Category Archives: Mormon Church Youth

LDS Youth Temple Challenge

A few months ago, Elder Neal L Andersen challenged the youth to take their own names to the temple (I first heard about this on LDS Media Talk). Right away an official page was setup, and word started to spread. So far over 20,000 people have signed up to accept the challenge.

Our stake hasn’t set a specific goal, but we certainly endorse the challenge. In one ward I was in recently, the youth Sunday School class (only 3 youth) were in the Family History Centre learning how to index. It’s great to see the youth getting involved like that.

Our Youth/Young Single Adults and the sexualized world we live in

Over the last 2 1/2 years I’ve worked with both the Young Single Adults in my stake and the YM in my ward. With my new calling, I have responsibility over Young Single Adults. Over this time, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to ponder on  what can be done to help the 12-30 age groups. On the one hand, that is a huge range, and needs obviously vary depending on the exact age of a person. On the other hand, there is indeed at least one common thing that they all have in common. There is great pressure to accept and experience sexual-related things.

I know that there has been temptation from the beginning. Whenever/wherever there is righteousness, there is going to be opposition. But it seems that one of the great vices of this generation is pornography, and the acceptance of almost any kind of sexual behaviour. I’ve read a couple of articles recently that really made me think. I don’t want to comment too much, but here are the articles along with some selected quotes:

Globe and Mail – Why won’t guys grow up? Sexual economics
Published Saturday, November 10, 2012

In economic terms, our unequal desire for sex means that, in the sexual marketplace, men are the buyers and women are the sellers. Until recently, the price was steep, up to and including a wedding ring and a promise of lifetime commitment. In my parents’ generation, the only way for a 22-year-old guy to have a lot of sex was to get married. Today, plenty of 22-year-olds can get all the sex they want for the cost of a pack of condoms…

The changes in gender politics since the 1960s have been good for both sexes. Women got something they really wanted (access to careers and money) and men got something they really wanted (more sex). But this bargain is having some unexpected consequences. Young men are in no hurry to get married. Why should they be? As my dear old dad used to say when I waltzed out the door in my miniskirt, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” I hated it when he said that. But he’d grasped the central principle of sexual economics…

Dr. Baumeister’s argument is that “men will do whatever is required in order to obtain sex” – and that, historically, society has made them do quite a lot. To qualify as good marriage material, a young man used to have to show he could work hard, compete successfully, commit to family life, be a good provider and gain respect in the community. “The fact that men became useful members of society as a result of their efforts to obtain sex is not trivial,” he says.

But now, young men don’t have to do those things. Sex is readily available. According to Mark Regnerus, another expert on sexual economics, 30 per cent of young men’s sexual relationships today involve no romance at all – no hearts, no flowers, not even “Hey, what’s your name again?”

Toronto Star – Is pornography changing how teens view sex?
Published Monday, Aprril 22, 2013

“You have to ask yourself, what 15-year-old boy thinks there is a girl who wants to have sex with four boys and to what extent he thinks this is expected or normal? And you have to ask, where do they get these ideas from?” said Peter Jaffe, a professor at the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children at Western University. “It’s not from sex education they are getting in school.”

One hypothesis: exposure to pornography. At no other time has pornography — including violent pornography — been so easily accessible for children of all ages. In one U.S. survey, 70 per cent of 15- to 17-year-olds said they had watched porn, while a Canadian study found boys as young as 10 have experienced pornography. By the time they reached 20, the same study found it was almost impossible to find men who hadn’t viewed X-rated material.

Pornography can’t be solely blamed for what appears to be an increase in rape or sexual violence. However, academics, researchers and scientists say there is little doubt that the use of porn among teenagers is having a profound impact on their notions of normal sexual behaviour, their views on women and their ability to even identify what constitutes sexual violence…

Brain scans have also found the teenage brain is dominated by areas associated with pleasure and reward, and emotional response, perhaps explaining the emotional roller-coaster years associated with puberty.

This volatile situation taking place within the teenage brain may make it more susceptible to the lure and long-term effects of pornography, scientists believe…

As for the other side effects of pornography on society, most experts say we will have to wait and see.
“We are running a massive experiment on an entire generation of people,” Jensen said. “We are exposing them to incredible levels of this hypersexualized media with no idea of the effect. Some of what we are seeing now (with these gang-rape cases) is hinting at this.”

I know there are lots of angles from which  this can be looked at, but it seems to me that we have our impressionable youth and young adults growing up in an “anything goes” society. There is evidence that this is leading to problems, but society isn’t doing anything about it. Also, the move to gender equality (which certainly seems to be a good thing in most situations), is possibly leading to less of a need for marriage and monogamy.

I know this is a simplistic summary, but it is the way I see it. It is indeed a scary world out there! The need for parents and leaders to stay close to their children and young adults is greater than it has ever been. I think about this often and pray daily that my children will be protected from these influences.

Youth 2013 Word Search

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The 2013 youth theme is based on D&C 87:8:

Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen.

If you are looking for a word search about the 2013 youth theme, here is one that I created. You can download it in DOCX or PDF formats. In case you are wondering, I made this using a tool at http://www.puzzle-maker.com/ and then made it a little spiffier.

stand in holy places word search

LDS youth excited, ‘anxiously engaged’ in new church curriculum

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First off, let me say that I really don’t mean for this post to be negative. I think the new youth curriculum is a step in the right direction. However, we are still teaching youth, so there are always going to be challenges…

As I’m sure everyone knows by now,  in January of this year the youth (Sunday School classes, Aaronic Priesthood quorum meetings, and YW classes) started using a new curriculum called Come, Follow Me. The old manuals were dated and had stories and analogies that the youth just couldn’t relate to. If you stuck to the material (like some teachers feel you have to do), then the youth weren’t interested. If you chose to go off on your own, that would work, but it was a lot more work. The new material is based on recent talks by General Authorities and a lot of the Mormon Messages for Youth videos. The material is current, and the youth are to be more involved in the lessons.

Recently KSL TV in Salt Lake City had an article and video about how youth are excited about the new curriculum. As I watched the video, I thought to myself, “Yeah, right!” (said with a sarcastic tone). The experience we’ve had around here is not quite like the video is describing. Don’t get me wrong. I love the YM that I work with and my wife loves the YW she works with (she is the YW President), but the youth are far from excited about much Church-related things these days. That to me is the big challenge. Our youth have at most 10 members attending their high school of 1,000 people. They are surrounded by people who swear, look at pornography, drink, are sexually active, and more, and it is hard. I think they ultimately want to do what is right, but they sometimes seem beaten down by the realities of life.

This isn’t to say that I’m giving up. Far from it. But I just wanted to post something in case there are other leaders out there frustrated. Sometimes we hear these glowing stories about how a new program is working miracles, but when we look at our own experiences we haven’t seen the success. I’m confident that as I continue to prepare lessons, treat the YM with respect, and love them, that they will be able to feel the love of God through me. That can only be a good thing!

Our first “social media” General Young Women President?

I’m sure many of you have heard by now that there is a new General Young Women President as of this past weekend’s General Conference. My wife is the Young Women President in our ward, so she took particular interest in this. As I was searching for information about here, I found others who had posted that Bonnie Lee Green Oscarson has a Pinterest page. She shows up as Bonnie Oscarson (only the Church would use her long full name) and her username is mormor20.

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If you visit her Pinterest boards, you’ll see that she has a lot of fun. Just today she posted a picture that shows the new Young Women General Presidency and compares them to the look of the fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty. Very cute!

There are several Young Women in the ward who love Pinterest, so if Sister Oscarson keeps pinning, I’m sure the girls will be quite interested in what she has to say.

As a side note, apparently Karen J Ashton was a member of the General Young Women Board. She is the wife of Alan C Ashton, the WordPerfect creator. He was the Mission President here in the Toronto area from 2004-2007, so I’ve met/seen her and heard her speak in person. She is excellent. I wonder if she’ll still be on the board when it is called again.

UPDATE: The paragraph above about Karen J Ashton originally said that she is a member. The page I linked to may get updated at some point, but at the time of this writing it is showing the former board members.

Youth Chosen Topic – Word of Wisdom

Yesterday was a 5th Sunday. In most wards this means that all of the MP/RS are together. Lately our youth have been included, not because the topics are particularly relevant, but just because. This is my first 5th Sunday since becoming the YM President, so my wife (she’s the YW President) and I decided to have the youth together on their own. Our presidencies had surveyed the youth over the previous few weeks about challenges that youth face. The overwhelming choice was Word of Wisdom, so we decided to spend our time discussing that. It was a tough choice to go with since it was Easter Sunday, but since they chose it, we went with it.

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One of our YW conducted, a YM played the piano, and we sang Called To Serve. I then did a bit of an intro and another leader then led a discussion about how the Word of Wisdom affects them and coming up with strategies to help them.

Here are my notes for the intro:

  • The Word of Wisdom was NOT given by way of commandment
  • It is a principle with a promise
  • Similar to Prohibition in the 1920’s, there was a temperence movement in the US around Joseph Smith’s time and it is likely that some early church members (or at least their families) were participants
  • There is also a suggestion that Emma Smith didn’t think that the men who attended the School of the Prophets should be chewing tobacco
  • Possibly affected by these circumstances, Joseph Smith prayed about this and received a revelation
  • It was affirmed by many leaders over the years, but wasn’t really a commandment
  • After arriving in the Salt Lake valley, the members committed to live it, but still didn’t follow through
  • During the following years they were persecuted because of polygamy, and had other focuses
  • In the 1890s apparently James E Talmage (the author of Jesus the Christ) had some sort of anxiety (“nerves”) problem and his doctor suggested he smoke to calm his nerves. The First Presidency said he could.
  • By around the turn of the century as polygamy was less of an issue the Word of Wisdom became more prominent, particularly during Joseph F Smith‘s time as President of the Church
  • In 1906 the church officially started using water instead of wine in the Sacrament
  • In 1915 church leaders were instructed not to ordain men to the priesthood or give temple recommends to people who didn’t follow the Word of Wisdom
  • In 1933 the Church Handbook of Instructions listed it as a requirement

I then spoke for just a few more minutes about some a few reasons why we follow the Word of Wisdom. I generally tried to “defend” against some of the arguments that might be out there against the Word of Wisdom.

  • Some people might say that they used to drink in the bible.
    There are all sorts of things that were done before that we don’t do now
  • Some people might say that having to follow the Word of Wisdom takes away their freedom
    I believe it gives us freedom. We are free from addiction, guilt and the consequences that come from not following this principle. My wife shared a story about a friend of hers who as a teenager got drunk at a party and ended up having a baby. The girl gave the baby up for adoption and stayed active in the church. In the later years she wanted to serve a mission but couldn’t. She had no idea. There are obviously more details of this story, but the point was that there are consequences to our actions and we don’t always know what those consequences are or how they will manifest themselves
  • It wasn’t given as a commandment
    This may be true, but it has essentially become a commandment. Many of our modern-day prophets have told us to follow it. We need to be faithful and try following it so we can realize the promises

The last point I tried to make was about how it gives us an identity. God’s covenant people have always had certain characteristics or observances that identified them as such. What did circumcision have to do with whether or not the people of Israel followed the Lord? Not much (that I can think of), but that gave them an identity and set them apart from others. The same could be said about certain clothing, Sabbath Day observance, and so on. Polygamy used to be our identity, and as it wound down, observance of the Word of Wisdom geared up. Now we are known around the world for it.

I took about 10 minutes and then the other leader took about 20 minutes to discuss other Word of Wisdom related things with them. The meeting definitely could have been better (it’s hard getting teenagers to be engaged and contribute), but overall it wasn’t bad. Some good points were made, and you could tell that some of them were definitely listening.

“Positive Messages in Movies” Youth Fireside

20130217 Youth FiresideSo, now that I am the YM President, that means I have to come up with interesting/entertaining ways to teach the youth. As you can imagine, this is not always an easy task!

I did a fireside with the youth back when I was bishop and it has been long enough that I figured none of the youth were in the youth program at that time, so I went ahead and did the same sort of thing again. For the fireside I showed clips from some movies and asked the youth to think about a gospel principle or scripture that would relate to the movie. It seemed like a good way to talk about a few different gospel themes, and to have fun. I think it went well.

Here are my notes from the fireside. If you wanted to do something like this, you can find lots of movie clips on YouTube.


Introduction

Have a youth read pg 11 “Entertainment and Media” from For the Strength of Youth.

Satan uses media to deceive you by making what is wrong and evil look normal, humorous, or exciting. He tries to mislead you into thinking that breaking God’s commandments is acceptable and has no negative consequences for you or others. Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable. Have the courage to walk out of a movie, change your music, or turn off a computer, television, or mobile device if what you see or hear drives away the Spirit.

How can you decide what movies are appropriate?

Read Moroni 7: 12

Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

The thought is expanded in Moroni 7: 13

But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

Why does it lead to do goo? Because of the Holy Spirit that accompanies it. Read D&C 11: 12

And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.

So, the media we watch/listen to needs to motivate us to do good, to be better.

I’m not saying that these movies are the best and are of God. I’m just highlighting a small clip. Only you and your family can decide what is appropriate.

The Movies

  1. Star Wars Episode 1 (YouTube clip) – 8 s
    Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering

    1. 2 Nephi 2: 25 –  25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
    2.  1 John 4: 8 – He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
    3.  2 Timothy 1: 7 – For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
  2. The Lion King (1:03:34-1:05:10) – 1 m 35 s
    He lives in you;  remember who you are

    1. Genesis 1: 27 – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
    2. 1 John 3: 2 – Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
  3. Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix (YouTube clip) – 21 s
    Sirius says to Harry “we’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

    1. Mosiah 3: 19 – For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
    2. 2 Nephi 2: 11 – For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
    3. 2 Nephi 2: 27 – Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
  4. Kung-Fu Panda (0:30:36-0:31:12) – 36 s
    Master Oogway  says today is a gift that it is why it’s called the present

    1. Mark 1: 15 – And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
    2. Alma 34:32 – For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
    3. Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven
  5. Spider-Man (YouTube clip, 01:00-1:33) – 33 s
    with great power comes great responsibility

    1. Luke 12: 48 – But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
    2. D&C 82: 3 – For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.
  6. Aladdin (YouTube clip) – 1 m 14 s
    just bee yourself

    1. John 8: 32 – And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
    2. 1 Samuel 16: 7 – But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
  7. Batman Forever (0:19:25-0:19:39) – 14 s
    Caffeine’ll kill ya

    1. D&C 89: 9 – And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.
  8. Finding Nemo (0:13:15-0:16:08) – 2 m 53 s
    Nemo hates father, touches boat (butt), gets captured. Marlin will do anything to save him
    NOTE: The YM thought the “butt” part was relevant (don’t touch the butt) 🙂

    1. D&C 18: 10 – Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
    2. Exodus 20: 12 – Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
    3. Luke 15: 4 – What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
    4. Luke 15: 32 – It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
  9. Harry Potter: The Half-Blood Prince (0:30:51-0:31:55) – 1 m 2 s
    The dark sides greatest weapon is you

    1. Joshua 24: 15 – And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
    2. Matthew 6: 24 – No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.
    3. Luke 22: 31 – And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat
  10. Finding Nemo (0:32:00-0:32:39) – 39 s
    Just keep swimming (persevere, endure)

    1. Matthew 24: 13 – But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
    2. 2 Nephi 31: 20 – Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
  11. Wreck-It Ralph (1:31:00-1:33:03) – 2 m 3 s
    be happy/thankful with who you are as there are benefits you might not expect

    1. 2 Nephi 32: 5 – For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
    2. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice evermore.
      Pray without ceasing.
      In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
    3. D&C 78: 19 – And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.
  12. The Dark Knight Rises (2:29:08-2:29:44) – 36 s
    Just before Batman takes the nuclear bomb away, he tells Commissioner Gordon that a hero can be anyone, including people who do simple things

    1. Alma 37: 6 – Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
    2. 1 Timothy 1: 4 – Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
      (BD says “The reference is probably to exaggerated stories of the heroes and patriarchs of early Hebrew history”)
  13. Tarzan (1:17:00-1:17:50) – 50 s
    Kerchak is about to die. He apologizes to Tarzan

    1. D&C 64: 10 – I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.
    2. Alma 4: 19 – And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.
    3. D&C 54: 2 – Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, my servant Newel Knight, you shall stand fast in the office whereunto I have appointed you.
  14. Batman Begins (YouTube clip, 0:00-2:31) – 2 m 31 s
    always mind your surroundings; sacrificed sure footing for a killing stroke

    1. 1 Samuel 15: 22 – And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
    2. D&C 87: 8 – Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen.

I saved this one for the end, not because it is the best one, but because it kind of is related to this year’s theme. We had a mutual activity where we talked about what it meant to be on firm ground, how to stand properly, and the importance of good footing. We need to make sure that we are not sacrificing our sure footing for something that will put us in danger.

“Not necessarily in that order”

This is an advertisement for a current movie that I saw at the mall the other day. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m appalled by the little slogan. I know it is trying to be a nice little romantic movie, but the advertising really bothers me. Not necessarily in that order?? Yes, definitely in that order!!

This is just a small example, but it is still an example of the world that our youth are growing up in. In the eyes of many, this is perfectly acceptable. No wonder it is such a challenge to get the youth to understand and live by the standards in For the Strength of Youth. I guess we have to work that much harder!

Baptisms for the Dead

I know there has been some discussion on various Mormon blogs recently about baptisms for the dead, and how other church’s perceive the practice. I’m not interested in debating that right now, but I figured I’d just share a little about our most recent trip.

My ward is about 120km away from the Toronto Ontario Temple. We try to take the youth there 4 times a year. Last Thursday night was our first trip of 2009. Overall we had 43 people from the ward there that night (I think we had at least two other people there earlier in the day).

  • 16 youth (12 YM, 4 YW)
  • 1 YSA
  • 8 men on “team” (2 bishopric, 2 YM leaders, 1 EQ presidency, 1 ward clerk, 1 WML, 1 seminary teacher)
  • 3 YW leaders
  • 5 members of the ward serving/working
  • 10 other ward members doing some form of temple work

All of the baptisms that were done were family file. The couple “running” the baptistry that night said it was the first time during their time of service (I’m not sure how long that has been) that every baptism was family file. Apparently there were over 250 baptisms and confirmations done.

After going to the temple, the tradition used to be that we’d all end up going to some fast food joint (usually McDonald’s) and get something to eat. A couple of years ago one of my counselors suggested that we use the cafeteria at the temple and bring our own “treats”, so that we can stay together and still feel the spirit of the temple. It has worked out great. It obviously is less expensive than having 20 extra value meals purchased by the members. The ward foots the bill for the food now which is always less than $50 for all of us. The treats are healthier. We usually get away earlier than we would if we had to pack up, drive to a restaurant, and pack up and leave again. But like I said, the best part is we are still in the temple.

The youth love going to the temple. It’s great to see. Hopefully we keep having positive experiences with them so they are strengthened, and have that desire to return often.