A Thread For Talks and Lessons

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Beefster
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Beefster » 15 Oct 2017, 17:25

I gave a talk today. I tried to rock the boat without flipping it over. It didn't seem to go well as I gave it; I saw a lot of blank faces in the audience. After the fact, a lot of people praised my talk, including the EQP. His GF is a convert whose mother came to church once and had a terrible experience. She apparently said her mother needs to hear the talk. So I guess I did a good job. :D

My talk was seeded by Matthew 16:13-20. It's the part where Jesus asks his disciples who they said he is and how Peter knew he was the Christ because of revelation. I first joked that it was an invitation to bear my testimony and sit down, but of course I took it in another direction.

I started off by explaining that we are all at different points in our testimonies and that's okay. We should not look down on others who don't believe the same as us.

I then went on to compare the Three Little Pigs to the gospel. I pointed out that they all used different building materials for their houses. I compared the house of straw to perhaps cultural/social/tradition conversion. The house of sticks was checklists/proving the BoM/obedience for blessings. The house of bricks was the Gospel of Christ. I essentially said that the lesser building materials are a great start, but they are not enough for life's challenges.

I segued into the Parable of the 10 Virgins by saying that we will not always have our brother's house to fall back on.

I posed the question: How often do we find ourselves relying on others to tell us what to believe? With the Parable of the 10 Virgins, I pointed out that the foolish virgins are like those who rely on others to tell them what to believe. I explained that you need to own your testimony and that takes time and effort.

I went on to talk about Brigham Young folklore. I told the story where one day he taught some outlandishly false idea just so that on the next day he could ask which of them prayed about it the following day. I explained that although church leaders are good, they can be wrong sometimes (padding it with sheepese of course) and we should trust God over our leaders when there is a conflict.

I then talked about Moroni 10:4-5 and what I thought of "open heart and real intent." I believe it (at least in part) means that we should not have a conclusion in mind before we read scripture or ask God. I briefly mentioned how scientific research often takes this conclusion-first approach to get publishing and funding and thus fails to obtain truth.

I explained that conclusion-first attitudes come from more than just reluctant investigators, but from missionaries not understanding their investigators, leaders who assume things about their followers (I mentioned Eyring's recent talk on his experience as a bishop), and when preparing talks/lessons admitting that I myself was probably not a very good example of not having a conclusion first. I tied up this thought by saying that if we take this conclusion-first approach, it is unlikely we will receive revelation because we are not open to it.

About this point, I feel I may have come off as communicating a faith-hindering message, so I said something like, "It may seem like I'm doing some mental gymnastics here, but that's because the world is not as black and white as we like to make it."

I then brought it back to the seed scripture and pointed out verse 20, when Jesus charges his disciples not to tell others that he was the Christ. I pointed out that this was rather odd on the surface and seemed to convey the message that missionary work was not sanctioned by God. But I dove a little deeper and explained that I thought it meant that we need to be careful that we don't shove what we believe down other people's throats. They need to come to truth in a way that works for them. I pointed out that at a recent fireside given by Susan Easton Black, she got her testimony of the BoM in a non-traditional way, having taken a more academic approach.

I said that we need to be careful that when we bear are testimony, we are bearing our testimony to people, not at them. We should not shove it down their throats, but respect that everyone has their own way of discovering truth.

Somewhere around here, I made a passing mention to grace and how we don't talk about it enough in the church.

I then bore my testimony that God loves us and that Jesus is our Savior. I stuck to the things I actually believe and avoided the topics I am currently wrestling with. I was guilty of using "know" where perhaps that was not the case.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

Roy
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Roy » 16 Oct 2017, 12:46

I like how your compared testimonies to the 3 little pigs and building materials. I have often thought of my FC or assumptive world collapse as the fall of a building after an earthquake.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 Oct 2017, 17:51

Thanks for sharing this. I really like the message - and I love the 3 Little Pigs analogy.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Curt Sunshine » 23 Oct 2017, 20:31

The following is an outline of the talk I gave yesterday:
--------------------------------------------------------------------
1) The best definition of “Zion” I have heard in my lifetime is “unity despite differences”. In that light, our oldest daughter made a deeply profound comment on the way home after her first endowment session. She said:
“We work so hard to build the kingdom of God on Earth, that we often forget to establish Zion.”


2) What does it mean to establish Zion?

3) Joseph Wirthlin gave a talk entitled “Concern for the One” in the April 2008 General Conference. In that talk, he said the following:
Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.

Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.


4) My experience being a unique voice in counsels: Ohio Bishopric & Nauvoo High Council (and how wonderful it was to have different views and beliefs about the things we discussed)

5) Elder Craig Zwick spoke in this past General Conference. He said:
I had my eyes opened to “looking beyond what I could see” while serving as a mission president. A young elder arrived with apprehension in his eyes. As we met in an interview, he said dejectedly, “I want to go home.” I thought to myself, “Well, we can fix this.” I counseled him to work hard and to pray about it for a week and then call me. A week later, almost to the minute, he called. He still wanted to go home. I again counseled him to pray, to work hard, and to call me in a week. In our next interview, things had not changed. He insisted on going home.

I just wasn’t going to let that happen. I began teaching him about the sacred nature of his call. I encouraged him to “forget [himself] and go to work.”2 But no matter what formula I offered, his mind did not change. It finally occurred to me that I might not have the whole picture. It was then that I felt a prompting to ask him the question: “Elder, what is hard for you?” What he said pierced my heart: “President, I can’t read.”

The wise counsel which I thought was so important for him to hear was not at all relevant to his needs. What he needed most was for me to look beyond my hasty assessment and allow the Spirit to help me understand what was really on this elder’s mind. He needed me to see him correctly and offer a reason to hope. Instead, I acted like a giant demolition wrecking ball. This valiant elder did learn to read and became a very pure disciple of Jesus Christ. He opened my eyes to the Lord’s words: “For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
6) My experience at StayLDS.com (not mentioned by name): having beliefs that aren’t considered “mainstream”; being a member of one political party when everyone else seems to believe in the other party; being an introvert or having social anxiety issues or depression in a church that stresses happiness and sociality; being single, divorced, and/or a single parent when the traditional family is mentioned so much it seems we worship it as the only decent arrangement; struggling to stop drinking or smoking.

Summary: Playing an instrument other than the piccolo.

7) As you look around the chapel (please do that now), who do we see here? More importantly, who do we not see here? Are there specific “types” of people who are not part of our ward family? Why is that? Are we friends with them? Do we avoid “those kinds of people”? Do we assume they aren’t ready to be baptized – and are we focused only on those we think are ready?

8) How would you react if someone stumbled into the chapel in the middle of the sacrament reeking of alcohol or tobacco – or dressed extremely immodestly – or holding hands with someone of their same sex – or in dirty, smelly clothes – or holding a lit cigarette - or any other image or condition that might offend you? Would you think, automatically and reflexively, “Why are you here? This is a sacred time.” Would you make sure there wasn’t any space that looked available where you are sitting? Or, would you get up, embrace them, and say, sincerely, “Thank God you found us!”

9) I pray we can work actively and intentionally to create a true Zion in our ward. I pray we can value all of the instruments in the family of God and love people for playing their own unique instruments (even a kazoo) – and not insist they play ours. I pray we can build up the kingdom of God specifically by working to establish Zion.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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LDS_Scoutmaster
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 22 Nov 2017, 15:19

Great ideas and info in this thread. I like talks that call attention to different perceptions, rather than hearing what I consider a Sunday school lesson.
I'm not a very good speaker, but I have what I thought was one of my better talks a few weeks ago.

I talked about how doubt is necessary in life much like evil to good, doubt and Faith go hand-in-hand. Questioning with a sincere desire to understand, not just reassure our stance, leads either to apathy or to deeper soul searching. Faith and doubt can exist in the same mind, because they do in mine.

I quoted Terryl Givens, paraphrasing now, on how some are given to know the truth of Christ and His mission, to others is given the means to persevere in the absence of certainty. This segued into not looking at others who doubt or question as 'just not having enough faith'. In my mind there is much nobility in continuing on with less promptings from the spirit. It is as if Heavenly Father is saying, “I trust you. You know the path to follow, so follow it.” And rather than holding our hand, allows us to walk on our own.

Do I question at times whether God is there? Unequivocally yes - I would be lying if I said otherwise. Does this mean that I have no faith? Absolutely not - faith is hope in things we cannot see. I rely on my spiritual feelings to tell me what lies just beyond my eyes. I continue to get answers in many different ways: the spirit testifies, the fruits of good choices and right living, the knowledge in my heart and mind. I continue to search out my questions with a desire to understand, knowing that I may not always get answers right away, or at all. I rely on the many wonderful spiritual promptings from the Holy Ghost; confirmations of truth which I have had and continue to have.

I may be tempted to generalize those who question as just not having enough faith. However, faith grows and is garnered by the very questions that hope to define and explain. Questioning with a sincere desire, as in Moroni Chapter 10, bolsters certainty in a world of uncertainty. Therein is the key. If we have sincere desire to find answers, doubt and questions will lead us to greater faith.

Ultimately, faith and doubt work together. They are opposing forces that are a necessity of mortal probation. Faith and doubt are much like good and evil, polar opposites that we interplay between while traveling through this necessary condition of mortality. We need good and evil in this life to help us choose, as we need faith and doubt. Ultimately faith and doubt will no longer be needed when this mortal probation is over. In the meantime, I am as the father who said to Christ in Mark 9:24; “…Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Doubt and Faith can exist in the same mind, because they do in mine.

I knew that this may have hit a nerve with some people, because it is in contrast with monsons quote. When I first heard him say it it seemed odd to me. Perhaps he meant a different kind of doubt than mine, but I don't think so.

I talked a bit about some Eastern philosophy, and things that distract us from god. How feeling the spirit and trying to live the Gospel should increase our compassion, and outward kindness.

Because I had many points that I wanted to get just right, I mostly read my talk verbatim as I wrote it, which also means it didn't flow as well as it could have. I also like talks that are natural and flow well, which I don't think mine did.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6311&start=70#p121051 My last talk

We are all imperfect beings, dealing with other imperfect beings, and we're doing it imperfectly.

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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Roy » 26 Nov 2017, 12:45

LDS_Scoutmaster wrote:
22 Nov 2017, 15:19
Do I question at times whether God is there? Unequivocally yes - I would be lying if I said otherwise. Does this mean that I have no faith? Absolutely not - faith is hope in things we cannot see. I rely on my spiritual feelings to tell me what lies just beyond my eyes.
Did you really say this in SM? I like how you rebounded. Still, it seems gutsy to say that you sometimes doubt God's existence.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by DarkJedi » 26 Nov 2017, 15:29

Roy wrote:
26 Nov 2017, 12:45
LDS_Scoutmaster wrote:
22 Nov 2017, 15:19
Do I question at times whether God is there? Unequivocally yes - I would be lying if I said otherwise. Does this mean that I have no faith? Absolutely not - faith is hope in things we cannot see. I rely on my spiritual feelings to tell me what lies just beyond my eyes.
Did you really say this in SM? I like how you rebounded. Still, it seems gutsy to say that you sometimes doubt God's existence.
I have said something very much along those lines in SM and stake conference. When expressed authentically it can be very powerful. (Emphasis added for those who worry about being authentic.)
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by DancingCarrot » 26 Nov 2017, 17:03

Today I gave a lesson in RS based off of President Uchtdorf's April 2017 GC talk, "Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear."

I started off the lesson by discussing how fear is often used as a motivator, even in subtle ways. With increasingly more of our lives being moved onto social media, we come across advertisements that seem just like our friends' posts, but that they're trying to move product. I also iterated, from one of my favorite authors Mark Manson, that continually chasing positive experiences is itself a negative experience because chasing the positive often simply reinforces the fact that we don't already have it.

Next I moved on to FOMO - fear of missing out. I detailed another story from the above author about how, for years, he felt compelled to impulsively travel to a lot of places that he saw on Instagram that looked cool. Despite the fact that a lot of the places he went to were let downs, it fueled him even more, convincing him that he just wasn't looking at the right pictures or the right beaches or the right hotel yada yada yada. I mentioned that the most defining factor in determining if we're living according to FOMO is if we're more afraid of what we might potentially lose if we miss out on owning something or having an experience (a loss that's purely imagined because we don't have the thing in the first place), instead of being motivated by what we could gain from the experience.

I also linked being motivated by fear with perfectionism, and how the faulty belief system of perfectionism stymies any real progress. The RS president remarked that she noticed, in her own life, that perfectionism often stops you from beginning because you think that accomplishing anything that isn't perfect is a waste of time. I touched on Brene Brown's definition of perfectionism which links the fear of being rejected to the pursuit of appearing perfectly.

We closed the lesson with the notion that choosing to be continually motivated by fear causes us to pretend that we're already perfect people, and how it frustrates any need for an Atonement. That the need for an atonement wasn't some haphazard backup plan that we can use if we think mean things about people, but that a need for it was recognized from the beginning and was built into the system (regardless of literal vs figurative).

It was a great lesson.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. -Dumbledore

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. Together we can see what we will find. -Mumford & Sons

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Beefster
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Beefster » 26 Nov 2017, 17:13

Today, I taught the Law of Chastity in Gospel Principles. I took things in a different direction than the manual because I wanted to focus on other aspects. The manual focuses a lot on the unhelpful parts (i.e. it's bad, it's really bad, don't break it or else) of the orthodox way of teaching it, IMO.

I started off by saying that sex is a beautiful thing and that we should not be afraid to talk about it. I quoted Hermione Granger, "fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself" and that sex is nothing to be afraid of. I encouraged class members to use actual terminology where necessary. Throughout the lesson, there was one instance each of both "penis" and "vagina" as well as several for "masturbation" and "porn", so I guess I was successful in removing the prudishness. One class member actually repeatedly said "sex" at the beginning, which was a little humorous. I just said, "get it out of your system; this is a perfectly appropriate time and place to discuss this" or something to that effect.

I only spent about 15 minutes on the how and the what. I only brushed over the idea that it is a serious sin and needs to be properly repented of with the help of the bishop. I then focused on how to teach children about the LoC, resulting in a great discussion. The first comment made a point about being open and the discussion from there was fantastic.

Then I focused the rest of the block on how to support others who have struggles with the LoC. I began with the woman taken in adultery, which sparked some more great discussion and took up a lot more time than I planned. I wanted to spend time on discussing how to handle a few hypothetical scenarios, but I mostly had to leave them as questions to ponder.

Homosexuality didn't come up at all; though one hypothetical scenario was that a son or daughter comes out as gay. There wasn't time to discuss it. Considering that I don't believe sexual orientation is a central aspect of the Law of Chastity, I don't think that was a bad thing at all. Considering it's a singles ward, this comes as no surprise that I did not have to worry about homophobia derailing the lesson. (I would not be surprised if it happened in some wards)

The Elders thanked me for the lesson. Others seem to be satisfied. The girl I think is really attractive came in late on the word "masturbation" and I just casually told her I was teaching the Law of Chastity, to which she responded "Oh. That's my favorite lesson!" This would be a lot more awesome if she didn't turn me down when I told her I wanted to take her on a date on Monday. (BTW: It wasn't a strict no; it was more of a timing thing, but I'm taking it as a no and I do not plan on revisiting it until at least February or so.)
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Curt Sunshine » 26 Nov 2017, 18:16

That is the type of LofC lesson I like. We need more of them.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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