How Can Studying the Scriptures Help Me Learn about Heavenly Father?
1. Making Connections
Since I texted/called a bunch of the kids last week to prepare these, I thought I would have them think of the answers to the typical Making Connections questions in class. I gave them each slips of papers with these questions on them (and pens to write their answers):
1. What have you been learning recently in your personal scripture study?
2. What have you been learning in seminary recently?
3. What have you been learning recently in Young Women's?
4. What have you been learning recently in your Priesthood classes?
5. What have you learned about the gospel lately from interactions with your friends?
They wrote their answers down and then we all shared. It worked great.
2. The Blessing of Scripture
I read the story about William Tyndale aloud to the class. The suggestions of things you could do with the class didn't involve this, but I wanted them to realize that the scriptures weren't always available to people, and what kind of spiritual poverty they had been in because of that. So I just read the first four paragraphs of Elder Christofferson's talk:
Then I asked them to imagine for a minute that they were living in the 1500s. You didn't have scriptures of your own. Your priest chose what scriptures to share with you (or not to share with you). You didn't have the ability to sit down, read scriptures yourself, and commune with Heavenly Father. There is a reason this period of time was called the Dark Ages.
And then I made a lame-o joke about Henry VIII doing something right by allowing scripture to be translated into English. :) Haha! (I'm my own best audience.)
Then I put this poster up on the wall:
So I had them tell me their ideas, and I wrote their ideas in the enlarging box.
Then we read, one paragraph at a time, one student per paragraph, the section of Elder Christofferson's talk entitled "The Scriptures Enlarge Our Memory."
After each paragraph, we would pause and glean any more benefits of having and using scriptures that we found. We found the following things and wrote them down:
1. They remember the Lord
2. They remember our relationship to Him and to the Father
3. They are reminded of what we knew in our premortal life.
4. They are taught.
5. Faith in God and Christ is able to take root.
6. They remember what they and earlier generations have learned.
7. They know Heavenly Father.
8. They know about the redemption of Christ.
I guess we could have had a plain old list on the chalkboard, but I like visuals and I like symbols, so I felt like this might shake things up a bit. And the kids loved my drawing of the brain. :)
3. What do we know about Heavenly Father?
I had gone into the classroom a few minutes before and drawn a chart that looks like this:
You know what was funny - my priests started filtering into my classroom and picked up the chalk and started filling it in. And then volunteering the Laurels in the space that says "your name." It was funny. They hadn't finished the chart, so at this point, we worked on finishing the chart.
A. Spin the Bottle
I got the following idea out of an FHE manual. You spin a bottle on the floor, and the person it points to tells one thing they know about Heavenly Father. The kids loved this. I'd write their answers on the left column. And then I'd write their names in the middle column. I would add -izzle to their names, which was funny to me and to them. For answer, if a kid's name is Cory, I would write "Corizzle." This used to be a big thing to do back when I taught school. These kids hadn't ever heard of adding -izzle to words and names. Which means that I'm getting old.
If they needed help for the left hand column, here are some ideas that I jotted down ahead of time:
1. He loves us. (John 3:16)
2. He is merciful. (Luke 6:36)
3. He is the Father of our spirits. (Hebrews 12:9)
4. He works with purpose for us. (Moses 1:39)
5. He has a tangible body. (D&C 130:22)
6. He is unchangeable. (Mormon 9:9)
7. He is just. (2 Ne. 9:17)
8. He has all knowledge. (2 Ne. 9:20)
9. He is almighty. (1 Ne. 1:14)
10. He is all powerful and all understanding. (Alma 26:35)
11. He lives in heavenly surroundings, in holy habitations. (D&C 109:77)
And then dang it, class time ended. But this is what I wanted to do next:
I was going to ask each person to go to the Topical Guide and to find a scripture that "proves" the thing they said they know about Heavenly Father. I was going to teach them to look up God, and then find a description after the word "God" to find their scripture. So for example, if they had said, "He loves us," they need to look under, "God, Love of." Then I was going to have them come up to the board and write their scripture reference. When they were done doing that, I was going to have them share their scripture and have us all look them up together and mark them.
4. Learning More About Heavenly Father
I was going to split the class into groups. I was going to give each group one of these slips of paper:
1. Read 1 Nephi 1:8-9, 14, 20. As you read, jot below what you learn about Heavenly Father. Next to each fact about Heavenly Father, write the verse where you found that fact. Put a star next to your favorite verse.
2. Read Isaiah 55:7-11. As you read, jot below what you learn about Heavenly Father. Next to each fact about Heavenly Father, write the verse where you found that fact. Put a star next to your favorite verse.
3. Read 2 Nephi 26:23-33. As you read, jot below what you learn about Heavenly Father. Next to each fact about Heavenly Father, write the verse where you found that fact. Put a star next to your favorite verse.
4. Read Mosiah 2:19-25. As you read, jot below what you learn about Heavenly Father. Next to each fact about Heavenly Father, write the verse where you found that fact. Put a star next to your favorite verse.
5. Read D&C 1:17-39. As you read, jot below what you learn about Heavenly Father. Next to each fact about Heavenly Father, write the verse where you found that fact. Put a star next to your favorite verse.
Here are the things I found (if the kids need help). And I starred my favorite ones, in case they couldn't find any "favorites" of their own. If they needed help on that, I would have said, "Well my favorite verse was this. And this is why." I think sharing personal stuff like that with them is beneficial.
1. vs 8-9 - His glory
vs 14, 20 - His mercy*
2. vs 7 - merciful
vs 8 - wisdom*
vs 11 - He has a plan
3. vs 24 - He loves us
vs. 25-28 - He accepts and forgives us all*
vs. 30,32 - gives us commandments
vs. 33 - is perfect
4. vs. 20 - created us
vs. 20-21, 24 - blesses us*
vs. 22 - makes promises
vs. 22 - requires obedience
vs. 23 - is our creator
vs. 25 - created the world
5. vs. 17 - knows all
vs. 17 - knows us
vs. 18 - gives us commandments
vs. 25-27 - corrects us
vs. 28 - teaches us
vs. 31 - is without sin
vs. 32 - is forgiving
vs. 35 - loves all
vs. 36 - gives us help*
Now obviously, we wouldn't have had time to have each group read aloud their entire section, and then point out the verses that taught them about Heavenly Father. What I was going to do was introduce a technique I learned from The Red-Headed Hostess called sectionalizing. So I was going to have them tell us what chapter and verses they read and have us turn to that. Then we were going to sectionalize each big section of verses and write along the margins, "What we know about Heavenly Father." Then I was going to have the group just tell us their favorite verse and why.
5. Bible Dictionary - God
I looooove the Bible Dictionary, and I am constantly looking things up in there. And I'm always encouraging my students to do the same. It's a great resource.
Anyways, then I was going to give each kid a half sheet of paper that says this:
Read the entry under “God” in the Bible Dictionary and write down one new thing you learned about Heavenly Father. (If you already knew everything, write your favorite thing.)
Then, just like the lesson suggested, I was going to have each person find someone who wrote something different and share with each other what they learned.
I wanted to be a model for them, so, if nobody else had said the following thing, I would have said, "I realize from this that the Holy Ghost is a God. I guess I never realized that before. And my favorite thing in this section was that God is a personage who hears and answers prayers."
6. How you've come to know the Father through the scriptures
I was going to just plain old ask them how they've gotten to know Heavenly Father through the scriptures. They would have done a lot of writing at this point, so I thought we'd do some talking. I was going to give them a few moments to think of their answer while I gave them a couple of my own:
I remember reading an article in the New Era that talked about Isaiah 41:10, the one that says, "Fear thou not, I am with me, be not dismayed..." I was going to them that taught me that Heavenly Father loves us, strengthens us, and helps us to be courageous. I was going to tell them that is my favorite scripture of all time now, and consequently, my favorite hymn is "How Firm a Foundation."
I also wanted to share something that occurred to me while I was reading Alma 42 - that if God had no justice or no mercy, he wouldn't be perfect. He has to have both. That was something I've learned about Him through scripture study.
Then I was just going to close with my testimony that Heavenly Father lives, that he loves us, and that he wants us to return to Him.