Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Lesson - How can the Book of Mormon help me strengthen my faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ? - What I did.

Dude, these lesson titles get longer and longer.  It's crazy.

You know what else is crazy?  My kids.  During spring break.  I'm seriously dying over here...

Kay.  On to the lesson.

1.  Scripture Activity

I told the students to imagine that a friend asks them if Mormons are Christians.  I wanted them to find a scripture that shows that Mormons are, indeed, Christians.  To kind of guide them in this, I gave them each a slip of paper that said this:

Directions: Use the Index at the back of your Book of Mormon to find a scripture that answers the question, “Are Mormons Christians?” A good place to look is "Jesus Christ."  Pick your favorite scripture. Be prepared to share it with the class. (It's okay if two people end up picking the same one.)

After everyone had found their scripture, each one of us shared ours, while the rest of us looked them up.  A couple of kids had picked the same scripture, but it was all good.  The scripture I shared (because I participated in this, too) was 2 Ne. 25: 26.  "We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ..."  I love that scripture.

2.  Elder Neil L. Anderson's Article

I divided the students into three groups.  I gave each group a section of Elder Anderson's article.  Each section had directions at the top.  Here they are:

As a group, read the following section from Elder Neil L. Andersen's talk in the October 2011 Ensign. Either as you read or after you read, jot down any answers you could find to the question, “How does the Book of Mormon strengthen my faith in Christ?” You can write your answers at the bottom of this page or on the back of it.

Important for Our Day

Why would another testament of Jesus Christ be so important for our day? Why would the Lord bring forth another witness to strengthen the powerful declarations of the Bible?

We live in a time unlike any other. Scientific achievement allows medical care, transportation, comfort, and convenience never imagined by generations who preceded us. The earth is flooded with information and technology, enhancing family history work and the sharing of the gospel but also the proliferation of pornography, virtual violence, and other “evils and designs [that] exist in the hearts of conspiring men” (D&C 89:4). In much of the world, we live in a time of strong attachment to material possessions.

These conditions can, if we are not careful, distract or entice us to move away from principles that are eternal and true for every generation.

When I was a young missionary in Europe in the early 1970s, we began much of our teaching with an explanation of the Apostasy, because the divinity of Jesus Christ was widely accepted. When I returned as a mission president 20 years later, we began our conversations differently, because belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who gave His life for our sins and rose the third day, had faded significantly.

In today’s world, the arrogant arguments of Korihor, the anti-Christ, find listening ears:

“Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.
“Behold, these things which ye call prophecies … are foolish traditions of your fathers.
“… Ye cannot know of things which ye do not see. …
“… Every man prosper[s] according to his [own] genius, and … conquer[s] according to his [own] strength” (Alma 30:13–15, 17).

We need our own secure and settled faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we need help in strengthening our families so that this faith flows into the hearts of our children and grandchildren. Faith in Jesus Christ, when solidly anchored in our souls, brings true conversion, and in its wake come repentance, honest discipleship, miracles, spiritual gifts, and enduring righteousness. This is an important part of the divine mission of the Book of Mormon.

As a young missionary, I had a most interesting discussion with a clergyman. He told us that he could not accept the Book of Mormon because it openly spoke of Jesus Christ, using His name and events of His life hundreds of years before His birth. He found this transparency uncharacteristic of the pattern of the Old Testament that referenced the Savior more subtly.

To me the bold declaration of Jesus Christ is the very power of the Book of Mormon. Of course, we must receive a spiritual witness that the book is of God. But once that is obtained, the purposes of Christ, the reality of His life and Resurrection, and the clarity of what is necessary to follow Him and obtain eternal life with Him are strikingly tangible before us.

As a group, read the following section from Elder Neil L. Andersen's talk in the October 2011 Ensign. Either as you read or after you read, jot down any answers you could find to the question, “How does the Book of Mormon strengthen my faith in Christ?” You can write your answers at the bottom of this page or on the back of it.

The Testimony of Jesus Christ

Accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost, reading and pondering the great sermons on Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon bring a certain witness of their truthfulness. I love to glide through the Book of Mormon feasting upon the powerful doctrines of Christ: Nephi’s vision of the tree of life, with the angel asking, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” (1 Nephi 11:16); Lehi’s testimony that “redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth” (2 Nephi 2:6); Jacob’s addition that He is “the keeper of the gate … and he employeth no servant there” (2 Nephi 9:41).

We then follow with King Benjamin teaching us of the qualities of discipleship, with his unwavering declaration that there is “no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ” (Mosiah 3:17).

We are soon with Abinadi, about to give his life for what he believes:

“But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death, is swallowed up in Christ.
“He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened” (Mosiah 16:8–9).

Alma brings the beautiful doctrines of the Atonement, justice, and mercy to life: “The plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also” (Alma 42:15).

Then we come to the marvelous visit of the Savior to the children of Lehi. We too feel His love, His compassion, His teachings, His own testimony:

“This is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father. …
“And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross … that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil” (3 Nephi 27:13–14).

Finally the closing appeals of Mormon and Moroni: “Know ye that ye must … repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God” (Mormon 7:5). “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:32).

As a group, read the following section from Elder Neil L. Andersen's talk in the October 2011 Ensign. Either as you read or after you read, jot down any answers you could find to the question, “How does the Book of Mormon strengthen my faith in Christ?” You can write your answers at the bottom of this page or on the back of it.

Framed within Families

This spiritually powerful, convincing testimony that Jesus Christ is indeed the promised Messiah—the anointed Son of God, sent to earth to bring about the resurrection of all men and the spiritual cleansing of those who will repent and follow Him—is framed within the history of families.

The Book of Mormon begins with a family, a father and mother, sons and daughters heeding the revelation of their prophet-father to leave their worldly goods behind and follow the counsel of the Lord. The book’s accounts are replete with parents seeking to instill in their children the promise and hope of Jesus Christ. On one occasion I pulled from its pages specific counsel from fathers to sons—it totaled 52 typed pages. In the Book of Mormon, we see how parents taught faith in Christ and obedience to God’s commandments both to children who were obedient from their childhood and to children who had to find their way—sometimes in the very same family. It is a lesson for our day, for our children, for our families.

The specific roles of women and daughters are to some extent unmentioned, as is common in ancient writing. But looking beyond the obvious, we see their eternal and enduring influence. We treasure the precious morsels that speak of women and mothers, such as when their feelings are described as “tender and chaste and delicate before God” (Jacob 2:7) or when Helaman describes the goodness of his youthful army as influenced by their righteous mothers:

“They did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them. …

“Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually. …
“… They had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
“And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 57:21, 27; 56:47–48).

I would invite you to ponder these questions to help you liken the teachings of the Book of Mormon to your family:

  • What passages in the Book of Mormon teach us that children need to see integrity and righteousness in the faith of their parents?

  • What counsel have fathers in the Book of Mormon given their sons that we may want to share with our children?

  • What do we learn about our efforts with children who are not being obedient?

  • How do parents in the Book of Mormon share their deep beliefs with their children?

  • What do we learn about faith as it is transferred from one generation to another?
There is nothing more important to share with another than faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It brings understanding to the challenges of this life, happiness amid difficulty, and eternal life in the world to come.
There are many worldly influences that pull us and our families from this most vital faith. The Book of Mormon invites us and our families to embrace faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it shares the principles that will help our families succeed.

I testify that the Book of Mormon is true and that in very fact it was delivered to the Prophet Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni, under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is for our day, for our children and grandchildren. As we open it daily with faith, I promise the Lord’s Spirit will be upon us and our families will be blessed forever.

I've got to be honest here - the students were having a hard time staying on task during this part.  I think it was because they were all hopped up on Easter candy.  It took them wayyyy too long to do this.  Also, they kind of didn't answer the questions I wanted answered.  Instead, they just chose their favorite parts.  Which is okay, really.  At least they read it, right???  Here are the answers to the questions that I had come up with when I was preparing the lesson, and I also pointed these out to my students.

Important for our day
1.  It declares Christ's purpose
2.  It talks about his life and Resurrection
3.  It teaches us what to do to follow Him and obtain eternal life with Him.

The Testimony of Jesus Christ
1.  Sermons on Christ are a testimony of Him.
2.  We feel Christ's love, compassion, teachings, and testimony of Christ when He visits His people.

Framed within Families
1.  Parents in the Book of Mormon teach their children about Christ.
2.  The Book of Mormon invites us to embrace faith in Christ.

3.  Kathleen's experience gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon

My darling friend, Kathleen, is a convert to the church, and I asked her if she would write how she gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  She obliged, and what she wrote was so touching.  I had each kid read one paragraph at a time:

I was raised always going to church and Sunday School. I spent a lot of time at church as a child and even more time as a teenager, so a belief in God and Jesus has always been with me, never a doubt at all. I've always known that Jesus is my Savior and that he literally saved me from a terrible eternity.

When I moved to Idaho in 1990, that was my first experience with Mormon people. I had lived all over the country, but as far as I knew, I hadn't met and Mormons. The things I noticed were overall good things. They helped their neighbors. They didn't drink and act crazy. They had a lot of kids. However, I kept to my own beliefs for quite some time.

I met and married my husband, a Mormon, and then through his job, made some incredible friends, who were also Mormons. They provided the example to me of what being a member of this church really was about. It took some time, but eventually I was ready for the missionaries to talk to me.

One night in the middle of the night was praying for some sort of a sign about whether the Book of Mormon was true or not and if I should join the church. It was the craziest thing, but I got an intense burning in my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack or something. Then it went away and I felt great peace.

The next day I was reading somewhere in the Book of Mormon and read a verse that described exactly what I had felt and that it was a sign from God of the truth. It was the strangest thing. I have never doubted since then that the Book of Mormon was true. I'm not a scholar of the Scriptures, but I just know. My faith is simple, like a child's faith. It isn't colored by all of the doubts of the world because I just believe and I have had a witness of the truth.

When I was in high school I took a class called "Bible as Literature" and we read the stories of the Bible as our textbook. I'm not sure you could do that now, but I really loved that class. When I read the Book of Mormon now, I often read things that confirm and reaffirm the things that I have read in the Bible. The stories in the Book of Mormon relate the trials others have had either when they have fought against what is right or when they have lived their faith so valiantly that you just know that Heavenly Father is so proud of them.

If we try every day to do what is right, show love to others and make our Father in Heaven proud, while we will still have trials on this earth, our eternity will be that much more secure. As I said, I am not a scholar of the Book of Mormon, but I do know that it is true because I asked and received a witness of its truth. I know, without a doubt, that Jesus is my personal Savior and that He loves me and wants me to return to live with Him and Heavenly Father someday. I know that they want that of you too. I know that this church is true and that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are also true.  I know that if we strive to live our lives to make Heavenly Father proud, we will have better lives to lead because we won't be chasing after things that we shouldn't have in our lives. I am so happy for the Atonement of Jesus Christ that saves me when I fall short. In the Holy Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.   

*And we ran out of time at this point.  The kids had settled down when reading Kathleen's testimony, but dang, they were so hyper during the Neil L. Anderson part that it took them way longer to do it than it should have.  Stupid Easter basket candy.  But the following stuff was really going to be fun, so I'm still putting it up here.
4.  Twenty Questions

I wanted to talk about the three people in the Book of Mormon for whom we really saw the atonement at work.  They talk about their repentance process and of how Heavenly Father forgave them, so I wanted to really talk about these three guys.  
So I was going to give three people in the class three slips of paper with the following names on each paper:  Alma the Younger, Enos, and King Lamoni.  I was going to tell the other students that we were going to play 20 questions to find out the Book of Mormon person we were going to talk about.  Then I was going to have whichever one wanted to, stand up and have the class ask him/her 20 questions.  As you recall, they have to be yes/no questions.  I was going to keep track.  If the students hadn't figured out the person in 20 questions, I was going to have the person holding the slip of paper tell them who it was.  

As each Book of Mormon person was revealed, I was going to put a picture of them up on the board.  Kathleen gave me her Gospel Art Kit, which I looooove and use all the time.  I had a picture of Enos and of Alma the Younger and the four sons of Mosiah, and I wanted one of Lamoni, as well, which there is not a picture of in the GAK.  I found this one online that I really liked:

And here are the pictures of Enos and Alma the Younger and the Four Sons of Mosiah:

After the three guys were revealed through 20 questions, I wanted to go more in-depth to their experiences.

5.  Enos

I was going to have someone read a summary of Enos's story first:

Enos was the son of Jacob. One day Enos went into the forest to hunt. He began thinking about the teachings of his father. He had often heard his father talk about eternal life and the joy of those who keep God's commandments.

Enos wanted to have that joy. He knelt down and prayed to Heavenly Father to forgive him of his sins. Enos prayed all day, and when night came, he was still praying.

The voice of the Lord told Enos that his sins were forgiven.

Then I was going to have them look up Enos 1: 4-6.  I was going to ask them what we learn about the atonement from these verses.  The answers I was hoping they would come up with were:

1.  We pray to ask forgiveness of our sins.
2.  We know we are forgiven when our guilt is swept away.
3.  We are forgiven through faith in Christ.

6.  Alma the Younger

I was going to have someone read this summary of Alma the Younger's story next:
Alma the Younger and the four sons of King Mosiah were trying to destroy the church, and many people followed them. The prophet Alma and King Mosiah were worried about their sons and prayed for them, as did other members of the church. The Lord heard their prayers, and one day an angel came to Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah. The angel told them to stop destroying the church. From that time on Alma the Younger and the four sons of Mosiah repented and spent the rest of their lives teaching the word of God.

Then we were going to read Alma 36:12-21.  I would have had each kid read one verse.  Then I was going to ask them again what we can learn about the atonement from these verses.

1.  We pray to ask forgiveness of our sins.
2.  Once you've been forgiven, you can't remember your sins anymore.
3.  Being forgiven of your sins brings you joy.

7.  King Lamoni

I thought it might be fun to review King Lamoni's story by reading it from the Book of Mormon Reader I have at home (my students seriously love reading from the Book of Mormon Reader, even though they aren't little anymore).  I made copies for each student to have, and I was going to have each kid read one picture caption.  I'm not including the entire "chapter" in here, about Ammon cutting off the dudes' arms and all that.  I wanted to focus on Lamoni's repentance process.  I've scanned the pages I was going to use.  Here they are, in jpeg form:

Then we were going to read Alma 19: 29, 33.  I was going to ask them what they learn about the atonement from these verses.

1.  It saves us from hell.
2.  The atonement changes our hearts - we have no more desire to do evil.

That was all I had, so I was going to close with my testimony and a prayer.  Badda bing, badda boom. 


Paula said...

You are an amazing teacher. Your ideas and organization, the way you pull together your lessons is an inspiration. Thanks for sharing with us!

Allie said...

Ditto to what Paula said! You are a lifesaver for this I-had a- crazy- week- and- now- it's-Satuday-night slacker! Thanks for all your ideas and insight!

Nicki said...

Love your ideas and creativity. A lot of thought, preparation & prayer have gone into your lessons, of which I'm grateful! Thank you!

Jennifer Harding said...

Thankyou. I loved your opening question, Are Mormons Christians? I plan on using it in my lesson this sunday. I am going to try out the 20 question game too. I appreciate all your efforts in sharing your lesson.

I wish you all the best with your fight. You are strong and an example to so many!

Debbie Lunt said...

I was a little concerned that the number 2 lesson learned under Alma was stated that once we have been forgiven- we remember our sins no more. I think we can still remember our sins but once the Lord has forgiven us He remembers them no more. Is that right?

Debbie Lunt said...

People like you make callings a little easier to prepare fun things for the youth. Thank you for your time and sharing your talent.

Kar said...

Well, this is a tough one. In Alma's experience, in verse 19, he says he was harrowed up by the memory of his sins no more. We also know that The Lord remembers them no more. I don't know to what extent Alma the Younger's memory was "wiped." I think it's a little different for everyone. As for me personally, I think I could remember sins I have repented of if I really dug in to my brain. But my brain doesn't ever feel like going to that place. And I feel a sense of dissociation about the sins. Where before, they were in the forefront of my mind - constant guilt - now they are in the far reaches of my memory, and difficult to dig up.

Alison said...

This is fantastaic! I"ve totally bookmarked your site and check it every week for ideas! Thank you so much!!

JarredRyansMom said...

Please keep this up for a while, I look at it almost every week (and have been for over a year now!) and it gives me other ideas as well. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration!

Shareen said...

I've continually used your lessons as a reference in my Sunday School calling over the years. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I use your blog every week when I plan my lesson @

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