Kicking Safe, Comfortable Christianity to the Curb

2015 RightNow Conference

We get to be involved in God’s Kingdom purposes because He delights to include us, not because there’s a deficit without us. In this 40-minute session from the 2015 RightNow Conference, Lisa Harper digs deep into Mark 9 and encourages pastors and ministry leaders to commune with God in both the mountaintop and valley experiences of life.

Lisa Harper is the author of A Perfect Mess, Untamed, Stumbling Into Grace, and Believing Jesus: Are You Willing to Risk Everything? She also has two best-selling video-based Bible study curriculums: Malachi: A Love That Never Lets Go and Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus

As you watch this session, take notes and write down thoughts on how it can impact your ministry.

Lisa’s message centers on Mark 9 where Jesus performs a powerful miracle amidst a fearful crowd and also stands transfigured beside His friends on a mountain. It’s about having roots so deep that they are not compromised when you’re on either the mountaintop or in the valley.  

Would you say you’re currently on the mountaintop or in the valley in your life or ministry right now? Why do you say that?
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If you’re comfortable with doing so, name a current or past valley experience where you struggled with how God responded to your needs. Describe how that feels/felt.
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What do you notice about your faith when circumstances are trying? When life turns out to be more difficult than you thought it would be, do you tend to run closer to God, or shy away from Him? Why is that?
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Lisa said that God’s sovereignty extends beyond time and space. The crowds, for example, likely thought that God was no longer faithful after the boy went limp. Little did they know, though, God was still at work and had plans to heal the boy completely. 

Share a time when God was up to something big behind-the-scenes, but you were too focused on the “here and now” to imagine or believe it.
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Lisa’s new favorite part of Mark 9 is the part about the crowds being afraid. Have you ever been afraid of God? What were the circumstances, and what did it feel like?
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Mark 9:23-24 (ESV)

23And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”24Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mark 9:23–24 are some of the most powerful Scriptures in the whole Bible. They are, at the same time, full of faith and yet also very vulnerable. These words have likely resonated with you in your life or ministry before. They may resonate with you now. As Lisa said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief,” is essentially saying, “I’m struggling, God.”  

Do you think God would prefer a prayer like the father's or the fear of the crowds? Why do you say that?
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In the Old Testament God’s dwelling glory was too much for people; they had to stay at a distance from God because of His holiness. Jesus changed all that. The story of the Transfiguration shows us that Christ allows us to see God face-to-face and actually commune with Him.  

Describe a time when you felt actual communion with God in Christ. What did it feel like? How does that kind of communion compare to the fear of God you described earlier?
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Lisa had some powerful and reassuring words to share about our weakness. She said we often don’t know what God is doing, but that’s no reason to run from Him. It’s often in our weakness where God performs His greatest miracles. Just look at the lives of Moses, Peter, and the boy's father in this story!

Like all of the broken, fallen people who got to commune with God throughout the Bible, we can commune with Him too. 

For more information on the RightNow Conference or to find out how to attend next year's event, visit  

If you would like to go deeper into Scripture with Lisa, check out her RightNow Media Original Bible study, Perfect Love.