Thursday, June 02, 2011
My "Crazy Love" Small Group Discussion Questions
Chapter 1: Stop Praying
Stop and think about the last prayer you voiced. How did you begin? Our Father? Dear Lord? Jesus? What word or phrase did you use to start the prayer? Now, take a minute and consider the prayer you prayed before that prayer. How did you begin? Same word or phrase? Different? Sorta different or radically different? If you begin all your prayers in much the same way, ask yourself why.
Read these words from G. K. Chesterton:
A child kicks its legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough.… It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again,” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again,” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. (Orthodoxy)
To temper question 1, remember that you could vary your introductory prayer phrase each time you voice a prayer and still not tap into that eternal appetite of infancy or freshness that Francis Chan talks about in Crazy Love. What word will you choose to start your next prayer?
Francis Chan suggests that “it’s exhilarating to be part of a group of believers who are willing to think biblically rather than conventionally.” (p. 20)
1. When you have gathered with a group of believers, have you experienced the exhilaration of thinking biblically about every day topics? Does the idea of developing biblical thinking interest you? Why or why not?
2. If you were completely honest, would you say you are more bored or exhilarated with your life as a Christian? What does Chan say the crux of the problem is if you are bored? (p. 22)
Chan suggests that we are people who are very susceptible to something he calls “spiritual amnesia”.
3. What are we likely to forget and why? What is Chan’s suggested remedy for this situation?
4. What help did you find in the discussion of God’s defining attributes?
5. If we became more familiar with God’s character, how would that help our spiritual amnesia and our day to day conversations with other believers?
Challenge for the Week
Pick one day this week and ask God to show you an aspect of who He is. You can look at question two for some of God’s attributes. For example, ask Him to show you how He is creator. And then throughout the day, keep your eyes and ears open to how He has created things, big and small. Write down the attribute you chose and what God showed you.
Chapter 2: You Might Not Finish This Chapter
1) What causes you the most worry and stress in your life? Read pg. 40 def. of worry and stress. Do you agree or disagree with Francis?
2) about how many outside factors govern the activities of your life that are completely out of your control. How do you usually react to those things (especially if they are people)? What is your reaction to having so little control (even though we tend to think we have SO MUCH control) over your own life?
3) When Francis talks about just being alone with God, how do you respond to those words? Can you relate? Do you walk with God, intimately and regularly? Or are your experiences with God usually mediated by something or someone (books, sermons, pastor’s voice, fellowship, etc.)?
4) Talk about some people in your life that died abruptly. What were some of their achievements and what do you think may have been some of their regrets?
5) Medieval philosophers kept a skull on their desks as a constant reminder of the nearness of death. That’s kinda dark, huh? Without going to that extreme, what’s something you could keep on your key chain or saved on your iPod or stored in your cell phone to keep yourself aware that our life is truly a vapor?
6) Name one person in your life who lives as if each day is his or her last. What is this person’s effect on people around him or her? Does living that way make him or her seem, well, different? Why?
7) If today were the day you died, what would you regret and why? What can you change about your life today to avoid those regrets?
Chapter 3: Crazy Love
1) How do you feel when you hear Paul’s words to “pray without ceasing”? Confident? Guilty? Confused? Ashamed? Try and pinpoint an emotion. Or, maybe you don’t feel anything. If so, what’s causing you to feel numb?
2) If you could pick one word to describe your relationship with your earthly father, what would it be?
3) Now how about your heavenly Father? Pick one word to describe your relationship with Him.
4) Does your “one word” reflect a reality you’re pleased with or one you’re disappointed in? If you’re pleased, then great. But if not, what one word would describe the way you’d like it to be?
5) Consider using that one word as a prayer for a while, repeating it throughout the day when God’s Spirit prompts you. It could be a significant first step to praying without ceasing.
7) Has the background that you came out of helped or hindered your relationship with God as it stands today? How and why?
8) How do you feel about the last section, namely the question asked: "Why would a loving God force me to love Him?" and the response Francis gives?
9) If we truly believed God was the greatest experience we could ever have on Earth, how would our lives be different? Why aren’t they and what can you do this week to change that?
Chapter 4: Profile of the Lukewarm
1) Tell about a time when you put something in your mouth that was so unpleasant that you had to spit it out.
2) During the video, Francis talked about Matt, a missionary from Iraq who said, “what we call sanctification…the believers in Iraq call a pre-requisite.” By receiving baptism, they were declaring that they were willing to lose everything to follow Jesus…and many of them did. What do you think about that?
“It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity.” Pg. 65
3) The quote above puts the spotlight of lukewarmness squarely on the shoulders of the church in America. What do you see in America and in the church today that substantiates or lends supports this statement?
4. Read Matthew Page 66 in Crazy Love and Read Matt. 13:44 along with the two paragraphs that follow
a. What’s the point of this little parable?
b. What is this saying about how we should respond to Jesus and God’s love?
c. Is this your response?
Each description of “Lukewarm People” in the book Crazy Love is part of the picture of half-hearted, compromised living. This is not a list that is meant for us to judge others or create a legalism list for joining the church or becoming a Christian. Instead, it is meant for us to examine our own hearts and test our faith.
Here is the list of what lukewarm people can look like that Chan describes in Chapter 4.
• Attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them.
• Give to charity and church so long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living.
• Choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict.
• Don’t want to be saved from their sin, only the penalty of it.
• Moved by stories of people who do radical things for Christ, but do not act.
• Rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, friends.
• Gauge their morality or “goodness” by comparing themselves to the secular world.
• Say they love Jesus, He is part of their lives. Only a part.
• Love God, but not with ALL their heart, soul, and strength
• Love others, but do not seek to love others as much as love selves.
• Will serve God and others, but with limits.
• Think about life on earth a lot more then eternity in heaven.
• Thankful for their luxuries/comforts, rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to poor.
• Do whatever is necessary to keep selves from feeling too guilty.
• Concerned with playing it safe, are slaves to god of control.
• Feel secure because they do and have done all the “right” things.
• Do not live by faith, their lives are structured so don’t have to.
• Drink and swear less than average, really aren’t very different than average unbeliever.
4) Which two of the above descriptions hit you the hardest? Ask yourself, “Why am I acting like that?” Does anyone want to share why some of these areas are a struggle for you?
Pick one lukewarm characteristic to focus on this week. Spend some time getting to the heart of this lukewarm characteristic.
a. Identify the main sin of this lukewarm characteristic.
b. Find verses that combat this lukewarm characteristic. You can look in a study Bible, concordance or by asking another believer.
c. Pray, asking God to help you battle this sin.
d. Think of one or two tangible things you can do this week to help you fight against this lukewarm characteristic. Be creative in your application.
Chapter 5: Serving leftovers to a holy God
1. Given our discussion in Chapter 4, what do you think it means to be “lukewarm?”
2. Pg. 82 - Read Revelation 3:15-18 aloud . Francis Chan says that those who live like the lukewarm in the last chapter won’t be in heaven. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
3. Pg. 85 – Is it possible to be a Christian without being a “disciple”? Why or why not?
4. Pg. 85, 86 – What is the difference between “failed attempts at loving Jesus” vs. being lukewarm?
5. Pg. 87 – How does this relate to our money and material things? Why do you think the Bible talk so much about material things and money?
6. Pg. 89 – Leftovers: “The bones I threw at God had more meat on them than the bones others threw, so I figured I was doing fine.” How does that compare with Malachi 1:8 (read aloud)? Now read Malachi 1:10. What would God rather have you do than give him your “leftovers?”
7. Pg. 91 - How does God measures our lives? Why is that more important than “success?”
8. Pg. 92 - Try the “replace with your name” exercise. (1 Cor. 13: 2-3)
9. Pg. 93 - What is meant by James 2:17 (“Faith, by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”)
10. Pg. 94 – What’s your reaction to someone who essentially says, “Yeah, I’m lukewarm at times, but right now I’m not really at a place to give more to God”?
Challenge for the Week:
Writer Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our day is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Pick a day from last week. Beginning with the moment you awoke, go back through the day and write down everything you can remember regarding how you “spent” the day. We don’t save time: we just spend it. Don’t embellish or fudge the truth; just write down your day. Is that “day” reflective of how you’re spending your life? Don’t answer too quickly.
Now pick a day that is coming up and try and live that day giving your best first to God. Here are some examples:
‐ Giving the beginning of your day to be with the Lord in His Word (yes, even before opening the sports section of the newspaper or the latest magazine).
‐ Giving God the first few minutes of each new hour to quickly pray with Him (Set a timer).
‐ Think about how you can encourage someone during the day.
‐ Spend your commute listening to worship music.
‐ Tell someone about what God is teaching you.
‐ Eat with a grateful heart to God.
‐ Pray for your child before they go to bed.
‐ Use your sanctified imagination to live for God!
Before going to bed ask the Lord, “Did I fulfill what you asked of me today?” You can also reflect if you saw God work in your life.
Chapter 6: When You’re in Love
QUESTION 1: Balance in our relationship with God is important so that we don’t ‘humanize’ God to the point that we infer the failures of humans on God. How often do you think of God as more of a concept rather than a real person? Which is more of a struggle for you: intimacy with God or reverence for God?
QUESTION 2: We all have ‘baggage’ that we tote around with us and toss into our various relationships. What kind of baggage do you bring to your relationship with God?
QUESTION 3: Does your relationship with God resemble a ‘love’ relationship? Why or why not?
QUESTION 4: Pg. 100-101 - Have you ever met someone who is utterly and desperately in love with God and Jesus? How can you tell they’re so in love? What are they like?
QUESTION 5: Pg. 101 - Why do you think God created us? What is our ultimate purpose (in your own words)? How did you come to this conclusion?
QUESTION 6: Pg. 103 – What happens when we “try harder” not to be lukewarm?
QUESTION 7: Pg. 108 – When we see our relationship with God as a chore or a sacrifice how does that effect what we give Him? What can you give God?
QUESTION 8: Pg. 100-111 – Take a minute silently as a group. Read someone I can be real with aloud. Meditate on what you hear.
Chapter 7: Your Best Life … Later
Francis Chan says the following in the opening paragraphs of Chapter 7.
"By now you've probably realized that you have a distinct choice to make: just let life happen, which is tantamount to serving God your leftovers, or actively run toward Christ."
"Do you recognize the foolishness of seeking fulfillment outside of Him? Do you understand that it's impossible to please God in any way other than wholehearted surrender? Do you grasp the beauty and deep joy of walking in genuine intimacy with God, our holy Father and Friend? Do you want to see God more than you desire security?"
"Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers".
Question 1: Do you spend more of your life investing in your eternal home or your earthly home? How? Why? Is it out of balance?
Question 2: "Christians today like to play it safe. We want to put ourselves in situations where we are safe 'even if there is no God.' But if we truly desire to please God, we cannot live that way. We have to do things that cost us during our life on earth but will be more than worth it in eternity." What are some ways we/you play it safe?
Question 4: Define the word “faith” from a Christian perspective. How is God’s definition different from the world’s definition of “faith?”
Question 5: God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him completely--so much so that we do not hesitate to put ourselves in situations (with His guidance and blessing, of course) where we will be in trouble if He does not come through. What are you doing right now, at this season in your life that requires that radical kind of faith in God?
Question 6: Do I really think of each person I come in contact with as if they were Christ? How would my life change if I did?
Challenge for the week:
What of your “Silly Things” can you give away to someone who is in need? Give it away. No excuses. Give something away that you own.
Chapter 8 Profile of the Obsessed
1. Discuss why we can or can’t live like they did in the days of the early church?
2. Pg. 130 – Why is it not enough to just be “nice” or even “kind” as a Christian in the midst of a lost world? Read Luke 6:32-36 aloud. Why is this essential to being a true follower of Christ?
3. “Love your enemies and do good to them…” (Luke 6) Does this make you uncomfortable to think about doing? Why? Have you ever had a personal experience of putting this into practice? What happened?
4. Pg. 131—Read Jesus words in Luke 14:12-14. Have you ever done anything like that? Describe what happened.
5. As a country we are obsessed by safety. Do you find yourself to praying more for safety (for yourself, loved ones, etc) or for God to do “whatever it takes”?
6. What are some other things you’re “obsessed” with? (this can be silly or serious)
7. There are 14 “profiles of the obsessed”. Read each aloud. Which one do you feel you are most like and which do you feel is the hardest for you? Why?
8. What can you do this week to live a more “obsessed” life?
Chapter 9: Who Really Lives That Way?
1) Who do you look up to? Who are your Christian heroes, living or dead? Pick two and share with our group.
2) What makes a Christian a “hero” as opposed to a “not-so-hero”?
3) What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? What do you want to be known for?
4) p. 150-163 - Which of these stories most grabbed you? Which stuck you at first as just sort of “crazy”?
5) When you look at some of these stories, what sort of excuses or fears most readily pop up in your mind?
Q) “I hope these life stories have done more than encourage you; I hope they have eliminated every excuse for not living a radical, love-motivated life. I hope they have challenged the multitudes who ‘feel called to the rich’ and ignore the poor. If biblical examples seem unattainable, hopefully these average, everyday people give you hope that you, too, can live a life worth writing about.”
1) How can you be a “hero” or be faithfully bold this week?
2) Heroes need encouragement too. If any kind of spotlight might embarrass them, consider an anonymous gift. This week try to find a way to say thank you to one of your faith heroes.
Chapter 10: The Crux of the Matter
1. “God is a creator, not a duplicator…” Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 aloud. What unique gifts, calling, or ways of serving do you think God may be calling you to do?
2. “If I stop pursuing Christ, I am letting our relationship deteriorate. We never grow closer to God when we just live life; it takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness.” What daily disciplines to you do to pursue Christ?
3. “The world needs Christians who don’t tolerate the complacency of their own lives.” How would you define “complacency” in a Christian? What is the danger of not dealing with our spiritual complacency?
4. Read Romans 14:10-12 - All of us will have to give an account of our lives on this earth. God is literally going to say, “What did you do with what I gave you?” How should knowing this affect your life goals, your use of resources, your time and your talents?
5. Has your life made a positive impact upon your church family or has it had a negative one, or even a neutral one? What are ways you can begin or in other cases continue to be a positive impact upon the your church family?
6. “Most of us use - I’m waiting for God to reveal His calling on my life - as a means of avoiding action. Did you hear God calling you to sit in front of your television yesterday? Or to go on your last vacation? Or exercise this morning? Probably not, but you still did it. The point isn’t that vacations or exercise are wrong, but that we are quick to rationalize our entertainment and priorities yet are slow to commit to serving God.‟
a. In what ways have you ever been slow to commit to serving God?
b. If you could do whatever was in your heart to do for God and His people, what would it be?
7. What do you have to do before your life is over?
Challenge for the Week
Fast from something this week. This may mean that you fast for one meal, you fast from shopping online, you fast from watching television, you fast from working out, or whatever would be a sacrifice for you. Use that time to spend with the Lord in prayer asking Him what He wants you to do as a result of this study. Is there a change in your lifestyle, a change in your spending habits, a change in your view of sin, a change in your heart attitudes, or a change in how you see and love God?
Posted by Michael Gianopulos