Life Groups

The Mind of Christ

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Lent is a season of remembering the life of Christ, with it climaxing on Good Friday and then Easter. We often pay attention to the sacrifice of Christ, but less to the life of Christ.

One of the interesting things about Jesus is that when people approached him and thought they were right about a certain topic, Jesus always turned it upside down. Because the reality of God is different than our own.

Jesus would say things like; “You have heard this, but I say to you it is this.” Or; “The kingdom of God is like this”….and then Jesus would give an illustration people would understand.

Most often Jesus did things opposite of what people thought was right. Especially when it came to people. Jesus was always showing the worth of a human being, no matter what they did.

This Lent think of the ways you can show kindness, gratitude, and service to someone different from you.

Access this months Life Lines Newsletter here.


What is "pure" gratitude?

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Most often we place gratitude in with saying thank you, or simply being a polite person. We also use gratitude as a way of shaming others; “You should be thankful that you have food at all!” “There are starving people all over the world!” We can use gratitude to smooth over real world problems that need fixing and we can use it to not deal with our own valid feelings.

Maybe you have experienced gratitude as a tool of shame. Maybe gratitude has played a huge part in your healthy lifestyle. Gratitude at it's purest can recenter us, not because it stops you from feeling sorry for yourself, but because it connects you back to the giver of all things, Christ.

Real gratitude helps center us. Helps us reconnect with God and with each other. We receive far more than we give within our own lives, so how can we practice a grateful presence that will  enrich our lives and others?

As we talk about Gratitude this month at New Hope, remind yourselves that the original break in the garden came from wanting to separate the gift from the source. How can you reconnect the gift of life to God? How can you reclaim your journey as one of deep gratitude that will spread to others?

You Can Grab your small group newsletter with discussion questions by clicking here.


Can Anything Good Come out of Nazareth?

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As we enter into the month of October, New Hope is talking about doing good. In Christianity being good has often been criticized, because we are saved by faith, not by works. Sadly we lose something in that frame of mind. Yes, it is true we are saved by faith and grace, but because of that, we should be urged to extend that same love, compassion, grace, and goodness to others. 

But maybe you feel like you aren't good, or anything special. Maybe you have had a difficult time and don't quite trust yourself to do good works without hurting others. It reminds me a conversation between Nathanael and Phillip in the new testament, speaking of this Jesus who comes out of Nazareth, Nathanael exclaims "Can anything good come from Nazareth?!" (John 1:46). Our ideas of good can be quite different than what God ends up showing us as good in life. Take heart, you are created good. You are created to do good things in the image of God, to serve others, to spread kindness, generosity, and love. You can do this. Because if something good came out of Nazareth, it can come from anywhere.

 

5x5 Daily Habit for October

5 Acts of Kindness, Service, and Gratitude daily.


Spring Cleaning

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Photo by Alexandru Tudorache on Unsplash

Spring Cleaning during Lent

This past Sunday we started a new sermon series called Spring Cleaning. This series is meant to help us prepare our hearts for Easter by decluttering our physical and spiritual lives. When we call a place home we tend to collect things over time, even to a point when we don't even realize that our garage was originally meant to store our car, not our stuff.

And perhaps there are things of our heart that have become clutter. The pains, betrayals, joys, yearnings all collect within our hearts. What are the things we are holding on to that keep us from truly finding joy? What is keeping you from truly connecting with God?

As we explore this together in the coming weeks, we have a small group curriculum that you might find helpful. It is a nice companion to the series, it is called: The Life You Always wanted by John Orteberg. You can grab your copy in the fellowship hall.


Summer Update

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Photo by Matt Zhou on Unsplash

    Summer has always been a time of renewal. We seem to set aside our normal ways and make way for relaxation and vacation. And we should, we don't work sabbath into our normal daily routines enough, but sadly one thing that we tend to sacrifice during summer is our church community. It makes sense, it's one more thing you have to worry about besides the travel and kids activities, but if your church community is a place of renewal and healing then it should be a must.

    That is why our series for the next three weeks is called This is Us. We will be exploring our mission statement Find a Home, Build a Life, and Make a Difference. There has been alot of changes in the past three years and we all feel it. We need a time of renewal, a time to remember what drew us to this faith community in the first place. Why do we value church? Why is it important? Is it not important anymore? We want to help our faith community rediscover the joy and the renewal that is offered here.

Here are a couple things to look forward to in this time of re-discovery!

  1. Go see Won't You Be My Neighbor? with your life group! We will be starting a series in the fall on this very topic!
  2. Put your picture on Realm! If you don't know how we will have stations to get your picture taken at church starting July 29th. If we can put a picture to a name we will be able to serve you better!
  3. Hands of Hope, this is a great event for our church to go out and serve our community on August 19th. We will have sign ups ready to go on July 29th. If you have a project that you think would fit into this Sunday, please contact Pastor Jordan!

Dress to Impress

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Clothes have symbolically played a role in humanity. Since the story of Eden when Adam and Eve realized they were naked and felt ashamed, so they created clothes, clothes have meant more to us then we have realized. For some it's a status symbol, the nicer the clothes the high status you attain. Others it is simply something you need and doesn't have to be fancy. 

Clothes also gives us something to hide behind. Those that are insecure about their bodies tend to wear clothes that cover up as much skin as possible. When we are in a relationship with someone the ultimate show of intimacy is losing the clothes, so that you know a person for who they are fully.

Of course the sermon series we are currently on is using clothes as a jumping off point to talk about something more intangible, our spirit, heart, and mind. In ways we have covered ourselves up in many different ways that keeps us from real relationship with others and God. We are to be a new creation through Christ, which means we must shed our "grave clothes" and put on the clothing of Christ.

Life Group Discussion Questions:

 1. Are there any other metaphors having to do with clothing that you can think of?

2. What was interesting to you about Russ' use of the Lazarus story on Easter, instead of the Resurrection story of Christ?

3. What are some grave clothes you need to shake off in order to wear a new wardrobe?

4. How do you put on the new self? For example, if you want to put on the clothes of kindness how would you begin to do that?

5. In what ways can you encourage one another to continue to put the clothing of Christ on and shed the old clothing?


Which side is up?

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Throughout Lent we have discovered the sermon on the mount, ending with the beatitudes with the climax of Easter upon us let's take a look at what all of this means for us, not only once a year, but each day of our lives.

Jesus turns our understanding of the world and structures of power and control upside down. As humans we are very much stuck in a worldview of tribalism. We have our tribes and we must protect it at all costs, no matter what the means to those other tribes around us. But Jesus calls us into a reality where power is no longer centralized in violence and self interest, but in compassion, love, and selflessness.

In your life groups read the beatitudes in Matthew 5 and discuss these questions.

  1. How do the eight Beatitudes relate to the promises that follow them?
  2. How would you describe the opposite of each quality?
  3. Is Jesus describing who his followers are? Or prescribing what they must do?
  4. Who do you admire as a good example of meekness? How do they model humility?
  5. In what ways do you try to be a peacemaker?
  6. How are these Beatitudes related to being salt and light?
  7. How do these qualities represent the opposite of what the world thinks are great qualities?

Voices of Hope Podcast

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What is a podcast?

A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically. 

That definition comes from the dictionary.....so it's legit.

What do we use a podcast for at New Hope?

Well, each week we post our sermons from Sunday on the podcast so if you want to re-listen or if you missed out on Sunday you could listen to it in your car on your way to work, or while at work, or when you are trying to tune out the crying and arguing of your children. Whatever works for you!

Is there anything else on the podcast besides sermons?

I'm so glad you asked! Yes, we have started a series called Voices of Hope, where we interview people from New Hope and beyond about how their faith has influenced their journey. The conversations range from what it is like to be an FBI swat agent with a christian faith to how someone created an online ethical clothing store! Everyone has a unique journey and when we share those stories people get to know more about New Hope!

Where can I listen to it?

iPhone users can search Voices of Hope on the Podcast app which looks like this:  Ios9-podcasts-app-tile

Android users can download the Podomatic app in the google play store and search for Voices of Hope.

If you don't want to listen on your phone you can just click here.

 

Can I share this podcast with friends?

Yes! You can share this on your facebook page, via email, just copy the link to the podcast site and send it to friends so they can get to know New Hope also!

 

Why a podcast?

Podcasts are becoming more popular, with the ease of access many people listen to podcasts in their car on their way to work. This is a way to "reach out" into our community and have people experience New Hope even before stepping through our doors! And it's just plain fun!

Could we use it for Life Groups?

Yes! Use these conversations to start your own at your life group!

 

 


Jesus said what?

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The last two weeks at New Hope we have heard sermons that connect with Jesus. Which makes sense since we are in the season of Lent. We heard a sermon about the 3rd way that Jesus often takes and last week we heard Russ talk about how Jesus shows us a path that let's our children flourish in this world.

Jesus turned things upside down. The religion that was born out of God and the Israelites became stagnate and Jesus came to usher humanity to the next level of faith. And two thousand years later we are still trying to get it right.

During this Lent season let's try to be more Christ-like, to be align with God, and to have the heart that God has for people. Because if we begin to love our neighbor as ourselves, the world could become a better place.

3rd Way Sermon Questions (You can listen to the sermon by clicking here)

Where do you need the 3rd way in your life?

What about what is going on in our country? Whether it is politics, media, social media, etc. we tend to jump into two different camps and yell at each other. What are some creative ways that we could find a 3rd way together?

When have you experienced people being used as "things" in an argument? How did that feel? 

The Big Change Sermon Questions (You can listen to the sermon here)

 There are lots of topics and issues for reflection this week. Pick the ones that have the most energy for you! Some are great for individual reflection (journaling, prayer, etc.) and others are ideal for discussions. Timing notes refer to the sermon recording (above)

"We have created a world that is not very safe for children" (2:18). 

In what ways is the world safer for children than before? What has made it that way?

In what ways is the world unsafe for children? In what ways are they most vulnerable?

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (5:25). The Lord's Prayer is not a formula for getting what we want from God, but a tool for aligning us with the desires of God. 

What parts of the Lord's Prayer are most compelling for you this week?

"The Kingdom of God" (8:15)

Some words were used to expand the meaning of the word "kingdom." Which ones resonated best with you? 

What other words and phrases would you add to this list?

Another list was created  (8:45) to illustrate what it looks like when the will of God is accomplished "on earth as it is in heaven."  What are some concrete examples where you have seen those things in your own life? What other examples would you add?

Where is the will of God being worked in your life?  How is it being worked through your life?

"How does this contribute to a world where children can thrive?" (15:30) The will of God on earth is more than this, but it is no less.

How would a question like this correspond to the Kingdom of God? Where would it not?

What are the things you are part of that focus on the needs of individual children?

What are the things you participate in that benefits the 'ecosystem' for children?

What are the things that you will do/not do, or say/not say that can contribute to a world where children thrive? What changes will need to be made for that to happen?

What other ways do you sense God is wanting to work in you and through you so that the will of God is being done on earth? 

What are the ways you are experiencing the Holy Discontent (3:20) of God as an impetus for a needed change in you? In your world?

How does the idea that God's discontent is experienced through our own emotions (frustration, anger, sadness, yearning, etc.) affect the way you will pray this week?


Fear Factor

 

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Remember that show, Fear Factor? When contestants went on this game show to win money by facing fears of heights, fast driving cars, and eating gross foods? The whole show surrounded itself around facing your fears and the one to conquer all of the fears one the money! What a rush. I remember seeing an episode when they had to roll a dice, on each side of this dice were different food items that were to be blended together for them to drink. This was not just regular food items but a menu of: pig intestine, animal fat, cow eyes, veal brain, spleen, cod liver oil, bile and fish sauce.

 

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Gross. These fears only seem to touch the surface of what we really fear. Our fears run much deeper and deeply affect how we view and treat others. This past Sunday we talked about fear in our wilderness (which you can listen to here). The Bible and Jesus have alot to say about fear, so why is it still so powerful in our lives and our culture? 

Life Group Questions:

  1. Why is the #1 command in the Bible, "Fear Not?" Where would it apply to you today?
  2. How does fear distort reality for us?
  3. What was a great fear as a kid? What did it feel like? How did you overcome it? How did it feel to overcome it?
  4. What are some fears that hold you back?
  5. Who inspires you to overcome fear? How did they do it?
  6. What is the cost of your fear? What is the cost of overcoming it?
  7. Who or What discourages you or makes you more fearful?