I created this for our first Activity Days class. It was a bunch of 7 to 8-year-old rowdy boys and I realized all too late that I had over-prepared.
Feel free to use it for your own study or any lesson or activity that you would like; no attribution required. You can preview and download it down below.
Of all the things that I have ever done to hear the voice of the Lord, this has been the one thing that has made the biggest difference and I absolutely love doing it.
Joseph Smith once wrote that we believe in the Bible (and any other scripture, I’d imagine) as far as it is translated correctly.
For years, I have enjoyed the Isaiah Institute Translation of Isaiah which was created by Avraham Gileadi. You can read it for free at IsaiahExplained.com.
When I get to any Isaiah portions of the Book of Mormon, I look them up at Isaiah Explained and I feel like I get a much clearer reading. I don’t get any kickbacks for my recommendations, but now that we are getting into the Isaiah portions of Nephi’s record, it feels like a good time to point out this resource.
Here are some other posts I have made about Isaiah that some may find helpful:
Joseph Smith’s use of a seer stone was described in a trial, it was said that when he used the stone, “all intervening obstacles were removed, and that he possessed one of the attributes of Deity, an All-Seeing-Eye.” (Purple account, Joseph Smith Testimony, 1826 trial)
Ultimately, God sees the clearest and we see very, very little in comparison. I think that whatever stresses we face in dealing with the challenges in life all have to do with our limited vision and lack of perspective.
The Nephite interpreters were described as clear “smooth three-cornered diamonds” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother Lucy Mack Smith) that when held to the face with the outside light obscured, illuminated truth to the observer. It is fascinating to consider that the interpreters were fashioned like lenses and used with one’s eyes. A person who used them was called a “seer.”Read Full Post
I’ve noticed that pop culture has influenced us at church where we feel more inclined to walk on eggshells, afraid to offend others. True, we value kindness, but I think we err in thinking that it means that we must keep everyone happy around us at all times.
You cannot teach the truth without eventually offending others, not even if you are Jesus himself. (John 6:60-66)
And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.
And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.
And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.1 Nephi 16:1-3
Nephi was not afraid to speak the truth, and he often suffered physical pain because of it. His brothers often hated so much what he had to say they sought to silence him by physical restraint or attempted murder.
Nephi “triggered” Laman and Lemuel, or rather, Laman and Lemuel chose to be “triggered” by what Nephi had to say. Whatever one’s opinion may be, the truth remains, no matter how we feel about it.Read Full Post
In the vision of the tree of life that Lehi and Nephi witnessed, a “great and spacious building,” prominently juxtaposed the righteous seeking to find their way to the tree of life.
The tree had a path and an iron rod, everything you needed to get there if you really wanted to. You just had to hold to the rod and keep moving, and anyone could get there.
The building, on the other hand, was less accessible, “it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.” (vs.26) There was no clear path to get there, and those inside were too busy pointing their fingers and mocking to help others get where they were.
While the elite sat in their privileged positions, many perished down beneath them, and they didn’t even seem to notice.Read Full Post
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we find an account of Jesus being tempted by the devil while fasting in the wilderness. The scene parallels, in at least two significant ways, Nephi’s vision of the tree of life.
Jesus is tempted by the devil, which correlates with the mists of darkness that Nephi saw in his vision. The only way through the mists of darkness, or these temptations, is to continually hold fast to the iron rod, or word of God.Read Full Post
This was the best comment on the church’s new video The Christ Child which I highly recommend.
The characters are speaking Aramaic, the inn situation is more historically accurate and the wise men show up at the right time!
The performances are outstanding and the wise man’s reaction to Jesus is priceless. This is probably the best film that I’ve seen from the church.
You don’t see a depiction of Jesus as a toddler very often and while we know that he was a toddler, it is different seeing it depicted and wondering about what that must have been like.
What a great reminder of how our Savior came to earth in such a humble manner. Thank you, Father, for the gift of your Son and for all the beauty of life.
I listened to this podcast several weeks ago because, like most people, I felt like I would get distracted often.
Nir Eyal, the author of Indistractable explains that distraction starts from within. When we feel like indulging in a distraction we should ask the question: What am I escaping from? or What is the feeling that I’m using a distraction to escape?
He further explains that every human has an inherent desire to escape discomfort. Whenever we feel physically uncomfortable, we react. When we are lonely, we check Facebook, when we are uncertain, we check Google, when we are bored, we turn on the TV, check the news or watch a movie.
The key is learning to manage those internal triggers and he explains how this can be done in the podcast below.
I thought this was some of the most helpful and simple advice I have heard in a long time and it is definitely a great message for people of all ages to deal with the challenges of our day and time.
Here’s the audio via User Defenders Podcast:
Link to podcast website and full transcript: https://userdefenders.com/podcast/064-how-to-become-indistractable-with-nir-eyal/
Recently I listened to the Stages of Faith presentation again but this time with my wife and daughters and it was a wonderful experience. I wanted my wife and kids to hear these ideas to see how we can help add to their faith and help prepare them better. A comment from Zen at JRGanymede said:
“Don’t teach so clearly they can understand.
Teach so clearly they can’t misunderstand.”
I cannot recommend this presentation enough so if you haven’t listened to it yet, set aside some time and enjoy it by clicking here.
I think that the material covered there can have an incredible impact on people who are struggling or even younger people who may not understand trials or the dark night of the soul when it inevitably envelops them.Read Full Post
This past week, I turned 40 years old; wow, that’s how long the Israelites wandered in the desert. The number 40 is tied to the themes of “probation, trial, and chastisement.”  Hopefully I am on the other side of the probation and chastisement and not just beginning them, yikes!
That got me thinking of how Lehi’s people wandered for 8 years and how “it is the number specially associated with Resurrection and Regeneration, and the beginning of a new era or order.”  That makes a lot of sense seeing how they were starting a completely new civilization in the promised land.Read Full Post
The priesthood is a big topic and much has been said and written about it throughout time. It seems to me that there are a lot of misunderstandings out there about what the priesthood is.
I think there is some wisdom found in exploring some words spoken by, then President of the quorum of the twelve, Russell M. Nelson about the atonement of Jesus Christ:
It is doctrinally incomplete to speak of the Lord’s atoning sacrifice by shortcut phrases, such as “the Atonement” or “the enabling power of the Atonement” or “applying the Atonement” or “being strengthened by the Atonement.” These expressions present a real risk of misdirecting faith by treating the event as if it had living existence and capabilities independent of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.Russell M. Nelson
Under the Father’s great eternal plan, it is the Savior who suffered. It is the Savior who broke the bands of death. It is the Savior who paid the price for our sins and transgressions and blots them out on condition of our repentance. It is the Savior who delivers us from physical and spiritual death.
There is no amorphous entity called “the Atonement” upon which we may call for succor, healing, forgiveness, or power. Jesus Christ is the source. Sacred terms such as Atonement and Resurrection describe what the Savior did, according to the Father’s plan, so that we may live with hope in this life and gain eternal life in the world to come. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice—the central act of all human history—is best understood and appreciated when we expressly and clearly connect it to Him.
I think that similarly, we make the same error in how we talk about the priesthood. Both ‘the atonement’ and ‘the priesthood’ are not in and of themselves some amorphous entities that we ‘draw upon’ for power.Read Full Post
This is a thought I had today as we were discussing the topic of temptation in church. I was thinking again along the lines of another recent post about the source of ideas.
Intelligence alone cannot progress without ideas. Ideas consist of information, something that has been assembled in a manner that can be comprehended. We understand God to be a source of ideas and when intelligences are aware of his ideas, they act and grow, and if they continue on this path they progress.Read Full Post
This story is from September 2015
As I went to announce to my kids that it was bedtime I noticed that two out of the three were fast asleep on the couch.
I was tired too and decided to just leave them where they lay for the night. I told the last one awake to head to bed, but she protested and asked that I move the others to the room with her because she did not want to sleep alone.
I told her she’s always wanted her own room anyway, so tonight she gets her wish!
She replied, “Well, I changed my mind!”
A light went on in my mind as I realized that she must still be afraid due to those ghost stories the kids down the street had told her earlier in the evening.
I noted a similarity between fear and faith; they are both based on ideas.
Ideas alone are nothing, but they lose or gain power depending on the degree of belief we choose to invest in them.
Some recent quotes and ideas that I found interesting.
Everything will be okay in the end. If everything’s not okay, it’s not the end.-via Jeremiah NTJ and Bookslinger, jrganymede.com
The discomfort one feels from the scornful mocking coming from the great and spacious building is directly proportional to the value one ascribes to their opinions.Personal notes
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2. Jesus said, “Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]”
25. Jesus said, “Love your brother like your soul, guard him like the pupil of your eye.”– The Gospel of Thomas
I just completed and published a 6×9″ 94-page hardcover version of the Lectures on Faith which I think is the nicest-looking edition ever made!
While you can always access this version for free at LecturesOnFaith.com, this version was created especially for study purposes and those that prefer an analog copy.
With wide margins for notes and three extra pages in the back for additional notes, this version of the Lectures on Faith is perfect for personal study or to pass along as a gift to anyone looking to discover or reignite their faith in God.
Take a peek inside:
There are a lot of changes happening in the Church today, and for some, it is refreshing, but for others, it is concerning.
I have heard some explain that various groups that have criticized the Church are happy with some recent changes because they think they are getting their way; some more conservative church members agree and are upset.
Some people out there might be hearing church critics patting themselves on the back saying:
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Ha! We have successfully forced the Church to change its policies because of the pressure we put on them. The Church is just a human-made organization that is losing members and money and will compromise its doctrine and principles to survive. Let’s see what else we can get them to compromise on next! #TOTALSCAM #WEKNEWIT
As part of our ongoing experimentation with the Come Follow Me initiative as it pertains to home study as a family, I had a nugget of inspiration that bore some good fruit.
We had been trying to fit in a reading each night where we each read a few verses and then had family prayer.
There wasn’t much depth at all because we were trying to “get through” the scriptures before the little ones lost their patience and began to be disruptive.
The other night, I had an idea. I suggested that we should try studying on our own each day, then in the evening we could each share what we learned from our own studies.
I gave my kids two goals: 1. write down any word they don’t know the meaning of and 2. write down anything they thought was interesting.
The next night, my 12-year-old daughter eagerly revealed an entire sheet of paper filled with words and paragraphs of text. We went through and defined the words she didn’t understand and listened to her insights.
What a difference!
I love these moments that God gives us and am grateful for his hand in the little things in life that mean so much.
As I was pondering some scriptures today, the Spirit taught me something that caused a significant paradigm shift in my mind.
Two verses of scripture that are very meaningful to me revealed a blindspot in my perceptions of myself, others, and God. Let’s start with this verse:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.Ether 12:27
How does God show us our weakness? I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure there is a myriad of ways that he does this, but today a new idea hit me pretty hard.Read Full Post
The Church recently released an updated/clarified version of the temple recommend interview questions.
And for the first time that I can remember, the President of the Church read them out loud over the pulpit in General Conference.
It used to be that you didn’t really have access to these questions until you were sitting with a leader in a temple recommend interview. If it had been a while since hearing them, some things may have caught you off guard.
As they seem to be made more accessible to the members, I think it would be wise for us to ponder them regularly and certainly before an interview so that we have time to prepare in any way necessary to answer with confidence.Read Full Post
Not every speaker is represented here. There was probably a ton more that I could have included but these were some of the highlights that were particularly meaningful to me personally. I’ll include some commentary here and there at the end of each list.
Stephen W. Owen
- “They starved to death with their stomachs full.”
- “They went through the motions of spirituality but were not converted.”
- This is a day of spiritual malnutrition.
- “[Satan] is the master of distraction and author of procrastination.”
I really liked how the story of the deer eating the hay in winter can apply to us filling ourselves with things that don’t nourish. I have felt like this is a problem for many of our members for a long time, especially the youth. We feel safe and secure as members because of the church around us but we need to have a personal relationship with God that is real and living.
D. Todd Christofferson
- Having religion or faith in God will not protect you from bad things. When our faith is strong, if bad things happen, and they will, we will be able to deal with them.
- “Be intentional about creating time and space to hear God’s voice.”
- “Act without delay. When you receive promptings and act with intention, the Lord can use you.”
- “Get your errand from the Lord.”
- If you ask questions like that, you will feel nudges from the Holy Spirit as to who you can help.
- “You can pray and ask the Lord for an errand.”
I need to be better about this, a lot better. I felt a call to turn to God and incorporate some of these things back into my life from her talk.Read Full Post