Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Bible.


I have been sharing teaching ideas with children's ministers through my monthly Newsletters and on my 'Blog' sites since 2002. In these 'Special Blogs', I have grouped together some of my ideas into some of the major Biblical teaching areas. In this way it is hoped that readers will be able to go directly to a particular subject to view some ideas - object lessons, teaching tips, stories etc., or even to prepare a complete children's lesson (or lessons) on that subject.

Maurice Sweetsur
Email :

 Contents - All 'Special Blogs'.

1. Creation.
2. Christmas.
3. Easter.
4. The Bible.
5. Prayer.
6. Hearing from God.
7. The Ten Commandments.
8. John 3.16.
9. Teaching Memory verses.
10. Gospel Illusions.
11. Object Lessons (using natural laws).
12. Lessons involving balloons.
13. Lessons involving fire.

Other Blog sites from Maurice Sweetsur :-

Children's ministry -
All teaching material (All Newsletters) -
Object lessons / Illusions -
Bible lessons and Teaching tips -
Stories, skits and puppet plays -
Bible answers for kids -
Kidzone (Children's site) -
Kidzone - Archives. -
To find out more about my ministry to children, go to my main 'Blog' -

Introduction (The Bible).

Teaching Bible stories as real history.

In a survey, children were asked who they believed, their Sunday school teacher, or their primary school teacher. Eighty percent chose their primary school teacher. Why? They said that their primary school teacher taught them facts, whereas their Sunday school teacher only told them stories. The children think this because that is how the Bible is taught in many churches; as ethereal stories, disconnected from the real world. Nice stories perhaps, with a moral message - but not describing things that really happened in space and time.

A youth minister at an Australian church is quoted as saying :-

"I used to beat my head against a wall wondering why we lost all our young people at about age 16. In the last few years I've realised that age 16 is when they teach evolution in depth in science. Chatting with some of the students I have also discovered that some of the teachers actually identify the Christian students and make a special point of explaining the differences and difficulties in reconciling Genesis and the "facts" of evolution. It's no wonder we lost them. I come near to tears just thinking about it."

Is it any coincidence that church attendance in the western world has declined dramatically since the teaching of evolution in the schools became widespread, increasingly so since the 1960's?

When teaching a Bible story, I always emphasize to the children that, as it comes from the Bible, it is a true story - it really happened! And for older children, I give them an idea of when and where it happened. I put it in context, showing how it fits into God's overall plan of redemption. Some teachers say "Evolution is not an issue. The children believe my stories." It may be true that evolution is not an issue for most primary aged children, but it will become one when they are older. As Bible teachers we need to prepare them for this future conflict. At the very least, they need to go away from our classes knowing that "teacher" believed that the Bible story he/she told really happened.

When we consider "the beginnings", what it all eventually comes down to is this : "Who are we going to believe?" God - who was there in the beginning, knows everything, is never wrong and cannot lie - or people - who weren't there in the beginning, only know a tiny fraction of all there is to be known, are often wrong, and sometimes lie?

"Scripture answers three basic questions to which the evolutionary theory has no answer whatsoever. These questions concern the origin of matter, the origin of life and the origin of man as a religious being." R.B. Kuiper.

A recent comment:

I discovered you blog today while searching for help in teaching Bible history to 13 year olds. We are in the middle of teaching about the Kings and Prophets, which have so many wonderful stories. But the kids hear "history" and "Bible" and stop listening. When I read your blog, I knew immediately what I needed to do to re-focus my teaching. These are not just stories and ideas - the Bible is a real, living gift, God-breathed. If I want them to pay attention and take away more than dates and names, I have to give them every reason to want to know it and believe it.

I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to share you experience, knowledge, and gentle spirit in a format that was available to me when I needed it!
Deborah Wickiser
Illinois, USA


Teaching tip - Teaching Bible stories in context.
Story - Jo Jo and the umbrella.
Object Lesson - Obedience brings success.
Object Lesson - Straight and crooked roads.
Object Lesson - Drawing a picture whilst blindfold.
Object Lesson - God's Guidance.
Object Lesson - The flaming Bible.
Teaching tip - The progressive revelation of God.
Fundamental Beliefs - Did God write the Bible?

T.T. - Teaching Bible stories in context.

I find that many children know a lot of Bible stories, but they have little idea of when they actually happened, or how they fit into God's plan of redemption. Therefore, when teaching Bible stories, I always like to put them into context and so give the children an understanding about where each particular story (or event) fits into God's overall plan for this world. In fact, with each new class I take, I always like to start by giving them an overview of the Bible - God's plan of redemption. There are a number of ways this can be done, and six of them are shared below. I will fill in a few details for the first three, but just give the bare outlines for the others, leaving it to you to fill in as much of the detail as you think appropriate for your class.

1. God's Time Line.

Draw out a time line for the children to view as you talk about it. Begin at Creation, and continue to the present. (You can consult a Study Bible to find the dates of some of the more important events). Include as many events as you wish, but the time line shown below is one I have used. Later in the year when I am telling a Bible story (especially one from the Old Testament), I will refer back to my time line to show where it fits in. (I often intend to go through the year telling the Bible stories in chronological order, but Curriculum considerations - and the fact that in the New Zealand school year, Easter always comes before Christmas! - usually prevent it).

Idea. Get a book of Children's Bible stories that has pictures of all the major characters. Decide which of these you wish to include in your time line. Tape the pages together in such a way that when you now 'flick' through the book you will reveal only the desired characters, and in the right order. You can then use this as a visual aid as you go down the time line.


The Bible is the most amazing, wonderful book in the world because it was written by God, Himself. In contrast, every other book has been written by ordinary human beings. The Bible is important to us for four main reasons.

1. It is a book about God. There have been thousands of books written about God, and many of them are very good. But no-one knows God like He knows Himself! So, if you want to know what God is really like, read the Bible.

2. It is a book about ourselves. No-one knows you better than God does, because He made you. So, if you want to know what you are really like, especially on the inside, read the Bible.

3. It is an instruction book for life. God knows what is best for you, what is right and what is wrong. If you let the Bible guide you as you journey through life, it will keep you going the right way and stop you getting into trouble.

4. It tells us how we can become God's forever friend, through faith in His son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And that is more important than anything else in the whole world.

As well as all the above, the Bible is the most exciting, amazing book that has ever been written. It is all about God's plan for the world, and how He used ordinary men, women and children, who were simply prepared to be obedient to him, to do amazing things, perform miracles and overcome much stronger enemies and great obstacles. But what makes the Bible even more exciting is that all the stories in it are true. With most other books, the stories are fiction - they were made up from the imaginations of the authors. But the Bible stories really happened.

Over the year we will be looking some of these amazing stories in more detail, because God caused each one to be written down, so that we could learn something from them. (Some of the stories, I won't have time to tell you. But there is no reason why you cannot read them for yourselves). Firstly though, we are going to have a look at God's time line. The Bible is a record of the history of the world. The Bible records all the major events that have ever happened, or indeed will ever happen, and this time line will give you an idea of what order the events took place in, and how long ago they happened.

Time Line.

Creation. (The Bible indicates about 4,000 BC). God made a perfect world.

Adam and Eve. The first people disobeyed God, and brought sin into the world.

Noah. (2,400 BC). The earth had become so corrupt, that God destroyed it with a flood.

Babel. The origin of different peoples and languages.

Abraham. (1,900 BC). God had a two part plan to make things perfect again. Part 1 was to choose a special people (The Israelites) to be an example of how to live the right way towards God and to others, and also to prepare the way for the coming of His son. He began with Abraham. The rest of the Old Testament is a history of the Israelites. When they were obedient to God, He helped them, did some amazing things through them, and caused them to prosper. When they were disobedient, He allowed things to go wrong.

Joseph. Abraham's Grandson. God caused Joseph to become Prime minister of Egypt, so when there was a famine in Israel, he was able to invite his family (about seventy of them) down to live near him where there was plenty of food.

Moses. (1,400 BC). About four hundred years later the Israelites, now numbering about two million, were still in Egypt, but living as slaves. God used Moses to rescue them from the Egyptians and lead them back towards their own (promised) land. He also used Moses to give us the Ten Commandments. These are God's rules for life which, if we obey them, will prevent us from hurting ourselves or others.

Joshua. He actually led the Israelites back to the promised land. He is best known for his part in the battle of Jericho.

Gideon. Another great hero who God used to defeat a great army with just a few men.

Samson. The strong man who lost his strength when he was disobedient and had his hair cut off. But he was still able to defeat God's enemies when his hair began to grow longer again.

Samuel. Who God spoke to in an audible voice while he was still only a young boy.

David. (1,000 BC). Who God used to defeat the giant, Goliath.

Elijah. Who was able to call down fire from Heaven to burn up his sacrifice, and defeat the worshippers of false gods.

Jonah. His disobedience led to him being swallowed by a large fish.

Captivity. (700 BC). Because of their disobedience, God allowed many of the Israelites to be taken captive to Babylon. It seemed as though they were in great danger of becoming extinct, but God still had a plan for them.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to worship the king's golden idol. But God rescued them.

Daniel. He was thrown into a lion's den because he refused to stop praying to the one true God. But God rescued him.

The entire history of the Israelites was a whole series of ups and downs as they were in turn obedient, then disobedient to God. But God remained committed to them throughout the entire 1,900 year period. Eventually, the time was right for God to put Part 2 of his plan into operation.

Jesus. (Year 0). God came to earth Himself as a man, to defeat sin, death and evil. (You could mention some of the miracles that Jesus did).

Crucifixion. (30 AD). This means we can be forgiven and become God's forever friends.

Resurrection. (30 AD) This means God's power is now available to change us and to enable us to live lives of power and love that are pleasing to Him.

The Disciples. (30 AD to Present). Beginning with people like Peter and Paul, 'Believers' began to share the Good News about Jesus, and continue His work on earth. This continues today.
The return of Jesus. Sometime in the future, when He comes back to complete the job of making everything perfect again.

2. God's Plan for Man.

Get each child to cut out a circular piece of light coloured cardboard, about the size of a small dinner plate. Tell the children that they are to imagine that they are the Creator, and that they have to create their own world by drawing on their cardboard whatever they want to have in their world - eg. flowers, birds, animals, people etc.

Allow about 10 min. for this activity, then get all the children to sit down, holding their creations. Get the children to close their eyes, and to imagine their creations coming alive. Stress that each creation is wonderful, with birds singing, animals running and playing together, people laughing, playing and enjoying each other etc.

Next, the children are to imagine that something has gone horribly wrong with their perfect creations. " Oh no! The people have started arguing and hitting each other, weeds have started growing in their beautiful gardens, the animals have started hunting, killing and eating each other. Now, even the people are killing each other."

Explain that because of our deliberate rejection of our Creator, this is exactly what happened with His perfect creation, our world. The question is what could God do about it?

State that the children each have to decide what to do with their now spoiled creations. Give them four choices (it is a good idea to have these displayed in some way):-

1. Destroy their world.
2. Send someone to teach the people of their world how to be good.
3. Go yourself to show the people how to love each other.
4. Give them the power to change and become good.

Get the children to indicate which of the four options they would choose (In my experience the majority usually choose option 1!).

Explain that God still loved His creation despite what had happened, and therefore He rejected option 1, and did not destroy the world. What God did choose were options 2, 3, and 4. He sent people (they were called Prophets) to teach us to be good, but usually we wouldn't listen to them. Then God came Himself, in the form of a man - we knew him as Jesus. He showed us how much God loves us and how we should love each other, but people still killed him. Now we come to option 4. The wonderful news is that Jesus rose from the dead, and that because of his death and resurrection we can be forgiven our wrongdoing and receive God's power to change us and make us good.

3. God's Diary.

"This is my Diary. I am sure some of you keep diaries as well. They are very useful for writing in future appointments we have, or events we are looking forward to. And when they have passed, our diary is a permanent reminder to us about them.

Some events in our lives, like birthdays, are of course more important to us than others, and it is the same with God. I think that if God kept a diary, He would mark in it some events that are more important to him than all the others. In fact, I think God would mark in his diary the following six events as being the most important both to him and to us.

Idea. Make up a simple, but large, diary to show the children as you are talking about the 'six major events'. Staple three pieces of plain paper together, and write on the pages, Creation, God became a man, Jesus died for us, Jesus rose again, Jesus returned to heaven and Jesus returns to earth.

1. Creation. Once absolutely nothing existed, apart from God - no matter (solid things), no space, no time. Then God spoke and brought the Universe into existence by His power. God created a beautiful and perfect earth for us to live on and enjoy. He then created people, in His own likeness, to be his special friends. But the very first people disobeyed God, and that brought sin into the world and spoiled it all. But God still loved His creation, and had a plan to make it good again.

2. God became a man. Because of his great love for us, God became one of us. We called him Jesus. He limited Himself to a human body with a human nature. Thus, Jesus was just like us. For example, he could only be in one place at a time, and he got tired, hungry, thirsty, happy, sad, etc. - just like we do.

3. He died for us. Jesus didn't die of old age, a disease, or an accident. No, he was crucified by wicked men. But the amazing thing was, he allowed it to happen to himself. In fact he died in place of us, so we could be forgiven our sins and become God's forever friends.

4. He rose again. After three days, Jesus rose from the dead, proving that he had beaten sin, sickness, evil and death. Thus Jesus is not like the leaders of other religions. Followers of other religions could probably take you to a tomb somewhere and say "Our leader is in there. He lived, and we believe he was a good man, but then he died and his body is rotting away in that grave." Christians, on the other hand, could take you to a tomb in Jerusalem and say "Our leader died, and his body was placed in that grave over there. But He is not there now. The tomb is empty, because Jesus came alive again!" This means that Jesus is alive today, and he is able to give us all the power we need to change and become the people God wants us to be.

5. He returned to heaven. Six weeks after He rose from the grave, Jesus returned to heaven. But he hasn't gone there to live a life of comfort. No, through his death and resurrection, Jesus won the earth back for God, and He now rules over it through all his followers. The Bible tells us that Jesus is also preparing homes for us to inhabit in heaven one day.

6. Jesus will return to earth again. This, of course, is the only one of these six major events that has not yet happened. But it is something that is certain to happen. God is not like us. We may write a future event in our diaries, and then something may happen to cause it to get cancelled. But when God says something is going to happen, nothing can stop it taking place.

When Jesus returns, it will be to judge the earth. If you have put your trust in Jesus, your judgement is past - Jesus has paid the penalty for your sins, and you are forgiven. If, however, you refuse to let Jesus forgive you, you will have to pay the penalty for your own sins.

Conclusion. Just like our diaries have a final date in them (usually December 31st.), so has God's diary. One day, God will declare, "Time up." That is why it is so important to ensure that you put your trust in Jesus before that 'final date', and to tell as many people that you can about 'God's Diary'.

4. The Wordless book.

This is usually used by teachers in sharing about Easter. However, by simply adding a white page at the beginning, you can use it to describe the whole history of mankind.Thus :-

White. God made a perfect earth.
Black. Sin entered the world.
Red. Jesus shed his blood for us.
White. We are forgiven and cleansed.
Green. We need to grow to become more like Jesus.
Gold. The colour of heaven - our future home.

In place of a Wordless book, I use a Colour change bag (available from ) for a greater effect. It looks like an ordinary cloth bag, but as you keep turning it inside out it changes to all the colours of a wordless book. If you wish to start your story at 'Creation', begin with 'white', and then you will be able to reveal in turn the colours red, black, red, white, green and gold. For the extra 'red' (prior to the 'black'), I say something like "Sin entered the world and everything went wrong. Red is the colour for blood, and animals began to hunt, kill and eat each other. Even people began to kill each other. Things were so bad, it could only be described by the colour 'black' - - - - - ."

5. The Seven C's of History.

Answers in Genesis ( ) have produced a series of colourful children's worksheets called "The seven C's of History." Each sheet is full of information and activities, and could be used as the basis for a whole lesson. Alternatively, you could use the "Seven C's" as an overview of the history of the world. Thus :-

1. Creation.
2. Corruption (The Fall of man).
3. Catastrophe (Noah's flood).
4. Confusion (the Tower of Babel).
5. Christ.
6. Cross.
7. Consummation (the new heavens and new Earth).

6. Four words to describe the history of the world.

1. Creation.
2. Deception.
3. Substitution.
4. Restoration.

Story - Jo Jo and the Umbrella.


Here is one of my favourite stories. This story has a number of similarities to one of the 'Jungle Doctor' stories by Paul White, so that may be where it originated. I first heard it told by a Christian teacher about 25 years ago. I adopted it, and have adapted it over the years. Here is my present version. If you enjoy acting, here is an opportunity to use your talents!

I have used this story hundreds of times to teach children about the importance of the Bible, and the only way that it can benefit them.


You will need an umbrella, a 'funny' hat, a rubber inflatable hammer (or something similar) and a well-used Bible (the more battered looking, the better).


Jo Jo was a little boy who lived in a tiny African village, deep in the jungle. Jo Jo had never been to the 'big city', so he had never seen things like motor cars, bicycles, electric lights, brick buildings, televisions etc. But his dad had. Sometimes Jo Jo's dad had to go to 'the big city' on business. Jo Jo used to ask his dad "Please take me with you." {Single out one boy in particular when addressing 'dad'}. But his dad had always replied "You are far too young to go on such a long and dangerous journey." But Jo Jo was persistent, and eventually his dad said "Alright Jo Jo, next time I go to the 'big city', you can come with me."

Jo Jo was so excited, he went and told all his friends. They replied "Oh Jo Jo, you are really the lucky one. Out of all the children in this village, you will be the very first to go to the 'big city'. When you are there Jo Jo, will you bring us back something from the 'big city', just to prove that you really went there?" Jo Jo answered "Yes, I will bring something back with me from the 'big city', to prove I really went there.

The great day arrived. Jo Jo and his dad got ready for their journey. Of course, there were no roads in this little village, so they went down to the river, got in a dug out canoe, and began to paddle down the river towards the 'big city'. {As you tell this part of the story, act it out as you are doing so}. It was a long, long way, but eventually Jo Jo and his dad arrived in the 'big city'. Jo Jo stood and looked around in amazement at all the wonderful things that he had never seen before - like motor cars, buses, tall buildings made of brick, street lights and televisions.

Then Jo Jo remembered the promise he had made to his Friends. "Dad, I promised to take my friends back something from the 'big city' to prove I really came here." His dad replied "There is a shop here, why don't you go in and buy something." So Jo Jo went into the shop, explained who he was and what he wanted, and the shopkeeper - - - - - {At this point, you need to act out the part of both the shopkeeper and Jo Jo. I do this by using different voices, putting a funny hat on to denote the shopkeeper,
standing alternatively to the left or right as I deliver my lines, and running between the two positions}. - - - - went to the back of the shop, got something out {Produce a rolled up umbrella from a bag} and said.
"There you are Jo Jo, the very thing for you."
"What is it?"
"That's an umbrella."
"An umbrella, but what does it do?"
"Well, when it rains, you get out your umbrella, and it stops you from getting wet. It keeps you dry in the rain."
"Wow! That sounds amazing. I have never heard of anything like that. My friends will be really impressed. I will take it."

So Jo Jo paid over his money, bought his umbrella, went back to his dad, and got ready for the journey home. As they paddled down the river, they had to beat off a few crocodiles. {Lightly tap some of the children (crocodiles) with the umbrella as you "paddle' around the room}. When Jo Jo got home, all his friends were waiting for him.
"Hey, Jo Jo. Did you really go to the big city?"
"Yes, it was amazing. There were things there called motor cars that could travel faster than tigers. And big things that people got inside of and moved about in called buses, that were bigger than elephants. And big, tall buildings made of brick, that were even taller than giraffes!"
"That sounds fantastic Jo Jo. But did you remember to bring us back something from the big city to prove that you really went there?"
"Yes, here it is. {Hold up the umbrella}
"What is that?"
"That's an umbrella."
"An umbrella. What does it do?"
"Well, when it rains, I will get out my umbrella, and it will keep me dry in the rain."
"That sounds amazing Jo Jo. Alright, next time it rains, we will come round to your house, and you can show us how it works."

A few days later, it began to rain. So all Jo Jo's friends came out, and knocked on his door (knock, knock).
"Hey Jo Jo, it's raining. Come on out and bring that magic umbrella with you. Show us how it keeps you dry in the rain."
So Jo Jo picked up his umbrella and walked to the centre of the village square. All Jo Jo's friends were watching. But Jo Jo got his umbrella and went - - - - - {Hold out the closed umbrella straight out in front of you, then to the left, then to the right}. Of course, the rain still fell on Jo Jo, and all his friends laughed.
"Ha Ha Jo Jo, you are as wet as the rest of us. That umbrella's useless, I would go and get your money back if I were you."

Jo Jo was so sad and disappointed, he went back to his dad.
"Dad. I made a fool of myself in front of all my friends. I got soaking wet, and they all laughed at me. You will have to take me back to the big city to get my money back for this rotten umbrella."
"Alright Jo Jo, next time I go to the big city, you can come with me."

So a few weeks later, Jo Jo and his dad got ready for their journey. This time, because they had had so many problems with crocodiles in the river, they came prepared. {Take out your rubber hammer and gently hit some of the 'crocodiles' on your journey}. This time Jo Jo didn't bother looking at all the sights, he rushed straight into the shop.
"Give me my money back for this rotten umbrella. I made a fool of myself in front of all my friends. I got soaking wet, and they all laughed at me."
"But Jo Jo, did you hold the umbrella above your head?"
"Well, no. I didn't actually hold it above my head."
"Oh yes Jo Jo, for the umbrella to work, you need to hold it above your head."
"Oh, I didn't realise that. Alright, I will keep it."

So Jo Jo picked up his umbrella, went back to his dad, down to the river, into the dugout canoe, and paddled down the river - beating off crocodiles as they did. {Hit your 'dad' with the hammer}.
"Oh no. I just did something terrible. I just hit my dad. Sorry, Dad. I thought you were a crocodile!"

All Jo Jo's friends were waiting for him.
"Hey Jo Jo, did you get your money back for that rotten umbrella?"
"No, but I know how it works now."
"Alright Jo Jo, next time it rains, we will come round to your house, and you can show us how it keeps you dry in the rain."

A few days later, it began to rain. So all Jo Jo's friends came out, and knocked on his door (knock, knock).
"Hey Jo Jo, it's raining again. Come on out and bring that magic umbrella with you. Show us how it keeps you dry in the rain."
So Jo Jo picked up his umbrella and walked to the centre of the village square. All Jo Jo's friends were watching. Jo Jo held his umbrella (still unopened) horizontally above his head. Then he held it vertically {swing it around a little}. Of course, it still rained on Jo Jo, and all his friends laughed again.
"Jo Jo, you are still as wet as the rest of us, and you never got your money back for that rotten umbrella."

Jo Jo was so sad and disappointed, he went back to his dad.
"Dad. I made a fool of myself in front of all my friends again. I got soaking wet, and they all laughed at me. You will have to take me back to the big city to get my money back for this rotten umbrella. What's that! You won't take me back to the big city? Oh dad! Dad won't take me back to the big city."
{Single out one girl in particular} "Mum. You tell dad to take me back to the big city. He will listen to you. Dad's always do what mum's tell them don't they!"

So it was agreed. A few weeks later Jo Jo and his dad got ready for their journey - beating off crocodiles as they went. {By this time you will probably have lots of volunteer 'crocodiles'}. Jo Jo rushed into the shop.
"Give me my money back for this rotten umbrella. I made a fool of myself in front of all my friends again. I got soaking wet, and they all laughed at me."
"But Jo Jo, did you hold the umbrella above your head like I told you?"
"Yes I did. But I still got soaking wet. Come on, give me my money back."
"But Jo Jo, did you open the umbrella up?"
" - - - - - Open it up. What do you mean 'open it up'"
"Here Jo Jo, let me show you." {Open up the umbrella as you describe the actions}. "When it rains, you get out your umbrella, press this little switch here, give it a shake, and open up the umbrella like this. Then, you hold it above your head - and the rain falls on the umbrella, instead of falling on you!"
"Oh, yes. Now I understand. Now I see how it works. I will keep it"

So Jo Jo fastened up his umbrella, went back to his dad, and got ready for the journey home. This time, because they had had so many problems with crocodiles on the river, they decided to walk back through the jungle {Begin to walk around}. There are no crocodiles in the jungle! - - - - - However, there were a few lions and tigers that they had to beat off!

All Jo Jo's friends were waiting for him.
"Hey Jo Jo, did you get your money back for that rotten umbrella?"
"No, but I know how it works now."
"Oh you do do you Jo Jo? Alright next time it rains, we will come round to your house, and you can show us how it keeps you dry in the rain - Ha Ha."

The very next day, it poured with rain. Despite that all Jo Jo's friends came out, and knocked on his door (knock, knock).
"Hey Jo Jo, in case you hadn't noticed, it's raining. Come on out and bring that magic umbrella with you. Show us how it keeps you dry in the rain. Ha Ha."
So Jo Jo picked up his umbrella and walked to the centre of the village square. All Jo Jo's friends were watching. But Jo Jo got his umbrella, pushed the little switch like he had been told, gave it a little shake, opened it up, and held it above his head. Of course, the rain fell on the umbrella instead of on Jo Jo. So Jo Jo looked around at all his friends and said
"Ha Ha. The joke's on you now, because I'm nice and dry under this umbrella, and all you are getting soaking wet!"


Jo Jo finally learned how to use his umbrella the right way. But until he did, it was absolutely useless to him. And the right way to use it was "to open it up." That story reminds me of something many people have got, but it is absolutely useless to them if they don't know the right way to use it. I wonder if anyone can guess what I am talking about? - - - - - I will give you a clue, it is a book. - - - - - That's right, the answer is the Bible. Many people have a Bible, but unless they know the right way to use it, they might as well not have it.

Can anyone tell me what makes the Bible special? What makes it different from every other book that has ever been written? - - - - - That's right as Christians we believe that God, the Creator Himself, wrote the Bible. That is why it is often called God's Word. Please don't misunderstand me, ordinary people wrote down the words that we read in the Bible. But God told them what to write. God is the Author.

The Bible is important to us for four main reasons:-

1. It is a book about God.

The Bible is a book that God has written about Himself. So if you want to know what God is really like - Go to the Bible, because nobody knows God better than God knows God!

2. It is a book about ourselves.

The Bible is a book that God has written about us. It is often likened to a mirror. If you want to know what you are like on the outside, you look in a mirror. But if you want to know what you are really like on the inside (what the Bible calls your heart or spirit) - Go to the Bible, because God created you and knows you better than anyone else.

3. It is an instruction book for life.

God knows what's good for you, and He knows what is bad. If you keep going to the Bible, and doing what it says, you won't go far wrong in life. But if you never look at the Bible, or ignore what is says, you are bound to make mistakes and go off in wrong directions through life.

4. It tells you how to become God's friend.

God created us to be His friends - so that He can enjoy us, and we can enjoy Him, both now and forever. And the Bible tells us how through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, we can all become God's friends.


What is the only way that the Bible will do you any good? Suppose you took it to school with you and just before doing a test, you take it out, tap it for luck and say "I will get top marks today, because I have my Bible with me." Would that do you any good? No, of course not. What then is the only way that the Bible will do you any good? - - - - - that's right, by reading it. So remember the story of Jo Jo and the umbrella. The only way it could do him any good was by opening it up. It is the same with the Bible. It is meant to be opened up and read.

This is my Bible {Produce a warn looking Bible, the more tattered the better}. You are probably thinking "Oh Mr, ________, your Bible is a disgrace. It is battered, warn and dirty." So it is. But that is how I like to see a Bible. When I see a scruffy Bible like this, I know that the owner has been using it in the right way. They have been taking it out, opening it up, and reading it. When I see a nice clean looking Bible, I think the owner has put it away somewhere like a bookcase and forgotten about it. It stays clean in the bookcase! But it doesn't do you any good there. It is God's love letter to you and, like any letter, is meant to be read.

After reading the Bible, we are meant to DO what it says. It is no good reading in the Bible where it says, for example, we should treat other people as we would like them to treat us, if you argue and fight with your brother or sister! No. We need to be obedient to what God says in the Bible. Then it will do us good!

O.L. - Obedience brings success.

This is a very popular object lesson that children love to try for themselves. I usually use it after telling the story of "Jo Jo".

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 complement any teaching on Obedience. I usually use it in connection with Ephesians 6 v. 1.

Example. " If you obey your, Parents, God has promised that you will be successful. If my volunteer here obeys me, he 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.

O.L. - Straight and crooked roads.

All you need for this illustration are a few sheets of newspaper.
Some newspapers are printed "with the grain", and some "against the grain." This means that if you hold a piece of newspaper vertically, and begin to tear strips from top to bottom, they will either come out very straight, or very ragged (despite your best efforts), depending on the way the grain is running.

Find two different newspapers which tear in opposite ways - this should be easy enough. You now have two sets of papers, which will look pretty much the same, but one tears straight, and one tears crooked. You are now ready to begin your lesson.

Proverbs 3.6. says "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
We are all on a path through life, either a straight path which leads to God, or a crooked path which does not. Choose about eight volunteers. Give one half the first set of newspaper sheets, and the other half the second. Ask them to tear the sheets into strips from top to bottom as straight as they can. One set of volunteers will end up with straight strips of paper, and the other half with a big mess!

You can then conclude with teaching on "straight" and "crooked" roads by explaining that people on 'straight' roads through life are those who allow God's Word, the Bible to direct them. People on 'crooked' roads either never read the Bible, or ignore what it says.

O.L. - Drawing a picture whilst blindfold.

This is a very popular object lesson which children always enjoy participating in.

It has been said that those people who choose to travel through life without reference to God's Word, the Bible are like people drawing a picture whilst blindfold - the picture of their lives will probably turn out to be a big messes, not the beautiful masterpieces that God want's to make of their lives.

Choose some children to come out and draw a picture on the board whilst blindfolded. I choose two at a time, blindfold them, stand them in front of the board, and place a marker in their hands. I get them to draw an object, e.g. house, car, boat, dog etc. as I instruct them. For example, with a house, I would say in turn :- Draw the basic house (a square), a door, a roof, downstairs windows, a chimney, upstairs windows, smoke coming out of the chimney, someone looking out of a window, a tree in the garden, some flowers, the sun. When completed, let the children see their pictures - usually hardly recognisable as houses!

Summary. God wants to make beautiful pictures of our lives. He has given us His Word, the Bible to help us make the right choices, and go the right ways in life. But if we ignore the Bible and go our own way through life, it is rather like trying to draw a picture whilst blindfold, and we will probably end up by making big messes of them, just like these pictures.

O.L. - God's guidance.

"We are all on a journey through life, and God has given us two things to help us - His Word, the Bible and the Holy Spirit. If, however, we try and travel through life on our own - without calling on God to Guide us - we will make mistakes, and go off in directions that are not part of God’s plan for us."

Produce an ordinary (round) balloon. Blow it up, but do not tie it. Choose a volunteer to be your target. Have him/her stand about 6 meters away. " This balloon represents a person trying to go through life on their own. Most people do want to go the right way. Their intentions are good. Therefore I am starting off by pointing the balloon at the target, but let's see what will happen when I let go!" It will almost certainly miss the target. Repeat a few times. You may be able to obtain "Rocket" balloons. These are long, and buzz as they travel through the air. Children love them, but they will still miss their targets!

"What this balloon needs is a Guidance system - something to help it hit its target. I have one right here. Produce a 6 or 7 meter piece of string, and thread one end through a drinking straw. Have a second volunteer stand just behind the target, holding the other end. Blow up your balloon and tape it under the straw - see diagram. Let the balloon go, and watch it hit its target.

"That balloon kept right on target, because it had something to guide it. In the same way, we will stay on target in our journey through life - If we let the Bible and the Holy Spirit guide us."

O.L. - The flaming Bible.

This has been a very popular illustration for many years, but never seems to lose its appeal to each new generation of children. The concept is very simple. Basically it is a large cigarette lighter, made to look like a Bible from the outside. You open the "Bible", stroke the sparking mechanism - and up come the flames! (produced from lighter fluid that you have poured into a pad inside the "Bible" beforehand). These Flaming Bibles can be obtained from some Children's ministry sites, or 'plain' flaming books from many 'Magic' stores. You then simply need to paste the word 'Bible' onto the front cover.

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

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

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

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

2. As an introduction to a memory verse.

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

T.T. - The progressive revelation of God.

Many children (and some adults) find it hard to reconcile the "God of the Old Testament" who often appears rather harsh and judgemental, with the "God of love" as revealed in the New Testament.

It may help to remember that, in contrast to other religions, Christianity is a revelation religion. We can only know God's nature through what He chooses to reveal to us about Himself. And God reveals Himself to His people in a progressive way. Consider your own experience. At some point in your life, God must have revealed enough of Himself to you for you to see your need of Jesus as Saviour. But thereafter, your understanding of God's nature would continue to increase. If God revealed all of Himself to us in one go, I am sure it would have been too much for our minds and spirits to handle!

In much the same way God's revelation of Himself to his "special people", the Israelites, as recorded in the Bible, is progressive. Here is an outline of the way in which, over about 2,000 years, God revealed Himself to the Israelites (and ultimately to all mankind). Hence their understanding of His nature gradually increased:-

1900 B.C. Abraham - God is a tribal God (each tribe had their own 'god').
1400 B.C. Moses - God is a Covenant (or Agreement) keeping God (He desires to enter into covenants with His people).
860 B.C. Elijah - There is only one God.
760 B.C. Amos - God is Righteous. (He does not have favourites).
740 B.C. Hosea - God is righteous, yet Merciful.
740 B.C. Isaiah - God is Holy, worthy of worship, and Concerned for all mankind.
620 B.C. Jeremiah - God is a Personal God, desiring to have a personal relationship with us.
30 A.D. Jesus - The Supreme revelation to mankind - "God is love."

Fundamental Beliefs - Did God write the Bible?

The Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God (see for example 2 Timothy 3.16 and 2 Peter 1.21). Evangelical Christians believe that to be true. But how would you explain to an enquiring person why you believe that God is indeed the author of the Bible? Here are seven reasons that you could give.

1. The Bible does not contradict any scientific fact.

The history of science is one of discarded and abandoned theories as new light is constantly thrown on the workings of the Universe. This is in sharp contrast with the unchanging scientific statements made in the Bible.

It has been said that the Bible is not a scientific textbook. While it was not written from that perspective, it claims to be the TRUTH - and all its scientific statements have proved to be correct! Here are a few examples.

In ancient times, the earth was generally thought to be supported by huge pillars. But this conflicts with what Job said of his Creator 4,000 years ago: "He spreads out the northern skies over empty spaces; he suspends the earth over nothing. " (Job 26.7).

At the time of Colombus, navigators were concerned that by travelling too far they might fall of the edge of the world. Scientific observation had shown that the earth was flat - water finds its own level, so the sea must be flat! However, some 2,700 years ago Isaiah said of his Creator, "He sits enthroned above the circle (literally ball) of the earth." (Isaiah 40.22).

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus referred to a future event that would happen in a split second (the blinking of an eye). In the same passage (Luke 17) Jesus said that it would be day with people working in the field (verse 31) and night with people asleep in bed (verse 34). How was this possible? It used to be thought that when it was daytime, it was daytime all over the world. We now know, however, that when it is daytime at one longitude, it may be night at another - thus enabling us to understand Jesus' statement.

And so we could go on. The Bible has proved to be remarkably accurate in all of its scientific statements. The people that God used to write down these statements doubtless believed, along with their contemporaries, many unscientific notions. However, God ensured that no such untruths came to be included in His Word,

2. The fulfilled prophecies.

A prophecy is usually a prediction about a future event. Hundreds of prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled, exactly as foretold, often hundreds of years later.

Biblical prophecies are not vague and rambling such as those of Nostradamus and other supposed prophets. Bible prophecies deal with specific places, people and events. Their fulfilments can be verified by reference to subsequent history. For example Isaiah (chapter 53) foretold the death of Christ with minute accuracy more than 700 years before His crucifixion. In fact, over 300 Biblical prophecies about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus have been completely fulfilled.

Biblical prophecy can only be explained by divine inspiration. God, the Creator of time, is outside of time. He is the One who controls the future and, therefore, the only One who knows the future.

3. There are no contradictions in the Bible.

This is quite remarkable when you consider that the Bible is a collection of 66 books written by at least 40 different people over a period of about 1,600 years. You would normally expect such a collection of different books to have many contradictory statements, but the unity of the Bible is extraordinary for every book agrees with all the others, like some gigantic jig-saw.

Critics have claimed that the Bible does contradict itself in a few places. However, all such apparent contradictions can be satisfactorily explained by a close examination of the texts involved.

4. There are no proven errors in the Bible.

Because of its remarkable claims, no book has ever been scrutinised by its critics as closely as the Bible. Yet, despite this, there remain no proven errors in the Bible.

Much of the Bible concerns a record of the conflicts between the Israelites and neighbouring nations. For centuries there was no evidence for these wars outside of the Bible itself, and critics claimed they were a mixture of legend and invention. Today, however, 'myth' after 'myth' have proved to be true history. Archaeologists have discovered numerous cities beneath the sands of the Middle East, together with countless inscriptions, letters and other items all proving conclusively that the biblical accounts are an authentic record and that the characters referred to truly existed at the times stated.

5. The remarkable Mosaic Laws.

Our public sanitary laws date back less than 200 years. The Bible, however, contains a remarkably good sanitary code. Modern public health officers are concerned with public cleanliness, purity of water supplies, dispersal of sewage, clean food, education of the public, and control of infectious diseases. The Mosaic law covers all these aspects in Leviticus chapters 11 - 16.

When plagues such as the black death swept across Europe in the Middle ages, the Jews, in stark contrast to the other peoples, survived in large numbers. This was because of their healthy habits and high moral standards, as a consequence of their keeping the Mosaic laws. The Jews themselves did not know anything about germs or how diseases spread. Their motivation for keeping the laws was simply "The Lord said." And we know that it was essential for God's plan for the Jews to survive. Their survival and the subsequent formation of the state of Israel was a result of God's protection and the fulfilment of His promises as foretold in the Bible.

6. The Authority of Jesus.

Even a brief glance at the Gospels will convince anybody that Jesus Himself accepted the scriptures (what we now call the Old Testament) as directly from God. Jesus quoted from the scriptures frequently and always treated them as God's Word "which cannot be broken" (John 10.35).

As Jesus accepted the scriptures as God's Word, how can anyone who claims to follow Him not do likewise?

7. The life changing power of the Bible.

Amongst the countless thousands of books that have been written, the Bible is the only one that claims to be alive and have the power to change lives (see Proverbs 4. 20 - 22, Isaiah 55. 11, and Hebrews 4. 12). These amazing claims have been completely vindicated as down through the centuries countless multitudes have found them to be true for themselves. As people have READ, BELIEVED and OBEYED the Bible, their lives have been completely transformed.

The Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ are inextricably linked together as God's revelation to man of His Truth. God has given us the Bible not only that we may know what the truth is, but also that we might come to know Him who is Himself the Truth.

The above was extracted from a Booklet "The Bible. The work of man or the Word of God?" that I wrote a number of years ago. If you would like a free copy of the complete booklet and you live in Britain, I understand they are still available from New Life Centre, Prestwick, KA9 2PA, Scotland. If you live in New Zealand, please email me your postal address, and I will send one on to you.