Life Group Studies

Life Group Study: May 13, 2018 – The Elephant in the Room Pt. 4

1. Read John 8:48-58. What are some key elements to this portion of Scripture? Why were the Jewish leaders in this story so outraged at the claims of Jesus?

2. Jesus said, “‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’” Why is the “I am” statement here important? What is he referencing?

3. Read John 9:1-4. Understanding the context of John 8, how does the “As he went along…” passage take on new meaning? What does this tell us about Jesus’ love for those who are suffering?

4. In verse 2, the disciples asked Jesus about who sinned to make this man blind? What does this tell us about their concern for the man versus the concern of Jesus? Why did they want an answer?

5. Consider this quote and discuss Dr. Langberg’s views. Do you agree or disagree with her?

Suffering in and of itself is not good. It is wrong. It was not intended to exist. Death is not good; abuse is not good; violence is not good. Sometimes as Christians we sound as if we think it is good. We sit across from indescribable suffering and glibly pronounce that “all things work together for good to them that love God’ (Rom. 8:28). Now do not misunderstand. I believe that verse with all of my heart. But it is not a glib verse, and it does not say that suffering is good. It does not say, ‘Don’t worry about what you are enduring; it will all turn out nice in the end.’ It does say that the God we worship is capable of redeeming the deepest agony, the most hideous suffering, the pain beyond words, into something that gives life to others and brings glory to him. But make no mistake, the transfiguring of agony into redemption cost Jesus inestimably. Death does not normally transform into life in this dark world. God’s redemption worked out in the life of one of his children always costs. The beauty of redemption in a life never comes easily. Dr. Diane Langberg

6. Why is it important that Jesus told the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam after placing mud on his eyes? How does this inform how we care for and empower those who might be suffering?

7. End with a time of prayer.



Life Group Study for May 6, 2018 – The Elephant in the Room Pt. 3 – Suicide

1. After reading off national suicide statistics, John commented, “ Not one person is above suicide. No one is immune to feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and depression that would lead you to a place to consider that your only way out would be to end your life.” What do you feel about that comment? Agree or disagree? Why or why not?

2. We explored three lies that can lead someone to the point of considering ending their life. The first lie was: Nobody really cares. Read John 10:10, Ephesians 2:10, and 1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20. What do these Scriptures tell us about this lie. How do they dismantle this deception and give us hope?

3. A central question that comes up in the discussion of suicide is, “If someone takes their life, does God send them to hell?” Read Matthew 12:31 as a group and discuss this question in light of the Text.

4. The second lie discussed was, “Suicide will end the pain.” We examined the truth that it will not end the pain, but rather transfers and magnifies it to those who are closest to you. How do you feel about this idea?

5. The final lie is that “things won’t change.” Read Psalm 40:1-3. What did David communicate about his experience in this Psalm? How did God respond to him in his moment in the pit? What hope can we discover or hang on to from David’s experience?

6. End in prayer and a conversation about this topic. See if anyone in your group is willing to share if they’re struggling and need care or support.



Life Group Study for April 29, 2018 – The Elephant in the Room Pt. 2

1. Read Luke 24:19-26: What “emotion” or “feeling” words jump out of this text? Why, in their distress, was it important for these disciples to share their pain and/or emotion?

2. What is the difference between content and context? Why is context necessary when walking with someone in a mental illness or a season of distress? One author said that, “Content doesn’t exist without context.” Do you agree with the notion that we often listen to the content of someone’s pain and seek to rush in with an answer, rather than exploring the context of their situation?

3. Read Luke 24:25-27: On Sunday, John noted 2 things about Jesus’ response:

– First, his response came after having walked with them, listening to the cry of their hearts.

– Second, instead of dismissing their experience, He actually affirms it.

Why are these two facts important? What does it teach us about journeying with others through loss or pain?

4. Read Luke 24:28-31: This is an odd scene. What do you think about John’s notion that it was because of Jesus’ scars that they recognized Him? Jesus walked with them, listened to their pain, and then revealed His own scars. This pattern is important and necessary for us to emulate. Do you agree or disagree?

5. The two primary elements in this story are presence and transformation. John ended the teaching by stating, “When we’re together with others in their depression, anxiety, pain, or brokenness we experience the presence of the sacred. And this presence is transformative.” Reflect on this idea as a group. How does the reality and recognition of God’s presence transform us? How can our presence with others transform them?

6. End with a time of prayer.



Life Group Study for April 22, 2018 – The Elephant in the Room Pt. 1

1. What was your attitude about mental illness going into Sunday’s message? Do you have personal experience that has shaped your view of this topic? How has that experience been helpful or hurtful?
 
2. Do you consider mental illness to be multi-faceted (physical, psychological, and spiritual)? Has someone told you that depression, anxiety, or another mental illness is simply a spiritual issue due to sin or a lack of faith? 
 
3. Consider this quote: “The church stigmatizes mental illness to a degree that it now stigmatizes almost nothing else. This stigma is deeply ingrained in our thinking about people with mental illness… People with mental illness and their families run up against a stigma that means immediate, mindless, irrational rejection because they are ‘tainted’ by mental illness. They are marked for shame. They are labeled, stereotyped, misunderstood and dismissed.” Amy Simpson. Do you agree with her research and assessment? 
 
4. Read Luke 24:13-15. Why was it important that Jesus was “walking along with” these two individuals on the road and in their distress? How does fear keep us at a distance when it comes to relating to those with mental illness? What drives our fear?
 
5. Read Luke 24:17-19. Although Jesus knows what they’re discussing, He asks them the question. What can we learn from His approach? How do we earn the right to speak into someone’s life who battles a mental illness? 
 
6. In Sunday’s teaching John said, “Trauma and pain often blunts access to our feelings. Jesus’ question stills them. A moment of integration takes place… and their emotion surfaces.” This approach is key to relating to someone with mental illness. In our frantic and busy world, it is almost counter-cultural to be still, letting the calm of the moment integrate our body, soul, and spirit. How can we implement this practice into our lives or help others in this area?
 
7. End with a time of prayer for those in your group who may be struggling in the area of mental health.   


LIFE GROUP STUDY FOR APRIL 8, 2018

On Sunday we dedicated our entire gathering around corporate prayer. This week, we encourage you to take this model a step deeper and spend time in prayer as a Life Group. Use the A.C.T.S. model for prayer in your time together. 
 
A.C.T.S. is an acronym for the words Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.
 
Essentially, prayer is about a living relationship with God. Maybe as a child you learnt to pray with a long shopping list – E.g. “please look after my Aunt Chloe, keep my Granddad well, oh, and please stop Rover the dog from barking when I’m trying to watch T.V.” etc. etc…..
 
Of course, God wants to hear what is on our hearts. But God desires much more than this for us. He wants us to know Him. We can gain a deeper understanding of God through these areas of prayer – Adoration – Confession – Thanksgiving – Supplication. At the end of section there will be a short sentence which illustrates this element of prayer, and which forms our sample prayer further down on this page. Now let’s look in detail at what these words mean:
 
Adoration
When we catch a glimpse of how magnificent and awesome God is, our hearts naturally turn to adoration. The Westminster Catechism states “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever“. As we worship something happens on the inside – the worries and cares of the day seem less important as we realize how amazing God is and how special is His love for us. Jesus affirms the importance of adoration in His teaching on prayer. His first line was “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”.
 
So adoration is important for two reasons –
• Adoring God reminds us of who He is
• Worshipping God reminds us of who it is that loves and cares for us
 
Adoration example: “Father, you are completely holy and so breathtakingly beautiful. I fall at your feet in adoration.”
Confession
As we adore the living God, we become aware of our own frailty and sin. We realise that we have not lived as could have done. We have let others down, ourselves down, and mostly importantly, we have let God down. In confession we tell God about these things, and ask for His forgiveness and restoration.
 
Confession example: “Lord, you ask us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The truth is I have failed to love others and I’ve lost sight of how much you value me. Please forgive me.”
Thanksgiving
There are many incidents recorded in the scriptures where people gave thanks to God: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1 and at the end – v.29)
 
And again in psalm 136, this time the psalmist recalls the many reasons why it is good to thank the living God:
 
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. (v.4-7) To him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. Who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. Who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever. Who made the great lights. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1 & 4-7 (NIV)
 
In adoration, our focus is on God – who He is, and our worship of Him. In thanksgiving, our focus is on what he has done – for us, for others, or throughout history. If we have just confessed our sins to our Father and received His forgiveness, then thanksgiving will be a very natural thing to do.
 
Thanksgiving example: “Thank you so much that your Son gave His life so that I can walk in freedom. My heart is deeply grateful for everything that you do for me.”
Supplication
The Apostle Paul encourages believers to offer prayers of supplication to God:- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  (Phil 4:6, ESV)
 
Supplication is requesting God to do something, either for yourself or on behalf of somebody else.
 
So here is an example of supplication for yourself:
 
I ask for your strength to fill my being so that I will always live in your grace and love.”
 
When we pray for others we call this intercession. Here’s an example of supplication, which is also an intercessory prayer:-
 
Supplication example (intercession)
Lord, I offer you all those in a position of power in our community. I pray for the leaders of our town, and the leaders of the church here. May you give them wisdom as they make decisions and care for the people in this neighborhood.”