Focus 1 (of 4)-The Questions You Hold

Consider this ice breaker as you gather for the Spotlight.

What's the funniest or most random piece of advice you've ever received? Did it prove useful? 

Focus 1 | The Questions You Hold

Now that you've broken the ice, let's ask another question, this one about rabbit holes. 
See what this Spotlight—and series—is focused on.
Tap on the words "Focus 1" in the image below to read this Spotlight's summary.

Permit a few more rabbit-hole points...

“In fact, now I come to think of it, do we decide questions, at all? We decide answers, no doubt: but surely the questions decide us? It is the dog, you know, that wags the tail—not the tail that wags the dog.”
- Lewis Carroll

Tell us which is the “truest” to you? The questions you (and everyone around you) are asking do, in fact, exist—nobody can deny it. That being said, everyone has different feelings when their questions come.

When you click the button or scan the QR code below, you'll see quotes from different characters in Alice in Wonderland. Put them in order based on how well they reflect the way you feel about doubts, questions, answers, and the like.

+ ANSWER THE QUESTION
Discover everyone’s aggregated results from that question.
The interactive graphic in the link below has been taking stock of everyone’s answers (yes, even yours) and ordering them based on popular response. Check it out!

+ SEE THE RESPONSES


No matter how you feel about questions, this series is an invitation into them—and, as Lewis Carroll would say, into Wonderland. And just so you’re clear about where we’re headed: Think carefully about how “Wonderland” got its name… (Hint: It has nothing to do with being wonderful.)
Interact with this presentation to consider what God wants of you.
The Bible's story of Job is remarkable. Pain, doubt, questions, misinformation, and faith are all met with the same thing: The answer of the Almighty. In each part of this series, you'll walk with a different character from the story through their thoughts. First, you’ll hear from Job. Then, you'll hear from his terrible friends, followed by a young man named Elihu. Finally, the voice of God.

(If you’d like an excellent, quick summary of Job’s story, click here.)

Can you find yourself in these words? Before you interact with this image, get out some way to take notes—hopefully, one you’ll use for all four Spotlights in this series. As you interact, write down one or two of the things Job says that feel like they could have come from your own voice.
Pray with Job as you get comfortable with your questions.

Job by Jason Jasperson

Job’s journey was difficult, and it wasn’t entirely his fault. (Which sounds like a lot of people’s struggles with questions and doubts.) Perhaps most remarkably, Job’s story didn’t end with answers. It ended, instead, with Job being comfortable with God and therefore getting comfortable with his questions.

Does this mean that if you’d just “get comfortable with God” you’ll be fine with every question that comes along and won’t care about the answers?

Goodness, no. Absolutely not. Don’t be ridiculous.

It does mean, though, that it’s about MORE than just the question and answer. It’s also about getting comfortable with God and with God’s willingness to let you exist in those questions.

Let's use some of Job's quotes and pray the below prayer along with (if you want) this background music:
The goal is about 2 minutes of honest prayer that starts like this:

“God,
These words from Job felt like they could have come from me:
[insert a quote you chose from Job]

They make me think of questions about myself and you and the universe, like these:
[insert your questions and doubts]

You listened to Job while he was frustrated. I’m asking you to listen to me. Use these questions to bring me closer to you.
[add whatever else you’d like/have time for]

Amen.”

If you’re struggling, here are some Job quotes that might help:
  • Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? | Job 3:20–22
  • Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. | Job 7:11
  • Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest? | Job 21:22
Let’s answer this question: “If he’s worthy, why doesn’t he… ?” together.
Use the arrows in the frame below to navigate through this interactive experience.
Listen and sing along to this song.
Bonus? It’s also a prayer, and one you’ve probably prayed before.
Lyrics for Jesus, I Have My Doubts by Jon Foreman

Jesus, I’m sorry ‘bout last night.
Jesus, we both know I tried.
Jesus, feels like the worlds in pieces—
I’m sure you’ve got your reasons
but I have my doubts.
Jesus, I have my doubts.

Everything that’s right feels wrong
and all of my belief feels gone
and the darkness in my heart is so strong.
Can you reach me here in the silence?
Singing these broken songs.
Looking for the light for so long,
but the pain goes on and on and on…
Can you reach me here in the silence?

Jesus, what a week we’ve had.
Jesus, has the world gone mad?
Jesus, feels like the worlds in pieces—
I’m sure you’ve got your reasons
but I have my doubts.
Jesus, I have my doubts.

When everything that’s right feels wrong
and all of my belief feels gone
and the darkness in my heart is so strong,
can you reach me here in the silence?
Singing these broken songs,
looking for the light for so long
but the pain goes on and on and on…
Can you reach me here in the silence?

Are you there? Can you hear me?
Do you care? Are you near me?
’Cause I’m scared and I’m weary.
Are you there? Can you hear me?
Are you there? Can you hear me?
Do you care? Are you near me?
’Cause I’m scared and I’m weary.
Are you there?

Everything that’s right feels wrong
and all of my belief feels gone
and the darkness in my heart is so strong.
Can you reach me here in the silence?
Singing these broken songs,
looking for the light for so long
but the pain goes on and on and on…
Can you reach me here in the silence?

Can you reach me here in the silence?
I have my doubts.
Put your questions in a pile.
Want to see “behind the scenes” in Spotlight prep? Here’s a list of the taglines that were developed for this series:
  • “This is a series that will leave you with more questions than answers.”
  • “Sometimes the questions are more important than the answers.”
  • “Question everything… and let the Almighty answer.”
  • “Come for the answers, stay for the questions.”
  • “$10 says church has more questions than you do.”
  • “What good is the answer if you don’t know the question?”

The point? This series really is designed to help you identify your questions because identifying your questions helps you grow by getting you honest about your room for growth and your status as a human being.






Follow the steps below to add your questions to the pile.

One important note: the questions you submit during this activity—your questions together with your name—will be publicly visible once submitted. (If you have a question you’re sincerely uncomfortable sharing here, please email it privately to Illume’s pastor, Kent Reeder at kent@illume.church.)
  1. First, and foremost, commit to not judging the questions that come up in this activity - including the ones that come from you. The only “wrong” question is the dishonest question.
  2. Second, and second-most, commit to not answering the questions that come up in this activity. It’s okay, even if you believe you have the answer, to wait to share it until another day.
  3. Begin with this prayer:
    Lord, use our questions to reach out to us and draw us to you. Amen.
  4. If you’re doing this Spotlight in a group, wish each other the best and turn off your camera/go to different areas so you can have privacy to think over and submit your questions.
  5. Have someone set a timer for five minutes. They’ll bring everyone back after time is up.
  6. Start thinking (if you haven’t yet). It might help to jot notes down as you formulate your question(s).
  7. Submit your questions—as many as you'd like—through the form below.

The kinds of questions that belong here are quite varied…
  • Sometimes they are about things that happen around the world. 
  • Sometimes they are about the way God’s church on earth functions. 
  • Sometimes they are about the way God functions.
  • Sometimes they are about life & direction.
  • Sometimes they are about a point in the Bible. 
  • Sometimes they are about God’s existence and character.

(But remember that no questions are off limits. This is a judgment-free zone.)

Okay, enough preamble. Ready or not, here we go.
Discover the glory of God and kings.
Questions are good. In fact, God encourages you seek out the right questions and answers—he even calls it glorious.


Notice the way this verse is made up of two parallel statements. By analyzing them, you should be able to get a sense for at least one reason why God gives you the questions you hold.

Hint: You can tap on the following images of text to reveal even more.
“It is the…” vs “but the…”

What can you infer from the order of things in this verse? Who is the actor, and who is the reactor?
“glory” vs “glory”

When doing something gives the doer “glory,” that’s a good thing. 
  • Tell a story of a time you did something that was your “glory” because you did it.
  • What glory does it give God to be concealing things, and what glory are humans getting to search out those things?
“of God” vs “of kings”

  • This might be the simplest difference. 
  • Why do you think Solomon said “kings” here instead of “peasants” or “white-collar workers” or someone from another station in life? (Hint: The answer here can be both contextual and conceptual.)
“to conceal” vs “to search out”

  • Here is the big issue. 
  • Why would God conceal something he knows humans are going to have to try to search out? Hint: Consider the way these two concepts are connected to each other.
“a matter” vs “a matter”

  • When a person is trying to search out a “matter,” what is their goal? (Don’t overthink this one.) 
  • When God looks at the “matter” at hand, what ultimate goal does he have for it? 

So, finally, explain: 

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”
Since we're focused, in this series, on big questions and "letting the Almighty answer" them, let's consider in our Serve sections asking what may be smaller questions of, no offense, smaller people (than God.)

For today, watch and react to this video. 
Now, discuss the video with your group.

  1. How do you do when it comes to asking people direct questions? 
  2. Do you feel like people are comfortable asking questions of you? 
  3. How is being a good question asker and a good question receiver a way to truly serve those around you? 
Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests



Contact
Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
Pray about questions, answers, and wisdom using the video below.
As you finish this first Spotlight of the series and embrace the questions, reflect prayerfully on what wise King Solomon learned after a lifetime of seeking answers to big questions.
Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.
Feel free to sing along or simply listen. Do what makes you comfortable—but do whatever helps you focus on the song's meaning best.
Let's wrap things up by taking a look at what's Current at Illume.

Tap on the buttons in the frame below to see what’s currently happening at Illume—information on everything from current and upcoming online content to live events and opportunities to serve in the community can all be found here.                          

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