Silence – Psalm 77

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Think: remembering the main points

Silence: Psalm 77

· Reality of silence: 1-9

· Responding to silence: 10-20

Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. Have you ever been in a season when ‘heaven seemed silent?

2. Do you identify with some of the things Asaph writes?

3. What are some of the difficult questions we wrestle with, as Christians?

4. Are there any things we should not do – when heaven seems silent?

5. Is there anything we can learn from Biblical characters who ‘wrestled with God’?

6. How can we cultivate a greater honesty in our prayer lives?

7. Are there healthy practices/disciplines that could build -up our spiritual resilience?

Task: actions speak louder than words

· How would you engage with a non-believer’s challenge that ‘God is distant and doesn’t care about us and our suffering’?

· Can you think of some 3-4 practical ways we can support…

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Sparks on the First Date?

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From the Christian Connection dating blog. Some really good points here.

Do I need to feel a spark on the first date?

Written by Katherine Baldwin

Modern dating happens so fast. We rule people out online before we’ve even met them or we check to see if anyone new has liked our profile on the way home from a date. At this hectic pace, how do we decide whether to see someone again after a first encounter or move on to the next?

Often, we’re looking for that all-important chemistry. But do we really need to feel a spark on the first date?

The simple answer would be ‘Yes,’ but I’ve never been a fan of simple answers and life isn’t straightforward or black and white.

A while back, I asked my fiancé if he’d felt a spark between us when we first met. To clarify, we weren’t on a date. We met in the kitchen of a cottage in Cornwall on a cycling weekend with mutual friends. He walked in wearing lycra and a helmet while I was putting lasagne in the oven.

He gave me an honest answer: ‘No, not really,’ which of course I didn’t like to hear. I then asked myself the same question and came up with a similar (if more wordy) response.

I know I felt something. He had a kind face and a calm, peaceful presence, which I was drawn to. But I also came up with a long list of reasons why he wasn’t for me – reasons which would have scuppered our chances of a relationship if we’d met on a date rather than as friends.

Fortunately, I had an entire weekend to get to know him and to grow to like him. No pressure. No rush.

So based on our experience, and on the stories of many couples I’ve met who didn’t fall in love at first sight but who are together nonetheless, I’d suggest we don’t need to feel a spark on a first encounter and that curiosity could be enough of a basis for a second or third date.

Do you feel curious? Do you want to know more? Also, ask yourself these questions: how do I feel in his or her presence? Do I feel content and relaxed? Can I be myself with this person?

If you are someone who craves that spark, it’s a good idea to be aware that fireworks can sometimes be a red flag rather than a green light.

We’ve all seen Hollywood movies featuring passionate clinches and lightning bolts. Some of us have come away with the conclusion that real connection has to look like that. But these instant attractions can be unhealthy.

When sparks fly between two people, it may be the case that they both have deep, unmet needs for love, affection or touch or that they have unhealed wounds and they’re craving comfort and support. They’re drawn to each other like magnets and they stick together like glue – for a while. And then the relationship unravels because they can’t meet each other’s deep needs or heal each other’s hurt.

I know this from experience. I’ve had a number of fiery relationships that, for a brief period, have transported me to another place. Sparks have flown. ‘This is like Hollywood – he has to be The One,’ I’ve thought. But these relationships that began with fireworks always went up in smoke. The attraction was unhealthy. I was either drawn to commitment-phobes, enticed by the thought I could make them commit, or I fell hard for people who had their own unmet needs and unhealed wounds, as I did.

After a number of crash and burn experiences, I understood that I had to learn to meet my own needs and heal my wounds as best as I could first. I had to learn to practise self-love and self-care. I had to re-parent myself and learn to soothe myself. I had to find healthy ways to experience hugs and human touch. And I had to resolve some of my childhood issues so that I didn’t crave male affection and affirmation quite so much – so that I could regain the power of choice when in the presence of an attractive man.

As I got healthier, I became wary of the chemical pull or the flashes of lightning. I set boundaries for dating so that I could keep myself emotionally safe while I found out more about the person I was with. I asked friends for support so that I wouldn’t repeat the same patterns over and over again.

We all have our own journeys. We all make our own mistakes. But can I suggest that you be wary of instant fireworks? Can I suggest that you tend to your own unmet needs and heal any lingering hurt as best you can, so that you’re not craving love and comfort? (Dating with a craving is like shopping for food when starving – we lose our discernment.)

And can I suggest that you go on a second or third date with people whom you’re curious about, even if there aren’t any immediate sparks?

You never know what will come of it.

Psalm 2 | Perspective

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Think: remembering the main points

· Psalm 2 – Perspective

· Human rebellion + God’s response + Our choice


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. Is there a song that has been precious to you over the years? Please describe why.

2. Why do people rage against God’s reign?

3. What is God’s reaction to people’s rage?

4. How does this psalm shape your thin kinging?

5. How does this psalm affect your heart?

6. Are there ways we can be rebellious against God’s rule – even as Christians?

7. What are the promises that are available to those who submit to His kingship?

Task: actions speak louder than words

How can this Psalm motivate us to show & tell people about God’s love? Think of some practical ways you can encourage people to discover the blessings of submitting to Christ as King.

Printable PDF –

Perspective.pdf

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When You Have Too Much Time!

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I can’t believe that my life used to be too busy, even with my chronic illness.  When I lived in the university town, where I was for 17 years at least, and married with an extensive if somewhat troubled extended family, plus lots of neighbours, I was often existing on adrenalin. Life was full.

Now, I have lots more time.  I spend a good proportion of my day working on my health, usually through meditation and trying to eat well.  I have got to know people in the coastal town where I now live but not really well and it’s not the same sort of area.  It’s not middle class and I live on a main road.

Of course, I didn’t think that this would be a problem when I viewed the flat because I was still relatively active.  However my health crashed after I moved here and I am building myself back up and it is taking months and years.  My muscles are what are mostly affected now.  This means that I have to spend a lot of time at home.

Many of my good friends are just extraordinarily busy.  In fact, in my opinion, they are too busy.  I know that some of them are using busyness as a distraction from issues and emotions that are too painful to face.  However I still envy them.

My other friends are similarly ill.  We have the urge to meet but not always the means.

Even my mum is having a better social life than I am in her new sheltered accommodation!

Because of my health relapse I have not been networking as much and this means that some of my clients have faded away somewhat.  I am currently waiting for some editing work to complete.  I have been waiting for days and just trying to fill in the time until it arrives.  This is very frustrating!

Anyway, I have just booked an EFT session with a local practitioner.  I won’t be seeing her for a month or thereabouts but I feel that tapping, literally, into the things, the emotions, that are trapped in my body may bring some relief.

 

 

LDN – Not for ME or me.

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Thought I would write about the drug  I have been taking . I will try and keep it short. It is called ldn. Low dose naltrexone. You take it in very low doses and it blocks your opioid receptors for a few hours. I am on a tiny dose. This encourages your body to create its own endorphins.
It is definitely having an effect on me some good and some bad. However the side effects are too severe.
At first I felt almost normal when I was out. I felt stronger. I had less muscle pain after activity. I felt less depressed. It is a tough drug in the first few weeks. I’ve had bad insomnia. Last week I had a high libido which was very inconvenient.

I do know that there are some people with my illness who have benefited. But I don’t think I’m going to be one of them. It feels like it raises cortisol levels too highly.

Also people who take the drug are like evangelists about it – for its almost as if you can’t say anything bad about it as you are seeing as letting the side down.

I would like to see more research before it is hailed as a panacea.

 

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING

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pexels-photo-574311.jpegThought it was time for an update.

I am now going to a Church of England church, the main church for the town where I now live by the sea.  It’s a beautiful place in beautiful surroundings.  I like the vicar and I have been made to feel welcome.  This church is very, very different from the Free Methodist church that I attended for five years.  I still feel attached to the Free Methodist church and I still feel that I am part of it even though I attend very rarely.

At my new church they have this thing called Third Sunday Worship which is an alternative style of service.  It only lasts an hour and it forms a discussion based around a DVD.  We have been watching a lot of Rob Bell, who I really like.  We also do different types of prayers and sometimes we have a bit of a sing.  This all takes place in this beautiful Victorian church.

I have occasionally been to evensong, which I find very formal, but I do like the music.  The choir master there is someone I have known since 1998.  We both suffer the same illness and this is a bond.

I also attended the church’s Lent course.  I only made three out of five of the sessions but I really loved it.  This took place in the rectory which is the most beautiful building.

On top of this, I have been attending meditation at the Buddhist centre in a nearby city.  I’m doing this for my health, not because I am a Buddhist.  With my health being as it is I’m very lucky that I get a lift there from a friend who is a director at the Buddhist centre.  If they did meditation at a Christian church as I would attend that – but they don’t.  I find meditation amazing and I am practising a home or at least twice a day.

The journey continues.

From Heartache to Herald

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Think: remembering the main points

· From Heartache to Herald: John 20:11-18

· Jesus seeks her + sees her pain + speaks to her + sends her


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. What impacted you from this passage?

2. Why is the resurrection so important for the Christian faith?

3. In what ways can you identify with Mary Magdalene?

4. Can you think of other examples in which Jesus reached out to ordinary people?

5. What amazes you in Jesus’ encounter with Mary?

6. If Jesus was so great at noticing others’ pain – how can he use us to reach out to them?

7. Can you remember how you encountered Christ for the first time? Tell us about it.

8. How does Mary’s worshipful reaction inspire your own worship of the Resurrected Jesus?

Task: actions speak louder than words

· Think of 4 practical outcomes of how this…

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Wake-up Call

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Still doing this…

Think: remembering the main points

· Wake-Up Call: Revelation 3:1-6: Rebuke & Remedy


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. Have you ever visited a famous tourist or historical location or seen a much-lauded movie or read a much-praised book and was disappointed? Talk about what you felt?

2. Sardis, as a city was characterised by historically underestimating their enemies and lacking vigilance – how do you think that influenced their church?

3. What do you think are potential negative social/political traits of where we live – that could influence our mind-sets as disciples?

4. What was the problem in the Sardis church and what could that look like in CFM today?

5. How do you think they got to the stage of being nearly dead? What mistakes did they do? What good things did they not do?

6. What was Jesus solution for the revival of this church? Which of…

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Costly Compromise

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Think: remembering the main points

· Costly Compromise: Revelation 2:18-29

· Well Done & Wake up


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. Has anyone paid you a compliment recently – how did it make you feel?

2. What has encouraged you at CFM since you have been here?

3. Why was Jesus so critical of the church at Thyatira?

4. Why was Jezebel (1 Kings 16: 31-33; 2 Kings 9:22) such a dangerous woman for the Israelites?

5. In what ways can a Jezebel spirit manifest itself in the church today?

6. What can hinder our repentance when we sin – and how can we overcome those hindrances?

7. Why is the final vision of the returning Jesus important for the church in Thyatira and CFM?

Task: actions speak louder than words

Talk together and identify several marks of healthy Biblical teaching and then pray together that those marks would…

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Toxic Theology

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Please lifegroup notes on really keeping me going at a time when I cannot get to my Church of preference. I have been going to a Church of England hearing in new town I am living in. Tell a certain aspects about C of E I really like some I find difficult.

Think: remembering the main points

· Toxic Theology | Revelation 2:12-17

· Praise for Resilience: 12-13

· Cause for Rebuke: 14-15

· Call to Repentance: 16

· Promise of Reward: 17


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. Have you ever been conned – talk about your experience?

2. Why is theology (thinking about God) so important for our lifestyle?

3. Can you think of any Biblical examples of bad theology that led to bad decisions? (i.e. Adam & Eve, David, Samson, Judas)

4. What are the differences regarding sexuality where Bible-believing Christians could be at odds with our culture?

5. What are some heresies (false teaching) that can affect our sexual ethics?

6. How can we test if some teaching is Biblically accurate or heretical? Think of some tests you can apply.

7. Look at the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) and explain what repentance should look like…

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Resilient Faithfulness

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Think: remembering the main points
• Resilient Faithfulness: Revelation 2:8-11
• Life Hurts: 8-9 & Stay Strong: 10-11

Talk: questions that stimulate application
1. What has been the most difficult thing about following Jesus in your life?
2. How does Smyrna compare to our context today?
3. How did the early believers respond to persecution (Acts 4:3-22, 5:17-42 & 6:8-15)?
4. What forms can modern-day persecution take in our context?
5. What would be wrong ways to respond to persecution as a follower of Jesus?
6. Is there an antidote to discouragement and despair in this letter – identify 5 things from it!
7. In what ways does your perspective need to change in order to ‘run the race’ with resilience and not give up?

Task: actions speak louder than words
• Chose one person from your group (put names in a hat) and commit to be their encourager. Talk…

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Fruitless Theory

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Think: remembering the main points

· Fruitless Theory: Revelation 2:1-7: the message & the Author


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. What is the most encouraging thing someone said to you and how had that affected you?

2. If you were to describe the qualities of the church in Ephesus, using a tag line, what could it be?

3. What some of dangerous doctrinal heresies (false teachings) that can affect the modern day church?

4. Do you remember what the ‘first love’ looked like in your own faith experience?

5. What are the steps we can take to experience a restoration of ‘first love’ again?

6. Can you describe the difference between destructive and constructive criticism?

7. Why is the loss of a ‘first love’ so dangerous for a disciple and a congregation?

Task: actions speak louder than words

· Take time personally to evaluate your own heart and the…

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No X Files

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Working my way through this series even though I am not able to get to the church itself much

Think: remembering the main points

· No X Files: Revelation1

· Who sends mail? Who delivers mail? Who receives mail?


Talk: questions that stimulate application

1. What is the most unusual letter/email/message that you got?

2. When you think of the book of Revelation you feel….

3. Try to imagine what it was like to live as a disciple of Jesus in the 1st century…. Was it easy or hard?

4. Can you think of pressures in society today that discourage you as a Christ follower?

5. Why did Jesus bring this message to John and the churches?

6. If Jesus could bring a message to the Church in the UK – what do you think He would say?

7. What discourages you most as you try to live for God?

8. Do you identify yourself with the description of what a Christian is from v 5-6?

9. If the…

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WHEN PEOPLE JUST WANT TO BE TEXT FRIENDS

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When people just want to be text friends

What is it with friends who give great text/messaging but who never make the effort to see you in real life? I am not talking about my fellow ill people here, who are really good at keeping in touch as and when they are able, nor those with major life challenges – or even introverts, by the way. I mean the ‘average’ person who leads a seemingly normal life.

I’ve been trying to work out their purposes. Perhaps they just want to keep you as an option, or maybe you are a habit, someone to pass the time of day with.  Instead of nipping out for a for cigarette break they decide text you .

Maybe I should be pleased that they think about me at all!  But sometimes their behaviour makes me think that there are mind games going on. Some kind of passive aggressive behaviour, manipulation that they are not even aware of.

For example, you receive what seems to be a warm text message inquiry after your health or wellbeing. You reply and then receive nothing back. I don’t expect an essay but a simple, “Thanks For the update”, or “That’s good to hear”, or “That’s a shame”, would is welcome and then you know that the conversation is over.

I think people hide behind technology. I am probably guilty of this sometimes myself.

However I have decided there is only one answer to these frustrating texters: To go NC.  In other words, no contact.

Best Supporting Act

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Think: remembering the main points

  • Best Supporting Act: John 1:6-23
  • Explain context & Read passage
  • John’s obedience in ministry
  • Jesus’ obedience in baptism

 Talk: questions that stimulate application

  1. Have you ever taken part in a daring challenge – how was that?
  2. What is the most difficult thing that God has asked you to do?
  3. Why was John the Baptist able to humble himself?
  4. Is there a link here between humility and obedience? In what way?
  5. Thinking of the Fall (Genesis 3) – why is obedience such a challenge to us?
  6. In what areas of your life do you struggle to obey God?
  7. Can you think of Biblical examples of obedience that can inspire you?
  8. What does obedience look like in your workplace? In your family life?

 Task: actions speak louder than words

  • Personal exercise – take time to think individually about this: Are there issues of disobedience that…

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Resting B**** Face in the Church of the Poison Mind

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said I find it hard to move on yet I have decided today to purge some of my ‘friends’ on Facebook and to simply not engage with horror people IRL. 

This has come  from the realisation that I am surrounded at times by women who can best be described as having ‘resting b**** face’  syndrome. (RBF). No matter how hard I try to be friendly I get nowhere.  And they call themselves Christians!

I don’t really know why they don’t like me but there it is!  They make me feel like the white, blonde/ginger bitchy girls at school did or used to. Yeah, you know the ones… The shiny people! 

Actually some of the men are as bad.  There’s a couple I can think of right now – arrogance personified!

I really don’t need this stuff in my life.  Be gone!

When Pastors Reach The Divided Path

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1-divided-path-tracie-kiernan.jpgWe said goodbye to the best pastor today as he and his wife are moving onto pastures new. I’ve been really upset about this for a few months – Both of these people have had a very significant impact on my life and I think of him as a nephew that I never had – but I’ve come to terms with it now as it is right for them.  He will be a real loss to us, as will she, but I also know that we reach ‘the divided path’ many times on our journey through life.  

Pastor B and his wife  need to be in the new place and I also am taking steps towards a different kind of life. Whether I will stay with this church or not I do not know. I am not somebody who moves on easily. However I know that eventually I will want somewhere which is nearer to New Home as the journey to and fro is quite time consuming and tiring and also I am not a member of the community where my present church is.  I will stay with them for the time being until I feel more secure and settled in my new life.