Machine Gun Thoughts

A 10 part Bible course drawing on the film Machine Gun Preacher. Can be adapted for shorter or longer use. Useful for personal study as well as groups.

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An extract from the book

Part 1: A Change of Direction

Clip: Start the film at 16 minutes, 15 seconds and play to 20 minutes, 31 seconds

Having come out of prison Sam goes back to his old life of drugs, drink and guns. However, things really fall apart when he and his friend Donnie pick up a drifter who tries to mug them in their car. They fight back and it appears they have killed him. They dump his body by the road and drive away. This is a serious wake-up call for Sam.

1. Having hit rock bottom Sam prepares to visit his wife Lynn’s church. Have a look at the promises in Psalm 40 verses 1 to 3. With his life in bits Sam surely needed this kind of fresh start. However, when the time comes he sits on the bed reluctant to go because, as he puts it, ‘I don’t got no good shoes, Lynn.’ Sam feels that he must conform to attend church. He must look right. What do you think about this? Do you think this attitude still prevails today?

2. This tough fighter is afraid and embarrassed when it comes to going to church. He sits in the pew nervous and uptight. His leg jitters constantly. Have you encountered this kind of reaction in yourself or others?

3. The preacher talks about John the Baptist, Jesus’s wild cousin. Sam could be seen as this kind of character – a wild man for God. John the Baptist was probably not your conventional Christian. He may well have been embarrassing to know and probably did not fit in too well. Do you have set ideas about what a Christian should be? Do you know any folks who are a little like Sam or John the Baptist?

4. Sam’s family want him to stand up in church and go forward to be baptised. Sam feels this pressure but is reluctant. Is it harder do you think for men to stand up like this in public? Is it more embarrassing? Does it seem like a public display of weakness perhaps? Couldn’t Sam have knelt at home and quietly committed himself to God? Many people have.

5. We don’t hear Sam confess faith or repentance and we don’t hear any form of testimony from him, yet his change of direction is sincere. Repentance means to change direction, to go another way. Jesus once told a parable about two sons, where one son said all the right things but actually did nothing. The other son said all the wrong things but then changed his mind and did what he had been asked to do. Actions and words. Do you think we put too much emphasis on words sometimes? On saying the right things? Have a look at Matthew 21 verses 28 to 31.

6. Did the clip from the film throw up any other thoughts you’d like to mention?

7. Prayer:

Lord, thank you that when we hit rock bottom we can always look to you. Thank you that you understand, you don’t judge us by outward appearances, but instead you see each of us as unique and individual. Help us to know how best to follow you each day, and help us to link our words with our actions.

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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