Crazy Stupid Love Week 5: Touch

Crazy Stupid Love Week 5: Touch

SERIES INTRODUCTION

Our lives are full of relationships — best friends, spouses, exes, neighbors, co-workers — and those relationships can be complicated. Relationships are messy, and love can be hard. So how do we have good ones? And get over bad ones? During this series, we’ll give you the secret to strong and thriving relationships in every area of your life.

  • What is your favorite memory of your parents? Why?


MESSAGE TITLE

Touch

SERMON GUIDE

This week’s message continues our Crazy, Stupid Love series. We’ve been learning about the natural progression of healthy relationships. You have to KNOW someone before you can TRUST them. And you have to have TRUST before you will RELY on someone. And you have to RELY on someone before you’re willing to make a COMMITMENT to them. The focus of the message this week is the power of TOUCH in our relationships, and in a marriage relationship, that involves sex. Gene’s message this week has two parts: the power of touch in general, and then touch and sex in a marriage relationship.

Gene pointed out that there is a life-giving power that happens with human touch. Of course, we are talking about healthy, appropriate touching. Whether it is a simple high-five, a pat on the arm, a hug, a kiss, or sexual intimacy, it affects us; God wired us this way. 

  • Can you give an example of being affected in a positive way by a friendly (non-sexual) touch?

Even Jesus engaged in the power of life-giving touch with his disciples. The Apostle Paul instructed believers to greet each other with a “holy kiss” to create an atmosphere of warmth and welcome. 

  • In this modern time, we don’t engage in “holy kisses,” but do you think it is important to have greeters to welcome people to Eastside either by a hug or a handshake? Why?

Gene shared that there is a bond-building power from sexual touch. He also shared that human sexuality is a gift from God. 

Have someone read Genesis 1:27-29. Gene shared that God not only created sex and commanded it, but also created in us the ability and desire to engage in it. That makes our sexuality good, not evil. 

  • Does that statement challenge any previous opinions you’ve had or observed of sex or sexuality?

The Bible tells us that there should be boundaries involved with engaging in sex. Read Hebrews 13:4 and 1 Corinthians 16:16-18. Boundaries are important because they keep your body and soul protected. Gene explained that God did this to save us from pain and consequences  as time goes on. 

  • What do you think or feel about these boundaries?

Gene shared some important tips for married couples:

      • It can be better.

      • Build an atmosphere of affection.

      • Increase your commitment to communication.

      • Maintain an attitude of giving.

  • If you are married, what ideas along these lines come to mind that you can you do to make your relationship better?

  • If the Touch scale on the R.A.M chart is low in your marriage, can you think of what you and your spouse need to work on regarding the other scales that would invite improvement in this one?


APPLICATION

God created physical touch to be life-giving and bond-building between people at the right time. Whether it’s between family members, friends, acquaintances, people you are meeting for the first time — is there a relationship you are involved in where you can appropriately show more life-giving touch to create a space of welcome and warmth? 

PRAYER

Break into groups of 2-3 and pray that God would reveal any relationships wherein you need to set some boundaries. Or for God to open your heart to be more warm and comforting to friends when the time is right and sharing some caring touch. Pray for healing and cleansing for all who might be seeking it in this area of life.

Crazy Stupid Love Week 4: Commit

Crazy Stupid Love Week 4: Commit

SERIES INTRODUCTION

Our lives are full of relationships — best friends, spouses, exes, neighbors, co-workers — and those relationships can be complicated. Relationships are messy and love can be hard. So how do we have good ones? And get over bad ones? During this series, we’ll give you the secret to strong and thriving relationships in every area of your life.

  • Who do you consider to be a close friend and why?


MESSAGE TITLE

Commit

SERMON GUIDE

God’s ways are always best. That’s why we’ve been looking at the progressive nature of His plan for relationships, He made us, loves us, and wants the best for us. That should encourage us to trust Him and learn to do things in the right order.

A theme that is currently prevalent in our culture is “life is all about you… you are the center of the universe.” As a result, the idea of dying to myself, having the “same mindset as Jesus” and being totally committed to another person and his or her wellbeing is likely to be perplexing and difficult for us. 

The focus this week is choose to commit. In every relationship we have there is a choice. Love is a verb; to commit is an action you choose to do. 

  • Have someone read Philippians 2:3-4. Would your current relationships look different if you were to approach your relationships with this mindset?

  • The word commit is used in the Bible as an active word. It is continual; not a one-time “I’m all in” sort of thing. The meaning implies we continue getting to know the other person. In an age of social media and superficial connections, it is easy to forget that deep friendships and great marriages take work and time. Share the greatest barrier you are currently facing that keeps you from fully investing in your relationships.

  • Have someone read Proverbs 20:6. Beth Moore said, “Faithfulness is resting in His certainty, persuaded by His honesty, trusting in His reality, being won over by His sincerity, being sure that He’s sure, and believing He’s worth believing.” Is there a place or relationship in your life where you feel you need to be more faithful or loyal?

  • Have someone read Psalm 89:1-2, 8. The foundation our faithfulness is our relationship with God. Are we faithful in our relationship with Him, investing our time to know Him and learn what the Scriptures tell us His will is? How about our other relationships? Share how you see the correlation of your current relationship with God with how your human relationships are going.

  • Faithfulness is persisting even when feel like we want to quit. Mature, Spirit-led people live by their commitments, not their emotions. This is different from today’s motto of going with how you feel in the moment. Emotions come and go. They can be valuable as a tool, an indicator of what’s going on that needs attention, but that is not the same as letting your emotions rule your decisions. Faithfulness is intentional persisting, doing the right thing, even when you don't feel like it. Maybe you have overcommitted, but the fact is you made those commitments. Do you recognize patterns in your life where in challenging moments, you want to quit or bail? Talk about a choice or change you could make in your current situation to avoid those patterns kicking in.

  • Have someone read James 1:3-4. Mike shared how it is those moments — when you’re in those pressure situations where you feel like quitting — that the Holy Spirit can do His best work in perfecting faithfulness in your character. Share a time when you experienced God meeting you in the midst of a situation when you turned to Him for help, choosing to keep moving forward and persisting.

  • Mike shared the story about the 40-year-old man still struggling from an incident that had affected him deeply when he was 12 — when his father broke his promise to take him to Boy Scout Camp. Share a time when someone broke a significant promise to you. How do you restore the capacity to trust after trust has been shattered?

  • Have someone read Proverbs 20:7. Where do you need to apply this principle in your life?


APPLICATION

Share where you need to commit. Spend time this week thinking over the following questions:

  • Do you show up?

  • Do you keep your promises?

  • Is your word good?

  • Can people trust what you say?

  • Can your friend trust you?

  • Do your parents trust what you’re telling them?

  • Can your spouse, your family count on you?

  • Do your kids know that you are absolutely committed to them?

  • Can your kids take your word to the bank?

PRAYER

Break into groups of 2-3 and pray that God would give you the courage to honestly look at your life and relationships. Pray that you would choose to commit, looking to and trusting God to help you as you move forward.

Crazy Stupid Love Week 3: Risk to Rely

Crazy Stupid Love Week 3: Risk to Rely

SERIES INTRODUCTION

Our lives are full of relationships – best friends, spouses, exes, neighbors, co-workers – and those relationships can be complicated. Relationships are messy, and love can be hard. So how do we have good ones? And get over bad ones? During this series, we’ll give you the secret to strong and thriving relationships in every area of your life.

  • What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken?


MESSAGE TITLE

Risk to Rely

SERMON GUIDE

This week’s message continues our Crazy, Stupid Love series. The focus for the series is that all relationships get better when we do them God’s way. The target mindset that we’re looking for is Jesus. The best thing that can happen to you is not just that you’re in church, but that Jesus is working within you and actively changing you.

  • Have someone read Romans 12:5. In a life of extreme independence, this passage goes against what culture tells us. It seems as though we are created to be in community, especially with other believers. Is there a time when you’ve experienced this kind of connection to another believer?

  • Gene shared the phrase: You’ll only find God’s purpose for your life through dependence on Him and healthy interdependence with others. God created us to be in relationship and togetherness with Him and others around us to help us find our place in this world. Even Jesus, creator of the universe, displayed the importance of letting people in and relying on others. Do you have a few people in your life whom you have created healthy relationship and togetherness with? How did that connection become so strong?

  • Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. This passage shares that God has fitted us together to rely on each other. It gives us an insight into God’s intention for His church. It would be a place of unity and where people would be able to be used according to their S.H.A.P.E. Have you found out what your S.H.A.P.E. is? If you know it, are you currently serving in a place to be used and help further the Kingdom? If you don’t know your S.H.A.P.E., we encourage you to check out Next Steps to find out!

  • Read Ecclesiastes 4:10. Whether you’re married or single, this passage applies to everyone. If you’re married, do some reflection and try to identify if there is a healthy amount of reliance between the two of you. If you’re single, think of your friendships and reflect and identify a few people whom you can rely on no matter what. We need to learn to rely and be reliable ourselves because, as we know, relationships are two-way streets.


APPLICATION

Look at the circle of people you have included in your life; do you think you can rely on them when the going gets tough? Do they challenge you and make you a better person? If you don’t have those people, start looking to where you might be able to find them. 

PRAYER

Break into groups of 2-3 and pray that God would help and show you how to build a level of trust in your relationships to where you can learn to rely on them. And if you are struggling with loneliness, pray that God would deliver you by bringing people into your life with whom you could build godly relationships.  

Crazy Stupid Love Week 2: Learning and Earning Trust

Crazy Stupid Love Week 2: Learning and Earning Trust

SERIES INTRODUCTION

Our lives are full of relationships – best friends, spouses, exes, neighbors, co-workers – and those relationships can be complicated. Relationships are messy, and love can be hard. So how do we have good ones? And get over bad ones? During this series, we’ll give you the secret to strong and thriving relationships in every area of your life.

  • How did you learn the most important lesson in your life?


MESSAGE TITLE

Learning and Earning Trust

SERMON GUIDE

This week’s message continues our Crazy, Stupid Love series. The focus for the series is that all relationships get better when we do them God’s way. The target mindset that we’re looking for is Jesus. The best thing that can happen to you is not just that you’re in church, but that Jesus is working within you and actively changing you.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Before marriage, keep your eyes wide open; but afterwards, half shut.” Is there a relationship that you can think of where during the first few months, you were totally “lovestruck” and were blind to all of the “red flags”? What were the red flags, and how did you come to notice them?

  • Have someone read Proverbs 25:14. Gene shared that if there’s a person in your life that talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk, that’s a red flag, and that person probably isn’t too trustworthy. A person’s character is important to examine when building relationships. Are they a man or woman of their word? This is when it’s important to have open eyes, so we can keep a lookout for red flags. Is there a relationship you need to open or reopen your eyes to?

  • Gene also shared this fact: Half of all relationships end in the first 90 days… Why? … Because they find out some new information about this person that forces them to take a second look. Investing in the three T’s (talking and togetherness over time) is important to learn a person’s character and get to know them to be able to begin to build trust.

  • Have someone read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Once we take the next step and trust people, we have to remind ourselves, they’re human just like me. This means they aren’t perfect and will eventually mess up. Paul wrote this passage to show how to sustain trust. Because once we have trusted and built that love, it will prompt a deeper trust, forgiveness and healing. Gene shared a great practice to sustain trust; Trust feelings grow out of the qualities you choose to focus on. So, if you are focusing on all the shortcomings and weaknesses of the other person, that is all you will see, and you will begin to lose trust. Is there a relationship in your life where you need to reposition your perspective and put the focus on the other person’s strengths rather than their weaknesses?

  • Gene shared that when rebuilding trust that has been broken, we need to be quick to forgive but slow to trust. Have someone read Ephesians 4:32. Jesus is the perfect example of forgiveness, by becoming the ultimate sacrifice for me and you. Share this reminder with your group

  • Forgiveness is past oriented… Trust is future oriented.

  • Forgiveness means letting go… Trust means holding on.

  • Forgiveness is undeserved… Trust is earned.

  • Gene also shared this little nugget of wisdom, “Let your trust be seasoned with grace,” This means that when someone lets us down, we don’t immediately write them off; we approach with grace and understanding. Depending on their response, it’ll give you more insight if they’re ready to be trusted again. Little by little you will see the trust begin to be rebuilt. Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? Or is there someone God is calling you to slow your trust with?


APPLICATION

  • What relationship is God calling you to either slow your trust and get to know this person better, refocus your view of someone, or extend some forgiveness and grace? 

PRAYER

Break into groups of 2-3 and pray that God would aid you in your relationships by opening your eyes to what level of trust you are in and where you may need to slow down and get to know another better, refocus and prioritize the good, or forgive.


Crazy Stupid Love Week 1: To Know and Be Known

Crazy Stupid Love Week 1: To Know and Be Known

SERIES INTRODUCTION

Our lives are full of relationships – best friends, spouses, exes, neighbors, co-workers – and those relationships can be complicated. Relationships are messy, and love can be hard. So how do we have good ones? And get over bad ones? During this series, we’ll give you the secret to strong and thriving relationships in every area of your life.

  • What is the funniest, craziest advice on relationships you have given?


MESSAGE TITLE

To Know and Be Known

SERMON GUIDE

This week’s message was the beginning of our Crazy, Stupid Love series. The focus for the series is that all relationships get better when we do them God’s way. The target mindset that we’re looking for is Jesus. The best thing that can happen to you is not just that you’re in church, but that Jesus is in you.

  • Have someone read Philippians 2:5-8. Why is it so important to our relationships to have the same mindset as Jesus?

  • Have someone read Psalm 139: This week we talked about the need to know someone before we trust them. Our relationship with God is also like that. For us to wholeheartedly trust Him, we need to know Him.

Tim Keller said, "To be loved but now know is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.

Share a time in your life that relied on someone, putting your trust in them before you knew them. What was the outcome?

  • Have someone read I Samuel 16:7. Gene shared that if we want to grow in our relationships, we’ve got to know them. Time is the only way we can discover someone's character, integrity, spiritual commitment, and heart. To get to know someone well enough to see these traits, we need to invest the time and say no to the distractions. Share what do you need to say no to right now to strengthen relationships in your life?

  • Have someone read Matthew 25:31-40. The second step to knowing someone is to act on what you know. If you want to be like Jesus, you need to act like him. Identify a step or area to work on in a relationship in your life. What action would make a difference?

  • Have someone read Ephesians 3:19. The last step to knowing someone is to know where your identity comes from. God desires you to know Him deeply and intimately. Our spiritual growth happens within us and influences our relationship. What actions can you take to grow in your relationship with God?


APPLICATION

  • What relationship is God calling you to develop and strengthen? 

PRAYER

Break into groups of 2-3 and pray that He would aid you to love the people in your life and honor them in your words and actions this week.  


Fall Kick-Off: An Interview with Albert & Deidre Pujols

Fall Kick-Off: An Interview with Albert & Deidre Pujols

SERIES TITLE

Fall Kick-Off:

  • Share your favorite baseball memory or which baseball team you are fan of.


MESSAGE TITLE

An Interview with Albert & Deidre Pujols

SERMON GUIDE

Gene sat down and talked with Albert and Deidre Pujols. Albert is an Angel’s player, but he and Deidre are active

  1. Share what part of the interview with the Pujols’s stood out to you or impacted you?

  2. Albert shared that he lives his life based on the priority of faith, family and career. How would your life align with those priorities? What changes could you make to put faith and family first in your life? What would the impact be on your life and family?

  3. Have someone read Philippians 4:6-7. Deidre shared that the Bible is given to us to shape our character and gives us the instructions for how to do that. She turned to God after giving birth to Bella, who had Down Syndrome She realized she had a choice to trust God or forget Him. She said, “in difficult situation there is grace.” Is there a difficult situation you are facing? How can you invite God into that space?

  4. Have someone read Psalms 37:4-6. Albert shared that God is at the center of every decision they make. He said, “If we allow God to help us, we know it’s going to work.” What areas are easy for you trust God with? Share one area you need to allow God to be at the center of.

  5. The mission of the Pujols Family Foundation is to live and share our commitment to faith, family and others. Deidre has said her favorite verse is Luke 12:48. Have someone read the passage.

    She said that money never bought her a day of happiness, won’t buy your way out of a challenge and that true joy is in Christ. Identify an area in your life that you once believed money might solve? How are you handling what God has given you? Where do you need to experience true joy in Christ?

  6. Albert said, “when you go through challenge in life, it makes you better so you can bless others.” They have given back through their foundation but we can all give back, regardless of our bank accounts. Each of us has challenges and struggles. Where might God be calling you to use your life experience to bless others? 

  7. Diedre invited Albert to join her at church and through that he became of follower of Jesus. Who in your life needs to hear about Jesus?


APPLICATION

What is one thing you discussed today that you want to implement this week?

Where is an area of your life, maybe a difficult situation, where you need to sit and be still so that you can hear God?

PRAYER

Break into groups of 2-3 and pray for courage to live a life of faith and family first. Pray for the people in your life who need to hear about Jesus. 

HACKED Week 3: Stolen by Success

HACKED Week 3: Stolen by Success

SERIES TITLE

HACKED…Reclaiming Your True Identity

SERIES INTRODUCTION

Too many people don’t know who they really are! They have first and last names, a title, an ID, but their true identity remains a mystery. We easily lose ourselves in success, our past, our image, and oftentimes, our relationships. 

  • What do you see when you look in the mirror?


MESSAGE TITLE

Stolen by Success

SERMON GUIDE

This week we looked at how much God’s wants us to experience what Jesus describes as “life to the full.”  He knows that if we don’t look to Him for purpose, worth, truth, and unfailing love our priorities get out of whack.

  1. Think about the things that make you feel good about yourself. What happens to your self-worth if any of these things change?

  2. Ecclesiastes 4:4(NLT) says, “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success by their envy of their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless, like chasing the wind.“Share a time in your life where it felt meaningless. 

    Have someone read Luke 18:18-21

  3. This man comes to Jesus asking, “what do I need to do to inherit eternal life?” He was a high performer, ready to do what he needed to do. He had a checklist of all the commands he had kept but money was his idol. In the end, the one thing Jesus challenged him to do, give away his wealth, he couldn’t do. He couldn’t surrender his heart to God.

  4. Have someone read 1 John 3:1. We find our identity when we accept and experience God’s lavish love for us. Share a time you experienced God’s overwhelming love for you. How did that change you?

  5. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” Mike talked about true intimacy with God is when we feel His presence and sense Him directing our path. Intimacy with God happens when we are talking to Him daily, worshipping and expressing gratitude. On a scale of 1-5 how would you rate your intimacy with God right now? What could you do to draw closer to Him?

  6. Have someone read Ephesians 2:10. Share what it means to think of yourself as God’s masterpiece? How does that make a difference in how you live your life?


APPLICATION

This weekend Mike shared the story of the teacher who was overcoming an eating disorder by saying the verses he had shared last week before each meal. That first step led them to be able to eat a meal without getting sick. What is one area of your life you need help overcoming? Commit to looking up and writing down a few verses and praying them daily.

PRAYER

Break into groups of two to three and pray that you would walk in the freedom God has given you, in confidence.  

HACKED Week 2: Mugged by the Mirror

HACKED Week 2: Mugged by the Mirror

SERIES TITLE

HACKED…Reclaiming Your True Identity

SERIES INTRODUCTION

Too many people don’t know who they really are! They have first and last names, a title, an ID, but their true identity remains a mystery. We easily lose ourselves in success, our past, our image, and oftentimes, our relationships.

  • What do you see when you look in the mirror?


MESSAGE TITLE

Mugged by the Mirror

SERMON GUIDE

This week’s message focuses on the images we try to live up to and form our identity around. Instead of clinging to the image of God in us, how easy it is to fall into searching for the next best thing, leaving us unsatisfied and disappointed. Mike takes us through John, Ephesians, Colossians, even Genesis, showing us the perfect identity we already have in Christ. Key point: It starts on the inside.

Have someone read Colossians 3:12. How can we put on like a garment — dress ourselves — in love, every day?

From a young age, our perceptions of body image are formed. How does this impact the way we see our creator? How do we let this image take over the image of God in us?

  1. Have someone read John 10:10. The original hacker (Satan) comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; that is his sole intention. How does knowing this affect our awareness of him and his tactics?

  2. It is hard to see through the lies we believe when they are constantly being reinforced around us. Which lie about yourself do you believe most easily (e.g., “If I could just look like that… girls/guys will want me, employers will hire me, friends will want to be with me…”)?

  3. Have someone read Genesis 3:1-5. Adam and Eve bought into the lie that God was holding out on them. Have you ever felt like that? Satan slyly questions God’s commands, and in doing so convinced Adam and Eve that God’s words weren’t true. Can you relate to them in this way? What kind of lies have you struggled with in your life?

  4. So many of us spend a lifetime trying to become what we don’t realize we already are: accepted. Henri Nouwen said this, “Even though you may not be chosen by the world, you are chosen by God. Every time you listen to his voice, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply. It is like discovering a well in the desert.” Is it hard to grasp that you are already accepted? How can we let that truth consume us?

  5. What if the words of an insensitive dad, and insecure mom, a teasing brother, or a screwed-up culture were replaced by the loving words from your heavenly father? What if the lies of the thief were replaced by the truth of God?

  6. Mike shared a few “Victorious Secrets,” like “Know what God says,” “See how God sees,” and “Love who God loves.“ Which one of these is the hardest for you to grasp? Why?  


APPLICATION

What is one thing you discussed today that you want to implement this week with your own self-image and identity?

Are you allowing yourself to be mugged by the mirror? What steps do you need to take to put on, dress yourself in love, and step into who God says you are?

PRAYER

Break into groups of two to three, and pray that God would guide you to realize, embrace, and embody the internal beauty and identity that he has already given you.  

HACKED Week 1: Ripped Off by Relationships

HACKED Week 1: Ripped Off by Relationships

Note to leaders: We are trying a new format for this series. Each week we will be providing a series of questions. If you have feedback, we would love to hear from you. Email cliefeld@eastside.com. Thanks!

SERIES TITLE

HACKED… Reclaiming Your True Identity

SERIES INTRODUCTION

Too many people don’t know who they really are! They have first and last names, a title, an ID, but their true identity remains a mystery. We can easily lose ourselves in success, our past, our image, and oftentimes, our relationships.

  • When someone asks you to tell them about yourself, what first comes to mind? Why do you think that is?


MESSAGE TITLE

Ripped Off by Relationships

SERMON GUIDE

This week’s message focuses on relationships and how they impact our identity. We desire love. As we try to fill our desire for unfailing love with people who are, of course, fallible, we set ourselves up for some inevitable disappointments and heartaches. Mike takes us through Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, showing us throughout different cultures and contexts, the human desire for greater love.

  1. Our names are the first thing we ever own, a key piece of our identity. Why is identity so important? Have you ever felt like Mike did on the first day of school?

  2. Have someone read Psalms 36:7. The unfailing love spoken of here is found 40 times in scripture in connection to God, the only one that can truly give it. Why do you think we reach for identity in places other than God? 

  3. We all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts that cannot be filled with anything but Jesus. How have you tried to fill it with other things? What was the result?

  4. Have someone read Psalm 68:5-6a. God sets the lonely in families, and being part of God’s family is a crucial piece of our identity. How does being in Christ, and Christ being in us, change who we are?

  5. Have someone read Ephesians 3:16-19. What does it mean to grasp God’s love? The Greek word used here for “grasp” comes from the word for “rust” and literally means “to eat all the way through.” How does this change the way we view the verse? How does it impact how we apply it?

  6. Mike shared that because of Christ, we are completely accepted, totally secure, and deeply significant. Which one of these is the hardest for you to grasp? Why?

  7. Which “I am” verse resonates with you the most? How does that impact your everyday life?


APPLICATION

What is one thing you discussed today that you want to implement this week within your relationships?

Are you in any relationships that you’re allowing to steal your identity? If so, how has the expectations or attitude of others negatively affected your thoughts about yourself? How can you intentionally step into who God says you are?

PRAYER

Break into groups of 2-3 and pray that God would guide you to seek his unconditional love and to step into your true identity this week.

Love Where You Are Week 3: Love Where You Go

Love Where You Are Week 3: Love Where You Go

SERIES TITLE

Love Where You Are

SERIES INTRODUCTION

It may seem random, but God actually placed you exactly where you’re supposed to be — to make a difference with people you are around every day! It's time to love where you are and get excited about all the good you can do influencing your family, workplace, and neighborhoods for God!

  • Share a time you embarked on a spontaneous adventure.


MESSAGE TITLE

Love Where You Go

SERMON GUIDE

Luke 7 is a fascinating section of the Bible because Jesus gives us a remarkable picture of what it looks like to love where you go. He has three encounters in this chapter and models to us how to love others throughout our day.

 

  1. Have someone read Luke 7:1-10. Jesus stops and shows concern for the centurion's servant. The centurion seeks Jesus and asks him to heal him. Where do you most often turn when you find yourself in a desperate situation? The centurion believed a single word from Jesus could change everything. How does that recognition challenge your faith?

  2. Have someone read Luke 7:11-17. Jesus encounters a funeral procession, and the Bible says his heart was filled with compassion. He walks over to the procession and brings the boy to life and gives him back to his mother. Gene talked about loving others, even when we are inconvenienced. How well do you love when something as precious as your time is threatened? Share a time you missed out on being a part of God’s work by letting your schedule keep you from being in the moment?

  3. Have someone read Luke 7:36-50. One of the Pharisees, a group of religious leaders who opposed Jesus, had invited him to dinner. A woman, most likely a prostitute, walks in and starts anointing his feet with oil. He extended her grace and forgave her, which was outrageous and confusing to the Pharisees. She was filled with love and gratitude. Share a time you were overcome with God’s grace for you.

  4. How do you respond when people catch you off-guard and break into your perfectly protected life and scheduled? 

  5. Luke 7 shares 3 stories of Jesus seeing people, seeing their needs and reaching out in compassion, regardless of how others thought. How might your life be different if you were more concerned about honoring Jesus than about the thoughts of others?

  6. What changes do you need to make in your life to create space when faced with an inconvenience and not be too busy to take action. Share a time you had an unexpected interruption and saw God use that moment?

  7. Instead of keeping God’s love to myself, our love and compassion should move us to action. Most people find their way to Eastside because someone cared enough to invite them.  Who in your life needs to know about Eastside?

 


APPLICATION

If you were there this weekend, you received a red dot to place as a reminder to love where you are, where you live and where you go. Where did you put it? What is the biggest challenge you face when it comes to loving others?

PRAYER

Spend time thanking God for how much he loves you. Thank him for meeting you in the midst of your messy life and extending grace. Pray you would be aware and willing to love where you go, even if it is inconvenient. Ask God to help you be more compassionate and willing to extend mercy.

Pray for the person(s) in your life that needs to know about Jesus and for the courage and opportunity to invite them to join you at Eastside for a service.

Love Where You Are Week 2: People Matter

Love Where You Are Week 2: People Matter

Note to leaders: We are trying a new format for this series. Each week we will be providing a series of questions. If you have feedback, we would love to hear from you. Email cliefeld@eastside.com. Thanks!

SERIES TITLE

Love Where You Are

SERIES INTRODUCTION

It may seem random, but God actually placed you exactly where you’re supposed to be — to make a difference with people you are around every day! It's time to love where you are and get excited about all the good you can do influencing your family, workplace, and neighborhoods for God!

  •  What were some of the rules in place in the home you grew up in?


MESSAGE TITLE

People Matter

SERMON GUIDE

This past weekend we were in the second part of our Love Where You Live series. Imagine what the world would be like if we focused on two things – love God and love your neighbor. There are so many moments painted for us in the pages of scripture that demonstrate the idea that people matter. No one lived this better than Jesus.

  1. Have you ever written out a priority list for your family? If so, what’s on it? Why is it important for a family to clearly understand these priorities? What happens if they don’t?

  2. Have someone read Matthew 22:34-38. In Matthew 22, the Pharisees approached Jesus with a question meant to test and trap Him. In His response, Jesus gave us what is known as the Great Commandment, the teaching upon which all of the Law and the Prophets depend.

The Pharisees expected Jesus to fold under the weight of all the 613 commands in the Law. Instead of buckling under the pressure, Jesus responded immediately by identifying the most important law. Part of His answer comes from the passage in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 known as the Shema, which means “hear” or “listen.” Every faithful, practicing Jew would repeat this twice a day, and it signified giving themselves fully- their heart, their soul, their mind over to God.

3. What makes loving God the greatest command?

4. The Great Commandment emphasizes loving God with all your heart, soul, and might. What do each of those aspects of a person’s being represent?

Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 22:39-40. Again, Jesus took a command from the Old Testament, this time from Leviticus 19:18, “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

5. Who would Jesus say is your “neighbor”? What does it mean to love another person “as yourself”?

6. Read Matthew 25:31-40, where days before Jesus was about to die on the cross he’s teaching, and he talks about the end. Imagine a world where people were at times critical of us because of what we believed, became envious because of how we loved.

Just like Mark, who we heard from in the video, it may be a simple step of faith that shows your neighbor, your barber, your son, your daughter that they matter, and God loves them. Who comes to mind that needs that type of love and what one step could you take?

 


APPLICATION

Landon challenged us to ask ourselves “what does love require of me?”

Share what most frequently stands in the way of you truly loving others? What are some tangible expressions of this kind of love you might practice this week: At your workplace? In your home? With your friends?

Share who you could give one of the ‘what love requires’ cards this week?

PRAYER

Break into groups of 2-3 and pray for the people that came to your mind. Pray that you would live out each day loving God and loving others. Pray for courage to hand out cards to those in your life that need to know they matter to God.

Love Where You Are Week 1: Love Where You Live

Love Where You Are Week 1: Love Where You Live

Note to leaders: We are trying a new format for this series. Each week we will be providing a series of questions. If you have feedback, we would love to hear from you. Email cliefeld@eastside.com. Thanks!

SERIES TITLE

Love Where You Are

SERIES INTRODUCTION

It may seem random, but God actually placed you exactly where you’re supposed to be — to make a difference with people you are around every day! It's time to love where you are and get excited about all the good you can do influencing your family, workplace, and neighborhoods for God!

  • What does family look like for you?


MESSAGE TITLE

Love Where You Live

SERMON GUIDE

This week’s message focused on family…step family, blended family, divorced family, single-parent family, nuclear family, dysfunctional family. Romans 12 was the basis for this week’s message, with the goal to help us love the people where we live.

  1. Have someone read Romans 12:9-10. How does that play out in a family?

  2. Have someone read Psalms 39:4. Most of us are living at a pace that is unsustainable. We live in a world where the attitude is do more, accomplish more, and conquer more. What could you do to realign your schedule with your values?

  3. Regardless of your marital status, discuss ways to establish God-honoring values in your home. What are important guardrails for you and your family?

  4. Have someone read Galatians 5:22-23. Discuss how similar the characteristics in Romans 12 mirror the fruit of the spirit.

  5. Gene shared three simple ways to communicate love for each other with genuine affection in a family. You do it with a look, a word, and a touch. Are any of these difficult for you? What one is most meaningful for you to receive? How does your family upbringing influence your behavior today?

  6. How we were raised influences us as adults. Share if and how your family incorporated those three methods. If they didn’t, share how that impacted you.

  7. Romans 12:10 says to “outdo one another in honor.” The word “honor” literally means to “attach a high price tag’ to someone.” What image do you get when you think of outdoing one another with honor?

  8. What are a few ways you can show unconditional love to someone this week?

 


APPLICATION

What is one thing you discussed today that you want to implement this week with your family?

Who is someone in your life that you could show honor and value to this week?

PRAYER

Break into groups of 2-3 and pray that He would aid you to love the people in your life and honor them in your words and actions this week.  

ATypical Week 3: A-Typical Decision

ATypical Week 3: A-Typical Decision

SERIES TITLE

ATypical

SERIES INTRODUCTION

  • What is your first memory of spending money? What did you buy?


MESSAGE TITLE

A-Typical Decision

SERMON GUIDE

This week Gene shared the importance of decisions, particularly in the area of finances. The big idea of this series has been “If you want what typical people have financially, then do what typical people do. But if you want what few people have financially, then do what few people do.”

Have someone read Mark 12:41-44.

Jesus was in the temple treasury area, and He sat on the wall opposite where the offerings were being deposited.

People were giving gifts, and the wealthy people were giving large gifts because it was Passover, the holiday commemorating the time the angel of death had passed over the homes of their ancestors in Egypt.

The word for “watched” means he watched with a “discerning eye.” He was basically telling His disciples who were with him, “Let’s people-watch here for a bit. Let’s watch people give and observe how generous they are.”

Have someone read Matthew 6:1-4.

In Mark 12, we aren't privy to all the details, but perhaps the disciples were watching someone put in a considerable amount, listening to the clang of all the coins. Jesus is looking elsewhere, watching a widow who walks in and gives two tiny coins. In verse 43, Jesus states she has given more than all the others. We can only imagine the disciples doing the math in their head, thinking, How is that possible?

Jesus says the widow gave out of her poverty, all she had to live on. Jesus used this story to teach His disciples something so crucial about finances, one of the most important principles we will ever learn. The a-typical financial principle Jesus is teaching here is that God measures generosity based on a percentage, not an amount.

Whatever you decide to give, God knows what percentage of your income you give. God measures our generosity on percentage, not pure amount.

  • Why is tithing such a difficult act of obedience to follow?

In his message, Gene explained that the starting place for percentage-giving for all followers of Jesus is the tithe, meaning 10%. Tithing is not really giving; it’s returning to God what is already His. God is looking for sacrifice when we give. King David said, “I will not sacrifice to God that which costs me nothing.”

  • Does viewing all your own as God’s change how you handle your possessions and finances?

Have someone read Proverbs 3:9-10 and Malachi 3:6-10.

  • What are the first fruits, and why are we called to give them to God?

  • How does tithing demonstrate we honor God and trust in Him?

Even now, in your small group discussion, some of you might be saying tithing is an Old Testament thing and is not specifically mentioned or encouraged in the New Testament. Gene laid out several passages to consider.

For instance, Jesus Himself said in Matthew 23:23, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former." (NIV)

This weekend we heard Brett and Jacqueline Jackson share a bit of their financial journey. Our stories are powerful. When we share how God is working in our lives, it creates space for God to work in other’s lives.

Tithing is often a difficult topic for us. Money in general and how we handle it is seen as a topic to avoid. When we open up to people we trust and who care about us, we are letting light shine into our circumstances. When we share our struggles and fears, we find encouragement for our journey. In small groups we can cheer each other on, celebrating the steps we take toward following Jesus in every area of life.

  • If you are comfortable, share what your own journey with tithing has been. Have you had bumps in the road? Have you seen God’s blessing in your life?

We have seen how God has blessed Eastside by bringing many people here to hear the Gospel, yet so many in our communities have yet to hear about Him. We are called as a church to reach our towns and cities for Jesus Christ. Supporting a charitable cause financially is a new step for many of us. Imagine what kind of impact it could make in the world if all of us did this and practiced percentage giving.

It’s typical to assume that if we give, especially if we give first fruits, we might not have enough left over for ourselves. We are tempted to be anxious, scared, and hold on tight to those first fruits. But making the a-typical decision to step out in faith invites God to bless our financial situations, and places us in a position to grow in our relationship with Him. Taking steps of faith regarding things we know are God’s will opens a door to immense personal growth.

It is an exciting time at Eastside. Much of what God wants to do in our church is going to be based on many of us making an a-typical decision to invest in stuff God cares about.

 


APPLICATION

How can you be a-typical in how you steward what God has blessed you with financially?

If you haven’t done this yet, please take time to prayerfully consider the challenge Gene presented:

  • Acknowledge everything I have belongs to God. It’s all His and I’m just a manager.

  • Commit to faithfully tithing. This will be a big act of faith.

  • Some of you already tithe faithfully, you might even have recurring giving set up. You might want to commit to give generously beyond the tithe.

Take the card and put it somewhere you will see and be reminded to pray about each day.

PRAYER

Break into groups of 2-3 and pray that He would help you and others trust Him in this area that’s hard for so many people.

ATypical: A-typical Generosity

ATypical: A-typical Generosity

SERIES TITLE

ATypical

SERIES INTRODUCTION

  • Share one thing you are looking forward to doing this summer.


MESSAGE TITLE

A-typical Generosity

SERMON GUIDE

Last week Gene entrusted us with an envelope of his money to carry this week.

  • What did you do with the envelope this week? How did it make you feel to have Gene trust you with his money?

Gene designed this exercise because he wants us to feel the tension of carrying someone else’s money. The truth is, we carry someone else’s money every day. After all, the money we have is not really our money; it’s God’s money. We have a spiritual relationship with God that involves every aspect of our lives.

Have someone read I Chronicles 29:10-12.

If you continue reading the chapter, you’ll notice that King David repeats that everything we own belongs to God. God chose Solomon to build the temple though he was young and inexperienced. David gathered all the resources Solomon would need to build a house for the Lord. David took delight in being a part of it, in having something to do with the Lord’s house that Solomon would build.

Gene led an exercise where we clenched our fists and then released them. We often hold on tightly to our finances, fearful of losing control. But the tighter we clench, the more tense we get.

  • On a scale of 1-10, how tight are your fists in regard to your finances? In what areas are they the tightest? (Income? Possessions? Generosity? etc.)

  • How might a tight-fist mentality affect your relationships with others?

The funny thing is that when we let go and open our hands, everything changes. This is the most liberating, peace-filled move you can ever make financially in your life. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines generous as being “open handed, marked by abundance or ample proportions and characterized by a noble or kindly spirit.”

Have someone read Matthew 29:1-11.

It’s absurd that the God who owns everything, would ever ask us for anything. The story of the triumphal entry of Jesus on Palm Sunday highlights one man’s generosity. Long before that day came, God had already touched the heart of some random donkey owner. God doesn’t need us, for He can do anything on His own, yet He chooses to work through us.

It is also absurd that Jesus rode into town on the generosity of ordinary people. In that moment, He was demonstrating that in the eyes of God, it’s the ordinary person that can give extraordinarily to the purposes of God.

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, it says that the whole city was stirred. Here at Eastside that is our desire as well. We want people in our communities to feel their hearts stirred for Jesus.

  • Share a time when your heart was stirred for Jesus.

It’s absurd that our generosity writes us into the story of God.

Our greed writes us out of the story of God, but our generosity writes us into the story of God. It’s those little acts of responsiveness to God’s promptings in our lives that write us into the story of God. The Bible is filled with everyday people who were invited into God’s story. We read about a little kid who had not much—only a sack with 5 loaves and 2 fishes—that somehow expanded to feed 5000 people.

Have someone read Zechariah 9:9.

500 years before this, God had promised through Zechriah’s prophecy that the king who would be their salvation was going to come riding on a donkey. 500 years later one man’s generosity was a part of fulfilling God’s destiny. God doesn’t need us, yet time after time He invites us in. And if we are attentive and willing, we get to be a part of His story. We just need to be available.

  • Share a time, where you were willing, available and were given an opportunity to be part of God’s story.

Finally, it’s absurd that the man got his donkey back. If you get absurd and become generous to God, you get it back.

Is something blocking you from being generous? What do you think about it?

Have someone read 2 Corinthians 9:10-11.

The most important first step you can take is to be intentional with your giving. Making your generosity a habit is critical to growing in this area. 

The Bible says when we are generous, we are storing up treasure in heaven. When you give something away, you’re actually opening up a doorway in which you can get back something more.

 


APPLICATION

Share one way you can build more generosity in your life this week.

PRAYER

Spend time thanking God for inviting us into His Story. Ask Him to help you be more like Him. If anything is keeping you from being truly generous, ask for His help in overcoming that, for Him to show you the beauty and joy in opening your hands wide, in taking opportunities to share what He has given you. Pray for your friends and community, that their hearts would be stirred for Jesus and that people find the hope and purpose that only Jesus can bring.

Ihope: Hope In the Dark

Ihope: Hope In the Dark

Note to leaders:

The spring semester ends on April 28th, and the summer semester will run June 2-July 28th.   Consequently, there will be no further sermon discussion guides produced until the summer semester begins. However, if your group has been using them and is meeting during the break, here are a couple of short studies you can use in the interim.

Also, we have opened up group registration for the summer semester, so if you know what your group will be doing or have plans to start a new group, you can go ahead and register it now.

SERIES TITLE

Ihope

SERIES INTRODUCTION

  • Last week we shared our favorite Easter tradition as a child. What about this Easter? Is this season unique for you in any way? How?


MESSAGE TITLE

Hope In the Dark

SERMON GUIDE

You probably had it all planned in your mind how life was going to go. You hoped for the perfect house, the ideal spouse, the perfect 2.3 kids, the perfect job. No one grows up thinking that disappointment or heartbreak will consume them.

Some of you find yourself today in the dark; in financial darkness, health darkness, family darkness, mental darkness, marriage darkness, career darkness. You are wondering if God is good when life is not.

  • Is there a day in your life you remember discovering that life wasn’t turning out quite the way you’d hoped it would?

The story of Easter is not a one-day story or a two-day story, but the story of Easter is a three-day story. It’s Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; beginning, middle, and end.  It’s trouble, silence, victory. It’s death, burial, resurrection.

Gene used three words to describe it: Distress, Darkness, Deliverance.

Good Friday had left the followers of Jesus shocked, angry, afraid, and confused. As they witnessed Jesus breathe His last breath, all their hopes and dreams died with Him. Just as yours would have if you had been eyewitnesses to what they had seen and experienced during the past three years with Jesus.

If Good Friday was a day of distress. Saturday was a day of darkness for all who knew and loved Him. Saturday was the day when hope was dead, and life was dark.

When people lose their hope, they lose their ability to dream for the future.

  • What has you feeling like you are in the dark in some area of your life today?

  • Where do you typically turn in times of great trouble? What does that indicate about your ultimate hope?

There are three causes to our darkness that cause us to lose hope. Our past, our present, and our future. Every one of us is wrestling to one degree or another with failure from our past. It is the guilt, regret, and shame that keeps us in the dark. The things we wished we hadn't said, the disappointment of a wrong choice—all of these things can consume us at times.

For some it’s the wounds of the past, the unspeakable things someone did to you verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually that have endlessly complicated your life.

Others have worked through their past but are done in by current challenging circumstances.

For others, it is a fear of the future, what lies ahead. Fear of death is the number two fear of most people, yet it is certain all of us will face it someday. The unknown and uncertainty of what lies ahead keep us from embracing the hope God has for us.

Have someone read Luke 24:1-7.

Jesus had told his followers and predicted this three-day story. He said to them that He would rise on the third day. When He said that, they had no idea what He was talking about. Imagine having followed Jesus, being front row to His miracles and sermons. Imagine doing life with Jesus, and then it comes to a horrible end that day on a cross. At that moment, none of it made sense.

Have someone read Luke 9:22

Did they remember He had told them? We don’t know but in the midst of darkness, it didn’t seem possible to them. Some of you are waiting for your three-day story, searching desperately for hope amid life's challenges. You can find hope in the message of Easter where God does some of His best work in the dark!

Have someone read Psalms 53:6

In great distress, David turned to his hope that God would deliver His people.

  • How might you submit to God, seeking to trust His faithfulness to you?

Easter Sunday morning hope broke through the darkness in the form of the risen Son of God. Whatever you are facing today, Jesus has a promise for you.

Have someone read John 8:12.

You can have light in your darkness. All you have to do is follow Jesus. Even in our challenging times, we can find hope because of Jesus.

  • Share a time you were facing a difficult situation, but God gave you hope in the midst of it.

Have someone read Acts 2:37-38

One the day of Pentecost, Peter addressed the crowd that had gathered. He quoted Joel and David, showing how this all foretold of Jesus’ coming. He called them to follow Jesus.

 


APPLICATION

Is there anyone in your life right now who needs to hear a word of hope? What is the best way for you to offer that to them this week?

Spend time this week journaling and praying over the situations you shared. Pray God would bring you hope in the midst of darkness.

PRAYER

Break into pairs and spend time praying for each other. Spend time thanking Him for the living hope Easter. Pray that just as He brought life from death in His own body, He would bring life and hope to the specific situations your group mentioned.

Modgnik Week 6: King On A Cross

Modgnik Week 6: King On A Cross

SERIES INTRODUCTION

MODGNIK... what do we know about it? It's one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It's an entirely upside-down way to understand God. It's confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don't worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!

  • Share your favorite Easter tradition as a child.


MESSAGE TITLE

King On A Cross

SERMON GUIDE

The people of Jesus’ day were looking for the Kingdom of God to come. They were expectantly looking for a powerful king. They were longing for a political messiah, a strong military conqueror who would come to squash Rome — but instead in this kingdom, we find a king on a cross.

Jesus announced to a group of hopeful followers who had those expectations: “ ‘And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.’ He said this to indicate how he was going to die.” (John 12:32-33 NLT)

He was talking about a cross. He was talking about laying down His life, taking the punishment for the sins of the world. What kind of king does that? Our King.

  • Reflect on John 12:32-33. What is upside down here? What do you understand, and what doesn’t make sense?

Have someone read Psalm 22:1, 7-8, 16-18.

David wrote about Jesus crucifixion. He began with Jesus' words that would be uttered thousands of years later from the cross. In the Bible, there are over 300 detailed prophecies about the messiah, and Jesus fulfilled all of them.

Think about if you were in Jesus' shoes and you knew that you would experience rejection, torture, and death. Wouldn't you be tempted to choose another path?

Yet Jesus kept on moving toward His purpose. He tells His disciples, His closest friends, what is going to happen to Him. Peter blurts out “There’s no way that should happen to you, Jesus!

Have someone read Matthew 16:23.

We aren't facing death, but many of us will face opposition or ridicule for our faith in Jesus. We will meet challenges from family and friends when we seek to follow Him by serving, tithing or attempting to use our gifts and talents for Him.

  • Share a time you felt challenged or opposed regarding your walk of faith. How did you respond? What do you learn from how Jesus acted in the face of opposition?

Have someone read Luke 9:51.

Jesus chose to move ahead and move toward Golgotha, a hill outside Jerusalem.

Sometimes people will ask who murdered Jesus? Who was really responsible for this unjust act of violence? How could something this unfair happen to a man this incredibly good?

Have someone read John 10:18.

Jesus in His own words says this is how it has to happen. This is the kingdom we have been talking about throughout this series — upside down — because what kind of regular king would voluntarily submit to that?

We read in Ephesians 1:7: “Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!” (MSG)

When you humbly and gratefully embrace that gift and invite Him to be the forgiver of your sin and the leader of your life, you not only receive the promise of eternal life, you get to walk free now and experience that every day.

  • Share one of the things you have found freedom in, as a follower of Jesus, that continues to amaze you every day.

God longs for a relationship with people like us. People like us broke the relationship, so God took the initiative and moved throughout history to restore a relationship with us, and He did it on a hill called Golgotha with a King on a cross.

Watch the 3-minute video:

  • Share what stands out to you after watching that video.

  • As we move toward Easter Sunday, share something you need to leave at the cross and trust Jesus with.


APPLICATION

Who do you know that you could invite to join you for one of our Easter services? Who needs to hear the hope of Jesus?

This week write out a list of all the ways you have found freedom through Christ. Spend time in prayer thanking Jesus for everything He has done.

PRAYER

Pair up and pray for each other and the people you identified as needing to hear the hope of Jesus. Pray for courage to reach out and invite them.

Pray for the things you need to leave at the cross, and spend time thanking Jesus for making that sacrifice on the cross so that we can find freedom.

Modgnik Week 5: Not To Us

Modgnik Week 5: Not To Us

SERIES INTRODUCTION

MODGNIK... what do we know about it? It's one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It's a completely upside-down way to understand God. It's confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don't worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!

  • Share your favorite worship song.

 


MESSAGE TITLE

Not To Us

SERMON GUIDE

Jesus was kind, loving, honest and sacrificial. Most people were expecting someone who would show up and take over, kick out the Romans who were occupying Israel, and be more of a political messiah. But Jesus eventually put that to rest when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

It’s different in His Kingdom because people like eloquent while God likes real.

Exactly what does it mean to be real? Real is defined as being exactly as appears or claimed.  Real is also defined as the action of being true to one's self as well as being true to others. That is the kind of relationships we want to have with others and God,

Sometimes we feel the need to be eloquent, but God just wants our heart. He wants us to talk to him, just like we would talk to a friend. We can honestly share our burdens, our praises, and what keeps us up at night.

Public prayer is one of those things that makes many people go into utter panic. They immediately feel inadequate, paralyzed by fear. I’m sure we have all been in a group when the leader asked someone to pray, and everyone’s eyes shuffled back and forth avoiding the leader’s gaze.

God hears our simple prayers. Our cries for help in times of need and our shouts of praise when we have experienced His grace. All we have to do is share with Him, authentically.

  • What scares you most about praying out loud? If you aren’t scared, share how you overcame that fear.

  • Brainstorm ideas for how to make it less scary. Maybe split up into twos or go around and pray one-sentence prayers. The best thing you can do is just be courageous and pray.

Have someone read Luke 18:1-8.

The message from Jesus is pray continually and don’t lose heart. Prayer and persistence matter. It is easy to lose heart when things don’t seem (as far as we can tell) to be happening, and therefore it feels like He doesn’t hear us. The temptation is to question both Jesus and ourselves. Jesus shared the story about the woman and the judge to encourage us to keep persisting and to find hope in the waiting.

  • What is one thing that keeps you persisting in prayer? What are practical things you can do to fight against losing heart?

Have someone read Luke 18:9-14.

It’s different in His Kingdom because people want to look good, but God wants real. We work and live in places where there are unspoken or stated dress requirements. For instance, the Disney Company has a dress code manual with clear “Disney Look” instructions and even a position whose primary duty is to enforce the dress code. The term “maintaining appearances” is something we are very familiar with.

As followers of Jesus we sometimes pretty up our lives, afraid that we wouldn’t be accepted if people knew of our messy pasts or current struggles. Jesus sees through all of that. He is concerned about each of our hearts and the conditions of our souls. He couldn’t care less what other people think.

  • Share a time you showed up dressed differently than everyone else.  How did that make you feel?

  • Have you had moments like the tax collector, when you cried out humbly to God? Share with the group.

Have someone read Luke 18:15-18.

People reward maturity. God rewards real.

No matter where you are in your spiritual journey, God loves you and He wants you to be part of this upside down and backward Kingdom, where desperate widows, tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners, kids and people who sometimes act like kids are all welcome.

All we have to do is read God’s Word to see that Jesus didn’t care about the things we so easily get hung up on. He tells us to come like a child.

  • What does it mean to you to approach God like a child?

  • Have you in the past or maybe still feel like you need to clean up something in your life before you can really be loved by God?


APPLICATION

Spend time reflecting and journaling about ways to approach God like a child.

Practice conversation prayers where you talk to God like He is in the chair next to you. What do you want Him to know? What are you persisting for right now? Pray for hope in the waiting.

Write out a verse that will encourage you to persist in prayer and put it in your car to remind you throughout the day to pray.

PRAYER

Normally, we encourage you to pair up. This week try a new way of prayer. Go around the group and share one thing with the Lord that you are grateful for. Then go around and say a one-sentence prayer for someone in your group.

 

Modgnik Week 4: Not To Us

Modgnik Week 4: Not To Us

SERIES INTRODUCTION

MODGNIK... what do we know about it? It's one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It's a completely upside-down way to understand God. It's confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don't worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!

  • Share your favorite worship song.

 


MESSAGE TITLE

Not To Us

SERMON GUIDE

This week our focus is on the N in MODGNIK which stands for Not to Us.

Even though it’s thrilling, exhilarating, and fulfilling to be in this Kingdom where we put others first, where we descend into greatness by serving others, and where we encourage generosity to flow through us like a river, it’s not all about us. The first verse in the Bible does not read, “In the beginning, you,” but it reads, “In the beginning, God.”

The topic of this weekend’s message is worship. The word “worship” means the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration.

Have someone read Psalms 115:1.

One of the reasons we worship this amazing God is because He is loving and faithful. Throughout the Bible the word Holy is used to describe Him. He is set apart, different from any of us.

Have someone read Isaiah 6:3 and Exodus 15:11.

Whenever Scripture describes people coming face to face with God, there was a healthy amount of fear. These people were acutely aware that they were moral foul ups, screwed-up sinners in the presence of a holy, perfect God. Abraham entered God’s presence and confessed being nothing but “dust and ashes.” When Habakkuk heard the voice of the Lord, he reacted with a pounding heart, quivering lips and trembling legs.

Psalm 96:9 says “Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness, tremble before him, all the earth.” When we truly see God’s holiness, we realize that we deserve death, we deserve to be punished for our sins, that we are far from holy. God in His incredible love and grace sent us a Savior to redeem us. That is why we worship Him.

Music is one method of worship and what we first think of when we hear that word. Those of us who grew up attending church may have experienced different styles of worship. Maybe you sang hymns, or perhaps you grew up in a church that did not include musical worship.

  • If you grew up going to church, share what style of worship you grew up with.

  • If you didn’t grow up attending church, share your first time experiencing worship at Eastside.

 

How we were raised can influence how we view or experience worship. If you were raised holding hymnals while singing all the verses of “Amazing Grace,” it might feel weird to raise your hands and sing loudly. You might feel everyone is looking at you (they aren’t). Some of us will raise our hands but aren’t willing go to our knees during worship.

We might think there is only one way to worship, but in the Scriptures we see many different forms of worship. If you want to know the style of worship God loves, it’s not a mystery. There is a book of the Bible, Psalms, that shows us. Psalms is the biggest book in the Bible, with 150 chapters, focusing primarily on worship. It’s like God is saying, “This is really important to me!” For many of us, what we read in the Psalms doesn’t look much like how we actually worship.

Part of the problem is in the translation. You might be reading Psalms in English and come across the word “praise.” In Hebrew, the original language of Psalms, there are seven completely different Hebrew words that have been translated into one English word “praise.”

Gene shared the seven different Hebrew words for “praise,” and how the Hebrew dictionary defines them.

The seven words and their meanings are:

  1. Halal - to rave, boast, celebrate, to be clamorously foolish

  2. Yadah - worship with extended hand

  3. Barak - bless by kneeling or bowing

  4. Zamar - to pluck the strings of an instrument with joyful expression

  5. Shabach - praise Me with shouts, and address Me in loud tones

  6. Towdah – to lift hands in adoration

  7. Tehillah - exuberant singing

Have someone read Psalms 150:3-5.

  • Read over the seven words for “praise,” and select which best describes how you love to worship. Which is the praise word or type of worship you are most uncomfortable with?

  • Share a time you remember feeling especially close to God while worshipping. How did that change or impact you?

Philippians 2 in the New Testament of the Bible talks about how Jesus descended into greatness to serve others, and how He humbled Himself by dying on a cross for us so we could have grace, freedom, hope, and purpose.

Have someone read Philippians 2:9-11.

There is no other name that has more power than the name of Jesus, and someday that’s going to be clear to everyone. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

His name is lifted up in all 66 books of the Bible. Genesis starts with He is our creator and promised Redeemer. Revelation says He’s the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world.

  • Have each person look up a verse representing an attribute of God and share it with the group.

Darlene Zschech, worship leader and author of many songs, including “Shout to the Lord,” said, “Worship is not an event. It is not a Sunday morning ritual. A worshipful life is ‘a Christ-centered, Romans 12, everything-I-do poured-out-as-a-spiritual-act-of-worship’ life.” Which means in your walking, talking, living…You are constantly aware that Jesus is the center of all things for you.”

As followers of Jesus, we are called to a lifestyle of worship. We don’t need a worship band to worship God; we can worship Him alone, at home, even in our car. A worship-filled life takes the focus off of us and directs it toward God. It requires making choices that make worship a priority in our lives.

  • What are you choosing to focus your time and energy on?

  • Discuss this question: If truly worshiping God is my priority, how can I change my daily schedule to reflect that?


APPLICATION

Trying new ways of worship might seem awkward at first.

  • Consider trying to worship God in a new way. Maybe it is lifting your hands up as you worship during a church service or kneeling in worship at home. Try exuberant singing to your favorite worship song while driving (don’t raise your hands though!)

  • Create a playlist on Spotify or iTunes of your favorite worship songs that you can use at home or while driving.

PRAYER

Pair off and

  • Share one thing you are hesitant about in terms of worship. Pray for each to overcome your fears and to experience God in worship with a full and open heart.

 


For Your Reference

List of His name lifted up in all 66 books of the Bible.

Old Testament

Genesis – He is our CREATOR AND PROMISED REDEEMER

Exodus – He is the PASSOVER LAMB

Leviticus – He is our HIGH PRIEST

Numbers – He is our EVER-PRESENT GUIDE, with a CLOUD to guide us by day and a PILLAR OF FIRE by night

Deuteronomy – He is our COMING PROPHET that is greater than Moses

Joshua – He is the CAPTAIN OF OUR SALVATION

Judges – He is our JUDGE AND LAWGIVER

Ruth – our KINSMAN-REDEEMER

1 and 2 Samuel – He is our SHEPHERD-KING, who rushes out to face our giants all alone.

1 and 2 Kings - He is the RIGHTEOUS LEADER

1 and 2 Chronicles – the RESTORER OF THE KINGDOM.

Ezra – the FAITHFUL SCRIBE

Nehemiah – the One who RESTORES WHAT IS BROKEN

Esther – PROTECTOPR of His people

Job – our REDEEMER AND HEALER

Psalms – our SHEPHERD who hears our cries

Proverbs – our DAILY WISDOM

Ecclesiastes – our MEANING FOR LIFE

Song of Solomon – AUTHOR OF FAITHFUL LOVE

Isaiah – SUFFERING SERVANT AND PRINCE OF PEACE

Jeremiah – our RIGHTEOUS ONE

Lamentations – our WEEPING PROPHET

Ezekiel – the SON OF MAN

Daniel – the STRANGER IN THE FIRE with us

Hosea – FAITHFUL HUSBAND even when we run away

Joel – The RESTORER of all that the locusts had eaten

Amos – our BURDEN BEARER

Obadiah – He is MIGHTY TO SAVE

Jonah – our GREATEST MISSIONARY

Micah – He is the FAITHFUL MESSENGER

Nahum – Our STRENGTH AND SHIELD

Habakkuk – our REASON TO REJOICE, even when our fields are empty

Zephaniah – He is our WARRIOR who saves

Haggai – the CLEANSING FOUNTAIN

 Zechariah – He is the FOUNTAIN FLOWING, taking away sin

Malachi – the SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS who brings healing…

 

New Testament

Matthew – the KING OF THE JEWS

Mark – the SON OF GOD

Luke – the SAVIOR BORN IN THE CITY OF DAVID

John – the WORD BECOME FLESH dwelling among us

Acts – the SPIRIT who dwells in His people

Romans – the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD

1 Corinthians – the POWER AND LOVE OF GOD

2 Corinthians – He is the DOWN PAYMENT of what’s to come

Galatians – He our LIBERTY that sets us free

Ephesians – our RIGHTEOUS ARMOR

Philippians – the JOY OF OUR LIVE

Colossians – the FIRSTBORN OF ALL CREATION

1 Thessalonians – our COMFORT IN THE LAST DAYS

2 Thessalonians – our RETURNING KING

1 Timothy – SAVIOR of the worst sinners

2 Timothy – LEADER of the leaders

Titus – our FAITHFUL PASTOR

Philemon – our REDEEMER, restoring us to service

Hebrews – our GREAT HIGH PRIEST

James – He is the POWER behind your faith

1 and 2 Peter – our LIVING CORNERSTONE

1, 2, and 3 John – He is our ADVOCATE pleading for us

Jude – the FOUNDATION OF OUR FAITH

Revelation – He’s THE FIRST AND THE LAST, THE BEGINNING AND THE END, THE LAMB slain to pay for the sins of the world.

Modgnik Week 3: D-escending Into Greatness / G-enerosity Flows

Modgnik Week 3: D-escending Into Greatness / G-enerosity Flows

SERIES INTRODUCTION

MODGNIK... what do we know about it? It's one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It's a completely upside-down way to understand God. It's confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don't worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!

  • Share a memory, you would consider one of your happiest times.

 


MESSAGE TITLE

D-escending Into Greatness/G-enerosity Flows

SERMON GUIDE

In the backward Kingdom of God, life is radically different. Instead of trying to build our little empire on earth, Jesus tell us the more that people are looking for is found in less. In His kingdom, the way to become full is to empty ourselves. 

Jesus was explaining the pathway to living a great life. A life where we descend into greatness by giving ourselves away and where generosity flows through us.

There are all kinds of unique, colorful, and different people in the world with an unbelievable variety of interests. But there is one kind of interest that unites the entire human family, one thing we all share in common. It is self-interest.

How many of us have fallen for the myth that tells us the more I have, the happier I am?

But what happens is, the more a person has, the more a person wants.

  • Share about one area that you think if you had more, you would be happier. This could be money, tangible things, time, people in your life. What would you consider to be enough?

Have someone read Mark 8:31-35.

Jesus knew that self-interest runs so deep that a few casual reminders will never make a dent. There is a series of three passages that continue to address this issue. In the first passage Peter rebuked Jesus for what he had to say. It is hard for us to imagine rebuking God; however, we have probably done this to someone in our life. We didn’t agree with what they had to say and took them aside to object, but the real reason for our objection was that their idea didn’t serve our self-interest.

Jesus was saying, “Peter, your whole world revolves around you. You’re only worried about you. You’ve missed my entire mission to redeem and save the world.”

And when Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan!” I think He wanted Peter to understand that self-interest is not just merely a psychological maladjustment.

Now you would think that the disciples would just jump on this and change their selfish ways, wouldn’t you? But me-first mindsets don’t change easily or overnight. So, Jesus needed to keep going after them with the same message.

Have someone read Mark 9:31-37.

When Jesus found out that on their travels to the next city, His disciples had been fighting over who would be first, He called them over. Sitting down, Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be first (and you guys seem very worried about being first a lot) must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Have someone read Mark 10:35-37.

The disciples couldn’t really comprehend what Jesus was saying. They still were thinking that Jesus was about to overthrow Rome and set up a political kingdom and assert Himself as King of the Jews. They thought they were headed to Jerusalem for the inaugural ball. They were encouraging Jesus to go and make Israel great again. Then they were bickering who was going be sitting at Jesus’ right or left? We chuckle at them now, but we also struggle to comprehend what heaven will be like. We wrestle with the same things.

  • Why is it a struggle for us to be generous? What is the area of biggest struggle — hospitality, food, time or money?

Studies show that in our country, as people make more money, they tend to give less away, proportionally speaking. The more they have, the tighter they hold on to it. In Jesus’ upside-down kingdom, we learn that generosity is His will for us, that giving is the mindset and lifestyle of choice.

Have someone read Luke 6:38.

Jesus was explaining that God is generous, encourages us to do likewise, and that generous people will benefit. “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.”

God has done so much. How much more could He do if we all really believe that the more we give, the more we’ll have to give? What if we really believed we are happier giving than receiving?

  • Share mind sets that hold you back from genuinely believing this principle of give and more will be given to you.

  • Share a time when giving to someone else brought you joy.

The Bible says when you honor God with the first percentage of your income, you invite Him into your financial life and your financial affairs. Gene shared how he and Barbara learned an important principle: generosity doesn’t happen until we make it a priority.

  • Each year we offer the 90-day challenge of giving and seeing if God doesn’t meet you, showing up in often unexpected ways. If you have taken this challenge and have a story of how God blessed you, share with your group.

  • If you have not taken this type of challenge, share about where in your financial life you need God to show up.

Now when Jesus explained that people are more blessed to give than to receive, He wasn’t just talking about financial resources, he was also talking about our time, talents, and service.

Noted psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman wrote a book entitled Authentic Happiness, and in his book, he comes down to this conclusion. He says that most all of us think that we would be happy if we could have more of something. Seligman found that when people are involved in acts of service for others, they become less self-absorbed, less depressed. They become more tuned in to others, more capable of empathy. They have a greater sense of community and a decreased sense of loneliness.

  • Share how the Holy Spirit wants to apply this in your life. Share if you feel He is leading you in a certain area or action.


APPLICATION

The space between not enough and too much can never be bridged. Seligman challenged his students. He said, “I want you all to go out and do one act that you know will make you happy. Then I want you to go out and do one act of compassion, one purely altruistic piece of behavior. Then write down your reflections to both of these things.”

  • Consider trying this experiment in your own group or with your family. Write down reflections and bring to share next week.

  • Honor someone this week with a text, a post on their Facebook wall, a handwritten letter, an email or a phone call. Next week share what you did with your group.

PRAYER

Pair off and:

  • Pray for the courage to believe that the more generous we are, we will have more.

  • Share a personal request you could pray for each other this week. Spend time praying for each other before closing.

 

Modgnik Week 2: Others First

Modgnik Week 2: Others First

SERIES INTRODUCTION

MODGNIK... what do we know about it? It's one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It's a completely upside-down way to understand God. It's confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don't worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!

  • Share the coolest thing someone ever did for you.

 


MESSAGE TITLE

Others First

SERMON GUIDE

Jesus’ Kingdom is not like an earthly kingdom; it’s a backwards, upside down MODGNIK KINGDOM that looks completely different than we would expect.

Our idea of kingdom is shaped by what we see on TV and read in history books, and some of us are disappointed with Jesus because we are confused about what it means to follow Jesus and be part of the Kingdom of God.

Some of us have confused it with the American dream.  We think the end result of following Jesus is a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house, two cars, 2.4 kids, and a dog, all behind a white picket fence in a good school district.

Others of us have confused it with going to church, saying a prayer at Thanksgiving, growing up in a Christian home, being a spiritual person, doing good things, or being a “good person.”

Still others may be confused about all the brands of Christianity: Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, non-denominational, Episcopalian, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, and just plain unorthodox.

And a lot of people would say, “I don’t want to be a Christian at all because they’re a bunch of backwards, stuck-in-the mud moralists who seem to exist only to judge others and suck the fun out of life.”

But none of those things is really what Jesus invited us to.  Jesus invited us to follow Him and become a part of His upside down, inside out, backwards kingdom where we pray, “Oh God may up there, come down here.” The kingdom of Jesus not only makes life better, it makes us better at life.

  • When you think about following Jesus, what does it mean for your practical day in and day out life?  This isn’t a question about whether you read your Bible regularly (although that’s important), it’s a question about the impact that following Jesus has on your normal, “non-spiritual” activities.

Have someone read Matthew 7:9-12.

Our world and culture are divided culturally, politically, racially, socially, religiously. But there is a single universal ethic espoused by Jesus that all of us can agree on: Do to others what you would have them do to you. The problem, of course, is that we’re not doing a very good job living this out.

In the New Testament of the Bible, there’s a 2-word phrase that keeps coming up over and over again, “One another.” It’s used 59 times.  When we see the same phrase repeated throughout the Bible that is a clue to us that this is important to Jesus.

  • Honestly evaluate your day. How well have you kept the golden rule today?

Have someone read Acts 4:32-37.

“Encourage others” is one of the three “one another’s” we looked at this weekend. To encourage others is to put courage in them. You give them hope, confidence, and spirit by your words and actions. After Jesus died and rose again, believers left behind their jobs and lives to come together. This was exciting, but there was a need for resources.

One of these believers, Joseph, was nicknamed Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement.” He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles. This incredible gift helped them do more in less time.

Barnabas was also the one to meet with Saul—persecuter of Christians who later spread the good news of Jesus all around the known world—when others were fearful of him. Barnabas helped give hope and life to the man who ended up having a huge impact for the kingdom of God.

Have someone read Hebrews 3:13 and Hebrews 10:23-25.

  • Who is someone you need to be intentional about encouraging this week?

Have someone read John 13:3-17.

Jesus is in the Upper Room the night before he would be arrested and washed the feet of his disciples. He was saying “serve others,” the second “one another” we looked at this weekend. When we walk through life like this, looking for a way to serve others, it changes our perspective.

Serving others is part of God’s upside-down kingdom and will bring joy like you never knew before.  Perspectives are changed when we sincerely give back and put others first. When we think, “How can I serve others?” we stop walking into situations thinking “What can you do for me?” This shift is life-changing and allows us to be part of the bigger story of what God is doing in the world.

  • Have you ever prayed, “Lord, how can I serve you today?” and had a situation present itself? If so, share with the group what happened and how it impacted you.

Have someone read Romans 12:10.

Honor is not something we talk about much anymore. It means giving others high regard and praise. Honor is showing respect to them.

Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood) was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the 1997 Daytime Emmy Awards. During his acceptance speech, Fred gave the audience 10 seconds of silence and encouraged them to use the time to think about someone who had impacted their life.  Then he honored the people who had impacted his life.

  • Take 10 seconds now and think about someone who helped you become the person you are today. Go around the circle and have each group member honor that person by sharing about him or her with the group.


APPLICATION

  • Honor someone this week with a text, a post on their Facebook wall, a handwritten letter, an email or a phone call. Next week share what you did with your group.

PRAYER

Pair off and:

  • Pray that God would bring people to mind that you can serve, honor or encourage.

  • Thank God for the people He has put in your life that have encouraged you and helped you to become the person you are today.