“Who goes there?” yelled an angry guard orc.
If you do not understand why Dave is in this predicament, it would probably be best to go back and read the first two segments of this story: first and second.
“Who goes there?” yelled the angry guard orc, for the third time now.
Dave contemplated what he should say to the orc. Should he tell the orc a lie and that he was just an ordinary used wagon salesman passing, on his way to the monster wagon derby? Or should he tell the truth and risk the orc attacking him? Dave decided on the latter, because he had once heard that it was not right to lie.
“My name is Dave, and I am destined to vanquish the orcs and restore Arcadia to its former glory!”
Apparenty no one had ever told the orc that honesty is the best policy, because the truth that Dave told angered the orc greatly. With a strange mixture of a grunt and a shout (sounding kind of like a “graarrrrrghhhhhumph”), the orc charged Dave with a dull and rusty battle axe (It was government issued).
Dave had never actually used the raspberry sword before, he had never used any sword before! Should he swing and jab? Should he jab and swing? Or maybe even he should slash and thrash aimlessly, hoping to eventually hit something? He knew at least one thing, if he was going to slash, thrash, swing, or jab, he would need to at least unsheathe the sword.
Dave pulled the Raspberry Sword out of the sheath. A purple glow emitted from the sword, the singing of angels came from out of the sheath. Dave held onto the hilt of the sword with both hands, his arms a little shaky out of fear and the fact that his puny arms were too weak to confidently hold the sword without wobbling.
“Graarrrrrghhhhhumph”, grunt/shouted the orc as he charged. But as he approached Dave, ready to swing his axe, which he loving referred to as the Grand Tetanus, he stopped dead in his tracks.
Sniff Sniff “Do I smell raspberries?” The orc asked.
Now would be a good time to note that the Raspberry Sword did not simply taste like raspberries, but it also smelled like them. I am not saying that it smells like fake raspberry flavor like you get in candy, it smells like the fresh scent of a field of raspberries, ready to be picked and consumed.
Realizing that it was the Raspberry Sword that smelled like raspberries, the orc snatched the sword from Dave’s hand and began to lick the sword. The orc enjoyed the taste of the raspberries so much that he continued to lick. We will not go into detail about the disturbing and gruesome things that Dave beheld next. Suffice it to say that the orc licked the sword to death.
Now there was nothing standing in the way of Dave, Sal, and the Arcadian Castle. Dave looked up the hill to where the castle sat. Dark clouds and lighting swirled around the castle, ominous music played over speakers hidden around the castle’s property.
As Dave walked up the hill to the Arcadian Castle, he approached multiple signs telling him to turn back. They said, in this order, “Turn Back”, “Turn Back Now”, Seriously, Turn Back”, “This is Your Final Warning”, “Pretty Please, Turn Back!”, “Why Aren’t You Listening?”, and, “Turn Back or I am telling Mom!”
Dave walked passed the warning signs and came upon a large tourist sign that said “I Heart Arcadian Castle”! Dave whipped out his cell phone. He asked the nearest orc to take a picture of him and Sal in front of the sign.
The orc said, “Sure pal! Smile and say ‘Swiss!”
“Swiss!” This would be a picture to remember for years to come.
The door to the castle stood in front of him. What will Dave encounter on the other side of the door? How will our hero’s story end? Tune in next week for the fourth part of the Dave and the Raspberry Sword trilogy!
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This story is a continuation of Dave and the Raspberry Sword, which you can read here. Be sure to check it out. Seriously. This story will make no sense if you don’t.
Dave assumed that the way that he was going to “restore order to Arcadia,” as the Queen of all Berries had said, he would need to go to the Arcadian Castle. Arcadian Castle was the largest castle in the entire land of Arcadia. The fact that both the names of the land and the castle were “Arcadia” was completely coincidental. Do you know how at work there are two people with the last name Fisher, and they always are hanging out together but they are not related at all? You know no one else with the last name Fisher in the entire world, but two of them are working in your office building but aren’t related. It is uncanny, but it happens. Nevertheless, the largest castle in the land of Arcadia was the Arcadian Castle.
Arcadian Castle was built by King Arcadia. On second thought, I may have drained this joke dry. Arcadian Castle was built by King Hank the 3rd. He was a benevolent ruler, who would often walk through the gardens with the children of Arcadia. He won the love and affection of the people by often giving out gift cards to Olive Garden.
The Arcadian Castle was supposed to be nigh impenetrable. The only weak point was the thermal exhaust port. Curiously enough, this was a problem that they were fully aware of but did nothing about, assuming that no one would take advantage of said weakness. The orcs did.
Because the orcs now occupied Arcadian Castle, it made sense for Dave to storm the castle and win it back. But in order to get to Arcadian Castle, Dave would need to go through the Forest of Blistering Insults. Many years ago, an apprentice sorceress was practicing spells when she accidentally cursed an entire forest. Now the trees insult people whenever they try to walk through the forest. The trees don’t hold back either! They don’t say things like “You’re stupid” or “I know what you are but what am I?” instead they cut deep into your deepest fears and anxieties. They say things like “Your mother never loved you,” or, “You forgot to turn the stove off when you left the house.” It is for this reason that few people have successfully been able to walk through the Forest of Blistering Insults.
Dave was filled with fear and trepidation as he approached the forest. As he got closer, he saw a small building that looked like a toll booth. A short man with a beard was sitting in the building. When the short man saw Dave, his ears perked up and he sprang into action.
“Howdy stranger!” the little man said, “Do you plan on walking through the Forest of Blistering Insults today?”
“Yes sir!” Dave answered.
“And what business do you have traveling through the Forest of Blistering Insults on this fine day?” the little man probed.
Dave did not know how much of the story he should tell, or if he should tell it at all. He decided on the most simple answer possible, “I plan on going to the Arcadian Castle with this sword that was given to me by the Queen of All Berries that tastes like berries in order to overthrow the orcs and restore order into the land of Arcadia.”
The little man wrote down Dave’s answer on the form, “And just for clarification, does the castle, the sword, or the Queen taste like berries. Your last sentence was incredibly unclear.”
“The sword,” Dave replied, as he unsheathed the Raspberry Sword to show it off.
“Oh, wow, that doesn’t make any sense at all.”
“I know, right!”
“Sign here please,” the little man said as he handed Dave an official looking form.
“What is this?” Dave asked.
“Welp, this here is a medical release form. Signing this simply states that we are not responsible for any damages done to your person or possessions physical, emotional, or otherwise. And that you will not sue us in case of something really bad happening to you.”
Dave was getting nervous, “I don’t like signing things before reading them carefully. Give me a minute.”
After 10 minutes of meticulously reading over the contract, Dave signed.
“You may now proceed,” the little man said as he jumped back into his toll booth to continue his Janette Oke book.
Dave began to journey into the Forest of Blistering Insults. What would happen to him when he got into the forest? Dave feared what pains and fears in his life would be highlighted before his eyes.
Suddenly he heard a voice call out in a dark, lonesome way, “Your credit score is 452, you will never be approved for a loan!”
Dave had owned this unfortunate truth in his life, he had made some unwise financial decisions when he was younger. This did not faze him.
“Your nose is too big,” one said.
“Your hair cut is stupid,” said another
“You’re worthless, Dave” began a chorus of trees. The insults, personal jabs, and unkind observations grew into an inaudible cacophony of torture with a common theme being heard above all the rest, “You’re worthless, Dave. You’re worthless.”
Undeterred, Dave pressed on. Sal became so frightened that he cowered in fear and insisted for Dave to hold him with his sad little bleating sounds.
The noises of the forest began to subside. As the insults became quieter and quieter, the light at the end of the forest grew brighter and brighter. Dave reached the edge of the forest, having successfully made it through, whereas many before him, and many after him, were not able to do so.
The big question that may be on your mind is why Dave was able to handle the tortures of the Forest of Blistering Insults, after all, we have already established pretty well that Dave is a pathetic man. It is likely that the forces that be were preparing Dave for a very long time for this very moment. Someday, Dave would have to thank his mother in law for constantly insulting and belittling him, there was nothing that the forest could say that could possibly be any meaner than what she would often say.
However, as Dave exited the forest, he walked right into something that shook him to his core- An orc.
“Who goes there?”The orc asked.
Dave looked down at Sal, “It looks like we will have to wait for the next blog post to find out what happens to us,” he said, “Hopefully the writer will be kind enough to allow us to survive this!”
And with that, this chapter in the story of Dave and the Raspberry Sword was over.
Stay tuned for part 3 of this fascinating 4 part trilogy!
I recently came into contact with an article about why churches need to ditch projection screens and go back to using hymnals. I am going out on a limb with this post, because I have several friends who have posted, and agree to this blog.
It is important, I believe, for anyone reading to know about my background in order to understand the heart with which I write this post. I am an old-fashioned Baptist; I grew up as conservative as they come and I still see myself as very conservative, more so than most of my peers and colleagues in the ministry. I do not listen to much contemporary Christian music, and my personal opinion (emphasis on opinion) is that much of CCM has no place in the church. For much of my church-going life I have used a hymnal, I enjoy singing from a hymnal, and I plan to continue to use a hymnal.
Furthermore, those who know me also know that I am the last person to argue about anything. Our first episode of The Bible Burrito affirms this! On that token, this is not meant to be an argument. I wish no ill will on anyone who prefers hymnals over screens, screens over hymnals, both, or neither.
However, as I read this article, I found some things that, I believe, need to be addressed. There are three main things that I would like to address in this article:
“Projection Screens Reflect our Tech Obsessed Culture”
Did Christians and “traditionalists” make this same accusation when hymnals were first introduced into the church? At some point, hymnals were the “new tech” of the time. I know that is hard for us to wrap our minds around because it doesn’t have a sleek silver or white look and it doesn’t have a half eaten apple on the back, but hymnals (books in general) were once the new tech of the time. So was air conditioning, indoor plumbing, computers. Yet we use all of those things and embrace them in the church. Why should we treat projection screens any differently than the other tech that churches use and have utilized for years?
I am not going to lie and say that we are not living in a tech obsessed culture. And if a projection screen becomes the object of our obsession in the church, rather than Christ, I am in agreement that a projection screen should be gotten rid of. However, tech is not the enemy of the church. Tech can and should be reasonably utilized for the advancement of the church and the Gospel.
“As hymnals fade, theology suffers”
As I said, I love the old hymns. I am stirred with excitement when our song leader stands up and says “turn to number ___ in your hymnals, we are going to sing It Is Well With My Soul!” And heaven help the fool who skips over verse 3, because I will cut them!
The use of projection screens does not take away from singing those old hymns. It just puts the words to those hymns from one place to another. Admittedly, a screen does allow for more flexibility than the songs that are in the hymnal (in other words, and what many are afraid of, CCM music) but that does not mean that hymns are excluded from screens.
Furthermore, when we say “as hymnals fade, doctrine fades”, that is walking into some sticky territory when it comes to how we learn doctrine. I agree that songs are a great way to reinforce doctrine. In my last sermon, I drove home the point of my sermon by reciting the beautiful hymn “Softly and Tenderly”. However, we should not elevate hymnals to the place of Scripture.
My doctrine does not come from a hymn book, it comes from the Bible. In fact, it is incredibly dangerous to get our doctrine from hymnals, because those old hymns, as great as they are, were written by fallible man who often had improper theological beliefs which seep into the lyrics of those songs. The same, clearly, can be said about the contemporary songs that many churches are afraid of. If you are receiving your doctrine from music, of any kind, rather than the Bible, your theology is going to be wrong.
“Screens change the sermon receiving experience”
This is a smaller point, but I agree with the author here. Yes, screens do change the sermon receiving experience—— screens can enhance it! When we use screens appropriately, it can make the sermon more memorable and “stickable”. I have observed that a sermon can be enhanced by screens in these ways: Sermon notes projected on the screen that congregants can use to follow along with their own “fill in the blank notes”, Scriptures that are cross references to the main Scripture of the day, and maps/pictures of geographical areas that are being referenced in the sermon (ex. here is a pic of the remains of the synagogue that Jesus preached in when visiting Nazareth!). Can screens change the sermon receiving experience for the worse? Yes, just like practically any other tool in the world can. But when done properly, screens can enhance the sermon receiving experience.
In closing, I will say that there are benefits to the hymnal over projection screens. One benefit is that hymnals show the harmonizing notes. This point is becoming more and more moot, considering that many people cannot read music. However, I love to be able to look at my hymnal and see the notes for harmonizing parts. Harmony makes songs more beautiful. And, as of yet, screens have not been able to capture that elegance.
Secondly, hymnals are a repository of songs that you simply will not get anywhere else. I love sitting down sometimes and thumbing through a hymnal, looking at all of the songs. That is something that simply cannot happen with a screen.
The point I am making is this: I love hymnals, and plan on continuing to use them. However, I will not dogmatically say, “Hymns are good, screens are bad!” Because that is simply not true. One final piece of advice that I learned my dad is this, “Scream where the Bible is loud, but whisper where the Bible is silent.” I believe that phrase sums this argument up perfectly! The screens vs. hymns argument should not be anyone’s hill to die on. The purity of the church does not hang in the balance because of this argument, neither does any doctrinal standing. There are many other fronts on which the church is losing right now that we ought to be SUPER concerned about. This is not one of them.
If you are anything like me, the last few days you have been thinking a lot about the Christmas story. The birth of Christ is one of the most beautiful, picturesque stories in the entire Bible. Luke 2 captures the events of Christ’s birth perfectly. However, I would argue that it almost does so too perfectly.
Now, I am not saying that the Bible is messed up or incorrect, my claim in this post is that we, in our 21st century minds, have sanitized and sterilized the story of Christ’s birth so much that we forget that Luke 2 is about real people that are dealing with real life problems. Luke 2 is not a fairy tale, it is a real event that deals with real people with real emotions. In fact, when we dive into the Christmas story, you might see how it is more “human” than many other stories of the Bible!
Why Were They In Bethlehem?
In Luke 2, everyone went back to their city of origin to be taxed. Now, this was more than just a yearly income type tax, this was a major census. Caesar Augustus (v. 1) wanted to take stock of how many people lived under his rule, the verse says the “whole world should be taxed” as in, the whole Roman Empire. It is amazing that the events that got Mary and Joseph into Bethlehem were not some strange, cosmological happenings where all the stars lined up perfectly and then POOF they were there. Christ was born in Bethlehem because of a tax and a census. The next time you are tempted to complain about taxes, don’t forget that it was a tax that got Jesus to Bethlehem. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, we will ALL still complain about taxes!
Why Was There No Room In the Inn?
Kreig and I deal with this some in our latest Christmas episode, so I will not belabor this point too much. However, we need to cut this “innkeeper” some slack. First off, this person had no way of knowing that Mary was pregnant with the Son of God. Besides that, there were literally no vacancies in this establishment. People from all over the world were traveling back to Bethlehem for this taxing. It is likely that people were not just sleeping in bedrooms, but also in hallways, in the kitchen, in whatever space they could find. “No room” literally meant, “There isn’t even a small corner for y’all to squeeze into!”
This makes the actions of the innkeeper the more generous. Although there was no room indoors, he did have room in his stable. In the stable, Mary and Joseph would have had some privacy and some room. Was it a 4 star hotel? No. But it was a place to crash. Plus, consider this. If you have ever had a baby before (I have not, but my wife has) would you rather have a baby in the middle of a bunch of total strangers with little to no room to move or would you rather have a baby in relative privacy? In this situation, the stable was a more preferable place, in some way, than in the inn.
Difficulties Concerning the Pregnancy
Now, I am not saying that Mary had some physical difficulties that made pregnancy harder, but I am saying that there were some external forces that made this pregnancy very difficult.
First, Mary was not married, she was espoused to Joseph, but she was not married. The most logical, truthfully the ONLY logical explanation for Mary having a baby was that she had committed fornication. If the baby were Joseph’s, it would have been outside of marriage and still wrong. If the baby was not Joseph’s then that would add the layer of cheating on a “spouse”. Although not stated, we can assume that Mary was mistreated and judged during her pregnancy. In fact, Joseph could have had her stoned and most of society would have agreed that he had made the right choice. Mary was willing to sacrifice her godly reputation in order to follow the will of God in her life.
Second, and this is something that I thought about just the other day, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem during Mary’s third trimester of pregnancy. Now, I have never been pregnant before, but observing my wife being pregnant and other women being pregnant, I can make a pretty educated guess that Mary was MISERABLE. Who wants to go on a road trip, riding on a donkey, when you are just days away from having a baby? Again, this wasn’t even a fun road trip, but one that was centered around being taxed. Woohoo!! I am sure that Mary did not have the nicest things to say about Caesar Augustus during this road trip.
Why do I bring these things to light? What significance does all of this add to the Christmas story? Not much by itself, but it does reinforce the truth that Jesus left so much to come to this world. He left the ivory palaces of Heaven to dwell amongst man with all of our human problems. He could have at least been born in a palace with a crib made out of gold; instead he choose a manger of wood and straw. The humanity of the Christmas story just makes the name Emmanuel, God with us, even more precious.
Merry Christmas, folks!
The last few weeks I have been thinking about 2nd Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” That word “unspeakable” means “indescribable”. I find it crazy that Paul, of all people, described the gift of God (salvation) as indescribable. Paul was an incredibly brilliant man, more brilliant than I could ever hope to be! When you read the book of Romans, you can’t help but see Paul’s intellect dripping off the pages. Yet, even Paul could only say that salvation is indescribable. Understand something today, salvation is simple. That is not in question here. Ephesians 2:8,9, Titus 3:5, and John 3:16 cannot be any simpler than they already are. However, as simple as salvation is it is also incredibly profound and deep. It is so simple that a 5 year old can understand how to be saved yet so deep and rich that theologians can talk about it for hours. Salvation is nothing short of amazing and it is something that we ought not take for granted.
This Thanksgiving, you will probably talk about what you are thankful for, and at the top of your list you will probably mention “salvation”. But do not see that as something cliche, see it for what it is, the most amazing, indescribable gift imaginable!