Ministry and Media
group magazine: January-February, 2012
by Scott Firestone IV
SONG: "Love Came Down" (from Where I Find You)
THEME: The singer lives by faith even when she can't live by sight.
BACKGROUND: Kari is an exciting young voice in worship; her debut album came out of nowhere and sold 250,000 copies. This follow-up is more of her excellent voice singing songs of praise to God. "We Are" reassures us that whatever pain we may experience, that's not who we are. "We Exalt Your Name," her duet with Matt Maher, is a stirring song about Jesus' sovereignty over all. And the closer "Here" invites us to take refuge in Christ—breathing in and out, and resting. It's refreshing to hear a strong female voice in the sea of guys at the top of the worship charts.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What are some things you have total faith in? What makes those things believable to you? Describe a time when you—like the singer—couldn't "hear God's voice." How did you overcome that? Why do you think the singer is able to lift her hands in faith, even when she can't see God? Read aloud Hebrews 11:1-2. What are some things we have to take on faith? Why doesn't God make those unseen things seen, so that people have an easier time believing? What are some things that have strengthened your faith in God? How does faith "work," exactly?
SONG: "Envy" (from Hats Off To the Bull)
THEME: The singer is striving not to be envious of others.
BACKGROUND: Alt-metal band Chevelle is back to their old sound after a slightly disappointing last couple of albums. This veteran band sounds big, despite just having three members; heavy but melodic—like Tool without the dark undertones. The first single "Face To the Floor" is about Bernie Madoff and his devastating ponzi scheme. "Ruse" is a pounding song with a driving bass line. "Prima Donna" is a radio-friendly acoustic track that lulls you in, before they pound you with the album closer "Clones." I wish their lyrics were easier to decipher, but musically they sound really tight.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is all envy destructive? Why or why not? How is envy related to jealousy? Describe a time you were envious of someone else. How did you overcome that feeling—or did you? Why aren't people content with what they have? Read aloud Galatians 5:16-21. Why is envy listed with so many terrible things like sexual immorality and drunkenness? What's one example of a "cure" for envy?
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES [PG-13]
SCRIPTURE: Romans 3:21-26
CLIP LOCATION: 00:42:05 through 00:48:14 (DVD Chapter: 9)
SYNOPSIS: Blackbeard's daughter has brought a missionary on the ship, in an effort to save her father's soul. Blackbeard and the missionary argue about whether he is beyond being saved—Blackbeard seems quite content to be a "bad man."
GOSPEL FILTER: We all know someone who's content to be "bad." But there's no heart that's too hard for God; we need to make sure our teenagers know how far God's grace extends.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why would someone revel in being bad? What are some of the "benefits" they might see? What are some of the drawbacks? Blackbeard's daughter thinks the mere presence of a missionary can change her father's heart—in your experience, what does it take to change a heart? Read aloud Romans 3:21-26. According to these verses, who is in need of "saving"? What do you think is the best way to help someone realize how much they need Jesus' gift of grace? What is our responsibility in introducing others to Christ? How should you react if they reject what you say?
THE TREE OF LIFE [PG-13]
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 121:1-10
CLIP LOCATION: 00:19:38 through 00:36:06 (DVD Chapter: 4)
SYNOPSIS: This one will take some guts on your part, but if you've got a group that can handle a 15-minute creation sequence, I think it'll create some great conversation.
GOSPEL FILTER: This amazing scene shows an artistic view of creation, and throughout the majestic sequence we hear a mother's voice, asking God questions about what he knew about her son's death. What role he played. Why he allowed it to happen. You should mention that the woman's son has died before you show the clip, to help teenagers contextualize her questions.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your reaction to what we just saw? In what ways do you think this was accurate? In what ways was it unbelievable? Why do people find it so hard to believe we were created by a loving God? What was the most interesting question the mother asked during that sequence? She asked God, "Who are we to you?" What do you think is the answer to that question? How important are our individual struggles when held against the vastness of creation? Read aloud Psalm 121:1-10. These verses address both God's role as Creator and his care for individuals. How do you react to that promise? When have you seen evidence of God watching over you?
SUPER 8 [PG-13]
SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 7:8-11
CLIP LOCATION: 00:56:56 through 01:01:23 (DVD Chapter: 10)
SYNOPSIS: Joe and Alice talk frankly about Joe's mom's death—how Joe felt about his mom, and Alice's dad's role in her death. His regrets color their relationship—to the point where she wishes he had gone to the plant the day of the accident.
GOSPEL FILTER: This is a sad scene. A boy misses his mother terribly, and a girl has to live with a father who knows his drinking caused someone else's death.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do you think Alice feels when she's around Joe? Why would she wish her father were dead? What is the biggest thing you've regretted doing—that you can share? How is regret different from repentance? Read aloud 2 Corinthians 7:8-11. What is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow? According to these verses, what is some good that can come from regret?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would you have bet everything in his situation? Why or why not? Why do you think he had the nerve to bet everything he had—twice? What are some risks that are good to take? What are some risks that are foolish? In what ways are Christians called to be risk-takers? Read aloud Joshua 1:5-9. What are some specific risks that Christians face around the world? According to these verses, how is God asking us to respond when a risky situation presents itself? What are some risks you feel God calling you to?
SCOTT is the Associate Editor of GROUP Magazine. You can contact Scott at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @firestone.
Music: Tom Waits, Bad As Me; Joe Henry, Reverie
Xbox: Elder Scrolls: Skyrim; Ms. 'Splosion Man