Reluctant Runaway, To Catch a Thief Series #2Reluctant Runaway, To Catch a Thief Series #2
Jill Elizabeth Nelson
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Why did Karen Webb abandon her husband and newborn baby? Is it coincidence that she disappeared just one day after irreplaceable Anasazi Indian artifacts were stolen from the University of New Mexico Museum of Art and Anthropology? When Boston-based security consultant Desiree Jacobs is called to the scene, her FBI agent boyfriend, Tony Lucano, warns her not to play amateur sleuth. When he joins her in Albuquerque on the copyrighted property pirating case that he is assigned to, it becomes obvious that their cases are connected. And the popular media ministry, The Inner Witness, has more than a little something to do with them. Desi and Tony are scrambling to connect the dots and figure out how Karen fits into the picture if it is not too late to save her. When the horrifying truth comes to light, can they even save themselves?

 Reluctant Runaway Discussion Questions: by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

1. Desi and Tony have jobs that carry them into danger. Tony struggles to balance his need to know that Desi is safe with his admiration for her just the way she is. Do you think this is a common conflict for people in a relationship with those who have highrisk careers, such as police officers, firefighters, or soldiers? Have you ever felt anxiety about your spouse because of a job? What coping skills would be of help in such a situation? Is this anxiety higher for men in relationships with women who have high-risk careers? Why or why not?


2. Communication is a critical factor in a healthy relationship. Desi feels shut out when Tony shies away from personal subjects. Is her feeling justified? Why does Tony prefer not to talk about himself? Should we always expect our loved ones to tell us everything? Or are there times when a matter should remain private? If so, how do we know when silence is a good thing?

Think of examples on either side of the communication issue, and share your experiences.


3. Desi fears that Tony’s career will take him away from her. In this fast-paced world, both men and women often work outside the home—sometimes by economic necessity, sometimes by choice. How can Christian couples balance the demands of the job with the needs of their families? What are your priorities in regard to faith, family, and work? How did you arrive at those priorities, and how well do you live by them?


4. Do you believe that unseen spiritual forces affect our lives and the lives of those in our families as a result of our attitudes and actions? Why or why not? If yes, how should Christians go about breaking the power of evil forces that would invade their lives and the lives of loved ones? Read Ephesians 6:10–12, and discuss what these verses have to say about this issue.


5. Karen Webb is a new Christian, a true believer. Is it easy for the young in the Lord to get sucked off track before they become established in their faith? How can more mature believers nurture and protect babes in Christ?


6. More and more often, mental illness is found to have a biological and treatable cause—as in the case of postpartum depression like Karen had. How can the church educate itself to deal with often misunderstood mental and emotional conditions with compassion, wisdom, and grace?


7. Max says her sister Jo has tried lots of “faddy spiritualities.” Desi answers that Jo is an example of a person who is always learning but never coming to know the truth. Read 2 Timothy 3:7. What does this mean? Do you know anyone like Jo? Brainstorm strategies for reaching this type of person.


8. What is the difference between a cult and a religion? Which definition does Reverend Archer Romlin’s movement fit the best, or does it contain elements of both? A religion implies a degree of acceptance and respectability, which a cult does not have. Does Romlin deliberately capitalize on similarities to Christianity in order to lend credibility to his brand of toxic faith? Romlin’s movement has a public face masking a sinister private inner circle. Which definition does the private inner circle fit?


9. Pete Cheama credits his tribal beliefs with “saving” him and regards Christianity as an evil system forced on his people. Why might he have come to that conclusion? How can Christians answer those who see Christianity as either harmful or just another option among many?


10. Snake Bonney and his motorcycle gang live in blatant sin and rebellion. They have no illusions about themselves as either respectable or righteous. Would Jesus go to Snake’s house for supper? How can we as individuals and as church bodies reach out to the Snake Bonneys of the world and show them God as He is, not as religious legalism has portrayed Him?


11. Chris Mayburn operates like his “real boss,” Archer Romlin—public respectability, private corruption. What motive do they share? What further motive does Mayburn voice for going along with the ritual in the kiva? Are there people who enjoy evil for its own sake? What makes people this way, or do they choose this path? Have you ever had to deal with someone like this? How did you do so?


12. Desperation drives people to justify doing the unthinkable. What “theology” does Hamilton Gordon concoct to make it right and even noble to kill and eat human flesh? Does this approach bear any resemblance to the mindset that glorifies suicide bombing? What is a Christian’s response to such ideologies?


13. What does the Bible teach about the consequencesof pivotal choices on our lives and future generations? Give Scripture verses and biblical examples. Discuss the choice that Max makes, which negates the “family curse” in her life. Do you think this choice will carry down positively in future generations? Would her choice necessarily be the right one for everybody in a similar situation? Why or why not? What choices do Desi and Tony make in the scene outside the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in order to stop evil from wreaking more havoc in the new generation they hope to start together? Have you ever felt as though your family bore a “family curse”? How has God helped you to overcome that struggle?


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