Gen. 2:18, Gen. 3:8, Acts 2:42, Prov. 27:17, James 5:16, Gal. 6:2, Eph. 4:15
Sunday, February 16
These next few weeks we will be diving into why God designed us to be in Community. We define Community as real relationships that move you closer to Jesus. When we are in biblical Community we will interact with God’s Word, His Spirit, and His People.
Big Idea: You were meant to be connected!
We find at least 3 things that Adam and Eve encountered with relationships in the book of Genesis. Let’s dive into these in our questions.
Man and woman began to believe lies about God and each other. One lie was that God could not be trusted. Another lie was that God was holding out on them and a better life could be found outside of God’s instructions. Do I believe there are things I can not trust God with? Do I live in a way that shows a better life can be found outside of God’s instructions?
Man and woman stopped listening to the voice of God. They began to listen to the voice of Satan, the voice of selfish desires, and later the voice of society. What voice am I listening to? Is there a voice that I am listening to more than God’s? How can I hear the voice of God clearly?
Man and woman isolated themselves. They hid from God and each other. Before they were naked and felt no shame; now they felt shame and clothed themselves. The close connection to God and each other was all gone. What areas in my life do I keep hidden (isolated)? What is it that I need to share with God and His People?
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Remember the illustration about our physical life being a small piece of tape on a long rope into eternity. What am I doing that is going to make an impact on eternity? What am I doing now that is NOT making an impact on eternity? Should I stop doing this?
The beginning of Hebrews 12 says, “let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.” What are the unnecessary things slowing me down? What sin keeps tripping me up? Am I willing to get rid of these things?
Are the “dreams” I have for my life God-centered or self-centered? How can I align a self-centered dream to a God-centered one?
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What in my life do I feel trapped by? Do I see this trap as being part of God’s rescue plan?
What impossible “title” am I carrying? What “title” does God want me to carry?
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What attributes am I instilling in my family/friends that are God honoring?
What am I focusing on with my family/friends that is NOT God honoring?
Do I make decisions based out of fear or faith? Why do I do this?
I can not give to my family and friends what I do not have. What do I need to ask God for in order to see the gifts He has already given me (Life and Faith for example)?
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This week we read about a few hero’s of faith, specifically Abraham. Abraham’s family did not have perfect faith but they sought after and trusted in the author and perfector of faith (Heb 12:2). Our prayer should be for His kingdom to be on earth as it is in heaven because His name is hallowed.
Am I seeking the promises of this world or God’s promises? What does my heart long for?
What is God asking me to say YES to?
Is there something that is keeping me from saying YES to God?
How will I begin to sacrifice so I can follow Gods plans?
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What hard thing is God asking me to do that I don’t want to do?
What am I holding onto that should be God’s first (week, wake, wage)? If God has my “firsts”, what else may I be holding onto that should be His?
How will I practice heartfelt worship? (Like Abel’s worship/sacrifice)
What is the next best step I can take to walking in faith with God?
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What are things that I put my faith in? (For example, a spouse will make me happy, the work that I do defines me).
Where do I need to exercise faith? (finances, career, marriage, future spouse, enough money to pay bills, salvation of a family member)
A Christians faith is the same as a building’s foundation. How strong/stable is my foundation/faith? If my foundation/faith has a weak spot what will I do to build up faith in that area?
Where do I find evidence in my life of God’s faithfulness?
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Clark claims that the identity of Jesus is the central
question of our lives. It is the question around which all others orbit. Was he
born of a virgin? Was he truly the son of God, and yet fully God himself? Many
believe he was a teacher, leader or revolutionary, but they aren’t convinced he
is really God. People often already have an idea of who God is and can’t fit
Jesus into that, or they already have an idea of who Jesus is and can’t fit God
into that. We learn who Jesus is through the Scriptures, by hearing what he
teaches, but by also acknowledging he demonstrated his claim as God through his
actions. Being born of a virgin, living a sinless life, performing miracles and
ultimately, being resurrected from the dead are all demonstrations of his deity.
Clark summarizes that facing the problem of God is about far more than getting
the right information for ourselves; it’s about a transformation of ourselves.
Jesus has real power to create new life and new desires and new futures for
Jesus not only claimed to be God by what he
said, but also by what he did. What truths of Jesus’ life support his deity?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the
center of Christianity. What do you believe about the resurrection of Christ,
and why? What evidence do you have to support it?
In what ways have you been skeptical about
Jesus’ claim to be God? What encouraged, or discouraged your belief in this
Some argue that Jesus never said the words “I am
God”. How would you acknowledge this, and yet argue that he did claim to be
Clark provides examples of 4 primary arguments or pushbacks to the resurrection of Jesus. In your own words how would you refute the following:
Jesus didn’t really die on the cross.
The body of Jesus was stolen after his death.
The disciples went to the wrong tomb and that is why it was empty.
The disciples made up the resurrection as a “copycat” from another popular myth.
Many argue that Jesus was a great moral teacher and did many kind things, but was not God. If you knew someone today that claimed to be God, and you knew they were not, why would you accept anything they did or taught to be of value? Would you not conclude that they were either a liar, or a lunatic?
https://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.png00Morgan Farrishttps://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.pngMorgan Farris2019-10-23 10:17:072020-01-06 15:35:43Chapter Ten: The Problem of Jesus
Christianity claims that Jesus Christ alone connects humankind back to God, and that no other religion or worldview can provide the things we are looking for. Clark acknowledges how many people hedge their bets by supporting “any” possible path to God. Our culture today assumes if someone’s beliefs are different or critical of someone else’s, that they cannot not tolerate one another. But the reality is we can coexist with whom we disagree, while still defending their rights to that belief and work toward common goals in the world. The concept of exclusivity exists in many religions, not just Christianity. And it is illogical to accept that multiple religions are true, when they directly contradict one another. Clark asks for people to weigh facts and ideas against one another in order to find the view of life that is consistently true, makes sense of the world, and produces measurable improvement in the lives of those who believe and practice it, as well as those of society as a whole.
Why is the exclusivity of Christianity such a difficult
and polarizing topic?
In what ways is Christianity inclusive, while
holding to an exclusive means of salvation?
Is it ok to disagree with someone’s beliefs, but
still work alongside them to achieve a common goal? Do you have examples from
your own life you can share?
Many believe that there is more than one way to
heaven. What are the dangers of this? What are the dangers of communicating
acceptance and support to someone who believes this?
How would you describe the difference in
cultural pluralism and metaphysical pluralism?
Clark writes, “While we can fight for people’s
rights to say what they believe, we do not have to conclude that what they
believe is true.” Do you agree with this statement? Does it cause you to think
differently when you hear someone voicing a belief different than your own?
https://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.png00Morgan Farrishttps://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.pngMorgan Farris2019-10-23 10:13:162020-01-06 15:35:43Chapter Nine: The Problem of Exclusivity
Studies show the top 3 reasons people reject Christianity are that “church people” are seen as anti-homosexual, judgmental or hypocritical. People have connected past wars, torture, murders, slavery and other horrific acts, done in the name of Jesus, with the position and purpose of God’s design and calling for His church. The church is a place for the imperfect, but many who attend and represent Christ, don’t have a real relationship with Jesus. And many who do, do not live a lifestyle counter to cultural norms. True Christians must have beliefs coupled with lives that are God-honoring. In the book, Clark tackles past violence and intolerability by those professing faith in Jesus. “The Bible calls us to judge the truth of Christianity by the life of its founder, Jesus Christ himself, not by the lives of those attempting to follow him, because in him and him alone will you find someone worthy of trust and imitation.”
Take a few minutes as a group and share what portions of the book or the Sunday morning message were most impactful to you? How has what you’ve heard re-shaped the way you think
In your own experience, how has the poor behavior of Christians impacted your belief about Christianity, and its’ beliefs as a whole? What culturally encourages the thought that Christians are to be “perfect”?
When assessing Christianity, it is best done by investigating its’ central teachings, and teacher, Jesus, and not it’s followers, the church. Why is this important for anyone looking further into Christianity to understand that the fact there are hypocrites in the Church, affirms its ability to transform lives?
Do you believe StoneWater Church is a hypocritical church, filled with hypocritical people? Are there conversations you need to have with leadership regarding your concerns? Are your positions based on the actions of individuals, or does the culture being displayed or taught not mimic the life of Christ?
When confronted with examples of horrible things
the church has done in the name of Jesus, what is your response? How do you
respond when people give examples of followers of Jesus living a life counter
to the teachings of Jesus?
Many take the position that Christians preach to
love everyone, yet they judge and distance themselves from those who do not look
like or act like they do. What is inaccurate about this perspective? Should
there exist the opportunity to both disagree with someone’s position, but still
show love? Share some examples of how this could be lived out.
Pastor Jeremy referenced “fakers” of the faith
in his Sunday sermon on hypocrisy. Why is it difficult to identify cultural
Christians from real followers of Christ. What queues help identify the
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“Any limit on our behavior is seen as a violation of our basic human rights as individuals. We believe we have the right to use our bodies in whatever way we want, and this is the ultimate expression of our freedom and our autonomy”, writes Clark. Because of this, our current, western culture has abandoned God’s design, and the Bible’s direction regarding sex. Sadly, the church hasn’t helped over the years as it has shared poor theology and added to the confusion. But God’s design is clear. Sex is good, is of God, is designed for marriage and in marriage, is temporal and pleasurable. Yet, we continue to move away from God’s design, and now are confused with sexuality, personhood, marriage and more. Sex, as designed by God and for us here on Earth, should be glorious and point “to the eternal delight of soul that we will have in heaven.”
Sex can be a polarizing topic both in the
church, and out. What do you remember being taught about sex during your
upbringing? Did the “church’s” view on sex play a role in what you were taught?
How has the cultural discussion about sex changed
in your lifetime? What is different today than in past years? Is our culture
moving toward or away from healthy sexuality?
In your best understanding, what is the purpose
of sex? What is admissible, and what is not?
For many individuals and couples, the topic of
sex is a reminder of serious hurt, frustration, disappointment and shame. In
spite of this, how is a healthy and robust sex-life God’s desire for your
How has sex in many ways become the ultimate
pleasure of our time? How might a Christian perspective oppose this narrative,
while still identifying sex as a wonderful gift to be enjoyed?
If good sex takes practice, what steps can you
take with your spouse to increase the frequency in which you practice, and
learn one another’s bodies?
What restrictions does the Bible place on
sexuality? How do sexual restrictions as biblically prescribed actually enhance
sexual pleasure, and not limit it?
On pg 169, Peggy Noonan shares our
misunderstanding that sexual freedom and acceptance will make us a healthier
species. In fact, she goes on to say that “as we’ve gotten more open-minded,
we’ve gotten more closed-hearted.” What point is she trying to make here?
https://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.png00Morgan Farrishttps://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.pngMorgan Farris2019-10-08 09:20:302020-01-06 15:35:43Chapter Seven: The Problem of Sex
Clark outlines some of the obstacles people raise regrading hell. How can an all-loving God judge people? Why does God condemn people eternally for what they do in a finite amount of time? Why is it necessary for hell to involve a kind of torture (i.e., eternal fire, brimstone, etc.)? Or desire to not experience hell should never be driven by fear of hell, but instead, by love for Jesus. Jesus spent much of his time sharing about the love of God, but also the wrath of God. To deny the existence of hell is to deny the teachings and person of Jesus. He goes on to explain why he feels it is not easy to accept but necessary as well as just. He believes hell will not be the same for everyone, is not a torture chamber, but is a place of emotional, psychological, and relational suffering and anguish where we are allowed to be our own god and are allowed to sustain and provide for ourselves. “Hell is a place where Satan is punished. It is the culmination of his defeat by God, and God is sovereign over it, not Satan.” “Hell was originally designed for Satan, not people.”
Up until this point, what has been your
understanding of hell? How did that understanding motivate you towards, or away
Share what portions of the book or the Sunday
morning message increased your confidence that Jesus is a loving, tender
father, that also has created a repulsive place called hell?
How would you describe the relationship between
God’s characteristics of love and tenderness, as well as righteousness and
justice? Does one negate the other, if some are achieved through the means of
Clark shares how his own father and grandfather
who have died never openly professed their faith in Jesus. Have you had experiences
with death where you questioned someone’s faith? What emotions did you wrestle
with? What truths brought comfort? Did realities of scripture and that
experience affect change in your own life? How would you counsel someone else
in similar situation?
It has been said that Hell is an Old Testament principle or idea. How does Jesus’s frequent mention of hell, and its attributes change your perspective?
How would you describe hell to a 8 year old? What attributes would you use to describe it? Is it made of fire? Is God there? Is Satan in charge? Is it physical torture?
Do you believe people are forced into hell against their will? Philosopher J.P. Moreland contends that hell is a place for people who, given what is needed to belong in heaven, do not want to go to heaven. Thus, hell is the natural consequence of the choices people make. How does this statement affect you?
https://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.png00Morgan Farrishttps://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.pngMorgan Farris2019-09-30 12:12:302020-01-06 15:35:42Chapter Six: The Problem of Hell
Why is there pain and suffering in the world? Why should we devote our lives to a God who allows children to suffer? How can I believe in a God who says he is all-loving, and yet he allows a world with rape, murder, disease, terrorism and natural disasters? Is God willing and able to stop this, yet doesn’t? Does the presence of evil then lead us to believe the nonexistence of God? You feel these questions, you don’t just think about them. The Bible faces these tough questions head on and provides the most glorious answers. Clark tackles these questions and gives some great background to how other religions such as New Age, Hinduism and Atheism attempt to address them. Clark also contends that the existence of evil and suffering actually reveals God to us rather than disproving him. He shares how many people succeed because of suffering, not in spite of it. He also suggests that “the reason we struggle with this concept of purposeful suffering today in the Western world is because we see the point and purpose of life as happiness.” We find hope and understanding in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
How has the problem of evil and suffering
affected your understanding of God? Is this an area that is difficult for you
to wrap your arms around? What emotions are stirred up in you?
Do you believe that both God and evil can
co-exist? Do you believe that God is all-powerful and all-knowing? Explain in
your own words how God can still be good if he allows evil in order to retain
free will in the universe or if it allows a greater good in the future.
What not to say – Can you think of phrases you
need to stay away from while listening to someone’s personal story of
suffering? What to say – What are some phrases that would be more helpful as it
relates to God?
Has there been a time in your own life where you
questioned the existence or goodness of God due to suffering you’ve
experienced? How have you reconciled the two?
You may believe that the allowance of some evil may lead to something good. Is there such thing as pointless evil where no good is ever comes from it? How do you reconcile that with the phrase “some of the greatest lessons we learn in life come through suffering”?
As Americans often strive for a life of happiness, how does this feed into the belief that God is nonexistent or not caring if suffering exists? Do you believe other nations look at suffering differently? Why?
On pg. 123, Clark writes, “The New Testament writers tell us that, yes, our need of saving was the occasion for God’s suffering on the cross, but not its only reason.” Do you believe God’s suffering tells us something more about God than just his desire to save us?
https://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.png00Morgan Farrishttps://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.pngMorgan Farris2019-09-18 11:53:142020-01-06 15:35:42Chapter Five: The Problem of Evil and Suffering
Chapter 4 tackles many conspiracy theorists who have taken the position that Jesus never existed, was simply a mythical character created by the culture of the time, or at a minimum, existed but did not raise from the dead. Clark writes “Under the persecution of both the Jews and the Roman Empire, Christianity grew from a group of twelve disciples to over 33 million people in just 350 years, and by 400 AD, 56% of the entire population of the Roman Empire were Christians.” This tells us that those closest to the life and resurrection of Jesus may have been more likely to place their faith in Jesus than many people today. He shares that time has allowed the truth to be mystified in some way. What is most surprising, is this distortion hasn’t taken place with the most scholarly historians, but instead with those who do not take an honest look at the actual evidence that exists. Because of great evidence, we can know “that he (Jesus) was a real flesh-and-blood Jewish teacher in first-century Israel”, who was crucified and raised from the dead.
Take a few minutes as a group and share what
portions of the book or the Sunday morning message increased your confidence
that Jesus really walked on this Earth.
If “The Christ Myth” were true, that Jesus never
existed, or that he was not raised from the dead, what ramifications would this
have for Christianity? For humankind?
When do you believe Jesus was born, and why do
we currently celebrate it on December 25th? Why do we assume there
were three kings at his birth? Why is it important to know scripture when
Clark writes “Historians continue to debate the
nature of Jesus, the exact date of his birth, what he did and taught, etc., but
they almost unanimously affirm that he existed.” Knowing this, why do you
believe so many have taken the position that he never existed?
What have you done, or what will you do, if
someone makes a claim that Jesus was not real? Do you pursue original texts, or
rely on secondary sources? What benefit does critical study play in developing
our faith position?
Can you imagine how Christianity could grow so
rapidly without the documented eyewitness accounts of the physical resurrection
of Jesus? Can you relate this to a situation in your life, where it would be
impossible to convince so many without eyewitnesses, and simply telling a
https://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.png00Morgan Farrishttps://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.pngMorgan Farris2019-09-18 11:51:012020-01-06 15:35:41Chapter Four: The Problem of the Christ Myth
Is the Bible historically legitimate or is it filled with folklore? Has the Bible changed over time? Does it contradict itself? How do we know we have something even close to the original text? Why have some writings been left out of the Bible? Do you really expect me to take every word as truth and not merely as a general guide to help me live a better life? Clark provides evidence that “the Bible is actually one of the most, if not the most, reliable and credible documents from antiquity.” He systematically tackles many of the toughest questions, including issues related to slavery, women and even polygamy in the Bible. Not only is it accurate, complete and true, the scriptures have power to speak. “And if we listen, and heed them and let them take us over, they will transform us, forever.”
What are the hurdles or questions you have had to confront in relation to the Bible, and why? Do you relate to any of the questions raised on pg 65? What issues do you hear most often from people regarding their hurdles with the Bible?
How literal do you believe the Bible is? For instance, was the universe created in 6 days? Was the entire Earth under water in the flood? Was Jonah in the mouth of a fish? Are there parts of the Bible that are difficult to accept?
Take a few minutes as a group and share what portions of the book or the Sunday morning message helped build your trust in the Bible?
Do you give the same weight or reliability to the Old Testament as you do the New Testament? Are there areas of the Bible you hold tighter to than others? Why is that so?
In developing your trust, or mistrust of the Bible, how much have you considered the historical scrutiny it has been placed under? Does this level of scrutiny render it more valid that other historical documents?
On pg. 80, Clark shares his personal experience and states, “I began to realize that there’s a world of difference between the Bible explaining what is happening and God affirming and encouraging what is happening.” Does this distinction help you with issues related to slavery, polygamy, the treatment of women and children, etc.?
Why do you believe it is easy for others to dispute the accuracy of the Bible, yet they accept other ancient texts with far less legitimacy? Is it simply a lack of knowledge, or an intentional decision to refute scripture as it would require life change to live out the Christian faith?
https://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.png00Morgan Farrishttps://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.pngMorgan Farris2019-09-11 10:44:302020-01-06 15:35:41Chapter Three: The Problem of the Bible
Clark begins by stating “If we are going to believe in God, then we must ask what the evidence is for his existence. What proofs and clues are there that an all-powerful, eternal, infinite being actually exists?” His arguments are then categorized into two primary areas, the morality of people, and the order of the universe. In short, why do we have an innate desire to do what’s right, to lay down our life for people we love instead of doing whatever necessary to advance ourselves. “The very fact that something within us is repelled by racism, sexism, and unequal treatment of the poor and disabled begs the question that such convictions would have to come from somewhere, for they are not natural.” The chapter goes on to provide evidence against the Big Bang Theory, as well as evolution, and supports evidence of an intelligent design.
Take a few minutes as a group and share what portions of the book or the Sunday morning message where interesting to you. What was most “eye opening” as you heard and read about an intelligent designer.
On pg.58, Clark writes “The laws that govern
physical matter would need to exist prior to the big bang. They could not come
into existence at the same moment as the big bang itself or else they would not
do their work.” Based on your faith and beliefs, what existed first? When did the
laws of physics exist? Heaven? Hell? Angels? Jesus? Holy Spirit? Devil?
Theories and opinions regarding creation are
readily available today. How do you lead your kids, grandkids or young people
through the discovery process to determine what they believe is truth vs
theory? How do they do this while honoring God and loving people along the way?
Based on the information you’ve read in this
book, and the discussion that took place, do you feel your confidence in God
has increased? Do you feel you have more questions than when you started? What
is your next step with this new position? This may be intentional conversations
with your kids, other family, friends, co-workers?
Prior to reading this chapter or listening to
the message, how would you explain our society’s desire to live by a moral code
or a desire to “do the right thing”? In your own words, how do you explain the
fact that we as a whole are against murder, or racism, or other “wrong things”?
Many people believe that the creation of the
universe was simply a “lucky”, single occurrence (Big Bang Theory). Clark
shares a poker analogy where the odds of the universe being created consistent
with the Big Bang is equivalent to being dealt a perfect royal flush in poker
every hand, forever. Why do you believe so many people feel it is easy to
believe in the Big Bang, when they would never believe in the poker analogy?
If someone came to you and argued that the Grand
Canyon was created millions of years ago, how would you began to use your faith
in God to defend the creation story? What are other examples of theories people
share and we accept as facts when it relates to creation and the universe?
https://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.png00Morgan Farrishttps://stonewaterchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SWC_Logo2018_whiteWEB.pngMorgan Farris2019-09-09 12:24:162020-01-06 15:35:39Chapter Two: The Problem of God's Existence
In the first chapter, Clark tackles the widely held view that both the discoveries of science and the positions of the Christian faith cannot coexist. Someone must choose to either believe in science or commit intellectual suicide and hold onto a blind faith. Clark explains the dichotomy of the myth: “science is about thinking, evidence, and rational justification, while Christianity and faith in general are about evading evidence and clinging to nonrationality.” He not only works to dispel the myth that the church, faith and Christianity are NOT universally opposed to science, but that science was actually birthed from Christian beliefs. He leads us to believe that the continued advances of science will bring confidence to the Christian faith.
Take a few minutes as a group and share what portions of the book or the Sunday morning message where interesting to you. Have you changed your mind about something related to science or faith because of what you’ve heard?
Based on what you’ve been taught in the past, do you feel you have a larger knowledge base about scientific arguments FOR or AGAINST the Christian faith? Why is that?
Was there something specific in the reading or from the Sunday message that grew your confidence that God is real and the creator of the universe?
Hearing Christians provide scientific evidence to support the Christian faith may be new for you. What is most encouraging about being equipped with new knowledge?
What do you need to keep in mind as you share this new information with skeptics? What do you what them to think? What do you want them to feel? What is the role of the Holy Spirit?
Have you ever experienced a conversation with a friend or family member who scientifically opposed the Christian faith? How did you feel, and is there something more you wish you would have known?
Clark shares an analogy, that believing in the Big Bang Theory is comparable to accepting that someone could have been dealt a perfect royal flush in poker, on every hand, forever. Why do you think our culture accepts something as unlikely as this, before they would accept the idea that there is an ultimate designer (God)?
As scientists learn more, do you believe more people will turn to the Christian faith or fewer? Why?
What scientific questions do you still have regarding faith (creation, evolution, dinosaurs, etc.)? What do you feel can’t be explained by the Bible?
Read Romans 1: 19-23. How do you believe our culture today has become “futile in their thinking”? What have we decided to believe instead of the truth of scripture? As you continue to read Romans 1, what other cultural issues do you see as an effect of our “futile thinking”?
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StoneWater Church has created the following questions for groups as a guide for discussion. They have been based on the book The Problem of God by Mark Clark, as well as a sermon series at StoneWater Church in the fall of 2019. These questions are simply a guide to help you grow in your faith and gain confidence in the teachings of the Bible.
During your first meeting, we would encourage you as a group leader to spend some time getting to know everyone in the group. Below are a few questions that can help initiate conversation. You can also take a moment at the beginning of each subsequent session and allow someone different to share how they heard about Jesus and the Christian faith for the first time.
What were some key conversations, truths or experiences that led you to take the next step and commit your life to following Jesus?
What doubts or hurdles did you have to overcome or what questions are still waiting to be answered in order for you to make that decision to commit your life to Jesus?
If you had to complete this sentence, “My problem with God is ….?”, how would you complete it?
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Jesus had been buried for three days and the disciples were in mourning. What were they to do now? Their hopes of a king had all but diminished. Then Sunday morning came, and the great exchange had taken place. Jesus had risen from the grave! He was alive and darkness, evil, and death had been defeated. Jesus revealed himself as the resurrected King. He explained that he must go back to the Father so the Holy Spirit could come, to empower his followers to share the gospel with the world. Today, the message of the resurrection has been told all across the world. The question that each of us have to answer is: do you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, and have you put Him first in your life?
Who is the first to find Jesus had risen from the grave? John 20:1, Luke 24:1, Mark 16:1, Matthew 28:1 Discuss the different accounts.
John tells us that Peter ran to the tomb to see where Jesus was. Why is this important and how does this challenge you to be more bold for Jesus? John 20:3-9
What was the first reaction the disciples had after finding out about the resurrection of Jesus? John 20:19 What changed their direction and how does this encourage you? John 20:20-23
Thomas did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, so Jesus allowed him to touch his side. Then Thomas believed. What did Jesus say about future believers and how does this pertain to us today? John 20:26-29
John tells us what the most important reason was for writing the gospel. What does John say about this and what stands out as to why? John 20:30-31
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The time came for Jesus to complete what he started, moving toward the climax of the hour that had been anticipated throughout the gospel. Jesus was betrayed by Judas, taken into custody by the Roman guards, interrogated, beaten, and found guilty and condemned to die on a roman cross. Throughout this dark hour, Jesus never lost focus of what was coming. The characters that were involved in this event had no loyalty to Jesus, even one of his own, Peter. Jesus knew his death would cause many to question his power but Jesus knew his death would cause the greatest miracle of all, when darkness became light!
After the upper room, Jesus led his disciples to the Olive Grove. What took place there? John 18: 1-11
Peter’s denial of Jesus wasn’t a surprise, since Jesus told him he would deny him. John 13:38, John 18:15-18, 18:25-27 How have you obeyed or denied Jesus lately?
The Jews along with the Romans participated in Jesus’s crucifixion. John 19:1-16 How did their participation differ and what role do you play in the crucifixion of Jesus? Romans 3:22-26 and Romans 6:23
How would you explain why Jesus Christ had to die for the sins of the world? John 3:16
Before Jesus died on the cross he said, “It is finished.” What did he mean by that and how do these words encourage you today?
Jesus’s death on the cross seems to be a dark tragedy. Why does the crucifixion of Jesus mean so much today and what does it mean to you?
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Twenty-four hours before Jesus was to be crucified, Jesus prayed for himself to be a faithful and obedient son. Then he prayed for his disciples, that they would be untied, empowered, and joyful in the midst of what was coming. Jesus then prayed for the church; both the present, and for all believers that were to come to believe in his message. Everything Jesus did and will do is because the Father instructed him to. Jesus wants his followers to know that to know the Father, one must know him.
What does Jesus mean when he asked to be glorified? John 17:1-5 Describe how you bring glory to God.
Jesus knew the cross was coming; how did he pray for his disciples? John 17:9-19 What does this mean for us today as believers?
Jesus said his disciples were “not of this world.” John 17:16-19 What does that mean for us today as believers in the world?
Jesus stated that his relationship with the Father is one. John 17:20-21 What does that mean and how does that affect us today?
Jesus asked the Father to give all believers unity in order to let the world know that he was from God. John 17:22-23 How as believers in Jesus are we to carry out this mission?
Jesus prayed this entire prayer out loud so his disciples could hear him. In what ways does this prayer encourage you today?
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Once Jesus has revealed the coming of the Holy Spirit, he began to explain how the Holy Spirit would operate. Jesus reminded his disciples that following him would become difficult in the days to come and there would be those who would persecute them. But in the midst of this, Jesus reminded them of the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives and the comfort he would bring. Then Jesus ended this dialogue with a promise: the promise that there will be trouble, but he has overcome the world!
Jesus tells his disciples that he is going away. Who does Jesus tell them is coming to take his place? What is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit? -John 16:5-11
Jesus gives his disciples the promise that his departure will bring a direct benefit, what is that benefit? – John 16:13 How does that affect us today as believers?
What does Jesus tell about the Holy Spirit’s job when he comes? -John 16:8-11 What are some ways that you see the Holy Spirit working today in the world?
Jesus makes two promises to those who have a relationship with him: 1) the joy of understanding (16:22); 2) the power of prayer (16:24). What does Jesus say are the results of these two promises? How does that encourage you today?
Ask God to show you the power and work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to work in your life?
How do you see the Holy Spirit at work in the world around you?
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In this late evening discourse, Jesus reminded his disciples that love demands obedience. He then told his disciples that he was not leaving them alone in the world. He would ask the Father for the Counselor- the Spirit of Truth- to come and comfort them and lead them in all truth. In John 15, Jesus spoke about the importance of remaining in him. The victory of remaining in him is that we will bear much fruit- fruit that will last! Jesus continued to speak about the Holy Spirit and explain even more in Part 2 of The Helper.
In John 14:15-24, Jesus said that love is what holds together the relationship between Jesus and the Father. What does it mean to love God?
Jesus makes a promise to His disciples that will empower them to fulfill their callings. John 14:25-27- Who is that promise and how do people receive that promise today?
How does the Holy Spirit operate today in our lives as disciples of Christ? -See Romans 5:1-5
What does remain in Him mean to you and how does that play out today in your life? -John 15:1-15
In John 15:18-25, Jesus tells his disciples that the world will hate them because the world hated him. As believers, how can we continue to love Jesus and live in the world around us?
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In John 13, Jesus sat down with his disciples to observe the Passover meal. Jesus recognized that his hour had come to depart out of the world, and he focused his attention on his own- his disciples whom he loved. Jesus knew what was coming and he knew he needed to encourage them. The events of the next twenty-four hours were difficult for them to understand, but before Jesus began with words of encouragement, he performed and act of humility by washing their feet, sending them a message that the greatest servant is one who is willing to serve.
What was Jesus modeling when he washed the disciples’ feet? How can we model our lives the same way? (John 13:1)
Jesus washed his disciples’ feet to show his commitment to selfless service that would be exemplified at the cross. (John 13:2-5) How do you serve your family, your church, and your city?
Why did Peter get so upset about Jesus washing his feet? (John 13:6-10) What stands in your way of coming to Jesus?
Jesus said “whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” (John 13:20) Explain that statement in the context of your relationship with God.
The ultimate command Jesus gives us is to “love one another.” (John 13:34) Do you love people the way Jesus commands us to? If so, how?
This passage follows the grand showcase of one of Jesus’s greatest moments, his Triumphal Entry. One week before Jesus rose from the dead, he endured events from praise as a new king to the pain of the crucifixion. But in the midst of that, Jesus always kept the main thing in mind, that his Father receives glory! Jesus closed out this section with a reminder that He is the light of the world, and anyone who believes in Him should not stay darkness.
Discuss the scene as Jesus arrives in Jerusalem. (John 12:12-19)
What’s all the excitement about? What does Jesus mean when He says, “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified?” (John 12:23) How does this affect us today?
There are many who did not believe in Jesus and his miracles. Who were they and why did they not believe? (John 12:37-41) Have you confessed Jesus to be Lord over your life?
John says many believed in Jesus, but were afraid to confess their faith because of fear of man. Today, how can we overcome the fear of confessing faith in Jesus Christ? (John 12:42-43)
In these verses, Jesus spoke of the Father as one with himself. (John 12:44-46) What kind of unique relationship does Jesus have with the Father and how does that encourage you?
John 12:47-50 is a warning for those who do not believe in Jesus or listen to him. Jesus’s words lead to judgment or eternal life. Do you believe in what Jesus says? Discuss the power of God’s Word!
Jesus’s ministry had become well known among the Jewish people and many were putting their faith in him. The leaders of the Jews (the Sanhedrin) were more concerned about putting themselves and their status than believing in Jesus. When his public ministry ended, the events of the next few days put Jesus on a course to His crucifixion. The passover week was about to begin and Jesus arrived at the house of Lazarus where Mary anointed him with lard. These events revealed the worth and beauty of Jesus, but also revealed the true nature of Judas Iscariot. these events were the backdrop to the last week of Jesus’s life. In the midst of this, many came and put their faith in Him.
Why did the Sanhedrin dislike Jesus so much and how can we guard ourselves from becoming like them? (John 11:45-48)
What is important abut Jesus withdrawing from the crowds? Are there times in our lives today that we should withdraw? (John 11:54)
What had changed about Jesus’ ministry? Discuss the mission that Jesus was on. (John 11:57)
What do you think about Mary anointing Jesus with expensive oil? Discuss what this experience revealed about Judas. (John 12:3-8)
How do these events point to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and what kind of hope does it give each of us?
Jesus made his final move toward the region of Jerusalem to the village of Bethany to attend to his friend Lazarus. The story of Lazarus is one of the most powerful miracles as Jesus shows that he is the master over life and death. As Jesus arrived at the home of Lazarus, he found his friend had died and had been buried for four days. All hope had been lost, until Jesus did the impossible! When Jesus said, “Take away the stone,” there was still confusion on what Jesus was about to do. Then Jesus called Lazarus from the grave and out the dead man came and the impossible was complete!
What promise did Jesus give Mary and Martha and how does that affect us today? (vv. 1-4)
Jesus waited before He went to Lazarus’s house. How does this encourage you when you don’t get an immediate answer to your prayer? (v. 14)
Jesus was moved in spirit and troubled and then Jesus wept. Why? What does this tell us about Jesus? (vv. 32-37)
Why did Jesus pray to the Father? (vv. 41-42)
Lazarus’s resurrection was a message about life after death. Jesus wants us to know the promise of salvation. What’s your salvation/eternal story?
What main theme do you see in this passage and how does this apply to you?
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GDeception, lies, expectations of perfection, withdrawal, and keeping up appearances – the first eight years of our marriage were harmonious despite the huge disconnect we weren’t willing to admit, let alone address. In His infinite love and desire to bring light to all the dark corners of our lives, the Lord exposed all we were hiding. We were brought to our knees in surrender, discovering only by inviting Jesus into EVERY area of our hearts would we be able to move forward. Together.
Through StoneWater, we received unconditional care and had others willing to take time to listen and hear all our faults and all our hurts – without judgment. Every impulse to run or hide from the truth was met with compassion, understanding, and love. We had accountability and people walking us through what a biblical, Godly marriage actually looked like. And things changed. Now, three years later, we still have conflict, but we work for understanding; striving to believe the best of each other. We can’t imagine the heartache that would’ve ensued had we selfishly continued down our original path. With four small daughters we had a lot at stake. But, PRAISE! Only through the power of God’s word, God’s spirit, and God’s people, what was meant to destroy us, brought healing and reconciliation.
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From the outside looking in, it seemed they had it all together. But about seven years in, Kisha had an affair. When it came to light, Rick was ready to walk away and never look back. He soon realized that the reason Kisha was looking for attention elsewhere was because he wasn’t giving her any. He was not being the spiritual leader, nor the man he was designed to be. Looking back, Rick saw how God began working even when they hadn’t invited him into their lives yet.
But even in victory, sin didn’t just vanish. They still needed others around them to process the affair, to encourage them, and to whom they could confess. They were both willing to do whatever it took to earn back trust: sharing phone passwords, sharing where they would be at all times, keeping nothing off limits. They learned to confess not just the big things, but the small things, too. Rick met Kisha with grace, compassion, love, and acceptance. And it changed both of them—forever, redefining forgiveneness for both of them.
Now, they share a passion for oneness and righteousness. They fight—day in and day out—for the marriage they’ve worked so hard for. Through their time in re|engage, they were able to learn what God’s grace looks like in a very real way—that the goal was not to avoid stumbling, but to walk in transparency, intimacy, and oneness.
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Overview: The second chapter of Luke tells us about Jesus’ childhood. From his dramatic birth in
Bethlehem, to the widespread recognition of his wisdom as a child in the temple, God is setting the
stage for Jesus to fulfill his place in history as the long awaited Messiah. One of the major themes in
this passage is assurance. Mary, the mother of Jesus, stepped out in faith to accept the difficult role
given to her by God. As God continues to work in the life of Jesus, Mary receives assurance of God’s
plan. She and Joseph take Jesus to the temple for dedication where two different people prophesy
about his future. The Bible records that Mary and Joseph “were amazed at the things said about him.”
As Jesus grew, many more people noticed his astonishing wisdom. God’s special favor was on this
young boy. The Scripture tells us that Mary “stored all these things in her heart.”
What part of the Christmas story amazes you the most?
Have you ever experienced fear at something God told you?
The birth of Jesus most certainly reassured Mary and Joseph in their belief and trust in God. How has God reassured you in times of uncertainty?
In what ways can you treasure your circumstances as proof of God’s faithfulness to you?
Read Hebrews 13:5-6. What is God’s assurance to you in this passage?
Write a prayer of thankfulness to God for his faithfulness in the midst of difficulty.
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A great way to understand the Bible is to put yourself in the story. Joseph and Mary were committed to be married. Before their marriage, Mary became pregnant. How would you have responded to that news? Joseph was a righteous man who loved Mary so he decided to break off their wedding quietly. However, God showed up in a dream and convincingly changed Joseph’s mind. Joseph took Mary as his wife and the whole world was changed because of Joseph’s obedience to God.
Have you ever decided on something and then God convincingly changed your mind?
Imagine yourself as Joseph. What would you have done?
Imagine yourself as Mary. What would you be feeling?
What was Joseph’s part in the birth and maturing of Jesus?
Oftentimes in the Christmas story, Joseph’s faithfulness and obedience is overlooked. Joseph took huge steps of faith to follow the Lord, and we should model our lives after Joseph’s life.
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Christmas, the season where just about everyone is asked the same question: “What do you want for Christmas?” The gift giver asks this of the receiver. But the very first Christmas a different question was asked. The Gift-Giver asked the gift receiver to be an active participant in the giving of the gift. The question was not: “What do you want” but rather “Will you be a part?” The Gift-Giver was choosing to allow the recipient to also be the gift distributor. Participation would not be easy. Participation would come with many unexpected challenges. But by choosing to participate in the Gift-Giver’s plan, the world, people’s lives and especially the participant’s life would never be the same again.
What promise has God made that will come to pass if you step out and serve? (vv 30-33)
What difficult thing is God asking you to do that seems impossible from your perspective? (v 34)
What difficult thing is God asking you to do that you do not want to do? (vv 35-36)
What is preventing you from saying yes to God’s request? (v 38)
What, if anything, causes hesitation in your heart and mind from believing, “No word from God will ever fail?”
Are you willing right now to say to the Gift Giver, “I am the Lord’s servant; may everything you have said about me come true?”
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