Monthly Archives: May 2009

Capture Every Thought (GAME)


Time
30-45 minutes

Description
This game helps participants understand how important it is to capture every thought and take it captive before Christ.  It is loosely based on the game of Othello ® (Gabriel Industries, Inc.) or Reversi.

Audience
Children, youth

Materials
•    Gameboard (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    Game pieces (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    “Starting Positions” Gameboard (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    “Move #1, #2 & #3” slide (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    Glue stick
•    Scissors or cutting board
•    (Optional) Prizes for winners

Preparation
•    Make copies of the “Debrief Questions” page at the end of this lesson (one copy per table group).
•    Print copies of the game boards (1 for every two people)
•    Print copies of the game pieces (60 for ever two people – 1 page makes 60 pieces)
•    Print one copy each of the “Starting Positions” slide and the “Move #1, #2 & #3” example slide.
•    Fold the game piece pages along the blue line that divides the two colors.  Crease the page well along this fold.
•    Use a glue stick to stick the two pages together.  Make sure that the entire surface is covered.
•    Use the scissors or the cutting board to cut out each of the rectangular game pieces.  (They should now be a different color on each side.  Cut closely to the rectangles, because if the pieces are too big, they are difficult to flip on the gamebaord.)
•    Practice the script.

Procedure
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
•    “The Bible has a lot to say about what we think.”
•    “Our minds are a major battlefield for the spiritual war between Satan and God.”
•    “God wants our minds to be filled with good things that honor Him, because He knows that these things will bless us and help us live fulfilling lives.”
•    “Satan wants our minds to be filled with bad things that dishonor God, because he hates God and hates that we are made in God’s image.”
•    “Satan knows that he can’t do anything to diminish God, so he tries to hurt the Creator through His creation – and that’s us.”
•    “Let’s read a few of the Scriptures related to our thoughts.”  (Have volunteers read the following Scriptures out loud.)
o    Romans 8:6 (mind of sinful man is death; mind of the Spirit is life)
o    Proverbs 15:26 (the Lord detests thoughts of the wicked but is pleased by thoughts of the pure)
o    Isaiah 55:8-9 (God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts)
o    Colossians 3:2 (set minds on things above, not on earthly things)
o    Philippians 4:8 (think about excellent, praiseworthy….things)
o    2 Corinthians 10:5 (take every thought captive)
•    “So, we are to think about the things God thinks about and not about sinful things.”
•    “This is really hard to do, and it takes a lot of prayer and practice, because Satan is going to try to mess up our thoughts as much as possible.”
•    “He whispers evil thoughts to us from the spiritual realm, and if we aren’t careful, we accept his thoughts as our own.”
•    “That’s terribly dangerous, because the Bible says that everything Satan ever says is a lie.  Lying is his native language and the only language he speaks.”  (John 8:44)
•    “2 Corinthians 10:5 says that we are to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.”
•    “This means that when we have a bad thought or even a thought we aren’t sure about, we should ask God about it.”
•    “If is something true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, God will confirm it for you.”
•    “But if it’s a lie from Satan, God will replace it with the truth.”
•    “We’re going to play a game that will help us to remember to take every thought captive to Christ.”  (Divide group into pairs, and hand out the gameboards and game pieces for each pair.)
•    “You have a gameboard in front of you.  It has 64 spaces on it.”
•    “You also have 64 colored game pieces.  They are blue on one side and yellow on the other.”
•    “Each person should take 30 game pieces for himself and decide if he wants to be either blue or yellow.”  (Have them divide the pieces and pick a color.)
•    “Alright, everyone who chose blue, raise your hands.”  (Demonstrate.)
•    “In this battle, you represent the devil.  Sorry about that.”
•    “Everyone who chose yellow, you represent God.”
•    “The gameboard represents a human mind, and the game pieces each represent thoughts.”
•    “Dark blue pieces represent the bad thoughts and lies Satan tries to get us to believe and take as our own.”
•    “Yellow pieces represent the good thoughts and truth God wants us to believe and act on.”
•    “Each player starts with two thoughts (game pieces) on the board in the center squares.  They should look like this.”  (Show the “Starting Positions” slide.  Have all players put two of their game pieces down.)
•    “The goal of each player is to trap your opponents pieces between two of your own.”
•    “If you have one piece down already and then lay another one, you capture all of your opponent’s pieces that are between your two pieces.  You can then flip all those captured pieces over so that they are now your color.”  (Show “Move #1, #2 and #3” slide to give them examples.)
•    “You can capture pieces diagonally, horizontally or vertically.”
•    “You capture all the opponents’ pieces between your two pieces, so as the game progresses, you should be able to capture two, three, four or more pieces at a time.”
•    “You can even capture pieces in two or more directions at the same time as long as they are all between two of your pieces.”
•    “It’s important to know that you cannot play on spaces unless it allow you to capture at least one of your opponent’s pieces.”
•    “The winner is the person who has the most of their colored pieces on the board when it gets to a point that no one can make a move.”
•    “Dark blue pieces get to go first.”
•    “Do you have any questions about how to play?”  (Answer questions, and then allow them to play a round.  If they finish the first round quickly and you have the time, let them play several rounds.  Then, award a prize to the winners if you choose.  Pass out the Debrief Questions sheet to each group, and allow them 10-15 minutes to talk about the questions.  Then ask the large group for any general insights from the activity.)

Debrief Questions

o    How does this game reflect the battle between God and Satan for your mind?
o    Why would some bad thoughts from Satan change your good thoughts to bad ones (like capturing pieces in the game)?
o    The corners are the most strategic spaces on the gameboard, because they cannot be trapped once they belong to someone.  What might these represent in the battle for your mind?
o    Why is it important to guard your mind against Satan’s influence?  How can you do this?
o    How could you capture more thoughts for Christ?

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Filed under Christianity, Daily walk, Game, Games that Teach, Listening to God, Mind, Object Lesson, Satan's tactics, Spiritual Health, Spiritual Warfare, thinking, Thought war, thoughts

Catch! (Obj Lesson)


Time
10-15 minutes

Description
This object lesson illustrates how Satan tries to fill our minds with worries, fears, doubts and many other things so that there is no room for God’s truth, peace and joy.

Audience
Children, youth and adults

Materials
•    Tennis balls (9-12)
•    Permanent marker
•    Posterboard (1 sheet should do)
•    Scissors or some other cutting device
•    Block pattern (You can find this in the file “Catch – Block Pattern.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    Clear tape

Preparation
•    Write a different label on each of the tennis balls.  They should read: Worry, Fear, Jealousy, Anger, Doubt, Entertainment, Video Games, Depression, Obsessions, Fatigue, Hatred, Self, Regret, Embarrassment, Cute Boy, Cute Girl (or whatever you think appropriate – they should be things that Satan might use to fill up our minds so that we don’t have room to think about things God wants us to think about)
•    Make several blocks out of posterboard using the block pattern mentioned above and the clear tape
•    Label the blocks: Truth, Love, Joy, Peace, Wisdom, Vision, Faith, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control, Righteousness, Hope (or whatever you think appropriate – they should be things that God wants to fill our mind with).  You could also focus on Philippians 4:8 and do blocks that say “True, Noble, Right, Pure, Lovely, Admirable.”  You will need 9-12 blocks.
•    Practice the script.

Procedure
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
o    “I want to show you an illustration of the battle for your mind.”
o    “Satan and God are in a war.  It’s evil against Good.”
o    “Your mind and heart are the battlefields on which this war is waged.”
o    “Satan knows that he can’t do anything to damage God, so He tries to hurt the Creator through his creation, and that’s us.”
o    “Satan first wants to hold as many of us prisoner as possible, so that we never get to join God’s army.”
o    “But even after we become Christians and join God’s side, Satan doesn’t give up.”
o    “If he can’t have us on his side, he will at least try to make us ineffective by pulling our minds and hearts away from God.”
o    “Satan knows that if he can win the battle for our mind, we will be ineffective for God.”
o    “So the tactic we are going to talk about is how Satan tries to fill our mind with lots of things so that there is no room for what God wants to put in there.”  (Ask for a volunteer to come forward.)
o    “Let’s pretend that this person represents our minds.”
o    “And let’s pretend that these tennis balls each represent something that Satan want to fill our mind with so that we don’t think about Godly things.”  (Read on of the balls out loud, and show it to the group.  Then hand it to your volunteer.)
o    “If that one doesn’t completely occupy our minds, Satan will give us more things to think about.  (Read several more balls, and hand them to the volunteer.)
o    “He will keep this up, filling our minds with all kinds of junk until they are completely full.”  (Read off the rest of the balls, and hand them to the volunteer, who should be having trouble holding them all.  If he/she drops any, pick them up, and hand them back to the volunteer.)
o    “When our minds are full like this, there is not room for what God wants to put in.”  (Pick up one of the blocks, and read it off.  Try to fit it into the volunteer’s hands, but give up in frustration.)
o    “But who ever said that we have to hold anything that Satan gives to us?”  (Instruct volunteer to drop all the balls and to take the block.)
o    “Now, without all the junk that Satan tries to fill our minds with, there is plenty of room for what God wants to fill our mind with.”  (Read off each of the blocks, and then stack them neatly in the volunteer’s hands.  Keep one for the next part of the lesson.)
o    “Notice how much easier it is to hold the things that God gives us rather than the things Satan tries to fill our minds with.”  (Pick up a few of the balls off the floor, and toss them at the volunteer while saying, “Catch!”  Hopefully, the volunteer will drop everything to catch the balls.  If he/she does, then ask, “Why did you drop all God’s good things to catch what Satan threw you?”  If the volunteer doesn’t fall for the trick, keep tossing balls in his/her direction.  Then say, “It was good that you didn’t fall for Satan’s trick.  He won’t give up.  He will keep tossing bad thoughts at you, and you have to be careful to not accept them.”
o    “If Satan does succeed in getting in one of his thought bombs, the Bible tells us clearly what to do about it.”  (Have volunteer read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.)
o    “The war we fight is different than most wars.  It’s a thought war.”
o    “When one of Satan’s thought bombs gets in, we are to take it captive to Christ.”  (Have volunteer take one of the thought bombs and hold it up like he/she is giving it to God.)
o    “God will then take that thought bomb and replace it with one of His truths.” (Exchange the ball for a block.)
o    “This war is difficult, and it’s long.  You have to keep fighting all your life to keep your thoughts pure and true.” (Have volunteer read Romans 12:2.)
o    “God wants us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  That means taking evil and ungodly thoughts captive every time we have them and exchanging them for truth and wisdom with God.”
o    “You see, when God saved us, he gave us a completely new heart, but we have the same mind that we had before we were saved.”
o    “In order to get a new mind, we have to exchange the bad thoughts one by one for good thoughts.”
o    “Maybe a good way to think about it is this: our hearts after trusting Christ are like moving into a brand new house, but our minds after trusting Christ are like moving into an old house that needs a lot of renovation work.”
o    “The good news is that God will help us with all the renovation.  He will be our general contractor, who guides us in all the work.”  (Thank volunteer, and let him/her have a seat.)

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Filed under Brain, Focus, Mind, Satan's tactics, Spiritual Warfare, Transformation

Ups and Downs of Teambuilding (GAME)


Time
25-45 minutes

Description
This is game that helps participants understand the dynamics of teams.  It uses Bruce Tuckman’s “Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing” model and combines it with the children’s game of Chutes and Ladders ® (a.k.a. Snakes and Ladders).

If you want to add a spiritual element to this lesson, you can have participants review the Scriptures at the end of the lesson and try to determine what stage of team building they represent.  Add 30-45 minutes to the lesson if you do this.

Audience
Anyone who leads teams (but usually adults or youth)

Materials
•    If you want to use a regularly-sized gameboard, you can find one on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.  It’s called: “Ups and Downs of Teambuilding – Gameboard.ppt.”  (You will need something to act as game pieces for each player – maybe candy or coins or something else that is small.)
•    For a life-sized game, you will need masking tape, rope or some other material to mark off the gameboard.  How much you need depends upon the size of the gameboard.  I like to make it big when I do the game outdoors, so I typically use 22 ropes of about 20 ft each.  (If you have access to a tile floor, you can use that and not have to mark off the spaces.)  For the life-sized version, the participants become the game pieces.
•    Tent stakes (44 – if you are outdoors and using rope to mark off your gameboard)
•    Dice (two – the bigger, the better, if you are playing this as a life-sized game)
•    Sticky notes (100) to number the game spaces (if you are indoors and playing on a smooth surface)
•    Note cards (100) to number the game spaces (if you are outdoors)
•    Golf tees (100) to hold the note cards to the ground (if you are outdoors)
•    Colored marker
•    Printed copy of “Ups and Downs of Teambuilding – Game Spaces.doc”  (Available on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    (Optional) Printed copy of “Ups and Downs of Teambuilding – Game Cards.doc” (Available on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)

Preparation
•    Print or mark off your gameboard.  You need a 10 space by 10 space grid.  If you do the life-sized version, you should make the squares large enough for several people to fit in them, because it is possible for more than one person to land on the same space during a turn.
•    Number your spaces 1-100 using the sticky notes or the notecards and golf tees.  The numbering should go back and forth.  For example, the first row is numbered left to right (1-10).  The second row is numbered right to left so that the 11 space is right above the 10 space, and the 20 space is right above the 1 space.  The third row is then numbered left to right again, and so on.  (If this is confusing, take a look at the “Ups and Downs of Teambuilding – Gameboard.ppt” on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    Use the colored marker to put a dot on all the sticky notes or notecards that have a corresponding note in the “Ups and Downs of Teambuilding – Game Spaces.doc” file.  For example, space #3 has a note in the document that indicates that something good has happened and that the player can move up.  Put a green (or whatever color you chose) dot next to the number on the sticky note or notecard for space #3.  (You don’t need to do this step if you tape the game cards in the spaces.)
•    Print off the documents (mentioned above) that you need.
•    If you print out the “Ups and Downs of Teambuilding – Game Cards,” you can tape these in the squares designated by the number on the cards.  This will prevent you from having to read them yourself.  You can tape them right-side-up or upside-down.  It’s up to you.
•    Practice the script.

Procedure
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
•    “We’re going to play a game that will help you to understand how teams grow and develop.”
•    “Bruce Tuckman developed a model that involves four stages.  They are, “Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.”
•    “Forming is the first stage, and it’s where everyone in a team comes together.  Everyone is on their best behavior and trying to make the new group work, but trust is low, because we don’t know each other yet.”
•    “Storming is the second stage, and it involves conflict and struggles.  Individuals may disagree over roles or methods or any number of things.  This can be a painful stage, but it’s necessary to help the team members get honest with each other and build trust.  If conflict is handled well, the team will be stronger when it comes through this stage.”
•    “Norming is the third stage.  The team is starting to understand and appreciate individuals more.  They are recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, and they are experiencing some success.”
•    “Performing is the forth stage.  The team now is at it’s highest level of productivity and synergy.  Team members are interdependent and work together to see tasks or projects completed well.  Leadership is often shared and assumed by the person who has the greatest strengths for each particular task.”
•    “If you look at any professional sport team that has won a championship, you can tell that maintaining the ‘Performing’ stage is very difficult.”
•    “Very few championship teams repeat the following year.  Fewer repeat the third year.  It’s just too difficult to stay in ‘Performing’ that long.”
•    “Factors outside the team may prevent the team from continuing.  Things like budget cuts, down economies, competitor tactics, new technology, time constraints, etc. can dethrone champion teams.”
•    “Likewise, factors inside the team also work against continued success.  Team members leave the team, experience personal crises, become dissatisfied, have conflicts and go through a long list of other problems and can’t continue to perform at the highest level.  There are also leadership changes, vision/mission changes, mistakes, failures, etc.”
•    “So, teams don’t stay at ‘Performing’ indefinitely once they get there.”
•    “More often what happens is that teams move up and down through the four stages – sometimes going from ‘Performing’ all the way back to ‘Forming’ (i.e., if an important team member leaves) or from ‘Storming’ to ‘Performing” (i.e., if a major breakthrough is experienced).”
•    “The game we are about to play will illustrate some of the factors (both inside and outside the team) that cause teams to move up and down through the levels.”
•    “It’s a game similar to the children’s game of Chutes and Ladders ® or Snakes and Ladders.”
•    “Have any of you played that before?”  (Listen to responses.)
•    “The gameboard has one hundred spaces.”
•    “The objective of the game is to be the first person to reach the 100th space.”
•    “Players will roll the dice (two) to see how many spaces they move.”
•    “On some spaces, there is a green dot (or whatever color you choose.  If you taped game cards in each space, you can skip this instruction and just have the participants read the card when they step on the space.)”
•    “This dot indicates that there is either an “UP” or a “DOWN” on the space.”
•    “I will read out a note related to that space, and the note will tell you about something that has happened to your team.  Sometimes it’s good; sometimes it’s bad.  If it’s good, you will get to move up to another space.  If it’s bad, you will have to move down.”
•    “Once you get close to the 100th space, you will need to get a perfect roll to win.  That means that if you are four spaces away, you have to roll a 4, a 3, a 2, or a 1 to move.  (You can choose to roll only one die at this time.)”
•    “If you roll higher than the number of spaces left, you lose your turn and must wait in your place.”
•    “Does anyone have any questions?”  (Answer questions.  Then start the game.  Everyone starts off the gameboard.  You can have them roll the dice to see who goes first.  Highest roll is first, second highest is second…  After someone wins, have the group answer the debrief questions (next page) together.)
•    NOTE: If you have a large group, you might want to divide them into pairs and have one person act as the game piece and another roll the dice.  If you have a really big group, divide them into teams, have one game piece, one dice roller and a large fan club.

Debrief Questions

1.    What can the game teach us about team building?

2.    Why is it so difficult to maintain the “Performing” stage?

3.    On your team, what internal influences (things inside your team) could send you back down? What can you do about it?

4.    On your team, what external influences (things outside your team) could send you back down?  What can you do about it?

5.    How can you move your team to the next level (or keep them at “Performing”)?

Biblical Reflection
Review these Scriptures, and try to determine which stage of teambuilding they represent.

o    Matthew 4:18-23
o    Matthew 8:23-27
o    Matthew 9:9
o    Matthew 10:5-10
o    Matthew 14:10
o    Matthew 14:15-21
o    Matthew 16:21-23
o    Matthew 17:1-8
o    Matthew 17:14-18
o    Matthew 18:1
o    Matthew 20:20-24
o    Matthew 26:6-9
o    Matthew 26:14-16
o    Matthew 26:31-34
o    Matthew 26:47
o    Matthew 26:56
o    Matthew 26:69-75
o    Matthew 27:35
o    Matthew 28:16-20
o    Mark 3:13-19
o    Mark 6:45-52
o    Mark 8:27-30
o    Mark 9:33-34
o    John 6:66-69
o    John 21:15-17
o    Acts 2:1-7
o    Acts 2:46-47
o    Acts 3:1-10

Biblical Reflection: ANSWERS
Review these Scriptures, and try to determine which stage of teambuilding they represent.

o    Matthew 4:18-23 (Forming)
o    Matthew 8:23-27 (Storming)
o    Matthew 9:9 (Forming)
o    Matthew 10:5-10 (Norming)
o    Matthew 14:10 (Storming)
o    Matthew 14:15-21 (Storming)
o    Matthew 16:21-23 (Performing then Storming)
o    Matthew 17:1-8 (Norming)
o    Matthew 17:14-18 (Storming)
o    Matthew 18:1 (Storming)
o    Matthew 20:20-24 (Storming)
o    Matthew 26:6-9 (Storming)
o    Matthew 26:14-16 (Storming)
o    Matthew 26:31-34 (Norming)

o    Matthew 26:47 (Storming)
o    Matthew 26:56 (Storming)
o    Matthew 26:69-75 (Storming)
o    Matthew 27:35 (Storming)
o    Matthew 28:16-20 (Norming)
o    Mark 3:13-19 (Forming)
o    Mark 6:45-52 (Storming)
o    Mark 8:27-30 (Norming or Performing)
o    Mark 9:33-34 (Storming)
o    John 6:66-69 (Forming)
o    John 21:15-17 (Norming)
o    Acts 2:1-7 (Performing and Forming)
o    Acts 2:46-47 (Performing)
o    Acts 3:1-10 (Performing)

Debrief

o    “What do you notice when you look at all the stages?”  (If they don’t mention it, point out that most of the examples are “Storming.”  This is from as fair a sampling of the Scriptures as I could do, so I think it is representative.)
o    “Why do you think that is?”  (Listen to responses. Then, add the next point if necessary.)
o    “Jesus often allowed his disciples to go through ‘Storming’ times.”
o    “Probably these experiences were designed as a tool and a test for them.”
o    “As a tool, the experiences shaped them to be more like Christ.  They cut away the pride and the selfishness.”
o    “As a test, they revealed the character of each disciple’s heart and indicated whether or not they were learning from their experiences.”
o    “The disciples didn’t experience extended periods of ‘Performing’ until after Pentecost, and even then, they still went back to the ‘Storming’ stage on occasion.”
o    “Failure is a much better teacher than success.”
o    “All these ‘Storming’ times prepared the disciples for the incredible ministries they would have one day.”
o    “So, when you are leading a team, don’t be afraid to allow them to make some mistakes or to experience failure.”
o    “It will most likely teach them more than any successes ever would.”

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Filed under Game, Games that Teach

God Cares for Me – Psalm 23 (LESSON)


Audience: Children, (possibly youth if you ham it up quite a bit to engage them)

Scriptures:    Psalm 23

Description:    This lesson teaches about a shepherd and how he cares for his sheep.  It makes comparisons to Jesus as The Shepherd who cares for His sheep (those who believe in Him).  It also briefly introduces David as a shepherd in anticipation of beginning his story during the next lesson.

Rhyme Time:    God loves me; I’m under His care.
Wherever I go; He’s always there!

Time:    30-45 minutes

Materials:
o    Shepherd’s costume (sheet with a hole for your head to go through, belt made out of a piece of fabric, 3 ft x 2 ft piece of fabric to go over your head, headband made out of fabric)
o    Something to act as a shepherd’s staff  (The size and shape of the staff are important, because it will be part of the lesson.  It should be a long, slender stick (maybe 6 ft or longer), with a hook on one end.  It can be natural or manmade.)
o    Something to act as a shepherd’s rod (The size and shape of the rod are important, because it will be part of the lesson.  It should be a straight, long (4 ft or longer) and about 2 inches in diameter, with a knob at one end.  This knob helps the shepherd use the rod for defense.)
o    Sheep hats (can be as simple as headbands with cotton ball ears) for the kids who will help you with your lesson.  (I recommend 6-8.)
o    Snake, wolf, bear, lion and fly hats (differently colored headbands with ears that represent each animal – one of each)
o    A Ziplock bag full of good, green grass and a Ziplock bag full of dead grass or weeds.
o    A glass off clean water and a glass of muddy water.
o    Olive oil (one bottle)
o    Mustard powder (one can / bottle)
o    Cinnamon or other powder in spice form (one can / bottle)
o    Bowl for mixing oil and powders
o    Spoon for mixing oil and powders
o    A bag with some rock salt in it.
o    Optional – A “wool coat” – a large piece of fabric with cotton balls on it to represent wool.

Preparation:
o    Most of the information for this lesson was taken from a book entitled, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller (1970, HarperCollinsPublishers).  It’s a good read and a good story if you have the time and can find a copy.
o    Make costumes, and have them on-hand.
o    Set out bowl, spoon, oil and powders.  You will mix them during the lesson.
o    Find all the Scriptures from the lesson and bookmark them in a Bible for your reading volunteer.
o    Gather some good grass and some bad grass, and fill two Ziplock bags with them.
o    Pour some clean water in two glasses, and make one of them dirty with a little dirt.
o    Optional – if you use the “wool coat,” you will need to make it out of a piece of fabric with some cotton balls glued to it.  After you’ve made it, drag it through the soil and grass to make it dirty and clogged.

Procedure:
Use the following script or modify to suit your needs:
o    “There is a very famous psalm that many people have memorized, because it gives them peace and calm when they are going through difficult times.”
o    “Does anyone know which psalm it is?”  (Take responses if there are any.)
o    “Right, it’s Psalm 23.  It’s very short, but it has a lot of meaning.”
o    “It was written by David, the most famous and loved king of the Israelites.”
o    “It’s a poem about God that describes Him as a Shepherd watching over a flock of sheep.”
o    “David, of course, knew all about shepherds and sheep, because he was a shepherd boy until the time that he killed Goliath, the giant.”
o    “So, using everything David knew about being a shepherd, he tells us what God is like.”
o    “Jesus liked the metaphor, too, because He said to His disciples in John 10:11, ‘I am the good Shepherd.  The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.’”
o    “So, let’s take a look at Psalm 23 and see what it tells us about God from a shepherd’s point of view.”  (Ask for several volunteers to come up and be your sheep.  Put the hats on them, and have them get down on all fours in a “flock.”  Ask other volunteers to act as a wolf, lion and bear.  Put the hats on them, and tell them that their job is to go to the edges of the room and only come to attack the sheep if they wander away from the others.  Then, have a volunteer read Psalm 23:1.)
o    “The first part of that scripture says, ‘the Lord is my Shepherd.’  Sheep can’t just take care of themselves.  They need a shepherd.”
o    “If they are left alone, they wander off and get into trouble.”  (Ask your volunteers to wander around by crawling to different places in the room.  When one wanders near the “snake,” the “wolf,” the “bear” or the “lion,” rush to save it.  The “snake,” “wolf,” “bear,” and “lion” should pretend to attack the sheep.)
o    “We are like those sheep.  We often get ourselves into trouble when we go wandering away from our Good Shepherd, Jesus.”
o    “It’s also important to follow only the Good Shepherd.  We must know His voice so that we don’t follow the wrong shepherd.  Jesus talked to His disciples about this.”  (Have volunteer read John 10:1-5.)
o    “The LORD is my Shepherd – not Satan or anyone working for him.  We only listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, and we only follow Him.”  (Have volunteer read Psalm 23:1 again.)
o    “The Scripture says ‘I shall not be in want.’  That means that, because the Lord is my Shepherd, I will have everything I need.”
o    “It doesn’t mean that I’ll get everything that I want to have – just that I’ll have everything I need to have.”
o    “A good shepherd gets up early every morning and goes to inspect his flock.”
o    “He examines them to make sure that they are healthy and happy and able to stay on their feet.”  (Pretend to look over your sheep to make sure they are okay.)
o    “He can easily tell if they are sick or if they need special attention.”
o    “His sheep don’t need anything, because a good shepherd takes care of everything that is necessary for them.”  (Have volunteer read Psalm 23:2.)
o    “It is almost impossible for sheep to be made to lie down unless four needs are met.”
o    “#1 – They must not be afraid.”
o    “Sheep are afraid of many things and for good reason.”
o    “They have no way to defend themselves.”
o    “Their only means of protection is to run.”  (Allow wild animals to attack, and have the sheep run away in all directions.  Then have the wild animals return to their places, and go gather up your flock.)
o    “Nothing makes sheep feel more secure than to see their good shepherd in the field with them.”
o    “For us, we can be calm and free from fear, because we know that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is always with us.”  (Have volunteer read Deuteronomy 31:6.)
o    “God says that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  In other words, He will never give up on us, even if we mess up sometimes.”
o    “Because of this, we can be strong and courageous!  God is all-powerful, and He will protect us!”
o    “#2 – If you want your sheep to lie down, they can’t be in fights with other sheep.”
o    “Sheep are mean to each other.”
o    “You would think that with all their other enemies, they would be nice to one another, but they aren’t.”
o    “Older sheep stiffen their legs, tilt their heads, arch their necks and butt the young ones as hard as they can.”  (Demonstrate this behavior playfully with your flock.)
o    “And rams are even worse.  When they are fighting over girlfriends, their necks swell and get strong.”
o    “They furiously butt their heads and horns together to see who is the strongest, and some even die this way.”
o    “When the young sheep are worried about bullies, they start to get edgy and lose weight, so a good shepherd will defend the weaker ones.”
o    “With the rams, he puts grease on their heads so that they slip off each other when they collide.  That way, none of them get hurt.”  (Playfully demonstrate this with two of your flock.)
o    “Our Good Shepherd knows about the bullies in our live, but He says in His Word that He will take care of us.”  (Have volunteer read Ezekiel 34:15-16 and then Ezekiel 34:20-22.)
o    “The third thing that needs to happen for sheep to lie down and rest is that the sheep must be free from flies and other insects.”  (Ask for a volunteer to come up and put on the fly hat.)
o    “There is a certain type of insect, called a nose fly.  They love sheep and buzz all around their heads, trying to deposit their eggs in the wet places on the sheeps’ noses.”
o    “If the flies lay their eggs in the sheeps’ noses, worms will hatch and crawl up into the sheeps’ heads, causing irritation and inflammation.”  (Have fly volunteer ‘buzz’ around the sheep and pester them.)
o    “It drives the sheep crazy!  To get relief, they will beat their heads against trees, rocks, posts, bushes…anything.  They will rub them on the ground, and some even kill themselves just to get rid of the feeling.”
o    “A good shepherd will dip the sheep in chemicals and coat their heads in oil to keep the flies off of them.”   (Shoo away your fly volunteer, but don’t have them sit down just yet.)
o    “For us, the flies represent our worries, our fears, and our frustrations that keep us from resting and having peace.”
o    “They buzz around in our heads, looking for a place to land and lay their eggs.”  (Have your fly volunteer buzz around you.)
o    “If we allow them to stay, these fears and worries will paralyze us and keep us from doing all the things God wants us to do.”
o    “Our Good Shepherd knows about these, and He offers us perfect peace if we will just trust in Him.”  (Have volunteer read 2 Corinthians 10:5.)
o    “Every time we have a negative thought, He asks us to capture it and take it prisoner until our thinking becomes obedient to God.”  (“Capture” your fly volunteer, and hold him/her still for a moment.)
o    “You see, Satan is the father of lies.  He lies to us all the time.  In fact, he can’t even tell the truth, because his native language is lying.”
o    “But God will always tell us the truth.”
o    “When we have a negative thought, we should ask God about it.  He will tell us if it is true or not.”  (Have fly volunteer have a seat.)
o    “The fourth and final thing that a good shepherd has to do to help the sheep rest is to make sure they aren’t hungry.”
o    “Sheep will eat bad grass and drink bad water even when good grass and good water are available, because….well….they just aren’t that smart.”  (Offer your flock a choice between the Ziplock bags of good grass and bad grass.  Then offer them a choice between the clean water and the dirty water.  Try to really sell the bad stuff.)
o    “I’m sorry to say this, but we are a lot like those dumb sheep.”
o    “Our spirit is thirsty for what God calls ‘living water.’”
o    “Living Water is the Word of God – the Bible.”
o    “It satisfies our spiritual thirst and gives us peace and joy.”  (Take a drink of the clean water.)
o    “Unfortunately, we will drink just about anything but Living Water in order to satisfy our thirst.”
o    “We want sticky, sweet things, and we try to satisfy our spiritual thirst with money or entertainment or other things that can sometimes be bad for us.”
o    “We drink lots and lots of them, because even after we drink, we are still thirsty.”
o    “The only thing that can satisfy our spiritual thirst is God and His Word.”  (Have volunteer read Psalm 23:2 again.)
o    “The second part of that verse talks about quiet waters.  Some Bible translations call them ‘still’ waters.”
o    “You see, sheep need quiet or still waters, because rivers and streams are dangerous for a 300 lb washcloth with ears.”
o    “If the sheep slips into the water, it will start soaking up water and sink to the bottom.”  (You might sprinkle some water on the sheep just for laughs at this point.)
o    “So the shepherd would go to the stream and use stones to divert some of the water into a pool.” (Pretend to use rocks to divert a stream.)
o    “There, the sheep could drink without being afraid.”  (Have your flock pretend to drink.)
o    Water in Scripture often points to God’s Word.  I told you that it is sometimes called, ‘Living Water.’”
o    “We need to drink deeply of God’s Living Water every day during the still hours of the morning.”
o    “If we will make the time for Him, He will divert some special truths for us and teach us wonderful things.” (Have volunteer read Psalm 23:3.)
o    “Sheep sometimes get ‘cast down,’ a term that means they get turned upside down like a turtle.”  (Demonstrate with one of your flock.)
o    “Sheep get cast down when their wool gets too heavy or when they lie down in a place that isn’t level.”
o    “When they realize that they can’t get up, they panic and start kicking their legs frantically.”  (Demonstrate with your flock.)
o    “This causes gasses to build up in its body and cut off the blood supply to its legs.”
o    “If the shepherd doesn’t ‘restore’ the sheep to its feet soon, it will die.”
o    “He restores it by gently rolling it on its side and massaging its legs.” (Demonstrate.)
o    “Sometimes, we get ‘cast down.’”
o    “We feel sad, depressed or hopeless, but we can’t get back on our feet.”
o    “God comes along during those times and encourages us through prayer, His Word or through other people.”
o     “I mentioned that a sheep would often get cast down because of the heavy weight of his wool coat.”  (If you have it, put the imitation wool coat on one of your flock.)
o    “To prevent this, the shepherd would shear the sheep.”  (Pretend to shear your flock.)
o    “Sheep hate being sheared, and they will fight it with all their energy sometimes.”
o    “But once it’s over, they feel so good, because their wool coat is always caked with mud and poo and fleas and ticks and burrs.”
o    “Wool represents our sinful nature.  Priests were not allowed to wear it into the Temple of God for this reason.”
o    “Our sinful nature gets so clogged up with dirt and nasty stuff that it’s a huge relief when God takes the shearing clippers to us, but we don’t like to be sheared.”  (Show children the clogged wool coat.)
o    “Shearing represents God’s discipline in our lives.  It’s uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but it is very necessary to help us get free from our sin.”  (Have volunteer read Psalm 23:3 again.)
o    “Sheep are creatures of habit, and they will blindly follow a sheep in front of them even if they are going in the wrong direction.”  (Have flock demonstrate by getting a “lead” sheep to walk in circles.)
o    “We do that sometimes, too, but God will lead us down new, righteous paths that honor Him.”  (Have volunteer read Psalm 23:4.)
o    “Sheep are low on the food chain, and almost everything is a threat to them.”
o    “Wherever they go, they are surrounded by enemies.”  (Have “enemies” circle in close to the sheep.)
o    “Christians, too, have enemies everywhere.  Satan attacks us whenever he sees a chance.”
o    “But God is with us, and we never need to be afraid.”  (Have volunteer read Psalm 23:4 again.)
o    “A shepherd has two main tools for leading the sheep – a rod and a staff.”
o    “A rod looked like this.”  (Show rod.)
o    “It was typically cut from a young tree and carved to specifically fit a young shepherd’s hand.”
o    “A young shepherd boy would spend hours and hours practicing his throw with his club, learning how to send it whistling through the air with speed and accuracy.”
o    “This way, he could defend the sheep from their enemies (pretend to scare away some of the enemies with the rod) and keep the sheep from going into places they shouldn’t.” (Demonstrate how you could use the rod to scare a sheep away from a place where one of their enemies (i.e., a snake) could be hiding.)
o    “The shepherd’s staff was entirely different.”
o    “It was designed like this (show staff) in order to be of the most help to the sheep.”
o    “It was a long, slender stick with a hook at the end.”
o    “The hook was used to bring sheep closer for inspection or to unite a new lamb with its mother without getting the scent of a man on it.”  (Demonstrate.)
o    “It was used to guide the sheep along the right path or as a gentle way to let the sheep know that the shepherd was near.”  (Demonstrate.)
o    “This is a picture of God’s justice and His mercy – of His discipline and His grace – of His protection and His care.”
o    “The rod represents God’s authority, power and discipline, and the staff represents His grace and unconditional love.”
o    “Some people think of God as only power, justice and discipline; some think of Him as only love.”
o    “Neither are a complete picture.  God is both justice and mercy – both discipline and grace – and all of it is done because of His love for us.” (Have volunteer read Psalm 23:5.)
o    “A table to a shepherd is a table mesa – a high place in mountain country, where sheep are led to graze in the summer months.”
o    “The shepherd goes ahead of the sheep and prepares the area by pulling poisonous weeds and scouting the area for dangers.”
o    “He takes salt and minerals and spreads them over the whole area so that the sheep will eat them and improve their diet.”  (Pretend to spread the minerals, and then have your sheep graze.)
o    “God does the same for us.  He blesses us even in the middle of all our enemies.”
o    “And Jesus told us in John 14:1-4 that He is preparing a place for us in heaven.”
o    “He said that He’s coming back to get us and that He will lead us to that place He has prepared.”  (Have volunteer read Psalm 23:5 again.)
o     “David, the writer of the psalm, is talking about a few things in the last part of this verse.”
o    “When guests came to your home for dinner in Israel, your responsibility to them included anointing their heads with oil and to making sure they had plenty to drink.”
o    “The anointing was to moisten the skin, since Israel is surrounded by desert.”
o    “But it was also a token to say that this person is special.”
o    “Shepherds used anointing, too.”
o    “Remember about the nose flies I told you about?”
o    “Remember how the shepherd would put oil on the sheep’s head to keep the flies away?”
o    “The shepherd would mix olive oil or linseed oil with sulfur and tar.”  (Mix oil, cinnamon and mustard powder in the bowl, and then smear a little on the forehead of each of your sheep.)
o    “The flies couldn’t land, so the sheep stayed calm.”
o    “God anoints us – not with oil typically but with the Holy Spirit.”
o    “This anointing sets us apart as special to God.  It marks us as His children, and it protects us from Satan’s evil plans.”  (Have volunteer read Psalm 23:6.)
o    “Sheep have really good poo.  It’s so good that they are sometimes called, ‘the animals with the golden hooves.’”
o    “After they have left a grazing place, all their poo fertilizes the ground and makes it even better for growing things.”
o    “So when David talks about ‘goodness following him all the days of his life, it’s kinda funny.”
o    “The sheep poo; everything grows – goodness follows them everywhere they go.”  (Have your flock walk around, and follow them.  Say, ‘A little goodness here; a little goodness there.  Goodness, goodness, everywhere.  Thanks, little guys!’)
o    “For us as Christians, we ought to leave everything better than we found it.  By doing that, we leave goodness and mercy everywhere.”
o    “Finally, David tells us that he will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
o    “This will be true for any Christian – especially when we get to heaven.”
o    “But with the sheep, this last line tells about how sheep are safe if they stay with the good shepherd.”
o    “As they dwell in his house (a shelter from the weather), they can be sure of their safety.”  (Dismiss volunteers, and thank them.)
o    “We are all a lot like sheep.  The Bible says that we are all like sheep who go astray (Isaiah 53:6).  That’s why we need a Good Shepherd to lead us and to help us in this world.”

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Filed under Christianity, Daily walk, David, Joseph, Sheep, Shepherd

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense (GAME)


God's Riches at Christ's Expense Gameboard

Time
30 minutes

Description
This game teaches that we have God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense (G.R.A.C.E.), but we have to keep returning to God every time we sin in order to keep the relationship strong.  If we don’t, we wander further and further from God.

Audience
Children, youth

Materials
•    Copies of the Grace or Guilt Gameboard (See the file, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense – Gameboard.ppt” on the “Lesson and Material Downloads” page.)
•    Copies of “Grace Cards” (included at the end of this lesson text) – You will need a set for every group of six.
•    A copy of the “Debrief Questions” at the end of this lesson.  You will need one printout per group.
•    Something to act as game pieces.  You can use coins, torn pieces of paper, poker chips…  You will need enough for all the children to have one.
•    Dice (one per group)
•    Optional – Prizes for the winners.

Preparation
•    Print the “Grace or Guilt – Gameboard,” and tape the two pages end-to-end.  You will need one gameboard for each group of up to six children.
•    Print out a copy of the “Grace Cards” at the end of the lesson, and cut them out. Place them face down beside the gameboard.
•    Print out a copy of the Debrief Question (one per group).
•    Practice the script

Procedure
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
•    “We’re going to play a game to help us understand how sin takes us away from God and the many blessings He wants us to have.”
•    “It’s called, ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”
•    “First, I’ll need to divide you into small groups.”  (Divide children into small groups of no more than six each.  Then, hand out the gameboards and game pieces.)
•    “Here’s the way this game is played.
o    First, you will all roll the die (singular for dice) to see who goes first.  The highest role wins and goes first.  The next-highest roll goes second and so on.  If you get a tie, those people should re-roll until someone rolls a higher number.
o    Players should put their game pieces on the paths that match their playing order.  For example, Path 1 for the first player, Path 2 for the second, and so on.
o    Next, you will roll the die to see how many spaces to move your game piece.
o    Each player starts in the “God’s Riches” space.
o    At the end of every turn, you will draw a card.
o    The card has a letter (or letters) on it.
o    You want to collect all the letters in the word, “GRACE.”
o    It’s okay if you have extra letters, but you need to have at least one of each of the letters on your cards.
o    If you get the right letters to spell, “GRACE,” you can return to the “God’s Riches” space.
o    You should put any cards you used to spell “GRACE” in a discard pile.  If the group draws all the card in the draw pile, the discard pile will be shuffled and used as the new draw pile.
o    The game ends when someone rolls a number that forces them to move more spaces than are left on the path.
o    The winner of the game is the person who is closest to “God’s Riches.”
o    In the event of a tie, you can let the tied players roll again to see who is the closest to “God’s Riches” after the roll.”
•    “Does anyone have questions about how you will play?”  (Answer questions.  Then, let them get started.  When they are done, award a prize for the winners if you like, and hand out a copy of the Debrief Questions on the next page.  Give groups ten minutes to discuss the debrief questions, and then talk with the entire group about their answers.)

Debrief Questions

o    Why is the game called, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense?
o    What are “God’s Riches?”
o    What does “Christ’s Expense” mean?
o    How is this game like our Christian walk?
o    Read Proverbs 4:14-15.  What do you think the spaces represented?
o    Read Proverbs 4:26-27.  What do you think it means?
o    Grace allows us to return to God after we have sinned, but what do we actually need to do to return to Him?

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Filed under Christianity, Confession, Daily walk, forgiveness, Game, Games that Teach, Obedience, Repentance, Spiritual Health