Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kidzone - March 07.

Story - Wesley Steelberg.

Almost 100 years ago young Wesley Steelberg was on his own in the basement of his house doing his weekly chore - cleaning it up. It was a job he didn't really like, but he knew he had to be obedient to whatever his parents asked him to do. Suddenly Wesley heard someone calling his name "Wesley, Wesley." "That's my Dad" thought Wesley "He's the only other person in the house right now." Ascending from the basement, Wesley approached his dad. "Yes dad, what do you want?" His dad replied "What do you mean, what do I want?" "You called me." responded Wesley. "I most certainly did not " replied his dad, "Now get back down to the basement and finish your chore."

Feeling rather puzzled, Wesley returned to the basement "I'm sure someone called my name, but if it wasn't my dad, who could it be?" thought Wesley. Wesley had hardly started work again when he heard the voice a second time "Wesley, Wesley." "That's definitely my dad this time" thought Wesley as he came up from the basement again. "Yes dad, you definitely called me this time" said Wesley as he approached his dad. Wesley's dad began to look rather angry. "I did not call you" he retorted "If this is some trick of yours to get out of cleaning the basement, it's not going to work. Now get back down those stairs and finish your job."

Back in the basement, Wesley was beginning to feel a little scared. If his dad hadn't been calling out his name, who could it have been? "Wesley, Wesley" came the voice for the third time. A rather frightened Wesley ran up the basement stairs, three at a time! "You've been kidding me" said Wesley as he came up to his dad. "Please tell me you're having a joke with me. You've been calling out my name, and then pretending it wasn't you?"

Wesley's dad was just about to send his son back to the basement when he suddenly remembered a story that he'd read in the Bible about a little boy called Samuel who was about the same age as Wesley. Samuel worked in God's temple for the High Priest, Eli. One night while in his bed Samuel heard someone calling his name. He thought it must be Eli, but Eli said that it wasn't and sent Samuel back to his bed. Twice more, Samuel heard his name being called. On the third occasion, Eli worked out what must be happening. If he wasn't calling Samuel, it must be God! So Eli told Samuel to go back to his bed, but if he heard his name being called again to say "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." That is what happened, and God did speak to Samuel in an audible voice - and told him lots of things that were going to happen to Eli's family.

Wesley's dad thought "If God could speak to Samuel in an audible voice, perhaps He also wanted to speak to Wesley in the same way." Thus Wesley was instructed to return to the basement, but if he heard his name being called again to say "Yes God, what do you want?"

A fourth time Wesley heard his name being called "Yes God, what do you want" he replied. And God did speak to him. He said "I want you to go to your next door neighbour and tell him that I love him and sent my Son, Jesus to die for his sins." Wow! Not only was God speaking to him, He was actually giving him a job to do - and there is nothing more important than being used by God. There was only one problem. Wesley didn't really like his next door neighbour, because he was a bit of a 'grumpy' man. However Wesley reasoned that if God was telling him to go to the man, it must be important, so he was obedient.

Wesley knocked on his neighbour's door, and asked to see the man. However, he was told that he couldn't do so because the man was very sick. In fact, he was not expected to live for much longer. Wesley pleaded to be allowed to see his neighbour, and eventually was allowed into his bedroom to deliver God's message. "God has sent me to tell you that He loves you, and sent his Son, Jesus to die for your sins." On hearing the message, the sick man immediately burst into tears.

As it turned out, that man had lived all his life as though God didn't exist. He just lived a very self-centred life. In fact, he wasn't even sure if God was real. But when he got sick and realised that he was dying, he became very worried because he didn't know what would happen to him after he died. So that very day he had prayed for probably one of the first times ever. His prayer was "God, if you are real, if you really exist, send someone to tell me about you." And God heard and answered his prayer. God didn't send a famous preacher to the man, or even the local Pastor. He sent the little boy from next door!

That night the sick man repented of his sins and gave his life to Jesus. Shortly afterwards he died, and we believe he went straight to heaven, not because he had led a good life, but because, in the end, he had put his trust in Jesus.

When Wesley Steelberg grew up, he became quite a famous preacher, and used to speak to thousands of people about Jesus in his meetings. But God first began to speak to and use Wesley while he was still a young boy. This reminds us that you don't have to be old (or clever, or rich) to be used by God. You only have to be one thing - Obedient, just like Wesley.

Conclusion. God can speak to us in many different ways, the most common one being through His Word, the Bible. But the way He choses to speak to us is not important. The important thing is: Will we be like Wesley and be obedient to what God says?

Illusion - WOW / MOM.

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 write the word "MOM" (The American for Mum) in large letters. On the other side of the cardboard, again write the word "MOM" in large letters, but this time 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 "MOM" appear to either read the same on both sides of the cardboard, or to keep changing to the word "WOW" as the card is twisted.
With a little practice, you will be ready to try this out on your mom (mum). Turn the card in the appropriate way as you say "MOM, whenever I think of you MOM, I have to say WOW, MOM, WOW, MOM. You're so good to me MOM, that I have to say WOW, WOW, WOW, all the time MOM.
On one side of the cardboard draw a large horizontal arrow. On the other side of the cardboard draw a large vertical arrow.
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.

Challenge. How tall was the giant, Goliath? If you email the correct answer to mnmsweetsur@xtra.co.nz , I will send you details of how to do a special illusion.

Laugh break - Body challenges.
Here are some fun challenges for you and your friends to attempt. Some are fairly easy, but others are very hard. You will need to look in a mirror to check whether you can do some of these, or you can get a friend to check you out. Remember - No cheating! I am told that one of these challenges is impossible. See if you can work out which one. Who Knows? Perhaps you will become the first person ever to achieve this challenge.

1. Touch the tip of your nose with your tongue.
2. Balance on one leg for 10 sec., with your eyes closed, without wobbling.
3. Pat your head, rub your tummy and hop, all at the same time.
4. Touch your toes without bending your knees.
5. Wiggle your ears.
6. Wink an eye, without moving your mouth.
7. Lick your elbow.
8. Put your big toe in your mouth.
9. Pick up a pencil with your toes.
10. Twitch your nose.
11. Take a deep breath, then hold your breath for 1 minute.

Scores. I managed to achieve 4. (But I am probably a lot older than you). If you score 6 or 7, that is good. If you score 8, 9, or 10, that is excellent. If you score 11 -YOU MUST HAVE CHEATED!

Your Questions Answered.

Why is my brother / sister nasty to me?
(This is one of the questions I am asked most often.)

"Before I answer your question, can I ask you "How about you ? Are you nasty to your brother / sister ? It is very easy for us to see the faults in others, but very hard to see the faults in ourselves. Brothers and sisters are often nasty to each other, and to understand why, we have to go back to the garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, that brought sin into the world, and spoiled everything. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve and have been born with a selfish nature that wants its own way. Children soon realise that being selfish all the time often gets them in to trouble, so they learn to control their behaviour, especially when they are outside their home environment. However, without Jesus, their selfish nature is still there. When you live with the same persons day after day ( like brothers and sisters ), this selfishness is bound to show itself from time to time, often resulting in "nastiness" to each other.

If your brother or sister is really nasty to you, there are two important things you can do. Firstly, pray that they will hear and respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and allow Him to begin to change their selfish nature. Secondly, whenever your brother / sister is nasty to you, then you be nice to them. The Bible tells us that we are to defeat evil, not with evil, but rather with good. (Romans 12.21).That can be a really hard thing to do, but if you persist in being nice to them, then usually they will start being nice to you !

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Kidzone - February 07.

Kidzone 2.

Story - A modern Prodigal.

You probably know the story which Jesus told of the prodigal (or lost) son. It can be found in Luke, chapter 15. Here is a very similar story, but one which happened only a few years ago.

A girl from Glasgow (I will call her Agnes - a good Scottish name!) was unhappy living at home under the rules of her parents. One day she informed her parents that she was leaving home and going to make her own way in the world. Her parents loved their daughter dearly and were very disappointed to hear of her decision. However they saw that Agnes was determined to leave, so didn't try to stop her.

Thus Agnes left her parental home to 'lead her own life', and severed all connections with her parents. She never went back to visit them, never wrote, never phoned and never even sent them a Christmas card. Agnes' parents had no idea where their daughter was or how well she was doing with her new found 'freedom', but they continued to love her and long for her return. The years passed, and the father died. The mother, however, continued to long for the return of her daughter.

Meantime, Agnes has made a series of bad choices. She had chosen the wrong friends, and soon found herself living a lifestyle of alcohol, drugs and gambling. After a number of years Agnes found herself completely destitute, with no job, home or money. Each evening she would go along to a 'soup kitchen' run by a Glasgow church for homeless people.

One evening Agnes happened to glance at the church notice board and saw a photograph of a little elderly lady. She thought "That lady looks rather like my old mother", so she went to have a closer look. To her amazement, it was a photograph of her mother, with a simple message underneath which read. "Agnes, please come home, I still love you." Agnes could hardly believe what she was reading "My mother still loves me and wants me to come home, despite how I have treated her" she thought. Suddenly, just like the lost son in the Bible story, Agnes realised what a fool she had been leaving home, cutting off all communications with her parents and making all those bad lifestyle choices. She determined that she had to go home and see her mum immediately.

It was late in the evening and the buses had stopped running, and of course Agnes couldn't afford a taxi. Thus Agnes walked quite a number of mile all the way back to her old home, arriving in the early hours of the morning. Her first instinct was to knock on the door, but then she thought "No, that might frighten my mum if she hears knocking on the door at this time of the night" Agnes then instinctively reached for the doorknob and turned it. To her amazement, the door swung open.

Agnes began to worry. "Why was the door unlocked at this time of the night? Perhaps burglars have got in? Perhaps something has happened to my mum?" Making her way quickly to the bedroom, Agnes found her mother asleep in her bed. Waking her up, Agnes announced "Mum, it's me, Agnes. I saw your note. I have come home."

Mother and daughter embraced, then Agnes asked "Mum, I thought something bad had happened to you. Why did you leave the front door unlocked?" Her mother replied "Agnes, I have never locked the front door since the day you left - just in case one night you decided to come home!"

Conclusion. No matter how far our wrong choices take us away from Father God, his door is always open to us.

Faith - A water experiment.
Faith is believing in something that you cannot see. Although we cannot see God (or Jesus) because He is a Spirit, we can still know that He is real (mainly by studying all the wonderful things He has made. - You cannot have a creation without a Creator). Something else we cannot see, but is real is the air. With this experiment, we will 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 the 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.
Tips. 1. It is best to practice this over the sink at first, until you are confident at doing it. 2. Before inverting the glass, hold the cardboard firmly in place with your second hand, then turn the glass upside-down quickly. If you see any bubbles at this stage, wait until they disappear before removing you hand from the cardboard. 3.Always ensure that your cardboard is flat. You will probably need to replace it after it has been used a few times.
Invite a few of your friends to put their faith in the air - which they cannot see- and walk under the glass. As they are doing so, remind them that they are using their faith - by 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!

Laugh Break.
A success 'funny'.
There once was a rich man who was near death. He was very grieved because he had worked so hard for his money and he wanted to be able to take it with him to heaven. So he began to pray that he might be able to take some of his wealth with him.An angel hears his plea and appears to him, "Sorry, but you can't take your wealth with you."The man implores the angel to speak to God to see if He might bend the rules.The man continues to pray that his wealth could follow him. The angel reappears and informs the man that God has decided to allow him to take one suitcase with him. Overjoyed, the man gathers his largest suitcase and fills it with pure gold bars and places it beside his bed.Soon afterward the man dies and shows up at the Gates of Heaven to greet St. Peter. Seeing the suitcase Peter says, "Hold on, you can't bring that in here!"But the man explains to him that he has permission and asks him to verify his story with the Lord. Sure enough,. Peter checks and comes back saying, "You're right. You are allowed one carry-on bag, but I'm supposed to check its contents before letting it through."Peter opens the suitcase to inspect the worldly items that the man found too precious to leave behind and exclaims, "You brought pavement?!?!"
Note. If any of you are still wondering about that - the Bible tells us that the streets of heaven are paved with gold.

Your Questions Answered.
Is there life elsewhere in the Universe?
Surveys in a number of countries indicate that the majority of people believe that there is other life in the Universe, apart from on earth.
We now know that the Universe is absolutely enormous, with countless billions and billions of stars (our sun is a star). People reason that because there are so many stars, there are probably billions and billions of planets associated with them. And the chances are that millions and millions of these planets will be similar to earth, and therefore capable of sustaining life.
Unfortunately, some people believe that life can form itself by chance processes, and if it has happened on earth - then why not on other planets as well? However life CANNOT form itself. A creation needs a Creator. A design needs a Designer. The only One who can create life is God.
So the question we should really be asking is "Has God created life on other planets?"
The only Person who knows everything about everything is God. And God has written us a book called the Bible, which tells us everything we really need to know about life. Therefore the first place we should go to find out if something is true or not is the Bible. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn't say if there is life somewhere other than on earth, so we cannot know for sure. However, by studying the Bible, it does seem that life (certainly intelligent life) outside of the earth is extremely unlikely.
The Bible makes it clear that our earth (small as it may be) is THE most important place in the Universe. It was on earth that God created the first man, Adam. It was here that Adam sinned and brought God's curse on "the whole of creation." thus bringing it into "bondage to decay" (see Romans 8. 21). If there were extraterrestrials (ET's) on other planets, it would hardly be fair that their world was adversely affected because of Adam's sin here on earth!
It was on our earth that God's Son, Jesus Christ, died for our sins "once for all" and redeemed (bought back) the "whole of creation" to Himself. If Jesus died on earth "once for all", that seems to exclude the possibility of Him then going off to other planets to die all over again!
And it will be to here on earth that Jesus will one day return for those of us who are trusting in him. The Bible talks about us (the Church) becoming "the Bride of Christ". And I can't imagine Jesus having more than one bride!
Although we cannot therefore know for certain that there is not life elsewhere in the Universe, if it does exist, we can know three things about it :-
1. It is younger than life on earth, because God didn't create the sun, moon, stars, and consequently any planets that may be associated with them, until Day 4 of the Creation week, whereas He made the earth on Day 1.
2. There is no need to be worried that the earth may be invaded by ET's who are able to take control because they are more advanced and/or intelligent than we are. No. Any other life forms, if they exist at all, cannot be superior to us, because we humans are made in God's image - and you can't get better than the best!
3. It is not important to us on earth. God tells us in the Bible everything that is really important for our lives. Therefore, as it doesn't mention life outside of earth, it cannot be important to us, if it exists at all. If it were important, the Bible would have mentioned it.
Note. If you have a question that you would like answered, email it to me on mnmsweetsur@xtra.co.nz

Kidzone - January 07

Kidzone - January - 07.

Story - A soldier gives up his life for his friends. During World war ll, some British soldiers were taken captive by theJapanese, and made to work very hard building a railway track through thejungle in Burma.One day, the Japanese guards discovered that an axe was missing from thestoreroom. Naturally, they thought that one of the British soldiers musthave stolen it. The camp Commander lined all the British soldiers up, andasked for the man who had stolen the axe to step forward, because they weregoing to take him away and shoot him. Nobody moved."Very well" the Commander said. "I will give you one last chance. If thesoldier who stole the axe doesn't step forward right now, I will choose onesoldier at random and shoot him instead. Then, if the guilty soldier stilldoesn't own up, I will keep on shooting other men until he does so. Will thesoldier who stole the axe step forward now." A soldier took one stepforward. He was taken away and shot.Sometime later, the guards checked on the storeroom again. To their surprisethey found that all the axes were present! They had made a mistake the firsttime they had counted. Nobody had stolen an axe.That British soldier had not stolen an axe. In fact, he had done nothingwrong. What he did do was give up his life so that his friends might live.What do you think the other British soldiers thought of their friend whenthey found out he had given his life that they might live? If, in someway, they could have communicated with him, what do you think they wouldhave said? I think they would have said something like this. "Words cannotexpress how grateful I am to you. You gave your life for me. Now I am goingto give my life over to you. Wherever you want me to go, I will go. Whateveryou want me to do, I will do." I think that would have been the naturalresponse.What a wonderful act it was for that soldier to give up his life for hisfriends. But do you know that Jesus gave up his life for you BEFORE you wereHis friends (Romans 5.8). What is your response to Jesus? Do you say "sowhat" or " who cares." I know what my response was. As soon as I realisedthat Jesus had died for me, I said to him " Words cannot express howgrateful I am to you. You gave your life for me. Now I am going to give mylife over to you. Wherever you want me to go, I will go. Whatever you want meto do I will do."


Passing a pencil through a handkerchief.

Effect. Place a square handkerchief (linen or paper) in a "diamond" shape on a flat surface. Lay a pencil across the centre of the handkerchief. Bring the bottom corner of the handkerchief up to the top, but ensure that it slightly overlaps. The pencil will now, of course, be covered. Place a hand on the pencil through the handkerchief, and tightly roll it up until the lower corner flips over. Unroll the handkerchief, and you will see that the pencil is now on the top. i.e. it appears to have penetrated the handkerchief from inside to outside. Try it out. It is much simpler than it sounds!

Explanation. By rolling up the handkerchief until one corner 'flips over', you are actually turning it inside out, and thus bringing the pencil from the inside to the outside. The critical part is ensuring that only one corner flips over. If both ( or no) corners are flipped, the pencil will remain on the inside.

Application. This illustration can be used to illustrate that obedience brings success.

Example. Once you have practiced this a few times, you can try it out on your friends. Say "If you obey me, you will be able to pass this pencil from the inside to the outside of this handkerchief. What I want you to do is roll it up tightly, tap it three times with your finger, unroll it, and the pencil will have passed through the material - you will be successful. Wait a minute! First let us see what will happen if you are disobedient, and you tap the pencil four times? (Ensure that the rolling stops just before the flip over). Oh dear. You were unsuccessful because you were disobedient! This time you can be obedient (Ensure the bottom corner flips over). Wonderful. Your obedience has brought success!"

You may wish to get a few more volunteers to try it out. All you need to remember is that you control the flip overs, depending on whether you want the person to be successful or not. It is very rare for any volunteer or spectator to notice the differences in the three ways you can roll up the handkerchief - i.e. no, one, or two flip overs.

Laugh Break.

Advice for kids.

1.Never trust a dog to watch your food.
2. When your dad is mad and asks "Do I look stupid?" Don't answer him.
3. Never tell your mum her diet isn't working.
4. When your mum is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair.
5.Never let your little brother in the same room as your homework papers.
6. You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
7. Felt markers are not good to use as lipstick.
8. Don't pick on your sister while she is holding her hockey stick.
9. When you get a bad mark at school, always show it to your mum while she is on the phone.
10. Never try to baptise a cat.
11. When feeding seagulls, always remember to wear your hat.

Your Questions Answered.

Who made God?
(This is the question I am asked most of all).

"If I told you the answer to that, I know what your next question would be. You would say "Who made the person who made God ?" Then, if I told you that , you would ask "Who made the person who made the person who made God ?" Then, if I told you that, you would ask "Who made the person who made the person who made the person who made God ?" etc. etc.

No, the answer is NOBODY made God. God is eternal. That means He has no beginning or end. He has always existed. In fact, there was a time when there was no matter (solid things), no space, and no time, only God Himself. Then God spoke and by His power brought everything in the Universe into existence. The exciting thing is that although we have a beginning, God has made each one of us eternal as well. That means the "real you" - your Soul and Spirit will never die.

I know this is hard for us to understand, because we are used to living in time, with beginnings and endings. But let us consider the alternative. If there is no God (or Creator), that means that everything in the Universe must have created itself - beginning with nothing. Our common sense tells us that nothing can make itself - it has to have a maker or creator. That is why most people in the world believe in a Creator (God). It requires far,far too much faith to believe that everything made itself out of nothing. It is far easier to believe that there always has been a loving God who created everything.

Note. If you have a question that you would like answered, email it to me on mnmsweetsur@xtra.co.nz