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Blockbuster: “Toy Story 4”

Teaching a biblical lesson and illustrating it with footage from Toy Story 4

Yes, the newest character to join Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep and the gang is a spork-turned-toy named Forky. Throughout the movie Forky has to answer some serious existential questions like, “Why am I alive?” “What is my purpose?” “What is my identity? Am I trash or am I a toy?” and most importantly, “If I’m a spork, why am I called Forky?”

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Blockbuster Lessons from the Movies

“Toy Story 4”

July 13-14, 2019

Introduction:

Good morning and welcome to New Hope Mililani! If we haven’t met, I’m Pastor Mark and I’m so glad you’re joining us for our [Time] Service. We are in the second week of our highly anticipated Blockbuster Lessons from the Movies series and today we’ll be talking about Toy Story 4. Just by a show of hands, how many of you watched it? This movie opened to $240 million worldwide, which was smaller than anticipated but it has quickly gained momentum and as of last week that number has tripled. I think there were many people who questioned the need for another Toy Story sequel, especially when Toy Story 3 seemed like a perfect ending to the franchise, but this latest installment proves that there are still some important questions and themes worth exploring. Check out this TV spot about Toy Story’s newest character.

[“Making a New Friend” TV Spot – 45 sec.]

Yes, the newest character to join Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep and the gang is a spork-turned-toy named Forky. Throughout the movie Forky has to answer some serious existential questions like, “Why am I alive?” “What is my purpose?” “What is my identity? Am I trash or am I a toy?” and most importantly, “If I’m a spork, why am I called Forky?”

I was shopping at Wal-Mart this past week and I happened to pass by the toy aisle. I looked at the Toy Story section and there were plenty of Woody toys, Buzz Light Years, Mr. Potato Heads, and Bo Peeps. But in the middle of the display were two empty racks. I looked at the label and it was Forky. I thought to myself, “Wow, out of all the toys, Forky is the only one who is sold out.” Later I read an article that Disney had to recall tens of thousands of Forky toys because their googly eyes kept popping off and were a choking hazard! What a confusing message to kids! They just spent the whole movie convincing us this spork is not trash but a toy and the moment we buy him they tell us to throw him away!

But there’s a reason Forky has quickly become one of the most lovable characters of Toy Story and it’s because we can all relate to him. Like this beloved-pronged toy all of us have asked the questions, “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” and “What is my worth?” We’ve all had to wrestle between the tension of running and hiding in what seems comfortable and familiar vs. opening ourselves up to receive love.

Ultimately, we want to know “If this spork with pipe-cleaners for arms and popsicle sticks for legs can be worthy of love maybe there’s hope for the rest of us. Well take your notes out with me because there are some very important Blockbuster lessons from Toy Story 4 that this spork can teach us about our purpose, our identity, and our worth.

The first thing you can write is, just like the little girl Bonnie in the movie,

  1. GOD TAKES OUR TRASH AND TURNS IT INTO HIS TREASURE.

In the movie, Forky goes through an amazing transformation! One minute he’s an eating utensil, often received with your mash potatoes from KFC, and the next minute he’s a living, thinking, sentient being. He has thoughts and emotions. He has questions and fears. One minute his purpose is to be used and then thrown into the trash, the next minute he belongs to someone. He is loved. And his purpose now is to bring joy to his creator. Did you know that the same thing happens to each of us the moment we come to Christ?

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person [Some translations say, “New Creation”]. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 

(2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT).

The Bible says when we put our faith in Jesus we belong to Him. We become part of His beloved family. We receive a new identity, a new purpose, and worth. The old life is gone and a new life has begun! One moment we were spiritual orphans but now we are children of God. One moment we were apart from God but now we belong to Him and are loved by Him. One moment our purpose was to go through life and then die but now our purpose is to bring joy to our creator. Just as Bonnie took the time to fashion Forky, the Bible says that God took the time to create each and every one of us.

10 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand, so that we would walk in them,” 

(Ephesians 2:10 AMP).

You and I didn’t come to earth on a conveyor belt from some factory in heaven all thinking and looking the same way! How boring that would be! No! When God created you He broke the mold! There’s a point in the movie where Forky gets lost and Bonnie become extremely upset. Her parents try to console her and at one point they say, “Don’t worry Bonnie, you can always make another Forky!” And her response is, “No! There’s only one Forky!” That’s exactly how your heavenly Father feels about you! When He made you He broke the mold. You are His workmanship, His work of art. Some translations say masterpiece. In the Greek the word is poeima, which is where we get the word poem. To God, you are a unique piece of poetry that He pens into His book of life.

Some of you may be thinking, “Yea but you don’t know my story. All my life I was told I was an accident. My parents didn’t even mean to have me.” Maybe others of you were told you were the result of a mistake. Some of you have been made to feel like you have no worth. Nobody wanted you. Maybe you’ve gone through life never feeling like you belonged. But the Bible says if you put your faith in Jesus you belong to Him. Your parents may not have expected you but God was sitting there in heaven intentionally crafting every detail of your life. You were no surprise to Him. He doesn’t make mistakes and He doesn’t make accidents. He brought you into this world to know Him and to be loved by Him. To Him, you’re one of a kind. We serve a God who takes our trash and turns it into His treasure.

A good question to ask your kids is: Why do you think Bonnie cared so much about Forky?

  1. OUR MISSION: NO TOY LEFT BEHIND.

The amazing thing is that this is how God feels about every single person on earth. His heart is that none shall be lost. But even though Forky has been given new life, a new purpose, and is loved like never before, he struggles to embrace his new identity. Because he’s spent his entire life believing he’s trash he feels the constant pull to return to what is comfortable and familiar – the trash can. So rather than receive Bonnie’s love and embrace the friendship of the other toys, Forky is constantly running away and trying to hide. As Forky wrestles with his new identity it is Woody who tries to help him realize his value and his worth. But at one point, Bonnie, her family, and all of the toys are driving in an RV when Forky decides to make a break for it (again) and jumps out of the window of the moving vehicle. In that moment Woody has a decision to make: Do I stay with my friends in the safety and comfort of the RV or do I go after Forky? It reminds me of a story in Luke 15,

1-3 By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” 

The Bible says Jesus was teaching and he began to attract the company of some men and women with bad reputations. Jesus often attracted people the world called “trash”. The religious leaders began to grumble about Jesus’ choice of company.

Their grumbling triggered this story.

4-7 “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue,” (Luke 15: 1-7 MSG).

The Pharisees avoided certain groups of people because they were afraid of how it would make them look. They were in the business of labeling people according to their status, their background, and their sins. They believed that by creating distance between them and the “wrong” people it would make them appear holier. Jesus had a completely different view of people. He saw everyone as a unique masterpiece, beloved by God, and He celebrated the rescue of every one.

Reminds me of the story of a little boy who painstakingly built a model sailboat. He spent many days and weeks building it. When it was finally completed he decided to test it on the open water, close to where he lived. The boy loved the boat and was very proud of what he had built. So he went down to the water. First, he made sure that the sails were set just right. Then he excitedly placed the boat into the water. With the greatest anticipation he gave it a gentle push and it took off. 

The wind immediately caught the sails and the boat cut through the water much better than expected. What a sight! The boat skimmed along so smoothly.

But then, unexpectedly, before the boy realized what was happening, the sailboat just kept going. It didn’t stop. He hoped the winds would shift but they didn’t. The sailboat started to go rapidly off into the distance. The boy quickly waded into the water after it with the hope of catching up to it, but it had gone out too far. The water was getting too deep and the boat faded off into the distance and disappeared. It was gone.

The boy returned home in tears and his mother asked, “What’s wrong? Didn’t it work?” The boy replied, “It worked too well. It sailed away.” Sometime later, the boy was walking through town and he passed a second hand toy store. There, in the window, he saw the sailboat he had labored to build. He went into the store, picked up the sailboat and said to the storeowner, “This boat is mine!” He held it in his arms and began to walk out of the store.

“Hold on there just a minute now,” said the storeowner. “I found that boat and it belongs to me now.” The boy replied, “It’s my boat. I made it! See? I scratched my initials here on the bottom.” “Sorry” said the storeowner. “If you want that boat, you’re going to have to pay for it.” The poor little guy didn’t have any money with him so he went home to see what odd jobs he could do in order to earn enough money to purchase back the sailboat. The boy worked hard. He saved his pennies. On the day he had enough money he went back to the store and bought back his boat. As he left the store, he held the sailboat close to his chest and said, “You’re my boat. You’re twice my boat, first, because I made you and second because I bought you.”

To the little boy, that sailboat was one of a kind. He could have very easily left the boat in the store and built another one. But he chose to redeem that one. He chose to do whatever was necessary to buy it back. It can be easy to hear Jesus’ story and think, “That shepherd doesn’t seem very smart. He still has 99 sheep. What’s one?” It can be easy to think, “There are 7 billion people on planet earth, what’s one person? He can always make another.” That’s where we’re wrong. You see, God made you one-of-a-kind. There has never been one like you and there will never be another. To Him, you’re a masterpiece. He took the time to fashion every part of your life and when we all, like sheep, went astray Jesus paid the ultimate price to purchase us back. That’s why when even one person is saved all of heaven celebrates. Because Jesus says, “You’re mine twice, first because I made you and second because I saved you.”

How do we determine the value of something? One way is to see what someone is willing to pay for it. I can list my 2006 Hyundai Tucson on Craig’s list for $50,000 but unless someone is willing to pay it, it’s not really worth 50K. How much was Jesus willing to pay to save just one lost lamb? In 1 Peter 1:18-19 it says, “18 For you know that your lives were ransomed once and for all from the empty and futile way of life handed down from generation to generation. It was not a ransom payment of silver and gold, which eventually perishes, 19 but the precious blood of Christ—who like a spotless, unblemished lamb was sacrificed for us.” Do you see how precious one life is to Jesus?

Another good question to ask your kids is: Why do you think Woody cared so much about saving Forky? (What made Forky so special?)

  1. LET JESUS WRITE HIS NAME ON YOUR SOUL.

[Toy Story 4 Clip: Woody and Forky – 45 sec.]

It’s never fully explained why Forky came to life. We are left to conclude that for ourselves. Perhaps it was Bonnie’s imagination that brought him to life. Perhaps it was her love for him. In this clip Woody explains that it was because Forky had Bonnie’s name written on His sticks that he was now a toy. Woody, of all the toys, knew the significance of having someone’s name written on the sole of his boot. It meant he was loved, it meant he belonged, and it reminded him that his purpose was to bring that one joy. Having one’s name on your sole made you special. That’s why Woody was willing to sacrifice everything to save this lost toy – because of how important he was to Bonnie.

The Bible says, in the same way, that Jesus has given His Name to each and every one of us.

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12 NIV).

The Bible says in Romans 10:13 that everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.

What’s so important about a name? A name is important because it is the title by which someone is known. I’ve learned as a Pastor that one of the quickest ways to bum someone out is to call them by the wrong name. Guilty. That’s why we have nametags. See, if someone came up to you and called you by the wrong name you would think, “This person doesn’t know me very well. That’s not my name.” But what if someone else came up to you right after that and called you by the same name? You might think, “Did they spell my name wrong? What’s going on?” If this happened day after day and people kept calling you by that name eventually you just might start answering to it. My daughter’s name is Evangeline but she goes by Coco. It’s just a name she chose for herself, she’s never seen the movie, but she kept calling herself that and now everyone calls her that. Names have a way of sticking even if it isn’t who you are. Some of you, the world has called you by a name that isn’t who you are. But because you’ve been called that name so many times you start to believe it’s who you are. The Israelites were enslaved for 400 years and even when God called them out of captivity they had a hard time believing they were who He said they were. How many of us know it’s not as important who God says you are as who you believe God says you are. God says you are His beloved, God says you are His masterpiece, God says you are worth dying for, He has given you His Name but unless you deny the false names and call upon His Name you will never see yourself for who you were made to be.

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