SESSION 1 Grace for the Unglued
Welcome to session 1 of Unglued. If this is your first time together as a group, take a moment to introduce yourselves to each other before watching the video. Then let's get started!
Video: Grace for the Unglued (18 MINUTES)
Play the video segment for session 1. As you watch, use the outline (pages 11–13) to follow along or to take notes on anything that stands out to you.
Raw emotions—anger, frustration, bitterness, resentment—are the feelings we tend to hide from people we want to impress but spew on those we love the most.
Feelings should be indicators, not dictators.
Our goal in this study isn't to be perfect. Our goal is to make imperfect progress.
Joshua had to settle a crucial question (Joshua 6:1–5).
"Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, `Are you for us or for our enemies?'" (Joshua 5:13).
Joshua is talking to the presence of God.
God's response to Joshua's question: "neither" (Joshua 5:14a).
Joshua was asking the wrong question.
The crucial question Joshua needed to settle was, "Joshua, whose side are you on?"
Joshua settled that question and it gave him the courage to face his wall of impossibility.
We must settle this question as well. In our unglued situations, are we going to be on God's side or not?
How to remain on God's side:
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14, NIV 1984).
Ask yourself: What words am I speaking about this person? What thoughts am I having about this person?
1. Use truth.
2. Use self-control.
3. Use prayer.
Video Debrief (5 MINUTES)
If your group meets for two hours, allow 10 minutes for this discussion.
1. What part of the video teaching had the most impact on you?
From Raw Reactions to Imperfect Progress (10 MINUTES)
If your group meets for two hours, allow 20 minutes for this discussion.
2. Which of the following animals best characterizes how you tend to respond when you are in an unglued situation? Share the reasons for your response.
Wounded bear: I am hurt and unpredictable, so watch out.
Agitated skunk: I may or may not create a stink, but the threat is always there.
Deceptive peacock: Who me? I'm not upset. Look at all my pretty feathers!
Crouching tiger: I may not attack now, but I will strike back when you least expect it.
Screech owl: Prepare for a tirade!
Barricading beaver: no time to say what I'm really feeling. I'm too busy building a wall between us.
3. On the video, Lysa said that the goal of this study isn't to be perfect; the goal is to make imperfect progress—slow steps of change wrapped in grace.
Generally speaking, what comes to mind when you think about trying to make a change? examples: I don't want this. Finally—something new! This is going to hurt. Change is bad. I'm excited to see what happens.
What was your initial response to Lysa's description of imperfect progress? How was your response similar to or different from the kind of thoughts you typically have when you think about change?
The Crucial Question (15 MINUTES)
If your group meets for two hours, allow 25 minutes for this discussion.
4. The book of Joshua is about conquering enemy territory. God's people have just emerged from forty years of desert wandering and are finally ready to claim the Promised Land as their own. After spying on the enemy (Joshua 2:1–3) and leading his own people to recommit themselves to God (Joshua 5:2–12), Joshua is on his way to survey the walls of Jericho in preparation for battle. But before he arrives, he discovers that a man he does not know is there ahead of him:
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?"
"Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?"
The commander of the Lord's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13–15)
In this brief exchange, the commander of the Lord's army essentially says, "I'm not here to take sides. I'm here to take over." Joshua, whom God has charged with taking posSESSION of the land (Joshua 1:1–9), suddenly experiences a radical reorientation—about his role and about the battle he faces.
How would you describe the shifts in Joshua's perspective—specifically, what do you think changes in how he sees his role and the battle he faces?
Joshua's first question rebounds, forcing him to ask himself a crucial question: Whose side am I on? How does this question shift your perspective about your role in the battles you face, and about the battles themselves?
What additional questions might this shift in perspective (or the story overall) stir up in you about your unglued experiences?
Optional Group Discussion: David's Impossible Battle (20 MINUTES)
If your group meets for two hours, include this discussion as part of your meeting.
1. Read aloud portions of the David and Goliath story in 1 Samuel 17:4–11, 45–47. (If time permits, it's worthwhile to read all of chapter 17.)
2. How would you characterize the similarities and differences between Joshua's situation and David's situation?
3. God's work in Joshua's story is obvious and dramatic—the commander of the Lord's army appears to Joshua and gives clear instructions. How do you recognize God uniquely at work in David's story?
4. In what ways, if any, does David's story shift your perspective about your own impossible battles? For example, how does it help you to recognize how God might be at work in your difficulties? How does it help you understand what it might mean to find the courage you need to move ahead?
Choosing God's Side (15 MINUTES)
If your group meets for two hours, allow 25 minutes for this discussion.
5. Settling the crucial question—that he is on God's side—gives Joshua the courage he needs to face his wall of impossibility in a new way. We may not have all the answers when we find ourselves in an unglued moment, but we can use the prayer of the psalmist to shift our perspective and to position ourselves on God's side:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14, NIV 1984)
What image would you say best characterizes your words and your thoughts when you are in an unglued situation? For example: a runaway train, an underground nuclear explosion, an iceberg. Share the reasons for your response.
Remake this same image to describe how you hope your words and thoughts might change if you could position yourself on God's side. For example: a runaway train might become a train slowly pulling into a station to offload cargo and refuel; an underground nuclear explosion might have an emergency "off" switch; an iceberg might melt into a spring-fed mountain lake.
The psalmist uses the words Rock and Redeemer to describe his relationship to God. They are words that evoke images of protection and rescue. How do you need God to protect and rescue you in your unglued moments?
6. The five remaining sessions in the Unglued study explore many of the ways we come unglued and how we can use imperfect progress to make lasting changes. In addition to learning together as a group, it's important to be aware of how God is at work among you—especially in how you relate to each other and share your lives throughout the study. As you discuss the teaching in each SESSION, there will be many opportunities to practice giving and receiving grace, to speak life-giving—and lifechallenging—words, and to listen to one another deeply.
Take a few moments to consider the kinds of things that are important to you in this setting. What do you need or want from the other members of the group? Use one or more of the sentence starters below, or your own statement, to help the group understand the best way to be a good companion to you throughout this Unglued journey. As each person responds, use the chart on pages 18–19 to briefly note what is important to that person and how you can be a good companion to her.
It really helps me when ...
I tend to withdraw or feel anxious when ...
I'd like you to challenge me about ...
I'll know this group is a safe place if you ...
In our discussions, the best thing you could do for me is ...
Individual activity: What I Want to Remember (2 MINUTES)
Complete this activity on your own.
1. Briefly review the outline and any notes you took.
2. In the space below, write down the most significant thing you gained in this SESSION—from the teaching, activities, or discussions.
What I want to remember from this session ...
Close your time together with prayer.
Between Now and the Next Session
Each session in Unglued includes a week's worth of personal studies to encourage you, prepare you for the next group discussion, and help you to make progress between meetings. In the studies this week, you'll have an opportunity each day to take "field notes" on your unglued experiences and to learn more about moving forward with grace—not guilt—as the foundation for lasting change.
Will you consider setting aside twenty to thirty minutes a day for grace-based personal study? It's an investment that promises to yield significant returns. Don't miss out!
DAY 1: Study and reflect
What kept me from making changes was the feeling I wouldn't do it perfectly. I knew I'd still mess up and the changes wouldn't come instantly. Unglued, page 14
1. The word pairings below describe a range of thoughts and emotions about change. Place an X on each continuum to indicate how you tend to think and feel about the prospect of making changes in your life.
Circle the continuum on which you placed the X farthest to the left. How has this perspective kept you from making changes in the past?
Based on your responses on the continuums, how would you describe your current thoughts and feelings about change—especially in connection with your raw emotions and reactions?
2. God invites us to choose grace rather than self-condemnation—or anything else—as the starting point for growth and change. One of the most compelling illustrations of this truth comes from the Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1–11). After dispersing the crowd of accusers who wanted to stone her, Jesus addresses the woman directly:
"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." (John 8:10–11)
There is nothing conditional about Jesus' response. He doesn't say, "if you promise to leave your life of sin, I won't condemn you." He first extends grace and then invites the woman to build a whole new life on that foundation. She doesn't change in order to receive Jesus' approval; she changes as a response to His love.
Take a moment to think about the changes you want to experience, especially in connection with your raw emotions and reactions. What intrigues you, or concerns you, about approaching these changes as a response to God's love?
Our goal isn't to be perfect; that's not realistic. Our goal is to make progress-imperfect progress. Unglued DVD
3. Sometimes progress toward a goal is easy to measure. For example, when the goal is to eat healthy and lose weight, you might keep a food diary and step on a scale to establish your starting point (the "before" picture), and then do the same to periodically assess progress. Other times—as with raw reactions—progress can be a little more challenging to measure. That is why it's especially important to set a goal and know your starting point; if you don't know where you are or where you're going, it's really hard to measure progress!
A goal is what you hope to accomplish stated in a way that is achievable and measurable. In connection with raw reactions, one way to think about a goal is to consider what you would like your new "normal" to be. For example:
I would like it to be normal that ...
I choose not to raise my voice when I am upset.
I graciously acknowledge what I'm feeling rather than stuffing my emotions.
I make it through a day without regretting how I treated someone.
If you feel uncertain or resistant about writing down a goal, this is your first opportunity to extend yourself some grace! What you write down isn't forever written in cement; it's simply a way to get started—and you will have a chance to come back and adjust your goal later. So, with a healthy helping of grace, imagine what you might like your new normal to be. Then use the sentence starter below to describe your goal. (if you have a hard time settling on one statement, you may wish to first write down three or four and then circle the one that stands out most to you as your goal.)
I would like it to be normal that ...
My Starting Point
Your starting point is what's true right now. The purpose of establishing a starting point is not to beat yourself up, but to provide a baseline for measuring progress. Since you can't step on a scale or take a "before" picture of raw emotions, you'll need to collect some field notes about yourself and your reactions this week. In the final study for this week, you'll use your notes to establish your starting point.
To start, use the questions on the chart (page 25) to make some observations about a recent unglued experience—a time when your emotions got the better of you. That could mean you expressed your emotions to someone else in a way you later regretted; or it might mean you stuffed your emotions and used them to beat yourself up. Whatever the case, keep your observations gentle. For now, you are simply noticing what happened.
Throughout the week, set aside a few minutes of your reading and study time to repeat this same activity. Use the charts on pages 37–39 to briefly document your experiences. Some days there may be nothing to write down (a good day!) and other days there may be more than one (a grace day). The most important thing is to use gentle noticing and to gather observations you can use to establish your starting point.
Lord, thank You for Your unending grace for me. Today, especially I need Your tender mercies for ...
Thank You for releasing me from the burden of my past mistakes and for loving me into the person You created me to be. Amen.
DAY 2: Read and Learn
Use the charts on pages 37–39 to briefly document any observations about your emotions and reactions over the last twenty-four hours (see page 25 for guidance and examples).