Tag Archives: purity

In But Not Of (LESSON)


Scriptures:

Proverbs 16:7
Daniel 1:1-20

Philippians 3:20

1 Peter 2:11-12

Description: Nebuchadnezzar’s armies invade Jerusalem and take away the best and brightest teenagers to Babylon to make them aides in the king’s court.  Daniel and his friends choose to honor God by not eating food from the king’s table.  Like Daniel and his friends, kids today will often be faced with circumstances that challenge their commitment to following the Lord.  Christians are called to be in the world, but not of the world.

This is a big lesson with lots of moving parts.  Feel free to scale it down to suit your teaching style, available time or resources.

Rhyme Time:

Not everything that others do
Is what God wants to see from you.

Time: 45 minutes

Materials:
o  Ping-pong / Table Tennis ball

  • Table
  • Something to act as a border on either side of the table (to keep the ball from falling off the edge – I used erasers.)
  • Signs for kids to wear (You can find these on the Lesson Materials and Downloads page on www.teachingthem.com.  The file is called, “In But Not Of – Signs.ppt.”  You can also make your own signs that say things like, “Too Busy, Too Tired, No Time, Some Leaders, Peer Pressure, Temptations, Movies/TV, Music, Things You Like to Do, Things You Are Taught, Culture…”  – anything that might make it difficult for kids to live the life that God wants them to live.)
  • Hole punch or something to make holes in the signs
  • Yarn or string to make lanyards for signs
  • Clear bottle with lid
  • Water (enough to fill bottle almost ¾ full) and some extra in a separate container to use later in the lesson.
  • Food coloring
  • Vegetable oil (enough to fill bottle ¼ full) in a separate container.
  • Two serving platters with covers (or something like them)
  • Junk food (enough to make a sizeable mound on one of the platters)
  • Vegetables (real or artificial – enough to make a sizeable mound on one of the platters)
  • Costumes for the waiters (something like a white shirt, a black bow tie made from construction paper and a hand towel to go over their arms)
  • A copy of the answers for the Game Show.  These are at the end of this document.
  • Cardboard boxes or a table decorated to look like three contestant booths on a Jeopardy-type game show.
  • Three sheets of flipchart paper (one for each contestant booth).
  • A flip chart marker.
  • Masking tape.
  • LCD projector, computer, screen and PowerPoint file “In But Not Of – Charts and Game Show” (can be found at www.teachingthem.com on the “Lesson and Material Downloads” page.  If you prefer, some of the lesson can be sketched on a whiteboard or flipchart.)
  • Put one hole in each end of each sign (along the top)
  • Thread the yarn or string through each hole, and tie it off to make a lanyard to go around the kids’ heads.
  • Pour water into bottle, and drop in several drops of food coloring.
  • Put the lid on the bottle, and shake thoroughly to mix the coloring throughout.
  • Keep the vegetable oil separate.  (You will add it during the lesson.)
  • Get two volunteers to act as your waiters.  Have them dress in costume and be ready to appear with one of the platters (each of them) when you call on them.
  • Prepare both of your platters – one should be piled high with junk food, the other with vegetables, and then covered.
  • Load the PowerPoint slides for “In But Not Of – Charts and Game Show,” and black the screen by pressing “b” on your keyboard while you are in Slide Show View.
  • Create and decorate your three contestant booths.  Tape a sheet of flipchart paper to the front of each booth.  Position these somewhere in the room where they will be in front of the kids but also able to see the projection screen.
  • Hide the answer sheet in the booth that you will assign to your “Daniel” volunteer.  You don’t want the other kids to be able to see it from where they are standing, but it has to be easy for “Daniel” to see without drawing attention to himself/herself.
  • Select a “Daniel” volunteer (might be best to use another adult), and explain that you would like his/her help with a “game show.”  Show him/her the booth and where you’ve hidden the answers.  Tell him/her that you want them to get most or all questions right but that he/she shouldn’t allow anyone to know that he/she has the answers.
  • Practice the lesson.
  • Also see: http://wallbuilder.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/taking-a-stand/ for additional sermon illustrations.

o  Bible

Preparation:

o  Print signs for kids to wear

Procedure:

Use the following script or modify to suit your needs:

  • (Gather kids together around the table, and pass out the signs for some of them to wear.)
  • “Let’s start today’s lesson with a demonstration.”
  • “I need a volunteer.”  (Select a volunteer, and give him or her the ping-pong ball.)
  • “This ball this person has represents a Christian trying to live the life that God wants him/her to live.”
  • “The rest of you are people or things that make it difficult for the volunteer to follow God.”
  • “Our volunteer with the ball is going to try to blow the ball to the other end of the table without falling off the table.”
  • “That will represent living a life that pleases God.”
  • “The rest of you (even those without signs) are going to try to prevent the ball from reaching the other end of the table by blowing it in the other direction.”
  • “Does anyone have any questions?”  (Answer questions.  Then let them begin blowing.  If the ball drops off the table, the volunteer should start over.  You can stop the demonstration either when the volunteer succeeds or after enough time has passed for the kids to understand the lesson.)
  • “So, what do you think this demonstration is supposed to teach us?”  (Listen to responses.  If it isn’t mentioned, be sure to point out that it can be very difficult to live a life pleasing to God in today’s culture. Many different things and even people work against the Christian, and Christians need God’s help to be able to move in the opposite direction of the world around them.  Allow kids to take a seat as you begin the lesson.)
  • “We are going to talk about a story that happened in the land of Israel.”
  • “It’s from the Old Testament times, and you can read about some of what I’m going to tell you in the books of Daniel, 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.”
  • “Israel, at the time of our story, was not very powerful.”
  • “They were controlled by the kingdom of Egypt in the south and then later by the kingdom of Babylon in the north.”
  • “A man named Jehoiakim was put on the throne by Pharaoh Nechoh of Egypt.”
  • “But in the third year of his reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked and besieged Jerusalem (606 B.C.).”
  • “It took him two years to conquer Jerusalem, but Nebuchadnezzar finally won.”
  • “He chose not to destroy Jerusalem at that time, but he did take some of the gold, silver and bronze items from God’s Temple.”
  • “He also stole many of the brightest and most promising of Israel’s youth from Judah’s royal family and other noble families.”
  • “These young men were strong, healthy, intelligent and attractive young men, who were well-versed in every branch of learning.”
  • “Nebuchadnezzar wanted them for two very important reasons:
  1. By stealing Israel’s smartest and most promising youth, Nebuchadnezzar kept Israel from growing stronger after he returned to Babylon.  The Jews would have no strong leaders to lead them in battle against Babylon.
  2. By bringing Israel’s best and brightest to Babylon, the king hoped to make his kingdom even stronger by training them to become aides in his court.”
  • “Nebuchadnezzar’s plan was very smart, because it not only stole the best from his enemies; it added the best to his own people.”
  • “But for his plan to work, he first had to get the Jews to commit to Babylonian ways and give their loyalty to the king.”
  • “This was tricky, because Nebuchadnezzar was the enemy of the Jewish people.”
  • “He had just held Jerusalem under siege for two years while he tried to starve the people inside so that they would grow weak and give up.”
  • “Then, he had taken these boys away from their families and friends and marched them 800 miles (1300 km) to a strange place, where they would live for the rest of their lives.”
  • “Nebuchadnezzar was a very smart king, though, and he had already done this before with other people.”
  • “He had his servants put the boys into a special school, where they would learn the new customs, languages, religion, laws and other practices of the Babylonians.”
  • “For three years, Nebuchadnezzar did something called “brainwashing” on these boys.”
  • “Brainwashing is what happens with someone powerful tries to wash out everything you already know so that he can replace it with what he wants you to think.”  (Show first slide with the picture of a brain on it.  For each click, one of the following phrases will appear inside the brain: “Hebrew language, Hebrew laws and rules, Hebrew teachings, Hebrew culture, Hebrew customs, Hebrew foods, Israel, Hebrew friends, Jehovah.”)
  • “All their lives, these boys had been trained by their parents, their teachers and their priests how to speak the Hebrew language, obey the Hebrew laws and rules, follow the Hebrew teachings, culture and customers, eat the Hebrew foods, love the land of Israel, love the Hebrew people and worship the one, true God, whom they called Jehovah.”
  • “But Nebuchadnezzar needed them to forget about all that stuff if he was ever going to get them to become loyal Babylonians.”
  • “So, he had his servants ‘wash’ their brains at his royal school and replace the old information with new information about Babylonian languages, laws, rules, teachings, culture, customs, foods, land, friends and gods.”  (Advance the slide, and all the words will fall out of the brain.   Advance the slide again, and the terms will reappear, but this time “Israel” will be replaced with “Babylon,” “Hebrew” with “Babylonian” and “Jehovah” with “gods of Babylon.”  After this slide, there is a black slide before the next slide.  This is to allow you to black out the screen if you like.)
  • “This is where we meet Daniel and his friends.”
  • “You probably know them as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but those weren’t their real names.”
  • “As part of his brainwashing, Nebuchadnezzar gave them all new names.”
  • “Their old names honored Jehovah, so Nebuchadnezzar changed their names so that they would honor his gods instead.”  (Advance the slide to show the following chart.  Each time you advance the slide, it will reveal another box of the chart, moving from left to right on each row.  This will allow you to talk about each one at a time.  After this slide, there is a black slide before the next slide.  This is to allow you to black out the screen if you like.)
Hebrew Name Hebrew Meaning Babylonian Name Babylonian Meaning
Daniel “God is my judge” Belteshazzar “Bel protect his life”
Hananiah “The Lord shows grace” Shadrach “Command of Aku” (the moon-god)
Mishael “Who is like God?” Meshack “Who is as Aku is?”
Azariah “The Lord is my help” Abednego “Servant of Nebo”
  • “Even Daniel had a new name, but we don’t use it much today – probably because he didn’t use it much when he wrote the book of Daniel.”
  • “The boys were about 17 years old when Nebuchadnezzar took them away from their families.”
  • “They were assigned to three years of training to make them court aides to the king.”
  • “As part of their training/brainwashing, they were served best food and wine from the king’s kitchen.”  (Have volunteer come out dressed as a waiter with a covered serving platter.  With a flourish, remove the cover, and show all the junk food that you have under it.)
  • “Daniel and his friends hadn’t forgotten the one, true God, and this food caused them a problem.”
  • “They knew that it had been offered as sacrifices to Babylonian gods, and Hebrew law forbade them from eating it.”
  • “This was their first test in this new land.  Would they eat the king’s food?
  • “What would you do?”  (Get responses from the kids.)
  • “Well Daniel and his friends decided not to eat it even though it could get them into a lot of trouble.”
  • “Daniel went to the chief official who watched over them and asked for permission to eat just vegetables and water.” (Have second volunteer come out dressed as a waiter with a covered serving platter.  With a flourish, remove the cover, and show all the vegetables you have under it.)
  • “The chief official liked Daniel and his friends.”
  • “He could tell that they were different than the others, and he wanted to help them, but he was afraid that Nebuchadnezzar would cut off his head if Daniel and his friends weren’t as healthy as the other kids.”
  • “So, Daniel asked the chief office if he would allow them to try it for just ten days.”
  • “Because God had given the chief official great respect for Daniel, the chief official gave them permission to try it.”
  • “At the end of 10 days, they looked healthier and better nourished than all the other kids.”
  • “If fact, they just kept getting better and better, as these charts show.”  (Advance slide to show the “Strength Comparison” slide in the “In But Not Of – Charts and Game Show” PowerPoint.)
  • “They kept getting stronger…” (Show next slide.)
  • “Healthier…” (Show next slide.)
  • “Wiser…” (Show next slide.)
  • “And even funnier than all the other guys!”  (After this slide, there is a black slide in case you want to black out the screen before you get to the Game Show.)
  • “I guess Daniel and his friends were right to trust God!”
  • “The chief official was so impressed, he let them eat vegetables and water every meal.”
  • “That may not sound very good to you, but it allowed Daniel and his friends to honor Jehovah, so they liked it very much.”
  • “This was their first test in Babylon, and God gave them an A+!”
  • “He gave them favor with not only the chief official but also with Nebuchadnezzar.”
  • “God made Daniel and his friends smarter than any of the other kids, and He gave Daniel the ability to understand visions and dreams.”
  • “This was an excellent gift from God, because a king needed someone who could interpret dreams and visions to help him understand the times and the future of his kingdom.”
  • “After three years of training, all the young men (no longer boys) were brought before the king and tested.”
  • “They all had to compete on King Nebuchadnezzar’s favorite game show, ‘Your Life Is In Jeopardy.’” (Ask for three volunteers.  Make sure one of the ones you choose is your “Daniel” volunteer.   Point out the three contestant booths for the game show, and assign them their places behind each one.  Make sure Daniel goes to the one that has the answers.  Ask for one more volunteer to be your scorekeeper, and give him/her the flipchart marker.  Have this volunteer write the names of the three contestants at the top of each flipchart.  The two ordinary volunteers can use their real names.  The “Daniel” volunteer needs to use “Daniel” as his/her name.)
  • “Welcome to ‘Your Life’s in Jeopardy!’  I’m King Nebuchadnezzar, and I’ll be your host.”  (Show first game show slide.)
  • “If you’re not familiar with the way the game is played, here are the rules:
    • Each round, one of you will select one of the five categories. (Say each category out loud so that they know what they are.)
    • I will show an problem, and you will need to give me the answer in the form of a question. (The ‘form of a question’ rule is optional, because it is often too difficult for kids to remember.)
    • The person who raises their hand the fastest is the one who gets to answer.
    • If you get the question right, our scorekeeper will add the points for that question to your scoreboard.
    • However, if you get the question wrong, the scorekeeper will subtract those points from your score.
    • The winner will become my most trusted advisor, and the losers will become doggie treats for my attack dogs.
    • If anyone has any questions, I will boil him in oil.  Any questions?
    • Good, I didn’t think there would be.
  • “Let’s get started.”  (Select someone to pick the first category.  It doesn’t matter who you choose, and it doesn’t matter what category they select.  When you advance the slide, the order of the questions is predetermined (in order to keep it simple for you).  If the person’s choice doesn’t match the actual question, just remind them that you are the king and tell them about how hungry your attack dogs are.  Go through all the questions, or cut it short based on the time you have.  Each time, Daniel should be able to get the right answer, so he should be the clear winner in the end.)
  • “Excellent job, Daniel!  I see that you and your friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are much wiser than any of the others.”
  • “You will be added to my regular staff of advisors!”
  • “The rest of you will be taken to play with my attack doggies.”  (Allow all the volunteers to return to their seats, and ‘step out’ of your role as King Nebuchadnezzar.)
  • “So, back to the story….Nebuchadnezzar soon found them ten times smarter than all his magicians and enchanters within the entire kingdom!”  (Have a volunteer read Proverbs 16:7.)
  • “This Scripture means that when we are obedient to God, even our enemies will like us.”
  • “That’s pretty amazing!”
  • “So, what does this mean for you?”
  • “How many of you know that earth is not your home if you are a Christian?”  (Look for a show of hands.  Then, have a volunteer read Philippians 3:20.)
  • “Our home is in heaven.  We are citizens of heaven, not of earth.”
  • “So, we are IN the world – meaning, we live here – but we are not OF the world – meaning that we are not part of the world’s family anymore.”
  • “Jesus tells us in another place that those who don’t follow him are sons of the Devil (John 8:44).”
  • “But our Father is God in heaven, and there should be some family resemblance.”
  • “People should be able to tell who our Father is by how we act.”
  • “If we act like those who don’t know Jesus as Lord, people will think that Satan is our father.”
  • “But if we act like Jesus, people will know that God is our Father.” (Have a volunteer read 1 Peter 2:11-12.)
  • “Peter tells us that we are aliens and strangers here, and he says that we should be careful to stay away from sin and live such good lives that everyone who sees us will glorify God.” (Show the bottle with the colored water in it, and ask for a volunteer to come up.)
  • “Let’s say that this bottle represents the world.”  (Hand bottle to volunteer.)
  • “Inside are all the people who are part of this world.”
  • “They don’t know Jesus as their Lord.”
  • “The coloring represents their sinfulness.  They do things that God has told us not to do.”  (Show separate container with water in it.)
  • “In this container, I have some clean and clear water.”
  • “It represents some Christians and how they live their lives.”  (Ask your volunteer to pour the separate container of clear water into the dark water that is colored by the food coloring.  Then, have the volunteer put the lid back on the bottle and shake it.)
  • “What happened to the clean water that our volunteer put into the ‘world?’”  (Accept responses.)
  • “Right!  It took on the color of the water around it.”
  • “Sometimes, this is just how Christians act.”
  • “They mix with the world and start doing the sinful things that those in the world are doing.”
  • “Then, they look just like everyone else, and you can’t tell who is a Christian and who is not.”
  • “They are both IN the world and OF the world.”  (Show separate container with oil in it.)
  • “But this container has oil in it, and it represents Christians who are committed to following Jesus.”  (Ask volunteer to pour oil into original bottle and then to cap and shake it thoroughly.)
  • “We put these Christians in the world just like the others, but watch and you will see something different happen.”  (As the volunteer holds the bottle where everyone can see it, the oil will rise to the top.  It will not stain with the food coloring, so you will be able to see a clear layer of oil on top of the darker water.)
  • “What do you notice this time?”  (Accept responses.)
  • “Exactly!  The oil didn’t become like the colored water.”
  • “This represents Christians who live IN the world but do not allow themselves to become OF the world.”
  • “In the Bible, oil often represents the Holy Spirit, so these Christians are Christians who are submitting to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in their lives.”
  • “They still look different from the rest, because they didn’t do the sins of the people around them.”
  • “They are like Daniel and his friends, who refused to eat the same foods as everyone else.”
  • “They made a hard decision to be different, even though that might make some people not like them and some people become jealous of them.”
  • “But we have a problem.”
  • “Do you notice that all the oil rose to the top?”
  • “It isn’t mixed in with the water.”
  • “Sometimes Christians act like this.”
  • “They find that it’s easier to just be around other Christians all the time, so they start to group together.”
  • “It’s good to group together for church and at other times, but we shouldn’t always spend time with other Christians.”
  • “If we do, we won’t be able to help other people get to know Jesus.”
  • “So what should we do?”  (Take responses.  You are looking for someone to say that you need to keep mixing with the people in the world.)
  • “That’s right!  That’s what we need to do!”  (Have volunteer shake bottle again.)
  • “We should come together as Christians to encourage and support one another, but then we need to get back out there in the world and interact with those who don’t know Jesus.”
  • “As long as we act like Jesus and not like those in the world, we will continue to look different from the world.”
  • “And when we look different from the world, we give glory to God.”  (Thank volunteer and allow him/her to be seated.)
  • “I have a Rhyme Time that will help us remember the lesson.”
  • “I’ll say it a few times, and then you can say it with me.”  (Recite the Rhyme Time several times, and then let the kids say it with you.  If you have time, allow them to come up and do it individually, as well.)
    • It would be easy, after all.
    • Everyone else was doing it.
    • The king might do terrible things to them if they didn’t.
    • God would understand, wouldn’t He?”

“Not everything that others do is what God wants to see from you!”


Daniel’s Answer Key

King’s Future – 100 Nowhere
King’s Places – 100 Hole-land
King’s Places – 200 The Neverlands
King’s Secrets – 100 His subjects are a royal pain.
Happy King – 100 None – TV hasn’t been invented
Happy King – 200 Dominate the world
King’s Future – 200 Because he will feed everyone else to the lions
King’s Enemies – 100 Tickle Torcher
King’s Enemies – 200 Sends them straight to DEAD without dinner
King’s Enemies – 300 He throws them in the Lyin’s den
King’s Enemies – 400 He throws them in the fiery FURnace
King’s Secrets – 200 They are all wearing camel-flage
King’s Secrets – 300 Because he tends to babble on
Happy King – 300 They have a good sense of RUMOR
King’s Secrets – 400 His nose runs but his feet only smell
King’s Enemies – 500 Because they have nothing left to go on
King’s Future – 300 Da bunnies, da bunnies, Oh, I love da bunnies!
King’s Future – 400 Da Persians, da Persians, Oh, I hate da Persians!
King’s Future – 500 Nebbie K. Nezzar
King’s Places – 300 Booty-pest
Happy King – 400 It had a little boogey on it
Happy King – 500 Its rear end
King’s Secrets – 500 Never could net her
King’s Places – 400 Gone-ah
King’s Places – 500 Germ-many
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Filed under Abednego, Challenges, Character, Christianity, courage, culture, sanctification

The Race


Time

20 minutes

Description

This object lesson teaches that the Bible compares our lives to a race. Our sin and our past often become like heavy clothing or baggage to us, but God wants us to throw these off and run freely.

Materials

  • Lots of heavy clothing – boots, shoes, coats, sweaters….
  • Several backpacks, pieces of luggage (preferably without rollers), and bags loaded with heavy stuff.
  • Lots of wadded balls of paper or soft balls
  • Candy that will tempt the kids. Candy bars will work better than small candy.
  • A few small prizes for the racers.  It’s best to have prizes for everyone for both races, since it’s not important who finishes first in the race of life.
  • (Optional) Whistle to start the race.
  • (Optional) Water guns and/or water balloons
  • (Optional) Tape or twine to mark the finish line

Preparation

· This can be an indoor or an outdoor activity. Outdoors is preferable, because you can let the kids really get into the lesson, but either will work.

· Find a good starting place and finish line for your race, and make sure they are well marked.

· Put all your heavy clothing in a box and set it to the side.

· Put all your bags and luggage off to the side.

· Wad up your paper balls, or fill your water guns / water balloons.

· Put the candy in your pockets, or conceal it in some other way.

· If you have other creative ideas for encumbering the runners, use them. The idea is to make the first part of the race a frustrating experience.

· Practice the script.

Procedure

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

· “Let’s run a race today!”

· “Who is interested in competing for the prize?” (Take up to six volunteers, depending on your class size. You will need several kids to stay in the role of spectator.)

· “Okay, the race will be from here (designate starting point) to there (designate finish line).”

· “Everyone ready?”

· “Okay! On your mark, get set…….oh, hold on a minute. You guys aren’t ready yet.”

· “If we want to make this race more realistic, I’m going to need you guys to wear these.” (Set out the box with all the clothes, heavy shoes, etc., and start handing them out to the volunteers. They should all get dressed up.)

· “Okay, that’s more like it. On your mark, get set……hmmmm….something’s still not right.”

· “Oh, I know! You need some of this!” (Hand out backpacks, luggage, bags, other articles for them to drag.)

· “Yes, that’s it! Okay, on your mark, get set…..Wait! Wait!”

· “I completely forgot to prepare the spectators on the sidelines and in the stands!” (Hand out wadded paper, soft balls (or if you’re brave) water guns or water balloons.)

· (To the spectators in a low voice so that the runners don’t hear…) “You guys are going to throw (squirt) these things at the runners as they run.”

· “I also need you to try to get them to leave the race to come and get these from you.” (Secretly hand them the candy.)

· (Still to the spectators…) “You guys are also going to boo at them and tell them things like, ‘You’ll never be able to win! Why are you even trying? My grandmother runs faster than you!…’ – Okay, you guys ready?” (Check to make sure that they understand what they are supposed to do.)

· “Okay, is everyone ready? On your mark, get set……GO!” (Blow whistle if you have it. Despite all the obstacles you’ve set up, it’s likely that a competitive spirit will drive kids to finish the race anyway. But whether they do finish or not is not too important on the first race. Just modify your questions for the runners to match what happened.  Award prizes for anyone who finished.)

· (After they’ve run the race or given up…) “So, how did that feel?” (Listen to responses.)

· “Do you feel like you were able to run your best race?….Why or why not?” (Listen for responses.)

· “What would have made the race easier to run?” (Listen for responses.)

· In today’s lesson, the race represents our life as Christians.”

· We are the runners.  The starting line indicate the moment we accepted Christ.  The finish line is heaven.”

· The heavy clothes and baggage represent the burdens that we bring into the race – our sin, bad stuff that has happened in our past, our weaknesses, our misunderstandings about God…”

· The spectators represent the demons, who are watching God’s plan for your life play out as we run the race.”

· The things they throw are fears, worries and doubts.”

· The candy they try to tempt you with represents Satan’s armies doing whatever they can to distract you from your mission.”

· “You see, most of us are not equipped to run this race we call life.”

· “We bring so much junk with us to the starting line, and we have no idea how to deal with Satan’s attacks.”

· “But as odd as it may seem, we do our training while we round the track.”

· “If we carry our Bible with us and pray and try to learn as we run, these strategies will help us get rid of the junk, ignore the distractions and make us faster.”

· “So, we need to start our race every day with our Bible, and we need to quit listening to all the voices that want to discourage us.”

· “They aren’t the only ones watching us run, by the way.”

· “God and the angels are also there, and if we listen carefully, we can hear their cheers for us above the discouraging shouts of our enemy.” (Have a volunteer read Hebrews 12:1.)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

· “That ‘great cloud of witnesses’ refers to all the angels – the heavenly host – that are watching us and cheering for us and even helping us at times while we run our race of life.”

· “So, what do you say we run that race again?”

· “This time, I want you to throw off everything that hinders you or slows you down.”

· “And this time, spectators, I want you to represent the angels in heaven, and I want you to cheer on the runners and encourage them to run their best!”

· “Okay, runners….On your mark, get set……GO!” (Blow whistle if you have one.)

· (After the race… Award prizes to everyone, and then ask…) “So, how did that feel? Was it different?” (Listen for responses.)

· “That’s the way God wants us to feel when we are running the race of life.”

· “But in order to feel that free, we’ve got to throw off our sin, our fears, our worries, and our doubts. We’ve got to get to know God better and refuse to believe the lies of the Enemy.”

· “As you go through your life, I want you to remember this lesson.”

· “Every time you sin, I want you to think of it like it’s putting on heavy clothing or boots or picking up a heavy bag that you’ll have to carry or drag through your race of life.”

· “And when you ask God for forgiveness, I want you to think of it like it’s throwing off that heavy clothing or dropping that heavy bag.”

· “That’s the way God wants us to run our race!”

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Filed under Angels, Challenges, Christianity, Daily walk, demons, Fear, Focus, forgiveness, Hands-on, Obedience, Object Lesson, Spiritual Warfare, struggles, temptation

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