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Mother’s Milk, MacIntyre Coffee, New Row Coffee, God Word that Keeps Us from Falling

May 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Some weeks, the weight and yet otherness of people’s existence presses insistently upon one’s own consciousness – exciting it, almost overwhelming it. A disjointed account follows:

Mother's Milk Coffee, Little Portland Street, London Mother's Milk Coffee, Little Portland Street, London
Mother's Milk Coffee, Little Portland Street, London Mother's Milk Coffee, Little Portland Street, London

Met a bunch of coffee folk from Malaysia at Mother’s Milk Coffee (12 Little Portland Street, London, W1W 8BJ). We chatted about the scene in Kuala Lumpur and in Singapore – current state and future plans. I tried to explain what I was doing in London and why I was reading a book on sex. A strange otherness. Meanwhile, the boys attempted some form of continuous pour latte art. That’s the sort of place Mother’s Milk is – small, cosy, informal, with self-deprecation by the milk jug-ful, serving Kaffee Kommune‘s Odyssee Espresso (70% Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Worka, 30% Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Adado) like a blueberry burst.

MacIntyre Coffee, Hoxton Street, London MacIntyre Coffee, Hoxton Street, London
MacIntyre Coffee, Hoxton Street, London MacIntyre Coffee, Hoxton Street, London

The interior of MacIntyre Coffee (facebook, 13-21 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6NL) was an exercise in practical plywood simplicity. Ceremony Coffee, I think, but was too busy reading to remember. :-(. Grabbed a few whisky bottles of Sandow’s Cold Brew Coffee Guatemalan savoury goodness (very Brand’s chicken essence-y!) for friends at the upcoming sunny weekend away. Regulars came and gave updates on how their days were going. The otherness of lives shared, yet not quite.

New Row Coffee, London New Row Coffee, London
New Row Coffee, London

Made surprisingly fast friends with some of the other attendees at the Oakhill Theological College Open House – long chats about life with God as we walked the grounds and had lunch in the canteen before they gave me a lift to town. Read in New Row Coffee (24 New Row, London, WC2N 4LA) before going to dinner with some folk from Word Alive 2014 who were down from the north for a conference. We talked about the situation in Beijing and Shanghai, how the statistics of Christian growth in China did not and could not show the numbers who though claiming faith, had no concept of the gospel, nor others who, for lack of good teaching, had started to put their trust in everything other than Jesus.

One person at the hotpot dinner was going out to a Chinese city, fairly sure that she would not see her loved ones in this life again, but trusting that her priority must be God’s priority – the glorification of his Son Jesus and the growth of Jesus’ kingdom. For her, there was neither the cowardice of hiding behind familial excuses, nor the blind fanaticism of youth, but a cool weighing of costs, and a considering that there is nothing more important in this world than to do God’s will by teaching his Word to people to convict them of the truth and keep them safe.

What strange dissonance too in having a brother round for a meal before he left for a country in Africa, both of us aware that he might soon be an article in the Barnabas Fund newsletter. How strange to lope across London Bridge with Curate, chattering on about mundane things, yet realising the ultimate futility of placing any value on the things of the world as the setting sun brought us a day closer to the inevitable persecution that must accompany the proclamation of gospel (see the Book of Acts, amongst others) and also the day of Christ’s return (see 2 Peter, also amongst many other books in the Bible!).

Fabrique Bakery, Geffrye Street, Hoxton, London Fabrique Bakery, Geffrye Street, Hoxton, London
Fabrique Bakery, Geffrye Street, Hoxton, London
Fabrique Bakery, Geffrye Street, Hoxton, London Fabrique Bakery, Geffrye Street, Hoxton, London

In the meantime, there is the weight of the fallenness of this world: being told how a brother in Singapore was caught scheming to commit adultery; one day, being at Fabrique Bakery (Arch 385, Geffrye Street, Hoxton) with a friend, feeling the weight of my mate’s depression brought on by burden of responsibility trying to help victims of atrocities that might not even have made the news anywhere – the helplessness of a human trying to play God. The weirdness of sharing the last bits of a very excellent cinnamon bun while talking about this. And just a fortnight ago, consoling someone whose best friend and beloved grandfather were both diagnosed with cancer just before her exams, and urging her not, in her distress, to distrust that God is both in control, and good and loving.

Peloton & Co Cycle Cafe, Spitalfields, London Peloton & Co Cycle Cafe, Spitalfields, London
Peloton & Co Cycle Cafe, Spitalfields, London Peloton & Co Cycle Cafe, Spitalfields, London

Read Romans with two different people on successive Sundays, as we sat in the sunshine at Peloton & Co Cycle Cafe, persuading them from Scripture of God’s sovereignty, and exhorting them to honour God by letting God be God; not presuming that we knew better than he, praying that they would not fall. Then today, one of them met with a bad accident at work. Oh Father, will she remember your promises and not stumble.

After dinner last night, two housemates and I were discussing the so-called evangelical emphasis on Scripture. The people who scoff at this as academic and only for the intellectuals should be locked up as traitors. What unspeakable sabotage is performed when sheep are dissuaded or prevented from hearing the voice of their Shepherd and so wander off cliffs or fall prey to wolves. How deceitful to encourage these vulnerable ones to stumble about in darkness by withholding God’s word that God meant as a lamp to their feet and a light to their paths.

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London Coffee Festival 2014

April 15, 2014 Leave a comment

London Coffee Festival 2014Tickets to the London Coffee Festival 2014 were going for £11.50 (the best price with various discount codes was 2 tickets for £20). Probably not a good use of money, I thought, then promptly won a bid on ebay for a pair for £0.99. Score, TG.

The days were split into three three-hour sessions, but the queue to get in meant a later start time (though an improvement on last year’s 45-minute wait). The one we were in stretched all the way to Spitalfields until some marshalls snaked us round a back street:

London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014

Inside the building, it was lively, with blaring music and shouting hipsters. Friends and i thought it too commercialised though – very few coffees for complimentary tasting, most charging £1-2 per cup. The True Artisan Café section brought together several independent cafés, selling coffee at more-or-less usual prices. “Why bother queuing and pushing through crowds for this, when i could just visit these coffeshops at my leisure?” pouted one person:

London Coffee Festival 2014 Kahlua Coffee House, London Coffee Festival 2014
Ozone Coffee Roasters, London Coffee Festival 2014

What is the goal of a coffee festival? To educate the palates of coffee-lovers and convert non-coffee-lovers? To showcase products? Just a trade show? If i had to organise one, the emphasis would be on education; to raise the standard of coffee-making and appreciation amongst the general public and in that way, bringing greater enjoyment of the good (though fallen) creation in which we live.

Union Hand-roasted Coffee had regular roasting demonstrations beside their cafe/shop:

London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014
London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014
London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014

And the cupping challenge (find the odd one out) was fascinating, though we had to purposefully get one of the guys to talk us through the cups after:
London Coffee Festival 2014
The Make Decent Coffee Lounge was fun as usual because we got to compare drinks from the same beans made by different brewing methods, though the more scientifically picky might point out that there would be far too many variables in the mix:

Make Decent Coffee Lounge, London Coffee Festival 2014 Make Decent Coffee Lounge, London Coffee Festival 2014

Interesting sampling at the Ethiopian coffee booth (not the usual Yirg and Sidamo), though sad to have missed Roundsquare Roastery‘s whisky cask coffee:

London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014

Stopped to look at gadgets too of course, and contemplated home-roasting with a Hottop Drum Roaster, grinding with Hausgrind‘s handmade mills, and made my first rather horrid latte-art at the Sage Coffee Machine booth:

London Coffee Festival 2014
Hausgrind, London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014
Sage Machine, London Coffee Festival 2014 London Coffee Festival 2014

Sobering to think though that God isn’t glorified through our mere enjoyment of creation but our acknowledgement of him as Creator and Lord over all:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 1)

Fantastic Flat Whites and The Church

April 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Ah, the effect of sunshine and spring on the tastebuds or perhaps merely a happy run of good coffee joints in the last few weeks. Or both.

Craft Coffee, Sclater Street Craft Coffee, Sclater Street
Craft Coffee, Sclater Street

Craft Coffee (68 Sclater Street, Shoreditch, London E1 6HR)
Beans: Notes Burundi Buziraguhindwa
Milk: Northiam Dairy

Caravan Coffee Kings Cross Caravan Coffee Kings Cross
Caravan Coffee Kings Cross

Caravan Coffee Kings Cross (Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA)
Beans: Caravan Market Blend (Fazenda Ouro Verde, Brazil (Pulped Natural), La Marianela, Colombia (Fully Washed)?)

Julius Meinl Poetry Cafe
Poetry Cafe

Julius Meinl Poetry Cafe Pop-up (Old Truman Brewery, Shoreditch, London)
Beans: Julius Meinl Tanzania Limited Edition
This is the cheapest tasty flat white I’ve had…and also the most I’ve been paid for doggerel! Almost Yirgacheffe-like.

Black Sheep Coffee Cart, Old Truman Brewery
Black Sheep Coffee Cart, Old Truman Brewery

Black Sheep Coffee Mobile Espresso (Vibe Bar, 91-95 Brick Lane, London)
Beans: Black Sheep Coffee Eye Opener Double Caffeine Espresso (100% robusta! Indian Kaapi Royale Mandarin)
Machine: Nuova Simonelli Appia II Compact

This standout flattie was a 100% robusta from India in very smooth milk. Light on the tongue with orange-chocolate fragrance.

Overly-stretched (haha) metaphor or not, have been thinking lots about the human equivalent of coffee beans, milk, espresso machines. Like the constituents of a flat white, the church too is made up of different raw materials. But I suspect we don’t quite put as much effort in getting the best out of each person’s God-given gifts as indie coffeeshops obsess about their beans, milk, and coffee.

Church leaderships always moan that 20% of the congregation does 80% of the work, and complain about the rest being consumers but perhaps it is the leaders that have caused this state of affairs by choosing to focus their attention only on those with gifts that their particular church values as important – some go gaga over musical talent, others over intellectual clout, others over positions of influence in society.

But if as a church, we are a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a chosen race, living stones being built into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2); if we are all parts of the body of Christ with each member needing to play their unique part (1 Corinthians 12), then leaders need to ensure that each stone/part is strong in faith and godly.

“Oh,” says the senior pastor,”I need to train up leaders, so I’ll concentrate only on “Blokes Worth Watching”. Someone else will do it.”

“Oh,” says the Bible study leader in a reformed church,”I need to train up potential Bible study leaders. Remember, Jesus gathered only 12 disciples around him. Someone else will do it.”

And so the congregation sees only the meritocratic hierarchy that they need to climb to be of any value to the church (and so they think, to God). What a waste of talent. What severe amputations of the rest of the body. What a tragic throwing away of so many lives.

(For the avoidance of doubt, this is no reflection on the present Local Church since the Rector is quite diversified in his 121s, nor is it a personal gripe – since i am more than adequately employed and looked after there.)

Curators Coffee, 9 Cullum Street, City of London
Curators Coffee, 9 Cullum Street, City of London

The dear receptionist, seeing that the cook and i were severely exhausted from a full week of A Passion For Life events, bought us both coffees from Curators Coffee (9 Cullum Street, City of London) and Association Coffee (10-12 Creechurch Lane, City of London). My Nude Espresso Kenyan Gatomboya from Curators was a nicely savoury creamsicle. A good caffeine hug from another bit of the body.

Association Coffee, 10-12 Creechurch Lane, City of London Association Coffee, 10-12 Creechurch Lane, City of London
Association Coffee, 10-12 Creechurch Lane, City of London

The Wren Coffee, Expectations, Cognitive Bias

March 11, 2014 1 comment

The Wren Coffee Shop, St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, London The Wren Coffee Shop, St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, London
The Wren Coffee Shop, St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, London The Wren Coffee Shop, St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, London
The Wren Coffee Shop, St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, London The Wren Coffee Shop, St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, London

There’s a new church cafe open at St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, 114 Queen Victoria Street. Unlike the dismal experience at most such places where the ordering of a drink feels more a donation to charity than something you might actually want to purchase, the flat whites I’ve had so far at The Wren Coffee Shop (facebook) have been excellent. Bright on first sip but mellow stone fruits in a chocolate cake after (i think). Possibly better than the Cult of Done flattie sampled at Workshop Coffee‘s own. (Ah, but would this subjective assessment stem from aforementioned low expectations of church cafes?) There’s also the promise of lunchtime talks (The St. Nicks Talks) at the ZRP Architects-refurbished venue.

Bean: Workshop Cult of Done (50% Mahembe, Rwanda; 50% Fince la Esperanza, Guatemala)
Machine: La Marzocco

The Wren Coffee Shop, St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, London The Wren Coffee Shop, St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, London

Expectations are a funny thing – on one hand, they are a form of wisdom – something learned from experience (so one wouldn’t normally order a flat white in a church building expecting anything more than a bitter brew); on the other hand, they may stop you from making objective observations of the new situation.

The Wren Coffee, St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, LondonHave had several intense conversations over the last few days concerning people’s expectations upon encountering:

  • an evangelical church – those from what they term “charismatic” backgrounds expect that it’ll be all sin, no grace, by which many mean lack of positive affirmation;
  • an evangelical church in the Church of England tradition – those from what they term “reformed” backgrounds expect any church tradition to teach some form of transubstantiation and so take umbrage at some wording of the Anglican Giving of Communion; and
  • an evangelical church in the Anglican tradition, specifically the Local Church – taking particular offence to any mention of the English Standard Version of the Bible, homosexuality, male leadership etc.

stack of blueberry pancakesbelated Pancake Day brunch at MQ’s

The slant of their thoughts (like the precariously balanced blueberry pancakes above) meant every little detail was latched upon as rich pickings for their little confirmation bias baskets. How then to deal with this sort of cognitive bias?

  • It would be remarkably tedious to argue along political lines – that is, your religion vs my religion; your denomination against my denomination; your church vs my church. These sorts of arguments are generally of the straw man/Aunt Sally genre or might even be ad hominem etc thus lack any sort of nourishing substance.
  • What about pointing out evidence of such bias? Usefulness of this method would, however, be dependent on the reaction of each individual to this revelation. Wanting to be co-operative, would he/she start to exhibit demand characteristics, and if so, what sort and how beneficial would that be for the person in question? Or would such observation add instead to his/her confirmation bias?
  • By ignoring such evidence and proceeding as if ignorant? But surely this goes against the tenets of communication and of loving interaction.
  • A fellow-worker advised that i shouldn’t teach whatever makes people feel uncomfortable. However, (i) one can never predict the myriad cognitive biases that may occur in any group; (ii) the role and in fact, the responsibility, of the teacher is to teach the full counsel of God* (cf Acts 20:27).

i suspect the most reasonable route would be to (i) give biblical basis (book and verse) for everything i say; (ii) invite discussion based on interpretations of such. If there is a common regard for Scripture as solely authoritative for life and doctrine, then there should be mutual submission to what is clear from God’s word. While my attitude should be polite and as loving as possible (Jew to Jews?), to shrink from the important duty of keeping watch over their souls (Hebrews 13:17) so as to ensure that people will keep coming back would probably be both cowardly and detestable in the sight of God to whom we have to give an account.

lamb "tagine" with preserved lemons and green olives
feeding his sheep with lamb “tagine” with preserved lemons and green olives…

*D.A. Carson in his essay “Challenges for the Twenty-first-century Pulpit” in Preach the Word (via TGC) says:

When Paul attests that this is what he proclaimed to the believers in Ephesus, the Ephesian elders to whom he makes this bold asseveration know full well that he had managed this remarkable feat in only two and a half years. In other words, whatever else Paul did, he certainly did not manage to go through every verse of the Old Testament, line by line, with full-bore explanation. He simply did not have time.

What he must mean is that he taught the burden of the whole of God’s revelation, the balance of things, leaving nothing out that was of primary importance, never ducking the hard bits, helping believers to grasp the whole counsel of God that they themselves would become better equipped to read their Bibles intelligently, comprehensively. It embraced:

  • God’s purposes in the history of redemption (truths to be believed and a God to be worshipped),
  • an unpacking of human origin, fall, redemption, and destiny (a worldview that shapes all human understanding and a Saviour without whom there is no hope),
  • the conduct expected of God’s people (commandments to be obeyed and wisdom to be pursued, both in our individual existence and in the community of the people of God), and
  • the pledges of transforming power both in this life and in the life to come (promises to be trusted and hope to be anticipated).

plum tart with danish pastryplum tart with Danish pastry base for the poor hardworking temp housemate

O Glorious Maker of Coffee

March 7, 2014 Leave a comment

Square Mile's Sweetshop Espresso
Square Mile's Sweetshop Espresso Square Mile's Sweetshop Espresso

Trying out Square Mile‘s Sweetshop Espresso on the ROK espresso-maker. Coffee continues to be a source of constant amazement. First, its manifold varieties and almost infinite espressions depending on varied permutations of treatment of the beans at every stage of the process from crop to cup. But also how it is representative of the wonder of God’s world: the coffea is but just one genus of flowering plant in the hundreds of thousands in this world (excluding those that have already become extinct), and plants are but just one branch (haha) in the whole creation. Think then of all the different sorts of creatures on land, under the ground, in the sea, in the air… Then think of mankind and the different ethnic backgrounds, personalities, experiences, thoughts…

The Attendant Coffee, a Victorian loo along Foley Street, London The Attendant Coffee, a Victorian loo along Foley Street, London
The Attendant Coffee, a Victorian loo along Foley Street, London The Attendant Coffee, a Victorian loo along Foley Street, London
The Attendant Coffee, a Victorian loo along Foley Street, London The Attendant Coffee, a Victorian loo along Foley Street, London
The Attendant Coffee, a Victorian loo along Foley Street, London The Attendant Coffee, a Victorian loo along Foley Street, London

More than the absolute delight at drinking and eating in a Victorian loo, I like the consistent cups at The Attendant Coffee (Downstairs, 27a Foley Street, London W1W 6DY). Took a birthday girl here – there was quite a bit of squealing and attempts at tweeting (technically, shouldn’t it be twit-ting or twittering? No reflection on the birthday girl though!).
Bean: Caravan Espresso
Milk: Ivy House Farm
Machine: La Marzocco

Lots of independent coffee shops and roasteries say they share the same ethos of respecting the beans, of taking care to roast and grind the stuff properly then it brew it at the right temperature and use the right milk at the right temperature in the right way. But sadly, it is a fallen world. And like many churches, good intentions only go so far – sometimes, there is the inability to understand what is needed to execute said intentions, and sometimes, someone down the line doesn’t get the memo.

The experience this academic year has been fairly mixed:

Nude Espresso, near Brick Lane
Nude Espresso, near Brick Lane Nude Espresso, near Brick Lane

Nude Espresso (near Brick Lane, 26 Hanbury Street, London E1 6QR) was the first third wave/indie coffee shop I came upon in London and have always returned because the first barista I met was exceedingly nice and also sold me display copies of a V60 and Hario kettle for a discounted price. But I have not seen her since and unfortunately, the flat whites here have not been of a good standard. These last photos were taken only 10 minutes after I got the “flat whites”. The barista made one cup and divided it into two takeaway cups, then topped both with hot water. It was a strange watery brew.
Bean: Nude East Espresso Blend

TAP Coffee, London TAP Coffee, London
TAP Coffee, London TAP Coffee, London
TAP Coffee, London TAP Coffee, London

We came upon Tapped and Packed Coffee (193 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1F 8ZF) while having a bit of a wander off Oxford Street. Excellent flat white – fruity chocolate.
Bean: TAP Jack of Spades Blend (40% Brazil Cruzeiro Natural, 60% Rwanda, Karengera)
Machine: Nuova Simonelli

Bulldog Edition @ Ace Hotel, Shoreditch High Street, London Bulldog Edition @ Ace Hotel, Shoreditch High Street, London
Bulldog Edition @ Ace Hotel, Shoreditch High Street, London Bulldog Edition @ Ace Hotel, Shoreditch High Street, London
Bulldog Edition @ Ace Hotel, Shoreditch High Street, London Bulldog Edition @ Ace Hotel, Shoreditch High Street, London
Bulldog Edition @ Ace Hotel, Shoreditch High Street, London

Had high expectations for the Bulldog Edition at Ace Hotel (100 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JQ). Advertised as a partnership with James Hoffmann of Square Mile, I expected good things. But the drink was bitter – overextracted, suggest some Beanhunter reviewers. At least I now have a place near work to source for SM beans!
Bean: Square Mile Sweetshop Espresso
Machine: La Marzocco Strada

Fleet Street Press Coffee Fleet Street Press Coffee
Fleet Street Press Coffee
Fleet Street Press Coffee Fleet Street Press Coffee

After a good session at The Fleet Street Talks, headed a few doors down to The Fleet Street Press (3 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1AU) to do some work. It was filled with lawyers chatting through ongoing cases and people with dog-collars giving encouraging advice. The flat white was excellent – slightly nutty and chocolatey, with good body.
Bean: Caravan The Press Espresso Blend (75% Coatepec Mexico; 25% La Marianella, Columbia)
Machine: La Marzocco

DunneFrankowski at Sharps, Fitzrovia, London DunneFrankowski at Sharps, Fitzrovia, London
DunneFrankowski at Sharps, Fitzrovia, London DunneFrankowski at Sharps, Fitzrovia, London
DunneFrankowski at Sharps, Fitzrovia, London DunneFrankowski at Sharps, Fitzrovia, London
DunneFrankowski at Sharps, Fitzrovia, London

DunneFrankowski at Sharps Barber and Shop (9 Windmill St, London W1T 2JF) was another brand-name gig. The baristas were chatty to regulars, giving the whole place feeling of community – the stated objective of situating the coffee shop in a barber’s. Flat white was decently citrusy i think, though rather overwhelmed by the ham sandwich that accompanied it.
Bean: a Hasbean blend – can’t remember which one 😦
Machine: Oh my – a Kees van der Westen Spirit Triplette

Artigiano, St. Paul's, London Artigiano, St. Paul's, London
Artigiano, St. Paul's, London Artigiano, St. Paul's, London

Artigiano Espresso Bar (1 Paternoster Square, St Paul’s, London EC4M 7DX) was a pleasant surprise. It looked like a run-of-the-mill Italianate sandwich place you find in every square in the City. We needed a place to chat over Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and this seemed a viable alternative to Starbucks. Good call. In the seasonal espresso hopper was a Burundi. Never tried one of those before. Juicy citrus on almost on the mouth-puckering end – very nice indeed for bright-coffee fiends.
Bean: Origin Burundi Buziraguhindwa Espresso
Machine: La Marzocco

The Good News that is the Gospel

September 22, 2013 2 comments

After the excitement of lunchtime service and staff meeting (where there wasn’t anyone balancing a broom on his nose this time, but a bunch of people trying to explain, unsuccessfully, the Chinese mooncake festival), needed a flat white to calm down for our first study on Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Caravan's Rio Azul Guest Espresso in a flat white at Curators Coffee
Near the drycleaners was Curators Coffee Studio (9 Cullum St, London, EC3M 7JJ) who were hosting a Caravan-roasted Guatemalan guest espresso from Coop Rio Azul in the hopper. A double shot in a large milk yielded faint fruity flavours. The kind baristas then sent over a single shot in small milk but the taste was similarly delicate. Might try a double in small milk next go. Regardless, it was good to have caffeine around for Romans 1:1-17. There were two surprises in the text:

  • that the gospel isn’t simply Two Ways To Live (although it encompasses that) – the gospel (“good news”) is that Jesus Christ is the Son of David and Son of God promised by God through the prophets through ages past (as set out in the Old Testament);
  • that because (i) Son of David and Son of God promised by God is to be given authority over all of creation, and (ii) by the fact of his resurrection from the dead, Jesus has been proved to be this king, then:
    • the gospel is for all nations because Jesus rules over the whole world; and
    • the gospel isn’t just to convert people to Christianity – it continues to be good news for those who are already saved because it isn’t primarily about the salvation of humans but about the kingship of Christ and the glory of God. This is why Paul is eager to preach the gospel to the Romans, who were already known for their faith. He wasn’t planning on a Billy Graham crusade. Rather, he looked for the mutual encouragement that proclaiming the gospel would have for their obedience of faith in Jesus.

Evangelical Ministry Assembly 2013, More Flat Whites

June 29, 2013 Leave a comment

On the last day of the Evangelical Ministry Assembly 2013, we said tearful goodbyes to the (mostly) African brothers and sisters, classmates for the past year, heading back to their countries, never expecting to see them again in this lifetime. “See you in the new creation,” we said as we hugged and waved.

A good few days of talks from Vaughan Roberts on 1 Peter and from Mark Dever,

firemen in our backgarden bonfire in backgarden

but the subject of some discussion as we sat drinking tea and watching the dying bonfire in our backgarden (after the firemen had left) was Garry Williams’ talk on Augustine. In his City of God, Augustine says:

  • there are only two cities: the earthly city and the city of God;
  • the earthly city is not to be identified with any specific city in this world – it is merely where unregenerate men are;
  • the earthly city is satanic (in the sense that it , not in a trite horror movie sense);
  • both the earthly city and the city of God are driven by love: the city of God is driven by love of God and desire for his glory, the earthly city is driven by love of self and desire for self-glory;
  • the earthly city lives a life of disordered love, sin being loving a good God-created thing wrongly;
  • the earthly city is necessarily divided amongst itself because everyone is driven by the desire for self-glory;
  • the earthly city ends in eternal death.

The implication of this is:

  • there is no neutral ground, so citizens of the city of God should expect grave conflict. Whoever said that the state is neutral? If you get one sinner on stage, you have one sinner. Add another and you have two sinners. Add several more and you have a collection of sinners – they don’t suddenly become neutral. So do not drop your guard and share the values of the world;
  • don’t pin your hopes on the earthly empire, but have eschatological restlessness. Do not mourn the passing of “Christian Britain” or “Christian America”. Use the things of the earthly empire for other ends, with the right priority of loves (love for God rather than love for self, or indeed love for husband or wife or children).

But, where is this earthly city? It is not “out there”; it is in us. In this life, even within the regenerate, there are the warring remnants of the earthly city. We do not do things with pure motives. Augustine goes into great detail about his contemporary struggles in his Confessions. As the Vandals (the tribe) surrounded Augustine’s north African city and as the Roman empire fell, Augustine lay dying in bed. He requested no visitors. He had 4 psalms of repentance copied and hung the walls around him and spent his last days repenting. Remember we are not justified by the sinlessness of our ministry but by the blood of Jesus, so keep coming back to him in repentance.

In considering using the things of this earthly empire for city-of-God good, we wondered about the place of good coffee and coffee joints…

Association Coffee Association Coffee
Association Coffee (12 Creechurch Ln City of London, EC3A 5AY).

Workshop Coffee, Clerkenwell Workshop Coffee, Clerkenwell
Workshop Coffee, Clerkenwell Workshop Coffee, Clerkenwell
Workshop Coffee, Clerkenwell Workshop Coffee, Clerkenwell
Workshop Coffee (27 Clerkenwell Road London, Greater London EC1M 5RN). Cult of Done Espresso = 100% Thunguri AB (Lot #0202), Kenya.

Salvation Jane Salvation Jane
Salvation Jane Salvation Jane
Salvation Jane (Unit 2, 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road, Shoreditch, EC1 Y1HQ). Someone’s very generous visiting parental bought us all lunch and coffees here.

Fernandez & Wells Fernandez & Wells
Fernandez & Wells Fernandez & Wells
Fernandez & Wells (Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA)

Look Ma No Hands Look Ma No Hands
Look Ma No Hands Look Ma No Hands
Look Ma No Hands Look Ma No Hands
Look Mum No Hands! (49 Old Street, London EC1V 9HX).

Monmouth Coffee, Borough Monmouth Coffee, Borough
Monmouth Coffee, Borough Monmouth Coffee, Borough
Monmouth Coffee, Borough Monmouth Coffee, Borough
Monmouth Coffee (2 Park Street, The Borough, London SE1 9AB) – not too fond of the dark roast tendencies here.

Jaguar Shoes, Shoreditch Jaguar Shoes, Shoreditch
Jaguar Shoes, Shoreditch
Jaguar Shoes (32-36 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London E2 8DA) – art, fashion, music, party space that doesn’t sell shoes.

Refreshment Room, Lauriston Road Refreshment Room, Lauriston Road
Refreshment Room at The Deli Downstairs (211 Victoria Park Road, Victoria Park Village, London E9 7JN).

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