The Key to the Christian Life ... Always!

The Key to the Christian Life ... Always!

Christianity is a PERSON, not a procedure; the LORD, not a list! Not church attendance, not Christ-like qualities, not good works, not the Christian "to-do list" (which may vary depending on the group and "camp" you are in)...

Not evangelism, not mission trips, not a quality "quiet time," not Scripture memorization or Bible study...

Not spiritual disciplines, not prayer, not fasting, not obedience, not miracle-working faith...

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Joy in January: Dance for your Life!

Joy in January: Dance for your Life!

Life, glorious life!  How we take life for granted, until...

someone we love dies,

our health or safety is gravely threatened,

we realize our days are waning because of the years...

It is then that we value what we've had all along.

But there's a Life that we never need fear will diminish, be endangered, be lost...

In fact, this Life can grow in our experience even in this time-based, fearful, waning physical life.

What is this Life?

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Joy in January: Greater!

Joy in January: Greater!

Brothers & sisters, are you amazed, as am I?

Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. (Colossians 1:27 NLT)

The Lord Jesus Christ in you! The Lord Jesus Christ in me! What glory right here...right now!

The Sovereign Creator of the Universe lives in each of His children! His life courses through our spiritual veins!  What glory for this life as well as the life to come!

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Arrested by the Risen Christ: Brenda's Story

Arrested by the Risen Christ:  Brenda's Story

Every Easter I think of family and friends who have died in Christ.  Somewhere and sometime on their earthly journey they each met the Risen Christ in a unique way...some quite dramatically, some softly and quietly.

During this Easter week, I'd like to tell you about a friend who was arrested by the Risen Christ.  She's virtually unknown, except by those whose lives she touched.  Her name is Brenda.

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The Key to the Christian Life

The Key to the Christian Life

Christianity is a PERSON, not a procedure; the LORD, not a list! Not church attendance, not Christ-like qualities, not good works, not the Christian "to-do list" (which may vary depending on the group and "camp" you are in)...

Not evangelism, not mission trips, not a quality "quiet time," not Scripture memorization or Bible study...

Not spiritual disciplines, not prayer, not fasting, not obedience, not miracle-working faith...

Not ______________________ (you fill in the blank with your favorite supposed "godliness-producing external" activity).

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Walking in Present Risenness

When I was at the University of Arizona in the late 60's & early 70"s, the "Jesus movement" was in full swing.  A song that we always sang during praise time at our Christian student meetings in those days was "He Lives". This song grabbed me!  The concept of a living Christ who intimately related to me on a daily basis was just beginning to dawn on me.  Look at the words to this glorious song:

mom & me walking
mom & me walking

I serve a risen Saviour He's in the world today; I know that He is living, Whatever men may say; I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer, And just the time I need Him He's always near.

Chorus: He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and He talks with me Along life's narrow way. He lives, He live, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives: He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me I see His loving care, And tho my heart grows weary I never will despair; I know that He is leading Thro' all the stormy blast, The day of His appearing Will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, Lift up your voice and sing Eternal hallelujahs To Jesus Christ the King! The hope of all who seek Him, The help of all who find, None other is so loving, So good and kind.

Brennan Manning has a phrase that I love...living in Present Risenness.  In his precious book The Rabbi's Heartbeat, he says:

We are not cowed into timidity by death and life.  Were we forced to rely on our own shabby resources we would be pitiful people indeed.  But the awareness of Christ's present risenness persuades us that we are buoyed up and carried on by a life greater than our own.

The Christ within who is our hope of glory is not a matter of theological debate or philosophical speculation.  He is not a hobby, a part-time project, a good theme for a book, or a last resort when all human effort fails.  He is our life, the most real fact about us.  He is the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us.

Even though the holiday we call Easter has passed, dear child of God, meditate on this glorious thought:  The Resurrected Christ is alive in your world right now.  The Living Christ lives in you today.  And this same Lord Jesus Christ lives His resurrection life through you as you walk in Present Risenness...every day!

Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col 1:27

...you have died and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory. Col 3:3-4

...to those who are the called,...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1Cor 1:24

My Redeemer lives!
My Redeemer lives!

Now enjoy this rendition of "HE LIVES"...

*This was posted at Easter 2011 as Walking in Present Risenness

Walking in Present Risenness

mom & me walking
mom & me walking

When I was at the University of Arizona in the late 60's & early 70's, the "Jesus movement" was in full swing.  A song that we always sang during praise time at our Christian student meetings in those days was "He Lives". This song grabbed me!  The concept of a living Christ who intimately related to me on a daily basis was just beginning to dawn on me.  Look at the words to this glorious song:

I serve a risen Saviour He's in the world today; I know that He is living, Whatever men may say; I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer, And just the time I need Him He's always near.

Chorus: He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and He talks with me Along life's narrow way. He lives, He live, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives: He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me I see His loving care, And tho my heart grows weary I never will despair; I know that He is leading Thro' all the stormy blast, The day of His appearing Will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, Lift up your voice and sing Eternal hallelujahs To Jesus Christ the King! The hope of all who seek Him, The help of all who find, None other is so loving, So good and kind.

road to emmaus
road to emmaus

Brennan Manning has a phrase that I love...living in Present Risenness.  In his precious book The Rabbi's Heartbeat, he says:

We are not cowed into timidity by death and life.  Were we forced to rely on our own shabby resources we would be pitiful people indeed.  But the awareness of Christ's present risenness persuades us that we are buoyed up and carried on by a life greater than our own.

The Christ within who is our hope of glory is not a matter of theological debate or philosophical speculation.  He is not a hobby, a part-time project, a good theme for a book, or a last resort when all human effort fails.  He is our life, the most real fact about us.  He is the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us.

Meditate on this glorious thought:  The Resurrected Christ is alive in your world right now.  The Living Christ lives in you today.  And this same Lord Jesus Christ lives His resurrection life through you as you walk in Present Risenness...every day!

Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col 1:27

...you have died and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory. Col 3:3-4

...to those who are the called,...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1Cor 124

Now enjoy this simple, sincere rendition of "HE LIVES"...


The Rest of the Gospel: Song of the Week {Before You I Kneel -- A Worker's Prayer}

images-2
images-2

It wasn't long after hearing for the first time this haunting melody (Johann Sebastian Bach's melody "Wachet Auf" played on folk instruments) and the accompanying song, that I started playing it in my car on my way to work each day. It moves me to think that the Lord Christ uses the work I do each day to glorify Himself and build His kingdom.

That's because He lives His life through us His children, His disciples, His instruments.

I particularly love one of the lines:

May we...Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days...

It reminds me of what Paul said of King David in Acts 13:36:

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep...

Oh Father, may I serve your purpose in my own generation!

So this is my prayer --please join me!

Before You I kneel, my Master and MakerTo offer the work of my hands.For this is the day You’ve given You’re servant;I will rejoice and be gladFor the strength I have to live and breathe;For each skill Your grace has given me;For the needs and opportunitiesThat will glorify You great Name.

Before You I kneel and ask for Your goodnessTo cover the work of my hands.For patience and peace to shape all my labor,Your grace for thorns in my path.Flow within me like a living stream,Wear away the stones of pride and greed‘till Your ways are dwelling deep in meAnd a harvest of life is grown.

Before You we kneel, Our Master and Maker;Establish the work of our hands.And order our steps to seek first Your kingdomIn every small and great task.May we live the gospel of Your grace,Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days,Then our lives will bring eternal praiseAnd all glory to Your Name.

Before You I Kneel (A Worker's Prayer), Keith & Kristyn Getty


The Rest of the Gospel: Will not Hunger (Chapter 16)

Chapter 16  Will Not Hunger Key Verse

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35 ESV

Key Question

How can we say that Jesus is our total sufficiency?

Read chapter 16 and answer the following questions:

1. What are some ways that your soul is still hungry?

2. What does it mean that Jesus is your total spirit sufficiency in these areas (from question #1)?

3. What is the implication for your life in saying that you have all of Jesus you’ll ever have?

4. What does the statement in Question #3 not mean?

5. Are there needs in your life that you think God isn’t meeting? What are they?

6. What dangers does doubting God’s sufficiency in these areas (Question #5) open you up to?

7. Are there any areas in your life in which you feel desperate at times for an answer? Has God always provided a temporal solution? If not, what might be the reason? What specifically does He want to teach you?

8. In what ways are you inclined to live in the past or future, instead of the present? What effect does this have on you? What does God invite you to do instead?

9. What does it mean that the answer is always a Person? Apply this to some specific problem area in your life. What is God calling you to?

The Rest of the Gospel: God's Process of Growth (Chapter 15)

Chapter 15  God's Process of Growth Key Verses:

I am writing to you, little children,     because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers,     because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men,     because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children,     because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers,     because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men,     because you are strong,     and the word of God abides in you,     and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2: 12-14 ESV

Key Question:

What is Christian growth?

Read chapter 15 and answer the following:

1. Have you been tempted to believe that Christian growth occurs in only one certain How did that look to you?

2. What was the result of trying to put a box around God’s process in you?

3. Dan talks about three stages of growth from First John 2:12-14. What did God say to you through this description about God’s process of growth?

4. What does it mean to you that “God takes us in love” (p. 168)? What is God saying to you through that statement right now?

5. Think of two or three difficult circumstances in your life right now. Have you accepted that God is working on you to your benefit in each of these, or are you resisting God’s work? How does He want you to respond to Him in each circumstance?

6. Is there a contradiction between Christ living in us, as us, and Dan’s call to obedience on page 168? Why not?

7. Are there any areas in which God is calling you to be a responder to Him, to be obedient? If you have not yet responded, what has that done to your windowpane?

8. On pages 169 and 170, Dan says that God causes us to grow as He “uses the storms in the soul” to drive us to a place of inner rest. In what areas of your life are you not at rest? How is God telling you to respond to Him in those areas?

9. In what ways is your soul still turned outward, its attention on the body and the world? Is there an area or two in which you hear the wooing of God back to Him? What would it look like for you to respond to His wooing?

The Rest of the Gospel: Revelation -- God's Way of Knowing (chapter 11)

Chapter 11  Revelation: God's Way of Knowing Key Verses:

 ...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe... Ephesians 1:17-19a ESV

Key Question:

What is the difference between "knowing" something spiritually and "knowing about" something spiritually?

Read chapter 11 and answer the following:

1. Has God brought you to the place where in your heart you know that you can’t live the Christian life on your own?

2. In what ways are you still seeking flesh answers to flesh questions (p. 123)? What is the answer to all spirit questions?

3. What are you trying to produce that you are incapable of producing? Or, to put it another way, how are you still trying to live out of your own effort? Are you ready to stop trying and trust God to do it instead?

4. Are you still expecting yourself to succeed at trying to live the Christian life? Does God see you as a failure when you are unable to? What is His perspective on your failures (p. 123)?

5. What is the practical meaning to you of “know-about means we must earn; know means we understand it’s freely given”?

6. What are some things the Spirit of God has revealed to you, things you know, that you can’t be shaken from?

7. What is the good news in the fact that true knowing comes by revelation of the Spirit, not our analysis?

8. Can you be content with where God has you in His process? How might He want you to trust His timing in your life? What does He want you to stop being anxious about?

9. What are some things God is telling you to believe? Review the three things Dan beginning at the bottom of p. 129. What is God saying to you about these three things?

 

The Rest of the Gospel: God's Precious Assets (chapter 10)

Chapter 10  God's Precious Assets Key Verse

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves... 2 Cor 4:7 NASB

Key Question

Am I an asset or a liability to God?

Read chapter 10 and answer the following questions:

1. How does seeing ourselves as God sees us, above the line, free us to be usable assets to God?

2. In what ways are you an asset to God?

3. What are some things about your humanity that God uses as His asset in the world? What does this say about the uniqueness God has given you?

4. Name some ways that God manifested Himself through you this past week.

5. If you were to suddenly disappear, how would certain individuals miss Christ living through you?

6. What is it like for you, as the vessel, to try to become the contents of the vessel? What is that experience like in your life? Give an example from this past week.

7. How has God used your unique background, seemingly good and seemingly bad, to make you into the vessel of His choosing?

8. If you are the vessel and God is the one living through you, who is the pressure on in this Christian life – you or God? In what ways does God wants you to take the pressure off of yourself?

The Rest of the Gospel: The Real You (chapter 9)

Chapter 9  The Real You Key Verse

 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5:21 NASB

Key Question

What is the flesh?

Read chapter 9 and answer the following:

1. How is Dan using the word flesh, or false self? Define these terms.

2. Does flesh always produce things that look bad on the outside? Why or why not? 3. How is focusing on ourselves, instead of on Christ as our life, flesh-based?

4. When God looks at you, what does He see? What is His point of reference in looking at you? Is He pulling the wool over His eyes when He looks at you, or is this the way you really are?

5. What does it mean to stop trying to become who we already are? What does this mean for you personally?

6. What are some things already true about you as a new creation in Christ? Will these things ever change?

7. How does knowing our true identity help us understand that there is no condemnation?

8. How does knowing our true identity enable us to live with a Christ-consciousness instead of a self-consciousness? Why is this important?

9. In what ways do you still attempt to draw your identity from externals? How is that dangerous to you and others? What is God’s solution to that problem?

10. What does it mean for us to focus on the spirit, instead of primarily the soul?

11. What is your true identity as a child of God?

12. What is the prayer Dan suggests regarding your identity at the end of the chapter? Would this prayer be an appropriate one for you to be praying?

The Rest of the Gospel: Union with Christ {a summary}

When I walk through the “gate” of salvation, I am thrilled with the revelation that my sins are forgiven through the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I am now reconciled to (at peace with) God my Creator. Not only that, I am His child, born into His family (John 1:12). But it doesn’t take long before an important question/problem comes up:  how do I live the Christian life?  Because of the kind of teaching/mentoring I am exposed to (legalistic)…and/or because of the simple fact that “my flesh likes to work,” I start out on the road of trying in my own strength to live the Christian life.  Of course I try to do it to please God, seeking God’s help…hoping I have enough or the right kind of faith (because without faith I can’t please Him, Heb 11:6) and hoping I ask (pray) correctly.

But sooner or later, I start failing, getting confused and frustrated, maybe even despairing and giving up.  This goes on for years!  Finally, the truth of what has been true all along begins to break through:

I can’t live the Christian life!

         I was never meant to live it!

         Jesus is the only one who ever lived it!

         This same Jesus lives in me!  Col 1:27

         He will live the life through me, as me, if I let Him!  Gal 2:20

         That’s faith.  It’s my consent, my yielding to the Risen, indwelling Christ to live His Life in and through me as me.

It’s then at my point of desperation that God reveals to my heart that  in the eternal, unseen realm, He had immersed me (baptized me) into Christ.  My old man (my sinful self inherited from Adam) died united to Him, was buried united to Him, and arose a new creation in Him (2Cor 5:14-21).  At salvation, I had become a new person in Christ, free from the power of sin, free from the law (the legalistic, to-do list Christian should’s and ought to’s), and free from the selfish self that makes me my frame of reference for all things.  I died to all of that.  I also died to the world (the earthly system in rebellion against God), the flesh (the pull of sin within that is in rebellion against God), and the devil (God’s evil, lying, rebellious enemy, the father of all unbelievers). Romans 6, Colossians 1&2, Galatians 4-6.

Once I realize that and begin to live from that truth (“Wait a minute!  I died to __________________!”), I am then free to live in newness of life right now: the Resurrected, indwelling Jesus united to my spirit in and through my earthly life as me (Gal 2:20).  I am His vessel, His container, His instrument to show forth the life and glory of the Father in this world.

OK, that’s all well and good.  But what about the fact that I don’t feel dead and free from sin, temptation, the pull of the fleshly, material part of me?  It feels like I’m two people or someone with two natures:  a godly one that wants only Him and an ungodly one that only cares about myself and my desires and “appetites.”

The problem lies in the fact that I still have a temporal, earthly, human existence in a world suffering the consequences of sin  (Romans 8). My humanness (body & soul) is changing, fluctuating, being pulled this way and that because it is connected to the seen & temporal realm.  The sin principle still indwells my body and soul, my “members” on this earth (Romans 7). My spirit (who I really am), on the other hand, is fixed, complete, righteous, holy because it is one with God in the unseen, eternal realm.

What I still suffer while on this fallen earth are the consequences of sin:  sickness, physical death, disappointment, grief, negative emotions, etc. and the pull of sin indwelling my fleshly human nature (body & soul).  But all of that is not who I really am.  It feels like me, but it’s not!  The real me is united to Christ.  My life is hid with Christ in God in the eternal realm (Col 3:3).

God uses all of these trials and fluctuations in my soul and body to teach me to live by faith and not by sight.  Now by faith I reckon (“count on”) being dead to this sin, that lie, the other ungodly pull…and alive to God and His will!  Reckoning doesn’t make it true.  I count on it (reckon it) to be true because it is true.

And I chose to live from the truth of who I am in the eternal realm.  Then my Lord Christ can have free reign because He is my life and I am His instrument!  Hallelujah!

 

The Rest of the Gospel: One Nature (chapter 8)

Chapter 8  One Nature

Key Verse

 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. Galatians 2:20-21  NASB

Key Question

Am I one person or two?  Have I one nature or two?

Read chapter 8 and answer the following questions:

1. What is the theological rut that most believers fall into? What negative effect does this rut have on us?

2. How does the Line help us understand our true nature?

3. What is external appearance and experience going to always tell you about your nature? How trustworthy are these indicators?

4. Of all the examples Dan uses from Scripture concerning how we can only have one nature, which one spoke to you the most? Why?

5. Is Dan teaching sinless perfection in this chapter? Why not? What is the essence of what he is saying?

6. Why is it vital to understand that we only have one true nature? What effect might believing you have two natures have on you?

The Rest of the Gospel: the Swing (chapter 7)

Dear Book Club friends,This week we will be reading and studying chapters 7 (The Swing).  At the end of the week, we will post a summary of section 1: Union with Christ. What a glorious mystery is this mystical union of Christ with us His loved ones!  Thank you for following along in amazement with us!

swing
swing

Chapter 6The Swing

Key Verse

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NIV

Key Question

What is the difference between soul and spirit?

Read chapter 6 and answer the following:

1. What is the difference between soul and spirit? Why is the difference important to how you live as a Christian?

2. Why has God given you a soul? What is it designed to do? What is it not designed to do?

3. What is a typical example in your life of living out of your fluctuating feelings? What is the usual result? In this example, what would it look like for you to live out of your spirit instead?

4. In what sense are your temporary thoughts and feelings not the deepest you? If you believe they are the deepest you, what will you conclude and how will you likely live?

5. Describe how the Swing helps you better understand your identity in Christ, why the Christian life can be a struggle, and how to live by faith in Christ in you and rest in Him.

6. How are the fluctuations of your soul necessary in God’s training of you (p. 73)?

7. Do you experience self-condemnation because of feelings or thoughts you have? What is an example? What does God say about that (see Romans 8:1, 33-34)?

8. In what way can you relate to the story of Elijah? What did God say to you through the story?


The Rest of the Gospel: Song of the Week {Found}

lost & found
lost & found

The first time I heard this song, I began to sob.  It took me back to the darkest point in my performance-addicted, self-effort driven Christian life. When I finally had realized Christ in me, the hope of the glory of God being manifest in my human life...it was light into darkness...like being born again, again!  I can't go back.

FOUND Travis Cottrell

Somewhere deep inside me I found You

Your sunlight shakes the morning sky

How'd You ever find me through the blue

Of my darkest night

Chorus:

All, all, all my life

You're all I've never known

You're all I need to feel alive

This heart has found it's home

No one need remind me where I've been

In younger years I'd gone astray

Somewhere down the wrong road You took my hand

And led me here today


Chorus 



Right where I've always longed to be

Though never seemed to find

Until Your grace opened up my eyes

found, travis cottrell
found, travis cottrell

The Rest of the Gospel: Welcome to the Summer Book Club & the Gates (ch 1)

Welcome to our first ever Summer Book Club here at A Branch in the Vine! Thank you for joining us in the study of The Rest of the Gospel: When the Partial Gospel has Worn You Out, by Dan Stone and David Gregory.

My prayer is that we will all come to experience to a greater depth the truth of the key verse of our study: Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)...that is, our only hope that the glory of God will be manifest in our lives right now on this earth...not just when we get to heaven!

Through His grace and revelation, may each of us be set free from our religious self-effort and Christian "to do lists."  And may we consent to His living His indwelling, abundant, resurrection life in and through us, as us, all to the praise of His glory!

So let's get started!  Here's the plan if you follow along with us here at A Branch in the Vine:

  • 2-4 chapters a week (I'll let you know which ones)
  • Read the chapters.  I'll post study questions for each of the chapters.  You can just read and think through them or answer any or all of them in a journal or notebook.
  • I'll post some thoughts, quotes, songs, other books/readings etc. as we go along.
  • Then we'll start again the next week...it's that easy.

Please feel free to post your comments, personal applications, questions, insights, etc in the comment section below...they don't have to be profound.  The simple, straight-forward truths are the best!

So here we go!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Chapter 1  The Gates

Key verse:   For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.  Matthew 7:14 NASB

Key Question: Where is the life? I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  John 10:10

Read the Preface and the first chapter.  Then answer the following questions:

1.  Have you gone through the first gate -- the gate of salvation?  Do you know you are a child of God and your sins are forgiven? Click here to read my journey through that gate (plus a few others). You can also learn what it means to be saved.

2. What "externals" were life to you before walking through the salvation gate?

3.  What "externals" are life to you now that you are a Christian?  How do you draw life from these externals now?

4.  Have you walked through any other gates since salvation?  How would you describe each of them?  What externals did you shed in the process?  What did you gain by walking through?

5.  What would your life be like if you were an internal person rather than an external person?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here are more extensive study questions by the authors.  I've enjoyed going through every question and writing out my answers in a notebook.  Most of the answers are right within the text, except for personal application questions.

PREFACE

1. What would you say is Dan Stone’s main purpose in writing this book?

2. Why do most Christian books run the risk of being man-centered? How is that problem avoided?

3. What is the Father’s overarching plan throughout the ages?

4. What does “Christ in you” have to do with this plan?

5. What effect does it have on our lives to know that we exist for God’s glory? This being the case, how might God want your life to change?

6. In what sense was the cross God’s work on His own behalf? What is the result of Christ’s work on the cross?

7. How does God want us to cooperate with Him in that result?

CHAPTER 1: THE GATES

1. What is the difference between being an external person and being an internal person (p. 16)?

2. Why can we not experience all that God has for us as long as we are holding onto externals?

3. What does it mean for us to, in Dan’s words, take off our outer garments and shed an external? What does that look like?

4. Why did Dan's choosing to thank God in everything open the door for God’s work in his life?

5. What was it about Norman Grubb’s message that Dan had never heard before? Why was this different from what he had been previously taught?

6. Tell the group your own story of the “gates.” What externals were you holding onto before you came to Christ? What externals were you still holding onto after you came to Christ? What process has God taken you through to lay down some of those externals?

7. What externals are you still holding onto instead of trusting Christ fully as life?

8. What is it that Christ wants to do through you? What does that mean to you?