SONG: “Grace Amazing” (from Nightlights)
THEME: The singer acknowledges he’s been given an amazing second chance through God’s grace.
BACKGROUND: Jimmy Needham continues to grow and mature—musically and lyrically—in his latest album. Rock, soul, blues, and hip-hop all emerge, but the album never feels like a jumble. The funky opener “Moving to Zion” is about leaving behind the trappings of “religion” and focusing more on Jesus. “The Reason I Sing” and “Being Small” both focus on what God has done for him, and how he’s fine with God getting all the glory. The album closes with “Nightlights,” a spoken-word poem about making less of ourselves and making more of God—“Be Thou exalted over my reputation.” It’s the punctuation on an album that’s all about exalting God.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What does the word grace mean to you? Why do you think the singer (and others), refer to it as “amazing”? Describe how you’ve experienced God’s grace in your life. Read aloud 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. Why didn’t God take away Paul’s “thorn” from him? How do these verses affect how you view troubles that come your way? Why is it so hard to boast about our weaknesses?
SONG: “Don’t Wait” (from Stories)
THEME: The singer lost a friend before she could say goodbye, and it makes her realize how important it is not to wait to do important things.
BACKGROUND: Addison Road has persevered—an RV with all their possessions burned to the ground, their van full of gear was stolen twice, and then it was totaled after it hit a tree. The pain has translated to their music, which is understandably about trusting God in the midst of hardship. “A Change in the Making” addresses God making us into something more than we are. “This Little Light” is a tender song that could be from a parent to a child, or our Heavenly Father to us; it’s stirring and powerful. There’s a beautiful honesty to this album that shines through in singer Jenny Simmons’ strong voice.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Describe a time you lost someone or something, or a person moved out of your life, before you were able to say goodbye. How has that affected your relationships with others who are close to you? Why do people put off having important conversations with people they care about? Why do people put off making a commitment to Christ? Read aloud Isaiah 55:6. What can you learn from this verse aboutseeking God? What is keeping you from “seeking the Lord” right now in your life?
SCRIPTURE: 1 John 3:18-24
CLIP LOCATION: 02:08:06 through 02:09:52 (DVD Chapter: 29)
SYNOPSIS: Jake prays to Ey’wa—the Spirit of the planet—asking for help. Neytiri tells him that Ey’wa doesn’t choose sides, but always seeks balance.
GOSPEL FILTER: This scene is another example of creeping moral relativism. In the world of Avatar, there’s no right and wrong—only balance. Teenagers will run up against this mysticism—we can help them by showing them that there is right and wrong, and God has made these things known to us.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why do you think Jake felt so comfortable praying to Ey’wa, even though he’s not a true Na’vi? What does it mean to experience God? How do you know when you’ve had an experience with God? ? Do you think God cares about keeping a “balance” to the universe? Why or why not? Is it wrong to pray about things for ourselves? Why or why not? Read aloud 1 John 3:18-24. When does God answer prayer? What does it mean to pray in “truth”? What, if anything, does an answer of “no” mean about our relationship with God? What are some wrong intentions people use for praying? How can we know whether or not we’re praying with right intentions?
DEAR JOHN [PG-13]
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 23:25-28
CLIP LOCATION: 00:18:44 through 00:20:07 (DVD Chapter: 6)
SYNOPSIS: John is convinced that because Savannah doesn’t drink, smoke, or sleep around, she might be too perfect for him. She cryptically tells him that she does have faults.
GOSPEL FILTER: Sometimes it seems that people around us have it all together, but a “perfect” front can often conceal a completely broken inside. Teach teenagers to work on their insides more than their facades, and to show empathy toward hurting people God has placed in their paths.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How would you describe someone who doesn’t drink, smoke, or sleep around? How does the world usually describe someone like that? Why do people typically have a hard time admitting their flaws? Read aloud Matthew 23:25-28. Why was Jesus was so harsh on these people? What did their façade say about how they viewed God? Why do people try so hard to maintain a perfect outward appearance? How have you dealt with that pressure? Do these verses mean we shouldn’t strive for perfection? Explain.
THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS [PG-13]
SCRIPTURE: Zechariah 8:16-17
CLIP LOCATION: 01:26:03 through 01:29:17 (DVD Chapter: 22)
SYNOPSIS: Valentina catches her father talking to the Devil about the bet he made so long ago. The Doctor has no choice but to tell her about the bet, which angers her. Percy points out that telling the truth is “always a bad idea.”
GOSPEL FILTER: Aside from the obvious bad idea of making a bet with Satan, the doctor has finally made the right decision—to tell his daughter the truth. Keeping the truth from someone can lead to more heartache and trouble later on.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do you react to the phrase, “Telling the truth—always a bad idea”? Tell about a time when you withheld the truth from someone because you knew the truth would hurt that person. What was the outcome of that? Is it ever wrong to withhold the truth? Why or why not? Read aloud Zechariah 8:16-17. Why do you think truth is so important to God? How does being known as a truthful person affect our ability to tell others about the Good News?
YouTube Video: Abbott and Costello 13 x 7 is 28
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Describe a time when you’ve felt this way in a conversation. Why is it so hard to change people’s minds once they’re made up? Why don’t people like to admit when they’re wrong? Read aloud 1 Kings 19:9-13. Which of these elements—wind, earthquake, fire—would you most expect God to be in? Why? How does changing our perspective help when you’re solving a problem? How can you help others gain a new perspective? What’s a situation in your life that you need a new perspective on? How can you find that perspective?