Touch the Sky - Part IV

Series: Touch the Sky
Title: Part 4 - Unanswered Prayer
Date: June 24/25, 2017
Speaker: Geoff Surratt

BIG IDEA:

The Bible is full of commands and promises about how to pray and the results we can expect. lt's tempting to take this as a formula for life. However, scripture is also full of examples of prayers going unanswered, demonstrating that just as life is complex, so is prayer. Geoff encouraged us to see prayer as less transactional and more relational; leaning into God’s unconditional love as we walk with him through times when our prayers aren’t answered in the ways we might wish.  

Passages: Psalm 55:22; Ephesians 1:4-8; Matthew 7:7-11
 

DISCUSS IT:

  1. Was there a Christmas present you repeatedly asked for as a kid, but never got? Was there one you finally did get?

  2. What is an unanswered prayer in your life (could be present or past)? How did/does that affect your relationship with God right now?

  3. In his message Geoff mentioned a few reasons that God might answer our prayers with a “no.” Perhaps a prayer is frivolous, perhaps a sin our lives is blocking the way, perhaps our prayer conflicts with someone else’s prayer, or perhaps we are asking God to do something that goes against his nature. What other explanations have you heard as to why some prayers go unanswered? Which are the most satisfying? Which are the least satisfying?

  4. Read 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. Sometimes God delivers you from something and other times he delivers you through it. Share a time in your life when God gave you the strength to get through something or endure a season of life. What do you think Paul meant when he said, “your power works best in weakness?” How does the power of Christ work through us when we are going through hard times?

  5. Read 1 Peter 3:7. How does our relationship with others impact our relationship with God? Why is there such a strong link between how I treat someone and my prayers being answered? If you are married, how could prayer help your marriage?

  6. Read 2 Chronicles 7:14. How does the solution of humble prayer to restore our country, our family, our health, our finances, etc., compare to other solutions? Why is it so hard to let God change us before He changes things around us?

  7. Ephesians 1:4-8. The Bible teaches that God has lovingly made us part of his family. How can this relationship sustain us in times when God doesn’t seem to hear our prayers? In his message, Geoff posed the question, “Could you reach a place where you could say to God that you love him regardless of whether he does anything that you ask?” How would you respond to that question?

  8. Geoff mentioned that we usually don’t learn lessons in the middle of seasons of unanswered prayer, but we tend to learn a lot from these seasons in retrospect. Looking back, are there things you once asked God for that you are now glad he said “no?”

APPLY IT:

  • What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

  • What will help you remember it?

  • Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

Touch the Sky-Part III

Series: Touch the Sky

Title: Part 3 - The Myths of Prayer

Date: June 17/18, 2017

Speaker: Peter Barber

 

Big Idea:

Misconceptions of God’s nature can lead us to approach prayer in ways that fall short of what God has in mind for our relationship with him. When we understand that God relates to us a truly good father, we are freed from the notion that we have to manipulate God into blessing our lives.

Passage: Matthew 6:2-8; 26-33
 

Discuss It:

1.     What popular image of God stands out most prominently in your mind? Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty? Octavia Spencer in The Shack? God peering down from the clouds in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? God as depicted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Another?

2.     Read Matthew 6:2-4. One myth about prayer views God as a Santa Claus figure who rewards nice behavior. This perspective can lead people to draw attention as much as possible to their good works. Why does Jesus discourage this? Where are you tempted to advertise your own acts of righteousness?

3.     Read Matthew 6:5-6. Another myth about prayer understands God as an angry cosmic policeman, looking to punish people for the slightest infraction. This led some people in Jesus’ day to make a big show of their holiness and righteous behavior. Why do you think people tend to see God primarily as a rule-enforcer?

4.     If Jesus tells us to pray in secret, what do you think is the value of public prayer?

5.     Read Matthew 6:7-8. A third myth about prayer sees God as a genie who will grant our wishes if we can figure out the right prayer formula or incantation to draw him out of his lamp. What formulas or methods have you tried hoping they would elicit a certain response from God? (ie., bargaining, lengthy prayers, extra good behavior, etc.).

6.     Why do we often use special or unusual language when talking to God?

7.     Read Matthew 6:26-30. A fourth myth about prayer views God as a grumpy old man; a distant, uncaring, stay-off-my-lawn kind of God. Naturally, this perspective can lead to fear and anxiety. What does Jesus point out about God’s care for the world? How do you think worry might be affecting you emotionally, physically, and spiritually?

8.     Read Matthew 6:31-33. The final myth Peter mentioned about prayer views God as a slot machine who will eventually pay out if we pull the lever enough times. This view can lead us to become consumed with materialism. What would it mean for you to shift your attention from materialism to the Kingdom of God?

9.     The common thread running through all these myths is the assumption that prayer is a means of manipulating God into giving us what we want. So Peter concluded his message by showing how our true relationship with God is like a relationship with a good father. How might this kind of a relationship change the way we approach prayer?

Apply It:

●      What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

●      What will help you remember it?

●      Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

TOUCH THE SKY - PART II

Series: Touch the Sky
Title: Part 2 - The Lord’s Prayer
Date: June 10/11, 2017
Speaker: Steve Garcia

Big Idea:
Jesus modeled for his disciples how to pray, and his prayer centered around the idea of praying for God’s will to be done. This could seem odd at first glance… why pray that God would do what he was going to do anyway? Steve showed that power of praying this way is that it brings our plans into alignment with God’s purposes.

Passage: Matthew 6:9-13
 

Discuss It:

  1. What is one of your biggest answers to prayer and/or what is one of your most recent answers to prayer?
     
  2. Read Matthew 6:9-13. What does it mean for you that God is “Our Father”? Is the image of father a positive one for you?
     
  3. Verse 10 reads, “... your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” How would you describe the kingdom of God? What comes into your mind when you hear the phrase?
     
  4. In his message this past weekend Steve said, “Prayer aligns our plans with God’s purposes.” He went on to say that God doesn’t have one particular plan for your life, but rather desires that you align your plans and efforts with his purposes. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? Why does it matter?
     
  5. Have you ever come to a realization that your life had drifted from God’s purposes? How did you know? What did you do about it?
     
  6. Why does Jesus pray “Give us today our daily bread?” How can you consider this an invitation to a different or deeper life with God?
     
  7. How would you put the final three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (Forgive us our debts; Lead us not into temptation; Deliver us from evil) into your own prayer? Why is it important to pray these three things regularly?
     
  8. How might praying the Lord’s Prayer mature us more fully into his children?


Apply It:

What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

What will help you remember it?

Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

Touch the Sky-Part I

Series: Touch the Sky

Title: Part 1 - The Power of Prayer

Date: June 3/4, 2017

Speaker: Steve Garcia

 

Big Idea:

There’s a lot that is mysterious about prayer, but God invites us to bring our requests to him. This weekend Steve Garcia taught that we can begin to experience the power of prayer when we pray with open eyes (what does God want me to step into?) and open hands (what does God want me to let go of?).

Passage: Nehemiah 1:1-2:8
 

Discuss It:

1.     Over the next few weeks we’ll be discussing the practice of prayer. What are some questions you have about prayer?... Perhaps things you’ve always wondered about why we pray or how it works? Make a note of these questions and see how your thinking develops over these next few weeks.
 

2.     Read Nehemiah 1:1-11. What was Nehemiah’s initial response to the burden God gave him? What do you tend to do first when God puts a burden on your heart?
 

3.     Nehemiah was able to see that he was “in the right place at the right time” to take action in response to Israel’s circumstances. For what problems/challenges do you think that God has placed you “in the right place at the right time” to address?
 

4.     Why do you think Nehemiah reminds God of the promise that God made to Moses? Are you familiar with God’s promises in scripture such that you could repeat them back to God?
 

5.     Read Nehemiah 2:1-8. Nehemiah had a specific plan in mind to present to the king. Why is it important to think things through as you are awaiting an open door from God? What types of things are you doing right now to prepare for open doors?
 

6.     In his message this past weekend, Steve said, “Sometimes I am the answer to my own request.” In other words, sometimes your role isn’t just to inform God about the problem… sometimes it’s your role to do something about the problem. How might you know when God is leading you to be the answer to your own request?
 

7.     As a group, identify one or two things you would like to see changed in the world. For this change to happen, what are the things that only God could do? What are the things that you could do?
 

Apply It:

●      What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

●      What will help you remember it?

●      Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

Finding Hope-Part VI

Series: Finding Hope

Title: Part 6 - Life-Savers

Date: May 27/28, 2017

Speaker: Geoff Surratt

 

Big Idea:

The life of the apostle Paul - the man who went from killing Christians to planting churches - reminds us that there is hope for everyone. Followers of Jesus get to partner with God in this life-saving mission that’s available to everyone, and in his message this weekend Geoff pointed out five important rules of life saving: 1) No one is beyond saving, 2) Get comfortable being uncomfortable, 3) Accept people where they are, 4) Never give up, and 5) You may not see the end of the story.

Passage: Acts 9:1-31
 

Discuss It:

Read Acts 9:1-6- Rule #1: No One Is Beyond Saving

1.    How would you describe the most intimidating person you know?

2.    What was your conversion experience like?
 

Read Acts 9:10-19 - Rule #2: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable, and Rule #3: Accept People Where They Are

3.    Ananias had every reason to despise Saul. What do you notice about the way he speaks to Saul?

4.    How would you respond to the idea of God’s grace being extended to someone who has personally harmed you or your loved ones?

5.    In his message, Geoff said, “You’re never going to debate someone into followinNog Christ. We can only love people into the kingdom.” Why are experiences of love and acceptance more compelling than even the most well-reasoned arguments?
 

Read Acts 9:19-25 - Rule #4: Never Give Up, and Rule #5: You May Not See the End of the Story

6.    Saul’s transformation occurred almost instantaneously, yet he would go on to spend his life teaching about Jesus in the face of intense rejection. What do you think gave him the ability to stay the course? What can we learn from this?

7.    Geoff shared the story of the women who shared the Gospel with his grandparents, resulting in generations of belief in Jesus and church leadership that those women never lived to see. How has your life been impacted by the legacy of someone in a previous generation?

8.    Who is the person in your life who you would most like to see become a follower of Jesus? Pray as a group for these people.

Apply It:

●      What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

●      What will help you remember it?

●      Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

Finding Hope-Part V

Series: Finding Hope

Title: Part 5 - Hope in the Midst of Fear

Date: May 20/21, 2017

Speaker: Geoff Surratt

 

Big Idea:

Fear holds us back in many ways. It leads us to regret missed opportunities. It prevents us from achieving our potential. Biblical hope has the power to disarm fear. The source of that power: resurrection.

Passage: Acts 6-7
 

Discuss It:

1.    What experiences/opportunities have you missed out on in your life because of fear? If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?

2.    Read Acts 6:8-15, and the end of Stephen’s speech in 7:51-60. Faced with the violent mob, Stephen seemed fearless. How was he able to face this danger?

3.    What would make it possible for you to be calm and sure in the middle of extreme danger?

4.    In his message, Geoff said that when fear is overcome by the power of the resurrection it leads to hope. How does the reality of Jesus’ resurrection lead to hope? (See 1 Corinthians 15:20-26).

5.    Christians often talk about salvation and resurrection in terms of what happens after we die. How does it change our perspective when we understand that these are present realities as well as future?

6.    Have you experienced God bring something dead back to life in your own life?

7.    Where in your life would you most like to see resurrection power at work? In what ways might fear and regret be holding you back?

 

Apply It:

●      What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

●      What will help you remember it?

●      Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

 

Finding Hope-Part IV

Series: Finding Hope

Title: Part 4 - Prayer

Date: May 13/14, 2017

Speaker: Peter Barber

 

Big Idea:

Sometimes our circumstances leave us feeling hopeless about the future. While it might seem most natural to pray for deliverance, what if we prayed instead for greater dependence on God to carry us through these circumstances?

Passage: Acts 4
 

Discuss It:

1.    When you are misunderstood, what do you usually do to clear things up?

2.    Read Acts 4:1-12. In our society, when should Christian leaders stand up to political and/or religious groups?

3.    Read Acts 4:24-28. What stands out to you about the disciples’ prayer?

4.    In times of trouble, do you respond more like the Sanhedrin (trying to figure out for yourself what to do), or like the disciples (coming to God in sincere prayer)?

5.    When we pray, why is it helpful to recall the way God has acted in the past?

6.    When was the last time you were amazed by the power of prayer?

7.    In his message Peter pointed out that the disciples - in the face of imminent persecution - prayed for greater dependence on God rather than relief from their circumstances. What blessing did the church experience as a result of this prayer? (Acts 4:32-35)

8.    Peter said that in prayer “whenever our mouths speak, our hearts are eavesdropping.” How might your heart change with respect to the challenges you are facing if you were to pray for greater dependence on God?

 

Apply It:

●      What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

●      What will help you remember it?

●      Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

Finding Hope-Part III

Series: Finding Hope

Title: Part 3 - Better

Date: May 6/7, 2017

Speaker: Steve Garcia

 

Big Idea:

Though it may be difficult for us to see from our limited human perspective, God is always up to something better in the world than we could arrange for ourselves. We can gain better perspective when we trust that...

1.      God’s answer is always better

2.      God’s timing is always better

3.      God’s impact is always better

Passage: Acts 3
 

Discuss It:

1.    Read Acts 3:1-10. If a stranger were to ask you for a handout, what would you most likely do? Why?

2.    What do you remember about a time when you were very sick or hurt?

3.    Steve pointed out that the crippled man in the story did not get what he asked for (money), he got something much better (healing). Have you ever experienced an outcome that was far greater than what you expected or imagined?

4.    In difficult times, how easy is it for you to trust that God truly has your best interests in mind?

5.    Looking back on past seasons of life, is there anything you prayed for that you are now glad you did not receive?

6.    Read Acts 3:16. What do you think is the significance of the mention of Jesus’ name with regard to the man’s healing?

7.    Read Acts 3:17-26. The occasion of the crippled man’s healing becomes an opportunity for the apostles to preach the gospel to a large audience. What has God done in your life (or maybe currently doing in your life) that you could use to point people to Jesus?

 

Apply It:

●      What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

●      What will help you remember it?

●      Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

 

Finding Hope-Part II

Series: Finding Hope

Title: Part 2

Date: April 29/30, 2017

Speaker: Ben Patterson

 

Big Idea:

Is your uncertainty bigger than God or is God bigger than your uncertainty? Jesus was crucified and the apostles faced uncertainty. They didn’t know what to do! Jesus then gave clear directions to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit and then move to action. The Holy Spirit is available to us today and, thought its power, we can boldly face uncertain times.

Passage: Acts 1-2

Discuss It:

·       “When facing uncertainty, we tend to fall back into doing whatever makes us comfortable.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain.

·       Read Acts 1-2

·       Jesus commanded the apostles to stay in Jerusalem, but this was difficult for them to do (Acts 1:4-5). When is a time God had you in a place you didn’t want to be but for a good reason?

·       What is your “Are we there yet?” question you continually ask God? (Acts 1:6)

·       When in the upper room, the people meeting together were in constant prayer (Acts 1:14). What is your prayer life like?

·       “Work like it depends on us, but pray like it depends on God.” The apostles selected a new 12th in a way that respected God (Acts 1:15-22). To what extent is God a part of your work?

·       “If we press into God like never before, we will experience His power like never before.” What area of your life do you need to press into God more?

Apply It:

·       What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

·       What will help you remember it?

·       Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

Finding Hope-Part I

Series: Finding Hope

Title: Part 1

Date: April 22/23, 2017

Speaker: Geoff Surratt

 

Big Idea:

Past failure doesn’t determine future hope. With failure there is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt = I did something bad. Shame = I am bad. Dealing with shame requires reaching out to others and owning the story. Remember: Hope is restored in relationship.

Passage: John 21:1-17

Discuss It:

·       Read John 21:1-17

·       Concerning shame, Brene Brown states, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”. In what ways have you experienced this dynamic in your own life?

·       Concerning guilt, she states, “We feel guilty when we hold up something we’ve done or failed to do against our values and find they don’t match up. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, but one that’s helpful.” Have you ever experienced guilt as being helpful in your journey?

·       How would you describe the difference between shame and guilt?

·       In verse 15, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” If the ‘these’ refers to anything keeping us from experiencing God’s love or anything we pursue more than Jesus, what comes to mind when you think of the ‘these’ in your own life?

·       As Jesus restores Peter, we see that Peter’s failures do not overcome who Jesus is and Jesus’ plan for Peter’s life. How does this truth speak into your own failures and shortcomings in life?

·       When Peter answers Jesus’ question, what does Jesus tell him to do? (v. 16-17)

·       In what ways does being in community overcome shame in our life?

·       In what ways does being in community encourage hope for the future?

·       How is the hope level in your life?

Apply It:

·       What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

·       What will help you remember it?

·       Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

Easter

Series: Easter

Date: April 14-16, 2017

Speaker: Steve Garcia

 

Big Idea:

Even when all seems darkest, God can do the impossible! With the resurrection, Jesus proved that death is not the end and the story is not over. Anything is possible with God.

Passage: John 20:1-18, 30-31

Discuss It:

·      Do you have a favorite underdog or come from behind story or experience?

·      What is some exciting news you’ve heard in the last few weeks?

·      Read John 20:1-18, 30-31

·      What did Peter and John discover when they arrived at the tomb? (v. 4-7)

·      What did Mary and the disciples do after seeing that Jesus’ body was gone? (v. 10-11)

·      How do you usually respond to life’s unexpected events?

·      If you had been Mary, Peter, or John, what thoughts would have run through your mind when you discovered the empty tomb?

·      How do you think Mary felt when she realized she was talking to Jesus?

·      Has there ever been a time when you were exceptionally thrilled about your relationship with Jesus? If so, why was that?

·      Why reason does John give for recording the miraculous signs about Jesus? (v. 30-31)

·      What is the result of believing in Jesus, the Son of God? (v. 31)

Apply It:

·      What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

·      What will help you remember it?

·      Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

Exiled-Part IV

Series: Exiled

Title: Part 4

Date: April 8-9, 2017

Speaker: Peter Barber

 

Big Idea:

In spite of all evidence to the contrary, God is still in control. When living as an exile (a stranger in a strange land), we can expect opposition, criticism, and persecution. In this situation, we are face with temptation. Will your circumstances determine your convictions? Or, will your convictions shape your circumstance?

Passage: Daniel 6:1-28

Discuss It:

·       Have you gone through a time in your life when hope was challenged and trusting God was difficult? What happened?

·       Read Daniel 6:1-28

·       What was the only way that the leaders were able to find fault with Daniel? (V. 4-5)

·       What was the decree made by King Darius? (v. 6-7)

·       What did Daniel do when he learned about the decree? (v. 10)

·       What happened to Daniel when put in the lion’s den? (v. 21-22)

·       Have you ever experienced opposition or criticism because of your faith, belief, or conviction? What was that like for you?

·       When are you most tempted to let circumstances determine your convictions?

·       When all evidence is to the contrary, what helps you hold onto the belief that God is still in control?

·       In your own words, what did King Darius say about Daniel’s God? (v. 26-27)

Apply It:

·       What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

·       What will help you remember it?

·       Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

Exiled-Part III

Series: Exiled

Title: Part 3

Date: April 1-2, 2017

Speaker: Steve Garcia

 

Big Idea:

When following God, he will lead us into the fire and he will lead us out of it. When we are in the fire we can trust that we are not alone.

Passage: Daniel 3:1-30; 1 Peter 1:6-7

Discuss It:

·       What kind of temptations have you faced where the majority was engaging in a behavior that was wrong?

·       What kind of reasons do we sometimes give for why we “have” to do the same as everyone else?

·       Read Daniel 3:1-30

·       What were all the people commanded to do? (v. 5-6)

·       What would happen to anyone that did not worship the golden image? (v. 11)

·       How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego respond to the king’s command? (v. 16-19)

·       What do you think helped these three young men to stand and make such a courageous statement?

·       What did the king see when he looked into the fire? (v. 24-25)

·       Have you ever felt the presence of Jesus with you in a fire?

·       What do you think happens when our faith is tested by fire?

o   What are the challenges, dangers, or temptations?

o   What are the benefits? (Consider 1 Peter 1:6-7)

·       What will empower you to stand during times of suffering or crises?

Apply It:

·       What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

·       What will help you remember it?

·       Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

Exiled-Part II

Series: Exiled

Title: Part 2

Date: March 25-26, 2017

Speaker: Steve Garcia

 

Big Idea:

“God is at work in my tomorrow. So I won’t quit today.” Difficult circumstances can cause us to want to escape at all costs, or simply give up. But what if the very thing God wants to do in and through you can only happen as you journey through difficulty? Daniel’s example shows us what God can do when we…

1.      Lean in - to the “new normal” we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves

2.      Bow down - plead with God to equip us for the situation

3.      Hold out - trust that our faithfulness matters in ways we haven’t even considered

Passage: Daniel 2:1-23; 46-49

 

Discuss It:

1.    Do you tend to resist change or look forward to it? What’s the most recent personal change you’ve gone through?

2.    What is one of the crazier dreams you’ve had?

3.    Read Daniel 2:1-19. Steve said that Daniel’s request for more time to interpret the dream represented an important decision on his part to “lean in” to his life in exile.

a.    Why might it have been tempting to simply accept the king’s death sentence?

b.    When circumstances come your way that seem beyond your control, do you more naturally accept them or take a stand against them?

4.    Daniel and his friends pleaded with God to reveal the king’s dream. How natural is it for you to pray in response to crises?

5.    Read Daniel 2:20-23. Daniel understood that God was working through this specific set of events to accomplish a specific purpose. Do you think that is the case with all world events? In other words, do you believe that God is directly orchestrating everything that happens in the world? Why or why not?

6.    Read Daniel 2:46-49. Daniel’s faithfulness paid off in a big way. In retrospect, he could now see the good that God brought from the crisis. As you look back on difficult seasons in your life, are there beneficial results you can see now that were not apparent to you at the time? Would you say that those benefits are worth the hardship you endured?

7.    Steve said, “sometimes God will choose you to be an exile so that he can use you to be an example.” What opportunities do you have in this season of your life (ie. your current career, family stage, location, etc.) to be an example of faithfulness to God?

 

Apply It:

●      What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

●      What will help you remember it?

●      Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

Exiled - Part I

Series: Exiled

Title: Part 1

Date: March 18-19, 2017

Speaker: Phil Vaughan

 

Big Idea:

How do you respond in crises and when you find your self in place you did not intend to be. The challenge is that we all draw lines that separate us from others. Daniel’s story helps us to thoughtfully consider where those lines are and why we place them where we do. Remember, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, God is still in control.

Passage: Daniel 1:1-19; Jeremiah 29:4-7

Discuss It:

·      Have you ever found yourself in a place where you felt like you did not belong?

·      Have you ever been in a place where you felt unsure of how to live our your faith or convictions in a practical way?

·      Read Daniel 1:1-19

·      For the Hebrew culture someone’s name was very significant and tied to their identity. All four of their names were connected to the their view of God and their new names were all connected to the Babylonian gods. In you opinion, was accepting the new names a compromise on their values or picking what was important to focus on?

·      Where did Daniel decide that he would draw the line? (v. 8)

·      What helps you decide whether to go along with something or where you will draw the line in relation to your faith and values?

·      How you ever experienced someone drawing a line and it created a wall to keep you out? What was that like for you?

·      When you draw a line does it feel like a wall to keep others out or an invitation for others to connect in conversation?

·      How did Daniel draw the line but invite conversation and connection? (v. 8)

·      What are some ways that you could draw a line but remain open to conversation?

·      For Daniel, this probably felt like a crises, but we see God working behind the scenes to bring about his purposes and plans. What area in your life do you have a difficult time believing that God is still in control and working behind the scenes?

·      Is there an area where you need to surrender control to God?

Apply It:

·      What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

·      What will help you remember it?

·      Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

The Way You Think-Part IV

Series: The Way You Think

Title: Part 4

Date: March 11-12, 2017

Speaker: Phil Vaughan

 

Big Idea:

Very few of us have enemies. But, most of us have people in our lives who: oppose us, irritate us, or make us uncomfortable. The problem is that most of us don’t know how to disagree without being disagreeable. How we respond to our enemies says more about us than it says about them. Remember, Jesus attracted people who were very different from him and he loved them with action.

Passage: Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 11:19

Discuss It:

·       What advice would you give to someone who wanted some practical wisdom on how to get along with others?

·       Read Romans 12:9-21

·       What down-to-earth advice did Paul give? What advice most resonated with you?

·       In what ways ought we treat others as more important than ourselves?

·       With whom does God want us to live at peace? (v. 18)

·       In what ways is Christian love more than emotion?

·       How does doing good to an enemy overcome evil?

·       Read Matthew 11:19

·       Do the people who are very different from you enjoy your company?

·       If what ways do you attract people who are different from you?

·       What would need to happen for others to be more comfortable around you and enjoy your company?

·       What could you do this week to put your love in action for someone that is different from you?

Apply It:

·       What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

·       What will help you remember it?

·       Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

The Way You Think-Part III

Series: The Way You Think

Title: Part 3

Date: March 4-5, 2017

Speaker: Peter Barber

 

Big Idea:

The Pattern to Change is: SEE – FEEL – CHANGE. If we want to engage our emotions in the change process then empathy is the key. Empathy requires focusing on and seeing others, who they really are and their struggles. Empathy helps us see where we are and pick a new direction. One way to grow in empathy is to ask others: “How is it for you?” and then listen deeply.

Passage: Romans 12:1-8

Discuss It:

·       What gifts (skills, talents, or qualities) has God given to you?

·       Read Romans 12:1-8

·       How are we to think about our self? (v. 3)

·       What helps you to have an honest assessment of your life and circumstances?

·       What did Paul use the human body to illustrate? (v. 4-5)

·       How should each person use his or her gifts? (v. 6-8)

·       Have you experienced the connection between using your gifts for someone else and growing in empathy?

·       What would it be like for you, if you asked others the question: “How is it for you?”

·       Who is someone you could ask this week?

·       How can you put one of your gifts to work for others this week?

Apply It:

·       What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

·       What will help you remember it?

·       Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

The Way You Think-Part II

Series: The Way You Think

Title: Part 2

Date: February 25-26, 2017

Speaker: Phil Vaughan

 

Big Idea:

Most of the time we don’t think much about change until we wish we had a different life. When it comes to change we must let God transform us and we must not copy the customs of this world. We must look at our wants and try to line them up with what God wants.

Passage: Romans 12:1-2, 9-21

Discuss It:

·       What advice would you give someone who wanted some practical wisdom on becoming a better person?

·       Read Romans 12:1-2, 9-21

·       Verses 9-21 give a glimpse of what love in action looks like and what God wants in our life. Is there a phrase or instruction that feels significant to you? Why?

·       From this passage, what does genuine love look like? What are some of the characteristics of love? (v. 9, 13, 18-21)

·       How is a Christian supposed to treat an enemy or someone they dislike? (v. 17-21)

·       How are Christians supposed to over evil? (v. 21)

·       In your own life, where do you struggle to want what God wants?

·       This week, what would help you to grow in what God wants in your life?

Apply It:

·       What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

·       What will help you remember it?

·       Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

The Way You Think-Part I

Series: The Way You Think

Title: Part 1

Date: February 18-19, 2017

Speaker: Phil Vaughan

 

Big Idea:

There is a complex relationship between what we think and what we feel. The way we think and feel impacts our life and our ability to change.

Passage: Romans 12:1-2

Discuss It:

·       What influences have significantly shaped your life?

·       Read Romans 12:1-2

·       What is the most reasonable response to God’s great mercy? (v. 1)

·       How is the Christian to be different from non-believers? (v. 2)

·       How should our minds (thoughts, feelings, wants) be changed? (v. 2)

·       How can we discern and know the will of God? (v. 2)

·       What makes offering our bodies as living sacrifices an act of worship?

·       What patterns of the world are you tempted to conform to?

·       What is one step you can take this week toward eliminating habits that merely conform to the world’s pattern? Consider renewing your thoughts, feelings, and wants.

·       How might you offer your life this week as an act of worship?

Apply It:

·       What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

·       What will help you remember it?

·       Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?

He Is I'm Not-Part VI

Series: He Is I’m Not

Title: Part 6

Date: February 4-5, 2017

Speaker: Steve Garcia

 

Big Idea:

There are times in life when it is very difficult to understand what Jesus is doing. When circumstances feel darkest, Jesus reminds us that he is the resurrection and he is life. We must remember that resurrection doesn’t begin when we pass to the next life…but when we surrender in this one.

Passage: John 11:1-44

Discuss It:

·       What polite phrases do we use to describe death?

·       In what different ways do people respond when a loved one dies?

·       Read John 11:1-16

·       Why did Jesus say Lazarus was sick? (v. 4)

·       Why did Jesus say that He was glad He wasn’t with Lazarus? (v. 14)

·       Read John 11:17-37

·       What did Martha say to Jesus about His having come after Lazarus had died? (v. 21-22)

·       What did Jesus say would happen to those who believed in Him? (v. 26)

·       Read John 11:38-44

·       How did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? (v. 43-44)

·       Has there even been a time when you thought you had a better plan for your life than the one God was working out?

·       Have you ever been disappointed with God?

·       Why do we tend to second-guess God concerning what should happen in life?

·       Have you ever seen God perform a miracle and work out a seemingly impossible situation?

·       What specific situation do you need to trust God to work out in your life?

Apply It:

·       What is the one thing you need to take away from this study?

·       What will help you remember it?

·       Is there anything that needs to change in your thinking, actions, or relationships as a result?