>>> Leader Tip
Stay in touch over the holiday season. Check in with the ladies you’re leading to see how their Thanksgiving celebrations are going and to let them know that they’re missed. Group texts are a fun way for the whole group to keep in touch over the busy holiday season. If you haven’t planned a social time yet, now’s a great time to plan one. We’re hearing about everything from fancy adult-only “Friendsgivings” complete with china place settings to spontaneous lunches at Padaro Beach Grill with the kids. It all counts and is perfect for strengthening relationships outside of group time.
>>> Leader Tip: begin with silence (it’s not too late to try it!)
Have you noticed that seven out of the nine of the soul training exercises in our book have something to do with slowing down? From practicing silence to solitude and margin, the majority of the exercises point us toward silence and listening in order to encounter the God Jesus knew. Even if you haven’t tried it yet, begin your gathering with 1-5 minutes of silence. Close that time with a brief prayer to center ourselves towards God and to prepare us to listen to Him.
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’s one activity or hobby you’d like to spend more time doing?
For homework last week we read chapter eight, God Transforms.” We learned what theologians refer to as the “already but not yet;” the tension between being saved, justified and reconciled to God- and at the same time we are sinners. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” So why do so many of us still live enslaved to sin? On page 153 the author notes, “God not only wants us to be reconciled, he wants to transform us. He not only took away the guilt of sin but also the power of sin.” He tells a story of a man who knew and loved God but was frustrated with his repeated sin. By the end of the chapter we hear of his transformation, “I know that sin remains… But it doesn’t reign anymore… I knew I could sin, and I knew that God would still love me. But I didn’t want to sin.”
The soul training exercise was practicing solitude, intentional time alone with ourselves and with God. The aim was for us to learn how to be more comfortable alone with ourselves and God.
From page 169, were you able to practice the exercise this week? If so, describe what you did and how you felt about it.
What, if anything, did you learn about God or yourself through the exercise?
Solitude allows us to grow in the ability to “take off our masks” and simply be who we truly are in the presence of God. Would that describe your experience with this exercise? Explain.
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 eight, God Transforms?
Turn to page 152, When have you heard the “I am a sinner” narrative? When have you used it?
On page 154, How often have you been exposed to the message that you are “one in whom Christ dwells?”
From page 156, Describe your level of awareness that Christ’s life in you is the key to your Christian identity.”
Turn to page 158, Explain how, even though sin remains in the Christian, its power has been broken and it must not reign.
On page 159, How do we abide in Christ? Have you ever done this? How might it help you in the struggle with temptation?
From page 161, Which of the metaphors for our relationship with Chris (vine and branches, temples in whom the Spirit dwells, butterflies, or country dogs) best explains the concept of abiding in Christ and encourages you the most?
Turn to page 163, In your own life, have you experienced the paradox that weakness and vulnerability allow Christ to shine most clearly? Or have you experienced it through the life of someone you know? Explain.
- Chapter 9: How to Make a Pickle.
Soul Training: slowing down
The assignment is to slow down, savor, rest and contemplate; eliminating hurry and limiting the demands and activities in our lives.
What can we be praying for you this week? What are some things for which we can thank our God who transforms us?