Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Breakthrough!

Today was a good day...
God answers prayers. Yet there are some that still don't believe, some who don't pray because, they claim to not have had prayers answered. Hannah teaches us how to make prayer effective. 1 Samuel chapter one introduces us to Hannah--an Israelite woman who is unable to have children. She shares her husband Elkanah with another woman--Peninnah, who can have children. She is grieved much because of this and the way she is treated by Peninnah. She turns to prayer. She vows a vow with the Lord that if He will bless her with a child then she will dedicate that son to God. She poured out her soul in prayer. She didn't just pick up the phone and ask for "a large pepporoni, hold the anchioves and it better be here in 20 minutes" type of prayer. Hannah continued praying after her request. And she was true to her word--when a son came she "lent him to the Lord."

Can we make deals with God? It seems like Hannah did, and it worked. I went up to a pair studying these verses in class today to pose this question to them. A big, burly football player that let me know on the first day that he "won't be coming much" and needed to find "someone to goof off with," leaned over, and said, "Yeah!" I quickly refocused. "What do you mean?" "Well, once I made a deal with God," he said. He then briefly recounted the event and I asked him if he'd share it with the class. He said he would. We wrapped up the activity and started discussing this point as a whole class. I explained that Hannah was able to make a "deal" because this was a commandment that God had given, to multiply and replenish the Earth. I then asked this student to share his experience. He spoke, trying to be bold although it was hard for him to say, "I used to chew." He paused, then explained how everywhere he went he was "chewing." Then, he found out that he had cancer. He was scared. "I didn't want to lose my jaw, so I prayed. I was crying and I prayed that if God would take my cancer away, then I would quit chewing forever...It's been five months now, and the cancer is all gone, and I'm never chewing again."

God does answer our prayers, I hope we take time to notice the little things he does, and the miracles that happen all around us.

After class as students were walking out and shaking my hand, a young woman who generally comes in late, talks to other students frequently and hasn't seem largely interested in seminary said, "That was great lesson!" Today was a good day....for more than just Bro. Carter.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hard Things!

I've been facing some hard things these last two weeks. The adjustment back to high school was not as easy as I had hoped. I really just didn't prepare myself for it. Between my first two semesters of student teaching I had an entire summer to get geared up for new classes and a new semester and new students! This time around I had a week and a half. And a week of that I was still teaching my old class. So, that really blind-sided me. And I'm sad to admit it, but I didn't get off to a great start. For me it's been hard! But, I'm not complaining (maybe whining a little here and there). We all have to face hard things.
I asked class today before we got into Ruth to anonymously write on an index card the hardest thing they've been through. The results were shocking. Ranging from personal injuries, to family member's drug addictions, self addictions, feeling alone and worthless, to wanting to commit suicide. These youth, most of which are from 15-18 years old have already experienced some hard things. What do we do when things get so hard? Naomi's reaction to her trials can help us. In chapter one of Ruth we learn that Naomi and her family have to leave their home of Bethlehem because of a famine. They go to Moab where her two sons marry Moabite women; Orpah and Ruth. Then Naomi's husband dies, and then, both of her sons die, leaving a mother-in-law and two daughters-in-law all husbandless. Naomi has heard that the famine has ended in Bethlehem and decides to go back home. So, what's the message for us? Where do we go, what do we do when we're experiencing hard things? The answer is Bethlehem. The word Bethlehem means "The house of bread." In John 6:35 we learn that Christ is the bread of life. So, when you experience hard things, where do you go?
In class we made a good list of student responses. Christ is at the center of nearly all of them: the House of Bread could mean the temple, church, prayer, the scriptures, family, etc. When life is hard, we need to go to Christ.

John 14:18--I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


What is the power of testimony? Friday brought another round of Open Sharing to our little seminary class at Spanish Fork Jr High. The Spirit was strong of testimony, but also of class unity as the semester is nearing its completion. One student shared on Christ and His suffering, and how it really was for each of us. My mind was turned to a scripture in the 45th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. I marked it and thought of how I could use it in the lesson that day in Joshua. I was excited for it, as I knew the Spirit had led me there. I stood up to end open sharing and begin the lesson, but as I did a young woman in the front row with dark brown hair stood up. She started out sharing about hard times that her family has had and how she had been having a really hard time. She then talked of how she, or anyone in her family, had never talked about the death of her cousin. She said that since his death she hadn't really felt that the Church was true. Then the other night she finally talked to her mom about it and her mom said, "Promise me, that you will pray about the Church." Well, she did. She then explained, "I woke up the next morning and was just filled with the Spirit. And I know. I know that the Church is true."
I am certainly glad that I didn't stand up quicker or before she did. I'm also glad that she had the courage to share, because after that, a young man got up and all he could say about how he felt was "Whoa!"

We didn't have a ton of time for the lesson, but we talked about the power of testimony from the example of Rahab from Joshua 2. She had heard of the children of Israel and said to two Israelite spies who had come in to Jericho to scout it out, "I know that the Lord hath given you the land...the Lord your God, he is the God in heaven above, and in earth beneath."

Because of this testimony--what she knew--she took in the spies and protected them. Because of that the spies told her to put a red thread in her window so that her and her family would not be destroyed. When Joshua and the children of Israel come and, according to the Lord's direction, cause the walls of Jericho to fall and "utterly destroy all that was in the city", we learn more about Rahab. Joshua 6:25 reads, "And Joshua saved Rahab..."

Do our testimonies have the power to save us? Even if they are small and simple, can they bring out a result as was seen with Rahab?

The verses from Doctrine & Covenants 45 read,

"Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him--Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;

Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life...and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life." (verses 3-5, 8; empahsis added)

Class was ending and I asked if anyone had learned anything in class today. One student raised her hand and said, "I was reading my scriptures last night and kept seeing the phrase 'Believe in Christ' and was wondering what it meant. Now I know what it means."

I know that our testimonies are powerful, that they can help us overcome whatever we may encounter, and I testify that if we do according to what we know and use our testimonies that they will have the power to save us. Again I ask, what is the power of testimony?