Sunday, August 22, 2010

Being 29 - Day, um, er, I lost track.

We've been going through Ephesians at my church for the past 7 weeks. The series has been illuminating and conviction inducing for both me and Jermaine (it's the same series that inspired him not to mock our loved ones for a whole week).

The sermon from today was particularly gut-wrenching for me. Every Sunday there are discussion questions for people to take to mull over during the week (alone or in their small groups, I suppose). I thought it might be fun to post them on here and see if we can get a good conversation going. Everyone's welcome at the blog table!

Here's the passage from this week (Ephesians 6: 10-24 (New Revised Standard Version)):

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus will tell you everything. He is a dear brother and a faithful minister in the Lord. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are, and to encourage your hearts. Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all you who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you get a chance, check out the message that was inspired by this scripture. It's not on the website yet, but when they post it, you can find it here. Also, feel free to check out the prior messages in the series. If this discussion goes well, I'll try and dig up the other discussion questions and do another one of these.

Week 7: Confronting the Powers

1. This passage deals with the idea of "spiritual warfare". If you grew up as part of a church, what was the common understanding of this term (if any)? What has been your experience throughout adulthood with this concept in the common culture? In church? Discuss different perspectives, knowledge and experience of spiritual warfare.

2. What has been your experience of church as "a building" people go to once or twice a week to get filled up on God and spirituality in order to help them live out their real lives the rest of the week?

3. What has been your experience of church as a community of people devoted to one another at great cost through trial and suffering, committed to one another and sharing their hearts, minds, resources and real-time daily lives?

4. What do you think the church should look like? What do you want for yourself?

5. In this passage, Paul speaks of "putting on" certain virtues and attitudes as a kind of armor for living out church and community. Reflect carefully and thoughtfully to these things Paul specifically mentions, pausing for a long moment between each one, listening for what thoughts and feelings are stirred up in you in you inner being.

Righteousness . . . Peace . . . Faith . . . Salvation . . . Spirit . . . Prayer . . . Alertness . . . Perserverance . . .

Which word(s) stand out for you? Why? What words had negative connotations for you? Positive connotations? Explain.

I don't want to post my own thoughts just yet. I'd rather not steer. But, if no one posts by tomorrow or Tuesday, I'll stir the pot.

Again, if you've read this far - I thank you, I pity you and I invite you to join me on this new adventure!

And now, for some fun pictures from this past weekend. AND - I learned how to put a caption (it's embarrassingly easy, actually, heh)

Filling out the application for our potential new apartment!
Finding my good angle. ;)
In church today, I discreetly tried to take a picture of this quote I liked. Unfortunately, you can't really see it, but if you listen to the sermon you'll be able to hear it!
Having fun in the skateboard section of our favorite sporting goods store. ;)


JMS said...

Brandy, you and Jermaine really need to read my friend Olatunde's book "The Mind of Christ." His discussion of Spiritual Warfare is fantastic (and as someone who's been in the thick of battle with him firsthand, I can attest to it!)

If nothing else, at least consider buying a copy of the book so you can have the cover art...which was done by yours truly... ;)

Andrea said...

Here's what happened. I copied and pasted all of this to type out thoughtful answers to copy over to your comments. But, for the life of me, I can't figure out what some of the questions are asking. Maybe I'm too tired to be doing this.

#2: I personally feel out of the loop if I miss more than a week of church. I feel something is missing. I feel unconnected (disconnected). I lose the drive to read the bible. I feel out of touch with prayers. When I go steadily, I'm reading more, journaling more, praying more. I used to think I could do it without church, without the building, without the people. I was sadly mistaken.

#4. I want a more youthful environment. I want more singing. I love singing (thought horrible at it) I cannot stand, standing there singing a song so slow, that all I can think about is 'when is this song over' I hate not being in the moment, when I so desperately want to be. I want more variety in prayer, in communion, in alter call. The same old speeches drive me nuts. If after only a year, I can repeat the Lord's Supper routine, something is amiss. There are people who's closing prayers I can recite. Our church is always willing to help out, but sometimes there are people in our 'own backyards' that need help. And I can't help feeling a little disillusioned by our Pastor. I've learned he is a flawed human being like the rest of us. Sometimes I feel as if he's on his own agenda. Not for anything bad, but when he's into a topic or an idea, that where the church needs to be heading at that moment. If that makes sense.
Okay, I think that's all your getting out of me for now.