The Not Yet: Recap of the 6/12/14 Meeting

For our opening question, we learned about people’s all-time favorite movies. Alicia Jane loves The Goonies, and Penne has watched Anne of Green Gables over and over. I can never get enough of Pride & Prejudice, but it has to be 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth!

We read through Philippians chapter 3:17-21 together. (read this now!).

Our discussion focused on what it means to have dual citizenship on heaven and Earth as Christians. Being a “spiritually minded Christian” means focusing on things that are true, noble, and honorable. This can be easier said than done!

Verse of the night:

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20) 

For next session (6/19): Please read the book of Philippians and complete Lesson 8, “The Not Yet” in your Be Joyful book.

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The Race: Recap of the 6/5/14 Meeting

Staying on the topic of “the race”, our opening question was what sport each of our members most enjoy. No surprises that Lucy chose sailing- she’s already sunkissed from going out sailing just this season! Penne shared that she likes to watch her kids play sports, but can’t seem to get interested in basketball.

We read through Philippians chapter 3:12-16 together. (read this now!).

Verse of the night:

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) 

For next session (6/12): Please read the book of Philippians and complete Lesson 7, “The Not Yet” in your Be Joyful book.

New Values: Recap of the 5/29/14 Meeting

For our opening question, we learned about what peoples favorite thing about summer is. I was shocked that some people (Rebekah & Bethany, I’m looking at you!) don’t even like summer! Lucy shared that she loves going sailing on her sailboat, Linda loves the extra sunlight, and Debbie likes to ride her motorcycle. Like it or not, the official first day of summer (6/21) is almost here, and we’re already enjoying (or not enjoying, as the case may be) some of the warmer summertime weather.

We read through Philippians chapter 3:1-11 together. (read this now!).

We discussed Lesson 5, “New Values” (p. 69-81 in the Be Joyful book), which focuses on examining your life to determine what you find most valuable, and even more importantly, pursuing the things that God finds valuable. We talked about how you can never be “good enough” for salvation– counting on ourselves (“putting confidence in the flesh) is fruitless because it is only Christ who can save you (Philippians 3:8).

Verse of the night:

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8) 

For next session (6/5): Please read the book of Philippians and complete Lesson 6, “The Race” in your Be Joyful book.

Christian Living: Recap of the 5/22/14 Meeting

For our opening question, we learned about what people remember as the first thing they cooked or baked. Many have been cooking and baking so long they can hardly remember! Alicia remembered making no-bake drop cookies with her mom, then again with her daughter- what a fun tradition. I remember my dad teaching me to make scrambled eggs- something I still eat a good deal of today!

We read through Philippians chapter 2:12-30 together. (read this now!).

I shared with the group how I’ve been using a “couch to 5K” app, which helps slowly ramp you up from running only a minute at a time to running 3 miles without stopping. As of the 5/22 meeting, I was about halfway through, which means the most I ever run at a time is 5 minutes. As I was running my second 5 minute stretch the night before our Bible study, I thought to myself “I couldn’t have done this run 4 weeks ago.” It’s true—a month ago, my body was not prepared for even 5 minutes of running at a time. That’s how running works- you will never be able to endure a great distance without working your way up from smaller goals.

The Christian life can be much like training for a race. Philippians 2:12 says “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. This doesn’t mean that you have to earn your salvation, but that in addition to there being a point of salvation, salvation is also a process. To become more Christlike will take discipline- praying, studying scripture, fasting, and giving should all be part of your quest to “work out your salvation”. Much like not being able to run for very long when you first start training, these disciplines won’t look like much at first. As you continue to pursue them, though, your life will look less and less like this world and more and more like Christ.

Verse of the night:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:14-15) 

For next session (5/29): Please read the book of Philippians and complete Lesson 5, “New Values” in your Be Joyful book.

Like Minded: Recap of the 5/15/14 Meeting

For our opening question, we learned about favorite books. Linda used to secretly read late at night, and re-read Gone with the Wind many times in high school. Mina can’t get enough of Love you Forever.

We read through Philippians chapter 2:1-11 together. (read this now!). Philippians 2:2 says “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” The Wiersbe commentary is careful to note that being “of one mind” is not the same as “uniformity”. We are not going to have exactly the same beliefs on every subject, nor should we strive for this. To be in unity means that you are striving to be one and love one another, instead of more natural feelings of division and rivalry.

A famous quote by St. Augustine is “in essentials, unity, in non-essentials, liberty, in all things, charity.” The beauty of the body of Christ is in the wide range of ages, genders, political beliefs, ethnicities, etc. Our diversity helps us all to grow as a community. As we see in this week’s lesson, though, to put others before yourself and do nothing out of selfish ambition is the key to being a community that is not divided against itself.

Verse of the night:

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5) 

For next session (5/22): Please read the book of Philippians and complete Lesson 4, “Christian Living” in your Be Joyful book.

The battlefield: Recap of the 5/8/14 Meeting

For our opening question, we learned about everyone’s favorite and least favorite household chores. Who knew that Renee liked to clean her kitchen, and Penne likes to work on landscaping and gardening? It seemed many people enjoyed someone else’s least favorite chore, so maybe a chore co-op is in order?

In my introduction to the lesson, I shared that I don’t know much about being a soldier, going to battle, or anything associated with an actual battlefield. However, I do know what it likes to be spiritually at war. During my time as a graduate student, I felt the effects of being in a culture where Christ was not valued. I was questioned, belittled, and tempted to give in to the pluralism that surrounded me. I felt the enemy working on me in the way that was most effective at the time: I felt my intelligence was threatened. I wanted to be smart, and more importantly, I wanted others to see me as smart. The Holy Spirit worked with me during this time, but not in the way I might have asked for. I wanted to stay true to my beliefs, but still be honored and respected by those in my program. Instead, I stayed true to my beliefs in the midst of opposition, and a lot of people continued to think this made me weak and stupid.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul is talking with God, asking for his weakness to be taken away. God replies “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.” To move beyond ourselves and our pride reveals God in a powerful way. It may not seem like much of a battle strategy, but when others see this weakness in action, they see beyond you to the One you are following. It’s not your battle to win, it’s His. I pray that God keeps using me as an instrument in his battle.

We read through Philippians chapter 1:27-30 together. (read this now!), and discussed what we learned from studying Philippians on our own this week.

Prayer Time: As usual, we ended our session with prayer time in small groups. Keep praying for one another this week. There is such power in community prayer!

Verse of the night:

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel ” (Philippians 1:27) 

For next session (5/15): Please read the book of Philippians and complete Lesson 3, “Like Minded” in your Be Joyful book.

Joy in Chains: Recap of the 5/1/14 Meeting

Thanks again to everyone for coming out to this week’s study!

For our opening question, we learned how everyone would respond as a child when they were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. Who knew that Renee considered being a modern jazz dancer, Rae wanted to be an airline stewardess, and Bethany was dead set on being a “donut girl”? Knowledge is power.

Penne provided some music on the big screen, Steve Green’s He who Began a Good Work in You. This song is based on Philippians 1:6, which was part of this week’s focus. We also learned Penne has a song for everything!

We read through Philippians chapter 1:1-26 together. (Click here to read it now!), and discussed what we learned from studying Philippians on our own this week. Linda was able to find joy in not being able to find her car, and Bethany found joy in seeing her baby boy laugh at a little mouse toy. We talked about how circumstances do not determine our joy, but following hard after God can produce joy in our lives.

I shared a testimony that I have felt inadequate to lead a Bible on joy while in the midst of postpartum depression, but found inspiration from 2 Corinthians 6:3-13, where Paul (who also wrote Philippians) talked about his struggles, including “hard work, sleepless nights and hunger” (v.5), and how he is “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (v.10).  Jon spoke in his sermon on Sunday about how faith can follow action, instead of the other way around. By the very act of disciplining yourself to love your spouse, read the Bible, or give to the church, when you don’t feel like doing so, will actually help you to “feel it” more. Sometimes, the only way to move beyond your sinful nature and want to do the will of God is to keep the doing the will of God over and over, even when its the last thing you feel like doing. In this way, faith can be 90% “just showing up”. If you keep doing the will of God, the desire to do the will of God will follow.

I recognize that a lot of us–myself included– are currently  in business of “just  showing up”. We saw that a Bible study was being offered about being joyful, and recognized that joy wasn’t something we’re naturally feeling right now. Each of us have many demands on our time, and some of us are even going through some serious trials. Finishing this workbook, reading Philippians, and showing up to the church basement on Thursday nights might feel like another burden sometimes, but I want to encourage you to keep showing up. Some nights, when you’re really not “feeling it”, you may have to force yourself to come. Those nights when you force yourself to come may be the most important ones of all. I believe that God will reward you for this effort. I believe that studying what God has to say about joy, sharing our studies with one another, and intentionally looking for joy in our lives will actually produce joy.

We went through the workbook and discussed many of the questions together. What does it mean to have joy? Rebekah shared how she and Christian were able to experience joy by holding a worship service after the death of their daughter Rachel. Gail shared how she was able to see her daughter learn obedience when she was a little girl when she almost threw a toy, but instead handed it to Gail. Don’t we all feel like throwing something across the room sometimes? There are so many temptations to resist joy and disobey our heavenly father.

Prayer Time: We ended our session with prayer time in small groups. I will keep these requests private since anyone can access this website, but please continue to pray for one another this week.

Verse of the night:

“he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6b) 

For next session (5/8): Please read the book of Philippians and complete Lesson 2 in your Be Joyful book.