Friday, 19 May 2017

d) Session 1 SPIRITUALITY – LIFE IS ABOUT MORE THAN WHAT WE SEE


SPIRITUALITY – Life is about More than What We See – Read to page 32
                (Pages 19 – 32, read these as well but these pages are the topic for session 13)

By way of introduction to the whole book – best described as a primer on religion
Are we as citizens of our country, as well as members of our churches, ignorant as to the concepts associated with, and the dynamics of religion?   Is it important to address this lack?  (Just a preliminary discussion.  More in Sessions 2.)  Simply address the question.  “Is such a study as this important?   Have you felt this way prior to this little talk?” 

By way of introduction to Part 1 - Empowering Spirituality

1) When we are searching for truths to live by, are we looking for intellectual propositional answers or are we looking for someone?  Can you relate to the Hebraic understanding that truth is first of all a person rather than an idea?   What difference would such an understanding create with respect to how we would approach this kind of a study – a searching for foundational answers for life?

John 14:6, John 17:3, Proverbs 9:10 (in Hebrew "knowing" means relational knowing rather than simply informational knowing)
This understanding makes prayer a necessary first step when beginning a study such as this.

Considering page xv:  Life’s Ultimate Questions, the Why of this Book
2) Does everyone have a set of Ultimate Life Questions and Answers?  When do we have to wrestle with them?  Have you ever personally wrestled with them?  Does such a set of questions and answers point to the reality of a deeper spiritual dimension?  Or as some would say; the presence of such questions is simply the result of religious conditioning.  Discuss.

Considering pages 4 - 11: The Promise of a Spiritual Quest
3) Discuss the list of spiritual characteristics provided (pg. 7-10).  Agree / disagree / additions / deletions.  With which one(s) can you personally relate?  Share your personal story with respect to that spiritual wrestling / awakening.  (Possibly it would be appropriate to pray for each other.)

4) Compare a person who is healthy physically but is suffering spiritually (lack in Page 7-10 list).   Compare that person with someone who has brokenness in the body but has a healthy spirituality.  Which dimension of our being is foundational, more important?  How should this realization reorient our lives?

5) Psychology and Psychiatry study many of these characteristics.  The lack of these characteristics in individuals have become syndromes and have received labels.  Medicine and therapy seek to medicate and moderate these deficits.  How does this secular effort to understand and help impact our understanding of these characteristics in terms of them being spiritual characteristics at root?   If these syndromes do have a spiritual dimension, then what more is needed to bring long term healing at a deeper level?

6) Many non-religious people seem to have many of these wholesome spiritual characteristics.  Many Christian people lack these characteristics.  How do we process this from a Biblical perspective?

Beginning thoughts:
a) All blessings are from God, whether recognized or not. 

b) We need to compare ourselves not with others but with our own previous selves.  Are we personally becoming healthier spiritually?  The standard for true spirituality is ultimately Jesus. 

c) When life is easy, we all seem well, when stresses come that is when the cracks appear.  A lot of these weaknesses can be muffled with a good public facade, a mask if you will.  Becoming personally honest with one's self is necessary for growth / healing in these areas. 

d) A lot of westernized Christianity is anemic, as a result, provides little healing in these areas. There is nothing more dangerous than religion / spirituality gone bad, nothing more wholesome than religion / spirituality that is true.

e) Jesus addresses this issue in Luke 5:31-32   The church often seems to be filled with broken people simply because it is they who recognize their need for a redeemer.  

Considering pages 12 – 18:  The Dilemma inherent in a Spiritual Quest & Wrapping our Mind around the Concept of God

7) How do we envision God?   Does our concept of God impact how we process our relationship with God?   Many of us may have collected a fair bit of baggage in our relationship with God.  How much of this emotional baggage is rooted in wrong images of God?

Isaiah 57:15, Revelation 3:20, Galatians 2:20, John 14:23 but then to keep our perspective balanced Colossians 1:15-20   

Why does God insist on no images or statutes depicting God?   (2nd of the 10 commandments, Exodus 20:4)   How does an image or mental image limit or twist our understanding of an invisible, unfathomable God?   Given the third commandment (Exodus 20:5) possibly God would have us think of Him primarily in terms of a Name – and He has given us many variations of His name (all the I AM’s).

What is a god / an idol in our lives – anything our lives revolve around / the “loves” that shape our lives.

Bringing closure
8) Luke 15 :11 ff   Restoring the relationship with the Father was the key to the son’s well being on so many different levels.  Discuss the process the younger son went through to restoration of relationship.  Take a closer look at the older brother as well.  Consider the relationship issues he has with the Father.  What is missing in his life?  What needs to happen if he is to come in?   Who am I most like – the younger or the older son?


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