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Category: Sunday School Summary

Sunday School Summary: Your Move – Part 3

Given that I am under the weather, not feeling well and currently only have access to my iPhone, I’m very motivated to keep this post short. So, rather than offer my typically textual summary of this week’s Sunday school class, let me summarize the main point with the following image. And forgive me for not being very original with this thought but the reality is that we can all stand to be reminded of this every now and then.

It's all a god thing

Sunday School Summary: Your Move – Part 2

Last week I mentioned that I intend to write a weekly post summarizing my thoughts on the Sunday school classes that I’m attending at my church. Today was part two of a four part video series by Andy Stanley titled, Your Move. Your Move is a series focused on decision making where Stanley suggests four questions that we should ask in an our efforts to make good decisions.

This morning we watched and discussed the second session titled, The Story of Your Life. Following is the description of session two (taken from yourmove.is):

Every decision and the outcomes of those decisions become a permanent part of your story. Luckily, in God’s big picture, you get to write that story. So, what can you do to make it a story you want to tell?

Stanley used the story of Joseph as the backdrop for his message and in particular, honed in on the following verses from chapter 39:

So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. Genesis 39:6–10

Some things I heard:

  • You get to choose the story you tell in relation to the dilemma that you’re facing
  • Our story is part of the story our children will tell
  • The things that we are going through right now are nothing more than a story we will tell someday
  • Don’t opt for anything that makes you a liar for life
  • When making decisions we should consider the question, “What’s the story that I someday want to tell?”
  • When deciding what to do we should consider whether or not it is consistent with our story so far

Some things I thought:

  • I appreciate the desire to impart practical wisdom as it relates to making good decisions but I felt as though too much of the focus was on Joseph (and by extension, us) and what we are to do versus the focus being on God and who He is.
    • My preference (which I admit is different than the preference of many) is to simply be confronted with the truth of God’s word (what it says, why it’s being said, what it means, etc…) and then, by the power, leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit consider how I am to respond to that truth.
    • I worry that we made Joseph the focus and hero of the story. Don’t get me wrong; he’s certainly a main character and there is a lot to glean from his life. But it’s really about God and how God used Joseph to fulfill His purposes for His glory to fulfill His promises to His people. As much as we can learn and be encouraged by Joseph’s decision making in the midst of unthinkable circumstances, let’s also acknowledge God’s sovereignty.
  • Should we really be thinking about how we want our story to go? Or, should we be more concerned with God’s story and the small part that we get to play in that story?
    • One of the questions that was asked during our discussion was, “what are the things that are difficult about making decisions?”. To be honest (and vulnerable and transparent), I think one of the most difficult things is to not make decisions based on the question, “what story do I want to tell?”. Because, although I know what my motivation should be (obey and bring glory to God), my concern is that I am too often walking and thinking in the flesh when the story that I want to tell is all about me – my glory, my comfort, my reputation, my happiness.
      • Ironically, during the message today our pastor touched on Abraham and Hagar. It reminded me that Ishmael was a product of a decision that resulted from Abraham and Sarah thinking about the story they wanted to tell instead of being content to live the story that God wanted to tell through them.
  • This leads to my next thought; we were encouraged to avoid making decisions that were not consistent with our story so far. So, in other words, whatever story you’ve been telling to-date, keep making decisions that are in line with that. Well, what if the story I’ve been telling is rooted in disobedience, self-righteousness, moralism or legalism? What if my story has been all about ensuring the outside of the cup (the side everyone can see) is clean but inside it’s full of filth and gunk?
    • Perhaps instead of considering which option is most consistent with my story, I should consider which option is most in line with God’s will and brings Him the most glory and blesses others the most.
  • If, as Stanley contends, children start with the story of their parents perhaps we should start with the story of our Heavenly Father.

As always, it’s always best to continue to meditate both on what I heard and what I thought and submit it all to God in the expectation that, by His Spirit, He will lead me into all truth. My hope is that as He reveals that truth, I will have eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to receive and a willingness to obey and respond. For His glory alone.

Sunday School Summary: Your Move – Part 1

September marks not only the time when kids go back to school, it also marks the time when churches kickoff the new ministry year. With that comes new Sunday School classes. I thought I would start a habit of taking a few minutes on Sunday afternoon or early Monday morning to review my notes from the previous day’s class and summarize my thoughts here as a way to stay engaged with the material that is being presented as well as reflect on my response.

The Sunday school class that I am attending at my church is a video series by Andy Stanley titled, Your Move. Your Move is a series focused on decision making and yesterday we watched and discussed the first session titled, Really. Stanley’s premise for this first message in the series was that one of the first questions we need to consider when we are faced with decisions that we never anticipated having to make is whether or not we are being completely honest with ourselves regarding the motives and rationale behind our decisions. The scriptural foundation for his message was Jeremiah 17:9 which reads,

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?”

Stanley reinforced the point that our hearts are sick and incurable and none of us can understand it. Consequently, we lie to ourselves and are constantly selling ourselves a bill of goods that we think will result in our optimal happiness. He said that none of us are on a truth quest and that we are all about pursuing our own happiness. He asserts that if we would just truthfully answer the question “am I being honest with myself?” or “why am I doing this…really?” we can identify the true motivations behind our decisions and that truth can set us free (if we would let it).

Following are just a few thoughts that came to mind yesterday after watching the first video in the series:

  • Who can understand it? God can!– the heart is used as a metaphor for the human (fleshly) will and emotion; two things that can deceive us. The question posed by Jeremiah (“who can understand it?”) is used as a rhetorical device to help reinforce the fact that no one can understand it. But, I wished Stanley would have expounded a little bit on someone who can understand it; God.
    • “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”” 1 Samuel 16:7
    • “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10
    • “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23–24
  • Vintage heart vs. new and improved heart – Perhaps Stanley should have made a distinction between the heart of the old (sinful) man and the heart of the new (cleansed, forgiven, reconciled and redeemed) man. After all, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come.
    • “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:26–27
    • “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jeremiah 31:33
    • “I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” Jeremiah 32:40
    • “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22
    • “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
    • “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,” Romans 6:17

After only one session I’m not really sure where Stanley is intending to take us with this series but I’m looking forward to the rest of the series to see where we end up. In the meantime, I make it my desire not to necessarily make better decisions for my benefit but rather to submit all things to Jesus and make Spirit-empowered decisions that bring the most glory to God the Father. And in that, may I know and experience joy.

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