A few readers have written to me, asking about tips for reading my new book Simple Compassion with a group or book club. I really designed this book to be experienced in community, so I’m glad to offer some help, especially if you are leading a group. I spent years at Willow Creek coaching small group leaders, so if you need a coach as you go through this book with a group, I’m glad to help.
Because Simple Compassion is a 52-week devotional, it is great for a weekly discussion group. So what I will do is to have a “virtual book club” right here on my blog. Each Friday, I’ll post a question about the chapter, and we can chat about it here at Deep Breathing for the Soul (and on Facebook, as these posts show up there as well.
We’ll start today with the introduction, and do “Week 1: Position” next week. You can read the introduction for free by clicking here. (there’s also a link to an audio book sample on that page if you want to listen to the book). The book also contains a leader’s guide, with verses and information to help you. That guide also has a suggested structure for group time.
Every Friday, I’ll post something about the chapter, and ask for your comments. If you are reading the book with a group in your neighborhood or church, you can share your insights, questions or comments here on the blog. I hope it will be very interactive.
So let’s dive in. Read the introduction, then let’s talk about a few simple questions:
When you were growing up, how did you view God? What did you think he wanted from you?
What do you think our lives should be about if we are following God?
Where have you noticed God at work in your life lately?
After we have some comments (on Facebook or the blog) I’ll jump in with comments of my own. And feel free to respond with questions.
Will responses on the blog copy to your facebook page? Or vice versa. I expect several of us in RC, SD will be joining you here.
Comments don’t link. So the post shows up on FB, but the comments don’t. But go ahead and comment where ever you read the post. Typically, I get more comments on FB because it’s easier to comment there!
As a child, I lived in a home where my mom was a believer and my dad was not. My mom was instrumental in taking me to Sunday school and church. However, I don’t remember ever learning that I could have a very personal relationship with God. I thought that I had to do all the right things to be close to God and although I believed there was a God I wasn’t sure how to relate to him.
Now I have come to understand that as a believer, the Spirit lives in me and that I can have a real, interactive, personal relationship with God because of what Jesus did on the cross. I feel like my life can be a light in the world as long as I am pursuing that relationship with God and listening to his guiding through the Spirit.
I have noticed God working in my life lately through some circumstances in my marriage. I am trying to understand what forgiveness and love truly are according to God and not the world. We have been brought up in the world and it’s way of thinking is very skewed. I want to follow the path God has planned for me instead. This learning process has been difficult but eye opening at the same time.
Growing up, I viewed God mainly as – strict & loving from far away. I viewed Him as powerful. His grace was a bit hard to believe because of the many rules I associated with following him.
I am coming to think of relationship with God as falling in love with God – an intimate knowing & being known, allowing that “abiding restful union” described by Brennan Manning to guide our steps. I think, it is counterproductive to add a lot of rules to that following. In fact, for me the sense of failure with all the ‘shoulds’ really paralyzed me & prevented my getting to know him intimately. After beginning to let go of some of the ‘shoulds’ I have begun to pursue him more freely.
I have noticed God lately working through overlapping themes in conversations & books, etc.
Twila and Jean, thanks for joining the discussion!
I love that phrase from Manning–“abiding restful union.” So often, as you’ve noted, Jean, we think following God is about the rules, when it’s really about the relationship that both of you are talking about.
Twila, I love what you said about God working through your marriage. It is so easy to think that showing God’s compassion means going to save people in the inner city, or Africa. But first and foremost, God wants us to love the people who are right in front of us. A friend of mine blogged recently about a conversation she had long ago with Mother Teresa, who told her to “recognize the poverty of the people around you.”
Marriage is challenging, but those challenges strengthen us, and our faith.
Loving more freely–I love that idea. What are some practical ways we can let go of should’s, as Jean said, and love more freely?
Growing up I went to church Sunday and my mom was involved with so much that I fell into the old adage, that if the church was open, we were there.
I don’t think I realized a “personal” relationship with God was getting to know and abide in Him. there were “things” we were to do…verse memorization, prayers, and daily quite times, but I didn’t see these things model from people I knew, so they never really became a think I impemented in my life
After college I struggled with my own, walking away from God. I had always been the “good girl” and not that I did anything overtly bad, but certainly didn’t live how a felt a Christian should.
Recently I have been looking at that true PERSONAL relationship with God. Not a list of dos and don’ts but to know God. To dwell in His prescence and rest in the knowledge, not only of His love, and grace, but also His righteousness.
Recenlty i realized that I feel dried up inside…it has been a very hard ( emotionaly ) couple years. I have seen God working by bringing conversations, songs, friends along to feed/water my spirit.
Celeste, thanks for joining us. So often, even if we spend a lot of time in church, we confuse religious activity with relationship. We don’t get that “personal” relationship. When we finally do, it’s so cool, isn’t it? To realize that he loves us unconditionally, if we just come to him, admit our failures and ask for his forgiveness and love, he accepts us as his children.
That feeling “dried up” or burned out–I’m so sorry to hear that. We all go thru those sort of seasons. That can sometimes happen when we focus on doing, rather than being. I was just talking with some friends about this today. Sometimes we just need to rest in him, knowing that he loves us whether or not we do. Paradoxically, it’s when we realize our “doing” doesn’t earn his favor that we are empowered to do amazing things in his name. it’s cool that God is making his presence known to your thru friends, music, and so on.
I hope it’s really clear that I am a “saved by grace” person. When we talk about showing compassion, that’s a response to God’s love for us, not a way to earn his favor.
I’m going to put up a new post tomorrow with some questions about the first chapter. (“Position”) So I hope you’ll start reading that chapter, and then check back at the blog tomorrow for some discussion questions.
Feel free to invite others to join us on this journey.
blessings to all of you!