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Alicia Human

Unsensibly Sensible. Those Who Hunger and Thirst? – 7.28.19 – Heather Dellamater

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At some point in our lives, we have heard talk of a “heart healthy diet”. It is the call to healthy living by making better food choices.  Everyone understands what it means to have a food craving but what happens to our bodies when we indulge too often? Too many unhealthy choices can wreak havoc on our bodies. 
 
We have all heard the cliché, “You are what you eat.” Labels on food products are helpful in discerning how to make the right choices.  When it comes to our spiritual health, the Bible gives us a lot of help. In the Beatitudes, Jesus is telling us who are the blessed. There are certain characteristics of these blessed people. But, why would we want to hunger and thirst for righteousness? Join Heather Dellamater this Sunday as she helps us see  that if what goes into our bodies is a reflection of our physical health, our hunger for other things is an indicator of our spiritual health. 

No Small Group Questions this week.

Unsensibly Sensible. The Meek?. – 7.21.19 – Rob Pilant

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Unesnisebly Sensible is such a great way to describe Jesus’ teaching of how to live a supernatural life, right here and right now. In this world, we are taught that power is everything, but Jesus sees things quite differently! Jesus says His way is the key to a blessed life!

Small Group Questions

  • Share a story about someone you knew who had great potential but never lived up to it? What kept them from fulfilling their potential? Share a story about someone who did live up to their potential? What is the difference between these two people?
  • Please read Matthew 5:5. A simple definition of Meekness is power under control or self-control. How has self-control been a struggle for someone you know who’s not doing well in life? How has self-control been a struggle for you?
  • In Judges 13-16, we read the story of Samson. When you remember the story of Samson, what things stand out? What was Samson’s downfall (get specific)? Dream together for a couple of minutes of what Samson could have been if he had learned self-control.
  • Where in your life do you need self-control? Do you have help? Who is or could help you with that area of your life? Who are you letting coach you about how to live your life well? What will your life look like if you don’t keep control over your power?

Download Small Group Questions here.

What We Need To Know — The Gospel

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“Burn, Baby, Burn!!!” Okay, so the preacher never actually said that. He told all of us at church that day if we didn’t admit our sins, beg for forgiveness, and ask Christ into our hearts, we would spend eternity burning in hell. From the twinkle he had in his eye, it sure seemed like he was way too excited about the thought of us burning! And I have to admit, it was effective. That day as a four year old boy, I knew I was a sinner and would burn unless I got some Jesus in my life. So I confessed my sins (which took a long time even though I was only 4!), begged for forgiveness, and asked Christ into my heart. But, I have to wonder if that preacher might have missed the point. For years, I spent my spiritual time preparing for heaven, and by that, I mean preparing for after this life is over; my focus was completely on life after death. That’s when everything would be perfect with no more sin, pain, suffering and death. I was so looking forward to getting outta here. In fact, many times I questioned why God didn’t go ahead and just take me “home” ‘cause that would have been a whole lot easier than messing with this world. It made perfect sense to me with the understanding of the gospel (the good news of Jesus) that I was given as a child. But that is not the whole gospel.

If I were asked to describe the good news of Jesus today, I would use much different terms than I would have 20 years ago. It would probably go something like this:
The Good News about Jesus is that He is for us. Each one of us living on planet earth is frustrated and, to at least some extent, making it up as we go along. We are trying to convince both ourselves and everyone else that we are actually good people and have a good handle on how to live this life. But deep inside ourselves, we know something is desperately wrong. We are missing something that is essential to us being complete. In fact, we are in a search for completeness, but everything that we go searching for leaves us eventually feeling empty. These things that we use to make us “complete” might work for a while, but they cannot fill the void in our souls. We are designed for something more and created to be something so much more. The only thing that will complete us is the thing that is most foreign to our natures: to admit that there is nothing we can do to fill ourselves. We are dependent on someone else to do that for us. We are dependent on someone else to complete us, to make us whole, to give us the essence of life. That person is Jesus. We don’t like this idea because it means we have to surrender control of our lives to someone else, and we love to believe we are in control. We are even happy to just pretend we are in control until we can’t any longer because it has become obvious that we are on a path of self-destruction. We are on a path that is leading to a head on collision with reality, and the results will be the absolute destruction of our souls, leaving us in a place of desolation, isolation, and despondency. BUT (and this is the good news), Jesus hasn’t given up on us. Even though we have rejected Him and His ways repeatedly, even though we have betrayed Him time and again, He loving and passionately pursues us to bring hope. He brings us hope in Himself. He has come to set us free, to give us life! He is for us! He gave His life to make us whole. He gave His life to give us life. And it’s not something we have to wait to experience until life after death. We can experience His life now! He gives our life purpose, meaning, joy and peace, in the midst of all the crap this world is throwing at us. He is our rock and, when we stand on Him, the storms of this world are transformed from hurricanes to afternoon sprinkles. Jesus calls out to each and everyone of us, “Come, follow me! My burden is easy, and my yoke is light.”

The gospel I heard as a child left me praying I had done everything right with my prayer of repentance. The gospel I know today leaves me inspired to become and do everything God has prepared for me to become and do. This gospel gives me life. Everyone needs a place where they can experience the true good news of Jesus.

Unsensibly Sensible. Poor in Spirit. – 7.7.19 – Rob Pilant

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This Sunday, we start a brand new series called Unsensibly Sensible. The tension you get from hearing that title is the same kind of tension I think each of us feels when we hear Jesus’ teaching of the Beautitudes. They are so counterintuitive. They seem so radical and opposed to our natural inclinations. How can they be right? How can this be the best way to live? I want to show you how they are not only right but how living without these “beatitudes” will lead to so so much heartache and disappointment.

Small Group Questions

  • When you think of the “beatitudes” what comes to mind? What does it mean to you to be “blessed”?
  • Please read Matthew 5:3. What does that mean to you? What do you think would be the opposite of being “poor in spirit”?
  • Please take a minute and walk through the story of Nebuchadnezzar from Daniel 1-4. Which parts of the story jump out to you? How do you think you would have handled having all of the success and power that Nebuchadnezzar had? Is his success what was wrong in this story? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • Nebuchadnezzar attributed all of his success to himself. How can you make sure you don’t follow suit? Where are you pretending to be god in your own life? Is it working? Will it continue to work? What needs to change?

Download Small Group Questions here.

Reality Check. Legacy. – 6.30.19 – Rob Pilant

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This Sunday, we come to the end of David’s life, and he leaves us with his last words. His words do not have power because he is dying. They have power because of how he lived. David gives us the keys to living in the midst of the drama, while keeping a God-like heart.

Small Group Questions

  • What have you loved most in learning about David’s life? What new thing did you learn about David? What is your opinion of David now?
  • Please read 2 Samuel 23:1-7. What are your first impressions of this poem written by David? What does David reflect on? What advice does David give? What warning does David give?
  • If you died today, what would people say about you? What makes you believe that? Is that what you want people to say of you? What is David’s legacy?
  • What do you want your legacy to be? Please take time to write down three to five things you would love people to remember you by? What steps would you have to take to make that true?

Download Small Group Questions here.

Reality Check. Family is Messy. – 6.23.19 – Rob Pilant

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I’m excited for this Sunday because we are watching how David dealt with the messy, complicated world of family. Family is so important but so hard. How do we live out a life of peace and joy with a real family?

Small Group Questions

  • What makes family so great? What makes family so awful? How does it make you feel when one of your family has gone off the deep end? How do you respond?
  • On Sunday we covered 2 Samuel 13-19. Which part of David’s story in how he dealt with his son Absalom really catches your attention? What did David do right? What did David do wrong? Do you find it’s difficult to truly judge whether David’s actions were right or wrong? If so, why?
  • In 2 Samuel 14:32-33, we see restoration happen between David and Absalom. David had brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. How did Absalom respond? How did David respond to Absalom? How does this reveal the why God loves David’s heart so much?
  • This restoration moment is not the end of the story. Absalom would rebel again. How do you deal with family who can’t seem to learn their lesson? What does love require of you in a situation like this? How would David handle your situation or better yet, how would God?

Download Small Group Questions here.

Reality Check. The Most Important Sunday. – 6.16.19 – Rob Pilant

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This is probably going to be the most important Sunday of this year. What we are talking about from the life of David is probably the most important message each of us needs to hear, and it’s not one of judgement but of love.

Small Group Questions

  • When you hear these two names, “David & Bathsheba”, what comes to mind? Take it a step further, what emotions come to the surface? Why?
  • Someone please tell the story of David, Bathsheba, Nathan and the sheep from 2 Samuel 11 & 12. Which parts of the story really jumps out at you? How do you think David felt when Nathan revealed the truth of the analogy to him? How is David’s reaction different than many people’s would have been?
  • How should we respond to God when our guiltiness has been revealed? Why do we struggle to do that? Why do we make so many excuses?
  • We don’t like to say we’re sorry and ask forgiveness, but if we will ask God for forgiveness, He will give it. Do you believe God will forgive you? Do you believe that when God forgives you, He really forgives you? Knowing of God’s love for you and the forgiveness He offers, how should that change your life?

Download Small Group Questions here.

Reality Check. Not Just Warm Fuzzies. – 6.9.19 – Rob Pilant

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This Sunday, we continue our series called, Reality Check, where we are learning from David what it looks like to live the “Jesus life” in the midst of all the drama that life throws at us. This week is one of those warm, fuzzy moments in David’s dramatic life, but there’s a twist! It’s one we all face, and, to be honest, I think it trips us up a lot! Hear about the twist and how
best to deal with it in your life!

Small Group Questions

  • What’s the kindest thing you’ve done for someone? What made it so special? Have you ever had someone do something like that for you? How did it make you feel?
  • Please read 2 Samuel 9:1-13. What kind of feelings are evoked in you when you read this passage? What do you believe David’s motivation was for being kind to Mephibosheth? Why does this kindness not make sense?
  • Outrageous generosity and compassion are hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry. Please read Luke 26-37. What do you think is the emphasis behind Jesus’ seemingly irrational perspective on how to treat people including your enemies? What are the dangers of living Jesus’ way? What are the potentials?
  • Living Jesus’ way puts people above everything else. How are you putting people above everything else in your life? What aspects of your life tend to push people to a secondary importance? What needs to change in your life?

Download Small Group Questions here.

Emotional Intelligence: Active Listening

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Hallmark movies, fishing TV, and cooking shows…What do they have in common? They are on the absolute bottom of my “want-to-watch” list! I just don’t get them! Hallmark movies are the sappy, make you want to cry drama. Yuck! Fishing TV, really? It’s boring enough fishing in person when nothing is biting! And then cooking shows: I don’t care how you made it; I just want to eat it!

Now that I’ve made everyone mad at me, let me get to my point: we are all very different. We have different interests, concerns, perspectives, ambitions, passions, upbringings, wiring, personalities, loves, political persuasions, interests, and beliefs. And that’s just for starters! So how in the world are we supposed to get along with one another, let alone communicate with one another? That is the question we must answer if we are to accomplish the dream God has given us to make A Place For Everyone. To make this a place for everyone, we have to be very diligent in understanding everyone.

On the last post, I shared how important it is that each of us exercises Emotional Intelligence (EQ). The first part of that is discovering who you are. Hopefully, you took the time to take the assessment and learn a little more about yourself. But after you learn about yourself, now you’ve got to start learning about others. The best way I’ve found to actually learn and understand others is a practice called Active Listening. Here’s the Wikipedia definition of Active Listening: a technique that is used in counseling, training, and solving disputes or conflicts; it requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said. Now, your first impression of Active Listening might be similar to mine, which is that seems like a lot of work, and you’re absolutely right. It means we truly have to care about the other person enough that we listen to understand. We ask questions that are open-ended. We set aside our agendas and allow our interests to take second chair to the interests of the other person. We hold back our instincts to judge and seek to learn about this amazing creation of God that sits or stands right in front of us. We care. After all, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

By the way, this isn’t some sales tactic, at least not for us followers of Jesus. This is us truly caring about God’s son or daughter. When we take the time to truly learn about someone and why he/she sees the world the way he/she does, I believe we will find less judgement in our hearts and a whole lot more compassion. Funny, that sure seems like something Jesus would do.

Here’s the challenge I’ll throw out for us. Find someone who’s in your circle of influence who seems to have a different take on reality than you do. You know, someone who probably annoys you a little. Take some time to Actively Listen and learn what that person is all about. It could change everything in your relationship with him/her.

For us to accomplish our dream to create A Place For Everyone, people are going to need some Life-Giving Relationships, and it just might mean you are the one who is supposed to be providing that relationship for this amazing person God designed and created.