Month: February 2018

02.25.2018

GOING DEEPER

02.25.2018 | “Witness 2: The Woman”

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Breaking Ground

Describe the most costly gift you’ve ever given someone. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be something that took a great deal of time to prepare. Maybe you put a lot of thought into the gift. What was the occasion? What made that gift so meaningful?

 

The Dig

Read Matthew 26:6-13.

Discuss a time in your life when you have felt like any of the people in this story.

– Simon, the leper (the outsider)

– The Disciples (the insiders who still somehow ‘missed’ Jesus in this moment)

– Mary, the one who surrendered all that she had and showed an extravagant love for Jesus

Read Exodus 4:1-4.

God is giving Moses a call to go to Pharaoh and tell him to see God’s people free. Before this call, God asks Moses to surrender something vital.

What does Moses’ staff represent here?

What does it mean for him to “lay it down”?

God asks the same thing to us: “What is in your right hand?”

What are you holding onto, that is difficult for you to surrender to Christ.

How is worshipping Jesus like giving a costly gift?

The disciples spent more time with Jesus during His ministry years than anyone else. Why do you think it was Mary, not the disciples who seemed to understand and accept Jesus’ coming death?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Consider taking some time this week when you might normally do something ‘practical’ and instead, offer that time to show extravagant love to Jesus. Write a poem. Paint a picture. Give to a charitable contribution to a worthy cause over and above your typical generosity.

02.18.2018

GOING DEEPER

02.18.2018 | “Witness 1: Caiaphas + Priesthood”

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Breaking Ground

Were you ever superstitious as a child? If so, what were some of your superstitions?

 

The Dig

There is an amazing passage in the book of Hebrews that shows just WHY, ultimately, Jesus threatened the priesthood.

Read Hebrews 10:19-21. The writer here is drawing heavily on imagery from the Tabernacle (in the Book of Exodus) and the Temple (found in 1 Chronicles) to describe the theological and spiritual affect of Jesus’ sacrifice. In Judaism, only the High Priest was allowed to enter the holy of holies, and only once a year on the Day of Atonement.

According to the text, how WE get to enter the holy of holies?

How does the writer describe this way in verse 20? What is the significance of these adjectives?

(The Temple—and the Tabernacle before it—was referred to as “God’s house”, and the holy of holies was separated from the holy place by a curtain.)

Read verses 22-25.

The writer says that we should respond in three ways to this amazing truth.

What are these three ways?

How would you put these into your own words?

How or why is this “Good News”?

What are some tangible ways that you can take these three responses into your daily life? Be as specific as possible.

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Be aware of any tendencies to “perform” for God, in order for you to make Him like or accept you. Embrace the freedom that Christ’s “once and for all” sacrifice has given you.

Also, this week pay attention to our three responses to this freedom.

02.11.2018

GOING DEEPER

02.11.2018 | “Get Useful 6: Make Your Conflict Behave (+ Communion)”

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Breaking Ground

On a scale of 1-10, how much conflict do you have in your life?

In what environment do you encounter the most conflict? Work? Home? School?

How do you deal with it? How does it affect you?

 

The Dig

It’s a great illusion that we—even (especially?) people in the church—will conflict-free lives. The stories of the early church are actually pretty full of conflict. However, it’s about what the early church leaders did with that conflict (as well as what that conflict was about) that mattered.

Read Acts 15:36-40

Paul is so upset about Barnabas’ (who is legitimately one of the most likable people in the book of Acts: his name literally means, “Son of Encouragement”) decision to take John Mark with him on this trip that Paul leaves them both!

Have you ever been so disappointed and/or hurt by someone’s performance or choices that it affected not only your relationship with them but also your relationship with mutual friends as well?

Have you ever forced someone to make a friendship choice—“it’s either me or them”? How did that go?

Do you regret it?

Read Galatians 2:11-14

Here Paul (again; you get the sense that controversy—or at least excitement—followed Paul wherever he went) gets into it with Peter, the leader of Jesus’ Twelve chosen messengers.

What do you see in this passage? HOW does Paul go about this interaction? From what you can tell, what is Paul upset about? Why does it matter?

Have you ever been on a team—sports, business, etc.—and had a conflict and/or disagreement on the mission?

How did that go? Did you resolve it?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Again: even the early church—the “heroes of the faith”!—experienced intense conflict. And yet, one gets the sense that (a) they chose their battles wisely (over mission and purpose of the movement) and (b) they resolved them. In fact, Paul’s letters are laced through with his attitude over conflict in the churches he helped to start.

Read Romans 14:1-15:13. It’s a lengthy passage but it needs to be heard and processed as one reading in order to hear Paul’s message.

If I HAD to choose, the heart of the passage can be found in 14:14-20. The key to making conflict behave is:

1. We don’t live in isolation: if our lifestyle is upsetting someone else, we may no longer be “walking in love.” Be sensitive to the way other people live out their lives in Christ.

2. At the same time, Paul ALSO says that we don’t need to necessarily let others criticize us. This is not to say that “there’s no wrong or right”; it’s more to say almost CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES WISELY. People will not always agree with you and that’s okay.

3. Keep the mission in mind. Find common ground, things you can agree on. Christ brings us together, and the WAY in which he did that was to actually SURRENDER, not beat or debate or ague us into the Kingdom. There is a value in living a life in humility.

You can almost paraphrase Paul’s approach to conflict as, “we win by losing.” If you want to see an even more provocative example of his approach (and one of my favorite passages in the New Testament), read 1 Corinthians 6:5-8).

This week, if you find yourself conflict somewhere in your world, take a moment and breathe and ask yourself, “Is this a hill worth dying on? Why am I so invested? What is at stake here: my pride or something legitimate.”

Seek to win by losing. Make your conflict behave by living at peace this week.

02.04.2018

GOING DEEPER

02.04.2018 | “Get Useful 5: Make Your Mind Behave”

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Breaking Ground

Do you always know WHY you do the things you do? Our minds are the places where sometimes very powerful “tapes” play: messages that we’ve received from our past and childhood repeat themselves.

Have you ever had a time where you reacted in a way that made you say (mostly in a “not-great” way), “Wow, where did THAT come from?”

If you’re willing, share that experience and how it affected you.

 

The Dig

Read 1 Corinthians 2:16

What does it mean to you to have “the mind of Christ?” In other words, what do you think is in/on Christ’s mind?

Take some time to list some of the things that you believe Jesus thought about.

How does that compare and contrast with what tends to run through your mind?

Read Hebrews 5:12-14.

In verse 14, the writer describes “maturity”. What words does she/he use? (It may differ in different translations, so feel free to compare.)

The Greek word that is used there is related to the ability of our minds to judge/discern, among other things, right and wrong.

According to this verse, how well do you do with “maturity”?

How good is the quality of your decisions?

From what you see and read here, how does maturity happen?

What is your part? What is God’s part?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Learn to recognize the tapes that are playing in your mind, and driving decisions that may be taking you away from the “rich and abundant life” that Jesus is inviting you to.

Seek maturity by prayer, “breathing in” truth through Scripture, Growth Groups and wisdom; “breath out” brokenness by seeking God’s help in the moment when you are suffering.

If the problem seems bigger than you, don’t be afraid to seek help through a Pastor, a professional Christian Counselor, and/or trusted friends.