The Reason for God Study Guide Chapter 11

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 11

Religion and the Gospel

Ice Breaker: What personal win have you had this month?

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:

Christianity teaches our main problem is sin. What is the solution to sin?

There is a profound and fundamental difference between the way other religions tell us to seek salvation and the way described in the gospel of Jesus.

All other major faiths have founders who are teacher that show the way of salvation. Only Jesus claimed to be the way of salvation himself.

  • Religion= Salvation through moral effort
  • Gospel= salvation through grace

Two forms of Self-Centeredness

Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde in the moment of his pride.

Sin and evil are self-centeredness and pride that lead to oppression against others, but there are 2 forms of this.

  • Being very bad and breaking all the rules
  • Being very good and keeping all the rules and becoming self righteous.

The best way to avoid Jesus is to avoid sin.

  • If you are avoiding sin and living morally so that God will have to bless and save you then you may be looking to Jesus as a teacher, model and helper but you are avoiding him as Savior.
  • You are trusting in your own goodness rather than in Jesus for your standing with God. You are trying to save yourself by following Jesus.
  • This is a rejection of the gospel of Jesus. It is a Christianized version of religion.
  • You are able to avoid Jesus as savior by keeping rules in the same way as breaking them.

Ultimately religion and irreligion are spiritually identical courses to take. Both are sin.

  • Religion leads to self-righteousness, pride, comparison and bigotry
  • You never deal with the root issue of who you really are.

You need a transformation of the motives of your heart.

The Damage of Pharisaism

Who were the Pharisees?

Although Pharisees live in legal righteousness they have lives that are if anything, more driven by the despair of sin than “sinners”.

They think they are living righteous lives but at their core they know they aren’t because they are not doing enough. This leads to anxiety, insecurity and irritability.

Because they are insecure, they feel that they need to attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them doctrinally or culturally.

Pharisee’s turn people off against church and God.

The Difference of Grace.

There is a great gulf between the understanding that God accepts us because of our efforts and the understanding that God accepts us because of what Jesus has done.

  • Religion = I obey –therefore I am accepted by God
  • The Gospel  = I am accepted by God through what Christ has done – therefore I obey
    • What does this mean to you?

What is your motivation? Trying to prove yourself or because of who you are?

Motivation:

  • Religion= We obey the divine standards out of fear. If we don’t obey we are going to lose God’s blessing in this world and the next.  Fear of rejection.
  • The Gospel= Gratitude for the blessing we have already received because of Jesus. Desire to please because you want to look like the one who gave his life for us.

If you are following religion you have the temptation to find your identity in the religion. This makes you feel superior to others but at the same time very unconfident in your own standing.

Christianity allows us to be both humble but confident. You don’t think more or less of yourself. You don’t need to notice yourself, how you are doing and how you are regarded, as much. You are secure because you have been forgiven.

Religion and the gospel differ in how they treat the “Other” – those who don’t share your beliefs. Often we define ourselves by those we are not.

A Christian is not defined by excluding anyone, but it is found in the person of Jesus Christ, who was excluded for me. His grace humbles me because I am to flawed to ever save myself through my own merit, but affirms me because I know God loves me unconditionally.

  • This means that Christian cant despise people who don’t believe like ourselves. We are not saved by our own good we cant be proud.
  • But we are not intimidated either because nothing can be taken from us. We are God’s people. God values you.

Religion and the gospel also lead to divergent ways of handling troubles and suffering.

  • Moralistic Religion = If you life an upstanding life, God owes you respect and favor.
    • But if life begins to go downhill then crisis and anger enters their world. They feel God owes them happiness, health and wealth.
    • Gospel = Makes it possible for someone to escape the spiral of bitterness, self-recrimination, and despair when life goes wrong. They know that the basic premise of religion, if you live a good life, things will go well for you is wrong. Jesus was the most moral person in the world and he lived a life full of poverty, rejection, injustice and even torture.

The Threat of Grace

When many hear of the difference between religion and the gospel they think it sounds too easy. They think, “If that is Christianity, all I have to do is get a personal relationship with God and then do anything I want.”

These words are only spoken on the outside of an experience of radical grace. No one on the inside speaks like that. Grace can be quite threatening.

  • If you do good works you can have limits to what God can ask you. If you are saved by sheer grace, there is nothing God can’t ask of you.

If you are saved by grace you no longer have rights and you are owned by Jesus.

  • From the outside this sounds like an obligation. From the inside, the motivation is all joy.
  • What happens when you fall in love? Your great commitment means you are bound to that person but it is not a burden. It is joy to be bound to that person.
  • When you get engaged you don’t say next, ok now I can do whatever I want, and date anyone I want. No you excitedly pursue a relationship with the one you love to the exclusion of any other love.

The most liberating act of free, unconditional grace demands that the recipient give up control of his or her life.

Is this a contradiction? No, see chapters 3 and 9.

We are not in control of our lives. WE are all living for something and we are controlled by that, the true lord of our lives. If it is not God , it will endlessly oppress us. It is only grace that frees us form the slavery of self that lurks even in the middle of morality and religion. Grace is only a threat to the illusion that we are free, autonomous selves, living life as we choose.

The Gospel makes it possible to have such a radically different life.

It is critical to recognize this fundamental difference between the gospel and religion. Christianiy’s basic message differs at the root with the assumptions of traditional religion.

  • The founders of every other major religion came as teacher not saviors. They said: “do this and you will find the divine.”
  • Jesus came essentially as a savior rather than a teacher (although he was one as well). Jesus says: “I am the divine come to you to do what you could not do for yourselves.”

The Christian message is that we are saved not by our own record, but by Christ’s record.

  • So Christianity is not a religion or an irreligion. It is something else altogether.

Prayer Time

Download Week 1:

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

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Download the Intermission:

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Download Week 11:

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The Reason For God Study Guide Chapter 10

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 10 The Problem of Sin

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:

Sin

The world is fundamentally flawed. Christians call this sin.

Most of us do not understand what Christians mean by the term of sin.

  • Why is talking about sin important?

Sin and Human Hope

Many of us have the impression that the Christian doctrine of sin is bleak and pessimistic about human nature. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

  • What is the legal model of explaining sin?
  • What is the medical model of explaining sin?

How are both broken models?

The essence of sin is a wrecked relationship with God, one another and the whole created order.

  • Sins are attempts to fill voids. We fill the void of right relationship with God with other things.

How do you achieve “low self esteem?” Why is this important? What does achieving low self esteem mean?

  • You are free when you lose the right to make others the reason why you are a mess.

The Meaning of Sin

Soren Kierkegaard: Sin is: in despair not wanting to be oneself before God…. Faith is: that the self in being itself and wanting to be itself is grounded transparently in God.

  • Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity apart from hi.

What does this mean?

  • Everyone gets an identity from somewhere or something.

So sin is not just breaking rules but making good things into ultimate things.

Our need for worth is so powerful that whatever we base our identify and value on we essentially “deify.” We will worship it in the same way and passion that we worship God, even if you are non religious.

  • In what ways do you see this as true?
  • How do you see this as true in your life?

The Personal Consequences of Sin

How does sin destroy us personally?

  • If we put our value in anything but God that is a fundamentally unstable position.
    • What if you are a bad parent, or you lose your job?
    • An identity not based on God leads to deep forms of addiction.
      • We become slaves to what we use as god. They control our hearts and actions.
      • We are in denial to the degree which we are controlled by our god –substitutes.
      • One has only the choice between God and idolatry.
    • A life not centered on God leads to emptiness.
      • What happens if you do get the desires of your heart?
      • You climb the mountain and realize there is nothing there. You are still unfulfilled and flawed.

The Social Consequences of Sin

Sin does not only have an internal impact on us but a devastating effect on the social fabric.

  • Jonathan Edwards: Society is deeply fragmented when anything but God is our highest love.
    • If our highest aim is the good for our own nation or tribe or family then we put our own interests above that of others.
    • When God is our ultimate good and life center, we will find our heart drawn to not only people that we like and that are like us but to everyone of all types and to the world.
    • If we get our identity by our politics or social nationalism we are prone to despise and demonize the opposition.
    • If you get your identity from being very moral or good you look down at people who are not as good.

The Cosmic Consequences of Sin

The Bible is unique in the way it depicts creation. It isn’t a result of a battle or violence, it is lovingly made and crafted by God. God made the world at peace. Sin destroys that peace. WE have warped the world from the way it began.

What can put it right Again?

We need to find our identity in Jesus. We need to find our entire identity in Jesus. God wants us, not our achievements, status or things.

  • We need to realize we are sinners who need a savior.
  • We need to trust God and his plan.
  • Allow Jesus to be our center.

Everyone has to live for something. Whatever that something is become “Lord of your Life,” whether you think of it that way or not.

Jesus is the only Lord who if you receive him, with fulfill you completely, and if you fail him, will forgive you eternally.

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

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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

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Download the Intermission:

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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

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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

Life on the Biblical “Times Square”

Hello all. So we just finished our second full day here in Jerusalem. What an amazing place. One thing that really took me back was the number of different people groups that are here. This is truly a melting pot – Northern, Southern, and Central Europeans are all over this city too along with the Jews and Arabs. We have met some Americans here as well. There’s such a bond when you see people in a foreign land that you have something in common with. I can only imagine how Jesus felt when he was here. He was so relational to the people that he interacted with. I guess I’d have to say that’s one (of the many) things that God has been putting on this teams’ heart – to be relational with the people we encounter so that we may be Jesus to those that don’t know Him.

One thing you can pray for us about is that God helps us do just that. We need to find common ground with the people we’ll encounter so that they’ll be more receptive to our message – that Jesus is the Son of God and that He saves! Being in Jerusalem can be overwhelming in many aspects: cultural, religious, and even the heat. Despite these things, we definitely know that God brought us here for a reason.

As you’ve probably already read, we’re staying in an incredible place on the Via Dolorosa where Jesus walked on His way to be crucified. Also close to us is the Dome of the Rock, which is an absolutely gorgeous building, but is also a spiritually dark place. By seeing such a building, I can’t help but think of what a stronghold this place is for the devil. We’ve been to some “significant” spiritual places while we’ve been here, but honestly, the spirit of some of those places was pretty dark. I can’t think of a better way for the enemy to take ahold of people than by disguising himself in “holy” places and leading people astray in false beliefs under the guise of “religion.” Please pray against this.

On a lighter note, we went to the Garden of Gethsemane and once again up the Mount of Olives. The garden was truly peaceful and had olive trees that were 2000 years old. I could see why Jesus would go to such a place when going through so much mental and emotional torment before being crucified. Praying there was truly an amazing experience.

Tomorrow – Tel Aviv! And we start doing street evangelism. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, and we’ll keep you all updated on how the evangelism goes.

– Jeff

God of the City

” and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”  Acts 1:8

Our first day in Israel was such a moving experience for me and I feel I can say this for all of the team.  The Gospel was sent out from this very place, and we get to be a small piece of the movement to bring it back to Jerusalem!  I am so thankful that we are able to stay in the Old City of Jerusalem – there is so much history of our Savior right here.  In fact, the Austrian Hospice is located on Via Delorosa.  This means ” the road of pain” and it is the very street that Jesus Christ carried his cross to his death.

As we walk the narrow cobblestone streets, I am trying to take in all that is around me.  We walked to the Western Wall yesterday morning and saw the Temple Mount.  This is the place that Jewish people come to pray and it was once known as the Wailing Wall – they also believe that no matter where they are, their prayers come first to the wall and then go up to God.  There is a tradition of writing prayers on a piece of paper and sticking it in the wall.

Next, we saw the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  For a moment, I felt like I was on the set of Indiana Jones!  The church was very dark and parts were underground with lots of twists and turns.  Many Christians believe this is the place of Golgotha – the location of the crucifixion and resurrection.  There are sections owned by the Roman Catholic Church and some by the Greek Orthodox church.  Mike pointed out an old piece of a Roman column that was once part of a Roman temple and mentioned that this gives possible proof that this could be the location because the Romans tried to stamp out Christianity and would have built a temple over a place that Christians gathered to worship.

Our highlight of the day was definitely visiting the Garden Tomb.  This is another possible site of the crucifixion and resurrection and honestly, the Spirit was all over this beautiful garden!  Scripture tells us that Jesus was buried outside the City, and this location was the spot once known for executions.  There is a huge face of a skull in the rock which some believe it the true Golgotha, or place of the skull.  The garden was once a beautiful vineyard and as we walked and listened to our guide talk about Jesus, my heart was smiling.  Seeing the tomb was an experience hard to describe.  There was a very different feeling here than at the other site.  I had a chance to go inside alone and look at the burial plot.  As I stood there speechless, I noticed the sign on the door that said ” He is not here, He is risen”.  Amen!  I was overwhelmed with tears and for a moment even lost my breath.  I don’t know if this is the spot or not, but my heart was so moved for my Savior that I like to believe it was!

Our last stop of the day was The Mount of Olives where we enjoyed fresh fruit and beautiful scenery.  As sunset approached, we looked out over the city of Jerusalem and our team prayed together.  One of the songs we will be singing this week is God of the City.  If you come to Green Hills Church, then you will recognize this song.  I can not tell you how moved I have been over the lyrics and how much hope it gives me as I look out on a beautiful city that doesn’t recognize its Lord.  3% of Israel is Christian.  This is why we are here – to proclaim the good news and tell of our wonderful Jesus!

 

Take a moment and listen to this beautiful song.  I hope it blesses you today!

Christ is All,

Tabitha

Some Pictures of Jerusalem

Reason For God Study Guide Chapter 6

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 6

Ice Breaker:  Which miracle would you wish you had seen and why?

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

Science has disproved Christianity

  • What did you like about this chapter?
  • What challenged you in this chapter?

Richard Dawkins believed that you couldn’t be an intelligent scientific thinker and still hold religious beliefs.

  • 7% of scientists believe in a personal God.

Aren’t miracles scientifically impossible?

Enlightenment belief: miracles cannot be reconciled to a modern, rational view of the world.

  • Scholars then say because the Bible has miracles then it cant be true.
  • This is the premise behind the claim that Science has proven there is no such thing as miracles.
  • This is a leap of faith.

Science is only equipped to test natural causes and not others.

You cant prove or disprove God through science.

  • Bias against supernatural
    • Just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it isn’t real
    • If there is a God then the supernatural is possible.

Isn’t Science in Conflict with Christianity?

Media fuels this as a conflict. It paints battles between secular and Christians.

  • Makes it seem you can be rational and scientific or religious.

Argument: many churches believe in guided evolution. Catholics and Methodists included.

Evolution is really not science it is philosophy.

  • It believes in “Philosophical Naturalism” – that everything has a natural cause and organic life is solely the product of random forces guided by no one.
  • Francis Collins is a leading scientist who rejects the philosophy of naturalism. He believes in a divine creator and fine tuner.

Many models of how science and religion may be related to each other:

  • Ian Barbour: Conflict. Dialogue, integration, independence
  • Conflict: both creation science people and staunch atheists
    • He doesn’t like this model
    • I do like it.
    • Most scientist believe in a way that allows for both God and for science.

Dawkins’ assertion of only 7% believing scientists is flawed

  • The guestion is asked to only “see” scientists who believe in a Christian God not all that believe in a God.
  • This study does not tell why they don’t believe.
    • Most of them brought their atheistic beliefs with them before becoming scientists
    • Steven Jay Gould disagreed with Dawkins from personal experience.
    • Thomas Nagel also disagreed because of morality that is hardwired into people.

Doesn’t Evolution Disprove the Bible?

Many people hold to positions where Creationism and Evolution coexist.

He believes that Genesis 1 and 2 are repeating the same event like Judges 4 and 5 and Exodus 14 and 15.

I have a problem with this:

  • Death before the fall.
    • Methodist church denouncing the creation account.
    • Denouncing the creation account = death of your church.
    • There is no real evidence for evolution. It starts with a premise, there is no God so how did we get here?
      • I believe in micro evolution but there is not proof for macro evolution.
      • Where is the record?  Where are the evolutions today?
      • Most mutations are negative and sterile.

Conclusion: you don’t have to hold any of these positions to be a believer in Jesus.

Keller believes in a guided process of natural selection., and also rejects evolution as an all encompassing theory.

Matthew 28:17

They worshipped him but some doubted. WE struggle with miracles.

Miracles were never magic tricks, instead Jesus used them to restore the natural order not suspend the natural order.

  • Miracles were not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power.
  • Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds but a promise to our hearts that the world we all want is coming.

 

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

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