Before You Go

This page provides all the additional materials from the "Before You Go" booklet. Please refer to each section as you encounter them.

Reflection 1: Who is God?

Could you believe in a God who sits down to eat with anyone, even with the "wrong" people?

Psalm 8:1-4

Our LORD and Ruler, your name is wonderful everywhere on earth!
You let your glory be seen in the heavens above.
With praises from children and from tiny infants, you have built a fortress
.It makes your enemies silent, and all who turn against you are left speechless. 
I often think of the heavens your hands have made, and of the moon and stars you put in place. 
Then I ask, "Why do you care about us humans? Why are you concerned for us weaklings?" (CEV)

Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus was leaving, he saw a tax collector named Matthew sitting at the place for paying taxes. Jesus said to him, "Come with me." Matthew got up and went with him. Later, Jesus and his disciples were having dinner at Matthew's house. Many tax collectors and other sinners were also there. Some Pharisees asked Jesus' disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and other sinners?" Jesus heard them and answered, "Healthy people don't need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and learn what the Scriptures mean when they say, `Instead of offering sacrifices to me, I want you to be merciful to others.' I didn't come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners." (CEV)


"I Am Yours" by Casting Crowns



Reflection 2: What Can Jesus Do for Me that I Can't Do for Myself?

Even when we were killing him, Jesus was forgiving us. 
Have you ever needed forgiveness that deep?

Luke 15:11-32

Jesus also told them another story: Once a man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, "Give me my share of the property." So the father divided his property between his two sons.Not long after that, the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living.He had spent everything, when a bad famine spread through that whole land. Soon he had nothing to eat.
He went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs. He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing. Finally, he came to his senses and said, "My father's workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! I will go to my father and say to him, `Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.'"
The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him. The son said, "Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son." But his father said to the servants, "Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate. This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found." And they began to celebrate. 
The older son had been out in the field. But when he came near the house, he heard the music and dancing. So he called one of the servants over and asked, "What's going on here?" The servant answered, "Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father ordered us to kill the best calf." The older brother got so angry that he would not even go into the house. His father came out and begged him to go in. But he said to his father, "For years I have worked for you like a slave and have always obeyed you. But you have never even given me a little goat, so that I could give a dinner for my friends. This other son of yours wasted your money on prostitutes. And now that he has come home, you ordered the best calf to be killed for a feast." 
His father replied, "My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we should be glad and celebrate! Your brother was dead, but he is now alive. He was lost and has now been found." (CEV)

Luke 23:33-34 

When the soldiers came to the place called "The Skull," they nailed Jesus to a cross. They also nailed the two criminals to crosses, one on each side of Jesus. Jesus said, "Father, forgive these people! They don't know what they're doing." While the crowd stood there watching Jesus, the soldiers gambled for his clothes. (CEV)

Look at two artists' portrayals of God's forgiveness:

http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/digital-collection/01.+Paintings/43413/?lng=en


http://www.jesusmafa.com/?dt_portfolio=n-36-le-fils-retrouve-lc-15-1-3-11-12



Reflection 3: Why Am I Here?

"I was born to_______."  
Can you fill in that blank?

John 18:33-38 

Pilate then went back inside. He called Jesus over and asked, "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Are you asking this on your own or did someone tell you about me?" "You know I'm not a Jew!" Pilate said. "Your own people and the chief priests brought you to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom doesn't belong to this world. If it did, my followers would have fought to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. No, my kingdom doesn't belong to this world." "So you are a king," Pilate replied. "You are saying that I am a king," Jesus told him. "I was born into this world to tell about the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth knows my voice." Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" Pilate went back out and said, "I don't find this man guilty of anything! (CEV)

Matthew 5:14-16

You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven. (CEV)

Check out these powerful witnesses to God's truth and light:



Reflection 4: What or who is in charge of my life?


Competing loyalties can cause a lot of stress.  
Who or what is most important to you?

Acts 5:26-32

The captain went with some of the temple police and brought the apostles back. But they did not use force. They were afraid that the people might start throwing stones at them. 
When the apostles were brought before the council, the high priest said to them, "We told you plainly not to teach in the name of Jesus. But look what you have done! You have been teaching all over Jerusalem, and you are trying to blame us for his death." 
Peter and the apostles replied: We don't obey people. We obey God. You killed Jesus by nailing him to a cross. But the God our ancestors worshiped raised him to life and made him our Leader and Savior. Then God gave him a place at his right side, so that the people of Israel would turn back to him and be forgiven. We are here to tell you about all this, and so is the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to everyone who obeys God. (CEV)

Romans 10:9

So you will be saved, if you honestly say, "Jesus is Lord," and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death. (CEV)

Check out one man who refused to follow any authority except Jesus Christ:



Reflection 5: Am I Ready to Start Over?


New beginnings don't have to wait for the calendar year to turn.  
What could you use a new start with today?

John 3:1-8

There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. One night he went to Jesus and said, "Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you." Jesus replied, "I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God's kingdom!" Nicodemus asked, "How can a grown man ever be born a second time?" Jesus answered: I tell you for certain that before you can get into God's kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. Humans give life to their children. Yet only God's Spirit can change you into a child of God. Don't be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God's Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. (CEV)

Mark 10:13-16

Some people brought their children to Jesus so that he could bless them by placing his hands on them. But his disciples told the people to stop bothering him. When Jesus saw this, he became angry and said, "Let the children come to me! Don't try to stop them. People who are like these little children belong to the kingdom of God. I promise you that you cannot get into God's kingdom, unless you accept it the way a child does." Then Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them by placing his hands on them. (CEV)

Here's a story about a popular author's new beginning:



Reflection 6: But Can't I Have Jesus without the Church?


Churches turn a lot of people off.  
What kind of a church would make you want to go?

John 13:1-15, 34-35

It was before Passover, and Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and to return to the Father. He had always loved his followers in this world, and he loved them to the very end. Even before the evening meal started, the devil had made Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, decide to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that he had come from God and would go back to God. He also knew that the Father had given him complete power. So during the meal Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist.He put some water into a large bowl. Then he began washing his disciples' feet and drying them with the towel he was wearing. 
But when he came to Simon Peter, that disciple asked, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You don't really know what I am doing, but later you will understand." "You will never wash my feet!" Peter replied. "If I don't wash you," Jesus told him, "you don't really belong to me." 
Peter said, "Lord, don't wash just my feet. Wash my hands and my head." Jesus answered, "People who have bathed and are clean all over need to wash just their feet. And you, my disciples, are clean, except for one of you." Jesus knew who would betray him. That is why he said, "except for one of you." 
After Jesus had washed his disciples' feet and had put his outer garment back on, he sat down again. Then he said: Do you understand what I have done? You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. 
34 But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.(CEV)

Look at these churches' websites. 

Can you imagine being there? 
What attracts you and what concerns you? 


Reflection 7: What's Next?


God doesn't program us like robots.  
Following Jesus is your choice.  What do you choose?

Matthew 4:18-20

While Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers. One was Simon, also known as Peter, and the other was Andrew. They were fishermen, and they were casting their net into the lake. Jesus said to them, "Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish." Right then the two brothers dropped their nets and went with him. (CEV)

John 15:14-16

And you are my friends, if you obey me. Servants don't know what their master is doing, and so I don't speak to you as my servants. I speak to you as my friends, and I have told you everything that my Father has told me. You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last. Then my Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name. (CEV)

Use this photo by akahodag@flickr.com to think about where you want to travel next:
Road

Before You Go

Now that you've arrived at the end of this trail, be sure to talk to the person who gave you the book.

Talk about this leg of your life journey with your travelling companion, if you have one.