Sunday, 23 December 2012


December 2, 2012. Isaiah 9:1-7. Isaiah's Advent song.

December 9, 2012. Luke 1:39-45. Elizabeth's Advent song.'When God chooses you for a task'

December 16, 2012. Luke 1:46-56. Mary's Advent song. 'The Anatomy of Privilege'

December 23, 2012. Luke 1:67-80. Zechariah's Advent song.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Imitating Christ: Love Each Other

Small Group Discussion Questions

1.      Describe a time when you learned that a close friend or beloved relative was going to move away from you. How did you feel? What thoughts ran through your mind? What did you do to cope with the troubling news?

2.      Read John 13:31-38.

3.      Share one thought from this week’s sermon that stood out to you.

4.      Jesus says: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him”. What does Jesus mean?

5.      In verse 34 Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Pastor Bill suggested that the love we are called to is new in its measure (it stoops low, is self-sacrificial and inclusive), it is new in its capacity (we are given a new capacity), and it is new in its fruitfulness. Keeping this in mind, reflect on the love Jesus has for His disciples. Share some passages from the Bible that highlight His love. Describe His love. What thoughts/feelings run through your mind as you think of His love? How should we respond to this love?

6.      Why might some feel despair over such a command? Why is there no need to feel this despair?

7.      How does love demonstrate that we are followers of Jesus Christ? Have you personally been drawn closer to Christ by what Bill calls the “mission of attraction”? Describe this experience.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Imitating Christ: Doing Great Works Like Christ

Small Group Discussion Questions

1. What is the “coolest” or “most amazing” thing that you have ever seen (eg. the Human Cannonball or a performance by Cirque du Soleil)? Spend a few minutes describing this marvel.

2. Refresh your memories on the works of Jesus. Have each person look up one of the works Jesus does in the Gospels and share this work with the rest of the group.

3. How do the works that Jesus did differ from the works of someone like Gandhi (if you don’t know much about the life of Gandhi, have some people in your group quickly skim through some of his actions in Wikipedia)?

4. What do you think Bill meant by saying that miracles/signs are inadequate, and that we should not be silent? As Leslie Newbigin once wrote: "We have to keep hold of both parts of the truth. Our evangelism will be futile if it is mere words not authenticated by deeds. But our deeds will be futile if they do not eventually find their full meaning in the message of the Gospel which has to be proclaimed by words."

5. Read John 14:12-14. What were the main points of the sermon? What is one thing that stood out for you from the sermon?

6. Recall some of the works of the early Church. Read Acts 2:1-13, 3:1-10, 5:12-16 and 20:7-12.

7. Have any of you ever seen or performed a work similar to these ones (or do you have a friend who has)? Describe this experience.

8. Many Christians in Canada wonder why we do not see more of these mighty works. Reflecting on today’s passage and on other passages which come to mind, what possible reasons can you find for this?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Imitating Christ: Sent Out

*A PRINT button has been added to the bottom left of each blog post*

Small Groups – Week of November 11
Preparation (do this prior to attending your small group)

Read: John 17:18
Reflect: Reflect on Jesus being sent into the world. What was He to do in the world? What reception did he get?
Pray: Pray that God would raise up servants to speak for Him in Toronto and in the world.

Small Group Discussion Questions

1.       Describe a time when someone prayed for you (or you knew of someone praying for you). What difference did this prayer make in your life?

2.       Have a few people from the group share an experience they had in sharing the Gospel message. What reception did you receive? What was the outcome?

3.       What is one thing which struck you from Sunday’s sermon?

4.       Read John 17. Share one thing which stands out for you from this prayer of Jesus.

5.       Read Matthew 28:16-20. What is included in the process of making disciples? What difference does knowing that Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth make to you? What difference does it make knowing that Jesus is always with us?

6.       Read Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. What gift or gifts do you believe God has given you? Does anyone in your group see any gifts in you that you have not noticed yet? In what capacity do you believe God has called you to exercise your gift or gifts? John Perkins writes: “I’ve run across a lot of fiery-eyed young people who declare, ‘God has called me to come here.’ Then two weeks later, when things get a little bit rough, they’re on the bus headed back home. God’s call doesn’t work that way. I believe the call of God is sort of a trap-He pushes us in and then closes the door. We can’t just run in and out. God’s call is when God nails your feet to the floor. One proof that you’re really called of God is that you can never get away from that call. I’ve met men in old folks’ homes who tell me that years before God called them with a message, but they didn’t carry the message. They are some of the saddest old men I’ve ever met. You can say no to God’s call, but you can never be at peace without obeying it.” Is there a sense of calling on your life that you have not yet acted upon?

7.       Read Luke 10:2. Spend some time praying for “our” missionaries. Pray that God would raise up more servants to go into the world and speak for Him.

8.       In concluding, have each person share one way that this small group experience has been of benefit to you.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Imitating Christ: Persecution

Small Groups – Week of November 4

Preparation (do this prior to attending your small group) 
Read: Romans 8:28
Reflect: Think about the passage you’ve just read. What does it mean? Do you truly believe it? Does this passage bring comfort to any areas of your life? 
Pray: That suffering would not harm your faith. Pray that in the midst of suffering you would turn to God for comfort and trust that He is using your suffering for good. 

Small Group Discussion Questions 

1. How do you respond to physical pain? Are you heroic? A martyr? A silent sufferer? Do you share your suffering with everyone you meet? Are you a whiner? Feel free to share any stories that demonstrate your PPSS (physical pain suffering style).

2. What has helped you deal with pain in the past (any type of pain)?

3. Have you ever encountered anyone who believed that suffering had no place in the Christian life? If so, share some of this person’s thoughts. 

4. How have you suffered for being a Christian? Share a story or two. In the light of suffering, what keeps you going as a Christian?

5. Read John 15:18-27. Share one thing which stood out to you from this week’s sermon. What were the main points from the message?

6. Read Hebrews 5:8. Amazingly, Jesus learned obedience through suffering. What implications does this have for 
your life?

7. Read Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46. By looking at how Jesus dealt with difficultly here, what principles can you discern to apply to your own life in the midst of suffering?

8. Read Acts 7:54-8:1. How does God use suffering to bless the church?

9. Read James 1:2-4. How do trials lead to your Christian growth? Discuss the steps James lists thoroughly and share personal examples of how you have seen this happening in your own life. Have you ever been able to go through a trial with joy? Describe this experience.

10. In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis writes: “We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the ‘intolerable compliment’. Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life—the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child—he will take endless trouble—and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and recommenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumbnail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.” In your opinion, does C. S. Lewis do a good job of showing that suffering is actually evidence of God’s love and not of His indifference? How might reading this help you with suffering in the future?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Imitating Christ: Being Filled with the Spirit

TAC - Imitating Jesus: Being Filled With The Spirit by Tacblogs on Mixcloud

Small Groups – Week of October 28

Preparation (do this prior to attending your small group)

Read: Romans 8:1-17

Pray: Spend some time confessing areas of sin in your life which you need the power of God to overcome. Pray to God for that power. Pray that God would empower you and other members of TAC for holiness.

Small Group Discussion Questions 

1.    Describe a time when you had to follow someone (in a car, on a hike, etc.). What were the benefits of following this person? What were the challenges?

2.    Read Galatians 5:16-26.

3.    What does it mean to carry out the desire of the flesh? What manifestations of this type of life are most prominent in Toronto?

4.    Read Ezekiel 36:22-32 and Romans 8:1-17. What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? As a group memorize Galatians 5:22-23.

5.    Bible scholar F. F. Bruce writes: “Over six hundred years after the ratification of the covenant of Moses’ day at the foot of Mount Sinai, the prophet Jeremiah announced that, in days to come, the God of Israel would establish a new covenant with his people to replace that which he had made with the Exodus generation when he ‘took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt’ (Jer. 31:31-34). That ancient covenant made the divine will plain to them, but did not impart the power to carry it out; for lack of that power they broke the covenant. Under the new covenant, however, not only the desire but the power to do the will of God would be imparted to his people: his law would be put within them and written on their hearts.”
Can anyone in your group testify to a new power for obedience given to you in your Christian walk? Share about this experience.

6.    Galatians 5:24 reads: “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Reflect on this statement. What are the implications of our flesh being crucified? You may want to explore Romans 6 as you answer this question. 

7.    Encourage one another by sharing how you see the fruit of the Spirit in each other’s lives. 

8.    In groups of 2 or 3 (of members of the same sex) share one area where the flesh is exerting an influence in your life. Pray for one another for forgiveness and power to overcome.


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Imitating Christ: Being Selfless

Small Groups – Week of October 21
Preparation (do this prior to attending your small group)

Contemplate: What is the cross? What does it symbolize?

Read: Mark 8:34-38 (three or four times, slowly)

Reflect: Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” What do you suppose he means by this? Do you agree with him?

Pray: Pray that Christ would be the unqualified Lord of your life and of TAC. Pray that God would reveal to you any idols you might have so that you can turn from them.

Small Group Discussion Questions

1.       If you were to get a tattoo what would it be of?

2.       What are some present-day symbols and what do they represent? What does the cross mean in popular culture today? What does the cross mean to you?

3.       Read Mark 8:31-38. A. W. Tozer says the following about the cross: “The cross of old Roman times knew no compromise ; it never made concessions. It won all its arguments by killing its opponent and silencing him for good. . . . The cross effects its ends by destroying one established pattern, the victim’s, and creating another pattern, its own. Thus it always has its way. It wins by defeating its opponent and imposing its will upon him. It always dominates. It never compromises, never dickers [bargains] nor confers, never surrenders a point for the sake of peace. It cares not for peace; it cares only to end its opposition as fast as possible. ” What do you think Christ means when He says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”?

4.       Pastor Bill said that to deny ourselves means that we need to change the very control-centre of our lives. Practically speaking, what does this mean?

5.       What is one “idol” you have struggled with in your Christian walk? How have you found victory over this idol?

6.       Read Philippians 2:1-11. Christ our Lord is the ultimate example of self-humbling. How does knowing that Christ humbled Himself help you in your self-denial?

7.       Why might a Christian living in Toronto in 2012 be ashamed of Jesus Christ?

8.       If we find ourselves ashamed of Jesus, what might this say about our relationship with Him? How can we overcome any shame we feel about Him?

9.       In pairs, share one thing in your life that is still competing with Christ for pre-eminence. Pray for one another, that God would give you the strength to deny yourself.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Imitating Christ in Rest

Small Groups – Week of October 14Preparation (do this prior to attending your small group)
Contemplate: What is rest? Is it important for the Christian? Why or why not?
Read: Matthew 11:28-30 (three or four times – slowly)
Reflect: Close your eyes and think about these words of Jesus. How do these words make you feel? What significance do they have for the person who is broken and tired? What significance do they have for the person who is “all-together” and successful?
Pray: That God would meet you and others of the TAC community through rest. That you would have sufficient energy to do what God has called you to do.

Small Group Discussion Questions
1.       Describe your perfect day off.
2.       Discuss Genesis 2:1-3. What happens in this passage? What questions does this passage bring to mind? Does anything surprise you in this passage?
3.       God calls His people, Israel, to rest on the Sabbath day (read Exodus 20:8-11). Why do you suppose God wanted His people to rest on a regular basis? What are the advantages of rest?
4.       What are some principles that can be discerned from reading these passages in the Gospels: Matthew 12:1-14 and Mark 6:30-44.
5.       The observance of the Sabbath is not a law binding on Christians (read Colossians 2:8-23). Do you think that the principle of six days of work and one day of rest is still a good one to follow? Why or why not?
6.       Read Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” St. Augustine of Hippo said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Does your own testimony agree with this statement? How so?
7.       Pastor Bill challenged us to allow our Christian service to flow out of our relationship with God – to find the strength for service in God, to do what God is already doing, to find His will and wisdom in times of prayer.  Read Mark 1:35-39; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12-16; John 5:19-20; Philippians 2: 12-13 and 4:13. How do these passages speak to this challenge? How might your life be different if you took up this challenge?     
8.       Share ways in which the spiritual disciplines (such as prayer, Bible reading, meditation, fasting, etc.) have vitalized your spiritual life and service.
9.       What thing in your life is most likely to get in the way of your rest? What can you do to ensure that you find time to rest? How can you make God a part of your rest?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Imitating Jesus - Week 1

TAC - Imitating Jusus Week1 by Tacblogs on Mixcloud 

Small Groups – Week of October 7

Preparation (do this prior to attending your small group)
Contemplate: What, in your opinion, is discipleship?

Read: Luke 9:57-62

Reflect: What does this passage teach you about the nature of discipleship? Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” What do you think he meant by this statement? Do you agree with him?

Pray: That God would teach you more about following Christ over this next week through the Sunday sermon, your small group and personal reflection. Pray that you would be empowered to follow Christ with the devotion He so richly deserves. Pray that Toronto Alliance Church would be known city-wide as a community of believers fully devoted to the Lordship of Christ.

Small Group Discussion Questions

1.       Who was someone you looked up to as a child or teenager (this person can be fictional or non-fictional)? How did you visibly demonstrate your admiration of this individual? (For instance, I (Jeff) looked up to Arnold Schwarzenegger as a teen (not the best role model, I know). In my admiration of the Governator I decided to get a haircut similar to the one he had in the movie Predator (Yes, I used to have hair).)

2.       Read Luke 9:57-62.

3.       Share one thing that stood out to you from the sermon on Sunday.

4.       In verse 57 we meet someone who was very eager to follow Jesus Christ. What might make someone eager to follow Him?

5.       Many people seem to think that they can be Christians without following Jesus (i.e. They accept the gift of eternal life but do not give Christ complete authority over their lives). Jan David Hettinga, in his book Follow Me: Experience the Loving Leadership of Jesus suggests: “Today, we are experiencing a crisis of commitment for the most ordinary of reasons. We are not asking for it! We have failed to show what discipleship means at the heart level, or how to follow Christ from the depths of our being. Somehow, we have mistakenly assumed that saving grace must be isolated from the call to follow—the call to enter into the kingdom of God, which is where followers of God live.” What evidence might there be in someone’s life which would demonstrate that they are disciples or followers of Christ?
6.       The individual in verse 57 likely did not consider the cost of following Jesus (see verse 58). What are the costs of following Jesus in Toronto in the year 2012?
7.       In verses 59-62 we encounter two more individuals. The first is called by Christ to follow and the second commits to follow. What do these encounters tell us about the priority of Christ in our lives?
8.       Christ demands the supreme place in our lives. He is our Lord and King and all authority in heaven and on earth have been given to Him. What is one thing in your life that gets in the way of your discipleship/following of Christ? What are you going to do about this struggle?
9.        Sunder Krishnan, Sr. Pastor of Rexdale Alliance Church writes:
“In a survey a few years back Christian researcher George Barna found that there are an estimated forty-five million individuals in North America who claim to be born again based on two basic convictions: they believe that a personal commitment to Jesus Christ is important, and they believe they are going to heaven because they have confessed their sins and received Him as Savior. In other words, they have satisfied what they believe are heaven’s minimum entrance requirements. But Barna’s survey also found that the lifestyles and values of the majority (about 66 percent) of these “born again” individuals are really not much different from those who claim no faith in Christ.
                If you find yourself among this grouping of people, who call themselves Christians but whose lives don’t clearly reflect the character of Christ, then I must confront you with a sobering possibility: perhaps you need to take a very close look at your spiritual condition. Is it possible that you really aren’t born again after all? Please hear me out.
The wonderful news is that God gives us the power through His Holy Spirit to live as obedient disciples of Christ. Philippians 2:13 reads: “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” As you finish your meeting, pray for each other – that we would find victory over this issue that gets in the way of our commitment to Christ and that we would live as committed followers of Jesus Christ.