Dear Aby #3- The existence of God

Dear Aby,

Here are some great comments from Greg Koukl (Founder of Stand To Reason) on the four big questions:

All the big questions, —issues of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny—and all the secondary concerns, too—issues of sex, gender, liberty, equality, bodily rights, etc.—eventually come down to one. Are we our own, or do we belong to Someone else? If there is a God, then, to borrow from C.S. Lewis, we are the tenants and He is the Landlord. If there is no God, then all is clay and nothing but clay.

Thus, the God question is the first question whose answer lays the foundation for answers to all the others. That foundational question comes in two steps for modern people: Does God exist? If so, is He good? For Christianity to make sense in the face of the social pushback and the spirit of this age, both issues need to be addressed.
Let me offer you, in a nutshell, what I think is the easiest, most powerful way, strategically, to make your case for God. I have been using it a long time in a variety of ways, though it really came together for me quite by accident when my eldest daughter, then about eight years old, asked me an important question.

“Papa,” Annabeth asked, “how do we know God is true?” She was already a Christian, baptized at six, but was now trying to connect the dots, not regarding the “What?” but regarding the “Why?” “Why God?” was her question.

What do you say to a youngster who already believes in God but is not sure why belief in God is defensible? That was my challenge. And nothing technical would do, not at her age.

I thought for a moment how I could say something meaningful in a simple way. Then an idea crystallized in my mind. “Annabeth,” I said, “the reason we believe God is true is that God is the best explanation for the way things are.” The minute I said it I realized I had summed up in a single sentence a major thrust of how I had approached defending Christianity for decades.

You might call the principle the explanatory power of Christian theism; that is, the important details of the Christian worldview make good sense of what we actually discover the world to be like. It turns out that the picture of reality the Bible presents fits the world as we discover it and resonates with our deepest intuitions about origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.

Note the advantage to this “best explanation” strategy. There’s no need to dismissively deny the possibility of other options. We can give fair consideration to the alternatives. We’re not offering the only explanation, just the best one, all things considered.

Our confidence is based on a point I have made before: Reality is on our side. My point with Annabeth was that Christianity explains reality best, that the existence of God makes sense of features of the world that, without Him, would be unlikely in the extreme. Other worldview stories do not fare well by this standard because certain obvious features of the world simply do not fit into their narrative, putting them on a collision course with reality. So fix this fact first in your mind: God is the best explanation for the way things are.

Grandpa Larry

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Dear Aby #2

Hi Aby,

The Question of Origin asks, “How did life begin?” and “How did the universe and mankind come into existence?  The Christian worldview holds the belief that every existing thing, including humans, is the result of a personal God and Creator.  

A secular humanistic worldview rejects any thought of God and denies His existence. It says we are the product of random acts of nature with no real purpose.  

A Christian worldview, on the other hand says, we are God’s creation, designed to govern the world and fellowship with Him. ( Genesis 1:27-282:15)

The issue of origin affects how a person understands identity and human value. The question of identity seeks to answer, “What does it mean to be human?” and “Are humans more important than animals?" 

The Christian worldview holds the belief that mankind is a special creation of God who has created the human race above the animal kingdom with the responsibility of ruling over the animals and taking care of them. In contrast, the Secular Humanism worldview does not consider humans greater in value than animals because they are viewed to come from the same species. Their belief is that only through evolution have humans become more sophisticated animals.

Secular Humanists believe that there is no God, that science and the scientific process have made God obsolete. Humanists believe that only matter – things we can touch, feel, prove, or study – exists and has always existed. A human being is only matter (no soul or spirit). No supernatural explanation is needed for the existence of this matter.

The Christian worldview affirms of the existence of an intelligent, powerful, loving, just, and awesome God who exists in the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From the Christian perspective, “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:2) is the foundation for all meaning.

The Christian worldview sees every human being as intrinsically valuable because each person has been created in the likeness and image of God. Each person has been formed by God and is a unique, priceless "masterpiece."  God "breathed" into the first human the breath of life and created humans with a soul and spirit. Thus, as opposed to animals, humans have the capacity to have a relationship with God.

There is obviously much more that can be said about the question of origin, but I want to keep my message short, so that's it for now.

Love you,  Grandpa

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The "Dear Aby" letter #1

A few weeks ago the Lord stirred my heart to begin writing to my granddaughter, Aby, in order to prepare her for the mindsets she may encounter as she goes to college.  I spent many hours researching these topics, knowing that my granddaughter would probably not take the time to do all this research, however, she will read these short e-mails from her grandpa. - Larry (Aby's Grandpa)

Hi Aby,

It was nice to see you at the Basketball game on Saturday and to visit briefly. As I said, I have been thinking about you recently as I have been listening to several lectures on apologetics. (Apologetics simply means giving a defense, or a reasonable argument, for your faith.). 

One of the speakers mentioned that 7 out of 10 young people walk away from their faith when they go to college. To which you replied that you plan to be one of the three that doesn't!!! Good for you. ☺

I want to support you in that commitment by sending you some information that could prepare you to deal with questions and issues that may come your way in a university setting. You may be challenged by professors and fellow students about your faith in ways you haven't been during your high school years.

1 Peter 3:15 tells us that we are always to be prepared “to give an answer (make a defense) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you.”  

If you have a test coming up in a course, but you know ahead of time what the questions will be, you will have no problem with the test. You can look up the answers ahead of time and be confident when exam time comes. So, I want to give you some of the questions ahead of time. Hopefully, some of my input will help you think about these issues.  

Maybe you have thought about some of these things already and you are more prepared than I think, If so, then my input will be a good review for you and a confirmation of things you already know. 

Every person has a way in which they interpret and view the world they live in. It is called their Worldview. You have grown up with a Christian Worldview. You interpret your world from the perspective of Christian values and teachings found in the Bible. As you know, many people in our culture no longer have a Christian worldview. They have a secular or humanistic view of the world.

Every worldview seeks to answer four big questions, as I told you on Saturday. They are the question of:

  1. 1. Origin  – Where do we come from?
    2. Meaning – Why are we here?
    3. Morality – What’s right and what’s wrong?
    4. Destiny – Where are we going?

So, lets start with the big questions and then look at some other ones later. How would you answer these four questions and how do you think a secular humanist would answer them? Why do you think your answers are reasonable and why are they superior to a secular worldview? You might want to consider writing out your answers to make them more concrete in your mind.

I will send you my thoughts about these questions in my next message. 

Grandpa

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Worship- Unseen resistance

tpd angel demon art

by Belinda V. Kuhn

As a worship leader, I often extend the invitation to "Come and praise Jesus" and, just

as often, get the reaction of faces staring back at me like animals frozen in my

headlights. What follows next is comparable to waking up a sleepy teenager on

Saturday morning as the music team attempts to stir souls into expressing their

worship.

Why is it so difficult to enter into worship? Why it is difficult to voice our praise, give

thanks or even to focus our attention on God? One of those reasons may be that

worship is an old battleground and that there is unseen resistance to our praising God.

Several years ago, on a summer mission outreach in Prague, Czech Republic, this

resistance became very visible…

Our team’s objective was clear: to lift up the name of Jesus in the city. Each

day we asked God to show us how we could exalt His name. So it was that one

afternoon all nineteen of us zigzagged through the city streets, praying and singing

softly.

As I led our convoy, flanked by the four young children in our team, I suddenly saw a

very dark character ahead: an artist who painted devil paintings. I was concerned for

our kids and kept my eye on him as we approached. While we were still out of earshot

I suddenly saw a most amazing display - the man looked towards us and then bowed,

covering his eyes and ears until we passed by! What I saw and will never forget was a

visible demonstration of what was taking place in the unseen spiritual realm – the

forces of darkness in his soul were bowing before the presence of Jesus!

Since that day I have sought to gain a greater understanding of the power of our

worship through studying the Scriptures.

In the Bible we can read about the Ark of the Covenant as an visible example of what is

actually taking place in the heavenly realms, or the unseen world (Hebrews 8:5; 9:23,

24). On top of the Ark (Hebrews 9:5), the presence of Almighty God is encircled by

special angels called “cherubim” (Exodus 25:22) whose purpose it was to worship God

and to lead the heavenly host in worship. (Rev.4: 6-11)

One of these cherubim ‘worship leaders’ was Lucifer. (Isa.14:12-14; Ezek 28:12-19).

Being so close to God’s glory night and day, Lucifer made a fateful decision when pride

rose in his heart - he wanted to be worshipped and was able to persuade at least onethird

of the angels into idolatry (Rev.12:4). Consequently, the other two-thirds of all

created angels, led by Michael the archangel, threw Lucifer and his minions out of

heaven (Rev.12:9). Now there were thousands upon thousands of fallen angels exiled

to earth, committed to worship Satan, and Satan planned his revenge.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were created to be in loving relationship with

God and to worship Him (Genesis 1:26, 27). God gave them a free will, so they could

freely choose to obey and love Him. This is the prototype of God's design for love –

unconditionally giving your heart to another.

God also delegated some of His authority to Adam & Eve to rule the earth He had

created for them. As long as they lived in right relationship with Him, they remained

under His protection.

Satan’s diabolical plan was to tempt Adam and Eve into disobeying God and in that

way he would obtain a legal right to gain some of their God-given authority and even, if

possible, their allegiance. In Genesis three, we read the tragic story of how Adam and

Eve disobeyed God and came into Satan's clutches. Sin entered the heart of man

and caused a separation in his relationship with God.

Much as we like to think that we could have passed that same test, our daily lives

prove otherwise. The devil is constantly enticing us to choose against God by being

selfish and serving his purposes. We cannot worship both, as the angels found out

long ago. Our choice to love and obey God is at the core of worshipping Him.

Knowing all this, we can clearly see what unseen forces are truly at work when we

intend to express love and praise to God. The enemy is resisting us, trying to silence us

or make us apathetic. Our choice to worship God, to lift up our voice and our hands

and whatever else we need to in expressions of love will defeat Satan's forces in our

lives… and often in the lives of those around us.

Praising God is the act that silences the powers of darkness around us, because we

bow to the truth that Jesus is Lord!

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Knowing Jesus and His voice

by: Jeff Herringshaw2014 2015 DTS THAILAND TEAM 85

The first three of YWAM’s Foundational Values are 1) Know God; 2) Make God Known; 3) Hear God’s Voice. These are truly foundational to any meaningful connection with God. They work together to provide a picture of what it takes to have a living, intimate relationship with our Maker and Savior.

Jesus, whom we are told is the “visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) clearly expects those who follow Him to listen for and respond to His voice. Using the metaphor of a shepherd, He says in the Gospel of John, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

But how is this done? I’ve heard this question often. When I’m praying, how do I know the difference between what are merely my thoughts and what is the actual voice of Jesus? There are lots of “voices” that go through our heads at times – some condemning, some prideful, some self-serving. The answer to the question, however, is similar to the way you distinguish between the voice of your mother or good friend and the voice of a stranger. You just know that voice because it’s so familiar. Yes! It’s because you’ve been listening to them for so long. But that’s only part of recognizing who’s speaking.

You also know the “voice” of your family member or friend according to your experience with his or her character – what that person would or would not say or do that fits with who you know him or her to be. There are some things I am certain would never come from my wife’s mouth, even if others told me that she had said them. I know her that well.

Awhile back, I read a news article that illustrates this.

A young girl was walking home from school one afternoon when a car pulled up beside her and a man rolled down the window. He called her name, telling her that he worked with her mom who had just been in an accident and was being rushed to the hospital. She had asked the man to pick her daughter up from school and bring her to the hospital immediately.

The child was gripped with panic, tears in her eyes as she ran over to the rear door of the car that had been opened for her. Then she stopped. “What is my mother’s name?” she asked with a shaky voice. The man looked at her blankly for a moment, frowned and then hurriedly opened his door to get out of the car. But the girl was already running down the sidewalk back toward the school. The man followed a few steps but quickly returned to his vehicle and drove off.

School officials called the police and the child was soon with her mother who had been at work the entire day and was fine. It was pointed out that the girl had her name written in bold letters across her backpack, easy for someone to talk as if he knew her. But the police were curious to determine what had caused the child to stop and not get in the predator’s vehicle. Her answer was simple: her mom had told her to never get into a car with a stranger. She knew her mother well enough to believe that even in an apparent emergency situation, the woman who loved her would send someone the girl was familiar with to pick her up. The child’s knowledge of her mother’s “voice” had saved her life.

How do we know the voice of Jesus? We start by getting to know His character. What does the Bible reveal about who He is? What does He value? What do His actions that are recorded in scripture tell us about His goodness? His goals? What are some of the things He would never say because such things don’t fit who He is? We can then measure anything we “hear” as we pray against what we have reason to believe to be true about the identity and character of our Good Shepherd, Jesus. This then becomes the foundation for intimately knowing Him and as a result, rightly making Him known.

Jesus is speaking. Do you know Him? Are you listening?

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Revelations! Relationships! Strengthening! - Starr Psalm

Haiti

Les Cayes, Haiti

 I would like to give a HUMONGOUS thank you to all of my supporters, financial or not, for this opportunity!

God is so faithful! I am home safe and sound!

From Dec. 3rd to Jan. 25th my team and I were serving in the beautiful city of Les Cayes, Haiti. We had the honor of staying with a host family who were more than gracious to our crazy team of 15 for the entire duration of our outreach.

Tous Ensemble

Our team had the privilege of working with an incredible rehabilitation clinic, called Tous Ensemble, where we were able to assist in both physical and occupational therapy along with the construction and fitting of prosthetics. I worked mostly with older stroke patients and children. By the end of the week, staff at the clinic were handing us patients to work with on our own, with just an occasional instruction here and there on what to do! The staff and volunteers we met there were so kind and helpful, making the experience even more memorable.

Accolade for Saving Lives

The other ministry we had the privilege of partnering with was Accolade for Saving Lives, which was started by our outreach host, Patchouko. Every weekday morning we spent a few hours with a group of boys from the ages of 12-19 in their "club", doing bible studies, leading worship, and giving guitar, drum, and keyboard lessons. We taught them art worship and intercession, created an encouragement wall, and exchanged little language lessons with them. We spent most of our free time building relationships with the boys that came over to our house every day. As the team shared our stories and testimonies, the boys began to open up like the staff had never seen before, and they shared things from their lives that you could tell was far from easy for them to do. By the end of our time the boys were leading bible studies and stepping into worship team roles!

Half of them re/dedicated their lives to Christ and were baptised in the Caribbean along with 4 students from our team! Yay Jesus!

Our team prayed before outreach for God to give us a vision statement and this is what we were given: "Through our love for one another we will be the salt and light for Christ and leave his love and light wherever we go." We were able to see that vision come to fruition.

After all of this, saying goodbye to every single one of the boys was heartbreaking. There wasn't anyone there without tears in their eyes! They made that trip for me. Our outreach was really centered around building relationships which is probably what I loved most about it. Ordinary living in an extraordinary country.

God provided for every financial need so that I had all of my expenses paid for! God encountered our team in many beautiful, and sometimes painful, ways. We learned how to pray for and encourage each other, as well as working on resolving conflict amongst our team and others. God gave us words, songs, and visions for one another. We grew into a more prayerful lifestyle so as to walk confidently inside of God's will and found ourselves being reminded of God's truths over our lives on a daily basis. I feel so blessed to have had the team that I did.

To sum up my entire DTS into three words:
revelations, relationships, and strengthening

Thank you for taking the time to read this! I hope you found it helpful!

Blessings,
Starr Psalm

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