(Cloud Ten Pictures, Directed by Barry Berman)
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*Time - 0:5:00
Thaniel is hanging out with a couple of older guys who are pressuring him to do bad things. They tell him that he has to prove himself and help them rob Eli's store if they want them to be his friend. What does the Bible say about choosing friends?
Proverbs 13:20 - He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.
1 Corinthians 15:33 - Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
It is natural for humans to be affected by the people they surround themselves with. We become like the people we are with. If your parents act a certain way or think a certain way about something, you'll probably start acting or thinking like them, at least in some things. It's the same with friends. If your friends start acting a certain way, you will probably start acting the same way, at least a little bit. That's why it's so important to surround yourself with people that you respect and people that will have a good influence on you. If you surround yourself with people who do bad things, as Thaniel did, you'll be more likely to do those things too. But if you surround yourself with other Christians, those other Christians can help you grow in your relationship with God.
The guys that Thaniel were hanging out with wanted him to prove himself to them. What do you think about that? Do we have to prove ourselves to others?
In Matthew 4:1-11, Satan is tempting Jesus. Twice Satan prefaces his temptations by saying, "If you are the Son of God…" Satan is trying to get Jesus to prove Himself. Temptation often comes to us in this way. Someone says something like, “If you’re cool, you’ll do this.” Jesus, however, knows who He is. He’s God’s Son. He knows that He doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody. We are also God’s children and as long as we know that, we shouldn't feel like we have to prove ourselves to other people either. Be on your guard for Satan trying to make you prove yourself or make you look cool to others. Are you ever tempted to show-off for other people? If so, who are you tempted to show-off for? Why are you tempted to show-off for them? Remember that it doesn't matter what other people think of you. It only matters what God thinks of you.
*Time – 0:19:00
Tyree has been a way for 15 years. She hasn't called or written once in all that time. Her family didn't even know that she had a son. Tyree has also abandoned the Christian faith of the family and has not taken Thaniel to church. How does the family greet her when she finally comes home?
The family joyously welcomes her home. The only one that does not is her older brother, Big. Instead, Big acts a little resentful toward her. He seems angry that she went off in the first place. This is really a re-telling of Jesus' Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Luke 15:11-32 - "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. 13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. 25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' 28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' 31" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "
The younger son has gone off on his own, like Tyree did in the movie, and has done some pretty foolish things. Finally, when things get too bad, the son decides to go back home, just like Tyree did when things got bad with her and Thaniel. Like Brother Big, the oldest son in the parable resented his brother coming home, but the younger son's father welcomed him back, just like Tyree's family did. This is how God welcomes us when we come to Him. Like the prodigal son and like Tyree, we have wandered away from where we belong. In our sinfulness, we have wandered away from God. But when we realize that we really do need Him, He welcomes us home with open arms. Some people might stay angry with us for the mistakes we've made, like the older brother in the parable or Brother Big in the movie, but God is always ready to forgive us.
*Time – 0:40:00
Here we see Eli reading the Bible with Sugar. Eli's enjoying it. He's agreeing with it. What is it that is helping Eli enjoy reading God's Word?
The only reason that Eli started reading the Bible was because of Sugar. If Sugar hadn't started to be Eli's friend, Eli would never have picked up the Bible. That's the way it is with everyone. People need someone else to introduce them to the Bible and encourage them to read it and talk about it with them. Who first got you interested in reading the Bible? Will you help introduce others to it?
Notice also that it is only when Eli has been removed from his normal way of life that he is given the opportunity to read the Bible with Sugar. If he had been able to go work at his store in the city, he wouldn't be reading the Bible. He'd been running his store and doing the things that he normally does. But here, he has to take a break from the things that he normally does. Does the Bible ever tell us to take a break from our normal routine in order to spend time on spiritual things?
This aspect of the movie is really showing us the importance of keeping the Sabbath.
Exodus 20:8-10 - Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.
Every day, we go about our normal routines, but one day out of the week, God says is supposed to be different. On the Sabbath day, what we celebrate as Sunday, we don't go to school, we don't go to work, we don't play on our sports teams. Instead, we spend that time going to Church and spending time with God. It's important to make sure we set that time aside. Otherwise, we might get so busy doing all of our other activities that we forget to spend time with God.
Matthew 13:3-8 - Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Matthew 13:22 - The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful
Jesus is saying that there is a danger in that the concerns and interests that we have in daily life might drown out, or choke, our concern for God. That's why God told us to make sure we have a Sabbath. That's why Eli in the movie was only moved to read the Bible when he was taken away from the concerns and interests of his normal life. He needed to get away from all that in order to find the time to focus on God.
You know, Sunday is not the only time during the week that you can have a Sabbath, a special time set apart to focus on God. You can have a Sabbath daily, whenever you set aside some time to pray or read the Bible. That's a Sabbath. Whenever you come to church activities, that's a Sabbath. You're saying that during that time, you're not going to be focusing on God first and foremost.
*Time – 0:49:00
In this scene, we get a glimpse of a black church service. Their service looks a little bit different than ours. What do you think about that? Do you think we do church better than they do? Would you be comfortable going to a church like that?
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 – 4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
1Corinthians 12:12-21 – 12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"
Here, the Apostle Paul is telling us that some people might be different from each other, but they all still have the Holy Spirit. We don't all have to worship together. We don't all have to feel comfortable going to each other's church. We do have to recognize and respect the fact that they belong to the Body of Christ just as much as we do. Jesus' hand is just acting differently than His foot, which is okay.
*Time – 1:15:00
Tyree admits to Eli that she and Chris were having a romantic relationship and that Brother Big did not like that because Tyree was black and Chris was white. What do you think about people of different races having a romantic relationship with each other? Would you ever date someone that was a different race than you? What would people think if you did?
It might be hard to be romantically involved with someone of another race just because of the natural differences you might have with other cultures. You might like rock, and they might like rap. You talk a certain way; they talk another. They eat grits and okra, and you have no idea what grits or okra are. It might be difficult to romantically involved with someone of another race because of what other people might think or say. Some people don't think that's right because they're prejudiced against people of other races because of their differences. The bottom-line, however, is that as Christians, we have to keep in mind that God created everyone and that every single person, whether they're the same race as you or not, is made in the image of God and loved equally by God. That means that we also have to respect and love each other equally. There is nothing wrong with people of different races being friends with each other or dating or getting married.
*Time – 1:25:00
In this scene, we see Tyree enter the church after thinking about it for a while. She finally goes in and goes up to the front. What is she doing when she goes up?
Tyree has been feeling guilty about a lot of things in her life. She had also stopped going to church since she moved away from home. Now, Tyree is accepting Jesus back into her life. She is becoming a Christian.
Can you remember the time in your life when you accepted Jesus? Sometimes people who have always gone to church can't think of the specific time when they became a Christian. They just always have been. Other people who haven't gone to church that much or who didn't take church seriously enough can remember a specific time when they made that decision. Either way, you know you're a Christian if you believe that Jesus died so that you could be forgiven for your sins and go to Heaven when you die and you want to live the rest of your life following Jesus. If you're not sure whether you've made that decision, if you're not sure whether you have accepted Jesus into your life and you want to talk about that, I'll be happy to talk to you.
Find more discussion guides on my page for Bible Studies Based on Christian Movies!
Find more discussion guides on my page for Bible Studies Based on Christian Movies!