Friday, December 18, 2009

Bo's Cafe Discussion Guide

Bo’s Café Discussion Guide

Why this discussion Guide?
The Shack described a relationship with God every believer’s heart longs for but not in a place and way it is possible. Bo’s Café describes a real way and place where a “shack” kind of relationship can be realized here and now with real people. For some it will begin in the ongoing online exchange with real people sharing their hearts and hurts. For others they will discover this kind of life is possible right now within the community of believers they already have around them. For all the rest, Papa will provide these type of real relationships if they ask. We can visit The Shack in our hearts, but we can pull up a chair and talk to a real person in our own Bo’s Café.

How to use this discussion Guide
This guide was developed to be applicable to a number of situations. It can be used for individual reflection, one night book reviews and more serious discussions. Individuals can follow along as they read, and one night book club discussions can just skip to the chapters that most interest them. The key concepts are marked in bold for groups to discuss. For the most part, there is NO right answer. It is just a discussion starter with a prayer that the Holy Spirit will lead the group where He wants it to go. I would not suggest groups try to discuss all the questions, just pick through them for the one that interests you. Key questions are in bold letters. No page number indicates the question comes from the last noted page listed before it.
Who Am I to be writing this?
No one really. I wrote an unauthorized discussion guide for Windblown’s first book, The Shack, and posted it on line. That post resulted in about 900 groups requesting a copy via email and thousands of hits on the site where people could just click and paste the discussion guide. Some of those groups asked if I had any more guides they could use…so since I really believe in the message of Bo’s Café, I wrote this guide. If you want (or need) to know more about me, I’m easy to find at, and Donald Zimmermann on Facebook. I have met the authors and publishers a couple of times in group settings and although they are aware of this guide, they are in no way responsible for it or connected to it in any way. Their heart is for the message to go out. I believe they are really living the life described in Bo’s Café. Please do not use this guide in any way that would infringe on their rights or message.

This Guide is offered with the firm conviction that Father will keep His promise:
HEB 8:10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
HEB 8:11 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, `Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
HEB 8:12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
I honestly believe you have your own Andy in the person of the Holy Spirit who will teach you all you need to know to live in fellowship with the Father and His Son. Invite Him to join you in your discussion. He says he will join you, believe it.

So tell me, Who’s your Andy?

Fenton’s --ill
Why was Steven at Fenton’s? 1
Did Steven really want to be alone? Why do you think that?
Why did Andy persist in attempting to enter into Stephen’s life? 2
Was Andy being insensitive and rude? Why or why not?
Does Andy’s pushy way bother you? Why or why not?
What was Andy risking in pushing himself on Stephen?
What is it to “stumble around in a dark room, bumping into furniture”? 7
Is Andy’s statement true in real life? “Look, Stephen, you’ll never discover most of what you went searching for tonight as long as you’re setting the terms.” Why or why not? 12
Did Stephen go to Fenton’s for a purpose or was he brought there?
Why did Stephen really go to Fenton’s in the first place?
Coincidence is defined as: A sequence of events that although accidental seems to have been planned or arranged. Who’s plan? And for what purpose?
Do you believe in coincidence?

You really don’t get it, do you?
What did Steven not understand? Why?
Why was Lindsey so upset with Stephen? 14
Do you identify with either of them?
What is the most serious issue between Lindsey and Stephen?
How did they get into this condition?
Have you ever felt like Stephen? “How did this happen? I’ve got to fix this and I don’t know how.” 20

She’s a Lot of Detroit Magic, She is.
Considering Andy’s soiled past, does he really have any right to say anything to Stephen? Why do you say that? 22
Does Andy’s past make him a better or a worse confidant? How?
Why does Stephen reach out to Andy for help? 23
Was it really Andy’s voice Stephen was hearing in his head? IF not, whose voice?
Why did Andy wait so long to get back together with Stephen? 24
What kind of vehicle do you need to be a real Grace driver?

The Marriot, Room 643
How long should Steven wait for Lindsey to feel bad enough to call?25
Why is emotional stress so physically draining?

The Bluff Facing South

What are people trying to protect themselves from? 31
Why are they failing?
What kind of things do friends “dance around” instead of confront? Why?
What truths would / could set them free?
What constitutes “spinach in our teeth?”
What is your favorite way to “self-protect”? How’s that working for you?
How does hiding give issues power? 33
If exposure reduces the power of an issue, why is it so hard to expose it?
What does Andy mean “God is the only one who can see in the dark” and how could that help Steven?
Since Steven is hoping for some advice, why is Andy so reluctant to give any?
What is a spiritual kick in the pants and how effective is it in solving problems?
Why hasn’t Steven been able to fix his problems: In his own opinion, in Andy’s opinion and in your opinion?
How common in real life is Steven’s “pattern” of doing the best that he can?
Why doesn’t knowledge of a problem provide a way to deal with it? What is still missing?
What is “a way in” that Andy is hoping for?
Do you think Steven even knows who he really is? Why do you say that?
What percentage of the people you know “carry around guilt, or anger or bottled up hurt and don’t have any idea where to put it”?
Do the people around you know you well enough to truly speak for you at your funeral? Could you meaningfully speak at theirs?
Steven and Lindsey both have an expectation that going to church might have helped them. Would it? Why do you think that?

My Respect for Burglars Is Rising by the Moment

Was changing the locks really necessary?
Why is Stephen refusing to accept that he scarred Lindsey?
If Steven followed through on his threats of freezing funds, what does Andy mean by “the furniture will move again and you won’t be able to turn that light on again for a long time”?
Why was Andy so brief with Stephen on the phone?
Why did Stephen take Andy’s advice?

Angry People Eat, Don’t They?
After two weeks of separation Andy thought things seemed to be getting better? Were they? Why or why not?
Stephen felt Andy was manipulating him, was he? How? If it was not manipulation, what was it?
What’s with the Sunglasses?
Why does Andy respond with humor to Stephens announcement of “ real anger issues”?
Andy tells Peter “I have no desire to be your fixer. I want to be your friend.” If this whole thing is not about fixing Stephen, what is it about?
If Andy could magically fix Stephen’s anger issues, would that solve Stephen’s problem? Elaborate on your opinion.
IF Andy was not manipulating Stephen by taking him to Bo’s Café , what was Andy doing? Do you agree with Andy or not? Explain
Deep down does Stephen really know he needs to be “trapped”? To what end?
What was the allure of the fish market for Stephen?
Do you like the idea of a “regularly scheduled meeting you don’t have to show up to” appealing? For what specific reason?
How was the group that as gathering on the deck different from what Stephen was used to?
How did Cynthia and the gang overcome Stephen’s resistance so quickly? Specifically, what did they do?
Do you agree with Carlos:…most people don’t have someone safe enough when things go south”? Why not? What specifically is the problem in your opinion?
What is Andy “waiting” for?
Are you waiting for someone or is someone waiting for you?
Why was Carlos so impressed with Andy?
Will this really set someone free? “Andy was the first dude I ever met who had more confidence in the grace of God than in the power of the crap I was dragging around.” What does this mean?
Do most people wear masks like Carlos described to Stephen? Why?
What does “the dude was convinced that God in Carlos was enough mean? Why would this one idea give Carlos so much strength?
What do other people try to add to us besides God in us to make us good enough. Good enough for who?
“I didn’t know how to help anyone be anything –except some fake dude like me”…Is Carlos the exception here or the rule? What makes you suspect that?
Can you relate to “I’m trying so hard to do what you preach. And I can’t. I don’t know how to do it. Help me. Don’t keep telling me more stuff to do. I haven’t been able to do what you told me to do last week. I’m always failing. Please help me.
Is Andy’s advice right? Does scripture confirm or deny these statements. Which Scripture?
What if you told them that God was Crazy about them
…that they didn’t have to look over their shoulders.
What if you told them they didn’t have to walk around carrying this big bag of religious ‘ought-tos’?
What if you told them they weren’t just saved sinners trying to appease a God who’s way over there
What if you told them they were saints?
That they are saints with a built in ability to do great things?
What if you taught them that if they believed, it would actually start to keep them from the wrong that’s tearing them up?
Do the religious folk you know “love getting the crap beat out of them by the preacher? IF that is accurate, is it a good thing? How’s it working?
Why would people look for guilt?
What was it that Stephen thought he knew but Carlos was sure he did not know? How common is that?
What does Carlos mean by Jesus in Carlos Badillo on his worst freakin day?
Why do people WANT others to put on masks instead of letting who they really are out?
Does every one have junk? Who might be the exceptions? (besides newborns)
How are believers conditioned to become “ambulance chasers”.
Why doesn’t fixin work? What is the alternative to it?
How is maturity different from fixin?
What is “all information and arrogance”?
Where can “Your skill becomes more valuable than you” happen?
Is there a “safe enough place where you can tell the worst about yourself and not be loved or respected less, but more?
What happens to a person when they find that safe place? Do they hid there or shine there?
What’s it usually take to even want to find that safe place?
Does everyone hear the “whisper that’s been there all my life? What is it? What happens if it is ignored?

At a Table a Few Blocks From the Marriot

‘I know what we’re doing isn’t a plan”. How many people try to make it a plan do what they did in lieu of a plan? Does it ever work in the long run?
Why does Stephen think things are “different this time”? Are they different? How?
Why does Stephen just lay on his bed watching Lacrosse instead of doing what he never had time to do before?

Why Do You Enjoy Making Everything I Say Sound Stupid?
IF Andy and Cynthia are not being very intentional, what are they doing to mentor Andy?
What is Stephen looking for from Andy and Cynthia?
Andy is waiting for a way in. What does that mean?
What causes Stephen’s blindness to what God is trying to do? Is that a common problem in your world?
How is “resolving life issues stuff not like resolving problems at work”?
Why won’t information, agreement or diligence resolve the problems Stephen faces? Will they resolve your problems? Detail why or why not. 88
“You don’t know who you really are because you haven’t yet learned grace”. What is grace and how would it help Stephen know himself better?
How do you react to Andy’s satirical description of Grace: Yep, first you start talking about grace. Next thing you know you’re skipping Sunday School and sleeping in till noon. Then, a couple days later you’re down at the dog track, drinking whiskey our of a paper bag and dating a showgirl named Tiffany!” 89
How often do people (with the best intentions) use “religious concepts, and promote them to others when they haven’t even worked for (themselves)?”
Is grace “a gift only the non religious can accept”? Why do you think?
How is grace “soft”?
”Nothing defines religion quite as well as a bunch of people trying to do impossible tasks with limited power while bluffing to themselves that it’s working.” Do you agree or disagree? Elaborate.
If will power won’t get it done, what will? 90
Is there “a place safe enough to tell the worst about your and still be loved just as much , if not more, for sharing it”?
Why is that safety called…and environment of grace”?
How universal is the feeling of shame? 91
Why did Andy share his story with Stephen? 92
How did finding a safe place help Andy? 93
Why would this be true: “Only then could he begin to look at the worst of who he was without being destroyed by it?”
Even if superior religious folks were to impart truth to us, how does that help?
Is this true: Each of us walks with a profound limp? What does that mean?
Do you agree with Andy’s advice? “Don’t ever trust anyone who makes you feel intimidated by their presence because of some aura of religious superiority”. Share why you think that. 94
What does Andy mean “I want to be someone who’s vulnerable and authentic”?
Why might this work? “I’m learning the power of love to heal me. I am trusting HIM with me. No other cards….no other nothing.
Whose love is healing Andy? Cynthia, Bo, Carlos, Hank et al?
Who is Andy ultimately trusting?
Is that same love and safety available to you? Why or why not?

God, What Are You Doing to Me Here?

Why does Stephen challenge God for what is happening in his life? Is it common for people to do that? Why? 97
Why does Steven’s defensiveness say about what is going on inside him? 99
Why has “none of my training prepared me to solve this one”? 101
Since Stephen has reached his dream, why is he “dying on the inside”?
Is it possible to be a Christian ”at most, nine hours a week”? What does that say about Stephen’s concept of being a Christian? What does Stephen count in the nine hours? Do most people have similar lists? 102
Why do you think Andy keeps saying things like “do you want to continue” or ignore what Stephen just said? Is it the ONLY way Andy could accomplish his purpose?
Since Andy felt Stephen finally showed some progress, why did he cut it off and walk away? What is he waiting for? 103
Is there a deeper meaning to “I don’t pick the crowd”? Who does pick it? Is there a lesson there? 105
Is ”trust a right response to another’s love”? Why? Does it model God’s desire for His relationship with us?
Why did Andy expect Stephen to pull his cards back?
What do you think people fear most, being exposed or NOT being exposed? Which will do the most damage in the long run? Why?
Answer Andy’s three Test Questions as if YOU were Andy to Determine if YOU are a Healthy Protector: 106
1. Do I see other’s as sinners trying to be saints or as saints who still sometimes fail?
2. Is my goal that something will get conquered or fixed, or that nothing will remain hidden?
3. Do I care more about getting your issues resolved or establishing a healthy relationship so the issues can be resolved?
What is Andy’s advice to Stephen for advisors that do not possess these qualities in spades? Why?
Paraphrase in your own experience Andy’s description of the wrong kind of advisor. How prevalent is this type of advisor/counselor?
Why is it difficult to mesh work and a spiritual life? 107
Does “sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self interest” actually produce anything that is beneficial in the long run? Explain.
How does humility produce the best?
If a person were to ever actually “arrive”, where or what would that person be? 108
Can a person learn to love before he learns to be loved?
What is the protection offered in exchange for the permission given?

We Should Talk
Did Stephen write to Lindsey to control and manipulate or to expose some part of his inner self to her? 110
How did Lindsey respond? Why?

Out of Excuses
Why do you think Stephen felt the newness is gone? Is this common? Why? What is really going on? 114
What great gifts can failure bring? 117
What is more important, information or influence?
Why don’t little techniques, they don’t do squat? 118
Who does Carlos believe is trying to get Stephens attention? How will that help Steven?
What does “a safe place isn’t a soft place” mean? 119
What is a safe place?
How/why can a person be loved MORE for revealing the junk in his life?
“Safe is where I can tell you my garbage so you can enter in and stand with me in the solution of it.” How could that be possible? 120
What does a person have to care about “more than getting better before they can ever get better”?
Have you ever watched “someone cover pain with something that makes them hurt even more”? What happened? What could have prevented it? 121
Why did Hank tell Stephen “to be kind to Andy when you walk out”? 124
What are the pieces Carlos and Hank would be picking up?
What does this suggest Andy was willing to risk for Stephen?

This Whole Stinking Things a Joke!

What is the basis for Stephens entire pity party monologue? 125
Is Stephen’s tirade against God a good thing or a bad thing? What does it say about his view of himself and his view of God?

Good-bye to the Mint-Strawberry Water

Why do you think Lindsey asked Stephen to come home when nothing had really been resolved?
Why was Stephen avoiding Andy?

Just Alan

How long can people live “being pretty careful around one another”? What does that do to the quality of the relationship? What would be the other choices? 133
Who is right about Alan, Lindsey or Steve, both or neither? 134
Why is Alan such a help to Lindsey?
Why is Alan such a threat to Stephen?
Why did Stephen lose it again with Lindsey? 136
Why does Stephen bother to pray when his last prayer was an attack on God’s ability to really do anything?
Does everyone have to come to the same turning point that Steven came to before they can truly change? (so why’s it feel different now?) 137
So who’s your DADDY now Stephen?

I’m a Mess Andy

Andy knew who Stephen was long before Steven went to Fentons. Why did Andy wait so long to contact Stephen? What does that say about waiting on the Holy Spirit’s timing? 141
Why was Stephen so heavy on Andy’s heart before they officially were re-introduced?
Did Andy lie to Steven back on pg 8 when he implied he knew Stephen’s name because of the name tag Steven was wearing? Is it a lie to not tell everything you know. (read John 7 when Jesus tells his brothers it is not time to go yet, then shows up later).
Why didn’t Andy respond to Stephen’s pleading? 142
What does “looks like we’re not in Kansas anymore” mean?
Why is Steven now ready? 144
What could have been done to speed up the process?
What was the huge change in Stephen? Why is that so huge?
How was Stephen trusting Andy with himself?
How does Andy now protect Stephen? 145
What had Andy been doing in the weeks before to prepare for this moment? How important is that?
How universal is the shame experience? How do people hide it?
How does shame take a violation from your past and convince you that how you felt then is who you will always be? 146
How and why do people create a lie to protect themselves from the shame lie? 147
Why doesn’t all the tricks we use to cover shame really work?
Why do most people try to modify bad behavior rather than deal with the root problem? What would help? 148
How is behaviorism like Whack-a-Mole? 150 Why does it NOT work?
How effective is it to find the “root” problem?
Is Andy right? “No psychological mallet can solve the shame that triggers the lie that releases the mole.” 151
What is “the Jesus card”?
Why does Stephen feel it is “smoke and mirrors”?
If Jesus really did deal with the shame, why doesn’t
How can anyone ”believe what you’re not yet willing to believe?” 152
What does it meant to be willing to try on the new clothing? 152
Which is actually true about a person, the lie they tell themselves about who they are or the identity God gives them?
Why do people struggle with this?
How does Jesus truly feel about you? Why do you feel that way?
Which is more popular? Trusting Jesus, faking it, or a program? Which is your personal method?
Is Christ coming through me the true story about me? Is that the same thing as: Col 1:27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
What does Andy mean by “That dog’ll hunt?”
Why isn’t shame resolved when a person becomes a Christian? 153
Why is ‘Jesus is fully disgusted with them’…the greatest lie in the mix?
What is the proof that we cannot fix ourselves? 154
Is what Stephen is hearing from Andy about God the same thing you have been hearing about God? What is different?
Do you share this fear? What’s God gonna do with menow that I’ve given my life to Him? Are you worth being loved? In whose opinion?
What do you have to do to get what Steven wants? How do you do that? 155
Why would anyone be happy when the ugly truth about them was revealed?
How long does it take to get there?
Where did Andy’s concern for Steven come from? 156
Where do your concern for people come from?
How is protection an expression of love? What is being protected, the sin or the person?
How is that different from what typically goes on in a circle of believers?
How does protective love create vulnerability? 157
What are the steps involved to get there?
What do you use to attempt to control your world?
Why didn’t Stephen just “stop doing what you’ve been doing wrong before now? How’s that typically work out?
What was wrong with Stephen’s looking for a fix to his problem? 158
Why did Andy stop steering the boat? How wise was that? 159
Was Andy really ready to listen before the Boat steering incident? Is it a point in time or an ongoing process? 161
Why can’t Stephen honestly know when he is lying, bluffing, pretending or telling the truth?
Why does Andy say he is just a hack at helping? Where does he real help come from? 162
How is “telling Lindsey your game plan” going to help? What does this do that is different?
How was Stephen “drinking his own poison”? 163
What is real repentance? Explain in detail. 164
Why won’t Andy tell Stephen what to say when he talks to God, but will help him with what to say to Lindsey?
“The heart can’t be talked into trust”. What does build trust?
When is it ok to ask for forgiveness? 165
What was the best advice Andy gave Stephen?
Does God bless or endure? What does that imply? 166

Go Figure, Andy Was Right.

What was “whispering” to Stephen for the past month? 167
How was Stephen’s prayer? 169
Why did Stephen feel better?
Does it make a real difference HOW we define ourselves? 170
Is Stephen really a saint on his worst day? Says who?
How’s Steven’s prayer life coming along now? Why? 171
What was Andy right about? 172
Why did Lindsey accept Stephen’s apology? 180

Where Do We Go From Here?

Why won’t “reaffirming our love and commitment to each other …do it alone”? 181
Why did Stephen get the Electra back for Andy? 182

How Have I Missed This Kind of Life?

Do you have a lurking feeling that you are missing something in life? Do you know what is missing?
What had Andy taught Stephen? Have you learned that lesson yet? 186

So The Suit Found a Date Huh?, What the Deal Is With Dat?
What does it mean to “watch life from a distance”? 191
Why did Stephen think something was wrong with Lindsey?
Why did it all go so terribly wrong? What happened?
When and how did Stephen realize that the gang really did have “more confidence in the Grace of God than in the power of the crap he was dragging around? What difference did it make now? (66) 199
How did the group show love to Stephen after he blew up?
How predictable was it that something like this would happen? Why? Is it always necessary?
What’s the difference between bring pitied and Knowing your being pitied? Which is really worse?
What is the difference between a ploy and sincerity? 201
What did Andy tell Stephen was “all you’ve got”? Is it enough for everyone? Explain.
What is Andy’s recipe for protecting Stephen? Why would it work? 202
Why was Stephen’s view of Lindsey’s reactions so different from everyone else’s view?
Why did the lunch never have a chance from the start?
Do most people lose it for a similar reason to why Stephen lost it? 203
Do you feel trapped in a relationship where you are trying to get someone to perform by your rules or are you trying to figure out someone’s rules for you…or both?

Why Do You Get So Angry?

Is there a common underlying reason why people et angry?
Why doesn’t Jennifer look at her dad when they talk? Does the reason sound familiar to you? 207
How else might a person try to shelter herself from being hurt? How effective is it?
Why didn’t Stephen like hearing from Lindsey when he is getting out of control?
How many ways do people “power up”? Is one way more effective or destructive than another? 208
Does anyone “whistle” for you? 209
Is someone in your life waiting to tell you something you need to hear…but don’t want to? What is stopping them? 209
What happens when you tell someone something the really need to hear before they are ready to hear it?
Was there anything special or different about the apology Stephen wrote to Lindsey?

There Ain’t No Together People, Just Some With Whiter Teeth

Why didn’t Carlos pity Stephen and how did it help? 214
What is the “great secret payoff for all those who give others permission to see behind the mask”?
Is the payoff worth the risk? Why?
What is the goal of letting people see the real you?
How does a “leper group” get established? How contagious is Leprosy?
Who truly is NOT a member of the leper group?
Is this true and what does it mean: There Ain’t No Together People, Just Some With Whiter Teeth? 215
How did Cynthia make someone feel like a leper?
Why was that important for Cynthia to share?
How can “trouble knows how to find someone hanging out in the same room: be stopped?
Is it common for people to feel angry with God for not protecting them? Why? 217
What does a person have to assume when they get angry with God?
Why do we try to retie the knots when God is wanting to free someone? Won’t making them suffer a little for their errors go a long way towards preventing future errors? REALLY?
When God frees a person from sin, are they more or less likely to be a repeat offender?
How does “never letting the other fell free or restored” affect another person? What is gained/lost? 218
Are churches in general known for letting people feel free and restored? Why or why not?
What does Cynthia mean by arrogant blindness?
Shouldn’t weak people be controlled?
What did Cynthia have to do to change, regain her sight? 219
Would a Bo’s Café atmosphere and attitude be fit for a local church? Describe how it would look and feel in a church setting? 220
How could you move your church in this direction? What would stop you?
How long does it take to regain trust? What does it take to start? 221
What can we know that will break the lie/shame cycle for good? 222
What helps to shorten the process? 222

I Was Playing You Like a Gibson Hummingbird

In what way did the Christmas display remind Stephen of the changes in his life? 223
Why did Megan want Stephen’s help? 227
Is this the normal way things should go in the body of Christ?
Elaborate: “Integrity is proven when you admit what you cannot do and honor what you say you can do”. 228
Is ”Proving I was worthy of love” wired into everyone? Why? 229
What was Andy’s real life issue?

And Back Again

What made it harder for Lindsey now than before? 233
How had the relationship improved? Why?
Is there really such a thing as a “passive, controlled guy”? Is that all bad? 234
How far do the ripple rings effect others when a person chooses to start living in true Grace?

I Have Waited For This Moment For a Week

What is “the true legacy of exchange”? 337
Isn’t everyone really a prodigal….finding their way back home!
Be sure to join in the ongoing story at Andy and Cynthia would love to hear from you!

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