Object Lessons from Maurice Sweetsur

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Object Lessons 1 - 20.

Faith - A water experiment (See Object Lesson 2).

Balloon guidance. See Object Lesson 13.

Three ropes. See Object Lesson 11.

Two curved cards. See Object Lesson 6.

Object Lessons 1 - 20.

Object Lesson (O.L.) 1 - Growing to be like Christ (Fruit in bottle).

This takes a long time to prepare, but is well worth the effort.
While a fruit ( a lemon or orange is ideal ) is still very small and attached to its tree, place a narrow-necked bottle over it and tie to branch. Leave in place until the fruit has fully grown inside the bottle. Remove bottle containing the fruit and show to your class.
Ask "How did I get this fruit inside the bottle?" A few children may work it out, but most won't. Explain how you did it, stating that the tiny fruit had all the potential to grow into a large fruit, but that it needed food to grow. This food (sap) was all provided by the tree. Use this as an analogy for the newly born-again (or baby) Christian who has all that is needed to become the person God wants them to be, but needs to grow. Our food is God's Word (plus prayer and fellowship etc.).
Ask "What would have happened to the baby fruit if I had cut the twig attaching it to the branch while it was still small?" Answer. It would not have grown. In fact it would have withered away and died. Again use the analogy of the baby Christian who does not feed on God's Word.

O.L. 2 - Faith (A water experiment).
Explain that faith is believing in something that you cannot see. State that although you cannot see God (or Jesus) because He is a Spirit, you can still know that He is real. Explain that something else you cannot see, but is real is the air. State that you are now going to prove that the air in the room is real.
Pour water into a glass until it is almost full. Place a piece of cardboard, cut to slightly larger than the top of the glass, shiny side down, over the top. (An old breakfast cereal box is an ideal source of suitable cardboard). Hold cardboard in place, and invert glass. Take away your hand from the cardboard. Explain that gravity is still at work trying to make the water fall on the floor, but that the air - which we cannot see - is stronger than gravity and is keeping the cardboard in place.
Invite a few of the children to put their faith in the air - which they cannot see- and walk under the glass. As they are doing so, reinforce the truth that they are trusting in something that they cannot see.
If you wish, you could conclude this illustration as follows.
State that you are now looking for someone with GREAT faith. Choose a volunteer. State that you are now going to hold the glass of water over their head as before and tip it upside down, but this time you are not going to use any cardboard! Say you wouldn't want them to get too wet if things went wrong, so you will pour some of the water out of the glass. Pour out water until about 2 or 3 cm. remains. State that you still don't like the idea of wetting their hair - if things did go wrong - so you will hold a cup between the glass and their hair. Pour the water out of the glass and into the cup. Act surprised that the water came out of the glass. State that you have worked out the problem. You weren't really using faith, because real faith in Jesus is trusting in Him alone. Therefore, real faith in the air is trusting in the air alone. Therefore you are now going to invert the cup (now containing the water ) over the volunteer's head, but with nothing in between. Do this. The water will not come out of the cup, because you had previously placed a SPONGE in the bottom!

O.L. 3. Why does God allow suffering?
Take a large piece of white paper, and write across it in LEMON JUICE the word "Jesus" - i.e. in "invisible ink."
State that many people ask questions like "Why does a good God allow suffering?" Give a few examples of suffering. Say that there is no simple answer to this, but that you are going to show the class one reason why God may allow problems and hardships to come into our lives. God is interested in what we do, but He is more interested in what we are i.e. our character. God can use our problems to develop our character.
Use your own words for your particular class, but you could go along the lines suggested below.
"God has a wonderful plan to change you into someone far better. If none of us ever had any troubles, not many of us would give God a second thought, and we would never change. God sometimes allows suffering in our lives and uses it - as He helps us to overcome our problems - to change us. The Bible says "Suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character" Romans 5.3,4. ( C.E.V. ).
HOLD UP THE "BLANK" PAPER AT THIS POINT. I am going to have an imaginary conversation with this paper. "Nice to see you paper, but I am now going to put you over a flame"
Paper - " I don't like the sound of that. I might get too hot. I might even get burnt".
"I do like you paper, but I have a wonderful plan to change you into something better, and I have to place you over the flame to make this happen."
"How are you feeling now paper?"
Paper - "Stop it. I am getting far too hot."
"I haven't finished my plan for you yet. I must complete the job. I know this is tough for you, but I won't let you burn."
"This is what God's plan is for you. To build your character, and make you to be like Jesus. Often He uses our problems and difficulties to bring this about.
O.L. 4. Filled with the Holy Spirit.Place some Baking soda in a glass - the narrower the better. Add a littlefood colouring for a more visual effect. Pour in Vinegar, to represent theHoly Spirit. Stir. The solution should froth over the top of the glass. i.e.a picture of us being filled to overflowing with the Spirit.
O.L. 5. Staying in the centre of God's will.
This object lesson is better suited to smaller groups.Fill a glass three quarters full with water. Place a cork - representing theBeliever without the Spirit - in the water. The cork will naturally keepmoving to the side of the glass, i.e. away from the centre (of God's will).Now, fill the glass to overflowing with water, to represent the fullness ofthe Spirit. The cork will now float in the centre of the glass.
O.L. 6. Defeating Giants.
I usually use this Object lesson after telling the story of David and Goliath.
Summarise the story by saying " David was able to overcome the Giant because he realised that God was on his side. If you are trusting in Jesus, then God is also on your side and will help you defeat any Giants in your life." A Giant is any problem you have which seems too big for you.
Give a list of possible "Giants." e.g. Other People - Bullies etc. Bad habits - Lying, stealing, swearing, fighting etc. Fears - The dark, nightmares, dying, flying, spiders, snakes, dogs etc.
Produce two prepared "curved shapes" (See diagram above). These can be made of cardboard or paper and cut to any suitable size. It is more effective to use different colours. You will note that the cards are actually the same size, but if one is held above the other. it will appear to be smaller. On the first card, write the word "Giant" On the second card, write the word “Me" on one side and "Me + God" on the other side.
Hold card 2, showing "Me" above card 1, showing "Giant." State. " If you compare yourself with your Giant, the Giant will always appear to be bigger, and you will think that you won't be able to defeat it." Pull the cards apart, and turn card 2 over to show " Me + God" State "Remember that if you are trusting in Jesus, it is not just you against the Giant, but you plus God against it." Bring the cards back together again, but this time hold card 2 below card 1. State that " No matter how big your Giant is, when you compare it to God, you will always find that God is far bigger, and that He is able to help you defeat it - just like David defeated Goliath.
I usually conclude by repeating the "changing cards" process to emphasize the point.

O.L. 7. God's protection.
This is an illustration that can be used alongside any story of God's protection, and you can get a number of children to participate. All you need is a fairly small coin and a dish.
Explain that the coin stands for you, and the dish stands for God's protection. State that God's protection is only a prayer (or a breath ) away. You are now going to demonstrate how the coin can be transported into the dish using only your breath.
Place the coin on the edge of a table, and the dish about 15 cm. away. Blow a short sharp breath just over the top of the coin. (Have a few practices beforehand). Your breath should lift up the coin, and deposit it in the dish. As time permits, allow a few of the children to attempt the feat. The secret is to ensure that you blow horizontally, just over the top of the coin.
O.L. 8. Receiving Jesus.
This is an illustration that I use following teaching on John 3.16. All you need is a small gift. I usually make a balloon animal (as the gift) while I am talking about it.
State that John 3.16 talks about a giver (God), a gift (Jesus) and a receiver (Us). No matter how wonderful any gift is, it will not do you any good unless you receive it. I have a gift here (produce or begin to make your gift), but unless you receive it, it is no good to you at all.
Some of you may say "I don't want your gift" Well, if you don't want it, you won't get it, because I will not force you to take it.
Some of you may say "I don't believe it. It's too good to be true. Teacher must be tricking us." Well, if you don't believe it, you can't receive it.
Some of you may say " I will think about it" There is nothing wrong in thinking about the gift, but all the time you are thinking about it, it is not yours and it is not doing you any good.
Some of you may say. " I will have to earn the gift. I will have to sit up straight, be really quiet and still, and then perhaps "teacher" will notice me and give me the gift because I deserve it." Well, I like you behaving that way, but that's not the way to get the gift because it can never be earned.
But one of you may simply say to himself / herself " Yes, I want that gift," and get up, walk out to the front, take hold of the gift, and it will be theirs.
It is exactly the same with God's gift of Jesus Christ to the world - and the Eternal Life He brings with him.
Some people say to God "I don't want your gift of Jesus. I want to live my own life, go my own way, do my own thing." Much as God still loves them (they are still part of the world) He won't force His gift of Jesus on anyone. We must choose to receive Him.
Some people say. "I don't believe in the gift. I don't believe in Jesus. I don't even believe in God." Well, if you don't believe, you can't receive.
Some people say. "I will think about the gift. Perhaps when I am older I might receive God's gift." There is nothing wrong with thinking about the gift, but the problem is many people never make up their minds, and so always miss out on what God wants to give them.
Some people ( in fact most people ) think they have to earn God's gift. They say. " I will have to be very good. I will not have to do anything bad. I will have to go to Church or Sunday school every week. I will have to say my prayers and read my Bible every day. Then, perhaps, God will be really pleased with me and give me His gift of Jesus." These are good things to do, but you can never earn God's gift.
But some people say "Yes, I want to receive Jesus into my life," and do so by faith - by simply asking God for His gift of Jesus, and believing that they receive Him.
At this point, you will probably still be holding your gift - unless there is someone very smart in your group who has taken you at your word and received it already! You will probably have to keep prompting until someone comes out and receives it. You could say:-
"Well, it is still here."
"I wonder who will be first to believe me. All you have to do is take it."
"You won't get it by thinking about it, or by sitting up straight, but someone could come out and receive it."
When someone receives your gift, state that they didn't deserve it or earn it, but they got it because they were the first to believe that all they had to do was take it.
Conclude by stating that unfortunately you only had one gift, but the good news is that there is enough of God's gift of Jesus for everyone. There is no need for anyone to miss out.
If appropriate, you could then lead your group in a prayer to receive Jesus.

O.L. 9. Which way?

All you need for this illustration is a square piece of cardboard - ideally about 30 cm x 30 cm. On one side of the cardboard draw a large horizontal arrow. On the other side of the cardboard draw a large vertical arrow.
Hold the cardboard in front of yourself, with your left hand grasping the top left hand corner, and your right hand grasping the bottom right hand corner. Practice twisting the card over. The secret is to keep your hands still, and let the card make all the movements. Now, change your hand positions. Grasp the bottom left hand corner with your left hand, and the top right hand corner with your right hand. Twist the card over a few times as before. You will note that - depending on where your hands are placed - you can make the arrow appear to either stay pointing in the same direction, or to keep changing directions as the card is twisted.
You are now ready to illustrate any story which involves a change of direction (or repentance), e.g. Jonah, Zacchaeus or Saul. I often use this method to share my testimony as follows, changing the direction of the arrow at the appropriate places:-
Once I always went my own way ( <- ) and did my own thing ( <- ) . Nobody, not even God could get me to change my direction ( <- ). But then I heard the good news about Jesus Christ. He said to me what He says to us all - "Instead of going your way ( <- ), you need to turn round and start going My way ( -> ). Instead of living a life centred around yourself ( <- ), you need to centre your life around Me ( -> )." For a little while, I wasn’t sure what to do. Whether to continue going my way ( <- ), or to turn around and start going Jesus' way ( -> ). But then I decided that the best thing I could do was to turn and start going Jesus' way ( -> ), because I saw that His way was the best way ( -> ). For the last 20 years I have been going His way ( -> ), His way ( -> ), His way ( -> ) all the time.
Having tried out your square piece of cardboard a few times, you may wish to try out your story with an Octagon (eight sides). This is essentially the same as for the square, but it has the advantage that - by grasping the shape at two opposite corners - you are also able to make the arrow point vertically upwards or downwards.( With a little practice, you should soon become proficient ).You could then conclude your story as follows :-
Going Jesus' way (-> ) is the best way, because His way ( -> ) leads you Upwards towards God. His way ( -> ) leads you Upwards. But does your way ( <- ) lead you towards God ? No, your way ( <- ) leads you Downwards away from God. So the best thing you can do is to go His way ( -> ), His way ( -> ), His way (-> ) all the time.
O.L. 10. Walking on water.
One of the amazing miracles that Jesus did was walking on water. We all know that one of the natural laws of the Universe is that objects heavier than water sink. However Jesus overcame this natural law, and I am now also going to overcome this law by floating a pin on this water. You all know that a pin is much heavier than water and usually sinks to the bottom. But today I am going to make it float! Proceed to gently lower a pin onto water in a glass, and watch it float. Because water actually forms a thin film at it's surface with the air, this flotation can really be done - provided you have a steady hand and the film isn't broken. And, of course, ensure that nobody knocks the glass during the procedure!
If your hand isn't too steady, you can still float the pin by placing it on a paper tissue, and lowering that onto the water. After a few seconds, the paper will have absorbed enough water to make it sink, leaving the pin floating alone.
O.L. 11. We are special.
Please refer to the diagram above to see how to operate this rope illusion.
Cut three pieces of string or (better) rope to the following lengths:-
1.23 cm. (Red in diagram)
2. 37 cm. (Blue)
3. 55 cm. (Black)
For clarity, the ropes are different colours in the diagram, but for your actual lesson will be the same colour.
Hold the ropes in your left hand as per Fig. A., with the BACK of your hand facing the children. "With the aid of these three ropes I am going to show you how God really sees you - And how He sees you is far more important than how you or other people see you.
Some of you may see yourself like this short rope (Hold up Rope 1). You may say "I'm not very special, I'm not very important. I don't get good marks at school, and I'm not good at running, music or anything."
Some of you may see yourself like this middle sized rope (Hold up Rope 2). You may say "I get good marks at school, and I'm good at Soccer or Netball etc., but I don't think I am really THAT important."
Hold up Rope 3. "This long rope stands for the people that most others think are very important. Give a few people as examples (applicable to your own country or locality) e.g. Presidents, Sports personalities, Film stars etc.
Actually God doesn't see us that way at all (little, middle or very important).
With the aid of these ropes, I will now show you how He really sees you.
Manipulate your ropes as shown in Figs. B,C,D and E. Remember to keep the back of your hand towards the children. Essentially, what you are doing is looping the long rope (3) through the short rope (1). With practice, this should only take a few seconds.
Fig. B. Bring the bottom of Rope 3 across the other ropes.
Fig. C. Bring the bottom of Rope 1 up to the top, and hold it next to your thumb.
Fig. D. Bring the bottom of Ropes 2 and 3 up to the top, and hold on the right of your hand.
Fig. E. Grasp the three ends on your right (i.e. the two ends of Rope 3, and what was the bottom of Rope 2), pull horizontally, then release.
The three ropes - from your perspective - should now be as in Fig. E. From the Children's perspective, they will appear to now be three ropes of equal length.
"God does not have favourites. He sees us as all different, but all equally important, all equally special - just as these three ropes are now all the same size."
You could then re-emphasise your points by adjusting the lengths of the ropes by pulling on each end of Rope 3, and making a few remarks e.g. "You may not be as clever as the President, but you are just as important as he is to God." Conclude by restoring the "original" ropes, either by pulling them apart, or by screwing them up and throwing them in the air.
O.L. 12. Straight and crooked roads.
All you need for this illustration are a few sheets of newspaper.
Some newspapers are printed "with the grain", and some "against the grain." This means that if you hold a piece of newspaper vertically, and begin to tear strips from top to bottom, they will either come out very straight, or very ragged (despite your best efforts), depending on the way the grain is running.
Find two different newspapers which tear in opposite ways - this should be easy enough. You now have two sets of papers, which will look pretty much the same, but one tears straight, and one tears crooked. You are now ready to begin your lesson.
Proverbs 3.6. says "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
We are all on a path through life, either a straight path which leads to God, or a crooked path which does not. Choose about eight volunteers. Give one half the first set of newspaper sheets, and the other half the second. Ask them to tear the sheets into strips from top to bottom as straight as they can. One set of volunteers will end up with straight strips of paper, and the other half with a big mess! You can then conclude with teaching on "straight" and "crooked" roads as appropriate.
O.L. 13. God's guidance.
"We are all on a journey through life, and God has given us two things to help us - His Word, the Bible and the Holy Spirit. If, however, we try and travel through life on our own - without calling on God to Guide us - we will make mistakes, and go off in directions that are not part of God’s plan for us."
Produce an ordinary (round) balloon. Blow it up, but do not tie it. Choose a volunteer to be your target. Have him/her stand about 6 meters away. " This balloon represents a person trying to go through life on their own. Most people do want to go the right way. Their intentions are good. Therefore I am starting off by pointing the balloon at the target, but let's see what will happen when I let go!" It will almost certainly miss the target. Repeat a few times. You may be able to obtain "Rocket" balloons. These are long, and buzz as they travel through the air. Children love them, but they will still miss their targets!
"What this balloon needs is a Guidance system - something to help it hit its target. I have one right here. Produce a 6 or 7 meter piece of string, and thread one end through a drinking straw. Have a second volunteer stand just behind the target, holding the other end. Blow up your balloon and tape it under the straw - see Attachment (Available by emailing me). Let the balloon go, and watch it hit its target. "That balloon kept right on target, because it had something to guide it. In the same way, we will stay on target in our journey through life - If we let the Bible and the Holy Spirit guide us."

14. Making the right choice.
A well known "Magician's" trick is to force a volunteer to choose the "right card" from a number of different cards. This technique can be used to ensure a child makes the "right choice" from a number of options represented by different cards.
This lesson is very versatile. For example you can pose questions such as "How can we get to heaven?" or "How can we find peace with God?" The right answer is, of course, Jesus. Now, choose seven alternative answers, which some people may give e.g. Prayer, Reading the Bible, Going to church. Keeping the ten commandments, Doing good, Not doing anything bad, Being Baptised, Believe in God, etc. (Other questions you can ask are "Who is the best role model you can follow?" - it is a good idea to choose a mixture of well known "good" and "bad" role models. – or, "Who or what should be the most important thing in your life?").
Take eight identical pieces of cardboard (of the right size to suit your group), and write "Jesus" on the back of one, and the seven alternative answers on the back of the others. On the front of each card, draw a question mark. However, on the card with "Jesus", make the question mark slightly different from the others - e.g. have the "dot" slightly nearer the main symbol, or have the "curl" slightly more enhanced.
Choose your first volunteer to come and stick each card - question mark to the outside - on a board. Ensure that he/she does not let either you or the rest of the group see what is written on the back of each card. They have complete freedom to stick each card wherever they like, provided that they end up with two columns of four cards each. By looking at the question marks, you will know which is the "Jesus" card.
Explain the purpose of the lesson, and get a second volunteer to come and make what you say you hope will be the right choice. Force him/her to make the right choice as described below. This is a very simple technique, but still seems to baffle the vast majority of people.
Suppose, for example, that the "Jesus" card is in the first column. Ask your volunteer to point to either the first or the second column. If they point to the first, say "Fine, that is your choice, so let us now look at the four cards you have rejected in the second column." As you turn over each of these four cards, explain why they are wrong choices. If your volunteer points to the second column, say "Fine, you have rejected these four cards in the second column", and proceed as before.
You are now left with the four cards in the first column. Ask your volunteer to point to any two of the cards. If the "Jesus" card is one of those chosen, say. "These are the cards you have chosen, let's look at the two you have rejected." Obviously, if they don't point to the "Jesus" card, say " The two you have pointed to are the ones you have rejected --------. " I think you will have got the idea by now, ensuring that your volunteer ends by choosing "Jesus."

15. Little sins grow bigger.
This is a simple but effective illustration to show that "little" sins, if left unchecked, grow and grow until eventually they can cause destruction.
Preparation. Take a round balloon, inflate it, and write the word "sin" on it with a marker. Deflate the balloon.
Lesson. Show your group the balloon, and while you are explaining that "little sins grow bigger", begin to demonstrate this by slowly inflating the balloon (and consequently the word "sin"). It is better to use a balloon pump for this, because eventually you will have inflated the balloon so much that it explodes! - a reminder that sin is very destructive.

16. Break in communication with God.

All that is needed for this illustration is a piece of string or rope at least 1 meter long, and a pair of scissors.
Explain that the rope represents a line of communication. Start by stretching it out horizontally, and say that it could represent a telephone line, with your words going along the line to your friend, and their words coming back to you.
Now hold the rope vertically. Explain that this represents a prayer line to God, with your prayers going up the rope to Him, and His answers coming down to you. State that there is only one thing that can stop your prayers getting through to God - your sins (the bad things you do).
State that you are now going to demonstrate this problem by cutting the rope (Prayer line). Hold the top of the rope in one hand, and grasp the centre of it with the other. Bring the centre portion of the rope to the top, but as your bottom hand reaches your top, swap the centre for a piece of rope about 10 to 15 cm. from the top. This will take place behind your top hand, so will not be noticed. With a little practice you will soon become proficient. It will appear to your group that you are now showing the top and the centre of the rope in your top hand, whereas you will actually be showing the top and a section 10 to 15 cm. below the top.
Cut the rope where it is looped. You have actually cut off just a small top portion, but have appeared to cut it in equal halves. While still concealing the top of the rope behind your hand, tie the small section of rope around the centre, and release for all to see.
Explain that the knot around the centre stands for sin, and prevents your prayers reaching God. Explain that some people try to deal with the problem themselves by reducing their sin. Cut the ends off the knot to make it smaller. Obviously this doesn't work, because the problem (knot) is still there. Explain that some people try to hide their sin. Cover the knot with your hand. This doesn't work either, because we cannot hide anything from God.
Explain that the only way to remove sin is to bring it to God, tell Him you are sorry for it, and ask Him to forgive you. Say, "Imagine my right hand is God, and I am going to bring this sin (knot) to Him." Hold one end of the rope in your right hand, and begin to wrap the rest of the rope around it with your left hand. As you reach the knot - and while still continuing the wrapping - slide off the knot, and keep concealed in your left hand. Unwrap the rope, showing that it has been completely restored! No one will notice that it is now slightly shorter than at first.

17.Burning bush and Fiery furnace.
Here is a good way to demonstrate the burning bush, which was not consumed, or the fiery furnace, which did not harm the three Hebrew boys.
Take a piece of cotton material and draw on it a bush, or three figures as required. Soak the material in a mixture of 2 parts methylated spirits (Methanol) and 1 part water. Squeeze out any excess liquid. Set fire to the material. The methylated spirits will burn, making it appear as if the material is burning. The flames will eventually go out, and the water in the mixture will have successfully protected the material from burning, leaving it unharmed.

18. What happened at the cross? - Jesus takes away our sins.

For this object lesson you will need two chemicals - Potassium Permanganate and Sodium Metabisulphite. ( These are both solids and can be obtained from Chemical suppliers ), a large glass jar, four smaller glasses, and two sticks tied together to form a cross. One of the sticks needs to be hollow at one end ( A bamboo cane is ideal ). The hollow end will form the bottom of your cross.

Preparation. Wrap 2 or 3 grams of Sodium Metabisulphite in a paper tissue and secure it with a small rubber band. Insert the package into the bottom of your cross. Push it down so that it is out of sight.

Dissolve a few grains of Potassium Permanganate in about 250 mls. water (or, alternatively Iodine solution can be used instead). This will produce a maroon coloured liquid to represent "sin."

Half fill your large jar with water. Fill one glass with your Potassium Permanganate solution. Half fill the other three glasses with water, and mark them "Good works", "Church" and "Money" - or, any suitable alternatives which some people think will solve our "sin" problem.

Presentation. This can vary depending on your preferences and the children you are ministering to, but I usually proceed ( often after presenting the "What is Easter all about?" puppet play) along the following lines :-

Hold up the large jar. In the beginning God created a perfect world, and the best thing He made was people. He made them rather like this glass of water - clean on the outside (representing our bodies), and clean on the inside (representing our hearts or spirits).

However, the first people disobeyed God, and this act brought sin into the world and spoiled it all. Pour in about half of the "sin" solution. The jar contents should now be a fairly deep maroon colour. So this now is the problem we are all born with - sin or selfishness on the inside (you could give a few examples here).

Down through the years, some people have realised they have a selfishness problem, and have tried many ways to overcome it. Some have thought the answer may be Good Works. Pour in the "Good works" jar. God does want us to be good to each other but, as you see, that doesn't solve our "sin" problem. Some have thought the answer was going to church. Pour in the "Church" jar. It is an excellent idea to go to church, and by doing so you will probably find the answer to your problem. But, as you see, going to Church in itself is not the answer. Some have thought "If I gave half my money away to the poor, surely God will be really pleased with me and take away my sin." Pour in the "Money" jar. God does want us to be generous, especially to those who don't have as much as we do but, as you see, that still doesn't change us on the inside.

Actually, no matter what we try, it is impossible to change ourselves. But the good news of Easter is that what we can't do for ourselves, God has already done for us. It was on the cross that Jesus died in our place to take away our sins. Pick up your cross and place it in the jar. If you have got your concentrations right, the maroon solution will become clear within a few seconds. If not, gentle stirring with the cross should produce the desired effect.

Conclude the illustration as you think appropriate, but I usually proceed as follows :- Some of you may be thinking "I once did put my trust in Jesus and what He did on the cross, but then I did something bad (e.g. shouted at my dad, was cheeky to my mum, had a fight with my brother etc. ). Does that mean that I have become dirty on the inside again? Lets see shall we. Remove the cross from your jar, then pick up the remaining Potassium Permanganate solution and pour a little at a time into it - repeating the "sins" just mentioned (e.g. being cheeky to your mum). The maroon colour should vanish on making contact with the solution in the jar. Now please don't misunderstand me. If you do do something wrong, you need to ask God to forgive you. But, as you can see, once you have put your trust in Jesus and He has taken away your sin, you stay clean on the inside. nd that is the Good News we remember at Easter.

19. The meaning of the cross.

For this close-up illustration you will need a little coloured water, a saucer, a short candle, a glass, a coin and matches.

Presentation. Tell the children that you are going to explain to them what happened at the cross of Jesus.

State - that the coin represents you or me - place it in the saucer, towards the edge.
- that the coloured water represents our sins - pour it into the saucer until the coin is submerged.
- that the candle represents Jesus - stand it at the centre of the saucer, and light it.
- that the flame represents the life of Christ.

Tell the children to watch carefully, as you take the glass and place it over the lighted candle. Within a few seconds, the flame will consume all the oxygen in the glass and be extinguished. However, it will have created a vacuum which, in turn, will draw the water up inside the glass (thus surrounding the candle) and leave the coin dry.

Recap that on the cross, Jesus gave up His life (the flame went out) so that he could take our sins on Himself, and we could go free.

20. Creation.

When introducing the topic of Creation, I usually start by emphasizing the point that there are two things that only God can do.

Firstly, although people are very clever, and can do such things like land a man on the moon, invent televisions or computers, they cannot make something out of nothing. Given starting materials, people can often change their properties - size, shape, colour, texture etc., but they cannot make something out of nothing - only God can do that.

Secondly, people cannot make something that is living out of something that is not living. Again, only God can do that.

I then proceed by stating that I am now going to re-create two of the creatures that God first created on the fifth and sixth days of the Creation week. I then make a balloon bird (or fish) and a balloon animal, continuing my talk as I do so. ( If you don't do balloon modelling, you can still get your point across by simply cutting out appropriate shapes from pieces of paper).

As you make the shapes, emphasize that you are starting with something that already exists e,g. your uninflated balloon and some air. Then state that for anybody to make anything ( whether it be a watchmaker, a car-maker, a shoe-maker, or a balloon animal maker) only two things are needed - Know-how ( or intelligence ) and Power ( or energy ). Without power, your idea will remain only in your head, and without know-how (or an intelligent plan), you will just make a big mess!

As your models near completion, ask "If I had more know-how, do you think I would make a better or worse model?" The children will respond "better." Then ask "The Bible tells us that God has all know-how (He knows everything and is super-intelligent), so how good do you think God could make things?" The children should respond "very good" or "perfect." Then state " That's exactly right. The Bible tells us that in the beginning, God created a perfect world."

Then ask "If I had more power, do you think I could make these models faster or slower than I can now?" The response will be "faster." Then ask "All the power in the Universe belongs to God, so how fast do you think He could make things?" The children should respond "in a split second" or "instantly." State "That's exactly right. The Bible tells us that God not only created a perfect world, but He also made everything in it instantly - just by speaking."

Alternatively (for a younger class) you could simply produce a balloon animal which has already been made, and ask "How do you think this model was made? Do you think it could have been made by accident? Perhaps someone left an uninflated balloon in this room last night, and left the window open. Overnight, the wind blew through the window and into the balloon. The balloon then began twisting itself round and round until it formed the shape of this animal which you see here now. Finally, the end of the balloon managed to tie itself in a knot to stop the air escaping.Do you think that really happened, or do you think that there is a balloon model maker somewhere who made this animal on purpose?" The children should see the absurdity of the model being able to make itself by accident, and respond "There is a balloon model maker somewhere." Emphasise the point that everything the children see around them has to have a maker. Watches need watchmakers, shoes need shoemakers, chairs need chairmakers etc. Nothing can make itself.

You will then be able to apply the above argument to the creation of the Universe and everything in it. State "There are some people who believe that the Universe made itself by accident. But the Universe is far more wonderful and complex than a balloon animal, and if even that couldn't make itself, then how likely is it that the whole Universe made itself? No, the Bible teaches us that we have wonderful Creator who made the Universe and everything in it on purpose. And the good news is :- He made it all for our benefit.