Rank #1: The Waiting- Mother's Day
The Waiting- Life Group Questions
We all struggle in the waiting. We struggle with the tyranny of the urgent. In Genesis 1 we see the Spirit of God hovering over the waters which symbolize chaos, lack, disorder, or something unformed like the future. We struggle in the waiting that falls between the chaos and the creation, the problem and the solution, the death and resurrection. In this space we need Emanuel, the God who is with us right here and right now. We need the reminder to be still and know he is God… even in this. Being still, waiting, is not passive but active. It takes maturity and patience to wait well. To be present to where we are and where God has us. To be honest and wholehearted takes intentionality and the prayer to ask the Spirit of God to fill us right here and now.
What would “waiting well” look like for you? What do you do in that space and what does it feel like?
To wait well means we are responsive and not reactive. How do you contrast these two things?
Isaiah 40:31 is translated in two ways. One way says, “those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength.” A different translation says, “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.” Why do you think those are interchangeable through biblical translations?
Read Psalm 46: 1-5 again. Where do you see hope for yourself in this passage?
Wait Without Hope
By: T.S. Eliot
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.
T. S. Eliot
May 12 2020
Rank #2: The Narrow Road of Emotions- A Conversermon
The Narrow Road of Emotions- Life Group Questions
Psalm 116:1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Psalm 42:4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.
Depending on how we grew up and the messages we heard we may have learned that we should deny and repress emotions because they don’t matter and are untrustworthy…or we grew up in a way where we were led by our emotions. The bible doesn’t shy away from emotions. Especially the Psalms! To walk faithfully through this internal world requires us embracing our emotions without being owned by them. There is a difference between controlling our emotions and emotional regulation and awareness. Much of the health in how we deal with others in learning to navigate that space.
How were you taught to interact with your emotions growing up?
What did you do with your emotions as you got older? What decisions did you make about how to you were going to operate in that world?
How do you understand the difference between controlling your emotions and emotional regulation?
What do you think is the next step for you in terms of growing in this area? What do you think God wants to say to you about your emotional space?
Nov 12 2019
Rank #3: Narrow Road VS Narrow Mind
The Narrow Path VS the Narrow Mind- Life Group Questions
Maybe you have been called narrow minded before. Sometimes we are narrow minded and sometimes it’s an accusation made by someone who is narrow minded about their own perspective. This week we contrasted walking the narrow path VS being narrow minded. We talked about the need to be open to seeing possibilities outside of our current perspective. We talked about the need for confidence, the decision to move forward, along with humility, the understanding that you could be wrong about the choices you make.
Jesus is very show and tell. Is there a favorite Jesus story that inspires you on this topic? Share that story and why it’s important to you.
Sometimes being called narrow minded is good because you have taken a stand. Sometimes it’s not good. Have you ever been called narrow minded and what was your experience?
The main distinction between the narrow mind and the narrow road is about the path we walk. The narrow path is the action we take more than the internal belief structure. What is a way you have chosen to live that is unique or has seemed strange to those around you?
We talked about the narrow path being one of love. Joel quoted Martin Luther King Jr, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We know laws can’t change the heart. Often change doesn’t happen because we have to love to change a heart issue. Can you think of something or someone you would have more influence over if you had more love?
Nov 05 2019
Rank #4: Spirit- Fuggetaboutit
Spirit- Fuggetaboutit Life Group Questions
John 14: 15-17 “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.
The Scriptures tell us to “remember” over 150 times. God speaks to our identity and we forget. We face things in life that make us forget and the voice of “The Accuser” steps in. “The world” in this passage are those who have forgotten and listened to the Accuser. Those who obey Jesus have been given the Advocate to remind them and “guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)
The voice of the Accuser wants to make you forget who you are. Forget your identity. Have you experienced this voice whispering to you, questioning you, discouraging you lately? What is it saying and what do you need to speak as truth?
When it comes to your own internal dialogue, the way you talk to yourself, which voice have you been siding with? The Advocate or the Accuser? What is something the Spirit who is your Advocate is saying that you need to spend more time remembering?
What will be important for you to remember this week? What do you need to practically do to be reminded of the voice of the Advocate this week?
Bonus: Going deeper with scripture. Read Zechariah 3:1-10 and discuss anything that stands out to you.
Oct 15 2019
Rank #5: Peace- Advent
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
We often long for circumstantial peace. Situational peace. We want everything to be ok around us and then we want to protect that. Often humanity has pursued and protected peace in some not-so-peaceful ways. We do pursue peace by trying to get away from everything and withdraw. We pursue peace by staying busy so we can’t feel the things that unsettle us. We pursue peace by trying to get everyone to get along and not dealing with the problem at hand. The problem is we can’t create external peace if we don’t possess internal peace. This is something that needs developed, practiced, and matured. Then we can work from a place of peace instead of working for peace.
Name something that disrupt your sense of peace on a regular basis. What is Jesus inviting you into regarding that situation right now?
Jesus, the prince of peace, brought a lot of disruption in his time. How do you understand Jesus being the prince of peace? What does that mean to you?
Philippians 4:7 is a verse often quoted about peace. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” What does this mean to you?
What is one thing you could do to increase internal peace (regardless of circumstance) in your life this year?
Dec 10 2019
Rank #6: The Narrow Road- The Body
The Narrow Road- The Body
One of the most quoted Jewish prayers is called the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
The point was that we love God with every part of us. The heart, the center of emotion, the soul, לבבך Their word for the inner thoughts or whole mind, and our strength which is in the body. The NET translations says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You must love the Lord your God with your whole mind, your whole being, and all your strength.” No matter how you translate it, it means ALL OF YOU. Every part of you connected and committed. Every part welcome before God. We looked at stories where people who were told their bodies weren’t welcome were connected and healed by Jesus. A woman people thought of as sinful, a man possessed by darkness, a woman thought of as impure because she had been bleeding for 12 years. Our bodies aren’t to be forgotten, shamed, or dishonor, but are welcome with God.
What messages did you receive about your body growing up and what do you think God wants to say to that now? Is there any part of you that feels disconnected that God wants to welcome now?
Your body doesn’t have a concept of God but can only experience God. Have you ever had an experience where it felt like your body connected to God and experienced him?
Our faith should include elements of being faithful to our bodies to the best of our abilities. Part of learning to hear from God is also listening to our bodies. What is one way you could be more faithful to your body? What is something your body needs in the next season? What is something you know would make your body feel better?
Nov 19 2019
Rank #7: The Why Behind the Why
The Why Behind the Why- Life Group Questions
Scriptures: Matthew 5-7, Mark 2: 23-27, John 21:15-25
Jesus is always trying to get to the heart of the matter. He’s trying to point to the thing behind the thing. To do this Jesus fulfills the law in it’s purpose and breaks it in practice. (Mark 2: Disciples picking grain- “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”) The whole of the sermon on the mount is pointing to the motivation, the heart, they “why” behind our decisions. Jesus understands that an external law will never change us the way an internal motivation does… which is being led by the Spirit. Jesus works on our internal motivation and purifies them. Purity comes from going through the fire, not from avoiding it.
In John 21 Jesus invites Peter to eat breakfast with him after the resurrection. While they are eating, Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves him. He keeps asking the question to get to the heart of the matter. On Sunday Joel asked Sue why she goes to church. After she answered he asked why else she goes to church. She answered that and then he asked one more time if there were any other reasons she went to church. Each time her answers got deeper and more motivation and heart was revealed. This can be a gift we give to each others. Ask each person the same question three times to see if the answer can get deeper. Do any one of these series of questions with each person or come up with your own.
Why do you go to church? Is there any other reason you go to church? Are there any other reasons you go to church?
What is one of the highlights of your life and why was it impactful? Why else did it impact you? Are there any other ways it impacted you?
What do you want to see God do in your life this next year? What will it look like when this happens? How else do you think this will affect you?
Nov 26 2019
Rank #8: Palm Sunday 2020
Apr 07 2020
Rank #9: Freedom to Choose
Mar 24 2020
Rank #10: Grace Overpowers Death- Romans Lent Series
Read Romans 5:12-21
When you see a “therefore” in scripture, ask what it is there for. It’s building on an idea. Paul has leveled the playing field for all of us in Romans 1-4 showing how we are all equal in our need for grace and how it’s available to us. He builds on Romans 3 where he talks about us being justified through faith. Now he is going beyond it and making an argument about how the impact of Jesus is greater than the impact of Adam. How through Adam the world fell apart but through Jesus it is not only restored but being made new. We need that hope right now.
Paul is trying to promote faith and hope in a time where the Roman church feels little. It was hard and stressful times. He is reminding them of the big picture of what Christ is accomplishing. It’s hard to see and feel that right now. How do you think/ experience this idea of Christ’s work being greater than Adam’s trespass in a time like this?
Think of other times in your life where there has been a lot of disruption and disorientation. Hard times happen and we have no choice about that. We do get to choose our reaction in the middle of it. We do get to choose our response. What helps you get reoriented toward hope in hard times?
How can you feel connected to others during this time?
What is something you can do to calm yourself?
In these times we don’t need a hero but billions of small heroic acts. What is something you can do to make things a bit better for yourself and those around you?
Mar 17 2020
Rank #11: Awakening Your Navigational System
Awakening Your Navigational System- Life Group Questions
Scriptures: Acts 10:9-35, Acts 15:5-11, 24-29
Scripture points to three ways God leads us in the Spirit.
Signs- Sometimes something happens outside our normal paradigm. Something big happens and it takes us outside of our normal paradigm. It can be an enlightening experience that almost instantaneously impacts our thinking, feeling, and behavior. It feels like it comes from outside us. Beyond us.
Intuition- Sometimes we have an internal sense, a kind of deep knowing, a pull that comes from within us that leads into action. This sense works with what is already within us and what has been developed. This can come to us quickly or as a slow build that leads us, prompts us, and compels us in a direction we feel called.
Discernment- This is the practice of trying to work out how to best live in the intuitive sense we have or the signs we have experienced. In the New Testament this is a communal process where the body of Christ does it’s best to work out how to live based on what they have experienced. As it says in Acts 15:28 when they were trying to figure it out they simply said, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us.” This is an ongoing process that can change. In Acts 15 here they are told not to eat meat sacrificed to idols but when Paul instructs the Corinth church in 1 Corinthians 8 he tells them they can eat that meat. Discernment is where we choose a path forward in faith knowing we could be wrong but it’s doing our best. It’s not always obvious but it’s part of faith.
Before we look at any specific questions together, what comes to mind for you when you see these three things? Open it up for discussion. What stands out to you? What scriptures or personal experiences come to mind?
Do people find the discernment process frustrating because we want things to be more clear. How have you experienced that process? How do you feel about it?
It’s good to ask for clear signs and experiences. it’s good to develop a listening heart to develop Spirit-led intuition. It’s good to develop the wisdom needed to walk in discernment. What do you need to lean into right now the most? Why?
Feb 11 2020
Rank #12: Trinity
Trinity- Life Group Questions
Athanasian Creed (Selection)
That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity,
neither blending their persons
nor dividing their essence.
Matthew 3:16-17 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
This week we look at the mystery of Trinity. God who is one in unity through love, purpose, and relationship but who is plural in the sense of uniqueness and otherness. God is love and love requires an “other” to love. At the center of the God head is unity in relational love. Jesus prayed that we would be one as God is one in John 17.
1. What does it mean to you that God is trinity? Why does it matter?
2. Is it easier for you to pray or relate to one member of the trinity than the others?
3. We also have three guiding parts in us; our mind, our emotions, and a body we need to care for. What part of you needs a bit of care this week?
4. Spirit is the animating force that can help you care for yourself and others? What helps you tune into Spirit?
Jan 28 2020
Rank #13: Tuning In- 20/20 in 2020
20/20 in 2020- Tuning In
Life Group Questions
Read John 5:16-20
Jesus just healed someone. As usual religious leaders are upset. There is a belief that those with access to God should fit into their expectation of the spiritual hierarchy. Jesus is from a low class, has an illegitimate birth, and he is not recognized by the other teachers as one of them. He isn’t like them and doesn’t go along with their expectations and flow. But the thing that is so different about Jesus is he is tuned into compassion of others and tuned into his father. He hears God and loves people. These two things are also what we are called too. It’s hard because we are so tuned into everything else. It’s easier to tune into the voice of others, our habits, our needs. As followers of Christ our call is to learn to tune more in to him and tune out the competition.
Why was Jesus so good at tuning into God? What does this passage show us about that?
When was a time you felt very tuned in to God?
Where are you having a hard time tuning in right now? What voices can drown out the voice of God?
What is one thing you can do today and tomorrow to turn down the voice of the competition and turn up the voice of the Divine? How can you imitate Christ more in this way?
Jan 21 2020
Rank #14: Grace- 20/20 in 2020
Grace- 20/20 in 2020 Life Group Question
Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all.
Galations 5: 6 The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Grace doesn’t seem practical to us intuitively. It can feel unnatural and unjust. Mercy is not getting what we deserve but grace is getting what we could never deserve. Grace is getting goodness when we don’t deserve it. Paying back feels necessary to us because it’s more satisfying to our mind and ego. Often grace is communicate in the church as a loan and not a gift. But true grace is knowing every day is new.
To clarify, showing grace to other people does not mean living a life without boundaries. There are people that are not safe and we cannot give them access to our lives but that self protective stance doesn’t produce change in them.
Grace is the thing that produces change in us. Knowing it is safe to fail before God we can move forward in faith and this journey will change us in every way.
1. A real question people face is, “If I extend grace to this person what will motivate them to change?” How do you deal with the internal conflict that comes from knowing that scripture teaches that only grace can produce internal and lasting change and the fact that it’s hard to the person in front of us will change if we give them grace?
2. How are you at extending grace to your self in your “self talk” throughout the day?
3. What would help you remember to pause and consider grace in a moment that triggers you and you feel shame? What would help you remember to pause and consider grace in a moment where you want someone else to pay for their error?
4. Before you close. Take a moment of silence and ask God to speak to you about any area you need to invite grace into today. After that you can pray together or close.
Jan 14 2020
Rank #15: Love- 20/20 in 2020
Love- 20/20 in 2020 Life Group Questions
Read John 13:1-17
At the start of a new year and especially a new decade it’s good to take a step back and think about where you are and where God is leading you. It’s good to think about what is on your heart. This past weekend we talked about perceiving and receiving how God is loving you. How our capacity to love comes from our capacity to receive it. Love opens our eyes to be able to see ourselves and other differently.
1. It’s hard to receive love and grace. Imagine you are sitting there are Jesus kneels before you to wash your feet. What thoughts would come to mind? What emotions come up? What does your body feel like?
2. Do you have a fairly recent experience where you were able to perceive and receive God’s love for you?
3. What are you thinking about for this coming year and decade? What do you sense you need to grow in?
4. Are there any major changes coming around the bend you would like to talk about or receive prayer for?
Jan 07 2020
Rank #16: Awareness- 20/20 in 2020
Dec 31 2019
Rank #17: Love- Advent
Dec 24 2019
Rank #18: Spirit Powers
Life Group Questions:
1 Corinthians 12:4-7
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
None the scripture passages on the gifts of the Spirit instruct you on how to get the gifts of the Spirit. They assume gifts are already present. The lists aren’t exhaustive but summaries because we all bring different things to the table at different times. What scripture does communicate is the purpose of those gifts. The gifts are given for the common good. They are meant to bring us together. When unity diminishes, so do the gifts of the Spirit. When we support each other the gifts of the Spirit increase. When we show up as ourselves in who we are with the desire to lift the community the Spirit flows.
Share a time when someone showed up for you when you really needed it.
Share a time when you were able to use what was in you to lift up someone else.
What is a “gift” you have operated in frequently… or, what is a “gift” you have a desire to grow in right now?
Take some time to do a simple listening exercise. Listen to the Spirit and share what you hear or do what you feel led in.
Sep 24 2019
Rank #19: Spirit- Week 1
Life Group Launch Questions- “Spirit” Series Week 1
New wine in old wine-skins
New Testament doesn’t use the phrase “the Spirit.” It only says “Spirit.” Through this series we will be looking at the experiences people have had with “Spirit” from Biblical times to our own experiences. This will be a time to lean into what the Spirit is saying to us and wants to do through us. For some of us this is new and makes us nervous. For others we have past experiences with Spirit we will be tempted to compare our current life with. Both need to lean into what Galatians calls “Keeping in step with Spirit.” We look with hope and anticipation to Spirit to see what God has for us in this day. Look for the new thing God wants to do in and through our community this year.
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Since this is the first week. Give a bit of background to your spiritual journey. Where have you experienced Spirit in your personal life?
Is there anything about engaging more with Spirit that makes you nervous or uncomfortable? Maybe you’ve had an experience that concerns you to share?
Is there a particular area of your life that you want to see Spirit bring transformation to this year? Spiritual, relational, emotional, mental, physical, financial?
Take a moment to listen quietly to Spirit and share whatever was on your heart, body, or mind during that moment.
Sep 10 2019
Rank #20: Moral Balance- Not to Hot, Not to Cold?
Sep 03 2019