Archive for February, 2008

If you are not currently a subscriber to The Dividing Line, a webcast done twice a week by Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries then you should or have to explain you didn’t on the day of judgment. Well, that may not be the case but I can’t recommend his show or articles enough. Although the focus of his ministry is that of apologetics and it is about as good as it gets, he is also an elder at his church and his ability to convey the truth that is the Gospel is truly inspiring. He clearly holds the Bible in high regard and has been gifted with a love of, and for the preaching of the Gospel.

Here are some of his videos on YouTube from his series, Theology Matters. As much as I enjoy learning apologetics/theology from Dr. White, it’s his reverence for the Bible that always impresses me more.


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So, what is that makes a cup of coffee great and others not?

We need to start with good, whole bean coffee that has been properly roasted. Preferably the coffee would not be any older than two weeks. It should be a single origin bean not a blend and it should be ground just prior to the brewing process. Region of preference in descending order:


Central America

Island (Hawaii, Jamaica, Cuba)

South America


Coffee originated in Ethiopia so I think that Africa and Arabia are a good place to start. The reason I suggest to you not to try a blend but rather a single origin is so that you can develop a palette for coffee and it’s flavor profile. In blending coffees from different regions it is easier to cover up mediocre coffee. Coffee from different regions will have different flavor characteristics, therefor I encourage you to try and distinguish the difference between a Yirgachaffe from Ethiopia to a Tarrazú from Costa Rica.

Now that you have some whole bean coffee you will need to grind it. There is no need to drop several hundred dollars on a burr grinder when a twenty dollar blade grinder will be more than adequate.

Now that you have the beans and have just ground them in a blade grinder, what to brew your coffee in? A regular drip coffee maker is not a bad choice but the majority of drip coffee makers on the market just do not heat the water enough. To properly extract all the flavor of the coffee the water needs to be between 200º F and 205º F, most drip coffee makers only get to about 185-190º F. If you are curious about just how hot your drip maker gets, get a kitchen thermometer and measure the temp. the next time you brew coffee.

What to do if you want a better cup of coffee than what the drip coffee maker offers? Can I interest you in a French Press? The French Press is nothing more than a glass cylinder with a base, handle, filter, plunger and top. The process is rather simple, you grind the coffee then dump it into the cylinder, add the hot water then place the lid which includes the filter and plunger on top. You let the coffee steep for three to four minutes then you press the plunger which pushes the filter through the brew which in turn pushes the coffee grounds to the bottom leaving you with a pot of the most rich and delicious coffee you have tasted.

Be sure to use good drinking water for all your coffee brewing!

If you do not want to try the French Press, then how about a Filtercone? Filtercones are nothing more than a manual drip coffee maker but this way you can be sure that the water will be hot enough and you can drip right into a thermos or carafe.

If you will be using either a French Press or Filtercone, you may want to consider using an electric water kettle. It can bring your water to a boil faster than a stove and it shuts off as soon as the water is boiling hot. Just several seconds off the boil and your water is good to go!

If you are using paper filters try using gold filters instead as they allow for more of the oils to pass through rather than being filtered out.

If you like cappuccinos but don’t want to drop four grand on a home unit then try a Moka Pot.  It is nothing more than a stove top cappuccino maker and nothing less than spectacular!

This is not the fastest nor the easiest way to get a cup of coffee, but there are no shortcuts to quality.

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You really must read this post by my Homie, Dustin Segers at the Triablogue.Here is his opening paragraph:It is my humble opinion that many of the problems that plague our modern evangelical churches are simply due to the fact that they are absolutely full of false converts. I have spent some significant time counseling people in various churches since I began pastoral ministry in 2000, and I am convinced after several years of experience with nouthetic counseling, that the single-greatest problem with the many professing Christians is that they profess and do not actually possess Christ. They do not possess the new heart (Ezekiel 36:25-27) and their lives show it. Instead of being characterized by Christian love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control; their lives are continually patterned by the following characteristics:

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The Decline of the Coffee Giant

Today, all Starbucks stores closed early to provide training for their “baristas.”  Nationwide, the specialty coffee sales leader began closing it’s door at 5:30 PM, leaving those looking for a bad cup of coffee or for a super sweet drink that has a coffee aftertaste high and dry or more importantly, maybe they left the door open for smaller shops to show the uninformed just how bad Starbucks coffee really is.

This news today reminded me of other recent news from Starbucks, namely that Starbucks will be closing stores that are not well performing, they will also be cutting back on the number of planned new stores and that they will be laying off 220 employees.  Has Starbucks hit the saturation point of how much coffee the country can consume?  Are they victims of their success?  Have they grown too much too fast?

I am biased against Starbucks coffee.  I think it is bad coffee, but more than that, it is far too expensive for how bad it is.  From the first time I tried their coffee all those years ago when they first arrived in southern California, I did not like them.  The main reason for not liking them was that their coffee was bad but there was also an emotional reason.  There was a small coffee shop in Pasadena that we used to frequent called “BrewHaHa” that was shut down after Starbucks came into town.

This lead me to think about what made one coffee shop successful and the other not, and it’s not the coffee, it’s the image.  One of the troubling things about our society is it’s consumerism.  So the success that Starbucks has seen is more due to their white cup with green logo than whats in the cup.  Much like the symbols of society and how they are marketed as a symbol of status the coffee cup is now part of the same marketing and consumerism.  When Honda, Toyota and Nissan introduced their new car lines, Acura, Lexus and Infiniti, it was because people would not consider driving a luxury vehicle with a Honda, Toyota or Nissan badge.  Luxury vehicles have a Cadillac or Mercedes Benz or BMW badge.  Coffee was given a label and sold to the unsuspecting coffee drinker who has been hoodwinked into thinking that he is getting a “luxury” item.

Coffee is a perishable commodity either in a green un-roasted form as well as roasted and ground forms.  Once roasted, the coffee begins to loose much of its flavor not long after roasting.  Most roasted coffee can be considered fresh for up to two weeks after roasting, after that it begins to go stale.  Starbucks coffee is roasted in one of several roasting locations and shipped to local stores.  I do not know what the transit time is between the time the coffee is roasted and when it is shipped to stores nor do I know how long it is before it is ground and served.  What I do know is that the coffee is over roasted, the water used to brew it is too hot and since the coffee tastes so bad most people only see fit to drink it as long as it has plenty of cream and sweeteners.

With the closing of all the Starbucks stores, I hope that the coffee addicts looked for a new place to get their fix.  Hopefully every neighborhood has a local coffee shop that roasts their coffee on the premises, if not then hopefully they found a shop that keeps fresh roasted coffee and they found a cup of coffee that has a clean finish and coffee that isn’t bitter but has plenty of flavor, a cup of coffee that is so good it doesn’t need all that cream and sugar to cover up how bad it isn’t.

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I want to give my final thoughts regarding whether or not smoking cigars, drinking beer or having tattoos is a sin.  I only mention beer because I am not a wine drinker, except for an occasional glass of port after dinner while smoking a cigar.

The one notion that was impressed upon me from the replies was that many were based on emotion rather than scripture.  The notion that a church leader should not partake of any of these actions because he should be beyond reproach.  This was taken from 1Timothy 3, but no where does it mention anything about not drinking, verse 3 states that he should not be addicted to wine or a drunkard but does not say that he shouldn’t drink wine.  From the passage, Paul is writing to Timothy and giving him a list of what to look for.  In verse 2, he says that a man must be above reproach then he lists the things that will keep that man above reproach.  If one holds to the idea that the portion that states “above reproach” includes not drinking at all, on what basis can you reproach the leader?  It is circular reasoning.

Cigars, obviously are not mentioned specifically in the Bible so there is no single verse that one one can point to and call it a sin.  It then may be a sin by secondary means such as addiction or the harm that it causes to the one smoking.  If it is a sin because of it’s adverse health effects, to this point in my life football and skateboarding have been much more detrimental to my physical health.  I have had so many ankle injuries that I have scar tissue that makes it painful to walk.  If its not my ankles than my knees act up from my left knee that has a ruptured meniscus to my right knee which has a slightly torn MCL.  My cigar/pipe smoking is limited to once a week, I do not crave it the rest of the week.  If it is a sin then because of the health effects, then sitting in traffic during the summer months in L.A. may be sinful as well.

As for the proper response to the question of tattoos, I will display what what my brother Mark wrote:

As with all of the scriptures, there is a context here (content plus context equals meaning!). This scripture is talking specifically about the practice of tattooing oneself in accordance with cultic religious worship… the kind that the surrounding people groups of the day were involved in. The word that we translate “tattoo” is also only kind of a “best fit” word as the original text implies that it may have meant more of a “branding” or “scarring” as well as the inlaying of ink into the skin, although we can’t be sure as there is no direct translation. This is just another instance of God protecting his people and keeping them sacred from the rest of the world in order to preserve them (and through them, the Messiah). When I hear this question asked (”Is it a sin to get a tattoo?”) or others like it, I always think of this:

The Law was given in 4 parts:

1. Moral Law: To preserve the soul
2. Cultural Law: To preserve the message
3. Dietary Law: To preserve the promise
4. Levitical Law: To preserve the calling

Jesus’ first coming fulfilled the Cultural, Dietary and Levitical laws (as they were put in place to preserve the people so that the Messiah could come out of the Nation of Israel), but we are still bound by the Moral law. There is a ton that could be said about this, but as with most things of God, the answer of the question ultimately lies with the intent of the Heart of the one asking it.

Here’s a great study where Waxer talks about this verse:


He talks specifically about this around 56 minutes in. I wish I could find the study where he talks about the four types of law, but I’ll have to dig around for it.



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Smile, God Hates You

How often do we consider the attributes of God? For the most part, it seems as though love is the only one that is mentioned or that love is somehow superior to the others. How many times have you heard someone say that God loves the sinner but hates the sin? Have you ever wondered where that saying comes from? because I have yet to see it in scripture.

Does God truly hate the sinner and not just the sin?

Psalms 5
5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

The subject of the two verses is God. Hate, destroy and abhor are the predicates. Thus from Psalms 5 we can see that God is the one who is hating, destroying and abhorring. To whom or what then is God doing these things to? Is God hating the evil that is done by the doer, or is God hating the doer of the evil? In verse six, it is the man who is bloodthirsty and deceitful, clearly it is the man that God hates and not just his actions.

God hatred is not arbitrary, it is focused upon those that are in rebellion against Him. His wrath is righteous and it is demanded by His holiness and justice. His holiness would be lessened if He did not hate or demonstrate His wrath upon the wicked. A lack of hatred and wrath would be a blemish on a perfectly holy, just and loving God. It is that He has been and continues to be merciful and shows grace on some that He likewise demonstrates hatred toward those that are outside His grace.

It is God’s holiness that demands retribution and it is His holiness that demanded for the substitutionary work of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ death and punishment on the cross wasn’t just one of the many ways in which God could’ve saved His people, it was the only way. God hates sin so much, he cannot bare to look upon it that He sent the God the Son as the sacrifice that would be a satisfaction to God the Father, in our place. The only means by which we can have communion with God is through the intercessory work of Jesus. The hate and wrath that we deserve, has been poured out on Jesus Christ, though He knew no sin He became sin in our place.

It is not a mean god that hates but rather a loving all powerful God that is so holy and just that he hates that which contrary to Him. It is that He delights in that which is lovely that He likewise hates that which is ugly. The sooner we realize just how ugly and vile our sin is and how much God hates it, than we can truly understand and appreciate His love for us.

edit: I found this video by Dr. Bob Morey after writing the above.

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Somehting New From Crossway

As the release date for the Personal Reference ESV comes quick upon us, there is news regarding the genuine leather edition. Early last week I received email confirmation that the Personal Size Reference genuine leather edition will have a sewn binding! That is good news not just for those of us that will be looking to send it off to be rebound but also for those looking for a high quality Bible at a good price. The genuine leather has a msrp of $44.99 but retailers like Amazon, Monergism Bookstore and WTS Bookstore will be sure to have it discounted prices. Both Monergism and WTS offer ESV’s at %45 off. There was also news that these editions will have higher quality paper.


On another note, the Compact TruTone edition has been reworked into the new Deluxe Compact TruTone edition. It features a slightly larger trim size, larger font size, and most importantly it will have a sewn binding! This will end up being a very durable and long lasting edition. The TruTone has been well received and is very durable and has now been wrapped around a sewn book block.

I think Crossway just hit a home run! Congrats to them for striving to put out quality products.

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