1. Making Connections
I called a boy and a girl from my class a few days before church. I asked them each to prepare to share what they have learned recently about the apostasy or the restoration in priesthood and Young Women's, respectively. So I started out with each of them sharing that. They did a great job.
Then we opened the scriptures to 1 Ne. 19:23 and I had one person read it aloud. I asked them what it means to liken the scriptures unto us. A couple of them raised their hands and talked about comparing the circumstances of the people in the scriptures to our own circumstances.
Then I pointed out that we can do the same thing - likening - with the events of the Apostasy and the Restoration.
2. Likening Maze
I had printed out the section on Likening from Teaching, No Greater Call. I had us read it together, each student reading a paragraph. They moaned about so much reading at first, but I assured them that it wouldn't take long, and that they needed to pay attention, because we were going to do an activity with what we learned. Here is the section we read:
LikeningWe should “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23). To liken the scriptures means to see how scripture accounts are similar to circumstances today and to show how the principles they teach are relevant in our lives. For example, in a lesson about standing up for the truth, you could liken the story of Abinadi in the court of King Noah to those you teach (see Mosiah 11–17). To teach about our spiritual blindness and the Savior’s power to heal us and give us greater spiritual vision, you could liken the story of Christ healing the blind man (see John 9).
You will use this method most effectively when you give family members or class members an opportunity to ponder what they read. For example, after teaching about Joseph Smith’s response when he was nearly overcome by the adversary in the Sacred Grove (see Joseph Smith—History 1:15–16), you could ask learners to recall and even write down an experience in which they were tried and tested. Then you could invite them to think about why it is important in times of trial to exert “all [our] powers to call upon God” (verse 16).
To help family members and class members see that the scriptures are relevant, you should teach in ways that connect the experiences of the prophets and people of the past to the experiences of individuals today. As you prepare each lesson, ask yourself how the principle (or story or event) is like something family members or class members have experienced in their own lives. For example, if you are teaching a lesson that includes a discussion of the Ten Commandments, you might wonder how to teach about the commandment against making and worshiping graven images (see Exodus 20:4–5). Most members of the Church have had little experience with the worship of graven images. However, there are many other things that people sometimes “worship.” As you teach, you might liken the ancient commandment in Exodus 20:4–5 to something more familiar: modern society’s worship of money, athleticism, pleasure, or popularity.
Almost every story in the scriptures can be likened to our lives. Consider the following story about a teacher who likened a scripture account to those she taught:
One ward was experiencing problems with Primary teachers providing treats every week during class. The treats detracted from the Spirit and focused the children’s attention away from the lessons. The Primary president asked the ward teacher improvement coordinator to present a sharing time that would address the problem.
The teacher improvement coordinator pondered ways to present the ideas to both the teachers and the children. None of the approaches seemed to be quite right. Then as she reflected again on her assignment one morning, she was reminded of the account of Christ feeding the 5,000, which her family had recently read together. She remembered that after Jesus fed the multitude, there were people who followed Him because they wanted to be given food, not because they wanted to hear the gospel (see John 6:26–27).
That Sunday, the teacher improvement coordinator related this story. She used the story to teach the true reason for coming to Primary: to give and receive spiritual food.
Another way to help others liken the scriptures to themselves is to ask them to insert themselves into the scriptural text. For example, if someone places himself or herself in James 1:5–6, the teaching on prayer becomes as applicable to him or her as it was to Joseph Smith:
“If [I] lack wisdom, let [me] ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given [me]. But let [me] ask in faith, nothing wavering.”
Many times we can liken the scriptures to our lives by asking, “What did the prophet who recorded this account want us to learn from it? Why did he include these particular details?” When we ask these questions about the story of Enos, for example, we can discover applications to our own experiences with prayer. We can learn that praying sometimes takes much effort and that Heavenly Father answers our prayers. We can also learn that parents influence their children, even though it may take many years for the children to follow their parents’ teachings.
As we liken the scriptures to ourselves and help others do the same, we will be able to see the power of the word of God in every aspect of our lives.
- Teaching, No Greater Call (1999), 170–71
Then I handed out these mazes, which are from a Family Home Evening manual, on a completely different topic. I just changed it to fit this topic. You'll see. Here's the maze worksheet I gave them:
The kids thought this was hilarious, because the maze is seriously easy, and they could have just done the maze by themselves, but I told them to indulge me.
Here are the statements I gave them:
Questions and Answers for “Likening – A Review Activity”
- In a lesson about standing up for the truth, you could liken the story of Abinadi in the court of King Noah to those you teach. (True.)
- The best way to help people to liken is not to let them ponder what they've read for very long. (False.)
- A strategy for likening is this – as you prepare each lesson, ask yourself if you want a sandwich. (False.)
- Almost every story in the scriptures can be likened to our lives. (True.)
- The treats the Primary teachers brought detracted from the Spirit and focused the children's attention away from the lessons. (True.)
- As the teacher improvement coordinator reflected on her assignment, she was reminded of the story of Enos. (False.)
- The teacher used the story of Christ feeding the 5,000 to teach the true reason for coming to Primary: to give and receive spiritual food. (True.)
- When you're trying to liken, it does not help to insert yourself into the scriptural text. (False.)
- James 1:5-6 says, in part, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask his mom.” (False.)
- A good strategy for likening is to ask why the prophets recorded the things they did. (True.)
Strategies You Can Use to Liken the Scriptures to Yourselves
2. Insert yourself into the scriptural text. (“If [I] lack wisdom, let [me] ask of God...)
3. Ask yourself why the prophets recorded the things they did.
3. Likening the Apostasy to Ourselves
I gave each student a copy of this quote from True to the Faith:
Periods of general apostasy have occurred throughout the history of the world. After times of righteousness, people have often turned to wickedness. One example is the Great Apostasy, which occurred after the Savior established His Church. After the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles, men
corrupted the principles of the gospel and made unauthorized changes in Church organization and priesthood ordinances. Because of this widespread wickedness, the Lord withdrew the authority of the priesthood from the earth.
- True to the Faith (2004), 13–14
Then I made the chart on the board that they suggested we make in the lesson, with The Great Apostasy on the left, and Personal Apostasy on the right. I had them look at their quote and tell me the events that caused the great apostasy. Then we tried to find comparisons straight across the chart for personal apostasy. Here is a chart of what we came up with:
The Great Apostasy
The apostles were killed after the death of Christ.
Rejecting or criticizing the living apostles.
Men corrupted the principles of the gospel.
Misunderstanding the scriptures.
Unauthorized changes in Church organization.
Not supporting the leaders in your ward or stake.
Unauthorized changes in Priesthood ordinances.
Not living worthy of the priesthood, not showing proper respect
toward the priesthood.
Disobeying the commandments.
Then I had one student read this quote about guarding against personal apostasy:
Although there will not be another general apostasy from the truth, we must each guard against
personal apostasy. You can safeguard yourself against personal apostasy by keeping your covenants, obeying the commandments, following Church leaders, partaking of the sacrament, and constantly strengthening your testimony through daily scripture study, prayer, and service.
- True to the Faith (2004), 13-14
4. Likening the Restoration to Ourselves
I really loved the video they showed of the teenagers likening the restoration to themselves. I don't have a laptop, but I found the video on youtube and got it all set up on my smart phone so that I could show it to my students.
*We ran out of time at this point! But the video is really a nice way to end the class. If we had had more time, I would have done this:
I was going to hand out slips of paper with transcripts of what each teenager in the movie said and have my students look for ways that the youth in the video relate the events of the Restoration to their own lives:
Directions: Here is a transcript of part of the video you just watched. Re-read what this young man said, and be prepared to tell the class how he related the first vision to his life.
Right now, we're at the Sacred Grove, where the first vision and the beginning of our Church started here at this place. I know I'm weak and I know I give in to temptation so easily, and I asked Heavenly Father for strength that I may stay steadfast, and I'll always have this feeling to be with me. All of my fears were taken away. If you lack wisdom, you can ask of God. I didn't know that before. I didn't believe it until I actually did it in faith.
Directions: Here is a transcript of part of the video you just watched. Re-read what this young woman said, and be prepared to tell the class how she related the vision from the angel Moroni to her life.
We're outside the Joseph Smith log home, and in the upper floor in the bedroom is where Joseph Smith received the vision from the angel Moroni when he was 17 years old. Joseph Smith was so young when he had both the first vision and when the angel Moroni came to him. To me, that just shows that, to God, age is no barrier, because He has the eternal perspective, and He knows our divine potential, and He knows what is best for us and what He needs us to do to help progress his work.
Directions: Here is a transcript of part of the video you just watched. Re-read what this young woman said, and be prepared to tell the class how she related the organization of the Church to her life.
I'm Darby Welpham, I'm 16, I live in Palmyra, New York, and we are currently at the Whitmer Farm. Pretty much this is just where everything started; this is where the first Church gatherings were held, this is where the Church was organized. You look at the Conference Center, at all those people in that huge building, and this is where the humble beginnings, like, everything started. It just kind of proves that, like, literally, anything is possible through the Lord. I mean, if a meeting of a few people here can turn into what the Church is today, if the Lord is on your side and you're doing his work, anything can get done, and anything's possible.
Directions: Here is a transcript of part of the video you just watched. Re-read what this young man said, and be prepared to tell the class how he related the events that happened in Nauvoo to his life.
We're currently standing in Nauvoo, Illinois, at the Nauvoo temple. It's a place where sacrifice is so evident, and allows for people and myself to reach beyond the grave and to really focus on our heritage and look back on the past and how those people really overcame their trials and sacrificed their entire lives up to the Lord, and how I can honor that personally, go to the temple and really do family history work and value everything they did by using the temple.
Directions: Here is a transcript of part of the video you just watched. Re-read what this young man said, and be prepared to tell the class how he related the old homes of early church members to his life.
We're at the Brigham Young home in Nauvoo. Growing up in the 21st century and trying to live a righteous life, it's really difficult to, you know, get away from the world sometimes. And the homes they have here are so family-centered, that's inspired me so much to make my home a little bit more family-centered and to make sure that is the primary focus that we have.
Directions: Here is a transcript of part of the video you just watched. Re-read what this young woman said, and be prepared to tell the class how she related the crossing of the Saints over the Mississippi River to her life.
We're here by the Mississippi river, where the Saints crossed to go to the west. I think that we all have different experiences where we have to overcome trials, and it's the same as the Saints crossing the river in a way. We all have to cross the river. The best thing that I can do is just try to keep the Spirit with me and live worthy, to stand in holy places, and to go to the temple and receive the blessings there.
I was going to have each student share what they came up with after giving them a couple of minutes to read their slip of paper and think.