Community Group Week of October 18, 2015

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Hey, Community Group Leaders!

Below you will find questions for both the SERMON BASED format and the MEANING OF MARRIAGE curriculum.

I hope you have a great time of discussion & fellowship.


Announcements :

  • Fall Family Dedication Celebration  will be on Sunday, November 8th at both services. This is an opportunity for families to make a promise to God, with their church, to raise their children to love and honor God. Registration is required to participate, for more information or to register, please contact sandyhall@westpines.org.

  • Financial Peace University   Begins Tuesday 10/20 - 12/15   7:00pm at the church.  Register in the Resource Center.  Cost is $100 per household / $150 with childcare. 

Sermon Title: 

Revolt, Part 2: Commercialism, the Tyrant’s Henchman

Main Text:

Ecclesiastes 6:1-9, Ecclesiastes 5:10

Topics:  ( Not to be read in group.. this is for your review and recollection )

  • Solomon continues his discussion of the emptiness of materialism by exposing the lack of satisfaction it brings. He declares that it is such a tragedy when people who have means have so little satisfaction from it. It is so sad.
  • We are tempted to read that and shake our heads at those unfortunate people. We say how sad would it be, if someone is among the wealthiest people and are still so discontent. It is tempting to think, “if I was that person I would be satisfied.”
  • But Solomon has told us that the love of money, or materialism, will not and cannot satisfy. He has told us that it is like trying to grasp a wiff of smoke. Pursuing money so that it will satisfy is empty.
  • But that’s not us. We know what would satisfy us, right? We are different. If we were that opulently wealthy individual we would be generous and happy and satisfied. But what a trap we’ve just laid for ourselves...
  • If you are reading this, the chances are you are in the top 1-2% wealthiest in the entire world!
  • The other 7.1 Billion people in the world are saying that about you! Do we realize that the rest of the world could look at what we consider average American life as unbelievably opulent? So look at our lives. Are we satisfied with our wealth? We are confirmation of what Solomon is saying.
  • In our culture, there is an oppressive dictator: Materialism. This dictator has hooked us on his propaganda. If we had more stuff we’d be satisfied. And even though our own lives prove that is not true, we still buy into his manipulative manifesto.
  • This dictator has henchmen everywhere. They are pushy, demanding, unflinching, shameless, militant, overbearing. Materialism’s henchman is Commercialism.
  • We have to be aware of the influence advertising and marketing has in our lives. Those things are not evil in and of themselves. But we are foolish to not understand their impact on our lives and on our kids.
  • Are we drinking them in and letting them shape our desires? Are we letting them tell us what life should look like? Are we letting them show us what we should have and how we should spend our money?
  • Our finances are one of the greatest resources we’ve been given. They have the power to change lives and even influence the eternity of a soul. We cannot afford to thoughtlessly let advertisers tell us how to use one of our key commodities. Are we going to be a mindless automaton, a drone that just robotically follows the culture’s spending? Or will we revolt?! Join the resistance. Reclaim your finances. Use them for things that make your life the stuff of legends.

AND NOW.... THE QUESTIONS...

  • HIGH/LOW: What was the high point of your week and the low point?
  • ICEBREAKER:  What was one of your biggest "buyer's remorse" purchases?
  • READ: Ecclesiastes 5:10, 6:1-9
  • How does our culture prove what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 5:10?
  • What are some things that our culture considers “normal,” but most of the world would consider unimaginably opulent?
  • What was your response when you heard that you are in the top 1% of the world's wealth at $35,000?
  • How does marketing influence what we think is “normal”?
  • How can our culture’s commercialism affect every member of a family?
  • What are ways we can create a "Culture of Thankfulness" in our family?
  • What are your weaknesses when it comes to being influenced by our materialistic culture?
  • What are ways our finances can make tremendous impact in our families?
  • What are ways our own finances can make an eternal impact in our city and through the world?
  • What are some practical ways we can minimize how we are influenced by our culture’s commercialism?
  • Keeping 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in mind... " give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  What are you going to do this week to reclaim focus and priority on your finances?

Don't forget to post your attendance after group.

QUESTIONS FOR MARRIAGE GROUPS

The Meaning of Marriage - by Tim Keller

Chapter Five: Loving the Stranger

NOTE : These are more questions than you will ever have time to fully discuss,   Please circle the ones you want to certainly cover and refer to the others as time permits...

HIGH / LOW

1) Stanley Hauerwas said : “We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is . . . learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.”

In what ways has your personality changed since you first got married?  In what ways has your spouse’s personality changed?  What do you expect could potentially change you and your partner over the next 10 years?

2) Keller states that “marriage brings out and reveals traits in you that were there all along but were hidden from everyone including you, but now they are all seen by your spouse.” why?

3) What are some of the various seasons should we expect in marriage? [127]

4) Discuss: People are appalled when they get sharp, far-reaching criticisms from their spouses. They immediately begin to think they married the wrong person. But you must realize that it isn’t ultimately your spouse who is exposing the sinfulness of your heart— it’s marriage itself. Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself. Marriage shows you a realistic, unflattering picture of who you are and then takes you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention to it. This may sound discouraging, but it is really the road to liberation.

5) Timothy Keller writes that you should “give your spouse the right to talk to you about what is wrong with you.” and  “give each other the right to hold one another accountable.”  (p.132, 138, 146)  What does it mean to hold one another accountable?  How do you currently accomplish this within your marriage?  

6) Remember the story about Timothy Keller and the dirty diaper. (Story begins p.141, 149)  Have you and your spouse ever experienced a similar situation in your marriage?  How did you resolve it?      

7) Read Genesis 2:24.  What does it mean to leave your father and mother?   How easy or difficult do you think this is for most couples today? How easy or difficult has it been for your marriage?   

8) Timothy Keller briefly mentioned Love Languages or Love Currency.  Dr. Gary Chapman has outlined 5 Love Languages, and they include:

  1. Words of Affirmation – This person enjoys unsolicited compliments and encouragement.  Insults are not easily forgotten and leave them feeling shattered.
  2. Quality Time – This person desires full, undivided attention.  Cell phones, ipads, Facebook and Pinterest are enemies of a quality time personality.
  3. Receiving Gifts – Any gift, large or small makes this person feel cared for and prized above all other things.
  4. Acts of Service – This person deeply appreciates you vacuuming, doing the dishes, changing the oil, or anything else you can do to ease the burden of responsibilities.
  5. Physical Touch – This isn’t just about sex.  They enjoy hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and other forms of touch all throughout the day.

If you had to guess, which one is your primary love language?  Which one is your spouse’s primary love language?

(Note: If you wish, take a free online assessment at http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love/)  

9) Do these love languages give you better insight as to how you can better be loving toward your spouse?  Please explain.    

10) Do you regularly take opportunities to read the Bible or other Christian literature together?  If so, what are some benefits to your marriage from doing so?  If not, what would be some benefits to your marriage if you did so?     

11) What are 3 or 4 ways you can guard your heart?  Which of these do you believe is the most effective?  Why? (Proverbs 4:23)    

12) Keller discussed the three powers inherent in marriage: The power of truth, the power of love, and the power of grace.  Give a one-sentence definition of each. [128]

13) What’s the best way to view the flaws in your partner? [135]

14) What is there in your parents’ marriage that you think affects (or will affect) your own marriage? [142]

15) Discuss:  “a positive assessment by your spouse has ultimate credibility”

16) Discuss:  “The one person in the whole world who holds your heart in her hand, whose approval and affirmation you most long for and need, is the one who is hurt more deeply by your sins than anyone else on the planet.”

17) Discuss: One of the most basic skills in marriage is the ability to tell the straight, unvarnished truth about what your spouse has done— and then, completely, unself-righteously, and joyously express forgiveness without a shred of superiority, without making the other person feel small.

18) Discuss:  “I don’t know of anything more necessary in marriage than the ability to forgive fully, freely, unpunishingly, from the heart.” [160] 

Don't forget to post your attendance after group.