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1: A Semi Charmed Life (Discussion Guide)


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First session of the "Myth of Happiness" discussion guide.

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1: A Semi Charmed Life (Discussion Guide)

  1. 1. A Semi-Charmed Life "Most Christians I know have just enough of the Gospel to make them miserable, but not enough to make them joyful" -- Tony Campolo "Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian." -- G.K. Chesterton Why write book? - Grace -> Whats So Amazing About Grace?, Les Mis, Babettes Feast - Joy -> ????1. What words come to mind when you think of the word "joy"? Write them down. Want to revisit this at end of the series. Hard to define. "defining it is much trying to hold Jell-O in your hands - when we try to explain what joy means, it ends up slipping out the sides looking like something else -- usually happiness, peace, or gladness. But biblical joy is distinct from each of these words.2. Biblically speaking, is joy the same thing as happiness? No! No! No! But we treat it as such. Popular culture - Heard it twice on TV over the weekend Life takes joy. Life takes MasterCard. Almond Joy candy bar Christian books: The Joy of Serving The Joy of Prayer The Joy of Financial Freedom As a result -- the nature of joy can become muddied. Joy can sound like a fringe benefit when we behave a certain way or perform a given activity. When we make joy = happiness: • joy no longer exists as a permanent trait of our Christ-filled life, • It becomes something more superficial - a reflection of our mood or emotional state. Princess Bride example - page 16
  2. 2. 3. How joyful are you right now in your life? What factors are producing it? Orhindering it? Scale 1-10. Joy Busters Discouragement Fear Grumbling Guilt Unforgiveness4 . "Thirst, seek, and settle" is a common life cycle for unbelievers and believersalike. What do you think that cycle is? What do people thirst for? - Jenna as great example Do most people attain what they are seeking? What is the common result? Yes -> Didnt fulfill. Seek something else. No -> Settling. "I want something else to get me through this semi-charmed kind of life." -- Third Eye Blind, "Semi-Charmed Life"5. Have you experienced this cycle in your life?6. What is the common, almost clichéd response to settling? Mid-life crisis What is the common end-result of this crisis? Thirst->Seek->Settle->Crisis Seek->Resign "I know see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked." -- The Screwtape Letters Settle sounds negative. Is settling always a bad thing? Can be contentment -> great thing, a joyful thing.
  3. 3. 7. Read John 15:11, Luke 6:23, Gal. 5:22-23, Phil. 4:4, and 1 Thes. 5:16. Constrastthese promises and exhortations with something Tony Campolo once said,"MostChristians I know have just enough of the Gospel to make them miserable, but notenough to make them joyful". John 15:11 - our joy will be complete Luke 6:23 - leap for joy Gal. 5:22-23 - Holy Spirit will produce a lasting joy inside of us Phil. 4:4 - to be joyful always 1 Thes. 5:16 - to rejoice always Explain this "joy gap" -- -- a separation between the promises of Scriptureand the very real letdown they experience in their daily lives.8. Does the joy that is described in these passages reflect what you regularlyexperience in your Christian walk? If not, do you think this joy is somethingrealistically attainable on a day-in, day-out basis? What are some factors in our world that make it easy for us to become confused with what true joy is?9. Read Ecc. 1:2, 18. How is Solomon an example of a believer living a joyless life?Can you think of other people in the Bible or Christian history who suffered asimilar "joy gap"? Ecc. 1:2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecc. 1:18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. Solomon possessed unmatched wisdom and wealth. More than anyone else, he should have been the poster child for a joy-filled life. Yet Solomons blessings only brought him confusion over what could offer lasting joy, peace, and meaning. The book of Ecclesiastes, reveals his true spiritual state - its the most joy-starved entry in the entire Bible. • Newly freed Israelites • New Testament letters - written to correct bad teaching that was robbing the church of joy - "What has happened to your joy?" Paul is asking the Galatians. • Martin Luther - personal life - joy wasnt a quality he naturally exhibited.
  4. 4. 10. How does the dynamic "real time" nature of our lives influence our ability tolive joy? Our faith can become preoccupied and dependent on "on demand" results. Joy comes and goes in proportion to the "real time" state of our lives. When things are good, we radiate joy to everyone. But when times are rough, our shoulders slump in defeat and discouragement. Ever hear of the term "pidgin English"? What does it mean? p. 1911. What are some ways in which we water down biblical joy and live out "pidginjoy"? A broken, lesser version of the real thing.12. How big of a deal is joy to the Christian life? Thesis: While grace is Gods priceless gift to the unsaved, joy is his most tangible and transformative gift that he gives to his followers this side of heaven. Joy is dynamic proof of our future hope as believers and our greatest distinguisher to a cynical world held hostage by lifes circumstances. G.K. Chesterton - "Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian"WhileHow is joy the most tangible and transformative gift that God gives to believer while onearth?We often use the word "joy" differently than how it used in the Bible. Do you think ofjoy as being the same as happiness?Friday Night LightsLars and the Real Girl7:00pmSullivan 101Next meeting:
  5. 5. Jan 30 instead of Feb 6