Rule of Life

Rule of Life

This past Sunday, we continued in our Postures of Discipleship series where we’ve been talking about the postures that we want to take as a community at Reunion to help people Discover Jesus, Become like Jesus, and Do what Jesus did.

The posture we highlighted this past Sunday was that we want to be a community that is formed by practice.  If our desire is to be disciples, then our practices should help us transform into the person God created us to be.

We introduced this idea of creating a personal rule of life to give us a purposeful plan where we can center our lives around God.  The word “rule” comes from the greek word for “trellis.”  And for those gardeners, we know that a trellis is a tool that enables a grapevine to get off the ground to become more fruitful and productive.  In a similar way, a rule of life is like a trellis to help us abide in Christ (John 15).

We invited our community to create their own rule of life.  This invitation is focused on intentionality to help us create rhythms and balance for our lives.   By creating spaces for us to rest, reflect, pray, fast, and cultivating our walk with Christ, we are able to be more aware of our limits with everything else in our lives.

We hope you join us in creating your own Rule of Life and sharing it with others.

Here is a copy of our Rule of Life handout from Sunday.

DISCUSSION GUIDE: FORMED BY PRACTICE

DISCUSSION GUIDE: FORMED BY PRACTICE

For six weeks, we’ll be exploring postures of discipleship. Postures arrange our bodies to respond to various circumstances and allow us to engage with purpose. Over time, the practice of a posture reshapes our muscles and even bones such that the posture becomes a natural part of who we are. Today we are talking about the posture of rest and how that posture can transform us.

How do we change into who we are meant to be? It’s a question that has plagued people from the dawn of time. We can be so caught up in the habits and rhythms of our daily lives that sometimes it seems impossible to ever change. It always seems like too much work, as if we need superhuman willpower to ever get out of the rut. This week, we encounter Jesus as he calls us to bear fruit, to change to be like him. As it turns out, his path to change often looks a lot different than the ones we create.

 

Icebreaker

What is a bad/funny habit that you haven’t been able to kick?

 

Scripture Reading

John 15:1-17

 

Discussion Questions

Read John 15:1-17

  1. What do you think it means for a person’s life to “bear fruit?” What would that practically look like in today’s world
  2. How do most people go about trying to “bear fruit” in their lives?
  3. The word translated in this passage as “remain” is meno, a Greek verb which can be translated as to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy), to abide, to continue, to dwell, to endure, to be present, to remain, to stand, to tarry. What do you think Jesus means by “remain in me?” What would that practically look like on a day to day basis?
  4. In this passage, Jesus is saying that people cannot bear fruit unless they “remain” in him. How is this different than how we typically go about bearing fruit in our lives?
  5. Jesus ties together the idea of God’s love with this idea of remaining and bearing fruit. What is the connection between these different things?
  6. How/why do you think Jesus’ plan for life transformation might work when where other methods fail?
  7. What would it look for you to “remain in Christ” on a day to day basis? What practices would you embody? What ways of thinking would you live into

 

Diving Deeper: RULE OF LIFE

During the message this week, we discussed how remaining in Christ means inhabiting new rhythms and habits that help us learn to keep our minds and intentions on God. We are often so caught up in moving, working, striving, that we don’t always know how to slow down, to let go, and to just be with Christ. One of the tools Christians have long used to train themselves to slow down and to just be is called a “rule of life.” Read the following definition of a rule of life and discuss the following questions.

“A Rule of Life is an intentional pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. A Rule establishes a rhythm for life in which is helpful for being formed by the Spirit, a rhythm that reflects a love for God and respect for how he has made us. The disciplines which we build into our rhythm of life help us to shed the “old self” and allow our “new self” in Christ to be formed. Spiritual disciplines are means of grace by which God can nourish us.” – C.S. Lewis Institute

  1. Connect this concept of a rule with the discussion from above. How does a rule of life help you learn to remain in Christ?
  2. How is a Christian a rule different than just pledging to “do more?” Is it different?
  3. Are their habits and/or rhythms in your life that you do not feel are life giving? Why do you think you are still caught in them?
  4. What are some elements that you believe would be life giving to you as you learn to remain in Christ?
  5. What would a rule of life look like for you? What personal/communal dimensions would it have?

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES

 

 

 

The Reunion Team

EXCITING NEWS!

EXCITING NEWS!

The cat is out of the bag! We have had a long time partnership with our sister church down in Quincy. We are excited to merge with them on Easter this year as they become REUNION – Quincy.

We are better together and this merger will allow us to share resources and have a greater impact for the Kingdom. Check out the video for more details.

Chris Hall

Lead Pastor

Discussion Guide: Shaped by God’s Story

Discussion Guide: Shaped by God’s Story

For the next six weeks, we’ll be exploring postures of discipleship. Postures arrange our bodies to respond to various circumstances and allow us to engage with purpose. Over time, the practice of a posture reshapes our muscles and even bones such that the posture becomes a natural part of who we are. Today we start with a core posture which relates to our identity: the posture of being shaped by God’s story.

Who was I? Who am I? Who will I be? Philosophers have pondered the nature of the human person for as long as they’ve been philosophizing. Understanding the enigma that is the self is not an easy undertaking. How do we reconcile our fears and our aspirations, our strengths and our weaknesses? Who are we when our jobs, our families, our stuff is taken away? Today, we’ll dive into Ephesians and 2 Corinthians to explore how we find answers to these questions (and more) through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

 

Icebreaker

What was something that you wore/owned as a kid that you thought made you cool? What was cool about it?

Scripture Reading

Ephesians 2:1-10; 2 Corinthians 5:13-21

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you define “identity?” What is it and why is it important?
    CONVERSATION HELPER: Psychology Today says, “Identity is concerned largely with the question: “Who are you?” What does it mean to be who you are? Identity relates to our basic values that dictate the choices we make (e.g., relationships, career). These choices reflect who we are and what we value. For example, we can assume that investment banker values money, while the college professor values education and helping students. However, few people choose their identities. Instead, they simply internalize the values of their parents or the dominant cultures (e.g., pursuit of materialism, power, and appearance). Sadly, these values may not be aligned with one’s authentic self and create unfulfilling life. In contrast, fulfilled people are able to live a life true to their values and pursue meaningful goals. Lack of a coherent sense of identity will lead to uncertainty about what one wants to do in life.”

Read Ephesians 2:1-10

  1. How might verses 1-3 be translated into the modern day concept of “identity?” What claims is it making about human identity?
  2. What “desires” and “thoughts” do you think shape most people’s identities? What do most people say is important, and do they live up to those ideals?
  3. Verses 4-10 are eloquent and beautiful, but it is more verbose than is typical today. In your own words, what is the author saying in these verses?
  4. How is what God did through Christ relevant for your identity? Can what someone else does be important for your identity? Why?
  5. The NIV uses the word “handiwork” for the Greek word poiēma. This is where we get the modern day word for “poem,” and it tends to convey the idea of artistic creation.  In short, the verse is saying that your identity is  “God’s beautiful masterpiece.” Do you often feel that way? If yes, what reminds you of this truth? If not, what keeps you from living into this identity?

Read 2 Corinthians 5:13-21

  1. The author is connecting his identity in Christ to his actions in the world. What is the connection between identity and action? Are these two things always related?
  2. There are many descriptors that the author is using throughout this passage to describe what it means to be a “new creation” in Christ. What are they and how do they relate to our identity?
    CONVERSATION HELPER: Here are a few key phrases to think about – ambassadors for God (v20), controlled by Gods love (v14), ministers of reconciliation (v18), reconciled to God (v20), the righteousness of God (v21).
  3. This passage starts with personal identity and moves outward towards how we identify others. What identifiers does this passage suggest that we use towards other people? In other words, who are they?
  4. The “ministry of reconciliation” is an important concept in Scripture and can be applied to many different areas of our lives. How is this passage describing this ministry? How is reconciliation supposed to relate to our identities in Christ?

Diving Deeper: Identity Formation

  1. Read the following excerpt from Psychology Today. According to Sharahm Heshmat, the process of identity formation has three goals:“The first task is discovering and developing one’s personal potentials. These personal potentials refer to those things that the person can do better than other things. How the person to discover what those best potentials are? The answer is a process of trial-and-error. This requires exposure to a wide array of activities, some of which we become able to do relatively well. This is recognized by the feedback we receive from others and our own positive feelings about those activities. These activities simply “feel right” to us, and these feeling are useful clues. We are intrinsically motivated to do these activities. However, the development of skills and talent requires time, effort, and willingness to tolerate frustration when obstacles to improvement encountered. Second step is choosing one’s purposes in life. It is necessary to choose what we are seeking to accomplish in our lives. To achieve substantial success in fulfilling our purpose, the objectives must be compatible with our talent and skills (our authentic self). To choose a purpose not compatible with our capabilities is a recipe for frustration and failure. Finally, one is required to find opportunities for the implementation of those potentials and purpose. Open societies allow for role mobility and flexibility to implement identity-related choices. However, this is not the case in close and rigid societies. For some, this may lead to emigration.  Identity is never “final” and continues to develop through the lifespan.”
  2. The author outlines three stages to the identity formation process. How would our identity in Christ be a part of these stages?
  3. Though we are all made in God’s image and have a common identity in Christ, we also have distinctive personalities and identities. How do the unique parts of our identity relate to the communal, shared identity in Christ?
  4. How is the diversity of our individual identities also a reflection of God?

Helpful Resources

Who Am I? A New Way to Define Identity by Melissa Crutchfield (Cru)
Identity Theft (Book) by Melissa Kruger, et al.
The Reunion Team

Discussion Guide: Acts 15

Discussion Guide: Acts 15

How do you know God is speaking to you? How can you be sure? Often, our relationships with God feel so much like a one-to-one relationship that we forget that other people relate with God, too. The process of discernment isn’t just a me thing, sometimes (or perhaps most of the time) it is an us thing. In this final week of the Discernment series, we’re looking at the communal aspect of hearing and obeying God’s will.

Icebreaker

What is the worst advice you ever received? What was the best advice your ever received?

Scripture Reading

Acts 15:19-35

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you describe the process of discernment? What does it look like?

Read Acts 15:1-19.

  1. What is at stake in the disagreement between the two parties? Is this just a theological debate or would it have real-world consequences?
  2. How do the people of Antioch respond to this debate? Why do you think they deferred to others rather than decide themselves?
  3. What the the process of discernment look like for the council of people in Jerusalem? What steps did they take?
  4. What criteria did the council use as they tried to determine God’s will?
  5. In this story, how is community important for the process of discernment? Why sort of community makes this discernment possible?
  6. James is the leader of the church in Jerusalem, which at this time was the center of the Christian community. His pronouncement seems to be the final decision of the council, and everyone readily obeys. How do authority figures factor into the process of discernment?
  7. How does Acts’ process of communal discernment look different from more individual approaches to discernment? What steps and criteria should it include?
  8. Do you have people in your life who you value and trust enough to include in major decisions concerning life and faith? If yes, how do you include them? If no, what criteria would make people trustworthy enough?

Read Acts 15:19-35

  1. What else does the letter to the Gentile believers reveal about the discernment process and the criteria used for discernment?
  2. What is the result of the council’s process of discernment? How did it affect the people involved?
  3. After discerning, the council quickly acted by sending a letter to correct the situation. What could have kept them from acting on what they discerned?
  4. Have you been in a process of discernment before? Was it easy or hard to take the next step? Why?

Diving Deeper: The Body of DISCERNMENT

Read 1 CoRINTHIANS 2:12-30

  1. In our individualistic society, we tend to desire self-sufficiency. How does this passage relate to that desire?
  2. This passage speaks towards the apparent inequalities in organizational hierarchies. Some people in the community felt less than because they were not a leader or prominent individual. How does this passage address this tension?
  3. This passage specifically says that people have different gifts for the community. How does this affect how you go about engaging the faith community for discernment?

Helpful Resources

Guidelines for Communal Discernment by Victoria G. Curtiss (PCUSA Resource)
The Reunion Team

DISCERNMENT: CONSOLATION AND DESOLATION

DISCERNMENT: CONSOLATION AND DESOLATION

We couldn’t gather in our physical locations last week but that didn’t stop the Church from gathering. We had multiple watch parties in people’s homes and had many people join us on Facebook Live to worship, take communion, and continue in our series on Discernment. (If you missed it, the video is linked below)

In the message this week we talked about those times in our lives where it seems like we have done everything we possibly could (prayed, sought wise counsel, waited, created a habit of indifference) to seek God’s will and we finally take a leap of faith but even still things don’t seem to work out how we thought. Ever had a moment like that? In those moments it’s easy to begin asking the questions, “Did I miss God’s will?” “Did I do something wrong?” “Can I still trust God” but as we talked about this week, in Philippians 2 Paul is writing to his friends who have had a similar experience. They have prayed, sought counsel and chosen to take a leap of faith and follow Jesus with their lives, but now they are facing persecution and Paul writes these words to encourage them,

“…Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

In other words, regardless of the situation, you find yourself in, you can trust that God is still at work in your life to fulfill his good purposes. If this is true, then our questions can shift from, “Did I miss God’s will” to “Even in this struggle, where do I see God at work right now?”

A big aspect of discernment is coming to understand that God is always at work in our lives to fulfill his good purposes but also understanding there are other forces at work in our lives to pull us away from God’s will. The key in the Christian life is learning to tell the difference between the two. For more info on this – check out the linked message video below.

One of the ways we invited you to begin discerning between the two was through the spiritual discipline of “consolations and desolations”

When we talk about consolation and desolation we are talking about our life orientation – we are asking the question – where is my life currently leading? Where are my circumstances leading? Where is my decision making leading? Where are my emotions leading? Where is my mindset leading? Toward God? That’s consolation. Or away from God? That’s desolation.

Margaret Silf, in her book Inner Compass says consolations are things that:

  • direct our focus outside and beyond ourselves
  • lift our hearts so that we can see the joys and sorrows of other people
  • bonds us more closely to our human community
  • generates new inspiration and ideas
  • restores balance and refreshes our inner vision
  • shows us where God is active in our lives and where he is leading us
  • releases new energy in us

Desolations are things that:

  • turns us in on ourselves
  • drives us down the spiral ever deeper into our own negative feelings
  • cuts us off from community
  • makes us want to give up on things that used to be important to us
  • takes over our whole consciousness and crowds out our distant vision
  • drains us of energy

When we create a habit of daily reviewing what is currently drawing us towards God and what is drawing us away from God we begin to be able to make decisions regardless of outcomes and circumstance that will continue to draw us closer to God’s will. We begin to see rhythms and habits in our lives, negative emotions and the role they play in our relationships. We can see the people who drain us and the relationships that need to be healed. We can see where God is at work.

So I wanna invite you to start today in the habit of consolation and desolation. But then I want to encourage you to get a journal and make this a daily/weekly habit. So when big decisions come up you can look back and you can see “where have I seen God at work? What has drawn me closer in the past? And how does that help me make the decision I need to make today?”

Snow day with REUNION!

Posted by REUNION Christian Church on Sunday, January 20, 2019
Chris Hall

Lead Pastor