5 Great Prayers You Aren't Praying Enough, part 4: Deliver Me

TO START

Get your group in the mood for freedom by watching this clip of William Wallace's speech in the movie Braveheart: https://youtu.be/uBAW_YTjWUo?t=26s 

See who can quote the most of it and give them a prize. :)

Why has that become such a memorable scene? (Try to focus on responses that have to do with freedom.)
 

DISCUSSION GUIDE

If we don't ask for deliverance enough, why do you think that's the case? 

Is it possible that this prayer is sometimes more difficult for men to pray than for women? Why might that be true? 

Deliverance stories are powerful and can make the quest for freedom contagious. Ask your group if anyone has an example of a time God answered their prayer for deliverance that they'd be willing to share.
 

APPLICATION

In his sermon, Justin challenged everyone to choose a particular struggle of theirs and pray about it at least three times a day for two weeks. Ask if anyone's done that yet, and if so, have them share about their experience if they're willing.

Then encourage the group to commit to this two-week experiment. Have group members take a moment right then to set alarms or reminders (on their phone, etc), so that they remember to pray at the scheduled times.

Check back in with one another in two weeks to compare notes.
 

SCRIPTURE

Read Psalm 37:23-24

"The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand."

How would you put these verses into your own words? Have a few people take a stab at possible paraphrases. 

Encourage group members to share an example of a time they've seen this truth demonstrated in their own life or the life of someone around them.
 

PRAYER

Pray together for anyone in the group in need of rescue of any kind. Be sure people include "pre-deliverance" in their requests and in the prayer. 

5 Great Prayers You're Not Praying Enough (part 2): Thank You.

TO START

Let's test how cosmopolitan your group is. In how many languages can you say "Thank you"? No googling allowed. If you get more than six take a victory pic of your group and post it to the RR Facebook page with the hashtag #morethanthankyouandgracias

 

DISCUSSION GUIDE

Did your parents make you write thank you cards growing up? How about thank you speeches at birthday parties? Basically, were you forced into gratitude as a kid? If so, are you glad? If not, do you wish you had been? Which thankfulness habits from childhood stuck around into adulthood?

Why is it important to thank God? List three solid reasons.

On Sunday Justin said, "Opening my mouth to say thanks opens my eyes to see blessings."

  • What does that mean?
  • What does it look like?
  • Have you found it to be true?

What does thankfulness combat? How does it make us better people?

When the apostle Paul encourages Christians to "give thanks in all circumstances" he's talking to us, too. Is that hard for you? What kinds of situations/circumstances make thanksgiving hard for you? When are you least likely to say thanks?

 

SCRIPTURE

Read Philippians 4:6-7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

  • What is Thanksgiving's relationship to anxiety?
  • What is the result of Thanksgiving?

 

PRAYER

Here are a few thank you prayer prompts. Do one, two or all of them with your group:

  1. Bring a pack of thank you notes to small group. Have each member write a thank you to God for all the things God did in the last week (as many as they can fit in the card). Have members take the card home. Put it somewhere they'll remember it, and encourage them to open it on a really hard day, read it, and in reading it, pray it again.
  2. Have members reflect on one of the hardest seasons of their lives. Is there anything to be thankful for in those seasons? Did you see God working? Did you experience any small graces? Share (your sharing is a prayer).
  3. Thank God for small group. Go around and have members share one reason they're thankful for group.
  4. Make a really long list. As a group, list 50 (or more) things you're thankful to God for. Share it on Round Rock's Facebook page if you'd like.

 

FOR LEARNING

Consider the following excerpt from an ABC online news article about thankfulness:

"If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world's best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system," said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, head of the division of biologic psychology at Duke University Medical Center.

While the act of being thankful is not a substitute for a proper medical diagnosis and treatment, Doraiswamy said it's certainly a strategy that can be used to enhance wellness.

Studies have shown measurable effects on multiple body and brain systems, said Doraiswamy. Those include mood neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine), reproductive hormones (testosterone), social bonding hormones (oxytocin), cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters (dopamine), inflammatory and immune systems (cytokines), stress hormones (cortisol), cardiac and EEG rhythms, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

"When my coaching clients ask me why gratitude exercises work, I let them know that humans have something called a negativity bias where 'bad stuff' in our life outweighs the good by a measure of about 3:1," Renee Jain, a certified coach of positive psychology, wrote in an email.

"This bias developed over millions of years help us survive threats in our environment," said Jain. "Fortunately, we no longer have to worry about a saber-toothed tiger attacking us on the way to work. Unfortunately, we still have this bias, which makes us hone in on negative events, emotions, and interactions in our lives."

"Gratitude helps us counteract the negativity bias by focusing our attention on the 'good stuff,'" Jain said. "A little focus can go a long way to improving one's psychological, social, and physical health."

  • Have you noticed any correlation between your physical or mental health and the presence or absence of thanksgiving in your life? If so, tell your group about it.

 

5 Great Prayers You're Not Praying Enough (part 1): Wow

TO START

What (besides God) makes you say WOW?

Take a second before you dig in to have group members make a quick list. Set the timer for 60 seconds and have members write as many things as they can think of. Whoever lists the most wow-inspiring things wins. A prize is recommended. :)

Share your lists.

 

DISCUSSION

How do you feel in your gut when the topic of prayer comes up? Why?

Is your prayer life what you want it to be? If so, share your practices (Show us your ways!) and/or tell a story or two about what prayer looks like for you. If not, what do you feel like you're missing? What's standing between you and better, healthier prayer?

This week we're talking about praising God. What does it mean to praise something? Other than God, do you praise anything? What? (BTW It's totally fine to praise lots of things.) What do you say?

What does praising God look like for you? What praise practices you you have?

When are you most likely to praise God? When are you most unlikely?

On Sunday we said praising God requires looking at God. You have to see Him to appreciate Him. What can we do practically speaking to see God more often and more clearly?

 

SCRIPTURE READING

This week you're encouraged to read the following scripture out loud and together (You might want to just read the first few verses together and then take turns). Once you're done, try to summarize it in your own words or modernize it.

  • Psalm 104:1-16, 24-35

 

PRAYING

Here are three prompts for praying WOW together as a group this week. Choose whichever you'd like to try:

  1. Watch this Planet Earth video (12 min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA29U6g6HME&feature=youtu.be  Pray in response to it. What do you want to tell God having seen this?  (You might also like this video of beautiful chemical reactions: https://vimeo.com/107976057)
  2. Consider the sentence "God, You are like ______________." What is God like? Compare Him to something (several things preferably) and explain why He's like that thing. (Maybe God is like a coach or a pilot or a friend or a father or coffee...)
  3. Answer the question, "Where have you seen God this week?" Think of one moment when you feel like you saw God clearly. What did He look like? What was He doing? Was He worthy of praise? Telling your group how awesome God is IS PRAISE.

 

FOR WATCHING

Watch this video by Louie Giglio about the ways creation praises God. It's the coolest.

https://youtu.be/7zWKm-LZWm4

 

FOR THINKING

Consider the following thoughts from C.S. Lewis's Reflections On The Psalms. Justin mentioned this quickly on Sunday. Here's the longer passage (If this seems like something your group would be interested in digging into, you're encouraged to read it and discuss. If it seems too cerebral or not interesting/needed feel free to skip it.):

“When I first began to draw near to belief in God and even for some time after it had been given to me, I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should ‘praise’ God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it. We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness; we despise still more the crowd of people round every dictator, every millionaire, every celebrity, who gratify that demand. Thus a picture, at once ludicrous and horrible, both of God and His worshippers, threatened to appear in my mind. The Psalms were especially troublesome in this way —‘Praise the Lord,’ ‘O praise the Lord with me,’ ‘Praise Him.’ . . . Worse still was the statement put into God’s own mouth, ‘whoso offereth me thanks and praise, he honoureth me’ (50:23). It was hideously like saying, ‘What I most want is to be told that I am good and great.’ . . . [Furthermore], more than once the Psalmists seemed to be saying, ‘You like praise. Do this for me, and you shall have some.’ Thus in [Ps.] 54 the poet begins ‘save me’ (1), and in verse 6 adds an inducement, ‘An offering of a free heart will I give thee, and praise thy Name.’ Again and again the speaker asks to be saved from death on the ground that if God lets His suppliants die He will get no more praise from them, for the ghosts in Sheol cannot praise ([Pss.] 30:10; 88:10; 119:175). And mere quantity of praise seemed to count; ‘seven times a day do I praise thee’ (119:164). It was extremely distressing...

[Part of my initial problem is that] I did not see that it is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men. It is not of course the only way. But for many people at many times the ‘fair beauty of the Lord’ is revealed chiefly or only while they worship Him together. Even in Judaism the essence of the sacrifice was not really that men gave bulls and goats to God, but that by their so doing God gave Himself to men; in the central act of our own worship of course this is far clearer — there it is manifestly, even physically, God who gives and we who receive...

But the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or anything — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise... The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. . . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . .

If it were possible for a created soul fully . . . to ‘appreciate’, that is to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme beatitude. . . . To see what the doctrine really means, we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God — drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him” (pp. 90-98).

Resolution Solution

TO START

When it comes to New Year resolutions, most people fall into one of two camps: People who make resolutions and people who don't. Take a poll of your group members to see who falls on which side of this very serious issue. ;) Have members defend their position. What's so good about resolutions? What's bad?

 

DISCUSSION

Why do we (humankind) make resolutions? How do we most often go about deciding what to resolve? How do you pick your New Year resolutions?

How familiar are you with the story of Josiah discovering the book of the law (as recorded in 2 Kings 22:3-13)? If you weren't in worship at Round Rock this Sunday, take a minute to read it. If you were there, did you find this story surprising or interesting in any way? Share.

On Sunday Justin said, "When we spend regular time interacting with Scripture, God can tell us what He needs to tell us, show us what he needs to show us, and help us how he wants to help us."

  • Have you ever had this experience with scripture? Share a story with the group about a time when God provided clear direction through scripture.

Do you ever feel uncomfortable when you read the Bible? If so, why? What do you do when you feel that feeling? How should we react when what we read challenges how we act/who we are/what we believe?

Read James 1:22-25. Are you good at this or do you struggle? If you struggle, why do you think that is? What can we do to be more purposeful about putting what we read in scripture into practice in our lives? Offer real, practical options and/or personal experiences.

  • Do we need to read differently?
  • What resources might be helpful?
  • Have you ever read the Bible with a running TO-Do list handy?

 

CASE STUDIES

Read (a few or all of) the following texts, then fill in the appropriate blank for each one:

Having read this passage I RESOLVE TO...

do ______________more.

do ______________ better.

do ______________ differently.

stop doing _____________.

(In other words, what does this text make you want to DO?)

  • James 1:19-20
  • Exodus 4:10-11
  • Psalm 1:1-3
  • Daniel 3:16-18
  • I Peter 2:11-12

 

PRAY

Have members share one thing they're resolving to do better/differently/more/less this year. And if they're in the no resolutions camp, force them to make just one. ;) Pray over each member's resolution one by one (be sure to divvy up the praying duties).

On Celebrating Christmas With Your Small Group...

Because we had the privilege of hearing Alan Robertson speak on Sunday we won't be able to provide a sermon-based discussion guide for small groups this week. Instead, consider making this week's meeting a Small Group Christmas.

TO START//FOR FUN AND FRIENDSHIP

Here are a few ways you could celebrate together:

  • Make Christmas cards for Round Rock's missionaries, older people, or elders--all of whom could use a pick-me-up.
  • Go caroling.  Visit one of our elders' homes or maybe someone's friend from work. If you're feeling shy just sing together at the house.
  • Go look at Christmas lights together.
  • Meet at a coffee shop for Christmas-y drinks and share stories about what Christmas was like when you were a kid.
  • Decorate Christmas cookies together.
  • Make snowflakes.
  • Share a special Christmas feast. Bring what you usually bring to your family's Christmas dinner.
  • Play a gift exchange game.

 

DISCUSSION

If you don't have time (or don't want) to arrange something special, here are a few questions to get you connecting with one another:

  • What's the best gift you've ever received for Christmas? Favorite gift you've ever given?
  • What was essential to the Christmas experience in your family?
  • Did you travel as a kid at Christmas time? Where would you go? What was it like?
  • What's your favorite Christmas movie? What makes it good?
  • Favorite Christmas song? Least favorite Christmas song?
  • Real tree or artificial? Tacky family ornaments or perfectly matching? Debate the merits of each.
  • Did you celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday growing up? If so, what are some of your favorite traditions?
  • How does Christmas make you feel? Why do you think that is?

 

SCRIPTURE READING

Read John 1:1-5. What do we celebrate when we celebrate the coming of Jesus? What did His arrival here on earth signal?

 

PRAYER

This week pray for peace, joy and love this holiday season. Check in on group members and see if anyone is especially sad or stressed this time of year. Pray for whatever they need.

 

 

Fighting Fear (part 4): Get A Hold Of Yourself

TO START:

Play the quiet game. While your group is milling around, getting snacks, making coffee, etc. introduce the quiet game. As always, the rules are as follows: 1. Be quiet. 2. The first person to talk loses. 3. As soon as one person talks (or giggles) the game is over.

If you have an especially quiet bunch you can require them to answer questions using only gestures until someone breaks and uses words.

 

DISCUSSION GUIDE:

**If your group hasn’t met consistently over the last few weeks, take a moment (or lots of moments) to review the discussion guides from parts 1-3.**

As a group, say 2 Timothy 1:7 (our key verse for the series) out loud together: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” Say it a few times until everyone’s saying all the words.

What is self-control or self-discipline? What is its relationship to fear?

Think of someone you know who’s self-controlled. Have you ever witnessed their self control protecting them from fear? If so, share an example.

We said on Sunday that worry happens when we welcome fear into our thoughts and entertain it. Do you struggle with worry? If so, take this opportunity to confess to the group and seek help and accountability.

  • Why do you think worry can be an easy sin to embrace (and even excuse)? Do you like to worry? How does worry feel?
  • Do you know anyone who’s been consumed by worry? What does worry do to a person when left unchecked?
  • What can you do to overcome it? Practically speaking?

Marcus Aurelius wrote (a long, long time ago), “You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

  • Do you think that’s true? Why or why not? Do you live like it’s true? Why or why not?

If it’s true that your thoughts don’t get to control you and that you have the responsibility to control your thoughts, how do you do that? How do you make yourself stop thinking unhealthy thoughts?

The purpose of self-discipline is not to make life hard, but to make life easier. Name a time when discipline (of any kind) made life easier for you.

How do you think self-discipline might protect you from fear? Where would a more disciplined life lead you?

Review the homework from this Sunday’s sermon: What are you going to stop doing this week? What are you going to start doing? (If you have members who didn’t hear the sermon, explain that we were encouraged to exercise our self-mastery with these two practices: choosing one thing to stop doing and one thing to start doing. Challenge them to find an area where they need to develop self-control and plant their exercises in that soil.)

 

SCRIPTURE READING

Read Titus 2: 11-13

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”

  • Is this passage confusing to you? If so, why?
  • What is it about grace that teaches us to say “No”? How does grace help us be self-controlled?
  • Have you personally experienced grace to be a motivator to self control? Share.

 

PRAYER

Share one way/place/environment in which you’d like to be more self-controlled. Pray for self control for one another in these specific areas.

Also, you might decide to pray this prayer together:

Father, make me master of myself.

Help me to daydream

not about the bottom falling out,

but about your grace coming down.

Help me say no to foolish impulses

and yes to wise practices.

Remind me that discipline

won’t make my life harder, but easier.

Endow me with the authority and power I need

to bring my thoughts and my actions under my control

as I thrive under yours.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Fighting Fear (part 3): Love is Brave

TO START

This week we’re talking about love and fear. To get going, brainstorm a list of movies in which one character has to do something brave on the behalf of someone they love. See how long it takes you to get 30 titles.

 

DISCUSSION

According to John, fear and love are repellent or mutually exclusive. They can’t exist together. Does that surprise you? Why or why not?

What is it about love that casts out fear? Think of a time you were afraid but a loving act from another person helped you be brave--maybe a parent or teacher. Tell that story to the group.

In what ways does God’s love help us feel safe? Safe from what?

Have you ever let fear get in the way of you acting in love? Share an example with the group.

When have you seen love inspire bravery? Share with the group.

Think of the most “famous” Christians in history. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • The Apostle Peter
  • The Apostle Paul
  • Martin Luther
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Mother Theresa
  • Corrie Ten Boom
  • Harriet Tubman

Give an example of a time bravery motivated them to act in love.

Look at your life for a minute. Are you called upon to be brave on a regular basis? If so, what are you doing right now that requires bravery motivated by love? Share with your group.

If you find yourself struggling to think of something, consider that maybe you’re not loving like you should. Do you think that’s the case? Is it possible?

Here’s a list of scary, love-prompted risks God might be calling you to take. Consider the list and identify one (or add one of your own) that seems just for you. If you’re willing, share your choice with your group and ask them to hold you accountable.

  • Adopt an orphan.
  • Make regular, weekly visits to sit with a widow or elderly person.
  • Give an uncomfortable amount of money to a struggling family at church.
  • Talk to a homeless person for ten minutes. And buy her lunch.
  • Become a missionary.
  • Quit your job and find something else that would allow you to be a better parent to your kids.
  • Ask your child or spouse for forgiveness.
  • Forgive someone you don’t want to forgive.
  • Talk to your far-from-God family members about Jesus.
  • Double your weekly contribution.
  • Move outside the Bible belt and join a struggling church as active members.
  • Start a non-profit, charity, school, business, or movement rooted in the love of Christ.
  • Go to Sunday morning Bible class for the first time.
  • Adopt a teacher or mentor at Voit Elementary School.
  • Volunteer to be a small group leader.
  • Pray out loud with a friend who isn’t a Christian.
  • Fast.
  • Pay for one of our teenagers at Round Rock to go to Peru this spring. Foot the entire bill.
  • Go to a nursing home and read the Bible to someone who can’t read it for herself.

 

SCRIPTURE READING

Read I Corinthians 13:4-7.

  • Which characteristics of love do you think are the most risky? How so?

 

PRAYER

After your group members have identified one way they’d like to be brave in love, go around the room praying for each person’s sustained courage in the path they’re considering.

 

FOR FUN AND KNOWLEDGE

You totally HAVE TO WATCH this video of the top 10 bravest moments in Disney movie history. Watch until the end (about 10 minutes) and then discuss what each moment had in common with the others.



Fighting Fear (part 2): Full Power

TO START

This week we’re talking about the power of God IN US. It’s pretty mind-blowing to think about. Before we jump in, let’s think about some lesser powers...

If you could be a superhero which superhero would you be? OR If you could have one superpower what would it be?

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

On Sunday we listened to the Apostle Paul tell us, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid.” In your experience, are Christians timid? Share any stories or examples. Did you have any strong models of timidity growing up? Share. How might that have shaped how you approach fear?

According to Sunday’s sermon (or your own God-given wisdom), what’s one big reason Christians have NOT to be afraid? Does fear make sense for the child of God? Why or why not?

With that fresh in your minds, write yourself a one sentence pep talk for moments when you’re tempted to give in to fear. Give group members an index card. Once each member has written their pep talk, share them together and encourage each other.

Peter Parker’s grandmother told him, “With great power comes great ___________.” (Answer: responsibility)

  • Are you afraid of not being afraid? If so, share why you think that is.
  • What does it look like to live with a spirit of power? What do you do or not do? What do you say or not say? Think of someone you know who lives this way. Describe what it is about them that sticks out.

Paul writes in I Timothy 1:8, “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.”

  • How are suffering and a spirit of power linked?
  • How excited are you (on a scale of one to ten) about suffering?  

  • Have you seen God’s power displayed in suffering? Share an example.

 

SCRIPTURE READING

Read I Samuel 14:1-23.

Have you read this story before? Is what Jonathan does here something you would do? If not, why not? Consider what motivates Jonathan’s actions. Why is he so brave?

What might Jonathan be doing if he lived today? Make some specific predictions.
 

PRAYER

Tonight, pray scripture together. Have three or four group members each read this prayer (derived from II Corinthians 4:6-12) so that your group prays it at least twice.

Dear God, our God, You have said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” and You have made Your light shine in our hearts. God,  give us the light of the knowledge of Your glory. Let it shine from our faces as it was displayed in the face of Christ.

Thank You, God, for putting Your glory and power in us. Thank You for this treasure in jars of clay. Remind us we’re clay and that this all-surpassing power we experience is from You and not from us.

Father, when we are hard pressed on every side, help us not be crushed; when we’re perplexed, lift any despair; if we are persecuted, remind us we are not abandoned; and if we’re struck down reassure us, God, that we will not be destroyed.

All power and glory belong to You. Praise You, our God and King.

 

FOR FUN AND PRACTICE:

Wanna try out your spirit of power? What better way than to play truth or dare with your group?! (Okay. I know, lots of better ways...) Use the following list of questions or dares to get your group acting bravely. Remember, each player gets to pick either one truth or one dare. And they MUST do the truth or dare assigned them.

TRUTH:

  • What was the most painful break up you ever had?
  • Who was your first crush on?
  • When have you broken your mother’s heart?
  • When you are trying to impress people what personality trait do you hide?
  • What action from your past would be most likely to put you in jail if law enforcement ever found out?
  • If you were the opposite sex for one day, what would you look like and what would you do?
  • Do you ever lie about how much money you make? If so, do you round up or down? By how much?
  • What music are you embarrassed about listening to?
  • What is the worst thing about being a grown-up?
  • What is the longest you have gone without taking a bath?
  • What talent do you have that is embarrassing to share?
  • What TV show are you embarrassed about watching?
  • If you had only 24 hours left to live, what one thing would you do that may seem weird to others?
  • If you were given a chance to become invisible for one day, what would you do with this ability?

DARE:

  • Put lipstick on another player but you are not allowed to use your hands.
  • For the rest of the night begin everything you say with "All hail Queen Nefertiti."
  • Remove your shoes and trade each shoe with another player.
  • Call (on the phone) one person at random who you know and who knows you; ask them "When a cow laughs, does milk come out it's nose?"
  • Select another player and repeat everything they say for the next 3 rounds.
  • Take a dollar bill out of your pocket and put the whole thing in your mouth.
  • Get on all fours and howl and bark at another player for twenty seconds.
  • Go to the kitchen and eat something that is not meant to be eaten alone (like chili powder, pepper, etc).
  • Go to the neighbors and ask to borrow an umbrella
  • Update your facebook or other social media status to read “I just ate sixteen twinkies. With ketchup.”
  • Lick the bathroom floor.
  • Cluck like a chicken every time someone says your name. Continue this for the rest of the game.
  • Have another player paint the toenails on only your left foot. (if no nail polish is available use something else like pen, marker, or ketchup)

Fighting Fear (part 1): Tentacles

TO START:

When was the last time you were really, honestly scared? If you have a good story, you simply must tell it.

 

DISCUSSION:

Is fear something you struggle with? Give yourself a fearful ranking from 1 to 10. Count to three and have everyone show their number by holding up that number of fingers.

How does fear (when you experience it) make you feel? Do you feel like fear is holding you back? What from?

Do you feel like (or have you felt like) fear is a “little” sin in comparison to other things? DO you think that’s true? Why or why not?

What kinds of unhealthy behaviors and attitudes can fear drive us toward/stir inside us? Give an example.

What sorts of things are you afraid of? List the little things (spiders, heights) and the big things. Keep track of these fears so you can pray about them together as a group.

We said on Sunday that people who’re afraid:

1. Believe a lie

    -AND/OR-

2. Worship an idol

Consider some common, everyday fears. Make a list of ten or so and then look at each one individually.

  • What lies might lead you to have that fear?
  • What might you be idolizing if you have that fear?

 

SCRIPTURE READING:

Consider the following passages in which people express fear. What are they afraid of? What lie are they believing OR what idol are they worshiping?

Genesis 3: 10

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Genesis 26:7

When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”

Exodus 2:15

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

Judges 6:27

So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

I Samuel 7:7

When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines.

Acts 9:26

When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.

 

PRAYER:

Make a list of idols and lies (If you made one earlier, come back around to it).. What are we believing or worshipping that we shouldn’t be?

Have each group member take a lie or an idol and ask God to remove it from our hearts.

 

FOR FUN AND KNOWLEDGE:

Have group members guess the ten most common fears of Americans in 2015. Give them three minutes to write down ten fears in any order.

Now read the top ten fears in the infographic below. Give members two points for every one of the real top ten they included in their list. Now read fears 11-20. Members get one point for every one of those on their list.

Have a prize for the winner. Make it good. :)

11. Gun Control

12. War

13. Obamacare

14. Illness

15. Pandemic Natural Disasters

16. Nuclear Attack

17. Reptiles

18. Meltdown

19. Civil Unrest

20. Tornado Natural Disasters

Home (part 4): Until Then...

TO START

Think of something you do when you're home (a tradition, a pastime, a sport, etc.) or something that happens regularly that would be weird to anybody who wasn't from where you're from. Share with the group.

If you want, you can watch this video of a bull moose in an Anchorage, AL neighborhood as an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iuo3-u5HGqI

 

DISCUSSION

Think for a moment: Where do you feel most comfortable? Imagine an exact place or group of people. Don't move on until everyone has a place in mind and some have shared.

  • Why do you feel comfortable there? Are you happy to feel at peace in that context? Or does the answer bother you?

What do the words "resident alien" make you think of? In what ways are you a resident alien? What does that mean about how you live your life?

How are you different from the world? Share a time when you really stood out/didn’t fit in. OR share a story about someone you admire who doesn't fit in.

Do you sometimes find yourself too attached to this world? Explain. What could you do, practically speaking, to loosen the cords tying you to it? Make a plan.

On the flip side, have you ever been guilty of not investing enough in this world? Do you ever struggle to believe you could make a difference? If so, why do you think that is?

Together with your group, make a list of ways to make this earth more like home. Identify some things you're already doing and brainstorm some new ways, too. (Do this in conjunction with the scripture reading!)

 

SCRIPTURE READING

Read Romans 12:1-2; 9-21

Does this look like the way the world lives? Give examples (or counter examples).

What can we do to make the world look more like this? Offer practical suggestions.

 

PRAYER

  • Earlier we asked if you were too attached to this world. Specifically, what do you need to let go of here on earth? What are you holding onto too tightly or investing too much time or energy in? Have each group member share one thing they care too much about and pray for help letting go.
  • You might also consider praying The Lord's Prayer as a group tonight, emphasizing the words "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven." Where do you want to see God's will be done here on earth? Pray for the specific places you're love to see His kingdom come.

 

TO MAKE YOU THINK

Pico Iyer says in his TED talk on global mobility and notions of home, 

“I've always felt that the beauty of being surrounded by the foreign is that it slaps you awake. You can't take anything for granted. Travel, for me, is a little bit like being in love, because suddenly all your senses are at the setting marked "on." Suddenly you're alert to the secret patterns of the world. The real voyage of discovery, as Marcel Proust famously said, consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes. And of course, once you have new eyes, even the old sights, even your home become something different.”

Have you had this experience with travel? When and where?

What would it look like to be a tourist every day right where you are? Name three things you could start doing tomorrow.


 

Home (part 3): Finally

TO START:

If you had the chance to hear Zach Carstens perform his poem “Homesick” on Sunday, take a second to discuss it. How did it make you feel? Did anything stick out as interesting, beautiful or true? Did anything strike you as confusing or surprising?

If your group members missed it, the poem is short enough to watch together during group. Video should be posted by Monday morning HERE: http://www.rrcoc.org/welcomehome
 

DISCUSSION:

Do you want to go to Heaven? Why? Make a list of reasons together as a group. Post 5 of your reasons to the Round Rock Church of Christ Facebook page and hashtag your post #whyiwanttogohome

Do you ever struggle to understand what “Heaven” is exactly?

  • What misconceptions have you had in the past about what Heaven will be?
  • What questions do you have now? What questions simply can’t be answered?
  • How do we get past our unanswerable questions and embrace the mystery of forever with God? What does that look like?
  • Is “embracing mystery” hard for you? Why do you think that is?

How does the hope of Heaven shape the way we live here? How do people who think of home as ultimately and eternally Heaven live differently than people who see earth as their only home?

If you were at Round Rock on Sunday, what did you write on your postcard? What word of encouragement did you write to your tomorrow self about home? Share if you’re willing.

 

SCRIPTURE READING:

Read Revelation 21:1-11; 22-27 and 22:1-5.

What are your favorite parts of that passage? What sounds good to you about heaven? Pick one line/phrase/verse from the reading and write it on an index card to remind you of where you’re headed.
 

PRAYER:

Together, pray for the strength to see the unseen and live as pilgrims. Have each group member share one thing they’re tempted to turn to when the homesickness flares up--stuff, food, sex, entertainment, achievement, popularity… Pray over those things, asking God to remind us what we’re really longing for.

 

FOR FUN:

Complete the following quotes about Heaven. Whoever has the most right answers wins.

"Heaven is where all the _______ you've ever loved come to greet you." (Answer: dogs)

"You have to go on and be crazy. _____________ is like Heaven." -Jimi Hendrix (Answer: Craziness)

"The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a ________." -G.K. Chesterton (Answer: playground)

"Everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to _______." -Joe Louis (Answer: die)

Tears are often the _________ by which men see far into heaven." -Henry Ward Beecher (Answer: telescope)

"... Ooh Baby, do you what that's worth? Ooh heaven is a place on __________." -Belinda Carlisle (Answer: earth)

"When you're lyin' here in my arms, I'm findin' it hard to ________. We're in Heaven." -Bryan Adams (Answer: believe)

Home (part 2): Not There Yet

TO START

Have you ever felt homesick? How old were you? Where were you visiting or living? What did you miss about home? Encourage all group members to share.

 

DISCUSSION

  • Why does the Christian experience homesickness here on earth? How does that manifest itself?
  • How might homesickness be valuable? What does it remind us of?
  • What if we're not experiencing homesickness? Why might that be? What could we do to stir it up in our hearts?
  • What's going on in your life right now that reminds you you're not home yet? Have each group member share something, either something personal or something they've witnessed.
  • What might tempt us to make this place our home? What would it look like to put down roots here in an unhealthy way?

 

SCRIPTURE READING

Read Hebrews 11:1-16.

If your name were in this list, what would it say you did "by faith"? What about the way you're living your life shows that you're seeking a homeland?

 

PRAYER

In the last chapter of the last book of the Bible the apostle John prays, "Come, Lord Jesus." It's a prayer for the homesick.

Identify reasons you want Jesus to come back. Tell Jesus those reasons in prayer. After each reason say together as a group, "Come, Lord Jesus."

 

FOR FUN AND KNOWLEDGE

According to Everydayhealth.com, here's a list of ways for college freshman to deal with homesickness:

  • Realize homesickness is a normal feeling.
  • Allow time to get used to your new home environment.
  • Talk about your feelings with friends, family, a resident assistant, or counselor.
  • Post pictures and things from home in your room.
  • Make plans to visit home, keeping in mind that you will be returning to school.
  • Get involved in campus activities.
  • Don't ignore your feelings or try to drown them by drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or participating in any type of risky behavior.
  • Learn what helps you relax — it might be deep breathing exercises, music, or exercise.
  • Be realistic when it comes to your expectations about college. Remember that you must relax and play a bit in addition to studying, or you'll burn out. Structure your time and work toward finding a healthy balance.

Are any of these suggestions helpful for the Christian dealing with homesickness? Are any of them unhelpful or even destructive?

 

Home (part 1): Place Of Origin

TO START

To start group tonight have each member grab a pen and paper. Have members write down as many compound words including the word “home” as they can in 90 seconds. Have a prize for the winner.

 

DISCUSSION

What does the word "home" make you think of? What do you FEEL when you hear the word home?

Where is home for you? Is that a simple or complicated question to answer?

  • Where are you from? Where do you belong? Are those the same place? Why do you think that is?

Home shapes our sense of identity, community and enmity. In other words, home gives us an understanding of who we are, where we belong, and what we’re against.

Consider these three first in the sense of your earthly home. How does where you’re from affect who you are, where you belong and what you’re against? Have each person in the group complete these three prompts:

  1. I am a ________ [insert last name]. We are ____________ [insert adjective].

  2. We __________________ [insert something you do in your family].

  3. We do NOT __________________ [insert something you would never do in your family].

Now consider those three in relation to your spiritual home. How does our origin story as people of God shape our understanding of who we are, where we belong and what we’re against.

Complete the following prompts together:

  1. We are God’s people. We are ______________ [insert a few adjectives].

  2. We find belonging in/with ____________________.

  3. We are against _____________________.

Is knowing this important? Why or why not?

Does understanding where you come from as God’s child affect the way you live on a day-to-day basis? How does knowing you belong to and with God shape your decisions, priorities and thoughts?

 


SCRIPTURE READING

At some point in the evening, you may wish to read scripture together. Consider reading Romans 8:14-39, having each member read a piece.

 

PRAYER

Tonight, pray for one another’s homes. Have each group member share a problem or hardship going on in their hometown (or family). Pray for each home, one by one.


FOR KNOWLEDGE AND FUN

*If your group is interested, you might watch this super-interesting TED talk Justin mentioned on Sunday. It’s about what home means in an ever-more-mobile world:

https://www.ted.com/talks/pico_iyer_where_is_home?language=en#t-105912

 

*If your group is looking for a fun activity to do together this week, why don’t you brainstorm movies about home (going home, making a home, etc.) and then pick one to watch together? Either get together to watch it, watch it apart and report back next week about how it made you feel, OR watch it at your own separate homes but at the same time, texting or chatting together while you watch.

Movie suggestions to prime the pump: Homeward Bound, Dan In Real Life, Sweet Home Alabama...







 

Love... Where You Live (part 3): Brave Enough To Love

#1 Awkward

Read Luke 5:27-32.

Are you uncomfortable about spending time with anyone on your block?

Anyone you would feel strange being seen with? Why?

Are you afraid of reaching out to anyone on your block? Why?

Do you feel like any of your neighbors are "bad candidates" for the gospel? Are there really "bad candidates"?

It’s okay to be honest even if you’re not proud of your answer.

We’re usually afraid of people who’re different from us. Try to think of one thing you have in common with each of your neighbors. Share what you have in common with the neighbor who seems most different.

 

#2 TMI

Discuss the impact the 24-hour media cycle has on your worldview. Does watching or reading the news make you more or less afraid? Why do you think that is?

What are you afraid of that you have only seen on the news?

What’s the worst-case scenario if you engaged your neighbors?

Does knowing them increase the likelihood of your worst-case scenario?

 

#3 I’m So Scary

Get outside your own head for a minute and consider yourself from your neighbor’s perspective. Are you scary or awkward? Who do you think might have a reason to be scared of you? Or weirded out by you? Why?

 

#4 Build Up

Paul says in Romans 15:2, "Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up."

How could you please your neighbor for their good this week? Be specific. Make a plan.

 

#5 On Neighboring, Levitically Speaking

Consider the following Levitical commands about neighboring. Which ones are the hardest to keep? Why so? Give a modern example of something specific a neighbor might do to violate each of these commands.

Leviticus 6:2-5

If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving a neighbor about something entrusted to them or left in their care or about something stolen, or if they cheat their neighbor, or if they find lost property and lie about it, or if they swear falsely about any such sin that people may commit— when they sin in any of these ways and realize their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to them, or the lost property they found, or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full.

Leviticus 18:20

Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her.

Leviticus 19:13

Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.

Leviticus 19:15

Do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

Leviticus 19:16

Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life.

Leviticus 19:17

Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.

Leviticus 19:18

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Love... Where You Live (part 2): The Space-Time Continuum

1. Lots To Do

Take a second right now to write down everything you wish you could get done this week. Give group members one minute. Write as much as you can.

Is your list reasonable?

Do you ever feel like you have more to do than time to do it?

How does that feel?

How does it make you feel when you realize you need to be doing something you haven't been doing already? How does it feel to add something to the list? Be completely honest.

Does this sermon series stress you out at all?

Is there a solution for that?

Does God want you to feel stressed out or overwhelmed? If not, how do we swing being good neighbors and everything else?



2. Which Sister Are You?

Read Luke 10:38-42.

Do you associate more with Martha or Mary? If you were going to defend Martha in that
moment, what would you want to say?

Do you ever fall prey to "The Worship of the Urgent"? Do you usually/often do what's urgent/pressing, no matter how many more important things there are to do? Think of the last time you ignored something important to do what was urgent. Share with the group.

 

3. Myth Busters

Discuss the following myths and how you see them impacting our culture:

  • “Things will settle down someday.”
  • “More will be enough.”
  • “Everybody lives like this.”

With which of the three myths do you struggle the most? How does that reveal itself in your life?

Watch this video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LUhMIHWsYLY

Do you find yourself saying "I'm too busy"?

Are you really?

What might change if instead of saying "I'm too busy" you said instead, "That's not a priority for me"?

 

4. World's Greatest Neighbor

Imagine yourself with the time to be a great neighbor. What could change in your life or in your neighborhood? Take a moment to daydream. Be specific.

 

5. Making Space

As you consider the issue of margin in your own life, what could you say “no” to in order to spend more time in your neighborhood? What sacrifices do you need to make to be a good neighbor?

 

6. A Good Way To Love

Are you praying for your neighbors? Pray for them together. Make a list of all your neighbors and pray over the names. If you know any particular needs, pray for those. Otherwise, pray they'd be led closer to God. Pray you'd have opportunities to be a good neighbor.

You may even let your neighbors know you've decided to pray regularly for the people who live around you. Ask them if there's anything in particular you can pray for, and let them know you're honored to do it. 

Love Where You Live (part 1): Won't You Be Their Neighbor?

#1 A Quiz

To start small group tonight, have your members take a quick quiz. Ask them to write down the names of as many of their neighbors as they can in one minute.

If some members did very well, ask them to share with the group what they've done to get to know the people they live near. Do they have any practical tips to share?

If other members don't do as well, ask why. What's keeping you from getting to know your neighbors?

Is making friends with your neighbors something that comes easily to you?

Later we'll come back to this...

 

#2 Neighborly

Read Luke 10:25-37 (If most of your group heard the sermon Sunday you can simply have a member summarize the text.)

Think about this question for a minute and then answer together:

  • According to Jesus' story, is it convenient to be a good neighbor?
    • What kinds of sacrifices might a good neighbor be called upon to make?
    • What does a good neighbor prioritize?

Have you ever lived near a good neighbor? What made that person a good neighbor? What does a good neighbor do that you can learn from and copy?

 

#3 Not Easy

Now (be honest), do you actually want to be a good neighbor? Or do you think it'll be a big hassle?

  • Take a moment to vent a little if you need to. Life is hard. God calls us to do a lot. Do you feel like maybe being a good neighbor is just one more thing you won't get right? It's okay to say that to your group. Tell us how you feel...

If members of your group are feeling this way, discuss why and how this CAN be done. Figure out a reason to believe/hope you might be able to do this. Be sure to circle back to depending on God.

One reason it's hard to be a good neighbor is simply that the devil doesn't want you to be one. Pray as a group that you'd be delivered from the evil one and could overcome the temptation to put off interacting with your neighbors.

 

#4 To-Do List

Now's the part of the night where you get specific. Together with your group make a list of ways you could get to know your neighbor better. Make them specific and actionable. See how many different ideas you can come up with in ten minutes of brainstorming.

Have each group member pick one step from your list and commit to taking that step this week.

Then, pray for each group member by name.

You might have members text the group when they take their step this week.

 

#5 Personal/Impersonal

What do you think of the following statement?

"A good neighbor always trumps a good program."

Is that true? What does it mean? What does it mean in terms of leading people to Christ?

What does it mean for the body at Round Rock? What will make our body grow most effectively?

 

#6 An Example

Watch this video of people being good neighbors. You might need a tissue.

http://digitalsynopsis.com/advertising/samsung-hearing-hands-duyan-eller-video-call-center/

Do you have a neighbor who needs help right now? How could you meet his or her immediate needs?

 

#7 No Harm, No Foul

Read Romans 13:9-11

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Love does no harm to a neighbor.

Is there any chance you're doing harm to your literal neighbors? What might that look like? How could you stop?

 

#8 Weird

Do you have any weird neighbors? For one minute you’re allowed to share one story about a weird neighbor you’ve had.

After that story, identify one or two weird behaviors of your own. What might your neighbors think is weird about you?

CRASH COURSE: A Quick Word On The Power Of Christian Community

Welcome back to your friendly small group discussion guide. As you ease back into small group discussion, please remember the following things:

1. This guide is here to help you, not to shackle you. Depend on it as much or as little as you please. Feel free to supplement with readings, questions, or resources of your own.

2. We create the small group discussion guide knowing many of your members haven't heard the sermon. This year we've removed the customary first question reviewing the sermon content. If all of your group heard the sermon and wants to discuss it, that's great. If no one in your group has heard the sermon, this guide should still lead you into a valuable discussion.

3. Small group is NOT a class. Please facilitate discussion that leads to connection and practical application. Please do NOT lecture.

 

#1 All Together

This week we'll be talking about the power of community--both what it's liked to be loved in a community and what it's like to love others. To get the discussion juices flowing, have members answer this question:

When you were a child did you ever belong to a club of some kind? Teams count, too.

  • What was that experience like for you?
  • Did you feel like you belonged? Why or why not?
  • Share about a time you felt embraced OR a time you felt excluded.

What's so good about being a part of something bigger than yourself?

What are the liabilities?

Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

What do you think? Are two people better than one? Is that easy for you to believe or do you need convincing sometimes?

Do you ever find yourself trying to do life alone? What might be the problem with that?

 

#2 Raise The Roof

Read Mark 2:1-12 (If your group members heard the sermon you can skip reading the text together).

First imagine you're the paralyzed man. How do you feel in this moment? How do you feel about your friends?

  • Have you ever desperately needed your friends' assistance and found them faithful? Share the story.

Would it have made you uncomfortable to let your friends help you this much? Do you ever find yourself pushing friends away when they try to help you?

  • Why do you think that is?
  • What could you do to stop it?

Now imagine you're one of the friends. How do you think it felt to see your friend healed?

  • Have you ever had the honor of leading a friend into a healing of some sort (comfort after a hardship, monetary assistance, wise counsel, etc.)? How did it feel? Share the story.

Do you think it was convenient for the paralyzed man's friends to get him into the presence of Jesus? What sacrifices or awkward moments would they have encountered?

  • Is God calling you into some inconvenient community? Think of a person or group that needs you right now, perhaps someone who needs you in a way that bothers you. Have members write down one name on a card. Then pray together that you would be a better friend to that person.

 

#3 A Better Friend

It can sometimes be awkward to talk openly about community in church, partly because the church is supposed to be a place where everyone finds belonging and love. Of course, it isn't always. We want to make this small group a place where we're honest.

Have you struggled to find community at church? Are you struggling to feel connected at Round Rock?

If you are, what do you think you could do to get more connected? Consider possible barriers you've put up and need to take down. What opportunities are you turning down? Are you too busy? Etc...

List ways to spend time with fellow brothers and sisters.

It's likely that other people have let you down in terms of connection (that stinks), but we ask that this not be a time of complaining about others or the church as a whole. Instead, brainstorm ways you can show up and do your part.

 

#4 The Same Page

As we talk about community, why doesn't your group review the mission statement for small groups at Round Rock? It's this:

Our small groups exist to provide a predictable environment where participants experience authentic, intimate community that leads to spiritual growth.

Go ahead and say that out loud together.

Take a moment to review your past as a small group. Is this happening on a regular basis? How well do you think you're achieving the goal? (Leaders, be sure to let your members answer honestly. Don't talk too much. Listen.)

What can your group do better? Make a list of some things you could do to grow closer to one another. Make another list of ways you could leverage your close relationships to grow closer to God together.

 

#5 If You Build It

Not all community-building has to be serious. Finish up your group's discussion tonight with a team-building game.

Imagine...

You have chartered a yacht with three friends, for the holiday trip of a lifetime across the Atlantic Ocean. Because none of you have any previous sailing experience, youhave hired an experienced skipper and two-person crew.

Unfortunately in mid Atlantic a fierce fire breaks out in the ships galley and theskipper and crew have been lost whilst trying to fight the blaze. Much of the yacht is destroyed and is slowly sinking.

Your location is unclear because vital navigational and radio equipment have been damaged in the fire. Your best estimate is that you are many hundreds of miles from the nearest landfall.

You and your friends have managed to save 15 items, undamaged and intact after the fire. In addition, you have salvaged a four man rubber life craft and a box of matches.

Your task is to rank the 15 items in terms of their importance for you, as you wait to be rescued.

The items are:

  • A sextant
  • A shaving mirror
  • Mosquito netting
  • 25 liters of water
  • A case of army rations
  • Maps of the Atlantic Ocean
  • A floating seat cushion
  • A 10 liter can of oil
  • A small transistor radio
  • 20 square feet of opaque plastic sheeting
  • A can of shark repellent
  • 1 bottle of 160 proof rum
  • 15 feet nylon rope
  • 2 boxes of chocolate bars
  • An ocean fishing kit and pole

Split your group into teams of 3 or 4 to play. Have a prize for the winning team.

For the right answers (as determined by the coast guard) click here: http://insight.typepad.co.uk/lost_at_sea.pdf

We Are The Resistance (Part 2): Not In Vain

**THIS IS THE LAST DISCUSSION GUIDE OF THE SUMMER. WE'LL PICK UP AGAIN IN THE FALL. FOR SUMMER-MEETING GROUPS, SEE SUGGESTIONS BELOW.**

 

#1 Watch or Listen To "We Are The Resistance (Part 2): Not In Vain"

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 Hard Won

Do you ever feel like following God is too hard?

Give an example of a time when doing what God called you to do wasn't easy.

Are you going through a difficult season right now? Is it hard to consistently make good choices in some area of your life? Share.

(If group members share here, take a moment and pray. Prayer is one way to unleash God's power in our lives.)

During the sermon on Sunday we read I Corinthians 15:56-58. Because it's so spectacularly great, let's read it again:

"The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

Does it help you to know that you will ultimately, in Christ, be victorious over sin and death?

  • How does it affect the way you fight here and now?

Consider the following scenarios and ask these questions:

  1. If victory were uncertain how would you proceed?
  2. Knowing that victory IS certain, what's the best way to act?
  • Having discovered you're a Christian, your boss consistently pokes fun at you at work. Lately she's been overlooking you for leadership opportunities.
  • You have cancer. Likely you'll die within the year.
  • You're trying your best to overcome an addiction. It is CRAZY hard.
  • All your friends spend their money unwisely on really fun stuff. You're trying to commit to regular giving and you want to make better choices about how you spend and save. But you also want to do all the fun things your friends are doing.
  • You have someone in your life you're just unwilling to forgive. But lately you're feeling like God wants you to take that step.
  • It's possible God's calling you to be a missionary in a foreign country. But you don't want to move away from family and the comfort of the USA.
  • Your spouse is incredibly hard to live with. She is consistently selfish, impatient, and unkind.

 

#3 Whispers

On Sunday we said the enemy often tells us "It doesn't really matter."

What in your life are you tempted to believe doesn't matter?

Is there a place in your life where you feel like your efforts are in vain?

Share with the group and let your friends encourage you and show you why your faithfulness and hard work matter.

 

#4 Long Game

Consider this quote from Maria Popova:

“‘Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.’ This is borrowed from the wise and wonderful Debbie Millman, for it’s hard to better capture something so fundamental yet so impatiently overlooked in our culture of immediacy. The myth of the overnight success is just that — a myth — as well as a reminder that our present definition of success needs serious retuning. As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.”

Do you ever want immediate results when it comes to your spiritual maturity?

Does that phrase "tedium of the blossoming" ring true for you? Have you ever been frustrated by the "tedium of blossoming"?

For something similar, watch THIS from Malcolm Gladwell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPCOMtJL6vA

Why do we like the idea of "overnight success" so much?

Does it make you feel better or worse to hear Gladwell say greatness requires 10 years of work?

 

#5 Insignificant?

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

Is that true? Why or why not?

Now read the following passages:

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders..." I Thes. 4:11-12

"Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities." Luke 19:17

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Col. 3:23-24

Do you feel like our work is "insignificant"? Do you feel like it's important to do?

  • Why or why not?

 


Is your group meeting over the summer? Here are a few possible ways to spend your time together:

  • Share your personal testimonies. Get to know what God's doing (and has done) in your friends.
  • Pray over each family in your group. Pray thoroughly.
  • Read a book and discuss it.
  • Read through a book of the Bible together and discuss.
  • Watch a video series (Email kt@rrcoc.org for a list of titles.)
  • Do fun things. (Grill out. Meet at a park. Play games. Sing karaoke...)

 

 

We Are The Resistance (Part 1): Behind Enemy Lines

#1 Watch or Listen To "We Are The Resistance (Part 1): Behind Enemy Lines"

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 Resistant?

On Sunday we said the church is a resistance movement. What is resistance? Define it.

What do we, as children of God, resist?

Does anything in you bristle at the idea of being in "the resistance"? Do you feel excited about being a part of an oppositional force? Why or why not?

As we said on Sunday, Jesus told his apostles, "In this world you will have trouble."

  • Does this describe your life at all? Is it hard to be a follower of God?
  • If so, explain how.
  • If not, why not? Why do you think Jesus said it would be hard if it isn't? Should it be?

It's so easy to get comfortable on this earth. To seek pleasure and safety and security and ease. What practical steps can we Christians take to remind ourselves that we're not here for those things? How do we stay on guard?

We said on Sunday that Christians need to put on the full armor of God. Let's read further and see what that armor looks like. Read Eph. 6:14-17.

Make a list of the pieces of armor and discuss them as a group.

  • How do you put each one on practically speaking?
  • How do we wield something like faith or righteousness as a weapon?
  • Why are peace, truth, faith, righteousness, salvation and the Word of God effective in fighting the Evil one?

 

#3 Watch something Epic

To remind you of who you are, consider watching a movie. Any epic good versus evil movie will do. Here's a list of possibilities:

  • Gladiator (R)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (PG)
  • Any Lord of the Rings movie (PG-13)
  • The Matrix (R)

Before you watch, ask your group members to be looking for a character with whom they, as resistance fighters, identify. Tell them to watch the movie using Sunday's sermon as a filter. After watching ask:

  • In what way(s) is the life you're living as a child of God similar to the journey of the main character? In what ways should it be? In what ways do you feel like you're falling short of your resistance calling?
  • In what ways is Satan like the villain? In this depiction, do you recognize the forces of evil you're called upon to fight in real life?
  • Every "force of evil" speaks lies to its people. What lies did the villain tell in this movie? Are any of those lies familiar? What lies is the evil one whispering to you? Make a list of lies and then fight with truth like Jesus did in the wilderness by identifying what God's Word says and speaking it out loud in opposition.

 

 

Why Young People & Old People Need Each Other

#1 Watch or Listen To "Why Young People & Old People Need Each Other"

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 Different

Do you ever feel uncomfortable around people who're older than you are? What about with people who're younger?

  • Why do you think that is (or isn't)?
  • What do you struggle to understand about the way they think and act?
  • What do you easily relate to?

Do you have any funny stories about trying to interact with someone much older or younger? You should definitely share. :)

 

#3 Look At The Bright Side

Grab a piece of paper...

Make a list of the advantages of youth.

Make a list of the advantages of old age.

Now read Titus 2:3-8...

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

  • What unique temptations/needs for instruction does Paul identify for older men? Older women? Younger women? Younger men?

 

#4 Better Together

Have you ever had a very close relationship with someone much older or younger than you are (family not included)?

  • What was good about it?
  • Why do you think that relationship worked so well?

How do we intentionally pursue relationships with people who're a different age than we are? Be specific and practical.

What barriers will we face? How do we overcome them?

 

#5 Not So Different

Watch this story about a 3 year old boy and an 89 year old WWII veteran who're neighbors and best friends: http://www.hlntv.com/video/2014/07/09/little-boy-elderly-man-are-kindred-spirits

 

#6 Coffee Date

Don't forget to get together with someone across the generational divide! In case you misplaced the questions we distributed on Sunday, here's a refresher:

What are one or two things that are most striking to you about Jesus?

What are two things you love about the kingdom of God right now?

When you think about our church, what’s one thing you hope for?

What are you learning these days?

What’s something important that you think people my age often lose sight of?

To ask someone younger: Do you have any resolutions/hopes for how you’ll act when you’re my age?

To ask someone older: What’s one thing you did right when you were my age? One thing you did wrong?

What are two things could people my age do to bless people your age?