We read this statement together before every group discussion! It helps transition the group to discussion time, it reaffirms our highest values, and sets a tone of trust, consistency, and safety for everyone in the group.
We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. These are some things we want to be true of our group:
- We create a safe and honest environment, staying transparent and authentic.
- We keep it inside the circle. Confidentiality is necessary for a healthy group.
- We look together to the Bible for help and guidance, and keep out our own politics, sales, or agendas.
- We do not try to fix each other, preach sermons, or give unsolicited advice. We instead encourage, listen to, and celebrate each other.
- We handle conflict between us quickly and honestly by going to the person, owning our part, and practicing forgiveness.
- We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
- We trust that it is God’s role to change people, not ours.
- We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
Faith is described as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see. It's not always easy to live by faith. Many of us would rather have control, know the outcomes, stay in our comfort zone, wait for guarantees or need to see it to believe it. Living by faith requires stepping out into the unknown, the unseen; trusting that God knows and sees the bigger picture. It's risky business, but it's also the great adventure that God invites us all into.
Jake Barker told the story of Samson, one of the messiest and unexpected stories in the "Hall of Faith". Over the course of his life, Samson began to believe that his incredible strength was his own, and that he could deal flirt with disaster and not get hurt. But forgetting that his strength from God brought him to a place that many us find ourselves in at some point in life: rock bottom. But it's his faith-filled moment in that rock bottom moment that lands him in the Faith Hall of Fame.
- Jake said that when we're honest with ourselves, many of us are under the impression that "God likes the good people and He doesn’t like the bad people". Or, that God is happy when we're good, and bummed when we are bad. Were you ever told that in your life? Have you ever noticed that you feel that way under the surface?
- When you do believe that God likes good people and doesn't like bad people, how does it affect how you view yourself? How you live? How you interact with God?
Read Judges 16: 15-17 together.
Then Delilah pouted, “How can you tell me, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t share your secrets with me? You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” She tormented her with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it. Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. “My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.”
- When Samson finally caves in and tells Delilah about the source of his strength, he attributes it almost solely to his long hair, forgetting that the source of his strength was actually God. Where do you get this mixed up, trusting in something God has given you more than trusting in God himself?
- No one starts off at the worst case scenario, but it still sneaks up on us. Have you ever been at the end of yourself, at your rock bottom? How did you end up there?
- Samson's situation started small and began to build. What he thought he could control eventually took over. What small issues, challenges, addictions, or desires in your life started small but then became harder and harder to manage?
- Jake asked us a simple but challenging question in light of Samson's story: what disaster are you flirting with today? What could it turn into if unchecked?
- What choice can you make right now to turn away from your self-sufficiency and brokenness to faith in a God that gives strength to anyone that asks? Where can you stop being like Samson, shouldering your burdens by your own strength, and start trusting that Jesus shouldered our sins for us?
EXPERIENCE (FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK)
- One way to stop shouldering burdens by yourself is to share them with someone else. Think of a trusted friend that also trusts that God is the source of our strength, and ask if you can share those burdens so you're not carrying them alone.
Jake Barker, Executive Pastor at Traders Point Christian Church in Indianapolis, IN
We're under the impression that God likes the good people and He doesn’t like the bad people.
Judges 16:1-3 (NLT)
“One day Samson went to the Philistine town of Gaza and spent the night with a prostitute. Word soon spread that Samson was there, so the men of Gaza gathered together and waited all night at the town gates. They kept quiet during the night, saying to themselves, “When the light of morning comes, we will kill him. But Samson stayed in bed until midnight. Then he got up, took hold of the doors of the town gate, including the two posts, and lifted them up, bar and all. He put them on his shoulders and carried them all the way to the top of the hill across from Hebron.
Samson was impulsive.
Samson had enemies.
Samson was freaking strong.
Judges 16:4-16 (NLT)
"Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how we can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver.
So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me what makes you so strong and what it would take to tie you up securely.” Samson replied, “If I were tied up with seven new bowstrings that have not yet been dried, I would become as weak as anyone else.” So the Philistine rulers brought Delilah seven new bowstrings, and she tied Samson up with them. She had hidden some men in one of the inner rooms in her house, and she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But Samson snapped the bowstrings as a piece of string snaps when it is burned by a fire. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
Afterward Delilah said to him, “You’ve been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now please tell me how you can be tied up securely.” Samson replied, “If I were tied up with brand-new ropes that had never been used, I would become as weak as anyone else.” So Delilah took new ropes and tied him up with them. The men were hiding in the inner room as before and again Delilah cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But again Samson snapped the ropes from his arms as if they were thread. Then Delilah said, “You’ve been making fun of me and telling me lies! Now tell me how you can be securely.” Samson replied, “If you were to weave the seven braids of my hair into the fabric of your loom and tighten it with the loom shuttle, I would become as weak as anyone else.” So while he slept, Delilah wove the seven braids of his hair into the fabric. Then she tightened it with the loom shuttle. Again she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!” But Samson woke up, pulled back the loom shuttle, and yanked his hair away from the loom and the fabric. Then Delilah pouted, “How can you tell me, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t share your secrets with me? You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” She tormented her with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it.
# What disaster are you flirting with today?
Judges 16:17-18, 21-22 (NLT)
Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. “My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.” Delilah realized he had finally told her the truth, so she sent for the Philistine rulers. “Come back one more time,” she said, “for he has finally told me his secret.”…So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in prison. But before long, his hair began to grow back.”
Judges 16:26-28 (NLT)
“Samson said to the young servant who was leading him by the hand, “Place my hands against the pillars that hold up the temple. I want to rest against them.” Now the temple was completely filled with people. All the Philistine rulers were there, and there were about 3,000 men and women on the roof who were watching as Samson amused them. Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.”
“The Samson narrative begins with a strong man who is revealed to be weak, but it ends with a weak man who is stronger than he ever was before.”