Month: April 2019

04.28.2019

GOING DEEPER

04.28.2019 | “Y/OUR STORY | Week 1: Hope”

Join the community and go deeper with this Bible study.

Breaking Ground

Share about a time when you had expectations for something & they were exceeded. What happened? How did it make you feel?

 

The Dig

Read Romans 5:1-8.

Paul begins his discussion on suffering by beginning with faith in Jesus Christ & the grace that he provides.

How does faith in Christ & his story change the way you view moments of suffering?

How do you think our experiences in those moments can bring glory to God?

One of the most powerful parts of this section of Scripture is Paul’s description of how suffering can lead us to find glory in our sufferings. He argues that we can engage suffering in a way that lets us find perseverance, character, & eventually new hope.

Have you ever experienced a struggle or suffering that you feel helped you persevere? What happened? How did it help you grow?

What is the relationship between perseverance & character?

At the end, Paul lands by connecting character & hope. What do you think it means to have a character that is defined & grounded in hope?

One of the places that Paul finds hope is that God revealed His character by sacrificing Himself for people & loving people who weren’t perfect or righteous yet, but instead powerless in their brokenness.

What role does being powerless in suffering play in growing in our ability to persevere, develop Christlike character, & learn to hope?

More deeply, how does feeling powerless lead someone to surrender & let God shape them? Have you ever had an experience like that in your own life? Did you learn to hope & trust God more deeply after?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Take time this week to reflect on times in your life when you experienced suffering, pain, or loss. Think back through that time, & how you’ve changed since, & try to identify moments where it helped you grow in your perseverance, character, or ability to hope.

Challenge yourself to lean into a worldview of hope a little more this week.

 

Additional Resources*

The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning

Surprised by Hope by NT Wright

The Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr

 

Coming Up This Week:*

Sunday, May 5: Join us as we continue our series Y/OUR STORY! We will be walking through what it means to live out the story of Mission in our world.
* Please see mye3.org for details.

04.21.2019

GOING DEEPER

04.21.2019 | “Easter”

Join the community and go deeper with this Bible study.

Breaking Ground

Take time to reflect on your Lent journey this year. How did it go? Did you learn anything new about yourself?

 

The Dig

Read John 12:23-26.

Notice here that Jesus uses a seed / planting metaphor to discuss the importance of self-sacrifice & his mission.

How does this metaphor strike you? Why do you think Jesus relies on it to teach his audience about this subject?

One of the central teachings of Jesus is that we must be willing to die to our understanding of our “self” to experience resurrection & new life. In these verses, it is the unwillingness to sacrifice that is seen as keeping someone from experiencing the Kingdom of God.

What role does pride play in our ability to follow Jesus, especially when it comes to living out the cross?

Why does pride or love of this world get in the way of experiencing “new life”? (HINT: fear of change, fear of suffering, fear of surrender)

Read Romans 6:5-6.

Here, Paul assures believers that if we are willing to unite ourselves with Jesus’ death, we will also experience his resurrection in our lives.

Have you ever had something negative that you thought was part of “who you are” that you were able to let go of? (Examples: anger, selfishness, self-centeredness, greed, lust, etc.)

Was it easy to let it go? What did it feel like as you were trying to learn to live without it?

What was it like on the other side of surrendering it? Do you feel like you came out a different, or even better, person?

Take a moment to reflect. Is there anything in your life currently that you need to “experience death” in (i.e., surrender, change, lose)? What could your life look like without it? What would resurrection in this area look like?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

We all experience “ego death” or “death of our self” at times in our lives. This takes place any time that we do something we think we aren’t capable of doing or act against what we tell ourselves is our identity.

For many Christian teachers, these are the moments where we experience the most growth. It is where our defenses are down & we become most capable of surrendering to God & letting Him work in us.

Take time this week to reflect on your Lent journey. Journal about what was hard about it. Was there anything you struggled to give up? Did you feel any emotions that you didn’t expect to feel? Write down anything that these struggles or successes might teach you about yourself. Head into this next season looking to surrender a little bit more in these areas.

Additional Resources*

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Surprised by Hope by NT Wright

Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

 

Coming Up This Week:*

Sunday, April 28: Join us as we begin our new series Y/OUR STORY! We will be walking through what it means to be the Church as we move forward from Easter.
* Please see mye3.org for details.

04.14.2019

GOING DEEPER

04.14.2019 | “Jesus Wept | Week 6: Racism”

Join the community and go deeper with this Bible study.

Breaking Ground

Share a story about a time when you really had to learn something new (skill, job, complex information, etc). What was it & how did it feel to do it early on?

 

The Dig

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-14.

Paul begins this section on unity in the church by declaring an end to the distinctions that were dividing the early church. In particular, ethnic/cultural divides (Jew vs. Gentile) & power divides (slave vs. free / powerful vs. oppressed).

Have you experienced racial, ethnic, & economic divides in your own experience of Christianity & faith today?

What does Paul point to as the “connection” that holds together these racially diverse groups trying to live in community as one Body?

Read 1 Corinthians 12:15-26.

In these verses, we read Paul’s description of the Church as a reflection of Christ’s Body. One of the central tensions of this section of Scripture is the paradox that Paul calls the church to live in with spiritual unity in the midst of racial/ethnic diversity. For Paul, the Church, as a reflection of God’s Kingdom, was healthiest when it was diverse & united.

What reasons does Paul give for needing diversity? Discuss the imagery Paul uses.

What do you make of this paradox? How can the Church possess both a diversity in its body & unity in its living out the Gospel on earth?

How do you think Paul’s discussion on diversity impact how we think about issues of racial diversity & racial divides within the Church? What vision of Church does this cast & how often do you see it realized in our context?

Finally, re-read verse 25 & 26. Paul ends by calling the diverse body to show unity in its ability to show equal concern for one another & to suffer alongside any part of the body that suffers. This was particularly hard for an ethnically mixed church in the 1st century that had strong divides between its Gentile & Jewish believers, as well as its rich & poor believers. Paul references throughout his letters that this showed up in each group often lacking care, compassion, service, generosity, & empathy for the other group.

Do you see the Church struggling with any similar issues of racial & cultural diversity today?

How good is the Church (Global Church & Element3 locally) at showing equal concern for all believers, regardless of their race & ethnic background? How about when it comes to sharing in the suffering of believers that may not look or live like us?

Where (or to WHO) can we grow in our ability to show compassion to all people equally?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Review the “response cards” for the week. Pray the prayer and meditate on the words, Explore the topic, and choose a way to Act on your response.

Additional Resources*

Check out our resource guide from this past year’s E3 Race & Diversity Dialogue:

http://element3.org/goingdeeper/jesus-wept-race-conversations-resource-list/

 

Coming Up This Week:*

Sunday, April 21: Come celebrate Easter with us! We will be having gatherings at 8:30 AM, 10:30 AM, & 12:30 PM.
* Please see mye3.org for details.

Jesus Wept: Race Conversations, Resource List

RACE DIALOGUE RESOURCES

NOTE: Please do not hesitate to reach out to Mike Overstreet (mike@element3.org) if you have any questions about the resources below or if you would like any further resources on these materials. I have a number of study guides (both taken from other groups or created myself in some cases) that are designed for group engagement. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you would like any help in engaging in these topics. Also, there are a number of members from our E3 Leadership Team that have offered to come over personally and help guide a conversation on this topic, if anyone is interested in taking them up on that offer. Just reach out and contact me and we can coordinate from there!

BOOKS:

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

  • This book is a phenomenal, empathetic, and convicting look into issues of the death penalty, mass incarceration, and juvenile imprisonment in the United States. Bryan Stevenson is a renowned lawyer who has tried cases in the Supreme Court and across the South. A great starting point for any American who is looking to enter into the conversations of race in America or reform in the justice system.
  • NOTE: Short-Term Growth Group on this book led by Pastor Lori Green begins Thursday, November 1st at Element3 Church. Email mike@element3.org if you are interested in taking part.
  • Book: https://www.amazon.com/Just-Mercy-Story-Justice-Redemption/dp/081298496X

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Heal Us, Emmanuel: A Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church by Doug Serven (General Editor)

  • A fantastic work that includes input from over 30 Christian ministers. This book tackles the issue of separation and justice from a biblical perspective, while tackling the American church’s issue with race (still one of the most highly segregated church’s in the world). In particular, it examines how Christians are called to transcend their surrounding culture and become ambassadors of God’s justice in the area of racial reconciliation.
  • Book: https://www.amazon.com/Heal-Us-Emmanuel-Reconciliation-Representation/dp/099739840X

The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone

  • A powerful book that explores history, theology, and spirituality from the lens of the African American experience. A great resource for those looking to engage issues of Christianity as it relates to suffering, racism, hope, redemption, and overcoming the hardest parts of the human experience. A profound book for anyone who is interested in hope and reconciliation in the face of hardship and struggle.
  • Book:  https://www.amazon.com/Cross-Lynching-Tree-James-Cone/dp/1626980055

Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland

Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by. Drew G.I. Hart

  • An intense book that I would only recommend to those who have engaged in conversations of race before (largely due to sociological language that may be misunderstood without proper context). I highly recommend that you consider reaching out to a member of the Leadership Team if you are interested in using this book. Still, for those willing to partner with others, this book was one of the books that really resonated with the Leadership Team. Hard hitting and gut wrenching at times, it really challenged us to re-think several issues of race through our conversations over it.
  • Book:  https://www.amazon.com/Trouble-Ive-Seen-Changing-Church/dp/1513800000

White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White by Daniel Hill

MOVIES (FICTION):

NOTE: Many of these movies by themselves are fascinating. However, if you are interested, I have compiled (or in some cases created) some resources (Going Deepers of sorts) for some of them. If you are interested in going through one of these movies as a group and would like some guided resources, just let me know! I want to help however I can.

The Help (2011)

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete (2013)

A Time To Kill (1996)

Do the Right Thing (1989)

American History X (1998)

Amistad (1997)

The Color Purple (1985)

The Green Mile (1999)

MOVIES (NON-FICTION):

NOTE: Many of these movies by themselves are fascinating. However, if you are interested, I have compiled (or in some cases created) some resources (Going Deepers of sorts) for some of them. If you are interested in going through one of these movies as a group and would like some guided resources, just let me know! I want to help however I can.

13th (Documentary)

Fruitvale Station

I Am Not Your Negro (Documentary)

Let the Fire Burn (Documentary, 2013)

Selma

Mississippi Burning (1988)

SERMONS / TALKS / LECTURES:

Justice and Racial Reconciliation

Race and Justice: Saving Justice

Fifty Years Later: The State of Racism in America

  • A panel discussion hosted by the Episcopal Church. Includes clergy, civil rights leaders, and Christian teachers. An honest look at racism in America today and how the Church can be involved in the way forward.
  • Panel Discussion: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/state-racism

“Changing the Narrative” by Bryan Stevenson

WEBSITES / ONLINE RESOURCES:

“Equal Justice Initiative”

  • Bryan Stevenson is one of the most powerful authors and activists today. He focuses on injustice in the justice system and how to help children experiencing mass-incarceration. Fantastic resource for tackling issues with our justice system in America.
  • Website: https://eji.org/racial-justice

“Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide” by the Southern Poverty Law Center

04.07.2019

GOING DEEPER

04.07.2019 | “Jesus Wept | Week 5: Idols”

Join the community and go deeper with this Bible study.

Breaking Ground

Do you remember a time when you tried to give something up & couldn’t? Try to pick a funny story if possible!

 

The Dig

Idolatry is the practice of shaping an image or statue of a god out of natural resources (stone, wood, metals, etc.) & then worshipping it as if it were a real, living god. God repeatedly calls His people not to practice idolatry & it is consistently the command from God that Israel struggles the with most to keep.

Read Isaiah 44:9-10.

In these verses, we read a description of the process of making an idol & why worshipping it doesn’t make sense.

What stands out from these verses? What are some of the reasons that idolatry is condemned?

What are some reasons that you can think of that people would seek out idols?

One of the greatest temptations of idols is that they provide something physical & tangible to look at & hold. This gives people the illusion of comfort & control, even if they can’t actually do anything to help. Thus, people seek to replace God with these physical idols in Scripture – especially in times of complacency & hardship.

Why do you think this is true? Why is it easier to want to put trust in an idol instead of God?

Why do you think idols are easiest to turn to in areas of complacency & hardship?

In a real sense, an idol is anything that takes the place of God in our lives, especially when it comes to what we trust in. It is elevating anything that isn’t God to a place of trust, hope, & worship in our life & actions. Paul, in particular, argues that idols can include things like greed, anger, security, any perceived identities/loyalties outside of our faith, etc.

What are some of the things that you find yourself turning to over & over again when you get complacent & experience crisis? What emotions come up? What issues or reactions do you consistently have? What struggles come with it?

What are some things from our surrounding culture that we find it hard to give up, surrender, or give over to God?
What are things that YOU find hardest to give up?

Think over your answers. What sorts of “idols” do you see as being common in the group? Which do you think you have the most trouble giving up?

What is one step you can take this week to surrender an area of idolatry & instead trust God?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Review the “response cards” for the week. Pray the prayer and meditate on the words, Explore the topic, and choose a way to Act on your response.

 

Jesus Wept: Organizations Doing Good

Injustice

International Justice Mission (IJM) 

IJM is the largest international anti-slavery organization in the world.

 

Hunger & Poverty

Second Harvest 

Second Harvest of the Big Bend is the food bank that distributes millions of pounds of food every year to hungry families in the 11-county region of the Big Bend.

 

Creation

World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)

The World Wide Fund for Nature’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature, by:
—Conserving the world’s biological diversity
—Ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable
—Promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

 

Isolation

Casa Tat Loy 

The vision of Casa Tat Loy is to provide the very best care possible to indigenous Mayan alcoholics living in the southwestern region of Guatemala, with the goal of sobriety and family reunification.

 

Racism

Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) 

EJI is a private, nonprofit organization that challenges poverty and racial injustice, advocates for equal treatment in the criminal justice system, and creates hope for marginalized communities.