We are free from trying to change our past when we understand His promise to redeem it.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:4-5, James 5:16, John 4:1-42
- Our past can infiltrate our present and influence our future.
- Past experiences can get in the way of what God intended: change.
- We hide from our past because of shame, judgment, and disappointment.
- For God to transform our character He must have access to “all of us”, including our past and our future.
- We must learn from our past…not be defined by it.
- If we allow our past experiences to define our future, our future will look no different than our past.
- We must review our past experiences looking for God’s presence instead of using it to build a case for not moving forward.
- God uses us as instruments in the lives of others. God chooses us despite our past.
- God can take any brokenness and turn it into a perfect picture of His love.
- God can take any brokenness and turn it into a perfect picture of His love. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do? How does your answer influence what you do with your own brokenness?
- Over the years, how have you lived your life in the rear view mirror? In what ways has your past influenced your present and future?
- What does it mean that God redeems our past? What do we get wrong when it comes to understanding redemption?
- Read John 4:1-42. What can we learn about God’s heart and concern for our past by the way Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman? Why do you believe God choose this woman to make a difference in her own community?
- Read James 5:16. What role does community play in helping to heal and process our brokenness and the scars of the past?
- Read Ephesians 2:4-5 and 2 Corinthians 5:17. What happens to our identity, as well as our past, when we encounter and accept Christ’s love? What freedom does Christ provide in dealing with the scars of our past?
- What scars of the past still sting and are holding you back from walking in freedom? What makes them so painful? How have you allowed these scars to define you?
- What would it look like for God to free you from your past?
- How can your past empower God’s story and give other people hope? How can you turn your scars into stories of hope and redemption?
God’s plan for your life is peace, rest, and joy.
1 John 4:14-18, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 118:6, Luke 12:4-7, John 14:25-27, Romans 8:14-17
- We hold on to what we feel is comfortable, not realizing that what we’re grasping onto is fear.
- Self-examination doesn’t stop at the first layer. We must dig deeper to uncover what drives our fear.
- Trusting God involves encountering uncomfortable situations.
- We struggle with fear because we don’t necessarily believe God is God.
- Real belief is when our knowledge turns into action.
- Fear causes us to isolate, take control, and protect ourselves.
- Fear paralyses us while caution moves us…it just moves with caution.
- We get to choose between trusting God with our fears or having our life run by them.
- When we choose fear, we make a decision that we are safer relying on our own understanding and abilities than trusting God.
- Fear is the belief that God does not exist. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- What is the difference between fear and caution in terms of movement and taking steps of faith?
- What does choosing comfort and convenience have in common with holding on to our fears?
- Describe a time where you second guessed what God was doing in your life. What made you doubt His heart and presence?
- Read 1 John 4:14-18. What does it mean to “acknowledge God”? How should our acknowledgement lead to reliance on Him? Why can’t fear exist where love is present?
- Read Isaiah 41:10 and Psalm 118:6. When we fear, what does that say about our belief in God’s presence and protection? How does God’s presence enable us to face any situation with security, courage, and hope?
- Read Luke 12:4-7. How does fear causes us to lose sight of our value in God’s eyes?
- Read John 14:25-27 and Romans 8:14-17. What enables us to have peace in this world? What role does the Holy Spirit play in addressing our fears?
- What are the small fears that keep you from stepping into God’s purpose for your life?
- In what situations do you find yourself fighting for control or isolating yourself from God and others? How is fear or anxiety driving this reaction to your circumstances?
- God always leads us to places where faith is required. What is your next right step of faith? What is one action you know you need to take but fear is preventing you from doing so?
The best way to express God’s work is to share God’s work.
Psalm 86:11, Galatians 6:4-6 (The Message), Romans 8:28
- We learn His ways in order to trust His ways.
- We bring ourselves and our stories together not to impress each other, but to express God’s image – His character, His grace, and His love.
- We need to connect authentically in relationships that are based on our dependence upon God and each other.
- Togetherness isn’t first about effectiveness, but rather expression.
- Self-assessment is not just knowing where you are, but knowing what God is doing in you where you are.
- Authentic encounters require authentic people, effort and trust.
- Don’t just show up…avail yourself. First to God then to others.
- Think redemption not solution.
- We enter into a generous common life by serving as an expression of His character and extension of His heart.
- When we see things from His perspective, His purpose comes into focus.
- We have to think differently about what is good. (Romans 8:28)
- “I’ll get myself right, then God will love me and use me.” Over the years how have you wrestled with this lie and in what ways has this kept you on the sidelines?
- What does it look like to become independently dependent on God?
- How does our perspective of our problems change when we begin to think redemption rather than solutions?
- Read Psalm 86:11. What causes a heart to be divided? How does our growth and transformation lead us to places where faith is required?
- Read Galatians 6:4-6 (The Message). What is self-sufficient maturity and how does exhibiting this quality enable us to enter a generous common life?
- Read Romans 8:28. Do you believe that God works everything out for our good? Why or why not? What makes the circumstances one is going through “good”?
- We tend to be more concerned with impression (how am I viewed by others) rather than expression (how do others see God in my actions and words). Where are you most prone to focus on impression instead of expression?
- If you change what you see, you will change what you do. Where are you eyes currently set? What areas of your life are in need of a perspective shift?
- There are four corners of connection: (1) no connection (2) bad connection (3) pseudo connection (4) real connection. In the relationships that hold the most influence on your life, what corner are you residing in and how is your current connection level influencing your growth?
An accurate assessment of self requires an authentic encounter with God.
- We often assume everything is okay until it’s not.
- Formation doesn’t occur in a hurry.
- The formation we crave requires us to invite other voices into the conversation.
- Self-awareness without self-assessment is reckless and harmful.
- Self-assessment without self-awareness is pretty much useless.
- God knows you better than you know you.
- God knows you fully and loves you completely.
- God knows exactly where you are today.
- God’s pursuit of you is perfect.
- God knows the you who you were made to be.
- An authentic encounter takes times, tools and trust.
- We often assume everything is okay until it’s not. Why do you believe many of us fail to pay attention to the conditions of our heart?
- Why does one need both self-awareness and self-assessment? What are the repercussions if you have one without the other?
- What are some warning signs or gauges you look towards to determine if there is something demanding your attention below the surface of what you can see?
- How does the pace that comes with formation go against the grain of today’s culture?
- Read Psalm 139:1-6. God knows you better than you know you. How does this statement sit with you (hesitant, thankful, free, ashamed, etc.)? In what ways does your answer influence your willingness to bring all your issues to God?
- Read Psalm 139:7-12. How does this passage speak to God’s pursuit and His presence in our lives? How would you describe God’s pursuit of you over the years?
- Read Psalm 139:13-17. God knows the you who you were made to be. What does it look like to assess yourself against who God made you to be?
- Read Psalm 139:23-24. What can we do to know the true condition of our heart?
- An authentic encounter takes time, tools and trust. Of the three, which one do you struggle with the most?
- Formation isn’t found in a hurry. How can you slow down this week and pay attention to the condition of your heart?
- What lies “below the surface” that you have been attempting to ignore or pretend it isn’t there? Why is an authentic encounter with God needed in this area?
Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.
Acts 10:9-16, Acts 10:25-29, Matthew 19:13-15, Matthew 5:38-42, Matthew 6:19-21
The 7 Habits of a Party Starter
- Invite someone new to the table.
- Fast forward someone else’s dream.
- Inspire every kid you meet.
- Create beautiful spaces.
- Speak up for someone else.
- Discover life together.
- Do something you don’t have to do.
- The more fascinated you become with the differences in people in this world, the more fascinated you will become with God.
- Rich people aren’t generous. Generous people are generous.
- You are never more like Jesus than when you sacrifice for the sake of another person’s future.
- Every time you see a kid….make them LAUGH, make them BELIEVE, help them DREAM.
- Leverage your voice in the right way, for the right reasons.
- How you walk with the broken is more important than how you sit with the great.
- At the center of the issues are real people. Your neighbors.
- No party can heal your community like the right neighborhood party.
- Your faith is personal but it is not private.
- You don’t do something because you feel like it…you do something in order to feel like it.
- If you only do what you have to do, you limit what you do.
- The first mile fulfilled an obligation. The second mile started a party.
- When you invest in someone, your heart follows. Don’t confuse the order.
- God made you to party.
- Everything you dream, hope and pray is linked to how you love and serve others.
- If you want to really live, you have to learn how to live for someone other than yourself.
“Our problem is that we have entire sections of our bookstores marked self-help, but we have no sections marked help others.” -Simon Sinek
- Read the quote from Simon Sinek. How is finding our life’s purpose tied to our willingness to love and serve others? Why do many of us never unlock our purpose?
- Consider the people that you invite to your parties, join you at the table or appear in the photos stored on your phone. What level of diversity is present in this group? What occurs when we only surround ourselves with people just like us?
- How does one know when they are viewing people as projects? What is the danger in holding this view of others?
- Read the 7 Habits of a Party Starter. Which of the habits do you feel you excel at? How did you develop this habit in your life? Reversely, which of the habits do you struggle to live out? Why have you been reluctant to become a party starter in this way?
- Read Acts 10:9-16 and Acts 10:25-29. What did Jesus want Peter to understand about people? How did Peter become a party starter in this story?
- Read Matthew 19:13-15. What can we learn from children about being a party starter? How can we be party starters who have a legacy mindset?
- Read Matthew 5:38-42 and Matthew 6:19-21. What do we miss out on when we only obey out of obligation or to meet the standard of what’s required of us? What do we learn about ourselves, others and God when we go the second mile?
- How can you begin to create beautiful spaces in the places where you are planted? Where do you need to bring hope and make people feel welcomed?
- Who doesn’t have a voice that you need to speak up for? Why did this person or people come to mind?
- What is one step you can take right now to fast forward someone else’s dream?
- Where are you only responding or obeying out of obligation? What is causing you to just do the bare minimum? What would it look like to go the second mile in this situation?
Instead of building a wall, build a bigger table.
Matthew 23:27-28, Matthew 22:1-10, 1 John 4:17-21, Luke 15:11-32
- Sometimes people need your love and acceptance more than they need your advice and opinion.
- A party is any effort to celebrate, serve, or enjoy each other in a way that adds value to life.
- Sometimes it takes a party to change how we see each other.
- Jesus loved parties because Jesus loved people.
- Sometimes it takes a party to demonstrate that God cares about people who party.
- Sometimes it takes a party to confirm we can always be forgiven.
- Sometimes it takes a party to prove that people matter more than opinions.
- Sometimes it takes a party to remind us that everyone is invited to the party.
- Every table is an altar.
- Faith is meant be lived.
- There has never been a more important time in history than right now to start acting like we believe everyone is invited to the party.
- Too many of us act like everyone is NOT invited to the party.
- Jesus doesn’t segregate. Jesus integrates.
- Loving God affects how we love others. Loving others affects how we love God.
- Parents are programmed to teach kids what to believe. What if we started coaching our kids how to love and serve?
- How are Christians viewed as it relates to fun and freedom? Why does this tend to be the picture people have of Christ followers? Do you think this assessment is valid?
- Too many of us act live everyone is NOT invited to the party. How does this statement convict you? What causes you to not invite some people to the party?
- How do we make loving others a lot more complicated than it needs to be?
- Read Matthew 22:1-10. Who received an invitation to the party? What does this story teach us about God’s heart?
- Read Matthew 23:27-28. What caused Jesus to have this response to the religious leaders? What did Jesus see within their hearts that broke His heart?
- Read 1 John 4:7-21. Loving God affects how we love others. Loving others affects how we love God. How does the way we treat, care and value others speak to our understanding of God’s love?
- Read Luke 15:11-32. Why did the father throw a party for his prodigal son? Why did the older son rally against the party being held? What did the older son not understand about why there was reason to celebrate?
- Where are you erecting bigger walls? What would it look like for you to build longer tables instead?
- A party is any effort to celebrate, serve, or enjoy each other in a way that adds value. During this upcoming week, how can you be a party starter?
- Sometimes it takes a party to change how we view each other. Who needs to be invited to your party? How could inviting them change the way you see them?
We hold onto hope when we are connected together and anchored in Jesus.
Deuteronomy 6:1-2, Hebrews 6:16-19, 1 Timothy 1:18-19
- We reach people one person at a time.
- The family matters because of its legacy.
- We aim to empower the family and shoulder the struggle.
- The family is established so our children’s children will know God as God.
- An anchor provides stability and security regardless of the circumstances.
- The rope is what connects the next generation to the hope they need. The rope is the relational connection to the church.
- The most important thing we’ve been given is hope.
- The emphasis of God’s work is generational in nature.
- We set the bar too low if our objective is to just raise low-maintenance, fully functional kids.
- The next generation matters to God so they must matter to us.
- As a church who reflects the love of Christ, we must possess a relentless commitment to the generations that come after us.
- Every child needs someone to fight for them and with them.
- There are opportunities out there for us as a church to impact the next generation. We’ve got to go out there and seize them.
- Think back to your childhood and adolescence. How did you navigate trying to find security, purpose and hope during this time?
- How would you describe the climate and culture our children are growing up in now? What are some challenges they face that are similar to what you experienced? What added pressure are they now under?
- What are the implications of our mission (to reach people and help them walk with God) on the next generation? What does it look like to actively invest in the next generation by empowering the family?
- Read Deuteronomy 6:1-2. What is the purpose of the family? What danger arises when the family structure is eroded?
- Read Hebrews 6:16-19. How does the hope of the Gospel provide an anchor of stability for the next generation?
- Read 1 Timothy 1:18-19. After reading this passage, what conclusions can we reach about the battle young people are facing if Paul is encouraging his young protege (Timothy) to “fight the good fight” and “hold on to his faith”?
- Other than your parents, who had the most influence in your life growing up? How did they shape you into the person you are today? How can you thank them for their investment in you?
- What are you doing to invest in the next generation? Who are you investing in?
- If you had the opportunity to speak to the next generation, what would you want them to know and why would you want them to hear that message?
People don’t want to be tolerated, they want to be loved.
1 John 4:18-19, John 17:22-23, Mark 1:40-42, James 4:4-7, Mathew 5:1-12
- We often respond to the issues fueled by our emotions rather than deeply held convictions.
- Fear drives us to our “safe spaces.” We withdraw to protect us from a world we are afraid of.
- On the side of every issue is a human being.
- The best way to understand an issue is by understanding someone on the other side of the issue.
- There is a reason why people see things differently than you. Find out their “why.”
- Labels are intended to divide and segregate.
- Do not try to find your life source in the things of this world.
- We surrender to Christ while moving towards each other.
- The safe space we are looking for is a relationship that rests in love.
- We reflect Christ’s heart when we’re willing to enter the mess of someone else’s life.
“One of the major problems in the modern world is how we are to live with our deepest differences.” -Os Guinness
- Read the quote from Os Guinness. How do we get along with one another while the issues of this world remain unresolved?
- Why do you believe safe spaces have become part of our culture? What is their purpose and why do people head to these places?
- How can one tell if they are responding to an issue fueled solely by their emotions or driven by a well thought out conviction?
- Read James 4:4-7 and John 17:22-23. In what ways does displaying humility lead us towards understanding, connection and oneness?
- Read 1 John 4:18-19. What tends to drive our fears in regards to the issues the world faces? How does perfect love expel all fears?
- Read Mark 1:40-42. How does this story exemplify how Jesus entered the mess of humanity? If Christ serve as our ultimate example, what does this mean to the way we respond to the brokenness around us?
- Read Matthew 5:1-12. How is this passage, and the way it describes how we are to live, a rallying cry to live counter cultural?
- What is the danger in labeling people on the other side of the issue? Where have you been guilty of labeling those that have a different view than you?
- There is a reason why people see things differently than you. Think of someone on the other side of the issue you are most passionate about. How can you take steps to hear their story and understand why they believe the way that they do?
- Over the past five weeks, how has your response to the mad world changed or been challenged? What is the greatest insight you received and how can you take that insight and live it out?
Authority is the expression of humble submission.
James 4:4-7, Ephesians 2:14-16, Psalm 118:19-20, James 3:16, John 17:20-23
- The more passionate we are about an issue, the more submissive we need to be.
- Grace comes to us by submission to the Truth.
- Entering the narrow gate is the way towards freedom. When we enter this way, we quit being the center of our life.
- The system we’re currently using isn’t going to solve the issues in our country.
- Our heart longs to trust something solid. Unfortunately, we end up trusting things that aren’t trustworthy.
- Pride yields superiority while humility leads to more authority.
- If the enemy can’t keep us divided, he will settle for us unifying around anything other than God.
- Trying to get God “on our side” often brings out the worst in us.
- We need to bring our issues to Christ rather than Christ to our issues.
- Our culture has lost the ability to process authority.
- The issues in our world are only symptoms of what is really wrong.
- How is authority commonly viewed in today’s culture? What is the relationship most people, including yourself, have with authority?
- What dangers exist when we attempt to get God “on our side” of the issues? How does this mindset influence our relationships with those on the opposite side of the issue?
- What does it look like to bring our issues to Christ rather than Christ to our issues?
- Read James 3:16 and James 4:4-7. How does pride and humility influence our interaction and the way we handle God’s truth?
- Read Matthew 7:13-14 and Psalm 118:19-20. What does it mean to enter the narrow gate? What happens to our center when we head in this direction? Why is freedom found in this place?
- Read John 17:20-23 and Ephesians 2:14-16. Where should true unity inside the church be found? Why would the enemy settle for us being unified around an issue rather than God?
- Do you believe that Christ can be trusted with His Kingdom here on earth? Why or why not? Does the way you live your life reflect your answer?
- The more passionate we are about an issue, the more submissive we need to be. What issues are you most passionate about? Where is submission needed in your response to this issue and those that it impacts?
- Where have you caught yourself saying, “How can they think or act like that?” in regard to those on the other side of an issue? How can you begin to understand their story and their perspective?
We must surrender what we know to be true to Him who is the Truth.
1 John 2:15-17, James 4:4-7, Matthew 7:13-14, Proverbs 14:12, Ephesians 2:14-16, James 3:16
- We are born to trust. Everyone comes into this world needing someone else.
- Our hearts will remain restless until we find something to support our trust.
- What we see awakens something in us.
- The more we see, the more we want. The more we want, the more we look for it.
- We have to learn how to think redemptively.
- As long as we focus on the issues and continue to ignore what’s at the center, nothing will change.
- Processing what we believe requires us to be still and quiet. Clarity doesn’t come in the midst of the noise.
- He created you for Himself and He’s not going to let go of that very easily.
- There’s no point in having strong views if you only have them in order to put people in their place.
- The madness of this world won’t change by simply winning an argument.
- Grace comes to us by submission to the Truth.
- When you become self-sufficient, you become self-centered. What are some warning signs that you are trying to find your sufficiency in yourself? How does one know when they’re being self-centered?
- How is the church supposed to engage in culture and address issues taking place in our world?
- How do you have strong views about something without putting yourself in the center or putting someone else in their place?
- Where are you winning an argument about the issues but losing a relationship? What makes issues so important to you?
- Read Matthew 7:13-14. How does following the narrowing road lead to life rather than restriction? Why do few people find their feet on this road?
- Read James 4:4-7 and Proverbs 14:12. Why does pride stand in opposition to God? How does pride cloud our judgment and response to this mad world?
- Read 1 John 2:15-17 and Proverbs 14:12. How does the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life play off of our envy and selfish ambition? What cycle does this mindset create?
- What leads you to take things that are true and make them about you (insecurities, the desire to be right, pride, the need for control, etc.)?
- We must surrender what we know to be true to Him who is the Truth. Where are you most resistant to submit yourself to God’s truth?
- What we see awakens something in us. The more we see, the more we want. The more we want, the more we look for it. If this is true, where are your eyes set and what does that say about what you truly want?