River Group Discussion Questions for “6” Week 1 Barnabas Teaching
Excerpt from Len Sweet’s insightful book “11 indispensable relationships you can’t be without…”
From page 112.
- Do you have memories of times when you “lost your first love,” when Jesus was more in the grave than out it? Is there anyone who comes to mind who helped move you from a full tomb to an empty one? How did that person encourage you?
2. Name names. Name the Barnabas Withnesses who are helping you move from self-consciousness and self-centeredness to self-surrender and other-centricity. Who boosts your morale? When are you most in a Barnabas mode? Least?
3. Augustine said it will take a lifetime for your heart to be stretched wide enough to contain the beauty and blessings of God. The heart is hollow. You decide what to fill it with. What can we fill our hearts with that will allow them to stretch toward God’s beauty and blessings? To what extent are we ” full of ourselves” and not God?
4. The ancients believed that the self emerged from the activities of the heart. We know now that the primary organ is the brain, but the brain isn’t nearly as useful a metaphor as the heart. There are 592 references to the heart in 550 verses of the Christian Bible. Study a couple of these references. Here are a couple to get you going:
a. “I will remove from your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26).
Are you open to a change of heart? What opens our hearts to change? Do our hearts often need to be cracked open? Cracked open brokenness ? Cracked open by what else?
b.”God has poured out his love into our hearts” (Rom. 5:5)
What things are you allowing to be “poured” into your heart?
5. An open heart will yield new beginnings and surprises. What new beginnings and surprises do you sense God preparing you for right now?
6. What do you think Saint Gregory of Sinai meant when he said ” Only by participating in the truth can you share in the meaning of the truth”?
7. Have you ever noticed that people with a good sense of humor are sick less than those who don’t have a good sense of humor?
8. Do you believe with me that faith and humor are tightly allied? What is one of the running jokes? Are you brave enough to bare one of them? Are you brave enough to laugh with God?
9. Andrew Carnegie once observed firsthand that ” millionaires who laugh are rare”. Does this coincide with your experience of the wealthy? Or does the lack of a sense of humor have more to do with being possessed by possessions and less to do with wealth itself? Explain.
10. ” Fathers and teachers, I ask myself, ‘ What is hell?’ And I answer thus: The suffering of being no longer able to love.” Discuss this quote from Dostoevsky ?
11. The best of saints make the worst of company…Only joking……Or is it true? How crucial is joy? Might the lack of joy be what keeps the best of churches from doing the best of things in the worst of times?
12. Is it always the foods of our childhood that become our ” comfort” foods? Do you have ” comfort foods” that aren’t associated with your childhood?
Why can’t there be such a thing as ” comfort books”? What would some of your favorites be? Here are a couple of mine:
For dealing with all sorts of loss, see Rabbi Alan Abraham Kay’s A Jewish Book of Comfort ( Jason Aronson, 1993)
For the role of the healing and transforming power of love and compassion in the medical world, see Erie Chapman’s outline of his approach to hospital health care in Radical Loving Care ( Baptist Healing Trust, 2003). Have someone do research on the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love founded in 2001 by Stephen Post, professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University, and report back to the group. Read “Why Good Things Happen to Good People ” for some of the results of the IRUL’s ongoing research.
13. Are Big Brothers/ Sisters ideal Barnabases? Take Miriam as a case study. All her life Miriam was a big sister to Moses, beginning when she tracked her baby brother as he floated down the Nile in his waterproof papyrus basket and planted the idea for Pharoah’s daughter to take Moses as her own child and hire Moses’ real mother to nurse her brother until weaning.