T.T.57 - What do children
O.L. 77 - Making objects appear and
disappear with a thumb tip.
Craft 3 - Making a paper thumb
T.T. 58 - Developing good habits and
making good choices.
T.T. 59 - Understanding Biblical
T.T. 57 -
What do children believe?
The short answer to that is anything and
everything! One of the greatest benefits of teaching children is that they are
generally very open and responsive to whatever you tell them. However, this is
also one of the greatest difficulties. If children are open to you as their
Bible teacher, they will also be open to other people. I am becoming
increasingly aware that a child may gladly believe all they are taught about the
Bible, but at the same time also believe in such things as evolution,
reincarnation, magic, horoscopes, talking to the dead, ghosts, aliens
To put it simply, they usually lack
discernment. They don't seem to realise that you can't believe the Bible and all
the strange ideas that they are exposed to through family, friends or the
media. It is often said that we should always have an open mind. That is true,
but an open mind, without discernment, is likely to have all kinds of rubbish
thrown into it!
One story that I enjoy teaching children is about David
and Goliath (See my Newsletter 17 for some
teaching tips). In connection with this, I usually teach 1 Peter 5 v. 7 - "Throw
all your worries on him, because he cares for you." I explain that there are
many "giants" or worries that people have in their lives, e.g. another person
who is giving them a hard time, a bad habit, or a fear (e.g. of the dark,
nightmares, flying, dying, snakes, spiders, dogs etc.). I get the children to
write out the names of their giant(s) on a piece of paper. Then, as I lead them
in prayer, at the appropriate time, I get them to crumple up their papers
(giants) and throw them on Jesus - imagining Him to be standing at the front of
the class. I conclude by emphasising that because Jesus now has their giants,
they have them no more.
When the lesson is over, I pick up the papers
listing the ex-giants to see what they were as this often gives me an idea of
what the children believe in. As you can imagine, the list of giants for any one
class is usually long and varied. However I discovered that the most common
giant is a fear of dying - a somewhat surprising find, considering we are
talking about young children. Some giants are unusual (e.g. fear of being
abducted by aliens) or upsetting (fear of a hiding from my Father). However, the
most disturbing one I came across was written by an eight year old child who had
been receiving regular Bible teaching for at least two years. The child wrote
"My friend can tell the future, and he says that I will die before I am 25 years
old." I can hardly imagine what trauma the acceptance of that false belief must
have had upon that child.
Most of my readers will have the privilege of
teaching children mainly from Christian homes, where what you teach is
re-enforced at home and vice-versa. However many of us also teach children in
state primary schools. Our children come from a variety of backgrounds and are
often exposed to many strange ideas that contradict God's Word. The question
then is, how can we best counteract this?
The ultimate solution is for
them to get to know Jesus for themselves, for if they are truly "Born again"
they will receive the 'Spirit of truth' and should automatically be able to
recognise false ideas when they hear them. (See 1. Corinthians 2.14). However,
as we are not permitted to 'make appeals' in state schools, there are two other
things we can do:-
1. Encourage the children to always use their minds
and think for themselves. Teach the children not to accept any statement as
true, simply because someone says it is - even if that person is their Bible
teacher! Often, if we really examine a belief, the inconsistencies and
falsehoods soon become apparent.
2. Emphasise the importance of the
Bible. State that Christians believe the Bible is God's Word, and therefore what
the Bible says, God says. If a particular belief or idea clearly contradicts
what the Bible says, it should be rejected. Ultimately it comes down to who we
choose to believe. Do we believe God who was there at the beginning of time,
knows everything, is never wrong and cannot lie, or do we believe people who
were not there at the beginning, only know a tiny fraction of all there is to
know, are often wrong and sometimes lie?
77 - Making objects appear and disappear with a thumb
Probably nearly every person who
performs Gospel illusions has used a thumb tip. These are plastic thumbs that
are hollow on the inside, and are ideal for making small items (such as a small
coloured cloth) appear and disappear.
Basically, you conceal your fake
thumb in (say) your left hand, hold the cloth in your right hand, push it into
the fake thumb, insert your right thumb into the fake one, then open up both
hands to show that the cloth has "disappeared". If you keep both hands moving at
this stage, it is very difficult to for anyone to notice that your one of your
thumbs is actually fake. To make the cloth reappear, you simply reverse the
There are many ways in which you
could use a thumb tip to demonstrate a Christian truth. I usually use mine in
one of two ways. 1. To illustrate Creation (God
spoke and things were created out of nothing). 2. To illustrate Jesus coming
into our lives - Jesus (represented by the visible cloth) enters your life. Can
we see Him? No. (Both hands 'empty'). People notice a change in you for the
good. Reply "It's Jesus who is changing me." (Cloth visible again). Another use
could be in illustrating the resurrection.
Craft 3 - Making a paper thumb
Although plastic thumb tips will
last indefinitely, it is very easy to make paper ones that will be just as
effective for your illustration. These make ideal prizes for children, who will
love to try them out for themselves. As they are simple to make, I often get
children to make their own.
All you need is a piece of brown
paper, about 10 cm. wide and 6 cm. high. Fold the paper sideways, and stick
together with a strip of clear tape. Next, fold the top of the paper down and
stick with the tape. Your thump should now easily fit into your thumb tip. You
can adjust the size, depending on the size of your thumb or those of the
children. Remember, however, to leave enough space for the cloth at the top of
the thumb tip.
T.T. 58 - Developing good habits
and making good choices.
As parents or teachers it is
quite natural for us to encourage children to develop good habits and warn them
of the possible consequences of making wrong choices. In some cases "the wrong
choice" is obvious. However, in others, e.g. Halloween activities or
watching certain films or TV programmes, Christians disagree on what "the wrong
Rather than 'laying down the law' and often appearing to the
children to be spoil sports, a far better approach is, I believe, to concentrate
on teaching children to find out what God's will is for themselves. And of
course, if they do that, they will make the right choice.
Jesus is recorded as saying that "It
is better to give than to receive." (Acts 20 v. 35). It is better for two main
A. As we give willingly to others
(of our finances, time or talents) we receive immense satisfaction in knowing
that someone is being blessed through us.
B. As we give to others, we place
ourselves in a position for God to give back to us and transform us more and
more into the likeness of His Son.
My Newsletter 19 describes a number
of ways to guide children into making right choices, but here are two ways in
which we can challenge children to put what they have learned into
1. I give the children (or some of
them if I have a large class) a small gift, such as a balloon animal, and ask
them to give it to someone else. They can choose anyone as the recipient, as
long as it is not someone in the same class. The following week, I usually don't
even have to ask the children who they gave their gifts to, as they are very
eager to tell me. In fact, I have never known a child be disappointed that they
couldn't keep the gift for themselves!
2. I challenge the children to do
at least one good deed over the coming week. They can choose themselves what
they can do and who they can do it for. I stress, however, that it cannot be
some task that they normally perform, e.g. a regular chore at home. I find that
most children willingly rise to this challenge and, the following week, are
eager to tell me what they did.
59 - Understanding Biblical Miracles.
One thing that puzzles me is how some people say they
believe in God, but then go on to say that they don't believe in some of the
Biblical miracles because they are "impossible". As most of my readers will
know, I was an atheist for most of my life. However, when I did start believing
in God, it naturally followed that I believed in His miraculous acts. After all,
by definition, God can do anything.
To me, the most significant verse in the Bible is the
very first one "In the beginning God
created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1 v.1). You either believe that or
you don't. If you do believe it, it is easy to believe the rest of the Bible.
All the Biblical miracles have been criticised by
skeptics, but it appears to me that in most cases they haven't actually read the
Biblical texts for themselves. Rather, they have just heard an erroneous version
of the Bible story and criticised that.
When giving people a "reason for the hope we have
within us" , firstly it is important to know what the Bible actually says. By
knowing this, it will be much easier to refute critics. Secondly, we need a
clear understanding of how God usually works in performing His miraculous acts.
For His first miraculous act (Creation), God spoke, and the Universe came into
being. However, for nearly every recorded miraculous act since then, we note
that God uses material that is already present. Here are a few
Noah's flood. God could have chosen to create new water to achieve
this. But instead He almost certainly used existing water from the canopy that
He had put around the earth on Day 2 of the creation week, and water trapped
under the surface of the earth.
Crossing of the Red
Sea. God could have levitated the Israelites so that they
could walked across above the sea. Instead He used air to cause a wind to blow
the waters apart and produce a land bridge for the Israelites to cross over (See
Feeding the 5,000. Jesus could have created new fish and bread to feed
the crowd. Instead He chose to multiply existing fish and bread that was
willingly given to him.
Note. God still works in the same ways today. For example,
I believe He can heal people without the involvement of His creation, human or
otherwise. However, His usual method is to use the skill of people such as
Surgeons and Doctors, together with drugs or medicines made from existing
sources, all in combination with our body's inbuilt defence and repair
We will now look at three Biblical miracles more
1. The parting of the Red Sea.
Skeptics have scoffed at the idea of
a wind being strong enough to part a deep sea. But what does the Bible say
"Then Moses stretched out his hand
over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night
and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided."
According to this clear text, the means God used
to achieve his end (goal) of the Red Sea parting was a powerful air current flowing for many
hours. It’s well known in physics and chemistry that one can often trade
intensity of an effect (heat, electrical current, and in this case air
flow) for time. Because of the long time frame, less intensity was
needed. This would keep the wind bearable for the people on the
Modern science has caught up with
the Bible, since recent experiments suggest that a long and strong wind could
indeed have formed a land bridge:
Now computer simulations show that
a stiff wind blowing from the east for 12 hours could have given the Israelites
a land bridge that allowed them to escape Egypt over 3000 years
The 5-kilometre width of the
cleared mud flats might have offered enough space for a few hundred thousand
Israelites to cross, but against winds raging at 100 kilometres per hour, they
probably would have needed most of their 4-hour window to walk the 3 or
4-kilometres to the opposite shore.
swallowed by a large fish.
Most children believe that the
Bible says that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. However a correct translation of
the Bible reveals that it was a "large fish."
Critics have questioned whether
a whale or other sea creature, such as a shark, could have had jaws large enough
to swallow a whole man, and whether a man could actually survive such an
experience. In response, defenders of this Biblical miracle have produced
samples of sharks' jaws showing that they could be large enough, and have even
cited historical stories about one or two fishermen who have actually survived
such an experience!
Interesting as all this is, it
is really missing the point. What does the Bible actually say?
"And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow
up Jonah". (1:17).
The words imply either a special act of creation, or
of modification of an existing sea creature to accommodate Jonah safely. Thus,
while there are a number of both living and extinct large sea creatures that
could swallow a man whole, the text says that God 'appointed’ or ‘prepared’ the
great sea creature. The important point is that God was completely in
3. The long
One of the most tremendous miracles recorded in the
Bible is the long day described in Joshua 10 vs.11-14. It is stated that the
Lord fought for Israel in their battle against the
Amorites by two related miracles. 1. Causing the sun to stand still
in the middle of the sky for about a whole day to give the Israelites time to
defeat their enemies completely before they could escape and regroup under cover
of darkness. 2.
Sending a devastating hailstorm to slay large numbers of the
Since the sun and the moon both "stood still" for an
extra day it seems clear that the earth stopped rotating on its axis and the
moon also stopped its rotation around the earth.
Critics have pointed out that if the earth suddenly
stopped rotating everything on the earth would be violently dislocated and
probably destroyed. However, the Bible does not suggest that the stoppage was
sudden. If a car travelling at a high speed is instantaneously stopped great
damage ensues to its occupants, but if it gradually slows to a halt, they feel
It is true that if the earth did slow down, the
circulation of the atmosphere would be drastically affected, since it is largely
controlled by the earth's rotation. This fact may well account for the
tremendous hailstorm that accompanied the miracle.
There are evidences that the land surfaces may indeed
have been greatly disturbed at this time. A vision by the prophet Habakkuk
reflects back on the time that 'the sun and moon stood still' when there were
great disturbances on the earth. (Habakkuk 3 vs.
Obviously, such a miracle would have affected the
whole earth but, as with the case of Noah's flood, it is significant that
suggestions of a long day (or long night in the Americas) are indeed noted in
the mythologies of many peoples from various parts of the earth at that tine
(about 1400 B.C.) For example, many of the American Indian tribes have a legend
about the theft of the sun for one day.
Note. God could also have
brought about the 'Long Day' phenomenon by two other methods.
1. Some form of refraction (bending) of the light from
the sun and the moon. According to this view, God miraculously caused the
sunlight and moonlight to continue in Canaan for ‘about a
whole day’. 2. A wobble in the direction of the Earth’s axis of
rotation. For a more detailed analysis, check out the "Creation Ministries
International" web site.
We need to be able to answer two questions:- Can God
perform miracles? and Did God perform a particular miracle?
The answer to the first is given in Genesis,
Chapter1. A God that can speak the Universe into existence can to absolutely
anything. People who don't believe that God can perform miracles certainly don't
believe in the God of the Bible.
Secondly, as with the miracle of the
long day, a careful analysis would show that each Biblical miracle is supported
by both adequate theological justification and by adequate historical