Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Easier said than done....

The anticipation of the New year is now realized, it's 2010. You may have been looking forward to the time of the New year, telling yourself, "I'm going to finally make a change" or some other type of New Year's resolution self-pep-talk. That's okay, I really don't have a problem with that. The fact of the matter is, it's easier to be in a state of preparation and look forward to the event, than it is to live it out; or live up to the expectations. Tammy and I were at the gym last week as the guy behind the counter said most people join the gym, come for the first four or five days of the year, and they never see them again... that's a lot of looking forward to, and not following through.

This is the stuff life is made of. Life is filled with these huge bursts of anticipation, latter to be overwhelmed by disappointment. What we once looked forward to, now either fills us with dread, or anxiety. Doubt that? One word: Polls. Think about any President's approval ratings. Everyone of them is elected one day, only to be criticized the next.

Still doubt that? Consider how many years the Jews looked forward to the Messiah's appearance. Once Jesus showed up, they no longer had to look forward to His coming. But, no fault of His own, He wasn't what they were looking for, so they killed Him. Like I said, it's easier to look forward to an event than it is to experience it...

Still skeptical? Try this one out: If it is a material purchase, it eventually breaks down or wears out. If it is a person, they let us down. Sounds depressing, I know. Paul was aware of this concept when he wrote, "For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder." (II Cor 12:20, ESV)

I think the newness, the butterflies, the anticipation of waiting for whatever, usually outweighs the arrival of the reality. Now, this isn't always the case; an example being honeymoons or newborn babies. But, think about the big job that you dreamed of (or the promotion you sacrificed for) that once you moved into it, you quickly realized how much of what you hoped for was merely romanticized. How many times have you bought a tool, software, new shoes, or some gadget only to think you were ripped off? You bought a new computer, and by time you unpacked it, there's a faster better one out that's even cheaper than yours. You drive your new car off the lot, and it's deprecated $2000. You moved into your new home only to find there's a leak... and the carpet is the wrong color. There's a legal loophole written into the contracts of some mortgagees, it's called something like "Buyer's remorse". It's the clause that lets you off the hook, gets you out of buying your home within three or four days of signing the papers saying you are the new owner. I think that might apply to buying cars too?

Life doesn't come with a "buyer's remorse" clause or "reset button" so please make the most of 2010. Because, if you live through it, it will be over before you know it. In the blink of an eye this year too will fly by. Live this year with the least amount of regrets as possible. It will drive satan crazy, glorify God, and make you a healthier person.

Eph 5:15-16, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Swiming upstream:

I wonder, from time to time, how do we as a Church ever compete with the other 6 days of the week? Think about it; we have basically one day to influence each other, while the world gets the other six days.

Walking out of the auditorium we step into the world of: TV, radio, Internet, advertisement, entertainment, literature, school/homework, work, vacation, the news, hobbies, sports, ect. The deck is staked against us. This competitive question isn't even addressing how our collective attention span has been hampered by video games and/or the sound bites we are bombarded with, either. I'm simply talking about,
who is influencing our thinking/beliefs more, the world or the Church...?

If we counted up all of the hours spent together as a community of believers each week, what would our total be?
An hour and a half, to two hours for many of us. Some come to Bible study 1st, and then the morning worship services, so there's around two and half to three hours. If you come back Sunday night or go to a lifegroup, the entire Sunday might accumulate five hours focused on worshipping God and your spiritual growth. If we included Wednesday nights, we might up-it to six or seven hours a week of time focused on Biblical issues. It's hard to estimate though if it's focused time when we text-message during the assembly or become distracted by other concerns when we gather together.

Compared to the rest of the week, three to seven hours is not a lot of time.
A recent study released says on average, children watch at least 24 hours of TV in a week.
Hmmm. What can we do?

Well, we could wring our hands and grumble about how the world is going down the drain. That's not going to help change anything.

We could become like the Amish and seclude ourselves from the world.
That won't work either; I doubt we could give up our modern-day conveniences even if we wanted to...

Perhaps instead of only trying to tell each other what to think, we should focus on how to think as well? Preaching and teaching and passing on correct doctrine is essential; but it's not sufficient. IT's vitally important we are committed to knowing the truth, but that's not enough. We also have to know how to think, not just what to think. We have to be able to reason through logically, and have an ownership of our faith. And that's what helps us to keep our head on straight the other six days.

Moses' instruction to continually fill ourselves with God's Word every waking hour is worth considering here:
Deut 6:6-9, "6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Pair that up with what Paul says in II Cor 10:3-5, "3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ..."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Middle school class:

Tonight we kick off the new class for the middle schoolers, "How to understand everything: a study of Genesis chapters 1-11"

Sounds pretty ambitious, huh?
I hope to get the kids excited about the primeval history that Genesis provides, and I hope to shape the way they think about/see reality. I think almost everything we need to know is found in the 1st eleven chapters of Genesis. Not everything, but just about thing is there...
I'm excited about teaching the Middle school class for several reasons. High schoolers typically are too cool to participate and interact as much as the MS class... Adults are even more reserved in a class setting. But, you never know what's going to come out of the mouth/minds of these MS kids though! I love the questions and the responses these kids consistently throw out!

One of my favorite teaching experiences was with the MS class when I taught them the class on "What does the Bible say about....?" and I let the kids ask any question they wanted about any subject, and we studied the Bible to find the answers. We looked at weird topics like UFOS, demon possession, topics like how did Adam name the animals, what happened to the dinosaurs, and contemporary topics like how do we treat homosexuals. Nothing was off limits, and the kids were great.

I wonder if the kids will ask were Cain found a wife this time around???

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mom thinking outside the box:

This story was too good not to comment on... How dumb can you get? If it was just across the subdivision people would freak out, but this lady is on the highway?

Ala. woman lets daughter ride in box on top of van

ALBERTVILLE, Ala. — An Alabama woman has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child after police say she let her daughter ride in a cardboard box on top of their van. Albertville Police spokesman Sgt. Jamie Smith said the 37-year-old woman was arrested Sunday after police received a call about a minivan on a state highway with a child riding on top.

Smith said the woman told police the box was too big to go inside the van, and that her daughter was inside the box to hold it down.

Smith said the mother told officers it was safe because she had the box secured to the van with a clothes hanger.

The 13-year-old daughter wasn't harmed and was turned over to a relative. A jail worker said the mother was out on bond Monday.

Information from: The Huntsville Times, http://www.al.com/hsvtimes/hsv.html

Monday, October 5, 2009

Story, narrative, or what?

Yesterday when I preached on Daniel in the Lion's den, I used the phrase several times, "story of" "story about," etc. It was gently and lovingly brought to my attention that some people mistakenly think the word story is almost always synonymous with fiction. I recognize that's the case with some people; it's easy to misunderstand the intended meaning of the word "story" in a day and age when people don’t always value absolute truth. So, let me try to alleviate this misperception on the use of the word story...

Somehow the term story seems to have a significantly greater force than some of the alternatives, so I'd really like to stick with the word story. How then do we avoid being misunderstood, how do we convey that story is, in this case, a legitimate real — authentic relay of information? I know what I mean when I use the word; getting that across might take some extra effort.

We could use several different words, when we mean story: account, narrative, report, chronicle, or maybe even statement, again, instead of story. This is tough, especially since I plan to preach through the "great stories" of the Bible between now and next May. I don't think it will be appreciated if every week, each sermon begins with a disclaimer on the intended meaning of the word story.

Perhaps occasionally saying things like: these are real people, real places, this really happened, or some equivalent to that, might work. I’m not sure what’s best. Maybe a combination of every so often reminding people that story is not synonymous with fiction, and then every so often replacing the word story with “account of” “description of” or “retelling” might work.

If you have an idea on how to clarify this, please let me know J Who knows, your “story” of helping me out might just make it into the Sunday morning sermon…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fathers' day...

Psalms 127:3-5 (ESV), “3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. 5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

There’s a special time in a man’s life when he can stand back, remembering his childhood, contemplating the present, and looking to the future… all in a single moment. I’m in one of the blessed positions right now.

I still have the advantage of having my dad, and Tammy’s dad; I know if I ever need to call on them I can. All four of our boys are alive and healthy; I’m here for them whenever they need me. I’m a son, a son-in-law, a father, Lord willing in a few days I will be a father-in-law! Which means that I can see a future of grandchildren; though I’m not in a big hurry for that phase of life J

It is an understatement to say that each of us is shaped to a great extent by the relationship we have with our father (or father figure). Bill, Tammy’s dad, has taught me several things, and among them was how to tie my tie… so each Sunday morning when my tie is crooked you know who to blame, just kidding J My dad taught me a lot about life growing up, and he instilled in me a strong work-ethic.

Equally true is that we are shaped by being fathers! My boys have taught me more about myself personally, and life, than I could’ve ever imagined! I think our sense of self-worth and self-esteem is rooted in our belief in how we think our dad sees us, and as grown men, in our belief we have what it takes to make it on our own as a dad.

I know this much: A good father provides more than a roof over your head or food on your table. He prepares you for this life and the life to come. Tammy and I share three guiding-parental-priorities while raising our boys: 1. That they are responsible. 2. That they are independent. 3rd, That they are spiritually mature. Everything else is secondary.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June 14th: Celebration!

Dear Life group hosts and leaders:

We are planning an end of the season Life Group celebration for June 14th immediately following the morning worship services. We are asking if one member from each life group could please contact the members of your life group and for all of them to please bring:

1 - 2 2 liters (if bringing cans please put in a cooler with ice)

1 Choice of: potato or green salad (please bring the dressing for it) or cole slaw. Enough to feed about 12 people.

****If you have another salad that is your specialty, that would be fine as well ;-)

Rolls about 12

Feel Free to bring a dessert as well.......

Chicken will be provided as the main entrée.

We are meeting at Shelter 12 at the Eastman Recreational Facilities on Bays Mountain after morning services. We have the shelter until 4 pm, so we would recommend bringing the dish and drinks to the church along with clothes to 'play' in, especially if you live too far away to stop at your home after church. We are hoping to play games, so bring any outdoor games, balls, mitts, volleyball nets, etc...

If you are unable to contact the members of your group, please let us know who we can contact. Also, please email Nanette or myself with the numbers of people going from your group and if we need to supplement any food (many out of towners, etc..). Below is a list of the people we have listed in your group, if there are any corrections or additions, please let us know. We tried to delegate the food evenly between groups with these numbers in mind.

Remember, we are inviting the entire church, and we (the Life Groups) are the hosts. We are looking forward to a great time of fellowship, encouragement and fun!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Season's end?

The Lifegroups have officially or technically ended for the summer.  We typically have small groups from the Sunday after Labor day, till the Sunday before Memorial day.   So, here we are.

I know there are some groups that are grieving the conclusion of Lifegroups, esp after an abbreviated season.  Some folks, even in our group, are eager to continue through the summer.  I personally wouldn't want to take a break from meeting in homes, fellowshipping and studying together...   The reality is, like fish, after a while company begins to stink :-)   As a practice, we've taken summer breaks to keep the host homes and the lifegroup leaders refreshed and ready for a new season.

So... if your group does continue to meet over the summer, keep in consideration how to help your host family out.  Rotate your location.  Meet at the park.  Shake it up.  Also, don't feel like you'll have to meet weekly.  Go every other week, or monthly through the summer.

It is greatly encouraging to hear that sooooo many people don't want to stop for the summer.  That says something wonderful is happening.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Click here for a printer-frinedly version of the 5/17/09 outline

Lifegroup map 5/17/09 “You are what you eat” John 6:35-59

Please choose any One of the following Ice breakers:

(Everyone doesn’t have to answer the same one… pick the one you like!)

  • What is your response when you are being tailgated?

  • Does looking out your window generate creativity or distraction?

  • How do you try to talk your way out of speeding tickets?

  • If you are superstitious, which superstitions influence you the most?

  • Do you really read the Church bulletin???

Life exploration time: Read out-loud John 6:35-59

~ What are the indications here that Jesus is actually referring to what we commonly call “The Lord’s Supper”?

~ According to Jesus in this passage, how often do we need to eat & drink His body & blood?

~ What term (Ritual, rite, ceremony, ect.) best describes the Lord’s Supper in your opinion?

~ Why is the eating of Jesus’ body and the drinking of His blood a requirement for our salvation?

~ Read Jn 6:51-54. How do you distinguish yourself by observing this?

~ How many people need to be gathered together in one place to be able to properly take Communion?

~ Read Jn 6:42. How do you personally avoid the same type of pitfall; i.e., what you already know about Jesus interfering with what you need to know?

~ Read Jn 6:47. How is taking the Lord’ Supper an act of faith?

~ What should we think about when we take Communion?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mother's day:

Lifegroup leaders, there's no outline planned for this week.  I assumed most groups would not meet this week with it being Mother's day and all.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When Bibles make headlines... look out!

I'm cutting/pasting an article I read on a US soldier's stash of Bibles being destroyed, apparently by the orders of the US chaplains...  I really can't believe that we can send our troops to a nation that commits them to a temporary battle, and not expect our outstanding young people to share a life giving message???  Really.  If they are willing to fight an earthy battle and willingly pay the ultimate price, it only makes sense that these soldiers should have the right to share their core beliefs.  It seems a little one-sided for the Afghans to have us fight for them to have a better future, and yes to help protect the entire world from terrorism, and yet not allow us to share the reason we think the world can even achieve peace... Terrorism is ultimately about a fight between good and evil, and the way we overcome this battle, is in winning the hearts of people to the Prince of Peace.  So I commend the congregation that sent the Bibles, and the young people who were willing to distribute the Bibles.


KABUL (Reuters) - Bibles in Afghan languages sent to a U.S. soldier at a base in Afghanistan were confiscated and destroyed to ensure that troops did not breach regulations which forbid proselytizing, a military spokeswoman said.

The U.S. military has denied its soldiers tried to convert Afghans to Christianity, after Qatar-based Al Jazeera television showed soldiers at a bible class on a base with a stack of bibles translated into the local Pashto and Dari languages.

U.S. Central Command's General Order Number 1 forbids troops on active duty -- including all those based in Iraq and Afghanistan -- from trying to convert people to another religion.

"I can now confirm that the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera's clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed," spokeswoman Major Jennifer Willis said at Bagram air base, north of Kabul.

Military officials have said the bibles were sent through private mail to an evangelical Christian soldier by his church back home. The soldier brought them to the bible study class where they were filmed.

Trying to convert Muslims to another faith is a crime in Afghanistan. An Afghan man who converted to Christianity was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2006 but was allowed to leave the country after an international uproar.

"It certainly is, from the United States military's perspective, not our position to ever push any specific kind of religion, period," chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told a Pentagon briefing Monday.

(Reporting by Peter Graff)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Click here for printerfriendly outline for 5/3/09

Lifegroup map 5/3/09  “Will work for food”  John 6:1-15


Please choose any One of the following Ice breakers:

(Everyone doesn’t have to answer the same one… pick the one you like!)

·        What would you like to give away, that belongs to someone else?

·        How important is spending time with your family, to you?

·        Finish this sentence: “The problem with pirates is… ___________”


Life exploration time:  Read out-loud John 6:16-34


~ In Jn 6:16-21 John records where Jesus walks on the water.   How would you have responded to seeing Jesus, if you were one of the people in the boat?


~ In Jn 6:26, Jesus seems somewhat disappointed when He points out the real reason the people are seeking Him is because He recently fed them.  In reality, from time-to-time we all have similar self-centered, shallow motivations that push us toward Jesus… 

-Why is it hard for us to see/admit this self-centeredness in ourselves??


~ How do we “use” food to influence people today (Example: Pharmacy reps brining lunch into the doctor’s office to promote their product, business lunches to win favor with clients, church members inviting visitors/guests out for lunch after a worship service)?


~ In what ways do you see our contemporary “use” of food being inappropriate, and, in what ways is this appropriate to you?


~ What is the point Jesus is making in Jn 6:27 when He says not to labor for that which is perishable?


~ Why do people overly-focus on the here-and-now and disregard/ignore the reality of the afterlife?



Personal reflection:

Lifegroups are taking a break soon….  What will I miss about lifegroups over the summer?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Click here for the 4/26/09 printerfriendly outline

Lifegroup map 4/26/09

If you feed them they will come, really?” John 6:1-15

Please choose any One of the following Ice breakers:

(Everyone doesn’t have to answer the same one… pick the one you like!)

  • If you were to write a book, what would you title it?

  • Who was your best-friend growing up?

  • Which is better: Fed Ex, or UPS?

Life exploration time: Read out-loud John 6:1-15

~ How do you feel about Jesus “testing” Philip (see Jn 6:5-6)?

~ How do you like it when you feel like God is testing you?

~ Where can we apply this story of feeding people in our life?

~ Since we today as followers of Jesus aren’t too surprised by this miracle (were kind of use to it…) What does surprise you in this passage?

~ What do you suppose Jesus did once He withdrew by Himself (JN 6:15)?

Personal reflection:

Jesus refused to be conformed into their image of an earthly King. Am I pressing Jesus into my image more than I’m being formed into His image????

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Who's the real winner?

Perez Hilton (who I never even heard of before this week) was one of the judges of this year’s Miss USA pageant.  The event was narrowed down to five finalists when he asked Miss California a question about her views on States authorizing same-sex marriage.  Legalizing that type of union has polarized Americans along political parties for years; so the question wasn’t all that profound.  Hilton, inspired by Vermont’s recent legislative blunder, obviously asked the question to sabotage Miss California (Carrie Prejean), based on his lambasting her afterward on his blog...  By the way, Miss NC Kristen Dalton won the title, but so far no one on the news seems to remember her. 


The news industry has interviewed Miss Cal multiple times this week, at length, on her choice to not compromise her values and the subsequent cost she has paid.  I personally didn’t see the pageant, but I have seen a few of her news interviews.  Miss Cal has consistently made impressive remarks such as: she felt God leading her, God testing her, and she needed to represent the majority of people in America by being Biblically accurate.


The truth is, you and I can’t buy that much time on cable-news to share our faith!  Miss Cal has lost the Miss USA title, more than likely, for not compromising her values.  Who’s the real winner?  God is.  There are millions of people, now, who have heard the convictions of a beauty queen, that otherwise wouldn’t have reflected on God’s perspective.


The late Keith Green wrote an incredible song “Make my life a prayer” that begins with these words: “Make my life a prayer to You, I wanna do what You want me to.  No empty words and no white lies.  No token prayers no compromise…”  Whether or not Miss Cal is familiar with that song, she knows the point.


The publicity stunt Mr. Hilton tried to pull off by asking his loaded question reminds of the end of the book of Genesis.  Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers as a youth, eventually becomes 2nd in command of the nation of Egypt.  Decades later Joseph is reunited with his family because the sever famine in the land drives them to Egypt to purchase food...  After their father Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers feel the need to conspire together once more.  They think Joseph will be vindictive and seek retribution.  So, they lie.  They tell Joseph that Jacob left them with instructions for Joseph, namely don’t hold anything from the past against them…. 


Joseph weeps.  He is visibly hurt by their underhanded deceit.  He then reveals that their evil, malicious, selfish intent, was actually used by God.  15 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died, 17 ‘Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” (Gen 50:15-21, ESV)


So, Mr. Hilton, your plan actually… it worked.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

click here for printer-friendly version of 4/19/09 outline

Lifegroup map 4/19/09 “What are you looking for, really?” John 5:30-46

Please choose any One of the following Ice breakers:

(Everyone doesn’t have to answer the same one… pick the one you like!)

  • What PC/internet game are you most addicted to???

  • Share the last time you tried something new in your faith.

  • Do you “twitter” online?

Life exploration time: Read out-loud John 5:30-46

~ What seems to be the major disagreement/contention, in this passage, that Jesus has with His audience?

~ It’s not always the easiest thing to do, to consistently apply the Bible accurately today as we weigh-out the meaning of God’s commands: Which instructions were temporary, or what ones are eternal...

i.e., grasping what was written only for them back then/what is always Biblically true for us today.

  • How do you avoid “picking & choosing” when you read the Bible?

~ Read JN 5:38-40.

  • What is Jesus pointing out by bringing up their absence of having the Word abiding/dwelling in them?

  • Why did their method of study/search of the Scriptures fall short?

  • How could they have read the Bible so thoroughly, systematically, and meticulously, and yet rejected Jesus?

~ How could these people have been such strict students of the Word, sincerely attempting to be faithful to interpreting the Word of God, but not have God’s love (see JN 5:42)?

Personal Reflection time:

What steps am I personally taking to avoid the mistake of habitual vain/futile/inept Bible Study habits?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

No lifegroup outline for this week... but

This week most of our Lifegroups are not going to meet.  Some people will be out of town visiting with their extended families, dozens of NE folks will be too groggy after the Lads to Leaders convention... and then some people will simply be home quietly celebrating with their family.

I guess this a long way of saying there's no plan to prepare an outline for group this week.
Well, what if our group decides to meet anyway?  What can we talk about?
Here's a few topics that might generate some discussion (after you read the Resurrection account, in one of the Gospels, together):
1. What is the attraction to an Easter service for people that typically avoid "church"?
2. How has the Resurrection of Jesus shaped my view of reality?
3. The Resurrection was revealed within a community setting, and to be shared publicly.  Why would anyone attempt to celebrate the Resurrection apart from a community of believers?
4.  Finish this sentence, "Since there is future Resurrection of all people __________...." 

Wherever you find yourself this Sunday I hope that the deeper meaning of the Easter story brightens your day, and God's live giving love shines through whatever darkness this world throws your way!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Click here for a printer-friendly version of the 4/5/09 outline

Lifegroup map 4/5/09  “House of Mercy”  John 5:1-18


Please choose any One of the following Ice breakers:

(Everyone doesn’t have to answer the same one… pick the one you like!)

·        Explain how you’d come up with better Icebreakers than Craig’s…

·        Which is the most important ministry a Church can provide?

·        Did anyone pull-off a good “April fool’s” joke on you this past week?


Life exploration time:  Read out-loud John 5:1-18


Summary of JN 5:1-18

Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem for an unnamed Jewish religious feast (there were three main festivals all Jewish males were required to attend annually in the OT).  Jesus appears near the sheep gate where the pool of Bethesda is.  There’s an ancient, near-mythological, story of an angel healing the 1st person to enter the water whenever the angel stirs up the water.  Jesus miraculously heals a completely helpless man who has been immobilized for 38 years… on the Sabbath, and incurs the ire of the Jews because of their extra-biblical regard for Sabbath regulations.  BTW: Bethesda literally means “House of Mercy.”  Jesus equates Himself with God as He identifies Himself as God’s Son; this is then considered grounds for killing Jesus by the Jews. 


~ What would it feel like to YOU to be completely helpless for 38 years, and, how would that affect a person?


~ Why do you suppose Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed?


~ Explain why Jesus instructs this particular man in JN 5:14 not to sin?


~ From 5:7 & 5:13 the man (#1.) wasn’t expecting Jesus to heal him, and (#2.) he didn’t know who Jesus was.  Jesus still takes a risk and heals him on (#3.) the Sabbath day.  Why do you think Jesus heals this man despite these three particular circumstances?


~ How can we as followers of God avoid such attitudes and the type of mistakes the Jews in this story made?  (Mistakes such as prioritizing rules over people, misunderstanding God, and being contrarian towards God.)  After all—these Jews were well-intentioned & thought they were honoring God!


Personal reflection:

Am I really introducing people to God… more than I’m potentially interfering with their connecting with God?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

click here for the printer-friendly version of the 3/29/09 outline

Lifegroup map 3/29/09 “Magnified Motivation” John 4:43-54

Please choose any One of the following Ice breakers:

(Everyone doesn’t have to answer the same one… pick the one you like!)

  • Finish this sentence: “America’s current economic crisis… ___________”

  • How do you deal with times of uncertainty?

  • What was your favorite family pet when you were growing up?

Life exploration time: Read out-loud John 4:43-54

Brief note: This official who approaches Jesus traveled at least 14 miles to ask Jesus to heal his son. This father would’ve more than likely exhausted every/all/several resources prior to taking a chance on Jesus:

  • He would’ve had access to the finest physicians.

  • He also had the financial resources, being a royal authority, to seek any other potential alternatives.

Keep in mind that even with all of the privileges/benefits of his powerful position, the father’s desperation/urgency prompted him to seek out Jesus, apparently, as a last resort. Yet, Jesus not only helps this Gentile family physically, the end result is a spiritual healing too!

~ In Jn 4:43-44. Consider and discuss which town John refers to.

Is this an implication that the Samaritan town, Sychar, is His hometown; if not why not?

~ Jn 4:48-50.

  • Why does Jesus seem frustrated?

  • Why doesn’t this “frustration” deter the father?

  • What’s the actual reassurance (if any) he gets from Jesus?

~ Jn 4:50-53. Share your thoughts regarding the father’s quest for a physical healing for his son but unintentionally/unexpectedly ends up finding faith and believes in Jesus…

- Also, what implications exist for us today in light of this twist of events?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Click here for the printer-friendly version of the 3/22/09 outline

Lifegroup map 3/22/09 “Ripe” John 4:27-45

Please choose any One of the following Ice breakers:

(Everyone doesn’t have to answer the same one… pick the one you like!)

  • What flowers/vegetables do you plan on planting this spring?

  • How do you choose a translation of the Bible?

  • On a scale 1 to 10, 10 being extreme… how stressed are you tonight?

Life exploration time: Read out-loud John 4:27-45

~ Why do you suppose the disciples refrained themselves (JN 4:27) from questioning Jesus about His conversation with the woman at the well???

~ What is the significance (symbolic or not) of the woman leaving her water jar in Jn 4:28?

~ How do you feel about the Samaritan woman being an active and effective evangelist 4:28-29 & 4:39…

in light of the fact that she is living a sinful lifestyle?

~ Read Jn 4:34. What is the work that Jesus has in mind?

AND, In what sense is God’s work unfinished/incomplete?

~ Why is it essential we open our eyes & really “see” (4:35)?

~Based on 4:35-42, what all is necessary for evangelism to take place?

~ Have we overlooked anything in this passage that you’d like to discuss?

Personal reflection:

The neglected “ripe harvest” ends up wasted… Am I laboring in and reaping God’s harvest the way Jesus really wants me to?