LIFE group guide: it comes down to a simple choice, really

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Oct. 5) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To underscore our response to God’s calling us and the seriousness of our faith in Christ.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. (Matthew 7.24-27 NLT)

• Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand on the plow and looks back is fit for God’s kingdom.” (Luke 9.62 CEB)

• You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves. Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like. But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do. (James 1.22-25 CEB)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. Name a movie that has had a profound effect on you or share a favorite movie quote.

2. Is a person what they intend or what they do?

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Read Deut. 30.19-20 and Josh. 24.15. How do they mesh with Matt. 7.24ff and James 1.22ff?

2. Psalm 119 is a psalm of deep devotion to God. How often does it use words like “obey”?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. A person who has lost their ability to dream and build for the future has a ______ life.

2. Christ challenges us as he calls us. How does he enable us and equip us to respond?

3. What roles do our works play in our salvation? What roles do they not play?

4. How does how you see your past and future affect what you do in the present?

5. How can a disciple insure that their godly intentions and decisions become actions?

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Consciously use the word “Lord” more often. Let that focus your mind/ways to act.

2. Build a system of solid reminders and means of accountability for your intentions.

links: this went thru my mind

Christian faith, ISIS, nonviolence, violence & war: A Christian Response to ISIS [essential reading]

“…  as Christians, we should be more concerned about faithfulness not effectiveness; we need to take our marching orders from the King of Kings and Prince of Peace, and we should not be blinded to think that a destruction of our enemies through violence will actually conquer evil. And I’m certainly glad that Jesus didn’t destroy me—even though I was His enemy.”

Faith, extra-terrestrial life & religion: Are the World’s Religions Ready for E.T.?

“In 1930, Albert Einstein was … asked whether science and religion conflict. ‘Not really, though it depends, of course, on your religious views.'”

God, pain & suffering: Is Suffering Part of God’s Secret Plan?

“…  in light of God’s revelation in Christ, our assumption should be that their suffering is something we should oppose in the name of God rather than accepting it as coming from God. Hence, the only relevant question disciples of Jesus should consider is, What can we do to bring God’s redemptive will into the situation, to alleviate suffering and to glorify God? How can we respond in such a way that God’s will is further accomplished ‘on earth as it is in heaven’? Instead of asking ‘Who sinned?’ we should ask, ‘How can we bring glory to God in this situation?’ (John 9:1-3).”

Koch Industries, politics & pollution: * Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire; * Response to Rolling Stone Story; * Koch Industries Responds to Rolling Stone – And We Answer Back

“The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House.”

Parenting, privacy, social media, social networking & youth: 5 Social Networks You Don’t Know the Kids are Using

“The ones I’m going to talk about are ones the kids in your life probably know. However, they aren’t that kid-friendly, which means you need to know about them, too. You especially need to know the last one because you don’t want kids using it at all.”

links: this went thru my mind

Certainty & faith: When Certainty Kills [essential reading]

“Is it possible that certainty itself has become God for many Christians? Our worship of certainty may be tantamount to idolatry.”

Children, parenting & technology: Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent

“’So, your kids must love the iPad?’ I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. ‘They haven’t used it,’ he told me. ‘We limit how much technology our kids use at home.’”

Christianity & ISIS: ISIS vs the Way of Jesus

“… I’m not a politician. I’m a private citizen and a follower of Jesus who has spent 32 years in the Middle East. I speak Arabic. I’ve met personally with the leaders of Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Bin Laden family.”

Desperation, hunger & spiritual need: This Common Ingredient in the Gospel Narratives May be the Missing Ingredient in Many Churches

“Whether we feel it or not and whether we realize it or not the same is true for us – we are desperate for Jesus. We just need to realize it. We need to reclaim it. … What will it take for us to become desperate for God again?”

Family: The ‘Leave It to Beaver’ Family Has Been Left Behind

“While in 1960, 65 percent of children lived with families in which the parents were married and the father was the sole breadwinner, only 22 percent of children lived in this setup in 2012. Children now are more likely to live in a single-mother household (23 percent), while a plurality (34 percent) live in families where parents are married and both work.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Apologies, communication, deception, forgiveness, manipulation & relationships: How to Spot a Fake Apology [required reading]

“Of all the keys to healthy relationships—whether with friends, family or significant others—perhaps the most important is knowing when and how to ask for forgiveness.”

Culture & faith: Why Christians Must Give Up the Fight

“Some churches and Christians feel so attacked by the non-Christian culture that their natural response is to fight. They fight Hollywood because of its movies. They fight Nashville because of its music. They fight Washington because of its laws. The hope is for the church to regain power. They respond in way that says, ‘I will fight against you.'”

Denominations, division & tribes: 5 Dangers of Tribalism

“There’s an ever-growing number of tribes in the church. Denominations, coalitions, and networks all serve as tribes within the Tribe of Christian faith. These tribes we participate in each play a vital role in connecting us to one another and catalyzing us for mission. Despite their many benefits, our tribalism is not without inherent dangers.”

Hell: 5 Reasons Why More Christians Are Rejecting The Traditional View of Hell

“As more and more Christians return home to a radical faith centered squarely on Jesus, we will continue to see a growing number of bible believing, soundly orthodox Christians, reject the evangelical concept of ‘eternal, conscious torment.’ This should be viewed as a beautiful thing, not a travesty, as we rediscover that God actually is altogether wonderful, altogether lovely, and altogether like Jesus.”

Humility & time: The PaleoClock

“We’d have to live for hundreds of thousands of years to detect any movement at all.”

Israel & Palestinians: Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes [32 min. video; required listening]

“In his latest book, Faith in the Face of Empire, Mitri Raheb, presents a new reading of the Bible from the perspective of the people of Palestine.’ In light of the current geo-political turmoil, after the hopes of the Arab Spring, and in the face of the latest round of US shuttle diplomacy, Raheb asks, ‘Can we imagine another Middle East? Can there be a different future?'”

Marriage: Making Your Marriage More Important Than Your Kids

“… to keep your marriage happy and healthy, you’re going to have to be willing to invest time in it.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Attitude, life, outlook & perspective: How to View the Struggles of Your Day

“In every situation, we can choose to think higher. We are not to live in denial of the rugged nor insulting terrain. Rather, we are to set our minds upon the many more elements that are going right.  In every case (note: every), conditions could be much worse; but they are not. I’ve encountered brutal take your breath away kinds of days. By His clear call, I have understood that even these could be worse.  Leading my mind to think upon the many issues going well has allowed God the room to prove His above point. Peace that cannot be explained … arrives.”

Change, fear, generations & the Holy Spirit: Why are We So Afraid of Change?

“Fear isn’t to be the church gauge. Trust in the Spirit is. Change is an ever-present trait of the Holy Spirit of God. Each generation needs to remember this as we strive to move forward in the most exciting kingdom ever!”

Communication, leadership, problems & relationships: A Culturally Intelligent Way of Handling the Elephant in the Room

“I’ve always been a fan of directly addressing the elephant in the room. I don’t enjoy conflict but I loathe avoiding it even more.”

Depression & mental illness: * Five Common Myths About Depression; * Mental Illness & The Church: An Interview with Amy Simpson

* “1. Depression is synonymous with sadness. … 2. Depression is a sign of mental weakness. … 3. Depression is always situational. … 4. Depression symptoms are all in your head. … 5. If you are diagnosed with depression, you’ll be on antidepressants the rest of your life.”

* “One of the most painful elements of mental illness is that it’s marked by isolation, which is exactly the opposite of what people need. Everybody needs community and loving friendship and a place where they belong. And one of the things people with mental illness most need is for this kind of loving community to tighten around them, not to loosen. This is one of the things the church can provide.”

Discipleship & faith: Kent Brantley: Every Now and Then a Disciple Breaks Outs

“Who says that kind of thing in that moment?”