Category Archives: Discussions


Discussion: Holiness of God

The Holiness of God (How can he love me when he judges me?)

1 John 1:5 NLT “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.”
I want to talk to you about dogs.

How many of you have a dog or has had a dog in your lifetime?
I want to tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a master and his dog. I need a name for them, who has a name? (let students name dog and master)
Ok, the master loved his dog very very much, raised him from a puppy, it was his best friend. One day the dog hurts his paw and it causes an open wound. It hurts and so to relieve the pain the dog starts gnawing on his paw. It feels good to the dog, but master knows that the more the dog gnaws on his paw, the worse it’s going to get. Eventually he knows it’ll get infected and ultimately could kill the dog. So when the dog starts gnawing, master tells him “No! Bad dog!”. When the dog starts gnawing again, the master takes his newspaper and spanks the dog. This hurts the dog. The dog can’t understand why master, who loves him so much, is giving him consequences and not letting him do what feels good. 
Why does master do this?
Does he still love his dog?
This is an analogy for God. He loves us so much that he can’t stand sin. We were made like him, sin isn’t supposed to be in our lives. When we do, God knows that it is hurting and killing us. 
If the Master said, “No it’s okay dog, you can just do what you want, I forgive you”, but then did nothing to remove the things that’s killing us, would that be loving? 
God judges us, but he does it out of love because he takes responsibility for his people.

He went a step farther and knowing that we couldn’t heal or clean ourselves, The master cleaned our wounds with soap so they wouldn’t kill us. Like we talked about last week, Jesus is that soap. Next week we are going to talk about Love and how love demands sacrifice.
(Close in Prayer)
-Cyndi Engle

Discussion: What is sin?

How many of you have grown up going to church regularly?

How many of you have heard the word ‘sin’ before?
What is a sin?
(Anything that separates us from God)
Is it possible for two people to do the same thing, and for it to be a sin for one person and not the other?
Why or why not?
Romans 3:23-25 NIV

[23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [24] and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. [25] God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
Have you ever heard church people talk all churchy? Can anybody explain those verses in a way that everyone can understand?

God is perfect, and only perfection can enter his presence. 

We do things wrong, we are not perfect. That keeps us separated from God. Sin. 

Jesus was perfect, and could enter God’s presence. He was killed, even though he did nothing wrong. 

He goes to God on our behalf. 

His death covers our sin. 

We can come to God through Jesus. 
Sin is a big deal. It keeps us from someone who knows how to love perfectly. But it doesn’t keep Him from loving us anyway. He made a way for us to come to him. Don’t miss out. God is quick to forgive. 

Discussion: Affirmation

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12

    This is the verse we learned last week. This week we are going to learn about affirming each other. We are going to practice the “Speech, conduct and love” part tonight.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

    Has anyone ever said something mean to you that really hurt?
    Has anyone ever said anything to you that felt healing or made you want to be a better person?
    The bible commands us to build each other up. The world likes to tear others down because it puts them higher up on the totem pole. That’s not the case with us. In Jesus’ mind, whoever is first must be a servant to others. 
    We are going to do an exercise that I heard once described as a “Honey Roast” . I really want you guys to take this seriously.
    Not all of you, but a good amount of people here have dealt with bullying, and we want this to be a safe place.
    Think of encouraging words to share with each person, and the recipient can only say “thank you” (this is not a time for sarcasm or jokes)

-Cyndi Engle

Discussion: Maturity

  • Are you someone others can look up to as a good example?
  • Who do you consider a mentor you can look up to?
  • Do you look up to anyone who is younger than you?
  • How does it feel to be shown respect? What about disrespect? Does your behavior play a part in how you are perceived at times? Do stereotypes from others affect you too?
  • What types of positive behaviors catch your attention, or seem rare for others in your age range?

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12

Break into small groups of 5-7:

  • What negative behaviors do you wish you didn’t do, and would like others to pray for you to replace with better actions and thoughts? 

Affirmation circle activity:

  • Think of encouraging words to share with each person, and the recipient can only say “thank you” (this is not a time for sarcasm or jokes)
  • Prayer


Discussion: Golden Rule

Who has ever heard of the golden rule?

What is it?

Where did it come from?

Matthew 7:9-12 NIV
[9] “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? [10] Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? [11] If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! [12] So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Recently, my littlest daughter did something to annoy her sister, then told me it’s because her sister did it to her, so that means that’s how she wants to be treated, right? No! Think of it like gift giving. Do you give your friends what you want, or what they want? Would you want to receive a gift that you didn’t really want because that’s what your grandparent wanted? We gift people with things we think they would like, and hopefully they would consider our likes when giving us a gift. Don’t think about your personal preferences when dealing with others- think about theirs. Are they more sensitive? More direct? Easily offended? Need things explained in more detail?

Remember that we all think and feel differently. We need to care about the impact our words and actions have on others. We may not always understand WHY they impact somebody the way they do, but we can care enough to change our delivery when we hurt them, or confuse them. We hope to be treated and considered that way, so we should do that for others. We can’t be so stuck in our own heads that we don’t approach people in a way they receive well, rather than the way we like.

The golden rule is not about you. Its about loving others.


Discussion: Needs

  • What is the difference between a need and a want?
  • What does your physical body need to survive?
  • Are there other needs besides physical ones?
  • Have you ever met someone who was actually starving, or in physical danger because of their unmet needs for shelter or water?

“John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” -Luke 3:11 NIV

John the Baptist was a prophet who was telling people who recognized their selfishness and greed what to do when they realized what they were doing was sinful. They asked him what they should do. The verse above was one of his responses, among others. 

  • Have you ever recognized something you were doing or thinking was selfish or wrong?
  • Have you ever asked anyone what you should do about it? Have you prayed to God for help?

Sometimes it it’s hard to imagine yourself as one who has extra stuff until you notice someone who has nothing at all, and feel bad about their situation. 

  • What needs do you notice around you? 
  • What can you do to help meet the needs of others? 
  • How can we practice generosity that pleases God? As a group, or as individuals?

Let’s ask God to give us instructions about what he wants us to do in response to recognizing our own selfishness. 

Discussion: Boundaries

How to set and take boundaries
A couple weeks ago Ezra taught us about Judging. He told us about how to lovingly call out a brother or sister in Christ. First, we examine ourselves, then we can help others. Do you remember the plank of wood/the speck example?
What do you think of when I say boundaries?
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Boundaries are a way to protect your heart.

Have any of you ever had a pushy friend? Or a manipulative friend? Does someone want to share? (It can’t be about someone in the room)
There are a couple different ways that someone can disrespect your boundaries. What are some of these ways?
(Physically, emotionally, mentally, or your time.)
They can do these by being pushy, pouting, guilt tripping, threatening, or begging.
You need to set boundaries to make sure that you are healthy enough to still love people.

Some people want too much of your time, too much of your attention, are jealous of your friendships with others, or ask you to do everything for them, or want to control what you like and do. That’s when you need to say “No”.
There are a couple ways to do this. 

-The first way, especially if we are talking about a friend or Christian, Is to respectfully verbally state that you don’t like something, or that you are too tired, or felt disrespected, etc.

-If that doesn’t work, then you inform them that you will take action (I.E. telling a teacher or distancing yourself).

 -If they continue to disrespect your boundaries, then you take the aforementioned action. 
It is also our responsibility to listen to other people’s boundaries. /if someone asks us to stop, stop. If we are controlling a friend and they feel disrespected, take the time to understand them. Don’t just straight into lashing out or not hanging out with them anymore.
Now, you are only allowed to set boundaries for yourself. For example, If you set boundaries on what someone else likes, then you are being the pushy person. You are not being respectful of their boundaries.
Now, what if you have a friend who is being a butt, or super needy, and you’re not sure whether to help them or not? When to say no or yes?
Gal 6:2-5

2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load.
That may sound like a contradiction. The word in verse 2 for Burden means something like a boulder. Something too heavy to carry. Like maybe some of the grief we talked about. Frequently someone will be having a hard time and need help and love to get them through it. 
In verse 5, the word Load means someone’s daily load, like a purse or carrying sack.

Imagine I had a huge purse. And every day I filled it with so many things that it would be too heavy to carry. So every day I had Cuyler follow me around at work or I called one of you guys to come help me lug my purse around. Wouldn’t that be kind of silly? So It is our responsibility to not unnecessarily load up on things that we have control of such that we constantly need help with everything daily. But as a church it is our responsibility to help people with things that are too heavy to deal with alone. 
Remind them that we are here for them to help carry each other’s burdens.


Discussion: Grief

What is grief?

What are some MINOR things that might cause grief?
What are some MAJOR things that cause grief?

“Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.”
 “Deep sorrow or sadness”

Death of a spouse
Marital separation
Death of a close family member
Personal injury or illness
Dismissal from work
Change in health of family member
Change in financial state
Death of a close friend
Change to different line of work
losing a house or moving
failing a test
low grades
disappointing someone
Begin or end school
Change in living conditions
trouble with teachers
Change in schools
Change in social activities
Change in sleeping habits
trouble with the law
Loss of Trust, Loss of Approval, Loss of Safety and Loss of Control of my body

What are some UNHEALTHY ways to deal with grief?

What are some healthy ways to deal with grief?

Stages of grief:

Denial, Anger, Bargaining (Blame), Depression, Acceptance

Have you ever felt a loss, and gone through those stages? 
Can you go back and forth between those stages?
What helps you get to acceptance? 
How do you think God wants us to feel when we grieve?

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
PSALM 34:17-18The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

When we are sad, disappointed, hurt, or lonely, it is God’s desire to comfort us. Sometimes that comfort comes through other people, through prayer, through reading the Bible. There are lots of ways for us to find comfort, and to heal- but that won’t happen if we isolate ourselves, or don’t talk to safe people who want to see us healthy. 


Discussion: Judging

What does it mean to judge?

Can you think of some negative examples of judging?
Can you think of any positive examples of judging?
Why do people not like to feel like they are being judged?
Is it easy to feel judgement towards others? What sorts of behaviors do you notice that tempt you to judge others? (Do not say names or gesture when answering this question, please)
God’s word (the Bible) warns us about our judging of others, and gives us some guidelines for when it is ok, and under what circumstances. Let’s read it!
Read this passage: 
[1] “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. [2] For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. [3] “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? [4] How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? [5] You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” -Matthew 7:1-5 NIV
So it is a good idea not to judge things too quickly, but we can judge for ourselves whether or not something is right or wrong. Confronting others should be done in love, and with the right attitude after some artful reflection about our own faults for a more humble (& correct) perspective. 
Can you share about a time someone confronted you about something you were doing wrong, and you felt like they really cared about you, and were not condescending or rude as they talked with you?
Are you good at this process?
How can you better interact with others in this way? 
Let’s pray to God for guidance in this. 

Discussion: Perspective

What’s the biggest problem you’ve ever faced?
What’s the biggest worry or fear you have?
What’s the farthest you’ve ever walked? 

How did you feel when you were done with that walk?
If earth were the size of a golfball, then the sun would be big enough to fill a school bus full of golf balls

The next star out I want to talk about is betelgeuse. It’s twice as big as the orbit of earth around the sun. That’s the height of 6 empire state buildings on top of each other if earth were a golf ball.

The next star is the biggest we know about and is called canis majoris. If the earth were a golf ball, this star would be the height of mount everest.

Does that change how you feel about your worries?
Matt 6:31-33

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The way we “seek first his kingdom” is just 2 commandments. 

Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)

-Cyndi (2/14/17)