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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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
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…
- 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…
- “…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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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?
- “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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.