ADVENT MESSAGE SERIES – SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS – WEEK 1 – SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS 1. What is your impression of a prophet? What thoughts or images come to mind? 2. What are your thoughts on being a prophet? 3. What prevents you from hearing God’s voice? 4. When have you heard clearly from God? What were the circumstances? 5. What is your pain point right now? What secrets do you want to hear from God so he can act in your sphere of influence? SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS – WEEK 2 – SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS Challenge At the end of this week’s meeting, we would like you to participate, in person or in zoom, in a 10-minute exercise to take a time out to be silent and still. Allow 15 minutes so you can share after the silence. We, as Christ followers, are prophets, Ambassadors of the King of Kings. Let’s make sure we are hearing from God and not just the ways of the world. Different than a thought – a whisper that is undeniably from God. 1. Are you a good secret keeper? 2. God has secrets for you…. He hides these secrets FOR you not FROM you. Share what that means to you. 3. God reveals His truths to us through His Word, prayer and other believers. Of the three, which one has been the easiest for you to hear from God? 4. What are some practical ways you can take TIME OUT to hear God whispering to you? Silent Challenge The leader will read Psalm 46:10 a few times during the last 10 minutes. After the time of silence, share your impressions with each other. SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS – WEEK 3 – SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS AND PRAYER EXERCISE Read Joel 2:28 Read 1 Corinthians 14:1-41. Who can prophesy and how does it build up the church?Prophetic Activation exercise For this exercise, leaders assign pairs on Zoom meetings or direct in-person group to quickly form pairs. You’re going to practice hearing God speak and give a prophetic word Rule: the words spoken must be encouraging, edifying or comforting Often the first quick thought that comes is from Jesus, so pay attention to that first fleeting thought, and test it against the Rule, if it didn’t pass, ask again and wait. God can speak through thoughts, images, scripture, music, dreams, nature, etc.; you are learning to “hear” 1. Group Leader begin like this:“Holy Spirit, we welcome you in our hearts. Help us to hear Jesus clearly. Teach us how to hear Him. Help us to prophesy and speak your word to the world. In Jesus’ Name. Amen”2. Tell everyone we will begin with quiet and ask people to close their eyes and try to focus on an image of Jesus in their mind.3. Tell each person to ask Jesus in their mind if their partner was a Bible Character who would they be. Wait about 30 seconds for an answer. Then ask “why, or, what does it mean?” Wait another 30 seconds for an answer. Then the partners share their answer with each other (Zoom Partners could chat each other directly). The partner can then comment if it applies to them or not.4. Ask for volunteers to share their experience. Sometimes the meaning of the prophetic word will not be obvious right away. It’s something we can write down and pray over and let the Holy Spirit reveal if and how it applies to us.Remember God wants to speak through us, to reach people’s hearts. It’s ok if someone didn’t hear or misheard, our Father is so pleased we are trying. This will take practice, patience and humility. You’re doing something new and the more we try the more Holy Spirit will teach us!If there is time you can switch partners and ask a different question: If ___ were an animal/vehicle/movie character what would they be? PAST MESSAGE SERIES We grow not only by the commitments we make but those that we fulfill. Committing to a marriage, a job, or a friendship allows us to grow personally. Committing to learning a foreign language, taking a dance class, or mastering martial arts, and then fulfilling this commitment help us to grow as well. Likewise, we come to mature as Christians, in Christ-likeness by the faith commitments we make and keep. In this series, we will look at the power of this commitment and the steps we invite people to commit to in our church community. Commit to a life-long journey of growth. You can’t be committed to everything, be committed to the right things. Fr. Carl’s Message for Week 1 – Staying Power SMALL GROUPS Week One – Staying Power 1. What is your biggest challenge or obstacle with prayer?2. What has been most effective in helping you make prayer a priority in your life?3. “We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anythingelse but beginners all our lives.” What are your thoughts about this quote?4. If you could give one or two pieces of advice about prayer, what would you say?5. When have you seen prayer make an impact in your life? Where have you seen prayer make animpact on your world?6. What is your prayer plan? How do you pray? Scripture/Quotes:“We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anythingelse but beginners all our life.” Thomas Merton “Nothing can cure our sick world except saints, and saints are only made by prayer” Peter Kreeft Fr. Carl’s Message Week Two – Staying Power SMALL GROUPS WEEK TWO – Staying Power What is the biggest obstacle that keeps you from sharing your faith with others?2. Do you agree that sharing your faith, will grow your faith? Why or why not?3. A few different ideas were given for how to reach outsiders. Which steps are you most likely to take?4. Who are the people that God has placed into your life, so that they may be brought into arelationship with God?5. Why is the Gospel good news and worth sharing?6. Have you ever had the experience of leading someone to faith or seeing someone far from Godcome to know God? What happened in that experience? Scripture/Quotes:For missionary activity renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others! It is in commitment to the Church’s universal mission that the new evangelization of Christian people will find inspiration and support. Pope St. John Paul II Fr. Carl’s Message – Week 3 Staying Power SMALL GROUPS Week Four – Staying PowerWhat do you think of when you hear the word “engage”? What does it mean to you?What can our group do to deepen our engagement and commitment to one another?Of the obstacles mentioned, which are the biggest for you? Which ones are the biggest for thegroup? What helps you keep your commitment to this group?Read aloud Hebrews 10:24-25. Where are you feeling discouraged in your life? Where do you needencouragement from this group?What are your thoughts on the analogy of a small group being like a retirement plan?Scripture/QuotesLet us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; andlet us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.Hebrews 10:23-24Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good words, not neglecting to meet together,as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawingnearer.Hebrews 10:24-25Two is better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil; If they fall one will lift up hisfellow, but woe to him who is alone when he falls, he has not another to lift him up.Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Fr. Carl’s Message – Week 4 Staying Power Small Group Week Four – Staying Power Read aloud Philippians 2:5-7. Have you ever considered serving as beneath you? How do theseverses challenge us to think of serving?Have you ever had the experience of the Holy Spirit using you to serve someone else? What wasthat experience like?What is the biggest obstacle that keeps you from serving?Do you agree that serving in the Church is vital to spiritual growth? Why or why not?What is your next step in serving in ministry or missions?What tests have you experienced with serving? Have you been able to over come them? If so, how? Scripture/Quotes:“By coming as a servant, Jesus was not disguising who God is, but revealing who God is.”-John OrtbergHave this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form ofGod, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking theform of a servant […] Philippians 2:5-7But grace was given to each of us, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:7And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastorsand teachers. Ephesians 4:11To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:12Until we all attain to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13 PAST MESSAGE SERIES Over the last several years, many of our relationships have changed. We learned brand new ways of connecting with people on Zoom calls and other digital communication platforms. In-person gatherings look different or may have disappeared altogether. All of these changes can create a strain on our relationships. God’s word gives us unchanging wisdom on how to approach and interact with people successfully, no matter where we meet them. Through this series we will look at some biblical principles we can apply to succeed in all of our relationships. The message will be given by Fr. Carl at the 10:00 a.m. Mass each week. This page will have the small group video and the questions AND if available, Fr. Carl’s message. Fr. Carl’s message will also be posted on our Messages and Homilies page each Monday. You can also watch the repeat of the 10:00 a.m. Mass on our YouTube channel, Ascension Boca Fl. Fr. Carl – Week 5 Message Week 5 Small Group Video and Discussion Questions DISCUSSION QUESTIONS – WEEK FIVEGayle Kelly – Invest and Invite Read aloud: “Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as manyas you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom theyfound, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.” Matthew22:9-10 ESV What makes attending a wedding special to you? Who do the servants represent in the parable in Matthew 22:9-10? Share a time when you experienced God inviting you into a relationship with Him. Wasthere a specific person who invited you into a relationship with God? Have you accepted, rejected or neglected God’s invitation to you? Who is God calling you to invite?SCRIPTURE“Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children ofman.” Psalm 66:5 Fr. Carl – Week 4 Message at Mass DISCUSSION QUESTIONS – WEEK FOURKelly Lippenholz – Anxiety Tell about a time in the past or recently when a relationship caused you anxiety orstress. What do you do in the face of a stressful relationship – withdraw, lean in or break up? The scripture from 2 Timothy is a tough one to hear. Read it again. How do you reactto people with these behaviors? How can you change your mindset on how to react tothem? Surrendering your anxiety to God means that we would have total trust and faith in himfor a stressful relationship. What might it take for you to surrender your anxiety to God? SCRIPTUREPeople will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous,without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited,lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—10You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith,patience, love, endurance, 11persecutions, sufferings…2 Timothy 3:2-5 Fr. Carl’s Message for Week 3 REALIGN WEEK 3 – SMALL GROUP VIDEO AND DISCUSSION QUESTIONS Week 3 Discussion Questions Did your mom or dad have a favorite saying they always shared to guide you? Paul said: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as ChristJesus”. Jesus came to serve. He serves like a servant serves their master. What wouldthat look like in your home or at your place of work? What do you wish you could do for all people? How can you do it for one? In what ways do you feel you need to be served right now? How could you translatethat to serve others? What do you find challenging about our call to value others before ourselves? SCRIPTUREPhilippians 2, Paul says Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not lookingto your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.Paul continues,In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature[a] God,did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;7rather, he made himself nothingby taking the very nature[b] of a servant,being made in human likeness.8And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himselfby becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Week 2 – Small Group Video and Questions DISCUSSION QUESTIONS – WEEK TWOGenerosity Recall a time when your parents were unfair to you. Now recall a time when you feltthat God was unfair to you or to someone you know. Our definition of fairness often relates to what we have compared to someone else orour circumstances compared to someone else’s. In the parable of the workers in thevineyard, it is not fair that the workers who only spend one hour in the vineyard werepaid the same wage as those who worked all day. Tell about a time when you weregiven extravagant generosity. Where are you feeling the most unfairness in your life? How can you counteract your experience of unfairness with generosity?SCRIPTURE9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received adenarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more.But each one of them also received a denarius.11 When they received it, they began togrumble against the landowner.12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of thework and the heat of the day.’ Matthew 20: 9-1213 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agreeto work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hiredlast the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my ownmoney? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ Matthew 20: 13-1516 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20: 16 REALIGN – WEEK 1 MESSAGE FROM FR. CARL, SMALL GROUP VIDEO AND QUESTIONS FR. CARL’S MESSAGE SMALL GROUP VIDEO AND DISCUSSION QUESTIONS – WEEK ONE On a scale of 1-5, how stressed are you feeling today? Why do you feel that way? What in this season tends to make you angry? What does it mean to you to be angry but not sin? How can we keep Christ’s forgiveness front and center in our relationship with others? Who do you need to forgive?SCRIPTURETherefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we aremembers of one another. Ephesians 5:25Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger; and do not leave room forthe devil. Ephesians 5:26-27No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needededification, that it may impart grace to those who hear. Ephesians 5:29All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along withmalice. Ephesians 5:3 Past Message Series Confessions of a Control Freak Week 1 What are your initial thoughts about the “Confessions of a Control Freak” series? Are you already aware of your tendency to be controlling in certain areas or is it astretch for you to believe that you might be a control freak? There is definitely an upside to controlling some things in life. What are the prosand cons of being a control freak? Putting yourself in the shoes of Peter, what do you think it would be like for Peterto enter the house of a Gentile when all his life he had been taught not to? Doyou think this series might stretch you to do something you’ve never donebefore? What would you like to get out of this series? Write it down. There is typically acost or need to give up something in order to gain something else. How can your group be praying for you to grow in this area? Confessions of a Control Freak Week 2 What are some classic characteristics of a “control freak” as it relates to tasks? Have you been a control freak in any task or project recently? How does it feel to be working alongside a control freak? Describe the balance of accomplishing a task and not controlling it. What does Jesus mean in Mark 10:43a “But it shall not be so among you.” How does surrender to God happen when trying to see a project through? Share your thoughts on: “But whoever would be great among you must be yourservant…” Mark 10:43b Describe a time when you surrendered a task to God. Confessions of a Control Freak Week 3 Do you consider yourself to be a control freak when it comes to what others think ofyou? On a scale from 1-10, how tightly are you holding on to your image? We all want to be liked, to be well thought-of, to be popular with people that we love(and maybe some that we don’t). Name a few ways that you attempt to control yourimage or control what others think of you. In what area of your life are you most tempted to try to control what others think? Is ita social circle? Work? Around other parents or grandparents? Why? In the message, Kelly mentioned that controlling our image comes down to twothings – fear and pride. What are you afraid of when it come to your popularity? Whatis the biggest source of pride in your life? Read Mark 13:13. Tell about a time you felt hated because of your faith in JesusChrist. What do you think about the idea that a true Christian cannot be popular? Read James 4:4. How does our friendship with the world put us in danger with ourfaith? Confessions of a Control Freak Week 4 Would you describe yourself as a person who controls others or do you tend to becontrolled? How did the religious leaders try to control people in the Old Testament? Take a look at the 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy 5:6-21, which commandmentsrefer to our relationship with God, and which to one another? What is the greatest commandment? Deuteronomy 6:1-9 How can ‘You love your neighbor as yourself’? Do you believe God has a unique plan for you, that is different than anyone else?Why or why not? What does it mean to surrender a relationship to God? How do you do it and notcontrol it? Is there a relationship you need to surrender to God? If you’re comfortable, sharewho and take time to pray as a group. Confessions of a Control Freak Week Five On a scale of 1-5, how much are you a control freak about money? One means it isnot a problem at all and 5 means you are a total control freak. Why do you answer asyou do? Has there ever been a time where you felt powerless because you didn’t haveenough money? When was that? How does that impact your attitude towards moneynow? When do you find it easy to give? When do you find it to be a challenge? How does giving money to God show our faith and trust in him? When have you given money away and been glad you did? How do you review your giving? Why does Jesus praise the widow for her giving? What does that teach us about howhe wants us to give? Confessions of a Control Freak Week Six What environments, programs or habits have helped you grow closer to Jesus? What areas of your life do you find it easy to trust Jesus with? What areas do youstruggle with? When would you say your faith in Jesus became personal and your own? Who of your family, friends, and co-workers needs a relationship with Jesus? How areyou investing in them right now? What are your thoughts on Wow 1? What can you do when you come to Mass in yourministry to make Wow 1 a reality? Of the goals mentioned in the video, which ones most excite you or interest you? In what areas of your life do you feel like you have enough or are doing enough? Whydo you believe those areas are in good shape? Is there an area or areas of your life where you don’t feel like you have enough, or youare doing enough? If so, what are they? If not tell, the rest of us your secret. Where do you feel the most pressure from others to have or do enough? Where do youfeel the most internal pressure to have or do enough? Read aloud. 1 Kings 19:11-12. Where do you go to hear the still, small voice of God?What do you do to position yourself to hear from God? As we begin this series, are there any hopes or expectations you have for the series?What do you hope to get out of it? Week Two If enough isn’t our goal in life, why do we so often make it our goal or focus? What does following Jesus look like to you? If someone asked you how do you followJesus, what would you say? Would you describe your relationship with Jesus as a personal one? If so, what makes itpersonal? Psalm 23 speaks of “paths of righteousness.” How does this help free us fromperfectionism or thinking that we have to follow perfectly? Read aloud Psalm 23:5. What images come to your mind as you read that verse? What is the promise for you personally? Week Three On a scale of 1-5, how difficult do you find it to ask God for help? 1 means you find iteasy to ask for help. 5 means it is difficult for you. Have you ever asked for help and been rejected or told, no? How does this impact ourability or desire to ask for help? Where is there not enough of something in your life? Where are you struggling to haveenough, do enough or be enough? What do need to ask God to provide for you? Dallas Willard writes, “God does not give us what we need without being asked.” Whatis your reaction to that statement? When have you asked God for something, and he gave it to you? When have you asked,and he didn’t? How have you interpreted why God provided in one case and did notprovide in the other? Week Four Do you resonate with the good deeds verse bad deeds mentality? Why or why not? Who do you identify with in Luke 18, the religious leader or tax collector? Why? Who are you tempted to compare yourself to? What affect does comparison have onus? Why is Jesus and living in him enough for God? How does believing this help us get ridof the concern of being “good enough” for God? What is God’s position? What is man’s condition? What is God’s provision? Week Five On a scale of 1-5, how difficult do you find it to ask others for help? 1 means you find iteasy to ask for help. 5 means it is really difficult for you. Is there an area of your life where you feel like Elijah that you are overwhelmed andbattling all on your own? Work? Family? Finances? Another Area? Who are the people God has already put around you that help you? If you don’t knowwho can help you, have you prayed and asked God to send people to help you? Where do you feel like you don’t have enough knowledge or resources? How can thisgroup help you? Immediately following a great victory, Elijah became depressed because he worehimself out and shut others out, which of these two are you more likely to do? As we wrap up, what has been your biggest insight or lesson you have learned fromthis series.