God On Film 2010 part 5
The Sorcerer's Apprentice: The Qualities of a Worthy Apprentice
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
August 1, 2010
When Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [Yo-hawn Wolfgaung von Goo-tah] wrote a
ballad in 1797, he could have never conceived that 100 years later in
1897 it would be turned into a symphonic poem. Then in 1940 into a Walt
Disney cartoon in the Fantasia collection of animated shorts. Sixty
years after that, the Disney version was restored and included in
Fantasia 2000. And now, in 2010, it’s been made into a full length live
action movie starring Nicolas Cage.
talking, of course, about The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. And by the way,
there was also a Tiny Toons spoof of it, an Atari 2600 game back in
1983, and in the world of computers, there’s even a particularly bad
network protocol flaw named after it; it’s called the Sorcerer’s
So that 213 year old 14 verse ballad has
had some legs, hasn’t it? Now, if you haven’t seen the movie, then the
version you’re probably the most familiar with is the original Fantasia
version. In that short segment from that movie 70 years ago, Mickey
Mouse played the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. And when the sorcerer went
away, Mickey was left behind to do some cleaning. So he thought he’d
experiment a little and he cast a spell on a broom to get it to do the
cleaning for him. But things get out of control and he ends up with a
whole lot of brooms and a whole lot of pails and a whole lot of water
That was basically the story from the original ballad,
too. And the new movie includes a similar scene in it. And of course,
to make it into a full length movie, the story had to be expanded and
so there’s a bigger story connected to it.
In it, Nicolas Cage
plays a sorcerer named Balthazar who had been trained by Merlin
himself, and before he died Merlin gave him the responsibility to find
his successor who would be able to defeat the evil sorceress Morgana.
so, for hundreds of years, he searches until he finally finds him; an
awkward 20 year-old nerd named Dave. There’s a girl involved, too, so
there is a love story component, but the main part of the story
involves Balthazar taking this kid Dave as his apprentice and training
him to be Merlin’s successor.
Of course, there are some bumps
along the way, and Dave fights against being trained for a while, but
Balthazar takes him under his wing and shows him how it’s done, and
eventually he emerges as a worthy apprentice and is ready to take on
And that’s all I’m telling you. If you want to know the rest, you’ll have to see the movie.
what I want to talk about this morning is what it means to be a worthy
apprentice. What are some of the qualities that made Dave a worthy
apprentice? And to find out, we’re going to look at another apprentice
in the pages of the Bible: Timothy.
How did Paul train Timothy?
Well, just like Balthazar took Dave under his wing, Paul took Timothy
under his wing. They traveled throughout the Mediterranean area
spreading the Good News about Jesus, Paul lived his life out in front
of Timothy, and he showed him the ropes. Even when they were separated
when Paul was imprisoned, Paul continued to teach and train and
encourage him through letters, two of which are included in our New
Testament. In fact, according to tradition, Paul eventually ordained
Timothy as the bishop of Ephesus where he served for 15 years.
was a very important apprentice for Paul, and a key figure in the early
Church. But why? Why did Paul choose Timothy in the first place? What
caught Paul’s attention and told him that Timothy had such great
Well, that’s what we’re talking about this morning.
We’re going to take a closer look at Timothy and identify four of the
character traits that made him such a great apprentice… traits that you
and I need to develop in our lives in order to be fully devoted
followers of Christ. If we are going to truly be His apprentices—and
make no mistake, that’s what we are called to be—then we need these
traits in our own lives.
An apprentice should be a person of…
the movie, the apprentice had to learn how to focus. When he was
distracted and fearful and divided, he was powerless. And he had to
learn to eliminate everything that was holding him back. And really,
that’s what integrity is all about.
It’s one of those words
that’s being used more and more. Do you know where it comes from? It
comes from the Latin integritās, which is also the root word for
integer. You all remember your junior high school math, don’t you? Do
you remember what an integer is?
Here. You tell me which of
these numbers is an integer. (19, ¾, 27.3) If you answered 19, then you
answered correctly. An integer is a whole number, 1, 5, 19, 32, 111,
1,324,567. An integer is not written as a fraction like ½ or ¾ or like
a decimal such as 27.3. It’s a whole number, not fragmented in any way.
So integrity suggests a wholeness, a completeness, a oneness.
word that shares the same root is integrated. And so we could say that
integrity is when all aspects of your life are integrated, meaning they
are all working together as a whole.
You see, God wants his
people to function as whole people. He doesn’t want us to be divided
people with divided loyalties. We should have no duplicity. God wants
us to be people of integrity, with a single-minded loyalty to Him.
Remember what Jesus said…
Matthew 6:24 (NLT)
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.”
And that’s why polygamy is a bad idea.
says you can’t serve two masters. And you can’t do that because your
loyalty will be divided… fragmented. You’ll be pulled in separate
directions and eventually you’ll have to choose. So as a
Christ-follower, integrity means wholeness… a wholeness between your
beliefs and your behaviour, between your creed and your character. A
person with integrity has consistency… what he believes is how he acts.
What she says is what she will do.
Timothy was a man of
integrity. And because of that, Paul held Timothy in very high esteem.
In fact, because of Timothy’s care and compassion, Paul told the church
Philippians 2:20 (NLT)
I have no one else like Timothy…
had people say that about me, too, but I’m not sure they meant it in a
positive way. But Paul was very positive about Timothy. He was the best
there was. There was no one else like Timothy.
Because of his
integrity, Timothy had become a man Paul could trust. Why? Because
Timothy was a man who had integrated his faith into every area of his
life. That is what made him a man of integrity.
that you are who you appear to be. There’s no deception, no double
standard, no false masks you put on to impress people. You are who you
are. And as far as the Christian life is concerned, being a person of
integrity means that your faith is foundational to how you live your
life. It’s not just reserved for one fragment of your life; it’s
essential to who you are.
Proverbs 11:20 (NLT)
The Lord hates people with twisted hearts, but he delights in those who have integrity.
for a lot of people who claim to be Christians, the sad fact is that
they do not live any differently than people who do not claim to know
Christ. Their faith has not made them faithful. It seems that faith for
them resides in the realm of the theoretical rather than the practical.
And so their faith makes no difference in their lives. And so they make
no difference in the world.
But Timothy was different. He was a
man Paul could count on. He was a fully devoted follower of Christ and
it was reflected in his life of integrity.
The second trait we see in Timothy is…
this, I mean he was devoted to Paul and his teachings. He was willing
to learn, he had a teachable spirit, and he put himself in a position
to learn all he could by following Paul. Paul summed this up when he
Philippians 2:22 (NLT)
But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has helped me in preaching the Good News.
had proven himself to be like a son to Paul. And what would a son be
doing with his father at this point in history? He’d be learning the
family business. He’d be devoted to learning the trade and carrying on
the work. He would be an apprentice to his father. And that’s what
Timothy became like for Paul. Like a son devoted to his father and his
In the movie, Dave makes a commitment to
being trained by Balthazar. And once he committed himself, there was no
going back. He was devoted to learning and growing as a sorcerer.
what we’re really talking about here is discipleship. To be a disciple
is to be a follower, a learner, an apprentice. If you are someone’s
apprentice, then you walk alongside them and see how they live, and
then you begin to emulate that in your own life. For me to be an
apprentice or a disciple of Jesus, it means that I make a serious
effort by God’s grace to walk as He walked and live as He lived. I
devote myself to learning from Him and carrying on His work. His life
must become a pattern for mine if I am to be a fully devoted follower
Well, when you read through the New Testament, you discover that Jesus welcomed people to become His disciples when He said…
Mark 1:17 (NIV)
“Come, follow me.”
And Paul had a similar invitation when inviting people to become his disciples…
1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
all about following and watching and learning and applying. And just so
you understand, I’m not talking about being a super-Christian here.
This is what we’re all called to. There aren’t different levels of
disciples; we are all called to become fully devoted followers of His.
Jesus and Paul weren’t the only ones with apprentices, or disciples.
May of the religious leaders of the day had their own set of
apprentices. Usually what would happen was this: at a young age, a boy
would start studying and memorizing the Scriptures. And by the time he
was, say, 12 years old, he would have much of what is our Old Testament
memorized. You think I’m crazy when I suggest memorizing a verse or
two; try memorizing entire books of the Bible!
Well, when a 12
year old boy had done all that studying and memorizing, he would then
apply to become a disciple. He would go and appear before a great
master, and would try to convince the master that he would make a great
apprentice. And to be chosen as an apprentice was a great honour. So
there were many people seeking to become an apprentice and only so many
masters to study under. And so the end result was that only the best of
the best actually made it as an apprentice. Everyone else was passed
by, and typically ended up working in the family business as we talked
Now contrast that with what Jesus and eventually
Paul did. Jesus didn’t wait for people to appear before him to seek an
apprenticeship. And He didn’t require that they prove that they are the
best of the best. He went to them, and he called them to follow Him.
about this. These men were long past the age when they would typically
be accepted as an apprentice, and so had gone on to work in their
family business. For example, when Jesus called James and John, what
were they doing? They were mending the nets on a fishing boat that
belonged to their father, Zebedee.
Hey, did you ever wonder
what their last name was? I like to think it could have been Dooda. You
know, Zebedee Dooda. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
the fact that these grown men were working on their father’s boat would
indicate that they never stood a chance of becoming an apprentice.
Either they had never studied and learned the Scriptures or they simply
didn’t measure up and were passed over by the Rabbis. Either way, they
weren’t considered to be the best of the best.
But then along
comes Jesus, and He personally invites these fishermen to leave what
they’re doing and follow Him. What an honour! I mean, I feel a little
sorry for Zebedee because he just lost two of his staff. But still,
what an honour. Jesus is in essence telling them that He believes in
them… He believes they are the best of the best. And they don’t
approach Him… He goes to them. And so they devoted themselves from that
moment on to learning from Jesus, becoming like Him, and carrying on
Now consider Timothy. Timothy had just recently become
a Christian because of the ministry of Paul. And so when Paul offered
him an apprenticeship, he devoted himself to learning from this man of
God and modeling his life after Paul’s. Paul taught him, challenged
him, and even corrected him—perhaps even rebuked him a time or two.
don’t think most Christians today would tolerate a good rebuke. If
people are corrected or rebuked today, often they simply move on to
another church. They’re offended, so they basically take their marbles
and go home.
But having a spirit of devotion means you’re
committed to learning and growing, even when it’s not fun and you’re
not comfortable, you’re willing to be stretched and challenged. And
sometimes that can even mean being rebuked and corrected, because
that’s part of the process of growing and developing as disciples. But
you’ve got to have that spirit of devotion.
There’s a third character trait we see in Timothy…
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Dave is willing to give up his life to
defeat Morgana and save the world. He was selfless. Timothy was also
selfless. In fact, tradition tells us that his 15 years of serving as
the bishop of Ephesus was ended when he was stoned to death for
standing up for what is right and opposing the worship of idols.
Philippians 2:20-21 (NLT)
have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare.
All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to
Timothy was selfless. And that was a result of
Jesus being his top priority. He was reflecting the nature and
character of Christ in his life. Paul had taught him that. Timothy was
selfless, while as Paul points out many other were selfish.
much the same in our day, isn’t it? In fact, selfishness is now
considered to be a virtue in many places. “Look out for number one.
Demand your rights. Don’t take anything off of anyone. Greed is good.”
You see this throughout our society. People only seem to care about
what’s in it for them.
In fact, when you meet someone who is not
selfish, you are almost shocked. And if you were to meet someone who
went out of his or her way to help you, you might begin to wonder what
ulterior motive they might have had for doing it. You’ll wonder what
they’re up to. What’s their agenda? What are they trying to hide? Who
are they trying to impress? What’s in it for them? That’s the way we
think about selflessness because we live in a world of selfish people.
as followers of the One who laid His life down even for His enemies, we
should reflect His love and compassion for others. We should count it
an honour to go out of our way for someone else. After all, isn’t that
what he would do?
Romans 15:2-3 (NLT)
We should please others. If we do what helps them, we will build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t please himself.
And the final trait that we’re going to look at this morning as evidenced in the life of Timothy is…
the movie, for both Balthazar and his apprentice, every time they got
knocked down they got back up. They had endurance… a stick-to-itness.
Let’s go back to a verse we looked at earlier…
Philippians 2:22 (NLT)
But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has helped me in preaching the Good News.
proved himself. How? By sticking with Paul and working alongside him.
Sounds simple, but think about the things that Paul had to go through.
He was mocked, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, thrown into prison, struck
blind… In fact, I’ve read that there are over 200 times recorded in the
Bible that Paul faced some kind of hardship or personal pressure. Paul
2 Corinthians 11:23-28 (NLT)
I have worked
harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number,
and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jews gave me
thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was
stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a
day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced
danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from
my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced
danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I
have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I
have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have
been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have
shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along.
Paul says on top of all that he also had to worry about how the church
was getting along. I’m with you there, buddy. Here’s a quote I found in
a book this week…
“I’m convinced that anyone who would willingly become a pastor must have either a divine call or an intelligence deficit.”
~ Geoff Surratt
10 Stupid Things that Keep Your Church from Growing, p. 9
I’ll let you make up your own minds which one it is.
Paul went through all this stuff and carried all these burdens. And
through much of it, Timothy was right there with him. And he stuck it
out. He persevered. He never gave up. He endured. And he had learned
this perseverance and endurance from Paul himself. Paul wrote…
2 Corinthians 4:9 (NLT)
We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.
had this kind of endurance. Without endurance, Timothy could not have
become the man he was––a man of integrity, a devoted follower of
Christ, with a selfless concern for others. Timothy hung in there, and
he refused to throw in the towel and quit.
absolutely essential for you and me if we hope to follow Jesus, because
there will be times that it gets tough. There will be times when we
feel like giving up. There will be times of temptation. There will be
times of testing. Satan will attack us. People will oppose us. We will
even disappoint ourselves. And at times like those, we will feel like
quitting. That’s when we need this quality of endurance. The Apostle
2 Peter 1:6 (NLT)
…Patient endurance leads to godliness.
quality of endurance will allow us to be effective and productive in
our walk with Christ, and will lead us to godliness. And how do we
cultivate this endurance? Look at another important passage of
James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters,
whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For
when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let
it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong
in character and ready for anything.
Notice that it says the
testing of your faith is what develops endurance. In other words, when
we stand up to the trial or test, and refuse to quit, endurance begins
to grow in us. When you’re going through a tough time, or you’re
disillusioned, or you’re discouraged, or you’re feeling like throwing
in the towel, that’s the very opportunity you need in order to develop
Unfortunately, a lot of people lack this kind of
endurance. People quit just about everything these days. They quit
their schooling. They quit their jobs. They quit their marriages. They
quit their gyms. They quit their responsibilities to their children.
They quit their church. They quit their clubs. They quit just about
anything that can be quitted. And the list could go on. It has been
said that a failure is not someone who fails, but someone who quits.
“Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.”
~ Josh Billings
“You never really lose until you quit trying.”
~ Mike Ditka
Now contrast that with what W.C. Fields had to say…
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. Then quit. There’s no use being a fool about it.”
~ W.C. Fields
quote - “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. Then quit.
There’s no use being a damn fool about it.” ~ W.C. Fields
of the greatest inventors, like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham
Bell, had thousands of failures before they had their breakthroughs.
And because they endured through those failures we are enjoying the
results of their success today.
So how about you? How do you
rate your endurance quotient? Do you quickly give up, or do you hang in
there when the going gets tough?
You know, these character
traits we have looked at this morning and found in the life of Timothy
are traits you can have, too. You can cultivate them in your own life.
And as you do, you will grow more like Jesus. You will grow in your
faith and faithfulness.
So how do you rate in these areas?
Integrity. Are you seeking to follow Jesus wholeheartedly and allowing
Him to impact every area of your life… every behavior, thought,
decision, and choice?
• How about Devotion? Do
you have an independent, rebellious spirit? Or are you willing to
learn, take direction, and even correction? Are you devoted to God and
His Word, and living out that devotion every day by following Him?
What about Selflessness? Are you concerned for others, or only for
yourself? Does your commitment to Christ lead you to reach out? Are you
willing to set aside your own comfort for the sake of others and for
• And how about Endurance? Do you
hang in there when it gets tough, or do you quit? Do you persevere
It’s my hope and prayer for you that each of these traits will flourish in your life. Let’s pray.