May 12, 2019. “Sexual Deformation” Nick Saltas- 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
- So much of the Christian intellectual experience is about understanding the word of God and living it out in a way that causes society and cultural norms to change around you. Often however the rhythms and underlying beliefs of our society that are contrary to God’s word can end up influencing us and affecting our ability to live out the lives God has called each of us to live. Discuss in your groups for a few minutes some of the things mentioned from this Sunday (or any independent ideas) on the deference’s between our cultures view of sex in comparison to God’s design for the human sexual experience.
- So here is the quote on masturbation from C.S.L… Its a good one. Have a read please.
“For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite in which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his (or her) own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and uniting with a real woman. For the Harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifice or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attraction which no woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. in the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself… after, almost the main work of life is to come out of ourselves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided like all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.”Take a moment as a group to discuss the concepts communicated in this quote. How do you feel about the first paragraph where CSL explains that a biblical sexual experience being something that can facilitate our sanctification? Or How do you feel about the negative connotations or warnings here later in the quote that talk about masturbation stunting or slowing our ability to “come out of” our little dark prisons of selfishness?
- Nick gave a phenomenal illustration this Sunday. He mentioned that if we go to a very luxurious steakhouse and this organization has instituted rules like “refusing to cook a steak to well done” we tend to instinctively trust that its for our own benefit. We understand that these guidelines have been created by culinary experts to ensure we get to maximize our steak eating experience. Yet when the same concept is applied rationally to our sexual behaviors the natural cultural response is often the opposite. What do you think the reason is for this? What do people believe and hope to find in pre-marital sexual experimentation?
- In closing, If the repercussions & consequences of sins based in sexual immorality are more severe to us how can we be a gospel community to another to avoid such pitfalls and help one another to grow out of ourselves and into the individuals God has called us to be.
May 5, 2019. “The Origin Story” Nick Saltas- Genesis 1-3
- This past Sunday we started our new series on sexuality. “God & Sex” How we lost our way & How we get back home. According to the Barna Research Group in a study comparing the shift in morality between Americans over the age of 40 and those under the age of 40, they stated:
“Perhaps no moral dimension has changed as much as Americans’ perspectives and behaviors related to sexuality.”
Out of 32 markers related to christian ethics and morality 8 of them were specifically related to sexuality. These 8 markers had the greatest differences in the two sampled groups. One of the things we discussed in our last message was how there has been 5 major ideological departures in our culture that have led to this type of shift in our society. Can anyone remember all 5 of the departures mentioned last Sunday? (Answers below question 3)
- After naming the 5 departures discuss how you might think these have affected our society and influenced the cultures of American churches. Discuss what problems you see growing in society do to these ideological departures.
- Lastly, we talked about how the biblical view of human sexuality is designed for human flourishing. In fact we believe that all biblical truths are there to be used by God to shape us into the best versions of ourselves through the sanctification process. If that is true then use the time remaining in your small groups to talk through how following (or not following) God’s design for human living has affected your life negatively or positively.
(ANSWER: The current in our society is only growing stronger and its implemented 5 departures from biblical truth over the last to decades. we have removed sexuality from procreation. We have departed from the biblical concept of marriage. We believe gender is a choice. We believe in an individuals immediate happiness is more beneficial than ambitious & sacrificial love. We are departing from the traditional sense of what the bible describes as a human being… we are just animals)
April 28, 2019. “The King’s Commission!” Shawn Stewart- Matthew 28:16-20
- This Sunday we discussed “The Kings Commission” out of Matthew chapter 28:16-20. During our teaching we covered the three things Jesus has left us with to fulfill this great calling that rests on every follower of Jesus. He has given us His authority. He has left us with His methodology and lastly He has left us with His presence through the Holy Spirit. Before we dive deeper into this topic of the great commission here is a little pop quiz:
Quiz: What percentage of “self-identifying” American Christians actually know what the “great commission” is?A. Between 60-70%B. Between 50-60%C. Between 40-50%D. Between 30-40%E. Between 20-30%F. Between 10-20%G. Between 0-10%
(SEE BARNA’S ANSWER BELOW QUESTION 4) Barna is know for having their finger on the pulse of our nations religious and faith based climate. They are the best in the biz when it comes to this topic. What do you think about this information? How does it help us understand the general culture of American Christianity? How does this information affect your view of the importance of “disciple making” in our nation?
- What were the three methods used by Jesus to make disciples? Can anyone name them? After naming them go around the room and discuss which of the three areas you feel well equipped in and identify which areas you would like to see yourself grow in.
- Teaching is such a big part of discipleship. Jesus was constantly teaching during his ministry on earth. We mentioned during our sermon this past Sunday that the truth that Jesus teaches is solid. Specifically truth that you can stand on in life that will not let you down. What biblical truths or matters of doctrine are becoming more real and solid in your life as of recent? And have you had the opportunity to share these discoveries with others in your life?
- In closing share with your group how the great commission is playing out personally in your life. Who has God placed in your life that you have the privilege of teaching and discipling towards believe in Christ? Pick at least one of the individuals you feel called to share your faith with.
April 21, 2019. “The King Is Risen!” Nick Saltas – Matthew 28:1-10
- This Sunday we had the privilege of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Reflect back at this amazing celebration and discuss with your life group one or two of the highlights from Sunday. What was special or significant for you and why?
- During the message we talked a lot about the hope we live in as followers of the resurrected king. Our souls should rest in or return to a state of confident expectation because of the assurance we have in the salvation Christ has made available to us. Have you recently or later in your past experienced seasons that this hope was deeply tested? What happened? What was it like? And how did God use that season to shape who you are today?
During our message we also discussed what it will be like after we leave this world and live in our resurrected state with Christ for eternity. What do you think it will be like? Was anything mentioned that sparked your curiosity or maybe gave you a greater desire to experience heaven? Discuss with your group what you think about heaven and what you think it might be like. How does discussing this topic make you feel? Why?
- Follow-Up: How did your plan work out to invite people to easter? How did it go? It is really helpful to share stories of success AND failures when it comes to mission and evangelism. If you have either please share it. It will encourage your life group and help us create a culture of mission and invitation in our community.
April 14, 2019. “Lord Have Mercy On Me” Nick Saltas – Matthew 20:29-21:-11
- During this Sundays message titled “Lord Have Mercy on Me!” (Matthew 20:29-21:11) we discussed the triumphal entry of Christ. Never has the world seen such a powerful and yet such a humble leader. During the message we discussed some key biblical ideas exemplified by Christ is his humility & obedience as well as other non-Christ-like attributes like pride and negotiating (aka disobedience). Have you experienced something recently that has either challenged you or helped you understand that “humility is strengthened by obedience?” Discuss this idea as group.
- Later in the message we made the statement that “we live in a culture of negotiation.” Do you believe this is a true reflection of the culture that surrounds us? Why do you think that it is that way? or in other words why do we have such a high value for “negotiating” in our Southern Californian American culture? Is that a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Do you feel that this culture has potentially influenced the church? Are there any positive or negative results that may come if a strong “culture of negotiation” is present within the church? If so explain
- In our final point “He is king & He will shake our world” we talked briefly about the two times that the earth itself would shake after Jesus’ triumphal entry. The bible explains that Jesus’ death & His resurrection were literally earth shaking events. How has God in the past or possible in the present shaken your world? If from the past why do you feel that he did it? What change or good did it bring about? And if you feel that He is shaking your world now how can we best support you and encourage you as your life group and church family?
- With Easter Sunday approaching and with such a fresh reminder of the scandalously generous mercy we have found in Christ and His precious Gospel can we make a plan as a life group family to invite specific people to our easter service? How can we plan together and pray for one another to see this small act of obedience fulfilled so that others can be blessed and our God can be glorified?
March 31, 2019. “Kingdom Preparedness” Nick Saltas – Matthew 25:1-13
- Have any of you seen any of the left behind movies? Or have you ever been apart of a bible study focusing on the eminent return or second coming of the Messiah? How has either of those previous experience shape your view of the second coming of Jesus Christ? Would you say you think about it often and are anticipatory of His return or is it rarely on your mind and when it is does it produce more anxiety than anticipation?
- In our second point of this Sundays message we covered the concept of not being able to “borrow spiritual readiness.” We talked about how the oil in the parable metaphorically representing the Holy Spirits empowerment that enables us to live lives obedient and glorifying to Jesus. Lives that shine light and guide a way for others in the darkness. If the oil represented all of that spiritual power, what then does a lamp without oil represent in christian reality? Can you give a particle example from your life experience that articulates this idea?
- We also discussed how “one of our responsibilities is to help each other with our spiritual preparedness.” How can we use this weekly time of togetherness (and others) to encourage or challenge each other in a way that causes us to think, act and live lives expectant of the kings return?
THE CROSS AND THE CROWN (Book of Matthew)
March 31, 2019. “Kingdom Authority” Neil Thomas – Matthew 22:15-22
- What is your reaction to authority? What thoughts and feelings come into your head when you think about submitting to authority?
- Neil spoke on the contrast between the broken authority of the world and the perfect authority of Jesus. He used an experience with his son to help illustrate the trustworthiness of God’s authority; do you feel that God’s perfect authority is trustworthy? How have you experienced God to be trustworthy, and if not why is it difficult for you to trust Him?
- Jesus declares to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. What does it look like in your own life render your life as a gift, or living sacrifice to God? How do you view your relationship with God, others, yourself, and creation in light of this?
- Jesus declares at the end of Matthew that through His death and resurrection all authority on Heaven and Earth has been given to us; therefore, we are sent into the world to declare what Jesus has done and invite them into a relationship that will change their life. How can you as a group work together to help fulfill the command of Jesus?
March 24, 2019. “Kingdom Invitation” Nick Saltas – Matthew 22:1-14
- Nick this past Sunday preached out of Matthew 22 covering the parable of the wedding banquet. In his first point he discussed how we can remember the privilege of what we have been invited to. In your group can we pause for just a moment and dig deep into the privilege we have (now on earth and the greater eternal experience we will have in heaven). Try to be specific if you can and discuss how great the gift we have received in the invitation to salvation.
- Later we learned about a variety of ways in which we can reject God with an insulting response to his calling. One thing that Nick revealed was that the consequence to both the aggressive rejection of the first guest that were invited and the second set of guests who were just pre-occupied were identical. It equated to self-exclusion of the banquet of the king. How can our aggressive stubbornness or our pre-occupation affect the privilege we have to walk with king of kings. How does it affect us spiritually and in the small moments of our day to day?
- Nick also taught about how the violent reaction of the initial guests was strange. Who would want to kill someone for getting invited to a party? Helped us understand this by explaining that “there is a demonic spirit that we submit to as Christians when we declare to God ‘do not tell me what to do’.” Has there been a time recently or more distant in your Christian walk that you flat out told God NO? How did that play out. What was the fruit of that or the outcome?
- Lastly, if we understand the radical invitation we have received how should we both marvel at the complete work of our king AND act as servants that invite the lost, lonely, broken hearted and marginalized in our city into the celebration of our King?
March 17, 2019. “Kingdom Greatness” Nick Saltas – Matthew 20:17-28
This Sunday during Nick’s intro on “Kingdom Greatness” he talked to our community about three things our fallen natures craves:
Discuss with your life group how you have seen these types of attitudes play out in your life or in the lives of others around you. How did it affect how you view God, yourself or others and what type of fruit or result did it produce?
- Community without cost,
- Profile without pain
- Greatness without the grave
- Later Nick explained how Jesus radically redefined greatness in Matthew chapter. 20. That the first shall be last and the last shall be first. He explained that greatness in the kingdom will be demonstrated by our ability to pure heartedly honor and serve one another. Share with your group specific examples of when you have either done this well or done this poorly. What lead to either example and what can we learn moving forward?
- With all of the previous facts discussed how would you describe a healthy biblical Christian ambition? Is it more spiritual to be unambitious? Is it more holy to be very ambitious? What do you think?
- Lastly, how should Jesus’ teaching on greatness shape how we pursue to both service and share the gospel in the city of Fullerton?
March 10, 2019. “Something Better Than Fair” Shawn Stewart – Matthew 20:1-6
- Last Sunday during Shawn’s Preach on Matt 20:1-16 he discussed the nature of our King and His Kingdom using the parable of the workers in the vineyard. In the parable God is represented by the landowner. Re-Read the parable or look at your notes from Sunday and discuss with your group what is surprising or unique about his particular landowner.
- What can we understand to be true about God by understanding the nature of the “landowner” displayed in the parable found in Matt 20? (Dig deep on this one)
- How should this truth about a recklessly relational, radically generous, inclusive, present and compassionate God shape how and when we chose to share the good news with those in our city?
- In Shawn’s third point he mentioned how we often mistake God for a negotiator and our nature to compare our circumstances or gifts from God to others around us. Both of these concepts are illustrated in the early workers found in the parable who received their pay last. How can this attitude towards God cause problems for us and those around us?
- If in the parable we see a radically generous, compassionate, empowering, inclusive, actively involved and present landowner how should that understanding shape our daily lives?
March 3, 2019. “Kingdom Money” Nick Saltas – Matthew 19:16-30
- This past Sunday on “Kingdom Money” he used an illustration to describe what it can feel like to try to serve both God and money. He used the analogy of trying to listen to two separate songs simultaneously. Even if you are trying your best it is impossible to listen to and appreciate both musical elements and will cause something called “dissonance” (a tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements.). Describe to your life group a season or moment in life when you have felt this dissonance as it pertains to money and your relationship with God.
- Jesus was able to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, cast out demons even but in the Matt 19 example of the young rulers love of money was something that resulted in the rejection of the Gospel. How should this cause us to view the danger of attempting to serve money as followers of Jesus and missionaries?
- How can we protect ourselves or actively work against our natural desire to seek security, comfort and identity from the accumulation of wealth? Can you recall the examples given this past Sunday? Are there any ideas you have that may benefit the rest of your life group family?
- How can this biblical truth help shape our lives so that we can partner more fully with God to seek and save the lost in our city?
February 24, 2019. “A Kingdom Marriage, Divorce and Singleness” Nick Saltas – Matthew 19:3-2
- During this Sundays message as Nick was teaching on kingdom marriage he gave an analogy for the intimate and purposeful nature of Christian Marriages. He used the terms “kindling” (an easily ignitable but quickly burned material as a metaphor for romantic love) and the metaphor of a “cedar log” (a difficult to light substance but will burn steady for a long time representing covenantal love and responsibility). Which one of these examples is highlighted most in our surrounding non-Cristian cultures? And How should our this balance look for us within the church?
- Does your marriage need more Cedar or Kindling? What are some ideas of how you can grow in either area as a couple?
- In Nick’s final point on marriage he discussed how our marriages are a vehicle for the kingdom. How has God used your marriage recently to advance his kingdom and display his mysterious relationship with humanity to the world? Or what would you like to see strengthened and changed in your relationship with your spouse so that others can see and experience the love of God through your marriage?
- What are the biblical reasons in which a man or woman can divorce?
- This is a difficult question to ask but in your marriages have you ever contemplated a divorce. What were the reasons why and how has God helped you in that specific area since then?
- Because of our cultural influence of romantic love, singleness in the church can be viewed in a very unbiblical way. How does Jesus and Paul talk about the call for some chosen to be single?
- What are some of the largest struggles you face as a single follower of Jesus?
- What can we do in our lives to partner with God to help seek and save the lost in our city?
February 17, 2019. “A Kingdom Community” Daniel Yu – Matthew 18:1-17
- In last Sunday message Daniel mentioned that “in the kingdom of God we all have to learn to be ok with being at the bottom of the totem pole.” Is this something that comes easily for you or is it a difficultly in your life (and why)?
- Can you give an example from your life or a story you have heard about someone “being made low” or humbled that lead to something really beneficial for them or others?
- In his third point Dan mentioned that a “kingdom community loves through intolerance.” That in love we do not tolerate areas of sin we see in the lives of our brothers and sisters but rather in kindness we address them and call them out. Who can tell me what are the three steps presented in Matt 18 about how we go about addressing areas of perceived sin or wrong doing?
- Have you ever been apart of a church discipline scenario? What was it like? How was it done well or how could it have been done better?
- Are there any areas of sin in your personal life that you would like to share with someone in your life group?
- How can God use holiness in our community to advance the kingdom and seek and save the lost?
February 10, 2019. Matt Martinez –
- If our chief aim in life is to live first and foremost for the glory of God what are some of the things that get in our way? (Distractions, busyness, fear, unbelief?
- Name a moment or maybe an area of your life that has allowed you to feel like you are fully living for the glory of Gold. Why do you think that moment or part of your life makes you feel that way?
- What is one area of your life that you would like to see God more glorified in? Another way to think about it is; what area of your life would you like to experience greater fellowship with Jesus?
- How can we share the love, truth and power of God with the people he has placed in our lives?
January 27, 2019. “The Offensive King” Tom Sappington – Matthew 15:21-28
- When have you exercised the kind of risky faith the Canaanite woman showed? What happened?
- What is your experience with the demonic?
- Do you struggle with unbelief, cynicism or fear when it comes to deliverance and healing prayer?
- What are some ways you would like to learn more/be equipped in the realm of healing prayer?
January 20, 2019. “The Confrontational King” Nick Saltas – Matthew 15:1-20
- What is the difference between being a hypocrite and a human?
- Why does Jesus react so harshly to the Pharisees question?
- How do you deal with the “sewage of your soul?