving up on me and for calling me to help others find you in the depths of this messiness that we find ourselves in. May I be true to you, may my heart be your heart, and may I find myself among those willing to have you wreck their lives too. Amen.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Angie my wife, who is a woman all unto her own, is so much more than just a girl that married me. Angie is one of the most amazing people that I have ever met, and I am honored to share this life with her, as we both uniquely contribute to what make us an “us.”
You see, Angie was a little upset with me that I refer to her in my blogs only as “my wife.” As if I view her spousal role as the only thing that defines her, which I know she knows isn’t the case in reality, but she felt that way because of my references to her by her marital title. This has been a conscience choice of mine, to not use her name that is, but mostly out of fear of some weirdo on the web knowing more than he needs to about the woman I love so much. But the reality of it is, unless it is an extremely unintelligent weirdo, it would probably be easy to put two and two together and figure out that the link to Angie on my blog is to the woman I am honored to be the husband of.
So just to put her mind at ease, I want to let her know and the whole world (or the half-dozen or so that read my blog) to know exactly what I think of Angie. Angie is truly one of the most unique and spirited people I have even met in my life. She truly is my soul mate, which among other definitions I would agree with Robin Williams’ character in Good Will Hunting where he describes a soul mate as “someone who challenges you.” Among Angie’s considerable talents are that she can read really fast and cares for others far more deeply than she likes to acknowledge or let be known. She can be very funny, often gruff, and enjoys the finer things in life such as Starbuck’s Mochas and my cooking. As tough as she is inside and out she has a very tender, one might say squishy, soul. This is most readily seen in the love she has for her good friends, siblings, extended family members, dog, amazingly handsome husband (who doesn’t at all mind not being referred to as Matthew), and Jesus.
Forrest Gump said the he and Jenny where like peas and carrots. I think Angie and I are more like gum and long hair on a hot day. There are very distinct things about each of us, and there is no mistaking which is which, but if you think you can separate the two, forget it. Angie is most certainly a she and a we, and any future mention of her in either category is not meant to be limiting to any extent.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21
These are Job’s words as his world starts caving in around him, as he loses most of his children in a tragic accident. I’ve been talking with friends lately about weather or not God causes the bad things that happen to us or not, and generally we are not comfortable in saying yes to that. However, I do think that God takes away things that are important to us from time to time to help us remember that it is he that we want. It’s not that I think God takes away things like children or friends, that would be God directly causing catastrophic tragedy, but I do think he will remove us from positions, jobs, relationships, in order to help us keep our eyes fixed on him.
That is where I’m at in life right now. While I was in agreement with God on many levels that it was time for me to step back from my position as a youth minister, it still has been an earth moving change in my life to not be doing fulltime ministry right now. And as I head back on the path leading me once again to fulltime ministry I find the thought of being employed as such in the next year or two as the comforting thought that gets me through tough days. And that puts me in the position of putting my trust and hope in something other than God, and one of the reasons that I think it was important for me to step back from professional ministry for a time. My hope, my trust, my consolation should come from God and God alone.
So in awareness of where my heart is from time to time, I ask myself if I would be okay if I was never employed as a fulltime pastor again. Sure I can come up with all kinds of reasons as to why that would be stupid if it happened, some of them even fairly spiritual. One of the bigger reasons is that God has gifted me as a pastor and I wouldn’t be a good steward of his gifts if I were to never do it again. But then I read the words of Job, and I realize that this calling and these gifts are from God. And as much as it would break my heart to never again do the duties of a pastor, a role that I love for so many reasons, ultimately my purpose in life is to be God’s child and God will go to great lengths to remind me that his love for me is what defines me, not my professional title.Do I think that I will be a pastor again sometime in the future and that is what God has ordained my life for on this earth? Yes, I fully believe that. But God wants my heart to be in a place that is okay if that were to never happen again. He wants to know, wants me to know, that I would still be as wildly in love with him and trust him in every way even without using my gifts for pastoral ministry. Let it be.
My wife questioned me the other day as to why I haven’t written anything lately for my blog, and since I’m procrastinating from about three or four fairly important tasks that I should be working on this afternoon, I thought I would write something up now.
I actually did have another posting about the Jesus Family Tomb thing that was on TV, but then I realized that nobody really seem to notice or care about it, so I took that post down. I also have been really on edge about my future of late, and I’ve found it hard to write anything really worth sharing. At this point I sense pretty strongly that not only is God calling me back into vocational ministry, but that it will happen sooner rather than later. I’m still waiting to hear if I will be appointed to a church this summer or not. While it is really exciting to know of some of the potential places I might end up as the pastor, it is a becoming nerve racking to just not know. While I know I’ve been stressing about it during waking hours of late, I think it’s starting to affect my sleep as well. In addition to being tired (which also might be a by-product of getting up at 4:00am a couple times a week to go sell coffee), I’ve been feeling like someone’s been taking a pipe to my gut over night. Maybe I should move the softball bat that my wife keeps next to her side of the bed.
As I wait to hear if I’ll be placed at a church I’ve been looking at other options and making some adjustments for the time being. I start this weekend working the overnight a few times a week stocking at the best grocery store chain in the world. There is also a full-time youth pastor position that interests me more than a little. I really hope to get some word by the end of the month about church stuff, the sooner the better.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
We must first peer into the darkness, feel strangled and entombed in the hopelessness of living without God, before we are ready to feel the presence of His living light. -Abrahan Joshua Heschel
The darkness, the distance, we sometimes feel from God can offer a much needed balance to our relationship with God. Maybe this distance is self induced, or a divine corrective due to our worship of that which is not God. There are times that we allow good and valuable things to step out of their rightful place in our lives and give them a place of prominence only rightfully reserved for God. So our journey in the wilderness is one that often comes from our own misguided trust in that which is not God.
If God were to immediately pluck us out of these situations we may never have to fully trust in God for direction, because there would be little consequence for us in following our own way. So the stuckness that we often experience is not necessarily divine judgement for our stubbornness or stupidity, but rather Grace working deep within us to bring life from that which would otherwise suffocate the faith within us.
Friday, February 16, 2007
I even found some guy with my name that died in 1814, whose will was online. Wow, that shows how behind the times I am, I had no idea that the Internet existed before his death that he might post it there. Among the interesting things I was able to learn about this fellow, was the tragedy of him being a slave own (one Fanny and daughter Nancy, whom he left to his wife), that he didn’t seem to like his son Isaac much (whom was left “the bottom that he sits on”), that although he died in Virginia well after the War of Independence he still willed all his money out in pounds, and that he felt it necessary to will his soul to God (as if God required the proper legal documentation). I have no reason to actually believe that I am related to this man in any way since to the best of my knowledge my lineage doesn’t go back that far in the states.
Some British bloke has very selfishly snatched up all the domain names with my name with the various endings such as .net, .org, and .com. The sad thing is they are all the same really lame website, and he isn’t doing anything particularly interesting with them.
In addition to doctors and lawyers, and cops, my favorite find of those that share my name was a photo of an infant, with the caption “Our Little Ladybug.” While I find this somewhat humorous, and I have no problem with parents having daughters play with trucks and son’s with dolls, I think it might be in the kids best interest for someone to give me a slightly more dudish nickname.
Overall, I may never be the best Matthew French at any particular thing, I must still be faithful to doing the best with what I’ve best giving. Maybe that will end up on a website someday, oh wait, now it is (this blog was the 33rd result of over 10 million at the time this post was written, wow). Those Matthew French’s are some insightful people.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
This really hit home for me a couple weeks ago when while at work I over heard a conversation where people were making fun of Jesus. Now I realize that they were actually making fun of Christians and the silly things that they say about Jesus, but still they were demeaning the most important part of my life. If they had been making fun of my wife I have no doubt that I would have stood up for her. But instead I said nothing, partly because I was not privy to the entire conversation and had no idea the context so I wanted to avoid seeming reactionary, giving further ammunition to some people that had obviously been turned off to Jesus by others that had talked about him in the past.
For me, sharing Jesus isn’t about me being right. It’s not about defending his honor because I don’t think he’s up to. It’s about my deep desire to have others know him and have their lives transformed by him in the same way that he came into my life and turned it upside down by his love. I need to be more confident about this passion and not get hung up on turning others off, when in humility and love I just might be able to introduce others to this Jesus, the love of my life and the one that already knows and cares about them more than anyone they will ever meet in their lives.
Friday, February 02, 2007
First off, if you just like to dump a bunch of cream and sugar in your coffee don’t bother reading this post. Save the time and do something else, honest you probably really don’t like coffee you like sugary, creamy things and won’t get much out of this. I do have advice for you though if you’re in that boat, it doesn’t much matter where you get your coffee, you probably prefer a milder brew so just go where it’s cheapest. That may not be totally true, I’m doing some research one how coffee farmers are treated around the world and will post once I learn more about that.
So for my fellow coffee lovers here is my number one piece of advice: go out and get a French press. Seriously, you have to do this. There are relatively inexpensive ($20-50) and will make the best cup of brew that you’ve ever had. I have the top of the line jobber, which is stainless steal and insulated, which means that I can brew it and keep it warm for a while, but if I had to do it over again I’m not sure it’s the one I would get. The glass ones are actually much easier to use because they have lines to direct you how much grounds to put in and then how much water in relation to the grounds. The most important thing is to have your beans ground for a French press, which would be a very coarse grind. Also, be careful about slamming down the last sip of the cup, even with a coarse ground you often get a little sludge in the bottom of the cup. By the way, Starbuck's policy is that they will grind beans that you buy anywhere as long as they aren't flavored. The flavoring process leaves behind stuff in the grinder that would affect other beans natural flavor.
Why is the press such a good method? The oils that are present in coffee give each bean it’s characteristics after roasting. It doesn’t matter how good your electric coffee maker is, the paper filter will retain a lot of these oils. Of coarse there are metal filters, but your looking at big buck there. Also, anything that keeps your coffee hot with a heat source is actually killing your coffee’s real taste anyway. Also, keep your grounds at room temperature regardless of how you’re brewing. Refrigeration or freezing your beans will not prolong their life, it actually will wreck them quicker. This also has to do with the oils in coffee which get messed with big time when get them cold.
If you’re hard-core enough and have the resources to do your own espresso try some different roasts. I’m really loving shots pulled with Italian Roast right now. Depending on who you buy your beans from Italian Roast should actually be a little darker than Espresso Roast, but it has a slight sweetness to it that is different from the caramelly characteristic found with espresso. I have other customers that enjoy some other roasts too, so have fun with it.
If you’re really scared of espresso, but want to check it out, you should try a con panna. It’s an espresso shot with whip cream. I don’t do them a lot, but there are really yummy.
I know that I am gifted for pastoral ministry and I’m really excited about it, but I also know what a huge responsibility it is and I have a healthy fear of that. I was frustrated with how poorly I communicated to the district ordination committee about how I see my call to pastoral ministry in the United Methodist Church and my call to Gen X being connected. It’s really quite simple, I think the best way to provide spiritual leadership to Gen X’ers is by having a healthy church of people that love Jesus of all ages. There is a lot to be said about gathering multiple generations together in a local church that meets the deepest needs of God’s children and better equips them to honor God with lives of worship.
If I do get appointed to a church it will be this summer at the earliest. There is something kind of cool about having a time of preparation before I take this step, but there is also the practical side of things as well. And that practical side of things says that 30 hours a week at just a little over minimum wages doesn’t pay the bills. I’m in the process of trying to pick up some more hours in addition to the coffee thing.