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Leader's Guide - September 30-October 6, 2012

Looking Back: Identity, Mark 11:12-12:12

Since this is such a lengthy passage of Scripture and “Identity” is such a broad topic, there are probably dozens of directions you could go in your discussion this week. To help you focus, here are some suggestions. Feel free to pick and choose based on what you think your group needs the most:

1. The Parable of the Vineyard (Mark 12:1-12) illustrates that God is both “unbelievably gracious” and at the same time “ultimately just.” Discuss… Where do you see each of these traits in the parable? Most people tend to think of God as mostly one or the other. Why is that? Which one most often comes to your mind when you think of God? In what ways did the grace of God and justice of God come together in the life of Jesus?

2. Everyone who has believed in Jesus has been “re-identified in Christ.” Divide up the following verses among members of the group and ask them to read them aloud one at a time: John 1:12 Ephesians 2:4-7 1 Corinthians 1:27 2 Corinthians 5:17 John 15:15 Romans 5:1

Now discuss: Which one of these stands out to you? Also ask: Which one or ones do you struggle to believe or apply to your life?

3. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “I have come so that you might have life, and have it to the full.” Sunday’s message talked about true “fullness” coming from having Jesus as the Cornerstone of your life. Discuss… Do you think this is true? Why or why not? Have you personally experienced this? For you personally, what things do you tend to look to for “fullness.” What does it actually look like for Jesus to be our Cornerstone? How can that become a reality in our lives? (The goal with this question is to get as practical as possible. Encourage them to discuss what we can “do” to make Him (and keep Him) at the center of our lives.)

Looking Ahead: I Pledge Allegiance, Mark 12:13-18

This will be the introduction to a new six-week series about God, Government, and Me?

My guess is you and your group may be a little anxious about it. For this week, it would probably be good to focus on the text in Mark 12 rather than trying to anticipate. Assure the group that this is going to be above “partisan politics and specific issues,” and focus on big ideas that can guide Christians as they engage government- such as is found in Mark 12:17-18. It is important as we go along to remind folks that our unity is not based on political alignment, but on Christ, and that we are not seeking to convince one another of our personal persuasion. You may have some conservatives in your group, and some liberals, and some who don’t really know. Emphasize that what we will be seeking with clarity is what God says should guide our thinking and values when it comes to governmental things. You will want to avoid focusing on the weekly dynamics leading up to the election, and stay with clear biblical themes. The most important thing is to love one another. Hopefully, the tone of the message will provide a positive overflow into your group.

If you think it would be helpful to start out by getting some reaction to the series, you could ask about their reaction to the “survey ballot” and how they felt and thought as they filled it out last Sunday. Encourage the group with some of the emphasis from above. Certainly, you will want to pray for yourselves and the church and, if possible, for me, (Tom) as we go through the next six weeks.

When you are ready to jump into the Scripture in Mark, begin by asking, “In what way is this a good place to start our discussion about God, Government and Me?” Then emphasize the last couple of questions in the BS Guide.