Additional Discussion Questions for each chapter in Reordered Love, Reordered Lives

Note: There are questions for each section in the book, identified with the appropriate subheadings in italics (in rare cases, more than one section has been combined).

Chapter One: A Broken Heart and the Pursuit of Happiness

  • Introduction. Privately or with a group, describe the ways in which your own heart has been broken. Have these experiences in your story inclined you to despair or to hope for happier life?  Verses cited: Ecclesiastes 4: 1-3
  • Happiness and Human Nature. Do you think that the desire for happiness, whatever it may be, is an essential component of human nature? Why or why not? Verses cited: Psalm 16: 11; 37: 4; Matthew 5: 1-11; John 15: 11; Philippians 4: 4; 1 John 1: 4; 1 Peter 1: 8
  • The Pursuit of Happiness, American Style. In your estimation, are Americans obsessed with happiness, perhaps more so than people in other countries? What do you think the phrase “the pursuit of happiness” in the American Declaration of Independence originally meant? What do you think it means to people today? 
  • The Happiness Business. What moral, cultural or social factors might be uniquely responsible for the current success of the happiness business? What kind of advice about happiness is generally on offer today and how would you evaluate it? What do you think Philip Rieff’s phrase “the triumph of the therapeutic” might mean? 
  • “Happy is a Yuppie Word.” How has happiness been understood in past ages? How has its meaning changed? Why do you think Bob Dylan considered happiness and unhappiness “yuppie” words? Listen to Switchfoot’s song “Happy is a Yuppie Word” from the CD Nothing is Sound and discuss its lyrics.
  • Happiness in the Church. Why might people in the church be reluctant to embrace the notion of happiness? Is there a legitimate distinction between happiness and blessedness? Is Christianity a life-denying, dehumanizing religion?  Is Christianity against happiness?
  • Happiness as a Christian Concept. Have you ever felt trapped between the church’s alleged denigration of happiness and your natural, human desire for it? 
  • Edenistic, not Hedonistic Happiness. Discuss the six ingredients of God’s recipe for human happiness based on Genesis 1-2. Do your own life experiences validate this list? Should any thing be added or taken away? What is the difference between a hedonistic and an edenistic happiness? Verses cited: 1 Timothy 4: 4-5; Genesis 1-2; 1: 26-28
  • Happiness and Shalom. How does the biblical notion of shalom connect to happiness? How do Celtic Christianity, John Calvin and the poet William Cowper embrace shalom in their respective spiritual, theological and poetic ways?
  •  The Deep Meaning of Happiness. Explain and evaluate the definition of the happy life offered in this section.
  •  Countercultural Happiness. In what way or ways is the “deep meaning of happiness” advocated in this chapter counter to the culture in the world and in the church?
  •  Grief in the Land of Uz. How does Job’s response to his sufferings illustrate the biblically based character of edenistic happiness and God’s intentions of shalom? Verses cited: Job 3: 3; 17: 1; 16: 12-17; 29: 1-6; 30: 16-23; 16: 20; 40: 10-17
  •  The Loss of Happiness and Shalom. How has sin affected happiness? Discuss Augustine’s point that by sinning we lost happiness, but not our love for it. Verses cited: Genesis 3: 17b-19
  •  An Inconsolable Longing. Describe your own experiences of Sehnsucht or longing as delineated by C. S. Lewis. What serious mistake does Lewis say many people make when they have such experiences?
  •  Discuss the quotations and Bible verses in this chapter that mean the most to you.

Chapter Two: Disordered Love: Everything I love is Killing Me

  • Introduction and Augustine’s Story. How do the contours of Augustine’s story illustrate the problems of ignorance and disordered love in his search for happiness? Verses cited: Romans 13: 13-14
  • Confessions for the Masses. Since Augustine probably wrote about his story in the Confessions because he believed his story was typical of everyone’s story, do you recognize any significant parallels between the account of his life and your own? How might his Confessions be a history of the schooling of the heart in love, as the introductory quote to this section suggests?
  • Ignorance of the chief good. Describe the respective conditions of the four candidates for happiness as described by St. Augustine. Which one/s do you identify with the most? Discuss the paramount question for the fourth candidate seeking the happy life and its possible answers
    • 3a. Theological Reasons for Our Ignorance. What are the theological reasons for our rejection of the very notion of a chief good, and for our ignorance of whatever chief good there may be? What are the potential personal outcomes of this theological based rebellion and ignorance of the chief good? Verses cited: Jeremiah 10: 14, 23; 13: 25; 17: 9; Matthew 15: 14; John 8: 12; Romans 1: 18-25; 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31; 2 Corinthians 4: 4; Ephesians 4: 17-19

    • 3b. Cultural Reasons for Our Ignorance. Discuss how basic views of happiness are derived from basic views of the world; give examples. Discuss how influences in contemporary (popular) culture influence our perceptions of happiness; give examples. Discuss how worldviews and contemporary (popular) culture cause us to confuse real and apparent goods; give examples. Verses cited: Proverbs 27: 7; 2 Kings 4: 40; Philippians 3: 8; John 1: 14; Psalm 4: 2
  • Disordered Love. What is the precise nature of disordered love as explained in this section? What are the issues associated with the nature of the objects we love, the manner in which we love them, and the expectations we have regarding the outcome of our love? According to C. S. Lewis, what mistake do we often make when disappointments arise from disordered love (“The Fools Way”)? Do you identify with this blunder?
  • The Two Cities. How does disordered love not only affect our personal lives, but also the course of history itself? Can you think of people or events that illustrate this way of interpreting history in light of love?
  • Ignorance in the Church. What have been the church’s mistaken beliefs about creation and the physical aspects of life? What are the sources and consequences of this error?
  • Disordered Love in the Church. What does the word “scornfulness” mean in relation to the problem of the church’s disordered love for creation and the physical aspects of life? How did Augustine fall prey to this error in his view of grief? Discuss the “seven deadly sins” of a false, disembodied spirituality that is prevalent in many churches.
  • The War of the Mind and Heart. How are human minds and hearts battlefields of ideas and affections, especially when it comes to learning the deep meaning of happiness?
  •  Discuss the quotations and Bible verses in this chapter that mean the most to you.

Chapter Three: Disordered Lives: Seven (and Even More) Ways to Die

  • Introduction and Gollums ‘R’ Us. How did Gollum’s disordered love for the one ring — which he called “my precious!” — seriously disorder his life as a Hobbit (not to mention his appearance)? In a similar way, absent God, how might the things we regard as “my precious!” gollumize us in character and conduct, or even in the way we look? In what ways might our disordered loves become dehumanizing, if not demonic, and how might we become dehumanized, if not demonic, because of our disordered loves, per C. S. Lewis?
  • Idolatry. Could disordered lives result, not from too much love for people, places or things, but from too little love for God? What is idolatry, especially Frederick Buechner’s perspective? Can people live without something to worship? Why does the Bible described idolatry as spiritual adultery and as political treason? Verses cited: Jeremiah 7: 6; Exodus 20: 3-6; Deuteronomy 6: 5; 4: 4; Ezekiel 16, 23; Jeremiah 11; Psalm 115: 8
  • The Seven Deadly Sins. What is the history of the seven deadly sins? Why are there only seven of them? What kind of reputation does the first three and the last four have respectively, and why? How are the seven deadly sins connected and why is pride the root of them all? How is each sin an expression of disordered love? Verse cited: Matthew 6: 21
    • 3a. Pride. What is pride? How is it both an anti-God and anti-others state of mind? How does pride manifest itself in subtle and not-so-subtle ways … in your life and the lives of others? How is religious pride possible? Verse cited: Proverbs 13: 10 (KJV)

    • 3b. Envy. Define envy. What do the Germans call it? What are envy’s vertical (toward God) and horizontal (toward people) effects? In what clever ways have people express their envy toward others? In addition to King Saul’s envy of King David, can you think of other biblical examples of envy? Verses cited: Matthew 20: 15; 1 Samuel 18

    • 3c. Anger. Compare and contrast both righteous and unrighteous anger. What are some examples of unjust anger? Who does unjust anger hurt the most? What did Jesus and Paul have to say about this deadly sin? Verses cited: Mark 9: 19; 11: 15-18; Ephesians 4: 26; Psalm 4: 4; Proverbs 29: 22; Matthew 5: 21-22; Colossians 3: 8

    • 3d. Sloth. Why is sloth different from stereotypical laziness? Why might it be called the “noon-day demon”? What are the results of sloth as the absence of the love of God and spiritual caring, especially as the middle sin of the seven deadly sins? Why is sloth an insult to human dignity? Why did Augustine call God his “tardy joy”?

    • 3d. Avarice or Greed. What is avarice or greed? How and why do many people suffer from the financial disease of “affluenza”? What are the pluses and minuses of great wealth? Verses cited: Deuteronomy 8: 17; Job 31: 25; Psalm 49: 6; Proverbs 10: 15; 14: 20; 18: 11; 22: 7; 23: 4-5; Ecclesiastes 5: 10; Song of Solomon 8: 7; Luke 12: 13-21; 1 Timothy 6: 10

    • 3e. Gluttony. Define gluttony and describe both the gluttony of excess and the gluttony of delicacy. What are the private and public effects of either form of gluttony? Comment on Frederick Buechner’s quote: “A glutton is one who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.” Verses cited: Proverbs 23: 2, 20-21; Ecclesiastes 2: 25; 6: 7; Habakkuk 2: 5; Matthew 6: 25; Luke 12: 19; Philippians 3: 18-19

    • 3f. Lust. What is lust? What are the two basic reasons cited for lustful behavior, especially the second one? Discuss Bruce Marshall’s provocative quote: “The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.” What have been the personal and socio-cultural consequences of lust? Verse cited: Matthew 5: 28
  • The Disordered Life of the Seven Deadly Sins. I have imagined what the secret thoughts in the “gollumized” heart of a person dominated by the seven deadly sins would be. Undertake the same thought experiment yourself. What collective impact would such people have on the world as a whole? How do the seven deadly sins become deadly habits and addictions as well? Verse cited: Romans 6: 23

  • Habits and Addictions. What are habits and addictions? What personal and environmental factors, in addition to disordered love, help generate them? How are the habits and addictions we form related to our search for happiness? Why are habits and addictions so hard to break? Can anything deliver us?

  • Crime and Warfare. Explain the integral, cause/effect connection between the seven deadly sins, habits and addictions, and crime and warfare? How is the search for happiness and peace involved in this equation? How is the disorder of war also an expression of our disordered loves and lusts? If wars will continue so long as our hearts are as they are, what can be done to change our hearts? Verse cited: James 4: 1-2

  • Vanity of Vanities. What are the links in the chain that lead from disordered loves and lives to a woefully disordered world, just like the one we have today? What major lesson should we have learned by now in feverish, but unsuccessful hope, for a happy life, and how does the book of Ecclesiastes help? In the end, where have our ignorance and wrong desires led us? Verses cited: Ecclesiastes (whole book!).

  • Humor and Hope. If we are at the end of the rope, what strategies do we often employ to help us? How might laughter or humor be of assistance, especially when it comes to recognizing our continuous inability to discover the deep meaning of happiness? How can Abraham and Sarah’s laughter over the birth of Isaac point us in the right direction, especially when it comes to faith in Jesus Christ and his gospel? Verses cited: Genesis 17-18

  • Discuss the quotations and Bible verses in this chapter that mean the most to you.

Chapter Four: The Gospel: From Futility to the Living God

  • Introduction. Why did Jesus weep at the grave of Lazarus? What emotional state did Lazarus’s death provoke in Christ and why? What theological significance should we attach to the raising of Lazarus from the dead? How is this event illustrative of the meaning of the Christian gospel as a whole? Verses cited: John 11: 1-44 (especially vv. 25-26, 33, 35, 38, 43-44); Acts 10: 38
  • Hope for the Perpetually Unhappy. What might ongoing inner restlessness and failed attempts at happiness indicate? Discuss Augustine’s famous quote at the beginning of this section. Listen carefully to Switchfoot’s song “The Beautiful Letdown” and reflect on the ironic meaning of its lyrics. How can “letdowns” be beautiful? How might Jesus fit into this picture?
  • Jesus in the Gospel of John. What do Jesus’ seven miraculous signs (John 2: 1-11; 4: 46-54; 5: 1-9; 6: 1-14; 6: 16-21; 9: 1-41; 20: 1-31) and seven I AM claims (John 6: 35; 8: 12; 10: 7; 10: 11; 11: 25-26; 14: 6; 15: 1) in John’s gospel indicate about his purpose as the Messiah and Son of God? What do these things he did and said indicate he can do for you? Other verses cited: John 3: 16; 10: 10b; Exod. 3: 14
  • Who Is Jesus, Really? How is Jesus portrayed today in both popular culture and in academic circles? A rather lack-luster perception of Jesus is also quite common: where has it come and what about its influence? Verse cited: Matthew 16: 13, 15
  • Christ the Firebrand. How might a fresh rereading of the gospels correct distorted views of Jesus? How does he manifest a perfect blend of virtues in his character and conduct?
  • God Incarnate. What is the meaning of the term “incarnation,” its biblical basis and its theological significance? What are the elements of the overall biblical narrative and how is Christ’s incarnation its climax? What can be learned about Jesus from Charles Wesley’s famous Christmas carol, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”? Discuss the fundamental concepts about Christ in the Creed of Chalcedon.
  • Jesus Is Lord? Of the three options regarding the true identity of Jesus — Liar, Lunatic, or Lord — which one makes the most sense and why? Why did Paul claim in Philippians 2: 9-11 that everyone will eventually acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord?
  • The Kingdom of God. What do you think the kingdom of God is? How do people commonly understand this concept?
    • 8a. The Definition of the Kingdom. How does the Bible define the expression “kingdom of God” (or “kingdom of heaven”)? How does the notion of the kingdom fit into the overall biblical story? Verses cited: Psalm 145: 11-13; Matthew 3: 2; 4: 17; Mark 1: 15
    • 8b. The Redemptive Purpose of the Kingdom. What is the evidence that the kingdom of God was redemptive in nature? How do exorcisms in particular reveal the kingdom’s presence and redemptive purpose? Explain the kingdom meaning of Jesus’ tiny parable in Matthew 12: 29. Verses cited: Matthew 12: 25, 28-29
    • 8c. The Mystery of the Kingdom. In what sense was the kingdom of God that Jesus inaugurated a mystery? How do Jesus’ parables of the mustard seed and leaven, the hidden treasure and priceless pearl, the sower and the wheat and the tares show God’s kingdom to be a mystery? Verses cited: Luke 17: 20-21; Matthew 11: 2-6; 13: 1-52; Mark 4: 1-34; Luke 8: 4-21
    • 8d. The Kingdom and the Cross. In what sense is the kingdom as a mystery supremely manifested in Christ on the cross? How is the cross of Christ the superlative manifestation of God’s rule or kingdom? How has the kingdom as the cross (or the cross as the kingdom) befuddled both Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews)? How might it befuddle you? Verses cited: Mark 10: 45; 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31
  • Propitiation, Redemption, Reconciliation, Justification. What are the contexts or images from every day life that each of these teachings are based upon? State the biblical meaning and scriptural support for each of these major doctrines as they convey the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice and kingdom victory? How do these concepts apply to your quest to be right with God and to learn about the deep meaning of happiness in him?
  • What Must I Do to Be Saved? In what sense does human life consist of a quest to find some kind of salvation? What is repentance and how is prompted by an experience of the fear of God? What are the costs and benefits of turning to Christ or of not turn to Christ for salvation? Of what does faith consist, since it is the key to Christ? Verses cited: Acts 16: 31; Matthew 16: 24-26; Mark 8: 34-38; Luke 9: 23-25; Acts 4: 12
  • What Does It Mean to Be Saved? Explain how salvation costs you nothing, and yet it costs you everything. Why is there no such thing as “cheap grace”? What are the three signs of a sincere commitment to Christ? What do all three of these signs reveal about a change in your heart and the transformation of your loves? Verses cited: Matthew 28: 19; Acts 2: 38; 22: 16; Rom. 6: 3-4; Galatians 3: 27; 4: 19; Colossians 1: 28; 2: 11-12; 1 Peter 3: 21; 1 Corinthians 12: 13; 2 Peter 3: 18; Ephesians 4: 1; 2: 8-10
  • Discuss the quotations and Bible verses in this chapter that mean the most to you.

Chapter Five: Reordered Love: The Expulsive Power of a New Affection

  • Introduction. How does Johnny Cash’s story illustrate a reordering of his loves through the gospel? Do you see any parallels between his story and St. Augustine’s in chapter two? Between their stories and yours? Or someone else’s story you know? Explain.
  • “The Explusive Power of a New Affection.” According to Thomas Chalmers what is the only effective way disordered loves can be replaced with reordered loves through the gospel? What deep insight lies behind Chalmers’ proposed method, especially as it concerns human needs and loves? How might Chalmers’ ideas be potentially misleading and properly adjusted? Does your own experience validate Chalmers’ proposal?
  • Reordered Love for God. How has the gospel reordered your love for God? Respond to the following questions about the Greatest Commandment concerning love for God: What is God like whom we are to love? How do we know what he is like? How is God to be loved? How can we measure our affection for him? Why should we love him as we should? How does the poem on pp. 125-27 trace the plot of the biblical story as a source of the knowledge of God? Verses cited: Deuteronomy 6: 4-5; 6: 6-9; Mark 12: 29-30; Psalm 73: 28
  • Reordered Love for Self. How has the gospel reordered your love for yourself? Why is self-love assumed rather than commanded in the second greatest commandment? In what ways might self-love not only be natural but biblical? In what way/s does self-love underlie the blessings and warnings issued in Scripture? How can self-love become easily disordered? How then should we learn to love ourselves in reordered ways, thanks to Christ’s gospel? How does reordered love for self help explain Jesus’ “hard sayings” in the gospels that command us to deny or hate ourselves, etc.? How do you love yourself? Verses cited: Jude 21; Matthew 22: 39; Leviticus 19: 18; 2 Corinthians 5: 9-10; Matthew 10: 37; Luke 14: 26, 33; John 12: 25; Mark 8: 34
  • Reordered Love for Neighbors. How has the gospel reordered your love for your neighbors? How are the notions of the image of God and Christ’s incarnation foundational to neighbor love? Discuss how the Golden Rule, Christ’s New Commandment, the “one another” principles, and 1 Corinthians 13 all contribute to loving our neighbors as we love ourselves? Why does Christ expect us to apply these commandments to our enemies as well? How and why might Judgment Day motivate you to love others as yourself? Verses cited: 1 John 4: 1; Genesis 1: 16-28; Psalm 8: 5-8; Matthew 10: 29-31; Matthew 7: 12; Luke 6: 31; Luke 10: 37; John 13: 34-35; Mark 10: 42-45; Philippians 2: 5-8; John 13: 5, 13-15; see footnotes 32-36; 1 Corinthians 13; Matthew 5: 43-48; Romans 5: 8-10; James 2: 15-17; Matthew 25: 31-46
  • Reordered Love for Creation. How has the gospel reordered your love for creation and all creatures great and small? Why isn’t there an explicit commandment to love the creation as there are commandments to love God and others? How is love for creation implicit in the commandment to love others? How is love for people and love for creation inextricably combined in a practical way? How are elements from creation necessary for the love and worship of God? Described the sacramental nature of creation as an epiphany (revelation) of God and what this should mean for you in practical terms?
  • The Mark of the Christian. Why and how should love be the mark or “tattoo” of the Christian? In what way is love the “final apologetic” for Christianity? How did Aristide’s description of an early Christian community illustrate this kind of apologetic? How does your fellowship of faith compare? Verse cited: John 13: 35
  • Discuss the quotations and Bible verses in this chapter that mean the most to you.

Chapter Six: Reordered Lives: All Things New

  • Introduction. Discuss the symbolism and theological aspects of Eustace’s transformation from his “endragoned” state back into a boy again. Note any personal parallels you might be able to draw from this story about how the gospel reorders our loves and our lives. What does the selection of poetry from William Cowper add to your understanding of this transformative process?
  • Reordered Lives of Worship. Why would a reordered life begin with reordered worship? What is the worship of God, including your thoughts on this central theme? How all encompassing is the worship of God?
    • 2a. Worshipping God Individually. What does it mean to worship God in your personal life? How is this to be done?

    • 2b. Worshipping God in All of Life. What does it mean to worship God in every area of life? Why is worship often limited to the private sphere or to services in church? How is God to be skillfully worshipped in all our callings in life? What obstacles might you encounter if you are seeking to worship God as the very condition of your existence?

      2c. Worshipping God in Church. How is your worship of God personally and publicly (that is, in all aspects of your life) integrally connected with weekly worship in church? What role should the church at worship play in guarding you from idols, and keeping your loves and life rightly ordered?
  • Reordered Lives of Virtue. How is a reordered life of virtue an expression of reordered love flowing out of the gospel? What is a biblical view of the virtues and how does its perspective differ from classical Greek philosophy (or other outlooks)? How does the quest for holiness offset our former ignorance and wrong desire? Verse cited: 1 Peter 1: 14-16
    • 3a. Reordered Lives of Intellectual Virtue. Make the connection between a reordered love for Christ with a reordered life of the mind?  How is a “Christian mind” developed? What role do words, especially biblical words, play in the process? Are you a “verbivore”? What explicit intellectual virtues characterize a Christian mind? Analyze John Henry Newman’s notion of the perfection of the intellect. Discuss how it may be applied, along with the prayer from Thomas Aquinas. Verses cited: 1 Corinthians 1: 5; 2: 16; 14: 20; Matthew 22: 37; Philippians 2: 5; 1 Peter 1: 13; Jeremiah 15: 16
    • 3b. Reordered Lives of Moral Virtue. Which is more important to you and why: virtuous character or wealth? What does your answer reveal about the order of your loves and the character of your life? Verse cited: Proverbs 22: 1
  • Virtues in the New Testament. Discuss the coherent yet unique contributions that Paul, Peter and Jesus make respectively to our understanding of the virtues and the kind of reordered life they produce? How have the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount been understood? If they are, indeed, kingdom virtues, compare them with the seven deadly sins. How could this comparison serve as a basis to assess your own character and life? Verses cited: Galatians 5: 22-23; 2 Peter 1: 5-11; Matthew 5: 1-12
  • The Seven Cardinal Virtues. Trace the history of the seven cardinal virtues briefly and explain how they are an expression of reordered love. Discuss the meanings of the three theological virtues — faith, hope, and love — and how they challenge you at a personal level. Do the same for the four philosophical virtues — courage, justice, temperance, and prudence. Relate stories of their application in the lives of people you know or know of, and how you might embody them in your own life. Verses cited: Faith (Hebrews 11: 1, 6, 32-40; 1 Peter 3: 15; Galatians 2: 20; Romans 8: 28, 32; 2 Corinthians 5: 7; Proverbs 3: 5-6; Lamentations 3: 22-24), Hope (1 Peter 1: 3; 1 Timothy 6: 17; Matthew 6: 10), Love (1 John 4: 7-21), Courage (Joshua 1: 9; Daniel 3: 17-18), Justice (Deuteronomy 32: 4; Psalm 7: 11; 96: 13; Genesis 18: 25; Romans 3: 21-26; 5: 1; 2 Corinthians 5: 18-19; Jeremiah 22: 15-16; Micah 6: 8), Temperance (Romans 12: 3; 1 Corinthians 9: 26-27; 1 Timothy 3: 2, 11; Titus 1: 8; 2: 2, 5), Prudence (Proverbs 1: 4; 13: 16; 18: 15; 14: 8; 15: 5: 17: 28; 22: 3; 27: 12; 1 Timothy 3: 2; Matthew 25: 4)
    • 3c. Reordered Lives of Physical Virtue. How does a reordered love flowing out of the gospel not only result in a reordered life of intellectual and moral virtue, but also in a new found concern for physical virtue as well? What are the specific attitudes and actions manifesting a reordered life in connection with care for our bodies, for creation, and for the kingdom of the animals? Verses cited: Psalm 104: 24; Body care (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20; 3: 16-17), Creation care (Psalm 24: 1) Animal care (Genesis 2: 19-20; chapters 6-9; Exodus 20: 8-11; Deuteronomy 25: 4; Job 38-42; Psalm 145: 9; 147: 9; Matthew 10: 29; Proverbs 12: 10; John 1: 29; Isaiah 11: 6, 9)
    • 3d. A Reordered Life of Virtue. Compare the description of a reordered life of virtue with the description of a disordered life of vice. Write out a description of these two ways of life rooted in two kinds of love. What are the personal and public implications of these two alternatives? Discuss this quote from Augustine: “For every man’s life is good or bad according as his heart is engaged.”
  • Undermining Habits and Addictions, Crime and Warfare. In your view, is a reordered life of the worship of God combined with the vigorous cultivation of intellectual, moral, and physical virtue really capable of breaking the chains of bad habits and addictions? Could this radical change of heart also be the best crime-stopper of all? Could this same spiritual calculus also spell the end of war? Why? Why not? Verses cited: Romans 6: 18; 2 Corinthians 12: 9; Philippians 1: 6; 2: 13; Ephesians 4: 28; Ecclesiastes 3: 8; Isaiah 2: 4
  • Discuss the quotations and Bible verses in this chapter that mean the most to you.

Chapter Seven: A Mended Heart and the Deep Meaning of Happiness

  • Introduction. Do you sometimes wonder if happiness is possible in this life, even in its deep meaning of reordered loves and lives? Verse cited: Job 5: 7
  • “Already” but “Not Yet”. Do the coded meanings of the word shalom in the poem on pages 125-27 help you understand the manner in which the deep meaning of happiness is to be experienced at this point in God’s narrative plan for history? How does the New Testament view of the kingdom of God as both “already” but “not yet” provide the same context of understanding? Do the analogies of D-Day and VE-Day and of Spring Break help put this issue in perspective? Verses cited: John 14: 27; Genesis 1-2; Ephesians 1: 10; Revelation 21: 4-5; 1 Corinthians 15: 58; Romans 8: 31-39
  • Service, Suffering, and Sacrifice. How is service, as part of the deep meaning of happiness at this point in God’s narrative plan, connected to the theme of vocational calling? How wide in range or scope are our callings in life? How can we serve and be served, heal and be healed through them? Why is it unnecessary to seek opportunities outside your daily traffic patterns in life to suffer and sacrifice for Christ and the kingdom’s sake? What does John Milton’s poem add to your understanding of suffering and sacrifice? Is Ken Gire’s analogy based on the geological history of the state of Colorado helpful for you? Verses cited: 1 Peter 2: 21; 5: 7; Romans 8: 28-29
  • The Education of the Heart. If we to remain on the road of reordered loves and reordered lives, what kind of teachers, what kind of teaching, and what kind of students should make up the school of Christ for the education of the hearts? Verses cited: Ephesians 1: 18; 6: 13; Philippians 3: 14
  • Disciplines for the Purpose of Godliness. What is a spiritual discipline? How are spiritual disciplines cultivated? Why might “spiritual disciplines” be a misleading name? Discuss and evaluate Richard Foster’s and Dallas Willard’s categories, meanings and purposes of the disciplines. What is the difference between mandated and prudential disciplines? Do you adhere to this distinction in your life? What dangers can accompany the practice of the disciplines? In what contexts or life-settings are the disciplines best developed? Verses cited: 1 Timothy 4: 7; 1 Peter 2:11;
  • The Disciplines and Me. Are there any insights or practices in my own story with which you resonate or found helpful— whether on the Bible and books, the church and community, prayer in general and for oneself? Verses cited: Ezra 7: 10; Psalm 119: 162; 2 Timothy 4: 13; Acts 2: 42; Luke 11: 1; 1 John 1: 9; 5: 14-15; Matthew 6: 9-13; 7: 7; 21: 22; John 14: 13-14; James 5: 16; 1 Peter 5: 8; Galatians 5: 17, 24; 6: 14; Romans 12: 2; Colossians 2: 15; 2 Corinthians 2: 14
  • Conclusion. In what way, as G. K. Chesterton has claimed, is joy — the deep meaning of happiness — the gigantic secret of the Christian? Why might Jesus have hidden his mirth from us while he was on earth?

 

Discuss the quotations and Bible verses in this chapter that mean the most to you.