#FINDINGJOY (Part 4): Dialogue

#1 Listen to "#FINDINGJOY: Dialogue"

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: 

www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

 

#2 Obviously...

This week we identified two primary ways to find joy in your everyday life: Bible study and prayer. So, for your small group time this week, we encourage you to read scripture and pray. Here are a few ways you might go about it:

1. Have group members share their favorite passages of scripture, each person reading it and identifying where in that text he or she finds joy.

2. Read a lengthy passage together. You can choose your own or choose from the list of options below. After reading, try to find joy in the text. What is it about this passage that gives perspective or hope or direction?

  • Psalms 23, 24, and 25
  • I Peter chapters 1 and 2
  • Revelation chapters 21 and 22
  • Exodus chapters 3 and 4

3. Pray a list of Thanksgiving. What's God doing in the lives of your members?

4. Pray for joy in the midst of difficult things. Share your struggles together and pray for God to be present and filling you with joy in your circumstances.

5. Pray with faith for amazing things to happen. Make a list of things that would be absolutely amazing were they to happen in 2015--we're talking BIG here. Now pray for them to happen, fully confident God can work wonders.

6. For extra credit you can read scripture and pray AT THE SAME TIME. Here's a prayer that would bless your group made up entirely of scripture:

1Pet 5:6...........Heavenly Father, we humble ourselves under Your mighty hand.
1Jn 1:9.............Forgive us for our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Heb 10:22.........Let us draw near to You with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
Heb 10:22.........having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,
Heb 10:22.........and our bodies washed with pure water.
Col 3:16............Let Your Word dwell in us richly.
Col 1:9..............Fill us with the knowledge of Your will,
Col 1:9..............in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,
Col 1:10............that we may live and conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of You,
Col 1:10............fully pleasing You, and being fruitful in every good work.
Eph 4:23...........And, by being renewed in the spirit of our minds,
Col 3:12............that we put on tender mercies, kindness, humility,
Col 3:12............meekness, longsuffering: bearing with and forgiving one another.
Eph 4:13...........That we dwell together in the unity of the faith,
1Thes 5:12........recognizing those who labor among us,
1Thes 5:13........esteeming them highly in love for their work's sake.
1Cor 1:10..........I pray we all speak the same thing, with no divisions among us,
Phil 1:27...........standing fast in one spirit, striving together for the faith.
Heb 13:9...........That we're not carried about with various and strange doctrines,
2Tim 2:15..........But we study, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Jude 1:16..........That we're not murmurers, complainers, walking after our own lusts,
1Tim 6:18..........but are rich in good works, ready to give and willing to share.
Eph 4:16...........I pray that the whole body be knit and joined together,
Eph 4:16...........and that every part does its share causing growth to the body.
1Pet 4:10..........As each one has received a gift, let him minister it,
Phil 2:4.............looking out for the interests of others.
1Pet 1:22..........Let us all fervently love one another with a pure heart,
2Jn 1:8.............so that we do not lose the things we have worked for.
1Pet 4:7............Let us become serious and watchful in our prayers,
Eph 5:16...........redeeming the time, for the days are evil.
Heb 12:1...........Running with endurance the race that is set before us,
Col 3:2.............setting our minds on things above and not on things on the earth.
Phil 3:14...........But pressing toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God.
Eph 6:11...........Putting on the whole armor of God that we may stand against the devil.
Acts 4:29..........That we will speak forth Your Word with great boldness
Acts 4:30..........and that You will stretch forth Your hand to heal,
Acts 4:30..........that signs and wonders may be done in the name of Your Son Jesus.

 

**There will be no small group discussion guide from December 21 through January 3rd.**

#FINDINGJOY (Part 3): It Does(n't) Matter

#1 Listen to "#FINDINGJOY: It Does(n't) Matter."

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: 

www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Small and Big

On Sunday we said, too often, "Small things become big,and  big things become small."

  • Have you ever let a small thing become big? Share an example.
  • Have you ever let a big thing become small? Share.

Tell your group about a time when you got it right, when you experienced joy in what could have been immensely frustrating or sad.

 

#3 Exercises in Perspective

Imagine you're in the following terrible situations. Help yourself find perspective. Why isn't this the worst thing ever? How can you find joy in it?

  • You wreck your new car.
  • You spill coffee all over your new shirt.
  • You make a lousy presentation at work.
  • Your best friend moves away.
  • Your house is foreclosed on.
  • Your spouse dies.

 

#4 Pray

Tonight as a group, pray. Ask members to share situations in which they're struggling to find joy and pray God would offer perspective.

 

#5 Read and Reflect

Consider the following passages. What brings real joy?

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, Psalm 30:11

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. Psalm 55:8

 

#6 Better Later

Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:1-5.

We said on Sunday: If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re one of the only people on the planet who can say with absolute confidence, “It’s going to be okay.”

Do you always believe that? What might help you be more certain? In what practical ways might you remind yourself of this truth?
 

 

 

#7 WATCH THIS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7boMvBQVQ3Q

Watch Jim Valvano's ESPY award speech. He died two months after giving it.

Does he appear to have joy? Why do you think he does?

 

 

 

BIG CHURCH: Joy

#1 Reconsider

Consider the video we watched on Sunday and Justin's words afterward.

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

Because there was no sermon this week, the discussion guide will include a variety of exercises/discussion prompts on the general topic of joy. Feel free to do your own thing or to jump around in the material.

 

#2 So. Much. Joy.

Read Psalm 100.

What's the relationship between gratitude and joy?

Studies show that people who practice a daily habit of gratitude (recording things they're thankful for) are significantly more joyful than people who don't.

Together, make a list of things that bring you joy (or moments when you recognize the Joy God gives flaring up inside you). Don't stop until you have one hundred. Can you do it?

 

#3 READ

In Nehemiah 8:10, Nehemiah tells God's people not to be sad (they were feeling super guilty after hearing God's word read). He tells them to celebrate instead because...

"The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

What does that mean? In what way is joy our strength?

 

#4 Good Habits

Consider these "Habits of Supremely Happy People":

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/happiness-habits-of-exuberant-human-beings_n_3909772.html

Have you observed this to be true? Have you tried any of the habits/practices on this list?

What would it look like to incorporate these habits into your life? Think of small, practical steps you could make.

Would you add anything? What's something you do every day to cultivate joy?

 

#5 In Pain

Consider these thoughts from Tim Keller on suffering and joy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GMbQME6nuE

What do you think? Have you experienced this to be true?

 

#6 Learn a new song!

Here are a few videos of new songs about JOY (including lyrics). Try to learn one together. (The last one is a capella.)

 
 
 

#FINDINGJOY (Part 2): Memorable Scenes

#1 Listen to "#FINDINGJOY: Memorable Scenes."

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: 

www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 It's Tradition

What special traditions do you and your family celebrate?

What events in your family's history do you memorialize?

Please, please, please share the weird and silly ones (as well as the serious and lovely ones).

In what ways do you find joy in celebrating and remembering with your family and friends?

 

#3 Altar-ed

Read Joshua 4:1-18

What was the significance of the altar Joshua and the people of Israel built?

What was its purpose?

God says to Joshua, "These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

  • Do we as Christians have any similar altars? Memorials forever?

On Sunday we said an altar says, "SOMETHING HAPPENED HERE."

  • Do you have anything going on in your life that merits an altar? What is it? What kind of altar could you build?
  • Have you ever built an altar? Tell your group about it.
  • Why do you think altars are so good at helping us find joy?

 

#4 Make It Happen

This week Justin encouraged us all to:

  1. Do something you'll remember.
  2. Make something you'll see again.

What kinds of things do you plan on doing? Is there something you've been putting off for too long? Is their something meaningful you could do with your kids or spouse or friends?

And how do you intend to hold on to your memories? Brainstorm ways to make altars in our homes and lives.

NOW, let's do it. This week your small group should do something you'll remember and make something you'll see again.

First, do something meaningful together:

  • Pray for one another one by one (pray outside or in a circle holding hands).
  • Have every member write down one encouraging thing about every other member.
  • Together make a list of reasons you're grateful for your group.
  • Take off your shoes and stand in a circle to remind yourselves that small group time is holy ground.
  • During the week, text your group members a scripture that reminds you of something you're learned or realized in small group.

Second, memorialize it.

  • Take a picture of the night sky, your bare feet, or just the smiling faces of your group members.
  • Keep your encouraging notes in a mason jar on your desk.
  • Make copies of your grateful list and stick yours on the fridge.
  • Take screen shots of your scripture texts and meditate on them in quiet moments.

The sky's the limit with this stuff. Have fun. Make a good moment. And remember it.

 

#5 WATCH this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRl1cpR-eF8

The Make A Wish Foundation knows the power of memorable scenes. Watch this one.

Do you ever wish you'd had a make-a-wish moment?

If you could spend time with God in one over-the-top way, what would it be?

Do you feel like God's already provided you with one of those unforgettable moments? Tell your group about it? How have you memorialized it (or do you plan to memorialize it) so you'll never forget?

#FINDINGJOY (Part 1): Good Work

#1 Listen to "#FINDINGJOY: Good Work."

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: 

www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Defining Our Terms

On Sunday we defined JOY as, "The stubborn delight of the spiritually full."

  • Summarize that in your own words. What does it mean?
  • Justin said Joy's "not going anywhere. And it doesn’t come from just anywhere."

    • Where do we find joy?

    • How do we ensure that it sticks around?

Think of someone you would describe as full of joy. What does joy look like in that person? Describe a moment when you were startled by their joy.

Have you ever been personally surprised by the power of joy?

#3 Investment

We said on Sunday, "When we invest in God’s glory rather than our own, we find joy."

  • Have you experienced this to be true? Share a time when you stumbled into joy in your efforts to serve God.
  • What do you want to do more of in an effort to increase your joy? Be specific.

Where do you struggle to find joy? Make a list of the joy-short places in your life. How can you more purposefully seek to glorify God in those arenas?

  • What does it look like to do the dishes to the glory of God? Or to run errands? Or to fire an ineffective employee? Offer practical suggestions for infusing everyday work with kingdom purpose.

 

#4 A Wise Man Once Said...

Consider the following Proverbs. What brings joy?

  • The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing. (Proverbs 10:28)
  • A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word! (Proverbs 15:23)
  • When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. (Proverbs 21:15)
  • The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. (Proverbs 23:24)
  • Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous shout for joy and are glad. (Proverbs 29:6)

 

#5 WATCH THIS

Watch this video and see what you think. What do circumstances have to do with happiness? (If you watch this together, DON'T MISS the thoughts we've shared below.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q1dgn_C0AU

In this talk, Gilbert cites two remarkable cases of happiness, Sir Thomas Browne and  Harry S. Langerman.

Browne says, ”I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity. I am more invulnerable than Achilles; fortune hath not one place to hit me."

Langerman said of his decades in prison following a false accusation, "It was a glorious experience."

Interestingly, Gilbert omits the context for these words. Browne includes his words in an essay on the topic of salvation and squarely attributes his joy to Christ’s work in his life. Langerman meets God during his time in prison and becomes an ordained Methodist minister.

Considering this, what do you think about Gilbert's thoughts on "synthetic happiness"?

What would you tell Gilbert about joy?

 

EXTRA CREDIT:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Music... will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.”

If you want to know what joyful people do, brace yourself: They sing. We encourage you and your small group to sing a song every week of this series. Pick an old favorite or a new one off the radio. Whatever tickles your fancy.

Here's a link to one you might sing along to if singing all by your lonesomes seems daunting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXDGE_lRI0E

 

Contrary To Popular Belief (Part 4): "Love Lets..."

#1 Listen to "Contrary To Popular Belief: 'Love Lets...'"

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: 

www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Tolerating

Consider these thoughts on tolerance:

"The highest result of education is tolerance." (Helen Keller)

"It is thus tolerance that is the source of peace, and intolerance that is the source of disorder and squabbling." (Pierre Bayle)

Why do you think tolerance is such a big deal in our world?

Make a list of things you "tolerate."

What's the difference between love and tolerance?

I Corinthians 13:6 says, "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."

  • Have you ever "delighted in evil" to make someone feel loved, understood or accepted? What happened? Share.

Think of a time when someone was tolerant of your behavior and you wish they hadn't been. Share.

 

#3 Hate and Peace

Read Romans 12:9-21

What does this passage teach us about how to interact with people with whom we may disagree?

  • How should we treat our enemies?

How do we "hate what is evil" and not "be overcome by evil" while also living "at peace with everyone"?

  • Can you think of a time you feel like you walked this line well? Share with the group.

 

#4 What Would Love Do?

Consider the following scenarios. How should you act if you're trying to show love (as opposed to tolerance)? Answers could (and probably should) be complicated.

1. Your sister (who is currently far from God) invites you to a party full of people who are also far from God and who will likely act like they're far from God at the party.

2. Your friend asks you to be the maid of honor at her wedding to an abusive person who doesn't love God and isn't interested in getting to know Him.

3. Your boss asks you pray at a big company event. At the last minute she asks you not to mention Jesus in your prayer so as not to offend Jews or Muslims in the office.

4. Your spouse is immersed in a harmful addiction and responds venomously whenever you bring it up.

5. Your dad is in a committed relationship with a man and wants to bring him to Thanksgiving dinner. (Would your response be different depending on whether or not he was a Christian?)

 

#5 Blinders

On Sunday we said that love is not blind. That's true and also not true.

  • What kinds of things does love overlook?
  • What kinds of things does love refuse to overlook?
  • How do we tell the difference?

 

#6 A Differing (And Supporting) Perspective

Watch this video from Penn Jillette, avowed atheist, on tolerance. (Penn uses brief profanity toward the middle of his message.)


According to this video, what's the problem with tolerance?

Did anything strike you as interesting, frustrating, challenging or true?

Contrary To Popular Belief (Part 3): Sex Is The Best And It's Not A Big Deal

For Leaders...

Because this week's subject may be difficult/awkward, we suggest you do three things to best facilitate discussion:

1. Pray. Ask God to help your group be vulnerable with one another. Thank God for sex.

2. Set an example of being very comfortable with the subject matter. Try not to make awkward jokes or be silly. The more comfortable, personal, and vulnerable you are, the more your group will be.

3. Remind your group that this is a safe place to bring their full, unfiltered lives. Also, remind group members to protect one another's vulnerability.

 

#1 Listen to "Contrary to Popular Belief: Sex is The Best And It's Not A Big Deal"

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Birds and the Bees

In what context did you first learn about sex? If you have a funny story you must certainly share. :)

What did your parents do right when they first told you about sex (assuming they did tell you)? What did they fumble?

How well do you feel like you understood sex (what it was for, when you should have it, etc.) before you had it? What do you wish you'd known but didn't?

 

#3 Two Lies and Two Truths

On Sunday we refuted culture's lies with these two truths:

1. Sex isn't a good God.

and

2. Sex is more than just physical.

Have you ever looked to sex to give you happiness, purpose, love, fulfillment or identity? What was the result? Share.

Have you ever had sex expecting it to just be physical but discovered yourself emotionally, psychologically, or relationally affected? Share.

 

#4 Watch this:

What is true about this message?

How have you experienced this reality personally?

 

#5 Dictator

What we do comes out of who we believe we are. In other words, our identity dictates our behavior.

Read Galatians 5:16-25.

In this passage the Apostle Paul mentions sexual immorality among a long list of other "acts of the flesh." According to the text, why would a Christian not engage in acts of the flesh?

What is your identity? How does that identity identity shape the way you view sex?

 

#6 Marital Relations

Twice during Jesus' ministry does he tell his audiences that married people shouldn't get divorced. And twice he says "except for sexual immorality." (Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9)

  • What is it about sexual immorality that divides a marriage?

How does what we've discussed about sex shape the way married couples should approach it?

  • Why does having sex matter?
  • How can we leverage the truth about sex to make our marriages better?

 

#7 MashUp

Consider the following thought from Rob Bell's book Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality

“Love is giving up control. It’s surrendering the desire to control the other person. The two—love and controlling power over the other person—are mutually exclusive. If we are serious about loving someone, we have to surrender all the desires within us to manipulate the relationship.”
 

A misunderstanding of sex and a misunderstanding of power often go hand in hand.

  • How might sex be used to obtain power?
  • How might sex be used to demonstrate or exert power?

Consider particularly sex within marriage. Can sex be used in an effort to manipulate your spouse? Why is that problematic?

What happens in sex when we "surrender the desire to control" our spouse?

 

 

Contrary To Popular Belief (Part 2): The First Shall Be First

#1 Listen to "Contrary to Popular Belief: The First Shall Be First"

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Power Play

What is power?

Do you have any? Make a list of different areas or people over which you have power (primarily people you know personally and/or by name). Make it as long as you can.

How does it feel to have power? Why do we like it so much?

Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”

  • What is it about power that tempts us?
  • Have you ever had a moment where you let power go to your head? Share.

Look at the list you made of your "powers." What's at stake in terms of how you choose to wield your power?

  • Who might you hurt? How?
  • Who might you help? How?

 

#3 Power Down

How does it feel to be powerless? Think of a time you've felt completely powerless. Funny or serious (either way). Share how you felt in that moment or season.

Read Isaiah 58:1-12.

How can we...

"loose the chains of injustice,
    untie the cords of the yoke,
set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?"

Think practically. How does a modern, Western Christian empower the powerless? Who are the groups in need of justice and freedom? Here in America? Globally?

According to Isaiah, how will God treat the one who uses his power on the behalf of others?

Paulo Freire said, “Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ”

  • How, practically speaking, can we side with the powerless and against those who abuse their power?

 

#4 (Not That) Super Power

“It does not take a great supernatural heroine or magical hero to save the world.
We all save it every day, and we all destroy it -- in our own small ways -- by every choice we make and every tiniest action resulting from that choice.
The next time you feel useless and impotent, remember what you are in fact doing in this very moment. And then observe your tiny, seemingly meaningless acts and choices coalesce and cascade together into a powerful positive whole."
― Vera Nazarian

So often, we think of power and immediately think "super power." But power, even the power that comes from God, is actually more everyday.

Paul writes in I Timothy 1:7-8, "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God."

  • In this verse, what does God give Paul the power to do?

Have each group member pretend he or she is an "everyday superhero" with one particular "everyday power." Which seemingly ordinary power would you want to have?

 

#5 Power Sharing

Watch this video with Dr. Keith Brantly. Ask yourselves, how did Dr. Brantly use his power to help the powerless? How does he encourage us to help the powerless?

#6 Slave Masters

Justin mentioned on Sunday that there are more slaves on the planet today than at any other point in human history. Share the following link with your group: http://slaveryfootprint.org

By visiting this site and taking a short quiz, you can estimate the number of slaves required to facilitate your lifestyle. Once you've taken the quiz, you can explore the website for ways to fight against modern slavery.

If you want to do this during your small group time, members can easily complete the quiz on their phones in less than six or seven minutes.



Contrary To Popular Belief (part 1): Not Fair Is Not Okay

#1 Liar, Liar...

For the next few weeks we'll be examining lies told to us by culture. For fun, start this week with a game of two truths and a lie. Each group member shares three "facts" about him or herself. Two should be true and one a lie. Group members try to guess which of the "facts" is a lie.

Have you ever believed something that wasn't true? Did your parents ever tell you any lies to get to you to behave? Teachers? Older siblings? Stick to light-hearted examples for now. We'll get to the heavier stuff later.

 

#2 “Contrary To Popular Belief: Not Fair Is Not Okay”

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#3 Liar, Liar...

Read Jeremiah 9: 4-6

“Beware of your friends;
    do not trust anyone in your clan.
For every one of them is a deceiver,[a]
    and every friend a slanderer.
Friend deceives friend,
    and no one speaks the truth.
They have taught their tongues to lie;
    they weary themselves with sinning.
You live in the midst of deception;
    in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,”
declares the Lord.

  • Does this sound familiar? Do you feel like we live in "the midst of deception"? Give examples.

Consider the following advertisements. What lies are they telling?

Jesus said in John 8:32, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

How does truth set us free? How do lies imprison us?

Do you have any experience being imprisoned by a lie? Did a lie ever shape who you became or the choices you made? Share with the group.

What does it feel like to encounter truth when you've been believing a lie? Is it hard? In what ways is it liberating?

 

#4 What's Fair?

This week we talked particularly about fairness.

What do we mean when we say the word "fair"? What do kids mean when they say "That's not fair!"

Consider this bit of wisdom from the most fantastic of eighties movies, Labyrinth:


Why do we (as humans) value fairness so much?

So, is God fair? Read Romans 9:14-18 and discuss...

Leif Enger wrote, “Fair is whatever God wants to do.”

  • What does Enger mean?
  • Do you agree? Why or why not?
  • How should we approach/understand apparent discrepancies in wealth, opportunities, access to the Gospel, etc?


#5 What's Right

In the parable we discussed Sunday, the landowner (a representative for God) promised the later workers he'd pay them "whatever is right." He conspicuously refrains from telling them  their wage.

Often our desire for fairness comes from a place of want or perceived lack.

Do you trust God to give you "whatever is right?" Why is that so hard to do?

What does this story tell us about the things we pray for and work for and still don't get?



Trump Card

#1 Listen to “Trump Card”

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 In or Of

Consider the oft-repeated message "Christians should be IN the world, not OF the world."

Does that phrase carry any baggage for you? What does it mean? 

In your experience, are we Christians good at managing the tension between being citizens of Heaven and ambassadors to Earth? Why or why not? 

 

Let's lean in to each side of our calling as people of God...

First: How can we do a better job of loving the lost (or, as Jesus calls them, "the sick")?

Do you find yourself withdrawing from the world in an unhealthy way? Have you put unnecessary boundaries between yourself and the world? Share.

Think of a way you could intentionally place yourself among the people who need Jesus, either a way you've tried in the past or a way you might make an effort in the future. Be specific. make a list together as a group.

Second: How do we best pursue holiness and obedience to the will of God in the context of living love to the world? 

While you strive to be like Jesus, you're no Jesus. How do you keep yourself from succumbing to darkness in your attempts to bring light to dark places?

How might we prepare ourselves before intentionally engaging the lost in a personal, relational way? Think of practical examples, even daily practices or habits.

 

#3 Judge-y

Read I Corinthians 5:9-13.

According to this passage, upon whom should we cast judgment? Who shouldn't we judge? 

Does this passage surprise you at all? 

Have you ever seen Christians get this switched? What was the result?

 

#4 Love is...

Read I Corinthians 13:4-8

What is love like?

Consider the characteristics of love and think of practical ways you can love people living in darkness. It might help to picture specific people.

Possible examples might include:

  • Be patient with and kind to your waitress. 
  • Don't envy the mom of a kid on your kid's soccer team who looks ten years older than you do.
  • Forgive your dad.

 

#5 Do You Feel It?

Frederick Buechner once wrote, “Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It's the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”

Do you think this is a good definition for compassion? Why or why not?

In what way is our ability to feel compassion dependent upon our knowing people who're different from us? Can you have compassion for someone you don't know or haven't met? Is it easier to feel compassion for a person you've have dinner with?

Why, according to these words from Buechner, is it important for us to feel compassion for the lost? What will our compassion motivate us to DO?

No More Islands (Part 4): How Not To Let Success Become Your Greatest Failure

#1 Listen to “No More Islands: How Not To Let Success Become Your Greatest Failure”

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 The Sweet Taste of Success

Go around the circle and share one time each of you felt like you'd truly succeeded. Could be small or big, funny or serious, recent or long ago. Go!

Why do you think success feels so good? 

Success, of course, can be dangerous. Think out loud together and come up with 4 reasons that's the case.

 

#3 Watch Out

Read Proverbs 16:18--"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."

Share a time when you've seen this to be the case, either in your life or someone else's.

Not that we need proof of this, but just for good measure here's a highlight reel of some relevant sports moments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY3SQ5C22mY

How can we guard against fall-inducing pride in our lives? 

 

#4 Game Plan

Given that a strong relationship with God helps success to be a blessing rather than a curse, collaborate as a group to come up with 10 specific and practical things a person could do in order to bolster their faith in the interest of surviving success.

Now each of you choose one thing off the list you're going to do tomorrow morning.

 

#5 Myth Busting

Jane Austin, author of What No On Ever Tells You About Leading for Results, says many people in the throes of what she calls "toxic success" argue that they "will lose their edge" or slow down if they cut back on work commitments. She offers the following myth busters: 

  • I'll do whatever it takes until I really make it. This distorted view assumes that life doesn't exist until you've reached your goal;
  • My success is defined by my career and how much money I make. This distortion places no value on the complete individual.
  • I'll live a balanced life once I'm successful. This "if, then" argument places responsibility for life in the future and ignores that fact that behaviors become hard wired and hard to change.
  • I have to stay on the fast track to be seen as a player. This fear-driven argument leaves control of your life in someone else's hands.

Read them aloud with your group and discuss after each:
  -Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? 
  -What spiritual parallels or relevance do you see in this statement? 

 

#6 Something Fun

As we conclude this No More Islands series, here's one not-so-poignant reminder that we can't do life alone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3MbM53ir9Q

No More Islands (Part 3): Beauty Amidst the Wreckage

#1 Listen to “No More Islands: Beauty Amidst the Wreckage”

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 If You Build It

Think of your all time favorite fictional couple (or friendship). It can be a couple from TV, the movies, a book. What makes their relationship so great?

Make a list of great-relationship characteristics, considering all of your favorite fictional relationships.

Look over what you've written. Which of those good-relationship traits could potentially characterize a healthy relationship with God?

--

We said on Sunday that having a relationship with God sustains us when trouble comes.

How do we develop a relationship with God? What habits or practices will acquaint us with and connect us to God?

In your experience, what is it that knits you to God?

Read Psalm 27. Obviously David and God are in relationship. What signs do you see of that? Which of David's practices (as outlined here in Psalm 27) might we adopt in an effort to grow closer to God?

After reading David's description of his relationship with God, is there anything you'd like to improve in your relationship with God? Imagine you and God are in a beautiful, growing, healthy, just-about-perfect relationship. Describe what that would look like.

  • What kinds of things would you do and say?
  • What kind of person would you be?
  • How would you spend your time?
  • What would be important to you that isn't now?
  • What wouldn't be important anymore?

 

#4 Torn

Read Psalm 22.

What sticks out to you about this Psalm?

What are David's circumstances as he writes it?

According to his words in this Psalm, does David have a relationship with God?

What does David expect from God? How do those expectations affect the way David suffers?

Have you ever experienced a time when God seemed far? How did God remind you of His presence? If you didn't feel God's presence, why do you think that was?

 

#5 Revisit

Several months ago we featured a series of videos on grief on Sunday mornings. Watch this one and then answer these questions:

  • How did Belinda's relationship with God sustain her?
  • How has Tim's relationship with God sustained him?
  • Does the way Tim and Belinda walked through hardship inspire anything in you? Does it make you want to do anything or change anything?

 

#6 Call God

Justin joked on Sunday about making another video and having our members call God to thank Him for what He's done. Suppose we did. If you could only thank Him for things that have happened in the last two weeks, what would you say to God on the phone?

No More Islands (Part 2): Pass It On

#1 Listen to “No More Islands: Pass It On”

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Made to Work

Read Ephesians 2:10.

 "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

  • As Justin said during the sermon, God has things he wants to do through you. How does it make you feel to know God prepared good works for you to do before you were even born?
  • If you were made to do good works, why is it sometimes so hard to do them?
  • Does knowing God made you to do good works change the way you feel about serving Him and His people?

 

#3 I Belong to You, You Belong to Me

Read Romans 12:3-5

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

What does it mean that "each member belongs to all the others"?

Share some practical examples.

Consider the two verses (12:1-2) preceding this passage:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

How does our calling to "living sacrifice" play out in the way we relate to God's people?

How might our philosophy of "belonging" be counter-cultural? Does it require a "renewing" of our minds to offer up our lives (time, finances, resources, skills...) to the body of Christ?

  • What lies does culture tell us that might keep us from fully buying into God's plan for His people?

Paul says all members do not have "the same function." Sometimes it's hard for us to identify our personal gifts and functions. Go around the room and have each group member point out a fellow group member's gifts (perhaps including a time they've used those gifts in the family of God). This should be an uplifting time of mutual encouragement and assurance.

 

#4 Symbiotic

Symbiosis is "the relationship between two different kinds of living things that live together and depend on each other."

Watch this video about a symbiotic relationship in nature:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xm2qdxVVRm4

How does this biological reality, prevalent throughout nature, inform your understanding of what we explored in the sermon?

Think of a specific instance when you've found yourself in a symbiotic relationship with a brother or sister in Christ. Share with the group.

 

 

No More Islands (Part 1): Do I Have Something in My Teeth?

#1 Listen to “No More Islands: Do I Have Something in My Teeth?”

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Back to School

In this series we're taking a look at the power of relationships to direct a life.

Princeton University biologist Iain Couzin spent years studying schools of minnows. He wrote, “By grouping together, they’re sensing the world in a different way."

How does grouping together affect the way we sense the world?

Have you ever seen the course of your life affected by your relationships? Share with the group.

Watch this video about schools of fish: http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/other-shows/videos/superswarm-fish-vortex.htm

What benefit do schools of fish have in terms of evading predators?

How might this same principle be applied to our human need to evade danger/evil/temptation/recklessness/etc?

Does group living protect us? Elaborate...

 

#3 Friend or Foe?

Read John 15:15.

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

For Jesus, friendship was based on sharing the life-giving truth.

Are you ever hesitant to share what your friends need to hear? Why do you think that is?

Read Galatians 4: 8-16.

What's Paul saying in this passage? Try to summarize it in your own words. You might consider reading it in a more modern translation like this one (The Voice):

During the time before you knew God, you were slaves to powers that are not gods at all. But now, when you are just beginning to know the one True God—actually, He is showing how completely He knows you—how can you turn back to weak and worthless idols made by men, icons of these spiritual powers? Haven’t you endured enough bondage to these breathless idols? You are observing particular days, months, festival seasons, and years; you have me worried that I may have wasted my time laboring among you.

Brothers and sisters, I have become one of you. Now it’s your turn—become as I am. You have never wronged me. Do you remember the first time I preached the good news to you? I was sick, and I know my illness was a hardship to you, but you never drew back from me or scorned me. You cared for me as if I were a heavenly messenger of God, possibly as well as if I were the Anointed Jesus Himself! Don’t you remember?  What has happened to your joy and blessing? I tell you, the place was so thick with love that if it were possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and handed them to me.  And now, do I stand as your enemy because I tried to bless you with the truth?

What's causing the rift between Paul and the church in Galatia?

In verse 16 Paul asks, "Do I stand as your enemy because I tried to bless you with truth?"

Have you ever spoken truth to a friend and had that truth rejected (or perhaps even seen the relationship terminated)? Share.

Have you ever received hard truth from a friend and (wrongly) perceived it as injury? How would you act if you had a second chance to respond?

Why are we so bad at receiving instruction/advice/wisdom? AND Why do we struggle so much to offer it to our friends and family who clearly need it? Thoughts?

What are some ways we can train ourselves to be better at receiving helpful criticism?

  • Consider the way Nathan approached David about his transgression in 2 Samuel 12. What can we learn about how to talk to the people we love about their blind spots?

*Any stories of truth told and received well should be encouraged and warmly welcomed during this discussion.

 

#4 For Your Consideration

Consider the following quotes and scripture. Pick one that sticks out to you, and share your reaction. Have you experienced it to be true or false? How so?

  • "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." Proverbs 27:6
  • “The best mirror is an old friend.” George Herbert
  • “The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.” Barbara Kingsolver
  • “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” Alica Walker
  • “We always see our worst selves... We need someone else to get close enough to tell us we’re wrong.” David Levithan

 

#5 Who's Your Person?

Consider the video we showed on Sunday in which we asked people to write letters to someone who'd made a big impact on their lives.

Who would you have picked? (You might exclude people in the room to make identifying one person over another less awkward)

Share with your group what that person did to make a difference in your life.

Consider writing a letter of your own and calling your person to read it.

 

Big Picture (Part 2): Future Maker

#1 Listen to “Big Picture (Part 2):  Future Maker”

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Look Ahead

On Sunday we said, “Today is connected to tomorrow.”

Have you experienced that to be true? What experiences or memories come to mind when you hear that sentence?

Name one event, interaction, or decision in the past that you can point to as a defining moment in your life, a time when things started to change for the better (or worse). This doesn’t have to be deep—any little beginning works.

 

#3 Consequential

Read Lamentations 1:1-9.

What happened to Judah?

How did she end up in such a terrible place?

In verse 9 we read, “she did not consider her future.”

  • If Judah had considered her future how might it have changed? What could she have done to avoid the future she reaped?

On Sunday we said, “We are free to choose whatever actions we desire, but we are not free to choose the consequences of the actions tomorrow.”

  • Have you ever regretted a decision after the consequences rolled in? In other words, have you ever done anything without considering your future?
  • How did it work out? Share a story about a time when you didn’t expect the consequences that ultimately came from a decision. Funny or serious—either one.

 

#4 Gardening 101

When it comes to gardening, we all want less weeds and more fruit. The same is true with our hearts.

What do we need to do to make that happen?

What kinds of seeds do you want to plant today? Make a list.

What weeds do you need to pull?

 

#5 Pray Ahead

One way to plant now is to pray now.

What things do you want to reap in the future that you can start praying for today?

Make a list as a group, with each group member sharing a future goal. Now pray over the list.

Have each member commit to praying for one short term goal every day for a week.

 

#6 HEADS UP

This is the last weekly small group discussion guide until fall. This summer we encourage you to find other ways to grow closer to one another and to God. If you’re a small group leader you can find suggestions in our most recent small group leaders email update.

Just in case you hate the idea of discussing something other than Sunday’s sermon (or you simply love discussing Sunday’s sermons so much), we’ll put out a discussion guide at the beginning of each series. It won’t be long, but it will provide direction and helpful accessory content.

Be sure to talk to your group this week and make plans for the summer! We’re excited to see what God does through our small groups this season!

 

 

 

 

 

Big Picture (Part 1): Wise-Angle Lens

#1 Listen to “Big Picture (Part 1):  Wise Angle Lens”

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Be Wise

Have you ever known anyone you’d describe as wise? What about him or her makes you think “wise”?

Read the following passages:

  • Deuteronomy 4:5-7
  • Psalm 19:7
  • Proverbs 3:6-7
  • Proverbs 9:8-10

How do we pursue wisdom? Brainstorm some practical things we can do to be sure we grow in wisdom?

 

#3 Perspective

Had you ever heard the story Justin recounted on Sunday from Proverbs 7? If this was your first time, did it surprise/challenge/interest you? What did you learn from it? (Your group may need/want to re-read the text.)

Looking at this passage, we said on Sunday, “Perspective changes everything.”

Have you ever been up really, really high? On a mountain, in a plane, at the top of a skyscraper?

  • Tell about what it was like. Did you feel any certain way when you looked down? How did it make you feel about life down below?

Consider the following pairings. Have relevant group members discuss how their perspective changed when they transitioned from one role to the other:

  • Child/Parent
  • Student/Teacher
  • Employee/Boss
  • Player/Coach

Why is the parent generally wiser than the child? Teacher than student? Etc.

If perspective changes everything, how do we go about changing our perspective? Is it even possible to change our perspective (or in other words: to see more than we can see)?

  • What are some practical ways we can zoom out and try to see the big picture?

 

#4 Big or Small?

When you zoom out, two things almost inevitably happen:

            -You realize how small some things are.

            -You realize how big some things are.

Take a minute as a group to zoom out.

  • What small things have we made big?
  • What big things have we made small?

Make lists. Challenge one another. Don’t keep anything off the table.

Consider the following categories:

  • work
  • wealth/money/stuff
  • hobbies/recreation/play
  • parenting
  • relationships
  • spiritual disciplines
  • appearance
  • rest
  • legacy
  • etc……. 

 

#5 WATCH THIS

 https://vimeo.com/55073825

 This documentary is about what happens when astronauts first look back at the earth from space. It’s awesome. The video is about 20 minutes long, but you can watch just a few minutes (maybe the first 5) and get the point. Feel free to watch the whole thing. :)

Kingdom, Come (Part 4): World of Difference

#1 Listen to “Kingdom, Come (Part 4):  World of Difference”

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Just a Little

Reconsider the parable of the leaven (or yeast). Jesus uses that image to say, it only takes a little to start something big.

Consider other metaphors Jesus used for His people and the kingdom.

How is the kingdom like a mustard seed?

How is the kingdom like salt?

Jesus said of His people, “You are the light of the world.” How much light does it take to make a difference in the dark?

Make your own metaphors (similes, to be specific) for the kingdom:

The kingdom of God is like ___________.

Can you think of things that start small but grow? Or things that seem small at first glance but are actually powerful?

The kingdom still works like it did 2,000 years ago. It starts small.

What small things could you do to welcome big kingdom change in…

·       Your marriage?

·       Your co-workers?

·       Your kids?

·       Your neighborhood?

·       Your school?

Be practical and specific.

 

#3 Hope Colored Glasses

On Sunday we said the kingdom of God “is at work even when you can’t see it.”

Read 2 Corinthians 4:14-18.

In verse 15 Paul says “all this is for your benefit.” What’s for their benefit?

How does Paul look at hardship?

Paul encourages us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.”

·       Why is that helpful?

·       How do we do that?

Consider a hardship or struggle you’re going through now or have gone through recently. Look for the kingdom of God in it. Was God at work? How so?

 

#4 Optimists Wanted


Consider this sentence: “Your Father in heaven is looking for people who recognize that what is is not what will always be.”

·       What does that mean?

·       Do you ever struggle to see what could (and will) be?

·       Why might that be problematic?

Take a minute and exercise your imagination.

Consider a situation that isn’t as it should be. Draw it as you know it could be under the authority of Christ. If you hate drawing, well, suck it up. ;)

 

#5 Just Do It

As I sit on my island, it becomes clears that we need to stop plotting the course and instead just land the plane on our plans to make a difference by getting to the "do" part of faith. That's because love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn't just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.”
― Bob Goff, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

Do you need to “land the plane” on some plans for doing good? Have you been intending to do something for a long time that you really need to just do?

  • To get closer to God?
  • With your money?
  • With your time?
  • As a spiritual discipline?
  • To repair a relationship?
  • At work?
  • In your marriage?
  • With your kids?

Tonight, share it with your group and commit to action. Let your group hold you accountable next week.

 

#6 Praying is Doing

Let’s not forget prayer is action. It’s like calling 911 in an emergency.

Tonight, have each group member share one place where they’d like to see the reign of God come. Maybe in the heart of a friend. Maybe in a conflict. Maybe to a specific geographic location. Anywhere, anybody.

Now pray through each place/person/area that God’s kingdom would come (preferably quickly).

 

Kingdom, Come (Part 3): When The Reign Comes

#1 Listen to “Kingdom, Come (Part 3): When The Reign Comes”

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Free Slaves

In I Peter 2:16, Peter says:

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

How are we both free people AND God's slaves? Is that confusing to you? Does it make sense? Why or why not? Talk through the dichotomy...

How can any kind of slavery be good?

What does culture say about freedom? What kinds of freedom are important in our country? Are those same sorts of freedom important to God?

Does slavery to God get in the way of any of the world's treasured freedoms?

 

#3 Free to Bear Fruit

Read Galatians 5:13-26

What is the relationship between our freedom in Christ and our behavior?

How does a free person act?

What does freedom in Christ free us from? What sorts of behaviors and attitudes?

Look at the list of "desires of the flesh." Have each member consider whether or not they're still enslaved by these desires. Use this moment as an opportunity for voluntary confession in the group OR pray generally for the group, that members would be freed from their desires.

Now consider the fruit of the Spirit. Encourage members to identify one fruit they've seen God growing in their hearts lately and share with the group.

  • How does it feel to be made more patient, joyful, loving, etc.?

 

#4 Free For Good

Read 2 Peter 2:17-21

What does Peter say about people who are set free by Christ and yet return to their former entanglement?

Why do you think this is the case?

Have you ever had to return to God after a time away? Was it hard? What makes it harder (according to Peter) than initial conversion?

Share any experiences or wisdom you may have...

 

#5 Play Simon Says

For real though.

To remind ourselves of the total obedience we offer to Christ as His subjects, play some Simon says. Be totally obedient. :)

 

#6 Watch a Sad Movie

If your group has time, consider watching this 30 minute movie (vimeo.com/20833462), a parable about child sex trafficking.

As we talk about slavery to sin, it's important to remember that sin enslaves both hearts and bodies, as the sins of our society result in literal slavery all over the world.

This is a hard watch, but one worth your time.

Kingdom, Come (Part 2): Poster Child

#1 Listen to “Kingdom, Come (Part 2): Poster Child”

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Little Children

According to Matthew 18, Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

What does that mean? In what way(s) should we be like little children?

What does this story teach us about coming to Christ/entrance into the kingdom?

What does humility look like in the context of a person's deciding to follow Christ?

How are humility and change related?

Have you ever met someone who wouldn't change, even when change was clearly the best thing for him or her? Share that story. Why were they so stuck?

  • What gets in the way of our willingness to make healthy change?

 

#3 Humbled

Read the following passages:

  • 2 Samuel 22:28
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14
  • Psalm 147:6
  • Psalm 149:4
  • Isaiah 66:1-2
  • Zeph. 2:3
  • Matt. 23:12
  • James 4:10
  • I Peter 5:5

How does God feel about humility?

What is humility? Why is it so important?

If we're commanded to be humble, how do we go about learning humility? What practical steps can we take toward humility?

 

#4 Pushy

In Matthew 18 the apostles argued over who would be first in the kingdom.

Do you ever find yourself wanting to be first?

Share a story from a time you really wanted to be first (in charge, honored, etc.).

Is there a place in your life right now where you're struggling/jockeying for position? How might what we're learning about humility and submission inform the way you proceed?

 

#5 Bow Down

Traditionally, within our faith community, we pray and praise God either in a sitting or standing position. What would it feel like for us to physically make ourselves low in prayer?

This week, pray together in a kneeling or prostrate (lying face down on the ground) position. You can pray as usual (but from a "low" position) or each pray silently. If you'd like, you can listen to a prayer in song. (Maybe this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m_sWJQm2fs)

Kingdom, Come (Part 1): Who's In Charge Here?

#1 Listen to “Kingdom, Come (Part 1): Who's In Charge Here?”

 

Consider this Sunday morning’s lesson. You can listen here: http://bit.ly/1gCDfNL

Or watch here [video will be posted by Monday each week]: www.vimeo.com/rrcoc

What stuck out to you as interesting?

Did you encounter any challenging or re-orienting truth?

How’d it make you feel?

 

#2 Dominion

Read Psalm 103 together.

Why is it good to be in God's "dominion"? According to this Psalm, what are the reasons God makes a good ruler?

Have you ever been ruled by a bad ruler (maybe a boss, parent, or older sibling)? What's that like?

 

#3 Everything

This week we said, "Everything is better when God is in charge."

Think through this list of topics. How are they better when God is in charge?

  • sex
  • relationships
  • work
  • food
  • play
  • spending money
  • church

Do you have any experience in failing to give God control over one of these things? How'd it work out?

 

#4 Bigger

Read Luke 13:18-21

If the "kingdom of God" is the reign of God, what do these parables teach us?

How do you see the kingdom of God getting bigger? In you? In your family? In your church? In the world?

If the reign of God isn't reaching further and further into our lives, always taking new territory what might that indicate?

 

#5 Resurrection

“Jesus' resurrection is the beginning of God's new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven.”

N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

How does this strike you?

Have you ever encountered what you could describe as a colony of life? What does it look like to "colonize earth with the life of heaven"?

 

#6 WATCH

Check out this paraphrase of scripture from poet Amena Brown: https://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=KWLZ7NNX

What does the resurrection have to do with the kingdom coming in you?