Ministry and Media
group magazine: November-December, 2004
by Bryan Belknap
Music: Tim McGraw
SONG: “Drugs or Jesus” (from Live Like You Were Dying)
THEME: Everyone looks for meaning in life, but not always in the right place.
BACKGROUND: Tim McGraw hopes to spur his listeners on to better living with this collection of introspective country ballads about life, love, and loss. He takes plenty of time away from love songs to discuss human nature (“Everybody Hates Me,” “Can’t Tell Me Nothin’ “) or offer inspirational words of encouragement (“Live Like You Were Dying,” “We Carry On”). Several cuts also tackle biblical topics, including the nature of sin (“Walk Like a Man”), mortification (“Kill Myself”), and man’s inherent need for God (“Drugs or Jesus”). The only “dogs” come from the soulless honky-tonk of “How Bad Do You Want It” and the groan-worthy puns of “Back When.” Live Like You Were Dying is filled with hope and inspiration, and it will undoubtedly extend McGraw’s reign at the top of the charts.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Ask: Where else besides drugs and money do people turn to try to give their lives meaning? Why do people get sidetracked with things that don’t really satisfy their souls’ desire instead of seeking the true meaning of life? What would you say is the true meaning of life? Read aloud Ecclesiastes 3:10-11. Ask: Why does everyone have a desire for meaning inside him- or herself? Why doesn’t God make the answer clearer to everyone? Will all those who sincerely seek the true meaning of life find it? Why or why not?
SONG: “Diverse City” (from Welcome to Diverse City)
THEME: The people of God form a welcoming, multicultural, multiethnic “city.”
BACKGROUND: TobyMac fills this diverse disc with excellent production and surrounds himself with superior
talent on songs that run the gamut of genres. Nothing sounds like a knockoff, though, as he touches on disco, funk, reggae, and rock with songs ready-made for mainstream radio. Party anthems such as “Diverse City,” “Getaway Car,” and “Ill-M-I” burst out of the speakers with unbelievable joy, certain to move listeners, body and soul. TobyMac also highlights spiritual and social issues, such as busyness, racism, eternal life, and the Holy Spirit. Welcome to Diverse City will have fans dancing nonstop and leaping for “play” every time the CD ends.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Ask: Do you think heaven will be like a big party? Why or why not? Do you think the church can ever be united here on earth? Why or why not? Read aloud Psalm 133. Ask: What specific issues get in the way of Christian unity? Is unity only possible when everyone shares the same opinions? Why or why not? What would have to change for our youth ministry to become more unified?
Movie: I Am David (PG)
David (Ben Tibber) escapes a communist concentration camp with the help of Johannes (James Caviezel). With only a compass, a piece of bread, and a sealed letter, David must trek across the European countryside to safety in Denmark. This riveting film depicts a physical and spiritual journey akin to Cold Mountain but with immense hope and family-friendliness. Wonderful performances, an incredible depth of humanity, and a universal message make I Am David a rare family film that holds immense artistic and thematic weight.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Ask: Why didn’t David trust anyone? Do you find it easy to trust most people? Why or why not? How do you decide whether or not to trust someone? When have you been hurt by someone you trusted? What did you learn from that experience? Read aloud Proverbs 3:5-8. Ask: In what area of life is it most difficult for you to trust God? What’s blocking you from trusting God more deeply? from becoming more trusting of other people?
Video: Secret Window (PG-13)
SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 27:4
CLIP LOCATION: 30:00 through 31:00* (DVD
SYNOPSIS: Mort cruises past his former house and then parks his car, seething with jealousy as he watches his ex-wife and her new boyfriend leave for the evening.
GOSPEL FILTER: Jealousy is a devious emotion that can silently seep into every fiber of our being, provoking us to rage or bitterness. Discuss jealousy with your young people so they can learn how to identify it and how to get rid of it before it grows out of control.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Ask: Why are people susceptible to feelings of jealousy in relationships? What underlying feelings are at the root of jealousy? What do you think is the best way to deal with strong feelings of jealousy? Read aloud Proverbs 27:4. Ask: Why does jealousy tend to sneak up on a person? What attitudes could help you purge jealousy from your life?
Starsky & Hutch (PG-13)
SCRIPTURE: Luke 22:54-62
CLIP LOCATION: 1:02:30 through 1:04:00* (DVD chapter 21)
SYNOPSIS: Starsky and Hutch arrest Feldman in the middle of his daughter’s bat mitzvah, accusing him of dealing drugs. They drag him out to the garage, where they expect to find a stash of cocaine. With everyone watching, Starsky shoots off the lock to reveal...a pony, which keels over dead.
GOSPEL FILTER: No one likes making mistakes, especially in public. We all make mistakes, though, so encourage your teenagers to turn their blunders over to God, cashing in on his promise to forgive those with repentant hearts.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Ask: Have you ever made a public blunder? If so, what happened? What sometimes makes it difficult for us to let go of our mistakes? Do Christians typically overlook the mistakes of others? Why or why not? Read aloud Luke 22:54-62. Ask: Why do you think Jesus chose to build the church on someone who denied him? Who are some other people God used for great things after they made incredible blunders? What does this tell you about Jesus’ attitude toward our mistakes?
Video: The Santa Clause 2 (G)
SCRIPTURE: John 20:24-31
CLIP LOCATION: 53:30 through 56:00*
SYNOPSIS: Carol lists off everything that annoys her about Christmas. Scott asks when she became such a cynic, and Carol reveals that she believed in Santa so much she’d get into fights about it at school. When her parents revealed the truth, she was crushed because she wanted something to believe in.
GOSPEL FILTER: How do we know whether to believe in something? It can seem as if we’re always getting disappointed by the things we place our faith in. Thankfully, even though no 21st-century eye has seen him, we can place complete belief in Jesus, knowing he will never fail or forsake us.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Ask: How did you feel when you learned Santa Claus was imaginary? What are some other unseen things people “believe” in? What enables people to believe in something they can’t see or touch? What relationship does belief have with your faith in Jesus? Read aloud John 20:24-31. Ask: Why did Thomas have to see to believe? Do you feel “blessed” because you haven’t seen? Why or why not? What fuels your belief even though you haven’t seen Jesus in the flesh? What kinds of things shake your belief in Jesus? What has strengthened your faith in Jesus over time? ■
Bryan Belknap is media editor for group Magazine. Visit our massive online resource www.MinistryandMedia.com for hundreds of Bryan’s biblical discussion starters based on popular movies, music, and videos.
Coming Soon to Our Website
Christmas With the Kranks
Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) make their neighbors angry by skipping their normal Christmas celebration for a tropical vacation.
The Incredibles (PG)
A retired team of crime-fighting superheroes leaves their quiet suburban lives when their archenemy returns.
Danny Ocean (George Clooney) reunites his criminal gang to accept a European thief’s bet—to pull off multiple heists in multiple countries.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
The popular children’s books come to the screen, chronicling the plight of three wealthy orphans as they try to escape the evil machinations of Count Olaf (Jim Carrey).
Buddy (Will Ferrell) learns that he’s not truly an elf and journeys to New York City in search of his biological father.
Spider-Man 2 (PG-13)
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) hangs up his tights, but Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), a mechanically tentacled menace, drags the web-slinger out of retirement.
Shrek 2 (PG)
Shrek and Princess Fiona return from their honeymoon and visit her parents, the King and Queen of a Kingdom Far, Far Away...who aren’t happy with their new son-in-law.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (PG)
Harry, Ron, and Hermione face the threat of an escaped prisoner, who’s lurking in the halls of Hogwarts.
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