A Cleansed Past: The Room

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order.
But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, They had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I have liked.” I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, Shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life.
Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.
A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I have betrayed.” The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Have Read,” “Lies I Have Told,” “Comfort I have Given”, “Jokes I Have Laughed at.” Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve yelled at my brothers.”
Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger” “Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents.” I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.
Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked “TV Shows I have watched,” I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked L”ustful Thoughts,” I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me.
One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. It’s size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.
And then I saw it. The title bore “People I Have Shared the Gospel With.” The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me.
I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes.
Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me. Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.
“No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive.
The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.” I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” —Phil.4:13

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

(My “People I shared the gospel with” file just got bigger, how about yours? )

This is an example of the cards we used….

Name: Church:
Do you have questions about:
Salvation? Yes No
Life Choices? Yes No
Rededication? Yes No
The Bible? Yes No
Would you like to talk to someone about these questions? Yes No
Would you like someone to pray for you? Yes No About?_________________________
If you would like someone to talk, how can we reach you?_______________________________
Return this card to the appropriate place & receive a surprise gift.

A Light in the Darkness

You’ll need:
– 1 glow slow stick per person (purchased at Walmart, etc.) NOT POPPED (not glowing)
– 1 large nametag sticker per person

Beforehand, on each nametag, write “Jesus’s Love” or “Love of God” (something to that effect). Give each kid a glow stick that hasn’t been popped. If you like you can demonstrate beforehand how to make them glow.
Turn off all the lights in the room (it’s best to do this in total darkness). With the lights off, give each kid one of the name tags & have them put it on his shirt. Talk to them about how sin has caused the world to become dark. Then talk about how we have to “let our light shine before men…” and, one by one, have them pop their glow sticks (make them glow). When they do this, you should be able to read the name tag. This shows how we must let OUR light shine in order for others to see the love of Christ.

A Light In The Darkness 2 (revised)

First off, follow the original “Light in the Darkness” post, but here’s the difference. On about half of the name tags, draw blurry lines through the phrase “Love of Jesus.” Follow the instructions from the original post for the discussion, but point out that on about half of the group, the message of the “Love of Jesus” appears to be somewhat blurry. You can say something like, “even though you are a Christian, sometimes your actions and words don’t always convey the love of Jesus.” Say, “people at school here you say that you are a Christian, but they also see you act in ways that don’t glorify God, so your message of the love of Jesus is blurry.” The whole point is even though we are a light, sometimes our message of Christ’s Love is not so easy to see in us because we blur it with sin. Don’t straddle the fence! Don’t blur the message of Christ’s Love!

Actions Speak Louder

Talk about actions speaking louder then words. At the end of the talk have the students follow these instructions (you will also be doing the instructions):

1. Hold your hand in the air.
2. Wiggle all five fingers.
3. Make a circle by connecting your thumb to your index finger.
4. Wiggle your other three fingers.
5. Tell the students to place the circle on their chin, but you place your circle on your cheek.

Most of the students will place the circle on their cheek because they are following what you doing and not what you’re saying. It helps to show the power of actions and the confusion that arises when word and actions contradict each other.

All Things Are Possible With Christ

This is a great way to illustrate the verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
First you take an index card and ask everyone if they think you can cut a hole in it big enough to fit anyone through it. Then, while teaching the lesson fold the index card in half the fat way. cut thin lines up and back never cutting through the folded side. The lines should zig-zag up and down. When finished turn it so the folded side is up and cut through each fold across the top except the first and last fold. When you open it up it should be a huge circle that anyone can fit through. If it doesn’t work the first time try it again, because it is tricky. Practise it at home first!

OK, I have gotten some emails concerning the first submission of this illustration. I will try to explain a little better.

Hold index card the tall way. Fold from top down, keep folded for the whole process. Start by cutting a thin line from the top to the bottom, but don’t cut through the bottom. Then go from the bottome up slightly over from the first line. You should try to fit like 13 or 14 lines across. End with a top to bottom cut. Now hold the card the way you started, (fold on the top), and cut under each fold except the first and last, (they will hold the circle together). You cut through the folds by tucking your scissors under the fold, so the scisoors are horizontal and the fold is still on top. When you have done this, you should be able to open it up carefully, and have a very zigzaggy circle! Hope this works better!

Anchored in Christ

Teach that only Christ is suitable for us to put our faith in

Items needed
a chair or stool
a bed sheet
string cut into four or five foot sections one for each student
index cards

Tie several pieces of string to the chair and the rest to the index cards. On the index cards write some things that people tend to put their faith in (money power it’s also a good idea to put your own name). Then label the chair “Christ” place the index cards on the seat and cover with the sheet with the strings leading out.

Have everyone gather around the chair and grab a string. Have everyone pull their string and discuss how all these things let us down but Christ never fails.

And The Trumpet Shall Sound

This can really be done indoor or outdoors. You need at least 15 people, but the more the better.

You will need to prepare beforehand a piece of paper for each of the youth. Write on each piece of paper:

1. A job occupation
2. A personality disposition (scheming, fastidious, mean, etc.)
3. If they are Christian or non-Christian (Important to give no more than 1/3 of the youth “Christian”)

Hand each youth a piece of paper and tell them not to show it to anyone else. The MC will say that the youth room, church building, outdoor field, or retreat center that you are at represents our city. They are all citizens of that city. They have each been given a job (or unemployment), a personality trait, and been told if they are Christian or not. For some time, they are going to live in this city. They are allowed to do whatever they want during that time. I also encourage them to think of a specific person that fits their characteristics (helps them to act like someone different) and imitate them.

Let them go to it and have the youth workers make sure no one is not participating or causing unnecessary trouble (maybe the workers can be the city police…). You’ll be amazed how creative the youth will be. After around 20-30 minutes, play a loud trumpet blast from a stereo or a real trumpet. Have everyone gather into the starting room. Separate the Christians on one side of the room and the non-Christians on the other side. Explain that Judgment Day has come. All of those who were Christians or who converted to Christianity are in Heaven. All of the rest are now in Hell.

Ask first the non-Christians why they didn’t become Christians. You will get a variety of answers. Probably some will say “No one ever told me about it,” or “How was I to know?” That is a good time then to turn to the Christians and ask them why the others are in Hell. Ask them very gently but directly if they tried to witness and why or why not.

You can end this part of the discussion explaining that we do not know the day or the hour, but one day there will be a separation of believers and unbelievers. At this point it is good to bring the two sides together and have an open discussion on what our responsibility is to persuading others to accept Jesus and how the youth can strengthen each other in doing so.

Armor of God

This is a great illustration that you can involve your audience with. It applies to almost everyone because most kids have been around at least one of these sports. I have used if for many years speaking in front of many different types of kids and it always seems to be a hit. I played baseball in college and I currently race 4 wheelers. From both of these sports I have acquired an abundance of equipment. There are two ways that I use this illustration. The first is using my catchers gear, and the second using my motocross gear. For example:

Belt of Truth: Belt that holds pants up. Talk about how you have to have a true foundation in truth to be able to compete.

Breastplate of Righteousness: Chest Protector, we must live a righteous life, and people must be able to tell by looking. We also need to guard our hearts against the attacks of Satan.

Shoes of Readiness: Baseball shoes, I also include my shin guards. When a catcher is waiting in the dug out while his team is hitting he often wears his shin guards to be ready because you cannot predict what may happen. Always be prepared.

Shield of Faith: Catchers Mit. Satan can attack in small blows, but over time they add up. Anyone can catch a few balls with their bare hands, but to catch a lot may begin to hurt and cause injury.

Helmet of Salvation: Helmets are not for fun, a catcher can put everything on and go out to the plate, but the game does not start until he puts his helmet and mask on. This means business. The same is for out committment to Christ. When we choose that relationship, we are telling Christ that we are ready!

Sword of the Spirit: This would be my bat. you can’t score any runs if you are not prepared for offense. Just like you cannot win a battle if you don’t have any ammunition.

When i use my Motocross gear it is as follows:

Belt of Truth: Kidney belt, used for support of internal organs. Still a foundation of gear for a racer.

Breastplate of Righteousness: Chest Protector. Sometimes sponsors put their logos on the front for others to see. This is a good example of how we should advertise for Christ in a positive way.

Shoes of Readiness: Riding boots, designed specifically for racing to protect the rider. It is not legal to race without boots.

Shield of Faith: Goggles, gloves, knee pads, elbow protectors. All used for secondary protection against the unexpected and also for the small things like rocks that can add up in a long race.

Helmet of Salvation: My helmet. It is illegal to race without a helmet as well, this means business. you have to make a commitment to racing to actually put on the helmet and race. Anyone can put on clothing and walk around, but to put on a helmet means it’s time for battle. Much like committing your life to the Lord.

Sword of the Spirit: My 4 wheeler. Without it I am not ready to race, I can only watch. Same for the Bible. Without it, I may never be ready when i am called.

I have also used football equipment, but most people don’t keep old football gear, but if you have it just plug it in.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me. Have a great day!

Armor of God – Silly Version

When teaching Kids about the Armor of God, it’s always good to use an illustration. My fiancé and I try to take a less traditional approach on Bible lessons, so they children don’t get bored or tune us out because they are so familiar with it. So on this particular lesson we brought in a bunch of old goofy items and had each child wear a different piece or “armor.”
Helmet of Salvation: crazy “cat in the hat” type hat with wild colors and stripes (then we taped a cross on it)
Breast plate of Righteousness: an old velvet vest turned around (so the buttons are in the back) with a cross tapped on it
Shield of Faith: a large pillow (a sham works better so they can put their arm inside to hold it more like a shield)
Belt of Truth: an old “cowboy belt” w/ a large buckle
“Feet fitted w/ the Gospel of truth”: Large house shoes
Sword of the Spirit: a large roll from wrapping paper and a paper towel roll that we cut and glued and made into the form of a sword.
Afterwards the children went into the main sanctuary and told the adults what each piece meant. It was not only a chance for the kids to learn and have fun, but also for the adults to see what their children were doing.

Armor of God (Ephesians 6)

For a lesson on the armor of God, get Bible Alminacs, and pictures with descriptions of war weapons and protection used in the era when Ephesians was written.
Have enough materials on hand for your group to split up and research one of each of the types of spiritual armor, and connect it historically with themselves spiritually. Begin by reading from the Bible Eph 6 :10-18, and breifly discuss.(WHEN the evil happens, not IF..etc. The idea is to help this concept to be less abstract, and for students to make important corrolations for themselves. I had at least one resource for each group, then they traded off. It would have been even better if I had slides and even more background information, but the students came up with spiritual connections which were great. After plenty of time for groups to do their fact finding, they presented each piece of spiritual armor to the group, and got feedback. Reread the passage from Ephesians, and discuss. Close with prayer asking for each person in the room to remember their armor, and why.
Some things students put together were that the shield of faith- when shields were researched, they used to be soaked in water to extinguish flaming arrows. Jesus is referred to Living Water – soak ourselves in THAT! Keeping our feet fitted with the gospel of peace- when we are on slippery surfaces, if we don’t have the right footwear on, we slip. If we stay in God’s Word, we keep ourselves spiritually stable, the stumbles are less frequent,and when we are in a forward relationship with God, we cannot be growing further and sliding spiritually….the helmet of Salvation – helmets keep our brains in if we receive a blow to the head, or have an accident – just as if we receive spiritual blows, with salvation, we know we won’t lose it- it’s a guarantee. A good swordsman never leaves his sword- he’s always ready! So should we always be ready to share Christ with others, and be ready to stand up for him. The sword is also the only weapon- everything else is defense…hmmm- makes ya think! The breastplate- with it we never need to turn our backs- with God on our side , we can face anything, because he will not turn form us. This is just some of what students came up with- good stuff with visuals, research, and discussion. This activity took about one hour.

Bean Activity

This is a pretty serious game that only work with large numbers of people (read: 50+). Everyone takes seven beans from a bucket of beans. Form a circle with all the people. Explain that the game is serious. Pick one person in the circle to start the game. That person (person A) puts their beans in their pocket, and then moves to the inside of the circle. They then face the person next to them (person B), and ask if the person has any medicine for them. If person B says, “Yes,” then they give them one of their beans. Otherwise, person B tells person A, “I have no medicine for you.” Person A then moves on to the next person in the circle (person C).
Once person A moves on to person D, person B follows them, asking person C if they have any medicine. As person A moves on, person B follows, then person C follows. The circle will double back on itself. Once person A reaches the end of the circle (the gap they left when they started) they put all the beans they collected aside, and pull out their seven beans. Those are the only seven that they may give away.
At the beginning of the game, people are more likely to give away beans, so the first people to go around the circle wind up with many beans. But by the end, some people will end up with no beans, because other gave them all away and had none to give them. The game should be quiet except for people asking, “Do you have any medicine for me?” so it may be helpful to have meditative music in the background. I will repeat that this is a serious game, and I have seen grown men crying at the end because they had no beans to give away to people who had none.
Once the game is over and everyone has had a chance to go around the circle, it may be helpful to debrief and talk about why people gave beans, or how it felt to tell someone they had nothing to give. It is even more poignant when the supply of beans is clearly visible, and even overflowing in the middle of the circle. This game asks more questions than it answers, about our generosity, about our arrogance (it’s not our job to save everyone; that’s God’s), about our foolish attempts at wisdom in deciding how to give our beans away. It may be helpful to split into small groups to discuss, or give time for people to deal with what the game meant to them.

Bear One Another’s Burdens

Tools needed:
Backpacks(6-8 or 1 per child)
Weights, books, or heavy objects

Start out by having 1 backpack filled with weights or books, which will be very difficult for 1 child to carry alone. The other backpacks leave empty. Distribute the backpacks to the children, leaving the one already filled for last. Ask the child if carrying the backpack is difficult. Ask the other children if their backpacks are hard to carry. Then take the objects out of the 1 backpack and distribute them to each of the other backpacks. This should even out the weight of the packs, and then you can illistrate how important it is to carry each other’s burden’s. When we try to carry them alone, it is very difficult, and we struggle. But when we have others ‘bearing our burdens’ with us, it lightens our load!

Bearing Your Cross

Make a large cross (we used 6×6 beams) that’s about 5×7 or larger. Have youth try to carry it (or get a rope and drag it) individually, then have others join in. It will show the importance of ‘Bearing Your Cross’ with fellow Christians along the way.

Beautiful Feet

This is a cool activity/ice breaker to do with a group (the larger the better) that know each other fairly well (at least by sight and name).

If you have a petition of some sort (or you can get leaders to hold up a long blanket, as long as the students cannot be seen) get all but one student (this student should know everyone’s names) to go to the other side of the petition and take off their shoes and socks. The group should line up along the petition with only their feet being seen under the petition. The lone student on the other side must now guess which feet belong to which individuals (by tapping the person’s foot and saying their name). They keep going until they get everyone.

Then the leader can start talking about Romans 10:15
“And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'”

Tell the students how they all have beautiful feet
and go into telling them about being witnesses etc…

Because I Love You, Have Some Cheese.

Everything has to have a lesson with Youth stuff. We made sandwiches for lunch at one of our “game days” and had this lesson to go with it…
Each kid was “assigned” one of the ingredients for the lunch. The different meats, condiments, chips, veggies, etc. Except for the bread and cheese… one of the youth leaders was assigned that. Under each ingredient was a piece of paper with a strange/funny instruction on it. I had the kids go one at a time… they had to walk up to the person with the ingredient they wanted, and ask for it. “Please let me have some ham.” The kid with the ham said “Well, OK, but you have to do a disco dance for me” or whatever else was on their instruction sheet. When the kids asked for bread (the cheese was hidden off to the side), the youth leader answered with a hug, and “Of course you can have some bread!! I love you!! Have some cheese too!!” and provided both to the kids.
Of course, the lesson was “God gives us what we need and a whole lot more! Most PEOPLE want you to EARN their love, God gives it freely.” The kids had a great lunch, and got a good lesson while we ate.
Some of the silly instructions I used were…
disco dance
sing “Mary had a little lamb”
do 5 jumping jacks
count down from 10 and yell “BLASTOFF!”
spell your name backwards

Blindfolded Initiative Task

First you blindfold all the youth and tell them they are no longer allowed to talk ‘or else’. Then you whisper a different number to each of them. The numbers can be any range, we threw some minus numbers in once, they don’t have to be consecutive, (ex. 1-2-3..), you could go -4 -3 -1 -1 0 2 4 4 7 8 9 13 17 40… and so on, depending on how hard you want it to be you can spread the numbers out, or make em’ close, with no negitive numbers.

Without talking or being able to see the kids have to put themselves in order from least to greatest. Some times this goes on for a long time and most kids give up and just sit down. At this point you can take off the blindfold of one of the kids who’s actually putting effort into it and let them have their sight, yet they still can’t talk.

Once they think they’ve completed it, go through the line asking them their numbers. Once they have successfully completed the task, have them sit down and ask them how it made them feel. You will get a range of answers like frustrated, or angry. Then you can do a little devo about how, it’s like how we are sometimes lost and we can’t see where we are going in life. And when people come along and try to pull us or push us different ways, and we are afraid to trust them, or we just want to give up when things get tough. Or sometimes we are holding on to something we think is safe and the right thing, but maybe God has a better place for us. It’s hard to let go. God is in control and He see us and is with us even though we don’t realize He’s there. You can go other ways with this too. It’s just an example of a debrief we used.

Body of Christ

To illustrate that all are important in the body of Christ. I had the kids try to race without using their toes, sit without using their knees and (this is the best) eat without using their elbows. This is a good way to show how important to life all parts of the body are…and so how important all people in the Body of Christ are.

Body of Christ with Operation game

Use the game of Operation to illustrate how we need to not only work together as one body but not fight with ourselves in order to accomplish a task. Take two people as volunteers and tie their hands together. Give one person the tweezers to the Operation game and tell him to get a piece out from the board. They should do this fairly easily. Next tell the other person to try to stop him from getting the next piece out of the board. This time it’s nearly impossible with their hands tied together.

Body, Soul, and Spirit

You will need 3 volunteers. Each of these volunteers will either be: the Body, the Soul, or the Spirit. The person who is chosen to be the “Soul” will be in-between the “Body” and the “Spirit.”

Explain that the “Soul” contains our mind, will, and emotions. Continue to tell them that our “Soul” can either go with what the “Body” wants (worldy things) or want what the “Spirit” wants. Tell them that often times, many of us want to do what the “Body” wants and do what the “Spirit” wants. Explain to them that they’ve got to make the decision to pick either one.

A good passage to go along with this would be James 1:8 (you might want to read this verse in context for better understanding) which tells us that a double-minded person doesn’t receive anything from God

Bread and The Body

You will need a clear plastic bag, a brown paper bag, a tying string, and of course the Loaf of BREAD. Before everyone enters the room, have a loaf of bread sitting on a table. It must be uncovered at all times. From time to time play with the loaf of bread (toss it around, pass it from youth to youth, etc.)
At times, pretend to remove the dust from the bread as well as other insects. After a reasonable time, offer the youth a piece of bread. You will likely not find anyone who is willing to consume a piece of the bread because it has been exposed to the environment. Likewise, our bodies, are not to be touched or handled by anything or anyone. Just like a piece a bread, we need to take care of our bodies. We need to cover it to keep from plain view. We need to cover it to keep flies from it. We need to secure it to keep its integrity.
A challenge to live a life of abstinance, purity and godliness.