Messages

  • Wilderness (Part 2): Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    Don’t stop short and give in. Draw a line and declare it over.

    Study Verses

    Luke 4:1-12, 1 Peter 4:1-3, Romans 5:2-5, 1 Corinthians 10:13

    Key Points

    • Temptation ends either by indulgence or resistance.
    • Drift is the natural direction of your thoughts, attitudes, choices and actions.
    • Our greatest vulnerability resides in the place between our desires and His provision.
    • When our faith wanes, we depend on our strength.
    • Focus is required in order to deal with the drift. 
    • We tend to define God’s faithfulness by how He gets us OUT. But, His faithfulness is found when we depend on Him to get us THROUGH.
    • Instead of looking for Him to prove His faithfulness, we need to learn to depend on it.
    • God’s faithfulness is not determined by the level of temptation you face.
    • We resist being dependent upon anything other than ourselves.
    • We cannot live under chronic, continual temptation.
    • To obsess about clarity will paralyze you.

    ENCOUNTER

    • What does it look like to display enduring dependence when faced with temptation?
    • What make us most vulnerable to temptation in the place between our desires and God’s provision?
    • What are some warning signs that you are trusting in your own strength to conquer and deal with temptation?

    FORMATION

    • Read Luke 4:1-12. How did the enemy try to tempt Jesus to rely on His own strength and desires? 
    • Read 1 Peter 4:1-3 and Romans 5:2-5. What connection does perseverance and faith have to one another?
    • Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. When faced with temptation, where is God’s faithfulness found: how He gets us out or depending on Him to get us through it?

    EXPRESSION

    • What direction do your thoughts, attitudes, choices and actions head toward when left on their own? How would you describe your “drift”? 
    • Where is focus required to deal with the drift?
    • What situations are you facing where you are tempted to stop short and give in to temptation? How can you draw a line and declare it over? 

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  • Wilderness (Part 1): Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    The heart of temptation is trust. 

    Study Verses

    Luke 4:1-12

    Key Points

    • Every temptation questions our identity as well as His goodness.
    • The wilderness feels God forsaken, but the wilderness is God ordained.
    • If you are different around different people, there’s a temptation problem in your life going unadressed.
    • Temptation always works to disintegrate.
    • Resistance builds strength.
    • Sin breaks trust.
    • Self-control is a lost art in our culture.
    • Temptation is a byproduct of love because love requires the option for it to be rejected.
    • With every temptation, there is always more at stake than we think.
    • Temptation has us questioning God’s goodness by putting us in the center.
    • Obedience comes through testing.

    ENCOUNTER

    • What emotions and thoughts are you bringing with you as we begin a 4-week journey exploring how to deal with temptation?
    • What does it mean that temptation is a byproduct of love? How does testing reveal what we value and whom we trust?
    • In what ways does temptation work to disintegrate? How does it tear our heart apart?
    • God is a God who tests. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? 

    FORMATION

    • Read Luke 4:1-4. What did the devil want Jesus to focus on during this first temptation? What happens to our legacy when our cares are focused solely on our immediate needs? 
    • Read Luke 4:5-8. What is at the heart of this second temptation? How dangerous is it to live a life of shortcuts? 
    • Read Luke 4: 9-12. How did the enemy utilize Scripture to attempt to confuse and entice Jesus? How did Jesus respond to every temptation He faced? What insight should that provide us in a tool we can use to resist the enemy? 

    EXPRESSION

    • While in the wilderness, Jesus faced three temptations: (1) Seeking God’s provision in His strength (2) Placing His image above God’s image  (3) Using God for personal gain. Of these three temptations, which one do you struggle with the most and why?
    • Think of where you are facing temptation. How is this struggle causing you to question your identity and God’s goodness?
    • Where do you feel like wandering? How did you arrive in this place of wilderness? What is the thing you want or need the most? 
    • What are some tangible ways you can trust God’s purpose and provision? 

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  • Make You Like Me (Part 4): Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    My demand to make you like me becomes my prayer to make me like you. 

    Study Verses

    1 John 4:11-12, 1 Peter 4:8, James 5:20

    Key Points

    • When love is misused and misunderstood, love becomes conditional and concessionary.
    • Every deficiency we have will be demanded from others, unless we know God.
    • Only love can bear the weight of confession and forgiveness.
    • Love breathes life into the very thing that brings death. 
    • Love connects and restores things that are pulled apart and decaying under the power of separation.
    • Detachment is more than being disconnected. It causes us to be demanding.
    • Validation makes my worth dependent on my performance. My demand becomes affirmation.
    • Isolation makes my worth dependent on my self-worth. My demand becomes punishment.
    • Being co-dependent makes my worth dependent on other’s opinions. My demand becomes the need to be needed.

    ENCOUNTER

    • How does one know whether they’ve placed demands on their relationships? What are some warning signs that should alert someone that this has taken place? 
    • What fears do people have in extending love and grace to others (get taken advantage of, love not returned, excuse people’s behavior, etc.)? 
    • How are our relationships influenced when we feel deficient? 
    • What happens to love when it is misused and misunderstood? In what ways does it become conditional and concessionary? 

    FORMATION

    • Read 1 John 4:11-12. What do people see when they witness redemptive love taking place in human relationships? 
    • Read 1 Peter 4:8 and James 5:20. How does love cover a multitude of sins? How does one love another person without condoning or excusing bad behavior?

    EXPRESSION

    • What demands do you have to let go of in your relationships? 
    • How can love breathe life into a relationship of yours that’s been dead for awhile? What would it look like for love to reconnect and restore this connection? 
    • Over the course of this series, how has your perspective on your connections with others been influenced? What was the greatest insight you had and how are you going to put this truth into practice?

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  • Make You Like Me (Part 3): Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    Love perseveres by being stronger than our emotions and our circumstances.

    Study Verses

    1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Philippians 1:3-6

    Key Points

    • Love can’t protect what isn’t available for protection.
    • We are made to receive love which means we are always looking for it.
    • Four Relationship Quadrants: (1) Validation (2) Isolation (3) Co-Dependency (4) True Connection 
    • We often settle for attention as a cheap substitute for worth.
    • We are a chronic culture of takers.
    • You can’t wait until you feel completely worthy to ever avail yourself.
    • We are loved by God and free to love other people.
    • Our ability to receive God’s love always manifests itself in extending ourselves to others.
    • Love trusts the process of transformation and growth.
    • Vulnerability is not just for you. Your vulnerability contributes to other people.

    ENCOUNTER

    • Over the years what are some places that you’ve looked to in order to find your worth and value? What made these things appealing to you? 
    • How does seeking our value and worth in our relationships often influence the way we approach our connections with others? 
    • In what ways do you attempt to manipulate, demand or take love from others in order to feel valued, worthy and secure? 

    FORMATION

    • Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. What aspect of God’s love do you need to experience in deeper ways? How could looking to Him to fulfill this need influence your relationships with others?
    • Read Philippians 1:3-6. What does it mean that love trusts the process of transformation and growth? 

    EXPRESSION

    • Which of the four corners (validation, isolation, co-dependence or connection) do your relationships tend to reside in? Why do you often take up residency in this spot?
    • Think about the people you care about the most. Which relationship quadrant do they reside in? How can you begin to have conversations with them about your self-assessment as well as where you see them?
    • What keeps you from true connection with others? What are you afraid of?
    • Love can’t protect what isn’t available for protection. What part of your heart do you keep off guard from God and others? Why do you keep this off-limits? What would it look for God to protect your heart in this are?

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  • Make You Like Me (Part 2): Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

     Our capacity to give love to others hinges on our capacity to receive God’s love for ourselves. 

    Study Verses

    1 Corinthians 13:4-8, John 17:20-21, 1 John 4:7-11

    Key Points

    • The foundation of a relational framework is trust. Unfortunately, due to sin, our capacity to trust without hesitation is broken. 
    • We must feel safe enough to allow ourselves to be seen, known and still loved.  
    • We don’t become ourselves by advancing ourselves at the expense of others. We become ourselves by denying ourselves and embracing a different way.
    • We don’t listen, we filter. 
    • In any given relationship, there are competing agendas.
    • Our relationships will only grow as deep as we are willing to avail ourselves.
    • Concealment chokes out a relationship. Withholding and avoidance undermines intimacy. 
    • Intimacy isn’t the absence of conflict, but rather provides a safe place to resolve it.
    • You have to risk the fear of being rejected in order to be loved.

    ENCOUNTER

    “We trust no one, and our deepest inclination is to seize from life what we need while protecting ourselves from its disappointments and threats.” Larry Crabb

    • Read the quote from Larry Crabb. How have you witnessed the truth from this quote play out in your own life as well as those around you? 
    • Why do you believe trust is in short-supply in our culture? What connection does safety play in our ability to trust others? 
    • In any given relationship, there are competing agendas. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What types of agendas can people bring into their relationships with others?

    FORMATION

    • Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. How do the qualities of love described in this passage counteract the notion that love should be easy? Of the characteristics listed, which one is hardest for you to display and why?
    • Read John 17:20-21. How is becoming our true self tied to the way we approach our relationships and connections with others? 
    • Read 1 John 4:7-11. What serves as our source to give and receive love from others? 

    EXPRESSION

    “Our determination to fully trust no one must die and an eager willingness to receive what is best from others and to give what is best from within ourselves must take its place.” -Larry Crabb

    • Read the quote from Larry Crabb. In what relationship(s), does your determination to fully trust no one have to die? What makes you hesitant to receive and give love to this individual? 
    • Would you say you are more a people presser (marked by tension and pressure) or a people pleaser (marked by shared misery and avoidance of discomfort)? 
    • What agenda do you tend to bring towards your connections with others? Why do you approach your relationships in this way?  
    • Concealment chokes out a relationship. What situations are you allowing to remain hidden and off-limits to others? What would it look like to avail yourself to others and bring these areas to light?

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  • Make You Like Me (Part 1): Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    Relationships are the FRAMEWORK through which LOVE gets EXPRESSED and EXPERIENCED.

    Study Verses

    Ephesians 4:13, John 17:20-23, John 13:34-35, 1 John 4:8

    Key Points

    • We want people to BE LIKE US and we want people to LIKE US.
    • When I can’t MAKE YOU LIKE ME, I will DIMINISH you and work to DISMISS you.
    • Intimacy requires AWARENESS. You can’t SHARE if you’re not AWARE.
    • Intimacy is simply a SHARED EXPERIENCE.
    • Intimacy needs the SAFETY of LOVE. LOVE makes INTIMACY possible.
    • We are built to RECEIVE love as well as created to GIVE it away. 
    • Love is exchanged through a RELATIONSHIP.
    • Love is a force that breathes VALUE and WORTH into another. 
    • Deeper CONNECTIONS create deeper INTIMACY.
    • We love when we GIVE ourselves away for the GOOD of another.
    • To be LOVED is RECEIVING good for ourselves without TRYING to EARN it.

    ENCOUNTER

    • What is the purpose of a relationship? Why did God create and design relationships? 
    • As a society, do you believe we are becoming more or less connected to each other? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
    • MAKE YOU LIKE ME. How do you hear this statement? When it comes to your connections with others, which one do you struggle with the most: wanting people to be like you or wanting people to like you?
    • What drives our desire to make people like us (seeking approval and fighting for conformity)? 

    FORMATION

    • Read Ephesians 4:13. What insight does this passage provide in regard to the purpose of our relationships? How does our willingness to pursue connections with others influence our faith and overall impact as a church?
    • Read John 17:20-23.  Of all the issues Jesus could’ve prayed for, why do you believe He centered His prayer for the church on oneness and unity? 
    • Read John 13:34-35 and 1 John 4:8. How should the way we treat our relationships cause the world to take notice?

    EXPRESSION

    • What is the greatest tension you tend to experience in your relationships with others? Why do you believe this tension continues to pop up?
    • Intimacy requires awareness. You can’t share if you’re not aware. How would you describe your level of awareness when it comes to yourself as well as your connections with others?
    • How well are you known? Who knows the real you? 
    • How well do you allow yourself to be known? What encourages you to be seen and what causes you to be guarded and hide?

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  • Invitation To Imagine (Part 4): Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    Obedience becomes worship when we see His will is worthy of mine.

    Study Verses

    John 14:15, 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, Romans 6:16-18, Romans 12:1-2

    Key Points

    • The TRUTH is the foundation for all TRUST and therefore the HOPE of all RELATIONSHIPS. 
    • When we obey the TRUTH because we TRUST His HEART, obedience becomes a RESPONSE to WORTH.
    • Worship is simply our RESPONSE to something as WORTHY.
    • OBEDIENCE is about something more than COMPLIANCE. It’s centered on a RELATIONSHIP built on TRUST.
    • God’s will isn’t about what we ACCOMPLISH, but rather how we LIVE.
    • God’s will is about entering into a way of life that HONORS Him. 
    • Truth is RELATIONAL.
    • If we remove TRUTH from TRUST, we REDUCE it.
    • God’s Word is the EMBODIMENT of GOD’S FULLNESS and the FORCE behind CREATION.
    • We work to understand not the RULES, but the RELATIONSHIP.

    ENCOUNTER

    • Read John 14:15. What are different ways people can view Jesus in response to His “if…then” words in this passage?
    • What’s the difference in mindset and attitude between obeying out of compliance and obligation versus obedience fueled by trust?
    • How does understanding the relationship we have with Christ influence the way we approach the commands/rules He’s put into place?

    FORMATION

    • Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-10. What does it mean that truth is relational? What happens to the truth when we remove our trust from it?
    • Read Romans 6:16-18. What are the two ways of living described in this passage?
    • Read Romans 12:1-2. In what ways does our obedience to something display our allegiance to that person or thing? What does it mean to offer our bodies as a “living sacrifice”? How is obedience worship?

    EXPRESSION

    • Where are you obeying out of compliance and obligation rather than trust? What is causing this reaction?
    • Keep thinking about the situation above. If truth is relational, how has your struggle influenced your perspective and approach to God? How do you think He feels about you viewing Him in this way?
    • How can you begin to see your obedience as an act of worship in this area?
    • What is the greatest insight you’ve received from the past four weeks of the “Invitation To Imagine” series? How can you apply this truth to further your walk with Christ and pursuit of Him?

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  • Invitation To Imagine (Part 3): Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    Choose His presence more than His direction. 

    Study Verses

    John 1:14-16, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Hebrews 7:18-19, Proverbs 26:12, Isaiah 5:21, Exodus 33:1-3, Exodus 33:12-15, Proverbs 3:5-6

    Key Points

    • Love isn’t something God does because it’s what He likes to do; love is something God does because it’s His essence. 
    • God created us in His image. We begin to recognize what we were designed for when we understand His heart and character.  
    • We try to reduce understanding to its lowest common denominator and from our limited perspective. 
    • The law can either be kept or broken. A relationship is either accepted or rejected.
    • God isn’t interested in your obedience out of obligation. He wants you to draw near to Him through a relationship built on trust.  
    • There’s a difference between grabbing the truth and receiving God’s grace.
    • Obedience only comes when we realize that God is worthy of our worship. 
    • The posture of receiving grace is open hands. Grace is the way that love gets received.
    • Truth is designed to be the foundation of trust and the hope of a relationship.

    ENCOUNTER

    • What fuels true obedience? How does one know whether they are obeying out of obligation or trust?
    • What’s the difference between grabbing the truth and receiving God’s grace?
    • What does it mean that grace is the way that love gets received?
    • What is more important to you: God’s presence or His direction?

    FORMATION

    • Read Hebrews 7:18-19. What provides us confidence in a better hope than the law could ever provide us?
    • Read John 1:14-16. Why does our invitation to imagine God’s heart and character hinge on our perspective of Christ?
    • Read Proverbs 26:12 and Isaiah 5:21. What’s the danger in being “wise in your own eyes”?  What happens to our heart when we only view things from our limited perspective?
    • Read 2 Corinthians 5:7. What happens to our understanding and our quest to control when we walk by faith?
    • Read Exodus 33:1-3 and Exodus 33:12-15. How does Moses’s story highlight the importance of choosing God’s presence more than His direction?

    EXPRESSION

    • Read Proverbs 3:5-6. Where are you leaning on your own understanding? Why are you responding to your circumstances in this way? How would seeking His presence rather than His direction influence your approach to this situation?
    • The posture of receiving grace is open hands. Where do you have clenched fists? What would it look like to open your hands up and receive grace in this area?

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  • Invitation To Imagine (Part 2): Study Guide

    By in Messages, Resources on

    Bottom Line

    Worship engages our heart, our mind and our body. 

    Study Verses

    1 Corinthians 2:9-10, John 1:14-16, Hebrews 7:18-19, Isaiah 64:3-5, Isaiah 66:2-3

    Key Points

    • We are looking to understand what God reveals, not merely what we observe.
    • Truth without grace crushes.
    • When truth is misused, relationships change. 
    • To offer grace under the law destroys truth.
    • Worship is evidence of understanding.
    • The mind is given to awaken the heart.
    • We engage our hearts by using our minds.
    • Worship creates space for perspective.
    • When we understand what we’ve received the response is to worship.
    • We have to position ourselves to see differently or we’re going to filter and edit and see what we have always believed. 
    • Truth is required for grace to exist.

    ENCOUNTER

    • Describe your picture: what would a god who is worthy of your worship look like? What about their character would compel you to worship and praise them?
    • Throughout the years, how have you experienced the tension between grace and the law? How has this tension influenced your perspective of God?
    • What does it mean that grace and truth make up the fullness of God’s expression of love?
    • How can thinking critically about God awaken our heart to worship? How does worship create space for perspective?

    FORMATION

    • Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-10. What is the difference between looking to understand what God reveals rather than what we merely observe?
    • Read Isaiah 64:3-5 and Isaiah 66:2-3. In this passage a simple, yet profound question is asked: how then can we be saved? How have we attempted to answer this question by using our limited knowledge and understanding?
    • Read John 1:14-16 and Hebrews 7:18-19. How did Jesus serve as a game changer when it came to understanding God’s heart as well as our relationship to the law and grace? How did He usher in a new way of connecting to God?

    EXPRESSION

    • What situations are you facing where you need to worship to gain perspective? What would you be declaring by pausing and deciding to worship as a response to these circumstances?
    • In what ways do you find yourself interacting with God based on the old law and it’s “give and take,” performance mindset? On the other end of the spectrum, where have you become loose with the truth and cheapened grace?
    • When we understand what we’ve received (in Christ) the response is to worship. If this is the case, articulate exactly what you’ve received through what Christ did on the cross. How does it serve as the greatest expression of God’s love?

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  • Invitation To Imagine (Part 1): Study Guide

    By in Messages, Resources on

    Bottom Line

    If you make understanding and explaining matter too much, you’ll miss the thing your heart has been searching for.

    Study Verses

    1 Corinthians 2:6-10, John 1:14-16, Psalm 34:3

    Key Points

    • Everyone has thoughts about God and what He should do. 
    • We imagine God in the image of what we worship.
    • The ways of God run against the wisdom of the world in which we live.
    • Grace always expands and makes us see more. 
    • We believe the best way to understand is to reduce. We love to break complex things down into their parts. 
    • We attempt to understand in order to explain. We like truth because we can break it down into parts and explain it. 
    • Jesus frames our thinking and serves as our beginning in understanding God’s character, nature, and heart. 
    • Jesus is full of grace and truth. From Christ’s fullness, we receive grace upon grace. 
    • We don’t understand God by breaking down principles and doctrines, but by looking up and having our eyes expanded.

    ENCOUNTER

    “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important about us.” A.W. Tozer

    • Read the quote from A.W. Tozer. Do you agree with this quote? Why or why not? How does our picture of God influence our actions, words, emotions, and sense of identity?
    • Fill in the blank: God is __________. What makes you answer in the way that you do?
    • Over the years how has your view of God developed and changed?

    FORMATION

    • Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-10. What does God reveal to us about Himself over time? What are “the things” that the author is talking about in verse 10? How do the ways of God and His wisdom run against the wisdom of the world we live in?
    • Read John 1:14-16. How does the life of Jesus serve as our best way to understand God’s character, nature, and heart? What do we receive by comprehending and trusting in Christ’s fullness?
    • Read Psalm 34:3. How does the verse serve as an invitation to imagine and see God in a different light and from a different perspective?

    EXPRESSION

    • When you think of God, what is the default emotion (shame, guilt, hope, love, fear, etc.) you experience? Why do you feel this way towards God? How do you think He feels about the way you feel about Him?
    • How willing are you to take a step back and examine your picture of God?
    • What would it look like for God to reintroduce Himself to you? Where do you need to see Him with fresh eyes?

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