Questions about the Forward: Brandon Hatmaker, Jen’s husband, writes the Forward. He makes a statement that many of us view change as a threat. Is it a threat, or is it a fact? In the changes that come your way, how do you respond?
- How do YOU view change? I view change NOW as an avenue for God to transform me. I have not always felt that way. My life has been full of change: moving a lot as a child, dealing with health issues, losing my sister to suicide…nothing BUT change in this crazy life of mine! And I feared it. I feared what lurked around the corner. What more pain did the future hold??? The unknowns pulled me down. However, now I know that change is a constant. But my God is more constant than that! So I learn to walk by faith!
- Describe a life-changing event AND how God has used it to grow and/or change you through it. I mentioned the death of my sister in the paragraph above. That is probably the BIGGEST change I have experienced thus far apart from motherhood. Motherhood is a whole set of changes I can’t even begin to describe! But grief…that is change mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually…And God has been there every step of the journey. Even when I pushed Him away or when I claimed He wasn’t there. Honestly, I would not be who I am today without the past I have had. It has taken a LOT of faith to get to the point where I can say that I would not go back in time to fix this…because then I would still be utterly broken.
- From page XIII: “…’but to fully appreciate what the missional church is, we must look outside of our traditional understanding of how we do church and realign ourselves with the biblical narrative.'” What does this statement mean to you? We have lost sight of what God has called us to within HIS church! Especially here in America, we have lost the true focus of the Body of Christ. What does Scripture say about CHURCH? What does God call us to? Whatever it is, it is bigger than we can comprehend, yet so much simpler than we make it out to be. He calls us to MAKE DISCIPLES! That’s it. Live missionally by BEING the hands and feet of Christ, by being open to the prompting of the Spirit…We over-complicate everything. Live INTENTIONALLY!
- Is there anything God has placed on your heart? If so, what is it? What road blocks are in the way to you being obedient to that call? God has placed on my heart a desire to LOVE and uplift, specifically those who are hurting. From the pain of my past and struggle with self-worth, my heart breaks for those who are lost in the enemy’s lies. For those who struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts…For those who struggle with successes and failures…For those whose mind traps them and locks away their potential. Time seems to be one of my biggest limiting factors. I can’t do it all! I love tutoring, and my schedule is filling up fast! I love serving with the Children’s Ministry at church. But I am only one person. These are ministries that take THE WHOLE BODY of Christ!
Questions about the Introduction to the Updated Edition: This book is “the story of [Jen’s] heart.” She writes and rewrites this book because of the journey she and her husband took through life. So…
- What is the story of YOUR heart? There are many facets to my story: surviving suicide, surviving bullies, surviving depression…moving to a new place with the future completely unknown! But the true story is the faith that has grown because of each of these experiences.
- Page XVIII: “Whatever used to be soft and squishy about faith gave way to a stunning urgency and painful acknowledgement of the mission at hand.”
- What does this quote speak to you? God does not call us to a clean, neat, safe life in solitude. When we follow His Call, the enemy makes it messy. It is a roller coaster ride with wild twists and turns! Hang on tight! Truly, Christianity in the USA is too easy. It is about to get MUCH harder. Let us look to the examples of faith we have in scripture and in our brothers and sisters overseas. Many believers face death daily because of their faith. May my faith be as strong when I face persecution…
- Describe a situation you may have encountered that removed the “soft and squishy” faith in your own life. All the squishiness of life left after my sister passed away.
- What scripture verses encourage you to press on in faith? oh so many! 2 Corinthians 12:9 (which I have written about here on my blog before), Psalm 40, Romans 8 (ALL of it!), Colossians 3…Just to name a few…
- What truths have you discovered on your faith journey? God is SOVEREIGN, IN ALL THINGS. Yes, even in the absolute most horrible situation, God is STILL GOOD and is STILL on His throne, and HE STILL WINS! Pain is ugly, but it brings about the TRUE BEAUTY God had planned all along. His works are amazing, and WE are HIS WORKS!
- In your journey, what has the Spirit revealed to you about your own humanity? I am not immune. Being a follower of Christ does not make life easy. In fact, it can make life seem impossible! I am weak. Any strength that has brought me this far is from God alone.
- What conflict (flesh vs. spirit) do you bring to the table in this journey? How do you deal with this conflict? One of my biggest conflicts in my late teens/early 20’s was this: Why does God let such bad things happen to good people? Why doesn’t He save? Why doesn’t He heal? I have wanted to be healed from my Type 1 Diabetes for as long as I can remember. And yet, He does not heal me. This conflict has led to deep spiritual truths! Read more of my blog to view some of those lessons…
Questions about Brandon’s Take:
- What judgments and prejudices have you overcome or do you need to overcome? My judgments/prejudices: comparisons…justifying my sin by comparing it to someone else’s is something I started doing very early on. “I am better than….because I….” Nope. All of us have fallen short of the glory of God! Not one of us is righteous apart from Jesus Christ!
- Look up Matthew 9:13. What does this verse mean? I encourage you to read it in context of the whole chapter as well! This verse always makes me think of the teaching that the church is for the sick, not the healthy. Like a hospital. Are we only going to let those who are healthy come in? The sick are the ones who need the doctors (and nurses and other staff in a medical building…)! May we live by grace and mercy, not by deeds…
- A personal observation for myself after reading this far: The work is never done! This side of heaven, we are always a work in progress. Never give up, and always lean on God.
Questions about the Introduction: Jen reflects on how our perspectives affect how we view people, the past, the messages coming at us. Are you looking through God’s eyes? Hmmm…
- What message does God speak to you repeatedly? “I am your provider. All you have is a gift from me.” “Despite your brokenness and your past, I have called you. Go. Live the Word.”
- What faith questions have you encountered? Through the painful grief journey, I questioned the very existence of God! Man, did HE set me straight!
Questions about the Vision of the Austin New Church:
- What jumps out at you about the vision of this church?
- What is the Vision at the church you attend? If you do not attend a church, what would the vision of your ideal place of worship be?
- For Grace Community, my understanding of the vision is this: Grace Community exists to help people become fully devoted followers of Jesus. Here is the expanded edition of that: Grace Community Church
As for the vision component, I want to direct you to Acts 2: 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. This is my vision…doing LIFE together! Nothing more, nothing less. Let us live together as followers of Christ, meeting each other’s needs and feasting on God’s Spiritual Bread of Life.