We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. These are some things we want to be true of our group:
We create a safe and honest environment, staying transparent and authentic.
We keep it inside the circle. Confidentiality is necessary for a healthy group.
We look together to the Bible for help and guidance, and keep out our own politics, sales, or agendas.
We do not try to fix each other, preach sermons, or give unsolicited advice. We instead encourage, listen to, and celebrate each other.
We handle conflict between us quickly and honestly by going to the person, owning our part, and practicing forgiveness.
We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
We trust that it is God’s role to change people, not ours.
We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
Mark Twain called it the "greatest story ever told". It's Jesus' most famous story and has inspired countless retellings. In this series, we are looking at Jesus' "Story of the Lost Son" from the vantage point of each character.
Jesus tells this whole story to help us understand one character more than anything else - the Father. What we think about God is the most important thing about us, so he was as clear as possible when explaining what God is like. Running to the younger brother and pleading with the older brother, the Father cuts through our wrong ideas about God and shows exactly who God is.
Breaking the Ice
The word “Father” brings up something different in us - it’s an emotionally loaded word! What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Father”?
Pictures of God
Each of us has a different picture of God that naturally comes to mind - and when it’s not informed by Jesus, it’s always at least a bit off. Mike mentioned things like old grandpa, genie, angry cop, talent show judge, buffet, and Santa Claus.
What wrong pictures of God have you had throughout your life? On your worst days, what pictures of God find their way back to your mind?
How we think about God
James Bryan Smith says, “If we think of God as a vague and impersonal force in the universe, we will probably have a vague and impersonal relationship with this God. That’s why it’s crucial that we have the right thoughts about God. It will determine everything we do.”
Can you relate to this quote? How has your picture of God determined not only your relationship to him, but determined other ways you’ve lived your life?
The Father lets the younger brother have exactly what he wants, which tells us that God lets us have what we want - he allows our rebellion.
Why does God do this? Do you feel like you’ve been allowed to have what you wanted like the younger brother did?
What has your own season of rebellion taught you about yourself or about God?
The Father sees the younger brother coming home and immediately runs toward him - in fact, he was waiting for him. God initiates with love and runs toward our mess.
Looking at your own life, how have you seen God initiate with love? What in your life shows you that God has run toward your mess?
God loves putting the pieces of our lives back together - he restores us back to the position of much loved son or daughter.
What needs to be put back together in your life? Is it hard for you to trust that God can and will restore that area in your life?
How have you gotten in the way of or resisted God restoring parts of your life?
The Father in Jesus’ story shows us that one soul coming home is always worth a celebration. In fact, Jesus says that heaven explodes with a party every time a sinner comes home.
Do you feel like you’re a part of the party? What needs to change about your life so that you can be a part of the party, welcoming people back home?
In Luke 15:28, the Father lovingly pleads with the older brother instead of being angry with him. God consistently reminds us that we are joining his story - not the other way around.
When have you felt the call of God to do something, and you’ve resisted? How did it feel?
Is it hard for you to know what God is calling you to, and how he wants you to help others find and follow Him?
The Father doesn’t hold back from lovingly telling the older brother he needs to be glad and celebrate that his younger brother was dead and is now alive. God is always loving, but He tells us the truth. And the truth isn’t always easy to handle.
When has God’s truth conflicted with your view of the world, yourself, others, or something else? How did you work through that conflict?
Our Privilege as Sons and Daughters
John 3:1 says “How great is the love the father has lavished on us, that we should called children of God! And that is what we are!” The problem is, we don’t always live up to that privilege, and we forget it’s true. In reality, coming home should never get old - and the incredible grace of God should never feel normal.
Does God’s grace ever feel stale, like old news, or too basic to you? How do you think you get to that place personally?
What can you do this week to reignite the excitement of the grace of God?
READ. PRAY. DO.
There are lots of parallels between the Prodigal Son story and the story of Jacob in the Old Testament! Read Jacob's stories and try to find the parallels!
Pray this prayer on your own, or use it to kickstart your own personal prayer time.
Father, teach us exactly who you are. Don’t let our minds get cluttered with pictures of you that send us down the path of the younger brother OR the older brother. Help us stay close to you and never get distant. Help us keep coming home to you over and over as we stray in any direction.
Confess! Come home!
There's always something attempting to wedge itself between us and God. And God is always ready to forgive us and throw that party - no matter what we've done or how long we've followed him. So confess what is wedged between you and God, and know that he forgives and loves you completely!
1 John 1
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in himthere is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.