Life According to Toy Story

Jereca Humphries - 6/7/2020

Hey there! I’m Jereca and I am so excited to be coming to you from my house! In fact, I’m in Navy’s room. Navy is my 2yr old daughter and if she knew we were in here right now she would be so excited, and probably a tad bit jealous! She loves playing in her room with all these toys. Today I get to share a message about Jesus’ challenge for us to love and care for all people. People who know God’s love and people who don’t know God’s love. Ya know...given this opportunity to share what is close to my heart, in tandem with a movie franchise that I grew up with is pretty cool! As we continue our series Life According to Movies, I want to encourage you right now, wherever you are: physically, relationally, mentally or spiritually. I just want to encourage you. I want you to know that God has crafted a unique calling for your life and even if you are far from Him, he cares for you deeply. This encouragement is for me as well. A wife, cheering on (trying to) a husband battling cancer, a young mom who hasn’t a clue what to do but is crazy obsessed with her daughter, and a ministry leader trying to make Jesus proud. This message today is my heartbeat... It’s filled with stories of lost friends being found and truths about how deeply loved and cared for we are. We will learn so much today about the heart of Jesus through the lens of Toy Story! Before we get too far into this let’s get familiar with some of my friends here with me today (have the toys nearby). Woody and Buzz, along with the others, are the main characters in this movie where toys come to life when humans aren’t around. Andy, the owner of these toys, is like a childhood friend to me. We grew up together! In the first Toy Story movie, Woody and Buzz are rivals competing for the affection of Andy, but soon become friends who work together to be reunited with him after being separated. Toy Story 2, Woody, our main guy, gets stolen by a toy collector and is separated from his friends. Though at times, he doesn’t think that’s all so bad because he has the chance to live forever in a museum. In the third movie, our owner Andy, is about to leave for college. Fun fact, this was 2010, the same year I went off to college. So he was donating some toys to a daycare but wanted to hang on to the original gang. Though by accident, Woody, Buzz, and the gang were taken to the daycare as well. Finally, in our fourth movie we fall in love with Forkie, a spork turned best bud to the new toy owner Bonnie. These movies, though designed for kids, are known to make us adults laugh and cry. There’s a story in the Bible that I think goes along with the theme we find in Toy Story, it’s found in the book of Luke. Turn there with me or find it on your phone or just listen! It’s a short parable 1 found in Luke 15. This parable is the vehicle in which Jesus illustrated a spiritual truth… He used these everyday things that people could relate to to drive home a bigger point (sorta like how I’m using this movie series to drive home a deeper point). We understand movies! Read Luke 15 with me: Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. A few things here: The guys who weren’t so fond of Jesus hanging with “sinners” were the Religious type… they should’ve known better in my opinion. But regardless they don’t love the fact that Jesus is hanging out with “sinners”. - I don’t think those guys are the only ones to have this issue. I think WE TOO forget our “Why” at times. When we lose our why, we lose our way. As Christ followers, we are called to model our lives after Jesus. Live like he lived. Love like he loved. Hangout with people Jesus hung out with. We forget that we should be hangin with people who are different from us.. We should be with people, period. It’s our job as followers of Christ to help people find hope, in who we know is Jesus… that means we are going to have to spend time with those far from him. Our church EXISTS to help people find hope in Jesus and home in his church. We. Are. Going. To. Have. To. Spend. Time. With. People. Far. From. Jesus. We’re going to have to spend time with people who have no clue who Jesus is, people who don’t like Jesus. Why? Because we know that it’s the best thing for em! We know that there is something better in this life for them. We know that there is joy far beyond what they are currently experiencing. We know that there is restoration and healing for broken families, and there’s hope in desperate times. Everyone deserves to experience this hope. You know that’s really why I am speaking to you right now, in this moment. I want you to have a new found passion and fire within you to love people and to share hope.. Do whatever it takes to love people - Jesus did. Woody and Buzz had a rough beginning. They didn’t see eye to eye. Mainly, Woody didn’t love that Buzz was new in town. Woody was insecure and thought that Buzz would become Andy’s favorite toy. Woody spent a lot of time barking orders at Buzz… telling him what to do and how to do things. Treated Buzz poorly and eventually pushed him out the window. It was in that moment that Woody realized he went a bit too far. 2 Hmm.. this kinda sounds familiar. Do we do this with people? We think because our intentions are good…. Then we have the right to speak into people's lives. Before we’ve given the relationship a chance to develop. Here me in this… if we want people to follow us into a relationship with Jesus, we HAVE to intentionally invest into that relationship. We can’t just start bossing them around and telling them how to live. In every relationship, we have to earn the right to be heard. Otherwise we’re just shouting from a megaphone unsolicited advice. Nobody wants that… and no one responds to that. Let me continue to share my heart… I feel like I have to acknowledge what’s been going on in our country. My Facebook and Instagram are flooded with posts on division and the breakdown of humanity. And I just feel sick. I feel heart broken. I see hurting people. People that look different than me, who have different stories than me, and people who have different struggles than me. But just because we are different, doesn’t mean we are not similar. Woody saw Buzz as different. He looked different, spoke different, and had different talents. He could do things that Woody couldn’t. He came from a different place. Before there was a relationship there was tension because all Woody could see were the differences. Listen, regardless of skin tone, there is more that unites us than divides us. But to really understand that kind of truth and then to truly try to love and care for those different than me, I have to have a relationship with those different than me. Before I can share the gospel of Jesus, I need to show the gospel of Jesus. And that’s when change and transformation takes place - when the Gospel message is LIVED out. This is not always easy or quick work! This takes time…. Sometimes this takes years. About the time when Toy Story 2 was coming out, so about 20 years ago, I met Danielle….. Danielle and I met in the 2nd grade - different family backgrounds, different lifestyles. But we didn’t see the difference as kids. We were just buddies. From the age of 7 until now… It was my heart's desire for Dan to know and love Jesus…. I often prayed for this. I cared about her too much though to rush the process or try to push it on her. You can imagine the joy I felt when last spring Danielle decided to be baptized! She was ready to have a relationship with my friend Jesus! I can’t imagine what could have happened if I tried to push Danielle into religion instead of relationship… I’m so thankful that God used a 20 year process to show Danielle that I cared about her… John 15:13 talks about Jesus’ love for us, there is no greater love than this, that someone lay down his life for a friend. Jesus did that for us, y’all. Jesus calls us friends! Y’all this season, the last few months, has been an outstanding time to develop relationships with people you live near… If it hasn’t yet, get started. Invite people over to hang outside, to 3 watch service together on the weekend. If you have been around whitewater for some time - hopefully you have heard us talk about the importance of being a good neighbor and shining the light and hope of Jesus on the streets you live on. We want you to be For your Street. Get to know the people around you, maybe they know Jesus, maybe they don’t. I have some amazing neighbors, now friends, that I’ve had the chance to get to know better because of this slower pace we are living.They have given us hope and have pointed us to Jesus through their actions this season.. Just taking really good care of us. It’s been so encouraging to see Jesus working through them - in simple yet profound ways. I’m learning that a true sense of community is being able to give AND receive. I’m excited to share Jesus to others in our neighborhood alongside them. So spend time with people… Jesus did. Jesus, After being judged for hanging with people who didn’t look or act like him - explains to the Pharisees that we must do whatever it takes to go after what is lost. We leave 99 sheep to go after the one that wandered. To go after the one that’s in danger! I saw this post on Facebook, maybe you saw it too, that said: “ Jesus in Luke 15. 100 sheep, but one goes missing. Jesus leaves the 99, and goes after the one. The 99 say “But.. what about us? Don’t we matter?” Of course the 99 still matter, but they’re not the ones in danger. The one is.” In the first Toy Story, Woody and Buzz are separated from their owner, Andy. They find themselves in danger quite a few times. But these two did whatever it took to get back home to Andy. The other toys did their part as well! At times they had to leave behind the comforts of home… But Woody and Buzz were worth it. We too will have to leave earthly comforts behind to go after what’s lost. Yes, I know, it’s so much easier to hang with people we already know, it’s easier to just be kind when it’s convenient. But if we are actually sold out to becoming more like Jesus, we are going to have to be uncomfortable. Our own personal “lostness”, our sin nature, will always reveal itself when we get stuck in seasons of comfort and complacency. Our hearts are going to have to break over the things that break his heart. Our hearts will break when we see injustice, broken relationships, division, because these things break his heart! Once we reflect Him better - showing off his kindness, grace, and mercy - it will be our JOY to go after what’s lost. It will be our MISSION to seek those far from God. To seek justice, healing, and unity. We are called to love people, friends. Here’s the thing we need to remember too… WE have also been in the same boat as Woody and Buzz, and as the sheep from Luke 15. We have been lost. We are lost! We are far from 4 God, in danger, no hope… If you’re thinking you haven’t been here before let me remind you that we are humans. Our sin separates us from God. Our human nature keeps us distant from him. We have no hope outside of him. Romans 5:8 says that Jesus demonstrated His love for us in this: while we were still sinners He died for us! We are so undeserving of this love. We sang about it in our worship set earlier - We don’t deserve it, but he gave himself away. For us! I wanna share this story that just makes me smile - the story of Forkie . Remember I said at the beginning we had a spork who became the dearest toy to Bonnie in Toy Story 4? Bonnie arrived on her first day of kindergarten, I love kindergarteners by the way, and she was hesitant and a bit shy. Woody went with her and was feeling her pain ( watching her from the cubby)… So at craft time he gave her some special materials FROM THE TRASH and this is when she made Forkie…. Throughout the whole movie - Forkie thinks he belongs to the trash - he doesn’t see his worth, but Woody is ON MISSION to save Forkie because he is so important to Bonnie . Picture of precious forkie You may think you’re trash… I’ve had thoughts like this before. Not worthy enough……. not good enough…. Not pretty enough….. not smart enough…. Don’t provide enough….don’t do enough, don’t have enough… Listen - I don’t care what your parents said, an ex said, whoever said these things to you - It’s not true! Stop believing these things. You are God’s masterpiece, HE made YOU. You are valued and cared for by HIm. We are God’s favorite. Just like Bonnie adored forkie. We are adored. LIke the 1 sheep who wandered. We don’t have to be far from safety, separated from Him, or defenseless. This is what I love about God. He’s compassionate and he values each and every person. He values you AND me. It’s an all out search to find us and to have a relationship with us. AND He doesn’t rebuke us for being lost, He carries us back home. Remove maybe? Or does this fit better somewhere else? Maybe you have a similar story to my neighbor Danielle. About a year ago she was so tangled in depression and anxiety. She lost both of her grandparents within a short time period which left her feeling broken hearted and led her to have severe anxiety. She spent time talking with family and friends, therapists, doctors, she was desperately looking for help. She said that every night she knew she needed to turn to God and that she knew this push back to Him was from Him! He was showing her the path she needed , and she wasn’t going where he told her, but finally he led her to a safe place where she could develop their relationship and I’m so thankful that place was whitewater. I’m more thankful that she followed His prompting and made the decision to have a relationship with Him. Danielle was lost… she had no direction. Now she has a hope in Jesus that is stronger than it’s ever been. And she wants to share that hope! 5 After sharing the story on the lost sheep, Jesus continued his message and shared a story about a lost son. There was a father who had two sons. One of his sons wanted his inheritance early… the father agreed and that son took all that he had, all that money, and went to a different city. He spent all of his money partying, just wasting it. Once he was out of money, there was a famine in the land. So he found a job working for a farmer… wasn’t the most glorious job.. And found himself wanting to eat what the pigs were eating - he was starved. He finally came to his senses and remembered that at his father's house, even the servants were eating well! So he decided to go back home… Once he arrived home - his father was filled with love and compassion. Welcoming his son back and even throwing a party because he was so happy. I wish I could continue on and tell you how his brother responded to his homecoming… You know why I love this story? The Father celebrated when the son came home. He didn’t yell at him, saying how disappointed he was. Like I probably would have. Guess what, Jesus celebrates when lost things are found! He still does! He is filled with joy and throws a party when lost things are found. He doesn’t ever say to us: “ I can’t believe you did that.” “I don’t want you back after what you did” “ I can’t forgive you for that” “ You left me!” He doesn’t say any of that. Instead - He’s filled with Joy because what was lost is found. Think about the celebrations the toys had when one of them was found. Hugs, kisses, jumping up and down! Obviously, this was before Covid-19. By the way, I can’t wait for the day when I can give y’all a hug again! You guys, there is so much joy to be found when people realize they belong to a heavenly father who cares for them so deeply! Isn’t there great joy in a sense of belonging. Our characters experience this! Each toy had Andy’s name etched on the bottom of their foot and were overjoyed to belong to such a fun loving owner. We have hardly scratched the service of this radical love that Jesus has for people… but I want to make sure you walk away today knowing that there is nothing that can separate you from this crazy love. With that - there should be nothing that separates or stops YOU from loving people . No race, no gender, no status, no difference, nothing. Buzz was different than Woody… that didn’t stop Woody from doing what was right and restoring that relationship and bringing Buzz back home. In Toy Story 4 - Woody and Forkie are once again separated from the rest of the toys and seeking advice from Buzz, Rex - the toy dinosaur asks “What would Woody do?!” And Mr. Potato head responded with “Jump out of a moving vehicle”! There was nothing these toys wouldn’t do to save another. 6 Romans 8: 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[ b ] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I’m so thankful for that. I’m thankful that my mistakes, shortcomings and failures don’t keep me from having a relationship with our God. Please stop letting things get in the way of your relationships with others, this will hinder your ability to love people well. I know that there are relationships that need to be restored… forgiveness that needs to be shared. Write down a few names in this moment who you can share the good news of Jesus with. People you know, used to know, or want to know. Start praying for them. What do you need to do? Who do you need to call? Who do you need to stand up for? Don’t let things stand in the way of loving people. If you follow Jesus it's our job to reflect him here on this earth. People will be given the chance to see Jesus through you. Through how you love and care for them. Don’t let things get in the way. I’m encouraged by the familiar tune of “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” by Randy Newman, also the theme song of these great movies. The series kicks off with this song and ends with it as well. I can still remember the feeling I had in the theater when this song came on during the opening scene of the fourth movie - it had been 9 years since a Toy Story movie had been released and we sensed this was the last one. Hopefully we’re wrong. :) Anyway - this classic tune is how I’d like to wrap up our time together. As you listen to this song, kids sing along/adults too, I want to encourage you all to consider who YOU can be a friend to. Who has a rough road to travel… who is far from home. Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “that’s me” and I’d say, just remember that you have a friend in a savior who gave up His life to have a relationship with you. Be encouraged, friends. But also, be encouragers!

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