God On Film 2010 part 1
Lessons from Toy Story 3
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 4, 2010

A few months ago, Nate discovered the joys of Toy Story. We have Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2 on DVD, and I don’t think it’d be an exaggeration to say that we’ve now seen them over 100 times. Nate is actually at the point where he can recite parts of it word for word. He absolutely loves Toy Story.

Of course, he doesn’t know it’s called Toy Story. He calls it Buzz and Woody. Here… this is Buzz and Woody. [Show toys] And let me see… in addition to these toys, Nate has…

•    2 Buzz action figures and 2 Woody action figures
•    A Buzz and Woody blanket
•    He has a few Buzz and Woody books
•    A Buzz and Woody bubble set
•    A Buzz and Woody kite
•    A Buzz and Woody alarm clock
•    His sandals have Buzz on them
•    He has Buzz and Woody shirts
•    He has a Buzz and Woody jacket…
•    Just this week, Shera bought the boys a Buzz and Woody inflatable ring for the beach and and a Buzz and Woody early swimmers’ learn-how-to-swim thing

This kid is obsessed! I even caught him the other day changing the DVD in the DVD player to watch Buzz and Woody. He’s 2 years old! When I was two, I couldn’t insert a DVD! For one thing, they didn’t even exist. But when I was two, all I could insert was toys up my nose. Okay, too much information.

Anyway, we treated Nate to a brand new experience last week. We took him to see Toy Story 3 at the theatre. That was his first movie there, and what’s more is it was in 3D. And we so impressed… Nate sat through the whole movie, eyes glued to the screen, never took the glasses off, and even sat through the credits.

Of course, for Nate that was a treat. For me, it was research. Because this morning we’re starting our brand new message series that will take us through the month of July called “God On Film.” And through this series, we’re going to look at some of the biggest summer blockbusters and see what spiritual principles and themes we can draw out of them. The messages will be based on the Bible but framed by these movies.

Today, it’s Toy Story 3. In this series we’ll also deal with The A-Team, and the new Twilight movie. And I’m still debating about what the fourth movie will be… maybe Despicable Me, or The Karate Kid, or Grow-Ups, Inception, Salt, The Green Hornet, Iron Man 3, Thor… we’ll see. If I don’t get enough requests for the You Asked for It series, perhaps this series will spill over into August and we’ll deal with a few more then.

But today, we’re starting off with Toy Story 3, which opened here in Canada back on June 18 and set a record that very day for the biggest single-day gross for an animated film. And it ended up having the biggest opening weekend of any Pixar film and the biggest June opening for any film, period.

Now, what I don’t want to do during this series is ruin any of the movies for you. Like for Toy Story, some of you may have already seen the movie… others of you may be planning to see it over the next few weeks. So I don’t want to give away the plot. We’ll talk about scenes here and there, but I won’t give away anything that will spoil the ending for you. Okay?

Lessons from Toy Story

1.    Remember who you belong to

Actually, this is a theme that you can find in every Toy Story movie. Every movie is about how the toys have an owner and that owner’s name is… Andy. They’re Andy’s toys. So in every movie when they’re separated from him, their whole goal is to get back to Andy again… right where they belong.

In Toy Story 3, through a series of events the toys are mistakenly donated to a local daycare. By this time, Andy is 17 years old and the toys are afraid he’s going to forget about them anyway, so maybe this daycare is just what they need. And so Lotso… the big cuddly teddy bear who runs the place… welcomes the toys and paints the picture of the daycare as some kind of paradise. Take a look…

[VIDEO – “Welcome to Sunnyside” clip, available at movieministry.com (33 seconds)]

So all the toys seem to be taken in by Lotso’s speech… all except Woody. Woody desperately wants to get back to Andy. In fact, Woody has Andy’s name written on the bottom of his foot. Andy’s name is part of who he is. It’s his identity. And Woody never lost sight of that. He never forgot it.

But the other toys did waver for a time. They were enamored with the daycare. No heartache… no pain… just the joy of being lovingly played with day after day after day by all the children at the daycare.

But as the story unfolds, we discover that no such paradise exists! Lotso was lying to them… no owner does not mean no heartache… and the truth is that the toys would not survive long once the preschoolers were unleashed on them.

But they bought into the lie, and at least for a time they forgot about their rightful owner.

If you read through the Old Testament, what you discover is that the ancient Israelites often forgot who they belonged to. They were God’s chosen people, but time and time again they forgot about that and they wandered away from Him. But every time, God provided a prophet… someone like Woody… to remind them whose they were. But most times, they ignored the prophet at least for a while, and it always resulted in heartache.

Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

The toys were enamored with prospect of the daycare. The Israelites were enamored with other religions and with the prospect of satisfying their sinful desires instead of living to please God. And even today, we still face those kinds of temptations. We still face choices and options that lead us away from God… away from where we belong… away from who we belong to.

So we need to remember that we are not our own, we belong to God. But He is not a tyrant. He loves us, He created us, and He knows what's best for us. We were made for His pleasure. We were made to know Him, to love Him, and to be love by Him.

So let me ask you: who do you belong to? Who’s name is part of your identity? Well, are you a Christ-follower? Do you call yourself a Christian?

And I know that maybe you’re here and you haven’t made up your mind about Him. Maybe you don’t know who you belong to. And maybe you don’t call yourself a Christian. But many of us do. So if that’s you… if you’ve decided that you’re going to trust Him and follow Him and live for Him… remember who you belong to.

This is what the Bible tells us…

Psalm 95:6-7 (NLT)
Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for He is our God. We are the people He watches over, the flock under His care.

1 Corinthians 7:23 (NLT)
God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.

2.    Be loyal to your friends

I expect most of you have seen at least one of the Toy Story movies. But in case you haven’t, the movies are really about a friendship between two of the toys… Woody who’s an old-style cowboy, and Buzz Lightyear, a futuristic space ranger.

When they first met, they didn’t exactly get along. In fact, Woody pushed Buzz out a window. But once they became friends, they were inseparable. To the point that they would consistently risk their animated lives for each other. A friendship so true that it’s immortalized in the theme song for the series… Here’s Randy Newman performing that song live in a concert…

[VIDEO – Song: “You’ve got a friend in me…”]
Isn’t that a great song? Isn’t that what a friendship should be like?

“When the road looks rough ahead
And you're miles and miles from your nice warm bed
Just remember what your old pal said
Boy, you've got a friend in me…
And as the years go by
Boys, our friendship will never die
You're gonna see It's our destiny
You've got a friend in me”

There’s nothing like a friend who will be true through thick and thin, is there?

There’s a famous friendship talked about in the Old Testament, and that’s the friendship between David and Jonathan. And the reason their friendship is so famous is because of the loyalty they had to each other. You see, Jonathan’s father was King Saul, and Saul absolutely hated David. The prophet Samuel had named David as the next King of Israel, so Saul viewed David as a threat to his power. And so he plotted to do away with David. He was going to kill him. But when his son Jonathan found out about it, he was able to warn David, and David was able to escape.

But think for a moment what this would cost Jonathan. You see, Jonathan was the oldest son of the king. And you know what that means. He was next in line. But if David were to become King, that meant that Jonathan would not. But their friendship and their loyalty were strong enough that Jonathan didn’t care. All he was concerned about was saving the life of his friend, regardless of what it might cost him personally. Listen to what he told David when he warned David about his father…

1 Samuel 20:42 (NIV)
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD , saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’”

Now jump ahead. David does eventually become king. Saul had been killed in battle, and sadly so had Jonathan. But David did not forget his friendship. He had made a promise of friendship not only to Jonathan but also to all his descendents. So he sent for Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. Now, Mephibosheth had a couple of problems. First, he had a terrible name. Second, he had been injured as an infant and was crippled as a result.

Mephibosheth was the grandson of Saul, the man who was obsessed with killing David. But he was also the son of Jonathan, David’s best friend. So David gave Mephibosheth all the land and property that belonged to Saul, assigned 36 servants to take care of everything, and then granted Mephibosheth free access to the palace.

Yes, Mephibosheth was the grandson of the man who conspired and plotted to kill David. But he was also the son of David’s closest and most loyal friend. And so David took care of him.

You see, David had made a promise to Jonathan. And friendship means you you’re your promise of loyalty. Even if it costs you something personally, even if it’s inconvenient, even if it’s not the safe or popular thing to do. You keep your promise of friendship.

Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

What kind of a friend are you? Are you loyal? When you hear someone gossiping and tearing down a friend, do you stick up for them? Do you defend them? When they’re in need, do you help them in whatever way you can? Even if it means you’re going to miss your favourite TV show? When they’re discouraged, do you lift them up? When they’ve been wounded, do you stand by them or do you abandon them? What kind of a friend are you?

3.    Pay attention to the instruction manual

In the movie, the other toys run into a bit of a problem with Buzz and they need to reset him. So they’re using the instruction manual to figure out how to do it. But they probably should have read it a little faster. Take a look…

[VIDEO – “Switch Him Back” clip, available at movieministry.com (53 seconds)]

Okay, so they toys ran into a problem and they needed to refer to the instruction manual. Well, we need to read our own instruction manual, too. And obviously what I’m referring to here is the Bible. We need to be devoted to reading the Word of God, discovering the richness and the wisdom of its pages, and applying it to our everyday lives.

there is nothing better for you to think about than the Word of God because it has the power to transform your life. It helps you connect to the creator of the universe and discover true meaning in life. As you read the Word of God, as you study the Word of God, as you meditate on the Word of God, it will infiltrate your thinking more and more, and you will be left with a better understanding of who God is, a stronger relationship with Him, better relationships with friends and family, a better self-esteem, more direction and purpose in life, a clearer sense of right and wrong, and more. It will improve every area of your life, guaranteed.

John W. De Gruchy is a minister from South Africa, and he tells a story about a time when he was travelling through Heathrow Airport in London. Let me read it for you:

“My hand luggage emitted the ominous sound which alerts police to the presence of a hidden weapon. Having been taken aside by a police office, my luggage was searched, and eventually the officer confronted me with the offending article. It was a Bible with a metal zipper. My immediate reaction was to protest: “that’s only a Bible,” to which the officer with some theological insight replied: “Maybe, but the Bible can be a very dangerous book!”
(from Leonard Sweet’s AquaChurch, p.63)

The Bible is a dangerous book. And it’s powerful. And you need to be reading it regularly. As in everyday. Let me give you a few tips…

•    Choose a version you can understand

If you go down to Maritime Christian Bookstore you’ll find what seems to be an endless supply of versions of the Bible that you can either buy right there or have ordered in. In fact, there are so many options that it’s hard to keep track. But that’s a good thing. The reason there are so many versions is so that people can find one that they can understand, that’s written in their own language, and that might have some added features that help them make better use of their Bible.

Here’s a bit of Bible history: The original manuscripts for the Bible were written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek over a period of about 1500 years from the time of Moses to the time of Jesus and his disciples through until near the end of the first century A.D. Of course, if we were still reading the Hebrew or Aramaic or Greek versions we’d have a couple problems. First of all, I couldn’t read them. Secondly, you couldn’t understand them even if I could read them. But thankfully, we don’t have to deal with that because the Bible has been translated from those original manuscripts into English for us.

The most popular translation of the Bible is the King James Version. It wasn’t the first version of the Bible in English, but it became the most accepted. And it has certainly served its purpose over the years. It was a beautiful translation which could remind you a lot of Shakespeare’s writings, which would be fitting since Shakespeare was alive when the KJV was first published in 1611.

But language changes over time. I remember hearing on a documentary once that language changes 20% every 100 years. So it’s understandable that the KJV isn’t as understandable as it was 400 years ago. So every once in a while a team of scholars gets together and translates the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into a more understandable version for us today. Here at Sunrise we use the New Living Translation. Some other suggestions would be the New International Version or the Contemporary English Version. If you prefer to listen than read, perhaps you should look at getting a version on tape or CD or mp3. Or you could even pick up a Children’s Bible done in comic book form.

There are lots of options available, and the important thing is that you choose one that faithful to the original meaning of the text and is one that you can understand. You shouldn’t need a theology degree to understand the Bible.
•    Start with an easier section

Listen, I believe the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God. And all of it is meaningful and is important. But it’s not all equally meaningful or equally important. Nor is it all equally understandable or even interesting. In fact, some of it can be downright difficult to read through.

And here’s the thing: I don’t want you to become discouraged by those sections. So start someplace easier. You don’t have to start in Genesis and read straight through. If you’re brand new to Scripture reading, I would suggest you start with the New Testament book of Luke. Or maybe John. One of the Gospels about the life of Jesus.

•    Read for application, not just information

Did you know that Pamela Anderson has been a Sunday School teacher? How would you like her teaching your kids? I once saw her in an interview where she said that she thought everyone should read the Bible. And that’s good advice. And I’m glad if she reads the Bible. Problem is, she doesn’t seem to apply it to her life.

Ashley Judd is someone else who’s been known to loose her clothing or use profanity in movies. And she has said:

“I don’t go anywhere without my Bible.”
~ Ashley Judd

Listen, you can read the Bible all you want but until it makes a difference in your life it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.

“Christian maturity is not understanding the principles of the Bible; Christian maturity is character. If what we come to accept as truth doesn’t affect our love for God and man, something is radically wrong.”
~ Neil Anderson, Five Hindrances, Devotional for Sunday, November 12, 2000

So here’s the key for you. While you’re reading the Bible, ask yourself, “So What?” It’s fine and dandy that you’re reading it, but so what? What difference does it make? How can you put it into practice in your life? God’s not looking for inflated brains, He’s looking for changed lives.

•    Go Slow

I’ve heard people brag about how they’ve just finished reading through the entire Bible in two weeks. But I wonder how much they actually retained? It’s more important that you understand and apply what you read than it is that you get through it in record time.

•    Combine your Reading with Prayer

Pray that the Holy Spirit will teach you, pray that He will help you understand, and pray that He will help you put the Word of God into practice in everyday life.

•    Ask yourself key questions

Remember this: “Say-Mean-Apply”

Say? How can I summarize this passage in my own words?
Mean? What is God saying to me through this passage?
Apply? What action should I take in response to God’s Word?

And now for the dreaded “M” word…

•    Memorize

You wouldn’t believe how valuable it can be for you to internalize the Word of God by memorizing it.

Psalm 119:11 (NLT)
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Every week there’s a verse or two included in your Sunrise update. Perhaps you will want to memorize that.

4.    Choose to get better not bitter
In Toy Story 3, we’re introduced to some new toys, including Lotso. Lotso is that big cuddly teddy bear you saw earlier. And he seemed pretty nice in that clip, didn’t he? But we soon discover that he’s actually a tyrant who rules over the Sunnyside Daycare.

And what we find out – and this isn’t too far into the movie so I’m not giving anything away – what we find out is that Lotso used to be that big cuddly teddy bear, but he was lost and then replaced by his owner. And when he discovered that he had been replaced, something just snapped inside of him. And he became bitter and angry. And he took it out on all the toys at the daycare.

Well, he didn’t choose the best response to his situation, did he?

Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

Life can throw a lot of junk at you, and we’ve all had to deal with that. But the Bible says when we run into those problems and trials, instead of becoming bitter be can become better. We can learn from them, we can use them to help us develop character, we can learn to trust God more through them…

But we’ll get into that more next week when we talk about The A-Team.



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