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God Calling (discussion questions)

Faith Life Series Gfx_4x3 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “God Calling,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the first message in our series “Faith Life.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you define the word ‘faith’?
  2. We are beginning a new series at Eastbrook called “Faith Life,” in which we will explore what it really means to be a person of faith. We will follow the life of Abraham – called Abram at this point in our journey – in Genesis 11:27-25:12. This week, we are studying Genesis 11:27-12:9. Stop and ask God to speak to you before reading that portion of Scripture aloud.
  3. Abram’s journey begins in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and moves toward present day Israel and Palestine. What do you observe about Abram’s family background and history from Genesis 11:27-32? What stands out to you? What is confusing to you?
  4. Genesis 12:1-3 is perhaps the most important passage in the entire Old Testament. Here, God speaks to Abram with a decisive command and specific promise. What is the decisive command God speaks to Abram in verse 1? What do you think this would have meant to Abram?
  5. When have you experienced God speaking to you decisively? What happened? How did you know it was God?
  6. In verses 2-3, God speaks seven promises of His overall covenant – or agreement – with Abram. What are those seven promises and what is their significance both for Abram now and for others later?
  7. How would you describe the response of Abram and others in verses 4-7? What is surprising and what is not surprising?
  8. One thing to note in verses 6-9 is that Abram journeys to “the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem.” This was a recognized center for pagan religion in the ancient near east. What does Abram do at this site? Why do you think Abram did this and what would it have communicated to others around him?
 
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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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God Calling

Faith Life Series Gfx_16x9 TitleWhat does it mean to really live a life of faith in our everyday lives? How does it begin and how do we sustain that life?

This weekend at Eastbrook Church we explored these questions in the first week of our series, “Faith Life.” This series is a journey around themes of faith from the life of Abraham. This week, we began by looking at the very beginnings of Abraham’s story in Genesis 11:27-32, as well as the pivotal calling of God he receives in Genesis 12:1-9.

The outline and video file for the message are below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can access the entire series of messages from the “Faith Life” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Posted by on September 14, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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Faith Life: a new series at Eastbrook Church

This weekend, September 13 & 14, we begin a new series at Eastbrook Church entitled “Faith Life.” In this series, we will explore what it means to be a person of faith, looking at the life of Abraham and those around him as seen in Genesis 11-25. You can find out more about each week of this series by visiting the Eastbrook web-site here or by watching the video below. Maybe you want to share this with others in your life, inviting them to join us on this journey of faith.

 

You can access messages from previous series by visiting the ‘Messages‘ page of the Eastbrook web-site.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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Models of Evangelism

crossroadsToday at our ministry staff meeting at Eastbrook Church, we talked broadly about the topic of evangelism. We watched a video from the Exponential 2014 conference by Rick Richardson on six models of evangelism seen in 20th and 21st century evangelicalism:

  1. Evangelism as proclamation – exemplified in the life and ministry of Billy Graham
  2. Evangelism as discipleship – exemplified in the life and ministry of Dawson Trotman
  3. Evangelism as acts of service, justice, compassion and peace – exemplified in the life and ministry of John Perkins
  4. Evangelism as the demonstration of God’s power- exemplified in the life and ministry of John Wimber
  5. Evangelism as church planting and church growth – exemplified in the life and ministry of Bill Hybels
  6. Evangelism as the counter-cultural life of the alternative community – exemplified in the life and ministry of Shane Claiborne

Rick suggests that these six models of evangelism are mutually complementary and necessary in the life of the church, and that they can be traced throughout the 2,000 years of the church’s existence.

We had a fascinating discussion of which models we appreciate and which are harder to appreciate for each of us. We also wrestled with the fact that these are predominantly Western models and examples.

That being said, it was a helpful picture of what we want to do.

After that, we spent time studying how Jesus engaged evangelistically in His encounters with people from list below. We noted that Jesus: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Ministry Reflections

 

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Vision Weekend (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my vision weekend message from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. Some of these questions are very specific to our church, but whether you attend Eastbrook or not, I think you will be challenged to think about where you are heading with God this year.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your aim or vision for life?
  2. This weekend at Eastbrook we are talking about our vision for the year ahead. There are a lot of Scripture passages which we will look study, but it all begins with our vision of Jesus. Read Colossians 1:18-23 aloud after you have asked God to speak to you through this study.
  3. Colossians 1:18-20 provides one of the most powerful descriptions of Jesus within Paul’s letters. Take a few moments to list the descriptions of Jesus found in these verses. Based on these descriptions, what do we know about who Jesus is and His role in the universe and church?
  4. Moving from these words about Jesus, Paul goes on in Colossians 1:21-23 to describe what Jesus has done for us. Put into your own words what Paul is saying about Jesus’ actions for us.
  5. The vision of Jesus moves us toward having a specific vision for our particular church. We often talk about our vision at Eastbrook Church as living at the intersection between the Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-31) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Read those two passages aloud. What does it mean to you to live at the intersection of these two great statements of Jesus?
  6. This weekend, Pastor Matt talked about our vision and the six priorities we are working on as a church (see the sermon outline). He also mentioned going “deep” and “wide” with our faith. What is one thing God is speaking to you about these things for the year ahead? If you are alone, write it down. If you are with a small group, discuss these things with one another.

 [Next week we begin our series “Faith Life” following the life of Abraham in Genesis. To get a jumpstart on this series, consider reading Genesis 11:27-25:11.]

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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Vision Weekend at Eastbrook Church

This weekend at Eastbrook Church was the kick-off of our ministry year and I took the opportunity to refocus us on Jesus and our vision as a church. Our vision statement is:

To proclaim and embody the love of Jesus Christ in the city and in the world.

Along with that, we are focusing on six priorities (see below) with two focus words for the year: deep and wide.

The outline and video file for the message is below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Posted by on September 7, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook, Uncategorized

 

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The Unselfish Way of Jesus

No one should seek their own good, but the good of others….I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:24, 33; 11:1)

The Apostle Paul’s theme in this section is the importance of thoughtfully seeking the good of others in our actions. We are not to selfishly pursue an individualistic good in what we do or how we live. This is Paul’s example, which he learned from Christ. The way of Jesus is the unselfish way.

Jesus’ Selfless Example
First, it is important to grasp Jesus’ selfless example. He endured the Cross for the joy set before Him, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God’s throne (Hebrews 12:2). He did this so that He could bring many people into the glorious family of God. Jesus’ aim was to lead many to Himself by laying down His life. He aimed for a greater, selfless goal and we, too, should live selflessly for the greater aim of God’s purposes in this world and our lives.

Letting Go of Individualistic Good
At times this means, secondarily, that we must forego some apparent ‘goods’ that come into conflict with the good of others. For the believers in Corinth this meant considering certain freedoms they enjoyed, such as the eating of meals, in light of how those freedoms would effect others and their life of faith. When we see that certain actions or ways of living that we enjoy are inhibiting others from experiencing God, then we must reconsider what we are doing or how we are living. With that consideration in view, we may even need to let go of those actions or ways of life either temporarily or permanently. This, of course, flies in the face of self-actualization or the pursuit of total freedom so strongly promoted in our world today. In God, our grace-given freedom is a liberation from sin into a new sort of life characterized by God’s truth and righteousness. That way in God does not release us from all the demands of others but intricately binds us together with others under God.

Should We Seek Ill for Ourselves?
Third, we must understand that seeking the good of others does not mean seeking ill for ourselves. Pursuing ill for ourselves is not helpful for anyone. Without a doubt we may face trials and endure hardship in life, but seeking the good of others must also include good for ourselves. Paul’s words here are aimed at a sort of godless selfishness which does not take into account the lives of others. He is not asking the Corinthians – or us – to set aside helpful self-awareness or self-care. It is important that we move beyond guilt-ridden lies from the evil one that say any thought of ourselves is selfish and not honoring to God. It is important to note that the interpersonal element of the ‘Great Commandment’ given by Jesus reads: “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

The equation here means acknowledging what we would like to seek for ourselves, yet placing it on the table of consideration with the needs of others before God’s caring and purposeful eye. Ultimately, we must say with our Savior, “Lord, not my will, but Yours be done.” Then we move forward, like Jesus, for the joy set before us in obedience to God with appropriate love for others in the unselfish way.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Discipleship

 

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