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Past Retreat/Seminars

Review of Past Retreats

The little "thumbnail" sketches below are of retreats and workshops we have held. Other topics are available.


"Words, Words, Words" 

    Retreat Dining

    This retreat was more a one day seminar, so the topic was more condensed than what we have done at other retreats.

  • We began with Psalms 19. Reading several versions and comparing. We saw that the Word of God is Perfect in every way.
  • We saw that the "meditations of my heart" must first be pleasing, if the "words of my mouth" are to be the right words.
  • We looked at the confession of sinning in "Thought, Word and Deed. What we have done and what we have left undone." Sins of commission and sins of omission - that all come back to our priorities and decisions - the meditations of our heart.
  • We divided the group into six teams and gave them assignments to act out parts of 1 John 1. The teams did wonderfully. Though there was much laughter, there was real truths told.
  • The picture at the right was taken in the Dining Room. The food was great - the fellowship wonderful - all in all we had a great time.


"Making your way in the Word today ... "  (How to Study/Read the Bible)

Greg Howland teamed with us to address - 2 Timothy 4:3-4 -- "For the time will come when [people] will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." NIV

That scripture brings up some questions; among which are:

  • So ... how do you determine "sound doctrine"?
  • There's a lot of different Christian groups in the world, they all can't be "right" can they?
  • Is it possible for a Christian today to read the Bible and without direction determine what is "sound"?
  • How do you know that what the "teacher" is saying is really what the Bible teaches? They always sound like they know what they are talking about. How can you be sure?
  • Why are there so many "versions" or translations of the Bible in print? Which one the "the best?" How do I know which one to pick?

1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us: "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good .." NASU* That's what this retreat will be about .. learning how to "examine carefully."

As always, we had a wonderful time. We more or less structured our presentation around material found in a great little book:

"How to read the Bible for all it's Worth" by Fee and Stuart;
Complete book information
With additional information from a variety of books on problem solving, idea structuring and topical research.

We had reaffirmed in our minds that the three most important things to get right in Bible Study are: Context; Context and Context

Our special thanks to all the attendees. We put them on the spot of teaching themselves. We had them pick passages of scripture, then, as a whole group, we applied the "tools" we had been learning to see what that passage had to say to us. It was a time of insight and the old "Ah-Ha" experience for some things and a time of reaffirmation on other things.

* (NASU) New American Standard Bible, Updated


"God's Care"

This retreat was partially a "spin-off" of the another retreat which was about God's caring, but focused more on prayer. The premise being: "what about God's care without a specific prayer from us?"
So with that in mind our study started Friday night with a wonderful time of good friends, good food and wonderful fellowship.
Saturday morning Marlene started the teaching of "God's Care" with a session on God's attributes .. which then naturally leads to the fact that .. He cares for us!

Continuing that theme, Luckie taught on some of the names of God. God has revealed himself and his names either by telling a believer what that name is or because people have observed his activities in this world, and have assigned a name to him in response. In either case his love and care for this "world" are revealed.

Greg Howland took a session which encompassed the life of Elijah, and how God took care of him during his entire life. Greg did a wonderful job of tying his teaching into the overall theme, even though we had only given him a general idea of what we were going to be teaching.

As always, there was a lot to try to understand; a lot to take with us to ponder; but also a lot of good fun and laughter. Of course these are a natural result of bringing God's children together to study his word. It was a memorable experience.


"All God's children got Shoes" - - Discipleship 102

This was our second retreat on discipleship. The first was the "24/7 Disciple." This retreat expanded into the Spiritual Disciplines.

Being a two day retreat we knew we did not have time to even define all the disciplines, let alone teach on them. So Luckie took the disciplines of Bible Study; Worship; Prayer and Service. However, with the "forum style" teaching and all the discussion, we were only able to discuss Bible Study and Worship.

Also Marlene handed out assignments, in advance. One team was too take the Lessons of the Day, and blend them into a liturgical reading. Another was to combine or blend the Beatitudes with Moses' Song; the Magnificat and the Benedictus. Last but certainly not least another team was to combine or blend the Lord's Prayer with the 23rd Psalm. The results of this effort was simply outstanding.

In addition each of three groups gave a skit or presentation putting the Ten Commandments into a modern setting. This was a time of much laughter, but also being deeply moved by God's word. Our very special thanks to all the attendees -- you were great!


The 24/7 Disciple - - A seminar on Discipleship.

This was one of the best attended retreats we have held. Also, the one with the most "out of town" attendees. Farthest traveler came from up state New York .. the next a couple from Montana, and another couple from Colorado.

We began Friday night with a great time of fellowship and good food. Then Marlene gave an over-view of scriptures pertaining to people who had been disciples. This was to help get the theme started in our thinking and give a scriptural view.

Saturday we began with defining discipleship. We saw that it is not a new legalism (i.e. set of rules); it is not confined by denominations and you certainly cannot confine it to a "method" ... like "ten steps to discipleship."

So, what is discipleship? The best definition is this quote from Farrar:

"The disciple of Christ today may be described as "one who believes His doctrines, rests upon His sacrifice, imbibes His spirit, and imitates His example completely."

Our Retreat Project was to choose a Bible character from a list Marlene had prepared. Then research this character and how they had encountered Christ. On Saturday evening Marlene did a "person on the street" interview with each character represented to hear "the rest of the story" of their following Jesus after their encounter with Him. As always, we had a lot of laughs, but some very good and new insights into being Christ's disciples.


Prayer is "Risk-Key" business! - - A seminar on Prayer

The following is one attendee's summary of what they learned:

"Somehow, the good Lord meets us where we are, expanding our knowledge and helping us to grow individually where we need to! We've learned that one must have faith to pray, and that prayer is the key to increasing one's faith. Why? Our faith grows as we communicate with God. He loves us and longs to hear from us, not just asking for things or for help, but so He can be our trusted friend. We must honor God for who He is (adoration), thank Him for what He has done (thanksgiving) and ask Him what His will is for us, agreeing to do what He answers (submission). We also may and should ask for forgiveness, for renewal, for our needs and for the needs of others. God does answer prayer, even though the answer is not always "Yes" - often it is "Wait" and once in a while it is "No." The first step to prayer, though, is faith - acknowledging that God is there and opening the line of communication."

What is the risk? The risk is that the more you pray, the more you will want God to be a bigger part of your life, and the more you will want to serve Him. In other words, the risk is that your life will be enriched! Take the leap - jump in - the water is fine, and you'll have a great ride. Just keep your eyes on Jesus - remember - it is only when we look away that we begin to sink."

"The discussions were thought-provoking and it was interesting to learn that others were having many of the same struggles with prayer that I was. I came away full, encouraged and looking forward to the next retreat. I have much to digest, as the food for my soul was wonderful!"


What about "God's Care &Prayer"?

The questions posed to the Workshop were:

  •   Does prayer make any difference in God's care of the world.
  •   Does prayer make an objective (measurable) difference?
  •   Philosophically, is prayer a causal power within this physical creation?

We discovered that people who are wrestling with these questions are having problems with either one or both of two concepts.

  1. Either the modern idea that we live in a "closed system" .. or ..
  2. the concept of "the sovereignty of God."

We spent some time with both of these questions. The scripture describes a "transcendent God", one not of this creation. So this creation is not a closed system. We spent some time with God's sovereignty and free will and discovered God has allowed a "wideness" in His plans for us to decide many things.

"Bottom Line" we discovered that prayer is more about a "personal, intimate relationship" with God than about words, postures, routines or traditions.

The group teamed up to write a prayer for themselves. The result:

"Please hear me and hold me in your hand - let me feel your presence. I love you. Thank you for loving me. Have mercy on me. Thank you for providing everything I need. Forgive me ... Extend to me your grace. I need your guidance - and courage to follow you. You know the concerns of my heart ... and the needs of all. All glory, laud and honor are yours forever. Thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. - Amen! - "

We ended the session with a time of prayer and communion.

However, the group felt there was too much in the subject of prayer for a one day work shop, so we scheduled another retreat to discuss prayer. We scheduled for two and a half days so we would have more time to spend on this huge subject.

Other aspects of this subject are contained in additional teaching later.


Our God is an Awesome God!- or - "the attributes of God"

Attribute is defined as: "to consider as belonging to, as a quality or characteristic. A quality or characteristic that originates with, or is produced by" God.

Since one of God's attributes is being infinite, we certainly didn't cover everything -- but there was enough to conclude, "God is Awesome!"

We started by having everyone giving one word that completes the sentence "God is  fill in the blank ." Then we looked at the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed to see how these words compared to what we believe.
We then discussed three main attributes, with corollaries, and how these fit into God's character. God is:

  • Infinite -- without boundary or limit.
  • Transcendent -- exceeding and superior to everything, while being involved within the finite.
  • Immutable -- unchangeable and unchanging, while being responsive to prayer.
  • Immanent -- indwelling His creation and being personal to those that seek a relationship with Him.

We discovered that God has revealed Himself in a series of redemptive acts. These acts result in a self disclosure of God's character and priorities.
Teams were selected at random, and the "word list" was divided up. Each team and given a selection from the word list. They were to take the "words" and from them create a story, parable, song, poem, skit, monologue etc. and present this to the rest of the teams. Wonderful things occurred during these presentations.

While discussing the Infinite, Transcendent, and Immutable God, the following questions came up:

  1. Does prayer make an objective (measurable) difference?
  2. Is prayer a causal power within this physical creation?

We decided to look at those questions in the following retreat


"Tell me a story...."

Our first "student team taught" retreat Several teams were selected to "tell us a story." The stories had to be Bible oriented, but did not have to be a story from the Bible. The story could be in any format. The teams selected:

  • Role playing from the book "A Case For Christ."
  • The story of Abram &Sarai becoming Abraham &Sarah.
  • The story of Jacob and Esau.
  • The story of Joseph. From boy shepherd, to Governor of Egypt.

We held a critique after each story. The critique was a surprise to the teams, and there was apprehension at first. However, the critique opened avenues of questions and discussions that otherwise may have never been explored, about these stories and related subjects.

The "retreat project" was to retell the story of Jonah. Teams were picked by just counting off around the classroom. One team was to just look at Jonah's role; another the Ninivites role; and so on, including the fish and God. The pet name, for this project, became "laughing through Jonah..." as a whole range of emotions were experienced, from laughter, to tears as we realized afresh that God is merciful, and definitely in charge.

Sunday morning, was the story of Esther and Purim. Again, we saw God's provision, how through one individual He was able to save a nation.

What a wonderful time of sharing, study, laughter, tears and just generally enjoying being together in the presence of the Lord.


"Jesus Christ, Yesterday, Today and Forever"

Using the Nicene and the Apostle's Creeds as a framework, we looked at Jesus in four distinct -- unique, yet significant periods.

  • The Jesus prior to and during creation.
  • The Jesus of the Old Testament; both in prophecy and appearance.
  • The Jesus of Nazareth. The historical Jesus that walked this earth.
  • The Jesus which is coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

From the point of " seated at the right hand of God ... from thence He shall come...." we shifted to the Epistle to the Hebrews as our framework. There we saw Jesus in His present role, as our High Priest, Mediator and soon coming King.

As always, there was a great bunch of students -- great food -- and perfect weather. It could not have been a better time of rest and refreshing.


"Five P's in a Pod"

Luckie was the guest speaker at a Men's Prayer Breakfast sponsored by the Livermore Nazarene Church. The theme addressed how men could balance ministry to God with Family, Work, Recreation and many other priorities that invade a man's life.

Luke 9:18-26 was the theme scripture which defines the "Process" of being a disciple of Christ. The "P's" are questions which may help identify a person's ministry and included:

  • Priorities - what does take first place in your life?
  • Promises - what promises have you made, and to who?
  • Purpose - what is your purpose? How do you fit into the body of Christ?
  • Provision - what has He provided that will direct you in your service?
  • Perseverance - you understand, once called you are expected by the Lord to "hang in there" through everything.

Not only did we have a good time in God's Word, but the breakfast was great, and the fellowship was wonderful.


"Remodeling 101"

Based upon Psalms 51. Application of David's prayer with particular emphasis placed upon the words in verses 10 -- 12:

  • Create
  • Renew
  • Restore
  • Sustain.

We spent time reading this chapter using the structure of prayer contained in the acronym -- "ACTS." (i.e. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). Then we took the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11) and studied the comparison between the characteristics of a "Citizen of the Kingdom of God" and the situation in which David found himself.

There was lively discussion; times of reflection and many questions, both from the teachers and from the students.


"The Land of KnoW way Out"

Based of Hebrews 11, this Retreat was centered on Risk, Fear and Hope.

Those situations we all face where there appears to be "no way out" are described in scripture. The "heros" listed in Hebrews 11, through their faith came to "Know a way out" through God's grace, mercy and constant provision.

Real practical ways of hanging on when times get tough were discussed.


Practical Faith

Introduced by Hebrews 11:6 -- "... without faith it is impossible to please God ..."

Based on the epistles of First and Second Peter, this Retreat focused on the practical aspects of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Addressed were many aspects of having a personal faith; living out that faith in the day to day world; and how God provides strength and encouragement to the persons trusting Him.


Promises and Covenants

God has placed many of His promises in the form of a "contract" or covenant.

The phrases "God has spoken" and "God has promised" were studies in the light of the relationship He established with Israel, and further, wants to establish with us.

The themes of "dialogue" and "relationship" were analyzed as they apply to God's working among His people.

This Retreat took some of those promises and contracts and looked at them for content. We discovered what God has committed Himself to with respect to us. We also looked at what our part of the contract is -- and how we are to fulfill that.


"Jesus Said, What?..." (The Parables of Jesus)

Based on Matthew 13:34 "Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; He did not say anything to them without using a parable..."

If parables were that important to Jesus' ministry; shouldn't we understand them better?

Our question: "What do, Families; Crosses; Builders; Warrior Kings and Salt have in common?"

The answer: Jesus told a parable using each of these items. Generally, the parable starts: "The kingdom of heaven is like ...."

This Retreat looked at parables individually and as a collection. Why did the Gospel writers collect some parables together and keep others separate? How do parables compare with the full body of Jesus teaching?

Lessons of "heeding the call" -- "counting the cost" -- "attitude of the heart" -- "personal priorities" are all things we should see as significant today, just as Jesus did as He taught.


Email us if you would like to schedule a retreat or have questions about past retreats, seminars and workshops.