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Mind Pollution


Time

15-20 minutes

Description

This object lesson teaches about how important it is to protect our mind from negative influences. It uses a simple visual aid of water and food coloring.

Materials

  • Display table
  • Red, green or blue food coloring
  • Large, clear (see-through) container
  • Two or three pitchers
  • Enough water to fill each of the pitchers and half the large container
  • (Optional) Bottle of bleach

Preparation

· Test the experiment to make sure you know how it works. (Note: if you use too much food coloring, it will be difficult to dilute. A drop at a time is best.)

· Set up the large, clear container (half-full with water) on a display table.

· Have the pitchers and food coloring nearby.

· Practice the script.

Procedure

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

· “Your mind is an incredible creation of God.”

· “It has over 100 billion neurons that send electrical pulses back and forth to each other. These are your thoughts, and you are capable of having more thoughts than the number of known atoms in the entire universe!” (Source: Tony Buzan, Head Strong 2001)

· “Your brain is incredible!”

· “And did you know, that your brain is approximately 75% water?”

· “That’s why I’m going to use this container of water to represent your brain in this lesson.”

· “We will say that this container represents your precious, incredible brain.”

· “The water inside it represents your thoughts.”

· “I have some pitchers of clean water here, and they are going to represent good things that you can put into your brain.”

· “Can anyone help me think of some good things that you can put into your brain?” (Take responses. If the kids need help, try to steer them toward things like Scripture, positive thoughts, encouragement/praise, positive music, learning, worship, thinking about God…)

· “Great, that’s exactly what I’m talking about!”

· “I also have some food coloring up here, and it represents some bad things you can put into your brain.”

· “Who can help me think of some bad things that we could put into our brains?” (Take responses. If the kids need help, try to steer them toward things like profanity, gossip, lies, music with bad lyrics, the Lord’s name used in vain, mean thoughts, self-defeating or limiting talk, hurtful talk, movies or TV with bad scenes, bad pictures, jokes with inappropriate themes…)

· “Exactly! We’ve got to watch out for that kind of stuff!”

· “For this demonstration, I’m going to need a volunteer. Who would like to come help me?” (Select volunteer.)

· “Okay, notice how clear this water is. It’s like our minds the way that God first created them – pure and beautiful.”

· “Let’s say that we are really careful, and we only allow good things into our brain.” (Have volunteer pour some water into container from one of the pitchers.)

· “See what happened? We got more brain!”

· “Okay, it doesn’t work exactly like that, but let’s say that this is like gaining wisdom.”

· “When we add good things, like Scripture, positive thoughts, encouragement/praise… we grow in wisdom and knowledge, and our mind stays clear and clean.”

· “But what if we aren’t so careful, and we allow in some jokes that are hurtful to other people.” (Have volunteer squirt a drop of food coloring into the water in the container. Then pause to allow the children to see the effect. Just one drop of food coloring will spread and spread throughout the water until it has tinted the whole thing.)

· “Wow! Did you see that? Just that one little drop of bad stuff changed the whole color of the water.”

· “And what if we still aren’t so careful, and we allow in some inappropriate pictures (have volunteer add drop) …and profanity (add drop) ….and music with negative lyrics (add drop) …and some negative self-talk about what a loser we are or how stupid we are at math (add drop).”

· “Look what happens then. Our minds are getting darker and darker.”

· “What should we do about that?” (Listen to responses. When someone suggests to add more good things, continue.)

· “Right! Exactly! We need to add more good stuff – more Scripture and positive thoughts and godly advice from our parents…Romans 12:2 says that we should stop doing what the rest of the world does and start being transformed by renewing our minds. That’s the same thing as adding in the good stuff.” (Have volunteer pour in more water.)

· “But do you see the problem I’m seeing?” (Listen for responses.)

· “The water (our minds) are not going back to clear again. We are diluting the bad stuff, but it’s taking a lot more water than it did food coloring to improve our mind here.”

· “That’s the way sin works. Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul warned that, ‘a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.’ (Matthew 13:33 and 1 Corinthians 5:6)

· “Yeast is an image of sin in the Bible, so Jesus and Paul are saying that a little sin will spread until it ruins everything.”

· “So, as soon as we realize the damage we are doing to our minds, we’ve got to stop adding yeast / sin.”

· “Then, we’ve got to add lots and lots of good stuff by going to church, hanging out with godly friends, listening to our parents, changing the music we listen to, changing the movies we watch, reading the Bible every day, memorizing Scripture, studying about God…” (As you are mentioning these things, have the volunteer pour more water into the container with each suggestion. Try to fill the container until it’s full – unless you plan to continue with the bleach part of the lesson.)

· “Good habits are going to be the best way to dilute the bad stuff that you already have in your minds.”

· “And it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have to work at it every day.”

· “And when you allow bad stuff in, it’s going to take much longer to dilute it than it did to let it in there.”

· “It’s like when I eat too much food. It might take me an hour of exercise to burn the amount of calories I ate even though it only took me five minutes to eat it.”

· “Because our minds are so awesome, I don’t believe the bad stuff ever goes away.”

· “I think our brains have the ability to hold onto everything we’ve ever put in there (even though sometimes it’s hard to remember where you left your stuff).”

· “If you put lots of bad stuff in your mind, that’s the bad news. The good news is, that your mind will never be too full of good stuff, so you can keep on adding it in!” (Thank your volunteer, and allow him/her to return to his/her seat.)

Optional Section – Adding Bleach

· “Now, there is one more thing that you can do that we haven’t talked about.”

· “You can give all that bad stuff you put into your mind to God in prayer.”

· “This bleach represents our prayers to God. (By the way, kids, bleach is a powerful and dangerous chemical. You should never handle it unless you have an adult there with you.)”

· “I don’t think the bad stuff we’ve put in our minds ever goes away, but we can turn it over to God in prayer, and He will use it for good.” (Pour bleach into the tinted water. It might take quite a bit of bleach (and you may need to stir it), but it will eventually take the tint out of the water. The result will be a yellowish liquid – not perfect, but no longer tinted with the original colors.)

· “Romans 8:28 tells us that God will use ALL things for the good of those who love Him.”

· “That means that He will even take the bad stuff we’ve done or let into our brains and use it for His glory and His Kingdom.” (Give a personal example.)

· “But, hey! That’s not an excuse to put the bad stuff in there! Your best strategy is to keep the bad stuff out in the first place!”

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Filed under Brain, Christianity, Mind, Object Lesson, Scripture memory, spiritual disciplines

Cracked Pots


Time

10 minutes

Description

This object lesson teaches about how God uses everything for His purposes – even the things we don’t like about ourselves. If you act out the story, it can get a little messy (just with water), so you should consider that when selecting your teaching space.

Materials

These materials are optional. They are props for you to use when you tell the story.

  • Broomstick or 3” dowel rod – approximately five feet long
  • Twine or rope
  • Drill and ¾” (or larger) drillbit
  • Hammer
  • Scissors
  • Water for your two flower pots
  • Two plastic flower pots
  • Several potted plants or flowers
  • Bible

Preparation

· Drill a hole in both ends of the broomstick or dowel rod

· Drill three holes (equally spaced) around the top rim of each flower pot

· Use the hammer to put a crack in the side of one of the flower pots about halfway up. It’s important that the crack leaks steadily, but you don’t want it so big that all your water will pour out at once.

· Cut the twine or rope into six, three foot pieces.

· Thread each piece of twine or rope through a different hole in the two buckets, and tie it off on the outside of the buckets.

· Thread the three lengths of twine or rope from each bucket into one end of the broomstick or dowel rod.

· Make sure that the three lengths are identical, then tie the three lengths or twine or rope together on the opposite side of the broomstick or dowel rod from where you threaded them in. (Do this to both buckets.)

· You should now have two water buckets on either end of the pole. During the storytelling, you will carry the pole on your shoulders.

· Set out your potted plants or flowers on one side of the room, where you will be able to walk by and spill water on them. Leave the other side of this “path” empty of flowers or plants.

· Practice the script with your props.


Procedure

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

· “Today, we are going to look at a story from the Bible about a Pharisee and a Tax Collector.”

· “During the first century when Jesus walked the earth, everyone thought Pharisee’s were ‘the best people.’ They were leaders in the church, who seemed to be very spiritual, and people thought that God must love them because they were rich.”

· “Tax collectors were considered to be ‘the worst people,’ because they were Jews who collected taxes for Rome and often stole money from the Jewish people.”

· “In this story, Jesus challenged peoples’ ideas about who were the most godly people.” (Get a volunteer to read Luke 18:9-14.)

· “So what do you think Jesus was trying to tell the people about being godly?” (Look for responses that involve the concepts of humility, pride, doing things just for show, authenticity, integrity, reprentance…)

· “You know, that story reminds me of another one…”

· “It is a story about a farmer who had to make a long walk for water each day down to the stream, where the clear water flowed.”

· “To carry the water back, he used two, large, pots that he had fashioned with his own hands. These he hung on either end of a long pole that he carried across his neck and shoulders.” (Show the pole with the two empty flower pots.)

· “Though both pots had seen some years, one was still in perfect condition.” (Show perfect pot.)

· “The other, however, had a large crack in it.” (Show cracked pot.)

· “Each day, the farmer went down the stream.” (Place the pole over your shoulders, and act out the story. Head to the place where you have your water waiting, and fill both pots full.)

· “And each day, he filled both his pots full of water. Then he headed back home.”

· “As he walked, the perfect pot kept all its water, but the cracked pot lost half its water on the path.”

· “The perfect pot was proud of its daily accomplishment, a full pot of water delivered to the farmer’s hut, and it had no respect for the cracked pot because of its inefficiency.”

· “The perfect pot thought to itself, ‘I am glad that I am not like this worthless pot beside me. I faithfully bring all that I’m given back to the hut of my master.’”

· “And to be sure, the cracked pot was ashamed of the way it wasted water on the way back to the hut each day.”

· “If only the crack were not so large or the distance from the stream not so far…”

· “It thought to itself, ‘My master has been so good to me, and I continue to fail him day after day. I’ll speak to my master and ask for his forgiveness.’”

· “So, the next morning, as the farmer was tying each of the pots to the long pole he used to carry them, the cracked pot spoke up.

· “’Master, forgive me; I’m a cracked pot.’”

· “Amused by this sudden revelation, the farmer responded, “’Why yes, you are! I’ve always known that you were cracked. I was there when it happened.’”

· “’Yes, but I’m ashamed that I’m only able to bring half a pot of water back to the hut each day. If I were whole like the other pot, I could bring back all that you trust me with each and every day.’”

· “’Little pot, if I had wanted two full pots of water,’” the farmer replied, “’I would have replaced you a long time ago.’”

· “’Have you not noticed the many, beautiful flowers on your side of the path as we make our way back to the hut each morning?’”

· “’I planted them on your side, because your crack makes it possible for me to water them each day as I walk. The other pot doesn’t share its water with the path, so nothing grows on its side.’”

The Moral of the Story

· “God is the farmer, and we are the pots.”

· “The cracks in the pot represent our sin, our imperfections, and some of our experiences.”

· “God takes our cracks (when we give them to Him) and uses them for His Kingdom and His glory.”

· “Through them, He pours Living Water on a spiritually dry and thirsty world.”

· “His Living Water brings life and beauty into peoples’ lives through us.”

· “No matter what mistakes we have made, no matter what our imperfections… God will use them if we let Him. Romans 8:28 tells us that:

‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ (emphasis mine)”

· “That’s ALL things!”

· “That includes that part of your body that you don’t like. It includes your scars. It includes your sicknesses. It includes the fact that you are small or big or skinny or fat. It includes the fact that you are not as smart as your brother or sister, that you aren’t good at sports, that you don’t know how to play a musical instrument, that you aren’t pretty or that you can’t read well.”

· “It even includes the bad things you do as long as you let God know you are sorry for them and let Him use them how He wants to.”

· “God uses everything – if we let Him.”

· “So whatever it is that you don’t like about yourself – get over it! God likes it, and He wants to use it to bless those around you. He wants to use your cracks.”

· “And don’t kid yourself. We are all ‘cracked pots.’ (I didn’t say, ‘crackpots,’ but I’m not excluding it, either.)”

· “Not one of us is perfect. The ‘perfect pots’ may look perfect on the outside, but they are cracked on the inside because of their pride or because of something else they are doing their best to hide.”

· “The difference between most of us and the ‘perfect pots’ is that we are giving God opportunities to use our cracks.”

· “He can’t use ‘perfect,’ because ‘perfect’ won’t admit that it needs God.”

· “Remember, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).”

· “If we pretend that we can do it ourselves, we rob Him of an opportunity to work through us. If we do it in our own power, we get the glory.”

· “The ‘perfect pot’ was proud of what it accomplished in its own power.”

· “But what it missed was the chance to be part of something greater than itself – to share Living Water with the world!”

· “You won’t find anywhere in the Bible where God asked us to store His blessings. He asked us to pour them out as we walk with Him.”

· “So, be a cracked pot, and let God use those cracks for His glory!”

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Filed under Christianity, Coping skills, God's Will, Humility, Object Lesson, Pride, Relationships, self-image