Wright or Willard Wednesday: Conversion

Here’s another ditty from Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy. Willard is giving reference to the provocative appeal that Jesus and his early followers gave to the watching world around them.

The life and words that Jesus brought into the world came in the form of information and reality. He and his early associates overwhelmed the ancient world because they brought into it a stream of life at its deepest, along with the best information possible on the most important matters. These were matters with which the human mind had already been seriously struggling for a millennium or more without much success. The early message was, accordingly, not experienced as something its hearers had to believe or do because otherwise something bad – something with no essential connection with real life – would happen to them. The people initially impacted by that message generally concluded that they would be fools to disregard it. That was the basis of their conversion.

Text Tuesday: Engulfed

I am away from my office desk and without Mounce’s text for this week’s Text Tuesday post. Instead, I am working on sermons for the remainder of our Jonah series this month.

As I work through Jonah 2, I’m struck by the language in Jonah’s prayer. Verse 5 says,

“The engulfing waters threatened me,

the deep surrounded me;

seaweed was wrapped around my head.”

Jonah uses a familiar term “engulfed” (Hebrew: afafuni) to describe his experience after being hurled into the ocean. This word is used by the psalmists to describe drowning, which fits the theme of the first part of Jonah: descent. Jonah goes “down, down, down,” to Joppa, to the bottom of the ship, to the depths of the ocean, and into the depths of the fish.

Perhaps you’ve experienced the panic of being under water longer than you anticipated, how the immediate dread spills over one’s mind when the air runs out. Jonah felt this on a couple of different levels: physical and emotional, I’d expect. He was surrounded; there was no way out.

In that place, he poured his heart out to God in what is, for the most part, a penitent and thoughtful prayer. When we are surrounded, we tend to say the most honest prayers.

Share The Best Stuff

Here is my daughter, Avery (10), crushing Latin homework on a Thursday morning and enjoying the “Pink Drink” from Starbucks.

On a visit to Starbucks, Avery usually gets one of three drinks, the Pink Drink being one of them.

From the backseat of the car, Avery exclaimed, “This is the best Pink Drink I’ve had!”

She would know. She gets them all of the time.

The next thing she did stunned me. Avery asked her brother and I if we’d like to have some.

Instead of hoarding the best stuff, Avery felt compelled to share it.

Deep down, we know we ought to share the best stuff.

Technique Thursday: Streaks App

Thursday’s are for practical, pragmatic, techniques for everyday living. Today, I wanted to share about an app that is keeping me on track: Streaks.

Streaks keeps track of any goal, any frequency that I have. Currently, I have 5 goals in Streaks and it gives me the daily reminder to continue what I started.

It might be my personality, but I like a scoreboard and I like to keep adding to a score if I can. Streaks gives me that extra motivation to add to the progress that I made yesterday.

Check it out. It might be just what you need to get over the hump on that challenging task or discipline.

Wright or Willard Wednesdays: Scripture

Each Wednesday, I put a thought from one of my two sages, NT Wright and Dallas Willard, for the sake of sharing a ideas from them that have encouraged me. Perhaps they will encourage you, too.

Today, a passage from NT Wright from his Scripture and the Authority of God.

The whole of my argument so far leads to the following major conclusion: that the shorthand phrase “the authority of scripture,” when unpacked, offers a picture of God’s sovereign and saving plan for the entire cosmos, dramatically inaugurated by Jesus himself, and now to be implemented through the Spirit-led life of the church precisely as the scripture-reading community. “Reading” in that last phase is itself a shorthand for a whole complex of tasks to which we shall return. But the emphasis I want to insist on is that we discover what the shape of the inner life of the church out to be only when we look first at the church’s mission, and that we discover what the church’s mission is only when we look first at God’s purpose for the entire world, as indicated in, for instance, Genesis 1-2, Genesis 12, Isaiah 40-55, Romans 8, 1 Cor. 15, Ephesians 1 and Revelation 21-22. We read scripture in order to be refreshed in our memory and understanding of the story within which we ourselves are actors, to be reminded where it has come from and where it is going to, and hence what our own part within it ought to be.

Text Tuesday: (Be, Make) Heavy

On Tuesdays, I scour Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament words to find some extra insight into the biblical text. Today’s word is “heavy,” or “to be/to make something heavy.”

In the Hebrew Old Testament text, “heavy” (kabed) means “to honor.” This is an interesting Jewish idiom that we use today. When someone powerful or important speaks we often say, “Her words carry a lot of weight.”

In the Greek New Testament, “to be made heavy” (lype) has a different meaning. It carries the idea of grief or sorrow, a person experiencing a heaviness because of a loss of a loved one. The action of grief exhausts someone and they feel heavy because of it.

The two, distinct meanings in the two languages reminds us that reading the Bible is complex, for the same word “heavy” in English has two different meanings in the text. We get to do the tough work of hearing the ancient voices in order to understand the text.