PIETAS

Matthew’s Spiritual Journey

Posts Tagged ‘God

The God in the Cave

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This sketch of the human story began in a cave; the cave which popular science associates with the cave-man and in which practical discovery has really found archaic drawings of animals. The second half of human history, which was like a new creation of the world, also begins in a cave. There is even a shadow of such a fancy in the fact that animals were again present; for it was a cave used as a stable by the mountaineers of the uplands about Bethlehem; who still drive their cattle into such holes and caverns at night. It was here that a homeless couple had crept underground with the cattle when the doors of the crowded caravanserai had been shut in their faces; and it was here beneath the very feet of the passers-by, in a cellar under the very floor of the world, that Jesus Christ was born. But in that second creation there was indeed something symbolical in the roots of the primeval rock or the horns of the prehistoric herd. God also was a Cave-Man, and had also traced strange shapes of creatures, curiously coloured, upon the wall of the world; but the pictures that he made had come to life.

A mass of legend and literature, which increases and will never end, has repeated and rung the changes on that single paradox; that the hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle. Upon this paradox, we might almost say upon this jest, all the literature of our faith is founded. It is at least like a jest in this, that it is something which the scientific critic cannot see. He laboriously explains the difficulty which we have always defiantly and almost derisively exaggerated; and mildly condemns as improbable something that we have almost madly exalted as incredible; as something that would be much too good to be true, except that it is true. …

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Written by Matthew

December 15, 2008 at 11:26 am

An Inversion

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God’s invasion of the world has wrought an inversion: God has reversed the positions of insiders and outsiders. Those who are in positions of authority and privilege reject Jesus and the message; even Jesus’ own disciples are slow to understand his teaching. Others, however—people of low or despised position in the social world of first-century Jewish culture—receive the gospel gladly. The lepers, the demon-possessed, the woman with a hemorrhage, the Syrophonecian woman, the little children, blind Bartimaeus, the nameless woman who anoints Jesus at Bethany for burial, the Gentile centurion at the cross—these are examples put forth by Mark of faithful response to Jesus. “Many who are the first will be the last, and the last will be first.” Those of us who are familiar with the story should not underestimate the shock of this inversion.

By Richard Hays, as quoted in the worship program (in pdf) at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on November 9

Written by Matthew

November 15, 2008 at 11:41 pm

To Be Remembered By A Meal

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Of all the means by which Jesus could have chosen to be remembered, he chose to be remembered by a meal…. The meal, one of humankind’s most basic and common practices, was transformed by Jesus into an occasion of divine encounter. It was in the sharing of food and drink that he invited his companions to share in the grace of God.

By C.T. McMahon, as quoted in the worship program (in pdf) at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on November 2

Written by Matthew

November 9, 2008 at 5:41 pm

The Unforgiving Servant

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Inspired by this morning’s service at Redeemer, I searched WordPress blogs for Miroslav Volf and came across a sermon (posted in September) by Dave Faulkner, a Methodist minister in the UK.

Mr. Faulkner’s sermon looks at Matthew 18:21-35 (The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant) to discuss what and why of forgiveness. Below are couple of quotes from his post.

What is forgiveness?

Miroslav Volf is a Croatian theologian who has written much on forgiveness and reconciliation, especially in the light of his experiences through the wars in the Balkans after the collapse of communism. One of his books, ‘Free Of Charge‘, was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent book in 2006. In it, he says that forgiveness means we blame but do not punish. We do not pretend about the offence. It is real. But we choose not to punish, or press for punishment.

That is rather like God’s treatment of us with regard to our own sin. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin so that we might repent and follow Jesus. The Spirit of God never pretends that the sin was a fiction. Otherwise, we could never repent and walk in the ways of God’s kingdom. But having convicted us, there is no sentence and we are treated as if we had never sinned, even though we have. If this is how God treats us, then it is also the goal we seek in our journey of forgiveness.

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Written by Matthew

October 26, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Forgiveness Flounders Because…

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Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners. But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without overcoming this double exclusion—without tranposing the enemy from the sphere of monstrous inhumanity into the sphere of shared humanity and herself from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness. When one knows that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person’s humanity and imitate God’s love for him. And when one knows that God’s love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself…and so rediscover one’s own sinfulness.

By Miroslav Volf in Exclusion and Embrace, as quoted in the worship program (in pdf) at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on October 26

Written by Matthew

October 26, 2008 at 8:49 pm

A Child’s Confidence

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A little child has confidence. Grown-ups may be standing back at a distance and being very formal with some great personage, but then the man’s child comes running in, rushing right in, and holds on to her father’s legs. She has a right that no-one else has. God is no longer a distant God to us. He is not merely a God in whom we believe intellectually, theologically, theoretically, doctrinally only. All this is possible to one who is not a child of God at all. Our worship and praying [must] have the spontaneity of the child who sees the father, and not only spontaneity, but confidence.

By D. M. Lloyd-Jones, as quoted in the worship program at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on October 19

Written by Matthew

October 19, 2008 at 4:19 pm

The Fellowship of Grace: Give Me Mine

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Below are my notes from the Sunday service on October 5 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. The current series is examining how the Gospel creates a new kind of community. This sermon introduces the Parable of the Prodigal Son which will be discussed over the next six weeks.

Scripture Reading – Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)

Luke 15:11-32 (ESV), courtesy of http://wordle.net/

Notes on the Sermon by Rev. Timothy Keller

Rev. Keller asks us to think about this familiar parable in a slightly different way. He summarizes the story as a picture of an assault on the community, because of idolatry, which is only overcome by agony. He then touched on the following topics.

  1. What is happening in the story? There is a two-front assault on the integrity of the family.
  2. What is the underlying cause of this assault? An idolatry.
  3. What is the source of this sin of idolatry tearing up the community? A disordered love.
  4. What is the ultimate meaning of life for Christians? Loving relationship enjoyed by the triune God.
  5. There is nothing more beautiful than an infinitely powerful and perfectly happy God who is willing to suffer for our sins.

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Written by Matthew

October 7, 2008 at 10:32 pm