Monday, November 3, 2014

The Lesson - How can I find answers to my own gospel questions? - What I Would Do

Alright, so...a couple of years ago, when I first got this calling, I got a hysterectomy in November. Which really doesn't explain why I only have one week's lesson plan for November in my archives... Ah well.  It is what it is.  I used to be really busy with kids and being a mom and being...normal.  (I kind of miss that.)  So I guess I just never got the chance to put the lesson plan up here.  Plus, Ben had just gotten home from China!  Obvi, I just wanted to spend time with him - not as much time to update the ole' blog when he got home.

And then last year, we started going to our new ward (which we would only be a part of for 8 whole months before Mr. Cancer reared his ugly head) at the beginning of November.  So this explains why November has only one measly lesson plan.  However, in my quest to do something besides watch the dumb TV, I'm going to try to work on this lesson on finding answers to our own gospel questions. My quest is two-fold, as you know.  My hubby is in the Sunday School presidency and may need to sub at the last minute every now and then.  So this is for him, too.

Why is it that he and I seem to always be separated?  Blech to that.  That's what I say.

Introduction

When I was thinking of questions we have and why it's important to find those answers for ourselves, I was thinking about how dumb it is to let gospel questions we have just...hang there.  What is the point of questions if we can't answer them?  So I thought of this game we used to play in college, in my FHE group.  I thought it would be a fun intro to the lesson.

So in the Question Game, you sit in a circle.  Someone starts by asking a question to someone else in the circle.  You indicate to whom you're talking by making eye contact with them.  That person cannot answer the question.  He has to turn to someone else in the circle and ask a question of them. And on and on.  If someone answers the question instead of turning and asking another question, they're out of the circle.  If they can't think of a question in enough time, they're out of the circle.  It's a funny game.  It's soooo hard not to answer some of the questions; to instead turn to someone else and ask a question.  We're so used to answering questions that it seems strange not to do so. Eventually, it will get down to two people, asking each other rapid-fire questions, and one is bound to become the winner.  (Hint:  I always thought of questions before each round would start, so that I wouldn't just sit there with my mouth wide open, with no question to ask, when it was my turn to ask one.  It helped.)

So after you play it, just point out that questions are made to be answered!  And that our lesson today is on finding answers to our gospel questions.

The Scriptures Teach Us about Questions and Answers

I was thinking of dividing the class into groups for this one, but there are only a few scriptures.  I think you could do this part as a group.  Have all of the kids turn to each scripture, and before they read it, remind them that they're looking for principles about asking questions and getting answers.  In fact, write that at the top of the board:  "Principles about asking questions and getting answers."

Sometimes, I pick one kid to write on the board.  For some reason, they pay better attention when one of their own is up there, writing, than if you are up there writing.  So, you can direct the reading of the verse, guide them to come up with what they want to write on the board, and tell the kid at the board what to write.  Here's what I came up with from each verse:

Matthew 7:7 - Heavenly Father will answer our questions.
D&C 6:14-15 - Heavenly Father wants us to ask questions of Him.
                       - Questions are often answered by the Spirit.
                       - Heavenly Father answers our questions.
                       - Heavenly Father answers our questions by enlightening our minds.
D&C 9:7-9 - Come to a decision first, and then come to Heavenly Father and make sure that your decision is right.
                   - If it's right, you'll feel your bosom burning.
                   - If it's wrong, you'll feel a stupor of thought.

Getting Answers to Questions

In this same paragraph of the lesson, it asks why sometimes we don't get answers to our questions immediately or completely.  There's this article in the Friend Magazine from ages ago that I think I might have used before in this class.  If you've seen it before, I apologize, but it's such a good way to teach this principle - that sometimes the answer is quick to come, and sometimes the answer is "wait".  Here's the link.  If you don't want to head over there, here's the story:

Fasting and Prayer

It was still early on Sunday morning as Dad called the family together.
“Where’s Mom?” six-year-old Katie asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
“That’s what I need to talk to all of you about,” Dad answered. “I took Mom to the airport this morning. Grandpa called late last night to tell us that Grandma is very sick. Mom has gone to help them.”
“Is Grandma going to die?” Melanie asked, her eyes filling with tears.
“I don’t know, sweetheart.” Dad put his arm around her. “Grandpa doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong. Mom will call us after she arrives and has a chance to talk to the doctor. Meanwhile, there is something we can do to help.”
“We can pray for Grandma,” Katie said, kneeling and folding her arms.
“Exactly right, honey,” Dad said. “And we can fast for Grandma today, too. Let’s begin our fast with a prayer. Would you offer it for us, Katie?”
The little family knelt together, and Katie prayed, “Heavenly Father, please bless Grandma. Bless Grandpa, too, so he won’t worry too much. And help Mama so she can come home soon. We are fasting for them today.”
Everyone felt peaceful as Katie finished the prayer and they prepared to go to church.
At home after church, Dad pulled two big photo albums from the shelf and told the children about some of the pictures. They talked all afternoon about their many happy memories of Grandma. Then, when it was time to end their fast and have supper, they knelt to give thanks for the day and to once again ask for a special blessing for Grandma.
Mom telephoned just as the children were getting ready for bed. “Grandma is going to be just fine,” she said. “I’ll stay to help Grandpa for a few days while Grandma rests. I’ll be home by Friday.”
After everyone had told Mom about their day and their fast for Grandma, they gathered again for family prayer. “Before we pray,” Dad said, “tell me what you learned today about fasting and prayer.”
“Heavenly Father answered our prayers,” Rachel responded.
“That’s true,” Dad said. “We know that He always answers our prayers. Sometimes the answer is yes, as it was today.”
“Sometimes it’s no, “ Melanie put in, “like when I prayed for my team to win the tournament and we lost.”
“That’s right, Melanie,” Dad said. “Sometimes the answer is ‘no.’ And sometimes the answer is ‘not yet—just wait and be patient.’ But Heavenly Father always answers our prayers in the way that is best for us. Did you learn anything else?”
Katie said, “Fasting helped me feel close to Heavenly Father.”
Natalie added, “Fasting today wasn’t as hard as it usually is. I didn’t even feel hungry! Is that because we were fasting for Grandma, not just going without food?”
Dad nodded. “Fasting helps us learn to control our bodies and it helps us develop faith. When we are baptized, we make a sacred promise to Heavenly Father that we will bear one another’s burdens and comfort those who need comfort. We have surely kept that covenant today as we fasted and prayed for Grandma.”
That night, family prayer was a prayer of gratitude—for Grandma feeling better, that Mom was coming home soon, and for keeping their baptismal covenant through fasting and prayer.
You could easily change parts of the story - take parts out about fasting, for example.  Whatever you need.  My teenagers LOVED the puppets.  I kid you not.  Teenagers love anything that entertains them.  They didn't even make fun of me.  They were like, "I want to be Rachel!!!"  Here's the JPEG for the puppet thingeys - you use popsicle sticks:
These puppets have come in handy for those Sunday mornings when one of my kids is like, "Oh no!  I have to give a talk in primary today!"  Bam.  We got the popsicle puppets.

Is It True?

I think at this point I would want to work on the section of the lesson from Elder Uchtdorf's talk.  It would definitely be time for a sheetie.  Now here's the deal - you can show the actual part of the talk by going to this link and then fast-fowarding to 35 minutes into it.  That is the section the lesson is talking about.  Then hand out the worksheets below.  Have the kids watch the portion and answer the questions, and then discuss what they came up with when they're done.  OR, you can have them read the portion of the talk (a dear reader found a link for me) and then do the worksheet.  Here's a hard copy of the "Is It True?" portion of President Uchtdorf's talk:

Is It True?
Now the next issue: What about doubts and questions? How do you find out that the gospel is true? Is it all right to have questions about the Church or its doctrine? My dear young friends, we are a question-asking people because we know that inquiry leads to truth. That is the way the Church got its start — from a young man who had questions. In fact, I'm not sure how one can discover truth without asking questions. In the scriptures you will rarely discover a revelation that didn't come in response to a question. Whenever a question arose and Joseph Smith wasn't sure of the answer, he approached the Lord, and the results are the wonderful revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. Often the knowledge Joseph received extended far beyond the original question. That is because not only can the Lord answer the questions we ask but, even more importantly, He can give us answers to questions we should have asked. Let us listen to those answers.

The missionary effort of the Church is founded upon honest investigators asking heartfelt questions. Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony. Some might feel embarrassed or unworthy because they have searching questions regarding the gospel, but they needn't feel that way. Asking questions isn't a sign of weakness; it's a precursor of growth.

God commands us to seek answers to our questions and asks only that we seek "with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ." When we do so, the truth of all things can be manifested to us "by the power of the Holy Ghost."

Fear not; ask questions. Be curious, but doubt not! Always hold fast to faith and to the light you have already received. Because we see imperfectly in mortality, not everything is going to make sense right now. In fact, I should think that if everything did make sense to us, it would be evidence that it had all been made up by a mortal mind. Remember that God has said:

"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. . . .

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Nevertheless, you know that one of the purposes of mortality is to become more like your Heavenly Father in your thoughts and in your ways. Viewed from this perspective, searching for answers to your questions can bring you closer to God, strengthening your testimony instead of shaking it. It's true that "faith is not . . . a perfect knowledge," but as you exercise your faith, applying gospel principles every day under any circumstances, you will taste the sweet fruits of the gospel, and by this fruit you will know of its truth.


Reflection on the Water - Is it True?

Watch the portion of Elder Uchtdorf's 2009 CES fireside and see if you can answer these questions.  If you find it hard to do that, in the space provided, jot down notes about this topic, and we'll discuss them when the talk is finished.

1.  Why does the Lord want us to be a question-asking people? 

2.  What is the difference between asking questions about the gospel and doubting its truthfulness?

My answer key:  
1.  Inquiry leads to truth.  That’s how the church got its start!  Revelations come in response to questions.  The knowledge we receive extends even beyond the original question.  He can even give us answers to questions we should have asked.  Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony.  Asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness.  It’s a precursor of growth. 
2.  The difference is this - when we ask questions, we seek with a sincere heart, with real intent.  When we do that, the truth can be made manifest by the Holy Ghost.  We are curious, but we don't doubt.  When we ask questions, we need to hold fast to faith and light we’ve already received.  We need to realize that we see imperfectly in mortality.  Not everything makes sense right now.  If it made sense, it would have been made up by a mortal mind.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.  His ways are higher than our ways.   If we sincerely ask questions, these questions will bring you closer to God.  As you exercise faith, you will taste the sweet fruits of the gospel.  You’ll know the Gospel's truth by its fruit.

Answers to the Questions of the Soul

Okay, I think I'd have the kiddos work in pairs for this one.  I made a sheetie to make the assignment a little more clear - kiddos need directions in writing.  Or you will end up telling them what to do approximately 10,000 times.  That's just the way it is.  That's why I do sheeties.  Each of these sheeties is different, so you'll see a few with the same picture, same directions, but different questions and scriptures on them.



The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul

Directions:  With a partner, pick one of the following questions to work on.  Read the scripture that's given with the question.  Write down the answer to the question.  Be prepared to share!


  • Is there a God? (Alma 22)
  • What does Jesus Christ expect of me? (2 Nephi 9)
  • How can a belief in Jesus Christ help me? (Alma 36)

The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul

Directions:  With a partner, pick one of the following questions to work on.  Read the scripture that's given with the question.  Write down the answer to the question.  Be prepared to share!


The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul

Directions:  With a partner, pick one of the following questions to work on.  Read the scripture that's given with the question.  Write down the answer to the question.  Be prepared to share!


The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul

Directions:  With a partner, pick one of the following questions to work on.  Read the scripture that's given with the question.  Write down the answer to the question.  Be prepared to share!

  •  
    How can I find peace and joy? (Mosiah 2, 4)
  •  
    How can my family be happier and more united? (Mosiah 2)
  •  
    How can I balance my family and career? (3 Nephi 13)

The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul

Directions:  With a partner, pick one of the following questions to work on.  Read the scripture that's given with the question.  Write down the answer to the question.  Be prepared to share!

  •  
    How can I strengthen my relationship with my spouse? (3 Nephi 14)
  •  
    How can I avoid the evils that threaten my family? (Alma 39)
  •  
    How can I avoid sin? (Helaman 5)
After the kids have shared their answers, make sure to point out that, in answering their own questions by using the scriptures, the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide are invaluable.  Also, doing searches of general conference talks on lds.org is a great way to go.  Let them know that it's important to find answers to gospel questions from the gospel itself - through the scriptures, through our latter-day prophets, and through prayer.

And that's it!

13 comments:

Melly_cakes said...

Hello,

I just wanted to thank you for all your hard work and thought into planning these lessons. Every week I come to your blog for ideas for my class. You've helped me a lot this year and I appreciate it.

Britain Wilson said...

Thank you for your wonderful lesson ideas and for the time you spend sharing them on your blog! You have been so helpful in my new calling! ! You are brilliant and fun and I love how you still keep with the lesson ideas from come follow me. Really appreciate you sharing! THANKS!!

Primarylady said...

Here is a link for Pres Uchtdorf's talk:
http://199.104.95.22/articles/58360/President-Dieter-F-Uchtdorf-The-Reflection-in-the-Water.html

Thanks for all you do to help us Sunday School teachers! Best wishes on your speedy recovery!

Kar said...

Thank you, Melly Cakes, Britain, and Primary Lady, for your kind words. And Primary Lady, thank you so much for finding a link to the hard copy of the talk! Yess! I'll be putting it into my blog post. You're a lifesaver!

Unknown said...

Thank you for your lesson helps. In the question game, can the questions be about anything? or do you keep them to questions about the church?
Thank you,
Beth

Kar said...

Gosh, Beth, that would probably be a good idea that I wouldn't have thought of. Just so that it doesn't get too rowdy. But it might be harder for the kids to come up with questions quickly if you did that. However, I think one could keep time and give them ten seconds to come up with a question or something.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your help. It worked great. Really got the kids attention. Thanks so much and keep your great ideas a coming! Thanks

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Eric Lindberg said...

Thank you so much for posting these lessons. Even though they are a few years old I still use them all the time. You are amazing!

Brandon said...

Just like Eric, even though these are a few years old they are still super helpful. Also, just wanted to post a couple of links to President Uchtdorf's talk. The full video can be found here https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2009-11-0050-the-reflection-in-the-water?lang=eng and I have trimmed it down to include just the referenced portion here https://youtu.be/6FlvnRAazHM

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