Headlines and Hangars

Today our block of scripture was Helaman 13-14. I wanted to finish up a few things for chapter 13 before moving on to address chapter 14.

First off, I held up section A from the newspaper I’d saved from the day my oldest child was born. Then I compared those headlines to the newspapers from this morning and last Saturday morning. The difference was remarkable. The world truly has become a much more violent place.

We talked about how, as people deepen in sin, they make more and more egregious choices – choices which hurt others. And why does the Lord allow that?

We moved to Alma 10:22-23 and Helaman 13:12-14 and discussed the content of those two scriptures, as suggested by the manual. I think the students were amazed at the power of prayer and the power that comes from simply living an obedient life, as they read the Lord’s words in these two sets of scriptures. From these scriptures we can see just how much our students are needed in the world today!

I coupled that discussion with Proverbs 17:3. Truly, the fallout of living in a world of people who are making wicked choices can sometimes be a painful thing. The Lord has given us the appropriate understanding of this in Proverbs, where three different examples of being purified are listed – the final one being the most important one, since we are the Lord’s children.

One of my greatest concerns for my students is, as they move into adulthood and face the increasing onslought of wicked activity around them, my greatest concern is if their testimony will wilt under the fire of it all. When “bad things happen to good people”, what then is the response?

I want them to remember these seminary days where we talked about these kinds of things, where they learned the scriptures contain all the answers to life’s problems, and that when we are faced with a refiner’s fire, that we do not need to despair nor feel God has forgotten us. Instead, we can know that the plan is working in our behalf. We must endure to be able to reap the benefit.

These thoughts really underline most of my preparations for these kids every day I teach. I want them to remember these important teachings as they go through their days, both presently and in the future. For the world will only continue to implode in wickedness. We can read this in the scriptures – BUT the Lord has a work to do for all those who will hearken. I want my seminary kids to be amongst that bunch. And a portion of the Lord’s work can be found in Alma 10:22-23 and Helaman 13:12-14.

So after comparing and contrasting these scriptures with what is happening currently in our lives today, I then gave them an assignment. We had started the lesson by looking at the headlines from the paper when my son was born and from this morning’s newspaper. Now I wanted them to find “headlines”, or important teachings, from some assigned scripture blocks. They divided into three teams and went on a “headline” hunt in the following three sets of scriptures:

  • the slippery slope of sin as found in Helaman 13:8, 9, 10, 31, 37, 38 (given in the teacher’s manual on page 206).
  • the Signs of the Birth of Jesus Christ as found in Helaman 14:2, 3-4, 5; 3 Nephi 1:13, 15, 21 (chart on page 207).
  • the Signs of the Death of Jesus Christ as found in Helaman 14:20, 21-22, 23, 24, 27; and 3 Nephi 8:5-7, 8-10, 12, 13, 17-18, and 19-23 (same chart on page 207).

Once they were finished creating a headline for each of the verses listed in these sections in the teacher’s manual, and we noticed how the prophecies were actually fulfilled, I then brought out a large broom and a hanger. I had two students hold up the broom on each end.

Without telling the class “why the broom”, I then read the quote from Elder Richard G. Scott, found on page 154 in the seminary *student* manual. (When you have a “unexplained” visual while reading a quote, oftentimes it helps the kids pay more attention, because they’re curious and trying to piece it together.)

Elder Scott’s quote speaks of God setting the truth of what is right and wrong – not us. Our choice really is what we choose to do with truth in our life. In other words, we can’t change truth. And once we make our choices (rather like choosing a coat from a coat closet), we must understand that the consequences are directly linked to what we choose. We CANNOT switch the “icky consequences” with “blessing consequences” simply because we don’t like the consequences which followed our choice, unless we change our original choice. Our power literally is on the front end – when we first make our selection.

That’s when I brought out my hanger. Pointing to the broomstick, I said it (the broom) was rather like the Iron Rod which Lehi saw in his dream. And for our purposes today, the broomstick we were holding up represented God’s truth. God’s truth does not vary nor diminish. It is constant and straight and true.

I held up the hanger. I said the hanger for me represented my life and what I choose to do with it. I can choose to hang my hanger on the broom of truth, or not. If I do, I have placed myself in direct contact with God and will be blessed for directly doing so. If I choose not to, thus choosing to remain apart, it is an unavoidable fact that I am no longer in contact with God – and thus cannot be privy to the same blessings.

The Nephites chose to remain separate from God and his truths during the time of Samuel. I bore witness to the students that by doing the same, and by justifying sin as the Nephites did, they too would soon be sliding down the slippery slope of sin we’d talked about in class for the past two days – which leads to eventual spiritual death.

But by resting our lives on what God has given us (and I placed the hanger once again on the broom), it will be well with us – regardless of the refiner’s fires we must face in this life. It will be well with us and we will be grateful for the choice.

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