I Live in a Mansion

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talltab1I live in a mansion.  There are so many rooms, and so many doors, that it would take more than a lifetime to explore what is in them all.  From one room, I can explore the sciences, and watch the progression of the stars and planets.  I can chart the known universe and discover things that it has taken mankind centuries to understand.
talltab1 From another, I can learn the religions of the world, make connections with things divine, and come to a deeper understanding of why people are the way they are.
talltab1 From another, I can become my own symphony, and follow the practices of the master composers.  I can perfect the principles they have learned and carry them on to new levels.
talltab1 There is a room in my house where I can practice medicine and learn how the human body works.  In this room, I can also learn how to strengthen the powers within my own body through exercise, activity, proper nutrition and rest.
talltab1 In one of the larger wings of my mansion, I can enter a fantastic world with creatures and people that most people only meet in dreams and movies.  I can converse with them, and in essence, leave the world entirely through time machines and spaceships.
talltab1 I have rooms that bare the perfect resemblance of locations all around the globe.  I have been to Egypt, China, South America, and Africa without having to leave my home.
talltab1 In my favorite room, I have met the Savior and His prophets.  I have come to know God, and converse with Him regularly.  I have met Adam, Enoch, Abraham, and John the Baptist.  I have met the reformers and those who took part in the great restoration of the Gospel.
talltab1 I have visited many of the rooms in my mansion, and plan to visit many more.

talltab1 My house is small, and my means are meager.  But in every room, there are books.

How to Revolutionize the Course of the Universe

talltab1It was a very dull day at at the bookstore as I leaned against the counter, chin in hands, waiting for something to happen.  One of my coworkers stood only a few feet away, bored as I was.
talltab1“So,” I said, trying to break the monotony, “What should I do to revolutionize the course of the world today?”
talltab1He thought a moment.  “Got any bombs?  You could always blow up an important building somewhere.”
talltab1“That’s true.  But I don’t have any bombs.  Besides, that’s a bad thing, and there are plenty of bad things going on all the time.  I need to find something good to do.”
talltab1“That’s true,” he replied.  Then we both fell back into silence.

talltab1I began thinking more about our conversation.  What could one do to revolutionize the course of the world?  What about the universe?  Could one person effect the destiny of the universe?
talltab1There have been many people who have changed the course of life on this planet; Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.  George Washington led a revolutionary war that led to the foundation of what might be considered the most powerful nation in world history.  But did those things change the destiny of the universe?
talltab1It occurred to me that the person who best fit that description would have to be Jesus Christ.  Not only did he save the destiny of every person who would ever live, but He provided a way for us to become like His Father.
talltab1Now there’s a new approach to the question.  If I have potential to become like my Father in Heaven, then certainly I have power to effect the destiny of the universe.
So I guess the next question would have to be, what can I do today to best effect that progress?  Of course, a response as broad as “live the gospel” wasn’t really a sufficient, since I had been striving to do that my whole life.
talltab1Then I realized that I was in the process of beginning one of the major aspects of the perfecting process.  I was about to get married in the temple.  I decided that maybe the best thing I could do to work toward that goal would be to strengthen my relationship with Jenni.  How could I do that?  That question is easy.  I could be kind and loving to her.
talltab1I looked around the store.  Everything was quiet, normal, ordinary.  Customers came in and left.  Employees straightened bookshelves or stood patiently waiting for something to happen.  I had a date with Jenni scheduled for that night.  I decided that tonight I would change the course of the universe – I would show love and kindness towards her.

Tribute: I Love You, Dad!

Lunch Bucket and Grandpa

talltab1If someone had asked me in grade school what my dad did, I would probably have told them that my dad is a fisherman.  I didn’t know what he did for work, but I did know that he was a fisherman in his free time.  It was his favorite pastime, and he was really good at it.  He didn’t much go for worm fishing, and he certainly was never big on plopping the line in the water and sitting back waiting for the line to pull.  Dad was a fly fisher.

talltab1He loved fishing the rivers, outsmarting the fish using strategy and skill rather than passive chance.  With fly fishing on a river, the fisher must cast the line upstream, getting the fly to float unsuspectingly over the best part of the fishing hole.
talltab1Dad also tied his own flies.  This was itself quite a skill, as it took the most precise thread-work.  He had a cool fly-tying kit, as well as materials for making flies, such as threads, feathers, animal fur, or whatever was necessary for the desired effect.  The idea is to emulate as close as possible the look of a real fly.  I remember him making Cadiss flies, Mayflies, and even ants and grasshoppers.

talltab1He still fly-fishes and makes his own flies today.

talltab1I remember one particular fishing trip when I was young where we Continue reading

Let Us be Men

Let Us Be Men

talltab1We know from the scriptures that “the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them…” but what about when even that is not enough?
talltab1When Alma went to preach the gospel to the Zoramites, he had great success.  But when all was said and done, there was still great wickedness among the people.  So Alma changed his approach slightly.  What did he do?

Alma 35:15-16

“Now Alma, being grieved for the iniquity of his people, yea for the wars, and the bloodsheds, and the contentions which were among them; and having been to declare the word, or sent to declare the word, among all the people in every city; and seeing that the hearts of the people began to wax hard, and that they began to be offended because of the strictness of the word, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful.

“Therefore, he caused that his sons should be gathered together, that he might give unto them every one his charge, separately, concerning the things pertaining unto righteousness. And we have an account of his commandments, which he gave unto them according to his own record.”

talltab1He went to his sons and taught them.  He went back to the Continue reading

The Isaiah Barrier: Tips for Surviving Second Nephi

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talltab1How many times have you read first Nephi?  If you are like me, you’ve probably read it at least twice as many times as you’ve read any other book in the Book of Mormon.  Thank heaven Nephi does such a great job in his first book.  But then what happens?
talltab1You’re reading along, having a wonderful spiritual experience.  You’ve finally gotten back into the habit of reading the Book of Mormon every day.  You’re so proud… er… uh, pleased with yourself.  Then all of a sudden you read a verse that says:

“…kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their faces towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet…”

talltab1“Uh, okay…” you think to yourself, “I’ll just file that away into the back of my brain and get back to the good stuff.”
talltab1So you continue reading.  It doesn’t take you long to figure out that the strange Hebrew poetic writing doesn’t go away.  It lasts till the end of the chapter, then continues on to the next, and the next, and the next.  Before you know it, you’ve lost your daily habit and you’re hating yourself for not being able to work through the Isaiah barrier.
Sound familiar?

talltab1Let’s explore some ideas for getting through the Isaiah barrier without too many permanent scars.

  1. Take it in stride. Don’t expect yourself to race through it at the pace you’ve been going.  It’s not traditional English prose.  It’s not even traditional Hebrew prose.  It’s okay if your scripture study is only a few verses instead of a whole chapter.  Better to read smaller chunks than no chunks
  2. justtallGet a commentary – I’m not talking about FARMS or Hugh Nibley.  They can sometimes be as daunting as Isaiah himself.  Just get the Church Publication: Religion 302, Old Testament Student Manual 1 Kings–Malachi.  That is the Church’s old testament institute manual for the second half of the old testament.  It’s very simple and clear, and believe it or not, it makes Isaiah easy to understand!  (I bet you thought that was impossible – au contraire!)  Give it a try.  By the way, it’s also available to read online for free: http://ldsces.org/inst_manuals/ot-in-2/manualindex.asp
  3. justtallPray. Pray hard.  You’ll need all the help you can get, and who can help you better than the real author!
  4. justtallRewrite it. Okay, so this is a little more involved, and may take some help from tip 2, but give it a try.  Re-write each verse in plain English.  It’s not interpreting and rewriting the scriptures for publication, it’s putting it in your own words to help you get a grip on what’s going on.  Plus it’s kind of fun.
  5. justtallGet out the maps.  Better yet, jump on the computer and goof around on Google Earth (did you know that’s a free download?  It’s much cooler than Google maps, too.  Trust me) and punch in locations as you come across them.  Isaiah’s a real geography buff, and mentions places a lot.  Sometimes seeing it visually can help a lot.
  6. justtallFind scriptural commentary on Isaiah.  Isaiah is such a popular topic in the scriptures (especially in the Book of Mormon), that a lot of the verses are mentioned by other prophets and expounded in detail.
  7. justtallIf all else fails, skip itOh my heck, did I really just say that?  Yeah.  It’s a last resort, but if it’s a choice between losing your scripture habit and skipping the chapters, just skip them.  If you get really good at your habit, you’ll come back in the future.  The Isaiah chapters are more or less done by the end of 2 Nephi 24, so just jump to 2 Nephi 25.

talltab1Well, that’s about all I know.  Any more ideas?  How do you work your way through Isaiah?  Any tips for the rest of us?

Oh, by the way, here’s a scripture for the day!

3 Nephi 23:1

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

Humility, Joy, and Gladness

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In Humility, Joy, and Gladness

I was sitting in church last week, singing the hymn, “In Humility, Our Savior,” when I began to notice the chord progression on the song.  To myself, I quietly began to sing the Hymn, “On This Day of Joy and Gladness,” and to my surprise, they seemed to fit.

So later I decided to try putting them together, and this is what I came up with.  Interesting, how similar the two are!

– Chas

Click here to see more posts of my hymn arrangements

A New Approach to Scripture Study: Conclusion

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Scripture Marking Methods – Continued… and Concluded

Tab11. Circle the names of people as you come across them so when you hear mention of them later in the chapter, it will be easy to refer back to see who the verse is talking about.
Tab12. Mark “if” and “then” statements, and connect them.  Any time the word “if” shows up in the scriptures, there is likely a promise or warning that follows.  Mark and connect them.
Tab13. Mark the actions and connect them to the one who did it.
Tab14. Most places mentioned in scripture have multiple events of significance.  Mark places you come across in your reading and link them with anything that happens there.  Use cross-references to make a list of all the events that took place there.
Tab15. Look for scriptural lists, and number the items listed.
Tab16. Look for repetition of words, and link them.
Tab17.Look for chiasmus (Hebrew cross-pattern writing, such as “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first).
Tab18. Write a brief summary of the verses in the margins.
Tab19. Interact with the verses.  Put small comments in the margins, such as, “Nephi, you are AWESOME!” or “that’s gotta hurt!” Just be careful not to get sacreligious!

Scripture quote of the day:

Boyd K. Packer:

“My Book of Mormon also has many notes in the margins and is heavily underlined. I was in Florida once with President Hinckley. He turned from the pulpit and asked for a copy of the scriptures. I handed him my copy. He thumbed through it for a few seconds, turned and handed it back, saying, “I can’t read this. You have got everything crossed out!”

Boyd K. Packer, “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” Liahona, Jan 2002, 71–74

Suggested Talk: Scripture Reading and Revelation, Dallin H. Oaks

So let’s here some of YOUR ideas!  How do you get the most out of scripture study?  What methods have helped you?

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Scripture Marking Methods

TabEveryone who has a strict marking method can tell you that their’s is the absolute most effective method.  You don’t have to burst their bubble by informing them of the fact, but take note of other’s methods, because they may serve you well for a while.  Here are a few that I have come across.  Don’t forget that most of these can use in other types of scripture, such as the words of living prophets and your patriarchal blessing:

Tab1. Take 4 different colors of either pen, pencil, or marker.  Have one color represent promises, one represent warnings, one represent doctrines, and one represent commandments, and underline verses in their appropriate color.  This works especially good for the doctrine and covenants and patriarchal blessings.
Tab2. Watch in your scriptures for the testimony pattern of knowing, feeling, and doing.  use 3 different colors of pen to mark which of the three is being best represented in the verse you are reading.
Tab3. Do the same with the 3 pillars of salvation – the creation, fall, and atonement.  Considering the 3 as categories of doctrines, underline every doctrine you come across in the scriptures with the appropriate category’s color.
Tab4. Mark every reference to Jesus Christ, including every use of any title He has, such as Lord, God, Father, etc.  Especially look for different and unique names referring to Him.
Tab5. Come up with a way to mark the “types” and symbols of Christ that you come across – the foreshadows or reflections of Him.  Mark the type, with a note or cross-reference to the event or scripture that references Christ in that manner. Ex. While reading about Nephi, you might mark the verse about his fleeing into the wilderness  and cross reference it with Christ’s having to flee for His life, or when His parents took Him to Egypt for safety.  The scriptures are jam-packed with such types.  Find and mark them.
Tab6. If you like to be detailed or comprehensive in your marking system, use a variety of marking styles to represent all the different things.  With a mix of both colors and styles, there is virtually no limit to how many marking representations you can have.  Use underlines for one thing, brackets for another, circles for another, etc.  Striped circles, cross-patterns, slashes, boxes, stars, asterisks – even smiley faces can be used to point out a particular thing.  Any of these styles, multiplied by the number of colors you are using, allow you use as many marking methods as you want.  With this method you’ll want to be consistent – perhaps green brackets can always represent prophetic warnings, or blue asterisks always represent when God the Father is speaking.  Make a key to help you remember what represents what.
Tab7. Have different markings to represent your different roles in life, such as mother, father, son, friend.  Include your callings and other duties.  As you come across scriptures that speak to that role, mark it accordingly.
Tab8. Go fishing.  Just get a marking tinsel, and every time you come across a verse you like, mark it.
Tab9. Mark every time Christ is speaking – whether in person, by His voice, or by gentle thoughts of comfort.
Tab10. Use colors to represent things appropriate to that color, such as red to represent the atonement, purple (royalty or power) to mark every time the priesthood is used, green for mention of life or the earth, blue to represent heavenly things, etc.  Use colors that seem most appropriate to you.

To be continued… tomorrow!

A New Approach to Scripture Study: Day

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Internal Methods

Tab flatThe scriptures published by the church are equipped with some incredible tools to enhance your scripture study. Here are some unique ways to use them.

Tab flat1. Turn to Gospels, Harmony of in the Bible Dictionary. Read the four gospels by reading the verses in the order of the events as they happened chronologically.
Tab flat2. Start reading a chapter, looking up every footnote, and turn to every cross-referenced verse. If the reference given is informative enough, look up the footnotes in that reference.
Tab flat3. Pick a topic to study, and then turn to the Topical Guide and look up every verse given.
Tab flat4. Read an entry from the Bible Dictionary and look up the references given in it.

External Source Methods

Tab flat1. Get out a good, comprehensive Bible dictionary or one that has the Hebrew/Greek/English translations of words in the Bible. As you come across various words in your reading, look up the original meanings of the words. Search for alternate translations of the words, and draw insights from the meanings you find.
Tab flat2. Use the Sunday school, institute, and seminary manuals as a guide to your study. Most of them have a study program, and all have great commentary that is approved and authorized by the church. Read the commentary and do the assignments.
Tab flat3. Look up great quotes by general authorities. Write or print them onto a small paper and glue them into your scriptures next to an appropriate verse. They come in very handy for talks or spiritual thoughts.

Scripture quote of the day:

Thomas S. Monson:

First, study diligently. Every holder of the priesthood should 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. Learn the background and setting of the Master’s parables and the prophets’ admonitions. Study them as though they were speaking to you, for such is the truth.

Thomas S. Monson, “Be Your Best Self,” Ensign, May 2009, 67–70

Suggested talk: A Reservoir of Living Water, David A. Bednar

A New Approach to Scripture Study: Day 5

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Scripture Journal Methods

Tab flat1. Re-write the scriptures in your own words.  If you find it too hard to understand a verse enough to reword it, study the verse with footnotes, commentaries, and the words of modern prophets until you understand it well enough to understand it.
Tab flat2. As you read, look for any insights you can draw from the verses and write them in your scripture journal.
Tab flat3. For each verse, write a personal application of the verse.
Tab flat4. Listen to audio scriptures and take notes in your journal.  If you struggle to get enough notes to write, just try to Continue reading