Tuesday, August 25, 2009

1 Nephi 2: Early signs of Apostasy for THE BROTHERS

Laman and Lemuel; what are we going to do with them?  The absence of the Holy Ghost in their lives contributed to their quickness to anger and murmuring against their father.   Interesting how they would feel anger towards Lehi, who was simply being obedient to the Lord.  Would they have been respectful of him if he hadn't been obedient?  I doubt it. Lehi's integrity is quite admirable.  In 1 Nephi 2:11, Laman and Lemuel's stiffneckedness, murmuring, and their hearts set on the wealth of the world were a result of their absence of the Spirit (chased away by their rebellion, no doubt).   According to 1 Ne. 2:12-13, they knew not the dealings of God, and they didn't believe in the words of the prophets. No witness and no testimony of these things.
In contrast to them, Nephi follows the pattern in yesterday's lesson.  In 1 Nephi 2:16-17, Lehi testifies of what he knows is true, and Nephi seeks to know for himself after hearing him. Nephi's exertion of FAITH is prayer.  He receives his own personal witness from the Lord, and thereby testifies of what he now knows is true to Sam.  Sam now seeks to know for himself, and the cycle goes on.  It's a beautiful pattern on how testimonies are sparked and how the Holy Ghost works through us in every step. 
Nephi's experience is relayed in contrast to his brothers' experience.  Without a "course correction" for Laman and Lemuel at this point, they are headed down a road of darkness and sadness.  Meanwhile, we watch as Nephi, because of his faith, obedience, humility, and willingness to follow the Lord's will, receives light, knowledge, understanding, and blessings. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

1 Nephi 1: Through our FAITH, we are able to learn to receive revelation from the Lord

I've been so impressed with Lehi's obedience. I've discovered a pattern in the scriptures that help me to recognize how we receive a testimony of TRUTH. Lehi learns of the inevitable destruction of Jerusalem through the living prophets in his area. They know this through revelation and inspiration. Lehi, in understanding this, seeks to know for himself. He exerts FAITH through prayer, after which he receives his own revelation, to much more than I think he anticipated. He must have been such a faithful and worthy man to have been chosen to receive such revelation. He receives a vision, and is given a book. The Spirit testifies to him of the truthfulness of what he is experiencing, and now he has a personal manifestation of what he has "seen" and has been "shown". Now he is in the position to testify to others through the power of the Holy Ghost. This is how testimonies are developed. Faith is a key factor to all of it.
1. Someone who knows, testifies of TRUTH.
2. Someone who hears, seeks to know for himself.
3. He exercises FAITH, and in this case prayer.
4. He receives his own testimony through revelation.
5. He testifies of what he now knows.
.....and the cycle repeats.
It repeats in the next chapter. But this time, Lehi is the one who knows and testifies of TRUTH. Nephi is the one who hears and seeks to know for himself. Nephi exercises FAITH through prayer. Nephi receives his own testimony through revelation from the Lord, and then he testifies of it to Sam. (1 Nephi 2:16-17)
I believe this is in the beginning of the Book of Mormon so we can seek our own witness of the truthfulness of this book in testifying of Jesus Christ and his mission. We then are obligated to seek others and open our mouths in testifying of what we know, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Great stuff. (smile)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Every year, one of the first lessons we teach in seminary is "The Plan of SALVATION". 'Used to wonder why; now I see the wisdom. Must not have had a true testimony of it, but I do now. "If you know where you've been, and where you are now, it helps to know how to get where you want to go." In my opinion, this lesson is really about knowing and trusting God the Father. Faith, of course. It's His great plan to help us reach TRUE JOY by becoming like Him.
It's a magnificent plan where we are completely free to use our agency in making choices. We agreed, in the pre-mortal existence, to follow the plan. We must have seen "the way", otherwise we would never have supported it. We must have seen how confining and limited we would be as unembodied spirits; how trials and testing as mortals would give us the strength we needed to become like Him. Trials are placed in our path as part of the "perfection" process. Magnificent plan!
The Fall of Adam, although many look down on this part of the plan, was absolutely necessary to bring us into mortality. This is how we gain our bodies. All part of the great plan.
This plan also makes it clear to us how the Atonement of the Savior, Jesus Christ, is the one feature that facilitates the plan. The Atonement is what makes the plan work. Without it, we are trapped in our sins (bodies are trapped on this earth) and our spirits belong to Satan. The Savior's Resurrection opens the ability for our spirits to reunite with our bodies, thereby becoming immortal. We are given the opportunity to repent of our sins and through the Atonement, we can be washed clean, and return to our Heavenly Father clean and worthy. By knowing this, we develop a deep feeling of gratitude and reverence for Jesus Christ.
We had a great discussion as a class today. I used the suggestion in the manual (imagine that!) of stretching a string from one wall in the class to another, representing the line of our lives. I hung a paperclip over the string with a clear plastic body figure on it representing our spirits, and an identical body figure on another paper clip using cardstock. Moved the figures up and down the line while discussing progression during teaching. Wrote "Pre-Mortal Life", "Mortal Life", and "Post-Mortal Life" on 3 small envelopes. Used the envelope flaps to hang them on the string. Thought it was a corny idea when I read it. Ended up being the best Plan of Salvation lesson I've ever taught. Great visual for them. I hope they GOT IT! I GOT IT GOOD!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Class Theme for the Year

"Face to Face with the Savior" Alma 34:32-33, 2 Nephi 33:11, D&C 88:68
I was thinking of what it would be like to meet the Savior, face to face. I'd start crying like a baby, for sure. If President Monson visited my class or came to my home, that would be my reaction. If the Savior were in my presence, this reaction would be intensified 1000 x's. What a priviledge it would be....... Then I thought about what it would require for me to be worthy of His presence. That thought alone brought me to a humble place. Then I thought about what it requires for me to be worthy of another member of the Godhead; The Holy Ghost. Whatever I needed to do to prepare to meet the Savior are the same things I need to be doing to be worthy of the Holy Ghost. If we're able to maintain the companionship of the Holy Ghost, then that will prepare us to meet the Savior. "This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God..." I felt a reverence about this theme for my class this year. I want them to be reminded daily that we are working towards the day when we can stand before the Lord in full confidence, clean and worthy of His presence. It's a DAILY process; one that we must keep on our minds and in our hearts.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Scripture Chain Devotionals

Here is the concept. I want my students to work together as a devotional group. Each group will be in charge of a Scripture Mastery (SM) scripture. Using their Topical Guide, Footnotes, and Bible Dictionary, I want them to use their cross-references to connect together a series of references to form a complete picture of a doctrine, principle, or precept.
They are to start with the SM assigned, and then come up with several references that would make a solid "chain". Then they are to narrow it down to 3 of the strongest that would support that SM and the principle it is teaching. Once they have done that, they are prepared for the week of devotionals.
The Monday student will present the SM assigned their devotional group. He/she can use pictures, objects, props, (or not) while presenting and teach us the principle/doctrine/precept. He/she will name the chain (give the other 3 references), and the class is to write them down in the margins of that SM.
Tuesday's student in that group will present the same principle/doctrine/precept, but using one of the other references in the chain. It keeps going until the end of the week. Usually I will do a SM activity on Friday, so we only need 4 devotionals each week. I will always give them class time to work with their groups on each SM they are assigned. To take it a step further, if they can plan to select the hymns we are singing each day of the week they have devotional so they coincide with their principle/doctrine/precept, it would be ideal.
The idea is to form these chains so that they will master the SM scriptures. If they are ever called to give a talk on one of these principles/doctrines/precepts without much time to prepare, they can take one of their "chains" and easily adapt it to a talk. I also see that this will help them avoid being unprepared. They will have done the bulk of the work with their group. The ultimate end to each devotional would be that each one could testify of the truthfulness of what they have taught. If they can use a personal experience to solidify each principle and help the youth in class internalize it, I will go home with a huge smile on my face that day. =)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Own Set of "Gold Plates"

This is our class project this year. All students will have the opportunity to copile their own set of PLATES.
This idea was the brain child of a man in my ward who used to teach seminary. He shared it with me and I added to it with my own idea of inserts.
Materials: One sheet of gold posterboard, one sheet of yellow posterboard, two 2" binder rings, a paper cutter, a sharpie marker, a glue stick, some colored & white paper, a two-hole puncher, and my computer & printer. The posterboard is cut to 4-1/2" x 6" rectangles. The paper that is inserted is cut to 4" x 6" rectangles, or blank 4" x 6" notecards can be used. I am aware that the original plates had three rings and this one only has two, but I only used two to make it easier for us; convenience.
The yellow cardstock marks each book in the Book of Mormon. They also indicate which plates they were from. They serve as dividers.

Where ever there were pictures which I could insert illustrating specific accounts, I glued a copy of it onto a piece of 4" x 6" notecard, and on the back of it, I'd give the scripture reference and a brief description of the picture. Most pictures were taken from the Book of Mormon Seminary Student Study Guide. All are Church approved pictures.

Other inserts include maps, background information, quotes from prophets on Scripture Mastery scriptures, quotes from prophets on doctrine and principles in the Book of Mormon, etc.

I want my class to take notes during our lessons, on blank 4" x 6" paper I'm giving them. We'll compile the book/plates throughout the year, in hopes that this will be a meaningful resource to them in future years.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"We're at the STARTING GATE..."

Seminary begins on Monday, August 17th. I teach a class of juniors and seniors in the Murrieta Stake in California of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This is my 4th year teaching. Being a seminary teacher has been the hardest calling I have ever had. Along with that, though, are rewards I've received through teaching that are greater than any I have ever had. I have a much deeper understanding of who God is, His plan for us, and where I fall in that plan. I have come to know that the scriptures testify of Jesus the Christ, that he made an Atonement for all mankind (including me, personally), and this enormous blessing makes it possible for me to become "perfected" through Him. I have a greater desire to attend the temple, and have begun to "ponder" more frequently; more deeply. Through my journey this year in teaching my seminary class, I plan on "holding their hands" through the Book of Mormon and SHOWING them how this book directly speaks to them and is a handbook for them to refer to on how to "overcome the world" and look to Jesus Christ for their salvation.
I just received my list of students yesterday. I spent the day calling or texting each of them to welcome them to my class. I've been making preparations in the Primary Room (my classroom this year in the building that I teach in) to make the room inviting and to be organized so everything flows for me. I've been clearing room in my closet, laminating Scripture Mastery flashcards, and separating perforated Scripture Mastery Cards, which for some reason took WAAAAAAAAY longer than I anticipated. I've created "plates" that the youth will be able to compile throughout the year as we study. I'll share that in a future post.
There will be a parent/student/teacher Fireside this Sunday 8/9 at the stake center.
Future entries I make will be more about the lessons I teach. I have already discovered so much in the studying I have done over the summer break. Will spoon feed it to all of you over time. Join me; the more the merrier...