Sunday, June 23, 2013

Respect, Obedience and Love - Exodus 17:8-16

Holding Curtain Rod (heavy bo staff) Over Their Heads
Without experience, most people don't understand the amount of effort feats of strength and athletic endeavor require.  In other words, they can see themselves easily doing the same thing, and they are unaware of the difficulty in actually accomplishing a task.  Just watch adults watching a professional sports game.

Multiply that behavior by a billion to understand how a child's mind works when it comes to the miracles and feats of obedience and danger in the bible.  They just don't get it, and unless you let them FEEL it, they never will get it.  So, with Moses holding a staff over his head, in Exodus 17, for perhaps 12 hours, they kind of understand it is hard, but mostly from the "That's Boring" point of view, not the "that's hard" point of view.  So, in order to teach them both an important part of the verse, as well as how hard physically holding a staff over their head is, we devised a game.  

Materials Needed: 12 balloons, 6 Pink slips of paper 1" x 4", 6 Blue slips of paper 1" x 4', two heavy bo staffs from karate schools or 2 heavy curtain rods (dowels) 6 feet long, 6 pink sheets of paper and 6 blue sheets of paper.

Set Up: take 6 balloons, and the 6 pink slips of paper, and roll up the paper and put it into the 6 balloons.  Repeat for the 6 blue slips of paper.  Then inflate the balloons, keeping the pink slips away for the blue slips balloons.

Place the two sets of balloons at opposite sides of the far side of a room, and then evenly space the 6 pink and blue pieces of paper like stepping stones toward the balloons.

How to play the game:  Select one girl and one boy who think they have strength and give them the bo staff.  Divide the class by boys and girls (or any other division you want) and put them near the beginning of the stepping stones on the opposite side of the room from the balloons. You then need a team member stepping on the first stepping stone. Each time a bo staff holder bends their arms, twists the staff, or lowers the bo at all, the opposite team advances one stepping stone.

There are 2 ways to win: 1:  the team that gets the verse assembled correctly wins. (you do NOT read them the verse first.) When you say GO, team members, one at a time ,run across the room, pick up a balloon from their own side, run back with it, and then they have to pop the balloon, extracting the piece of paper inside. 2: The team that has a player reach the 6th stepping stone wins.

So, they learn how much it takes to hold the bo up for the 6 minutes it takes to play the game, and they figure out the verse we are teaching, without you having to drill it into their heads.  You want to slow the game down as much as possible, and you can do that by making the person popping the balloon NOT use their finger nails, even having to sit on it to pop it.

How to teach the lesson:  First, you want to make sure that they understand how hard it is to hold the staff over their heads for a few minutes.  I had them use ONE ARM, but you can make it harder by using both arms and having them extend their arms in from of them, 90 degrees to their body.  The best way to drive this point home is to ask the ones holding the bo.  Then expand upon their answer.

Then ask them why they held the bo up so long, when it hurt.  Since you picked the stronger students, it will be easy to have them all understand that it was hard; that it hurt.  Guide them if necessary to tell you that they wanted to win; that people wanted to do it for them.

Ask them what would happen if they had to hold the bo up for 12 hours. (You still have not mentioned the bible story.)  Let them or encourage them to brain storm for a while.  It took us about 3 minutes before someone suggested that they would need to help them hold their arms up.  Be prepared to lead them to that result, that they would need help.

Talk about how hard that would be, how much the bo staff holder would have to want to hold it up; about how many people would need to be involved and about how much effort it would take.  Then ask again, why would  anyone do that.  You want them to get to a desire to win, a respect for team members, love perhaps.

Read them the Bible Lesson: Now set up the story in the bible, Exodus 17:8-16.  How hundreds of thousands of Israelis are walking through a nations back yard.  How all nations knew who they were, since they had escaped from one of the largest military kings in the world (Pharoah), how they were drowned by God.

YOU MUST SPEND SOME TIME ON TALKING ABOUT THEIR BELIEF IN GOD. This is critical for them to understand.  At this time period, they saw miracles or acts of spiritual beings all the time.  These people had NO DOUBT that gods were in their lives and they had evidence in their daily lives.  So, when they heard how God protected the Israelis, there was no doubt; there was only assurance that these people's God was more powerful than their own.  (Their own gods were either fictional or demonic.)  This might be a good time to introduce them to demonic powers, letting them know that our time is no different than their time, except most of us really don't have their level of faith.  We believe in the Word or Concept of God, but we have lost the abject faith, or many of us have, in an all powerful God.  

So, when the Israelis showed up, the Amalekites were afraid of God.  The Amalekites felt if they attacked this small number of people, in comparison to their own size, they might defeat them before God could protect the Israelites.  

Now read the story.  Stop to explain what the words mean, and stop every time there is a choice to make about obeying God or not obeying God.

When you are done, you should also make sure that they understand that Moses loved the people, and prayed to the Lord to NOT destroy them for their fear.  Not because he, Moses, loved them, but rather that God would not get as much glory from his people if they died.  This is an awesome place to point out that our purpose is to Glorify God.  Glorify God in all that we do.

If you have time, as we did, we put the kids in a big circle, had them stand on a piece of paper, and told them if they stepped off the paper, they were out.  Then we gave them a balloon to pass around.  When someone was out, we all sat down, and came up with a way to glorify God in our lives. (Lead them to Obey, Pray, help other)  Then play the game again.