Sudden Impact: Powerful Encounters with the Real Jesus

Sudden Impact: Powerful Encounters with the Real Jesus

by Mark Ashton

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The Reality Check series makes just one assumption: that you’re serious enough about your spiritual journey to investigate Christianity with an open mind. This isn’t about joining anyone’s religious club—it’s about being real with yourself and with the others in your group. Since no one has all the answers, there’s plenty of room for discussion. After all, if there is any truth to the Bible’s stories about Jesus, then one thing he’d welcome are questions and opinions that come from honest, earnest hearts.Whatever your opinion is of Jesus, you can’t deny his impact. Men left their careers to follow him. Prostitutes and extortionists reformed their ways. Grief-stricken women regained lost loved ones. One religious leader sought his wisdom while others sought to kill him. Taking a compelling look at six very different encounters with Jesus and their impact on real, flesh-and-blood people, Sudden Impact helps you consider how you might respond if Jesus entered your own world and turned it upside down. Sudden Impact includes these sessions: The Professor The Roof Smashers The Corpse Soldiers and Criminals The Prostitute The Blue-Collar Man and the IRS AgentFor the Group LeaderReality Check is for spiritual seekers of every persuasion. Uncompromisingly Christian in its perspective, it steers wide of pat answers and aims at honesty. This innovative and thought-provoking series will challenge you and those in your group to connect heart to heart as together you explore the interface between Jesus, the Bible, and the realities of this world in which we live.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310867975
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 02/23/2010
Series: Reality Check
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 80
File size: 749 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Mark Ashton is the director of seeker small groups at Willow Creek Community Church. In addition, he supervises the staff for more than 40 new believer groups, 80 seeker groups, and Willow's Internationals ministry. He is also the director of TruthQuest - Willow's ministry that answers tough questions about Jesus and Christianity. Mark is a frequent speaker at conferences and is the author of Absolute Truth?

Read an Excerpt

Watch a clip from the last scene of Father of the Bride, Part 2. In this scene, George Banks (Steve Martin) is in the hospital. Both his wife and his daughter, Annie, are in labor.
If you've birthed children, tell your best labor and delivery story. If you've adopted a child, tell about the 'birth pangs' of paperwork, seeing first photos, and meeting that child for the first time. If you are not a parent, discuss where your parents (or friends) told you babies came from.
Read John 3:1 -- 21
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, 'Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.'
In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.'
'How can a man be born when he is old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!'
Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it
pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'
'How can this be?' Nicodemus asked.
'You are Israel's teacher,' said Jesus, 'and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven---the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.'
1. What facts can we gather about Nicodemus from the first couple of sentences?
2. Jesus' initial response doesn't seem to go with the flow of the conversation. Why do you think he responded as he did?
Jesus and Nicodemus had very different views of the concept 'born again.' People today often mean something different from both of these options when they use the term 'born again.' Let's compare the ideas of Nicodemus, Jesus, and people today related to what being 'born again' means. Fill out this chart together as a group.
What Does the Phrase 'Born Again' Mean to You?
4. What parallels are there between a 'spiritual' birth and a 'physical' birth?
5. Jesus is very strong and straightforward in his approach with this professor. If you were Nicodemus, how would you be feeling at this point?
6. 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him' are some of the most famous words in all the Bible. Pick out all the action words (verbs) from these two sentences. When it comes to eternal life, what is God's role and what response does he desire from us? 7. Assume for a moment that Jesus' claim is true: that he is God's only Son. Would it then be arrogant for him to make the narrow claim, 'Whoever does not believe stands condemned already'? Support your answer.
8. In this passage, light represents truth while darkness represents lies. A person moves into the light simply by living according to the truth. We all know someone who has been afraid of moving toward truth in at least one area of life. Tell of a time when you or someone you know (who should remain nameless) had a relational, emotional, or spiritual breakthrough by facing the truth.
How would you compare your own search for God with Nicodemus' search? Explain.
___ Less academic
___ More straightforward
___ More relational
___ Less secretive
___ Less dogmatic
___ Other
Where are you in your understanding of spiritual life---still in the dark, moving closer to the light, or . . . (you fill it in)?

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