Monday, March 14, 2016

"I Know the Scriptures are True" March 2016 LDS Blogtrain

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Blog Train Roll:

From the beginning of our marriage my husband and I were pretty good with companionship prayer and scripture study but soon our children were getting to that toddler age where we could no longer ignore the commandment to have family prayer and family scripture study. 

How did you do that with little children when only a few could read?  Prayer wasn't too hard.  You did that with one eye open so you could grab them by the ankle when they crawled away, diaper rustling and giggles gurgling.  

But what about that scripture thing? After the children faked death from boredom as we read our regular companionship amount of verses to them I wondered, how did people do this?  Needing an example, I pulled out the handy dandy ward directory and set to work picking the brains of families who had children similar in age to ours.  If you don't have an example, go find one.  The more I studied and interviewed the sisters in my ward the more frustrated I became.  Nobody used the exact same method.  Some did it one way, some another.  I decided it was like a recipe.  You just have to make it.  Go through all that work.  Use all those ingredients to see if you like it.  

Some families only read from the Book of Mormon Stories with illustrations. Some read through an entire Book of Mormon chapter every night.  Some listened to one parent read.  Some did only a few verses each.  Some taught a lesson with each chapter and only read key scriptures. Most of the families didn't have family scripture study at all.  All I had to do was try something and I'd be ahead of the curve.  Whoo-Hoo!... Not that we were racing or anything, but it was kind of a rush.

I won't illustrate all of our failures but I will say we had to fail.  Failing was an essential part of our scripture study success.  We had to see what didn't work to find what would.  And what works changes over the years.  My first discovery was that for little kids the Book of Mormon Stories pictures were good.  The children didn't have the attention span for the words.  I would have the children talk about the pictures and notice details. I'd tell them stories with my eye's wide and animated.  As time went on and attention spans grew I would read the captions under the pictures and have them choose their favorite part of the story.  We would look up those verses and I'd read them so the children could hear them in scripture form.  That evolved into the children reading the captions themselves when they could.  
Now we read the actual scriptures.  We purchased several missionary copies of the Book of Mormon.  We use Post-it notes to mark the verse we're on each night so everyone starts in the right place the next day.  Everyone reads three verses because that's the attention span capacity of the smallest child. We read in order of age. We've learned that if we read the verse number with each verse it makes it easier for short attention spans to keep up.

In the middle of study we've been known to set the scriptures down and talk about important concepts or ask "Do you understand what is happening here?"  We've even gotten out Legos and built our own Nephite cities where armies are holding us captive but Lo!  Someone is lowering weapons over the wall.  Won't those stinky ol' Lamanites be surprised in the morning when we're in charge again?

So how do you do scriptures study with a family?  You just begin.  The only wrong way to do it is to never start.  I guarantee you if you can push through for two weeks the children won't let you forget after that.  We have a whole routine built around scriptures now.  Brush your teeth at 7:45, scriptures at 8:00, followed by prayer, and then Dad reads a chapter from a novel the family is working on while I color with the youngest.  It's not for everyone, but it's ours. It's unique and I know if I called around today I'd still discover every family has a right way just for them.

Elder Howard W. Hunter said, “Families are greatly blessed when wise fathers and mothers bring their children about them, read from the pages of the scriptural library together, and then discuss freely the beautiful stories and thoughts according to the understanding of all.” (Ensign,Nov. 1979, p. 64) 

Family prayer and scripture study blesses our home.  Is it post card perfect?  No.  Are we all great readers? No. But we can feel the Spirit in our home even on giggly nights (The nights where half of us are speaking in a Brittish accent and the other half are saying "A moron" instead of "Ammoron").  The children understand the stories and they're hearing our testimonies of how this story or that applies to our lives or things we know.  

It's a together time the children will always remember.  Some nights it's little ones on our laps and the sound of a clock ticking in the background.  Some nights we have to sit on the children, or between them.  On those nights I close my eyes a moment and picture myself in the Celestial Room with my grown child, nodding my head, thinking no matter the type of night it was when we studied scriptures together as a family so long ago, it was worth it.
End blog

The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet says, “Study the scriptures each day and apply what you read to your life. The scriptures are a powerful source of personal revelation and guidance and a constant strength to your testimony.”
LDS public speaker and seminary teacher Hank Smith is quick to point out that this says to read them every day. Not once week for a long period of time. That would be like only brushing your teeth once a week with a great amount of toothpaste.

The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet also says, “If your family does not do these things together, pray and study the scriptures yourself. Your example may encourage your family members to join you.” I think too often we wait for someone else to edify us. Someone else will fill our cup.
Someone else can and He’s waiting in here to talk to you. However, filling our spiritual cup requires effort on our part. The Lord believes in requiring effort and sacrifice. We must invest in the scriptures if we are to pull any profit from them. If someone isn’t leading you in scripture study, you need to learn to lead yourself. I believe that those born in this time were born because they had an extraordinary capacity to govern themselves for good. We don’t need to walk across the plains or push a handcart. We have a different strength. We can pick up the scriptures without being told to even in a day and age when time is in scant supply. Time is not something we have or own. It is something we make for what is important to us.
Joseph Smith Jr. Said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, 4:461.)

He did not say that man would get nearer to God by reading the Book of Mormon. Rather, he said they would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts. This presents a problem. Now, not only do we need to be reading the Book of Mormon as a family, but we need to understand the content and stories enough to be able to pull out principles from them so we can apply them to our own lives. Reasoning through and relating scriptures to our own lives means reading slower, looking at meanings, and listening for the Holy Ghost while we read. Family members can note the principles they find in their individual scriptures or they can keep a family “principle journal” and keep them there.

Ben and I were listening to a Church CD in the car when the principle of abiding instead of only reading the scriptures was pointed out. We looked at each other, amazed that our triumph of regular scriptures study…so regular that the children would throw a fit if we tried to miss it…might be only a half victory if we  weren’t teaching the children as we read.

The problem we now face is that the principles in the Book of Mormon are not listed out for us. There is no footnote saying: You should reason this principle from this story. Likewise, when Christ was on the earth his stories weren’t given with principles spelled out plainly. President Eyring says “The Lord has embedded in the Book of Mormon his message to you.”

The Lord requires our effort to pull embedded principles from the scriptures. He requires our hearts. It is our responsibility to teach our children to reason out principles from scripture stories.

Alma taught Zeezrom the same principle: “It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God … according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full” (Alma 12:9–10; emphasis added).  

Neil A. Maxwell said, “As the Master Teacher, Christ tailored His tutoring, depending upon the spiritual readiness of His pupils.” 5 In this way the parables both reveal and conceal at the same time.”

The Book of Mormon isn’t a book that says the same things each time you read it.  You change as you read it and you learn different lessons from it all the time.  One can read the book over many times and suddenly a passage or story that didn’t seem to matter before may mean something to them because they now need it or are ready to understand it.

Heavenly Father has chosen these stories for us on purpose.
Words of Mormon 1:5 “I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people.” For every story he chose there were 99 others he didn’t choose.
President Benson: “We should constantly ask ourselves why did the Lord inspire Mormon to include that one? What lesson can I learn from that to live in this day and age?”

The Book of Mormon protects us
President Benson: “…the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time.”

Jeffry R. Holland: Love. Healing. Help. Hope. The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times—including the end of times. That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair. That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins, and that is the message with which it ends, calling all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.”

Is there anything we want more for our families than the “power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times?”

Though we are far from perfect at family scripture study I can boldly testify to you of the value of family scripture study and prayer. We have been drawn close as a family through scripture study and family prayer. If you’re not doing it in your home I promise you that after a week or two it will seem like no effort at all. Once the habit is set your family can read the scriptures together on auto pilot. I say read. Studying the scriptures as a family, however, is a different story. It takes a different kind of effort and a desire to not only do the bare minimum to meet the commandments of God but to let those commandments, such as family scripture study, bless your lives and strengthen what is most dear to you. Your family.


Angela said...

Thank you for the super cute paper and thank you for your testimony of the importance of scripture study. I finally implemented a modest routine of scripture study before family prayer and I hope to be able to add more depth as we go. It is so important. Thank you for sharing.

Administrator said...

We were just talking last night about how it doesn't feel like work to do it anymore. Now it is just a habit. I love how it pulls us together and unites us. I think starting modest is the best idea. I like easing into it.

J. D. Cochran said...

Thank you!