Week 17: Living in Hope

This is the final instalment of the Discipleship Pathway Blog. Thanks for watching and reading and I hope you find these final resources helpful on the subject of living in light of the future. Feel free to scroll down the page to watch/read more about any subjects you missed first time round!

WATCH: Eternity Changes Everything

How does a right view of eternity change how we live now? Stephen Witmer perceptively observes that sometimes we are not restless enough in longing for the perfect new creation God has promised to us in the future, and so we shrink down our hopes for the future to such small things as this coming weekend, or an upcoming sporting event or a TV Show.

Equally Witmer explains how sometimes we’re not patient enough for God’s perfect future and instead expect even the smallest details of our lives – our breakfast, our commute, our day at work – to be entirely perfect.

Either way, our present experience cannot bear the weight of expectations we put on them. Witmer’s encouragement to us is therefore to cultivate a passion and a restless patience for God’s new creation so that we will be more resilient in suffering, more loving of others and more hopeful for the future.

READ: Looking Forward to a Heaven we can Imagine

Although there are some aspects of life in God’s New Creation that we will just have to “wait and see”, the Bible does gives us wonderful glimpses into what eternity will look like for followers of Jesus. Randy Alcorn answers some specific questions from Gavin Ortlund about what life will be like in the New Creation such as will it be boring, will we eat and drink, what will relationships be like, and will we be capable of sinning? In addition Alcorn helpfully draws out how this good news should shape how we live now, and how we might explain this good news to other people. Click the link below to read this article.

Looking Forward to a Heaven We Can Imagine

Week 16 – Trusting God in Suffering

This week we’ve been thinking about the reassuring truth that God is sovereign over our suffering and indeed all the suffering in the world. This week both resources are videos which help us to think in a God-centred way in the midst of even the most difficult circumstances.

WATCH: The Moon is Always Round

Jonny Gibson, a seminary professor in Philadelphia, explains why he has written a book to help young children to trust God during the saddest and hardest times in life. This incredibly personal and moving testimony is a helpfully simple yet deeply profound way to aid our thinking about God’s faithfulness and goodness, especially at those times when God’s goodness seems most distant.

You can pre-order a copy of the book, The Moon is Always Round, from 10ofthose.com by clicking on the following link. It will be released on 28th November 2019.

https://www.10ofthose.com/uk/products/25698/the-moon-is-always-round

WATCH: How Can I Cope With Suffering?

It’s all very well knowing that God is sovereign and in control – but how in practise will I cope when suffering suddenly hits?

Glen Scrivener and Paul Feesey from Speak Life UK rule out two wrong approaches to coping with suffering (stoicism and moralism) and help us to see how turning to Jesus is the only way we will be able to truly cope during times of trial and hardship.

Week 15 – Money, Money, Money

I once heard a preacher say, “Some churches always talk about money. Some churches never talk about money. Jesus … sometimes talks about money … and when Jesus does speak about money, he always speaks about more than just money.” As we’ve seen from our studies this week, the daily decisions we make about how to use the money God has entrusted to us can have a real impact on our spiritual health and our walk with Jesus.

WATCH: God Owns It All

This short video thoughtfully shows how the Bible’s view of money is different to the world’s. It helps us to think how we should view money in the light of remembering that God is the ultimate owner of all money in this world, and that we should first and foremost listen to God’s wisdom on this topic rather than the world.

This video originally was produced as an introduction to a Bible-based financial planning course in the USA, but it still serves as a useful overview and summary of how we ought to think about money.

READ: The Treasure Principle

Randy Alcorn, of Eternal Perspective Ministries, has written extensively on God & Money. Much of his wisdom and insight on this subject has been pithily distilled into six key principles (contained in the article below) for how we should think about and use the money God has given to us, however much or little that might be. He also helpfully paraphrases the proverbial wisdom Ecclesiastes 5:10-15 which is full of timeless, valuable truths about our relationship with money. Click the link below to read the article.

Click to access six-keys-treasure-principle-bulletin-insert.pdf

Week 14 – Marriage and Singleness

This week we’ve been thinking about what the Bible says about marriage. Whether you’re single or married I would encourage you to read/watch both of the main resources this week to not only consider how to serve God in your circumstances but how you can encourage and support others who have a different marital status! In addition to the usual one video and one written article, at the bottom of this post there is a link to an extended 25 minute podcast discussing how the Bible views singleness.

WATCH: Growing your marriage while having young kids

In this discussion, Gavin Ortlund, Melissa Kruger and Jen Wilkin share valuable and practical wisdom about how to cultivate a healthy marriage while raising young kids (or children of any age for that matter).

READ: Myths about Singleness

In this short article, Lore Ferguson Wilbert reflects upon some of the most helpful observations Sam Allberry makes about what the Bible really says about singleness, in his recently published book 7 Myths about Singleness. She particularly commends Allberry for neither sugarcoating the difficulties of singleness, nor allowing readers to sulk in these difficulties either. Reading this might even prompt you to buy the book.

The Book on Singleness I’ve Been Waiting For

LISTEN: Extended Interview with Sam Allberry on Myths about Singleness

“If marriage shows us the shape of the gospel, singleness shows us its sufficiency.” In this 25 minute interview, Sam Allberry shares the Bible’s “very, very positive view of singleness” as well as reflecting on his own experience. In particular he has really helpful insights on the nature of intimacy both inside and outside of marriage. If you have time, this is well worth listening to.

Week 13 – Work

This week we’ve been thinking what the Bible has to say to us on the topic of work, be that as an employee, houseperson or retiree. We’ve seen God cares deeply about our 9-5, whatever that may look like for each of us.

WATCH: How do I Glorify God in my Work?

This mini-podcast from John Piper reflects very practically on the truth that we belong to God and are called to do everything in a “Godward way” in reliance on God’s grace. Well worth a watch/listen!

READ: Seeking God’s Kingdom First in the Everyday

Nathan Walter shrewdly observes that a big disconnect can develop between our Christian faith and our lives at work, and we’re sometimes not quite sure what one has to do with the other. In light of this he helpfully explores how we should think about the value of work in a world that God has made, but which is also going to pass away. No matter what your “everyday” looks like, this is well worth a read (even if it is a slightly longer article than usual).

Week 12 – Identity

Boom! We’re back with a bang after the summer break. This term we’re going to see what difference following Jesus makes to every area of our life – our work, our relationships, our money, our sufferings, living in light of the future and in this first week, our identity. Because its been such a long time since the last post – there is a bonus second video at the end of this post!

WATCH: Finding Your Identity in Christ Looks Like Death

In this disarmingly honest, piercingly insightful video, Trillia Newbell, Blair Linne, and Rosaria Butterfield discuss what it means to find your identity in Christ and not anywhere and in anyone else, giving some helpfully specific examples in the process.

READ: Where is Your Identity?

David Powlison provocatively begins this written article (click the link below this paragraph) by asking “Who are you? What gives a man his identity? On what foundation are you building your sense of self? Your answer, whether true or false, defines your life.” Although he wrote this article initially for men, his sharp observations on this topic are well worth reading by women and children too.

LISTEN (And Sing Along): Identity

In this song Christian rapper Lecrae skilfully puts his finger on some of the ways as Christians we look away from Christ to created things to be the defining features of our identity. The chorus reminds us that our identity in found in Christ and nowhere else! Give it a listen!

(This video might be preceded by an advert)

Week 11 – Godliness

This is the last extra mile resource until growth groups restart in the Autumn. Why not re-watch and re-read the videos and articles below over the summer to refresh your memory of all that we’ve looked at together so far this year.

WATCH: Reducing the Culture Shock of Heaven

British Pastor Sam Allberry gives us a hugely positive motivation to keep seeking to grow in godliness – so that there’ll be less of a culture shock for us in heaven! I’ll let Sam explain all…

READ: Pursuing Godly Progress

In this article for Table Talk magazine, Adrian Reynolds (Director of Training for the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches), helpfully challenges us not to be Christians who “stand still” or rely on growing in holiness by osmosis and passivity, but rather to be followers of Jesus who are intentional about heeding the Bible’s direct commands to pursue progress in Godliness with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Week 10 – Evangelism

Well done for making it to week 10 of the Discipleship Pathway! I trust you had a stimulating time discussing the topic of evangelism in your growth groups. This week’s extra mile activities focus on two specific aspects of evangelism – seeking to witness to family members who are not yet followers of Jesus, and thinking about how best to prepare to share your testimony with others.

WATCH: Bringing the Gospel Home

One of the questions that often comes to mind when we discuss evangelism is – how do I share this Good News with my family? Maybe you’re too fearful to share with family members, or you’ve been trying to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them for years but feel like you’ve hit a brick wall.

Author Randy Newman knows first-hand that sharing the gospel with family members can be a long, painful and even confrontational experience. After becoming a Christian at university he sought to witness to his family, but didn’t see any fruit for decades. But then, wonderfully, his own mother gave her life to Christ aged 75 (along with a number of other family members). In this video Randy shares some of his wisdom and experience in seeking to invite family members to trust in Jesus.

READ: Sharing Your Story

In our groups we discussed how being ready to share your testimony with others is a good way to put into practise the command in 1 Peter 3:15 to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

Evangelist Rico Tice, who developed the excellent Christianity Explored Course, shares a few simple yet hugely insightful tips about how to prepare and share your own personal testimony of how you became a Christian, and explain how following Jesus makes a difference to your life. At the end of your article you can even listen to Rico briefly share his own testimony.

https://www.ceministries.org/Articles/540030/Blog/Five_minutes_with_Rico_Tice.aspx

Session 9 – Meeting with God’s People

This week at Growth Group Central we’ve seen God’s great plan for his church and what a privilege it is to be included in this body. This week’s extra mile activities prompt us to reflect on how we can grow in maturity as members of Christ’s body, and how we can help our brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same.

WATCH: Are you a Healthy Church Member?

Thabiti Anyabwile gives us a 3-minute health check on our attitude to our church, helpfully explaining how belonging to the body of Christ is different to being a member of a bridge club! Why not take a few minutes to both listen to, and then pray in light of, Thabiti’s wise and thoughtful advice in this video.

READ: 20 Quotes from “Why Bother with Church?”

In 2016 Sam Allberry wrote an excellent, short book called “Why Bother with Church?” We’ve recently started giving a copies of this book away to anyone considering applying for membership at Woodgreen. If you’ve never read it, I wholeheartedly recommending doing so. To whet your appetite, click the link below to read an article consisting of 20 insightful quotations from the book, courtesy of Matt Smethurst.

Session 8 – Talking to God

Welcome back to the Discipleship Pathway Blog, encouraging you to go the extra mile in applying the bible study discussions you’ve been having this week on the topic of prayer. This week’s resources offer sound biblical advice and wisdom on how to make the most of the wonderful privilege we have of coming to our great Heavenly Father in prayer.

WATCH: Avoiding a boring prayer life by “praying the Bible”

Professor Don Whitney tackles one of the questions that Christians ask most frequently: “How can I improve my prayer life?” Helpfully, he doesn’t just give us a list of practical to-dos like setting our alarm clock a little earlier. Instead, he gives us one tremendously insightful suggestion for how we can ensure freshness, vibrancy and variety in our prayer life by turning truths that we have read in the Bible into fuel for our prayers.

“I don’t know any Christian who doesn’t want to improve their prayer life.” Prof. Don Whitney

READ: Why should I go to a prayer meeting?

Most of our discussions in growth groups this week revolved around personal prayer. But we also see corporate (together) prayer modelled by the early church in the New Testament. Erik Raymond persuasively reminds us of the benefits of meeting regularly with our brothers and sisters from our church family to pray together. We also enjoy many of these benefits when we spend time praying together as growth groups each fortnight. See if you can come up with some more reasons beyond the six that Erik gives us! Click on the link below: