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Adventure in Living Through the Spirit

A Course using Life Experiences, Spiritual Practice and the New Testament

Offered by Friends in Christ

Greenbelt Middle School, Room 109
8950 Edmonston Road, Greenbelt, Maryland

Wednesdays, 7:30 - 9 PM
September 29, 1999 - November 17, 1999

Although this series is over, you may find it interesting to review it, and perhaps read the scriptures and consider the queries provided. You may respond to the interactive lessons at any time.

Interactive Lessons

Go directly to lessons

1 - 9/29/99
2 - 10/6/99
3 - 10/13/99
4 - 10/20/99
5 - 10/27/99
6 - 11/3/99
7 - 11/10/99
8 - 11/17/99


Interactive Lessons

1st lesson
2nd lesson
3rd lesson
4th lesson
5th lesson
6th lesson
(Interactive lessons will be added weekly after the class session.)

For those who can't come to a class, we offer interactive lessons, in which you write your response to our queries and return them to us. Interactive lessons will be posted after each class. Before you first use our interactive pages, please review the Introduction and Mind and Heart sections of this page below, and also read our piece on Using the Bible.

Introduction

All of us, at one time or another, feel incomplete, wounded or unreal. We sense that authenticity, fulfillment and healing beckon us. We respond by taking tentative steps. Having learned to live with our discomfort, we let go only gingerly as we venture into a life of realization. Living with the Spirit seems like walking out on a high wire. Scary! Sometimes our old pains and falsehoods appear more comforting and secure.

Once we take the steps into living with the Spirit, we find a new sense of reality and security. Jesus has been calling people to this new life for centuries. His followers have found that Jesus' personality and presence have opened for them the actuality of God, even when they did not fully comprehend what was happening. They experienced, through His teachings and life, the Divine potential within them blossom and grow them into new persons.

This course is part of that adventure. Each week, we will get to know Jesus and his challenge for us to live in the Spirit. We will examine God's seed within our life experiences as it struggles to grow. Welcome to the way!

Mind and Heart

The principal thing is to stand with the mind in the heart before God.
-Theophan the Recluse

There are dangers along the path of seeking spiritual insight. The first danger is to see the path as an intellectual effort at knowledge. We like to use our minds. By analyzing, comparing and contrasting, we control ideas. We like to keep the spiritual journey in our mind so we can control it. Unfortunately, as long as we keep the search solely intellectual, we will fail. The essence of the journey is to let go and receive the Divine Other.

The second danger is to see the path as only one of the heart and emotions. This way, however exciting it may appear, robs us of the great gift of thought.

The goal of our inquiry here is to stand with the mind in the heart before God. We will not abandon our minds, but we will not be ruled by our minds. We must put our minds in our hearts, the core of our whole being; the center of our emotions and physicality. So, beware of overemphasizing either thought or emotion.

Session #1, September 29
Wounds, Disabilities and Healing

For many of us, our need for healing provides the motivation to reach out for God. Early in Jesus' ministry, many came to him seeking healing. His earliest identity was that of a healer. He responded to all who sought him or were afflicted. His teachings about the Kingdom of God thus were inseparable from his healing vocation.

   
Read:
Matthew 8:5-13
healing Roman servant
   
 
Mark 2:1-12
healing paralyzed man
   
 
Matthew 9:27-31
healing blind men
   
 
Luke 5:12-14
healing skin disease

     Memorize:  Psalm 103:2-5

     Queries:
  1. From what wounds and disabilities do you suffer?
  2. How have you sought healing?
  3. How has your desire for healing influenced your spiritual searching?

Session #2, October 6
Worthlessness and Affirmation

Sometimes it seems that the whole world is telling us that we are inadequate. Modern America is obsessed with measurement and productivity. A sense of worthlessness can become demons within us driving us away from others. At the heart of Jesus' ministry is God's love which frees us from the despair of such negative feelings.

   
Read:
Luke 12:6-7
every sparrow remembered
   
 
1 John 3:1-3
God's children
   
 
Mark 5:1-13
driving demons
   
 
1 John 4:7-10
God is love

     Memorize:  Psalm 23

     Queries:
  1. Describe the times you have struggled with feelings of inadequacy and lack of self value.
  2. Describe a time you have experienced God's love and affirmation for you (either directly or through another person).

Session #3, October 13
Delusions, Reality and Release

It is very easy to see misbehavior in others. It is also easy to feel that our own spiritual practices can immunize us from sin. A first step to healing and forgiveness is to realize that we have weaknesses that are beyond our own power to overcome.

   
Read:
Luke 18:10-14
tax collector and the Pharisee
   
 
1 John 1:8-9
admit sin

     Memorize:  Psalm 51:1-2, 6-7

     Queries:
  1. Review your own actions (or failure to act) for the last month. Characterize them as positive or negative in God's sight.
  2. Remember the story of the man with the demons in Mark 5:1-13. Review your life; are you struggling with a moral dilemma, an addiction or a weakness which is like a demon imprisoning you? If so, name that demon and pray for God's healing power.

Session #4, October 20
Estrangement and Forgiveness

Often when we focus too much on our own agenda, we become separated from the love of God and other people. Being self-centered is ultimately lonely. God is always joyfully welcoming us back into fellowship and love.

   
Read:
Luke 15:11-32
prodigal son and his brother

     Memorize:  Lamentations 3:22-24

     Queries:
  1. Describe a time when you, like the younger son, pursued a self-centered course of action which separated you from others who cared for you.
  2. Describe a time when you, like the older son, pursued a judgmental course of action which separated you from others and from a community of love.
  3. Describe an experience of forgiveness. How did this experience bring you closer to others?

Session #5, October 27
Practice of Solitude

When we are alone, there is no need to play roles or wear masks. Solitude is a time of openness to be who we really are. It is also an opportunity to commune with God and wrestle with the demons of our false self.

   
Read:
Mark 1:35
Jesus prays alone
   
 
Matthew 14:22-23
Jesus prays alone
   
 
Matthew 4:1-2
Jesus led into the desert
   
 
Matthew 6:5-8
Jesus prays alone
   
 
Genesis 32:22-30
Jacob wrestles

     Memorize:  Isaiah 40:3

     Queries:
  1. Set aside daily periods of solitude and silence. Try to make each period at least 20 minutes. Describe what happened during these periods. What went on in your mind? What changes did you experience?
  2. Describe a time of solitude during which you wrestled with a problem. Did some kind of solution emerge? How did it happen?
  3. What difficulties do you encounter is using solitude/silence as a spiritual practice?

Session #6, November 3
Practice of Thanksgiving and Praise

Reality is determined by how we perceive it. Yes, events happen, most over which we have no control. Yet, the meaning of events and the influence of events on our lives is determined, more often than not, by how we view them. The Bible is filled with praise and thanksgiving for all God's blessings. Practicing praise and thanksgiving opens us to seeing life as a blessing. Even adversity can reveal God's love.

   
Read:
Luke 1:46-55
Mary's Magnificat
   
 
Psalm 105:1-4
 
   
 
Psalm 108:1-5
 

     Memorize:  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

     Queries:
  1. Describe a time when you were not feeling thankful concerning your life. What feelings did you have? About yourself? About others? About life?
  2. Practice a daily time for praising God and thanking God for all life's blessings. How does this make you feel? Does this change your perspective on life? On others?

Session #7, November 10
Practice of Service

True service is a variety of love. Its goal is the improvement of another person solely for the sake of that person. Sometimes, however, less noble motivations are mixed into our service actions. Occasionally we serve to seek praise or to control others. The service is valuable but self centered motivations can weaken its effect. Jesus was an unusual leader. He stressed over and over again the role of servant as God's messenger.

   
Read:
Luke 22:24-27
leader must be servant
   
 
Matthew 20:25-28
He came to serve
   
 
John 13:4-8, 12-15
Jesus washes feet

     Memorize:  Romans 7:6

     Queries:
  1. Describe a time you served another person. How did it feel to do so?
  2. Looking at several occasions you have served others, think about the following:
    1. Whose needs were you serving? Explain.
    2. How did serving change your feelings? About those you served? About yourself?
    3. What spiritual lessons have you learned from service?

Session #8, November 17
New Beginnings

Jesus had a particular view of human psychology. He saw that spiritual growth led to a state of being so new that a person would be "born from above" or "born anew" or "born again." There is a clear discontinuity between the old ways and the new Way.

   
Read:
John 3:1-8
born from above
   
 
Luke 5:36-38
new coat and new wineskin

     Memorize:  2 Corinthians 5:17-18

     Queries:
  1. During your spiritual journey, have you experienced a discontinuity between how you were and how you are now? Explain.
  2. What does it mean to you to be "born from above" or "born anew" or "born again"? What is the most meaningful way for you to express this aspect of Jesus' teaching?

Communal Meal and Celebration

A gathering will be arranged by the group at a convenient time, probably at the home of a participant.

©1999 Friends in Christ, Inc.

Friends in Christ, Inc.
701 King Farm Blvd. #134
Rockville, MD 20850-6168
E-mail fic@friendsinchrist.net

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Document last modified on Saturday, 27-Dec-2003 09:34:38 EST