As a teenager the decisive moment in my life with Jesus was when I decided to make two choices. One was to make the words of hymns my own as I sang them. The other was to read the Bible in my own language (when I was given a JB Phillips paraphrase by a friend). I've loved paraphrases ever since. While they are not accurate enough to provide the steady Biblical diet, I enjoy the refreshment which they always provide.
Which brings me to The Message developed by Eugene Peterson. Before I even get to his paraphrase can I say that I know of no better introduction to the Bible than gathering together his "Introduction" pages at the start of each individual Bible book. I am not sure why they haven't been extracted into a volume of their own as well ... they are nothing short of brilliant.
When it comes to Peterson's paraphrase the two most quoted turns-of-phrase are probably the Word "moving into the neighbourhood" (John 1:14) and "Learning the unforced rhythms of grace" (Matthew 11:29). But there are lots more than just these two!
Here are some of my favourites:
[And of course Peterson doesn't use verse numbers - which I kinda like - but it makes this exercise more difficult].
Matthew 6: 26
"Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God ... (and then in the parallel passage in Luke 12) carefree in the care of God."
"Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it goodbye, you can't be my disciple."
"The apostles (were) overjoyed because they had been given the honour of being dishonoured on account of the Name."
"We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us."
"We can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit."
"When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us."
Romans 9:25 (quoting Hosea)
"I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I'll call the unloved and make them beloved."
"Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking."
"thank God for broccoli"
1 Corinthians 3:18
"Don't think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid."
1 Corinthians 13:13
"Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly."
2 Corinthians 10:5
"... fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ."
"Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers."
"The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope."
"You don't need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realise the fullness of Christ - and the emptiness of the universe without him."
1 Thessalonians 1:4
"The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions."
1 Thessalonians 3:11
"May the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you."
1 Timothy 2:1
"pray every way you know how, for every one you know."
1 Timothy 2:10
"...not chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it."
1 Timothy 4:1
"These liars have lied so well and for so long that they've lost their capacity for truth."
"So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ."
"When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!"
"May God, who puts all things together,
makes all things whole ...
Now put you together, provide you
with everything you need to please him;
(And) make us into what gives him most pleasure,
by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah.
All glory to Jesus forever and always!
Oh, yes, yes, yes."
nice listening to a fresh paraphrase, isn't it?