Friday, May 28, 2010

Moroni's Last Words

I have completed the year!  My seniors have had their last day of seminary for the rest of their lives (until they're called to be seminary teachers)! I have 14 seniors graduating this year, and I am so proud of them.  I wasn't too diligent with blogging my lessons toward the end.   But here are my last thoughts for the book of Moroni.

 As I was reading the book of Moroni, I noticed that the entire book had a theme; the Holy Ghost.  Chapters 2-6 are instructions on how to operate and organize the church.  Basic church ordinances are mentioned, and they are all to be performed by the power of the Holy Ghost or in preparation to receiving the Holy Ghost.  Chapters 7-8 give us direction on how to discern good from evil by the Spirit of Christ.  Each of us is born with the light of Christ.  By following this light, we can be led to lay hold upon every good thing, which good cometh of Christ. We're also taught to exercise faith, hope, and charity, and how those things bring the Holy Ghost to dwell with us continually. 

In contrast to the previous chapters, Chapter 9 shows us what happens to a society of people who no longer have the Spirit to dwell with them after being a Zion people.  This chapter probably hit me the hardest.  Mormon is describing a people (the Nephites) who have degenerated to canibalism, hatred, family abuse, sexual offenses, perversion, murder, and torture.  They are without civilization and are "past feeling".  They are beyond being affected by the Holy Ghost

In Moroni 10:4-5 (one of our Scripture Masteries this year), Moroni promises us that if we read the Book of Mormon and ponder the words we read in our hearts, God will manifest the truth of the book to us by the power of the Holy Ghost.  We must specifically ask Him if it's true.  We must be sincere and have true intentions to act upon what we have read (which is an exertion of our faith).   Because the Book of Mormon IS TRUE, our faith will access this power!  That's a promise from a prophet of the Lord, who is the keyholder of the record of the Stick of Ephraim.  Moroni was the principle figure in the transmission of the record to this dispensation, and the protector of this record.   
I prefer my class work through their impressions and figure things out on their own rather than me feeding them my thoughts.   So I asked my class, "Why do you think the Book of Mormon ends with so much emphasis on the Holy Ghost?"   Here are a few of their answers:

* It's really important, in these last days, for us to discern what is true from what is not, and that will be taught to us by the Holy Ghost
* By qualifying for the presence of the Holy Ghost, it protects us from becoming hardened, so we don't become like the Nephites and Jaredites.
* The Holy Ghost keeps us from being deceived by Satan.  Sometimes what looks good to our eyes is deceiving.  If we listen to the Holy Ghost with our hearts, regardless of what "looks" good, we will always be led to good.
* The Holy Ghost will teach us the truths in the Book of Mormon, which was written for us.  We don't always understand everything we read in the Book of Mormon, but if we keep the Holy Ghost with us, He will keep teaching us new things as we are ready to learn.
* Moroni knows that we need the Holy Ghost, more than anything, to bring us to Christ.

It was pretty profound for them to realize how important Moroni's last words were to them.  I'm so proud of this class.  They have progressed through the year beautifully.  They've grown to think for themselves and apply the principles of the gospel to their every day lives.  They've learned to sift through the scriptures for what's important and to "see" more clearly.  I'll miss them and seminary in general.  Class, I love you and wish you all the best!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's All About the Land!

The more I read the Book of Mormon, the more I recognize how the Lord requires the inhabitants of this highly coveted Promised Land to be worthy of it's possession.  This free land has been preserved for a righteous people for a specific purpose.  The work of the gathering of Israel was meant to originate from this land in the latter-days, and the freedom of this land must be protected.  The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ occurred on this land.   Records of the early inhabitants of this land were buried in this soil.  The Lord requires us to serve Him while on this soil, or be swept off of it.  The Book of Mormon contains a record of two groups of people who were swept from this land because of their refusal to worship God.  

Today we discussed the sad scene at the end of the book of Ether of a king named Coriantumr.  He has been educated on the "arts of war and all the cunning of the world" (Ether 13:16).  He refuses to repent of his worldly ways, and so do his people.  Secret combinations are prevalent everywhere, war is continual, and many lives have been lost.   The prophet Ether has been sent to Coriantumr and warns him that: "if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people— Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr."  

As recorded in Omni 1:21, Coriantumr did, in fact, live to see another people (Nephites & Lamanites) receive this Promised Land as their inheritance.  The priviledge was taken from the Jaredites.  Coriantumr's pride to be the most powerful, worldly king overshadowed his judgment to honor the land and the God who blessed him with it.

The Book of Mormon has made me more aware of the land I live on.  The Lord gave the Children of Israel the land of Canaan as their inheritance if they would worship Him.  They were scattered from it because of their wickedness.  There are priviledges associated with honoring God on the land He's given us.  The land doesn't come free of obligation.  He needs us to serve Him and build the kingdom of God on the earth.  Our blessings come through the land.  Our prosperity is revealed through prospering with the growth of families and relationships on the land.  As the righteous gather, they are required to build temples, make covenants, and receive instruction on how to rise above worldliness and become more like Him, with the promise of exaltation to follow.

Something I learned, and something to ponder.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Seeking the Savior

Today I let the natural man take over.  Before class, I hid several dollars worth of money in bills and coins throughout the classroom.  I hid them under shelves, under chairs, on the side of picture frames, under the piano bench, under my ipod dock, over the chalkboard; everywhere.  I wrote the word "SEEK" on the chalkboard, and told them they had 5 minutes to scour the room for as much money as they could find.   And yes, they could keep what they found.  (I spend more on them buying them a box of donuts than I did on this lesson.)  I can never predict what they are going to do with these object lessons, so I watched and observed them as they were busy searching.

My observations:
- The students who usually fall asleep were up on their feet.
- One of my quiet boys, I discovered, is a chatterbox.
- One young lady found a dollar bill and sat down.
- One young man got discouraged after finding a dime and sat down.
- 5 students didn't leave their seat ("Mormons do too many object lessons").
- Everyone who looked for money found something, even if it was just a penny.
- The longer they looked, the more they found.
- After the 5 minutes were up, I revealed another 75 cents they hadn't found.

In Ether 12, the prophet Ether teaches us so beautifully about FAITH and HOPE (an expectation of something in the future); and not just faith itself, but faith in God and His power to bless us.  Moroni adds his own testimony on faith to Ether's in our Scripture Mastery verse Ether 12:6: "And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."  Moroni then shows us that Christ SHOWED HIMSELF to MANY PEOPLE, including the Nephites at the Bountiful temple, because of their faith.  It was their faith that allowed them to see Him.  There had to be a point where they SOUGHT AFTER HIM in order to have Him manifested unto them. 

Moroni himself then tells us at the end of the chapter, "And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things; And only a few have I written, because of my weakness in writing.  And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever." (Ether 12:39-41)

Moroni has challenged us to SEEK HIM.  How do we go about doing that?  That's where our object lesson comes in.  My question to the class was, "What did it take to SEEK and find the money in the room?" 

Some points they brought up were:
-They knew me and that I wouldn't lie to them so they KNEW the money was there, somewhere even if they couldn't see it.
-They wanted the money (DESIRE)
-They had to get up off their chairs and move (WORKS)
-They had to KEEP LOOKING (persistence, endurance)

I asked them to apply this to themselves with the money representing a blessing/prompting from the Lord.   Using prayer and scripture study as an example, the young lady that found a dollar bill and sat down might reflect someone who prays for something, receives an answer, and doesn't pray again until she needs to.  One student said this would be someone who reads her scriptures only when forced to in class.  Or perhaps even someone who reads for 10 minutes a day just to say she did it rather than to get a message out of it. 

I asked them what was the difference between that person and someone who took the entire 5 minutes to carefully search every inch of the room for any coin he could get his hands on?   What might that young man be like with regard to his prayers and scripture study?  They shared that his prayers would be more carefully worded.  He would be consistent and more reverent with his prayers. He would take the time to express gratitude and not just ask in this prayers.  His scripture study would involve searching for an answer to his prayers and SEEKing for ways to live more like Christ.  

I shared with them how I prepare to go to the temple. This was my example of SEEKing the Lord.  I told them that before I enter a session, I take a few minutes to pray for the Lord to teach me something.   I don't always go with something specific on my mind.  But I do want to be open to what He has to teach me.  This prayer opens my senses.  I hear better, see better, think better, and I feel more from my experience there.  There have been times where I've left not feeling I had been taught by the Spirit.........only to have an impression come to me days later as a result of my temple experience.  The prayer I have before entering the temple, is an exertion of my FAITH that the Lord CAN and WILL teach me what I need to know.  It is my way of SEEKing Him.

My challenge to my class was to SEEK the Lord throughout their day.  Pay attention to small blessings He grants them through their FAITHfulness.  Acknowledge those blessings in prayer frequently.  Before leaving home for seminary, pray for Him to teach you through the Spirit what you need to hear.   Do the same for Sunday instruction and in sacrament meeting.  Petition to be taught.  I think they'll be amazed at the inspiration and small miracles they are open to receiving if they do this.

In our object lesson today, those who were only looking for dollar bills missed out on all the smaller coins because they weren't looking for them.  There were more smaller coins in the room than there were bills, and the value of the coins exceeded the value of the bills.  There are smaller blessings everywhere if we look for them.  Those who never "get up and look" will never "find". If you "look" daily, you'll "find" daily.   As we notice the blessings in our lives, our FAITH in the Lord's power increases.   Will we be able to receive the "larger" blessings, like the one Moroni had in seeing the Lord face to face?   I believe it's possible, if it's the Lord's will.  But we won't if that's all we look for.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Destined to Meet

Today we covered a small chapter in the book of Ether.  Chapter 5 left an impression on me.  Moroni speaks directly to Joseph Smith and gives him a bit of instruction.  He also eases his heart.  The instruction was that Joseph Smith was not to touch the sealed part of the golden plates once he had them in his possession.  But he would be able to show the plates to people who would testify of what they saw.  "And behold, ye may be privileged that ye may show the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth this work; And unto three shall they be shown by the power of God; wherefore they shall know of a surety that these things are true."  (Ether 5:2-3) Up until this point in his translation of the plates, he had not been allowed to show them to anyone, thus carrying a tremendous burden by himself.  Reading, and translating, these words must have eased this burden for him. 

The eight witnesses, whose testimonies are in the front of each Book of Mormon, testified that they had seen, felt, and held the plates, therefore being physical witnesses. 

The three witnesses (this picture shows Joseph Smith with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer with the angel......Martin Harris separated from them at this time),  testified: "And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true."  These three men received a spiritual manifestation of them and were spiritual witnesses.

Moroni also tells Joseph Smith that the Book of Mormon will stand as a true testimony against the world at the last day.  The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost bear record of the truthfulness of it, and Moroni also bears record of the same.  Powerful stuff.  Joseph must have felt a great priviledge, responsibility, weight on his shoulders, and importance of the work of translating these plates, all at the same time.  But what a relief he must have felt having the support and guidance of these "beings" in his calling as prophet.

This chapter made me sit and wonder what it must have been like for both of these men, who were destined to meet.  This message was from one prophet/editor/compiler to one prophet/translator who were separated by centuries of time, yet working on the same "project".  They would meet, and one (as a resurrected being) would be a mentor to the other.  Moroni possessed the keys of the record of the Stick of Ephraim (D&C 27:5)  He was assigned to oversee the work.  He would groom Joseph Smith over years of teaching to understand the importance of his role in the restoration of the gospel and the translation of the tool which would be used to gather Israel in the last days. 

What a great chapter! 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Scriptures = Parenting 101

Today, as we studied Ether 2, I couldn't help but share with the class some thoughts from my viewpoint as a parent. (I want the parents to know that I always plead their case and cheer for them in my lessons to their youth!!!)   I find it so fascinating to learn about the feelings of the Lord through being a mom.  I feel I am growing closer to Him by reading about how he deals with "His children" in the scriptures.  I feel what He feels. This photo of my 4 daughters was taken 7 years ago.  The oldest is almost 23 now, and the youngest is 12.   They're all so different.   I love each one!   My parenting has been individualized towards each separate spirit/personality.  What works for one doesn't work exactly for another.   My comments to my class about my daughters were that the Lord also deals with us on an individual basis.  None of us are the same.  He gives each of us the opportunity to discover what we are capable of doing by seeing us through our adversity. He knows us from the pre-mortal existence, thus knows our strengths before we can discover them here on earth.  We've forgotten, but He hasn't.   In Ether 2, we are able to see how the Lord answers prayers for the Brother of Jared according to his abilities and needs, and according to the Lord's will.  

In Ether 2, the Lord gives the Brother of Jared specific instructions on how to build the barges which will take them to the land of promise.  He follows the Lord's instructions, exactly.  But now that the barges are built, there are three challenges to overcome: How will they breathe, steer, and have light in the barges while they are in them?  "And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish." (Ether 2:19) Interesting that the Lord has him build these barges with the problems built into them too.  It is a part of the Lord's design for the Brother of Jared to inquire of the Lord and petition for His help.  What the Lord is really doing is requiring the Brother of Jared to qualify himself spiritually so that through his faith, the Lord can use His power to help him. 

The Lord answers the Brother of Jared with 3 different responses which show us just how the Lord answers prayers.  (Ether 2:20-25)

PROBLEM #1: No air in the barges.          
SOLUTION: Make a hole in the top and bottom (tells him exactly what to do).

PROBLEM #2: Can't steer.
SOLUTION: "I will bring you...." (requires him to trust Him and in his power to deliver them).

PROBLEM #3: No light.
SOLUTION: "What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?" (wants him to work on his own for the answer of how the Lord can use His power to help him).

The reason I thought of my own daughters when I was preparing this lesson was because I can see the Lord's intent in having the Brother of Jared grow through this experience.  He's showing the Brother of Jared what he can do for himself and by himself.  There are times when I want to do everything for my daughters to help them.  But having them reason their way through situations on their own first, strengthens them.  I gauge their abilities to handle situations, and then help them with what they are incapable of doing themselves.  Sometimes they surprise themselves!  In the process of maturing, they learn more about themselves than they would have if I had done it for them.  The ideal situation is for them to lean less on me, and lean more on our Heavenly Father.  We, as parents, serve our children best by pointing them to Him as the real source of help and strength.  We won't always be around to help them, but He will.

The Lord answers our prayers according to our faith.  Sometimes He tells us exactly what needs to be done, sometimes He will take care of our needs and requires our trust to do so, and other times we're left to do further work on our own before He can help us.  We have the promise of the confirmation in our heart from the Holy Ghost if our choice is according to the Lord's will, and an absence of that feeling if it is not.  I see the Lord's wisdom in the eternal plan for us to become parents.  We see a glimpse of what it's like to see through his eyes.   What a gift.

Scriptures = Parenting 101

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sister Wright's Feeling Lazy

I have been so lazy with this blog lately. I cruised through Mormon with my class. I found Mormon to be a sad, but necessary, book to cover. We're in Ether right now. I see the parallel and the purpose behind the insertion of this book at the end of the Book of Mormon. If I find the energy, I'll blog about tomorrow's lesson in Ether 2. I have a good point to make in our lesson. 'Hoping the Spirit will help me get that point across to them.

I have been spending at least 10 minutes each day with my class preparing for our annual Scripture Olympics. This activity is for all the youth in our stake that are enrolled in seminary. We compete as classes.  We review Scripture Mastery for the year and although it's meant to be fun, there are those of us who are competitive by nature who will not settle for anything but WINNING. Win or go home! Argggggg! I've been working on memorizing all 25 SM with my class, but I have to say, the Book of Mormon SM are the hardest of all 4 years.  It's hard work but worth every ounce of energy.

Just wanted to let y'all know that the lazy in me has prevailed, but I'll catch my second wind and be back to blogging my lessons soon.  I'll be concluding my blog this month.  This is my last year teaching seminary.  It has been quite a journey.  It's true.  The teacher always learns the most.  Very true. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Unique Book of Mormon Storyline/Timeline

My Book of Mormon seminary year is almost over and I'll be taking down my boards in the classroom in about 4-5 weeks.  I thought I'd take my camera to class today and take a picture of this before I take it down.  My CES Director passed along this storyline/timeline to us.  The idea came from a seminary teacher, but I don't know who she is.   I drew out this timeline with a Sharpie marker with my own icons and in a way that made sense to me, laminated it, and stapled it to my rolling bulletin board for reference throughout the year.  THIS HAS BEEN SO HELPFUL!  We refer to it frequently.  It helps us to remember what we've studied, and also what to look forward to in upcoming chapters.

It starts on the left and moves to the right.  We begin in Jerusalem ("J" with the castle wall) in 600 B.C., and the "zig-zag" is Lehi's journey in the wilderness for 8 years. The "r.i.p." is for Ishmael who dies before they get on Nephi's boat and sail to the Promised Land. The next "r.i.p" is for Lehi who dies before "Nephi & Co." settle in the land of Nephi ("N" with the castle wall) after a separation from Laman and Lemuel. That places us roughly around 2 Nephi 5.

The "Z" at the top of the timeline stands for Zarahemla. There are 3 kings who reside in Zarahemla (Mosiah I, Benjamin, and Mosiah II), and 3 kings who end up in the land of Nephi (Zeniff, Noah, and Limhi). The kings are represented by the crowns.) Zeniff's people travelled to the land of Nephi and ended up being in bondage to the Lamanites until Limhi's people were brought back to Zarahemla, thus the "squiggly lines". This takes us to the end of the Book of Mosiah.

 The "r.i.p" after the kings is for the death of King Mosiah II.  He was the last king before they switched to a system of judges, which explains the "no kings" and "gavel" icons.  During that period, we have the 4 sons of Mosiah doing missionary work with the Lamanites in the land of Nephi for 14 years, and concurrently we have Alma (the younger) and Amulek on a mission to re-activate saints in the Land of Zarahemla.  This leads us up to Alma 42.

The flag with the "T" represents Captain Moroni's Title of Liberty.  The "2000" shield represents Helaman's Stripling Warriors, and the stick figure standing on a wall being shot at with stones and arrows represents Samuel the Lamanite.  That takes us through to the end of the Book of Helaman.  The resurrected Christ visits the Nephites (3 Nephi), 200 years of peace (4 Nephi), Mormon and Moroni fight for their lives (Mormon), and the end of the record leaves us at 421 A.D. (Moroni).  I didn't include the Book of Ether, which is placed between Mormon and Moroni, because those events happened centuries before and not on this timeline.

I am a visual learner and it helps for me to see something like this drawn out for reference.  I photocopied all of these icons, reduced them in size, and cut them up.  I gave each student in my class a miniature version of this storyline/timeline in a plastic bag.  Periodically I hide my bulletin board and I have them take their timeline pieces out and put them in order from 600 B.C. through 421 A.D.  It's good review and I KNOW IT HELPS THEM!!!  Again, this timeline wasn't my idea, but I sure love it.  I'm happy to share my version with you if it helps you to better understand the events in Book of Mormon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Disintegration of Zion

Most of the youth in my class attend Murrieta Valley High School.  One is home-schooled and one attends a private school in the neighboring city of Temecula.  For most of them, Murrieta Valley High is their little world.  In preparation for discussion for 4 Nephi, I decided to ask them about the different "groups/cliques" at the school.  As they named the groups, I wrote them on the board and asked for some detail on them.  Some were distinguished by ethnicity and I wanted to be clear that there was no offense meant nor taken in us identifying them by their race.  They assured me that this is just what they're called and known as, and they even call themselves by these names.
Some are separated by interests/clubs:
 - Drama kids
 - Athletes, "jocks", also separated by sport (track, football, basketball, tennis, etc.)
 - Choir kids
 - ASB
 - Band kids
 - Mormons
 - Skaters
 - Hacky Sackers
 - (Surfers are never in school, which I thought was funny...)
 - Geeks (those who enjoy computers)
 - Freshmen
 - Classroom sitters
 - and many more........

Some are separated by their appearance/culture:
 - Mexicans
 - Asians
 - African Americans
 - (no White groups, I noticed...)
 - Emo's

Then you have a few groups which I will not mention by name, but let's just call them "standards offenders" (moral and Word of Wisdom). The groups listed above are just some of the ones mentioned today.  My class told me that each group has a small section of the school designated as their "area/territory/home-base".  It's a "safe" location each group can count on finding their clique. I wanted to know how these groups interacted with one another.  How do they get along or don't get along?  I asked if any of the groups "bully" other groups.  They pointed out a few, but generally, the groups leave each other alone.  I asked if any of the groups are found to be "victims of bullying".  Again, they named a few.  (A little contradiction, there.)

I wanted to know what they thought could be done to unify these groups.  One student who is involved with ASB mentioned that this is the goal of ASB; they work to dissolve the social (and sometimes physical) barriers to unify the school.  I asked them to imagine what it would be like to have a school without social barriers.  I also wanted to know from them what could be done to change the current environment at their school.  They said that first of all, it would be "weird".  They are comfortable with the way things are.  They like that they can go to a location at the school and find people with similar interests. (I agree on that.)  But there are hundreds of students they don't know and probably never will while they attend this school because of this.  Each group has an opinion of "who is better than who"; class distinction.   They agreed that in order for the barriers to come down, everyone would need to WANT to cooperate.  It would require effort from EVERYONE, and EVERYONE would need to see the NEED FOR IT. 

In 4th Nephi, Mormon condenses roughly 287 years of history into one book which spans 4 pages.  That averages out to about 72 years per page.  And the 287 years is just over 1/3 of the length of time that the Book of Mormon covers.  He's making clear what he wants us to see, which is the disintegration of a Zion society based on the Gospel of Christ, to a society of hate and deceit under the power of Satan.  From verses 1-18, Mormon describes what a Zion society is; there was approx. 200 of peace.  The rest of the book of 4 Nephi, shown in the remaining 31 verses, is a series of steps taken by the people which led them away from the Church, the Spirit, and from Christ and His gospel; a disintegration of Zion.  Everyone once considered themselves as "children of Christ."  Over time, they developed into a group of "-ites"; Lamanites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, and Nephites.   Somewhere along the line, someone chose to put "self" before "others". Class distinction. Pride. Rebellion from God.

I challenged my class to have the attitude of living a "higher law" at school.   I wanted them to simply be aware of the cliques at school and to be someone who could move outside their own comfort zone; open their eyes to the possibility of getting to know others regardless of which "group" they belonged to.  We are"children of Christ."  We represent Him and even if we can't create a Zion on our own, we can have the attitude of a Zion people and open ourselves to welcoming all as Christ would. 

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:  "Family members bear the family name; by it they are known and called and identified; it sets them apart from all those of a different lineage and ancestry...and so it is that the children of Christ, those who are born again, those who are spiritually begotten by their new Father, take upon themselves the name of Christ. By it they are identifies them and sets them apart from all others. They are now family members, Christians in the real and true sense of the word. They do carry his name and are obligated to bear it in decency and dignity. No taint of shame or disgrace, no sliver of dishonor must ever be permitted to attach itself to that name...the saints of God must remember who they are and act accordingly. "The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ" (1978), p 363.

Being "children of Christ" is a separation of ourselves from the world of some sort. But it's an ALL-INCLUSIVE group! All are welcome.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Game Show Friday

This is one of the game shows I used to watch as a kid.  I found a great idea online from another seminary teacher using the concept of this game to teach 3 Nephi 28.  I usually have to take these online ideas and morph them to accomodate my class size and personalities.  What we re-named "Seminary Student Squares" turned out to be a great way to learn this chapter.  I have to admit, we're all pretty wiped out by the time Fridays roll around.  This game was a welcome change from the norm.....

I set up one of our long seminary tables at the front of the room.  In front of that, I set up 3 classroom chairs, and in front of that, I set up 3 little children's chairs. (I teach in the Primary room, so the little chairs are readily available.)  I had 3 students sit on the table, 3 in the regular chairs, and 3 on the Primary chairs so they formed a slant downward facing the rest of the class.  Those were our "celebrities" who would form our Tic-Tac-Toe grid.  The other students were separated into two groups; "X's" and "O's".  They worked in these two groups to be our "contestants".

I started class by having them all read 3 Nephi 28:2-9.  When they were finished, we started Round 1.  I had 9 "celebrities" move into the Tic-Tac-Toe grid, I handed them the list of 10 questions AND answers from the scripture block, and we started the game.  I gave them the questions so they would be prepared for what I would ask, and I gave them the answers so they could think of an alternate answer just in case they wanted to fool the "contestants".  The "X's" began by choosing a "celebrity" in the grid.  I'd ask that person a question.  He/she would answer the question with a true answer, or an answer they made up.   The "contestant" would either AGREE or DISAGREE with their answer (based on their knowledge of the scripture block they just read), and we'd give the "celebrity" either an "X" or an "O" to hold based on whether their answer was right or not.  This ended up being tons of fun, and in between questions, we were able to discuss details of the chapter. 

We continued the game playing a total of 3 rounds, covering the entire chapter.   We actually brought out quite a bit of lesson material about the twelve Nephite disciples/apostles, the three Nephites, and translated beings.  This account is quite fascinating.   We discussed the blessings which were given to these men, and what was so special about the desire the three Nephites had that they would be promised eternal life.  We discussed the difference between tranfiguration and translation, and I discounted every strange and weird rumor/speculation they had heard about the three Nephites.   Hahaha. 

I know how hard it is to get up early each day to come to seminary.  It's a sacrifice for everyone.  But one which brings blessings.  With that in mind, I don't believe in wasting their time by just playing games at seminary.  I promised my class that I would always have something significant to teach them, even on a game day.  Today was no exception.  I left seminary with a great feeling that they had learned the material in a fun and unique way.   I believe the youth need to relax and PLAY together as a part of growing close to one another.  Personalities come out, shyness disappears, laughter wakes us up, competitiveness turns to fun, and memories are shared of a fun time with good people. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Milk or Meat?"

I brought a glass of milk and some beef jerky on a plate to class today and put them side by side.   We discussed what we would be able to ingest if we had or didn't have teeth.  The milk goes down easier and it is easier to digest (if you're not lactose intollerant).  No teeth necessary. The jerky has more flavor, is more filling, and sustains you longer, but it would be a struggle to ingest without teeth.

3 Nephi 26 is so fascinating to read.  I love hearing Mormon's little inserts in his writings here and there in the Book of Mormon.  He is abridging some amazing things in this account of the Savior's visit to America and wants to share ALL of it with us.  He's commanded not to because we (the readers of the Book of Mormon) are not ready for those sacred things yet.  We don't have the teeth to read them yet.  Mormon is only able to give us a teeny tiny part.  In verses 6-8, he says: "And now there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people; But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he taught the people. And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, from the Gentiles, according to the words which Jesus hath spoken."

In verses 9-12, the reason these treasures of knowledge are being held back from us are explained: "And when they shall have received this (the Book of Mormon), which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them. And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation. Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people. Therefore I, Mormon, do write the things which have been commanded me of the Lord. And now I, Mormon, make an end of my sayings, and proceed to write the things which have been commanded me."  Our faith isn't sufficient yet to receive those "greater things".  We discussed in class what it would take for us to grow the teeth necessary to receive those "greater things" we're withheld from reading. 

Someone in class said that we probably wouldn't understand those "greater things" if they were included; we'd set them aside as unimportant.  Most of us wouldn't be able to distinguish sacred from unsacred.  Another said that we should have to earn the study-time with what we have before we are given more.  THAT'S FAITH!!!  Study + DOING = teeth.  I have a brilliant class. 
As a whole, our faith isn't sufficient.....................yet.  Currently, we're not DOING what's commanded of us as revealed in the Book of Mormon.  "Faith without works is dead."  The DOING shows our faith.   If we aren't willing to do the simple things (milk), then why should we be given the bigger things (jerky)? It's part of our earthly test.  We, as a class, didn't think that it would be fair for those who WERE DOING what was commanded, to be withheld from the knowledge of those "greater things".  I don't believe we are.  We receive, through revelation, as we're ready.  Those who do put in the time and effort into studying the Book of Mormon will receive as they live what they read.  I believe God reveals those sacred things to us as we exert our faith and grow those teeth necessary to chomp on the jerky!  "Line upon line, precept upon precept."

The lesson originally called for me to bring a steak to class and set it next to the milk.  Hahaha.  I'm a devoted seminary teacher, but.................umm, no. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Broken Heart.....

 I was contemplating what a "broken heart" was, and I thought of Harley.

 Isn't he beautiful?  We adopted Harley a few years ago.  Our family absolutely LOVES this dog!  When he came to our home, he was an escape artist.  He could dig or chew his way out of our yard fairly easily.  We have other dachshunds but we've never had to secure the perimeter of our property from escape like we've had to for Harley.  After some major fortifications, we re-introduced him to the boundaries of our home/yard, and made him certain of our expectations of him.   He came to trust us and, over time, has become willing to observe and respect our boundaries.  He finally came to a point where he stopped trying to escape.  I saw his "rebellion" as insecurity and distrust.  Now that he is sure of how much we love him and care for his safety, Harley has become submissive, tame, loving, trusting, and willing to be led.  He lets us care for him and love him.  Because of the change I observed in Harley, he is what I thought of when I considered what a "broken heart" might be.

We, as God's children, are like Harley.  The more we come to know God (scripture study & prayer), the easier it is for us to understand our relationship to Him and become submissive to His will.  He has a tremendous love for each of us and only has our best interests at heart.  His commandments are our boundaries, which are for our safety and are to teach us discipline as we progess to become like Him.  Today in seminary, we discussed the sacrament.  In 3 Nephi 18, the Savior institutes the sacrament with the Nephites.  Because he has fulfilled the Law of Moses, they no longer are required to offer animal sacrifices but are required to offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit when they partake of the sacrament.   I showed my class this movie clip from the Old Testament seminary year.....


When we understand what a broken heart and a contrite spirit is, then we can focus on presenting that offering to him each week in sacrament meeting.  It means letting go of our will in exchange for His, being submissive to Him and allowing Him to lead us by our faith in Him.  It means being continually repentant, softened, humbled.   Being truly repentant means godly sorrow for our sins to the point where we no longer want to take them up again.  As we partake of the emblems of the sacrament, we recommit ourselves to keep the Lord's commandments, remember Him always, and take upon us His name.  He promises to give us His Spirit to stay with us.  With the Savior's sacrifice on our minds in sacrament meeting, we are brought into a state of humility and understand of our dependence on Him for our salvation. Gratitude.

There is so much more to the sacrament to be said.  So much I'm leaving out.  Trust me, I had a STACK of notes that I took with me to class on how to teach the sacrament to my class.  I decided to linger on the topic of the broken heart and contrite spirit and take a chance (or follow the Spirit) that this was what they needed to hear.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Preparation Precedes POWER!

"The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life." Sister Julie B. Beck, General Conference Apr. 2010

I obviously have General Conference on the brain.   Every lesson I prepare can be supported by a General Conference talk within the last year.   Yesterday it was Elder Christofferson; today it's Sister Beck.  Our lesson today was on how 3 Nephi 17 shows us a pattern on how to receive revelation from God. 

My hope is always that my class will take what they learned in seminary and practice those skills, like in a laboratory, at home or in the real world.  Better yet, hopefully they were taught this stuff at home, it was reinforced in seminary, and THEN they can go out and use it!

In 3 Nephi 17, the resurrected Christ is about to leave the Nephites to show himself to his "other sheep", the lost tribes of Israel.  He has just delivered an information packed, highly spiritual sermon to them.  It was a lot to absorb in one sitting, I'm sure.  He says to them in verse 2, "I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time." (Isn't this exactly like us after listening to 5 sessions of General Conference?)  The Savior gives them a pattern on how to absorb, assimilate, remember, process, and comprehend all that he has said.  They will need the help of the Holy Ghost as they follow these steps...

In verse 3 he says, "Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again." 

It's interesting that he sends them home.  We talked about why he would send them home to start the revelation process.   They were sent back as families to possibly discuss together what they heard.  Family prayer could have been how they chose to exert their faith in receiving revelation.  Maybe that's where the parents were able to further instruct their children within their family stewardship.  We're comforable in our homes.  It was a place of privacy for them. 

In a past post of mine titled, "Keep It Simple", we reviewed the pattern of how one receives his/her own personal revelation and testimony from hearing someone else's.  This pattern that we find in 3 Nephi 17 relates to that.  When truth is being taught, and in this case by the Savior himself, the Holy Ghost is able to teach the recipient through the exertion of their faith.   The pondering, praying, and preparation to receive is one long gesture of faith.  In looking ahead in the Book of Mormon, these Nephites DO REMEMBER all that he teaches.  It stays with them long enough to last through a few generations of a zion people.    This is a pattern for us to receive the "power" through revelation that they received! 

If you've listened to Sister Beck's talk, you'll know that she was addressing the sisters.  But her message is valuable to anyone within the sound of her voice.    Receiving personal revelation from God is a skill that takes practice.   Revelation is personalized, individualized and specific. We're building a closer relationship with God.  He empowers us to "see" spiritually when we can't "see" physically.  I see our youth having to block out annoying, loud distractions in the world and fine tune their ability to hear the voice of God through the Spirit.  It will take practice and much "laboratory experience".  I pray they are doing their "lab homework"..............after all, practice makes perfect (ripe, whole, complete; see yesterday's lesson.)