“Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16, Common English Bible)
In an episode titled “Greater Good,” from the first season of the drama-comedy Boston Legal, Alan Shore (James Spader) and Denny Crane (William Shatner) represent a large, drug company in a civil suit. The two lawyers disagree on a key ethical issue surrounding the lies about a clinical trial for a new drug.
The doctor who participated in the clinical trial is conflicted. Shore wants her to be truthful about the potential harm the new drug may have caused its patients. Crane, on the other hand, wants her to be quiet about it. Shore reminds the doctor that when she testifies in court, she will be under oath. Mr. Shore’s intention, of course, is to persuade the doctor to speak truth.
Pete’s Dragon is the newest family film from Disney. It is a brilliant film filled with adventure, laughs, and plenty of tear-jerkers. It is a great film to take a youth group, or other group, to. You can read my ponderings on the film here.
Below are some discussion questions you can use with your group. I’m sharing them here for those who are looking for such a resource. As a Christian educator, I should tell you, if you use these questions, don’t feel like you have to use them all. If anything, let the questions be a guide to having a conversation around the themes presented in the film.
The little boy wanders through the forest, alone and scared. Unsure what to do or where to go, he clings to a book about Elliot the dog. It is the only source of comfort he has. There is a wide range of dangers lurking in the darkness. Among them lurks a little magic.
This is how Disney’s new Pete’s Dragon begins. It is gripping, demanding the audience to settle in to their seats and throw a few more pieces of popcorn in their mouths. Before the title appears on the screen, we have been introduced to the main character, a little boy named Pete, and met the mysterious creature in the woods. This magical creature shines compassion, erasing any fears we may have.
“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” -Nathaniel Hawthrone
As I was preparing worship and a sermon for what would be my last Sunday at Peakland United Methodist as their Associate Minister, the communications coordinator, Kim, shared with me the bulletin cover she designed. It had a key verse from one of the scriptures I was using and a picture of a butterfly. It was perfect on all sorts of levels.
I hesitated to ask her to change anything. Finally, I asked if it would be possible to make the orange butterfly a yellow butterfly. She gave me one of those, “that’s an odd request” look, and then said, “Sure.”
Our favorite spot in the new house is quickly becoming the sunroom. This enclosed porch with sliding doors all around, gives us a postcard perfect glimpse of our backyard. It is more perfect when birds, squirrels, rabbits, and other friendly critters occupy the space.
It is a peace-filled space.
The other day while eating lunch on the sunroom, Toddler J and I watched as a squirrel hopped through the yard. As the squirrel started climbing the tree, Toddler J’s eyes lit up and a broad smile spread across her little face. She pointed up as the squirrel climbed the tree. When the squirrel was long out of sight, she was still pointing with excitement and mumbling what I believe was her attempt at saying,”squirrel.”
Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me.
United Methodist Hymnal, #393
Have you ever watched a child play with play-dough? It is a pretty new phenomenon at our house. Baby J hasn’t figured out that she can create things with the play-dough, but she sure loves breaking it a part (an elder in training?). As her little hands grip the play-dough, and squeeze it between her fingers, she pulls the dough a part creating a new piece.
Here is the thing: the play-dough doesn’t put up a fight.
It was made to be pulled apart and molded into new things. The original container-rounded shape of the play-dough is not its intended shape. It was created to be formed into something new. And if, during the creation process, it doesn’t quite turn out the way you wanted it, you start over. You roll that play-dough back into a big ball of dough and you start molding and forming all over again.
I was invited to participate in the Baccalaureate service for EC Glass on June 5, 2016. This is what I shared.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
This is a season of celebrations. And you have a lot to celebrate – the final concerts, the final games, the final plays, the final exams. There are classrooms you will never walk into again. You have finished, and in doing so accomplished a lot, and that is worthy of celebration.
Mother & Son: The Respect Effect, Emerson Eggerichs, W Publishing Group, 2016
Mother & Son is a new book from Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect. Through his Love and Respect conferences, Eggerichs focuses on marital relationships. In this new book, Eggerichs turns his attention to the mother and son relationship.
As the subtitle suggests, Eggerichs proposal is that while it is important for a mother to show love to her son, showing him respect is key to his heart. Eggerichs suggests and coaches how respect-talk can transform the mother-son relationship.
Here is the audio of my sermon from May 29, 2016 at Peakland United Methodist Church. The text was Galatians 1:1-12, Luke 7:1-10, and 1 Kings 18:20-39. You can also listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.
Bearing Witness: Stories of Martyrdom and Costly Discipleship, Charles E. Moore & Timothy Keiderling, editors, Plough Publishing House, 2016.
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” -Jesus of Nazareth
This quote is an appropriate one to begin a collection of stories featuring those who were persecuted because of their faith. And not talking about the elected public official who cried persecution when they refused to do their job. Nor the company that cries persecution because the law requires them to provide services to a gay couple. Nor do I mean the white man who cries persecution when a woman chooses to get an abortion.