December: Building the Kingdom of God in the Latter Days

HOW CAN I PREPARE TO ESTABLISH A CHRIST-CENTERED HOME?

PICTIONARY/PYRAMID GAME

Play a combination of two old TV game shows: Pictionary and The $10,000 Pyramid. Write up the words below on slips of paper. Have one student choose a paper, then draw it on the board while the others guess what it is. This is the Pictionary part of the game. After each word is guessed, tape it onto a poster so that it can. For the $10,000 Pyramid part of the game, the students try to guess the category that all these words describe. Once the category is guessed, “things in a Christ-centered home,” write it on the top of the poster. Read together some of the scriptures in the lesson on the church website.

Encourage the students to name more items that could be added to the list, and share experiences in which they have seen these things in a home and the effect that it had upon them. Challenge the students to incorporate one additional item into their home this week to make it more focused on Christ’s teachings.

Family prayer

Scripture study

Marriage

Laughter

Family home evening

Reading Books

Uplifting Art

Healthy food

Exercise

Games

Helping others

Cleaning

Doing dishes

Friends

Forgiveness

Love

Happiness

Smiles

Work

Hugging

Eating together

Teaching

Support

Sharing


Sympathy

HOW CAN I LEARN TO SERVE MORE EFFECTIVELY IN THE CHURCH?  WHAT ARE EFFECTIVE WAYS TO SHARE THE GOSPEL WITH OTHERS?

(Display a Nativity Set)

(Paraphrase the story of The Other Wise Man, by Henry Van Dyke, or read a children's picture book version, my favorite is by Pamela Kennedy.)

I want to read to you a scripture about Christmas:  "Let no man despise thy youth: but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Tim. 4:12)  You thought it was a scripture about missionary work!  Actually this scripture is about every situation, every holiday, every time and season, every school day, work day, and vacation day in every age of our lives.

(List on the board:  Word, Conversation, Charity, Spirit, Faith, Purity.  Aren't Word and Conversation the same thing?  In the Bible, "conversation" means "conduct or behavior."  [See the footnote to the scripture.]  Change Conversation to Conduct on the board.)

Discuss how the fictitious "other wise man" showed these attributes.  Ponder how the following wise men show them.  (Ask them each to write down what they notice for discussion afterwards.  If you have a younger class, you may want to tell them these men are in a hurry to get home on Christmas Eve before you show the video so they get what's going on.)

(Show either "What Shall We Give?" or "Wise Men Still Seek Him" which each depict three modern-day wise men having correct priorities at Christmastime.  Download them first!) 

We must remember that Christmas is about service, and we should not let our comfortable family traditions become more important than our charity and service.  It is when we are stressed (as these men were, being late to the Christmas party) that we show who we really are, and what we really believe.  (You may want to discuss individual acts from the video and how they relate to the scripture.)

President Monson from "The Savior's Call to Serve:"  "May we ever remember that the mantle of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a cloak of comfort but rather a robe of responsibility...I pause when I think of the words of President John Taylor: 'If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty."

President Monson from "Examples of Righteousness:"  "Every one of us has been foreordained for some work as [God's] chosen servant on whom he has seen fit to confer the priesthood and power to act in his name."  This includes sisters, who function within the priesthood, as does everything and everyone in the Church.

HERE IS ANOTHER LESSON PLAN ON THIS SAME TOPIC

I want to read to you a scripture about Christmas:  "Let no man despise thy youth: but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Tim. 4:12)  You thought it was a scripture about missionary work!  Actually this scripture is about every situation, every holiday, every time and season, every school day, work day, and vacation day in every age of our lives.

(List on the board:  Word, Conversation, Charity, Spirit, Faith, Purity.  Aren't Word and Conversation the same thing?  In the Bible, "conversation" means "conduct or behavior."  [See the footnote to the scripture.]  Change Conversation to Conduct on the board.)

President Monson from "Examples of Righteousness:"  "Every one of us has been foreordained for some work as [God's] chosen servant on whom he has seen fit to confer the priesthood and power to act in his name."  This includes sisters, who function within the priesthood, as does everything and everyone in the Church.

(Pick up Mary from the Nativity set.)  Mary, the mother of Jesus, is possibly the greatest example of foreordination among women.  Luke 1:30-34 tells of Mary's calling, and verse 38 tells of her acceptance.  (Ask each class member to come up, one at a time, choose a figure from the Nativity set, and tell how that person exemplifies one of the characteristics on the board.  Read Luke chapter 2 as the class listens for ideas.  You could also read Matthew 2 which tells about the wise men, whose visit came later.  After each sharing, ask how we can be show that attribute in our lives, and in our Christmas.)

Some possibilities:

WORD
   Mary: Answered positively to accept a very difficult burden from the Lord.
   Angels: Told the shepherds about the Baby.
   Shepherds:  Spread the gospel.
   Wise Men:  Studied the gospel and the signs of Christ's coming.
   Jesus:  Was THE WORD, and brought the Gospel to all.
   Us:  Study the scriptures, speak only uplifting things, give up foul language, share the gospel, give compliments, write Christmas cards, share our testimonies, tell family members we love them, give good home teaching messages.

CONDUCT
   Mary & Joseph: Took care of the Baby and raised Him to be holy.
   Shepherds: Went immediately to see the Son of God.
   Wise Men: Traveled far to find and worship the Child.
   Jesus: "Went about doing good" throughout his life.
   Us: Act like Christians every moment of the week, don't change with the situation, fulfill our callings, be kind to our families, serve others, do extra around the house, obey our parents, be honest, don't put off doing what is right.

CHARITY
   Mary & Joseph:  Gave up their dream wedding and their social standing in order to bring Jesus into the world.  Were loving and caring parents.
   Wise Men:  Sacrificed a great deal to show their love for the Savior.  They brought expensive and highly symbolic gifts for Him.
   Jesus:  His condescension from the Great Creator to a helpless baby born into poverty shows his great love.  His later suffering in Gethsemane and Golgatha to make repentance, sanctification, resurrection and eternal life possible for us is the greatest example of love ever shown.
   Us:  Show love for everyone, even other drivers, even other shoppers, even our own siblings, even bullies at school, even homeless beggars.  (The greatest outpouring of love from heaven I ever felt in my life was when the Spirit pushed me to hug an obnoxious, screaming, frantic beggar on Temple Square.  I physically could not walk past her: the Spirit forced me to comfort her and hug her and tell her God loved her.  The powerful feeling flowed through me to her and she immediately calmed down and felt peaceful.  I felt amazed and overwhelmed by this experience for months, and could hardly speak of it without losing control, and rarely did because it was so incredibly sacred.  She was clearly a drug addict in withdrawal, and clearly lying about what she intended to do with any money she got.  That's probably why God made sure I forgot my money that day, but He wanted her to feel His love. He knew that's what she needed, and I got to be the hugger.  It was an amazing privilege I will always treasure.  I hope I can always be God's hugger.)

SPIRIT
   All of them through the Holy Ghost received a testimony of the Messiah.
   Shepherds: Would likely have been spiritual men, as the sheep outside of Jerusalem would have been temple sheep, kept for the sacrifices.
    Wise Men:  May have been Jews scattered from Israel, or may have been foreigners, but they followed the guidance of the Spirit to find him.
   Us:  If we lose the Spirit, we have lost everything!  With the Spirit, we have everything.  The Spirit will tell us how to find Jesus in our own lives, how to worship Him, how to serve His children, what paths to take to fulfill our missions, and how to lead others to Him.

FAITH
   Shepherds and Wise Men:  Had to have great faith to behold the angels, and to recognize the star, things others did not see.  Followed through with that faith to journey to see the Child.
   Mary & Joseph:  Had faith in God's calling for them as parents of the Christ Child.
   Mary:  "Pondered" the things of the Spirit.  This is one attribute of a great mother.
   Jesus:  By faith He created the earth.  By faith He fulfilled his awful calling.  By faith He still powers the universe. 
   Us: Through faith, we can accept God's will for our life, be obedient, be partners with Jesus, and always accomplish whatever He needs us to.  Through faith, we can do things that are way too hard for us.  Through faith, we can lose fear.
  From President Benson:  "[The Lord] will not permit us to fail if we do our part.  He will magnify us even beyond our own talents and abilities...It is one of the sweetest experiences that can come to a human being." (In Teaching No Greater Call, p. 20)

PURITY
  Mary is the most obvious example here, but they all must have kept themselves pure to have been instantly ready to meet their Savior.
  Jesus, of course, is the greatest and only complete example of purity that ever lived--a purity that never needed repentance.
  Us:  We each, by partaking of His gift of the Atonement, can also be pure.
  From President Monson:  "There is no friendship more valuable than your own clear conscience, your own moral cleanliness..."

If we are to be like those first believers at the birth of Jesus, it will show.  From Elder Nelson, "Be Thou An Example of the Believers:"  "Your good works will be evident to others.  The light of the Lord can beam from your eyes.  With that radiance, you had better prepare for questions.  The Apostle Peter so counseled, '...Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you...' (1 Peter 3:15)  Let your response be warm and joyful.  And let your response be relevant to that individual.  Remember, he or she is also a child of God, that very God who dearly wants that person to qualify for eternal life and return to Him one day."
 
HOW CAN I BECOME A BETTER LEADER?  WHAT ARE EFFECTIVE WAYS TO SHARE THE GOSPEL WITH OTHERS?

Both of these questions are most easily answered in one word:  Love.

An excellent example of loving service was shown by Gail "Hal" Halvorsen, the "Candy Bomber" of Post World War II Germany.  His story was featured in the 2012 Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert, "Home For the Holidays," which is available on DVD from Deseret Book.  It is feature #11 on the DVD, "Christmas From Heaven," and lasts just under 10 minutes.  I plan to show this segment to my class, and give them each a chocolate bar on a handkerchief parachute.

Brother Halvorsen was an American pilot who dropped candy and with it, hope and goodwill, to German children during the Berlin airlift.

If you don't have access to that DVD, no worries:  his remarkable story is available in the December 1977 New Era, and there are several YouTube videos online that he narrated himself with his own video footage from his experiences in Germany, and many other still pictures of him and his experiences available online through Google Images, if you want to show more pictures and hear his own voice.  He also tells his own story on http://www.mormonchannel.org/why-i-believe/42.  This is an hour-long audio episode, but you may find some snippets that you could share with your class.  (Be sure to download it, rather than trusting in WiFi reception.) 

Tom Brokaw's narration from the Tabernacle Choir Concert has also been illustrated and published as a children's book by Deseret Book, called Christmas From Heaven.

Andrei Cherny, author of the biographical book The Candy Bombers, claims that Hal Halvorsen by his simple act of dropping candy, changed the tide of international relations between Germany and the U.S.  In fact, he credits Hal with changing the world.

An interesting sidelight to this story, and another way that the Lord's hand can be seen in the world-changing event, is that Brother Halvorsen had a terrible cold when he shipped off to Europe.  Of course, Kleenexes were not available at that time, so he bought all the handkerchiefs he could find.  Going by my memory, I believe he bought 100, but I could be wrong, except it was a large number.  Those were the first handkerchiefs used for dropping candy.

HOW CAN I LEARN TO SERVE MORE EFFECTIVELY IN THE CHURCH?


A BREAD-MAKING PARABLE
By Nancy Wyatt Jensen
(Copyrighted; permission granted to copy for 
gospel teaching purposes)
Once there was a baker who wanted to bake a loaf of bread.  He called all the ingredients together and asked them to help.  They all agreed that it would be great to make bread, but you will see how well it worked.
The first time the baker tried to bake bread, the yeast felt inadequate.  She thought of herself as just a coarse, grainy substance, with no spectacular qualifications.  Even when the baker told her that with his mixing and kneading and the help of the sugar and warm milk, she would rise to the occasion, she didn't believe it and wouldn't get in the mixing bowl.  The end result was a flat loaf of bread. 
[Post wordstrip:  Felt Inadequate for the Calling]
The second time the baker tried to bake bread, the oil had been thrilled to be asked to participate, but got so busy frying donuts and French fries late the night before, that she slept in and forgot all about getting in the mixing bowl.  The end result was a very tough loaf of bread. 
[Post wordstrip: The Calling was a Low Priority]
The third time the baker tried to bake bread, the sugar didn't show up.  She knew that her role was only to support the yeast, and she felt the yeast could easily handle the job of rising by herself.  The end result was a thick and heavy loaf of bread. 
[Post wordstrip: The Calling Seemed Insignificant]
The fourth time the baker tried to bake bread, the salt felt annoyed with her job.  It was a lot of work to spread herself so thin to flavor the entire loaf.  If she had had a better job--or at least one that was more prestigious, like the flour's--she would have happily climbed in the mixing bowl.  The end result was a bitter loaf of bread. 
[Post wordstrip:  Didn't Like That Particular Calling]
The fifth time the baker tried to bake bread, the milk was frustrated.  Although she poured herself into her work, no one seemed to notice in the end.  So she stayed in the fridge rather than waste her time and effort.  The end result was a hard, cracked loaf of bread. 
[Post wordstrip: Felt Unappreciated]
The sixth time the baker tried to bake bread, the flour had already been asked to be in the gravy, the biscuits, the pretzels, and two batches of cookies.  She was sick and tired of doing more than her fair share, so she just plain turned down the request to get in the mixing bowl.  The end result was a glob of goo that didn't remotely resemble bread.
[Post wordstrip: Resented Being Overworked]
The seventh time the baker tried to bake bread, the flour, the sugar, the oil, the yeast, the salt, and the milk realized that each of them was essential to the baking of bread.  They each realized that, working together, they were much more than they had been alone.  They each realized their jobs were equally important, although different.  Each finally offered her services in the mixing bowl with a joyful heart and a trust in the baker and his recipe.  The end result was a light and beautiful loaf of bread, much more nourishing, delicious and fulfilling than any of them had imagined. 
[Display a loaf of bread.]
(Note:  If you have the time and means to "teach through tastebuds," you can make tiny loaves of bread using frozen Rhodes Texas Roll Dough.  Thaw and roll into 4-inch loaves and place them either in 2 x 4 inch mini loaf pans, or an inch apart from each other in a rectangular pan.  Follow the instructions for rising and baking printed on the package.)

In Christ's call and instruction to the twelve apostles in Matt. 10, we find these familiar phrases:  "Freely ye have received, freely give" (v. 8), and "He who seeketh to save his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (v. 39 JST).  These commands apply to our own service in the Kingdom as well. 

We are not often in jeopardy of dying for the gospel cause, but this scripture applies to the way we live for the gospel cause as well.  We sometimes seek to "save" our lives by hoarding our time and talents and everything with which we have been blessed, or by holding back just a little corner of them from the Lord.  Anytime we do so, we are abandoning the Law of Consecration. 

We don't have to be called as Apostles to be expected to give our all.  At the time of President Hinckley's call as the prophet, he said:

"Now, my brethren and sisters...I wish to leave with you one thought which I hope you will never forget.  This church does not belong to its President. Its head is the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name each of us has taken upon ourselves. We are all in this great endeavor together. We are here to assist our Father in His work and His glory, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere. No calling in this church is small or of little consequence. All of us in the pursuit of our duty touch the lives of others. To each of us in our respective responsibilities the Lord has said:

"'Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees' (D&C 81:5). 

"'And in doing these things thou wilt do the greatest good unto thy fellow beings, and wilt promote the glory of him who is your Lord' (D&C 81:4). 

"Further, 'And if thou art faithful unto the end thou shalt have a crown of immortality, and eternal life in the mansions which I have prepared in the house of my Father' (D&C 81:6).
"All of us in this great cause are of one mind, of one belief, of one faith.  You have as great an opportunity for satisfaction in the performance of your duty as I do in mine. The progress of this work will be determined by our joint efforts. Whatever your calling, it is as fraught with the same kind of opportunity to accomplish good as is mine. What is really important is that this is the work of the Master. Our work is to go about doing good as did He...

"Unitedly, working hand in hand, we shall move forward as servants of the living God, doing the work of His Beloved Son, our Master, whom we serve and whose name we seek to glorify."(President Gordon B. Hinckley, "This is the Work of the Master,", April 1995 General Conference)

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for your efforts to put these together. I can't tell you what a blessing they are.

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  2. I continue to look at your posts for ideas and inspiration. You're an amazing teacher and I want to thank you for all your efforts! They bless more than you realize!

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  3. What inspiring thoughts and stories and lessons! You bless us all by posting these. Thank you from the bottom of my heart

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  4. This has been so helpful to me as I prepare my lessons, thank you!

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