Discussion Questions

As I stated last week, I’m getting back in the habit of posting the small group discussion questions here at the blog.    I was moved by last Sunday’s sermon.  Click here for a video replay of the whole service from last Sunday, or for an audio file of the sermon.  Or click here for Marty’s blog.  It’s a good read.  This week, he blogged on a topic he adresses in the sermon.   That topic is the practice of being a genocrit.  It’s an ugly word that Marty made up, but there’s a real truth behind the ugliness of this word.

At any rate, here’s the questions:

1.   As you may know, the current sermon series is called “30 Days to Live.” It’s based on the premise that if we found out that we only have 30 days to live, we might begin to live very differently.  In week 1 of this series, Marty discussed the idea of living in the moment.  In week 2 of this series, he discussed the idea that we might experience God’s peace.  At the beginning of the sermon, Marty mentioned the idea that today’s topic is not as easy or “fun” as these first two topics.  The question, though, is this:

Can we fully live in the moment if we aren’t looking at the topic of giving correctly?  Can we fully experience God’s peace if we aren’t looking at the topic of giving correctly?

2.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you feel that you’re doing in the area of giving?  There are many aspects to giving that are worth considering: giving financially, giving of our time, treasure, talents, affection; giving to the church, giving to other nonprofit organizations, giving to friends and family in need.  What beliefs were you raised with, about giving?   Do you still hold onto these beliefs?

3.  Consider the principle “When you see things as God sees them, you will act in the ways that God acts.”   Can you think of anytimes in your life when you didn’t act in a Godly way because you weren’t looking at things in a Godly way?  Is there anybody in your life right now who fits this description?  Is there any aspects of your own life right now, that you’re challenged to act in a Godly manner?  Is it possible that this challenge results from a failure to see things in a Godly manner?

4.  As individuals, in the world, and even in the church, we sometimes act like we believe that the more money someone has, the more valuable they are.  Why is this belief so widespread?  What can we do as individuals and as a group to combat this belief?

5.  Had you noticed the problem that Marty mentioned: the idea that sometimes the church teaches the wrong thing about money?  What examples have you seen that we often look at money is a value issue, not an ownership issue?  How would your spending habbits change if you really internalized the truth that God owns all of “our” stuff?

6.  What do you think of the idea that confession can be more than just admitting our faults?  What do you think of the idea that confession can be a promise to God of the ways we will act?

7.  Consider the confession “I will guard against materialism”  How are you doing in this area?  What specific steps can you take– as individuals or as a group– to get better in this area?

8.  Consider the confession “I will be genorous”  How are you doing in this area?  What specific steps can you take– as individuals or as a group– to get better in this area?

9.  Consider the confession “I will focus on what matters”  How are you doing in this area?  What specific steps can you take– as individuals or as a group– to get better in this area?

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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