Enter Life Series

Series 1 – Genesis 1&2: Awesome God, Amazing You

Can you think of someone you know who doesn’t know at least a few things about the Creation story in Genesis? It’s a pretty universally known story – which isn’t bad for something written in ancient Hebrew thousands of years ago right? Problem is … a lot of people go looking for things in the story that the original writers never wanted to say much about. But … they did want to say some things about the ‘Who and Why’ of Creation: who God is, who we are, and what on earth we’re here for. What they have to tell us is simply life-changing …

Series Outline:

Session 1: Reading Genesis for all it’s worth
Sessions 2-4: The Who and Why of Genesis 1&2: Part 1 – God.
What the writers wanted to show us about who God is, what God is like, and the things God loves to do
Sessions 5-7: The Who and Why of Genesis 1&2: Part 2 – Us.
What the writer of Genesis wanted to show us about who we are and the good desires God formed in us

Some introductions
How not to say ‘You’ve got beautiful eyes’
What do you desire most?

Sessions

1) You and that Story in Genesis
How Genesis, like the Simpsons, could be true in ways you never thought possible
2) God: just never quits creating
There in the beginning right through to the very end, God is present, creating new things we never expected
3) God: creating beauty out of chaos
Emptiness and chaos, at the very beginning and in our lives too, are the things God loves to turn into fresh, new beginnings
4) God: speaking words that bless
Get to know a God who loves to speak good words into a world where bad words are seldom far from us
5) Us: Who Am I Really?
If you’re wondering who you are or what your identity is, the story in Genesis 1 and 2 is a good place to start.
6) Us: What am I Supposed to be Doing Here?
God has created each of us to do significant things with our lives. That’s why we want to know what our purpose in life is and why we feel frustrated when that doesn’t seem to work out.
7) Us: Made to Need Somebody to Love
The God-given desire to have someone to love is one of the deepest we have—it’s also an area of great vulnerability for us. There are good – and broken – ways to satisfy these longings. Where we go searching makes all the difference.

Series 2 – Temptation and Brokenness

An Introduction for Leaders

Sessions

1) What’s the deal with sin and evil?
How the human desire to take God’s place wrecked everything

2) Into temptation … short cuts, substitutes and cheap options
Why we keep trying to satisfy our deep desires with things that have nothing to do with God

3) What we lost – the relationship breakup
A look at how life with us trying to step into God’s shoes works – or doesn’t…

4) The Relationship Rescue Plan
Introducing covenants – the thing God uses to fix what got broken – and how that helps our faith now.

5) The Law – how to keep a Covenant 
What the Law was supposed to do, and not do, for us – and why we ultimately needed something more.

6) The Plan for When Laws get broken – sacrifice and atonement
Facing up to the serious consequences of sin – and how this helps us understand what Jesus eventually had to do

Extra Article:
What about the stuff I can’t seem to shake?
Some help with understanding why some temptations have such a deep hold on us. And what we can do about them.

Series 3 – Drawing Straight with Crooked Lines

Sin wrecks lives and relationships. Since the first act of human rebellion, God set in motion a plan to clean up the damage and restore peace and harmony by calling us to live in a Covenant relationship with him. It turns out that people are pretty bad at keeping Covenants with God. The good news is that God is still able to work with our distracted and fragile efforts, drawing out the straight line of his plan with the crooked paths of our lives. Here are 6 stories about how God does that…

Sessions

1) Men Behaving Badly: David and Sons
Sin wrecks things. Sometimes the damage left by our bad choices is hard to remove. But God draws straight anyway and by grace makes us stronger in the broken places. David’s story is a bit like that. Check it out.

2) Faith in faithless times: Daniel and Friends
Here’s a story to encourage anyone who’s finding it tough to be a faithful Jesus-follower when it feels like not many others are interested in honouring God with their lives …

3) Here for such a time as this: Esther’s story
Does God seem to be missing when things are really getting tough? Here’s a story of a young girl’s courage and faithfulness and an unseen God who does big things through bold and faithful people.

4) A messenger likely to get shot: Isaiah’s Story
God used the Prophets to show people where their life choices were taking them. What Isaiah writes in the first chapter of his book is beautiful, harsh, shocking, sad, hopeful … pretty much like life today.

5) A Whore-wife and crazy kid names: Hosea’s story
Have you ever wondered how God views you? Hosea shows us that God knows we are unfaithful and too easily tempted, but God  will also do whatever it takes to bring us back – again and again.

6) When life is unfair and God is silent – Habakkuk’s Story
Here’s a story for anyone who’s scared and angry about the violence and injustice they see in the world –and who’s wondering where God is and what God is going to do about it.

Series 4 – The Promise

The Relationship Rescue plan that God put into place by making covenants with his people was never really going to work – as long as human beings were generally full of rebellion and empty on faith. No matter how easy or tough life got, people were never able to keep up their end of the covenant deal for very long. The breakdown in the relationship between God and his creation needed a radical fix. It needed a perfect, faithful human to keep our side of the deal. God had promised someone who would do that for hundreds of years. When the Promise arrived, it caught everyone by surprise. Hardly anyone expected THAT …

Sessions

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Linked articles will be posted by Dec 2014. Here’s the series outline for now

1) A Hero With the Least Likely Name and Outfit Ever – the Servant’s Story
Isaiah 52 and 53 reveal how God is going to bring all the crooked lines of peoples’ lives back to the way things God wants them. The Servant is going to come. When he’s done, life will never be the same again.

2) What if God was one of us?
Looking back afterwards no-one could admit that they had the slightest idea of what God was about to do. God became one of us so he would know what it’s like to live in a fragile body in a broken world. Here’s what that means for us …

3) Awesome things we totally didn’t expect
The gospel writers wrote stories to show people that what God had given them in Jesus was far more awesome than they could have expected in their wildest dreams. Here are a few of those stories …

4) A new kind of holiness
Back in those days the religious leaders made sure they were inside the ‘Holy group’ but there were a whole lot of people left stranded on the outside. Enter Jesus, the Holy One, God in the flesh, full of righteousness and grace. Guess which group he wanted to hang out with?

5) Peace with God – guilt and shame free
Imagine you really could relate to God without feeling guilty or embarrassed. That you could really encounter God and experience God’s peace. Jesus’ new Covenant makes all that possible. Here’s how …

6) Rise up: the beginning of a whole new reality
Jesus’ physical departure from earth after he rose from the dead leaves us with a few pretty big questions: where is Jesus now? What is he doing there? What does that mean for people who believe in him now? Here are a few thoughts…

Series 5 – Six Things Jesus Invites us Into

This series homes in on the good things Jesus invites us into. When we’re faced with tough choices about how to live our lives – should I hang out with my smoking/drinking/hooking-up/atheist friends – we need a few things in our backpack: a magnetic, rich vision of what God calls us into; wisdom and insight into what things we just need to stay clear of; and a good idea of the bigger Story in which we find ourselves.

In this series we’re exploring 6 things that Jesus invites us into if we really want to experience the ‘eternal’ kind of life he’s got for us.

Sessions

1) Come (as you are) … and see
Imagine Jesus is standing in front of you asking you what he could do for you. Where do you start?! The first people who got asked that gave a strange reply, what they heard then was even stranger – and incredibly awesome.

2) Stay connected to me … and you will do awesome things
‘Where is God?’ ‘I’ve been falling back into old ways and habits that I really wish I could get away from. What can I do?’
Jesus nails both the problem and the solution to these struggles with something he says in John 15.

3) Ask… and you will receive
Jesus says: Ask! Ask often; ask no matter how much or little faith you think you have; ask for anything – not just what you think are the correct things to ask for. How hard can that be? Well, …

4) Believe … and you’ll discover real life
If you believe what Jesus said is true and find ways to live that out, then Jesus’ promise is that you’ll begin to find your true identity and that you’ll encounter a whole new kind of life – the real one. Here’s what that’s like…

5) Let go of control … and you will find what you’re looking for
one of the main things Jesus invites us to do, goes against some of our deepest instincts: Let go. I’m not sure if it gets more scary than that. Here’s why you should totally do it…

6) Leave your sin behind … and you will find peace
When Jesus says ‘stop doing that!’  he’s not condemning you, he’s being merciful.  Stop trying to find what you long for in broken things. Here are some ideas about how we can do that.

Series 6 – Grace, so much more than just what you don’t deserve

One of the paradoxes of living life with Jesus is that in order to get better at it we need to let go of our obsession with trying harder. A large part of that is about learning to receive and rely on grace as a free gift. Grace is not (just) about God treating us the way we don’t deserve. Grace is so much more – something invisible yet immensely powerful that brings life and lasting change to us. We access grace by putting ourselves in a position to receive it, and by choosing each day to do things that keep us in the flow of grace. We treat grace as something costly that demands things like repentance, discipline and efforts to show others what grace is doing in our world.

The Bible writers promised us that if we learn to rely on grace we will find ourselves surprised and encouraged at the change in our lives. We’ll start finding that we can do the things we want to do and not do the things we don’t want to do … It might seem as if there’s a whole new power and strength working inside us – which is exactly what grace – and this series – is about.

Sessions

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Linked articles will be posted by Dec 2014. Here’s the series outline for now

1) Grace that saved (and saves) us
Far more than just ‘getting what I don’t deserve’, Grace is about God’s presence and power in our lives that breathes new life into us and makes us truly human. Here’s a fresh take on a mysterious subject…

2) The power to be and become
Sometimes it seems like, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t change what we do or who we are – no matter how much we want to. The answer isn’t to keep trying harder – to truly change, we’ve got to allow God’s grace to work in us. How does that work? Here are some ideas …

3) Experiencing grace
Grace is invisible, but also immensely powerful. It’s not always easy tapping into that power. We have to be willing to let go of the control of our lives we hold on to so tightly, and sit back as God does His thing. Here’s how you could do that.

4) Cheap and costly grace
If we use grace as a ‘Get-Out-of-Jail-Free’ card we lose its power to really fix the stuff we’re struggling with. God’s grace is there to change you, not just take away your guilt. What does ‘costly’ grace look like? Check this out …

5) Making grace visible
What if we were able to see the beautiful swirling currents of grace when God is at work in the world around us? Wouldn’t that be amazing? Turns out that we are the Infra-red cameras that make the grace hot-spots visible to people who can’t see them. Here’s how you can be a better grace-bearer.

6) Celebrating grace at work in others too
It can be hard when grace is more visible in someone else’s life than ours. Here’s some help for dealing with that and how an old, old song can help us celebrate what God does – no matter whose life it’s in.

Series 8 – Connecting to God in Prayer

In my experience as a youth pastor, prayer was typically something everybody agreed was a great idea but few people actually ever took seriously…

In these six sessions we search out what the person we are praying to is like and try to catch a glimpse of what’s going on in that mysterious prayer space. Then we turn the focus onto some good, practical stuff about where, how and when prayer can come alive for us

Series Outline:

Introducing this series

Part 1: Who or what are we praying to?
1) So Who or What is it We’re Praying To?
A brief exploration of how we can understand the Trinity and seven words that describe the kind of life we draw near to when we pray.
2) The Relationship that Welcomes Us In
Exploring the amazing invitation we have to join the Relationship at the center of the Universe.
3) What Happens When we Pray?
How the Holy Spirit helps us to listen and speak to God by listening and speaking for us – and the freedom that gives our prayers.

Part 2: Exploring ways to help prayer come alive
4) Believe This or Not – God Delights in You
Prayer becomes enjoyable when we realise God delights in us, God hears us, and God loves to talk to us.
5) When Prayer Comes Alive
Some practical ideas for making personal prayer more enjoyable.
6) Help for Those Who Have Prayer A.D.D.
Some encouragement to keep praying when God seems silent