so i'm leading/speaking at a retreat in a couple weeks. and while i love coming up with things to share and talk about, i always struggle a bit on my own with enough creativity for the small group materials. i've got some questions and ideas down already, but i want to offer an opportunity for some collaboration.
below you will find the outlines for my talks: 3 talks on 'Gifts' -- a broad generalization, but mostly geared toward talking about what it means to discover one's unique gifts as given by God. each 'talk' is followed by a small group session to tease out the ideas. this will be a JUNIOR HIGH crowd -- so think like a junior high-er. so as far as small group stuff goes, questions are good, but relevant activities/projects/involvements are better. so put on your thinking caps and COLLABORATE.
--the theme is Gifts of the Spirit, and will involve helping the kids identify their own personal gifts. Too often kids spend time coveting, for lack of a better word, the gifts of others and not learning to identify and appreciate their own gifts.
--we are created unique and wonderful beings as children of God. part of our journey is discovering our gifts - and we achieve this through determining our strengths, as well as the things that we might not be very good at. God desires us to use our gifts to build His Kingdom -- we'll take a look at what it means to discern our gifts, as well as what it means to apply those gifts to God's Kingdom.
A Starting Point. Who we are, where we’re at.
--> you are uniquely created out of God’s unending love and creativity.
John 3:16, Ephesians 1:7
-->there is a plan – a greater purpose/mission/joy – THY KINGDOM COME ON EARTH. and we are invited to be a part of that. Ephesians 2:10, Rev 1:6
-->it involves EACH of our unique selves – which implies that we need to learn our self and what we have to offer. 1 Cor 12, Romans 12:6-8
-->gifts vs. talents/abilities. gifts as the discovery of your nature – how you are programmed.
--> Holy Spirit: Enabling the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is believed to dwell in the individual believers and enable them to live a Godly, righteous and faithful life.
--> The Matrix – there is a deep identity below the surface. you can take the blue pill and stay on the surface of things and seek a life full of the things the world offers. you can take the red pill and dive into who you are – who God created you to be – and what gifts you have to offer in the building of the Kingdom.
-->involves asking yourself the question: who or what is at the center of your life?
-->there are pressures and presumptions that will try to dictate how your life unfolds and what ‘gifts’ you have to offer: your choice is to discover your deeper self and what you have to offer in joy to the world and to the building of God’s Kingdom.
-->movie clip illustration: October Sky
-->introduce Apostle Paul – he grew up a roman citizen, and was ‘shaped’ by that. with his natural gift of leadership, he assumed a position because of what he knew as a Roman: he became a lead persecutor of christians. and he was GOOD at it.
The Journey. God’s role – life as opportunity and opportunity to explore self.
-->once we have begun something, we are on a journey. our life is thus a journey.
-->one of the greatest things we can offer back to God is to explore ourselves, learn who we are, and apply that to living out the Kingdom. 2Timothy 1:7, Ephesians 4:17f
--> analogy: marble-carving. if we are created unique beings, w/ purpose, then we are beautiful sculpture waiting to be revealed. in marble carving, the carver takes great care to chip away all that is meaningless, ugly, and unnecessary. will we try to ‘reveal’ ourselves? or will we allow the carver to slowly and deliberately reveal who we are and what gifts we have to offer?
-->it takes a willingness to explore deeper – to put/acknowledge something or someone else at the center. a willingness to be honest, humble. this takes many years, and many difficult experiences. John 15
--> we all experience envy of what others have or are able to do. outline envy’s qualities/effects.
--> one of the great challenges in discovering who we are as a unique child of God is to love ourselves for who we are, as we are, EVEN for the gifts/abilities that we don’t have.
-->one of the keys here is to pull close to God: to listen, think, ask questions – all in humility. Matthew 5:14f
-->movie clip illustration: Unbreakable
-->continue with the character of Paul. in his life journey and discovery of his gifts, he was becoming the best leading the persecution and murder of Christians. then God decides it’s time to regain control of the piece of marble known as Paul – and we know this as Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus. from then on, Paul’s gift of leadership – which he already knew about and had been developing – was re-oriented toward where it could be best applied. paul had taken control of his marble-carving, and it was looking ugly.
The Mission. So what? Building the Kingdom with what we’ve been given.
-->construction crew analogy: the various roles that are necessary from start to finish on a building project: surveyors, architects, inspectors, builders, finish crew, decorator, etc. each requires unique gifts and abilities.
-->the world needs EVERYthing. it would be overwhelming to try to figure out what to offer based on what is needed. like a SINGLE person trying to do everything necessary for construction. this is further evidence for discovering our own gifts and what we have to offer. 1Cor 12 – unique for a purpose ... a mission. Romans 8:28
--> find your gifts, abilities, limits, and live it. BUECHNER quote: The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.
--“American Dream” vs. God’s call to Kingdom building: conflicting missions.
-->movie clip illustration: Unbreakable
-->Paul. arguably the most notable person we know of to advance God’s Kingdom thru the building of the church. and he turned his gift of leadership toward this, from something that was unspeakable. he had discovered a gift, and had steered hit toward a righteous, Godly purpose. and THRIVED. i can’t imagine where the Church would be today if he hadn’t.
-->called as ambassadors: 2 Cor 5:17-20, with what we have.