WISDOM: WEEKLY CONTENT – JULY 2017
This month’s conversation is based on the following weekly podcasts:
“They show you how to know wisdom and teaching, to find the words of understanding. They help you learn about the ways of wisdom and what is right and fair.” (Proverbs 1: 2-3).
This month we are looking at the Wisdom Tradition focusing on the ancient biblical texts of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. These books are said to put an emphasis on understanding and attaining wisdom for all areas of life, including our relationships with God and with one another.
Week 1 – Wisdom Part 1: Meet Your Sister
This week Rob Bell introduces the series and its inspiration, along with setting the scene for what wisdom is and how it can be relevant to us today by look at ‘Proverbs wisdom’.
Click here to download the podcast: Week 1 Podcast (left click to play, right click for downloading options)
Week 1 – Some House Church discussion topics:
Something we asked at the Monthly Gathering is why bother doing a series like this? Has anyone in your group looked into these Wisdom books before? Invite them to share their experience or if they found anything helpful.
At the beginning of our conversation, discuss what you think wisdom is. Reflect on where your own everyday wisdom comes from. ie. how do you make decisions? What are your compass points for navigating the complex world we live in?
Rob comments that these writings from several thousand years ago address the same issues we are battling with today. What do you think these are?
Proverbs presents wisdom as a woman who has been present since the beginning of the world. What the? Discuss.
“Fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom” (Prov 9:10). The podcast has a story about Rob and Kristen out at sea on their paddle boards with a whale swimming under them and surfacing between them. It moves them to tears as they are stuck by fear of something great, which is not seeking to harm them. Have you ever experienced something like this? How would this kind of ‘fear’ be helpful is approaching wisdom and God?
Are their any proverbs you already take on board? Perhaps read a few and have a look for some that resonate with you and share them with someone else.
Week 2 – Wisdom Part 2: Welcome To Your Heart
This week Rob Bell continues with Proverbs Wisdom with a practical look on how you your heart matters and you should “guard your heart for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4). It is the centre of your being and we need to keep it fully alive. Listen to find out how…
Proverbs 15:15 Every day is a terrible day for a miserable person, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Click here to download the podcast: Week 2 Podcast (left click to play, right click for downloading options)
Week 2 – Some House Church discussion topics:
Perhaps a good way to refresh and being the discussion this week would be to listen to the last five minutes of the podcast from 27:00 to 33:00 as a group and then discuss.
Rob asks us to reflect: “What is it that keep your heart fully alive? And have you drifted from those things?”
Do you find yourself asking “is this it?” This is a question coming from the heart. Listen. This is Wisdom “throwing rocks at your windows” telling you to get back to your heart.
We are a complex mix. Both laughter a grief and often all sorts of emotions and feelings. Do you agree? What are you feeling tonight?
“Wisdom always invites you to gain more wisdom… It’s about knowing how to live in the world in a vital way in which your fully alive.” What would it be like if you had a week or a whole month of seeking wisdom and applying it? Healthy food for the heart and soul. Challenge yourself to make wisdom practical this week and as a group keep each other accountable.
Week 3 – Wisdom Part 3: You The Steward
“You possess great energy and power and your joy is greatly related to how you excerise and express this energy… You are the steward of your energy”.
Click here to download the podcast: Week 3 Podcast (left click to play, right click for downloading options)
Week 3 – Some House Church discussion topics:
In this week’s podcast, Rob asks us to think of our energy like a resource; a “sacred, precious, limited resource and you are the steward of this resources”. He notes that in the Wisdom Tradition the highest goal is right relationship, with yourself and your world… the goal is the proper exercise of your power in the world.
The podcast suggests that Wisdom asks us to reflect on many questions around our energy and time, and to think about how we spend our time. Ask yourselves…
What drains you of energy and what energises you?
What do you want? What do you want your life to be about? What is important to you? Are there things that you put your energy into helping you achieve these things?
Do you have a larger cause to give your energy to? Is there something you keep talking about doing, but the talking is taking energy away from actually doing that thing?
Luke tells of someone asking Jesus to “tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me”. He responds with “Man, who appointed me to be a judge between you?” He is focused. He is engaged, and this is not one of the focuses. Do you know what your focus is? Because without a focus we can get pulled all over the place.
Week 4 – Wisdom Part 4: Life, Death, and Vegetables
A goal of this study of Wisdom is that people are equiped to stand strong and grounded in our world today. In this week’s podcast, Rob seeks to share what he has found to underpin the Wisdom tradition. It is the notion that life and death are present modes of being. Not just outcomes of our natural state. Wisdom sees there is ongoing choice in how we relate to our world and whether that brings life or death to our present. Wisdom is about knowing how to live well in the world.
Life and death are realities you are steeping into right here and now. You have the power to choose in every moment. What brings life? What doesn’t? “Better to eat a small meal of vegetables than a fatten calf of hatred”.
Click here to download the podcast: Week 4 Podcast (left click to play, right click for downloading options)
Week 4 – Some House Church discussion topics:
There are a bunch of interesting and deep concepts in this week’s podcast. Much of which merits substantial time to digest and discuss. Here are a few bite sized chunks to get your appetite up and hopefully transition the concepts into personal and practical.
The natural state of the universe is becoming.. there’s no plateau or static state… You are either expanding and growing and joining the energy of life that or you are going the other direction – backwards towards a shrinking existence that we can call despair or death. This begs the question.. Is it possible for anything to be static? Not changing?
Death: Proverbs Ch. 5 talks of a lack of discipline or destructive choices (ch. 7) leading to death. Not that your heart will physically stop beating, but your choices will cause your present life to shrink and lack freedom.
Are there any destructive choices in your life that you are still carrying? Consider looking those choices in the eye and asking what it would take to move on and into life.
What about relationships? Is there anyone you need to apologise to? Wisdom encourages us to use our apologies to allow life to come to yourself and the other.
Life: Living is a greater sense of freedom, possibility, joy, and growth. It is independent of your material circumstances, but is deep within. Everything is connected and related. “This joy is related to all joy” An echo of the same sound. That the natural response to life and joy is to pass it on, to take part in a much larger exchange and economy – the flow. Jesus talked about the renewal of all things. The great possibilities of life and growth and change.
How do you naturally approach change? Does the uncertainty bring expectations of joy and growth? Or worry and fear?
Rob says he made the choice to live without asking ‘what if?’ Is there any time in your past or present where ‘what if?’ has held you back from doing what would have brought you life? What are you going to do about remedying this?
The biggest question to ask yourself as much as possible this week throughout your many circumstances and interaction is: What brings life here and what brings death? Perhaps (if you feel comfortable) ask Wisdom/God/Spirit/Jesus to give you the strength to choose life and to know the difference.
Week 5 – The Simple and the Subtle
This week we’ll jump to Part 7 of the Rob Bell series on the Wisdom Tradition, as this particular one is extra relevant to the Open House community. Part 5 is also great and is on ‘How To Read The News’, and Part 6 we did in a prior series this year. Both of these are definitely worth a listen, but for now we’ll go forward with ‘The Simple and the Subtle’.
Click here to download the podcast: Week 5 Podcast (left click to play, right click for downloading options)
Week 5 – Some House Church discussion topics:
Rob shares something he’s been sitting on for a while… a deep truth found in the Wisdom Tradition which brings hope to all seekers. It is the notion that the Wise recognise that life is full of subtleties. There is a complexity to life and it is prudent to accept this. Let’s start with recognising that this is difficult! Is it hard to stand toe to toe with your faith and doubts. Or to make judgments. Or to challenge your own morals and motivating ideas and practices. It is not simple… it is full of subtleties.
Open House discussion: Most things in life are not ‘simple’. Look at Open House – the very ethos or main thinking behind our community finds it’s strength and unity in the culture of subjectivity ie. people are encouraged to think and own their individual journeys, even if it is different to others within the group. We encourage people from a vast array of ideas and beliefs to openly dialogue, share, and wrestle with those ways of thinking and living. It recognises that people within our community are sitting with the notion that belief and practice of those beliefs isn’t a simple thing. However, this same ethos provides great challenges for our community. What do you think these are?
Theological discussion: In simple (ha ha!) terms, initially the early church was responsible for collecting and recording accounts of Jesus’ life and teaching and also letters centred around the outworking of this faith. Then during the next few hundred years, theologians decided what would make up the New Testament. This bring us to the creeds. During the years 120-500 (and then much again in the Reformation and 20th century) skilled theologians have tried to create sets of statements of shared beliefs in the hope of nailing down a unifying core of ideas for a group of people. These are called creeds or confessions of faith. Discuss the notion of the simple and subtle in determining statements of belief.
Personal reflection/discussion: Rob mentions Jesus’ story of the prodigal son and how the father or ‘God’ figure says that the son always has everything he needs. ‘You ask and you will receive’. This is expanded to note that it is wise to see the subtleties and nuances in life, but before we get overwhelmed or burdened down with the weight of possibilities and shifting sands, there is hope that wisdom and God offer all we need to navigate through these subtleties. Wisdom is on your side! Reflect on where you are at on your own spiritual journey. How are you holding the tension between beliefs and subtleties, faith and doubt? What tools do you have to help process your own reflections? Are they currently effective?