Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January 24 - The Godhead: How can I help others learn about Heavenly Father?

In class on Sunday, we were continuing the discussion about how the Holy Ghost helps us to learn the gospel and how he helps us in teaching others about Heavenly Father.

One of the great things about how Jesus taught (and how we aspire to teach) is that Jesus KNOWS us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And, with that knowledge, he's able to know how BEST to teach us. And that's what we, as students of the gospel of Jesus Christ (and as member missionaries and future full-time missionaries and parents), need to learn to do.

A great example of this in the scriptures is the story of Ammon (Honestly, he's one of my favorites).


We talked about Ammon during most of class.
I figure that, if you're going to learn about something, dive in! Learn all that you can!
So, we discussed a bit about Ammon's history:
  • He was one of the sons of Mosiah.
  • Mosiah was the king over the Nephite people at the time.
  • They all hung out with Alma the Younger, who was the prophet's son.
  • They led a LOT of people away from the church by preaching false doctrine.
  • It was so bad that their families prayed so much that an angel appeared to them.
  • After that, they chose to turn their lives around. They became very active in preaching repentance to the people. They felt HORRIBLE about all the evil they had done (and had caused others to do).
  • When King Mosiah was ready to pass the kingdom on, none of his sons desired to be king.
    They all wanted to be missionaries instead.
  • Ammon and his brothers decided to teach the gospel to the Lamanites, since they were their brothers, after all. (It's just that the Lamanites didn't believe in the gospel. In fact, they had a practice of capturing and killing all Nephites since, according to their beliefs, Nephi was a big meanie-head and took everything that should have gone to Laman. ... Although, we know the real reason that Laman didn't receive the full birthright was that he wasn't being righteous. That and, you know, trying to kill his baby brother is rather frowned upon. Even if your baby brother isn't a prophet.)
SO, where were we? Ah, yes. Ammon goes to serve the Lamanites as a missionary.
He's captured and brought to King Lamoni. Lamoni is bemused (a word which here means, "puzzled, confused, or bewildered") that this Nephite guy came to be a servant ... and maybe live here for the rest of his life. BUT, hey, a new servant! So, Lamoni sends Ammon out to help guard his sheep. (By the by, I think it's great that Ammon gets to be a good shepherd. Just like our Good Shepherd [Jesus Christ].)

And some especially naughty Lamanites come and try to scatter and steal some of the king's sheep. And the rest of the servants are FREAKING OUT because the last time this happened, THOSE servants were put to death ... and these guys would very much rather stay alive.

And Ammon ... he's happy. He rallies his fellow servants, puts his trust in the Lord, and saves the sheep (either with skillful use with the sling [Like ANOTHER good shepherd, being David in the Old Testament. Remember ... the shepherd who slew Goliath with a sling? That one.] and, then, chopping off the arms of any of the thieves who're trying to kill him). The rest of the servants are ... pretty impressed. They know it's a crazy story ... they gather up the arms as proof and go to report to King Lamoni (as Ammon then, following instructions to a T, goes to feed and care for the king's horses).

King Lamoni, upon hearing of these (impressive) feats of his new servant, sends for Ammon to come and talk to him. And, once Ammon comes, Lamoni has no idea how to talk to him ... because, well, Ammon just might be a great spirit. And, well, if Lamoni offends him, this great spirit could KILL him or something. Maybe this great spirit is mad about the past servants (the ones who allowed the sheep to be scattered and stolen ... and who were killed) ...

And Ammon waits there, in the rather awkward silence, for the space of one hour (their time. Which COULD be the same as ours ... we don't know. But it was a LONG, AWKWARD SILENCE).

And, since Ammon was prepared -- he had, as they say in Alma 17:3, "[He had] given [himself] to much prayer, and fasting; therefore [he] had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when [he] taught, [he] taught with power and authority of God."

When we work to have the Holy Ghost with us, we can be blessed, too. We can have help in how we teach, in being inspired (and recognizing that revelation). We can be protected as Ammon was. We will be able to be led to speak the words that will reach those we are teaching (not just as missionaries, but as Home/Visiting Teachers, teachers in a class, parents, friends, etc.).
And the Holy Ghost can confirm in the hearts of those we teach that, if we are teaching with the Spirit of God, those things are TRUE.

Ammon, having the gift of the Holy Ghost, was able to discern what King Lamoni was thinking. And he started to answer the questions King Lamoni had.
King Lamoni gathered courage and asked more questions, after promising Ammon that, yes, he would believe what Ammon told him ... and he did, as the Holy Spirit confirmed the truth of what was being taught.

I love how, as Ammon taught King Lamoni, he worked to build a foundation of shared knowledge.
King Lamoni believed in a Great Spirit. Yes, this Great Spirit is God. Do you believe that God created everything on earth and in heaven? I believe that he created everything on earth ... but I don't know what this heaven is. ... and Ammon goes and takes this bit of knowledge and builds on it.

It can be harder to do this with people who haven't had any religious upbringing (remember the story about President Boyd K. Packer and the atheist on an airplane that we discussed a couple weeks ago?) ... but we all will have something in common, something to build on. And, if we are prepared to be able to feel and recognize the promptings and influence of the Holy Ghost, we will be able to find that. And not only will be we able to have the words give to us to speak and teach, but those we are teaching will be able to better feel the confirmation of truth that the Holy Ghost provides.

Sunday evening, I was able to attend a fireside about helping the Youth (that's you guys) to be better prepared for missionary service (And I'm aware that not everyone will serve a mission. however, I know that if you're preparing yourself for the possibility, you'll be well-prepared for adult life and being able to attend the temple and make those wonderful covenants with your Heavenly Father/Heavenly Parents ... so, really, is there a downside?).

Please, as you go through your day/week/life, don't just go through the motions. Don't perform the steps of the gospel and your covenants just because you feel that you're supposed to do these things. Please strive to find the motivation to WANT to: 
  • Read your scriptures because you WANT to be familiar with the gospel, because you WANT to grow closer to your Heavenly Father, because you WANT to be able to feel His presence, love, and protection ...
  • Pray because you WANT to talk to your Heavenly Father, you WANT to share your feelings and thoughts with Him, you WANT to bring yourself closer to Him.
  • Serve others because you WANT them to feel the love that their heavenly parents and their Savior have for them, because you WANT them to feel it and to be able to recognize it ... and then go seeking, themselves, after the source of that love and happiness which is found in our Father's great plan of happiness.
  • Attend Sacrament meetings, classes, and activities because you WANT to. Not because you feel that it's a duty that you HAVE to do, but because you WANT to renew your baptismal covenants, to always remember your Savior and all that He has done for you -- because HE LOVES YOU.
    Go to your Sunday School and YM/YW classes because you want to learn more about our Savior and YOUR relationship with Him. Because you want to strengthen your relationships with your spiritual brothers and sisters, so that you can feel His love for them and help lead them back to our heavenly home through your loving service to them.
    Attend your activities, whenever possible, not because you think it's going to be the best and most fun thing ever (sometimes it might not be), BUT because you choose to attend to strengthen your relationship with your Ward (or Branch)/Stake family.
  • Strengthen your family (this includes doing chores and working together), not because you are earning an allowance or because you know that you'll be in trouble otherwise ... but because you WANT to help create a home that is a refuge from the world, a place where you (and all those who enter your home) can feel the Holy Spirit and the peace and comfort that he brings.
Do you see my point? It's not an easy thing to do. I find myself often going through the motions ... which brings to mind, as I write this, one of the talks from last April's conference.
Elder Wilford W. Andersen gave a talk titled, "The Music of the Gospel." In it, he talks of the joy that the change of heart (through the power of the Holy Ghost) can bring.
I'm especially reminded of a statement made to a doctor by a Native American man: "I can teach you to dance, but you have to hear the music." ... And, to me, learning to be motivated to WANT to live the gospel is like learning to hear the music. We can go through the steps, yes, and that's a good thing. But choreography (steps/going through the motions) without feeling the music (desire/motivation) is pretty empty. (If you wonder what I mean, go watch a music video, one with lots of dancing, but turn the sound off. It's not at all the same, is it?)

Okay, I've written enough and have probably bored you to tears and/or sleep.

But I really would like for you to know that you're important. The Lord knows who you are. He loves you. You have been sent here, at this time, for a purpose. (And it's up to me, your parents, your other leaders, and those around you to help you prepare for whatever it is.)

I also want you to know that I love you. As a class, yes, but also as individuals. The more I get to talk with you, the more I love you. (So, please speak up/participate in class so I can get to love you more sooner! ^_^)
If you ever need someone to talk to, or a hug, just let me know. You're worth it. And I would be honored to be of service to you.

So, go out there and show the world, through your awesomeness, how great of a place the world can be ... and help them feel their Savior's love (you don't always have to preach. So don't feel that you HAVE to pull a Samuel the Lamanite all the time. Remember how Ammon served then taught. Sometimes your good example is enough. Sometimes you'll need to use words). 

If you need a motto for the day, you can totally use this one.
I didn't make/paint it myself. It's from designmilk.
But I still thought it was pretty applicable.

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