Object Lessons from Maurice Sweetsur

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Object Lessons 56 - 68.

John 3.16 - See Object Lesson 68.

Object lesson 56 - God's protection (Blow paper into bottle).

Here is a simple, but intriguing object lesson that can be used to illustrate any story involving God's protection. This is how I would apply it for 'Daniel in the lion's den'.

Take an empty narrow-necked bottle (this could represent the den). Place a small model of a man (representing Daniel) into the bottle. Draw a picture of a lion on a small piece of paper. (Alternatively, you could just write 'Lion' on your paper). Screw the paper up into a small ball. Hold your bottle in a horizontal position, and place the paper into it's neck. Invite as many children as you wish to try and blow the paper into the bottle, thus representing the lion's attempt to get to Daniel.

You will find that the children will be unable to blow the paper from the neck into the main body of the bottle! In fact the opposite will happen, and the paper will be propelled backwards right out of the bottle. The harder someone blows, the faster and further the paper will be propelled away from Daniel and the bottle.

Explanation. There is already air in your 'empty' bottle, and when someone blows more air into the bottle (whilst attempting to blow the paper in), this will result in the air pressure inside the bottle now becoming higher than that outside - with the result that the paper is forced away from the bottle rather than into it.

Object Lesson 57- Our sins are gone forever (Flashpaper).

This is an illusion that you can use to illustrate the story "the true picture of your life", or indeed any teaching on forgiveness. I have used it many times, and it is always very effective. You will need a piece of "flashpaper". This looks like ordinary paper, but it is made from special chemicals so that when it is set alight it produces only a colourless gas, and no residue (char) whatsoever. i.e. it "disappears". Flashpaper can be obtained from Christian stores that sell gospel illusions such as http://www.childrensministry.org/ or http://www.onewaystreet.com/ It can be cut to any size, but I usually use a piece about 8cm. x 6cm.

Application. "I have a white piece of paper here. In the Bible the colour 'white' stands for cleanness or purity. This is how God first made people, and this is how He wants us to be today - clean and pure on the inside. But when we do wrong things, it dirties us up on the inside and spoils our relationship with God. What are some of the wrong things that you might have done - either at school or at home?" There is usually a good response to this. Interestingly children usually think firstly of the "physical" things such as fighting, hitting, punching, kicking etc. Then lying, stealing, swearing and disobeying may be cited. Wrongs like greed, selfishness, envy and jealousy are hardly ever mentioned! As different children mention the various wrongs, write the first letter of that 'wrong' with a black marker onto your flashpaper. As you do so, talk about God's attitude to that particular 'wrong'.

When you have about 5 or 6 letters on the flashpaper say "We could continue (give a few more examples) but the paper is nearly full. Now, watch carefully what I do next - because this is a picture of what happens to all these wrongs the moment we say 'sorry' to Jesus for them (and really mean it)." Take a match, light the paper and throw it into the air. It will take about two seconds to be burnt completely - and no trace of it will remain.

"Where has it gone? It is gone and gone forever. It can never come back again. In fact, it is as though it wasn't even here in the first place. Because Jesus has already paid the penalty for your wrongs on the cross, that is exactly what he does with them the moment you admit to them and say you are sorry. It is now as though you never even did them in the first place, And that is good news indeed."

Object Lesson 58 - Saying 'NO' to drugs.

Here is an illustration you could use to complement any lesson on avoiding drugs.

All you need is a square piece of cardboard - ideally about 30 cm x 30 cm. On one side of the cardboard write the word NO (in capitals). Turn the card over and from bottom to top write NO again. (i.e. on one side NO is written from left to right, and on the other, from bottom to top).

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 word to appear to either keep saying NO (or ON), or to keep changing from NO to ON as the card is twisted.

You are now ready to illustrate your lesson, twisting the card at the appropriate places.

e.g. You must always say "NO" to drugs. No matter how many times you are offered them, you must keep on saying "NO", "NO", "NO." Because if you take drugs, you will then be "ON" them. You may say "NO" most of the time, but each time you take them you will be "ON" them. And, because they are so addictive, you will soon find that you are "ON", "ON", "ON" them all the time. So the only answer to drugs is to say "NO" to them and keep on saying "NO", "NO", "NO".

You could use a similar technique to illustrate any story involving repentance, or a change in direction (e.g. Jonah. Zacchaeus, Saul/Paul, or even your own testimony) by drawing arrows on your cardboard instead of "NO". i.e. one arrow from left to right, and the other from top to bottom. (see object lesson 9). A third possibility is MOM and WOW - just use your imagination!

Object lesson 59 - The Mobius strip.

The intriguing Mobius strip effect has been around for over 100 years. I have heard presenters use it in a number of different ways, but none (at least to my mind) entirely satisfactorily. I will describe below how I use it, but if anyone can think of a better Biblical application, I would be grateful if you would share it with me.

Effect. Take three strips of paper (e.g. Newspaper) about 1 meter long and 3 cm. wide. Tape the ends of Strip 1 together to form a loop. With loop 2, put a full twist in the paper before taping the ends. With Loop 3, put a half twist in the paper before taping it. Take some scissors, and cut down the middle of each of your loops. Loop 1 will (obviously) result in two equal but separate loops. Loop 2 will result in two loops linked together like a chain. Loop 3 will result in 1 large loop.

Note. http://www.childrensministry.com/ supply a zipped material Mobius loop, with velcro at the ends for easy attachment, which can be used over and over again. However, the effects are the same as for the paper ones.

Application. Produce your three strips separately as you talk about each one. I pre-tape Strips 1 and 2, but leave Strip 3 un-taped until I start talking about it.

(Hold up Loop 1). God created us for union with Him, to be completely at one with Him, just as this loop is one loop. You could imagine one side of the loop as God, and the other side as you - but completely joined together. However sin entered the world and caused separation between us and God. (Cut the loop down the centre to produce two loops, Hold them apart). This is the problem we are all born with - separation from a Holy God.

(Hold up Loop 2). (The children may notice a twist in it, but there is no need to bring it to their attention). But God still loved the people of this world, so he sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. This means that we can now be forgiven and reunited with God. Can sin now separate us from God? (Cut Loop 2 down the centre to produce two loops interlinked). No! The Bible tells us that nothing can now separate us from God. God has a hold of us, and He won't let go.

(Hold up Strip 3). But what about the person who turns wholeheartedly to God and really begins to live for Him? (Put a half turn (twist) in your strip and tape the ends together). What is this person's relationship with God now like? (Cut Loop 3 down the centre to produce one long continuous loop). As you see, this person is now completely reunited with God. And that is the best choice anyone could ever make.

Object Lesson 60 - We are very valuable to God.

Get an attractive round gift box, and fit a circular mirror of the same size into the bottom. At the appropriate time say "This is my treasure box. If you were to look in here, you would see something very, very, valuable. In fact, you will never see anything more valuable in your life." Then invite the children, one by one, to come and look into your treasure box. "That is right , you see yourself, and there is nothing more valuable than that!"

Object Lesson 61 - Overcoming gravity.

A miracle occurs when God overrules or suspends one of the natural laws of the universe. In this illustration you are able to overcome one of the natural laws, namely gravity, with another law - centrifugal force.

Note. It is actually the precise balance between these two that keeps the earth in place year after year, and prevents it crashing towards the sun or hurtling off into outer space.

Effect. For obvious reasons, this is best done outside. Fill a bucket about three quarters full with water. Demonstrate how you can overcome the law of gravity by swinging the bucket up and over your head a few times. The centrifugal force you generate (just like a spin dryer) will be enough to overcome gravity and stop the water falling out of the bucket, even when it is completely upside-down above your head.

Tip. Obviously you will need to practice this beforehand. Start by swinging your water bucket gently to and fro across your body. When you have reached a reasonable speed, you will be ready for your complete swings - then going as fast as you can until you are ready to stop. With a little practice, not one drop of water should spill out.

Object Lesson 62 - Jumping on balloons.

A miracle occurs when God overrules or suspends one of the natural laws of the universe. In this illustration you are able to show how one of these laws can be overcome. Alternatively, you could use this lesson to teach on faith.

If you jump on a normal round balloon it will usually burst because of the pressure of your weight. However, if you are able to distribute your weight over a larger area than that of your shoes, the balloon (or balloons) should not burst.

Get a large cardboard box, and cut it down so that it's sides are only about 15 cm. high. Fill the box with inflated balloons, and place a peace of board on the top. Note. The tops of the balloons should still be clearly visible to your class.

Firstly demonstrate to your class what happens if you jump on a single balloon - it bursts! Then stand on top of the board (you may need some assistance in doing this without losing your balance) and then proceed to jump up and down. Because your weight is now distributed over a large area, the balloons should not burst.

O.L. 63 - Three miraculous signs for Moses

(by Helen Setser)

In the famous encounter with God at the burning bush (Exodus, chapters 3 and 4), Moses was concerned that the Israelites and Egyptians would not believe that he had really been sent by God. Therefore, God gave Moses three miraculous signs that he could use to convince them. These were :- a. Throwing his staff to the ground, and it turning into a snake. b. Putting his hand into his cloak, and it coming out leprous, like snow. When he repeated the process, his hand became clean again. c. Pouring water from the Nile onto the ground, and it turning to blood.

With a little preparation, you can re-enact these three signs for your class. You can perform them all yourself, or use a previously prepared volunteer.

a. Cut out a piece of cardboard in the shape of a staff. On the other side of the staff, draw a snake. Thus when you throw it to the ground, ensure that the "snake" side is upwards.

b. Have your (or your volunteer's) hand coated with petroleum jelly, and some talcum powder in your coat pocket. As you place your hand in your pocket and give it a good rub round, it should come out looking leprous, like snow. When you place your hand in your pocket a second time, you should be able to rub off the powder.

c. Place some red food coloring, or some red (tempera) powdered paint in a tray, and cover it with soil. When you pour water onto the soil, it will appear to have turned to blood.

O.L. 64. Story - "Hank"

Preparation. This is a story that also incorporates an object lesson (O.L. 64 - Jesus cleanses us from sin). I have used it myself many times, and the response has always been good.

You will need a white cloth handkerchief, folded to one sixteenth its full size - i.e. about 10 cm. square, a bottle of iodine, and two drinking glasses, marked "Good deeds" and "Jesus" respectively. In the "Good deeds" glass, add water, in the "Jesus" glass, add either a solution of sodium metabisulphite, or a colourless bleach.

Story. I want to tell you a story about a boy named "Hank". (Show the folded handkerchief). Hank was a typical boy, and liked doing things that other boys like going to school. "Who likes going to school?", doing his homework. "Who likes doing their homework?", and playing games. "Who likes playing games?"

But, just like a lot of boys (and girls), Hank sometimes did some naughty things. "Have you ever done any naughty things?"

One afternoon, Hank came home from school to find that his mother had made a big pile of his favourite cakes. His mum said "Hank, don't you dare touch those cakes. We are all going to share them together for tea. I am going out to the shops now, but don't you eat any of those cakes while I am away."

Hank was left alone in the kitchen with his favourite cakes. And that is when he made his first mistake. Instead of going to a different room where he wouldn't be tempted, he remained in the kitchen - looking at, and thinking about those delicious cakes. Eventually the temptation was too great for Hank, and he ate a cake - - - - and then another, and another, and another - - - until they were all gone!

When we do wrong things, like stealing, it spoils our relationship with God, and makes us dirty on the inside. (Put the handkerchief over the top of your iodine bottle, and invert it - leaving a brown stain).

When Hank's mum came home, and found that the cakes had been eaten, she said to Hank. "Hank, I told you not to eat those cakes." But hank replied, "It wasn't me mummy, I didn't eat the cakes." Hank lied (Make a second stain on your handkerchief). Then Hank continued "It was my brother that ate the cakes." Hank tried to put the blame on someone else (Make your third stain). When Hank's brother found out what he had been saying about him, they ended up having a fight. (Make your fourth stain).

Eventually, Hank realised all the wrong things he had been doing, and that this was making him dirty on the inside. So this is how Hank now saw himself. (Hold up the handkerchief with the four stains). "But how did God see Hank? Because this is what is really important. This is how God saw Hank. (Completely unfold the handkerchief to show all the stains - 64 of them, all equally intense). God not only saw the wrong things that Hank had just done, He also saw all the wrong things Hank had ever done - because Hank had never been forgiven, and these stains (what the Bible calls sin) were still spoiling Hank's life.

Hank had a friend who told him that to be forgiven and get cleaned up on the inside, he had to do lots of Good deeds. So hank did. (Put the handkerchief in the "Good deeds" glass, and mix it around). Firstly, Hank said sorry to his mum for stealing the cakes, and then lying about it. And to prove he really was sorry, he washed the dinner dishes for her - without being asked. Then Hank apologised to his brother, and tidied up his room for him, to show he really meant it. Afterwards, Hank cat the lawn for his Dad, and even began to share his sweets with his friends. Did all these good deeds clean Hank up on the inside? (Remove the handkerchief from the glass). No. They were still there. In fact, the stains now seem to have all run together.

Fortunately, Hank had another friend who told him how he really could be forgiven and cleansed. He said "Hank, Jesus is the only one who can forgive you, and make you clean." So Hank told Jesus what he had done, and asked for His forgiveness and cleansing. (Put the handkerchief in the "Jesus" glass). Did this clean up Hank? (Remove the handkerchief, showing that all the stains had been removed). Yes. Jesus is the only one who can forgive our wrongs, and clean us up on the inside.

Hank said "This is good news. It is too good to keep to myself. I have some friends who also do wrong things. I will have to tell them about Jesus." So he did. (Put the handkerchief in the now brown coloured "Good deeds" glass, and give it a mix. Remove the handkerchief, showing that both it, and the solution are completely clean.)

Conclusion. What a good end to our story. Not only did Jesus clean up Hank, He did the same for his friends as well. And Jesus can do the same for you.

Object Lesson 65 - The Flaming Bible.

This has been a very popular illustration for many years, but never seems to lose its appeal to each new generation of children. The concept is very simple. Basically it is a large cigarette lighter, made to look like a Bible from the outside. You open the "Bible", stroke the sparking mechanism - and up come the flames! (produced from lighter fluid that you have poured into a pad inside the "Bible" beforehand). These Flaming Bibles can be obtained from http://www.childrensministrytoday.org/ or, in New Zealand, from http://www.nzmagic.com/ .

Caution. Before using your Flaming Bible, check that you are not standing near a smoke alarm! I have, myself, set two alarms off in this way - with the resultant call out of the Fire Brigade! However, I must have used my Flaming Bible well over a thousand times over the years, so I don't really have too bad a record!

There are two ways in which I use my Flaming Bible, but perhaps you can think of others.

1. As an introduction to a lesson on the Bible, itself.

"I have brought my Bible along today. This is God's Word, God's love letter to each one of us. But do you know, some people say the Bible is cold, They say "Oh the Bible, it's dull, it's boring, it's cold, it was written thousands of years ago. How can God speak to us today through the Bible? It's cold." But I want to tell you that God's Word the Bible isn't cold. In fact it is hot. I will open up my Bible and we will see just how hot it really is - - - - - Flames! No matter how long ago the Bible was written, it is still up to date, and God can always teach us something different, something new from it. I had better close my Bible now before I burn myself!".

2. As an introduction to a memory verse.

"We have got a memory verse today. I will open up my Bible, and we will read it together - - - - Flames. (Close the Bible). Did you see that? The Bible is a hot book, but sometimes it gets a little too hot. Let's try again. That's better. God so loved the - - - - Flames. (Close the Bible). We will give it one more try. God so loved the world that he - - - - - Flames. I suspected that might happen, so fortunately, I have written out our Memory verse on this card - - - - - ."

Object Lesson 66 - Candle in a jar.

"When we receive Jesus into our lives, we come out of the darkness and into God's light." Take a candle, light it, and place it in a jar. "God now wants us to share His love, life and light - represented by this candle - with others. He wants everyone to come out of the darkness and into his light. He wants us to shine for Jesus, and as we do so (Hold up the jar), people will see His light."

"But what happens to the person who doesn't share God's light with others, just tries to keep it to himself? I will show you what happens." Place the lid on the jar. After a few seconds the flame will dim and eventually go out. "That's right, if we don't share God's light, it will fade and eventually go out in us!"

Object Lesson 67 - The writing on the wall.

Here is an object lesson that you can use when teaching about the famous 'writing on the wall' in Daniel, Chapter 5.

Write out the words (Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin) with a white crayon on white cardboard or paper. Get a volunteer to gradually paint over the cardboard with food colouring. The words will then ‘magically’ appear in white as the food colouring adheres to the cardboard, but not the crayon.

n.b. This is also an interesting way of teaching Memory verses.

Object Lesson 68 - Using the Mobius loop to teach Memory verses.

In Newsletter 47, I invited anyone who had a good use for the Mobius loop to share it with me. Consequently Kathy Hitzfelder emailed me to say that she used them to teach Memory verses - Take a paper strip (about 100 cm. long is ideal) and join the two ends together, making a half twist as you do so. You are then able to write out your Memory verse on the paper. Thus, it will be about 200 cm. long, but because of the Mobius effect will still be able to be read in one continuous straight line.

Possibly a better way of making up your Mobius strip is to print out your verse on six lines (e.g. printed longwise on A4 paper). Cut the lines into strips, and then paste strip 4 onto the back of strip1, strip 5 onto the back of strip 2, and strip 6 onto the back of strip 3. Join strip 1 to strip 2, and strip 2 to strip 3. Finally, join the beginning of strip 1 to the end of strip 3, remembering your half twist. (This is actually a lot easier than it actually sounds!)

Kathy has sent me an attachment of a picture puzzle she uses for teaching John 3.16 in the above way. This is shown above.
Rebus notes: The hand reaching down from the cloud is the oldest known visual symbol of God - He's reaching down to us from heaven. The needle and thread are for sewing - "so". The face is male, so "he". That's a grave minus r. What does a snake say? what does an owl say? Notice the leaves are plural. The dress shows a hem - "him". A shell - "shall". A knot - "not". 1/2 - "have". The clock, showing time is crossed out, meaning not time but eternity - "eternal" or "everlasting".