links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Achievement, expectations, humility, service, success & the will of God: God’s Not Looking for Heroes

“We don’t all need to be heroes. Jesus is the Hero. The Hero came 2000 years ago. So He’s already the Hero. He’s not looking for heroes, He’s looking for co-laborers. The challenge is, most people want to be co-stars, not co-laborers. If you actually understood what it was to be a co-laborer, you could labor wherever you are.”

America, culture, individualism, materialism, nationalism, patriotism, values & war: American Values Are Not Necessarily Christian Values

“… [there can be] no excuse for conflating country and church. We can appreciate and even respect the nation in which we reside, but we must not forget that our status is as foreigner and exiles. (1 Peter 2:11)”

American Sniper, cinema, deception, distortion, evil, film, movies & payback: Clint Eastwood’s Sniper, and the American Messiah [essential reading]

“This is the problem with the white-hat black-hat narrative of Hollywood: when ‘they’ do what ‘we’ do (though ‘they,’ of course, poor saps, are just not as efficient in their killing as ‘we’ are) it is evil, but when Americans do it, it is heroic. Eastwood’s Kyle insists he is doing what he does because he does not want terrorists in our neighborhoods here. Yet he participates in the invasion of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11; a country who was headed by, no doubt, a despot but a despot who had furthered his hold on power by the support of our own country; and when those people fight back because they don’t want foreign invaders in their streets, it’s ‘evil’ like Eastwood’s Kyle has never yet imagined.”

Anger, bitterness, forgiveness, hatred & resentment: A Holocaust Survivor, Spared From Gas Chamber By Twist Of Fate

“Anger doesn’t get you anyplace. Hate doesn’t get you anyplace.”

Attention span, authority, church, commitment, Facebook & social media: 5 Ways Facebook May be Harming Your Church

“What effect does ‘social media’ technology have on the way we view church? What effect does it have on the way we conceive of life in the body of Christ?”

LIFE group discussion guide: serve!

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NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Jan. 25) 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 declare our need to spend our lives actively serving God, and to urge us to do so.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• … servants of the word … (Luke 1.2 CEB)

• … Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant.” (Luke 1.38 CEB)

• He has granted that we would be rescued … so that we could serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live. (Luke 1.73-75 CEB)

• You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him. … You cannot serve God and wealth. (Luke 4.8; 16.13 CEB)

• … do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act … (Luke 6.35 CEB)

• That servant who knew his master’s will but didn’t prepare for it or act on it will be beaten severely. (Luke 12.47 CEB)

• … when you have done everything required of you, you should say, “We servants deserve no special praise. We have only done our duty.” (Luke 17.10 CEB)

• … the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. (Luke 22.26 CEB)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump for group conversation.

1. Think employment and job roles. Which ones strike you as “servant-type” jobs?

2. What is the biggest hurdle to your seeing yourself as truly a “servant of God?”

Research

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

1. Find and count every occurrence of some form of the word “serve” in Luke’s Gospel.

2. Read Luke 6.35 above. Reflect on it. Then read its context (vs.27-38). Thoughts?

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.

1. How does the word “servant” hit you? Positive or negative? Respectable or humble?

2. Would it truly be best to live tomorrow like it was literally your last day to live?

3. “The good is the enemy of the best.” Is this true? Does this sound like Jesus?

4. We’re saved by God’s mercy thru Christ on his cross. What role do our works play?

5. Which matters most in the long run in serving God: “big things” or “little” ones?”

Response

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

1. Discipline and exercise yourself in a “I expect nothing in return” attitude and air.

2. Habitually give words and actions of appreciation to any you see “doing good.”

LIFE group guide: be humble

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Dec. 8). This guide will enable your follow-up of the morning sermon.

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 the sermon series, or this particular sermon in a series.

To call our attention, and our conscience, to some of our Lord’s direct charges to us.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of the sermon. Underscored words are emphasized in the Greek text.

• Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 18.12)

• The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23.11-12)

• “But look! My betrayer is with me; his hand is on this table. The Human One goes just as it has been determined. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays him.” They began to argue among themselves about which of them it could possibly be who would do this. An argument broke out among the disciples over which one of them should be regarded as the greatest. But Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles rule over their subjects, and those in authority over them are called ‘friends of the people.’ But that’s not the way it will be with you. Instead, the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isn’t it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22.21-27)

• … being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2.8)

• … all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Peter 5.4b-6)

Relation

These icebreaker questions are meant to help us all just start thinking, talking, and relating to the topic or texts. Discuss one.

1. Who is a humble cartoon character that comes to mind? A proud one?

2. How does it make you feel, or what is stirred within you, when you witness humility?

Research

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

1. Matthew (26.20-35) and Mark (14.17-31) conspicuously leave out of their accounts of the Last Supper two matters Luke includes at length (22.14-38). What two matters?

2. What specific age group did Peter have in view when he penned 1 Peter 5.4-6?

Reflection

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. What does Christianity look like without humility?

2. Is it possible to be humble without living as a servant? Without humiliation? Explain.

3. How exactly does a Christian avoid becoming proud or living in prideful ways?

4. Like contentment, humility is learned. What can a believer do to learn humility?

5. Respect your limits, but do not devalue yourself/short-sell your abilities. Thoughts?

Response

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

1. Live one day with this thought foremost in mind: “I am here to serve others.” Repeat.

2. Resurrect a servant-habit you’ve “retired” from. Serve in a way you never have before.

people of God; people of the book

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (March 3). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning. This sermon is entitled People of God; People of the Book. The manuscript for this sermon will appear in a post tomorrow morning. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To declare our faith in the God who provides us with what we need to grow up in him.

Word

He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part. (Ephesians 4.11-16)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Tell us of a time you were tricked or misled. It can be humorous, serious or whatever.

2. Tell us of someone(s) who powerfully helped you mature in life. What did they do?

3. Complete this sentence: “I sense that I’m growing as a person whenever I ________.”

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Where do apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers come from? (vs. 11)

2. Why did God give us apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers? (vs. 12)

3. How long did Paul perceive God’s provision of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers would last? (vs. 13a)

4. How is “unity of faith” and “knowledge of God’s Son” related to each other? (vs. 13a)

5. What is our goal in growth and with what instrument do we measure such (vs. 13b)?

6. Who is vulnerable to misleading and false teaching? (vs. 14)

7. Where does true spiritual growth come from and where does it lead (vs. 15b-16a)?

8. How does Christ’s body, the people of God, grow? (vs. 15-16)

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. In light of vs. 11, what is job #1 for all who seek to serve and build up Christ’s body?

2. All of the roles listed in vs. 11 involve sharing God’s word. How does this understanding color all of what follows (vs. 12-16)?

3. Why is deep sincerity alone inadequate to grow in God, and “the truth,” a necessity?

4. Tell us of a time when you, due to spiritual immaturity, believed something untrue about serving Christ. What helped you escape that point of false faith?

5. What happens to a body of believers when not every part “does their part?”

6. Someone asks you: “How can I discover my role in Christ’s body?” What do you say?

7. Who gives spiritual growth to God’s people? Let this text’s words shape your answer.

8. What good do you see in the lives of folks who are on a trajectory of spiritual growth?

this went thru my mind

 

Compassion, illness, prayer & service: Jesus My Patient [required reading]

“A prayer from Mother Teresa and used by her Sisters of Charity in their care for the sick, poor, and dying …”

Creation & faith: Seeing God in the Stars

“Dr. Jennifer Wiseman is an astronomer, author, and speaker. … As senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, she studies star-forming regions of our galaxy using radio, optical, and infrared telescopes. As director of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, she helps improve communication between scientists and faith communities.”

Immigration & the poor: Do Illegal Immigrants Actually Hurt the U.S. Economy?

“Illegal immigration does have some undeniably negative economic effects. … Labor economists have concluded that undocumented workers have lowered the wages of U.S. adults without a high-school diploma — 25 million of them — by anywhere between 0.4 to 7.4 percent. The impact on everyone else, though, is surprisingly positive.”

National debt: Our Debt, Ourselves

“I want to present a calmer view, by emphasizing six facts about the debt that many Americans may not be aware of.”

Shane Claiborne: Ask Shane Claiborne … (Response) [essential reading]

“… non-violence doesn’t mean getting stepped-on. The call to non-violence is to disarm violence. A part of the way we do that is suffering with those who suffer.”