Nick’s Post

What’s going on everyone? This is Nick. Just gonna give you a quick update about what’s going on. The past few days, for me, have been tough. And as whole, people haven’t been very receptive about what I have been saying. And I’m trying to keep my head up but it’s tough when you’re working so hard but see very little if any fruit from what you’re doing. So last night the guys got together and prayed for me. (It’s been amazing how close we’ve gotten; How tight we are now as brothers, sisters, and friends) today was totally different. My group was passing out flyers and talking to people on the streets. God put us on a path that we never knew we were on, until afterward, and amazing things happened. We would unintentionally start conversations (one in particular started because we were trying to find a bathroom).  Another story, we were going in a building to get lunch, and a guard was outside to check bags. (there are a lot of guards like that to keep weapons etc out). I went through the check no problem, even though I had a ton of tracts and new testaments and stuff in my bag (a lot of places like this dont let those kinds of items inside because they dont want people passing them out). Then my team member opened her bag and the guard saw her Hebrew new testaments  and asked her if by chance, she had an extra that he could have. She obviously gave it to him and his face just lit up. He was so excited about receiving that and that it was free. Our guide aaron was shocked by this because most of the time guards wont let people in with materials like that at all. Amazing things happened and people were reached. It was awesome in the most real and intended use of the word.

We’re going on some adventures in the next few days so it’s gonna be very exciting. Please continue to keep us in your prayers for safe travels, for more opportunities to share the gospel and really reach people, that we will not forget what we have done here, and to not forget that missions are not one or two week things, it’s a life style. Pray that we will live this way back home as well. Thanks for reading!! See you all soon!! Nick

The Spirit is Moving

Hello everybody!
This is Bobby McDonald, and I’ll be your Israel Mission trip ambassador for today. First and foremost all thanks be to God! Today has been a miraculous day with God working through us in great ways. First, I have to share the testimony that my mission partner for the day, Rebecca, and I experienced.  Again, many of the events of the day were miraculous, but I’ll let you be the judge.  We started off the morning going door to door in apartment buildings.  We went to five buildings over the span of about 2 hours and of all of those units only one person answered and she did not want to speak with us.  So our first few hours were pretty discouraging.  However, the sixth building is the one that God had planned for us.  At this particular complex we walked to the top floor and knocked on the doors, working our way downstairs.
Finally we make it to the 1st floor (which was the last floor floor since we started from the top) and there was only one apartment left. Due to our lack of success we were just about to leave, but then the owner of that last apartment was coming into the building as we were walking out.  We told him who were were and what we were about and he invited us into his home.  It was the home of a young bachelor, charming and decorated for the social night-life with pictures of friends having a good time all around.  His name was Nimrod (not quite good for America but a strong name here in Israel). Nimrod and I connected a lot because I’ve been in his situation. He was a nice young man who loves to have fun, loves to have a good time and was not thinking about God much because life was good thus far.  I mean, why think about God when you have a career path, friends, and get to enjoy life so much?  Sadly, that story is far too similar to countless people, and they have a veil of comfort to hide them from reaching the truth.  There are many times though when that veil will be lifted by God, and the truth will be exposed.  I strongly believe that this happend to Nimrod, and others that the members of our team reached out to today.
Anyways, we were inside Nimrod’s home and after learning basic information about his life we started to share the gospel.  We were talking about who Jesus was and then all of sudden I felt urged to share my testimony.  When I started sharing the story of how I prayed one Saturday night almost 2 1/2 years ago and asked that Christ would reveal Himself to me if He was real, and then He did, I had a confidence greater than any other point on this trip.  The words just kept coming.  There was no hesitation, no delay, but just a flow of words.  I don’t remember a lot of it, but Rebecca told me that Nimrod all of a sudden leaned in with great interest and was totally absorbing everyting God was saying through me.  It was as if God answered our constant prayers, that He would open the hearts of those whom we meet so that they would listen.  When I was finished, I couldn’t believe what just happend, and you could tell Nimrod almost couldn’t believe my testimony either.  I mean, how cool is it that you could pray to God that He would reveal Himself to you, and then He does in ways that go beyond what we could fathom.  Then Rebecca shared her testimony, and he was just so moved that he accepted a New Testament in Hebrew, allowed us to pray over him, and gave us his information so that Aaron could mail him a book about the Messian and the prophecies He fulfilled.  We were able to leave our first “door-to-door” meeting of the day with knowledge that God came before us, put someone in our path, and opened their hearts to hear His message.  It was very powerful.
It is even more rejuvenating to our faith to hear other stories similar to Rebecca’s and mine that happend to our peers while they were out today.  Kelsey experienced the same thing that I did, being overtaken by the Holy Spirit and God preaching through her.  Her partener for the day, Nick, said it was astounding what he witnessed.  All of a sudden Kelsey just started preaching, and didn’t skip a beat.  Jeff met an Israeli woman that spoke fluent Hebrew obviously, but extremely little English.  He, having a very meager background in Spanish, asked if she spoke Spanish and she did fluently.  He was able to share the gospel with her, but used spanish words and grammar that in his own description said that he should not have even remembered at all.  The level of spanish he spoke was far higher than his current knowledge of the language, and the same goes for his understanding of it as well.  Another amazing aspect is that it is not only God moving in us as we share the Word, but also in those who hear it.  When the group got together over dinner tonight to share our experiences of the day, everyone gave witness that the people all of a sudden leaned forward, and were paying attention with amazing interest.  God saved us from death, God brought us to the Holy Land, and God used us to preach.  I implore those who read this blog to reach out and ask God with all your heart how can you do His will, in old ways or new.  He will use you.
Now, there is another important aspect of the experience that Rebecca and I had.  After we left Nimrod’s home we walked and found a wallet in the middle of the sidewalk just a few dozen steps from his building.  We picked it up and asked passerbys where a police station was, but didnt really get much help.  Finally, we asked one lady and she told us that we could take a bus to the nearest station.  We being foreigners said that would could not do that because  our knowledge of the city was too limited.  So she decided that she would take the wallet, and call its owner to inform them that we found it.  It was lunch time and we were all on our way to lunch, so we invited her to join us.  She did and we had such a delightful conversation with this Israeli woman.  She had been here for quite some time after living in Chicago and New York due to her husband’s accounting career.  We spent a good hour together and had a wonderful time at one of the best falafel spots in Tel Aviv (falafel is fried hummus, quite the arabic delicacy). This experience was extremely familiar because the testimony that I had just shared with Nimrod was how God brought an older woman across my path and revealed Himself to me through her.  And now here we were, after sharing the gospel with him, we find a wallet, meet a lady through that event and then are having a wonderful time getting to know eachother.  However, whilst at this same Falafel restaurant someone taps me on the shoulder, and its my new friend David.  David is a 90 year old Israeli man that looks 70.  Calla and I met him yesterday when going door to door.  We were with him for about an hour and shared with gospel.  He too filled out a card to receive the book on how the Messiah fulfilled the prophecies in the Old Testament.  Anyways, he invited us to meet him in his home after Rebecca and I left the falafel restaurant.  So we went there and had great conversation for 30 minutes.
After that we went to a tent city that I had visited last night.  For a quick background, there is a protest going on here in Tel Aviv.  People have left their apartment homes and condos to live on the streets in tents together to protest the high cost of living and low average salaries.  There I had met two individuals, Mayan and another David, both students in college. We talked last night for over an hour.  So today, Rebecca and I cross their paths and were able to meet with them for about 45 minutes.  At each of these meetings we were able to reinforce an observation that Mayan had shared with me last night.  She said that although she is not religious, and does not believe in religion, Christians seem to have a peace about them that is unsurpassable.  They seem to really know God.  So us sharing the words of the gospel is not only how we reach people, but through our witness.  Through our day to day interactions with others and letting them know that we are Christians, God uses us to share the way Jesus lived because we strive to live by it.  I love you all and thank you for letting me share our testimonies with you.  Good night.
– Bobby

Reason For God Study Guide Chapter 8

I am posting a study guide for Tim Keller’s The Reason for God that I created to lead my small group through. I hope it is a blessing.

Reason For God Chapter 8

The Clues of God.

Interpretation Questions

  • What was your favorite part of this chapter?
  • What made you struggle in this chapter?
  • What did you learn about God in this chapter?
  • What did you learn about yourself in this chapter?

Study Questions:

Summary:

  • Great question by Jean-Paul Sarte – what is the point of existence?
  • How do you believe in God? There can be no strong rationalism proof of God. Instead what we have are clues that point to God. Individually they do not prove God but taken together there is strong evidence for God.

Clues:

The Mysterious Bang.

  • Why is there something rather than nothing?
  • There is evidence that the universe is expanding explosively and outwardly from a single point.
  • Francis Collins: The very fact that the universe had a beginning means that someone was able to begin it. And it seems to me that had to be outside of nature.

The Cosmic Welcome Mat.

  • 15 main universal constants that have precise values. They are fine tuned for the world to exist as it is.
  • If the world was different at all, there would be no life on planet Earth.
  • Steven Hawking: The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications.
  • Although organic life could have just happened without a creator, does it make sense to live as if that infinitely remote chance is true?

The Regularity of Nature

  • Why does the world stay the same? There is no reason for this.
  • Science cannot prove why the rules that we observe around us continue. It must take it in faith that they will. (Mike: in fact it is faith that we believe everything will stay the same in the very next minute. The miraculous actually may be more normal than everything staying the same.)

The Clue of Beauty

  • Why does art move us? Why does music move something within us? Why does something ring true when we hear or see great Art or music?
  • If there is not God then the only reason you think something is beautiful is because there is something in your past evolving that associated good things for humans when it was present.
  • However when we see beauty that has nothing to do with survival instincts and are moved we realize that something out there must define what is beautiful and we resonate with it when we perceive it.
  • We have deep longings for beauty, love, joy that can’t be fulfilled by food, sex friendship, or success.  These longings within us point to a creator.

The Clue Killer

  • Influential school of thought that claims to have answers to the clues: this is the school of Evolutionary Biology.
  • Evolutionary Biology believes that everything can be explained by a function of natural selection.
  • Basically everything that we value and love and desire is because it was coded in us to be able to survive. This coding was passed down to us by our ancestors.
  • This is why we believe in God. Belief in God made our ancestors happier and more unselfish which made their tribes succeed.
  • Big admission by Richard Dawkins: since we are the product of natural selection, we cant completely trust our own senses. After all, evolution is interested only in preserving adaptive behavior, not true belief.
    • IN other words: Paranoid false beliefs are often more effective at helping you survive than accurate ones.
    • Evolution only gives us things that we can survive, but not true ideas.
    • Doesn’t this mean then by Evolutionists own admission that you cant trust what they say?
    • They cant have it both ways, to think that they can determine what is true about the world but say that religious people cant figure out religion because it is only something programmed into our DNA.

The Clue Killer Is Really a Clue

  • Because we can trust our ability to reason and interpret the world we can believe that there is a God. We can read the other clues and come to a belief in God.
  • If you don’t believe in God, the clues of God are inexplicable and troubling.
  • The theory that there is a God who created the world makes more sense than the theory that the world has occurred by natural selection and chance.

Beyond the Clues

  • He will demonstrate in the next chapter that you already know that God exists.

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%201.doc

Download Week 2:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/The%20Reason%20for%20God%20Chapter%202.doc

Download Week 3 here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20%E2%80%93%20Week%203.doc

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http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20Week%204.doc

Download Week 5:  http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Chapter%205%20%20Reason%20for%20God.doc

Download Week 6:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%206.doc

Download Week 7

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%207%20%20You%20cant%20take%20the%20Bible%20Literally.doc

Download the Intermission:

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Download Week 8:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%208.docx

Rebecca’s Post in Tel Aviv

Hey y’all!

This is Rebecca, and it’s my first time blogging, so bear with me! Today was our third day of evangelizing on the streets of Tel Aviv, and God never ceases to amaze me. After our day of rest yesterday, I was feeling pretty good and ready to share the gospel today. However, the morning started out with a little opposition, which honestly made me feel slightly discouraged. Robert and I were handing out tracts together and putting them on any cars that we saw. Robert handed one to a particular man, and he trash-talked it and tore it up right in front of us. A few minutes later we were putting them on cars in a parking lot, and we handed one to the parking attendant. When he realized who we were and what we were doing, he quickly told us to take them off of every single car. That was discouraging. Because God is so good though, he definitely lifted my spirits a little while later when Aaron was giving us a last minute pep talk before sending us out for door-to-door evangelizing. Aaron reminded us that even when people reject us in the name of the Lord we will be blessed.
Robert and I were invited into two homes, where we had some pretty interesting conversations. The first man, Eyal, admitted that the only reason he invited us inside was because of how nice we seemed and the fact that we weren’t looking for a donation. He offered us apricots, and we learned that he had lived in Tel Aviv for about ten years, but he was not religious at all. He said he believed in the energies of the world and good and bad forces. Sadly, he was not interested in hearing about Jesus, but I am confident that God will use our visit with him in some way. To our surprise, the very next apartment we visited invited us in as well. It belonged to a sweet old couple, Aviva and Elie, who were probably the friendliest people I’ve ever met. We talked with them for nearly an hour about various topics, surprisingly even politics, and  we learned that they are very firm in their Jewish beliefs. We were, however, able to give them a copy of the New Testament in Hebrew. Aviva seemed very hesitant at first to take it, but she eventually did and even told me quietly that she plans to read it so she can find out more about what we believe. To say the least, I was beyond excited when she told me that! Ironically, she seemed to be more interested in what we were saying once she found out my name was Rebecca, because her mother and daughter are named Rebecca as well.
One thing that God has also laid on my heart lately is how much people actually notice your actions and attitudes. Since I’ve been in Israel, numerous people, especially in the market in Jerusalem, have commented on how happy and joyful I seem. I have realized that the words I speak to people about Jesus are certainly important, but simply the way I live my everyday life can be just as powerful of a testimony. I am so thankful for each person on this trip and for the unique talents that God has given to each of us. God has certainly strengthened all of us way beyond what we thought we were capable of and blessed us way more than we deserve. Pray that God will continue to open up the hearts of the people we come in contact with and give us the words that they need to hear.
–Rebecca

Day of Rest in Tel Aviv

Today was Shabbat. The day of rest in Israel. Although Tel Aviv is secular, sometimes surprisingly so, the city still lives its life by the Sabbath day of rest. In Israel the days don’t start at first light. Instead they start at dusk the evening before. On Sabbath days people do not work here and it is a city wide day of rest. The weird thing is that other objects also rest. Apparently machines also have to rest here in Israel. Last night when Tabitha and I were trying to leave our hotel we were told we couldn’t use the automatic sliding doors because they were resting on the Sabbath. This morning the coffee machine was also resting. Some stoplights in the city are resting. One of the elevators in our hotel was supposed to rest too while the other still worked.  Its kind of confusing as to why some machines can work and others cant but I think it is very cool that they value a season of rest. Most people I know in America never rest. Everyone works 7 days a week. There is a huge value in choosing to cease from our labors to reenergize and focus on God, family and life.

Because of the Sabbath our team also chose to rest today. We have been actively sharing the gospel the last several days in extreme heat and difficult conditions and we have become both physically and emotionally tired. So, today we enjoyed Tel Aviv. We got up late, and me for a worship service on the beach. We then went swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. This evening we went up to the nearby port of Jaffa. Its the same city that Jonah found a boat to flee from the Lord. It was very quaint and beautiful.

We are looking forward to a great day tomorrow and great opportunities to share the gospel. Please pray for us that we will have eyes to see the people that God wants us to interact with. I have been so excited to see the boldness of this team. They are unified and encouraging. I have seen every single person on this team grow leaps and bounds spiritually. Please continue praying for us.

Christ is All,

Mike

Reason For God Study Guide – Intermission

I am posting a study guide for Tim Keller’s The Reason for God that I created to lead my small group through. I hope it is a blessing.

Reason For God – Intermission.

Interpretation Questions

  • What was your favorite part of this chapter?
  • What made you struggle in this chapter?
  • What did you learn about God in this chapter?
  • What did you learn about yourself in this chapter?

Summary:

He is shifting from answering arguments against Christianity to arguing for Christianity.

Which Christianity?

What is main orthodox Christianity?

Definition: The body of believers who assent to the great ecumenical creeds, trinity, deity of Jesus and his humility, incarnation and passion. They believe in sin, salvation by faith, the return of Christ and the purpose of the church as God’s instrument of hope and change.

  • All Christians believe this, but no Christians believe just this. There is variety outside this core.

What Rationality?

Skeptics desire Christianity to be proven by “ strong rationalism”.

  • They want proof by the “verification principle” that on one should believe in a proposition unless it can be proved rationally by logic or empirically by sense experience.
  • Proof that is so strong that no person whose logical faculties are operating properly would have any reason to disbelieve it.

Problem: although many people want Christians to deliver proofs for those beliefs, other philosophers are not required to do so. Even atheistic philosophers are excused from providing “strong proof”.

Strong rationalism is almost impossible to defend philosophically.

  • It cant keep its own standards
  • How can you empirically prove that no one should believe something without empirical proof? You cant, and that means it is ultimately a belief.
  • Strong rationalism assumes that it is possible to achieve “the view from nowhere,” a position of almost complete objectivity. This is impossible to achieve. We all have our biases, and presuppositions.
  • Mike’s interpretation: Any position is really a belief and not a provable idea because we can never have enough proof to believe things. All beliefs have bias and agenda.  Belief comes from faith.

A solution exists between strong rationalism and relativism, “critical rationality.”

  • There are arguments for positions that have value and many people will be convinced by them but others will always have a reason to disbelieve for a variety of reasons. It is pointing to what is probable based on the evidence not what is absolutely provable.

The theory of a God leads us to expect the things we observe. The Theory there is no God does not lead us to expect any of these things. – Richard Swinburne

God the Playwright

If there is a God he wouldn’t be another object in the universe that could be put in a lab and analyzed with empirical methods.

C.S. Lewis

Believed in a God  “as I believe the sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.

  • Basically believing in God makes everything else make sense.
  • What account of the world has the most “explanatory power” to make sense of the world and in ourselves?

God is not a man in an attic, he is a playwright.

  • Can only be made known through personal revelation. Written into the story.

Discussion Questions

How do we then interact with people who don’t share our core beliefs?

How do we distinguish between core beliefs and secondary beliefs?

How do we disagree respectfully on open handed issues?

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%201.doc

Download Week 2:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/The%20Reason%20for%20God%20Chapter%202.doc

Download Week 3 here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20%E2%80%93%20Week%203.doc

Download Week 4:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20Week%204.doc

Download Week 5:  http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Chapter%205%20%20Reason%20for%20God.doc

Download Week 6:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%206.doc

Download Week 7

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%207%20%20You%20cant%20take%20the%20Bible%20Literally.doc

Download the Intermission:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God-%20Intermission.doc

Day 2 in Tel Aviv

Today was our first full day of evangelism in the city of Tel Aviv. What a unique city: there is incredible ethnic and cultural diversity here. And while it’s a bustling urban city, people are very friendly and open, especially compared to what you’d find in New York or Chicago.

For the morning and early afternoon, we went out into the city in pairs and initiated conversations we people we came across. With five pairs and a combined total of 25 hours, we had countless conversations with people of all ages and backgrounds. For now, I can share with you a few stories from my day sharing with Bobby:

Slava lives in a nearby city with his family and was in Tel Aviv today, trying to give away their three kittens. He doesn’t consider himself religious but believes there is some nameless, faceless higher power. While we can’t every hope to know this “God”, cutting ourselves off from his love does harm us, both in this life and future reincarnated lives (very similar to the Buddhist perspective). We talked about many different theological issues and were able to share the gospel with him, but he is very confident in and satisfied with his current world view. His father-in-law is a messianic Jew and has repeatedly encouraged Slava and his wife to read the New Testament. Perhaps, after talking with us today, they’ll give it a try?

David has lived in Tel Aviv for many years and has very poor health. We met him while he was sitting on a park bench and he asked us for money – he’s collecting donations on the street to buy medication. He doesn’t consider himself part of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim faiths but he does believe God exists. We did share the gospel with him, although he said his current physical problems prevented him from considering religious or philosophical issues in his life. We prayed for him and left. Later, Bobby returned to offer him a copy of the New Testament. As they were talking, an Orthodox Jew came out of a nearby store and told him to leave: “I know what you’re doing, and you need to stop now. This is your only warning.” After he left, David passed by us again and encouraged us not to heed the Orthodox Jew’s warnings, and he thanked us for talking to him.

These are just two of the many encounters we all had today. While we can’t ever know what impact the conversations might have had, it’s encouraging to think about the ways God might use them.

Later on today, we went out as a group to distribute some literature about Jesus and sing in the streets. The self-conscious person in me cringed a little bit at the prospect of singing Chris Tomlin songs in front of malls and in parks, but it definitely got the attention of those passing by – and it was a lot of fun. Before we leave this place, there will be many other opportunities to reach people, both one at a time through conversations and many at a time by singing and passing out flyers.

-Sarah

1st day in Tel Aviv

Hey everybody!
This Bobby and it’s my first time blogging. On top of that I’m doing this all from an iPhone, so please give me grace because there will be spelling and grammatical error. Today was a pivotal day in our trip. We left Jerusalem and traveled to Tel Aviv. The Jerusalem chapter was a pilgrimage and also training. We were coached on how to evangelize, but also being in the place where God walked this earth was inspiration in itself. Two nights ago we saw a sunset from the Mount of Olives that was miraculous to see.  The sky turned blood red and it was as if Jesus’ blood was blanketing the same city where it was shed for our sins. In short, seeing these places is the ultimate spiritual awakening and we are all thankful for all of the help we received to go here.

So this morning we left for Tel Aviv, the second chapter of this trip, where we will be sharing the gospel.  Ofcourse there are forces against us, and we were delayed about 1 1/2 hours due to a slight inconvenience at Austrian Hospice, our hotel. Although we were delayed our spirits were not diminished and went to Tel Aviv knowing that God is with us.  So we arrived in Tel Aviv safely, and after checking in and having lunch we went to a busy marketplace and prayed before we left to meet people in the streets. As we prayed in a circle, some orthodox Jewish people surrounded us (about five). They would not dare physically harm us in such a populated place, but they tried to intimidate us with their presence. We stood our ground, and finished our prayer without haste and with confidence in God our protector.

Despite these things against, we all have testimony and that God came here before us, and pointed us to people whom He is trying to reach. Rebecca and I met a young woman whom is Jewish and from Michigan, ironically. She has been strongly surrounded with the Jewish faith but yearning for more. She felt something missing in her life. She told us that she’s been wanting to hear more about Christ, but she’s been too naive to actually look for herself. So we came to her with the Word, and she graciously listened to it and accepted a new testament. We could see the joy and love in her eyes. I believe her spirit truly was awakened in that moment.  Then there was Moti. He is in his 30s, homosexual, and believes in a Creator and does not associate himself with any faith. Yet, he heard the Good News that all fall short and will sin, no one is perfect, and that Jesus in His love for us died for us.  That is the concept that was tugging at his heart, love. He gladly gave us his information so that our contact here can mail him a book about Jesus fulfilling the Messianic prophecies.  Then there was Maya, the store owner who does not believe in anything, but heard the Good News and whatever door she had on her heart was finally being opened up. She thanked us for stopping to talk with her.  So this is the testimony of us on this trip. We were rejected plenty of times, but only if we reached one soul our journey is fulfilled. But today God used us to reach atleast 10. Pray for those individuals that we came into contact with. Pray that they accept Christ and grow in Him, especially because they live in a land where it is challenging to do so. Thank you and God bless.

Bobby

The Reason For God Study Guide Chapter 9

I am posting a study guide for Tim Keller’s The Reason for God that I created to lead my small group through. I hope it is a blessing.

The Reason for God Chapter 9

The Knowledge of God

Ice Breaker

  • What was your favorite part of this chapter?
  • What made you struggle in this chapter?

Interpretation Questions

  • What was your favorite part of this chapter?
  • What made you struggle in this chapter?
  • What did you learn about God in this chapter?
  • What did you learn about yourself in this chapter?

Free Floating Morality

People have strong moral convictions but unlike other people in other times and places they don’t have any visible basis for why they find some things to be evil and other things to be good.

Their moral intuitions are free-floating in midair- far off the ground.

Radical Thesis: People in our culture know unavoidably that there is a God, but they are repressing what they know.

  • What do you think about this? Do you have any examples?

The Concept of Moral Obligation

Common Argument: No one should impose their moral views on others, because everyone has the right to find truth inside him or herself.

This belief raises some difficult questions that must be answered:

  1. Aren’t there people in the world who are doing things that you think are wrong even though they think they are right?
  2. Doesn’t that mean you do believe that there is some sort of moral standard that people should abide by regardless of their individual convictions?
  3. Why is it impossible for anyone (in reality) to be a consistent moral relativist even when they claim that they are?

The answer: we all have a pervasive, powerful, and unavoidable belief not only in moral values but also moral obligation.

  • Basically we all think people should act right and that is something internal not external.

The Evolutionary Theory of Moral Obligation

People who are good have a better chance of surviving by taking care of each other. This trait is something that is bred into us by our ancestors as a defense mechanism.

Flaws:

  1. Being mean to other tribes is a better trait to survival than sacrificing for others.
  2. However being nice to others not like us feels right. Example: Why should we care about Haiti or Japan?
  3. Some say this is because it is a collective belief that is passed down by natural selection: However there is consensus that natural selection does not work for populations.

Summary: Evolution can’t account for the origin of our moral feelings, let alone the fact that we think there are external moral standards by which moral feelings are evaluated.

The Problem of Moral Obligation

The sense of moral obligation creates a problem for those with a secular understanding of the world.

Most people can’t answer it and are stuck having to stay true to there philosophical beliefs or moral convictions.

Example of lady who thought that there is no relative morality. But when she saw oppression of women had to act because she thought it was morally wrong.

 

Difficult Issue of Human Rights

Human rights: Every human being has inherent dignity and that it is obligatory that we order our lives in accordance with this fact.

Where do human rights come from?

  • Is it from our European Culture?
  • Is it from God?  Made in God’s image?
  • It comes from nature? Natural law.
    • Problem: Nature thrives on violence and predation, on survival of the fittest.
    • There is no way to derive the concept of the dignity of every individual from the way things really work in nature.
    • AKA: outside of our cities and suburbs the world is savage.
    • It comes from the people who write the laws?
      • That the majority of a society decides.
        • Problem: what happens if a majority think that individual dignity is not in their interests?
          • Apartheid, Slavery, Euthenasia.
          • If they are nothing but a voted on agreement then there is nothing greater to appeal to if they are voted out of existence.
          • If human rights are created by majorities what use are they? Human rights are valuable to insist that majorities value the dignity of minorities and individuals who are weaker.
          • Rights cannot be created, they must be discovered or they are of no value.

Michael J Perry:  There is a religious ground for the morality of human rights… but it is far from clear that there is a non-religious ground, a secular ground for human rights.

Neitzsche: If God is dead, any and all morality of love and human rights is baseless.

  • If there is no God there is no reason to be kind, to be loving or to work for peace.
  • If we believe there is no God, why do we still keep taking moral judgments for granted as if nothing has happened?

The Grand Sez Who?

If there is no God, then there is no way to say any one action is moral and another immoral but only “I like this.”

Who gets to determine morality?

The Argument for God from the Violence of Nature

Nature is based on violence. Humans alone seem to want peace. Why?

  • The Bible explains why.  The world is broken and needs a savior and we know this in our hearts.
  • If we believe human rights are a reality, then it makes much more sense that God exists than that he does not.

 

The Endless, Pointless Litigation of Existence

If there is no God, what is the point of existence?

You can do 2 things: 1. Don’t think about it. 2. Accept that you know there is no God.

 

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%201.doc

Download Week 2:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/The%20Reason%20for%20God%20Chapter%202.doc

Download Week 3 here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20%E2%80%93%20Week%203.doc

Download Week 4:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20for%20God%20Week%204.doc

Download Week 5:  http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Chapter%205%20%20Reason%20for%20God.doc

Download Week 6:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%206.doc

Download Week 7

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%207%20%20You%20cant%20take%20the%20Bible%20Literally.doc

Download the Intermission:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God-%20Intermission.doc

Download Week 8:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/Reason%20For%20God%20Chapter%208.docx

Download Week 9:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1370227/Reason%20for%20God/The%20Reason%20for%20God%20Chapter%209.docx

Journey Up The Mount of Olives

Being in the old city of Jerusalem has been such a blessing to our team.  As we prepare for our time in Tel Aviv, I have tried to write down all the incredible things we saw in Jerusalem.  It’s pretty amazing to walk the streets because the Bible starts to come alive.  Mike and our guide Aaron will say things like, ” that is where Simon of Cyrene took the cross from Jesus and carried it for him” or ” that is the place that Abraham offered up his son Isaac as a sacrifice.”  I know that I will always read my Bible a little differently now!

Small things have really stood out to me as we have passed in and out of the gates to the old city.  We exited the Lion’s Gate yesterday heading toward the Mount of Olives and Aaron pointed out that this particular site is where Stephen was stoned for his faith.  ” At this they covered their ears and , yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.”  Acts 7: 57-58.  Before I could move on with the group, I just stopped and stared at the gate.  The Bible goes on to say that after this occurred, the early church was heavily persecuted and as a result scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.  Christianity then began to spread across the world and as a result, you and I have heard the Gospel!!

We later hiked up the Mount of Olives and facing us was the Eastern Gate.  As you stand on the Mount of Olives, you look across the Kidron Valley to the Eastern wall of the city.  The Eastern Gate is significant for Christians, because we believe that Christ will return on the Mount of Olives and walk through the Eastern Gate.  What a great day that will be!  Mike will often say that if death separates us, he will see me at the Eastern Gate – that will be our meeting place.

After we finished our hike up the Mount of Olives, which is the steepest hill I can imagine, we came to the Garden of Gethsemane.  This was a very peaceful place and the spot where Jesus prayed and wept for Jerusalem.  The view as you look across at the city toward the Temple Mount is absolutely beautiful.  Our team sat in this spot for several minutes just gazing across the valley praying for the same city that our Lord wept over so long ago.

Another interesting site nearby, was the massive grave yard that spreads across the Mount of Olives and Kidron Valley.  This is a prime burial spot because Jewish people believe that at the resurrection, those on the Mount of Olives will go up to heaven first.  The grave lots go for about 1 million dollars – wow!

I will always remember our days in Jerusalem and long for the day when there will be a new Jerusalem!  Until then, we will sing of our sweet Savior and tell about the peace he brings.  We will praise his name in the streets and tell of his saving grace!

The Apostle John in the book of Revelation says, ” I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying ‘ Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.  they will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’.  ”  Revelation 21: 2-4

 

Please continue to pray for our team as we begin to share the Gospel in Tel Aviv.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would show us the divine appointments that he has made for us and that we could be bold in our faith.  Pray for energy and hydration because it is HOT!

Much love – Tabitha

 

The Lion's Gate

 

The Eastern Gate

 

Entering The Garden of Gethsemane

 

The Garden of Gethsemane

 

Tomb site on Mount of Olives

 

View from the Mount of Olives