PIETAS

Matthew’s Spiritual Journey

Posts Tagged ‘Deuteronomy

Leading a Beta Group

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One new project Susan and I have committed to this fall is hosting and leading a weekly Christian fellowship meeting at our home. We will be studying three parables in Luke 15 over those seven weeks, dovetailing with the end-of-October publication of The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith, a new book by Reverend Tim Keller.

Beta Groups are newly-formed small gatherings for worship and Bible study at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. They are designed to serve as a seven-week introduction to the community of Christian fellowship.

In leading our Beta Group, we are responding, in part, to Reverend Keller’s call to engage more actively in building a Gospel-based Christian community and, in particular, to practice Christian hospitality in our daily lives. This homily, delivered on June 8, was part of the sermon series entitled Practicing the Christian Life and discussed Hebrews 13:1-14 which begins as follows.

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Reverend Keller helped me see that the practice of Christian hospitality should be considered part of the larger transformation of rebirth initiated by the Grace of God. I have come to accept that the practice of Christian hospitality requires me to form radically new attitude towards others with heart-felt care about both material and spiritual well-being of fellow sojourners in Christ.

Below are a couple of other Bible passages that have guided my service to our Beta Group which, incidentally, is composed mostly of newcomers (hence, sojourners) to New York City.

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, ESV)

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11, ESV)

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Written by Matthew

September 28, 2008 at 4:28 pm

My Starting Point

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Thank you for joining me here at the starting point, as I embark on a personal yet public journey.

What are my reasons to start this blog? And, why now? Those are fair questions. While I have toyed around with the idea of maintaining a personal blog for as long as this format has become popular, my recently heightened interest in Christianity—either a sign of my emotional maturity or of simple aging—provided the final impetus to create one so that I can begin to organize my thoughts and commit them to “paper.”

In particular, watching Pastor John Piper‘s extensive sermon series about the issue of regeneration and beginning to analyze Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus earlier this year motivated me to study the Bible more carefully and systematically, perhaps as any thoughtful academic scholar would treat his important primary sources. One positive result so far is that I am finding more depth and intellectual challenges in the biblical studies and theological discussions than I had expected. My initial expectations were admittedly flawed since they were based mostly on my readings of political history as well as various secondary sources about Christian philosophy and practice.

Once I began to inquire more deeply about Christian beliefs, doctrines and life, I felt a need for a central depository of my ever-accumulating notes, lessons and thoughts and for a record of my reasoning and inspiration. I thought that a blog could meet those immediate needs and, in the future, could even broaden its role to facilitate earnest dialogs or debates about particularly challenging or vexing questions which could enlighten us to the right path and illuminate our destination.

Or, so I hope. The ultimate destination of this journey is far from clear to me now, as I struggle, right from the start, with thorny concepts such as the nature of election, the issue of free will under God’s sovereign choice, and the combination of faith and works among regenerates. We shall see where all these would lead.

Let me close this entry with a prayer.

Grant me the key of knowledge to open my heart and feel your nature. Grant me the zealous passion to open my minds without becoming rigid and self-righteous. And, above all, grant me the steadfast courage to obey and submit to your righteous and merciful will.

• • •

References – All Bible texts are from the English Standard Version or ESV

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1-3)

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4)

Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” (Luke 11:52)

Written by Matthew

April 26, 2008 at 11:27 pm