My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

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NewLight
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by NewLight » 19 Nov 2014, 05:35

We are slated to have the Temporal and Spiritual Self Reliance lesson this Sunday and I am looking forward to it. I hope our discussion goes as well as it sounds yours did - this is a great topic.

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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Heber13 » 19 Nov 2014, 09:02

Curt Sunshine wrote:We talked about needing to make our own decisions and choose what we believe about lots of things - that being told everything to think, believe and do is, essentially, Lucifer's plan, which is why those who do only what they are told to do receive "no reward". They don't grow; rather, they stagnate and never develop any degree of godliness.
Curt, it sounds like a good lesson.

My question is serious, not flippant...and I wondered if others in the class asked or discussed this point...

Thinking for ourselves and making our own decisions and choices is a necessary part of growth...as long as we choose right. If we choose to go against what the church leaders teach, don't most people in church believe that we have that choice to do that, but it is not good for us, nor does it lead to growth? Isn't that right? Kind of like Elder Oaks talking about the importance of personal revelation, and we must develop it, but it is only correct when it is in harmony with the priesthood revelation?

In other words, most admit the freedom to choose is important, but most believe it better be the choice the brethren tell us we should choose on our own?

Was it discussed? If not, how would you and others respond if it were?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 19 Nov 2014, 16:38

We didn't get into that type of discussion this time, Heber - mostly because I don't believe that level of specificity is appropriate for my role and only would discuss it if someone asked. However, we have had other lessons when that did get asked, and I simply have repeated the underlying concept and principle that only we are accountable for our actions and beliefs and that it's okay to see things differently than others, no matter who they are. My students know I believe that, since they have heard it, in some form or another, dozens of times over the past two years.
Kind of like Elder Oaks talking about the importance of personal revelation, and we must develop it, but it is only correct when it is in harmony with the priesthood revelation?


To be precise, that isn't what he actually said, if you are talking about his "Two Lines of Communication" talk. What he said is that personal revelation is for personal decisions and organizational revelation is for organizational decisions - and neither can take precedent over the other outside its intended sphere. That talk is misunderstood by a lot of people, largely because of what they assumed they were hearing from someone they viewed as a hardline conservative leader.
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: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 14 Dec 2014, 09:38

The topic this month is "Building the Kingdom of God on Earth", and we focused last week on "Serving Effectively in the Church". We did so by talking about five things:

1) The meaning of "effectively".

Effective can mean efficient - meaning doing something with as little wasted energy as possible, but it also can mean "causing an effect" - meaning achieving a desired result. Both are important in the context of serving effectively in the Church, but I pointed out that all actions have effects. One of the critical aspects of leadership is to identify the desired effect and act in such a way that the desired effect occurs. I simply said that the ultimate effect from service in the Church should be a closer relationship with God and each other - or, in other words, the establishment of Zion. Anything that takes people away from that effect is not in harmony with the stated goal of service in the Church.

2) The importance of callings in the operation of the Church.

I asked the students to rank church callings in order of importance. After a brief discussion about the "natural (wo)man" view of callings, we talked about how the most important calling is the one that they are doing at the time. We talked about living in the present and valuing the contributions and efforts of all members - and I mentioned how much I like the fact that a Bishop can get released and serve next in the Nursery, for example.

3) The difference between being a leader and being a worker - not relative to importance but merely to emphasize the necessity of each type of calling.

Concerning leaders, we talked openly, with the Bishop in the room, about how some callings are through inspiration, some are through perspiration and some are through desperation. We talked about how callings are important no matter which category applies in each case - and how, as a leader, it is important not to present a calling as being in one category when it really belongs in another one. I told them they should never tell someone a calling was inspired, for example, if there wasn't clear, undeniable inspiration in the selection process.

Concerning workers, we talked openly about how their honest input is important - and how it's okay to say no to callings and/or give qualified acceptance, meaning doing the best they can even if it isn't ideal. One of the students mentioned living in a small ward where his mother had three callings (two of which were leadership callings) while being pregnant. When she was asked to do one more thing, she had to say no for her own health and the well-being of her family. I mentioned a couple of instances where I had said I would accept a calling, but I shared some things about my situation at the time that would not allow me to perform the calling the way they probably wanted.

4) We talked about councils and their centrality to the serving effectively. We talked about the importance of input from council members - and I stressed that the best councils are those where the participants have differing perspectives and views, since that allows the leader to hear ideas and suggestions (and concerns and objections) that s/he wouldn't consider naturally.

5) We finished by talking about the need to respect others who are doing their best, even if that best isn't what the leader would like. I told them bluntly that people are more important than numbers and that if they ever lost sight of that and started focusing on numbers over people they would lose effectiveness and, more important, hurt people and lose their support and respect.
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: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 27 Aug 2018, 13:52

I think I have never had the feeling I should bump up this thread from years ago (and I am too lazy today to read all the comments and see), but I had the thought I should do so today after sharing a link to one of the lesson summaries in Shell's urgent thread.

I hope these lessons (or one or two of them) help someone who will read them now, even if only to see that it is okay to see things differently than other people.
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: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Feb 2019, 21:31

I have been teaching the Gospel Doctrine class for a while, and I will try to post summaries of the lessons as long as I am doing so.

Yesterday, we went over Jesus launching his ministry. We talked about personal cleansing, the announcement, and the initial organization.

Cleansing:

Jesus went to John, the Baptist, to begin his ministry. That is important because: 1) They knew each other, and John knew of the angelic visitations and pronouncements from his mother - and probably from Mary and Jesus directly. He already accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah. 2) John had a following already, and he was willing to give them up to form Jesus' initial following. 3) John was a Nararite and probably an Essene. He was a separatist who opposed the Jewish leadership and the Roman Empire. Aligning with and being praised by him put Jesus on the leadership radar immediately and established immediate legitimacy in the region.

Jesus fasted - following the traditional Jewish model of eating only at sunset for 40 days and nights. This is important because: 1) It destroys the apostate myth that his fast was supernatural starvation and the traditional denial of his humanness and extreme focus on making every story divine. 2) It is further proof that he was a devout Jew. 3) It is a model we can follow. 4) It emphasizes the human aspect of his ministry.

The discussion of Jesus being tempted was pretty orthodox, with the only exception being me pointing out that the final temptation was a reenactment of the War in Heaven narrative, with Satan saying, "You can be the God of this world, and I will take Heavenly Father's place as you give me the glory."

Announcement:

Jesus made his announcement in his home synagogue. This is important because: 1) Again, he approached it as a devout Jew. 2) It explains why he was rejected initially. (I asked who in the room was about 30. I said, "How would all of you react if he stood up in Fast & Testimony Meeting and said he was the savior of the world - perhaps the second coming of Jesus, to fit it into our current doctrine?") 3) It helps us be less critical and judgmental of them. 4) He quoted Isaiah 61:1-2, which defined his ministry in terms of liberating captive people and serving the marginalized - and ought to be our own model now.

Organization:

Jesus chose 12 men to be his original disciples, and their vocations collectively were important and intentional. They included: 1) fishermen (owners, not laborers) to provide food. 2) a physician to treat illnesses and injuries. 3) a tax collector to make sure they didn't break any tax laws. 4) someone to handle the ministry finances (an accountant?). 5) someone whose name means "son of a king" (probably a rich benefactor who helped fund the ministry. 6) an activist ("Zealot" - a known, radical, anti-establishment, violent sect) who showed his aggressiveness at the Garden 3 years later and became the new leader of the movement after Jesus died. 7) others whose occupations are not known.

Jesus carefully organized a leadership team who could serve a mobile ministry that was counter-cultural, separatist, and anti-establishment. If he came again today, he might attend church occasionally, but hut he would spend most of his time "in the community" serving, organizing, and empowering the outcasts and the marginalized.
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: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 03 Mar 2019, 16:44

The lsessons available for today were the miracles of Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount. I chose to teach about the Sermon on the Mount.

I mapped out a brief topical overview of each chapter on the board before class started. I began the class by mentioning that we rarely look at the Sermon on the Mount and analyze it as an actual sermon - and that is a shame, since it literally was the first sermon Jesus taught as he launched his ministry. I explained that it is an amazing sermon that reads as if he prepared it carefully - that it builds all the way through until the end and is progressive in nature (meaning it progresses from the beginning to the end in a direct, meaningful way). I said we were going to look at it in that light - as a sermon Jesus probably spent considerable effort to craft, perhaps even while he was in the wilderness fasting.

I broke up the class Into small groups and assigned each "topical section" (a few verses from each chapter) to a group. I asked them to read it and come up with a 1-2 sentence summary of whatever stood out the most to them. After about 5 minutes, everyone gave their summaries, in the order of the sermon. It was a good discussion.

I then categorized Matthew 5 as the road map for personal discipleship and practical at-one-meant with God - focusing on a movement away from the Law of Moses focus on external actions determining worthiness and righteousness toward an expectation of internally becoming like God. I categorized Matthew 6 as an explanation of WHY the change was important - that "works" alone bring a reward, as do public works, but they don't bring a heavenly reward or indicate the worker is becoming like God. I categorized Matthew 7 as an admonition to focus on one's own journey and quit judging others on their journeys - that the point of chapters 5 & 6 is personal and independent of others.

We then went back to Matthew 5:43-48 and talked about love-based "fruits" (actions produced by a connection to the tree/vine). I explained about "perfect" meaning "complete, finished, fully-developed" NOT "mistake-free" - and how that understanding allows us to quit trying to be perfectly mistake-free (and beating up ourselves when we err, transgress, or sin) and focus, instead, on gaining divine characteristics and loving everyone else no matter where they are in that process. I explained that this understanding is liberating and allows us to quit "denying the Atonement" by hinting we and others have to be "worthy" (based on measurable actions) in order to be loved and "blessed".
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: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Roy » 04 Mar 2019, 16:56

Thank you Curt. I have always appreciated your perspective on the perfection described here.
"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: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Rumin8 » 04 Mar 2019, 17:10

The church needs more instructors like Curt.

That sounds like a phenomenal class. I particularly like your take on perfection. :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
"Moderation in all things, especially moderation." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Be excellent to each other." - Abraham Lincoln to Bill & Ted

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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Aug 2019, 16:51

The lesson today was about Romans 1-16. I focused on the interplay among faith, grace, and works/fruit, but I first talked with them about my overall goals for the class.

I told them I had been bored in a lot of Sunday School classes when I was a teenager, because I was hearing about stuff I had studied for years. I saw a lot of surprised, understanding faces. I explained my former Bishop's request to teach students how to fly their own planes and Elder Wirthlin's description of God valuing all of the instruments in the orchestra. I told them I see lots of things like other members and lots of things differently than other members. I told them I hope to help them understand the scriptures we study in whatever way makes sense to them, even if it is different than my views and the views of others in the class.

We started the class by reading selected verses from Romans 3 about faith, grace, and works. The wording can be difficult, so we rephrased each verse we read. The core was that "obeying the law" doesn't bring divine approval in and of itself, because everyone has sinned and needs redemption. It is faith that justifies, because faith drives people to act in accordance with their conscience - believing God loves them enough to forgive whatever gap there is between the ideal and what actually is possible. Faith doesn't make obedience meaningless; rather, it makes obedience meaningful.

We talked about Article of Faith 11 and how we are free to follow our conscience in faith. I asked them if we can say with certainty the 9/11 bombers were consigned to Hell. They said no. I asked how we can say that, given how atrocious their actions were. Someone said they were doing what they thought was God's will, and only God knows their hearts well enough to judge them.

I said that example applies to each of them individually. I asked them to think of something they had done in the past they wish they hadn't done. I told them if murdering thousands of people doesn't condemn people automatically to Hell, nothing they will do at any point in their lives will separate them from God's love. We talked about Article of Faith 2 and why it is before the Atonement in the next article. We talked about the consequence of Adam's transgression on each of us - how we inherit certain weaknesses and tendencies and issues simply because we are humans - simply because of Adam's transgression. I said we can't say, "It's fine; I was born this way," but, instead, accept in faith that we won't be condemned because of mortal stuff we didn't choose. I said our "work" is to let go of unhealthy guilt and just try to improve throughout life - to let our faith in divine grace empower us to not beat ourselves up over mistakes and just keep trying to do our best.

We read Hebrews 11:1 and talked about the definition of faith. I told them about the analogy of flipping a light switch and "believing" the light will come on. I asked them if that was faith. They understood it wasn't faith, because they had experience / knowledge that the light would come on - and, if it didn't, they understood why. I told them I personally have no experience with an afterlife, so I can't say I know we live after death. My wife, on the other hand, has felt her father's presence in the temple, so she feels comfortable saying she knows we live after death. I said I have no personal experience with a couple who have died and testified their relationship continued after death, but I love my wife so much that I hope mightily that we will continue to be together after death. I have deep hope in what I have never seen - which is faith. I asked if any of them had experienced something that gave them knowledge of an afterlife. One student raised their hand. I said that was cool, but everyone else's experiences were every bit as valid. They just were different.

I asked them if they could think of an example from the scriptures where someone exercised great faith. Someone mentioned Abraham, so we talked about that story. I mentioned that story is one example where I personally see scriptures differently than most members. We talked about the orthodox interpretation, then, as I started to move on, one of the students asked me how I see the story. I explained the old Jewish view that Abraham failed a divine test by being willing to sacrifice his son to his god - that he hadn't let go of the incorrect traditions of his fathers. I told them I had no idea what view is correct, but I don't care. Some people like the traditional version; I like the other Jewish view. To each their own.

We finished by talking about grace and that Mormons do believe in grace. We tend to call it the Atonement, but it is essentially another name for grace. We talked about "by their fruits ye shall know them" and the difference between "dead works" and "living fruit" - that works are what we do completely on our own or from feeling like we have to do it, while fruit is what is produced by a connection to a living vine/tree/bush. With a tree, it is the tree that enlivens the branch that produces the fruit. Thus, it is our faith that connects to God and produces living fruit.

For a first introduction to me (since I have attended only about half of the time I have been in the ward so far), I think it went quite well.
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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