>>> LEADER TIP: Finish strong!
We’re on chapter 7 out of 9 of our book so we’re nearing the end; but we’re not there yet. Let’s finish strong. Your group may need a little pep talk right about now. Encourage them in how far they’ve come, letting them know that you’re impressed and encouraged by all the reading they’ve completed and spiritual exercises they’ve practiced so far. Recognize them digging in, asking great questions, wrestling with important topics and loving each other well. Encourage them to not grow weary but to KEEP IT UP! And to you: keep leaning in, showing up and making a difference in the lives of the women you’re leading. What you do matters immensely.
>>> Leader Tip: begin with silence
(even if you haven’t yet)
Begin with 1-5 minutes of silence followed by a brief prayer to center ourselves towards God and to prepare us to listen to Him. Page 167 has a poignant quote by Malcolm Muggeridge on the topic of solitude, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us.” Let’s listen, together.
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.
What is the greatest sacrifice you’ve ever made for someone?
For homework last week we read chapter seven, God is Self-Sacrificing.” We learned that we don’t work our way to God, rather, he works His way to us. He loves us and died for us and all we have to do is accept his love and self-sacrifice. Once we’ve done that, it’s natural that we’d emulate him in his self-sacrifice in serving others. We can draw on him to do so. Page 145 says, “Jesus is not merely a model to emulate or imitate, he is a source of strength to rely upon. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).”
The soul training exercise was reading the gospel of John which clearly depicts Jesus’ relationship with his heavenly Father.
From page 147, were you able to practice the exercise this week? If so, describe how you felt about it.
What, if anything, did you learn about God or yourself through the exercise?
What was your favorite passage, story or verse in the Gospel of John?
Pose as many questions of the following questions as you have time for, don’t feel like you have to get to them all.
What stuck out to you the most about chapter seven on God being self-sacrificing?
Turn to page 134, Have you ever wrestled with why Jesus had to die for us? If so, explain.
On page 138, Was there anything that Athanasius explained in the dialogue that you found helpful or that gave you a new insight?
Page 139, Have you ever felt unrequited love? Can you imagine God allowing himself to experience this pain? Explain.
Page 140, How can self-sacrifice be a sign of strength, not weakness?
On page 141, How is self-sacrifice the highest act of all?
From page 142, When we talk about the power of God we often think about the mighty acts God has done, and not the incarnation and the crucifixion. Why do you think that is?
Turn to page 143, Brennan Manning admitted that he has wondered, “Does really love me,” even though he knows the Christian story. Have you ever wondered if God really loves you? If so, what might be one way to help you find a clear answer?
From page 144, Describe when someone made a sacrifice for your well-being. Think of a time when you sacrificed for someone else. How did you feel? Could this be a sign that you are “made in God’s image?”
- Chapter 8: "God Transforms."
Soul Training: solitude
Effective solitude is intentional time alone with ourselves and with God. The aim is to help us learn how to be more comfortable alone with ourselves and God.
What can we be praying for you this week? What are some things for which we can thank our self-sacrificing God?