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: