Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Object Lesson: His Mighty Works

        Since there is still no word from Kat or Carter, I have decided to post one of the object lessons from my book Visual Illustrations. This book is out of print, but will be rereleased soon. Feel free to use this lesson that teaches we can see the reality of God in the mighty works He performs. It is a very magical demonstration.
        This illustration will get many comments. You will need a matchstick or a book match, a nickel, and a plastic rod (such as a plastic magic wand) or comb. I prefer to use a plastic magic wand, and do this lesson as a magic trick. You can purchase a plastic wand at novelty shops, magic stores, or at many toy stores.
        This illustration makes use of static electricity. To set up, place the magic wand under your arm while wearing a coat or sweater. The wand needs to be touching cloth, and the bulk of the wand needs to stick out back. Place the nickel on a flat surface, and balance it on its edge. You may need to use a piece of chewing gum or modeling clay to help stand the nickel on its edge. Balance the matchstick on the top edge of the nickel so that it lies like a compass needle and will move easily.
        At the appropriate time, you will slide the plastic rod/wand straight forward and out from under your arm. As you do, bear down on the rod with your arm so that as you pull it out it receives a static electric charge. Be careful, if the cloth is damp, it will not charge the rod.
        Another way you can charge the rod is to wrap it in a cloth and put the wrapped wand inside a box or bag. Hold the cloth tightly around the wand with one hand, and draw the wand out of the box or bag with your other hand. If you choose this option and if you wish to do this illustration as a magic trick, be careful that your group does not see the cloth.
        If you tell your group that you are going to use static electricity to move the match, you could use a plastic hair comb. Run the comb through clean, dry hair a couple of times to give it a static electric charge. Once you have charged the plastic device, slowly move it a couple of inches over the top of the match. The match will move and fall off the nickel. If the match does not move, try rubbing the wand with different fabrics. Some fabrics work better than others in giving an electric charge.


        We can see the reality of God in the mighty works He performs.


        [Begin by setting up the match and nickel as described above.] I am going to move this match without touching it, blowing on it, or hitting the table. Instead, I will move it with an invisible force. [Use your electrically charged device to move the match.]
        Did you see the force that moved the match? No, because it is invisible. Yet, something caused the match to move off the nickel. We know there is a real force involved because we saw its effects.
        That's kind of the way it is with God. We can't see God with our   eyes, but we see the evidence of His existence and power by the results. In Romans 1:20 the Apostle Paul points out that since the creation of the world, God's invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen through what He has made. We see His powerful works of creation all about us. We see how people's lives change when God's spirit comes to live in their hearts.
        We can't see the force that moved the match, but we can see that there is a force. In the same way, we see the evidence of God's existence by the results of His powerful hand at work.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kat's Still Missing

        I am sorry to report that there is no further word on the whereabouts of Carter and Kat. This absence is troubling to say the least. In the past, the children have been gone from our world a day at the most when adventuring. It is true that depending on the dimension they happen to be in, time moves at a different rate. That is how their adventures may last months or even years yet are gone only a day from our world. Carter and Kat have been gone for over three weeks now. Either their adventure is taking place in real time here on earth, or some other time differential is at work of which we are unaware. For now, we must wait and hope that they return soon with an exciting story to tell.
        Today I am posting a fun activity to help us remember that no matter what happens in life, there is always something positive we can find to get us through the day. It isn’t much, but maybe it will give you a moment of distraction. I have chosen a spaceship themed puzzle in honor of the Mars rover Curiosity.

1. RIGHT CLICK ON the puzzle
2. SELECT Print Picture
3. CLICK Print

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kat's Gone Missing

        Hello folks, this is Pastor Steve. I know that this is Kat’s blog even though it is my account. I just found out that she has gone over three weeks without posting. When I checked with her mother, she was frantic because Kat has been missing now for over two weeks. I have to admit that I too was distressed upon hearing the news of her disappearance until I found out that Carter is also missing. Now in most cases, the fact that two children are missing from the same town would be of great concern. However, in the case of these two, it most likely means that they are on another adventure. Earlier today, I found a note shoved under my front door. The handwriting was neither Kat’s nor Carter’s. It simply said, “Carter and Kat are on a mission. If they survive, they will return.”
        I realize that this is not much to hang our hopes on, but remember that Carter and Kat have faced many dangers and harrowing situations. They have always survived and even thrived. So I am going to hope for the best, trust The Guardian, and the children.
        In the meantime, I have decided to honor Kat’s request that I post some activities you can use as teaching tools or for fun. The activity given below is a fun, unique way to introduce children to Jesus. The puzzle is also fun for everyone.

1. RIGHT CLICK the puzzle
2. SELECT Print Picture

3. CLICK Print

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kat's Brush with a Cult

        I met a woman today giving out pamphlets. She told me that superior beings would be landing soon, and there would only be enough room on the flying saucers for true believers. I asked her what I was supposed to believe, and she said the pamphlet explains everything. I read it, and it said that the Supreme Leader would take everyone who believes and worships him to Phlamboyah, a paradise world where everyone lives happily forever. It said lots of other things that did not make much sense.
        I hate to admit it, but when I traveled with Carter through Dearth (the land beyond Dead Forest), we joined a group of people for a short time who said they had an easy shortcut to the “final destination.” I feel bad about it now because our friend, The Guardian, told us to stay on the eastern path until we came to an adobe building. The eastern path was brutal. It was littered with rocks and shrubs, and pocked with chuckholes and huge cracks. It was narrow, difficult to travel, and dangerous. We were exhausted. Given the chance to travel with a group of, seemingly, kind, pleasant people who knew an easy shortcut, it was too good to pass up.
        The leader of the group called himself, Jud Rack. He was powerful, charismatic, and very persuasive. His followers were totally committed to him. If it hadn’t been for Raymud, a man who confronted Rack and challenged his leadership, Carter and I would have followed the group to destruction. Now that I think of it, it was creepy how Rack’s followers hung on his every word and followed him without question.
        Maybe people join these cult groups because, like Carter and I when we abandoned the eastern path, they get tired of struggling with life and trying to make the right choices. It’s so much easier to let someone else take responsibility. People who get involved with cults don’t question things. They let someone else do their thinking for them. They give their power away to someone who appears to have their best interests at heart, but the one they trust uses them for their own selfish purposes. What do you think? Am I missing something?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kat and the Valley of Shadows

        Hi everyone. I have to be honest with you; I do not feel like doing the blog this week. Ever since Carter and I found Jane Bet killed by her sister, I have been very down. If you read my last post you will know what I’m talking about. Anyway, ever since we found the body, I have felt like I did when I first stepped foot in the Valley of Shadows while traveling through Dearth (the land beyond the dead forest).
        People in Dearth warned us that it would be almost impossible to survive in that dark, cursed land. When we stepped foot on that black dust covered plane, it felt like I had stepped into Death’s living room. Feelings of sadness fell so heavy upon me that I knew I would never be happy again. I wanted desperately to turn and run back the way we had come.
        The dark feelings were so powerful that Carter and I threw up. Then something happened that lifted the gloom in our hearts. The Guardian appeared. Just seeing him filled us with hope and joy, but it didn’t last. When The Guardian told us that our quest was over, Carter began to suspect that the Adversary was trying to trick us into abandoning our quest by appearing as The Guardian. Carter tripped him up by saying he was going to miss the pancakes he served us for breakfast. Carter asked him if he used buttermilk in the pancakes, and he said yes. Well The Guardian never served us pancakes, only waffles. We had him cold.
        That’s how the forces of darkness work. When we are at our most vulnerable, when things are so bad we don’t know if we can carry on, evil strikes. We must be on our guard because when we hurt so bad we don’t know if we can bear the pain one more second, evil will come with a pleasant face and an attractive offer of easy escape.
        When we confronted the Adversary, he revealed his identity. He was angry because he had failed. Not only did he fail to convince us that he was The Guardian, he gave us the key to making it through the valley of shadows (not that he planned to). When we thought The Guardian had come to help us, we felt hope and joy. Even though it wasn’t really him, we realized that when our focus changed from our horrible circumstances to something positive, we gained strength to overcome. That’s how we were able to push on. We focused on our friendship, on things that made us laugh, and things that made us feel glad to be alive. It’s okay to go on with your life even when you lose someone you care about.
        Okay, now I feel better. I guess it was a good thing that I did the blog even though I didn’t want to. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Avoidable Tragedy

        Something terrible happened two weeks ago. That’s why this blog is two weeks late. I just couldn’t deal with the blog until now. I told Pastor Steve all about it, and he wrote it down as a story. It’s okay with me and Carter if you want to share it with your class or friends online. If it helps someone then it won’t be a total loss. Here’s what happened.
        At their last meeting Kat suggested to Carter, “I think there’s someone we should visit.”
        “Who’s that?”
        “Old Bet.”
        Carter looked surprised. “Why should we visit her? She doesn’t like anybody, and nobody likes her. People say she’s a witch.”
        “Do you really think she’s a witch, Carter? I think she’s just a lonely old woman who doesn’t have anyone in her life who cares about her. I was thinking about Dark Beard whom we met in Dearth. He was a pretty nasty individual, but look how he changed when someone that he hated showed him kindness. I think of Dark Beard as a nice guy just waiting to be set free.”
        Carter said, “That’s true, but before he changed, Dark Beard was just selfish and mean spirited. Old Bet looks like she could be dangerous.”
        “Looks can be deceiving, you know. I’m going to give it a try,” Kat said. “You want to come along?”
        “Not necessarily, but I’m not letting you have an adventure without me. We are partners, after all.”
        “Good, I knew you wouldn’t pass up a good adventure, especially when we might be able to help someone.”
        Old Bet lived in a broken down shack about two miles past a river in a dense forested area. She had lived there for as long as anyone could remember. Whenever people talked about her they would say, “That crazy old hag is dangerous. It wouldn’t be wise to get too close to her.” Up until now, the two twelve-year-olds had heeded that advice. The kids had seen her on a few occasions skulking around scrounging in garbage cans and trash bins. They had also come across her shack while exploring, but they always kept their distance.
        “You know, Carter, I have always found the strange creations Bet makes and puts around her shack, very interesting. The pieces of colored glass she hangs on strings to make wind chimes, the strange shapes she makes out of junk, the way she works shiny pieces of metal into the walls of her shack is very creative and fanciful. The fact that she is creative is a good thing.”
        As the children approached the shack, they saw Bet on her porch hanging a wind chime made of broken pieces of porcelain. Her wild gray hair, deeply wrinkled face, and shabby gray dress made her look very witchy. Upon seeing Carter and Kat, she broke into a wide smile. “Visitors! I do not believe it; I haven’t had visitors in so very long.”
        “That isn’t the greeting I expected,” Carter whispered.
        Kat waved and called out, “I hope we are not disturbing you. We wanted to come and introduce ourselves.”
        “Introduce yourselves to me? Why, I am nobody. Why would you care to waste your time with me?” Before the children could answer, Bet said, “Please come and sit on the porch. I will go inside and make tea for us. Make yourselves comfortable, and I will return shortly.”
        “Carter, she seems nice. She isn’t at all like--”
        Kat wasn’t able to finish her sentence because a very angry Bet came running from behind the shack, shouting, “Who do you think you are coming to my home and sitting on my porch! You will be very sorry you ever dared to come out here!”
        The woman was terrifying to look at. Never had Kat seen anyone so outraged over nothing. The partners stood up and Kat said, “Bet, we’re sorry. You told us to sit on your porch while you made tea. Did we do something to upset you?”
        “Upset me? Upset me? You invade my privacy. You trespass on my property, sit on my porch, and expect me to bring you tea! Stay right here. I am going to get something that will settle this right now!” she screamed and stomped off back around the shack.
        “Kat, she is not sane. We need to get out of here.”
        “I’m with you, let’s run.”
        But just as they stepped off the porch, Bet appeared in the doorway with a tray of tea and cookies. “Where are you going? You are not leaving so soon are you? We haven’t had our tea and refreshments yet.” Bet smiled warmly.
        The partners shared a confused look. “But,” Kat said, “you just told us we were trespassing and that we were bothering you.”
        “Nonsense, I am so pleased and excited to have company. Now before we have our refreshments, you said that you were going to introduce yourselves to me.”
        Warily Carter said, “I am Carter and this is my partner in adventure, Kat.”
        “I’m pleased to meet you. My name is Susan Bet.”
        “Oh, I thought your first name was Bet. I thought that’s why everyone refers to you as Bet,” Carter said.
        Bet just smiled and poured the tea. When she was done pouring she said, “Oh goodness, I forgot the sugar. I will be right back.”
        As Bet went into the shack, Kat called out, “I don’t need sugar, I like mine plain.”
        “NO!” came a loud scream from the shack, and Bet came running back out with a bat in her hand. She was a wild woman. She began hitting the tray of tea cups, smashing everything, all the while screaming, “Don’t drink the tea! I thought you would be gone by now, but here you are still trespassing on my property! What does it take to get rid of you meddling kids!”
        Carter and Kat jumped up in terror. They were convinced that they were dealing with someone who had lost their mind. “Come on Kat,” Carter shouted. “I don’t think there’s anything we can do for Bet.”
        Backing away from the screaming, bat wielding woman, Kat said, “We’re sorry, Bet. We only wanted to let you know that someone cares.” Just then, something totally unexpected happened. A second Bet stepped out of the door of the shack. She looked shocked at what she saw and said, “Bet, what are you doing to our guests. We were having a nice tea party and you have ruined everything! You are a horrible person. You never let me have any fun.”
        “I don’t believe it,” Carter gasped. “You’re twins. There are two of you.”
        “Yes, there are two of us. I am Jane Bet and you have met my sister, Susan. I have to apologies for my sister,” the woman with the bat said. “She has poisoned your tea.”
        Susan Bet pouted. “Jane never lets me have any fun.”
        “Oh, I see now,” Kat said as if she were coming out of a dream. “You were trying to protect us. You were trying to scare us away so that your sister would not trick us into believing that we could trust her. She is the troubled one, not you. Oh Miss Bet, what a lonely life you must live keeping your sister safe and keeping others safe from her. You really should get her some help. This is no way for either of you to live.”
        Jane put the bat down and sat exhausted on a chair. “Yes, I am lonely. Life has been hard for us. Maybe I’m not doing my sister any favors keeping her out here in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know what to do. Thank you, children, for caring enough to come out here, but you should go. It really isn’t safe for you here.”
        Before they left, Carter asked Jane, “What about Susan? Will you get her some help?”
        Jane shrugged, smiled, and said, “Goodbye children. It was nice meeting you.”
        About a month later, Kat asked Carter, “Do you think Jane got Susan some help with her problem?”
        “I don’t know. We should check on them,” Carter said.
        “Okay, this weekend we pay them another visit and see if anything has been done,” Kat said.
        Carter and Kat arrived at the Bet’s shack around one o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. Things were very quiet.
        “Looks like maybe they’re gone,” said Kat.
        Carter called out, “Hello is anyone home?”
        Getting no response, the partners moved up on the porch. “Oh, what an awful smell,” Kat gagged and held her nose.
        “It smells like something died,” Carter observed. “I have a bad feeling about this.”
        Stepping into the one room shack, the children found one of the sisters dead on a cot. It looked as if she had been hit several times with a bat while she slept. On her chest there was a note. Carter picked it up and read it aloud. “Now I can have lots of fun. No more Jane to get in my way. If anyone finds this, don’t bother looking for me. I am going far, far away where no one will know me.”
        Carter and Kat told the sheriff what they found and all that they knew from their previous visit. After that they never heard any more about Susan Bet.
        There are a lot of things that can be learned from this tragic event. Expect the unexpected. Looks can be deceiving. Don’t accept things from strangers. But the most important lesson is that problems do not just go away. Jane Bet thought she was helping her sister by keeping her away from people. That only makes things worse. Why is it that friends and family think it is better to not get the help their loved ones need? Problems need to be dealt with. Ignoring them makes them worse. I shudder to think what damage Susan will wreak before she is caught. I’m going to bed, and I am going to make sure my door is locked. Be safe, all.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Carter's Illusion of Paradise

        Hi, this is Carter. Kat isn’t feeling too good, so she asked me to do her blog tonight. I told her that I would if she corrected my spelling and stuff before posting it.
        I have been following Kat’s blog, so I know what she has been telling you about our adventures.  She wanted me to talk about what happened to me in Paradise City. I’m not proud of how I acted there. As we traveled through Dearth, the dark land beyond the dead forest, we suffered many hardships and faced many terrifying dangers. So when I came to Paradise City, I thought it was Heaven! I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life. I had never tasted water so sweet or eaten food as delicious as I had in Paradise. And no matter how much I drank or ate, I never felt full. In fact there was always a twinge of hunger and thirst so that whenever you wanted something to eat or drink, you could consume as much as you wanted. 
        The apartments Kat and I stayed in were full of luxuries, entertainments, and rich refreshments. Oh yeah, the view from my balcony overlooking Paradise was breathtaking. When I first saw it, I literally stopped breathing.  The buildings were the most unusual designs and glowing with bright, beautiful colors. I could see parks, amusements, and wonders I cannot even describe. There was so much to explore so many things to experience and enjoy! I was filled with wonder and excitement, greedy to take it all in. I mean, who wouldn’t?
        Well, Kat wasn’t as sold as I was. She wanted to talk about finishing our quest. She wouldn’t stop bringing up the prophesy that some thought might involve us. She was so annoying. I didn’t want to leave Paradise. It was everything I ever imagined Heaven to be. I was done with prophecies and quests; even going home didn’t matter to me anymore. 
        Our first and last night in Paradise, Kat and I quarreled over dinner.  After eating bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, toast, and hash brown potatoes covered in ketchup, I ordered two extra-large meat pizzas. I ate both of them myself, and then I ate three hot fudge sundaes. Kat watched me eat all that food and finally got fed up with my attitude, and stormed out of the dining area declaring that she was going to bed.
        Talk about a buzz kill, but it was for the best. That was the first step in my wake up call. The second happened when I saw out of the corner of my eye a hideous, fleshless skeleton walking toward me. I nearly jumped out of my skin. But when I turned toward the skeleton, all I saw was my waitress bringing another pizza. When she saw that I was startled, I tried to explain that since I hadn’t ordered the pizza, that she just caught me by surprise. But she did not seem convinced, and her attitude turned cold and suspicious.
        I didn’t want the pizza she brought, but I decided to eat it and see if I could catch the vision of the skeleton again.  I had to know if it was my imagination or if there was something really wrong going on. When it happened again, I went to Kat’s room and told her what I had seen. Then it occurred to us that if the staff were not what they appeared to be then nothing in Paradise was what it appeared to be. It was all an illusion to keep us deluded and distracted until we died of thirst and hunger. It was a trap set by the Adversary to keep us from completing our quest.
        Whenever I think that I let the temptations of that illusion almost keep me from true paradise, I cannot help but think that our world is filled with all sorts of temptations that promise so much, but they are empty promises the Adversary uses to keep people occupied until their spirits starve to death and they miss true paradise.
        Even though I am not proud of how I acted in Paradise City, I am glad that I was able to learn from it and escape before it was too late. Is there something you need to escape from that is keeping you from completing your true purpose in life? I hope that you didn’t miss Kat too much. She should be back next week.