Session 2: Study Guide

He who goes about to reform the world must begin with himself, or he loses his labor.
–St. Ignatius of Loyola

Suppose our failures occur, not in spite of what we are doing, but precisely because of it.
–Dallas Willard
Trevor Hudson Part 6 of 14

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Table of contents

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Welcome

Welcome to session 2 of Another Kind of Life DVD Experience. Each of the six sessions in this study is designed for completion in 60 to 90 minutes, with additional activities that can be done at home.

This session accompanies chapter 2 of Another Kind of Life (pages xx-xx). Watch the video, discuss the questions, and complete the key activity as a group as time allows.

Note to Leader: You and your group will need to decide whether you would like to catch up with each other around the homework and Scripture reading experiences before you watch the video together for this week’s lesson.

Video Notes

As you watch the video, use the space below to take notes. We’ve included some key points to get you started.

  • The tragic crisis of credibility in which the Christian church finds itself. [It seems] there is very little difference between those who profess faith and those who do not . . .
    • Nietzsche: “I will believe in your savior when you look a little more saved.”1
  • If we really want to seek the life God wants to give us we need to be willing to change direction.
  • The curtain opening moment in Jesus’ life: “The time has come the kingdom of God is at hand (another kind of life is available). Repent and believe the good news.
  • Repentance supported by trust is the critical part we play in the salvation drama.
  • The Doorway of Repentance: “Repentance is the doorway into the life that Christ makes available.”
    • Jesus is offering an opportunity not a threat. Repentance is a wonderful invitation.
    • According to Willard: Repentance is rethinking our lives in light of the availability of another kind of life.
  • The Pathway of Repentance: “Repentance is not only the doorway but also the pathway along which we travel for the rest of our lives.”
    • We are constantly discovering new layers of unsurrendered self (e.g., willfulness, self-centeredness, self-interest, apathy).
    • “Sin is the refusal to let God be God. Repentance is letting God be God.”2
    • “Remember the sun will come up without you.”
  • Joy is the True Test of Repentance: When Repentance becomes both the doorway and pathway of our lives it becomes an experience of overwhelming joy—for us and for God. Repentance brings:
    • Our joy for a love that is not letting me go.
    • Our joy for deep forgiveness.
    • Our joy for burdens of self-condemnation and guilt being lifted.
    • Our joy for a new beginning and a fresh start.
    • Our joy for knowing that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
    • The joy that God experiences.
  • Ignatius’ Experience of Repentance: He walked alone and on foot to Montserrat where he did two things.
    • He came clean about his past and wrote out a confession.
    • And then he did something symbolic; he changed his clothes and laid down his sword. [Note: One can make clothes symbolic of pretense and his sword as symbolic of his ability to defend himself—his defense mechanisms]
  • We all need Montserrat Moments of facing the truth about our selves and also perhaps doing something symbolic
  • Those who genuinely seek God change direction. “They turn and they keep turning, until they turn right round.”
  • Question for Trevor’s Small Group: “I am wondering what it may mean to see repentance not as a threat but a wonderful invitation into something new.”

Discussion Questions

Silent Reflection

For each of the six sessions, we encourage you to listen to both Trevor’s talk and the interviews of the participants in Trevor’s small group. We want you to feel that you are part of an extended group. At the end of the DVD session, invite your group into a time of silence (at least a minute or two) to engage with the following reflections:

  1. Insight from the silence: “What does it mean to you to see repentance not as a threat but as a wonderful invitation into something new?”
  2. Was there a reflection by a member of Trevor’s group that inspired you? If yes, say more.
  3. When you think of repentance as a “doorway,” what are the things in your life that have caused this door to be open? What has caused this doorway in your life to be locked?
  4. When you think of repentance as a “pathway,” what has made you want to run down that path toward God? What has caused you to want to run the other way?
  5. What do you make of Trevor’s statement that we will only feel free to confess if we know we are loved unconditionally?
  6. Of the joys of repentance Trevor listed, to which are you most drawn?
  7. What was your reaction to the repentance stories from the lives of St. Ignatius and Dallas Willard [Note: The material from Dallas’s life was covered primarily in the book and not the DVD.]?

Key Activities

Personal Montserrat Moments

Trevor offers a great reframing of repentance as a “wonderful opportunity,” as opposed to a threat. And he is very realisitic about “the crisis of credibility” that exists within the Church.

Jesus offers abundant life or life to the full. But for many professing Christians this proposal may well seem like a hopeless ideal as opposed to realized experience. What is going on here? How do you expereince this painful gap between the offer of Jesus and your own experience?

We see in the life of Ignatius that his repentance was supported by a deep trust and developing trust. It was a trust that allowed him to change his clothes and lay down his sword (perhaps symbols of pretense and self-protection).

As Trevor reminds us, we all need Montserrat Moments. We all need to face the truth about ourselves to walk through the doorway of repentance and to stay on the pathway of repentance to the joy and opportunities being offered for another kind of life.

 

What about your Montserrat moments? Have you had both “doorway” and “pathway” experiences? Have you engaged in acts symbolic of your desire to live another kind of life?

We will return to the following outline to help you look for the times of repentance. Take a moment to walk back through your life. Jot down a note or two to describe any “doorway” moments. And then reflect on what the pathway was like at these different times in your life.

Preschool Years:

Elementary and Junior High School Years:

High School Years:

College and Young Adult Years:

Motivated by Relationship with Spouse:

Motivated by Relationship with Children:

Motivated by Career Experiences:

Motivated by Church Experiences:

 

Note to Leader: For the group discussion, invite anyone who feels comfortable doing so to share about personal experiences with the doorway and pathway of repentance.

Following these reflections, invite the group to take the following self-examination for the experience of repentance joy.

 

Joy—the test of Repentance and Life (Psalm 16:11)

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

After slowly breathing this passage, consider using the following words from Trevor as an honest “test” of your experience of joy.

 

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 refers to deep and constant joy, how do you score in the following areas?

  1. I experience joy for a love that is not letting me go. (___)
  2. I have a deep joy for being forgiven. (___)
  3. I feel joy for burdens of self-condemnation and guilt being lifted. (___)
  4. I experience joy for being given a new beginning and a fresh start. (___)
  5. I am joyful knowing of the sacrifice Christ made for me. (___)
  6. I believe I feel some of the joy that God experiences. (___)

Homework: Recognize and Respond

Moving Toward and Way from the Light

Margaret Silf, a colorful teacher of all things Ignatian, suggests that God is constantly challenging us to stop moving away. He wants us to come home; to stop being self-absorbed and to start becoming God- and other-centered. In short, repentence is a change of our basic operating system from “egoic” to “unitive.”

The exercise she proposes involves realizing that while we can attempt to “sit in our own light,” there are two major poblems. (1) We don’t have any light—it is all the reflected light of the sun and ultimately God. (2) If I remain with my back to and moving away from the only true source of light, then my own self, or ego, will overshadow all of my work and relationships. And I might even begin to believe that other beings should revolve around me and we will try to arrange their orbits.

So what do we do when we realize they are not the Light we need and that life has become so dark as to be unbearable? We turn around. We stop moving away from the Light—Ignatius would call this movement away from God “desolation”—and begin to move toward the light—Ignatius would call this movement toward God “consolation.” We are really only talking about our orientation, and the bottom line is this: Which direction is our life taking us -toward or away from Him (the light). (p. 70)

The Exercise: Set up a light source in the room (any old lamp without a shade will do). It will be best if this lamp can be the primary source of light. Then let everyone who wants to take a turn stand close to and facing the light. Then turn and with your back to the light walk away. Notice what happens when you walk away from the light and in the directon of your own shadow. Then, stop, turn around and notice the difference as you walk toward the light. Your shadow like your ego self is behind you as you return to the light.

Allow some time for the group to imaginatively walk through the exercise again. Ask them to think of spending a typical day walking away from the Light of Presence and toward a valley of shadow and death. Encourage each person to pay attention to his or her emotions and desires when their paths are moving away from and then when moving toward the Light.

Scripture Reflection

The following passages of Scripture were either referenced by Trevor in his talk or suggested by Dallas Willard to help us focus on some aspect of God’s offer of another kind of life. As your read each passage this week, notice if there is a word, or phrase, or sentence that connects deeply with you.

We will begin with verses that have to do with the doorway and then pathway of repentance. As your read each passage this week, notice if there is a word, or phrase, or sentence that connects deeply with you.

 

The Doorway of Repentance

Lord Have Mercy (Psalm 51:1–19)

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.

Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

 

The Pathway—Jesus Prayer

The Jesus Prayer, says Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, “more than any other,” helps us to be able to “stand in God’s presence.” This means that the Jesus Prayer helps us to focus our mind exclusively on God with “no other thought” occupying our mind but the thought of God. At this moment when our mind is totally concentrated on God, we discover a very personal and direct relationship with Him.3 And we can walk with God on the path of our daily lives.

 

The Jesus Prayer is very simple:

While the prayer appears in a variety of forms, the most standard version is:

“Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,”

It is often traced back to the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican found in Luke 18:9–14. Here we see the Pharisee praying a self-focused form of prayer that Jesus condemned: “God, I thank thee, that I’m not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican” (vs. 11, kjv). But the publican prays in humility: “God be merciful to me a sinner” (vs. 13, kjv).

Other, slightly modified versions include:

“Lord Jesus Christ Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.”
“Lord Jesus, have mercy.”

Breathe some form of the Jesus prayer as you walk through your day as a reminder of living on the pathway of repentance.

 

More Scripture About the Opportunity of Repentance as a Pathway of Joy

 

Jesus Announces the Good News (Mark 1:14–15)

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

 

Search me, God (Psalm 139:23–24)

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

Peace and Hope (Romans 5:1–8)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1–7)

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

 

The Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8–10)

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

 

The Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11–32)

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

 

The Desire of Your Heart (Psalm 20:4–5)

May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.

 

Heaven’s Joy Over Repentance (Luke 15:7)

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

 

Abiding in Love Turns to Joy (John 15:10–12)

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

 

The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Footnotes
  1. The verbatim quote is: “for me to believe in their Saviour: his disciples would have to look more redeemed!”
  2. Gerard Hughes, God of Surprises (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008), 74.
  3. https://www.orthodoxprayer.org/Jesus%20Prayer.html (accessed 22 June 2021).
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All Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
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