Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Israel (i.e. Southern Israel = Judah) was in trouble in Isaiah 3 ---- BIG TROUBLE!! But they didn't know it.

Their politicians and preachers had told them over and over that all was well. "Peace, peace" they had said.

The humble repentance that alone could have saved them from the encroaching horror of military defeat had become impossible. Arrogant, aloof, elitist they went on, on, on .......... to the edge and eventually over the precipice, unable because of their moral and spiritual dissipation to turn back. They stumbled as in a drunken stupor.

They would not realize the consequence of what they had become until they in exile hung their harps in the trees on the banks of the rivers of Babylon, their hearts too heavy for song (Psalm 137:1-4).

I urge you to read Isaiah 3. And read the short statement regarding it on the Fellowship of St. James website. ( http://merecomments.typepad.com/daily_reflections ). Then read Isaiah 3 again.

Then comment. Can we as Americans learn anything from Isaiah? Are there lessons specifically for us as Christians? Or is any comparison misguided?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Week of Oct 26-Nov 1

Dear All,

I apologize for late posting, I have been really sick and totally forgot... Love :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008
Luke 17:20-37
James 1:21-27
Psalms 63,98,103
Isaiah 3

Monday, October 27, 2008
Luke 18:1-8
James 2:1-13
Psalms 41,52,44
Isaiah 4

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Luke 18:9-14
James 2:14-26
Psalms 119:49-72, 34,47,48
Isaiah 5

Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Luke 18:15-17
James 3:1-12
Psalms 45,111,112,148, 150
Isaiah 6

Thursday, October 30, 2008
Luke 18:18-23
James 3:13-4:7
Psalms 49,50,53,59,60
Isaiah 7

Friday, October 31, 2008
Luke 18:24-30
James 4:7-17
Psalms 40,54,51
Isaiah 8

Saturday, November 01, 2008
Matthew 5:1-12
Hebrews 11:32-12:2,18-24
Psalms 111,112,148,150
Isaiah 9

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



1. What does Keller mean when he says, "Jekyll becomes Hyde, not in spite of his goodness, but because of his goodness."? (p. 177). (Hint: "Why would Jekyll become Hyde without the potion?" -- p. 176). He was impressed with his own goodness to the point that his pride was a worse thing than the evil deeds done by Mr. Hyde.

2. What are two "forms" in which sin, evil (self-centeredness and pride) are expressed (p. 177)? 1. Riotous self-gratifying living. 2. Self-righteousness (Pharisaism).

3. How can being very, very good be a "rejection of the gospel of Jesus" (p. 177)? All have sinned, ..... perhaps, if we take the NT seriously (particularly the fact that as decadent as was the Roman Empire Jesus said virtually nothing about it but much about self-righteous religious people), none moreso than those who are Pharisaic. All need the Gospel, but those convinced of their own goodness reject it because they don't realize their need.

4. What does Keller mean in saying that religion and irreligion are ultimately spiritually identical (p. 177)? Both lead away from God. They are two opposite paths that lead to a common destination.

5. What has caused "millions of people" raised (in church) to be "inoculated against Christianity" (p. 179)? (Do you agree with this assertion)? Their experience with religious people has been with Pharisees.

6. "This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time" (p. 181). What does? A recognition that we are so flawed that Jesus had to die (for us) and yet that we are so loved that he was glad to die (for us).

7. "Those words, however, can only be spoken on the outside of an experience of radical grace" (p. 182) What words? Why? "Because of grace, Christianity sounds very easy. So I think I'll become a Christian and then go do whatever I want." The true experience of grace is profound and it leads to disciplined living rather than licentiousness.

8. What is the "threat of grace" (pp. 182-185)? (Hint: What may be "the greatest paradox of all" -- p. 185)? Grace is free and yet it captures us and enslaves us. The great example Keller poses is that of Jean Valjean in Le Miserables. He received a great act of kindness which haunted and pursued him the rest of his life. The act both freed and enslaved him all at once.

9. In truth, there is only one thing to which grace is a threat (p. 185). What? The illusion that we are or could ever be free. We'll be enslaved either to our sin (again perhaps the worst of it being Pharisaism) or to the grace that frees us from it.


1. The "first reason" Keller gives in answer to the question, "Why did Jesus have to die?" is that "real forgiveness is costly suffering" (p. 187). The cost is in part pain. "It hurts terribly. Many people would say it feels like a kind of death" (p. 189). Why? Whose pain? Where does it come from? Jesus (in the cross) frees us by willingly experiencing the pain for us. The human experience if it is to have meaning is necessarily painful. We experience the pain of our own sin. And we experience the pain of the offenses committed against us. And in a world created by a perfect God we experience the pain of forgiving those who offend us -- forgoing the consolation of revenge because there is no other way to have a relationship with God.

2. "Jesus's death was only a good example if it was more than an example ......." (p. 193). What else did it have to be? It had to be necessary. There is nothing exemplary about sacrificing a life unnecessarily.

3. This chapter speaks of the "Great Reversal" (p. 195ff). What does the phrase mean? (Hint: "On the Cross Christ wins through losing, triumphs through defeat, achieves power through weakness ............" (p. 196). Though he was in the form of God he didn't count equality with God something to be grasped. The implications for us are enormous. The way up is down. The way to be rich is to be poor. Etc.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week of Oct 19-Oct 25

Sunday, October 19, 2008
Luke 15:8-10
Galatians 4:21-31
Psalms 148,149,150,114,115
Nehemiah 9

Monday, October 20, 2008
Luke 15:11-32
Galatians 5:1-15
Psalms 25,9,15
Nehemiah 10

Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Luke 16:1-13
Galatians 5:16-26
Psalms 26,28,36,39
Nehemiah 11

Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Luke 16:14-18
Galatians 6:1-10
Pslams 38,119:25-48
Nehemiah 12

Thursday, October 23, 2008
Luke 16:19-31
Galatians 6:11-18
Psalms 37:1-18, 37:19-42
Nehemiah 13

Friday, October 24, 2008
Luke 17:1-4
James 1:1-11
Psalms 31,35
Isaiah 1

Saturday, October 25, 2008
Luke 17:5-10
James 1:12-20
Psalms 30,32,42,43
Isaiah 2

Tuesday, October 14, 2008



1. "It's almost like their moral intuitions are free-floating in midair -- far off the ground" (p. 145). To whom/what does that statement refer. It refers to all who have adopted the moral values of the current Western culture. Because there is no sense of ultimate reality (for instance, God) which undergirds a sense of morality, the passion with which moral positions are promoted/ defended really don't make sense.

2. Some philosophers (such as poet Czeslaw Milosz -- p. 145) believe that people in earlier times believed in God and consequently in human dignity and that people now in the current (and future) scientific-technological world will discard religion as a basis for a concept of human dignity. So there will no longer be a belief in the dignity of human beings. Tim Keller disagrees and has a "radical thesis" (p. 145-146) which causes him to think we may yet encounter a future where there remains a sense of human dignity. What is his radical thesis? "I think people in our culture know unavoidably that there is a God, but they are repressing what they know." Surely this means that even as we deny (through our practices if not our language) human dignity by countenancing aboriton, euthanasia, etc. we'll not be able to avoid the nagging, haunting sense that we're doing something terribly wrong.

3. Moral relativism is a belief that "no one should impose their moral views on others, because everyone has the right to find truth inside him or herself" (p. 146). It's a commonly heard assertion. But ........ "Why is it impossible (in practice) for anyone to be a consistent moral relativist even when they claim that they are" (p. 146)? What's Keller's answer? How do you feel about it? It is impossible simply because we all have a code of conduct that we not only attempt live by ourselves, but also to impose on others. That is even true when we insist that a primary tenet in our morality is that everyone should be allowed to live by their own code of conduct, however different it may be from others.

4. What is "cultural relativism" (p. 149)? A view that all moral beliefs are culturally created -- we believe them because we are part of a community that gives them plausibility. There are no absolutes except those imposed by a community.

5. "There is no way to derive the concept of the dignity of every individual from the way things really work in nature" -- natural law (p. 151). Why? (Hint: "There is no basis for moral obligation unless we argue that nature is in some part unnatural. We can't know that nature is broken in some way unless there is some supernatural standard of normalcy ..." (p. 155). Nature thrives on violence and predation, not on a sense of the dignity of the individual. If one argues that what is meant is that "human nature" instills a certain moral code, the question then becomes where that code comes from.

6. "Without God (man) can't justify moral obligation, and yet he can't not know it exists" (p. 154-155). That statement summarizes the cultural/moral relativist conundrum. Think about it and restate it in street language. Back to Keller's "radical thesis" -- We know what we know -- that there is a God and that we are liable to him -- even when we deny that we know it.

7. What should you do with a premise which leads to a conclusion "you know isn't true" (p. 156)? What powerful point is Keller making? You must either change the premise or the conclusion. Or in this case, with no code of ethics rooted in something absolute (God) you cannot argue against the statement, "Napalming babies is culturally relevant." Your premise doesn't allow it.

8. What does the phrase "pointless litigation of existence before an empty bench" (p. 157) mean? Why is it another way of saying ...... "despair" (p. 157)? It's from playwright Arthur Miller's play, AFTER The FALL. The character, Quentin, as he gradually loses his faith in God arrives at a point of despair in which he can give no reason for living according to a code which can't really exist because there's no one (God) in the judge's chair.

9. When a person gets to the point of philosophical despair (as mentioned in the previous discussion point) he has "two options" (p. 157). What are they? 1. Just don't think about it. Eat, drink and be merry with no thought about consequences. But don't allow yourself any time when there's quietness and reflection or the despair will return. 2. Yield to that which you really do know, but which you've suppressed. Yield to God.


1. Why is it "hard to avoid the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with the world" (p. 159)? There is a pulsating sense that we are not what we are meant to be -- individually or corporately.

2. What did Keller mean in sayng to a distraught young man that "the good news was -- he was a sinner" (p. 160)? (Hint: "........ I achieved low self-esteem" -- p. 161. Further hint: "The Christian doctrine of sin, properly understood, can be a great source for human hope ...... -- p. 161). The realization that we are sinful is requisite to a change that can bring us to God who can redeem us. As long as we wallow in the pig pen, unaware of the reality of our condition, we'll have no sense that we need to turn to God.

3. Sin is not simply doing bad things. It's more profound than that. "It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship to God" ( p. 162). What does that mean to you?

4. "An identity not based on God also leads inevitably to deep forms of addiction" (p. 165). What does that mean? (Hint: "One has only the choice between God and idolatry ..... p. 166). We will live (controlled by) for something.

5. "A life not centered on God leads to emptiness. Building our lives on something besides God not only hurts us if we don't get the desires of our hearts, but also if we do" (p. 166). Elaborate on that thought. Nothing other than God can satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. We are obviously disappointed when we don't get that which we desire. It's less obvious, but nonetheless true, that the things we desire and pursue other than God cannbot but disappoint if we do get them.

6. The wonderful Hebrew word "shalom" (peace) describes not the absence of conflict so much as the absolute presence of all that is good (the creation as God made it in Genesis). "The devastating loss of shalom through sin is described in Genesis 3" (p. 170). "Human beings are so integral to the fabric of things that when human beings turned from God the entire warp and woof of the world unraveled" (p. 170). How does this explain our broken, decaying world which is "in bondage to decay" and which is "subject to futility" (Romans 8)? Please share some things you've seen which illustrate this.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Week of Oct 12-Oct 18

Sunday, October 12, 2008
Luke, 13:22-30
Galatians, 1:11-24
Psalms 146,147,11,112,113
Nehemiah 2

Monday, October 13, 2008
Luke, 13:31-35
Galatians, 2:1-10
Psalms 1,2,3,4,7
Nehemiah 3

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Luke 14:1-6
Galatians 2:11-21
Pslams 5,6,10,11
Nehemiah 4

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Luke 14:7-14
Galatians 3:1-14
Pslams 119:1-24, 12,13,14
Nehemiah 5

Thursday, October 16, 2008
Luke 14:15-24
Galatians 3:15-29
Psalms 18:1-20, 18:21-50
Nehemiah 6

Friday, October 17, 2008
Luke 14:25-35
Galatians 4:1-11
Psalms 16,17,22
Nehemiah 7

Saturday, October 18, 2008
Luke 15:1-7
Galatians 4:12-20
Psalms 20,21,110,116,117
Nehemiah 8

Wednesday, October 8, 2008



1. How does Tim Keller answer the question, "What is Christianity?" (p. 116)? Why, in the context of a discussion about belief/unbelief (and its attacks on Christian faith), does he think this an important question? (How do fundamentalists answer the question)? Christianity is a "body of believers who assent to these great ecumenical creeds." Common beliefs such as God created the earth, Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, that he was crucified, and that he rose again after the third day bring us together. There are differences in worship styles that set us apart. The fundamentalist says that Christianity is what they say it is.

2. ".........we are all deeply interested in seeing the case for God go one way or the other" (p. 119). What factors cause us to care "deeply" whether or not God exists?

We will believe in one thing or another. The passion to believe in something brings us to take a closer look at God.
3. "The approach I will take in the rest of this volume is called 'critical rationality' (p. 120). He uses it to argue that belief in God may be a leap of faith, but it isn't a blind leap (CM's words). What is critical rationality? (additional question: What does the phrase "explanatory power" on p. 122 mean)?

Critical rationality "assumes that there are some arguements that many or even the most rational people will find convincing, even though there is no arguement that will be persuasive to everyone regardless of viewpoint." Explanatory power is the best explanation for the way things are.

4. What does ".....all arguments are rationally avoidable in the end" (p. 120) mean?

Some arguements are more rational than others. All arguements are rationally avoidable in the end.

1. What are "divine fingerprints" (p. 127)? Why might it be a better idea to think of them as "clues" rather than "proofs" (p. 128)?

You can see God's imprint on everything around us. There is no way to prove it but the evidence is everywhere.

2. Assuming that the world(s) we know began with a Big Bang, what is the heart of Keller's argument that "Everything we know in this world is 'contingent,' has a cause outside of itself" (p. 129). What does the word "contingent" mean in this context?
That the Big bang may have happened but it was put into effect by God.

3. Francis Collins said, "When you look from the perspective of a scientist at the universe, it looks as if it knew we were coming" (p. 130). What line of reasoning would one use to argue from this to a belief in God (the "Fine-Tuning Argument")? (Why did the gamblers aim their six-shooters at the dealer in a game of poker)?

The fine tuning arguement is rationally avoidable. However, for the sake of aguement Keller talks about all of the things that line up to make a universe ready for us. Ready and fine tuned because a God that we serve has put it into motion. The gamblers aim their six shooters he has dealt himself twenty hands straight of four aces in the same poker game. Assuming that there has been cheating the arguement begins. When in reality the luck of the dealer could be real.
4. "As a proof for the existence of God, the regularity of nature is escapable. ............... As a clue for God, however, it is helpful" (p. 132). How so?

5. Beauty argues in behalf of the existence of God. ("Updike seems to be saying that regardless of the beliefs of our mind about the random meaninglessness of life, before the face of beauty we know better" -- p. 134). In this context, what are "innate desires" (p. 135) How does the innate human desire for beauty serve as a "major clue that God is there."

God has given us a yearning for beauty.

6. What do modern atheists pose as a "Clue Killer" -- that which would argue that "the clues are clues to nothing" (p. 136)? Keller deals lengthily with this argument, but in the end is dismissive of it in the paragraph on p. 139 which begins, "It comes down to this." Summarize his argument.
(Hint: " ...... if this argument proves anything at all it proves too much -- p. 140).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Week of Oct 5- Oct 11

Sunday, October 05, 2008
Luke 12:13-21
Haggai 2:1-23
Psalms 118,145
Ezra 5

Monday, October 06, 2008
Luke 12:22-34
1 John 4:1-11
Psalms 106:1-18, 106:19-48
Ezra 6

Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Luke 12:35-48
1 John 4:12-21
Psalms 120, 121,122,123,124,125,126,127
Ezra 7

Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Luke 12:49-59
1 John, 5:1-13
Psalms 119:145-176, 128,129,130
Ezra 8

Thursday, October 09, 2008
Luke 13:1-9
1 John 5:14-21
Psalms 131,132,133,134,135
Ezra 9

Friday, October 10, 2008
Luke 13:10-17
3 John 1-14(15)
Psalms 140,142,141,143
Ezra 10

Saturday, October 11, 2008
Luke 13:18-21
Galatians 1:1-10
Psalms 137, 144, 104
Nehemiah 1