Month: July 2019

07.28.2019

GOING DEEPER

07.28.2019 | “12 WORDS | Wk 9: Conflict”

Join the community and go deeper with this Bible study.

Breaking Ground

What was your favorite board game growing up OR what is your favorite board game currently? Why?

 

The Dig

Before you begin – take time to discuss what comes to mind when you hear the word “reconciliation.”

Read Matthew 18:15-20 – Jesus’ famous teaching on reconciliation & resolving conflict within the Church.

First – think about the connection of forgiveness (the internal, heart work of giving grace) & reconciliation (the external action of reconciling a relationship/conflict).

What are the major differences between forgiveness & reconciliation? How are these related & connected?

Next – walk through the process of reconciliation that Jesus proposes.

Jesus first instructs his disciples to seek out & address conflict/hurt quickly. Do you often address conflict quickly when it occurs in your life?

Have you ever had someone approach you with a conversation like this (i.e., seeking to reconcile because of a wound you caused)?

The goal of this first conversation with the person is for both parties to feel heard & for resolution/reconciliation to occur. However, when this does not happen, Jesus instructs the wounded party to get other people in their relational world involved. If resolution still does not occur, he instructs his disciples to involve the community more & more.

Why do you think Jesus instructs his followers to bring new, trusted perspectives into an ongoing conflict? Do you often seek out perspectives different than your own when trying to resolve conflict?

Next – notice that Jesus expects his disciples to get the wounded party safe & to set boundaries, without leaving or ignoring the conflict at hand.

What role do safe & healthy boundaries play in reconciliation at this point in the conflict?

What sorts of boundaries do you think would allow someone to work to resolve a conflict, while remaining safe?

Finally – Jesus instructs his followers to treat unrepentant parties in the conflict as tax-collectors or pagans/Gentiles (people outside of the Kingdom in his time). Remember though – Jesus came precisely to call, invite, & disciple these exact people. In other words, the community (no longer the wounded party) is challenged to seek to disciple the offending party & call them back to following Jesus.

What does it mean that the final step is to change the conversation towards discipleship of the offending party? What sorts of conversations do you think would take place in this final step?

How does this change how you understand working with broken people who cause conflict?

Close by taking time to consider someone in your life that you might need to seek reconciliation with. What would the first step be in terms of reaching out to resolve that conflict?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Continue reflecting on what you are working to change & grow in during this season (see: Going Deeper for Control for context). This week, take time to reflect on reconciliation. 

 

More than almost any other week – it is important to remember that this word cannot be done alone. Reconciliation requires help, safety, & outside perspectives

With that in mind, take time this week to begin reflecting on this part of Matthew 18 in terms of a conflict in your life. Assess how to go about reconciling that conflict:

  • What does the first conversation with this person look like? 
  • Who do I need to include in my reconciliation process moving forward? 
  • What do healthy boundaries look like?
  • What (if any) was my role in the conflict? How can I own my side of the street? 

 

Share this process with your group members this week. 

 

Additional Resources*

 

Forgiving As We’ve Been Forgiven: Community Practices for Making Peace by L. Gregory Jones & Celestin Musekura

 

Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott

 

Coming Up This Week:* 

 

Sunday, August 4: Join us for the next week of our series 12 Words as we explore the essentials of faith & spirituality. We will be discussing Ignorance & Examine.

 

* Please see mye3.org for details.

07.21.2019

GOING DEEPER

07.21.2019 | “12 WORDS | Wk 8: Resentment”

Join the community and go deeper with this Bible study.

Breaking Ground

Think about a time when you were wrong but refused to admit it for way too long. What happened? What kept you from admitting it?

 

The Dig

Read Matthew 18:21-35.

Before we begin – it’s important to recognize that this parable is meant to feel intense. Are there any parts of it that really hit you on first read?

Next – take time to walk through the major themes of this parable.

First – at the heart of the parable is our own forgiveness by God & other people, & how that should change how we forgive others.

Share about a time in your life when you’ve been forgiven a lot & didn’t deserve it. What happened? How did that impact you?

Next – the parable highlights how often we forget our forgiveness when it comes time for us to forgive those who wrong us.

What do you think stands in the way of the unforgiving servant extending the same forgiveness to others? What role does forgetfulness (forgetting our own forgiveness before God/others) & entitlement (feeling like we deserve to be forgiven/forgiveness is owed to us, not a gift) play in the unforgiving servant’s response to the other servant?

Share about a time when you’ve failed to forgive someone, despite the fact that we have been shown forgiveness by others & God in big ways.

Why do you think it is so hard to extend forgiveness to others, even though we have often been shown it ourselves?

Re-read verse 35. Jesus identifies the state of our hearts as the determining factor for whether we turn to forgiveness & unforgiveness. In the New Testament time, the heart was not the place where human emotions/feelings were found, unlike in our culture today. The heart was the metaphor for where human will & choices came from.

How do you respond to the idea that forgiveness & unforgiveness are both choices that we need to make – not necessarily tied to how we feel about another person? Does this change how you understand this move of forgiveness?

Jesus also connects our willingness to forgive to our being apart of God’s forgiveness movement in the world – linking this heart change to being apart of God’s Kingdom work & discipleship.

Why do you think Jesus says this is so important for being part of his Kingdom & being a disciple of his?

Think of a person you are struggling to forgive. What do you think unforgiveness is costing you? Do you feel like it would help you heal if you were able to heal in that area? What might it look like to take a step towards forgiveness?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Continue reflecting on what you are working to change & grow in during this season (see: Going Deeper for Control for context). This week, take time to reflect on forgiveness.

Take time this week to write down the names of people that you are currently struggling to forgive. Take time to reflect on what it might mean to heal in that part of your life. If it is safe, consider how to begin the work of reconciliation or amends. If not, think about steps you can begin to take to heal your heart so you can begin to move forward.
Don’t try to walk the path of forgiveness (especially with deep wounds) alone. Share some of your thoughts with someone in your group.

 

Additional Resources*

Forgiving As We’ve Been Forgiven: Community Practices for Making Peace by L. Gregory Jones & Celestin Musekura

God and the Victim: Theological Reflections on Evil, Victimization, Justice, and Forgiveness edited by Lisa Barnes Lampman

 

Coming Up This Week:* 

Sunday, July 28: Join us for the next week of our series 12 Words as we explore the essentials of faith & spirituality. We will be discussing Avoidance & Reconciliation.
* Please see mye3.org for details.

07.14.2019

GOING DEEPER

07.14.2019 | “12 WORDS | Wk 7: Independence”

Join the community and go deeper with this Bible study.

Breaking Ground

Have you ever tried to do something without reading the directions or being taught how? What happened? Did it go well?

 

The Dig

First – take time to discuss what comes to mind when you hear the words independence & dependence. Which do you prefer? Do you have positive or negative thoughts connected to each of them?

Many of us struggle with feeling like we are dependent on someone else. Why do you think that is? Do you struggle with that idea?

Read John 15:1-12.

Reflect on the central metaphor in this section: gardener, vines, & branches. Does any imagery stand out to you more than others? What comes to mind?
Notice – spiritual dependence on Jesus (the vine) & God (the Gardener) is central to growth in this metaphor. Jesus is clear: we cannot grow separated from our source of life.

In light of this metaphor – does your understanding of dependence & independence change? Why does Jesus see one as leading to spiritual growth & the other to spiritual withering?

Think of two times in your life when you felt that you were withering & thriving spiritually. What led you to feel that way in that season? Try to think of some common themes.

Next – take time to reflect on the spiritual fruit that Jesus claims his disciples will experience when they depend on him: keep his commands, remaining in his love, & loving one another.

How does a dependence on Jesus impact each of these activities? How do you feel you are you doing in these three areas currently?

Finally – notice that Jesus depicts staying connected to him as something that we impact by seeking to remain dependent on him.

Take time as a group to reflect on the activities, practices, & disciplines that help you stay connected to Jesus spiritually (i.e., prayer, meditation, Bible reading, service, etc.).

What makes you feel most connected to Jesus & spirituality?
What kind of activities leave you feeling most disconnected from Jesus & spirituality?

What are some changes (be reasonable!) that you could make to increase your dependence on Jesus spiritually & decrease your independence? Try to think of something you could start this week!

Close your session with prayer.

 

Getting Out of the Hole

Continue reflecting on what you are working to change & grow in during this season (see: Going Deeper for Control for context). This week, take time to pursue solitude & meditation.

Many of us often pray without seeking to listen for God to speak. This week, try to adopt a new spiritual practice & try it out for 7 days. For example, each morning, read a short piece of Scripture that is powerful to you (I recommend a story from a Gospel about Jesus) & then take 5 – 10 minutes to sit with it silently. Simply sit with the story in silence & listen.

Afterwards, journal about anything that came to you in that time (words, thoughts, emotions, etc.). Anything at all – no judgment! Just see what comes your way.

Each week – continue to share with your group how it is going!

 

Additional Resources*

The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

A Hidden Wholeness by Parker J. Palmer

 

Coming Up This Week:* 

Sunday, July 21: Join us for the next week of our series 12 Words as we explore the essentials of faith & spirituality. We will be discussing Resentment & Forgiveness.
* Please see mye3.org for details.

07.07.2019

GOING DEEPER

07.07.2019 | “12 WORDS | Wk 6: Fear”

Join the community and go deeper with this Bible study.

Breaking Ground

Share a story about a time when you’ve been startled by something that wasn’t actually scary & you overreacted. What happened? How did you react?

 

The Dig

First, take turns as a group discussing where you are currently experiencing anxiety or fear in your life. It may be a personal struggle, family situation, friend or romantic relationship, unmet need, financial or job uncertainty, etc.

Next, read Matthew 6:25-34.

As Jesus’ primary teaching on fear & anxiety, this section of Matthew is often seen as one of Jesus’ most famous & challenging teachings. Jesus begins with a conversation on control – pointing out that at the root of many of our fears & anxieties is a belief that we must exert control to make sure we can get what we think we need.

What is the relationship between control & fear? How do they impact each other?

Look at the things Jesus mentions specifically: food, drink, saving resources for the future, clothing, length of our lives, comfort & security, etc.

Why do you think Jesus starts with these needs when he begins teaching on the fears & anxieties that tend to challenge us? Do you react strongly to any of the ones that he mentioned?

Next, Jesus points to the cycles & seasons of our natural world in response to these fears & anxieties. He urges his disciples to find comfort in the way God operates our world.

Why do you think Jesus points to these things in response to our fears & anxieties? How do these challenge our sense of control?

What do you think Jesus is trying to teach us about God by doing this?

Notice that at the root of Jesus’ conversation of fear & anxiety are an inability to predict our precise future & a doubting of God’s future provision.

What happens to you when you become overly focused on the future? What emotions come up? Do you usually look forward with optimism or pessimism?

Why do you think Jesus connects our desire to predict our future (comfort, desires, needs, etc.) to our inability to escape fear & anxiety?

Finally, Jesus offers us with a solution. He urges his disciples to look at things as they actually are & live in the present. Jesus challenges us to be present & respond to situations as they are currently, not as we predict they might eventually be.

How does being present impact your anxiety & fear? Why do you think Jesus points to this as the solution in the end?

Are you good at being present in the midst of trials & successes (i.e., not looking backward or forward, but being fully available to the present moment mentally, spiritually, & emotionally)?

How might being more present help you handle the fear & anxieties that you discussed at the beginning of the conversation?

What are some ways that you think you could work on being more present?

 

Getting Out of the Hole

This week, write down five ways that fear may be impacting the situation, cycle, or emotional response that you are working on through this series.

Next – take 10-15 minutes each morning this week to reflect on how you can release your anxiety in that area & be more present. Take time to read Scripture, spiritual books, or meditate. Journal about how that practice changes your mindset towards the situation (even if it’s just a little bit!).

Each week – continue to share with your group how it is going!

 

Additional Resources*

Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado

The Naked Now by Richard Rohr

 

Coming Up This Week:* 

Sunday, July 14: Join us for the next week of our series 12 Words as we explore the essentials of faith & spirituality. We will be discussing independence & dependence.
* Please see mye3.org for details.