Signs of the Times

Today, to emphasize the material in the teacher’s manual, we did a Signs-of-the-Times activity. As suggested by the manual, I made a copy of pages 299-300 in the appendix of the manual, “Helaman and 3 Nephi: a Parallel to the Second Coming of Christ.” But then I varied the activity a bit to finish up our study of the scripture block Helaman 1-6.

I wanted to find a fresh way to immerse the students in the scriptures and then have them apply what they were reading to their present day world.

The appendix sheet had five sections:
1. Social and Political Turmoil
2. Cataclysmic Events
3. The Wicked
4. The Righteous
5. The Lord Comes

I cut each of the five sections into individuals strips. I divided the kids up into five groups, each one receiving one section.

They were to research one scripture from each of the eight sub-divided topics on their page. They were to circle the prophetic scriptures on the handout that they had researched.

Once they had done their research, I passed out scissors, glue, a white piece of paper, and a section from this week’s newspapers. Their instructions were to clip out phrases and words from the news of today which reflected that which had been prophesied in the scriptures so long ago. Then they were to glue those phrases and words onto a sheet of paper to represent what they had found. The picture shown above is what the team working on “4. The Righteous” came up with.

During the process, we talked about how we have been told that we are living in the last moments of the last days. Are we ready? What if the Savior actually returned next year? Some of the Nephites experienced the Savior’s coming. I asked the students if they were ready to experience the Savior’s soon return?

We also talked about what a glorious time this is – that we are so close. And that when Christ comes, the anguish from mankind’s vicious acts will be gone! What a blessed and joyous moment that will be.

How do we make sure everyday we are ready?

Recently, we had a freak, one-hundred year rainstorm. In six hours, the 911 call center received over 1500 calls for help. Roofs were collapsing on businesses, some of which were less than a year old. The reasons the roofs collapsed? Because they had never been inspected by a building inspector.

We talked about how about 90 percent of our lives go by without inspection. In other words, the kids are only with their parents a brief portion of each day. What do they choose to do with the freedom they have? Are they quietly flaunting gospel standards, even though no-one knows? The day will come when the “rains of life” will rain down so heavily that if they’ve not allowed inspection from God, from their own hearts, and from their parents, perhaps they will be found lacking and will not bear up under the weight of the deluge.

In the instances of these businesses recently, the amount of water that punctured the roof was so great that the customers said it felt like a tidal wave. Customers and employees were literally (and quite suddenly, too) washed outside the store by a large tidal wave of water, crashing/washing the people along with myriads of store products out into the street. There was no stopping the weight and power of that tidal wave of water – all because the roofs were poorly constructed and never supervised in that construction.

So how do we ready ourselves for the onslaught which is already around us AND the ones still pending? We read in the scriptures that in our time, men’s hearts will fail them – a far more serious breach than just a roof from a few business buildings. What can be done?

The students had some great ideas. And tomorrow they will present their research from this portion of the scriptures and their mini-posters to the rest of the class.

May the Lord bless us all to survive these times and to be able to meet him triumphantly, having brought many with us to greet Him when He returns.

Follow Up to Signs of the Times Lesson

The next day ….

Today the students had an opportunity to share a scripture from their research yesterday. …. In essence, they were reading and researching prophecies for the latterdays, found in Helaman and other cross-referenced scriptures provided by the teacher’s manual.

[I might parenthetically add here that I make it a point to only use the church-approved materials for teaching moments in my class. It is important to do this, to make sure that only doctrine is being taught in class. Any games I provide are simply to help bring the point home and I make them up myself, so as to not to cause copyright issues. I feel this is important. Thus, for actual teaching I only use material from these three manuals: the Book of Mormon Seminary Student Study Guide, the Book of Mormon: Student Manual Religion 121 and 122, and the teacher’s seminary manual.]

For the presentations today, the students showed the class the phrases they found in the newspapers which substantiated that which they had learned through their research in yesterday’s study activity. They also read out loud to one another the scripture they found to be the most potent from all the scriptures they had digested yesterday in their research.

We discussed how important it is to stay close to the scriptures and to remain steadfast in the gospel. For truly these days are important ones, as they lead up to the eventual coming of Christ.

It was interesting to hear the students’ perspectives and testimonies as to living the gospel. These kids are so great. And once we were done, the kids then took turns leading out on quizzing one another for the upcoming Scripture Mastery Day at the stake. They pretended they were the teacher and chose their own key words to quiz the class with.

It is so important to see these kids leading out in such leadership kind of ways. Not only does it strengthen them as they grow into adulthood, but it also helps them to solidify their knowledge of these important mastery scriptures. Plus, they get a kick out of quizzing one another!

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