Read an Excerpt
THE REAL DEAL
THE BIG PICTURE
Some years ago it was discovered that the new American embassy in Moscow was so loaded with electronic listening devices that every single conversation in the place could be picked up and recorded by the Russians, giving them instant access to private conversations. In fact, one report said that the entire steel structure of the building was like a giant antenna. Our governmental leaders were outraged,
and rightly so.
A breach in confidentiality in foreign relations can be dangerous and costly. Private conversations are meant to be just that . . . private! When privacy is invaded, something is very wrong. When confidentiality is betrayed, sparks begin to fly! No one wants their private conversations made public.
We are all aware that private conversations go on between people, but did you know there are private conversations going on inside of you? We all talk to ourselves and carry on private conversations in our minds. These secret conversations we have with ourselves can be damaging or strengthening. One thing is for sure, it's probably a good thing there aren't electronic listening devices that can record and play back the private conversations that run through our mind each day.
A W I D E A N G L E V I E W
1. Describe how you felt when someone in your life took a private conversation you had with them and made it public information.
What impact did this have on your relationship?
A B I B L I C A L P O R T R A I T
Read John 8:31--32, 42--47 2. Describe the vivid and contrasting portraits of Jesus and Satan in this passage.
3. How does Jesus challenge the belief system of the religious leaders of His day?
How can these challenges speak to 'religious' people today?
S H A R P E N I N G T H E F O C U S
Read Snapshot 'Secret Conversations About Your Self-Worth'
4. Most of us have secret conversations about our selfworth that cover both sides of the above spectrum. If your fellow small group members could hear your secret conversations about your self-worth, what is one thing they would learn about you?
SECRET CONVERSATIONS ABOUT YOUR SELF-WORTH
Your secret conversations about your own worth or value are enormously important. If we could put an electronic listening device on some people, we might hear something like, 'Everybody looks so normal and happy. What's the matter with me? Why don't I feel happy? Why can't I be more relaxed and secure? It's because I'm not attractive, bright, and witty like everyone else. And I'm certainly not as spiritual. Face it, I don't measure up. I really don't matter at all.'
Many conversations like this happen in the minds of people throughout the day. In fact, some people experience steady streams of self-talk that denigrate their self-worth day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. These conversations are not benign banterings; rather like a deadly cancer, they take a dreadful toll.
Contrast the above conversation with the private conversation going on in someone else's mind: 'I live my day among countless people and yet the God of the Universe is thinking of me each moment. He knows my name. The hairs of my head are numbered. He enjoys my fellowship, prayers, and worship. He delights in me as I walk with Him. I can feel His smile as I seek to follow Him each day.' Can you hear the difference? One conversation ends in defeat and discouragement,
the other in praise and celebration. When we think about it this way, it's easy to see how our secret conversations about our self-worth have a powerful impact on our lives.
5. When you have positive secret conversations about your own self-worth, what are the sources of this positive view of yourself?
Read Snapshot 'Secret Conversations About Personal
6. Choose one of the areas listed below and give an example of what a negative secret conversation about personal competency might sound like:
* Going out on a first date
* Starting a small business
* Being asked to serve in a church ministry
* Going back to school for additional education
SECRET CONVERSATIONS ABOUT PERSONAL COMPETENCY
We need to be very sensitive about our private conversations when it comes to the area of personal competency. Imagine two people driving to their first day of a new job. One is in the car saying to himself, 'This is going to be a disaster. I'm in way over my head. I'm going to wind up blowing this thing. I never do anything well. I make stupid mistakes. I wonder how long this job will last?
Probably as long as my last one.'
A woman is a mile back on the same expressway holding her own private conversation. She's saying, 'You know, first days are always awkward. But that's life. The awkwardness will pass. It always does. I can probably learn the ropes with a little time, and all I have to do is give it my best shot. I'll probably do just fine, especially with help from above.
I'm going to trust You today, Lord, and I know that You never fail.'
Which of these two people has a better chance of succeeding? When it comes to personal competency matters,
self-talk is critical!
What can you do to fight against the natural tendency to have these kinds of debilitating negative secret conversations?
7. Using the same area you chose above, give an example of what a positive secret conversation about personal competency might sound like.
What can you do to develop a more positive internal dialogue about your personal competency?
Read Snapshot 'Secret Conversations About Spiritual Matters'
SECRET CONVERSATIONS ABOUT SPIRITUAL MATTERS
As in personal matters, self-talk can also flow freely, and often unconsciously, in the area of spiritual matters. The importance of spiritual self-talk cannot be overemphasized. The quality of your life---
and perhaps your eternal destiny---hinges upon your private spiritual conversations and the subsequent conclusions you come to in those internal dialogues.
Some people talk to themselves with real honesty. They say, 'I know I have sinned against God and have made a mess of my life. I also know I am lost without a Savior to make things right between me and God.' These people cry out, 'Jesus, thank You for giving Your whole life for me. You have offered me a new beginning and forgiveness for all my sins. Without You I am lost, and because of You I have been found.' This is the most important private conversation we can ever have.
Others fight the truth and continue to tell themselves lies. They say, 'There is no God. There is no heaven or hell. I won't ever be judged for the life I have lived and the decisions I have made.' Sometimes they even try to comfort themselves by saying, 'If there is a God and a heaven, I'm sure things will work out in the end. I've been a pretty good person.'
These private conversations can be more costly than most people ever dream. They are secret lies which keep people from recognizing their need for a Savior.
8. If you have come to the point where you have told the truth to God and acknowledged your need of His saving power in your life, how has this spiritual truth-telling transformed your life?
9. If you have not come to the point where you have admitted to God that you need a Savior, what is standing in the way?