Monday School: November 30, 2015, Coping with Christmas 1 of 3, Matthew 20:20-28

This is an overview of our discussion and not a text for success.  This is not just a Holiday thing either.  We are sharing stories and principles for coping with life and not just Christmas.  This is not a discussion of right and wrong behaviors but of healthier and unhealthier.  This is not a discussion of living stress free wither-only dead people are stress free. The trick is living in heathy stress and not constant distress. There are no quick fixes but this story gives us a framework for discussion.

Read our story from the Gospel of Matthew and follow along as we ask the text some questions:  Click here for Matthew 20:20-28

Our discussion of the text:  James and John show up to see Jesus with their mom.  She asks them to make these two the number two and three people in His messianic kingdom.  She misunderstood the kingdom to be an earthly-political one while Jesus was teaching that it would be one in heaven.  While she only had her community model to understand a kingdom, she knew Jesus, recognized  and she had faith that He could make her request happen.

Jesus gave them all a question as an answer and used Holy Communion language to teach them.  He is asking, “do you really know what you are getting in to.  They said sure and then Jesus said, “You’ve got it!”  BUT the three seats of leadership are not His to give nor theirs to receive-they are for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Later, Jesus would gather them together, with all of the grumbling, and explain that their mission was not to set up another human led, lord and master government system.  The Kingdom of God would be spiritual and focused on serving others rather than being the big dog in charge and being served.  Jesus did not die the make them power people but to be their ransom-payment-redemption, freeing them for a rich life that changes the world.

After this rather lively discussion of the text, we turned the worksheet over and asked these question.

  1. Who brought whom to Jesus? Did mom bring the boys? Or did the boys bring mom to fade the heat?  Who brings their mom to something like this!  Perhaps mom was that strong willed and didn’t trust her kids to stand up for themselves.  Maybe the sons brought mom to take the heat and passively do their talking to Jesus for them.  It makes a difference in our family dynamics.  Who is the strong willed in your family and who waits to be brought along.  Neither is more right or more wrong but you need to understand how that works to understand how a group of people come together and operate in a healthy way.
  2. Why did anyone have to bring anyone? The short answer is anxiety.  one or another was worried more than the other and pushed this action to relieve the anxiety.  Mom worried about sons, or sons worried about what Jesus would think or all of them just wanted to make sure they got to the front of the line.  Some things to consider
*The anxiety of each person in any group or family effects the anxiety of others.
*Some handle stress and anxiety better than others but everyone is two people; how they are normally and how they are when anxious.
*Self identity effects how we see God and hence how we see everything.  “Know thyself!”
*When unhealthy living is all you know, that’s how you go about living and will strive to make that happen.  Likewise when your family is healthy you will strive to maintain healthy living.
  1. First from verse 22: He calmly refocused the question in a spiritual way  in a calm place in a focused way.  When our family is in crisis we can begin by getting focused around facts and not emotion.
  2. Second from verse 23:
  3. And third from verse 25     How did this effect the group dynamic?  I made the other 10 “indignant”!  It caused stress and acting out.  He and gathered this family of disciples.  Being together in a familiar place is powerful but has to be mutually respectful  to be healthy
  4. What happens in football when you have 12 players on the field.. “Too many players on the field” gets a flag and the loss of control.  When an outsider or one unhealthy voice gets control the play has to change directions!  This is hard and usually goes against long standing patterns.  Jesus didn’t let the two define the mission that was to be their lives.
  5. What happens when one (or more) try define a group members identity.  anger with yelling?  anger with silence, isolating?  or….calmly sharing the cause and asking God to lead rather than the emotion of the moment.  Prayer is amazing when we do it at first instead of as a last resort.  Following Jesus’ calm yet firm persona.  He did not yell back and taught then retaught the role they would have and the one they would follow.  Consistency and discernment is a key.  Seeing God clearly through the fog of anxiety is key to getting started.  Knowing whose you are is key to knowing who you are and living in the healthy light of faith.
  6. What correction did Jesus offer?  Seek to serve and not be served.  Seek to follow God in spirit and truth rather than lead from your own limited vision and strength.  His witness and example would lead and guide all of those who follow.  It was suggested that this confrontation by James and John’s mom was embarrassing!  They probably knew the answer but pushed the point any way.
  7. Fusion versus differentiation:  Sometimes we are “Fused” as a group to the point that we lose all individuality-this is called fusion.  Sometimes we are so focused on ourselves that we don’t need anyone else-this is called differentiation.  The truth is that we float around somewhere in the middle.  We must know ourselves well enough to go to Jesus without mom making our case for us.  We also have to take on our life’s role with or without Mom’s approval and be ok.  We must be connected to our group but not to the point we have no identity-that describes a cult.  To lack any need for our family makes us empty shells and narcissists.
  8. Ideally, who should we “fuse” with?  The only perfect person that ever walked was Jesus.  He is the one who gives us an identity that gives us a life of significance here and life eternal hereafter.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday School-A Precept Study of James Chapter 4, One more chapter to go!

The Adults Get to Color too...
The Adults Get to Color too…

It may sound silly but we employed three powerful spiritual tools for our study this week; God’s word, popcorn and crayons.    We ate popcorn as we pulled out three categories out of chapter 4:  What does God want us to DO, DON’T and what are His answers WHY? This was done randomly as we spoke the chapter out loud.  Ok, this not the usual outlining and discussion but the popcorn was good and the conversation was great.  I appreciate the group indulging me.

In Monday School, It is as important to know HOW to study as it is to know the information. We are not seeking simple intellectual knowledge but God’s wisdom.  To do this we will hone three skills:  Observation-spiritual reading, Interpretation-spiritual seeking, and Application-putting truth into practice.

Please take a moment and read the text before you read our note.  CLICK HERE FOR JAMES CHAPTER 4

We made our observations as the chapter was read and each person found their own voice in these powerful words.  We noticed that when you boil the do’s and don’ts, it came to two central points-Be Humble and draw near to God.  If you do those two things you are setting yourself up for spiritual success.  By this our plans become God’s Plans and not merely our own, our Prayers become God’s prayers and not just our words,  our Lives become God’s and hence devil free, our growth become spiritual growth and not just self-help, Our minds become focused through God and not random and scattered, and our misery turns to joy.  How often do we leave God out of our daily living.  It seems that the more stress we are under or the more important the issues the easier it is to forget the one with the direction and wisdom that we need.  As one of our group said, Obedience pays off.

Next week Chapter 5, the Final Chapter:  All are welcome to join in the study at any time on Mondays at 6:00.   Group members and anyone with an observation on the text are welcome to add a comment

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MONDAY SCHOOL-A Precept Study of James Chaper 3

We have such a thoughtful group.  Small group studies are supposed to be for the benefit of the students but I feel that give me more to think about than I give them.  James is a valuable and usable book of the Bible and I do love to teach it!

In Monday School, It is as important to know HOW to study as it is to know the information. We are not seeking simple intellectual knowledge but God’s wisdom.  To do this we will hone three skills:  Observation-spiritual reading, Interpretation-spiritual seeking, and Application-putting truth into practice.

It will make more sense if you take a moment and read the text before you read our note.  CLICK HERE FOR JAMES CHAPTER 3

If you look at the whole of this chapter, “Taming the tongue” and wisdom are intimately tied together.  These two things are essential to spiritual grown and a healthy witness to Jesus Christ.

We all agreed that this was hard and all of us have had “foot in mouth” disease at some point or another.  To be and become a mature, the literal meaning of “Perfect”, is centered on keeping your tongue in check.  It seems like such a small thing but it is amazing how a good word can change the world but a bad word from the same person can destroy it.  We bless and curse from the same face but cannot grow in Christ until we become a  fountain of fresh blessing.  Basically, James tells us that the tongue cannot be tamed yet it MUST be tamed.

Why, because it is wisdom that we are designed for and not merely well crafted words.  James presents two types of wisdom.  One wisdom is the “restless evil of earthly, demonic and natural wisdom.  This makes sense only if Christ is absent from our life.  And the peaceable, gentle, reasonable and merciful wisdom of Christ that is proven through our works, or fruit, of righteousness. We will choose one of these with our words and our works.  There is no “Both/And” it is “Either/Or”.

This is where this chapter meets the daily life in Christ; When word and deed meet in God’s wisdom and “Sown in Peace by those who make peace”, our lives flourish and those around us prosper as much as we do.

Next week Chapter 4:  The process of growth and the role of suffering.  All are welcome to join in the study at any time on Mondays at 6:00.   Group members and others are welcome to add a comment

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“Monday School” A precept study of James; Chapter 2 week 2

Tonight we had some new folks and an excellent discussion! Our church family has set aside Monday Evenings at 6:00 for Adult Bible Study.  This is a 5-week Inductive study where we look at the whole to see where God’s direction comes from.  This group is bathed in prayer too.

In Monday School, It is as important to know HOW to study as it is to know the information. We are not seeking simple intellectual knowledge but God’s wisdom.  To do this we will hone three skills:  Observation-spiritual reading, Interpretation-spiritual seeking, and Application-putting truth into practice.  No one is an expert.  We are all finding our way.

One thing I ask!  Don’t consult any commentaries until we are done.  One goal is to build confidence in our abilities to apply scripture

Our text is James Chapter 2 (Click Here)

This week, after prayer,  we focused on the key word, “Faith”.  We discussed the definition of the word and underlined each use of the word as the text was read aloud.

Faith is ultimately relying on God and puts life in perspective-it is not about us!

The poor were used as a positive witness of faith.  Why?  They appreciate what they have, have a perspective on what “things” matter, and they relied on God because that is all they had to rely on.

The rich were a negative witness on faith.  There must have been a problem within those first readers on the issue of favoritism and injustice to the poor or these would not be so prominent in James.  The rich were in a position to judge and were harsh to the poor, They trusted in their own wisdom, relied on their own resources

We shared stories about the struggle with everyday issues surrounding helping others-cat food, pan handlers and motel rooms to name a few.

We discussed when we feel alive and how that relates to our faith more than our circumstances.  We discussed at length the death that we feel when we don’t use our faith and just talk about it.  Prayer and study are doing something about faith formation to be sure BUT nothing compares with works done in the name of Jesus for someone else.

Everyone is encourages to leave a comment, especially group members.  All are welcome next Monday at CMUMC at 6:00.

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“Monday School”: A precept study of James-Week 1

Tonight we had a small group with a BIG discussion! We have set aside Monday Evenings at 6:00 for Adult Bible Study  This is an Inductive study where we look at the whole to see where God’s direction comes from.

In Monday School, It is as important to know HOW to study as it is to know the information. We are not seeking simple intellectual knowledge but God’s wisdom.  To do this we will hone three skills:  Observation-spiritual reading, Interpretation-spiritual seeking, and Application-putting truth into practice.

Tonight was James, Chapter 1: CLICK HERE  for the full text:  Hey the book in only 5 pages!

What we observed:

  • It was written by a powerhouse guy, but a real person who really knew Jesus.  He had a solid grasp of a mixed Christian culture and Jewish wisdom literature.  This is the New Testament book of proverbs.
  • People of faith have problems. Seeking God uses them to build us up, strengthen us, to stay standing and motivate us to DO faith instead of folding when times get tough. We shared stories about carrying on.  Tough times build a Faith that stands when the heat is on and an untested faith is no faith at all.
  • One likened to simply hearing as reading a novel, when tired, looking away, and looking back to forget what we read.  Faith leads to Wisdom which moves us from a forgetful hearer to an effectual doer.  Talk+love= action.
  • Wisdom that builds faith listens, then speaks and doesn’t get mad.  Mad takes our mind off of God.
  • Finally wisdom is shown by keeping our mouths under control and our moral decision inline with God’s word.  This is hard BUT we have everything we need to observe, interpret and they bravely apply. We don’t have to feel inferior to ANYONE but carry on.

Next week Chapter 2:  How is a growing faith lived out with others.  Excellent Group! Group members and others are welcome to add a comment

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