Object Lesson 14: "Hoist Your Sails"
Using God’s Spirit to propel and direct your life
Just as a sailboat without a sail is only driftwood, so we are completely dependent upon God for both momentum and direction. Our faith and trust in God are the sails that guide us. God does not want us to chart a course and go alone. God wants us to depend on Him minute by minute2. In this experiment, we will simulate the Spirit by using a huge Air-zooka that will shoot smoke rings (wind) great distances. The kids, in turn, will raise their sails (Styrofoam cups) to catch this great wind to both see and feel the Spirit of the Lord that is always around them but often overlooked.
Are you drifting or sailing?
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” Acts 1:8
“Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10
"Apart from me, you can do nothing." John 15:5
“I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Plastic coffee can or small plastic bucket
Large plastic trashcan (new or very clean 32 gallon with a round bottom)
Plastic shower curtain (heavy duty)
Styrofoam cups (large, preferably enough for the entire audience to have one)
Fog machine (available at party stores)
Fog juice (available at party stores)
Knife (with a serrated edge; a steak knife works well)
Piece of driftwood (a stick could substitute)
Sheet (large enough to completely cover the air-zooka)
Heavy duty string or rope (optional)
Computer printout of poem (see below) affixed to cardboard backing (optional)
Computer printouts of labels (optional, see below; computer printouts affixed with clear packing tape works well)
Cutting the bucket and the trashcan is dangerous. Extreme care should be taken to avoid cutting oneself. An adult should only use a knife! In addition, stretching the bungie cords on the bucket and trashcan can lead to injury. Care should be taken to avoid injury while assembling the air-gun and air-zooka. The air-gun and air-zooka should only be handled by an adult to avoid the bungie cords falling off and injuring a child. Lastly, fog machines get very hot! Proper precautions should be taken to insure no one gets burned. Under no circumstances shall ‘Mad About Jesus Laboratories’ be liable for any damages or injury that result from the use of, or misuse of, this or any other object lesson or experiment. The use of this experiment is at your own risk. For future details please note the legal disclaimer on the website (www.madaboutjesus.net).
To build the air-gun:
Using a serrated knife, cut a 2-3 inch hole in the bottom of a bucket as close to the center as possible. Next, cut a piece of shower curtain large enough to cover the top open end of the bucket with at least 2-3 inches of overlap. Then, place the shower curtain on the top of the bucket. Carefully stretch a bungie cord around the top edge of the bucket, securing the shower curtain in place. Pull the edges of the shower curtain to stretch the shower curtain. You should now have a drum-like surface on the top of the bucket and a hole in the bottom. Lastly, affix a label to the air-gun (e.g. Air-gun model 101; optional). To test the air-gun, set up Styrofoam cups a few feet away, aim, and then lightly hit the shower curtain. An invisible ring of spinning air will shoot out of the hole knocking down the cups.
To build the air-zooka:
Using a serrated knife, cut an 8-10 inch hole in the bottom of a trashcan as close to the center as possible. Next, cut a piece of shower curtain large enough to cover the top open end of the trashcan with at least 2-3 inches of overlap. Then, place the shower curtain on the top of the trashcan. Carefully stretch a bungie cord around the top edge of the trashcan, securing the shower curtain in place. Pull the edges of the shower curtain to stretch the shower curtain. You should now have a drum-like surface on the top of the trashcan and a hole in the bottom. Lastly, affix a label to the air-zooka (e.g. Air-zooka model 2009; optional). It is recommended to attach a heavy-duty string or rope to each end of the air-zooka to serve as a shoulder rest. This will allow the air-zooka to be held about stomach to chest high with minimal effort. To test the air-zooka, set up Styrofoam cups 20-30 feet away, aim, and then lightly hit the shower curtain. An invisible ring of spinning air will shoot out of the hole knocking down the cups. For an even cooler effect, fill the chamber with fog, aim, and fire. The ring of spinning air is now visible.
Print out the poem, “I feel the Winds of God Today”, on a sheet of paper. Apply to cardboard backing (optional).
For the presentation, place the air-gun under the display table or somewhere else somewhat hidden from the audience. Place the air-zooka behind you, completely covered with the sheet. The driftwood and cups and should be put within easy reach on the display table. The fog machine should be kept near the display table wherever convenient (it will need to be filled with fog juice and warmed up prior to the experiment – follow provided instructions).
1. “Hi kids, I want to start today’s lesson by reading a poem by Jessie Adams.”
2. “The poem is called ‘I Feel the Winds of God Today’” Show poster board with poem printout.
“I feel the winds of God today; today my sail I lift,
Though heavy, oft with drenching spray, and torn with many a rift;
If hope but light the water’s crest, and Christ my bark will use,
I’ll seek the seas at His behest, and brave another cruise.
It is the wind of God that dries my vain regretful tears,
Until with braver thoughts shall rise the purer, brighter years;
If cast on shores of selfish ease or pleasure I should be;
Lord, let me feel Thy freshening breeze, and I’ll put back to sea.
If ever I forget Thy love and how that love was shown,
Lift high the blood red flag above; it bears Thy Name alone.
Great Pilot of my onward way, Thou wilt not let me drift;
I feel the winds of God today, today my sail I lift.” Jessie Adams, 1906
3. “So, can anyone tell me what this poem is about?” Wait for a response.
4. “Well, it is talking about how God is all around us just like the wind.”
5. “All we have to do is catch it.”
We are all driftwood
6. “But, why do you think we need to catch this wind?”
7. “Well, think about a piece of driftwood.”
8. “Does everyone know what driftwood is?”
9. “Driftwood is a piece of wood you might see floating in the ocean.” Show your piece of driftwood.
10. “Now, let’s imagine this driftwood in floating in the ocean.” Hold the driftwood in front of you.
11. “Moreover, you are riding on it.” Move the driftwood up and down like it is floating in the ocean.
12. “This driftwood is your boat and the ocean is your life.”
13. “Where will you go?
14. “Where will you end up?
15. “Well, if you are like this driftwood, you will simply drift wherever the current takes you, wherever the world wants you to go.” Move the driftwood around and around.
16. “Will the current of the world send you into rocks to be destroyed or wash you onto a beach?”
17. “Who knows?”
18. “Pretty scary isn’t it.”
How about a sail?
19. “Is there anything you can do about it?”
20. “Well, you could row to possibly avoid the rocks and the shore.”
21. “But where are you to go?”
22. “What direction should you head?”
23. “Is there another option?”
24. “Well, let’s go back to the poem.”
25. “The poem says ‘I feel the winds of God today; today my sail I lift.”
26. “So, how about a sail?”
What does a sail do?
27. “What does a sail do?”
28. “Well, it catches the wind.”
29. “What does the wind do?”
30. “Wind not only give the boat the power to move, but can push it in one direction.”
31. “God does the same things for our lives.”
32. “He can give us momentum, or power, to propel us.”
33. “But he also pushes us in the right direction.”
34. “If we use Him, we can avoid the rocks and get to where He wants us to go.”
35. “So, we want to raise our sails to catch the wind from God.”
What are our sails?
36. “But, what are our sails?”
37. “Our sails are our faith and trust in God.”
38. “How do we raise our sails?”
39. “Everyday when you wake up, go to God in prayer.”
40. “Ask God to propel and direct your life.”
41. “Give your life to him.”
42. “This will raise your sails and let God propel and guide your life.”
43. “Today, I want to show you a cool machine I made.”
44. “But first I need a volunteer.”
45. “Who want to help the ‘mad scientist’ today?” Choose a volunteer.
46. “Ok, today I want to show you that God is all around is.”
47. “All we have to do is raise our sails to feel him.”
48. “So, here is your sail.” Hand the volunteer a Styrofoam cup.
49. “I know it looks like a cup, but today it is a sail.”
50. “Ok, now I want you to put it on your head.” Help the volunteer balance the Styrofoam cup on his/her head.
52. “Now, I want to show you my new toy.”
53. “I call it my ‘air-gun model 101” Show your air-gun to the audience.
54. “I call it an air-gun because it can shoot air.”
55. “Do you want to see?” Stand a few feet from the volunteer, aim the hole at the cup, and hit the shower curtain part of the air-gun. If you miss, hit it again.
56. “So, could you feel the wind?”
57. “Now you know why I call it an air-gun.”
58. “But I am not just a scientist.”
59. “I am a ‘mad scientist.”
60. “I wanted to make something bigger, something really powerful.”
61. “So, let’s put this wimpy air-gun away.” Put the air-gun under the table.
62. “And let’s bring out my air-ZOOKA!!!!” Uncover the ‘air-zooka’ from the sheet. Wait for the ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’.
63. “Volunteer, I have one more task for you.”
64. “Can you please hand these cups, I mean sails, out to the members of our audience, including yourself, and then sit back down?” Have the volunteer hand cups to everyone.
65. “Everyone now has a sail.”
66. “So are you ready to feel God all around us?”
67. “Oh, you know what would be so cool?”
68. “Let’s not only feel God around us, let’s try to see God around us.” Use the fog machine to fill the chamber of the air-zooka.
69. “Ok, now if you believe in God and want to feel him.”
70. “If you want him to guide you life, then lift your sails for Him.” Instruct the kids to put the Styrofoam cups on their heads. Now, standing 20 feet or more from the audience members (move away from the audience as necessary) aim the air-zooka and fire repeatedly trying to knock the cups off the kids’ heads. Re-load the smoke as necessary.
71. In a large voice say “Can you feel God?”
72. In a large voice say “Can you see his power?”
73. “‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.’” Acts 1:8
74. “If you felt his power, raise your sails again and again!”
75. In a large voice say “Can you feel God?”
76. In a large voice say “Can you see his power?”
77. “’Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power.’” Ephesians 6:10
78. In a large voice say “Can you feel God?”
79. In a large voice say “Can you see his power?”
80. “For ‘apart from God, you can do nothing.’” John 15:5
81. “But with God you ‘can do all things’” Philippians 4:13
82. “Ok, let’s calm down and focus on what we have learned today.”
83. “So, just as a sailboat without a sail is only driftwood, so we are completely dependent upon God for both momentum and direction.”
84. “Our faith and trust in God are the sails that guide us.”
85. “God does not want us to chart a course and go alone.”
86. “God wants us to depend on Him minute by minute.”
87. “And how do we do this.”
88. “By raising our sails of faith.”
89. “Everyday go to God in prayer.”
90. “Ask God to propel and direct your life.”
91. “Give your life to him.”
92. “This will raise your sails and let God propel and guide your life.”
1. “Well, I better get back to the lab.”
2. “I have lots to do to prepare for my next experiment.”
3. “You see, I think I discovered (insert next experiment)”
4. “I just need to work the kinks out.”
5. “I will see you again soon.”
1. Concept for experiment obtained from Steve Spangler. http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/product/airzooka and http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/content/science-video/ellen-show-video (go to 4:18)
2. Many of the concepts used in the lesson, including, but not limited to concepts found in the summary statement, were obtained from a parable by Clarence Cranford or resulting commentary available at http://heartofwisdom.com/blog/category/spiritual-growth/object-lessons/
3. Videos showing the air-zooka in action are available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2udM5dGT-w and http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/content/science-video/ellen-show-video (go to 4:18)
Please send comments, suggestions, and questions to the ‘mad scientist’ at email@example.com
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