Saturday, December 19, 2015

"Come and see." I want to be more like Philip and Nathaniel.




Today I was touched reading the short story in John 1:43-51. Philip and Nathaniel are beautiful examples of guileless faith, what to do with doubts, and bringing others to Christ. 

Jesus found Philip and invited him to "follow me." Phillip immediately obeyed. 

Then Philip does what we should do once we find Christ in our lives. He went and invited someone else to come. He said something like, 

"Nathaniel, we found him, the one the law of Moses and all the prophets have been writing about since the beginning of the world!  And his name is Jesus of Nazaeth. He's Joseph's son."

Nathaniel uses his best judgment, and thinks, I trust my friend Philip, but wait a second, aren't there prophesies about the Messiah coming from Bethlehem?  That seems to conflict with what you're telling me. Hm...

Philip in essence says, "I don't know how to answer your question, but I KNOW he is the Messiah. Come and see for yourself. Come get your own testimony of him." 

So Nathaniel comes to see for himself. 

And when Jesus sees him coming, Jesus comments that Nathaniel is a guileless person. Nathaniel wonders, "How do you know me?" They have a tiny conversation about this, and by the end of it, Nathaniel receives his own testimony that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, the king of Israel. 

Then because of Nathaniel's pure faith and openness to him, Jesus tells him that Nathaniel will see greater things than these, like heaven opening and angels and such. 

What does this have to do with you and me? Like Philip, many of us have found the Savior of the world or been found by him. Do we take the immediate next step that Philip did, and go find someone we care about to tell them who we've found, how excited we are, and to invite them to come and see for themselves? 

I want to be more like Philip. 

And then when we have a question about the gospel that doesn't make sense at first like Nathaniel did, what do we do with that question? Do we let it stunt our growth in the gospel, refusing to move forward because not all our questions are answered and not every detail makes perfect sense yet?  Or do we say, "Let me go see, while I move forward in faith with what I do know?  

I want to be like Nathaniel too. 

Click here and here to see posts about how to deal with doubts and unanswered gospel questions. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Two Hidden Gems to Visit on Temple Square: Tell me the Stories of Jesus, and Foundations of Faith

'Tis the season to visit Temple Square lights if you live near Salt Lake City. Today I discovered two hidden gems to make your trip even better. 


1. The Church History Museum is newly renovated and reopened, with a touching new exhibit. 



Their current exhibit of "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus" is beautiful and sacred. It's an international art competition and loaded with beauties that might bring tears to your eyes if you're like me. 

Our favorite was an awe-inspiring piece that tells many of Jesus' stories through a sort of life size wooden Perplexus, for lack of a better description. 



I mean, check this out. Can you imagine how many hours this artist spent cooking up this jaw dropping creation of telling Christ's stories?  You can watch a video of here.  



The interactive children's area is set up with activities related to the same theme of telling the stories of Jesus. 



Here's another one of my favorite pieces from the art competition. The artist, Robin Birrell, imagined an older sister preparing and making the hike to bring food to her younger brother, who was then able to offer his food to the Savior to feed the crowd of over 5000. If you go, be sure to peek at the explanation plaques. They make the artwork even better. Click here to see the beautiful pieces from the comfort of your home. 



My son loved the international nativity collection. So did I. 



2. The Church History Library has some treasures on display. 


It's the building just east of the conference center. I've been meaning to visit since it opened six years ago. Where does the time go?  



The Foundations of Faith exhibit  has some amazing stuff to see. They even give you a free booklet to guide you through the exhibit, and take home to soak up the details. 



This one made me cry. It's a tiny journal of Joseph Smith's own handwriting. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see that he wasn't satisfied with his first explanation of the purpose of his journal, so he rewrote it. "to keep a minute account of all things that come under my observation ... Oh may God grant that I may be directed in all my thoughts oh bless thy servant..."



 Can you see Joseph Smith's name inside the front page? 



The volunteer missionary told me the fragment of papyrus of Abraham's story of being saved by an angel was the actual one Joseph Smith had. 


Here is an original first edition hymnal compiled by Emma Smith. I love Emma, Joseph, Brigham, Wilford, and the others whose items are on display there. 



My son and I taking holding replicas of original version of Books of Mormon. 


Of course there are tons of other things to do on Temple SquareI invite you to make a visit!  You'll be glad you did. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Let the Holy Spirit Guide: Creating a Spirit-led Learning Environment

After attending a teacher training last week, I've been inspired to pull out my file and review some gems I've collected about gospel teaching. Here are some great LDS quotes about the importance of the Spirit in gospel teaching and learning. Without the Spirit, we shouldn't be teaching, because the Spirit IS the teacher. 





THE SPIRIT IS SUPREMELY IMPORTANT IN TEACHING AND LEARNING


“The greatest education you can get is to learn the voice of the Spirit” (Boyd K. Packer, Mine Errand from the Lord).

“The real teacher is the Spirit. ... We’re instruments, we’re tools, and it’s our tongues and our lips, but the real teacher is on high. ... ‘And if it be by some other way it is not of God’ (D&C 50:18)” (Elder Holland, Worldwide Leadership Training, 2007).

“The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.” (Julie Beck, “And Upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit,” Ensign, Nov. 2010). 

2 Nephi 33:1 – “When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.” 

D&C 100:6 – “It shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.”
 
WHY? BECAUSE THE SPIRIT CONVERTS – CHANGES MINDS, HEARTS, AND ACTIONS 

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel” (Boyd K. Packer, Ensign Nov. 1986, 17).

“The goal of gospel teaching ... is not to ‘pour information’ into the minds of class members. ... The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles.” (Thomas Monson, CR 10/70). 

Alma 31:5 – “As the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just – yea, it had a more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them – therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.” (Elder Holland said about this verse, “Another word for virtue is power.” From Worldwide Leadership Training, 2007)

“The Spirit not only informs and increases mutual understanding, it convinces! The Spirit can convince the student to ‘experiment upon’ (Alma 32:27) the gospel, so that the prized personal verification will come and individuals come to know for themselves that these things are true.  Brigham Young said of the Spirit’s convincing power: ‘Anything besides that influence, will fail to convince any person of the truth of the Gospel of salvation’” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Teaching by the Spirit: the Language of Inspiration,” August 15, 1991). 

“For you teachers of the Church, the principal goal of your lessons is the conversion of hearts. The quality of a lesson is not measured by the number of new pieces of information that you give your students. It comes from your capacity to invite the presence of the Spirit and to motivate your students to make commitments” (Gérald Caussé, CR, Oct. 2008).

THE TEACHER’S CHARACTER TEACHES AND INVITES THE SPIRIT 

My husband teaching my seminary class last year about
the duties of a bishop.
“We teach what we are” (Boyd K. Packer, The Ideal Teacher). 

“Paramount ... in what they observe is the example of your own life – how you work; how you react to challenges in and out of the classroom; ... how you treat [your families]. How you live is constantly under observation. ... More than what you teach, more than what you show or say, the spirit that radiates from you will effect your students. A truly effective inspiring teacher of youth cannot be marginal in conviction, intermittent in testimony, or wavering on obedience” (Richard G. Scott, “Four Fundamentals for Those Who Teach and Inspire Youth,” August 14, 1987).  

“The greatest impact of all is what they feel in your presence in the classroom and elsewhere. Your commitment to teach the precious children of our Father in Heaven is ... [also] the commitment to a life every hour of which is purposefully lived in compliance with the teachings and example of the Savior and of His servants. It is a commitment to constant striving to be evermore spiritual, evermore devoted, evermore deserving to be the conduit through which the Spirit of the Lord may touch the hearts of those you are trusted to bring to a greater understanding of His teachings” (Ibid).

WHEN STUDENTS PARTICIPATE THEY INVITE THE SPIRIT AND CONVERSION

My daughter during an interactive seminary activity. 
“Never, and I mean never, give a lecture where there is no student participation.  A ‘talking head’ is the weakest form of class instruction. ... Ensure that there is abundant participation because that use of agency by a student authorizes the Holy Ghost to instruct. It also helps the student retain your message.  As students verbalize truths, they are confirmed in their souls and strengthen their personal testimonies” (Richard G. Scott, “To Understand and Live Truth,” Feb. 4, 2005). 

“When you encourage students to raise their hand to respond to a question, they signify to the Holy Spirit their willingness to learn.  That use of moral agency will allow the Spirit to motivate and give them more powerful guidance during your time together. Participation allows individuals to experience being led by the Spirit. They learn to recognize and feel what spiritual guidance is. It is through the repeated process of feeling impressions, recording them, and obeying them that one learns to depend on the direction of the Spirit more than on communication through the five senses” (Richard G. Scott, “Helping Others to Be Spiritually Led,” August 11, 1998). 

“A person learns more rapidly from what he does than from what others do for him.  One expert has concluded that ‘the ratio of learning is: one by hearing, ten by seeing, and one thousand by doing.’  A person does not learn nearly so well by sitting and listening to someone talk as he does by participating.  He must be involved in the lesson.  The secret of successful teaching, therefore, is getting a person to do something for himself”  (President Monson, Favorite Quotations from the Collection of Thomas S. Monson, p. 266).

1 Nephi 19:23 – “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.”

TESTIFYING –  FROM BOTH TEACHER AND STUDENTS – INVITES THE SPIRIT 

“Above all, testify to them. Love them. Bear your witness from the depths of your soul. It will be the most important thing you say to them in the entire hour, and it may save someone’s spiritual life. ... Never let your faith be difficult to detect. ... Avoid self-serving performance and vanity. Don’t try to dazzle everyone with how brilliant you are. Dazzle them with how brilliant the gospel is” (Elder Holland, Worldwide Leadership Training, 2007).

“We are to help students learn to explain, share, and testify of the doctrines and principles of the restored gospel. We are to give them opportunities to do so with each other in class.  We are to encourage them to do so outside of class with family and others”  (The Teaching Emphasis in the Church Educational System, November 14, 2007).

ASKING INSPIRED QUESTIONS – FROM BOTH TEACHER AND STUDENTS – INVITES SPIRIT-LED LEARNING 

“The more questions we can get from the learners about something, the more they are engaged in the learning” (Julie Beck, Worldwide Leadership Training, 2007).

“The very process of formulating a question, raising a hand, asking a question and listening attentively is an expression of faith. This principle of seeking learning by faith invites individualized teaching by the Holy Ghost”  (David A. Bednar, Address to Australian Saints, April 2008).

“As teachers, we must require our students to think. ... After discussing each story, we were asked questions such as ‘What does that mean to you?’ ‘How does this scripture–or story or principle–relate to your life?’ ‘How can you apply this teaching in your home?’ ‘How do you feel about it?’ I found in my own home with my boys that once I asked these questions they began to live and feel what they were being taught” (Elder Robert D. Hales, “Teaching By Faith,” Feb. 1, 2002). 

“To ask and to answer questions is at the heart of all learning and all teaching. The Master asked, answered, and sometimes chose not to answer questions in his ministry. ... Some questions invite inspiration. Great teachers ask those. Here is a question that might not invite inspiration:  ‘How is a true prophet recognized?’ That question invites an answer which is a list, drawn from memory of the scriptures and the words of living prophets. But we could also ask the question this way, with just a small difference: ‘When have you felt that you were in the presence of a prophet?’ That will invite individuals to search their memories for feelings. After asking, we might wisely wait for a moment before calling on someone to respond. Even those who do not speak will be thinking of spiritual experiences.  That will invite the Holy Ghost”(President Henry B. Eyring “The Lord Will Multiply the Harvest,” Feb. 6, 1998).

WRITING DOWN IMPRESSIONS FROM THE SPIRIT INVITES CHANGE AND MORE IMPRESSIONS

“Those who earnestly seek help through prayer and scripture study often have a paper and pencil nearby to write questions and record impressions and ideas” (Julie Beck, “And Upon the Handmaids ... I Pour Out My Spirit,” Ensign, Nov. 2010). 
“Do you know how to get the most benefit from this time together?  Write down the impressions you feel…Spiritual moments in life often come when it seems difficult to record them.  Yet that special effort to crystallize in a permanent record sacred impressions of the Holy Ghost is powerfully rewarded.  Begin now even if you have to borrow paper and pencil to do it.” (Richard G. Scott, BYU-I Devot., Feb. 24, 2004)

“I encourage you to emphasize that we often leave the most precious personal direction of the Spirit unheard because we do not record and respond to the first promptings that come to us when the Lord chooses to direct us or when impressions come in response to urgent prayer” (Richard G. Scott, “Helping Others to be Spiritually Led,” August 11, 1998).

“Powerful spiritual direction in your life can be overcome or forced into the background unless you provide a way to retain it. ... Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. That practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light” (Richard G. Scott, “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” Ensign, Nov. 1993).

IT’S BETTER TO REALLY DIGEST ONE PRINCIPLE THAN RUSHING TO COVER ALL YOUR MATERIAL

“Avoid ... the temptation to cover too much material, the temptation to stuff more into the hour – or more into the students – than they can possibly hold! .. We are teaching people, not subject matter per se; ... An unrushed atmosphere is absolutely essential if you are to have the Spirit of the Lord present in your class. ... Don’t try to do too much. ... If we can get one thing across, one idea, one principle, something sterling and significant ... be assured” (Elder Holland, W Leadership Training, 2007).

PONDERING AND REVERENCE INVITE THE SPIRIT 

“The word ponder means to consider, contemplate, reflect upon, or think about. Pondering the scriptures, then, is reverent reflecting on the truths, experiences, and lessons contained in the standard works. The process of pondering takes time and cannot be forced, hurried, or rushed” (David Bednar, “Because We Have Them before Our Eyes,” New Era, Apr 2006, 2).

“Reverence is profound respect and love…As you become more reverent, you will notice a quiet transformation in your life.  The Lord will pour out His Spirit more abundantly on you.  You will be less troubled and confused.  You will be able to receive revelation to help you solve personal and family problems” (“Reverence”, True to the Faith – A Gospel Reference, p. 145)

The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. ... Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, “Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth.”  (1 Sam. 3:10.)  (Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan 1983 )

WE CAN EXPECT A LOT FROM YOUTH, AND THEY NEED DEEP CONVERSION IN THIS DAY AND AGE

“One of the dangers of the times we are passing into is that we might be tempted to lower our expectations for ourselves and for those young people we serve.  As the world darkens, even a partial conversion and a few spiritual experiences may seem more and more remarkable, compared to the world.  We might be tempted to expect less.  The Lord has given another signal, clear and powerful.  It is that we can expect more, not less, of youth.” (Henry B. Eyring, “Raising Expectations,”August 2004)

THE SPIRIT CAN TESTIFY OF ALL TRUTH, NO MATTER THE SOURCE 

“If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it. ... If the infidel has got truth it belongs to "Mormonism." The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. "Mormonism" includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel” (Brigham Young, Teaching: Brigham Young, Chapt. 2: The Gospel Defined”).

PRAY FOR THE TEACHER TO PREPARE AND TEACH BY THE SPIRIT 

“I will talk to God about [the teachers] and tell him how much I desire for him to teach me through them. I am not sure I understand how this works, but I know it works. Last Monday night I was preparing to come here. I felt some impressions of something I was supposed to teach you. They came with more than the normal intellectual force. ... As I received the idea for this talk, I felt it an impression that I was receiving it because of the prayers of one or more of you. ... Perhaps it wasn't so much that you were naming me, but you must have been pleading to be given some help, to be taught something, to be given some assurance. ...  By your prayers you can and will bring down the blessings of heaven, and particularly the gift of the Holy Ghost, which will help your teachers and your leaders” (Henry B. Eyring, “Listen Together,” BYU Fireside, Sept. 4, 1988).


Click here to see quotes about getting students to participate in class. 

How to Get Students to Participate in Class: 17 Ideas and 17 Quotes

I agree with Elder Kim Clarke when he said: 
"Whatever level of spirituality we now enjoy in our lives; whatever degree of faith in Jesus Christ ... commitment and consecration, whatever degree of obedience or hope or charity is ours ... it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead. ... You and I need to be much better than we are now. The scriptures teach us that the world is now and will be in commotion. Wickedness and darkness will increase. Yet in that darkening world there will be increased divine light. The Lord Jesus Christ has a great work for us to do with the rising generation. It is a greater work than we have ever done before. The Lord is working in power to strengthen teaching and learning in His true and living Church. He is hastening His work, and He is preparing the earth and His kingdom and us for His return" ("Encircled About with Fire," Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast, August 4, 2015, emphasis added).

So How do we strengthen teaching and learning to raise us to the next level and help prepare the world for the Savior's return? One way is to help students participate in their spiritual learning every time they come to class.   





17 Ideas to Invite Student Participation

1. When someone makes a comment, make sure they feel safe and appreciated. It takes a lot of courage for some people to participate, so be careful not to make someone feel embarrassed or unappreciated for their comment. Looking them in the eye and saying, "Thank you, that's a great point! It reminds me of..." goes a long way in making people feel safe to share.   

2. Openly invite participation. At the beginning of your lesson, tell the class you’d love to hear their comments and questions. You may even dedicate a whole lesson to this, which is what we do at the beginning of each school year in seminary. 

3. Have them discuss with a neighbor or small group what a scripture or quote means to them, how it applies to their lives, or a time when it has blessed their lives.  

4. Have a student read a verse aloud then paraphrase it in his own words. That makes them think and internalize what they read.  

5. Have a student read a verse aloud then tell how it applies to a certain principle, or how it applies to her life.

6. Invite students to share a personal experience that relates to the topic. When you invite participation, pause longer than is comfortable. Some people need several seconds to process their thoughts, so if you're too uncomfortable to pause, those people will never raise their hands to comment. 

7.  Invite a student to bear his or her testimony about a principle. Or ask a person after giving a comment, "Would you put an "I know" statement at the end of that?" For example, if the comment was about prayer, they may respond with "I know that when I spend more time thanking Heavenly Father in my prayers, I feel closer to Him." 

8. When reading a passage, stop and ask questions along the way to make sure everyone follows the story or sermon.    

9. Have students brainstorm ways to apply a principle and list their ideas on the board. Invite them to set a goal by choosing one item that they plan to use to improve their own lives. If they write down their goal on an index card, set an alarm, or send themselves a message on their phone, they're more likely to remember and do their goal. The next class period you could start the day asking who would like to share how it went doing their action. You could text your students with a reminder. 

10.  Play pass the chalk. One or two students can write on the board one way to apply the principle, and they pass the chalk to the next person until everyone has a chance to write their idea on the board. 

11. Invite them to write a short journal entry to paraphrase a verse into their own words, then write their thoughts about it, and how it applies to them. You may want to play instrumental hymn music as they write. 

12. Ask questions before reading a scripture or quote such as: 
  • Look for...
  • Notice...
  • Find... 

13. Ask open-ended questions after reading a scripture or quote, such as: 
  • What is the Lord trying to teach us here?
  • What does it mean to you? How you feel about it?
  • How does this scripture or story or principle relate to your life?
  • Why do you think...
  • What did you find...
  • What do you think, In your opinion...
  • Why is it, How is it...
  • What is the difference...
  • What are some ways...
  • What life lessons can we draw from this? 
  • Who’s willing to summarize the story so far?
  • What blessings have you seen when you have...

(Notice what three words most of these questions start with)

14. When someone asks a question, rather than answering it yourself, invite the class to give answers.  Or ask the class to help find the answer in the scriptures or the manual. Teach them how to use study helps like footnotes, Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, and especially the Joseph Smith Translation. 

15. What if you get too much participation from one or two people so other class members don't get a chance? You could say before asking your next question, "Let's hear from someone who hasn't shared yet today," or "How about someone on this side of the room?" or “We have time for two people to share.” 

16. At the end of a lesson I sometimes invite a student to close with their testimony of a principle or truth they learned today. These have been awesome! I gave my seminary students notice when I was going to start inviting them, and told them to come tell me privately if they didn't want me to call on them. Another option is to ask, "Who is willing to stand up and share with us what you learned about prayer today?" 

17. Here is a method of class participation you can use if you have an emergency with no prep time, which happened once in Relief Society. I asked everyone to pull out their paper or digital manual, and assigned a section of the lesson to each row. I gave them several minutes to silently read their section and mark things they might like to share. I scanned the whole lesson while they read, and of course prayed for guidance that we'd all say what God would have us say. It turned out awesome! As we moved through each section of the lesson, that row shared what stood out to them and their thoughts or experiences about it. Sometimes I chimed in responses and sometimes others did. At the end I summarized the main point of the lesson in a testimony and we were all well nourished by the Spirit and a great discussion. 





17 LDS Quotes about Student Participation 

1. “Sometimes students come to the learning setting thinking that the responsibility for their learning rests only with the teacher. They want to sit passively and have education “happen” to them. This cannot be….Each person has a responsibility for his or her own gospel learning and living, and each will ultimately be judged by how they fulfill that responsibility” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook for CES Teachers and Leaders, p. 13).

2. “The very process of formulating a question, raising a hand, asking a question and listening attentively is an expression of faith. This principle of seeking learning by faith invites individualized teaching by the Holy Ghost”  (Elder David A. Bednar, Address to Australian Saints, April 2008).

3. “A person learns more rapidly from what he does than from what others do for him. One expert has concluded that ‘the ratio of learning is: one by hearing, ten by seeing, and one thousand by doing.’  A person does not learn nearly so well by sitting and listening to someone talk as he does by participating.  He must be involved in the lesson. The secret of successful teaching, therefore, is getting a person to do something for himself” (President Monson, Favorite Quotations from the Collection of Thomas S. Monson, p. 266).

4. “As teachers, we must require our students to think... After discussing each story, we were asked questions such as ‘What does that mean to you?’ ‘How does this scripture–or story or principle–relate to your life?’ ‘How can you apply this teaching in your home?’ ‘How do you feel about it?’ I found in my own home with m boys that once I asked these questions they began to live and feel what they were being taught.  We were asked to think” (Elder Robert D. Hales, “Teaching By Faith,” Feb. 1, 2002). 

5. “Never, and I mean never, give a lecture where there is no student participation.  A ‘talking head’ is the weakest form of class instruction... Assure that there is abundant participation because that use of agency by a student authorizes the Holy Ghost to instruct. It also helps the student retain your message.  As students verbalize truths, they are confirmed in their souls and strengthen their personal testimonies” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “To Understand and Live Truth,” Feb. 4, 2005). 

6. “Learning by faith cannot be transferred from an instructor to a student through a lecture, a demonstration, or an experiential exercise; rather a student must exercise faith and act in order to obtain the knowledge for himself or herself... Ultimately the responsibility to learn by faith and apply spiritual truth rests upon each of us individually... What, how, and when we learn is supported by–but is not dependent upon–an instructor, a method of presentation, or a specific topic or lesson format" (Elder David A. Bednar, “Seek Learning by Faith,” Feb. 3, 2006).

7. “We are to help students learn to explain, share, and testify of the doctrines and principles of the restored gospel. We are to give them opportunities to do so with each other in class. We are to encourage them to do so outside of class with family and others” (The Teaching Emphasis in the Church Educational System, November 14, 2007).

8. “The role of the teacher is “to help individuals take responsibility for learning the gospel—to awaken in them the desire to study, understand, and live the gospel” (David M. McKonkie, Gen. Conf. Oct. 2010, quoting Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching, 1999, 61).

9.  “When you encourage students to raise their hand to respond to a question, they signify to the Holy Spirit their willingness to learn.  That use of moral agency will allow the Spirit to motivate and give them more powerful guidance during your time together. Participation allows individuals to experience being led by the Spirit. They learn to recognize and feel what spiritual guidance is. It is through the repeated process of feeling impressions, recording them, and obeying them that one learns to depend on the direction of the Spirit more than on communication through the five senses” (Elder Richard G. Scott, "Helping Others to Be Spiritually Led," Teaching Seminary Preservice Readings (2004), 55–57).

 10. “One of the dangers of the times we are passing into is that we might be tempted to lower our expectations for ourselves and for those young people we serve.  As the world darkens, even a partial conversion and a few spiritual experiences may seem more and more remarkable, compared to the world.  We might be tempted to expect less.  The Lord has given another signal, clear and powerful.  It is that we can expect more, not less, of youth.” (Henry B. Eyring, “Raising Expectations,” CES Satellite Training Broadcast, August 2004)

11.  “Do you know how to get the most benefit from this time together?  Write down the impressions you feel. … Spiritual moments in life often come when it seems difficult to record them.  Yet that special effort to crystallize in a permanent record sacred impressions of the Holy Ghost is powerfully rewarded.  Begin now even if you have to borrow paper and pencil to do it.” (Richard G. Scott, BYU-Idaho Devotional, February 24, 2004)

12. “How easy it is for a teacher to respond quickly to simple questions, to close a conversation that might have ignited a sparkling and lively class discussion. . . . Few things are so agonizing for a new teacher as to want to start a discussion and then have everyone remain silent. The use of discussion, simple question and answer, is one of the basic, useful, and important teaching processes. It often does not go well simply because the teacher does not know how to ask questions or how to respond (or how not to respond) to those that are asked by the class”  (President Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently [1975], 55–56). 

13. “To ask and to answer questions is at the heart of all learning and all teaching. The Master asked, answered, and sometimes chose not to answer questions in his ministry. … Some questions invite inspiration. Great teachers ask those. That may take just a small change of words, an inflection in the voice. Here is a question that might not invite inspiration:  ‘How is a true prophet recognized?’ That question invites an answer which is a list, drawn from memory of the scriptures and the words of living prophets. But we could also ask the question this way, with just a small difference: ‘When have you felt that you were in the presence of a prophet?’ That will invite individuals to search their memories for feelings. After asking, we might wisely wait for a moment before calling on someone to respond. Even those who do not speak will be thinking of spiritual experiences.  That will invite the Holy Ghost” (President Henry B. Eyring,The Lord Will Multiply the Harvest, [address to religious educators, 6 Feb. 1998], 5–6)
14. 
“The goal of gospel teaching … is not to ‘pour information’ into the minds of class members. … The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles" (Thomas S. Monson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 107).

15. “Testimony—real testimony, born of the Spirit and confirmed by the Holy Ghost—changes lives” (Elder Ballard, “Pure Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 2004, 40). 

16. "[The students'] decision to participate is an exercise in agency that permits the Holy Ghost to communicate a personalized message suited to their individual needs. Creating an atmosphere of participation enhances the probability that the Spirit will teach more important lessons than you can communicate.” (Elder Richard G. Scott, "The Spirit is the Real Teacher," lds.org)

17. “Oh, if I could teach you this one principle. A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! … It is one thing to receive a witness from what you have read or what another has said; and that is a necessary beginning. It is quite another to have the Spirit confirm to you in your bosom that what you have testified is true” (Elder Boyd K. Packer,“The Candle of the Lord,” 54–55).



6 Ways NOT to Invite Participation




1. Just read the lesson from the manual. 

2. Just lecture. 

3. Try to impress the class with yourself–your knowledge or skills.

4. When students make comments or questions, you criticize, be unresponsive, look down instead of listening fully, tell them they’re wrong, or treat it lightly.

5. Do anything to push away the Spirit like using inappropriate language, jokes or examples.

6. Fail to center the lesson on gospel truths.


Click here for quotes and ideas for creating a Spirit-led learning environment. 


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Want to take your life to the next level? Check out specials on these two courses, good through this Saturday at 3 PM.

I don't think I've ever used my blog to advertise a special offer before, but these events have been improving my life so much that I want to share them with you! 

This was me today at "Present Yourself," an event put on by 3 Key Elements training us to become better presenters and teachers. 

These two offers would make a great Christmas gift for yourself or anyone who loves improving their life! If you'd like help in reaching your goals, mastering your thoughts, moods and habits, as well as great communication and body language training, Kirk Duncan of 3 Key Elements is offering his "Mastering Your Influence" seminar for the best price I've ever seen only through this Saturday, December 13, at 3 PM. 

Another great offer through Saturday afternoon is "Royalty and Romance," a seminar that has strengthened and even saved marriages. He teaches keys of healthy communication and body language, connection, the difference between masculine and feminine energy in a marriage and how to make the best of both.   


These two offers are only good until 3 PM this Saturday (mountain time)while I'm attending one of Kirk's seminars



If you're interested, text me at 801-721-3548 as I need to sign you up to get the special offer. Kirk makes learning and growing very fun and engaging. In fact, my friend and I are currently at his "Present Yourself" event, learning how to be better teachers and presenters ourselves.


  • Master Your Influence is February 25-27 or May 5-7. Value $227, right now it's only $47!
  • Royalty and Romance is March 17-19. Value $475 for only $115 per couple!

Here is 3 Key Elements' website to learn more about the classes. 

Let me know if you're interested in this offer by texting me at 801-721-3548, before Saturday at 3 PM.

I'm sitting on the front row in the middle in a red sweater. (Personal note: My sweater has the Eiffel Tower on it because yesterday was the anniversary of my son Adam arriving in Paris, France for his mission.) 

My friend Jonell and I are taking "Present Yourself" together. It's been a ton of fun! 


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Once I saw the symbolism a gruesome scene became beautiful to me.



In seminary we are discussing animal sacrifices of the Old Testament. Ewe, gross, right? We aren't used to slaughtering our own animals like other generations did on a regular basis. We buy our meat shrink wrapped from the grocery store. For a moment try to put the "ewe, gross" response aside and look for the symbolism of the Savior in this story. Then it can become beautiful. (These are possible interpretations of the symbolism. You may see something different.)


Here is a little video we didn't have time to watch today in seminary. It's a poem by President Packer about Christ's ability to heal us as He did lepers. It's from a general conference talk in 1997.   

Picture this. 

Moses' people are in the desert and they have a new tabernacle where priesthood ceremonies take place. Imagine you are watching as a leper approaches the temple. He is holding a cage with a couple birds inside. Then watch the scene unfold. This whole batch of rich symbolism is found in the first eight verses of Leviticus chapter 14. 

A leper is deemed unclean and must live outside the camp, calling out "Unclean, unclean," to warn people not to come close because the disease was so contagious. Likewise a person who sins (you and me and every other person on the planet except Jesus Christ) is unclean and cannot dwell in God’s presence. 

The priest comes to the leper outside the camp. Likewise caring bishops go out of their way to help a person repent if the sin is serious and needs priesthood help. The priest decides if the leprosy is healed, like the bishop judges through revelation if the person has fully repented and is ready to return to full membership privileges of partaking of the sacrament, holding callings, and serving in the temple. 

The healed leper brings two birds to the tabernacle hoping to be deemed clean and participate in a cleansing ceremony. By the way, two birds were the sacrifice Joseph and Mary brought to the temple when Jesus was a baby. One bird represents Savior, and the other represents the repentant person. 

Along with the two birds, the cleansing ceremony uses three additional items: 

  • Cedar wood representing Christ’s cross
  • A scarlet dyed cloth representing the blood of Christ's Atonement, and foreshadowing mocking Christ with a scarlet robe before His crucifixion (see footnote Exodus 12:4a), also our sins as red as scarlet can become white as snow through Christ's blood
  • Hyssop which is a purifying plant, and when Christ was thirsty on the cross someone dipped hyssop in vinegar and put it to his mouth

One bird -- representing Christ -- was killed in an earthen vessel, representing Christ being sent to earth to die for us. He was killed over running water, representing Christ offering us living water. Also after Christ died and a soldier pierced his side and out came blood and water. 

The second bird stays alive and represented the healed leper, or you and me, repentant sinners. The priest takes the bird along with the wood, scarlet, and hyssop and dips them all in the blood of the killed bird over running water. This represents the cleansing power of the Savior’s blood shed for us. 

The priest sprinkles the blood from the killed bird on the healed leper seven times, representing completeness and perfection. We need Christ's blood to wash us completely clean inside and out, all over us. Also Christ is recorded as bleeding from seven places: 

  • his head (Matt 27:29-30)
  • sweat (Luke 22:44)
  • face (Isaiah 50:6)
  • back (Isaiah 50:6, Matt 27:26
  • hands (Psalm 22:16, John 20:25)
  • feet (Psalm 22:16)
  • side (John 19:34).

The priest pronouncing the leper clean can represent a bishop judging that a repentant person is fully forgiven. 

Letting the live bird loose into open field represents freedom and opportunities for the healed leper, and also for the repentant person. 

The healed leper washes his clothes, bathes himself, and shaves his hair, representing cleaning up a person’s life from sinful ways and pursuits, baptism cleansing us from sin, and having a fresh start. 

Isn't a fresh start what you and I need, every day? 

When the healed leper rejoins the camp, it's a beautiful representation of a repentant person being worthy of the Lord's Spirit in his life again, feeling close to the Lord again, and for more serious sins, rejoining the Lord’s covenant people with full membership blessings. 

I love the Savior. I love His Atonement. 

Christ's Atonement is gruesome and hard to think about, like I feel about killing innocent lambs or birds in the ancient tabernacle of Israel. I don't want someone or something innocent to die for my mistakes. It makes me sad. 

But oh how grateful I am that Christ didn't shrink from His most gruesome duty of dying for us, and giving us the chance to transform from unclean to clean, from bondage to freedom, from separation to close to God. I need Him and His healing in my life every day. 



Click here to see my favorite quotes about Christ's Atonement. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Why we Need to Know the Ten Commandments (and an FHE idea)


Teach your family the ten commandments!  Most Christians don't know them. My seminary class learned them this morning within minutes. 

Some Christian leaders say the current generation is the most Biblically illiterate we've ever had. They say the reason is that U.S. Christians are guiding their lives by popular culture instead of by scripture. Check out these statistics:


  • "More than 60 percent of Americans can't name either half of the Ten Commandments or the four Gospels of the New Testament.
  • "Some 80 percent including "born again" Christians believe that "God helps those who help themselves" is a direct quote from the Bible.
  • "And 31 percent believe a good person can earn his/her way into heaven.
  • "According to a recent George Barna study, most self-proclaimed Christians don't believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit actually exist. 
  • "And even though the Bible is very clear about the sinless nature of Christ, 22 percent believe that Jesus sinned while he was on the earth." (Source)

Here is an FHE idea. 

1. First, memorize them. 
This four minute video shows a quick and easy way to remember the ten commandments. 



2. Next, mark and number each commandment in your Bible. They are in Exodus 20:3-17. 

3. Read and discuss together some quotes about the commandments. Click here for a printable handout of the quotes below. 





4. Close by asking what blessings it brings to obey this or that commandment. 

  • What blessings does it bring to avoid killing someone? How about avoiding going to prison and keeping your freedom  and a clean conscience? 
  • What blessings come from avoiding adultery and keeping the law of chastity? How about avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, broken hearts and broken families and homes?  Those are just a couple ideas to get your discussion going. 


Quotes about the Ten Commandments

President Thomas S. Monson: “Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed; they will not change. The Ten Commandments are just that— commandments. They are not suggestions. They are every bit as requisite today as they were when God gave them to the children of Israel” (Ensign, Nov. 2011).

“Cecil B. DeMille, director of the 1956 film The Ten Commandments: ‘We are too inclined to think of law as something … hemming us in. We sometimes think of law as the opposite of liberty. But that is a false conception. … God does not contradict Himself. He did not create man and then, as an afterthought, impose upon him a set of arbitrary, irritating, restrictive rules. He made man free—and then gave him the Commandments to keep him free. … We cannot break the Ten Commandments. We can only break ourselves against them—or else, by keeping them, rise through them to the fulness of freedom under God. God means us to be free. With divine daring, he gave us the power of choice’ (BYU Commencement Address, 31 May 1957).

Joseph Smith: "[God] never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of His law and ordinances.” (History of the Church, 5:135)

President Harold B. Lee: “The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you are having the most difficulty keeping today. If it is one of dishonesty, if it is one of unchastity, if it is one of falsifying, not telling the truth, today is the day for you to work on that until you have been able to conquer that weakness. Put that aright and then you start on the next one that is most difficult for you to keep. That's the way to sanctify yourself by keeping the commandments of God” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 82)

#1 – Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.
President Ezra Taft Benson: “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities” (Ensign, May 88)

#2 – Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
Spencer W. Kimball: “Modern idols or false gods can take such forms as clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure boats, and numerous other material deflectors from the path to godhood. ... Degrees and letters and titles become idols. … Young married couples who postpone parenthood until their degrees are attained might be shocked if their expressed preference were labeled idolatry. … Many worship the hunt, the fishing trip, the vacation, the weekend picnics and outings. … These pursuits more often than not interfere with the worship of the Lord and with giving service to the building up of the kingdom of God” (The Miracle of Forgiveness).

#3 – Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord they God in vain.
President Spencer W. Kimball: “In the hospital one day I was wheeled out of the operating room by an attendant who stumbled, and there issued from his angry lips vicious cursing with a combination of the names of the Savior. Even half-conscious, I recoiled and implored: ‘Please! Please! That is my Lord whose names you revile.’ There was a deathly silence, then a subdued voice whispered: ‘I am sorry’” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball).

“There is an additional implication in the commandment to avoid taking the name of God in vain. An integral part of living the gospel is the making of oaths and covenants with God. When a person [makes] covenants ... if he forgets that solemn oath ... he has taken the name of the Lord in vain” (Old Testament Student Manual).

#4 – Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
For the Strength of Youth: “The Lord has given the Sabbath day for your benefit... Honoring the Sabbath day includes attending all your Church meetings. …Prepare during the week so that you can reserve Sunday for the many uplifting activities that are appropriate for the Sabbath day. Such activities include spending quiet time with your family, studying the gospel, fulfilling your Church callings and responsibilities, serving others, writing letters, writing in your journal, and doing family history work. Your behavior and dress on the Sabbath should show respect for the Lord and His holy day. Sunday is not a day for shopping, recreation, or athletic events. Do not seek entertainment or make purchases on this day. …Observing the Sabbath will bring you closer to the Lord and to your family. It will give you an eternal perspective and spiritual strength” 

#5 – Honor thy father and thy mother.
Gordon B. Hinckley: “If [this commandment] were only observed more widely, there would be far less misery in the homes of the people. Instead of backbiting, accusation, argument, there would be appreciation and respect and quiet love” (Ensign, May 1993). 

#6 – Thou shalt not kill.
"’Thou shalt not ... kill, nor do anything like unto it’ (D&C 59:6). Entertainment and media that glorifies or presents as acceptable murder and other forms of violence should be avoided. Such entertainment and media influence our attitudes and thoughts and offend the Spirit (see For the Strength of Youth)” (Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual).

#7 – Thou shalt not commit adultery.
For the Strength of Youth: “Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. God has commanded that sexual intimacy be reserved for marriage.”

Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual: “Adultery means sexual relations between a married individual and someone other than his or her spouse. Any sexual relations outside the bond of marriage between a man and a woman, including homosexual behavior, violate the Lord’s law of chastity. To keep the law of chastity before and during marriage, prophets have also taught that we are not to share, view, read, or listen to anything that depicts or describes the physical body or sexual conduct in an immoral or pornographic way. We must keep our thoughts, desires, words, and actions pure.”

#8 – Thou shalt not steal and #9 – Thou shalt not bear false witness.
For the Strength of Youth: “Be honest with yourself, others, and God at all times. Being honest means choosing not to lie, steal, cheat, or deceive in any way. … Dishonesty harms you and harms others as well. If you lie, steal, shoplift, or cheat, you damage your spirit and your relationships with others. Being honest will enhance your future opportunities and your ability to be guided by the Holy Ghost.” 

#10 – Thou shalt not covet.
Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual: “Coveting, in this context, means having a selfish, excessive desire for something that belongs to another person. Coveting can cause feelings of jealousy, envy, pride, and greed. Coveting can lead us to be ungrateful and never satisfied with what we have. We can admire what others have, and we can seek to improve our lives and circumstances, but we must do so with modest, humble desires and honest, appropriate efforts.”