Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Love that Made God Run

1) Read Luke 15:11-32. Ryan mentioned the discussion about the traditional title ("The Prodigal Son") and other suggestions ("The Parable of the two lost sons," etc.).  What new insights would a change of title offer you personally? 

2) Can you relate to the younger son's plan to return to his home and work off his debt?  How do we adopt similar strategies in our relationship with the Lord, particularly in our approach to God after we have sinned?

3) What keeps us from experiencing the full embrace of the God-who-runs-to us? Is it our pride? Our fear? Our shame? 

4) How is your view of God challenged by Jesus' depiction of the father in this story?  (Remember the various ways the father's actions are counter-cultural)

5) Tim Keller asserts that the elder brother is just as lost as the younger brother.  How is that true?  Can you relate to his lostness?  

6) How does thinking of this story in terms of a sexual sinner (the reckless younger brother) increase your appreciation for God's amazing grace? 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bring Me a Higher Love

Read Ephesians 5:1-14 together or individually, then discuss the following questions:

1) This passage indicates that God has a high opinion of us -- not because our lives merit such an opinion but because Jesus claims us as His own, bearing our sin and granting us His righteousness. Locate the various ways God expresses His opinion of us in this passage (for example, v. 1: we are God's "beloved children") and discuss how seeing ourselves in these ways encourages our personal holiness.  

2) In verse 5, Paul has strong words for the "sexually immoral."  Who is he talking about?  As Christians, how should we receive these words?  As a warning, an exhortation, or something else? 

3) What are some practical applications of God's high standard for our speech to be free of "filthiness" and "crude joking" (v. 4)?  Where do you find this sort of conversation -- at work? in your family? in movies? And how can we avoid participating in this sort of talk? 

4) What does Paul mean when he commands us to "walk as children of light" (v. 8)?  How do you need to accept this challenge and live differently than you are right now? 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Creation and Sex

1) One of the goals of this series -- both in what is said and how it is said -- is to communicate our need for other people in our God-glorifying efforts to live with integrity in our sexual lives.  As Dr. Winter said in Sunday School, "Isolation is the greatest enemy of healthy sexuality."  Why do you think honest relationships are so critical to dealing with these issues in particular?  Do you have people in your life who you can be completely honest with and vice versa?

2) What has your experience been in the church regarding the topic of sex?  Has it been addressed well or poorly?  Share those experiences.  If you could change the way the church talks about sex, what would you change?

3) Take 5 minutes to read Proverbs 5 individually.  What are your impressions of this fatherly advice to a son?  How is this wisdom applicable today -- to us? to our kids? to our church? 

4) How often, in your average day, do you and/or your family encounter messages about sex in popular media and advertisements?  Do these stand out to you or does it seem like background noise?

5) What do you think constitutes a healthy and balanced view of sex?  In what ways do we look to sex to give us what only Christ gives us?

6) How does God intend sex to establish and secure a marriage?  How does this ideal strike you (i.e. real, foreign, exciting, scary)?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Leisure Class

  1. Have you ever thought of your leisure time, not so much in terms of what you’re going to do with it, but rather, what it’s going to do to you?  How does answering the latter question change how we look at our free time?  How ought it change how we look at it?
  2. Psalm 103:5 tells us that God “satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.”  Do you struggle to believe this?  How would believing this change your outlook on the use of free time?
  3. What did you think of Ryan’s illustration about how the Guinness Family ran their business?  If we don’t work for businesses like these (which I imagine most of us don’t), what ways can we practically seek to prioritize rest?  What ways did Ryan suggest from scripture?
  4. Do you give yourself permission to enjoy God’s good gifts?  If not, why?  Also, seek to discuss this question in light of the following quote: “People used to play tennis; now they work on their backhand.”
  5. What’s one thing you can seek to implement in the next week or two that you could seek to enjoy during your leisure time?  What good gift of God would you like to find pleasure in, thereby giving God glory and finding rest in Him?