Wednesday, March 22, 2006

3 Nephi 23 - Searching the Scriptures

Today our block of scripture was 3 Nephi 23.

To start off I passed out a word search I had created using scripture study words from today's lesson. Once they had found the words in the search, each student read out loud one of the following scriptures I'd written on the board (found on page 124 in the institute manual). As they read, I wrote a main word from the scripture to the side of the scripture as it was read:
  • Joshua 1:8 - meditate
  • 2 Timothy 2:15 - study
  • 1 Nephi 15:25 - heed
  • 1 Nephi 19:24 - hear
  • 2 Nephi 4:15 - delight/ponder
At that point, I wrote on the board, "Does YOUR heart delight in the scriptures?" (referencing the scripture about Nephi that had just been read).

I waited in silence for that to sink in (silence can be one of the most potent tools a teacher has).

Then I said, "What do you do if you don't currently delight in reading the scriptures?" Again, I waited to let them think.

Then, to prepare for personal application for today's lesson, I segued to a new topic. I asked about the young men/young women's activity the previous night. The boys had brought "dinner for two", which dinner then received a random number. The girls drew a number to find out who they would be eating dinner with. Dessert was provided in the opposite way: girls brought the dessert, which was numbered, and boys drew a number to see who they would have dessert with. A delightful way to mix up the group and help them enjoy different people's company.

The kids loved the activity. I asked them the best part - was it the food, or was it the company? They agreed it was the company. I then shared that some day they would be sitting across their marriage partner. Would it be as enjoyable, year after year after year? I told them it would be absolutely wonderful...if they chose well.

How will they know who to marry? I referenced again that Nephi delighted in the word of God. How come? They figured it out - Nephi loved it because he read it. And it was from delighting/immersing himself in the word of God that he was able to receive such inspiration in how to act and live his life. They needed to become like Nephi if they were going to choose well for themselves.

To help them figure out how to start liking to read the scriptures, I shared an experience from my high school years. I had won a two week music scholarship to a prestigious music camp. My best friend was going to be my roommate - someone whom I thought I knew very well. That was until the first night. Imagine my shock when she puts in a tape of rock music - Styx - at full blast!

When I asked her what she was doing, she said, "Oh, I can't go to sleep without my Styx," and rolled over and proceeded to immediately go to sleep!

There I was, stuck with Styx playing full blast - and me, a classical music lover!

But by the end of the two weeks, I also could no longer fall asleep without hearing Styx played full blast.

I shared this with the kids for two reasons - one, you may think you know a person, yet still learn things about them you never knew once rooming with them. This can prove to be delightful or horrifying experience in marriage, as the case may be. You need to be in tune to be guided toward wise choices.

Which leads me to the next reason I shared the experience: they need to learn to delight in the scriptures to be able to be familiar with the promptings of the spirit. For that which we love, we seek. And the more we seek the things of God, the more we will be guided by God himself.

So what do they do if they don't currently delight in reading their scriptures? (I pass out a "5 Pages a Day Club" sheet for the kids to write their scripture pages they read each day, so I have a pretty good feel on who is reading their scriptures and who is not.)

What does one do, I asked the kids, if they don't like reading the scriptures? How do they change that? Because we really need "scripture power" (as the Primary kids sing) to be able to see clearly in our lives.

The kids quickly grasped the lesson from the Styx/roommate experience I shared - the more you expose yourself to anything, the more you begin to accept the thing and then eventually embrace it - be it good or bad. So why not make it the scriptures?

The experience only took about two minutes to share, but it was an excellent lead into the next activity. I told them that I was going to allow them to practice "experimenting upon the word", as Alma encouraged the Zoramites to do. We can only know if the scriptures are true and delicious/good if we try them for ourselves.

So I gave them a thinking activity from the student manual for 3 Nephi 23 as an example of experimenting upon the word and delving into the scriptures.

I'd typed out the following paragraph from the student manual on pages 172-173:

Have you ever had a thought or experience that you wanted to remember? Did you write it down so you would remember it clearly? Have you noticed that if you do not keep a record of those experiences and thoughts that the memory of them fades and even changes? Look for how the Savior taught this principle to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 23.
  1. Identify two words that Jesus used to describe how we should read the prophecies of Isaiah. You may want to underline these in your scriptures.
  2. Write about three methods a person could use to read the scriptures in the way Jesus describes in this chapter.
  3. Review 3 Nephi 23:6-13 and describe what Jesus asked Nephi to do, and then write how you think this message applies to you.

They recorded their responses in their individual class journals. As my most recent CES training meeting stressed, when you get the students writing, they are processing what they're reading and learning on a deeper level.

To finish up, I bore testimony that as we follow the words of the Savior in 3 Nephi 23 and approach the scriptures in a deeper level, that we will be guided in the most important moments of our lives. The Lord will bless us with joy unimaginable.

I read to them President Kimball's quote in the earlier institute manual on page 29, that the youth need to not be deceived. They need to understand that spiritual studies come first, even before their academice studies - whether in high school or college. That we are here to prepare to meet God and it is imperative we study the scriptures, especially as Jesus explained so clearly in 3 Nephi 23.

Teaching these lessons for the students is all well and good. But without drawing parallels and applications to their personal lives, they often times will not have a "shelf" upon which to store the information.

But as soon as they can see, "Oh, this will help me choose a better spouse," or "Oh, this will help me figure out which college to go to," they seem to perk up and take more attention.

In fact, it's fairly common amongst all of us. In essence, if we feel the information is valuable, we pay more attention and the connections are made inside of us and the information becomes more permanently locked into place. But if we have no frame of reference upon which to shelve the information, it so easily slips outside of us and does not stay with us.

That is why I'm so often drawing personal applications to the choices these kids will be making in the next five years - some of the most potent available: whether to serve a mission, where to go to school, to attend institute or not, who to marry, what standards to keep.

It's almost frightening to think how long range these choices are and these students are making them so very young. No wonder they need daily scripture study and seminary and prayer to help them see clearly amidst the cloudy rationale of the world!

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just another early-morning-seminary-teacher mom :0)