Illustrations

Knowing Him

(The Bible)

An old Christian woman whose age began to tell on her had once known much of the bible off by heart. Eventually only one precious bit stayed with her, ‘I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day’ (2 Tim. 1:12). By and by, part of that slipped its hold and she would quietly repeat, “That which I have committed unto Him.’ At last, as she hovered on the borderline between this world and heaven, her loved ones noticed her lips moving. They bent down to see if she needed anything. She was repeating over and over again to herself the one word of the text, ‘Him, Him, Him.’
She had lost the whole Bible but one word. But she had the whole Bible in that one word.

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No Strings Attached

(Salvation)

PREPARATION: Take a balloon that can blow up to be fairly large. Decorate it with markers/paints and place words like “happiness, peace, eternal life, etc.” all over the balloon. Then, cut enough two-feet long pieces of yarn/string to have one piece for every person in your group. Blow up the balloon, tie it off, and hold it up in your hand by the knot. Without actually tying any of the pieces of yarn to the balloon, hold the strings in your hand so that it appears that one or all of the strings is attached to the balloon.

Explain to your group that the goal of this activity is to get the balloon. Walk around to each person in your group, hold out the strings, and challenge them to take the balloon. Time and time again, members of your group will pull on a string, only to find it is not attached to the balloon. Continue, always stressing to your group to “take the balloon” while holding out the strings. When the last person has had a chance, everyone will see that you “tricked” them.

Ask your group to repeat back to you what you had been telling them to do. You kept telling them to “take the balloon,” but they were taking the strings. Explain that the correct response was not to take a string, but to simply reach up and take the balloon.

So often we think that true happiness comes through a useless string: money, popularity, pleasure, etc. We pull, hoping to finally find true happiness, only to miss out. True happiness, however, has no strings attached — it is a free gift offered to us through Jesus Christ. God continuously holds out this gift and offers it to us, but we keep taking the strings. Now is the time to accept God’s free gift.

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Sin Like A Pebble In My Shoe

(Overcoming Sin)

Have each person put a rock in their shoe, don’t tell them why. (I bought a small bag of fish tank rocks for this, all you need is one for each person, so if you have a fish tank you could take a handful from there). Then take a walk around the building or inside the church. Use this experience to teach that Sin affects us like the rock in our shoe. When we feel it it hurts, we can temporarily move it so that we don’t feel it, but it is still there and will creep back eventually. We have to remove it from our lives just like we had to take the rock out of our shoe.
I did this with my high school Sunday school class. It was a great introduction to our discussion of sin, repentance and forgiveness. We walked outside and around the building so we wouldn’t disturb the other classes. Another variation for youth groups would be to give them the rock in the morning at Sunday school and have them keep it in their shoe all day until youth group that evening. Then have the discussion at youth group.

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Sin Is Like Toilet Paper

(Overcoming Sin)

PREPARATION: Plan to divide your group up into small groups of no more than six. Get four rolls of toilet paper for each group.

Divide everyone into their appropriate groups, and have each group elect who they consider to be the strongest person in their group. Then, give four rolls of toilet paper to each group and let them wrap their strong man/woman completely. The goal is to wrap the strong person so tightly that he/she cannot get free.

After everyone has finished, let each group guide their strong person around the room to do simple tasks: pick up a pencil, shake hands with someone else, etc. Then time each strong person and see how long it takes him/her to become completely free from all toilet paper.

The point is, sin is like toilet paper. It can bind us up and keep us from effectively doing what God has called us to do. We are wrapped up in death, just as Jesus was wrapped in his grave clothes. However, if we trust in Jesus and become dead to sin and alive to God, we can be set free to do God’s will. We can break out of sin, just as Jesus broke out of His grave clothes and lived a new, better life.

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The Dilemma

(Christianity)

According to an legend, a man became lost in his travels and wandered into a bed of quicksand. Confucius saw the man’s predicament and said, ‘It is evident that men should stay out of places such as this.’ Next, Buddha observed the situation and said, ‘Let that man’s plight be a lesson to the rest of the world.’ Then Muhammad came by and said to the sinking man, ‘Alas, it is the will of God.’ Finally, Jesus appeared. ‘Take my hand, brother,’ he said, ‘and I will save you.

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The Fool

(Salvation)

One day a king called his faithful court jester into the palace. ‘Little jester. I want you to take this wand and search the entire kingdom, and when you find someone more foolish than yourself, present to them this wand.’ The jester went on his way, and looked everywhere. He searched here, and there, every place he could find. As he returned, he noticed the king had taken ill. ‘Little jester, I am very sick, and will be going far, far away.’ ‘Have you prepared for your journey Sire?’ said the jester. ‘Why, no. I haven’t’ the king said. ‘Then Your Majesty, I must present to you this wand!’ Would the jester give YOU the wand?

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Tower Over Sin

(Sin)

Materials needed: Jenga ™ Game (or other game where you stack blocks and it is over when they fall.

Before the game is started you tell the group that while you’re playing this game, be thinking of each tile as being a sin. Then when the game is over and the tiles fall you ask each what did that mean to them. The purpose is to help them realize that by stacking one sin on top of another, then another, and so on, eventually you will crumble. But by going to our Savior and asking for forgiveness, we have no sins to stack. My Sunday School class loved it and I was so surprised at how much sense it made to them.

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Permission To Cheat

(Salvation)

A senior named Kevin at Texas Tech University was closing in on his graduation. One class, however, brought fear into his heart — LOGIC. He took the course only because it was required, and to his dismay he soon learned there would only be one test during the entire semester — a final exam. The grade on that test would determine the grade in the class. Kevin never skipped class, took copious notes, and listened to the professor’s every word. Nevertheless, as the day for the final approached, his fears grew. Finally, on the day before the final, the professor stated clearly, “Tomorrow you may bring with you one sheet of paper. You may put anything on that paper that you think will help you on the test. In other words, you have my permission to cheat.” The students scattered and began writing very tiny notes on both sides of the paper, but Kevin went to sleep peacefully. The following day, as students filed in to take the test, they began comparing what each of them had written on their cheat sheets. To their amazement, however, Kevin had written nothing. When the bell sounded, the tests were passed out, and the professor told them to begin, Kevin placed his piece of paper quietly on the floor. The door to the classroom opened, and the professor’s grader, a Ph.D. student, walked in and Kevin had him stand on his paper. Since the Ph.D. student was “on the paper,” he provided Kevin with all of the answers to the test.

No matter how hard you work and how much you try, you will never do enough to get into heaven. Many people spend much of their life making a list of things that they think will get them in to heaven. But all we really need to do is put our petty little lists down on the floor, because then we can ask Jesus to stand by our side and give us everything we need to pass the test of life and enter safely into heaven without fear of failing.

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Recognising God’s Voice

This illustration has been used both in youth group and in church to show how the more we get to know God, the more we can effectively listen to him and be guided by him through our lives.
Before the group meets, get a few people together and record them speaking for about 10 seconds each on a tape (they can say anything – tell a joke, talk about their favourite food, whatever). Try and get a couple of people who everybody knows, and one or two people that the youth will not know.
Play the tape to the youth group, and get them to see if they can recognise who is speaking. They never cease to get excited about hearing theirs or their friends voices on tape!
Explain the illustration by pointing out that it was easy for them to guess the voices of the speakers that they knew well, whereas no one really knew who the stranger’s voice belonged to. Explain that it is like this with God – the more we get to know him, the easier it will be to recognise what he is trying to tell us in our lives.

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Exploring the Power of Words

You’ll need a tube of toothpaste for each kid or you can put the kids in pairs. (I found they had more fun with a partner) and a paper plate and a $10.00 bill.
Give each person or group a tube of toothpaste and a plate. Tell them to squeeze the toothpase on the plate. Have fun with it, make designs etc. Then place the $10 bill on the table and tell the kids they have five minutes to put all the toothpaste back in the tube. The winner gets the money ( your money is safe). DISCUSS: Which is harder, squeezing out or putting back in? How is this like words coming out of our mouths? When have you wished you could take back words you’ve already said? In other words, what comes out of our mouths cannot be taken back. We can apologize but are things the same?

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