Why I Couldn’t Be Happier About Starbucks Red Cup This Year

starbucks red cup
Many Christians are in an uproar about Starbucks red cups this year. Why? You may wonder? It’s because these notoriously and long awaited “red” cups, which signify the Christmas season, came out blank this year. Just a plain red cup. (Unless one degree of ombre counts as a design.)

In years past, these cups have had a variety of designs such as “minimalist snowflakes and hand-drawn reindeer, to winking snowmen and decorative ornaments.” (CNBC.com) But this year: nothing.

Some are calling it a “war on Christmas.” Some are saying this is Starbucks attempt at politcal correctness. Some are boycotting. One former radio evangelist, Joshua Feuerstein said, “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.” Therefore, he is urging people to ask the baristas to write “Merry Christmas” on their cups instead of their names. (CNBC.com)

Well, maybe Starbucks hates Jesus. And maybe not. But according to Starbucks vice president of Design & Content, Jeffrey Fields, here’s why they did it:

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs, this year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

I love this. I love this because Starbucks doesn’t even know what they just did. The cups are blank. A blank canvas for you. And me. Our own stories are welcome this year.

So, what will yours say?

When the apostle Paul went to Athens, he was deeply distressed because the city was filled with idols. His heart was grieved for them, because they didn’t know God. He even found one altar dedicated “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Talk about discouraging. He said to them, “For as I walked around and carefully observed your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship, and this I am going to proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:23)

Paul saw the altar to the “unknown god” not as an offense, but as an opportunity. To proclaim. The gospel.

And it’s no different for us today.

The Starbucks blank red cup, is more or less, a tribute: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Or to no God. Or to whatever you want to believe. They don’t really know. You get to choose.

They don’t know what Christmas is about. They don’t know what Christ is about.

But Christ is about loving and redeeming broken people.

He’s not about winking snowmen, or presents, or ornaments, or Santa.

If you are reading this, you are probably somewhat in touch with the culture. If your conviction is to boycott Starbucks, then do that. But if your conviction is to engage with your culture, to share the gospel, then do that. And give a voice to your blank red cup.

Not by asking your barista to write “Merry Christmas,” on it. (You will most likely just annoy them. Have you ever worked in food-service?) But write something yourself. And share it. On Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Spread your message loud and clear.

And as for those baristas, please be nice to them. Some of them might need to hear the gospel. And that’s a whole lot messier than shouting “Merry Christmas!” in a crowded Starbucks. And this might mean actually sitting down with one of those baristas and having a real conversation. (It will take longer than writing a hashtag. And it’s a lot more risky.)

You might get some blank stares. After all, even when the apostle Paul started sharing the gospel in Athens the philosphers said, “What is this babbler trying to say?” (Acts 17:18) The gospel can be awkward. But it is the power of God, and it’s what saves us. And what better time than Christmas?

Maybe your whole message can’t fit on your cup. But it’s a place to start. Whether it’s on social media, or with a friend in person.

It’s simply sitting down and looking a fellow sinner in the eyes, and allowing him or her to look back into yours. It’s about explaining that we’re all sinners, we’re all broken, and we’re all desperate. For Jesus. And that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about a God who broke into our world to rescue us–from ourselves. From our sin. And from His wrath.

Jesus came to save desperate people. Like me. Like you. And Christmas is about sinners crying out together for rescue. Because God knows, we need it. We need Him.

You can shake your fist at Starbucks. Or you can thank them. For a golden opportunity. For a voice.

So this is your chance, to tell Starbucks, to tell your friends, to tell the world what you want your cup to say. You design the cup this year. Writers, artists, people of God–make a mark. On your cup.

We have a dying world. Dying in sin and who will spend eternity in a Christ-less hell. Time to share the gospel. Time to share your story. Time to share the Light of the whole world.

Time to redeem the red cups.

The world is waiting. Not for a silent night. Not for a boycott.

But for the sons and daughters of God, to lift up their voice. To the unknown God. To tell them who He is.

What if we filled the Facebook newsfeeds with these red cups? With our stories? With our testimonies? With our artwork? What if we poured out our praise on these red cups?

If we don’t lift up our voice, the rocks will cry out in our place.

So what will yours say?

Write it, draw it, create it. Take a picture and post it to your own social media platform. Add #StarbucksforJesus or #Redcupsredeemed

Here’s mine.

starbucks red cup

Your turn.

Love,

Rebekah

Red Cups Redeemed, Thank You Starbucks

starbucks red cup

Many Christians are in an uproar about Starbucks red cups this year. Why? You may wonder? It’s because these notoriously and long awaited “red” cups, which signify the Christmas season, came out blank this year. Just a plain red cup. (Unless one degree of ombre counts as a design.)

In years past, these cups have had a variety of designs such as “minimalist snowflakes and hand-drawn reindeer, to winking snowmen and decorative ornaments.” (CNBC.com) But this year: nothing.

Some are calling it a “war on Christmas.” Some are saying this is Starbucks attempt at politcal correctness. Some are boycotting. One former radio evangelist, Joshua Feuerstein said, “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.” Therefore, he is urging people to ask the baristas to write “Merry Christmas” on their cups instead of their names. (CNBC.com)

Well, maybe Starbucks hates Jesus. And maybe not. But according to Starbucks vice president of Design & Content, Jeffrey Fields, here’s why they did it:

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs, this year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

I love this. I love this because Starbucks doesn’t even know what they just did. The cups are blank. A blank canvas for you. And me. Our own stories are welcome this year. 

So, what will yours say?

When the apostle Paul went to Athens, he was deeply distressed because the city was filled with idols. His heart was grieved for them, because they didn’t know God. He even found one altar dedicated “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Talk about discouraging. He said to them, “For as I walked around and carefully observed your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship, and this I am going to proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:23)

Paul saw the altar to the “unknown god” not as an offense, but as an opportunity. To proclaim. The gospel.

And it’s no different for us today.

The Starbucks blank red cup, is more or less, a tribute: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Or to no God. Or to whatever you want to believe. They don’t really know. You get to choose.

They don’t know what Christmas is about. They don’t know what Christ is about.

But Christ is about loving and redeeming broken people. 

He’s not about winking snowmen, or presents, or ornaments, or Santa.

If you are reading this, you are probably somewhat in touch with the culture. If your conviction is to boycott Starbucks, then do that. But if your conviction is to engage with your culture, to share the gospel, then do that. And give a voice to your blank red cup.

Not by asking your barista to write “Merry Christmas,” on it. (You will most likely just annoy them. Have you ever worked in food-service?) But write something yourself. And share it. On Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Spread your message loud and clear.

And as for those baristas, please be nice to them. Some of them might need to hear the gospel. And that’s a whole lot messier than shouting “Merry Christmas!” in a crowded Starbucks. And this might mean actually sitting down with one of those baristas and having a real conversation. (It will take longer than writing a hashtag. And it’s a lot more risky.)

You might get some blank stares. After all, even when the apostle Paul started sharing the gospel in Athens the philosphers said, “What is this babbler trying to say?” (Acts 17:18) The gospel can be awkward. But it is the power of God, and it’s what saves us. And what better time than Christmas?

Maybe your whole message can’t fit on your cup. But it’s a place to start. Whether it’s on social media, or with a friend in person.

It’s simply sitting down and looking a fellow sinner in the eyes, and allowing him or her to look back into yours. It’s about explaining that we’re all sinners, we’re all broken, and we’re all desperate. For Jesus. And that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about a God who broke into our world to rescue us–from ourselves. From our sin. And from His wrath.

Jesus came to save desperate people. Like me. Like you. And Christmas is about sinners crying out together for rescue. Because God knows, we need it. We need Him.

You can shake your fist at Starbucks. Or you can thank them. For a golden opportunity. For a voice.

So this is your chance, to tell Starbucks, to tell your friends, to tell the world what you want your cup to say. You design the cup this year. Writers, artists, people of God–make a mark. On your cup.

We have a dying world. Dying in sin and who will spend eternity in a Christ-less hell. Time to share the gospel. Time to share your story. Time to share the Light of the whole world.

Time to redeem the red cups.

The world is waiting. Not for a silent night. Not for a boycott.

But for the sons and daughters of God, to lift up their voice. To the unknown God. To tell them who He is.

What if we filled the Facebook newsfeeds with these red cups? With our stories? With our testimonies? With our artwork? What if we poured out our praise on these red cups?

If we don’t lift up our voice, the rocks will cry out in our place.

So what will yours say?

Write it, draw it, create it. Take a picture and post it to your own social media platform. Add #StarbucksforJesus or #Redcupsredeemed

Here’s mine.

starbucks red cup

Your turn.

Love,

Rebekah

#StarbucksforJesus #redcupsredeemed

St. Patrick’s Day is for Sinners

unnamed

Last Sunday, we drove through a downtown city that was literally swarming with green. Though it was still several days before St. Patrick’s Day, crowds of people were decked out in bright green wigs, boas, leggings (yes, they come in green), and even tutus (also bright green.) It looked like Party City exploded, as many donned green beads, leprechaun hats, and blinking clover “antlers.” People were shouting, cussing, dancing, and kissing. We could barely drive down the road, as people aimlessly crossed the streets,  (and we came pretty close to taking a few of them out.) Perhaps one too many pints?

We were on our way to Sesame Street Live.  My husband was driving and my daughter was in the backseat and even though we were pretty excited to let her meet Elmo, and Big Bird, and Cookie Monster, I began to get more and more uncomfortable.

As we inched through the traffic, one girl with long blonde hair kept running up to cars and pressing herself through the open window, almost crawling inside of the vehicle. I made sure our doors were locked, and windows were rolled up tight. I for sure didn’t want her crawling in with us. Horns and breaks slammed and the “green people” flipped off cars, and screamed profanities.

I kept glancing in the backseat at Selah, whose eyes were wider than saucers. I wanted to make sure no one was flashing her, or peering in at her through the window and scaring her. But we were stuck. Wedged tightly within traffic held up by crowds. And I couldn’t speed us up at all. I couldn’t cover her eyes. Or her ears.

And I simply wanted to protect her, to shield her from…from this. From being stuck in the midst of these people.

But I can’t. Even if I don’t like it…this is our world. The drunken people screaming with too much alchohol, and way too much green.

These are the people Jesus came for. The people Jesus loved.

And this is what St. Patrick was all about. Reaching sinners. Reaching the lost. Reaching people with mistakes. Reaching people with nothing to look forward to except keg’s and eggs and to drink three days out of their remembrance. Because it hurts to much feel. And they just want to feel something, other than their pain, other than their memories, other than their shame. They just want to feel good.

Don’t we all?

That’s why Jesus came. To save us out of our sin. To save us out of our shame. To give us a way out. To take these rebel crowds, and make them into sons and daughters. To take these prostitutes, and call them His bride. To take the sick, the broken, the weak…and give them new life. I think Jesus would have loved to walk these streets. Because He was a friend of “tax collectors, and sinners.”

Sinners like you. Sinners like me. Sinners lost in crowds of green.

St. Patrick’s Day is for sinners. St. Patrick was for sinners. And he learned to love them in a way that would actually mean something to them. Just like Jesus, who said “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).  Patrick was one of these “sinners”, who was captured by Irish raiders when he was 16. They took him to Ireland, where he was held a captive until he escaped in his early twenties. But during his captivity, God freed him. Not just of the chains of steel, but the chains of sin and shame and fear. And twenty years later, when most people are soaking up a good retirement, he returned to Ireland for one purpose only: to save sinners. [To read the full, incredible history of this holiday check out this article on Desiring God called Remember St. Patrick’s Day.]

I want to learn to love with the kind of love St. Patrick had. The love that doesn’t look down on people. Even people who are known as complete pagans, sinners, and barbarians–like the people Patrick reached. But to love without bounds. To love in a way that lowers myself, and raises others up. That lowers myself, and raises God up. I want to teach my daughter to love like this. 

I’m starting to wonder if love isn’t really even love until it hurts, or get’s a little uncomfortable. Patrick wasn’t afraid of that though. You know why he went back to Ireland? He had a dream. In the dream he heard an Irish accent plead, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.” 

And he did. He walked among sinners. He walked among the lost. And when he looked at them, he loved them. He got involved in their rescue.

Whether you’re Irish, or not–this holiday is for you. For us. For me. 

This holiday is about sinners…who needed a rescue…and because one man obeyed God’s voice…they were rescued. One man paid attention to his dreams. One man followed the Holy Spirit to place full of wild, barbaric people, and by His power, He loved them, and showed them salvation. In Jesus. 

That’s better than luck. That’s better than being drunk. That’s the power for us who believe. 

Celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Because it’s about saints who lay down their lives for sinners. And it’s about sinners…who get set free. And it’s about Christ, who rescues us all. 

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

The girl walking down the street wearing green devil horns…she needs to know–what this holiday is about. She needs to know Christ. And I pray as we listen, and as we learn to embrace the culture God has set us in, as we follow the Holy Spirit even into the wild, barbaric, pagan places, that one day she will know that this is not about green devil horns, but the cross of Jesus Christ. She will know it’s not about luck, it’s about salvation, it’s about freedom. She will know it’s not about getting drunk on green beer, but being satisfied by rivers of living of water. So she can learn for the first time, to drink freely. 

Perhaps our culture is in need of more people like St. Patrick. Perhaps our culture is full of people who need hope. Who secretly are saying to those who are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and gospel of Christ,

“Come, walk among us.”

 

Does Missions Separate Families?

 

Selah meeting her cousins for the first time.

 

Tomorrow, my brother-in-law and his family will get on a plane, and fly to Africa. I won’t see them again for three years, except by some emailed photos, or maybe a choppy Skype connection.

I joke that I am going to sabotage their trip to the airport. And part of me really wants to. Because deep down, I really don’t want them to go. I have enjoyed having them and their three sweet girls around the last six months. They were the first to teach her how to have a proper tea party, and make elephant noises, and sing “Let it Go” at the top of their lungs. As they ran barefoot through the grass in the summer, she chased them. As they danced wildly in the living room in the winter, she imitated them. She adores them, as if they were her own big sisters. They take her by the hand, they whisper in her ears, they burst into laughter at her expressions, and pull her in for a second hug. And now, they are going away.

Does missions separate families?

I think the impulse answer is: yes.

They left for Africa three and a half years ago. And in that time, they missed births of new nieces and a nephew. The death of a grandparent. They missed all the Thanksgivings and Christmases and game nights. They missed heartaches and victories. They missed life here, for three years.

And not for an easy life. But for oven-like heat, and dirt, and difficulty. And constant sweating. And risk. Risks of violence and persecution. Risks of disease, and illness. Risks of terrorist groups, and wild animals. Risks of kidnappers, and poor health care when it really matters.

I see these three fearless little girls, whose mom is pregnant with their first little brother, and tremble that he will be born there.

The question inevitably crops up: Why are they doing this?

One night after dinner at our house, as we pulled apart the last remains of the garlic bread, I asked my brother-in-law, “So, how did you…get over all of the fear?” I think he made a few cracks about my fear of Ebola. And then he just looked at me, and said with such simplicity, “I am afraid of some of those of things. I’m actually really afraid of flying. But I’m more afraid of not obeying God.”

But I’m more afraid of not obeying God.

And that’s the difference. I see the risk, the danger, the loss. He sees the reward. The gain. The joy.

He and his wife see hell as a reality. And love as a command. And the gospel as real. And they are doing it. They are living it. They really love Jesus. They really believe He’s coming back. And they really love bringing others into His family.

While we feel like we are losing a brother and a sister, they are actually rescuing lost brothers and sisters and bringing them into the Kingdom of God.

While we will miss their daughters and son, they will be rescuing daughters and sons and bringing them into the family of God.

They leave us in order to rescue others, to bring more into the family, the family of God. The family that will live on forever. And the gates of hell will not prevail against this mission. Because it’s the one Jesus called us to.

Does missions separate families?
Yes. For a time.

But it also expands them. By inviting the lost into a family. Those who had no family, no hope, who were on the outside and separated from God. (See Ephesians 2.)

There may be a few empty seats at our next Thanksgiving dinner. But by those seats being empty, it will mean that other place settings are being made ready for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Because lost brothers and sisters who live across the ocean, whose skin is darker than ours, whose language is different than ours, will be invited into God’s family, and will be called for the first time sons and daughters, and will be given a place at His table forever.

One day, we will come together, all of us, those who were far off, and those who were brought near, as one family, with exploding joy.  And there in the presence of Christ, we will see that missions never separated our family at all.

It only ever made it grow.