By Cameron Silsbee and Dan Self
Begin with prayer
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Take a moment to sit in silence in the presence of Jesus and each other. Have one person read Ephesians 3v16-19 over the group, and then have one person pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief as a group how last week’s practice of silence and solitude went.
Read this overview
The world as it is today is not the world God intended. Within the first three chapters of the Scriptures, God’s creation project is marred and vandalized by rebellion and evil. The instigator of this is a talking serpent who speaks lies. The scene and imagery of the talking serpent speaking lies in order to wreak havoc in God’s good creation are jarring and compelling. Jesus picks up on the imagery of the serpent to reiterate that there is a real, personal enemy, the Satan, whose native language is lies. It’s the way he operates to undermine God.
Lies continue to wreak havoc in God’s creation. Lies that we believe about ourselves, others, God, and what’s valuable in life; we don’t just tell lies, we believe them. They don’t just hurt us and others, they form us. We are influenced to behave and live in certain ways based on lies. Jesus, in contrast to the Satan, is the one who is the Truth. He is the one who crushes the head of the lying serpent.
The way to find life—and life to the fullest—is to follow Jesus into truth day after day. The lies we believe and how they impact us are not simple, they are ingrained in our sin, trauma, culture, and even innocent misunderstandings. The call of Jesus is to open ourselves to expose the lies that hold us in bondage, and to allow truth to rule over our hearts and minds.
Talk through the following discussion questions:
As you discuss the following questions, there is no need to rush to give an answer. It can be helpful to have silence for a moment as people think deeply about how to answer the question.
- Think about a season of life (or the one you are currently in) when you felt unhindered by a lie(s) about yourself, others, God, and what’s valuable in life. How would you describe this experience of being unhindered by a lie(s)?
- What are some of the feelings, behaviors, or thoughts you have/had that are indicators you believe a lie about yourself, others, God, or what’s truly valuable?
- Spend a moment imagining confessing to someone you trust a hidden and painful sin done by you, to you, or in your presence (either hypothetically or recalling a past time you’ve done this). Describe the thoughts, feelings, and assumptions that make confession challenging for you.
Talk about this week’s Practice as a Community:
For this week’s Practice, take time to reflect and, if appropriate, take steps to confess anything that’s needed.
Use the following guide to help you to navigate this process:
- Set aside some time to sit quietly, reflecting on your life right now. Invite God’s Spirit to lead your time of reflection. It will be helpful to have something to jot down your thoughts. Start your time by reading Romans 8v1. Keep in mind that no matter what you might uncover or think about in your time reflecting remember that God’s disposition towards you does not include condemnation. His anger burns against the lies that you believe; his anger is for you not against you. God wants to see you freed to live in truth.
- Think about any of your behaviors in the last week or two that have brought you pain in the form of shame, regret, despair, anxiety, or guilt. Do your best to not linger on these behaviors and feelings. Just acknowledge them. Also, think about any reactions you’ve had in the last couple of weeks that, in hindsight, seem more intense than was warranted. Why do you think your reaction was outsized?
- In the context of your entire life, think about sin that has impacted your life in a significant way. Consider each of these ways sin can shape us: sin done by you, sin done to you, and sin done in your presence. How are the threads of this bigger-picture sin continuing to affect you? How is it not affecting you anymore?
- In light of everything you’ve reflected on, what patterns of behavior, thought, or attitude do you see? What seems to be incongruent? Do you get a sense that there is a lie(s) that you are believing about yourself, others, God, or what’s valuable in life?
If, at the end of this time of reflection, you aren’t able to pinpoint a specific lie that’s okay! The lies that we believe can often be complicated and complex, even if at some point we might be able to name them in a simple phrase (“I’m not worthy”, “I am can’t be loved”, “God is always disappointed with me”, “God doesn’t care what happens to me”, etc.). It is always a process of learning to understand the lies we believe and the ways they influence and shape us.
The practice of confession is one of the oldest traditions in Christianity. It’s one of the ways followers of Jesus take ownership of the things they have done and begin the process of repentance. Confession invites encouragement, accountability, and others to speak truth and wisdom over us.
- Once you’ve spent time reflecting on your life, consider any of the lies, sin, attitudes, or behaviors that are hindering or hurting you or others around you. It may be something new you’ve come to realize about yourself or it could be something you’re very familiar with. Take a moment to ask God’s Spirit to help you imagine what your life would look like without the specific thing hindering or hurting you or those around you.
- Think about anyone in your life who might be a good fit to hear your confession. Perhaps someone in your Van City Community, a friend, or a spouse could be appropriate. It could also be appropriate to choose a mentor, pastor, or counselor. Consider who would be appropriate to hear your confession based on what you’re wanting to share.
(When asking someone to hear your confession make sure both you and the other person have the same expectations. Are you asking to confess once, or do you hope that it will be something that is ongoing? Are you hoping that they will follow up with you or to be someone who helps support you in your repentance? Are you expecting them to confess to you after you’ve confessed to them? The encouragement is not to wait for the perfect person or situation in order to confess. As long as the person is trustworthy, wise, and cares for you then confession is valuable even if it doesn’t meet all your expectations.)
- Once you’ve found someone who is willing to hear your confession schedule a time to meet up and confess anything that is hindering or hurting you or others around you.
Be prepared to share next week how this Practice went for you. If you’d like access to a list of recommended counselors please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Close in prayer
End your time as a group by having one person say the Nicene Creed.
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.