|Friends in Christ
Introduction to Living Through the Spirit
A Course Using Life Experiences, Spiritual Practice and the New Testament
Friends in Christ
Greenbelt Middle School, Room 108
|Go directly to lessons|
1 - 3/3/99
2 - 3/17/99
3 - 3/24/99
4 - 3/31/99
5 - 4/14/99
6 - 4/21/99
7 - 4/28/99
8 - 5/5/99
Welcome! You have joined a journey. In the eight sessions of this course, we will explore some of the challenges of the human condition, which confront us all. We will also become acquainted with the wonderful gift of God's love, which transforms these challenges into new living.
Each session will address a particular need or challenge to living a fulfilled life. We will read selections from the Bible revealing the actions and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Through these readings, we will become familiar with Jesus and God's revelation through him. We will also look deeply into our own life experiences. With the aid of the Holy Spirit, we will discern God's leading in our lives and in those around us. Finally, we will explore methods of meditation and prayer to aid in our awareness of our relationship with God. We will begin to experiment with the use of silence (silent worship or contemplative prayer) as a means to God.
|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. Ecstatic revelry, not grounded in revealed wisdom and tempered with good judgment, is shallow and dangerous. Our emotions alone are an unreliable guide.
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 overemphasis on thinking or overemphasis on emotion. We need to allow God to direct both our minds and our hearts.
For most of us, our first steps to God come from a sense of incompleteness and wounded-ness in ourselves and our loved ones. We feel the need to be healed and made whole. We reach out to be restored.
Read Mark 1:40-44 (the man with skin disease)
Read Luke 8:40-56 (Jairus and his daughter; the bleeding woman)
Query: Are there wounds in your life which encourage your spiritual quest?
Spiritual practice to try this session - Silence
Sometimes, our lives feel like they are slipping out of control. We try to protect ourselves from pain, poverty and loneliness. Worry consumes us. When we realize the futility of trying to save ourselves, we turn to God.
Read Matthew 6:25-34 (don't worry)
Query: What causes you to worry?
For many, prayer is saying special words, in special ways and in special places. When God does not apparently respond, we give up or keep saying the words for the benefit of others. For Jesus, prayer was an intimate relationship.
Read Matthew 6:5-15 (pray in private)
Query: How do you view prayer? Where did you get these concepts?
Spiritual practice to try this session - The Jesus Prayer: The Prayer of the Heart
How often do we just give up? We have the desire for a deeper and more spiritual life. Yet, somehow, other things intrude upon our efforts towards reformation.
Read Matthew 15:21-28 (Canaanite woman's faith)
Read Luke 11:5-13 (keep asking and you will receive)
Query: What are the major distractions to your efforts for deeper spiritual living?
Have you ever been trapped in the prison of bitterness? Sometimes, we can not find a way out from our wounds. The past injustices by others haunt us. Our progress to richer living is blocked.
Read Matthew 18:21-35 (the unforgiving servant)
Query: Remember a time you were able to forgive some one. How did you do it?
Are you always finding fault with others? Do your problems seem to be caused by other people? It is always easier to see the fault in the other guy.
Read Matthew 7:1-5 (do not judge)
Read John 8:2-11 (woman caught in adultery)
Query: What does judging others do to you?
The pursuit of happiness seems to be the American way. But, what is happiness? Power? Beauty? Wealth? Jesus points us to a very different interpretation of happiness.
Read Matthew 5:3-12 (blessed)
Query: Where do you find real happiness?
The possibility of spiritual growth is always at hand. Sometimes, growth never starts. Other times, it withers early. Lasting growth requires constant tilling.
Read Matthew 6:19-21 (store up riches)
Query: What has encouraged spiritual growth in you?