Deep Change

2024 Lenten series reflecting on the book Emotionally Healthy Discipleship by Peter Scazzero.

Video MessageResources
Week 1:
Heart Check
Monday Memo notes

More on Your Heart this Week
– Want to focus your personal Bible reading on the heart this week, if nothing else to see the breadth of the concept in scripture? Try reading through the use of the term in Psalms (click here) and Proverbs (click here). 
– How about weaving some prayers focused on the transformation of our hearts in your own prayer life this week? For four such prayers, click here, here, here, and here
– Here’s some practical psychological advice on how to know yourself more deeply and accurately. You could even try a few of the article’s ideas this week, if you want: 8 Approaches to Know Yourself Better | Psych Central
– And here are a few daily devotionals about the heart that you can sprinkle throughout your week: Always Contrite and A Change of Heart and Heart Vision and I Have a Frisbee
Week 2:
Religion, for Better and Worse

Monday Memo notes

Dig In More This Week
Though you’ve got a new chapter to read this week, here are a few ways you can dig into the sermon topic more too: 
– It’s worth reading all of Jesus’ serious critique of religion gone wrong in Matthew 23.1-36 (click here to check it out). As you read it, make a list of contrasts: what’s Jesus saying about religion at its worst, and then conversely, at its best? 
– The opening to Isaiah 1 is worth checking out too (click here to read). This is an extended critique of the empty religious practices of God’s people, in large part because they’ve chosen to ignore what matters most to God. 
– A prayer for the week, one to help you and us practice religion at its best, not its worst, as Jesus’ disciples: 
“God, I come as a seeker, sometimes unsure of what I seek. I come as a follower of Christ, sometimes not fully understanding the One I follow. And I come to be changed, though it frightens me and I often resist Your transformation more than I embrace it. Holy One, remind me of Your unconditional love, and meet me where I am today. I believe in what You want to do in my life and our world; help my unbelief, amen.” (adapted from Rev. Joanna Harader – Spacious Faith)
– Fascinated by the concept of discipleship that is at the heart of being a Christian? Check out these two short articles, the first of which is by the late Dallas Willard mentioned in the sermon: Who is Our Teacher? and The Jesus Way of Life
– Two thoughtful pieces on religion at its worst or when it goes wrong, including Christianity: When Religion Goes Bad and When Religion Becomes a Bad Thing
Week 3: Being and Doing

Monday Memo notes

More This Week
– Some scripture reading this week…First, on the Old Testament background for Jesus’ powerful metaphor about God’s people being like a vineyard – click here, here, and here). Second, a couple of examples of the similar metaphor of the spiritual life being like a tree planted along a riverbank: click here and here
– Here are four good devotionals to read at some point this week about being a “branch” that “remains/abides” in Christ who is our “vine”: Now, to Abide and Abiding in the Vine: A Pause for Maundy Thursday – Trevor… and Abiding in the Vine — Today Daily Devotional and The Vine — Today Daily Devotional
– A longer excerpt from a spiritual classic on “abiding in Christ” (from Andrew Murray, South African pastor, teacher, and missionary): Come, Then Stay – Andrew Murray
– Worth your reflection this week: 
a) If “abiding/remaining” in Christ is the singular key to a vibrant spiritual life and experience, how do you do that? What are your personal, distinctive ways to “come home” to Christ daily and weekly? What has worked well for you in the past or in the present? What would you like to try that might be new?
b) How’s your “being with God” and your “doing for God”? Does the former lead to the latter in your life? Do you tend to favor one more than the other? How can you take a step or two toward a better balance between the two? 
– A prayer for the week…we used this at the close of worship yesterday: “Christ, You are the one true vine, from whom I draw life. I am Your branch – slight, spindly, and frail. Prune and shape me so that I might bear more fruit – more love, more justice, more forgiveness, and more goodness. Reside in me; help me reside in You. Move with me; help me move with You. This I ask, amen. (Adapted from St. Louis University (Ann Osideck)
Week 4: Real GreatnessMonday Memo notes

Be Great This Week
1) Pray about it. And do it repeatedly. This is soul-rending, soul-reshaping stuff. You can’t do it alone. You do it with God – better said, you let God do it within and to you – or you don’t do it at all. What if every morning this week you simply prayed something like, “Lord God, may I find true greatness by being a servant. Let me serve more than I demand to be served, and let me give more than I expect to take, amen.”
2) Find a way to serve that flies under the radar. Do something small and specific – at home, at work, or at church. Once you’ve stealth-served once, look for a second way to do it, then a third, and so on. And, rest assured, as Jesus Himself taught at the beginning of Matthew 6 during the Sermon on the Mount, that which you do in the shadows undetected by others, God sees and applauds.
3) Be deliberate as you go about your days to pay attention to those who serve you and others. Go out of your way to thank and encourage them. If appropriate, let them know that they are modeling Jesus for you.
4) Bring the best out in someone else. Help them succeed, help them thrive, and, as they do, celebrate their achievement and growth. Be that kind of person where you serve at KirkWood, and to those with whom you serve.
5) For a week, give up the power games we so often play with each other. Don’t try to get your way, and don’t manipulate others to your point of view. Be the one in the office, group, or committee who is seeking to serve everyone else and your collective work, be the person who listens and finds merit in someone else’s perspective before demanding that they do likewise for you.
6) As the week comes to a close 5-6 days from now, spend time reflecting, in prayer or in writing, on how all this has affected you. How did you feel? How has your perspective widened, deepened, or shifted? How much closer do you feel to Jesus? How much more do you understand how He thinks, feels, and sees the world? In what new ways have you experienced the beautifully-upside down message and meaning of His good news?
Week 5:
The Art of Loving

Monday Memo notes

The Art of Loving This Week
This is one week where the personal application of the sermon’s contents should be pretty straightforward. Let’s spend a week trying to get a little better at those four key skills in loving well: 
1. Take some stock of your life: how well are you loving right now, and how much do you feel loved? Are you living with a “love deficit”? Remember what Linda Bloom said – we are able to give love only as much as we are willing to receive it from others. So pray this week that you’d be open to both receiving and giving love. 
2. How can you nurture emotionally those around you? How can you show active concern?: 
– Find a way to express or communicate a positive, encouraging, or affirming emotion to someone else You can do this person to person, in writing, you name it. The key is make this about feeling, not merely an idea: share your positive emotion about someone to make their own emotions more positive. 
3. Be ready to respond willingly and voluntarily to someone’s need: 
– How can you live a little slower and a little less stressed so that you can create margins from which you can respond in love to others? 
– Pray to live awake and aware each morning, so that you will notice someone’s need when it surfaces. 
– Assume that you are God’s emissary to meet every need you notice, even if it is just the need for a kind word or encouragement. 
– Allow yourself to need too, which then will allow you to let others love you in response to that need. 
4. Know the other person deeply and respect them enough to let them grow and develop in the way that’s best for them, not you
– Make it a point to get to know someone better this week. Dive into their story, let them share, don’t judge. Give them the great privilege of being known.
– To a safe, trustworthy person, allow yourself to be known. 
– Endeavor to interact with everyone as if they are just as “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139.14-15) as you are, as fully human and as worthy of respect as you are. 
– Encourage someone you know about how they’re growing or developing, maybe most especially if they’re growing in a way that’s different from you. 
5. How can we help you connect with others in this kind of deeper, more meaningful way at KirkWood? Would a gathering or group that focused only on this kind of deep connecting interest you? 
6. A prayer idea for the week…pray through 1 Corinthians 13.4-8a (click here) daily or a couple of times a day. Ask God to help you become like this, pray it for others you know. 
Week 6:

is the Path

Monday Memo notes

Explore More This Week 
1) Intrigued by Brene Brown’s seminal research on vulnerability?: 
– Check out her famous TED Talk (20 min.): Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability
– So that you don’t have to read her whole book, here are two short pieces of hers, the first an interview with her, and the second an article she wrote, both focused on vulnerability: Daring to be Vulnerable with Brené Brown | Taking Charge of Your Wellbeing and Vulnerability is the Path
– Brene Brown herself has been through the ringer recently – caring for her mom with dementia, and ultimately losing her mom to that disease. It has stretched her and made her aware of her own vulnerability in stark, trying new ways. She muses about that here, from her own website in Jan. 2024: Hard Seasons and Wild Hearts
2) Read some Psalms this week, each one crackles with vulnerability, both faith and insecurity, often simultaneously…you can start in Psalm 2 and work your way forward: Psalm 2 NRSVUE
3) Make these phrases, taken directly from the prayer at the end of chp. 9 in our Lenten book, part of your prayer life this week: “I asked for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for power that I might have the praise of others; I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. I got nothing I asked for, but everything I hoped for.”
4) How can you better acknowledge and own how often and deeply you feel vulnerable? 
5) How can you respond to your own vulnerability with courage? What risk or act of faith is God asking of you that you’ve been avoiding? What are you missing in life – love, purpose, creativity, connection? Odds are, a courageous response to your own vulnerability, perhaps involving a little risk on your part, is the how to get it. 
6) How can you help create a safe space for yourself and others to be vulnerable, perhaps here at KW?