Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Witmer asks us to think about the "landscape of our minds---mindscape he calls it---and asks how do you deal with day-to-day anxieties? Do you worry? "Your condition is not hopeless," writes Witmer. And he has answers that may help. Witmer suggests that the Holy Spirit gave the Apostle Paul the right words we need so that we will not be worrying. Those words come from Paul's Letter to the Philippians, and in English they sound like this: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable---if anything is excellent or praiseworthy---think about such things. (Phil. 4:8, NIV, 1985). Paul isn't saying "stop worrying," he is saying change directions. "Be anxious for nothing." Instead, stop, when something is worrying you, and bring it to God in prayer. Prayer, about everything, sounds like it is the answer.
In the next chapters Witmer discusses each of the qualities Paul has offered and meditation on each is suggested. Witmer claims a new mindscape will result. As you "think on these things," and practice, you will be changed. It will take time, but the Holy Spirit will guide if you ask. Witmer concludes that you will see progress in your mindscape, as you "replace worry with peace, as you replant hope in place of discouragement, as you weed out doubts, and as you grow in faith in the Gardener who is determined to transform you."
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Williams, who is now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, reminds us that Mark is a bit different from the other Gospels. Mark doesn't tell us much about "Jesus' early life nor his teaching ministry and resurrection appearances." But Mark does offer "deeply theological perspectives," and he includes "these insights in skillful storytelling techniques and turns of phrase." Williams says that "offering simple stories requires enormous skill, and Mark is a great artist in this respect."
Meeting God in Mark begins with "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God...." and tells the stories of John, coming as an important messenger, and Jesus, who came to John to be baptized,while God himself introduced his beloved Son, with whom he was "well pleased." Williams says that Jesus came to bring "change." "Someone's new reign was about to be inaugurated," writes Williams. So in Mark's Gospel, suddenly Jesus is there---and he is bringing great change.
Williams cautions readers to read slowly and he hopes we will "go back and let it work afresh" on us so that we will find that Mark gives us "the sense of a living Presence at work," that is, Jesus. May it be so.