Month: July 2018

07.29.2018

GOING DEEPER

07.29.2018 | “1 John Week 11 (5.4-12)”

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Breaking Ground

I have two kids, which means I’ve played referee to their altercations once or twice (at least). If you’ve ever been there, you know that sometimes, in the heat of the argument, you hear yourself making somewhat insane declarations to them. Once I declared that the next child that “looked out the other’s car window” was going to be in big trouble (never mind how I would actually be able to stop someone from looking through a window).

Have you ever observed—or been a part of—an argument over something silly?

What started it? How did it end?

 

The Dig

Eric described three drives that, when they are uncontrolled, can cause pain to ourselves and others (physical affection, material and emotional security, and status in society). When these drives persist, they are great (negative) examples of “how the world works”.

Which of these do you struggle with the most?

How have you seen the struggle play itself out in your life?

According to this passage (1 John 4-12), how have we overcome the world (or, more specifically how have we overcome the way the world works)?

What are some human/ineffective ways that we can try to overcome the world?

Have you used any of these yourself? How did that turn out?

Think of the drive that you struggle with the most, and then try to think of a specific person or situation where that struggle is being played out right now. What would it mean to bring the Cross to it? In other words, what would happen if you could surrender your desire for affection, your desire for material and emotional security, your desire for status and reputation, and your desire for control of the situation?)

How would it be different?

Where does “faith” and “trust” come into play?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Consider writing down the areas of control/surrender, and keeping them some place where they can be constantly visible to you (computer screen, car dashboard, etc.).

Seek to bring the Cross (surrender and FAITH) to your life constantly by asking God to help you surrender these areas.

07.22.2018

GOING DEEPER

07.22.2018 | “1 John Week 10 (4.7-21)”

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Breaking Ground

What is one of your favorite love songs? What memory comes to mind when you hear it?

 

The Dig

Read 1 John 4:7-21.

What do think of when you hear the words ‘Perfect Love’?

How easy is it for you to receive and trust God’s love for you? If it’s not easy for you, can you identify why that might be?

How easy is it for God’s love to flow through you to others? What might stand in the way of you showing God’s love to others?

Were you able to answer the questions Pastor Lori asked at the end of the message?
1. What am I afraid of?
2. What is keeping me from trusting God?

Are your answers based on a previous personal experience or based on a ‘What If’ scenario?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

If you struggle with fear or anxiety, consider trying one or more of these practices regularly.

  1. Journal what God has done for you- all of the ways He’s shown up for you. Be specific with the details.  Go back to those words as often as you need to be reminded of His faithfulness.
  2. Read Psalm 23 prayerfully. Read each line of the psalm and then say a prayer based on that line. For example, read, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Then pray, “Lord, I know that you are my shepherd right now, as if I were the only sheep in your flock.”
  3. Write down the lies that you are hearing and then look for scriptures that disprove the lies.  For example, the lie says, “I am not lovable, I am too broken.” God’s word says, 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:17-19  (NLT)
  4. The address of FEAR is often ‘future’ (What If’s). Force yourself to stay in the moment.  Focus your mind on only the next right thing.

07.15.2018

GOING DEEPER

07.15.2018 | “1 John Week 9 (4.1-6)”

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Breaking Ground

Have you ever had to deal with a counterfeit coin or bill? How could you tell the difference between it and the real thing?

OR

Have you ever bought something online (or otherwise sight unseen) and, when you received it, discovered that it was not what was advertised? What did you miss in your research? How did you get deceived? What could you have done differently?

 

The Dig

Read 1 John 4:1-6.

What or whom do you tend to trust as “authorities” for faith and spirituality?

What does it mean to you that John tells his community to TEST the spirits THEMSELVES (without his presence)?

Do you feel equipped to do the testing?

Do you trust God’s Spirit (the Holy Spirit) to help you make decisions? If so, HOW? What’s your process?

How does that compare with the list that Eric shared on Sunday? (see below)

Within your Growth Group, share some practical ways that you have learned to depend on and trust God’s Spirit.

 

Getting Out of the Hole

From the list that your Group used, try one new habit on, and see how it impacts your ability to hear and/or see God’s Spirit moving in your daily life.

“Testing the Spirits” from the Sunday sermon:
– consistent with God’s story? consistent with Jesus?
– affirmed by the community?
– look at the results (“the fruit”)
– remember it’s not about you
– slow down/watch and wait/relax

07.08.2018

GOING DEEPER

07.08.2018 | “1 John Week 8 (3.19-24)”

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Breaking Ground

Have you ever believed something that later turned out to be utterly false? Did you ever think about how well you can (or cannot) trust your own thoughts?

 

The Dig

Read John 13:36-14:4.

Chapters were added hundreds (and hundreds!) of years after the Bible was written. Because of the chapter break, we tend to divide 13:36-38 and 14:1-4. Put back together, they remind ourselves of Jesus’ radical love for us, ESPECIALLY those who have denied (even betrayed?) him.

If you divide (or stop) the dialogue at 13:38, what do you think Peter is feeling? Where does that leave things?

If you unite 13:36-38 and 14:1-4, what changes? What does Jesus promise to Peter? (vv2-4)

What is Peter supposed to do? (v1)

What does this interaction say about Jesus and our tendency to be hard on ourselves?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Try to spend some intentional time with God this week through prayer. If you struggle to hear the loving voice of the Father in prayer, you might want to try this simple way of praying:

(Taken from Brennan Manning’s A Glimpse of Jesus)

1. Imagine/recall the presence of the risen Jesus with you. Tell him that you believe he is present to you.

2. Reflect on the fact that he loves and accepts you just as you are now. Take time out to sense his unconditional love for you as he looks at you LOVINGLY and HUMBLY.

3. Speak to Jesus—or just lovingly stay in silence and communicate with him beyond words.

* NOTE: This may be very difficult for those of us who struggle significantly with self-hatred. If it gets too difficult, reach out for help from your Growth Group leader, a trusted friend, or a pastor.

07.01.2018

GOING DEEPER

07.01.2018 | “1 John Week 7 (3.10-18)”

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Breaking Ground

Think of a time when you’ve witnessed a powerful act of kindness. What happened? What made it so powerful? How did that influence you the rest of the day?

 

The Dig

Read Matthew 5:21-26.

When Dallas Willard, a popular author and theologian, wrote about the Sermon on the Mount, he stressed that Jesus touched on the issues of anger and hate first when it came to talking about living in the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ conversation moves from anger (initial “fight or flight” response to an event) to resentment/hate (ongoing distaste for a person that lasts beyond the initial event) and, ultimately, to contempt (uncare for the person, emphasized by the “fool” comment in the verse). Willard believes that Jesus sees overcoming the attitude and heart behind anger, hate, contempt, and resentment as being the crucial first step in Kingdom transformation.

First, discuss a time when you experienced strong anger toward a person, situation, or event. What emotions come to mind? How did it impact the way you treated the person who provoked it or the people around you? How much longer after the event did it affect you?
In light of what’s been shared, why do you think Jesus places so much weight on anger and hate when talking about the Christian life?

Willard points out that pride and self-righteousness are often at the root of ongoing anger and hate towards a person or situation. What do you see as the relationship between anger and pride? (Hint: how we struggle to let go of things, especially when we feel disrespected)

How does Christ’s example of self-sacrificial love on the cross inform how we go about surrendering our anger and resentments? (Hint: empathy, forgiveness, and humility)

Where is one place in your life that you could use some release in the area of anger, resentment, or hate? What is a step you can take this week towards growing or healing in that relationship or situation?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Remember this week that we are invited to take part in the reconciling and redeeming of our world through a transformed heart distinguished by the high quality of its Christlike love for others and the healing actions that flow from it.

As you go throughout the week, meditate on where you can be a source of peace, healing, and reconciliation in your relational world. Take one step or have one conversation that moves that area of your life closer to the Kingdom described by Jesus.