Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pray to Know the Truth Through the Holy Ghost (PMG Lesson 1 Principle 8)

This message of the Restoration is either true or it is not.  You can know of its truth by the Holy Ghost, as promised in Moroni 10:4-5 (last week's scripture).  No one can know of spiritual truths without sincere prayer.  This is what Joseph Smith learned when he read James 1:5 (this is the scripture of the week).  If you want to know the truth, you must pray.

Do you know how to pray?  Let's review the steps.
1. Address Heavenly Father (Our Father in Heaven, Dear Heavenly Father, etc)
2.  Thank him for blessings
3.  Ask for answers and help.
4.  Close with "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

*(Optional) There is a song in the Children's Songbook that teaches these steps.  If desired, sing the second verse of "I Pray in Faith" (CS p. 14) to learn or review the steps of prayer.

In answer to our prayers, the Holy Ghost will teach us truth through both feelings and thoughts. What does the Holy Ghost feel like to you? (Lead a discussion about how to recognize the Holy Ghost.)

Song: Search, Ponder, and Pray (CS p. 109)

Offer a kneeling prayer at the end of the lesson.

--Recite James 1:5
--Sing "Search, Ponder, and Pray" (or one of the other songs I have listed below)
--Study one of the following:

1.  Pres Uchtdorf's Oct 2014 conf address "Receiving a testimony of light and truth"

2.  Elder Craig Christensen's Oct 2014 conf address "I Know these things of myself"

3.  D&C 8:2-3

4.  Alma 5:45-46

5.  John 14:26

6. “Studying the Church … through the eyes of its defectors,” Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said, is “like interviewing Judas to understand Jesus. Defectors always tell us more about themselves than about that from which they have departed.”

7.  Sing "I Pray in Faith" (CS pg. 14) if you didn't during your lesson.

8.  Sing "A Child's Prayer" (CS pg. 12)

9.  Sing "Let the Holy Spirit Guide" (Hymn #143)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel (Hymn #252 - chorus only)

Have the kids picture a wagon wheel as tall as they are.  Pretend it's stuck in the mud.  How would you get it out?  You could push it with your hands, but what if that didn't work? Could you turn around and push it with your shoulder and back?  What if you were pushing your hardest but the person who was supposed to push the other wheel was goofing off or refusing to work?

Easy actions to teach the chorus:

Put your shoulder (right arm on left shoulder) to the wheel (brace your feet against the pretend wheel)
Push along (pretend to push with your shoulder)

Do your duty with a heart (both hands on heart)
full of song (smile-- to have a heart full of song means to be cheerful while you work)

We all have work (pretend to hammer a nail)
Let no one shirk (shake your head and wag your finger no -- be sure to explain what "shirk" means)

Put your shoulder (right arm on left shoulder) to the wheel (pretend to push with your shoulder)

Faith (CS p. 96)

Simple actions to teach this song:

Verse 1:
Faith is knowing the sun will rise
(Start on the ground in a ball; rise slowly with your arms rounded above your head like the sun)

Lighting each new day (on the word lighting, have your sun arms slowly open)

Faith is knowing the Lord will hear (hand to your ear)
My prayers (fold arms as if in prayer) each time I pray

Faith is like a little seed (pinch your thumb and pointer finger together as if holding a small seed)

If planted (make a pot with your other hand and pretend to plant the seed)

it will grow (from underneath the pot hand, push the other hand's fingers up and through like a bud, then open the fingers as it grows taller)

Faith is a swelling (continue the growing motion into both arms being raised and opening wide)
within my heart (cover your heart with both hands)

When I do right (thumbs up)
I know (point to your head)

Verse 2:
I have the kids imagine a line stretching from one end of the room to the other. Then I put my right hand sideways, close to my body, as if it's making a notch on the line. This is birth. Look at all the space on the imaginary line that comes before birth. Where were you before your mortal birth?  You lived with God. Then do the same thing with your left hand being death, or when your life ends on earth.  What will happen then?  You can return to God. So your whole mortal life is just the width of your body, while there's all this space on either side of you where you still existed and will exist.

Faith is knowing I lived with God (point that direction on the timeline)
before my mortal birth (place your "birth" hand back on the timeline, making an exaggerated notch on the word birth)
Faith is knowing I can return (point that direction on the timeline)
when my life ends on earth (place your "death" hand back on the timeline, making an exaggerated notch on the word earth)

Faith is trust in God above (ASL for father, then same hand goes up to heaven)
In Christ (ASL for Jesus)
who showed the way (make a straight path with your hands and push it forward)

Faith is strengthened (show arm muscle)
I feel it grow (other arm outlines a bigger muscle)
Whenever I obey (ASL for obey -- one hand on head, the other on the heart, then offering them both)

Dare to Do Right (CS p. 158)

This song can be taught very quickly by using the following actions:

Each time you say the word "right", pump your right fist into the air.

Each time you say "true", raise your right hand as if you're in court swearing to tell the truth.

"You (point to someone else) have a work that
no other (shake your head and wag your finger) can do"

"Do it so bravely (fist over heart)
 so kindly (ASL love-- arms crossed over chest)
so well (thumbs up OR a-ok sign)

"Angels (fling your arms wide above your head, slowly coming back down as you look at all the angels) will hasten the story to tell"
(explain that this means that when you do your very best, the angels get so excited they want to tell everyone how well you have done)

When you do the "dare"s in the chorus, put your hands on your hips, all at once if there is just one "dare", one at a time when they are repeated.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ (PMG Lesson 1 Principle 7)

After all those years of apostasy, when there was so much confusion and misinformation on the earth, our loving Heavenly Father brought forth an ancient volume of scripture comparable to the Bible, which contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This record is The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Let me tell you about it by teaching you a song. [An Angel Came to Joseph Smith (CS p.86)] (It will be taught one verse at a time, as explained below.)

How did the Book of Mormon come about? Read or tell the story of Moroni's visit to Joseph Smith and obtaining and translating the gold plates (JS-H 1:29-54, 59-60). Then sing verse 1.

What does the Book of Mormon contain? Read the first 3 paragraphs of the introduction. Sing verses 2 and 3.

What will you do with this book?  Read the second to last paragraph of the introduction.  Give an invitation to read, ponder, and ask if the Book of Mormon is true.  Sing verse 4.

Read the last paragraph of the introduction.  If you gain a testimony or witness of the Book of Mormon, what additional three things will you also gain a testimony of? (1. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. 2. Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. 3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ's true church, once again restored to earth.)  Why are these all connected?

This week's scripture is Moroni 10:4-5.  Discuss any unfamiliar words and practice it several times.

Bear testimony of the things you have taught.

This week for scripture study: (in addition to singing the song and reciting the scripture)

*1.  Pretend you are a missionary.  Show your "investigator" a copy of the Book of Mormon, briefly explain its contents, then share one or two passages that are meaningful to you.  Bear your testimony of its truthfulness.

* This can be done each night by a different member of the family.

2. Read the Testimonies of Three Witnesses and Eight Witnesses.  Why did the Lord have these witnesses?  Bear your own witness of the Book of Mormon.

3.  Read, sing, or recite the eighth article of faith.  Explain what it means.  Bear your testimony of the Book of Mormon.

4. Read 2 Nephi 3:12.  Explain what it means.  Bear your testimony of the Book of Mormon.

5.  Read the Title page of the Book of Mormon.  Tell us what you learned.  Bear your testimony of the Book of Mormon.

6. Read D&C 42:12 and D&C 35:17.  Discuss the importance of the Book of Mormon in bringing the "fulness of the gospel" to the world.  Bear testimony of the Book of Mormon.

7.  Sing "As I Search the Holy Scriptures" (Hymn #277). Discuss its message and bear testimony of the power of studying the scriptures.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith (PMG Lesson 1 Principle 6)

When the circumstances were right, Heavenly Father again called a prophet to begin the final dispensation.  (Circumstances being right included having a country, the United States, that had religious freedom.) This prophet's name was Joseph Smith.  I'd like to read to you his story in his own words: Read JS-H 1:5,10-20.

Sing hymn #26 Joseph Smith's First Prayer.

This week's scripture is one that all missionaries are asked to memorize: JS-H 1:16-17
 "...I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me... When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Optional activity: Record the testimony of Joseph Smith in your own voice and listen to it regularly.
(This was recommended by Elder Neil Anderson in his Oct 2014 conference address: "Read the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Pearl of Great Price or in this pamphlet. This is Joseph’s own testimony of what actually occurred. Read it often. Consider recording the testimony of Joseph Smith in your own voice, listening to it regularly, and sharing it with friends. Listening to the Prophet’s testimony in your own voice will help bring the witness you seek.")

Other important points you may want to make:
--After the appearance of the Father and the Son, other heavenly messengers (angels) were sent.  John the Baptist appeared and conferred upon Joseph Smith the Aaronic Priesthood.  Peter, James, and John appeared and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph.
--With this prieshood authority, Joseph was directed to organize the church of Jesus Christ again on the earth.  This is why it is named The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
--A living prophet directs the church today. He traces his authority to Jesus Christ in an unbroken chain of ordinations through Joseph Smith. (This could be a fun time for a father to show his line of priesthood authority.)

***The most important thing to learn this week is how to describe the First Vision using Joseph Smith's own words, bear testimony that you know it is true, and explain how you came to know of its truth.  One option is to assign each family member a day during the week to pretend to be a missionary and teach this to your family.  This could be instead of the other options I have listed below.

1. Joseph Smith:The Prophet of the Restoration (one hour movie) can be watched here.

2.  (for a child age 8-11) Do Faith In God --Learning and Living the Gospel #2: Give a family home evening lesson on Joseph Smith’s First Vision (Joseph Smith—History 1:1–20). Discuss how Heavenly Father answers our sincere prayers.

3.  Sing "The Priesthood is Restored". Discuss its joyful music and message.  Bear testimony of the restoration.

4. (for an 11 year old boy) Do Faith in God -- Preparing for the Priesthood #1: Learn about the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood (see D&C 13:1D&C 107:20, and Joseph Smith—History 1:68–73). Share what you learned and bear your testimony of it.

5.  (for a young man) Learn about the restoration of the Priesthood for your Duty to God. Share what you learned and bear testimony of it.

6.  Read 3 Nephi 27:3-8. Then read D&C 115:4.  What is the full name of our church? Explain what it means. (you could also watch this video)  Bear testimony that Christ's church has been restored.

7. An important part of being a missionary is bearing testimony of the current prophet.  Where did he get his authority? Bear testimony of this.

8. It was prophesied that Joseph Smith would be the prophet of the restoration.  Read and discuss 2 Nephi 3:5-7,15,24. Bear testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel.

9. Read this quote by Elder Neil Anderson (Oct 2014): "A testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith can come differently to each of us. It may come as you kneel in prayer, asking God to confirm that he was a true prophet. It may come as you read the Prophet’s account of the First Vision. A testimony may distill upon your soul as you read the Book of Mormon again and again. It may come as you bear your own testimony of the Prophet or as you stand in the temple and realize that through Joseph Smith the holy sealing power was restored to the earth.  With faith and real intent, your testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith will strengthen. The constant water balloon volleys from the sidelines may occasionally get you wet, but they need never, never extinguish your burning fire of faith."  Share how you received a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith.

10. Sing the third verse of "On a Golden Springtime".  Bear testimony of Joseph Smith's first vision.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Great Apostasy (PMG Lesson 1 Principle 5)

Last week we talked about when Jesus Christ came to earth and began a new dispensation.  Well, after the wicked people killed Jesus Christ, they didn't stop there.  They began to persecute the apostles and members of Christ's church, and they even killed many of them.  When the apostles died, the keys of the priesthood and authority to preach and administer ordinances were taken from the earth.  Does this sound familiar?  That's right, it was another apostasy.  This was called The Great Apostasy because it happened throughout the whole world and lasted for a very long time.

Picture a school classroom.  If the teacher leaves the room and doesn't come back for a long time, what would  happen?  Is there chaos?  Do the students decide to do whatever they want? Do the rules change? What if one of the students decides to take charge and begins assigning work; does the student have any authority?  Will the work be valid when the teacher returns?    
Use this analogy to discuss what the earth was like during the great apostasy when there was not priesthood authority on the earth.  Who is the teacher? (prophet; someone with authority)  What rules were changed or forgotten? (doctrines of godhead, baptism, temples/work for the dead, revelation, the bible, forbidding priests to marry, etc)  Were there some in the class/world who wanted to learn?  What was stopping them? Discuss the difference between a reformation (changing what already exists) and a restoration (bringing something back in its original form).

Our scripture this week is Amos 8:11-12. (printable)  What is meant by "a famine of hearing the words of the Lord"?

The important thing to remember is that the great apostasy happened, but it is not the end of the story. Next week we will learn the rest of the story, but I bet you can guess what happened. What does God do every time there is an apostasy? He calls a prophet to begin a new dispensation and restore what was lost.  Our song this week is Come Listen to a Prophet's Voice (Hymn #21), verses 1 and 2:

Come listen to a prophet's voice and hear the word of God,
And in the way of truth rejoice and sing for joy aloud.
We've found the way the prophets went who lived in days of yore;
Another prophet now is sent this knowledge to restore.

The gloom of sullen darkness spread thru earth's extended space.
Is banished by our living Head, and God has shown His face
Thru erring schemes in days now past the world has gone astray.
Yet saints of God have found at last the straight and narrow way.

This hymn talks about the darkness and errors which were on the earth and how the world had gone astray (just like our "Follow the Prophet" song).  But it rejoices that once again, just as in "days of yore", there is a prophet who has seen and spoken with God, and who has restored knowledge of "the straight and narrow way".

-Recite the scripture of the week
-Sing the song
-Assign one of the following per day:

1.  Apostasy happened throughout the world, not just in Israel. Read 4 Nephi 1:26-34 and  Mormon 1:13-14 . Tell about apostasy in the Americas. Bear testimony.

2.  Read 2 Nephi 28:3-14.  In verse 14, what does it say about those few who WERE trying to follow Jesus?  Discuss the Reformation.  Also read D&C 123:12.  What does this tell us about many people on the earth today? Bear testimony.

3.  Read 1 Nephi 13:24-29.  How was the Bible changed?  Why was the Bible changed?  What was the result? How does this relate to the Eighth Article of Faith?  Bear testimony.

4.  Read, recite, or sing the Fifth Article of Faith.  Also read Hebrews 5:4.  What do these tell us about priesthood authority?  Bear testimony.

5.  Read 2 Timothy 4:3-4.  What happened to true doctrine?  What was taught instead? Bear testimony.

6.  Read 2 Nephi 26:20-21.  What was being preached?  What was the motivation of those preaching? Bear testimony.

7.  Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 (JST).  Teach how the apostasy was foretold. Bear testimony.

8. (for a young man)  Learn about apostasy for your Duty to God.  Look up "Apostasy" in True to the Faith .  Teach us what you learned and bear testimony.

9. In 2 Timothy 3:5 it says men will "have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof".  What does this mean? Bear testimony.

10.  Read 2 Peter 3:17.  Explain how personal apostasy can still happen in our day.  What can we do to remain steadfast?  Bear testimony.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Every Star is Different (CS p. 142)

(This could be used in Primary the day of the program: Today's Primary program was wonderful; do you know why?  It was because each and every one of you was a shining star.  Do you know what makes you a shining star?  You let your light shine.  As you sang the songs, the light of your personality and the light of your testimony shone so brightly that the people in the congregation felt that light and were warmed and strengthened by it.  By YOU. EACH one of you made the program a success.)

(This could also be used in a family setting, discussing the importance of each family member.)

Today I'm going to teach you a song about being a shining star.

Every star is different (twinkle several different "stars" with your hands)
And so is every child (pat heads of several imaginary kids of different heights)
          --Point out how we look different and have different talents,
             but one isn't better than or worse than another; it's just different.

Some are bright and happy (exploding hands around face)
And some are meek and mild (clasp hands to bosom, smile and sway shyly)
           --Again, point out that it's not better or worse to be outgoing/shy, it's just different

Why do you think Heavenly Father made everyone different?

Everyone is needed for just what he can do (arms out including everyone, fists close on needed)
You're the only person who ever can be you (point on you're and you)
            --So should Sally try to be like Alice?  Are Sally and Alice competing with each other?       Remind the children that life is not a competition.  They should just work on being the best                 "self" possible.

The chorus talks about shining brightly.  Every time we say the word bright, our hands will explode like a shining star.  Listen:

A shining star (arm waves across the sky) shining brightly (exploding hands on brightly)
Not so very far (pointer finger shakes no) shining brightly (explode)
Be a shining star (hand on chest for "be") shine so brightly (explode)
Shine right where you are (point down at where your feet are standing) brightly (explode)

What does it mean to "shine right where you are"?  Why does it say "not so very far"?  Do you have to be world famous to shine?  Or are there things you can do right here and now to let your light shine?

(If there is not time to teach the 2nd verse, the first verse can be sung again to finish the song.)

Optional tie-ins:
Sing the first verse of "We are Different" (CS p. 263) while playing a simple cup passing rhythm game (sit on the floor in a circle with a cup in front of you; clap, clap, drum, drum, drum, clap, grab, pass to the right).  This would tie into the theme of how everyone is needed to make the game a success. Here is a video showing this rhythm.

Watch several of the "One in a Million" videos on the church website. They spotlight children from around the world who are all different but are all shining their light.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Savior's Earthly Ministry and Atonement (PMG Lesson 1 Principle 4)

The Savior's Earthly Ministry and Atonement (PMG Lesson 1 Principle 4)

Do you remember what we talked about last week?  (Heavenly Father reveals His gospel in every dispensation.)  Well, guess what happened AFTER all those old testament prophets we talked about last week.  Do you think the people continued to live the gospel?  Or did they go astray?

A few hundred years before Jesus was born on earth, people again fell into apostasy and the truths of the gospel were ignored, then forgotten.  But when Jesus Christ came to earth, He again established His Church on the earth. It was the beginning of the dispensation of Jesus Christ.  He taught His gospel.  He called apostles and gave them priesthood authority. Before His death and resurrection, Christ gave His apostles authority to teach the gospel, perform ordinances, and establish His church in the world.

This was one of the reasons Christ came to earth, but there are other reasons as well.  We are going to sing "He Sent His Son" (CS p.34)  As we sing, I want you to listen for reasons God sent His Son to earth. (If your family doesn't know this song, you may want to follow a more detailed lesson plan for it, found here.)

Reasons: to tell the world of love and tenderness; to show the pathway we should go (to give us a perfect example to follow; to teach the true gospel once again); to save us from sin through His atoning sacrifice; to save us from death through His resurrection

Our scripture this week also explains why God sent His Son to earth:
 John 3:16-17 (printable)
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

Bear testimony of the Savior's earthly ministry and atonement.

--Sing He Sent His Son
--Recite John 3:16-17
--Assign a family member one of the following:

1.  Read, recite, or sing the sixth article of faith.  What is meant by "the primitive church"?  Why is this important to understand?  Bear testimony of the Savior's earthly ministry and atonement.

2.  Sing "I Believe in Christ" (Hymn #134) verses 1-3.  What do the lyrics tell you about His earthly ministry and mission?  Bear testimony of the Savior.

3.  Sing "Help Us, O God, to Understand" (CS p.73).  Verse 1: What did He do for us because He loves us?  Verse 2:  What will His teachings do?  Bear testimony of Christ.

4.  Read 3 Nephi 27:21.  Rephrase it in your own words.  How does this relate to the Savior's earthly ministry?  Bear testimony of the Savior.

5. (could be done by a younger child)  Sing "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" (CS p. 78).  Read John 13:15.  Bear testimony of Christ's earthly ministry.

6.  Sing the first verse of "Come Follow Me" (Hymn #116).  What does it mean to tread in His footsteps?  Read 2 Nephi 31:10-12.  Bear testimony of the Savior's earthly ministry and example.

7. Read 2 Nephi 25:26.  What does this mean?  Bear testimony of the Savior.

8.  Read Mark 12:1-9.  How does this parable relate to prophets and dispensation?  How does it relate to the dispensation of Jesus Christ?  How does it prophesy of the great apostasy?  Bear testimony of these things.

*9.  (for a younger child) Tell a favorite story of when Christ was on the earth.  Use a GAK picture to help you tell the story.  Bear testimony of Jesus. (here is a link to some stories you could use)

*this could be done multiple times throughout the week with different stories

Friday, September 12, 2014

He Sent His Son (CS p. 34)

Do you remember "Show and Tell"?  What kinds of things did you want to show and tell your friends about?  Were they things that were important to you?

This is a song about Heavenly Father wanting to show and tell certain things.  WHO do you think He wants to be listening and watching?  The world!  He loves everyone; we are all His children.  So he wants the whole world to know these things.  They must be very important.

As I sing the first line, listen for two things Heavenly Father wants to tell us.

"How could the Father tell the world of love and tenderness?" (write the words or post picture)

Now listen for something he wants to show us.

"How could the Father show the world the pathway we should go?" (explain "pathway") (post words or picture)

Now listen for two more things He wants to tell us about.

"How could the Father tell the world of sacrifice, of death?" (words or picture)

These are the most important things Heavenly Father wanted to show and tell us.  So He thought and thought about how to teach us about love and tenderness, the path we should take here on earth, and sacrifice and death.  Then he made a plan, a perfect plan, and as part of the plan He would give us a gift.  (Show gift box.) This one gift would teach us all of those things.  Now, this was a gift that Heavenly Father loved, and it was hard for him to send it far away down to earth.  Imagine if you had one favorite thing, and you decided to send it far away to someone who needed it.  You must love that person a lot to send them your favorite thing.  It was the same with Heavenly Father.  He loved everyone in the world so much that He was willing to send us His favorite.  Do you know what the gift is?  Here is a clue: John 3:16.  Let's read it all together. (Take time to look it up together in the actual scriptures.)

So what was the gift that Heavenly Father sent us?  His Son.

(Open the gift box.  Pull out pictures: nativity, sermon on the mount/baptism of Jesus, crucifixion/resurrection.)

Earlier, we asked three questions.  The answers are in this box. (Show all the pictures and post them as you go.)

Which picture tells us about love and tenderness?  A newborn baby!
Sing the next line: "He sent His Son, a newborn babe, with peace and holiness."
Sing the question and answer together.

Which picture is about showing us what we should do?  Jesus teaching the gospel, telling people to follow Him, and setting an example for us.
Sing "He sent His son to walk with men on earth, that we may know."
Sing the question and answer together.

Which picture tells about sacrifice and death?  Crucifixion AND Resurrection (teaches that death is not the end)
Sing "He sent His son to die for us, and rise with living breath."
Sing the question and answer together.

These first three questions were all things Heavenly Father was going to do.   The next part of the song asks two questions that apply to us.  Listen for the two questions.
Sing "What does the Father ask of us?  What do the scriptures say?"

Heavenly Father has given us an amazing gift, but He does ask something in return.
Listen for 4 things that He asks us to do:
Sing "Have faith, have hope, live like His Son, help others on their way"
Sing the questions and answers together.

At the very end of this song, the person writing the song decided to have us repeat the most important thing for us to remember.  Listen:

"What does He ask? Live like His Son."
Why do you think that's the most important part to remember?  If you live like Jesus, you will be doing everything else too.  (loving, serving, obeying...)

Optional activity:
You can take turns singing the questions and answers, either by dividing the group in half OR by having individuals sing the questions and the whole group answer them.
You can also teach dynamics on this song, getting louder  at "rise with living breath" and quieter on "What does He ask?"

Monday, September 8, 2014

Heavenly Father Reveals His Gospel in Every Dispensation (PMG Lesson 1 Principle 3)

Lesson 1 Principle 3: Heavenly Father Reveals His Gospel in Every Dispensation

Once there was a man named Adam, the very first man on earth.  Because Adam was obedient, God gave him the priesthood, which is the authority to administer the ordinances of the gospel.  God also called him to be a prophet and teach his descendants (children) the gospel.
      Sing the first verse of Follow the Prophet (CS p. 110).
One way God shows His love for us is by calling prophets to teach us the gospel.  But God also loved us enough to give us all the gift of agency, which means we can choose whether to accept or reject the gospel.  What happens when someone chooses to NOT follow the prophet?  They will go "astray".  What does that word mean?  When people choose to ignore or disobey the gospel, they distance themselves from God and begin to live in spiritual darkness.  Eventually this leads to "apostasy".
       Sing the chorus of Follow the Prophet
Did the people listen to Adam?  Did they follow the prophet?  No.  Eventually, there was so much apostasy on the earth that God withdrew his authority to preach the gospel from the earth.  It was the end of Adam's dispensation. (A dispensation is a period of time starting with the calling of a prophet and ending with widespread apostasy.)

But all was not lost! Several years later, God found another obedient man to call as a prophet.  His name was Noah. (Have someone tell the story of Noah.) Noah began a new dispensation of preaching the gospel.
     Sing the Noah verse and chorus.
Did the people listen to Noah?  Did they follow the prophet?  No.  But what about Noah's descendants after the flood?  Eventually, most of them went astray, and once again the priesthood authority to preach the gospel was removed from the earth.

But God still loved His children.  So as soon as the people were ready, he called another prophet to begin a new dispensation.  His name was Abraham.  God called Abraham to restore what had been lost and to teach the gospel anew.  (Have someone tell what they know about Abraham.)
     Sing the Abraham verse and chorus.
Did Abraham's descendants obey the gospel?  Eventually, they too rejected the gospel, and once again, the gospel stopped being preached on the earth.  It was the end of Abraham's dispensation.

But God continued to love His children.  So he watched and waited for someone who could again preach His gospel with authority.  So he called Moses as a prophet.  (Have someone tell about Moses.)
     Sing the Moses verse and chorus.
Did the children of Israel listen to Moses?  Did they keep the commandments?  No, they didn't.   They became more and more wicked until they too fell into apostasy and the true gospel was once again forgotten.

Throughout history, there have been MANY instances of God speaking to prophets, as well as MANY instances of apostasy. But through it all, one thing is sure: God loves His children.  He continues to call prophets so that His children can have access to the gospel and priesthood ordinances.  That pattern continues today with our prophet, Thomas S. Monson.
     Sing the final verse and chorus.

Our scripture this week is Amos 3:7 (printable scripture)
"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."

What does this scripture mean?  Could you rephrase it in your own words?
Why is it important to know that?  Think of the chorus of the song.  How does this scripture relate to "He knows the way"?

Bear testimony.

Optional activity #1: The song Follow the Prophet was based on a Jewish folk song.  Learn to dance the hora while singing the chorus. (there are many tutorials online)

Optional activity #2: Learn the verses for the other prophets (Enoch, Samuel, Jonah, Daniel) or write your own verses for Book of Mormon prophets or Latter-day prophets.  Here are some of my favorite extra verses to try:

Nephi was a prophet, Sent to get the plates.
He dressed up as Laban by the city gates.
Nephi was courageous, valiant, and true -
What the Lord commanded, he would go and do.

Samuel was a prophet, Lamanite by birth,
Prophesied the time when Christ would come to earth.
Tried to cry “Repentance!” Shouted from the wall.
Many would not listen, tried to make him fall.

Moroni was a prophet, last to tell his tale;
finished up the gold plates, hid them really well.
Came to Joseph Smith and taught what he should do
To bring the Book of Mormon unto me and you.

Joseph Smith the prophet- first one in our day;
He saw God and Jesus when he knelt to pray.
Asking with great faith to know which church was true,
Jesus said “Join none; The truth shall come through you.”

Thomas S Monson has a gentle heart.
Visiting the sick, He always does his part.
Now he is our prophet loyal, kind and true
If we serve as he does, we'll be happy too.

Here is a doctrinal verse I wrote to go along with Preach My Gospel:
Heavenly Father loves us, wants us to return
So he gives us prophets who help us to learn
In each dispensation, we can know what's true
If we heed the prophets, we'll know what to do

-- Sing Follow the Prophet
-- Recite the scripture: "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."  Amos 3:7
-- Assign a family member one of the following:

1.  (for a teenager)  Look up "Dispensations" in the Bible dictionary.  Explain what you learned.  Bear your testimony.

2.  Read D&C 1:37-38.  Rephrase it in your own words.  What does it teach about prophets?  Bear your testimony.

3.  Read Luke 1:70.  What important principle does this teach about prophets?  Bear your testimony.

4.  Read, recite, or sing the 9th Article of Faith.  What does this teach about prophets and revelation? Bear your testimony.

5. (for an older child)  Read Acts 10:34-35.  What does it mean when it says "God is no respecter of persons"?  How does this relate to prophets and dispensations?  Bear your testimony.

6.  (for a teenage boy)  Study the doctrinal topic "Prophets" for your Duty to God.  Teach what you have learned.  Bear your testimony.

7.  Sing the first verse of "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet" (Hymn #19).  Bear your testimony of prophets and obedience to the gospel.

8.  (for a younger child) Choose a prophet to teach us about and tell why you are thankful for that prophet's teachings.  Bear your testimony.

9.  (for a young child)  Place pictures of the old testament prophets around the room.  Sing Follow the Prophet and walk from prophet to prophet as each verse is sung.  Pretend like you are walking through dispensations of time.  Bear your testimony.

10.  Read Mormon 9:9.  What does it mean when it says "God is the same yesterday, today, and forever?"  How does this relate to prophets and dispensations?  Bear your testimony.

11.  Read Matthew 10:40.  This is Christ sending His apostles to preach the gospel.  What is He saying?  Bear testimony of prophets.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Baptism (CS p. 100) -- intermediate accompaniment

When I started looking for an accompaniment for Baptism (CS p. 100) that was a bit easier to play, but still kept the flowing quality of the song, I came up empty-handed.  So I wrote this version.  The only catch is that the right hand needs to be played an octave higher (which sounds lovely) OR you can play it as written, but realize your hands will get in the way of each other from time to time.

Here is the link:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Gospel Blesses Families (PMG Lesson 1 Principle 2)

Lesson 1 Principle 2: The Gospel Blesses Families

There are some people who say that the idea of families was invented by people.  But we know that's not true.  Before the earth was even created, we lived as part of a family.  We had a Father in heaven and we were His children.  God created families because He loves us and wants us to be happy. Coming to earth to live in a family is an important part of God's plan for us.

There is a song that teaches these principles:
The Family is of God (verse 1 and chorus)
     (sing-along video)

Why did God give us families? (listen to the song or come up with your own ideas; here are just a few possible answers)
     to bring happiness
     to help us learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere
     to prepare us for eternal life

Object lesson:
You are like this craft stick.  If you were sent to earth all by yourself, how strong would you be?  Would it be easy for Satan to break you?  That's why families are such an important part of the plan.  A family is like a group of sticks all bundled tightly together.  Is this easy to break?  Together, in families, we are stronger and more able to resist evil.

Are all families strong?  What helps some families to be stronger than others?
There is a sentence in The Family: A Proclamation to the World that we are going to use as our scripture this week:
"Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ." (link to printable scripture)

In other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ helps families to be stronger and happier.

(Optional: If you have only younger children, you may want to end here.)

There is a hymn in our hymnbook called Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth (#298). It teaches us that the righteous things we do in our homes are directly linked to blessings of happiness, safety, and joy.

Let's sing the song (all verses).  Then let's look at the lyrics and make a chart.  In one column, list all the things the family does.  In the other column, list the blessings they receive. (Your chart may look different than mine.  That's great!  It's included only as a help to get you started.)

What the family does: love (warmth, kindness, charity), gathering each week (FHE), serving with cheerful hearts, parents teach and lead, children honor and obey parents, pray daily, search the scriptures faithfully, sing hymns

Blessings received: home feels like heaven, happiness and joy, safety and security, home is a place we want to be, grow in truth and light, we'll feel His love, hearts and minds are nourished

Which things do we do as a family?  Are there things we could do better? (Perhaps pick one to work on.)  Are there blessings we would like to experience more fully?

Bear testimony of the doctrine of the family, that it is ordained by God, and that learning and living the gospel will bless all families of the earth.

(Optional treat idea: As you bake something together, discuss how it takes different ingredients to make a recipe work.  Have you ever forgotten an ingredient?  What happened? Families are like that: individual ingredients coming together to create something wonderful.)

-- Sing EITHER "The Family is of God" OR "Home can be a Heaven on Earth" (your choice)
-- Recite the scripture: "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ."
-- Assign a family member one of the following:

1.  Read this sentence from the Family Proclamation:  "The family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children."  In your own words, what does this mean? Bear testimony of this week's principle.

2.  Read this quote from President Harold B. Lee: "The most important of the Lord’s work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes."  What does this mean?  Give an example.  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

3.  (for a younger child)  Sing the first verse of I am a Child of God.  What does it teach you?  What has God given you?  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

4.  Sing "The Wise Man and the Foolish Man".  Read Helaman 5:12.  How could this apply to families?  Give specific examples.  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

5. (for a younger child) Show a picture of the nativity.  Tell about how Jesus Christ was born into a family when He came to earth.  Bear testimony of the importance of families.

6.  Read Deuteronomy 6:5-7.  What do these verses mean?  How can our family apply them?  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

7.  Sing "From Homes of Saints" (Hymn #297).  What do you learn from the lyrics?  In verse two, it lists three things that "God's truths" will do.  What are they?  Give an example from your own life of a time when God's truths protected or lifted you.  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

8.  Sing "Home" (CS pg. 192).  What do you learn from this song? How have you felt God's love in your home?  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

9.  Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-26.  How could this apply to family members?  How is each person needed?  Do we all rejoice when one family member is honored?  Bear testimony of the importance of love and unity in the family.

10.  Read Isaiah 54:13.  What does this scripture mean to you?  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

11.  Read Mosiah 4:13-15.  Read Ephesians 6:1-4. What responsibilities do parents have?  What responsibilities do children have?  How can you use these scriptures to strengthen your family?  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

12.  (for a teenager) Read Psalm 127:3-5.  How does this make you feel about becoming a parent in your future?  How is this different from what the world teaches about motherhood or fatherhood?  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

13.  Show a picture of the family of Adam and Eve (GAK 119).  Read Moses 5:12.  How can your family be like Adam and Eve's family?  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

14.  (for an 11 year old) Do Faith in God -- Preparing for YM/YW #5: Read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Make a list of things you can do to help strengthen your family and make a happy home. Share the list with your parents.

I Know My Father Lives (Hymn #302 OR CS p. 5)

Today we are going to learn a song that teaches us about God.  Did you know there are many people in the world who are confused about who God is and what He is like?  But we don't have to be confused, because we can learn the truth through this song.

I'm going to sing the first phrase of this song, and I want you to listen for two truths it tells us about God:
(sing) I know my Father lives

Truth #1:  God is my Father
Truth #2:  God has a body; He lives

Now I'm going to sing the next phrase.  Listen for another truth:
(sing) and loves me too

Truth #3: God loves me

Will you sing that whole line with me?  ("I know my Father lives, and loves me too")

(Bear testimony:) God is real.  He lives, and because He is your Father, He loves you. I know that is true.

Do you feel the Holy Ghost whispering to you that this is true?  That's the Holy Ghost's job: to tell you in your mind and in your heart what is true.  When you feel happy, that is the Spirit speaking to you.

The next line of the song reminds us of this.  It tells us HOW we can know these things are true.
(sing) The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me it is true; and tells me it is true.

This song is a testimony.  It tells what you know, and how you know it.  When you sing this song, it is just like bearing your testimony.  Will you sing it with me? (repeat it several times until it is learned)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

God is Our Loving Heavenly Father (PMG Lesson 1 Principle 1)

Lesson 1 Principle 1: God is Our Loving Heavenly Father


Note: This is written for younger children who may be unfamiliar with this song.  Obviously if your family already knows this song, sing it and discuss the doctrine without all the extra repetition. Always feel free to adapt to your family's needs.

(CS p.5 OR Hymn #302)
Today we are going to learn a song that teaches us about God.  Did you know there are many people in the world who are confused about who God is and what He is like?  But we don't have to be confused, because we can learn the truth through this song and through the scriptures.

I'm going to sing the first line of this song, and I want you to listen for three truths it tells us about God:
(sing) I know my Father lives and loves me too

(We have a white board we wrote these truths on.  Then we left it up all week to help us remember what to bear testimony about.)
Truth #1:  God is my Father
Truth #2:  God lives; He has a body
Truth #3: God loves me

Will you sing that line with me? As we sing, think about how it makes you feel.
sing: "I know my Father lives, and loves me too"

Bear testimony: God is real.  He lives, and because He is your Father, He loves you. I know this is true.

Do you feel the Holy Ghost whispering to you that this is true?  That's the Holy Ghost's job: to tell you in your mind and in your heart what is true.

The next line of the song reminds us of this.  It tells us HOW we can know these things are true.
(sing) The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me it is true; and tells me it is true.

This song is a testimony.  It tells WHAT you know, and HOW you know it.  When you sing this song, it is just like bearing your testimony.  Will you sing the whole song with me? (repeat it several times until it is learned)

There is a scripture in the Bible that bears this same testimony. 
(Hold up printed scripture)  "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." --Romans 8:16
How is this scripture like the song we just learned?  Will you read it with me (or repeat after me for non-readers)?  Let's memorize this scripture this week.  Then if you meet someone who doesn't know what you know about God, you can share your testimony through this song and scripture.

Bear testimony.

Each day, do these three things:
--  Sing "I Know My Father Lives"
--   Recite Romans 8:16
--   Assign a family member one of the following.  There are more than six for a reason.  Choose which are the best fit for your family.  You may want to assign older children first, so that by the end of the week, the younger children will have heard the doctrine taught several times before it is their turn to teach. The important part is learning to teach and bear testimony in their own words.

1.  Read 3 Nephi 14:9-11.  In your own words, tell what it means.  What important doctrine is being taught? Share a related personal experience.  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

2.  Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:10.  In your own words, tell what it means.  Share a personal experience.  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

3.  Read or recite the First Article of Faith. The rest of the family can also recite it or sing the song (CS p.122). What does it teach?  Why is it important to know and understand?  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

4.  Read Doctrine and Covenants 130:22.  In your own words, tell what it means. Why is it important to understand?  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

5.  Read Joseph Smith--History 1:17.  Retell it in your own words.  What truths can you learn from this verse? What does it tell you about the Godhead?  What does it tell you about God's love for you as an individual? Bear testimony of this week's principle.

6.  Read this quote from President Monson:

"Heavenly Father loves you -- each of you.  That love never changes.  It is not influenced by your appearance or by your possessions.  It is not changed by your talents and abilities.  It is simply there.  It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful.  God's love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love.  It is simply always there." -- Thomas S. Monson (Ensign Nov 2013)

Retell it in your own words.  Share an experience of a time when you felt God's love for you.  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

7.  (for a Young Woman or 11 yr old girl)  Recite the first sentence of the Young Women theme: "We are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him."  Why is this important for you to know?  Share a personal experience.  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

8.  (for a Young Woman) Do Individual Worth #1 in your Personal Progress.  Share your experience.  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

9.  (for a Young Man)  Learn about the Godhead for your Duty to God.  Share what you have learned.  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

10.  (for older children) Ammon and Aaron were missionaries to people who did not know about God.  Read Alma 18:24-40 and 22:4-23.  What did these missionaries teach about the nature of God?  How can you follow their examples as you prepare to be a missionary?  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

11.  (for very young children) Look at a picture of the First Vision (GAK 403).  Who is in this picture?  How does Heavenly Father feel about Joseph Smith?  How does He feel about you?  Bear testimony of this week's principle.

12.  Read Hebrews 12:9.  Bear testimony that God is the Father of our spirits.

Preach My Gospel lesson explanation

This will be the first entry in a series of FHE lessons based on the lessons in Preach My Gospel (Chapter 3).  There are several objectives that I have with these:

1.  I am my children's first and most important missionary.  It is my job to teach them all the principles of the gospel. Following Preach My Gospel is a great way to ensure all the basic principles are covered.

2.  It is my job to prepare my children to BE missionaries.  In order to do that, they need opportunities to teach and explain gospel principles in their own words.  Learning to verbalize their own thoughts and feelings is a vital skill I want them to develop.

3.  Music is one of the best ways to teach and remember doctrine.  The truths in a well-loved Primary song or Hymn will be cherished and remembered forever.

4.  Memorized scriptures are also a great way to have doctrine engraved on their hearts.  Elder Scott said, "Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change."  I want my children to have that great power.

I also wanted to make the lessons simple, without a lot of prep time or materials needed.  I wanted them to be accessible to families with children of mixed ages, so that each child would be able to learn and be strengthened.  I also wanted to tie in daily scripture/gospel study so there would be greater continuity and reinforcing of the principles.

Each PMG lesson is broken down into 6-12 principles.  For example, in lesson 1 there are eight principles.  I highly recommend going in order as they build upon each other. (Be aware that the blog does not list them in order.) Then at the end of the eight weeks spent learning those principles, we will have a review week, where each member of the family gets the opportunity to teach a "first discussion", tying the principles into one cohesive lesson.

As I was writing the lessons, I first identified all the points of doctrine in a particular section.  Then I chose one song and one scripture that I felt best taught those principles.

The lessons do not have to be taught exactly as written.  I highly suggest you adapt them to your family's ages and needs.  The important part is the doctrine.  How you present it is up to you.

You'll notice there is a lot of material per lesson.  I suggest using the main lesson for FHE.  Then, each day after, assign one family member to teach and bear testimony of that same principle (using different scriptures, stories, songs, or personal experiences).  I give ideas for doing this, but feel free to adapt it to your family's needs.  Also practice that week's scripture and song each day and try to have them memorized by the end of the week.

These have been a blessing to our family, and I hope they can bless yours as well.

Preach My Gospel manual

Thursday, July 31, 2014

To Be a Pioneer (CS p. 218)

What do you think of when you hear the word "pioneer"?
Do you think of pushing handcarts?
Leaving family and friends to go to a distant land?
Walking thousands of miles?

What would you say if I told you that YOU can be a pioneer?
Would you have to do those things too?

Let's sing the first verse (with actions for younger kids):
     You don't have to push a handcart (pretend to push)
     Leave your family dear (wave goodbye)
     Or walk a thousand miles or more (walk in place)
     To be a pioneer!

The things the pioneers did aren't as important as the inner qualities they possessed that helped them to do those things.  What character traits did they have?  (Optional: you can tell some pioneer stories that illustrate these characteristics: courage, faith, hard work)

Let's sing the second verse
     You DO need to have great courage (fist over your heart)
     Faith to conquer fear (pointer finger at side of head, then throw away the fear)
     And work with might (show your muscles) for a cause that's right (pump right fist into the air)
     To be a pioneer!

Discussion:  (use specific examples personalized to their stage of life)
When would you need to have great courage?

"In order for us to make the correct decisions, courage is needed -- the courage to say no when we should, the courage to say yes when that is appropriate, the courage to do the right thing because it is right... Inner courage also includes doing the right thing even though we may be afraid, defending our beliefs at the risk of being ridiculed, and maintaining those beliefs even when threatened with a loss of friends or of social status." -- Thomas S Monson (Ensign May 2014)

How does faith conquer fear? (see D&C 6:36; 68:6)

Is there a cause that you are willing to work hard in defending?

Quote by M. Russell Ballard (Oct 2008): "The Lord isn’t asking us to load up a handcart; He’s asking us to fortify our faith. He isn’t asking us to walk across a continent; He’s asking us to walk across the street to visit our neighbor. He isn’t asking us to give all of our worldly possessions to build a temple; He’s asking us to give of our means and our time despite the pressures of modern living to continue to build temples and then to attend regularly the temples already built. He isn’t asking us to die a martyr’s death; He’s asking us to live a disciple’s life."

Bear testimony that we CAN be pioneers in courage, faith, and standing for what is right.

Learn the "we are marching" descant.  Then sing the verses and descant together.  This is a really fun activity.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Seek the Lord Early (CS p.108)

Have you ever played hide and seek?
What does the "seeker" do?
What would happen if the seeker decided to just lay down on the couch and take a nap?
Would the "hider" ever be found?
Seeking is an action word; it requires you to DO something.

This is a song about you being a seeker.  Listen to the first line.  Who are you seeking? (The Lord)  When should you seek Him? (early in your life/ in your youth)

Now as you listen to the song, listen for the things that YOU need to do as a seeker.  (If you have pre-readers, you can use pictures rather than writing out a list. Then use those pictures to help sing the song.)
         Search the scriptures
         Fervent prayer (fervent means really wanting to know and communicate with Heavenly Father)
         Obey the living prophet
         Keep the commandments

If you do these things, the Lord promises three things.  Listen for the Lord's promises.
      He will help me to know the truth (through the Holy Ghost)
      His love will abound (abound means there is so much, it can't be contained)
      He will be found

Remember that the Lord isn't trying to be tricky.  He WANTS to be found.  He's just waiting for you to do the seeking .

Other ideas for discussion:
---Why is it important to seek the Lord EARLY while in your YOUTH?  Can you think of examples of youths in the scriptures? (Samuel, Nephi, Joseph Smith)  Did they follow this same pattern?

---What does it mean to "find" the Lord?  Joseph Smith found Him in a very literal and physical sense.  But that is not usually how He is found.  How can the Lord be found in your life?

---Why is obedience included as an important part of seeking?

End with a personal experience of a time when you were seeking and were able to experience the Lord's promised blessings.  You can also include a time when you weren't actively seeking (figuratively sleeping on the couch) and the blessings you missed out on.  Bear your testimony of this doctrine.

Sing the song again and afterwards point out the Spirit testifying that what you sang is true.

Optional: You can play this game to practice the song.  Choose a "seeker" to leave the room for a moment.  Have another person hide a small picture of Jesus (pass-along card size) somewhere in the room.  When the seeker returns, begin singing the song.  Sing louder as the seeker gets closer to the hiding spot; sing softer if the seeker gets further away.  Keep singing until the picture is found, then choose a new seeker to play again.