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Course by Community Christian Church (www.communitychristian.org), a member of the NewThing Network (www.newthing.

org)

Does Your Life Mirror Your TV?


TABLE
OF

CONTENTS

Click on the study title youd like to see: Study 1: Desperate Households Leaders Guide Participants Guide Study 2: EXTREME MAKEOVER Leaders Guide Participants Guide Study 3: THE APPRENTICE Leaders Guide Participants Guide Study 4: CSI: My Faith Leaders Guide Participants Guide

LEADERS GUIDE

FOR

STUDY 1

Desperate Households
Jesus Christ wants to transform the way you live your life. Jesus offers us a way out of schedules that are so crowded and stressful that our most important relationships are taking a backseat to our busy lives. Jesus offers true rest and a different way of life that will transform our relationships. This study will examine how to bring Gods perspective to our lives.

Lesson #1 Scripture: Matthew 11:2830; 23:14

LEADERS GUIDE Page 3

PART 1

Identify the Current Issue


Note to leader: At the beginning of the class, provide each person with the Participants Guide included at the end of this study.

The popular television show Desperate Housewives tells the story of a suburban neighborhood through the eyes of Mary Alice, who took her life although she lived in a perfect house in a lovely subdivision. From her elevated point of view, she brings us into the lives of her family, friends, and neighbors who have far more problems than solutions. For Mary Alice, its not a way of life; its a way of death. We may not be as conflicted and confused as those in Desperate Housewives, but there are plenty of areas in our lives we need to evaluate. Despite having more ways to stay in touch with each other, our hectic pace cuts away at the quality of our relationships. The pressures and demands on our time include sports leagues, work stress, and school activities, to name a few. They all seem to have one thing in commonthey weaken the relational bonds in our households. They all seem to be things that are beyond our control. We think, Thats just how life is. In Making Room for Life: Trading Chaotic Lifestyles for Connected Relationships, Randy Frazee describes how we live:
Many of us have squeezed living out of life. We dont have the time to soak in life and deep friendships. Were always running around trying to get to the next event. This presents at least two major problems. First, our busy lifestyle stimulates a toxic disease called crowded loneliness. But theres an even deeper problem. In our original design we were created with a connection requirement. If this requirement is not met, we will die. The initial thought is that the more financial resources you have, the more likely you are to have a stress-free, relaxing life. In reality, though, studies show that with increased resources comes increased complexity, not simplicity. If they arent especially careful, the ones who have more actually have more with which to destroy themselves.... Robert Putnam suggests this formula: For every ten minutes you spend in an automobile, you reduce your available time for relationships by ten percent. If his calculations are accurate, as you look at your social world you may conclude that you not only dont have any social capital available at the end of the day, but also that you are going into social debt. If you believe that we are created as social beings who require a quantity (and a quality) of people interaction each day to survive, then this means we are dyingnot from physical illnesses, but from social illness as well. Im quite confident that, as historians look back on this era in which we live, one of the marks we will bear is the death of community....

So we end up with desperate households. We might not be doing many of the things that the characters on Desperate Housewives do, but what drives them and what drives us is often the same: an always busy, hectic pace, loneliness in the crowd, and lack of connection with the people we love.

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Discussion starter:

[Q] Tell a story about a time when you were trying to juggle too many things. What
happened?
PART 2

Discover the Eternal Principles


Teaching point one: Jesus wants to release us from manmade burdens.
Read Matthew 23:14. In Jesus day, the thing that made people weary and burdened was legalistic religion. People were told they had to follow an overwhelming number of religious rules and perform extensive rituals on a regular basis to make themselves acceptable to God and acceptable in the eyes of others, also known as good, upstanding people. So they either wore themselves out trying or just gave up on it all, writing the whole religion thing (and themselves) off as hopeless.

[Q] In Matthew 23:14, Jesus said the Pharisees and teachers of the law tie up heavy loads
and put them on mens shoulders. What are some expectations in your church (either now or in the past) that are burdensome and heavy?

[Q] In what ways do you struggle with feeling that you have to earn Gods grace through your
behavior?

[Q] Do you ever feel that to earn the acceptance of those in your church you must live up to
certain expectations? How can you let Christ release you from those expectations?

[Q] What expectations does Christ have of us? How are they different from human
expectations?

Teaching point two: Jesus wants to give us rest for our souls.
What makes us weary and burdened today may be different than in Jesus day, but the effects are much the same. We try to do endless and ultimately empty activities for the good of our families, and we end up hectic, disconnected, frenzied, and tired. Read Matthew 11:2830.

[Q] According to this passage, who claimed the authority and power to give people rest? Why
might this claim have been shocking to Jesus audience? Who in the world around you today makes claims like this? Leaders Note: Jesus made the claim. This invitation was unthinkable from anyone else besides God: who else could truly provide rest? Jesus preached to crowds in Galilee. This claim of the ability to offer rest was amazing. Modern-day examples of people or organizations making similar claims could include advertisers (our product will save you time, make you less stressed, stabilize your moods, help you sleep, etc.). The rise in

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LEADERS GUIDE Page 5

popularity of meditation and yoga is largely due to their promise that people will find restrelaxation, calm, focus. Health clubs, resorts, spas, golf clubs, pharmaceutical companies, etc. are all selling rest.

[Q] What kind of rest do you think Jesus promised in this passage?
Leaders Note: Rest doesnt mean kicking back and doing nothing. It means relief from what burdens us and refreshment through the way of living that Jesus offered. The true rest that Jesus offered is a life free from striving to earn Gods favor and mercy. Jesus said you dont have to earn Gods grace; it is offered through faith in him.

[Q] Do you associate being a Christ follower with finding rest? Why or why not?
Leaders Note: Most people dont associate following Jesus with rest. For many of us, both in our minds and in our experience, its just the opposite. Christianity just adds more effort, work, and things to do to our already overcrowded schedules. But thats not Christ following as Jesus meant for it to be. He meant for it to bring a person relief from the imperious demands of the things that tend to drive us and strip our lives of meaning, balance, and fulfillment.

[Q] Who did Jesus say his rest was for?


Leaders Note: All who come to him. He did not reserve it for the religious, the educated, the naturally good, those who are trying hard, or the above average, but anybody and everybody whos weary and burdened.

[Q] According to the passage, how does this rest come to us?
Leaders Note: It is given. It isnt something you have to qualify for or earn. Jesus will give you rest, relief, and a new, refreshing way of living. The rest is received voluntarily. His rest is something we enjoy while we submit to being yoked with him. We need to actively participate in his rest. It is not passive. Jesus said take, which means we must choose what he wants to give us. He doesnt force his ways on us. Its our choice. There is another way to live than in desperate households, even though it feels like we have no choice.

[Q] What is a yoke? What could Jesus yoke be for you?


Leaders Note: A yoke was a wooden collar that fit across the neck of an animal that was used for plowing or pulling a cart. When Jesus said, take my yoke and learn from me, it was a euphemism in those days for submitting to someones authority as your leader. When an inexperienced farm animal, like an ox, was learning to pull a plow or a wagon, it would be put in a yoke with two slots: one for the inexperienced young animal and another for an older, more experienced animal so the younger one could learn to pull. Jesus said he would be right there beside us, teaching us. Hes the experienced one that we learn from.

[Q] What would it be like to learn from Jesus?

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Leaders Note: Jesus said, I am gentle and humble of heart. He is not some whipcracking taskmaster who will beat us down. His yoke is easy, which is better translated fits wellit is in accordance with our design. And he said his burden is light. Light doesnt mean its a piece of cake. Light means that it is not something that will break you, but will work for you. One scholar put it this way: It is not that the burden is easy to carry; but it is laid on us in love; it is meant to be carried in love; and love makes even the heaviest burden light.
PART 3

Apply Your Findings


When it comes to your schedule, you may feel you dont have enough control to say no to all the events on your calendar, but Jesus said we do. Coming to him to find rest for your soul is another way to live, instead of being driven by all the things on your schedule.

[Q] Is it possible for you to cut out the busyness and chaos from your life? How?
Optional Activity: Make a list of everything you do on a weekly basis. Put a star by those that cannot change. This may be your job or household chores. Everything that is left is extra and not necessary. Out of those, put a check by the one that seems most important. Consider whether the others can be eliminated from your schedule. Spend the week praying about this. Let God inform you as to how you should be spending your time.

2006 CHRISTIANITY TODAY INTERNATIONAL AND NEWTHING Visit SmallGroups.com and ChristianBibleStudies.com

PARTICIPANTS GUIDE

FOR

STUDY 1

Desperate Households
Jesus Christ wants to transform the way you live your life. Jesus offers us a way out of schedules that are so crowded and stressful that our most important relationships are taking a backseat to our busy lives. Jesus offers true rest and a different way of life that will transform our relationships. This study will examine how to bring Gods perspective to our lives.

Lesson #1 Scripture: Matthew 11:2830; 23:14

Desperate Households

PARTICIPANTS GUIDE Page 8

PART 1

Identify the Current Issue


The popular television show Desperate Housewives tells the story of a suburban neighborhood through the eyes of Mary Alice, who took her life although she lived in a perfect house in a lovely subdivision. From her elevated point of view, she brings us into the lives of her family, friends, and neighbors who have far more problems than solutions. For Mary Alice, its not a way of life; its a way of death. We may not be as conflicted and confused as those in Desperate Housewives, but there are plenty of areas in our lives we need to evaluate. Despite having more ways to stay in touch with each other, our hectic pace cuts away at the quality of our relationships. The pressures and demands on our time include sports leagues, work stress, and school activities, to name a few. They all seem to have one thing in commonthey weaken the relational bonds in our households. So we end up with desperate households. We might not be doing many of the things that the characters on Desperate Housewives do, but what drives them and what drives us is often the same: an always busy, hectic pace, loneliness in the crowd, and lack of connection with the people we love.
PART 2

Discover the Eternal Principles


Teaching point one: Jesus wants to release us from manmade burdens.
(Matthew 23:14)

Teaching point two: Jesus wants to give us rest for our souls.
(Matthew 11:2830)

PART 3

Apply Your Findings


When it comes to your schedule, you may feel you dont have enough control to say no to all the events on your calendar, but Jesus said we do. Coming to him to find rest for your soul is another way to live, instead of being driven by all the things on your schedule.

2006 CHRISTIANITY TODAY INTERNATIONAL AND NEWTHING Visit SmallGroups.com and ChristianBibleStudies.com

LEADERS GUIDE

FOR

STUDY 2

Extreme Makeover
God wants to do an extreme makeover on our jobs so our work becomes about touching the lives of other people. Until we let Jesus Christ order our lives, we will be living for all the wrong reasons. As we trust him to show us whats important and how to treat others as he would, we will get the point of why he has us on earth. This study will examine how to let Christ bring meaning and purpose to all we do, especially in our places of work.

Lesson #2 Scripture: Nehemiah 4:117; 5:112; 6:1516; 8:917

Extreme Makeover

LEADERS GUIDE Page 2

PART 1

Identify the Current Issue


Note to leader: At the beginning of the class, provide each person with the Participants Guide included at the end of this study.

In each episode of Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, Ty Pennington, his designers, and a crew of hundreds of workers descend on a familys home for an extreme makeover. These families are in need and their home is too small or run down. Many times, the designers and workers just level the house and build a whole new one on the site. Perhaps we all need an extreme makeover. Sometimes we have to level our old way of living and adopt an entirely new one that conforms to all God has for us to do and be. One piece of research says that 89 percent of people hate their jobs. Whether that is a reliable stat or not, many people are not fulfilled in their work because they are doing a job they dont enjoy, their careers are dominated by pressure, stress, and cutthroat competition, or they cant get along with their coworkers.

Discussion starters:

[Q] What was your first job? [Q] What was your worst job, and why? What has been your best job, and why?
PART 2

Discover the Eternal Principles


Teaching point one: God wants to reshape our attitudes about our work and the relationships we have there.
Solomon, Davids son, became king of Israel in 970 B.C. The next 270 years were filled with a long lineup of miserable kings and angry prophets as Israel turned to idols and sinful living. God sent prophets to warn his people not to worship idols, or God would destroy the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and disperse his people. About the year 700 B.C., the city of Jerusalem was besieged, and the Assyrians took the people of Israel into captivity. In the year 586 B.C. the southern kingdom of Gods people, Judah, fell to the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar. The temple was ransacked and all valuable items were taken. Many Jews, such as Daniel and Esther, held prominent positions within the foreign empire. In the year 539, Cyrus, King of Persia, overthrew Babylon, and 2 Chronicles records how the first Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem. God had also promised through the prophet Jeremiah that he would preserve a remnant of his people, and that he would restore his relationship with them. When King Cyrus proclaimed freedom for the 12 tribes of the Jewish people, only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin responded and returned to rebuild Gods temple and the Jewish homeland. The ten tribes of

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the northern kingdom had been so assimilated by the conquering empire that many had lost their identity as Gods chosen people and refused to return. Before the exile, the people of Israel had their own army, king, language, and identity wrapped in their history as Gods people. But after so many years of captivity, they retained almost nothing of this heritage. Many of the Jews in captivity had accumulated great wealth, and returning to Jerusalem would mean giving up land and trading relationships. The journey from Babylon to Jerusalem took over four months and was dangerous and expensive. If they returned to Jerusalem, there would be a lot of rebuilding to do. Think about the effort of rebuilding Chicago after the great fire in 1871, San Francisco after the great earthquake of 1906, New York after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Baghdad after the Iraq War, or New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. That is the scale of the work that needed to be done. King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jewish exiles to return in the year 538 B.C. with many of the gold items that had been taken 60 or so years earlier. The first group of about 50,000 exiles returned with Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple, but their enemies stopped them after a 20-year struggle. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the people during this time. Gods work in the world is not without opposition. King Darius of Babylon ordered the building of the temple to stop, but after searching the royal archives he found the original proclamation decree issued by the now dead King Cyrus. King Darius then decreed that the work of rebuilding the temple should continue. The Book of Ezra tells the story of the first and second waves of exiles that returned to Jerusalem. They discovered that the Jewish people had once again intermarried with the pagan people of the land, and that their idol worship had resumed. Ezra confronted the spiritual sinfulness of Gods people and they repented. Ezra was able to restore worship at the temple, but the wall of Jerusalem remained in ruins. Thirteen years later Nehemiah returned with another small group to Jerusalem, with the blessing of the Persian King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah was a man of action. He left a key position in the Persian government to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and begin a religious revival of Gods people. When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he found a disorganized group of people and a defenseless city with no walls to protect it. When Nehemiah arrived, everyone knew he was in charge as he organized, directed, and inspired the workers. To Ezra and Nehemiah, the work was not just about rebuilding walls, the temple, homes, roads, or commerce. The real mission was rebuilding the people and restoring their relationship with God. Read Nehemiah 4:117. The Bible contains the message that the job is not the job; the people are the job. We tend to want to find all our satisfaction in the things our jobs require us to do, which leads us to think that the things we do everyday equal the job. But the job is not the job; the people we come into contact with every day through our job are the job. God calls us to see our jobs as not about us but about other people. No matter how menial, boring, or distasteful our jobs are, we all deal with people. God can do an extreme makeover on our jobs by getting us to focus on the people we come into contact with more than the tasks we have to do. We each have a chance to touch the lives of other people. God can help us experience our jobs in a whole new way by focusing on the people we come into contact with. The job is not the job. The people are the job.

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Extreme Makeover

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[Q] Sanballat and Tobiah were local governors under the Persians who viewed Nehemiah and
the returned exiles as a threat to their positions. Which of the following has been most difficult for you in your work: a. Trying to accomplish a big task with few people and resources b. Picking up the pieces of a project that is going, or has already gone, down the toilet c. Working on something that others dont see as being of value d. Working in a role that others see as low and insignificant e. Toiling away at a project that larger forces seem bent on destroying (regulations, bureaucracy, special interest groups, office politics, etc.) f. Other:

[Q] In verses 4 and 9, how did Nehemiah respond to his enemies threats? Did he say
anything that surprises you? Leaders Note: Nehemiah prayed. It is encouraging to read of someone whose first impulse is to pray in the face of danger and insult. It is also shocking that Nehemiah didnt ask for protection. Instead, he asked God to justly punish those who were mocking him.

[Q] After the insults and mocking didnt work, Nehemiahs enemies began plotting to attack
the Jews and the work of rebuilding. But the next real threat did not come from the Israelites enemies but from themselves. How would you describe these obstacles to the project in your own words (v. 1012)? Leaders Note: The Jews were getting tired, and the work seemed insurmountable. The Jews that lived among the Samaritans overheard the Samaritan plot to stir up trouble and physically assault the Hebrew workers. The Jews were afraid and began to stir up fear in the workers and among the exiles in Jerusalem.

[Q] Accomplishing a big job requires physical, mental, and spiritual strength. What does
Nehemiah remind the people of to refocus their efforts? Leaders Note: Nehemiah reminded the builders of the great purpose behind building the walls (the restoration of Jerusalem and the long-term protection of Gods people). He reminded them that they were not going to accomplish this great task by themselves that God was a part of the effort. He reminded them that the job was not about the wall, but about the people that the wall would be protecting.

[Q] When your job gets tough, how do you get yourself and others on your team refocused?
Teaching point two: God wants us to see those we work with as the ministry he has given us.
Work is valuable in itself. God made one day in seven a day for Sabbath or rest. It is not his design for us to enjoy a perpetual retirement from work. Work is also valuable because of the resources it creates to meet our needs of protection (homes), food, and health, among many other things. God has also given us direction as to how we should use our wealth. We need to give a portion back to him (a tithe to the church10 percent), save for times of hardship or lack, and give compassionately to help the poor.

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Extreme Makeover

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The capitalist world disproportionately rewards those people with knowledge, wisdom, social connections, and a penchant for taking calculated risks. As Gods people, we need to be advocates for the under-resourced and for honest, hard-working people. We need to be involved through the press and media. We need to be involved in local, state, and national politics as Christs Spirit leads us. Read Nehemiah 5:112. During the rebuilding of the wall, life went on for the Jewish people in the area. Grain was running short, and some Jewish nobles and officials took economic advantage of those less well off. To Nehemiah, it must have been like trying to deal with a war and a recession at the same time.

[Q] What are some ways Nehemiah could have responded to this situation?
Leaders Note: Nehemiah could have asked everyone to just focus on building the wall and deal with their personal problems when the job was done. Instead, he directly confronted those in power and compassionately restored the rights of those being taken advantage of.

[Q] In your own job, are you ever tempted to overlook others personal problems to
accomplish your goals? What are the dangers of ignoring personal problems in the workplace? Leaders Note: In our places of work, we are often encouraged to look past or ignore personal issues, often to the long-term harm of our places of employment. In times and places of economic prosperity, God calls us to use some of the wealth from our jobs to help those in need. We are not to charge interest (usury) when we give loans to others. We are not to exact profit from the misfortunes of others. We are not to exploit the poor and powerless.

[Q] In what ways can your work benefit others far beyond the confines of your workplace? [Q] What can you do to stand up for those who are being taken advantage of?
Teaching point three: God wants to be glorified in all that we do.
Read Nehemiah 6:1516 and 8:917. In Nehemiah 8:9, we read that Ezra was the official religious leader, not Nehemiah. It is important to realize that Nehemiah, while a deeply spiritual man, was not a member of the priesthood (the Levites) and was not considered a prophet of his day. He was a layman. For most of his life he was devoted to doing Gods will in a secular role (as an official in the Persian government under King Artaxerxes).

[Q] What do you think is the difference in value to God between the work of priests (pastors
and church staff) and the work of people in the marketplace? Leaders Note: God values the full-time work of pastors and priests in service to his church. God values priests and pastors for their gifts of teaching, apostleship, and shepherding, and as they lead others in the sacraments of baptism, Communion, and marriage. God values the leadership of priests and pastors as they inspire the church to reach out to and care for a lost and unreconciled world. God also values the leadership

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of a corporate CEO who compassionately uses profits to restore environmental health. God values the work of a janitor or maintenance person who keeps an office clean. God values the laypeople who, as members of the priesthood of all believers, share their faith with their neighbors. Both Ezra and Nehemiah exercised courage to do the difficult and dangerous work of God through rebuilding his temple and the walls around Jerusalem to protect the remnant of his people. Nehemiahs wall-building and faith-restoring work has had history-making impact. Through the sustained lineage of the Hebrew people, Jesus of Nazareth was born, as promised. One of Gods most important bridge builders was Saul, a devout Jew who persecuted early Christ followers in the first century A.D. Jesus Christ, in the Spirit, revealed himself to Saul and called him to be his ambassador and bridge builder to the non-Jewish world. Jesus renamed Saul Paul. Paul wrote most of the books of the New Testament, including Colossians. Read Colossians 3:2324. Paul addressed Christ followers in Colosse, a city in Asia Minor. Paul wrote from prison in Rome to this church he probably had never visited. There were many slaves in the church, and while Paul did not condemn or condone slavery, he insisted that in Christ there is equality between slaves and free people. He encouraged the slaves to work hard for their masters, with the attitude that they are really serving and working for God and not for men. He reminded them that God would reward them for their hard work.

[Q] Whether you feel like a slave to your company or not, how does being motivated to do
your work for God improve the effort and quality of what you do? Leaders Note: If glorifying God is the reason we work hard, the quality of our work and the benefits we receive from working will increase.
PART 3

Apply Your Findings


Tim Sanders, the leadership coach at Yahoo, said on a radio talk show that people in the business world need to tell people face-to-face what they appreciate about them, because most people feel beat up by life. Sometime after that talk show, he got an e-mail from a manager he referred to as Steve, who worked for a large global software company in the greater Seattle area. The subject line said X-Box story, and the e-mail read:
I have nine software engineers that work for me and I had never seen any, except one, face-to-face. And we all work in the same building. We just do everything by e-mail and instant messenger; its just easier. (Ten feet away, e-mailing each other. Have you ever done that?) But I decided to take seriously what you said and tell each of my employees two reasons I think theyre wonderful. So I went around to each cubicle and I walked in and put my arm around each one of my folks and I told them the two reasons I admired them. And a couple of days later one of my engineers, Ill call him Lenny, comes up to me with this poorly wrapped, but well-intended gift. And it was the best

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gift a man could ever get in August: X-box and a copy of John Madden 2004 (Video football game, right?). And I looked at Lenny, whom I hadnt given a raise to since I dont remember when, and Im like, Whered you get the money? And he looked back at me and said the one phrase you never want to hear as a manager who has ignored his people: I sold my 9 millimeter. (pause, gulp). He had my attention. And Lenny goes on to say, You never asked me about my personal life the entire time Ive worked here, so why dont I tell you now: I moved here from Denver because my mom died. She was my only friend, and when she died I was totally alone so I thought Id move to Seattle and start over again with a new company. Ive never made a friend at this company. If I died, payroll would tell you. I got depressed. Im online all the time, so I went online and searched dead mom solution, and I found 100 chat rooms that would tutor me on what they call the final solution. I took a paycheck and I went and bought a beautiful chromeplated 9 mm and a box of bullets. And I began to practice every day for the last six months. Id go home and Id put on Curt Kobain and Id eat my ramen noodles and Id get the cigar box I kept my gun in and Id get used to putting bullets in the gun and (pointing at myself) setting it on the top of my teeth. And the last few weeks the safety was off, dude, and I was this close. And then the other day you freaked me out. You come into my cubicle and I dont even know you. You put your arm around me, and you told me I was funny over e-mail. You told me I turn in every project a day early and help you sleep at night. And then you told me, you said, Lenny, Im glad you came into my life. I went home that night, listened to Soundgarden, and ate ramen noodles. And when I popped the top off that cigar box the light popped off the chrome on that pistol and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and I was scared. And then I said the words out loud that saved my life: Im glad you came into my life, Lenny. I got up the next day and went to the pawnshop, and they gave me 250 bucks for it. And then I realized that for months you have been complaining on e-mail and over instant messenger that your financial controller, a.k.a. your wife, will not let you purchase the X-Box game system because youve got that new baby at home to feed. So Steve, for my life, this gift is for you.

Work, at one time or another, is a challenge for most of us. We spend probably 30 percent of our lives at work. God challenges us to see work as a good thing that he has created. Sin, sickness, poverty, and hunger are all things our jobs can help alleviate, when we are prayerful and obedient to God. Our attitudes about work and our colleagues can lead people to a life of faith in God.

[Q] What are some simple steps you can take this month in your workplace (including your
home) that will make your efforts more glorifying to God?

2006 CHRISTIANITY TODAY INTERNATIONAL AND NEWTHING Visit SmallGroups.com and ChristianBibleStudies.com

PARTICIPANTS GUIDE

FOR

STUDY 2

Extreme Makeover
God wants to do an extreme makeover on our jobs so our work becomes about touching the lives of other people. Until we let Jesus Christ order our lives, we will be living for all the wrong reasons. As we trust him to show us whats important and how to treat others as he would, we will get the point of why he has us on earth. This study will examine how to let Christ bring meaning and purpose to all we do, especially in our places of work.

Lesson #2 Scripture: Nehemiah 4:117; 5:112; 6:1516; 8:917

Extreme Makeover

PARTICIPANTS GUIDE Page 9

PART 1

Identify the Current Issue


In each episode of Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, Ty Pennington, his designers, and a crew of hundreds of workers descend on a familys home for an extreme makeover. These families are in need and their home is too small or run down. Many times, the designers and workers just level the house and build a whole new one on the site. Perhaps we all need an extreme makeover. Sometimes we have to level our old way of living and adopt an entirely new one that conforms to all God has for us to do and be. One piece of research says that 89 percent of people hate their jobs. Whether that is a reliable stat or not, many people are not fulfilled in their work because they are doing a job they dont enjoy, their careers are dominated by pressure, stress, and cutthroat competition, or they cant get along with their coworkers.
PART 2

Discover the Eternal Principles


Teaching point one: God wants to reshape our attitudes about our work and the relationships we have there.

[Q] Sanballat and Tobiah were local governors under the Persians who viewed Nehemiah and
the returned exiles as a threat to their positions. Which of the following has been most difficult for you in your work: a. Trying to accomplish a big task with few people and resources b. Picking up the pieces of a project that is going, or has already gone, down the toilet c. Working on something that others dont see as being of value d. Working in a role that others see as low and insignificant e. Toiling away at a project that larger forces seem bent on destroying (regulations, bureaucracy, special interest groups, office politics, etc.) f. Other:

Teaching point two: God wants us to see those we work with as the ministry he has given us.
(Nehemiah 5:112)

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PARTICIPANTS GUIDE Page 10

Teaching point three: God wants to be glorified in all that we do.


(Nehemiah 6:1516, 8:917, Colossians 3:2324)

PART 3

Apply Your Findings


Work, at one time or another, is a challenge for most of us. We spend probably 30 percent of our lives at work. God challenges us to see work as a good thing that he has created. Sin, sickness, poverty, and hunger are all things that our jobs can help alleviate, when we are prayerful and obedient to God. Our attitudes about work and our colleagues can lead people to a life of faith in God.

2006 CHRISTIANITY TODAY INTERNATIONAL AND NEWTHING Visit SmallGroups.com and ChristianBibleStudies.com

LEADERS GUIDE

FOR

STUDY 3

The Apprentice
Jesus Christ wants us to be his apprentices. Real success is not a job that brings us power, prestige, and possessions. True greatness and significance are found in a life of serving God and others. This study will examine how to reorient our lives in that direction.

Lesson #3 Scripture: Matthew 16:2126; 20:1728; John 13:317

The Apprentice

LEADERS GUIDE Page 2

PART 1

Identify the Current Issue


Note to leader: At the beginning of the class, provide each person with the Participants Guide included at the end of this study.

On The Apprentice, people from different career backgrounds compete for a job in Donald Trumps corporate empire. As the contestants compete for Trumps attention, the key phrase is Youre fired, as people are let go when they dont measure up or are bested by others in the highly competitive interview process. The one who wins the show gets a $250,000 job working for Trump. This show may look like its about work, but its really about success. Sociologist Tony Campolo, in his book The Success Fantasy, says our culture is obsessed with success defined as power, prestige, and possessions. If you think of what Trump is known for (other than the hair), it is those three things: power, prestige, and possessions. The Apprentice isnt about job satisfaction; its about success. There are no studies that indicate that people who have lots of power, prestige, and possessions are happier or more fulfilled than those who dont. Some studies indicate that successful people are less happy than others. Real success isnt found in power, prestige, and possessions. Its found in Jesus Christ.

Discussion starter:

[Q] If you were given a million dollars tomorrow, what is the first thing you would do with the
money? (Please dont feel the need to impress anyone with a profound, save-the-world type of answer.)
PART 2

Discover the Eternal Principles


Teaching point one: Jesus calls us to a life of purpose, not possessions.
Read Matthew 16:2126. Human beings value a life free of suffering, but this was not Gods plan for Jesus or us. Modern-day examples of human values being paraded as Gods values might include the prosperity gospel, which says that the life of a Christ follower is one of material abundance, happiness, and health. Passages like this show that this is not true. We need to weigh purpose against possessions. Ultimately, success is defined in our culture by how much you own, or perhaps more accurately, how much you consume. Its not just about having things; its about needing things to make us happy. God says that real success is having a life that is driven by purpose, not possessions. The purpose is twofold: loving God and loving people. Thats real success, real happiness, and real fulfillment in this life.

[Q] Why do you think Peter rebuked Jesus for predicting his suffering and death?

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The Apprentice

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Leaders Note: This is the first time Jesus predicted his suffering and death publicly. Jesus disciples, including Peter, did not understand that being the Messiah would involve suffering and death. They thought he was going to be a conquering king that would bring them earthly freedom from the Roman occupation.

[Q] Why do you think Jesus responded to Peter the way he did?
Leaders Note: When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he tried to get him to accept greatness without having to suffer or die. Peter, from his human perspective, pleaded with Jesus in the same way as Satan did.

[Q] When Jesus said, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up
their cross and follow me, what do you think he meant? a. Following Jesus is going to metaphorically cost you a lot b. You have to stop doing what you want and begin doing what God wants c. It is not enough to just believe and confess that Jesus is the Messiah d. If Jesus mission ultimately involved the cross, then his disciples must be willing to suffer in the same way for the mission e. Denying yourself means living a life of service to others, as Jesus did f. Other:

[Q] What do you think For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses
their life for me will find it means? a. Only causes worth dying for are worth living for b. If we protect ourselves from pain, we begin to die spiritually c. If you focus on obtaining worldly wealth, power, and fame now, you wont experience an eternal kingdom life with God after you die d. Through complete surrender comes complete victory e. If we forsake success, status, and worldly pleasures, well find true significance and self-fulfillment through serving others f. Other:

[Q] What temptations, if given into, rob us of life?


Leaders Note: All sin (the taste of forbidden fruit) robs us of a greater good that God wants to give us freely. Worldly wealth and all the treasures on earth do not satisfy, and we can take none of them with us.

[Q] In what ways do we forfeit our souls or exchange our souls for the worldly possessions
and experiences that we desire?

Teaching point two: Jesus calls us to a life of surrender, not power.


Read Matthew 20:1728. Verses 1719 relate the third time Jesus predicted his death and resurrection. It seems strange that immediately after these verses, the narrative flows into a mothers request for her sons to get the prime spots in heaven. The mother of James and John wanted her sons to receive a special privilege. Jesus patiently questioned James and John, who did not really know what they were asking.

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The Apprentice

LEADERS GUIDE Page 4

The principle here is surrender versus power. The worlds formula for success is competition: proving that you are better than others because of what you have accomplished. Gods pathway to success starts not with competing for power but with giving up power. It starts with surrendering your own pursuit of success to God and saying, I want your success, real success, the significance that comes only from you.

[Q] What is the cup that Jesus talked about in verses 22 and 23?
Leaders Note: The principle here is that only those who suffer for Christ will reign with him. The cup represents the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. In verse 23, Jesus foretold that both James and John would suffer on his behalf. We know through the traditions of the church that James indeed died for his faith, and that John suffered exile and torment. In verse 24 we are told that the other ten disciples became jealous of James and John. They werent getting the point either. They wanted the top positions in Jesus new kingdom, too.

[Q] When you look at the world around you and think of the hierarchy of privilege and
respect, and then compare it to Jesus way of looking at and evaluating people, do you think well be surprised when we get to heaven and see who is exalted and who is humbled? Leaders Note: Peoples rank on the Day of Judgment in heaven (Matthew 5:19) will confound many of our expectations (Matthew 18:4; 23:11). The pride of many who are respected in todays church will be exposed, while conversely, Gods revelation of the lives of many humble and unknown servants of Christ will bring him much honor.

[Q] Can you think of a time when you have given up a privilege or served someone else and
were rewarded by God? Tell us about it.

[Q] What opportunities do you have right now to serve someone else or give up a prime spot
for someone?

Teaching point three: Jesus calls us to a life of service, not prestige.


Read John 13:317. Jesus spoke these words to his disciples on the night he was betrayed by Judas. Jesus was crucified the next day. Washing guests feet was the responsibility of household servants; Jesus humbled himself to that level.

[Q] What life lessons stand out to you from this story? [Q] Name some practical ways that you can wash someones feet. In other words, a way that
you can sacrificially serve others.

[Q] Name some Christians you know of who live this way.

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The Apprentice

LEADERS GUIDE Page 5

PART 3

Apply Your Findings


In our culture, success means all sorts of privileges: the best tables, flying first class, sky boxes or luxury boxes at games, people wanting to do you favors, and so on. We think, Man! It would be great to live like that. Nobody says its not fun, but nothing suggests that kind of success brings true happiness. Philip Yancey says hes interviewed hundreds of people in his career as a journalist, and they can all be divided into two categories: stars and servants. What he found was that he was surprised by how unhappy the stars are when they have it all, and he was also surprised by how envious he was of the servants. Servants like Mother Teresa who gave their lives for the good of others. When she died, Mother Teresas possessions totaled two simple dresses (called saris in India) and a bucket. We need to be willing to let Jesus cleanse us. We need to forgive others for the sins they commit against us. We need to follow Jesus example by humbly serving others.

[Q] Is there anyone to whom you can begin offering some simple acts of service? Write your
ideas down, and ask a partner in your small group to hold you accountable. Ask your partner to pray for you as you begin this new attempt to be a servant.

2006 CHRISTIANITY TODAY INTERNATIONAL AND NEWTHING Visit SmallGroups.com and ChristianBibleStudies.com

PARTICIPANTS GUIDE

FOR

STUDY 3

The Apprentice
Jesus Christ wants us to be his apprentices. Real success is not a job that brings us power, prestige, and possessions. True greatness and significance are found in a life of serving God and others. This study will examine how to reorient our lives in that direction.

Lesson #3 Scripture: Matthew 16:2126; 20:1728; John 13:317

PARTICIPANTS GUIDE

The Apprentice

Page 7

PART 1

Identify the Current Issue


On The Apprentice, people from different career backgrounds compete for a job in Donald Trumps corporate empire. As the contestants compete for Trumps attention, the key phrase is Youre fired, as people are let go when they dont measure up or are bested by others in the highly competitive interview process. The one who wins the show gets a $250,000 job working for Trump. There are no studies that indicate that people who have lots of power, prestige, and possessions are happier or more fulfilled than those who dont. Some studies indicate that successful people are less happy than others. Real success isnt found in power, prestige, and possessions. Its found in Jesus Christ.
PART 2

Discover the Eternal Principles


Teaching point one: Jesus calls us to a life of purpose, not possessions.
(Matthew 16:2126)

[Q] When Jesus said, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up
their cross and follow me, what do you think he meant? a. Following Jesus is going to metaphorically cost you a lot b. You have to stop doing what you want and begin doing what God wants c. It is not enough to just believe and confess that Jesus is the Messiah d. If Jesus mission ultimately involved the cross, then his disciples must be willing to suffer in the same way for the mission e. Denying yourself means living a life of service to others, as Jesus did f. Other:

[Q] What do you think For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses
their life for me will find it means? a. Only causes worth dying for are worth living for b. If we protect ourselves from pain, we begin to die spiritually c. If you focus on obtaining worldly wealth, power, and fame now, you wont experience an eternal kingdom life with God after you die d. Through complete surrender comes complete victory e. If we forsake success, status, and worldly pleasures, well find true significance and self-fulfillment through serving others f. Other:

2006 CHRISTIANITY TODAY INTERNATIONAL AND NEWTHING Visit SmallGroups.com and ChristianBibleStudies.com

PARTICIPANTS GUIDE

The Apprentice

Page 8

Teaching point two: Jesus calls us to a life of surrender, not power.


(Matthew 20:1728)

Teaching point three: Jesus calls us to a life of service, not prestige.


(John 13:317)

PART 3

Apply Your Findings


In our culture, success means all sorts of privileges: the best tables, flying first class, sky boxes or luxury boxes at games, people wanting to do you favors, and so on. We think, Man! It would be great to live like that. Nobody says its not fun, but nothing suggests that kind of success brings true happiness. Philip Yancey says hes interviewed hundreds of people in his career as a journalist, and they can all be divided into two categories: stars and servants. What he found was that he was surprised by how unhappy the stars are when they have it all, and he was also surprised by how envious he was of the servants. Servants like Mother Teresa who gave their lives for the good of others. When she died, Mother Teresas possessions totaled two simple dresses (called saris in India) and a bucket. We need to be willing to let Jesus cleanse us. We need to forgive others for the sins they commit against us. We need to follow Jesus example by humbly serving others.

2006 CHRISTIANITY TODAY INTERNATIONAL AND NEWTHING Visit SmallGroups.com and ChristianBibleStudies.com

LEADERS GUIDE

FOR

STUDY 4

CSI: My Faith
We need to face our doubts, use our reason, and build our relationships. Doubt, rationality, and relationships are all crucial parts of a persons faith journey and spiritual growth. We must deal with our doubts if we are going to move ahead in the Christian life. We have to use the rational mind God has given us, knowing that God is big enough to get us through our discouragement, doubt, and despair.

Lesson #4 Scripture: 1 Kings 18:3639; 19:118

CSI: My Faith

LEADERS GUIDE Page 2

PART 1

Identify the Current Issue


Note to leader: At the beginning of the class, provide each person with the Participants Guide included at the end of this study.

CSI (which stands for Crime Scene Investigation) has been one of the most-watched dramas on TV and has generated successful spin offs. There are three aspects of the show that relate to authentic spirituality: 1. Doubt has its place in faith: You dont have to check your doubts at the door. On CSI, things are never exactly what they seem. There is always mystery; there are always twists. Theres always more to the crime scene than meets the eye, and the investigators know that if they go on the evidence alone, the crime may not be solved. The top investigator, Gil Grissom, regularly uses intuition and doesnt take things at face value. Its a part of what makes him the top crime scene investigator. 2. Reason has its place in faith: Dont check your brain at the door. On CSI, the investigators are thoroughly scientific. They go for all the hard evidence they can get to draw their conclusions. Though there are intuition and hunches in their work, there is always an emphasis on the importance of what conclusions can be drawn from the evidence, even when the evidence seems to be misleading, confusing, or contradictory. 3. Relationships are essential: Dont go it alone. On CSI, a big part of the show is the way the investigators work together to solve the case, as well as the friendships and community that are a part of their work. On one season finale, the bad guy buries one of the team members alive, and the whole team works frantically to find their friend before it is too late. Hes someone whom they love and care for enough to put their own lives on the line.

Discussion starters:

[Q] If you went shopping for a used car tomorrow, what would be the most important factor
in your decision? a. The recommendation of a trusted friend or relative b. The rating of Consumer Report c. The reputation of the dealer d. The test driveif it feels right, youll know it is the right car for you e. The price, the discount, and the financingif it is an okay car and you get a phenomenal deal, youll be happy

[Q] In figuring out what I believe


a. I place a great deal of importance on my personal experience and whether something makes sense to me logically b. I really dont believe we can discover or know the truth, so why bother c. I rely solely on what the church teaches d. The Bible is the ultimate source for truth e. If it doesnt make sense to me, I dont believe it f. Theres a great deal that confuses me, so I trust others that have proven themselves trustworthy g. I check my beliefs against several checkpoints, including what the Bible says,

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CSI: My Faith

LEADERS GUIDE Page 3

personal experience, feedback from others, and the traditions of the church h. Other:
PART 2

Discover the Eternal Principles


Teaching point one: God is big enough to get us through our discouragement, doubt, and despair.
The prophet Elijahs story is first recorded in 1 Kings 17. Israels King Ahab had just married Jezebel, the daughter of the king of the Sidonians (Phoenicians). To please his new wife, Ahab built an altar and temple to the god Baal and led the people of Israel into idolatry. First Kings 16:33 says, Ahab made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him. Elijah was the first in a long line of prophets God sent to the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Very few of Israels kings were faithful to God. Instead they promoted pagan idol worship. The priests of the tribe of Levi had almost entirely abandoned the northern kingdom. Because of the lack of godly kings or priests, God called prophets to try to rescue his people from moral and spiritual death. Elijah confronted Ahab and told him there would be no rain for three years until Elijah gave the word. By Gods power, the drought began. In the third year, God told Elijah to tell Ahab that rains would soon be coming. During those three years, Jezebel had been killing the prophets of Israel. Elijah challenged all the priests of Baal (the pagan god of Ahab and Jezebel), 850 of them, to a showdown on Mount Carmel. The showdown would determine which God was powerful enough to set fire to an altar the God of Israel or the god Baal. The prophets of Baal chanted, prayed, and yelled from morning until midafternoon, but nothing happened. Then it was the God of Israels turn. Elijah had the people drench his altar with water three times. Read what happened in 1 Kings 18:3639 and 19:16.

[Q] Have you ever experienced a time of great discouragement, doubt, and despair in your
life? If so, tell us about it.

[Q] What do you think Elijah needed the most?


a. Fresh revelation and direction from God on what to do next b. To know that he was not alone, that there were others who would rally to Gods cause c. Food, water, and rest d. Some quiet time to digest and contemplate recent events and pray e. More faith in God f. Other:

[Q] Why do you think Jezebel was so bold to threaten Gods prophet, Elijah, even after he and
the Lord had just trounced all 850 of her priests and her god Baal? Leaders Note: Jezebel was not present during the Mount Carmel debacle. Her own prophets had been feeding her optimistic prophecies of her future glory and power.

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CSI: My Faith

LEADERS GUIDE Page 4

However, with her priests and god defeated, she knew her days were numbered. Why would the people continue to worship an impotent god like Baal, when they could worship a God like Elijahs? Jezebel must have thought that eliminating Elijah might give her a chance of sustaining her position of power.

[Q] When you look around the world today, what enemies of the God revealed in the Bible do
you see? What is their attitude toward Christ followers and why? Leaders Note: Todays enemies of God could include regimes that persecute Christians or proponents of values incongruent with biblical values. Externally revealed truths and values like those revealed in the Bible will always be a stumbling block to people who want to create and live by their own values. The people of God often suffer at the hands of Gods enemies. Persecuted Christians are imprisoned, beaten, and threatened, have their property taken away, and watch as their friends and families suffer.

[Q] Have you ever been persecuted because of your faith? What was your experience like?
Was it difficult not to blame God? Leaders Note: Persecution for faith in Christ can come in many guises, many of them subtle, like being left off of an invitation list to a party, being left out of decision-making meetings, being scorned or ridiculed behind your back, or being looked over for a promotion that a colleague gets instead. Persecution can be more direct, like a rock thrown through your window, a nail driven into a tire on your car, or graffiti sprayed on the walls of a building. In many countries, those persecuted for their faith suffer dire consequences, such as being imprisoned or put to death. In the face of persecution, it is easy to ponder whether our faith is worth the freedom of religious expression. Evangelical Christians have long stood up, not only for their own right to practice freedom of religion, but also for the free expression of other faiths.

[Q] In verse 4 Elijah reached the end of his rope and prayed that he might die. How did God
provide for Elijah in verses 5 and 6? Leaders Note: To lead Elijah out of his depression, God first let him eat and rest. Only then did God remind him of the need to return to his mission. In some ways the events of Mount Carmel and the coming rain were only the tipping point in Gods work with his people. God knew that a lot of work still needed to be done and assured Elijah there were others that would play critical roles.

[Q] Have you ever been exhausted in your mission with God and received his care and
comfort? If so, tell us about it.

Teaching point two: Jesus calls us to a life of surrender, not power.


Elijah had all the prophets of Baal slaughtered. Then he prayed for rain, the first in three years. Read 1 Kings 19:718, remembering that Elijah has just experienced a huge demonstration of Gods power on Mount Carmel and God sending rain because of his prayer. Elijahs confidence in God deplorably (and so humanly) didnt last long.

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CSI: My Faith

LEADERS GUIDE Page 5

[Q] What was Elijahs attitude as reflected in verse 10? Who did Elijah blame for all the
trouble he was in? Leaders Note: In verse 10 Elijah sounds full of self-pity, anger, discouragement, and fear. Elijah blamed God and the Israelite people.

[Q] What do you think is the significance of God sending the wind, the earthquake, and the
fire that he did not inhabit? Compare what happened to Moses in Exodus 19:9, 1619 with what happened to Elijah. Leaders Note: Many peoples fear of God is related to their fear of him as judge and condemner. God intended to display himself to mankind not in judgment but in mercy. The wind, earthquake, and fire were only the forerunners of the still, small voice, which proclaimed the love of God. The law and the awe it inspired were only intended to introduce the need for Christ. Also, Elijah had already seen God as a consuming fire, but later he needed Gods sustaining mercy, not fireworks. In Exodus God was speaking to a huge group of people (or at least so as to be heard by them), so the thunder was appropriate.

[Q] God came to Elijah in a whisper. Has God revealed himself to you both in displays of
power and in quiet whispers? Tell us about it. Leaders Note: The quiet whispers of God often go unheard because of our hectic pace and the noise that floods our lives. God quietly converses with us every minute of every day, through others, his Spirit, the Bible, beauty and art, and his glory that permeates nature. For those of us who never pause to meditate or pray, Gods whispers may never get through.

[Q] When you compare Elijahs answer in verse 10 with his answer in verse 14, had anything
changed in his attitude? What does this imply to you? Leaders Note: Elijahs words and attitude were identical. He had just experienced an awesome display of Gods power and even audibly heard God speak, and yet his anger and frustration were the same. It is human to believe that if we powerfully experience Gods presence that our hearts will be forever changed, but in reality our hearts change because of our subsequent decisions.

[Q] What other people in the Bible spent 40 days without food in the wilderness?
Leaders Note: See Deuteronomy 9:9 and Matthew 4. Both Moses and Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. Centuries later, according to Luke 9:2836, three people would meet on a mountaintop. Moses, who represented the Law, and Elijah, who represented the Prophets, talked with Jesus during his transfiguration. Jesus was sent by God to fulfill both the Law and the Prophets, not abolish them (read Matthew 5:17). Peter, James, and John shared this mountaintop experience.

[Q] Have you ever had a mountaintop experience with God that you didnt want to end? If so,
describe it.

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CSI: My Faith

LEADERS GUIDE Page 6

Leaders Note: Many Christians have mountaintop experiences at retreats, conferences, or rallies involving intense worship experiences, prayer experiences, or visible manifestations of the Holy Spirits gifting such as praying in tongues, gifts of prophecy or knowledge, or healings. It is dangerous to seek ecstatic experiences of Gods presence and power over seeking God himself in gentle silence.

[Q] Has God ever answered your prayers or shown himself to you in a clear way, but your
heart and attitude remained the same? Explain.

[Q] Have you ever been jealous of someone elses spiritual experiences, believing that if you
had similar experiences you would be a different person or have more faith? Tell us about it. In verses 15 through 18, God asked Elijah to anoint three men who would usher in the next phase of bringing his people back to him. Hazael, king of Aram, was an enemy of the people of Israel that God would use to bring external punishment on them. Elijah was to anoint Jehu to succeed Ahab as the king of Israel, and Jehu would kill any Baal worshipers that escaped Hazaels sword. Lastly, Elijah was to anoint his own successor, Elisha, who would continue the work of being Gods prophet. God calls us not only to our own missions as Christ followers but also to recruit and train others who will take on their own missions.

[Q] Even in your doubts and trials, what are some things you can do to reproduce your faith
in the lives of others? Leaders Note: Apprenticing, mentoring, coaching, teaching, and leading others whatever you call it, it is about helping others discover Gods plan for their lives and encouraging them to tune in to Gods whispers. It is by reproducing ourselves through apprenticing others that the exponentially growing kingdom of God will be equipped for the mission of helping more people find their way back to God. If you are in a leadership position in a ministry of your church, you must remember that your responsibility is more than accomplishing your task; it is also about increasing the capacity for your church to serve more people through recruiting and developing an apprentice who will develop an apprentice of their own and so on.
PART 3

Apply Your Findings


Many people have been taught, or somehow just presume, that faith in Christ is something that leaves little or no room for doubt, as if doubt were the antithesis or enemy of faith. Many people feel they have to deny their doubts, or that God is somehow offended by doubt. We dont need to shed our doubts before taking the next steps in our faith journeys. Faith is often about making a commitment in the face of doubt and uncertainty. What matters is not what doubts we have, but what we do with them. The confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal was Elijahs idea, and God was clearly willing to give demonstrable evidence that he was the true and living God and Baal was not. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

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CSI: My Faith

LEADERS GUIDE Page 7

[Q] What are some specific next steps you can take in your faith journey, regardless of the
doubts you may have?

2006 CHRISTIANITY TODAY INTERNATIONAL AND NEWTHING Visit SmallGroups.com and ChristianBibleStudies.com

PARTICIPANTS GUIDE

FOR

STUDY 4

CSI: My Faith
We need to face our doubts, use our reason, and build our relationships. Doubt, rationality, and relationships are all crucial parts of a persons faith journey and spiritual growth. We must deal with our doubts if we are going to move ahead in the Christian life. We have to use the rational mind God has given us, knowing that God is big enough to get us through our discouragement, doubt, and despair.

Lesson #4 Scripture: 1 Kings 18:3639; 19:118

PARTICIPANTS GUIDE

CSI: My Faith

Page 2

PART 1

Identify the Current Issue


CSI (which stands for Crime Scene Investigation) has been one of the most-watched dramas on TV and has generated successful spin offs. There are three aspects of the show that relate to authentic spirituality: 1. Doubt has its place in faith: You dont have to check your doubts at the door. On CSI, things are never exactly what they seem. There is always mystery; there are always twists. Theres always more to the crime scene than meets the eye, and the investigators know that if they go on the evidence alone, the crime may not be solved. The top investigator, Gil Grissom, regularly uses intuition and doesnt take things at face value. Its a part of what makes him the top crime scene investigator. 2. Reason has its place in faith: Dont check your brain at the door. On CSI, the investigators are thoroughly scientific. They go for all the hard evidence they can get to draw their conclusions. Though there are intuition and hunches in their work, there is always an emphasis on the importance of what conclusions can be drawn from the evidence, even when the evidence seems to be misleading, confusing, or contradictory. 3. Relationships are essential: Dont go it alone. On CSI, a big part of the show is the way the investigators work together to solve the case, as well as the friendships and community that are a part of their work. On one season finale, the bad guy buries one of the team members alive, and the whole team works frantically to find their friend before it is too late. Hes someone whom they love and care for enough to put their own lives on the line.

Discussion starters:

[Q] If you went shopping for a used car tomorrow, what would be the most important factor
in your decision? a. The recommendation of a trusted friend or relative b. The rating of Consumer Report c. The reputation of the dealer d. The test driveif it feels right, youll know it is the right car for you e. The price, the discount, and the financingif it is an okay car and you get a phenomenal deal, youll be happy

[Q] In figuring out what I believe


a. I place a great deal of importance on my personal experience and whether something makes sense to me logically b. I really dont believe we can discover or know the truth, so why bother c. I rely solely on what the church teaches d. The Bible is the ultimate source for truth e. If it doesnt make sense to me, I dont believe it f. Theres a great deal that confuses me, so I trust others that have proven themselves trustworthy g. I check my beliefs against several checkpoints including what the Bible says, personal experience, feedback from others, and the traditions of the church h. Other:

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PARTICIPANTS GUIDE

CSI: My Faith

Page 3

PART 2

Discover the Eternal Principles


Teaching point one: God is big enough to get us through our discouragement, doubt, and despair.
(1 Kings 18:3639, 19:16)

[Q] What do you think Elijah needed the most?


a. Fresh revelation and direction from God on what to do next b. To know that he was not alone, that there were others who would rally to Gods cause c. Food, water, and rest d. Some quiet time to digest and contemplate recent events and pray e. More faith in God f. Other:

Teaching point two: Jesus calls us to a life of surrender, not power.


(1 Kings 19:718)

PART 3

Apply Your Findings


Many people have been taught, or somehow just presume, that faith in Christ is something that leaves little or no room for doubt, as if doubt were the antithesis or enemy of faith. Many people feel they have to deny their doubts, or that God is somehow offended by doubt. We dont need to shed our doubts before taking the next steps in our faith journeys. Faith is often about making a commitment in the face of doubt and uncertainty. What matters is not what doubts we have, but what we do with them. The confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal was Elijahs idea, and God was clearly willing to give demonstrable evidence that he was the true and living God and Baal was not. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

2006 CHRISTIANITY TODAY INTERNATIONAL AND NEWTHING Visit SmallGroups.com and ChristianBibleStudies.com