What is Family Home Evening

Leaders of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints have instructed members to set aside Monday night as "family home evening." This is a time for families to study the gospel together and to do other activities that strengthen the family spiritually, create family memories, and increase unity and love. To learn more visit this website.

Why Family Home Evening

"I wonder if having unplanned and infrequent family home evenings will be enough to fortify ourselves and our children with sufficient moral strength to meet the complexities of our day. Infrequent family scripture study may be inadequate to arm ourselves and our children with the virtue necessary to withstand the moral decay of the environment in which we live. Where in the world will we learn chastity, integrity, honesty, and basic human decency if not at home? These values will, of course, be reinforced at church, but teaching them in family home evening can be particularly consistent and effective. To combat the world's evil influences, we need the strength that comes from family home evening."

James E. Faust, “Enriching Our Lives through Family Home Evening,” Ensign, Jun 2003, 2–6

Saturday, August 9, 2008

YW Manual 3 Lesson 29

I was having a hard time with this lesson. I hadn't intended to teach it and then it turned out that I was given the opportunity. I had to pray and think a lot.... very tiring.

So, this is the plan. I have created this handout that prints back to back with room for it to be folded into 3 and mailed to those who were unable to attend.

Then, using the Change of Heart Bookmarks printed on cardstock I had the girls (auction style) hold up these during the lesson when they heard of a quality found in someone who has had a change of heart. I started this AFTER I had told the story about the missionary who was taken aback by the change of heart that a convert had made in my lesson layout below. Also, whatever quote is in the above handouts, I had one of the girls read. Finally, I had printed answers to the questions throughout the lesson to place on the board as they were given as visual aids.

Here is the lesson intermingled with an article from the Ensign (Keith K. Hilbig, “Experiencing a Change of Heart,” Ensign, Jun 2008, 29–33).

Lesson 29 – Change of Heart
Read Alma 5:26 (p219)
Read Alma 5:12 (p218)
Read Alma 5:14 (p219) Keep Open for later
Read Alma 7:14 (p225)

Some years ago in Eastern Europe, I listened as a young elder stood before his fellow missionaries in zone conference to share an experience that shaped his life. He and his companion had found and taught a middle-aged man named Ivan (name has been changed) in a distant city. Their investigator came from a difficult background, as was reflected in his well-used clothing, ragged beard, and hesitant demeanor. Life had been harsh and unkind to him.

Without any prior religious training, Ivan had much to overcome. Practices not in harmony with the restored gospel had to be set aside. New principles needed to be accepted and then incorporated. Ivan wanted to learn, and he prepared himself diligently for his baptism and confirmation. His clothing remained threadbare and his beard ragged, but he had taken the first steps. Shortly after Ivan’s baptism, the missionary was transferred. He hoped that he might again cross paths with Ivan.

Six months later the mission president reassigned the young elder to his former branch. Surprised but eager to return, the elder, with a new companion, came early to sacrament meeting his first Sunday back in the branch. The members were pleased to see the missionary in their midst again. They rushed forward with broad smiles and warm greetings.

The elder recognized nearly everyone in the small congregation. However, he searched in vain among the faces for the man he and his companion had taught and baptized six months earlier. There arose within the elder a sense of disappointment and sadness. Had Ivan returned to his harmful habits? Had he failed to honor his covenant of baptism? Had he lost the blessings promised by his repentance?

The elder’s fears and reflections were interrupted by the approach of an unfamiliar man who was rushing forward to embrace the missionary. The clean-shaven man had a confident smile and an obvious goodness radiating from his countenance. Wearing a white shirt and a carefully knotted tie, he was on his way to prepare the sacrament for the small gathering that Sabbath morning. Only when the man began to speak did the elder recognize him. It was the new Ivan, not the former Ivan they had taught and baptized! The elder saw embodied in his friend the miracle of faith, repentance, and forgiveness; he saw the reality of the Atonement.

The missionary told his peers attending the zone conference that Ivan had changed and grown by every measure during the months the elder had been away from the branch. Ivan had embraced the gospel, and it radiated from him. He had experienced a “change of heart” (Alma 5:26) sufficient both to be baptized and to press forward in the continuing process of conversion. He was preparing for the higher priesthood and the ordinances of the temple. Ivan had indeed been “born again” (Alma 7:14).

As the missionary concluded his remarks, he asked himself aloud, “How much of a ‘change of heart’ have I experienced in the past six months?” He continued his self-examination, asking aloud, “Have I been ‘born again’?” These are two profound questions that each of us should privately pose on a continuing basis.

In the intervening years I have reflected upon the words of the young missionary and the actions of Ivan. I have pondered the role that a “mighty change” (Alma 5:12) in our hearts and being “spiritually … born of God” (Alma 5:14) play in the process of embracing the restored gospel. I have concluded that they are clearly an important part of the Lord’s doctrine, not just one-time experiences in mortality. They are ongoing opportunities, intended to deepen the process of conversion and individual personal refinement. They prepare us more fully for eternal life.

What is the intent of a change of heart? Deepen the process of conversion, individual personal refinement, and prepare for eternal life

How often is this suppose to happen? Ongoing (not just one-time experience)

A Change of heart is a change in a person’s entire life – her thoughts, feelings, desires, and actions, everything that the heart represents. She gives her love, dedication, intelligence, and talents to the Lord and wants only to serve the Lord.

Read Mosiah 3:19 (p153)
We know from the standard works that baptism by immersion allows us to become a member of the Church, but that ordinance alone does not constitute the spiritual rebirth that allows us to return to the presence of Heavenly Father. Similarly, as we are confirmed following baptism, we have the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. However, only when we have truly repented—and thus actually receive the Holy Ghost—can we be sanctified and thus be born again spiritually. Hence, Alma’s piercing inquiries are valid for each of us repeatedly throughout life.

The challenges of being born again and experiencing a mighty change of heart are challenges we all must face. The Book of Mormon is a wonderful resource to better understand the process of experiencing a mighty change of heart and of being born again. Its prophets provide a fuller doctrinal declaration of the process.

Read again Alma 5:14.
What are the three questions posed to members of the Church by Alma? Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

(YW READ) Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminds us that “those members of the Church who have actually been born again are in a blessed and favored state. They have attained their position, not merely by joining the Church, but through faith (1 John 5:1), righteousness (1 John 2:29), love (1 John 2:7), and overcoming the world. (1 John 5:4.)”

READ D&C 4:2 (p7) This change is what the Lord was speaking of when he commanded us to serve Him with all our heart, might, mind and strength.

Alma the Younger personally experienced the transformation from being an enemy to God to becoming a new creature, a being who was converted and, therefore, committed to building the kingdom. (YW READ) If all people must be born again and have a change of heart, it matters not if we were born into the Church or were converted later as youth or adults. We all must at some point experience that change of heart and that rebirth of the Spirit as we continue in the process of conversion. The process of rebirth and change of heart is intended to be comprehensive, available to all nations, and, hence, each individual.

Why do you think a person’s heart must be changed in order to become like God? It is a necessary step in becoming like God.

Elder McConkie, speaking at a Brigham Young University First Stake conference, offered these comforting and encouraging words: “With most people, conversion [spiritual rebirth and accompanying remission of sins] is a process; and it goes step by step, degree by degree, level by level, from a lower state to a higher, from grace to grace, until the time that the individual is wholly turned to the cause of righteousness…. this means that [she] overcomes one sin today and another sin tomorrow. [She] perfects [her] life in one field now, and in another field later on. And the conversion process goes on until it is completed, until [she becomes], literally, as the Book of Mormon says, saints of God instead of natural men.”

It matters not whether our spiritual rebirth is sudden or, as is more common, gradual. While the process may be different, the results will be similar. There is no difference in the quality of the conversion. For each individual, experiencing a mighty change of heart is manifested by feelings of joy and love, both of which eliminate the prior pain of disobedience (see Alma 36:20-21). How kind is our Heavenly Father! How encompassing is His Son’s Atonement!

King Benjamin asked the people if they believed his words and if they would trust in the Lord and be faithful all their lives. Let’s read the following scriptures for the answer?

Read Mosiah 5:2 (p157) and 5:5 (p158)

Repentance and obedience to the commandments brings the greatest possible joy in this life.


Melissa said...

Wow, Thanks for sharing! I'm going to incorporate this story into my lesson tomorrow!
Melissa in UT