Archives For Life

Jerusalem Cook BookPart of our teaching plan for this year is to introduce koine Greek to our kids. We’ve covered some basic “common” Greek words in the past, however, we’d like to dig a little deeper.

Being a Christian homeschooling family we read the Biblical texts together on a regular basis. For brevity we use the NLT life application bible for guys and girls. Every child has one. Each child gets to participate.

Contextual issues matter. Taking them into consideration helps us to focus more on how the text reads us and less about how we read it.This forms part of our overall approach to education where careful reading and critical thinking takes precedence over how we might feel about the subject.

For example, only after establishing what the biblical text says and in turn what it might be saying to us, do we discuss how we might feel about the text.

English translations of the bible have their limitations. Greek words and their definitions don’t always neatly match up with our English ones. Then there are cultural and historical differences.

By filling in the cultural and historical context, I can add some genuine flare to the events that are recounted to us on each page. There are many ways that this can be achieved such as, food. For this purpose, we purchased a Middle Eastern cookbook called, ‘Jerusalem[i]’ and are cooking our way slowly through it.

If you were considering introducing koine Greek, there are some helpful, low-cost, materials available:

1. Greek Alphabet PDF

2. Greek Lessons [Kids Greek – may require some payment for advanced lessons]

3. Fun,  koine Greek alphabet song for correct pronunciation.

4.N.T Greek Studies: Children’s Greek

By engaging on this level we allow God to speak for Himself about Himself. God proves His own existence (Psalm 18). Since He does this through His Word and deeds in Jesus Christ, it pays to pay attention to where He has chosen to reveal Himself. Humanity doesn’t get to determine when and where this happens or has happened. (John 3:8)

God is free and as such is not bound to a human determination of what, who and where we might be tempted to say that God is, or should be. Knowledge of God comes from God. The only requirement for men and women is to acknowledge the how, where and when.

The where and when are in how God reveals Himself in both His dealings with Israel {covenants} and in Jesus Christ. The biblical text is a testimony to this. With the aid of the Holy Spirit we hear and see His choice, His wanderings and His incarnation among us.

The bible is part of this testimony. Warts and all it’s a compilation of books that reflect a rule of faith. This rule is the consistency of God who communicates Himself in ways we can understand. He wills to be for us, with us, and to not be without us[ii].

Through studying the Biblical text we find ourselves learning important language and social skills.For a time homeschool becomes a “house” church; doing theology in community. From here our homeschoolers develop their own ability to think for themselves, trust God’s guidance, serve others and process information in a balanced way.

In addition, the Judeo-Christian ethic is Middle Eastern. Reading the biblical text takes us out of our cultural comfort zone. Through every preposition, verb, metaphor, figurative narrative, historical event and genre, we are presented with a challenge to our Western way of thinking, being and doing.

It moves us from an otherwise immovable position. It addresses the blind spot in the Jo-Hari window and moves us towards its remedy.

The Gospel is Good News. Through it God proclaims emancipation. It teaches us that our place in the world and in history is not all there is. In short, our focus is shifted from being entirely on ourselves and instead our focus is shifted onto God’s revelation in Jesus Christ; concrete evidence that God exists. In His Son, Jesus Christ we don’t just witness THE messenger, but see and hear THE Message itself.

This Message walks, talks, prays, commands, comforts and speaks. When we pick up the Biblical texts and read them in a deeper way, we encounter the one who wills to encounter us, the author of life.



[i] We’ve cooked some of the recipes in this and can recommend it!

[ii] Karl Barth

IMG_0456 I’m a big fan of Karl Barth’s wonder which is expressed in his teaching about the beauty of relationship, reconciliation and the seemingly paradoxical polar connectivity between a man and a woman.

Both equally unique, but finding a necessary limitation in freedom, in order that such freedom can remain true freedom.

How, ‘God sets us free to be free for Him and as a result free for each other – the man for the woman, the woman for the man, both free for God, who in Jesus Christ, chooses and has chosen to be free for both’ [i]

All of that can be summarised as: Love and responsibility; ‘freedom in limitation’ because humanity cannot have only one in isolation from the other, without destroying both.

Source: [i]  Barth, K. 1951, CD.III:4 (paraphrased) Tentative recommendation: Love & Responsibility, Karol Wojtyla [Pope John Paul II] Image is mine. Related post: When a Man Loves a Woman: Barth’s Freedom in Fellowship

Joy & Provision.


Protection & Hope.




Wisdom & Reverence.


Jesus Is Victor.

Jesus is Victor



Photographer: Ian Adams 

Source: Beloved Life



Maturity moves forward through humilitySpeaking on Spirit and Truth in his 1996 book, ‘Flame of Love’, Clark Pinnock writes that ‘maturity’[i] moves forward through humility.

According to Pinnock, biblically speaking, Mary is ‘our example’. Like her, we need time to ponder ‘profound matters and make them our own’[ii].

Pinnock also writes that the ‘Spirit helps us develop our understanding’[iii].

He suggests that ‘revelation is not a closed system of propositional truths but a divine self-disclosure that continues to open up and challenge’[iv].

Pinnock looks at revelation in terms of the Spirit revealing truth; truth being Jesus Christ, the Word, who is presented to us and present with us, the former ‘’being’’ revealed in the Biblical accounts[v], the same and latter ‘’being’’, acknowledged by the God-who-is-with-us in the present activity of the Holy Spirit.

For example:

‘Divine activity enables believers to interact in the course of their Bible reading. The Spirit causes the Word to be heard and opens up the truth, helping readers experience and communicate it’[vi].

In similar terms, for Pinnock, the humility within our response to the Spirit is what allows us to see.

Having a teachable attitude (read: heart and mind) empowers our learning and becoming; this employs an idea of theosislike Christ. Those who have responded to the call of grace understand the call to repentance, as they embrace total accountability before God.

Simply put: ‘human responsibility’ is to learn what the ‘Spirit wants to teach us’. Pinnock writes: ‘if hearing and receiving are undisciplined, teaching may come to naught…The Spirit wants to teach us, but human responsibility is required if real learning is to occur’[vii].

Of importance to the Christian here is that Pinnock points us towards the value of humility in the Spirit led life of a Christian. Such as:

‘The Spirit, as the one who interprets the meaning of Jesus in the community over time’[viii].

For me this reading has been a reminder of the Holy Spirit’s ability to work through our humility in order to mature us. In sanctification the Holy Spirit develops within us an understanding of just-justification, and as a consequence, a full acknowledgement of how God’s grace is received, and how God’s grace is rejected.

Pinnock, in a similar tone to that of Ambrose of Milan states that ‘humility is fundamental for growing as hearers’ of the word; therefore ‘always be open to improved insight’[ix].

This consideration is not far from Karl Barth’s thought when he writes:

‘Revelation is a movement…This movement is the divine act of Lordship – God-present-with-us… here divine time is in the midst of our time. When revelation takes place, it never does so by means of our insight and skill, but in the freedom of God to be free for us and to free us from ourselves, that is to say, to let His light shine in our darkness, which as such does not comprehend His light’[x]

According to John, Jesus once said “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (Jn.12:48, ESV).

Could this only mean then, that those among us who reject grace, instead, earn for themselves just-judgement?

With this in mind, is it fair then to propose that we reject grace when we reject the opportunity to learn? And then if we reject the opportunity to learn, do we unwittingly reject the Holy Spirit?

One possible answer is that whether grace is received or rejected, it ultimately rests first in the Spirit. Secondly, in humility , and thirdly, in the response of gratitude for God’s movement towards us, as understood and taught by Barth.

If God is able and I am not, then:

‘Let us, with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need’

(Hebrews 4:16, ESV).

[i] Pinnock, C. 1996, Flame of Love InterVarsity Press pp.218, 219
[ii] Ibid, p.219
[iii] Ibid, p.221
[iv] Ibid, p.221
[v] Ibid, p.242
[vi] Ibid, p.229
[vii] Ibid, p.244
[viii] Ibid, p.233
[ix] Ibid, p.222
[x]  ‘God’s time in our time’, Barth, K.1938 Church Dogmatics 1.2:65, Hendrickson Publishers & see Webster.J, 2000 Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth, Cambridge University Press, p.13

Within the Biblical narratives we find that the word Eagle is used metaphorically on regular basis . If you have the time they really are worth checking out.

Among others, a couple that really stand out to me are: …’they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;   they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary;  they shall walk and not faint’ (Is. 40:31). …’But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time’ (Rev.12:14, ESV).

As with the literary function of ”Eagle”,  the image of flight is inescapable when carried by the metaphor ”wings”. Obvious stuff right? right. (…bear with me here for a minute)

According to the literary contexts an action such as flight is to be understood as fleeing from something like, say, persecution. For example: The OT authors use fleeing  ‘160 times’ (Vines Expository Dictionary) often utilizing the term flight: phuge: (φυγή), akin to pheugo (see flee) (Vines Expository Dictionary).

What is not so obvious is that hidden within the “from”, there also exists the imperative “into or towards”.

Therefore, if we focus too much on the “flee from” we are sure to overlook the possibility of an inherent and implied ‘paradox  “flee to/into”. (See Song of Songs 8:14, Vines Expository Dictionary)

From the biblical witness we know that one of the unique dynamics about God’s divine passionate act on our behalf is rescue.

Not just relief.

Evidence of this can be seen in the use of the term ‘refuge’ often associated with the use of the words ‘shadow and wings’. For example: ‘Shadow of your wings’; ‘take refuge’ – Psalms.36:7; 57:1; ; 63:7; 91, Isaiah 49:2; 51:16 ‘in the shadow of His hand He hid me’. Clearly the themes we can identify here are strength, uncertainty, protection, guidance and invitation.

Christopher Wright states in his book ‘The Mission of God’ that the two key ‘similarities that exist between the Exodus and the Cross’ (2006:278) are firstly, the ‘Israelites were slaves to the wrong master and needed to be reclaimed’ (2006:284). Secondly, both ‘demonstrate that Yahweh is truly God’ (2006:266).This is because they are ‘God’s great declarations of intentional… intervention’ (2006:266 & 285), that subsequently involve a relational response to the spiritual, social and political enslavement of humanity. I.e. humanities ‘sin and exile’ (2006:285) from God.

Wright is on target. He points out that although there a ‘differences between the two events such as redemption in the Exodus is specific to the people of Israel’ (2006:276). The lessons that God speaks to us through each of these events directly point us towards the One who chooses to step in, speak and act on our behalf. I.e.: ‘God’s great declaration of intentional intervention’ (Wright)

For me this jaw dropping and awe-inspiring. It is the “Yes, but…” with which God chooses to addresses us, something I think that Karl Barth heard clearly and repeatedly proclaimed.

We may stumble, we may fall, but that does not eliminate the fact that we have so much to be grateful for. May we have the strength to hear and acknowledge Father, Son and Spirit as we are acknowledged by Him.

God has granted us permission and empowered us to align our lives with His.

In this direction we must fly…

literally…well, almost literally…:) have a great weekend.

Location of the video: France, Alpine region.


Wright, C.J.H 2006 The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative Inter-Varsity Press Nottingham England
Image from