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Authenticity: Being Honest with God and Others

(Paperback - Jul 2005)
$8.99 - Online Price

Overview

Discover the joys of authentic Christianity. God wants you to enjoy close relationships with other believers and with Himself. Relationships that are honest and open, where you can share your successes and failures and remain confidant of being loved. Deep, rich relationships based on an authentic Christian life. Authenticity helps you identify the trappings of Christianity and trade them for a vibrant faith that integrates Christian values into your everyday life. You'll learn how to identify the inconsistent areas of your life, discover proven ways to align them with the teachings of the Bible, and find a new joy that comes from growing closer to God. Interactions a powerful and challenging tool for building deep relationships between you and your group members, and you and God. Interactions is far more than another group Bible study. It's a cutting-edge series designed to help small group participants develop into fully devoted followers of Christ."

Details

  • SKU: 9780310265887
  • UPC: 025986265885
  • SKU10: 0310265886
  • Title: Authenticity: Being Honest with God and Others
  • Series: Interactions Small Group
  • Qty Remaining Online: 16
  • Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Company
  • Date Published: Jul 2005
  • Pages: 109
  • Illustrated: Yes
  • Weight lbs: 0.35
  • Dimensions: 9.00" L x 6.00" W x 0.30" H
  • Features: Table of Contents, Price on Product, Illustrated
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical; Theometrics | Mainline;
  • Category: BIBLICAL STUDIES
  • Subject: Biblical Studies - General

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

Session 1

A New Dimension in Spirituality

THE BIG PICTURE

I backed the car out of the driveway as I do every morning at 5:45. I switched the radio from a program on ethics to the Tokyo stock closing, and drove through the neighboring subdivision, mentally critiquing architectural designs. I bought coffee at the twenty-four-hour coffee shop and successfully avoided the talkative cashier. As I turned onto the church campus, I formulated a convincing defense for a ministry plan that I hoped the staff would adopt. I climbed to my third-floor office, wondering about the productivity of the nighttime maintenance crew. I shuffled through the mountain of mail on my desk and wished someone else could answer it.

I spun my chair around and looked out the window at the church lake steaming in the crispness of the morning. In that quiet moment I saw the previous quarter hour for what it had been-time tainted by purely human perspective. Not once during that time had I seen the world through godly eyes. I had been more interested in international finances than in the moral demise of our nation. I had thought more about houses than the people inside them. I had considered the tasks awaiting me more important than the woman who served my coffee. I had been more intent on logically supporting my plans than sincerely seeking God's. I'd thought more about staff members' productivity than their walk with the Lord or their family life.

I'd viewed correspondence as drudgery rather than a way to offer encouragement, counsel, or help.

It was 6:00 A.M., and I needed a renewed heart and mind. Like a compass out of adjustment, my thoughts and feelings were pointing in the wrong direction. They needed to be recalibrated-to be realigned with God's accurate, perfect perspective.

You see, in the space of a day, your relationship with Jesus Christ can fall from the heights to the depths, from vitality to superficiality, from life-changing interaction to meaningless ritual. That's a humbling admission, but it's true. In a mere twenty-four hours, you can slide from spiritual authenticity into spiritual inauthenticity.

A WIDE ANGLE VIEW

1 How have you seen yourself slide into patterns of inauthenticity?

What factors contribute to this slide?

A BIBLICAL PORTRAIT

Read Psalm 46

2 This psalm clearly addresses the stress and strain of living in this world. In eleven short verses we read about troubles, cosmic chaos, earthquakes, conflict among the nations, kingdoms falling, and the reality of war. After this list of life's turmoil, the psalmist writes: "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" (v. 10). How is it possible to "be still" in the middle of a life filled with busyness and stress?

Tell about a time you found a quiet place in God even when the world around you was like a raging storm.

SHARPENING THE FOCUS

Read Snapshot "Put It in Writing"

PUT IT IN WRITING

Over the years, as I've traveled and spoken at churches and conferences, I've occasionally met leaders who somehow seemed to avoid the daily slide into artificial Christianity. Whenever I could, I asked what their secret was. In almost every case they said "journaling"-the daily process of examining and evaluating their lives in written form.

Now, if you think I heard that and ran right out to buy a journal, you're dead wrong; I thought the idea was ridiculous. People who had time for journaling were not like me. They didn't have my schedule or live with my kind of pressure. Still, I had to admit that too often I repeated the same mistakes again and again. Too often I went to bed with regrets about my actions. Too often I made decisions inconsistent with my professed values. In a rare moment of honesty, I faced the fact that I was living under the tyranny of an unexamined life.

At that time I was chaplain for the Chicago Bears. Occasionally before the Monday morning Bible study, I'd join them while they watched films and did postgame analysis. They would go over every play of the previous day's game so they could learn from their mistakes and not repeat them in the next game.

Finally, I understood. The journalers were simply telling me to do a postgame analysis! How could I expect to be conformed to the image of Christ without evaluating my mistakes and progress? How could I grow without examining my character, decision-making, ministry, marriage, and child-rearing? Maybe journaling was for me.

3 What is your first response to my suggestion to journal as a means of examining and evaluating your life?

Read Snapshot "Yesterday"

YESTERDAY

After I was convinced of the value of journaling, I was still worried about facing a blank sheet of paper, until a well-known author offered a simple suggestion: Buy a spiral notebook and restrict yourself toone page a day. Every day, start with the word "Yesterday." Write a brief description of people you met with, decisions you made, thoughts or feelings you had, high points, low points, frustrations, Biblereading -anything about the previous day. Then analyze it. Did you make good decisions or bad ones? Did you use your time wisely or waste it? Should you have done anything differently? Were you authentic in how you lived your life or inauthentic? Journaling can become a chance for daily honesty and learning.

4 Using the space provided, take no more than five minutes to try journaling. Use the guidelines given in the above Snapshot "Yesterday." Don't try to be overly deep or profound; simply write about what you did yesterday and allow yourself to examine your day.

What did you learn about yourself through this brief experience of journaling?

Read Snapshot "Now What?" NOW WHAT?

The only problem with slowing down and meeting with God was that I realized I didn't have much to say. The second part of my path to spiritual authenticity-my prayer life-was amazingly weak, and had been for years. Then a friend suggested I begin writing out my prayers using a simple outline that would help me stay focused. I try to use this simple outline, called A.C.T.S., each day in my personal prayers.

Adoration-Each morning, after filling your "Yesterday" page, write a big "A" on the next page. Then spend a few minutes writing a paragraph of praise to the Lord. Paraphrase a psalm or attempt to write a poem. Or focus on the attributes of God, sometimes listing many, sometimes meditating on just one.

Confession-One way to make confession genuine and effective is to write out specific sins. Do you know what it's like to see your sins in print? Try writing something like this: "Last night I told Todd I would play ball with him, but I didn't keep my word. I lied to my son." It's so easy to justify our behavior by saying, "I intended to play ball. It just didn't work out." Instead, we need to see our sins for what they are.

Thanksgiving-In this section of your journal, thank God for answered prayers and for specific spiritual, relational, and material blessings. Almost everything in life fits under one of those categories. By the time you finish your list, you'll be ready to go back to adoration.

Supplication-Break your requests into four categories: ministry, people, family, and personal. Or make up your own categories of prayer. Keep a list of what you've prayed about. After a few weeks, look back over it. You'll be amazed at what God has done.

5 Use the space provided below to write out your prayer using the A.C.T.S. outline explained above.

Adoration:

Confession:

Thanksgiving:

Supplication:

What is one characteristic of God you wrote down in the adoration section of your prayer, and why did you choose this quality?

How does it make you feel to see your sins in writing?

What are you thanking God for today?

What have you listed under the supplication section that you would like your small group members to be aware of and pray for you?

Read Snapshot "Listening"

LISTENING

Journaling and writing out my prayers slow me down enough to hear God's still, small voice. The third step in my daily discipline is to listen and ask God to speak to me.

Scripture says, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10). It's these quiet moments after prayer that really matter. They nourish authentic Christianity. Power flows out of stillness, strength out of solitude. Decisions that change the course of lives come out of these quiet times.

Begin with these words: "Lord, You talked to Your children all through history, and You said You're an Unchangeable God. Talk to me now. I'm listening. I'm open."

Then I ask four questions. I never hear an audible voice, but I often get impressions that are so strong and real I write them down. In these quiet moments I ask:

What is my next step in my relationship with you?

What's the next step in the development of my character?

What's the next step in my family life?

What's the next step in my ministry?

You might ask other questions: What's the next step in my vocation? In my dating relationship? In my education? Over time, you'll become more adept at sensing God's answers to these questions. You'll receive Scripture verses, ideas, or insights that are just what you need. Those moments of inspiration will become precious memories you carry with you all day.

6 As you take time for silence and listening, use the space below to write any impressions or direction you feel God is giving you.

What was your experience during this time of listening?

7 We have experimented with journaling, focused prayer (A.C.T.S.), and listening. What kind of commitment do you want to make to develop one, two, or all of these prayer disciplines in your life in the coming month?

What can your small group members do to encourage you and keep you accountable?

PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE

Buying a Journal and Using It

Take time in the next day or two to buy a journal. A simple spiral or three-ring binder will do. On the first page, write down your commitment to how often you will be making time to be with God. Will you be journaling, using the A.C.T.S. prayer, listening and writing down God's answers, keeping notes on your personal Bible study? Be specific with your goals. Now, start doing it! Look back once a week to evaluate what you have been learning and how God has been shaping you into an authentic follower of Jesus.

Teaching What You Have Learned

Through this session, you have learned three different ways to grow in your faith and become a more fully devoted follower of Christ. Take time in the coming week to sit down with another Christian and tell them what you have learned so they can also grow in spiritual authenticity. Once you have communicated what you have learned, ask them to help keep you accountable and let them know if they want to make a similar commitment, you will pray for them and help keep them accountable also.

(Continues.)

Reviews

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