The Gifted (Spiderman)

June 7th, 2012

Movie Bible Study

Clip is from Spiderman.  Give synopsis:  Peter receives supernatural abilities through a spider bite.  Formerly nerdy, he is now able to beat up bullies effortlessly.  His uncle gives him a talk.  (Scene 8: Fast forward past the cuss word and start.  End when uncle says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

God expects us to use the talents and abilities He has given us.  We are not supposed to use them just to benefit ourselves.  What are we supposed to use them for?

Luke 12:48b “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24

We Do Not Wage War as the World Does (Monte Python and the Search for the Holy Grail)

June 4th, 2012

Movie Bible Study

Show clip from Monte Python:  Scene 9.  (King Arthur approaches a French castle.  A confrontation ensues with the French insulting the English and then launching livestock over the castle at the English.)

The point:  the ridiculous weapons the French use for battle.  We are just as ridiculous when we use the weapons of the world to fight spiritual warfare.

II Corinthians 10:3

Ephesians 6:10-12  Who’s our enemy?  (Satan and his cronies)

Who’s not our enemy?  (flesh and blood — emphasize that other people are not our enemies)

How do we fight this enemy?

1) Armor of God (describe briefly)

2) Sword of the Spirit

3) Prayer

4) Singing (Paul and Silas in prison, Jehoshaphat from previous lesson on Rocketman)

5) Pure heart

Back to II Corinthians 10:3-5

Explain about strongholds.  Another weapon v. 5 “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

What Appears Weak is Strong (Rocketman)

June 4th, 2012

Movie Bible Study

God uses the weak, the humble.  Sometimes what appears to be weak, to our human eyes, is actually strong.

Clip from Disney’s Rocketman, scene where geeky Fred goes into intense astronaut training to see if he’s fit to go into space. He’s competing against a seasoned, macho astronaut.  In this scene, the two guys face several trials, culminating in an isolation chamber scene where Fred sings and has a puppet show.  Stop here (I have not found a DVD of Rocketman, only a video, so I don’t have a scene number.)


God can show His strength and power in unexpected and funny ways, too.  Jehoshaphat was a good king of Judah.  Read II Chronicles 20:2,4,12,15,17,20,21.

Who led the army?

Who did the fighting?

I figured they looked about as strong and capable as Fred singing “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.”

They appeared weak, but because of God, they were strong.

Weak is Strong (The Fellowship of the Ring)

June 4th, 2012

Movie Bible Study

Clip is from Fellowship of the Ring, scene 21, “The Council of Elrond”

Show clip first.
Why is Frodo chosen? (answers you’re looking for: he’s humble, not power hungry, weak needs the fellowship)
When has God chosen the little guy?
>David and Goliath
>Gideon>Paul (II Corinthians 10:10)

How can God use weakness or humility?
II Cor. 4:7 we have this treasure in jars of clay to show God’s power. Jars of clay are simple pots, nothing special.
II Cor. 12:7-10 What does this mean?
God uses our weaknesses to keep us dependent on Him. Then we rely on Him. We stay in prayer and Bible study to seek his power. We won’t be proud because we know we’re weak; it’s God’s power, not ours.

The Fellowship (The Fellowship of the Ring: Lord of the Rings)

June 4th, 2012

Movie Bible Study

Clip is from The Fellowship of the Ring,”Scene 30 “The Departure of the Fellowship”


Show clip first.  Discussion:

Why were each of these guys chosen?

>Elf:  sense of perception

>Troll:  strength and fierceness

>Men:  leadership ability

>Wizard:  wisdom and supernatural powers

>Hobbits:  friendship and loyalty


All their gifts: all had their part to play in the journey.  I Corinthians 12:4-7  parallels this.  God explains that the different gifts and abilities are given for the good of the church as a whole.  We each have to do our part.

Hebrews 10:24-25 God says for us to consider how to spur one another on toward love and good deeds, to not give up meeting together.  This is one of the reasons why we come together as a church.  We use our gifts for the church and we spur one another on to using their gifts.

Jesus the Wonderful King (Road to El Dorado)

June 3rd, 2012

Movie Bible Study

Clip is from Road to El Dorado, Scene 14 whole scene “Age of the Jaguar” (stop immediately at end of scene when Tzekel-kan goes to see Tulio)

If you were a god, what would you be like? What rules would you make? How would you insist that people treat you?

Quick synopsis to give before starting the clip: “Two men have stumbled upon this golden city in Central America. The indigenous people believe they’re gods. Their current religious leader is harsh and power-hungry. He orders the streets be “cleansed” for these newfound “gods,” but one of the “gods” wanders out into the city. Watch how he treats people. Start clip.

Discussion: What was the difference between the way Miguel treats people and the way Tzekel-kan treats people? What’s the difference in their ideas about human sacrifice? What’s their attitude toward children? How do Miguel and Tzekel-kan each expect to be treated by the people? Who’s more like Jesus? (Miguel shows mercy, plays with kids, is kind, gives people joy, treats people with dignity, is humble.)

Scriptures: Matthew 19:13-15, Matthew 18:1-5 How Jesus treats children.
Mark 2:1-2 How much the people were drawn to Him and wanted to be where He was
Philippians 2:5-11 God’s attitude about his “God-ness”

Conclude by showing that Jesus doesn’t act like what people expect a god to act like. He is humble, associates with the lowly, abhores human sacrifices, draws people to himself, treats people with kindness and dignity. This is our model for the way we act.

Unicef Working Against International Adoptions

February 20th, 2012

A version of the article below was first printed as an editorial in the Paducah Sun in November, 2011.


Don’t trick or treat for UNICEF this year.  UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) is tricking us into believing they advocate for the welfare of children worldwide, but in reality they are treating the children as pawns in a battle for ethnic purity and nationalism.  If you donate money to UNICEF, you are contributing to an organization that is working to stop international adoptions.

When the Matheny family boarded American Airlines en route to Burkina Faso to pick up their adopted child, the airline played a promotional video for UNICEF.  The touching images and script convinced the Mathenys and other passengers to donate when the bucket was passed around the plane.  To their dismay, they later found out they had contributed to an organization that is working to stop international adoptions.

UNICEF has done admirable work in the past to improve the lives of poor children in war-torn or undeveloped countries.  They have dispensed vaccines, promoted breastfeeding, provided emergency food supplies, endorsed education for girls, and much more.  All this serves to make their opposition to international adoption mystifying for those of us who promote adoption and care passionately about the welfare of all children.  But it also makes their influence more dangerous because the public may put blind trust in such an organization and assume the officials will only work in the best interests of children.

The best interests of children, however, are taking a back seat to the best interests of nationalist ideology.  UNICEF has apparently embraced the philosophy of anti-adoption forces who believe that children should not be removed from their country and culture.  These forces believe that international adoption denies the children their heritage and their right to be raised in kinship groups. They believe that children should remain in their native country in orphanages, foster homes, or native adoptive homes.

Most people will agree that a native adoptive home is ideal; however, it is just not a practical reality in many poor nations.  Ethiopia, for instance, has 5 million orphans, and part of the country is in a famine.  How realistic is it to count on those 5 million kids being adopted by other Ethiopian families? Foster care is also not a realistic option in many developing nations. Besides, we know from our own American experience that foster care has its own set of difficulties and is still not as good as a permanent family.  And an orphanage, at best, is still an institution.  Institutions don’t raise children as well as families do.  So child welfare advocates should be working toward placing children in adoptive homes, regardless of the culture.

Not UNICEF.  UNICEF’s official statement does not blatantly oppose international, or inter-country, adoptions.  This quote, taken from “Unicef’s position on Inter-country adoption,” conveys their halfhearted endorsement: “Inter-country adoption is among the range of stable care options.  For individual children who cannot be cared for in a family setting in their country of origin, inter-country adoption may be the best permanent solution.” Even though UNICEF is not officially antagonistic toward international adoption, their policies make it very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to adopt from other countries. Consider Haiti, for example.  Current UNICEF policies require birth records for all children being adopted internationally, but most birth records in Haiti were destroyed by the earthquake.  Since most Haitians are not in an economic position to adopt, these children are consigned to live out their lives in orphanages, if not in a refugee camp.

What is my vested interest?  I have a potential daughter in Ethiopia.  We were well on the way to bringing her home by Christmas when UNICEF-funded officials removed her and 37 other children from the orphanage where she lived. They took them back to their native region to try to find homes for them there. My “daughter” is between 9-11 years of age and no one has wanted her yet.  Why try to find a family for her when she already has one waiting for her?  UNICEF is also subsidizing the native families who choose to take one of these children.  This in itself is troubling.  Where is the guarantee that some of these families won’t take the children just to get the money?  While UNICEF’s motives may be good in some respects, the implementation of their idealism has heartbreaking consequences for many children.

We need to hold UNICEF accountable for what they claim to be:  an organization that advocates for the best interests of all children.  It is in the best interest of homeless children to be adopted by families that want them, regardless of what country they live in.  Color and nationality are not as important as love and family. You would think UNICEF would know that.

Another Miscarriage

February 20th, 2012

I wrote this on September 23, 2011, but didn’t want to post it then, so I’m posting it now.


I am grieving today.  I’ve been crying off and on since yesterday at noon.  Our adoption agency called with bad news.  The girl we are trying to adopt, the girl we already love and pray for daily, has been taken away.  There are some anti-adoption forces in Ethiopia and other developing countries who are trying to prevent children from being adopted and leaving the country.  They came to our orphanage in Addis Ababa and took 30 children last week, our sweet girl among them.  I can’t even write about it without crying.  They’ve been taken somewhere in the south of  Ethiopia to try to find places for them there.  If they can find family willing to take them in, they will pay them a stipend.  If they can’t find a home for them, they will place them in a different orphanage somewhere in the South.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why they would take children who have waiting families when there are so many who don’t.  And why would they take them from a good orphanage where they have food and a good director who obviously loves them?  And why take them to the South, where there’s a famine and they can’t even feed their own people there?

I know some people don’t understand why I would grieve over a child I’ve never even met, so I’ll explain.

1) It’s like a miscarriage (I’ve already had two). You are attached to and love this child even though you’ve never held or met the child.

2) I’m so heartbroken thinking about what she is feeling.  She had already experienced the loss of her parents — she’s an orphan — and the disruption of being put in an orphanage, and now they’re taking her to another orphanage?  She was already attached to the director and caretakers and children in Addis.  Why tear her away from that?

3) Who’s taking care of the kids in this transition?  Are they just terrified?  Our girl is the only older girl in the group.  Is she able to comfort and play mother to all these little kids who are surely holding on to her?

That’s just a start.


So now we pray with faith that God will bring her to us anyway.  He can do that.


9th Month

September 9th, 2011

I love September.  I’ve been going around all day singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” because it is.  I love the stillness.  I don’t know why it’s so still in the day in September, but it is.  The crackly dry of the grass and leaves and the chirpy buzz of the frogs and cicadas settle into the warm, windless afternoons and evenings.  There’s an atmosphere of fullness and completion, like summer has done her job and now there’s a lull.  It’s open-window weather.  It’s sit-outside-in-the-evening weather.  It’s satisfied and finished and waiting weather, kind of like a pregnancy.  It is the ninth month of the year, now that I think about it, so it is the finished and waiting time of pregnancy.  The black-eyed Susan vine I planted from seed is finally blooming and the Mandevilla has curlicued its way down the whole fence with its myriad of tropical pink flowers.  The Mexican sunflower is getting a little ostentatious with its vivid orange blooms and the cypress vine is like a charismatic little autocrat taking over the whole garden with its ferny foliage and delicate red blossoms.  The hummingbirds are happy about the new garden conqueror.  Since the bee balm has gone to seed, they need a new nectar source. And I sit in the sun and wait, complete, and listen to the loudness of the September stillness.

Nine Months of Labor

September 6th, 2011

We finished all the homework!   Adoptive parents have to complete a minimum of 10 hours of education on adoption, parenting, orphans, attachment, etc. before they can adopt internationally.  Ours took more than 10 hours.  We had to watch 4 hours of a DVD set and then write essays on the content. Then we had to do an online tutorial and take what was essentially a comprehensive test.  Much of it was informative and helpful, but it is a lot of work.  AS IS EVERYTHING ELSE INVOLVED IN ADOPTION.  As I’ve been telling people, it’s a part time job you don’t get paid for.  There’s one thing I want all adopted kids out there to know:  Your parents really wanted you.  Nobody goes to this much trouble for something they’re kind of interested in doing; they have to really want it.   There are nine months of labor in getting a child into this world.  I’ve done that three times.  Well, there are at least nine months of labor to adopt a child.  It’s is just a different kind of labor.  But it can be tiring, painful, annoying, and burdensome, just like gestating a child can be.  I think we just finished the second trimester.  At least I hope we have.  Now we’re looking forward to the arrival of our child.