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?
The end of self-centeredness comes when you find your sufficiency in Christ.
1 John 2:15-17, James 4:4-7, Matthew 7:13-14, Proverbs 14:12
- When you find the easy way to be hard, it isn’t because it’s hard. It’s because the easy way only leads you towards death.
- The narrow way is hard because it is hard to stay true to what is true.
- The wide road is easy because it seems right and it is easy to believe.
- If anyone loves the Father, the love of the world is not in them.
- We live in a world that has the power to make you think and feel whatever they want.
- You are not going to find what you’re looking for in a hurry.
- We must give up the allure of what is easy and live in submission to what is true.
- We can act on what we believe instead of simply reacting to what we see and feel.
- We’ve been entrusted to care and leverage this world by God. To ignore this call is what leaves us mad.
- The narrow road requires us to slow down, merge and submit everything to Him.
- Think of a time when you found yourself saying, “Life is hard.” Why did you describe your situation in this way? What do you believe was the source of this tension?
- We live in a world that has the power to make you think and feel whatever they want. What are some lies from culture that you fell for? How were these lies disguised as truth?
- How does the allure of this world create madness within us?
- As believers we’re called to walk upon the narrow road. When you hear “narrow road,” what imagery and emotions come to mind? How does your answer influence your willingness to follow this way?
- Read Matthew 7:13-14. What makes the wide road easy? Why is the way of Jesus hard? What actions and beliefs differentiate the two?
- Read James 4:4-7. How are friendship with the world, humility/pride and submission tied together? What connection do they have with each other? Why is grace given to those who are humble but opposition felt for those who are prideful?
- Read 1 John 2:15-17 and Proverbs 14:12. According to this passage, what three things fuel the world? How does the allure of these three things cloud our judgement and create madness in our relationships?
- Where are you finding it challenging to stick on the narrow road and stay true to what is true?
- You’re not going to find what you’re looking for in a hurry. Where do you need to slow down and pay attention? What are you missing by being in a hurry?
- The narrow road requires us to slow down, merge and submit everything to Him. What are you unwilling to surrender? Why are you reluctant to let go in this area? What would surrendering this thing look like?
If madness stems from distrust then sanity comes from trust.
James 3:16, 1 John 2:15-17, James 4:4-6
- Overreaction has become the new reaction.
- Love is the language of relationships and the currency of love is trust.
- The fall isn’t about a broken rule, but rather broken trust.
- The madness of the world is a result of a broken foundation.
- Grace is about receiving what you’ve been entrusted with.
- Trust is a gravitational force. We are pulled in the direction of that which we trust.
- Wherever you find your sufficiency is where you’ll find what is at the center of your life.
- You find your center by pinpointing where you are drawn to trust.
- Self-centered people demand that the rest of the world revolve around their orbit.
- We live in a culture that applauds independence.
- Trusting ourselves drives self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency leads to self-centeredness.
- Complete the following sentence: The world we live in is _______________. What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- We can all agree that we live in a broken world, yet opinions differ on the cause of the madness. From your perspective, how did the world become broken?
- As we begin this series, what would you say is the key to living sane in a crazy world?
- Overreaction has become the new reaction. How have you seen this statement played out in culture and your own life? What’s the danger with having this type of mindset?
- Read James 3:16. According to this passage, what fuels the discord we experience in this world? Why do these qualities thrive whenever distrust is present?
- Read 1 John 2:15-17. Over the years how have you wrestled with this passage? What does it mean to “love the world”? Why do you think the author used the word “love” to describe our relationships with the world and with God? What connection does love have to do with our relationships?
- Read James 4:4-6. What is wrong with being “friends with the world”? Why does this friendship fuel God’s jealousy? How does our connection with the world influence our understanding of the purpose God has for us?
- What are some typical approaches people take in an attempt to navigate through the chaos? What tends to be your response to the madness?
- Trust is a gravitational force. We are pulled in the direction of that which we trust. What are you drawn to in the middle of the chaos? How does your answer speak to what you trust?
- Wherever you find your sufficiency is where you’ll find what is at the center of your life. Where are you drawing your sufficiency from? How is this influencing your response to the chaos of this world?
Power can force obedience, but only love can awaken love.
John 20:31, John 11:21-27, John 11:32-43
- The Gospel is not the prevention of death, but the gift of life.
- God doesn’t always act the way we think He should.
- 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?
- 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?
“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?
As you understand your story within God’s story, when you share your life you share God’s story.
Romans 1:16-17, 2 Kings 7:3-9, 1 Peter 3:15-16
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
Ministry is when your life intersects with someone else’s needs and God moves through you.
Mark 10:17-27, Matthew 22:36-40, James 4:13-17
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
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.
Acts 15:5-19, Luke 10:38-42, 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
When you identify the impact of the Gospel on your story, you’ll begin to see your story within God’s story.
Romans 3:21-24, Romans 5:18-19-23, Romans 6:19 and Luke 7:36-50
- 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.
- 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?
- 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”?
- 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?
We might not know what is wrong, but we realize something ain’t right.
Romans 3:9-24, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Acts 11:22-26, John 7:37-38
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?