The True Tall Tale

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“No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is – it’s true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story – the Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of this Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle, the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.”

The Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones)

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Phillip Micknon vs. Frances Bacon

What’s the point of having a website with a nominal audience if you can’t harness that power to answer all important, life-consuming questions?

I think Filet Mignon is far better than bacon. Bacon tastes like salt (albeit tasty fried salt) but Filet Mignon (well prepared) is amazing. My wife disagrees with me and believes bacon is more important. I disagree and put it to a vote.

 

OK, fine, if you want something regarding Spain, how about Kosher jamón or Halal jamón (Muslim approved jamón).  Jamón (with that nice accent) is the cured ham hocks found all over Spain. They really are quite tasty.

The Wayback Machine

Article the First. Mr. Peabody and Sherman was quite entertaining. I don’t know the last time I saw my son (5) laugh so much during a movie. That alone was worth it. It was strange noting the dramatic action was all about adoption and the state trying to take away Sherman from Mr. Peabody, who was a dog.

Article the Second. In college I once told a telemarketer (or as I termed them, prank calls who called you), that in order for me to get a credit card I needed to have the dog sign for it, since he was my legal guardian. This was after my parents had died and the trust dictated that the dog was in fact the one who needed to “sign” for anything like a credit card. This went on for a while. Hopefully she had a good day and realized it was a joke.

Article the Third. This brings me to the final point, one thing to remember is that nothing on the internet is every truly gone. Proof of this is the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. I found my old college blog on it, where nearly 10 years ago I waxed eloquently on things like the birth of Facebook, World of Warcraft, and failed to use proper capitalization and punctuation.

I give you Blueturismo.com (circa 2005, but it goes back older than that)

If you can’t laugh at yourself this life will be very boring.

Are the Old Testament Saints in Heaven … (Part 3)

Please review both of them first (in order mind you). First off, I write this at the behest of a friend, whose encouragement for these little articles makes me know at least one person is reading them.

What’s the New Testament say?

One argument that I hear is that Sheol in the OT means grave, because, look at its usage in context. That’s all fine and good, though I don’t think it accounts for the richness of the Hebrew language. But I think it begins to fall apart when one takes into account the New Testament usage of the word Hades.

When the OT was translated in the lingua franca of the day Greek, they made some curious editorial choices. One of those was to translate the word Sheol as Hades. Now if you know your Greek mythology (you can consult Disney’s Hercules if you need a quick refresher), you’ll notice that Hades has a lot of cultural baggage associated with it. It is the god of the underworld and the underworld (both named Hades). In Greek mythology it was the place that disembodied souls went. As an aside Greek has a word for grave tophos, which means the place where you put dead bodied.

It would be like today, translating a word we think means “grave” as “hell.” You’d probably be inclined to say – why don’t we use “grave” instead, since people often associate hell was some incorporeal afterlife motif. I’d agree with you. So when the Greek OT uses Hades for nearly all usages of the Hebrew that makes you wonder.

Well how does the NT use the word Hades? In nearly all cases it doesn’t seem to be “grave.” Matt 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31; Rev. 1:18; 6:8; 20:13–14; and one use of Tartarus in 2 Pet. 2:4 (compare Jude 6). Also there is something “under the earth” (Rev. 5:3, 13; Phil 2:10).

So let’s walk through some of these:

Tartarus is not synonymous with Hades but it’s pretty close (and the ESV actually used the word “hell” when translating it in 2 Pet. 2:4). But the rich man ends up in Hades after he dies in a parable of Jesus (Luke 16). Hades has gates (Matt. 16:18); a key (Rev. 1:18; cf., Rev. 20:1 a key to the bottomless pit), houses the dead (Rev. 20:13-14), and even a personified rider who rides with death (Rev. 6:8).

Heaven is juxtaposed with Hades (Matt. 16:18; Luke 10:15; see also the Apostles’ Creed) and Jesus is “there” in Hades (Acts 2:27, 31) or rather, was there, but unlike David (Ps. 16) is now in heaven (Acts 1; cf., Rom. 10:6-8).

Evil angels are tossed into this bottomless pit called Tartarus (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6) and something exists “under the earth” to both bow down at the name of Jesus and not be found to be able to open the scroll of the book of life (Phil. 2:10 and Rev. 5:3, 13; respectively).

Conclusion

So the NT, when read in light of the Pseudepigrapha and the OT, seems to say that Hades is a real place. Hades looks to be very similar to Sheol and people exist there in some form. If the NT has any bearing on the OT, I don’t think it’s acceptable to read every instance of Sheol as grave, but rather a place disembodied souls went to. Now that brings to it a much bigger question – what happened to the OT saints after Jesus came…?

Update: By the way, you should see Hell, Hades, Gehenna and the Realm of the Dead (Acts 2:27) by Bill Mounce which goes into some difference between the Gehenna and Hades. He confirms most of what I think I’ve said above.

[Link] The Missionary Life

The Missionary Life: No Shortcuts, post by Evan Burns at the Gospel Coalition is a short little read but it’s a good one. He lists out two main things he would tell any missionary candidate entering the field.

1. Theological Education
I don’t think he necessarily means a formal education, he is speaking against a theological minimalism. I often hear that churches have to work together much more on the field than they do in the States. I can’t speak to that, but there is a way in which that is good – when we align and focus on the majors. But when churches add secondary or even tertiary doctrine up to first level doctrine, this is where I think the line has to be drawn. I think Evan agrees with that assessment. We need to know what Christianity is, what a church is, what theology is, if we can effectively be of any use.

2. Learning to Suffer
I haven’t been a missionary yet. I’d have to have someone else comment on this, but I think this applies to any Christian service, stateside or abroad. There is suffering involved with Christian ministry. But nonetheless it is wise words to remember that this isn’t a chance just to live abroad but service to Christ and the expansion of his Kingdom, which comes at a cost.

I also wanted to shamelessly steal his quote that he shares from Eckhard Schnabel’s Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies, and Methods 

Missionaries, evangelists, and teachers who have understood both the scandal of the cross and the irreplaceable and foundational significance of the news of Jesus the crucified and risen Messiah and Savior will not rely on strategies, models, methods, or techniques. They rely on the presence of God when they proclaim Jesus Christ, and on the effective power of the Holy Spirit. This dependence on God rather than on methods liberates them from following every new fad, from using only one particular method, from using always the same techniques, and from copying methods and techniques from others whose ministry is deemed successful.

Parents Survival Guide

I don’t know why I like posting about resources so much, but I do. Live with it (or don’t; please don’t go!). I recently obtained my MA in Theological Studies and with that came a decent bit of pride. During my studies I remember thinking – surely I can do my own devotions. Never mind the myriad of things that demand my time and that would likely make these poorly thought out devotions.

But as Christian parents our main objective, pastorate, mission field, whatever, is that we raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. The good news is that parents with real faith, acted out in their home, tend to pass that along to their children (see this article by Kevin DeYoung which I have seen confirmed in other sources). So let us not neglect our primary duty as parents.

A quick list of resources I like:

Long Story Short / Old Story New by Marty Machowski are just simply excellent. They can be easily read and discussed with no prior reading. We use these on and off and this is just simply one of the easiest ways to do devotions in your house. My minor complaint is that the praying a prayer or decision based evangelicalism is present in the book and so I’ll just rework the prayers at the end (when that crops up, this is a personal preference and a different in emphasis between myself and the author, a minor point in other words).

The ARP Psalter: we use this at night to read before bed. The ARP Psalter, which is really just the RPCNA’s Psalter (The Book of Psalms for Worship) with our added Bible songs (so sue me, I’m an ARP, I like the ARP Psalter). Any Psalter will do, the Trinity has one as well. But this is a way to just experience the Psalms (and hymnody and poetry) that I think is good for a child. It is good for me to read the psalms in a slightly different setting than straight from the Bible – it reminds us that they are songs.

The First Catechism: this is a simplified and expanded version of the Westminster Shorter Catechism for children. I don’t think it can be stressed enough how important it is to give our kids a theological vocabulary. Like learning grammar our children need to learn what are the important words/concepts of our faith (like justification, covenant, etc). And one thing I actually like about the First Catechism over the Shorter is that it has a question directly on covenant:

Q. 24. What is a covenant?
A. A relationship that God establishes with us and guarantees by his word.

Brilliant!

In Conclusion:

We don’t do all of these things all the time. We are most consistent with reading the Psalter at night. My son enjoys doing it. He also now picks one at random after we read the next one in consecutive order each night.

The main thing I think as a parent, which I struggle with, is to have a living faith, fueled by the Word of God that allows you to pour into your kids. That’s the place to start, these resources are just to help us with busy schedules, not neglect the teaching that we need to do. May our children know that we love them and God loves them.

Got any others that are worth it, let me know in the comments.