Friday, October 30, 2009

Happiness For 4 Seminary Teachers

Jacob was a senior in my class last year. He's one of those amazing young men who came to seminary early every day, helped me set up the classroom, and memorized all 100 Scripture Mastery scriptures over the 4 years he attended seminary.  Today he invited his former seminary teachers to his home at 4:30 p.m. to watch him open his mission call with his family.  Really?  What an honor!

He's been called to serve in Washington, D.C. on an American Sign Language Mission and reports to the MTC in January!  How cool is that?  Jacob took ASL in high school so he's very excited to use it on his mission.  I'd say he's prepared for this moment in his life for a looooooong time now.  He's one of these strong ones in this RISING GENERATION of youth. We're so proud of him!

Today was a special day for Jacob. His gesture of including us in this special moment with his family was so incredibly gracious.  It was a gesture of gratitude.  Well Jacob, "you're welcome".  But really, "thank YOU!"

"Keep It Simple"

I threw down the challenge today. 

We've noticed a pattern in the scriptures beginning with Lehi. 
  1. Someone bears his testimony of what he knows is true. (Lehi)
  2. Someone else hears his testimony of the truth and has a desire to know for himself.  (Nephi)
  3. He exerts faith by doing; living the principle testified of, or praying, etc. (Nephi prayed)
  4. He then receives confirmation from the Spirit of the truth that was testified. (The Lord "visited" Nephi and softened his heart.)
  5. Because he now knows by the Spirit, he can testify of what he knows is true. (Nephi testified to Sam.)
As we read through the Book of Mormon, we begin "plugging in" different people in the "Someone" or the "Someone else" spot.   Nephi goes from the "Someone else" spot to the "Someone" spot at the top.  And this continues throughout the book with different people.  This is how the Spirit is able to reach into the heart of another person.  This is how we allow the Spirit to work through us, and we then become instruments in the hand of the Lord. We must open our mouths. Someone has to start.

So far in class, our concentration has been on being the one who desires to know for himself.  We've focused on knowing how to go from steps 2-5.   Today I challenged my awesome class to put themselves in the TOP SPOTWith fast and testimony meeting coming this Sunday, I challenged them to bear their testimonies in their own ward sacrament meetings of what they knew to be TRUE.   I, (gulp!), told them I'd do the same. 

(Moan, groan, "nooooooo"!)  Can't you just hear them? But some hands went up when I asked who would be willing to accept my challenge. 

The best part was when a class member told us that bearing your testimony can be very simple.  It doesn't have to be long, and when he bears his testimony, he tries to just KEEP IT SIMPLE

'Nuff said.  (Feedback on Monday.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Shhhh. The Spirit Whispereth."

Let the Holy Spirit guide;
Let him teach us what is true.
He will testify of Christ,
Light our minds with heaven's view.

Let the Holy Spirit guard;
Let his whisper govern choice.
He will lead us safely home
If we listen to his voice.

Let the Spirit heal our hearts
Thru his quiet, gentle pow'r.
May we purify our lives
To receive him hour by hour.

(LDS Hymns, Hymn 143, "Let the Holy Spirit Guide",
Text: Penelope Moody Allen, b. 1939. (c) 1985 IRI)

The students in my class who chose this hymn to sing this morning were inspired.  How interesting that the hymn prompts us to "let or allow" the Spirit to guide us. As we covered The Words of Mormon today, I was touched by the examples 3 members of our class gave of times they were prompted by the Holy Ghost to DO something, without knowing why.   How awesome that they are able to recognize what a prompting from the Spirit feels like. 

Nephi was prompted by the Spirit to prepare a set of smaller plates, without knowing why at the time.   The Lord commanded Nephi "to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not. But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men" (1 Nephi 9:5-6)

Mormon, centuries later, was prompted to include these small plates of Nephi along with his abridgement of the large plates of Nephi, again, without knowing why.   He says, "And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will." (Words of Mormon 1:7)

Both of these prophets were not aware WHY they were moved upon by the Spirit to do what they did except that the Lord had commanded it.  They were both willing to be instruments in the hand of the Lord, without knowing why.  The Prophet Joseph Smith understood WHY.  In 1828, when the 116 pages of manuscript were lost, Joseph Smith was able to begin translation of the small plates of Nephi which covered the same period of time the lost manuscript covered.  The Lord's work was not going to be frustrated; all things in their proper order. 

I was impressed by the word "whispereth" that Mormon uses.  As if in order to hear the Spirit, we must be still; quiet. There are times when the Spirit will caution us, protect us, teach us, inspire us, and move us to DO something.  And sometimes without knowing why.   We don't need to know why.  We need to be good about not needing to know why.   We only need to be ready to DO when He prompts us.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can you imagine?

Since becoming a seminary teacher, my scriptures have become as important for me to tote around as my wallet, cell phone,  or keys.   I take them everywhere.  I never know when I might have a few minutes to sit and read them.  I have one of those "pocket-sized" copies of the Book of Mormon in my purse, too.  Just in case.   I know.  One of my daughters calls me a "scripture geek".   It is what it is.  I find it fascinating how one can discover something NEW every time they read them.  Fascinating!

Reading them brings me peace.  I've come to understand who God is and how much He loves us.  The scriptures contain his commandments, his laws, and testimonies of those who know Him.

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like without scriptures? 

I found it interesting in the Book of Mormon to learn of some of the Lord's covenant people who were without scriptures/records.  We find in the Book of Omni, that Mosiah, a descendant of Lehi, discovered a large group of people in Zarahemla whose ancestors also left Jerusalem centuries before, as Lehi did.  The difference between Lehi's group, and these people of Zarahemla (a.k.a., the Mulekites) is that Lehi's group had a record of their people (the Jews), and the others didn't.  When Mosiah and the Nephites met the Mulekites, they realized that "their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them." (Omni 1:17)  The Mulekites' language had degenerated, they lost their culture, their doctrine, and they didn't know God.  All this was due to the fact that they had taken no scriptural record with them when they left Jerusalem. 

King Benjamin, Mosiah's son, taught, "...Were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God." (Mosiah 1:3)   The mysteries of God are truths learned only by faith and revelation; FAITH in God, and REVELATION from God.

A life without knowing God?   I can't imagine....................

Monday, October 26, 2009

"For They Did PRICK THEIR HEARTS With the Word."

In our Church, there are many meetings that we attend; we are a Church of meetings!  That's good. We sit through many talks and lessons over our lifetime.  Some of them build our faith, and others call us to repentance. The ones that call us to repentance either solidify our testimonies of the gospel (usually if we are living consistent with what is being taught), or they "prick our hearts".   A "heart-pricking" is a GOOD thing!  It's meant to humble us.  It's a sign and an opportunity for us to "turn" back to the Lord and repent.  Perhaps if we didn't feel the "pricking", natural consequences of our actions might send us through a trial that would have the same effect on us, but be more painful.  Perhaps a "STAB", rather than a "prick"?

In the Book of Jarom, he notes this description of the Nephites who lived during his time.  There was much to be done to humble them "...because of the hardness of their hearts, and the deafness of their ears, and the blindness of their minds, and the stiffness of their necks..." (Jarom 1:3)  President Ezra Taft Benson tells us that this is PRIDE.  Fortunately for the Nephites, their leaders were faithful men of God.

Their spiritual preparation: Their "...leaders were mighty men of the faith of the Lord", and they taught the Nephites the ways of the Lord.  (Jarom 1:7)

The temporal result of their spiritual preparation: "...We withstood the Lamanites and swept them away out of our lands, and began to fortify our cities, and whatsoever place of our inheritance." (Jarom 1:7) "...And thus being prepared to meet the Lamanites, they did not prosper against us.  But the word of the Lord was verified, which he spake unto our fathers, saying that: Inasmuch as ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land." (Jarom 1:9)  Couldn't we use this same spiritual preparation to "sweep away" Satan?

They had stalwart leaders who served valiantly in their callings to continually use the word of the Lord to remind them of their covenants with Him, and to look to the Savior for their salvation through the Atonement.  "....They kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance.." (Jarom 1:12) 

We just recently listened to General Conference and our stake held a Stake Conference a few weeks ago. There was much to be heard; I felt a few "pricks". When we feel those "pricks", we'd be wise to make some adjustments in our lives so that the next time we hear similar talks, we wouldn't say "ouch!".

Friday, October 16, 2009

Returning to Lehi's Vision

As I was pondering what we learned this past week in the book of Jacob, I found it more than coincidental that everything could relate back to Lehi's Vision. That's something that had never occurred to me before in reading and studying the Book of Mormon.

Monday's lesson - Pride (Jacob 2)
Tuesday's lesson - Riches, Wealth & Pride (Jacob 2)
Wednesday's lesson - Immorality, Unchastity (Jacob 2-3)
Thursday's lesson - Having your actions consistent with that you know (Jacob 3)

Today in Seminary we referred back to Lehi's vision and tried to identify the parts of his vision that would apply to what we learned this past week.  It all seems to apply. 

The Great & Spacious building described in 1 Nephi 8:26-27, 33 and 1 Nephi 11:35-36 describe the lifestyle of some of the Nephites in Jacob 2-3.   The building is filled with a variety of different people wearing fine clothing, mocking those who are being obedient to spiritual things.   If they were once spiritual people, they no longer feel the Spirit or have an understanding of things NOT of this world.  If they have never learned to recognize the Light of Christ, we can understand why they scorn those who have.  They are caught up in PRIDE and SELF.

Wednesday's & Thursday's lessons dealt with being loyal to the Lord, keeping your actions consistent with what you know, and being accountable for that.   We went back to Lehi's vision in 1 Nephi 8 and re-identified the 4 groups of people in his vision.

1.  vvs. 21-23 - People on the path, lost their way in the darkness, never caught hold of the rod.

2.  vvs. 24-25, 28 - People on the path, pressing forward clinging to the rod, ate the fruit, were ashamed after heeding influence from the world, fell away.

3.  vvs. 30, 33 - People on the path, pressing forward holding fast to the rod, ate the fruit, heeded not the world.

4.  vvs. 31-32 - People who never made it to the path, lost, never made it to the rod, went the way of the world.

We discussed which people were more accountable for what they knew, and which ones stayed loyal to the Lord. We also applied D&C 82:3 to these groups of people in Lehi's vision.  It was very interesting to become re-acquainted with this vision. As we keep referring back to it, my class is becoming better at relating the people in the vision to groups of people today.  I asked our class to try to see if they could apply whatever they are reading in the Book of Mormon to Lehi's vision.  It may not always fit, but let's just see what does fit.  It brings greater light to our understanding.  I'm sure we will discover more as we continue.  How exciting!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Here are my thoughts from today's seminary lesson in Jacob 3:3-11......

When I was little, my dad used to have a paperweight on his desk that said, "DO IT".  Whenever I hear the Nike slogan or see the logo, "Just Do It.", I think of my dad.  Nike has the right idea.

So did President Spencer W. Kimball, 12th president of the Church who has said, “We must lengthen our stride and must do it now.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of the Church, gave a talk to the youth and young single adults on 12 November 2000 in Salt Lake City titled “A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth."  In it he shared some counsel to help the youth face the challenges ahead of them:

"Be loyal to the Church under all circumstances.....This is the very work of God designed to bring about the immortality and eternal life of His sons and daughters.......Walk in faith before Him with your heads high, proud of your membership in this great cause and kingdom which He has restored to the earth in this, the last dispensation of the fulness of times. Why? To bring you happiness...............Be true to your own convictions. You know what is right, and you know what is wrong. You know when you are doing the proper thing. You know when you are giving strength to the right cause. Be loyal. Be faithful. Be true, my beloved associates in this great kingdom."

The Nephites didn't have either President Kimball or President Hinckley, but they had Jacob.  In chapter 3 of Jacob in the Book of Mormon, the Nephites have not kept their actions consistent with what they know. There has been a "disconnect", somewhat of a slumber, with what they know, and how they have been living.  Because of this, there has been an absence of the Spirit in their lives; an absence of divine direction.  They know better, but have not done better. 

It's interesting that Jacob uses the words, "...arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death", as if they have not been conscious of what they have been doing. They've been distracted, preoccupied, incoherent, disjointed, non-alert.  The PRIDE that they have developed has allowed temptation to creep into their lives until they are in a state of being "unaware" of their inconsistency in living the gospel.  They will be held accountable for the light, knowledge, and understanding they have received and comprehend.  So will we.

Sometime in our life, when we're ready, we come to understand that living true to what we know, brings us peace and contentment.  It invites the Spirit to dwell with us.  Blessings flow through our obedience in LIVING the gospel of Jesus Christ and not just saying we're living the gospel.  We must be alert and aware at all times, 'lest the adversary deceive us and distract us from doing good things......Maybe we can work on minimizing that periodical "disconnect" that happens when we lose focus. 

If Jacob were here, he'd tell us to open our eyes and "Just Do It."!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

LOYALTY to the Lord

I had a some strong thoughts about our seminary lesson today.  I hope I conveyed them to my class. We've crept through Jacob 2 in the Book of Mormon for the last 3 days because I felt it was important to catch what was going on in this chapter. 

As Jacob continues to speak to the Nephites at the temple about pride, the love of riches, and unchastity, he  agonizes about having to speak to them boldly.   He spoke of the hurt feelings from family members that have arisen from their actions.  The men have neglected to take care in watching where their loyalties lie and seeing how those actions affect those they love. 
In verse 35 it reads: ".....Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds."
As our lesson was centered on living the Law of Chastity, we talked about loyalty to a spouse, a loved one, and a family.   When we are committed to a spouse in marriage, we promise to stay loyal to them, and none other.  When we live the Law of Chastity within a marriage, we form a bond with them and there is a strength that forms between us in that commitment we've made to each other.  We compliment each other and become greater by sharing "assets" (talents, abilities, strengths, etc.).  His assets become hers, and hers become his.   Isn't this like what the Lord is asking of us by entering into sacred covenants with him?  When we enter into a covenant with the Lord, he is offering us his righteousness if we would be loyal to him.  Because he loves us, he's willing to take on our sins if we repent, and commit to honor and obey him, and "no other gods".  Perhaps those hurt feelings expressed in verse 35 above somewhat reflect the Lord's feelings when we are not loyal to him?  Living the Law of Chastity helps us to understand being loyal to the Lord, which is what he asks of his covenant people.
Jacob is the very one, who in 2 Nephi 9, gave a strong, stirring sermon on the power of the Savior's Atonement.   Everything brings us back to the Atonement.  All things testify of Christ.   We become "complete" through him.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Don't Have PRIDE, Do I?

Well, studying the Book of Mormon is like looking in a mirror.  We see bits and pieces of ourselves.   I think that was the point of the book.  We don't always like what we see in the mirror, though, WHICH IS THE POINT OF THE BOOK!  We were meant to read about what were the causes of the downfall of the Nephite civilization, and see the correlation with ourselves, in hopes of avoiding it.  Jacob 2 left me with much to contemplate.

President Ezra Taft Benson gave a stirring talk in the April 1989 General Conference titled "Beware of Pride".  I was living in Fontana, CA at the time.  I don't recall hearing this talk in 1989.  This talk was the backbone and springboard for our lesson in seminary today. 
President Benson defines pride as ENMITY (hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition) toward God and/or others.   It can be seen as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended.  It is also faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, unforgiving, jealous, disobedience, and selfishness, just to name a few.  
We took a brief True/False quiz on PRIDE at the beginning of class:
  1. If you don't like someone, then you have pride.
  2. Arguing is a form of pride.
  3. The way to overcome pride is by going to church.
  4. There are some forms of pride that are good.
  5. Disobedience to someone in authority over you is pride.
  6. Gossiping is a form of pride.
  7. If you have pride, you welcome input from others.
  8. Poor people don't have pride because they don't have money.
  9. Holding onto grudges is pride.
  10. If someone offends you, then you have pride.
Going over the answers of this quiz made for a good discussion.  Our class was a bit surprised that some of these behaviors were forms of pride.  I brought a mirror to class to make the point that in order to overcome pride, we had to be able to identify it, then we had to be willing to look for the pride in ourselves before looking for it in others. We can't overcome what we don't acknowledge.  
What is beautiful about the Book of Mormon is that it not only identifies and defines pride in the Nephite people, but the solution to overcoming it is given as well.  1.The two groups in the Book of Mormon that seemed to have the greatest difficulty with PRIDE are "the learned, and the rich." (2 Ne. 28:15)   In several chapters previous to this, Jacob teaches that " be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God." (2 Ne. 9:29).  2.  He addresses the rich by stating, "Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.  But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God." (Jacob 2:17-18)  
The application of this to ourselves is key!  The Book of Mormon was written for us to bring us closer to Jesus Christ through his teachings. We overcome the world by becoming like him.  The Book of Mormon also shows us how to overcome the struggles the Nephites/Lamanites had in common with us.   If we can implement the teachings of Jesus Christ in this book, we will be able to sidestep a similar destruction. 
President Benson concludes his talk by stating, "God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble. Alma said, “Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.” (Alma 32:16.)

Let us choose to be humble.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tender Hearts Discovered Through Tardy Make-ups

Students roll into seminary, and sometimes they're late. It's going to happen.  I've tried to come up with a fair way for them to do tardy make-ups.  So far, this has worked for me over the last several years.

1.  I collect each student's e-mail address at the beginning of the year. 

2. I send them each an e-mail to make sure I have the correct e-mail address.

3.  I put them in an e-mail group in my address book online.

4.  For every day that I have a lesson, I send them a group e-mail (BCC) with 3 questions from the lesson.   I call them my "3 Seminary Questions", followed by the date.

5.  In order to get credit for a tardy, they must answer at least one question correctly and send it back to me through e-mail.  Since I send 3 questions/day, they have an opportunity to get credit for 3 tardies at one time.   They cannot "bank" their tardies past a week, so whatever questions they answer correctly beyond what they need gets translated into Mormon Money (a money reward system we use in class).  

What's nice for me is that I can see, from their responses, who was listening and who wasn't.  Or even better, whether what I've taught was clear or unclear.  If I was unclear, then I know that I need to work harder as a teacher to articulate my thoughts and teach differently.  If I was clear, then I know how to continue.  Sometimes students answer the questions with simple answers, and others have been known to write paragraphs.  It's completely up to them. 

For those students who attend seminary on time, they can simply delete the e-mail when they receive it, or answer the questions to earn Mormon Money.

You can see that this takes some time to maintain and be consistent.  I haven't had a problem with maintenance, so far.  What I enjoy the most are reading the responses.  There are times when I can "see in their heart" with their honest answers.  I have found class comedians, poets, book-writers, and students with wild imaginations in reading these responses.  Some of their "talents" would never have been discovered had I not given them the chance to express themselves in this way.  So....................this is what works for me.

Here are my questions from today's lesson in 2 Nephi 28:

1. In 2 Nephi 28:4-9, there are several false teachings Nephi mentions would be present in the last days. Name two.

2. How could being aware of these false teachings be helpful to us? How do we know they're false?

3. In the short movie we watched today, President Boyd K. Packer compared the dangers of Satan to us, with the dangers of a crocodile to other animals in the wild. How were the other animals fooled (especially the young) to get close enough to the crocodile? ...And give me an example of how that could be us?

Monday, October 5, 2009

From a teacher of the RISING GENERATION...

Impressive.   My youth were very expressive about what they learned this past weekend while listening to General Conference.  I am happy to see that they have a passion about it.  Again, not my experience as a youth. I always find it so interesting to listen to them.  I don't think I'm that old, or that different from them.  But apparently I am.  They always have such an interesting perspective that I don't see until they share it with me.  That's part of the excitement of teaching youth.   This RISING GENERATION just knows so much more than my generation did when we were that age.  Progress; thank goodness. 

This is what they heard:

Elder Holland's talk made the biggest impression on them.  Read the Book of Mormon, treasure it to avoid being deceived by Satan. Read it, know it, testify of it.   Joseph Smith was a true prophet. Elder Holland's testimony was bold and amazing.  (This is one talk they'll never forget.)

Love Family - Need to be more loving to each other, tell your family you love them and show them, teach your family the doctrine, teach them good morals, talk to one another, be kinder.

Love God - Be loyal to him, know who he is, keep his commandments, pray often.

Love Others - Look for ways of serving, "warm fuzzies", take care of those who have less, lose yourself in serving others.

Anger - Anger doesn't solve anything, patience, can't feel the Spirit when you're angry.

Missionary work - Now is the time to prepare, be worthy, learn so we can teach, gospel must be spread throughout the rest of the world.

Heart - Need to soften our heart by reading the scriptures, praying, keeping the commandments, partaking of the sacrament every week.  Don't be casual.  Being casual turns your heart to stone.  Holy Ghost can't dwell in your heart if it's hard.

I have a great class.  I am happy they are willing to open their mouths and share their thoughts and what was important to them.  An experience like watching General Conference simultaneously brings us closer from hearing the messages at the same time.  The Spirit is able to touch us all in a given moment even if we are miles apart.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Getting Revvvvvvvvved up for General Conference!

When I was little, my father would pick me up out of bed, blankets and all, plop me on the couch, and turn on the t.v. at 6:00 a.m. on the Sunday of General Conference.   I grew up in Hawaii (Pacific Standard Time - 4 hours behind Utah) and there wasn't a way to record the sessions back then.  Darn.  I didn't see the point of me having to lie there on the couch on those mornings. General Conference just couldn't keep my attention longer than 15 seconds at a time.  The speakers all seemed the same.  All wearing suits and ties, elderly, and I remember them speaking VERY SLOWLY.   
At the time, I didn't appreciate my dad and what he was doing.   Well, my dad turned out to be my hero and example. I have tremendous gratitude for his stalwart testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He taught me what I SHOULD be doing out of obedience even if it was hard for me.   The understanding and wisdom came later, as well as the testimony.   Today, I have come to crave General Conference.  I listen to every speaker and it's somewhat depressing at the end of the weekend to think I have to wait another 6 months before I can get my "spiritual bucket" filled again. 

As I spoke to my seminary class this morning about preparation for General Conference, I could tell that there were some who already had the excitement and positive anticipation for it.  I hoped to make it clear to them how important it was to me.  If they ever seek to know why I feel the way I do, then perhaps they will attempt to know for themselves through prayer.  
I asked each of them to sign up to report back to the class on 2 speakers over the whole conference.  Monday's lesson will be comprised of thoughts, impressions, information, and inspirational messages from them.  I appreciate the ability we have to access the talks online through   I shared that with the class so they could refer to this website if they wanted to review any of the talks.   I, of course, will watch ALL of the sessions (except the Priesthood session), and try to tie some messages together to share my testimony with them on Monday.    I'm looking forward to an amazing weekend.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Having a "Nerf" BLAST with Scripture Mastery

This Nerf gun is the funnest Scripture Mastery prop I have ever used.  I bought a few of these last year to play with my class and we never EVER got tired of using them to test ourselves on how well we knew our Scripture Mastery.  I laminated twenty-five 8-1/2" x 11" pictures on cardstock of each SM.  I also laminated twenty-five corresponding cards with only the references on them.  And I did the same for the key words.  So that is seventy-five cards total.    As we learned each SM, I'd use these flash cards to test them.   Then at the end of a day where we're concentrating on SM, I tape the cards to the chalk board and set up a few chairs facing the board.  Each shooter has a Nerf gun with several darts.  I bought darts of different colors so we could differentiate which shooter they came from.   The fun starts when I ask for something specific and they have to shoot at the correct card.  The first one whose suction dart sticks to the card, is the winner of that round.  I'll say: "I'm looking for the key words that go with the reference __________."  Then they know they're shooting at the cards with the key words.  Or I'll begin by saying, "I'm looking for the picture for this scripture." And I'll start reading the actual scripture.  The first one whose dart sticks on the correct card is the winner of that round.   They take turns and play as a devotional group or another organized group we've planned ahead of time.   
The fun comes when you see how aiming at the target isn't as easy as it looks.  Also, just because you know the answer doesn't mean you have the fastest gun.   And.......sometimes you'll  know the answer, you'll have the faster gun, but your dart doesn't stick like you wanted it to.   It's tons of fun.   At first I was wondering whether I was encouraging violence in seminary.  I've gotten over that thought a long time ago.  If this is how we bond as a class, then I'll get EVERYONE a Nerf gun!  'Going to play it tomorrow.  We know 8 SM very well at this point in the year.  I'll put up the 24 cards and we'll get to know them even better. 

Nephi: Too Much GOOD to keep up with!

Well, it's the beginning of the seminary year and I'm already behind in logging in my thoughts, impressions, and lessons.   I'm licking my wounds and moving on. 

My seminary class is at the end of 2 NEPHI and we're approaching Jacob quickly.  Here are some thoughts I have about NEPHI. 
Like Moses, I noticed NEPHI isn't too complimentary of himself (even though we're very aware of the incredible man he is).   His humility shows quite frequently as he writes about his weaknesses.  I've shared with my class that we all want to identify with NEPHI, but realistically, we're more like LAMAN & LEMUEL than we want to admit.  It is my impression that this is why he writes about them so much.  It is our challenge to overcome the faults of LAMAN & LEMUEL in ourselves.  Once we identify what those things are (pride, selfishness, physical comfort, lack of commitment to the Lord, love of the world, greed, etc.), and then admit that we have those things, then we can work on ridding ourselves of what will hold us back from receiving the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

NEPHI is very repetitious, THANK GOODNESS.   He speaks often of the condition of our hearts.   He tells us what will soften our hearts.  You can see a process occuring in NEPHI of gaining understanding from the Lord of the Lord's will.  As NEPHI is obedient, he begins to open himself to what the Lord wants and those turn into his own personal desires as well.  NEPHI begins to become as the Savior is.  NEPHI cannot NOT be obedient to the Lord.   In his very last words to us, he says: "For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen."   (2 Ne. 33:15) He MUST obey because he is in full acceptance of the Lord's way.  To do otherwise would to go against all he knows to be true.

There is a digression occurring with LAMAN & LEMUEL because of their complaining and insincere repentance.  They continue to harden their hearts to the point that only the power of God can soften them (1 Ne. 18:20). They are no longer sure of what they know (loss of their testimony), they are reluctant to listen to their younger brother NEPHI for direction because they don't believe he's being directed by the Lord.  There is also pride mixed up in their rejection of NEPHI.
The most noticeable difference in them was made apparent to me once NEPHI took the Lord's faithful followers away from LAMAN & LEMUEL.   In 2 Nephi 5, NEPHI takes his people (those who believe in the Lord and his revelations) and separates them from the influence of evil.  He builds a temple and teaches his people to be obedient to the commandments of God.  When they keep the Lord's commandments, they prosper in the land.  Those left behind with LAMAN & LEMUEL, then are left with a curse (being cut off from the presence of the Lord - 2 Ne. 5:20), a sign of that curse (a skin of blackness - 2 Ne. 5:21), and the result of that curse (became an idle people, full of mischief - 2 Ne. 5: 24).
NEPHI teaches us so much more.....I'll have to stop in later and share what else made an impression on me!