the weblog of Alan Knox

A Cup o’ Joe or a Cup with Joe

Posted by on May 13, 2008 in fellowship, gathering | 42 comments

A Cup o’ Joe or a Cup with Joe

A few weeks ago, my friend Joe invited me for a cup of coffee. We decided to meet at a local Starbucks on Tuesday at 5:00, just after work. We happened to arrive at the same time, and coincidentally, we both ordered the same thing: a tall cafe mocha decaf. Joe surprised me by buying my coffee. We found an empty table in a quiet corner and spent the next hour or so talking about God and life. We each discussed what God was teaching us and how we were trying to obey him in our day-to-day lives. We talked about loving other people and caring for the least. As Joe told his stories, I was encouraged and challenged all at the same time. When Joe announced that he had to leave, I was disappointed but also understood the demands of life and family.

I enjoyed my time with Joe, and I was looking forward to spending more time with him. From what I could tell, we had experienced real fellowship, the beginning of community, the sharing of the Spirit. Also, since I am learning what it means to grow in maturity and disciple others, I thought it would be a good idea to share this experience with others.

The next week, I invited another friend to have a cup of coffee with me. Unfortunately, Tom was busy on Tuesday evening, so we had to meet on Wednesday. He works later than I do, so we met at 5:30, and since Tom doesn’t like Starbucks, we went to a local coffee shop. I was a little concerned about the change in plans, but I thought maybe it would work anyway. When I got to the coffee shop, I had to wait about 10 minutes for Tom to show up; apparently he was delayed at work. I ordered my tall cafe mocha decaf, and waited a moment for Tom to order. Instead, Tom waited until after I paid for my coffee. I was surprised that Tom didn’t buy my coffee, and I was getting a little anxious. Next, Tom ordered a black coffee – no mocha, no decaf. Even though there was an empty table in the corner, Tom picked a table in the center of the room.

As we sat and talked, I kept going over things in my mind: Wedneday instead of Tuesday; 5:30 instead of 5:00; local coffee shop instead of Starbucks; Tom was late, and he didn’t pay for my coffee; Tom didn’t order the same thing that I ordered; our table was right in the middle of the shop, while there was a perfectly good empty table in the corner. Things were not going well for our coffee meeting. In fact, I didn’t see how anything good could come out of this. Everything was going wrong, and nothing was going right!

Finally, after enduring several minutes of this train wreck, I interrupted Tom as he was babbling on about how his job was not going very well, and how he was afraid that he was going to be downsized, and how he and his wife were having trouble. I told him that I needed to go and that I was sorry that our meeting wasn’t very productive.

Then, Tom said something surprising, “I noticed that you seemed distracted. Is there something wrong?”

Can you believe that Tom asked me if there was something wrong!?!? I mean, everything was wrong! The day was wrong! The time was wrong! The location was wrong! The coffee was wrong! The table was wrong! I can’t believe he had the nerve to ask me if there was something wrong. I don’t even know if this could be called a proper meeting for coffee!

But, instead of pointing out his obvious flaws, I just shook my head and made a hasty exit. I decided then and there to never have coffee with Tom again. He just doesn’t know how to meet for coffee.


42 Comments

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  1. 5-13-2008

    :)

  2. 5-13-2008

    We decided to meet at a local Starbucks…

    You just had to rub it in, didn’t you? :-P

  3. 5-13-2008

    OK, now that I’ve read the actual post — wow! What a creative way to communicate a tendency we have as believers. Even a little convicting, to be honest.

    I’ll bet Tom doesn’t even believe in the sufficiency of Starbucks for all our coffee needs. I mean, obviously not, if he’s looking to other coffee shops for filling that need.

  4. 5-13-2008

    Steve -

    I’ll bet Tom doesn’t even believe in the sufficiency of Starbucks for all our coffee needs. I mean, obviously not, if he’s looking to other coffee shops for filling that need. … hahahahaha … ;)

    Great post, Alan!!!

  5. 5-13-2008

    Grace,

    I hope the “smiley” means that you agree with me and not with Tom. Because “whoever is not with me is against me”. Or, perhaps you’re one of those liberal coffee drinkers?

    Steve,

    Amen, Brother! Who needs local coffee shops when there are two Starbucks in town? In some ways, I’m concerned about there being two Starbucks… I’m concerned that some people may get confused.

    Heather,

    I’m assuming your “great post” means that you like cafe mocha decaf also?

    -Alan

  6. 5-14-2008

    Alan,

    I had a similar experience with some people who said they were Christians.

    They simply hadn’t grasped the fact that there was a prescribed, place,
    time, and method of meeting together.

    I don’t know how they expected me to have fellowship with them if they didn’t meet the right way as I was used to doing!

  7. 5-14-2008

    This is fantastic, Alan. I may have to borrow from this one. Can you picture the first time reader coming by and reading this? LOL.

  8. 5-14-2008

    Alan, one of those doesn’t really count, though, because it’s inside a Target. It’s not a “real” Starbucks. So I don’t think that serious seekers will really get confused.

    Of course, I realize some will take issue with me calling them “seekers” because they will say that no one really seeks Starbucks. Starbucks only draws the customers that it really wants to have come.

  9. 5-14-2008

    Friggin Tom,

    I wish he’d grow up a little and get back into Starbucks. I hope you’ll let the deacons know about this so they can go to his house and see what’s going on with him.

    Lew

  10. 5-14-2008

    Alan,

    I realize that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, so I hope no one took my comment seriously. I had intended to follow convention and end with a :).

    Never-the-less, I must ask you a question: Is Starbucks an earthly form of purgatory?

    I visited Princeton Theological College a few years ago and decided to follow the crowd to Starbucks.

    I thought they sold coffee. We pave our roads with the stuff that I tried to drink.

    Starbucks is almost on every street corner in our cities, sometimes directly opposite each other. I haven’t had the courage to try them again. :)

  11. 5-14-2008

    Aussie John,

    I don’t know much about the church. I’m talking about coffee here. :)

    By the way, I can’t believe you spoke evil of Starbucks in that way. I’m praying for you, brother.

    Bryan,

    I hope that a first time reader would be convicted of chasing after other beverages – even fake versions of the real thing – and start going to Starbucks at 5:00 on Tuesday evenings and sitting at a table in the back corner.

    Steve,

    I have not thought about that before, but you’re right. In our town, there’s one true Starbucks that is among other stores but not in another store. Meanwhile, there is a false Starbuck that has synchretized and is now in another store (Target).

    Lew,

    I’m not sure what you mean by “let the deacons know”. I thought about talking to Tom about his heresy, but I decided to tell the baristas instead. That’s what they’re paid for.

    -Alan

  12. 5-14-2008

    Me, one of those liberal coffee drinkers? Depends on what you mean by that. I have been known to have coffee at home and even invite others to my house for coffee.

    I am praying for John too concerning his blasphemy of Starbucks coffee.

    Some people just aren’t ready to receive real coffee and prefer the weak, watered down version. ;)

  13. 5-14-2008

    Grace,

    Now I see… you’re one those who drink “organic coffee”. I can’t believe that you would suggest we can drink coffee in homes! Do you know what that leads to? I mean, sure, you might start with Starbucks beans, but eventually people will start bringing their own blends, start adding flavors, and eventually, there won’t be any Starbucks in your cup!

    You need to place your coffee drinking in the hands of a trained barista.

    -Alan

  14. 5-14-2008

    Another “Best of Alan” post. Been there and done the very thing you write about. Convicting.

  15. 5-14-2008

    You need to place your coffee drinking in the hands of a trained barista.

    I’m sorry, but I’m with Grace on this one. I also have others over to my home for coffee. We have our own espresso machine, buy our own syrups, and make our own mochas and lattes. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    But, that’s also partly due to the fact that there isn’t a Starbucks anywhere closer than an hour or more drive from here. And that’s too far to drive every Tuesday for coffee.

    Besides, I found that I desire to have coffee — both alone and with others — more than just an hour or two a week.

    As for trained baristas, I respectfully disagree. Under the New Coffee Blend, we are all a kingdom of baristas and can be taught by the Indwelling Barista. There is no need to set up a human barista in between us and our Heavenly Barista.

  16. 5-14-2008

    Guy,

    You said, “Been there and done the very thing you write about.” Awesome! I can tell that there is strong coffeeship between us!

    Steve,

    Ah… since there is not a Starbucks in your area, then you must be on the mission field. I can understand that you need to serve coffee in your house… for now. But, hopefully, you’ll soon be able to start your own Starbucks franchise and hire a barista of your own so that there can be real coffee in your area.

    Yes, we are a kingdom of baristas and it is safe for us to stir in sugar or cream or even throw away our own cups. But, we still need a trained barista to make sure that we don’t stray into false blends.

    -Alan

  17. 5-14-2008

    Alan,

    Remove these people from your midst! They are all claiming to be coffee drinkers, yet, when are they ever at Starbucks? NO! They are at home, drinking coffee with their friends and families and building real relationships! This is unbelievable and frankly I can’t believe that you have let these comments continue.

    Disappointed,
    Lew

  18. 5-15-2008

    All I can say is hahahahahahahahaha … this post and these comments are great!

    ~Heather

    p.s. I don’t like cafe mocha decaf also … I don’t even like coffee, but I love Starbucks’ hot chocolate … what does that mean???

  19. 5-15-2008

    VERY troubling post for me…I’m not a coffee drinker either!!!! (gasp) Perhaps Heather and I need to find some other people to blog with.

  20. 5-15-2008

    Lew,

    Perhaps they’re simply lapsed Starbucks coffee drinkers and will eventually come back to the real coffee. We should also keep them on our customer rolls for evangelistic purposes.

    Heather and Brandon,

    When the Lord returns, he will separate the coffee drinkers from the non-coffee drinkers.

    -Alan

  21. 5-15-2008

    When the Lord returns, he will separate the coffee drinkers from the non-coffee drinkers.

    OK, if no one else is going to make the very obvious pun, I’ll do it. Prepare to groan…

    He’ll say, “Depart from me. I never brew you.”

  22. 5-15-2008

    And of course NONE of you really has it right since the New Apostolic Baristas have shown us the real way to set up a coffee shop and have the whole coffee drinking meetings.

  23. 5-15-2008

    I have a confession… my anger towards all of you non-Coffee drinkers was really aimed at myself.

    I ask you all to forgive. I don’t drink coffee either. In fact, I hate the taste of coffee!

    I am damned, I know it.

    Lew

  24. 5-15-2008

    Lew, at least now we know which “list” you belong on ;)

  25. 5-15-2008

    Steve,

    Amen, brother, amen! Like Paul wrote, “Let him who roasts, roast in the Lord!”

    Barb,

    I don’t see why anyone would want to change the way things were done back in the times of the early Starbucks. And, that’s exactly the way MY Starbucks does things!

    Lew,

    Actually, I’m releaved. I knew that you didn’t act like a cofee drinker. So, if you claimed to be a coffee drinker, then I could not hang out with you. But, Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthian Starbucks that we can hang out with those who are non-coffee drinkers. However, he also says that we are not to fellowship with those who claim to be coffee drinkers, but do not act like coffee drinkers.

    -Alan

  26. 5-15-2008

    And the non-coffee drinkers shall be saved…”For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

    You have to admit, many are those who indulge in the fleshly worship of the coffee bean…repent and be saved!

  27. 5-15-2008

    And then those ‘emergent’ types take a righteous thing and here is what you get:
    http://www.startribune.com/nation/18969709.html?location_refer=Homepage

  28. 5-15-2008

    I am somewhat concerned by the fact that you were drinking decaf. Isn’t that tantamount to “bait-and-switch” evangelism?

    I mean it has the appearance of coffee, but when it really comes down to it…

    Maybe this is what Jude meant by “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”

  29. 5-15-2008

    Gordon, great addition!!! Glad to see you show up with your typical humor.

    I missed the “decaf” part, but I think you are absolutely right about the “form of [coffee], but denying its power” idea.

  30. 5-15-2008

    Brandon,

    While your words sound good, we can’t listen to you. You’ve already admitted to being a non-coffee drinker. There is hope for you though… I know there are several Starbucks in your area.

    Barb,

    Yes, that’s simply blasphemous! I can’t believe these “emergent” types have a problem with a sacred symbol.

    Gordon and Steve,

    I appreciate your concern, and I agree that it may appear that decaf is not real coffee. But, notice that decaf worked in my meeting with Joe. So, obviously God blesses the use of decaf.

    -Alan

  31. 5-15-2008

    Ummm, just because God chooses to use something doesn’t mean it’s his best and most desirable plan for us ;)

  32. 5-15-2008

    Actually, while you all are arguing about how many bells are on the end of your garments, we who actually are doing the work of the gospel do not argue how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. We gratefully drink the coffee our Lord provides with thanksgiving, even though it comes from cat droppings. Giving all for the sake of the gospel.

    Our choice in our fields of ministry is: Kopi Luwak (pronounced [ˈkopi ˈluwak]) or Civet coffee is coffee made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). The civets eat the berries, but the beans inside pass through their system undigested. This process takes place on the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago, and in the Philippines (where the product is called Kape Alamid).

  33. 5-15-2008

    I once visited one of those “charismatic” coffee shops. After they had their fill of coffee they all started to get the shakes. Pfff!…yah…riiight.

  34. 5-16-2008

    Steve,

    I didn’t want to point this out… because I’m trying not to speak evil of anyone… but besides God using decaf in my meeting with Joe, look what happened (in my original post) when Tom ordered regular coffee! *shudder*

    Anonymous,

    I’ve heard about missional coffee blends. Hopefully, Starbucks will open a store in your area soon so the natives will taste real coffee.

    Jeff,

    Shakes? Right… it wasn’t decaf. Just because God used shaking when he opened the original coffee shop, it doesn’t mean he still uses shaking today. We don’t need shaking today, because we have a complete Starbucks menu.

    -Alan

  35. 5-16-2008

    For what it worth Alan, I actually went to a Starbucks yesterday to meet with a friend. But I drank hot chocolate and a bottled water. Pray for me…

  36. 5-16-2008

    “Let him who roasts, roast in the Lord!”

    Does anyone else hear Scooby Doo’s voice saying this?

    Am I the only one that hears voices?

    (I am a regular coffee drinker though been drinking at home lately cause my Starbucks threw us out.)

  37. 5-16-2008

    Brandon,

    As long as you keep going to Starbucks, there is hope for you. One day, you too may become a coffee drinker.

    Barb,

    I’m sorry to hear that you are under Starbucks discipline. You need to repent and ask them to take you back.

    -Alan

  38. 9-22-2011

    Great post brother Alan! Long life to Starbucks! ;)

  39. 9-22-2011

    I had a similar experience once. I went to a place that LOOKED like a Starbucks and SMELLED like a Starbucks, even SOUNDED like a Starbucks, but the coffee had no flavor. Beware False Starbucks! Do not be led astray!

  40. 11-2-2011

    Thank God for Commentary. I didn’t understand this post at all. Since I roast grind and brew my own coffee, I’m sort of a do it yourselfer. And was encouraged to learn the trade by a trip to Starbucks LAX and a second trip five years later Starbucks Little Rock. Once you’ve had the good stuff, close doesn’t cut it. Sometimes the hype is like creamer, flavorings, sugar etc. Eventually we must go to the source and keep it simple.

  41. 5-23-2012

    I hate coffee and Starbucks, but love this blog!!! I am going to share it with my fellow coffee drinkers who would not normally read this blog as a way to hopefully introduce them to it! Thanks for re posting this Alan!

    When hubby and I do have to go to Starbucks ( he doesn’t like coffee either) people sure look at us strangely when we say we don’t like coffee and order water or juice! LOL!

  42. 5-30-2012

    Since I’m a coffee lover, I just love all these witty comments! Here’s some scriptural proof to help back up this blogpost: How does Moses do his Java? Hebrews it.

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  1. The Assembling of the Church | A Cup o’ Joe or a Cup with Joe - [...] under two years ago, I wrote a post called “A Cup o’ Joe or a Cup with Joe.” This …