Category Archives: Bible Study

Book Discussion Day 2: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

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Chapter 1 – The truth about reality is knowable.

The authors introduce a contradiction.  Why do so many people demand the truth in everything but morality and religion? They respond to this problem with four questions about truth.6

  1. What is truth?
  2. Can truth be known?
  3. Can truths about God be known?
  4. So what? Who cares about truth?

The tool Geisler and Turek use to identify false statements and philosophies in today’s culture is the recognition of the self-defeating statement.  That would be anything that fails to meet its own standard.

Example:  There’s no such thing as truth. (For this to be true it would have to be false, wouldn’t it?)

Popular self-defeating statements:

All truth is relative.

There are no absolutes.

It’s true for you but not for me.

There are two messages in Chapter 1

The first one is that ideas have consequences.  Good ideas have good consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences.  The second message is that false ideas about truth lead to false ideas about life.

The conclusion of the chapter is that truth exists.  To deny truth is to make a self-defeating truth claim that there is no truth.

Is this a self-defeating statement?

Truth cannot be known.

This chapter has a powerfully revealing story about a conversation between two evangelists and an agnostic, a person who isn’t sure whether God exists.  When asked, he said that he couldn’t know anything for sure.  The response to him was, “How do you know for sure that you can’t know anything for sure?”7

Identifying the self-defeating statement for him helped him accept that while he might not know anything for sure it was possible that he could know something for sure.

Here is where the book points out that when a person has this viewpoint they could be open to hearing evidence of the truth about God

The point about truth is summed up by the statement, if you say “truth can’t be known” you can’t claim that what you say is true.  You can’t have it both ways.8

Evidence can only convince the willing

see no eveil
Design Toscano

The idea that all religions are true is completely disproven here.

Some of the fundamental contradicting beliefs of the major religions are pointed out.

I found the most compelling part of the chapter to be the discussion of truth vs. tolerance on pages 46-48.  I hope you read it.

In summary, we learn from the chapter that truth is not dependent on feelings or perceptions because something is true whether we like it or not.  Since the major religions do not agree on major issues about God then all religions cannot be true.  And finally, we cannot adopt a type of ‘tolerance’ that requires us to accept that all religions are true.

Discussion point

What did you think about tolerance?  Have you talked to others about the idea that tolerance means we are required to accept what everyone else believes as true?

One question that I think this chapter leads to is this.  Is any religion true?

I found it helpful to have a practical definition of truth to aid the discussion. Calling truth “that which corresponds to its object” or “that which describes an actual state of affairs” is a useful place to base this discussion on.9  It really helps in the area I’ve found where I have seen people confused or misguided by the idea that truth is relative.  I appreciate that the book begins by covering the idea completely so that we can eliminate any doubt about the concept of absolute truth.  Has anyone tried to convince you that truth is relative?  What happened?


6Geisler & Turek page 36 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

7Geisler & Turek page 43 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

8Geisler & Turek page 44 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

9Geisler & Turek page 37 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

Ministry

 

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.

1 Corinthians 3:6  He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the spirit.  For the letter kills, but the spirit produces life.
Observation
We have been made ministers of a new coveneant of the spirit.
Application in my life
The letter of the law convicts sin and the wages or the sentence is a death sentence, hence the letter kills.  The spirit produces life through the ministry of Jesus and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  We are freed from the consequences of our sin and able to live under the direction of the spirit which aligns us with the mind of Christ.  As ministers, it is our role to serve, to aide, to teach, to pray over, to correct, to disciple, and to love.  We are ambassadors of the Christian way of life, and we invite as many as we can to choose it and follow it and spread it and practice it with us.
My prayer
Lord, thank you for the new covenant, and for showing me how to minister it.  Let your will be done in this area in my life and the lives of those whom I share my life with, Amen

Helping Others

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Genesis 41:12-13
“A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard.  When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream. And as he interpreted to us, so it came about.  I was restored to my office and the baker was hanged.”
Observation
The cupbearer tells Pharaoh about Joseph, what Joseph had done, and he vouched for Joseph before the most powerful person in the land.
Application in my life
Joseph’s is a story of a man rising from the lowest depths to the highest heights.  It does not take place unless the cupbearer bears witness to Pharaoh about what this man Joseph can do.  That does not happen unless Joseph responds to the needs of the cupbearer.  At that time, I wonder what Joseph was thinking.  Here I am in this awful situation and these men want something.  Why should I bother?  Who are they?  I don’t know, but whatever he thought Joseph did respond to them.  And by helping them it paved the way for him to have an oppertunity later to go before Pharaoh.  When he went to see Pharaoh he helped him.  Joseph was ready to be used by God in this important role because he had done what was needed earlier, helped those in need.
So for me I want to understand that at anytime and with any person I might be helping what I do is important and valuable to them, if to no one else.  We never know who will be a witness for us in the future.  But someday they might be a witness before the most powerful; before Jesus, and testify about what we did for them.
My prayer
Lord, Joseph’s story reveals much to us if we let it.  With the things You have blessed me let me be responsible, and wiling to help those who I can, and do it with joy and love, Amen
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Contentment

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
1 Timothy 6:6  But godliness with contentment is a great gain.
Observation
Godliness is a character trait that is spoken of as profitable.  Godliness is combined with contentment and given high esteem as benefitting those who attain it.
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Application in my life 
Temptation is a challenge every person faces, both believer and non-believer.  The consequences for giving into temptation are dire.  Godliness is a goal only for the believer.  Godliness combined  with contentment rewards those who posses both.  How can this be acheived?  Understanding what it means to be content, which is something to grow in, becoming more knowledgeable about it, and experienced with it. One faith message is that prayer and communication with God about the things we face will bring us contentment.  Asking for God to supply our needs and the desires of our hearts when we pray is one part. So, perhaps when I see something desirable, whether a car or clothes or computer, I can ask myself am I content without having this new thing?  Can I be content whether I have it or not?  My answer should be yes.  If not, I need to ask God to help me see what the cause of my unhappiness is and address it with God’s ability to heal me spiritually, or emotionally through counseling or ministry.  Like a support group.  If I can be content without it then there are other questions. Is this going to cause me temptation that I might be able to resist?  WIll I unwisely incur debt to get it?  These questions can help me recognize what it is to be contented so that I can practice and grow better at living a contented lifestyle.
My prayer 
Lord there is great gain associated with godliness and contentment.  I thank you for this lesson and the oppertuntiy to attain these things and live a life blessed by You.  Let me embrace the contentment that You would have me to experience. Amen
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Heart

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Acts 7:58-60 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.  And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this he fell asleep.
Observation
One of the people Steven asked God to forgive when he was put to death was Saul.  His dying words were do not hold this sin against them.
Application in my life
Perhaps this, Stephen’s selfless loving forgiveness, is the source of Saul’s opportunity. A door opened, through which Saul could enter and choose to convert from being a persecutor of Christians to stand up and be counted as a leader of the Christian movement.
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God approached Saul and offered him forgiveness and a chance to change from within, change his heart mind and soul.  So I think of this as an example. Why? Because Saul was a mortal enemy, and he was won over – not by combat or conflict – but by the power of God’s love and the power of God’s presence.  So for us we can know that our enemies today can be won over by the power of God’s presence, love, and forgiveness.  So as Steven prayed for his enemies, we should also pray for our enemies that they allow the truth to be heard and are thereby transformed by a change of heart.
My  prayer
Lord, a more powerful human example than Stephen, I cannot imagine.  Let that be one example for me as I pray with the belief that such prayer will lead to the conversion of the strongest opponents of Christian faith, Amen

Worry

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Psalm 145:5
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondorous works, I will meditate.
Observation
Meditating about the splendor and majesty and works of God is a proper investment of time.
Application
How much do I meditate on God?  Do I spend more time worrying, thinking about my problems or wasting time on unproductive thought? I want to be reminded to meditate on God when I catch myself being less than prudent with my thoughts.  If I make note of when this happens I can keep a record and be able to document the benefits that come about because of this change in behavior.
Prayer
Lord, let me redeem the time and invest the time You have given me fruitfully, even my very thoughts, more and more with who You are and what You have done, and less and less with frivolous or empty pursuit, Amen

Bible Study

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Scripture
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:14-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬
Observation 
In order to do the good work that God wants people to do, the practice of learning Bible scriptures and applying them to daily living is the path to use to accomplish things that have real lasting value.
Application in my life 
There are many competing beliefs in the world.  There are people all around who teach and profess principles they assert are practices for others to follow and benefit from.  My responsibility is to focus on what I learn from the Bible as my primary source for what to practice and what to believe is best for me and people I know.
My prayer 
Lord reveal Your teachings to me as I commit to understanding them and applying them daily.  Guide me along a direction that avoids harmful ideas, and promotes life fulfilling behaviors.  Amen

Disciple

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Matthew 13:19-23
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart…20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it.  He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.
Observation
The four responses to the word of God are explained and only one response is the fruitful response.
Application in my life
I hope this will be a time for me to bear fruit in a small group of people who desire to learn and grow in their journey as Christians.
My prayer
Lord, I pray that You will direct me and the people who are to be in the Bible study. Let us be fruit bearers who will continue in the practices of applying the words of the Bible after this period of group study is over. Amen
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Prayer

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
The Mystery of Prayer
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭12:1-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
…he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭12:12-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬
Observation
The angel exhibited 7 supernatural expressions while rescuing Peter.  1 appearing suddenly 2 providing light 3 loosing his chains 4 making Peter think it was a vision 5 passing the guards unnoticed 6 opening the gate 7 leaving suddenly.
Peter did not recognize the angel or the reality of what happened until it was over.
Later the people praying did not believe the report of the girl that their prayers were answered.
Application in my life
I am touched by the message in verse 15 that shows how the answer to prayer may not be accepted or believed because of the source of the answer.  The church did not know at the time that their prayers for Peter had been answered and they did not believe it had happened even though the answer had come and Peter had been freed. Here is my conclusion.  Even when I do not see that my prayers have been answered that still isn’t a good enough reason for me to believe or think that they haven’t been.
Peter was probably as close as a person could be to Jesus yet he did not recognize the presence of the angel or the reality of what was happening.  If Peter didn’t realize what God was doing, perhaps I would have even less of a chance to recognize God moving in my life when it happens.  My hope is that I will realize afterterwards that it was God, just as Peter did.
I have to firmly understand that complete prayer includes the act of believing, not waiting until I see results before believing.  This is an accurate example of faith.  Easier said than done.  Just as the people in the house did not believe – that did not make it any less true that Peter was free.  So it wouldn’t be any less true that prayers have been answered even when I haven’t seen it for myself.
My prayer
Lord I am amazed by how great a work you do for those you love despite how I might miss it sometimes.  I want to take this lessson to heart so that I will better appreciate how you respond to prayer and make a difference in our everyday lives, Amen.
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Meditation

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Observation

The psalmist pledges to speak the things that honor God and to meditate on the things that Honor God.

Application my life

The words I speak need to be honest words that represent what I feel not what I think other people want to hear me say.  Another way of saying this is that I should not be politically correct to get the approval of others when in fact I do not feel the same way as they do.  That means that I refrain from saying things which I do not feel aligned with or that do not reflect my thinking.  My words need to be what I believe, because they come from my heart.  That represents my integrity.  So in order for my words to be such that they are honoring to God my thoughts that lead to those words need to be right minded thoughts which God approves of.  My meditation therefore needs to be about the things God says are good.  And as an extension of that train of thought, I need to purpose to spend time in meditation, making certain that I am spending time focused on God’s priorities.  I can set aside time for meditation and use scripture passages to meditate over.  In this way I will know that the meditation of my heart is acceptable to God.

My prayer

I will set aside time daily to mediate on your word Lord.  I want the meditation of my heart to be acceptable to you.  I want the words of my mouth to be acceptable to you.  I will focus on your word on a regualar basis. Amen

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