Christian Lessons from the Movie Moana

A Walt Disney Animation Studios movie called Moana was released in November 2016.  The film tells a story about a brave young woman who sets out on an adventure to save her family.  She is the daughter of a chief of a Polynesian village.  Moana has to sail across the ocean to find a demigod named Maui to return the heart of Te Fiti, that he stole, to save her people.  Maui, is a demigod who can change into any animal as long as he has his fishhook.  Moana and Maui must find his fishhook before sailing to Te Fiti.  The voyage is long and dangerous.  There are many lessons to be learned through this film and these characters.

When Maui stole Te Fiti’s heart, Te Ka’s darkness poisoned the island.  The village is running out of food, and the curse is destroying trees.  Moana’s father does not allow her to venture beyond the reef due to the dangers of the sea.  Her grandmother, Tala, gives her the heart of Te Fiti and encourages her to live out her dreams.  Tala tells Moana that she was chosen to save the village and shows her a secret cave with ships hidden inside.  The cave reveals her families past as they were voyagers.  After her grandmother’s passing, she followed after her calling and left the village to find Maui and return the heart to Te Fiti.

As Christians, we are all born with a gift, a calling from God, to do something for His kingdom.  We are all made for a purpose, and we must seek that calling.  Just like Moana, we must be brave and set out on our adventure to the unknown.  Moana was not afraid to fail, because she knew she had to save her family.  She had a destiny she must fulfill and, with courage, she fulfilled it.  Now, she did not succeed by traveling alone.  She found Maui, the demigod, and, with much resistance, he went with her to Te Fiti.  You see, when we are on our journey of learning who we are, God is guiding us in the right direction.  Maui was a skilled sailor, and guided the boat in the right direction.  Moana learned from Maui how to be a skilled sailor.  It is no different than us.  We learn from God the more we spend time with Him.  We learn His ways and His character.  Moana began to trust Maui and learned from Him on how to be strong and confident.

Moana taught Maui a lesson as well.  In this story, Maui must learn from His mistakes and face his past.  Just like in 1 Samuel 17:1-25:7 (David and Goliath), Maui had to face a giant whom he was fearful of, the volcanic demon.  The demon could throw fireballs from the palms of her hands.  After one attempt to get past the demon, Maui’s fishhook, which makes him a demigod, is cracked.  He is afraid to lose his powers, so he abandons Moana on the ship and flies off as an eagle.

Moana is defeated and alone in the ocean.  Her past grandmother came to her as a stingray to remind her of her calling, but also gave her the choice to go home.  Her grandmother would guide her home if that’s what Moana decided.  With courage, Moana decided to return the heart of Te Fiti on her own.  She repaired the ship and headed back to Te Fiti to defeat the volcanic demon.  In the middle of the battle, Maui shows up and distracts the demon while Moana attempts to return the heart.  During the battle, Maui’s fishhook is broken.  In the meantime, Maona finds that Te Fiti is missing and figures out that volcanic demon is Te Fiti.  She courageously holds out the heart, and the demon sees it from afar.  Te Fiti runs toward Moana with speed and intimidation.  Moana doesn’t run, but, yet, she gently places her head onto the demon’s forehead showing compassion.  She then returns the heart into the demon’s eye, and, immediately, the island and the ocean is cured from the curse.  Te Fiti restores Maui’s fishhook and then lays to rest at Te Ka’s Island.  Whatever damage Maui’s caused, it was healed and brought back to it’s original state.

Just like this story, God gives us chance after chance to make things right.  We cannot change the past, but we can change our future.  Just like Maui, he caused the curse of the island and the ocean by stealing the heart of Te Fiti.  Te Fiti held a grudge and became a “monster”.  Think about it….when we hold grudges against someone or something, then we become like a monster with our vengeance.  We may not have the ability to throw fireballs at someone or something, but we do it with our words and action.  Once Te Fiti saw her heart, she melted, and turned into a beautiful island again.  She restored Maui’s power by fixing his fishhook.  Te Fiti forgave Maui, and Maui was grateful for her gesture.  As Christians, God calls us to forgive.  A grudge only makes us do irrational things which only brings more hurt.  I encourage all of us to stop throwing fireballs at each other and start acknowledging our wrongs.  Let us heal hearts; not break them.

Throughout this movie, it shows us:

  • sacrifice (Moana: leaving home)
  • love (Moana: family)
  • life’s purpose (Moana: her calling)
  • bravery (Moana and Maui: the unknown and facing their fears)
  • defiance (Maui: resistance to go with Moana to Te Fiti)
  • acceptance (Maui: returning to save Moana’s village)
  • grudge (Te Fiti: wanting her heart back)
  • compassion (Moana: showing compassion to Te Fiti)
  • healing (Moana and Maui: healing Te Fiti’s heart)
  • forgiveness (Te Fiti: restoring Maui’s power)

God is all these things and much more!

APPLICATION

I challenge you this week to face your fears and walk out your destiny.  What has God called you to do?  Is fear is getting in the way?  I pray you find the faith to step out and go on a wild adventure with God.  He will guide you every step of the way!

I also challenge you to read the list above and see what areas you struggle in.  I encourage you to pray with God over these matters.   If you need to forgive or ask for forgiveness, I pray you find the courage to confront the issue face-to-face.  If you do not know your purpose in life, I pray you seek God for answers.  Just like the fishhook giving Maui powers, praying to God is the most powerful thing you can do, because prayer heals and restores.

 

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How to Overcome Rejection

Studies show that rejection affects the physical pathways in our brain (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Rejection is a deep rooted issue that people face every day, and it stirs up our emotions to make us think negative about ourselves or to something.  It can be defined as not “just an emotional feeling, [but] a message that alters what you believe about yourself” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Rejection has the power to change who we are as an individual.  It can change the way we think about a situation.  It is a physical pain that reminds us of loss and feeling unwanted.  “Rejection can make [us] question [God’s] goodness” in our lives (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).

If we don’t want rejection to ruin our lives, we need to have a new perspective on how we handle rejection.  In the Spiritual realm, we can think of it as a blessing.  Lysa TerKeurst stated that “today’s disappointment is making room for tomorrow’s appointment” (Uninvited).  We do not always understand why God says no to our prayers or requests when we want it so badly, but we do not want to miss God’s opportunities by always remembering the disappointments of our past.  We never move past the disappointment if we always ask “why” questions rather than “what” questions.  “‘What’ questions increase our ability to become more self-aware, while ‘why’ questions only focus on things out of control (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  When we ask “why” we see what we lack rather than what is ahead of us.

So…”What’s a brokenhearted person to do?” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  How do we overcome rejection?  We “praise, seek, and look to God” for comfort.  We “experience, learn from, and draw near to God” in every situation (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Rejection does not label us, and it is not a permanent condition.  It does not keep us from succeeding in our future; It just means we had a setback.  “If we give [rejection] the power to define us, it will haunt us long-term.  But if we only allow it enough power to refine us, the hurt will give way to healing” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  TerKeurst also states to “not let [rejection] destroy [us but to] use it in good ways to make [us] stronger” (Uninvited).  We need to use it to empower us to become better.  “Don’t let today’s reaction become tomorrow’s regret” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  What this statement is saying is do not allow your emotions to get in the way of wisdom.

Our past rejections do not have to define our future.  It is our choice to change rejection for the good.  Maybe God wanted you to take another path than the one you prayed about.  Maybe God allowed you to experience a hurtful situation so you could understand compassion towards others.  “The enemy loves to take our rejection and twist it into a raw, irrational fear that God really doesn’t have a good plan for us” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).  Do not believe that lie, because “God is always at work” in our lives.  “He is a present, loving Father, aware of our deepest hurts and even our deeper needs” (Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst).

Even if you don’t hear His voice, He is there!
Even though you don’t feel His touch, He is there!
Even if you lost your faith, He is there!

APPLICATION

Yes, rejection hurts, but we can overcome it through Jesus Christ.  We are all overcomers through Him.  We do not have to live in defeat by our own insecurities.  Rejection is only a temporary setback to make us stronger.  Our past hurts and failures do not have to hinder our future.  We get up, dust ourselves off, and walk towards Jesus.  Jesus is our Healer and our Comforter.  He is the One who guides us towards our future with confidence and self-worth.

I encourage all of us to remove the labels in our lives and let God redefine who we are through His promises and love.  We live in victory when we live for Christ!  Our success comes from Him.  It does not come from our past.  It does not come from the devil.  It only comes from God.

Letters To God

I’m currently in a Bible study at my church called, “Goliath Must Fall” by Louie Giglio.  In one of the weekly exercises it asked me to write a letter to God.  I could write about anything–my feelings, my hurt, my joy, my love for Him, etc.  No limitations.  As I was writing this letter to God, I was reminded of how sweet His presence is, and how I missed spending more time with Him.  I would like to take a moment to share with you what I wrote:

“Dear Daddy,

I know I do not express my love for you as much as I should.  I know I fail you so many times.  But, yet, you always have your arms stretched out whenever I need you.

You know my needs.  You know my hurt.  You know my every tear, and you wipe them away one-by-one.  I do not deserve your love, but, yet, you always give love without hesitation.

You know the shame I carry.  You know the loneliness I feel.  You know the secrets that I keep tucked inside for no one to know.  But, yet, you still love me.  I’m an imperfect being loved by You.  You never expect me to be perfect.  You simply ask me to come as I am — flawed and broken.

In this moment, I feel you holding me and whispering: “You are going to be okay.  Yes, life is a bit confusing, but, I tell you, you do not have to have everything figured out.  I will guide your future, and it will be everything you dreamed of plus more.  Trust Me my Child.  Now, put your feet onto Mine and let Me lead.  I know the way!'”


APPLICATION

I encourage you to write a letter to God and express how you feel about Him.  Acknowledge who He is in your life.  Tell God your troubles, and how you feel about life.  Cry out to Him in humbleness and gratefulness.  Be transparent.  Remember, there are no limitations.

What Is A Blessing?

Many people think a blessed person is someone who has it all — lives in a big house, drives an expensive car, has the best job, and so forth.  This way of thinking is distorted.  If we see a blessing just as material things then we miss a blessing in our lives, because we compare our lives to others.

The word “blessing” means “a favor or gift bestowed by God or the invoking of God’s favor upon a person.”  It also is defined as “approval” and “good wishes” (www.dictionary.com/browse/blessing).  A blessing comes in many forms.  It can come directly from God.  Or a blessing can come from family members, friends, or complete strangers through God working in them.

Before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the world was full of chaos and hate.  After the hurricane, we saw people working together.  Complete strangers risking their lives to save others.  As Christians, we need to be watchful on how we say we are blessed.  I am guilty of this as well.  I said, “I was blessed to have minor damage in my home.  A home I can still live in after the storm.”  But, we all have to understand those who have lost everything due to the storm, they are still blessed.  God protected their family, and, in the past three weeks, people have seen complete strangers help them rebuild their home.  In Philippians 4:19 declares that “MY God will supply every need to yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  In Isaiah 41:10, God says “fear no, for I am with you; be no dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  “And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16).  I encourage everyone who is going through hardship to declare these Scriptures over your life.

Many who have lost their homes have asked, “What shall we eat?” “What shall we drink?” What shall we wear?” (Matthew 6:30-33).  They have lost all their belongs.  They have lost all their food.  They only have the clothes on their back.  But, be encouraged today.  God clothes you every day with His blessings and righteousness.  Churches and business have opened their doors to give food, clothes, furniture, and toiletries to those in need.  God put it on their hearts to bless you with items that you have lost.  It may be heartbreaking and difficult to ask for help, but never turn down a blessing.

There may be some who are too broken to see God’s blessing in their lives.  And, that is okay.  Having any kind of loss is devastating and finding hope again may take time.  Sometimes all we can do is get on our knees and cry out to God for help.  Through prayer we all will find “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).  Psalm 144:2 is a prayer of declaration in time of need: “He is My steadfast love and My fortress, My stronghold and My deliverer, My shield and He in whom I take refuge.”  This Scripture not only gives you hope again, but it also gives you renewed strength through Christ.  Matthew 5:4 states the “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Let these words wash over you and remind you that you are not alone.  God is ALWAYS with you.

And, always remember that a blessing is not all about material things.  A blessing is simply God loving on us through a prayer being answered.  His continuous protection over your life and family.  A blessing is helping people in need.  We are blessed every day through Christ.

 

How To Be Used By God Challenge

If you completed this sentence, what would you say? “More than anything I want God to use me to _________________________.” (“The End of Me” by Kyle Idleman)  You don’t have to answer on my page. It is just to challenge all of us to seek God more.

I also want to challenge all of us to not just long or dream about God using us for His glory. I want us to pray that God equips us to use us in that way. And, for us to believe God can.

 

What Is The Norm?

As Texas and Louisiana is healing and rebuilding their cities from Hurricane Harvey, it reminds me of how things have changed in just a matter of a few weeks.  Before Harvey, we went about our daily lives caring about our own needs and protesting about what offends us.  Individuals did not care about hurting others with his/her words or actions.  That was the norm.  It was normal to see hate in this world, and, for some, they became numb to it.  We just turned off social media or the TV shaking our heads in disgrace.  We never thought to make a difference by putting more love into this world by showing who Jesus is.  We stayed silent and let hate crimes happen all over this nation.  Sadly, I was one of those people who stayed silent.

After Hurricane Harvey hit my little town in Southeast Texas, everything changed.  The hate crimes were not getting the attention on social media and the news.  We were seeing devastation and heartache.  People leaving their homes for safety.  Animals, of all kinds, being rescued out of flood waters.  Ordinary people using their own boats to save those around them.  We saw a nation come together in prayer for those affected by the hurricane.  No more hate crime seen on social media; instead, we saw the hands and feet of Jesus doing their part.  Now, this should be the norm: seeing people help people.  People put down their electronics and started paying attention to the hurt around them.  They did not silence the cries of the help; they put on their rubber boots and got messy.  They stepped into the flood waters and risked their lives for others.  This is what it means to serve others.

If you want to serve, expect to get a little messy, because once you put your heart out there, you will be a part of their messy world.  The world that does not look so neat and tidy.  The world that is shedding tears for their loss.  The stories that can be told about Hurricane Harvey are heart-wrenching and filled with hopelessness.  But, as we have seen, we can build others up by being their for them in time of need.  We can show them their is hope again by extending our hands to those who are hurting.

The norm should always look like the picture of people coming together to rebuild hearts and cities one day at a time.   Let’s put down our phones, tablets, and the TV remote and start being the hands and feet of Jesus.  Let us not forget those who have lost everything and help them rebuild their lives again.  Let’s not be afraid to get a little messy to help someone who needs it the most.

And, I will leave you this….  Natalie Grant, an amazing Christian artist, sings a song called, “Be One”.  Here are some lyrics to encourage all of you to be a part of something bigger than yourself:

It’s time to get our hands dirty
Be love there’s a whole lot of hurting
Calling all hearts
Calling all hands
Calling all feet to take a stand
Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come
When we can be one
When we can be one

When we can be one
A little somethin’
Might feel like nothin’
But in His hands it’s all we’ll ever need
To speak life to the broken
Watch the blind eyes open
It’s who He’s calling you and me
To be

We can be the change, be the hope
We can be the arms that don’t let go
We can be a light in the dark
We are, we are where it starts

 Let us be the “new norm” by showing our love for others each passing day!

Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

I apologize for not writing in the past few weeks.  I live in the Southeast Texas area where Hurricane Harvey dumped 48″ of flood water on us.  It has been a rough past seven days being stuck in my home for over five days.  No power for over 24 hours.  No water in the city until further notice.

After watching videos and seeing pictures of the devastation, it breaks my heart.  Friends and family member have lost everything.  In just one moment, life stopped and tears fell on everyone’s faces all over the world.   Hurricane Harvey is one of the worst storms in history.  For those who were impacted by the storm will be changed forever.

In one week, the nation saw people coming together rescuing complete strangers from their homes.  Animals, of all kinds, were being rescued by boat.  The people in the area used their own personal boats and trucks to get to the areas that needed help.  Ordinary people being heroes.  I am proud to say I am a Texan.  A tragedy hit and rather than thinking about our own needs, people went out to serve others.  They were the hands and feet of Jesus!

No matter how each person was impacted by the storm, please know you are still blessed.  God has not forgotten about you.  He is right by your side and loves you unconditionally.  Yes, it will take time to rebuild, but Texas will come out stronger than before the storm hit.  What the devil meant for bad; God turned it into good.