The Daniel Dilemma Study Guide: How to Stand Firm and Love Well in a Culture of Compromise

The Daniel Dilemma Study Guide: How to Stand Firm and Love Well in a Culture of Compromise

by Chris Hodges

Paperback(Study Guid)

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Overview

As Christians, we have real hope in Jesus that we have been called to share with others. But how we share that hope makes a difference. In a world that rejects everything we believe, we face a dilemma: how do we walk closely with God without caving in to pressure or alienating those we want to reach?

In this six-session video Bible study, Chris Hodges looks at the lives of both Daniel and Jesus, showing how we can stand for our biblical beliefs without being hostile or insulting to others. We can stand up for God's truth in a morally corrupt culture–while still loving others–because the goal is never about winning the argument but about winning hearts. As Jesus demonstrated, when we connect with others before we correct them, we can handle the hard questions without compromising God's grace or truth.

Chris offers fresh insights and practical ideas to encourage Christians struggling with their cultural reality to hold God's standards high and to keep his grace deep–just as Jesus did, and just as his followers today are called to do.

The Daniel Dilemma Study Guide includes video discussion questions, Bible exploration, and personal study and reflection materials for in-between sessions.

Sessions include:

  1. In the World but Not of It
  2. Identity Theft
  3. You Are What You Worship
  4. Who's the Boss?
  5. Divided, Distracted, and Disturbed
  6. What the World Needs Now

Designed for use with the Daniel Dilemma Video Study (sold separately).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310088578
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 10/17/2017
Edition description: Study Guid
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 594,456
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Chris Hodges is the founding and senior pastor of Church of the Highlands. Under his leadership, Church of the Highlands has launched campuses all across the state of Alabama and has grown to more than 45,000 people attending weekly. He also cofounded the Association of Related Churches, launched a coaching network called GROW, and serves as chancellor of Highlands College, a two-year ministry training college. Chris and his wife, Tammy, have five children and live in Birmingham, Alabama.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

In the World but Not of It

Truth without grace is mean. Grace without truth is meaningless. Truth and grace together are good medicine.

CHRIS HODGES

Getting Started

"Does it really matter what this movie is rated?"

"How should I vote on issues that contradict my beliefs?"

"When is it appropriate for me to bring up my faith with my coworkers of different faiths?"

Sound familiar? More and more Christians today are asking questions like these as they grapple with how to live out their faith in that world that seems to change at dizzying speed. We all feel the struggle between standing firm in our faith while loving others. Or, as Jesus described it, being in the world but not of it (see John 17:16).

It can be difficult to navigate. But as followers of Jesus, we have an important message to share. Jesus commanded us to go into the world and "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19), and his sacrifice on the cross makes it possible for all people — no matter how different they might seem from us — to find hope in a relationship with the living God. When those around us experience his forgiveness, they can begin living in the freedom of his grace.

The challenge, of course, occurs when our beliefs, convictions, practices, and lifestyles collide with those of the people we are trying to reach. God's Word instructs us to go one way, but they insist on going their own way. In such situations, we are faced with the responsibility to stand firm in our faith while continuing to love others like Jesus loves them.

Finding balance while living in this tension is what The Daniel Dilemma is all about. While the book focuses on the prophet Daniel's example of living faithfully within the secular culture of Babylon, in this study we will focus on the issues Daniel faced — issues we still face today — with Jesus as our model and guide. As challenging and frustrating as it may feel sometimes, there is a way to stand strong and love well.

So let's get started!

First Impressions

For this first session, go around the group and introduce yourselves to one another, and then answer the following questions:

What one word would you choose to describe your feelings about starting this study? How does this word reflect your expectations?

How have you experienced the tension between loving others where they are in life and standing firm to God's principles in the Bible?

Video Teaching

Play the video segment for session 1. As you watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts, questions, or points that stand out to you.

Notes

Being in the world but not of it

Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane

Three things to help us navigate the tension:

Lord, sanctify me

Lord, solidify me

Lord, send me

We're all called to make a difference

Group Discussion

Take a few minutes with your group members to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts in Scripture.

1. In the video, Chris shares about making changes in his life after becoming a Christian. What changes did you make after inviting Jesus into your life?

2. How did others, especially your family and friends, respond when they saw the changes you made after becoming a follower of Jesus?

3. Read John 17:13–19. What surprises you most about Jesus' prayer, considering that he was about to die the next day?

4. Why do you think Jesus asks God not to take his followers out of the world?

5. What comes to mind when you hear the word sanctified at the end of this passage? What does sanctified mean to you?

6. Jesus said, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). What does it mean for you to let your light shine where others can see it?

Individual Activity

Close out today's session by completing this short activity on your own.

1. Briefly review the video outline and any notes you took.

2. In the space below, write down the most significant point you took away from this session — from the teaching, activities, or discussions.

What I want to remember from this session is ...

Closing Prayer

Go around the room and share any personal prayer requests you'd like the group to pray about. Conclude your session by praying for these requests together. Ask God to work in each of your hearts throughout the week as you reflect on all you've covered during this first meeting.

BETWEEN-SESSIONS PERSONAL STUDY

You're invited to begin reading Chris's exploration of Daniel as a model for how to stand strong and love well in The Daniel Dilemma. This week, read the introduction and, in preparation for session 2, read section 1, chapters 1–3, on "Culture's Greatest Impact — Confused Identities." The questions and exercises provided in this section are not intended to burden you with homework between group sessions but simply to help you receive the greatest benefit from reading the book and applying its principles to your own life. Write your responses and reflections here or in a journal or notebook dedicated to this study. There will be time for you to share your thoughts at the beginning of the next session.

Reflection

In the video this week, Chris shared about the early struggles he experienced with his girlfriend and his buddies after he committed his life to Jesus. Although he was terrified of their responses, he discovered God had uniquely prepared the way for him to tell others about his faith. Spend a few minutes today reflecting on your faith journey since you first made the decision to accept God's gift of salvation in Jesus.

What have been the high points — times when you felt especially close to God and reflected this to others?

What have been the low points — times when you've drifted away from God or become swept up in worldly pursuits?

How have these highs and lows influenced your present ability to find the balance between standing firm and loving well?

Application

In the introduction, Chris cites the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 as one of his favorite examples of Jesus balancing truth and love. The religious leaders tried to trap Jesus into saying something they could use against him, but he turned the tables on them while still caring for the poor woman they had humiliated:

As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

"Teacher," they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?" ...

They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!" Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?"

"No, Lord," she said.

And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more" (John 8:3–5, 7–11 NLT).

Who do you identify with most in this scene — the woman or the religious legalists? Why?

Chris explains, "[Jesus] doesn't condemn the woman like the religious legalists; instead, he shows her grace. But he doesn't let her off the hook either; he tells her to 'go and sin no more.' Jesus avoids the extremes of either-or by displaying both love and righteousness." Do you agree with Chris's explanation? Why or why not?

How have you faced a confrontational situation like this? What role did you play? Did you end up experiencing more grace or more judgment?

Thinking back over your life, when has someone demonstrated the same balance Jesus displays here, showing you both love and righteousness?

Action

Finding spiritual balance involves engaging with the world without allowing it to pull you away from God. Would you describe yourself as someone who is currently too immersed in the world? Or someone who is too detached from the world? Explain your answer.

Engaging with the world in ways that demonstrate both strength and compassion requires constant reliance on God, his Word, and the Holy Spirit. Choose a place where you presently engage with the world around you on a regular basis. It might be your workplace, the local shopping mall, your school, your health club, or a city park. If possible, visit that place today and spend a few minutes walking through it and around it. Pray silently for God to use you there as someone like Daniel — a person who influenced those around him. Ask God to show you how you can demonstrate the love of Christ to others there.

Reflect on your experience after completing this exercise, and ask God to show you areas where you may be too engaged with the world and its influence. Ask him to search you and help you identify anything (shows, movies, websites, social media, music, places, people) that is pulling you away from your relationship with him. Take the necessary steps to remove these influences from your life.

This week, read the introduction and, in preparation for session 2, read part 1, "Culture's Greatest Impact" (chapters 1–3), in The Daniel Dilemma. Use the space below to note any key points or questions you want to share at the beginning of your next group meeting.

CHAPTER 2

Identity Theft

Our identities shift when we value those looking at the art more than the Artist.

CHRIS HODGES

Getting Started

Have you ever been whitewater rafting? Depending on the speed and depth of the river, you can experience anything from a comfortable float to high-intensity rapids. In fact, you will probably experience both of those in the same river, often going back and forth between the two without a lot of notice.

Engaging with culture often feels the same way. Even though we may have a lot of healthy confidence in our faith, each day we still end up in some rough waters, where today's culture tries to pull us away from whom God created us to be. Each time we make it through that section and into calmer waters, we know another rapid is just around the corner. That's the world we live in. There is constant tension between who God says we are and who the world says we should be.

This is why it's so important to dwell on the certainty of who God says you are and live out the purpose he made you for. In Jeremiah 1:5, God says, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Intertwined with who you are is God's unique purpose for your life.

Once you understand this purpose, you will know your true identity. While other people and cultural forces may attempt to define you, their false labels won't stick. Knowing who God made you to be keeps you anchored in his will and influences every decision you make and every risk you take.

Purpose is your identity in action, and when you're secure in that identity, your impact will make an eternal difference.

First Impressions

Go around the group and answer the following questions:

What are some ways that our society tries to label people?

Looking back at your notes, what stood out to you in your between-session studies that you would like to share with the group?

Video Teaching

Play the video for session 2. As you watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts, questions, or points that stand out to you.

Notes

The world tries to erode our God-given identity

Jesus' seven "I am" statements in the book of John

Two ways we find purpose in life:

Go to the Source

Look at our design

Four things we need to know about our purpose:

I am a minister

I have a specific purpose

I have an opportune time

I can make an eternal difference

Group Discussion

Take a few minutes with your group members to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts in Scripture.

1. In the video, Chris says our families, environments, and cultures often shape the way we see ourselves. How did these factors influence your view of yourself when you were growing up? After entering adulthood?

2. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "no clue" and 10 being "absolutely certain," where are you in your awareness of your God-given identity and purpose? Explain.

3. What person, event, or experience has helped you discover more of your true identity and purpose in life? Why did this catalyst have such a powerful impact on you?

4. Chris explained the four areas of God's identity for us: each of us is a minister, with a specific purpose, at an opportune time, to make an eternal difference. How do you see yourself as a minister with a specific purpose?

5. What are some of the opportunities God has given to you to make a difference for him?

6. A popular song some years back encouraged listeners to "live like you're dying." What does this mean to you? How would awareness of this affect your daily choices?

Individual Activity

Close out today's session by completing this short activity on your own.

1. Take a few minutes to review the video outline and any notes you took.

2. In the space below, write down the most significant point you took away from today's teaching, activities, or discussions.

What I want to remember from this session is ...

Closing Prayer

Take some time to go around the group and share any personal prayer requests, and then close this session by praying together as a group. In addition to praying over the group's requests, thank God for creating each of you uniquely and having a special purpose for every person in the room. Finish by asking him to strengthen your true identity and reinforce your divine purpose so you can shine your light in a dark world, just like Daniel did in Babylon.

BETWEEN-SESSIONS PERSONAL STUDY

Similar to what you did after session 1, the following questions and exercises are designed to help you apply this week's teaching and practice the personal application. As you deal with these powerful issues of identity and purpose, reflect on your responses and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you toward the next steps. You can write your responses and reflections in the space provided or in the journal or notebook you started last time. Once again, there will be time for you to share your observations and outcomes at the beginning of the next session.

Reflection

In the video this week, Chris shared how his life could have taken different turns if he had not discovered his identity in Christ and begun to live accordingly. Imagine your life along similar lines. Think back on forks in the road where knowing God's truth about who you are and why you're here made a crucial difference. What might your life look like if you hadn't persevered to follow Jesus and obey God's Word?

How do you feel as you consider these possibilities?

How has God saved you from the false version of yourself you might have become?

Application

As Chris mentioned in the teaching, Jesus made seven "I am" statements about himself, as recorded in the book of John. Read each of the verses in John listed below, and then write the metaphor Jesus uses to describe himself and the promise he gives to those who follow him.

In addition to comparing himself to symbols like bread and light, Jesus also painted word pictures comparing foolish people with those who are wise:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash (Matthew 7:24–27).

Why do you think Jesus says we must not only hear his words but also practice them?

Has there been a time in your life when you built your identity, purpose, and convictions on "sand," only to have it collapse? What was your "sand" — success, money, popularity, or something else?

Notice in the parable that the weather pattern was the same for the wise and foolish: "The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house" (Matthew 7:25, 27). What does this parallel tell us about what to expect from the world?

What areas of your life are currently built on the rock of God's truth? Which areas feel a little shaky because of the sandstorm of cultural winds blowing around you?

What do you need to do to strengthen all areas of your life so you can withstand any cultural storm?

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Daniel Dilemma Study Guide Six Sessions"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Chris Hodges.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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.

Table of Contents

Introduction, 7,
How to Use This Guide, 9,
Session 1: In the World but Not of It, 11,
Session 2: Identity Theft, 27,
Session 3: You Are What You Worship, 43,
Session 4: Who's the Boss?, 59,
Session 5: Divided, Distracted, and Disturbed, 75,
Session 6: What the World Needs Now, 91,
Leader's Guide, 105,

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