"Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do ALL to the glory of God."
I Corinthians 10:31
"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works."
A few months ago our church's "Marriage Mentors" hosted a date night where they showed a movie I had never heard of or seen before - The Ultimate Gift. Truly, it was one of the best movies I have perhaps ever seen. Although not overtly "Christian" the overtones of how God wants us to live our lives were evident and applicable for anyone looking for them. The movie has a star-studded cast from James Garner to Bill Cobbs and Abigail Breslin. When you watch it, you will laugh, probably cry, and if you ask God to soften your heart, you will be moved to action.
Last weekend while strolling down the Sam's Club DVD section, I noticed it was for sale - for only $4.98 - what a bargain! On New Year's Eve, we watched it as a family, and I think even Frank had a little tear rolling down his face. Me, well, even though I knew what was going to happen, the floodgates were open. We finished the movie around 9:00 PM on New Years Eve.
Perhaps it was the emotional effect of watching it with my children. Perhaps it was Jacob saying, "This is the best movie I have ever seen." (What? Better than Captain America or Percy Jackson and The Lightening Thief?) Maybe it was Amber giving a thumbs-up at our movie selection and saying it was a home run. Maybe it was not having a dry eye in the entire room. Maybe it was the pending new year and wanting to do a family project that would draw us all closer together and closer to God. It was probably a combination of all these things, and suffice it to say my mind was spinning. The emotional response within me from the movie was strong, and I wanted to do something more.
But what? The website for the movie (www.TheUltimateGift.com) has products you can purchase for discussion and action, but if you know me, I don't like to purchase something and do what someone else planned out. No, I wanted to try to find ways to focus on the 12 main points of this movie over the next year and let God lead how that looked and panned out in our lives. I thought about it the rest of the night as we brought in the new year. I think I dreamed about it throughout the night. Then I woke up at 4 AM on New Years Day still dreaming and scheming of how our family can incorporate the 12 themes (called "gifts") of the movie into our daily lives in 2013. Now, these "gifts" are things that we have already been teaching our children. We have tried to raise them with these very same values their whole lives and watching the movie didn't give me a new "parenting revelation." My drive for action after watching the movie was wanting to do something intentional and impactful - something my kids will long remember after I am gone. A challenge.
As Frank snored next to me, I tried to patiently wait for him to wake up so we could discuss my plan of action. If you know me, you will also know when I get something in my mind that I believe very strongly about, there's usually no stopping me. Frank figured that out a long time ago. (He's pretty smart, that Frank!) So when he woke up, I bombarded him with my plan for the family in 2013 and asked him to support my wishes and lead us as a family in this direction. It went something like this:
1. There are "12 Gifts" highlighted in the movie. Can we focus on one of those gifts every month as a family?
2. As a family, can we learn a coordinating Bible verse that would apply to the gift we are focusing on for the month?
3. Can we document what we've done, either in written or picture form so that at the end of the year, I can make a photobook journal of our "2013 Ultimate Gift Challenge"?
Although I must say Frank wasn't completely on board right away, because as I said, the values of the movie are things we've always tried to instill in our children and be present in our family. But I think he could see the passion in my eyes, and he agreed. I then talked about my plan with Jacob and Amber. I wanted to have their buy-in. If it's a project that mom comes up with, then that's all it is - mom's project. But if it's a family project, then that's different. It unifies us. Both Amber and Jacob readily agreed, and when that happened, I knew this was from God and not just me scheming.
So there you have it. It's pretty simple, really. Our family will do "The Ultimate Gift Challenge" in 2013. If I'm ever stuck for ideas, I can turn to the movie's website for help, but I want God to lead us on this one, not a marketing person. The more I've prayed about it and thought about it, I do believe this is what He wants us to do this year.
I Corinthians 10:31 says "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do ALL to the glory of God." I want to honor God in this "Ultimate Gift Challenge" and I want to invite you to join me. I will blog once a month about what we did as a family and how God used it in our lives. Please pray about joining me. Hebrews 10:24 says "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works." (NLT) This is a perfect way to start out the new year and practically live that verse out.
Will you join me? I created a category on this blog for "The Ultimate Gift Challenge" where I will make sure any posts related to it appear. It doesn't matter if you are married or single. Have kids in the house or don't have any. We can do this together. If you haven't seen the movie, go rent it. Scratch that - go buy it. Once you've seen it once, you'll want to watch it again. If you're in the Dallas, TX area, I can host a "watch night." Contact me to let me know if you're interested. But the important thing is, we can do this together and spur one another to love and good works.
Who is in?
--- Beth Banfill