Dig deeper into our summer Quest Reads book on your own,
with your family, or with a small group!

PART ONE: BLESSING


  1. Who are people in the community that others don't seem to notice much? 
  2. Is there a specific neighborhood that captures your attention when you pass by?

Maybe God is prompting you to pause- to pray for- or even intentionally bless others in a practical way. Ask yourself: Who might be craving some GOOD NEWS right now? As followers of Jesus, we've got the ultimate good news to share- through our words and actions. Is there something that we could give up this week, in order to bless others instead (an hour of our time, $5 that we'd spend on a Starbucks drink; how about buying a meal for someone instead of eating out?). How can we focus more on others in order to bring them Christ's peace, joy and love?

Examples of those to bless could be:

  • People in the community who work hard, but few people seem to notice
  • Friends without an address (Target shopping area, Neil Street McDonalds, Savoy WalMart), the University- International students, homesick students
  • Overworked doctors, nurses, medical staff @ the hospitals
  • A neighborhood that captures your attention. (This can look like ANY neighborhood).
  • Politicians
  • School staff and administration
  • Pastors/ church staff in the community

PART TWO:
WE ARE SALT AND LIGHT. LIVE DIFFERENTLY


  1. Who do we respect and honor as role models? (Think "normal" people, not famous.) 
  2. Have you ever considered yourself a victim/ persecuted when you weren't able to get your way or lost privileges? (Adults and kids alike!) 
  3. Scripture tells us as followers of Jesus, we should consider others higher than ourselves and should be more "kingdom" focused than "me" focused. Ask yourself: How can I be like a bright flashing arrow pointing others toward God?

Choose one or more of the following suggestions in order to dig deeper this week!

1) How can we get out of our "safe" space (mentally and through physical actions) in order to do a loving act of kindness for someone else who doesn't expect it? Think of one practical thing you can do this week. Serve someone unexpected and who is not expecting it!

2) Pay attention to an online situation, in the community or on the news. Ask yourself, "Where do I see Christians rising up in this situation in order to bring peace? Do I see Christians doing anything to make things worse or getting in the way of peace?" How can we personally (or as a family, small group, etc) "slow the decay of injustice?" Maybe it's something that seems small, at work; maybe you're a child and you feel God calling you to do something in a friendship or on a sports team. Maybe you're called to speak out about an issue in our community, state or world. Pay attention to the situations God calls to your mind!

3) Discuss as a family: how is the God that we read about in Old Testament stories different from the picture of God that we see in NT stories? Flip through kids bibles around your house in order to help you remember the stories. Ask: How is God the same- then- in both the OT and NT, and today? What characteristics of God have never changed?

4) Ask your family: which do you have the most trouble with:  Seeing no evil (on purpose!), hearing no evil (on purpose!) or speaking no evil (on purpose!). What are a few examples of each of these? How does Scripture encourage us as God's people to live differently- like watching different kinds of things (tv shows, movies, tiktok, snapchat and instagram stories and pictures) , or listening to different kinds of things (off colored jokes, music, etc).

PART THREE:
KEEP YOUR WORD AND WISELY CHOOSE THEM.

Many of us struggle with having a "sharp tongue" that can cut like a knife… a little too often. How can we begin to express our disagreement with someone or something differently, in a way that doesn't attack other people and make them feel small? 

This week, consider the following questions- and be completely honest. Ask God to chip away at the hard areas of your heart, so that you can begin to see others with compassion and understanding.

1) If you are being completely honest, who have you considered "less" than you? Kids: Adults and teens: someone at work? A person that you have to interact with, but don't particularly enjoy? Liking everyone is pretty much impossible. But whether or not we would choose to spend time with another person does not determine their ultimate value, which only comes from God. Genesis 1:26 says, "So God created mankind in His own image." "And, God saw everything that He had made and HE VALIDATED it completely" (Genesis 1:31, Amplified Bible translation). 

2) What kind of person would you feel uncomfortable sitting down next to and having a conversation with? Who do we normally just ignore completely, even if we're not intentionally mean to them? Pray for God to change your heart so that you can begin seeing these people as children of God. While praying, force yourself to name one positive thing about a person that comes to mind.

3) Is it bad or healthy to be angry? Do we have a right to be angry sometimes? Throughout time, anger has been seen to lead to great causes for good, as well as to devastating destruction within particular situations and within the human soul. What do you choose to remain angry about (internally or outwardly) that affects your joy and health? How can things that we hear from others, the news, etc, be toxic to our soul- and the ability to have joy- long term? How can we guard our hearts from the power of negativity/dysfunction around us, while not "checking out," or on the flip side, contributing to our outrage culture?

4) Be wise with your words. Don't be wishy washy with your promises. Be honest about who you are and what you're about. Consider those big commitments that you've made in your life. Have you remained true to your promises? From marriage to maintaining friendships, promises that you've made to your children, or even commitments that you've made to God. Ask God to forgive you where you've fallen short, to bring healing, and to help you be a person who is true to your word. Ask God to help you be genuine with other people so that your life witness- as a professing Christian- doesn't deter other people from the faith.

PART FOUR:
LOVE ANNOYING PEOPLE. LOVE IS A VERB!

Putting the best interest of others before our own wants can be hard stuff! Jesus' commands to give more than is expected of you and to go the extra mile in hard relationships does not sound like great fun. And praying for our enemies… even harder!

This week, challenge yourself.

1) If we genuinely and regularly pray for another person, can we continue to hate them? While the words "enemy" and "hate" are strong words, we all do know someone who continues to rub us the wrong way or who regularly gets under our skin. Maybe things have escalated and you find yourself avoiding this person completely or you are only able to hold your tongue around them for so long before, "Uh-Oh!" Think of one person to focus on today. PRAY honestly for them today. Tell God your problem with them. Tell God the things that drive you crazy. And perhaps the hardest of all… ask God to change your heart toward them and help you see HIS reflection in them. If you choose, you can focus on a different person each day of this week. Or, you can stay focused on the same person. Some relationships are a little more damaged and require more time. Some of you might find yourself praying for this person for the next month or even year! That's okay. 

2) Consider a relationship that you have that's seemed a bit strained. Maybe it's your marriage or dating relationship. Kids, maybe it's how you've been bickering more with a friend. Maybe it's a sibling relationship gone really bad. Perhaps it's a relationship with a coworker. While he or she might currently be driving you crazy, ask yourself what this person values or enjoys. Do something to bless them this week. Go out of your way to get them a fun Starbucks drink- and even use your Starbucks points on them! Call that friend or sibling just to say hello and check in with them. Do the dishes before your spouse gets frustrated over them. Take the kids out of the house for a few hours so that Mom or Dad can have a nap. Do something kind and unexpected. Give more than what's demanded of you and go the second mile.

PART FIVE:
GROW SMALLER TO GROW BIGGER

The best relationships are formed when we spend personal time together. This is true both with other people and in our relationship with God. We can feel quite disconnected, until we're willing to invest some intentional time and energy to build up a relationship. 

This week, choose a couple of the options below.

1) Other People
Name someone that you wouldn't mind forming a deeper connection with. Maybe it's someone you can see becoming a new friend or a better friend. Maybe you've identified someone who would make a great mentor for you. Reach out to this person in order to initiate time together. Coffee or lunch together, taking your kids to the pool together or inviting a new friend or another family to have s'mores in your backyard are easy, pressure free ways to spend time together. God created us for community with Him and other people. God Himself lives in community through the Trinity!

2) Investing in Others By Growing God's Kingdom
How much time do you spend in prayer each day? Let's get back to the basics. Set a goal for yourself to spend at least 10 minutes in prayer, twice daily, for the remainder of this week. Who knows, it could become a great new practice in your life! Pray alone, with a family member or even over the phone with a close friend! And pray about the things that really matter to you. Let's get beyond praying for our food and for God to watch over our loved ones while we sleep. While these things are important, many of us get stuck in prayer ruts and then can lose the desire to pray altogether. 

3) Take your time when you pray. Don't feel pressure to fill the silence of your mind with your own words. Sit peacefully and try to recognize God's presence with you when you pray. If God's really present with us (and He is!), that should give us hope. Someone who can really do something about all of the things we're praying about is paying attention! Whose faces come to mind as you pray? God is probably asking you to pray for them too.

4) Be in Awe.
What are some things that seem so big/ so massive/ so unknown that you can't really take it all in and fully understand it? Talk about them with someone or journal about them.
Examples: The way the planets stay in perfect balance and don't fall out of orbit; the varieties of animals in the world (no way could we ever see them all or name them all!); the age of the dinosaurs; and our God who is bigger, more powerful, most loving AND most just – and absolutely not created like the rest of this vast universe. 
God is already- and always- at work in our world. As Christ followers, this means we are to be at work in our world too. This week, don't be too busy to pray. Intentionally slow down. Make a short list of where you see God at work around you. Is there a way that you could join in?

PART SIX:
WE NEED JESUS, TOO

Do we see the sin in ourselves as often as we like to point out the sin in others? We need Jesus just as the rest of the world needs Jesus, to save us from ourselves. 
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite. First take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:3-5).

This is a week of introspection. So look inside yourself! Spend some time being honest with yourself and asking God to point out the "logs" in your eye, so that they can be removed and you can begin to see other people and circumstances differently.

1) Do we care more about what God thinks about us or about what other people think about us? Do we ever try to act like we're more "holy" than we are? Why do you think we do this?

2) What are things in your life that you definitely put before God (money, power, work, family, food, hobbies, bad habits)? Why do we choose to put these things first in our life and often choose to make things like prayer, worship and service a last priority? 

3) Do you have an "abundance" mentality (God has given and will give me what I need) or "scarcity" mentality (I need more; I never quite have enough)? We don't need to be in constant competition with others for more or better. God knows our needs and God provides. That also means that we can give ourselves (our time, our resources) away in service to others, by sharing. How can we give something (of value!) away to someone else this week?

God is present with us now. We don't have to wait for heaven to experience His presence with us. Ask God to allow your eyes to be your lamp, allowing you to see the world and people as God sees them. Ask him to help you see others as valuable and for you to be more genuinely you around others.

PART SEVEN:
JUDGING VS. BLESSING

Do we see the sin in ourselves as often as we like to point out the sin in others? We need Jesus just as the rest of the world needs Jesus, to save us from ourselves. 
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite. First take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:3-5).

This is a week of introspection. So look inside yourself! Spend some time being honest with yourself and asking God to point out the "logs" in your eye, so that they can be removed and you can begin to see other people and circumstances differently.

1) Do we care more about what God thinks about us or about what other people think about us? Do we ever try to act like we're more "holy" than we are? Why do you think we do this?

2) What are things in your life that you definitely put before God (money, power, work, family, food, hobbies, bad habits)? Why do we choose to put these things first in our life and often choose to make things like prayer, worship and service a last priority? 

3) Do you have an "abundance" mentality (God has given and will give me what I need) or "scarcity" mentality (I need more; I never quite have enough)? We don't need to be in constant competition with others for more or better. God knows our needs and God provides. That also means that we can give ourselves (our time, our resources) away in service to others, by sharing. How can we give something (of value!) away to someone else this week?

God is present with us now. We don't have to wait for heaven to experience His presence with us. Ask God to allow your eyes to be your lamp, allowing you to see the world and people as God sees them. Ask him to help you see others as valuable and for you to be more genuinely you around others.

PART EIGHT:
GOOD AND BAD FRUIT

1) Read the "Blessed are…" statements in Matthew 5:1-12. Which of these verses is most comforting for you to hear? Have you experienced any of these "Blessed are" statements personally or as a family?

2) In the Gospel of John, we're warned about doing things that are popular- just because they're popular. Jesus chose not to claim fame for himself, and even told his disciples to talk to the most unpopular people and go to the most unpopular places. Imagine what others must've thought about them sometimes! Think about an unpopular choice that you could make this week that could serve God's kingdom or introduce someone else to the love of Jesus. Maybe it's inviting a person who is unlikely to say ‘yes’ to church. Maybe it's inviting a kid in the neighborhood who doesn't seem to have many friends to come play. Maybe it's going out into the community and serving somewhere as a family. Make a plan and stick to doing this ‘unpopular’ thing.

3) Everyone can follow Jesus. It's not just for the most perfect people. How can we show others, with our words and actions, that even though we make lots of mistakes and don't always live for Jesus as we should, we still choose to follow him? How can our imperfection actually help other people see Jesus in us and consider following him for themselves?

4) Read the fruit of the Spirit list in Galatians 5:22-23. Which of these fruits do you see as your strengths? Which of these fruits would you like to grow more in you? Pray and ask God to help change you through HIS POWER to be ALL of these things. 

5) Is Jesus LORD of your life? Take a minute to jot down the top 3-5 priorities in your life each day. What consumes most of your time? What captures much of your attention? Where do you spend your money? Did time with Jesus make the list? Pray and ask Jesus to help you want to know him more personally and to pursue that more often.

PART NINE:
BE SMART

1) Consider your "life upstairs" vs your "life downstairs." If our foundation is supposed to be in Jesus, not in all that we can build that is visible to others, how is our foundation holding up? As a family, talk about the importance of committing good work to the unseen things like prayer, worship, service. Or, journal about your current time commitments. How can you invest more in the unseen things that really matter, so that you’re not ultimately left with a crumbling house on a faulty foundation? 

2) Do you see Jesus as "evil," "out of his mind" or "actually speaking the authoritative words of God?" Have there been times in your life when you've thought differently than you do now? How do you think your friends, family members, co-workers see Jesus? If believing in Jesus is literally a matter of life or death, are you willing to stake your life on what you believe?

3) If you could design the perfect church, what would it be like? Be specific! Is your design based on what you think would be most fun, most entertaining, most visually attractive or most what you need in order to worship wholeheartedly? What do you value most about your church now? Where do you see Jesus there? 

4) How do you think our world could be different if those of us who say we follow Jesus actually did go where he went, listened to what he said and did what he said to do? What if we took this kind of living seriously?