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April Illuminate

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Covenanters and Conferences
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Summary: Executive Editor Jeff Finley introduces this issue on “Covenants + the Law” by reflecting on his ancestors who were a part of a Scottish group known as the Covenanters, which had many members who became martyrs. He then discusses the Law (the Bible’s first five books) and the most important covenant.

1.  Would you be willing to die for your beliefs? What if you were being persecuted by other people who claim to be Christians but interpret the Bible differently?

2.  Do you agree with Finley’s statement “that the most important covenant is shared by all Christ followers whether Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists”? Why or why not?

3.  What does the Bible Project mean when it states “Christ himself is the New Testament covenant — a covenant that cannot fail and cannot be broken”?

Further reading: Matthew 5:17–20, Romans 13:8–10Hebrews 10:19–39
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Prepared to/Willing to/Able to/Have to/Don’t Want to/Want to
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Summary: Bishop Matthew Thomas gives us “handles to better understand what is at play from both God’s side and our side of things as we consider how to live out these covenants and commandments,” and he addresses the attitude by which we should respond.

1.  How does Bishop Thomas define a covenant?

2.   Have you had any experience with God being “willing to do whatever it takes to get us where we need to be and live as we ought to live”?

3.  What do you think of the statement that “the covenants and commandments are not burdensome for those who live in love”?

Further reading: Exodus 20, Romans 8:1–171 John 5:1–5
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Living the Law of Love?
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Summary:  Kaye Kolde, the executive pastor of ministry at Sage Hills Church in Washington and the next lead pastor of Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church in Michigan, reveals that the Greatest Commandment is now possible to live out.

1.   What is the Greatest Commandment?

2.  If the Holy Spirit empowers us, why do so many professing Christians live in ways that do not seem holy or loving?

3.  Ask yourself or your group Kolde’s question: “Are we content knowing what love looks like fulfilled in Jesus, or are we compelled to keep living that out in practice?”

A Song Stripped of Joy
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Summary: Mark Crawford finds spiritual lessons in his discovery that Pinkfong, a popular children’s entertainment brand, set its song “My Pet, My Buddy” to the tune of the Christian song “Joy in My Heart.”

1. Can you think of other examples in which popular culture has taken sacred things and stripped them of their spiritual value?

2.   How does the enemy try to strip away truth in your life and in the lives of other people?

3.   What are some ways in which we can “step into a broken world and bring with us love, hope, grace and justice”?

Further reading: Daniel 2
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Beyond Contracts
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Summary: Light + Life Publisher and Free Methodist Church – USA Communications Director Brett Heintzman encourages Christians to exchange contract-based churchgoing for establishing covenants.

1.   What is the difference between a contract and a covenant?

2.   How can we become people who live like Jesus and establish covenants that do not break?

3.   What happens when we establish covenants through our own strength?

Further reading: Romans 7
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Pop Theology
Covenants and Community
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Summary: Citizens Church Lead Pastor Ben Forsberg, the founder of and this magazine’s former content strategist, shares that the purpose of modern-era (post-Resurrection) covenants is to get life together.

1.   Do covenants still matter? Why or why not?

2.   In which modern covenants have you participated?

3.   Do you view relationships as obligations or opportunities?

Further reading: John 1:1–18 John 10:1–21Ephesians 4
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