Affliction Resilience: Mr. Go-and-Do’s Tip for a Great Life

Cartoon by hartboy on flickr

“…and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days…”

These are clearly the words of an optimist. Nephi wasn’t kidding when he said he’s seen many afflictions in the course of his days. Can you imagine having to leave your home, your bank account, and everyone you’ve ever known (other than your immediate family,) to go blaze a trail to an undiscovered country and settle there? Oh, and let’s just make you the leader of the new colony, too.

You’ve probably heard someone point out that Laman and Lemuel did do the things they were asked to do. They did leave Jerusalem with their riches. They did go get the plates. They did go back for Ishmael’s family. They did help build the boat. They even crossed the ocean like God commanded. What was the difference? Their attitude. They complained every step of the way, and tried every which way to get out of their duties. They never killed their father or brother, but they highly considered it. In the end, their attitude destroyed them and their posterity.

But what about Nephi? Didn’t he complain? As far as we know, he never did. He suffered all the same things his brothers did (including guilt – see 2 Ne. 4: 17), and though even his father complained at one point, it seems that Nephi never did.

I guess it’s too late for me to become like Nephi in that sense, but I can change. I can become one who doesn’t complain, doesn’t resist duties, and doesn’t put off what I should be doing.

In case at this point you’re experiencing doubts about my assertion that Nephi never complained, check this out:

1 And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth. And we did travel and wade through much affliction in  the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the  wilderness.

Sounds like he might be ready to complain, right? Here are his next words:

2 And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.

Did you catch that?! “We only get to eat raw meat, but it’s totally awesome, because the babies are still getting good mommy Juice – and these moms, by the way, are as buff as the guys, thank you very much. No complaints here!”

The closest some of us could come to saying something like Nephi said would probably be to tell about how there are plenty of things that suck about having children.

Wow, we’ve got a lot of growing to do!

Of course our ultimate goal is to become like the Savior, Jesus Christ, but I think emulating Nephi is a step in the right direction!

I

1 Nephi 1:1
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

I’m trying an experiment. I’ve found that writing is a form of pondering – a very powerful form of pondering, so I’m going to try reading the Book of Mormon slowly, writing about each verse. I would guess that this is the most widely read verse in the whole Book of Mormon, simply because it is the first verse. If I were going to explore the scriptures verse by verse, trying to get as much out of them as possible, I might start with a few questions about how this verse starts. I ask these questions, either because I don’t know the answer, or in hopes that in exploring the answers I already know, I might learn something new.
Why does Nephi write in first person? As far as I can tell, Moses, Isaiah, and most of the Old Testament prophets wrote in third person. Why then does Nephi choose 1st person for his narrative?

There you go. I’m already stuck on the word, “I.” I’ve just been doing a bit of searching, and so far I can’t find a reason. Any Ideas?

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.

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

A New Approach to Scripture Study: Day 4

scripturescreative

Creative Study

Tab flat1. Read the scriptures as if reciting a monologue.  Find a place alone where no one will hear you.  Read the verses aloud with as much feeling as you can, keeping the context in mind.  In the war verses, read them quickly as if telling a frightening story.  On the spiritual parts, read them as if giving a fantastic fireside talk, or as if you were the prophet speaking to the people.
Tab flat2. Find a quiet place where you can concentrate well without distractions.  Then begin reading slowly, picturing the scene in your mind.  Work hard to get a detailed picture of the scene in your mind, including the faces and expressions on each of the people in the verses (perhaps put appropriate actors faces on the characters).  Then read as if watching the movie in your mind. notice every movement.  Don’t rush through.  See every expression, every arm movement, and a detailed background.  Remember, when reading the scriptures, you don’t have to get through entire chapters.  Take your time, and enjoy the movie!
Tab flat3. Open your hymnbook to a favorite hymn, or else one you sang recently in church.  Read through the words, and then look up the scripture verses at the end.
Tab flat4. Write a hymn, with the scriptures as a guide.  Keep it as scripturally based as possible.
Tab flat5. Consider one of your favorite hobbies, such as music, art, or athletics.  See what you can find in the scriptures about your hobby.  If it is a constructive hobby, then it has a place in God’s plan.  Use the scriptures to try to learn that purpose.  Once you’ve learned some things, commit to the Lord that you will more fully use your talent for the purpose that He has ordained.
Tab flat6. Listen to audio scriptures while doing a creative activity, such as drawing, sculpting, or sewing. If the activity is the type of activity that doesn’t distract your thoughts, it will likely help you concentrate better.
Tab flat7. If you play an instrument, listen to audio scriptures, and try to play in order to match the mood and message of the verses.
Tab flat8. Listen to instrumental music while you read, and try to read with the pace of the music so the music matches the words.
Tab flat9. If you enjoy drawing simple quick cartoons, read the scriptures, looking for places that you might draw simple cartoons of the subject (such as paths, people, wars, plates, temples, etc.) next to the verses that you like.  This will have the same effect as simply underlining a verse, since the next time you’re looking for the verse, you’ll be able to easily locate it, and the cartoon will help you quickly identify the subject of the scripture.

Scripture quote of the day:

President Kimball:

“I ask us all to honestly evaluate our performance in scripture study. It is a common thing to have a few passages of scripture at our disposal, floating in our minds, as it were, and thus to have the illusion that we know a great deal about the gospel. In this sense, having a little knowledge can be a problem indeed. I am convinced that each of us, at some time in our lives, must discover the scriptures for ourselves—and not just discover them once, but rediscover them again and again”

(Ensign, Sept. 1976, p. 4)

Suggested talk: Likening the Scriptures Unto Ourselves

A New Approach to Scripture Study: Day 3

Family Scripture Study

Family Scripture Study

Tab flat1. Discuss something that one of the family members learned in their personal scripture study.

Tab flat2. Look at the other lists, choose a method, and modify it to work for family scripture study.

Tab flat3. With every verse you read, discuss how the scripture applies to our time, our families, and our individual lives.

Studying with Young Children

Tab flat1. Perform the scriptures – act out the stories with your children.

Tab flat2. Have stuffed animals (each with its own unique voice) do the reading.

Tab flat3. Read it like a melodrama – have the kids BOOO! or YAY! depending on what’s happening in the scripture story you are reading.

Tab flat4. After reading a scripture story, have each child draw what happened in the story. Put the pictures in their scripture journals or in a family journal.

Tab flat5. Get dolls and action figures to act out what happens in the scriptures. If it is a sermon chapter, have the animal act like the one who is speaking.

Tab flat6. Have the kids draw what they hear as you read out loud.

Scripture quote of the day:

James E. Faust:

In the future, infrequent family scripture study may be inadequate to arm our children with the virtue necessary to withstand the moral decay of the environment in which they will live. Where in the world will the children learn chastity, integrity, honesty, and basic human decency if not at home? These values will, of course, be reinforced at church, but parental teaching is more constant.

James E. Faust, “A Thousand Threads of Love,” Ensign, Oct 2005, 2–7

Suggested Talk: Reading His Words Together