Monday, March 26, 2012

Content Change

Hey to all visitors:

Thanks so much for checking out what's been popping up here. You amazed me. Here are the stats as of April 03/2012:

Visits from 80 countries, 951 distinct cities, 47 US States, 10 Canadian Provinces and 38,685 podcast  downloads. SPECTACULAR! I am flabbergasted.

I will not be updating this site for the foreseeable future. Some content will continue to stay up to date like the podcast link. All new BLOG entries will be up at my church's site. Come on and check it out:

Thanks. You have been a source of fantastic encouragement to me. Who knows? I might pick this up again someday.


Monday, March 19, 2012

WEiRD 02: WEiRD Is Better Follow Up

Talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions, and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step. 

• Who is someone that you would describe as being weird in a God way? What have you learned from them being weird?

Read Psalm 69:9-12.
In this Psalm, David describes being insulted and ridiculed for being different for his faith in God.
  • In what ways have you been insulted or made fun of because of your faith in Christ?
  • How do you typically respond when people insult you because of your faith? How can you draw strength and encouragement from these situations?

    Read 1 Samuel 15:24-25, John 15:18-20 and Matthew 5:10-12.
    These passages show us two barriers on the road to being weird: the need to please and criticism.
  • How consumed are you with what people think about you? How has that influenced your actions?
  • Why is it so important that we not become obsessed with what others think about us?
  • How can being criticized for your faith be good for your relationship with Christ?
  • Who is someone you admire for handling criticism for their faith? What did you learn from this person?

    Read 1 Thessalonians 2:4 and Proverbs 29:25.
    These verses show us that we can’t please everyone, but we can please God.
  • What are some of the blessings you have experienced as a result of your pleasing God?
  • What are some things you can do this week to help you focus more on pleasing God instead of others?
next steps

Talk It Over with God:
• Thank God for making you weird in His own unique way. Tell Him how that has impacted your life.
• Ask God to help you overcome any criticism you are facing because of your faith.
• Confess to God those areas of life where you are consumed with what others think about you.
• Commit to God that you will strive to please Him and not others in all areas of your life.
• Ask God to help you remove all barriers that are keeping you from becoming weird in a God way.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lions & Bears

Get this: armed with a club, David killed both lions and bears. You know, I bet he wondered why God allowed these beasts to attack his sheep 24/7.

1 Samuel 17:33-37
"Don't be ridiculous!" Saul replied. "There's no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You're only a boy, and he's been a man of war since his youth."
But David persisted. "I have been taking care of my father's sheep and goats," he said. "When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I'll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The LORD who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!"

Perhaps the lions and bears of your life are preparing you to chase bigger obstacles with brave certainty. You like that metaphor?! You know what I'm saying though--God knows what's coming and he's getting you ready.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

WEiRD 01: WEiRD In A God Way

Talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step.
• In what ways would you classify yourself as being WEiRD?
With your Bible read Matthew 7:13-14.
Jesus explains in this passage that His way is not the common path taken by most people.
  • How would you define what it means to be normal in today’s world?
  • In what ways is being normal not working out for you?

    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
    Romans 12:2 NIV 

    Paul encourages us in this verse to not think like normal people think and instead focus solely on God.
  • What are some of the causes of your normal way of thinking?
  • What one or two areas in life do you need to start thinking differently about immediately? What is your next step to changing the way you think?
  • What you think determines what you become. Who have you become as a result of your thinking?
    Read 1 Peter 2:11-12.
    We are encouraged in these verses to not live like normal people live.
    • How have you seen your life become weird in a God way the more you pursue Christ?
    • What do you think is the custom WEiRD God has designed just for you?
    • What are some things you can do this week to start living WEiRD in a God way?
next steps
Here are some specific things you can do this week that will help you be WEiRD in a God way:

Take time to examine where you need start living WEiRD in a God way by writing down those areas of life where you are currently trapped into thinking in a normal way. In each category, list a goal that you can strive to meet during this series. Make your goals realistic and achievable. Consider finding someone you trust to hold you accountable to your goals over the next few weeks. 

  • Confess to God those areas of life where you need to stop thinking like everyone else does and instead get WEiRD in a God way.
  • Ask God to help you remove all normal thinking out of your life. Allow Him to purify your mind.
  • Commit to God that you will strive to pursue Christ in every area of life so that your focus is solely on Him.
  • Ask God to show you the custom WEiRD life that He has designed just for you.
  • Pray for those you know who are trapped in their normal way of thinking. Ask God to help them become WEiRD.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Elijah 04: Depression Follow Up

• What types of things tend to get you down the most?

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. .
1 Kings 19:1-3a (NIV)

How does fear sometimes create depression? What types of fears have a grip on your life?

When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep...
1 Kings 19:3b-5a (NIV)

Immediately following a great victory, Elijah became depressed. 1 Kings 19:3-5 illustrates four common contributors to depression: Elijah wore himself out, shut people out, focused on the negative and forgot the faithfulness of God. Of these four, which one is your most common challenge in you own life?

One of the most common factors that leads to depression is wearing ourselves out. In what areas of your life are you exhausted? What are some things you can do starting today to help relieve that exhaustion?

All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
1 Kings 19:5b-8 (NIV)

The most spiritual thing we can do is rest. While that sounds so easy, why is it so hard for most of us to rest? What are some things you can do to have more rest in your life?

There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He replied, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."
1 Kings 19:9-10 (NIV)

Elijah honestly believed he was the only faithful one left. God replaced this lie with the truth: there were actually 7,000 others who still were faithful. Can you name a similar lie that you believed to be true? How did God reveal His truth to you?

 The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
1 Kings 19:11-12 (NIV)

God spoke to Elijah with a gentle whisper. Describe a time when God spoke to you with a gentle whisper. What did He say to you?

The Lord said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet
1 Kings 19:15-16 (NIV)

God encouraged Elijah to eat and rest, to believe truth instead of lies, to listen to His voice and to get back to doing what prophets do. At this season in your life, which of these areas resonate with you most? Why?

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirl- wind. Elisha saw this and cried out, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" And Elisha saw him no more.
2 Kings 2:11-12 (NIV)

Final thought: 
Even if your greatest fear or “what if” occurs in your life, God will be there for you to help rise above it. God will always be enough for you. Pray for those in your group that are struggling with depression, as well as those that are struggling with fears and exhaustion. Ask that God will work in them to remove these feelings from their life just as He did Elijah.

For Further Study
To use this resource, simply select one or two questions from each category below that you think will help your group discussion. Alternatively, you can use these questions and Scriptures in your own personal devotions during the week.

• Describe one of the loneliest moments of your life. How did you make it through such a difficult time?

Read 1 Kings 19:1-21
• What did Elijah pray when he had fled to a lonely place? (19:3-5)
• How did God miraculously care for Elijah in the desert? (19:6-9)
• What did God say to Elijah when the prophet had taken refuge in a cave? (19:9)
• How did Elijah express his despair about his circumstances? (19:10)
• What did God command Elijah to do? (19:11)
• What disturbances of nature did Elijah witness from inside the cave? (19:11-13)
• What question did God repeat in the "gentle whisper"? (9:13)
• What was Elijah’s reply after seeing the demonstrations of God’s power? (19:14)
• What "marching orders" did Elijah receive from God? (19:15-17)

• Do you think Elijah was justified in being discouraged by his circumstances?
• Why do you think God revealed Himself to Elijah when the prophet was discouraged?
• What strikes you as unusual about God’s question to Elijah in the cave?

Describe a situation where it felt like you were the only believer?
What important lesson did Elijah learn about how God chooses to speak to people?

• What are some ways that you can remind yourself that God is in control when you are in the middle of difficult circumstances?

Putting it into Action
This week we saw how God brought Elijah out of a time of depression. It’s likely we all know someone that is currently struggling with a difficult situation or may be battling depression. This person could be someone in your own group or just an acquaintance. Take what you have learned and put it into action by doing something this week to help that person through their difficult time. One idea is to use God’s example of telling Elijah to rest by doing something for that person that would allow them some rest. You might also consider carrying out this task with your entire group. Here are some ideas you might want to consider in carrying out your task:
  • Prepare some meals and take them to their house.
  • Offer to help with housework, run errands or help with yard work.
    • Help meet a financial need that person may have.
    • Take that person out to dinner and a movie. Give them an evening of fun and fellowship.
    • Help babysit their children to allow that person some time to rest.
    • Send that person some letters, cards or emails from the members of your group letting them know you are thinking of them and praying for them.

    Here are some suggestions you may want to use for your time with God this week:
    Day 1: Read 1 Kings 19:1-3. Pray over the fears you are currently dealing with in your life. Ask God to help you overcome them and give you comfort and peace as you deal with them.
    Day 2: Read 1 Kings 19:3-5. Pray over any depression you may be experiencing in your own life, or pray about those areas in your life in which you are exhausted. Ask God to help you find ways to better manage your time in these areas.
    Day 3: Read 1 Kings 19:5-8. Ask God to help find ways to find more time to rest in your life. Spend your time in quiet prayer just resting in His presence.
    Day 4: Read 1 Kings 19:9-12: Take time today to allow God to speak to you. Listen quietly for His gentle whisper.
    Day 5: Read 1 Kings 19:15-16 and 2 Kings 2:11-12. Pray and ask God what He is wanting you to do in this season of your life? Ask if He wants you to continue what you are doing or see if He has something new in store for you.