The Mechanics of Priesthood Blessings

September 21, 2013    By: DavidF @ 8:08 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices,Personal Revelation,PH/RS Lessons

The first priesthood blessing I gave terrified me.  How does one, exactly, pull inspiration out of the air and give a blessing?  No one ever described this to me; they just said it’ll happen.  But I had no idea of how the words would come to me.

We can divide priesthood blessings into two components: the procedure, and the mechanics.  We’re really good at discussing blessing procedure; that is, the steps to giving a proper blessing.  But how does one pick the words they use?  That’s the mechanics.

Below are some of my observations on priesthood mechanics, including an explanation of how I seek out inspiration in a blessing.

Do the Words Matter?

Firstly, do the words even matter in a blessing?  Elder Oaks pointed out that in healing blessings, the recipients faith and God’s will, not the verbiage used, determine the outcome.  So why should we fret about what to say?  The words serve at least two functions in a blessing.  First, when the priesthood holder echoes God’s will, the words enliven the spiritual environment where the blessing is given.  I think that this can give the recipient confidence in God’s power to heal.  Second, inspired words can help the recipient receive personal revelation.

How I intend to teach George Albert’s Smith’s mental illness.

January 6, 2012    By: Matt W. @ 11:34 am   Category: PH/RS Lessons

If it’s in italics, George said it. If it’s in bold, it’s from the Manual. If it’s underlined, it’s from Mary Woodger’s JMH article. Otherwise, it’s annotated or my own notes…

In preparing for this lesson, I have thought long and hard about the material within, and today I would like to focus not just on what President Smith said about living what we believe, but also on how he lived what he believed.

[An] observer wrote of George Albert Smith: “His religion is not doctrine in cold storage. It is not theory. It means more to him than a beautiful plan to be admired. It is more than a philosophy of life. To one of his practical turn of mind, religion is the spirit in which a man lives, in which he does things, if it be only to say a kind word or give a cup of cold water. His religion must find expression in deeds. It must carry over into the details of daily life.”

George Albert Smith is well known throughout the church for his religious conviction and for his compassion and careful shepherding of the world after WW1 as an apostle and after WW2 as President of the Church. But did you know he was nearly blind?

When he was 18, he found work with a railway surveying party. While working this job, the glare from the sun on the desert sands damaged his eyes. This left George Albert’s vision permanently impaired, making it difficult for him to read and causing him discomfort throughout his life.

George’s eyesight, for most of his life was so bad that he needed to have others write for him and read to him, because it gave him terrible headaches to try and focus and read. This in a time and place where there was limited technology, and so his responsibilities perpetually required reading and writing. None would have blamed Smith if he had given up. Yet Smith’s own conviction which he preached was that: (more…)

Church History Help- Eternal Marriage and Adoption

August 13, 2011    By: Matt W. @ 8:26 am   Category: PH/RS Lessons

Tomorrow, I am teaching Elder’s Quorum lesson #38 “Eternal Families”- and have decided, after reading Jonathan Stapley’s incredible article this week, to review the history thereof. Sadly, I don’t have Sam Brown’s accompanying article, so am relying on Gordon Irving’s earlier work for that piece of it.

Anyway, here is my simple timeline for my lesson (emphasis on my trying to keep it simple). Can anyone with access to Sam’s article, or with direct knowledge, help me out and make sure I don’t have any outdated concepts in my history. (like no adoptions before 1845 or the role of the concept of polygamy)

Gospel Principles Lesson 33: Missionary Work

May 9, 2011    By: Matt W. @ 9:50 pm   Category: PH/RS Lessons

Here is the lesson I prepared this month on Missionary Work. We are a bit behind other wards, due to Stake Conference and an odd repeating of one lesson twice last year.

Missionary Work

I am actually teaching this next Sunday, and it feels a little long and disjointed to me. Any feedback would be appreciated.

A Sincere Question on Priesthood Keys

April 21, 2011    By: Matt W. @ 8:53 pm   Category: PH/RS Lessons

I am teaching Elder’s Quorum this Sunday, and have been asked to teach on Elder Oak’s “Two Lines of Communication”. In getting ready, I thought I would take Natalie B.’s advice and search out the priesthood line more deeply. (This admonishment, after all, dovetails nicely into Elder Uchtdorf’s encouragement in conference to learn more, which my past few posts have been on.)

Anyway, according the “Handbook 2: Administerng in the Church” section 2.1.1:

“Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to Priesthood leaders to direct, control and Govern the use of his priesthood on earth.” It is “the right to preside over and direct the Church within a jurisdiction.”
Jesus Christ holds all the keys and confers them to his Apostles on the earth. The President “is the only person on earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys.”

The president of the Church delegates priesthood keys to other priesthood leaders. For their designated responsibilities, and in their jurisdiction, they become the “presiding authority”

Counselors do not receive priesthood keys, the function by “delegated authority”. Auxiliary presidents do not receive keys. They receive “delegated authority”.

If Priesthood keys are “authority” to perform “designated responsibilities” that are “delegated” to them, what is the difference between priesthood keys and the “delegated authority” that Auxiliary presidents and Counselors have?

Is this a distinction without a difference? If not, what is the difference?

Gospel Principles 26: Sacrifice

February 12, 2011    By: Matt W. @ 11:54 pm   Category: PH/RS Lessons

Today at 1:30, I’ll be teaching this in Elder’s Quorum. Last week, Elder Ballard taught us in Regional Conference to not “over complicate” the Gospel. I’m trying.

Defining Sacrifice in LDS theology

Sacrifice can and has meant a variety of different things. The definition I like the best in the context of LDS theology comes from our concise little manual “True to the Faith” published in 2004. It says, “To sacrifice is to give up something valuable or precious, often with the intent of accomplishing a greater purpose or goal”. In a way, this definition is very similar to the use of the term in the game of Chess, where the pawn may sacrifice itself for the benefit of the entirety of the team. The pawn is killed for a greater purpose, but does not necessarily receive any direct benefit for itself. I sometimes hear people say sacrifice is giving up something good now for something better later. Thus we end up with sacrifice sounding like investing in a 401k plan. This doesn’t ring true to me. While it may be true that we give something up for something of higher value, the “something of higher value” may not directly have benefit for ourselves, and does not necessitate that benefit. The manual asks, “Why is it important to sacrifice as the Lord asks without expecting anything in return?” I think it is because the greater purpose or goal we are to give up is greater than ourselves. It is the glory of God and all mankind. Anyway, I think this concept of sacrifice as giving up for a greater good is useful as we think about religious sacrifice before Christ, of Christ, and in our lives as Christians.

EQ lesson for this Sunday: Baptism/Mikvah

November 12, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 10:53 pm   Category: PH/RS Lessons

So my current calling is to teach Elder’s Quorum once a month. It’s been about 8 years since I’ve taught the Gospel to adults, so I am feeling a bit rusty. I’ve taught 3 times now, and I haven’t quite found my rhythm. Anyway, I am posting my notes here in hopes that some of you brilliant folks here can come by and give me some pointers on what I can do to make this lesson better. I have decided not to do a power point, but to just go through the lesson material on the board, if I feel like I need to use a visual aide. My biggest challenge in teaching these lessons has been that I have two gentlemen with disabilities who wander radically off topic that I don’t know how to handle, so any tips for dealing with people with Schizoaffective Disorder and/or Autism/Aspergers would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday Questions #5: Apostasy

September 5, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 1:19 am   Category: PH/RS Lessons

So I’m expanding from history a bit this week.

Is anyone aware of any writings where LDS theologians/authorities/thinkers have addressed any of the following questions?

1. Why would God allow an apostasy to happen?

2. Why would God put Christ on Earth only to follow up with 1800 years of apostasy?

3. Why couldn’t the apostasy happen again?

I was called as Elder’s Quorum Instructor last Sunday, and will be teaching next Sunday on the early church (Here’s my lesson outline) and would love to read up on any literature around these questions in the meantime.

Only a Lad

November 27, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 9:16 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices,PH/RS Lessons,Scriptures,Theology

Johnny was bad, even as a child, everybody could tell…

– Opening line to Only a Lad by Oingo Boingo

I gave the priesthood lesson today in my ward. It was based on President Hinckley’s recent talk on forgiveness. You remember the story he related about the generous woman that was so forgiving to the young man that had foolishly and carelessly heaved a frozen turkey through her windshield and disfigured her face in the process. It is a touching story of repentance and forgiveness – I highly recommend it. (more…)