A Prophet’s Call and Apostles’ Answer

Hello dear friends!

It’s lovely to write again. I miss it. My life has taken some amazing new turns over the past few months. I still have some videos that I created in the Isaiah in the Book of Mormon Series that I haven’t posted and more planned that I haven’t filmed. I know excuses are weak, but here it is – I shifted from part-time work, to full-time work. We also moved and my husband had knee surgery. It just seems that when it rains it pours! And yet, I keep feeling a desire, yearning, and yes, prompting to continue writing. So I’ve stolen a moment to catch up.

Now I teach religion at BYU-Idaho (as a three-year visiting professor). It is heavenly! I love the strength and faith of the students and the support of the college. And, as I prepared for one of my classes tomorrow, I put together a video, which got me thinking of this blog and finding a way to steal a precious moment.

Tomorrow we are discussing the Power of the Book of Mormon in the conversion process for my Mission Prep (REL 130) class. I was profoundly touched and humbled this conference with the example of two apostles to head the Prophet’s call, and this video and lesson stem from that. I admit to not studying the Book of Mormon as I should at times. Though, in the last few months of teaching I have been struck by the clarity of the gospel message as taught through that Book. I am going to make a more serious study of it and request to teach it in the coming years. Funnily enough, it is the only book of scripture that I have only taught once. Twice the New Testament and Doctrine & Covenants, and three times the Old Testament.

Anyway, I invite you to share your thoughts (either publicly, or in your own personal journals) on different ways that you have studied the Book of Mormon (President Nelson gave some wonderful ideas) and goals for studying it in the future. Remember that the Lord will consecrate our efforts to study, even when we can only give “stolen moments”. For example, I laugh with other women as we talk about reading or praying on the toilet because when your house and life are packed, that’s about all you can give! I know that the Lord appreciates any gifts of righteousness, and there are seasons – the ability to study more (because of time) will come, and when it does, if you are already in the habit, it will be even better!

 

Symbols of the House of Israel in Scripture

Hi everyone! In order to prepare us for studying our next chapter (1 Nephi 21) in the Isaiah in the Book of Mormon series, we need to understand some symbols. This is a quick little video to help introduce those.

Enjoy!

 

Oh, and I hope that you are looking forward to General Conference April 2017 this weekend as much as I am. Click on the link above to find out how to watch it. 🙂 So exciting!!!

Thank you so much for watching and sharing!


Pictures used in this video: 

 

 

Family Scripture Study Idea: Seminary Reading

It’s that time of year again, we’re getting close to the end of third term and the end of the school year is in sight. About now, there are several students that are finding out that they can’t pass seminary without reading the book of scripture that they have been studying, and they are running out of time! Of course, there are those kids who do the reading on their own (which is phenomenal and should be encouraged!) however, there are some that may need a little help. For those in that position (or for anyone who could use it) this idea is for you – to add that encouragement and help, while still doing your family Book of Mormon reading.

Topics that are found in this video:

Scripture verses that we use in the video:

Ezekiel 37:15-17

Talks for further study:

The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion, President Ezra Taft Benson, October 1986

Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon, President Ezra Taft Benson, October 1988

A Reservoir of Living Water  Elder David A. Bednar, BYU Speeches, February 2007

The Blessing of Scripture, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, April 2010

 

 

Why is Israel still called to the work? 1 Nephi 20: 3-13

This is Part 2 of the Isaiah in the Book of Mormon Series. Sometimes we wonder why in the world the Lord would still work with disobedient Israel. Sometimes we wonder why in the world our Heavenly Father would still work with us. Let’s take a moment and explore some of those ideas.

Topics that are found in this video:

  • The kind of people that Ancient Israel tended to be.
  • Showing respect for the commandments.
  • Why does the Lord still work with obstinate Israel?
  • God is keeping His word to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.
  • God can fix broken things.
  • Remembering who God is and what is our relationship to Him.

Scripture verses that we use in the Video:

Media References (special thanks to):

  • LDS Media Library
    • The Ark Passes over the Jordan, by James Tissot
    • Moses Reading the Book of the Covenant at Mount Sinai, by Clark Kelley Price
    • Moses Calls Aaron to the Ministry, by Harry Anderson
    • Abraham and Isaac, by William Whitaker
    • Abraham Taking Isaac to Be Sacrificed, by Del Parson
    • Israel Blesses Ephraim with the Birthright, D. Keith Larson
    • Solomon’s Temple, by Sam Lawlor
  • LDS scripture maps
  • Morguefile.com
    • Iron Bars, by Erean
    • Furnace, by Erdene Bayar
    • Rusty Iron, by Quicksandala
    • Eiffel Tower, by Denna

Who is the House of Israel? 1 Nephi20:1-2

Sometimes we skip over Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, because let’s face it, reading Isaiah with all of his poetic language, imagery, and symbols can be a little overwhelming! I’ve decided to create a little video series that can help facilitate your learning. We begin with 1 Nephi 20, the first place in the Book of Mormon in which Nephi quotes Isaiah from the brass plates. We’re going slowly on this first video, only covering two verses as we begin to unlock why Nephi quoted Isaiah and why the Lord commanded us to study Isaiah’s words, he said –

 And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah. 3 Nephi 23:1

 

My hope is that this will be a helpful tool for you. I truly believe that it is important for us as disciples of Christ to understand the scriptures. President Monson stated –

“Participate in daily scripture study. Crash courses are not nearly so effective as the day-to-day reading and application of the scriptures in our lives. Become acquainted with the lessons the scriptures teach. … Study them as though they were speaking to you, for such is the truth.”  President Thomas S. Monson  Be Your Best Self, April 2009

So grab your scriptures, journal, and a pen or pencil and enjoy!

Oh, and just a note, I feel that prayers are so very sacred that I didn’t want to film it. I said a prayer off camera before. I invite you to pray before you watch and study with the video, so that you will learn the message that the Lord has for you. 


Topics that are found in this video:

  • Jacob, Joseph, Asenath, Manasseh, and Ephraim,
  • House of Israel
  • Zion

Scripture verses that we use in the Video:

Pictures were taken from:

  • LDS Media Library
  • Israel Blesses Ephraim with the Birthright, D. Keith Larson
  • Enoch and His People Are Taken Up to God (City of Zion Translated or City of Zion Is Taken Up), by Del Parson

 

And Great Shall Be the Peace of Your Children

And Great Shall Be the Peace of Your Children

In the fall, I gave a talk in Stake Conference on teaching children, (especially young children) how to study the scriptures. 

 

Rose Park North Stake Conference, October 17, 2015

Laryssa Waldron

Good morning brothers and sisters. What a sacred privilege and honor it is for me to be with you for a few minutes today.

At the end of the Book of Mormon, father and son, Mormon and Moroni witness the decline and almost entire annihilation of their race. There are some gruesome scenes of terror, violence, and man’s inhumanity to man that they face and yet the two of them stay firm in the faith of Jesus Christ. Moroni tells us that “their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ.” And then he boldly states, “And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ” (Moroni 1: 2-3).

How were they able to stay faithful at the worst of times? How did they stay true to their testimonies, even when their own lives were at stake?

May I submit that it was, at least in large measure, due to their callings as witnesses and historians. They spent many hours daily in the revelations of God – abridging, recording, and translating them, hoping that someday their records would benefit total strangers and even the posterity of those that were trying to take their lives. Every day, the word of God must have fortified their souls, even when the ferocity of brutal carnage was, as Mormon puts it, “a continual scene of wickedness and abominations [that had] been before [his] eyes ever since [he was old enough to understand] the ways of man” (Mormon 2:18).

This state of wickedness, unfortunately is not unusual to that time. Throughout the history of mankind there have been multiple periods when mankind has rejected and turned away from God.  Then God would set up a new dispensation in which a prophet would be called who had the holy priesthood, keys, and a divine commission to dispense the gospel to the inhabitants of the earth. Through all of these times, the prophets looked forward to two events – 1) the birth, atonement, death and resurrection of the Savior Jesus Christ, and 2) the dispensation of the fullness of times – the last restoration of priesthood, authority, keys, and missionary work. A time when the gospel would not be taken from the earth again and the people would prepare the earth and also be prepared to welcome the Savior to His millennial reign.  Which is a joyful thought, but it also comes at a very wicked time, a time called in scripture “the latter days” … our day.

Listen to these words that confirm this truth from President Russell M. Nelson from conference just two weeks ago  –

“Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women [and men] who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. President Russel M. Nelson, A Plea to My Sisters, General Conference, October 2015.

Like Mormon and Moroni, we need to have a group of people who remain strong in their testimonies, however this time instead of physical battles; it is during some of the worst spiritual battles the earth has ever known.  When many (even some of our own) will “call evil good, and good evil;” and will “put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20).  How will our children know truth in the midst of such confusion? It is our sacred duty as parents, grandparents, and teachers to teach our children not only to LOVE the scriptures (as many of them do) but to understand and live them so that Satan will not have power over their hearts as is prophesied in 1 Nephi 22:15.

Our children cannot know right and wrong without us teaching them. They cannot know who the Savior is simply by our hoping that “somehow they’ll figure it all out.” They will not have spiritual experiences unless we teach them who they are, who God is, and how to approach Him and ask for those sacred blessings (Doc. & Cov. 93:19).

In Doctrine and Covenants section 93, the Lord chastises Joseph Smith, Jr., Frederick G. Williams, and Sidney Rigdon, (the first presidency at the time) because they had not been teaching their children “light and truth.” “Light and truth” they are told “forsake that evil one” and “that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience … and because of the tradition of their fathers.”

How will our children to have enough light and truth so that they will forsake the evil one? We teach them.

In the topical guide, there are 31 scriptures listed under “Children, responsibilities toward” and the vast majority urges parents to teach children the word of God through the scriptures. May I share three ideas that will help in our quest to teach the gospel using the scriptures?

  1. Teach the doctrine simply and plainly whenever you can –

When children are taught gospel doctrines simply and plainly, they will change. Let me share  a story that illustrates this. A few years ago, I went to pick up my daughter from her second grade class. As I walked up to the door, I saw a little boy hit my daughter’s friend in the face. No teacher was there to help, and after making sure that the girl was okay, I sat the boy down and taught him a doctrine from the Proclamation to the World on the Family. I told him that his job as a man was to protect girls and women, that he was never to hit one again, and that if he took on his role to protect them that they would always love and respect him. After that moment, every time I saw him that year, he would run up to me and say, “I’m doing what you told me to, I’m protecting women” and then he would go on to tell me about a time when he stopped his friends from chasing the girls or something similar.

Now, I didn’t know all of the background of this little boy, but I did know something about who he is, he is a spirit son of Heavenly Father and he chose to follow the Savior in the pre-earth life. True doctrine, taught in love, by the Holy Ghost has the power to change lives. Hopefully (now four years later) that little boy has not had that piece of “light and truth” taken out of his heart by disobedience, or worse for children, by the traditions and examples of his fathers (meaning the male figures in his life).

  1. Teach the scriptures consistently in daily devotionals and with questions and discussions, not just reading –

Teaching children to read out of the scriptures can be a monumental task. It is easy to find excuses and reasons not to, but like everything worthwhile in life, consistency and training will pay great rewards. Please note that I give the following simply as ideas to help the Holy Ghost springboard personalized revelation of how you can implement scripture study into your own family and circumstances.

When my children were very young (before they could read) I read the scriptures to them

183040_NT_Stories_Beg_Reader

Scripture Stories for Children can be read online or purchased at low costs.

out of the scripture stories for children. These can be found online at lds.org or purchased at the distribution center in many languages for under $10 each. We read out of them every night beginning with the Old Testament, New Testament, then the Book of Mormon and finished with the Doctrine in Covenants. This did two things, it taught an overview of the scriptures and it gave a consistency to our scripture reading (they knew that every night before bed, we would read and pray).

As we got to the final scripture story book, I found that asking questions was essential in making sure that they understood what they were learning. For example, in teaching about the first vision I could ask questions like, “What did Joseph Smith go into the grove to do?” That would help me learn whether or not they understood the story line. At some point, they would discuss the fact that Joseph went to seek an answer to prayer (if not, I could point that out to them). Fact finding questions can be very helpful and necessary questions, but it’s even more important to connect scripture with their experience.

Asking connecting questions like, “Have you ever had a time that you wanted the Lord to answer a question for you? Tell me about it?” will give them these connecting opportunities and allow for beautiful moments of testimony.

Finally, to help them apply the teaching into their lives, I could ask something like, “Will you think of a question that you would like the Lord to answer?” and then testify that if they will search out the answer from Him, that they will find it. With experience and follow through at our daily devotionals, I can gauge how my children (or grandchildren, or students, as the case may be) are internalizing gospel truths. It adds to deeper learning and shared family experiences.

After we finished all of the scripture stories, (again, before my children had learned to read) I read the scriptures to them and they would repeat the words and phrases. That continued the consistency of daily study, but also introduced them to the beautiful (and challenging) language of the scriptures. As the children got older we begin reading together as a family, but always, we continue to discuss what we are reading and how it applies to our lives.

Even the very young children can relate their few precious life experiences to the gospel. Last week, in Primary we talked about times when they had scary experiences and needed to talk to Heavenly Father in prayer to help change the thoughts in their heads. After thinking about it for a while (and long after the conversation was over), a sunbeam [aged 3-4] wanted to share her experiences of being scared in the night. Sharing time was due to end and so I asked her to wait until after the closing song and prayer. Then she told me about waking from a scary dream and we discussed that the next time it happened she could pray and ask Heavenly Father to give her peace and comfort.

It is so important to have frequent conversations with your children about the gospel. Listen to the command of the Lord –

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul … And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

“And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates” (Deuteronomy 11:18-20, 22).

And then the scriptures go on to promise that if we teach and speak with our children about the gospel that we will have many mighty blessings, some of which are that we will not be deceived by falsehoods [teachings, people, ways, patterns of living], and that our days and the days of our children will be multiplied in the land.

President Benson (13th President of the Church) said that youth who participate in daily family devotionals [prayer and scripture study] will have hearts that are freed from evil intentions and will be the restraining influence in a group when temptations arise (President Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 2: Pray Always, (2014), 46–57).

Now, I know some of you may be saying, “It’s too late, my family is already grown.” But take the advice of Elder Foster from last conference who taught, “It’s never too early and it’s never too late” (Elder Bradly D. Foster, General Conference, October 2015). Text, Facebook message, or call your children and grandchildren. Share a scripture that you have been studying and your testimony, do it often. Teach, testify, and talk with them.

Some of you may be saying, “It’s hopeless, I don’t know, can’t learn, and don’t understand the scriptures. My kids will just have to learn it at Church or at Seminary.” To you, my dear brother or sister, may I testify that you know enough to start (see Elder Neil L. Anderson, You Know Enough, General Conference, October 2008).   You are here, aren’t you? You chose to follow the Savior before you came to earth, and you are a covenant child of God. You have access to the Holy Ghost who can “teach you all things” and “bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:26). Have faith in the Lord’s faith in you. You are part of the chosen generation, just as the youth are. At this age and stage, your responsibilities are different than they were when you were a youth, but you are still chosen. You will learn, you are able to do it, you have been chosen, it is prophesied that you will do it, and you must do it! Who better to prepare your children for their future gospel responsibilities and experiences than you? Your children are counting on you. The Lord is counting on you and He will not fail to help you.

Go to lds.org. Read the seminary and institute teacher manuals ahead of when you are going to share them with your family, even if you are a chapter ahead of them. Find out what the scriptures mean! Petition the Lord for help in this, your greatest calling, being a mother or father.

  1. Don’t just preach! We must allow our children to have their own experiences with the Holy Ghost who will lead them to the Savior.

A few months ago, my seven-year-old daughter was preparing a talk for primary and I decided to try some of the gospel teaching techniques that I had been learning with her. Her talk was on the Holy Ghost and so I sat her down at the kitchen table, we prayed, and then I asked her to read three verses about the Holy Ghost and write down what she thought they meant. Then, I asked her to write about how she could put those teachings into her life. When she excitedly called me back to her she started to tell me what she had learned. I went to stop her because clearly she hadn’t understood the main point of the verses – that the Holy Ghost would speak in her mind and heart – but I felt the Spirit hold me back. She’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn more about those verses, Laryssa, listen to what I taught her, was the impression that I got. She told me that from the verses she learned that even though she was only seven; she could have the Holy Ghost in her life, giving her promptings and encouragement. Yes! That was much more important than what I was going to teach her at that moment.

I know that teaching children, even young children the gospel out of the scriptures will work. I’ve been teaching the scriptures with your teenagers in Seminary and I’ve been teaching your children out of the scriptures in Primary. We are all capable of understanding and doing much, much more with the gospel. Let us have faith in our children, faith in ourselves, and faith in the Lord who was the one that gave the commandment to teach our children the gospel through daily scripture study. Let us, even in times of peril like Mormon and Moroni  raise a “sin-free generation”, “a peculiar treasure … a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5) that will be ready to greet the Savior at His second coming which, given the state of the world, looks to be closer every day.  May we capture the promise of the Lord given through Isaiah, “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13). This is my prayer. My testimony is that the gospel is true and that the Savior lives and loves us. I close in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 


 

Notes: *Photo 1: courtesy of LDS.org, Congo Priesthood Father; *Photo 2: picture of Children Scripture Stories, the author of this article does not receive any monetary remuneration for this, it is simply presented as an option.

 

 

To Nurture and Teach – thoughts on my role as a woman.

To Nurture and Teach – thoughts on my role as a woman.

I’ve been reflecting deeply on my role as a teacher lately, not only as a teacher in a professional or church setting, but as a mother. I watched this “Happy Families” message the other day and it struck me how simply this mother taught her children from a very young age and the fruits that it bore.

After watching it, I began to invite my older daughters again to help me in the kitchen (something I had done before, but not continued) and they were thrilled to help me make smoothies and grilled cheese sandwiches and spaghetti and salads – simple things, but they were so happy to help. Actually, I ask one at a time to help (taking turns helping cook and play with the baby) and that seems to make things go a little more smoothly in my house.

I also have been trying to teach the baby (she’s 16 months old) to help as well. Every time we clean up toys, I show her where the toys go and give SO much praise if she can catch on to the simple task of putting the items in the bin. I’ve also started to have her help with the laundry. I place the wet clothes from the wash into a basket and she puts them in the dryer for me (and of course I praise her for her good work and efforts).

But it doesn’t stop there. I’ve been reviewing my role to be a teacher of the gospel in the home. I was a full-time seminary teacher for seven years and so I’ve always known that I could teach them, but for some reason, I thought that it was my hubby’s role to be the teacher (you know as the “presider”, see the Family Proclamation). I always assumed that we’d share the teaching responsibilities, (and in some ways we do) but I guess I’ve been waiting for him to get up and take charge with family scripture study, etc. Please understand, my husband is a good man, but I’ve been the one to remind the family to pray, read, and have FHE on a consistent basis.

So I’ve been pondering a lot lately if I am usurping a role that will help him to grow as I continue to insist on religious family activities. I’m not sure. But the more I insist on the activities, the more he becomes involved – yay!

Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that part of my role as a mother as the primary nurturer of our family is that of teacher and that it shouldn’t be one that I can neglect or delegate away or my children won’t learn basic things like laundry or dishes or meal prep or spiritual things like having a personal relationship with the Lord. And, I’ve been wondering if other women in the church are having the same struggle.

Years ago, I wrote my master’s thesis on the Spirituality of women and conducted some primary research to see how confident LDS women felt in giving talks, teaching lessons, and speaking about gospel doctrine (making comments in class, etc). The results were that women who had experience with testifying (i.e. serving a mission) or daily experiences with personal study of the scriptures were much more likely to feel confident discussing the gospel, and I assume feel much more confident teaching the gospel at home. Well, maybe we can’t be a missionary now, but we can have daily experiences in the scriptures!

Right before I had my baby, a dear friend asked me for ideas on how to study the scriptures. I began to compile some ideas, which I will now post as these ideas about teaching and studying are becoming more fresh and clear. To begin the next several posts, I want to quote from a talk by Elder Bednar which discusses the VITAL need for teaching in the home.

Brothers and sisters, think of the total amount of time in a week devoted to doctrinally based, spirit-filled instruction for our young people through the programs of the Church. Let’s assume they go to seminary. That might yield three or four hours of quality instruction during the course of the week. What would they receive in church on Sunday? Thirty minutes in sacrament meeting; thirty minutes in Sunday School; and thirty minutes in Young Men’s, Young Women’s, or Gospel Doctrine. A total of maybe five, six, or seven hours for the entire week, if we are optimistic. Think of the evil influences in the world. Will the Church and its programs alone safeguard you and me and our children in an increasingly wicked world? The answer is no. Please do not misunderstand this statement–I would not trust my children exclusively to the programs of the Church. I love the Church, but the Church operates as a support to you and to me as we create a home that is a house of learning. First and foremost, the responsibility is ours as parents to create a Christ-centered, spirit-filled home environment where the Holy Ghost can teach and testify to our children. If they know the why, they will quickly learn the how.

Take a look a the full talk – Teach them to Understand from a  1998 (then) Rick’s College Education Week address. I have sent it to my husband and we are going to study it together and try to find ways to make our home a better place of gospel learning.mormonad-unlimited-text-messages-1118424-gallery

Finally, I’ll leave with a couple of ideas for daily personal scripture study and a challenge. My sister is an amazing spiritual woman. When she had a lot of young’ins running around the home, she went to the distribution center and picked up a bunch of the cheapy copies of the Book of Mormon and placed one in every room in her house (bathroom included). Then, if she found herself with a moment or two in the bustle of mommy life, she would read a verse or two. She said that just by giving those few minutes of time, she had given a sacrifice to God and was taught from the scriptures.

Another idea is to listen to the scriptures (digital formats can be found here) while you are folding clothes, doing dishes, or being a taxi cab.

The challenge is to study this week. Everyday, study something in the scriptures (not someone’s thoughts of the scriptures) and ask the Lord to teach you. I know He will bless us in this endeavor in our own lives and we will find ways to teach our children as well.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, questions, ideas, experiences or scripture reading tips!

Don’t Take My Word For It …

learned for myself

So, my last two posts have been very intense. It is the side of me that is reserved for the disciplinarian at home, the professor that has to give grades to students who haven’t been working, and the teacher that has to establish rules and protocols to have an orderly and just classroom. Though it is a side that is intense, the truth of the matter is that I’d do almost anything to help my students succeed and that goes a million times more for my own children!

The most wonderful thing about the gospel is that, though there are rules and standards, a loving Father in Heaven and his equally loving Son want to help us succeed as well. Take a look:

For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;

And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours. (Doctrine and Covenants 78: 7, 17-18)

A while ago, I watched a video about a group of young women leaders who were trying to teach their youth why they should be modest. (I wish I could find the video, but after searching for half a day and coming up unsuccessfully, I couldn’t find it, so I will sum up.) Instead of doing a lecture, they sent the girls to the scriptures. Instead of spending an hour on it,  they spent several weeks allowing the girls plenty of time for thinking, searching, pondering, and praying. At the end of the time, each girl who had participated received direct revelation from Father in Heaven about the reasons that He wanted her (his own precious daughter) to be modest. I can’t think of anything better!

So, though I will teach revealed doctrine on this blog, the best thing that each of us can do is spend some real time asking Father directly about His teachings. The Savior himself said that the doctrine that He preached was not His own and then gave a special promise –

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:17). 

I would highly recommend that anyone who is facing difficult doctrinal issues (or as I like to call them, Doctrinal Abrahamic Trails) should spend some time with the Lord, taking His word at face value. Trying out His doctrine in all possible ways, or if we are not able to try it (let’s say the doctrine is about children and we don’t have any) we should carefully ponder with an eye on the eternities why the Lord would command that doctrine. I read in a blog once –  that we need to “approach the issue with an eye to what the Lord would have us learn from the law.” One of the sweetest things that a young boy of 14 said after he went seeking answers from God was, “I have learned for myself.”

Answers will come. All of these issues, questions, and problems are directly provided to help us turn to the Savior. And, just as I would do almost anything to help my students and my children survive and thrive, He would do, and has done, infinitely more for you and for me.

Scripture Study: Steadfast and Immovable or How Do I Study Scriptures with Children?

daily scripture study

Our scripture reading as a family is slow. Very slow.  Most nights we get through two verses.  Why so few? Because I really want my school-age children (presently aged 9 and 6) to get something out of them.  (We just finished watching the children scripture videos – but, more on that later) and so, now that they can both read, we began at 1 Nephi.  Tonight, we read 1 Nephi 2: 9-10 (Yes, I know, we’ve come so far! 😉 )

We began with one child reading, and dramatically yelling out – “I don’t understand ONE word of that!”

To which I calmly replied, “Do you understand the word, river?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, let’s start there.”

We discussed what Lehi wanted Laman to be like –

And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!

(A river.)

What does a river do?  (It runs constantly.) 

Into what?

She didn’t know, so we talked about who the Fountain of Righteousness could symbolize  (The Savior).

How can we constantly run to the Savior?

She was mildly interested. 😉

Then the other child read.

And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!

What does Lehi want Laman to be like? (A valley.)

What three things is a valley like? (firm, steadfast, and immovable).

What does that mean?

At this point, I had my former football playing husband stand up and asked my 6-year-old to try and push him over. Well, that was fun! We tried having each girl, and then the two together try to push Daddy over and when he was in his stance, there was nothing that they could do.

Then I asked what did we need to be immovable in? (Keeping the commandments.)

Now, being immovable in keeping the commandments –  that’s hard! We discussed the fact that everyone had commandments that they were steadfast in and other commandments that they were movable in.

My six-year-old wanted to know what commandments are (yikes! but at least she asked! 😉 )  We said that they are the things that God has asked us to do (like keeping the Sabbath Day Holy, paying tithing, keeping the Word of Wisdom, not telling lies, etc).

We each shared something that we needed to work on being more immovable in and then committed as a family to work on it this week.

I bring this up because I had a dear friend ask me how to study the scriptures.  I started writing some posts, but then I had a baby, and it’s been hectic since. So, as a start, I will say this – it can become easier to do scripture study if you are consistent and engage everyone in the event.

If you only need to get through a couple of verses, doing it nightly is more manageable, and if you look for things in the scriptures to talk about and ways to “liken” it to yourself and your circumstances (1 Nephi 19:23) it will involve the family in the process.

Here are some thoughts that might help.

  • What are the concrete words and ideas in the verse? Maybe to get to the concrete idea you need to read over a few more verses than two, but move to the next one that you can find and begin the discussion there.  With little kids do ONE idea and then stop for the night.  Older kids can probably do more, unless you’re just getting started (then maybe all they can do is one idea as well.)  By ALL means start with that!  Don’t mourn the past.  Just begin today.
  • What questions can I ask that will make my children look into the verse to find the answer? Make them read the words and find the answers (they’ll shout out “pray, read scriptures, go to church, etc.” and act like they know everything already.  You need to say, “no, look in the verse!” Directing them back to the specific phrase or idea.)  They need to learn the foreign language of the scriptures, so, by directing them back into the verse they have to engage with the phrases.  Also, be excited – for example, Who do you think is coming down in the sky? Who could the twelve be that are coming with Him? see 1 Nephi 1: 9-10 .
  • What is going on (i.e. who is speaking and why)? Keep the thread of the story – for example, “Remember that Lehi and his family have just left from Jerusalem.”
  • Talk about how those verses can apply to you.  For example, on the verses about Lehi’s vision (see above 1 Nephi 1:9-10) we discussed dreams.  Have you ever had a dream from the Lord? What was it like? How did you know that it was a dream from God and not a regular dream (what’s the difference?) Does everybody have dreams from God (Joel 2:28-29)? Are there other ways that the Lord communicates with us, not only in dreams? etc. That was a REALLY good discussion.
  • Remember this should be simple.  No handouts, no bells and whistles. I’m serious ladies – no treats, no elaborate displays.  Save those for FHE!

Say a simple prayer for help and then trust that the Lord will help you by giving you ideas in the moment (Luke 12:12) of what questions to ask and what ideas to talk about (the idea to have my hubby be steadfast was pure inspiration in the moment!).  Trust that what you’re talking about (though simple, and maybe not what you think they need) in the hands of the Lord and the Holy Spirit will be effective in the lives of your children (see James 5:16).

 

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  I’d love to hear about you and your experiences.  What do you do when you read as a family? Which strategies work, and which don’t? What is frustrating to you? Have you had a “high five” moment that you want to share? How do you need to modify for young children, older kids, youth, a mixed family with children of all ages?

 

What Would You Give Your Life For?

Recently, I watched BYU’s presentation of Fires of Faith, a documentary about the coming forth of the King James version of the Bible. It was made to celebrate the 400th anniversary of that book. Here’s a little preview.

The documentary was phenomenal! The producers took great pains to put together historical scenes that completely captured my imagination. It’s one thing to read about or imagine a person being burned at the stake, it’s quite another to watch a dramatization of someone being burned at the stake (it’s a level closer to reality).

Each segment had a different theme, but they all worked together and beautifully united at the end. The first segment Yearning for the Word was about the need to read the Bible in our own language.  Having taught the gospel in another language, I can testify of the importance of this.  Speaking to God and having God speak to you are part of a process that has to be practiced and learned.  It’s not enough to rely on others to speak to God for you.  He is your Father, He wants a relationship with you, individually, and it is a lot easier to do when you have the information in your own native tongue.

The second segment Martyrs for a Book was about those Protestant reformers that were willing to give up their lives to try to get the Word of God into the hands of the ordinary person. The theme of that one was – what is a person willing to die for? I began to ponder what I was giving my life for, and I realized that right now I’m giving my life to be a mother (I just had a newborn, but more on that here).

The third segment The King James Bible finished the history, and talked about the importance of the Bible; first as a way to understand God and his will for us, and secondly as a beautiful work of literary merit.

JohnRogers-Martyr

The English Martyr, John Rogers

You can watch the videos on BYU.org.  Each episode is about an hour, and is well worth your time.

I also learned about one of my ancestors, John Rogers, who was burned at the stake as a martyr (the first under Mary Tutor).

I feel humbled, and grateful for the blessing of these dedicated men, who felt a call from God and sacrificed their all to achieve the work that they were sent to do. I am amazed at what I feel when I read the Bible, how close I come to God when I am reading with the Holy Spirit as a teacher.  Truly, Tynsdale’s belief that “if God spares my life, in a few years a plow boy shall know more of the Scriptures than you (the leaders of the Catholic Church at the time) do” has come to pass in ordinary people like you and me.

I leave you with one of my favorite biblical scriptures –

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.  (Isaiah 41:10).