Engage Church
Engaging God, People, and Culture
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Engage Group Curriculum

Curriculum for Engage Groups. This curriculum is designed for the Engage Groups for Spring 2017. Simply click on the link to view or download the chapter summary.


Engage Groups March 6-9

NEVER ENDING LOVE

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

PREP

Leaders: Be sure to review the Faith in Action you set as a group last week, then continue to the icebreaker question for this weeks study.

Opening Question: What was the long drive you've ever been on? How long was it? What were the good things about it? What were the bad things about it?

PURPOSE

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalms 136:1

Love... How do we know it exists? When we have it, is it the real thing? In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Paul describes how love is practiced. How it acts. How it behaves. What attitudes comprise it. In verse 7, God gives us four attitudes that fuel love: bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring. This study will focus on how selfless love is enduring. To endure is defined militarily as sustaining an assault of an enemy. To apply this definition in our lives, an enduring love gives us a picture of holding up under trial, focusing through to the end, fighting to the finish, and doesn't give up or bail out when things get difficult. To truly love someone is to love them through it all, as marriage vows always tell us... "until death do us part".

Confronting the psychological demands on endurance athletes -- ScienceDaily

What are the psychological demands commonly faced by endurance athletes? New research published in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology ( Alister McCormick, Carla Meijen, Samuele Marcora. Psychological demands experienced by recreational endurance athletes. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2016) has identified psychological stressors common to endurance athletes across different sports at different performance levels. The article underscores where researchers can make effective recommendations to athletes of all abilities in helping them cope with pervasive psychological difficulties. The new research is therefore an important set of findings for anyone interested in improving performance in endurance sports.

Athletes in endurance sports face psychological 'stressors' that are specific to their particular sport. For example, channel swimmers have reported psychological stressors including feelings of (1) loneliness and anxieties surrounding the duration of the swim. Similarly, runners describe a crippling mental phenomenon known as "hitting the wall," in which they experience deeply (2) negative thoughts about their ability to continue. While research has been done on specific sports concerning the psychology of professionals -- who enjoy access to professional sports psychologists -- little research is available for recreational endurance athletes that provides effective and reliable psychological support.

In search of shared psychological difficulties across a variety of different sports -- running, cycling, and triathlon -- researchers conducted a study designed to provide useful data for those interested in performance enhancement. The resulting focus group interviews, targeting 30 recreational endurance athletes across a range of distances and competitive levels, explored the psychological demands of training, competition preparation, and competition participation. Their analysis revealed similarities in the participants' responses. Themes were identified that capture the demands that were commonly experienced away from the competitive environment (including time investment and lifestyle sacrifices), preceding an endurance event, and during an event. These themes included (1) 'remaining focused during an event', (2) 'optimising pacing' and (3) 'commitment to training sessions'. These themes were perceived to affect motivation and concentration, which in turn impact overall performance. Interventions that help endurance athletes to cope with these psychological demands could therefore encourage better outcomes in both performance and wellbeing for athletes. It is hoped that this trailblazing study will fire the starting gun on new psychological research to better support endurance athletes with these common psychological difficulties.

The lead author of the study, Alister McCormick of the University of St Mark & St John, said: 'Our research highlights the mental demands that recreational triathletes, cyclists, and runners commonly experience at home, during their training, and before and during their sporting events. We're now encouraging researchers to design and test interventions that help endurance athletes to cope with these demands, so that endurance athletes can perform better in endurance events and experience more positive emotions through their involvement in endurance sports.'

As endurance running tells us so often is that to finish well, it's about mentality. It's about how we think as we go through the course. Typically when it gets hard, we think the worst and tend to have battles and temptations to give up and stop. But like the study says, as it applies to enduring love as well; that if we can stay focused through the event, be optimistic as we go along, and finally if we can commit to the thoughts that our training has prepared us, then we should last and conquer the difficulty. If we can see value in seeking to have God's enduring love flowing through us, then all of our relationships would be blessed, successful, and deeper!

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Romans 8:38-39

PLAN

Read Psalms 136:1-25. A reoccurring theme pops up over and over in this Psalms, so much so that it becomes penetrating to the soul. It's message is obvious and God's wants us to know, understand and apply its meaning of love. God's love. Let us see how God's love is enduring and how we can apply these verses to our own lives. Use the following questions to help:

  • What is the lesson at the beginning of the first 3 verses? Why is that important?
  • What is the significance of stating that He alone does great wonders?
  • Verses 5-9 discuss creation. Why do you think this is so important? Explain.
  • What is the significance verses 10-16 and Israel’s deliverance. How does this apply to us?
  • What do you think the verses 17-20 have in common and what does it say to you for your life?
  • What are the blessings of His love in verses 21-22? Explain.
  • Verses 23-25 reveals and summarizes God’s love toward us. What do you take from these verses?
  • If you haven't answered this already... Why does the Psalm repeat itself 25 times?

PERSONAL: Faith in Action

Leaders take time to discuss what we need to do this week to show enduring love to those closest to us as well as those that are not. Be specific.

PRAYER

Pray that God would continue to show us how He loves us through all of our shortcomings. Pray that we will do the same with those around us, even those we are not very close to and especially those we do not get along with. May we have His strength, courage and endurance to push through any difficult times. 

Billy Humphrey