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Have you ever heard of sea squirts? I recently became acquainted with these little creatures while reading the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey. Basically, a Sea Squirt is a small mollusk-like sea animal that swims around freely early in life, and as it matures it finds a place to attach, like a barnacle, to coral or on the bottom of boats and the like. No longer needing to explore anymore it makes an energy saving move and absorbs it’s own brain. Yes, you read that correctly. It doesn’t need it anymore. The sea squirt’s life has become completely passive and inactive. There is no need for an organ that takes up energy and has no purpose. It is the ultimate example of the “use it or lose it” ideology. For the rest of it’s life, it looks and ‘acts’ like a plant.
The book Spark and an article entitled “Don’t Be A Sea Squirt”, by Tom Morgan, a lifestyle coach at www.personalbestnyc.com , relates this creature’s habit to our brains and exercise. Our brains seem to have results similar to exercise or the lack thereof. “It’s a feature of complex adaptive systems [which we are] that a stable system is a precursor to a dead system. Something that runs the same routine day-after-day is typically a dying system.” Putting it simply, this means we need to physically participate in life in new and different ways or we slowly die mentally. There is a whole science to this thought process that you can look into if you want, but the basic takeaway is that we can’t expect to stay vibrant and continue to grow if we do the same things day after day after day.
As I pondered these ideas, I thought what a great blessing the Come, Follow Me program has been for all of us. It is a new way of doing things and as such keeps us from becoming spiritual Sea Squirts. And nobody wants to become like that! Even if we have good spiritual habits, if we don’t have some challenges, change things up now and then, we will stagnate and stop progressing. We will begin to drift along. It is an interesting thought.
Presently I am an early morning seminary teacher, and my local Church Education System (CES) director continually encourages us to help our students to get the gospel principles into their heads, hearts and then into their feet. What he means by this is for them to reflect on what they learn, (in their heads), consider what they felt, (in their hearts), and then decide what they will do about it when they leave the class (in their feet). Mind, heart and feet. It is a process to put into action the principles and doctrines learned from the scriptures.
A person can know something and even feel deeply about it, but unless they actually do something about it, it will make no difference to them or to anyone else. It is ACTION that gives us the power to change into something better than what we are today: action and challenges that help us to grow and develop towards becoming celestial beings.
These thoughts add to how I look at 2 Nephi 2: 27 where it says: And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life or to choose captivity and death. Liberty to act, change and continue with life or captivity to inaction and passiveness, spiritually brain-dead like a Sea Squirt. It is our choice. A choice we make every time we study the scriptures or attend our Sacrament meetings. We don’t want to be spiritual Sea Squirts. We don’t want to become complacent, or stagnant. We don’t want to be so set in our ways that we are afraid or unable to try new things, new ways to study or new methods of discovery. The Come, Follow Me program is a fight against Sea Squirtiness (I just made that word up). And I, for one, am grateful for the challenge.
Last week our family gathered for a mini family reunion with my husband’s side of the family. We had a cookout and played in a pool. There was a lot of conversation and laughter. At one point one young cousin was kneeling on a raft shouting for the people hanging around to come out and join him in the deep end of the pool. Another young cousin jumped up on my son’s shoulders in the pool–my son is 6’7”. My son proceeded to walk slowly from the shallow end to the deep end all while his cousin stood on him. Soon my son was under the water and it looked like our cousin was floating in the water. Suddenly, the boy on the raft yelled: “ Hey! You look like Peter or Jesus when they walked on water! That is so cool!”
I chuckled to myself as I thought –’well, that is the Come, Follow Me study in action folks.’ Loved it! It’s definitely in their heads.
Our family studies are falling into a pattern of sorts. We still are not perfect at doing it every day. But we are reading it together and sharing our thoughts and questions. I think this month I will try the mind, heart and feet activity for one of our chapter readings, just to switch things up, keep things vibrant.
Use one or more of these ideas for lesson enrichment.
—Head-Heart-Feet using sticky notes: A very simple way of using this idea is to have people individually write their thoughts on small slips of paper or sticky notes. Start out by drawing an outline of a person on a large piece of paper, or on a white board, exaggerate the head, the heart, and the feet in the drawing. Hand out three slips of paper or sticky notes to everyone. On the first paper ask them to write down the major things they learned from the readings, or an activity you have done. On the second, they write what they have felt during the discussion. And on the third paper, they should write some action they can take to incorporate the ideas and principles they have learned. When they’re done, have them put their slips of paper on the appropriate place on the drawn person (head, heart, feet). Then have a discussion about everyone’s thoughts and make a note of key themes and ideas. It is important for everyone to have some action they can do to make a principle a part of their life.
–Support Articles and Activities for this week’s readings can be found at:
*1 Corinthians 8:1: Knowledge can cause us to become intolerant of those without the same knowledge.
–Have you seen examples of this? Are there attitudes or actions you do that might be a stumbling block for others? Make a list and choose one to work on overcoming.
”Pay attention to how your behavior is interpreted, not for the sake of your reputation, but for the sake of the other person’s spiritual development. Remember to build up with love, rather than puff up with your knowledge about what you are free to do. And keep in mind that building up the other person will involve helping them understand their secure position in the all-sufficient Christ.” (James Jackson, LifeWay: My way or the HIghway? Sermon published January 1, 2014)
*Chapter 10: Christ is the God of Israel and the spiritual Rock, but ancient Israel rebelled against him.
–Verses 6 & 11: “Now these things were our examples . . .these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition. . . “ This verse addresses how the Isrealites failed to follow their ‘Rock’, Jesus Christ in the wilderness. How did Israel fail in the wilderness and rebel against God? What can we learn from their examples? Make a list. How is Christ like a rock in your life?
–Verses 10-13: “Paul’s warning stands: ‘If it happened to Israel, it can happen to you. Be on guard.’ Temptation works like rocks in a harbor; when the tide is low, everybody sees the danger and avoids it. But Satan’s strategy in temptation is to raise the tide, and to cover over the dangers of temptation. Then he likes to crash you upon the covered rocks.
So, like a mom who keeps her child from the candy aisle in a store, knowing the child couldn’t handle that temptation, God keeps us from things we can’t handle. But what we can and can’t handle changes over the years!” (David Guzik, Israel Then and Now).
How have you seen your ability to handle temptation change over the years? What advice would you give to someone younger than yourself about how to handle the temptations of life? Share your ideas with your children or grandchildren, or write them in your journal.
–For an interesting read and different point of view on 1 Corinthians 10; check out this article by David Guzik. Idolatry Then and Now obtained from Blue Letter Bible, published August 9, 2019.
–Verse 14: ‘Flee from Idolatry’. What is idolatry? What idols are you tempted with?
John Piper shares his thoughts about what an idol is from desiringGod.org: What is Idolatry? August 19, 2014. “What is an idol? It is the thing loved or the person loved more than God, wanted more than God, desired more than God, treasured more than God, enjoyed more than God. It could be a girlfriend. It could be good grades. It could be the approval of other people. It could be success in business. It could be sexual stimulation. It could be a hobby or a musical group that you are following or a sport or your immaculate yard. Or your own looks could be an idol. It could be anything.”
–For more information on Idolatry; click here to view biblestudytools.com for an evangelical dictionary posting describing some practices and beliefs of the Old and New Testaments.
*Chapter 11: 3-10 Paul shares customs of grooming. Here is an interesting article about hair length for men and women in the bible obtained August 9, 2019 from Messianicjews.com.
–The word sacrament was used by Roman soldiers as they took an oath of allegiance to their emperor. Early Christians considered baptism to be an “oath of allegiance” unto Jesus Christ. How can you use this idea to increase your worship during the sacrament?
–10:16 The footnote for communion in this verse defines it as aid,fellowship or partnership. When you partake of the sacrament each week, do you find aid, fellowship or partnership with Christ? What can you do to increase these feelings within your heart? Take some time to ponder this idea. What will you do differently in the future? Write your goal and post it somewhere you will see it often.
–11: 28 During the sacrament one should examine himself. Elder William R. Bradford in General Conference, April 1992 shared some ideas that can help us to do this. His talk is entitled Unclutter Your Life.
—Sacrament as defined by Britannica.com describes the word’s origin and connotation.
Among other things it is “the visible form of an invisible grace, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” It is made efficacious by virtue of its divine institution by Christ in order to establish a bond of union between God and man. How are you building that bond each week?
–”There are two sacraments in the Old Testament of the Bible, and there are two sacraments in the New Testament of the Bible.
The two Old Testament sacraments are circumcision and the Passover meal. The sacrament of circumcision signified entrance into the covenant community of God’s people. And the sacrament of the Passover meal signified fellowship (or communion) within the covenant community of God’s people.
The two Old Testament sacraments of circumcision and the Passover meal were replaced by the New Testament sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The sacrament of circumcision was replaced by the sacrament of baptism, which also signifies entrance into the covenant community of God’s people. And the sacrament of the Passover meal was replaced by the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, which also signifies fellowship (or communion) within the covenant community of God’s people.” Obtained from sermoncentral.com August 9, 2019.
Discuss your thoughts about this quote and your feelings about the sacrament.
–The congregations of the Church are compared to a body. Every part is different and necessary for the body to function at full capacity. Likewise, every individual is needed–all have different gifts and contribute in individual ways. How do you contribute? What can you do to increase your contributions? When a part of your body is sore, you begin to appreciate it more and realize how much you need it. How many parts of the body of your ward or branch are sore or missing? What can you do to include them?
–For young children: The Kids of Integrity website shares tools for growing Godly character. The Communication Capers and Body Blunders page has a number of games to teach the idea that God gives everyone different gifts and abilities and no one person is more important than the next. Pick one or more games to play and discuss this idea afterwards.
—Danielle’s Place has some fun crafts for young children that go well with this week’s readings.
*Chapter 13: Charity exceeds all other qualities.
–Do a scripture study of each attribute of charity
–Pray for charity
–Why do you think charity never faileth?
–Overview of 1 Corinthians from The Bible Project published on October 15, 2015
–The Mormon Channel presents: Sacrament– a video where children define what the sacrament is and how it blesses us.