Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25-September 1

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Aug 25: Lam 1:1-3:36
Aug 26: Lam 3:37-5:22
Aug 27: Ezek 1-4
Aug 28: Ezek 5-8
Aug 29: Ezek 9-12
Aug 30: Ezek 13-15
Aug 31: Ezek 16-17
Sep 1: Ezek 18-19

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 21 Sermon: Why Work Matters

Why Work Matters

Opening reflection: Is your work a means to an end? Is it a way of getting from A to B? What is that end—what is point A and what is point B in your life? Why do you go to work every day? Would you still go to work if you won the lottery? Is some work more important than others, in your eyes? What about in God’s eyes?

Review Proverbs 11:1, 20:23, and 16:11. What qualities does God seek in our work? Why does God care about our scales? (And, incidentally, how might you “translate” these verses into your specific job?)

Review Proverbs 22:22-29. Whose side is God on in these verses? What does he look for in our work? What sort of work does he value? Is it only the “morals” we abide by in our work that God values? Why/why not?

Review Proverbs 31:13-31. List all the traits of a godly worker or godly work you see here. What makes this woman’s work valuable? What makes it useful? Review Ryan’s observations here—that work with a purpose shows (restored) humanity, stewards power, and serves people. Where do you see evidence of these ideas in the text?

Finally, return to your opening reflections. Re-consider your initial responses in light of this sermon. Finally, what does Jesus’ mission have to do with your work?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18-25

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Aug 20: Habakkuk
Aug 21: Jer 41-45
Aug 22: Jer 46-48
Aug 23: Jer 49-50
Aug 24: Jer 51-52
Aug 25: Lam 1:1-3:36

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sermon Discussion: Anger

Read the following Proverbs and keep them in mind as you reflect on the sermon: 15:15, 12:16, 15:18, 19:19, 29:22
·         When was the last time you got angry or frustrated? What caused your anger? As you reflect on it, how did you feel about it afterwards—was it right or wrong? Did the anger lead to further emotion—like greater anger, sadness, etc.?
·         What does unrighteous anger lead to? What does it look like? What effect does it have on the angry person, and on the targets of that anger? What about relationships?
·         If you don’t express your anger, does it still have any external effect—any impact on relationships?
·         What effect does anger have on yourself? How/why?
·         If what’s wrong with anger is at least in part a lack of control, what are the opposite virtues to cultivate in contrast to anger?
·         How is patience freeing? (It may also help to reflect on the opposite: the effect anger has on freedom.) What does it free us from? What does it give us freedom to do?
·         What squelches anger?
·         What does Jesus’ response to facing God’s anger mean for us? How should it impact how we respond to anger—both our own and others?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11-18

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Aug 11: Jer 14-17
Aug 12: Jer 18-22
Aug 13: Jer 23-25
Aug 14: Jer 26-29
Aug 15: Jer 30-31
Aug 16: Jer 32-34
Aug 17: Jer 35-37

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 7 Sermon: A Risk Worth Taking

Why do people (including yourself, perhaps) so often shrink back from the idea of truthfulness? How would you define truthfulness if you were to do so from the viewpoint of someone fearful of the truth? From this viewpoint, what does truth lead to? What did Ryan say the truth leads to, according to Proverbs?

Why can it be said that the Christian life is one that is marked by claiming responsibility for one’s actions?

Prov. 28:13 and 12:19 suggest that truthfulness via confession leads to freedom. Has this been your experience? Mark Twain said that the beauty of telling the truth is that you don’t have to remember what you said—what does he mean by that? Is this a reliable saying, as far as the wisdom of the Bible goes? Is that all there is to say—what would you add to that?

Are there consequences to telling the truth? How should we react to these potential dangers of truthfulness?
What was your reaction the last time you saw someone succeeding at something you’ve struggled at? Why did you feel that way? How does Prov 15:4 speak to that mindset?

What is the difference between flattery and genuine praise? How does flattery “spread a net” under your neighbor’s feet (29:5)?

Consider the earlier questions regarding freedom and truth-telling in Prov. 26:23-24. How does deceit (and even flattery) have the opposite effect?

What sort of effect can truthfulness have in the world? See Prov. 14:25. How have you seen this played out in your experience?

Ryan said that to be a Christian is to identify yourself by your need (see point 1). What connections can you make between this kind of truthfulness and the truthfulness of Prov. 14:25? Why do you suppose this sermon was titled, "A Risk Worth Taking"?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sermon Questions: Why Pride Is Foolish

Sermon: Why Pride is Foolish
Pastor: Ryan Laughlin
Pride is rooted in a profound misunderstanding of who we are.
Consider this sentence. How would most people describe or define pride? Or its relationship to self-view? “Knowing who you are” seems to be an important value in our culture—why? How might this concept be understood differently within our culture from the quotation above?
Consider how the following verses expand on the quotation above: Prov. 26:12, 16:5, 3:5, 3:7, 27:1, 25:27, 27:2. How do they challenge, affirm, or expand on our understanding of pride and of who we are?
How does Prov. 30:2-4 expand on the quotation above? How does it point to a solution to the problem of pride?
                Ryan suggested going back to creation and to the cross to realize the wisdom of humility, as opposed to the competitive nature of pride. How do creation and the cross call us to humility? How do they help us understand who we are better?
Consider again your initial thoughts on how most people would define pride. How would they “solve” the problem of pride? How would you share with them from God’s wisdom?