Introduction:

As believers, we attend Church and connect weekly with the body of Christ for two reasons:

  1. To worship God and be taught from His Word.
  2. To connect deeply with other believers in meaningful relationships.

Often many Christians can leave church on Sunday with a sense of longing when it comes to truly knowing Jesus, knowing other believers deeply, and truly being known themselves. This blog will discuss what is missing, and some ways to develop deep relationships.

Vulnerability: Opening the Heart to Others

Many churches offer regular small groups, but often these small groups can lack true vulnerability. In the Christian context, vulnerability is a reflection of our openness to others and, more importantly, to God and Christ. True depth in relationships begins with vulnerability. The Bible encourages believers to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), emphasizing the importance of sharing our struggles, fears, and joys with others. By allowing ourselves to be vulnerable before God and then before others, we create a space for genuine connections to flourish. This is all easier said than done. One of the hardest ways to be vulnerable is to actually talk about areas we are struggling with regard to sin and shortcomings. This doesn’t come easy, and often in small groups, the curriculum focuses on teaching rather than on discipleship. Unless one feels the freedom to confess sin and shortcomings, there will be a lack of transparency and therefore a lack of deep relationships.

The Importance of Life on Life Regular Meeting

Often the deepest relationships form when people are living life side by side and doing things together. It is not enough to just meet once a week with a small group for a study. It is so important to find ways to share other areas of life with the people we are trying to develop deep relationships with. Have you ever noticed why there is such a strong bond between teammates in sports – it is often because they are daily sharing the highs and lows of life’s moments with each other. Can this bond translate to the real world? Only if we are sharing our hearts and life’s moments together in an environment of Christlike love and truth.

Conclusion:

In a world where the superficial often prevails, Christians are called to go deeper in their relationships. By embracing vulnerability and engaging in discipleship, believers can build relationships that reflect the transformative power of Christ’s love. May these principles guide us as we strive for deeper connections within our Christian communities and beyond.

Further Resources:

Thank you for your interest in Thistlebend! We hope that we can serve you in a very practical way as you seek a deeper relationship with the Lord and with others. Would you like to grow in your relationship with the Lord and experience the joy and freedom that comes from a fully devoted walk with Him? We invite you to take a quick moment to visit the “Individual Women” or the “Small Groups” pages on our website. Thistlebend exists to provide biblical discipleship resources that encourage vulnerability with the Lord, heart-felt transparency with others, and genuine pursuit of authentic life change.

Introduction

In a world filled with distractions and challenges, individuals seeking a profound and transformative relationship with their faith often find solace and strength in the concept of deep discipleship. Deep discipleship goes beyond surface-level engagement with one’s faith and delves into the core of spiritual growth, fostering a connection that is both intimate and enduring. This journey is paved with essential elements such as small groups, mentorship, and a purposeful curriculum. This blog explores the significance of these components, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive study curriculum that includes accountability and the practice of confessing one’s sins. We’ll also shed light on Thistlebend Ministries’ women’s study curriculum, particularly the “Falling in Love Again with Your Lord” series.

The Power of Small Groups

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” – Matthew 18:20

Small groups form the backbone of deep discipleship, providing a space for individuals to connect, share, and grow together. In the context of faith, these groups create a sense of community and accountability, fostering an environment where members can openly discuss their struggles and victories. The intimacy of small groups enables individuals to build relationships that go beyond the surface, creating a supportive network for their spiritual journey.

Discipleship: Guiding the Way

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” – Proverbs 19:20

Thistlebend studies incorporate discipleship within large group, small group, and smaller “Bring the Truth to Life”* group formats. These work together to provide spiritual guidance and offer wisdom, encouragement, support, and accountability to those navigating their faith journey. This allows for a greater understanding of themselves, provides growth opportunities, and fosters a connection with God that transcends mere intellectual instruction.

Curriculum: A Blueprint for Growth

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105

An effective study curriculum acts as a blueprint for spiritual growth, guiding individuals through intentional and purposeful learning. A well-structured curriculum addresses various aspects of faith, incorporating elements like accountability and the practice of confessing one’s sins. Thistlebend Ministries’ “Falling in Love Again with Your Lord” series, based on Psalm 63, exemplifies a curriculum designed for deep discipleship.

Thistlebend Ministries: Nurturing Spiritual Thirst

Thistlebend Ministries understands the profound thirst individuals have for a deeper connection with their Lord. The “Falling in Love Again with Your Lord” series takes women on a transformative journey through twelve chapters, delivered monthly. Grounded in Psalm 63, this series focuses on entering into divine communion with the Lord and growing to love Him with heart, soul, mind, and strength each day. The testimonies of women from diverse backgrounds and churches attest to the radical heart and life transformation experienced through this Thistlebend Bible study.

Conclusion

Deep discipleship is not a solitary pursuit but a collective journey that thrives on community, discipleship, and purposeful curriculum. Small groups provide a supportive environment, encourage accountability, and offer guidance, and a comprehensive curriculum acts as a roadmap for growth. Thistlebend Ministries’ “Falling in Love Again with Your Lord” series exemplifies a curriculum that meets these criteria, facilitating radical heart and life transformation. As individuals embark on this journey of deep discipleship, they discover a thirst-quenching relationship with the Lord that surpasses the challenges of a dry and weary land.

*“Bring the Truth to Life” is an integral part of our studies and is described in the Welcome section of each study.

My favorite musical is Les Miserables. If you haven’t seen it, the musical follows the life of Jean Valjean, who transforms from a bitter, petty thief to a man who seeks redemption. In one scene, a man who closely resembles Valjean is about to be falsely imprisoned as Valjean, and Valjean has to make a choice: turn himself in, or let another man suffer in his place. Valjean delivers a short but beautiful song called, “Who Am I?’ during which he ponders who he is and what he will do. It’s a turning point for our hero.

Over the past few weeks, during our Heart of a Woman study, we have been looking at, identifying, and confronting the sin in our lives. This study is very illuminating. Like Valjean, we can all identify with having sinned and experiencing the consequences of sin. But we have also experienced God’s grace and goodness, and like Valjean, seek to walk in a way that is worthy of our Lord (Col 1:10 ESV).

During our last week, Laurie asked a series of questions at the end of our lecture:

· Who am I and Whose am I?

· What determines Who I am?

· When did I become who I am?

· Where am I today? Where am I in my walk with the Lord?

· Why does any of this matter (i.e. Bible Study, time with the Lord)?

· How can we do this, live the Christian life?

These are great questions to consider. I am journaling my way through them.

For now, however, I would like to focus on who am I and whose I am. I want to go through what God’s Word alone says about these questions, it’s encouraging for me and I pray it is for you too.

It’s very easy to think through things about myself, who I am and whose I am by personality characteristics or the roles I play in day to day life, but before I get caught up in my human thinking (wrong thinking), I must speak truth to myself. God’s Word tells me (this list is not exhaustive):

· I am a HIS child. (John 1:12)

· I am a friend of Jesus. “I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father” (John 15:15)

· I have been justified and redeemed. (Romans 3:24) “My old self was crucified with Christ, and I am no longer a slave to sin.” (Romans 6:6)

· I will not be condemned by God. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)

· I am free. “For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2), (Galatians 5:1)

· I am a fellow heir with Christ. “And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)—if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:17)

· I am a new creature in Christ. “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

· I have been made one with all who are in Christ Jesus. “…for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)

· I am blessed. “(God) has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3)

God Himself lovingly tells me—all believers—who we are. We may feel we are many things, but God Himself tells us the truth about who we are, and that is what matters.

Now, what does the Bible tell me about whose I am? I am the Lord’s. “…you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor 3:23). I am not my own. I was bought at a price by the Lord.

It’s hard to walk out these truths. How do we claim them as truth when our culture bombards us with messages that are hostile to God’s promises?

By FAITH. Faith is a gift, given to us by God, to help us live by His Truth and not be swayed by the world or the enemy. Faith is trusting in something we cannot see. Yet God makes Himself very real to believers. His Word reminds me again and again that I am His and He is working all things for good in my life (Romans 8:28 ESV).

May you reflect upon these beautiful Truths. When life circumstances cause you to reflect and turn inward, choose to believe that if you have placed your faith in Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are first and foremost a child of the Almighty God’s. Believing this promise puts everything into perspective.

Growing in Grace