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People are the pinnacle of God's creative work, and he is in relentless pursuit of a relationship with each of us.
Sometimes in life we just need to get back to the basics. The bedrock. The foundation.
The story is told of the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, starting the season by holding up a game ball and saying with slow clarity, "Gentlemen, this is a football." Similarly, to help his basketball players focus on the fundamentals, the great UCLA coach, John Wooden, would begin each season by teaching his team how to correctly put on their socks and tie their shoes. He believed there was a right way to do these simple tasks and that these acts impacted the rest of the game.
Both Lombardi and Wooden were very successful. Their insistence on putting "first things first" led their teams to many victories. Without a solid foundation, they both knew that the results would not have been as glorious.
Chapter 1 of The Story is God's version of "This is a football," or "This is how we put on our socks and tie our shoes." These opening pages provide the foundational building blocks. God is Creator and initiator. People are the crown of his creative activity. God wants to be in relationship with us. Though people messed up and embraced sin rather than their Creator, God loves us so desperately that he will do whatever it takes to build a bridge back to a relationship with us.
What a story! What a God!
Talk About It
What is a place in creation that really reveals God's glory to you and helps you feel close to him?
DVD Teaching Notes
As you watch the video segment for session 1, use the following outline to record anything that stands out to you.
God's Big Idea ... the point of the story is to be with us
The result of rejecting God's vision
The Upper and Lower Story perspectives of Cain and Abel's conflict
God's relentless efforts to get us back
1. When God looked at creation and declared it both "good" and "very good," what do you think he was trying to express?
Randy suggested that God looks at you and says, "Looking at you is better than an ocean view ... or watching a sunrise." How does that make you feel?
What is the apple of God's eye? The magnum opus of his work? PEOPLE—US! Go figure, but it's true.
2. Genesis 1:26–27 (The Story, pp. 2–3) says that we are made in the image of God. How do we, as people, actually reflect the image of God?
3. If you could take a walk with God in the perfect garden of paradise, just like you would with a friend, what would you ask him and why?
4. In a normal day, what gets in the way of you taking a walk with God and talking about what is on your heart?
5. Even though Adam and Eve began walking in perfect fellowship with their Maker, God still gave them freedom to reject this perfect life. What does this spiritual reality say about the power of the choices we make each day?
6. Adam and Eve made a choice to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They rejected God's vision for their lives and declared that they wanted to run their own universe and be their own god. How do you see that same sinful desire and behavior in our lives today and how does it influence our daily walk with God?
God's grand vision was to go on walks with his children; to be in their presence. God creates the Lower Story so he can come down from the Upper Story and do life with us.
7. If God truly loved Adam and Eve, why would he throw them out of the garden? Randy said that God's choice to drive Adam and Eve out of the garden was really an "act of grace." Do you agree or disagree with his statement and why do you feel this way?
8. What are ways to identify that we are about to enter into sinful and rebellious actions and how can we stop before we have crossed the line?
9. Read movement 1 of The Story (p. 10 of this participant's guide). What is the big theme of this first movement?
As you take time to pray, here are some ideas to get you started:
Ask God to help you appreciate the beauty of his creation and to be a good steward and caretaker of the world he has made. Give praise to God for the people in your life who have revealed his grace, love, and presence to you. Pray for wisdom and discernment to recognize Satan's tactics as he tries to deceive you and the people you care about.
Take time this week to meditate on the depth of God's love for human beings. Why would he keep pursuing us even after we have rebelled and rejected him? How can you express thanks for his seeking love? What can you do to celebrate the good news that God pursues you, even when you are not embracing his will and desires for you?
Take a walk outside and notice the beauty of what God has made. Look at the intricacies of a leaf or the expanse of the sky. Thank God for making this amazing world. As you walk, seek to talk to God as though you were two friends walking in a garden. Tell him about your life, feelings, joys, and fears. Ask him to help you learn to walk with him each and every day.
Read for Next Session
Take time before your next small group to read chapter 2 of The Story.
Excerpted from The Story Adult Curriculum Participant's Guide by Randy Frazee Copyright © 2011 by Randy Frazee. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
A Word from the Authors 7
Getting Started: The Heart of the Story and Our Story 9
1 Creation: The Beginning of Life as We Know It 13
2 God Builds a Nation 19
3 Joseph: From Slave to Deputy Pharaoh 25
4 Deliverance 31
5 New Commands and a New Covenant 37
6 Wandering 43
7 The Battle Begins 49
8 A Few Good Men ... and Women 55
9 The Faith of a Foreign Woman 61
10 Standing Tall, Falling Hard 67
11 From Shepherd to King 73
12 The Trials of a King 81
13 The King Who Had It All 89
14 A Kingdom Torn in Two 95
15 God's Messengers 101
16 The Beginning of the End (of the Kingdom of Israel) 107
17 The Kingdoms' Fall 113
18 Daniel in Exile 119
19 The Return Home 125
20 The Queen of Beauty and Courage 131
21 Rebuilding the Walls 137
22 The Birth of the King 143
23 Jesus' Ministry Begins 149
24 No Ordinary Man 155
25 Jesus, the Son of God 161
26 The Hour of Darkness 167
27 The Resurrection 173
28 New Beginnings 179
29 Paul's Mission 187
30 Paul's Final Days 193
31 The End of Time 199
Posted November 1, 2013