Sept. 17 - Read Genesis 22:1-19.
1. "Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life." What implications does this have for the way way you participate in your own life and in the world?
2. The idea of Abraham being "tested"...all the while with the promise that "the Lord will provide." Are there ways you've felt tested? How easy or hard is it to trust in God's provision in his free gift of Jesus? How does the way we experience our testing impact the way we interact with our surroundings each day?
3. How in the world to we "bless the one" who we love and also the one we don't? The one we'd rather not be around, the one who annoys us? How do we bless without enabling or living complicity?
4. Recall Pillar's story of reconciliation. How or in what ways do we continue to live out a reconciling reality--as individuals, as a church? Name specific implications of responding to the "here I am" in your life and the world.
Sept 25- Gen. 27-28
1. "Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go." Jon asked, "Does anyone want this promise in their own lives?" Do you? How? What does this look like in our own lives and in our community?
2. Jon grappled with God's promise to Jacob. This is evidence that God's promise can and will show up in pain and to imperfect people. What can we make of this? Is it calming? Alarming? Both?
3. Jon asked, "When was the last time we were afraid of God?" When was this moment? What does it mean to "fear God" for that matter? Does it have implications for the way we live out our faith in our communities?
4. "The practices of tribalism and racism run deeper than the practices of the Christian faith." Jon quoted this from last week's lecture at Western Seminary. What does this look like in our city? Do you think there are allegiances or practices in our community that run deeper than our Christian faith? How do we begin to reconcile this dilemma?
Oct 1-8 Exodus 3:7-8
“The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”
- Jon used this passage to discuss the way that God comes down to be with us, particularly in the form of Jesus. Then, He commands us to “go”. However, as Jon mentioned, we often think that our own deeds are small and insignificant in the grand scheme of the world. However, what actions do you think we can take in our city that, though may seem small on the outset, can make a difference for the Kingdom?
- Jon mentioned that descension is God’s way of communicating and becoming involved with the world. What are ways God accommodates to his people and how do we see that take shape in things like the cross and communion?
- We looked at the aspects of Moses’ personality, history, and upbringing that would seem to define him and negate his potential contribution to the Kingdom. However, Jon taught us that we often operate out of things that merely describe us, but do not define us. What aspects of who we are individually and in community are merely descriptions, not definitions? How are we truly defined in Christ?
- It would seem that Moses lacks identity due to his history and thus asks, “Who am I?” As Moses did, we ask ourselves every day, “Who am I?”, to which God answers, “I am”. What does this mean to us, particularly in the context of missional living? When we are devoid of confidence in our identity, God answers with, “I am the I am”. How can this enhance our ability to answer God’s call and go out to engage with our community?
October 8, 2017
1. Much of Jenna's sermon revolved around our own personal beliefs regarding the trustworthiness of God. What does God's own trustworthiness, not just our trust in His plan, look like? Can we believe what He says in His Word?
2. Jenna asked, "What do you do when the God you have isn't the God you prefer?" Do we ever wish God was different than He is? When and why? Where are areas that you might have a harder time trusting in God's ability to take care of you and the world?
3. One of the most interesting aspects of Jenna's sermon was related to the ways in which God works during the dark times, when we are most anxious or afraid. What does this look like in our own lives? Had God's light ever shown through our own trials of darkness? Has it been easy to identify or has it looked different than we thought?
Oct. 15 - Scripture passage: 1 Samuel 3:1-21
- Jon drew our attention to the fact that the Lord is judge. What is the character of God’s judgment, and how does it fit into the Gospel? In what ways can judgment be a signal that grace is operating in our lives?
- The sociologist Christian Smith has revealed some startling facts regarding the faith formation of young people. He found that teens are more likely to subscribe to a pseudo-spirituality he calls “moral therapeutic deism” (MTD). In what ways does the call of Samuel confront “MTD”? What are some devotional practices and patterns of life that are most vital for embracing and passing on the claims of the Gospel?
- What difference does the person of Jesus Christ make in the call of Samuel? In other words, where are the glimpses and gleams of Christ’s own life and ministry, even at this point in the Biblical story? (Hint: Take a look at John 1, and read in tandem with 1 Sam. 3).
10/22 1 Samuel 16
1. During the conversation between Jon and Dave Bast, Dave mentioned that he desired a church that is more than an hour on Sundays. How can we, as a community at Pillar, serving the city, be more than an hour on Sundays? How are we doing that now?
2. Jon mentioned that in 1 Samuel 16, it would appear that God and the evil one are "in cahoots". This seems crazy! How can this be?
3. One of Jon's main points was that our God is a personal God, who wants to be personally involved in our personal lives. What do we think about this? What does this look like from a practical standpoint?
4. No matter what, God knows your name. Is this comforting? Frustrating? What does this mean to us? For our city?
19 October 2017
Scripture: 1 Kings 19
1. Much of what Jon's sermon focused on was repentance. He asked, "Can we get in touch with something in our life that we need to turn from, or turn away, in order that we may turn towards God's glory. What might that be for us personally? What about as a community?
2. Jon noted that, in general, we like to avoid silence. Silence can be terrifying, but it's also often when God speaks to us. Are we afraid of silence? Why? How is silence viewed in our culture and how can we seek it out?
3. "Took, blessed, broke, gave." Jon mentioned that this is the order in which we take communion every week, but also the order that God is at work in our lives. What does this look like in our city? Do we have experience with this process?
5 November 2017
1 Peter 3:8-16
1. Jon and Walter had a conversation before the sermon that involved the life of being homeless in our city. What does it mean for us as Christians to love well our brothers and sisters that face these struggles?
2. Dr. Mouw discussed 1 Peter and how he grew up being told that he must have an answer for what he believed as a follower of Christ, but it always seemed that the next part of the verse, regarding giving an answer in gentleness and kindness, was glossed over. Have we ever experienced this? What does this look and feel like?
3. Dr. Mouw said that we have convicted people who aren't very civil and civil people who aren't very convicted, but what we need are civilly convicted people. Can we embody this as a community? How so? Can you think of any examples of those you’ve seen do this well?
4. Do we have our own "parking lot" story? What about our own "car rental" story? When was the last time that all we needed was a hug? What about the ultimate embrace of the loving Savior?
Scripture: Revelation 21:22
1. The conversation towards the beginning of Sunday's service was a wonderful reminder of how Pillar's storied history. How can we honor and respect our past as we look towards the future as a worship community?
2. Jon mentioned many times, "Let justice roll down like the waters". What does justice mean to us? To our city? In a similar vein, what does justification mean to us?
3. Jon talked about David, Esther and their four children, and the remarkable hardships they have faced. Even so, David continually praised God and gave Him all the glory. This is amazing. How can we see God at work or how do we see His glory when the world is at its bleakest?