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Contributors, not Consumers

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The church was never meant to be a spectator sport, because we were never meant to be unproductive! In fact, from the very beginning of time, God created us with purpose, and with a job to do!

Genesis 1:27-28, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

We are productive, because God is productive, and He created us in His image. We’ve been given gifts and talents and abilities to pour INTO the world around us, to make it better than we found it, and work diligently. We have trouble with this because our fallen nature doesn’t always want to work for something, face something difficult, or challenge the status quo, and our consumerism culture doesn’t help!

Some resolutions I’ve made in the past to help myself be a contributor, not a consumer:

  1. Leave things better than I found them.

  2. Learn about a subject (or both sides of the story), before speaking my opinion into it.

  3. Let everything I say be good and helpful. (Eph 4:29)

  4. Challenge myself, even when it’s scary.

  5. Gauge my own investment.

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This week, read:

  • Ephesians 4:29-32

    • Can you identify any areas of your life that need to change based on this passage?

  • Romans 12:1-3 (in the Message version)

    • How can you place your everyday life before God as an offering?

  • Proverbs 18:17

    • Have you been taking one side of the story in any area of your life? How could you begin to make more well-rounded opinions?

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Passionate, not passive.

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As Bold & Brave women, we are passionate, not passive. I used to sit back and watch the world go by me in fear. My most comfortable place was in the background, not being pressured or challenged, playing a supporting role. Fast forward to today, and you can see how God didn’t exactly allow me to stay in comfort zone.

Now, I have to make decisions. I have to embrace conflict. I have to fight my way to justice! And all of that requires passion. Passion overcomes fear.

We see passion modeled in Jesus’ flipping the tables, in his constant retreat to the presence of God, his steadfast submission, and his single-minded focus on his father. We need to follow that example to the best of our ability. Like an olympic athlete who trains obsessively and watches what they eat and cuts out other things from their life, we need to have focus.

Passionate people speak up when something goes wrong, they light up the room, they pull the people around them up, they are vibrant, full of life, and give into the people around them.

But as bold & brave women, we’re not passionate about just anything. We’re passionate about God, and we’re passionate about people.

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Read 1 Corinthians 9: 19-27

  • What do you think Paul’s point is here?

Read Romans 12

  • What can we learn about passion from this passage?

Read Psalm 63

  • How can you make this more your prayer this week?

  • What verse jumps out at you from this passage?


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Leaders, not Complainers

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Welcome to Bold & Brave, Winter Semester!

Bold & Brave began as a mandate to me (Candace), from God. He dropped the vision for it, even the name for it, into my heart at a conference, and I just couldn’t let it go. Since then, we’ve become a group that encourages each other, prays for each other, and challenges each other to move forward in our faith and understanding of God’s Word.

I’ve become very passionate about knowing God’s Word over the past few years, and I want that for you too! It’s unlocked countless truths for me, challenged me to do things I never thought was possible, and made my life better in so many ways. I am Bold & Brave today, because of the Word. 100%! So, in this group, I want to teach you how to study it, know it, live by it, and apply it to your life. For me, the Word has always shaped my worldview and self-view. As it should!

The first thing that I had to learn on my journey to being bold & brave, was how to be a leader, not a complainer.

  1. I had to own my part in how people treated me.

  2. I had to choose to make my own table, not pine for tables I’m not invited to.

  3. I had to stop giving myself permission to have self-centered discontentment.

  4. I had to model behavior that I wished to see in those around me.

  5. I had to make the decision to serve those around me.

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To get the most out of this group:

  1. Commit to showing up every week.

  2. Do the assignments, and let your curiosity take you further.

  3. Be honest.

  4. Make friends!

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  • Read Philippians 2:1-18.

    • What about this passage speaks to the “leader, not complainer” idea?

  • Read Luke 12:13-21.

    • How did Jesus respond to complaining?

  • Read Luke 10:38-42.

    • What is the thing worth being concerned about?

  • Read John 8:1-11.

    • What can we learn about Jesus’ general attitude towards people in this story?

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The Remedy

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The joy of faith is the best remedy against the griefs of sense.
a remedy with a promise
a remedy with a proof

A lot of things in Jesus’ teachings, and in the Bible, seem contrary to popular opinion, or even good sense. Sense says that to be happy, as with any emotion, it must come from within. And doesn’t that sound like a lot of popular advice? “Be true to YOU—true happiness comes from being YOU.” That kind of thinking appeals to our very American, very original, very individual thinking.

The Bible, however, has some different things to say. It actually seems to think that joy isn’t found within, all of the time. That sometimes—it must be something that you PUT ON. Like clothes! That it’s something that must be found outside of yourself.

I've had this theory for some time now—that ALL topical sins, come from 3 base desires deep within each of us. Pride, lust, and greed. We act out of them all the time, but usually, we tend toward one over the others. But, I’m starting to believe that even out of those 3….everything we do—everything—-everything that affects us negatively…is actually based in fear.

We fear everything. We fear loneliness, rejection, poverty, sickness, disease, failure, disappointment, spiders, lack of sleep, hunger…the list goes on. We even fear fear itself! Humanity keeps conquering disease after disease, we haven’t had any world wars in a while, and yet we’re still killing ourselves with anxiety & depression by the millions! FEAR does that.

YOU can train your body, your mind, and your soul, to PLACE your faith, PUT ON joy, and CHOOSE to love. Joy is not only possible, it’s NOT OPTIONAL.

Over the next two weeks, until we meet again, take a few days to really study, meditate on, and apply each of these verses. By study, I mean: do a SOAP study, write each verse out word by word, pray about, read the rest of the chapter, read a commentary, etc.

  1. James 1:2-4

  2. 1 Peter 1:3-12

  3. Psalm 27

  4. Proverbs 15:16

  5. John 16:16-33

  6. If you need more, check out this article.

I also found some songs that help me PLACE my faith, PUT ON joy, and CHOOSE to love. Use these…just like Saul used music of the harp, in 1 Samuel, to ward off a “tormenting spirit”.

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Chasing the Mystery

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I believe that God wants to know us, and wants to be known. If that’s true, why does it seem so difficult to know Him? I think there are many reasons for that, but here’s a few:

  1. God is infinite. We are currently bound by time.

    1. “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Revelation 1:8

  2. God is complex. We aren’t ready.

    1. “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord, ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’” Isaiah 55:8

    2. “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Mark 4:23

  3. God is perfect. We were born into imperfection.

    1. “We see things through a glass, darkly” 1 Corinthians 13:12

In these ways, it’s difficult for us to know God because he is so different. And in some ways, we just have to embrace the mystery, trust and have faith, that God is who He says He is, and He’s going to do what He says He’s going to do.

But He also calls us to KNOW Him. By “know” I believe that means to experience Him, not just know facts about Him. We often call it the difference between being a fan and a follower. Fans of Jesus know stuff about Him, but don’t really apply it to their lives. Followers actually model theirs lives after Him. In the same way, I think you can know facts about the character of God, but not actually have a relationship with Him.

So how do we get to know Him?

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This week, we’ll challenge ourselves to try a few of the disciplines from the article we read in Bold & Brave. For more info or direction on any of them, click that link for the article. This week, try 2 that you haven’t tried ever, or in a long time. Look through the list reflectively and try to pick out something that you need, then try the discipline for it!

Disciplines of Engagement (Christ in Community)

  • Bible Reading

  • Worship

  • Prayer

  • Soul Friendship

  • Personal Reflection

  • Service

Disciplines of Abstinence (Self-Denial)

  • Solitude

  • Silence

  • Fasting

  • Sabbath

  • Secrecy

  • Submission

Looking for more info on this subject?
I highly recommend the following books:

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The Love Pretenders: Week of Dec 6-12

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Things you would probably never say out loud:

  • “No, I won’t pray for you.”

  • “You’re a stranger, and I’d like it to stay that way.”

  • “I do not want to get to know you better.”

  • “You’re probably just lazy, and I don’t think you deserve to be helped.”

  • “You’re not my problem.”

  • “This conversation is taking way too long, and I want to go do my stuff now.”

But we do find ourselves thinking them, don’t we?

If not thinking them—we definitely do them subconsciously. I sometimes find myself sinking into a rut of pretending to love people, rather than actually loving them. Love is difficult. It usually costs you something. It’s anti-lazy, anti-selfishness. I think this is why God is described as love. Not that He has love or gives love, but that He IS love. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is patient and kind, it doesn’t envy or boast, it’s not proud or rude or self-seeking. It doesn’t easily anger, and it keeps no record of wrongs.

Romans 12 also tells us, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

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This week’s assignment is a little more practical than most! From the article we read, here are your challenges for this week! Try to get at least 3 done this week (bonus points if it’s the most challenging ones for you!)

  1. Have a conversation with a stranger, with the same tenderness you would a friend. Romans 15:7, Romans 12:10

  2. Meet a need of someone not in your immediate family. Acts 2:44-47

  3. Have a conversation with someone who is different from you. James 2:9

  4. Invite someone over to your house for a meal. Romans 12:13

  5. Allow people to take off their masks. Galatians 6:2

    1. (This one is tougher to be practical, but I think you’ll know when you do it. REALLY listen to someone, and bear their burdens, with a spirit of gentleness)

  6. Pray for someone, out loud, in the moment. 1 Thessalonians 5:25

  7. Spend a day consciously smiling at strangers. Be the first to say hi.

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Week of November 29 - December 5

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I don’t consider myself a particularly good cook. Don’t get me wrong, for Thanksgiving this year, I made a delicious pecan pie, the best chocolate chip cookies ever, a perfect Amish baked corn, and a wonderful green bean casserole, all from scratch! I got plenty of compliments on them, everyone agreed: Candace’s cooking was a success! But my answer to those compliments? “I can follow a recipe like the best of ‘em!”

For each and every one of those dishes, I googled recipes. I found one that sounded good and looked easy. I made a list, went to the store, gathered the ingredients, and then painstakingly followed the recipe (almost to the letter) with very few variations. I just followed the formula that someone else set for me.

In other areas of life, I try to follow the same principle. I see good results coming out of someone, and I want to know how they did it, so that I can follow “their recipe”. That works with cooking, but it doesn’t always work with spirituality or with leadership.

Lately, on a podcast, I heard Larry Osbourne say, “I’m big on judging the fruit, not the watering schedule. I’m a fruit inspector. If you’re fruit is fine, stop changing the watering schedule! If your fruit sucks, then maybe google watering schedules.” To understand this, you have to understand what the Bible says about fruit, so this week we’re going to study just that!

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Read:

  • Galatians 5:22-23

  • John 15:1-17

  • Matthew 7:15-20

  • James 3:17

  • Psalm 1:1-6

  • Ephesians 5:8-11

  • Isiah 37:31

  • Matthew 3:8

Answer:

  • What kind of fruit do you desire to produce?

  • Why do you think you haven’t been producing it?

  • Do you think you need to change up some watering schedules?

  • Is there an area of your life that you need to be a “fruit inspector” for?

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Week of November 15-21

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This past weekend we talked about the calling of Saul (if you missed it, watch here), but we didn’t get to finish Saul’s story. He could easily be another character in the Wayward series, actually. Saul makes two big mistakes, found in 1 Samuel 13, and 1 Samuel 15. Personally, I feel that they are both indicative of a much larger problem, however.

In 1 Samuel 13, we see Saul panicking. He doesn’t trust God nearly enough, I think he gets his eyes off of God providing for him, and onto the people around him. He sees his army melt away, and he takes on their stress and fear, instead of redirecting it to God.

In 1 Samuel 15, we see Saul making his own decisions. God’s command is clear, but Saul thinks there’s some wiggle room there. He takes matters into his own hands, which is a very popular decision with his troops, and he’s very happy with himself. But God isn’t.

 
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This week:

  • Read the rest of Saul’s story. 1 Samuel 13-31.

    • What lessons can we learn from Saul’s story?

    • What lessons can we learn from David’s story?

    • What do you think God is speaking to you through this?

    • What verse means the most to you?

    • How should you life change because of this story?

BONUS FOR NEXT WEEK, IF YOU NEED MORE! (No Wednesday Night Ministry on November 21st)

  • Read 2 Samuel.

    • Where does David end up going wayward?

    • What can we learn from David’s story?

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Week of November 8-14

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Anointing is a word used a lot in church, but not explained very often. If you listen closely, you could probably figure out that anointing is a word used for the presence of God, or God speaking through someone. It’s almost synonymous, figuratively, with God’s Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 61 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.”

Here we see the word anointing being used in a more figurative sense, as we do in church, most often.

But the actual definition of the word anointing is: “to smear or rub with oil, typically as part of a religious ceremony”. Where did that come from, in the Bible? Was anyone ever physically anointed with oil?

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Pick a few of these examples to read and study:

  • Aaron & sons: Exodus 28, 29, 30, 40. Leviticus 8, Numbers 3, 35

  • Ruth: Ruth 3:3

  • Saul: 1 Samuel 9, 10

  • David: 1 Samuel 16, 11 Sam 2, 5, 12. Psalm 89

  • Solomon: 1 Kings 1, 1 Chronicles 29

  • Hazael, Jehu, Elisha: 1 Kings 19, 9

  • Sick people: Mark 6, James 5

  • Jesus: Mark 14

  • Jesus’ feet: Luke 7, John 12

After reading a few of these examples, what do you think God’s anointing produced in the lives of the anointed? What did you learn from these examples? What changes in your life because of what you learned?

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Week of October 25-October 31

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What is a pastor? What is the God-given role a pastor should play?

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and at FV, we don’t usually do much for it. Not because we don’t love our pastors, but because I think it feels a little disingenuous coming from our pastors, haha. :) This morning, as I was praying and getting ready for the day, I felt like God said that Bold & Brave should take this on, and make it something that we can do every year going forward, as a women’s ministry!

Most people have no concept of what a pastor actually does on a day-to-day basis. Pastors are expected to be theologians, prayer warriors, completely sinless & perfect in every way, in addition to: business whizzes, property & building managers, social media gurus, advertising execs, set up & tear down crew, systems thinkers, counselors…all of it!

Pastor Jason always says that he had a professor in college at Bible school who said, at the beginning of his class, that it was his goal to talk every one of them OUT of being in ministry. He said, because if he could talk them out of it, they couldn’t hack it at being a pastor anyway. It has to be your heart’s cry—the only thing in the world that you could do—or it probably isn’t for you.

Pastors are gifts to the church, Ephesians 4 tell us, but why? A lot of you saw my anguish a few weeks ago, as I wrestled through some emotional issues regarding friends whom I care deeply about, walking away from God. It’s tough work. We don’t work with products that we can sell, or customers that we can bribe away from the competition. We’re working with SOULS. People! People are complicated. If you’re still a pastor after 5 years…10 years…it means you’ve dealt with dozens of cases like these, and you’re opening yourself up to the heartbreak, over and over and over. That should be appreciated!

So…how do we show our pastors and church staff appreciation? Let’s brainstorm today, ways that we can be used individually, and as a group, both for the last week of October 2018, and for next year!

FV’s Pastoral Staff

Candace Pringle
Aaron Pringle
Gerry Stoltzfoos
Jason Hollenbeck

FV’s Admin Staff (not all of these are paid-staff members, some are just REALLY dedicated volunteers!)

Lorrie Redding
Jaymie Hollenbeck
Jody Whitney
Jess Kutz
Travis & Steph Kuykendall
Chris Whitney
Bobbie Fleming
Julie Stoltzfoos

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  • Read Ephesians 4:1-16.

    • Why do you think Paul is calling those 5 roles gifts?

  • Read 1 Peter 5:1-11.

    • What is the job of an elder?

    • How does a shepherd care for his flock of sheep? How is that similar to what a pastor does?

  • Read Acts 20:13-38.

    • If you had to make a job description for Paul, based on this passage, what would you say would be included on it?

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Week of October 18-24

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This weekend, Jason will be preaching on Samson, and how he went wayward. As we were studying this passage together, one verse in particular caught my eye.

Judges 13:25, “And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he lived in Mahaneth-dan, which is located between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol.”

I know this verse may not sound like much, but I wondered what God meant by “stir him”, because (as those of you who were at B&B last week know), I’ve been STIRRED lately. :) I have previously described the feeling as a “fire in my belly”…a deep inner conviction. It’s sometimes like a lightening focus, and other times, like an unsettling, that I just can’t get rid of. These feelings move me to DO SOMETHING for God, and it made me wonder where I could see Biblical examples of these types of feelings.

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Read Judges 13-16

  • Why do you think God stirred Samson? What was the end goal of Samson’s life?

  • What do you make of the lion experience Samson had? Do you think God was trying to teach him something?

Read Exodus 35:21

  • What were the Israelite’s stirred to do in this case?

Read Ezra 1:1

  • Was was Cyrus stirred to do in the book of Ezra?

Have you ever been stirred by God? What was He stirring you to do?
Is a “stirring of hearts” something we should pray for?
Is there anywhere else in the Bible we see anything like this?

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Week of October 11-17

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Dictionary Definition of "faithful”: loyal, consistent, steadfast. true to the facts or the original.

I used to see myself as a pretty wishy-washy person. I was easily convinced by one side of the story…until I heard the other side. I thought that meant that I was weak, or at least, that I didn’t have an opinion of my own. Now, I think it just made me a little naive.

Proverbs 18 says, “What a shame—yes, how stupid!—to decide before knowing the facts.” and “Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight.”

A wise person waits to make a decision until they know all the facts they can know. A wise person hears both sides of the story. A wise person also knows some bottom line truths.

I had to come to the conclusion that there were some things I could not be UN-convinced of. I know—that I know—that I KNOW God is real. That He is good. And that His love is unconditional. Those pieces of truth can not be shaken in my soul. And if those things are true, then his Word is also true. And if it’s true, then it’s ALL true. And I must obey it.

I believe that is the beginning of faithfulness.


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This week, we’re going to do a word study, and a people study.

  1. What does the Bible say about GOD’S faithfulness?

    1. 1 Kings 8:56

    2. Psalm 89:8

    3. Hebrews 13:8

    4. 2 Thessalonians 3:3

    5. 1 Corinthians 10:13

    6. 1 John 1:9

    7. 1 Corinthians 1:9

    8. Philippians 1:6

  2. Why was Moses considered faithful?

    1. Read Exodus 33-35 again, if you didn’t last week

  3. What does the Bible say about being UNfaithful?

    1. Proverbs 20:6

    2. Jeremiah 17:9

    3. Matthew 26:75

What did you learn from all this studying?
Would you consider yourself to be faithful? Why or why not?
How can you be more faithful?

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Week of October 4-10

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So, if you missed this weekend’s message, you should catch up here.

I spoke on the book of Exodus this week, the first section of Moses’ story, and this coming weekend, I plan to speak on the next portion of Moses’ story (even though we’ll be in a different series!).

So I wanted to focus a little more in depth on the context of Moses & the Israelites, and study that more thoroughly. The concept of holiness is really important by the end of Exodus, and I don’t want to lose the bigger picture here. We may be able to identify with the Israelites in some ways, but we have something they didn’t—JESUS. Watch the videos below, and let’s study Exodus, and HOLINESS together this week!

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Read:

  • Exodus 1-14

    • What stuck out to you the most about this story?

    • What can you apply to your life?

  • Exodus 15 (the first praise song recorded in the Bible)

    • Which verse do you want to claim over your own life?

  • Exodus 16-20

    • What did you find interesting about this part of the story?

  • Exodus 21-31

    • Why do you think God was so specific in his instructions?

  • Exodus 32-34 (what the sermon is on this weekend)

If you missed class, watch these videos:

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Week of September 27 - October 3

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So I couldn’t be with you all this week, I hope you had great conversations, but I have a GREAT message and assignment for you anyway!

From our Propel Curriculum:

“No matter who you know here on earth, you also have a personal invitation to know the Leader. Every day you have an opportunity to tap into the power of God and build a relationship with Him through prayer. You can’t do a networking lunch with God, but you can talk to Him while you eat. You can’t invite Him to speak at your board meeting, but you can listen for His wisdom while you plan. You can’t see God, but He is always present and always looking forward to hearing from you.

Prayer might already be a significant part of your life and leadership, or this may be a new idea for you. Wherever you find yourself, this session will offer some new insights on why we pray, how we pray, and why it matters.”

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  • Read Philippians 4:6-7

    • Is it freeing to know you don’t have to have the perfect words—or a perfect life—before you can pray?

    • So often we approach prayer as a shopping list of things we want. How could a focus on gratitude change the way you pray?

    • Do you think God really cares about the details of your life?

  • Read Matthew 6:9-13

    • What is Jesus trying to teach you about prayer through this passage?

    • Read this passage in a different version. Anything jump out at you in a different way?

    • How could you get better at praying?

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Week of September 20-26

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This week, I struggled with what to present. It was a rough week for me…just personally, it was rough. And I needed something to minister to this weary, beat-up soul. I found this teaching by Steven Furtick, and it helped a lot. I hope it ministers to you too.

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  1. Read Matthew 13:1-9

  2. Listen to the video again.

  3. What speaks to you the most about this message and passage?

  4. What are you learning from God right now?

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Week of September 13-19

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I’ve been focused a lot lately on God’s actual words. We see them throughout scripture in certain places, and I believe that they’re put there for a reason! We are meant to learn something from them, pay extra attention, and leave the interaction changed.

I’m preparing a sermon for the end of the month called “Fight Like a Christian”, and I believe that God is going to do some spectacular, miraculous things on that weekend, but that it’s going to be a fight to get there.

In Exodus, we see the nation of Israel also experiencing some spectacular, miraculous things from God, but it was definitely a fight to get there.

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Read Exodus 1-15

  • What can we learn from the Israelites story here?

  • Write down all of God’s words to the Israelites as you read. Do you feel like God is saying any of them to you, today?

  • What meant the most to you in this passage?

If you didn’t make it to Bold & Brave, watch this:

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Week of September 5-12

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The kind of sermon I usually preach has little to do with fear.  In fact, I spent most of my life fighting AGAINST fear and teaching myself self-confidence and boldness. 1 John 4:18, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

It’s true that God loves you...unconditionally.  But his blessings are conditional.  If you want to walk in the blessing of God--you have to be obedient.  

But just like any good parent, God does use discipline to bring us back into line, and if we aren't coming back, throughout the ages, he has used more extreme methods.  We have to trust that our creator God is the best judge of us, and give him the proper respect he's due. Healthy fear of God is a good thing.  

God is a judge.  He created heaven & earth and has all authority to do what HE deems necessary to fix it.  We need to trust Him and obey Him.
 

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This week, let's study the following passages:

  • Psalm 11
    • Would you say you have a healthy fear of the "fire & brimstone" that God is capable of?
    • How does this passage make you feel?
  • Genesis 19:1-29
    • What lessons can we learn from the story of Sodom & Gomorrah?
    • Why do you think Lot was spared?
  • Matthew 18:1-9
    • Jesus has some harsh words in this passage--who are they directed at?
    • Do they change your view of Jesus at all?
  • Proverbs 9:10
    • How can you apply this verse in your life?

 

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