Monthly Archives: June 2007

The Top Coffee Places in Louisville

On most blogs, Friday is a day for lighter fare. No such policy here at consumed. We tackle the tough topics, all week long.

With that stated, then, I bring you my list of the top coffee shops in Louisville.

1) Caffe Classico–Wow. What a Mocha. Hands down, the best mocha in the city. I say “mocha” because I don’t actually drink coffee. I drink the sweet drinks, sometimes called the “girly” drinks. Oh well. I play sports, so I guess my masculinity is proven. But anyway, the drinks here are sensational, even if this shop is more a blend of hangout and restaurant than the others on this list. Great for a cheap date.

2) Java–delectable drinks. The pricey Blended Irish Mocha (4something) should come with a dollar in the bottom of the cup. It doesn’t, but it does come with all kinds of rich chocolate. Scrumptious. The free Internet works well, and the ambiance is fun, though the chairs hurt your back after hours of reading that assigned systematic theology text.

3) Heine Brothers–on Bardstown Road, a nicely designed, open coffee shop with two nice couches. The music is a bit loud, and the drinks aren’t spectacular, but they are good.

4) Starbucks–I know this is ridiculous to have on the list, as it’s a chain, but I can’t resist ranking Starbucks below three local shops. I used to be a S-bucks aficionado, but then I got hip to the aforementioned Blended Irish Mocha. Since then, Starbucks’s drinks lack sweetness and punch. The fact that you have to pay for Internet access does not help. Though the abundant comfy chairs are nice.

That’s that. I never really go to Highland Coffee, though they do have chocolate whipped cream, which even as a proposition blows my mind. Louisville is in some ways a fun town, and it’s made fun in part by its really good eateries, coffee shops, and nice restaurants. I may miss the ocean, but whenever I leave Louisville, I’m pretty sure I’ll miss the mochas.

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The Duty of Every Preacher to Disclose Christ: It’s Not Easy

I think I said yesterday that I was done this series, but I thought of another thing to say about it, and it is this: preaching Christ from all the Bible is not easy.

I say this because I’ve argued strongly for this type of preaching. Yet as I’ve reflected on my own argument and my own preaching, I’m aware that I am not the exemplar for this style. By God’s grace I hope to preach Christ faithfully from all Scripture, but I am aware that I am young, unpracticed, and in need of seasoning and skill. Just this past week I “preached” in a class on James and walked away from the sermon realizing that I had not exposited Christ adequately. So in encouraging fellow Christians to approach the text from a Christ-centered way, I am speaking to myself.

Furthermore, it takes much effort and energy and care to preach Christ well. It’s not the easiest thing in the world. It will take time to transition from a more single-focused mindset–one devoted to exposition of the text–to a double-focused mindset, in which one both exposits the text’s original meaning and the meaning of the text for God’s people today (which must include relation to Christ). I sometimes think that we are naturally moralists. That is to say, it is easy and natural to preach the Bible moralistically. The Bible instructs us not to do such-and-such, and we tell the people not to do it. I can see in my limited experience that I am naturally good at this style of preaching. I’m a natural moralist. This is a problem. I am now working on moving beyond mere moral restatement. I want to be able to flesh out how Christ relates to the text’s point. I have sympathy for my fellow preachers and would-be preachers who are attempting to do the same.

I hope it is clear that in stating ideas on this blog, I am stating them as a young, inexperienced man. I am not an authority on anything. I try to think about things from a Christian perspective and to share those thoughts on this blog. I try to write persuasively and to make my arguments with force and logic. That seems to me to be a good way of beginning and conducting discussion of ideas. However, as I do so, I am quite aware that I am not the voice of reason, the authority, the maestro. I know this all too well. I hope that readers of this blog do too.

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The Duty of Every Preacher to Disclose Christ: It’s Not Easy

I think I said yesterday that I was done this series, but I thought of another thing to say about it, and it is this: preaching Christ from all the Bible is not easy.

I say this because I’ve argued strongly for this type of preaching. Yet as I’ve reflected on my own argument and my own preaching, I’m aware that I am not the exemplar for this style. By God’s grace I hope to preach Christ faithfully from all Scripture, but I am aware that I am young, unpracticed, and in need of seasoning and skill. Just this past week I “preached” in a class on James and walked away from the sermon realizing that I had not exposited Christ adequately. So in encouraging fellow Christians to approach the text from a Christ-centered way, I am speaking to myself.

Furthermore, it takes much effort and energy and care to preach Christ well. It’s not the easiest thing in the world. It will take time to transition from a more single-focused mindset–one devoted to exposition of the text–to a double-focused mindset, in which one both exposits the text’s original meaning and the meaning of the text for God’s people today (which must include relation to Christ). I sometimes think that we are naturally moralists. That is to say, it is easy and natural to preach the Bible moralistically. The Bible instructs us not to do such-and-such, and we tell the people not to do it. I can see in my limited experience that I am naturally good at this style of preaching. I’m a natural moralist. This is a problem. I am now working on moving beyond mere moral restatement. I want to be able to flesh out how Christ relates to the text’s point. I have sympathy for my fellow preachers and would-be preachers who are attempting to do the same.

I hope it is clear that in stating ideas on this blog, I am stating them as a young, inexperienced man. I am not an authority on anything. I try to think about things from a Christian perspective and to share those thoughts on this blog. I try to write persuasively and to make my arguments with force and logic. That seems to me to be a good way of beginning and conducting discussion of ideas. However, as I do so, I am quite aware that I am not the voice of reason, the authority, the maestro. I know this all too well. I hope that readers of this blog do too.

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The Duty of Every Preacher to Disclose Christ: It’s Not Easy

I think I said yesterday that I was done this series, but I thought of another thing to say about it, and it is this: preaching Christ from all the Bible is not easy.

I say this because I’ve argued strongly for this type of preaching. Yet as I’ve reflected on my own argument and my own preaching, I’m aware that I am not the exemplar for this style. By God’s grace I hope to preach Christ faithfully from all Scripture, but I am aware that I am young, unpracticed, and in need of seasoning and skill. Just this past week I “preached” in a class on James and walked away from the sermon realizing that I had not exposited Christ adequately. So in encouraging fellow Christians to approach the text from a Christ-centered way, I am speaking to myself.

Furthermore, it takes much effort and energy and care to preach Christ well. It’s not the easiest thing in the world. It will take time to transition from a more single-focused mindset–one devoted to exposition of the text–to a double-focused mindset, in which one both exposits the text’s original meaning and the meaning of the text for God’s people today (which must include relation to Christ). I sometimes think that we are naturally moralists. That is to say, it is easy and natural to preach the Bible moralistically. The Bible instructs us not to do such-and-such, and we tell the people not to do it. I can see in my limited experience that I am naturally good at this style of preaching. I’m a natural moralist. This is a problem. I am now working on moving beyond mere moral restatement. I want to be able to flesh out how Christ relates to the text’s point. I have sympathy for my fellow preachers and would-be preachers who are attempting to do the same.

I hope it is clear that in stating ideas on this blog, I am stating them as a young, inexperienced man. I am not an authority on anything. I try to think about things from a Christian perspective and to share those thoughts on this blog. I try to write persuasively and to make my arguments with force and logic. That seems to me to be a good way of beginning and conducting discussion of ideas. However, as I do so, I am quite aware that I am not the voice of reason, the authority, the maestro. I know this all too well. I hope that readers of this blog do too.

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The Duty of Every Preacher to Disclose Christ: Recommended Books

A couple of days ago, Paul asked for book recommendations on the topic being considered. Here are a few.

These four are a good start. I have included links to 9Marks reviews for those who wish to get a fuller look at these texts before buying them. All four, though, will richly benefit the reader, and will greatly help a young preacher or a preacher wanting to preach Christ faithfully from all Scripture. I would strongly recommend reading at least one or two of these texts; if you’re just starting, go with Chapell and Johnson. Those are probably the most accessible works, and will give you a solid foundation for Christ-centered preaching.

Let me conclude this brief series with suggestions on how one might faithfully preach Christ from all Scripture. Remember, the faithful preacher does not allegorize, thus over-finding Christ in the Bible, and yet the faithful preacher does not preach unless he in some way reveals Christ in the text. The following are some suggestions for preaching Christ from selected Scriptures.

  • Song of Songs does not depict first and foremost the love of Christ for His church, but clearly the marriage relationship is a picture of God’s love for His people. When preaching this book, then, the preacher should not preach each verse as pointing directly to Christ, but should preach the book as a celebration of marital love. Marital love, of course, points to the love of Christ for the church.
  • The Minor Prophets relate to Christ in that the various rulers of Israel were corrupt, and no lasting Savior could be found for God’s people. Christ, then, is the One for whom the prophets ultimately cry out, for He is the only perfect ruler, judge, and king.
  • Christ is the wisdom, the wise son, the righteous man of Proverbs. He is the fulfillment of all these types of person.
  • Where Solomon, David, and all others served as king, all their ministries point to Christ the King.

We could go on. But I’ll end here. I hope I’ve shown some out there who aren’t familiar with the Christ-centered model the absolute necessity to preach it. It is, I would contend, the truest, fullest, most faithful model of Christian preaching out there. It is not enough to declare the original point of a passage, though this is right. It is not enough to apply the text searchingly, though this is essential. The faithful preacher of the Word of God must use the hermeneutical key of Luke 24:27 and unlock the Scriptures’ fullest meaning for his people. Until he does this, he may have preached, but we cannot in the end say that he has heeded his master’s instruction, and shown the people where they may find Christ–and where Christ may find them.

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The Duty of Every Preacher to Disclose Christ: TV Dinner Preaching

Note: I have a blog up over at Said at Southern that you might find him interesting. It’s on one song written by a folkish Christian artist named Derek Webb. You might enjoy it.

I sketched out a basic argument for preaching Christ from all the Scriptures yesterday, and was delighted to read the comments on the post. G. F. was kind, Paul asked a great question, and Jed answered it (though I’ll supplement Jed’s answer tomorrow). Bryan Chapell’s Christ-Centered Preaching is not a perfect book, but it is excellent. Very faithful, thoughtful, thorough treatment of preaching. If you are a young preacher, and you want to preach expositorily, and you want to personally obey Luke 24 (the hermeneutical key), then you need to get this book, and read it all.

There really is no excuse for not preaching Christ from all of Scripture, especially when books like Chapell’s are out there. To the preacher wondering exactly how to apply the hermeneutical key, Chapell gives a helpful answer. To summarize it, he notes that the faithful preacher must relate how the given passage relates to Christ. This may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s more than this. It steers one away from the erroneous idea that every text directly declares the Christ. Not every text does. For example, not every Proverb is intended to point with extreme directness to Christ. But most Proverbs do in some way relate. On the matter of wisdom, then, the faithful preacher could first exposit what the text would have meant to the original hearer, then talk about how we all need godly, biblical wisdom, and then talk about how Christ is Himself wisdom incarnate. In this style of preaching we avoid the error of putting Christ into a mind who did not know Him even as we apply the hermeneutical key without fanciful allegory.

If you who are reading this are a Christian, you should be hearing preaching on a regular basis that uses this model. If you are hearing sermons on the Old Testament in which Christ is mentioned only cursorily or if He is only pasted on at the end, when the gospel is given (which is, though not ideal, still the right thing to do–we must always preach the gospel), then your preacher needs to grow in his understanding of biblical hermeneutics. Though he does not know it, his preaching lacks an essential characteristic of Christian preaching. He is not starving his people, but neither is he feeding them a full, healthy meal. He is serving up tv dinners, which may taste good and even have some good elements to them, but which on the whole are lacking and insufficiently nutritious. You see, when Christ opened the Word on the dusty road, and when He told His disciples that all Scripture pointed to Him, He was speaking to you, and to me, and to our pastors, and to every pastor (and Christian) that would ever live. He wasn’t conducting the world’s first hermeneutics class, or initiating the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Theology. He was showing them how to preach the Word, in order that they would not preach it wrongly. Though they may not have realized just how cataclysmic this little show-and-tell exercise was, they were being given the essential tool to understand all of the Bible. It is clear from the Book of Acts that they and their counterparts could not preach the way they always had. Acts is composed of sermons that expound Old Testament passages and reveal Christ in them. These sermons demonstrate for us the way–the only way–we may truly preach Christ faithfully.

You were not standing on the road with Christ the day He unlocked the OT, and indeed all of the Bible. I was not either. But do not think that you are not addressed in Luke 24. Every pastor (every Christian!) that has, is, and will preach stands behind the two disciples. Every one of us stands beside Christ, and learns from Him how to preach. Now, then: are we preaching in this way? Are our churches? Or have we shaken off Christ’s words as dust from our feet?

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The Duty of Every Preacher to Disclose Christ

“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

I have observed a troubling phenomenon in theological circles. Many people today think that we don’t need to preach how all the passages of Scripture point to the Jesus Christ, who is the center of the Bible. In preaching only the original point of a passage, we deprive God of glory and our preaching of the rich fullness it was intended to have.

Luke 24:27 is the key verse here (quoted above). The context is this: the post-resurrection Christ appears to two of His disciples, shocking them, and proceeds to teach them how all the Old Testament relates to Him. We have no record of this conversation, and thus we do not know exactly what Christ said to the two disciples. But we do know this: the Old Testament testified en masse to Jesus Christ. It was not a compilation of orthodox statements about God and God’s people. It might have appeared to be this, but it was much more than this. Its various components spoke in various ways to the reality that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the deliverer of God’s people, was coming. The Old Testament authors understood little of this; but when Jesus unfolded this truth to His two disciples, He changed the entire Christian hermeneutic (interpretive scheme) in one exhilarating conversation.

This verse is sometimes called the “hermeneutical key.” It teaches us an essential–absolutely necessary!–interpretation in interpreting and understanding the Bible. It all points in some way to Christ. This can be overdone, of course. We can allegorize the Scriptures and make them mean things they do not. This is one error that some of the godliest men of church history made time and time again. Yet if over-preaching Christ in the Bible is an error, so is under-preaching Christ in the Bible. It is my belief that every passage, every unit, of Scripture reveals Christ in some way. Now, some passages are closer to a clear and understandable revelation of Christ than others. It is difficult to know how exactly Christ is found in the genealogies. But it is less difficult to know how He relates to David, or Abraham, or the bad kings of Judges, or Solomon, or the testimony of the Minor Prophets, or Job, or tons of other things in the OT. Yet all too often, our preaching veers into moralism. Or, when it’s done more faithfully, it reveals the character of God. This is good, but it is not enough.

True biblical preaching that follows Luke 24:27 does something more, something that requires great care and reflection: it reveals Jesus Christ. Unless we do this in our preaching, I do not think that we can say that we have preached truly. Or, to flip it around, if we have not preached Christ, have we truly preached?

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One Day I Will Swim That Sea: On Heaven

One of the hallmarks of summer is time in the water. Here in Louisville, there’s little water to be found, particularly in the midst of a busy life. As a native of Maine, I often find myself pining for the sea. Walking home from a day of work in simmering heat, I sometimes transport myself back to my state, and imagine myself lying in ocean sun, contented.

Growing up on Maine’s coast, I was not far from the ocean–about 10 minutes away, in fact. There were also many lakes to visit and swim in. The opportunity to swim imbues life with a relaxed state. It is as if one’s soul is able to exhale. Diving off of a dock, for a second anticipating the plunge about to occur, and then shooting into water is an aesthetic experience. The swimming life is the enhanced life, to be sure. For a few seconds, one enters another world, an alien world, frightening in some respects, yet not foreboding. The ocean simultaneously beckons and challenges. It invites you to enter it, but it makes no promises about what happens once you do. You might encounter rocks, or starfish, or sharks. You’re never sure what will ensue when you step into it. Yet from the outside, all is peaceful.

I suppose that our experience of the ocean redounds of our experience of heaven. Heaven, of course, does not frighten. But that is not to say that there is nothing something that sends a chill through us when we think of heaven. Our blood does not cool because of fear, but because of the immensity of God. The majesty of God and His dwelling place, like the ocean, confronts us, confounds us, leaves us bewildered. Like the ocean, we understand something of heaven; we can “see” it in a sense, through the eyes of faith, but as with the sea, we know almost nothing of heaven. No one other than a startled biblical author or two has even glimpsed the glories of heaven, and so, like the ocean, we know so little of it. We can gaze on it, stand before it on this earth, and contemplate it, straining our sight, but we cannot truly see it. It is a mystery, a hidden reality, a presence beyond anything, beyond the ocean, beyond the galaxy, beyond all that we know and can know.

The ocean calls me. Though I don’t see it, or smell it, or feel its coarse air, I hear it. It calls me, and this call leaves me longing, frustrated, as I walk to my home. Yet the ocean, powerful as it may be, is drowned out by a greater call, a call to a land of wonder, a place of eye-altering beauty, a home promising complete satisfaction of the soul. This land is heaven. I see it now, but only as the ocean, only as a stretch of majesty that strains my eyes and confounds my mind. I want the Maine water. I miss it terribly. But I want heaven, I want the chill, I want the experience of coming near, impossibly near, to the God I love and worship. It is His immensity and splendor I see just a glimpse of now, though one day I will step into that ocean, and I will swim that sea.

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The Sweet But Poisonous Message of "The Holiday"

I recently watched the 2006 film “The Holiday,” which stars Jude Law (Graham), Kate Winslet (Iris), Cameron Diaz (Amanda), and Jack Black (Miles). The film was well-made, decently written, and satisfactorily acted, but it is most notable for its strenuously post-modern perspective on adult relationship.

The movie draws you in through setting itself in beautiful scenery and incredible opulence. The movie seems to be a celebration of materialism. The two main female characters played by Winslet and Diaz swap homes–Amanda lives in a magnificent L. A. home and Iris in an enchanting English cottage–and proceed to revel in their respective surroundings. The film portrays Winslet as particularly satisfied with her new trappings, and we are invited to marvel as well. The film seems to speak double-mindedly here, because while none of the four wealthy main characters are ultimately happy, they don’t seem to realize that their homes and clothes are ultimately unsatisfying. In other words, they have failed to make the connection that they need beauty, truth, and goodness in their lives rather than Burberry, Timberland, and Gucci. Throughout the film, I felt uneasy watching them, as if I were eavesdropping on the lives of the mega-rich. Chick flicks have this feel, I think, because they are so internally focused; we see the lives of these two modern women to their very essence, and we come away feeling guilty because of the success of our voyeurism.

“The Holiday” throws Graham and Amanda immediately into bed. It’s thoroughly disgusting. They continue to have a sexual relationship over the course of Amanda’s two-week stay. As time goes on, they realize they love one another (or something like that), and so they decide to stay together in some form. We don’t actually know how they’re going to do this, as the movie ends with the two of them living hapily ever after but without any engagement or marriage. It’s really incredible, when you think of it. These two beautiful people come together, commence a sexual relationship, and then stay together in some amorphous form. This is the new paradigm. Who needs rings and ceremonies and lifelong commitments when you can just stare deeply into one another’s gorgeous blues and fornicate whenever you want? Certainly not the screenwriters of Hollywood.

Speaking of the screenwriters, they’re out–as they usually are–to get men in this movie. While this does grow tiring, I have to say that I do understand it, because many men today are inconsiderate, selfish, irresponsible idiots looking out only for their own carnal instincts. Where such men may enjoy free reign in society, they are regularly excoriated in the strange world of chick flicks, where ice cream never fattens, everyone drives a BMW, and heroines always win. The chick flick world really is a fantasy world. I’ve certainly never observed so many witty, literate tell-offs and guys getting punched and physically hurt as I have in chick flicks. But that’s fine. They are what they are, and they do make some useful points, and they are dead right on the state of modern men. Jude Law almost made me lose my recently digested chips-and-mango-salsa when he almost whispered how hard it was to be a widowed dad and have “hot chocolate spilled all over him” by his two darling little girls. The movie, incredibly enough, actually tried to have the audience sympathize with him and excuse his penchant for going out to bars whenever his children are out of town in order to get sloppily drunk and sleep with whoever he can grab before falling down. The emotional manipulation that occurs in chick flicks is astounding. Here’s a guy who actually has a shot of living honorably, of demonstrating male strength and virtue, and he whines to the camera about having hot chocolate spilled on him. It would be awful to be a widower, but what kind of man uses this state to justify lecherous, self-serving behavior that violates women both physically and emotionally? Well, apparently the kind of man that Hollywood and its devotees love. The amazing thing is that Jude Law’s character is so morally atrocious and yet the movie still succeeds in making you like him. This truly is manipulation at its worst.

Nowadays, chick flicks don’t even end with sappy scenes involving weddings and lots of hasty plot resolution. Everyone just falls in love (whatever that means), throws a party, and jumps into bed. We’re left as confused as Jude Law’s character’s little girls must be. They’ve lost their mother, their father beds other women on a regular basis, and now Amanda joins their world, but in an undefined way. The viewer of “The Holiday” who is not bewitched by its charms and its manipulative plot devices is not left smiling sweetly to himself over the fact that the Two Beautiful People–Law and Diaz–ended up together, but rather frowning concernedly for the fate and the hearts of those two little girls. They are not real girls, of course, but they represent real girls, countless little girls, who are growing up in a world bereft of manly virtue and feminine appeal, and who will likely grow up to be haunted and angry, unfulfilled and cheated, no matter how softly the closing credits may play.

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Gray Is Just Gray

I don’t have much time today, but I want to say very quickly that if being Pharisaical is composing rules and guidelines for life that are not explicitly textual, then we all are Pharisees. It’s not, of course, and I’ll show you why.

We all compose extra-biblical rules for ourselves. When parents draw up rules for the home, they’re making extra-biblical codes of conduct for their children, and holding them to it. When you work in an office, you abide by certain codes of conduct that are extra-biblical and binding. If I were to type emails for an hour each day at my workplace, that would go against the ethical code of my office. That would make my action wrong. But wait–there’s nothing biblical about that, in an explicit sense. How then can it be wrong? It can be wrong for the fact that we all draw up rules and regulations beyond the Bible. It is right that we do so. We ought not to do so while placing these rules in the position of the Bible, but we all must compose such principles by which to live.

In my series on women and sports, then, I was attempting to do this very thing. I wasn’t saying that a certain action was definitively sinful. My point was to suggest what I thought was a better way of living for Christian women over against egalitarian living. I wasn’t handing down the eleventh commandment. I was doing what we all must do–take biblical wisdom and apply it to our everyday lives. If people do not agree with my ideas, that is fine. We are free to disagree with one another. But when I’m not presenting my views as inspired but rather as principles that I think one is wise to live by, I’m merely trying to think scripturally, to apply biblical wisdom to all of life. It is thus inappropriate to call my thinking Pharisaical. You may not like it; that’s fine. I understand. I sometimes take controversial, unpopular positions, and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. But please, let’s be a little more careful with the Pharisee terminology. In reality, we’re not seeking to destroy or hurt one another, but rather to think through life together. Let’s do so with proper theology, and with love in our hearts toward one another, even as we make arguments for the purpose of edifying one another in the faith.

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