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Empowered (discussion questions)

Activate Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Empowered,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the third part of our series, “Activate,” where we are looking at what it means to be individual Christians and a local church set into motion by God’s power and presence for God’s work in the world.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When have you really felt that God was at work through you in the lives of others? What happened?
  1. This weekend at Eastbrook we continue our “Activate” series by looking at Acts 2:1-13. Take some time to pray, asking God to speak to you as you read His word.
  1. As we look at Acts 2, it is important to remember exactly what God was doing in the life of the early church. Read Luke 24:45-49 and Acts 1:4-9 again. What was it that the disciples were to do in light of Jesus’ words?
  1. As the disciples are waiting and in prayer, a loud sound and startling sights appear as they are filled with the Holy Spirit. What would you say is the significance of these sights and sounds? Why are these connected with the filling of the Holy Spirit?
  1. Because of the festival of Pentecost, many Jews and God-fearing Gentiles from around the Mediterranean have gathered in Jerusalem. Why do you think that the disciples are gifted with language along with the gift of the Holy Spirit? What does this signify and how does it begin to fulfill Jesus’ commission in Acts 1:7-8?
  1. Background: Pentecost is the Greek name for the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot, which occurs 50 days after the festival of Passover. The Feast of Weeks is described in Leviticus 23 in connection with the grain harvest and bringing the first fruits of the harvest to God as a thanksgiving offering. In later Jewish tradition, Pentecost is linked with the giving of the law to Moses and the people by God at Mount Sinai.
  1. Many biblical scholars also see a link between the Jewish festival of Pentecost as an offering of first fruits and the Holy Spirit’s empowerment for ministry. What do you think that connection might be?
  1. As the disciples move out from the upper room to speak to others, those gathered around them have a wide variety of responses. What are the responses? What sort of responses do you think we should expect when we step forward as witnesses of Jesus?
  1. How is God speaking to you about waiting for the Holy Spirit’s power in your life as a witness for Jesus? What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you? How might your life look different because of what you are considering with God? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Next week: We continue the “Activate” series by looking at Acts 2:14-47. Prepare for next week by reaidng this passage ahead of time.]

 

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Empowered

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we continued our series “Activate” by looking at the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit in the activated church and Christian from Acts 2:1-13. I began by highlighting four aspects of the significance of Pentecost in Acts 2, and followed that by looking at four ways in which the Holy Spirit activates the church and individual Christian life. The central theme was that the Holy Spirit is the personal presence of God in our lives, giving us power to join with God’s purposes in the world.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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William Borden – an activated Christian

WilliamBordenThis past weekend in my message, “Called,”the first part of our Activate series at Eastbrook Church, I mentioned the story of William Borden, whose short life is a powerful example of someone called to Jesus and His Kingdom, who then lives for the mission of God by the Holy Spirit’s power. Much of what I read was taken from an old missionary biography, Borden of Yale by Mrs. Howard Taylor (now out of print), but can also be accessed in Warren Wiersbe’s 50 People Every Christian Should Know.

Here’s an excerpt, but you can read the full story here.

     In 1904 William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school. As heir to the Borden family fortune, he was already wealthy. For his high school graduation present, his parents gave 16-year-old Borden a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world’s hurting people. Finally, Bill Borden wrote home about his “desire to be a missionary.”
One friend expressed disbelief that Bill was “throwing himself away as a missionary.”
In response, Borden wrote two words in the back of his Bible: “No reserves.”
Even though young Borden was wealthy, he arrived on the campus of Yale University in 1905 trying to look like just one more freshman. Very quickly, however, Borden’s classmates noticed something unusual about him and it wasn’t that he had lots of money. One of them wrote: “He came to college far ahead, spiritually, of any of us. He had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it. We who were his classmates learned to lean on him and find in him a strength that was solid as a rock, just because of this settled purpose and consecration.”
During his college years, Bill Borden made an entry in his personal journal that defined what his classmates were seeing in him. That entry said simply: “Say ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to Jesus every time.”

During his first semester at Yale, Borden started something that would transform campus life. One of his friends described how it began: “It was well on in the first term when Bill and I began to pray together in the morning before breakfast. I cannot say positively whose suggestion it was, but I feel sure it must have originated with Bill. We had been meeting only a short time when a third student joined us and soon after a fourth. The time was spent in prayer after a brief reading of Scripture. Bill’s handling of Scripture was helpful. . . . He would read to us from the Bible, show us something that God had promised and then proceed to claim the promise with assurance.”
Borden’s small morning prayer group gave birth to a movement that soon spread across the campus. By the end of his first year, 150 freshman were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By the time Bill Borden was a senior, one thousand of Yale’s 1,300 students were meeting in such groups.

Borden’s outreach ministry was not confined to the Yale campus. He cared about widows and orphans and the disabled. He rescued drunks from the streets of New Haven. To try to rehabilitate them, he founded the Yale Hope Mission. One of Bill Borden’s friends wrote that he “might often be found in the lower parts of the city at night, on the street, in a cheap lodging house or some restaurant to which he had taken a poor hungry fellow to feed him, seeking to lead men to Christ.”

Borden’s missionary call narrowed to the Muslim Kansu people in China. Once he fixed his eyes on that goal, Borden never wavered. He also challenged his classmates to consider missionary service. One of them said of him: “He certainly was one of the strongest characters I have ever known, and he put backbone into the rest of us at college. There was real iron in him, and I always felt he was of the stuff martyrs were made of, and heroic missionaries of more modern times.”
Although he was a millionaire, Bill seemed to “realize always that he must be about his Father’s business, and not wasting time in the pursuit of amusement.” Although Borden refused to join a fraternity, “he did more with his classmates in his senior year than ever before.” He presided over the huge student missionary conference held at Yale and served as president of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa.
Upon graduation from Yale, Borden turned down some high-paying job offers. In his Bible, he wrote two more words: “No retreats.”
William Borden went on to do graduate work at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey. When he finished his studies at Princeton, he sailed for China. Because he was hoping to work with Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.
When the news of William Whiting Borden’s death was cabled back to the U.S., the story was carried by nearly every American newspaper. “A wave of sorrow went round the world . . . Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice” wrote Mary Taylor in her introduction to his biography.
Was Borden’s untimely death a waste? Not in God’s perspective. Prior to his death, Borden had written two more words in his Bible. Underneath the words “No reserves” and “No retreats,” he had written: “No regrets.”

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Biography

 

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Called (discussion questions)

Activate Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Called,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the first part of our series, “Activate,” where we are looking at what it means to be individual Christians and a local church set into motion by God’s power and presence for God’s work in the world.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When have you felt most energized in your life with God? What was going on and what lead you to that place?
  2. Following our exploration of Jesus as the way, truth, and life, we are beginning a new series this weekend at Eastbrook entitled “Activate” about the church energized for God’s mission. This week, we are looking at Acts 1:1-11. Take some time to pray, asking God to speak to you as you read His word.
  3. Background: The book of Acts is the second of two works that Luke, an early believer and a physician, wrote in the first century. The first of those books, the Gospel of Luke, focuses on the life of Jesus in Galilee and Jerusalem. The book of Acts picks up after the resurrection of Jesus, charting the life of the first followers of Jesus. Both books are addressed to Theophilus, whose name literally means ‘lover of God.’As Luke recounts the events after the resurrection, he tells of Jesus’ activities until the time He returns to the Father. What is Jesus doing and for how long is He doing these things (verses 1-3)?
  4. Looking at verses 4 and 5, what does Jesus ask of the disciples? Why do you think Jesus is making this sort of request of the disciples? What other options might they have considered?
  5. The Holy Spirit is the personal presence of God in the life of every person who reaches out to God through Jesus Christ by faith. What do you think it means for us to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit in our own lives?
  6. The disciples ask a question in verse 6 that Jesus redirects in verse 7. What was the disciples’ concern and what is Jesus’ teaching on this point?
  7. Acts 1:8 is a pivotal verse in this chapter and the history of God’s people. How would you outline what Jesus is calling these apostles to in this verse?
  8. The book of Acts traces the early believers as they live out what Jesus calls them to do here in Acts 1:8, witnessing to Him from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. This is a universal call for the good news about Jesus to go out to all people, high and low, rich and poor, near and far. If this is our calling, how are you living out this calling right now? What are some ways you think you could live the calling out more fully in your everyday life?
  9. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you through this study about being called by God as His witnesses? How will that shape your life in the coming week? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Next week: We continue the “Activate” series by exploring Acts 1:12-26, with special attention to the prayers of the early believers.]

 

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Called

“Why do you stand here looking into the sky?” (Acts 1:11). Never has such a unique question spurred such a powerful movement of God as what we see in the beginning of Acts.

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I began a four-part series on the life of God’s people entitled “Activate.” This first week we talked about the calling of God’s people in response to Jesus’ teaching and life. The life with God is neither intended to be boring/apathetic nor busy/frenetic. Instead we must be activated by God through the power of the Holy Spirit to join Him in His work in the world.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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Activate

Activate Series Gfx_Web Header

Why does the church exist and what are we to be about?

This weekend at Eastbrook we begin a new series where we explore some of the basics of missional living for followers of Christ and the church community by looking at Acts 1 & 2. Specifically, we will explore Jesus’ call to be witnesses, the importance of prayer, the need for Holy Spirit empowerment, and the opportunity to actively engage with those around us. Let’s get activated!

May 2/3 – Called (Acts 1:1-11)

May 9/10 – Praying (Acts 1:12-26)

May 16/17 – Empowered (Acts 2:1-13)

May 23/24 – Engaged (Acts 2:14-47)

You can follow along with the series via our web-site, our Vimeo page, our Facebook page, or by downloading the Eastbrook Church app.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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Is Jesus Really the Only Way? (discussion questions)

3 Questions Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Does Jesus Really Give Us Life?,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the third and final part of our series, “3 Questions We All Have About Jesus,” where we delve into Jesus’ provocative statement: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you explain your goal in life, or your understanding of what ‘real life’ is?
  1. This week we conclude our three-week series, “3 Questions We All Have About Jesus,” by looking at Jesus as the Life. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Before you begin this study, ask God to reveal His truth to you as you read His word.
  1. The theme of life pervades Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel of John. Read the following verses which mention ‘life’ or ‘eternal life’ and describe what they tell us about God, Jesus, and life:
  • John 1:4
  • John 3:15-16
  • John 4:14
  • John 5:19-40
  • John 6:35-58
  • John 11:25-26
  • John 12:23-26
  • John 17:1-3
  1. In light of everything you just read, what do you think Jesus is trying to say in John 14:6-7 about being the way and the truth and the life?
  1. Some people say that religion – or even Christianity specifically – is a straightjacket that takes the ‘life’ out of life. What would you say to someone who feels this way? If you feel this way yourself, why do you feel this way?
  1. In John 10:10, Jesus makes one of His most well-known statements about death and life. Given the verses around it (John 10:1-18), what do you think it means to have full or abundant life in Jesus Christ?
  1. Would you say that you are living the abundant life in Jesus Christ right now? Why or why not? How might you take a step deeper into life with God?
  1. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you through this study about the life with God found in Jesus? How will that shape your life in the coming week? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Response: As we draw this series to a close, you may still have unresolved questions about Jesus. We would love to talk through those with you in person or via email. Reach out with your questions either by emailing us (info@eastbrook.org), writing them on a connect card, visiting the Eastbrook Church Facebook page, or calling the church office (414.228.5220).]

 
 

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