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NOVEMBER 2011

celloutlines | overview

new Lives Introduction The theme for our cell groups this month is ‘New Lives’. It’s all about how lives are transformed by meeting with Jesus. And rather than looking at some spectacular figures of faith from ancient history, we are going to be hearing real stories, from real people living right now in November 2011! Each week features the story from one young person who is part of The Salvation Army. Each person tells a deeply honest story of how living as a Christian has been for them, sharing their struggles and pain, their failures and doubts…….and, most importantly, how meeting with Jesus transformed their lives today! Take Ben for example: “My faith is so amazing at the moment! Summer School has energised me so much! To be honest my year hasn’t been great for many reasons and my faith has been really weak. But Summer School has changed me in such an amazing way. I’ve prayed every night since, when before I was praying like once a month, I’m reading the Bible which I’m finding is so relevant to my life! And I’m really just loving God at the moment! Like the other day I actually couldn’t wait to go up to bed ‘cause that’s my time with God and I can speak to him and give him all my time! It’s a feeling I’ve never felt before and was quite amazing! And I have to say one of my friends has made a huge impact on my faith recently. I call her my Godly mentor because if I’m struggling I text her and she gives her time to me and she will sit and listen to me which is quite amazing! This feeling is amazing! I feel like a new person! I just pray that it continues! I LOVE GOD!!!!

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Ben, (aged 16) This is just a snapshot of what this month’s exciting cell groups have on offer! There are four more stories, all presented to you exactly as written by the authors. (NB All the names have been changed to protect the identities!!!) As you read these real life stories from young people just like you, we pray that you will be touched and inspired, challenged and comforted. We pray that you will find courage to make those tough decisions, or take that step of faith, to be real and honest about how life is for you, and to find new energy to continue to pursue Jesus and all that life with him is about! As Tozer said, the same God written about by the young people in these stories is the same God that is with you now! Anything God has ever done, he can do now. Anything God has ever done anywhere, he can do here. Anything God has ever done for anyone, he can do for you. (A.W Tozer) A huge thank-you goes out to those of you who sent in your stories and who are featured this month. Thank you for allowing us a glimpse of your struggles and for inspiring us to keep on living our lives for Jesus! continued over >>>

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NOVEMBER 2011 celloutlines

celloutlines | overview (continued...) Leader’s Notes As above, this months cell groups feature four deeply honest and moving testimonies from young people in The Salvation Army right here right now! Real stories like this are so powerful and we hope they will impact and inspire your cell group to continue to seek Jesus and experience an encounter with him! We have been in two minds as to whether to just simply use the stories this month, or whether to structure the usual cell format. However, we understand that some groups need and enjoy the structure, so we have developed the normal 4 W’s cell format around the stories. But, if you feel the stories are powerful enough to simply read and then let your group share, discuss and pray about whatever it brings up for them please feel free to do so. In no way do we want the format and additional activities written in the cell groups to detract from the message that each young person has shared. Attached to each story is a handout designed to facilitate the discussion within the group. Again, you do not have to use it if you feel your group are able to discuss and share relevant thoughts without it. The handout encourages the group, whether individually or together, to read through the story carefully and note down, in six circles, the following: • Emotions: This means any emotions that they feel the writer has expressed e.g. doubt, frustration, joy, hurt, rejection, amazement, excitement etc • Lies: Encourage the group to look out for any lies that the writer has believed about themselves e.g. ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘God isn’t really there,’ ‘No-one likes or cares about me’, ‘God can’t possibly love me’. • Truths: What truths has the writer of the story discovered about themselves /Jesus/ the world e.g. ‘God promises to be there for me always’, ‘God can really use me’, ‘Forgiveness brings freedom,’ • What changed?: What has changed in the life of the writer (and how did that happen) e.g. they stopped judging others, they allowed Jesus to bring healing, they forgave people who had hurt them and found release from the pain, they stepped out in faith and God met them, they feel happy, God began to use them. • Scriptures: Write down here any scriptures that are obviously mentioned in the story and also any that may spring to mind as you read. • How does this make a difference to me? Each person should note down in this circle how they feel impacted by the story, what they would like to experience, what changes they feel prompted to make etc. The aim of this handout is not simply a box ticking (or circle filling!) exercise – it is designed to help the discussion flow. So if your group get to the ‘lies’ circle and then start discussing the lies that they believe in their lives, feel free to stop there and let this discussion flow and pray for each other as needed. Another way of doing this without the handout would be to draw out the diagram on a large piece of paper and discuss together whilst one person writes down the main points.

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‘New Lives: Our Story’ Board In order to maximise the personal application of what the group are reading about, an idea is presented to create a ‘New Lives: Our Story’ board. This could be a pin board with pieces of card and drawing pins or simply a piece of flipchart paper with post-it notes! The idea is that at the end of each cell group, group members are encouraged to consider what they have read, heard, discussed, prayed about and how they feel it has changed them. This could be a statement of intent / commitment to change e.g. ‘In future I am going to be more open with other people about how I feel’ or ‘I feel inspired to get involved with the CU at school’; or it could be something that happened during the group e.g. ‘I feel more loved by Jesus’, I heard God say I am beautiful,’ I am confident that God’s promises will be fulfilled.’ Each week new statements can be added to the board, including things that happened during the week as well. At the end of the month you should have a board covered in the amazing ways that Jesus transforms our lives!

celloutlines

NOVEMBER 2011

celloutlines | overview (continued...)

www.salvationarmy.org.uk/alove


NOVEMBER 2011 celloutlines

celloutlines | week one These Cell Outlines are written by ALOVE UK. They are available each week from our web site. For more information and other cell resources, visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk/alove/resources

New Lives: Sarah’s Story You Will Need • Pens/paper • Highlighters / felt tips • Bibles • Copies of Sarah’s story / handout for everyone • ‘New Lives: Our Story’ board

Welcome Watch the Sky Advert featuring Dustin Hoffman talking about stories. www.youtube.com/watch?v=jq6d92aXvMU Read the cell intro together.

Word 1. Sarah’s Story Read Sarah’s story together. Option one. If your group are mature enough, allow everyone 5 – 10 minutes in their own space to read through Sarah’s Story again. Encourage each person to highlight, underline, scribble on, jot down notes, of anything that stands out to them or that they identify with as they read the story again. Then ask them to jot down their thoughts in the adjoining handout, ready for discussion in the group. Bring the group back together and ask everyone to share their thoughts, using the handout to facilitate the discussion. Option two. If you don’t think your group will be able to do this, use the adjoining handout to discuss the story as a group. Ask each person to jot down notes on their handout as you discuss. It may be helpful for you, as the group leader, to write down what the group are saying on a flipchart paper for everyone to see. (Or, if your group don’t like to write, draw out a big version of the handout onto flipchart paper and fill it in as you discuss – or give each person a pen to write on the flipchart themselves!) Allow the discussion to flow wherever the group members are taking it (within reason). There are so many themes, questions, issues that could arise that you will have to play it by ear a little bit! For example; you could discuss how to deal with past hurts, the importance of forgiveness, the support of good friends, accepting the truth about who you are, who to turn to when life gets tough, feeling loved by God. Take note during the discussion of group members sharing particularly vulnerable issues or questions and if appropriate you could come back to these during your prayer time and encourage other group members to pray for that person. This may be all that you need to do as the discussion may take off, people may be sharing their continued over >>>

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NOVEMBER 2011

celloutlines | week one (continued...) thoughts and questions, and valuable issues may be being covered. If you have a particularly close group you may find people open up more than before and are able to share some real issues and find support and encouragement form each other. Just let this happen! If however, this is not the case, you could move on from Sarah’s Story to the following Bible Study.

2. Bible Study Read John 4:1-26 The Woman at the Well in Samaria Intro: Here was a woman who was hurting. We don’t know much about her background, except that she had had seven husbands, but we can guess that she was feeling rejected, ashamed, left out and hurt. We can make these assumptions because we read that she was collecting her water, on her own, at the hottest part of the day. Usually in that culture at that time women would go together to get their water, either early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun was coolest. Perhaps she didn’t want to meet the other women; perhaps she was shunned by them or gossiped about because of her past. She appears in this story as a lonely figure, an outcast from her community, with no-one else in her family to draw her water for her. But Jesus went out of his way to meet with the woman and talk to her. Nothing unusual about that perhaps, but during the time of Jesus women were looked down upon and seen as inferior to men….a Jewish man did not talk to a woman in the street, not even with his own family members. In addition, for various reasons going way back in history, Jewish people did not associate with Samaritans, who were by their very nature viewed by the Jewish people as outcasts and unclean. Jesus knew all about this woman but still accepted her, even accepting a drink from her! Through her encounter with Jesus this woman’s life was dramatically turned around. Jesus took away her shame, healed her hurts and set her on a new path of new life with him! Discussion questions: • What does this story tell us about how Jesus’ felt about those who were ‘outcasts’ from society? • What was it that Jesus did that transformed this woman’s life? • What is the ‘living water’ that Jesus referred to?

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• How do you think Jesus feel about our past mistakes and hurts? • How do you feel Sarah, the author of our story, could identify with this Samaritan woman? • In what ways do you feel Sarah showed bravery and determination? What was the outcome for her? • What does Sarah say were the key things that released and healed her from her past? • Are there any mistakes or hurts in your life that you need to give to Jesus and receive his healing and transformation? How are you going to do this?

Worship It is possible that there are obvious points for prayer that have arisen from your discussion. If so please feel free to proceed in a time of prayer however you wish to….or you may have already interspersed your discussion above with prayers for each other. If not you could use the following ideas: • Ask people to bring their own hurts or past mistakes to Jesus and pray for each other to receive his forgiveness and love (NB People don’t need to say in the group what their issues are) continued over >>>

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• Get the group into pairs and ask them to each pray the prayer from Ephesians 3:14-21 for each other. So I bow in prayer before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth gets its true name. I ask the Father in his great glory to give you the power to be strong inwardly through his Spirit. I pray that Christ will live in your hearts by faith and that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God. With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen. (New Century Version)

Witness Use the ‘New Lives: Our Story’ board as outlined in the Leader’s Notes.

celloutlines

NOVEMBER 2011

celloutlines | week one (continued...)

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NOVEMBER 2011 celloutlines

Sarah’s Story “I am one of those people who, when bad things happen to them, always seem to manage to push through. Even though I have a fairly laid back personality, I am very determined at times. But one of my ways of coping with things in the past was to keep going and push through, but also I would put the emotion or the damage that the painful situation caused in a box – and put it on a shelf – to be processed another day. So, on the surface I always looked like I coped well, but inside things were probably not so good. But 3 years ago I reached a point in my life where I realised that I actually wasn’t coping with things all that well. I had gone through a number of changes in my personal situation and these had managed to erode my confidence and my self worth. In fact, inside I felt completely worthless. And it didn’t matter what anyone said to me, it really didn’t change how I felt. I was a Christian and believed very much in the love of God and had known God working in my life in some amazing ways. But at this point in my life I couldn’t really understand why he loved me, and in fact I started to think that God perhaps didn’t love me – he loved other people, but I didn’t feel worthy of his love. Fortunately at that time I had some real good friends in my life, who gently started to challenge me and encouraged me to seek some help. So with the help of a very trusted friend, I started to process all this painful emotion that was going on in my life. I also started to take the boxes of the shelf of all the bad things that had happened. And for me this was a very hard thing to do. Because those boxes contained some very painful memories. In my early teens I was sexually abused. At other times I had had some very significant people in my life tell me I was no good and would never amount to anything. I had some very painful times of rejection, significant bereavements and so the list could go on. You can perhaps understand why it seemed simpler to just keep all that rubbish in the boxes – with the lids firmly in place. I’ve been told that in reality it was quite a miracle that I turned out how I had. But as I began this process of looking at all these things, in many ways life got even harder. It felt dark for me, in fact it was so very dark. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, I just seemed to function and there were many times I wondered where God was in it all. But my faith was strong enough for me to believe that God had put me on this journey and even though he didn’t feel very close, I had the confidence to believe that God would be sovereign in this situation and so I just clung on. And so I continued on this journey for many, many months. In that time I faced up to many things. I learned again what it was to be of value and worth, what it meant to be a child of God and that he loved me unconditionally and I accepted that as truth in my life. I learned that I did not need to live in fear of what others said. I also learned about true forgiveness and the freedom that it brings, and I made the conscious decision to forgive those who had abused me and rejected me. When I reached the point of making the conscious decision to forgive and doing so, I remember at the time writing in my journal ‘I felt beautiful – not too sure I have ever thought myself beautiful – but I had this amazing sense of beauty inside of me’. Since that time not all things have been plain sailing – life indeed has had its ups and downs – but in the midst of it all Jesus has been there, quietly assuring me of his presence, his love and his power in my life.”

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NOVEMBER 2011

celloutlines | week two These Cell Outlines are written by ALOVE UK. They are available each week from our web site. For more information and other cell resources, visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk/alove/resources

New Lives: David’s Story You Will Need • Pens/paper • Highlighters / felt tips • Bibles • Copies of David’s story / handout for everyone • ‘New Lives: Our Story’ board

Welcome Arrange your group in a circle and give each person a piece of paper and a pen. Ask each person to draw a head at the top of the paper. They then fold the paper over so that their drawing is not visible, leaving only two lines indicating where the figure’s neck is to be, and pass the piece of paper onto the next person, who must draw the shoulders and torso, including arms, again leaving two lines to show where the legs must start. They then pass the paper onto the next person, having folded it, their neighbour must draw the figure’s legs. The next person then draws the character’s feet. Once this has been done, the paper must be unfolded to reveal the whole drawing. This is frequently very amusing as the individual parts drawn by different people often bear little resemblance to each other, meaning that the whole figure is very odd to look at!

Word 1. David’s Story

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Read David’s story together. Option one. If your group are mature enough, allow everyone 5 – 10 minutes in their own space to read through David’s Story again. Encourage each person to highlight, underline, scribble on, jot down notes, of anything that stands out to them or that they identify with as they read the story again. Then ask them to jot down their thoughts in the adjoining handout, ready for discussion in the group. Bring the group back together and ask everyone to share their thoughts, using the handout to facilitate the discussion. Option two. If you don’t think your group will be able to do this, use the adjoining handout to discuss the story as a group. Ask each person to jot down notes on their handout as you discuss. It may be helpful for you, as the group leader, to write down what the group are saying on a flipchart paper for everyone to see. (Or, if your group don’t like to write, draw out a big version of the handout onto flipchart paper and fill it in as you discuss – or give each person a pen to write on the flipchart themselves!) Allow the discussion to flow wherever the group members are taking it (within reason). There are so many themes, questions, issues that could arise that you will have to play it by ear a little bit! For example; being real about our struggles in our faith, not pretending to be someone we’re not, who we turn to when life gets tough, hearing God speak, being sure that God is there, trusting God for the future etc. continued over >>>

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NOVEMBER 2011

celloutlines | week two (continued...) Take note during the discussion of group members sharing particularly vulnerable issues or questions and if appropriate you could come back to these during your prayer time and encourage other group members to pray for that person. This may be all that you need to do as the discussion may take off, people may be sharing their thoughts and questions, and valuable issues may be being covered. If you have a particularly close group you may find people open up more than before and are able to share some real issues and find support and encouragement form each other. Just let this happen! If however, this is not the case, you could move on from David’s Story to the following Bible Study.

2. Bible Study Read Acts 9:1- 20. The Conversion of Saul Intro: Saul was a devout Jew — an expert in Jewish law who at the time of his conversion was doing everything he could to wipe out this new movement of Christianity. The Bible says that he went everywhere, dragging Christian men and women out of their homes and throwing them into prison (Acts 8:3). His conversion took place as he was on his way to Damascus (in what is now Syria) to persecute Christians. As he approached the city, a bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around him, striking him blind. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice from heaven say, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). Jesus told Saul that it was him he had been persecuting, then instructed him to get up and go to Damascus where he was to meet with a believer named Ananias, and the rest as they say…is history! Saul found himself dramatically changed by a really powerful encounter with Jesus. He went from being someone who passionately and murderously hated Christians, to accepting Jesus into his own life and then telling others all about him! Even his name was changed – from Saul to Paul! This encounter removed all Saul’s doubts and turned his life around. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and became a powerful messenger for God – one of the most well known and successful early missionaries in the Bible! Some people say that had there been no Paul, there would be no Christianity!

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Discussion questions: • Saul was a very religious person, upholding all the Jewish Laws and serving God rigorously and devoutly. But somewhere along the line he had missed out on the reality and truth about Jesus. He didn’t have any personal experience of Jesus in his life. How can our own church lives be similar to this? • How do you think Ananias felt when he realised that SAUL was coming to his house!? What would you have done if someone who hated Christians dropped by?! • David felt he was going through the motions of Christianity without any deep or meaningful experience of God. Share with each other about times when you may have felt like this. • David describes a dramatic encounter with Jesus when he found himself writing down words that seemed to be talking straight into his heart. This experience confirmed to David that God really is there and he really does love him! Share with each other any experiences like this you have had? • David encourages us that Jesus is there for us and wants us to know him, and that it is OK to ask Jesus to reveal himself to us. In what areas of your life would you like more of Jesus? continued over >>>

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NOVEMBER 2011

celloutlines | week two (continued...) Saul transformed from being someone who literally committed murder to one of the most dynamic and passionate early missionaries. What does this tell us about our past mistakes and feelings that God can never use us when we’ve messed up in some way? (Look up 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Worship It is possible that there are obvious points for prayer that have arisen from your discussion. If so please feel free to proceed in a time of prayer however you wish to….or you may have already interspersed your discussion above with prayers for each other. If not you could use the following ideas: 1. David was asked how he would like his story to inspire others. “To put it simply, I pray that others would know that he does answer prayer; that if you truly search for him you will find him, and he will reveal himself to you.” Write out the promises that David heard God speak to him. ‘You are loved.’ ‘You are my child.’ ‘I know the plans I have for you, trust in me.’ ‘I will be there for you, every step of the way.’ Ask each person to consider which of those promises they need to hear and believe most in their lives at the moment. Then either in pairs, or one at a time in the whole group, pray for each other and ask God to make that real in that persons life. 2. Spend some time saying sorry to God for the times when you have just gone through the motions, pretended you were into church, did things that other people expected of you, without really honouring, serving or worshipping God.

Witness

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Use the ‘New Lives: Our Story’ board as outlined in the Leader’s Notes.

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NOVEMBER 2011 celloutlines

David’s Story (age 20) I came to the Salvation Army around 11 years ago, and dutifully attended most Sundays. I became a junior soldier not long after, and recall being moved by God as a child. As I got older and into my teen years, I kept that faith and knew that God was there. When I was fifteen, the year of my GCSEs, my dad passed away, and although he’d not been well for a good few years prior to that I was left wondering, why? Why now? As I’m sure is common with many teenagers, and perhaps even adults, I questioned God, and my faith diminished, over the coming years I was left wondering if God was there, and if so why I couldn’t feel his presence. I kept my lack of faith quiet – I kept going to church on a Sunday, I knew the right answers to questions in youth groups etc., but was left doubting regardless. I felt a bit of a fraud, I’d got into a habit and just carried on. I silently decided that 2011 would be my year, and that if he didn’t show me that he was there during this year, that would be it – I’d move away from the church that had no clue that I was battling with my faith. I sent in my application for our annual summer school – a week of socialising (and spiritual discovery). During the evening worship one night the visiting worship team invited people forward if they wanted prayer. I felt an urge to step forward, an urge that I’d usually resist but for some reason was unable to. I explained my request, and was prayed for - asking God to show himself to me in the simplest of ways, that I would see him in all I do. And that was it, the deed was done. That evening I had a dwelling on my heart to sort out problems that I had with people; Jesus had forgiven me for all the sins I’ve ever done and will do, yet I had tiny disagreements that were weighing me and others down. The following evening we were asked to take a few minutes to think about the previous day, and to write about it. Honestly, I can’t remember what we were meant to write, as what happened next astounded me. I folded my paper into quarters, thinking I’d write a few words as usual. This time was different though, as I wrote and only stopped writing when our leader wanted us to move on. “You are loved” “You can start again” “You are my child” “I know the plans I have for you, trust in me” “I will be there for you, every step of the way”. A selection of God’s words, talking directly to me – not even a chance to pause and consider what I was writing before the next one came into my head. A lot of people may say it’s purely coincidental, but ever since that moment almost everything seemed to fit in place. I’d wake in the morning and want to be back in bed, but deep inside of me there was a joy that I couldn’t explain. I’d wonder what I should do about different situations, and then read my daily devotional and it would give me the answer. The Sunday sermons, every week since then, seem to apply to me in one way or another. I’ve found a burning desire to bring others to know the love of God, and to get to know him through his word. The bible isn’t just a history book, there to gather dust on the shelf - it’s a Living Word, and the contents are as relevant today as two thousand years ago. He wants you to know him, but you have to want to know him first. He wants you to know he’s there, but you need to ask him to reveal himself to you. Even in the few weeks since summer school life hasn’t been easy. Different things have happened, but I’ve found that God has been there with me. When you call on him he WILL answer, he WILL be there for you through everything you face. He doesn’t promise that everything will be easy, but promises that he will take care of you. “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” God’s Decree. “I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from… [where]… I drove you, bring you home to the place from which I sent you off … You can count on it.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 (The Message)

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NOVEMBER 2011 celloutlines

celloutlines | week three These Cell Outlines are written by ALOVE UK. They are available each week from our web site. For more information and other cell resources, visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk/alove/resources

New Lives: Anna’s Story You Will Need • Pens/paper • Highlighters / felt tips • Bibles • Copies of Anna’s story / handout for everyone • Strips of white cloth • Bowl of red water • ‘New Lives: Our Story’ board

Welcome This game is similar to pictionary. You will need to split the group into two teams and have a list of words ready. But instead of drawing a word, one person in the team uses a piece of paper and a pair of scissors to cut out the given word (e.g. dog, cat, mouse, house, tree, sun etc.) from a piece of paper and holds it up. The group has to guess which word has been cut out. The winning team is the one with the most correct guesses!

Word 1. Anna’s Story Read Anna’s story together. Option one. If your group are mature enough, allow everyone 5 – 10 minutes in their own space to read through Anna’s Story again. Encourage each person to highlight, underline, scribble on, jot down notes, of anything that stands out to them or that they identify with as they read the story again. Then ask them to jot down their thoughts in the adjoining handout, ready for discussion in the group. Bring the group back together and ask everyone to share their thoughts, using the handout to facilitate the discussion. Option two. If you don’t think your group will be able to do this, use the adjoining handout to discuss the story as a group. Ask each person to jot down notes on their handout as you discuss. It may be helpful for you, as the group leader, to write down what the group are saying on a flipchart paper for everyone to see. (Or, if your group don’t like to write, draw out a big version of the handout onto flipchart paper and fill it in as you discuss – or give each person a pen to write on the flipchart themselves!) Allow the discussion to flow wherever the group members are taking it (within reason). There are so many themes, questions, issues that could arise that you will have to play it by ear a little bit! For example; developing a character like Jesus, judging others, freedom from shame and guilt. Take note during the discussion of group members sharing particularly vulnerable issues or questions and if appropriate you could come back to these during your prayer time and encourage other group members to pray for that person. continued over >>>

www.salvationarmy.org.uk/alove


NOVEMBER 2011 celloutlines

celloutlines | week three (continued...) This may be all that you need to do as the discussion may take off, people may be sharing their thoughts and questions, and valuable issues may be being covered. If you have a particularly close group you may find people open up more than before and are able to share some real issues and find support and encouragement form each other. Just let this happen! If however, this is not the case, you could move on from Anna’s Story to the following Bible Study.

2. Bible Study Read John 8:1-1. The Woman Caught in Adultery. Intro: We have seen in week one how Jesus broke all social and cultural rules by speaking to a Samaritan women and accepting a drink from her. In this story he acts in an unexpected way again. A woman, who had been caught in the act of adultery, was brought to Jesus Christ by the Scribes and Pharisees. As strict observers of the Law they didn’t like Jesus because he preached love, forgiveness and mercy as the true sprit of the law. They felt threatened. They had already tried to make Jesus look bad in public, now they had another opportunity. But Jesus’ response was aimed at the religious leaders, rather than the women. He condemned them for judging the women for her mistakes, when they themselves were also full of ‘sin.’ He accepted the woman whilst telling her that her actions were wrong, and encouraged her to change. Jesus warns of the dangers of judging others in Matthew 7: 1-2; “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticise their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbour’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. – (The Message) We read in Anna’s story how her attitude of judging others, not accepting people, and harbouring unforgiveness really held her back from experiencing God’s love and being used by him. When she started to see people through the eyes of Jesus, to let go of her wrong attitudes, she says she began a ‘new journey towards God’ and ‘it was the best thing I have ever done in my life!’ Through being obedient to God Anna was part of establishing a CU in her school that will undoubtedly soon be seeing many of the students becoming Christians! Discussion questions: • What was Jesus’ first reaction to those bringing the woman before him? What principle can we learn here? • What reasons can you think of for why this woman may be committing adultery? Do any of you reasons make you feel differently towards her? • In verses 4-5 the religious leaders made it clear that they believed people fell into one of two categories: “good” people, like themselves, who deserved to live, and “bad” people, like this woman, who deserved to die. What sorts of things have you seen people use to judge who’s “good” and who’s “bad?” • Have you ever been judged this way by people who thought they were better than you? • Have you ever judged yourself the way these religious leaders judged this woman? • Have you ever judged others this way? continued over >>>

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NOVEMBER 2011 celloutlines

celloutlines | week three (continued...) Think honestly for a minute. Do you ‘pick on people, jump on their failures, criticise their faults’? If so how can you change these attitudes and behaviours? Have you ever done something that has made you feel ashamed…like the woman in this Bible passage? Look at Jesus’ conversation with this woman in verses 10-11. Jesus is telling her that no one had the right to shame and condemn her--that even he himself refuses to shame and condemn her. Hebrews 9:14 it says ‘think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out….freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.’ (The Message) What does this tell you about what God has done about any shame or guilt you’re living with?

Worship It is possible that there are obvious points for prayer that have arisen from your discussion. If so please feel free to proceed in a time of prayer however you wish to….or you may have already interspersed your discussion above with prayers for each other. If not you could use the following ideas: 1. Anna identified areas in her life where she knew she wasn’t living as Jesus would have wanted her to. She allowed God to point these things out to her and took brave, and possibly difficult steps, to put these things right. As a result she felt a huge weight lifted off her shoulders and God was able to use her in some extraordinary ways. So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. (Romans 12:1 The Message) Allow people time in quiet to consider their own lives in relation to the above scripture, as an offering to God. Ask them to think of any areas of their lives that they do not feel would be a pleasing offering to God. Pray together, either out loud in the group, or quiet inward prayers, saying sorry to God for any wrong attitudes or actions and asking God to help you change! 2. Create a bowl of water with red food colouring. Have people write on strips of white cloth any areas of shame or guilt they feel they have in their lives. Ask them to put their strips of cloth in the water…hopefully they will turn red and cover over the writing! Read Romans 8:1 ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’. Pray together, thank God for his forgiveness and freedom!

Witness Use the ‘New Lives: Our Story’ board as outlined in the Leader’s Notes.

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NOVEMBER 2011 celloutlines

Anna’s Story (age 16) I always thought I was an ‘alright’ Christian. I went to church every Sunday, prayed, read my bible and did all of the stuff I thought a young Christian should do. But there was one major thing missing from my Christian faith; that was acting like Jesus. During the course of my Christian journey, I have had countless ‘rollercoaster’ experiences. I would often get ‘high’s’ after youth events but then plummet down to normal life as soon as I walked in through my house door! I knew I needed to do something but I didn’t have a clue how to help myself. The next few months included a series of events and experiences that gave me the roots I needed to stay secure in my faith; I went to Transformers and learnt about being a faithful disciple of Jesus. I attended many Christian events in my area and most importantly, I started to understand how God was talking to me!! Don’t get me wrong, this stuff was incredible at the time, but looking back I can see that I was by no means ‘like Jesus’. It was only until this summer that I can truly say I started to change my personality in order to fit in with what God wanted to use me for. Even though I was convinced I was living my life for God, I was judgemental, easily angered and not very forgiving at all. I remember God used to give me little hints about things but I’d dismiss them because I was too selfish to give my life completely over to him. One of the first times I truly dropped these sinful characteristics was at a day trip to Soul Survivor. I remember walking into this huge tent packed with Christians and I see a bunch of girls from the year below. At first I thought how they’ll be all immature and annoying but about half way through the service I started to pray WITH them. For me, that act alone, broke down so many social barriers that I had been holding up so tight; and for the record, God answered our prayer in ways that were just incredible!! So after Soul Survivor, I started to think differently about how I treated people, but I knew I wasn’t there just yet. About 2 days after we had recovered from that awesome night at Soul Survivor, I made my way to Summer School. Let’s face it, I was still buzzing from my encounter the week before and I was determined to praise God that week. After one session a person came up to me and started asking about my relationship with God. I must admit, this was a guy who I really wasn’t very close to, but with my new determination not to be judgmental, I started talking about God and how he can work through his life. That evening, the preacher was talking about God in our lives and said, WORD FOR WORD, the things I had been telling him that morning. I felt that that was God talking to him and thus began a huge journey that we have both been on since. But aside from this encounter, I felt that God was trying to tell me that if I dropped all of this judgement and unforgiving nature that I had before, I could help so many more people see God for themselves. And that was the starting point to my new journey today, a journey that is going in a different direction now; towards God. Since that moment, another girl whom I had never really got on with before, approached me and asked if I would help her start up a Christian Union at my school. I agreed, and now we have 43 people attending a CU, and 3/4 of them aren’t Christians!! My challenge for you is to see things in unexpected circumstances. I certainly did something I never thought I would do, but hand on my heart, it was the best thing I have ever done in my life! It only goes to show that however unappetising God’s plan may be, it is definitely worth it!!

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NOVEMBER 2011

celloutlines | week four These Cell Outlines are written by ALOVE UK. They are available each week from our web site. For more information and other cell resources, visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk/alove/resources

New Lives: Catherine’s Story You Will Need • Pens/paper • Highlighters / felt tips • Bibles • Copies of Catherine’s story / handout for everyone • Blindfolds • Cards with Jeremiah 29:11 written on • Blank cards • ‘New Lives: Our Story’ board

Welcome Blindfolded Trust Walk. The group divides in half. One half is blindfolded. The other half chooses a partner who is blindfolded, but may not talk to them at any time. They take their blindfolded person on a trust walk by allowing them to hold their arm. Only the blindfolded person may talk - the guide must stay silent. At the end of the walk, the guide returns to their group. The blindfolded person then removes the blindfold and the roles are reversed. The guides then choose a blindfolded partner. Before taking off blindfolds, they separate. At the end of the game each person tries to identify their guide and say how they knew!!

Word 1. Catherine’s Story

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Read Catherine’s story together. Option one. If your group are mature enough, allow everyone 5 – 10 minutes in their own space to read through Catherine’s Story again. Encourage each person to highlight, underline, scribble on, jot down notes, of anything that stands out to them or that they identify with as they read the story again. Then ask them to jot down their thoughts in the adjoining handout, ready for discussion in the group. Bring the group back together and ask everyone to share their thoughts, using the handout to facilitate the discussion. Option two. If you don’t think your group will be able to do this, use the adjoining handout to discuss the story as a group. Ask each person to jot down notes on their handout as you discuss. It may be helpful for you, as the group leader, to write down what the group are saying on a flipchart paper for everyone to see. (Or, if your group don’t like to write, draw out a big version of the handout onto flipchart paper and fill it in as you discuss – or give each person a pen to write on the flipchart themselves!) Allow the discussion to flow wherever the group members are taking it (within reason!). There are continued over >>>

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NOVEMBER 2011 celloutlines

celloutlines | week four (continued...) so many themes, questions, issues that could arise that you will have to play it by ear a little bit! For example, you could discuss how to keep trusting in God when life gets tough, how an we be sure that God is really there when things are difficult, God’s promises for the future, healing of past hurts in our lives. Take note during the discussion of group members sharing particularly vulnerable issues or questions and if appropriate you could come back to these during your prayer time and encourage other group members to pray for that person. This may be all that you need to do as the discussion may take off, people may be sharing their thoughts and questions, and valuable issues may be being covered. If you have a particularly close group you may find people open up more than before and are able to share some real issues and find support and encouragement form each other. Just let this happen! If however, this is not the case, you could move on from Catherine’s Story to the following Bible Study.

2. Bible Study Read Esther 2:2–18; 3:13–4: 1-17 Intro: Catherine tells us in her story how she found hope inspiration from the life of Esther. Esther was a young Jewish girl torn from her family and placed in the King’s palace, forced to take part in a kind of bizarre beauty contest by which the King mean to choose his new Queen. After spending at least 6 months in this strange and alien environment, undergoing all sorts of invasive beauty treatments, Esther was bought before the King and chosen to be Queen. Esther never revealed to the King that she was a Jew, so when the King was tricked into signing a decree ordering the annihilation of all the Jews in the province, Esther faced some difficult choices. Esther’s Uncle and mentor Mordecai pleaded with her to approach the King and beg for mercy for her people. However, Esther reminded Mordecai that no person, not even the Queen, was allowed to go into the King’s presence unless she had been specifically summoned by the King himself. To do so meant almost certain death. The person’s life would only be saved if the King extended his golden sceptre towards him. Esther hadn’t been called to see the King in over thirty days...would she be prepared to risk her life to try to save the Jewish people? It is here that Mordecai presents Esther with her greatest challenge and the most well known verse of the whole story. (4:14) Paraphrased, Mordecai’s words go something like this: “Esther, don’t think that just because you are the Queen living in the King’s house that you will be the only Jew to escape annihilation. If you do nothing you will certainly die along with the rest of us, even if God raises up help from another source. But don’t you think this is all part of God’s plan, that he has put you in this position for such a time as this? You are in the right place at the right time to make a difference. You have to do something!” And so, a young orphan girl, separated from everything and everyone she knew and loved, took a brave and courageous step, to trust in God and his good plans for her life……and saved an entire nation!!! It is often easy to think if a situation isn’t working out as we think it should that God has abandoned us. But we only see part of the picture and God sees the whole. He is often working in ways that we can’t see or don’t expect. God wants us to learn to trust him in faith. It is often only as we look back that we’ll continued over >>>

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NOVEMBER 2011

celloutlines | week four (continued...) see how he was working on our behalf. There are times in our lives when we must trust God even when we can’t see him or hear him. We must trust that he is working behind the scenes, like in the story of Esther, guiding us along his path, to outwork his plans for our lives. Group Discussion: Discuss what it must have been like for Esther taken from her family. One minute she was happy and secure, thought she knew where her life was going....and the next, everything had changed? Surely she did not understand what was happening to her and must have wondered what God was doing. Use the following questions to facilitate some group discussion about trusting and believing in God even when things maybe going wrong or we don’t understand what is happening. • What sort of questions would Esther have been asking God? (Where are you God? Do you see what is happening to me? Can you hear me God? Why are you not answering me God?) • Do you think Catherine would have been asking God similar questions? • What sort of things happen in our lives that make us question God in this way? • Ask the group to share with each other similar situations that have happened in their own life and how it made them feel. • What would you say to anyone who claims that because God does not appear to be working in a certain situation nor exerting his control, he must have abandoned them? • What can we learn from the story of Esther about trusting God in our lives even when we don’t understand? • In what ways have you experienced real joy like Catherine describes? Have you ever laughed out loud because of Jesus’ love in your life?!

Worship

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It is possible that there are obvious points for prayer that have arisen from your discussion. If so please feel free to proceed in a time of prayer however you wish to….or you may have already interspersed your discussion above with prayers for each other. If not you could use the following ideas: 1. Catherine was asked how she would like her story to inspire others. She said: ‘I want people to know that someone so incredible can heal your earthly pain. Just because you can’t see him, he is still there working through the pain to bring good into your lives “for the lord has a plan for you, plans to prosper, not to harm.”’ Catherine is the second person who has mentioned this scripture in their stories this month. It’s Jeremiah 29:1. Write out this verse on cards in a few different translations (see examples below). Place the cards in the centre of the group and allow time for everyone to read them. (You could do this as a meditation with some reflective music if appropriate for your group) Ask people to share what stands out for them about these verses, what they feel God is saying to them. Then give out some blank cards and ask each continued over >>>

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person to write down either the translation that speaks to them the most at this time – or have a go at paraphrasing the Scripture for themselves. Use this verse in a time of prayer together. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV) “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (The Message) “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (New Living Translation) “I will bless you with a future filled with hope--a future of success, not of suffering.” (Contemporary English Version) “I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.” (New Century Version) ii) If your group have shared openly, ask for anyone who feels they are in a dark patch at the moment and can’t see or don’t understand what God is doing in their lives or circumstances. Ask these people to stand in the middle of the group and have everyone else gather round and place their hands on them. Encourage people on the outside to pray out loud for those on the inside!

Witness Use the ‘New Lives: Our Story’ board as outlined in the Leader’s Notes.

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NOVEMBER 2011

celloutlines | week four (continued...)

continued over >>>

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NOVEMBER 2011 celloutlines

Catherine’s Story (age 18) When I was 11 I started attending a private boarding school, whose ethos was Church of England oriented. My parents and me chose this school because I was bullied at my primary school and I was a bit fragile so we thought the security of a Church of England school would benefit me greatly, and it did, for two years. Then in my third year the year group expanded from 10 pupils to 70. The 10 of us were split up into separate boy and girl houses and I was taken out of my comfort zone and back into the world of girls, going through puberty, making snide comments and singling me out. Then a new boy came to school. He showed an instant liking to me, which was something I had never experienced before with either a boy or a girl, so I started ‘going out’ with him from the age of 14. He wasn’t a Christian but I thought I could change that. So everyday I prayed for him, feeling nothing from God. I carried on just clinging onto this boy who loved me because I didn’t love myself. I began not eating, throwing up food, self harming in my boarding bedroom (I was in a room by myself because the other girls didn’t want to share with me because I was apparently depressing) but something deep in my Christian upbringing stayed rooted and I didn’t sleep with the one person who, at school, was always there for me. This was something he really struggled with throughout our 3 year relationship, so much so that, on a few days before my 17th birthday, he sent me a text breaking up with me, saying that I was depressed and expressing his annoyance that I wouldn’t sleep with him or drink. This was, for me the worst moment of my life. Yet through the bleakness of September 2010 the theme from Summer School kept swirling round in my head. We studied the book of Esther in our Cell Groups. Esther was a woman who trusted in God in a BIG way! So I thought, might as well try. I then received an email from a guy who had left my school, who was in the upper 6th when I was in year 11 saying: ‘This might seem a bit weird I know we weren’t like best buddies at Monkton but I feel like Gods been telling me you’re not 100% at the moment and you need a bit of a pick me up. We’ve been asked to invite a friend to church next week as kind of like introduce everyone sort of thing. It would be great if you felt you could come!’ I jumped onto this opportunity and I was there at 7pm that Sunday. Whilst I was there 5 people came up to me who were at school, two years older than me, that I didn’t think even knew my name and gave me a hug! That night I truly encountered God’s compassion and glorious Holy Spirit for the first time. Throughout this past year I have delved so much deeper into my relationship with God and I only want to go deeper. I feel so called to worship leading that in this past year I have started a worship band in my Corps (WITH A GUITAR!) We’re still taking baby steps with how ‘modern’ it is but God’s working even when the band and me can’t see it! I also have had a miracle happen in my life. It doesn’t really have fireworks coming out of it but it is a miracle. I was depressed from the age of 14 till 17. I self harmed, I didn’t eat and I forced myself to be sick. I would cry a lot and I didn’t resemble the girl who had a huge sense of humour, who laughed constantly and drove people bonkers with her singing. After I encountered God for the first time and I truly acknowledged his presence I suddenly began to laugh. It was uncontrollable really. I was just laughing everywhere and I don’t really think I’ve stopped. Since my first encounter with Jesus my mum has had cancer and had an operation to remove it, I have had to lead all the girls who singled me out at school and work with them and I have been rushed into hospital and had an emergency operation with quite a few lingering effects, but through all of these attacks that the devil has thrown at me I have been shocked at how I have taken them in my stride and have laughed the whole way! This is a miracle because my depression has been healed, the loss of that relationship with that boy was filled in with God’s almighty love and now he’s equipping me daily to tell of his love and to worship him and to lead people into his presence with not just my music, but with how I live my life. It’s not easy, but it sure is fun! (and now I have a God-loving boyfriend who I pray with, that shows how God really does have a greater plan than we can ever imagine!)

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November Cell 2011