Category Archives: Spiritual Growth

Spiritual Practice Cards (JOB AID)


I created this job aid for a spiritual retreat I have coming up.  It’s a list of 40 spiritual disciplines or practices arranged on cards and organized by the type of spiritual practice each one is.  The information on the cards in compiled from a large number of sources, but I’m particularly indebted to the work of Adele Calhoun, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and John Ortberg.

You can download the full card deck on the Lesson and Materials Download page under the name “Spiritual Practice Cards (JOB AID)“, but here is one card that shows what they look like and how to use them.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 1.38.43 PM

Ideas About How To Use the Cards

  • Give a deck of all 40 cards to participants, and ask them to find three practices that they are interested in learning more about.  Have them read the Scriptures and other information on the card and then share what was most interesting for them.
  • Have small groups share a favorite practice and a new practice that they would like to try and tell why.
  • Ask participants to come up with ways they could combine two or more of the practices together, and have them share what impact they think combining them will have on their experience.
  • Provide self-directed time during a retreat or workshop, and encourage participants to experiment with new practices.  (Some practices, like Labyrinth Prayer, will require additional resources.  Others, like Rule for Life, will require you to share a few examples, which are easy to find on the internet.)  Have participants come back from the self-directed time and share about their experience.
  • Ask participants to choose a practice that requires  or benefits from partnering with another person, and have them try it together.
  • Have participants share about a favorite practice and how they do it differently from any of the methods listed on the card.

If you think of other creative ways to use the cards, please leave me a comment.  I would love to learn from your experience.

 

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Filed under habits, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth, Uncategorized

God’s Permissive Will (OBJ LESSON)


Time

45 minutes
Audience

Children, Teens, Adults

 

Description

This object lesson teaches about how God’s permissive will works with God’s unchangeable will.  It uses the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brothers to illustrate how God allows us to make choices but brings even our bad choices and sin into alignment with his perfect will in the end.

 

Scriptures

  • Genesis 2:16-17; 37-50
  • Numbers 23:19
  • Deuteronomy 30:15-20
  • Joshua 24:14-15
  • 1 Samuel 15:29
  • Malachi 3:6
  • Romans 8:28
  • Hebrews 6:17
  • James 1:17

 

Materials

  • One red rope – about 15-20 ft long
  • Five ropes (any color other than red) – about 15-20 ft long each
  • Printout of the file, “JJ  – God’s Permissive Will – Choices Cards (OBJ LESSON).” It can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com.  This can be printed in black and white on regular paper.
  • 70 clothespins
  • Large paper clip or rubber band
  • Bag to hold clothespins, Choice Cards and ropes

 

Preparation

  • Print out “JJ – God’s Permissive Will – Choice Cards.”  (There are 35 pages.)
  • Cut each of the pages in half down the line in the middle to make 70 separate Choice Cards.
  • Put ropes in your bag
  • Put the clothespins in your bag so that you can carry them during your lesson.
  • Put the Choice Cards in numerical order (the numbers are on each card) with #1 on top and all the rest following.
  • Clip or rubber band these cards together, and put them in your bag.
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “God’s will is difficult to understand.”
  • “In some parts of the Bible, it says that God’s will never changes.”  (Have volunteer(s) read one or more of the following Scriptures out loud: Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 6:17, James 1:17.)
  • “But we know from other parts of the Bible that God allows us to have free will – meaning, He lets us make choices.”  (Have a volunteer(s) read one or more of the following Scriptures out loud: Genesis 2:16-17, Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Joshua 24:14-15.)
  • “This is sometimes called ‘God’s permissive will,’ which means that God gives us permission to choose to do something different than His will.”
  • “These Scriptures make me wonder how God’s will can always stay the same even though we do things that are not in His will.”
  • “Why don’t our bad decisions mess up God’s perfect and unchanging will?”
  • “I’m going to show you how this all works.”  (Ask for two volunteers.  Give them each one end of the red rope, and have them stretch it out as far as it will go across the room.)
  • “Let’s say that this is God’s unchanging will.”
  • “It stays the same no matter what.”
  • “On this end, we have ‘Before time began,’ and on the other side, we have ‘Eternity.’”
  • “God’s will is outside of time.  It was here before time began and will continue on after time ends.”
  • “This rope represents our free will.”
  • “There was a time in the Garden of Eden when God’s will and man’s free will were tied together.”  (Tie the two ropes together near the ‘Before time began” end.)
  • “But that didn’t last long, because Adam and Eve chose to do something against God’s will when they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
  • “Whenever people step away from God’s will by using their free will to do something wrong, it looks like this.”  (Ask for another volunteer to come up and hold the “free will” rope away from the “God’s Will” rope.  Leave the two ropes tied together, but have the volunteer just hold the rope a few steps away from the “God’s Will” rope.)
  • “That first sin was followed by many more, and I don’t have time to tell you about all of them.”
  • “Instead, I’ll focus just on one family – the family of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.”
  • “I’m picking this family, because they are God’s chosen people, the ones He made a promise to bless.”
  • “The story started with God making a promise to Abraham.  Abraham was old and didn’t have any children, but God promised to make him the father of many nations.  His son Isaac was the child of that promise.”
  • “At this point, Abraham’s free will was lined up with God’s will, so the two ropes are together.”  (Have volunteer who has the “free will” rope come back to the red “God’s will” rope and hold both ropes together.  Pull out Choice Card #1 from your bag.  Show it to the audience. Clip the two ropes together using a clothespin.  Anytime a Choice Card says, ‘GOD’S WILL – BOTH ROPES’ at the bottom, clip the two ropes together.)
  • “Isaac grew up and got married.  His wife Rebekah couldn’t have children, so he prayed for her.  God answered his prayer and gave them two children, Esau and Jacob.”
  • “What do you think?  Was Isaac’s free will still lined up with God’s will at this point?”  (Listen to responses.)
  • “Sure it was!  Isaac wanted what God wanted, and God blessed him with two children.”  (Show Choice Card #2, and use the clothespin to clip the two ropes together.)
  • “Esau and Jacob fought with each other in their mother’s womb, and God told Rebekah that Jacob would one day rule over his brother Esau.”
  • “Do you think it God’s will that the babies fought in the womb?”  (Listen to responses.)
  • “I don’t know for sure if babies know enough to use their free will, but let’s say that it could be possible.”
  • “That means that their free will separated from God’s will.”  (Have ‘free will’ rope volunteer take a step away from the ‘God’s will’ rope so that the two ropes separate.  Make sure he/she doesn’t pull hard on the rope and rip the Choice Cards that are already on it.  Use a clothespin to clip Choice Card #3 to just the ‘free will’ rope. Draw out Choice Card #4, and show audience.)
  • “Jacob’s name in Hebrew means, ‘He deceives,’ and it’s a great name for Jacob.  He was one of the trickiest people in the whole Bible.  The first trick we know about is when he convinced his brother, Esau, to sell him the birthright of the firstborn son in exchange for a bowl of stew!”
  • “The birthright of the firstborn son was a special privilege given to the boy who was born first, and it made him the leader of the family when the father died.  It also gave him twice the inheritance of the other children, so it was pretty important.”
  • “Now we know that God said Jacob would one day rule over Esau, but I’m pretty sure this is not how God planned for it to happen.”
  • “God didn’t need Jacob to trick Esau.  God would have made His will come true without tricks.”
  • “So, this choice that Jacob made was definitely away from God’s will!”  (Clip Choice Card #4 with a clothespin to just the ‘free will’ rope.  If you have lots of participants, you could give the choice card to a volunteer and have him/her clip it and then stand by it to represent that choice.  There will be 70 choices total, so you might have each volunteer represent several choices.  Draw out the remaining Choice Cards in numerical order while telling the story of God’s chosen people.  The cards are listed below for your reference along with important story elements.)
  1. REBEKAH AND JACOB – Tricked Isaac into giving Esau’s blessing to Jacob (It wasn’t enough that Jacob stole the birthright from Esau; he felt he had to steal his blessing, too.  (The blessing was a special gift from the father that helped a child to know what his or her future would be like.)) FREE WILL ROPE
  2. ESAU – Threatened to kill his brother, Jacob (Esau was so mad when he found out, that he promised to kill Jacob as soon as their father died.) FREE WILL ROPE
  3. REBEKAH – Tricked her husband, Isaac, into sending Jacob away to find a wife among her brother’s people (Now we know where Jacob learned to be so tricky.  His mom was a trickster, too!  She saved Jacob’s life by sending him where Esau couldn’t get him.  It’s good that she saved Jacob’s life, but she didn’t trust God to help.  Instead, she told a lie.  That’s away from God’s will.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  4. GOD – Promised land to Jacob in a dream and told him that he would have many descendants (God met Jacob while he was running away and renewed the promise that He had made to Abraham and Isaac.)  BOTH ROPES
  5. JACOB – Fell in love with Rachel as soon as he saw her (When Jacob arrived at the land of his relatives, he saw a girl named Rachel and fell in love with her.  God wants us to fall in love.  This was lined up with God’s will.)  BOTH ROPES
  6. JACOB – Worked for Laban for seven years in order to marry his daughter, Rachel. (It was the custom for these people at this time that a man would pay a woman’s father for the privilege of marrying her.  Jacob didn’t have any money or property, so he worked for seven years as payment.  This was honorable behavior.)  BOTH ROPES
  7. LABAN – Tricked Jacob into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah (Jacob wasn’t the only tricky person.  His uncle Laban wanted to marry his oldest daughter off before Rachel got married, so he tricked Jacob into marrying her. That’s definitely away from God’s will.)  FREE WILL ROPE (have volunteer step away from ‘God’s Will’ rope to hold ‘free will rope’ and show the distance between the two.  You might want to have them step in the other direction from the first time in order to make the best use of space.)
  8. JACOB – Was angry with Laban but agreed to work for Laban for seven more years so that he could marry Rachel, too.  (Jacob loved Rachel very much and still wanted to marry her, so even though he had been tricked, he agreed to work seven more years to pay for her hand in marriage.  That’s pretty romantic, but the problem with it is that God doesn’t want us to marry more than one person.  This is away from God’s will.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  9. LABAN – Tricked Jacob many times in order to make him keep working for him. (Laban wasn’t satisfied with having Jacob work for him for 14 years. Jacob was a talented shepherd, and Laban got rich while Jacob was taking care of his sheep.) FREE WILL ROPE
  10. 14.  GOD – Blessed Jacob by giving him many herds and many children (12 sons and 1 daughter).  (This is the beginning of God fulfilling His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.) BOTH ROPES
  11. 15.  RACHEL and LEAH – Competed with each other to see who could have the most sons for Jacob.  (In their culture, they believed that you were more important if you had more sons.  Leah was able to have six boys, but Jacob didn’t love her.  He loved Rachel, but she couldn’t have children for many years until God finally let her have Joseph and Benjamin towards the end of her life.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  12. JACOB – Ran away from Laban.  Laban chased him, but God warned Laban in a dream not to hurt Jacob.  (I’m not sure if it was God’s will for Jacob to run away or not, but God protected Jacob, so we will say that this was lined up with God’s will.) BOTH ROPES
  13. JACOB – Wrestled with God until God gave Jacob a blessing. (While Jacob was traveling back to the land his family lived in, and angel of the Lord (probably Jesus) came to earth and wrestled Jacob.  Jacob wouldn’t let go until God blessed him.)  BOTH ROPES
  14. 18.  ESAU – Forgave his brother Jacob, because he had been very blessed by God over the years they were apart.  (Jacob was worried about his brother still being mad at him, but he was surprised to find that Esau had totally forgiven him.)  BOTH ROPES
  15. SIMEON AND LEVI – Took revenge on people who hurt their sister, Dinah, by killing all the men in the town.  (When Jacob settled his family in Shechem, a man hurt his daughter, Dinah.  Her brothers took revenge by killing every single man in the town.  Jacob never forgave his sons for what they did.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  16. GOD – Allowed Rachel to die giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest child.  (Sometimes God allows bad things to happen, and we don’t understand why.  There are times when we find out later what God was doing, but we won’t know all God’s reasons for what He allows to happen.  We just have to trust Him.)  BOTH ROPES
  17. JACOB – Loved Joseph more than any of his other children.  (Because Joseph was the firstborn child of Rachel, the wife Jacob loved and because some of his other sons had disappointed him, Jacob showed favoritism to Joseph.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  18. 22.  JOSEPH – Told his father about the bad things his brothers had been doing. (Joseph saw his brothers do some pretty bad stuff, and he told his dad about it.  I think it was the right thing to do, but it made his brothers really mad at him.)  BOTH ROPES
  19. 23.  JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Hated Joseph because their father loved him more.  (It was obvious to his brothers that Joseph was their dad’s favorite, so they hated him.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  20. 24.  JOSEPH – Had two prophetic dreams that showed he would one day rule over his family.  (These dreams were from God, because they eventually came true.)  BOTH ROPES
  21. JOSEPH – Told his brothers about his dreams. (I think this was a mistake.  Joseph might have been showing off to his family, and all it did was make them all angry with him and hate him more.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  22. JOSEPH’S BROTHER – Hated Joseph because of his dreams.  FREE WILL ROPE
  23. 27.  JACOB – Made a special coat of many colors for Joseph, because Joseph was his favorite.  (This was another mistake.  The coat was a special coat like the one rulers would wear.  It was a coat for people who didn’t have to work, and it made Joseph’s brothers hate him even more.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  24. 28.  JACOB – Sent Joseph to check on his brothers and bring him back a report. (And another mistake!  Didn’t he realize how much his sons hated Joseph?  The brothers were working, and Joseph was wearing his fancy, no-working coat.  And Jacob sent Joseph to tattle on his brothers – not good!)  FREE WILL ROPE
  25. 29.  JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Threw Joseph in a well and then sold him to some slave traders. (Joseph’s brothers were sick and tired of their little brother, and they decided to get rid of him.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  26. 30.  JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Tore his robe and dipped it in blood.  Then they let their father believe Joseph was killed. (They hid what they did by making Jacob think that Joseph had been eaten by a wild animal.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  27. 31.  MIDIANITES – Sold Joseph as a slave to Potiphar, the Egyptian and captain of the guard for Pharoah. (God is never happy when people are treated as slaves.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  28. 32.  JOSEPH – Served Potiphar faithfully and honored God.  (Suffering can often change your heart, and I think Joseph grew up a lot when he was sold as a slave.  During this time, he learned to trust God and do his best even in a bad situation.)  BOTH ROPES
  29. 33.  GOD – Was with Joseph and gave him success in everything that he did.  (When we are lined up with God’s will, He blesses us and blesses us!)  BOTH ROPES
  30. 34.  POTIPHAR – Put Joseph in charge of everything in his household and trusted him with everything he owned.  (Even people who don’t believe in God can be in line with God’s will sometimes.  Potiphar was so impressed with Joseph that he gave him responsibility for everything.) BOTH ROPES
  31. 35.  POTIPHAR’S WIFE – Tried to get Joseph to kiss her.  (What?!  She was married!  Definitely not in God’s will!)  FREE WILL ROPE
  32. 36.  JOSEPH – Refused to sin against Potiphar and God and avoided Potiphar’s wife whenever possible.  (Good for him!)  BOTH ROPES
  33. 37.  POTIPHAR’S WIFE – Lied about Joseph to her husband and said that Joseph tried to kiss her.  (Oooh….she’s not a good person!) FREE WILL ROPE
  34. 38.  POTIPHAR – Put Joseph in the prison where the king’s prisoners were kept. (It’s interesting that he put Joseph in this special prison for Pharaoh’s prisoners.  That gave Joseph opportunities to meet important people.  Still, Potiphar shouldn’t have put him in prison for something he didn’t do.) FREE WILL ROPE
  35. 39.  JOSEPH – Served the prison warden faithfully and honored God while he was in prison.  (Joseph was put into prison unfairly, but he still chose to trust in God and honor God by working hard.)  BOTH ROPES
  36. 40.  GOD – Was with Joseph and gave him success in everything that he did. (Again, when we line up with God’s will, He blesses us.)  BOTH ROPES
  37. 41.  THE PRISON WARDEN – Put Joseph in charge of everything and everyone in the prison.  (Because Joseph was so trustworthy, the warden trusted him with everything.  God was definitely at work.)  BOTH ROPES
  38. 42.  THE CUPBEARER and THE BAKER – Offended Pharaoh.  (We don’t know what happened, but Pharaoh was mad at two of his top servants.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  39. 43.  PHARAOH – Put the cupbearer and the baker into prison. (It’s hard to know if Pharaoh was being fair or not, but God was going to use it.)  BOTH ROPES
  40. 44.  POTIPHAR – Assigned the cupbearer and the baker to Joseph. (Potiphar was in charge of the prison, and he apparently still had some trust in Joseph.) BOTH ROPES
  41. 45.  THE CUPBEARER and THE BAKER – Both had dreams on the same night, but they were sad because they didn’t know what the dreams meant.  (Sometimes God is the One who gives people dreams.) BOTH ROPES
  42. 46.  JOSEPH – Noticed their sadness, asked to hear their dreams and then interpreted them.  He asked the cupbearer to remember him when he returned to Pharaoh. (Joseph had interpreted his own dreams in the past and knew that God could interpret these dreams through him.  In this case, Joseph told them that the cupbearer’s dream meant that Pharaoh would restore him again in three days and that the baker’s dream meant that Pharaoh would kill him in three days. Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him and get him out of prison.)  BOTH ROPES
  43. 47.  PHARAOH – Restored the cupbearer and killed the baker, just as Joseph had predicted.  (Exactly as Joseph had interpreted the dreams, the cupbearer went back to work, but the baker was killed.) BOTH ROPES
  44. 48.  THE CUPBEARER – Forgot about Joseph for two years.  (Not cool!  Joseph got him free, and he totally forgot about Joseph.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  45. 49.  PHARAOH – Had two dreams that worried him.  (These dreams were definitely from God.  One was about seven fat cows that got eaten by seven skinny cows, and the other was about seven healthy heads of grain that got eaten by seven sick heads of grain.)  BOTH ROPES
  46. 50.  PHARAOH – Called all his magicians and wise men, but no one could interpret the dreams. (God was saving the interpretation for Joseph.)  BOTH ROPES
  47. 51.  THE CUPBEARER – Remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about his ability to interpret dreams.  (Finally!) BOTH ROPES
  48. 52.  PHAROAH – Called for Joseph to come to interpret his dreams. (It’s just about to get really good!) BOTH ROPES
  49. 53.  JOSEPH – Interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and gave him advice about how to prepare for the coming famine.  (Joseph didn’t take any of the credit for his ability.  He gave it all to God, and he helped Pharaoh understand that the dreams meant there would be seven years of plenty of food followed by seven years of starvation.)  BOTH ROPES
  50. 54.  PHARAOH – Put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt, gave him his official ring, robes, chain and chariot and gave him a wife. (Pharaoh realized no one would do a better job than Joseph at saving the country, so he put him in charge of everything!) BOTH ROPES
  51. 55.  GOD – Allowed a famine throughout all of the world.  (A famine is a bad thing, but God allowed it to help many people stop believing in false gods and start believing in Him.)  BOTH ROPES
  52. 56.  JOSEPH – Managed the food in Egypt well so that no one had to starve during the famine. (God gave Joseph excellent management skills, and he saved so much food during the good years that there was plenty of food for everyone during the seven years of famine.) BOTH ROPES
  53. 57.  JACOB – Sent Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to get food for the family.  (It wasn’t just the people in Egypt who couldn’t grow food during the famine.  People all over the world started coming to Egypt, because they were the only ones with food.)  BOTH ROPES
  54. 58.  JOSEPH – Recognized his brothers when they came to buy grain but didn’t reveal his identity.  (Joseph knew that he had to test his brothers to make sure that they had changed.) BOTH ROPES
  55. 59.  JOSEPH – Tested his brothers to see if his younger brother, Benjamin, was still alive.  (First of all, Joseph was worried that his younger brother might have been killed or sold into slavery, so he made his brothers go and get him to bring him to Egypt.)  BOTH ROPES
  56. 60.  JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Returned home to get Benjamin, but they had to leave Simeon, who was put into prison.  (To make sure that they would come back, Joseph made them leave Simeon behind.)  BOTH ROPES
  57. 61.  JACOB – Didn’t want to let his sons take Benjamin, but he finally gave in when they got too hungry.  (Jacob was afraid that the ruler (actually Joseph) in Egypt might keep Benjamin, so he didn’t want to let him go.  In the end, though, they needed the food for survival.) FREE WILL ROPE
  58. 62.  JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Returned to Egypt with Benjamin and two times the money needed to pay for food.  (They returned with twice the money, because Joseph had their money put back in their grain sacks before they left the first time.  That shows that he had forgiven them.  He didn’t want their money, and he didn’t want to get even.)  BOTH ROPES
  59. 63.  JOSEPH – Tested his brothers one more time to see if their hearts had changed.  (Now that Joseph saw Benjamin, he was relieved, but he still wondered if his brothers were the same, evil people that they had once been, so he tested them one more time by sending them back with a silver cup hidden in Benjamin’s sack.  After they had left, he sent his official to find out who “stole” his cup.  He wanted to know if they would sacrifice Benjamin for their own safety.)  BOTH ROPES
  60. 64.  JUDAH – Offered to be Joseph’s slave if Joseph would just let Benjamin and the others go. (To Joseph’s surprise and joy, Judah offered to become a slave in order to free Benjamin.  Judah was the brother who led the others to sell Joseph into slavery, but his heart had changed over the years.)  BOTH ROPES
  61. 65.  JOSEPH – Revealed his identity to his brothers and sent them back to get their father and bring him to Egypt. (When he was sure that his brothers had changed, Joseph told them who he was.  They had dinner together, and he told them the whole story.  Then, he sent them back to get the whole family.)  BOTH ROPES
  62. 66.  PHARAOH – Approved for Joseph’s family to live in the best part of Egypt.  (Pharaoh trusted Joseph so much and was so grateful for his wise leadership that he gave Joseph’s family the best land in Egypt to live in.)  BOTH ROPES
  63. 67.  JACOB – Brought his whole family to Egypt.  (70 people in all!)  BOTH ROPES
  64. 68.  JOSEPH – Reunited with his father and family and received his father’s blessing.  (Jacob was so happy to see Joseph alive!  The two had a great reunion.)  BOTH ROPES
  65. 69.  JOSEPH – Forgave his brothers for the terrible things they had done to him. (Joseph really forgave his brothers.  In fact, he told them that he knew they meant to hurt him, but God allowed it to happen so that he could save many lives.) BOTH ROPES
  66. 70.  MOSES – Led the Hebrews out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. (And that wasn’t the end of the story, because Jacob’s family lived in Egypt for 400 years.  During that time, they were protected from the evil religions that were in the country of Canaan, where they had come from, and they were able to grow from 70 people to over 2 million.  When the time was right and the Hebrews were ready, God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt and back into the Promised Land of Canaan.)  BOTH ROPES
  • CONCLUSION:
  • “Notice how often people in this story did their own free will apart from God’s will.”
  • “But also notice that God always brought events back in line with His will.”
  • “So here’s the answer to how God can allow us to have free will and sin but still accomplish His perfect will in the end…”
  • “No matter what these people did, God would take it and use it for His purposes.”
  • “Even when they sinned, He turned it around and made it work for good.”
  • “In the end, God brings everything in line with His will.”  (Grab the end of the Free Will rope.  Then go to the “eternity” end of the red rope, and pull on the Free Will rope until it straightens out right next to the red rope.  This shows how God brings everything into alignment with His purposes in the end.)
  • “You’ve probably noticed that the ‘God’s Will’ rope is red.  That’s to symbolize the blood of Jesus, that has the power to bring our Free Will into alignment with God’s Will.”
  • “Satan is a bigger trickster than Jacob, Rebekah and Laban put together, and he constantly tries to get us to pull away from God’s Will.”  (Gently pull several of your volunteers back away from the red rope as they hold onto the “Free Will” rope.)
  • “But no matter what he tricks us into doing, God offers to help us line up with His will if we will just trust in the blood of Jesus.”  (Pull the ropes together again.)
  • “When you accept Jesus’ sacrifice of His own life on the cross as payment for your sins, God brings everything in line with His will.”
  • “He will take all the bad and sinful choices you made and use them in a positive way.”
  • “He will take all the terrible things other people did to you and use them in a positive way.”
  • “And even though you can still make choices that take you away from God when you are a believer…”  (Pull one of your volunteers and the “Free Will” rope away from the red rope.)
  • “If you ask God for forgiveness, He will bring those bad choices back into line with His will.”  (Pull the ropes together again.)
  • “Romans 8:28 says that God will use ALL things for the good of those who love Him.”
  • “God is pretty amazing, don’t you think?”  (Acknowledge responses, thank your volunteers and allow them to be seated.)

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Joseph’s Journey


For summer camp this year, I’ve written ten Challenges (Bible activities for small groups and a leader to do together – sometimes in competition with other groups) and some large group lessons on the story of Joseph. They are all located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page (see the link at the top of the screen), and you can find them alphabetically in the list. They all start with the letters “JJ” for “Joseph’s Journey.”

Hope you can find some lessons that will be useful for you!

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Priorities – Mary vs. Martha (DEVOTION)


Read the following Scriptures, and discuss the questions below as a table group.

  • Luke 10:38-42
  • John 11:1-3, 17-44
  • John 12:1-8
  1. Compare and contrast the two sisters.
  2. What is Mary doing that is similar in each of these Scriptures?
  3. What is Martha doing that is similar in each of these Scriptures?
  4. Why do you think Jesus said that Mary’s choice was better in the passage from Luke?
  5. How are you sometimes like Martha?
  6. What is the danger of living our lives like Martha all the time?
  7. What is the best combination of Mary-type priorities and Martha-type priorities for your life?

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Filed under activity, Character, Devotion, Martha, Mary, Priorities, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Health

Needs Analysis (DEVOTION)


As a group, read the following Scriptures, and use the form to do a needs analysis of the situation.

Matthew 17:14-20         Mark 9:14-29       Luke 9:37-43

Symptoms

  • What are the main issues?
  • What isn’t working well?
  • What is obvious about the problem(s)?

Suffering

  • What pain is it causing?
  • Who/what is impacted by the performance gap?
  • What is it costing individuals, the team or the organization?

Significance

  • What are the organizational goals that are being impacted by the lack of performance?
    • (If possible, tie these in with the organization’s strategy, vision or mission.)
  • What is the potential cost to the organization if the goals and outcomes aren’t achieved and the performance problem isn’t addressed?

Success

  • What is the desired performance?
  • What does success look like?
  • What are the expectations?
  • How will we know when we get there?

Status

  • What is happening now?
  • What level of performance is currently being achieved?
  • What are the gaps between the desired performance and the current performance?

Sources

  • Why is the gap happening?
    • Know, Grow, Whoa, Mo, Go
  • Who or what is responsible?

Solutions

  1. 1.    Suggest
  • What do you recommend?
  • Who should do what by when?
  1. 2.    Select
  • Typically done by key leaders or stakeholders.
  1. 3.    Start
  • Typically done by key leaders or stakeholders.
  1. 4.    Status (Celebrate or Start Over)
  • Return to the Status step to evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.

 

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Filed under Apostles, demons, Devotion, Disciples, faith, Healing, Jesus, leadership, Management, Needs Analysis, Overcoming obstacles, Performance, Problem solving, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth, test

Weakness (DEVOTION)


As a group, read the following Scriptures, and then discuss the questions below.

  • Psalm 10:2 (the wicked man hunts down the weak)
  • Psalm 41:1-3 (blessed are those who have regard for the weak)
  • Isaiah 40:29-31 (He increases the power of the weak)
  • Ezekiel 34:16 (I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak)
  • Acts 20:35 (we must help the weak)
  • Romans 8:26 (the Spirit helps us in our weakness)
  • Romans 14:1-4 (accept the one whose faith is weak)
  • Romans 15:1 (bear with the failings of the weak)
  • 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (God chose the weak things to shame the strong)
  • 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (to the weak, I became weak)
  • 1 Corinthians 12:21-26 (the weaker parts of the body are indispensable)
  • 2 Corinthians 11:30 (I will boast of the things that show my weakness)
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (for when I am weak, then I am strong)
  • Hebrews 5:1-3 (the high priest is subject to weakness)
  1. How does God feel about weakness?
  2. How is this different from how the world often feels about and acts toward weakness?
  3. How are we called to respond to weakness?
  4. How do these Scriptures relate to the weaknesses people have in regard to the work that they do and the relationships that they are in?
  5. Do you think God wants us to fix our weaknesses?  Why or why not?

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Filed under acceptance, Agape Love, Bullying, Challenges, Devotion, Humility, Kindness, Love, Relationships, self-image, Self-worth, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Health, Strengths, struggles, temptation, Weakness

Under the Radar (GAME)


Audience

Teens, Adults

Time

30-35 minutes
Description

This game helps participants to understand how challenging it is to get feedback “in under the radar” without raising the intended recipient’s defensiveness.  Participants will enjoy trying to get beanbags into a target.  The beanbags represent their feedback, and the target represents the recipient’s heart.

Scriptures

o  Proverbs 15:1, 18; 21:23

Materials

o  Beanbags (three per team – if you can’t find beanbags to buy, you can make simple ones with small ziplock bags or drawstring bags filled with beans or rice)

o  Posterboard (1 sheet per team)

o  Markers (2-3 – Red, Green and Black if you want it)

o  Masking tape

o  Note cards (3 per team)

o  A bag or pouch with material that you cannot see through (1 per team)

o  Scissors

o  Bible

Preparation

o  Create a target on the posterboard.  Start with a 6” x 6” circle in the middle.  Then draw concentric circles around it, making each new one about 6” bigger all around.

o  Write point values in each of the circles.  The center circle is worth 50 points.  The next, bigger circle is worth 25.  The next, bigger circle is worth 15.  The next one is worth 10, and if you have any edge left on the poserboard, you can mark that worth 5 points.

o  Buy or make your bean bags.

o  Place the posterboard targets on the ground, and mark a boundary for the throwers with a piece of tape on the floor.  It should be about 8-10 feet away from the target.

o  Mark three more lines of tape on the floor at 25%, 50% and 75% of the way between the throwing line and the target.

o  Cut the notecards in half, and put a large, colored dot on each one (Make 3 with RED dots and 3 with GREEN dots for each group.)

o  Mix up the 6 half-cards, and put them into a bag/pouch.

o  Practice the script.

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Giving feedback isn’t easy.”
  • “We want our feedback to be taken to heart by the person we are giving it to.”
  • “Their heart is our target.”
  • “If the feedback doesn’t make it to their heart, they won’t do anything about it.”
  • “And even when we give feedback with a pure heart and a desire to help the other person, there is no guarantee that our feedback will hit its target.”
  • “There are many things that can rise up and block our feedback from reaching its target, and one of the most common obstacles is defensiveness.”  (Ask a volunteer to come to the front and represent the person to whom you want to give feedback.)
  • “When we are trying to send our feedback to its target…”  (Demonstrate “feedback” flying through the air in the direction of the volunteer with your hand.) “…if we don’t skillfully send it into the target area, the person’s defensiveness radar will see it coming….”  (Have the volunteer make a beeping sound to represent a radar system, and ask them to speed up their beeping as you get closer.) “…and the defensive walls will go up!”  (Have the volunteer put up their hands and block your feedback from reaching its target.  Then, thank and dismiss the volunteer.)
  • “So, let’s play a game that demonstrates this difficulty.”
  • “It’s called ‘Under the Radar,’ and your goal is to throw a beanbag onto a target to earn points.”
  • “You will have to stand here at this line to make your throw and try to hit that target.”  (Demonstrate so that participants get the idea.)
  • “That would be challenging by itself, but it’s more difficult than that.”
  • “I’m going to divide you into a team of three and then make you compete against another team of three.”
  • “Three people will get a chance to throw their ‘feedback’ onto the target, and the team that they are competing against will get a chance to block them.”
  • “Here’s how it will work.”
  • “Each person throwing will get three chances to hit the target, but before they throw, they have to draw three cards out of this bag.”
  • “Inside the bag are eight (6) notecards – three with RED dots and three with GREEN dots.”
  • “If they draw a card with a RED dot, the other team gets to put a person on one of the strips of tape between the throwing line and the target.“
  • “This person represents defensiveness on the part of the person receiving the feedback.”
  • “They have to stand on the tape, but they can do whatever they can from that point to try to block your ‘feedback’ from reaching its target.”
  • “If the person throwing draws two RED dots, two of the opposing team get to stand on the tape marks (different ones).”
  • “If he/she draw three RED dots, three of the opposing team get to stand on the tape marks.”
  • “If less than three RED dots are drawn in the three draws, not all opposing team members will get to stand on the tape marks.”
  • “Those not on tape marks are not allowed to interfere with the throws.”
  • “GREEN cards are good for the throwing team and keep the opposing team off the tape marks.”
  • “After drawing three cards from the bag, the thrower should make three throws and see how close to the center of the target that he/she can get while trying to avoid the defenses of the opposing team members on the tape marks.”
  • “After that team member has made their three shots, add up the total points.”
  • “Then, move the opposing team members off the tape marks, and let the other two team members take turns drawing three cards and take three throws while avoiding the defenses of any opposing players who get onto tape marks because of RED dot cards.”
  • “When all three team members have thrown, the opposing team gets their turn to throw and see how many points they can accumulate.”
  • “The team that has the most total points (from all nine throws) wins.”
  • “Any questions?” (After addressing questions, divide the group into groups of three and pair up the teams of three against each other.  Then, have them choose who will throw first and let them play.  When they are done, recognize or reward the winning teams, and have them return to their seats to work through the following debrief questions.)

Debrief Questions

1. What was challenging about the game?

2. If you compare the game to giving someone feedback, what comparisons can you make?

3. What types of things make people’s defensiveness go up?

4. How can you give feedback in a way that won’t make people defensive?

5. Read Proverbs 15:1, 18 and 21:23.  Do these Scriptures give you any additional ideas?

Summary

  • “Sometimes, you only get once chance to send that feedback in there, so you want to make sure that it has the best chance possible of hitting it’s target.”

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Filed under acceptance, conflict management, Conflict Resolution, discipleship, Evaluation, Game, Games that Teach, Hands-on, heart, Humility, leadership, Relationships, self-image, Spiritual Growth, team, Transformation

Out of Orbit (Obj Lesson)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This object lesson teaches about how difficult it can be for us to stay focused on following Jesus.

 

Scriptures

  • Philippians 3:12-14

Materials

  • A toy rocket or spaceship (or if you don’t have anything like that, improvise with a cardboard tube or just about anything else – the kids won’t mind)
  • One large ball (preferably yellow or orange)
  • Several smaller balls of varying sizes
  • Permanent marker
  • Index cards (one for each ball)
  • Tape
  • Bible

Preparation

  • Write the following words on different index cards, “SON,” “WORLD,” “Jealousy,” “Bitterness,” “Selfishness,” “Unkindness,” “Worry,” “Doubt,” “Foolishness,” “Pride,” “Fear,” “Greed,” “Ignorance,” or any others that you want to use.  The only ones that are required are the “SON” card and the “WORLD” card.
  • Tape these cards onto different balls.  The “SON” card should be taped to the largest ball.
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Do any of you ever have trouble staying focused on following God?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “Me, too!  It’s so hard to always do what is right and stay on the path toward Him.”
  • “We are kind of like a rocket ship heading toward the sun (but actually, we are headed to the S-O-N, because we won’t burn up when we reach Him!)”  (Ask for enough volunteers to hold all the props you’ve brought – one for the rocket ship and one for each ball.  Put the person holding the “SON” ball at one end of the room, and place the person with the “WORLD” ball and the person with the rocket ship at the other end of the room.  Space those with the balls along either side of the path between the large ball and the rocket ship.)
  • “Before we know Jesus, we are stuck in the WORLD’s orbit.”  (Guide the person with the rocket ship by the shoulders to make several orbits around the person with the “WORLD” ball.”
  • “But then, we catch a glimpse of the SON and decide we want to follow Him.”
  • “We break free from the WORLD’s orbit and start heading toward the SON.”  (Guide the person with the rocket ship slowly toward the SON, but as soon as you get to the first person with a ball on the path, break off and orbit around that person.”
  • “Unfortunately, on the way to the SON, we get distracted by ________ (name whatever is printed on the card on the ball), and we go into orbit around it for a while.” (Keep going around this person.)
  • “The more times we go around _____________ (say what is on the ball again), the more we hate it, but it is soooooooo hard to break free from its gravitational pull!”  (Keep going around this person.)
  • “We keep seeing the SON every time we pass around __________________ (say the name of the ball), and eventually, His power pulls us free of the orbit of the dead planet we have been circling.”  (Break free and start back toward the SON.)
  • “Not everything is a temptation for us, so we will be able to pass some of these dead planets without any problem, but our Enemy, Satan, is not going to give us up without a fight.
  • “He will put a very tempting planet in our path, and sure enough, we will get distracted looking at it and get sucked into its gravitational pull!” (Guide the person with rocket to begin orbiting this new dead planet.)
  • “Even though the planet looked tempting from a distance, when we get close to it, we find that it is empty and lifeless.  It doesn’t satisfy.”
  • “The SON won’t let us forget Him.  We will see Him on every orbit, and eventually, He will pull us free from that dead planet and set us back on the path toward Him.”  (Guide the person with the rocket to break away and head toward the Son.)
  • “This keeps happening over and over and over again.  It’s very frustrating!”  (Guide the person with the rocket to get sucked into one orbit and then break away and then get sucked into another orbit and so on….)
  • “But there is good news!  The closer we get to the SON, the easier it gets to break free from these temptations.”
  • “We get stronger and stronger in our faith and our ability to resist temptation, and we stay longer and longer on the path toward the SON.”
  • “We just need to keep striving to reach the SON.  Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
  • “Paul was saying that he doesn’t look back at what’s behind him; he just keeps straining toward what is ahead of him.”
  • “He keeps his ship pointed toward the SON, and when he gets off-course, he gets back on-course as soon as possible to follow the SON.”
  • “One day, it will be time, and the SON will bring us the rest of the way to Him when we join Him in heaven (or when He comes back to join us on earth).  (Guide the person with the rocket ship to the SON and have him orbit the SON several times before ending the lesson.)

 

 

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Filed under Challenges, Daily walk, God's Will, Jesus, Obedience, Object Lesson, Pride, Repentance, sanctification, Satan's tactics, Spiritual Growth, temptation

Tapped In (OBJ LESSON)


Time

15-20 minutes
Description

This object lesson teaches that you need to stay connected to Jesus in order to have the power to live a godly life and produce the fruit of the Spirit.

Scriptures

  • John 7:37-39, 15:1-5
  • Galatians 5:22

Materials

  • Garden hose (long enough to reach your teaching area from the water spigot
  • Short garden hose (a hose reel leader hose works well)
  • Two quick connect adapters for the hose – need to have an automatic stopper so that the water doesn’t continue to flow after you disconnect it
  • Water nozzle (as small as you can find so that you can use it to fill water balloons)
  • Water supply that you can hook the hose to
  • Nine large balloons (purple is the best color for the lesson if you can find it – you may want to have extra balloons in case any pop or have a leak)
  • Posterboard – one sheet of any light color or white
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Permanent marker to label nine, small signs with the name of the nine fruits of the Spirit
  • Lanyard or twine
  • Clear, plastic tub to hold the balloons as they fill with water
  • Thin piece of plywood or piece of plastic or metal (4 ft long) with nine 3/4 in holes drilled in it about 5 inches apart and 5 inches from the end of either side of the board.  (You can often find a piece of metal that has pre-drilled holes in it that will work just fine near the shelving part of your local hardware store.)
  • Drill and ¾ inch drillbit (if you need to make the board mentioned above)
  • Nine, large washers with a ½ inch hold in the center (the washers must be big enough that they won’t fall out of the balloon once you put them in the opening)
  • Bible

Preparation

  • (SEE DIAGRAMS AT END OF LESSON)
  • Connect the hose to the water spigot.
  • Connect the quick connect adapter (the one with the automatic stopper) to the end of the hose, and turn on the water.  Use a steady stream of water but not full force – maybe about 1/4-1/2 turn.
  • Connect the short hose to the quick connect adapter at the end of the longer hose.
  • Connect the other quick connect adapter to the end of the short hose, and screw on the water nozzle.
  • Run the hose segments and the nozzle into the teaching area.
  • Make a large sign that says, “DISOBEDIENCE,” and put it on the lanyard/twine so that someone can wear it around their neck.
  • Ask a volunteer to be your “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer and to be ready when you call them.  Give him/her the sign to wear when the time is right.
  • Put a washer in the opening of each balloon.
  • Push each balloon through one of the nine holes in your board.  The opening of the balloon and the washer should be on top of the hole with the rest of the balloon below the board.
  • Put the board with the balloons across the clear, plastic tub so that the balloons hang down into the tub.
  • Cut out nine, small rectangles from the posterboard (each about 4 in long and 2 in tall).
  • Write the nine fruits of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control) on these.
  • Tape the signs to the bottom of the tub on the outside, facing the audience.  Each sign should be in front of a different balloon.
  • Practice

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “I’m going to show you why it is so important for you to stay close to God.”
  • “The night before Jesus was crucified, he said something very important to his closest disciples.”  (Have volunteer read John 15:1-5.)
  • “Jesus was making a comparison between His relationship with His disciples and a grapevine.”
  • “Jesus said that He is the grapevine.  That’s the thickest part of the plant that is rooted to the ground.”
  • “He said that the disciples are branches and that the branches hold the fruit.”
  • “We know from Galatians 5:22 that the fruit that Jesus is talking about is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (If the kids are not familiar with the fruit of the Spirit, you might want to take a moment to describe each one for them.)
  • “And He says that if we (as the branches) don’t stay connect to Him (the vine), we won’t have any of this fruit.”
  • “But….if we stay connected to Jesus, we will have LOTS of fruit.”  (Ask for a volunteer to come to the front, and allow him/her to help you in the following demonstration.)
  • “I don’t have a grapevine here today, and even if I did, we don’t have an entire season to watch the grapes grow on the vine.”
  • “So, instead of using a real grapevine, I’m going to use this hose, this nozzle and these balloons to demonstrate what Jesus is talking about.”  (Ask volunteer to hold the nozzle at the end of the hose.)
  • “Imagine that this hose represents Jesus as the vine.”
  • “Through Him comes a steady flow of living water, which the Bible tells us is the Holy Spirit according to John 7:39.”  (Turn on the nozzle (if it isn’t already) and have the volunteer point it into the tub.  Have another volunteer read John 7:37-39.)
  • “This nozzle represents us as the branches, and these nine balloons represent the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  They are like the grapes on the vine.”
  • “Now, the goal is to produce fruit and lots of it.”
  • “We produce fruit by filling the balloons with the water.  This is like the Holy Spirit flowing through us (the nozzle) to do the good works that the fruit represents.”  (Allow your volunteer to begin to fill one of the balloons.  Turn off the nozzle when the balloon is full enough that the water doesn’t come shooting back out the top – over half-way.)
  • “But by itself, this nozzle is pretty useless.  It has no water of its own to share.”
  • “We can’t connect just the nozzle to a balloon and fill it.”  (Disconnect the nozzle from the hose and give it to the volunteer.  Ask them to try to fill the balloons with just the nozzle.)
  • “That’s what it’s like if we try to do God’s work without God.”
  • “There is just no power in it.”
  • “So we have to stay connected to the hose if we want to have the power to do the work that God has given us to do.”  (Reconnect the nozzle, and let the volunteer continue filling the first balloon.  When it gets about full, start filling up another balloon.)
  • “What does it mean to be connected to the hose?  In other words, how can we stay connected to Jesus so that His Spirit flows through us and produces fruit?”
  • “There are two things we need to do in order to stay connected to the hose/to Jesus.”
  • “We need to spend time with God, and we need to obey God.”
  • “If we do these two things, we will stay connected to Jesus, and His power will flow through us and produce lots of fruit.”  (Allow volunteer to keep filling balloons slowly.  Don’t allow them to fill all the balloons before you finish the next part.)
  • “How can we spend time with God?”  (Listen to answers.  You are looking for things like, “Go to church, worship, praise, pray, read your Bible…”)
  • “Excellent! During those times, God will tell us what He wants us to do in our lives.”
  • “But spending time with Him is not enough.  We have to also do what He says.”
  • “Sometimes, we know what God wants us to do, but we don’t want to do it.”
  • “That’s called ‘DISOBEDIENCE’ (bring your “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer forward), and it’s disconnecting the hose so that the living water won’t pass through.” (Have “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer disconnect the hose so that the water stops.)
  • “Disobedience stops the flow of the living water coming through your nozzle.”
  • “Another word for ‘disobedience’ is ‘sin.’”
  • “Sin stops the flow of God’s power, which He sends through His Holy Spirit, through you.”
  • “But it’s easy to get the living water flowing again. What do you think you have to do?”  (Listen to responses.  You are looking for someone to say, “obey.”)
  • “That’s right!  Obey, and living water flows through you again to create more fruit.”  (Have “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer reconnect hose, and allow volunteer to fill in the rest of the balloons.  Then dismiss the volunteer.)
  • “So what are the two things we need to do to stay connected to God?”  (Listen for the answers, “spend time with Him” and “obey Him.”)
  • “Fantastic! Let’s all go and produce lots of fruit!”


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Filed under Annointing, Daily walk, Fruit of the Spirit, Hands-on, Listening to God, Obedience, Object Lesson, sanctification, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Health, Transformation

Pump You Up


hans-and-franz

Time

15-20 minutes

Description

This object lesson teaches that God uses difficult times and circumstances to make us stronger. It’s a play off the Saturday Night Live skit on Hans and Franz, but the kids will not need to be familiar with the skit to enjoy the humor. It’s best if there are two leaders to do the lesson, but you can do it with just one.

Materials

  • Sweat pants and a sweat shirt (for both)
  • Newspaper (or something else to stuff inside your sweats to simulate muscles)
  • Thick belts (or something that looks like a weight belt)
  • Dowel rod (3/4 inch diameter)
  • Styrofoam balls (2 – six-inch diameter or larger)
  • Duct tape
  • Black spray paint
  • Sheet of paper with some writing on it. (It doesn’t matter what it says.)

Preparation

· Make a set of “barbells” by following these steps:

o Paint the two Styrofoam balls black.

o Wrap the duct tape around the dowel rod from top to bottom so that it is completely covered.

o Attach the two Styrofoam balls to either end of the dowel rod.

· Put on the sweats, and stuff them with newspaper to make it look like you’ve got huge muscles all over your body.

· Practice the script (and your Austrian accent).

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

Hans: “Good morning (afternoon, evening) little boys and girls. My name is Hans.”

Franz: “Ya, ya, and I’m Franz, and we’re here to….”

Both: “Pump….you up!” (Clap hands in unison on the word ‘pump.’ Then point to all the kids in exaggerated motions, and do poses like they would do at a body building competition.)

Hans: “But before we can pump you up tonight, we have a letter to read from one of our fans.” (Hans pulls out letter. Franz celebrates letter with some exaggerated poses.)

Hans: “Dear, Hans and Franz: Lifting weights hurts my muscles. Isn’t there an easier way to get properly pumped up?” (Crumples paper, and throws away.)

Hans: “Can you believe that, Franz? This girlie-man wants properly pumped up muscles without it hurting his weak and flabby body. What do you think about that?”

Franz: “Well, Hans, I can hardly believe he could pick up a pencil to write with those teeny tiny muscles of his.”

Hans: “Ya, maybe he had his mommy-wommy write it for him.”

Franz: “Ya, right! Kids, hear me now and believe me later, you cannot get a properly pumped up body like this one (does a few poses) without pain.”

Hans: “So true! As the King of Pumptitude, Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, says, ‘No pain – no gain!’”

Franz: “See this barbell here?” (Point to barbell.

Franz: “They will give me perfectly shaped ab muscles and glutes.”

Hans: “Ya, and perfect pinky toe muscles, too, ya!”

Franz: “Well, theses weights actually tear down my muscle tissue. Then, my body repairs my muscles and makes them stronger than before.”

Hans: “Tearing down your muscles first is how weights work to….”

Both: “Pump….you up!”

Franz: “Hans, I went to church the other day.”

Hans: “Ya, Franz. I bet you had more muscle than even the pastor.”

Franz: “Ya, Hans, but he said something that convinced me he is no girlie-man.”

Hans: “What was it, Franz?”

Franz: “He said that sometimes bad things happen to us and tear us down like puny muscle tissue. But then God builds us back up stronger than we were before!”

Hans: “Hey, Franz, it sounds like that pastor has some really super-sized spiritual muscles!”

Franz: “Ya, Hans. Maybe he’s the King of Spiritual Pumptitude.”

Hans: “Kids, hear me now and write to me next Christmas, hard times build up your puny spiritual muscles!”

Franz: “No more talking. Time to show these kids how powerful our muscles are.”

Hans: “Ya, watch me lift this barbell through the roof into the outer atmosphere.” (Pretend to try to pick up the barbell several times. Exaggerate the strain you are exerting, and eventually fail. Then, let Franz try with no success.)

Franz: (Whispering to Hans loudly enough that everyone can hear.) “Hans, this is obviously cemented to the floor. That’s the reason we can’t pick it up.”

Hans: (Whispering back) “Ya, Franz. Let’s play a trick on all these girly-men in the audience. (To audience) This barbell is too easy for us to lift. One of you puny people should come try to lift it so that it will be more of a challenge to you. Who wants to try?” (Pick the smallest volunteer you can find – preferably a girl – and let her come lift the barbell. When she does, look at each other in mock surprise and say…)

Both: “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” (….as you pretend to bow down to the volunteer. Then thank her, and send her back to her seat.)

Franz: “So, kids, when something bad happens to you, remember to ask God how He wants to grow your puny spiritual muscles.” (So several muscle flexes, and then end lesson.)

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