Gather the Facts Step Two of Sacred Pace, Terry Looper

“Stand silent! Know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation in the world!” (Psalm 46:10, The Living Bible)

Blind Spots and Biases

[the following is an excerpt from "Sacred Pace", pg. 78-79]

To receive God's answer, you have to internalize the truth. I've found that thinking out loud with people I trust removes some of my filters so that I hear the truth more accurately. So do prayers for discernment and time spent in God's Word. All of these things force me to ask myself: "Is this my story, or a fact?". Everybody likes their story; not everybody likes the facts. The upside is that, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, this step can do so much to move you closer to God's will. To gather the facts and prayerfully, properly apply the ones that He reveals as relevant can draw you out of denial, remove your blinders, and shed light on details you've never noticed before. It brings you to the truth of a situation, clarifying which data is worth considering and allowing you to see what you need to see. It also helps you sort through your feelings - what's going on within you - so you can get out of your own way. Anytime you can substitute actual facts for perceived facts you're not only moving in a good direction, you're easing the emotion that almost always accompanies our prejudices. The truth will set you free, not your opinions. But you really, really have to want God's answer.

Discussion Questions

Read the following scripture passages and then answer the questions below.

"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Psalm 119:11, NIV)

"The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out." (Proverbs 18:15, NIV)

"Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions." (Proverbs 18:2, NIV)

  1. What are the requirements for a relationship of trust? How are they achieved?
  2. What is the difference between "internalizing Truth" and "loving my story"?
  3. Why does our story tend to veer away from the facts? What are some good questions to ask ourselves to avoid clouding the truth?
  4. In what ways are our feelings helpful during decision making? In what ways are our feelings a hinderance?

Seeking Counsel

[the following is an excerpt from "Sacred Pace", pg. 80-82]

Wise counsel may come to you any moment - not just from people you seek out but from a sermon you hear, a scripture passage you read, the lyrics of a song on the radio, or an experience someone casually shares at work. The Lord may use the writings or podcasts of pastors, authors, and Bible teachers as well (their messages have certainly had an enormous impact on me). But nothing can substitute for those face-to-face or phone-to-phone conversations with godly friends or mentors who know your tendencies and temptations, and who can call out your gifts and passions...Only God knows what "data" is needed for discerning His will. That's why I take all legitimate information to my friend Jesus in prayer and then wait on Him: given time, He shows me which is which - what I should keep and what isn't relevant in my current situation.

Discussion Questions

Read the following scripture passages and then answer the questions below.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." (James 1:5, NIV)

"To answer before listening—that is folly and shame." (Proverbs 18:13, NIV)

"You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you." (Psalm 63:1-3, NIV)

  1. Describe a time that you've gained wise counsel from scripture, song lyrics or an experience someone shared with you.
  2. Why does God use other people to help guide our decision-making process? Are we capable of making excellent decisions without the input of others?
  3. What makes prayer such a valued aspect of this part of the process?

The Things That Surface

[the following is an excerpt from "Sacred Pace", pg. 83-85]

What's interesting about a pro-con list is that if you will reflect for five or ten minutes after completing it, your key issues will usually bubble up - the one or two items that you really need to flush out and resolve. Sometimes you'll discover that you need more information in a particular area, and that is helpful too. Or, as in this instance, as soon as I had the potentially relevant facts - the true truths - laid out in front of me, the Holy Spirit started to prioritize them. While listing pros and cons is beneficial, author Chris Tiegreen recommends listing your motivations. "Pros and cons are about outcomes; but since we can't know the future, they are only guesses. Motives are about perspective; they identify the center of our lives. " He explains, "Have you noticed that those who make bad decisions are usually acting out of extreme self-interest? A focus on self leads to devastating shortsightedness and has evil, destructive consequences. A focus on God - His character, His ways, His eternal nature - leads people to wisdom." In other words, if a motive is centered on ourselves, we can rule it out, knowing that it is not from God. If a motive centers on God, it is wisdom and should be given weight as we prayerfully consider the data.

Discussion Questions

Read the following scripture passages and then answer the questions below.

"Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment." (Proverbs 4:6-7, NIV)

"For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable." (Hebrews 4:12-13, NIV)

"Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." (Psalm 119:33-37, NIV)

  1. Describe a time that a Pros-Cons list has been beneficial in your life.
  2. What steps are required to achieve an accurate list of motivations?
  3. How might a motivation be centered on God but also have personal benefit?
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