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Sunday21

Do I Believe?

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8 hours ago, Carborendum said:

This is what I was saying earlier about being in the same boat.  We're all a work in progress.  We can't hope to pass any tests when we've just barely gotten on the road to discipleship.  It's a process and takes time.  The only test we pass is that we have enough faith to actually try -- and mess up -- and try again.

In fact, it would probably be a great thing for you to share "a little bit" about your feelings of inadequacy.  That may actually bring peace to others who also have the same feelings of inadequacy.  Let them know that it's ok to feel that way.  Most of us do.

The other day in Sunday School the teacher asked,"So how do we consider the monumental task of being perfect without getting super depressed?"

I responded,"Well I do end up getting super depressed." I said it in a comical tone.

The entire class chimed in with laughter and agreement.  We all do feel that way. Let them (and yourself) know that it's okay to feel some discouragement.  But it's more important to pick up and keep going.  The biggest secret to perfection is that we keep trying no matter how many times we fail.

This is great! Thanks so much Carb.

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6 hours ago, CV75 said:

If any of the  kinds of differentiation I listed resonate with you, i would formulate a discussion around any of those. Ask the class for example, "What is the difference between testimony and conversion?" Of course you might also have the class members discuss how we show complacency and interest in (pick a principle); how we show we believe in (pick a “profound claim” / “distinguishing feature”); and how the Spirit speaks to our heads and our hearts, and where our deepest convictions reside.

And of course offer quotes from talk or any of the footnoted scriptures: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/do-i-believe?lang=eng

If one particular segment of her video strikes you as particularly pertinent to your class members' needs, you might want to show that clip.

Thank you! Good ideas!

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10 minutes ago, LiterateParakeet said:

I just realized this is the topic for our RS too. 

Wait, so that means we're doing it for PH too.

EDIT: but I attend Deacon's quorum.  Yeah, I got demoted.;)

Edited by Guest

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On 10/24/2016 at 1:07 PM, Sunday21 said:

Dear Sis and Bro's,

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/media/session_4_talk_6/4829400508001?lang=eng

This is the general conference talk that I need to base a lesson on in 4 weeks. I confess that when I read this talk, I wondered if I could give some kind of excuse not to give this lesson, but it is me or the overloaded RS education leader who is very tired looking. I don't know how to approach this lesson. The talk seems to differentiate between two types of testimonies:

1) based on "what makes sense" e.g. I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon; therefore I know the church is true because Joseph Smith both wrote the Book of Mormon and was the first prophet.

2) testimonies based on pure conviction.

The talk seems to take the position that #2 type testimonies are superior and that we need to achieve this #2 testimony.

I could give out slips of paper asking people if they have this #2 testimony, could they share this testimony during the meeting but..

A) this approach seems rude, intrusive and mean.

B) I think people would be insulted and feel judged

What to do?

It's not a choice. I think that #1 is a common and perhaps necessary step. If I interpret #2 ("pure conviction") as meaning a conviction OF THE SPIRIT, then that is the true testimony for which we all seek.

Most of us will not be given that conviction of the Spirit on every point of the gospel and the Restoration. [EDIT: I mean we will not be given a conviction on every point of the gospel all at once. I believe that we can and eventually will be given such a conviction of every point, if not in this life then in the next.] Some will have that conviction borne to their souls regarding the Prophet Joseph Smith; for others, it will be living prophets; yet others will have that conviction granted regarding the restoration of Priesthood authority, or the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, or the necessity of temple work and the sealing power. Many others will simply acknowledge that they feel better when they go to Church and fellowship with the Saints, and that their mind is clearer and they make better decisions when they try to live the gospel. This is a perfectly acceptable and good place to start.

Note the last two words above: "to start". Wherever we are in our testimony, that is where we are starting today. We can and must build on that foundation. It is also possible for us to regress in our testimony, literally to forget that which has been revealed to us. I have seen this happen, and it is a stark, sobering, tragic occurrence. To some extent, all or at least most of us have actually experienced it. If we have done so, that gives us a sort of "negative testimony": "I know I shouldn't act in this manner because my knowledge and ability to act as I should in a way that will make me happier actually diminishes when I do that stuff."

And so we try to avoid such thoughts or actions. We preach against them, knowing that in so doing, we appear to ourselves (and others who know our weaknesses) as hypocrites. But we know that the essence of hypocrisy is a "false face", not an imperfect person who strives to do better.

Note: If by "pure conviction" we mean "pure belief without any spiritual revelation", then that is not a testimony at all. It is a starting place to gain a testimony. But a testimony is the word growing in our hearts, as explained in Alma 32.

Edited by Vort

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8 hours ago, LiterateParakeet said:

I just realized this is the topic for our RS too. 

Are you teaching? Have you decided how to present? Seems a tall order to me. Is it just me or is this a really big issue...like asking "how committed are you really?" One of those, "would you leave everything and push a handcart to Utah"? questions. I don't know. A couple of times in church assignments, I've felt my arm being twisted and I, as part of a calling, stood up and told people things I really did not want to say but that they needed to hear. Not critism of them, by no means. I told people about some bad times I had, something's which as a professional, I never tell people. I know I was meant to tell people because it helped them to know that there is a way out, with G-d's help. I sincerely hope this lesson is not requesting such honesty. Hmmm. Time to have a business trip? 

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19 hours ago, Vort said:

And so we try to avoid such thoughts or actions. We preach against them, knowing that in so doing, we appear to ourselves (and others who know our weaknesses) as hypocrites. But we know that the essence of hypocrisy is a "false face", not an imperfect person who strives to do better.

How I wish more people understood this statement.

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On October 24, 2016 at 3:07 PM, Sunday21 said:

Dear Sis and Bro's,

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/media/session_4_talk_6/4829400508001?lang=eng

This is the general conference talk that I need to base a lesson on in 4 weeks. I confess that when I read this talk, I wondered if I could give some kind of excuse not to give this lesson, but it is me or the overloaded RS education leader who is very tired looking. I don't know how to approach this lesson. The talk seems to differentiate between two types of testimonies:

1) based on "what makes sense" e.g. I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon; therefore I know the church is true because Joseph Smith both wrote the Book of Mormon and was the first prophet.

2) testimonies based on pure conviction.

The talk seems to take the position that #2 type testimonies are superior and that we need to achieve this #2 testimony.

I could give out slips of paper asking people if they have this #2 testimony, could they share this testimony during the meeting but..

A) this approach seems rude, intrusive and mean.

B) I think people would be insulted and feel judged

What to do?

Realize that belief is a choice. Without knowing, we choose to believe and act. There is tremendous power in that. How many times did Jesus simply ask people to believe?  All the temple recommend questions ask if you believe.  Nothing wrong with believing.

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16 minutes ago, spamlds said:

Realize that belief is a choice. Without knowing, we choose to believe and act. There is tremendous power in that. How many times did Jesus simply ask people to believe?  All the temple recommend questions ask if you believe.  Nothing wrong with believing.

I agree believe is a choice.  I remember once when I was really struggling with not only my testimony of the church, but of God.  I made a conscious choice to "experiment on the word" as Alma suggested.  I chose to hold on for a bit longer to a belief in God and in Christ.  What a beautiful story, I reasoned, I really wanted it to be true.  So I chose to believe and wait and see what happened to that seed.  I figured if I was wrong, no harm would come from my experiment.  But the seed grew and grew.  My dormant faith was rekindled, and my testimony became strong once more.  

Definitely a choice.  

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Questions that might stimulate thought and profitable discussion:

  • What is a testimony?
  • Why do we think it's important to receive a testimony?
  • Why do we dedicate one Sunday sacrament meeting a month as "open-mike day" and allow random people from the congregation to come forward and share their testimony -- even when some (or sometimes many) of them really don't share a testimony at all?
  • What does Church membership feel like for someone who has a testimony of the gospel?
  • What does Church membership feel like for someone who does not have a testimony of the gospel?
  • When your bishop calls you in and asks you to please sign over the deed on your house to the Church, how might your response be based on whether or not you have a testimony? (Okay, I admit this is a leading question, but it's a "rubber-meets-the-road" kind of question that can get people really thinking.)
Edited by Vort

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38 minutes ago, Vort said:

Questions that might stimulate thought and profitable discussion:

  • What is a testimony?
  • Why do we think it's important to receive a testimony?
  • Why do we dedicate one Sunday sacrament meeting a month as "open-mike day" and allow random people from the congregation to come forward and share their testimony -- even when some (or sometimes many) of them really don't share a testimony at all?
  • What does Church membership feel like for someone who has a testimony of the gospel?
  • What does Church membership feel like for someone who does not have a testimony of the gospel?
  • When your bishop calls you in and asks you to please sign over the deed on your house to the Church, how might your response be based on whether or not you have a testimony? (Okay, I admit this is a leading question, but it's a "rubber-meets-the-road" kind of question that can get people really thinking.)

Dear Vort,

Thanks so much. These ideas are really helpful. Good ideas!

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On 10/24/2016 at 2:07 PM, Sunday21 said:

Dear Sis and Bro's,

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/media/session_4_talk_6/4829400508001?lang=eng

This is the general conference talk that I need to base a lesson on in 4 weeks. I confess that when I read this talk, I wondered if I could give some kind of excuse not to give this lesson, but it is me or the overloaded RS education leader who is very tired looking. I don't know how to approach this lesson. The talk seems to differentiate between two types of testimonies:

1) based on "what makes sense" e.g. I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon; therefore I know the church is true because Joseph Smith both wrote the Book of Mormon and was the first prophet.

2) testimonies based on pure conviction.

The talk seems to take the position that #2 type testimonies are superior and that we need to achieve this #2 testimony.

I could give out slips of paper asking people if they have this #2 testimony, could they share this testimony during the meeting but..

A) this approach seems rude, intrusive and mean.

B) I think people would be insulted and feel judged

What to do?

considering all the anti -lds rhetoric that comes my way every now and then, and with every conference there always seems to be a spate of it.... interestingly this time around it seems the only focus of ire for critics was Elder Hollands talk that had blurb "where will you go, what will you do...." in it. So i don't think this one will come across too harsh.

Testimonies that are brought about by the Holy Ghost are generally viewed as the best (as is my view). Seek them first, hold fast and sooner or later, number 1 will fall into place. outwardly this would seem like pure conviction.
Both types of testimony have merit but if your testimony is only there because something makes sense, sooner or later you will come across something that is anti-your testimony that will at the time appear to make more sense and you will have a hard time not waivering.

It looks like you have a good framework for a talk- the two types of testimony, and as you have a question about them, a motivation to study the differences between the two and also what the speaker was meaning.  perhaps focus on how to gain both, and to do so humbly?

Edited by Blackmarch

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On October 30, 2016 at 5:04 PM, Sunday21 said:

I will teach this the 4th Sunday in November. Still pondering! Maybe ask people to talk about the benefits of a testimony?

i think that would be a great idea.

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