Seeds: From Farm to Cup

Coffee roasting was just a hobby for brothers Jeff and Brett Huey. With a stovetop popcorn roaster, they roasted a few pounds of coffee from time to time with several friends. Selling a bag here and there, popularity grew and a demand for the coffee increased among friends and their church community.

“It was a hobby because we loved coffee and we always had dreams and desires to have a restaurant or coffee shop to connect people,” Jeff said.

They upgraded to a larger in-home roaster, spread the roasting duties among those interested, and spent several months roasting from a friend’s garage closet. Labels led to branding and branding led to the name Seeds Coffee Co.

“Well the name is kind of two fold,” Jeff explained. “The actual bean is a seed. That’s what we’re focused around is the coffee seed and since we’re pastors, it’s a seed of the gospel or seed of faith.”

In October of 2011, Jeff and Brett sat down with close friends and planned the future of roasting coffee. The first order of business was to purchase a commercial coffee roaster, so they gathered $16,000 in one night to make the purchase and to have startup funds.

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Credit: Seeds Coffee Co.

April of 2012 rolled around and the commercial roaster was installed in the break room of an office space supplied for free by a friend. Seeds Coffee Co. officially became a coffee roaster in Birmingham, Ala.

Now with a café next door to their roasting facility, they’re able to put their product directly in the cup for the community to enjoy. Their vision of being in the community and serving people of all ages and all backgrounds is now a reality. They wanted a location for community gathering, and now they have it.

The focus wasn’t just coffee. The group was fixated on coffee growing countries, areas they wanted to reach with the Gospel. They wanted to pay farmers an honest wage and work to develop direct trade. Self-prosperity wasn’t the agenda, both Huey brothers reiterated.

Much Time and No Pay:

Jeff and Brett, along with the other entrepreneurs, decided against paychecks from the new startup. Instead, they rationed their time to work with the intention of giving everything to grow the business and ministry it was becoming. Jeff and the others had other jobs and sources of income, but Brett dedicated his days to working for Seeds for no pay.

“I think we saw the risk. I probably didn’t see as much as the others money wise. One of my main roles was to just give my time,” Brett said.

Not to mention Brett was a newly wed and entered his marriage with the plan of working for free while his wife carried the couple financially. “I always thought growing up that I wouldn’t let my wife make more than me, and this was when I wasn’t a Christian,” Brett explained with a laugh. “I’ve never felt like a failure for not being able to support.”

No one was paid at first. The only staff members paid today are two girls who work in the café and receive a part-time salary for their efforts. Intentions are for more jobs and salaries paid, but the business remains in the early stages of growth.

“I’m still not paid and that’s fine,” Brett said. “It hasn’t been an issue and it’s been well worth the time. If I’m going to be selfish then yes, I’m going to worry about myself.”

Brett mentioned how in just two months the business is nearly out of debt, an unheard of reality for most startup businesses.

From the Farm to the Cup:

“We started thinking this could be something really cool for ministry,” Jeff said. “What we see is that coffee has opened this door to so many things.”

The entrepreneurial team has traveled the four corners of the globe in search of building honest relationships with coffee farmers in hopes of developing direct trade and substantial ministry. Traveling to Guatemala, India and Sumatra, the Seeds team has seen the coffee production,  spoken with the farmers themselves, settled on a living wage for the people, and partnered with Christians on the ground to bring ministry to life.

“Every time we go, we hope to improve on making ground work there. A lot of vision is going into it,” Brett explained.

From the parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16 grew the vision for the Seeds staff. This passage is commonly known for the teaching of only serving one master—either God or money. They focused on these passages:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” Luke 16:10-11

To the team, it’s not difficult. God has trusted them with much and they want to be honest with what they’ve been given. This mentality is the life-blood of everything they do. They want to be honest with God and honest with people.

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Credit: Seeds Coffee Co.

The staff just purchased their first direct trade coffee from Sumatra. They work with an importer in Atlanta that is connected with the farmers they know in Guatemala so they can purchase the beans at a fair price for all.

Until Seeds reaches a certain level of sales and roasting capacity, they cannot purchase direct trade because the requirements are too high. However, the importer in Atlanta is as close as they can get to direct trade while retaining honesty and fairness.

Brett isn’t worried about the business going under or suffering fallout. He simply said, “if it fails, then it fails, we don’t worry.” It’s all an understanding of how God has provided and the staff is being faithful to their calling.

“We’re not business people, we’re not café owners, we’re not even really trained in coffee,” Jeff said. “We just love it and it’s presented itself before us as something we can use.”

Podcast – Hobby Lobby/Dan Cathy Discussion

So we’re a bit opinionated, but we’re not disrespectful. Hear a recap of the latest news from the Hobby Lobby lawsuit and why a tweet from Dan Cathy, president of Chic-Fil-A, is creating so much buzz. We discuss both at length and the issues behind both stories. We give you the facts and then we give you our opinion. Learn, be challenged and develop your own opinion. Head over to the forum to discuss more at length about these issues. We most definitely welcome your opinion.

 

Music: Michael Flayhart “Anthem Pt. 2″

Obamacare Loses Against Hobby Lobby, For Now

The Denver AP reports that Hobby Lobby will not have to pay millions in fines, at this time, for not providing birth control coverage to employees. The case will continue to battle in lower courts, but the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Hobby Lobby could continue with their case without paying fines that were scheduled to issue on July 1.

Hobby Lobby originally sued on grounds of religious violation, as the founder and CEO David Green and his family do not agree with a birth control mandate issued by the federal government.

The judge had these words to say, “Sincerely religious persons could find a connection between the exercise of religion and the pursuit of profit… Would an incorporated kosher butcher really have no claim to challenge a regulation mandating non-kosher butchering practices?”

The U.S. Department of Justice has argued that opposing birth control coverage is a way for Hobby Lobby to impose religious beliefs on its employees.

For now, the case will return to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, which originally ruled against the company’s religious exemption request.

We’ll discuss more on this story on an upcoming podcast. Stay tuned.

God Calls Us To Obedience in Everything

When we’re honest with customers and clients about our faith, well, we might turn some people away, but we’ll also see success. I’ve learned, the more honest I am about my faith in my work, the more respect I receive. Whether the person I’m working with agrees with me or not, they typically hold a high regard of respect for me.

One reason is because I try to be true to what I profess. Don’t profess Christ if you’re not going to act like him. If you profess Christ and act as he commands us to act, you’ll notice a development of respect from your customers and clients. While they might disagree with your beliefs, they can agree with your honesty, fairness, work ethic and kind-heartedness.

When we simply obey God in the way He asks us to live and be true in nature and character, he rewards us. I don’t doubt this. I’ve experienced it in my own life and in my own work.

Recently, I read a story in 1 Samuel about King Saul. The story portrayed a call to obedience over what we may believe is right. King Saul disobeyed God’s command by doing something else he believed was right. He didn’t completely destroy a city as God asked. Instead, he collected some of plunder and offered it as a sacrifice to God, something he believed to be good. But God removed his Spirit from Saul for a lack of obedience.

I highlight this story to remind you just how important obedience is in our lives. We’re called to obey God because that’s honor and that’s dedication to our heavenly father. When we begin to define what’s right and wrong, we’ll fail.

As you interact with customers, clients and coworkers, remember to be honest and obedient in all that you do. Obey what God has taught us through scripture and be honest in all of your work. God demands obedience over what we believe is correct. Obey God and He will reward you. People won’t see you for your good deeds, but your father in heaven.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23

Q&A with Personal Trainer, Pastor, Entrepreneur, Author – Jake Merrick

Jake Merrick has a packed, full life, as he’s started a fitness gym, nutritional supplement line, is a bivocational pastor and author. You could say Jake is an entrepreneur at heart. He starts what he believes in and sees no separation of church and career. It’s all one. One life surrendered to God’s glory and use.

I sat down with Jake to discuss his work, his thoughts on being bivocational and honoring God in his endeavors, and how he handles some tough situations within his career. Here’s our Q&A session:

Q: What all are you currently doing and involved in?

A: Well we own a fitness studio here in Oklahoma City (Balance Fitness Studio), and we bought it a little bit over a year ago. It’s been going really good and I’ve been in personal training for over seven years and then God just really opened this door to start this place and it’s centrally located, so we’re still learning about how to grow it and market it, but it’s headed in the right direction. I have this and help pastor at a church up the road. And I have a book coming out this summer (“Bodies of Christ”) that deals with fitness, especially within the church.

Then we have nutrional supplement company that we’re putting together and we have a partner down in Florida who has a manufacturing plant, so we’ve been working with him for a couple of years. Hopefully we can launch that about the same time as the book comes out.

Q: I guess you’re an entrepreneur at heart?

A: Yeah, exactly. Always have our hands in several things, which I love it. It definitely keeps us busy and moving, but we don’t just want to be busy, we want to do the things God has opened for us and I feel like all of the things we’re doing now are. It’s just about balancing them and it’s really neat because they all work together and it’s not like they are all separate entities.

Q: Do you have a business background or just interested in these things and learned how to do them?

A: My background is a major in Biblical studies and psychology, and then I went to seminary with the pursuit of full-time ministry. Over the years God has just morphed what full-time ministry is and it doesn’t have to be in the pulpit all of the time. I went into personal training because I was going into church planting and wanted to be bivocational to help supplement while we’re planting a church. Then God just really started opening doors with the training and He just taught me that that is ministry—helping people, working one-on-one with them.

Seven years later we have this business and we’re still learning about the business end of it, but one of the things God has shown me is that it’s about serving people, and when we do that, He is going to bless it. It’s been an interesting journey.

Q: How would you encourage bivocational living and letting your career be your ministry?

A: That’s one of the biggest problems we have, I believe, in the church, is an artificial divide between our church life and our real life. It’s all just one life live to God’s glory. If we glorify Him in everything we do, then our whole life becomes ministry and He’s going to gift you with certain talents, whatever that is. For me, I have a passion and calling to teach and to preach, and that’s something I’ve had training in, but it’s something that comes naturally for me—it’s a passion of mine.

I would encourage people to find their gifts and those are going to be used within the four walls of the church and outside of the church. I have a friend who just loves to serve people and he looks for ways to come alongside people with a vision and help them out. So he doesn’t really carry a vision or try to be the lead man, he just wants to be there to support. And that’s a huge thing!

I would just see your life as one life, surrendered to God, and He has gifted you with certain things to bless the body and bless the world. That’s inside and outside the four walls (of the church).

Q: Have you had opportunities to share your faith through your work?

A: Oh yeah, it’s all the time. Seeing life as a unit and not divided up into spiritual and non-spiritual is important. I carry that into my training and when I’m training someone physically, it’s not just about their physical health. When someone is really overweight and out of shape, there’s a reason they got there and it usually has a spiritual route to it. They may be in prime condition but have depression or some other type of issue and there are spiritual routes there as well.

With everyone that I train, it’s all about, first and foremost, that God created this body and we need a living breathing relationship with Him.

There’s a guy right now that I’m training and he’s almost 400 pounds and just struggling to lose weight. So I’ve been training with him for almost a year and he hasn’t seen much success and he came in the other day and said, “I have problem. I can’t stop eating.” And I kind of laughed it off, but he said, “I’m serious. I have real problem. I can’t stop eating.”

So I asked him, “how bad do you want to change?” And he said that he wanted to really change. So I said, “what are you willing to do to change?” Then he said he would do anything.

Then I told him he needed to sign up for training five days a week because he wasn’t getting in the gym five days a week and needed to. Then I asked him again, “how bad do you really want this?” And he said he really wanted it. So I told him we were going to his house and made him take me to his house across town and I went through his fridge and cabinets and cleaned it out. I said, “if you want to make a change, you have to get rid of this junk and start making real choices.”

Then it went deeper than that and it was about how he wasn’t connected to a church body and he’s Christian but he’s out there on his own. I said, “man you need to get connected to a body and that needs to be priority number one.”

We get people who come to us and are real desperate, but I say to them, “okay, I’ll help you, but we’re going to do this on my terms.” And our terms are to lead them to the one who can really heal them, who is God.

Q: How would you address the issue of gluttony, one of the biggest issues that the church tends to sweep under the rug?

A: It’s actually the focus of the book I wrote. I’m passionate about it and believe it’s a real serious issue. What I believe the root cause of it is—well, I look at God’s number one priority. What is His most valuable creation? His greatest creation is His church and His people. And He’s called a people out to be separate and holy. We’ve got this individualized mentality about it being all about my life and I’m going to live it for me, and so it becomes a selfish way to live. And it becomes about your cravings and what you’re going to do to satisfy your cravings.

When you sacrifice those cravings, you sacrifice your individual life and you commit it to other people and you become accountable. It becomes about something bigger than you.

I believe that when we truly understand the nature of the church and what God wants to do through His body, then we’re going to see success with our own physical bodies. Then I believe that people aren’t living on a daily basis surrendered to the Holy Spirit and just letting Him lead you in everything you do. Paul says, “whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.”

We’ll go to church and tie it to the glory of God, but we won’t choose to not go to McDonald’s for the glory of God. You know? We need to know that He wants to lead us in all the small things in life.

Q: What’s your advice for people who have a desire to start something and how to manage the risk?

A: Speaking to Christians, the way we live is one big risk. We are betting everything on a God we can’t see. Our whole life is about faith, so that should flow over into every aspect of our life and so we are constantly taking risks, and I think God is wanting us to take bigger risks because that means we are trusting Him more and more.

God, who is the source of creativity, is going to give his people great ideas and inventions. It’s just about Him leading and you following him. Don’t try too hard to figure all the details out, just walk in it, take the next step as He leads you and don’t run ahead of him.

YouVersion Bible App Could Reach 100 Million Downloads

The ever popular YouVersion Bible app on smartphone devices could reach 100 million downloads in just under a month, or at least that’s the team’s hope for the July 10 date.

YouVersion, the free Bible app, was launched in 2008 just as Apple was launching their App Store. The app has become the most popular Bible reading and sharing app on the market, receiving a 5-star rating on Google’s Play Store and a 4.5 on the Apple App store.

The current download tally hangs around 95 million, but the YouVersion staff is encouraging a giant spread of the Bible by it’s 5th anniversary, July 10, in hopes of reaching 100 million plus.

Edmond, Okla. is the home of the innovation and development staff, including members of the nationally known church—LifeChurch.tv.

Bobby Gruenewald, innovation leader for LifeChurch.tv, told The Christian Post, “although 100 million sounds like a big number, we know it’s nowhere close to what’s possible. In fact, we like to say it starts with 100 million. Our faith has expanded to believe that Bible engagement could be transformed not only for this generation, but generations to come.”

Currently, their Bible app is available in 500 different translations and 300 languages.

LifeChurch.tv, a large multi-site church, is well known for it’s innovative and technological impacts on evangelism and church ministry.

“We’ve learned God uses milestones like this to fuel even greater growth,” said an excerpt on the campaign website.

Hobby Lobby Could Face $1.3 Million in Fines Per Day for Beliefs

Yes, you read that headline properly. Hobby Lobby, a well known company for not only crafts and household goods, but Christian outspokenness, could be fined $1.3 million a day for not offering the emergency contraceptive drug to their employees. The company that upholds Christian values does not agree with such a medication and does not agree to provide it to employees. Sounds like another freedom of religion infringement case that could crumple Christian business. July 1 will be the big day for Hobby Lobby when mandates could go into affect that penalize that company and require payment of fines.

Take a closer look at the story by watching a recent interview with Hobby Lobby’s president on The Christian Post.

Podcast – Roundtable Discussion: Denver Baker

This week we discuss a controversial and threatening topic for Christian business professionals. We do discuss same-sex marriage, and while we disagree with homosexuality as Christians, we are not discussing this issue to bash that lifestyle. We are simply talking about this topic/story because it affects all of us and could limit our ability to be free in religion and business. Once you’ve heard our discussion, we encourage you to head over to our forum and provide your opinion here.

 

Music: Caspian “Moksha” 

Oklahoma Chiropractor Practices What He Preaches

What began as a risk, yet a calling, turned into the chiropractic practice Dr. Micah Carter now owns in Oklahoma City, Okla.

After marriage and college graduation, Carter started his professional career as a high school teacher, but his teaching stent ended after three years when he and his wife picked up everything to settle in the metropolis of Dallas. Being small town folks, the adjustment was no small feat, especially pursuing chiropractic school with no income and no promise of work for his wife.

“We totally trusted God that that’s what we were supposed to do. We had complete faith about it and were at peace about it,” Carter said.

Settling down at his cousin’s house just outside Dallas in Plano, Texas, God began unraveling his plan for Carter’s future in chiropractic care and the intricacies of how that plan would unfold.

It was a “seamless transition” as Carter described it, as his wife landed a job receiving an income near equal to what they both made teaching, they sold their house in Goodland, Kan. and they closed on a house in the Dallas metro.

The dream of becoming a chiropractor, a dream Carter avoided because he was a small town man, was coming to fruition.

“Faith is how I got here in the first place because I was a high school science teacher first,” Carter explained, as he continued to mention the situation was a “God thing” and no other explanation was needed.

While Carter knew chiropractic school was his dream and felt God’s blessing on the situation, he still found himself face-to-face with doubt. Entering any new phase of life, fear is a crippling factor, yet Carter’s cousin, a dentist, was blatantly honest about Carter’s situation—“yes, you can do this. It’s not that hard but it’s going to take time.”

Fear seemed a distant factor now as Carter flourished in his education.

While in Dallas, Carter discovered another love—his love for God and his faith, something he accepted years ago but didn’t believe was fully-mature or intrinsic in his life until he and his wife relocated to Dallas. “Our spiritual journey really took off at that point.”

Today, Carter owns Family Tree Chiropractic in Oklahoma City and has been practicing since 2002. He originally wanted the name to be “Agape Chiropractic,” but he said he couldn’t get the name to stick and some may not understand the meaning. He finally settled on “Family Tree” because he encourages care for the entire family from great grandparents down to the youngest toddlers.

Before All Else, They Gather To Pray:

Carter took time to share about his professional adventure and blessing while he missed the prayer meeting he conducts with his staff twice a day. His practice opens in the morning, breaks for lunch and then reopens in the afternoon. Before each opening of the practice he gathers the staff for prayer.

They pray for each other, for the practice and for the patients. Carter says they even pray for patients directly when they’re helping them recover from this pain and that ailment. However, Carter never forces the matter.

“I don’t push it on people because some aren’t comfortable,” Carter said. “I don’t want to be showy, but I want it to be clear whose practice it is.”

Carter has even noticed patients asking for referrals to other specialists and inquiring whether “they will pray with me before treatment or surgery.” Carter smiled as he explained the power of prayer in his practice and how it’s connected him with a strong network of specialists who uphold their faith as well.

Hiring for a Christian Practice:

Does Carter only staff his practice with Christians? Is it a Christian only zone? By no means does Carter want to exclude people from his staff or community of patients because they don’t agree with his beliefs.

Upon entering the practice it’s difficult to miss the Christian messages and themes as Christian music plays over the sound system and messages of faith fill the walls. People know the mission of the practice as Carter designed it with that intent.

When Carter hires new staff members, he’s genuinely upfront and personal about what he believes and what the practice embraces.

“We don’t search out and say you have to be Christian, I wouldn’t do that. But I tell them in the second interview, ‘look this is really God’s practice and we pray for all of our patients, we pray together everyday as a team and we take prayer requests as a team. I’m not going to require you to pray with us, but you’re more than welcome to.”

It’s an open invitation to join what Carter and his staff members advocate and believe, but it’s not pressure or exclusion from him or the others. Carter is simply honest and open to people making their own decisions.

Work Isn’t Really Work:

Carter joked as he stated that work isn’t work for him. Watching patients improve and heal is the blessing of his work. The fruits of his labor, and staff’s prayer, are evident in the people they serve, making work a worshipful experience for him, he said.

“It’s kind of hard to call it work,” he mentioned. “It’s easy to be joyful through what I do.”

Denying Business Based on Faith—Is It Unlawful?

You may or may not have heard about a Christian baker in Denver, Co. who denied business to a gay couple ordering a wedding cake. This happened in July of last year and mainstream news and social media got a hold of the situation.

The couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, took to their Facebook airways to publish a post about the baker, Jack Phillips, refusing to fill their order. The post went viral in an uproar over civil rights and discrimination.

According to the Denver Post, Mullins and Craig said the situation was awkward and painful.

“We were all very upset, but I was angry and I felt dehumanized and mortified,” Mullins said to the Associated Press.

Tremendous support flooded the couple, with strangers offering their appreciation for their love and commitment, and disdain for a business that would do such a thing.

Meet Jack Phillips—owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop for 19 years and resident of the Lakewood area just outside of Denver. He’s a professing Christian and has turned down business prior to this incident because of disagreements with homosexual relations.

The Denver Post reported Phillips saying, “when I do a cake for a first birthday party, I imagine the family gathered around taking pictures and laughing. When I do a graduation cake, I think of all the hard work it took to get them there. I feel like I’m part of the celebration, and I can’t take part in that kind of celebration (same-sex wedding).”

This brings us to today, where Phillips is facing a court decision that could determine jail time or fines for his actions.

The Blaze reported the Colorado Attorney General’s office is filing a formal complaint against Phillips and his bakery. The complaint describes a possible fine of $500 per instance if Phillips continues to refuse making wedding cakes for homosexual couples and could spend up to one year in jail for the suit. Phillips is scheduled to stand in front of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in September.

Of course, the issue at hand is discrimination.

“If gays come in and want to order birthday cakes or any cakes for any occasion, graduations, or whatever, I have no prejudice against that whatsoever,” Phillips said in an interview with CBS News. “It’s just the wedding cake, not the people, not the lifestyle.”

So, is it unlawful to deny wedding cakes to homosexual couples?

The court will probably rule that yes, indeed it is unlawful. Looking at the progression of law over time, you can see court decisions favoring less and less discrimination, no matter the concern of religious freedoms.

But, this progression affects Christians greatly. While we may deny such services, as small as making wedding cakes for homosexual couples, we will be identified as discriminatory although we have the right to exercise our faith.

I call your attention to the first portion of the first amendment of our constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

So our government, our courts, cannot stop us from exercising our right of faith. If so, how does that right get shoved aside concerning discrimination?

Is discrimination in business a more important issue than religious freedom? This is what we need to be discussing. It’s not that Phillips is discriminatory in all of his actions, just in making and selling wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

“I’m not going to change my business because of a petition,” Phillips said to the Denver Post. “I’m just going to do the best I can do to honor Jesus Christ.”

The question for Christians shouldn’t be “why aren’t you more understanding and accepting of people?” The question should be “why aren’t you holding fast to what you believe?”

If we progress with culture, we become hypocrites concerning the approval of homosexual relations. Are we going to be hypocrites of what we believe and let certain God-opposing, sinful actions slip through the cracks, or are we going to be different than mainstream culture and stick with our value of one man and one woman?

The decision is yours. If we don’t talk about it, then we may find ourselves on a slippery slope. So, let’s talk. And let our talk be wholesome and constructive.