Friday, August 14, 2009

Kidzone 29.

Kidzone 29.

Story - The old oak tree.

A young man appeared to have an ideal life. He had a good job, a nice home, a loving wife and two adorable sons. There was nothing he liked better than spending tome with his family, and especially playing with his two boys.

But there was something wrong with his life. He was greedy. He thought that his boss didn't pay him enough money. So he began to steal money from the company he worked for. Just a little at first, and then more and more. Eventually, he had stolen quite a lot of money. He thought he had got away with it but, returning home one day, he saw a police car parked outside his house. He immediately realised that he had been found out.

The man was put on trial, pleaded guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment. He was genuinely sorry for what he had done, and deeply ashamed for letting down his family. "They will never forgive me" he thought as he was led off to prison. "They are better off without me. What will our friends say to my wife when they find out what has happened? How will my sons be treated at school?" Right then that man made a decision to cut himself off from his family. "I have only brought shame to them. They will be better off without me."

Shortly after arriving in prison the man received a letter. He knew from the handwriting that it was from his wife, but he didn't open it. He was no longer part of her life. He kept on receiving letters from his wife, frequently at first, then less and less until, after about a year, they stopped coming. He didn't open any of them.

After three years, the Prison Governor called the man into his office to say that, because of his good behaviour, he was to be released the following week. Normally this would have been good news, but not for that man as he had nowhere to go on his release. He suddenly remembered his wife and sons and how good it used to be living with them. He wondered if in some way they might be willing to forgive him and take him back as their husband and father.

So the man hurriedly wrote a letter to his wife, explaining that he would soon be released, and wondering if she and their sons were prepared to forgive him and allow him to come back home. He explained that he would be on a bus that would pass right through their town and added "If you can find it in your heart to forgive me and take me back home, tie a handkerchief around a branch on that old oak tree at the front of our home. If I see a handkerchief when the bus passes, I will know that you have forgiven me and that I will be welcome. But if I don't see one, I will remain on the bus, and you will never hear from me again."

Release day came and, along with other prisoners, he boarded his bus. The other prisoners were happy upon their release, but the man was looking sad as he wondered if his wife would take him back. He was asked why he looked so sad, and explained the whole story to the other passengers. Many of the original passengers left the bus, but others took their place and were told the man's story. Many hours later, as the bus entered the man's home town, all the passengers knew his story and were eagerly looking to see if a handkerchief was tied round that old oak tree.

The bus turned a corner and entered the street where the man used to live. He eagerly looked out of the window at the old oak tree. But he didn't see one handkerchief - - - - - He saw hundreds and hundreds of them! Every branch on that large tree was covered with handkerchiefs.

That man's wife had never stopped loving him. She had forgiven him straight away for what he had done, and longed for the day when he would be allowed to return home. She was bitterly disappointed when he didn't reply to her letters. But when she finally did hear from him, it was the happiest day of her life.

Immediately she selected the largest handkerchief she could find and tied it on one of the oak tree's branches. But the handkerchief looked so small compared to that large tree. Suppose her husband didn't see it and stayed on the bus? She got her sons to help and rounded up all the material they could find to tie on the branches. But still she wasn't satisfied. She really wanted her husband to know how much he was loved and how very welcome he was. So she went to her neighbours and got more material from them. By the time the bus arrived, the whole tree was covered with material. No-one could possibly miss it.

In the same way God wants us to know how much he loves us and is willing to welcome us into His family. To understand how much He loves us, he asks us to look at another tree. No, not an oak tree, but a tree on which he allowed his Son, Jesus Christ to be crucified for our sins. When we really look at that tree, we know just how much God loves us.

Note. This story was the inspiration for the 'Pop' song "Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree" which was a big success back in 1973. Ask your parents if they remember it?

Your questions answered - Can God speak to us with a voice that we can actually hear?

God can speak to us in many different ways, and these include using an audible voice that we can actually hear with our ears. But this way is not very common. The way He choses to speak to us is not important. The important thing is are we obedient to what God says? Listed below are a number of ways in which God can and does speak to people.

1. The Bible.

This is God's Word, so what the Bible says, God says. This is the main way in which God communicates with people today. Thus, if you neglect your Bible reading, you could well be preventing God from speaking to you.

Although all of the Bible is God's everlasting message to us all, He can take a part of it - perhaps even a single verse - and use it to speak into our lives, by making it 'come alive' to us, so to speak. Thus as we read this particular verse, we get excited and just 'know' that God is using it to speak to us.

God can of course bring to our mind at any time any scripture that we have memorised. Almost every Christian has experienced times when the Holy Spirit calls to mind some scripture or truth at a moment when it is needed. That is why scripture memorisation is so important for all of us.

2. An audible voice.

The Bible records a number of occasions in which God spoke to people this way, perhaps the best known being the boy Samuel. This is not God's usual way of communicating with people today, but that is not to say that He cannot or will not speak to you in an audible voice.

I have never heard God's audible voice, but I know a number of people who have. In most cases, someone's life was in danger. It was as though God had to speak to someone urgently to avert the danger. However, I once taught my children's class about God speaking to Samuel. The following week a girl came up to me and said "God spoke to me a few days ago in an audible voice, just like He spoke to Samuel. He told me to go and tell my Gran. that He loved her." I asked her if she had done it, and she replied that she had. This reminds us that the important point is not how God speaks to us, but whether we are obedient to what He says.

3. An inaudible voice.

Although you may not hear God speaking to you with your ears, if you are trusting in Jesus, God's Spirit lives in you and He can speak to you through your spirit. For example, you may get a 'little voice in your head', a strong desire or impression to do / not to do something, speak to someone, go / not go somewhere etc. The closer you grow in your relationship with God, the more clearly will you be able to recognise this 'inner voice.'

We all have ideas, and we tend to think "Oh, that idea is mine." But perhaps God placed the idea in your mind in the first place!

I once came across an eight year old girl in the school playground, crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she replied that none of the other girls ever played with her and that she had no friends. I told her that I would pray for her and ask God to give her a good friend. As I began to pray, I noticed another girl about 100 metres away begin to run towards us. She arrive just as I finished my prayer and had said 'Amen.' She looked at the girl I had been praying for and said "Will you come and play with me?" An instant answer to prayer! But why did that second girl suddenly run over to the first one and ask her to play? I don't really think that God shouted down into the playground with a loud voice "Hey Jessie, Go and ask Jodie to play with you." No, I think He just put the idea in the mind of Jessie (who interestingly was a Christian) "Why don't you play with Jodie. She's not really all that bad." Therefore, I think that Jessie had heard God's inaudible 'inner voice'. However, the important point was that she was obedient to what God said.

4. Your conscience.

This is one of the things that makes us different from animals. God has given to everyone who has ever been born a conscience. This is God's voice within us all that warns us - by making us feel uneasy or anxious - when we are about to do wrong. God will never take our free will away and prevent us from doing wrong, but He will always warn us when we are about to make a mistake.

We should always listen to our conscience, because if we keep ignoring this "little voice" and continue doing wrong, the voice will appear to get smaller and smaller until we can hear it no more.

5. Older Christians.

By this I mean people who have known Jesus longer than you have. They are often able to give us good advice and help guide us into what God wants us to do.

6. Circumstances.

God can use the everyday events of life to guide us. This can be likened to the opening and closing of doors. For example you may wish to get into the school Rugby team, but you are never chosen. Therefore you start playing Soccer instead - and find you have a greater ability for Soccer than you ever had for Rugby.

When certain events happen at the same time in our lives, it is very easy to just write them off as coincidences. Often it is only as we look back that we are able to see God's hand guiding us through these 'coincidences'.

7. The desires of your heart.

Psalm 37.4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Most people think this means that if you put God first, He will then give you whatever natural desires you happen to have. I interpret this verse in a slightly different way. I believe it means that if you concentrate on "delighting yourself in the Lord", He will then put His desires for you in your heart, so that they become your desires as well.

Probably the strongest motivation for doing something is that you desire to do it. So do you have a strong desire to be something, to do something, to go somewhere? It could be that God has given you these desires because that is His will for you.

8. Through Prophets.

A Prophet is essentially a Messenger. That is someone who hears from God, and takes His message to someone else. There are many Prophets in the Bible. Indeed much of the Old Testament itself is a recording of these ancient messages from God.

There are still Prophets in the Church today, and God may use one of them to bring you a message, perhaps to tell you to do something or to go somewhere. But if someone 'brings a message from God' to you, how do you know that it really is from God? The main thing to remember is that God uses Prophets to confirm what He has already spoken to you about. For example, suppose someone comes to you and says "God wants you to go to China." If your reaction is something like "What me? What a surprise! I have never thought of going to China." Then forget it, this message is not from God. However, if your reaction is more like "Oh yes, I have always been interested in China, I love the Chinese people, I always thought I would go there one day," then this message is almost certainly from God. It is God confirming what he has already spoken into your life, and perhaps enabling and encouraging you to take the next step in your preparation.
9. Through dreams and visions.

We all know what dreams are, and God can speak to us through them. Visions are often similar to the 'moving pictures' we get in dreams (or they could be just a still picture), but God gives them to you while you are awake. God spoke to many people in the Bible through dreams (e.g. Joseph and Daniel) or visions (e.g. Peter and Paul).

A few years ago, I went to a Sunday school weekend camp. The theme of the camp was 'Hearing from God.' On the Sunday afternoon the Camp Leader gave each child a notebook and pen, and told them to go out and be completely on their own for 30 minutes. They were all told to ask God to speak to them, and write down in their notebook what they thought He said. On their return, all but one or two of the thirty children claimed that God had indeed spoken to them. Many of the children said that they had seen visions, including many of Jesus on the cross.

There was one new boy to the Sunday school at that camp, and no-one knew very much about him. He shared a cabin with three other boys. On returning from their 30 minutes of isolation, these three boys all independently said that they thought God had to them "I will never leave you, I will never let you down, I will be with you always." Their cabin companion then said that that message must be for him. He revealed that his parents were in the process of divorcing, and he felt let down and was worried about what was going to happen to him in the future! Isn't God good! He doesn't speak to us so we can just say "Wow, God spoke to me." No, He speaks to us for our benefit, or for the help and encouragement of others.

How can I know if it is really God speaking to me?

There are two tests that we can apply to any message we think may be from God.

1. Does it agree with the Bible?

God never contradicts Himself. Therefore, if your message doesn't agree with God's revealed Word in the Bible, then it is definitely not from Him. For example, if you think God is telling you to tell a little lie because it will get you out of trouble, forget it! That is not from God, because the Bible says "Do not lie."

2. Do you have 'Peace' about the message?

Colossians 3.15 says "Let the peace of Christ rule (be the umpire) in your hearts." An umpire is the one who decides. And God has given us His Peace as our umpire, so that we may know if something is from Him or not. Thus, if you feel at peace about a message, supposedly from God, then it probably really is from Him. On the other hand, if you feel uneasy or anxious about the message, that is God removing His Peace to warn you that this is not from Him.

How can we hear more clearly from God?

If you love God, your greatest desire will to know Him better and communicate more fully with Him. How can we hear more clearly from God then? Fortunately, the answer is very simple - stay close to Him!

If I was talking in my normal voice and you were sitting close to me, you would hear me very clearly. But suppose I was still talking in the same way and you were at the other end of the room, or even outside the room. Would you hear me so clearly then? No. You may not hear me at all, and if you did, you would probably hear me incorrectly and get the message wrong.

It is exactly the same when hearing from God. If we stay close to Him, we will hear Him clearly. But if we are a long way from God, we are unlikely to hear Him. How then, can we stay close to God? There is no short cut to this. We need to ensure that we spend adequate time in His presence by reading and meditating on His Word, talking to him (prayer) and doing what we know He has already told us to do. Then we will be in the right position to hear from Him when He speaks to us.

Quiz - Hidden books of the Bible.

The names of sixteen books of the English Bible are hidden in the text of the following paragraph. Can you find all sixteen of them?

I once made a remark about the hidden books of the Bible. It was a lulu. Kept people looking so hard for facts and for others it was a revelation. Some were in a jam, especially since the names of the books were not capitalized. But the truth finally struck home to numbers of readers. To others, it was a real job. We want it to be a most fascinating few moments for you. Yes, there will be some really easy ones to spot. Others may require judges to help them. I will quickly admit it usually takes a minister to find one of them, and there will be loud lamentations when it is found. One little lady says she brews a cup of tea, so she can concentrate better. See how well you can compete. Relax now for there are really sixteen names of books of the Bible in this story.

How many did you find? This is a pretty tough quiz, so why not let your parents try it out? if you get more than half the books, you are doing well. I will publish the answers in next month's "Kidzone." However, if you don't want to wait till then, you can send me an email at , and I will email the answers back to you.

Laugh Break - A retirement funny.

A local priest was being honored at his retirement dinner after 25 years in the parish. A leading local politician and member of the congregation was chosen to make the presentation and to give a little speech at the dinner.

However, he was delayed so the priest decided to say his own few words while they waited:"I got my first impression of the parish from the first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place. The very first person who entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when questioned by the police, was able to lie his way out of it. He had also stolen money from his parents and his his employer, and taken illicit drugs. I was appalled."But as the days went on I learned that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full of good and loving people."

Just as the priest finished his talk, the politician arrived full of apologies for being late. He immediately began to make the presentation and said: "I'll never forget the first day our parish priest arrived. In fact, I had the honor of being the first person to go to him for confession.

"Moral: Never, never, NEVER-EVER be late.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Kidzone 28.

Story - Jimmy's amazing healing.

Jimmy woke up and groaned "Oh no" he said, "It was only a dream." In his dream Jimmy had been having a great time running and jumping about in the hills above Capernaum. Jimmy had groaned because this was something that he couldn't do now. When he was much younger there was nothing that Jimmy liked better than to explore the hills above his home town, but then, little by little, his whole body began to get stiffer and stiffer until it reached the point where he couldn't even climb out of his bed mat on his own. He was completely paralysed.

Bad as things were for Jimmy, they could have been worse, because he had four good friends who came to visit him every day, do his housework, and sometimes carry him out on his mat to go for a picnic. Suddenly there was a knock at the door.

"Come in" called Jimmy, and his four friends, Joe, Matt, Andy and Pete entered his house.

"You look rather glum" said Joe. "Is anything wrong?"

Jimmy told his friends about the dream he had just had. "That is something that I will never be able to do again" he concluded.

"We believe you will" declared Matt. "We believe that God will heal you, and you will then be able to do all the running and jumping you like."

Jimmy replied, "I do believe God does heal people, but if He was going to heal me, I am sure He would have done it a long time ago."

"No, you don't understand" said Andy "Jesus, who people say is the Christ, sent from God, is here in Capernaum. In fact he is having a meeting in a house just down the road. We believe that if we take you to Jesus, he will heal you."

"I am not so sure of that" replied Jimmy.

"Just trust us" said Pete.

And so Jimmy's four friends carried the paralysed man, on his mat, down the road to the house where Jesus was. But when they got there Jimmy groaned "I knew this was no good, you will never be able to get me anywhere near Jesus with all this crowd." Jimmy had a point. Jesus was so popular, that the whole house was crammed full of people. Those who couldn't get in were trying to peer through the windows or push their way in through the door.

"We're not giving up now" said Joe. "I have a plan."

Jimmy lay back on his mat and watched in amazement as his friends carried him round to the back of the house, climbed up the stairs onto the roof and began to pull up the roof tiles.

"What on earth will the owner of this house think" thought Jimmy, as the hole in the roof got larger and larger. "We will all get in big trouble."

Soon the hole was large enough, and the four men lowered Jimmy, still on his mat, down through the hole, right to where Jesus was teaching the crowd.

"Oh no" thought Jimmy. "It is me that will get in trouble for that hole, because I am down here and my friends are still on the roof." But suddenly Jimmy cheered up. Jesus was looking straight at him, and was smiling. He didn't seem to mind about the hole. Jimmy thought "I think I am going to be healed after all. Jesus will probably heal me and tell me to get up and walk."

But Jesus looked at Jimmy and said, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Jimmy groaned. "What have my sins got to do with anything. Doesn't Jesus realise that I am here because I need to be healed?" But Jesus doesn't make mistakes. He knew the paralysed man needed to be healed, but he saw an even greater need - to have his sins forgiven and get right with God.

Suddenly there was a distraction. Some of the religious leaders in the crowd became angry with Jesus, thinking to themselves "Only God can forgive sins. Jesus is making himself equal with God by telling this man that his sins are forgiven."

But Jesus knew what they were thinking. He turned to them and said "What is easier for me to say 'Your sins are forgiven' or 'Take up your mat and walk'? But I have said this that you may know that I have authority on earth to forgive sins." Wow, there Jesus went again, claiming equality with God.

Jesus turned back to the paralytic and said "Take up your mat and walk." Jimmy felt strength seep into his whole body. He began to move his arms and legs. He sat up, then stood up. He picked up his mat and walked out - to the thunderous applause and cries of amazement from the crowd.

Note. You can read this story in your Bibles. It is found in Mark, chapter 2 verses 1 to 12.


When the four friends lowered the paralytic through the hole in the roof, the Bible says "When Jesus saw their faith, he said "Son your sins are forgiven" and then later on "Take up your mat and walk."

What does the Bible mean by saying 'their' faith? That's right. Jesus saw the faith of the paralytic's four friends. The man was forgiven and healed because of his friends' faith. We can bring our friends to Jesus today - through prayer - and ask Him to meet their needs, if we have a determined, confident faith in Jesus, that He will do what He has promised to do.

What does the Bible mean by saying Jesus 'saw' their faith? How can you see faith? Surely faith is something inside us. Isn't It what we believe? Yes, it certainly is what we believe, but if our faith is genuine, our words and actions will reflect what we believe. Jesus saw what those men did. He saw the great efforts they had gone to get their friend to him. And that is the sort of determined, stop at nothing, faith that Jesus rewards. If we really believe Jesus will meet our needs or the needs of our friends or relatives, then we will be like those four men and our words and actions will match up to what we believe.

Illusion - All wrongdoing is serious.

Many people tend to categorise sin (wrongdoing) into big sins (e.g. murder) and little sins (e.g. a lie). Here is an illustrations to demonstrate that in God's sight all sin is serious.

Hold in one hand a crumpled piece of paper, and in the other a small but heavy object (e.g. a battery). Tell your friends that the paper represents what many people think of as "little" sins like lying and swearing, and that the heavy object represents what many think of as "big" sins like murder and robbery. State that you are going to drop both objects to the floor at the same time. Askyour friends which object they think will reach the floor first? Most will say the heavy object.

Drop both objects. They will reach the floor at the same time. (You may wish to repeat the exercise). State that sin is like that to God. The lighter or smaller sins are just as serious to Him as the weightier ones, for all wrongdoing is sin (see 1 John 5 v. 17).

Your questions answered - Do all religions lead to God?

Some people think that if a person is sincere in following their religion it will eventually lead them to God - no matter which religion they are actually following. Thus they may be Christian, Jew, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, or something else. You can imagine God at the top of a mountain with many paths leading up to him. Although the paths start at different points, they all eventually lead to God.

Contrast this idea, however, with what Jesus said. He said "I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father, except by me. (John 14 v. 6). Note that Jesus said "I am the way" He didn't say "I am a way" He said "I am the way." Thus it is abundantly clear that Jesus claimed to be the only way to God.

What it comes down to is: Who are you going to believe? Jesus, the Son of God, or mere humans who don't know everything and often make mistakes.

Laugh break - A Children funny.

"Teacher," announced little Joey, "there's somethin' I can't figger out."

"What's that Joey?" asked the Sunday school teacher.

"Well accordin' to the Bible, the Children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, right?"


"An' the Children of Israel beat up the Philistines, right?"

"Er--right.""An' the Children of Israel built the Temple, right?"

"Again you're right."

"An' the Children of Israel fought the 'gyptians, an' the Children of Israel fought the Romans, an' the Children of Israel wuz always doin' somethin' important, right?"

"All that is right, too," agreed the teacher. "So what's your question?"

"What I wanna know is this," demanded Joey. "What wuz all the grown-ups doin'?"

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kidzone 26.

Kidzone 26.

Story - Doing the right thing.

John Howieson worked as a labourer on a farm in a village just outside Edinburgh, Scotland. One day, whilst working on the farm, he notices a traveller walking past. As he watched, five men suddenly appeared and began attacking the traveller. Without hesitating, Howieson ran to the aid of the outnumbered traveller, and fought so hard that the five attackers all ran off. Howieson took the injured traveller back to his cottage and tended to his wounds.

After the traveller had recovered, he told John Howieson that he worked in Holyrood palace, Edinburgh where the king lived. He told his helper to be sure to visit him next time he was in Edinburgh, and that he would show him around the king's rooms, and even introduce him to the king, himself.

Sometime later John Howieson did visit the traveller at Holyrood palace, and was shown around the king's rooms. The traveller then said "Now we will go into the Great Hall, and I will introduce you to the king." Howieson was rather concerned and said "There will be many fine noblemem in the Great Hall. How will I know which one of them is the king?" The traveller replied "In the king's presence, everyone has to remove their hat. So you will know which man is the king, because he will be the only one wearing a hat."

As Howieson and the traveller entered the Great Hall, everyone removed their hats. Slowly Howieson realised that the only man still wearing a hat was his friend, the traveller! The traveller that Howieson has rescued was actually King James V of Scotland, who had the habit of travelling round his kingdom in disguise.

The king rewarded Howieson for his bravery, and bought him the farm on which he worked. But remember, Howieson came to the travellers help, not so that he would get a reward - he didn't know it was the king he was actually helping - but simply because it was the right thing to do.

The Bible tells us that we will be rewarded for the good things we do on earth, but that should not be our motive. Rather our motive should be the same as John Howieson, and we should do good and help others simply because that is the right thing to do.

Illusion - Hitting a target with a balloon.

Preparation of balloon guidance system (see Figure below).
Take a 6 or 7 meter piece of string, and thread one end through half a drinking straw. Blow up an ordinary round balloon, and tape it with sticky tape under the straw. When you let the balloon go, it will travel along the length of your string.

Challenge your friends to hit a target by letting go an inflated (but not tied) balloon. They start by aiming the balloon at the target (Ideally another stationary person), but once they let it go, it will probably change direction a number of times and completely miss it's target. Let them have a few attempts.

Now state that you will show them how to hit the target every time with a balloon. Bring out your guidance system. Have a volunteer stand behind your target whilst holding one end of the string. Attach your balloon to the straw near the other end of the string as described, let it go - and watch it hit it's target!

Note. Just as the balloon needed a guidance system to help it go the right way and reach it's target, we also need a guidance system to help us go the right way through life and not go off in wrong directions. God has in fact given us two guidance systems to help us. They are the Bible and the Holy Spirit. We need to let them guide us through life.

Your questions answered - Why did Adam and Eve sin against God?

The Bible tells us that in the beginning God made a perfect world, and that His finest creations were people. The first people (Adam and Eve) were made in God's own image or likeness (See Genesis 1 v. 26).

God could easily have made Adam and Eve like robots, so that they were programmed to obey him. But He wanted someone much better than that. He wanted people that would obey and love Him, but because they wanted to. Not because they had to. Thus, God gave people free will - the ability to choose. Thus Adam and Eve could choose to love and obey God, or they could choose not to love or obey Him.

Well, we all know what happened. Adam and Eve made the wrong choice - they disobeyed and rejected their Creator. But when people make bad choices, there is always a consequence, a price to be paid. Probably you have made some bad choices. Perhaps you chose to disobey your mum or dad, for example. And then found that there were consequences for it. Maybe you were punished!

There was a terrible consequence for Adam and Eve's bad choice. God placed a curse on the earth, and the whole world became "bad".

We still see the results of this today all around us. BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS. God still loved His creation and had a plan to make things "good' again. He sent His Son to die on the cross. Now, if we put our trust in Jesus, we are forgiven all our wrongdoing and bad choices. Not only that, Jesus is able to come into our lives and make us clean and new on the inside. Now, although we can still choose to make bad choices, we are much less likely to do so as our desire now is to please God, rather than ourselves.

The Letter of Reference.

"To Whom It May Concern:

"Bob Smith, my assistant programmer, can always be found

hard at work in his cubicle. Bob works independently, without

wasting company time talking to colleagues. Bob never

thinks twice about assisting fellow employees, and he always

finishes given assignments on time. Often he takes extended

measures to complete his work, sometimes skipping coffee

breaks. Bob is a dedicated individual who has absolutely no

vanity, in spite of his high accomplishments and profound

knowledge in his field. I firmly believe that Bob can be

classed as a high-caliber employee, the type which cannot be

dispensed with. Consequently, I duly recommend that Bob be

promoted to executive management, and a proposal will be

executed as soon as possible."

Delivered a short time later:

"That idiot was standing over my shoulder while I wrote the letter sent to you earlier today. Kindly re-read only every other line."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kidzone 25

Story - Jimmy's big day out.

This is a story from the Bible. We don't know all the details, but I imagine it may have happened something like this.

Jimmy was really excited. His mum had finally agreed to let him go on the picnic. But this wasn't going to be any ordinary picnic. Jimmy was convinced that this would be the best picnic ever. Why? Because the man everyone was talking about, the man who was going round from town to town performing miracles and healing the sick, was coming to have a meeting in a large field near Jimmy's own village. And everyone that Jimmy knew was going to be there. Perhaps Jimmy would even see a miracle.

Jimmy got up very early on the morning of the great meeting, had his breakfast, and set off for the field carrying his picnic lunch that his mum had prepared for him. But when Jimmy got to the field, he groaned. "Oh no" he thought "I won't be able to see anything." Even though it was still only about 7 a.m. thousands of people had already gathered to see this famous man, and Jimmy thought that being so small he would not have a good view of what was happening.

Jimmy's size, however, turned out to be to his advantage. Being small and agile, Jimmy managed to weave his way through the large good-natured crowd until he got all the way to the front - and sat down right at the feet of Jesus!

Jimmy listened intently as Jesus began to teach the people about the Kingdom of God, about how he, Jesus, had been sent by God to show people how much God loved them and about he was going to give up his life so that anyone could be forgiven and become God's forever friend. Jimmy didn't understand all that Jesus was saying at the time, but there was something in the way he said it that kept everyone spellbound.

After a while, Jesus asked for any sick people to come to him. Jimmy watched in amazement as Jesus healed them all - the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the lepers. the paralysed - - - - -. Suddenly Jimmy noticed something. It was beginning to get dark. He had been at the field all day long, and he had been so engrossed in what Jesus was saying and doing, that he had even forgotten to eat his picnic lunch!

Then Jimmy noticed that two of Jesus' disciples were talking loudly to each other.. Andrew said to Philip "Phil. What on earth are we going to do?" Philip replied "I have no idea Andy. Jesus has asked us to feed all these thousands of people, but we haven't any food." "I know" Andrew replied "But how can we tell Jesus that we can't do what he asked?" "Wait a minute" said Philip. "I have an idea. Why don't we ask all these people if they have any food that they are willing to share?"

Just then Jimmy remembered his uneaten picnic lunch. Rushing up to Andrew and Philip, he said "You can share my lunch if you wish." looking in the picnic basket, Andrew replied "That's not very much. But at least it's a start. Now, let's go and ask all the other people if they have any food." But nobody else had. They either did not bring any food with them, or if they had, they had eaten it all earlier in the day.

Disappointedly Andrew said "Come on. Let's show this boy's lunch to Jesus. At least Jesus will see that we have tried to get some food." Approaching Jesus, Andrew said "We have asked everyone if they have any food to share, but this boy is the only one who has. It's not very much. It is only two fish and five small loaves." Looking into the picnic basket, Jesus replied "That's enough." Jimmy was stunned. What did Jesus mean "That's enough." His lunch was hardly enough for himself, let alone all those thousands of people.

Jimmy stood and watched in silence as Jesus got his disciples to get the people to sit down in groups of about fifty. Then to Jimmy's astonishment, Jesus took one of his little fish, gave thanks to God for it and broke it in half. But to everyone's amazement, the two halves of the fish were each as large as the original fish! Then Jesus took one of the halves, broke it again - and the two new pieces were still as large as the original fish. Jesus kept repeating the process, and soon there was a large pile of fish. Jesus did the same with the second fish, and then with each of the five loaves.

There was a stunned silence as everyone watched the amazing miracle happening right in front of them. But then Jesus told his disciples to start giving out the food. And the Bible says that everyone had enough to eat. In fact when the whole event was over and the disciples went round collecting up all the scraps of fish and bread, the ended up with twelve basket's full!

My, that was a day that Jimmy would never forget. Wait until he got home and told his mum all that he had seen and heard. All that Jesus had taught them about the Kingdom of God, and all those amazing healings. But the best thing of all was that miracle at the end when Jesus had taken two fish and five loaves and multiplied them into enough food to feed thousands of hungry people. But the very, very best thing of all was that it was his fish and loaves that Jesus had used for the miracle!


The Bible tells us that God does not Change. Hebrews 13 v. 8 says that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." The way that God works on the earth today is the same way that He worked two thousand years ago when he was here in bodily form. God uses people to bless other people and meet their needs. In the same way that He used that boy's picnic lunch to feed all those people, He uses whatever we are prepared to give him to bless others - if we give it willingly, just like the boy in the story.

You may only have a small amount of money, but if you give it willingly to God, for example put it into the church collection or give it to another good cause, He is able to take it and make even your small amount go a long, long way.

What about your time? Suppose you decide that instead of playing or watching T.V. one evening, you will spend some of your time helping Mum with the housework, helping Dad in the garden, taking a friend's dog for a walk, or doing some shopping for an elderly neighbour - then God is able to use your time to bless many people.

How about your talents? Suppose, for example, you find that you are good at playing the piano. If you say "I am not going to play the piano for my own enjoyment, or to entertain my friends, or even to earn myself lots of money. I am going to give my talent back to God, and let him direct me as to when and where I use my talent - He will be able to bless lots of people through it.

So, you don't have to be old to be used by God.
You don't have to be clever to be used by God
You don't have to be rich to be used by God.
All you have to be is like that boy in our story - WILLING. Willing to give to God whatever you have. If you are, then there is no limit to what God can do through you.

What is the very best thing we can give to God? Better than our money, better than our time, better than our talents? That's right. Our love, or in other words Ourselves. The best thing anyone can do is come before God and sincerely say "God, I give you all of myself. Not just my money, time and talents, but all of me. Whatever you want me to do, I will do it. Wherever you want me to go, I will go." If that is your attitude, there is no limit to how God can use you to help establish His Kingdom on earth - and there is nothing more wonderful than being used in that.

Your questions answered - Did God make cavemen?

Some people believe that long ago there were ape-men, and then the first humans were dumb cavemen. This is not true. There never were any ape-men. And the first people weren't dumb either. They were very clever.

The Bible says that a man named Jabel was the first of those who live in tents and look after livestock - cattle, horses, etc. His brother Jubal invented the harp and the flute. It takes a lot of intelligence to do that, as well as to play them.

Another man, Tubalcain, invented all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. This meant he knew how to extract copper, tin and iron from their ores.

All of this culture, such as farming, making music, and using tools, is proof that the very first people on earth were not ape-men, and not dumb cavemen either. Civilization existed from the very first.

Later on, after God scattered the people from the tower of Babel (see Genesis, chapter 11), some groups lost their abilities and degenerated to become simple cave dwellers, but others continued to live civilised lives, using their various skills.

Illusion - Floating a cork on water.

Fill a glass three quarters full with water. Produce a cork and ask your friends to try to float it on the water, without it drifting to the side of the glass. They will find this impossible to do, as the cork will keep moving away from the centre towards the side of the glass. Now, tell your friends that you will show them how this can be done. Fill the glass to overflowing with water. Place the cork in the centre, and it will remain there, floating in the centre of the glass.


Reason #1:A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah."The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?"The little girl replied, "Then you ask him."

Reason #2:A Kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's work. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.The girl replied, "I'm drawing God."The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like."Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, "They will in a minute."

Reason #3:A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to honor thy Father and thy Mother, she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?"Without missing a beat one little boy (the oldest of a family) answered, "Thou shall not kill."

Reason #4:One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, "Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?"Her mother replied, "Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white."The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then said, "Momma, how come ALL of grandma's hairs are white?"

Reason #5:The children had all been photographed, and the teacher was trying to persuade them each to buy a copy of the group picture: "Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer--she's a lawyer,' or 'That's Michael--he's a doctor.'"A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's the teacher--she's dead."

Reason #6:A teacher was giving a lesson on the circulation of the blood. Trying to make the matter clearer, she said, "Now, class, if I stood on my head, the blood, as you know, would run into it, and I would turn red in the face.""Yes," the class said."Then why is it that while I am standing upright in the ordinary position the blood doesn't run into my feet?"A little fellow shouted, "Cause your feet ain't empty."

Reason #7:The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray: Take only ONE. God is watching.Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A child had written a note, "Take all you want. God's watching the apples."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kidzone 24.

Story - Leo the lion.

Leo the lion didn't have to work very hard to catch his dinner. After all he was "the king of the jungle" and much faster and stronger than any of the other animals around. Yes, life was good and easy for Leo. If fact he spent most of his time just lazing in the sunshine. But things were about to change.

One day Leo was snoozing after his mid-day meal, when he felt something being thrown over him. Lazily opening one eye, Leo saw what appeared to be pieces of string knotted together covering him. "Huh" thought Leo, "I'll soon get rid of this string." Leo began to push the string away with his paw, but once he pulled his paw back, the string came back over him. Leo decided that he had better use two paws, then three, then all four. But the harder he tried, the more he became caught up in the knotted string. Eventually he became completely entangled in the net. He had been captured.

What a 'come down' for the 'king of the jungle'. Leo had lost his freedom, and was now confined to living in a den. Things could have been worse though. At least Leo had some other lions for company, and his human captors fed him regularly. But it was not the same as having his freedom, and being able to roam wherever he wished.

Then things got worse. The food supply ceased. After a few days, all the lions were desperately hungry, and even began to think about eating each other. But then, suddenly, the door to the den was opened, and there was thrown in the largest meal Leo had ever seen - a fully grown man! Leo thought "I am going to get my share of that man before all the other lions eat him up." He moved swiftly towards his meal and began to open his huge jaws ready to take a bite. But, disaster, something was terribly wrong, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't open his jaws. It was as if someone had stuck them together with super glue. Leo tried prising his jaws open with his jaws, but they were still shut tight. "Oh no" thought Leo, "By the time I get my jaws open, there will be nothing left, all the other lions will have eaten the man." But then he noticed something strange. All the other lions were like himself. They were also rolling around the floor trying to prise open their mouths!

Some hours later, Leo and the other lions were resting on the floor, exhausted from their failed efforts to open their jaws. And the man was sitting in the centre of them, calmly watching. Suddenly, the door to the den opened, a face appeared, and a voice called out "Daniel, are you still alive? Did your God manage to rescue you from the lions?" The man replied "Yes He did. He sent an Angel to bind up the mouths of the lions, so that they would not harm me."

Orders were quickly given for Daniel to be lifted out of the lion's den. "Oh no, thought Leo, there goes my dinner." But then, good news. The door to the den was opened again, and Daniel's accusers were thrown in. And this time Leo and the other lions were able to open their jaws!

"I am sure that you have heard that story before. Daniel was thrown into the lion's den because he refused to stop praying to God, even though the king had ordered him to do so. God wants us be like Daniel, and continue to do the right things - even if that makes us unpopular with some people, and even if it puts us in danger. Remember, just like He did with Daniel, God can protect you.

Story - Processionary Caterpillars.

In South America there are a type of caterpillar called processionary caterpillars. They are so called because they always seem to be marching in procession - all following each other in single file. Once a man came upon such a procession and played a little trick on them. Using his fingers, he manoeuvred the caterpillars so that they formed a complete circle. Now, instead of walking in a straight line, the 'first' caterpillar was now following the 'last' one. The man watched as the caterpillars went round and round, each following the one in front for seven hours!

If you could have spoken to one of those caterpillars and asked it why it was doing such a stupid thing, going round and round, following the one in front, it would probably have said "I know it is a silly thing to do, but I don't want to be different. I just want to be the same as all the other caterpillars. If I broke rank, and went for a nibble at that juicy leaf over there, all the others would notice and think me different. I never want to be different. I just want to be the same as all the others."

Unfortunately a lot of people are like those processionary caterpillars. They don't want to appear different from whatever group they are in - even if that group is doing something stupid or wrong. They just don't dare to be like Daniel and stand up for what they know is right. But God didn't make us all the same, He made us as individuals and wants us to act as such, and always make the right choices, not based on what 'the majority' are doing, but rather on what is the right thing to do - just like Daniel did.

Let me ask you, who are you going to be like? Processionary caterpillars (the same, but silly) or Daniel (an individual, but doing right)?

Your questions answered - Can I be a Christian, even if my parents aren't?

The answer is "YES". You need to understand what a Christian really is. If you ask most people what a Christian is, they will probably reply something like "A person who goes to church", or, "A person who prays a lot and reads the Bible", or, "A person who does lots of good deeds and is always kind to others". All these things are good, but none of them make a person a Christian. Rather, these are some of the things that Christians do - because they already are Christians! Real Christians do these things because they can't help themselves. They are "natural" to them because Jesus has changed them on the insides, and given them a God-given desire to do these things, which is simply an outward expression of their new love for both God and other people.

Of course non-Christians can also do some or all of the above things, but that doesn't make them Christians. Some people do these things to try and please God - because they don't understand that God's forgiveness and acceptance can never be earned, no matter how 'good' they are, or how hard they try. Others do these things to try and impress people, so that they will think well of them, or be good to them in return.

One of the best ways of understanding what a real Christian really is, is to consider the three words :- CHRIST IN PERSON. When you condense these words into one, you are left with CHRISTIAN.


In other words, a Christian is a person in whom Jesus Christ is living. And He can only live in you if you invite Him to do so asking Him to forgive your sins (wrongdoing) and to come and take charge of your life.

It is wonderful to have Christian parents, because they can help and encourage you in your new Christian life. But even if they are not, don't let that put you off living for Jesus, because ultimately we are each responsible to God for what we do with His gift of Jesus to us - either to accept or reject.

Why not pray and ask God to bring someone into your life who is able to teach you more about Himself?

Illusion - Blowing a coin into a dish.

Produce a small coin and a fairly shallow dish (e.g. a cereal bowel). Place the dish on a table or desk, and place the coin about 15 cm. away at the edge of the table. Challenge your friends to get the coin into the dish, without touching either of them. It is very unlikely that anyone will work out how to do it.
Now it is your turn to demonstrate how it can be done. Blow a short sharp breath just over the top of the coin. (Have a few practices beforehand). Your breath should lift up the coin, and deposit it in the dish. The secret is to ensure that you blow horizontally, just over the top of the coin. You can then give your friends a chance to see if they can also do it.
Note. It is best to use a fairly heavy dish (not plastic), otherwise your breath might also move it as well as the coin. Alternatively, you may have to hold the dish in place with your hand as you attempt to blow the coin into it.

Laugh break - Classic comments (all from children).

Teacher. "What do you have to be to go to heaven?"
Boy (aged 5). "Dead!"

"Jesus spoke in Aromatic."

"Mary and Joseph could not stay in the inn as it was Christmas, and it was full up."

"David fought the Philadelphian Giants."

"Noah's wife was Joan of Ark."

Teacher. "What did Jesus say to the girl He brought back to life?"
Child. "Wake up! Your dinner's ready!"

Teacher. "What did Jesus promise to make his twelve disciples into?"
Child. "Vicious old men." (Fishers of men!).

Teacher. "Who was the most sorry when the Prodigal son returned home?"
Child. "The fatted calf."

Teacher. "Does anyone know what a Prophet is?"
Child. "Yes. If I buy some lollies at $1, and sell them for $2, that will be a $1 prophet."

Teacher. "Which Commandment concerns how you should treat your parents?"
Child. "Honour your father and mother."
Teacher. "Good. Now which Commandment concerns how you should treat your brothers and sisters?"
Child. " Do not kill."

Teacher. "Give me another name for God?"
Child. "Harold."
Teacher. "Harold?"
Child. "Yes, the Lord's Prayer starts off ' Our Father, which art in heaven, Harold be thy name.' "

Teacher. "Give me another name for God?"
Child. "I think it is Peter. Christians are always saying ' Praise Peter (be to) God.' "

Teacher. "What did the wise men bring to baby Jesus?"
Child. "Gold, Frankenstein and mud."

Teacher. "If Moses were alive today, what would he be famous for?"
Child. "For being the oldest man in the world!"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Kidzone 23.

Story - "I give you me!"

A teacher wanted to teach his pupils the real meaning of "Christmas". He explained that Christmas was Jesus' birthday, and that as it was customary to give a gift to people on their birthday, he asked all the children to bring in a gift for Jesus on that special day. He explained that he would like the children to all think hard about their gift and that it should be a one that would be worthy to give to Jesus, the Son of God and Saviour of the world.

The teacher placed a large box in the centre of the classroom and, as the children arrived - many of them obviously carrying a gift - , asked them to come out one at a time and place their gift for Jesus in the empty box.

Matthew was the first to come forward, and the other children gasped to see him pushing his bicycle towards the box. Everyone knew how much Matthew loved his bike. He had been saving up for it for months, and after he finally had enough to buy it just a few weeks ago, he was seen riding it for hour after hour. Surely Matthew wasn't going to give his precious bike away? But no. Matthew lifted his bike into the box, clasped his hands together and prayed "Jesus, I give you my bike."

Next to come forward was Amanda. Again their was a gasp from the other children as they saw her carrying her favourite Barbie doll. She was rarely seen without her precious Barbie doll. But she placed it in the box and prayed "Jesus, I give you my Barbie doll."

Next up was Big Joe. Everyone knew how much Joe liked chocolate. But there he was, carrying, a large box of chocolates to give to Jesus. How hard that must have been for Joe to give his chocolates away. And so it went on. Each child had obviously thought long and hard about their gift and gave up something that they were bound to miss.

Finally, there was only Poor Jimmy left. He was know as 'Poor Jimmy' because he obviously was very poor. He never seemed to wear any nice clothes, or have very much in his lunch box. In fact, sometimes, he didn't bring any lunch with him at all. It was said that his father had died, and that his mother didn't have much money to look after Jimmy and his brothers and sisters. What sort of gift would Jimmy give to Jesus?

"It's your turn now, Jimmy" said the teacher. "Bring your gift to Jesus." Slowly, Jimmy got up and started walking towards the box. A few children giggled and whispered "He's not got anything. Look. There is nothing in his hands. Jimmy is carrying nothing to give to Jesus." Eventually Jimmy arrived at the box. He hesitated for a moment, and then jumped right into the box and sat down. "Jimmy, What on earth are you doing" asked the teacher. But Jimmy just put his hands together and prayed "Jesus, I give you me! I give all of my life to you."

Question. Which of those children gave the best gift to Jesus? That's right, Jimmy did.

Jesus told us that when we are giving to others, we are actually giving to Him. Some people give money to Jesus (Perhaps when they give to the church offering, or to a charity), some give up some of their time or talents (abilities) to help others. And that is good. But what Jesus wants each one of us to give to him is all of our Lives, just like Jimmy did. He gave his life for us, and he wants us to give All of our lives back to him. He will never be satisfied with a little bit of our money, time, talents, or anything else we can offer him. No, He wants All of us.

What does this mean in practice? It means living for Jesus. It means putting Him first all the time. It means that our attitude should be not, "What is best for me, or what do I want to do?" but rather "What is best for Jesus. What does He want me to do?" That is giving yourself to Jesus.

Prayer. "Jesus, I give all of my life to you. I may not have a lot, but what I do have, I give it all to you. Help me to use my money, time, talents and everything else I have in a way that pleases you. Amen."

Illusion - Cutting a banana in half without touching it.

Jesus sometimes healed people from a distance - just by speaking a word of faith. In this illustration you appear to cut a banana in half just by speaking and / or by making a 'chopping' action with your hand towards it.


Take a banana, choose a point near the centre, and push a small sewing needle through the peel and most of the way through the soft centre. With the needle still in place, move it in an upwards and then a downwards direction a few times. This action will cause the centre to be cut in half, but leave the peel largely unaffected. On removing the needle, only a small prick should be visible in the otherwise 'normal' banana.


Show your friends your 'normal' (but prepared) banana. Select a volunteer and have them hold up the banana so that everyone can see it. Stand a few metres away from your volunteer and 'command' the banana to be cut in half. At the same time you could make a chopping motion with your hand in the direction of the banana. Finally, get your volunteer to carefully peel the banana. The banana centre should be clearly seen to have been cut into two halves.

Your questions answered - Where did Cain get his wife from?

The most common question that people ask Bible teachers is certainly "Who made God?" (For the answer - see Kidzone No.1). The next most common question is the one asked here.

Adam and Eve were the very first two people. Although the Bible only tells us the names of three of their children (Cain, Abel and Seth), it does tell us that they had other sons and daughters. As Adam lived until he was 930 years, there were probably lots of them.

At the beginning of human history, Adam's sons, including Cain, must have married their own sisters. This is because Adam and Eve were the parents of everyone. After that, their children's sons could have married their sisters or their girl cousins, and had children of their own. Very soon there would have been thousands of people living on the earth.

It is against the law for brothers to marry sisters today, why could they do it back then?

Let's first consider the world today. If brothers marry their sisters, then their children may be deformed or sick or handicapped in some way. This is because in our genes, we all have some 'copying mistakes' that have built up in our family over many generations. Different families have different copying mistakes. When people with different gene mistakes marry, the good genes from each partner tend to override the other partner's bad genes, so that deformities do not appear in their children. But if people with the same gene mistakes marry, then their children are liable to inherit two sets of bad genes, and so they can be handicapped in some way.

This was not a problem with Adam and Eve's children, because God created Adam and Eve perfect, with no genetic mistakes! So there was no problem with brothers marrying sisters.

But then, when sin entered the world, God withdrew some of His power that stopped things falling apart. His perfect creation began to degenerate. There was death and decay, and many genetic mistakes began to develop in all living things. This was minimal at the time of Cain, so intermarriage was okay, but by the time of Moses, about 2,500 years later, genetic mistakes had built up to the point where it was necessary for God to forbid brothers from marrying their own sisters. That is why it was okay at the beginning, but not okay today to marry your close relative.

Laugh break - Walking by faith.

One day a 6 year old girl was sitting in a classroom. The teacher was going to explain evolution to the children. The teacher asked a little boy: Tommy do you see the tree outside?
TOMMY: Yes.TEACHER: Tommy, do you see the grass outside?
TEACHER: Go outside and look up and see if you can see the sky.
TOMMY: Okay. (He returned a few minutes later) Yes, I saw the sky.
TEACHER: Did you see God up there?
TEACHER: That's my point. We can't see God because he isn't there. Possibly he just doesn't exist.A little girl spoke up and wanted to ask the boy some questions. The teacher agreed and the little girl asked the boy: Tommy, do you see the tree outside?
LITTLE GIRL: Tommy do you see the grass outside?
TOMMY: Yessssss!
LITTLE GIRL: Did you see the sky?
TOMMY: Yessssss!
LITTLE GIRL: Tommy, do you see the teacher?
LITTLE GIRL: Do you see her brain?
LITTLE GIRL: Then according to what we were taught today in school, she possibly may not even have one!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kidzone 22.

Symbols of Christmas.

At Christmas time we come across many symbols that remind us of the true message of the season. Here are some of them.

1. The Christmas tree.

This reminds us of our sin. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, and Jesus died on a tree to take away our sins by redeeming us from the curse of the law.

Evergreen. The Christmas tree is evergreen, which reminds us of the everlasting life Christ offers all who come to him.

The point. This points heavenwards, reminding us that Jesus came from heaven to be our Saviour.

The Angel. Reminds us that it was an Angel that brought the first Christmas message to some Shepherds, "Fear not, for I bring good tidings of great joy, for unto you is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord." (Luke 2.10,11).

The star. Reminds us that God sent a special star to guide the wise men to the baby Jesus.

The lights. Jesus came to give light to those in darkness, and guide us on our way to heaven.

The decorations. Remind us of the beauty of everlasting life obtained through faith in Jesus.

Depository for gifts. (Usually underneath the tree). Reminds us of the first and best Christmas gift - Jesus Christ, God's gift to the world. We are also reminded that for any gift to benefit us, we need to receive it. If we don't personally receive Jesus into our lives then, as far as we are concerned, He might as well never have come to earth.

2. Bells.

Bells are traditionally rung to announce good news. And there is no better news than God sending His Son to earth on that first Christmas day. They are also rung to announce new beginnings, This reminds us of our beginning a new life in Christ.

3. Holly.

The points of the holly leaf remind us that our salvation was obtained through pain, and the red berries remind us of Christ's blood shed for us.

4. Santa Claus.

This reminds us of God's generosity to us. St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) was a third century Bishop who lived in Turkey. He was a generous man who gave gifts to people anonymously - hence his habit of dropping presents down people's chimneys!

5. The wreath.

The Christmas wreath's never ending ring is a reminder of God's eternal love for us. A wreath on a door is a sign of welcome, inviting all to enter in. This reminds us of Christ's invitation for all to come to Him. The middle of the wreath is a bare and empty space - a reminder of what life would be without Christ's love and grace.

6. Christmas candy.

The red and white striped Christmas candy is a reminder of the stripes Jesus took for us. The red is a symbol for His blood, and the white for the spotless New Life He gives us.

Your questions answered - What proof is there that God exists?

Many of our prominent political leaders today say that they do not believe in God, citing "lack of proof" of God's existence as the reason for their unbelief. I have tried to put myself "in the shoes" of these people and asked myself that if I genuinely was seeking proof of God's existence, what proof could God give me that would convince me that He is real? I came up with the following four proofs that God could give to convince me of His existence.

1. Creation. If God is real, I would ask Him to create something, out of nothing, that I could see with my own eyes and touch with my own hands.

2. Communication. I would ask God to communicate with me, perhaps by sending someone, or even writing to me, to tell me things like what He is like, why He made me, what His plans are for me, and if there is there is life after death.

3, Revelation. I would ask God to reveal Himself to us by visiting planet Earth in person. When He was here, I would ask Him to prove His power by doing things we humans cannot do, and that defy the natural laws of the universe. Things like multiplying matter, defying gravity, commanding nature (such as storms) to obey Him, commanding the sick to be healed and the dead to come back to life.

4. Finally, if God were real, I would ask Him if He really loved us humans, and to do something to demonstrate how much He loves us.

I cannot really think of any other proofs that God could give to convince us that He is real. But surely those I have listed above are more than enough. If God did all that, surely nobody could still doubt His existence. The proof would be irrefutable! But then I remembered - GOD HAS ALREADY GIVEN US THOSE FOUR PROOFS!

1. We only have to look around us to see the vast number of wonderful things that have been created (If there is no Creator, they must have created themselves, beginning with nothing. And to believe this requires an unreasonable faith!). - "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19.1.

2. God has sent us many messengers to tell us about Himself - they were usually called Prophets. And He has written us a letter that tells s all me need to know to live our lives the right way. It is called the Bible. - "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways." Hebrews 1.1. "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3. 16,17.

3. Two thousand years ago, God did visit this planet in person. We called Him "Jesus". And while He was with us, He did stop or suspend the natural physical laws that govern the universe. We called these mighty acts "miracles". "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples." John 20.30.

4. God did demonstrate how much He loves us by allowing Himself to be crucified on a wooden cross. "God demonstrates his love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5.8.

I must conclude that God has given us many proofs of His existence. Enough, I would suggest, to convince any person genuinely seeking the truth. Yet many still deny His existence. No, the problem is not with God, it is not a lack of proof. Rather, the problem is with people. Many refuse to believe. To do so would mean that they would have to admit that they were responsible to a Higher Authority, and our selfish nature naturally rebels against that. Jesus put it like this "You refuse to come to me that you may have life (John 5. 40). Or, as the old proverb says. "There are none so blind as those who do not want to see."

So let us continue to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will listen, and pray to God to open the eyes of the (spiritually) blind.

Laugh break - Cats and dogs.

WHAT IS A CAT?(According to a man)

Cats do what they want.They rarely listen to you.They are totally unpredictable.When you want to play, they want to be alone.When you want to be alone, they want to play.They expect you to cater to their every whim.They are moody.They leave hair everywhere.They drive you nuts and cost an arm and a leg.

CONCLUSION: They are tiny women in fur coats.

WHAT IS A DOG?(According to a woman)

Dogs lie around all day, sprawled on the most comfortable piece of furniture in the house.They can hear a package of food opening half a block away, but they don't hear you when you are in the same room.They growl when they are not happy.When you want to play, they want to play.When you want to be alone, they want to play.They are great at begging.They will love you forever if you rub their tummies.They leave their toys everywhere.They do disgusting things with their mouths and then try to give you a kiss.

CONCLUSION: They are little men in fur coats.

Illusion - Changing the lengths of three ropes.

Here is a great illusion to try out on your friends. It will require a little practice, but will be well worth the effort. Refer to the diagram to see how to operate this rope illusion.
Cut three pieces of string or (better) rope to the following lengths:-

1.23 cm. (Red in diagram)
2. 37 cm. (Blue)
3. 55 cm. (Black)

For clarity, the ropes are different colours in the diagram, but for your actual illusion will be the same colour.

Hold the ropes in your left hand as per Fig. A., with the BACK of your hand facing your spectators. Say "I am going to change the lengths of these three ropes."

Manipulate your ropes as shown in Figs. B,C,D and E. Remember to keep the back of your hand towards the spectators. Essentially, what you are doing is looping the long rope (3) through the short rope (1). With practice, this should only take a few seconds.

Fig. B. Bring the bottom of Rope 3 across the other ropes.
Fig. C. Bring the bottom of Rope 1 up to the top, and hold it next to your thumb.
Fig. D. Bring the bottom of Ropes 2 and 3 up to the top, and hold on the right of your hand.
Fig. E. Grasp the three ends on your right (i.e. the two ends of Rope 3, and what was the bottom of Rope 2), pull horizontally, then release.

The three ropes - from your perspective - should now be as in Fig. E. From the spectator's perspective, they will appear to now be three ropes of equal length.

For added effect, you could then adjust the lengths of the ropes by pulling on each end of Rope 3 to make it shorter or longer.

Conclude by restoring the "original" ropes, either by pulling them apart, or by screwing them up and throwing them in the air.