Since moving to Austin over a decade ago, coffeeshops have filled the streets about as quickly as high-rise condos have populated the skyline. You’ll find one of these below. Since using a Breville espresso machine, I’ve begun to favor beans that make for a great espresso. The fact that I’ve limited myself to a coffee a day over the past year has made me even more picky (although I’ve splurged a bit the last month!). All of these can be used to make a great cup of coffee and would be a great gift for a coffee lover.
Irving Coffee Roasters: Blackstrap – This espresso is rich, molasses-caramel, heavy-in-the-best-of-ways goodness. A favorite from NYC and worth ordering every single time.
Counter Culture: 46 – In addition to having a cool, pastel, no-nonsense compostable bag, this bean is smooth, smokey, and dark chocolate. Not as dark as Blackstrap, it’s a great everyday bean. Its name comes from the 46th recipe Counter Culture created.
Tweed: Timepiece – This coffee is from the most-expensive, sheik coffeeshop in Austin, Houndstooth, with its original store located in the downtown Frost Tower. These guys take coffee seriously, and it shows. Timepiece manages to combine the caramel I love with a brightness that keeps it from being too heavy.
- Biblical Epistemology – My prolegomena helped me grasp how a Biblical worldview in intellectually credible. The writings of John Frame and N.T Wright on critical realism helped me grasp a way of looking at the world that is neither naive or nihilist. We can perceive what is true, through reason, the Spirit, and the Word, but not all we say is true.
This enabled me to press into a pluralistic context like Austin, Texas with the requisite humility and confidence.
- Systematic Theology – Showed me how the Bible is theologically coherent. Apparent contradictions and various texts can be harmonized to tell us something about the nature, character, and purposes of God.
This enabled me to know God and answer some of the big questions regarding suffering, evil, election and so on.
- Hermeneutics – Enabled me to read and interpret texts well through propositional analysis, grammar, syntax, genre and so on. Discourse analysis was paradigm-shifting for me and taught me how to reason much better (Thank you Dr. Roy Ciampa!).
This enabled me to read the Bible and other books well, to reason well cultural texts and claims, as well as biblical ones.
- Biblical Exegesis – I got to apply hermeneutics to the whole Bible with the guardrails of mentors in order to understand the author’s intent. Lots of Bible. I added a second degree to get more practice and more Bible! In particular, Greg Beale’s categories for OT in NT exegesis helped me grasp how to make sense of what the NT authors do with the OT.
This launched me into the difficult task of showing the church, through preaching, that the two testaments are a whole.
- Biblical Theology – The above led me to read diachronically not just systematically, to read along the grain of Scripture so that the grand narrative of Creation-Fall-Redemption-New Creation is always my framework and Christ is at the center. Meredith Kline, Greg Beale, Sean McDonough were all a great help in this. Monotheistic Christology, the understanding that “Jesus is Lord” places Christ into the identity of YWHW simply blew my mind and still does.
That is gospel-Centered and led to a a consistent practice of challenging cultural notions of authority with the authority of Christ, basically preaching and teaching and discipling and counseling people into Jesus as King, not just as Savior
In light of my recent article at Lifeway Leadership, here are a few books I recommend reading if you feel exhausted by ministry, lackluster about the church, or distant from Jesus:
On The Brink – This book blends empathy, challenge, and biblical exhortation very well. An excellent help to anyone who feels “on the brink” or wants to better understand what pastors, in particular, often face.
Leading on Empty – This book combines science with sage advice. It contains some great best practices from an experienced pastor.
Near Unto God – A life-giving devotional by Abraham Kuyper. His brief devotional entries are packed with spiritual insight and stir religious affection.
This summer I wrote a study guide for 2 Peter & Jude. These are prophetic book letters for our time. It became clear to me that the straight forward truths, difficult texts, and glorious promises in these letters are just what our church needs to hear. So, we’re preaching through these two letters this Fall. Here are a few resources I’d recommend if you want to know the letters better.
The Message of 2 Peter & Jude – This is written by some of the most well-known British preachers. In fact, Dick Lucas had considerable influence on Tim Keller. This commentary is exegetically rich, well-footnoted, but also sensitive to culture and application.
Acknowledging the Divine Benefactor – This is a unique commentary more suited for the academic. It stands out in its sensitivities to Hellenistic backgrounds. The premise is intriguing, that 2 Peter follows a Greek form of paying homage to a benefactor. Peter may be adapting this form to encourage believers to honor Jesus Christ as their divine benefactor by living a life of virtue.
1, 2 Peter & Jude (Schreiner) – This is my favorite all round commentary on 2 Peter/Jude for its clarity and succinctness yet attention to detail.
*Jude & 2 Peter (Bauckham) – I’ve read a lot of Richard Bauckham over the years and studied under one of his proteges. He’s creative, textually rigorous, a fantastic biblical theologian, and learned in backgrounds. However, this commentary is a bit exhausting and I can’t stand the layout of Word commentaries.