FJWL (Custom)

Last week I was confronted with an unusual dilemma. The manager at the Starbucks in Lititz approached me as I had just finished eating my Sausage McMuffin with Egg (no cheese) sandwich and told me that I was not allowed to bring other brand names into the store. She offered to take care of my trash, which I politely declined, as I was already too embarrassed for breaking the store rules. I immediately walked over to the trash and got rid of my McDonald’s bag. Then, two other employees walked over to me and apologized for what they had just witnessed. They know how much money I have spent in their store!

Well, I am cheap; consequently my biggest shrink is my pen, so I immediately posted, in jest, the following on Facebook: I need your help! Today I was told by the Starbucks store manager in Lititz that I am not allowed to bring in another brand name into the store (“I don’t mean to be rude, but it promotes another brand. You know we do have breakfast sandwiches here”). Explanation: I love Starbucks coffee and have spent hundreds of dollars in this store, but I don’t like their breakfast sandwiches, so I go to McDonald’s, order my sausage Mcmuffin with egg sandwich with no cheese, come to Starbucks, order my coffee, sit down and do my sermon prep work. Well, now I have a huge dilemma: 1. Order the sandwich from Starbucks and eat it there. 2. Order the coffee from McDonald’s and eat it there. 3. Do exactly what I am doing now, except put the McDonald’s sandwich in a generic (non-brand name) bag. 4. Do exactly what I am doing now, except pick a parking lot and eat in my car. 5. Stop coming to Starbucks altogether. Which one should I do? Vote and I will abide by the opinion of the majority, (for one month (:)). I don’t like Starbucks breakfast sandwiches, I don’t like McDonald’s coffee, and I don’t like eating in my car. I am stuck. “Oh what a wretched man that I am. Who will rescue me from this body of doubt?”

To my utter surprise, people took me seriously and I got the greatest amount of responses to anything I have ever posted on Facebook. As my son said, my Facebook went “mini-viral.”  People were too eager to offer suggestions, words of caution, biblical, motherly, political or simply mundane advice. The suggestions spanned the ethical divide, from sea to brewing sea. I was astounded to find people so passionate about such trivial matter, but I only had myself to blame for giving the impression that this was really a big deal to me. Well, it was a big issue to many people out there.

Which makes me think: what if we were as passionate about the things that really matter as we are about the small stuff of life? What would happen if suddenly followers of Christ decided they would care first and foremost about the things that are near and dear to the heart of God?

Often, I find myself complaining about trifle matters – the gray hairs on my head, the tire that keeps losing pressure, the glasses that fog up when I step outside my car, the smell of burned wood coming from the neighbors’ backyard, etc., etc. But what are the issues God really wants me to care about?

This week we start a study in the book of Philippians. I’m calling it “From Jail With Love” because in spite of the fact that Paul was in a Roman jail awaiting the sentence from his first trial, he was full of joy and hope and was able to write his most personal and affectionate letter ever.

Paul never allowed his circumstances to dictate his constitution. The somber mood of jail life and the uncertainty of his future did not stop him from living a life of purpose.  Somehow Paul learned the secret to living above the line of prison. His physical surroundings remained the same but Paul lived above it and while affected by it, he never allowed it to write the script of his life. Prison for him was only a tool to achieve greater things.

The following summarizes his approach which should also be our approach to living on a higher plane: “And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.” (Philippians 1:12-14).

I hope that as we go through this series we will also learn how to live above the line of prison and discover the real joy that God has always intended for all of us to have. See you on Sunday!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade