Messages

  • Brian Ashcraft (Stand Alone Message): Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    Power can force obedience, but only love can awaken love.

    Study Verses

    John 20:31, John 11:21-27, John 11:32-43

    Key Points

    • The Gospel is not the prevention of death, but the gift of life. 
    • God doesn’t always act the way we think He should.

    ENCOUNTER

    • Over the years, can you think of a time when you caught yourself saying, “God, if you would’ve _______”? What made you question what God was up to in this situation?
    • How did God use this situation to further your trust in Him as well as open your eyes towards His love for you?
    • Power can force obedience, but only love can awaken love. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?

    FORMATION

    • Read John 20:31. According to this passage, why were the Gospels written? What did the authors want their accounts of Jesus to do for those who read them?
    • Read John 11:21-27. What was Martha’s “God, if you would’ve _____” statement? How did Jesus respond to Martha’s push back? What did He want her to see and understand?
    • Read John 11:32-43. How is Jesus’ compassion displayed in this story? Why do you believe Jesus was moved to display His emotions?

    EXPRESSION

    “My faith suffers from too much freedom, to many temptations to disbelieve.  At times I want God to overwhelm me, to overcome my doubts with certainty, to give final proofs of his existence and his concern.”  Philip Yancey

    • Read the quote from Philip Yancey. What causes you, and others, to question God’s heart? What drives this doubt?
    • Where does doubt exist in your life right now? How are you processing and dealing with this doubt?
    • How can you display faith in the midst of your doubts and questions?
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  • The Norm Part 5: Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    As you understand your story within God’s story, when you share your life you share God’s story. 

    Study Verses

    Romans 1:16-17, 2 Kings 7:3-9, 1 Peter 3:15-16

    Key Points

    • People aren’t projects so don’t treat them as one.
    • Impact is about your life connecting with someone else’s. 
    • The Gospel isn’t a simple message – it’s a whole new way of thinking and living.
    • Your next step of faith is for the sake of the other steps that come after it.
    • Faith isn’t something you graduate from. God will never lead you into being independent of Him.
    • You never know how God is going to use you. We are called to plant seeds and trust God’s work.
    • People should look at our lives and wonder why we are hopeful.
    • When you share your life, you are sharing your story. 
    • God has you right where you are for a reason. 
    • You have the most influence, therefore you have the most impact. 

    ENCOUNTER

    • What makes you hesitate in sharing the Gospel, as well as your story, with others? What fuels this apprehension?
    • What is the danger in viewing people as projects? How does having this viewpoint influence your approach, motives and actions with others?
    • Who had the most impact in your faith journey? How did this individual open your eyes to the freedom the Gospel provides?

    FORMATION

    • Read Romans 1:16-17. How is the power of our story influenced by our willingness to take a step of faith? Why does our story require faith?
    • Read 2 Kings 7:3-9. How does the story of the four lepers speak to what we should do with the good news we’ve been given?
    • Read 1 Peter 3:15-16. How should the way we live our lives fuel curiosity in others? If someone were to ask you why do you have hope, how would you answer them?

    EXPRESSION

    • When people look at your life, what do they see? How does this picture make you feel?
    • God has you right where you are for a reason. If this is true, how are you making an impact in the place where you are planted?
    • Who needs to hear your story? Who are you investing in? Why does this person come to mind?
    • How has your view of the Gospel changed or been strengthened during “The Norm” series? What was the greatest insight you received? What are you going to do with what you’ve learned over the past few weeks?
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  • The Norm Part 4: Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    Ministry is when your life intersects with someone else’s needs and God moves through you. 

    Study Verses

    Mark 10:17-27, Matthew 22:36-40, James 4:13-17

    Key Points

    • Your life is your story so tell a good one.
    • We all want our life to matter and make our mark on the world. 
    • You can’t impact anyone’s life if you don’t have a relationship with them.
    • Loving God is worship. Loving others is ministry. 
    • God doesn’t need you to be something you are not. 
    • Your ministry isn’t about what you DO but who you ARE.
    • The most important moment in your life is the one you are living in right now. 
    • Focus on building God’s kingdom instead of propping up your own empire. 
    • Great stories are told through faith, obedience and sacrifice. 
    • Your ministry flows from your walk with God. 
    • It’s all about the dash. What will you do with the time you’ve been given?

    ENCOUNTER

    • Surveys show that 85% of people struggle with their calling. Why do you believe most of us experience this tension?
    • When you hear the words “calling” or “purpose” does your mind tend to gravitate towards what you DO or who you ARE?
    • How have you wrestled with understanding your life’s purpose? Over the years have you gained more or less clarity over your calling?

    FORMATION

    • Read Mark 10:17-27. Where was the rich young ruler’s security found – in what he did or who he was? How did Jesus speak to what was happening inside the rich young ruler’s heart? What was the ruler unwilling to sacrifice in order to follow Jesus?
    • Read Matthew 22:36-40. How does our ministry and the impact we have on others flow from our walk with God? Why do all the other commandments hang on our willingness to obey the command to love God and love others?
    • Read James 4:13-17. How does this passage speak to the importance of being present in every moment? In what ways is procrastination sin?

    EXPRESSION

    • Complete the sentence: The story I am telling with my life is __________. What makes you answer in the way that you do?
    • The most important moment in your life is the one you are living in.  What situations are you currently facing that you need to remind yourself to be present for? How is God crafting your story by what you are dealing with right now?
    • Your ministry flows from your walk with God. If this is the case, how would you describe the current state of your heart and connection level?
    • How can you begin to activate your impact?
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  • The Norm Part 3: Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    Instead of trying to understand Jesus through the lens of your hang ups, process your hang ups through the lens of a relationship with Christ.

    Study Verses

    Acts 15:5-19, Luke 10:38-42, 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

    Key Points

    • Let everything in your life find meaning and purpose within the context of your relationship Christ. 
    • What is normally important isn’t always what is most important. 
    • Sometimes we take the most important issue for granted by getting hung up on all the less essential concerns.
    • What matters is what keeps everything else afloat. 
    • Come to Him. Learn from Him. Walk with Him.
    • Our struggles and doubts are a normal part of our faith journey. 
    • Don’t make it difficult for people to turn to God and follow Jesus.
    • The context of the relationship changes how you think about everything else. When you come to Jesus, everything changes. 
    • Your struggle is a critical part of your story. 

    ENCOUNTER

    • What do you view as the most important parts of the Gospel message that without them its power would be lost?
    • How does one know when the issues they are hung up on are merely opinions or preferences and not essentials to the faith?
    • What are some misconceptions, opinions and preferences that inhibit people from exploring Jesus and faith further?

    FORMATION

    • Read Acts 15:5-19. What was being debated in this passage? How were some trying to overcomplicate the Christian faith? How did the apostles and elders respond to this situation?
    • Read Luke 10:38-42. In the midst of demands of life, how had Martha lost sight of what was most important? What did Jesus want her to understand?
    • Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. Why does the resurrection of Jesus serve as a fundamental issue of our faith? What happens to our faith if this claim is not true?

    EXPRESSION

    • Before coming to faith, what were your biggest hang ups and doubts about  church, the Bible, Jesus and Christianity? How did you get past and overcome these hang ups? Are there any hang ups you continue to have?
    • Over the years how have your struggles played a critical part in your own story? What have your struggles taught you about yourself as well as God?
    • In what ways are you guilty of overcomplicating your faith? How can you begin to shed some of the weight that comes with this baggage?
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  • The Norm Part 2: Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    When you identify the impact of the Gospel on your story, you’ll begin to see your story within God’s story.

    Study Verses

    Romans 3:21-24, Romans 5:18-19-23, Romans 6:19 and Luke 7:36-50

    Key Points

    • God will continue to mold and shape us until we are totally free from our rebellious ways.
    • When you feel unworthy, you will use your behavior to prove your worth. When you feel guilty, you will use your behavior to even the scales.
    • Justification is the foundation for forgiveness to be whole and complete.
    • The implications of someone having a solution means there must be a problem.
    • Everyone gets made right the same way.
    • Redemption means that everything gets used, both the good and the bad.
    • Justification (We are made RIGHT!) Sanctification (We become RIGHT!)
    • You are saved by faith, not by how sanctified you are.
    • Faith expresses itself through love. 

    ENCOUNTER

    • What makes you doubt Christ’s forgiveness for you? When this doubt creeps in, how do you tend to react to feelings of unworthiness and guilt?
    • Why is difficult for many of us to admit there is problem that we don’t have a solution for? How do pride, shame and guilt influence our approach to the Gospel?
    • Everyone gets made right the same way. Deep down inside, do you believe this is fair? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?

    FORMATION

    • Read Romans 3:21-24 and Romans 5:18-19. What does it mean that we been justified in God’s sight? How did our justification and redemption come about? If we don’t understand we are justified, what drives our motives for change and transformation?
    • Read Romans 6:19-23. In this passage, two types of slavery are mentioned (slave to sin and slave to righteousness). What are the major differences between the two? How is it possible that being a slave to righteousness leads to freedom and life? How does this passage speak to those who view walking with Christ as restrictive?
    • Read Luke 7:36-50. What did Jesus want the Pharisees to understand through the telling of this story? How is our ability to love others tied to our understanding of God’s forgiveness?  What would you say to someone who thinks their story isn’t important because they lead a “normal life” and they don’t have “much to be forgiven of”?

    EXPRESSION

    • What impact has the Gospel had on your own story? How has understanding this impact influenced your ability to see your story as part of God’s story?
    • What aspect of the Gospel are you drawn to the most (forgiveness, reconciliation, hope, freedom, etc.)? Why does this aspect speak to you?
    • What has Christ done for you? What are you going to do with what Christ has done? What would it look like to walk in the reality of what Christ has done?
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  • The Norm Part 1: Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    We might not know what is wrong, but we realize something ain’t right.

    Study Verses

    Romans 3:9-24, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Acts 11:22-26, John 7:37-38

    Key Points

    • Everything finds its meaning and purpose within the context of its relationship with God.
    • You are made by God and for God. 
    • When you share your story, you share the Gospel.
    • You shouldn’t label yourself a Christian until someone calls you one first. 
    • When something isn’t right our tendency is to deny, pretend and justify. 
    • We don’t need to justify ourselves to God because Christ has already done so.
    • No amount of good behavior is going to make us right. Don’t try to be strong in your own strength.
    • It’s a relationship, not an agreement.
    • No one is agnostic about anything important. 
    • He died and rose to destroy what separated us from life.

    ENCOUNTER

    • When do you first remember realizing that there was something wrong in this world? How did you attempt to rectify living in a broken world?
    • What does it mean to be a Christian? How did you come to this version or perspective of this word?
    • What is the normal condition of the culture we live in? How does culture define a “normal” life? Why is living for Christ seen as counterculture?

    FORMATION

    • Read Romans 3:9-24. According to this passage, what was the purpose of the law? What makes the Gospel message inclusive both in humanity’s brokenness as well as the answer to this problem?
    • Read 2 Corinthians 5:21. How does this passage sum up the Gospel message? How does Christ’s righteousness make us right with God?
    • Read Acts 11:22-26. What caused people to take notice and label every believers in Antioch as Christians? How did an encounter with God’s grace change these believers?

    EXPRESSION

    • When something isn’t right our tendency is to either deny, pretend or justify. Of the three, which one is your default reaction to your struggles?
    • Read John 7:37-38. Do you believe this type of life is possible for you? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
    • If you had to share with someone the Gospel message in one sentence, how would you do it? What does the Gospel mean to you?
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  • Double Part 4: Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    You are able to GIVE yourself when you BRING yourself.

    Study Verses

    Romans 15:1-2 (The Message), 1 Peter 1:6-7, John 15:4-5 and Psalm 57

    Key Points

    • Your integrity supports the weight of another person’s trust. 
    • Don’t promise to commit. Commit to depend. 
    • The fruit of your life is what nourishes other people. 
    • Strength is for service, not for status. 
    • Trust is the most important thing we can receive from another person so we must steward it well.
    • There is a difference between giving yourself and extending yourself. 

    ENCOUNTER

    • Your integrity supports the weight of another person’s trust. How does this statement leave you feeling (overwhelmed, nervous, excited, encouraged, etc.)? How do you deal with the pressure that comes from hearing this statement?
    • How do imperfect people walk with integrity? How would you describe “imperfect integrity”?
    • What are the major differences between a demand and a priority? What is the danger to our integrity if we don’t establish our priorities?

    FORMATION

    • Read Romans 15:1-2 (The Message). What does it mean that “our strength is for service, not status”?
    • Read 1 Peter 1:6-7 and Psalm 57. How does the way we respond to struggles and resistance prove the genuineness of our faith?
    • Read John 15:4-5. Where does our power to walk in integrity come from? What should serve as the source of our actions and words?

    EXPRESSION

    • What do you consider priorities in your life? Do your words and actions confirm that these are truly priorities?
    • Where have you extended yourself too far? Why do you feel the need to push yourself this far? How are you relying on your own strength to get things accomplished in this area?
    • Are there relationships that have been strained due to your actions or words? How can you walk in imperfect integrity and seek forgiveness and reconciliation?
    • What insights have you gained over the past four weeks in regards to integrity? Where have you been encouraged? Where have you been challenged? How can you take what you’ve learned and apply it to your life?
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  • Double Part 3: Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    Integrity allows you to bring your whole self to your whole life. 

    Study Verses

    Philippians 4:11-13, Matthew 6:31-34, John 15:4-5

    Key Points

    • Integrity requires wisdom. Wisdom brings centeredness. Centeredness brings contentment. 
    • A lack of integrity shows up in unfulfilled desires and poisonous relationships. 
    • You see what you look for. 
    • Your activities are defined by your identity rather than your identity being determined by your activities. 
    • Contentment frees you to be YOU! 
    • It’s impossible to want two competing things at the same time. Where you remain makes all the difference. 
    • God is the only one who has the strength to make your heart content. 
    • A lost soul isn’t a destination. It’s a condition. 
    • If we can’t keep up, we pretend. 
    • When you divide your life into segments, you are undoing everything integrity is trying to do.

    ENCOUNTER

    “You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe…You [are tempted to] think that you have to be someplace else or accomplish something more to find peace.  But it’s right here.  God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.” Dallas Willard

    • Read the quote from Dallas Willard. How does this quote speak to destination thinking? How does destination thinking inhibit us from walking in integrity and experiencing contentment?
    • How do you tend to react when your contentment wanes? Where do your eyes look towards when discontentment sets in?
    • What does it mean to “bring your whole self to your whole life”? Who do you know that best lives out this mindset?

    FORMATION

    • Read Philippians 4:11-13. How does one learn contentment?
    • Read Matthew 6:31-34. What happens to our integrity when we worry? What drives our worry? Do you believe God already knows all your needs? Why or why not? Does the way you live your life reflect your answer?
    • Read John 15:4-5. How is our ability to display integrity tied to our willingness to remain in Christ? How would you describe your current connection level with Him?

    EXPRESSION

    • Think of the places where you are experiencing discontentment. What seems to be fueling this tension? Why do you believe God is trying to get your attention in this circumstance? What could He be teaching you in the midst of what you are going through?
    • You are likely to see what you are looking for. If this is true, where are your eyes set? What are your eyes telling you?
    • What aspect of who you are (job, family, relationships, faith, status, hobbies, etc.) are you wrestling bringing your whole self towards? What would it look like to show up and bring wholeness to this area?
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  • Double Part 2: Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    Centeredness brings contentment.

    Study Verses

    Philippians 4:11-13, Proverbs 10:9, James 1:5-8, James 3:13-17 and Hebrews 13:5

    Key Points

    • Wisdom doesn’t reside in the heart. Wisdom forms in the heart.
    • God’s wisdom awakens us to something more than our needs and our desires. 
    • Contentment isn’t about having everything perfect, but having everything held in His hands. 
    • God will give me everything I need in order to do everything He has asked me to do.
    • Wisdom isn’t something you get. It is something that is formed. 
    • Integrity is what brings security. 
    • Doing things to escape reality undermines and erodes our integrity. 
    • Purity comes from a single source. 
    • If we harbor envy and selfish ambition, we will live our lives constantly competing and comparing ourselves to others. 
    • When contentment defines your life the only agenda in your relationships is giving yourself away and wanting the best for someone else.

    ENCOUNTER

    • Complete the following sentence: Contentment is _____________. How do you define contentment? When you think of someone who is content, what comes to mind?
    • If insecurity finds a home in our heart, we either overstate or understate ourselves. Of the two, which one do you tend to do more often?
    • How do our insecurities influence our integrity and impact our relationships with others?
    • God will give you everything you need in order to do everything He has asked you to do. Do you agree with this statement? How does your answer influence your ability to experience contentment?

    FORMATION

    • Read Philippians 4:11-13 and Hebrews 13:5. What is the secret to finding contentment? How does relying on God’s strength fuel our contentment?
    • Read Proverbs 10:9. What do you see as the connection between contentment and integrity? How does contentment allow us to walk securely and live with integrity?
    • Read James 1:5-8. What role does wisdom play in our pursuit of contentment?

    EXPRESSION

    • Read James 3:13-17. Are there places in your life where envy and selfish ambition are making an appearance? How are these qualities impacting the way you approach the people on the other side of the issue?
    • Do you like the person you’ve become? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do? How often do you give thought to the person you are becoming?
    • Where are you most prone to attempt to escape reality? Why are you trying to escape these circumstances? How is this influencing your ability to walk in integrity?
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  • Double Part 1: Study Guide

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    Bottom Line

    Integrity is centeredness.

    Study Verses

    Proverbs 10:9, James 1:5-8 and James 3:13-17

    Key Points

    • If wisdom makes you arrogant then what you have isn’t wisdom.
    • If your emotional health is dependent upon how you compare and compete with others, you will always be sick.
    • Who you are can be summed up by three things: What you think, what you feel and what you choose.
    • The opposite of integrity is being divided and double-minded. 
    • In order to get wisdom, you have to actually believe you need it in the first place.
    • Wisdom is the alignment of our heart and mind. 
    • Instead of trying to find balance in life, pursue centeredness because that is where integrity and security is found. 
    • Our compartmentalized hearts have lead to fractured souls. 
    • When you encounter God and His greatness, you’ve arrived at the starting line of wisdom.
    • We don’t tend to think about integrity until we meet someone without it.

    ENCOUNTER

    “We possess singleness when we are not pulled in opposite directions and when we act without wanting something further for ourselves. Our inner drives do not conflict; they are aimed in one direction. The motives we appear to have are the ones we actually have. Our inner focus is unified and our public posture corresponds with with. We are not, in short, divided.” Clifford Williams

    • Complete the following sentence: Integrity is ___________________. If you define integrity this way, what then is the opposite of integrity?
    • Would you say that you are a person of integrity? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
    • What is the difference between pursuing balance and pursuing centeredness? How has your pursuit of balance left you?
    • Read the quote from Clifford Williams. How does one attain or get integrity? Do you believe it is possible to get to a point where you can trust your motives? Why or why not?

    FORMATION

    • Read Proverbs 10:9. How does integrity provide the security we crave?
    • Read James 1:5-8. How can one walk with integrity when doubt exists? What does it look like to be double-minded?
    • Read James 3:13-17. What role does humility play in our pursuit of wisdom and integrity? What are the two sources of wisdom we have to choose from and how are they different from one another?

    EXPRESSION

    • Are there places in your life where you are attempting to compartmentalize your faith?
    • When someone asks“How are you?” is your answer honest or is it based off your circumstances or concealing your circumstances? If God were to ask you the same question, how would you respond?
    • If you aren’t paying attention, where do your mind naturally drift in hopes of finding security (wealth, relationships, status, work, etc.)?
    • How does competition and comparison affect how you think, what you feel and what you do? Where are you most prone to compete and compare yourself with others? What drives this insecurity?
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