Thank you

Thank you so much for your interest in my blog posts - I never imagined that I'd have more than 24,000 unique visitors. I'm sorry I've not added more posts as I've been busy setting up the godly sexuality website and workshops for parents. I now have time to put up more sessions if you let me know what you'd value. Much love in Jesus. John

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Fruit of the Spirit - gentleness


 The purpose of this session is two-fold.
  1. the fruit of the Spirit is a natural consequence of the indwelling Spirit
  2. gentleness is controlled strength*
This was delivered to Years 3-6 (UK), Elementary School Grades 3-6 (US) in a 90 minute session.  I've used examples from my own Christian journey but please feel free to use your own examples.

*Comment: I feel very strongly that society has lost what it means to be a man and church has absorbed this.  We say "don't fight" and "be nice".  It is clear that we haven't embraced all of Jesus' characteristics - I don't see him being "nice" making a whip and turning over the money changers tables (Jn 2:15), or being "nice" when he confronted the Pharisees and called them, amongst other names, "sons of hell" (Mt 23:15).  We are in a fight against Satan and his works and we need to gird up and take them on not tell boys to be "nice".  Hence the emphasis here is on using strength appropriately rather than saying it is bad.


Whilst children are signing up for their break-time drink choice and registering, have the following playing the background.

Question: Ask the children to list the fruit of the Spirit.
Answer: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control

Question: How do we get the fruit of the Spirit?*
Answer: It's a natural consequence of being plugged into the source = Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
It's not by trying harder - that's works not grace - only God can bring about the change in us so that it is natural.

Sample answers and suggested responses: 
"by being more loving"  respond with "yes, but how?"
"by trying hard?"  respond with "you might be able to manage it for a short while but it's not going to last particularly if you're tired or grumpy".
"by asking God" respond with "yes and how does He give it or produce it?"

Direction if kids are struggling:
If in need of direction - ask them "how does a tree grow fruit?"  "what does it need?"  (water, nutrients) "how does it get it?" (via the sap)  "so what do we need and how do we get it?"

*If you've covered this before and played the Malteser game - then ask "What game did we play last week?"  and "What was that showing about the fruit of the Spirit?"


A game to demonstrate the fact that the fruit comes from the Spirit is "The Malteser game"  (source:  More dad stuff page 48).

Equipment: Bowl, packet of Maltesers, staws and cups for each player and a die.

Learning lesson/introduction: The word for the Spirit in Hebrew is ruach which can also mean breath.  Well you're going to be using your breath to get the Maltesers into your cup in the same way that the Spirit gets the fruit into your life.

Directions: Fill a bowl with Maltesers and get everyone sitting around it with a straw.  Players take it in turns to roll a die. If they roll a 5 or 6 then they try to get as many Maltesers as they can by sucking through the straw, lifting them out of the bowl into their winning cup before the next person rolls a 5 or 6.


Fruit of the Spirit
Comment: I like how this song focuses on the Spirit's indwelling.

Suggested actions: 
Filled with the Spirit - arms coming down onto head.
To walk in the Spirit -  walking
Be led by the Spirit - one holds arm out, second person pulls them along
Banana - mime peeling one
Apple or pear - mime picking the apple with left hand and pear with right hand
Our hearts bear good fruit - hands on heart
when His Spirit lives there - circular motion over heart
Love, joy, peace, patience - count on fingers of left hand
kindness, goodness, faitfulness, gentleness - count on finger of right hand
and self-control - both hands reach up together

Fruit of the Spirit - B SHOC
Comment: Loved by the boys!


Suggested actions:
Chorus - Oh yea we got that - arm coming down in that rap way!
Verse - start low to the ground and then gently move up - repeat 3 times.


Question: Where does the word gentle come from?
Answer: From the French "genteel" meaning belonging to the gentry - one of noble birth.

Question: How did they act that was different to the common people?

Farmer Fred is going to give us an explanation of a gentle way of behaving:

Question:  How did Farmer Fred's dad act in a gentle way to the bully?  What were the fruits of that?  What would've happened if he'd responded with violence in this case?

Now don't get confused - being gentle does not mean being weak or passive.  It is something different.  Let me show you what I mean:

Choose one of the following two videos:

Gentleness = quiet strength

Gentleness = the robot and the rabbit

 Jelly Telly

(This episode can be found as a bonus feature on What's in the bible? 3 Wandering in the desert)

Gentleness is strength under control.  The lorry could've smashed the man up - but he chose to stop.  or the robot had to hold back his strength to stop the rabbit getting damaged.

I think gentleness is shown beautifully in this picture:

This is a soldier - he is paid to kill people, yet here he is rescuing this child from a war zone.  He could've grabbed him by the hand and yanked him out fast.  But instead he held back his strength and held the child gently.

In this second image we have 1-year-old victim Baylee Almon is cradled by a local fireman after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.  Firemen are strong so they can break down doors, cut open cars to rescue people.  But here he is holding back his strength so the baby is not damaged any more.

For example, when I'm spinning the roundabout for my children - the eldest ones want it really fast and I use all my strength to spin them for all I'm worth.  However,  if my youngest child gets on I have to hold back my strength and spin it more gently otherwise he flies off!

Jesus was also gentle.  We see a glimpse of his strength in the Garden of Gethseme.  When they came to arrest him and he said I am he (the name of God - I am) the soldiers fell back as he declared who he was (Jn 18:5-6).  But yet he chose to go with them.  He didn't have to - he could have called on 12 legions of angels (Mt 26:53).  He controlled his strength.  He holds back his strength to protect those who come to him (Mt 11:29) but unleashes it to fight against Satan (1 Jn 3:8).

God has made you boys strong - you need your strength to do the jobs he has for you and to protect ladies.  But you need to learn how to control your strength so you don't hurt those you're supposed to protect.


Three activities to demonstrate the skill of being gentle - holding back strength.

Equipment: heavy (cricket) bat, very light ball (eg ping pong ball), masking tape, heavy club (or lump) hammer, hard boiled eggs, bowls for egg shell, piece of wood, tiny tacks, bananas.

Introduction: You've been learning about gentleness - about holding back your strength so you don't damage those you're meant to love and protect.  Let's do some activites to see if you can manage to do this.

Activity 1 (bat and ball)
Use the tape to mark out a zone on the floor.  Children need to hit the light ball with the heavy bat to get it in the zone.  But because the ball's so light they'll needto hold back their strength!

Activity 2 (hammer and egg)
Children need to use the lump hammer to try to gently crack the egg shell off of the egg without splitting the egg.

Activity 3 (hammer and tack)
Children need to use the lump hammer to try and put the light tack into the wood without bending it.

Activity 4 (banana relay)
In teams children have to run with a banana for a baton and pass it to the next person.  They need to be gentle to ensure they don't end up with a mash in their hand before its passed to the last person!

As the children were doing these activities I shared stories of gentleness in action.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. - (Prov 15:1 NIV)
For example, one day my son and I were delivering leaflets advertising our school's Christmas Fayre.  My son found a spent firework left over from Guy Fawkes night and decided to post it through someone's letter box.  The man came out SO angry and was threatening and shouting.  I could have shouted back but I responded with gentleness and said "I'm very sorry, what my son did was wrong" and got my son to apologise.  The man calmed down immediately and said "It's ok to post leaflets through the door but not fireworks" and went back inside.

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. - (Prov 25:15 NIV)
For example, my eldest child knows about this.  When I'm in a grumpy parent mood I say something like "you need to stop doing that" and she replies gently "Yes, daddy".  I am shamed.  It makes me realise how horrible I've been and I have to apologise.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, - (1 Pet 3:15 NIV)

Recently I went to India (you can read about this in one of my other blogs) and saw God do some amazing things.  When I was sharing these with one of my colleagues he was "it's all just the placebo effect" and when I challenged him and said but that can't explain the blind seeing and deaf hearing his response was "I don't believe that happens".  I was furious - I've seen God heal with my own eyes and he just denies it.  But God calls me to respond with gentleness and respect.  How can I do this?  Well only with God's help - I had to pray for the longest time to prevent me responding in anger.  Ultimately, it is God who changes people's hearts.  We can't do that no matter how clever our answers are.  Our gentle response is a sign that we are trusting God rather than our own strength.

I also find the fact that this is Peter who wrote this hilarious.  This is the guy who when they came to arrest Jesus, chopped off one of the high priest's servant's ears.  And yet here he is talking about gentleness.  What has caused this change?  Only God can change people's character!


Pray for any students who need help in controlling their strength particularly those who struggling with people who are being unkind to them.  Ask that the LORD would help them trust Him rather than their own strength in these situations.

Final videos

If time two quick videos which demonstrate gentleness in a fun way:

The edge demonstrates gentleness

Gentleness vs gentle NOT!

If time you could also get the children to perform their own gentleness vs gentleNOT plays.

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