Interrupted: Phase 2, Part 2 reflection questions

Phase 2, Part 2:

“Becoming a Lowlife”

  1. Page 71:  “Jesus’ harshest words are aimed at hypocrites, and the second harshest at the people who are primarily concerned with possessions.  He says that power, prestige,  and possessions are the three things that prevent us from recognizing and receiving the reign of God…The only ones who can accept the proclamation of the reign are those who have nothing to protect, not their own self-image or their reputation, their possessions, their theology, their principles, or their certitudes.  And these are called ‘the poor’…”  What is your interpretation of these words?
  2. Page 72: “The pursuit of ascension is crippling and has stunted my faith more than any other evil I’ve battled.”  What hinders your faith?  How do you combat that?
  3. Jen asks a series of questions on page 72, about interactions with others, relationships, and confessing her addiction to the ascent process. Have you asked similar questions before? Describe how her words impact your thoughts about ascent vs. descent.
  4. Page 73: “Getting to the top requires someone else to be on the bottom; being right means someone else must be wrong.  It is the nature of the beast.”  In your striving, has this thought crossed your mind?  How do you feel about this?

“Get Off Your High Horse” –Jesus

  1. Jen describes her struggle, her emotions, in dealing with ascent vs. descent on pages 75-76.  Can you relate to her descriptions?  How so?
  2. “Every new conviction was like a dagger.” This sentence brought to mind the Sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6:10-20.  How has the Word of God pierced you in your journey?  Have you felt and/or heard God speak to you through His Word?  How have those interactions impacted your faith walk?
  3. Page 77: “If the kingdom of God belongs to the poor, the bottom dwellers, then rich American Christians are going to have the hardest time finding it.”  On page 78, she writes, “…but we have to conquer the diseases of greed and ego, which are notoriously harder to cure.”  Here, she also references Matthew 19:24 “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”   Have you viewed yourself as rich before?  When reading scripture about the rich, have you related to the rich man?  This has been very eye-opening for me as well.

“Great”

  1. Page 81: “’I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.’ (John 15:19, NKJV)  Get used to it.”  How have you experienced this hatred?
  2. Page 82: “Jesus redefined the nature of greatness…”  How does Christ define greatness?
  3. In closing, how are we living a different life? (refer to page 83)
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Phase 2: Part 1 Interrupted

Phase 2:  The Horror of Actually Changing

We see a church that inspires people to learn and live the example of Christ.  We believe that true inspiration will come when people see an honest image of Jesus’ life and teaching.

Value:  The greatest command is to love God and love others.

Key Verse:  Luke 22:14-27

  1. Have you snapped over something as trivial as a banana before?  Why or why not?  What was the outcome?
  2. Now, have you been that angry with God before? How did you come to peace with God after that?
  3. Jen writes, “I was convinced of the need to change my mind, but what came next was actually changing my mind, and I don’t envy God that task.” (page 48)  How do you move from KNOWING something to actually DOING it???
  4. From page 50, can you relate to Jen’s thoughts on “old” vs. “new?” How are we different from non-believers?  What changes do we need to make to be set apart?
  5. “Truly, Jesus never fit in…” Are we following in our Savior’s footsteps? (page 51)
  6. “Jesus was transforming the untransformable.” (page 54) What seems untransformable in your life?  Do you have faith that Jesus can transform even this?
  7. “Jesus desired with desire to offer His body, His blood, this bread, this cup.” Reflect on these words.  How does this affect and/or impact you?
  8. Page 56: What is the biggest difference for your mindset of “do once” and “do continuously?”
  9. On page 57, Jen writes, “Become broken and poured out for hopeless people. Become a living offering, denying yourself for the salvation and restoration of humanity…Mercy has a cost:  someone must be broken for someone else to be fed…”   As sung by Audio Adrenaline, will we truly be the hands and feet of Christ?
  1. In some of the darkest moments in my life, I can look back and see the safety net that God put in place to save me.  I was not protected from the pain, but I was protected from death itself.  That safety net included MANY people.  Some of them are still in my life today, and some have moved on.  Even so, without them, without the love and mercy of our God, I would not be here today.  Who in your life was broken so that you might live?  Have you been broken so others might see Christ through you? (reflect on page 58)
  2. Who did Jesus die for? Describe Jen’s struggle through the answer to this question.
  3. What is the difference between empowering and enabling? Why does this matter?
  4. “Our holy Savior advised us well: humans must treat the wheat and weeds the same.  We are only qualified to administer mercy, not judgment, because we will pull up many a beautiful stalk of wheat, imagining him a weed.”  (page 63-64)  Why do you think it would be so easy to confuse weeds and wheat?  Reflecting on these words, what is God speaking to you right now?
  5. Brandon’s take: “I opened my mind to consider not what I was doing but why I was doing it.”  What is the difference?
  6. Walk yourself through Brandon’s encounter that day at the car dealership: If you were in his shoes, what would you have done, felt, experienced?  What runs through your mind even now as you think about this?

Don’t forget to read the second half!  We’ll discuss that next week.

Phase 1, Part 2: Questions

Phase 1:  Part 2 Questions

  1. On page 24, Jen Hatmaker quotes, “’The majority of the extreme poor are caught in a poverty trap, unable to escape from deprivation because of disease, physical isolation, climate stress, environmental degradation, and poverty itself…’”  As you read through this and all the statistics that follow on pages 24-28, what emotions are you processing?  (Side note:  anyone else grab a calculator and start calculating the numbers per month and per year???  Astounding!!!)
  2. On page 28, do you agree with Jen’s word picture? “Brand America is in trouble.  I ask you humbly:  can you see why when Americans say democracy, the world hears greed?  What seems like basic freedoms to us sounds like vast consumption to everyone else.  The tongue-in-cheek ‘First World Problems’ we joke about while lamenting, “I just used my last Pandora skip for the hour, and the next song is even worse!’ is part and parcel of the image we are outsourcing to a suffering planet.  We appear indulged and entitled and oblivious to global crises and our contribution to the disparity.”  Why or why not?
  3. What is your definition of “prosperity?”  What are your thoughts on the Prosperity Gospel?  **Note:  the sermon at church this morning touched on this!  I am including the link to the series should you wish to watch (or re-watch) the message.  Message #4 of Stay Positive is the one I am referring to.  (http://www.life.church/watch/stay-positive)
  4. Jen quotes Gandhi on page 31: “’I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.’”  How do you respond to this statement?
  5. Also on page 31, Jen quotes Colin Powell: “’We cannot win the war on terrorism until we confront the social and political roots of poverty.’”  After reading that and Proverbs 29:4, what runs through your mind?
  6. Pages 34-35, Jen writes about what America IS doing. Philanthropy is still strong, and there have been more than $200 BILLION in donations in 2011 alone.  That still pales in comparison to what other countries are doing.  The percentage of the Gross National Income that goes to philanthropic opportunities is 0.2%.  That is LESS THAN HALF OF A PERCENT!  Sweden gives 0.7%.  Still less than 1%, but that is a HUGE difference despite the small percentage amounts.  Jen goes deeper though:  “Let’s set aside what America is or is not giving and answer for ourselves:  what are you doing?  What am I doing?’”  So, WHAT ARE WE DOING????
  7. Jen quotes Robert F. Kennedy on pages 36-37: Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one [woman] can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills—against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence…Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation….It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.  Each time a [woman] stands  up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, [she] sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.’”  What ripples are you sending?  What ripples have you experienced and seen?  What are the walls of oppression and resistance that still stand in this country?  In this continent?  In this world?
  8. After reading “Brandon’s Take,” I realized there are so many facets to his response! Take time to list out the various components of his take.
  9. Of the facets you listed which one(s) impacted you the most? Why?

Phase 1, Part 1: My responses

Interrupted:

Phase 1, Part 1:  Pages 1-21

(Part 2 will be pages 23-41)

Value:  Growing in an understanding of God’s Word; Scripture:  John 21:15-23

  1. What passage of scripture has ever grabbed you with fresh eyes, like John 21:15-23 did for Jen Hatmaker?  How has this impacted you, spiritually or not? (See pages 13-18)

Honestly, passages such as Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 where it talks about wives submitting to their husbands.  It took me a long time to realize that there is a second part to each of those passages:  Men, love your wife as Christ loves the Church.  Yes, I can submit to a man who is willing to lay his life down for me!  And I am so blessed that the Lord taught me that before I met my husband.  Another passage is Psalm 51.  In reading that passage with fresh eyes, I saw King David’s depression.  Throughout scripture, God’s people suffer with depression.  It is not a new illness, nor is it an isolated illness.  Our fight is not alone in mental health.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 hits me hard every time because I literally do have a thorn in my flesh.  My Type 1 Diabetes is regulated with an insulin pump, and is a Teflon needle in my flesh.  So when I struggled with why did God not heal me from this disease, I cling to these verses.  “My grace is sufficient for you,” God speaks to Paul (and to me).  When I am weak GOD is STRONG.  He alone is my strength, and He alone keeps me going.

The very first time this happened to me though was in reading Matt 6:25-34.  This passage became alive for me when I literally LIVED it.  At the age of 10, this is the passage that opened my eyes to the fact that our God is REAL and His Word is TRUTH.  He taught me these verses, then put people in our lives who made these verses come alive through provision.  God is good, and my testimony speaks to that on so many levels.

  1. How do you relate to what Jen wrote about church on Sunday mornings (pages 5-6)?

Too often, we focus on the inconsequential things like emotions, intensity, music, etc.  We come to be fed, instead of coming to honor God.  Worship is about GOD, NOT about us!  We come to learn about our relationship with Him, to glorify Him, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  We are called to be set apart, and to live our faith DAILY!  Our faith is not just a Sunday Morning thing to do.  It is a way of life.  That being said, fellowship should take place throughout the week. A church family is about doing life together, not about the sermon.

  1. Jen describes “the tension that lurked at the edges.” Is there anything lurking for you?  Have you identified what lurks?  Describe the sensation of knowing something is lurking.  List out what God lays on your heart so that we can identify what works for each of us.

I love what one of our ladies spoke!  “What are you doing, God???”  Truth!  God is DOING all the time!  How are we responding to what He is doing?  Change is constant in our lives, so get ready for an amazing, terrible, incredible, and thrilling ride!

  1. Jen wrote about what consumed her family and her: worthless things.  What consumes you?  Where is your focus?  (Is is on something in the past, present, or future, and why?)

Honestly?  Candy Crush and Netflix.  I need to set timers for myself, just like we do for some of our students at work…  Where do I want my focus to be?  On God, and on my family.  Help me, God!  Please, teach me, show me, remind me to put You first…Yes, I am risking A LOT of change by praying that prayer!  Hold on, it might be a bumpy ride!

  1. On page 7, Jen writes, “There were other question marks. Like why wouldn’t people commit to our church programs, despite the endless work poured into them?  And why did the same people end up doing all the work?  Why did 70% of the initial program enthusiasts drop out by the end?  Why did so many leave, claiming they needed more, when we were all working eighty hours a week to meet their needs?  Why couldn’t I recall the last person I led to Christ?  Why did I spend half my time blessing blessed people who should be on the giving side of my equation by now?”  Have you ever asked similar questions, or been on the other side of these questions?  If so, what answers have you found, if any?

Oh so many times I find myself doing the work of 10+…and liking it!  However, I am realizing that by me doing too much, that is preventing someone else from stepping up, and taking my focus away from my family.  So, again, I pray a risky prayer:  God, teach me to say no.  Teach me to let go.  Teach me to walk by faith and know that YOU will provide, YOU will do what I cannot.  Help me to be obedient to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  1. Jen quotes “Rain Down” lyrics. Read the lyrics and share your thoughts.  I am also including a link to the song here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bUHnNmfOcQ

Looks like tonight the sky is heavy
Feels like the winds are gonna change
Beneath my feet the earth is ready
I know it’s time for Heaven’s rain, it’s gonna rain

‘Cause it’s living water we desire
To flood our hearts with holy fire

Rain down, all around the world we’re singing
Rain down, can you hear the earth is singing?
Rain down, my heart is dry but still I’m singing
Rain down, rain it down on me

Back to the start, my heart is heavy
Feels like it’s time to dream again
I see the clouds and, yes, I’m ready
To dance upon this barren land, hope in my hands

Do not shut, do not shut, do not shut the Heavens
But open up, open up, open up our hearts

Give me strength to cross this water
Keep my heart upon Your altar
Give me strength to cross this water
Keep my feet, don’t let me falter

Songwriters
ELLIOTT, CHAD JAMES / WEST, ALVIN GERMAINE / COFIELD, CHARMELLE RICHA / WATTS, DOUG

How can I be so involved in church and yet so DRY?  Parched?  Sick?  Alone?  Those are questions I asked in the past, and many times it is in those moments I cave to temptation.  And yet, God saved me.  Psalm 40 speaks that reality for me:  “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”  My desire is to be as the tree in Psalm 1, planted by God’s streams.  His Living Water is what will quench the thirst, the dryness…

  1. Shane Claiborne is quoted on page 10: “’I developed a spiritual form of [bulimia] where I [did Christian things]…But it never had a chance to digest…I…was suffocated by Christianity but thirsty for God.’”  Do you take time to digest?  If so, how?  Share your secrets to spiritual growth and nourishment!

The song Rain Down and my response to it speaks volumes to my answer to this question.  We don’t rest in His presence.  We’re always on the go!  So, I need “down time” and I need to set apart time to spend in His Word, in Bible Study, in Prayer, in contemplation.  Purposeful time, before my children wake up and/or after they go to bed at night…

  1. “…I prayed a one-line prayer simply because…I had no idea what else to do: ‘God, raise up in me a holy passion.’ That was it…Let me tell you what I intended by that prayer:  I meant, ‘God, give me happy feelings.’”  Have you prayed something similar?  Do you pray what you mean?

Yep.  And God always does what He says He’s going to do.  Do I always pray what I mean?  I try to, and still words will fail me.  It is hard to convey spiritual desires with simple human words!  Y’all know what I mean too!  So sometimes I don’t even understand what I am praying when I speak the words.  But God does.  His Spirit does.  And I walk by faith.

  1. God asks Jen, “’Jen, do you truly love Me more than anything?’” Do WE???? Or have we idolized religion?

So do I love God more than Candy Crush and NCIS????  I pray so!  So pray for me, that I will continue to set aside time for me to be in the presence of my Abba….and that I will clear plenty of space from my phone by deleted unnecessary apps!  Help hold me accountable!

  1. Jen has quite the reaction to the questions God is asking her! Page 15-16 gives us a glimpse into her response.  What is your reaction to the words on the page?

(This is my response to #10 and 11) I love the way Jen writes:  from one extreme to the other, her emotions swing like the pendulum on a grandfather clock!  Oh yes, I have been there!  Our humanity definitely causes us to overreact to just about everything.  I love what transpires after the swing though.  I love that she turned to the Word and found an abundance of verses supporting what God was speaking to her.  May I strive to do the same, turning to God’s Word when I am struggling to comprehend what God is doing in my life.

  1. Jen continues on page 17, “A few minutes and several thousand tons of overreaction later…” Can you relate to the progression of Jen’s thoughts? Why or why not?

See #10…

  1. “Basically, I was brainstorming how to improve my current performance, never imagining a whole new stage…” Are we truly open to what God wants us to do?  Is He asking for revamping, or for something new?  Each situation is different!

I say revamping or something new because sometimes, we ARE doing good things in the right way, and God is asking for some tweaking or some collaboration instead.  However, there are times He sends a need for a complete overhaul.  How do you seek discernment over these situations?  Do you seek wise counsel and turn to His Word?  That is my goal.  Sometimes I achieve it, and sometimes I don’t. 

  1. After reading page 18, I had an internal, “WHOA!”  What is your take?  Has God laid a burden on your heart?

“’My people are crumbling and dying and starving, and you’re blessing blessed people and serving the saved.’” That was my Whoa moment.  Who am I serving?  What is my purpose?  My God calls me to serve the lost and the sick, not those who are well.  Am I?  I think in some ways, I am.  In other ways, I am not.  Yes, the saved still need to be fed.  But many are capable of finding spiritual food and nourishment.  Am I helping the lost find the ultimate Food???  The Living Water?  The salvation for their souls?  I pray so.  Lord, let it be!

  1. Page 19: “In humble confession, I’ve discovered there are more than two thousand verses involving poverty, physical oppression and justice, and the redistribution of resources.  Where had I been my entire adult life?  What Bible was I reading?”  One example of such verses is James 2:5-6, 8, 14-16.  What is your response to God’s Word here?

I love Acts 2, where the first Church comes to life.  In fact, the early Christians did life together!  I want to be more like that.  I am loving www.freecycle.org and other similar websites where items are free or low-cost, and people can post needs as well as what they have to share.  I have given much, and I have received much!  What a blessing to participate in these opportunities!

  1. Page 20: “For all my…love of God’s Word, what I really loved were the parts that worked for me…For my blessings.”  How does this declaration resonate with you?

Sadly, I think this is our human nature.  We are selfish at heart.  Too often, we pick and choose which parts of God’s Word we want to follow (I have done this often in the past), and this is how we fall into sin.  We are not girded in the Truth!  It is HARD to take in and live ALL of God’s Word.  It is impossible for us as humans.  However, with the Spirit of God in our hearts and souls, NOTHING is impossible for our God.