Messy Ends (discussion questions)

Flawed Heroes Series Gfx_App SquareHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Messy Ends” from Judges 17-21, which concluded our series, “Flawed Heroes,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Answer one of these two questions:
    • When have you seen something beautiful in the midst of brokenness?
    • Has a real-life hero let you down? What happened and how did you respond?
  2. This week, we conclude our series, “Flawed Heroes,” with the last five chapters of Judges (17-21). These chapters are often seen as an appendix, or concluding word, at the end of the book. This is particularly difficult but also important material to read. We will look at it in two sections. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you through His word, and then read Judges 17-18 aloud.
  3. This first story recounts deep failures in the religious and community life of the people of God. How would you describe the family life of Micah and his mother?
  4. Based on what you read about the Levite in chapters 17-18, what sort of person do you think he is? Why does this matter?
  5. The Danites steal the Levite and the idol away from Micah, causing conflict between the tribes of Israel. After that, they annihilate the people of Laish. Why is all of this shocking in light of what you know about God’s plans for His people (see Joshua 24:11-15)?
  6. What is one thing that you take away from this story about God, His work, or His people?
  7. Now begin the second story of this section by reading Judges 19:1-10. How would you describe the life and relationship of this Levite with his concubine and her family?
  8. Next read Judges 19:11-30. A core issue here is the role of hospitality. Why does the Levite avoid the land of the Jebusites (vss 11-12)? What does he find when he comes to the Benjamite town of Gibeah?
  9. In one or two words describe the behavior of each: the old man from Ephraim, the Levite, and the men of Gibeah.
  10. Background: While this may seem gruesome (and it is!), the cutting up of the concubine was a summons to war in response to horrific wrongs. Similar situations are attested in other ancient near-eastern literature and also in 1 Samuel 11:7.
  11. The remaining two chapters (20-21), describe a conflict that arises between the tribe of Benjamin and the remaining tribes of God’s people. There are three main sections of conflict (20:18-20; 20:21-25; 20:26-48) that form an ironic echo to Judges 1. What changes do you see in the majority tribes’ approach to warfare through this sequence?
  12. The end result of this conflict is the decimation of the tribe of Benjamin. Chapter 21 traces the tragic response of the tribes to their fear that Benjamin will disappear. How would you summarize that chapter?
  13. Notice that this entire section begins and ends with the same thought: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). What is one thing that God is speaking to you through this study today and through the book of Judges as a whole? If you are on your own, take a moment to write it down, pray about it, and then commit to sharing that with one person this week. If you are with a small group, share your answers together and then pray for each other.

Messy Ends

Flawed Heroes Series Gfx_App Wide
We concluded the “Flawed Heroes” series this past weekend at Eastbrook with a message called “Messy Ends.” this was an extended look at the “appendix of Judges, found in two shocking stories from Judges 17-21. I shared a list of five things we don’t need anyone’s help to accomplish when we do what’s right by our own estimation. I then outlined a series of five contrasting practices which enable us to put God as king in our corporate and individuals lives. You can watch the message here, following along with the outline below. You can also follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.


Five Things We Can Accomplish without a Leader’s Help (Judges 17-18; 19-21)

  1. Mixed-up Worship
  1. Mixed-up Relationships
  1. Mixed-up Morality
  1. Mixed-up Politics
  1. Mixed-up Goals


Five Practices to Recover Life with God as King

  1. God as King of our Worship (Ascribing Value in Worship)
  1. God as King of our Relationships (Living the Church as Family)
  1. God as King of our Morality (Holiness from the Inside)
  1. God as King of our Politics (Holiness Moving Inside-Out)
  1. God as King of our Goals (Giving Allegiance to God and His Kingdom)


What the Church and Pastors Need to Learn from Ferguson

Here is a post I co-wrote with my friend Chris Brooks around the events with Ferguson that I think is just as relevant in the midst of recent events here in Milwaukee. As one person from the community told me last night when we were praying and talking in Sherman Park: “the bridge to the church is broken.” The people of God need to step forward with humility, grace, and truth to build bridges.


Chris Brooks & Matt EricksonThis blog post is co-authored by Chris Brooks and Matt Erickson. 

As I watched things unfold in Ferguson recently, I felt a surging of different thoughts and feelings within me. There was a mixture of sadness and fear, anger and helplessness, and my mind raced to come to terms with what this means not only for our nation but for the church. I’m a pastor of a multiethnic church in Milwaukee. Our church has been a community that is diverse ethnically, socio-economically, politically, and in other ways. As I sat and watched the events and all that has followed since, I wondered, “what is required of the people of God when such difficult and painful things grip our nation?”

As I have reflected since that painful evening last week, I have reached some preliminary conclusions. Let me suggest the following things we need to do as Christians, and a few…

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Sunday Prayer 13

But God is my King from long ago;
he brings salvation on the earth.
(Psalm 74:12)

Age to age, You are God,
the One who reigns over all the earth.
Salvation is found in no one else
and comes from no other source.
We praise Your name
with our words and songs;
We exalt Your name
with our deeds and lives.
As we gather together before You
may You receive the glory You are due
and change us to look more like You.
May our lives become living sacrifices of praise
to You, our Lord and King,
that the nations might see and know
You are God.

[This is part of a series of prayers for Sunday worship preparation that begins here.]

Sunday Prayer 12

Your name, Lord, endures forever,
Your renown, Lord, through all generations. (Psalm 135:13)

You are the most famous One, God,
and no other can compare to You.
All around the world people call on Your name,
and voices from many languages praise You.
We choose to take our place in that great chorus;
we choose to praise You today, O Lord,
for You are great and glorious.
May You be praised in us, O Lord;
in the words we speak today,
in the thoughts we think today,
and in the deeds we do today.
All we are for all You are –
today and every day, our great God!

[This is part of a series of prayers for Sunday worship preparation that begins here.]