Some questions for discussion on Eric Metaxas’ chapter on George Washington.
Metaxas says, “If you wonder whether one person’s actions can matter, and if you wonder whether character matters, you needn’t look any further than the story of George Washington.” Later he states that Washington believed God had a purpose for his life. Do you ever wonder about this? Can one person’s action matter? Does God have a purpose for everyone’s life? How might that knowledge change a person? What’s God’s purpose for your life?
How would you characterize Washington in his first military experience in Western Pennsylvania (in the early days of The French and Indian War)? What kinds of character traits do you observe? Throughout the remainder of the war, what do you see developing in Washington?
In his letter to George Fairfax, Washington speaks of the dichotomy before him: Engaging in a bloody revolution or becoming a nation of slaves to England. He goes on to write, “Sad alternative! But can a virtuous Man hesitate in his choice?” Have you ever been in a position where you only had two options — and neither was desirable? Upon what did Washington apparently base his decision on these two alternatives?
How do leaders in your life compare to this statement about Washington: He seems discreet and virtuous, no harum-scarum, ranting, swearing fellow, but sober, steady, and calm. Why would anyone not strive to be like this?
According to Washington’s nephew, how often did Washington read his Bible and pray? How does one find time for this?
What does Joseph Ellis mean when he says Washington “knew himself well enough to resist the illusion that he transcended his human nature?” Why is this knowledge significant or important in one’s life?
In a sentence, how would you answer the question, “What was the secret to Washington’s greatness?”
If you’re having trouble understanding the concept of semiotics, think of it as “reading the room.” Everyone does this. Guys do it all the time. They walk into a gathering — a party, a hunting camp, a ball field, a small group — and they look around and see who’s who and what’s what. Who are the leaders? Who are the followers? Who are the pretenders? What are the unwritten rules? What are the risks? What are the rewards? At twelve years of age, you learned to do this so that you could posture — strike the appropriate pose. 🙂
The difference in Sweet’s nudging semiotics is that you’re not reading the room — you’re reading what God might be doing in the room. You’re asking questions like, Has God opened any hearts? Is he already at work here? How can I cooperate with what he is doing? You’re using the Henry Blackaby tactic of discovering where God is working — and joining him there.
Potential Discussion Questions
Sweet lays out three premises: “1) Jesus is alive and active in our world; 2) Followers of Jesus ‘know’ Jesus well enough to recognize where he is alive and moving in our day; 3) Evangelists nudge the world to wake up to the alive and acting Jesus and nudge others in ways God is alive and moving” (p. 66). Do you grasp and concur with these premises?
Do you feel that your experience with God has been one where Jesus is “present tense” (p. 68)? Is Jesus active in your day to day experience? If one is not seeing this, what might need to occur?
Sweet says, “Rather than wresting the sinner’s prayer out of a person who will say anything to get out of the headlock, it is a nudge toward the undeniable truth that is alive in all of us. Such a nudge is a shared moment over the crib of the firstborn of a friend counting toes and marveling at the entire miniature beauty, the acknowledgement of a miracle. What parent, in that moment, would contradict? There is little talk of primordial soup in or big bangs in the hospital nursery” (p. 70).
Have you experienced those divine moments in conversation with another? Share.
Sweet says that “…the bulk of the work of Christ…is not done in a court context. It is done in a hospital context, which is all about health and healing. The quicker we can move those racked by their afflictions from the courtroom to the hospital, the quicker we’re about the healing and restoring work of Christ and the church.” What does he mean — “court context” vs “hospital context”?
The seven deadly sins are: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. Do you feel like “gloom” is a viable candidate to be included in a list of deadly sins (p. 85)?
Sweet gives ten reasons we struggle to see Jesus: 1) We are too close (over-familiarity? ); 2) We’ve created a false division between the sacred and the secular; 3) We suffer from resurrection phobia (We like the God on the pages, not the God in real life); 4) We fail to see the essential nature of “relationship” in recognition; 5) Jesus tends not to show up where we expect him and not to announce himself with trumpets; 6) We don’t look for him where there is joy; 7) We don’t earnestly desire to see him; 8) We emphasize what WE do instead of what CHRIST does; 9) We want a “real” kingdom, so we politicize our faith; 10) We lose heart because God doesn’t come through the way we expect (demand) he should.Which of these ten are struggles for Christians you know? For you?